Reign of Henry the Eighth - (Continued) page 7
Meantime, Sir Francis Pointz had presented his demands to the emperor, which were of such a nature that Charles, aware that they were intended rather to justify a war with him than to be accepted, evaded them, by declaring that he would treat of them with his dear uncle by his ambassadors in England. Seeing, however, that the confederates in Italy were gathering strength, and that should they be reinforced by an army from France, kept on pay by Henry of England, the Pope would be taken out of his hands without having been of any profit to him, he sent orders to Moncada, his minister at Rome, to alarm the fears of His Holiness, and to extract as much money as he could out of him. Moncada managed so well, that the Pope, impatient for his liberty, agreed never to take any part against the emperor in Italy again; to pay 100,000 crowns down, another 100,000 in a fortnight, and 150,000 at the end of three months, besides granting to the emperor the tenth of all ecclesiastical revenues in Spain. The unfortunate Pope paid the first instalment, and then contrived to make his escape to Orvieto, whence he wrote to the King of England and to Wolsey, thanking them for their effectual interposition in his favour.
But the time was now approaching which was to interrupt the friendship of Henry with the head of the Church of Rome. Providence, through the headlong passions and unrestrainable will of Henry VIII., was preparing a marvellous revolution in the Church, and an opening to the liberty of religious faith in England, which tie was the last of all men to occasion or to grant from the freedom of his opinions or the liberality of his inquiries. The Reformation in Germany had made an immense progress, and produced the most astonishing events. The whole mind and intellect of that country had been convulsed by the preaching of the doctrines of Luther. State had been set against state, prince against prince; and the bold monk of Wittemberg had only escaped the vengeance of the Church of Rome by the undaunted championship of the Elector of Saxony. In England, the reformed faith, derived from Wickliffe and the Lollards, had been making steady, wide, but silent progress; but little of this had risen into the region of the Court or the Government, for there Henry and his Spanish Queen were firmly attached to the Catholic Church, and any demonstration of any other religion would have brought down on the professor of it the sudden thunders of the arbitrary king and his pompous and all-powerful minister. Henry, fond of school divinity from his youth, and a great reader and admirer of Thomas Aquinas, had looked across to Germany with a grim and truculent glance, which seemed to rest on the blunt and unconventional reformer with an expression of one who longed to strike down the daring heretic, and rid the world of him. As this was out of his power, he determined to annihilate him by his pen; and for this purpose he had written a book against him, with the title of " A Treatise on the Seven Sacraments, against Martin Luther, the Heresiarch, by the Illustrious Prince Henry VIII." This he had caused to be presented to the Pope by the English ambassador, beautifully written and magnificently bound, and Leo X. received it with the most extravagant laudations, and conferred on Henry the title of "Defender of the Faith," in a bull signed by himself and twenty-seven cardinals.
Henry really believed, for some time, that he had crushed Luther and all his sect, but the free-mouthed reformer, who paid no flatteries to king or Pope, soon convinced the literary monarch that he was as much alive as ever. He wrote a reply to Henry, in which, giving him commendation for writing in elegant language, he abused him and his work as broadly as he would have done that of the obscurest mortal. Henry, in his estimation, was a fool, a liar, an ass, and a blasphemer. Henry complained to Luther's patron, the Elector of Saxony, and Luther tried to write an apology; but it turned out to be a more bitter infliction than the original, for he excused his rudeness by saying that he now believed the book not to be written by Henry himself, but to have been falsely attributed to him. He went further, and abused the Cardinal Wolsey in good round terms, pronouncing him the bane of England, "the caterpillar," "the monster," "the nuisance to God and man." He concluded by offering to write a book in praise of Henry, insinuating that he was quite o: opinion that Henry was in secret a favourer of the new doctrines. This was worse than all. If ever there was a man puffed with vanity of his handiwork it was Henry; if ever there was a bigot to the old opinions, he was that man; and to find himself treated as a sham author, a protector of a mischievous minister, and a secret disciple of the heretics, was too much for his endurance. He again took the field with his pen, owned himself the author of the book, defended Wolsey as the best, the most faithful, religious, and beloved of men and declared that he should now love him the more for Luther's abuse. He did not forget to taunt Luther with marrying a nun, he being a monk: and Luther, incensed at this reception of that for which he expected praise, declared that he deserved this treatment, for the folly of supposing "that virtue could exist in a Court, or that Christ might be found in a place where Satan reigned." Henceforth, he said, let his enemies beware; he would use no more blandishments, but treat them according to their deserts.
The great defender of the faith, at the time at which we are now arrived, was growing dissatisfied with his wife, and was about to seek a divorce from her, which must necessarily involve the Pope in difficulties with the queen's nephew, the emperor. Henry was married to Catherine when she was in her twenty-sixth year. So long as the disparity of their ages did not appear, for he was five or six years younger, and she was pleasing in her person, he appeared not only satisfied with, but really attached to her. But she was now forty-two years of age, had undergone much anxiety in her earlier years in England, had borne the king five children, three sons and two daughters, all of whom died in their infancy, except the Princess Mary, who lived to mount the throne. Catherine, of late years, had suffered much in her health, and we may judge from the best-known portrait of her that she had now lost her good looks, and had a bowed-down and sorrow-stricken air.
Anne Boleyn had been living in France, at first as attendant on Mary, King Henry's sister, the queen of Louis XII., and afterwards in the family of the Duke of Alencon. She returned to England on the breaking out of the war with Francis L, in 1521 or 1522; and seems, by her beauty, wit, and accomplishments, to have created a great sensation in the English Court, where she was soon attached to the service of Queen Catherine. Henry is said to have first met her by accident, in her father's garden, at Hever Castle, in Kent; and was so charmed with her that he told Wolsey that ho had been "discoursing with a young lady who had the wit of an angel, and was worthy of a crown." She is supposed at that time to have been about one-and-twenty, tall, of a most graceful figure, of a brunette complexion, and extremely accomplished. Her great admirer, Sir Thomas Wyatt, the celebrated poet, describes her as of "a beauty not so whitely, clear, and fresh, but above all we may esteem; which appeareth much more excellent by her favour, passing sweet and cheerful, and was enhanced by her whole presence of shape and fashion, representing both mildness and majesty, more than can be expressed." He is quite rapturous about her musical skill and the sweetness of her voice, both in singing and speaking. ''Beauty and sprightliness sat on her lips," says Sanders; "in readiness of repartee, skill in the dance, and in playing on the lute, she was unsurpassed."
Such was Anne Boleyn when the fading beauty of Queen Catherine ceasing to retain the eye of her unscrupulous husband, it fell on this fascinating object, brilliant with all the gaiety of youth and the graces of her foreign education.
At the Court of Henry she was soon surrounded by lovers; but a real attachment seems to have sprung up betwixt her and Lord Percy, the son of the Duke of Northumberland. Percy was in attendance on Wolsey, and had thus daily opportunity of seeing Anne at Court. But the jealous eye of Henry soon detected this attachment; and he sent for Wolsey in great wrath; chiding him for permitting this engagement, and insisting on its being broken off. The poor young nobleman was severely snubbed by Wolsey, who sent for the duke; and they forced the young man into a marriage with Lady Mary Talbot, daughter of the Earl of Shrewsbury, for whom he had no affection. Anne Boleyn was sent for a time home to her father's. It was clear that Henry had now marked Mistress Anne, as she was called, out for himself, and woe betide any man who should cross his path. After a time, Anne was recalled to Court, and Henry soon avowed his passion for her. The proud beauty had probably received a lesson from the fate of her sister, and she replied to the royal lover with great dignity: "Your wife I cannot be, both in respect of mine own unworthiness, and also because you have a queen already; your mistress I will not be."
Anne was probably still smarting under the loss of her accepted lover, Lord Percy; and, believing that the cardinal had had a chief hand in that matter, she never forgave him; and the tearing asunder those two young-hearts eventually contributed no little towards his fall. But now Mistress Anne must have begun to see that there was a mover in it beyond the cardinal. There is every reason to believe that Anne did not forgive the royal lover either this circumstance for a long time. She disappeared several years from the Court at this time, and is supposed to have gone back to France. Her father, now created Viscount Rochford, was ambassador in France about this time, and Anne was probably with him, and is said to have returned with him at his recall this year, 1527. Henry's passion had by no means cooled, and the lady would appear to have been more disposed to receive his addresses; for, says Cavendish, "at last knowing the king's pleasure, and the depth of his secrets, she began to look very haughty and stout, lacking no manner of rich apparels or jewels that money could purchase."
The understanding betwixt Henry and Anne Boleyn now became obvious to the whole Court. The queen saw it as clearly as any one else, and upbraided Henry with it, but does not seem to have used any harshness to Anne on that account, though she occasionally gave her some sharp rubs. For instance, the queen was playing at cards with Anne Boleyn when she thus addressed her, "My Lady Anne, you have the good hap ever to stop at a king; but you are like others, you will have all or none." Cavendish, Wolsey's secretary, says the queen, at this trying crisis, "behaved like a very patient Grissel."
Henry now having resolved to marry Anne Boleyn, as he found he could obtain her on no other terms, felt himself incontinently afflicted with lamentable scruples of conscience for being married to his brother's widow, and entertaining equally afflicting doubts of the power of the Pope to grant a dispensation for such a marriage. For seventeen years these scruples had rested in his bosom without disturbing a moment of his repose. It is true that these doubts had been started before the marriage by Archbishop Warham, but they had no weight with Henry or his father. Henry had gone into the marriage at the age of eighteen with his eyes open, having some time before, by his father's order, made a protest against it for state purposes, and had been ever since, till he saw Anne Boleyn, not only contented but jovial. Now, however, he soon ceased to be merely scrupulous - he became positive that his marriage was unlawful, and set to work to write a book to prove it. In the summer of this very year 1527, in a letter to Anne Boleyn, he tells her how hard he was labouring at the treatise that was to convince everybody, and brush away all obstacles to their marriage: - "Mine own sweet heart, - I am right well comforted, insomuch that my book maketh substantially for my matter. In token whereof I have spent above four hours this day upon it, which has caused me to write the shorter letter to you at this time, because of some pain in my head." And, in the consciousness of his triumph over all obstacles, he wrote, for he was no contemptible poet: -
The king communicated to Wolsey fully his views regarding the divorce, and Wolsey, who had now his decided quarrel with the emperor for deceiving him in the matter of the Papacy, and who was equally the enemy of Catherine, she having openly expressed her resentment of his procuring the destruction of the Duke of Buckingham, readily fell into the scheme. Little did he dream that Henry proposed to put Anne Boleyn in Catherine's place; for Wolsey, by being the instrument of breaking her engagement with Lord Percy, had been unlucky enough to make her too his mortal enemy. Wolsey was undoubtedly as well aware as any one of the love affair going on between Henry and Anne Boleyn; nothing that was moving at Court could escape him; but he supposed this affair was only of the same kind as the rest of Henry's gallantries, and his notion would be that some foreign princess would be selected for Henry's second queen. That Henry now took every public opportunity of showing his affection for Anne, is evident by what took place at Greenwich in May of this year. The French ambassadors, the Viscount de Turenne and the Bishop of Tarbes, were over at London settling the terms of the marriage of Henry's daughter Mary with Francis, who was now a widower; and before they returned Henry gave them a fete. There was a tournament held at Greenwich on the 5th of May, in which 300 lances were broken in the lists. After the tournament there was a banquet, with orations and songs, followed by a ball. At this ball Catherine and all her ladies were present, who, according to the glowing description of the writer of the time, "seemed to all men to be rather celestial angels descended from heaven, than flesh and bone." The king drew Turenne from the ball into a tiring-room, where, with six other nobles, they put 011 Venetian dresses of gold and purple satin; and, with wizards on their faces, and beards of gold, they entered the ball-room, attended by a band of musicians, and each took out a lady for the dance. Anne Boleyn was the lady selected of Henry, thus marking his preference to all the world.
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