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Alarm Of Catherine And The Growth Of Lutheranism

Absolution Of Lord Thomas Fitzgerald For The Murder Of The Archbishop Of Dublin

Anger Of Anne Boleyn And The Duke Of Norfolk

Anne Boleyn Chosen By Henry To Succeed Catherine

Unpopularity Of Anne Boleyn And Removal Of Catherine From The Court

The Divorce

The Court At Blackfriars

Warlike Resolution Of The Pope Restrained By The Cardinals

Danger Of Challenging The Papal Dispensing Power

Illness Of The Pope



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Expectation That Henry Would Return To The Roman Communion

Intended Escape Of The Princess Mary Out Of England

Anne Sentenced To Die

Illness Of The Princess Mary

Competition For Henry's Hand

The Pope's Authority Abolished In England

Likelihood Of A Separation Of The King From Anne

Illness Of Queen Catherine

Coronation Of Anne Boleyn

Henry Advised To Marry Without Waiting For Sentence






Expectation That Henry Would Return To The Roman Communion








Whether Henry, on the exposure of the character of the woman for whom, in
the world's union, he had quarrelled with Rome and broken the union of
Christendom, would now reverse his course and return to the communion of
the Apostolic See, was the question on which all minds were exercising
themselves. The Pope and the European Powers were confident, believing the
reports which had reached them of the discontent in England. Cranmer
feared it, as he almost confessed in the letter which he wrote to the King
when he first heard of the arrest of Anne. She had been conspicuously
Lutheran; her family and her party were Lutheran, and the disgrace might
naturally extend to the cause which they represented. The King was to show
that he had not, as he said himself, "proceeded on such light grounds."
The divorce had been the spark which kindled the mine; but the explosive
force was in the temper of the English nation. The English nation was
weary of a tribunal which sold its decrees for money, or allowed itself to
be used as a tool by the Continental Sovereigns. It was weary of the
iniquities of its own Church Courts, which had plundered rich and poor at
their arbitrary pleasure--of a clergy which, protected by the immunities
which Becket had won for them, and restrained by no laws save those which
they themselves allowed, had made their lives a scandal and their
profession an offence. The property which had been granted them in pious
confidence for holy uses was squandered in luxurious self-indulgence; and
they had replied to the reforms which were forced upon them by disloyalty
and treason. They had been coerced into obedience; they had been brought
under the control of the law, punished for their crimes in spite of their
sacred calling under which they had claimed exemption, and been driven
into the position of ordinary citizens. Their prelates were no longer able
to seize and burn ex officio obnoxious preachers, or imprison or ruin
under the name of heretics rash persons who dared to speak the truth of
them.

In exasperation at the invasion of these time-honoured privileges, they
denounced as sacrilege the statutes which had been required to restrain
them. They had conspired to provoke the Pope to excommunicate their
Sovereign, and solicited the Catholic Powers to invade their country and
put the Reformers down with fire and sword. The King, who had been the
instrument of their beneficent humiliation, did not intend either to
submit the internal interests of the country to the authority of a foreign
bishop, or to allow the black regiments at home to recover the power which
they had so long abused.

Cromwell's commissioners were still busy on the visitation of the
religious houses. Each day brought in fresh reports of their condition.
These communities, supposed to be special servants of God, had become
special servants of the Devil. The eagerness with which the Pope solicited
Henry's return, the assurance that he had always been his friend--had
always maintained that Henry was right in the divorce case, when he had a
Bull ready in his desk taking his crown from him--was in itself sufficient
evidence of the fitness of such a ruler to be the Supreme Judge in
Christendom. Just as little could the Emperor be trusted, whose
affectations of friendship were qualified by secret reservations. The King
had undertaken a great and beneficent work in his own realm and meant to
go through with it. The Pope might do as he pleased. The Continental
Princes might quarrel or make peace, hold their Councils, settle as they
liked their own affairs, in their own way; England was sufficient for
herself. He had called his people under arms; he had fortified the coasts;
he had regenerated the navy. The nation, or the nobler part of it, he
believed to be loyal to himself--to approve what he had done and to be
ready to stand by him. He was not afraid of attack from abroad. If there
was a rebellious spirit at home, if the clergy were mutinous because the
bit was in their mouths, if the Peers of the old blood were alarmed at the
growth of religious liberty and were discontented because they could no
longer deal with it in the old way, the King was convinced that he was
acting for the true interests of the country, that Parliament would uphold
him, and that he could control both the ecclesiastics and the nobles. The
world should see that the reforms which he had introduced into England
were not the paltry accidents of a domestic scandal, but the first steps
of a revolution deliberately resolved on and sternly carried out which was
to free the island for ever from the usurped authority of an Italian
Prelate, and from the poisonous influences within the realm of a corrupt
and demoralising superstition.

The call of Parliament after Anne's execution was the strongest evidence
of confidence in his people which Henry had yet given. He had much to
acknowledge and much to ask. He had to confess that, although he had been
right in demanding a separation from his brother's wife, he had fatally
mistaken the character of the woman whom he had chosen to take her place.
The succession which he had hoped to establish he had made more intricate
than before. He had now three children, all technically illegitimate. The
Duke of Richmond was the son of the only mistress with whom he was ever
known to have been really connected. The Duke was now eighteen years old.
He had been educated as a Prince, but had no position recognised by the
law. Elizabeth's mother had acknowledged to having committed herself
before her marriage with the King, and many persons doubted whether
Elizabeth was the King's true daughter. Mary's claim was justly considered
as the best, for, though her mother's marriage had been declared illegal,
she had been born bona fide parentum. What Parliament would do in such
extraordinary circumstances could not be foreseen with any certainty, and
the elections had to be made with precipitancy and without time for
preparation. The writs were issued on the 7th of May. The meeting was to
be on the 8th of June. The Crown could influence or control the elections
at some particular places. At Canterbury Cromwell named the
representatives who were to be chosen, as, till the Reform Bill of
1832, they continued to be named by the patrons of boroughs. Yet it would
be absurd to argue from single instances that the Crown could do what it
pleased. Even with leisure to take precautions and with the utmost
exercise of its powers, it could only affect the returns, in the great
majority of the constituencies, through the Peers and landowners, and the
leading citizens in the corporations. With only four weeks to act in, a
Queen to try and execute, and a King to marry in the interval, no
ingenuity and no industry could have sufficed to secure a House of Commons
whose subserviency could be counted on, if subserviency was what the King
required. It is clear only that, so far as concerned the general opinion
of the country, the condemnation of Anne Boleyn had rather strengthened
than impaired his popularity. As Queen she had been feared and disliked.
Her punishment was regarded as a creditable act of justice, and the King
was compassionated as a sufferer from abominable ingratitude.

Little is known in detail of the proceedings of this Parliament. The Acts
remain: the debates are lost. The principal difficulties with which it had
to deal concerned Anne's trial and the disposition of the inheritance of
the Crown. On the matter of real importance, on the resolution of King and
Legislature to go forward with the Reformation, all doubts were promptly
dispelled. An Act was passed without opposition reasserting the extinction
of the Pope's authority, and another taking away the protection of
sanctuary from felonious priests. The succession was a harder problem. Day
after day it had been debated in the Council. Lord Sussex had proposed
that, as all the children of the King were illegitimate, the male should
be preferred to the female and the crown be settled on the Duke of
Richmond. Richmond was personally liked. He resembled his father in
appearance and character, and the King himself was supposed to favour this
solution. With the outer world the favourite was the Princess Mary. Both
she and her mother were respected for a misfortune which was not due to
faults of theirs, and the Princess was the more endeared by the danger to
which she was believed to have been exposed through the machinations of
Anne. The new Queen was her strongest advocate, and the King's affection
for her had not been diminished even when she had tried him the most. He
could not have been ignorant of her correspondence with Chapuys: he
probably knew that she had wished to escape out of the realm, and that the
Pope, who was now suing to him, had meant to bestow his own crown upon
her. But her qualities were like his own, tough and unmalleable, and in
the midst of his anger he had admired her resolution. Every one expected
that she would be restored to her rank after Anne's death. The King had
apparently been satisfied with her letter to him. Cromwell was her friend,
and Chapuys, who had qualified her submission, was triumphant and
confident. He was led to expect that an Act would be introduced declaring
her the next heir--nay, he had thought that such an Act had been passed.
Unfortunately for him the question of her acknowledgment of the Act of
Supremacy was necessarily revived. Had she or had she not accepted it? The
Act had been imposed, with the Statute of Treasons attached, as a test of
loyalty to the Reformation. It was impossible to place her nearest to the
throne as long as she refused obedience to a law essential to the
national independence. To refuse was to confess of a purpose of undoing
her father's work, should he die and the crown descend to her. She had
supposed that "she was out of her trouble" while she had saved her
conscience by the reservation in her submission. Chapuys found her again
"in extreme perplexity and anger." The reservation had been observed. The
Duke of Norfolk, Lord Sussex, a Bishop, and other Privy Councillors, had
come with a message to her, like those which had been so often carried
ineffectually to her mother, to represent the necessity of obedience.
Chapuys said that she had confounded them with her wise answers, and that,
when they could not meet her arguments, they "told her that, if she was
their daughter, they would knock her head against the wall till it was as
soft as a baked apple." In passing through Mary and through Chapuys the
words, perhaps, received some metaphorical additions. It is likely enough,
however, that Norfolk, who was supporting her claims with all his power,
was irritated at the revival of the old difficulties which he had hoped
were removed. The Princess "in her extreme necessity" wrote for advice to
the Ambassador. The Emperor was no longer in a condition to threaten, and
to secure Mary's place as next in the succession was of too vital
importance to the Imperialists to permit them to encourage her in scruples
of conscience. Chapuys answered frankly that, if the King persisted, she
must do what he required. The Emperor had distinctly said so. Her life was
precious, she must hide her real feelings till a time came for the redress
of the disorders of the realm. Nothing was demanded of her expressly
against God or the Articles of Faith, and God looked to intentions rather
than acts.

Mary still hesitated. She had the Tudor obstinacy, and she tried her will
against her father's. The King was extremely angry. He had believed that
she had given way and that the troubles which had distracted his family
were at last over. He had been exceptionally well-disposed towards her. He
had probably decided to be governed by the wishes of the people and to
appoint her by statute presumptive heir, and she seemed determined to make
it impossible for him. He suspected that she was being secretly
encouraged. To defend her conduct, as Cromwell ventured to do, provoked
him the more, for he felt, truly, that to give way was to abandon the
field. Lady Hussey was sent to the Tower; Lord Exeter and Sir William
Fitzwilliam were suspended from attendance on the Council; and even
Cromwell, for four or five days, counted himself a lost man. Jane Seymour
interceded in vain. To refuse to acknowledge the supremacy was treason,
and had been made treason for ample reason. Mary, as the first subject in
the realm, could not be allowed to deny it. Henry sent for the Judges, to
consider what was to be done, and the Court was once more in terror. The
Judges advised that a strict form of submission should be drawn, and that
the Princess should be required to sign it. If she persisted in her
refusal, she would then be liable to the law. The difficulty was overcome,

or evaded, in a manner characteristic of the system to which Mary so
passionately adhered. Chapuys drew a secret protest that, in submitting,
she was yielding only to force. Thus guarded, he assured her that her
consent would not be binding, that the Pope would not only refrain from
blaming her, but would highly approve. She was still unsatisfied, till she
made him promise to write to the Imperial Ambassador at Rome to procure a
secret absolution from the Pope for the full satisfaction of her
conscience. Thus protected, she disdainfully set her name to the paper
prepared by the Judges, without condescending to read it, and the marked
contempt, in Chapuys's opinion, would serve as an excuse for her in the
future.

While the crisis lasted the Council were in permanent session. Timid Peers
were alarmed at the King's peremptoriness, and said that it might cost him
his throne. The secret process by which Mary had been brought to yield may
have been conjectured, and her resistance was not forgotten, but she had
signed what was demanded, and it was enough. In the Court there was
universal delight. Chapuys congratulated Cromwell, and Cromwell led him to
believe that the crown would be settled as he wished. The King and Queen
drove down to Richmond to pay the Princess a visit. Henry gave her a
handsome present of money and said that now she might have anything that
she pleased. The Queen gave her a diamond. She was to return to the court
and resume her old station. One cloud only remained. If it was generally
understood that the heir presumptive in her heart detested the measures in
which she had formally acquiesced, the country could no longer be expected
to support a policy which would be reversed on the King's death. Mary's
conduct left little doubt of her real feelings, and therefore it was not
held to be safe to give her by statute the position which her friends
desired for her. The facility with which the Pope could dispense with
inconvenient obligations rendered a verbal acquiescence an imperfect
safeguard. Parliament, therefore, did not, after all, entail the crown
upon her, in the event of the King's present marriage being unfruitful,
but left her to deserve it and empowered the King to name his own
successor.

Chapuys, however, was able to console himself with the reflection that the
Bastard, as he called Elizabeth, was now out of the question. The Duke of
Richmond was ill--sinking under the same weakness of constitution which
had been so fatal in the Tudor family and of which he, in fact, died a few
weeks later. The prevailing opinion was that the King could never have
another child. Mary's prospects, therefore, were tolerably "secure. I must
admit," Chapuys wrote on the 8th of July, "that her treatment improves
every day. She never had so much liberty as now, or was served with so
much state even by the little Bastard's waiting-women. She will want
nothing in future but the name of Princess of Wales, and that is of
no consequence, for all the rest she will have more abundantly than
before."

Mary, in fact, now wanted nothing save the Pope's pardon for having
abjured his authority. Chapuys had undertaken that it would be easily
granted. The Emperor had himself asked for it, yet not only could not
Cifuentes obtain the absolution, but he did not so much as dare to speak
to Paul on the subject. The absolution for the murder of an Archbishop of
Dublin had been bestowed cheerfully and instantly on Fitzgerald. Mary was
left with perjury on her conscience, and no relief could be had. There
appeared to be some technical difficulty. "Unless she retracted and
abjured in the presence of the persons before whom she took the oath, it
was said that the Pope's absolution would be of no use to her." There was,
perhaps, another objection. Cifuentes imperfectly trusted Paul. He feared
that if he pressed the request the secret would be betrayed and that
Mary's life would be in danger.

Time, perhaps, and reflection alleviated Mary's remorse and enabled her to
dispense with the Papal anodyne, while Cromwell further comforted the
Ambassador in August by telling him that the King felt he was growing old,
that he was hopeless of further offspring, and was thinking seriously of
making Mary his heir after all.

Age the King could not contend with, but for the rest he had carried his
policy through. The first act of the Reformation was closing, and he was
left in command of the situation. The curtain was to rise again with the
Lincolnshire and Yorkshire rebellion, to be followed by the treason of the
Poles. But there is no occasion to tell a story over again which I can
tell no better than I have done already, nor does it belong to the subject
of the present volume. The Pilgrimage of Grace was the outbreak of the
conspiracy encouraged by Chapuys to punish Henry, and to stop the progress
of the Reformation; Chapuys's successors in the time of Elizabeth followed
his example; and with them all the result was the same--the ruin of the
cause which with such weapons they were trying to maintain, and the deaths
on the scaffold of the victims of visionary hopes and promises which were
never to be made good.

All the great persons whom Chapuys names as willing to engage in the
enterprise--the Peers, the Knights, who, with the least help from the
Emperor, would hurl the King from his throne, Lord Darcy and Lord Hussey,
the Bishop of Rochester, as later on, the Marquis of Exeter, Lord
Montague, and his mother--sank one after another into bloody graves. They
mistook their imaginations for facts, their passions for arguments, and
the vain talk of an unscrupulous Ambassador for solid ground on which to
venture into treason. In their dreams they saw the phantom of the Emperor
coming over with an army to help them. Excited as they had been, they
could not part with their hopes. They knew that they were powerful in
numbers. Their preparations had been made, and many thousands of clergy
and gentlemen and yeomen had been kindled into crusading enthusiasm. The
flame burst out sporadically and at intervals, without certain plan or
purpose, at a time when the Emperor could not help them, even if he had
ever seriously intended it, and thus the conflagration, which at first
blazed through all the northern counties, was extinguished before it
turned to civil war. The common people who had been concerned in it
suffered but lightly. But the roots had penetrated deep; the conspiracy
was of long standing; the intention of the leaders was to carry out the
Papal censures, and put down what was called heresy. The rising was really
formidable, for the loyalty of many of the great nobles was not above
suspicion, and, if not promptly dealt with, it might have enveloped the
whole island. Those who rise in arms against Governments must take the
consequences of failure, and the leaders who had been the active spirits
in the sedition were inexorably punished. In my History of the time I have
understated the number of those who were executed. Care was taken to
select only those who had been definitely prominent. Nearly three hundred
were hanged in all--in batches of twenty-five or thirty, in each of the
great northern cities; and, to emphasize the example and to show that the
sacerdotal habit would no longer protect treason, the orders were to
select particularly the priests and friars who had been engaged. The
rising was undertaken in the name of religion. The clergy had been the
most eager of the instigators. Chapuys had told the Emperor that of all
Henry's subjects the clergy were the most disaffected, and the most
willing to supply money for an invasion. They were therefore legitimately
picked out for retribution, and in Lincoln, York, Hull, Doncaster,
Newcastle, and Carlisle, the didactic spectacle was witnessed of some
scores of reverend persons swinging for the crows to eat in the sacred
dress of their order. A severe lesson was required to teach a
superstitious world that the clerical immunities existed no longer and
that priests who broke the law would suffer like common mortals; but it
must be clearly understood that, if these men could have had their way,
the hundreds who suffered would have been thousands, and the victims would
have been the poor men who were looking for a purer faith in the pages of
the New Testament.

When we consider the rivers of blood which were shed elsewhere before the
Protestant cause could establish itself, the real wonder is the small cost
in human life of the mighty revolution successfully accomplished by Henry.
With him, indeed, Chapuys must share the honour. The Catholics, if they
had pleased, might have pressed their objections and their remonstrances
in Parliament; and a nation as disposed for compromise as the English
might have mutilated the inevitable changes. Chapuys's counsels tempted
them into more dangerous and less pardonable roads. By encouraging them in
secret conspiracies he made them a menace to the peace of the realm. He
brought Fisher to the block. He forced the Government to pass the Act of
Supremacy as a defence against treason, and was thus the cause also of the
execution of Sir Thomas More and the Charterhouse Monks.

To Chapuys, perhaps, and to his faithful imitators later in the
century--De Quadra and Mendoza--the country owes the completeness of the
success of the Reformation. It was a battle fought out gallantly between
two principles--a crisis in the eternal struggle between the old and the
new. The Catholics may boast legitimately of their martyrs. But the
Protestants have a martyrology longer far and no less honourable, and
those who continue to believe that the victory won in England in the
sixteenth century was a victory of right over wrong, have no need to blush
for the actions of the brave men who, in the pulpit or in the Council
Chamber, on the scaffold or at the stake, won for mankind the spiritual
liberty which is now the law of the world.






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