Intended Escape Of The Princess Mary Out Of England

The English Peers are supposed to have been the servile instruments of

Henry VIII.'s tyrannies and caprices, to have been ready to divorce or

murder a wife, or to execute a bishop, as it might please the King to

command. They were about to show that there were limits to their

obedience, and that when they saw occasion they could assert their

independence. Lord Dacre of Naworth was one of the most powerful of the

northern nobles. He had distinguished himself as a supporter of Queen

Catherine, and was particularly detested by the Lady Anne. His name

appears prominently in the lists supplied to Chapuys of those who could be

counted upon in the event of a rising. The Government had good reason,

therefore, to watch him with anxiety. As Warden of the Marches he had been

in constant contact with the Scots, and a Scotch invasion in execution of

the Papal censures had been part of Chapuys's scheme. Dacre was suspected

of underhand dealings with the Scots. He had been indicted at Carlisle

for treason in June, and had been sent to London for trial. He was brought

to the bar before the Peers, assisted by the twelve Judges. An escape of a

prisoner was rare when the Crown prosecuted; the Privy Council prepared

the evidence, drew up their case, and in bringing a man to the bar made

themselves responsible for the charge; failure, therefore, was equivalent

to a vote of censure. The prosecution of Dacre had been set on foot by

Cromwell, who had perhaps been informed of particulars of his conduct

which it was undesirable to bring forward. The Peers looked on Cromwell as

another Wolsey--as another intruding commoner who was taking liberties

with the ancient blood. The Lady Anne was supposed to have borne malice

against Dacre. The Lady Anne was to be made to know that there were limits

to her power. Dacre spoke for seven hours to a sympathetic court; he was

unanimously acquitted, and the City of London celebrated his escape with

bonfires and illuminations. The Court had received a sharp rebuff.

Norfolk, who sate as High Steward, had to accept a verdict of which he

alone disapproved. At Rome the acquittal was regarded as perhaps the

beginning of some commotion with which God was preparing to punish the

King of England.

More serious news arrived from Ireland. While the English Catholics were

muttering discontent and waiting for foreign help, Lord Thomas Fitzgerald,

"the youth of promise" whom Chapuys had recommended to Charles's notice,

had broken into open rebellion, and had forsworn his allegiance to Henry

as an excommunicated sovereign. Fitzgerald was a ferocious savage, but his

crimes were committed in the name of religion. In my history of this

rebellion I connected it with the sacred cause of More and Fisher, and was

severely rebuked for my alleged unfairness. The fresh particulars here to

be mentioned prove that I was entirely right, that the rising in Ireland

was encouraged by the same means, was part of the same conspiracy, that it

was regarded at Rome and by the Papal party everywhere as the first blow

struck in a holy war.

It commenced with the murder of the Archbishop of Dublin, a feeble old

man, who was dragged out of his bed and slaughtered by Fitzgerald's own

hand. It spread rapidly through the English Pale, and Chapuys recorded its

progress with delight. The English had been caught unprepared.

Skeffington, the Deputy, was a fool. Ireland, in Chapuys's opinion, was

practically recovered to the Holy See, and with the smallest assistance

from the Emperor and the Pope the heretics and all their works would be

made an end of there.

A fortnight later he wrote still more enthusiastically. Kildare's son was

absolute master of the island. He had driven the King to ask for terms; he

had refused to listen, and was then everywhere expelling the English or

else killing them.

The pleasure felt by all worthy people, Chapuys said, was incredible. Such

a turn of events was a good beginning for a settlement in England, and the

Catholic party desired his Majesty most passionately not to lose the

opportunity. On all sides the Ambassador was besieged with entreaties. "An

excellent nobleman had met him by appointment in the country, and had

assured him solemnly that the least move on the Emperor's part would end

the matter." The Irish example had "fired all their hearts. They were

longing to follow it."

As this intelligence might fail to rouse Charles, the Ambassador again

added as a further reason for haste that the Queen and Princess were in

danger of losing their lives. Cromwell had been heard to say that their

deaths would end all quarrels. Lord Wiltshire had said the same, and the

fear was that when Parliament reassembled the ladies might be brought to

trial under the statute.

If Cromwell and Lord Wiltshire used the words ascribed to them, no evil

purpose need have been implied or intended. Catherine was a confirmed

invalid; the Princess Mary had just been attacked with an alarming

illness. Chapuys had dissuaded Mary at last from making fresh quarrels

with her governess; she had submitted to the indignities of her situation

with reluctant patience, and had followed unresistingly in the various

removals of Elizabeth's establishment. The irritation, however, had told

on her health, and at the time of Chapuys's conversation with the

"excellent nobleman" her life was supposed to be in danger from ordinary

causes. That Anne wished her dead was natural enough; Anne had recently

been again disappointed, and had disappointed the King in the central wish

of his heart. She had said she was enceinte, but the signs had passed

off. It was rumoured that Henry's feelings were cooling towards her. He

had answered, so Court scandal said, to some imperious message of hers

that she ought to be satisfied with what he had done for her; were things

to begin again he would not do as much. Report said also that there were

nouvelles amours; but, as the alleged object of the King's attention was

a lady devoted to Queen Catherine, the amour was probably innocent. The

Ambassador built little upon this; Anne's will to injure the Princess he

knew to be boundless, and he believed her power over Henry still to be

great. Mary herself had sent him word that she had discovered practices

for her destruction.

Any peril to which she might be exposed would approach her, as Chapuys was

obliged to confess, from one side only. He ascertained that "when certain

members of the Council had advised harsh measures to please the Lady

Anne," the King had told them that he would never consent, and no one at

the Court--neither the Lady nor any other person--dared speak against the

Princess. "The King loved her," so Cromwell said, "a hundred times more

than his latest born." The notion that the statute was to be enforced

against her life was a chimera of malice. In her illness he showed the

deepest anxiety; he sent his own physician to attend on her, and he sent

for her mother's physician from Kimbolton. Chapuys admitted that he was

naturally kind--"d'aymable et cordiale nature"--that his daughter's death

would be a serious blow to himself, however welcome to Anne and to

politicians, and that, beyond his natural feeling, he was conscious that,

occurring under the present circumstances, it would be a stain on his


More than once Henry had interfered for Mary's protection. He had perhaps

heard of what Anne had threatened to do to her on his proposed journey to

Calais. She had been the occasion, at any rate, of sharp differences

between them. He had resented, when he discovered it, the manner in which

she had been dragged to the More, and had allowed her, when staying there,

to be publicly visited by the ladies and gentlemen of the court, to the

Lady's great annoyance. Nay, Mary had been permitted to refuse to leave

her room when Anne had sent for her, and the strictest orders had been

given through Cromwell that anyone who treated her disrespectfully should

be severely punished.

True as all this might be, however, Chapuys's feelings towards the King

were not altered, his fears diminished, or his desire less eager to bring

about a rebellion and a revolution. Lord Thomas Fitzgerald's performances

in Ireland were spurring into energy the disaffected in England. The

nobleman to whom Chapuys had referred was Lord Hussey of Lincolnshire, who

had been Chamberlain to the Princess Mary when she had an establishment of

her own as next in succession to the crown. Lord Hussey was a dear friend

of her mother's. Having opened the ground he again visited the Ambassador

"in utmost secrecy." He told him that he and all the honest men in the

realm were much discouraged by the Emperor's delay to set things straight,

as it was a thing which could so easily be done. The lives of the Queen

and Princess were undoubtedly threatened; their cause was God's cause,

which the Emperor was bound to uphold, and the English people looked to

him as their natural sovereign. Chapuys replied that if the Emperor was to

do as Lord Hussey desired, he feared that an invasion of England would

cause much hurt and suffering to many innocent people. Lord Hussey was

reputed a wise man. Chapuys asked him what would he do himself if he were

in the Emperor's place. Lord Hussey answered that the state of England was

as well known to Chapuys as to himself. Almost everyone was looking for

help to the Emperor. There was no fear of his injuring the people; their

indignation was so great that there would be no resistance. The war would

be over as soon as it was begun. The details, he said, Lord Darcy would

explain better than he could do. The Emperor should first issue a

declaration. The people would then take arms, and would be joined by the

nobles and the clergy.

Fisher had used the same language. Fisher was in the Tower, and no longer

accessible. Lord Darcy of Templehurst has been already seen in drawing the

indictment against Wolsey. He was an old crusader; he had served under

Ferdinand and Isabella, was a Spaniard in sympathy, and was able, as he

represented, to bring eight thousand men into the field from the northern

counties. On Lord Hussey's recommendation Chapuys sent a confidential

servant to Darcy, who professed himself as zealous as his friend. Darcy

said that he was as loyal as any man, but things were going on so

outrageously, especially in matters of religion, that he, for one, could

not bear it longer. In the north there were six hundred lords and

gentlemen who thought as he did. Measures were about to be taken in

Parliament to favour the Lutherans. He was going himself into Yorkshire,

where he intended to commence an opposition. If the Emperor would help him

he would take the field behind the crucifix, and would raise the banner of

Castile. Measures might be concerted with the Scots; a Scotch army might

cross the border as soon as he had himself taken arms; an Imperial

squadron should appear simultaneously at the mouth of the Thames, and a

battalion of soldiers from Flanders should be landed at Hull, with arms

and money for the poorer gentlemen. He and the northern lords would supply

their own forces. Many of the other Peers, he said, entirely agreed with

him. He named especially Lord Derby and Lord Dacre.

This letter is of extreme importance, as explaining the laws which it was

found necessary to pass in the ensuing Parliament. A deeply rooted and

most dangerous conspiracy was actively forming--how dangerous the

Pilgrimage of Grace afterwards proved--in which Darcy and Hussey were the

principal leaders. The Government was well served. The King and Cromwell

knew more than it was prudent to publish. The rebellion meditated was the

more formidable because it was sanctified by the name of religion, with

the avowed purpose of executing the Papal Brief. Fitzgerald's rising in

Ireland was but the first dropping of a storm designed to be universal.

Half the Peers who surrounded Henry's person, and voted in Parliament for

the reforming statutes, were at heart leagued with his enemies. He had a

right to impose a test of loyalty on them, and force them to declare

whether they were his subjects or the Pope's.

For a moment it seemed as if the peril might pass over. It became known in

England in October that Clement VII. had ended his pontificate, and that

Cardinal Farnese reigned in his stead as Paul III. On Clement's death the

King, according to Chapuys, had counted on a schism in the Church, and was

disappointed at the facility with which the election had been carried

through; but Farnese had been on Henry's side in the divorce case, and the

impression in the English Council was that the quarrel with Rome would

now be composed. The Duke of Norfolk, who had been the loudest in his

denunciations of Clement, was of the opinion that the King, as a Catholic

Prince, would submit to his successor. Even Cromwell laid the blame of the

rupture on Clement personally, and when he heard that he was gone,

exclaimed that "the Great Devil was dead." Henry knew better than his

Minister that "the Great Devil" was not this or that pontiff, but the

Papacy itself. He had liberated his kingdom; he did not mean to lead it

back into bondage. "Let no man," he said to Norfolk, "try to persuade me

to such a step. I shall account no more of the Pope than of any priest in

my realm." Farnese undoubtedly expected that Henry would make

advances to him, and was prepared to meet them; he told Casalis that he

had taken a legal opinion as to whether his predecessor's judgment in the

divorce case could be reopened, and a decision given in the King's favour;

the lawyers had assured him that there would be no difficulty, and the

Pope evidently wished the King to believe that he might now have his way

if he would place himself in the Pope's hands. Henry, however, was too

wary to be caught. He must have deeds, not words, he said. If the Pope was

sincere he would revoke his predecessor's sentence of his own accord.

Francis, by whose influence Farnese had been elected, tried to bring Henry

to submission, but to no purpose. The King was no longer to be moved by

vague phrases like those to which he had once trusted to his cost.

Surrounded by treachery though he knew himself to be, he looked no longer

for palliatives and compromises, and went straight on upon his way. The

House of Commons was with him, growing in heartiness at each succeeding

session. The Peers and clergy might conspire in secret. In public, as

estates of the realm, they were too cowardly to oppose.

Parliament met in November. The other Acts which were passed by it this

year are relatively unimportant, and may be read elsewhere. The great

business of the session, which has left its mark on history, was to pass

the Act of Supremacy, detailing and explaining the meaning of the title

which Convocation two years previously had conferred upon the King.

Unentangled any longer with saving clauses, the sovereign authority under

the law in all causes, ecclesiastical and civil, was declared to rest

thenceforward in the Crown, and the last vestiges of Roman jurisdiction in

England were swept off and disappeared. No laws, no injunctions, no

fancied rights over the consciences of English subjects were to be pleaded

further as a rule to their conduct which had not been sanctioned by Crown

and Parliament. No clergy, English or foreign, were to exercise

thenceforward any power not delegated to them and limited under the law of

the land, except what could not be taken from them--their special

privilege of administering the sacraments. Double loyalty to the Crown and

to the Papacy was thenceforward impossible. The Pope had attempted to

depose the King. The Act of Supremacy was England's answer.

But to enact a law was not enough. With Ireland in insurrection, with half

the nobles and more than half the clergy, regular and secular, in England

inviting a Spanish invasion, the King and Commons, who were in earnest in

carrying through the reforms which they had begun, were obliged to take

larger measures to distinguish their friends from their enemies. If the

Catholics had the immense majority to which they pretended, the

Constitution gave them the power of legitimate opposition. If they were

professing with their lips and sustaining with their votes a course of

policy which they were plotting secretly to overthrow, it was fair and

right to compel them to show their true colours. Therefore the Parliament

further enacted that to deny the royal supremacy--in other words, to

maintain the right of the Pope to declare the King deprived--should be

high treason, and the Act was so interpreted that persons who were open to

suspicion might be interrogated, and that a refusal to answer should be

accepted as an acknowledgment of guilt. In quiet times such a measure

would be unnecessary, and therefore tyrannical. Facta arguantur dicta

impune sint. In the face of Chapuys's correspondence it will hardly be

maintained that the reforming Government of Henry VIII. was in no danger.

The Statute of Supremacy must be judged by the reality of the peril which

it was designed to meet. If the Reformation was a crime, the laws by which

it defended itself were criminal along with it. If the Reformation was the

dawning of a new and brilliant era for Imperial England, if it was the

opening of a fountain from which the English genius has flowed out over

the wide surface of the entire globe, the men who watched over its early

trials and enabled the movement to advance, undishonoured and undisfigured

by civil war, deserve rather to be respected for their resolution than

reviled as arbitrary despots. To try the actions of statesmen in a time of

high national peril by the canons of an age of tranquillity is the highest

form of historical injustice.

The naked truth--and nakedness is not always indecent--was something of

this kind. A marriage with a brother's wife was forbidden by the universal

law of Christendom. Kings, dukes, and other great men who disposed as they

pleased of the hands of their sons and daughters, found it often

desirable, for political or domestic reasons, to form connections which

the law prohibited, and therefore they maintained an Italian conjuror who

professed to be able for a consideration to turn wrong into right. To

marriages so arranged it was absurd to attach the same obligations as

belonged to unions legitimately contracted. If, as often happened, such

marriages turned out ill, the same conjuror who could make could unmake.

This function, also, he was repeatedly called on to exercise, and, for a

consideration also, he was usually compliant. The King of England had been

married as a boy to Catherine of Aragon, carrying out an arrangement

between their respective fathers. The marriage had failed in the most

important object for which royal marriages are formed: there was no male

heir to the crown, nor any prospect of one. Henry, therefore, as any other

prince in Europe would have done, applied to the Italian for assistance.

The conjuror was willing, confessing that the case was one where his

abilities might properly be employed. But another of his supporters

interfered, and forced him to refuse. The King of England had always paid

his share for the conjuror's maintenance. He was violently deprived of a

concession which it was admitted that he had a right to claim. But for the

conjuror's pretensions to make the unlawful lawful he would not have been

in the situation in which he found himself. What could be more natural

than that, finding himself thus treated, he should begin to doubt whether

the conjuror, after all, had the power of making wrong into right?

whether the marriage had not been wrong from the beginning? And, when the

magical artist began to curse, as his habit was when doubts were thrown on

his being the Vicar of the Almighty, what could be more natural also than

to throw him and his tackle out of window?

The passing of the Act increased the anxiety about the position of the

Princess Mary. In the opinion of most reasonable persons her claim to the

succession was superior to that of Elizabeth, and, if she had submitted to

her father, it would probably have been allowed and established. In the

eyes of the disaffected, however, she was already, by Clement's sentence,

the legitimate possessor of the throne. Reginald Pole, Lady Salisbury's

son and grandson of the Duke of Clarence, was still abroad. Henry had

endeavoured to gain him over, but had not succeeded. He was of the blood

of the White Rose, and, with his brother, had gone by instinct into

opposition. His birth, in those days of loyalty to race, gave him

influence in England, and Catherine, as has been seen, had fixed upon him

as Mary's husband. He had been brought already under Charles's notice as

likely to be of use in the intended rebellion. The Queen, wrote Chapuys to

the Emperor, knew no one to whom she would better like her daughter to be

married; many right-minded people held that the light to the crown lay in

the family of the Duke of Clarence, Edward's children having been

illegitimate; if the Emperor would send an army across with Lord Reginald

attached to it everyone would declare for him; his younger brother

Geoffrey was a constant visitor to himself; once more he insisted that

nothing could be more easy than the conquest of the whole kingdom.

The object with Chapuys was now to carry Mary abroad, partly that she

might be married to Pole, partly for her own security. Notwithstanding the

King's evident care for her health and good treatment he could not look

into the details of her daily life, and Anne was growing daily more

dangerous. Both Catherine and the Princess had still many friends among

the ladies of the Court. To one of these, young and beautiful--and,

therefore, certainly not the plain Jane Seymour--the King was supposed to

have paid attentions. Like another lady who had been mentioned previously,

she was devoted to Catherine's interests, and obviously not, therefore, a

pretender to Henry's personal affections. Anne had affected to be jealous,

and under other aspects had reason for uneasiness. She had demanded this

lady's dismissal from the court, and had been so violent that "the King

had left her in displeasure, complaining of her importunacy and

vexatiousness." The restoration of Mary to favour was a constant alarm to

Anne, and she had a party of her own which had been raised by her

patronage, depended on her influence, and was ready to execute her

pleasure. Thus the petty annoyances of which both Catherine and her

daughter complained were not discontinued. The household at Kimbolton was

reduced; a confidential maid who had been useful in the Queen's

correspondence was discovered and dismissed. Mary was left under the

control of Mrs. Shelton, who dared not openly displease Anne. It was Anne

that Chapuys blamed.

Anne hated the Princess. The King had a real love for her. In her illness

he had been studiously kind. When told it had been caused by mental

trouble he said, with a sigh, "that it was pity her obstinacy should

prevent him from treating her as he wished and as she deserved. The case

was the harder, as he knew that her conduct had been dictated by her

mother, and he was therefore obliged to keep them separate."

The Privy Councillors appear to have remonstrated with Anne on her

behaviour to Mary. Passionate scenes, at any rate, had occurred between

her and Henry's principal Ministers. She spoke to her uncle, the Duke of

Norfolk, in terms "which would not be used to a dog." Norfolk left the

room in indignation, muttering that she was a "grande putaine." The

malcontents increased daily and became bolder in word and action. Lord

Northumberland, Anne's early lover, of whom Darcy had been doubtful,

professed now to be so disgusted with the malice and arrogance of the Lady

that he, too, looked to the Emperor's coming as the only remedy. Lord

Sandys, Henry's chamberlain, withdrew to his house, pretending sickness,

and sent Chapuys a message that the Emperor had the hearts of the English

people, and, at the least motion which the Emperor might make, the realm

would be in confusion. The news from Fitzgerald was less

satisfactory. His resources were failing, and he wanted help, but he was

still standing out. England, however, was more and more sure; the northern

counties were unanimous, in the south and west the Marquis of Exeter and

the Poles were superior to any force which could be brought against them;

the spread of Lutheranism was creating more exasperation than even the

divorce. Moderate men had hoped for an arrangement with the new Pope.

Instead of it, the heretical preachers were more violent than ever, and

the King was believed to have encouraged them. Dr. Brown, an Augustinian

friar, and General of the Mendicant Order, who, as some believed, had

married the King and Anne, had dared to maintain in a sermon "that the

Bishops and all others who did not burn the Bulls which they had received

from the Pope, and obtain others from the King, deserved to be punished.

Their authority was derived from the King alone. Their sacred chrism would

avail them nothing while they obeyed the Idol of Rome, who was a limb of

the Devil."

"Language so abominable," said Chapuys, in reporting it, "must have been

prompted by the King, or else by Cromwell, who made the said monk his

right hand in all things unlawful;" Cromwell and Cranmer being of Luther's

opinion that there was no difference between priests and bishops, save

what the letters patent of the Crown might constitute. "Cromwell," Chapuys

said, "had been feeling his way with some of the Bench on the subject." At

a meeting of Council he had asked Gardiner and others whether the King

could not make and unmake bishops at his pleasure. They were obliged to

answer that he could, to save their benefices.

Outrages so flagrant had shocked beyond longer endurance the Conservative

mind of England. Darcy, at the beginning of the new year (a year which, as

he hoped, was to witness an end to them), sent Chapuys a present of a

sword, as an indication that the time was come for sword-play. Let

the Emperor send but a little money; let a proclamation be drawn in his

name that the nation was in arms for the cause of God and the Queen, the

comfort of the people, and the restoration of order and justice, and a

hundred thousand men would rush to the field. The present was the

propitious moment. If action was longer delayed it might be too late.

To the enthusiastic and the eager the cause which touches themselves the

nearest seems always the most important in the world. Charles V. had

struggled long to escape the duty which the Pope and destiny appeared to

be combining to thrust upon him. With Germany unsettled, with the Turks in

Hungary, with Barbarossa's corsair-fleet commanding the Mediterranean and

harassing the Spanish coast, with another French war visibly ahead, and a

renewed invasion of Italy, Charles was in no condition to add Henry to the

number of his enemies. Chapuys and Darcy, Fisher and Reginald Pole allowed

passion to persuade them that the English King was Antichrist in person,

the centre of all the disorder which disturbed the world. All else could

wait, but the Emperor must first strike down Antichrist and then the rest

would be easy. Charles was wiser than they, and could better estimate the

danger of what he was called on to undertake; but he could not shut his

ears entirely to entreaties so reiterated. Before anything could be done,

however, means would have to be taken to secure the persons of the Queen

and Princess--of the Princess especially, as she would be in most danger.

So far he had discouraged her escape when it had been proposed to him,

since, were she once in his hands, he had thought that war could no longer

be avoided. He now allowed Chapuys to try what he could do to get her out

of the country, and meanwhile to report more particularly on the landing

of an invading force.

The escape itself presented no great difficulty. The Princess was

generally at the Palace at Greenwich. Her friends would let her out at

night; an armed barge could be waiting off the walls, and a Flemish

man-of-war might be ready at the Nore, of size sufficient to beat off

boats that might be sent in pursuit. Should she be removed elsewhere the

enterprise would not be so easy. In the event of an insurrection while she

was still in the realm, Chapuys said the first step of the Lords would be

to get possession of her mother and Mary. If they failed, the King would

send them to the Tower: but in the Tower they would be out of danger, as

the Constable, Sir William Kingston, was their friend. In any case he did

not believe that hurt would be done them, the King feeling that, if war

did break out, they would be useful as mediators, like the wife and mother

of Coriolanus.

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