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Reign of Henry the Eighth - (Continued) page 14


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"Wolsey. Cromwell, I did not think to shed a tear
In all my miseries; but thou hast forced me,
Out of thy honest truth, to play the woman.
Let's dry our eyes; and thus far hear me, Cromwell;
And, when I am forgotten, as I shall be,
And sleep in dull, cold marble, where no mention
Of me more must be heard of, say, I taught thee -
Say Wolsey, that once trod the ways of glory,
And sounded all the depths and shoals of honour,
Found thee a way out of his wreck to rise in;
A sure and safe one, though thy master missed it.
Mark but my fall, and that that ruined me.
Cromwell, I charge thee, fling away ambition;
By this sin fell the angels: how can man, then,
The image of his Maker, hope to win by't?
Love thyself last: cherish those hearts that hate thee;
Corruption wins not more than honesty.
Still in thy right hand carry gentle peace,
To silence envious tongues. Be just, and fear not:
Let all the ends thou aim'st at be thy country's,
Thy God's and truth's: then if thou fall'st, O Cromwell,
Thou fall'st a blessed martyr."

Arrived at Court, Cromwell conducted himself with so much address, that he was continued in the stewardship of the monastic estates which had fallen into the hands of Wolsey, and now of the king. This position necessarily brought him into the frequent presence of Henry, who, like Wolsey, soon discovered the able and accomplished character of the man. When, therefore, Henry expressed his disgust with the obstacles interposed in the way of the divorce, and his impatient declaration that he would now abandon the attempt for ever, had been carried to Anne Boleyn, and dismay had seized on her and all her adherents, the moment was come for a man like Cromwell to step in, and show the pre-eminence of his own genius and courage,

The day after this declaration of the king's had thrown the whole Court into despair, Cromwell sought an interview with Henry, and, determined, according to his own phrase, "to make or mar," thus addressed him: - "It was not," he observed, "for him to affect to give advice, where so many wise and abler men had failed, but when he saw the anxiety of his sovereign, he could no longer be silent, whatever might be the result. It might appear presumption in him to judge, but he thought the difficulties of His Majesty arose from the timidity of his counsellors, who were deterred by outward appearances, and mislead by the opinions of the vulgar. But what were the real facts? The most famous universities, the most learned men, had pronounced in favour of the divorce. What, then, prevented the divorce? The terrors of the Pope. Now, that might be all very well so far as the Pope was concerned, but that did not concern the real case, or the King of England. Let the Pope guard himself against the resentment of the emperor if he chose, but why should the cowardice of Clement cause Henry to forego his rights? There was a clear and obvious course to pursue. Let the king do just what the princes of Germany had done, throw off the yoke of Borne; and let him, by the authority, declare himself, as he should be, the head of the Church within his own dominions. At present England was a monster with two heads. But let the king assume the authority now usurped by a foreign pontiff, an authority from which so many evils and confusions to this realm had flowed, and the monstrosity would be at an end; all would be simple, harmonious, and devoid of difficulty. The clergy, sensible that their lives and fortunes were in the hands of their own monarch - hands which could be no longer paralysed by alien interference - from haughty antagonists would instantly become the obsequious ministers of his will."

Henry listened to this new doctrine with equal wonder and delight, and he thanked Cromwell heartily, and had him instantly sworn of his privy council.

No time was lost in trying the efficacy of Cromwell's daring scheme. It was one at which the stoutest heart and most iron resolution might have trembled, to sever that ancient union which had existed so many ages, and was hallowed in the eyes of the world by so many proud recollections; but Cromwell had taken a profound survey of the region he was about to invade, and had learned its- weakest places. He relied on the unscrupulous impetuosity of the king's passion to bear him through; he relied far more on the finesse of his own genius. With the calmest resolution, he laid his finger on one single page of the statute-book, and knew that he was master of the Church. The law which rendered any one guilty of a praemunire who received direct favours from the Pope, permitted the monarch to suspend the action of this statute at his discretion. This he had done in the case of Wolsey. When he accepted the legative authority, he took care to obtain a patent under the great seal, authorising the exercise of this foreign power. But Wolsey, when he was called in question for the administration of an office thus especially sanctioned by the Crown, neglected to produce this deed of indemnity, hoping still to be restored to the royal favour, and unwilling to irritate the king by any show of self-defence. There lay the concealed weapon which the shrewd eye of Cromwell had detected, and by which he could overturn the ecclesiastical fabric of ages. He declared, to the consternation of the whole hierarchy, that not only had Wolsey involved himself in all the penalities of a praemunire, but the whole of the clergy with him. They had admitted his exercise of the Papal authority, and thereby were become, in the language of the statute, his fautors and abettors.

Dire was the dismay which at this charge seized on the whole body of the clergy. The council ordered the Attorney-General to file an information against the entire ecclesiastical corps. The convocation assembled in haste, and offered, as the price of a full pardon, 100,000. But still greater was the amazement and dismay of the clergy, when they found that this magnificent sum was rejected unless the convocation consented to declare, in the preamble to the grant, that the king was "the protector and only supreme head of the Church of England." The clergy now opened their eyes to the real and unexampled fact before them. They were called on to renounce the supremacy of the Holy See - to throw down an authority which their ancestors for a thousand years had held to be sacred and inviolable. The convocation, in this unprecedented dilemma, debated the matter for three days, without coming any nearer to a solution of the difficulty. They then held conferences with Cromwell and the Royal Commissioners, in which various expedients were proposed and rejected, until there came a peremptory message from the king, by the Earl of Wiltshire, that he would accept of no qualification of the sentence proposed, except the addition of the words " under God."

Henry had so greedily imbibed the incense offered him in the proposal of Cromwell, that he already began to talk loftily of having no superior but God, and grew furious with Cromwell for not carrying the thing he had promised off-hand, without any regard to its transcendent difficulty. "Mother of God!" he exclaimed, in a towering passion, to Cromwell and the commissioners for the business, "you have played me a shrewd turn. I thought to have made fools of those prelates, and now you have so ordered the business that they are likely to make a fool of me, as they have done of you already. What is this 'quantum per legem Christi liceat?' Go to them again, and let me have the business passed without any 'quantums' or 'tantums.' I will have no 'quantum' nor no 'tantum' in the matter, but let it be done out of hand."

In the end, however, Henry consented to the "quantums" and the "tantums." By his permission, the venerable Archbishop Warham introduced and carried an amendment in the convocation, by which the grant was voted with 'this -clause in the preamble: - "Of which Church and clergy we acknowledge His Majesty to be the chief protector, the only and supreme lord, and, as far as the law of God will allow, the supreme head." The wedge was introduced; the severance was certain: the perfect accomplishment of it only awaited another opportunity for an easier issue. The northern convocation adopted the same language, and voted a grant of 18,840.

Meantime, every effort had been made to bend the Pope to Henry's view of the case; every opportunity had been seized to that end. Early in 1530 an embassy had been sent to Italy to take advantage of an interview about to be had betwixt the Pope and the Emperor at Bologna. The chief envoy on this occasion was the Earl of Wiltshire, the father of Anne Boleyn, accompanied by Stokesley, Bishop of London, Lee, the king's almoner, and Bennet, doctor of laws. To these were added several clergymen, at the head of whom was Cranmer. Henry declared to those about him that this was his last effort, and that, if it failed, he would withdraw from Clement, as a pontiff unfit for his office through ignorance, and still more unfit through simony. On the other hand, the emperor, still pressing the Pope, obtained from him a "breve," forbidding Henry to marry before the publication of his sentence.

Whilst things were in this position, Henry's ambassadors arrived. The Pope still declared he would do all that he possibly could for Henry. But the emperor received them in a very different humour. As soon as the Earl of Wiltshire began to speak, he interrupted him, saying, "Stop, sir! allow your colleagues to speak. You are a party in the cause." The earl, undeterred by this, answered boldly that he stood not there as a father defending the interests of his child, but as a minister representing his sovereign; that if Charles would comply with the wish of Henry, he would be quiet, if not, he would proceed without his permission; and that he now offered him, as the price of his acquiescence, 300,000 crowns, the restoration of the marriage portion of Catherine, and security for her maintenance suitable to her High birth during her life. Charles declared, in reply, that he was not going to sell the honour of his aunt, and that he would support her cause by the means at his disposal. This being the position of things, Cranmer challenged all the learned men of the Papal Court to dispute the question of the king's marriage, but none of them accepted the challenge. The proposal was a very safe one, for the Pope was not likely to permit such a discussion in the very face of the emperor; but it answered Cranmer's object: it highly delighted Henry, who made him ambassador to the emperor; and the Pope, to conciliate Henry, also made him his plenipotentiary in England.

In January, 1531, the brief forbidding Henry to proceed to a marriage with Anne Boleyn, which the Pope had signed, was published by the emperor in Flanders, Henry, to neutralise the effect of this, sent down Sir Thomas More, the Lord Chancellor, attended by twelve peers spiritual and temporal, to the House of Commons, to explain all that the king had done towards the discharge of his conscience and the safety of the realm hereafter, in regard to the divorce. Sir Thomas carried thither a box containing the decrees of the universities and the opinions of learned men, which he placed on the table; whereupon Sir Bryan Tuke opened the box, and took out twelve writings sealed, the decrees of the twelve universities, which he read, translated into English. There were, besides, above 100 books and writings, which there was no time to read; and the speaker bade the members, on their return to their several counties and towns, show to all their neighbours that the king had not done these things for his own will and pleasure, but only for the discharge of his conscience and the security of the succession of the realm. Parliament being prorogued, the king, on the 31st of May, sent a deputation of peers to communicate to the queen the decrees of the universities and the dicta of the learned, and to entreat her to quiet the king's conscience by consenting to the divorce. But Catherine was firm as ever. She said: - "I pray God send his grace a quiet conscience; and this shall be your answer - That I say I am his lawful wife, and to him lawfully married, and by the order of the Holy Church I was to him espoused as his true wife, although not so worthy; and by that point I will abide, till the Court of Rome, which was privy to the beginning, have made thereof a determination and final ending." The king was so enraged at this answer that he never saw her again; and in the month of July she was ordered to quit Windsor. "Go where I may," she said, on receiving this harsh command, "I am still his lawful wife, and will pray for him." No woman ever maintained her just rights with more firmness and true dignity than Catherine of Arragon. She retired first to the Moore in Hertfordshire, then to Easthampstead, and finally to Ampthill, where she continued to reside.

After the prorogation of Parliament, Sir Thomas More, who was sincerely attached to the Catholic religion, begged to be permitted to resign the great seal. He saw that a thorough breach with Rome was inevitable, and he desired to have no hand it. Indeed, Sir Thomas had allowed the spirit of the times already too much to influence his nobler nature. He was one of the most learned, witty, and light-hearted of men. In the silence of his closet he had arrived at the most admirable ideas of the rights of conscience, and in his celebrated work, the "Utopia," he had tolerated all religious opinions in his imaginary kingdom. But on being raised to power he forgot the liberality of his sentiments, and was seized with that very persecuting spirit which he had in his writings so entirely condemned. His treatment of one man is peculiarly disgraceful to a writer who knew so much better. This was James Bainham, a gentleman of the Temple, who was accused of the new opinions, and whom More had taken to his own house, where he ordered him to be whipped in his presence, and then sent him to the Tower, and put him to the torture. This unfortunate gentleman was induced by the force of agonies to abjure his opinions; but returning to them, and openly advocating them, was condemned and burnt in Smith-field, a fate which soon became common to those who denied the dogmas of the Church, against which Henry himself was in arms.

Well had it been for More had he sooner retired from a position which so lamentably injured his spirit and his fame. But having made up his mind to it, he descended to a private station in May, 1532, with the utmost gaiety and contentment, though his family were extremely averse to what they deemed a needless and mortifying sacrifice. The king accepted his resignation with great reluctance, and transferred the great seal to Sir Thomas Audley. Henry, under the guidance of Cromwell, made progressive steps towards this separation which More feared. He now procured an act to be passed by Parliament, abolishing the annats, or first-fruits, which furnished a considerable annual income to the Pope, and another abrogating the authority of the clergy in convocation, and attaching that authority to the Crown. Peeling that in this struggle he should need the friendship of Francis, he proposed a new treaty with France, which was signed in London on the 23rd of June; and, the more to strengthen the alliance, the two monarchs proposed a meeting between Calais and Boulogne. Great preparations were made on both sides, and Henry begged Francis to bring his favourite mistress with him. This was as an excuse for Henry to bring Anne Boleyn, who was now created the Marchioness of Pembroke, and without whom he could go nowhere. Francis did not bring his fair friend to the royal meeting, but Henry paraded his new marchioness in great state before the world. He issued orders for a great train of noblemen, prelates, and gentlemen to assemble at Canterbury on the 26th of September, to attend him to the Continent, and he embarked at Dover on the 11th of October, and landed at Calais the same afternoon. The two kings met in a valley near the marches, on the 21st, and proceeded to Boulogne, where Francis entertained the king and Court of England in the most magnificent manner for four days; and on the fifth the two kings, with their attendants, set out for Calais, where Henry entertained the king and Court of France with equally royal hospitality for the same period of time. On the Sunday evening, Anne got up a masque for the pleasure of the French guests. She came in after supper with seven ladies in masking apparel of strange fashion, made of cloth of gold, slashed with crimson tinsel satin, with tabards of fine cypress. Then the lady marchioness took the French king, the Countess of Derby the King of Navarre, and every lady took a lord. In dancing, King Henry removed the ladies' visors, so that their beauties were shown. The French king then discovered that he had been dancing with an old acquaintance, the lovely English maid of honour to his first queen. He conversed with her awhile apart, and the next morning sent her a jewel worth 15,000 crowns. On the 30th of the month, the two kings mounted their horses, and Henry conducted the French king to the border of his dominions, where they took leave of each other with many protestations of perpetual friendship, as they had done at the Field of the Cloth of Gold.

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Pictures for Reign of Henry the Eighth - (Continued) page 14

Old Greenwich
Old Greenwich >>>>
King Henry and his Council
King Henry and his Council >>>>
Francis I
Francis I >>>>
Louise reading of the Capture of the King
Louise reading of the Capture of the King >>>>
Rhodes in the Sixteenth Century
Rhodes in the Sixteenth Century >>>>
Boudoir of Anne Boleyn
Boudoir of Anne Boleyn >>>>
Residence of Anne Boleyn
Residence of Anne Boleyn >>>>
Entrance to Wolsey's College
Entrance to Wolsey's College >>>>
Queen Anne Boleyn
Queen Anne Boleyn >>>>
Entry of Anne Boleyn into London
Entry of Anne Boleyn into London >>>>
Henry VIII. dancing with Anne Boleyn.
Henry VIII. dancing with Anne Boleyn. >>>>
Antechamber in Hever Castle
Antechamber in Hever Castle >>>>
The Trial of Queen Catherine
The Trial of Queen Catherine >>>>
The Dismissal of Cardinal Wolsey
The Dismissal of Cardinal Wolsey >>>>
Wolsey at Leicester
Wolsey at Leicester >>>>
Ruins of Leicester Abbey
Ruins of Leicester Abbey >>>>
Thomas Cranmer
Thomas Cranmer >>>>
Private Marriage of Anne Boleyn to Henry VIII
Private Marriage of Anne Boleyn to Henry VIII >>>>
Cardinal Pole
Cardinal Pole >>>>
Place of Execution within the Tower of London
Place of Execution within the Tower of London >>>>

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