Unpopularity Of Anne Boleyn And Removal Of Catherine From The Court

A struggle was now inevitable between the King and the Pope, and the

result of it would depend on the sentiments of the English nation. Chapuys

and the Nuncio believed the majority of the people to be loyally attached

to the see of Rome. To the Pope as pope the King and Council were willing

to submit; but a pope who was the vassal and mouthpiece of another secular

sovereign, they believed the country would support them in refusing to

acknowledge. Was Chapuys right or was the King? The Parliament about to

open would decide. In the clergy of England the Pope had a ready-made army

completely at his devotion. In asserting their independence of civil

control the clerical order had been conscious that they could not stand

alone, and had attached themselves with special devotion to their

Spiritual Sovereign at Rome. They might complain of annates and

first-fruits and other tributes which they were made to pay; but the

Pope's support they knew to be essential to the maintenance of their

professional privileges; and in any contest which might arise they were

certain to be found on the side of the Holy See. The hero of the

imagination of every English priest was Becket of Canterbury. In theory he

regarded the secular prince as ruling only by delegation from the Supreme

Pontiff, and as liable in case of contumacy to be deposed. In case of

quarrel between the clergy and the State the enormous influence of the

Church was pledged to the order and to its chief at Rome.

The spiritualty were already exasperated by the clipping of their claws in

the last session. From the Bishop of Rochester, who represented clerical

opinion in its most accentuated form, from great ladies, and from a party

of the nobles with whom, as Catherine's friends, he mainly associated,

Chapuys had heard unanimous censures of the King's conduct. These persons

told him that the whole nation agreed with them, and certainly the

opposition of a body so powerful as the clergy was by itself formidable.

Before it came to war, therefore, with the Pontiff, the King had prepared

his measures to disarm the Pontiff's legionaries. To clip their claws was

not enough. Their mouths had to be held with bit and bridle. Parliament,

after repeated prorogations, was opened at last in January. Convocation,

which was called simultaneously, was put formally in possession of a fact

which had appeared on the first rumour of it incredible--that the whole

body of the clergy lay under Praemunire for having recognised Cardinal

Wolsey's legation and the Papal Bull by which it was instituted. It was an

intimation that the old English laws were awake again. The clergy were

subjects of the Crown, not of the Pope, and to impress the fact upon their

minds they learnt that legally their property was forfeited, that they

would obtain their pardon only on paying a fine of a hundred thousand

pounds, and on distinctly acknowledging the King as the Supreme Head of

the Church of England. Chapuys's correspondence explained the motives of

the Government in extorting the confession; and justified the arbitrary

use which was made of the Praemunire. The Pope was being urged to

excommunicate the King and declare him deposed. The clergy, through whom

the Pope would act, were to be forced to admit that they were subjects of

the Crown and were bound to obey the laws of their country. It was in no

idle vanity, no ambitious caprice that Henry VIII. demanded the title

which has been so much debated. It was as a practical assertion of the

unity and independence of the realm. England was to have but one sovereign

supreme within her own limits, with whom no foreign prince, secular or

spiritual, had a right to interfere; and an acknowledgement of their

obligation was demanded in ample form from the order which looked

elsewhere for its superior. The black regiments were to be compelled to

swear allegiance to the proper sovereign.

Clement's mind had always misgiven him that, if he pushed Henry too far,

mischief would befall him. He had refused the last brief till it was

extorted from him. As if Mai had not been pressing and vehement

enough, Catherine had now at Rome a special representative of her own, Dr.

Ortiz, a bitter Catholic theologian with the qualities which belong to

that profession. Mai and Ortiz together, listening to no excuse, drove the

Pope on from day to day, demanding sentence with its inevitable

consequence. The Cardinals were alarmed. One of them told Mai that, in

his opinion, the original dispensation really was void, that Julius had

no faculty to dispense in such a case. The Pope suggested that the affair

might be suspended for two years. It might then, perhaps, drop and be

forgotten. He enquired whether, if the King consented to plead by proxy

before him, the Emperor would agree to any accommodation. Should the

case go on, it might last fifteen or twenty years. All the Cardinals, said

Mai, nay, the Pope himself, would like to put off the affair entirely, to

avoid trouble. The Court of Rome had, in fact, discovered at last

that matters were really serious, that Henry would not be played with, and

that the quarrel must be peaceably settled. Mai and Ortiz were furious.

They insisted on immediate action. Delay, they said, would be injurious to

the Queen. Their orders were to urge the Pope to proceed and pass

sentence, whether the parties appeared or not. They hinted that very soon

there would be no more trouble from England; they had been told, and they

believed, that, with the clergy on Catherine's side, a Papal decree would

end the whole business.

Their confidence was shaken and their activity rudely arrested by the news

of the Praemunire and the demand for the submission of the English clergy.

Too well the meaning of it was understood. On Chapuys and the Nuncio it

fell like a thunderbolt. They held an anxious consultation, and they

agreed on the least wise measure which they could possibly have adopted.

The Nuncio, as representing the majesty of the Holy See, determined to go

himself to Convocation, and exhort the Bishops to uphold the Church and

resist the King and the House of Commons. He actually went, and was much

astonished at the reception which he met with. The right reverend body was

so "scandalised" at his intrusion that they entreated him to withdraw,

without giving him time to declare his errand. They told him that, if he

had anything to say, "he must address himself to the Archbishop of

Canterbury, who was not then present." The Nuncio had to withdraw

precipitately. In his vexation he had not even the prudence to depart

quietly, but insisted on thrusting on the Bishop of London the words which

he had meant to speak.

The Bishops and clergy themselves were compelled to submit to the

inevitable. The law under which they suffered had marked an epoch of

successful resistance to Papal usurpation. The revival of it was to mark

another and a greater. They struggled long enough and violently enough to

deprive their resistance of dignity, and then, "swearing they would never

consent," consented. They agreed to pay the hundred thousand pounds as the

price of their pardon. They agreed, in accepting it, to acknowledge the

King as Supreme Head of the English Church, and, to ease their conscience,

they were allowed to introduce as a qualifying phrase, quantum per legem

Christi licet. But the law of Christ would avail them little for their

special privileges. It would have to be interpreted by the rejection of

another form which they had desired to substitute and were not allowed.

For "legem Christi" they had desired to read "legem Ecclesiae." The

supposed claims of the Church were precisely what they were to be

compelled to disavow.

It was done. The enchantment was gone from them. They had become as other

men, shorn Samsons and no longer dangerous. The Pope might say what he

pleased. The clergy were now the King's servants, and not the Pope's, and

must either support the Crown or become confessed traitors. Thus when the

Brief arrived, the Nuncio was allowed to present it. The King took it with

a smile and passed it on to the Privy Council, talked to him

good-humouredly of indifferent matters, and had never been more polite. In

a light way he told the Nuncio that he knew of his attempt to persuade the

Bishops to agree to nothing to the Pope's prejudice; but his anxiety was

unnecessary; no injury would be done to the Pope, unless the Pope brought

it upon himself. The King's graciousness was but too intelligible. To

Catherine and Chapuys and all their friends the meaning of it was that

Henry had made himself "Pope" in England. The Queen foresaw her own fate

as too sure to follow. She feared "that, since the King was not ashamed of

doing such monstrous things, and there being no one who could or dared

contradict him, he might, one of these days, undertake some further

outrage against her own person."

The blame of the defeat was thrown on the unfortunate Clement. The Pope's

timidity and dissimulation, wrote Chapuys, had produced the effect which

he had all along foretold. It had prejudiced the Queen's interests and his

own authority. Her cause was making no progress. The Pope had promised Mai

that if the King disobeyed his first brief and allowed Anne Boleyn to

remain at court he would excommunicate him, and now all that he had done

had been to issue another conditional brief less strong than the first,

and the Lady was left defiant and with as much authority as ever. The

Queen had begun to think that the Pope had no desire to settle the matter,

and, as Norfolk observed to Chapuys, was glad that the Princes should be

at discord, for fear they might combine to reform the clergy. If the Pope

had directly ordered the King to separate from the Lady Anne, the King

would never have claimed the supremacy which had caused such

universal consternation. The Chancellor [Sir Thomas More] was so horrified

at it, Chapuys said, that he would quit office as soon as possible. The

Bishop of Rochester was sick with grief. He opposed as much as he could;

but they threatened to fling him and his friends into the river, so he had

to yield at last, and had taken to his bed in despair. The Bishops, it was

thought, would now do anything against the Queen which they were ordered,

especially seeing how cold and indifferent the Pope seemed about her fate.

The Nuncio had questioned the King about the nature of his new Papacy. The

King told him that if the Pope showed him proper respect he might retain

his lawful authority, "otherwise he knew what he would himself do."

The last words were explained in another letter in which Chapuys said that

the Lady Anne was supporting the Lutherans. They had been treated to

prison and stake while More had held the seals. On More's retirement they

were now to have an easier time of it. Between them and the King there was

the link of a common enemy in the Pope, and the King was showing a

disposition to protect them. The revival of the Praemunire created

embarrassments of many kinds. The Pope had officials of his own in

England and Ireland, whom he appointed himself, and could not realise the

extent of the change which he had brought on. It is amusing to find him in

the midst of the storm peacefully soliciting Henry for help against the

Turks, and the Nuncio paying friendly visits to the palace. Henry told him

that he had made a final appeal to Rome and was waiting to see the result.

The Pope might excommunicate him if he pleased; he cared nothing for his

excommunication; the Emperor might, no doubt, hurt him; but he was not

sure that the Emperor desired to hurt him, or, if it came to that, he

could defend himself and the realm. Norfolk was equally decided. They

knew, he said, that the Queen and the Emperor were pressing the Pope for

sentence, but it was time lost. If the Pope issued ten thousand

excommunications, no notice would be taken of them. The Archbishop and not

the Pope was the lawful judge in English causes. Chapuys expressed a hope

that a day would come when the King would listen to his true friends

again, etc. "You will see before long," replied the Duke, "that the

Emperor will repent of not having consented to the divorce."

In fact, the Emperor had begun to repent already, or, if not to repent,

yet to be perplexed with the addition which his action had brought upon

him to his many burdens. The Praemunire and the successful establishment of

the authority of the Crown over the clergy had startled all Europe. The

King and Parliament, it had been universally supposed, would yield before

a threat of excommunication. When it appeared that they were as careless

of the Pope's curses as Luther and the Elector of Saxony, the affair wore

another aspect. Even the Imperialist Cardinals in the Consistory came

round to the Pope's own view and wished to let the cause rest for two or

three years. Mai feared that such a course might lead to Novedades or

revolution, but admitted that much might be said for it, especially

considering the difficulties in Germany. He ceased to press the Pope for

immediate sentence, and Dr. Ortiz, Catherine's passionate agent,

complained that he found the Emperor's Ambassador growing cold and less

eager to support his own arguments. Catherine, seeing her clerical

friends prostrated, could but renew her entreaties to her own relations.

Her position was growing daily weaker. The nation, seeing the Pope

confining himself to weak threats and unable or unwilling to declare her

marriage valid, was rapidly concluding that on the main question the King

was right, and that to throw the realm into a convulsion for an

uncertainty was not tolerable. No appeal had as yet been made to

Parliament, but "the King of France," Catherine wrote to Charles, "has

asked the Pope to delay sentence. If this be allowed, the means now

employed by these people to gain the consent of the nation to his second

marriage are such that they will obtain what they desire and accomplish my

ruin at the next session. If the delay be not already granted, I entreat

your Highness not to consent to it. Insist that the Pope shall give

judgment before next October, when Parliament will meet again. Forgive my

importunity. I cannot rest till justice is done to me. For the love of

Heaven let it be done before the time I name. I myself, if it must be so,

shall go to Parliament and declare before its members the justice of my


The harassed Pope was obstinately cautious, and occasionally even turned

upon his persecutors. Mai now urged him to call a General Council and

settle all questions. The word "council" rang painfully in Papal ears. Why

did not the Emperor make war upon the Lutherans? he pettishly asked. Mai

told him the Lutherans were rich and stubborn and strong, and it would be

an endless work. Why not then, said Clement, begin with the Swiss, who

were not so strong? Mai answered that it could not be. The heretics

everywhere made common cause, and the Emperor could not fight them all

single-handed. The Pope sighed, and said he feared there would be little

help from France and England.

In England events moved steadily on, without hesitation, yet without

precipitation. The Bishops were not yet agreed on the divorce. At the

close of the session (March, 1531) Sir Thomas More read in the Upper House

the opinions which had been collected from the Universities at home and

abroad, and a debate ensued upon them.... London and Lincoln were on the

King's side. St. Asaph and Bath were of opinion that Parliament had no

right to interfere. Norfolk cut the argument short by saying that the

documents had been introduced merely to be read. There was no proposal

before the House. More said briefly that the King knew what his opinion

was, and that he need not repeat it. The judgments were sent down to the

House of Commons, where Chapuys persuaded himself that they were heard

with more displeasure than approval. The session ended, and Parliament

was prorogued till the following autumn. The Emperor himself wrote to

More. The letter was forwarded through Chapuys, who wished to deliver it

in person. More declined his visit and declined the letter. If it was

placed in his hand, he said, he must communicate it to the King.

Parliament having risen, there was again a breathing time.

So far as the persons of the two ladies were concerned who were the

central figures in the quarrel, there was little difference of opinion in

England. The Duke of Norfolk, who represented the feelings of the great

body of the nation, thought that the interests of the succession made the

divorce a necessity. The realm could not be left exposed to the risk of

another civil war. He was jealous of the honour and liberties of the

country, and ill liked to see a question which touched them so nearly left

to the pleasure of the Emperor. But Norfolk as much admired Catherine as

he disliked his niece, and there were probably few English statesmen who

did not regret that a public cause should have been tainted by a

love-affair. All the leading men regretted that the King had fastened his

choice upon a person neither liked nor respected. Anne's antecedents were

unfavourable. Her elevation had turned her brain; she had made herself

detested for her insolence and dreaded for her intrigues. Catherine, on

the other hand, was a princess of royal birth and stainless honour. The

Duke observed to the Marquis of Exeter that it was a wonder to see her

courage--nothing seemed to frighten her; "the Devil and no other," he

said, "must have originated so wretched a business." The same view of the

matter was growing at Rome in the Pope and among the Cardinals. The Bishop

of Tarbes, who represented Francis at the Papal Court, warned Clement that

the loss of England might be the loss of France also. If the King of

England, he said, was driven to desperation, the miserable divorce suit

would be the ruin of the world; Francis would and must stand by him if the

Pope proceeded to excommunication. His impatience with his marriage might

be unreasonable, but was no adequate ground for the convulsion of Catholic

Christendom. Clement was at heart of the same opinion. The course which he

wished to follow was to delay indefinitely. A formal suspension would not

be needed. They had only to go on slowly. The King would then most likely

marry, and the cause would drop. Andrea de Burgo, Ferdinand's ambassador,

said that the Emperor was strong enough to settle the matter by himself.

"Not so strong as you think," Clement observed. "Between the Turks and the

Lutherans the Emperor may have trouble enough of his own."

The Pope's unwillingness was well understood in England. He made another

faint effort to save Catherine; he ordered the Nuncio to announce to Henry

that the brief must be obeyed, or "justice would have its course."

Believing that the message would be resented, the Nuncio hesitated to

deliver it, but, encouraged by Chapuys, at last demanded audience and

informed Henry in the Pope's name what he was to expect if he persisted.

Henry shortly answered that the Pope was losing his time. He already knew

what the Nuncio had come to tell him, but, once for all, he would never

accept the Pope as his judge in an affair concerning himself and the

English nation. "The Pope may excommunicate me," he said. "I care not a

fig for his excommunication. Let him do as he wills at Rome. I will do

here as I will.... I take the Pope to be a worthy man on the whole, but

ever since the last war he has been so afraid of the Emperor that he dares

not act against his wishes."

The most obvious resource was to adopt the suggestion already made that

the case should be transferred to Cambray, or to some other spot not open

to objection, where it could be heard with impartiality. Clement himself

was weary of the struggle, and eager to escape from it by any reasonable

means. If Catherine would agree, Charles was unlikely to hesitate; but,

though weary and worn out with disappointments, she was a resolute woman,

and as long as she persisted the Emperor was determined not to desert her.

With small hope of success, but as an experiment which it was thought

desirable to try, a deputation of Peers and Bishops were commissioned to

see Catherine, to ask her to withdraw her demand for an immediate

sentence, and consent that the cause should be tried in a neutral place;

while the Pope, through his Legate in Spain, made a similar proposition to

Charles. The Queen heard that they were coming, and prepared for them by

causing several "masses of the Holy Ghost" to be said, that she might be

enlightened how to answer. The delegates arrived shortly after the masses

were completed, the two Dukes, Lord Exeter, Earls, Barons, Bishops, and

canon lawyers, thirty of them in all. Norfolk spoke for the rest. He said

that the King had been treated with contempt and vituperation by the Pope

on her account; he had been cited to appear personally at Rome--a measure

never before enforced by any pope against an English king. He could not

go; he could not leave his kingdom--nor could the dispute be settled by

the Pope's insistence on it. A fitter place and fitter judges must be

chosen by the mutual consent of the parties, or she would be the cause of

trouble and scandal to them and their posterity. The Duke entreated her to

consider the consequences of refusal--to remember the many good services

which the King had rendered to her father and to the Emperor, and to allow

the constitution of some other court before which the King could plead.

In itself the demand was reasonable. It was impossible for a king of

England to plead before the Pope, in the power, as he was, of the Emperor,

who was himself a party interested in the dispute. A neutral place might

have been easily found. Neutral judges might be less easily procurable;

but none could be less fit than his Holiness. The Queen, however, replied

stoutly as ever that her cause should be judged by the Pope and by no one

else; not that she expected any favour at his hands; so far the Pope had

shown himself so partial to the King that more could not be asked of him;

she, and not the King, had cause to complain of his Holiness; but the Pope

held the place and had the power of God upon earth, and was the image of

eternal truth. To him, and only to him, she remitted her case. If trouble

came, it would be the work of others, not of her. She allowed that in past

times the King had assisted her relations. The Emperor had not denied it,

and was the King's true friend. With a scornful allusion to the Supremum

Caput, she said, the King might be Lord and Master in temporal matters,

but the Pope was the true Sovereign and Vicar of God in matters

spiritual, of which matrimony was one.

The Spanish Legate had succeeded no better with Charles, who returned a

peremptory refusal; but so little confidence had the Emperor in the true

Sovereign and Vicar of God that he insisted not merely that the Pope

should try the case but should try it in his own presence, lest the

Queen's interests should suffer injury. The request itself indicated a

disposition on the Pope's part to evade his duty. Charles gave him to

understand, in language sufficiently peremptory, that he intended that

duty to be done.

In this direction there was no hope. Catherine had been even more emphatic

with the deputation. After her reply to Norfolk, the bishops and lawyers

took up the word. She always denied that she had been Prince Arthur's

actual wife. She herself on all occasions courted the subject, and was not

afraid of indelicacy. The Church doctors responded. They said she had

slept with Prince Arthur, and the presumptions were against her. She bade

them go plead their presumptions at Rome, where they would have others

than a woman to answer them. She was astonished, she said, to see so many

great people gathered against a lone lady without friends or counsel.

Among the great persons before her she had still some staunch friends.

Anne Boleyn was detested by them all; and those who, like Norfolk, wished

her, for her own sake, to be less uncompromising could not refuse to

admire the gallant spirit of Isabella's daughter. But, alas! the refusal

to allow the cause to be heard in a free city, before an impartial

tribunal, was equivalent to a consciousness that, unless by a court under

the Emperor's control, an unfavourable judgment was to be looked for. They

could not, any one of them, allow their Sovereign to plead where an

Imperial Minister could threaten the lives of uncompliant Cardinals. But,

unless every knightly feeling had been dead in them, they could not have

refused their sympathy. Had the Pope spoken plainly from the first, most

of the Peers would perhaps have stood by the lady before them with voice

and sword. But the Pope had allowed that the King was in the right. He had

drawn back only under compulsion, and even at that moment was only

prevented by fear from deciding on the King's side. Glad as they might

have been had the question never been raised, they could not submit their

Prince to the indignity of a condemnation by a coerced tribunal--a

tribunal which was to be trusted to proceed only, as it now appeared, in

the Emperor's own presence.

They carried the answer back to their master. "I feared it would be so,"

he said, "knowing as I do the heart and temper of the Queen. We must now

provide in some other way."

Norfolk, who wished well to the Queen, regretted that she had taken a

course so little likely to profit her. "The Emperor's action," he said,

"in causing the King to be cited to Rome was outrageous and unprecedented.

The cause ought to be tried in England, and the Queen had been unwise in

rejecting the advice of the Peers."

The Emperor on reflection reconsidered his own first refusal to allow the

cause to be transferred; to insist on the trial being conducted before

himself was really intolerable, and he drew a more moderate reply; but he

still persisted that the Pope alone should hear the case, and decide it in

the Queen's favour. "The affair," he said, "was of such a nature as to

admit of no solution save the declaring that a marriage contracted with

the authority and license of the Holy See was valid and indissoluble. As

the patron and defender of the Apostolic See he was more in duty bound

than any other Prince to remove and defend all small offences and

disputes." In fact he still advanced a claim of sovereign jurisdiction

which it was impossible for England to allow.

Catherine was well aware that the Pope had been a party to the request for

the removal of her cause, and bitterly she railed at him. Charles sent her

a copy of his own answer. It reassured her, if she had doubted; she saw

that, let Clement struggle how he would, she could be confident that her

nephew would compel him to decide for her. The Pope, she announced, was

responsible for all that had happened by refusing to do her justice. This

last move showed that he was as little disposed to apply the remedy

as he had been. If the cause was removed from Rome, the judges, whoever

they might be, would declare that black was white.

Up to this time Catherine had continued at the Court with her own

apartments, and with the Princess Mary as her companion. She had refused

the only available means of a peaceful arrangement, and was standing out,

avowedly resting on the Emperor's protection. She was not reticent. She

spoke out freely of her wrongs and her expectations. To separate mother

and daughter would have been a needless aggravation had the suit been

between private individuals. But Mary was a public person with her own

rights on the succession. It was found necessary to remove Catherine from

London and to place the Princess out of reach of her influence. Moor Park,

which had been a country-house of Wolsey's, was assigned for the Queen's

residence, while Mary was sent to the palace at Richmond. Catherine was

too proud to resist when resistance would be useless, but she said she

would prefer the Tower. The Nuncio remonstrated. He advised the King

"to recall her to the Court and shut a hundred thousand tongues." The King

replied, "nearly in tears," that he had sent her away because she used

such high words and was always threatening him with the Emperor. Of

Mary, Henry was personally fond. He met her one day in Richmond Park,

spoke affectionately to her, and regretted that he saw her so seldom. She

cannot be where the Lady is, said Chapuys, "because the Lady has declared

that she will not have it, nor hear of her." She would not even allow the

King to speak to Mary without being watched on the occasion just

mentioned. She sent two of her people to report what passed between


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