History of England (Froude)/Chapter 17
ANNE OF CLEVES AND THE FALL OF CROMWELL.
THE King's marriage could not be longer delayed. Almost three years had been wasted in fruitless negotiations, and the state of his health threatened, more and more clearly, that his life would not be prolonged to any advanced period. The death of the Duke of Richmond was a fresh evidence of the absence of vital stamina in Henry's male children; and the anxious and impatient people saw as yet but a single fragile life between the country and a disputed succession. The disloyal Romanists alone desired to throw obstacles between the King and a fresh connection—alone calumniated his motives, and looked forward hopefully to the possible and probable confusion.
Among the ladies who had been considered suitable to take the place of Queen Jane, the name had been mentioned, with no especial commendation, of Anne, daughter of the Duke of Cleves, and sister-in-law of the Elector of Saxony. She had been set aside in favour of the Duchess of Milan; but, all hopes in this quarter having been abruptly and ungraciously terminated, Cromwell once more turned his eyes towards a connection which, more than any other, would make the Emperor repent of his discourtesy—and would further at the same time the great object which the condition of Europe now, more than ever, showed him to be necessary—a league of all nations of the Teutonic race in defence of the Reformation. A marriage between the King and a German Protestant princess would put a final end to Anglo-Imperial trifling; and, committing England to a definite policy abroad, it would neutralize at home the efforts of the framers of the Six Articles, and compel the King, whether he desired it or not, to return to a toleration of Lutheran opinions and Lutheran practices.
The opportunity of urging such an alliance on Henry was more than favourable. He had been deceived, insulted, and menaced by the Emperor; his articles of union had been converted by the bishops into articles of a vindictive persecution; and the Anglicans, in their indiscreet animosity, had betrayed their true tendencies, and had shown how little, in a life-and-death struggle with the Papacy, he could depend upon their lukewarm zeal for independence. Affecting only to persecute heterodoxy, they had extended their vengeance to every advocate for freedom, to every enemy of ecclesiastical exemptions and profitable superstitions; and the King, disappointed and exasperated, was in a humour, while snatching their victims from their grasp, to consent to a step which would undo their victory in Parliament. The occasion was not allowed to cool. May 11.Parliament was prorogued on the 11th of May, with an intimation from the Crown that the religious question was not to be regarded as finally settled. The treaty with Cleves was so far advanced on the 17th of July that Lord Hertford was able to congratulate Cromwell on the consent of Anne's brother and mother. The lady had been previously intended for a son of a Duke of Lorraine; and Henry, whom experience had made anxious, was alarmed at the name of a 'pre-contract.' But Dr Wotton, who was sent over to arrange the preliminaries, and was instructed to see the difficulty cleared, was informed and believed that the engagement had never advanced to a form which brought with it legal obligations, and that Anne was at liberty to marry wherever she pleased. Of her personal attractions Wotton reported vaguely. He said that she had been well brought up; but ladies of rank in Germany were not usually taught accomplishments. She could speak no language except her own, nor could she play on any instrument. He supposed, however, that she would be able to learn English easily and rapidly; and he comforted the King by assuring him that at least she had no taste for 'the heavy-headed revels' of her countrymen. Wotton could not be accused of having lent himself to a deception as to the lady's recommendations. It would have been well for Cromwell if he too had been equally scrupulous. He had been warned beforehand of an unattractiveness, so great as to have overcome the spontaneous belief in the beauty of royal ladies; but, intent upon the success of his policy, he disregarded information which his conduct proves him to have partially believed. Holbein was despatched to take the princess's picture; and Holbein's inimitable skill would not have failed so wholly in conveying a true impression of the original if he had not received an intimation that an agreeable portrait was expected of him; while, as soon as it was brought into England, Cromwell's agents praised to the King 'her features, beauty, and princely proportions,' and assured him that the resemblance was perfect. The German commission was as expeditious as the Spanish had been dilatory. To allay any uneasiness which might remain with respect to the Six Articles, and to furnish a convincing evidence of the toleration which was practised, Dr Barnes was sent over as one of the English representatives; and he carried with him the comforting assurance that the persecution had been terminated, and that the Gospel had free way. His assertions were afterwards confirmed by unsuspicious and independent evidence. 'There is no persecution,' wrote a Protestant in London, a few months later, to Bullinger. 'The Word is powerfully preached. Books of every kind may safely be exposed to sale.' 'Good pastors,' wrote another, 'are freely preaching the truth, nor has any notice been taken of them on account of the articles.' Even the Elector of Saxony, jealous and distrustful as he had ever been of Henry, was so far satisfied as to write to him that he understood 'the sharpness of the decree of the Six Articles to be modified by the wisdom and moderation of his Highness, and the execution of it not put in use.'
All promised well; but it is not to be supposed that Cromwell was allowed without resistance to paralyze a measure which had been carried by an almost unanimous Parliament. More than half the privy council, the Dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk, the Bishops of Winchester, Durham, and Chichester, were openly and violently opposed to him. The House of Lords and the country gentlemen, baffled, as it seemed to them, by his treachery (for he had professed to go along with their statute while it was under discussion), maintained an attitude of sullen menace or open resistance. If the laws against the heretics might not be put in force, they would lend no help to execute the laws against the Romanists. They despised Cromwell's injunctions, though supported by orders from the Crown. They would not acknowledge so much as the receipt of his letters. He was playing a critical and most dangerous game, in which he must triumph or be annihilated. The King warned him repeatedly to be cautious; but the terms on which he had placed himself with the nobility had perhaps passed the point where caution could have been of use. He answered haughtiness by haughtiness; and he left his fate to the chances of fortune, careless what it might be, if only he could accomplish his work while life and power remained to him. One illustration of his relation with the temporal peers shall be given in this place, conveying, as it does, other allusions also, the drift of which is painfully intelligible. The following letter is written in Cromwell's own hand. The address is lost, but the rank of the person or persons to whom it was sent is apparent from the contents:—
'After my right hearty commendations, the King's Highness, being informed that there be two priests in your town, called Sir William Winstanley, which is now in ward, the other called Sir William Richardson, otherwise Good Sir William, hath commanded me to signify to you that, upon the receipt hereof, you shall send both the said priests hither as prisoners in assured custody. His Grace cannot a little marvel to hear of the Papistical faction that is maintained in that town, and by you chiefly that are of his Grace's council. Surely his Majesty thinketh that you have little respect either to him, or to his laws, or to the good order of that town, which so little regard him in a matter of so great weight, which, also, his Highness hath so much to heart; and willed me plainly to say to you all and every of you, that in case he shall perceive from henceforth any such abuses suffered or winked at as have been hitherto, in manner in contempt of his most royal estate, his Highness will put others in the best of your rooms that so offend him, by whom he will be better served. It is thought against all reason that the prayers of women, and their fond flickerings, should move any of you to do that thing that should in anywise displease your prince and sovereign lord, or offend his just laws. And, if you shall think any extremity in this writing, you must thank yourselves that have procured it; for neither of yourselves have you regarded these matters, nor answered to many of my letters, written for like purposes and upon like occasions: wherein, though I have not made any accusation, yet, being in the place for these things that I am, I have thought you did me therein too much injury, and such as I am assured his Highness, knowing it, would not have taken it in good part. But this matter needeth no aggravation, ne I have done anything in. it more than hath been by his Majesty thought meet, percase not so much; and thus heartily fare you well.
- 'Your Lordship's assured
- 'Thomas Cromwell.'
- 'Your Lordship's assured
Between the minister and the King the points of difference were large and increasing. The conduct which had earned for Cromwell the hatred of the immense majority of the people, could not but at times have been regarded disapprovingly by a person who shared so deeply as Henry in the English conservative spirit; while Cromwell, again, was lavish in his expenditure, and the outlay upon the fleet and the Irish army, the cost of suppression of the insurrection, and of the defences of the coast, at once vast and unusual, were not the less irritating because they could not be denied to be necessary. A spirit of economy in the reaction from his youthful extravagance was growing over Henry with his advancing years; he could not reconcile himself to a profusion to which, even with the addition of the Church lands, his resources were altogether unequal, without trespassing on his subjects' purses; and the conservative faction in the council took advantage of his ill humour to whisper that the fault was in the carelessness, the waste, and the corruption of the privy seal. Cromwell knew it well. Two years previously he had received full warning that they were on the watch to take advantage of any momentary displeasure against him in the King. They were not likely to have been conciliated subsequently by the deaths of the Marquis of Exeter and Lord Montague, for which he personally was held responsible; and he prepared for the fate which he foresaw, in making settlements on his servants, that they might not suffer by his attainder. The noble lords possessed, undoubtedly, one serious advantage against him. His own expenses were as profuse as the expenses of the State under his management. His agents were spread over Europe. He bought his information anywhere, and at any cost; and secret-service money for such purposes he must have provided, like his successor in the same policy, Sir Francis Walsingham, from his own resources. As a self-raised statesman, he had inherited only a moderate fortune. His position as a nobleman was to be maintained; and it was maintained so liberally, that two hundred poor were every day supplied with food at his gate. The salaries of his offices and the rents of such estates as the King had given to him were inadequate for such irregular necessities. In Cromwell, the questionable practice of most great men of his time—the practice of receiving pensions and presents for general support and patronage—was carried to an extent which even then, perhaps, appeared excessive. It is evident, from his whole correspondence, that he received as profusely as he spent. We trace in him no such ambitious splendour as he had seen in Wolsey. He was contented with the moderate maintenance of a nobleman's establishment. But power was essential to him; and a power like that which Cromwell wielded, required resources which he obtained only by exposing his reputation while alive, and his good name in history, to not unmerited blame.
Weighted as he was with faults, which his high purposes but partially excuse, he fought his battle bravely—alone—against the world. The German marriage did not pass without a struggle at the council-board. Cromwell had long recognized his strongest and most dangerous enemy in the person of Stephen Gardiner. So much he dreaded the subtle Bishop, that he had made an effort once to entangle him under the Supremacy Act; but Gardiner had glided under the shadow of the Act, and had escaped its grasp. Smooth, treacherous, and plausible, he had held his way along the outer edge of the permitted course, never committing himself, commanding the sympathy of English conservatism, the patron of those suspected of Romanism on one side, as Cromwell was the patron of heretics; but self-possessed and clear-headed, watching the times, knowing that the reaction must have its day at last, and only careful to avoid the precipitancy, in future, into which he had blundered after the Six Articles Bill. His rival's counter-move had checked him, but he waited his opportunity; and when Barnes was sent as commissioner into Germany, Gardiner challenged openly before the council the appointment, for such a purpose, of a man who was 'defamed of heresy.' He was supported, apparently, by the Bishop of Chichester, or the latter ventured to thwart the privy seal in some other manner. Cromwell for the moment was strong enough to bear his opponents down. They were both dismissed from the privy council. But this arbitrary act was treated as a breach of the tacit compact under which the opposing parties endured each other's presence. If the Bishop of Durham's chaplain spoke the truth, an attempt was made, in which even Lord Southampton bore a share, to bring Tunstall forward in Gardiner's place. And though this scheme failed, through the caution of the principal persons interested, the grievances remained, embittered by a forced submission: a fresh debt had been contracted, bearing interest till it was paid.
As great, or a greater, danger embarrassed Cromwell from the folly of his friends. So long as the tide was in their favour, the Protestants indulged in insolent excesses, which provoked, and almost justified, the anger with which they were regarded. Hitherto they had held a monopoly of popular preaching. Tradition and authority had been with the Catholics: the rhetoric had been mainly with their adversaries. AugustIn the summer the interest of London was suddenly excited on the other side by a Catholic orator of extraordinary powers, a Dr Watts, unknown before or after this particular crisis, but for the moment a principal figure on the stage. Watts attracted vast audiences; and the Protestants could not endure a rival, and were as little able as their opponents to content themselves with refuting him by argument. He was summoned, on a charge of false doctrine, before the Archbishop of Canterbury; and even moderate persons were scandalized when they saw Barnes sitting by the side of Cranmer as assessor in a cause of heresy. It appeared, and perhaps it was designed, as an insult—as a deliberately calculated outrage. Ten thousand London citizens proposed to walk in procession to Lambeth, to require the restoration of their teacher; and, although the open demonstration was prevented by the City officers, an alderman took charge of their petition, and offered, unless the preacher's offence was high treason, to put in bail for him in the name of the corporation.
Sept. 17.There were, perhaps, circumstances in the case beyond those which appear; but, instead of listening to the request of the city, the Archbishop spirited away the preacher into Kent, and his friends learned, from the boasts of their adversaries, that he was imprisoned and ill-used. He was attached, it seems, to the Victuallers' Company. 'There is no persecution, wrote a Protestant fanatic, 'except of the Victuallers; of which sect a certain impostor of the name of Watts, formerly of the order of wry-necked cattle, is now holding forth, oh, shame! in the stocks at Canterbury Bridewell, having been accustomed to mouth elsewhere against the Gospel.'
While England was thus fermenting towards a second crisis, the German marriage was creating no less anxiety on the Continent. As it was Cromwell's chief object to unite England with the Lutherans, so was Charles V. anxious above all things to keep them separate; and no sooner was he aware that the Duke of Cleves had consented to give his sister to Henry than he renewed his offer of the Duchess of Milan. The reply was a cold and peremptory refusal; and the Emperor, seeing that the English Government would not be again trifled with, determined to repair into Flanders, in order to be at hand, should important movements take place in Germany. To give menace and significance to his journey, he resolved, if possible, to pass through France on his way, and in a manner so unformal and confidential as, perhaps, might contribute towards substantiating his relations with Francis, or, at least, might give the world the impression of their entire cordiality.
OcotberThe proposal of a visit from the Emperor, when made known at Paris, was met with a warm and instant assent; and many were the speculations to which an affair so unexpected gave occasion in Europe. But the minds of men were not long at a loss, and Henry's intended marriage was soon accepted as an adequate explanation. The danger of a Protestant league compelled the Catholic powers to bury their rivalries; and a legate was despatched from Rome to be present at the meeting at Paris. Reginald Pole, ever on the watch for an opportunity to strike a blow at his country, caught once more at the opening, and submitted a paper on the condition of England to the Pope, showing how the occasion might be improved. The Emperor was aware, Pole said, that England had been lost to the Holy See in a Spanish quarrel, and for the sake of a Spanish princess; and he knew himself to be bound in honour, however hitherto he had made pretexts for delay, to assist in its recovery. His Imperial oaths, the insults to his family, the ancient alliance between England and the house of Burgundy, with his own promises so often repeated, alike urged the same duty upon him; and now, at last, he was able to act without difficulty. The rivalry between France and Spain had alone encouraged Henry to defy the opinion of Europe. That rivalry was at an end. The two sovereigns had only to unite in a joint remonstrance against his conduct, with a threat that he should be declared a public enemy if he persisted in his course, and his submission would be instant. He would not dare to refuse. He could not trust his subjects: they had risen once of themselves, and he knew too well the broken promises, the treachery and cruelty, with which he had restored order, to risk their fury, should they receive effective support from abroad. Without striking a single blow, the Catholic powers might achieve a glorious triumph, and heal the gaping wound in the body of Christ. So wrote, and so thought the English traitor, with all human probabilities in his favour, and only the Eternal Powers on the other side. The same causes which filled Pole with hope struck terror into weak and agitated hearts in the country which he was seeking to betray; the wayfarers on the highroads talked to each other in despair of the impending ruin of the kingdom, left naked without an ally to the attacks of the world.
Spreading around him such panics and such expectations, the Emperor entered France almost simultaneously with the departure of Anne of Cleves from her mother's side to the shores of England. Pity that, in the game of diplomacy, statesmen are not compelled to use their own persons for their counters! are not forbidden to cast on others the burden of their own failures!
Francis, in order to show Charles the highest courtesy, despatched the constable Montmorency, with the Dauphin and the Duke of Orleans, to Bayonne, and offered, if the Emperor distrusted him, that his sons should be detained as pledges for his good faith. Charles would not be outdone in generosity; when he gave his confidence he gave it without reserve; and, without accepting the security, he crossed the frontier, attended only by his personal train, and made his way to the capital, with the two princes at his side, through a succession of magnificent entertainments. January, 1540.On the 1st of January he entered Paris, where he was to remain for a week; and Henry, at once taking the initiative, made an opportunity to force him, if possible, to a declaration of his intentions. Attached to the Imperial household was a Welshman named Brancetor, uncle of 'young Rice,' who had been executed for a conspiracy against Henry's life in 1531. This man, having been originally obliged to leave England for debt, had contrived, while on the Continent, by assiduity of treason, to assume the more interesting character of a political refugee. He had attached himself to Pole and to Pole's fortunes; he had exerted himself industriously in Spain in persuading English subjects to violate their allegiance; and in the Parliament of the previous spring he had been rewarded by the distinction of a place in the list of attainted traitors.
Analogous occupations had brought him to Paris; and, in conformity with treaties, Henry instructed Sir Thomas Wyatt, who was then in England, to repair to the French Court, and require his extradition. Wyatt imprudently affected to consider that the affair belonged rather to the police than to the Government, and applied to the Constable for Brancetor's arrest. Montmorency was unaware of the man's connection with the Emperor. Wyatt informed him merely that an English subject who had robbed his master, and had afterwards conspired against the King, was in Paris, and requested his apprehension. He had been watched to his lodgings by a spy; and the provost-marshal was placed without difficulty at Wyatt's disposal, and was directed to attend him.
The police surrounded the house where Brancetor was to be found. It was night. The English minister entered, and found his man writing at a table. 'I told him,' Wyatt reported in his account of the story, 'that, since he would not come to visit me, I was come to seek him. His colour changed as soon as he heard my voice; and with that came in the provost, and set hand on him. I reached to the letters that he was writing, but he caught them afore me, and flung them backwards into the fire. I overthrew him, and cracked them out; but the provost got them.' Brancetor upon this declared himself the Emperor's servant. He made no attempt to escape, but charged the officer, 'that his writings and himself should be delivered into the Emperor's hands.' He took a number of papers from his pocket, which he placed in the provost's charge; and the latter, not daring to act further in such a matter without further instructions, left a guard in the room with Wyatt and the prisoner, and went to make a report to the chancellor. 'In the mean time,' says Wyatt, 'I used all the soberness I could with Brancetor, advising him to submit himself to your Majesty; but he made the Emperor his master, and seemed to regard nothing else. Once he told me he had heard me oft times say that kings have long hands; but God, quoth he, hath longer. I asked him what length he thought that would make when God's and kings' hands were joined together; but he assured himself of the Emperor.' Presently the provost returned, and said that Brancetor was to remain in his charge till the morning, when Wyatt would hear further. Nothing more could be done with the provost; and after breakfast Wyatt had an interview with the Bishop of Arras and the chancellor. The treaties were plain; a clause stated in the clearest language that neither France, nor Spain, nor England should give shelter to each other's traitors; but such a case as Brancetor's had as clearly not been anticipated when they were drawn; and the matter was referred to the Emperor.
Charles made no difficulty in granting an audience, which he seemed rather to court. He was extremely angry. The man had been in his service, he said, for years; and it was ill done to arrest a member of his household without paying him even the courtesy of a first application on the subject. The English Government could scarcely be serious in expecting that he would sacrifice an old attendant in any such manner. Wyatt answered sturdily that Brancetor was his master's subject. There was clear proof, he could vouch for it on his own knowledge, that the man committed treason in Spain; and he again insisted on the treaties. The Emperor cared nothing for treaties. Treaty or no treaty, a servant of his own should pass free; 'and if he was in the Tower of London,' he said, 'he would never consent so to charge his honour and conscience.' Brancetor had come to Paris under his protection; and the French Government would never do him the dishonour of permitting the seizure of one of his personal train.
He was so displeased, and there was so much truth in what he said, that Wyatt dared not press him further; but opened ground again with a complaint which he had been instructed also to make, of the ill usage of Englishmen in Spain by the Inquisition. Charles again flashed up with imperious vehemence. 'In a loud voice,' he replied that 'the authority of the Inquisition depended not upon him. It had been established in his realm and countries for good consideration, and such as he would not break—no, not for his grandame.'
It was unreasonable, Wyatt replied, to punish men merely for their want of allegiance to Rome. They were no heretics, sacramentaries, Anabaptists. They held the Catholic faith as truly as any man.
'The King is of one opinion,' Charles replied, 'and I am of another. If your merchants come with novelties, I cannot let the Inquisition. This is a thing that toucheth our faith.'
'What!' Wyatt said, 'the primacy of the Bishop of Rome?'
'Yea, marry,' the Emperor answered, 'shall we now come to dispute of tibi dabo claves. I would not alter my Inquisition. No; if I thought they would be negligent in their office, I would put them out, and put others in their rooms.'
All this was uttered with extraordinary passion and violence. Charles, who was usually so temperate, seemed to have lost his self-command. Wyatt went on to say that the Spanish preached slanders against England, and against the King especially, in their pulpits.
'As to that,' said the Emperor, 'preachers will speak against myself whenever there is cause. That cannot be let. Kings be not kings of tongues; and if men give cause to be spoken of, they will be spoken of.'
He promised at last, with rather more calmness, to inquire into the treatment of the merchants, if proper particulars were supplied to him.
If alarm was really felt in the English Court at the Emperor's presence in Paris, Wyatt's report of this interview was not reassuring. Still less satisfactory was an intimation, which was not long in reaching England, that Francis or one of his ministers had betrayed to Charles a private article in the treaty of Calais, in 1532. Anticipating at that time a war with Spain, Henry had suggested, and Francis had acquiesced in, a proposal for a partition of the Flemish provinces. The opportunity of this visit was chosen by the French to give an evidence of unmistakeable goodwill in revealing an exasperating secret.
Keeping these transactions, so ominous of evil, before our minds, let us now return to the events which were simultaneously taking place in England.
Dec. 11.On the 11th of December the Lady Anne of Cleves was conducted, under a German escort, to Calais, where Lord Southampton and four hundred English noblemen and gentlemen were waiting to receive her, and conduct her to her future country. The 'Lion' and the 'Sweepstake' were in the harbour—the ships which two years before had fought the Flemings in the Downs. As she rode into the town the vessels' yards were manned, the rigging was decorated with flags, and a salute of a hundred and fifty guns was fired in her honour. By her expectant subjects she was splendidly welcomed; but the weather was wild; fifteen days elapsed before she could cross with ease and expedition; and meanwhile she was left to the entertainment of the lords. Southampton, in despair at her absence of accomplishments, taught her, as a last resource, to play at cards. Meantime, he wrote to advertise the King of her arrival, and thinking, as he afterwards said, that he must make the best of a matter which it had become too late to remedy, he repeated the praises which had been uttered so loudly by others of the lady's appearance. He trusted that, 'after all the debating, the success would be to the consolation of his Majesty, and the weal of his subjects and realm.'
Dec. 27.At length, on Saturday, December the 27th, as the winter twilight was closing into night, the intended Queen of England set her foot upon the shore, under the walls of Deal Castle. The cannon, freshly mounted, flashed their welcome through the darkness; the Duke and Duchess of Suffolk had waited in the fortress for her landing, and the same night conducted her to Dover. Here she rested during Sunday. Monday, Dec. 29.The next morning she went on, in a storm, to Dec. 29, Canterbury; and on Barham Down stood Cranmer, with five other bishops, in the wind and the rain, to welcome, as they fondly hoped, the enchantress who would break the spell of the Six Articles. She was entertained for the evening at Saint Augustine's. Tuesday she was at Sittingbourne. Wednesday, Dec. 31.On New-year's eve she reached Rochester, to which the King was already hastening for the first sight of the lady, the fame of whose charms had been sounded in his ears so loudly. He came down in private, attended only by Sir Anthony Brown, the master of the horse. The interview, agitating under all circumstances, would be made additionally awkward from the fact that neither the King nor his bride could understand each other's language. He had brought with him, therefore, 'a little present,' a graceful gift of some value, to soften the embarrassment and conciliate at first sight the lovely being into whose presence he was to be introduced. The visit was meant for a surprise; the King's appearance at her lodgings was the first intimation of his intention; and the master of the horse was sent in to announce his arrival and request permission for his Highness to present himself.
Sir Anthony, aware of the nature of Henry's expectations, entered the room where Anne was sitting. He described his sensations on the unlooked-for spectacle which awaited him in moderate language, when he said, 'that he was never more dismayed in his life, lamenting in his heart to see the lady so unlike that she was reported.' The graces of Anne of Cleves were moral only, not intellectual, and not personal. She was simple, quiet, modest, sensible, and conscientious; but her beauty existed only in the imagination of the painter. Her presence was ladylike; but her complexion was thick and dark: her features were coarse; her figure large, loose, and corpulent. The required permission was given. The King entered. His heart sank; his presence of mind forsook him; he was 'suddenly quite discouraged and amazed' at the prospect which was opened before him. He forgot his present; he almost forgot his courtesy. He did not stay in the room 'to speak twenty words.' He would not even stay in Rochester. 'Very sad and pensive,' says Brown, he entered his barge and hurried back to Greenwich, anxious only to escape, while escape was possible, from the unwelcome neighbourhood. Unwilling to marry at all, he had yielded only to the pressure of a general desire. He had been deceived by untrue representations, and had permitted a foreign princess to be brought into the realm; and now, as fastidious in his tastes as he was often little scrupulous in his expression of them, he fouud himself on the edge of a connection the very thought of which was revolting. It was a cruel fortune which imposed on Henry VIII., in addition to his other burdens, the labour of finding heirs to strengthen the succession. He 'lamented the fate of princes to be in matters of marriage of far worse sort than the condition of poor men.' 'Princes take,' he said, 'as is brought them by others, and poor men be commonly at their own choice.'
January.Cromwell, who knew better than others knew the true nature of the King's adventure, was waiting nervously at Greenwich for the result of the experiment. He presented himself on the King's appearance, and asked him 'how he liked the Lady Anne?' The abrupt answer confirmed his fears. 'Nothing so well as she was spoken of,' the King said. 'If I had known as much before as I know now, she should never have come into the realm.' 'But what remedy?' he added in despondency. The German alliance was already shaking at its base: the Court was agitated and alarmed; the King was miserable. Cromwell, to whom the blame was mainly due, endeavoured for a moment to shrink from his responsibility, and accused Southampton of having encouraged false hopes in his letters from Calais. Southampton answered fairly that the fault did not rest with him. He had been sent to bring the Queen into England, and it was not his place to 'dispraise her appearance.' 'The matter being so far gone,' he had supposed his duty was to make the best of it.
Friday, January 2.Among these recriminations passed the night of Friday, while Charles V. was just commencing his triumphal progress through France. The day following, the innocent occasion of the confusion came on to Greenwich. The marriage had been arranged for the Sunday after. The prospects were altogether dark, and closer inspection confirmed the worst apprehensions. The ladies of the Court were no less shocked than their husbands. The unfortunate princess was not only unsightly, but she had 'displeasant airs' about her, and Lady Brown imparted to Sir Anthony 'how she saw in the Queen such fashions, and manner of bringing up so gross, that she thought the King would never love her.' Saturday, January 3.Henry met her on the stairs when her barge arrived. He conducted her to her apartments, and on the way Croniwell saw her with his own eyes. The sovereign and the minister then retired together, and the just displeasure became visible. 'How say you, my lord?' the King said. 'Is it not as I told you? Say what they will, she is nothing fair. The personage is well and seemly, but nothing else.' Cromwell attempted faintly to soothe him by suggesting that she had 'a queenly manner.' The King agreed to that; but the recommendation was insufficient to overcome the repugnance which he had conceived; and he could resolve on nothing. A frail fibre of hope offered itself in the story of the precontract with the Count of Lorraine. Henry caught at it to postpone the marriage for two days; and Sunday, January 4.on the Sunday morning he sent for the German suite who had attended the princess, and requested to see the papers connected with the Lorraine treaty. Astonished and unprepared, they requested time to consider. The following morning they had an interview with the council, when they stated that, never anticipating any such demand, they could not possibly comply with it on the instant; but the engagement had been nothing. The instrument which they had brought with them declared the Princess free from all ties whatever. If the King realty required the whole body of the documents, they would send to Cleves for them; but, in the mean time, they trusted he would not refuse to accept their solemn assurances.
Monday, January 5.Cromwell carried the answer to Henry; and it was miserably unwelcome. 'I have been ill-handled,' he said. 'If it were not that she is come so far into England, and for fear of making a ruffle in the world, and driving her brother into the Emperor's and French King's hands, now being together, I would never have her. But now it is too far gone; wherefore I am sorry.' As a last pretext for hesitation he sent to Anne herself to desire a protest from hei that she was free from contracts; a proof of backwardness on the side of the King might, perhaps, provoke a corresponding unwillingness. But the impassive constitution of the lady would have been proof against a stronger hint. The protest was drawn and signed with instant readiness. 'Is there no remedy,' Henry exclaimed, 'but that I must needs, against my will, put my neck into this yoke?' There was none. It was inevitable. The conference at Paris lay before him like a thunder-cloud. The divorce of Catherine and the execution of Anne Boleyn had already created sufficient scandal in Europe. At such a moment he durst not pass an affront upon the Germans, which might drive them also into a compromise with his other enemies. He gathered up his resolution. As the thing was to be done, it might be done at once; delay would not make the bitter dose less unpalatable; and the day remained fixed for the date of its first postponement—Tuesday, January 6.Tuesday, the 6th of January. As he was preparing for the sacrifice he called Cromwell to him in the chamber of presence: 'My lord,' he said openly, 'if it were not to satisfy the world and my realm, I would not do that I must do this day for none earthly thing.'
The marriage was solemnized. A last chance remained to the privy seal and to the eager prelates who had trembled in the storm on Barham Down, that the affection which could not precede the ceremony might perhaps follow it. But the tide had turned against the Reformers; and their contrivances to stem the current were not of the sort which could be allowed to prosper. Dislike was confirmed into rooted aversion. The instinct with which the King recoiled from Anne settled into a defined resolution. He was personally kind to her. His provocations did not tempt him into discourtesy; but, although she shared his bed, necessity and inclination alike limited the companionship to a form; and Henry lamented to Cromwell, who had been the cause of the calamity, that 'surely he would never have any more children for the comfort of the realm.'
The union of France and the Empire, which had obliged the accomplishment of this unlucky connection, meanwhile prevented, so long as it continued, either an open fracas or an alteration in the policy of the kingdom. The relations of the King and Queen were known only to a few of the council. Cromwell continued in power, and the Protestants remained in security. The excitement which had been created in London by the persecution of Dr Watts was kept alive by a controversy between the Bishop of Winchester and three of the Lutheran preachers—Dr Barnes, for ever unwisely prominent; the Vicar of Stepney, who had shuffled over his recantation; and Garrett, the same who had been in danger of the stake at Oxford for selling Testaments, and had since been a chaplain of Latimer. It is difficult to exaggerate the audacity with which the orators of the moving party trespassed on the patience of the laity. The disputes, which had been slightly turned out of their channel by the Six Articles, were running now on justification—a sufficient subject, however, to give scope for differences, and for the full enunciation of the Lutheran gospel. The magistrates in the country attempted to keep order and enforce the law; but, when they imprisoned a heretic, they found themselves rebuked and menaced by the privy seal. February.Their prison doors were opened, they were exposed to vexatious suits for loss or injury to the property of the discharged offenders, and their authority and persons were treated with disrespect and contumely. The Reformers had outshot their healthy growth. They required to be toned down by renewed persecution into that good sense and severity of mind without which religion is but as idle and unprofitable a folly as worldly excitement.
March.In London, on the first Sunday in Lent, the Bishop of Winchester preached on the now prominent topic at Paul's Cross: 'A very Popish sermon,' says Traheron, one of the English correspondents of Bullinger, 'and much to the discontent of the people.' To the discontent it may have been of many, but not to the discontent of the ten thousand citizens who had designed the procession to Lambeth. The Sunday following, the same pulpit was occupied by Barnes, who, calling Gardiner a fighting-cock, and himself another, challenged the Bishop to trim his spurs for a battle. He taunted his adversary with concealed Romanism. Like the judges at Fouquier Tinville's tribunal, whose test of loyalty to the Republic was the question what the accused had done to be hanged on the restoration of the monarchy, Barnes said that, if he and the Bishop of Winchester were at Rome together, much money would not save his life, but for the Bishop there was no fear—a little entreatance would purchase favour enough for him. From these specimens we may conjecture the character of the sermon; and, from Traheron's delight with it, we may gather equally the imprudent exultation of the Protestants. Gardiner complained to the King. He had a fair cause, and was favourably listened to. Henry sent for Barnes, and examined him in a private audience. The questions of the day were opened.—Merit, works, faith, free-will, grace of congruity, were each discussed—once mystic words of power, able, like the writing on the seal of Solomon, to convulse the world, now mere innocent sounds, which the languid but still eager lips of a dying controversy breathe in vain.
Barnes, too proud of his supposed abilities to understand the disposition with which he was dealing, told the King, in an excess of unwisdom, that he would submit himself to him.
Henry was more than angry: 'Yield not to me,' he said; 'I am a mortal man.' He rose as he spoke, and turning to the sacrament, which stood on a private altar in the room, and taking off his bonnet—'Yonder is the Master of us all,' he said; 'yield in truth to Him; otherwise submit yourself not to me.' Barnes was commanded, with Garrett and Jerome, to make a public acknowledgment of his errors; and to apologize especially for his insolent language to Gardiner. It has been already seen how Jerome could act in such a position. An admirer of these men, in relating their conduct on the present occasion, declared, as if it was something to their credit, 'how gaily they handled the matter, both to satisfy the recantation and also, in the same sermon, to utter out the truth, that it might spread without let of the world.
Like giddy night-moths, they were flitting round the fire which would soon devour them.
In April, Parliament was to meet—the same Parliament which had passed the Six Articles Bill with acclamation. It was to be seen in what temper they would endure the suspension of their favourite measure. The bearing of the Parliament, was, however, for the moment, of comparative indifference. The King and his ministers were occupied with other matters too seriously to be able to attend to it. A dispute had arisen between the Emperor and the Duke of Cleves, on the duchy of Gueldres, to which Charles threatened to assert his right by force; and, galling as Henry found his marriage, the alliance in which it had involved him, its only present recommendation, was too useful to be neglected. The treatment of English residents in Spain, the open patronage of Brancetor, and the haughty and even insolent language which had been used to Wyatt, could not be passed over in silence, whatever might be the consequences; and, with the support of Germany, he believed that he might now, perhaps, repay the Emperor for the alarms and anxieties of years. Feb. 3.After staying a few days in Paris, Charles had gone on to Brussels. On the receipt of Wyatt's despatch with the account of his first interview, the King instructed him to require in reply the immediate surrender of the English traitor; to insist that the proceedings of the Inquisition should be redressed and punished; and to signify, at the same time, that the English Government desired to mediate between himself and the King's brother-in-law. Nor was the imperiousness of the message to be softened in the manner of delivery. More than once Henry had implied that Charles was under obligations to England for the Empire. Wyatt was commanded to allude pointedly to these and other wounding memories, and particularly, and with marked emphasis, to make use of the word 'ingratitude.' The object was, perhaps, to show that Henry was not afraid of him; perhaps to express a real indignation which there was no longer reason to conceal.
The directions were obeyed; and Wyatt's English haughtiness was likely to have fulfilled them to the letter. The effect was magical. The Emperor started, changed colour, hesitated, and then burst in anger. 'It is too much,' he said, 'to use the term ingrate to me. The inferior may be ingrate to the greater. The term is scant sufferable between like.' Perhaps, he added, as Wyatt was speaking in a foreign language, the ambassador might have used a word which he imperfectly comprehended. Wyatt assured him placidly that there was no error: the word was in his instructions, and its meaning perfectly understood. 'The King took it so.' 'Kings' opinions are not always the best,' Charles replied. 'I cannot tell, sir,' the ambassador answered, 'what ye mean by that; but if ye think to note the King my master of anything that should touch him, I assure you he is a prince to give reason to God and the world sufficient in his opinions.' Leaving the word as it stood, he required an answer to the material point.
If Henry was indifferent to a quarrel, the Emperor seemed to be equally willing; Wyatt gathered from his manner, either that he was careless of consequences, or that he desired to provoke the English to strike the first blow. He answered as before, that Brancetor had committed no crime that he knew of. If the King of England would be more explicit in his accusations, he would consider them. His dispute with the Duke of Cleves he intended to settle by himself, and would allow of no interference; and as to the merchants, he had rather they should never visit his countries at all, than visit them to carry thither their heresy. Irritation is a passion which it is seldom politic to excite; and a message like that of Wyatt had been better undelivered, unless no doubt existed of being able to support it by force. A fixed idea in Cromwell's mind, which we trace in all his correspondence, was the impossibility of a genuine coalition between Charles and Francis. Either misled by these impressions, or deceived by rumours, Henry seems to have been acting, not only in a reliance on the Germans, but in a belief that the Emperor's visit to Paris had closed less agreeably than it had opened, that the Milan quarrel had revived, and that the hasty partnership already threatened a dissolution. Some expectation of the kind he had unquestionably formed, for, Marchon the arrival of Wyatt's letter with the Emperor's answer, he despatched the Duke of Norfolk on a mission into France, which, if successful, would have produced a singular revulsion in Europe. Francis was to be asked frankly how the Italian question stood. If the Emperor was dealing in good faith with him, or if he was himself satisfied, nothing more need be desired; if, on the contrary, he felt himself 'hobbled with a vain hope,' there was now an opportunity for him to take fortune prisoner, to place his highest wishes within his grasp, and revenge Pavia, and his own and his children's captivity. The ingratitude story was to be repeated, with Charles's overbearing indignation; redress for the open and iniquitous oppression of English subjects had been absolutely refused; and the Emperor's manner could be interpreted only as bearing out what had long been suspected of him, that he 'aspired to bring Christendom to a monarchy;' that 'he thought himself superior to all kings,' and, 'by little and little,' would work his way to universal empire. His insolence might be punished, and all dangers of such a kind for ever terminated, at the present juncture. A league was in process of formation, for mutual defence, between the King of England, the Duke of Cleves, the Elector of Saxony, the Landgrave, and other princes of the Empire. Let Francis join them, and 'they would have the Emperor in such a pitfall, that percase it might be their chance to have him prisoner at their pleasure, his being so environed with them, and having no way to start.' The temptation was so well adjusted to the temperament of Francis that it seemed as if he felt an excuse necessary to explain his declining the combination. The French chancellor told Norfolk that his master was growing old, and that war had lost its charm for him. But, in fact, the proposal was based upon a blunder for which Cromwell's despair was probably responsible. Francis, at the moment, was under the influence of the Cardinal of Ferrara, who had come from Rome on a crusading expedition; and, so far from then desiring to quarrel with Charles, he simply communicated to him Henry's suggestions; while the Queen of Navarre gave a warning to Norfolk that, if the Anglo-German league assumed an organized form, it would be followed by an alliance as close and as dangerous between France and the Empire.
April.Cromwell had again failed; and another and a worse misadventure followed. The German princes, for whose sake the privy seal had incurred his present danger, had their own sense of prudence, and were reluctant to quarrel with the Emperor, so long as it was possible to escape. Experience had taught Charles the art of trifling with their credulity, and he flattered them with a hope that from them he would accept a mediation in behalf of the Duke of Cleves, which he had rejected so scornfully when offered by England.
Thus was Henry left alone, having been betrayed into an attitude which he was unable to support, and deserted by the allies for whom he had entangled himself in a marriage which he detested. Well might his confidence have been shaken in the minister whose fortune and whose sagacity had failed together. Driven forward by the necessity of success or destruction, Cromwell was, at the same time, precipitating the crisis in England. Gardiner, Tunstall, and Sampson the Bishop of Chichester, were his three chief antagonists. In April, Sampson was sent to the Tower, on a charge of having relieved 'certain traitorous persons ' who had denied the King's supremacy. The two others, it is likely, would soon have followed: the Bishop of Chichester accused them of having been the cause of his own misconduct, to such extent as he admitted himself to have erred; and although Tunstall equivocated, he at least would not have escaped imprisonment, had the Privy Seal remained in power, if imprisonment had been the limit of his sufferings. To the eyes of the world, the destroyer of the monasteries, the 'hammer of the monks,' remained absolute as ever. No cloud, as yet, was visible in the clear sky of his prosperity; when the moment came, he fell suddenly, as if struck by lightning, on the very height and pinnacle of his power. If events had been long working towards the catastrophe, it was none the less abrupt, surprising, unlocked for.
April 12.On the 12th of April, amidst failure abroad and increased discontent at home, Parliament assembled. After the ordinary address from the chancellor, Cromwell rose to speak a few words on the state of the kingdom.
'The King's Majesty,' he said, 'knowing that concord is the only sure and true bond of security in the commonwealth, knowing that if the head and all the members of the body corporate agree in one, there will be wanting nothing to the perfect health of the State, has therefore sought, prized, and desired concord beyond all other things. With no little distress, therefore, he learns that there are certain persons who make it their business to create strife and controversy; that in the midst of the good seed tares also are growing up to choke the harvest. The rashness and carnal license of some, the inveterate corruption and obstinate superstition of others, have caused disputes which have done hurt to the souls of pious Christians. The names of Papist and heretic are bandied to and fro. The Holy Word of God, which his Highness, of his great clemency, has permitted to be read in the vulgar tongue, for the comfort and edification of his people—this treasure of all sacred things—is abused, and made a servant of errour or idolatry; and such is the tumult of opinion, that his Highness ill knows how to bear it. His purpose is to shew no favour to extremes on either side. He professes the sincere faith of the Gospel, as becomes a Christian prince, declining neither to the right hand nor to the left, but setting before his eyes the pure Word of God as his only mark and guide. On this Word his princely mind is fixed; on this Word he depends for his sole support; and with all his might his Majesty will labour that errour shall be taken away, and true doctrines be taught to his people, modelled by the rule of the Gospel. Of forms, ceremonies, and traditions he will have the reasonable use distinguished from the foolish and idolatrous use. He will have all impiety, all superstition, abolished and put away. And, finally, he will have his subjects cease from their irreverent handling of God's book. Those who have offended against the faith and the laws shall suffer the punishment by the laws appointed; and his first and last prayer is for the prevailing of Christ—the prevailing of the Word of Christ—the prevailing of the truth.'
A general intimation of intentions, which being so stated every one would approve, passed quietly, and the subject dropped. It is the peculiarity of discourses on theological subjects, that they are delivered and they are heard under an impression, both on the part of the speaker and of his audience, that each is in possession of the only reasonable and moderate truth; and so long as particulars are avoided, moderation is praised, and all men consent to praise it—excess is condemned, and all agree in the condemnation. Five days after, a public mark of the King's approbation was bestowed on Cromwell, who was created Earl of Essex; and the ordinary legislation commenced quietly. The complaints against the Statute of Uses were met by a measure which silently divided the leading root of the feudal system. Persons holding lands by military tenure were allowed to dispose of two-thirds in their wills, as they pleased. Lands held under any other conditions might be bequeathed absolutely, without condition or restriction. To prevent disputes on titles, and to clear such confusion of claims as had been left remaining by the Uses Act, sixty years' possession of property was declared sufficient to constitute a valid right; and no claim might be pressed which rested on pretensions of an older date. May.The Privy Seal's hand is legible in several Acts abridging ecclesiastical privileges, and restoring monks, who had been dead in law, to some part of their rights as human beings. The suppression of the religious houses had covered England with vagrant priests, who, though pensioned, were tempted by idleness, and immunity from punishment, into crimes. If convicted of felony, and admitted 'to their clergy,' such persons were in future to be burnt in the hand. A bill in the preceding year had relieved them from their vows of poverty; they were permitted to buy, inherit, or otherwise occupy property. They were freed by dissolution from obedience to their superiors, and the reflection naturally followed, that the justice which had dispensed with two vows, would dispense with the third, and that a permission to marry, in spite of the Six Articles, would soon necessarily follow. Further inroads were made also upon the sanctuaries. Institutions which had worn so deep a groove in the habits of men could not be at once put away; nor, while the letter of the law continued so sanguinary, was it tolerable to remove wholly the correctives which had checked its action, and provide no substitute. The last objection was not perhaps considered a serious one; but prejudice and instinct survived, as a safeguard of humanity. The protection of sanctuary was withdrawn for the more flagrant felonies, for murder, rape, robbery, arson, and sacrilege. Churches and churchyards continued to protect inferior offenders; and seven towns—Wells, Westminster, Manchester, Northampton, York, Derby, and Launceston—retained the same privileges, until, finding that their exemption only converted them into nests of crime, they petitioned of themselves for desecration. Some other regulations were also introduced into the system. Persons taking refuge in a church were allowed to remain not longer than forty days; at the end of which they were to abjure before the coroner and leave the country, or were to be consigned for life to one of the specified towns, where they were to be daily inspected by the governor, and if absent three days consecutively—no very barbarous condition—were to forfeit their security. An Act was passed for the better maintenance of the navy; and next, bringing inevitable ill-will with it to the unpopular minister, appeared the standard English grievance, a Money Bill. In the preceding session the Duke of Norfolk had laid before the Lords a statement of the extraordinary expenses which had been cast upon the Crown, and of the inadequacy of the revenue. Twelve months' notice had been given, that the Houses might consider at their leisure the demand which was likely to be made upon them. May 3.It appeared in a bill introduced on the 3rd of May, requiring a subsidy of four fifteenths and four tenths, the payments to be spread over a period of four years.
The occasion of a demand of money was always carefully stated; the preamble set forth that the country had prospered and had lived in wealth, comfort, and peace under the King, for thirty-one years. His Highness, in the wisdom which God had given him, had brought his subjects out of blindness and ignorance to the knowledge of God and his holy Word. He had shaken off the usurpations of the Bishop of Rome, by whose subtle devices large sums had been annually drained out of the realm. But in doing this he had been forced to contend against insurrections at home and the peril of invasion from the powers of the Continent. He had built a navy and furnished it. He had raised fortresses, laid out harbours, established permanent garrisons in dangerous places, with arsenals for arms and all kinds of military stores. Ireland after an arduous struggle was at length reduced to obedience; but the conquest was maintained at a great and continuing cost. To meet this necessary outlay, no regular provision existed; and the King threw himself confidently upon his subjects, with an assurance that they would not refuse to bear their share of the burden.
The journals throw no light upon the debate, if debate there was. The required sum was voted; we know no more. The sand in Cromwell's hour-glass was almost run. Once more, and conspicuously, his spirit can be seen in a bill of attainder against four priests, three of whom, Abel, Fetherston, and Powell, had been attached to the household of Queen Catherine, and had lingered in the Tower, in resolute denial of the supremacy; the fourth, Robert Cook, of Doncaster, 'had adhered to the late arrogant traitor Robert Aske.' In companionship with them was a woman, Margaret Tyrrell, who had refused to acknowledge Prince Edward to be heir to the crown. These five were declared by Act of Parliament guilty of high treason; their trial was dispensed with; they were sentenced to death, and the bill was passed without a dissentient voice. June.This was on the first of June. It was the same week in which the Tower seemed likely to be the destiny of Tunstall and Gardiner; the struggling parties had reached the crisis when one or the other must fall. Nine days more were allowed to pass; on the tenth the blow descended.
But the story must again go back for a few steps, to make all movements clear.
May.From the day of the King's marriage 'he was in a manner weary of his life.' The public policy of the connection threatened to be a failure. It was useless abroad, it was eminently unpopular at home; while the purpose for which the country had burdened him with a wife was entirely hopeless. To the Queen herself he was kindly distant; but, like most men who have not been taught in early life to endure inconvenience, he brooded in secret over his misfortune, and chafed the wound by being unable to forget it. The documents relating to the pre-contract were not sent; his vexation converted a shadow into a reality. He grew superstitious about his repugnance, which he regarded as an instinct forbidding him to do an unlawful thing. 'I have done as much to move the consent of my heart and mind as ever man did,' he said to Cromwell, 'but without success.' 'I think before God,' he declared another time, 'she has never been my lawful wife.' The wretched relations continued without improvement till the 9th of May. On that day a royal circular was addressed to every member of the privy council, requiring them to attend the King's presence, 'for the treaty of such great and weighty matters as whereupon doth consist the surety of his Highness's person, the preservation of his honour, and the tranquillity and quietness of themselves and all other his loving and faithful subjects.' It may be conjectured that the King had at this time resolved to open his situation for discussion. No other matter can be ascertained to have existed at the time worthy of language so serious. Yet he must have changed his purpose. For three weeks longer the secret was preserved, and his course was still undecided. June.On the evening of the 6th or 7th of June Sir Thomas Wriothesley repaired to Cromwell's house with the ordinary reports of public business. He found the minister alone in a gallery, leaning against a window. 'Were there any news abroad?' Cromwell asked. Wriothesley said he knew of none. 'There is something,' the minister said, 'which troubles me. The King loves not the Queen, nor ever has from the beginning; insomuch as I think assuredly she is yet as good a maid for him as she was when she came to England.' 'Marry, sir,' Wriothesley answered, 'I am right sorry that his Majesty should be so troubled. For God's sake, devise how his Grace may be relieved by one way or the other.' 'Yes,' Cromwell said, 'but what and how?' Wriothesley said he could not tell on the moment; but standing the case as it did, he thought some way might be found. 'Well, well,' answered the minister, 'it is a great matter.' The conversation ended; and Wriothesley left him for the night.
'The next day following,' Wriothesley deposed, 'having occasion eftsoons for business to repair unto him, I chanced to say, 'Sir, I have thought somewhat of the matter you told me, and I find it a great matter. But, sir, it can be made better than it is. For God's sake, devise for the relief of the King; for if he remain in this grief and trouble, we shall all one day smart for it. If his Grace be quiet we shall all have our parts with him.' 'It is true,' quoth he; 'but I tell you it is a great matter.' 'Marry,' quoth I, 'I grant; but let the remedy be searched for.' 'Well,' quoth he; and thus brake off from me.'
Wriothesley's remedy was of course a divorce. It could be nothing else. Yet, was it not a remedy worse than any possible disorder? Cromwell, indeed, knew himself responsible. He it was who, with open eyes, had led the King into his embarrassment. Yet, was a second divorce to give mortal affront to the Lutherans, as the first had done to the Catholics? Was another marriage scandal to taint a movement which had already furnished too much of such material to insolence? What a triumph to the Pope! What a triumph to the Emperor! How would his own elaborate policy crumble to ruins! It was a great matter indeed to Cromwell.
But how would the whisper of the word sound in the ears of the English reactionaries? What would the clergy think of it, in whose, only not unanimous, convictions the German alliance had been from the first a pollution? What would the Parliament think of it, who had seen the fruit of their theological labours so cunningly snatched from them? What would the Anglican bishops think of it, who had found themselves insulted from the pulpit, from behind the shield of the hateful connection—with one of their body already in the Tower, and the same danger hanging before them all? Or the laity generally—the wool-growers of the counties, the merchants of the cities, the taxpayers charged with the new subsidy, who, in the connection with the house of Cleves, saw a fresh cause of quarrel with the Emperor and the ruin of the trade with Flanders; what, to all these, in the heat and rage of party, must have seemed the natural remedy for the King's difficulty? Let Queen Catherine and her friends be avenged by a retribution in kind. Their opinions on the matter were shortly expressed.
Meanwhile, the minister who, in the conduct of the mighty cause which he was guiding, had stooped to dabble in these muddy waters of intrigue, was reaping, within and without, the harvest of his errors. The consciousness of wrong brought with it the consciousness of weakness and moody alternations of temper. The triumph of his enemies stared him in the face, and rash words dropped from him, which were not allowed to fall upon the ground, declaring what he would do if the King were turned from the course of the Reformation. Carefully his antagonists at the council-board had watched him for years. They had noted down his public errors; spies had reported his most confidential language. Slowly, but surely, the pile of accusations had gathered in height and weight, till the time should come to make them public. Three years before, when the northern insurgents had demanded Cromwell's punishment, the King had answered that the laws were open, and were equal to high and low. Let an accuser come forward openly, and prove that the Privy Seal had broken the laws, and he should be punished as surely and as truly as the meanest criminal. The case against him was clear at last; if brought forward in the midst of the King's displeasure, the charges could not fail of attentive hearing, and the release from the detested matrimony might be identified with the punishment of the author of it.
For struck down Cromwell should be, as his master Wolsey had been, to rise no more. Not only was he hated on public grounds, as the leader of a revolution, but, in his multiplied offices, he had usurped the functions of the ecclesiastical courts; he had mixed himself in the private concerns of families; he had interfered between wives and husbands, fathers and sons, brothers and sisters. In his enormous correspondence he appears as the universal referee—the resource of all weak or injured persons. The mad Duchess of Norfolk chose him for her patron against the Duke. Lady Burgh, Lady Parr, Lady Hungerford, alike made him the champion of their domestic wrongs. Justly and unjustly, he had dragged down upon himself the animosity of peers, bishops, clergy, and gentlemen, and their day of revenge was come.
June 10.On the 10th of June he attended as usual at the morning sitting of the House of Lords. The privy council sat in the afternoon, and at three o'clock the Duke of Norfolk rose suddenly at the table: 'My Lord of Essex,' he said, 'I arrest you of high treason.' There were witnesses in readiness, who came forward and swore to have heard him say 'that, if the King and all his realm would turn and vary from his opinions, he would fight in the field in his own person, with his sword in his hand, against the King and all others; adding that, if he lived a year or two, he trusted to bring things to that frame that it should not lie in the King's power to resist or let it.' The words 'were justified to his face.' It was enough. Letters were instantly written to the ambassadors at foreign courts, desiring them to make known the blow which had been struck and the causes which had led to it. The twilight of the summer evening found Thomas Cromwell within the walls of that grim prison which had few outlets except the scaffold; and far off, perhaps, he heard the pealing of the church bells and the songs of revelry in the streets, with which the citizens, short of sight, and bestowing on him the usual guerdon of transcendent merit, exulted in his fall. 'The Lord Cromwell,' says Hall, 'being in the council chamber, was suddenly apprehended and committed to the Tower of London; the which many lamented, but more rejoiced, and specially such as either had been religious men or favoured religious persons; for they banqueted and triumphed together that night, many wishing that that day had been seven years before, and some, fearing lest he should escape, although he were imprisoned, could not be merry; others, who knew nothing but truth by him, both lamented him and heartily prayed for him. But this is true, that, of certain of the clergy he was detestably hated; and specially of such as had borne swing, and by his means were put from it; for indeed he was a man that, in all his doings, seemed not to favour any kind of Popery, nor could not abide the snuffing pride of some prelates.'
The first intention was to bring him to trial, but a parliamentary attainder was a swifter process, better suited to the temper of the victorious reactionists. Five Romanists but a few days previously had been thus sentenced under Cromwell's direction. The retribution was only the more complete which rendered back to him the same measure which he had dealt to others. The bill was brought in a week after his arrest. His offences, when reduced into ordinary prose out of the passionate rhetoric with which they were there described, were generally these:—
1. He was accused of having taken upon himself, without the King's permission, to set at liberty divers persons convicted and attainted of misprision of high treason, and divers others being apprehended and in prison for suspicion of high treason. No circumstances and no names were mentioned; but the fact seemed to be ascertained.
2. He was said to have granted licenses for money; to have issued commissions in his own name and by his own authority: and to have interfered impertinently and unjustly with the rights and liberties of the King's subjects.
3. Being a detestable heretic and disposed to set and sow common sedition and variance amongst the people, he had dispersed into all shires in the realm great numbers of false, erroneous books, disturbing the faith of the King's subjects on the nature of the Eucharist and other articles of the Christian faith. He had openly maintained that the priesthood was a form—that every Christian might equally administer the sacraments. Being vicegerent of the King in matters ecclesiastical, and appointed to correct heresy, he had granted licenses to persons detected or openly defamed of heresy to teach and preach.
4. He had addressed letters to the sheriffs in various shires, causing many false heretics to be set at liberty, some of whom had been actually indicted, and others who had been for good reason apprehended and were in prison.
5. On complaint being made to him of particular heretics and heresies, he had protected the same heretics from punishment; 'he had terribly rebuked their accusers,' and some of them he had persecuted and imprisoned, 'so that the King's good subjects had been in fear to detect the said heretics and heresies.'
6. In fuller explanation of the expressions sworn against him on his arrest, he had made a confederation of heretics, it was said, through the country; and supposing himself to be fully able, by force and strength, to maintain and defend his said abominable treasons and heresies, on declaration made to him of certain preachers, Dr Barnes and others, preaching against the King's proclamation, 'the same Thomas Cromwell affirming the same preaching to be good, did not let to declare and say, 'If the King would turn from it, yet I would not turn; and if the King did turn, and all his people, I would fight in the field, with my sword in my hand, against him and all others; and if that I live a year or two, it shall not lie in the King's power to let it if he would''
7. By bribery and extortion he had obtained vast sums of money; and being thus enriched, he had held the nobles in disdain.
8. Finally, being reminded of his position with respect to the Lords, and of the consequences which he might bring upon himself, he had said, 'If the Lords would handle him so, he would give them such a breakfast as never was made in England, and that the proudest of them should know.' The amount and character of the evidence on which these charges were brought we have no means of judging; but the majority of them carry probability on their front; and we need not doubt that the required testimony was both abundant and sound. The case, of course, had been submitted in all its details to the King before the first step had been taken; and he was called upon to fulfil the promise which he had made of permitting justice to have its way. How was the King to refuse? Many a Catholic had gone to the scaffold for words lighter than those which had been sworn against Cromwell, by Cromwell's own order. Did he or did he not utter those words? If it be these to which he alluded in a letter which he wrote from the Tower to the King, Sir George Throgmorton and Sir Richard Rich were the witnesses against him; and though he tried to shake their testimony, his denial was faint, indirect—not like the broad, absolute repudiation of a man who was consciously clear of offence. Could he have cleared himself on this one point it would have availed him little, if he had suspended the action of the law by his own authority, if he had permitted books to circulate secretly which were forbidden by Act of Parliament, if he had allowed prisoners for high treason or heresy to escape from confinement Although to later generations acts such as these appear as virtues, not as crimes, the King could not anticipate the larger wisdom of posterity. An English sovereign could know no guidance but the existing law, which had been manifestly and repeatedly broken. Even if he had himself desired to shield his minister, it is not easy to see that he could have prevented his being brought to trial, or, if tried, could have prevented his conviction, in the face of an exasperated Parliament, a furious clergy, and a clamorous people. That he permitted the council to proceed by attainder, in preference to the ordinary forms, must be attributed to the share which he, too, experienced in the general anger.
Only one person had the courage or the wish to speak for Cromwell. Cranmer, the first to come forward on behalf of Anne Boleyn, ventured, first and alone, to throw a doubt on the treason of the Privy Seal. 'I heard yesterday, in your Grace's council,' he wrote to the King, 'that the Earl of Essex is a traitor; yet who cannot be sorrowful and amazed that he should be a traitor against your Majesty—he whose surety was only by your Majesty—he who loved your Majesty, as I ever thought, no less than God—he who studied always to set forwards whatsoever was your Majesty's will and pleasure he that cared for no man's displeasure to serve your Majesty—he that was such a servant, in my judgment, in wisdom, diligence, faithfulness, and experience as no prince in this realm—ever had he that was so vigilant to preserve your Majesty from all treasons, that few could be so secretly conceived but he detected the same in the beginning!—I loved him as my friend, for so I took him to be; but I chiefly loved him for the love which I thought I saw him bear ever towards your Grace, singularly above all others. But now, if he be a traitor, I am sorry that ever I loved or trusted him; and I am very glad that his treason is discovered in time; but yet, again, I am very sorrowful; for who shall your Grace trust hereafter, if you may not trust him? Alas! I lament your Grace's chance herein. I wot not whom your Grace may trust.'
The intercession was bravely ventured; but it was fruitless. The illegal acts of a minister who had been trusted with extraordinary powers were too patent for denial; and Cranmer himself was forced into a passive acquiescence, while the enemies of the Reformation worked their revenge. Heresy and truth, treason and patriotism! these are words which in a war of parties change their meaning with the alternations of success, till time and fate have pronounced the last interpretation, and human opinions and sympathies bend to the deciding judgment. But while the struggle is still in progress while the partisans on either side exclaim that truth is with them, and error with their antagonists, and the minds of this man and of that man are so far the only arbiters—those, at such a time, are not the least to be commended who obey for their guide the law as it in fact exists. Men there are who need no such direction, who follow their own course—it may be to a glorious success, it may be to as glorious a death. To such proud natures the issue to themselves is of trifling moment. They live for their work or die for it, as their Almighty Father wills. But the law in a free country cannot keep pace with genius. It reflects the plain sentiments of the better order of average men; and if it so happen as in a perplexed world of change it will happen and must, that a statesman, or a prophet, is beyond his age, and in collision with a law which his conscience forbids him to obey, he bravely breaks it, bravely defies it, and either wins the victory in his living person, or, more often, wins it in his death. In fairness, Cromwell should have been tried; but it would have added nothing to his chances of escape. He could not disprove the accusations. He could but have said that he had done right, not wrong—a plea which would have been but a fresh crime. But, in the deafening storm of denunciation which burst out, the hastiest vengeance was held the greatest justice. Any charge, however wild, gained hearing; the French Court believed that the Privy Seal had intended privately to marry the Lady Mary, as the Duke of Suffolk had married the King's sister, and on Henry's death proposed to seize the crown. When a story so extravagant could gain credence, the circular of the council to the ambassadors rather furnishes matter of suspicion by its moderation.
The attainder passed instantly, with acclamation. Francis wrote a letter of congratulation to the King on the discovery of the 'treason.' Charles V., whose keener eyes saw deeper into the nature of the catastrophe, when the news were communicated to him, 'was nothing moved outwardly in countenance or word,' but said merely, 'What, is he in the Tower of London, and by the King's commandment?' He sent no message, no expression of regret or of pleasure, no word of any kind; but from that moment no menacing demonstrations or violent words or actions ruffled his relations with England, till a new change had passed upon the stage. His own friends were now in power. He knew it, and acknowledged them. The barrier which had stemmed the reactionary tide had now fallen. Omnipotent in Parliament and Convocation, the King inclining in their favour, carrying with them the sympathy of the wealth, the worldliness, and the harder intellect of the country, freed from the dreaded minister, freed from the necessity of conciliating the German Protestants, the Anglican leaders made haste to redeem their lost time, and develope their policy more wisely than before.
Their handiwork is to be traced in the various measures which occupied the remainder of the session. The first step was to despatch the Bishop of Bath to the Duke of Cleves, to gain his consent, if possible, to his sister's separation from the King; Anne, herself, meanwhile, being recommended, for the benefit of her health, to retire for a few days to Richmond. The bill of attainder was disposed of on the I9th of June; on the 22nd the bishops brought in a bill for the better payment of tithes, which in a few years last past certain persons had contemptuously presumed to withhold. July 1.On the 1st of July a bill was read enacting that, whereas in the Parliament of the year preceding 'a godly Act was made for the abolishment of diversity of opinion concerning the Christian religion,' the provisions of which, for various reasons, had not been enforced, for the better execution of the said Act the number of commissioners appointed for that purpose should be further increased; and the bishops and the bishops' chancellors should be assisted by the archdeacons and the officials of their courts. This measure, like the attainder, was passed unanimously. On the 5th a general pardon was introduced, from which heretics were exempted by a special proviso. The new spirit was rapid in its manifestation. July 6The day after (for it was not thought necessary to wait for a letter from Germany) the Cleves' marriage was brought forward for discussion; and the care with which the pleadings were parodied which had justified the divorce of Catherine resembled rather a deliberate intention to discredit the first scandal than a serious effort to defend the second; but we must not judge the conduct of a party blinded with passion by the appearance which such conduct seems to wear in a calmer retrospect.
The chancellor, once more reminding the lords of the wars of the Roses, and the danger of a disputed succession, informed them that certain doubts had arisen affecting the legality of the King's present marriage. The absence of a prospect of issue was the single palliative of the present proceedings. The chancellor injured the case so far as it admitted of injury, by dwelling on the possibility of an issue of doubtful legitimacy. The questions raised, however, belonged, he said, to the canon law, and he proposed that they should be submitted to the clergy then sitting in Convocation.
When the chancellor had ceased, the peers desired to communicate with the other House. Six delegates were sent down to repeat the substance of what they had heard, and returned presently, followed by twenty members of the House of Commons, who signified a wish to speak with the King in person. The Lords assented, and repaired in a body with the twenty members to Whitehall. The formality of State interviews may not be too closely scrutinized. They requested to be allowed to open to his Majesty a great and important matter, which his Majesty, they were well aware, had alone permitted them to discuss. His Majesty, being confident that they would make no improper demands, they laid before him the proposition which they had heard from the woolsack, and added their own entreaties that he would be pleased to consent. The King was gracious, but the canon law required also the consent of the Queen; for which, therefore, the Duke of Suffolk, the Bishop of Winchester, and other noblemen were despatched to Richmond, and with which they soon returned. Six years were spent over the affair with Queen Catherine: almost as many days sufficed to dispose of Anne of Cleves.
July 7.On the Wednesday morning the clergy assembled, and Gardiner, in 'a luminous oration,' invited them to the task which they were to undertake. Evidence was sent in by different members of the privy council whom the King had admitted to his confidence; by the ladies of the Court who could speak for the condition of the Queen; and finally, by Henry himself, in a paper which he wrote with his own hand, accompanying it with a request that, after, reviewing all the circumstances under which the marriage had been contracted, they would inform him if it was still binding; and adding at the same time an earnest adjuration, which it is not easy to believe to have been wholly a form, that, having God only before their eyes, they would point out to him the course which justly, honourably, and religiously he was at liberty to pursue.
His personal declaration was as follows:
'I depose and declare that this hereafter written is merely the verity, intended upon no sinister affection, nor yet upon none hatred or displeasure, and herein I take God to witness. To the matter, I say and affirm that, when the first communication was had with me for the marriage of the Lady Anne of Cloves, I was glad to hearken to it, trusting to have some assured friend by it, I much doubting at that time both the Emperor, and France, and the Bishop of Rome, and also because I heard so much both of her excellent beauty and virtuous behaviour. But when I saw her at Rochester, which was the first time that ever I saw her, it rejoiced my heart that I had kept me free from making any pact or bond before with her till I saw her myself; for I assure you that I liked her so ill and [found her to be] so far contrary to that she was praised, that I was woe that ever she came into England, and deliberated with myself that if it were possible to find means to break off, I would never enter yoke with her; of which misliking both the Great Master (Lord Russell), the Admiral that now is, and the Master of the Horse (Sir Anthony Brown) can and will bear record. Then after my repair to Greenwich, the next day after, I think, I doubt not but the Lord of Essex will and can declare what I then said to him in that case, not doubting but, since he is a person which knoweth himself condemned to die by Act of Parliament, he will not damn his soul, but truly declare the truth not only at that time spoken by me, but also continually until the day of the marriage, and also many times after; wherein my lack of consent I doubt not doth or shall well appear, and also lack enough of the will and power to consummate the same, wherein both he and my physicians can testify according to the truth.'
Nearly two hundred clergy were assembled, and the ecclesiastical lawyers were called in to their assistance. The deliberation lasted Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. July 10.On Saturday they had agreed upon their judgment, which was produced and read in the House of Lords.
The contract between the Lady Anne of Cleves and the Marquis of Lorraine was sufficient, they would not say to invalidate, but to perplex and complicate any second marriage into which she might have entered.
Before the ceremony the King had required the production of the papers relating to that engagement with so much earnestness, that the demand might be taken as a condition on which the marriage was completed. But the papers had not been produced, the uncertainties had not been cleared … and thus there had not only been a breach of condition, but, if no condition had been made, the previous objection was further increased.
Consent had been wanting on the part of the King. False representations had been held out to bring the lady into the realm and force her upon his Majesty's acceptance.
The solemnization of the marriage was extorted from his Majesty against his will under urgent pressure and compulsion by external causes.
Consummation had not followed, nor ought to follow, and the Convocation had been informed—as indeed it was matter of common notoriety—that if his Majesty could, without the breach of any divine law, be married to another person, great benefits might thereby accrue to the realm, the present welfare and safety whereof depended on the preservation of his royal person, to the honour of God, the accomplishment of His will, and the avoiding of sinister opinions and scandals.
Considering all these circumstances, therefore, and weighing what the Church might and could lawfully do in such cases, and had often before done, the Convocation, by the tenor of those their present letters, declared his Majesty not to be any longer bound by the matrimony in question, which matrimony was null and invalid; and both his Majesty and the Lady Anne were free to contract and consummate other marriages without objection or delay.
To this judgment two archbishops, seventeen bishops, and a hundred and thirty-nine clergy set their hands. Their sentence was undoubtedly legal, according to a stricter interpretation of the canon law than had been usual in the ecclesiastical courts. The case was of a kind in which the Queen, on her separate suit, could, with clear right, have obtained a divorce a vinculo had she desired; and the country had been accustomed to see separations infinitely more questionable obtained in the court of the Rota or at home, with easy and scandalous levity. Nor could the most scrupulous person, looking at the marriage between Henry and Anne of Cleves on its own merits, pretend that any law, human or divine, would have been better fulfilled, or that any feeling entitled to respect would have been less outraged, by the longer maintenance of so unhappy a connection. Yet it is much to be regretted that the clergy should have been compelled to meddle with it; under however plausible an aspect the divorce might be presented, it gave a colour to the interpretation which represented the separation from Catherine as arising out of caprice, and enabled the enemies of the Church of England to represent her synods as the instruments of the King's licentiousness.
For good or for evil, however, the judgment was given. The Bishop of Winchester spoke a few words in explanation to the two Houses of Parliament when it was presented; and the next day the Duke of Suffolk and Wriothesley waited on the Queen, and communicated the fortune which was impending over her. Anne herself—who, after the slight agitation which the first mooting of the matter naturally produced, had acquiesced in everything which was proposed to her—received the intimation with placidity. She wrote at their request to the King, giving her consent in writing. She wrote also to her brother, declaring herself satisfied, and expressing her hope that he would be satisfied as well. So much facility increased the consideration which her treatment entitled her to claim. The Bishop of Bath had taken with him to the Duke of Cleves an offer, which ought to have been an insult, of a pecuniary compensation for his sister's injury. It was withdrawn or qualified, before it was known to have been refused, to increase the settlement on the ex-queen. For many reasons the King desired that she should remain in England; but she had rank and precedence assigned to her as if she had been a princess of the blood. Estates were granted for her maintenance producing nearly three thousand a year. Palaces, dresses, jewels, costly establishments were added in lavish profusion, to be her dowry, as she was significantly told, should she desire to make a fresh experiment in matrimony. And she not only (it is likely) preferred a splendid independence to the poverty of a petty court in Germany, but perhaps, also, to the doubtful magnificence which she had enjoyed as Henry's bride.
Parliament made haste with the concluding stroke. Monday, July 12.On Monday the 12th the bill for the divorce was introduced: it was disposed of with the greatest haste which the forms of the Houses would allow; and the conclusion of the matter was announced to the Queen's own family and the foreign powers almost as soon as it was known to be contemplated. The Duke of Cleves, on the first audience of the Bishop of Bath, had shown himself 'heavy and hard to pacify and please.' When all was over, the Bishops of Winchester and Durham, with other noble lords, wrote to him themselves, persuading him to acquiesce in a misfortune which could no longer be remedied; his sister had already declared her own satisfaction; and Henry, through his commissioners, informed him in detail of the proceedings in Parliament and Convocation, and trusted that the friendship between the Courts would not be interrupted in consequence. It would have been well had he added nothing to a bare narrative of facts; but questionable actions are rarely improved in the manner of their execution. The King was irritated at the humiliation to which the conduct of the German powers had exposed him in the spring; and the Duke of Cleves had afterwards increased his displeasure by a secret intrigue with the Court of Paris. Satisfied with his settlements upon Anne, he avowed an anxiety to be extricated from his offer of money to the Duke, 'who might percase, to his miscontentment, employ it by the advice of others, or at least without commodity to the giver.' In fact, he said, as he had done nothing but what was right, 'if the lady's contentation would not content her friends, it should not be honourable for him, with detriment and waste of his treasure, to labour to satisfy those who without cause misliked his doings, which were just, and without injury to be passed over.' Finally, he concluded: 'In case the Duke sheweth himself untractable and high-couraged, in such sort as devising interests and respects, he shall further set forth the matter, and increase it with words more largely than reason would he should, alledging, percase, that though the lady is contented, yet he is not contented, her mother is not contented, requiring why and wherefore, and such other behaviour as men in high stomach, forgetting reason, shew and utter, in that case you, the Bishop of Bath, declaring unto the Duke how we sent you not thither to render an account of our just proceedings, but friendly to communicate them, you shall desire the Duke to license you to depart.'
The high style of Henry contrasts unfavourably with the more dignified moderation of the answer. The Duke wrote himself briefly to the King: he replied through his minister to the ambassador, that 'he was sorry for the chance, and would well have wished it had been otherwise; yet, seeing it was thus, he would not depart from his amity for his Majesty for any such matter. He could have wished that his sister should return to Germany; but, if she was satisfied to remain, he had confidence that the King would act uprightly towards her, and he would not press it.' Of the offer of money he took little notice or none. The Bishop laboured to persuade him to pay respect to the judgment of the Church; this, however, the Duke resolutely refused, altogether ignoring it as of no manner of moment; neither would he allow that the Lady Anne had been treated honourably, although the Bishop much pressed for the admission. A cold acquiescence in an affront which he was too weak to resent, and a promise that his private injuries should not cause the dissolution of an alliance which had been useful to the interests of religion, was the most which could be extorted from the Duke of Cleves; and, in calmer moments, Henry could neither have desired nor looked for more. But no one at that crisis was calm in England. The passions roused in the strife of convictions which divided rank from rank, which divided families, which divided every earnest man against himself, extended over all subjects which touched the central question. The impulse of the moment assumed the character of right, and everything was wrong which refused to go along with it.
Sir Edward Karne made the communication to Francis, prefacing his story with the usual prelude of the succession, and the anxiety of the country that the King should have more children. 'Even at that point' Francis started, expecting that something serious was to follow. When Sir Edward went on to say that 'the examination of the King's marriage was submitted to the clergy,' 'What,' he said, 'the matrimony made with the Queen that now is?' Karne assented. 'Then he fetched a great sigh, and spake no more 'till the conclusion, when he answered, 'he could nor would take any other opinion of his Highness but as his loving brother and friend should do;' for the particular matter, 'his Highness's conscience must be judge therein.'
'The Emperor,' wrote the resident Pate, 'when I declared my commission, gave me good air, with one gesture and countenance throughout, saving that suddenly, as I touched the pith of the matter, thereupon he steadfastly cast his eye upon me a pretty while, and then interrupting me, demanded what the causes were of the doubts concerning the marriage with the daughter of Cleves.' Pate was not commissioned to enter into details; and Charles, at the end, contented himself with sending his hearty recommendations, and expressing his confidence that, as the King was wise, so he was sure he would do nothing 'which should not be to the dischargeof his conscience and the tranquillity of his realm.' In confidence, a few days later, he avowed a hope that all would now go well in England; the enormities of the past had been due to the pernicious influence of Cromwell; or were 'beside the King's pleasure or knowledge, being a prince,' the Emperor said, 'no less godly brought up than endued and imbued with so many virtuous qualities as whom all blasts and storms could never alter nor move, but as vice might alter true virtue.' On the whole, the impression left by the affair on the Continent was that Henry 'had lost the hearts of the German princes, but had gained the Emperor instead.' Both the loss and the gain were alike welcome to the English conservatives. The latter, happy in their victory, and now freed from all impediments, had only to follow up their advantage.
On the 12th of July the persecuting bill was passed, and the Tithe Bill also, after having been recast by the Commons. On the 16th the Six Articles Bill was moderated, in favour not of heresy, but of the more venial offence of incontinency. Married clergy and incontinent priests by the Six Articles Bill were, on the first offence, to forfeit their benefices; if they persisted they were to be treated as felons. The King's Highness, graciously considering 'that the punishment of death was very sore, and too much extreme,' was contented to relax the penalty into three gradations. For the first offence the punishment was to be forfeiture of all benefices but one; for the second, forfeiture of the one remaining; for the third, imprisonment for life. A few days later the extension given to the prerogative, by the Act of Proclamations, was again shortened by communicating to the clergy a share of the powers which had been granted absolutely to the Crown; and the Parliament at the same time restored into the hands of the spiritualty the control of religious opinion. The Protestants had shifted their ground from purgatory and masses to free-will and justification; and had thus defied the bishops, and left the law behind them. The King's proclamations had failed through general neglect. A committee of religion was now constituted, composed of the archbishops, bishops, and other learned doctors of divinity; and an Act, which passed three readings in the House of Lords in a single day, conferred on this body a power to declare absolutely, under the King's sanction, the judgment of the English Church on all questions of theology which might be raised, either at home or on the Continent, and to compel submission to their decrees, under such pains and penalties as they might think proper to impose, limited only by the common law and by the restrictions attached to the Act of Proclamations.
One important matter remained. This statute conferred no powers of life and death; and there were certain chosen champions of Protestantism who had resisted authority, had scoffed at recantation, and had insulted the Bishop of Winchester. Although a penal measure could not be extended to comprehend their doctrine by special definition, an omnipotent Parliament might, by a stretch of authority, vindicate the Bishop's dignity, and make a conspicuous example of the offenders. A case of high treason was before the Houses. At the time when the invasion was impending, a party of conspirators, Sir Gregory Botolph, Clement Philpot, and three others, had contrived a project to betray Calais either to the French or the Spaniards. The plot had been revealed by a confederate; and the Anglo-Catholics did not intend to repeat the blunder of showing a leaning towards the Romanists, which had wrecked their fortunes in the preceding summer: they sentenced the offenders to death by an attainder; and after so satifactory a display of loyalty, the friends of the bishops added three more names to the list in the following words:
'And whereas Robert Barnes, late of London, clerk, Thomas Garret, late of London, clerk, and "William Jerome, late of Stepney, in the county of Middlesex, clerk, being detestable and abominable heretics, and having amongst themselves agreed and confederated to set and sow common sedition and variance amongst the King's true and loving subjects within this his realm, not fearing their most bounden duty to God nor yet their allegiance towards his Majesty, have openly preached, taught, set forth, and delivered in divers and sundry places of this realm, a great number of heresies, false, erroneous opinions, doctrines, and sayings; and thinking themselves to be men of learning, have taken upon them most seditiously and heretically to open and declare divers and many texts of Scripture, expounding and applying the same to many perverse and heretical senses, understandings, and purposes, to the intent to induce and lead his Majesty's said subjects to diffidence and refusal of the true sincere faith and belief which Christian men ought to have in Christian religion, the number whereof were too long here to be rehearsed.… Be it, therefore, enacted that the said persons, Robert Barnes, Thomas Garret, and William Jerome, shall be convicted and attainted of heresy, and that they and every of them shall be deemed and adjudged abominable and detestable heretics, and shall have and suffer pains of death by burning or otherwise, as shall please the King's Majesty.'
This was the last measure of consequence in the session. Three days after, it closed. On the 24th the King came down to Westminster in person, to thank the Parliament for the subsidy. The Speaker of the House of Commons congratulated the country on their sovereign. The chancellor replied, in his Majesty's name, that his only study was for the welfare of his subjects; his only ambition was to govern them by the rule of the Divine law, and the Divine love, to the salvation of their souls and bodies. The bills which had been passed were then presented for the royal assent; and the chancellor, after briefly exhorting the members of both Houses to show the same diligence in securing the due execution of these measures as they had displayed in enacting them, declared the Parliament dissolved.
The curtain now rises on the closing Act of the Cromwell tragedy. In the condemned cells in the Tower, the three Catholics for whose sentence he was himself answerable—the three Protestants whom his fall had left exposed to their enemies—were the companions of the broken minister; and there for six weeks he himself, the central figure, whose will had made many women childless, had sat waiting his own unpitied doom. Twice the King had sent to him 'honourable persons,' to receive such explanations as he could offer. He had been patiently and elaborately heard. Twice he had himself written—once, by Henry's desire, an account of the Anne of Cleves marriage—once a letter, which his faithful friend Sir Ralph Sadler carried to Henry for him; and this last the King caused the bearer three times to read over, and 'seemed to be moved therewith.' Yet what had Cromwell to say? That he had done his best in the interest of the commonwealth? But his best was better than the laws of the commonwealth. He had endeavoured faithfully to serve the King; but he had endeavoured also to serve One higher than the King. He had thrown himself in the breach against King and people where they were wrong. He had used the authority with which he had been so largely trusted to thwart the Parliament and suspend statutes of the realm. He might plead his services; but what would his services avail him? An offence in the King's eyes was ever proportioned to the rank, the intellect, the character of the offender. The via media Anglicana, on which Henry had planted his foot, prescribed an even justice; and as Cromwell, in this name of the via media, had struck down without mercy the adherents of the Church of Rome, there was no alternative but to surrender him to the same equitable rule, or to declare to the world and to himself that he no longer held that middle place which he so vehemently claimed. To sustain the Six Articles and to pardon the vicegerent was impossible. If the consent to the attainder cost the King any pang, we do not know; only this we know, that a passionate appeal for mercy, such as was rarely heard in those days of haughty endurance, found no response; July 28.and on the 28th of July the most despotic minister who had ever governed England passed from the Tower to the scaffold.
A speech was printed by authority, and circulated through Europe, which it was thought desirable that he should have been supposed to have uttered before his death. It was accepted as authentic by Hall, and from Hall's pages has been transferred into English history; and 'the Lord Cromwell' is represented to have confessed that he had been seduced into heresy, that he repented, and died in the faith of the holy Catholic Church. Reginald Pole, who, like others, at first accepted the official report as genuine, warned a correspondent, on the authority of persons whose account might be relied upon, that the words which were really spoken were very different, and to Catholic minds were far less satisfactory. The last effort of Cromwell's enemies was to send him out of the world with a lie upon his lips, to call in his dying witness in favour of falsehoods which he gave up his life to overthrow. Clear he was not—as what living man was clear?—of all taint of superstition; but a fairer version of his parting faith will be found in words which those who loved him, and who preserved no record of his address to the people, handed down as his last prayer to the Saviour:—
'O Lord Jesu, which art the only health of all men living, and the everlasting life of them which die in Thee, I, wretched sinner, do submit myself wholly to Thy most blessed will; and, being sure that the thing cannot perish which is submitted to Thy mercy, willingly now I leave this frail and wicked flesh, in sure hope that Thou wilt in better wise restore it to me again at the last day in the resurrection of the just. I beseech Thee, most merciful Lord Jesu Christ, that Thou wilt by Thy grace make strong my soul against all temptation, and defend me with the buckler of Thy mercy against all the assaults of the devil. I see and acknowledge that there is in myself no hope of salvation; but all my confidence, hope, and trust is in Thy most merciful goodness. I have no merits nor good works which I may allege before Thee: of sin and evil works, alas! I see a great heap. But yet, through Thy mercy, I trust to be in the number of them to whom Thou wilt not impute their sins, but wilt take and accept me for righteous and just, and to be the inheritor of everlasting life. Thou, merciful Lord, wast born for my sake; Thou didst suffer both hunger and thirst for my sake; all Thy holy actions and works Thou wroughtest for my sake; Thou sufferedst both grievous pains and torments for my sake; finally, Thou gavest Thy most precious body and blood to be shed on the cross for my sake. Now, most merciful Saviour, let all these things profit me that Thou hast freely done for me, which hast given Thyself also for me. Let Thy blood cleanse and wash away the spots and foulness of my sins. Let Thy righteousness hide and cover my unrighteousness. Let the merits of Thy passion and blood-shedding be satisfaction for my sins. Give me, Lord, Thy grace, that the faith in my salvation in Thy blood waver not, but may ever be firm and constant; that the hope of Thy mercy and life everlasting never decay in me; that love wax not cold in me; finally, that the weakness of my flesh be not overcome with fear of death. Grant me, merciful Saviour, that when death hath shut up the eyes of my body, yet the eyes of my soul may still behold and look upon Thee; and when death hath taken away the use of my tongue, yet my heart may cry and say unto Thee, Lord, into Thy hands I commend my soul. Lord Jesu, receive my spirit. Amen.'
With these words upon his lips perished a statesman whose character will for ever remain a problem. For eight years his influence had been supreme with the King—supreme in Parliament—supreme in Convocation; the nation, in the ferment of revolution, was absolutely controlled by him; and he has left the print of his individual genius stamped indelibly, while the metal was at white heat, into the constitution of the country. Wave after wave has rolled over his work. Romanism flowed back over it under Mary. Puritanism, under another even grander Cromwell, overwhelmed it. But Romanism ebbed again, and Puritanism is dead, and the polity of the Church of England remains as it was left by its creator.
And not in the Church only, but in all departments of the public service, Cromwell was the sovereign guide. In the Foreign Office and the Home Office, in Star Chamber and at council table, in dockyard and law court, Cromwell's intellect presided—Cromwell's hand executed. His gigantic correspondence remains to witness for his varied energy. Whether it was an ambassador or a commissioner of sewers, a warden of a company or a tradesman who was injured by the guild, a bishop or a heretic, a justice of the peace, or a serf crying for emancipation, Cromwell was the universal authority to whom all officials looked for instruction, and all sufferers looked for redress. Hated by all those who had grown old in an earlier system—by the wealthy, whose interests were touched by his reforms—by the superstitious, whose prejudices he wounded—he was the defender of the weak, the defender of the poor, defender of the 'fatherless and forsaken;' and for his work, the long maintenance of it has borne witness that it was good—that he did the thing which England's true interests required to be done.
Of the manner in which that work was done it is less easy to speak. Fierce laws fiercely executed—an unflinching resolution which neither danger could daunt nor saintly virtue move to mercy—a long list of solemn tragedies—weigh upon his memory. He had taken upon himself a task beyond the ordinary strength of man. His difficulties could be overcome only by inflexible persistence in the course which he had marked out for himself and for the State; and he supported his weakness by a determination which imitated the unbending fixity of a law of nature. He pursued an object, the excellence of which, as his mind saw it, transcended all other considerations—the freedom of England and the destruction of idolatry: and those who from any motive, noble or base, pious or impious, crossed his path, he crushed, and passed on over their bodies.
Whether the same end could have been attained by gentler methods is a question which many persons suppose they can answer easily in the affirmative. Some diffidence of judgment, however, ought to be taught by the recollection that the same end was purchased in every other country which had the happiness to attain to it at all, only by years of bloodshed, a single day or week of which caused larger human misery than the whole period of the administration of Cromwell. Be this as it will, his aim was noble. For his actions he paid with his life; and he followed his victims by the same road which they had trodden before him, to the high tribunal, where it may be that great natures who on earth have lived in mortal enmity may learn at last to understand each other.
July 30.Two days after, Barnes, Garret, and Jerome died bravely at the stake, their weakness and want of wisdom all atoned for, and serving their Great Master in their deaths better than they had served Him in their lives. With them perished, not as heretics, but as traitors, the three Romanizing priests. The united executions were designed as an evidence of the even hand of the council. The execution of traitors was not to imply an indulgence of heresy; the punishment of heretics should give no hope to those who were disloyal to their King and country. But scenes of such a kind were not repeated. The effect was to shock, not to edify. The narrow theory could be carried out to both its cruel extremes only where a special purpose was working upon passions specially excited.
- Henry Fitz Roy, Duke of Richmond, died July 22, 1536.
- 'Animadvertens sua clementia quod maxime hoc convenerat parliamentum pro bono totius Regni publico et concordiâ Christianæ religionis stabiliendâ, non tam cito quam propter rei magnitudinem, quæ non solum regnum ipsum Angliæ concernit veruni etiam alia regna et universi Christianismi Ecclesias quantumvis diversarum sententiarum quæ in eam rem oculos et animum habebant intentos, sua Majestas putavit tam propriâ suâ regiâ diligentiâ et studio quam etiam episcoporum et cleri sui sedulitate, rem maturius consultandam, tractandam et deliberandam.'—Speech of the Lord Chancellor at the Prorogation: Lords Journals, vol. i. p. 137.
- Brother of Jane Seymour; afterwards Protector.
- 'I am as glad of the good resolutions of the Duke of Cleves, his mother, and council, as ever I was of anything since the birth of the prince: for I think the King's Highness should not in Christendom marry in no place meet for his Grace's honour that should be less prejudicial to his Majesty's succession.'—Hertford to Cromwell: Ellis, first series, vol. ii. p. 119.
- 'I find the council willing enough to publish and manifest to the world that by any covenants made by the old Duke of Cleves and the Duke of Lorraine, my Lady Anne is not bounden; but ever hath been and yet is at her free liberty to marry wherever she will.'—Wotton to the King: Ellis, first series, vol. ii. p. 121.
- 'The Duke of Cleves hath a daughter, but I hear no great praise, either of her personage nor beauty.'—Hutton to Cromwell: State Papers, vol. viii. p. 5.
- Butler to Bullinger: Original Letters on the Reformation, p. 627.
- Partridge to Bullinger: ibid. p. 614.
- The Elector of Saxony to Henry VIII.: Strype's Memorials, vol. ii. p. 437.
- See a correspondence between Cranmer and a Justice of the Peace: Jenkins's Cranmer, vol. i.
- 'I would to Christ I had obeyed your often most gracious grave councils and advertisements. Then it had not been with me as now it is.'—Cromwell to the King Burnet's Collectanea, p. 510.
- MS. Cotton. Cleopatra, E 4.
- He required, probably, no information that his enemies would spare no means, fair or foul, for his destruction. But their plots and proceedings had been related to him two years before by his friend Allen, the Irish Master of the Rolls, in a report of expressions which had been used by George Paulet, brother of the lord treasurer, and one of the English Commissioners at Dublin. Cromwell, it seems, had considered that estates in Ireland forfeited for treason, or non-residence, would be disposed of better if granted freely to such families as had remained loyal, than if sold for the benefit of the Crown. Speaking of this matter, 'The King,' Paulet said, 'beknaveth Cromwell twice a week, and would sometimes knock him about the pate. He draws every day towards his death, and escaped very hardly at the last insurrection. He is the greatest briber in England, and that is espied well enough. The King has six times as much revenues as ever any of his noble progenitors had, and all is consumed and gone to nought by means of my lord privy seal, who ravens all that he can get. After all the King's charges to recover this land, he is again the only means to cause him to give away his revenues; and it shall be beaten, into the King's head how his treasure has been needlessly wasted and consumed, and his profits and revenues given away by sinister means.' 'Cromwell,' Paulet added, 'has been so handled and taunted by the council in these matters, as he is weary of them; but I will so work my matter, as the King shall be informed of every penny that he hath spent here; and when that great expence is once in his head, it shall never be forgotten there is one good point. And then I will inform him how he hath given away to one man seven hundred marks by the year. And then will the King swear by God's body, have I spent so much money and now have given away my land? There was never king so deceived by man. I will hit him by means of my friends.'—State Papers, vol. ii. p. 551. It is not clear how much is to be believed of Paulet's story so far as relates to the King's treatment of Cromwell. The words were made a subject of an inquiry before Sir Anthony St Leger; and Paulet meant, it seemed, that the 'beknaving and knocking about the pate' took place in private before no witnesses; so that, if true, it could only have been known by the acknowledgments of the King or of Cromwell himself. But the character of the intrigues for Cromwell's destruction is made very plain.
- Foxe's History of Cromwell.
- A paper of ten interrogatories is in the Rolls House, written in Cromwell's hand, addressed to a Mr John More. More's opinion was required on the supremacy, and among the questions asked him were these:—
What communication hath been between you and the Bishop of Winchester touching the primacy of the Bishop of Rome?
What answers the said Bishop made unto you upon such questions as ye did put to him?
Whether ye have heard the said Bishop at any time in any evil opinion contrary to the statutes of the realm, concerning the primacy of the Bishop of Rome or any other foreign potentate?—Rolls House MS. A 2, 30, fol. 67.
In another collection I found a paper of Mr More's answers; but it would seem (unless the MS. is imperfect) that he replied only to the questions which affected himself. The following passage, however, is curious:—'The cause why I demanded the questions (on the primacy) of my Lord of Winchester was for that I heard it, as I am now well remembered, much spoken of in the Parliament House, and taken among many there to be a doubt as ye, Mr Secretary, well know. And for so much as I esteemed my lord's wisdom and learning to be such, that I thought I would not be better answered, because I heard you, Mr Secretary, say he was much affectionate to the Papacy.'—Rolls House MS. first series, 863.
- 'The Bishop of Winchester was put out of the privy council, because my lord privy seal took displeasure with him because he should say it was not meet that Dr Barnes, being a man defamed of heresy, should be sent ambassador. Touching the Bishop of Chichester there was not heard any cause why he was put forth from the privy council.'—Depositions of Christopher Chator: Rolls House MS. first series.
- 'Then said Craye to me, There was murmuring and saying by the progress of time that my lord privy seal should be out of favour with his prince. Marry, said I, I heard of such a thing. I heard at Woodstock of one Sir Launcelot Thornton, a chaplain of the Bishop of Durham, who shewed me that the Earl of Hampton, Sir William Kingston, and Sir Anthony Brown were all joined together, and would have had my Lord of Durham to have had rule and chief saying under the King's Highness. Then said Craye to me, It was evil doing of my lord your master that would not take it upon hand, for he might have amended many things that were amiss; for, if the Bishop of Winchester might have had the saying, he would have taken it upon hand. Well, said I, my lord my master is too good a lawyer, knowing by his book the inconstancy of princes, where there is a text that saith: Lubricus est primus locus apud Reges.'—MS. ibid.
- 'There was an honest man in London called Dr Watts, which preacheth much against heresy; and this Dr Watts was called before my Lord of Canterbury, and Dr Barnes should be either his judge or his accuser.'—Rolls House MS. first series.
- 'There was an alderman in Gracechurch-street that came to my Lord of Canterbury, and one with him, and said to my Lord of Canterbury: Please your Grace that we are informed that your Grace hath our master Watts by hold. And if it be for treason we will not speak for him, but if it be for heresy or debt we will be bound for him in a thousand pound; for there was fen thousand of London coming fo your lordship to be bound for him, but that we stayed them.'—MS. ibid.
- Butler to Bullinger: Original Letters on the Reformation, p. 627.
- 'As to the matter concerning the Duchess of Milan, when his Highness had heard it, he paused a good while, and at the last said, smiling, 'Have they remembered themselves now?' To the which I said, 'Sir, we that be your servants are much bound to God, they to woo you whom ye have wooed so long.' He answered coldly: 'They that would not when they might, percase shall not when they would.''—Southampton to Cromwell, Sept. 17, 1539: State Papers, vol. i.
- 'There should be three causes why the Emperor should come into these parts—the one for the mutiny of certain cities which were dread in time to allure and stir all or the more part of the other cities to the like; the second, for the alliance which the King's Majesty hath made with the house of Cleves, which he greatly stomacheth; the third, for the confederacy, as they here call it, between his Majesty and the Almayns. The fear which the Emperor hath of these three things hath driven him to covet much the French King's amity.'—Stephen Vaughan to Cromwell: State Papers, vol. viii. p. 203.
- 'The King will now complete the long-desired league with the princes of Germany; he will first gain the Duke of Saxe, who has married another sister of the same house; the Duke of Saxe will bring with him the confederation; and the King will find them the means of providing so large an army that no one will venture to meddle with them.
'As to religion, his Highness thinks that, with the joint influence of himself and the Duke of Cleves, he can soften down the asperities which are now distracting Germany, and find some honourable middle course by which the troubles there may be composed.
'Further, his Highness having but one son, desires to marry for the sake of children, and he considers that he can do no better than take this lady, who is of convenient age, sound health, and fair stature, with many other graces which his Majesty says that she possesses. He has failed to find a wife for himself in France or Spain; and next to your alliance, Sire, or the Emperor's, he considers a connection with the house of Cleves the best that he can make, especially at this moment, when so many novelties menace the principles of religion, and the German princes show themselves so prompt to defend the doctrines which they were the first to introduce.'—Marillac to Francis I. Oct. 25, 1539: MS. Bibliot. Impér. Paris.
- 'There is great suspicion and jealousy to be taken to see these two great princes so familiar together, and to go conjointly in secret practices, in which the Bishop of Rome seemeth to be intelligent, who hath lately sent his nephew, Cardinal Farnese, to be present at the parliament of the said princes in France. The contrary part cannot brook the King's Majesty and the Almains to be united together, which is no small fear and terror as well to Imperials as the Papisticals, and no marvel if they fury, fearing thereby some great ruin.'—Harvel to Cromwell from Venice, December 9.
- Epist. Reginaldi Poli, vol. v. p. 150. In this paper, Pole says that the Duke of Norfolk stated to the King in a despatch from Doncaster, when a battle seemed imminent, 'that his troops could not be trusted; their bodies were with the King, but their minds with the rebels.' His information was, perhaps, derived from his brother Geoffrey, who avowed an intention of deserting.
- 'The said Helyard said to me that the Emperor was come into France, and should marry the King's daughter; and the Duke of Orleans should marry the Duchess of Milan, and all this was by the Bishop of Rome's means; and they were all confedered together, and as for the Scottish King, he was always the French King's man, and we shall all be undone, for we have no help now but the Duke of Cleves, and they are so poor they cannot help us.'—Depositions of Christopher Chator: Rolls House MS. first series.
- Sir Thos. Wyatt to Henry VIII.: State Papers, vol. viii. p. 219, &c.
- Southampton's expressions were unfortunately warm. Mentioning a conversation with the German ambassadors, in which he had spoken of his anxiety for the King's marriage, 'so as if God failed us in my Lord Prince, we might have another sprung of like descent and line to reign over us in peace,' he went on to speak to them of the other ladies whom the King might have had if he had desired; 'but hearing,' he said, 'great report of the notable virtues of my lady now with her excellent beauty, such as I well perceive to be no less than was reported, in very deed my mind gave me to lean that way.' These words, which might have passed as unmeaning compliment, had they been spoken merely to the lady's countrymen, he repeated in his letters to the King, who, of course, construed them by his hopes.
- Deposition of Sir Anthony Brown: Strype's Memorials, vol. ii. p. 252, &c.
- Those who insist that Henry was a licentious person, must explain how it was that, neither in the three years which had elapsed since the death of Jane Seymour, nor during the more trying period which followed, do we hear a word of mistresses, intrigues, or questionable or criminal connections of any kind. The mistresses of princes are usually visible when they exist; the mistresses, for instance, of Francis I., of Charles V., of James of Scotland. There is a difficulty in this which should be admitted, if it cannot be explained.
- Deposition of Sir Anthony Denny: Strype's Memorials, vol. ii.
- Cromwell to the King: Burnet's Collectanea, p. 109.
- Deposition of the Earl of Southampton: Strype's Memorials, vol. ii.
- Questions to be asked of the Lord Cromwell: MS. Cotton. Titus, B 1, 418.
- Compare Cromwell's Letter to the King from the Tower, Burnett's Collectanea, p. 109, with Questions to be asked of the Lord Cromwell: MS. Cotton. Titus, B 1, 418. Wyatt's report of his interview and the Emperor's language could not have arrived till the week after. But the fact of Charles's arrival with Brancetor in his train, was already known and was sufficiently alarming.
- Cromwell to the King: Burnet's Collectanea. The morning after his marriage, and on subsequent occasions, the King made certain depositions to his physicians and to members of the council, which I invite no one to study except under distinct historical obligations. The facts are of great importance. But discomfort made Henry unjust; and when violently irritated he was not careful of his expressions.—See Documents relating to the Marriage with Anne of Cleves: Strype's Memorials, vol. ii.
- The discharge of heretics from prison by an undue interference formed one of the most violent accusations against Cromwell. Hewas, perhaps, held responsible for the general pardon in the summer of 1539. The following letter, however, shows something of his own immediate conduct, and of the confidence with which the Protestants looked to him.
'God save the King.
'Thanks immortal from the Father of Heaven unto your most prudent and honourable lordship, for your mercy, and pity, and great charity that your honourable lordship has had on your poor and true orator Henry King, that almost was in prison a whole year, rather of pure malice and false suspicion than of any just offence committed by your said orator, to be so long in prison without any mercy, pity, or succour of meat and drink, and all your said orator's goods taken from him. Moreover, whereas your said orator did of late receive a letter from your most honourable lordship by the hands of the Bishop of Worcester, that your said orator should receive again such goods as was wrongfully taken from your said orator of Mr George Blunt (the committing magistrate apparently); thereon your said orator went unto the said George Blunt with your most gentle letter, to ask such poor goods as the said George Blunt did detain from your poor orator; and so with great pain and much entreating your said orator, within the space of three weeks, got some part of his goods, but the other part he cannot get. Therefore, except now your most honourable lordship, for Jesus sake, do tender and consider with the eye of pity and mercy the long imprisonment, the extreme poverty of your said orator, your said orator is clean undone in this world. For where your said orator had money, and was full determined to send for his capacity, all is spent in prison, and more. Therefore, in fond humility your said orator meekly, with all obedience, puts himself wholly into the hands of your honourable lordship, desiring you to help your orator to some succour and living now in his extreme necessity and need; the which is not only put out of his house, but also all his goods almost spent in prison, so that now the weary life of your said orator stands only in your discretion. Therefore, exaudi preces servi tui, and Almighty God increase your most honourable lordship in virtue and favour as he did merciful Joseph to his high honour. Amen. Your unfeigned and true orator ut supra. Beatus qui intelligit super egenum et pauperem. In die malâ liberabit eum Dominus.'—MS. State Paper Office, vol. ix. first series.
- Traheron to Bullinger: Original Letters, p. 316; Hall, p. 837.
- Foxe, vol. v. p. 431.
- Hall, p. 837.
- 'The Bishop was ably answered oy Dr Barries on the following Lord's-day, with the most gratifying and all but universal applause.' Traheron to Bullinger: Original Letters, p. 317.
- Wyatt to Henry VIII.: State Papers, vol. viii. p. 240, &c.
- Henry VIII. to the Duke of Norfolk: State Papers, vol. viii. p. 245, &c. Henry held out a further inducement. 'If the Duke shall see the French King persevere in his good mind and affection towards the King's Highness, he shall yet further of himself say that his opinion is, and in his mind he thinketh undoubtedly that in such a case as that a new strait amity might now be made between the French King and the King his master, his Majesty would be content to remit unto him the one half of his debt to his Highness, the sum whereof is very great; and also the one half of the pensions for term of the said French King's life, so as it may please him to declare what honourable reciproque he would be content to offer again to his Majesty.'—State Papers, vol. viii p 251.
- State Papers, vol. viii. p. 318. The Queen of Navarre, who was constant to the English interests, communicated to the secretary of Sir John Wallop (the resident minister at Paris), an account of a conversation between herself and the Papal nuntio.
Ferrara had prayed her 'to help and put her good hand and word that the French King might join the Emperor and his master for the wars against the Almayns and the King of England, which King was but a man lost and cast away.'
'Why, M. l'Ambassadeur,' the Queen answered, 'what mean you by that? how and after what sort do you take the King of England?' 'Marry,' quoth he, 'for a heretic and a Lutheryan. Moreover, he doth make himself head of the Church.' 'Do you say so?' quoth she. 'Now I would to God 'that your master, the Emperor, and we here, did live after so good and godly a sort as he and his doth.' The nuntio answered, 'the King had pulled down the abbeys,' 'trusting by the help of God it should be reformed or it were long.' She told him that were easier to say than to do. England had had time to prepare, and to transport an army across the Channel was a difficult affair. Ferrara said, 'It could be landed in Scotland.' 'The King of Scotland,' she replied, 'would not stir without permission from France;' and then (if her account was true) she poured out a panegyric upon the Reformation in England, and spoke out plainly on the necessity of the same thing in the Church of Rome.—State Papers, vol. viii. p. 289, &c.
- Hall, p. 839. The case broke down, and Sampson was afterwards restored to favour; but his escape was narrow. Sir Ralph Sadler, writing to Cromwell, said, 'I declared to the King's Majesty how the Bishop of Chichester was committed to ward to the Tower, and what answer he made to such things as were laid to his charge, which in effect was a plain denial of the chief points that touched him. His Majesty said little thereto, but that he liked him and the matter much the worse because he denied it, seeing his Majesty perceived by the examinations there were witnesses enough to condemn him in that point.'—State Papers, vol: i. p. 627.
Marillac saw that a crisis was coming, and that either Cromwell or the Bishop would fall. On the 1st of June he wrote to Francis: 'The Bishop of Chichester and the Dean of the Chapel Royal, whom your Majesty may remember as ambassador at your Court, have been arrested on a charge of high treason; and with them one of the King's chaplains, a man of reputation for learning. This last is said to have been in correspondence with Rome in the times of the late marquis. The rest of the bishops are in terror. They are afraid that they also may be made out guilty; and their fate will be certain. The religious strife has become so bitter that each party will destroy their antagonists if they can. There will be prisoners enough between them by and by; and when Parliament will now end, it is impossible to say.'
- The Bishop of Chichester to Cromwell: Strype's Memorials, vol. ii. p. 381.
- Another instance of Tunstall's underhand dealing had come to light. When he accepted the oath of supremacy, and agreed to the divorce of Queen Catherine, he entered a private protest in the Register Book of Durham, which was afterwards cut out by his chancellor. Christopher Chator, whose curious depositions I have more than once quoted, mentions this piece of evasion, and adds a further feature of some interest. Relating a conversation which he had held with a man called Crave, Chator says, 'We had in communication the Bishop of Rochester and Sir Thomas More attainted of treason. Craye said to me he marvelled that they were put to death for such small trespasses; to whom I answered that their foolish conscience was so to die. Then I shewed him of one Burton, my Lord of Durham's servant, that told me he came to London when the Bishop of Rochester and Thomas More were endangered, and the said More asked Burton, 'Will not thy master come to us and be as we are?' and he said he could not tell. Then said More, 'If he do, no force, for if he live he may do more good than to die with us.''—Rolls House MS. first series.
- Lords Journals, 32 Henry VIII.
- 32 Henry VIII. cap. 2.
- 32 Henry VIII. cap. 3. 'Many goes oft begging,' 'and it causeth much robbing.'—Deposition of Christopher Chator. Here is a special picture of one of these vagabonds. Gregory Cromwell, writing to his father from Lewes, says, 'The day of making hereof came before us a fellow called John Dancy, being apparelled in a frieze coat, a pair of black hose, with fustian slops, having also a sword, a buckler, and a dagger; being a man of such port, fashion, and behaviour that we at first took him only for a vagabond, until such time as he, being examined, confessed himself to have been heretofore a priest, and sometime a monk of this monastery.'—MS. State Paper Office, second series, vol. vii.
- 32 Henry VIII. cap. 12.
- Lords Journals, 31 Henry VIII.
- It was so difficult to calculate at the time the amount likely to be raised by this method of taxation, or the degree in which it would press, that it is impossible at present even to guess reasonably on either of these points. In 1545, two fifteenths and tenths which were granted by Parliament are described as extending to 'a right small sum of money,' and a five per cent. income tax was in consequence added.—37 Henry VIII. cap. 25. Aliens and clergy generally paid double, and on the present occasion the latter granted four shillings in the pound on their incomes to be paid in two years, or a direct annual tax of ten per cent.—32 Henry VIII. cap. 23. But all estimates based on conjecture ought to be avoided.
- 32 Henry VIII. cap. 50.
- 32 Henry VIII. cap. 57. Unprinted Rolls House MS.
- 'Hodie lecta est Billa attincturæ Ricardi Fetherstone, etc.; et communi omnium Procerum assensu nemine discrepante expedita.'—Lords Journals, 32 Henry VIII.
- The religious condition of the country is well described by Marillac in a letter, written on the 1st of June, to Montmorency:—
'My Lord,—A few days since the Dean of the Chapel Royal and the Bishop of Chichester were conducting the service in state at Westminster Abbey, when they were arrested, and sent to the Tower for treason, and before night their goods were seized and confiscated.
'Lord Cromwell, I hear from a credible quarter, says that other bishops are about to follow. I did not learn their names, but we may presume them to be those who lately shook Cromwell's credit, and brought him nearly to his ruin. However that be, things are now at a pass when either Cromwell's party or the Bishop of Winchester's party must fall; and although they are both high in favour and authority with the King their master, fortune will most probably turn in favour of Cromwell. The Dean of the Chapel, the Bishop of Winchester's best friend, is struck down; the Archbishop of Canterbury, his greatest adversary, has been deputed to preach in the Bishop's place at St Paul's, and has begun to argue against his doctrines in the same pulpit where the Bishop preached in Lent. Doctor Barnes, who was lately imprisoned, is likely to be soon released at the intercession of the Germans; and another doctor, named Latimer, who last year surrendered his See rather than subscribe to the Six Articles, is recalled, and will shortly be replaced upon the bench.
'So great is the inconstancy here, and so lightly opinion changes.
'The state of religion continues most unfortunate. The bishops are divided, and hate one another. The people know not what to believe; for those who are inclined to the reformed views are called heretics; those who adhere to the old faith are charged with Papistry and treason. They ought to dissolve Parliament, and find some middle way for the country to follow. But as far as I can see, it will be as with the Diets in Germany, and the confusion, instead of being pacified, will grow worse and worse.'
- The Ladies Rutland, Rochford, and Edgecombe, all being together with the Queen, 'they wished her Grace with child, and she answered and said she knew well she was not with child. My Lady Edgecombe said, 'How is it possible for your Grace to know that?' 'I know it well I am not,' said she. Then said my Lady Edgecombe, 'I think your Grace is a maid still.' With that she laughed; 'How can I be a maid,' said she, 'and sleep every night with the King? When he comes to bed he kisses me, and takes me by the hand, and bids me 'Good night, sweetheart;' and in the morning kisses me, and bids me 'Farewell, darling.' Is not this enough?' Then said my Lady Rutland, 'Madame, there must be more than this, or it will be long or we have a Duke of York, which all this realm most desireth.' 'Nay,' said the Queen, 'I am contented I know no more.''—Deposition on the Marriage of the Lady Anne of Cleves: Strype's Memorials, vol. ii. p. 462.
- Strype's Memorials, vol. i. p. 556.
- Cromwell to the King: Burnet's Collectanea, p. 109.
- The Letter sent to Cromwell is printed in State Papers, vol. i. p. 628.
- Strype's Memorials, vol. ii. p. 459.
- MSS. State Paper Office, second series, 52 volumes.
- Lady Burgh's letter to him will show the character of interference which he was called upon to exercise: 'My very good lord, most humbly I beseech your goodness to me your poor bounden bedewoman, considering the great trouble I am put unto by my Lord Burgh, who always hath lien in wait to put me to shame and trouble, which he shall never do, God willing, you being my good and gracious Lord, as I have found you merciful to me ever hitherto; and so I most humbly beseech you of your good continuance, desiring now your good lordship to remember me, for I am comfortless, and as yet not out of the danger of death through the great travail that I had. For I am as yet as a prisoner comfortless, only trusting to your lordship's goodness and to the King's Grace's most honourable council. For I hear say my Lord Burgh hath complained on me to your Lordship and to all the noble council; and has enformed your lordship and them all that the child that I have borne and so dearly bought is none of his son's my husband. As for me, my very good lord, I do protest afore God, and also shall receive him to my eternal damnation, if ever I designed for him with any creature living, but only with my husband; therefore now I most lamentably and humbly desire your lordship of your goodness to stay my Lord Burgh that he do not fulfil his diabolical mind to disinherit my husband's child.
'And thus am I ordered by my Lord Burgh and my husband (who dare do nothing but as his father will have him do), so that I have nothing left to help me now in my great sickness, but am fain to lay all that I have to gage, so that I have nothing left to help myself withal, and might have perished ere this time for lack of succour, but through the goodness of the gentleman and his wife which I am in house withal. Therefore I most humbly desire your lordship to have pity on me, and that through your only goodness ye will cause my husband to use me like his wife, and no otherwise than I have deserved; and to send me money, and to pay such debts as I do owe by reason of my long being sick, and I shall pray for your lordship daily to increase in honour to your noble heart's desire. Scribbled with the hand of your bounden bedewoman, Elizabeth Burgh.'—MS. State Paper Office, first series, vol. xiii.
I should have been glad to have added a more remarkable letter from Lady Hungerford, who was locked up by her husband in a country house for four years, and 'would have died for lack of sustenance,' 'had not,' she wrote, 'the poor women of the country brought me, to my great window in the night, such poor meat and drink as they had, and gave me for the love of God.' But the letter contains other details not desirable to publish.—MS. Cotton. Titus, B 1, 397.
- State Papers, vol. viii. p. 349.
- A remarkable account of Cromwell's arrest is given by Marillac:—
'The arrest took place in the council chamber at the Palace at Westminster. The Lieutenant of the Tower entered with the King's commands to take him prisoner. In a burst of passion he clutched his cap and flung it on the ground. 'This, then,' he said to the Duke of Norfolk and the rest of the council assembled there, 'this, then, is my guerdon for the service that I have done. On your consciences, I ask you, am I a traitor? I may have offended, but never with my will. Such faults as I have committed deserve grace and pardon; but if the King my master believes so ill of me, let him make quick work and not leave me to languish in prison.'
'Part of the council exclaimed that he was a traitor; part said he should be judged by the bloody laws which he had himself made; words idly spoken he had twisted into treason; the measure which he had dealt to others should now be meted out to him.
'The Duke of Norfolk, after reproaching him with his many villanies, tore the George from his neck. The admiral (Fitzwilliam, Earl of Southampton), to show that he was as much his enemy in adversity as in prosperity he had pretended to be his friend, stripped off the Garter. He was then led down into a barge by a gate which opened on the river, and was conducted to the Tower. The people in the City knew nothing of his arrest until they saw Mr Cheyne and two archers of the guards at his house door.'—Marillac to the Constable, June 23, 1540: MS. Bibliot. Impér. Paris.
- 'His Majesty remembering how men wanting the knowledge of the truth would else speak diversely of it, considering the credit he hath had about his Highness, which might also cause the wisest sort to judge amiss thereof if that his ingratitude and treason should not be fully opened unto them.'—Ibid. The opening sentences of the letter (it was evidently a circular) also deserve notice: 'These shall be to advertise you that when the King's Majesty hath of long season travailed, and yet most godly travaileth to establish such an order in matters of religion as neither declining on the right hand or on the left hand, God's glory might be advanced, the temerity of such as would either obscure or refuse the truth of his Word refrained, stayed, and in cases of obstinacy duly corrected and punished: so it is that the Lord Privy Seal, to whom the King's Majesty hath been so special good and gracious a lord, hath, only out of his sensual appetite, wrought clean contrary to his Grace's intent, secretly and indirectly advancing the one of the extremes, and leaving the mean, indifferent, true, and virtuous way which his Majesty so entirely desired, but also hath shewed himself so fervently bent to the maintenance of that his outrage, that he hath not spared most privily, most traitorously to devise how to continue the same, and in plain terms to say,' &c. Then follows the words in the text.—Ibid.
- Hall, p. 838.
- 'He is committed to the Tower of London, there to remain till it shall please his Majesty to have him tried according to the order of his laws.'—State Papers, vol. viii. p. 350. Henry sent for Marillac, and himself explained the cause of the catastrophe:—
'Sire, as I was about to close my letter, there came a gentleman of the Court to me with a message from the King. His Highness desires me not to be alarmed by the arrest of Lord Cromwell; and because the common people talk wildly and ignorantly, and that I may have something better than conjecture to send to your Majesty, he wishes me to learn the exact truth from himself.
'The substance of his explanation is this. The King has endeavoured, by all the means in his power, to compose the religious differences in this realm. Cromwell has lent himself to the Lutherans, and has abused his authority to show favour to the teachers of false opinions, and to oppress and hinder their opponents.
'Being admonished of late by some of his servants that he was acting contrary to his master's wishes and to the statutes of the realm, he betrayed himself, and revealed his secret intentions. He said that he hoped to put down altogether the old preachers, and leave none but the new; that in brief time he would bring things to such a pass, that the King, with all his power, should not be able to hinder him; and that his party would be so strong, that whether the King would or no, the King should accept the new doctrines, if he had himself to take arms and fight for them. The victory in the struggle would be with him, and thus he would establish at last the views for which he had long contended.
'The persons to whom Cromwell said these words revealed them to the King, more regarding their duties than the favour of their own master.
'His Majesty says also that the first time he is in conversation with me he will tell me other things which will prove how deep Lord Cromwell's fault has been.'
- Act of Attainder of Thomas Lord Crcmwcll, 32 Henry VIII. The Act is not printed in the Statute Book, but it is in very good condition on the Parliament roll. Burnet has placed it among his Collectanea.
- Burnet's Collectanea, p. 500.
- 'Most Gracious Lord, I never spoke with the chancellor of the augmentation and Throgmorton together at one time. But if I did, I am sure I never spake of any such matter, and your Grace knows what manner of man Throgmorton has ever been towards your Grace's proceedings.'—Burnet's Collectanea, p. 500.
- 'The King is so exasperated that he will not hear him speak, and is only anxious to put away the very memory of him as of the vilest wretch that ever was born in the realm. The public criers have gone through the City, proclaiming that he is not to be called Lord Privy Seal or by any other title of honour, but solely Master Thomas Cromwell. His privileges and prerogatives of nobility are taken from him. The less valuable of his effects are distributed among his servants, who are forbidden to wear their master's livery, and it is thought he will not be admitted to trial as a peer of the realm,[*] or be executed with a peer's privilege by the axe. He will be hanged like any common villain.'—Marillac to the Constable, June 23, 1540. MS. Bibliot. Impér. Paris.
- Cranmer to the King: a Fragment printed by Lord Herbert.
- 'The said Privy Seal's intent was to have married my Lady Mary, and the French King and the Cardinal du Ballay had much debated the same matter, reckoning at length by the great favour your Majesty did bear to him he should be made some earl or duke, and therefore presumed your Majesty would give to him in marriage the said Lady Mary your daughter, as beforetime you had done the French Queen unto my Lord of Suffolk. These things they gathered of such hints as they had heard of the Privy Seal, before knowing him to be fine witted, in so much as at all times when any marriage was treated of for my said Lady Mary, he did always his best to break the same.'—State Papers, vol viii. p. 379, and see p. 362.
- State Papers, vol. viii. p. 362.
- Pate to the Duke of Norfolk: ibid. p. 355.
- Richard Pate, a priest of high Anglican views, and now minister at the Imperial Court, supplied the Emperor's silence by his own enthusiasm. He wrote to Henry an ecstatic letter on the 'fall of that wicked man who, by his false doctrines and like disciples, so disturbed his Grace's subjects, that the age was in manner brought to desperation, perceiving a new tradition taught.' 'What blindness,' he exclaimed, 'what ingratitude is this of this traitor's, far passing Lucifer's, that, endeavouring to pluck the sword out of his sovereign's hand, hath deserved to feel the power of the same! But lauded be our Lord God that hath delivered your Grace out of the bear's claws, as not long before of a semblable danger of the lioness!'—Pate to Henry VIII.: State Papers, vol. viii. p. 364.
- 32 Henry VIII. cap. 7; Lords Journals, 32 Henry VIII. Session June 22.
- 32 Henry VIII. cap. 15; Lords Journals, 32 Henry VIII. July 1.
- Communi omnium procerum consensu nomine discrepante.
- 'Excepted alway all and all manner of heresies and erroneous opinions touching or concerning, plainly, directly, and only, the most holy and blessed sacrament of the altar; and these heresies and erroneous opinions hereafter ensuing: that infants ought not to be baptized, and if they be baptized, they ought to be rebaptized when they come to lawful age; that it is not lawful for a Christian man to bear office or rule in the commonwealth; that no man's laws ought to be obeyed; that it is not lawful for a Christian man to take an oath before any judge; that Christ took no bodily substance of our blessed Lady; that sinners, after baptism, cannot be restored by repentance; that every manner of death, with the time and hour thereof, is so certainly prescribed, appointed, and determined to every man of God, that neither any prince by his sword can alter it, nor any man by his own wilfulness prevent or change it; that all things be common and nothing several.'—32 Henry VIII. cap. 49.
- Lords Journals, 32 Henry VIII. July 6.
- 'Upon Tuesday, the sixth of this month, our nobles and commons made suit and request unto us to commit the examination of the justness of our matrimony to the clergy; upon which request made we sent incontinently our councillors the Lord Chancellor, the Duke of Suffolk, the Bishop of Winchester, &c., advertising the Queen what request was made, and in what sort, and thereupon to know what answer she would make unto the same. Whereunto after divers conferences at good length, and the matter by her thoroughly perceived and considered, she answered plainly and frankly that she was contented that the discussion of the matter should be committed to the clergy as unto judges competent in that behalf.'—State Papers, vol. viii. p. 404; and see Anne of Cleves to the King; ibid. vol. i. p. 637.
- Luculentâ Oratione: Strype's Memorials, vol. i. p. 553.
- 'Inspecta hujus negotii veritate ac solum Deum præ oculis habentes, quod verum, quod honestum, quod sanctum est, id nobis, de communi concilio scripto authentico renuncietis et de communi consensu licere diffiniatis. Nempe hoc unum a vobis nostro jure postulamus ut tanquam fida et proba ecclesiæ membra causæ huic ecclesiasticæ quæ maxima est in justitiâ et veritate adesse velitis.'—State Papers, vol. i. p. 630.
- MS. Cotton. Otho, x. 240.
- State Papers, vol. viii. p. 404
- 'Tum vero quid ecclesia in ejusmodi casibus et possit facere et sæpenumero antehac fecerit perpendentes.'—Judgment of the Convocation: State Papers, vol. i. p. 632.
- Ibid. p. 633.
- 'Heretofore divers and many persons, after long continuance together in matrimony, and fruit of children having ensued of the same, have nevertheless, by an unjust law of the Bishop of Rome (which is upon pretence of a former contract made and not consummate by carnal copulation, for proof whereof two witnesses by that law were only required), been divorced and separate contrary to God's law, and so the true matrimonies solemnized in the face of the Church and confirmed by fruit of children, have been clearly frustrate and dissolved. Further, also, by reason of other prohibitions than God's law admitteth, for their lucre by that court invented, the dispensation whereof they always reserved to themselves, as in kindred or affinity between cousin germains, and so to the fourth and fifth degree, and all because they would get money by it, and keep a reputation to their usurped jurisdiction, not only much discord between lawful married persons hath, contrary to God's ordinances, arisen, much debate and suit at the law, with the wrongful vexation and great danger of the innocent party hath been procured, and many just marriages brought in doubt and danger of undoing, and also many times undone: marriages have been brought into such uncertainty, that no marriage could be so surely knit and bounden but it should lie in either of the parties' power and arbitre, casting away the fear of God, by means and compasses to prove a precontract, a kindred, an alliance, or a carnal knowledge, to defeat the same, and so, under the pretence of these allegations afore rehearsed, to live all the days of their lives in detestable adultery, to the utter destruction of their own souls and the provocation of the terrible wrath of God upon the places where such abominations were suffered and used.'—32 Henry VIII. cap. 38.
- The Protestant refugees became at once as passionate, as clamorous, and as careless in their statements as the Catholics.—See especially a letter of Richard Hilles to Bullinger (Original Letters, 196): to which Burnet has given a kind of sanction by a quotation. This letter contains about as trustworthy an account of the state of London as a letter of a French or Austrian exile in England or America would contain at present of the Courts of Paris or Vienna.
- Lords Journals, 32 Henry VIII.
- See State Papers, vol. i. p. 637, and vol. viii. p. 403, &c.
Her relations with the King remained on so friendly a footing that people supposed she might be taken again into favour. On the 6th of August Marillac wrote:
'The King is ten miles off at Hampton Court, thinly attended, and has been lately at Richmond to visit the Queen that was. He is on the best possible terms with her, and they supped so pleasantly together that some thought she was to be restored to her place. Others say, however, that the King merely wanted to tell her what had been done, and required her signature to the deed of separation; and this is most likely the true account of the thing, for three of the privy council were brought in, who are not in general admitted to such terms of familiarity. It would argue too great inconstancy, it would reflect too much on the King's honour, to put her away on a plea of conscience and take her back so easily. If she might justly be his wife, why did he put her away so precipitately? If there were lawful impediments to the marriage, by what right could he take her back? Moreover, she was not treated with as much distinction as when Queen. She had then a seat at his side. On this occasion she sat at a little distance at a table joining the corner of the table where the King sat.'
- State Papers, vol. viii. p. 407.
- Ibid. p. 408.
- State Papers, vol. viii. p. 410.
- The Bishop, nevertheless, was not satisfied that it would be refused, if it could be had. He thought, evidently, that Henry would act prudently by being liberal in the matter. Speaking of the miscontentment which had been shown, he added: 'For any overture that yet hath been opened you may do your pleasure. How be it, in case of their suit unto your Majesty, if the Duke shall be content by his express consent to approve your proceeding, specially the said decree of your clergy, whereby all things may be here ended and brought to silence, and the lady there remaining still, this Duke, without kindling any further fire, made your Majesty's assured friend with a demonstration thereof to the world, and that with so small a sum of money to be given unto him (sub colore restitutionis pecuniæ pro oneribus et dote licet vere nulla interesset), or under some other good colour.… God forbid your Majesty should much stick thereat.'—Bishop of Bath to Henry VIII.: State Papers, vol. viii. p. 425.
- State Papers, vol. viii. p. 392.
- Ibid. p. 386.
- Ibid. p. 397.
- Pate to the Duke of Suffolk: State Papers, vol. viii. p. 412.
- No draft of the bill exists in its original form. As it passed it conferred on lay impropriators the same power of recovering tithes as was given to the clergy. The members of the Lower House had been, many of them, purchasers of abbey lands, and impropriated tithes formed a valuable item of the property. It is likely that the bishops overlooked, and that the commons remembered this important condition.—Lords Journals, 32 Henry VIII. Session of July 12.
- 32 Henry VIII. cap. 10.
- 32 Henry VIII. cap. 26.
- Philpot's confession is preserved. He describes how Sir Gregory Botolph, returning to Calais from a journey to Rome, took him one night upon the walls, and after swearing him to secrecy, showed himself a worthy pupil of Reginald Pole.
'If England have not a scourge in time,' Botolph said, 'they will be all infidels, and no doubt God to friend, there shall be a redress; and know ye for a truth what my enterprise is, with the aid of God and such ways as I shall devise. I shall get the town of Calais into the hands of the Pope and Cardinal Pole, who is as good a Catholic man as ever I reasoned with; and when I had declared everything of my mind unto them, no more but we three together in the Pope's chamber, I had not a little cheer of the Pope and Cardinal Pole; and after this at all times I might enter the Pope's chamber at my pleasure.'
Philpot asked him how he intended to proceed, Calais being so strong a place. 'It shall be easy to be done,' Botolph said. 'In the herring time they do use to watch in the lantern gate, whereat there be in the watch about a dozen persons, and against the time which shall be appointed in the night, you, with a dozen persons well appointed for the purpose, shall enter the watch and destroy them. That done, ye shall recoil back with your company and keep the stairs, and at the same time I with my company shall be ready to scale the walls over the gate. I will have five or six hundred men that shall enter with me on the first burst. We shall have aid both by sea and land, within short space.'—Confession of Clement Philpot: Rolls House MS. Viscount Lisle, the old commandant of Calais, an illegitimate son of Edward IV., was suspected of having been privy to the conspiracy, and was sent for to England. His innocence was satisfactorily proved, but he died in the Tower on the day when he would have been liberated.
- 32 Henry VIII. cap. 58: imprinted Rolls House MS.
- Lords Journals, 32 Henry VIII. The clerk of the Parliament has attached a note to the summary of the session declaring that throughout its progress the peers had voted unanimously. From which it has been concluded, among other things, that Cranmer voted for Cromwell's execution. The Archbishop was present in the House on the day on which the bill for the attainder was read the last time. There is no evidence, however, that he remained till the question was put; and as he dared to speak for him on his arrest, he is entitled to the benefit of any uncertainty which may exist. It is easy to understand how he, and the few other peers who were Cromwell's friends, may have abstained from a useless opposition in the face of an overwhelming majority. We need not exaggerate their timidity, or reproach them with an active consent of which no hint is to be found in any contemporary letter, narrative, or document.
- Ellis, second series, vol. ii. p. 160.
- Ellis, ibid.; this is apparently the letter printed by Burnet, Collectanea, p. 500.
- Vereor ne frustra cum Reverendissima Dominatione vestrâ per litteras de Cromwelli resipiscentiâ sum gratulatus, nec enim quæ typis sunt excusa quæ ad me missa sunt, in quibus novissima ejus verba recitantur, talem animum mihi exprimunt qualem eorum narratio qui de ejus exitu et de extremis verbis mecum sunt locuti.'—Pole to Beccatelli: Epist. vol. iii.
- Prayer of the Lord Cromwell on the Scaffold: Foxe, vol. v.
- His death seems to have been needlessly painful through the awkwardness of the executioner, 'a ragged and butcherly miser, who very ungoodly performed the office.'—Hall.
- The spectacle almost occasioned an outbreak in London, and shocked into momentary emotion the diplomatic indifference of Marillac:—
'Your Majesty will have heard of the execution of Master Cromwell and Lord Hungerford. Two days after, six more were put to death, three were hanged as traitors, Fetherstone, Abel, and Cook, late Prior of Doncaster, for having spoken in favour of the Pope; three were burnt as heretics, Garret, Jerome, and Doctor Barnes. It was a strange spectacle to see the adherents of two opposite parties die thus on the same day and at the same hour, and it was equally disgraceful to the two divisions of the Government who pretended to have received offence. The scene was as painful as it was monstrous. Both groups of sufferers were obstinate or constant; both alike complained of the mode of sentence under which they were condemned. They had never been called to answer for their supposed offences; and Christians under grace, they said, were now worse off than Jews under the law. The law would have no man die unless he were first heard in his defence, and Heathen and Christian, sage and emperor, the whole world, except England, observed the same rule.
'Here in England, if two witnesses will swear and affirm before the council that they have heard a man speak against his duty to his King, or contrary to the articles of religion, that man may be condemned to suffer death, with the pains appointed by the law, although he be absent or ignorant of the charge, and without any other form of proof. Innocence is no safeguard when such an opening is offered to malice or revenge. Corruption or passion may breed false witness; and the good may be sacrificed, and the wicked, who have sworn away their lives, may escape with impunity. There is no security for any man, unless the person accused is brought face to face with the witnesses who depose against him.
'Of the iniquity of the system no other evidence is needed than these executions just passed. One who suffered for treason declared that he had never spoken good or bad of the Pope's authority, nor could he tell how he had provoked the King's displeasure, unless it were, that ten years ago his opinion was required on the divorce of Queen Catherine, the Emperor's aunt, and he had said he considered her the King's lawful wife. The rest spoke equally firmly and equally simply, and such loud murmurs rose among the people, and their natural disposition to turbulence was so excited, that had there been any one to lead them, they would have broken out into dangerous sedition. Inquiries were made instantly into the origin of the riot. The names of those who have repeated the words of the sufferers have been demanded, and this, I suppose, will be made the occasion of a worse butchery. It is no easy thing to keep a people in revolt against the Holy See and the authority of the Church, and yet free from the infection of the new doctrines—or, on the other hand, if they remain orthodox, to prevent them from looking with attachment to the Papacy. But the council here will have neither the one nor the other. They will have their ordinances obeyed, however often they change them, and however little the people can comprehend what they are required to believe.'—Marillac to Francis I., Aug. 6, 1540: MS. Bibliot. Impér. Paris.