Most ViewedAlarm 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
The Court At Blackfriars
Unpopularity Of Anne Boleyn And Removal Of Catherine From The Court
Warlike Resolution Of The Pope Restrained By The Cardinals
Death Of Archbishop Warham And The Pope Urged To Excommunicate Henry But Refuses Angering The Queen
Danger Of Challenging The Papal Dispensing Power
Least ViewedExpectation That Henry Would Return To The Roman Communion
Intended Escape Of The Princess Mary Out Of England
Illness Of The Princess Mary
Anne Sentenced To Die
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
Warlike Resolution Of The Pope Restrained By The Cardinals
Cifuentes had been misinformed when he feared that Francis was again about
to interpose in Henry's behalf at Rome. The conference at Calais had
broken up without definite results. The policy of France was to draw Henry
off from his treaty with the Emperor; Henry preferred to play the two
great Catholic Powers one against the other, and commit himself to
neither; and Francis, knowing the indignation which Fisher's execution
would produce at Rome, was turning his thoughts on other means of
accomplishing his purpose. The Emperor's African campaign was splendidly
successful--too successful to be satisfactory at the Vatican. The Pope, as
the head of Christendom, was bound to express pleasure at the defeat of
the Infidels, but he feared that Charles, victorious by land and sea,
might give him trouble in his own dominions. A settled purpose,
however, remained to punish the English King, and Henry had need to be
careful. The French faction in the Council wished him to proceed at once
to extremities with the Princess, which would effectually end the hopes of
an Imperial alliance. Anne Boleyn was continually telling the King that
the Queen and Princess were his greatest danger. "They deserved death more
than those who had been lately executed, since they were the cause of all
the mischief." Chapuys found himself no longer able to communicate
with Mary, from the increased precaution in guarding her. It was alleged
that there was a fear of her being carried off by the French.
The Imperial party at Rome, not knowing what to do or to advise, drew a
curious memorandum for Charles's consideration. The Emperor, they said,
had been informed when the divorce case was being tried at Rome, that
England was a fief of the Church of Rome, and as the King had defied the
Apostolic See, he deserved to be deprived of his crown. The Emperor had
not approved of a step so severe. But the King had now beheaded the Bishop
of Rochester, whom the Pope had made a cardinal. On the news of the
execution the Pope and Cardinals had moved that he should be deprived at
once and without more delay for this and for his other crimes. Against
taking such action was the danger to the Queen of which they were greatly
afraid, and also the sense that if, after sentence, the crown of England
devolved on the Holy See, injury might be done to the prospects of the
Princess. It might be contrived that the Pope in depriving the King might
assign the crown to his daughter, or the Pope in consistory might declare
secretly that they were acting in favour of the Princess and without
prejudice to her claim. To this, however, there was the objection that
the King might hear of it through some of the Cardinals. Something at any
rate had to be done. All courses were dangerous. The Emperor was requested
A new ingredient was now to be thrown into the political cauldron. So far
from wishing to reconcile England with the Papacy, the Pope informed
Cifuentes that Francis was now ready and willing to help the Apostolic See
in the execution of the sentence against the King of England. Francis
thought that the Emperor ought to begin, since the affair was his personal
concern; but when the first step was taken Francis himself would be at the
Pope's disposition. The meaning of this, in the opinion of Cifuentes, was
merely to entangle the Emperor in a war with England, and so to leave him.
The Pope himself thought so too. Francis had been heard to say that when
the Emperor had opened the campaign he would come next and do what was
most for his own interest. The Pope, however, said, as Clement had said
before him, that, if Charles and Francis would only act together against
England, the "execution" could be managed satisfactorily. Cifuentes
replied that he had no commission to enter into that question. He reported
what had passed to his master, and said that he would be in no haste to
urge the Pope to further measures.
Henry had expected nothing better from France. He had dared the Pope to do
his worst. He stood alone, with no protection save in the jealousy of the
rival Powers, and had nothing to trust to save his own ability to defend
his country and his crown. His chief anxiety was for the security of the
sea. A successful stoppage of trade would, as Cromwell admitted, lead to
confusion and insurrection. Ship after ship was built and launched in the
Thames. The busy note of preparation rang over the realm. The clergy, Lord
Darcy had said, were to furnish money for the rising. The King was taking
precautions to shorten their resources, and turn their revenues to the
protection of the realm. Cromwell's visitors were out over England
examining into the condition of the religious houses, exposing their
abuses and sequestrating their estates. These dishonoured institutions had
been found to be "very stews of unnatural crime" through the length and
breadth of England. Their means of mischief were taken away from such
worthless and treacherous communities. Crown officials were left in
charge, and their final fate was reserved for Parliament.
Henry, meanwhile, confident in his subjects, and taking lightly the
dangers which threatened him, went on progress along the Welsh borders,
hunting, visiting, showing himself everywhere, and received with apparent
enthusiasm. The behaviour of the people perplexed Chapuys. "I am told," he
wrote, "that in the districts where he has been, a good part of the
peasantry, after hearing the Court preachers, are abused into the belief
that he was inspired by God to separate himself from his brother's wife.
They are but idiots. They will return soon enough to the truth when there
are any signs of change." They would not return, nor were they the fools
he thought them. The clergy, Chapuys himself confessed it, had made
themselves detested by the English commons for their loose lives and the
tyranny of the ecclesiastical courts. The monasteries, too many of them,
were nests of infamy and fraud, and the King whom the Catholic world
called Antichrist appeared as a deliverer from an odious despotism.
At Rome there was still uncertainty. The Imperial memorandum explains the
cause of the hesitation. The Emperor was engaged in Africa, and could
decide nothing till his return. The great Powers were divided on the
partition of the bear's skin, while the bear was still unstricken. Why,
asked the impatient English Catholics, did not the Pope strike and make an
end of him when even Francis, who had so long stayed his hand, was now
urging him to proceed? Francis was probably as insincere as Cifuentes
believed him to be. But the mere hope of help from such a quarter gave
fresh life to the wearied Catherine and her agents.
"The Pope," wrote Dr. Ortiz to the Emperor, "has committed the deprivation
of the King of England and the adjudication of the realm to the Apostolic
See as a fief of the Church to Cardinals Campeggio, Simoneta, and Cesis.
The delay in granting the executorials in the principal cause is
wonderful. Although the deposition of the King was spoken of so hotly in
the Consistory, and they wrote about it to all the Princes, they will only
proceed with delay and with a monition to the King to be intimated in
neighbouring countries. This is needless. His heresy, schism, and other
crimes are notorious. He may be deprived without the delay of a monition.
If it is pressed, it is to be feared it will be on the side of France. It
is a wonderful revenge which the King of France has taken on the King of
England, to favour him until he has fallen into schism and heresy, and
then to forsake him in it, to delude him as far as the gallows, and to
leave him to hang. The blood of the saints whom that King has martyred
calls to God for justice."
Catherine, sick with hope deferred and tired of the Emperor's hesitation,
was catching at the new straw which was floating by her. Ortiz must have
kept her informed of the French overtures at the Vatican. She prayed the
Regent Mary to use her influence with the French Queen. Now was the time
for Francis to show himself a true friend of his brother of England, and
assist in delivering him from a state of sin.
Strange rumours were current in France and in England to explain the delay
of the censures. The Pope had confessed himself alarmed at the
completeness of Charles's success at Tunis. It was thought that the
Emperor, fresh from his victories, might act on the advice of men like
Lope de Soria, take his Holiness himself in hand and abolish the Temporal
Power; that the Pope knew it, and therefore feared to make matters worse
by provoking England further.
Pope and Princes might watch each other in distrust at a safe distance;
but to the English conspirators the long pause was life or death. Delays
are usually fatal with intended rebellion. The only safety is in immediate
action. Enthusiasm cools, and secrets are betrayed. Fisher's fate was a
fresh spur to them to move, but it also proved that the Government knew
too much and did not mean to flinch.
Chapuys tried Granvelle again. "Every man of position here," he said, "is
in despair at the Pope's inaction. If something is not done promptly there
will be no hope for the ladies, or for religion either, which is going
daily to destruction. Things are come to such a pass that at some places
men even preach against the Sacrament. The Emperor is bound to interfere.
What he has done in Africa he can do in England with far more ease and
with incomparably more political advantage."
Granvelle could but answer that Henry was a monster, and that God would
undoubtedly punish him; but that for himself he was so busy that he could
scarcely breathe, and that the Emperor continued to hope for some peaceful
Cifuentes meanwhile kept his hand on Paul. His task was difficult, for his
orders were to prevent the issue of the executorials for fear France
should act upon them, while Catholic Christendom would be shaken to its
base if it became known that it was the Emperor who was preventing the
Holy See from avenging itself. Even with the Pope Cifuentes could not be
candid, and Ortiz, working on Paul's jealousy and unable to comprehend the
obstacle, had persuaded his Holiness to draw up "the brief of execution"
and furnish a copy to himself.
"In the matter of the executory letters," Cifuentes wrote to Charles, "I
have strictly followed your Majesty's instructions. They have been kept
back for a year and a half without the least appearance that the delay
proceeded from us, but, on the contrary, as if we were disappointed that
they were not drawn when asked for. Besides his Holiness's wish to wait
for the result of the offers of France, another circumstance has served
your Majesty's purpose. There were certain clauses to which I could not
consent, in the draft shown to me, as detrimental to the right of the
Queen and Princess and to your Majesty's preeminence.
"Now that all hope has vanished of the return of the King of England to
obedience, Dr. Ortiz, not knowing that you wished the execution to be
delayed, has taken out the executory letters and almost despatched them
while I was absent at Perugia. The letters are ready, nothing being wanted
but the Pope's seal. I have detained them for a few days, pretending that
I must examine the wording. They will remain in my possession till you
inform me of your pleasure."
The issue of the Pope's censures either in the form of a letter of
execution or of a Bull of Deposition was to be the signal of the English
rising, with or without the Emperor. Darcy and his friends were ready and
resolved to begin. But without the Pope's direct sanction the movement
would lose its inspiration. The Irish rebellion had collapsed for the want
of it. Lord Thomas Fitzgerald had surrendered and was a prisoner in the
It was not the part of a child, however great her imagined wrongs,
deliberately to promote an insurrection against her father. Henry II.'s
sons had done it, but times were changed. The Princess Mary was determined
to justify such of Henry's Council as had recommended the harshest
measures against her. She wrote a letter to Chapuys which, if intercepted,
might have made it difficult for the King to save her.
"The condition of things," she said, "is worse than wretched. The realm
will fall to ruin unless his Majesty, for the service of God, the welfare
of Christendom, the honour of the King my father, and compassion for the
afflicted souls in this country, will take pity on us and apply the
remedy. This I hope and feel assured that he will do if he is rightly
informed of what is taking place. In the midst of his occupations in
Africa he will have been unable to realise our condition. The whole truth
cannot be conveyed in letters. I would, therefore, have you despatch one
of your own people to inform him of everything, and to supplicate him on
the part of the Queen my mother, and myself for the honour of God and for
other respects to attend to and provide for us. In so acting he will
accomplish a service most agreeable to Almighty God. Nor will he win less
fame and glory to himself than he has achieved in the conquest of Tunis or
in all his African expedition."
Catherine simultaneously addressed herself to the Pope in a letter
equally characteristic. The "brief of execution" was the natural close of
her process, which, after judgment in her favour, she was entitled to
demand. The Pope wished her to apply for it, that it might appear to be
granted at her instance and not on his own impulse.
"Most Holy and Blessed Father," she wrote, "I kiss your Holiness's hands.
My letters have been filled with complaints and importunities, and have
been more calculated to give you pain than pleasure. I have therefore for
some time ceased from writing to your Holiness, although my conscience has
reproached me for my silence. One only satisfaction I have in thinking of
the present state of things: I thank unceasingly our Lord Jesus Christ for
having appointed a vicar like your Holiness, of whom so much good is
spoken at a time when Christendom is in so great a strait. God in His
mercy has preserved you for this hour. Once more, therefore, as an
obedient child of the Holy See, I do entreat you to bear this realm in
special mind, to remember the King, my lord and husband, and my daughter.
Your Holiness knows, and all Christendom knows, what things are done here,
what great offence is given to God, what scandal to the world, what
reproach is thrown upon your Holiness. If a remedy be not applied shortly
there will be no end to ruined souls and martyred saints. The good will be
firm and will suffer. The lukewarm will fail if they find none to help
them, and the rest will stray out of the way like sheep that have lost
their shepherd. I place these facts before your Holiness because I know
not any one on whose conscience the deaths of these holy and good men and
the perdition of so many souls ought to weigh more heavily than on yours,
inasmuch as your Holiness neglects to encounter these evils which the
Devil, as we see, has sown among us.
"I write frankly to your Holiness, for the discharge of my own soul, as to
one who, I hope, can feel with me and my daughter for the martyrdoms of
these admirable persons. I have a mournful pleasure in expecting that we
shall follow them in the manner of their torments. And so I end, waiting
for the remedy from God and from your Holiness. May it come speedily. If
not, the time will be past. Our Lord preserve your Holiness's
On the same day and by the same messenger she wrote to Charles,
congratulating him on his African victory, and imploring him, now that he
was at liberty, to urge the Pope into activity. In other words, she was
desiring him to carry fire and sword through England, when if she herself
six years before would have allowed the Pope's predecessor to guide her
and had retired into "religion," there would have been no divorce, no
schism, no martyrs, no dangers of a European convulsion on her account.
Catherine, as other persons have done, had allowed herself to be governed
by her own wounded pride, and called it conscience.
Chapuys conveyed the Queen's arguments both to Charles and to Granvelle.
He again assured them that the Princess and her mother were in real danger
of death. If the Emperor continued to hesitate, he said, after his
splendid victories in Africa, there would be general despair. The
opportunity would be gone, and an enterprise now easy would then be
difficult, if not impossible.
Now was the time. The execution of More and Fisher, the suppression of the
monasteries, the spoliation of the Church, had filled clerical and
aristocratic England with fear and fury. The harvest had failed; and the
failure was interpreted as a judgment from Heaven on the King's conduct.
So sure Chapuys felt that the Emperor would now move that he sent positive
assurances to Catherine that his master would not return to Spain till he
had restored her to her rights. Even the Bishop of Tarbes, who was again
in London, believed that Henry was lost at last. The whole nation, he
said, Peers and commons, and even the King's own servants, were devoted to
the Princess and her mother, and would join any prince who would take up
their cause. The discontent was universal, partly because the Princess was
regarded as the right heir to the crown, partly for fear of war and the
ruin of trade. The autumn had been wet: half the corn was still in the
fields. Queen Anne was universally execrated, and even the King was losing
his love for her. If war was declared, the entire country would rise.
The Pope, it has been seen, had thought of declaring Mary to be Queen in
her father's place. Such a step, if ventured, would inevitably be fatal to
her. Her friends in England wished to see her married to some foreign
prince--if possible, to the Dauphin--that she might be safe and out of the
way. The Princess herself, and even the Emperor, were supposed to desire
the match with the Dauphin, because in such an alliance the disputes with
France might be forgotten, and Charles and the French king might unite to
coerce Henry into obedience.
The wildest charges against Henry were now printed and circulated in
Germany and the Low Countries. Cromwell complained to Chapuys. "Worse," he
said, "could not be said against Jew or Devil." Chapuys replied ironically
that he was sorry such things should be published. The Emperor would do
his best to stop them, but in the general disorder tongues could not be
So critical the situation had become in these autumn months that Cromwell,
of course with the King's consent, was obliged to take the unusual step of
interfering with the election of the Lord Mayor of London, alleging that,
with the State in so much peril, it was of the utmost consequence to have
a well-disposed man of influence and experience at the head of the City.
"Cromwell came to me this morning," Chapuys wrote to his master on the
13th of October; "he said the King was informed that the Emperor intended
to attack him in the Pope's name (he called his Holiness, 'bishop of
Rome,' but begged my pardon while he did so,) and that a Legate or Bishop
was coming to Flanders to stir the fire. The King could not believe that
the Emperor had any such real intention after the friendship which he had
shown him, especially when there was no cause. In breaking with the Pope
he had done nothing contrary to the law of God, and religion was nowhere
better regulated and reformed than it was now in England. The King would
send a special embassy to the Emperor, if I thought it would be favourably
received. I said I could not advise so great a Prince. I believed that, if
the object of such an embassy was one which your Majesty could grant in
honour and conscience, it would not only be well received but would be
successful. Otherwise, I could neither recommend nor dissuade."
By the same hand which carried this despatch Chapuys forwarded the letters
of Catherine and Mary, adding another of his own to Granvelle, in which he
said that "if the Emperor wished to give peace and union to Christendom,
he must begin in England. It would be easy, for everyone was irritated.
The King's treasure would pay for all, and would help, besides, for the
enterprise against the Turk. It was time to punish him for his folly and
Charles seemed to have arrived at the same conclusion. He had already
written from Messina, on his return from Tunis, both to Chapuys and to his
Ambassador in Paris, that, as long as Henry retained his concubine,
persisted in his divorce, and refused to recognise the Princess as his
heir, he could not honourably treat with him. The Pope, when
Catherine's letter reached him, was fuming with fresh anger at the fate of
the Irish rebellion. Lord Thomas, spite of Papal absolution and blessing,
was a prisoner in the Tower. He had surrendered to his uncle, Lord Leonard
Grey, under some promise of pardon. He had been carried before the King.
For a few days he was left at liberty, and might have been forgiven, if he
would have made a satisfactory submission; but he calculated that "a new
world" was not far off, and that he might hold out in safety. Such a wild
cat required stricter keeping. The Tower gates closed on him, and soon
after he paid for the Archbishop's life with his own.
Ortiz, when he heard that Fitzgerald was imprisoned, said that the choice
lay before him to die a martyr or else to be perverted. God, he hoped,
would permit the first. The spirit of one of the murdered Carthusians had
appeared to the brotherhood and informed them of the glorious crown which
had been bestowed on Fisher.
In this exalted humour Catherine's letter found Paul and the Roman clergy.
The Pope had already informed Cifuentes that he meant to proceed to
"deprivation." The letters of execution had been so drawn or re-drawn as
to involve the forfeiture of Henry's throne, and Ortiz considered
that Providence had so ordered it that the Pope was now acting motu
proprio and not at the Queen's solicitation. Cifuentes was of opinion,
however, that Paul meant to wait for the Queen's demand, that the
responsibility might be hers. Chapuys's courier was ordered to deliver
Catherine's letter into the Pope's own hands. Cifuentes took the liberty
of detaining it till the Emperor's pleasure was known. But no one any
longer doubted that the time was come. France and England were no longer
united, and the word for action was to be spoken at last.
At no period of his reign had Henry been in greater danger. At home the
public mind was unsettled. A large and powerful faction of peers and
clergy were prepared for revolt, and abroad he had no longer an ally.
England seemed on the eve of a conflict the issue of which no one could
foresee. At this moment Providence, or the good luck which had so long
befriended him, interposed to save the King and save the Reformation.
Sforza, Duke of Milan and husband of Christina of Denmark, died childless
on the 24th of October. Milan was the special subject of difference
between France and the Empire. The dispute had been suspended while the
Duke was alive. His death reopened the question, and the war long looked
for for the Milan succession became inevitable and immediately imminent.
The entire face of things was now changed. Francis had, perhaps, never
seriously meant to join in executing the Papal sentence against England;
but he had intended to encourage the Emperor to try, that he might fish
himself afterwards in the troubled waters, and probably snatch at Calais.
He now required Henry for a friend again, and the old difficulties and the
old jealousies were revived in the usual form. Both the great Catholic
Powers desired the suspension of the censures. The Emperor was again
unwilling to act as the Pope's champion while he was uncertain of the
French King. Francis wished to recover his position as Henry's defender.
The Pope was an Italian prince as well as sovereign of the Church, and his
secular interest was thought to be more French than Imperial.
No sooner was Sforza gone than the Cardinal Du Bellay and the Bishop of
Macon were despatched from Paris to see and talk with Paul. They found him
still too absorbed in the English question to attend to anything besides.
He was in the high exalted mood of Gregory VII., imagining that he was
about to reassert the ancient Papal prerogative, and again dispose of
The Pope, wrote the French Commissioners, having heard that there was
famine and plague in England, had made up his mind to act, and was
incredibly excited. The sentence was prepared and was to issue
unexpectedly like a bolt out of the blue sky. They enclosed a copy of it,
and waited for instructions from Francis as to the line which they were to
take. To set things straight again would, they said, be almost impossible;
but they would do their best to prevent extremities, and to show the King
of England that they had endeavoured to serve him. Nothing like the
sentence which Paul had constructed had been ever seen before. Some
articles had been inserted to force Francis to choose between the Pope and
the King. They were malicious, unjust, and terriblement enormes.
The new Hildebrand, applying to himself the words of Jeremiah, "Behold, I
have set thee over nations and kingdoms, that thou mayest root out and
destroy," had proceeded to root out Henry. He had cursed him; he cursed
his abettors. His body when he died was to lie unburied and his soul lie
in hell for ever. His subjects were ordered to renounce their allegiance,
and were to fall under interdict if they continued to obey him. No true
son of the Church was to hold intercourse or alliance with him or his
adherents, under pain of sharing his damnation; and the Princes of Europe
and the Peers and commons of England were required, on their allegiance to
the Holy See, to expel him from the throne.
This was the "remedy" for which Catherine had been so long entreating, out
of affection for her misguided lord, whose soul she wished to save. The
love which she professed was a love which her lord could have dispensed
The Papal Nuncio reported from Paris the attitude which France intended
to assume. He had been speaking with the Admiral Philip de Chabot about
England. The Admiral had admitted that the King had doubtless done violent
things, and that the Pope had a right to notice them. France did not wish
to defend him against the Pope, but, if he was attacked by the Emperor,
would certainly take his part. The Nuncio said that he had pointed out
that the King of England had God for an enemy; that he was, therefore,
going to total ruin; and that the Pope had hoped to find in Francis a
champion of the Church. The Admiral said that, of course, England ought to
return to the faith: the Pope could deal with him hereafter; but France
must take care of her own interests.
Charles, too, was uneasy and undecided. Until the Milan question had been
reopened the French had spoken as if they would no longer stand between
Henry and retribution, but he was now assured that they would return to
their old attitude. They had stood by Henry through the long controversy
of the divorce. Even when Fisher was sent to the scaffold they had not
broken their connection with him. The King, he knew, was frightened, and
would yield, if France was firm; but, unless the Pope had a promise from
the French King under his own hand to assist in executing the censures,
the Pope would find himself disappointed; and the fear was that Francis
would draw the Emperor into a war with England and then leave him to make
his own bargain.
Kings whose thrones and lives are threatened cannot afford to be lenient.
Surrounded by traitors, uncertain of France, with the danger in which he
stood immeasurably increased by the attitude of Catherine and her
daughter, the King, so the Marchioness of Exeter reported to Chapuys, had
been heard to say that they must bend or break. The anxiety which they
were causing was not to be endured any longer. Parliament was about to
meet, and their situation would have then to be considered.
The Marchioness entreated him to let the Emperor know of this, and tell
him that, if he waited longer, he would be too late to save them. Chapuys
took care that these alarming news should lose nothing in the relating.
Again, after a fortnight, Lady Exeter came to him, disguised, to renew the
warning. The "she-devil of a Concubine," she said, was thinking of nothing
save of how to get the ladies despatched. The Concubine ruled the Council,
and the King was afraid to contradict her. The fear was, as Chapuys said,
that he would make the Parliament a joint party with him in his cruelties,
and that, losing hope of pardon from the Emperor, they would be more
determined to defend themselves.
The danger, if danger there was, to Catherine and Mary, was Chapuys's own
creation. It was he who had encouraged them in defying the King, that they
might form a visible rallying-point to the rebellion. Charles was more
rational than the Ambassador, and less credulous of Henry's wickedness. "I
cannot believe what you tell me," he replied to his Ambassador's
frightful story. "The King cannot be so unnatural as to put to death his
own wife and daughter. The threats you speak of can only be designed to
terrify them. They must not give way, if it can be avoided; but, if they
are really in danger, and there is no alternative, you may tell them from
me that they must yield. A submission so made cannot prejudice their
rights. They can protest that they are acting under compulsion, in fear
for their lives. I will take care that their protestation is duly ratified
by their proctors at Rome." Chapuys was a politician, and obeyed his
orders. But that either Catherine or her daughter should give way was the
last wish either of him or of Ortiz, or any of the fanatical enthusiasts.
Martyrs were the seed of the Church. If Mary abandoned her claim to the
succession, her name could no longer be used as a battle-cry. The object
was a revolution which would shake Henry from his throne. On the scaffold,
as a victim to her fidelity to her mother and to the Holy See, she would
give an impulse to the insurrection which nothing could resist.
The croaks of the raven were each day louder. Lady Exeter declared that
the King had said that the Princess should be an example that no one
should disobey the law. There was a prophecy of him that at the beginning
of his reign he would be gentle as a lamb, and at the end worse than a
lion. That prophecy he meant to fulfil.
Ortiz, who had his information from Catherine herself, said that she was
preparing to die as the Bishop of Rochester and the others had died. She
regretted only that her life had not been as holy as theirs. The
"kitchen-wench"--as Ortiz named Anne--had often said of the Princess that
either Mary would be her death or she would be Mary's, and that she would
take care that Mary did not laugh at her after she was gone.
Stories flying at such a time were half of them the creation of rage and
panic, imperfectly believed by those who related them, and reported to
feed a fire which it was so hard to kindle; but they show the spirit of
which the air was full. At Rome there was still distrust. Francis had
shown the copy of the intended sentence to the different Ambassadors at
Paris. He had said that the Pope was claiming a position for the Apostolic
See which could not be allowed, and must be careful what he did. Paul
agreed with the Emperor that, before the sentence was delivered, pledges
to assist must be exacted from Francis, but had thought that he might
calculate with sufficient certainty on the hereditary enmity between
France and England. Cifuentes told him that he must judge of the future by
the past. The French were hankering after Italy, and other things were
nothing in comparison. The Pope hinted that the Emperor was said to be
treating privately with Henry. Cifuentes could give a flat denial to this,
for the treaty had been dropped. If the Emperor, however, resolved to
undertake the execution Francis was not to be allowed to hear of it, as he
would use the knowledge to set Henry on his guard.
Chapuys was a master of the art of conveying false impressions while
speaking literal truth.
Francis, who, in spite of Cifuentes, learnt what was being projected at
Rome, warned Henry that the Emperor was about to invade England. He even
said that the Emperor had promised that, if he would not interfere, the
English crown might be secured to a French prince by a marriage with Mary.
Cromwell questioned Chapuys on such "strange news." Lying cost Chapuys
nothing. The story was true, but he replied that it was wild nonsense. Not
only had the Emperor never said such a thing, but he had never even
thought of anything to the King's prejudice, and had always been
solicitous for the honour and tranquillity of England. The Emperor wished
to increase, not diminish, the power of the King, and even for the sake of
the Queen and Princess he would not wish the King to be expelled, knowing
the love they bore him. Cromwell said he had always told the King that the
Emperor would attempt nothing against him unless he was forced. Chapuys
agreed: so far, he said, from promoting hostilities against the King, the
Emperor, ever since the sentence on the divorce, had held back the
execution, and, if further measures were taken, they would be taken by the
Pope and Cardinals, not by the Emperor.
In this last intimation Chapuys was more correct than he was perhaps aware
The Pope, sick of the irresolutions and mutual animosities of the great
Catholic Powers, had determined to act for himself. Catherine's friends
had his ear. They at all events knew their own minds. On the 10th of
December he called a consistory, said that he had suffered enough in the
English cause, and would bear it no more. He required the opinions of the
Cardinals on the issue of the executorial brief. The scene is described
by Du Bellay, who was one of them, and was present. The Cardinals, who had
been debating and disagreeing for seven years, were still in favour of
further delays. They all felt that a brief or bull deposing the King was a
step from which there would be no retreat. The Great Powers, they were
well aware, would resent the Pope's assumption of an authority so
arrogant. All but one of them said that before the executory letters were
published a monition must first be sent to the King. The language of the
letters, besides, was too comprehensive. The King's subjects and the
King's allies were included in the censures, and, not being in fault,
ought not to suffer. Voices, too, were heard to say that kings were
privileged persons, and ought not to be treated with disrespect.
The Pope, before dissatisfied with their objections, now in high anger at
the last suggestion, declared that he would spare neither emperors, nor
kings, nor princes. God had placed him over them all; the Papal authority
was not diminished--it was greater than ever, and would be greater still
when there was a pope who dared to act without faction or cowardice. He
reproached the Cardinals with embroiling a clear matter. The brief, he
maintained, was a good brief, faulty perhaps in style, but right in
substance, and approved it was to be, and at once.
It hit all round--hit the English people who continued loyal to their
sovereign, hit the Continental Powers who had treaties with Henry which
they had not broken. The Cardinals thought the Pope would spoil
everything. Campeggio said such a Bull touched the French King, and must
not appear. The Archbishop of Capua went with the Pope: "Issue at once,"
he said, "or the King will be sending protests, as he did in Clement's
time." The Pope spoke in great anger, but to no purpose. The majority of
the Cardinals was against him, and the Bull was allowed to sleep till a
more favourable time. "It is long," said Du Bellay, "since there has been
a Pope less loved by the College, the Romans, and the world."
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