Reign of Henry the Eighth - (Continued) page 15
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.
The two monarchs had proclaimed with great diligence that the object of their meeting was to concert an expedition against the Turks, but it is more probable that Henry sought to induce Francis to cooperate with him, and withdraw from the Court of Rome - a circumstance which would have been equally detrimental to the Pope and the emperor; but Francis was not prepared for so violent a measure - in fact, he had no stubborn desire to spur him on to it. It is said that Francis, during the interview, had urged Henry to wait no longer for the permission of the Pope, but to marry the Marchioness of Pembroke without further delay; but it is quite certain that another counsellor was more urgent, and that was - Time. It was high time, indeed, that the marriage should take place, if they meant to legitimate his child, for Anne Boleyn was far advanced in her pregnancy. Accordingly, the marriage took place some time about now, but there are various accounts of the time and place of this event. Some authors affirm that she was privately married to the king at Dover, the same day as they returned from France; others that the nuptials were secretly performed in the presence of her father and mother, and of the Duke and Duchess of Norfolk, in the chapel of Sopewell Nunnery. To that nunnery, Anne, indeed, retired for some purpose immediately on her return from France, and Henry, who could not visit her in the nunnery, is said by tradition to have met her, occasionally, at a yew-tree, about a mile from that convent. There is also a tradition that she was married at Blickling Hall, in Norfolk; but Wyatt, her great admirer, as well as Stowe and Godwin, with far more probability, assert that this event took place in the following manner and place, on St. Paul's day, January 25th, 1533.
"On the morning of that day," says a contemporary, "at a very early hour, Dr. Rowland Lee, one of the royal chaplains, received the unwonted order to celebrate mass in an unfrequented attic in the west turret of Whitehall. There he found the king, attended by Norris and Heneage, two of the grooms of the chamber, and the Marchioness of Pembroke, attended by her train-bearer, Anne Saville, afterwards Lady Berkeley. On being requested to perform the nuptial rite between his sovereign and the marchioness in the presence of the three witnesses assembled, the chaplain hesitated; but Henry is said to have assured him that the Pope had pronounced in favour of the divorce, and that he had the dispensation for a second marriage in his possession. As soon as the marriage ceremony had been performed, the parties separated in silence before it was light; and Viscount Rochford, the brother of the bride, was dispatched to announce the event in confidence to Francis I."
This marriage was kept so secret that it was not even communicated to Cranmer, who had just returned from Germany, and taken up his abode in the family of Anne Boleyn. Cranmer whilst in Germany had married, Catholic priest as he was, the niece of Osiander, the Protestant minister of Nuremberg. This lady he had brought secretly to England, and was now living a married priest, in direct violation of the Church that he belonged to. Archbishop Warham was now dead, and Henry nominated Cranmer to the vacant primacy. He was consecrated Archbishop of Canterbury on the 30th of March, 1533, and he was immediately ordered to proceed with the divorces. The new primate, therefore, wrote on the 11th of April, a formal letter to the king, soliciting the issue of a commission to try that cause, and pronounce a definite sentence. This was immediately done; and Cranmer, as the head of this commission, accompanied by Gardiner, now Bishop of Winchester, the Bishops of London, Lincoln, Bath and Wells, with many other divines and canonists, opened their court at Dunstable, in the monastery of St. Peter's, six miles from Ampthill, where the queen resided. To this court they summoned both the king and the queen. Henry appeared by proxy; but Catherine ignored the court and its proceedings altogether. It was not likely, indeed, that, having denied all authority in the matter but that of the Pope, she should now recognise a tribunal which was proceeding as the devoted instrument of a monarch who had declared, in a letter to those very judges, that he, their sovereign, recognised no superior on earth, but only God, and was not subject to the laws of any earthly creature. All officers and institutions - the Church itself - had now shown that it was scarcely influenced by any law or motive but the will and fear of this self-inflated king. Parliament and Convocation had heaped fresh insults upon Catherine before proceeding to try her. Parliament, acting on the dicta of Cranmer and of Cromwell, had passed an act, strictly prohibiting any appeals to the Court of Rome, so that Catherine was cut oft' from all application to the only authority that she acknowledged; and another, stripping her of the title of queen, and designating her solely as the Princess Dowager of Wales, the widow of Prince Arthur, her first and only lawful husband. On the 12th of April Henry again-and now openly-solemnised his marriage with Anne Boleyn.
Dr. Lee, the same clergyman who had married Henry to Anne, was sent to cite Catherine to appear. Every precaution was used to prevent Catherine knowing that it was intended by this court to proceed to a final judgment; but that mattered little; for, from first to last, she disallowed the authority of any trial by the king's subjects. On the 12th of May Cranmer pronounced Catherine contumacious, and on the 23rd, that her marriage was null and invalid from the beginning. On the 28th, in a court held at Lambeth, the archbishop pronounced the king's marriage with Anne Boleyn to be good and valid. On the 1st of June, being Whit Sunday, Anne was crowned with every possible degree of pomp and display. She was first brought by the Lord Mayor from the palace at Greenwich in a gay procession of barges to the Tower. Then, after some days, a brilliant procession of noblemen, great prelates, and ambassadors, conducted her through the streets of London in an open litter covered with cloth of gold shot with white, and the two palfreys which supported the litter clad, heads and all, in a garb of white damask. The queen was dressed in a surcoat of silver tissue, and a mantle of the same lined with ermine. Her dark tresses were worn flowing down her shoulders; but on her head she wore a coif with a circlet of precious rubies. Over her head was borne a canopy carried by four knights on foot.
The streets were hung with crimson and scarlet, and that part of Cheapside with cloth of gold and velvet, There were all sorts of pageants, in which pagan deities mingled freely with Christian emblems. No coronation had ever been witnessed at Westminster more costly or brilliant. Anne, being now far advanced in pregnancy, must have found it a most fatiguing ceremony. Cranmer, of course, placed the crown upon her head.
Henry, notwithstanding his separation from Rome, was anxious to obtain the sanction of his marriage by the Pope; but instead of that, Clement fulminated his denunciations against him over Europe. He annulled Cranmer's sentence on Henry's first marriage, and published a bull excommunicating Henry and Anne, unless they separated before the next September, when the new queen expected her confinement, Henry dispatched ambassadors to the different foreign courts to announce his marriage, and the reasons which had led him to it; but from no quarter did he receive much gratulation. One person in particular wrote to him in the most cutting and unsparing strain. This was Cardinal Pole, a near kinsman of his, whom he had used great endeavours to win to his side.
When the bishoprics of Winchester and York became vacant by the death of Wolsey, the king would fain have conferred one of them on Pole, whom he had educated and destined for the highest offices of the Church. The young clergyman could not conscientiously approve of Henry's divorce scheme, and accordingly fell under his displeasure. Henry, however, permitted him to retire to the Continent, and, having been educated in Italy, he there soon received the, cardinal's hat from the Pope.
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