How Wolsey Was Disgraced By The King

On the following day, a reconciliation took place between the king and

Anne Boleyn. During a ride in the great park with his royal brother,

Suffolk not only convinced him of the groundlessness of his jealousy,

but contrived to incense him strongly against Wolsey. Thus the queen and

the cardinal lost the momentary advantage they had gained, while Anne's

power was raised yet higher. Yielding to her entreaties not to see

Catherine again, nor to hold further conference with Wolsey until the

sentence of the court should be pronounced, Henry left the castle that

very day, and proceeded to his palace of Bridewell. The distress of the

unhappy queen at this sudden revolution of affairs may be conceived.

Distrusting Wolsey, and putting her sole reliance on Heaven and the

goodness of her cause, she withdrew to Blackfriars, where she remained

till the court met. As to the cardinal himself, driven desperate by

his situation, and exasperated by the treatment he had experienced,

he resolved, at whatever risk, to thwart Henry's schemes, and revenge

himself upon Anne Boleyn.

Thus matters continued till the court met as before in the

Parliament-chamber, at Blackfriars. On this occasion Henry was present,

and took his place under a cloth of estate,--the queen sitting at some

distance below him. Opposite them were the legates, with the Archbishop

of Canterbury, and the whole of the bishops. The aspect of the

assemblage was grave and anxious. Many eyes were turned on Henry, who

looked gloomy and menacing, but the chief object of interest was the

queen, who, though pale as death, had never in her highest days of power

worn a more majestic and dignified air than on this occasion.

The proceedings of the court then commenced, and the king being called

by the crier, he immediately answered to the summons. Catherine was next

called, and instead of replying, she marched towards the canopy beneath

which the king was seated, prostrated herself, and poured forth a most

pathetic and eloquent appeal to him, at the close of which she arose,

and making a profound reverence, walked out of the court, leaning upon

the arm of her general receiver, Griffith. Henry desired the crier to

call her back, but she would not return; and seeing the effect produced

by her address upon the auditory, he endeavoured to efface it by an

eulogium on her character and virtues, accompanied by an expression of

deep regret at the step he was compelled to take in separating himself

from her. But his hypocrisy availed him little, and his speech was

received with looks of ill-disguised incredulity. Some further discourse

then took place between the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop

of Rochester; but as the queen had absented herself, the court was

adjourned to the next day, when it again met, and as she did not then

appear, though summoned, she was pronounced contumacious. After repeated

adjournments, the last session was held, and judgment demanded on the

part of the king, when Campeggio, as had been arranged between him and

Wolsey, declined to pronounce it until he had referred the matter to the

Pope, and the court was dissolved.

About two months after this event, during which time the legate's

commission had been revoked, while Henry was revolving the expediency of

accomplishing the divorce through the medium of his own ecclesiastical

courts, and without reference to that of Rome, a despatch was received

from the Pope by the two cardinals, requiring them to cite the king

to appear before him by attorney on a certain day. At the time of the

arrival of this instrument, Campeggio chanced to be staying with Wolsey

at his palace at Esher, and as the king was then holding his court at

Windsor, they both set out for the castle on the following day, attended

by a retinue of nearly a hundred horsemen, splendidly equipped.

It was now the middle of September, and the woods, instead of presenting

one uniform mass of green, glowed with an infinite variety of lovely

tints. And yet, despite the beauty of the scene, there was something

melancholy in witnessing the decline of the year, as marked by those old

woods, and by the paths that led through them, so thickly strewn with

leaves. Wolsey was greatly affected. "These noble trees will ere long

bereft of all their glories," he thought, "and so, most likely, will it

be with me, and perhaps my winter may come sooner than theirs!"

The cardinal and his train had crossed Staines Bridge, and passing

through Egham, had entered the great park near Englefield Green. They

were proceeding along the high ridge overlooking the woody region

between it and the castle, when a joyous shout in the glades beneath

reached them, and looking down, they saw the king accompanied by Anne

Boleyn, and attended by his falconers and a large company of horsemen,

pursuing the sport of hawking. The royal party appeared so much

interested in their sport that they did not notice the cardinal and his

train, and were soon out of sight. But as Wolsey descended Snow Hill,

and entered the long avenue, he heard the trampling of horses at a

little distance, and shortly afterwards, Henry and Anne issued from out

the trees. They were somewhat more than a bow-shot in advance of the

cardinal; but instead of halting till he came up, the king had no sooner

ascertained who it was, than, despatching a messenger to the castle, who

was seen galloping swiftly down the avenue, he rode off with Anne Boleyn

towards the opposite side of the park. Though deeply mortified by the

slight, Wolsey concealed his vexation from his brother cardinal, and

pursued his way to the castle, before which he presently arrived. The

gate was thrown open at his approach, but he had scarcely entered

the lower ward when Sir Henry Norris, the king's groom of the stole,

advanced to meet him, and, with a sorrowful expression of countenance,

said that his royal master had so many guests at the castle, that he

could not accommodate him and his train.

"I understand your drift, sir," replied Wolsey; "you would tell me I am

not welcome. Well, then, his eminence Cardinal Campeggio and myself must

take up our lodging at some hostel in the town, for it is necessary we

should see the king."

"If your grace is content to dismiss your attendants," said Norris in a

low tone, "you and Cardinal Campeggio can be lodged in Henry the Third's

Tower. Thus much I will take upon me; but I dare not admit you to the

royal lodgings."

Wolsey tried to look unconcerned, and calling to his gentleman usher,

George Cavendish, gave him some instructions in a low voice, upon which

the other immediately placed himself at the head of the retinue, and

ordered them to quit the castle with him, leaving only the jester,

Patch, to attend upon his master. Campeggio's attendants being

comparatively speaking, few in number, were allowed to remain, and

his litter was conveyed to Henry the Third's Tower--a fortification

standing, as already stated, in the south side of the lower ward, near

the edge of the dry moat surrounding the Round Tower. At the steps of

this tower Wolsey dismounted, and was about to follow Campeggio into

the doorway, when Will Sommers, who had heard of his arrival, stepped

forward, and with a salutation of mock formality, said, "I am sure it

will grieve the king, my master, not to be able to accommodate your

grace's train; but since it is larger than his own, you will scarce

blame his want of hospitality."

"Nor the courtesy of his attendants," rejoined Wolsey sharply. "I am in

no mood for thy jesting now. Stand aside, sirrah, or I will have the rod

applied to thy back!"

"Take care the king does not apply the rod to your own, lord cardinal,"

retorted Will Sommers. "If he scourges you according to your deserts,

your skin will be redder than your robe." And his mocking laugh pursued

Wolsey like the hiss of a snake into the tower.

Some two hours after this, Henry and his attendants returned from the

chase. The king seemed in a blithe humour, and Wolsey saw him laugh

heartily as Will Sommers pointed with his bauble towards Henry the

Third's Tower. The cardinal received no invitation to the royal banquet;

and the answer to his solicitation for an interview was, that he and

Campeggio would be received in the presence-chamber on the following

morning, but not before.

That night a great revel was held in the castle. Masquing, dancing,

and feasting filled up the evening, and the joyous sounds and strains

reached Wolsey in his seclusion, and forced him to contrast it with his

recent position, when he would have been second only to the king in the

entertainment. He laid his head upon his pillow, but not to rest, and

while tossing feverishly about his couch, he saw the arras with which

the walls were covered, move, and a tall, dark figure step from behind

it. The cardinal would have awakened his jester, who slept in a small

truckle-bed at his feet, but the strange visitor motioned him to be


"You may conjecture who I am, cardinal," he said, "but in case you

should doubt, I will tell you. I am Herne the Hunter! And now to my

errand. There is a damsel, whom you once saw in the forest near the

great lake, and whom you promised to befriend. You can assist her

now--to-morrow it may be out of your power."

"I have enough to do to aid myself, without meddling with what concerns

me not," said Wolsey.

"This damsel does concern you," cried Herne. "Read this, and you will

see in what way."

And he tossed a letter to Wolsey, who glanced at it by the light of the


"Ha! is it so?" he exclaimed. "Is she--"

"Hush!" cried Herne, "or you will wake this sleeper. It is as you

suppose. Will you not aid her now? Will you not bestow some of your

treasure upon her before it is wholly wrested from you by the king? I

will do aught you wish, secretly and swiftly."

"Go, then, to my palace at Esher," cried the cardinal. "Take this key

to my treasurer--it is the key of my coffers. Bid him deliver to you the

six caskets in the cabinet in the gilt chamber. Here is a token by which

he will know that you came from me," he added, delivering him a small

chain of gold, "for it has been so agreed between us. But you will be

sure to give the treasure to Mabel."

"Fear nothing," replied Herne. And stretching forth his hand to receive

the key and the chain, he glided behind the tapestry, and disappeared.

This strange incident gave some diversion to Wolsey's thought; but ere

long they returned to their former channel. Sleep would not be summoned,

and as soon as the first glimpse of day appeared, he arose, and wrapping

his robe around him, left his room and ascended a winding staircase

leading to the roof of the tower.

The morning promised to be fine, but it was then hazy, and the greater

part of the forest was wrapped in mist. The castle, however, was seen to

great advantage. Above Wolsey rose the vast fabric of the Round Tower,

on the summit of which the broad standard was at that moment being

unfurled; while the different battlements and towers arose majestically

around. But Wolsey's gaze rested chiefly upon the exquisite mausoleum

lying immediately beneath him; in which he had partly prepared

for himself a magnificent monument. A sharp pang shook him as he

contemplated it, and he cried aloud, "My very tomb will be wrested from

me by this rapacious monarch; and after all my care and all my cost, I

know not where I shall rest my bones!"

Saddened by the reflection, he descended to his chamber, and again threw

himself on the couch.

But Wolsey was not the only person in the castle who had passed a

sleepless night. Of the host of his enemies many had been kept awake by

the anticipation of his downfall on the morrow; and among these was

Anne Boleyn, who had received an assurance from the king that her enmity

should at length be fully gratified.

At the appointed hour, the two cardinals, proceeded to the royal

lodgings. They were detained for some time in the ante-chamber, where

Wolsey was exposed to the taunts and sneers of the courtiers, who had

lately so servilely fawned upon him. At length, they were ushered

into the presence chamber, at the upper end of which beneath a canopy

emblazoned with the royal arms woven in gold, sat Henry, with Anne

Boleyn on his right hand. At the foot of the throne stood Will Sommers,

and near him the Dukes of Richmond and Suffolk. Norfolk, Rochford, and

a number of other nobles, all open enemies of Wolsey, were also present.

Henry watched the advance of the cardinals with a stern look, and after

they had made an obeisance to him, he motioned them to rise.

"You have sought an interview with me, my lords," he said, with

suppressed rage. "What would you?"

"We have brought an instrument to you, my liege," said Wolsey, "which

has just been received from his holiness the Pope."

"Declare its nature," said Henry.

"It is a citation," replied Wolsey, "enjoining your high ness to appear

by attorney in the papal court, under a penalty of ten thousand ducats."

And he presented a parchment, stamped with the great seal of Rome, to

the king, who glanced his eye fiercely over it, and then dashed it to

the ground, with an explosion of fury terrible to hear and to witness.

"Ha! by Saint George!" he cried; "am I as nothing, that the Pope dares

to insult me thus?"

"It is a mere judicial form your majesty," interposed Campeggio, "and

is chiefly sent by his holiness to let you know we have no further

jurisdiction in the matter of the divorce."

"I will take care you have not, nor his holiness either," roared the

king. "By my father's head, he shall find I will be no longer trifled


"But, my liege," cried Campeggio.

"Peace!" cried the king. "I will hear no apologies nor excuses. The

insult has been offered, and cannot be effaced. As for you, Wolsey--"

"Sire!" exclaimed the cardinal, shrinking before the whirlwind of

passion, which seemed to menace his utter extermination.

"As for you, I say," pursued Henry, extending his hand towards him,

while his eyes flashed fire, "who by your outrageous pride have so long

overshadowed our honour--who by your insatiate avarice and appetite for

wealth have oppressed our subjects--who by your manifold acts of bribery

and extortion have impoverished our realm, and by your cruelty and

partiality have subverted the due course of justice and turned it to

your ends--the time is come when you shall receive due punishment for

your offences."

"You wrong me, my dear liege," cried Wolsey abjectly. "These are the

accusations of my enemies. Grant me a patient hearing, and I will

explain all."

"I would not sharpen the king's resentment against you, lord cardinal,"

said Anne Boleyn, "for it is keen enough; but I cannot permit you to

say that these charges are merely hostile. Those who would support

the king's honour and dignity must desire to see you removed from his


"I am ready to take thy place, lord cardinal," said Will Sommers; "and

will exchange my bauble for thy chancellor's mace, and my fool's cap for

thy cardinal's hat."

"Peace!" thundered the king. "Stand not between me and the object of my

wrath. Your accusers are not one but many, Wolsey; nay, the whole of my

people cry out for justice against you. And they shall have it. But you

shall hear the charges they bring. Firstly, contrary to our prerogative,

and for your own advancement and profit, you have obtained authority

legatine from the Pope; by which authority you have not only spoiled and

taken away their substance from many religious houses, but have usurped

much of our own jurisdiction. You have also made a treaty with the

King of France for the Pope without our consent, and concluded another

friendly treaty with the Duke of Ferrara, under our great seal, and

in our name, without our warrant. And furthermore you have presumed to

couple yourself with our royal self in your letters and instructions, as

if you were on an equality with us."

"Ha! ha! 'The king and I would have you do thus!' 'The king and I give

you our hearty thanks!' Ran it not so, cardinal?" cried Will Sommers.

"You will soon win the cap and bells."

"In exercise of your legatine authority," pursued the king, "you have

given away benefices contrary to our crown and dignity, for the which

you are in danger of forfeiture of your lands and goods."

"A premunire, cardinal," cried Will Sommers. "A premunire!--ha! ha!"

"Then it has been your practice to receive all the ambassadors to our

court first at your own palace," continued Henry, "to hear their charges

and intentions, and to instruct them as you might see fit. You have also

so practised that all our letters sent from beyond sea have first come

to your own hands, by which you have acquainted yourself with their

contents, and compelled us and our council to follow your devices.

You have also written to all our ambassadors abroad in your own name

concerning our affairs, without our authority; and received letters in

return from them by which you have sought to compass your own purposes.

By your ambition and pride you have undone many of our poor subjects;

have suppressed religious houses, and received their possessions; have

seized upon the goods of wealthy spiritual men deceased; constrained all

ordinaries yearly to compound with you; have gotten riches for yourself

and servants by subversion of the laws, and by abuse of your authority

in causing divers pardons of the Pope to be suspended until you, by

promise of a yearly pension, chose to revive them; and also by crafty

and untrue tales have sought to create dissention among our nobles."

"That we can all avouch for," cried Suffolk. "It was never merry in

England while there were cardinals among us."

"Of all men in England your grace should be the last to say so,"

rejoined Wolsey; "for if I had not been cardinal, you would not have had

a head upon your shoulders to utter the taunt."

"No more of this!" cried the king. "You have misdemeaned yourself in

our court by keeping up as great state in our absence as if we had been

there in person, and presumptuously have dared to join and imprint your

badge, the cardinal's hat, under our arms, graven on our coins struck at

York. And lastly, whenever in open Parliament allusion hath been made

to heresies and erroneous sects, you have failed to correct and notice

them, to the danger of the whole body of good and Christian people of

this our realm."

"This last charge ought to win me favour in the eyes of one who

professes the Opinions of Luther," said Wolsey to Anne. "But I deny it,

as I do all the rest."

"I will listen to no defence, Wolsey," replied the king. "I will

make you a terrible example to others how they offend us and our laws


"Do not condemn me unheard!" cried the cardinal, prostrating himself.

"I have heard too much, and I will hear no more!" cried the king

fiercely. "I dismiss you from my presence for ever. If you are innocent,

as you aver, justice will be done you.. If you are guilty, as I believe

you to be, look not for leniency from me, for I will show you none."

And, seating himself, he turned to Anne, and said, in a low tone, "Are

you content, sweetheart?"

"I am," she replied. "I shall not now break my vow. False cardinal," she

added aloud, "your reign is at an end."

"Your own may not be much longer, madam," rejoined Wolsey bitterly. "The

shadow of the axe," he added, pointing to the reflection of a partisan

on the floor, "is at your feet. Ere long it may rise to the head."

And, accompanied by Campeggio, he slowly quitted the presence-chamber.

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