Anger Of Anne Boleyn And The Duke Of Norfolk

The momentous year of 1529 wore out. Parliament rose before Christmas;

Peers and Commons dispersed to their homes; and the chief parties in the

drama were still undetermined what next to do. The Duke of Norfolk was

afraid of Wolsey's return to power. It was less impossible than it seemed.

A parliamentary impeachment, though let fall, ought to have been fatal;

but none knew better than Wolsey by how transitory a link the parties who
br />
had combined for his ruin were really held together. More and Darcy had

little sympathy with the advanced Reformers whose eyes were fixed on

Germany. They agreed in cutting down the temporal encroachments of the

clergy; they agreed in nothing besides. The King had treated Wolsey with

exceptional forbearance. He had left him the Archbishopric of York, with

an income equal in modern money to eight or ten thousand pounds a year,

and had made him large presents besides of money, furniture, and jewels.

Finding himself so leniently dealt with, the Cardinal recovered heart, and

believed evidently that his day was not over. In a letter to Gardiner,

written in January, 1530, he complained as a hardship of having been made

to surrender Winchester and St. Albans. He had not "deserved to lose

them," he said, "and had not expected to lose them on his submission. His

long services deserved at least a pension." The King agreed, or

seemed to agree; for a further grant of 3,000 crowns was allowed him,

charged on the See of Winchester. Anne Boleyn was furious. The Duke of

Norfolk swore that "sooner than suffer Wolsey's return to office he would

eat him up alive." Though he had never seen his diocese, the Cardinal

was making no haste to go thither. He lingered on at Esher, expecting to

be sent for, and it is evident from the alarm of his rivals that there was

real likelihood of it. The Lady Anne so hated him that she quarrelled with

her uncle Norfolk for not having pressed his attainder. Catherine liked

him equally ill, for she regarded him as the cause of her sufferings. He

had been "disevangelised," as Norfolk called it; but Henry missed at every

turn his dexterity and readiness of hand. He had monopolised the whole

business of the realm; the subordinate officials everywhere were his

creatures, and the threads of every branch of administration had centred

in his cabinet; without him there was universal confusion. The French

Court was strongly in his favour. He had himself made the Anglo-French

alliance; and the Anglo-French alliance was still a necessity to Henry, if

he meant to defy the Emperor and retain an influence at Rome. The King

wished, if he could, to keep on terms with the Pope, and Wolsey, if any

one, could keep the Papal Court within limits of moderation.

The situation was thus more critical than ever. Catherine knew not what

to look for. Those among the peers who, like Norfolk, would naturally have

been her friends, and would have preferred that the divorce should never

have been spoken of, yet saw no reason why on a private ground the Emperor

should light up a European war again. They conceived that by protesting he

had done enough for his honour, and that he ought to advise his aunt to

give way. According to Chapuys, attempts were privately made to obtain a

declaration of opinion from the House of Commons before Parliament

rose. He says that the attempts were unsuccessful. It may have been


But Chapuys could not hope that the unwillingness would last. Charles was

determined to stand by Catherine to all extremities. Henry was threatening

to marry his mistress whether the Pope consented or not, professing to

care not a straw, and almost calling the Pope a heretic. The Pope did not

wish to be a party to a scandal, but also would be sorry to see the King

lose all submission and reverence to the See of Rome. For himself, the

Emperor said he could not see how the affair would end, "but he was

certain that Henry would persist, and war would probably come of it." He

directed his brother Ferdinand to avoid irritating the German Lutherans,

as France might probably take part with England. Fresh efforts were

made to persuade Catherine to take the veil. They were as unsuccessful as


The Emperor was now in Italy. He had gone to Bologna for his coronation on

the conclusion of the Peace of Cambray, and the Pope was to be made to

feel the weight of his Imperial presence. Henry used the occasion to send

a deputation to Bologna, composed of the Earl of Wiltshire, Anne's father,

who was personally known to Charles, Dr. Cranmer, then coming into

prominence, and Stokesly, the Bishop of London, who, having been first on

Catherine's side, had been converted. They were directed to lay before the

Emperor the motives for the King's action, to protest against his

interference, and to explain the certain consequences if he persisted in

supporting the Queen.

The Emperor gave a cold answer, and declined to hear the Earl's

instructions, while the Pope, the Earl said, was led by the Emperor, and

dared not displease him. The second act of the drama was now to open, and

Clement was made to strike the first blow. In consequence of the reports

from Catherine and Chapuys that Henry was collecting the opinions of the

canonists of Europe, and intended to act on them if favourable, a brief

was issued on the 7th of March ordering the King to restore Catherine to

her rights, and prohibiting him from making a second marriage while the

suit was undetermined. The divines and lawyers of Catholic Europe were at

the same time threatened with excommunication if they presumed to declare

themselves favourable to the divorce. But though the voice was Clement's,

the hand was the Emperor's. Clement was being dragged along against his

will, and was still "facing both ways" in honest or dishonest

irresolution. While issuing the brief under compulsion, he said precisely

the opposite in his communication with the French Ambassador, the Bishop

of Tarbes. The Ambassador was able to assure his own master that the Pope

would never give sentence in Catherine's favour. In direct contradiction

of the brief, the Bishop wrote "that the Pope had told him more than three

times in secret he would be glad if the marriage between Henry and Anne

was already made, either by dispensation of the English Legate or

otherwise, provided it was not by his authority or in diminution of his

powers of dispensation and limitation of divine law." In England the

Pope had still his own Nuncio--a Nuncio who, as Chapuys declared, was

"heart and soul" with the King. He was the brother of Sir Gregory Casalis,

Henry's agent at Rome, and Henry was said to have promised him a bishopric

as soon as his cause should be won. The Pope could not have been ignorant

of the disposition of his own Minister.

Chapuys reported a mysterious State secret which had reached him through

Catherine's physician. The Smalcaldic League was about to be formed among

the Protestant Princes of Germany. Francis was inviting the King to

support them and to join with himself in encouraging them to dethrone the

Emperor; the King was said to have agreed on the ground that the Pope and

the Emperor had behaved ill to him, and the probability was that both

France and England in the end would become Lutheran.

Had there been nothing else, the Queen's sterility was held a sufficient

ground for the divorce. If she had been barren from the first, the

marriage would have been held invalid at once. Now that the hope of

succession was gone, the Pope, it was said, ought to have ended it.

The King had been busy all the winter carrying out his project of

collecting the opinions of the learned. The Pope's prohibition not having

been issued in England, his own Bishops, the Universities, and the

canonists had declared themselves in favour of the divorce. The assent had

not in all instances been given very willingly. Oxford and Cambridge had

attempted a feeble resistance, and at Oxford the Commissioners had been

pelted with stones. Still, given it had been, and the conservative Peers

and gentry were coming to the same conclusion. The King was known to be

wishing to recall Wolsey. The return of Wolsey to power might imply the

acceptance of the French policy; perhaps the alliance with the

Lutherans--at any rate, war with the Emperor. The Duke of Norfolk and his

friends were English aristocrats, adherents of the old traditions,

dreading and despising German revolutionists; but they believed that the

King and the Emperor could only be drawn together by Charles's consent to

the divorce. The King, Norfolk said to Chapuys, was so much bent on it

that no one but God could turn him. He believed it imperative for the

welfare of the realm that his master should marry again and have male

succession; he would give all that he possessed for an hour's interview

with the Emperor; if his Majesty would but consent to the marriage, the

friendship between him and the King would then be indissoluble; the

divorce was nothing by the side of the larger interests at issue; "the

King," it was rumoured, "had written, or was about to write, to the

Archbishop of Canterbury, that if the Pope persisted in refusing justice,

his own and all Church authority would be at an end in England;" the

nobles and people, provoked and hurt at the advocation of the suit to

Rome, were daily more and more incensed against Churchmen, and would

become Lutherans in the end. The Pope had confessed that the presence

of the Imperial army in Italy left him no liberty. If revolution came, the

Emperor would be the cause of it. The Duke spoke with the indignation of

an Englishman at a rumour that the Emperor had "threatened to use all his

power in the Queen's support." Such menaces, he said, were useless, and

the nation would not endure them. Foreign princes had no authority over

English kings.

Chapuys did not mend matters by saying that the Emperor was not thinking

of employing force, for he did not believe that the King would give

occasion for it. The Emperor's interference, indeed, would be unnecessary,

for the Duke must be aware that if the divorce was proceeded with there

would be a civil war in England. Chapuys was vain of his insight into

things and characters. Like so many of his successors, he mistook the

opinion of a passionate clique of priests and priest-ridden malcontents

for the general sentiment of the nation. They told him, as they told other

Spanish ambassadors after him, that all the world thought as they did.

Fanatics always think so; and the belief that they were right proved in

the end the ruin of the Spanish empire. In the present instance, however,

Chapuys may be pardoned for his error. Norfolk imagined that Wolsey was

scheming for a return to power on the old anti-Imperial lines. Wolsey was

following a more dangerous line of his own. Impatient with the delay in

his restoration, he imagined that by embroiling matters more fatally he

could make his own help indispensable; and he was drifting into what can

only be called treachery--treachery specially dishonourable to him.

Wolsey, the originator of the divorce and the French alliance, had now

become the friend of Catherine and the secret adviser of Chapuys. He had

welcomed, had perhaps advised, the issue of the prohibitory Papal brief.

Copies of it were sent for from Flanders to be shown in England. "The

Queen," wrote Chapuys on the 10th of May, "is now firmer than ever,

and believes the King will not dare make the other marriage; if he does,

which may God prevent, I suspect he will repent and be thankful to return

to his first marriage, if by so doing he could be freed from his second.

This is the opinion of Cardinal Wolsey and of many others. The Cardinal

would have given his archbishopric that this had been done two years ago.

He would have been better revenged on the intrigue which has ruined him."

These words, taken by themselves, prove that Wolsey was now in the

confidence of Catherine's friends, but would not justify further

inference. Another letter which follows leaves no room for doubt.

On the 15th of June Chapuys writes again. "I have a letter from the

Cardinal's physician, in which he tells me that his master, not knowing

exactly the state of the Queen's affairs, cannot give any special advice

upon them; but with fuller information would counsel and direct as if he

was to gain Paradise by it, as on her depended his happiness, honour, and

peace of mind. As things stood he thought that the Pope should proceed to

the weightier censures, and should call in the secular arm; there was want

of nerve in the way in which things were handled." The calling in

the secular arm meant invasion and open war. To advise it was treasonable

in any English subject. There may be circumstances under which treason of

such a kind might be morally defended. No defence, moral or political, can

be made for Wolsey; and it was the more discreditable because at this time

he was professing the utmost devotion to his King, and endeavouring to

secure his confidence. Three different petitions Norfolk discovered him to

have sent in, "desiring as much authority as ever he had." Norfolk no

doubt watched him, and may have learnt enough to suspect what he was

doing. The whispers and the messages through the intriguing physician had

not gone unobserved. The King persisted in his generous confidence, and

could not be persuaded that his old friend could be really

treacherous, but he consented to send him down to his diocese. Wolsey

went, still affecting his old magnificence, with a train of six hundred

knights and gentlemen; but he never reached his cathedral city. Chapuys

heard, to his alarm, that the physician was arrested and was in the Tower.

He congratulated himself that, were all revealed which had passed between

him and Wolsey, nothing could be discovered which would compromise his own

safety. But it was true that Wolsey's physician had betrayed his master,

revealing secrets which he had bound himself never to tell. He had

confessed, so Chapuys learnt, that the Cardinal had advised the Pope to

excommunicate the King, if he did not send away the "Lady" from the court,

hoping thus "to raise the country and obtain the management." Too

evidently the Cardinal had been intriguing, and not honourably, merely for

his own purposes. He might have persuaded himself that the divorce would

be injurious to the country; but after the part which he had played it was

not for him to advise the Pope to strike at his master, whom he had

himself tempted to go so deep with it. The King was convinced at last.

Orders were sent down to arrest him and bring him back to London. He knew

that all was now over with him, and that he would not be again forgiven.

He refused to take food, and died on his way at Leicester Abbey on St.

Andrew's Day. He was buried, it was observed, in the same church where the

body lay of Richard III. One report said that he had starved himself;

another that he had taken poison. Chapuys says "that he died like a good

Christian, protesting that he had done nothing against the King." His

designs had failed, whatever they might have been, and he ended his great

career struggling ineffectually to conjure back into the vase the spirit

which he had himself let loose.