History of England (Froude)/Chapter 21
THE PEACE OF CREPY.
THE Anglo-Catholics had established their supremacy in the destruction of their great enemy, and in the rupture with the Protestants of the Continent; but they had feared to compromise their success by an indiscretion like that which before had spoiled their triumph. They had been forced to content themselves with a power of persecution, which, after the martyrdoms of Barnes and his companions, they had scarcely dared to employ; and Gardiner, the leading spirit of the party, perceived acutely that his victory was but half won, that at any moment it might be snatched from him, unless he could lay a check on the free circulation of the Scriptures. In the face of the King's resolution a direct movement for such a purpose, he knew, would be hopeless. But the Bishop of Winchester was as dexterous as he was resolute; and a side route might conduct him to his object when the open road was closed.
From 1536, when the vicar-general's injunctions directed every parish priest to supply his church with a copy of the whole Bible, editions, based all of them on the translation of Tyndal, followed each other in rapid succession. The bishops, who had undertaken to supply a version satisfactory to Catholic orthodoxy, had still left their work untouched. The King would not be trifled with. The Bible, in some shape, his subjects should possess; and if unsupplied by the officials of the Church, he would accept the services of volunteers whose heart was in their labours. Coverdale's edition was followed, in 1537, by Matthews's, 'printed with the King's most gracious license;' and the same version, after being revised by the Archbishop of Canterbury, was reprinted in 1538, 1539, 1540, and 1541, under the name of 'The Great Bible,' or 'Cranmer's Bible.' The offence in Tyndal's translation was less in the rendering of the words than in the side-notes, prefaces, and commentaries: by the omission of these the Archbishop had been able to preserve the text almost without change.
Simultaneously, however, other editions were put in circulation, with the private connivance of Cromwell, where the same prudence had not been observed. In 1539 appeared 'Taverner's Bible,' with a summary at the commencement 'of things contained in Holy Scripture,' in which Protestantism of an audacious kind was openly professed. The priesthood was denied; masses and purgatory were ignored; the sacraments were described as nothing but outward signs; and the eucharist as a memorial supper, without sacrificial character, figurative or real. The publication was imprudent. Complaint was certain, and would be recognized as just. On the death of his patron, Taverner paid for his rashness by an imprisonment in the Tower; and, although he was soon released, and grew to favour at the Court, yet Henry so far listened to the remonstrances of the Church authorities as to forbid the sale of unauthorized editions; and in 1542 the Convocation was informed that the text of the Great Bible itself was to undergo an examination. The errors of translation were said to be in the New Testament rather than the Old. The Gospels and Epistles were divided into fifteen parts, and were distributed among the Bench.
The learned prelates, or two-thirds of them, desired to find blemishes; they had no intention of correcting them. Gardiner presented a list of nearly a hundred words, for which the English language was too heretical to have provided an equivalent, and which therefore must be left in Latin; and Cranmer, aware that the real wish was to suppress the translation altogether, appealed to the King, and relieved them of an occupation which they would discharge so indifferently. The quarrel ended in a compromise. The original editions of Tyndal, which were accompanied with his annotations, were prohibited under penalties. The Bible, as edited by Cranmer, was left untampered with; but a temporary limitation was imposed, perhaps wisely, upon its indiscriminate use.
The Parliament—for the Parliament was the only body which could reasonably compose an ecclesiastical dispute—declared that, although the King had permitted the Bible in English to be read by his subjects, 'that they might increase in virtue for the wealth of their souls,' 'and although his Majesty's godly purpose and intent had taken good effect in a great multitude of his subjects, especially the highest and most honest sort,' yet that the young and the ignorant had been led rather to dishonour the book than to derive from it wholesome instruction. It was wrangled over in alehouses and taprooms. It was disfigured 'in rhymes, printed ballads, plays, songs, and other fantasies.' Scandalous brawls and controversies disgraced the churches where it was placed for the people to read. Noisy, vain, arrogant persons took upon themselves to be expounders and interpreters; and 'the word of God,' instead of producing piety and sober demeanour, was an occasion of faction, and endangered the peace of the kingdom. 'Until,' therefore, 'and unless the King's Majesty, perceiving such reformation in their lives and behaviour, should of his clemency think good otherwise to enlarge and give liberty for the reading of the same,' the Lords and Commons considered that the use of the Bible should be confined to those who could read it beneficially. Unordained persons were prohibited from preaching or holding discussions upon it in public; and farm-servants, journeymen, apprentices, women, and children were to be contented to learn from their masters or the heads of their families.
Though falling far short of Gardiner's desires, this measure was an evidence of his influence. The completion of the alliance with Charles V. was a still more emphatic victory. So long desired, so long apparently hopeless, this connection promised the triumph in Europe of the same policy which he was labouring to establish in England. It promised a council which, supported by two powerful sovereigns, would reimpose upon the world the Catholic creed, modified in the single article of the Papal supremacy. And now he believed that he might show his colours more bravely. Cromwell was gone; but while Cranmer remained, he had a rival who was still able to thwart him, whose influence with the Crown, so long as it continued, impaired the completeness of the reaction, and checked persecution. He would strike a blow then boldly at the Archbishop; and when this obstacle was disposed of, his course would be easy.
He wove his intrigues. He arranged his snare. His prey was within his grasp, when Henry calmly interposed, and rent the scheme to atoms. 'Thus far, and no further,' was the stern answer which checked the zeal of conservatism; and the blow which the Bishop had aimed was fatal in its recoil. It was not every one who had the skill or the dishonesty to eliminate out of Catholicism the one only element which it was inconvenient or dangerous to retain. His secretary, Germayn Gardiner, developed orthodoxy into Romanism. He was caught under the Supremacy Act; and the death which the Bishop designed for Cranmer fell upon his own kinsman.
A failure so instructive might have warned Gardiner of the dangerous ground on which he was treading. But the treaty had heated his fancy. He had missed his stroke at the Archbishop, but meaner victims were still attainable. The Bill of the Six Articles was the law of the land. It had received a second emphatic sanction from Parliament; and the King could not intend that it should be defied with impunity. The town of Windsor, and even the royal household, were reported to be impregnated with heresy. Dr London, the Warden of New College, was now a prebendary of St George's, and was ready with his services to assist in the purification. With the assistance of the prebendary and of a Windsor attorney named Ockham, evidence was collected or invented to sustain a charge against four of the townsmen, Robert Testwood, Anthony Peerson, Henry Filmer, and John Marbeck—while Sir Philip Hoby, Sir Thomas Garden, and other gentlemen belonging to the privy chamber, were accused of supporting and encouraging them.
Peerson's crime was that, two years before, he had said that 'like as Christ was hanged between two thieves, even so, when the priest is at mass and lifteth Him up over his head, then He hangeth between two thieves, except the priest preach the word of God truly.'
Filmer was charged with having called the sacrament of the altar a similitude. 'If it was God,' he had said, 'then in his lifetime he had eaten twenty Gods.'
Testwood had told a priest, when lifting up the Host, to take care he did not let Him fall.
Marbeck, the most obnoxious of the four, had made a Concordance of the Bible.
The accusations were probably true, although the evidence was obtained with the help of spies and traitors. It sufficed for its purpose; the prisoners were convicted, and were sentenced, in the ordinary form, to be burned. On the morning on which they were to suffer, a pardon, through private interference, was obtained for Marbeck who, in fact, had broken no law, just or unjust, and whose death would have been a murder, even technically. The other three satisfied the orthodoxy of the Bishop of Winchester by perishing on the meadow in front of Windsor Castle.
But if the minds of men had been slow to change, their hearts had changed in spite of themselves. The time was gone when either king or nation could look complacently on these hideous spectacles. The traditions of centuries could not be overthrown in a day. The letter of the heresy law might be reasserted with emphasis by a people eager to escape from a name which they had been taught to dread; but the influences of a purer creed had stolen insensibly over their feelings. Dr London, in his eagerness to make a case against the gentlemen of the household, had blundered into perjury. They laid the circumstances of the prosecutions before Henry, and two of the judges who had sat on the trial were sent for and examined. The insidious conspiracy was unfolded; and the judges 'told the King plainly' that, although with the evidence which was produced an acquittal was impossible, 'they had never sat on any matter under his Grace's authority which went so much against their conscience, as the deaths of these men.' Fifteen years before, heretics had been venomous reptiles, to be trampled out with exultation and hatred. Kow, even those who had been forced by the law to pass sentence on them could express their remorse to the King, and the King, as they spoke, turned away, saying, 'Alas, poor innocents!'
But Henry did not content himself with pity. Gardiner, the chief delinquent, could not be touched; but his wretched instruments were tried for false swearing, and were convicted. Dr London, stripped of his dignities, was compelled to ride through the streets of Windsor, Newbury, and Reading, with his face to the horse's tail, and a paper on his head setting forth that he was a detected perjurer. In each town he was placed in a pillory, where every voice might revile and every hand might hurl filth at him; and then he was thrust away into the Fleet Prison, where he miserably died.
These events happened towards the fall of 1543, amidst the heat and eagerness of the preparations for war. The punishment of a worthless ecclesiastic was not the only result which followed from the persecution.
1544.Parliament was called for the 14th of January; and although it was meeting for a session unusually busy, it could find time to limit the opportunities of cruelty which it had lately bestowed. The Six Articles Bill had been provoked by excesses and extravagances. It was still necessary to leave the bishops some weapon to repress disorder; but it should be a weapon with a blunter edge.
A recent statute, said the preamble of the new measure, had established that offenders convicted of specified heresies should suffer pains of death: 'But in as much as, by force of the same statute, secret and untrue accusations and presentments might be maliciously conspired against the King's subjects, and kept secret unrevealed, that such as were accused should not have knowledge thereof until a time might be espied to have them by malice convicted, to the great peril and danger of the King's Majesty's subjects, if the same statute should not be tempered or qualified; and to the intent that all presentments and indictments of such offences as were contained in the said statute should be taken in open and manifest courts, by the oaths of twelve indifferent persons, according to good equity and conscience; and also that the inquiries and trials of and upon such indictments might justly and charitably proceed without corruption or malice;' it should be now enacted, that no person should be arraigned for any offence under the Act of the Six Articles except on presentment by twelve men, made either before a special commission, or before justices of the peace sitting in sessions, or before the judges of the assize; again, that such presentment must be made within twelve months of the alleged commission of the offence; and, further, that no person might be arrested before his indictment, except under a warrant from a privy councillor or from two justices of the peace, one of whom must be a layman. If the offence consisted of spoken words, the depositions must be taken within forty days of the time of utterance; and the accused persons should be allowed to challenge the jury.
The tone of the Act, as well as the substance of it, indicates the direction in which the tide was once more setting. We no longer hear of 'the foul and detestable crime of heresy.' The penalties were not changed,, but the object was not any more to ensure the infliction of them, but to throw obstacles in the way of persecution.
The Emperor meanwhile, notwithstanding his success in Gueldres, was unable to maintain the attitude of menace towards the Lutheran princes which he had for a moment assumed. He was in no condition, while his quarrel with France lay on his hands, to come to a rupture with the Smalcaldic League. He required rather a support of men and money from the Diet, where the Protestants had a majority; and either he was scandalously playing with their credulity, or was provoked into real indecision on the great question of religion by the support which the Pope, notwithstanding his ambassador's remonstrances, persisted in lending to Francis. In Italy, Germany, and England it was alike at this time expected that,, if he declined to encourage an AngloGerman council, he would allow the States of the Empire to settle their differences in a national synod. Henry sent him as a present the 'Institution of a Christian Man,' which Granvelle undertook to make the favourite study of his leisure; and in England, in consequence, there was everything to recommend and nothing to make distasteful the alliance. Commercial interests, hereditary traditions, the conscious need of forgiveness for the divorce of his aunt, would unite with the common support of a moderate religion to reconnect, the country with. Charles V.; while France was 'the antient enemy,' the usurper, as men still had not forgotten, of the fair provinces on the Continent which had once been the inheritance of the English sovereigns.
In this spirit the public relations of the country were accepted by Parliament with the expenses which those relations would entail. When the war broke out the exchequer was empty. The first payment of the subsidy which had been granted in the year preceding had not as yet fallen due, and the King, in anticipation of the approaching return, had applied for a loan which had been raised in graduated proportions from the ordinary tax-payers. He had in fact required and received a portion of the parliamentary grant a few months before its time. The people, who were aware that a war involved a war taxation, submitted without complaining to a proceeding which was manifestly necessary. On the meeting of Parliament the accounts of the expenditure were produced for inspection; and the legislature being prepared, as a matter of course, to find supplies, and knowing that the subsidy in itself would now be insufficient, by a retrospective sanction converted the loan into an additional tax, and left their original grant still to be collected in its integrity. The King of France, they said, in justification of their resolution, owed a large debt to England which he refused to pay. He had betrayed Europe to the Turks; he had provoked the Scotch to break their engagements. 'His Majesty, therefore, was forced, and could of his honour no less do but determine himself, by the help of Almighty God, to levy war and prosecute his enemies with the sword, trusting so to bring them to reasonable conditions: and his loving subjects, considering it was their office and duty to support his Majesty in all just quarrels with their bodies, lands, and substance, and minding to bear with his Highness in this his most gracious and godly enterprise, calling to remembrance that certain sums of money had been advanced to his Highness by way of loan—which sums of money, as was notoriously known, his Highness had fully and wholly converted and employed for the commonwealth and defence of the realm—declared that all such loans should be finally remitted and released.'
The funds being thus provided, at least for immediate necessities, it remained, since the King was going in person into France, to make arrangements for his possible death in the course of the campaign. In 1536, when he seemed to be without a legitimate child, he had been empowered to fix the succession by his will. There was now a prince, and although from the present Queen there was no visible prospect of issue, yet it was necessary to provide for the possibility of further issue being born. A will, as the law stood, would have been a sufficient instrument; but Henry, sensible, as he said, 'of the trust and confidence that his loving subjects had placed in him,' desired to exercise the power which they had bestowed 'with the knowledge and consent of Parliament.' It was enacted, therefore, briefly, that from Henry the crown should pass to Prince Edward. If the prince died without issue, and there were no other legitimate children, it should descend to the Lady Mary, under conditions which the King in his will would determine. If Mary died without issue, it should go to Elizabeth under the same restrictions. The three children might all fail; but beyond this point it was thought imprudent to make a public disposition. The Queen of Scots was next of blood in the collateral line; and the possibility of the succession of a Queen of Scots could be neither admitted for the present, nor wisely denied for the future. This point, therefore, was left to the future judgment of Henry.
His decision would probably depend on the result of the opening war. Weary years of persevering forbearance had concluded in a final effort of liberality. The King had offered peace in return for invasion, and the union of the Crowns on equal terms as a reward for incurable hostility. The Scotch Estates had first petitioned for his mercy, then accepted his proposals; had sworn to observe them, and then immediately had flung them back in scorn. The noblemen who had volunteered to serve him, had broken faith through mingled weakness and fickleness. The Douglases, who had so long been his pensioners, were now beyond doubt playing a double game. They had signed a bond to give the crown to Henry if the treaty was broken. They had now signed a second with the Cardinal against their 'auld enemies of England;' and although the Earl of Angus still sent private assurances that in secret he was true to the King, the word of a man who was a traitor to one side or the other could no longer be depended on. Arran was passive in the hands of Beton; and Beton, the undisputed master of Scotland, was making rapid use of his opportunities of evil. A specimen of his administration in the January of this year, 1544, will illustrate the purpose for which he was seeking power, and the spirit from the dominion of which the King of England was labouring to rescue the unhappy country.
Lord Ruthven, the hereditary Provost of Perth, was one of the few nobles who had looked favourably on the Reformers, and within the limits of his jurisdiction the leaven had dangerously spread. In the late autumn, on Allhallows eve, a noticeable scene had taken place in the church of the town. A friar, in the course of a sermon, told the people that the morrow was the day in which they were to offer for their fathers' souls in purgatory. One of his audience, a man named Robert Lamb, stood up, holding a Bible in his hand, and exclaimed, 'I charge you in the name of Christ Jesus, whose verity is here written, that ye teach nothing to his people except his only truth. If ye otherwise do, here is the book of his truth to bear witness against you in the day of the Lord.' The congregation was divided, but the speaker had but few friends, the friar had many. 'The baily of the town called for fire and faggot.' The baillie's sister 'threw her keys in Lamb's face,' and 'called him a false thief.' It was with some difficulty that he was dragged alive out of the crowd. Men called him unwise to be meddling in matters with which he had no concern. He replied that he must do the work of the Lord, and he would be happy if he suffered for his faith.
Men who can find their happiness in suffering need not be left long to wish for it. The story was reported to Beton, and after the separation of the Estates, which had met in December, the Cardinal, accompanied by the Regent, proceeded to Perth to inquire and punish. On arriving, he found that Lamb was not the only criminal of whom the Church dignitaries complained. A nest of heretics was rooted out; wicked men who, in defiance of proclamations, had eaten meat on fast days and had been disrespectful to the saints, and a wicked woman who in childbirth had declined to call upon the Virgin for assistance.
A court was held in the Grey Friars' place. On the same Allhallows eve it was proved that the heretic who had interrupted the friar had held a feast at his house. Indictments were found against the party, where the offending woman, the wife of one of the others, had been also present. They were brought in guilty of having eaten when they ought to have remained hungry; of having reasoned on Scripture when Scripture was beyond their understanding; of having interrupted a holy man in the exercise of his duty; and they were sentenced, four of them, to death. Lest their friends should interfere at the execution, the Cardinal's guard was under arms to make sure work. The three male prisoners were brought out to the scaffold; the woman—her name was Helen Stirk—was taken to see her husband suffer before she followed him. She had the baby in her arms whom God had given her, though she had left the Virgin uninvoked; and as she, too, was to die, she desired to die with the rest. But this was not permitted. They embraced under the gallows. 'Husband,' she said, 'we have lived together many joyful days; but this day in which we must die ought to be most joyful to us both, because we must have joy for ever. Therefore I will not bid you good night. Suddenly we shall meet again in the kingdom of heaven.' The executioners seized their prey, and she, too, was then led away to be drowned the punishment of warlocks and witches. The road led past the Grey Friars', where Beton was still in session. 'Ah!' she said, 'they sit in that place quietly who are the cause of our death this day; but He who seeth this execution upon us shall shortly see their nest shaken.' When they reached the water's edge she gave the child to a nurse; she was hurled in—and the justice of the Church was satisfied.
'Thus ceased not Satan,' says Knox, 'by all means to maintain his kingdom of darkness, and to suppress the light of Christ's evangel. But potent is He against whom they fought; for when the wicked were in greatest security, God began to show his anger.' The Cardinal returned to St Andrew's. His own dungeons, too, were stocked with offenders of the same stamp and kind. The body of one of them, a friar, whom Knox calls 'godly learned,' was found one morning, when the day broke, stiff and stark, upon the rocks below the Sea Tower; and dark tales were whispered of murder in the vaults of the castle.
This was Scotland as the Pope desired to have it, and the Cardinal had preserved it. Law and order and government so far were on their side. It was to be seen whether the higher laws of truth and justice were still able to execute themselves. Henry VIII., in a letter to the Emperor, described the Scotch nobility as little better than wild beasts, sometimes hunting in a pack, sometimes tearing each other to pieces; but governed, so far as he could see, whether separate or united, only by a greedy ferocity. The Reformers alone were his true and cordial friends—men who with a nobler faith had assumed a nobler nature; whose eye was single; whose words were safer than the ' bonds ' of the lords. But, false and faithless as he had found the latter, he was forced to maintain among them some kind of party; and their mutual hatreds never left him long without adherents whose interest for a time brought them over to his side. In January the whole nation seemed to be united under the Cardinal. In a few weeks 'the English earls' were again proffering their services and again inviting an invasion.
The change had been effected on this occasion through the Earl of Lennox—a new ally, converted to the English interests by a mortified ambition and an eagerness for revenge.
When the Earl of Arran was in his better mind, and the Parliament was tolerating the Protestants, Beton had introduced Lennox from France as a rival for the regency, supposing that he would be an easy instrument, whom he might use while his name was a convenience, and might cast aside when needed no longer. Lennox had served his purpose well. The gathering at Stirling had been made efficient through the influence of his family, and to him chiefly the Cardinal was indebted for the capture of the Queen. But, on Arran's submission, he had lost his importance. The existing Government, so long as it was compliant and obedient, answered the ends of the Church by its feebleness; and, in the arrogance of his success, the Cardinal took little pains to conciliate a nobleman whom he regarded as his creature, or reconcile him to the change in his policy. Lennox was affronted at the slight, and exasperated at the disappointment. Perhaps, too, the higher qualities which he exhibited in later life influenced his judgment. He passed over from the French to the English faction, and at once proceeded to give proof of his intended usefulness in his new career. He had the custody of the castle of Dumbarton, where a supply of powder and thirty thousand crowns had been landed for the use of the Government. He refused to surrender either the castle or its contents. The Earl of Angus recovered courage at this accession of strength; February.Lennox joined him in a letter to Henry, in which the past was apologized for, and the English army was invited to hasten across the Border; and, as a cement to the new friendship, the Earl of Lennox professed himself a suitor for the hand of Lady Margaret Douglas, the daughter of Angus and the niece of the King.
There was no occasion to press Henry to speed. With or without assistance from a native faction, he had resolved this time to teach the Scots that, although engaged with France, he was really able to punish them; and he was making his preparations on a scale which they could not easily resist. Two hundred ships were collected at Newcastle, which would land at Leith ten thousand men. Four thousand horses were to advance from Berwick under Lord Evers, and join them before the walls of Edinburgh.
The Cardinal being openly supported by the Pope, Henry would not relinquish the desire of committing the Emperor in the quarrel. The treaty had made no distinction in enemies; and he requested an auxiliary force of a thousand Spaniards; not so much, he avowed, for the increase of strength which they would bring to him, as 'to have an occasion given to the world to think and see that there was a mutual and reciprocal affection in each one of them to take the other's cause as his own.'
The move was made skilfully; but Charles, too, was a delicate player in the game of state-craft. His Spanish troops, he replied, were distributed in garrisons from which he regretted the impossibility of sparing them. For declaring the Scots to be enemies, which Henry had also desired, he would do it gladly, if his good brother would explain whether he was at war with them as a nation, or only with a particular faction. Henry, as he well knew, would be embarrassed to answer. He could therefore safely express his anxious interest in the success of the invasion. The excuses could only be admitted. Cardinal Granvelle affected to reveal to the English resident any secret intelligence connected with Beton's movements which fell in his way; and, as professions were made in abundance, and the sympathy stopped short only where active measures would be necessary, Henry could not press his request. His own strength was sufficient for his purpose; and, after all, it was suggested the Emperor might embarrass as much as assist. If the two princes were at war with the same enemy, neither might make peace without consulting the other upon the conditions; and, supposing the English army to obtain any marked advantage, some jealousy might be felt—some alarm lest, if Scotland were annexed or prostrated, England might become dangerously strong, and they might thus be prevented from reaping the full benefit of their victory.
Without the Emperor's assistance a force sufficient to punish Scotland would soon be thrown upon the unfortunate country. Francis was so much alarmed for the possible consequences, that he recommended (or proposed to recommend) the Regent to pretend to make concessions again, to ward off the danger. March.In the beginning of March a French force, ten thousand strong, was embarked in Normandy, to go to his assistance. But the wind was foul, the men for some cause were mutinous, and the transports were obliged to return; and, as the Scots themselves made light of the danger, a second effort was not made to send them. The Cardinal, strangely, felt no alarm. He was unable to believe that Henry could do serious injury beyond wasting the Borders as usual, and it seems that both he and the King allowed their hopes to deceive them. Beton was to find that the English had a long arm. Henry—who, if he did not aim at a conquest, expected to establish a substantial protectorate—would discover the obstinate nationality of the Scottish people to be as hard to deal with as it had been found by his predecessors.
His plan, as at first conceived, was to seize and fortify Leith, and, if possible, the Castle of Edinburgh. Dumbarton would be placed in his hands by Lennox, and the Earl of Angus would admit a garrison into Tantallon, if his present humour held. In possession of four, or even three, strong fortresses in the heart of the kingdom—so situated that, with the command of the sea, he could throw supplies into them at his pleasure—he expected that, without difficulty, he could re-establish the English party in a decisive superiority, and secure the persons of the obnoxious lords and churchmen.
With these avowed objects, a convention was drawn between the English Government and the Earls of Lennox and Glencairn. On their side the two noblemen engaged—
1. That to their power they would cause the Word of God to be truly taught and preached, as the true and only foundation from whence proceedeth all truth and honour, and whereby they might judge who proceeded with them godly and justly, and who abused them for their own glory and purpose.
2. That they would remain constant to England; and abjure all friendship, alliance, or connection with the French King.
3. That, to the best of their ability, they would endeavour to prevent the Queen from being taken to France; and, if they could obtain possession of her person, they would send her without delay to London, there to be educated until she came of age for her marriage with the Prince of Wales.
4. That, on the approach of the English army, they would unite with it with all the force which they could raise, and accept and obey the King as director and protector of the realm.
If the earls observed these conditions, Henry undertook that their lands should not be injured in the invasion, that Grlencairn should have a pension of a thousand crowns, and Lennox should have the regency, under conditions of general obedience to advice from England. If the Queen died, the claim of Lennox to the succession should be recognized in preference to that of Arran; and for the marriage which he desired with the Lady Margaret, as soon as he should have performed some notable service, the King said that, if the lady had no objection, he would make none himself; but experience had taught him to beware of marriages arranged by third parties for political convenience. 'We have promised our niece,' he said, 'never to cause her to marry any man but whom she shall find in her own heart to love.'
The submission of the Earl of Angus to the Cardinal had prevented the King from admitting him to a share in this agreement. His returning protestations had failed to recover his favour; and though, in conjunction with Lennox, he had volunteered an offer to assist the English army, Henry would have the restoration of his confidence purchased by some active service. But, if the King would not receive him as a party to a compact, he did not absolutely reject his advances. The Earl of Angus, he said, now desired an invasion: if he had been less vacillating and uncertain, the relations of the two countries would not have been in a state to require so harsh a remedy. 'Therefore, my lord,' he wrote to him, 'if you esteem your honour, and that reputation of your manhood which we have of long time conceived of you, bestir yourself at this present, and play the man. Lay apart all fond affections, and suffer not yourself, being a nobleman and noted a man of courage, to be overcome with delicateness—now at this time specially, when you should show yourself industrious, for the preservation of your credit both towards us and all the rest of the world that knoweth you. You have tasted much of our liberality before you have deserved any; and if you shall serve us now frankly, and as our goodness in times past doth require, think not but you shall serve a prince that hath yet in store much liberality to you.'
The Earl of Hertford had been selected to command the expedition, supported by Lord Shrewsbury and Lord Lisle. His orders oil entering Scotland were to proclaim the King of England guardian of the Queen and protector of the realm; and especially Henry directed that, in every town and village, he should nail a placard on the church- doors, signifying that the Scots had to thank the Cardinal for the sufferings inflicted by the war, and but for him they would have been in peace and quietness. April.By the 18th of April the army was ready to embark. The gentlemen, in their zeal for the public service, had given up their horses for the transport-service; and the whole force were in high spirits, 'reporting themselves as intending, without respect or care of delicate feeding or much rest, to spare no pain of their bodies to serve the King's Highness.'
As the certainty of the gathering peril became known in Scotland, overtures, honest and dishonest, came thick to the English general. A messenger appeared with promises of service from Lord Maxwell. Another followed with a warning that Maxwell was treacherous. One week Lennox was reported to be wavering, and Angus to have again relapsed to Beton. The next week brought news that Angus and his brother were prisoners in Blackness. Among the various offers and informations, one proposal was made which requires particular mention, affecting as it does the character of a remarkable party and of many remarkable men.
In the novelty of a first acquaintance with the Old Testament, the Scotch Protestants beheld in the history of the chosen people a counterpart of their own position. They, too, were a 'remnant' whom idolatrous tyrants would compel to burn incense to Baal. They, too, were betrayed by apostate governors who had turned away from the truth and had joined with the enemies of the Lord. And seeing how, under 'the covenant,' the oppressors were disposed of—how the letter of the law was set aside by the spirit—how the Ehuds, the Jaels, the Jehus, the Jehoiadas—how those who smote tyrants in the field with the sword, or in the closet with the dagger, were accounted faithful servants,—they imagined that conduct which in the Bible was emphatically applauded was a safe precedent for imitation. As Jezebel's priests appeared to Elijah, so seemed Cardinal David Beton to the Protestant leaders.
In the middle of April a Scot 'named Wishart' came down to the Borders to Hertford, with an offer from old Sir James Kirkaldy, Norman Leslie the eldest son of the Earl of Rothes, and other gentlemen, to raise a force in Fife, if the King of England would supply the funds for it, to co-operate with his Majesty's invading army, to burn Arbroath and other places belonging to the extreme party in the Church, to arrest and imprison the principal opponents of the English alliance, and 'either apprehend or slay' the Cardinal himself. They would use their best efforts to succeed. If they failed, they begged to know whether England would give them shelter. The proposal, under any aspect, was important. Hertford, declining to give an answer on his own responsibility, referred the messenger to the King; and Henry, whose position obliged him to look at facts as they were, rather than through conventional forms, saw no reason to discourage the despatch of a public enemy. He regarded Beton as a traitor to the two countries—as guilty, individually and personally, of the impending war; and as he had repeatedly urged Arran to seize him while Arran was loyal, he chose to regard his own friends, after Arran's defection, as the representatives of lawful authority. 'After our hearty commendations unto your good lordship,' the council replied to the English commander, 'these shall be to signify to you that this bearer Wishart hath been with the King's Majesty, and, for his credence, declared even the same matters in substance whereof your lordship hath written hither; and hath received for answer touching the feat against the Cardinal, that, in case the lords and gentlemen which he named shall enterprise the same earnestly, and do the best they can, to the uttermost of their power, to bring the same to pass indeed, and thereupon not being able to continue longer in Scotland, shall be enforced to fly unto this realm for refuge, his Highness will be contented to accept them and relieve them as shall appertain. For their desire to have the entertainment of a certain number of men at his Highness's charges, promising thereupon to covenant with his Majesty in writing, under their seals, to burn and destroy the abbots', bishops', and other kirkmen's lands, his Majesty hath answered that, forasmuch as his Highness's army shall be, by the grace of God, entered into Scotland, and ready to return again before his Highness can send down to them, and they send again, and have answer for a conclusion in this matter, his Highness thinks the time too short to commune any further in it after this sort. But if they mind effectually to burn and destroy as they have offered, at his Majesty's army being in Scotland, and for their true and upright dealings with his Majesty therein will lay in hostages, his Highness will take order that you shall deliver unto them one thousand pounds sterling, for their furniture in that behalf.'
May.The answer arrived too late to be of use. The conspirators, unwilling to move without security, remained passive, and the enterprise for the moment fell through. But plots against the lives of obnoxious persons ever throve in the soil of the Scottish nature. The seed grew on in concealment; the fruit of it ripened in its time.
Looking now through the eyes of Knox, let us imagine ourselves at Edinburgh on the morning of Saturday the 3rd of May, 1544. May 3.The Regent and Beton were at Holyrood, in enjoyment of the confidence of the townspeople, and the heroes of Scottish independence. In spite of rumour and expectation, they were incredulous of danger. The preparations of the English might have been known, but they were supposed to be intended for France. The strength of their enemies on the sea was a new phenomenon of which they had no experience, and, without experience, could have no belief. The Channel had been free to their cruisers: they had ravaged the English coasts, and robbed English traders, from Berwick to the Land's End. An invasion in their own waters was the last peril which seemed to have been anticipated. Soon after daybreak strange ships were reported inside the Bass Rock. As the sun rose the numbers appeared more considerable, the white sails passing in from seaward and coming up the Forth in a stream, of which the end was still invisible. The good citizens went out upon the Castle Hill and Arthur's Seat, and 'to crags and places eminent,' to gaze on the unintelligible spectacle the silent vessels, countless as a flight of seabirds, appearing from behind the horizon, and covering the blue level of the water. What were they? What did they mean? Midday came; they drew nearer in the light air; and keen eyes saw on the leading ships the flutter of St George's Cross. But 'still sat the Cardinal at his dinner, showing as though there had been no danger appearing.' The English were come, was the cry. The English were come to destroy them. 'The Cardinal skrippit and said, it is but the Iceland fleet; they are come to make us a show and to put us in fears.' It would soon be known what they were. The first line as they came off Leith rounded up into the wind, dropped their anchors, and lay motionless. One by one, as the rest followed in, they took their places in the floating forest. While the sun was still in the sky the anxious watchers counted two hundred sail.
No message came on shore. There was neither signal nor offer to communicate; only in the twilight boats were seen stealing out from under the shadow of the hulls, taking soundings, as it seemed, under Grantoun Crags, and round the eastern edges of the harbour.
May 4.The brief May night closed in. By the dawning of Sunday the whole sea was alive. The galleys and lighter transports were moving in towards the land. Soldiers were swarming on the decks of the ships or passing down over the sides into the barges. It was the English army come indeed in its might and terror. The port was open, and the undefended town could attempt no resistance. The inhabitants fled up into Edinburgh, entering at one gate as, at another, Arran and the Cardinal were dashing out at the best speed of their swiftest horses. Before noon ten thousand men had disembarked in the leisure of overwhelming strength. The owners of the desolate houses had saved nothing. The merchants' stock was in their warehouses, and everything which was found was tranquilly appropriated. The joints of meat which had been provided for the Sunday dinners were cooked and consumed by the English men-at-arms. In the afternoon Blackness Castle was broken open, and the State prisoners, Sir George Douglas and Lord Angus among them, were dismissed to liberty.
Edinburgh, deserted by the Court and thronged with fugitives, was filled with confusion. The Provost rallied the city guard, and called on the citizens to arm. There was no lack of courage. Six thousand men came forward as volunteers, and even marched out towards Leith to attack the enemy; but they had no competent leaders; for unorganized citizens to seek an army twice their strength was madness; their only hope was to make a tolerable defence and secure terms for their property. The English were quiet till the following morning. May 5.On Monday the 5th they came up from the sea in three divisions. The provost and the corporation met them with a flag of truce, and offered to deliver the keys to Lord Hertford, on condition that all persons who desired might depart with their effects, and that he would engage for the safety of the town. 'The Scots,' Hertford said, briefly, 'had broken their promises, confirmed by oath and seal, and certified by their Parliament,' and he was sent thither by the King's Highness 'to take vengeance of their detestable falsehood, to declare and show the force of his Highness's sword to all such as would resist him.' They must yield at discretion, and he would promise them their lives. If they refused, the consequences would be on their own heads. He gave them a day to consider their answer; and in the afternoon, to assist their decision, ominous clouds of smoke were seen darkening the sky towards Haddiiigton and Lammermuir. Lord Evers, with his four thousand horse, came in from Berwick, having marked his advance by a broad track of desolation, where abbey and grange, castle and hamlet, were buried in a common ruin.
The odds were now terrible; but the Scots were not to be frightened in cold blood while there was a hope of resistance. They shut their gates, and told Hertford he might do his worst. Unfortunately for their courage, it had little opportunity to show itself. A heavy train of artillery had been landed from the fleet, to which there was no gun in Edinburgh better than Mons Meg to make an effective reply. The gates were blown in; the people who attempted to defend the streets were mown down by the fire; and the English troops followed the cannon, setting the houses in a blaze as they advanced. The intention of leaving garrisons had been for the present relinquished. Lord Hertford's orders were merely to teach a lesson of English power in the language which would be most easily understood. The miserable citizens broke, scattered, and fled into the open country, and for two days the metropolis of Scotland was sacked and wasted without resistance, while Evers and his northern troopers burnt the farms and villages for seven miles round. Holyrood was pillaged; Craigmillar and Seaton were destroyed, and every castle or fortified house in the neighbourhood except Dalkeith, which was spared, as belonging to the Douglases, and the Castle at Edinburgh, which could not be taken without loss and delay. There was no injury to life except where there was armed opposition; but the havoc of property was as complete as the skill and hate of the rough riders of the Border could make it; and the invaders, as it appeared to Knox, were thus 'executing the judgments of God' on breach of treaty and broken promises.
By the end of the week they had done their work in Edinburgh, and returned upon Leith. Here the wooden pier was torn up, and the timber was made use of as fuel to assist the destruction of the houses. The ships which were found in the harbour were seized and freighted with the spoil; and the army then dividing, part re-embarked in the transports, and returned to Newcastle; part accompanied the cavalry to Berwick, destroying as they went. The retreat, like the advance, was unopposed; and by the fifteenth of the month the invaders were again collected in England, the insignificant number of forty persons being the entire loss which they had sustained.
The necessity must be regretted which compelled measures of so extreme severity. Those who condemn the severity itself must remember that it followed only after all other means had been tried in vain to bring the Scots to reasonable terms. They would keep no peace, and no treaties could bind them, while it was as impossible to leave them to themselves, to become the willing instruments of designs upon England, in the hands of the Pope or the King of France.
May 15.The main army was transported from Newcastle to Calais; a division remained on the Border, under the command of Evers and Lord Wharton, and through the summer and autumn performed a series of 'exploits,' resembling on a scarcely reduced scale the proceedings at Edinburgh. The returns of the "Wardens of the Marches for the months intervening between July and November, 1544, report, of 'towns, towers, homesteads, barnekyns, parish churches, fortified houses, burnt and destroyed, a hundred and ninety-two; of Scots slain, four hundred and three; of prisoners taken, eight hundred and sixteen.' The spoil amounted to something over ten thousand horned cattle, twelve thousand sheep, thirteen hundred horses, and eight hundred and fifty bolls of corn. In an age in which military service has become a separate profession, we endeavour, as far as possible, to confine the sufferings of war to those who have made war their occupation: on the Scotch Borders, in the sixteenth century, the distinction had no existence. Every male subject was a soldier, and his farm-stock was the commissariat which maintained him in a position to be dangerous.
But the invasion of Scotland was subsidiary to the larger movements which were in preparation on the Continent. If the marriage was to be completed at last between Prince Edward and Mary Stuart, the consent of the French King had first to be extorted on the soil of France.
The alliance with the Emperor seemed every day to grow closer; each despatch which was exchanged between London and Brussels was in terms of increased cordiality. Francis had continued indefatigably his endeavours to effect a separation. Through prisoners taken in the late campaign, through diplomatists connected with England or the Empire, he offered terms severally to the two powers. To Henry he wrote with his own hand, as to an old and dear friend, from whom he could not endure to be divided; while to the Pope he was believed at least to have petitioned for absolution for his offences, in having sustained so long an intercourse with an excommunicated heretic; he entreated him certainly to intercede with the Emperor, empowering Cardinal Farnese to admit on his behalf that the fault of the war had rested with himself, and declaring that, if Charles would make a separate peace, he might name his own conditions.
Farnese eagerly undertook the commission. He had an interview first with the Queen Regent at Brussels; and afterwards, accompanied with the Duke of Guise, he had an audience with the Emperor. He delivered his message, speaking both in the name of Francis and of the Supreme Pontiff. But Charles, if he was sincere in his account of his own language, replied peremptorily that he would make no peace except in the spirit of the treaty which he was sworn to observe. As to the Pope, he could not sufficiently marvel at him. It was no part of his duty to intercede for one who had brought the Turks into the midst of Christendom, and there kept them to the undoing of Christian princes.
The attack on the Emperor being a failure, M. de Biez, the governor of Mottreul, was instructed again to offer to the English Government a full and free concession, and to beg, on his master's behalf, that an ambassador might be received in London who would bring plenary powers with him. The Emperor had listened in private to the proposals of Farnese, and. had replied in private, if he replied satisfactorily. Henry, on the first hint of the message, sent for the Spanish minister to hear his refusal; and hinting slightly that he had set an example of openness which ought to be followed, he 'desired the Emperor to perceive how his Majesty made the Emperor's case and his own all one, and refused any offer that could be made to himself, unless the Emperor's cause were joined with the same.' The confidence must have been insecurely rooted which required so many mutual protests; and if a passing cloud of uneasiness seems to have rested for a moment on Henry's mind, we may find cause to think hereafter that his suspicions were not without foundation. On the surface, nevertheless, there was only cordiality; and the preparations for the double campaign were hastened forward. The King was to cross the Channel at midsummer with from forty to fifty thousand English troops. In addition he proposed to raise a few thousand German mercenaries, under the command of a soldier of fortune, the famous or infamous Baron von Landenberg: while Francis, though he attempted to face out his position boldly, yet, as the time of danger drew near, was reported to be in the greatest anxiety; Chancellor Granvelle learnt that when alone he walked uneasily about his room, talking to himself, anticipating a second Pavia, or dethronement, or death.
Charles, on his side, so far as the world could see, was giving the clearest proofs of his determination. To carry on the war effectually he must secure the support of the Diet and the Protestant princes, who were not without secret leanings towards France, and being agitated by the presence of the Spaniards, had resolved to make use of his necessities, and to bind him down under severe conditions. The year opened ominously with an eclipse of the sun. The Diet met at Speyer at the end of January; the attendance was dense; the Elector and the Landgrave, uneasy at the treatment of Gueldres, and expecting treachery, rode into the town at the head of two hundred troopers armed to the teeth; and the session being opened as usual, with the mass of the Holy Ghost in the cathedral, the Protestant leaders significantly absented themselves, taking their places only when the religious services were completed. But Charles did not notice their attitude; he received them with outward cordiality; and, in declaring the business for which they were convoked, he observed the same cautious moderation. He complained of nothing. He accused no one. The peace of Europe and the Mahometan invasion made the substance of his address; but the Lutheran princes heard also that they were really to be allowed to discuss the vexed question of religion, and the reform of the Chamber of the Empire. The right of the Diet to meddle with religion had been as earnestly claimed by them as it had been passionately denied by the Pope. The Imperial Chamber, as the supreme court of appeal, and as governed by the traditional laws inherited from the period of an undisputed Roman supremacy, had been the chief instrument of persecution in the hands of the Catholic clergy, and the chief difficulty in the legal establishment of the Reformation.
But smooth language from the Emperor and appearances of concession were no sufficient guarantee of his intentions. He possessed in perfection the statesman's accomplishment of moving in one direction while looking in the other, and it was necessary to test his sincerity. The Duke of Brunswick had appeared in his train, and had taken his seat in the Diet. The Landgrave rose, and in his own name and the Elector's protested that Henry of Brunswick, having broken the laws of the Empire, had been deposed from his principality, and had therefore neither right nor place there. The Duke retorted; the Landgrave replied more resolutely, and, inasmuch as the Emperor in the preceding autumn had commanded the Duke's restoration, to forsake him now would be equivalent to a declared apostasy. The representatives of the Catholic States heard with dismay that their champion and martyr would not be defended. The difficulty was waived. The Emperor declared that the cause was too complicated to admit of settlement in the pressure of more urgent interests. He begged that it might be indefinitely postponed; and, to turn the current and conciliate the anti-Papal party still further, he suggested that, as a first step towards the settlement of Europe, a letter should be addressed to the Pope, by the Catholic States, requiring him to state openly the part which he intended to take in the war with France. To invite any such step was to invite them to a rupture with Rome, or so at least they understood it. Exasperated at the double blow, the Catholics replied with a direct refusal. They would do nothing, they would consent to nothing, till the rights of the Church were recognized in their integrity; till the dissolved monasteries were restored; till the Augsburg Confession ceased to be tolerated; till the ordinances of Eatisbon were repealed, and the ancient liberty of persecution reestablished.
Fury begat fury. The Protestants could rave as well as they. The Catholics would not stir for the Emperor unless they had their own way. The Protestants declared as loudly that they would vote neither men nor money for the war till the Reform of the Church had been disposed of, till they had received a definite promise for ever of religious liberty. It was a very pretty quarrel.
The combatants being once engaged, would be separated only by mutual exhaustion. The Emperor allowed the discussion to rage on far into the spring; when the exhausted tongues sank into languor, in an interval of silence he brought forward his own resolutions. It was essential for him to secure a majority in the Diet, and he was prepared to pay for it in promissory notes which might or might not be honoured at his future convenience. He decided that, until the next meeting of the Diet and the final settlement of religion, the Catholics should not be allowed either to persecute or make proselytes among the Protestants, nor the Protestants among the Catholics. The religious houses suppressed already should remain suppressed; those which were standing should remain standing. The clergy of neither profession should be molested in person or property. June 10.The Confession of Augsburg should remain a permitted declaration of faith. The laws of the Empire, when conflicting with it, should be placed in abeyance; and all decrees affecting property, hitherto given in the Chamber against the acts of the Protestant princes, should be declared null and void. The Duke of Brunswick and the Catholic princes and prelates entered their protest against a judgment which appeared to them so monstrous; but their remonstrance was not accepted: they withdrew in real or pretended indignation, and the Diet, freed from its disturbing element, was now compliant. A letter was written to the Pope. The French King was declared the enemy of the Empire, as the most ill-starred, the most wicked, dishonourable, and execrable prince who had ever reigned in Christendom. A force of eightand-twenty thousand men was voted for a six-months' campaign, to compel him to relinquish his impious confederacy, and all German subjects were forbidden to take service in his army under pain of death.
So closed this remarkable session. The Catholics had found themselves slighted and set aside. The heretics, whom they and the Pope would have sent to the stake, were in cordial co-operation with the Emperor for the defence of Christendom and the punishment of a Catholic sovereign; and Granvelle appeared so happy in the strange result, that Dr Wotton expected that he would have embraced him in his arms.
The time was now approaching which had been agreed upon for the opening of the French campaign. The inroad into Scotland had been completed, and Sir William Paget went over to make final arrangements for the movements of the two armies. On his way to Spain he passed through Brussels, where the Regent expressed her eager goodwill towards the King of England. His commission was to suggest an alteration in the original scheme of the campaign. Both Charles and Henry had been unwell in the spring; the gout had hung about the Emperor, and had made fatigue dangerous to him; while he had been himself so anxious for the health of his 'good brother,' that he had sent a special messenger to urge the importance of his life to Europe, and to warn him against exposing himself to the hardships which would be inevitable if he took the field with his army.
On considering the circumstances, Henry had concluded that the plan of the two armies marching separately on Paris had been ill-considered. The advance of a large force through an enemy's country was always a critical operation. The Emperor had already experienced the difficulty alone; and, in a combined movement, if either army was checked or delayed, the other would be in serious danger. Supposing both invasions to be successful, they might sack Paris, indeed, or hold it to ransom, but to occupy it would be impossible; and a mere act of violent destruction, followed by a retreat, would be at once useless and dishonourable. He thought it would be more rational, more prudent, and more efficacious if he himself were to remain at Calais while the Emperor moved down to some town upon his frontiers. Thirty thousand men might advance on each side under other commanders as far as safety allowed; and if Francis was to be brought to concessions by the waste of his provinces, the occupation 'was more convenable a great deal for a lieutenant than for an emperor or a king.' They themselves, meanwhile, could make the ground good, securing the strong positions as they were successively taken, and keeping their communications open with the force in advance.
The proposal was 'wisely conceived,' as the Emperor, when it was submitted to him, allowed. He could not acquiesce, however, in the belief that by going to Paris they could gain nothing except pillage or a ransom. He expected to draw the people from obedience to the King, to prevent him from raising his revenue, and, by carrying on the war in the heart of France, to make the invasion defray its own expenses. He thought it would be dangerous to divide the armies. Each power ought to advance in its full strength; and, in fact, he was pledged to the States of the Empire. They had granted money on the understanding that he would invade France in person. 'The King my brother's army,' he added, with a compliment to his ally, 'be the greatest part all of one nation, people of such obedience as will be ruled by the meanest man of his realm if he will make him his lieutenant; nothing short of his own presence could hold together the gathering of Spaniards, Italians, Walloons, Hollanders, and Lanzknechts, who would be ranged under the Imperial banners.
The Emperor's arguments might be good; but they did not prove his conclusions. It might be necessary for him to retain his army under his own control, yet he need not carry it with him to Paris. Charles, however, from some cause, was unwilling to listen. Wisely or unwisely, he was bent on the original design; and, unable to convince Paget, he sent back with him a confidential minister, M. de Courières, to England, if possible to satisfy the King.
Henry was bound by his engagement, and if the Emperor insisted on the observance of it, he must waive his own suggestions, as far as he could safely do so. It was more than ever obvious to him, however, that to march precipitately upon the French capital, leaving fortified towns in his rear to intercept his supplies, was a step which military prudence forbade. A large garrison had been thrown into Boulogne during the winter; an intrenched camp had been formed at Mottreul; and similar precautions had been taken along the frontiers of Burgundy. De Courières could not persuade him of the desirableness of leaving bodies of the enemy to close the communications in the rear of the armies. He would rather entreat the Emperor (and this was his last message) 'to weigh deeply his going to Paris, and to foresee what a great dishonour it should be for him to pass thither, and, constrained either by the power of the enemy or want of victual, to return without achieving his enterprise, considering what a great uncertainty it should be to trust upon victuals to be brought in by the subjects of the enemy, like as himself proved on his journey into Provence.' His Majesty's advice, therefore, was 'that his brother should follow his said journey as the raison de la guerre—the respect of victual and other considerations might stand together, like as his Majesty for his part was minded to do the semblable; for otherwise, conceiving to enterprise a feat, and then finding sudden empeachments by the way, there might ensue such an inconvenience as might not be easily afterwards redubbed.'
'His Majesty was minded to do the semblable.' He gave the Emperor fair warning. The raison de la guerre required the reduction of Boulogne and Mottreul before the main army could safely ascend the Somme; and as the principal part of the English troops were by this time collected at Calais, the Duke of Norfolk and Lord Russell went over at once to commence operations. The Count de Buren came in with a Flemish contingent, and being accompanied by De Rieulx, a council of war was held, to obtain the acquiescence of the Imperial general. The French force at both places was so large, that the sieges might be tedious, and might delay the advance; but the difficulty was itself a reason why the attempt must be made. De Rieulx could not deny, while he would not confess, the necessity. He raised objections to the waste of time, hut he suggested no feasible alternative; the Duke of Norfolk said at last, that he 'seemed more desirous that the King should spend his money in defence of the Emperor than for his own benefit.' The King considered that this was probably the truth, and cut short the discussion by sending orders that the two towns should be attacked without delay.
If an uncertainty had remained whether in this resolution the English were infringing the agreement, it was terminated by Charles himself, who, on the return of De Courières with the King's message, told Dr Wotton that 'he was satisfied his good brother would employ his army as should be most expedient for their common interests, and most to the annoyance of the enemy.' He was himself, indeed, following Henry's example. A division of his troops was already besieging Ligny: and afterwards, he said, he should take St Dizier, and probably Yitry, before advancing, 'to the intent that his victuals might the more surely follow him.' The friendly disagreement thus seemed to have passed away, and events were again in good train. Another difficulty arose next from the conduct of Von Landenberg. The Emperor, as well as the Landgrave,, had recommended him to Henry; and he had promised to join the camp at Calais with his Lanzknechts. The terms had been agreed upon, and half the promised wages had been paid in advance. Landenberg, having no interest in the war beyond pay or spoil, and having the advantage of partial possession, thought then that he might improve his position. When required to move, he replied quietly that he must have better conditions, or he would carry his men into France. Dr Wotton, through whom the audacious message was sent, referred it to Granvelle. The minister professed himself extremely sorry: Landenberg, however, he thought, was a desperate man, entirely likely to do what he threatened to do. The readiest plan would be to promise what he desired, and at the end of the campaign he might be hanged. This, he said, was the Emperor's method of dealing with such men. He had tried it repeatedly with excellent success.
The remedy was as little to Wotton's taste as the disease. The King, he thought, 'would be loath to entertain a man with fair words' whom he intended for the gallows. He applied to the Emperor in person.
Charles's opinion coincided with the chancellor's. The English scruples, he thought, were needlessly unreasonable. Landenberg, at all hazards, must be prevented from joining the enemy; and, considering the terms on which they stood with one another, he trusted 'his good brother would not stick at a small thing with him.' If Henry was dainty in such matters, he would himself undertake the retribution. He had old provocations of his own besides the present, which could be settled simultaneously. Wotton could but repeat his conviction that the King would never consent. It was rather for the Emperor, he thought, to use present compulsion, than for the English Government to stoop to treachery. And he had rightly anticipated Henry's feeling. Landenberg was left to enjoy the profit of his villany. The loss of money was submitted to; and it would have been well if no other consequences had followed. But the free lances, though they did not desert to France, established themselves at Liège, professing to be in the English service; and by living at free quarters at the expense of the inhabitants, created an angry difference between the Courts of London and Brussels.
Minor disputes, however, were now absorbed in the larger interests of the war. By the end of June the English army had formed the siege of Boulogne. July 14.On the 14th of July Henry crossed the Channel and took the command in person, while the Duke of Norfolk and Lord Russell passed forward and sat down before Mottreul. Ligny, on the other side, surrendered to the Emperor on the 29th of June. On the 3rd of the month following he approached St Dizier, on the Marne. St Dizier, though unimportant as a town, was strong as a military position; the fortifications had been recently increased, and the defence was entrusted to the able La Lande, who had baffled the allies in the preceding autumn at Landrecy. The invading army could not advance till it was taken: the French had neglected no precautions which would make the siege protracted. The summer was wet. Incessant rains softened the roads and filled the rivers. In spite of his preparations, the Emperor's transport service was ill-provided, and he was delayed a week under the walls before his batteries were in a condition to open fire. The bombardment commenced at last on the 12th of July. It was continued incessantly for three days; and on the morning of the 15th the attacking columns of Spaniards and Germans advanced to the attack. The former swarmed up the breach with desperate courage; but they were ill-supported: the Germans flinched and fled; the Prince of Orange was killed; the assault failed, and, after having lost six hundred of his best troops, Charles relinquished the hope of taking St Dizier by storm. Although, in a campaign which must end with the summer, time was of so much importance, he was forced to turn the siege into a blockade; and the allies being similarly detained, were each equally unable to complain of the other's delay.
August.Weeks passed on. August came; and Boulogne and St Dizier were still untaken. Meantime the French Government had not been idle. Separate agents hung about the two camps. The Bailiff of Dijon came down to St Dizier with an offer to accept Charles's terms for the settlement of Milan, with assurances that the King of England was seeking his own interests at Boulogne, and that the Emperor was free to act for himself. M. de Framozelles (he must have been despatched from Paris within a day or two of the other) carried a second autograph letter from Francis to Henry, entreating him to intercede with his ally, to whom he said he would rather die than make advances, except through his good friend and brother. If an entire pacification was possible, he would make concessions on both sides; but he indicated not obscurely that England might make its own advantages at the expense of Charles. How Charles received the message to himself will be presently seen. Henry replied that the suggestion of treachery was a reproach to his honour. He promised to use his endeavours to bring the Emperor to reasonable terms; but the condition of his interference must be plain and frank dealing. Independent proposals to himself would not, and could not, be listened to. 'Through the fault of yourself or of your ministers,' he said, 'we have been constrained to take arms against you; nor can we with any honour renew our friendship with you, unless our good brother the Emperor be first advertised thereof, and such provision as appertaineth be made likewise for him. At your request, we shall learn with diligence how he shall be disposed, and within fifteen or twenty days we trust to receive his answer; at which time, if you will send again to us, we shall reply more at large, trusting that if you be so well disposed to the weal of Christendom as you profess yourself, our endeavours shall take effect to some good purpose.'
The proposals brought by De Framozelles were immediately forwarded to the Imperial camp, with a copy of the letter of Francis, and of the King's answer. The courier reached St Dizier the third week in August. The Emperor opened the packet in Dr Wotton's presence. After reading the French King's private overtures he complained bitterly of his treachery, and, turning to the words in which they had been answered, he exclaimed, 'This is another master's doing, and written as a noble and wise prince should write. I thank my good brother that he hath such respect unto me as the amity between us doth require. I shall not fail to use myself accordingly again.' Wotton reiterated the assurance that Henry would do nothing without his consent. 'He knew it,' Charles said; he had perfect confidence that his brother would be guided in all his actions by good faith and integrity.
The French offers were then referred to Granvelle. Although more favourable to the Empire than to England—so favourable, indeed, that, if fulfilled faithfully, the minister admitted that they would be satisfactory, Henry was ready to waive his more particular expectations, and desired that they should be accepted. Granvelle, however, more zealous for England than England itself, raised difficulties in England's behalf. Francis had said he would give security for the payment of his debts; but every one knew the value of French securities. He had undertaken that the Scots should be in as much amity with England as himself. This merely implied that, as long as the French King should think it profitable to name the King's Majesty his friend, so long ' would the Scots sit still.' Experience of the French King's duplicity made confidence in his word impossible; 'the only remedy whereof was that, if agreement were made with him, the amity, nevertheless, and league between his Highness and the Emperor, should remain still so in virtue and strength, that in case the French King went about to break any part of his promise, they might be both ready to renew the war against him.'
The desirableness of such 'a remedy' as this had not been doubted. The assurance of the continuance of the feeling was, perhaps, satisfactory. August 18.A formal reply to the offers was meanwhile drawn with necessary speed, and forwarded to Boulogne by the hands of De Courières. Granvelle had dwelt to Wotton chiefly on the inadequacy of the terms granted to Henry. The King discovered with surprise and some disappointment, that the Emperor's own demands were so exorbitant as to make peace impossible. The answer 'was couched in such extremities, and so far out of the limits of the treaty,' 'that he found occasion to think that either the Emperor minded in no wise to fall to any reasonable composition, or, at the least, that if any were made,' he was not himself 'to have the handling of the same.' 'The treaty,' he rejoined, in evident perplexity, 'bindeth us at the most no further than that the Emperor may have the Duchy of Burgundy, and certain towns here in Picardy; and the articles which the ambassadors have delivered to us, as those whereupon the Emperor will rest, contain demands that himself, the Empire, the King of the Romans, the States of Italy, the commonalty of Senes, may have restitution of their damages by reason of this last war; that restitution be made unto him of the Duchy of Burgundy and the Visconty of Aussone, with all the mean profits perceived by the French King since his first possession of them; and that all other places which the French King has taken since the beginning of the war be restored, with the interests.' The Emperor he could hardly believe was serious in urging demands so preposterous. If England was expected to stipulate on behalf of its ally for conditions so far beyond the treaty, he could only reply himself by the letter of the treaty, and require on his part the payment of his debts, the expenses of the war, and the restoration of the ancient possessions of the English Crown.
With evidence before him of ambiguous dealing on the part of his confederate, he might have been pardoned, if he had at last considered his own interests. Cardinal du Bellay had come down to Hardelot Castle to receive the answer promised through De Framozelles, and had again brought powers to arrange a separate peace with England, if Henry would consent. But, though unable to comprehend the Emperor's answer, this method of escaping from his uncertainty did not occur to him.
Meantime St Dizier, after having retained Charles seven precious weeks, at last capitulated. Half the time which had been calculated for the march on Parig had been lost before a single town; and if the original intention held, not a moment could be spared. The Emperor nevertheless showed no signs of haste. He remained stationary for another ten days, while his light columns were reducing other unimportant places in the neighbourhood, and the Duke of Lorraine was passing mysteriously to and fro between the camp and Paris. August 25.On the 25th of August he advanced leisurely to Vitry, which had been taken by surprise, while the Dauphin was manœuvring in his front with a force which was every day increasing, without risking a battle. At Vitry, M. d'Annebault, who had succeeded De Bryon as high admiral, and was notorious as a partisan of the Empire, presented himself with a safe-conduct, and was admitted to an interview. When private communications were made to Henry, he invited, as we have seen, the presence of the Emperor's ambassador. Of the conferences of Charles and Gfranvelle with the Duke of Lorraine, the Bailiff of Dijon, or the admiral, so much only was known to Dr Wotton as the Emperor and his ministers were pleased from time to time to reveal. But their language, on their own representations, was tolerably satisfactory. D'Annebault had openly recommended an act of treachery. The French King, he had said, was ready to relinquish the Turks, and to make war upon them if the Emperor desired. In all points on which Charles was interested he would meet his wishes freely. ' For the King of England, let them first agree among themselves, and then they could do well enough with him if he would be reasonable. If he would not, he could be left out.' Granvelle protested that they had refused to listen. The admiral had tried to persuade them that Henry was caring only for himself, and that they were not bound to consider him; but the interview had closed without result.
Chalons now lay in the path of the army. The Dauphin's force was partly in the town, partly a few miles from it. By attacking Chalons, Charles would probably be able to force the French to accept a battle. With his army in its present condition the result could have been scarcely uncertain, and a decided victory would have cleared the road to Paris. That so late in the season he should have passed by, leaving the Dauphin unattacked, Chalons untaken, his communications broken, and his supplies cut off, was an extent of rashness which even the Provence misfortunes led no one to expect. To the surprise of every one who was not admitted to secrets of State, the Emperor immediately on D'Annebault's departure announced that this was his intention. The military insanity of the movement was evident even to the eyes of a civilian. Wotton's mind misgave him, and, although Granvelle assured him still that all was well, his uneasiness was visible in his report to the King.
August 31.A letter announcing the advance was written on the 31st of August. Sept. 6.On the 6th of September Chalons was thirty miles in Charles's rear. The Dauphin's army had closed up behind. The convoys which had followed him were interrupted; and, by an extraordinary accident, the military chest was empty. There was no pay for the soldiers, and without money the soldiers could not obtain even food. D'Annebault hung in the neighbourhood in unbroken correspondence, and 'would have offered the Emperor something reasonable,' so Wotton was next informed, but 'would not consent to satisfy the King of England.' Next came M. de Neuilly, with a proposal to pay the arrears of the English pension, 'and to show reasonable cause why it was not to be paid in time to come;' and at last, when Charles had embarrassed his army so deeply that its extrication would have been difficult, if not impossible, the French overtures assumed a definite form. Separate terms were offered, which, though falling, of course, far short of those which Charles had called on Henry to demand for him, yet answered fully the original object with which he had himself engaged in the war. Ten thousand men would immediately serve against the Turks. 'If, for increase of amity between the Courts, the Emperor would give the Princess of Spain to the Duke of Orleans, with the Low Countries, or the second daughter of Ferdinand with the Duchy of Milan (he might choose his alternative), the French King would restore to the Emperor and the Duke of Savoy the territory and towns that he held of theirs on either side of the Alps. To England he would pay the arrears of the pensions. The Emperor should decide whether he was bound to pay anything in future.' The pressure of the double alliance, the presence of the English forces, and Henry's refusal to listen to De Framozelles and Du Bellay, had alone placed these concessions within Charles's reach. No sooner were they formally made, than he sent Granvelle's son, the Bishop of Arras, with a safe-conduct across France, to say that his army was in extreme danger, that he doubted if he could save himself, and he required either that he should be allowed to make peace on the conditions which the French Government had offered, or that the siege of Boulogne and Mottreul should be immediately raised, and the whole English strength advance towards Paris.
Seeing that he had himself waited leisurely till it suited his convenience to move, that the presence of the English had locked up a large part of the available strength of France, and had therefore prevented the Dauphin from being able to relieve St Dizier, the alternative, or at least the second portion of it, could be pressed with indifferent decency. Such as the demand Sept. 11was, however, it was entrusted to Arras, and by him on the 11th of September was carried to Boulogne.
On his arrival he found the siege at the point of a successful completion. The garrison had resisted with a courage which had called out Henry's admiration. 'They fought hand to hand,' the King wrote on the 8th of the same month to the Queen, 'much manfuller than either Burgundians or Flemings would have done; such as we have of these will do no good where any danger is, nor yet abide there with their will.' But the parallels had been steadily advanced, the walls had been breached and mined in all directions, and the fall of the town had for some days been a mere question of time. While D'Annebault had been intriguing with Charles and Granvelle, Du Bellay had remained at Abbeville, still keeping open an opportunity for Henry as long as the first had remained unclosed. The two ministers were struggling in the direction of their sympathies—one to secure England, the other the Empire—and Francis was only anxious to divide the allies. Du Bellay's standing offers were to pay the arrears, to continue the pension, to pay the expenses of the war, to surrender Ardes, and, more important than all the rest, 'to cause the Scots to be ordered in reason, or to abandon them.' Henry had replied consistently that, although by treaty he might make larger demands, 'yet he had more regard to the common weal and quiet of Christendom than to his own benefit; 'he was satisfied for himself, but the Emperor must be satisfied also; and until he had received assurance to that effect, the war must continue, and the siege be pressed.
On the day that Arras entered the camp a mine exploded under the last important outwork held by the French. They were driven back, and Sept. 14three days after the town surrendered. So far, the army was set free. Mottreul, however, still held out, nor was there present prospect of its capture. It was defended by an army rather than a garrison. The lines were too extensive for the Duke of Norfolk successfully to invest it. The Netherlands transport department, so far from having been adequate to supply the army on a march into France, had broken down under the easy duty of attending upon a stationary camp but a few miles from the frontier. The English had been forced to find their own supplies from the adjoining country; and the radius within which they could be obtained was continually extending. The army suffered from sickness, and unless the enemy were in a worse condition than himself, Norfolk could not promise success before the winter. To cross the Somme was therefore as impossible as ever, and Arras was instructed to tell the Emperor that, if his situation made peace necessary to him, he had Henry's consent, provided the treaty was reserved, and the conditions of it, in all parts, remained intact. The English terms were those which had been offered by Cardinal du Bellay. If it would facilitate the Emperor's arrangement, however, he would remit the condition of the payment of expenses.
Charles had foreseen with so much clearness the impossibility of the English advance, that he had not so much as waited for the King's reply. He commenced his retreat before the return of his messenger, and if Henry had gone forward he would have found himself at Paris alone. The Imperialists reached Chasteau Thierry. At that point they turned north towards Soissons. On the nth of September, the day on which Arras reached Boulogne, a French commission formally attached itself to the army. A proclamation was issued that the soldiers should do no more injury, and peace was generally talked of. On the 14th D'Annebault came in in person. On the 17th Granvelle told Wotton that the French offered reasonable conditions; his son's delay in returning, he said, caused great embarrassment, for the army—being unpaid, and at the same time forbidden to forage—was in mutiny. Peace evidently was on the point of being concluded, with or without the English consent. Sept. 18.On the evening of the 18th Arras returned with the news of the fall of Boulogne and the King's message. If Charles was acting in good faith, he had blundered into a situation where he could plead a seeming necessity for accepting a peace which gratified his most sanguine wishes. The Bishop of Arras, to shield still further the Imperial honour, and careless what the world might think of his integrity as a messenger, assured Charles that Henry was on the point of agreement with the Cardinal du Bellay, and that he left him unfettered by conditions, except with a general reservation of the treaty, to make his own terms. The true message was altered slightly, but vitally. The King had specified the terms which he would accept; and it was as much Charles's duty to insist on them, as a condition of the peace now proposed to him, as Henry on his part had fulfilled his own duty of seeing to the interest of his ally. But the skilful farce was complete in all its parts. The French refused to hear of a conditional agreement; Sept. 19.and on the following morning, September the 19th, the Peace of Crepy, on the terms which M. de Neuilly had brought to Yitry, was concluded and signed.
Dr Wotton was invited to the presence-chamber only when all was over. The Emperor informed him that he had agreed with the French, 'reserving the league and amity with his good brother;' and that the French Government had agreed to submit their differences with England to his arbitration. The room was crowded with officers and diplomatists, talking loudly and passing in and out. 'The Emperor spoke softly, and not very intelligibly;' and when the minister pressed for a more explicit explanation, he broke off the conversation, and referred him to Granvelle. The Chancellor was in the highest spirits. But a few days had passed since the treaty with England was all-important, and the English interests of so great consequence that the war must be continued only for the sake of them. Now he said merely that the English army had not advanced, and that they could not wait. The Emperor would take care of 'his Majesty;' and in fact his Majesty had told his son that he could take care of himself. Wotton cut short his excuses, and interpreted their meaning: the Emperor had gained all that he had desired, and was at peace; the King of England was left at war, and the French would at once withdraw the terms which had been offered through Cardinal du Bellay.
A less skilful diplomatist than Wotton might have seen his way to so plain a conclusion. The open confirmation of his words arrived sooner than perhaps either he or Granvelle had anticipated, for the Dauphin's army was already on its way to recover Boulogne and drive the English into the sea. Although the news of the capture had been brought by Arras himself, the French commissioners pretended that their offer to submit to Charles's arbitration had been made before they were aware that the town, had fallen; and Charles, in unembarrassed acquiescence, permitted them to withdraw their promise.
On the secret motives of the Emperor's conduct it is dangerous to speculate. That he had broken a treaty to which he had sworn with peculiar solemnity certainly cannot be questioned; and the English Government with full justice declined to believe that a statesman of Charles's experience could suppose himself exempted from the obligations of a formal alliance by the loose delivery of a verbal message. His march to Chasteau Thierry may have been only an act of extraordinary folly; but the folly of a military commander rarely results in an advantageous peace; and the composure with which he witnessed the embarrassment into which he precipitated his ally, throws suspicion backwards over the steps which led him up to the violation of his engagements. The excuse of the siege of Boulogne was negatived by his own delay at St Dizier; his insincerity in the message which he sent through Arras was proved by his retreat before the return of a reply. Unscrupulous as Charles repeatedly showed himself, it is hard to suspect him of conscious dishonour. The responsibility of public actions is ever rested on princes; and we accuse a sovereign of treachery, of caprice, of ambition, of cruelty, when often the truth is merely that especial circumstances have given preponderance to the councils of different ministers, that the ministers represent parties in the State which it is dangerous or impossible to resist. And therefore it is that conjectures hazarded as certainties, that rash assertions of motives, are unpermitted even to contemporaries; and historians, who can recover at best little more than the husk and shell of events, are open to something more than censure when they give the value of ascertained realities to their own imaginations.
Yet, after observing the most severe caution, it is impossible, in the present instance, to conceive an explanation of Charles's conduct which would acquit him in the eyes of his ally. It is impossible to avoid contrasting his conduct with Henry's, when they were both exposed to the same temptations.
Martin du Bellay, the brother of the Cardinal, who was well acquainted with Court secrets, mentions—not in censure, but as a fact of which he had perfect knowledge—that the negotiations for the peace were really and truly commenced before the Emperor left St Dizier, at the time when both he and Granvelle were so warm in their protestations to Wotton, and when the exaggerated answer was returned to the proposals which were sent through Henry. Although Boulogne was especially defined as among the securities which England might demand for the payment of the pension, the Emperor, Du Bellay affirms, looked with alarm on the increase of strength which the possession of it would confer upon a power with which he had so lately been on the edge of an internecine war. The occupation of Boulogne in addition to Calais would ensure the command of the narrow seas. Another supposition, that Charles desired to entangle England and France in an exhausting war, that he might be at liberty to follow his own designs upon Germany, reflects scarcely less discredit upon him. At the close of the Diet of Spires he expressed himself in terms of the most confidential affection to the Landgrave; and if he was then meditating treachery, Philip II. was a bungler in deception compared with his father.
It is certainly possible that, at St Dizier, the desertion of England was deliberately contemplated, that the advance into France was the result of a secret understanding with D'Annebault, and that the object of the apparent rashness was to place the army deliberately in a position where Charles might plead necessity for the desertion of his ally. The danger of such a movement was not so great as it might seem, for the good faith of Henry might be relied upon with certainty; and as long as France was at war with England, the Emperor might calculate on separate terms whenever he pleased to accept them.
Another explanation may be suggested, however, which, if less simple, reflects upon his character with less fatal weight. Charles V. was a singular mixture of the statesman, the soldier, and the devotee. The spirits of the three professions alternately took possession of him; and his periods of superstition, as he grew older, recurred more frequently, and were more tenacious in their hold. In the letters of ambassadors from his Court during the last years, the Emperor was repeatedly said to be 'in retreat.' For a day or for a week he would relinquish public business, and retire into a monastery for meditation; and although as a politician he was impelled into toleration of the Protestants, and urged into alliances which the Church could neither encourage nor excuse, yet heresy, as such, was every day becoming more hateful to him; and he had flattered himself, perhaps really, that, in connecting himself with England, he might recover the King to the faith. The Diet of Spires must have taught him both the strength and the obstinacy of the Lutheran States. His experience of Henry, in the closer intimacy which had followed the treaty, could not have been more reassuring; it is easy to understand, therefore, that his position must have been more than painful; and that his inward thoughts, and the language which he was obliged to affect, may have been unavoidably at considerable variance. If this be a true account of the state of his mind, we may imagine how he was likely to have been affected by a letter which, on the 25th of August, immediately before those movements which there is so much difficulty in explaining, he received from the Pope.
'We have heard,' wrote Paul, 'of the decrees of the late Diet at Spires, and neither the duty of our office nor the affection which we bear to your person will permit us to remain any longer silent. We remember the fate of Eli, whom God punished for neglecting to warn his children: we must avoid for ourselves incurring a similar peril. Your Majesty is imperilling your own soul; you are bringing destruction upon the Christian faith. We exhort you to return to the ways of your ancestors, and submit yourself to the judgment of Holy Church. Your late edicts, the words which you are reported to have used on the assembly of a national German council, prove that you no longer pay respect to him who alone may summon councils, who alone may pronounce sentence in questions of faith. You have allowed private persons—men who are openly noted of heresy—to utter their opinions in public. You have permitted the title of the Church to her estates to be treated as uncertain; and, slighting the advices of those who have remained obedient, you have restored to honour and dignity excommunicated apostates whom once, with your own lips, you condemned. We cannot believe that these hateful measures had their origin with your Majesty. You have been led astray by bad councillors, enemies of the Church. We tremble for you—we tremble for you when we think of that wicked one with whom you have committed yourself to an alliance. Remember the words of the apostle on the danger of evil communications. You can make excuses—we doubt it not. Never yet was there conduct so flagitious that palliation could not be found to disguise it. But examine the Scriptures. See there the vengeance which alighted upon those who usurped the functions of the high priest. In a private household every member has his allotted place. In the House of God every Christian has his allotted function. The servant may not rise against his master; and in the Church the master is the priest. What is the lesson of the story of Uzzah? Uzzah might have thought his act was innocent when no Levite was present; but God would not have it so. Do not you, like Uzzah, take on yourself the omce of the priest at the bidding of self-made reformers. Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, the reformers of the old Church, were swallowed up alive in the earth. Uzziah was a good prince, but he offered incense on the altar, and was smitten with leprosy.
'To the clergy alone Almighty God has given power to bind and to loose. It is a vain excuse that your edicts are but for a time—that you wait for a council. You have meddled with things which are not yours to touch. Wicked men may be among priests, but God alone may punish them; and ever in history it has been seen that those princes only have prospered who have paid honour to the Church, and have respected the rights of the holy priesthood—princes such as Constantine was, as Theodosius was, as Charlemagne was.
'For the rest, we will not speak now of Nero, of Domitian, or of the persecutors—but princes in later times have set themselves in opposition to the Popes, and what has been their fate? Anastasius, Maurice, Henry IV., Frederick II., have borne witness, all of them, in their miserable ends, to the truth and power of the Almighty. Bad sovereigns, it may be, have sometimes seemed to prosper, in the opinion of the Fathers, lest, if all men were to suffer their just deserts in this world, it might be thought that there was no retribution elsewhere. But the heaviest judgment is the permission to sin and to appear to prosper. May your Majesty beware in time: you as yet are not given over to evil, but tremble at the future which may await you. Take example from Constantine, who, when desired to arbitrate among the bishops, refused to judge those who had power to judge all men. You desire a reformation in the Church. It is well. But your place is to assist, not to originate. We, too, desire reformation. We have laboured for a council—God knows how earnestly. We have failed; but we shall persevere. A council alone will heal the wounds of Christendom; and for a council there must be peace, which we implore your Majesty to grant. You have been our dearest child: as a tender parent, we counsel you for your own good. Assume to yourself no functions which do not belong to you. Forbid the Diet of the Empire to touch questions which only the successor of St Peter may resolve. Bespect the sacredness of the property of the Church. Lay down your arms, and refer your quarrel with France to the arbitration of the council. Revoke your concessions, or—cost us what it may—we must ourselves come forward, armed with the authority which God has given us, and act towards you as we shall regret that you have compelled us to act. We for ourselves shall at least have escaped the crime of Eli; and for yourself consider whether you will assist the efforts of the Father of Christendom to re-establish order and tranquillity, or lend yourself to those whose labour is to rend in pieces the Church of God.'
To the arguments of this letter no one who desired to retain the name of a Catholic prince could reply; and arriving at a moment when the admonitions which it contained coincided with the suggestions of interest, it may well have persuaded the Emperor that he might lawfully pursue a line of action which worldly honour might condemn, but religion would emphatically approve. The Pope and the Catholic ministers by whom Charles was surrounded would have replied, if interrogated on the point of conscience, that, as it was a sin to enter an alliance with England, so it was a duty to break from it even at the expense of perjury. The Catholic world must have united in the same conclusion, in proportion to the earnestness and consistency with which they adhered to their faith; and though Charles may have left St Dizier with no settled resolution, he may have arrived at conviction before he reached Chasteau Thierry.
At any rate, this is indisputable, that, from the peace of Crêpy onward, the Emperor's conduct towards the Reformation on the Continent became consistently hostile; and although under fresh provocation from France he again coquetted with England, and even renewed the treaty which he had broken, he allowed the differences with Henry which followed his present desertion to be pressed to the very edge of a war.
While Charles was enjoying his success, and withdrawing at his leisure into Flanders, the English, whose dull consciences were unskilled in nice distinctions, at first took refuge in incredulity. Even the Count de Buren exclaimed that, if his master 'had compounded his causes without the King's Majesty, par sang de Dieu he would never after wear harness in his service;' and Henry, who knew the terms of the message which he had sent, would not credit his ally with treachery while it was possible to doubt. But the necessary proof was not long in arriving. The Emperor being at peace with France, his subjects might no longer bear arms against it; and Count de Buren was ordered to withdraw with the Netherlands division from before Mottreul. The Dauphin was reported to be coming down with forced marches to the coast; and four thousand fresh troops, which were coming from England at the beginning of September, and had been countermanded at the capture of Boulogne, were now sent for in haste. The Duke of Norfolk, being weakened by the defection of the Netherlanders, and being liable to be cut off by the advance of the French, raised the siege of Mottreul, and fell back.
The change in the state of affairs, as well as the condition of his health, required the King's presence in England. He crossed to Dover on the 3oth of September, and a meeting was held instantly of the privy council, in which it was agreed to send a remonstrance to Charles, October.and call upon him, since he admitted that the treaty was still in force, to unite in insisting that France should abide by the terms which she had offered to England.
Henry's absence from the scene almost occasioned the loss of the one advantage which the English had gained. Norfolk had been ordered to occupy the heights behind the town, where the English army had spent the summer, and to remain there while the Dauphin was in the field. Either through timidity or mistake, he only left three thousand men and a party of pioneers under Sir Edward Poynings behind the half-repaired fortifications which had been destroyed in the siege, and retired within the Calais Pale. Irritated beyond measure at a disobedience which imperilled the only compensating feature in his position, Henry wrote the most angry letter which survives of his composition. 'He marvelled how Norfolk had durst so to do without knowledge of his pleasure'—'excuse there was none.' He must return without a moment's delay to the position which he had been commanded to hold. Unluckily, the King might order, but the mischief was done, and obedience was no longer possible. Between Calais and Boulogne the Dauphin now lay with fifty thousand men, horse and foot. Norfolk had but eight thousand remaining; and Boulogne must be left to the courage of the little band to whom it had been entrusted. The letter in which the Duke stated his inability to repair his error was written on the yth of October. October 9At midnight on the 9th a party of French made their way through the ruins of the walls of the lower town, wearing white shirts over their armour, to imitate the smock frocks of the English labourers. When the alarm was given they raised the English cry of 'Bows! bows!' and in the confusion, and protected by their disguise, they killed the sentinels and threw open the gates. Poynings, with the efficient portion of the garrison, was in the fortress on the higher ground. To meet the French were only the camp-followers, servants, and workmen, half-armed, encumbered with the disorder which had followed the siege, amidst stores freshly landed from England, spoils waiting to be removed, carts, waggons, the baggage of the army which had gone home, filling the streets and the quays. The enemy thronged in, at first meeting no opposition; they killed every one that they could find, and supposing that the garrison had not dared to encounter them, and had fled, they dispersed in search of pillage. Meantime the English had collected under the fortress; the alarm was given; arms were thrown out to them by the troops, and they swung back down the hill into the press. The French in turn were now surprised. They were scattered in small parties, and cut in pieces in all directions. M. de Fougerolles, who had led the attack, was killed, and they were unable to make an effective rally before Poynings, with the regular troops, was upon them. There was then a general rush for the walls and gates. Eight hundred fell before they could extricate themselves in the darkness, and the rest made their way to the Dauphin's camp, complaining that they had been betrayed. The Dauphin was furious at their carelessness. De Monluc, one of the French generals, accused the Dauphin of cowardice. The night passed in recrimination. In the morning they determined to repair their failure by a general assault.
But though the fortifications were still unrepaired, the English had not been idle in their three weeks of possession. The heavy guns which they had used in the siege had been mounted on the ramparts. Fresh cannon had been landed, which had been sent from Dover; and when the French army, which had come down in haste, with only their arms and horses, and were wholly without Artillery, saw in the daylight the reception which was waiting them, they hung back irresolute. The Dauphin, smarting under the taunts of De Monluc, would have gone forward at all hazards; but his hot blood was cooled by more prudent counsels. Leaving Boulogne, they made a dash at Guisnes, where they failed also; and they withdrew to return more efficiently provided, when the insolent Islanders were to be annihilated.
The first burst of the onset had thus passed over. The English still held their acquisition, and for the present were likely to hold it. Norfolk was forgiven, though it would have gone hardly with him had the attack been successful; and reinforcements, provisions, and all other necessary materials were sent across in haste, to assist Poynings to prepare for the siege which would inevitably be attempted in the winter
The Emperor had trusted that Boulogne would have been recaptured; having been thus freed from his principal alarm, he might then have interposed to secure for England some peace not wholly ignominious. It had now become necessary for him to keep up appearances in another way, or he must relinquish the pretence of adhering to the treaty. It was arranged, therefore, that a conference should take place at Calais, in which Lord Hertford, Sir William Paget, and Gardiner, on behalf of the English, the Cardinal du Bellay and the President of Rouen for France, and De Courieres and the Bishop of Arras for the Empire, should attempt to bring about an arrangement. Henry still persuaded himself that Charles had not been consciously treacherous, that he had really made peace from necessity, and that, if he was playing false, it must be with France rather than himself. Rumours, indeed, reached him that Francis had been offered the assistance of a Spanish force. He heard from good authority that, in a conversation with Cardinal Tournon and D'Annebault, the Emperor had described 'the English conditions as importable.' But his own sense of honour was credulous of the honour of others; he attributed the words to Tournon, and 'marvelled rather that the Emperor did not answer' that the conditions were short of those which Francis had himself proposed, and which the King might have accepted had he consulted his separate interests. Charles, on the other hand, was profuse in his expressions of goodwill to Wotton; he professed himself most anxious for peace—most desirous to forward it: at the same time, though he did not avow, yet he did not conceal, his desire that Boulogne should be restored; the French insisted on it, he said; if it was refused, no terms could be accepted; they were bringing up their whole naval force; they would command the Channel; they would invest the town by land and sea; he had told them that the English would hold their ground; but he gave no hint that he would himself move to assist them in doing so.
October 18.On the 18th of October the Calais conference opened, while the Dauphin's army, still twenty-six thousand strong, hovered at Mottreul, and threatened to return to the attack if the negotiations came to nothing. The Duke of Norfolk, in a preliminary interview with Arras, informed him of the resolutions in which England would persist, and of their expectations under the treaty. 'We took it,' he warned the Bishop, 'that, if leagues were of force and strength, like as the French King sued apart to the Emperor, fearing both princes' powers, so must he now sue to the King's Majesty, fearing both princes' powers; and if the Emperor would not maintain them, they would have cause to complain to the world of faith and leagues as justly as ever men did.' The representatives of the three powers then assembled, and Cardinal du Bellay required a statement of the English demands. They were simple, being a repetition of the terms which he had brought himself five weeks previously from Paris, with the addition of a retention of their conquest as a security for their debt. But five weeks had made other differences besides the capture of a French town. 'Then was then,' the French commissioners frankly answered, 'and now is now.' If they pleased, they might dispute the pensions; and, for 'damages of war,' it was they, whose country had been invaded, whose towns had been assaulted, whose villages had been wasted, that had most right to ask for 'damages.' But in the interests of Europe they would consent to waive the letter of their last claims. They would admit their debts, and they would pay them; but that should be their last and only concession. No inch of French ground should be surrendered. In Scotland they would act as they pleased, and would not listen to dictation. Let the English evacuate Boulogne on the instant, and they should have their money. If they refused, the Dauphin would take it by force, and they should have nothing.
The Peace of Crêpy was bearing fruit. Paget said calmly that Boulogne belonged to England for the present by right of conquest; they meant to keep it, and by the Emperor's help they would keep it. He appealed to the Bishop of Arras. But Arras 'had no commission,' and would say nothing. Arras was sent to bring about a peace with France, not to discuss the obligations of other powers. The French felt their ground firm; they again clamoured for restitution, and 'they bragged of their force of thirty thousand men.'
What were the English to do? If the question had been merely whether the possession of a second fortress in France, in addition to Calais, was worth the continuance of the war—although as a naval station, and as a material guarantee for the settlement of other differences, the occupation was of no slight value to them—it might have been doubted whether the advantages were worth the price which they might cost. But the point of the matter was rather whether England, engaged in a mortal duel with the Papacy, could afford to make a confession of weakness to the world, and submit to be the dupe of a trick which the nation was too feeble to resent. It was emphatically certain that they could not. If the Emperor would not stand by them, it seemed rather that they must show that they could stand themselves without his assistance. If he would break his faith, he might do so; 'but, when all friendship should fail,' the English commissioners replied, 'there was not a man within the realm of England but would spend all that ever he had, and adventure his person withal, towards the defence and keeping of Boulogne.'
The resolution was definitive. There would be no yielding, and the French rose to depart. It was decided, on second thoughts, that, before the conference closed finally, there should be a reference on both sides to Paris and London; but peace appeared impossible. During the interval which followed, Du Bellay, being under the impression that the English were still deceiving themselves with expectations from Charles V., sought a private interview with Paget, and lifted a corner of the veil which covered the mystery of Crêpy. The Pope, he said, had laboured with all his efforts to prevent even the present conference, and had offered to spend the jewels in his crown in the maintenance of the quarrel. The Emperor was treacherous to the core. He had already secretly agreed with Paul for a general council to open at Trent in the spring; and the first act of that council would be to summon the King of England to appear by his representatives, and if he refused, to declare him contumacious. And here Du Bellay, as Paget informed the King, 'went about at length to blaspheme the Emperor, telling many discourses how he had deceived all the world, and how he would eftsoons deceive your Majesty, and that he would lose his life if the Emperor ever entered again into the war for your pleasure.' But the truth, if this was the truth, could make no difference. After a few days' delay, answers came from the two Governments. The French commissioners were instructed to break up the conference. Henry, through the Duke of Norfolk, sent over his own resolutions in language not conciliatory. 'The Duke,' he wrote, 'shall answer to the Cardinal du Bellay's saying that his master would have Boulogne rendered unto him again, or else if he won it by force he would pay neither pensions nor arrears—thus: 'Thinketh he that the King's Majesty is so inferior to his master that his Highness dare not contrary to his will? that his Majesty is so afeared with his threats that his Highness would obey thereto? He may stand so in his own conceit; but by all the journeys which his Majesty or his lieutenants have made hitherto into France, it hath never showed so, nor his Majesty trusted never shall. It shall be a dear Boulogne to him an he recover it for all his brags.''
The Emperor's intentions should now be ascertained with distinctness. Of all the English ministers Gardiner was most interested in those intentions. The alliance had been the triumph of his policy; if it fell through, his influence at home, already waning, would be lost utterly. Gardiner, therefore, was permitted to go from Calais to Brussels, and to learn Charles's meaning from his own lips. The apology for the peace had been the supposed consent of Henry through the Bishop of Arras; but even by the Bishop's story the maintenance of the treaty had been a condition of that consent; and the French, by their recent attack on Guisnes, had created one of the contingencies for which the treaty definitely provided. The Emperor, therefore, it was thought, would be forced to declare himself; and Henry wrote to him with his own hand, assuring him that, as to Boulogne, even if he would himself surrender it, his subjects would not consent; and entreating him, for the sake of their friendship, not to trifle with him, but to speak the truth, whatever the truth was to be.
October 27.The result of the first interview with Charles and his minister was reported on the 27th of October. The Bishop of Winchester, as a partial check upon his tendencies, had been accompanied by Hertford.
They found the Emperor himself apparently frank. They read over the terms of the alliance, which, as they said, were 'so open and so express, as he that could but read and understand language could not mistake them;' and the Emperor, though he admitted that, having made peace with France, he would be glad to remain quiet, yet allowed that 'his first faith was to his good brother, and that he would not break.' The difficulty was about Boulogne. He could not ask Henry to surrender it; and yet he trusted 'that a way might be found.' Granvelle would go into details with them; and whatever the treaty should require of him, he would observe without fail. Both words and manner were reassuring. They hastened to the minister, who showed them the reverse of the page. They spoke again of the treaty; Granvelle met them with eager promptness, and snapped the strongest clauses, as the Jewish hero broke the new cords with which his mistress had bound him. The league, he said, was conditional; and by remaining at Boulogne Henry had broken the terms. It was to last only till both parties were content; and his son of Arras was positive that Henry had declared himself content. The attack on Guisnes was but a part of the attempt on Boulogne; and the Emperor was not to go to war to make conquests for England. He was asked if he thought it likely 'that the King of England should have been content that the Emperor should have the commodity of war, and let his Highness shift.' 'My son of Arras' was again the referee, from whom he admitted no appeal. The English envoys were not without experience in diplomatic legerdemain; but so daring a practitioner was new to them. M. de Granvelle then considered, they said, that it was becoming and proper 'that, after so great treasure spent, with the travail of his Highness's person, the Emperor, his confederate, enjoying a triumphant peace concluded with hostages, his Highness should be forced to fall to entreaty, and say, 'I pray you let me have somewhat.' If his object was to find a loophole, 'whereby to declare the Emperor discharged,' they desired him to say so in plain words. They would not undertake to commend his honesty; but the truth under any form would be welcome to them.
'Hereat,' they reported, 'M. de Granvelle seemed somewhat moved, and said it was not the fashion of that Court to speak so.' But they could extract nothing from him; at every point where they fastened a hold he escaped into generalities, doubts, uncertainties, and 'my son of Arras;' he would see what was to be done; or the Emperor would see; they should have their answer in a few days.
A week passed and they were again sent for. The treaty, they were informed briefly, had been carefully considered, and was found to carry with it no such obligations as the English pretended. The Emperor would observe to the letter his duties to the King of England; but, having made peace with France, with his good brother's consent, it could in no sense be a duty to return to a state of war; and therefore he must not, and would not. Gardiner's hopes had received their death- stroke; he must prepare for the now inevitable consequences.
By this time the approach of the Council of Trent was known to be a certainty. Special letters of invitation had been addressed by Paul to the Emperor and the King of France. Charles had promised to be present in person: he had undertaken, if possible, to bring Francis with him; and had assured himself and the Pope of the consent of 'all Christian princes except the King of England.' Whether force or treachery would be employed towards the Germans had not as yet been made manifest; but they, too, as well as England, had caught the alarm. Their instincts taught them that the Peace of Crêpy was no gratuitous treachery; that the unscrupulousness which had broken the English treaty would as little regard the promises of Speyer; and the keener-sighted among them were feeling acutely that the friends of the Reformation might not be divided by minor differences, that they must forget the divorce of Anne of Cleves, and again, if possible, attach themselves to Henry. In the course of October the Landgrave spoke confidentially to Christopher Mont. Mont wrote to Paget at Calais; and Paget was sufficiently aware of Henry's disposition to be not only able to reply favourably as to a general amity, but to add that, if the attempt which had failed in 1538 to come to an agreement in matters of religion, were now renewed, it would perhaps have a different result. Gardiner saw it all. The future rose before him ominous of evil. The spirit of Cromwell was reviving; and heresy would be once more in the ascendant. November.To avert so frightful a calamity, he made a last and a remarkable effort. The Bishop of Arras was the person most responsible for the present complications. If the Bishop could be prevailed upon to tell the truth, his father and the Emperor would lose their excuse, and would be forced back, in spite of themselves, to Henry's side. With a hope which he perhaps was fond enough to believe might be fulfilled, he wrote therefore the ensuing letter:—
'Right Reverend Lord—
'Unwilling as I am to enter in private upon public subjects, yet our last conference has so afflicted me, that, to relieve the sorrow of my heart, I address myself to you, a bishop to a bishop, and I trust that your goodness will forgive me. At all times I have been zealous above most men for the honour and good name of the Emperor, an honour hitherto spotless in its purity, yet now, I know not through what misfortune, tarnished by those who ought to have been its especial defenders. The Emperor's honour, I say, is compromised so long as we, to whom you are bound with so many ties, are left single-handed in this war; and do you think that so fair an opportunity will be passed over by those who, in their eagerness to calumniate him, have stooped to falsehood? The Emperor himself, I am well assured, would never have broken his faith and perilled his soul to gain the whole world. He is prudent. He may shrink from labour and expense which he may decline without dishonour; and so far none will blame him. But he is under an error, and the error is one for which men say that you are responsible. You will be charged with having broken an alliance between two honourable princes by your unworthy manœuvres. Bear with me. I do but tell you in private what others will proclaim in the streets. You came to us to learn our demands; and when you told us of the embarrassment of the Emperor, the King's Majesty was contented, for his friend's convenience, to relinquish many claims which in fairness he might have urged. Our conditions were detailed to you, and you were told that the Emperor might arrange his own; but we stipulated for adherence to the treaty. His Highness, you were directed to say, was not unwilling for a peace, but with conditions which you cannot deny. I require you, therefore, to say whether, in the face of a treaty which declares the satisfaction of the King's Majesty a preliminary of any peace which either of the contracting powers may enter, which prescribes special terms of satisfaction—although his Highness was contented, for the sake of amity, to relax those terms—you can pretend that it is with his Majesty's consent that he finds himself thus left alone. You profess to have reported his very expressions; but your father has taken so many of those expressions as make for his convenience, and, incredible and absurd as they are if divided from the remainder of the message, he claims in them a justification of his own and his master's conduct. I marvel he is not ashamed so to trifle with your master's credit as to make you responsible for a story which all men know to be a lie, which we, for our own sake, are bound to expose and protest against. Sorry am I, for the credit of our order, that you should have borne a part in this farce at a time when, if there be a knavish action performed anywhere, a bishop is ever suspected of having played a chief hand in it.'
Gardiner could lay on the lash; but also Arras could endure without flinching. The council met again and again to listen to the protests of the ambassadors, but Arras gave no sign, and Granvelle received the thrusts which were aimed at him with impenetrable indifference. Nov. 14.'They thought,' and 'they believed,' and 'they would consider.' 'Consider!' Gardiner at last passionately exclaimed, 'if you would consider well, the Emperor has more hurt from you than the King of England. The King is spending only his treasure, which is reparable. The Emperor is spending his honour and credit, which is not reparable.' 'We bade them good night,' he wrote in a letter to England, 'as academics that would neither say yea nor nay, with purpose when we come to the Emperor to tell him a very plain tale.'
The Bishop and Hertford had been directed to take their last answer only from Charles. Nov. 17.An interview which they resolved to make decisive was conceded, and three days later they were received in his private apartments. He had been suffering from a return of gout, and when they entered he 'was sitting in a low chair with his legs wrapped in a cloth.' Men who play for high stakes in life know the value of simplicity in common things; and Charles, like Augustus Cæsar, in his private intercourse, exchanged the monarch for the well-bred gentleman. The Viceroy of Sicily and M. du Praet came in with the English, The Emperor was full of courtesy; he 'devised familiarly on his disease;' and Du Praet being a fellow-sufferer, 'the Emperor smiled upon him and bade him take a stool and sit down, for no one should see him.' He then 'fashioned himself' to hear what Gardiner and Hertford had to say.
They went at length over the often-trodden ground. They complained of Granvelle, whose language, they said, touched the Emperor's honour. They tried to have confidence in himself, but they knew not what to think; and Hertford, without betraying names, mentioned the words which Cardinal du Bellay had used to Paget.
Charles replied, and with extreme graciousness. He professed his deep regard for the King. There had been matters between them, it was true, in time past, which, in other hands than his, might have caused displeasure; but he had put them aside; and now, he should have thought, his goodwill could scarcely be suspected. He had examined the treaty, and he seemed to admit that there was a kind of force in it. But it was now winter. If he declared war as they desired, he could not move till the spring; while at present, as a friend of France, he could use his intercession to some advantage. Compared to Charles, what a novice in diplomacy was Granvelle! The envoys had come full of indignation, and resolute to force an answer clear and positive. The courteous manner disarmed their attacks; the evasion was so delicate, that it could not offend. At such a season, as the Emperor suggested, the delay of a few weeks was of no importance; and it was hinted that the French were slower than they ought to have been in evacuating the towns in Savoy. On the whole, it seemed better to the Bishop of Winchester—still clinging to the skirts of his vanishing dream—'to depart with a dark answer than with a clear resolution,' if an unfavourable one. The interview closed as the rest had closed—not, however, without a few plain words, for which we may perhaps credit Lord Hertford.
'They desired the Emperor to consider the matter, and to remember that his Majesty was a prince of knowledge and of courage, who, upon confidence of the Emperor's amity, had entered the war with a marvellous charge. Hitherto the treaty had served the Emperor's purpose, and now it was reason his Majesty had some commodity by it; and if it was not regarded now, it would never be regarded. And how that would wound his Majesty's heart, and the hearts of his Highness's subjects likewise, it was good to be considered, and with speed. England had stood the Emperor in good stead. Let the Emperor order England so as it might do so again. The world of itself was changeable, and he had to do with a people that had changed with him often.'
The circulars for the Council of Trent had meanwhile been sent round among the higher clergy. The unwearied Pope began again to weave a league against England; December.and in the first week in December a war was talked of in the Netherlands, which events seemed as if they might easily precipitate. Charles's Catholic subjects, who wished well to France, had fitted out ships in the Scheldt, and carried stores into the French harbours. French merchants had hired Flemish ships to carry on their trade, covering their cargoes under a neutral flag. The English privateers held themselves at liberty to enforce blockades, under pain of confiscation, and seize enemies' goods wherever they could find them. Sixteen or seventeen vessels belonging to Antwerp were brought into Dartmouth and Fowey, and condemned. The owners were furious, and clamoured for reprisals. Simultaneously the Inquisition began its work in the Low Countries. Prohibitory edicts were issued. Heretics began again to be hunted out, seized, and burnt. Even to common observers the situation revealed its meaning. It was time for all who intended to escape from being crushed by the Papacy to look about them. Mont's letter from Germany, and Paget's answer, were followed speedily by positive advances. The princes of the Smalcaldic League aroused themselves to a sense of their peril. Francis was said to have vowed revenge for the grant of aid in the war by the Diet. The fate of the Duke of Cleves taught them what to expect from Charles if he really intended to deceive them. An alliance with England was the best hope for themselves and for their cause. Maurice of Saxe sent offers to take service under Henry against France. The Landgrave more positively undertook to join him with twelve thousand men. Henry replied to them both, with an eager welcome as soldiers; and he confirmed the hope that a deeper union was no longer impossible. In England, as well as Germany, it is likely that principle was quickened by self-interest. The Protestant Alliance was the invariable resource when the attitude of the Empire was ambiguous. Yet that Henry was prepared to accept a further progress in the Reformation, as forced upon him by Charles's treachery, the following message, which he addressed through Mont to Prince Maurice and the Landgrave, may be allowed to prove:—
Albeit, heretofore, certain commissioners of both parties assembled together, and being without respect one to another's policy, and more earnest and vehement in some points on both sides than was requisite, they departed without any such conclusion as with some indifferent handling might have succeeded, to the ensured conjunction and amity of both us and our dominions, and the universal weal and quiet of all Christendom, you,' the King said to Mont, 'shall say that, of this entry and beginning again you trust to see some good effect succeed of these matters, wherein no nations of Christendom be so like to agree as we be … having one certain enemy the Bishop of Rome, and being both of such a zeal as, if they would grow to some good moderation, and address some good men and well learned to talk and confer again in the matters of religion, with commissioners to be appointed for our part—either party somewhat relenting from extremities, and framing themselves to a godly indifferency and moderation—the agreement and conclusion must needs ensue of the said meeting, which hitherto hath been so often desired, to the glory and honour of God and His word, the establishment of a perfect amity between us, and to the terrour of others which have always, and yet do still continually travail and practise to hinder and impeach the same.' The promise of union was again fair: again it was fated to fail.
- Matthews's name is supposed to have been fictitious. There is no real difference between his version and that of Coverdale.
- 34 and 35 Henry VIII. cap. 1.
- The following curious memorial survives of the reception of the Act among the people. A shepherd bought a book of Polydore Virgil's, and wrote upon a spare leaf, 'When I kepe Mr Letymers shepe, I bout this boke when the Testament was oberragated, that shepeheryds might not rede it I prey God amende that blyndenes.' 'Writ by Robert Wyllyams, kepping shepe uyon Seynbury Hill, 1546.'—Lewis's History of the Bible, p. 150.
- The story of Cranmer's danger and escape is familiar to us through Shakspeake's Henry the Eighth, and is related at length in Strype's Biography. The general outline is no doubt correct. Unfortunately I have been unable to discover a contemporary authority which will allow me to place confidence in the details, or to repeat them.
- Hall's Chronicle; Foxe, vol. v.
- 35 Henry VIII. cap. 5.
- 'Further, ye shall receive herewith four books of the Institution of a Christian Man, set forth first in English by the King's Majesty, with the advice of his learned men for the establishment of Christian religion amongst his Highness's subjects, and now lately translated into Latin. And for as much as it is thought that at this assembly [the Diet at Spires] matters of religion shall be diversely debated of sundry men, his Highness hath thought convenient to send the said books unto you to the intent it might appear to the Emperor how conformable to Christ's doctrine the learning is which his Majesty hath ordained to be taught.'—The Privy Council to Wotton: State Papers, vol. ix. p. 615. 'M. de Granvelle received the book thankfully,' and said it should be his daily study after supper; for all the rest of the day he never had any rest or leisure.'—Wotton to Henry VIII.: ibid. p. 624.
- 35 Henry VIII. cap. 12. I confess myself unable to see the impropriety of this proceeding, or to understand the censures which historians have so freely lavished upon it: unless, indeed, they have believed that all wars in any generation but their own are necessarily unjust, and all taxation tyranny; or have believed that the Parliament was generous to the King at the expense of a limited number of credulous and injured capitalists. On a question of taxation, the proof of contemporary complaint is the only justification of historical disapprobation.
- 28 Henry VIII. cap. 7.
- 35 Henry VIII. cap. 1.
- State Papers, vol. v. pp. 355–359
- Calderwood's History of the Church of Scotland, vol. i.; Knox's History of the Reformation.
- Knox: History of the Reformation.
- State Papers, vol. v. p. 361, &c.
- The Privy Council to Wotton: ibid. vol. ix. p. 577.
- 'If the Emperor declare the Scots common enemies, then, although the King's Highness might bring the Scots to that point that he might have an honourable peace and to his advantage with them, yet the Emperor for envy, or for because he would not have the King's Highness too strong or too sure on that side, would find out any coloured cavillation why to dissent from any article of the said peace, then should it take none effect.'—Wotton to Henry VIII.: State Papers, vol. ix. p. 602.
- 'Granvelle told me,' Wotton wrote to the King in cypher on the 20th February, 'for a great secret, that the French King with his council have concluded that the Scots shall make a fair face to your Majesty, and bear you in hand and promise that they will deliver the Queen Dowager and her daughter into your hands; howbeit, when it shall come to the point, they shall do clear contrary: and that the Duke of Guise should then say he was contented that the Scots should say so; but rather than she should be so delivered, he would cut her throat with his own hands.'—Ibid. p. 603.
- Layton to Henry VIII.: ibid, p. 606.
- Angus and Cassilis were originally included, 'but upon knowledge of the manifest appearance of the untrue and disloyal behaviour of the Earl of Angus, and also the disloyal revolt and untruth, contrary to all men's expectations, of the Earl of Cassilis giving himself to the part of the Earl of Arran and the Cardinal,' the King refused to place further confidence in them.—State Papers, vol. v. p. 385. Cassilis afterwards cleared himself. The Cardinal had arrested him under suspicion of correspondence with the English.
- State Papers, vol. v. p. 365. 'If,' he added, 'our said niece and he, seeing one another, shall agree and well like for that purpose, we shall agree to such order touching the said marriage as shall he to the Earl's contentation.'—Ibid, p. 389.
- Henry VIII. to the Earl of Angus: Haines' State Papers, vol. i. p. 19.
- Paget to Hertford: ibid. p. 12.
- State Papers, vol. v. p. 384.
- The ordinary rules of conduct will not, and cannot, act as a restraint upon minds possessed with religious passion, whatever be their religious opinions. The higher obligation supersedes and dispenses with the lower. The plots to murder Elizabeth and William of Orange received the sanction of the Popes; a medal, struck at Rome, commemorated the massacre of St Bartholomew; and the Powder-plot conspirators were conscious only that they were attempting a sacred duty. It is startling, however, to find Sir Thomas More applying the principle of assassination to ordinary war: and if not justifying the actual perpetrators of murder, yet defending their employment by others. His words are curious, and, as coming from a man whose conscience was punctiliously sensitive, they may explain many obscure passages in the history of the sixteenth century. 'As soon,' he says, 'as they (the Utopians) declare war, they take care to have a great many schedules sealed with their common seal affixed in the most conspicuous places of their enemies' country. In these they promise great rewards to such as shall kill the prince, and less in proportion to such as shall kill any other persons who are those on whom, next to the prince himself, they cast the chief blame of the war. The rewards which they offer are immeasurably great, and they observe the promises which they make of this kind most religiously. They very much approve of the way of corrupting their enemies, though it appears to others to be base and cruel. But they look at it as a wise course to make an end of what would be otherwise a long war without so much as hazarding a battle; they think it, likewise, an act of mercy and love to mankind to prevent the great slaughter of those that must be killed in the progress of the war by the death of a few that are most guilty.'—More's Utopia; Burnet's Translation.
- The question has been debated with some eagerness whether this person was the Wishart whose death became afterwards so famous; both the friends and the enemies of the reforming preacher seeming to agree that, if the two were identical, his character would suffer some injury. Wishart was a common name in Scotland, and the evidence, therefore, can amount but to a vague probability. I see no reason to believe, however, that the Martyr of St Andrew's was so different from his Protestant countrymen as to have been unlikely to have been the messenger to Hertford, or to have sympathized cordially in the message. The progress of civilization, measured by the comparative morality of various periods, presents many perplexities; nor may we lightly compare ourselves to our own absolute advantage with the generation to which we owe the Reformation. It is a fact, however, in which we may acquiesce with no undue self-complacency, that the expedient of assassination, which the general sense of the present time disapproves under almost every condition of circumstances, was admitted and approved in the sixteenth century by the best men of all persuasions. Even when in India we still offer rewards for the capture of dangerous rebels, dead or alive, we are obliged to disguise from ourselves, under a more plausible form of words, the resource to which we are driven
- State Papers, vol. v. p. 377.
- Privy Council to the Earl of Hertford: Haines' State Papers, vol. i. p. 22.
- I may mention in this place that in the year following the proposal to make away with Beton was renewed in a direct form by the Earl of Cassilis, undisguised by the alternative of apprehending him. On that occasion the King replied that it was not a matter in which he could move openly, but he desired Sir Ralph Sadler to tell the Earl that, if he were in his place, he would surely do what he could in the execution of such a project, 'believing verily to do thereby not only acceptable service to the King's Majesty, but also a special benefit to the realm of Scotland.' Sadler, on his part, discharged his commission with the most undoubting readiness. He wrote to Cassilis. 'The Cardinal,' he said, 'is so much blinded with his affection to France, that, to please the same, he seeth not, but utterly contemneth, all things tending to the weal and benefit of his own country. He hath been the only cause and worker. of all your mischief, and will, if he continue, be undoubtedly the ruin and confusion of the same. Wherefore I am of your opinion, and think it to be acceptable service to God to take him out of the way, which in such sort doth not only as much as in him is to obscure the glory of God, but also to confound the common weal of his own country.'—State Papers, vol. v. pp. 449,450, 471.
- Knox's History of the Reformation. So, too, CaLderwood says, 'This was part of the punishment which God had executed upon the realm for the infidelity of the governour and violation of his solemn oath.'
- Holinshed says, eighty thousand cannon balls were found there among other things.—Vol. iii. p. 837.
- Haines' State Papers, vol. i.
- 'The French King, as I understand, hath demanded the Bishop to be absolved of his trespass committed in joining leagues and practices with your Majesty in times past against the rites and laws of the Roman Church, which all men note to be of ridiculous lightness and impudency, considering him to be an open Turk with his adherents.'—Harvel to Henry VIII.: State Papers, vol ix. p. 582.
- This at least was the reply which he professed beforehand that he intended to make. State Papers, vol. ix. p. 547. I do not discover the terms which he actually used, but Granvelle told Dr Wotton that 'when the Cardinal Farnese returned to Rome, the Bishop of Rome would not cause the answer delivered unto the said Cardinal to be read in the consistory, but only showed them that the Emperor had shut the gates of peace. But the Emperor's ambassador, having also received the said answer, delivered so many copies of it abroad, and also spake so much of it to the Bishop of Rome, that at last for shame he caused it to be read.'—Wotton to Henry VIII.: ibid. p. 638, &c.
- 'Albeit his Majesty doubted not but that as the Emperor giving ear to such offers as the Duke of Lorraine being sent by an indirect mean from the French King, and likewise to such other overtures as Cardinal Farnese made to him on the French King's behalf by another indirect mean, did first hear what the offers were, and afterwards advertised his Majesty of his proceedings in the same, so the Emperor would be contented if his Majesty did the semblable; yet his Majesty, minding to avoid all occasion of suspicion, as soon as he had heard of the said overtures, sent straight for his ambassador here, and before he had or will give ear to any offers, communicated unto him the very first entry of the matter.'—Privy Council to Wotton: State Papers, vol. ix. p. 655.
- There was a fear lest the French should avail themselves of the same source to recruit their forces; the Spanish garrisons on the frontiers were directed to prevent the Germans from passing. It seems that they did their work effectively. 'M. de Granvelle saith,' wrote Wotton, 'that the soldiers which the Emperor hath laid upon the borders betwixt these parts of Germany and France, play even the very butchers; for as many as they meet that are going towards France they hew them straight in pieces.'—Wotton to Henry VIII.: State Papers, vol. ix. p. 638, &c.
- 'Saying often times 'Foy de gentilhomme seray je prins prisonnier encore une fois! Perderay je mon Royaulme? Seray je tué? Moureray je?' with other like words as a man vehemently troubled in his mind.'—Ibid.
- Sleidan. The eclipse was on the 24th of January, and Sleidan notices gravely that in the same year the moon also was three times eclipsed.
- State Papers, vol. ix. p. 603.
- 'Imperator apud eos Principes et Status qui Catholici nominantur hic institit ut ad episcopum Romanum scribere velint, rogantes quid in hoc bello inter Cæsarema et Gallum facere velit; quod Status facere recusârunt.'—Mont to Henry VIII,: State Papers, vol. ix. p. 61; and see Sleidan.
- 'Ad futura usque comitia et ad plenariam controversiarum religionis determinationem.' The words are cautious; but might be readily construed into a promise that 'the plenary determination' should be effected by the Diet itself.
- 'Jura communia scripta, quatenus Augustanam confessionem oppugnant suspensa esse decernimus. Eas quoque causas, quæ in profanis negotiis contra Augustanæ confessionis status apud Cameram post recusationem interpositam decisæ sunt revocamus.'—Edicts of the Diet of Spires: State Papers, vol. ix. p. 704, &c.
- 'Le plus mal heureux, le plus meschant, le plus deshonoré, le plus detestable prince qui jamais fust en la Chrestiente.'
- State Papers, vol. ix. p. 705.
- 'I found M. de Granvelle marvellous jocund and pleasantly disposed. His face, his countenance, his gesture, the laying his hand now and then upon my hand, the sudden casting out of his arms towards me, so as I thought twice or thrice he would have embraced me, did evidently testify no small inward gladness of heart.'—Wotton to Henry VIII.: State Papers, vol. ix. p. 625.
- 'She said she could wish no longer to live than she had goodwill to do whatever should lie in her power for the continuation and increase of the amity between your Majesty and the Emperor.'—Paget to Henry VIII.: State Papers, vol. ix. p. 680. At Brussels, Paget found Richard Layton, the well-known visitor of the monasteries. He had been rewarded for his services by a diplomatic appointment. He was now dying. The last moments of all noticeable men are curious. 'He hath a great heart to serve you,' Paget wrote to the King, 'and is wonderful loath to die.'
- Yet he had not thought the destruction at Edinburgh dishonourable.
- Paget to Henry VIII.: State Papers, vol. ix. p. 682, &c.
- 'Selon la raison de guerre,' was the condition of the agreement. Vide supra.
- State Papers, vol. ix. p. 711.
- State Papers, vol. ix. p. 725, &c.
- Ibid. p. 724.
- Wotton to Henry VIII.: State Papers, vol. ix. pp. 720, 721.
- State Papers, vol. x. p. iii.
- Diary of the Expedition to Boulogne: Rymer, vol. vi. part 3.
- Wotton to Henry VIII. from the Camp State Papers, vol. ix. p. 733.
- 'En quoy vous touchez notre honneur grandement, le quel ayant comme cognoisses tous jours jusque à présent garde inviolablement, ne consentiray jamais que en ma vieillesse il soit aucunement tache.'—Henry VIII. to Francis I.: State Papers, vol. x. p. 19.
- Wotton to Henry VIII.: State Papers, vol. x. p. 34.
- State Papers, vol. x. p. 34.
- State Papers, vol. x. p. 50, &c.
- Wotton to Henry VIII.: State Papers, vol. x. p. 45, &c.
- State Papers, vol. x. p. 47.
- Ibid. p. 61.
- Henry VIII. to the Queen: Rymer, vol. vi. part 3, p. 117.
- State Papers, vol. x. p. 63, &c.
- The terms of the answer were the subject of a long and angry correspondence, which the minutely curious will find spread over the tenth volume of the State Papers.
- Wotton to Henry VIII.: State Papers, vol. x. p. 81.
- Wotton to Henry VIII.: State Papers, vol. x. p. 77, &c.
- Charles said himself in October to Wotton that 'The French King had submitted himself to his arbitrement only in the first controversies, and not in the matter of Boulogne, which was a new controversy.'—State Papers, vol. x. p. 109, &c.
- 'Il commença à gouster quelques pourparlez qui avoyent este mis en avant durant le siege de St Dizier d'une paix entre le Roy et luy; chose que le diet Empereur estime pouvoir honnêtement entendre sans en communiquer an Roy d'Angleterre.—Mémoires, p. 335.
- 'Il doutoit que par après se sentant fort deça la mer, il luy fust plus difficile quand ils auroyent à trailer ensemble.'—Du Bellay's Memoirs, p. 334.
- On the 9th of August Harvel warned Henry that a great effort might be expected to separate the Emperor from him. 'Your Majesty,' he said, 'may be fully persuaded that all the Bishop's imagination is how he may finally aggrieve your Majesty, moved with incredible hate and envy to see the same in France with so great and flourishing powers, fearing thereby the destruction of the French State, which he reputeth common unto him; wherefore I admonish your Majesty to be always circumspect against the Bishop's practices and machinations.'—Harvel to Henry VIII.: State Papers, vol. x. p. 30.
- I am obliged to slightly abridge the Pope's language, but the substance is, I believe, adequately rendered.
- 'And when they came to Nachon's threshing floor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah, and God smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of God.'—2 Samuel, cap. vi. vv. 6, 7.
- 2 Chronicles, cap. xxvi. vv. 16–21.
- Paul III. to the Emperor Charles V.: Sleidan.
- State Papers, vol. x. p. 84, note.
- So Du Bellay says, and de Buren in fact withdrew. The Emperor, however, denied that any such order had been given by him.—State Papers, vol. x. p. 98.
- State Papers, vol. x. p. 94.
- State Papers, vol. x. p. 96.
- Du Bellay's Memoirs: and see Hall and Lord Herbert.
- 'The Emperor communing with the Cardinal of Tournon and the admiral of the conditions your Majesty sent to the French King, saith the conditions your Majesty required were importable.'—State Papers, vol. x. p. 99.
- Ibid. p. 102.
- Wotton to Henry VIII.: ibid. p. 109, &c.
- State Papers, vol. x. p. 125.
- Hertford, Paget, and Gardiner to Henry VIII.: State Papers, vol. x. p. 130.
- Ibid. p. 131.
- State Papers, vol. x. p. 140.
- Henry VIII. to the Duke of Norfolk: State Papers, vol. x. p. 143.
- The Privy Council, writing to Paget, endorsed this opinion. 'We think,' they said, 'for so much as we can perceive here, there is not one Englishman but will spend all that he hath with his blood an Boulogne shall again be French.' State Papers, vol. x. p. 137.
- 'Vous priant affectueusement, de vous montrer en cest endroit comme l'amitie que longue temps a este entre nous le requiert et nous balier per iceulx brieffe et resolute responce.'—Henry VIII. to Charles V.: ibid. p. 133.
- State Papers, vol. x. p. 156.
- State Papers, vol. x. p. 168.
- I doubt not but if they had sent, or shall send to his Majesty, minding to grow to any good and indifferent conformity in certain matters of religion, which was the cause why there was no full agreement at the last time they sent ambassadors, such answers should have been and yet shall be made to them, as wherewith they shall have good and just cause to be contented.'—Paget to Mont: State Papers, vol. x. p. 188
- 'Dolet has fabulæ partes egisse te, vel communi episcoporum causâ hoc tempore præsertim in quo si quid astute aut callide fiat in co primas ad episcopos deferunt.'—Exemplum Litterarum ad Arabatensem Episcopum: State Papers, vol . x. p. 193.
- State Papers, vol. x. p. 201.
- Hertford and Gardiner to Henry VIII.: State Papers, vol. x. p. 206.
- 'They begin to say abroad that the Bishop of Rome solicitates much the Emperor to make a league betwixt the Emperor, the French King, and him, whereby he would attempt to force your Majesty to agree to their opinions; and they that speak hereof seem to fear the breach of amity betwixt your Majesty and these countries.'—Wotton to Henry VIII.: ibid. p. 231.
- Henry VIII. to Beauclerk and Mont: State Papers, vol. x. p. 222.