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England Under the Tudors by Arthur D. Innes

Part 3 out of 9

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But when even murderers could escape with a moderate penance as Clerics,
because they could read, the general public were hardly the better. A
beginning of reform in this direction had been made when Henry VII.
obtained a Bull diminishing the rights of Sanctuary in cases of treason;
and again in 1511 when the rights both of Sanctuary and Benefit of Clergy
were withdrawn from murderers. It was noteworthy however that there was a
protest against even this made by the Clergy in 1515; when one Dr.
Standish, for justifying the measure, was attacked by the Bishops in
Convocation. Warham and Fox both supported the old privileges. The temporal
lords on a commission appointed to enquire into the matter sided with
Standish, and declared that the Bishops had incurred the penalties of
praemunire. Wolsey tried to persuade the King to refer the question to the
Pope, but the King asserted the rights of the Crown in uncompromising
terms. The Bishops had to submit to a sharp rebuke, and Standish was made a
Dean not long after. The episode was a premonition of future events.

[Sidenote: The Educational Movement]

It does not appear that the writings or the preaching of the scholars had
any marked effect on the conduct of the clergy, or aroused any general
reforming zeal. But in one direction, that of education, they exercised a
very material influence on the intellectual attitude of the younger
generation. Dean Colet is known to-day to many even of those who take
little interest in his times, as the founder of St. Paul's School, where he
endeavoured to make the teaching of the young a real training instead of a
drill in pedagogic formulae. And as he set the example which was by degrees
followed in other grammar schools, so the example he had already set at
Oxford was followed both there and at Cambridge by his disciples. To him,
more than to any other man, was due the practical application of the new
knowledge of Greek to the study of the New Testament, resulting primarily
in the treatment of the Pauline Epistles as organic structures; as
connected treatises, instead of collected texts according to the custom of
the schoolmen; who, dragging phrases from their context, expanded,
interpreted and harmonised them with other phrases for fresh expansion and
interpretation; neglecting the apostolic argument to illustrate their own
theses or those of the mediaeval doctors. Fox, of Winchester, when he
founded Corpus Christi College, Oxford, Fisher in the Lady Margaret
foundations at Cambridge, put into them men of the new school. Wolsey
himself had evidently been influenced by the new methods, for his active
connexion with Oxford had not ceased when Colet was there; and when in
later years he founded Cardinal College, afterwards Christ Church, the men
he appointed to it were chosen from the disciples of the school of Colet
and Erasmus. To this higher ideal of University education, perhaps the
strongest impulse was given by Erasmus himself, during the brief time about
1512 when he was Professor of Greek at Cambridge, where he proved himself
the most brilliant exponent of the principles which in part at least he had
imbibed from the Dean. Cranmer, his great rival Gardiner, and many others
among the protagonists in the coming religious struggle, received their
training under the new conditions--conditions very markedly affected by
that edition of the New Testament, to which reference has already been
made, issued by Erasmus from Basle in 1516 after he had left England: a
work in which the Greek text appeared side by side with a new Latin
translation, in place of the orthodox "Vulgate" whereof the stereotyped
phraseology had acquired, through centuries of authorised interpretation, a
meaning often very far removed from that of the original.

[Sidenote: Wolsey and the Reformation]

Thus what the Scholars accomplished was not Reform but the preparation of
men's minds for Reform. What Wolsey the Statesman might have done, if
foreign affairs had not occupied the best of his energies, we can only
guess. His point of view was that of a Politician, not that of a man of
religion. Such reforms as he might have been prepared to introduce would
not have been the outcome of any lofty idealism, but only such as seemed to
be dictated by public decency. As a Statesman, he was alive to the
advantages of education, desired much of the wealth of the Church to be
turned into that channel, and founded colleges, which he staffed with men
of the new school and financed in part from the proceeds of suppressed
religious houses. He went so far as to procure a papal Bull for the
abolition of all Houses numbering less than seven inmates. But it may be
doubted whether the real motive of the suppression was not rather the
appropriation of funds for his favourite schemes than zeal for monastic
morality. As Cardinal and Legate and an aspirant to the Papacy, he could
never have lent himself to a policy calculated to weaken the ecclesiastical
organisation; he could never have associated himself with Colet's campaign
against clerical worldliness, of which there was no more conspicuous
example in the kingdom than he. Having children himself by an illicit
union, he could hardly have taken high ground as a reformer of morals. In
brief, he must have confined his treatment of the situation within the
limits of the work of a politician with educational leanings. What he
actually did was to renew the monastic visitations set on foot by Cardinal
Morton, to suppress some few small houses as corrupt or superfluous, and to
encourage the new school of teaching which no one of authority had hitherto
condemned as heretical. As to actual heresy, he looked on it with the eyes
not of a theologian but of a politician; as a thing to be suppressed if it
threatened public order, but otherwise negligible. He sought also to
diminish the abuses connected with the ecclesiastical courts by the
establishment of a Legatine Court of his own. But there is no sign that he
was ever alive to the volcanic forces at work; or recognised that sooner or
later the revolution which Luther initiated in Europe would have to be
reckoned with in England also. Even at the time when the great Cardinal
fell from power, there were but slight signs within the realm of the coming
revolt, mutterings of a growing storm. No prophet had arisen denouncing the
evil of the times convincingly, no statesman propounding drastic remedies;
only the scholars had been preaching amendment, and occasional zealots had
been bringing discredit on the cause of reformation by the violence of
their incriminations. The far-reaching political effect of the religious
differences was long in being realised on the Continent; in England it was
still longer in making itself felt. Yet the Lutheran revolt was destined
vitally to influence both the international relations and the internal
order of every State in Christendom.

[Sidenote: The Lutheran Revolt, 1517]

In 1517 Pope Leo X. was in want of money: and one of the recognised methods
of obtaining it was the sale of Indulgences--that is to say, remissions in
the duration of Purgatorial sufferings, ratified by His Holiness, and
purchasable for cash. The whole thing being simply a commercial
transaction, the Indulgences were offered at popular prices. There was
nothing new in the method. The Lay Princes had no objections to the sale in
their territories, since they could demand a share in the profits as the
condition of their permission. The system moreover had been held up to
ridicule before. But on this occasion, there were two novel features: one,
the unprecedented scale on which the transaction was to be worked, the
other the nature of the opposition it aroused. Doctor Martin Luther, an
Augustinian monk and Professor at the University of Wittenberg in Saxony
had been coming to the conclusion that the practices of the Church were not
what they should be, and that much of her teaching was false. The affair of
the Indulgences brought things to a head; and when Tetzel the Papal
Commissioner was approaching Saxony, Luther drew up a counterblast in the
form of a series of propositions which he nailed up publicly on the Church
doors. Moreover he received unexpected support from the "Good Elector"
Frederick, who forbade Tetzel to enter his dominions.

[Sidenote: Luther's defiance, 1520]

Leo was occupied with political affairs, which seemed for the time to be
more important than the heretical vagaries of an obscure monk. Wolsey's
diplomacy was working up to the point at which in 1518 he attached France
to England in the alliance which culminated in the "Universal Peace," the
Cardinal having supplanted the Pope as the moderator in the disputes of the
great Powers. Then Maximilian died, and the Imperial Election absorbed
political attention, with the ensuing complications described in a previous
chapter. Meantime however, Luther was waxing increasingly determined;
instead of quailing at threats, he was fully resolved to maintain his
convictions and fight the matter out. As to what he had done, he appealed
to a General Council; what he was going to do he made clear by exhorting
the German Princes to stop their tributes to Rome. The advice had a natural
attraction for the German Princes though they might lack enthusiasm on
questions of theology. Leo issued a Bull condemning Luther. Luther answered
by publicly burning the Bull (December 10th, 1520).

[Sidenote: The Diet of Worms, 1521]

The young Emperor, fresh from his coronation at Aachen, was about to hold
the Diet of the Empire at Worms. It was his policy to maintain friendly
relations with Rome; and Luther was summoned to the Diet under a
safe-conduct. The precedent of Huss showed how little such a safe-conduct
was worth; but the great Reformer was undaunted. Frederick of Saxony,
encouraged by Erasmus, was known to be on his side. He faced the Diet,
reaffirmed his heresies, and emphasised his flat repudiation of Papal
Authority. He had fiery supporters and fiery opponents. His life was in the
gravest danger, and his death would have been followed by a bloody
collision between the two parties. The disaster was averted by the Elector
Frederick who kidnapped him for his own sake and carried him off to a
secure retreat in the Wartburg: where he remained for nearly a year,
working at his translation of the Bible. The Diet however confirmed an
edict condemning Luther and his doctrines. The English King moreover, who
accounted himself no mean theologian, issued a refutation of the Lutheran
heresies which won for him from Pope Leo the title of Defender of the

At this time, and for some time to come, the Papacy regarded Francis I.
with hostility, and looked upon his Italian ambitions as dangerous to
itself. Hence there was a natural tendency to alliance between Rome and the
Emperor. 1521 was the year of the ineffectual Conference of Calais,
followed by the death of Leo X., the election of the (Imperial) Pope Adrian
in the next year, and the embroilment of England in the European wars.
Charles was sufficiently occupied with these high political matters, and
was personally withdrawn from Germany, whose affairs were more or less
controlled by an Imperial Council in which Frederick of Saxony was the
guiding spirit; popular sentiment was on Luther's side, and the Worms edict
was practically a dead letter. But the seclusion of the great Reformer
threw the movement largely into the hands of extremists such as Carlstadt
and Mnzer to whose anarchical theories he was opposed as vehemently as to

[Sidenote: 1524 The German peasant rising]

Now we shall presently see that in England itself there was strong ground
for discontent with the prevailing social order and the relations between
the peasantry and the landed classes: but in Germany matters were very much
worse. In England there had always been a tendency for the religious
reformers to associate their movements with demands for social reform; and
so it was now to an exaggerated degree in Germany. Social revolution was no
part of the scheme of Luther and his lieutenant Melanchthon; but in defying
the authority of Rome they had awakened the revolutionary spirit. Fired
with religious fanaticism, the demagogues acquired a new character, a
devouring zeal, a reckless courage. At last in 1524 the peasants rose
demanding redress for their grievances. What they asked was indeed bare
justice according to any intelligent modern view; yet the granting of their
demands would have been completely subversive of the existing social order.
The upper classes were united against them, Luther and his associates
denounced them. The fiercest passions broke loose: there were ghastly
massacres and ghastly reprisals, ending in the slaughter of scores of
thousands of peasants, and the complete suppression of the rising.

[Sidenote: Its effect in England]

The Lutherans proper had emphatically dissociated themselves from the
zealots who stirred up the "peasants' war," which did not alter the general
attitude of the Germans on the religious question. But in England, these
things had a serious effect. The Lutheran heresies were condemned as
heresies in this country before the outbreak, and a considerable number of
heretically inclined Englishmen took refuge in the German States, where
they looked to find countenance. Being for the most part men of extreme
tendencies, those tendencies were quickened; whence it resulted that in
importing the new religious doctrines from Germany they combined them more
or less with the doctrines of social revolution. Thus the distinction
between the two movements was lost sight of, and the profession of the new
doctrines was regarded as not merely heretical but in itself anarchical--a
thing which must be suppressed in the interests of public order. Hence we
find the curious paradox of Thomas More, the one-time advocate of a
toleration which was obviously in accord with his instincts, becoming in
course of time the advocate and agent of a rigorous intolerance and a
relentless persecution.

[Sidenote 1: 1525 The Empire and the papacy]
[Sidenote 2: 1527 The sack of Rome]

The Peasants' Revolt was crushed in the summer of 1525. Before this end was
accomplished, the Good Elector passed away--a wise, kindly, tolerant man
who had exercised an immense moderating influence by simple benignity,
shrewdness, and force of character. A little earlier, the ambitious schemes
of Francis I. had been shattered by the disaster of Pavia. In effect, the
whole European situation was changed completely since the death of Leo X.
in 1521. His successor Adrian was a man of good intentions but limited
purview; the great issues at stake were beyond his grasp, and his attempts
at disciplinary reforms were made nugatory by the stolid immobility of the
hierarchy. After a brief reign he was succeeded by Clement VII., a man of
considerable talent and inconsiderable ability: a man shifty and fearful,
not fitted to cope with the stubborn wills of the reigning princes and
their ministers, or with the moral and intellectual forces which were
threatening the supremacy of the historic Church. The collapse of the
French in Italy gave Charles a power which filled Clement with alarm, since
his friendliness was no longer of political moment to the Emperor, while
sentimental considerations would certainly not suffice to retain the active
support of Wolsey and England. In 1526 the insecurity of his position was
emphasised by the attitude of the Imperial Diet held at Spires, where
Charles through his brother Ferdinand withdrew from the position of
anti-Lutheranism to adopt that of impartial toleration, and it was decreed
in effect that each Prince might sanction what religion he would, within
his own territories; thus cancelling the Decree of Worms. The capture and
occupation of Rome by troops mainly Spanish in the same year, despite the
Emperor's repudiation, was another alarming symptom; which received a
terrifying confirmation in 1527, when the Imperial troops, Spanish and
German, headed by the "Lutheran" Frundsberg and the Constable of Bourbon,
turned their arms upon the Holy City, stormed it, sacked it with a savage
thoroughness unparalleled since the days of Alaric, and held the Pope
himself a prisoner.

[Sidenote: 1530 Diet of Augsburg]

Thus the Pope himself was now not merely dominated by the Emperor but
actually in his hands. The successes of Charles however urged Francis--who
had been liberated in 1526--to renewed activity, and for a time it seemed
not unlikely that he would recover his ascendency in Italy, a consummation
as little to Clement's taste as the Imperial dominance. But the French King
misused his opportunities and his armies met with fresh disasters. In 1529,
the Pope and the Emperor were reconciled, with the result that at another
Diet of Spires the Worms edict was revived and the last Spires edict
revoked, in face of the protest of the Lutheran Princes which earned for
them the title of Protestants. That party however was sufficiently strong
to prevent its opponents from enforcing the decree over the Empire. At the
Diet of Augsburg next year (1530) the decree was confirmed: the Protestants
replying by drawing up the Confession of Augsburg, formulating their
doctrines, a document which became the definite expression of Protestantism
in the least general sense of the term--while they bound themselves for
mutual support in the League of Schmalkald. The two parties seemed to be on
the verge of war; but the sentiment of nationality in face of the
threatening of a Turkish advance and of the non-German leanings of Charles
--a sentiment most zealously preached by Luther who was a typical German
patriot as well as a religious reformer--deferred the rupture till after
Luther's death.

[Sidenote: The Swiss Reformers, 1520-1530]

The active aggressive Reformation began in Germany with Luther's attack on
Indulgences. In France it made no headway for many years; in Spain and
Italy none at all; in England none, till the meeting of Parliament in 1529.
But the movement in Switzerland was as marked as that in Germany, and
hardly less important in the influence ultimately exercised by the Swiss
teachers, though of less direct political weight. Nor is it possible to
follow the course of the Reformation in England, unless the separate
existence of the Swiss School is duly appreciated. Switzerland was not a
Political entity which could rank effectively as a make-weight in
international rivalries; but its geographical conditions preserved it from
interference, and permitted it, so to speak, to work out its own salvation.
The country was a federation of small democratic States or Cantons, with no
Princes and no nobility. It followed that when once the question of
ecclesiastical reform was raised, the theories of Church Government which
would find acceptance would be democratic in principle: and accordingly it
was from Switzerland that the vital opposition to Episcopal systems sprang.
But the main fact to be observed at this stage is, that the Swiss Reformers
were not the outcome of the Lutheran movement; their movement was
spontaneous, independent, and parallel. Their leader Zwingli anticipated
rather than followed Luther. But an agitator who appealed to Germany and an
agitator who appealed to Switzerland seemed to be of very different degrees
of public importance. Hence comparatively speaking Zwingli was ignored by
the authorities. Half Switzerland might--and did--revolt from the Pope,
without greatly exercising the Papal mind. But in the process Zurich became
hardly less important as a teaching centre and an asylum for heretical
refugees than Wittenberg; and in many respects, the teaching of Zurich
departed from the teaching of Rome more seriously than did the teaching of
Luther. The element of Mysticism, to which the German genius is generally
prone, had no attraction for the Swiss mind, while it was essential in the
eyes of the Wittenberg school; so that Luther and the Zurich Reformers
assailed each other with hardly less virulence than they both lavished on
the Papal party. It was a long time before the term "Protestant" was
extended so as to include the disciples of Zurich and Geneva.

[Sidenote: English heretics abroad]

Alike to Switzerland and to the German States which may by anticipation be
called Protestant, there gathered during these first years an appreciable
number of Englishmen, who were either already touched with Lollardry, or
found themselves in revolt against prevailing doctrines or practices, or
were discovering by the light of the New Learning discrepancies between the
teaching of the Gospels and the current interpretation. In these
territories they were for the time assured of such liberty as enabled them
to issue pamphlets, dissertations, and commentaries, which found their way
into England and not infrequently received effective advertisement by being
publicly condemned and burnt, with the result that the few copies which
escaped acquired an adventitious interest and influence. Considering the
violence of the invective often conspicuous in them, and the extravagance
of the controversial methods usually adopted, the treatment they met with
can hardly be condemned as oppressive; whether it was politic is another
question. The modern English view generally is that such repressive acts
tend to defeat their own ends. On the whole however it would seem that it
was the manner rather than the matter of these productions which caused the
authorities to treat them and their authors with such severity, though it
was done largely at the instigation of theological partisans. Thus Tindal's
translation of the Bible was attacked as being _per se_ dangerous; but
it was the accompanying commentary which ensured its suppression.

[Sidenote: Contrasted aims]

The fundamental fact, however, which must be borne in mind in the early
stages of the Reformation in England is this: that whereas the cause to
which both Luther and Zwingli devoted themselves was primarily a revision
of dogmas and of the practices associated with them, the work which Henry
VIII. and Thomas Cromwell were to take in hand was the revision of the
relations between Church and State--of the position of the Clerical
organisation as a part of the body politic; not the introduction of
Lutheran or Zwinglian doctrines. Such countenance as was given to
Lutheranism was given for purely political reasons. Luther's was a
Religious Reformation with political consequences: Henry's was a Political
Reconstruction entailing ultimately a reformed religion.



[Sidenote: "The King's affair"]

The whole prolonged episode concerned with the "Divorce" of Queen Katharine
is singularly unattractive; the character of almost every leading person
associated with it is damaged in the course of it--save that of the unhappy
Queen. Unfortunately it is an episode which demands close attention and
examination, because its vicissitudes exercised a supreme influence on the
course of the Reformation initiated by the King, besides bringing into
powerful relief the nature of that strange historical phenomenon, the
Conscience of Henry VIII. Moreover it has received from the pen of a
particularly brilliant writer a colouring which is so misleading and so
plausible that the evidence as to facts requires to be presented with
exceptional care.

[Sidenote 1: Story of the marriage]
[Sidenote 2: Anne Boleyn]

It is not till 1527 that the project of a Divorce emerges definitely, so to
speak, into the open; but the evolution of the project had its origin at a
considerably earlier date. We have to begin with a review of the conjugal
relations between the King and the Queen. Arthur, Prince of Wales had
celebrated his marriage with Katharine, daughter of Ferdinand of Spain and
aunt of the infant who was to become Charles V. A few months later he died.
The young widow was thereafter betrothed to Henry; a dispensation being
obtained in 1504 from the Pope, Julius II, since marriage with a brother's
widow is forbidden by the laws of the Church. Henry VII. however, who never
liked to make any pledges without providing himself with some pretext by
which they might be evaded, instructed his son to make a sort of protest at
the time. The second marriage was not carried out till Henry VIII. was on
the throne: the bride being robed in the manner customary for maidens, not
for widows, on such occasions. She was older than her husband, and not
particularly attractive; but they lived together with apparent affection.
It is uncertain how many children were actually born; but none lived long
after birth until Mary (1516), when the King showed himself conspicuously
fond of his infant daughter. Henry does not in fact seem to have displayed
that extreme licentiousness which characterised most of the monarchs of the
time, though one illegitimate son was born to him, three years after Mary,
by Mistress Elizabeth Blount--"mistress" being the courtesy title of
unmarried ladies. The Court however was undoubtedly licentious, and many of
his favourite companions were notoriously profligate. In 1522 Anne Boleyn,
then an attractive girl of sixteen, the daughter of Sir Thomas Boleyn, came
to Court. At what time Henry became seriously enamoured of her is
uncertain; but from 1522 her father became the recipient of numerous
favours; and in 1525 was made a peer. It was a symptom of alienation
between Henry and his wife that the six-year-old son of Elizabeth Blount
was at the same time created Duke of Richmond and Lord High Admiral, with
much pomp. [Footnote: Brewer, ii., 102. _L.& P._ iv., 639.]

[Sidenote: 1527 The King prepares]

Apart from expressions in letters of 1526 which can only be reasonably
interpreted as having reference to a contemplated divorce, letters of
Wolsey's and the King's in the early months of 1527 prove incontestably
that Henry had at that time determined that he would marry Anne, and that
Wolsey [Footnote: Brewer, ii., 182, 184; _S. P. Henry VIII._, i, 194.
_L. & P._, iv., 1467.] was elaborating a case, for presentation to the
Pope, against the validity of the dispensation under which the marriage
with Katharine had been contracted.

What, then, was the King's attitude? In April 1527, he had made up his mind
to break with Charles, Katharine's nephew, and concluded a treaty with
France; but under this the French King's second son, the Duke of Orleans,
was to marry the Princess Mary. It is difficult to believe that when this
was done, the King was actually intending at a later stage to have Mary
declared illegitimate. He would hardly have proposed to alienate Charles
and Francis simultaneously. Possibly he anticipated no difficulty in
legitimating Mary while annulling her mother's marriage--as was ultimately
done. It may be noted that it is absolutely impossible to maintain that
_both_ Mary and Elizabeth were born in lawful wedlock; yet the country
accepted both as legitimate without demur. But this French treaty darkens
rather than illuminates the problem.

The only fact definitely apparent in the papers of 1527 is that Henry had
determined to make Anne his wife. There is no hint of the conscientious
scruples or the patriotic motives afterwards alleged, though that of course
does not preclude their having been present. Those two alleged motives
require to be examined merely as _a priori_ hypotheses.

[Sidenote: Theoretical excuses]

There was one possible plea, then, for urging that a divorce was necessary:
namely that political considerations made it imperative for the good of the
nation that the King should take to himself a wife who might bear him a
male heir to the throne. And there was one possible plea for demanding a
formal enquiry into the validity of the dispensation: namely a
conscientious doubt on the part of the King or Queen whether the union with
a brother's widow was contrary to the Moral Law. No doubt existed as to the
Pope's power of abrogating a law, made by the Church for the public good,
in a specific case; but it was not claimed that he could abrogate the Law
of God in like manner. If this was a case in which the Pope possessed the
dispensing power, the dispensation held; if it was not, the marriage was no
marriage however innocently the parties entered upon it. One or other of
these pleas must be made the pretext of any public action.

[Sidenote: The need of an heir]

The plea that Henry must have a male heir is so absolutely conclusive in
the judgment of Henry's great apologist that he feels it necessary to offer
excuses for the womanly weakness which blinded Katharine to her obvious
duty. It may also have appealed with considerable force to a statesman who
regarded all pledges and bonds as being in the last resort dissoluble on
grounds of national expediency. England had suffered enough from disputed
successions; and while it is not probable that a title so incontrovertible
as Mary's would have been directly challenged, it is evident that
disastrous complications might have been involved by her union with any
possible husband, or by her death. It may have been that it was Henry's own
wish to act directly on this view, and to declare his marriage null,
arbitrarily, on the ground of public expediency. But whatever were Wolsey's
views on expediency, and on the desirability of nullifying the marriage,
such a course would have been too flagrant a violation of the universally
accepted belief in the sanctity of the marriage tie to meet with his
support. Moreover the offspring of a new marriage contracted under such
conditions could hardly escape having his legitimacy challenged when
opportunity offered. The security of the succession could not therefore be
obtained by this method. Yet the burden of discovering some way to enable
Henry to marry again was laid upon the Cardinal's shoulders.

[Sidenote: The plea of invalidity]

A pretext was forthcoming, whether devised by the Cardinal or another. The
marriage with Katharine might be held invalid on the ground that the
dispensation under which it was contracted was invalid, as being _ultra
vires_. [Footnote: _Cf._ however Wolsey's letter, Brewer, ii., 180.
Katharine argued that since she had remained a maiden, no actual affinity
had been contracted, therefore the re-marriage was not contrary to God's
Law. Wolsey was prepared to reply that in that case, the dispensation was
invalid; since it specified only the impediment of "affinity" but not that
of "public honesty" created by a contract not consummated, and so failed to
cover the admitted circumstances. It appears from the complete context that
this plea was hit upon only as a rejoinder to this particular plea of
Katharine's. But see Taunton, _Thomas Wolsey_, chap, x., where a
different view is taken; the whole context, however, is not there cited.]
This was the line that Wolsey advised, and to which the King committed
himself. It should be clear that it finally precluded the other line of
arbitrary dissolution, since it rested on the inviolability of a marriage
once validly contracted. If the Pope could not set aside the bar to
re-marriage with a dead husband's brother, the King could hardly set aside
his own marriage, if it had been itself lawful. Stated conversely; if the
King could, so to speak cancel a living wife on the ground of public
expediency, the Pope had surely been entitled to cancel a dead husband on
the same ground.

[Sidenote: Conjunction of incentives]

When Wolsey had propounded the theory that the validity of the dispensation
was doubtful, it is easy enough to see how Henry might have persuaded
himself that his conscience must be set at ease. What if the death of all
his male children had been a Divine Judgment on an unlawful union? The wish
is father to the thought. From this point, it was a short step to a
conviction that, whatever any one might say, the union was unlawful. Thus
Henry could with comparative equanimity adopt the role of one who merely
felt that his doubts must be set at rest, while he would be only overjoyed
to be finally certified that they were groundless. It is not till this
professed hope is in danger of being realised that the mask is dropped and
the King's determination to have a divorce by hook or by crook is avowed.

On this view of the policy pursued, passion and patriotism may have
combined--in uncertain proportions--to make the King desire a new marriage;
obedience and patriotism may have likewise combined to produce the same
desire in the Cardinal. But it is extremely difficult to doubt that the
King's conscientious scruples were an after-thought, since they had not
overtly troubled him for eighteen years of married life; while the
Cardinal's position was painfully complicated by an intense aversion to the
particular marriage in contemplation. The Boleyns were closely associated
with the group of courtiers who were most antagonistic to Wolsey; while on
the other hand, Katharine had for long regarded him as her husband's evil

[Sidenote: The Orleans betrothal]

There is a single feature of the situation in the spring of 1527 which
might be taken as pointing to a belief on the King's part that the validity
of the marriage would be confirmed: namely the betrothal of his daughter to
Orleans. This however would completely negative the activity of that
patriotic motive by which Mr. Froude set so much store. Moreover, it is
flatly contradicted by the letter to Anne [Footnote: _L. & P._, iv.,
1467.] in which Henry unmistakably declares his determination to marry her:
and by Wolsey's [Footnote: _S. P._, i., 194. Brewer, ii., 193 ff.]
letter to him, stating the case for the divorce.

[Sidenote: Conclusion]

The only possible conclusion is that the one motive which really actuated
the King was the desire to gratify an illicit passion. Other subsidiary
motives he may have called in to justify himself to himself, on which he
dwelt till he really persuaded himself that they were genuine. For it was
his unfailing practice to do or get done whatsoever served his personal
interest, and to parade some high moral cause as his unimpeachable
motive--or if this proved quite impossible, to condemn a minister as the
responsible person. Yet however difficult it is to reconcile such avowed
motives with the known facts, the avowal always has about it a tone of
conviction which can only have been the outcome of successful

[Sidenote: The first plan (May)]

It was the Cardinal's task then to procure by some means a formal and
authoritative pronouncement that the Papal Dispensation was invalid. The
first scheme was that he should hold a Legatine Court before which the King
should be cited for living in an unlawful union with his brother's widow.
Since the Legate was also the King's subject, the royal assent had to be
formally given. This was duly arranged in May, the affair being conducted
with the utmost secrecy; but after the first beginnings [Footnote: _L. &
P._, iv., 1426.] these proceedings were dropped: presumably because, if
they had been carried through, Katharine might have appealed to the Pope
and Wolsey would have had no voice in the ultimate decision. [Footnote: The
Pope in that case must either have decided the case himself, or have given
full powers to a Legatine Court to act without appeal. In the latter event,
Wolsey could not have been appointed, since Katharine's appeal would have
been an appeal against his previous decision.]

In the same month the world learnt with amazement that the troops of
Bourbon and the Lutheran Frundsberg had stormed and sacked Rome; and that
the Imperial troops held Clement himself a prisoner in the castle of
St. Angelo. The Pope was thus completely in the Emperor's power: the
Emperor was Katharine's nephew and would most certainly veto the divorce.
Moreover, Katharine had now an inkling that steps to obtain a divorce were
being projected; and, unknown to Henry, Mendoza the Spanish ambassador had
already warned the Emperor.

[Sidenote: The second plan (June)]

Thus the difficulties of Wolsey's task were increased; since the next move
must be to get a Papal Commission appointed which should be under Wolsey's
control. To that end, the ecclesiastical support of the English Bishops and
the political support of Francis were requisite. Wolsey played upon the
guilelessness of Fisher of Rochester, till he persuaded the saintly bishop
that the confirmation of the marriage was the one thing desired--that the
Queen's opposition was due to an unfortunate misconception, and entirely
opposed to her own interests. The same course was pursued with Warham of
Canterbury. [Footnote: Brewer, ii., pp. 193 ff.] The necessity for the
enquiry was fathered upon the Bishop of Tarbes, a member of the French
embassy which had settled the betrothal of Orleans and Mary, who was said
[Footnote: There is some reason to suppose that this story of the Bishop of
Tarbes was merely concocted by Wolsey and Henry. It appears to have been
referred to only in Wolsey's communications with Warham and Fisher.--
Brewer, _Henry VIII._, ii., 216. But _cf._ Pollard, _Henry
VIII., sub loc._] to have questioned the validity of the dispensation,
and by consequence the certainty of the princess's legitimacy.

In July Wolsey proceeded to France, ostensibly for the settlement of
details in connexion with the recent treaty: actually, that Francis might
be induced to bring pressure to bear on Charles for the release of the
Pope--in the somewhat desperate hope that Clement in his gratitude would
thereupon grant Henry's wishes. Should the Pope's release be refused,
Wolsey had the idea (soon to be abandoned) that the Cardinals might be
summoned to meet in France, on the ground that the Pope was being forcibly
deprived of the power of action. [Footnote: _S. P_., i., 230, 270.
Brewer, ii., 209, 219.]

[Sidenote: Knight's mission (Autumn)]

The treaty of Amiens, cementing the union between Francis and Henry, was
signed late in August without reference to divorce. Now however Henry began
to conduct operations independently of Wolsey, sending his own secretary
Knight to Rome with private instructions, the object of which was to evade
the ultimate submission of the question to Wolsey's jurisdiction. Under the
influence of the Boleyn clique, and knowing Wolsey's aversion to the Boleyn
marriage, the King may have suspected that his minister would play him
false if he lost all hope of averting that conclusion to the divorce. Or he
may merely have resolved that it was time to check any development of his
minister's authority. On Wolsey's return to England, instead of being
received in privacy according to precedent, he was summoned on his arrival
at Richmond Palace to meet his master in the presence of Anne Boleyn.

[Sidenote: Its failure (Dec)]

Knight's mission was a failure. In December, Clement escaped in disguise
from his Imperial guards: Knight found him at Orvieto. It was evident that
the secret plan of getting the Pope's permission to marry again without
upsetting the existing marriage [Footnote: Brewer, ii., 224, 234-239. Both
the Conscience of the King and the need of an heir, are dwelt on in the
instructions.] was out of the question. So the Secretary presented a form
for a dispensation, and for a Commission which was to give Wolsey power to
decide summarily against the validity of the dispensation granted by Pope
Julius, without appeal; and power to declare Mary legitimate at the same
time. The dispensation was to enable Henry to marry thereafter in despite
of difficulties which might be raised on certain specified
grounds--intelligible only if those difficulties applied in Anne Boleyn's
case: and implying the truth of allegations subsequently made as to
relations between Henry and Anne's mother and sister. Knight was outwitted
by a Cardinal, Lorenzo Pucci, who redrafted the documents so as to make
them useless for Henry's purpose. The deluded envoy returned to England
under the impression that he had achieved a diplomatic triumph. But the
King saw that he must leave the management of such delicate matters to

[Sidenote: The Pope and the Cardinal]

It is evident that the Pope's one desire was to evade all responsibility in
the matter; as it was Wolsey's, on the contrary part, to fix the ultimate
responsibility on him. Clement wanted the support of England and France;
but, though now no longer actually the Emperor's prisoner, he was
distinctly in greater danger from him than from the other Powers. Moreover
for one Pope to be invited to nullify the proceedings of another was a
somewhat dangerous precedent: as implying that a papal decision was not
necessarily unimpeachable. The Cardinal however required the Pope's
authority. The divorce was not popular in England, where the general
inclination was towards the Imperial alliance. Besides, Katharine was
firmly convinced that Wolsey was the moving spirit; so was the general
public. If the divorce were carried through by any method which seemed to
bear out that theory--if it could be looked upon as a political job of the
Cardinal's--Henry too would come in for a share of the odium, and might be
trusted to visit that misfortune on his minister. So Wolsey would have
nothing to say to the suggestion that the King should act on his own
account without the Pope, and take his chance of an appeal.

[Sidenote: 1528 Gardiner's mission]

Early in 1528, the negotiations were again on foot. This time they were in
the hands of Wolsey's own men--Steven Gardiner and Foxe, the King's
almoner. Their instructions were to obtain a commission with absolute
authority, in which a legate--Campeggio for choice--should be associated
with Wolsey; failing that, a legate without Wolsey but one on whom Wolsey
could depend; finally, as least desirable, the commission was to consist of
Wolsey and Warham. If the Pope continued recalcitrant, he was to be given
to understand that the results for him might be very awkward. Gardiner in
fact did not hesitate to indulge in threats which were more than
hints. England's goodwill was at stake. If Clement had so little faith in
his own authority that he dared not exercise it in a manifestly righteous
cause, Henry might repudiate papal authority altogether. Nevertheless, in
spite of all Gardiner's skill and vigour--and he showed himself deficient
in neither--the result was unsatisfactory. A commission was obtained for
Wolsey with Campeggio; but it was not absolute. The decision they might
arrive at could not take effect till referred to Rome for confirmation.

[Sidenote: Wolsey's critical position]

Although the purpose of Gardiner and Foxe was not completely achieved, it
certainly appeared at this time that Wolsey had practically won over the
Pope; in other words, had made sure that the King should get his desire
under cover of law, and of the highest moral sanctions, without any breach
with the Church, defiance of Authority, or association with heresy. So far,
the credit was the Cardinal's, who had dissuaded his master from following
a much more arbitrary course. Nevertheless indications were not wanting
that the Boleyn influence was at work in a manner very detrimental to
Wolsey; that Henry was fully alive to his minister's unpopularity; and that
if occasion served he might take the popular side. Thus when Wolsey
appointed a suitable person to be Abbess of Wilton, instead of a very
unsuitable person who was connected with the Boleyns, the King reprimanded
him in his most elevated style--taking occasion at the same time to be
scandalised at the subscriptions to Wolsey's educational schemes provided
by monasteries which had pleaded poverty at the time of the "Amicable
Loan". It was at least tolerably evident that "the King's matter" as the
divorce was generally called would have to be brought to a speedy and
successful issue if Wolsey was to retain the royal favour.

Clement VII. however was a dexterous procrastinator. Campeggio got his
Commission in April. But he did not start from Rome till June: he did not
reach French soil till the end of July: in September he got as far as
Paris. Meantime, the French troops in Italy were not doing so well, but the
Pope was strongly suspected of Imperial leanings. The French King formed
the opinion--which he transmitted to his brother of England--that
Campeggio's object was to induce Henry to change his determination.

[Sidenote: Campeggio and Wolsey (Autumn)]

When at last Campeggio reached London, still suffering seriously from the
gout which was the ostensible cause of his dilatory journeying, Wolsey was
explicit. He warned the Legate that the business must be put through
promptly. The need of a male heir was imperative; the King was convinced
that his wedlock with Katharine was contrary to the Divine law: if he were
not quickly released, the respect hitherto shown for the Church by the
Defender of the Faith would certainly vanish; while Wolsey himself, whose
influence had hitherto kept his master loyal in the face of strong
temptation, would no longer be able to restrain him. From Campeggio's
letters, [Footnote: Brewer, ii., 296.] it is evident that the King had
mastered his own case thoroughly, and knew the legal aspects better than
any one else: also, that the intention was to declare Mary his heir unless
there should be male issue of the new marriage. The Legate let slip that in
view of the determined attitude of Henry and Wolsey, he would have to await
further instructions from Rome; whereupon he was again threatened with the
secession of England from the Roman Obedience. Next, the two Cardinals
tried to induce Katharine to accede to a divorce without a formal trial; on
the ground that thereby she would ensure that save on the single point of
the re-marriage any demand she might put forward would be granted, and much
scandal would be averted. The Queen took some days to consider her reply:
but was absolutely obdurate. She was Henry's wife; she could not and would
not profess that she was not. On every ground, she would fight to the last.

Campeggio did his best to impress the Pope with the urgency of the case:
but Clement was more than ever afraid of Charles, and persisted in the
first place that proceedings were to be postponed and prolonged by every
effort of ingenuity, and in the second that no verdict adverse to the
marriage was to be pronounced without his ratification.

[Sidenote: Henry's attitude]

Henry for his part, learning or knowing before that Ferdinand had received
from Pope Julius a confirmation of the dispensation in ampler terms, urged
upon Katharine the necessity of obtaining this document in her own
interests--hoping that there would be a chance of repudiating it as a
forgery. Also he instructed his agents at Rome to persuade the Pope to give
him a dispensation for re-marriage, without a divorce, if Katharine retired
into a nunnery; [Footnote: _L. & P._, iv., 2157, 2161. Brewer, ii.,
312, 313, and note. Such a marriage was admissible according to some of the
Lutherans.] or even for an openly bigamous union. Moreover about the same
time, Henry openly separated himself from his wife, and began to treat Anne
Boleyn publicly as his partner-elect on the throne.

[Sidenote 1: 1529]
[Sidenote 2: The trial]

The Pope's one object was to evade the responsibility of any pronouncement.
The Imperialist cause in Italy was progressing: Charles was growing
steadily stronger. Clement dared not pronounce in Henry's favour; he was
only less afraid of pronouncing against him. He told the agents that the
King should act on his own responsibility on the ground of dissatisfaction
with Campeggio's conduct; whereas the King was quite resolved to act, but
also quite resolved to force the responsibility for his action on Clement.
There was a limit to the possibilities of procrastination, but it was not
till June 1529 that the Court opened proceedings, citing the King and Queen
to appear. Fisher of Rochester, appearing on behalf of the Queen, boldly
declared that the marriage was valid and could not be dissolved. Standish
supported him, less vigorously. The Queen challenged the jurisdiction of
the Court, and appealed from it to the Pope. She regarded Wolsey as the
source of her woes; Anne believed that the procrastination was due to his
machinations; the King was quite capable of crushing the Cardinal to
relieve his own feelings. Popular sentiment was entirely on the Queen's
side, but held the Cardinal to blame rather than the King: though even in
Court Henry declared, in answer to Wolsey's appeal, that the minister had
not suggested but had deterred him from the course adopted. Campeggio
prorogued the Court in July. At about the same time, Clement, acting under
Imperial pressure, formally revoked the case to Rome. Before the revocation
reached England, a desperate attempt was made to persuade Katharine to
place herself in the King's hands: it failed. A sharp public altercation
between Wolsey and Suffolk showed how the current was setting.

[Sidenote: The storm gathers]

During the following months, Wolsey's loss of the royal favour became
increasingly evident, and the opposition to him on the part of the nobility
more and more open. Steven Gardiner, who had proved his conspicuous
ability, was made the King's private secretary, and became the normal
medium of communication--the close personal intercourse hitherto prevalent
was at an end. Wolsey's European policy was thrown over by Henry, who
allowed Francis and Charles to come to terms without his claiming any voice
in the negotiation. A treaty of amity was signed at Cambrai, which
terminated all prospect of Francis being induced to assist Henry in
bringing pressure to bear either on the Emperor or the Pope, and released
Clement from serious alarms as to the results of his accepting the Imperial
policy. England had deliberately vacated the position of arbiter, because
Henry was too thoroughly engrossed with the divorce to care about anything
else. Since both Francis and Charles were for the time satisfied to
restrict their ambitions so as not to collide with each other, there was no
further demand for the Cardinal's diplomatic genius. The best to which
Wolsey could now look forward was that he might be permitted to turn his
vast talents to the reform of administration, ecclesiastical, legal, and
educational, which he had always postponed to what he regarded as the more
vital demands of international politics.

[Sidenote: The storm breaks (Oct.)]

It was not long before even these hopes were destroyed. At the beginning of
October, Campeggio departed from England. At Dover, his baggage was
ransacked by the King's authority, in the hope of discovering documents
which would enable Wolsey to deal with the divorce in his absence. The
documents were not forthcoming. Wolsey was of no more use to his master.
The day after Campeggio reached Dover a writ was demanded by the King's
attorney against the Cardinal for breach of the statute of Praemunire in
acting as Legate.

[Sidenote 1: Wolsey's fall]
[Sidenote 2: 1530]
[Sidenote 3: Wolsey's death (Nov.)]

The fatal blow had been struck. From that hour, the Cardinal's doom was
sealed. He ceased absolutely to be a political force and became merely an
object for the King, and for every enemy he had raised up against himself,
to buffet. A week later, on October 16th, the Dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk
demanded the seals from Wolsey as Chancellor; he was deprived of all his
benefices and retired to his house at Esher, where he abode in poverty.
This contented Henry for the time, and he sent gracious messages--but
restricted them to words. Even Thomas More, who succeeded him as
Chancellor, is said to have acted so far out of character as to speak of
him publicly in insulting terms. Parliament had been summoned for November;
a bill depriving him for ever of office was introduced in the Lords: in the
Commons, it was boldly resisted by Thomas Cromwell who won thereby great
credit for his loyalty; and it was dropped--not against the wishes of the
King, who was as yet disinclined to deprive himself of the chance of
resuscitating the great minister. In February Wolsey was restored to the
see of York, whither he departed to act in the novel capacity of a diocesan
devoted solely to his duties--duties which he so discharged as to change
bitter unpopularity into warm affection. The King kept a firm hold on his
forfeited properties, Gardiner was advanced to his see of Winchester: the
college at Ipswich was dissolved. Wolsey was rash enough to attempt to open
secret communications with Francis I., in the hope that his influence might
be exercised to restore to favour the man who had done so much for him. But
Norfolk, in power, had to cultivate Francis; and Francis, finding him a
much simpler diplomatic antagonist, had no wish to reinstate the
Cardinal. The attempted correspondence became known, and in November,
without warning, Wolsey was arrested for high treason. Sick and worn, he
started on his last journey towards London; but was stricken with mortal
illness, and could travel no further than Leicester Abbey where the end

[Sidenote: Wolsey's achievement]

So died the great Cardinal who for nearly twenty years had mainly swayed
the destinies of England. Henry VII. had slowly recovered a place among the
nations for a country brought low by long years of reckless civil strife.
His son's minister again raised her to be the arbiter of Europe, holding
the scales between the two mighty princes who virtually ruled Christendom:
not by deeds of arms like Edward III. or Henry V., for no English soldier
of real distinction arose in his time; but by a diplomatic genius almost
without parallel among English statesmen. In this field, the superiority of
his abilities to those of his contemporaries made his position with his
master absolutely secure, so long as foreign relations were the primary
consideration; for though the ends the minister himself had in view were
always the same, he was ready to exert his powers to the full, even at the
expense of those objects, in carrying out any policy on which Henry himself
might determine; and as a general rule the King's wishes did not run
counter to his own.

[Sidenote: Appraisement of Wolsey]

His absorbing aim was to magnify England and the King of England in the
eyes of Europe: nor was personal ambition lacking, but it was subordinate.
That he desired the popedom is clear, and that Henry desired it for him;
but he was above the temptation of allowing that desire to dominate his
national aims, and had he achieved it, he would have regarded the alliance
of the Ecclesiastical Power with England as the real prize secured. His
personal weight in the Counsels of Europe would hardly have been increased;
and he cared more for Power than for the appearance of it, though he had a
possibly exaggerated perception of the practical value of magnificence in
securing both national and personal prestige. In part at least this was the
cause of that habitual display which, while impressing, also roused the
anger of the nobles, who regarded him as an upstart, and of the satirists
of ecclesiastical ostentation and luxury. Secure in the confidence of the
King, he never attempted to conciliate either popular sentiment or the
rivals whom he deposed.

But at all times, if he magnified his own office, it was as the King's
right hand. If the King's will, even in opposition to his own, necessitated
unpopular measures, he carried those measures out, and took the odium for
them on his own head, preserving his master's popularity at the price of
his own. He ruled the country on autocratic principles, and the increase of
his power was the increase also of the King's. And the King rewarded him
after his kind.

But for the all-absorbing interest of diplomacy, his vast abilities as an
administrator and organiser might have achieved great things. He would at
least have pruned ecclesiastical abuses; and would have forced upon the
clergy as an ecclesiastic those reforms which they were always on the verge
of introducing when they found themselves anticipated by the drastic action
of the temporal Power. Reform was the inevitable corollary of Education,
and the development of Education was of all schemes the nearest to Wolsey's
heart. Yet whether, if the Divorce question had never arisen, he would have
played an effective part in the Reformation is open to doubt, for at bottom
the Puritan movement in these islands, the Lutheran movement, and the
Counter-reformation, were all the outcome or expression of Moral ideals,
not of state-craft; and for Wolsey morals were subordinate to state-craft.
It is probable that in any case the assertion in England by the State of
its supremacy over the Church would only have been deferred; but Wolsey
might have deferred it. As it was, Henry willed otherwise. The great
statesman, failing to carry out his master's demands, was hurled from
power. The battle of the Reformation was to be fought under other captains.


The term "Divorce" has been employed above, because, although a misnomer,
it is universally applied. Properly a divorce is the cancellation of a
legally contracted marriage. What Henry sought was a _declaration of
nullity_--that no valid marriage had ever taken place.



[Sidenote: 1529 No revolt as yet]

It will have been observed that when Wolsey found that the divorce was
inevitable, his energies were concentrated on the single purpose of
securing it under papal authority. For this he had two reasons--one, that
without that authority the King's act would appear in all its
arbitrariness, causing grave scandal: the other that if that authority were
refused, he foresaw the cleavage between England and Rome which did
eventually take place. Apart however from the divorce, there had not been
up to the time of Wolsey's fall any hint of an opinion in high places that
such a cleavage was _per se_ desirable or desired--although both
Wolsey himself and Gardiner had given Clement fair warning that Henry was
likely to reconsider the papal claims altogether unless the Pope complied
with his wishes. The revocation of the cause to Rome immediately brought
the execution of this threat into the sphere of practical politics.

In the second place there had been no tendency to encourage or allow
deviations from recognised orthodox doctrine. The new criticism had been so
far admitted as to produce a rigid section and a liberal section among the
orthodox, such leading prelates as Wolsey himself, Warham, Fox, Fisher, and
Tunstal, all favouring the new learning in various degrees, and being
supported therein by such learned laymen as Sir Thomas More. Their
toleration however had not extended to anything censurable as heresy, and
their attitude had been somewhat stiffened by the course of the Lutheran
revolt on the Continent. The increased licence within the Empire, following
the edict of Spires in 1528, led to an increased activity in the
suppression of heretics and heretical publications in England, first under
Wolsey and then under his successor in the Chancellorship.

[Sidenote: Growth of anti-clericalism]

In a third direction however, though not much had been done in the way of
measures, an _anti-clerical_ party had been growing up: a party which
sought to diminish clerical jurisdiction, clerical privileges, and clerical
emoluments. Among the ecclesiastics themselves there were not a few who
desired to improve clerical administration from within, but without
diminution of ecclesiastical authority; the anti-clericals were laymen who
wished the reforms to be forced on the Church from outside, reducing
ecclesiastical authority in the process. These two policies were in direct
opposition, seeing that antagonism to Wolsey--emphatically a reformer of
the prior class--was the leading motive with the nobility who headed the
second class; while the Commons in general desired primarily to be freed
from the exactions by which the clergy benefited, and from which they did
not believe the clergy would of their own initiative cut themselves
off. Wolsey had begun the internal amendment, by his visitation and
suppression of the smallest monasteries and the appropriation of
ecclesiastical property to educational purposes, and by some substitution
of the superior organisation of the legatine court for that of the
Ordinaries; but the latter step had been cancelled by his fall and by the
ominous appeal to the statute of Praemunire against legatine
jurisdiction. On the other hand, the anti-clerical action had been
practically confined so far to the modifications as to Benefit of Clergy;
unless we include the publication of pamphlets and rhymes attacking the
ecclesiastical body in general, or Wolsey in particular as the incarnation
of their shortcomings.

Some years were still to elapse before any material changes from orthodox
theological doctrine were to be entertained. But in 1529, the suspension of
the Trial was forthwith followed by the adoption of a policy--as yet only
provisional--setting aside the Pope's authority; and the assembly of
Parliament in November was marked by an immediate attack on ecclesiastical

[Sidenote: Thomas Cranmer]

In the last six months of this year the King discovered two instruments
consummately adapted for executing his will. It appears that the idea of
obtaining the opinions of the Doctors at the English Universities had
already been mooted, and that one of those selected [Footnote: Strype,
_Memorials of Cranmer_. Hook, _Life of Cranmer_.] at Cambridge
was Thomas Cranmer, a learned and amiable divine with marked leanings
towards the New Learning; who in his early graduate days had fallen under
the influence of the teaching at Cambridge of Erasmus; in scholarship
subtle and erudite, in affairs guileless and easily swayed; timorous by
nature, but capable of outbreaks of audacity as timid persons often are: a
gentle and lovable man, but lacking in that robust self-confidence needed
by one who would take a resolutely independent line; a man intended to be a
student and forced by an unkind fate to assume the role of a man of action.
Such a character, brought under the direct influence of a powerful will and
a magnetic personality, is readily led to see everything as it is desired
that he should see it, and at the worst to differ from the master-mind only
with submission.

[Sidenote: Appeal to the universities]

When Campeggio suspended the sittings of the Commission the, King withdrew
to Waltham Cross. Steven Gardiner and Foxe the King's almoner, who were in
his suite, met Cranmer who had left Cambridge on account of an outbreak of
the sweating sickness. They had, as was natural, a conversation on "the
King's affair"; when Cranmer propounded the theory that if the Universities
of Europe--that is, the qualified divines--gave it as their opinion that
the union with Katharine had been contrary to the Divine Law, the King
might follow the dictates of his conscience and pronounce the marriage null
without recognising Papal jurisdiction. This was clearly quite a different
thing from producing the judgment of the Doctors merely as an expert
opinion which must carry weight with the Judge at Rome. It was practically
an assertion that the Pope's judgment was not of higher authority than the
King's; an answer to a question as to jurisdiction; a suggestion of
replying to the Pope's revocation of the case by a counter-revocation. Foxe
reported the conversation to Henry, who caught at the new method of giving
a constitutional colour to an arbitrary proceeding. Cranmer was summoned to
court, attached to the Boleyn household, set down to write a thesis on the
point of conscience, and sent off early in 1530 in the train of the Earl of
Wiltshire (to which dignity Sir Thomas Boleyn--had been raised) on an
embassy to the Emperor at Bologna. Moreover his plan for consulting the
Universities was actively taken in hand.

[Sidenote: The new Parliament]

In the meantime, in November, Henry's most famous Parliament had opened
session. The last, called six years before under Wolsey's regime to obtain
supplies, had shown a qualified submissiveness. The new one, whether packed
or not, displayed prompt signs of activity. Known to fame as the "Seven
Years'" or "Reformation" Parliament, it consistently displayed three
characteristics: it was anti-papal and anti-clerical; it endorsed the Royal
will; but it refused dictation where its pocket was concerned. Its first
session lasted only a few weeks, but was marked by an attack on clerical
abuses, and by the sudden prominence achieved by Thomas Cromwell.

[Sidenote: Thomas Cromwell]

Concerning Cromwell's early years, much is reported and little is known.
The common rumour declared that he was the son of a blacksmith--as it
declared Wolsey to be the son of a butcher. He is said to have tried
various trades, among others those of man-at-arms in the mercenary troop of
an Italian nobleman, wool-merchant and usurer at Antwerp, usurer and petty
attorney in England. On all these points the evidence is scanty and
inconclusive. About 1520, he found his way into Wolsey's entourage, and was
a member of the 1523 parliament. Wolsey found him an apt man of business,
and entrusted him with a good deal of the financial management of his
educational schemes; in the course of which it is at least probable that he
applied the twin practices of bribery and blackmail, which not without
reason were attributed at a later date to his servants. Yet, however
unscrupulous he may have been in his dealings with others, to the master
whose service he had followed he was always loyal. Wolsey made him his
secretary; and when the Cardinal fell, the secretary's position seemed
exceedingly precarious. Whether from an admirable fidelity or through
amazingly astute hypocrisy, he boldly and openly took up the cudgels in
parliament on behalf of the stricken minister, apparently challenging
imminent ruin for himself. Action so courageous won him applause and
good-will instead of present hostility. More than that, it immediately
marked him in the eyes of the King--an exceedingly shrewd judge of men--as
an invaluable prospective servant for himself. A combination of audacity
and fidelity with shrewdness, resourcefulness, and unscrupulosity, was
precisely what he wanted and precisely what he had found. The Cardinal's
secretary became the King's secretary, and forthwith identified himself
with the policy of establishing the Royal autocracy in a stronger form than
it had ever before assumed in England. Whether or no Thomas Cromwell learnt
his political principles as an adventurer in Italy, he became himself the
living embodiment of those doctrines of state-craft which were systematised
by Macchiavelli in his treatise "The Prince".

[Sidenote: Pope, Clergy and King]

In the reconstruction of the relations between Church and State which
covers more than nine-tenths of the Reformation under Henry VIII. there
were three parties concerned; the Pope, the Sovereign, and the Clerical
Organisation in England. From time immemorial, Popes and Kings had striven
periodically with each other in asserting antagonistic control over the
ecclesiastical body; and the ecclesiastical body had made common cause, now
with the Pope and now with the King, in resisting encroachments by the
rival authority. If the clergy submitted to one or the other, it was always
with a reservation that submission to physical force could not impair the
inherent rights of the successors of the Apostles. Similarly, if the Pope
gave way to the King or the King to the Pope, their respective successors
regarded the claims surrendered as rights not cancelled but in abeyance.
The prevailing conditions at any given time were always looked upon as a
_modus vivendi_ liable to readjustment when any of the three parties
felt impelled to claim a larger freedom of action or a larger power of
control. In the past however the Spiritual Powers had drawn effectively
upon their armoury of excommunications and interdicts in the conflict; it
was now to be seen whether these ancient weapons had become obsolete. If
they could be defied with comparative impunity, there could be but one end
to a struggle between the Spiritual and the Temporal forces.

[Sidenote: Double campaign opens]

By the appeal to the Universities, Henry gave warning of a possible
anti-papal campaign: in which he could look for a considerable degree of
clerical support up to a certain point, more particularly because the
clergy generally were ready to be released from the financial exactions of
the Holy See, as well as from its practical exercise of patronage.
Parliament opened an anti-clerical campaign, but its measures at first were
confined to dealing with almost indefensible and obvious abuses. Bishop
Fisher recognised the familiar thin end of the wedge, and charged the
Commons with desiring "the goods, not the good" of the Church; but the
opposition was slender. In the six weeks of the first session, there were
passed, the Probate and Mortuaries Acts, abolishing, reducing, or
regulating fees, and the Pluralities Act, forbidding the clergy in general
to hold more than one benefice, and requiring Residence--a very
inconvenient arrangement for papal nominees. The general value of the Act
however was impaired by a schedule of exemptions. Fisher's protest had its
counterpart in the protest of Convocation, not against the avowed objects
of this legislation but against Parliament as its source: the position
being that Convocation was itself preparing legislation with the same ends
in view, and was the proper body to do so.

[Sidenote: 1530 Answers of the Universities]

During 1530, Parliament remained inactive. The Earl of Wiltshire's embassy
to Bologna, of which the object was to induce Charles to withdraw his
opposition to the divorce, naturally proved abortive. The consultation of
the Universities however went on apace. The theory propounded for their
acceptance was that Katharine had been in actual fact the wife of Henry's
brother; that this being so her marriage with Henry was contrary to the Law
of God; and that by consequence the second contract was actually not only
voidable but void, the dispensation being under those circumstances a dead
letter. On the other side it was maintained that whatever validity there
might be in this argument, it fell to the ground if--as was asserted on the
Queen's behalf--her first marriage had been ceremonial only. The answers of
the Universities were inconclusive, some declaring the marriage valid,
others declaring it void, and others, including Oxford and Cambridge,
declaring that it was against the Law of God without pronouncing the
dispensation of Julius _ipso facto_ invalid. Moreover, had the
opinions given been decisive in themselves, the method by which they were
obtained would have destroyed their moral value. Francis, finding that
England's friendship was in the balance, dictated a favourable reply to the
French Universities. Those in England knew they were not free agents.
Clement professed to give those in Italy a free hand, but in that country
Charles was the dominant power. In Germany the Lutherans were hostile to
Henry personally on account of his own anti-Lutheran pronouncements.
Nowhere was a judgment on the simple merits of the case procurable.

[Sidenote: Preoccupation of the Clergy]

In the meantime, the clergy in England had been mainly occupied with a
campaign against heresy, and with the suppression of dangerous literature;
[Footnote: According to Mr. Froude, Henry only assented with reluctance to
the suppression of Tindal's Testament on condition of the preparation of an
authorised version being agreed to. But even Hall, whom he cites, only says
that both proposals were adopted after long debate.--Froude, i., p. 298
(Ed. 1862).] but willingly or not found themselves committed to approving
the preparation of an authorised translation of the Scriptures--the one
movement under Henry which tended definitely, in effect though not of set
purpose, to a revision of Doctrine.

[Sidenote 1: Menace of Praemunire]
[Sidenote 2: 1531 "Only Supreme Head"]
[Sidenote 3: Proceedings in Parliament]

In December of 1530, however, the Church was to receive a rough reminder
that the Defender of the Faith was a stickler for the rigidity of the
statutes. He had already struck at Wolsey because, urged thereto by
himself, the Cardinal had obtained and exercised legatine powers contrary
to the Statutes of Praemunire. Such was the King's reverence for the Law
that after it had been transgressed with his sanction for ten years he felt
it his duty to penalise the transgressor. After another twelve-month, he
felt it his further duty to penalise all who had submitted to the illegal
authority. The clergy were informed that they lay one and all under the
royal displeasure for breach of praemunire (of which they had in fact been
technically guilty), and could only hope for pardon by purchasing it for
something over 100,000--practically equivalent to about a couple of
millions now. Convocation, alive to the futility of resistance, apologised
for its iniquity and admitted the justice of the punishment. Thereupon, in
the preamble to the bill by which they were to mulct themselves, the King
required the insertion of a clause which designated him "Protector and Only
Supreme Head of the Church and Clergy in England". This roused general
resistance. Convocation proposed conferences, and sought some compromise
which they could reconcile with their consciences. The King would have no
compromise, demanding instant submission. At last Warham hit upon the
expedient of one of those saving phrases which might mean everything or
nothing, and yet could not be objected to on the face of it; inserting the
words "so far as the laws of Christ permit": the precise degree to which
the said laws did permit being susceptible of unlimited argument, as the
royal claims or the clerical conscience might respectively demand. Even so
had Becket in the past shielded himself with the words "Saving the rights
of my Order". For the time being, this diplomatic evasion or pitiful
subterfuge, as the advocates and contemners of the clergy respectively call
it, saved the situation. At the time, it must be remarked, Henry did not
intend the title to be read as repudiating the Papal Supremacy, which had
not hitherto been formally called question. On the face of it, it looks
like a touch of Cromwell's; in a thing designed to force the hand of the
Clergy in the future if the Papal Supremacy should be directly challenged.
The clause was accepted (for the Province of Canterbury) on March 22nd; six
weeks later it was also accepted by the Convocation of York, with a protest
from Tunstal, now bishop of Durham, who had been distinguished by his
diplomatic services under Wolsey's rgime. During the corresponding session
(January-March 1531) no anti-clerical measures were introduced in
Parliament; which registered the Royal pardon and received the formal
announcement of the decision of the Universities. The "stern and lofty
moral principles" [Footnote: Froude, i., 307, 310 (Ed. 1862). The
historian's enthusiasm may seem to require some qualification. The
retrospective creation of crimes is a dangerous practice: and the penalty
applied might even be considered savage.] of the nation were however
vindicated, in consequence of the wholesale poisoning of the bishop of
Rochester's household, attributed to an attempt to make away with Fisher
himself. By a special enactment, the essentially un-English practice of
poisoning was retrospectively classified as high treason, and the criminal
sentenced to death by boiling.

[Sidenote: 1532 Parliament]

In the beginning of 1532 the campaign was renewed with vigour; whether from
the laudable desire of reforming abuses, or with the object of terrorising
the Church into complete subservience. Incidentally it is to be observed
that so far as the activity of the Commons was directed against the payment
of extortionate fees, the Church had a part only, not the whole, of their
opposition. They logically and manfully resisted a "Bill of Wards"
legalising claims of the Lords in sundry cases of the marriage of wards.
This has been jibed at [Footnote: Moore (Aubrey), _Hist. of the
Reformation_, 103.] as showing that they cared for cash and not for
principle. As a matter of fact it appears to prove the first, but to have
no bearing on the second. It also proves that when they did care, they
could be obstinate, for the Bill was dropped: which illustrates the tact
with which the King could yield on a point unimportant to him personally.

In especial however this session was signalised by three Acts, dealing with
Mortmain, Benefit of Clergy, and Annates: and by the "Supplication against
the Ordinaries" which took partial effect in the "Submission of the

[Sidenote: Supplication against the Ordinaries]

The Supplication [Footnote: Mr. Froude, i., 211 (Ed. 1862), dates this
1529, but without apparent reason. _Cf._ Dixon, i., 77, note.] was in
effect a statement of grievances, directed against the powers of
Convocation in the way of ecclesiastical legislation, and the conduct of
the ecclesiastical Courts and their fees. Under this second head it was
simply the expression of a popular outcry, which had already begun to take
effect in the legislation of 1529; an outcry so far justified that the
clergy themselves met it, in part, by declaring that they were giving
independent attention to the abuses complained of. As an indictment its
weakness lay in the inadequate support by specific instances of the general
charges of miscarriage of justice. Under the first head it has the
appearance of being inspired by Cromwell, of whose policy a main feature
was the concentration of all effective legislative power in the King.

[Sidenote: Resistance of Clergy]

The Supplication was presented, and laid before Convocation for an answer.
The answer was given on the lines that, as concerned the grievances in
general, so far as they were real they were in process of removal, and that
as concerned miscarriage of justice it was impossible to answer effectively
unless the charges were made specific. As to ecclesiastical legislation it
was replied that this was a function of the Clergy, and that their canons
were in accord with Scripture and therefore not antagonistic to the Civil
Law; to which was added an appeal to the King as the Protector of the
Faith. They were informed that this answer was "too slender"; so sent a
second in which appeal was made to Henry's own book against Luther, and an
offer was added that they would publish no ordinances without the royal
assent excepting on matters of faith. In both answers Gardiner, now bishop
of Winchester, is reputed to have been the guiding spirit--thereby showing
that Henry could not count upon his assistance in reducing his Order to

[Sidenote: "Submission of the Clergy"]

This attitude however was by no means sufficient for Henry and Cromwell.
It is in fact clear that they had made up their minds to put an end to an
anomalous condition of affairs. Hypothetically, the Church and the State
had been making laws independently of each other side by side. The two
sets of laws might involve incompatibles; the King's lieges might be
harassed by the canons of the Church, and loyal churchmen might be
embarrassed by the laws of the realm. The time had come when one ultimate
authority must be recognised. There was no manner of doubt which of the two
that ultimate authority was to be. Yet for the attainment of this end, the
Clergy must be required to surrender what they had always accounted a right
inviolable, sacred, vested in them by divine commission. The Clergy had to
surrender or take the risk of martyrdom: and they elected to surrender--in
effect to recognise that they were beaten _de facto_ if not _de
jure_. They struggled hard for a compromise which would salve their
collective conscience. Finally (May) they agreed to enact no new canons
without the Kind's authority, and to submit to a commission such of the
existing canons as were contravened. The wording of this "Submission of the
Clergy," as it is called, does not leave it absolutely clear whether the
entire canon law or only a portion was to be subjected to the revision of
the commission--which was to consist of thirty-two members, half laymen and
half clergy--but the balance of opinion is in favour of the partial
theory. The defeat was a crushing blow to the aged Warham who never
recovered from it and died three months later; and it caused the immediate
resignation of the Chancellorship by Sir Thomas More--a _rara avis_
among statesmen of the day, with whom conscience actually had the last
word, not the King's will.

[Sidenote 1: Mortmain and Benefit of Clergy]
[Sidenote 2: Annates Act]

The other Acts referred to above were passed before the Submission of the
Clergy was completed. The Mortmain and Benefit of Clergy Acts were
respectively in limitation of bequests to the Church and of privileges of
clerical criminals. They were merely normal steps in the reform of
abuses. The Annates Act however demands closer attention. Every bishop on
appointment to his see paid the first year's income to Rome--whether on an
original appointment, or on translation from one see to another. Obviously
this was a tremendous tax on the bishops and a source of large income to
Rome. There had been frequent complaints, and suggestions that the Pope
should reduce his claim. Very recently, Gardiner had been obliged to borrow
heavily to meet the exaction on becoming bishop of Winchester. The Bill
provided that five per cent. only should be paid, by way of compensation
for expenses of papal Bulls, the ground taken up being that the papal claim
was contrary to the ruling of the General Council of Basle, and that the
payment, being an alienation of the property of the See, was contrary to
the bishops consecration oath. The Bill was passed, the bishops--according
to letters of the foreign ambassadors in London--dissenting; a course
perfectly natural on their part as a protest, not in favour of the payment,
but against the authority of the temporal power to intervene. Yet it is
frequently stated as a matter of common knowledge that the clergy
themselves were the prime movers, and that the Bill was brought in on their
petition. This belief would seem to rest exclusively on the
misinterpretation of a document attributed by a later historian [Footnote:
Strype, _Eccl. Memorials_ I., ii., 158. Froude, i., 361 ff.
(Ed. 1862). But _cf._. Gairdner, _English Church_, p. 116. The
present writer fell into the usual error in a previous volume on
_Cranmer_; and has to thank Mr. Tomlinson for correcting him.] to
Convocation, but almost certainly of parliamentary origin.

The Act however was not put in immediate execution: but the English agents
in Italy were instructed to hold it _in terrorem_ over Clement's head.

[Sidenote: The European Powers and the Divorce]

The subsequent methods of procedure were largely the outcome of the
diplomatic situation on the Continent. In the first place, the idea of
calling an Oecumenical Council had been much in the air. Each of the three
great monarchs was desirous of calling one, on his own terms; so were the
Lutherans. But for each the terms must be such as should ensure practical
subservience to his own dictation: while to the Pope the proposal, so long
as it was hypothetical, was a thing he could produce as either a sop or a
threat, as circumstances might commend. In the next place, for the time
Charles dominated the Pope; but while he was making terms with the
Lutherans, under pressure of the advance of the Turks on the east, whereby
his loyalty to the papacy was made doubtful, he was also on the other hand,
Katharine's unyielding champion. Thus any positive declaration on the
divorce from Clement was tolerably certain to finally alienate either
Charles or Henry. Now the rivalry of Charles was the great obstacle to
Francis: whose object had come to be to utilise England so as to obtain for
himself the concessions he wanted from the Emperor; extorting them as the
result of joint pressure on the part of France and England or as the price
of a separation between France and England. The thing he most feared was a
compromise between Henry and Charles. Thus his policy was, by associating
himself with Henry, to detach the Pope also from Charles, by the menace of
a joint Anglo-French schism from the Roman obedience. Therefore in the
summer and autumn of 1532 Francis was ostentatiously friendly to Henry and
the cause of the Divorce. Conferences to which Henry was invited to bring
Anne Boleyn as his Queen-elect were arranged, and took place at Calais and
Boulogne. Henry thereafter made up his mind to a decisive step and on their
return to England in November or perhaps in the following January he
married Anne privately. Francis however had successfully avoided committing
himself unequivocally to an uncompromising English alliance.

[Sidenote: 1533 The crisis arrives]

In December, the Pope and the Emperor both being at Bologna, Clement
professed to the English agents a more amenable spirit, suggesting that the
divorce should be held over for a General Council, or that Henry should
agree to have the trial held outside his own realms; propositions, however,
to neither of which the King could be lured to assent. But the year 1533
had hardly opened when Charles was enabled to publish a Papal warning of
excommunication against Henry unless he restored Katharine to her full
rights as his wife (Feb.); while he detached France from England by the
promise of concessions restoring her position in Italy.

Clement might now defer a pronouncement in favour of Katharine; there was
no practical room for hoping that he might still pronounce against her.
Henry stood alone; if the Pope were finally driven to choose between
defying the King or the Emperor there could be no doubt which of the two he
would rather have for an enemy. It only remained for Henry to put it beyond
question that the declaration must be made, and that his own enmity would
take an energetic form. His reply to the Pope was decisive. Early in April,
parliament passed the great Act in Restraint of Appeals, which was
virtually the announcement of the repudiation of the Roman allegiance;
before the end of May, the new Archbishop of Canterbury in his court
pronounced the marriage with Katharine void _ab initio_, and the
recent marriage with her rival valid.

[Sidenote: Restraint of Appeals]

In form, the Act in Restraint of Appeals was not a fresh piece of
legislation but a declaration of the existing law; a flat assertion that
any appeal to the jurisdiction of Rome from the English courts brought the
appellant under the penalties of praemunire, the "spiritualty" of the
country being competent to deal with spiritual cases, and the sovereign
recognising no jurisdiction superior to his own. It did not raise the
question of authority in matters of doctrine; nor was it a formal
declaration of schism from Rome. Its meaning however was clear. The
constitutional theory of independence, put forward on many occasions as the
warrant for legislation, was henceforth to be acted upon in its most ample
interpretation: though, as with the Annates Bill, the final confirmation
was suspended to leave Clement a last chance of surrender. Taken on its
merits the Act laid down principles entirely acceptable to all parties who
claim or claimed independence of Rome: yet it was quite obviously issued
with the direct purpose of setting aside the Pope's authority in a
particular case already referred to him.

[Sidenote 1: Cranmer Archbishop]
[Sidenote 2: The decisive breach]

It is in fact doubtful whether Henry could have procured a judgment from
Warham; but Warham was dead, and the successor appointed was Thomas
Cranmer, who already before he had been dragged into public life had
committed himself to the sufficiency of the judgment of the English
courts. Since taking part in Wiltshire's embassy in 1531 he had been for
the most part in Germany on diplomatic affairs, associating with
Protestants and imbibing their views. The most pronounced and definite of
his doctrines was that of the supremacy of the crown; and on his
installation as Archbishop in March, he had qualified [Footnote: Moore
(Aubrey), _Hist. of Reformation_, 109, finds a proof in this of
"servility and dishonesty," which terms appear to be in his view
equivalents of Erastianism.] his oath of allegiance to Rome accordingly.
Other ecclesiastics, from Becket to Gardiner, had been appointed to
bishoprics under the impression that they were going to support the secular
arm against the claims of their Order, and had falsified
expectation. Cranmer maintained as Archbishop the theories of clerical
subordination which he had adopted as a University Doctor. Convocation was
called on to express an opinion on the marriage; and whether from
conviction or despair, it supported the King by a majority. The Archbishop
obtained the royal licence to convene a court. Katharine, refusing to
appear, was declared contumacious; and the Court pronounced her marriage
void while confirming Anne's. The Pope rejoined by pronouncing the judgment
void. Henry retorted by confirming the Acts in Restraint of Annates and
Appeals; and himself appealed against the Pope to a General Council. Until,
in March of the next year, Clement himself definitely pronounced judgment
in favour of Katharine, there remained a shadow of a chance of a
reconciliation tantamount to the submission of the Holy See; but the chance
was not accepted. Practically the judgment of Cranmer's court marked the
definite schism from Rome.



[Sidenote: 1533 Ecclesiastical Parties]

WE have noted that a proportion of the higher clergy were at least not
unwilling to be freed from the domination and the financial exactions of
Rome; this attitude being either the cause or the effect of the line they
took as to the divorce. When, however, it was borne in upon them that the
price of escaping the yoke of the Popedom was to be the subjection of the
Church, in form to the lay monarch, and in fact to the State, the bulk of
them endeavoured to protest against the newly imposed subordination. With
the "Submission of the Clergy" and the appointment of Cranmer as Warham's
successor, it became entirely clear that to protest or resist would be
worse than useless. Accordingly we shall now find this section of the
clerical body, including such prelates as Gardiner of Winchester, Stokesley
of London, and Tunstal of Durham, devoting themselves to evading or
rendering nugatory the directions of the Temporal power and its instrument
Cranmer, under colour of obedience, while dissociating themselves from the
more rigid of the Old Catholics such as Fisher of Rochester, More, the
London Carthusians and others. On the other hand, the newer school, who
were much more antagonistic to the papacy, such as Cranmer, Latimer and
Barlow, found more personal favour with the King and with Cromwell, though
their leanings towards the doctrinal tenets of Continental reformers were
checked from time to time with sufficient rudeness.

[Sidenote: Pope or King?]

A very peculiar situation however soon resulted from the Royal rejection of
the Papal supremacy. To hold the opinion that the Pope was head of the
Church implied the recognition of a divided allegiance, casting a doubt on
the holder's loyalty to the Secular Sovereign, and easily translated into
treason; since the papal party were bound to maintain in theory the
validity of the marriage with Katharine, and the rights of her daughter
Mary. Henry never lacked a plausible theory to justify his most tyrannous
actions. Modern historians however who carry their support of Henry to the
extreme point ignore the two facts, that to hold an opinion which if acted
on would lead to treason is not in itself treason; and that it was quite
logical to maintain the supreme authority of the Pope in matters spiritual,
without admitting his power to depose a recalcitrant monarch or to
determine the line of succession--which was in fact the position adopted by
Sir Thomas More.

[Sidenote: 1534 Confirmatory Acts]

The Spring session of Parliament in 1534 was devoted mainly to the passing
of Acts in confirmation and extension of what already been done. The
Submission of the Clergy and the Restraint of Appeals were re-affirmed in
one Act; but with the important difference that the whole of the Canon law
was to be subjected to the Commission when appointed, [Footnote: See
p. 128, _ante_]. till which time the clergy would be acting at their
peril in enforcing any rules which might subsequently be condemned as
against the Royal Prerogative. This was accompanied by an Act in
confirmation of the Annates Act, coupled with the _cong d'lire_,
assuring to the King the right of nomination to ecclesiastical appointments
under the form of permitting the Chapters to elect his nominee. A third,
the "Peter Pence" Act, abolished the remaining contributions to the Papal
Treasury. At the same time the "exempt" monasteries--those, that is, which
had not been subject to the supervision of the bishops--were conveyed to
the King's control, still without episcopal intervention. A fourth Act, not
_prima facie_ ecclesiastical in character, was the Act of Succession,
declaring the offspring of Anne Boleyn (the princess Elizabeth had been
born in the previous September) heirs to the throne.

[Sidenote: The Pope's last word]

While these proceedings were in progress, the last attempt to subdue the
Pope by diplomacy was failing. At the end of March, Clement gave the long
deferred judgment on the divorce, pronouncing the marriage with Katharine
valid, and that with Anne Boleyn void. Clement survived but a short time.
His successor Paul III. had at one time been in Henry's favour; but
reconciliation was now outside the range of practical politics, and the new
Pope soon found himself more definitely antagonistic to the English monarch
than his predecessor had been.

[Sidenote: The Nun of Kent]

The prevailing superstitions of the day and their reality as factors even
in public life are curiously illustrated by the story of the "Nun of Kent"
--a story concluded by her execution about this time. The "Nun" was a young
woman named Elizabeth Barton of humble birth, who was subject to fits or
trances, presumably epileptic in character, in which trances she gave vent
to utterances which were supposed to be inspired, being generally religious
in their bearing. Having acquired some notoriety and a reputation for
sanctity, her prophesyings before long took the form of denunciation of the
divorce, at that time in its earlier stages. She was exploited by sundry
fanatical persons honest or otherwise--in such cases it is seldom possible
to fathom the extent to which mania, intentional deception, conscious or
unconscious suggestion, and mere credulity, are mingled. In those days,
there were few people who would venture to attribute such phenomena to
purely natural causes. Such a man as Thomas More, who was eminently
rational as well as deeply religious, was not easily beguiled; but the more
credulous and equally honest bishop of Rochester was unable to regard the
prophesyings as mere imposture, as was also the case with Warham; and being
thus countenanced, when the Nun's utterances reached the point of
denouncing the wrath of Heaven upon those who consented to the Divorce, she
became really dangerous. She and her associates were charged with treason
and executed, while Fisher was necessarily to some degree
implicated. Before her death the Nun made a confession of elaborate
imposture, but too much weight should not be attached to confessions made
under such conditions. Given a certain degree of mental aberration, the
case is not without parallels pointing to an absence of conscious fraud.
But whether in her case it was fraud or mania, the important fact remains
that there were numbers of people who attributed her utterances neither to
the one nor the other but to inspiration; numbers more who were in doubt on
the point; and that those utterances were to some extent utilised in a
seditious propaganda; for to declare as a message from on high that the
King and his advisers had brought upon themselves the curse of the Almighty
must be recognised as effectively, even if not intentionally, preaching

[Sidenote 1: The Act of Succession]
[Sidenote 2: The oath refused]

The proceedings against Elizabeth Barton had been accompanied by
revelations of more or less suspicious conduct on the part of the Countess
of Salisbury and of Poles, [Footnote: The Countess of Salisbury's
children. The de la Poles were now extinct. The Nevilles were the
Countess's kinsfolk, her mother having been a daughter of the Kingmaker.
See _Front_.] Courtenays and Nevilles, while the Princess Mary
declined to regard herself as illegitimate. This was made the pretext for
adopting a very irregular course in connexion with the Act of
Succession. The Act not only established the order of Succession to the
throne, but in the preamble asserted the invalidity of Katharine's
marriage, it was accompanied by an authority to exact an oath of obedience
to the Statute, the form of the oath not being laid down. Commissioners
were appointed to exact the oath, which was drawn up in a form accepting
the entire terms of the Act, not merely promising adhesion to its
provisions. Presented to them in this form, both More and Fisher refused to
take the oath. Both were prepared to swear to maintain the succession as
laid down; neither would avow a belief that the marriage with Katharine was
void _ab initio_. More laid down definitely the doctrine that it was
in the power of the State to determine the succession, and the duty of the
citizen to accept its decision; but that obviously does not involve an
opinion that the reasons for its decision are sound. Cranmer would fain
have persuaded the King to accept the oath thus modified as sufficient--not
realising that the primary object of Henry and Cromwell was to drive the
opponents of the divorce into a public recantation of their opinion. More
and Fisher were resolute, and were sent to the Tower, though in form an
indictment ought first to have been brought against them in the courts.
Cromwell expressed and no doubt felt a very genuine regret at the failure
of the plan; but it was ever Cromwell's method to strike at the most
influential opponents of his policy. If they would bend, well: if not, they
must break. The device of the oath would force the surrender or else the
destruction of the best members of the high Catholic party. Three of the
most zealous and most irreproachable monastic establishments--the London
Carthusians, the Richmond Observants, and the Brentford Brigittines--were
inveigled or cowed into temporary submission, but later reverted to the
position of More and Fisher, and suffered accordingly. The Greenwich
Observants refused submission altogether, and were dissolved.

[Sidenote: "The Bishop of Rome"]

Before the administration of the oath, the news of Clement's decision had
come from Rome, with a Bull of Excommunication to follow. It was well for
Henry that Francis could be relied on to keep Charles in check; for the
foreign ambassadors, whether well-informed or mainly because the wish was
father to the thought, were reporting serious disaffection in the country,
which otherwise might have led to armed intervention by the Emperor. The
answer to Rome however took the emphatic form of a declaration by
Convocation and the Universities that "the Bishop of Rome has no more
authority in England than any other foreign Bishop"; in addition to the
Acts of Parliament already recorded.

[Sidenote 1: Parliament (Nov.)]
[Sidenote 2: Treasons Act]

Before the end of the year (1534) Parliament was again in session. The
argument submitted to the Pope before the passing of the Annates Act--that
it pressed with undue severity on the bishops--was shown in its true
character by a new Annates Act which appropriated to the King the funds of
which the Pope had been deprived. The relief of the bishops was ignored. By
the "Act of the Supreme Head," Parliament also professedly confirmed the
declaration of Convocation in 1531; but omitted the saving [Footnote: See
p. 125] clause; and by a fresh Act of Succession, regularised the treatment
of More and Fisher, enforcing the oath in the form in which it had been
submitted to them, retrospectively. Then came the Treasons Act, the coping
stone of Resolute Government; bringing into the category of Treason not
only the specific overt actions to which it had been limited by the Act of
Edward III., but also "verbal treason" and even the refusal to answer
incriminating questions. It is easy to see what vast opportunities were
thus given for fastening a practically irrefutable charge of treason on any
victim selected, when the recognised principle was that the _onus
probandi_ lay with the accused. An irresistible instrument of tyranny
was created, justified of course by the usual argument that without such
powers it was not possible to deal adequately with the abnormal dangers of
the situation. It need only be remarked that where there is practically no
check on the abuse of such powers save the scrupulosity of the persons in
whom they are vested, the risk of flagrant injustice becomes almost
incalculable. Since the days of Edward III., no monarch had occupied the
throne with less risk of serious treason than Henry VIII. Under all save
Henry V. there had been active rebellion, and under him there was at least
one serious plot. Yet the treason statute of Edward III. had under them
been held sufficient. The new Act was in truth but one step in the
systematic development of autocracy under constitutional forms to which the
policy of Thomas Cromwell was devoted.

[Sidenote 1: 1529-34 The New Policy]
[Sidenote 2: Cromwell]

When Wolsey fell in 1529 the Duke of Norfolk became ostensibly the King's
most powerful subject. But it is impossible to trace to him or to his
following among the nobility the formulation of any sort of definite
policy. Nevertheless, a quite definite policy had been initiated after a
short lapse of time. Starting with the checking of palpable ecclesiastical
abuses, it had gone on to assert with steadily increasing rigour the
subjection of the entire clerical organisation to the Supreme Head, and to
embody the assertion of the theory in practical legislation, and dictation
to Convocation. It had threatened the papacy, till the threats issued
virtually in an ultimatum followed by repudiation of papal authority. It
had placed papal and ecclesiastical perquisites under gradual restrictions,
till by the last Annates Act it began transferring them openly to the
Crown. In many instances, the initiative had been ostensibly taken by
Parliament; in others, the King had exercised direct pressure on the
clergy, but had obtained from Parliament a ratification of the
ecclesiastical concessions. The whole trend of the policy, culminating in
the Treasons Act, was to concentrate effective control in the hands of the
sovereign, by consent of Parliament. And now Cromwell emerges as the man
who was to give that policy tremendous effect, and by inference at least as
its probable creator and organiser from the close of 1530. It is not till
1535 however that he becomes openly and indisputably first minister;
Wolsey's successor in Henry's confidence--and to Henry's gratitude.

[Sidenote: 1535 More and Fisher]

Before the prorogation of Parliament in February (1535) the two
recalcitrants in the Tower, More and Fisher, were attainted High Treason
for maintaining their refusal to take the prescribed oath under the Act of
Succession. It was perhaps in the hope that the King might hesitate to
proceed to extremities, in the face of a very marked expression of
sentiment, that the new Pope, Paul III., proceeded to nominate Fisher a
Cardinal. It ought to have been obvious that the very contrary effect would
have been produced: the step was naturally looked upon as a challenge. More
and Fisher were condemned to death and executed in the summer--martyrs
assuredly to conscience. The whole of their offence consisted in the single
fact that they could not and would not recant their belief in the validity
of Katharine's marriage. Had they sought to make converts to that opinion,
or to make it a text for preaching sedition, there might have been some
colour of justice in their punishment. As it was, such danger as there
might be in their holding that view lay entirely in the advertisement of it
by insistence on the oath. All Europe shuddered, and half England trembled
at the demonstration of ruthless power, when those two were struck down--
the aged bishop whose spotless character and saintly life had for many a
year given the lie to those who included all the higher clergy in a
universal condemnation; and the ex-chancellor, the friend of Erasmus, whose
wide learning, kindly wit, intellectual eminence, and unswerving rectitude
had won for him a European reputation greater than that of any other
Englishman of his time. The Carthusians, Brigittines, and Observants who
had been induced to give way on the question of the Oath reverted to the
position of More and Fisher. Their heads also were put to death, and the
houses broken up.

The wrath of the Pope was expressed in a Bull of Deposition; which however
on second thoughts he found it advisable to hold in suspense till three
years later.

[Sidenote: Cromwell made Vicar-General]

When More and Fisher opposed themselves obstinately to the King's will,
there was no doubt that the King would see to it that they paid the
penalty. But we may suspect that it was not Henry's brain but Cromwell's
which devised the policy of presenting them with the fatal dilemma. Before
they were put to death, the minister's supremacy was already established by
his appointment as Vicar-General, with full power to exercise on the King's
behalf all the rights vested in the Supreme Head of the Church: rights
which--however it might be asserted that they were and had been at all
times inherent in the sovereign--were now to be interpreted in a novel and
comprehensive spirit. But besides the development alike in extent and
intensity of the attack on the clerical organisation, we now find foreign
policy taking a new direction for which Cromwell was assuredly responsible.

[Sidenote 1: The German Lutherans]
[Sidenote 2: Overtures]

Hitherto, since the fall of Wolsey, the Emperor had been in steady
antagonism to the English King: so had the Pope, except when he had hopes
of the Imperial pressure on him being removed. France had on the whole
given support to England, usually of a lukewarm character. But it does not
appear that, until this time, Henry had learnt to look upon the German
Lutherans as an available political force: while his active hostility to
the Lutheran theology seemed to preclude anything in the nature of a
_rapprochement_ with the Protestant princes. Yet the Lutherans, like
Henry, had repudiated papal authority. Recently the French King had taken
up the idea of bringing about a compromise between the Pope on one side,
and the Lutherans and English on the other, which would place Charles in
dangerous straits. The prospect however was unpromising at the best; a
reconciliation with Rome was really impossible. Cromwell, then, conceived
the idea of a Protestant league, which would suggest to Francis the
advantage of following Henry's lead in throwing off the Roman allegiance,
and ranging himself with the Lutherans and the English. Henry's own
theological predilections stood in the way, and the Lutherans regarded him
with suspicion: but Cromwell looked to political expediency as a potent
salve for healing controversial differences. Thus in the late summer of
1535, the first advances were made in the direction of seeking a mutual
understanding with the German Protestants--not without hints that Henry had
an open mind on the subject of the Augsburg Confession. The Germans however
were in no haste to accept Henry as a brand plucked from the burning;
rather, they had a not unnatural suspicion that he merely wanted to make
use of them. They propounded conditions, which Cromwell submitted to
Gardiner, at this time ambassador at Paris. Whatever Gardiner's views were
as to papal ascendancy, he was no Lutheran; and he pointed out that to
accept the terms would deprive England of her ecclesiastical
independence. Thus the negotiations fell through--as might have been
expected. Nevertheless, the desire for the Lutheran alliance remained at
the back of Cromwell's policy; not avowed but latent; and it was in an
attempt to entangle Henry irrevocably in that policy that he committed, not
five years later, the blunder which cost him his head.

[Sidenote: Visitation of the Monasteries]

In the same Autumn--1535--Cromwell as Vicar-General opened his great
campaign against the monasteries; actuated, according to the historians on
one side, by a determination to remove a cancer which was destroying the
morality of the nation; according to the historians on the other side, by
the vast opportunities afforded for plunder.

[Sidenote: 1536 Suppression of Lesser Houses]

Heretofore the visitation of "exempt" monasteries had lain with the
Superiors of their respective orders, except when special authority had
been granted by the Pope to a Morton or a Wolsey. In other cases it had
been deputed to the bishops, each in his own diocese. At the time of the
recent Peter Pence Act (1534) the exempt houses had been formally subjected
to the King. Cromwell now took upon himself the right of visitation, not
only of the exempt monasteries, but of the others as well, suspending the
jurisdiction of the bishops while his enquiries were going forward, and
thus emphasising the doctrine that that jurisdiction was derived from the
King. Commissioners were appointed--Legh, Leyton, Bedyl, and Ap Rice--to
investigate and report upon the conduct and the finances of the various
houses. In a period of about three months (Oct.-Jan.), they made their
investigations and prepared their report, keeping up an active
correspondence with Cromwell in the meantime. On the strength of this
report, a bill was laid before Parliament and passed in February (1536),
suppressing all houses with less than 200 a year, 376 in number--of which
however 31 were reinstated later in the year as having been well
conducted. In part, their inmates were to be redistributed among the
greater houses; in part they were to be released from their vows; and in
part they were to receive some compensation.

[Sidenote: The evidence discussed]

Now it is clear that in the time at their disposal, the commissioners could
not possibly have sifted thoroughly the evidence brought before them. In
many cases there was enough that was gross, palpable, obvious, to warrant
condemnation at sight. But the scandalous levity and domineering insolence
with which they carried out their task must have suggested to the
ill-conditioned members of every community that slander and false-witness
might lead to favour and profit, and were not likely to be too carefully
tested: while it is easy to see how the insulting interrogatories would be
angrily resented, and answers be refused, or given in the most injudicious
manner, by perfectly innocent persons; while demands for inventories of
valuables were met by prevarication and concealment, when the object of the
commissioners was suspected of being spoliation. The letters of Leyton and
Legh convey the impression that the fouler the scandals unearthed or
retailed, the more enjoyment and humour they discovered in their
occupation. There can be no doubt that the state of things they found was
in general bad; but by their own statement it was by no means universally
so; and it is also clear that they accepted adverse witness almost without
examination and wilfully minimised all that was favourable.

[Sidenote: The Black Book]

Also, it is very doubtful whether the "black book" of monastic offences was
ever laid before parliament. The preamble to the bill set forth, luridly
enough, the conclusions arrived at by the King and the vicar-general, and
summed up the grounds for them. But it seems by no means improbable that
parliament simply accepted the statement thus laid before it. The black
book itself disappeared. The Protestant historians of Elizabeth's reign
said that Bonner destroyed it; the Roman Catholics affirm that it was the
other party who took care that the evidence on which they acted should
never be made known. The actual surviving evidence is to be found in the
partial summaries known as the Comperta and in the letters of the
commissioners to Cromwell. The examination of these can hardly fail to
leave the reader with a conviction that the methods of the Commissioners
were atrociously iniquitous, but that a strictly judicial investigation
would still have revealed a state of things often appalling, not seldom
vicious, and commonly reprehensible, without the elements which might have
made effective reform possible: while it is beyond a doubt that especially
among the younger monks and nuns, the desire to escape from the bonds of
monastic rule was common.

[Sidenote: The Consequent Commission]

In favour of the monasteries however, it is to be noted that these 376
minor houses were suppressed not as having been individually condemned, but
on the theory that the report pointed to the system of maintaining minor
houses as bad. Mixed commissions were now appointed to continue the
visitation, carry out the suppression, and recommend exemptions when it was
desirable; and the reports of these commissions were of a far less
unfavourable character, though (as we have seen) only 31 houses were
actually reinstated. It is to be observed also, in a somewhat different
connexion, that the further visitation was accompanied by the issuing of
Injunctions for the conduct of monastic establishments which may have been
designed solely with a view to enforcing a pure and pious manner of living,
but are undoubtedly open to the suspicion of having been deliberately
calculated to make the monastic life insupportable and so to encourage the
religious houses to efface themselves by voluntary surrender--a course
which was not infrequently adopted.

[Sidenote: The policy discussed]

There was sufficient precedent for laying the Church under heavy
contributions to the exchequer. The idea of deliberately confiscating
Church property had before now been seriously put forward. There had been
previous suppressions of monastic establishments; but in these cases the
funds, ostensibly at least, had been diverted to other purposes recognised
as ecclesiastical, such as Wolsey's schools and colleges. The
differentiating feature of Cromwell's confiscation was that the funds were
for the most part withdrawn from any ecclesiastical purpose whatever.
[Footnote: There was precedent for the proposal however in Parliamentary
petitions of Richard II.'s reign; but these had not taken effect in
legislation.] The monastic lands passed to lay owners by grant or purchase;
they enriched the King or his friends or those whom Cromwell thought fit to
enrich or to gratify. The evidence that in the public interest it was time
for the religious houses to go is convincing; the method of proceeding
against the smaller houses first was tactically shrewd, as evoking less
opposition at the outset; but even if it be conceded that the Church had
forfeited her property, it is impossible to find any excuse for the
application of the spoils to other than public objects. The Church might
simply be looked upon as a vast corporation, holding its wealth in trust
for the nation, and rightly deprived of that wealth when it failed to
fulfil the trust. But on that view, the wealth was bound to be handed over
to another body, to administer as a trust for the nation. The fact that
this was not done makes possible only one conclusion as to the motive of
the suppression. The Church was both the wealthiest and the least dangerous
victim available for bleeding, besides being open to the charge of
deserving to be penalised.

[Sidenote 1: Anne Boleyn threatened]
[Sidenote 2: Her condemnation and death]

In January 1536 the deeply-injured Katharine died; to be followed ere many
months had passed by her supplanter. Ostensibly, Henry had married Anne
Boleyn, because a male heir was needed to secure the succession; but she
had borne him only a daughter and a still-born son. Henry was disappointed
in her. Moreover, his passion had for some time been cooling: nor was her
character--even on the most favourable reading--calculated to retain
affections that had begun to wane. She was frivolous and undignified; her
arrogance and her assumption had left her few friends. She was jealous of
the attentions paid by her husband to Jane Seymour, who had been one of
Katharine's ladies-in-waiting--attentions which she received with a
becoming reserve. Suddenly it appeared that Anne had been guilty of gross
misconduct. Sundry gentlemen of the court, including her brother Lord
Rochford were charged with sharing her guilt. One of them ultimately made
confession--true or false. There were stories, flatly denied, that she had
been contracted to Northumberland: that she had actually been his wife when
she married Henry. There were stories that the marriage was void, because
of earlier relations between Henry and her mother and sister. Whether the
queen was guilty or not, the judges of course did what they were expected
to do; she was tried for treason and condemned. Cranmer was torn between an
affectionate conviction that she was really a good woman and an inability
to believe that the King could be misled, much less do her a deliberate and
conscious wrong. But some sort of admission which she made before him was
interpreted by the Archbishop as involving the nullity of the
marriage. Anne was executed: next day, the King married Jane Seymour; the
marriage with Anne was officially declared to have been invalid; Elizabeth
being of course de-legitimatised, and so occupying precisely the same
position as Mary. Thus Henry was left with three illegitimate children (the
third being the Duke of Richmond who died not long after), and no
legitimate heir--truly an ironical outcome of that divorce which his
apologists defend as having been demanded by the need of a successor with
an indisputable title to the throne!

[Sidenote: The Succession]

Within three weeks of Anne Boleyn's execution (May 19th, 1536), a new
parliament was sitting; for that which had commenced its sessions at the
end of 1529 had been dissolved in the spring of this year. The first
business was formally to ratify the late proceedings, and fix the
succession on the offspring of the new queen; the second was formally to
authorise the King himself to lay down the order of succession
thereafter. Incidentally we may note that the actual legitimate heir
presumptive [Footnote: See _Appendix B_, and _Front_.] to the
throne was now the King of Scotland, the son of Henry's elder sister
Margaret. The claims of a child of Jane Seymour could alone on legitimist
principles take precedence of his, if the judgments invalidating the two
previous marriages held good. It is only by admitting the power of
parliament to fix or delegate its power of fixing the succession, that
James's claim to be heir presumptive could be challenged. But there was no
sort of doubt that it would be in actual fact challenged, simply because
the English would not take a King from another land. There was not much
room in England for advocates of the doctrine of Divine Right. Neither
Henry IV, and his successors, nor Henry VII., nor Elizabeth, could have
maintained a plausible claim to the throne apart from their title by Act of
Parliament. Of present importance however was the fact that both Katharine
and Anne were dead before the marriage of Queen Jane; there could therefore
be absolutely no ground for challenging the legitimacy of any children of
hers, while any conceivable claims on behalf of either Mary or Elizabeth
would necessarily yield precedence to the claim of Jane's son, should she
bear one. Moreover, since there was now no Katharine to claim rights as a
queen, and her supplanter had died a traitor's death, Mary might without
risk be re-instated as a Princess on sufficient grounds. Thus a door was
opened for a renewal of amity with the Emperor.

[Sidenote: Punishment of Heresy]

The aims and objects of the Reformation in England had been entirely
political and financial. There had been no official movement towards a new
doctrinal standpoint. On the contrary, the suppression of heresy had been
not less active after Cranmer's accession to the primacy than before. The
prosecutions however do not at any time appear to have originated with the
clergy: and the Ordinaries habitually endeavoured to procure the
recantation of heresy rather than the exaction of its penalties. But the
most advanced of the clergy, even those who like Latimer were continually
verging on doctrines which their stricter brethren regarded as heretical,
showed as little mercy as any one to the upholders of Anabaptism; whose
theology was usually combined--or supposed to be so--with perverted views
on the political and social order. To this class belong most of the martyrs
of the period; with the notable exception of John Frith. Frith was a young
man of great piety and learning, who would probably never have been
arrested but for his association with the distributors of forbidden
literature. Being arrested, he maintained--in spite of earnest efforts to
persuade him to recant--the Zwinglian doctrine of the Lord's Supper: but
further he stood almost alone in declaring that to hold a correct opinion
on this point of doctrine could not be essential to salvation. Frith was
the first and almost the only martyr (July, 1533) to the theory of
toleration, to which neither Romanists nor Protestants, Anglicans nor
Zwinglians, were yet ready to give ear.

[Sidenote 1: Progressive Movement]
[Sidenote 2: The Ten Articles]

Although, however, there had been no revolt from orthodox doctrine the
course of the Reformation abroad could not be without influence in
England. There was a growing inclination to think and speak of minor
questions as being debatable; an increasing suspicion on one side that the
spread of knowledge and of discussion tended to heresy and to
irreverence--on the other, that they tended to edification. In theory the
leading ecclesiastics agreed that an authorised translation of the Bible
would be good, but half of them were afraid that it would lead to novel and
dangerous interpretations. The general attitude may be regarded as one of
uneasiness. Hence the commission appointed under Cranmer's auspices did
little; and Cranmer himself, whose heart was really in the scheme, was
overjoyed [Footnote: Dr. Gairdner (_Eng. Church_, p. 192) thinks
however that it was Matthew's Bible, issued next year, to which Cranmer's
expressions of satisfaction were applied.] when Coverdale produced a
rendering to which an authoritative _imprimatur_ could be given. The
general sense of unrest, aggravated perhaps by some alarm lest the Augsburg
Confession should attract adherents--especially since the Lutherans had
been told that there might be room for its discussion--led to the
enunciation of the first of the Anglican formulae of Faith, known as the
Ten Articles "for establishing Christian Quietness," in July 1536:
professedly prepared by the King's own hand. These Articles contained no
deviation from orthodox dogma; but their most notable feature lay in the
distinction drawn between institutions necessary and convenient, with the
implication that the latter were liable to modification.

[Sidenote: The Lincolnshire rising]

The issuing of these Articles with the sanction alike of King, Parliament,
and Convocation, was probably intended to counteract the alarm attendant on

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