Death Of Archbishop Warham And The Pope Urged To Excommunicate Henry But Refuses Angering The Queen

The unity of Christendom was not to be broken in pieces without an effort

to preserve it. Charles V. was attempting impossibilities in his own

dominions, labouring for terms on which the Lutheran States might return

to the Church. He had brought the Pope to consent to the "communion in

both kinds," and to the "marriage of priests"--a vast concession, which

had been extorted by Micer Mai in the intervals of the discussions on the
divorce. Efforts which fail are forgotten, but they represent endeavours

at least honourable. Catherine was absorbed in her own grievances. Charles

gave them as much attention as he could spare, but had other things to

think of. As long as he could prevent Clement from taking any fatal step,

he supposed that he had done enough. He had at least done all that he

could, and he had evidently allowed Chapuys to persuade him that Henry's

course would be arrested at the last extremity by his own subjects. He

left Mai to watch the Pope, and Ortiz to urge for sentence; but when the

pressure of his own hand relaxed his agents could effect but little. The

English Parliament was to open again in January. The King's Commissioners

at Rome informed the Consistory that if it was decided finally to try the

cause at Rome they were to take their leave, and the King would

thenceforward regard the Pope as his public enemy. The threat

"produced a great impression." The Pope had no wish to be Henry's enemy in

order to please the Emperor. Mai and Ortiz told him that the English

menaces were but words; he had but to speak and England would submit. The

Pope did not believe it, and became again "lax and procrastinating."

The English nobles made a last effort to move Catherine. Lord Sussex, Sir

William Fitzwilliam, and Lee, Archbishop of York, who had been her warm

supporter, waited on her at Moor Park to urge her, if she would not allow

the case to be tried at Cambray, to permit it to be settled by a

commission of bishops and lawyers. The Pope confessedly was not free to

give his own opinion, and English causes could not be ruled by the

Emperor. If Catherine had consented, it is by no means certain that Anne

Boleyn would have been any more heard of. A love which had waited for five

years could not have been unconquerable; and it was possible and even

probable in the existing state of opinion that some other arrangement

might have been made for the succession. The difficulty rose from

Catherine's determination to force the King before a tribunal where the

national pride would not permit him to plead. The independence of England

was threatened, and those who might have been her friends were disarmed

of their power to help her. Unfortunately for herself, perhaps fortunately

for the English race which was yet to be born, she remained still

inflexible. "The King's plea of conscience," she said, "was not honest. He

was acting on passion, pure and simple; and English judges would say black

was white." Sussex and Fitzwilliam knelt to entreat her to reconsider her

answer. She too knelt and prayed them for God's honour and glory to

persuade the King to return to her, as she was his lawful wife. All

present were in tears, but there was no remedy. Chapuys said that the

coldness and indifference with which the affair was treated at Rome was

paralysing her defenders. The question could not stand in debate for ever,

and, unless the Pope acted promptly and resolutely, he feared that some

strong act was not far distant.

She was destroying her own chance. She persisted in relying on a defence

which was itself fatal to her.

"God knows what I suffer from these people," she wrote to the Emperor,

"enough to kill ten men, much more a shattered woman who has done no harm.

I can do nothing but appeal to God and your Majesty, on whom alone my

remedy depends. For the love of God procure a final sentence from his

Holiness as soon as possible. The utmost diligence is required. May God

forgive him for the many delays which he has granted and which alone are

the cause of my extremity. I am the King's lawful wife, and while I live I

will say no other. The Pope's tardiness makes many on my side waver, and

those who would say the truth dare not. Speak out yourself, that my

friends may not think I am abandoned by all the world."

Well might Catherine despair of Clement. While she was expecting him to

excommunicate her husband, he was instructing his Nuncio to treat that

husband as his most trusted friend. He invited Henry to assist in the

Turkish war; he consulted him about the protection of Savoy from the Swiss

Protestants; he apologised to him for the language which he was obliged to

use on the great matter. Henry, contemptuous and cool, "not showing the

passion which he had shown at other times," replied that the Pope must be

jesting in inviting him, far off as he was, to go to war with the Turk. If

Christendom was in danger he would bear his part with the other Princes.

As to Savoy, the Duke had disregarded the wishes of France and must take

the consequences. For the rest, the message which he had sent through his

Ambassador at Rome was no more than the truth. "If," said he to the

Nuncio, "I ask a thing which I think right, the answer is 'The law

forbids.' If the Emperor ask a thing, law and rules are changed to please

him. The Pope has greatly wronged me. I have no particular animosity

against him. After all, he does not bear me much ill will. The fear of the

Emperor makes him do things which he would not otherwise do. Proceedings

may be taken against me at Rome. I care not. If sentence is given against

me, I know what to do."

The Pope never meant to give sentence if he could help it. Every day

brought Parliament nearer and he drove Mai distracted with his evasions.

"I have said all that I could to his Holiness and the Cardinals without

offending them," he reported to Charles. "Your Majesty may believe me when

I say that these devils are to a man against us. Some take side openly,

being of the French or English faction; others will be easily corrupted,

for every day I hear the English Ambassador receives bills for thousands

of ducats, which are said to go in bribery."

Promises were given in plenty, but no action followed, and Ortiz had the

same story to tell Catherine. "Your Ambassador at Rome," she wrote to her

nephew, "thinks the Pope as cold and indifferent as when the suit began. I

am amazed at his Holiness. How can he allow a suit so scandalous to remain

so long undecided? His conduct cuts me to the soul. You know who has

caused all this mischief. Were the King once free from the snare in which

he has been caught he would confess that God had restored his reason. His

misleaders goad him on like a bull in the arena. Pity that a man so good

and virtuous should be thus deceived. God enlighten his mind!"

To the Emperor himself, perhaps, the problem was growing more difficult

than he expected. He himself at last pressed for sentence, but sentence

was nothing unless followed by excommunication if it was disobeyed, and

the Pope did not choose to use his thunder if there was to be no

thunderbolt to accompany it. The Cardinal Legate in Spain assured him that

the Emperor would employ all his force in the execution of the censures.

The Pope said that he prized that promise as "a word from Heaven." But

though Charles might think the English King was doing what was wrong and

unjust, was it so wrong and so unjust that fire and sword were to be let

loose through Christendom? Chapuys and Catherine were convinced that there

would be no need of such fierce remedies. They might be right, but how if

they were not right? How if England supported the King? The Emperor could

not be certain that even his own subjects would approve of a war for such

an object. Three years later, when the moment for action had arrived, if

action was to be taken at all, it will be seen that the Spanish Council of

State took precisely this view of the matter, and saw no reason for

breaking the peace of Europe for what, after all, was but "a family

quarrel." The Pope was cautious. He knew better than his passionate

advisers how matters really stood. "The Pope may promise," Mai said, "but

as long as the world remains in its troubled state, these people will be

glad of any excuse to prolong the settlement." January came, when the

English Parliament was to meet, and the note was still the same. "The Pope

says," wrote Mai, "that we must not press the English too hard. I have

exhausted all that I could say without a rupture. I told him he was

discrediting the Queen's case and your Majesty's authority. I made him

understand that I should be obliged to apply elsewhere for the justice

that was denied me at Rome. He owns that I am right, but Consistory

follows Consistory and more delays are allowed. We can but press on as we

have always done, and urge your Majesty's displeasure."

If a sentence could not be had, Ortiz insisted on the issue of another

minatory brief. Anne Boleyn must be sent from the court. The King must be

made to confess his errors. The Pope assented; said loudly that he would

do justice; though England and France should revolt from the Holy See in

consequence, a brief should go, and, if it was disobeyed, he would proceed

to excommunicate: "the Kings of England and France were so bound together

that if he lost one he lost both, but he would venture notwithstanding."

But like the Cardinals who condemned Giordano Bruno, Clement was more

afraid of passing judgment than Henry of hearing it passed. The brief was

written and was sent, but it contained nothing but mild

expostulation. All the distractions of the world were laid at the

door of the well-meaning, uncertain, wavering Clement. La Pommeraye, the

French Ambassador in London, said (Chapuys vouches for the words) that

"nothing could have been so easy as to bring all Christian Princes to

agree had not that devil of a Pope embroiled and sown dissension through


In England alone was to be found clear purpose and steadiness of action.

The divorce in England was an important feature in the quarrel with the

Papacy, but it was but a single element in the great stream of

Reformation, and the main anxiety of King and people was not fixed on

Catherine, but on the mighty changes which were rushing forward. When a

Parliament was first summoned, on the fall of Wolsey, the Queen had

assumed that it was called for nothing else but to empower the King to

separate from her. So she thought at the beginning, so she continued to

think. Yet session had followed session, and the Legislature had found

other work to deal with. They had manacled the wrists of her friends, the

clergy; but that was all, and she was to have yet another year of respite.

The "blind passion" which is supposed to have governed Henry's conduct was

singularly deliberate. Seven years had passed since he had ceased

cohabitation with Catherine, and five since he had fallen under the

fascination of the impatient Anne; yet he went on as composedly with

public business as if Anne had never smiled on him, and he was still

content to wait for this particular satisfaction. As long as hope remained

of saving the unity of Christendom without degrading England into a vassal

State of the Empire, Henry did not mean to break it. He had occupied

himself, in concert with the Parliament, with reforming the internal

disorders and checking the audacious usurpations of the National Church.

He had, so far, been enthusiastically supported by the immense majority of

the laity, and was about to make a further advance in the same direction.

The third Session opened on 13th of January, Peers, Prelates, and Commons

being present in full number. By this time a small but active opposition

had been formed in the Lower House to resist measures too violently

anti-clerical. They met occasionally to concert operations at the Queen's

Head by Temple Bar. The Bishops, who had been stunned by the Praemunire,

were recovering heart and intending to show fight. Tunstal of Durham, who

had been reflecting on the Royal Supremacy during the recess, repented of

his consent, and had written his misgivings to the King. The King used the

opportunity to make a remarkable reply.

"People conceive," he said, "that we are minded to separate our Church of

England from the Church of Rome, and you think the consequences ought to

be considered. My Lord, as touching schism, we are informed by virtuous

and learned men that, considering what the Church of Rome is, it is no

schism to separate from her, and adhere to the Word of God. The lives of

Christ and the Pope are very opposite, and therefore to follow the Pope is

to forsake Christ. It is to be trusted the Papacy will shortly vanish

away, if it be not reformed; but, God willing, we shall never separate

from the Universal body of Christian men."

Archbishop Warham also had failed to realise the meaning of his consent to

the Royal Supremacy. He had consecrated the Bishop of St. Asaph on the

receipt of a nomination from Rome before the Bulls had been presented to

the King. He learnt that he was again under a Praemunire. The aged Primate,

fallen on evil times, drew the heads of a defence which he intended to

make, but never did make, in the House of Lords. Archbishops, he said,

were not bound to enquire whether Bishops had exhibited their Bulls or

not. It had not been the custom. If the Archbishop could not give the

spiritualities to one who was pronounced a bishop at Rome till the King

had granted him his temporalities, the spiritual powers of the Archbishops

would depend on the temporal power of the Prince, and would be of little

or no effect, which was against God's law. In consecrating the Bishop of

St. Asaph he had acted as the Pope's Commissary. The act itself was the

Pope's act. The point for which the King contended was one of the Articles

which Henry II. sought to extort at Clarendon, and which he was afterwards

compelled to abandon. The liberties of the Church were guaranteed by

Magna Charta, and the Sovereigns who had violated them, Henry II., Edward

III., Richard II., had come to an ill end. The lay Peers had threatened

that they would defend the matter with their swords. The lay Peers should

remember what befell the knights who slew St. Thomas. The Archbishop said

he would rather be hewn in pieces than confess this Article, for which St.

Thomas died, to be a Praemunire.

Warham was to learn that the spirit of Henry II. was alive again in the

present Henry, and that the Constitutions of Clarendon, then premature,

were to become the law of the land.

Fisher of Rochester had received no summons to attend the present

Parliament; but he sent word to the Imperial Ambassador that he would be

in his place, whether called up or not, that he might defend Catherine

should any measure be introduced which affected her. He begged Chapuys not

to mention his name in his despatches, except in cipher. If they met in

public Chapuys must not speak to him or appear to know him. He on his part

would pass Chapuys without notice till the present tyranny was overpast.

Bishop Fisher was entering upon dangerous courses, which were to lead him

into traitorous efforts to introduce an invading army into England and to

bring his own head to the block. History has only pity for these

unfortunate old men, and does not care to remember that, if they could

have had their way, a bloodier persecution than the Marian would have made

a swift end of the Reformation.

I need not repeat what I have written elsewhere on the acts of this

Session. A few details only deserve further notice. The privilege of

the clergy to commit felony without punishment was at last abolished.

Felonious clerks were thenceforward to suffer like secular criminals. An

accident provided an illustrative example. A priest was executed in London

for chipping the coin, having been first drawn through the streets in the

usual way. Thirty women sued in vain for his pardon. He was hanged in his

habit, without being degraded, against the protest of the Bishop--"a thing

never done before since the Island was Christian." The Constitutions

of Clarendon were to be enforced at last. The Arches court and the

Bishops' courts were reformed on similar lines, their methods and their

charges being brought within reasonable limits. Priests were no longer

allowed to evade the Mortmain Acts by working on death-bed terrors. The

exactions for mortuaries, legacy duties, and probate duties, long a

pleasant source of revenue, were abolished or cut down. The clergy in

their synods had passed what laws they pleased and enforced them with

spiritual terrors. The clergy were informed that they would no longer be

allowed to meet in synod without royal licence, and that their laws would

be revised by laymen. Chapuys wittily observed that the clergy were thus

being made of less account than cordwainers, who could at least enact

their own statutes.

A purpose of larger moment was announced by Henry for future execution.

More's chancellorship had been distinguished by heresy-prosecutions. The

stake in those three years had been more often lighted than under all the

administration of Wolsey. It was as if the Bishops had vented on those

poor victims their irritation at the rude treatment of their privileges.

The King said that the clergy's province was with souls, not with bodies.

They were not in future to arrest men on suspicion, imprison, examine, and

punish at their mere pleasure. There was an outcry, in which the

Chancellor joined. The King suspended his resolution for the moment, but

did not abandon it. He was specially displeased with More, from whom he

had expected better things. He intended to persist. "May God," exclaimed

the orthodox and shocked Chapuys, "send such a remedy as the intensity of

the evil requires." None of Henry's misdeeds shocked Chapuys so

deeply as the tolerating heresy.

The Royal Supremacy had been accepted by Convocation. It was not yet

confirmed by Parliament. Norfolk felt the pulses of the Peers. He called a

meeting at Norfolk House. He described the Pope's conduct. He insisted on

the usual topics--that matrimonial causes were of temporal jurisdiction,

not spiritual; that the King was sovereign in his own dominions, etc.,

etc., and he invited the Peers' opinions. The Peers were cold. Lord Darcy

had spoken freely against the Pope in his indictment of Wolsey. It seemed

his ardour was abating. He said the King and Council must manage matters

without letting loose a cat among the legs of the rest of them. The

meeting generally agreed with Darcy, and was not pressed further. Papal

privilege came before Parliament in a more welcome form when a bill was

introduced to withdraw annates or first fruits of benefices which had been

claimed and paid as a tribute to the Holy See. The imposition was a

grievance. There were no annates in Spain. The Papal collectors were

detested. The House of Commons made no difficulty. The Nuncio complained

to the King. The King told him that it was not he who brought forward

these measures. They were moved by the people, who hated the Pope

marvellously. In the Upper House the Bishops stood by their spiritual

chief this time unanimously. Among the mitred Abbots there was division of

opinion. The abbeys had been the chief sufferers from annates, and had

complained of the exaction for centuries. All the lay Peers, except Lord

Arundel, supported the Government. The bill was passed, but passed

conditionally, leaving power to the Crown to arrange a compromise if the

Pope would agree to treat. For the next year the annates were paid in

full, as usual, to give time for his Holiness to consider himself.

Thus steadily the Parliament moved on. Archbishop Warham, who was dying

broken-hearted, dictated a feeble protest from his bed against all which

had been done by it in derogation of the Pope or in limitation of the

privileges of the Church. More had fought through the session, but,

finding resistance useless, resigned the chancellorship. He saw what was

coming. He could not prevent it. If he retained his office he found that

he must either go against his conscience or increase the displeasure of

the King. He preferred to retire.

In this way, at least in England, the situation was clearing, and parties

and individuals were drifting into definite positions. Montfalconet,

writing to Charles in May, said that he had been in England and had seen

Queen Catherine, who was still clamouring for the Pope's sentence. "Every

one," he continued, speaking for the Catholic party, whom alone he had

seen, "was angry with the Pope, and angry with the Emperor for not

pressing him further. Peers, clergy, laity, all loved the Queen. She was

patient. She thought that if she could but see the King all might yet be

well. Were the sentence once delivered she was satisfied that he would

submit." The French Ambassador in London, on the other hand,

recommended Francis to force the Pope to hold his hand. He told Chapuys

that "France must and would take Henry's part if a rupture came. The

Emperor had no right to throw Europe into confusion for the sake of a

woman. If the King of England wished to marry again, he should do as Louis

XII. had done under the same circumstances--take the woman that he liked

and waste no more time and money."

At Rome the Pope had been fingering his briefs with hesitating heart. The

first, which he had issued under Charles's eye at Bologna, had been

comparatively firm. He had there ordered Henry to take Catherine back

under penalty of excommunication. The last, though so hardly extracted

from him, was meagre and insignificant. The King, when it was presented,

merely laughed at it. "The Pope," he said, "complains that I have sent the

Queen away. If his Holiness considers her as my wife, the right of

punishing her for the rudeness of her behaviour belongs to me and not to


Ortiz, finding it hopeless to expect a decision on the marriage itself

from the Pope, demanded excommunication on the plea of disobedience to the

Bologna brief. He had succeeded, or thought he had succeeded, in bringing

the Pope to the point. The excommunication was drawn up, "but when it was

to be engrossed and sealed the enemy of mankind prevented its completion

in a manner only known to God." Ortiz continued to urge. The document

could be sent secretly to the Emperor, to be used at his discretion. "If

the Emperor thought fit to issue it, bearing, as it did, God's authority,

God in such cases would infallibly send his terrors upon earth and provide

that no ill should come of it." The Pope was less certain that God

would act as Ortiz undertook for him, and continued to offend the Lord by

delay. In vain Catherine's representative railed at him, in vain told him

that he would commit a great sin and offence against God if he did not

excommunicate a King who was, in mortal sin, keeping a mistress at his

Court. The Pope rationally answered that there was no evidence of mortal

sin. "It was the custom in England for Princes to converse intimately with

ladies. He could not prove that, in the present case, there was anything

worse, and the King might allege his conscience as a reason for not

treating the Queen as a husband." Ortiz insisted that the devil had

got hold of the King in the shape of that woman, and unless the Pope

obliged him to put her away, the Pope would be damned. But it was an

absurdity to excommunicate the King and declare him to have forfeited his

crown when the original cause of the quarrel was still undecided. The King

might prove after all to be right, as modern law and custom has in fact

declared him to have been.

Charles himself felt that such a position could not be maintained. Henry

was evidently not frightened. There was no sign that the English people

were turning against him. If a bull of excommunication was issued, Charles

himself would be called on to execute it, and it was necessary to be sure

of his ground.

Ortiz raged on. "I told his Holiness," he wrote, "that if he did not

excommunicate the King I would stand up at the day of judgment and accuse

him before God." Charles was obliged to tell Ortiz that he must be

more moderate. A further difficulty had risen in Rome itself. If the cause

was tried at Rome, was it to be tried before the Cardinals in consistory

or before the court of the Rota? The Cardinals were men of the world.

Micer Mai's opinion was that from the Rota only a judgment could be with

certainty expected in the Queen's favour. "The winds are against us,"

he wrote to Secretary Covos; "what is done one day is undone the next. The

Cardinals will not stir, but quietly pocket the ducats which come from

the Emperor, and the larger sums which come from the English, who are

lavish in spending. The Pope will not break with France. He says he has so

many ties with the Kings of France and England that he must pretend

goodwill to the latter for fear they both break off from the Church, as

they have threatened to do."