The Pope's Authority Abolished In England

Interview between the Pope and Francis at Marseilles--Proposed

compromise--The divorce case to be heard at Cambray--The Emperor

consents--Catherine refuses--The story of the Nun of Kent--Bishop Fisher

in the Tower--Imminent breach with the Papacy--Catherine and the Princess

Mary--Separation of the Princess from her mother--Catherine at Kimbolton--

Appeals to the Emperor--Encouragement of Lutheranism--Last efforts of

e--Final sentence delivered by the Pope--

The Pope's last brief had been sufficiently definite to enable the Emperor

to act upon it if Henry still disobeyed. English scruples, however,

required a judgment on the divorce itself before force was openly tried.

Clement went, as he had intended, to France in October, and met the French

King at Marseilles. Norfolk, as has been said, was not allowed to be

present; but Gardiner and Bonner attended as inferior agents to watch the

proceedings. Cifuentes followed the Papal Court for Charles, and the

English Nuncio, who had been at last recalled, was present also. The main

result of the interview was the marriage of the Duke of Orleans to the

Pope's niece, Catherine de' Medici, a guarantee that Francis was not to

follow England into schism but was to remain Catholic. The engagements

with which he had tempted Henry into committing himself were thus

abandoned, and the honour which had been saved at Pavia was touched, if it

was not lost. It had strength enough, however, to lead him still to exert

himself to bring Clement to reason. The bribe of Calais was not tried

upon him, having been emphatically negatived by the Emperor. The

Chancellor of France presented in Henry's name a formal complaint of the

Pope's conduct. It was insisted that when he commissioned Campeggio to go

to England, he had formally promised not to revoke the cause to Rome, and

this promise he had violated. The Pope's answer was curious. He admitted

the promise, but he said it was conditional on Queen Catherine's consent,

though this clause was not inserted in the commission lest it might

suggest to her to complain. The answer was allowed to pass. Other

objections were similarly set aside, and then the Cardinal de Tarbes,

professing to speak in Henry's name, proposed that the Pope should appoint

another commission to hear the cause at Cambray, himself nominating the

judges. If the Pope would comply he was authorised to say that the King

would obey, and, pending the trial, would separate from Anne and recall

Catherine to the court. Cifuentes had again urged the Pope to declare

Henry deprived. The Pope had refused on the ground that, unless the

Emperor would bind himself to execute the sentence in arms, the Holy See

would lose reputation. He had, therefore, a fair excuse for listening

to the French suggestion. The Cardinals deliberated, and thought it ought

to be accepted. If the King would really part with Anne the cause might be

even heard in England itself, and no better course could be thought of.

The proposal was referred, through the Papal Nuncio, to the Emperor, and

the Emperor wrote on the margin of the Nuncio's despatch to him that he

could give no answer till he had communicated with Catherine, but that he

would write and recommend her to follow the course pointed out by his


The Spanish party suspected a trick. They thought that there might be an

appearance of compliance with the Pope's brief. Catherine might be allowed

a room in the Palace till the cause was removed from Rome. It was all but

gained in the Rota; if referred back in the manner proposed, it would be

delayed by appeals and other expedients till it became interminable. Their

alternative was instant excommunication. But the Pope had the same answer.

How could he do that? He did not know that the Emperor would take up arms.

Were he to issue the censures, and were no effect to follow, the Apostolic

See would be discredited. De Tarbes was asked to produce his commission

from Henry to make suggestions in his name. It was found when examined to

be insufficient. Henry himself, when he learnt what had been done,

"changed colour, crushed the letter in his hands, and exclaimed that the

King of France had betrayed him." But he had certainly made some

concession or other. The time allowed in the last brief had run out. The

French Cardinals did not relinquish their efforts. They demanded a

suspension of six months, till Henry and Francis could meet again and

arrange something which the Pope could accept. The Pope, false himself,

suspected every one to be as false as he was. He suspected that a private

arrangement was being made between Henry and the Emperor, and Cifuentes

himself could not or would not relieve his misgivings. In the midst of

the uncertainty a courier came in from England with an appeal ad futurum

Concilium--when a council could be held that was above suspicion. The

word "council" always drove Clement distracted. He complained to Francis,

and Francis, provoked at finding his efforts paralysed, said angrily that,

were it not for his present need of the King of England's friendship lest

others should forestall him there, he would play him a trick that he

should remember. The suspension of the censures for an indefinite time was

granted, however, after a debate in the Consistory. The English Council,

when the proposal for the hearing of the cause at Cambray was submitted to

them, hesitated over their answer. They told Chapuys that such a

compromise as the Pope offered might once have been entertained, but

nothing now would induce the King to sacrifice the interests of his

new-born daughter; "all the Ambassadors in the world would not move him,

nor even the Pope himself, if he came to visit him."

Nevertheless, so anxious were all parties now at the last moment to find

some conditions or other to prevent the division of Christendom that the

Cardinal de Tarbes's proposition, or something like it, might have been

accepted. The Emperor, however, had made his consent contingent on

Catherine's acquiescence, and Catherine herself refused--refused

resolutely, absolutely, and finally. Charles had written to her as he had

promised. Chapuys sent her down the letter with a draft of the terms

proposed, and he himself strongly exhorted her to agree. He asked for a

distinct "Yes" or "No," and Catherine answered "No." Her cause should be

heard in Rome, she said, and nowhere but in Rome; the removal to Cambray

meant only delay, and from delay she had suffered long enough; should Anne

Boleyn have a son meanwhile, the King would be more obstinate than ever.

The Pope must be required to end the cause himself and to end it quickly.

The Emperor knew her determination and might have spared his

application. She wrote to Chapuys "that, sentence once pronounced,

the King, for all his bravado and obstinacy, would listen to reason, and

war would be unnecessary." "On that point," the Ambassador said, "she

would not find a single person to agree with her."

Catherine had pictured to herself a final triumph, and she could not part

with the single hope which had cheered her through her long trial. If any

chance of accommodation remained after her peremptory answer, it was

dispelled by the discovery of the treason connected with the Nun of Kent.

The story of Elizabeth Barton has been told by me elsewhere. Here it is

enough to say that from the beginning of the divorce suit a hysterical

woman, professing to have received Divine revelations, had denounced the

King's conduct in private and public, and had influenced the judgment of

peers, bishops, statesmen, and privy councillors. She had been treated at

first as a foolish enthusiast, but her prophecies had been circulated by

an organisation of itinerant friars, and had been made use of to feed the

disaffection which had shown itself in the overtures to Chapuys. The

effect which she had produced had been recently discovered. She had been

arrested, had made a large confession, and had implicated several of the

greatest names in the realm. She had written more than once to the Pope.

She had influenced Warham. She had affected the failing intellect of

Wolsey. The Bishop of Rochester, the Marquis and Marchioness of Exeter,

had admitted her to intimate confidence. Even Sir Thomas More had at one

time half believed that she was inspired. Catherine, providentially, as

Chapuys thought, had declined to see her, but was acquainted with all that

passed between her and the Exeters.

When brought before the Council she was treated comme une grosse

dame--as a person of consideration. The occasion was of peculiar

solemnity, and great persons were in attendance from all parts of the

realm. The Chancellor, in the Nun's presence, gave a history of her

proceedings. He spoke of the loyalty and fidelity which had been generally

shown by the nation during the trying controversy. The King had married a

second wife to secure the succession and provide for the tranquillity of

the realm. The woman before them had instigated the Pope to censure him,

and had endeavoured to bring about a rebellion to deprive him of his

throne. The audience, who had listened quietly so far, at the word

"rebellion" broke out into cries of "To the stake! to the stake!" The Nun

showed no alarm, but admitted quietly that what the Chancellor said was

true. She had acknowledged much, but more lay behind, and Chapuys

confessed himself alarmed at what she might still reveal. Cromwell

observed to him that "God must have directed the sense and wit of the

Queen to keep clear of the woman." But Catherine's confessor had been

among the most intimate of her confederates; and to be aware of treason

and not reveal it was an act of treason in itself. Sir Thomas More cleared

himself. Fisher, the guiltiest of all, was sent to the Tower for


The Pope's final sentence was now a certainty. Francis had cleared his

conscience by advocating the compromise. Nothing more could be done, he

said, unless Cranmer's judgment was revoked. He chose to forget that the

compromise had been rejected by Catherine herself. He complained that as

fast as he studied to gain the Pope the English studied to lose him. He

had devised a plan, and the English spoilt it. He regretted that he had

ever meddled in the matter. The Pope could not help himself; but must now

excommunicate the King and call on Christendom to support him.

Henry could no longer doubt that he was in serious danger. To the risk of

invasion from abroad, disaffection at home had to be added. How far it

extended he did not yet know. All along, however, he had been preparing

for what the future might bring. The fleet was in high order; the

fortifications at Dover and Calais had been repaired; if the worst came he

meant to be ready for it; the stoppage of trade might be serious; it was

to this that Catherine looked as her most effective weapon; but English

commerce was as important to Spain and Flanders as the Flemish woollens to

the London citizens, and the leading merchants on both sides came to an

understanding that an Interdict would be disregarded. The Lutherans had

the courage of their opinions and could be depended on to fight. The laws

against heretics were allowed to sleep. Their numbers increased, and the

French Ambassador observed to Chapuys that they would not easily be

eradicated. Many who were orthodox in the faith were bitter against Rome

and Romanism. The Duke of Norfolk was the loudest of them all. Flanders

could not live, he said, to a deputation of alarmed citizens, without the

English trade; and as to the Pope, the Pope was a wretch and a bastard, a

liar and a bad man; he would stake wife and children and his own person to

be revenged on him. An order of Council came out that the Pope

henceforward was to be styled only Bishop of Rome. Chapuys could not

understand it. The Duke, he thought, was strangely changed; he had once

professed to be a staunch Catholic. Norfolk had not changed. The peculiar

Anglican theory was beginning to show itself that a Church might still be

Catholic though it ceased to be Papal.

Irritated though he was at his last failure, Francis did not wholly

abandon his efforts. A successful invasion of England by the Emperor would

be dangerous or even fatal to France. He wrote to Anne. He sent his letter

by the hands of her old friend, Du Bellay, and she was so pleased that she

kissed him when he presented it. Du Bellay sought out Chapuys. "Could

nothing be done," he asked, "to prevent England from breaking with the

Papacy? Better England, France, and the Empire had spent a hundred

thousand crowns than allow a rupture. The Emperor had done his duty in

supporting his aunt; might he not now yield a little to avoid worse?"

Chapuys could give him no hope. The treatment of Catherine alone would

force the Emperor to take further measures.

That Catherine, so far, had no personal ill-usage to complain of had been

admitted by the Spanish Council, and alleged as an argument against

interference by force in her favour. Chapuys conceived, and probably

hoped, that this objection was being removed.

What to do with her was not the least of the perplexities in which Henry

had involved himself. By the public law of Christendom, a marriage with a

brother's widow was illegal. By the law as it has stood ever since in

England, the Pope of Rome neither has, nor ever had, a right to dispense

in such cases. She was not, therefore, Henry's queen. She deserved the

most indulgent consideration; her anger and her resistance were legitimate

and natural; but the fact remained. She had refused all compromise. She

had insisted on a decision, and an English Court had given judgment

against her. If she was queen, Elizabeth was a bastard, and her insistance

upon her title was an invitation to civil war. She was not standing alone.

The Princess Mary, on her father's marriage with Anne, had written him a

letter, which he had praised as greatly to her credit; but either Anne's

insolence or her mother's persuasion had taken her back to Catherine's

side. Her conduct may and does deserve the highest moral admiration; but

the fidelity of the child to her mother was the assertion of a right to be

next in succession to the crown. There was no longer a doubt that a

dangerous movement was on foot for an insurrection, supported from abroad.

If Catherine escaped with Mary to the Continent, war would instantly

follow. If there was a rebellion at home, their friends intended to

release them, and to use their names in the field. It was found necessary

again to part them. The danger would be diminished if they were separated;

together they confirmed each other's resolution. Catherine was sent to

Kimbolton with a reduced household--her confessor, her doctor, her own

personal servants and attendants--who had orders to call her Princess, but

obeyed as little as they pleased. Mary was attached to the establishment

of her baby sister Elizabeth under charge of Anne Boleyn's aunt, Mrs.


History with a universal voice condemns the King's conduct as cruel and

unnatural. It was not cruel in the sense of being wanton; it was not

unnatural in the sense that he had no feeling. He was in a dilemma,

through his own actions, from which he could not otherwise extricate

himself. Catherine was not his wife, and he knew it; he had been misled by

Wolsey into the expectation that the Pope would relieve him; he had been

trifled with and played upon; he was now threatened with excommunication

and deposition. Half his subjects, and those the boldest and most

determined, had rallied to his side; his cause had become the occasion of

a great and beneficent revolution, and incidental difficulties had to be

dealt with as they rose. Catherine he had long ceased to love, if love had

ever existed between them, but he respected her character and admired her

indomitable courage. For his daughter he had a real affection, as appeared

in a slight incident which occurred shortly after her removal. Elizabeth

was at Hatfield, and Mary, whose pride Anne had threatened to humble, was

with her. Mrs. Shelton's orders were to box Mary's ears if she presumed to

call herself Princess. The King knew nothing of these instructions. He had

found his daughter always dutiful except when under her mother's

influence, and one day he rode down to Hatfield to see her. The Lady Anne,

finding that he had gone without her knowledge, "considering the King's

easiness and lightness, if anyone dared to call it so," and afraid of the

effect which a meeting with his daughter might have upon him, sent some

one in pursuit to prevent him from seeing or speaking with her. The King

submitted to his imperious mistress, saw Anne's child, but did not see

Mary. She had heard of his arrival, and as he was mounting his horse to

ride back she showed herself on the leads, kneeling as if to ask his

blessing. The King saw her, bowed, lifted his bonnet, and silently went

his way.

The French Ambassador met him afterwards in London. The King said he had

not spoken to his daughter on account of her Spanish obstinacy. The

Ambassador saying something in her favour, "tears rushed into the King's

eyes, and he praised her many virtues and accomplishments." "The Lady,"

said Chapuys, "is aware of the King's affection for his daughter, and

therefore never ceases to plot against her." The Earl of Northumberland,

once Anne's lover, told him that she meant to poison the Princess. Chapuys

had thought it might be better if she avoided irritating her father; he

advised her to protect herself by a secret protest, and to let her title

drop on condition that she might live with her mother. Lady Anne, however,

it was thought, would only be more malicious, and a show of yielding would

discourage her friends. Another plan was to carry her off abroad; but war

would then be inevitable, and Chapuys could not venture to recommend such

an attempt without the Emperor's express consent.

Catherine also was, or professed to be, in fear of foul play. Kimbolton

was a small but not inconvenient residence. It was represented as a

prison. The King was supposed to be eager for her death; and in the

animosity of the time he, or at least his mistress, was thought capable of

any atrocity. The Queen was out of health in reality, having shown signs

of dropsy, and the physicians thought her life uncertain. She would eat

nothing which her new servants provided; the little food she took was

prepared by her chamberwoman, and her own room was used as a kitchen.

Charles had intimated that, if she was ill-used, he might be driven to

interfere; and every evil rumour that was current was treasured up to

exasperate him into action. No words, Chapuys said in a letter to the

Emperor, could describe the grief which the King's conduct to the Queen

and Princess was creating in the English people. They complained bitterly

of the Emperor's inaction. They waited only for the arrival of a single

ship of war to rise en masse; and, if they had but a leader to take

command, they said, they would do the work themselves. They reminded him

of Warwick, who dethroned the King's grandfather, and Henry VII., who

dethroned Richard. Some even said the Emperor's right to the throne was

better than the present King's; for Edward's children were illegitimate,

and the Emperor was descended from the House of Lancaster. If the Emperor

would not move, at least he might stop the Flanders trade, and rebellion

would then be certain. There was not the least hope that the King would

submit. The accursed Anne had so bewitched him that he dared not oppose

her. The longer the Emperor delayed, the worse things would grow from the

rapid spread of Lutheranism.

Wise sovereigns, under the strongest provocation, are slow to encourage

mutiny in neighbouring kingdoms. Charles had to check the overzeal of his

Ambassador, and to tell him that "the present was no time for vigorous

action or movement of any kind." Chapuys promised for the future "to

persuade the Queen to patience, and to do nothing which might lead to the

inconvenience" which the Emperor pointed out. His impatient English

friends whom he called "the people" were still obliged to submit in

patience, while the King went on upon his way in the great business of the

realm, amidst the "impress of shipwrights," the "daily cast of cannon,"

and foreign mart of implements for war. An embassy was sent to Germany to

treat for an alliance with the Smalcaldic League. A book was issued, with

the authority of the Privy Council, on the authority of kings and priests,

showing that bishops and priests were equal, and that princes must rule

them both. The Scotch Ambassador told Chapuys that if such a book had been

published in his country the author of it would have been burnt.

Parliament met to pass the Bill, of which Henry had introduced a draft in

the previous session, to restrict the Bishops' powers of punishing

heretics. Dr. Nixe, the old bishop of Norwich, had lately burnt Thomas

Bilney on his own authority, without waiting for the King's writ. Henry

had the Bishop arrested, tried him before a lay judge, confiscated his

property, and imprisoned him in the Tower. Parliament made such exploits

as that of Dr. Nixe impossible for the future.

Act followed Act on the same lines. The Pope's Bulls were dispensed with

on appointments to vacant sees. The King's nomination was to suffice. The

tributes to Rome, which had been levied hitherto in infinite variety of

form, were to be swept finally away, and with them an Act was introduced

of final separation from the Papacy. Were it only in defiance of the Pope,

Chapuys said, such measures impending would matter little, for the motive

was understood; but the Preachers were teaching Lutheranism in the

pulpits, drawing crowds to hear them, and, unless the root could be torn

out, the realm would be lost.

Before the closing stroke was dealt in England the last scene of the

tragi-comedy had to be played out in Rome itself. On the Pope's return

from Marseilles the thunderbolt was expected to fall. The faithful Du

Bellay rushed off to arrest the uplifted arm. He found Clement wrangling

as before with Cifuentes, and Cifuentes, in despair, considering that, if

justice would not move the Pope, other means would have to be found. The

English Acts of Parliament were not frightening Clement. To them he had

become used. But he knew by this time for certain that, if he deprived

Henry, the Emperor would do nothing. Why, said he, in quiet irony, to the

Emperor's Minister, does not your master proceed on the Brief de

Attentatis? It would be as useful to him as the sentence which he asks

for. By that the King has forfeited his throne. Cifuentes had to tell him,

what he himself was equally aware of, that it was not so held in England.

Until the main cause had been decided it was uncertain whether the

marriage with Anne Boleyn might not be lawful after all. In one of

his varying moods the Pope had said at Marseilles that, if Henry had sent

a proctor to plead for him at Rome, sentence would have been given in his

favour. It was doubtful whether even the Emperor was really

determined, so ambiguous had been his answers when he was asked if he

would execute the Bull. Du Bellay arrived in the midst of the suspense. He

had brought an earnest message from Francis, praying that judgment might

be stayed. As this was the last effort to prevent the separation of

England the particulars have a certain interest.

In an interview with the Pope Du Bellay said that when he left London he

believed that the rupture was inevitable. His own sovereign, however, had

sent him to represent to the Holy See that the King of England was on the

eve of forming a treaty with the Lutheran Princes. The King of France did

not pretend to an opinion on the right or wrong of his brother of

England's case; but he wished to warn his Holiness that means ought to be

found to prevent such an injury to the Church.

The Pope answered that he had thought long and painfully on what he ought

to do, and had delayed sentence as long as he was able. The Queen was

angry and accused him of having been the cause of all that had happened.

If the King of France had any further proposal to offer he was ready to

hear it. If not, the sentence must be pronounced.

Cifuentes, finding Clement again hesitating, pointed out to him the

violent acts which were being done in England, the encouragement of

heresy, the cruel treatment of the Queen and Princess, and the risk to the

Queen's life if nothing was done to help her. Clement sent for Du Bellay

again and inquired more particularly if he had brought no practical

suggestion with him. Du Bellay could only say that he had himself brought

none; but he trusted that the Pope might devise something, as, without it,

not England only but other countries would be irretrievably lost to the

Holy See. The Pope said he could think of nothing; and in his account of

what had passed to Cifuentes he declared that he had told Du Bellay that

he meant to proceed.

Cifuentes was not satisfied. He saw that the Pope was still reluctant. He

knew that there were intrigues among the Cardinals. He said that Henry was

only making use of France to intimidate him. He asserted, with the

deluding confidence which blinded the whole Catholic party, that the

revolt of England was the act of the King and not of the people. He was

certain, he said, that, although the Bishop pretended that he had no

expedient to propose, he had one which he dared not disclose. He could not

bring the Pope to a resolution. A further delay of six weeks was granted.

Messengers were despatched to England, and English Commissioners were sent

in answer. They had no concessions to offer, nor were any concessions

expected of them. They lingered on the way. The six weeks expired and they

had not arrived. The Spanish party in the Consistory were peremptory. They

satisfied the Pope's last scruples by assuring him, vaguely, that he might

rely upon the Emperor, and on March 23, with an outburst of general

enthusiasm, the Bull was issued which declared valid the marriage of Henry

and Catherine, the King to be excommunicated if he disobeyed, and to have

forfeited the allegiance of his subjects.

The secular arm was not yet called in, and, before Charles could be

required to move, one more step would still be needed. But essentially,

and on the main cause of the trouble, the Pope had at last spoken, and

spoken finally. The passionate and devout Ortiz poured out on the

occasion the emotions of grateful Catholicity. "The Emperor," he wrote,

"had won the greatest of his victories--a victory over Hell. There had

been difficulties even to the last. Campeggio had opposed, but at last had

yielded to the truth. The Pope repented of his delay, but now feared he

had committed a great sin in hesitating so long. The holy martyr, the

Queen of England, had been saved. The Cardinals in past years had been

bribed by the French King; by the influence of the Holy Spirit they had

all decided in the Queen's favour. Their conscience told them they could

not vote against her."

In England the news of the decision had not been waited for. Two days

after the issue of the Bull, the Act abolishing the Pope's authority was

read the last time in the House of Lords, to the regret, said Chapuys, of

a minority of good men, who could not carry the House along with them.