Anxiety Of The Pope To Satisfy The King

The story returns to Orvieto. The dispensation was promised on condition

that it should not be immediately acted on. Catherine having refused

to acquiesce in a private arrangement, Wolsey again pressed the Pope for a

commission to decide the cause in England, and to bind himself at the same

time not to revoke it, but to confirm any judgment which he might himself

give. "There were secret causes," he said, "which could not be commit

to writing which made such a concession imperative: certain diseases in

the Queen defying all remedy, for which, as for other causes, the King

would never again live with her as his wife."

The Pope, smarting from ill-treatment and grateful for the help of France

and England, professed himself earnestly anxious to do what Henry desired.

But he was still virtually a prisoner. He had been obliged by the General

of the Observants, when in St. Angelo, to promise to do nothing "whereby

the King's divorce might be judged in his own dominions." He pleaded for

time. He promised a commission of some kind, but he said he was undone if

action was taken upon it while the Germans and Spaniards remained in

Italy. He saw evident ruin before him, he said, but he professed to be

willing to run the hazard rather than that Wolsey should suspect him of

ingratitude. He implored the Cardinal, cum suspiriis et lacrymis, not to

precipitate him for ever, and precipitated he would be if, on receiving

the commission, the Cardinal at once began the process. A fortnight

later Casalis described a long conversation with the Pope and Cardinals on

the course to be pursued. Henry had desired that a second Legate should be

sent from Rome to act with Wolsey. To consent to this would directly

compromise the Papal Court. Clement had no objection to the going forward

with the cause, but he did not wish to be himself responsible. He signed

an imperfect commission not inconsistent with his promise to the General

of the Observants. On this Wolsey might act or, if he preferred it, might

proceed on his own Legatine authority. For himself, instead of engaging to

confirm Wolsey's sentence, he said that no doctor could better resolve the

point at issue than the King himself. If he was resolved, said the Pope,

let him commit his cause to the Legate, marry again, follow up the trial,

and then let a public application be made for a Legate to be sent from the

Consistory. If the Queen was cited first, she would put in no answer, save

to protest against the place and judges. The Imperialists would demand a

prohibition, and then the King could not marry, or, if he did, the

offspring would be illegitimate. They would also demand a commission for

the cause to be heard at Rome, which the Pope would be unable to refuse.

But the King being actually married again, they could not ask for a

prohibition. They could only ask that the cause should be re-examined at

Rome, when the Pope would give sentence and a judgment could be passed

which would satisfy the whole world. This was the Pope's own advice,

but he did not wish it to be known that it had come from himself. Casalis

might select the Legate to England after the first steps had been taken.

Campeggio he thought the fittest, being already an English bishop. At

any rate, the Pope bade Casalis say he would do his best to satisfy the

King, though he knew that the Emperor would never forgive him.

It is not certain what would have followed had Henry acted on the Pope's

suggestion. The judgment which Clement promised might have been in his

favour. Clement evidently wished him to think that it would. But he might,

after all, have found himself required to take Catherine back. Either

alternative was possible. At any rate he did not mean, if he could help

it, to have recourse to violent methods. Charles himself, though he

intended to prevent, if he could, a legal decision against his aunt, had

hinted at the possibility and even desirableness of a private arrangement,

if Catherine would agree. Catherine, unfortunately, would agree to

nothing, but stood resolutely upon her rights, and Charles was forced to

stand by her. Henry was equally obstinate, and the Pope was between the

rock and the whirlpool.

The Pope had promised, however, and had promised with apparent sincerity.

The Papal states remaining occupied by the Imperial troops, Henry carried

out his own part of the engagement by joining France in a declaration of

war against the Emperor. Toison d'or and Clarencieulx appeared before

Charles at Burgos on the 22nd of January, Charles sitting on his throne to

receive their defiance. Toison d'or said that the Emperor had opened

Christendom to the Turks, had imprisoned the Pope, had allowed his armies

to sack Rome and plunder churches and monasteries, had insulted the holy

relics, slain or robbed princes of the Church, cardinals, patriarchs,

archbishops, outraged nunneries and convents, had encouraged Lutheran

heretics in committing these atrocities, &c. For these reasons France

declared open war with the Emperor. The English herald--he was accused

afterwards of having exceeded his instructions--was almost as peremptory.

Henry, in earlier times, had lent Charles large sums of money, which had

not been repaid. Clarencieulx said that, unless the Pope was released and

the debt settled, the King of England must make common cause with his

brother of France. Six weeks' interval was allowed for the Emperor to

consider his answer before hostilities on the side of England should


The Emperor replied with calmness and dignity. War with France was

inevitable. As to England, he felt like Cicero, when doubting whether he

should quarrel with Caesar, that it was inconvenient to be in debt to an

enemy. If England attacked him he said he would defend himself, but he

declined to accept the defiance. Mendoza was not recalled from London. At

the end of the six weeks the situation was prolonged by successive truces

till the peace of Cambray. But Henry had kept his word to the Pope.

England appeared by the side of France in the lists as the armed champion

of the Papacy, and the Pope was expected to fulfil his promises without

disguise or subterfuge.

Clement's method of proceeding with the divorce was rejected. The

dispensation and commission which had been amended with a view to it were

rejected also as worthless. Dr. Fox and Stephen Gardiner were despatched

to Orvieto with fuller powers and with a message peremptory and even

menacing. They were again to impress on the Pope the danger of a disputed

succession. They were to hint that, if relief was refused in deference to

the Emperor, England might decline from obedience to the Holy See. The

Pope must, therefore, pass the commission and the dispensation in the form

in which it had been sent from England. If he objected that it was

unusual, they were to announce that the cause was of great moment. The

King would not be defrauded of his expectation through fear of the

Emperor. If he could not obtain justice from the Pope, he would be

compelled to seek it elsewhere.

The language of these instructions shows that the King and Wolsey

understood the Proteus that they were dealing with, and the necessity of

binding his hands if he was not to slip from them. It was not now the

fountain of justice, the august head of Christendom, that they were

addressing, but a shifty old man, clad by circumstances with the robe of

authority, but whose will was the will of the power which happened to be

strongest in Italy. It was not tolerable that the Emperor should dictate

on a question which touched the vital interests of an independent kingdom.

Spanish diplomatists had afterwards to excuse and explain away Clement's

concessions on the ground that they were signed when he was angry at his

imprisonment, had been extorted by threats, and were therefore of no

validity. He struggled hard to avoid committing himself. The unwelcome

documents were recast into various forms. The dispensation was not signed

after all, but in the place of it other briefs were signed of even graver

importance. The Pope yielded to the demand to send a second Legate to try

the cause with Wolsey in England, where it was assumed as a matter of

course that judgment would be given for the King. The Legate chosen was

Campeggio, who was himself, as was said, an English bishop. The Pope also

did express in writing his own opinion on the cause as favourable to the

King's plea. What passed at Orvieto was thus afterwards compendiously

related by Henry in a published statement of his case.

"On his first scruple the King sent to the Bishop of Rome, as Christ's

Vicar, who had the keys of knowledge, to dissolve his doubts. The said

Bishop refused to take any knowledge of it and desired the King to apply

for a commission to be sent into the realm, authorised to determine the

cause, thus pretending that it might no wise be entreated at Rome, but

only within the King's own realm. He delegated his whole powers to

Campeggio and Wolsey, giving them also a special commission in form of a

decretal, wherein he declared the King's marriage null and empowered him

to marry again. In the open commission also he gave them full authority to

give sentence for the King. Secretly he gave them instructions to burn the

commission decretal and not proceed upon it; (but) at the time of sending

the commission he also sent the King a brief, written in his own hand,

admitting the justice of his cause and promising sanctissime sub verbo

Pontificis that he would never advocate it to Rome."

Engagements which he intended to keep or break according to the turns of

the war between Francis and Charles did not press very heavily perhaps on

Clement's conscience, but they were not extorted from him without many

agonies. "He has granted the commission," Casalis wrote. "He is not

unwilling to please the King and Wolsey, but fears the Spaniards more than

ever he did. The Friar-General has forbidden him in the Emperor's name to

grant the King's request. He fears for his life from the Imperialists if

the Emperor knows of it. Before he would grant the brief he said, weeping,

that it would be his utter ruin. The Venetians and Florentines desired his

destruction. His sole hope of life was from the Emperor. He asked me to

swear whether the King would desert him or not. Satisfied on this point,

he granted the brief, saying that he placed himself in the King's arms, as

he would be drawn into perpetual war with the Emperor. Wolsey might

dispose of him and the Papacy as if he were Pope himself."

The Emperor had insisted, at Catherine's desire, that the cause should not

be heard in England. The Pope had agreed that it should be heard in

England. Consent had been wrung from him, but his consent had been given,

and Campeggio was to go and make the best of it. His open commission was

as ample as words could make it. He and Wolsey were to hear the cause and

decide it. The secret "decretal" which he had wept over while he signed it

declared, before the cause was heard, the sentence which was to be given,

and he had pledged his solemn word not to revoke the hearing to Rome. All

that Clement could do was to instruct the Legate before he started to

waste time on his way, and, on his arrival in England, to use his skill to

"accommodate matters," and to persuade the Queen--if he found her

persuadeable--to save him from his embarrassments by taking the veil. This

was a course which Charles himself in his private mind would have

recommended, but was too honourable to advise it. The fatal decretal was

to be seen only by a very few persons, and then, as Henry said, Campeggio

was to burn it. He was instructed also to pass no sentence without first

referring back to Rome, and, if driven to extremity, was to find an excuse

for postponing a decision; very natural conduct on the part of a weak,

frightened mortal--conduct not unlike that of his predecessor, Alexander

III., in the quarrel between Becket and Henry II.--but in both cases

purely human, not such as might have been looked for in a divinely guided

Vicar of Christ.