OREALD.COM - An Old Electronic Library
eng: a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Reign of Henry the Eighth - (Continued) page 16


Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 <16>

Henry had accomplished his long striven-for object: he had deposed his old queen, and secured his new one; he had assumed great power over the Church, and derived some wealth from it, but he had no satisfaction in it. His movements had originated in passion, not in principle; he was no Reformer by nature, but fast bound in the prejudices of his education, and he felt a constant longing to reconcile himself again with the Pope. His proceedings were nowhere popular. Over the whole of Europe Catherine was an object of sincere sympathy. In his own dominions we have seen the vehemence of popular expression against his marriage, and the women were more indignant than the men. In his own Court, and amongst the very relatives of Anne Boleyn, he found stout partisans of the discarded queen. The wife of Anne's own brother, the Countess of Rochford, had been lady of the bedchamber to Catherine, and with other Court ladies were so open and violent in condemning the treatment of her, that Henry sent Lady Rochford and another lady of high rank to the Tower.

On the other hand, the Pope was as unwilling to break entirely with Henry. England was a valuable fief of the Holy See, but Clement was held tight to his opposition to Henry's proceedings by the emperor, who may be said, with his aunt, Queen Catherine, to have been far more really the artificers of the severance of England from Rome, than Henry, Cranmer, or Anne Boleyn. If Queen Catherine had submitted readily to the divorce, induced by an easy disposition or the offer of rewards and honours, and if Charles had not exerted all his power and all his menaces to keep the Pope firm, there would have come no break with Henry. As it was, led by their mutual regrets, and by the active offices of Francis I., who was eager to join a fresh coalition against Charles, the Pope consented to meet Henry's ambassadors at Marseilles. In July, under the influence of Charles and his brother Ferdinand, he had annulled the sentence of divorce pronounced by Cranmer, and excommunicated Henry and Anne if they did not separate before the end of September; and now on the 25th of September, he embarked on board the French fleet to meet Francis and the English envoys. No sooner, however, was it settled that Clement and Francis should meet than Henry was seized with alarm lest they should enter into a secret league prejudicial to him. He sent over to Francis the Duke of Norfolk, accompanied by the Viscount Rochford, Parolet, Brown, and Bryan, with a retinue of 160 horsemen, as if to accompany Francis, but in reality furnished with secret instructions to dissuade Francis from proceeding to the interview, and offering him a large subsidy if he would countenance him by establishing a patriarch in France, and forbid the transmission of money to the papal treasury. When Francis refused to listen to this advice, Henry recalled the Duke of Norfolk, who was a zealous Catholic, and whom Henry probably thought too anxious to agree with the Pope, and sent in his place the Bishop of Winchester and Bryan.

These envoys professed that they were come to execute the wishes of Francis, and encouraged by this, Francis refused to proceed with other business until Clement had done everything possible to arrange amicably the affairs of Henry. Great, therefore, was the astonishment of both the Pope and the King of France to find, on proceeding to this business, that these ambassadors had come unfurnished with any powers to treat either with the Pontiff or the French King. They were only commissioned to watch the proceedings, and report them to their master. Henry, with all his desire of reconciliation, was still in constant fear of committing himself, and finding that the Pope had been prevailed on to decide against him, Francis insisted that the envoys should dispatch a messenger for Ml powers to treat; and, in the meantime, a marriage was concluded betwixt the Duke of Orleans, the son of Francis, and Catherine de Medici, the niece of Clement, an alliance which proved a great curse to France. The result of the dispatch to England appeared in the arrival of Bonner, afterwards Bishop of London, and one of the bitterest persecutors who ever lived, who, on the 7th of November, instead of proceeding to an accordance with Francis and the Pope, to their amazement presented from Henry an appeal from the Pope to a general council.

This unexpected renunciation İf the authority of the Pope spoke plainly the distrust in Henry's mind of him, or of the influence behind him, All parties were now aiming at impossibilities. Henry would fain be reconciled with the ancient Church, but he was mortally afraid of the power of Charles over the Pontiff, and these fears were sedulously stimulated by the party at home, headed by Cromwell, Cranmer, and his own queen. Clement desired the reunion, but was a puppet in the hands of the emperor: and Francis was bent upon his own views without possessing the confidence of either the Pope or Henry. Both Clement and Francis resented the conduct of Henry, yet neither was willing to give him up. Bonner pretended that the appeal to a council would throw no real obstacles in the way, and Francis, knowing that the Bishop of Bayonne stood well with Henry, sent him to London to propose that he should undertake the management of his affair with the Pope. Henry readily consented, and the bishop, in high spirits, hastened back, proceeded to Rome in the depth of winter, and set zealously to work to bring the matter to a favourable issue. The concession which the bishop flattered himself that he should now obtain was, that the divorce should be once more tried in England, and that the Pope should ratify the sentence, and England should remain in full obedience to the Papal See. So conceding did Henry appear, that he authorised the Bishop of Bayonne to promise, not merely obedience, but benefits to Rome, in proportion to the readiness of Clement to oblige him.

The long-contested question of the divorce, and the threatened consequence - severance of England from the Papal See - now appeared in a fair way of being settled. They were never farther off from such a consummation. However sincere and earnest the two principals in this contest, the Pope and Henry, might be, there were at work in the Court of England and the Court of Rome parties really more powerful than their principals, who were resolved that the two desiderata to this pacification never should be yielded. No sooner had the Bishop of Bayonne set out for Rome, than Cromwell and his party commenced an active campaign in Parliament for breaking beyond remedy the tie with Rome, and establishing an independent church in this country. This able man, who for his past services was now made Chancellor of the Exchequer for life, framed two bills, and introduced them to Parliament, soon after the Christmas holidays. The first was an act establishing the title of the king as supreme head of the English Church, and vesting in him the right to appoint to all bishoprics, and to decide all ecclesiastical causes. All payments or appeals to Rome were strictly forbidden; and the submission of the clergy to these ^enactments, which in the former bill confined it to one year, was made perpetual, by the omission of that qualification.

By the second bill, the marriage of Catherine, strangely enough at the very moment that Henry had conceded its final decision at Rome, was declared unlawful, and that of Anne Boleyn confirmed. The issue by the first marriage was declared illegitimate, and excluded from the succession, and the issue of the marriage of Anne was made inheritable of the crown, and that only and any one casting any slander on this marriage, or endeavouring to prejudice the succession of its issue, was declared guilty of high treason, if by writing, printing, or deed, and misprision of treason if by word. Thus was a new power established by the crown; every person of full age, or on hereafter coming to full age, were to be sworn to obey this act. Not only new powers were thus created, but a new crime invented; and though this statute was swept away in the course of a few years, yet it is a remarkable one, for it became the precedent for many a succeeding and despotic government.

Thus Henry, at the very time that hİ appeared anxiously seeking reconciliation with Rome, was in reality severing himself from it. Who shall say what were his reasonings on the subject? Was it his love of power which induced him, as it were, against his own wishes, to accept these measures from his ministers and Parliament? or did he hope to receive a favourable and irrevocable decision from Rome, before these strange proceedings became known? Be that as it may, at Rome, where, too, the king's agent, the zealous Bishop of Bayonne, was flattering himself with success, the party of the emperor and of Catherine acquired the ascendancy, and the consistory decided not against the validity of Catherine's marriage, but for it!

On the 23rd of March, 1534, the consistory in Rome pronounced this important decision, and on the 30th of the same month the royal assent was given in London to these bills. It is stated by De Bellay that the Papal Court were waiting for the receipt of a despatch from Henry, assenting to his return to obedience to the Papal See, and that the messenger not arriving, the imperial influence pushed forward the decision, and that the very next day Henry's messenger arrived, bringing his full acquiescence. The story is piquant and startling, but it does not appear to be fact. Both parties seem to have been using every exertion to carry their point, and the passing of these bills through both Lords and Commons on the 20th of March, three days only before the act of the consistory, shows that the English party was proceeding without any reference to what was agitating in Rome; and even the date of the royal assent to those bills, the 30th of March, does not allow time for the decision at Rome to have arrived, and produced, as it has been said, the determination of Henry to sanction the acts.

In Rome the Imperialists received the decision of the consistory with transports and acclamations of joy. They fired cannon, they lit bonfires, they cried through the streets, "The emperor and Spain," as if they had won a great victory; and in truth they had, but it was at the cost to the Church of Rome of the fairest and the most affluent of its tributary kingdoms. The emperor had given to the Popedom a blow which time was never destined to repair, and for which all the vast realms of the rejoicing Charles could furnish no recompense.

Thus was the religious independence of England - drawing after it, as a necessary sequence, civil liberty - established for ever. It is by far the most memorable day in the history, not only of England, but of modern Europe; and it has been well said by an historian of the last age, that "those who believe in an over-ruling Providence, and think the reformation of religion has been a blessing to England, will gratefully acknowledge its influence on this occasion." This great revolution was brought about by those who were its greatest enemies.

<<< Previous page <<<
Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 <16>

Pictures for Reign of Henry the Eighth - (Continued) page 16

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 >>>>

Home | Privacy Policy | Copyright | About