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Title: History of England from the Fall of Wolsey to the Death of Elizabeth. Vol. II.
Author: Froude, James Anthony, 1818-1894
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "History of England from the Fall of Wolsey to the Death of Elizabeth. Vol. II." ***

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Charles Scribner and Co of No 654 Broadway New York have authority from
me to publish all works which I have chiefly written and may hereafter
write. J A Froude.

London. Jan. 29. 1871.]





  The Lollards                                                    16

  Presentation to Religious Benefices in the Fourteenth Century   17

  Statutes of Provisors                                           21

  Rise of the Lollards                                            25

  John Wycliffe                                                   26

  Theory of Property                                              28

  Insurrection of Wat Tyler                                       29

  Wycliffe's Influence declines                                   30

  Death of Wycliffe                                               31

  Insurrection of Oldcastle                                       34

  Close of the Lollard Movement                                   35

  New Birth of Protestantism                                      37

  The Christian Brothers                                          38

  Luther                                                          39

  Multiplication of Testaments                                    40

  William Tyndal                                                  41

  The Antwerp Printing-Press                                      42

  The Christian Brothers                                          43

  Wolsey's Persecutions                                           49

  Story of Anthony Dalaber                                        57

  Escape of Garret                                                69

  Perplexity of the Authorities                                   70

  The Ports are set for Garret's Capture                          71

  Garret goes to Bristol, and is taken                            72

  The Investigation at Oxford                                     73

  Doctor London's Intercession                                    74

  The Bishop of Lincoln                                           75

  Oxford is Purged                                                76

  Temper of the Protestants                                       77

  The Fall of Wolsey brings no Relief                             78

  Sir Thomas More as Chancellor                                   79

  Contrast between Wolsey and More                                88

  Martyrdom of Bilney                                             89

  Martyrdom of James Bainham                                      90

  Feelings of the People                                          92

  Pavier the Town Clerk                                           93

  The Worship of Relics                                           94

  Roods and Relics                                                95

  The Rood of Dovercourt                                          96

  The Paladins                                                    97

  Early Life of Latimer                                           98

  He goes to Cambridge                                           100

  Latimer's Education                                            101

  His Fame as a Preacher                                         102

  He is appointed Chaplain to the King                           103

  His Defence of the Protestants                                 104

  He is cited before the Bishops                                 105

  Latimer before the Bishops                                     106

  Thomas Cromwell                                                109

  Will of Thomas Cromwell                                        116



  Mary of Hungary                                                125

  The King is cited to Rome                                      127

  Clement refuses further Delay                                  128

  Isolation of England                                           129

  Henry urgent against the Interview                             130

  He appeals to a Council                                        132

  Terms of the Appeal                                            134

  Legal Value of the Appeal                                      136

  Cranmer's Sentence known at Rome                               137

  Measures of the Consistory                                     138

  Henry again calls on Francis                                   140

  He will not surrender his Marriage                             141

  He will not repeal his Legislation                             142

  He urges the Rupture of the Interview                          143

  Recal of the Embassy                                           144

  England and Germany                                            145

  Birth of Elizabeth                                             149

  Clement arrives at Marseilles                                  150

  The Interview                                                  151

  Bonner at Marseilles                                           152

  Bonner and the Pope                                            153

  The Pope rejects the Appeal                                    157

  Proposal for a Court to sit at Cambray                         158

  Francis implores Henry to consent                              159

  Henry refuses to revoke the Laws against the Papacy            160

  State of England                                               162

  The Princess Mary                                              165

  Queen Catherine                                                168

  The Nun of Kent                                                170

  State of Feeling in England                                    178

  Proposed Marriage of the Princess Mary                         181

  The Nun of Kent                                                183

  Disgrace of Mary                                               184

  The Countess of Salisbury                                      185

  The Nevilles                                                   187

  General Superstition                                           191

  Proposals for a Protestant League used as a Menace to Francis  192

  The Protestant League                                          194

  The Court of Brussels                                          196

  Meeting of Parliament                                          197

  Perils of the Reformation                                      198

  Cromwell                                                       199

  Opening Measures                                               200

  The Congé d'Élire                                              201

  Abolition of Exactions                                         204

  Closing Protest                                                205

  Apology of Sir Thomas More accepted by the King                206

  Obstinate Defence of Fisher                                    208

  The Bill proceeds                                              209

  Execution of the Nun                                           210

  Her last Words                                                 211

  The Act of Succession                                          212

  The first Oath of Allegiance                                   216

  Clement gives final Sentence against the King                  218

  Obscurity of the Pope's Conduct                                222

  Mission of the Duke of Guise                                   223

  The French Fleet watch the Channel                             224

  The Commission sits to receive the Oath                        225

  More and Fisher                                                226

  More before the Commission                                     227

  He refuses to Swear                                            228

  Debate in Council                                              229

  The Government are peremptory                                  230

  Concession not possible                                        231

  Royal Proclamation                                             232

  Circular to the Sheriffs                                       233

  Death of Clement VII.                                          236



  State of Ireland                                               237

  The Norman Conquest                                            238

  Absentees                                                      239

  The Norman Irish                                               241

  Weakness of the English Rule                                   248

  Distribution of the Irish Clans                                249

  The Irish Reaction                                             251

  Condition of the People                                        253

  English and Irish Estimates                                    254

  Ireland for the Irish                                          255

  Coyne and Livery                                               256

  The Geraldines of Kildare                                      257

  Deputation of Lord Surrey                                      261

  Return of Kildare                                              265

  Foreign Intrigues                                              266

  Desmond intrigues with the Emperor                             267

  Geraldine Conspiracy                                           268

  Kildare sent to the Tower                                      270

  The Irish Rise                                                 271

  The Duke of Richmond Viceroy                                   272

  Third Deputation to Kildare                                    273

  Ireland in its Ideal State                                     274

  New Aspects of Irish Rebellion                                 275

  Ireland and the Papacy                                         276

  Kildare is sent to the Tower                                   277

  Desmond and the Emperor                                        278

  Corny O'Brien                                                  279

  The Holy War of the Geraldines                                 280

  General Rebellion                                              281

  Siege of Dublin                                                282

  Murder of Archbishop Allen                                     284

  Fitzgerald writes to the Pope                                  285

  Dublin saved by the Earl of Ormond                             286

  A Truce agreed to                                              287

  Delay of the English Deputy                                    288

  Ormond again saves Dublin                                      289

  The Deputy sails from Beaumaris                                290

  Mismanagement of Skeffington                                   291

  Delay and Incapacity                                           292

  Burning of Trim and Dunboyne                                   293

  Skeffington will not move                                      294

  General Despondency                                            295

  Disorganization of the English Army                            296

  The Campaign opens                                             297

  Siege of Maynooth                                              298

  Storming of the Castle                                         299

  The Pardon of Maynooth                                         300

  The Rebellion collapses                                        301

  Lord Leonard Grey                                              302

  Fitzgerald surrenders                                          303

  Dilemma of the Government                                      304

  Execution of Fitzgerald                                        305

  End of the Rebellion                                           306



  State of England in 1534                                       307

  Temper of the Clergy                                           308

  Order for Preaching                                            310

  Secret Disaffection among the Clergy                           312

  The Confessional                                               313

  Treasonable Intrigues                                          317

  Catholic Treasons                                              318

  Persecuting Laws against the Catholics                         319

  The Act of Supremacy                                           322

  The Oath of Allegiance                                         326

  Election of Paul the Third                                     328

  Anxiety of the Emperor                                         330

  Proposals for a Catholic Coalition                             331

  Counter-Overtures of Francis to Henry                          332

  Attitude of Henry                                              333

  Distrust of France                                             335

  England and the Papacy                                         336

  The Penal Laws                                                 337

  The Battle of the Faiths                                       338

  The Charterhouse Monks                                         339

  The Anabaptist Martyrs                                         357

  Fisher and More                                                359

  Fisher named Cardinal                                          364

  The Pope condescends to Falsehood                              365

  Fisher Tried and Sentenced                                     366

  Execution of Fisher                                            367

  Sir Thomas More                                                368

  Effect upon Europe                                             377

  Letter to Cassalis                                             382

  Reply of the Pope                                              385

  Bull of Deposition                                             386

  Intrigues of Francis in Germany                                388

  England and Germany                                            390



  Visitation of the Monasteries                                  396

  The Abbey of St. Albans                                        402

  Commission of 1535                                             407

  The Visitors at Oxford                                         409

  Progress of the Visitors                                       413

  Visit to Langden Abbey                                         415

  Fountains Abbey                                                417

  The Monks at Fordham                                           419

  The Monks of Pershore                                          421

  Rules to be observed in all Abbeys                             423

  The Black Book in Parliament                                   427

  Discussion in Parliament                                       429

  Conflicting Opinions                                           431

  Smaller Houses suppressed                                      433

  The Protestant Bishops                                         435

  State of London                                                437

  The Vagrant Act                                                439

  Remission of Firstfruits                                       440

  Dissolution of Parliament                                      441

  The Work accomplished by Parliament                            442



  Death of Queen Catherine                                       443

  Anne Boleyn                                                    446

  Anne Boleyn committed to the Tower                             454

  The Tower                                                      457

  Cranmer's Letter to the King                                   459

  Cranmer's Postscript                                           461

  Preparations for the Trial                                     468

  True Bills found by the Grand Juries                           469

  The Indictment                                                 470

  The Trials                                                     476

  The opposite Probabilities                                     480

  Execution of the five Gentlemen                                483

  The Divorce                                                    484

  The Execution                                                  486

  The Succession                                                 488

  The King's Third Marriage                                      490

  Opinions of Foreign Courts                                     491

  Meeting of Parliament                                          492

  Speech of the Lord Chancellor                                  493

  Second Act of Succession                                       495



Where changes are about to take place of great and enduring moment, a
kind of prologue, on a small scale, sometimes anticipates the true
opening of the drama; like the first drops which give notice of the
coming storm, or as if the shadows of the reality were projected
forwards into the future, and imitated in dumb show the movements of the
real actors in the story.

[Sidenote: Prelude to the Reformation in the fourteenth century.]

Such a rehearsal of the English Reformation was witnessed at the close
of the fourteenth century, confused, imperfect, disproportioned, to
outward appearance barren of results; yet containing a representative of
each one of the mixed forces by which that great change was ultimately
effected, and foreshadowing even something of the course which it was to

[Sidenote: The Lollards forerunners, not fathers, of the Reformation.]

There was a quarrel with the pope upon the extent of the papal
privileges; there were disputes between the laity and the
clergy,--accompanied, as if involuntarily, by attacks on the sacramental
system and the Catholic faith,--while innovation in doctrine was
accompanied also with the tendency which characterized the extreme
development of the later Protestants--towards political republicanism,
the fifth monarchy, and community of goods. Some account of this
movement must be given in this place, although it can be but a sketch
only. "Lollardry"[1] has a history of its own; but it forms no proper
part of the history of the Reformation. It was a separate phenomenon,
provoked by the same causes which produced their true fruit at a later
period; but it formed no portion of the stem on which those fruits
ultimately grew. It was a prelude which was played out, and sank into
silence, answering for the time no other end than to make the name of
heretic odious in the ears of the English nation. In their recoil from
their first failure, the people stamped their hatred of heterodoxy into
their language; and in the word _miscreant_, misbeliever, as the synonym
of the worst species of reprobate, they left an indelible record of the
popular estimate of the followers of John Wycliffe.

[Sidenote: Changes in the mode of presentation to bishopricks.]

[Sidenote: Right of free election conceded in the great charter to the
chapters and the religious houses.]

The Lollard story opens with the disputes between the crown and the see
of Rome on the presentation to English benefices. For the hundred and
fifty years which succeeded the Conquest, the right of nominating the
archbishops, the bishops, and the mitred abbots, had been claimed and
exercised by the crown. On the passing of the great charter, the church
had recovered its liberties, and the privilege of free election had been
conceded by a special clause to the clergy. The practice which then
became established was in accordance with the general spirit of the
English constitution. On the vacancy of a see, the cathedral chapter
applied to the crown for a congé d'élire. The application was a form;
the consent was invariable. A bishop was then elected by a majority of
suffrages; his name was submitted to the metropolitan, and by him to the
pope. If the pope signified his approval, the election was complete;
consecration followed; and the bishop having been furnished with his
bulls of investiture, was presented to the king, and from him received
"the temporalities" of his see. The mode in which the great abbots were
chosen was precisely similar; the superiors of the orders to which the
abbeys belonged were the channels of communication with the pope, in the
place of the archbishops; but the elections in themselves were free, and
were conducted in the same manner. The smaller church benefices, the
small monasteries or parish churches, were in the hands of private
patrons, lay or ecclesiastical; but in the case of each institution a
reference was admitted, or was supposed to be admitted, to the court of

[Sidenote: Privilege of the pope and of the superiors of the religious
orders in controlling the elections.]

[Sidenote: A.D. 1306-7.]

There was thus in the pope's hand an authority of an indefinite kind,
which it was presumed that his sacred office would forbid him to abuse,
but which, however, if he so unfortunately pleased, he might abuse at
his discretion. He had absolute power over every nomination to an
English benefice; he might refuse his consent till such adequate
reasons, material or spiritual, as he considered sufficient to induce
him to acquiesce, had been submitted to his consideration. In the case
of nominations to the religious houses, the superiors of the various
orders residing abroad had equal facilities for obstructiveness; and the
consequence of so large a confidence in the purity of the higher orders
of the Church became visible in an act of parliament which it was found
necessary to pass in 1306-7.[2]

[Sidenote: Act to prevent the superiors resident abroad from laying
taxes on the English houses.]

"Of late," says this act, "it has come to the knowledge of the king, by
the grievous complaint of the honourable persons, lords, and other
noblemen of his realm, that whereas monasteries, priories, and other
religious houses were founded to the honour and glory of God, and the
advancement of holy church, by the king and his progenitors, and by the
said noblemen and their ancestors; and a very great portion of lands and
tenements have been given by them to the said monasteries, priories, and
religious houses, and the religious men serving God in them; to the
intent that clerks and laymen might be admitted in such houses, and that
sick and feeble folk might be maintained, hospitality, almsgiving, and
other charitable deeds might be done, and prayers be said for the souls
of the founders and their heirs; the abbots, priors, and governors of
the said houses, _and certain aliens their superiors_, as the abbots and
priors of the Cistercians, the Premonstrants, the orders of Saint
Augustine and of Saint Benedict, and many more of other religions and
orders have at their own pleasure set divers heavy, unwonted heavy and
importable tallages, payments, and impositions upon every of the said
monasteries and houses subject unto them, in England, Ireland, Scotland,
and Wales, without the privity of the king and his nobility, contrary to
the laws and customs of the said realm; and thereby the number of
religious persons being oppressed by such tallages, payments, and
impositions, the service of God is diminished, alms are not given to the
poor, the sick, and the feeble; the healths of the living and the souls
of the dead be miserably defrauded; hospitality, almsgiving, and other
godly deeds do cease; and so that which in times past was charitably
given to godly uses and to the service of God, is now converted to an
evil end, by permission whereof there groweth great scandal to the
people." To provide against a continuance of these abuses, it was
enacted that no "religious" persons should, under any pretence or form,
send out of the kingdom any kind of rent, tax, or tallage; and that
"priors aliens" should not presume to assess any payment, charge, or
other burden whatever upon houses within the realm.[3]

The language of this act was studiously guarded. The pope was not
alluded to; the specific methods by which the extortion was practised
were not explained; the tax upon presentations to benefices, either
having not yet distinguished itself beyond other impositions, or the
government trusting that a measure of this general kind might answer the
desired end. Lucrative encroachments, however, do not yield so easily to
treatment; nearly fifty years after it became necessary to reënact the
same statute; and while recapitulating the provisions of it, the
parliament found it desirable to point out more specifically the
intention with which it was passed.

The popes in the interval had absorbed in their turn from the heads of
the religious orders, the privileges which by them had been extorted
from the affiliated societies. Each English benefice had become the
fountain of a rivulet which flowed into the Roman exchequer, or a
property to be distributed as the private patronage of the Roman bishop:
and the English parliament for the first time found itself in collision
with the Father of Christendom.

[Sidenote: Statute of provisors forbidding the attempts of the popes to
present to benefices in England.]

"The pope," says the fourth of the twenty-fifth of Edward III.,
"accroaching to himself the signories of the benefices within the realm
of England, doth give and grant the same to aliens which did never dwell
in England, and to cardinals which could not dwell here, and to others
as well aliens as denizens, whereby manifold inconveniences have
ensued." "Not regarding" the statute of Edward I., he had also continued
to present to bishopricks, abbeys, priories, and other valuable
preferments: money in large quantities was carried out of the realm from
the proceeds of these offices, and it was necessary to insist
emphatically that the papal nominations should cease. They were made in
violation of the law, and were conducted with simony so flagrant that
English benefices were sold in the papal courts to any person who would
pay for them, whether an Englishman or a stranger. It was therefore
decreed that the elections to bishopricks should be free as in time
past, that the rights of patrons should be preserved, and penalties of
imprisonment, forfeiture, or outlawry, according to the complexion of
the offence, should be attached to all impetration of benefices from
Rome by purchase or otherwise.[4]

[Sidenote: The statute fails, and is again enacted in fresh forms.]

If statute law could have touched the evil, these enactments would have
been sufficient for the purpose; but the influence of the popes in
England was of that subtle kind which was not so readily defeated. The
law was still defied, or still evaded; and the struggle continued till
the close of the century, the legislature labouring patiently, but
ineffectually, to confine with fresh enactments their ingenious

[Sidenote: The popes threaten the censures of the church.]

[Sidenote: The parliament declares that to bring any such censures into
the realm shall be punished with death and forfeiture.]

At length symptoms appeared of an intention on the part of the popes to
maintain their claims with spiritual censures, and the nation was
obliged to resolve upon the course which, in the event of their
resorting to that extremity, it would follow. The lay lords[6] and the
House of Commons found no difficulty in arriving at a conclusion. They
passed a fresh penal statute with prohibitions even more emphatically
stringent, and decided that "if any man brought into this realm any
sentence, summons, or excommunication, contrary to the effect of the
statute, he should incur pain of life and members, with forfeiture of
goods; and if any prelate made execution of such sentence, his
temporalities should be taken from him, and should abide in the king's
hands till redress was made."[7]

[Sidenote: A "great council" addresses the pope, with a desire for an

[Sidenote: The question is brought to an issue by the excommunication of
the bishops.]

So bold a measure threatened nothing less than open rupture. The act,
however, seems to have been passed in haste, without determined
consideration; and on second thoughts, it was held more prudent to
attempt a milder course. The strength of the opposition to the papacy
lay with the Commons.[8] When the session of parliament was over, a
great council was summoned to reconsider what should be done, and an
address was drawn up, and forwarded to Rome, with a request that the
then reigning pope would devise some manner by which the difficulty
could be arranged.[9] Boniface IX. replied with the same want of
judgment which was shown afterwards on an analogous occasion by Clement
VII. He disbelieved the danger; and daring the government to persevere,
he granted a prebendal stall at Wells to an Italian cardinal, to which a
presentation had been made already by the king. Opposing suits were
instantly instituted between the claimants in the courts of the two
countries. A decision was given in England in favour of the nominee of
the king, and the bishops agreeing to support the crown were
excommunicated.[10] The court of Rome had resolved to try the issue by a
struggle of force, and the government had no alternative but to
surrender at discretion, or to persevere at all hazards, and resist the

[Sidenote: A.D. 1392-3.]

[Sidenote: The House of Commons declare that they will stand with the
Crown to live and die,]

[Sidenote: And desire the king to examine the lords spiritual and
temporal how they will stand.]

[Sidenote: The lay lords answer directly, and the spiritual lords
indirectly, to the same effect with the Commons.]

The proceedings on this occasion seem to have been unusual, and
significant of the importance of the crisis. Parliament either was
sitting at the time when the excommunication was issued, or else it was
immediately assembled; and the House of Commons drew up, in the form of
a petition to the king, a declaration of the circumstances which had
occurred. After having stated generally the English law on the
presentation to benefices, "Now of late," they added, "divers processes
be made by his Holiness the Pope, and censures of excommunication upon
certain bishops, because they have made execution of the judgments
[given in the king's courts], to the open disherison of the crown;
whereby, if remedy be not provided; the crown of England, which hath
been so free at all times, that it has been in no earthly subjection,
should be submitted to the pope; and the laws and statutes of the realm
by him be defeated and avoided at his will, in perpetual destruction of
the sovereignty of the king our lord, his crown, his regality, and all
his realm." The Commons, therefore, on their part, declared, "That the
things so attempted were clearly against the king's crown and his
regality; used and approved or in the time of all his progenitors, and
therefore they and all the liege commons of the realm would stand with
their said lord the king, and his said crown, in the cases aforesaid, to
live and die."[11] Whether they made allusion to the act of 1389 does
not appear,--a measure passed under protest from one of the estates of
the realm was possibly held unequal to meet the emergency,--at all
events they would not rely upon it. For after this peremptory assertion
of their own opinion, they desired the king, "and required him in the
way of justice," to examine severally the lords spiritual and temporal
how they thought, and how they would stand.[12] The examination was
made, and the result was satisfactory. The lay lords replied without
reservation that they would support the crown. The bishops (they were in
a difficulty for which all allowance must be made) gave a cautious, but
also a manly answer. They would not affirm, they said, that the pope had
a right to excommunicate them in such cases, and they would not say that
he had not. It was clear, however, that legal or illegal, such
excommunication was against the privileges of the English crown, and
therefore that, on the whole, they would and ought to be with the crown,
_loialment_, like loyal subjects, as they were bound by their

In this unusual and emphatic manner, the three estates agreed that the
pope should be resisted; and an act passed "that all persons suing at
the court of Rome, and obtaining thence any bulls, instruments,
sentences of excommunication which touched the king, or were against
him, his regality, or his realm, and they which brought the same within
the realm, or received the same, or made thereof notification, or any
other execution whatever, within the realm or without, they, their
notaries, procurators, maintainers and abettors, fautors and
counsellors, should be put out of the king's protection, and their lands
and tenements, goods and chattels, be forfeited."

[Sidenote: The pope yields.]

The resolute attitude of the country terminated the struggle. Boniface
prudently yielded, and for the moment, and indeed for ever under this
especial form, the wave of papal encroachment was rolled back. The
temper which had been roused in the contest might perhaps have carried
the nation further. The liberties of the crown had been asserted
successfully. The analogous liberties of the church might have
followed; and other channels, too, might have been cut off, through
which the papal exchequer fed itself on English blood. But at this
crisis the anti-Roman policy was arrested in its course by another
movement, which turned the current of suspicion, and frightened back the
nation to conservatism.

[Sidenote: Analogous agitation among the laity against the corruption of
the clergy.]

While the crown and the parliament had been engaged with the pope, the
undulations of the dispute had penetrated down among the body of the
people, and an agitation had been commenced or an analogous kind against
the spiritual authorities at home. The parliament had lamented that the
duties of the religious houses were left unfulfilled, in consequence of
the extortions of their superiors abroad. The people, who were equally
convinced of the neglect of duty, adopted an interpretation of the
phenomenon less favourable to the clergy, and attributed it to the
temptations of worldliness, and the self-indulgence generated by
enormous wealth.

[Sidenote: John Wycliffe.]

This form of discontent found its exponent in John Wycliffe, the great
forerunner of the Reformation, whose austere figure stands out above the
crowd of notables in English history, with an outline not unlike that of
another forerunner of a greater change.

[Sidenote: His early career.]

The early life of Wycliffe is obscure. Lewis, on the authority of
Leland,[14] says that he was born near Richmond, in Yorkshire. Fuller,
though with some hesitation, prefers Durham.[15] He emerges into
distinct notice in 1360, ten years subsequent to the passing of the
first Statute of Provisors, having then acquired a great Oxford
reputation as a lecturer in divinity, and having earned for himself
powerful friends and powerful enemies. He had made his name
distinguished by attacks upon the clergy for their indolence and
profligacy: attacks both written and orally delivered,--those, written,
we observe, being written in English, not in Latin.[16] In 1365, Islip,
Archbishop of Canterbury, appointed him Warden of Canterbury Hall; the
appointment, however, was made with some irregularity, and the following
year, Archbishop Islip dying, his successor, Langham, deprived Wycliffe,
and the sentence was confirmed by the king. It seemed, nevertheless,
that no personal reflection was intended by this decision, for Edward
III. nominated the ex-warden one of his chaplains immediately after, and
employed him on an important mission to Bruges, where a conference on
the benefice question was to be held with a papal commission.

Other church preferment was subsequently given to Wycliffe; but Oxford
remained the chief scene of his work. He continued to hold his
professorship of divinity; and from this office the character of his
history took its complexion. At a time when books were rare and
difficult to be procured, lecturers who had truth to communicate fresh
drawn from the fountain, held an influence which in these days it is as
difficult to imagine as, however, it is impossible to overrate. Students
from all Europe flocked to the feet of a celebrated professor, who
became the leader of a party by the mere fact of his position.

[Sidenote: Simplicity of his life and habits.]

[Sidenote: The poor priests.]

[Sidenote: His doctrines.]

[Sidenote: The translation of the Bible.]

The burden of Wycliffe's teaching was the exposure of the indolent
fictions which passed under the name of religion in the established
theory of the church. He was a man of most simple life; austere in
appearance, with bare feet and russet mantle.[17] As a soldier of
Christ, he saw in his Great Master and his Apostles the patterns whom he
was bound to imitate. By the contagion of example he gathered about him
other men who thought as he did; and gradually, under his captaincy,
these "poor priests," as they were called--vowed to poverty because
Christ was poor--vowed to accept no benefice, lest they should misspend
the property of the poor, and because, as apostles, they were bound to
go where their Master called them,[18] spread out over the country as an
army of missionaries, to preach the faith which they found in the
Bible--to preach, not of relics and of indulgences, but of repentance
and of the grace of God. They carried with them copies of the Bible
which Wycliffe had translated, leaving here and there, as they
travelled, their costly treasures, as shining seed points of light; and
they refused to recognise the authority of the bishops, or their right
to silence them.

[Sidenote: He is protected by John of Gaunt.]

If this had been all, and perhaps if Edward III. had been succeeded by a
prince less miserably incapable than his grandson Richard, Wycliffe
might have made good his ground; the movement of the parliament against
the pope might have united in a common stream with the spiritual move
against the church at home, and the Reformation have been antedated by a
century. He was summoned to answer for himself before the Archbishop of
Canterbury in 1377. He appeared in court supported by the presence of
John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, the eldest of Edward's surviving sons,
and the authorities were unable to strike him behind so powerful a

[Sidenote: Theory that the laity had a right to deprive the clergy of
their property.]

But the "poor priests" had other doctrines besides those which they
discovered in the Bible, relating to subjects with which, as apostles,
they would have done better if they had shrunk from meddling. The
inefficiency of the clergy was occasioned, as Wycliffe thought, by their
wealth and by their luxury. He desired to save them from a temptation
too heavy for them to bear, and he insisted that by neglect of duty
their wealth had been forfeited, and that it was the business of the
laity to take it from its unworthy possessors. The invectives with which
the argument was accompanied produced a widely-spread irritation. The
reins of the country fell simultaneously into the weak hands of Richard
II., and the consequence was a rapid spread of disorder. In the year
which followed Richard's accession, consistory judges were assaulted in
their courts, sanctuaries were violated, priests were attacked and
ill-treated in church, churchyard, and cathedral, and even while engaged
in the mass;[19] the contagion of the growing anarchy seems to have
touched even Wycliffe himself, and touched him in a point most deeply

[Sidenote: Tendencies to anabaptism.]

[Sidenote: Theory of the tenure of property.]

[Sidenote: Wat Tyler's insurrection.]

[Sidenote: A mischievous comment on Wycliffe's teaching.]

His theory of property, and his study of the character of Christ, had
led him to the near confines of Anabaptism. Expanding his views upon the
estates of the church into an axiom, he taught that "charters of
perpetual inheritance were impossible;" "that God could not give men
civil possessions for ever;"[20] "that property was founded in grace,
and derived from God;" and "seeing that forfeiture was the punishment of
treason, and all sin was treason against God, the sinner must
consequently forfeit his right to what he held of God." These
propositions were nakedly true, as we shall most of us allow; but God
has his own methods of enforcing extreme principles; and human
legislation may only meddle with them at its peril. The theory as an
abstraction could be represented as applying equally to the laity as to
the clergy, and the new teaching received a practical comment in 1381,
in the invasion of London by Wat, the tyler of Dartford, and 100,000
men, who were to level all ranks, put down the church, and establish
universal liberty.[21] Two priests accompanied the insurgents, not
Wycliffe's followers, but the licentious counterfeits of them, who trod
inevitably in their footsteps, and were as inevitably countenanced by
their doctrines. The insurrection was attended with the bloodshed,
destruction, and ferocity natural to such outbreaks. The Archbishop of
Canterbury and many gentlemen were murdered; and a great part of London
sacked and burnt. It would be absurd to attribute this disaster to
Wycliffe, nor was there any desire to hold him responsible for it; but
it is equally certain that the doctrines which he had taught were
incompatible, at that particular time, with an effective repression of
the spirit which had caused the explosion. It is equally certain that he
had brought discredit on his nobler efforts by ambiguous language on a
subject of the utmost difficulty, and had taught the wiser and better
portion of the people to confound heterodoxy of opinion with sedition,
anarchy, and disorder.

[Sidenote: Measure for the repression of the poor priests passed in the
House of Lords.]

[Sidenote: Rejected by the Commons at Wycliffe's petition.]

So long as Wycliffe lived, his own lofty character was a guarantee for
the conduct of his immediate disciples; and although his favour had far
declined, a party in the state remained attached to him, with sufficient
influence to prevent the adoption of extreme measures against the "poor
priests." In the year following the insurrection, an act was passed for
their repression in the House of Lords, and was sent down by the king to
the Commons. They were spoken of as "evil persons," going from place to
place in defiance of the bishops, preaching in the open air to great
congregations at markets and fairs, "exciting the people," "engendering
discord between the estates of the realm." The ordinaries had no power
to silence them, and had therefore desired that commissions should be
issued to the sheriffs of the various counties, to arrest all such
persons, and confine them, until they would "justify themselves" in the
ecclesiastical courts.[22] Wycliffe petitioned against the bill, and it
was rejected; not so much perhaps out of tenderness for the reformer, as
because the Lower House was excited by the controversy with the pope;
and being doubtfully disposed towards the clergy, was reluctant to
subject the people to a more stringent spiritual control.

[Sidenote: Wycliffe's position, however, declines. He makes his

[Sidenote: And dies Dec. 31, 1384.]

But Wycliffe himself meanwhile had received a clear intimation of his
own declining position. His opposition to the church authorities, and
his efforts at reinvigorating the faith of the country, had led him into
doubtful statements on the nature of the eucharist; he had entangled
himself in dubious metaphysics on a subject on which no middle course is
really possible; and being summoned to answer for his language before a
synod in London, he had thrown himself again for protection on the Duke
of Lancaster. The duke (not unnaturally under the circumstances)
declined to encourage what he could neither approve nor understand;[23]
and Wycliffe, by his great patron's advice, submitted. He read a
confession of faith before the bishops, which was held satisfactory; he
was forbidden, however, to preach again in Oxford, and retired to his
living of Lutterworth, in Leicestershire, where two years later he died.

[Sidenote: Wycliffe's followers continue unmolested till the revolution
of 1400 when they fall under the ban as disturbers of order.]

With him departed all which was best and purest in the movement which he
had commenced. The zeal of his followers was not extinguished, but the
wisdom was extinguished which had directed it; and perhaps the being
treated as the enemies of order had itself a tendency to make them what
they were believed to be. They were left unmolested for the next twenty
years, the feebleness of the government, the angry complexion which had
been assumed by the dispute with Rome, and the political anarchy in the
closing decade of the century, combining to give them temporary shelter;
but they availed themselves of their opportunity to travel further on
the dangerous road on which they had entered; and on the settlement of
the country under Henry IV. they fell under the general ban which struck
down all parties who had shared in the late disturbances.

[Sidenote: A.D. 1400-1.]

They had been spared in 1382, only for more sharp denunciation, and a
more cruel fate; and Boniface having healed, on his side, the wounds
which had been opened, by well-timed concessions, then, was no reason
left for leniency. The character of the Lollard teaching was thus
described (perhaps in somewhat exaggerated language) in the preamble of
the act of 1401.[24]

[Sidenote: Act _de Heretico comburendo_.]

[Sidenote: Political character of the teaching.]

"Divers false and perverse people," so runs the act _De Heretico
comburendo_, "of a certain new sect, damnably thinking of the faith of
the sacraments of the church, and of the authority of the same, against
the law of God and of the church, usurping the office of preaching, do
perversely and maliciously, in divers places within the realm, preach
and teach divers new doctrines, and wicked erroneous opinions, contrary
to the faith and determination of Holy Church. And of such sect and
wicked doctrines they make unlawful conventicles, they hold and exercise
schools, they make and write books, they do wickedly instruct and inform
people, and excite and stir them to sedition and insurrection, and make
great strife and division among the people, and other enormities
horrible to be heard, daily do perpetrate and commit. The diocesans
cannot by their jurisdiction spiritual, without aid of the King's
Majesty, sufficiently correct these said false and perverse people, nor
refrain their malice, because they do go from diocese to diocese, and
will not appear before the said diocesans; but the jurisdiction
spiritual, the keys of the church, and the censures of the same, do
utterly contemn and despise; and so their wicked preachings and
doctrines they do from day to day continue and exercise, to the
destruction of all order and rule, right and reason."

Something of these violent accusations is perhaps due to the horror
with which false doctrine in matters of faith was looked upon in the
Catholic church, the grace by which alone an honest life was made
possible being held to be dependent upon orthodoxy. But the Lollards had
become political revolutionists as well as religious reformers; the
revolt against the spiritual authority had encouraged and countenanced a
revolt against the secular; and we cannot be surprised, therefore, that
these institutions should have sympathized with each other, and have
united to repress a danger which was formidable to both.

[Sidenote: Power conferred upon the bishops of arresting _ex officio_.]

[Sidenote: The stake and the orthodox faith.]

The bishops, by this act, received arbitrary power to arrest and
imprison on suspicion, without check or restraint of law, at their will
and pleasure. Prisoners who refused to abjure their errors, who
persisted in heresy, or relapsed into it after abjuration, were
sentenced to be burnt at the stake,--a dreadful punishment, on the
wickedness of which the world has long been happily agreed. Yet we must
remember that those who condemned teachers of heresy to the flames,
considered that heresy itself involved everlasting perdition; that they
were but faintly imitating the severity which orthodoxy still ascribes
to Almighty God Himself.

[Sidenote: The Commons petition the Crown for a secularization of church

[Sidenote: Accession of Henry V.]

The tide which was thus setting back in favour of the church did not
yet, however, flow freely, and without a check. The Commons consented to
sacrifice the heretics, but they still cast wistful looks on the lands
of the religious houses. On two several occasions, in 1406, and again
1410, spoliation was debated in the Lower House, and representations
were made upon the subject to the king.[25] The country, too, continued
to be agitated with war and treason; and when Henry V. became king, in
1412, the church was still uneasy, and the Lollards were as dangerous as
ever. Whether by prudent conduct they might have secured a repeal of the
persecuting act is uncertain; it is more likely, from their conduct,
that they had made their existence incompatible with the security of any
tolerable government.

[Sidenote: Insurrection of Sir John Oldcastle.]

[Sidenote: Oldcastle tried and executed.]

[Sidenote: Fresh act against heresy.]

A rumour having gone abroad that the king intended to enforce the laws
against heresy, notices were found fixed against the doors of the London
churches, that if any such measure was attempted, a hundred thousand men
would be in arms to oppose it. These papers were traced to Sir John
Oldcastle, otherwise called Lord Cobham, a man whose true character is
more difficult to distinguish, in the conflict of the evidence which has
come down to us about him, than that of almost any noticeable person in
history. He was perhaps no worse than a fanatic. He was certainly
prepared, if we may trust the words of a royal proclamation (and Henry
was personally intimate with Oldcastle, and otherwise was not likely to
have exaggerated the charges against him), he was prepared to venture a
rebellion, with the prospect of himself becoming the president of some
possible Lollard commonwealth.[26] The king, with swift decisiveness,
annihilated the incipient treason. Oldcastle was himself arrested. He
escaped out of the Tower into Scotland; and while Henry was absent in
France he seems to have attempted to organize some kind of Scotch
invasion; but he was soon after again taken on the Welsh Border, tried
and executed. An act which was passed in 1414 described his proceedings
as an "attempt to destroy the king, and all other manner of estates of
the realm as well spiritual as temporal, and also all manner of policy,
and finally the laws of the land." The sedition was held to have
originated in heresy, and for the better repression of such mischiefs in
time to come, the lord chancellor, the judges, the justices of the
peace, the sheriffs, mayors, bailiffs, and every other officer having
government of people, were sworn on entering their office to use their
best power and diligence to detect and prosecute all persons suspected
of so heinous a crime.[27]

[Sidenote: Final termination of the Lollard movement.]

Thus perished Wycliffe's labour,--not wholly, because his translation of
the Bible still remained a rare treasure; a seed of future life, which
would spring again under happier circumstances. But the sect which he
organized, the special doctrines which he set himself to teach, after a
brief blaze of success, sank into darkness; and no trace remained of
Lollardry except the black memory of contempt and hatred with which the
heretics of the fourteenth century were remembered by the English
people, long after the actual Reformation had become the law of the

[Sidenote: Causes of Wycliffe's failure,]

[Sidenote: Which is not to be regretted, for the times were not ripe.]

So poor a close to a movement of so fair promise was due partly to the
agitated temper of the times; partly, perhaps, to a want of judgment in
Wycliffe; but chiefly and essentially because it was an untimely birth.
Wycliffe saw the evil; he did not see the remedy; and neither in his
mind nor in the mind of the world about him had the problem ripened
itself for solution. England would have gained little by the premature
overthrow of the church, when the house out of which the evil spirit was
cast out could have been but swept and garnished for the occupation of
the seven devils of anarchy.

[Sidenote: The reaction.]

[Sidenote: New birth of Protestantism.]

The fire of heresy continued to smoulder, exploding occasionally in
insurrection,[29] occasionally blazing up in nobler form, when some poor
seeker for the truth, groping for a vision of God in the darkness of the
years which followed, found his way into that high presence through the
martyr's fire. But substantially, the nation relapsed into
obedience,--the church was reprieved for a century. Its fall was delayed
till the spirit in which it was attacked was winnowed clean of all
doubtful elements--until Protestantism had recommenced its enterprise
in a desire, not for a fairer adjustment of the world's good things, but
in a desire for some deeper, truer, nobler, holier insight into the will
of God. It recommenced not under the auspices of a Wycliffe, not with
the partial countenance of a government which was crossing swords with
the Father of Catholic Christendom, and menacing the severance of
England from the unity of the faith, but under a strong dynasty of
undoubted Catholic loyalty, with the entire administrative power,
secular as well as spiritual, in the hands of the episcopate. It sprung
up spontaneously, unguided, unexcited, by the vital necessity of its
nature, among the masses of the nation.

[Sidenote: Association of Christian Brethren enrolled in London.]

[Sidenote: Spirit of the country.]

Leaping over a century, I pass to the year 1525, at which time, or about
which time, a society was enrolled in London calling itself "The
Association of Christian Brothers."[30] It was composed of poor men,
chiefly tradesmen, artisans, a few, a very few of the clergy; but it was
carefully organized, it was provided with moderate funds, which were
regularly audited; and its paid agents went up and down the country
carrying Testaments and tracts with them, and enrolling in the order all
persons who dared to risk their lives in such a cause. The harvest had
been long ripening. The records of the bishops' courts[31] are filled
from the beginning of the century with accounts of prosecutions for
heresy--with prosecutions, that is, of men and women to whom the
masses, the pilgrimages, the indulgences, the pardons, the effete
paraphernalia of the establishment, had become intolerable; who had
risen up in blind resistance, and had declared, with passionate anger,
that whatever was the truth, all this was falsehood. The bishops had not
been idle; they had plied their busy tasks with stake and prison, and
victim after victim had been executed with more than necessary cruelty.
But it was all in vain: punishment only multiplied offenders, and "the
reek" of the martyrs, as was said when Patrick Hamilton was burnt at St.
Andrews, "infected all that it did blow upon."[32]

[Sidenote: Absence of definite guidance.]

[Sidenote: Difficulty from the want of books.]

There were no teachers, however, there were no books, no unity of
conviction, only a confused refusal to believe in lies. Copies of
Wycliffe's Bible remained, which parties here and there, under death
penalties if detected, met to read:[33] copies, also, of some of his
tracts[34] were extant; but they were unprinted transcripts, most rare
and precious, which the watchfulness of the police made it impossible to
multiply through the press, and which remained therefore necessarily in
the possession of but a few fortunate persons.

The Protestants were thus isolated in single groups or families, without
organization, without knowledge of each other, with nothing to give them
coherency as a party; and so they might have long continued, except for
an impulse from some external circumstances. They were waiting for
direction, and men in such a temper are seldom left to wait in vain.

[Sidenote: General condition of the Teutonic nations.]

[Sidenote: The theses on the church-door at Wittenberg,]

[Sidenote: And the kindling of Europe.]

[Sidenote: The gathering under the banner of the Cross.]

[Sidenote: Tyndal's first appearance and character.]

[Sidenote: The translation of the Bible, and the press at Antwerp.]

The state of England did but represent the state of all Northern Europe.
Wherever the Teutonic language was spoken, wherever the Teutonic nature
was in the people, there was the same weariness of unreality, the same
craving for a higher life. England rather lagged behind than was a
leader in the race of discontent. In Germany, all classes shared the
common feeling; in England it was almost confined to the lowest. But,
wherever it existed, it was a free, spontaneous growth in each separate
breast, not propagated by agitation, but springing self-sown, the
expression of the honest anger of honest men at a system which had
passed the limits of toleration, and which could be endured no longer.
At such times the minds of men are like a train of gunpowder, the
isolated grains of which have no relation to each other, and no effect
on each other, while they remain unignited; but let a spark kindle but
one of them, and they shoot into instant union in a common explosion.
Such a spark was kindled in Germany, at Wittenberg, on the 31st of
October, 1517. In the middle of that day Luther's denunciation of
Indulgences was fixed against the gate of All Saints church, Wittenberg,
and it became, like the brazen serpent in the wilderness, the sign to
which the sick spirits throughout the western world looked hopefully and
were healed. In all those millions of hearts the words of Luther found
an echo, and flew from lip to lip, from ear to ear. The thing which all
were longing for was done, and in two years from that day there was
scarcely perhaps a village from the Irish Channel to the Danube in
which the name of Luther was not familiar as a word of hope and promise.
Then rose a common cry for guidance. Books were called for,--above all
things, the great book of all, the Bible. Luther's inexhaustible
fecundity flowed with a steady stream, and the printing-presses in
Germany and in the Free Towns of the Netherlands multiplied Testaments
and tracts in hundreds of thousands. Printers published at their own
expense as Luther wrote.[35] The continent was covered with disfrocked
monks who had become the pedlars of these precious wares;[36] and as the
contagion spread, noble young spirits from other countries, eager
themselves to fight in God's battle, came to Wittenberg to learn from
the champion who had struck the first blow at their great enemy how to
use their weapons. "Students from all nations came to Wittenberg," says
one, "to hear Luther and Melancthon. As they came in sight of the town
they returned thanks to God with clasped hands; for from Wittenberg, as
heretofore from Jerusalem, proceeded the light of evangelical truth, to
spread thence to the utmost parts of the earth."[37] Thither came young
Patrick Hamilton from Edinburgh, whose "reek" was of so much potency, a
boy-enthusiast of nature as illustrious as his birth; and thither came
also from England, which is here our chief concern, William Tyndal, a
man whose history is lost in his work and whose epitaph is the
Reformation. Beginning life as a restless Oxford student, he moved
thence to Cambridge, thence to Gloucestershire, to be tutor in a
knight's family, and there hearing of Luther's doings, and expressing
himself with too warm approval to suit his patron's conservatism,[38]
he fell into disgrace. From Gloucestershire he removed to London, where
Cuthbert Tunstall had lately been made bishop, and from whom he looked
for countenance in an intention to translate the New Testament. Tunstall
showed little encouragement to this enterprise; but a better friend rose
where he was least looked for; and a London alderman, Humfrey Monmouth
by name, hearing the young dreamer preach on some occasion at St.
Dunstan's, took him to his home for half a year, and kept him there:
where "the said Tyndal," as the alderman declared, "lived like a good
priest, studying both night and day; he would eat but sodden meat, by
his good will, nor drink but small single beer; nor was he ever seen to
wear linen about him all the time of his being there."[39] The half year
being passed, Monmouth gave him ten pounds, with which provision he went
off to Wittenberg; and the alderman, for assisting him in that business,
went to the Tower--escaping, however, we are glad to know, without worse
consequences than a short imprisonment. Tyndal saw Luther,[40] and under
his immediate direction translated the Gospels and Epistles while at
Wittenberg. Thence he returned to Antwerp, and settling there under the
privileges of the city, he was joined by Joy, who shared his great work
with him. Young Frith from Cambridge came to him also, and Barnes, and
Lambert, and many others of whom no written record remains, to concert a
common scheme of action.

In Antwerp, under the care of these men, was established the
printing-press, by which books were supplied, to accomplish for the
teaching of England what Luther and Melancthon were accomplishing for
Germany. Tyndal's Testament was first printed, then translations of the
best German books, reprints of Wycliffe's tracts or original
commentaries. Such volumes as the people most required were here
multiplied as fast as the press could produce them; and for the
dissemination of these precious writings the brave London Protestants
dared, at the hazard of their lives, to form themselves into an
organized association.

[Sidenote: The London Protestants.]

[Sidenote: The opposing powers.]

[Sidenote: The Protestant armoury.]

It is well to pause and look for a moment at this small band of heroes;
for heroes they were, if ever men deserved the name. Unlike the first
reformers who had followed Wycliffe, they had no earthly object,
emphatically none; and equally unlike them, perhaps, because they had
no earthly object, they were all, as I have said, poor men--either
students, like Tyndal, or artisans and labourers who worked for their
own bread, and in tough contact with reality had learnt better than the
great and the educated the difference between truth and lies. Wycliffe
had royal dukes and noblemen for his supporters--knights and divines
among his disciples--a king and a House of Commons looking upon him, not
without favour. The first Protestants of the sixteenth century had for
their king the champion of Holy Church, who had broken a lance with
Luther; and spiritual rulers over them alike powerful and imbecile,
whose highest conception of Christian virtue was the destruction of
those who disobeyed their mandates. The masses of the people were
indifferent to a cause which promised them no material advantage; and
the Commons of Parliament, while contending with the abuses of the
spiritual authorities, were laboriously anxious to wash their hands of
heterodoxy. "In the crime of heresy, thanked be God," said the bishops
in 1529, "there hath no notable person fallen in our time;" no chief
priest, chief ruler, or learned Pharisee--not one. "Truth it is that
certain apostate friars and monks, lewd priests, bankrupt merchants,
vagabonds and lewd idle fellows of corrupt nature, have embraced the
abominable and erroneous opinions lately sprung in Germany, and by them
have been some seduced in simplicity and ignorance. Against these, if
judgment have been exercised according to the laws of the realm, we be
without blame. If we have been too remiss or slack, we shall gladly do
our duty from henceforth."[41] Such were the first Protestants in the
eyes of their superiors. On one side was wealth, rank, dignity, the
weight of authority, the majority of numbers, the prestige of centuries;
here too were the phantom legions of superstition and cowardice; and
here were all the worthier influences so preëminently English, which
lead wise men to shrink from change, and to cling to things established,
so long as one stone of them remains upon another. This was the army of
conservatism. Opposed to it were a little band of enthusiasts, armed
only with truth and fearlessness; "weak things of the world," about to
do battle in God's name; and it was to be seen whether God or the world
was the stronger. They were armed, I say, with the truth. It was that
alone which could have given them victory in so unequal a struggle. They
had returned to the essential fountain of life; they reasserted the
principle which has lain at the root of all religions, whatever their
name or outward form, which once burnt with divine lustre in that
Catholicism which was now to pass away: the fundamental axiom of all
real life, that the service which man owes to God is not the service of
words or magic forms, or ceremonies or opinions; but the service of
holiness, of purity, of obedience to the everlasting laws of duty.

[Sidenote: The early Protestants did not bring forward any new scheme of

[Sidenote: But protested only against a false superstition, and insisted
on the principle of obedience.]

When we look through the writings of Latimer, the apostle of the English
Reformation, when we read the depositions against the martyrs, and the
lists of their crimes against the established faith, we find no opposite
schemes of doctrine, no "plans of salvation;" no positive system of
theology which it was held a duty to believe; these things were of later
growth, when it became again necessary to clothe the living spirit in a
perishable body. We find only an effort to express again the old
exhortation of the Wise Man--"Will you hear the beginning and the end of
the whole matter? Fear God and keep his commandments; for that is the
whole duty of man."

Had it been possible for mankind to sustain themselves upon this single
principle without disguising its simplicity, their history would have
been painted in far other colours than those which have so long
chequered its surface. This, however, has not been given to us; and
perhaps it never will be given. As the soul is clothed in flesh, and
only thus is able to perform its functions in this earth, where it is
sent to live; as the thought must find a word before it can pass from
mind to mind; so every great truth seeks some body, some outward form in
which to exhibit its powers. It appears in the world, and men lay hold
of it, and represent it to themselves, in histories, in forms of words,
in sacramental symbols; and these things which in their proper nature
are but illustrations, stiffen into essential fact, and become part of
the reality. So arises in era after era an outward and mortal expression
of the inward immortal life; and at once the old struggle begins to
repeat itself between the flesh and the spirit, the form and the
reality. For a while the lower tendencies are held in check; the meaning
of the symbolism is remembered and fresh; it is a living language,
pregnant and suggestive. By and bye, as the mind passes into other
phases, the meaning is forgotten; the language becomes a dead language;
and the living robe of life becomes a winding-sheet of corruption. The
form is represented as everything, the spirit as nothing; obedience is
dispensed with; sin and religion arrange a compromise; and outward
observances, or technical inward emotions, are converted into jugglers'
tricks, by which men are enabled to enjoy their pleasures and escape
the penalties of wrong. Then such religion becomes no religion, but a
falsehood; and honourable men turn away from it, and fall back in haste
upon the naked elemental life.

[Sidenote: The last form of the corruption of Catholicism.]

This, as I understand it, was the position of the early Protestants.
They found the service of God buried in a system where obedience was
dissipated into superstition; where sin was expiated by the vicarious
virtues of other men; where, instead of leading a holy life, men were
taught that their souls might be saved through masses said for them, at
a money rate, by priests whose licentiousness disgraced the nation which
endured it; a system in which, amidst all the trickery of the pardons,
pilgrimages, indulgences,--double-faced as these inventions are, wearing
one meaning in the apologies of theologians, and quite another to the
multitude who live and suffer under their influence,--one plain fact at
least is visible. The people substantially learnt that all evils which
could touch either their spirits or their bodies might be escaped by
means which resolved themselves, scarcely disguised, into the payment of

[Sidenote: The Protestants turn to the Bible and to the life of Christ.]

The superstition had lingered long; the time had come when it was to pass
away. Those in whom some craving lingered for a Christian life turned to
the heart of the matter, to the book which told them who Christ was, and
what he was; and finding there that holy example for which they longed,
they flung aside in one noble burst of enthusiastic passion the disguise
which had concealed it from them. They believed in Christ, not in the
bowing rood, or the pretended wood of the cross on which he suffered; and
when that saintly figure had once been seen,--the object of all love, the
pattern of all imitation,--thenceforward neither form nor ceremony should
stand between them and their God.

[Sidenote: The dangers which they had to encounter.]

[Sidenote: Henry VIII. their only and very doubtful friend.]

[Sidenote: Two thousand books out against transubstantiation.]

Under much confusion of words and thoughts, confusion pardonable in all
men, and most of all in them, this seems to me to be transparently
visible in the aim of these "Christian Brothers"; a thirst for some
fresh and noble enunciation of the everlasting truth, the one essential
thing for all men to know and believe. And therefore they were strong;
and therefore they at last conquered. Yet if we think of it, no common
daring was required in those who would stand out at such a time in
defence of such a cause. The bishops might seize them on mere suspicion;
and the evidence of the most abandoned villains sufficed for their
conviction.[42] By the act of Henry V., every officer, from the lord
chancellor to the parish constable, was sworn to seek them out and
destroy them; and both bishops and officials had shown no reluctance to
execute their duty. Hunted like wild beasts from hiding-place to
hiding-place, decimated by the stake, with the certainty that however
many years they might be reprieved, their own lives would close at last
in the same fiery trial; beset by informers, imprisoned, racked, and
scourged; worst of all, haunted by their own infirmities, the flesh
shrinking before the dread of a death of agony,--thus it was that they
struggled on; earning for _themselves_ martyrdom,--for _us_, the free
England in which we live and breathe. Among the great, until Cromwell
came to power, they had but one friend, and he but a doubtful one, who
long believed the truest kindness was to kill them. Henry VIII. was
always attracted towards the persons of the reformers. Their open
bearing commanded his respect. Their worst crime in the bishops'
eyes--the translating the Bible--was in his eyes not a crime, but a
merit; he had himself long desired an authorized English version, and at
length compelled the clergy to undertake it; while in the most notorious
of the men themselves, in Tyndal and in Frith, he had more than once
expressed an anxious interest.[43] But the convictions of his early
years were long in yielding. His feeling, though genuine, extended no
further than to pity, to a desire to recover estimable heretics out of
errors which he would endeavour to pardon. They knew, and all the
"brethren" knew, that if they persisted, they must look for the worst
from the king and from every earthly power; they knew it, and they made
their account with it. An informer deposed to the council, that he had
asked one of the society "how the King's Grace did take the matter
against the sacrament; which answered, the King's Highness was extreme
against their opinions, and would punish them grievously; also that my
Lords of Norfolk and Suffolk, my Lord Marquis of Exeter, with divers
other great lords, were very extreme against them. Then he (the
informer) asked him how he and his fellows would do seeing this, the
which answered they had two thousand books out against the Blessed
Sacrament, in the commons' hands; and if it were once in the commons'
heads, they would have no further care."[44]

[Sidenote: Resolution to persecute systematically.]

Tyndal then being at work at Antwerp, and the society for the dispersion
of his books thus preparing itself in England, the authorities were not
slow in taking the alarm. The isolated discontent which had prevailed
hitherto had been left to the ordinary tribunals; the present danger
called for measures of more systematic coercion. This duty naturally
devolved on Wolsey, and the office of Grand Inquisitor, which he now
assumed, could not have fallen into more competent hands.

[Sidenote: The conduct of the persecution undertaken by Wolsey; who,
however, used his powers with unusual leniency.]

[Sidenote: Heretics outlawed by a common consent of the great Powers.]

Wolsey was not cruel. There is no instance, I believe, in which he of
his special motion sent a victim to the stake:--it would be well if the
same praise could be allowed to Cranmer. There was this difference
between the cardinal and other bishops, that while they seemed to desire
to punish, Wolsey was contented to silence; while they, in their conduct
of trials, made escape as difficult as possible, Wolsey sought rather to
make submission easy. He was too wise to suppose that he could cauterize
heresy, while the causes of it, in the corruption of the clergy,
remained unremoved; and the remedy to which he trusted, was the infusing
new vigour into the constitution of the church.[45] Nevertheless, he was
determined to repress, as far as outward measures could repress it, the
spread of the contagion; and he set himself to accomplish his task with
the full energy of his nature, backed by the whole power, spiritual and
secular, of the kingdom. The country was covered with his secret police,
arresting suspected persons and searching for books. In London the
scrutiny was so strict that at one time there was a general flight and
panic; suspected butchers, tailors, and carpenters, hiding themselves in
the holds of vessels in the river, and escaping across the Channel.[46]
Even there they were not safe. Heretics were outlawed by a common
consent of the European governments. Special offenders were hunted
through France by the English emissaries with the permission and
countenance of the court,[47] and there was an attempt to arrest Tyndal
at Brussels, from which, for that time, he happily escaped.[48]

[Sidenote: Barnes and Latimer summoned before Wolsey.]

Simultaneously the English universities fell under examination, in
consequence of the appearance of dangerous symptoms among the younger
students. Dr. Barnes, returning from the continent, had used violent
language in a pulpit at Cambridge; and Latimer, then a neophyte in
heresy, had grown suspect, and had alarmed the heads of houses.
Complaints against both of them were forwarded to Wolsey, and they were
summoned to London to answer for themselves.

[Sidenote: Latimer is dismissed.]

[Sidenote: Barnes is committed to the Fleet and abjures.]

Latimer, for some cause, found favour with the cardinal, and was
dismissed, with a hope on the part of his judge that his accusers might
prove as honest as he appeared to be, and even with a general licence to
preach.[49] Barnes was less fortunate; he was far inferior to Latimer; a
noisy, unwise man, without reticence or prudence. In addition to his
offences in matters of doctrine, he had attacked Wolsey himself with
somewhat vulgar personality; and it was thought well to single him out
for a public, though not a very terrible admonition. His house had been
searched for books, which he was suspected, and justly suspected, of
having brought with him from abroad. These, however, through a timely
warning of the danger, had been happily secreted,[50] or it might have
gone harder with him. As it was, he was committed to the Fleet on the
charge of having used heretical language. An abjuration was drawn up by
Wolsey, which he signed; and while he remained in prison preparations
were made for a ceremony, in which he was to bear a part, in St. Paul's
church, by which the Catholic authorities hoped to produce some salutary
effect on the disaffected spirits of London.

[Sidenote: Preparation for a ceremony in St. Paul's church.]

Vast quantities of Tyndal's publications had been collected by the
police. The bishops, also, had subscribed among themselves[51] to buy up
the copies of the New Testament before they left Antwerp;--an
unpromising method, like an attempt to extinguish fire by pouring oil
upon it; they had been successful, however, in obtaining a large
immediate harvest, and a pyramid of offending volumes was ready to be
consumed in a solemn _auto da fé_.

[Sidenote: Procession from the Fleet.]

[Sidenote: Barnes and five Stillyard men taken to St. Paul's.]

In the morning of Shrove Sunday, then, 1527, we are to picture to
ourselves a procession moving along London streets from the Fleet prison
to St. Paul's Cathedral. The warden of the Fleet was there, and the
knight marshal, and the tipstaffs, and "all the company they could
make," "with bills and glaives;" and in the midst of these armed
officials, six men marching in penitential dresses, one carrying a
lighted taper five pounds' weight, the others with symbolic fagots,
signifying to the lookers-on the fate which their crimes had earned for
them, but which this time, in mercy, was remitted. One of these was
Barnes; the other five were "Stillyard men," undistinguishable by any
other name, but detected members of the brotherhood.

It was eight o'clock when they arrived at St. Paul's. The people had
flocked in crowds before them. The public seats and benches were filled.
All London had hurried to the spectacle. A platform was erected in the
centre of the nave, on the top of which, enthroned in pomp of purple and
gold and splendour, sate the great cardinal, supported on each side with
eighteen bishops, mitred abbots, and priors--six-and-thirty in all; his
chaplains and "spiritual doctors" sitting also where they could find
place, "in gowns of damask and satin." Opposite the platform, over the
north door of the cathedral, was a great crucifix--a famous image, in
those days called the Rood of Northen; and at the foot of it, inside a
rail, a fire was burning, with the sinful books, the Tracts and
Testaments, ranged round it in baskets, waiting for the execution of

[Sidenote: And exposed for a public penance.]

Such was the scene into the midst of which the six prisoners entered. A
second platform stood in a conspicuous place in front of the cardinal's
throne, where they could be seen and heard by the crowd; and there upon
their knees, with their fagots on their shoulders, they begged pardon of
God and the Holy Catholic Church for their high crimes and offences.
When the confession was finished, Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, preached
a sermon: and the sermon over, Barnes turned to the people, declaring
that "he was more charitably handled than he deserved, his heresies were
so heinous and detestable."

[Sidenote: They are led round a fire, and throw in their fagots. The
Bible burning.]

There was no other religious service: mass had perhaps been said
previous to the admission into the church of heretics lying under
censure; and the knight marshal led the prisoners down from the stage to
the fire underneath the crucifix. They were taken within the rails, and
three times led round the blazing pile, casting in their fagots as they
passed. The contents of the baskets were heaped upon the fagots, and the
holocaust was complete. This time, an unbloody sacrifice was deemed
sufficient. The church was satisfied with penance, and Fisher pronounced
the prisoners absolved, and received back into communion.[52]

So ended this strange exhibition, designed to work great results on the
consciences of the spectators. It may be supposed, however, that men
whom the tragedies of Smithfield failed to terrify, were not likely to
be affected deeply by melodrame and blazing paper.

[Sidenote: Story of Anthony Dalaber.]

A story follows of far deeper human interest, a story in which the
persecution is mirrored with its true lights and shadows, unexaggerated
by rhetoric; and which, in its minute simplicity, brings us face to face
with that old world, where men like ourselves lived, and worked, and
suffered, three centuries ago.

[Sidenote: Cardinal's College founded by Wolsey,]

[Sidenote: Who introduces into Oxford a number of Cambridge students of
unusual promise, but lying under suspicion of heresy.]

Two years before the time at which we have now arrived, Wolsey, in
pursuance of his scheme of converting the endowments of the religious
houses to purposes of education, had obtained permission from the pope
to suppress a number of the smaller monasteries. He had added largely to
the means thus placed at his disposal from his own resources, and had
founded the great college at Oxford, which is now called Christ
church.[53] Desiring his magnificent institution to be as perfect as art
could make it, he had sought his professors in Rome, in the Italian
universities, wherever genius or ability could be found; and he had
introduced into the foundation several students from Cambridge, who had
been reported to him as being of unusual promise. Frith, of whom we have
heard, was one of these. Of the rest, John Clark, Sumner, and Taverner
are the most noticeable. At the time at which they were invited to
Oxford, they were tainted, or some of them were tainted, in the eyes of
the Cambridge authorities, with suspicion of heterodoxy;[54] and it is
creditable to Wolsey's liberality, that he set aside these
unsubstantiated rumours, not allowing them to weigh against ability,
industry, and character. The church authorities thought only of crushing
what opposed them, especially of crushing talent, because talent was
dangerous. Wolsey's noble anxiety was to court talent, and if possible
to win it.

[Sidenote: They infect Oxford; and the first Protestant divinity class
is formed at Wolsey's college.]

The young Cambridge students, however, ill repaid his confidence (so, at
least, it must have appeared to him), and introduced into Oxford the
rising epidemic. Clark, as was at last discovered, was in the habit of
reading St. Paul's Epistles to young men in his rooms; and a gradually
increasing circle of undergraduates, of three or four years'
standing,[55] from various colleges, formed themselves into a spiritual
freemasonry, some of them passionately insisting on being admitted to
the lectures, in spite of warnings from Clark himself, whose wiser
foresight knew the risk which they were running, and shrank from
allowing weak giddy spirits to thrust themselves into so fearful

[Sidenote: Garret, fellow of Magdalen, and member of the London

[Sidenote: Introduces into Oxford the forbidden books from Germany.]

This little party had been in the habit of meeting for about six
months,[57] when at Easter, 1527, Thomas Garret, a fellow of
Magdalen,[58] who had gone out of residence, and was curate at All
Hallows church, in London, reappeared in Oxford. Garret was a secret
member of the London Society, and had come down at Clark's instigation,
to feel his way in the university. So excellent a beginning had already
been made, that he had only to improve upon it. He sought out all such
young men as were given to Greek, Hebrew, and the polite Latin;[59] and
in this visit met with so much encouragement, that the Christmas
following he returned again, this time bringing with him treasures of
forbidden books, imported by "the Christian Brothers"; New Testaments,
tracts and volumes of German divinity, which he sold privately among the

[Sidenote: Orders for his arrest are sent down from London.]

He lay concealed, with his store, at "the house of one Radley,"[60] the
position of which cannot now be identified; and there he remained for
several weeks, unsuspected by the university authorities, till orders
were sent by Wolsey to the Dean of Christchurch for his arrest. Precise
information was furnished at the same time respecting himself, his
mission in Oxford, and his place of concealment.[61]

[Sidenote: Tuesday, Feb. 17, 1528. He is warned by a proctor to escape.]

The proctors were put upon the scent, and directed to take him; but one
of them, Arthur Cole, of Magdalen, by name, not from any sympathy with
Garret's objects, as the sequel proved, but probably from old
acquaintance, for they were fellows at the same college, gave him
information of his danger, and warned him to escape.

His young friends, more alarmed for their companion than for themselves,
held a meeting instantly to decide what should be done; and at this
meeting was Anthony Dalaber, an undergraduate of Alban Hall, and one of
Clark's pupils, who will now tell the story of what followed.

[Sidenote: Dalaber's narrative.]

"The Christmas before that time, I, Anthony Dalaber, the scholar of
Alban Hall, who had books of Master Garret, had been in my country, at
Dorsetshire, at Stalbridge, where I had a brother, parson of this
parish, who was very desirous to have a curate out of Oxford, and willed
me in any wise to get him one there, if I could. This just occasion
offered, it was thought good among the brethren (for so we did not only
call one another, but were indeed one to another), that Master Garret,
changing his name, should be sent forth with my letters into
Dorsetshire, to my brother, to serve him there for a time, until he
might secretly convey himself from thence some whither over the sea.
According hereunto I wrote my letters in all haste possible unto my
brother, for Master Garret to be his curate; but not declaring what he
was indeed, for my brother was a rank papist, and afterwards was the
most mortal enemy that ever I had, for the Gospel's sake.

[Sidenote: Feb. 18. Garret leaves Oxford.]

"So on Wednesday (Feb. 18), in the morning before Shrovetide, Master
Garret departed out of Oxford towards Dorsetshire, with my letter, for
his new service."

[Sidenote: Anthony Dalaber, of Alban Hall, who has been concerned in the
escape, takes measures to avoid suspicion,]

[Sidenote: And moves to Gloucester College.]

The most important person being thus, as was supposed, safe from
immediate danger, Dalaber was at leisure to think a little about
himself; and supposing, naturally, that the matter would not end there,
and that some change of residence might be of advantage for his own
security, he moved off from Alban Hall (as undergraduates it seems were
then at liberty to do) to Gloucester College,[62] under pretence that he
desired to study civil law, for which no facilities existed at the hall.
This little matter was effected on the Thursday; and all Friday and
Saturday morning he "was so much busied in setting his poor stuff in
order, his bed, his books, and such things else as he had," that he had
no leisure to go forth anywhere those two days, Friday and Saturday.

[Sidenote: Garret returns to Oxford, Friday, Feb. 20.]

"Having set up my things handsomely," he continues, "that same day,
before noon, I determined to spend that whole afternoon, until evensong
time, at Frideswide College,[63] at my book in mine own study; and so
shut my chamber door unto me, and my study door also, and took into my
head to read Francis Lambert upon the Gospel of St. Luke, which book
only I had then within there. All my other books written on the
Scriptures, of which I had great numbers, I had left in my chamber at
Alban's Hall, where I had made a very secret place to keep them safe
in, because it was so dangerous to have any such books. And so, as I was
diligently reading in the same book of Lambert upon Luke, suddenly one
knocked at my chamber door very hard, which made me astonished, and yet
I sat still and would not speak; then he knocked again more hard, and
yet I held my peace; and straightway he knocked again yet more fiercely;
and then I thought this: peradventure it is somebody that hath need of
me: and therefore I thought myself bound to do as I would be done unto;
and so, laying my book aside, I came to the door and opened it, and
there was Master Garret, as a man amazed, whom I thought to have been
with my brother, and one with him."

[Sidenote: He is taken, and shut up at Lincoln.]

[Sidenote: From whence he escapes, Saturday, Feb. 21,]

Garret had set out on his expedition into Dorsetshire, but had been
frightened, and had stolen back into Oxford on the Friday, to his old
hiding-place, where, in the middle of the night, the proctors had taken
him. He had been carried to Lincoln, and shut up in a room in the
rector's house, where he had been left all day. In the afternoon the
rector went to chapel, no one was stirring about the college, and he had
taken advantage of the opportunity to slip the bolt of the door and
escape. He had a friend at Gloucester College, "a monk who had bought
books of him;" and Gloucester lying on the outskirts of the town, he had
hurried down there as the readiest place of shelter. The monk was out;
and as no time was to be lost, Garret asked the servant on the staircase
to show him Dalaber's rooms.

[Sidenote: And goes to Dalaber's rooms.]

As soon as the door was opened, "he said he was undone, for he was
taken." "Thus he spake unadvisedly in the presence of the young man,
who at once slipped down the stairs," it was to be feared, on no good
errand. "Then I said to him," Dalaber goes on, "alas, Master Garret, by
this your uncircumspect coming here and speaking so before the young
man, you have disclosed yourself and utterly undone me. I asked him why
he was not in Dorsetshire. He said he had gone a day's journey and a
half; but he was so fearful, his heart would none other but that he must
needs return again unto Oxford. With deep sighs and plenty of tears, he
prayed me to help to convey him away; and so he cast off his hood and
gown wherein he came to me, and desired me to give him a coat with
sleeves, if I had any; and he told me that he would go into Wales, and
thence convey himself, if he might, into Germany. Then I put on him a
sleeved coat of mine. He would also have had another manner of cap of
me, but I had none but priestlike, such as his own was.

[Sidenote: Dalaber lends him a disguise, and he again leaves Oxford.]

"Then kneeled we both down together upon our knees, and lifting up our
hearts and hands to God our heavenly Father, desired him, with plenty of
tears, so to conduct and prosper him in his journey, that he might well
escape the danger of all his enemies, to the glory of His Holy Name, if
His good pleasure and will so were. And then we embraced and kissed the
one the other, the tears so abundantly flowing out from both our eyes,
that we all bewet both our faces, and scarcely for sorrow could we speak
one to another. And so he departed from me, apparelled in my coat, being
committed unto the tuition of our Almighty and merciful Father.

"When he was gone down the stairs from my chamber, I straightways did
shut my chamber door, and went into my study; and taking the New
Testament in my hands, kneeled down on my knees, and with many a deep
sigh and salt tear, I did, with much deliberation, read over the tenth
chapter of St. Matthew's Gospel,[64] praying that God would endue his
tender and lately-born little flock in Oxford with heavenly strength by
his Holy Spirit; that quietly to their own salvation, with all godly
patience, they might bear Christ's heavy cross, which I now saw was
presently to be laid on their young and weak backs, unable to bear so
huge a burden without the great help of his Holy Spirit.

[Sidenote: Dalaber goes to Frideswide.]

"This done, I laid aside my book safe, folded up Master Garret's gown
and hood, and so, having put on my short gown, and shut my doors, I went
towards Frideswide (Christchurch), to speak with that worthy martyr of
God, Master Clark. But of purpose I went by St. Mary's church, to go
first unto Corpus Christi College, to speak with Diet and Udal, my
faithful brethren and fellows in the Lord. By chance I met by the way a
brother of ours, one Master Eden, fellow of Magdalen, who, as soon as he
saw me, said, we were all undone, for Master Garret was returned, and
was in prison. I said it was not so; he said it was. I heard, quoth he,
our Proctor, Master Cole, say and declare the same this day. Then I told
him what was done; and so made haste to Frideswide, to find Master
Clark, for I thought that he and others would be in great sorrow.

[Sidenote: Vespers at the cathedral.]

"Evensong was begun; the dean and the canons were there in their grey
amices; they were almost at Magnificat before I came thither. I stood in
the choir door and heard Master Taverner play, and others of the chapel
there sing, with and among whom I myself was wont to sing also; but now
my singing and music were turned into sighing and musing. As I there
stood, in cometh Dr. Cottisford,[65] the commissary, as fast as ever he
could go, bareheaded, as pale as ashes (I knew his grief well enough);
and to the dean he goeth into the choir, where he was sitting in his
stall, and talked with him, very sorrowfully: what, I know not; but
whereof I might and did truly guess. I went aside from the choir door to
see and hear more. The commissary and dean came out of the choir,
wonderfully troubled as it seemed. About the middle of the church, met
them Dr. London,[66] puffing, blustering, and blowing like a hungry and
greedy lion seeking his prey. They talked together awhile, but the
commissary was much blamed by them, insomuch that he wept for sorrow.

[Sidenote: The brothers meet.]

"The doctors departed, and sent abroad their servants and spies
everywhere. Master Clark, about the middle of the compline,[67] came
forth of the choir. I followed him to his chamber, and declared what had
happened that afternoon of Master Garret's escape. Then he sent for one
Master Sumner and Master Bets, fellows and canons there. In the meantime
he gave me a very godly exhortation, praying God to give us all the
wisdom of the serpent and the harmlessness of doves, for we should
shortly have much need thereof. When Master Sumner and Master Bets came,
he caused me to declare again the whole matter to them two. Then
desiring them to tell our other brethren in that college, I went to
Corpus Christi College, to comfort our brethren there, where I found in
Diet's chamber, looking for me, Fitzjames, Diet, and Udal. They all knew
the matter before by Master Eden, whom I had sent unto Fitzjames. So I
tarried there and supped with them, where they had provided meat and
drink for us before my coming; and when we had ended, Fitzjames would
needs have me to lie that night with him in my old lodging at Alban's
Hall. But small rest and little sleep took we both there that night."

[Sidenote: Sunday, Feb. 22.]

[Sidenote: Dalaber's rooms searched by the commissary and the police.]

The next day, which was Sunday, Dalaber rose at five o'clock, and as
soon as he could leave the Hall, hastened off to his rooms at
Gloucester. The night had been wet and stormy, and his shoes and
stockings were covered with mud. The college gates, when he reached
them, were still closed, an unusual thing at that hour; and he walked up
and down under the walls in the bleak grey morning, till the clock
struck seven, "much disquieted, his head full of forecasting cares,"
but resolved, like a brave man, that come what would, he would accuse no
one, and declare nothing but what he saw was already known. The gates
were at last opened; he went to his rooms, and for some time his key
would not turn in the door, the lock having been meddled with. At length
he succeeded in entering, and found everything in confusion, his bed
tossed and tumbled, his study-door open, and his clothes strewed about
the floor. A monk who occupied the opposite rooms, hearing him return,
came to him and said that the commissary and the two proctors had been
there looking for Garret. Bills and swords had been thrust through the
bed-straw, and every corner of the room searched for him. Finding
nothing, they had left orders that Dalaber, as soon as he returned,
should appear before the prior of the students.

[Sidenote: Dalaber is arrested. He is examined about his friend's
escape, and tells a lie.]

"This so troubled me," Dalaber says, "that I forgot to make clean my
hose and shoes, and to shift me into another gown; and all bedirted as I
was, I went to the said prior's chamber." The prior asked him where he
had slept that night. At Alban's Hall, he answered, with his old
bedfellow, Fitzjames. The prior said he did not believe him, and asked
if Garret had been at his rooms the day before. He replied that he had.
Whither had he gone, then? the prior inquired; and where was he at that
time? "I answered," says Dalaber, "that I knew not, unless he was gone
to Woodstock; he told me that he would go there, because one of the
keepers had promised him a piece or venison to make merry with at
Shrovetide. This tale I thought meetest, though it were nothing so."[68]

[Sidenote: He is taken to Lincoln College, and reëxamined by the
commissary and two other heads of houses.]

At this moment the university beadle entered with two of the
commissary's servants, bringing a message to the prior that he should
repair at once to Lincoln, taking Dalaber with him. "I was brought into
the chapel," the latter continues, "and there I found Dr. Cottisford,
commissary; Dr. Higdon, Dean of Cardinal's College; and Dr. London,
Warden of New College; standing together at the altar. They called for
chairs and sate down, and then [ordered] me to come to them; they asked
me what my name was, how long I had been at the university, what I
studied," with various other inquiries: the clerk of the university,
meanwhile, bringing pens, ink, and paper, and arranging a table with a
few loose boards upon tressels. A mass book, he says, was then placed
before him, and he was commanded to lay his hand upon it, and swear that
he would answer truly such questions as should be asked him. At first he
refused; but afterwards, being persuaded, "partly by fair words, and
partly by great threats," he promised to do as they would have him; but
in his heart he "meant nothing so to do." "So I laid my hand on the
book," he goes on, "and one of them gave me my oath, and commanded me to
kiss the book. They made great courtesy between them who should examine
me; at last, the rankest Pharisee of them all took upon him to do it.

[Sidenote: He again tells a lie.]

[Sidenote: He is threatened with the rack,]

"Then he asked me again, by my oath, where Master Garret was, and
whither I had conveyed him. I said I had not conveyed him, nor yet wist
where he was, nor whither he was gone, except he were gone to Woodstock,
as I had before said. Surely, they said, I brought him some whither this
morning, for they might well perceive by my foul shoes and dirty hosen
that I had travelled with him the most part of the night. I answered
plainly, that I lay at Alban's Hall with Sir Fitzjames, and that I had
good witness thereof. They asked me where I was at evensong. I told them
at Frideswide, and that I saw, first, Master Commissary, and then Master
Doctor London, come thither to Master Dean. Doctor London and the Dean
threatened me that if I would not tell the truth I should surely be sent
to the Tower of London, and there be racked, and put into

[Sidenote: And is put in the stocks.]

"At last when they could get nothing out of me whereby to hurt or accuse
any man, or to know anything of that which they sought, they all three
together brought me up a long stairs, into a great chamber, over Master
Commissary's chamber, wherein stood a great pair of very high stocks.
Then Master Commissary asked me for my purse and girdle, and took away
my money and my knives; and then they put my legs into the stocks, and
so locked me fast in them, in which I sate, my feet being almost as high
as my head; and so they departed, locking fast the door, and leaving me

"When they were all gone, then came into my remembrance the worthy
forewarning and godly declaration of that most constant martyr of God,
Master John Clark, who, well nigh two years before that, when I did
earnestly desire him to grant me to be his scholar, said unto me after
this sort: 'Dalaber, you desire you wot not what, and that which you
are, I fear, unable to take upon you; for though now my preaching be
sweet and pleasant to you, because there is no persecution laid on you
for it, yet the time will come, and that, peradventure, shortly, if ye
continue to live godly therein, that God will lay on you the cross of
persecution, to try you whether you can as pure gold abide the fire. You
shall be called and judged a heretic; you shall be abhorred of the
world; your own friends and kinsfolk will forsake you, and also hate
you; you shall be cast into prison, and none shall dare to help you; you
shall be accused before bishops, to your reproach and shame, to the
great sorrow of all your friends and kinsfolk. Then will ye wish ye had
never known this doctrine; then will ye curse Clark, and wish that ye
had never known him because he hath brought you to all these troubles.'

"At which words I was so grieved that I fell down on my knees at his
feet, and with tears and sighs besought him that, for the tender mercy
of God, he would not refuse me; saying that I trusted, verily, that he
which had begun this in me would not forsake me, but would give me grace
to continue therein to the end. When he heard me say so, he came to me,
took me in his arms and kissed me, the tears trickling from his eyes;
and said unto me: 'The Lord God Almighty grant you so to do; and from
henceforth for ever, take me for your father, and I will take you for my
son in Christ.'"

[Sidenote: He still refuses to confess where Garret is gone.]

In these meditations the long Sunday morning wore away. A little before
noon the commissary came again to see if his prisoner was more amenable;
finding him, however, still obstinate, he offered him some dinner--a
promise which we will hope he fulfilled, for here Dalaber's own
narrative abruptly forsakes us,[70] leaving uncompleted, at this point,
the most vivid picture which remains to us of a fraction of English life
in the reign of Henry VIII. If the curtain fell finally on the little
group of students, this narrative alone would furnish us with rare
insight into the circumstances under which the Protestants fought their
way. The story, however, can be carried something further, and the
strangest incident connected with it remains to be told.

[Sidenote: Monday, Feb. 23.]

[Sidenote: But acknowledges his own heresies.]

Dalaber breaks off on Sunday at noon. The same day, or early the
following morning, he was submitted once more to examination: this time,
for the discovery of his own offences, and to induce him to give up his
confederates. With respect to the latter he proved "marvellous
obstinate." "All that was gotten of him was with much difficulty;" nor
would he confess to any names as connected with heresy or heretics
except that of Clark, which was already known. About himself he was more
open. He wrote his "book of heresy," that is, his confession Of faith,
"with his own hand,"--his evening's occupation, perhaps, in the stocks
in the rector of Lincoln's house; and the next day he was transferred to

[Sidenote: Search for books.]

This offender being thus disposed of, and strict secresy being observed
to prevent the spread of alarm, a rapid search was set on foot for books
in all suspected quarters. The fear of the authorities was that "the
infect persons would flee," and "convey" their poison "away with
them."[72] The officials, once on the scent of heresy, were skilful in
running down the game. No time was lost, and by Monday evening many of
"the brethren" had been arrested, their rooms examined, and their
forbidden treasures discovered and rifled. Dalaber's store was found
"hid with marvellous secresy;" and in one student's desk a duplicate of
Garret's list--the titles of the volumes with which the first "Religious
Tract Society" set themselves to convert England.

[Sidenote: The heads of houses consult one expert in astronomy to
discover the track of Garret.]

Information of all this was conveyed in haste by Dr. London to the
Bishop of Lincoln, as the ordinary of the university; and the warden
told his story with much self-congratulation. On one point, however, the
news which he had to communicate was less satisfactory. Garret himself
was gone--utterly gone. Dalaber was obstinate, and no clue to the track
of the fugitive could be discovered. The police were at fault; neither
bribes nor threats could elicit anything; and in these desperate
circumstances, as he told the bishop, the three heads of houses
conceived that they might strain a point of propriety for so good a
purpose as to prevent the escape of a heretic. Accordingly, after a full
report of the points of their success, Doctor London went on to relate
the following remarkable proceeding:

"After Master Garret escaped, _the commissary being in extreme
pensiveness, knew no other remedy but this extraordinary, and caused a
figure to be made by one expert in astronomy--and his judgment doth
continually persist upon this, that he fled in a tawny coat
south-eastward, and is in the middle of London, and will shortly to the
sea side_. He was curate unto the parson of Honey Lane.[73] It is likely
he is privily cloaked there. Wherefore, as soon as I knew the judgment
of this astronomer, I thought it expedient and my duty with all speed to
ascertain your good lordship of all the premises; that in time your
lordship may advertise my lord his Grace, and my lord of London. It will
be a gracious deed that he and all his pestiferous works, which he
carrieth about, might be taken, to the salvation of his soul, opening of
many privy heresies, and extinction of the same."[74]

[Sidenote: Tuesday, Feb. 24.]

We might much desire to know what the bishop's sensations were in
reading this letter--to know whether it occurred to him that in this
naïve acknowledgment, the Oxford heresy hunters were themselves
confessing to an act of heresy; and that by the law of the church, which
they were so eager to administer, they were liable to the same death
which they were so zealous to secure for the poor vendors of Testaments.
So indeed they really were. Consulting the stars had been ruled from
immemorial time to be dealing with the devil; the penalty of it was the
same as for witchcraft; yet here was a reverend warden of a college
considering it his duty to write eagerly of a discovery obtained by
these forbidden means, to his own diocesan, begging him to communicate
with the Cardinal of York and the Bishop of London, that three of the
highest church authorities in England might become _participes
criminis_, by acting on this diabolical information.

[Sidenote: The principal ports set for Garret's capture.]

Meanwhile, the commissary, not wholly relying on the astrologer, but
resolving prudently to make use of the more earthly resources which were
at his disposal, had sent information of Garret's escape to the
corporations of Dover, Rye, Winchester, Southampton, and Bristol, with
descriptions of the person of the fugitive; and this step was taken with
so much expedition, that before the end of the week no vessel was
allowed to leave either of those harbours without being strictly

[Sidenote: Garret goes to Bristol, and is taken by the father-in-law of
the Oxford proctor.]

The natural method proved more effectual than the supernatural, though
again with the assistance of a singular accident. Garret had not gone to
London; unfortunately for himself, he had not gone to Wales as he had
intended. He left Oxford, as we saw, the evening of Saturday, February
21st. That night he reached a village called Corkthrop,[75] where he lay
concealed till Wednesday; and then, not in the astrologer's orange-tawny
dress, but in "a courtier's coat and buttoned cap," which he had by some
means contrived to procure, he set out again on his forlorn journey,
making for the nearest sea-port, Bristol, where the police were looking
out to receive him. His choice of Bristol was peculiarly unlucky. The
"chapman" of the town was the step-father of Cole, the Oxford proctor:
to this person, whose name was Master Wilkyns, the proctor had written a
special letter, in addition to the commissary's circular; and the family
connexion acting as a spur to his natural activity, a coast-guard had
been set before Garret's arrival, to watch for him down the Avon banks,
and along the Channel shore for fifteen miles. All the Friday night "the
mayor, with the aldermen, and twenty of the council, had kept privy
watch," and searched suspicious houses at Master Wilkyns's instance; the
whole population were on the alert, and when the next afternoon, a week
after his escape, the poor heretic, footsore and weary, dragged himself
into the town, he found that he had walked into the lion's mouth.[76] He
quickly learnt the danger to which he was exposed, and hurried off again
with the best speed which he could command; but it was too late. The
chapman, alert and indefatigable, had heard that a stranger had been
seen in the street; the police were set upon his track, and he was taken
at Bedminster, a suburb on the opposite bank of the Avon, and hurried
before a magistrate, where he at once acknowledged his identity.

[Sidenote: Saturday, Feb. 28.]

[Sidenote: Master Wilkyns's triumph, hopes, and disappointment.]

[Sidenote: Garret is sent to Ilchester, and thence to London,]

With such happy success were the good chapman's efforts rewarded. Yet in
this world there is no light without shadow; no pleasure without its
alloy. In imagination, Master Wilkyns had thought of himself conducting
the prisoner in triumph into the streets of Oxford, the hero of the
hour. The sour formality of the law condemned him to ill-merited
disappointment. Garret had been taken beyond the liberties of the city;
it was necessary, therefore, to commit him to the county gaol, and he
was sent to Ilchester. "Master Wilkyns offered himself to be bound to
the said justice in three hundred pounds to discharge him of the said
Garret, and to see him surely to Master Proctor's of Oxford; yet could
he not have him, for the justice said that the order of the law would
not so serve."[77] The fortunate captor had therefore to content himself
with the consciousness of his exploit, and the favourable report of his
conduct which was sent to the bishops; and Garret went first to
Ilchester, and thence was taken by special writ, and surrendered to

[Sidenote: Where he abjures.]

Thus unkind had fortune shown herself to the chief criminal, guilty of
the unpardonable offence of selling Testaments at Oxford, and therefore
hunted down as a mad dog, and a common enemy of mankind. He escaped for
the present the heaviest consequences, for Wolsey persuaded him to
abjure. A few years later we shall again meet him, when he had recovered
his better nature, and would not abjure, and died as a brave man should
die. In the mean time we return to the university, where the authorities
were busy trampling out the remains of the conflagration.

[Sidenote: The investigation at Oxford continues.]

Two days after his letter respecting the astrologer, the Warden of New
College wrote again to the Diocesan, with an account of his further
proceedings. He was an efficient inquisitor, and the secrets of the poor
undergraduates had been unravelled to the last thread. Some of "the
brethren" had confessed; all were in prison; and the doctor desired
instructions as to what should be done with them. It must be said for
Dr. London, that he was anxious that they should be treated leniently.
Dalaber described him as a roaring lion, and he was a bad man, and came
at last to a bad end. But it is pleasant to find that even he, a mere
blustering arrogant official, was not wholly without redeeming points of
character; and as little good will be said for him hereafter, the
following passage in his second letter may be placed to the credit side
of his account. The tone in which he wrote was at least humane, and must
pass for more than an expression of natural kindness, when it is
remembered that he was addressing a person with whom tenderness for
heresy was a crime.

[Sidenote: Doctor London writes to the Bishop of Lincoln, advising a
general pardon.]

"These youths," he said, "have not been long conversant with Master
Garret, nor have greatly perused his mischievous books; and long before
Master Garret was taken, divers of them were weary of these works, and
delivered them to Dalaber. I am marvellous sorry for the young men. If
they be openly called upon, although they appear not greatly infect, yet
they shall never avoid slander, because my Lord's Grace did send for
Master Garret to be taken. I suppose his Grace will know of your good
lordship everything. Nothing shall be hid, I assure your good lordship,
an every one of them were my brother; and I do only make this moan for
these youths, for surely they be of the most towardly young men in
Oxford; and as far as I do yet perceive, not greatly infect, but much to
blame for reading any part of these works."[78]

[Sidenote: The bishop insists on punishment.]

Doctor London's intercession, if timid, was generous; he obviously
wished to suggest that the matter should be hushed up, and that the
offending parties should be dismissed with a reprimand. If the decision
had rested with Wolsey, it is likely that this view would have been
readily acted upon. But the Bishop of Lincoln was a person in whom the
spirit of humanity had been long exorcised by the spirit of an
ecclesiastic. He was staggering along the last years of a life against
which his own register[79] bears dreadful witness, and he would not
burden his conscience with mercy to heretics. He would not mar the
completeness of his barbarous career. He singled out three of the
prisoners--Garret, Clark, and Ferrars[80]--and especially entreated that
they should be punished. "They be three perilous men," he wrote to
Wolsey, "and have been the occasion of the corruption of youth. They
have done much mischief, and for the love of God let them be handled

[Sidenote: Clark dies in prison.]

[Sidenote: His last words.]

Wolsey had Garret in his own keeping, and declined to surrender him.
Ferrars had been taken at the Black Friars, in London,[82] and making
his submission, was respited, and escaped with abjuration. But Clark was
at Oxford, in the bishop's power, and the wicked old man was allowed to
work his will upon him. A bill of heresy was drawn, which the prisoner
was required to sign. He refused, and must have been sent to the stake,
had he not escaped by dying prematurely of the treatment which he had
received in prison.[83] His last words only are recorded. He was
refused the communion, not perhaps as a special act of cruelty, but
because the laws of the church would not allow the holy thing to be
profaned by the touch of a heretic. When he was told that it would not
be suffered, he said "_crede et manducâsti_"--"faith is the communion;"
and so passed away; a very noble person, so far as the surviving
features of his character will let us judge; one who, if his manhood had
fulfilled the promise of his youth, would have taken no common part in
the Reformation.

[Sidenote: Dalaber and his friends carry fagots in High-street.]

The remaining brethren were then dispersed. Some were sent home to their
friends,--others, Anthony Dalaber among them, were placed on their
trial, and being terrified at their position, recanted, and were
sentenced to do penance. Ferrars was brought to Oxford for the occasion,
and we discern indistinctly (for the mere fact is all which survives) a
great fire at Carfax; a crowd of spectators, and a procession of
students marching up High-street with fagots on their shoulders, the
solemn beadles leading them with gowns and maces. The ceremony was
repeated to which Dr. Barnes had been submitted at St. Paul's. They were
taken three times round the fire, throwing in each first their fagot,
and then some one of the offending books, in token that they repented
and renounced their errors.

[Sidenote: Oxford is purged.]

Thus was Oxford purged of heresy. The state of innocence which Dr.
London pathetically lamented[84] was restored, and the heads of houses
had peace till their rest was broken by a ruder storm.

[Sidenote: The early history of Protestantism is the history of its
martyrs and confessors,]

[Sidenote: And its evidences, their endurance and suffering.]

In this single specimen we may see a complete image of Wolsey's
persecution, as with varying details it was carried out in every town
and village from the Tweed to the Land's End. I dwell on the stories of
individual suffering, not to colour the narrative, or to reawaken
feelings of bitterness which may well rest now and sleep for ever, but
because, through the years in which it was struggling for recognition,
the history of Protestantism is the history of its martyrs. No rival
theology, as I have said, had as yet shaped itself into formulas. We
have not to trace any slow growing elaboration of opinion.
Protestantism, before it became an establishment, was a refusal to live
any longer in a lie. It was a falling back upon the undefined
untheoretic rules of truth and piety which lay upon the surface of the
Bible, and a determination rather to die than to mock with unreality any
longer the Almighty Maker of the world. We do not look in the dawning
manifestations of such a spirit for subtleties of intellect. Intellect,
as it ever does, followed in the wake of the higher virtues of manly
honesty and truthfulness. And the evidences which were to effect the
world's conversion were no cunningly arranged syllogistic
demonstrations, but once more those loftier evidences which lay in the
calm endurance by heroic men of the extremities of suffering, and which
touched, not the mind with conviction, but the heart with admiring

[Sidenote: Wolsey falls, but the persecution is continued by the

In the concluding years of his administration, Wolsey was embarrassed
with the divorce. Difficulties were gathering round him, from the
failure of his hopes abroad and the wreck of his popularity at home; and
the activity of the persecution was something relaxed, as the guiding
mind of the great minister ceased to have leisure to attend to it. The
bishops, however, continued, each in his own diocese, to act with such
vigour as they possessed. Their courts were unceasingly occupied with
vexatious suits, commenced without reason, and conducted without
justice. They summoned arbitrarily as suspected offenders whoever had
the misfortune to have provoked their dislike; either compelling them to
criminate themselves by questions on the intricacies of theology,[85] or
allowing sentence to be passed against them on the evidence of abandoned
persons, who would not have been admissible as witnesses before the
secular tribunals.[86]

[Sidenote: The House of Commons, in checking causeless prosecutions, has
no wish to protect those who are really heretical.]

[Sidenote: The Protestants rather lose than gain in the revolution which
followed on the fall of Wolsey.]

[Sidenote: Sir Thomas More's chancellorship.]

[Sidenote: The true test of sincerity in a Catholic.]

It might have been thought that the clear perception which was shown by
the House of Commons of the injustice with which the trials for heresy
were conducted, the disregard, shameless and flagrant, of the provisions
of the statutes under which the bishops were enabled to proceed, might
have led them to reconsider the equity of persecution in itself; or, at
least, to remove from the office of judges persons who had shown
themselves so signally unfit to exercise that office. It would have been
indecent, however, if not impossible, to transfer to a civil tribunal
the cognizance of opinion; and, on the other hand, there was as yet
among the upper classes of the laity no kind of disposition to be
lenient towards those who were really unorthodox. The desire so far was
only to check the reckless and random accusations of persons whose
offence was to have criticised, not the doctrine, but the moral conduct
of the church authorities. The Protestants, although from the date of
the meeting of the parliament and Wolsey's fall their ultimate triumph
was certain, gained nothing in its immediate consequences. They suffered
rather from the eagerness of the political reformers to clear themselves
from complicity with heterodoxy; and the bishops were even taunted with
the spiritual dissensions of the realm as an evidence of their indolence
and misconduct.[87] Language of this kind boded ill for the "Christian
Brethren"; and the choice of Wolsey's successor for the office of
chancellor soon confirmed their apprehensions: Wolsey had chastised them
with whips; Sir Thomas More would chastise them with scorpions; and the
philosopher of the _Utopia_, the friend of Erasmus, whose life was of
blameless beauty, whose genius was cultivated to the highest attainable
perfection, was to prove to the world that the spirit of persecution is
no peculiar attribute of the pedant, the bigot, or the fanatic, but may
coexist with the fairest graces of the human character. The lives of
remarkable men usually illustrate some emphatic truth. Sir Thomas More
may be said to have lived to illustrate the necessary tendencies of
Romanism in an honest mind convinced of its truth; to show that the test
of sincerity in a man who professes to regard orthodoxy as an essential
of salvation, is not the readiness to endure persecution, but the
courage which will venture to inflict it.

The seals were delivered to the new chancellor in November, 1529. By his
oath on entering office he was bound to exert himself to the utmost for
the suppression of heretics:[88] he was bound, however, equally to obey
the conditions under which the law allowed them to be suppressed.
Unfortunately for his reputation as a judge, he permitted the hatred of
"that kind of men," which he did not conceal that he felt,[89] to
obscure his conscience on this important feature of his duty, and tempt
him to imitate the worst iniquities of the bishops. I do not intend in
this place to relate the stories of his cruelties in his house at
Chelsea,[90] which he himself partially denied, and which at least we
may hope were exaggerated. Being obliged to confine myself to specific
instances, I choose rather those on which the evidence is not open to
question; and which prove against More, not the zealous execution of a
cruel law, for which we may not fairly hold him responsible, but a
disregard, in the highest degree censurable, of his obligations as a

The acts under which heretics were liable to punishment, were the 15th
of the 2d of Henry IV., and the 1st of the 2d of Henry V.

[Sidenote: In cases of heresy, the legal period of imprisonment previous
to trial was three months.]

By the act of Henry IV., the bishops were bound to bring offenders to
trial in open court, within three months of their arrest, if there were
no lawful impediment. If conviction followed, they might imprison at
their discretion. Except under these conditions, they were not at
liberty to imprison.

[Sidenote: In cases of indictments before the chancellor, the accused
person was to be delivered to the bishops within ten days.]

By the act of Henry V., a heretic, if he was first indicted before a
secular judge, was to be delivered within ten days (or, if possible, a
shorter period) to the bishop, "to be acquit or convict" by a jury in
the spiritual court, and to be dealt with accordingly.[91]

[Sidenote: More's carelessness in observing these provisions.]

The secular judge might detain a heretic for ten days before delivering
him to the bishop. The bishop might detain him for three months before
his trial. Neither the secular judge nor the bishop had power to inflict
indefinite imprisonment at will while the trial was delayed; nor, if on
the trial the bishop failed in securing a conviction, was he at liberty
to detain the accused person any longer on the same charge, because the
result was not satisfactory to himself. These provisions were not
preposterously lenient. Sir Thomas More should have found no difficulty
in observing them himself, and in securing the observance of them by the
bishops, at least in cases where he was himself responsible for the
first committal. It is to be feared that he forgot that he was a judge
in his eagerness to be a partisan, and permitted no punctilious legal
scruples to interfere with the more important object of ensuring
punishment to heretics.

The first case which I shall mention is one in which the Bishop of
London was principally guilty; not, however, without More's countenance,
and, if Foxe is to be believed, his efficient support.

[Sidenote: Case of Thomas Philips.]

In December, 1529, the month succeeding his appointment as chancellor,
More, at the instance of the Bishop of London,[92] arrested a citizen of
London, Thomas Philips by name, on a charge of heresy.

The prisoner was surrendered in due form to his diocesan, and was
brought to trial on the 4th of February; a series of articles being
alleged against him by Foxford, the bishop's vicar-general. The articles
were of the usual kind. The prisoner was accused of having used
unorthodox expressions on transubstantiation, on purgatory, pilgrimages,
and confession. It does not appear whether any witnesses were produced.
The vicar-general brought his accusations on the ground of general
rumour, and failed to maintain them. Whether there were witnesses or
not, neither the particular offences, nor even the fact of the general
rumour, could be proved to the satisfaction of the jury. Philips himself
encountered each separate charge with a specific denial, declaring that
he neither was, nor ever had been, other than orthodox; and the result
of the trial was, that no conviction could be obtained. The prisoner
"was found so clear from all manner of infamous slanders and suspicions,
that all the people before the said bishop, shouting in judgment as with
one voice, openly witnessed his good name and fame, to the great reproof
and shame of the said bishop, if he had not been ashamed to be
ashamed."[93] The case had broken down; the proceedings were over, and
by law the accused person was free. But the law, except when it was on
their own side, was of little importance to the church authorities. As
they had failed to prove Philips guilty of heresy, they called upon him
to confess his guilt by abjuring it; "as if," he says, "there were no
difference between a nocent and an innocent, between a guilty and a not

He refused resolutely, and was remanded to prison, in open violation of
the law. The bishop, in conjunction with Sir Thomas More,[95] sent for
him from time to time, submitting him to private examinations, which
again were illegal; and urged the required confession, in order, as
Philips says, "to save the bishop's credit."

[Sidenote: He is imprisoned unconvicted for three years.]

The further they advanced, the more difficult it was to recede; and the
bishop at length, irritated at his failure, concluded the process with
an arbitrary sentence of excommunication. From this sentence, whether
just or unjust, there was then no appeal, except to the pope. The
wretched man, in virtue of it, was no longer under the protection of the
law, and was committed to the Tower, where he languished for three
years, protesting, but protesting fruitlessly, against the tyranny which
had crushed him, and clamouring for justice in the deaf ears of pedants
who knew not what justice meant.

[Sidenote: He appeals at length to the House of Commons, and recovers
his liberty.]

If this had occurred at the beginning of the century, the prisoner would
have been left to die, as countless multitudes had already died,
unheard, uncared for, unthought of; the victim not of deliberate
cruelty, but of that frightfullest portent, folly armed with power.
Happily the years of his imprisonment had been years of swift
revolution. The House of Commons had become a tribunal where oppression
would not any longer cry wholly unheard; Philips appealed to it for
protection, and recovered his liberty.[96]

[Sidenote: The Bishop of London responsible in the first degree; but
More was severely censurable.]

The weight of guilt in this instance presses essentially on Stokesley;
yet a portion of the blame must be borne also by the chancellor, who
first placed Philips in Stokesley's hands; who took part in the illegal
private examinations, and who could not have been ignorant of the
prisoner's ultimate fate. If, however, it be thought unjust to charge a
good man's memory with an offence in which his part was only secondary,
the following iniquity was wholly and exclusively his own. I relate the
story without comment in the address of the injured person to More's

[Sidenote: Case of John Field.]

  "_To the Right Hon. the Lord Chancellor of England
  (Sir T. Audeley) and other of the King's Council._

[Sidenote: Illegally imprisoned by More.]

"In most humble wise showeth unto your goodness your poor bedeman John
Field, how that the next morrow upon twelfth day,[98] in the
twenty-first year of our sovereign lord the King's Highness, Sir Thomas
More, Knight, then being Lord Chancellor of England, did send certain of
his servants, and caused your said bedeman, with certain others, to be
brought to his place at Chelsea, and there kept him (after what manner
and fashion it were now long to tell), by the space of eighteen
days;[99] and then set him at liberty, binding him to appear before him
again the eighth day following in the Star Chamber, which was Candlemas
eve; at which day your said bedeman appeared, and was then sent to the
Fleet, where he continued until Palm Sunday two years after, [in
violation of both the statutes,] kept so close the first quarter that
his keeper only might visit him; and always after closed up with those
that were handled most straitly; often searched, sometimes even at
midnight; besides snares and traps laid to take him in. Betwixt
Michaelmas and Allhalloween tide next after his coming to prison there
was taken from your bedeman a Greek vocabulary, price five shillings;
Saint Cyprian's works, with a book of the same Sir Thomas More's making,
named the _Supplication of Souls_. For what cause it was done he
committeth to the judgment of God, that seeth the souls of all persons.
The said Palm Sunday, which was also our Lady's day, towards night there
came two officers of the Fleet, named George Porter and John Butler, and
took your bedeman into a ward alone, and there, after long searching,
found his purse hanging at his girdle; which they took, and shook out
the money to the sum of ten shillings, which was sent him to buy such
necessaries as he lacked, and delivered him again his purse, well and
truly keeping the money to themselves, as they said for their fees; and
forthwith carried him from the Fleet (where he lost such poor bedding as
he then had, and could never since get it), and delivered him to the
Marshalsea, under our gracious sovereign's commandment and Sir Thomas
More's. When the Sunday before the Rogation week following, your bedeman
fell sick; and the Whitsun Monday was carried out on four men's backs,
and delivered to his friends to be recovered if it so pleased God. At
which time the keeper took for your bedeman's fees other ten shillings,
when four shillings should have sufficed if he had been delivered in
good health.

"Within three weeks it pleased God to set your bedeman on his feet, so
that he might walk abroad. Whereof when Sir Thomas More heard (who went
out of his chancellorship about the time your bedeman was carried out of
prison), although he had neither word nor deed which he could ever truly
lay to your bedeman's charge, yet made he such means by the Bishops of
Winchester and London, as your bedeman heard say, to the Hon. Lord
Thomas Duke of Norfolk, that he gave new commandment to the keeper of
the Marshalsea to attach again your said bedeman; which thing was
speedily done the Sunday three weeks after his deliverance. And so he
continued in prison again until Saint Lawrence tide following; at which
time money was given to the keeper, and some things he took which were
not given, and then was your bedeman re-delivered through the king's
goodness, under sureties bound in a certain sum, that he should appear
the first day of the next term following, and then day by day until his
dismission. And so hath your bedeman been at liberty now twelve months
waiting daily from term to term, and nothing laid to his charge as

"Wherefore, the premises tenderly considered, and also your said
bedeman's great poverty, he most humbly beseecheth your goodness that he
may now be clearly discharged; and if books, money, or other things seem
to be taken or kept from him otherwise than justice would, eftsoons he
beseecheth you that ye will command it to be restored.

"As for his long imprisonment, with other griefs thereto appertaining,
he looketh not to have recompense of man; but committeth his whole cause
to God, to whom your bedeman shall daily pray, according as he is bound,
that ye may so order and govern the realm that it may be to the honour
of God and your heavenly and everlasting reward."

I do not find the result of this petition, but as it appeared that Henry
had interested himself in the story, it is likely to have been
successful. We can form but an imperfect judgment on the merits of the
case, for we have only the sufferer's _ex parte_ complaint, and More
might probably have been able to make some counter-statement. But the
illegal imprisonment cannot be explained away, and cannot be palliated;
and when a judge permits himself to commit an act of arbitrary tyranny,
we argue from the known to the unknown, and refuse reasonably to give
him credit for equity where he was so little careful of law.

[Sidenote: Contrast between Wolsey and More in the treatment of

[Sidenote: The Smithfield fires recommence.]

[Sidenote: Troubles of Bilney.]

Yet a few years of misery in a prison was but an insignificant
misfortune when compared with the fate under which so many other poor
men were at this time overwhelmed. Under Wolsey's chancellorship the
stake had been comparatively idle; he possessed a remarkable power of
making recantation easy; and there is, I believe, no instance in which
an accused heretic was brought under his immediate cognizance, where he
failed to arrange some terms by which submission was made possible. With
Wolsey heresy was an error--with More it was a crime. Soon after the
seals changed hands the Smithfield fires recommenced; and, the
chancellor acting in concert with them, the bishops resolved to
obliterate, in these edifying spectacles, the recollection of their
general infirmities. The crime of the offenders varied,--sometimes it
was a denial of the corporal presence, more often it was a reflection
too loud to be endured on the character and habits of the clergy; but
whatever it was, the alternative lay only between abjuration humiliating
as ingenuity could make it, or a dreadful death. The hearts of many
failed them in the trial, and of all the confessors those perhaps do not
deserve the least compassion whose weakness betrayed them, who sank and
died broken-hearted. Of these silent sufferers history knows nothing. A
few, unable to endure the misery of having, as they supposed, denied
their Saviour, returned to the danger from which they had fled, and
washed out their fall in martyrdom. Latimer has told us the story of his
friend Bilney--little Bilney, or Saint Bilney,[100] as he calls him, his
companion at Cambridge, to whom he owed his own conversion. Bilney,
after escaping through Wolsey's hands in 1527, was again cited in 1529
before the Bishop of London. Three times he refused to recant. He was
offered a fourth and last chance. The temptation was too strong, and he
fell. For two years he was hopelessly miserable; at length his braver
nature prevailed. There was no pardon for a relapsed heretic, and if he
was again in the bishop's hands he knew well the fate which awaited him.

[Sidenote: He "goes up to Jerusalem."]

He told his friends, in language touchingly significant, that "he would
go up to Jerusalem"; and began to preach in the fields. The journey
which he had undertaken was not to be a long one. He was heard to say in
a sermon, that of his personal knowledge certain things which had been
offered in pilgrimage had been given to abandoned women. The priests, he
affirmed, "take away the offerings, and hang them about their women's
necks; and after that they take them off the women, if they please them
not, and hang them again upon the images."[101] This was Bilney's
heresy, or formed the ground of his arrest; he was orthodox on the mass,
and also on the power of the keys; but the secrets of the sacred order
were not to be betrayed with impunity. He was seized, and hurried before
the Bishop of Norwich; and being found heterodox on the papacy and the
mediation of the saints, by the Bishop of Norwich he was sent to the

[Sidenote: James Bainham,]

Another instance of recovered courage, and of martyrdom consequent upon
it, is that of James Bainham, a barrister of the Middle Temple. This
story is noticeable from a very curious circumstance connected with it.

[Sidenote: The latitudinarian martyr.]

[Sidenote: On his first trial he recants.]

Bainham had challenged suspicion by marrying the widow of Simon Fish,
the author of the famous _Beggars' Petition_, who had died in 1528; and,
soon after his marriage, was challenged to give an account of his
faith. He was charged with denying transubstantiation, with questioning
the value of the confessional, and the power of the keys; and the
absence of authoritative Protestant dogma had left his mind free to
expand to a yet larger belief. He had ventured to assert, that "if a
Turk, a Jew, or a Saracen do trust in God and keep his law, he is a good
Christian man,"[102]--a conception of Christianity, a conception of
Protestantism, which we but feebly dare to whisper even at the present
day. The proceedings against him commenced with a demand that he should
give up his books, and also the names of other barristers with whom he
was suspected to have held intercourse. He refused; and in consequence
his wife was imprisoned, and he himself was racked in the Tower by order
of Sir Thomas More. Enfeebled by suffering, he was then brought before
Stokesley, and terrified by the cold merciless eyes of his judge, he
gave way, not about his friends, but about himself: he abjured, and was
dismissed heartbroken. This was on the seventeenth of February. He was
only able to endure his wretchedness for a month. At the end of it, he
appeared at a secret meeting of the Christian Brothers, in "a warehouse
in Bow Lane," where he asked forgiveness of God and all the world for
what he had done; and then went out to take again upon his shoulders the
heavy burden of the cross.

[Sidenote: He recovers his courage,]

The following Sunday, at the church of St. Augustine, he rose in his
seat with the fatal English Testament in his hand, and "declared openly,
before all the people, with weeping tears, that he had denied God,"
praying them all to forgive him, and beware of his weakness; "for if I
should not return to the truth," he said, "this Word of God would damn
me, body and soul, at the day of judgment." And then he prayed
"everybody rather to die than to do as he did, for he would not feel
such a hell again as he did feel for all the world's good."[103]

[Sidenote: And is arrested again.]

Of course but one event was to be looked for: he knew it, and himself
wrote to the bishop, telling him what he had done. No mercy was
possible: he looked for none, and he found none.

[Sidenote: The mercy of the church authorities.]

Yet perhaps he found what the wise authorities thought to be some act of
mercy. They could not grant him pardon in this world upon any terms; but
they would not kill him till they had made an effort for his soul. He
was taken to the Bishop of London's coal-cellar at Fulham, the favourite
episcopal penance-chamber, where he was ironed and put in the stocks;
and there was left for many days, in the chill March weather, to bethink
himself. This failing to work conviction, he was carried to Sir Thomas
More's house at Chelsea, where for two nights he was chained to a post
and whipped; thence, again, he was taken back to Fulham for another week
of torture; and finally to the Tower, for a further fortnight, again
with ineffectual whippings.

[Sidenote: He is burnt April 20, 1532.]

The demands of charity were thus satisfied. The pious bishop and the
learned chancellor had exhausted their means of conversion; they had
discharged their consciences; and the law was allowed to take its
course. The prisoner was brought to trial on the 20th of April, as a
relapsed heretic. Sentence followed; and on the last of the month the
drama closed in the usual manner at Smithfield. Before the fire was
lighted Bainham made a farewell address to the people, laying his death
expressly to More, whom he called his accuser and his judge.[104]

[Sidenote: The feelings with which these spectacles were witnessed by
the people.]

It is unfortunately impossible to learn the feelings with which these
dreadful scenes were witnessed by the people. There are stories which
show that, in some instances, familiarity had produced the usual effect;
that the martyrdom of saints was at times of no more moment to an
English crowd than the execution of ordinary felons,--that it was a mere
spectacle to the idle, the hardened, and the curious. On the other hand,
it is certain that the behaviour of the sufferers was the argument which
at last converted the nation; and an effect which in the end was so
powerful with the multitude must have been visible long before in the
braver and better natures. The increasing number of prosecutions in
London shows, also, that the leaven was spreading. There were five
executions in Smithfield between 1529 and 1533, besides those in the
provinces. The prisons were crowded with offenders who had abjured and
were undergoing sentence; and the list of those who were "troubled" in
various ways is so extensive, as to leave no doubt of the sympathy
which, in London at least, must have been felt by many, very many, of
the spectators of the martyrs' deaths. We are left, in this important
point, mainly to conjecture; and if we were better furnished with
evidence, the language of ordinary narrative would fail to convey any
real notion of perplexed and various emotions. We have glimpses,
however, into the inner world of men, here and there of strange
interest; and we must regret that they are so few.

[Sidenote: Suicide of a boy at Cambridge.]

A poor boy at Cambridge, John Randall, of Christ's College, a relation
of Foxe the martyrologist, destroyed himself in these years in religious
desperation; he was found in his study hanging by his girdle, before an
open Bible, with his dead arm and finger stretched pitifully towards a
passage on predestination.[105]

[Sidenote: Pavier, the town clerk of London, also destroys himself,
under strange circumstances.]

A story even more remarkable is connected with Bainham's execution.
Among the lay officials present at the stake, was "one Pavier," town
clerk of London. This Pavier was a Catholic fanatic, and as the flames
were about to be kindled he burst out into violent and abusive language.
The fire blazed up, and the dying sufferer, as the red flickering
tongues licked the flesh from off his bones, turned to him and said,
"May God forgive thee, and shew more mercy than thou, angry reviler,
shewest to me." The scene was soon over; the town clerk went home. A
week after, one morning when his wife had gone to mass, he sent all his
servants out of his house on one pretext or another, a single girl only
being left, and he withdrew to a garret at the top of the house, which
he used as an oratory. A large crucifix was on the wall, and the girl
having some question to ask, went to the room, and found him standing
before it "bitterly weeping." He told her to take his sword, which was
rusty, and clean it. She went away and left him; when she returned, a
little time after, he was hanging from a beam, dead. He was a singular
person. Edward Hall, the historian, knew him, and had heard him say,
that "if the king put forth the New Testament in English, he would not
live to bear it."[106] And yet he could not bear to see a heretic die.
What was it? Had the meaning of that awful figure hanging on the
torturing cross suddenly revealed itself? Had some inner voice asked him
whether, in the prayer for his persecutors with which Christ had parted
out of life, there might be some affinity with words which had lately
sounded in his own ears? God, into whose hands he threw himself,
self-condemned in his wretchedness, only knows the agony of that hour.
Let the secret rest where it lies, and let us be thankful for ourselves
that we live in a changed world.

[Sidenote: The two orders of martyrs.]

Thus, however, the struggle went forward; a forlorn hope of saints led
the way up the breach, and paved with their bodies a broad road into the
new era; and the nation the meanwhile was unconsciously waiting till the
works of the enemy were won, and they could walk safely in and take
possession. While men like Bilney and Bainham were teaching with words
and writings, there were stout English hearts labouring also on the
practical side of the same conflict, instilling the same lessons, and
meeting for themselves the same consequences. Speculative superstition
was to be met with speculative denial. Practical idolatry required a
rougher method of disenchantment.

[Sidenote: The worship of relics, in its origin and in its abuse.]

[Sidenote: Bishop Shaxton's inventory.]

[Sidenote: The wonder-working roods.]

[Sidenote: The rood of Boxley.]

[Sidenote: The rood of Dovercourt.]

Every monastery, every parish church, had in those days its special
relics, its special images, its special something, to attract the
interest of the people. The reverence for the remains of noble and pious
men, the dresses which they had worn, or the bodies in which their
spirits had lived, was in itself a natural and pious emotion; but it had
been petrified into a dogma; and like every other imaginative feeling
which is submitted to that bad process, it had become a falsehood, a
mere superstition, a substitute for piety, not a stimulus to it, and a
perpetual occasion of fraud. The people brought offerings to the shrines
where it was supposed that the relics were of greatest potency. The
clergy, to secure the offerings, invented the relics, and invented the
stories of the wonders which had been worked by them. The greatest
exposure of these things took place at the visitation of the religious
houses. In the meantime, Bishop Shaxton's unsavoury inventory of what
passed under the name of relics in the diocese of Salisbury, will
furnish an adequate notion of these objects of popular veneration. There
"be set forth and commended unto the ignorant people," he said, "as I
myself of certain which be already come to my hands, have perfect
knowledge, stinking boots, mucky combes, ragged rochettes, rotten
girdles, pyl'd purses, great bullocks' horns, locks of hair, and filthy
rags, gobbetts of wood, under the name of parcels of the holy cross, and
such pelfry beyond estimation."[107] Besides matters of this kind, there
were images of the Virgin or of the Saints; above all, roods or
crucifixes, of especial potency, the virtues of which had begun to grow
uncertain, however, to sceptical Protestants; and from doubt to denial,
and from denial to passionate hatred, there were but a few brief steps.
The most famous of the roods was that of Boxley in Kent, which used to
smile and bow, or frown and shake its head, as its worshippers were
generous or closehanded. The fortunes and misfortunes of this image I
shall by and bye have to relate. There was another, however, at
Dovercourt, in Suffolk, of scarcely inferior fame. This image was of
such power that the door of the church in which it stood was open at all
hours to all comers, and no human hand could close it. Dovercourt
therefore became a place of great and lucrative pilgrimage, much
resorted to by the neighbours on all occasions of difficulty.

[Sidenote: Its powers are submitted to trial,]

Now it happened that within the circuit of a few miles there lived four
young men, to whom the virtues of the rood had become greatly
questionable. If it could work miracles, it must be capable, so they
thought, of protecting its own substance; and they agreed to apply a
practical test which would determine the extent of its abilities.
Accordingly (about the time of Bainham's first imprisonment), Robert
King of Dedham, Robert Debenham of Eastbergholt, Nicholas Marsh of
Dedham, and Robert Gardiner of Dedham, "their consciences being burdened
to see the honour of Almighty God so blasphemed by such an idol,"
started off "on a wondrous goodly night" in February, with hard frost
and a clear full moon, ten miles across the wolds, to the church.

[Sidenote: And are found unequal to the emergency.]

[Sidenote: The rood is burnt.]

The door was open as the legend declared; but nothing daunted, they
entered bravely, and lifting down the "idol" from its shrine, with its
coat and shoes, and the store of tapers which were kept for the
services, they carried it on their shoulders for a quarter of a mile
from the place where it had stood, "without any resistance of the said
idol." There setting it on the ground, they struck a light, fastened the
tapers to the body, and with the help of them, sacrilegiously burnt the
image down to a heap of ashes; the old dry wood "blazing so brimly,"
that it lighted them a full mile of their way home.[108]

[Sidenote: Execution of three of the perpetrators.]

For this night's performance, which, if the devil is the father of lies,
was a stroke of honest work against him and his family, the world
rewarded these men after the usual fashion. One of them, Robert
Gardiner, escaped the search which was made, and disappeared till better
times; the remaining three were swinging in chains six months later on
the scene of their exploit. Their fate was perhaps inevitable. Men who
dare to be the first in great movements are ever self-immolated victims.
But I suppose that it was better for them to be bleaching on their
gibbets, than crawling at the feet of a wooden rood, and believing it to
be God.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: The Protestant Paladins.]

[Sidenote: The two greatest men on the side of the Reformation.]

[Sidenote: The approaching revulsion, and the use which was made of it.]

These were the first Paladins of the Reformation, the knights who slew
the dragons and the enchanters, and made the earth habitable for common
flesh and blood. They were rarely, as we have said, men of great
ability, still more rarely men of "wealth and station"; but men rather
of clear senses and honest hearts. Tyndal was a remarkable person, and
so Clark and Frith promised to become; but the two last were cut off
before they had found scope to show themselves; and Tyndal remaining
abroad, lay outside the battle which was being fought in England, doing
noble work, indeed, and ending as the rest ended, with earning a
martyr's crown; but taking no part in the actual struggle except with
his pen. As yet but two men of the highest order of power were on the
side of Protestantism--Latimer and Cromwell. Of them we have already
said something; but the time was now fast coming when they were to step
forward, pressed by circumstances which could no longer dispense with
them, into scenes of far wider activity; and the present seems a fitting
occasion to give some closer account of their history. When the breach
with the pope was made irreparable, and the papal party at home had
assumed an attitude of suspended insurrection, the fortunes of the
Protestants entered into a new phase. The persecution ceased; and those
who but lately were carrying fagots in the streets, or hiding for their
lives, passed at once by a sudden alternation into the sunshine of
political favour. The summer was but a brief one, followed soon by
returning winter; but Cromwell and Latimer had together caught the
moment as it went by; and before it was over, a work had been done in
England which, when it was accomplished once, was accomplished for ever.
The conservative party recovered their power, and abused it as before;
but the chains of the nation were broken, and no craft of kings or
priests or statesmen could weld the magic links again.

It is a pity that of two persons to whom England owes so deep a debt, we
can piece together such scanty biographies. I must attempt, however, to
give some outline of the little which is known.

[Sidenote: The family of Hugh Latimer. His father a Leicestershire

The father of Latimer was a solid English yeoman, of Thurcaston, in
Leicestershire. "He had no lands of his own," but he rented a farm "of
four pounds by the year," on which "he tilled so much as kept half a
dozen men;" "he had walk for a hundred sheep, and meadow ground for
thirty cows."[109] The world prospered with him; he was able to save
money for his son's education and his daughters' portions; but he was
free-handed and hospitable; he kept open house for his poor neighbours;
and he was a good citizen, too, for "he did find the king a harness with
himself and his horse," ready to do battle for his country, if occasion
called. His family were brought up "in godliness and the fear of the
Lord;" and in all points the old Latimer seems to have been a worthy,
sound, upright man, of the true English mettle.

[Sidenote: The Reformer born about 1490,]

[Sidenote: And brought up in the farmhouse as a brave English boy.]

[Sidenote: He goes to Cambridge.]

There were several children.[110] The Reformer was born about 1490, some
five years after the usurper Richard had been killed at Bosworth.
Bosworth being no great distance from Thurcaston, Latimer the father is
likely to have been present in the battle, on one side or the
other,--the right side in those times it was no easy matter to
choose,--but he became a good servant of the new government,--and the
little Hugh, when a boy of seven years old, helped to buckle[111] on his
armour for him, "when he went to Blackheath field."[112] Being a soldier
himself, the old gentleman was careful to give his sons, whatever else
he gave them, a sound soldier's training. "He was diligent," says
Latimer, "to teach me to shoot with the bow: he taught me how to draw,
how to lay my body in the bow--not to draw with strength of arm, as
other nations do, but with the strength of the body. I had my bows
bought me according to my age and strength; as I increased in these, my
bows were made bigger and bigger."[113] Under this education, and in the
wholesome atmosphere of the farmhouse, the boy prospered well; and by
and bye, showing signs of promise, he was sent to school. When he was
fourteen, the promises so far having been fulfilled, his father
transferred him to Cambridge.[114]

[Sidenote: Is elected fellow of Clare Hall, and becomes a divinity

[Sidenote: Converted from "the shadow of death" by Bilney.]

[Sidenote: Sources of Latimer's knowledge, as evidenced in his sermons.]

He was soon known at the university as a sober, hard-working student. At
nineteen, he was elected fellow of Clare Hall; at twenty, he took his
degree, and became a student in divinity, when he accepted quietly, like
a sensible man, the doctrines which he had been brought up to believe.
At the time when Henry VIII. was writing against Luther, Latimer was
fleshing his maiden sword in an attack upon Melancthon;[115] and he
remained, he said, till he was thirty, "in darkness and the shadow of
death." About this time he became acquainted with Bilney, whom he calls
"the instrument whereby God called him to knowledge." In Bilney,
doubtless, he found a sound instructor; but a careful reader of his
sermons will see traces of a teaching for which he was indebted to no
human master. His deepest knowledge was that which stole upon him
unconsciously through the experience of life and the world. His words
are like the clear impression of a seal; the account and the result of
observations, taken first hand, on the condition of the English men and
women of his time, in all ranks and classes, from the palace to the
prison. He shows large acquaintance with books; with the Bible, most of
all; with patristic divinity and school divinity; and history, sacred
and profane: but if this had been all, he would not have been the
Latimer of the Reformation, and the Church of England would not,
perhaps, have been here to-day. Like the physician, to whom a year of
practical experience in a hospital teaches more than a life of closet
study, Latimer learnt the mental disorders of his age in the age itself;
and the secret of that art no other man, however good, however wise,
could have taught him. He was not an echo, but a voice; and he drew his
thoughts fresh from the fountain--from the facts of the era in which God
had placed him.

[Sidenote: His early reputation as a preacher at Cambridge.]

[Sidenote: Personal character of his addresses.]

[Sidenote: He offends the Bishop of Ely.]

[Sidenote: Wolsey's judgment on the bishop's complaint.]

He became early famous as a preacher at Cambridge, from the first, "a
seditious fellow," as a noble lord called him in later life, highly
troublesome to unjust persons in authority. "None, except the
stiff-necked and uncircumcised, ever went away from his preaching, it
was said, without being affected with high detestation of sin, and moved
to all godliness and virtue."[116] And, in his audacious simplicity, he
addressed himself always to his individual hearers, giving his words a
personal application, and often addressing men by name. This habit
brought him first into difficulty in 1525. He was preaching before the
university, when the Bishop of Ely came into the church, being curious
to hear him. He paused till the bishop was seated; and when he
recommenced, he changed his subject, and drew an ideal picture of a
prelate as a prelate ought to be; the features of which, though he did
not say so, were strikingly unlike those of his auditor. The bishop
complained to Wolsey, who sent for Latimer, and inquired what he had
said. Latimer repeated the substance of his sermon; and other
conversation then followed, which showed Wolsey very clearly the nature
of the person with whom he was speaking. No eye saw more rapidly than
the cardinal's the difference between a true man and an impostor; and he
replied to the Bishop of Ely's accusations by granting the offender a
licence to preach in any church in England. "If the Bishop of Ely cannot
abide such doctrine as you have here repeated," he said, "you shall
preach it to his beard, let him say what he will."[117]

[Sidenote: Practical character of Latimer's mind, which protected him
from speculative difficulties.]

Thus fortified, Latimer pursued his way, careless of the university
authorities, and probably defiant of them. He was still orthodox in
points of theoretic belief. His mind was practical rather than
speculative, and he was slow in arriving at conclusions which had no
immediate bearing upon action. No charge could be fastened upon him,
definitely criminal; and he was too strong to be crushed by that
compendious tyranny which treated as an act of heresy the exposure of
imposture or delinquency.

[Sidenote: On Wolsey's fall, he is appointed royal chaplain.]

[Sidenote: Latimer addresses Henry in behalf of the Protestants.]

On Wolsey's fall, however, he would have certainly been silenced: if he
had fallen into the hands of Sir Thomas More, he would have perhaps
been prematurely sacrificed. But, fortunately, he found a fresh
protector in the king. Henry heard of him, sent for him, and, with
instinctive recognition of his character, appointed him one of the royal
chaplains. He now left Cambridge and removed to Windsor, but only to
treat his royal patron as freely as he had treated the Cambridge
doctors,--not with any absence of respect, for he was most respectful,
but with that highest respect which dares to speak unwelcome truth where
the truth seems to be forgotten. He was made chaplain in 1530--during
the new persecution, for which Henry was responsible by a more than
tacit acquiescence. Latimer, with no authority but his own conscience,
and the strong certainty that he was on God's side, threw himself
between the spoilers and their prey, and wrote to the king, protesting
against the injustice which was crushing the truest men in his
dominions. The letter is too long to insert; the close of it may show
how a poor priest could dare to address the imperious Henry VIII.:

"I pray to God that your Grace may take heed of the worldly wisdom which
is foolishness before God; that you may do that [which] God commandeth,
and not that [which] seemeth good in your own sight, without the word of
God; that your Grace may be found acceptable in his sight, and one of
the members of his church; and according to the office that he hath
called your Grace unto, you may be found a faithful minister of his
gifts, and not a defender of his faith: for he will not have it defended
by man or man's power, but by his word only, by the which he hath
evermore defended it, and that by a way far above man's power or

"Wherefore, gracious king, remember yourself; have pity upon your soul;
and think that the day is even at hand when you shall give account for
your office, and of the blood that hath been shed by your sword. In
which day, that your Grace may stand steadfastly, and not be ashamed,
but be clear and ready in your reckoning, and have (as they say), your
_quietus est_ sealed with the blood of our Saviour Christ, which only
serveth at that day, is my daily prayer to Him that suffered death for
our sins, which also prayeth to his Father for grace for us continually;
to whom be all honour and praise for ever. Amen. The Spirit of God
preserve your Grace."[118]

[Sidenote: His intercession was ineffectual,]

[Sidenote: But earned the increased regard of the king.]

These words, which conclude an address of almost unexampled grandeur,
are unfortunately of no interest to us, except as illustrating the
character of the priest who wrote them, and the king to whom they were
written. The hand of the persecutor was not stayed. The rack and the
lash and the stake continued to claim their victims. So far it was
labour in vain. But the letter remains, to speak for ever for the
courage of Latimer; and to speak something, too, for a prince that could
respect the nobleness of the poor yeoman's son, who dared in such a
cause to write to him as a man to a man. To have written at all in such
a strain was as brave a step as was ever deliberately ventured. Like
most brave acts, it did not go unrewarded; for Henry remained ever
after, however widely divided from him in opinion, his unshaken friend.

[Sidenote: He retires from the court to West Kingston, but preaches
widely about the country.]

In 1531, the king gave him the living of West Kingston, in Wiltshire,
where for a time he now retired. Yet it was but a partial rest. He had
a special licence as a preacher from Cambridge, which continued to him
(with the king's express sanction)[119] the powers which he had received
from Wolsey. He might preach in any diocese to which he was invited; and
the repose of a country parish could not be long allowed in such stormy
times to Latimer. He had bad health, being troubled with headache,
pleurisy, colic, stone; his bodily constitution meeting feebly the
demands which he was forced to make upon it.[120] But he struggled on,
travelling up and down to London, to Kent, to Bristol, wherever
opportunity called him; marked for destruction by the bishops, if he was
betrayed into an imprudent word, and himself living in constant
expectation of death.[121]

[Sidenote: He is cited before Stokesley,]

[Sidenote: And expects death.]

At length the Bishop of London believed that Latimer was in his power.
He had preached at St. Abb's, in the city, "at the request of a company
of merchants,"[122] in the beginning of the winter of 1531; and soon
after his return to his living, he was informed that he was to be cited
before Stokesley. His friends in the neighbourhood wrote to him,
evidently in great alarm, and more anxious that he might clear himself
than expecting that he would be able to do so;[123] he himself, indeed,
had almost made up his mind that the end was coming.[124]

[Sidenote: January 10.]

[Sidenote: Method of prosecution in cases of suspected heresy.]

[Sidenote: The charge against Latimer submitted to convocation.]

[Sidenote: The efforts for his conviction baffled by his skill in

The citation was delayed for a few weeks. It was issued at last, on the
10th of January, 1531-2,[125] and was served by Sir Walter Hungerford,
of Farley.[126] The offences with which he was charged were certain
"excesses and irregularities" not specially defined; and the practice of
the bishops in such cases was not to confine the prosecution to the acts
committed, but to draw up a series of articles, on which it was presumed
that the orthodoxy of the accused person was open to suspicion, and to
question him separately upon each. Latimer was first examined by
Stokesley; subsequently at various times by the bishops collectively;
and finally, when certain formulas had been submitted to him, which he
refused to sign, his case was transferred to convocation. The
convocation, as we know, were then in difficulty with their premunire;
they had consoled themselves in their sorrow with burning the body of
Tracy; and they would gladly have taken further comfort by burning
Latimer.[127] He was submitted to the closest cross-questionings, in
the hope that he would commit himself. They felt that he was the most
dangerous person to them in the kingdom, and they laboured with unusual
patience to ensure his conviction.[128] With a common person they would
have rapidly succeeded. But Latimer was in no haste to be a martyr; he
would be martyred patiently when the time was come for martyrdom; but he
felt that no one ought "to consent to die," as long as he could honestly
live;[129] and he baffled the episcopal inquisitors with their own
weapons. He has left a most curious account of one of his interviews
with them.

[Sidenote: Latimer before the bishops.]

"I was once in examination," he says,[130] "before five or six bishops,
where I had much turmoiling. Every week, thrice, I came to examination,
and many snares and traps were laid to get something. Now, God knoweth,
I was ignorant of the law; but that God gave me answer and wisdom what I
should speak. It was God indeed, for else I had never escaped them. At
the last, I was brought forth to be examined into a chamber hanged with
arras, where I was before wont to be examined, but now, at this time,
the chamber was somewhat altered: for whereas before there was wont ever
to be a fire in the chimney,[131] now the fire was taken away, and an
arras hanging hanged over the chimney; and the table stood near the
chimney's end, so that I stood between the table and the chimney's end.
There was among these bishops that examined me one with whom I had been
very familiar, and took him for my great friend, an aged man, and he
sate next the table end. Then, among all other questions, he put forth
one, a very subtle and crafty one, and such one indeed as I could not
think so great danger in. And when I would make answer, 'I pray you,
Master Latimer,' said he, 'speak out; I am very thick of hearing, and
here be many that sit far off.' I marvelled at this, that I was bidden
to speak out, and began to misdeem, and gave an ear to the chimney; and,
sir, there I heard a pen walking in the chimney, behind the cloth. They
had appointed one there to write all mine answers; for they made sure
work that I should not start from them: there was no starting from them:
God was my good Lord, and gave me answer; I could never else have
escaped it. The question was this: 'Master Latimer, do you not think, on
your conscience, that you have been suspected of heresy?'--a subtle
question--a very subtle question. There was no holding of peace would
serve. To hold my peace had been to grant myself faulty. To answer was
every way full of danger. But God, which hath always given me answer,
helped me, or else I could never have escaped it. _Ostendite mihi
numisma censûs._ Shew me, said he, a penny of the tribute money. They
laid snares to destroy him, but he overturneth them in their own

[Sidenote: He appeals to the king, and is saved.]

The bishops, however, were not men who were nice in their adherence to
the laws; and it would have gone ill with Latimer, notwithstanding his
dialectic ability. He was excommunicated and imprisoned, and would soon
have fallen into worse extremities; but at the last moment he appealed
to the king, and the king, who knew his value, would not allow him to be
sacrificed. He had refused to subscribe the articles proposed to
him.[133] Henry intimated to the convocation that it was not his
pleasure that the matter should be pressed further; they were to content
themselves with a general submission, which should be made to the
archbishop, without exacting more special acknowledgments. This was the
reward to Latimer for his noble letter. He was absolved, and returned to
his parish, though snatched as a brand out of the fire.

Soon after, the tide turned, and the Reformation entered into a new

[Sidenote: Thomas Cromwell.]

Such is a brief sketch of the life of Hugh Latimer, to the time when it
blended with the broad stream of English history. With respect to the
other very great man whom the exigencies of the state called to power
simultaneously with him, our information is far less satisfactory.
Though our knowledge of Latimer's early story comes to us in fragments
only, yet there are certain marks in it by which the outline can be
determined with certainty. A cloud rests over the youth and early
manhood of Thomas Cromwell, through which, only at intervals, we catch
glimpses of authentic facts; and these few fragments of reality seem
rather to belong to a romance than to the actual life of a man.

[Sidenote: His father, one of the Cromwells of Lincolnshire, dies

[Sidenote: His mother re-marries, and her son becomes a vagabond.]

[Sidenote: Wild story of his journey to Rome.]

[Sidenote: His Italian wanderings.]

[Sidenote: The Florentine banker.]

Cromwell, the malleus monachorum, was of good English family, belonging
to the Cromwells of Lincolnshire. One of these, probably a younger
brother, moved up to London and conducted an ironfoundry, or other
business of that description, at Putney. He married a lady of
respectable connexions, of whom we know only that she was sister of the
wife of a gentleman in Derbyshire, but whose name does not appear.[134]
The old Cromwell dying early, the widow was remarried, to a
cloth-merchant; and the child of the first husband, who made himself so
great a name in English story, met with the reputed fortune of a
stepson, and became a vagabond in the wide world. The chart of his
course wholly fails us. One day in later life he shook by the hand an
old bellringer at Sion House before a crowd of courtiers, and told them
that "this man's father had given him many a dinner in his necessities."
And a strange random account is given by Foxe of his having joined a
party in an expedition to Rome to obtain a renewal from the pope of
certain immunities and indulgences for the town of Boston; a story which
derives some kind of credibility from its connexion with Lincolnshire,
but is full of incoherence and unlikelihood. Following still the popular
legend, we find him in the autumn of 1515 a ragged stripling at the door
of Frescobaldi's banking-house in Florence, begging for help.
Frescobaldi had an establishment in London,[135] with a large connexion
there; and seeing an English face, and seemingly an honest one, he asked
the boy who and what he was. "I am, sir," quoth he, "of England, and my
name is Thomas Cromwell; my father is a poor man, and by occupation a
clothshearer; I am strayed from my country, and am now come into Italy
with the camp of Frenchmen that were overthrown at Garigliano, where I
was page to a footman, carrying after him his pike and burganet."
Something in the boy's manner was said to have attracted the banker's
interest; he took him into his house, and after keeping him there as
long as he desired to stay, he gave him a horse and sixteen ducats to
help him home to England.[136] Foxe is the first English authority for
the story; and Foxe took it from Bandello, the novelist; but it is
confirmed by, or harmonizes with, a sketch of Cromwell's early life in a
letter of Chappuys, the imperial ambassador, to Chancellor Granvelle.
"Master Cromwell," wrote Chappuys in 1535, "is the son of a poor
blacksmith, who lived in a small village four miles from London, and is
buried in a common grave in the parish churchyard. In his youth, for
some offence, he was imprisoned, and had to leave the country. He went
to Flanders, and thence to Rome and other places in Italy."[137]

[Sidenote: He finds his way into the service of Wolsey.]

Returning to England, he married the daughter of a woollen-dealer, and
became a partner in the business, where he amassed or inherited a
considerable fortune.[138] Circumstances afterwards brought him, while
still young, in contact with Wolsey, who discovered his merit, took him
into service, and in 1525 employed him in the most important work of
visiting and breaking up the small monasteries, which the pope had
granted for the foundation of the new colleges. He was engaged with this
business for two years, and was so efficient that he obtained an
unpleasant notoriety, and complaints of his conduct found their way to
the king. Nothing came of these complaints, however, and Cromwell
remained with the cardinal till his fall.[139]

[Sidenote: Cromwell's noble conduct on Wolsey's fall.]

[Sidenote: Scene at Esher.]

[Sidenote: Cromwell's common saying, that he would either make or mar.]

[Sidenote: He defeats the attempted impeachment of Wolsey in the House
of Commons,]

It was then that the truly noble nature which was in him showed itself.
He accompanied his master through his dreary confinement at Esher,[140]
doing all that man could do to soften the outward wretchedness of it;
and at the meeting of parliament, in which he obtained a seat, he
rendered him a still more gallant service. The Lords had passed a bill
of impeachment against Wolsey, violent, vindictive, and malevolent. It
was to be submitted to the Commons, and Cromwell prepared to attempt an
opposition. Cavendish has left a most characteristic description of his
leaving Esher at this trying time. A cheerless November evening was
closing in with rain and storm. Wolsey was broken down with sorrow and
sickness; and had been unusually tried by parting with his retinue, whom
he had sent home, as unwilling to keep them attached any longer to his
fallen fortunes. When they were all gone, "My lord," says Cavendish,
"returned to his chamber, lamenting the departure of his servants,
making his moan unto Master Cromwell, who comforted him the best he
could, and desired my lord give him leave to go to London, where he
would either make or mar before he came again; which was always his
common saying. Then after long communication with my lord in secret, he
departed, and took his horse and rode to London; at whose departing I
was by, whom he bade farewell, and said, ye shall hear shortly of me,
and if I speed well I will not fail to be here again within these two
days."[141] He did speed well. "After two days he came again with a much
pleasanter countenance, and meeting with me before he came to my lord,
said unto me, that he had adventured to put in his foot where he trusted
shortly to be better regarded or all were done." He had stopped the
progress of the impeachment in the Lower House, and was answering the
articles one by one. In the evening he rode down to Esher for
instructions. In the morning he was again at his place in Parliament;
and he conducted the defence so skilfully, that finally he threw out the
bill, saved Wolsey, and himself "grew into such estimation in every
man's opinion, for his honest behaviour in his master's cause, that he
was esteemed the most faithfullest servant, [and] was of all men greatly

[Sidenote: And passes into the service of the king.]

Henry admired his chivalry, and perhaps his talent. The loss of Wolsey
had left him without any very able man, unless we may consider Sir
Thomas More such, upon his council, and he could not calculate on More
for support in his anti-Roman policy; he was glad, therefore, to avail
himself of the service of a man who had given so rare a proof of
fidelity, and who had been trained by the ablest statesman of the

To Wolsey Cromwell could render no more service except as a friend, and
his warm friend he remained to the last. He became the king's secretary,
representing the government in the House of Commons, and was at once on
the high road to power. I cannot call him ambitious; an ambitious man
would scarcely have pursued so refined a policy, or have calculated on
the admiration which he gained by adhering to a fallen minister. He did
not seek greatness,--greatness rather sought him as the man in England
most fit to bear it. His business was to prepare the measures which were
to be submitted to Parliament by the government. His influence,
therefore, grew necessarily with the rapidity with which events were
ripening; and when the conclusive step was taken, and the king was
married, the virtual conduct of the Reformation passed into his hands.
His Protestant tendencies were unknown as yet, perhaps, even to his own
conscience; nor to the last could he arrive at any certain speculative
convictions. He was drawn towards the Protestants as he rose into power
by the integrity of his nature, which compelled him to trust only those
who were honest like himself.


[1] The origin of the word Lollards has been always a disputed question.
I conceive it to be from Lolium. They were the "tares" in the corn of

[2] 35 Ed. I.; Statutes of Carlisle, cap. 1-4.

[3] 35 Ed. I. cap. 1-4.

[4] 25 Ed. III. stat. 4. A clause in the preamble of this act bears a
significantly Erastian complexion: _come seinte Eglise estoit founde en
estat de prelacie deins le royaulme Dengleterre par le dit Roi et ses
progenitours, et countes, barons, et nobles de ce Royaulme et lours
ancestres, pour eux et le poeple enfourmer de la lei Dieu._ If the
Church of England was held to have been founded not by the successors of
the Apostles, but by the king and the nobles, the claim of Henry VIII to
the supremacy was precisely in the spirit of the constitution.

[5] 38 Ed. III. stat. 2; 3 Ric. II. cap. 3; 12 Ric. II. cap. 15; 13 Ric.
II. stat. 2. The first of these acts contains a paragraph which shifts
the blame from the popes themselves to the officials of the Roman
courts. The statute is said to have been enacted en eide et confort du
pape qui moult sovent a estee trublez par tieles et semblables clamours
et impetracions, et qui y meist voluntiers covenable remedie, si sa
seyntetee estoit sur ces choses enfournee. I had regarded this passage
as a fiction of courtesy like that of the Long Parliament who levied
troops in the name of Charles I. The suspicious omission of the clause,
however, in the translation of the statutes which was made in the later
years of Henry VIII. justifies an interpretation more favourable to the
intentions of the popes.

[6] The abbots and bishops decently protested. Their protest was read in
parliament, and entered on the Rolls. _Rot. Parl._ III. [264] quoted by
Lingard, who has given a full account of these transactions.

[7] 13 Ric. II. stat. 2.

[8] See 16 Ric. II. cap. 5.

[9] This it will be remembered was the course which was afterwards
followed by the parliament under Henry VIII. before abolishing the
payment of first-fruits.

[10] Lingard says, that "there were rumours that if the prelates
executed the decree of the king's courts, they would be
excommunicated."--Vol. III. p. 172. The language of the act of
parliament, 16 Ric. II. cap. 5, is explicit that the sentence was

[11] 16 Ric. II. cap. 5.

[12] Ibid.

[13] 16 Ric. II. cap. 5.

[14] Lewis, _Life of Wycliffe_.

[15] If such _scientia media_ might be allowed to man, which is beneath
certainty and above conjecture, such should I call our persuasion that
he was born in Durham.--Fuller's _Worthies_, Vol. I. p. 479.

[16] _The Last Age of the Church_ was written in 1356. See Lewis, p. 3.

[17] Leland.

[18] Lewis, p. 287.

[19] 1 Ric. II. cap. 13.

[20] Walsingham, 206-7, apud Lingard. It is to be observed, however,
that Wycliffe himself limited his arguments strictly to the property of
the clergy. See Milman's _History of Latin Christianity_, Vol. V. p.

[21] Walsingham, p. 275, apud Lingard.

[22] 5 Ric. II. cap. 5

[23] Wilkins, _Concilia_, III. 160-167.

[24] _De Heretico comburendo._ 2 Hen. IV. cap. 15.

[25] Stow, 330, 338.

[26] _Rot. Parl._ IV. 24, 108, apud Lingard; Rymer, IX. 89, 119, 129,
170, 193; Milman, Vol. V. p. 520-535.

[27] 2 Hen. V. stat. 1, cap. 7.

[28] There is no better test of the popular opinion of a man than the
character assigned to him on the stage; and till the close of the
sixteenth century Sir John Oldcastle remained the profligate buffoon of
English comedy. Whether in life he bore the character so assigned to
him, I am unable to say. The popularity of Henry V., and the splendour
of his French wars served no doubt to colour all who had opposed him
with a blacker shade than they deserved: but it is almost certain that
Shakspeare, though not intending Falstaff as a portrait of Oldcastle,
thought of him as he was designing the character; and it is altogether
certain that by the London public Falstaff was supposed to represent
Oldcastle. We can hardly suppose that such an expression as "my old lad
of the castle" should be accidental; and in the epilogue to the Second
Part of _Henry the Fourth_, when promising to reintroduce Falstaff once
more, Shakspeare says, "where for anything I know he shall die of the
sweat, for Oldcastle died a martyr, and this is not the man." He had,
therefore, certainly been supposed to _be the man_, and Falstaff
represented the English conception of the character of the Lollard hero.
I should add, however, that Dean Milman, who has examined the records
which remain to throw light on the character of this remarkable person
with elaborate care and ability, concludes emphatically in his favour.

[29] Two curious letters of Henry VI. upon the Lollards, written in
1431, are printed in the _Archæologia_, Vol. XXIII. p. 339, &c. "As God
knoweth," he says of them, "never would they be subject to his laws nor
to man's, but would be loose and free to rob, reve, and dispoil, slay
and destroy all men of thrift and worship, as they proposed to have done
in our father's days; and of lads and lurdains would make lords."

[30] Proceedings of an organized Society in London called the Christian
Brethren, supported by voluntary contributions, for the dispersion of
tracts against the doctrines of the Church: _Rolls House MS._

[31] Hale's _Precedents_. The London and Lincoln Registers, in Foxe,
Vol. IV.; and the MS. Registers of Archbishops Morton and Warham, at

[32] Knox's _History of the Reformation in Scotland_.

[33] Also we object to you that divers times, and specially in Robert
Durdant's house, of Iver Court, near unto Staines, you erroneously and
damnably read in a great book of heresy, all [one] night, certain
chapters of the Evangelists, in English, containing in them divers
erroneous and damnable opinions and conclusions of heresy, in the
presence of divers suspected persons.--Articles objected against Richard
Butler--London Register: Foxe, Vol. IV. p. 178.

[34] Foxe, Vol. IV. p. 176.

[35] Michelet, _Life of Luther_, p. 71.

[36] Ibid.

[37] Ibid. p. 41.

[38] Wood's _Athenæ Oxonienses_.

[39] Foxe, Vol. IV. p. 618.

[40] The suspicious eyes of the Bishops discovered Tyndal's visit, and
the result which was to be expected from it.

On Dec. 2d, 1525, Edward Lee, afterwards Archbishop of York, then king's
almoner, and on a mission into Spain, wrote from Bordeaux to warn Henry.
The letter is instructive:

"Please your Highness to understand that I am certainly informed as I
passed in this country, that an Englishman, your subject, at the
solicitation and instance of Luther, with whom he is, hath translated
the New Testament into English; and within few days intendeth to return
with the same imprinted into England. I need not to advertise your Grace
what infection and danger may ensue hereby if it be not withstanded.
This is the next way to fulfil your realm with Lutherians. For all
Luther's perverse opinions be grounded upon bare words of Scripture, not
well taken, ne understanded which your Grace hath opened in sundry
places of your royal book. All our forefathers, governors of the Church
of England, hath with all diligence forbid and eschewed publication of
English Bibles, as appeareth in constitutions provincial of the Church
of England. Nowe, sire, as God hath endued your Grace with Christian
courage to sett forth the standard against these Philistines and to
vanquish them, so I doubt not but that he will assist your Grace to
prosecute and perform the same--that is, to undertread them that they
shall not now lift up their heads; which they endeavour by means of
English Bibles. They know what hurt such books hath done in your realm
in times past."--Edward Lee to Henry VIII.: Ellis, third series, Vol.
II. p. 71.

[41] Answer of the Bishops: _Rolls House MS._ See cap. 3.

[42] Answer of the Bishops, Vol. I. cap. 3.

[43] See, particularly, _State Papers_, Vol. VII. p. 302.

[44] Proceedings of the Christian Brethren: _Rolls House MS._

[45] See the letter of Bishop Fox to Wolsey: Strype's _Memorials_, Vol.
I. Appendix.

[46] Particulars of Persons who had dispersed Anabaptist and Lutheran
Tracts: _Rolls House MS._

[47] Dr. Taylor to Wolsey: _Rolls House MS._ Clark to Wolsey: _State
Papers_, Vol. VII. pp. 80, 81.

[48] Ellis, third series, Vol. II. p. 189.

[49] Memoirs of Latimer prefixed to Sermons, pp. 3, 4; and see Strype's
_Memorials_, Vol. I.

[50] Foxe, Vol. V. p. 416.

[51] Tunstall, Bishop of London, has had the credit hitherto of this
ingenious folly, the effect of which, as Sir Thomas More warned him,
could only be to supply Tyndal with money.--Hall, 762, 763. The
following letter from the Bishop of Norwich to Warham shows that
Tunstall was only acting in canonical obedience to the resolution of his

"In right humble manner I commend me unto your good Lordship, doing the
same to understand that I lately received your letters, dated at your
manor of Lambeth, the 26th day of the month of May, by the which I do
perceive that your Grace hath lately gotten into your hands all the
books of the New Testament, translated into English, and printed beyond
the sea; as well those with the glosses joined unto them as those
without the glosses.

"Surely, in myn opinion, you have done therein a gracious and a blessed
deed; and God, I doubt not, shall highly reward you therefore. And when,
in your said letters, ye write that, insomuch as this matter and the
danger thereof, if remedy had not been provided, should not only have
touched you, but all the bishops within your province; and that it is no
reason that the holle charge and cost thereof should rest only in you;
but that they and every of them, for their part, should advance and
contribute certain sums of money towards the same: I for my part will be
contented to advance in this behalf, and to make payment thereof unto
your servant, Master William Potkyn.

"Pleaseth it you to understand, I am well contented to give and advance
in this behalf ten marks, and shall cause the same to be delivered
shortly, the which sum I think sufficient for my part, if every bishop
within your province make like contribution, after the rate and
substance of their benefices. Nevertheless, if your Grace think this sum
not sufficient for my part in this matter, your further pleasure known,
I shall be as glad to conform myself thereunto in this, or any other
matter concerning the church, as any your subject within your province;
as knows Almighty God, who long preserve you. At Hoxne in Suffolk, the
14th day of June, 1527. Your humble obedience and bedeman,


[52] Foxe, Vol. IV.

[53] The papal bull, and the king's licence to proceed upon it are
printed in _Rymer_, Vol. VI. Part II. pp. 8 and 17. The latter is
explicit on Wolsey's personal liberality in establishing this
foundation. Ultro et ex propriâ liberalitate et munificentiâ, nec sine
gravissimo suo sumptu et impensis collegium fundare conatur.

[54] Would God my Lord his Grace had never been motioned to call any
Cambridge man to his most towardly college. It were a gracious deed if
they were tried and purged and restored unto their mother from whence
they came, if they be worthy to come thither again. We were clear
without blot or suspicion till they came, and some of them, as Master
Dean hath known a long time, hath had a shrewd name.--Dr. London to
Archbishop Warham: _Rolls House MS._

[55] Dr. London to Warham: _Rolls House MS._

[56] Dalaber's _Narrative_.

[57] Clark seems to have taken pupils in the long vacation. Dalaber at
least read with him all one summer in the country.--Dr. London to
Warham: _Rolls House MS._

[58] The Vicar of Bristol to the Master of Lincoln College, Oxford:
_Rolls House MS._

[59] Dr. London to Warham: _Rolls House MS._

[60] Radley himself was one of the singers at Christchurch. London to
Warham. _MS._

[61] Dr. London to Warham: _Rolls House MS._

[62] On the site of the present Worcester College. It lay beyond the
walls of the town, and was then some distance from it across the field.

[63] Christchurch, where Dalaber occasionally sung in the quire. Vide

[64] Some part of which let us read with him. "I send you forth as sheep
in the midst of wolves; be ye therefore wise as serpents and harmless as
doves. But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to the councils,
and they will scourge you in their synagogues; and ye shall be brought
before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and
the gentiles. But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what
ye shall speak, for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye
shall speak; for it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father
which speaketh in you. And the brother shall deliver up the brother to
death; and the father the child; and the children shall rise up against
their parents, and cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated
of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be
saved. Whosoever shall confess me before men, him will I confess also
before my Father which is in heaven. Whosoever shall deny me before men,
him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. Think not that
I am come to send peace on earth; I came not to send peace, but a sword.
For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the
daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her
mother-in-law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. He
that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me. He that
loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. He that taketh
not his cross and followeth after me is not worthy of me. He that
findeth his life shall lose it, and he that loseth his life for my sake
shall find it."

[65] Rector of Lincoln.

[66] Warden of New College.

[67] The last prayer.

[68] Dr. Maitland, who has an indifferent opinion of the early
Protestants, especially on the point of veracity, brings forward this
assertion of Dalaber as an illustration of what he considers their
recklessness. It seems obvious, however, that a falsehood of this kind
is something different in kind from what we commonly mean by unveracity,
and has no affinity with it. I do not see my way to a conclusion; but I
am satisfied that Dr. Maitland's strictures are unjust. If Garret was
taken, he was in danger of a cruel death, and his escape could only be
made possible by throwing the bloodhounds off the scent. A refusal to
answer would not have been sufficient; and the general laws by which our
conduct is ordinarily to be directed cannot be made so universal in
their application as to meet all contingencies. It is a law that we may
not strike or kill other men, but occasions rise in which we may
innocently do both. I may kill a man in defence of my own life or my
friend's life, or even of my friend's property; and surely the
circumstances which dispense with obedience to one law may dispense
equally with obedience to another. _If_ I may kill a man to prevent him
from robbing my friend, why may I not deceive a man to save my friend
from being barbarously murdered? It is possible that the highest
morality would forbid me to do either. I am unable to see why, if the
first be permissible, the second should be a crime. Rahab of Jericho did
the same thing which Dalaber did, and on that very ground was placed in
the catalogue of saints.

[69] A cell in the Tower, the nature of which we need not inquire into.

[70] Foxe, Vol. V. p. 421.

[71] Dr. London to the Bishop of Lincoln: _Rolls House MS._

[72] Ibid.

[73] Dr. Forman, rector of All Hallows, who had himself been in trouble
for heterodoxy.

[74] Dr. London to the Bishop of Lincoln, Feb. 20. 1528: _Rolls House

[75] Now Cokethorpe Park, three miles from Stanton Harcourt, and about
twelve from Oxford. The village has disappeared.

[76] Vicar of All Saints, Bristol, to the Rector of Lincoln: _Rolls
House MS._

[77] The Vicar of All Saints to the Rector of Lincoln: _Rolls House MS._

[78] Dr. London to the Bishop of Lincoln: _Rolls House MS._

[79] Long extracts from it are printed in Foxe, Vol. IV.

[80] Another of the brethren, afterwards Bishop of St. David's, and one
of the Marian victims.

[81] Bishop of Lincoln to Wolsey, March 5, 1527-8: _Rolls House MS._;
and see Ellis, third series, Vol. II. p. 77.

[82] Ellis, third series, Vol. II. p. 77.

[83] With some others he "was cast into a prison where the salt-fish
lay, through the stink whereof the most part of them were infected; and
the said Clark, being a tender young man, died in the same
prison."--Foxe, Vol. IV. p. 615.

[84] London to Warham: _Rolls House MS._

[85] Petition of the Commons, Vol. I. cap. 3.

[86] Ibid. And, as we saw in the bishops' reply, they considered their
practice in these respects wholly defensible.--See _Reply of the
Bishops_, cap. 3.

[87] Petition of the Commons, cap 3.

[88] 2 Hen. V. stat. 1.

[89] He had been "troublesome to heretics," he said, and he had "done it
with a little ambition;" for "he so hated this kind of men, that he
would be the sorest enemy that they could have, if they would not
repent."--More's _Life of More_, p. 211.

[90] See Foxe, Vol. IV. pp. 689, 698, 705.

[91] 2 Hen V. stat 1.

[92] John Stokesley.

[93] Petition of Thomas Philips to the House of Commons: _Rolls House

[94] Ibid.

[95] Foxe, Vol. V. pp. 29, 30.

[96] The circumstances are curious. Philips begged that he might have
the benefit of the king's writ of corpus cum causâ, and be brought to
the bar of the House of Commons, where the Bishop of London should be
subpoenaed to meet him. [Petition of Thomas Philips: _Rolls House
MS._] The Commons did not venture on so strong a measure; but a digest
of the petition was sent to the Upper House, that the bishop might have
an opportunity of reply. The Lords refused to receive or consider the
case: they replied that it was too "frivolous an affair" for so grave an
assembly, and that they could not discuss it. [_Lords' Journals_, Vol.
I. p. 66.] A deputation of the Commons then waited privately upon the
bishop, and being of course anxious to ascertain whether Philips had
given a true version of what had passed, they begged him to give some
written explanation of his conduct, which might be read in the Commons'
House. [_Lords' Journals_, Vol. I. p. 71.] The request was reasonable,
and we cannot doubt that, if explanation had been possible, the bishop
would not have failed to offer it; but he preferred to shield himself
behind the judgment of the Lords. The Lords, he said, had decided that
the matter was too frivolous for their own consideration; and without
their permission, he might not set a precedent of responsibility to the
Commons by answering their questions.

This conduct met with the unanimous approval of the Peers. [_Lords'
Journals_, Vol. I. p. 71. Omnes proceres tam spirituales quam temporales
unâ voce dicebant, quod non consentaneum fuit aliquem procerum
prædictorum alicui in eo loco responsurum.] The demand for explanation
was treated as a breach of privilege, and the bishop was allowed to
remain silent. But the time was passed for conduct of this kind to be
allowed to triumph. If the bishop could not or would not justify
himself, his victim might at least be released from unjust imprisonment.
The case was referred to the king and by the king and the House of
Commons Philips was set at liberty.

[97] Petition of John Field: _Rolls House MS._

[98] Jan 1529-30.

[99] Illegal. See 2 Hen. V. Stat. 2.

[100] Seventh Sermon before King Edward. First Sermon before the Duchess
of Suffolk.

[101] Foxe, Vol. IV. p. 649.

[102] Articles against James Bainham: Foxe, Vol. IV. p. 703.

[103] Foxe, Vol. IV. p. 702.

[104] Foxe, Vol. IV. p. 705.

[105] Foxe, Vol. IV. p. 694.

[106] Hall, p. 806; and see Foxe, Vol. IV. p. 705.

[107] Instructions given by the Bishop of Salisbury: Burnet's
_Collectanea_, p. 493.

[108] From a Letter of Robert Gardiner: Foxe, Vol. IV. p. 706.

[109] Latimer's _Sermons_, p. 101.

[110] Latimer speaks of sons and daughters.--_Sermons_, p. 101.

[111] Ibid.

[112] Where the Cornish rebels came to an end in 1497.--Bacon's _History
of Henry the Seventh_.

[113] Latimer's _Sermons_, p. 197.

[114] On which occasion, old relations perhaps shook their heads, and
made objection to the expense. Some such feeling is indicated in the
following glimpse behind the veil of Latimer's private history:--

"I was once called to one of my kinsfolk," he says ("it was at that time
when I had taken my degree at Cambridge); I was called, I say, to one of
my kinsfolk which was very sick, and died immediately after my coming.
Now, there was an old cousin of mine, which, after the man was dead,
gave me a wax candle in my hand, and commanded me to make certain
crosses over him that was dead; for she thought the devil should run
away by and bye. Now, I took the candle, but I could not cross him as
she would have me to do; for I had never seen it before. She, perceiving
I could not do it, with great anger took the candle out of my hand,
saying, 'It is pity that thy father spendeth so much money upon thee;'
and so she took the candle, and crossed and blessed him; so that he was
sure enough."--Latimer's _Sermons_, p. 499.

[115] "I was as obstinate a papist as any was in England, insomuch that,
when I should be made Bachelor of Divinity, my whole oration went
against Philip Melancthon and his opinions."--Latimer's _Sermons_, p.

[116] _Jewel of Joy_, p. 224, et seq.: Parker Society's edition.
Latimer's _Sermons_, p. 3.

[117] Latimer's _Remains_, pp. 27-31.

[118] Latimer's _Remains_, pp. 308-9.

[119] Latimer to Sir Edward Baynton: _Letters_, p. 329.

[120] _Letters_, p. 323.

[121] He thought of going abroad. "I have trust that God will help me,"
he wrote to a friend; "if I had not, I think the ocean sea should have
divided my Lord of London and me by this day."--_Remains_, p. 334.

[122] Latimer to Sir Edward Baynton.

[123] See Latimer's two letters to Sir Edward Baynton: _Remains_, pp.

[124] "As ye say, the matter is weighty, and ought substantially to be
looked upon, even as weighty as my life is worth; but how to look
substantially upon it otherwise know not I, than to pray my Lord God,
day and night, that, as he hath emboldened me to preach his truth, so he
will strengthen me to suffer for it.

"I pray you pardon me that I write no more distinctly, for my head is
(so) out of frame, that it would be too painful for me to write it
again. If I be not prevented shortly, I intend to make merry with my
parishioners, this Christmas, for all the sorrow, _lest perchance I
never return to them again_; and I have heard say that a doe is as good
in winter as a buck in summer."--Latimer to Sir Edward Baynton, p. 334.

[125] Latimer's _Remains_, p. 334.

[126] Ibid. p. 350.

[127] "I pray you, in God's name, what did you, so great fathers, so
many, so long season, so oft assembled together? What went you about?
What would ye have brought to pass? Two things taken away--the one that
ye (which I heard) burned a dead man,--the other, that ye (which I felt)
went about to burn one being alive. Take away these two noble acts, and
there is nothing else left that ye went about that I know," &c.
&c.--Sermon preached before the Convocation: Latimer's _Sermons_, p. 46.

[128] "My affair had some bounds assigned to it by him who sent for me
up, but is now protracted by intricate and wily examinations, as if it
would never find a period; while sometimes one person, sometimes
another, ask me questions, without limit and without end."--Latimer to
the Archbishop of Canterbury: _Remains_, p. 352.

[129] _Remains_, p. 222.

[130] _Sermons_, p. 294.

[131] The process lasted through January, February, and March.

[132] _Sermons_, p. 294.

[133] He subscribed all except two--one apparently on the power of the
pope, the other I am unable to conjecture. Compare the Articles
themselves--printed in Latimer's _Remains_, p. 466--with the Sermon
before the Convocation.--_Sermons_, p. 46; and Burnet, Vol. III. p. 116.

[134] Nicholas Glossop to Cromwell: Ellis, third series, Vol. II. p.

[135] Where he was known among the English of the day as Master

[136] See Foxe, Vol. V. p. 392.

[137] Eustace Chappuys to Chancellor Granvelle: _MS. Archiv. Brussels:
Pilgrim_, p. 106.

[138] See Cromwell's will in an appendix to this chapter. This document,
lately found in the Rolls House, furnishes a clue at last to the
connexions of the Cromwell family.

[139] Are we to believe Foxe's story that Cromwell was with the Duke of
Bourbon at the storming of Rome in May, 1527? See Foxe, Vol. V. p. 365.
He was with Wolsey in January, 1527. See Ellis, third series, Vol. II.
p. 117. And he was again with him early in 1528. Is it likely that he
was in Italy on such an occasion in the interval? Foxe speaks of it as
one of the random exploits of Cromwell's youth, which is obviously
untrue; and the natural impression which we gather is, that he was
confusing the expedition of the Duke of Bourbon with some earlier
campaign. On the other hand Foxe's authority was Cranmer, who was likely
to know the truth: and it is not impossible that, in the critical state
of Italian politics, the English government might have desired to have
some confidential agent in the Duke of Bourbon's camp. Cromwell, with
his knowledge of Italy and Italian, and his adventurous ability, was a
likely man to have been sent on such an employment; and the story gains
additional probability from another legend about him, that he once saved
the life of Sir John Russell, in some secret affair at Bologna. See
Foxe, Vol. V. p. 367. Now, although Sir John Russell had been in Italy
several times before (he was at the Battle of Pavia, and had been
employed in various diplomatic missions), and Cromwell might thus have
rendered him the service in question on an earlier occasion, yet he
certainly was in the Papal States, on a most secret and dangerous
mission, in the months preceding the capture of Rome. _State Papers_,
Vol. VI. p. 560, &c. The probabilities may pass for what they are worth
till further discovery.

[140] A damp, unfurnished house belonging to Wolsey, where he was
ordered to remain till the government had determined upon their course
towards him. See Cavendish.

[141] Cavendish, pp. 269, 270.

[142] Cavendish, p. 276.

[143] Chappuys says, that a quarrel with Sir John Wallop first
introduced Cromwell to Henry. Cromwell, "not knowing how else to defend
himself, contrived with presents and entreaties to obtain an audience of
the king, whom he promised to make the richest sovereign that ever
reigned in England."--Chappuys to Granvelle: _The Pilgrim_, p. 107.



In the name of God, Amen. The 12th day of July, in the year of our Lord
God MCCCCCXXIX., and in the 21st year of the reign of our Sovereign
Lord, King Henry VIII., I, Thomas Cromwell, of London, Gentleman, being
whole in body and in good and perfect memory, lauded be the Holy
Trinity, make, ordain, and declare this my present testament, containing
my last will, in manner as following:--First I bequeath my soul to the
great God of heaven, my Maker, Creator, and Redeemer, beseeching the
most glorious Virgin and blessed Lady Saint Mary the Virgin and Mother,
with all the holy company of heaven to be mediators and intercessors for
me to the Holy Trinity, so that I may be able, when it shall please
Almighty God to call me out of this miserable world and transitory life,
to inherit the kingdom of heaven amongst the number of good Christian
people; and whensoever I shall depart this present life I bequeath my
body to be buried where it shall please God to ordain me to die, and to
be ordered after the discretion of mine executors undernamed. And for my
goods which our Lord hath lent me in this world, I will shall be ordered
and disposed in manner and form as hereafter shall ensue. First I give
and bequeath unto my son Gregory Cromwell six hundred threescore six
pounds, thirteen shillings, and fourpence, of lawful money of England,
with the which six hundred threescore six pounds, thirteen shillings,
and fourpence, I will mine executors undernamed immediately or as soon
as they conveniently may after my decease, shall purchase lands,
tenements, and hereditaments to the clear yearly value of 33_l._ 6_s._
8_d._ by the year above all charges and reprises to the use of my said
son Gregory, for term of his life; and after the decease of the said
Gregory to the heirs male of his body lawfully to be begotten, and for
lack of heirs male of the body of the said Gregory, lawfully begotten,
to the heirs general of his body lawfully begotten. And for lack of such
heirs to the right heirs of me the said Thomas Cromwell, in fee. I will
also that immediately and as soon as the said lands, tenements, and
hereditaments shall be so purchased after my death as is aforesaid by
mine executors, that the yearly profits thereof shall be wholly spent
and employed in and about the education and finding honestly of my said
son Gregory, in virtue, good learning, and manners, until such time as
he shall come to the full age of 24 years. During which time I heartily
desire and require my said executors to be good unto my said son
Gregory, and to see he do lose no time, but to see him virtuously
ordered and brought up according to my trust.

Item. I give and bequeath to my said son Gregory, (when he shall come to
his full age of 24 years,) two hundred pounds of lawful English money to
order them as our Lord shall give him grace and discretion, which
200_l._ I will shall be put in surety to the intent the same may come to
his hands at his said age of 24 years. Item. I give and bequeath to my
said son Gregory of such household stuff as God hath lent me, three of
my best featherbeds with their bolsters; 2_d._, the best pair of
blankets of fustian, my best coverlet of tapestry, and my quilt of
yellow Turkey satin; one pair of my best sheets, four pillows of down,
with four pair of the best pillowberes, four of my best table-cloths,
four of my best towels, two dozen of my finest napkins, and two dozen of
my other napkins, two garnish of my best vessel, three of my best brass
pots, three of my best brass pans, two of my best kettles, two of my
best spits, my best joined bed of Flanders work, with the best ---- and
tester, and other the appurtenances thereto belonging; my best press,
carven of Flanders work, and my best cupboard, carven of Flanders work,
with also six joined stools of Flanders work, and six of my best
cushions. Item. I give and bequeath to my said son Gregory a basin with
an ewer parcel-gilt, my best salt gilt, my best cup gilt, three of my
best goblets; three other of my goblets parcel-gilt, twelve of my best
silver spoons, three of my best drinking alepots gilt; all the which
parcels of plate and household stuff I will shall be safely kept to the
use of my said son Gregory till he shall come to his said full age of
24. And all the which plate, household stuff, napery, and all other the
premises, I will mine executors do put in safe keeping until my said son
come to the said years or age of 24. And if he die before the age of 24,
then I will all the said plate, vessel, and household stuff shall be
sold by mine executors. And the money thereof coming to be given and
equally divided amongst my poor kinsfolk, that is to say, amongst the
children as well of mine own sisters Elizabeth and Katherine, as of my
late wife's sister Joan, wife to John Williamson;[144] and if it happen
that all the children of my said sisters and sister-in-law do die before
the partition be made, and none of them be living, then I will that all
the said plate, vessel, and household stuff shall be sold and given to
other my poor kinsfolk then being in life, and other poor and indigent
people, in deeds of charity for my soul, my father and mother their
souls, and all Christian souls.

[[145]Item. I give and bequeath to my daughter Anne an hundred marks of
lawful money of England when she shall come to her lawful age or happen
to be married, and 40_l._ toward her finding until the time that she
shall be of lawful age or be married, which 40_l._ I will shall be
delivered to my friend John Cook, one of the six Clerks of the King's
Chancery, to the intent he may order the same and cause the same to be
employed in the best wise he can devise about the virtuous education and
bringing up of my said daughter till she shall come to her lawful age or
marriage. Then I will that the said 100 marks, and so much of the said
40_l._ as then shall be unspent and unemployed at the day of the death
of my said daughter Anne, I will it shall remain to Gregory my son, if
he then be in life; and if he be dead, the same hundred marks, and also
so much of the said 40_l._ as then shall be unspent, to be departed
amongst my sisters' children, in manner and form aforesaid. And if it
happen my said sisters' children then to be all dead, then I will the
said 100 marks and so much of the said 40_l._ as shall be unspent, shall
be divided amongst my kinsfolk, such as then shall be in life.] Item. I
give and bequeath unto my sister Elizabeth Wellyfed 40_l._, three
goblets without a cover, a mazer, and a nut. Item. I give and bequeath
to my nephew Richard Willyams [[146] servant with my Lord Marquess
Dorset, 66_l._ 13_s._ 4_d._], 40_l._ sterling, my [[146] fourth] best
gown, doublet, and jacket. Item. I give and bequeath to my nephew
Christopher Wellyfed 40_l._, [[146] 20_l._] my fifth gown, doublet, and
jacket. Item. I give and bequeath to my nephew William Wellyfed the
younger 20_l._, [[146] 40_l._] Item. I give and bequeath to my niece Alice
Wellyfed, to her marriage, 20_l._ And if it happen, her to die before
marriage, then I will that the said 20_l._ shall remain to her brother
Christopher. And if it happen him to die, the same 20_l._ to remain to
Wm. Wellyfed the younger, his brother. And if it happen them all to die
before their lawful age or marriage, then I will that all their parts
shall remain to Gregory my son. And if it happen him to die before them,
then I will all the said parts shall remain [[146] to Anne and Grace, my
daughters] to Richard Willyams and Walter Willyams, my nephews. And if
it happen them to die, then I will that all the said parts shall be
distributed in deeds of charity for my soul, my father's and mother's
souls, and all Christian souls. Item. I give and bequeath to my
mother-in-law Mercy Prior 40_l._ of lawful English money, and her
chamber, with certain household stuff; that is to say, a featherbed, a
bolster, two pillows with their beres, six pair of sheets, a pair of
blankets, a garnish of vessel, two pots, two pans, two spits, with such
other of my household stuff as shall be thought meet for her by the
discretion of mine executors, and such as she will reasonably desire,
not being bequeathed to other uses in this my present testament and last
will. Item. I give and bequeath to my said mother-in-law a little salt
of silver, a mazer, six silver spoons, and a drinking-pot of silver. And
also I charge mine executors to be good unto her during her life. Item.
I give and bequeath to my brother-in-law William Wellyfed, 20_l._, my
third gown, jacket, and doublet. Item. I give and bequeath to John
Willyams my brother-in-law, 100 marks, a gown, a doublet, a jacket, a
featherbed, a bolster, six pair of sheets, two table-cloths, two dozen
napkins, two towels, two brass pots, two brass pans, a silver pot, a nut
parcel-gilt; and to Joan, his wife, 40_l._ Item. I give and bequeath to
Joan Willyams, their daughter, to her marriage, 20_l._, and to every
other of their children 12_l._ 13_s._ 4_d._ Item. I bequeath to Walter
Willyams, my nephew, 20_l._ Item. I give and bequeath to Ralph Sadler,
my servant, 200 marks of lawful English money, my second gown, jacket,
and doublet, and all my books. Item. I give and bequeath to Hugh
Whalley, my servant, 6_l._ 13_s._ 4_d._ Item. I give and bequeath to
Stephen Vaughan, sometime my servant, 100 marks, a gown, jacket, and
doublet. Item. I give and bequeath to Page, my servant, otherwise called
John De Pount, 6_l._ 13_s._ 4_d._ [[146] Item. I give and bequeath to
Elizabeth Gregory, sometime my servant, 20_l._, six pair of sheets, a
featherbed, a pair of blankets, a coverlet, two table-cloths, one dozen
napkins, two brass pots, two pans, two spits.] And also to Thomas
Averey, my servant, 6_l._ 13_s._ 4_d._ [[146] Item. I give and bequeath to
John Cooke, one of the six Master Clerks of the Chancery, 10_l._, my
second gown, doublet, and jacket. Item. I give and bequeath to Roger
More, servant of the King's bakehouse, 6_l._ 13_s._ 4_d._, three yards
of satin; and to Maudelyn, his wife, 3_l._ 6_s._ 8_d._] Item. I give and
bequeath to John Horwood, 6_l._ 13_s._ 4_d._ [[146] Item. I give and
bequeath to my little daughter Grace 100 marks of lawful English money
when she shall come to her lawful age or marriage; and also 40_l._
towards her exhibition and finding until such time she shall be of
lawful age or be married, which 40_l._ I will shall be delivered to my
brother-in-law, John Willyams, to the intent he may order and cause the
same to be employed in and about the virtuous education and bringing up
of my said daughter, till she shall come to her lawful age or marriage.
And if it happen my said daughter to die before she come to her lawful
age or marriage, then I will that the said 100 marks, and so much of the
said 40_l._ as shall then be unspent and unemployed about the finding of
my said daughter at the day of the death of my said daughter shall
remain and be delivered to Gregory my son, if he then shall happen to be
in life; and if he be dead, then the said 100 marks, and the said
residue of the said 40_l._, to be evenly departed among my grown
kinsfolk--that is to say, my sisters' children aforesaid.] Item. That
the rest of mine apparel before not given or bequeathed in this my
testament and last will shall be given and equally departed amongst my
servants after the order and discretion of mine executors. Item. I will
also that mine executors shall take the yearly profits above the charges
of my farm of Carberry, and all other things contained in my said lease
of Carberry, in the county of Middlesex, and with the profits thereof
shall yearly pay unto my brother-in-law William (Wellyfed) and Elizabeth
his wife, mine only sister, twenty pounds; give and distribute for my
soul quarterly 40 shillings during their lives and the longer of them;
and after the decease of the said William and Elizabeth, the profits of
the said farm over and above the yearly rent to be kept to the use of my
son Gregory till he be come to the age of 24 years. And at the years of
24 the said lease and farm of Carberry, I do give and bequeath to my son
Gregory, to have the same to him, his executors and assigns. And if it
fortune the said Gregory my son to die before, my said brother-in-law
and sister being dead, he shall come to the age of 24 years, then I will
my said cousin Richard Willyams shall have the farm with the
appurtenances to him and to his executors and assigns; and if it happen
my said brother-in-law, my sister, my son Gregory, and my said cousin
Richard, to die before the accomplishment of this my will touching the
said farm, then I will mine executors shall sell the said farm, and the
money thereof coming to employ in deeds of charity, to pray for my soul
and all Christian souls. Item. I will mine executors shall conduct and
hire a priest, being an honest person of continent and good living, to
sing for my soul by the space of seven years next after my death, and to
give him for the same 6_l._ 13_s._ 4_d._ for his stipend. Item. I give
and bequeath towards the making of highways in this realm, where it
shall be thought most necessary, 20_l._ to be disposed by the discretion
of mine executors. Item. I give and bequeath to every the five orders of
Friars within the City of London, to pray for my soul, 20 shillings.
Item. I give and bequeath to 60 poor maidens in marriage, 40_l._, that
is to say, 13_s._ 4_d._ to every of the said poor maidens, to be given
and distributed by the discretion of mine executors. Item. I will that
there shall be dealt and given after my decease amongst poor people
householders, to pray for my soul, 20_l._, such as by mine executors
shall be thought most needful. Item. I give and bequeath to the poor
parishioners of the parish where God shall ordain me to have my
dwellingplace at the time of my death, 10_l._, to be truly distributed
amongst them by the discretion of mine executors. Item. I give and
bequeath to my parish church for my tithes forgotten, 20 shillings.
Item. To the poor prisoners of Newgate, Ludgate, King's Bench, and
Marshalsea, to be equally distributed amongst them, 10_l._ Willing,
charging, and desiring mine executors underwritten, that they shall see
this my will performed in every point according to my true meaning and
intent as they will answer to God, and discharge their consciences. The
residue of all my goods, chattels, and debts not bequeathed, my funeral
and burial performed, which I will shall be done without any earthly
pomp, and my debts paid, I will shall be sold, and the money thereof
coming, to be distributed in works of charity and pity, after the good
discretion of mine executors undernamed. Whom I make and ordain, Stephen
Vaughan, Ralph Sadler, my servants, and John Willyams my brother-in-law.
Praying and desiring the same mine executors to be good unto my son
Gregory, and to all other my poor friends and kinsfolk and servants
aforenamed in this my testament. And of this my present testament and
last will I make Roger More mine overseer; unto whom and also to every
of the other mine executors I give and bequeath 6_l._ 13_s._ 4_d._ for
their pains to be taken in the execution of this my last will and
testament, over and above such legacies as herebefore I have bequeathed
them in this same testament and will. In witness whereof, to this my
present testament and last will I have set to my hand in every leaf
contained in this book, the day and year before limited.


Item. I give and bequeath to William Brabazon, my servant, 20_l._ 8_s._,
a gun, a doublet, a jacket, and my second gelding.

It. to John Avery, Yeoman of the Bedchamber with the King's Highness,
6_l._ 13_s._ 4_d._, and a doublet of satin.

It. to Thurston, my cook, 6_l._ 13_s._ 4_d._

It. to William Body, my servant, 6_l._ 13_s._ 4_d._

It. to Peter Mewtas, my servant, 6_l._ 13_s._ 4_d._

It. to Ric. Sleysh, my servant, 6_l._ 13_s._ 4_d._

It. to George Wilkinson, my servant, 6_l._ 13_s._ 4_d._

It. to my friend, Thomas Alvard, 10_l._, and my best gelding.

It. to my friend, Thomas Bush, 10_l._

It. to my servant, John Hynde, my horsekeeper, 3_l._ 6_s._ 8_d._

Item. I will that mine executors shall safely keep the patent of the
manor of Romney to the use of my son Gregory, and the money growing
thereof, till he shall come to his lawful age, to be yearly received to
the use of my said son, and the whole revenue thereof coming to be truly
paid unto him at such time as he shall come to the age of 24 years.


[144] Or Willyams. The words are used indifferently.

[145] The clause enclosed between brackets is struck through.

[146] Struck through.



I have now to resume the thread of the political history where it was
dropped at the sentence of divorce pronounced by Cranmer, and the
coronation of the new queen. The effect was about to be ascertained of
these bold measures upon Europe; and of what their effect would be, only
so much could be foretold with certainty, that the time for trifling was
past, and the pope and Francis of France would be compelled to declare
their true intentions. If these intentions were honest, the
subordination of England to the papacy might be still preserved in a
modified form. The papal jurisdiction was at end, but the spiritual
supremacy of the Bishop of Rome, with a diminished but considerable
revenue attached to it, remained unaffected; and it was for the pope to
determine whether, by fulfilling at last his original engagements, he
would preserve these remnants of his power and privileges, or boldly
take up the gage, excommunicate his disobedient subjects, and attempt by
force to bring them back to their allegiance.

[Sidenote: April 22.]

[Sidenote: The king's marriage compels Clement to declare himself.]

The news of what had been done did not take him wholly by surprise. It
was known at Brussels at the end of April that the king had married. The
queen regent[147] spoke of it to the ambassador sternly and
significantly, not concealing her expectation of the mortal resentment
which would be felt by her brothers;[148] and the information was
forwarded with the least possible delay to the cardinals of the imperial
faction at Rome. The true purposes which underlay the contradiction of
Clement's language are undiscoverable. Perhaps in the past winter he had
been acting out a deep intrigue--perhaps he was drifting between rival
currents, and yielded in any or all directions as the alternate pressure
varied; yet whatever had been the meaning of his language, whether it
was a scheme to deceive Henry, or was the expression only of weakness
and good-nature desiring to avoid a quarrel to the latest moment, the
decisive step which had been taken in the marriage, even though it was
nominally undivulged, obliged him to choose his course and openly
adhere to it. After the experience of the past, there could be no doubt
what that course would be.

[Sidenote: May 12. The king is cited to appear at Rome.]

[Sidenote: The censures of the church suspended only till the emperor
can execute them.]

[Sidenote: The pope's resolution and the explanation of it.]

On the 12th of May a citation was issued against the King of England,
summoning him to appear by person or proxy at a stated day. It had been
understood that no step of such a kind was to be taken before the
meeting of the pope and Francis; Bennet, therefore, Henry's faithful
secretary, hastily inquired the meaning of this measure. The pope told
him that it could not be avoided, and the language which he used
revealed to the English agent the inevitable future. The king, he said,
had defied the inhibitory brief which had been lately issued, and had
incurred excommunication; the imperialists insisted that he should be
proceeded against for contempt, and that the excommunication should at
once be pronounced. However great might be his own personal reluctance,
it was not possible for him to remain passive; and if he declined to
resort at once to the more extreme exercise of his power, the hesitation
was merely until the emperor was prepared to enforce the censures of the
church with the strong hand. It stood not "with his honour to execute
such censures," he said, "and the same not to be regarded."[149] But
there was no wish to spare Henry; and if Francis could be detached from
his ally, and if the condition of the rest of Christendom became such as
to favour the enterprise, England might evidently look for the worst
which the pope, with the Catholic powers, could execute. If the papal
court was roused into so menacing a mood by the mere intimation of the
secret marriage, it was easy to foresee what would ensue when the news
arrived of the proceedings at Dunstable. Bennet entreated that the
process should be delayed till the interview; but the pope answered
coldly that he had done his best and could do no more; the imperialists
were urgent, and he saw no reason to refuse their petition.[150] This
was Clement's usual language, but there was something peculiar in his
manner. He had been often violent, but he had never shown resolution,
and the English agents were perplexed. The mystery was soon explained.
He had secured himself on the side of France; and Francis, who at Calais
had told Henry that his negotiations with the see of Rome were solely
for the interests of England, that for Henry's sake he was marrying his
son into a family beneath him in rank, that Henry's divorce was to form
the especial subject of his conference with the pope, had consented to
allow these dangerous questions to sink into a secondary place, and had
relinquished his intention, if he had ever seriously entertained it, of
becoming an active party in the English quarrel.

[Sidenote: Delay of the interview between the pope and Francis.]

[Sidenote: The true purposes of that interview.]

The long talked-of interview was still delayed. First it was to have
taken place in the winter, then in the spring; June was the date last
fixed for it, and now Bennet had to inform the king that it would not
take place before September; and that, from the terms of a communication
which had just passed between the parties who were to meet, the subjects
discussed at the conference would not be those which he had been led to
expect. Francis, in answer to a question from the pope, had specified
three things which he proposed particularly to "intreat." The first
concerned the defence of Christendom against the Turks, the second
concerned the general council, and the third concerned "the extinction
of the Lutheran sect."[151] These were the points which the Most
Christian king was anxious to discuss with the pope. For the latter good
object especially, "he would devise and treat for the provision of an
army." In the King of England's cause, he trusted "some means might be
found whereby it might be compounded;"[152] but if persuasion failed,
there was no fear lest he should have recourse to any other method.

It was this which had given back to the pope his courage. It was this
which Bennet had now to report to Henry. The French alliance, it was too
likely, would prove a broken reed, and pierce the hand that leant upon

[Sidenote: Probable isolation of England.]

[Sidenote: Policy of Francis.]

Henry knew the danger; but danger was not a very terrible thing either
to him or to his people. If he had conquered his own reluctance to risk
a schism in the church, he was not likely to yield to the fear of
isolation; and if there was something to alarm in the aspect of affairs,
there was also much to encourage. His parliament was united and
resolute. His queen was pregnant. The Nun of Kent had assigned him but a
month to live after his marriage; six months had passed, and he was
alive and well; the supernatural powers had not declared against him;
and while safe with respect to enmity from above, the earthly powers he
could afford to defy. When he finally divorced Queen Catherine, he must
have foreseen his present position at least as a possibility, and if
not prepared for so swift an apostasy in Francis, and if not yet wholly
believing it, we may satisfy ourselves he had never absolutely trusted a
prince of metal so questionable.

The Duke of Norfolk was waiting at the French court, with a magnificent
embassy, to represent the English king at the interview. The arrival of
the pope had been expected in May. It was now delayed till September;
and if Clement came after all, it would be for objects in which England
had but small concern. It was better for England that there should be no
meeting at all, than a meeting to devise schemes for the massacre of
Lutherans. Henry therefore wrote to the Duke, telling him generally what
he had heard from Rome; he mentioned the three topics which he
understood were to form the matter of discussion; but he skilfully
affected to regard them as having originated with the imperialists, and
not with the French king. In a long paper of instructions, in which
earnestness and irony were strangely blended, he directed the ambassador
to treat his good brother as if he were still exclusively devoted to the
interests of England; and to urge upon him, on the ground of this fresh
delay, that the interview should not take place at all.[153]

[Sidenote: The king's instructions to the Duke of Norfolk to "disappoint
the interview."]

[Sidenote: The "Three Articles" proposed for discussion will be wholly
to the advantage of the Imperialists]

"Our pleasure is," he wrote, "that ye shall say ------ that we be not a
little moved in our heart to see our good brother and us, being such
princes or Christendom, to be so handled with the pope, so much to our
dishonour, and to the pope's and the emperor's advancement; seeming to
be at the pope's commandment to come or tarry as he or his cardinals
shall appoint; and to depend upon his pleasure when to meet--that is to
say, when he list or never. If our good brother and we were either
suitors to make request, the obtaining whereof we did much set by, or
had any particular matter of advantage to entreat with him, these
proceedings might be the better tolerated; but our good brother having
no particular matter of his own, and being ... that [no] more glory nor
surety could happen to the emperour than to obtain the effect of the
three articles moved by the pope and his cardinals, we think it not
convenient to attend the pleasure of the pope, to go or to abyde. We
could have been content to have received and taken at the pope's hand,
jointly with our good brother, pleasure and friendship in our great
cause; [but] on the other part, we cannot esteem the pope's part so
high, as to have our good brother an attendant suitor therefore ...
desiring him, therefore, in anywise to disappoint for his part the said
interview; and if he have already granted thereto--upon some new good
occasion, which he now undoubtedly hath--to depart from the same.

[Sidenote: He has found by experience that the friendship of the pope is
not vital to England.]

[Sidenote: King Henry knows the pope and himself also.]

"For we, ye may say, having the justness of our cause for us, with such
an entire and whole consent of our nobility and commons of our realm and
subjects, and being all matters passed, and in such terms as they now
be, do not find such lack and want of that the pope might do, with us or
against us, as we would for the obtaining thereof be contented to have a
French king our so perfect a friend, to be not only a mediator but a
suitor therein, and a suitor attendant to have audience upon liking and
after the advice of such cardinals as repute it among pastymes to play
and dally with kings and princes; whose honour, ye may say, is above
all things, and more dear to us in the person of our good brother, than
is any piece of our cause at the pope's hands. And therefore, if there
be none other thing but our cause, and the other causes whereof we be
advertised, our advice, counsel, special desire also and request is,
[that our good brother shall] break off the interview, unless the pope
will make suit to him; and [unless] our said good brother hath such
causes of his own as may particularly tend to his own benefit, honour
and profit--wherein he shall do great and singular pleasure unto us;
_giving to understand to the pope, that we know ourselves and him both
and look to be esteemed accordingly_."

Should it appear that on receipt of this communication, Francis was
still resolved to persevere, and that he had other objects in view to
which Henry had not been made privy, the ambassadors were then to remind
him of the remaining obligations into which he had entered; and to
ascertain to what degree his assistance might be calculated upon, should
the pope pronounce Henry deposed, and the emperor attempt to enforce the

[Sidenote: Intended appeal to a general council.]

[Sidenote: The advantages of this measure.]

[Sidenote: June 29.]

After forwarding these instructions, the king's next step was to
anticipate the pope by an appeal which would neutralize his judgment
should he venture upon it; and which offered a fresh opportunity of
restoring the peace of Christendom, if there was true anxiety to
preserve that peace. The hinge of the great question, in the form which
at last it assumed, was the validity or invalidity of the dispensation
by which Henry had married his brother's widow. Being a matter which
touched the limit of the pope's power, the pope was himself unable to
determine it in his own favour; and the only authority by which the law
could be ruled, was a general council. In the preceding winter, the pope
had volunteered to submit the question to this tribunal; but Henry
believing that it was on the point of immediate solution in another way,
had then declined, on the ground that it would cause a needless delay.
He was already married, and he had hoped that sentence might be given in
his favour in time to anticipate the publication of the ceremony. But he
was perfectly satisfied that justice was on his side; and was equally
confident of obtaining the verdict of Europe, if it could be fairly
pronounced. Now, therefore, under the altered circumstances, he accepted
the offered alternative. He anticipated with tolerable certainty the
effect which would be produced at Rome, when the news should arrive
there of the Dunstable divorce; and on the 29th of June he appealed
formally, in the presence of the Archbishop of York, from the pope's
impending sentence, to the next general council.[154]

[Sidenote: Terms of the appeal. The king has no intention of derogating
from the lawful privileges of the See of Rome.]

Of this curious document the substance was as follows:--It commenced
with a declaration that the king had no intention of acting otherwise
than became a good Catholic prince; or of injuring the church or
attacking the privileges conceded by God to the Holy See. If his words
could be lawfully shown to have such a tendency, he would revoke, emend,
and correct them in a Catholic spirit.

[Sidenote: But Europe having declared in his favour in his great matter,
"by the inspiration of the Most High," he has married another wife.]

[Sidenote: He fears that the pope, who has injured him throughout, may
now pass the censures of the church against him.]

The general features of the case were then recapitulated. His marriage
with his brother's wife had been pronounced illegal by the principal
universities of Europe, by the clergy of the two provinces of the Church
of England, by the most learned theologians and canonists, and finally,
by the public judgment of the church.[155] He therefore had felt himself
free; and, "by the inspiration of the Most High, had lawfully married
another woman." Furthermore, "for the common weal and tranquillity of
the realm of England, and for the wholesome rule and government of the
same, he had caused to be enacted certain statutes and ordinances, by
authority of parliaments lawfully called for that purpose." "Now,
however," he continued, "we fearing that his Holyness the Pope ...
having in our said cause treated us far otherwise than either respect
for our dignity and desert, or the duty of his own office required at
his hands, and having done us many injuries which we now of design do
suppress, but which hereafter we shall be ready, should circumstances so
require, to divulge ... may now proceed to acts of further injustice,
and heaping wrong on wrong, may pronounce the censures and other
penalties of the spiritual sword against ourselves, our realm, and
subjects, seeking thereby to deprive us of the use of the sacraments,
and to cut us off, in the sight of the world, from the unity of the
church, to the no slight hurt and injury of our realm and subjects:

[Sidenote: He appeals from any such censures to the next general

"Fearing these things, and desiring to preserve from detriment not only
ourselves, our own dignity and estimation, but also our subjects,
committed to us by Almighty God; to keep them in the unity of the
Christian faith, and in the wonted participation in the sacraments;
that, when in truth they be not cut off from the integrity of the
church, nor can nor will be so cut off in any manner, they may not
appear to be so cut off in the estimation of men; [desiring further] to
check and hold back our people whom God has given to us, lest, in the
event of such injury, they refuse utterly to obey any longer the Roman
Pontiff, as a hard and cruel pastor: [for these causes] and believing,
from reasons probable, conjectures likely, and words used to our injury
by his Holiness the Pope, which in divers manners have been brought to
our ears, that some weighty act may be committed by him or others to the
prejudice of ourselves and of our realm;--We, therefore, in behalf of
all and every of our subjects, and of all persons adhering to us in this
our cause, do make our appeal to the next general council, which shall
be lawfully held, in place convenient, with the consent of the Christian
princes, and of such others as it may concern--not in contempt of the
Holy See, but for defence of the truth of the Gospel, and for the other
causes afore rehearsed. And we do trust in God that it shall not be
interpreted as a thing ill done on our part, if preferring the salvation
of our soul and the relief of our conscience to any mundane respects or
favours, we have in this cause regarded more the Divine law than the
laws of man, and have thought it rather meet to obey God than to obey

By the appeal and the causes which were assigned for it, Henry
preoccupied the ground of the conflict; he entrenched himself in the
"debatable land" of legal uncertainty; and until his position had been
pronounced untenable by the general voice of Christendom, any sentence
which the pope could issue would have but a doubtful validity. It was,
perhaps, but a slight advantage; and the niceties of technical fencing
might soon resolve themselves into a question of mere strength; yet, in
the opening of great conflicts, it is well, even when a resort to force
is inevitable, to throw on the opposing party the responsibility of
violence; and Henry had been led, either by a refinement of policy, or
by the plain straightforwardness of his intentions, into a situation
where he could expect without alarm the unrolling of the future.

[Sidenote: The news of the divorce pronounced at Dunstable arrives at

[Sidenote: General indignation in the consistory.]

[Sidenote: Bonner is impertinent. The pope threatens to boil him in
lead. He writes in terror to England.]

[Sidenote: Henry comforts him.]

The character of that future was likely soon to be decided. The appeal
was published on the 29th of June; and as the pope must have heard, by
the middle of the month at latest, of the trial and judgment at
Dunstable, a few days would bring an account of the manner in which he
had received the intelligence. Prior to the arrival of the couriers,
Bennet, with the assistance of Cardinal Tournon, had somewhat soothed
down his exasperation. Francis, also, having heard that immediate
process was threatened, had written earnestly to deprecate such a
measure;[157] and though he took the interference "very
displeasantly,"[158] the pope could not afford to lose, by premature
impatience, the fruit of all his labour and diplomacy, and had yielded
so far as to promise that nothing of moment should be done. To this
state of mind he had been brought one day in the second week of June.
The morning after, Bennet found him "sore altered." The news of "my Lord
of Canterbury's proceedings" had arrived the preceding night; and "his
Holiness said that [such] doings were too sore for him to stand still at
and do nothing."[159] It was "against his duty towards God and the world
to tolerate them." The imperialist cardinals, impatient before,
clamoured that the evil had been caused by the dilatory timidity with
which the case had been handled from the first.[160] The consistory sate
day after day with closed doors;[161] and even such members of it had
before inclined to the English side, joined in the common indignation.
"Some extreme process" was instantly looked for, and the English agents,
in their daily interviews with the pope, were forced to listen to
language which it was hard to bear with equanimity. Bennet's well-bred
courtesy carried him successfully through the difficulty; his companion
Bonner was not so fortunate. Bonner's tongue was insolent, and under bad
control. He replied to menace by impertinence; and on one occasion was
so exasperating, that Clement threatened to burn him alive, or boil him
in a caldron of lead.[162] When fairly roused, the old man was
dangerous; and the future Bishop of London wrote to England in
extremity of alarm. His letter has not been found, but the character of
it may be perceived from the reassuring reply of the king. The agents,
Henry said, were not to allow themselves to be frightened; they were to
go on calmly, with their accustomed diligence and dexterity, disputing
the ground from point to point, and trust to him. Their cause was good,
and, with God's help, he would be able to defend them from the malice of
their adversaries.[163]

[Sidenote: The consistory cools into prudence.]

[Sidenote: July 12. The pope declares the divorce illegal, and commands
Henry to cancel the process. If he fails to obey, he is declared

Fortunately for Bonner, the pope's passion was of brief duration, and
the experiment whether Henry's arm could reach to the dungeons of the
Vatican remained untried. The more moderate of the cardinals, also,
something assuaged the storm; and angry as they all were, the majority
still saw the necessity of prudence. In the heat of the irritation,
final sentence was to have been pronounced upon the entire cause, backed
by interdict, excommunication, and the full volume of the papal
thunders. At the close of a month's deliberation they resolved to
reserve judgment on the original question, and to confine themselves for
the present to revenging the insult to the pope by "my Lord of
Canterbury." Both the king and the archbishop had disobeyed a formal
inhibition. On the 12th of July, the pope issued a brief, declaring
Cranmer's judgment to have been illegal, the English process to have
been null and void, and the king, by his disobedience, to have incurred,
_ipso facto_, the threatened penalties of excommunication. Of his
clemency he suspended these censures till the close of the following
September, in order that time might be allowed to restore the respective
parties to their old positions: if within that period the parties were
not so restored, the censures would fall.[164] This brief was sent into
Flanders, and fixed in the usual place against the door of a church in

[Sidenote: Henry again urges Francis to decline to meet the pope.]

Henry was prepared for a measure which was no more than natural. He had
been prepared for it as a possibility when he married. Both he and
Francis must have been prepared for it on their meeting at Calais, when
the French king advised him to marry, and promised to support him
through the consequences. His own measures had been arranged beforehand,
and he had secured himself in technical entrenchments by his appeal.
After the issue of the brief, however, he could allow no English embassy
to compliment Clement by its presence on his visit to France. He "knew
the pope," as he said. Long experience had shown him that nothing was to
be gained by yielding in minor points; and the only chance which now
remained of preserving the established order of Christendom, was to
terrify the Vatican court into submission by the firmness of his
attitude. For the present complications, the court of Rome, not he, was
responsible. The pope, with a culpable complacency for the emperor, had
shrunk from discharging a duty which his office imposed upon him; and
the result had been that the duty was discharged by another. Henry
could not blame himself for the consequences of Clement's delinquency.
He rather felt himself wronged in having been driven to so extreme a
measure against his will. He resolved, therefore, to recal the embassy,
and once more, though with no great hope that he would be successful, to
invite Francis to fulfil his promise, and to unite with himself in
expressing his resentment at the pope's conduct.

[Sidenote: August 8.]

His despatch to the Duke of Norfolk on this occasion was the natural
sequel of what he had written a few weeks previously. That letter had
failed wholly of its effect. The interview was resolved upon for quite
other reasons than those which were acknowledged, and therefore was not
to be given up. A promise, however, had been extracted, that it should
be given up, if in the course of the summer the pope "innovated
anything" against the King of England; and Henry now required, formally,
that this engagement should be observed. "A notorious and notable
innovation" had been made, and Francis must either deny his words, or
adhere to them. It would be evident to all the world, if the interview
took place under the present circumstances, that the alliance with
England was no longer of the importance with him which it had been; that
his place in the struggle, when the struggle came, would be found on the
papal side.

[Sidenote: The cause at issue is the independence of princes.]

[Sidenote: He has been required to repeal the Act of Appeals,]

[Sidenote: Which is impossible.]

[Sidenote: He, therefore, and the pope are as far asunder as yea and

[Sidenote: And he trusts that Francis will agree with him as to the
pope's conduct.]

[Sidenote: For himself, he is satisfied that he can retract nothing
which he has justly done,]

The language of Henry throughout this paper was very fine and noble. He
reminded Francis that substantially the cause at issue was the cause of
all princes; the pope claiming a right to summon them to plead in the
courts of Rome, and refusing to admit their exemption as sovereign
rulers. He had been required not only to undo his marriage, and cancel
the sentence of divorce, but, as a condition of reconciliation with the
Holy See, to undo also the Act of Appeals, and to restore the papal
jurisdiction. He desired it to be understood, with emphasis, that these
points were all equally sacred, and the repeal of the act was as little
to be thought of as the annulling the marriage. "The pope," he said,
"did inforce us to excogitate some new thing, whereby we might be healed
and relieved of that continual disease, to care for our cause at Rome,
where such defence was taken from us, as by the laws of God, nature, and
man, is due unto us. Hereupon depended the wealth of our realm; hereupon
consisted the surety of our succession, which by no other means could be
well assured." "And therefore," he went on, "you [the Duke] shall say to
our good brother, that the pope persisting in the ways he hath entered,
ye must needs despair in any meeting between the French king and the
pope, to produce any such effect as to cause us to meet in concord with
the pope; but we shall be even as far asunder as is between yea and nay.
For to the pope's enterprise to revoke or put back anything that is done
here, either in marriage, statute, sentence, or proclamation[165]--of
which four members is knit and conjoined the surety of our matter, nor
any can be removed from the other, lest thereby the whole edifice should
be destroyed--we will and shall, by all ways and means say nay, and
declare our nay in such sort as the world shall hear, and the pope feel
it. Wherein ye may say our firm trust, perfect hope, and assured
confidence is, that our good brother will agree with us: as well for
that it should be partly dishonourable for him to see decay the thing
that was of his own foundation and planting; as also that it should be
too much dishonourable for us--having travelled so far in this matter,
and brought it to this point, that all the storms of the year passed, it
is now come to harvest, trusting to see shortly the fruit of our
marriage, to the wealth, joy, and comfort of all our realm, and our own
singular consolation--that anything should now be done by us to impair
the same, and to put our issue either in peril of bastardy, or otherwise
disturb that [which] is by the whole agreement of our realm established
for their and our commodity, wealth, and benefit. And in this
determination ye know us to be so fixed, and the contrary hereof to be
so infeasible, either at our hands, or by the consent of the realm, that
ye must needs despair of any order to be taken by the French king with
the pope. For if any were by him taken wherein any of these four pieces
should be touched--that is to say, the marriage of the queen our wife,
the revocation of the Bishop of Canterbury's sentence, the statute of
our realm, or our late proclamation, which be as it were one--and as
walls, covering, and foundation make a house, so they knit together,
establish, and make one matter--ye be well assured, and be so
ascertained from us, that in no wise we will relent, but will, as we
have before written, withstand the same. Whereof ye may say that ye have
thought good to advertise him, to the intent he make no farther promise
to the pope therein than may be performed."

[Sidenote: And the pope must be made to understand his folly.]

The ambassadors were the more emphatically to insist on the king's
resolution, lest Francis, in his desire for conciliation, might hold
out hopes to the pope which could not be realized. They were to say,
however, that the King of England still trusted that the interview would
not take place. The see of Rome was asserting a jurisdiction which, if
conceded, would encourage an unlimited usurpation. If princes might be
cited to the papal courts in a cause of matrimony, they might be cited
equally in other causes at the pope's pleasure; and the free kingdoms of
Europe would be converted into dependent provinces of the see of Rome.
It concerned alike the interest and the honour of all sovereigns to
resist encroachments which pointed to such an issue; and, therefore,
Henry said he hoped that his good brother would use the pope as he had
deserved, "doing him to understand his folly, and [that] unless he had
first made amends, he could not find in his heart to have further amity
with him."

[Sidenote: If the meeting is to go on, and the ambassadors cannot induce
Francis to "break" it, they are to return home.]

If notwithstanding, the instructions concluded, "all these persuasions
cannot have place to let the said meeting, and the French king shall say
it is expedient for him to have in his hands the duchess,[166] under
pretence of marriage for his son, which he cannot obtain but by this
means, ye shall say that ye remember ye heard him say once he would
never conclude that marriage but to do us good, which is now infaisible;
and now in the voice of the world shall do us both more hurt in the
diminution of the reputation of our amity than it should do otherwise
profit. Nevertheless, [if] ye cannot let his precise determination, [ye]
can but lament and bewail your own chance to depart home in this sort;
and that yet of the two inconvenients, it is to you more tolerable to
return to us nothing done, than to be present at the interview and to be
compelled to look patiently upon your master's enemy."

After having entered thus their protest against the French king's
conduct, the embassy was to return to England, leaving a parting
intimation of the single condition under which Henry would consent to
treat. If the pope would declare that "the matrimony with the Lady
Catherine was and is nought, he should do somewhat not to be refused;"
except with this preliminary, no offer whatever could be

[Sidenote: The remonstrance fails.]

[Sidenote: The effect upon the world's opinion.]

[Sidenote: Intended Catholic triumvirate--the Pope, the Emperor, and the
King of France.]

This communication, as Henry anticipated, was not more effectual than
the former in respect of its immediate object. At the meeting of Calais
the interests of Francis had united him with England, and in pursuing
the objects of Henry he was then pursuing his own. The pope and the
emperor had dissolved the coalition by concessions on the least
dangerous side. The interests of Francis lay now in the other direction,
and there are few instances in history in which governments have adhered
to obligations against their advantage from a spirit of honour, when the
purposes with which they contracted those obligations have been
otherwise obtained. The English embassy returned as they were ordered;
the French court pursued their way to Marseilles; not quarrelling with
England; intending to abide by the alliance, and to give all proofs of
amity which did not involve inconvenient sacrifices; but producing on
the world at large by their conduct the precise effect which Henry had
foretold. The world at large, looking at acts rather than to words,
regarded the interview as a contrivance to reconcile Francis and the
emperor through the intervention of the pope, as a preliminary for a
packed council, and for a holy war against the Lutherans,[168]--a
combination of ominous augury to Christendom, from the consequences or
which, if Germany was to be the first sufferer, England would be
inevitably the second.

[Sidenote: September 6. Henry, against his will, looks towards Germany.]

[Sidenote: Unfortunate want of union among Protestants.]

[Sidenote: Mission of Stephen Vaughan to the Court of the Elector of

[Sidenote: Which is not welcome.]

[Sidenote: The Elector had no anxiety to compromise himself with the

Meanwhile, as the French alliance threatened to fail, the English
government found themselves driven at last to look for a connexion among
those powers from whom they had hitherto most anxiously disconnected
themselves. At such a time Protestant Germany, not Catholic France, was
England's natural friend. The Reformation was essentially a Teutonic
movement; the Germans, English, the Scotch, the Swedes, the Hollanders,
all were struggling on their various roads towards an end essentially
the same. The same dangers threatened them, the same inspiration moved
them; and in the eyes of the orthodox Catholics they were united in a
black communion of heresy. Unhappily, though this identity was obvious
to their enemies, it was far from obvious to themselves. The odium
theologicum is ever hotter between sections of the same party which are
divided by trifling differences, than between the open representatives
of antagonist principles; and Anglicans and Lutherans, instead of
joining hands across the Channel, endeavoured only to secure each a
recognition of themselves at the expense of the other. The English
plumed themselves on their orthodoxy. They were "not as those
publicans," heretics, despisers of the keys disobedient to authority;
they desired only the independence of their national church, and they
proved their zeal for the established faith with all the warmth of
persecution. To the Germans national freedom was of wholly minor moment,
in comparison with the freedom of the soul; the orthodoxy of England was
as distasteful to the disciples of Luther as the orthodoxy of Rome--and
the interests of Europe were sacrificed on both sides to this foolish
and fatal disunion. Circumstances indeed would not permit the division
to remain in its first intensity, and their common danger compelled the
two nations into a partial understanding. Yet the reconciliation,
imperfect to the last, was at the outset all but impossible. Their
relations were already embittered by many reciprocal acts of hostility.
Henry VIII. had won his spurs as a theologian by an attack on Luther.
Luther had replied by a hailstorm of invectives. The Lutheran books had
been proscribed, the Lutherans themselves had been burnt by Henry's
bishops. The Protestant divines in Germany had attempted to conciliate
the emperor by supporting the cause of Catherine; and Luther himself had
spoken loudly in condemnation of the king. The elements of disunion were
so many and so powerful, that there was little hope of contending
against them successfully. Nevertheless, as Henry saw, the coalition of
Francis and the emperor, if the pope succeeded in cementing it, was a
most serious danger, to which an opposite alliance would alone be an
adequate counterpoise; and the experiment might at least be tried
whether such an alliance was possible. At the beginning of August,
therefore, Stephen Vaughan was sent on a tentative mission to the
Elector of Saxe, John Frederick, at Weimar.[169] He was the bearer of
letters containing a proposal for a resident English ambassador; and if
the elector gave his consent, he was to proceed with similar offers to
the courts of the Landgrave of Hesse and the Duke of Lunenberg.[170]
Vaughan arrived in due time at the elector's court, was admitted to
audience, and delivered his letters. The prince read them, and in the
evening of the same day returned for answer a polite but wholly absolute
refusal. Being but a prince elector, he said, he might not aspire to so
high an honour as to be favoured with the presence of an English
ambassador. It was not the custom in Germany, and he feared that if he
consented he should displease the emperor.[171] The meaning of such a
reply delivered in a few hours was not to be mistaken, however disguised
in courteous language. The English emissary saw that he was an unwelcome
visitor, and that he must depart with the utmost celerity. "The
elector," he wrote,[172] "thirsted to have me gone from him, which I
right well perceived by evident tokens which declared unto me the
same." He had no anxiety to expose to hazard the toleration which the
Protestant dukedoms as yet enjoyed from the emperor, by committing
himself to a connexion with a prince with whose present policy he had no
sympathy, and whose conversion to the cause of the Reformation he had as
yet no reason to believe sincere.[173]

The reception which Vaughan met with at Weimar satisfied him that he
need go no further; neither the Landgrave nor the Duke of Lunenberg
would be likely to venture on a course which the elector so obviously
feared. He, therefore, gave up his mission, and returned to England.

[Sidenote: The failure a not unprofitable lesson to England.]

The first overtures in this direction issued in complete failure, nor
was the result wholly to be regretted. It taught Henry (or it was a
first commencement of the lesson) that so long as he pursued a merely
English policy he might not expect that other nations would embroil
themselves in his defence. He must allow the Reformation a wider scope,
he must permit it to comprehend within its possible consequences the
breaking of the chains by which his subjects' minds were bound--not
merely a change of jailors. Then perhaps the German princes might return
some other answer.

[Sidenote: September 7. Birth of the Princess Elizabeth.]

[Sidenote: Exultation in London.]

[Sidenote: Light and shadow.]

The disappointment, however, fell lightly; for before the account of the
failure had reached England, an event had happened, which, poor as the
king might be in foreign alliances, had added most material strength to
his position in England. The full moment of that event he had no means
of knowing. In its immediate bearing it was matter for most abundant
satisfaction. On the seventh of September, between three and four in the
afternoon, at the palace of Greenwich, was born a princess, named three
days later in her baptism, after the king's mother, Elizabeth.[174] A
son had been hoped for. The child was a daughter only; yet at least
Providence had not pronounced against the marriage by a sentence of
barrenness; at least there was now an heir whose legitimacy the nation
had agreed to accept. Te Deums were sung in all the churches; again the
river decked itself in splendour; again all London steeples were musical
with bells. A font of gold was presented for the christening. Francis,
in compensation for his backslidings, had consented to be godfather; and
the infant, who was soon to find her country so rude a stepmother, was
received with all the outward signs of exulting welcome. To Catherine's
friends the offspring of the rival marriage was not welcome, but was an
object rather of bitter hatred; and the black cloud of a sister's
jealousy gathered over the cradle whose innocent occupant had robbed her
of her title and her expectations. To the king, to the parliament, to
the healthy heart of England, she was an object of eager hope and an
occasion for thankful gratitude; but the seeds were sown with her birth
of those misfortunes which were soon to overshadow her, and to form the
school of the great nature which in its maturity would re-mould the

[Sidenote: Preparations for the interview at Marseilles.]

Leaving Elizabeth for the present, we return to the continent, and to
the long-promised interview, which was now at last approaching. Henry
made no further attempt to remonstrate with Francis; and Francis assured
him, and with all sincerity, that he would use his best efforts to move
the pope to make the necessary concessions. The English embassy
meanwhile was withdrawn. The excommunication had been received as an act
of hostility, of which Henry would not even condescend to complain; and
it was to be understood distinctly that in any exertions which might be
made by the French king, the latter was acting without commission on his
own responsibility. The intercession was to be the spontaneous act of a
mutual friend, who, for the interests of Christendom, desired to heal a
dangerous wound; but neither directly nor indirectly was it to be
interpreted as an expression of a desire for a reconciliation on the
English side.

[Sidenote: The pope arrives under the conduct of the Duke of Albany.]

[Sidenote: Oct. 25th. Marriage of Henry Duke of Orleans, and Catherine
de Medici.]

[Sidenote: Amicable differences between the pope and Francis on the
English question.]

[Sidenote: General distrust.]

It was determined further, on the recal of the Duke of Norfolk, that the
opportunity of the meeting should be taken to give a notice to the pope
of the king's appeal to the council; and for this purpose, Bennet and
Bonner were directed to follow the papal court from Rome. Bennet never
accomplished this journey, dying on the route, worn out with much
service.[175] His death delayed Bonner, and the conferences had opened
for many days before his arrival. Clement had reached Marseilles by ship
from Genoa, about the 20th of October. As if pointedly to irritate
Henry, he had placed himself under the conduct of the Duke of
Albany.[176] He was followed two days later by his fair niece, Catherine
de Medici; and the preparations for the marriage were commenced with the
utmost swiftness and secrecy. The conditions of the contract were not
allowed to transpire, but they were concluded in three days; and on the
25th of October the pope bestowed his precious present on the Duke of
Orleans, he himself performing the nuptial ceremony, and accompanying it
with his paternal benediction on the young pair, and on the happy
country which was to possess them for its king and queen. France being
thus securely riveted to Rome, other matters could be talked of more
easily. Francis made all decent overtures to the pope in behalf of
Henry; if the pope was to be believed indeed, he was vehemently
urgent.[177] Clement in turn made suggestions for terms of alliance
between Francis and Charles, "to the advantage of the Most Christian
king;"[178] and thus parried the remonstrances. The only point
positively clear to the observers, was the perfect understanding which
existed between the King of France and his spiritual father.[179]
Unusual activity was remarked in the dockyards; Italian soldiers of
fortune were about the court in unusual numbers, and apparently in
favour.[180] An invasion of Lombardy was talked of among the palace
retinue; and the emperor was said to distrust the intentions of the
conference. Possibly experience had taught all parties to doubt each
other's faith. Possibly they were all in some degree waiting upon
events; and had not yet resolved upon their conduct.

[Sidenote: Bonner at Marseilles.]

[Sidenote: Character of Bonner.]

In the midst of this scene arrived Doctor Bonner, in the beginning of
November, with Henry's appeal. He was a strange figure to appear in such
a society. There was little probity, perhaps, either in the court of
France, or in their Italian visitors: but of refinement, of culture, of
those graces which enable men to dispense with the more austere
excellences of character,--which transform licentiousness into elegant
frailty, and treachery and falsehood into pardonable finesse,--of these
there was very much: and when a rough, coarse, vulgar Englishman was
plunged among these delicate ladies and gentlemen, he formed an element
which contrasted strongly with the general environment. Yet Bonner,
perhaps, was not without qualifications which fitted him for his
mission. He was not, indeed, virtuous; but he had a certain downright
honesty about him, joined with an entire insensibility to those finer
perceptions which would have interfered with plain speaking, where plain
speaking was desirable; he had a broad, not ungenial humour, which
showed him things and persons in their genuine light, and enabled him to
picture them for us with a distinctness for which we owe him lasting

[Sidenote: November 7.]

He appeared at Marseilles on the 7th of November, and had much
difficulty in procuring an interview. At length, weary of waiting, and
regardless of the hot lead with which he had been lately threatened, he
forced his way into the room where "the pope was standing, with the
Cardinals De Lorraine and Medici, ready apparelled with his stole to go
to the consistory."

[Sidenote: Bonner's letter to the king.]

"Incontinently upon my coming thither," he wrote to Henry,[181] "the
pope, whose sight is incredulous quick, eyed me, and that divers times;
making a good pause in one place; at which time I desired the datary to
advertise his Holiness that I would speak with him; and albeit the
datary made no little difficulty therein, yet perceiving that upon
refusal I would have gone forthwith to the pope, he advertised the pope
of my said desire. His Holiness dismissing as then the said cardinals,
and letting his vesture fall, went to a window in the said chamber,
calling me unto him. At which time I showed unto his Holiness how that
your Highness had given me express and strait commandment to intimate
unto him how that your Grace had solemnly provoked and appealed unto the
general council; submitting yourself to the tuition and defence thereof;
which provocation and appeal I had under authentic writings then with
me, to show for that purpose. And herewithal I drew out the said
writing, showing his said Holiness that I brought the same in proof of
the premises, and that his Holiness might see and perceive all the same.
The pope having this for a breakfast, only pulled down his head to his
shoulders, after the Italian fashion, and said that because he was as
then fully ready to go into the consistory, he would not tarry to hear
or see the said writings, but willed me to come at afternoon."

[Sidenote: The king's appeal is delivered to the pope.]

The afternoon came, and Bonner returned, and was admitted. There was
some conversation upon indifferent matters; the pope making good-natured
inquiries about Bennet, and speaking warmly and kindly of him.

"Presently," Bonner continues, "falling out of that, he said that he
marvelled your Highness would use his Holiness after such sort as it
appears ye did. I said that your Highness no less did marvel that his
Holiness having found so much benevolence and kindness at your hands in
all times past, would for acquittal show such unkindness as of late he
did. And here we entered in communication upon two points: one was that
his Holiness, having committed in times past, and in most ample form,
the cause into the realm, promising not to revoke the said commission,
and over that, to confirm the process and sentence of the commissaries,
should not at the point of sentence have advoked the cause, retaining it
at Rome--forasmuch as Rome was a place whither your Highness could not,
ne yet ought, personally to come unto, and also was not bound to send
thither your proctor. The second point was, that your Highness's cause
being, in the opinion of the best learned men in Christendom, approved
good and just, and so [in] many ways known unto his Holiness, the same
should not so long have retained it in his hands without judgment.

"His Holiness answering the same, as touching the first point, said that
if the queen (meaning the late wife of Prince Arthur, calling her always
in his conversation the queen) had not given an oath refusing the judges
as suspect, he would not have advoked the matter at all, but been
content that it should have been determined and ended in your realm. But
seeing she gave that oath, appealing also to his court, he might and
ought to hear her, his promise made to your Highness, which was
qualified, notwithstanding. As touching the second point, his Holiness
said that your Highness only was the default thereof, because ye would
not send a proxy to the cause. These matters, however, he said, had been
many times fully talked upon at Rome; and therefore [he] willed me to
omit further communication thereupon, and to proceed to the doing of
such things that I was specially sent for.

[Sidenote: The pope's anger.]

"Whereupon making protestation of your Highness's mind and intent
towards the see apostolic--not intending anything to do in contempt of
the same--I exhibited unto his Holiness the commission which your
Highness had sent unto me; and his Holiness delivering it to the datary,
commanded him to read it; and hearing in the same the words (referring
to the injuries which he had done to your Highness), he began to look up
after a new sort, and said, 'O questo et multo vero! (this is much
true!)' meaning that it was not true indeed. And verily, sure not only
in this, but also in many parts of the said commission, he showed
himself grievously offended; insomuch that, when those words, 'To the
next general council which shall be lawfully held in place convenient,'
were read, he fell in a marvellous great choler and rage, not only
declaring the same by his gesture and manner, but also by words:
speaking with great vehemence, and saying, 'Why did not the king, when I
wrote to my nuncio this year past, to speak unto him for this general
council, give no answer unto my said nuncio, but referred him for answer
to the French king? at what time he might perceive by my doing, that I
was very well disposed, and much spake for it.' 'The thing so standing,
now to speak of a general council! Oh, good Lord! but well! his
commission and all his other writings cannot be but welcome unto me;'
which words methought he spake willing to hide his choler, and make me
believe that he was nothing angry with their doings, when in very deed I
perceived, by many arguments, that it was otherwise. And one among
others was taken here for infallible with them that knoweth the pope's
conditions, that he was continually folding up and unwinding of his
handkerchief, which he never doth but when he is tickled to the very
heart with great choler."

At length the appeal was read through; and at the close of it Francis
entered, and talked to the pope for some time, but in so low a voice
that Bonner could not hear what was passing. When he had gone, his
Holiness said that he would deliberate upon the appeal with the
consistory, and after hearing their judgments would return his answer.

[Sidenote: The appeal is rejected.]

Three days passed, and then the English agent was informed that he might
again present himself. The pope had recovered his calmness. When he had
time to collect himself, Clement could speak well and with dignity; and
if we could forget that his conduct was substantially unjust, and that
in his conscience he knew it to be unjust, he would almost persuade us
to believe him honest. "He said," wrote Bonner, "that his mind towards
your Highness always had been to minister justice, and to do pleasure to
you; albeit it hath not been so taken: and he never unjustly grieved
your Grace that he knoweth, nor intendeth hereafter to do. As concerning
the appeal, he said that, forasmuch as there was a constitution of Pope
Pius, his predecessor, that did condemn and reprove all such appeals, he
did therefore reject your Grace's appeal as frivolous, forbidden, and
unlawful." As touching the council, he said generally, that he would do
his best that it should meet; but it was to be understood that the
calling a general council belonged to him, and not to the King of

The audience ended, and Bonner left the pope convinced that he intended,
on his return to Rome, to execute the censures and continue the process
without delay. That the sentence which he would pronounce would be
against the king appeared equally certain.

[Sidenote: Yet on Bonner's departure Clement assures Francis that the
King of England's cause is just,]

[Sidenote: And if he will only acknowledge the Papal authority, he will
give sentence in his favour.]

It appeared certain, yet after all no certain conclusion is possible.
Francis I., though not choosing to quarrel with the see of Rome to do a
pleasure to Henry, was anxious to please his ally to the extent of his
convenience; at any rate, he would not have gratuitously deceived him;
and still less would he have been party to an act of deliberate
treachery. When Bonner was gone he had a last interview with the pope,
in which he urged upon him the necessity of complying with Henry's
demands; and the pope on this occasion said that he was satisfied that
the King of England was right; that his cause was good; and that he had
only to acknowledge the papal jurisdiction by some formal act, to find
sentence immediately pronounced in his favour. Except for his
precipitation, and his refusal to depute a proxy to plead for him, his
wishes would have been complied with long before. In the existing
posture of affairs, and after the measures which had been passed in
England with respect to the see of Rome, he himself, the pope said,
could not make advances without some kind of submission; but a single
act of acknowledgment was all which he required.[182]

[Sidenote: Was the pope honest? or treacherous? or merely weak.]

[Sidenote: Let us try to judge him charitably.]

Extraordinary as it must seem, the pope certainly bound himself by this
engagement: and who can tell with what intention? To believe him sincere
and to believe him false seems equally impossible. If he was persuaded
that Henry's cause _was_ good, why did he in the following year
pronounce finally for Catherine? why had he imperilled so needlessly the
interests of the papacy in England? why had his conduct from the
beginning pointed steadily to the conclusion at which he at last
arrived? and why throughout Europe were the ultramontane party, to a
man, on Catherine's side? On the other hand, what object at such a time
can be conceived for falsehood? Can we suppose that he designed to dupe
Henry into submission by a promise which he had predetermined to break?
It is hard to suppose even Clement capable of so elaborate an act of
perfidy; and it is, perhaps, idle to waste conjectures on the motives of
a weak, much-agitated man. He was, probably, but giving a fresh example
of his disposition to say at each moment whatever would be most
agreeable to his hearers. This was his unhappy habit, by which he earned
for himself a character for dishonesty, I labour to think, but half

[Sidenote: Proposal that the cause should be referred to a commission,
to sit at Cambray.]

[Sidenote: Francis implores Henry to consent.]

If, however, Clement meant to deceive, he succeeded, undoubtedly, in
deceiving the French king, Francis, in communicating to Henry the
language which the pope had used, entreated him to reconsider his
resolution. The objection to pleading at Rome might be overcome; for
the pope would meet him in a middle course. Judges could be appointed,
who should sit at Cambray, and pass a sentence in condemnation of the
original marriage; with a definite promise that their sentence should
not again be called in question. To this arrangement there could be no
reasonable objection; and Francis implored that a proposal so liberal
should not be rejected. Sufficient danger already threatened
Christendom, from heretics within and from the Turks without; and
although the English parliament were agreed to maintain the second
marriage, it was unwise to provoke the displeasure of foreign princes.
To allow time for the preliminary arrangements, the execution of the
censures had been further postponed; and if Henry would make up the
quarrel, the French monarch was commissioned to offer a league,
offensive and defensive, between England, France, and the Papacy. He
himself only desired to be faithful to his engagements to his good
brother; and as a proof of his good faith, he said that he had been
offered the Duchy of Milan, if he would look on while the emperor and
the pope attacked England.[183]

This language bears all the character of sincerity, and when we remember
that it followed immediately upon a close and intimate communication of
three weeks with Clement, it is not easy to believe that he could have
mistaken the extent of the pope's promises. We may suppose Clement for
the moment to have been honest, or wavering between honesty and
falsehood; we may suppose further that Francis trusted him because it
was undesirable to be suspicious, in the belief that he was discharging
the duty of a friend to Henry and of a friend to the church, in offering
to mediate upon these terms.

[Sidenote: Suspicions of Henry.]

[Sidenote: His disgust with Clement.]

But Henry was far advanced beyond the point at which fair words could
move him. He had trusted many times, and had been many times deceived.
It was not easy to entangle him again. It mattered little whether
Clement was weak or false; the result was the same--he could not be
trusted. To an open English understanding there was something monstrous
in the position of a person professing to be a judge, who admitted that
a cause which lay before him was so clear that he could bind himself to
a sentence upon it, and could yet refuse to pronounce that sentence,
except upon conditions. It was scarcely for the interests of justice to
leave the distribution of it in hands so questionable.

Instead, therefore, of coming forward, as Francis hoped, instead of
consenting to entangle himself again in the meshes of diplomatic
intrigue, the king returned a peremptory refusal.

The Duke of Norfolk, and such of the council as dreaded the completion
of the schism, assured d'Inteville, the French ambassador, that for
themselves they considered Francis was doing the best for England which
could be done, and that they deprecated violent measures as much as
possible; but in all this party there was a secret leaning to Queen
Catherine, a dislike of Queen Anne and the whole Boleyn race, and a
private hope and belief that the pope would after all be firm. Their
tongues were therefore tied. They durst not speak except alone in
whispers to each other, and the French ambassador, who did dare, only
drew from Henry a more determined expression of his resolution.

As to his measures in England, the king said, the pope had begun the
quarrel by issuing censures and by refusing to admit his reasons for
declining to plead at Rome. He was required to send a proctor, and was
told that the cause should be decided in favour of whichever party was
so represented there. For the sake of all other princes as well as
himself, he would send no proctor, nor would he seem to acquiesce in the
pretences of the papal see. The King of France told him that the pope
admitted the justice of his cause. Let the pope do justice, then. The
laws passed in parliament were for the benefit of the commonwealth, and
he would never revoke them. He demanded no reparation, and could make no
reparation. He asked only for his right, and if he could not obtain it,
he had God and truth on his side, and that was enough. In vain
d'Inteville answered feebly, that his master had done all that was in
his power; the king replied that the French council wished to entangle
him with the pope; but for his own part he would never more acknowledge
the pope in his pretended capacity. He might be bishop of Rome, or pope
also, if he preferred the name; but the see of Rome should have no more
jurisdiction in England, and he thought he would be none the worse
Christian on that account, but rather the better. Jesus Christ he would
acknowledge, and him only, as the true Lord of Christian men, and
Christ's word only should be preached in England. The Spaniards might
invade him as they threatened. He did not fear them. They might come,
but they might not find it so easy to return.[184]

The King had taken his position and was prepared for the consequences.
He had foreseen for more than a year the possibility of an attempted
invasion; and since his marriage, he had been aware that the chances of
success in the adventure had been discussed on the Continent by the
papal and imperial party. The pope had spoken of his censures being
enforced, and Francis had revealed to Henry the nature of the dangerous
overtures which had been made to himself. The Lutheran princes had
hurriedly declined to connect themselves in any kind of alliance with
England: and on the 25th of September, Stephen Vaughan had reported that
troops were being raised in Germany, which rumour destined for
Catherine's service.[185] Ireland, too, as we shall hear in the next
chapter, was on the verge of an insurrection, which had been fomented by
papal agents.

[Sidenote: The conditions under which invasion might be dangerous.]

[Sidenote: Apparent tranquillity of England.]

[Sidenote: The Nun of Kent's conspiracy.]

Nevertheless, there was no real danger from an invasion, unless it was
accompanied with an insurrection at home, or with a simultaneous attack
from Scotland; and while of the first there appeared upon the surface no
probability, with Scotland a truce for a year had been concluded on the
1st of October.[186] The king, therefore, had felt himself reasonably
secure. Parliament had seemed unanimous; the clergy were submissive;
the nation acquiescent or openly approving;[187] and as late as the
beginning of November, 1533, no suspicion seems to have been entertained
of the spread of serious disaffection. A great internal revolution had
been accomplished; a conflict of centuries between the civil and
spiritual powers had been terminated without a life lost or a blow
struck. Partial murmurs there had been, but murmurs were inevitable,
and, so far as the government yet knew, were harmless. The Scotch war
had threatened to be dangerous, but it had been extinguished. Impatient
monks had denounced the king from the pulpits, and disloyal language had
been reported from other quarters, which had roused vigilance, but had
not created alarm. The Nun of Kent had forced herself into the royal
presence with menacing prophecies; but she had appeared to be a harmless
dreamer, who could only be made of importance by punishment. The surface
of the nation was in profound repose. Cromwell, like Walsingham after
him, may perhaps have known of the fire which was smouldering below, and
have watched it silently till the moment came at which to trample it
out; but no symptom of uneasiness appears either in the conduct of the
government or in the official correspondence. The organization of the
friars, the secret communication of the Nun with Catherine and the
Princess Mary, with the papal nuncio, or with noble lords and reverend
bishops, was either unknown, or the character of those communications
was not suspected. That a serious political conspiracy should have
shaped itself round the ravings of a seeming lunatic, to all appearance
had not occurred as a possibility to a single member of the council,
except to those whose silence was ensured by their complicity.

[Sidenote: The first occasion of suspicion.]

So far as we are able to trace the story (for the links of the chain
which led to the discovery of the designs which were entertained, are
something imperfect), the suspicions of the government were first roused
in the following manner:

[Sidenote: On the birth of Elizabeth, the Princess Mary is called upon
to surrender her title.]

Queen Catherine, as we have already seen, had been called upon, at the
coronation of Anne Boleyn, to renounce her title, and she had refused.
Mary had been similarly deprived of her rank as princess; but either her
disgrace was held to be involved in that of her mother, or some other
cause, perhaps the absence of immediate necessity, had postponed the
demand for her own personal submission. As, however, on the publication
of the second marriage, it had been urged on Catherine that there could
not be two queens in England, so on the birth of the Princess Elizabeth,
an analogous argument required the disinheritance of Mary. It was a hard
thing; but her mother's conduct obliged the king to be peremptory. She
might have been legitimatized by act of parliament, if Catherine would
have submitted. The consequences of Catherine's refusal might be cruel,
but they were unavoidable.

Mary was not with her mother. It had been held desirable to remove her
from an influence which would encourage her in a useless opposition; and
she was residing at Beaulieu, afterwards New Hall, in Essex, under the
care of Lord Hussey and the Countess of Salisbury. Lord Hussey was a
dangerous guardian, he was subsequently executed for his complicity in
the Pilgrimage of Grace, the avowed object of which was the restoration
of Mary to her place as heir-apparent. We may believe, therefore, that
while under his surveillance she experienced no severe restraint, nor
received that advice with respect to her conduct which prudence would
have dictated. Lord Hussey, however, for the present enjoyed the
confidence of the king, and was directed to inform his charge, that for
the future she was to consider herself not as princess, but as the
king's natural daughter, the Lady Mary Tudor. The message was a painful
one; painful, we will hope, more on her mother's account than on her
own; but her answer implied that, as yet, Henry VIII. was no object of
especial terror to his children.

[Sidenote: She replies haughtily and violently.]

"Her Grace replied," wrote Lord Hussey to the council in communicating
the result of his undertaking,[188] that "she could not a little marvel
that I being alone, and not associate with some other the king's most
honourable council, nor yet sufficiently authorized neither by
commission nor by any other writing from the King's Highness, would
attempt to declare such a high enterprise and matter of no little weight
and importance unto her Grace, in diminishing her said estate and name;
her Grace not doubting that she is the king's true and legitimate
daughter and heir procreate in good and lawful matrimony; [and] further
adding, that unless she were advertised from his Highness by his writing
that his Grace was so minded to diminish her estate, name, and dignity,
which she trusteth his Highness will never do, she would not believe

[Sidenote: She writes to the king in a similar tone.]

Inasmuch as Mary was but sixteen at this time, the resolution which she
displayed in sending such a message was considerable. The early English
held almost Roman notions on the nature of parental authority, and the
tone of a child to a father was usually that of the most submissive
reverence. Nor was she contented with replying indirectly through her
guardian. She wrote herself to the king, saying that she neither could
nor would in her conscience think the contrary, but that she was his
lawful daughter born in true matrimony, and that she thought that he in
his own conscience did judge the same.[189]

[Sidenote: Danger to the nation of Mary's attitude.]

Such an attitude in so young a girl was singular, yet not necessarily
censurable. Henry was not her only parent, and if we suppose her to have
been actuated by affection for her mother, her conduct may appear not
pardonable only, but spirited and creditable. In insisting upon her
legitimacy, nevertheless, she was not only asserting the good name and
fame of Catherine of Arragon, but unhappily her own claim to the
succession to the throne. It was natural that under the circumstances
she should have felt her right to assert that claim; for the injury
which she had suffered was patent not only to herself, but to Europe.
Catherine might have been required to give way that the king might have
a son, and that the succession might be established in a prince; but so
long as the child of the second marriage was a daughter only, it seemed
substantially monstrous to set aside the elder for the younger. Yet the
measure was a harsh necessity; a link in the chain which could not be
broken. The harassed nation insisted above all things that no doubt
should hang over the future, and it was impossible in the existing
complications to recognise the daughter of Catherine without excluding
Elizabeth, and excluding the prince who was expected to follow her. By
asserting her title, Mary was making herself the nucleus of sedition,
which on her father's death would lead to a convulsion in the realm. She
might not mean it, but the result would not be affected by a want of
purpose in herself; and it was possible that her resolution might create
immediate and far more painful complications. The king's excommunication
was imminent, and if the censures were enforced by the emperor, she
would be thrust into the unpermitted position of her father's rival.

[Sidenote: The king treats her as a petulant child.]

The political consequences of her conduct, notwithstanding, although
evident to statesmen, might well be concealed from a headstrong,
passionate girl. There was no suspicion that she herself was encouraging
any of these dangerous thoughts, and Henry looked upon her answer to
Lord Hussey and her letter to himself as expressions of petulant folly.
Lord Oxford, the Earl of Essex, and the Earl of Sussex were directed to
repair to Beaulieu, and explain to her the situation in which she had
placed herself.

[Sidenote: His letter explaining to her the true nature of her

"Considering," wrote the king to them, "how highly such contempt and
rebellion done by our daughter and her servants doth touch not only us,
and the surety of our honour and person, but also the tranquillity of
our realm; and not minding to suffer the pernicious example hereof to
spread far abroad, but to put remedy to the same in due time, we have
given you commandment to declare to her the great folly, temerity, and
indiscretion that she hath used herein, with the peril she hath
incurred by reason of her so doing. By these her ungodly doings hitherto
she hath most worthily deserved our high indignation and displeasure,
and thereto no less pain and punition than by the order of the laws of
our realm doth appertain in case of high treason, unless our mercy and
clemency should be shewed in that behalf. [If, however, after]
understanding our mind and pleasure, [she will] conform herself humbly
and obediently to the observation of the same, according to the office
and duty of a natural daughter, and of a true and faithful subject, she
may give us cause hereafter to incline our fatherly pity to her
reconciliation, her benefit and advancement."[190]

The reply of Mary to this message is not discoverable; but it is certain
that she persisted in her resolution, and clung either to her mother's
"cause" or to her own rank and privilege, in sturdy defiance of her
father. To punish her insubordination or to tolerate it was equally
difficult; and the government might have been in serious embarrassment
had not a series of discoveries, following rapidly one upon the other,
explained the mystery of these proceedings, and opened a view with
alarming clearness into the undercurrents of the feeling of the country.

[Sidenote: Correspondence between Queen Catherine, the Court of Rome,
and the Emperor.]

Information from time to time had reached Henry from Rome, relating to
the correspondence between Catherine and the pope. Perhaps, too, he knew
how assiduously she had importuned the emperor to force Clement to a
decision.[191] No effort, however, had been hitherto made to interfere
with her hospitalities, or to oblige her visitors to submit to scrutiny
before they could be admitted to her presence. She was the mistress of
her own court and of her own actions; and confidential agents, both from
Rome, Brussels, and Spain, had undoubtedly passed and repassed with
reciprocal instructions and directions.

[Sidenote: Two suspicious friars at Bugden,]

[Sidenote: "Followed" to London; arrested, and probably tortured.]

The crisis which was clearly approaching had obliged Henry, in the
course of this autumn, to be more watchful; and about the end of
October, or the beginning of November,[192] two friars were reported as
having been at Bugden, whose movements attracted suspicion from their
anxiety to escape observation. Secret agents of the government, who had
been "set" for the purpose, followed the friars to London, and
notwithstanding "many wiles and cautells by them invented to escape,"
the suspected persons were arrested and brought before Cromwell.
Cromwell "upon examination, could gather nothing from them of any moment
or great importance;" but, "entering on further communication," he said
"he found one of them a very seditious person, and so committed them to
ward." The king was absent from London, but had left directions that, in
the event of any important occurrence of the kind, Archbishop Cranmer
should be sent for; but Cranmer not being immediately at hand, Cromwell
wrote to Henry for instructions; inasmuch as, he said, "it is undoubted
that they (the monks) have intended, and would confess, some great
matter, if they might be examined as they ought to be--that is to say,
by pains."

[Sidenote: Conspiracy, in which the Princess Mary was implicated, to
dethrone the King.]

The curtain here falls over the two prisoners; we do not know whether
they were tortured, whether they confessed, or what they confessed; but
we may naturally connect this letter, directly or indirectly, with the
events which immediately followed. In the middle of November we find a
commission sitting at Lambeth, composed of Cromwell, Cranmer, and
Latimer, ravelling out the threads of a story, from which, when the
whole was disentangled, it appeared that by Queen Catherine, the
Princess Mary, and a large and formidable party in the country, the
king, on the faith of a pretended revelation, was supposed to have
forfeited the crown; that his death, either by visitation of God or by
visitation of man, was daily expected; and that whether his death took
place or not, a revolution was immediately looked for, which would place
the princess on the throne.

[Sidenote: Prophecies of the Nun of Kent.]

[Sidenote: December.]

The Nun of Kent, as we remember, had declared that if Henry persisted in
his resolution of marrying Anne, she was commissioned by God to tell
him that he should lose his power and authority. She had not specified
the manner in which the sentence would be carried into effect against
him. The form of her threats had been also varied occasionally; she said
that he should die, but whether by the hands of his subjects, or by a
providential judgment, she left to conjecture;[193] and the period
within which his punishment was to fall upon him was stated variously at
one month or at six.[194] She had attempted no secresy with these
prophecies; she had confined herself in appearance to words; and the
publicity which she courted having prevented suspicion of secret
conspiracy, Henry quietly accepted the issue, and left the truth of the
prophecy to be confuted by the event. He married. The one month passed;
the six months passed: eight--nine months. His child was born and was
baptized, and no divine thunder had interposed; only a mere harmless
verbal thunder, from a poor old man at Rome. The illusion, as he
imagined, had been lived down, and had expired of its own vanity.

[Sidenote: The Nun half deceiver, and half herself deceived.]

But the Nun and her friar advisers were counting on other methods of
securing the fulfilment of the prophecy than supernatural assistance. It
is remarkable that, hypocrites and impostors as they knew themselves to
be, they were not without a half belief that some supernatural
intervention was imminent; but the career on which they had entered was
too fascinating to allow them to forsake it when their expectation
failed them. They were swept into the stream which was swelling to
resist the Reformation, and allowed themselves to be hurried forward
either to victory or to destruction.

The first revelation being apparently confuted by facts, a second was
produced as an interpretation of it; which, however, was not published
like the other, but whispered in secret to persons whose dispositions
were known.[195]

[Sidenote: On the failure of the first prophecy, an interpretation is
discovered of a perilous kind. The king is declared to be in the
condition of Saul after his rejection.]

"When the King's Grace," says the report of the commissioners, "had
continued in good health, honour, and prosperity more than a month, Dr.
Bocking shewed the said Nun, that as King Saul, abjected from his
kingdom by God, yet continued king in the sight of the world, so her
said revelations might be taken. And therefore the said Nun, upon this
information, forged another revelation, that her words should be
understanded to mean that the King's Grace should not be king in the
reputation or acceptation of God, not one month or one hour after that
he married the Queen's Grace that now is. The first revelation had moved
a great number of the king's subjects, both high and low, to grudge
against the said marriage before it was concluded and perfected; and
also induced such as were stiffly bent against that marriage, daily to
look for the destruction of the King's Grace within a month after he
married the Queen's Grace that now is. And when they were deluded in
that expectation, the second revelation was devised not only as an
interpretation of the former, but to the intent to induce the king's
subjects to believe that God took the King's Grace for no king of this
realm; and that they should likewise take him for no righteous king, and
themselves not bounden to be his subjects; which might have put the King
and the Queen's Grace in jeopardy of their crown and of their issue, and
the people of this realm in great danger of destruction."[196]

[Sidenote: The prophecies in extensive secret circulation in a written

[Sidenote: The Friars Mendicant.]

It was no light matter to pronounce the king to be in the position of
Saul after his rejection; and read by the light of the impending
excommunication, the Nun's words could mean nothing but treason. The
speaker herself was in correspondence with the pope; she had attested
her divine commission by miracles, and had been recognised as a saint by
an Archbishop of Canterbury; the regular orders of the clergy throughout
the realm were known to regard her as inspired; and when the commission
recollected that the king was threatened further with dying "a villain's
death"; and that these and similar prophecies were carefully written
out, and were in private circulation through the country, the matter
assumed a dangerous complexion: it became at once essential to ascertain
how far, and among what classes of the state, these things had
penetrated. The Friars Mendicant were discovered to be in league with
her, and these itinerants were ready-made missionaries of sedition. They
had privilege of vagrancy without check or limit; and owing to their
universal distribution and the freemasonry among themselves, the secret
disposition of every family in England was intimately known to them. No
movement, therefore, could be securely overlooked in which these orders
had a share; the country might be undermined in secret; and the
government might only learn their danger at the moment of explosion.

[Sidenote: Arrest of the Nun and five monks.]

[Sidenote: She confesses.]

[Sidenote: A list is obtained of the persons who were implicated with

No sooner, therefore, were the commissioners in possession of the
general facts, than the principal parties--that is to say, the Nun
herself and five of the monks of Christ Church at Canterbury--with whom
her intercourse was most constant, were sent to the Tower to be
"examined,"--the monks it is likely by "torture," if they could not
otherwise be brought to confession. The Nun was certainly not tortured.
On her first arrest, she was obstinate in maintaining her prophetic
character; and she was detected in sending messages to her friends, "to
animate them to adhere to her and to her prophecies."[197] But her
courage ebbed away under the hard reality of her position. She soon made
a full confession, in which her accomplices joined her; and the
half-completed web of conspiracy was ravelled out. They did not attempt
to conceal that they had intended, if possible, to create an
insurrection. The five monks--Father Bocking, Father Rich, Father Rysby,
Father Dering, and Father Goold--had assisted the Nun in inventing her
"Revelations": and as apostles, they had travelled about the country to
communicate them in whatever quarters they were likely to be welcome.
When we remember that Archbishop Warham had been a dupe of this woman,
and that even Wolsey's experience and ability had not prevented him from
believing in her power, we are not surprised to find high names among
those who were implicated. Vast numbers of abbots and priors, and of
regular and secular clergy, had listened eagerly; country gentlemen
also, and London merchants. The Bishop of Rochester had "wept for joy"
at the first utterances of the inspired prophetess; and Sir Thomas More,
"who at first did little regard the said revelations, afterwards did
greatly rejoice to hear of them."[198] We learn, also, that the Nun had
continued to _communicate with "the Lady Princess Dowager" and "the Lady
Mary, her daughter_."[199]

[Sidenote: The Countess of Salisbury and the Marchioness of Exeter.]

[Sidenote: Danger of a White Rose confederacy under the papal sanction.]

[Sidenote: Arrest of the Nevilles.]

These were names which might have furnished cause for regret, but little
for surprise or alarm. The commissioners must have found occasion for
other feelings, however, when among the persons implicated were found
the Countess of Salisbury and the The Marchioness of Exeter, with their
chaplains, households, and servants; Sir Thomas Arundel, Sir George
Carew, and "many of the nobles of England."[200] A combination headed by
the Countess of Salisbury, if she were supported even by a small section
of the nobility, would under any circumstances have been dangerous; and
if such a combination was formed in support of an invasion, and was
backed by the blessings of the pope and the fanaticism of the clergy,
the result might be serious indeed. So careful a silence is observed in
the official papers on this feature of the Nun's conspiracy, that it is
uncertain how far the countess had committed herself; but she had
listened certainly to avowals of treasonable intentions without
revealing them, which of itself was no slight evidence of disloyalty;
and that the government were really alarmed may be gathered from the
simultaneous arrest of Sir William and Sir George Neville, the brothers
of Lord Latimer. The connexion and significance of these names I shall
explain presently; in the meantime I return to the preparations which
had been made by the Nun.

[Sidenote: The Nun prophesies that the Lady Mary should have help when
the time was come.]

As the final judgment drew near,--which, unless the king submitted,
would be accompanied with excommunication, and a declaration that the
English nation was absolved from allegiance,--"the said false Nun," says
the report, "surmised herself to have made a petition to God to know,
when fearful war should come, whether any man should take my Lady Mary's
part or no; and she feigned herself to have answer by revelation that no
man should fear but that she should have succour and help enough; and
that no man should put her from her right that she was born unto. And
petitioning next to know when it was the pleasure of God that her
revelations should be put forth to the world, she had answer that
knowledge should be given to her ghostly father when it should be

[Sidenote: She communicates with Queen Catherine,]

With this information Father Goold had hastened down to Bugden,
encouraging Catherine to persevere in her resistance;[202] and while
the imperialists at Rome were pressing the pope for sentence (we cannot
doubt at Catherine's instance), the Nun had placed herself in readiness
to seize the opportunity when it offered, and to blow the trumpet of
insurrection in the panic which might be surely looked for when that
sentence should be published.

[Sidenote: And organizes a corps of Friars to preach insurrection.]

For this purpose she had organized, with considerable skill, a corps of
fanatical friars, who, when the signal was given, were simultaneously to
throw themselves into the midst or the people, and call upon them to
rise in the name of God. "To the intent," says the report, "to set forth
this matter, certain spiritual and religious persons were appointed, as
they had been chosen of God, to preach the false revelations of the said
Nun, when the time should require, if warning were given them; and some
of these preachers have confessed openly, and subscribed their names to
their confessions, that if the Nun had so sent them word, they would
have preached to the king's subjects that the pleasure of God was that
they should take him no longer for their king; and some of these
preachers were such as gave themselves to great fasting, watching, long
prayers, wearing of shirts of hair and great chains of iron about their
middle, whereby the people had them in high estimation of their great
holiness,--and this strait life they took on them by the counsel and
exhortation of the said Nun."[203]

[Sidenote: First Catholic treason.]

Here, then, was the explanation of the attitude of Catherine and Mary.
Smarting under injustice, and most naturally blending their private
quarrel with the cause of the church, they had listened to these
disordered visions as to a message from heaven, and they had lent
themselves to the first of those religious conspiracies which held
England in chronic agitation for three quarters of a century. The
innocent Saint at Bugden was the forerunner of the prisoner at
Fotheringay; and the Observant friars, with their chain girdles and
shirts of hair, were the antitypes of Parsons and Campion. How critical
the situation of England really was, appears from the following letter
of the French ambassador. The project for the marriage of the Princess
Mary with the Dauphin had been revived by the Catholic party; and a
private arrangement, of which this marriage was to form the connecting
link, was contemplated between the Ultramontanes in France, the pope,
and the emperor.

  _D'Inteville to Cardinal Tournon._[204]

"MY LORD,--You will be so good as to tell the Most Christian king that
the emperor's ambassador has communicated with the old queen. The
emperor sends a message to her and to her daughter, that he will not
return to Spain till he has seen them restored to their rights.

"The people are so much attached to the said ladies that they will rise
in rebellion, and join any prince who will undertake their quarrel. You
probably know from other quarters the intensity of this feeling. It is
shared by all classes, high and low, and penetrates even into the royal

"The nation is in marvellous discontent. Every one but the relations of
the present queen, is indignant on the ladies' account. Some fear the
overthrow of religion; others fear war and injury to trade. Up to this
time, the cloth, hides, wool, lead, and other merchandize of England
have found markets in Flanders, Spain, and Italy; now it is thought
navigation will be so dangerous that English merchants must equip their
ships for war if they trade to foreign countries; and besides the risk
of losing all to the enemy, the expense of the armament will swallow the
profits of the voyage. In like manner, the emperor's subjects and the
pope's subjects will not be able to trade with England. The coasts will
be blockaded by the ships of the emperor and his allies; and at this
moment men's fears are aggravated by the unseasonable weather throughout
the summer, and the failure of the crops. There is not corn enough for
half the ordinary consumption.

"The common people, foreseeing these inconveniences, are so violent
against the queen, that they say a thousand shameful things of her, and
of all who have supported her in her intrigues. On them is cast the
odium of all the calamities anticipated from the war.

"When the war comes, no one doubts that the people will rebel as much
from fear of the dangers which I have mentioned, as from the love which
is felt for the two ladies, and especially for the Princess. She is so
entirely beloved that, notwithstanding the law made at the last
Parliament, and the menace of death contained in it, they persist in
regarding her as Princess. No Parliament, they say, can make her
anything but the king's daughter, born in marriage; and so the king and
every one else regarded her before that Parliament.

"Lately, when she was removed from Greenwich, a vast crowd of women,
wives of citizens and others, walked before her at their husbands'
desire, weeping and crying that notwithstanding all she was Princess.
Some of them were sent to the Tower, but they would not retract.

"Things are now so critical, and the fear of war is so general, that
many of the greatest merchants in London have placed themselves in
communication with the emperor's ambassador, telling him, that if the
emperor will declare war, the English nation will join him for the love
they bear the Lady Mary.

"You, my Lord, will remember that when you were here, it was said you
were come to tell the king that he was excommunicated, and to demand the
hand of the Princess for the Dauphin. The people were so delighted that
they have never ceased to pray for you. We too, when we arrived in
London, were told that the people were praying for us. They thought our
embassy was to the Princess. They imagined her marriage with the Dauphin
had been determined on by the two kings, and the satisfaction was
intense and universal.

"They believe that, except by this marriage, they cannot possibly escape
war; whereas, can it be brought about, they will have peace with the
emperor and all other Christian princes. They are now so disturbed and
so desperate that, although at one time they would have preferred a
husband for her from among themselves, that they might not have a
foreign king, there now is nothing which they desire more. Unless the
Dauphin will take her, they say she will continue disinherited; or, if
she come to her rights, it can only be by battle, to the great
incommodity of the country. The Princess herself says publicly that the
Dauphin is her husband, and that she has no hope but in him. I have been
told this by persons who have heard it from her own lips.

"The emperor's ambassador inquired, after you came, whether we had seen
her. He said he knew she was most anxious to speak with us; she thought
we had permission to visit her, and she looked for good news. He told
us, among other things, that she had been more strictly guarded of late,
by the orders of the queen that now is, who, knowing her feeling for the
Dauphin, feared there might be some practice with her, or some attempt
to carry her off.

"The Princess's ladies say that she calls herself the Dauphin's wife. A
time will come, she says, when God will see that she has suffered pain
and tribulation sufficient; the Dauphin will then demand her of the king
her father, and the king her father will not be able to refuse.

"The lady who was my informant heard, also, from the Princess, that her
governess, and the other attendants whom the queen had set to watch her,
had assured her that the Dauphin was married to the daughter of the
emperor; but she, the Princess, had answered it was not true--the
Dauphin could not have two wives, and they well knew that she was his
wife: they told her that story, she said, to make her despair, and agree
to give up her rights; but she would never part with her hopes.

"You may have heard of the storm that broke out between her and her
governess when we went to visit her little sister. She was carried off
by force to her room, that she might not speak with us; and they could
neither pacify her nor keep her still, till the gentleman who escorted
us told her he had the king's commands that she was not to show herself
while we were in the house. You remember the message the same gentleman
brought to you from her, and the charge which was given by the queen.

"Could the king be brought to consent to the marriage, it would be a
fair union of two realms, and to annex Britain to the crown of France
would be a great honour to our Sovereign; the English party desire
nothing better; the pope will be glad of it; the pope fears that, if war
break out again, France will draw closer to England on the terms which
the King of England desires; and he may thus lose the French tribute as
he has lost the English. He therefore will urge the emperor to agree,
and the emperor will assist gladly for the love which he bears to his

"If the emperor be willing, the King of England can then be informed;
and he can be made to feel that, if he will avoid war, he must not
refuse his consent. The king, in fact, has no wish to disown the
Princess, and he knows well that the marriage with the Dauphin was once
agreed on.

"Should he be unwilling, and should his wife's persuasions still have
influence with him, he will hesitate before he will defy, for her sake,
the King of France and the emperor united. His regard for the queen is
less than it was, and diminishes every day. He has a new fancy,[205] as
you are aware."

       *       *       *       *       *

The actual conspiracy, in the form which it had so far assumed, was
rather an appeal to fanaticism than a plot which could have laid hold of
the deeper mind of the country; but as an indication of the unrest
which was stealing over the minds of men, it assumed an importance which
it would not have received from its intrinsic character.

[Sidenote: The Nun and the five monks brought to trial.]

The guilt of the principal offenders admitted of no doubt. As soon as
the commissioners were satisfied that there was nothing further to be
discovered, the Nun, with the monks, was brought to trial before the
Star Chamber; and conviction followed as a matter of course.[206]

[Sidenote: They make their confessions at St. Paul's.]

The unhappy girl finding herself at this conclusion, after seven years
of vanity, in which she had played with popes, and queens, and
princesses, and archbishops, now, when the dream was thus rudely broken,
in the revulsion of feeling could see nothing in herself but a convicted
impostor. We need not refuse to pity her. The misfortunes of her
sickness had exposed her to temptations far beyond the strength of an
ordinary woman; and the guilt which she passionately claimed for herself
rested far more truly with the knavery of the Christ Church monks and
the incredible folly of Archbishop Warham.[207] But the times were too
stern to admit of nice distinctions. No immediate sentence was
pronounced, but it was thought desirable for the satisfaction of the
people that a confession should be made in public by the Nun and her
companions. The Sunday following their trial they were placed on a
raised platform at Paul's Cross by the side of the pulpit, and when the
sermon was over they one by one delivered their "bills" to the preacher,
which by him were read to the crowd.[208]

After an acknowledgment of their imposture the prisoners were remanded
to the Tower, and their ultimate fate reserved for the consideration of
parliament, which was to meet in the middle of January.

[Sidenote: The household of the Princess Mary is broken up.]

[Sidenote: The inquiry is prosecuted further.]

[Sidenote: The Countess of Salisbury.]

The chief offenders being thus disposed of, the council resolved next
that peremptory measures should be taken with respect to the Princess
Mary.[209] Her establishment was broken up, and she was sent to reside
as the Lady Mary in the household of the Princess Elizabeth--a hard but
not unwholesome discipline.[210] As soon as this was done, being
satisfied that the leading shoot of the conspiracy was broken, and that
no immediate danger was now to be feared, they proceeded leisurely to
follow the clue of the Nun's confession, and to extend their inquiries.
The Countess of Salisbury was mentioned as one of the persons with whom
the woman had been in correspondence. This lady was the daughter of the
Duke of Clarence, brother of Edward IV. Her mother was a Neville, a
child of Richard the King-maker, the famous Earl of Warwick, and her
only brother had been murdered to secure the shaking throne of Henry
VII. Margaret Plantagenet, in recompense for the lost honours of the
house, was made Countess of Salisbury in her own right. The title
descended from her grandfather, who was Earl of Salisbury and Warwick;
but the prouder title had been dropped as suggestive of dangerous
associations. The Earldom of Warwick remained in abeyance, and the
castle and the estates attached to it were forfeited to the Crown. The
countess was married after her brother's death to a Sir Richard Pole, a
supporter and relation[211] of the king; and when left a widow she
received from Henry VIII. the respectful honour which was due to the
most nobly born of his subjects, the only remaining Plantagenet of
unblemished descent. In his kindness to her children the king had
attempted to obliterate the recollection of her brother's wrongs, and
she had been herself selected to preside over the household of the
Princess Mary. During the first twenty years of Henry's reign the
countess seems to have acknowledged his attentions with loyal regard,
and if she had not forgotten her birth and her childhood, she never
connected herself with the attempts which during that time were made to
revive the feuds of the houses. Richard de la Pole, nephew of Edward
IV.,[212] and called while he lived "the White Rose," had more than once
endeavoured to excite an insurrection in the eastern counties; but Lady
Salisbury was never suspected of holding intercourse with him; she
remained aloof from political disputes, and in lofty retirement she was
contented to forget her greatness for the sake of the Princess Mary, to
whom she and her family were deeply attached. Her relations with the
king had thus continued undisturbed until his second marriage. As the
representative of the House of York she was the object of the hopes and
affections of the remnants of their party, but she had betrayed no
disposition to abuse her influence, or to disturb the quiet of the
nation for personal ambition of her own.

[Sidenote: Reginald Pole.]

[Sidenote: The Marquis of Exeter.]

[Sidenote: The Nevilles.]

[Sidenote: The strength of the White Rose faction.]

If it be lawful to interpret symptoms in themselves trifling by the
light of later events, it would seem as if her attitude now underwent a
material change. Her son Reginald had already quarrelled with the king
upon the divorce. He was in suspicious connexion with the pope, and
having been required to return home upon his allegiance, had refused
obedience. His mother, and his mother's attached friend, the Marchioness
of Exeter, we now find among those to whom the Nun of Kent communicated
her prophecies and her plans. It does not seem that the countess thought
at any time of reviving her own pretensions; it does seem that she was
ready to build a throne for the Princess Mary out of the ruined
supporters of her father's family. The power which she could wield might
at any moment become formidable. She had two sons in England, Lord
Montague and Sir Geoffrey Pole. Her cousin, the Marquis of Exeter, a
grandson himself of Edward IV.,[213] was, with the exception of the Duke
of Norfolk, the most powerful nobleman in the realm; and he, to judge by
events, was beginning to look coldly on the king.[214] We find her
surrounded also by the representatives of her mother's family,--Lord
Abergavenny, who had been under suspicion when the Duke of Buckingham
was executed, Sir Edward Neville, afterwards executed, Lord Latimer, Sir
George and Sir William Neville, all of them were her near connexions,
all collateral heirs of the King-maker, inheriting the pride of their
birth, and resentfully conscious of their fallen fortunes. The support
of a party so composed would have added formidable strength to the
preaching friars of the Nun of Kent; and as I cannot doubt that the Nun
was endeavouring to press her intrigues in a quarter where disaffection
if created would be most dangerous, so the lady who ruled this party
with a patriarchal authority had listened to her suggestions; and the
repeated interviews with her which, were sought by the Marchioness of
Exeter were rendered more than suspicious by the secresy with which
these interviews were conducted.[215]

[Sidenote: Examination on suspicion, of Sir William and Sir George

These circumstances explain the arrest, to which I alluded above, of Sir
William and Sir George Neville, brothers of Lord Latimer. They were not
among "the many noblemen" to whom the commissioners referred; for their
confessions remain, and contain no allusion to the Nun; but they were
examined at this particular time on general suspicion; and the arrest,
under such circumstances, of two near relatives of Lady Salisbury,
indicates clearly an alarm in the council, lest she might be
contemplating some serious movements. At any rate, either on her account
or on their own, the Nevilles fell under suspicion, and while they had
no crimes to reveal, their depositions, especially that of Sir William
Neville, furnish singular evidence of the temper of the times.

[Sidenote: Confession of Sir William Neville.]

The confession of the latter begins with an account of the loss of
certain silver spoons, for the recovery of which Sir William sent to a
wizard who resided in Cirencester. The wizard took the opportunity of
telling Sir William's fortune: his wife was to die, and he himself was
to marry an heiress, and be made a baron; with other prospective
splendours. The wizard concluded, however, with recommending him to pay
a visit to another dealer in the dark art more learned than himself,
whose name was Jones, at Oxford.

[Sidenote: Jones, the Oxford conjuror.]

"So after that," said Sir William [Midsummer, 1532], "I went to Oxford,
intending that my brother George and I should kill a buck with Sir Simon
Harcourt, which he had promised me; and there at Oxford, in the said
Jones's chamber, I did see certain stillatories, alembics, and other
instruments of glass, and also a sceptre and other things, which he said
did appertain to the conjuration of the four kings; and also an image of
white metal; and in a box, a serpent's skin, as he said, and divers
books and things, whereof one was a book which he said was my Lord
Cardinal's, having pictures in it like angels. He told me he could make
rings of gold, to obtain favour of great men; and said that my Lord
Cardinal had such; and promised my said brother and me, either of us,
one of them; and also he showed me a round thing like a ball of crystal.

"He said that if the King's Grace went over to France [the Calais visit
of October, 1532], his Grace should marry my Lady Marchioness of
Pembroke before that his Highness returned again; and that it would be
dangerous to his Grace, and to the most part of the noblemen that should
go with him; saying also that he had written to one of the king's
council to advise his Highness not to go over, for if he did, it should
not be for his Grace's profit."

[Sidenote: The Nevilles to recover the Earldom of Warwick.]

The wizard next pretended that he had seen a vision of a certain room in
a tower, in which a spirit had appeared with a coat of arms in his hand,
and had "delivered the same to Sir William Neville." The arms being
described as those of the Warwick family, Sir William, his brother, and
Jones rode down from Oxford to Warwick, where they went over the castle.
The wizard professed to recognise in a turret chamber the room in which
he had seen the spirit, and he prophesied that Sir William should
recover the earldom, the long-coveted prize of all the Neville family.

[Sidenote: Prophecy that none of Cadwallader's blood should reign more
than twenty-four years.]

On their return to Oxford, Jones, continues Sir William, said further,
"That there should be a field in the north about a se'nnight before
Christmas, in which my Lord my brother [Lord Latimer] should be slain;
the realm should be long without a king; and much robbery would be
within the realm, specially of abbeys and religious houses, and of rich
men, as merchants, graziers, and others; so that, if I would, he at that
time would advise me to find the means to enter into the said castle for
mine own safeguard, and divers persons would resort unto me. _None of
Cadwallader's blood_, he told me, _should reign more than twenty-four
years_; and also that Prince Edward [son of Henry VI. and Margaret of
Anjou, killed at Tewkesbury] had issue a son which was conveyed over
sea; and there had issue a son which was yet alive, either in Saxony or
Almayne; and that either he or the King of Scots should reign next after
the King's Grace that now is. To all which I answered," Sir William
concluded, "that there is nothing which the will of God is that a man
shall obtain, but that he of his goodness will put in his mind the way
whereby he shall come by it; and that surely I had no mind to follow any
such fashion; and that, also, the late Duke of Buckingham and others had
cast themselves away by too much trust in prophecies, and other
jeoparding of themselves, and therefore I would in no wise follow any
such way. He answered, if I would not, it would be long ere I obtained
it. Then I said I believed that well, and if it never came, I trusted to
God to live well enough."[216]

Sir George Neville confirmed generally his brother's story, protesting
that they had never intended treason, and that "at no time had he been
of counsel" when any treason was thought of.[217]

[Sidenote: The wizard summoned before the Council.]

[Sidenote: He undertakes to make the philosopher's stone, and will
jeopard his life upon it.]

The wizard himself was next sent for. The prophecies about the king he
denied wholly. He admitted that he had seen an angel in a dream giving
Sir William Neville the shield of the earldom in Warwick Castle, and
that he had accompanied the two brothers to Warwick, to examine the
tower. Beyond that, he said that he knew nothing either of them or of
their intentions. He declared himself a good subject, and he would
"jeopard his life" to make the philosopher's stone for the king in
twelve months if the king pleased to command him. He desired "no longer
space than twelve months upon silver and twelve and a half upon gold ";
to be kept in prison till he had done it; and it would be "better to the
King's Grace than a thousand men."[218]

[Sidenote: Evidence in these confessions of the unrest and agitation of
the country.]

The result of these examinations does not appear, except it be that the
Nevilles were dismissed without punishment; and the story itself may be
thought too trifling to have deserved a grave notice. I see in it,
however, an illustration very noticeworthy of the temper which was
working in the country. The suspicion of treason in the Neville family
may not have been confirmed, although we see them casting longing looks
on the lost inheritance of Warwick; but their confessions betray the
visions of impending change, anarchy, and confusion, which were haunting
the popular imagination. A craving after prophecies, a restless
eagerness to search into the future by abnormal means, had infected all
ranks from the highest to the lowest; and such symptoms, when they
appear, are a sure evidence of approaching disorder, for they are an
evidence of a present madness which has brought down wisdom to a common
level with folly. At such times, the idlest fancy is more potent with
the mind than the soundest arguments of reason. The understanding
abdicates its functions; and men are given over, as if by magic, to the
enchantments of insanity.

Phenomena of this eccentric kind always accompany periods of
intellectual change. Most men live and think by habit; and when habit
fails them, they are like unskilful sailors who have lost the landmarks
of their course, and have no compass and no celestial charts by which to
steer. In the years which preceded the French Revolution, Cagliostro was
the companion of princes,--at the dissolution of paganism the practicers
of curious arts, the witches and the necromancers, were the sole objects
of reverence in the Roman world; and so, before the Reformation,
archbishops and cardinals saw an inspired prophetess in a Kentish
servant-girl; Oxford heads of colleges sought out heretics with the help
of astrology; Anne Boleyn blessed a basin of rings, her royal fingers
pouring such virtue into the metal that no disorder could resist
it;[219] Wolsey had a magic crystal; and Cromwell, while in Wolsey's
household, "did haunt to the company of a wizard."[220] These things
were the counterpart of a religion which taught that slips of paper,
duly paid for, could secure indemnity for sin. It was well for England
that the chief captain at least was proof against the epidemic--no
random scandal seems ever to have whispered that such delusions had
touched the mind of the king.[221]

[Sidenote: The king incurs the censures of the church.]

While the government were prosecuting these inquiries at home, the law
at the Vatican had run its course; November passed, and as no submission
had arrived, the sentence of the 12th of July came into force, and the
king, the queen, and the Archbishop of Canterbury were declared to have
incurred the threatened censures.

[Sidenote: Measures of the Council.]

[Sidenote: Renewed suggestion of a Protestant league.]

The privy council met on the 2d of December, and was determined in
consequence that copies of the "Act of Appeals," and of the king's
"provocation" to a general council, should be fixed without delay on
every church-door in England. Protests were at the same time to be drawn
up and sent into Flanders, and to the other courts in Europe, "to the
intent the falsehood and injustice of the Bishop of Rome might appear to
all the world." The defences of the country were to be looked to; and
"spies" to be sent into Scotland to see "what they intended there," "and
whether they would confeder themselves with any outward princes."
Finally, it was proposed that the attempt to form an alliance with the
Lutheran powers should be renewed on a larger scale; that certain
discreet and grave persons should be appointed to conclude "some league
or amity with the princes of Germany,"--"that is to say, the King of
Poland, the King of Hungary,[222] the Duke of Saxony, the Duke of
Bavaria, the Duke of Brandenburg, the Landgrave of Hesse, and other
potentates."[223] Vaughan's mission had been merely tentative, and had
failed. Yet the offer of a league, offensive and defensive, the
immediate and avowed object of which was a general council at which the
Protestants should be represented, might easily succeed where vague
offers of amity had come to nothing. The formation of a Protestant
alliance, however, would have been equivalent to a declaration of war
against Catholic Europe; and it was a step which could not be taken,
consistently with the Treaty of Calais, without first communicating with

[Sidenote: The King writes to Francis, menacing him with this

[Sidenote: December 2.]

[Sidenote: A Protestant alliance highly desirable to put an end to the
usurpation of the pope.]

[Sidenote: He will not act, however, without first consulting his good

Henry, therefore, by the advice of the council, wrote a despatch to Sir
John Wallop, the ambassador at Paris, which was to be laid before the
French court. He explained the circumstances in which he was placed,
with the suggestion which the council had made to him. He gave a list of
the princes with whom he had been desired by his ministers to connect
himself,--and the object was nothing less than a coalition of Northern
Europe. He recapitulated the injuries which he had received from the
pope, who at length was studying "to subvert the rest and peace of the
realm "; "yea, and so much as in him was, utterly to destroy the same."
The nobles and council, he said, for their own sake as well as for the
sake of the kingdom, had entreated him to put an end, once for all, to
the pope's usurpation; and to invite the Protestant princes, for the
universal weal of Christendom, to unite in a common alliance. In his
present situation he was inclined to act upon this advice. "As
concerning his own realm, he had already taken such order with his
nobles and subjects, as he would shortly be able to give to the pope
such a buffet as he never had heretofore; "but as a German alliance was
a matter of great weight and importance, "although," he concluded, "we
consider it to be right expedient to set forth the same with all
diligence, yet we intend nothing to do therein without making our good
brother first privy thereunto. And for this cause and consideration
only, you may say that we have at this time addressed these letters unto
you, commanding you to declare our said purpose unto our good brother,
and to require of him on our behalf his good address and best advice. Of
his answer we require you to advertise us with all diligence, for
according thereunto we intend to attemper our proceedings. We have
lately had advertisements how that our said good brother should, by the
labour of divers affectionate Papists, be minded to set forth something
with his clergy in advancement of the pope and his desires. This we
cannot believe that he will do."[224]

[Sidenote: Meaning of this letter. He will join Germany sooner than
yield to the pope, but he trusts that Francis will not drive him to it.]

The meaning of this letter lies upon the surface. If the European powers
were determined to leave him no alternative, the king was prepared to
ally himself with the Lutherans. But however he might profess to desire
that alliance, it was evident that he would prefer, if possible, a less
extreme resource. The pope had ceased to be an object of concern to him;
but he could not contemplate, without extreme unwillingness, a
separation from the orderly governments who professed the Catholic
faith. The pope had injured him; Francis had deceived him; they had
tempted his patience because they knew his disposition. The limit of
endurance had been reached at length; yet, on the verge of the
concluding rupture, he turned once more, as if to offer a last
opportunity of peace.

[Sidenote: Mission of the Bishop of Paris to England.]

The reply of Francis was an immediate mission of the Bishop of Bayonne
(now Bishop of Paris), first into England, and from England to Rome,
where he was to endeavour, to the best of his ability, to seam together
the already gaping rent in the church with fair words--a hopeless
task--the results of which, however, were unexpectedly considerable, as
will be presently seen.

[Sidenote: Threatening attitude of the Court of Brussels.]

[Sidenote: The English ambassador requests the queen-regent to forbid
the publication of the papal censures in Flanders. She refuses.]

[Sidenote: December 15.]

[Sidenote: December 23.]

[Sidenote: Proposal to make Catherine or Mary Regent of the

[Sidenote: Charles waiting upon events.]

Meanwhile, on the side of Flanders, the atmosphere was dubious and
menacing. The refugee friars, who were reported to be well supplied with
money from England, were labouring to exasperate the people, Father Peto
especially distinguishing himself upon this service.[225] The English
ambassador, Sir John Hacket, still remained at Brussels, and the two
governments were formally at peace; but when Hacket required the
queen-regent to forbid the publication of the brief of July in the
Netherlands, he was met with a positive refusal. "M. Ambassador," she
said, "the Emperor, the King of Hungary, the Queen of France, the King
of Portugal, and I, understand what are the rights of our aunt--our duty
is to her--and such letters of the pope as come hither in her favour we
shall obey. Your master has no right to complain either of the emperor
or of myself, if we support our aunt in a just cause."[226] At the same
time, formal complaints were made by Charles of the personal treatment
of Queen Catherine, and the clouds appeared to be gathering for a storm.
Yet here, too, there was an evident shrinking from extremities. A Welsh
gentleman had been at Brussels to offer his services against Henry, and
had met with apparent coldness. Sir John Hacket wrote, on the 15th of
December, that he was assured by well-informed persons, that so long as
Charles lived, he would never be the first to begin a war with England,
"which would rebound to the destruction of the Low Countries."[227] A
week later, when the queen-regent was suffering from an alarming
illness, he said it was reported that, should she die, Catherine or
Mary, if either of them was allowed to leave England, would be held
"meet to have governance of the Low Countries."[228] This was a generous
step, if the emperor seriously contemplated it. The failure of the Nun
of Kent had perhaps taught him that there was no present prospect of a
successful insurrection. In his conduct towards England, he was
seemingly governing himself by the prospect which might open for a
successful attack upon it. If occasion offered to strike the government
in connexion with an efficient Catholic party in the nation itself, he
would not fail to avail himself of it.[229] Otherwise, he would perhaps
content himself with an attitude of inactive menace; unless menaced
himself by a Protestant confederation.

[Sidenote: January 15. Meeting of parliament.]

Amidst these uneasy symptoms at home and abroad, parliament reassembled
on the 15th of January. It was a changed England since these men first
came together on the fall of Wolsey. Session after session had been
spent in clipping the roots of the old tree which had overshadowed them
for centuries. On their present meeting they were to finish their work,
and lay it prostrate for ever. Negotiations were still pending with the
See of Rome, and this momentous session had closed before the final
catastrophe. The measures which were passed in the course of it are not,
therefore, to be looked upon as adopted hastily, in a spirit of
retaliation, but as the consistent accomplishment of a course which had
been deliberately adopted, to reverse the positions of the civil and
spiritual authority within the realm, and to withdraw the realm itself
from all dependence on a foreign power.

The Annates and Firstfruits' Bill had not yet received the royal assent;
but the pope had refused to grant the bulls for bishops recently
appointed, and he was no longer to receive payment for services which he
refused to render. Peter's pence were still paid, and might continue to
be paid, if the pope would recollect himself; but, like the Sibyl of
Cuma, Henry destroyed some fresh privilege with each delay of justice,
demanding the same price for the preservation of what remained. The
secondary streams of tribute now only remained to the Roman See; and
communion with the English church, which it was for Clement to accept or

[Sidenote: Opening business of the session.]

[Sidenote: Perils of the Reformation.]

The circumstances under which the session opened were, however, grave
and saddening. Simultaneously with the concluding legislation on the
church, the succession to the throne was to be determined in terms which
might, perhaps, be accepted as a declaration of war by the emperor; and
the affair of the Nun of Kent had rendered necessary an inquiry into the
conduct of honoured members of the two Houses, who were lying under the
shadow of high treason. The conditions were for the first time to be
plainly seen under which the Reformation was to fight its way. The road
which lay before it was beset not merely with external obstacles, which
a strong will and a strong hand could crush, but with the phantoms of
dying faiths, which haunted the hearts of all living men; the
superstitions, the prejudices, the hopes, the fears, the passions, which
swayed stormily and fitfully through the minds of every actor in the
great drama.

[Sidenote: Cromwell only sees his way clearly.]

The uniformity of action in the parliament of 1529, during the seven
years which it continued, is due to the one man who saw his way
distinctly, Thomas Cromwell. The nation was substantially united on the
divorce question, could the divorce be secured without a rupture with
the European powers. It was united also on the necessity of limiting the
jurisdiction of the clergy, and cutting short the powers of the
consistory courts. But in questions of "opinion" there was the most
sensitive jealousy; and from the combined instincts of prejudice and
conservatism, the majority of the country in a count of heads would
undoubtedly have been against a separation from Rome.

[Sidenote: Struggle in Henry's mind between light and darkness.]

[Sidenote: Danger of reaction.]

[Sidenote: Peculiarity of Cromwell's genius.]

The clergy professed to approve the acts of the government, but it was
for the most part with the unwilling acquiescence of men who were
without courage to refuse. The king was divided against himself. Nine
days in ten he was the clear-headed, energetic, powerful statesman; on,
the tenth he was looking wistfully to the superstition which he had
left, and the clear sunshine was darkened with theological clouds, which
broke in lightning and persecution. Thus there was danger at any moment
of a reaction, unless opportunity was taken at the flood, unless the
work was executed too completely to admit of reconsideration, and the
nation committed to a course from which it was impossible to recede. The
action of the conservatives was paralysed for the time by the want of a
fixed purpose. The various parts of the movement were so skilfully
linked together, that partial opposition to it was impossible; and so
long as the people had to choose between the pope and the king, their
loyalty would not allow them to hesitate. But very few men actively
adhered to Cromwell. Cromwell had struck the line on which the forces
of nature were truly moving,--the resultant, not of the victory of
either of the extreme parties, but of the joint action of their opposing
forces. To him belonged the rare privilege of genius, to see what other
men could not see; and therefore he was condemned to rule a generation
which hated him, to do the will of God, and to perish in his success. He
had no party. By the nobles he was regarded with the same mixed contempt
and fear which had been felt for Wolsey. The Protestants, perhaps, knew
what he was, but he could only purchase their toleration by himself
checking their extravagance. Latimer was the only person of real power
on whose friendship he could calculate, and Latimer was too plain-spoken
on dangerous questions to be useful as a political supporter.

The session commenced on the 15th of January.

[Sidenote: The clergy make their final submission.]

[Sidenote: Mixed Commission, intended for the revision of the Canon

The first step was to receive the final submission of convocation. The
undignified resistance was at last over, and the clergy had promised to
abstain for the future from unlicensed legislation. To secure their
adherence to their engagements, an act[230] was passed to make the
breach of that engagement penal; and a commission of thirty-two persons,
half of whom were to be laymen, was designed for the revision of the
Canon law.[231]

[Sidenote: Reform in the law for the prosecution of heretics.]

The next most important movement was to assimilate the trials for heresy
with the trials for other criminal offences. I have already explained at
length the manner in which the bishops abused their judicial powers.
These powers were not absolutely taken away, but ecclesiastics were no
longer permitted to arrest _ex officio_ and examine at their pleasure.
Where a charge of heresy was to be brought against a man, presentments
were to be made by lawful witnesses before justices of the peace; and
then, and not otherwise, he might fall under the authority of the
"ordinary." Secret examinations were declared illegal. The offender was
to be tried in open court, and, previous to his trial, had a right to be
admitted to bail, unless the bishop could show cause to the contrary to
the satisfaction of two magistrates.[232]

This was but a slight instalment of lenity; but it was an indication of
the turning tide. Limited as it was, the act operated as an effective
check upon persecution till the passing of the Six Articles Bill.

[Sidenote: The Annates Act having received the royal assent,]

[Sidenote: An alteration is necessary in the mode of electing bishops.]

[Sidenote: The Chapters had gradually lost the privileges granted to
them by the Great Charter.]

[Sidenote: The nomination had virtually rested with the crown.]

[Sidenote: Difficulty of re-arrangement. The _congé d'élire_.]

Turning next to the relations between England and Rome, the parliament
reviewed the Annates Act,[233] which had been left unratified in the
hope that the pope might have consented to a compromise, and that "by
some gentle ways the said exaction might have been redressed and
reformed." The expectation had been disappointed. The pope had not
condescended to reply to the communication which had been made to him,
and the act had in consequence received the royal assent. An alteration
had thus become necessary in the manner of presentation to vacant
bishoprics. The anomalies of the existing practice have been already
described. By the Great Charter the chapters had acquired the right of
free election. A _congé d'élire_ was granted by the king on the
occurrence of a vacancy, with no attempt at a nomination. The chapters
were supposed to make their choice freely, and the name of the
bishop-elect was forwarded to the pope, who returned the Pallium and the
Bulls, receiving the Annates in exchange. The pope's part in the matter
was now terminated. No Annates would be sent any longer to Rome, and no
Bulls would be returned from Rome. The appointments lay between the
chapters and the crown; and it might have seemed, at first sight, as if
it would have been sufficient to omit the reference to the papacy, and
as if the remaining forms might continue as they were. The chapters,
however, had virtually long ceased to elect freely; the crown had
absorbed the entire functions of presentation, sometimes appointing
foreigners,[234] sometimes allowing the great ecclesiastical ministers
to nominate themselves;[235] while the rights of the chapters, though
existing in theory, were not officially recognised either by the pope or
by the crown. The king affected to accept the names of the
prelates-elect, when returned to him from Rome, as nominations by the
pope; and the pope, in communicating with the chapters, presented them
with their bishops as from himself.[236] The papal share in the matter
was a shadow, but it was acknowledged under the forms of courtesy; the
share of the chapters was wholly and absolutely ignored. The crisis of a
revolution was not the moment at which their legal privileges could be
safely restored to them. The problem of re-arrangement was a difficult
one, and it was met in a manner peculiarly English. The practice of
granting the _congé d'élire_ to the chapters on the occurrence of a
vacancy, which had fallen into desuetude, was again adopted, and the
church resumed the forms of liberty: but the licence to elect a bishop
was to be accompanied with the name of the person whom the chapter was
required to elect; and if within twelve days the person so named had not
been chosen, the nomination of the crown was to become absolute, and the
chapter would incur a Premunire.[237]

[Sidenote: Peter's Pence and other forms of tribute paid to Rome

[Sidenote: Conditional abolition of the papal authority in England.]

[Sidenote: Three months allowed to the pope to decide.]

This act, which I conceive to have been more arbitrary in form than in
intention, was followed by a closing attack upon the remaining
"exactions" of the Bishop of Rome. The Annates were gone. There were yet
to go, "Pensions, Censes, Peter's Pence, Procurations, Fruits, Suits for
Provision, Delegacies and Rescripts in causes of Contention and Appeals,
Jurisdictions legatine--also Dispensations, Licenses, Faculties, Grants,
Relaxations, Writs called Perinde valere, Rehabilitations, Abolitions,"
with other unnamed (the parliament being wearied of naming them)
"infinite sorts of Rules, Briefs, and instruments of sundry natures,
names, and kinds." All these were perennially open sluices, which had
drained England of its wealth for centuries, returning only in showers
of paper; and the Commons were determined that streams so unremunerative
should flow no longer. They conceived that they had been all along
imposed upon, and that the "Bishop of Rome was to be blamed for having
allured and beguiled the English nation, persuading them that he had
power to dispense with human laws, uses, and customs, contrary to right
and conscience." If the king so pleased, therefore, they would not be so
beguiled any more. These and all similar exactions should cease; and all
powers claimed by the Bishop of Rome within the realm should cease, and
should be transferred to the crown. At the same time they would not
press upon the pope too hardly; they would repeat the same conditions
which they had offered with the Annates. He had received these revenues
as the supreme judge in the highest court in Europe, and he might retain
his revenues or receive compensation for them, if he dared to be just.
It was for himself to resolve, and three months allowed for a final

[Sidenote: The Commons make a general declaration that in separating
from the pope, they are not separating from the unity of the faith.]

In conclusion, the Commons thought it well to assert that they were
separating, not from the church of Christ, but only from the papacy. A
judge who allowed himself to be overawed against his conscience by a
secular power, could not any longer be recognised; but no thing or
things contained in the act should be afterwards "interpreted or
expounded, that his Grace (the king), his nobles and subjects, intended
by the same to decline or vary from the congregation of Christ's church
in anything concerning the articles of the Catholic faith of
Christendom, or in any other things declared by the Holy Scripture and
the Word of God necessary for salvation; but only to make an ordinance,
by policies necessary and convenient, to repress vice, and for the good
conservation of the realm in peace, unity, and tranquillity, from ravin
and spoil--ensuing much the old antient customs of the realm in that

[Sidenote: February 18.]

[Sidenote: Bill of attainder against the Nun of Kent and her

The most arduous business was thus finished--the most painful remained.
The Nun of Kent and her accomplices were to be proceeded against by act
of parliament; and the bill of their attainder was presented for the
first time in the House of Lords, on the 18th of February. The offence
of the principal conspirators was plainly high treason; their own
confessions removed uncertainty; the guilt was clear--the sentence was
inevitable. But the fault of those who had been listeners only was less
easy of measurement, and might vary from comparative innocence to a
definite breach of allegiance.

[Sidenote: The Bishop of Rochester and Sir Thomas More]

The government were unwilling to press with severity on the noble lords
and ladies whose names had been unexpectedly brought to light; and there
were two men of high rank only, whose complicity it was thought
necessary to notice. The Bishop of Rochester's connexion with the Nun
had been culpably encouraging; and the responsibility of Sir Thomas More
was held also to be very great in having countenanced, however lightly,
such perilous schemers.

[Sidenote: Declared in the first reading of the bill guilty of
misprision of treason.]

[Sidenote: Private communications are made to them by Cromwell that the
king will accept their apology.]

In the bill, therefore, as it was first read, More and Fisher found
themselves declared guilty of misprision of treason. But the object of
this measure was rather to warn than to punish, nor was there any real
intention of continuing their prosecution. Cromwell, under instructions
from the king, had communicated privately with both of them. He had sent
a message to Fisher through his brother, telling him that he had only to
ask for forgiveness to receive it;[239] and he had begged More through
his son-in-law, Mr. Roper, to furnish him with an explicit account of
what had passed at any time between himself and the Nun,[240] with an
intimation that, if honestly made, it would be accepted in his favour.

[Sidenote: Sir Thomas More complies elaborately and reasonably.]

[Sidenote: More is pardoned.]

These advances were met by More in the spirit in which they were
offered. He heartily thanked Cromwell, "reckoning himself right deeply
beholden to him;"[241] and replied with a long, minute, and evidently
veracious story, detailing an interview which he had held with the woman
in the chapel of Sion Monastery. He sent at the same time a copy of a
letter which he had written to her, and described various conversations
with the friars who were concerned in the forgery. He did not deny that
he had believed the Nun to have been inspired, or that he had heard of
the language which she was in the habit of using respecting the king. He
protested, however, that he had himself never entertained a treasonable
thought. He told Cromwell that "he had done a very meritorious deed in
bringing forth to light such detestable hypocrisy, whereby every other
wretch might take warning, and be feared to set forth their devilish
dissembled falsehoods under the manner and colour of the wonderful work
of God."[242] More's offence had not been great. His acknowledgments
were open and unreserved; and Cromwell laid his letter before the king,
adding his own intercession that the matter might be passed over. Henry
consented, expressing only his grief and concern that Sir Thomas More
should have acted so unwisely.[243] He required, nevertheless, as
Cromwell suggested, that a formal letter should be written, with a
confession of fault, and a request for forgiveness. More obeyed; he
wrote, gracefully reminding the king of a promise when he resigned the
chancellorship, that in any suit which he might afterwards have to his
Grace, either touching his honour or his profit, he should find his
Highness his good and gracious lord.[244] Henry acknowledged his claim;
his name was struck out of the bill, and the prosecution against him was

[Sidenote: Fisher is obstinate. His fault had been deeper than More's;
yet he undertakes to defend it.]

[Sidenote: Folly of his position;]

Fisher's conduct was very different; his fault had been far greater than
More's, and promises more explicit had been held out to him of
forgiveness. He replied to these promises by an elaborate and ridiculous
defence,--not writing to the king, as Cromwell desired him, but
vindicating himself as having committed no fault; although he had
listened eagerly to language which was only pardonable on the assumption
that it was inspired, and had encouraged a nest of fanatics by his
childish credulity. The Nun "had showed him not," he said, "that any
prince or temporal lord should put the king in danger of his crown." He
knew nothing of the intended insurrection. He believed the woman to have
been a saint; he supposed that she had herself told the king all which
she had told to him; and therefore he said that he had nothing for which
to reproach himself.[245] He was unable to see that the exposure of the
imposture had imparted a fresh character to his conduct, which he was
bound to regret. Knowingly or unknowingly, he had lent his countenance
to a conspiracy; and so long as he refused to acknowledge his
indiscretion, the government necessarily would interpret his actions in
the manner least to his advantage.

[Sidenote: Which Cromwell exposes,]

[Sidenote: And once more urges him to apologize.]

If he desired that his conduct should be forgotten, it was indispensable
that he should change his attitude, and so Cromwell warned him. "Ye
desire," the latter wrote, "for the passion of Christ, that ye be no
more quickened in this matter; for if ye be put to that strait ye will
not lose your soul, but ye will speak as your conscience leadeth you;
with many more words of great courage. My Lord, if ye had taken my
counsel sent unto you by your brother, and followed the same, submitting
yourself by your letter to the King's Grace for your offences in this
behalf, I would have trusted that ye should never be quickened in the
matter more. But now where ye take upon you to defy the whole matter as
ye were in no default, I cannot so far promise you. Wherefore, my Lord,
I would eftsoons advise you that, laying apart all such excuses as ye
have alleged in your letters, which in my opinion be of small effect, ye
beseech the King's Grace to be your gracious lord, and to remit unto you
your negligence, oversight, and offence committed against his Highness
in this behalf; and I dare undertake that his Highness shall benignly
accept you into his gracious favour, all matter of displeasure past
afore this time forgotten and forgiven."[246]

[Sidenote: Fisher again refuses, and sends in his defence to the House
of Lords.]

Fisher must have been a hopelessly impracticable person. Instead of
following More's example, and accepting well-meant advice, he persisted
in the same tone, and drew up an address to the House of Lords, in which
he repeated the defence which he had made to Cromwell. He expressed no
sorrow that he had been engaged in a criminal intrigue, no pleasure that
the intrigue had been discovered; and he doggedly adhered to his
assertions of his own innocence.[247]

[Sidenote: March 6. The bill passes.]

[Sidenote: The Nun and the monks to be executed. The Bishop of Rochester
and Father Abel to be imprisoned with forfeiture of goods.]

There was nothing to be done except to proceed with his attainder. The
bill passed three readings, and the various prisoners were summoned to
the Star Chamber to be heard in arrest of judgment. The Bishop of
Rochester's attendance was dispensed with on the ground of illness, and
because he had made his defence in writing.[248] Nothing of consequence
was urged by either of the accused. The bill was most explicit in its
details, going carefully through the history of the imposture, and
dwelling on the separate acts of each offender. They were able to
disprove no one of its clauses, and on the 12th of March it was read a
last time. On the 21st it received the royal assent, and there remained
only to execute the sentence. The Nun herself, Richard Masters, and the
five friars being found guilty of high treason, were to die; the Bishop
of Rochester, Father Abel, Queen Catherine's confessor, and four more,
were sentenced for misprision of treason to forfeiture of goods and
imprisonment. All other persons implicated, whose names did not appear,
were declared pardoned at the intercession of Queen Anne.[249]

[Sidenote: April 21.]

The chief offenders suffered at Tyburn on the 21st of April, meeting
death calmly, as it appears; receiving a fate most necessary and most
deserved,[250] yet claiming from us that partial respect which is due to
all persons who will risk their lives in an unselfish cause. For the
Nun herself, we may feel even a less qualified regret. Before her death
she was permitted to speak a few words to the people, which at the
distance of three centuries will not be read without emotion.

[Sidenote: Last words of the Nun at Tyburn.]

"Hither am I come to die," she said, "and I have not been the only cause
of mine own death, which most justly I have deserved; but also I am the
cause of the death of all these persons which at this time here suffer.
And yet I am not so much to be blamed, considering that it was well
known unto these learned men that I was a poor wench without learning;
and therefore they might have easily perceived that the things which
were done by me could not proceed in no such sort; but their capacities
and learning could right well judge that they were altogether feigned.
But because the things which I feigned were profitable unto them,
therefore they much praised me, and bare me in hand that it was the Holy
Ghost and not I that did them. And I being puffed up with their praises,
fell into a pride and foolish fantasye with myself, and thought I might
feign what I would, which thing hath brought me to this case, and for
the which I now cry God and the King's Highness most heartily mercy, and
desire all you good people to pray to God to have mercy on me, and on
all them that here suffer with me."[251]

[Sidenote: Fisher, in spite of himself, is left unpunished.]

The inferior confederates were committed to their prisons with the
exception only of Fisher, who, though sentenced, found mercy thrust upon
him, till by fresh provocation the miserable old man forced himself upon
his fate.[252]

[Sidenote: The Act of Succession.]

[Sidenote: The necessity of it.]

And now the closing seal was to be affixed to the agitation of the great
question of the preceding years. I have said that throughout these years
the uncertainty of the succession had been the continual anxiety of the
nation. The birth of a prince or princess could alone provide an
absolute security; and to beget a prince appeared to be the single feat
which Henry was unable to accomplish. The marriage so dearly bought had
been followed as yet only by a girl; and if the king were to die,
leaving two daughters circumstanced as Mary and Elizabeth were
circumstanced, a dispute would open which the sword only could decide.
To escape the certainty of civil war, therefore, it was necessary to lay
down the line of inheritance by a peremptory order; to cut off
resolutely all rival claims; and, in legislating upon a matter so vital,
and hitherto so uncertain and indeterminate, to enforce the decision
with the most stringent and exacting penalties. From the Heptarchy
downwards English history furnished no fixed rule of inheritance, but
only a series of precedents of uncertainty; and while at no previous
time had the circumstances of the succession been of a nature so
legitimately embarrassing, the relations of England with the pope and
with foreign powers doubly enhanced the danger. But I will not use my
own language on so important a subject. The preamble of the Act of
Succession is the best interpreter of the provisions of that act.

[Sidenote: Inasmuch as the only unquestioned title to the throne lies in
the king, and in his natural heirs;]

[Sidenote: And inasmuch as in times past a disputed succession has on
many occasions caused confusion and bloodshed in the realm,]

[Sidenote: Because there has been no fixed order or rule of

[Sidenote: And because the intrigues of the popes and of foreign princes
have created sedition and confusion,]

"In their most humble wise show unto your Majesty your most humble and
obedient subjects, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal and the Commons, in
this present parliament assembled; that since it is the natural
inclination of every man gladly and willingly to provide for the safety
of both his title and succession, although it touch only his private
cause; we therefore, most rightful and dreadful Sovereign Lord, reckon
ourselves much more bounden to beseech and intreat your Highness
(although we doubt not of your princely heart and wisdom, mixed with a
natural affection to the same) to foresee and provide for the most
perfect surety of both you and of your most lawful successors and heirs,
upon which dependeth all our joy and wealth; in whom also is united and
knit the only mere true inheritance and title of this realm without any
contradiction. We, your said most humble and obedient servants, call to
our remembrance the great divisions which in times past hath been in
this realm by reason of several titles pretended to the imperial crown
of the same; which some time and for the most part ensued by occasion of
ambiguity, and [by] doubts then not so perfectly declared but that men
might upon froward intents expound them to every man's sinister appetite
and affection after their senses; whereof hath ensued great destruction
and effusion of man's blood, as well of a great number of the nobles as
of other the subjects and specially inheritors in the same. The greatest
occasion thereof hath been because no perfect and substantial provision
by law hath been made within this realm itself when doubts and questions
have been moved; by reason whereof the Bishops of Rome and See Apostolic
have presumed in times past to invest who should please them to inherit
in other men's kingdoms and dominions, which thing we your most humble
subjects, both spiritual and temporal, do much abhor and detest. And
sometimes other foreign princes and potentates of sundry degrees,
minding rather dissension and discord to continue in the realm than
charity, equity, or unity, have many times supported wrong titles,
whereby they might the more easily and facilly aspire to the superiority
of the same.

[Sidenote: The king's subjects intreat his Highness for their better
security after his death, that it may be enacted by authority of

"The continuance and sufferance of these things, deeply considered and
pondered, is too dangerous and perilous to be suffered any longer; and
too much contrary to unity, peace, and tranquillity, being greatly
reproachable and dishonourable to the whole realm. And in consideration
thereof, your said subjects, calling further to their remembrance, that
the good unity, peace, and wealth of the realm, specially and
principally, above all worldly things, consisteth in the surety and
certainty of the procreation and posterity of your Highness, in whose
most Royal person at this time is no manner of doubt, do therefore most
humbly beseech your Highness that it may be enacted, with the consent of
the Lords Spiritual and Temporal and the Commons in this present
parliament assembled--

[Sidenote: 1. That the marriage with the Lady Catherine was invalid from
the beginning.]

"1. That the marriage between your Highness and the Lady Catherine,
widow of the late Prince Arthur, be declared to have been from the
beginning, null, the issue of it illegitimate, the separation pronounced
by the Archbishop of Canterbury good and valid.

[Sidenote: 2. That the marriage with Queen Anne is good and sincere.]

"2. That the marriage between your Highness and your most dear and
entirely beloved wife, Queen Anne, be established and held good, and
taken for undoubtful, true, sincere, and perfect, ever hereafter."[253]

[Sidenote: That the issue of the king by Queen Anne shall succeed,]

[Sidenote: And that whoever by word or deed impugned the legitimacy of
that issue, shall be held guilty of treason.]

The act then assumed a general character, laying down a table of
prohibited degrees, within which marriage might not under any pretence
be in future contracted; and demanding that any marriage which might
already exist within those degrees should be at once dissolved. After
this provision, it again returned to the king, and fixed the order in
which his children by Queen Anne were to succeed. The details of the
regulations were minute and elaborate, and the rule to be observed was
the same as that which exists at present. First, the sons were to
succeed with their heirs; if sons failed, then the daughters, with their
heirs. And, in conclusion, it was resolved, that any person who should
maliciously do anything by writing, printing, or other external act or
deed to the peril of the king, or to the prejudice of his marriage with
Queen Anne, or to the derogation of the issue of that marriage, should
be held guilty of high treason; and whoever should speak against that
marriage, should be held guilty of misprision of treason;--severe
enactments, such as could not be justified at ordinary times, and such
as, if the times had been ordinary, would not have been thought
necessary; but the exigencies of the country could not tolerate an
uncertainty of title in the heir to the crown; and the title could only
be secured by prohibiting absolutely the discussion of dangerous

The mere enactment of a statute, whatever penalties were attached to the
violation of it, was still, however, an insufficient safeguard. The
recent investigation had revealed a spirit of disloyalty, where such a
spirit had not been expected. The deeper the inquiry had penetrated, the
more clearly appeared tokens, if not of conspiracy, yet of excitement,
of doubt, of agitation, of alienated feeling, if not of alienated act.
All the symptoms were abroad which provide disaffection with its
opportunity; and in the natural confusion which attended the revolt from
the papacy, the obligations of duty, both political and religious, had
become indefinite and contradictory, pointing in all directions, like
the magnetic needle in a thunderstorm.

[Sidenote: All persons, at the king's pleasure, liable to be called upon
to swear to this act.]

It was thought well, therefore, to vest a power in the crown, of trying
the tempers of suspected persons, and examining them upon oath, as to
their willingness to maintain the decision of parliament. This measure
was a natural corollary of the statute, and depended for its
justification on the extent of the danger to which the state was
exposed. If a difference of opinion on the legitimacy of the king's
children, or of the pope's power in England, was not dangerous, it was
unjust to interfere with the natural liberty of speech or thought. If it
was dangerous, and if the state had cause for supposing that opinions of
the kind might spread in secret so long as no opportunity was offered
for detecting their progress, to require the oath was a measure of
reasonable self-defence, not permissible only, but in a high degree
necessary and right.

[Sidenote: A commission appointed to take the examination.]

Under the impression, then, that the circumstances of the country
demanded extraordinary precautions, a commission was appointed,
consisting of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lord Chancellor, the
Duke of Norfolk, and the Duke of Suffolk; and these four, or any three
of them, were empowered to administer, at the pleasure of the king, "to
all and singular liege subjects of the realm," the following oath:--

[Sidenote: March 30. Terms of the oath to the Statute of Succession.]

"Ye shall swear to bear your faith, truth, and obedience only to the
King's Majesty, and to the heirs of his body, according to the
limitation and rehearsal within the statute of succession; and not to
any other within this realm, or foreign authority, prince, or potentate:
and in case any oath be made or hath been made by you to any other
person or persons, that then you do repute the same as vain and
annihilate: and that to your cunning, wit, and utmost of your power,
without guile, fraud, or other undue means, ye shall observe, keep,
maintain, and defend this act above specified, and all the whole
contents and effects thereof; and all other acts and statutes made since
the beginning of this present parliament, in confirmation or for due
execution of the same, or of anything therein contained. And thus ye
shall do against all manner of persons, of what estate, dignity, degree,
or condition soever they be; and in no wise do or attempt, or to your
power suffer to be done or attempted, directly or indirectly, any thing
or things, privily or apertly, to the let, hindrance, damage, or
derogation thereof, by any manner of means, or for any pretence or
cause, so help you God and all saints."[254]

[Sidenote: April 7. The news arrives in England that the pope has given

With this last resolution the House rose, having sat seventy-five days,
and despatched their business swiftly. A week later, the news arrived
from Rome that there too all was at length over; that the cause was
decided, and decided against the king. The history or the closing
catastrophe is as obscure as it is strange, and the account of the
manner in which it was brought about is unfortunately incomplete in many
important particulars. The outline only can be apprehended, and that
very imperfectly.

[Sidenote: Mission of the Bishop of Paris to Rome.]

[Sidenote: At first, with appearance of success.]

[Sidenote: The bishop makes terms of which Henry approves, and
despatches a courier with his consent.]

On the receipt in Paris of the letter in which Henry threatened to
organize a Protestant confederacy, Du Bellay, in genuine anxiety for the
welfare of Christendom, had volunteered his services for a final effort.
Not a moment was to be lost, for the courts at Rome were already busy
with the great cause; but the king's evident reluctance to break with
the Catholic powers gave room for hope that something might still be
done; and going in person to England, the bishop had induced Henry, at
the last extremity, either to entrust him with representative powers, or
else to allow him after all to make some kind of concession. I am unable
to learn the extent to which Henry yielded, but that an offer was made
of some kind is evident from the form of the story.[255] The winter was
very cold, but the bishop made his way to Rome with the haste of good
will, and arrived in time to stay judgment, which was on the point of
being pronounced. It seemed, for the moment, as if he would succeed. He
was permitted to make engagements on the part of Henry; and that time
might be allowed for communication with England, the pope agreed to
delay sentence till the 23d of March. The bishop's terms were approved
by the king, and a courier was sent off with letters of confirmation;
Sir Edward Karne and Dr. Revett following leisurely, with a more ample
commission. The stone which had been laboriously rolled to the summit of
the hill was trembling on the brink, and in a moment might rebound into
the plain.

[Sidenote: The courier is delayed on the road. The conclave are divided;
a majority decide against the king, and sentence is pronounced.]

[Sidenote: Henry must either submit, or is excommunicated.]

But this was not to be the end. Some accidental cause delayed the
courier; the 23d of March came, and he had not arrived. Du Bellay
implored a further respite. The King of England, he said, had waited six
years; it was not a great thing for the papal council to wait six days.
The cardinals were divided; but the Spanish party were the strongest,
and when the votes were taken carried the day. The die was cast, and the
pope, in spite of himself, his promises, and his conscience, drove at
length upon the rocks to which he had been so long drifting.[256] In
deference to the opinion of the majority of the cardinals, he pronounced
the original marriage to have been valid, the dispensation by which it
was permitted to have been legal; and, as a natural consequence, Henry,
King of England, should he fail in obedience to this judgment, was
declared to be excommunicate from the fellowship of the church, and to
have forfeited the allegiance of his subjects.

[Sidenote: The Imperialists engage that Charles shall enforce the

Lest the censures should be discredited by a blank discharge,
engagements were entered into, that within four months of the
promulgation of the sentence, the emperor would invade England, and
Henry should be deposed.[257] The imperialists illuminated Rome; cannon
were fired; bonfires blazed; and great bodies of men paraded the streets
with shouts of "the Empire and Spain."[258] Already, in their eager
expectation, England was a second Netherlands, a captured province under
the regency of Catherine or Mary.

Two days later, the courier arrived. The pope, at the entreaties of the
Bishop of Paris, reassembled the consistory, to consider whether the
steps which had been taken should be undone. They sat debating all
night, and the result was nothing. No dependence could be placed on the
cardinals, Du Bellay said, for they spoke one way, and voted

[Sidenote: Du Bellay says that the pope was "coacted" by the Spanish
party against his judgment.]

Thus all was over. In a scene of general helplessness the long drama
closed, and, what we call accident, for want of some better word, cut
the knot at last over which human incapacity had so vainly laboured. The
Bishop of Paris retired from Rome in despair. On his way back, he met
the English commissioners at Bologna, and told them that their errand
was hopeless, and that they need not proceed. "When we asked him," wrote
Sir Edward Karne to the king, "the cause of such hasty process, he made
answer that the imperialists at Rome had strengthened themselves in such
a manner, that they coacted the said Bishop of Rome to give sentence
contrary to his own mind, and the expectation of himself and of the
French king. He showed us also that the Lady Princess Dowager sent
lately, in the month of March past, letters to the Bishop of Rome, and
also to her proctors, whereby the Bishop of Rome was much moved for her
part. The imperials, before the sentence was given, promised, in the
emperor's behalf, that he would be the executor of the sentence."[260]

This is all which we are able to say of the immediate catastrophe which
decided the fate of England, and through England, of the world. The deep
impenetrable falsehood of the Roman ecclesiastics prevents us from
discovering with what intentions the game of the last few weeks or
months had been played; it is sufficient for Englishmen to remember,
that, whatever may have been the explanation of his conduct, the pope,
in the concluding passage of his connexion with this country, furnished
the most signal justification which was ever given for the revolt from
an abused authority. The supreme judge in Christendom had for six years
trifled with justice, out of fear of an earthly prince; he concluded
these years with uniting the extreme of folly with the extreme of
improbity, and pronounced a sentence, willingly or unwillingly, which he
had acknowledged to be unjust.

[Sidenote: Papal diplomacy.]

Charity may possibly acquit Clement of conscious duplicity. He was one
of those men who waited upon fortune, and waited always without success;
who gave his word as the interest of the moment suggested, trusting that
it might be convenient to observe it; and who was too long accustomed to
break his promises to look with any particular alarm on that
contingency. It is possible, also,--for of this Clement was
capable,--that he knew from the beginning the conclusion to which he
would at last be driven; that he had engaged himself with Charles to
decide in Catherine's favour as distinctly as he had engaged himself
with Francis to decide against her; and that all his tortuous scheming
was intended either to weary out the patience of the King of England, or
to entangle him in acknowledgments from which he would not be able to
extricate himself.

[Sidenote: Clement had formed a mistaken notion of the English temper,]

[Sidenote: But his true intentions are inscrutable.]

He was mistaken, certainly, in the temper of the English nation; he
believed what the friars told him; and trusting to the promises of
disaffection, insurrection, invasion--those _ignes fatui_ which for
sixty years floated so delusively before the Italian imagination, he
imagined, perhaps, that he might trifle with Henry with impunity. This
only is impossible, that, if he had seriously intended to fulfil the
promises which he had made to the French king, the accidental delay of a
courier could have made so large a difference in his determination. It
is not possible that, if he had assured himself, as he pretended, that
justice was on the side against which he had declared, he would not have
availed himself of any pretext to retreat from a position which ought to
have been intolerable to him.

[Sidenote: Francis warns Henry to prepare for danger.]

[Sidenote: Preparation in Flanders for an invasion of England.]

The question, however, had ended, "as all things in this world do have
their end." The news of the sentence arrived in England at the beginning
of April, with an intimation of the engagements which had been entered
upon by the imperial ambassador for an invasion. Du Bellay returned to
Paris at the same time, to report the failure of his undertaking; and
Francis, disappointed, angry, and alarmed, sent the Duke of Guise to
London with promises of support if an attempt to invade was really made,
and with a warning at the same time to Henry to prepare for danger.
Troops were gathering in Flanders; detachments were on their way out of
Italy, Germany, and Bohemia, to be followed by three thousand Spaniards,
and perhaps many more; and the object avowed for these preparations was
wholly incommensurate with their magnitude.[261] For his own sake,
Francis could not permit a successful invasion of England, unless,
indeed, he himself was to take part in it; and therefore, with entire
sincerity, he offered his services. The cordial understanding for which
Henry had hoped was at an end; but the political confederacy remained,
which the interests of the two countries combined for the present to
preserve unbroken.

[Sidenote: Proposal for a new meeting between Francis and Henry.]

[Sidenote: Which Henry is afraid to accept, lest there should be a
rising in his absence.]

[Sidenote: The French fleet guard the Channel.]

Guise proposed another interview at Calais between the sovereigns. The
king for the moment was afraid to leave England,[262] lest the
opportunity should be made use of for an insurrection; but prudence
taught him, though disappointed in Francis, to make the best of a
connexion too convenient to be sacrificed. The German league was left in
abeyance till the immediate danger was passed, and till the effect of
the shock in England itself had been first experienced. He gladly
accepted, in lieu of it, an offer that the French fleet should guard the
Channel through the summer; and meanwhile, he collected himself
resolutely to abide the issue, whatever the issue was to be.

[Sidenote: Effect of the sentence upon Henry.]

[Sidenote: April 7. Convocation declares the pope's authority

[Sidenote: The garrisons are strengthened along the coasts.]

The Tudor spirit was at length awake in the English sovereign. He had
exhausted the resources of patience; he had stooped even to indignity to
avoid the conclusion which had come at last. There was nothing left but
to meet defiance by defiance, and accept the position to which the pope
had driven him. In quiet times occasionally wayward and capricious,
Henry, like Elizabeth after him, reserved his noblest nature for the
moments of danger, and was ever greatest when peril was most immediate.
Woe to those who crossed him now, for the time was grown stern, and to
trifle further was to be lost. The suspended act of parliament was made
law on the day (it would seem) of the arrival of the sentence.
Convocation, which was still sitting, hurried through a declaration that
the pope had no more power in England than any other bishop.[263] Five
years before, if a heretic had ventured so desperate an opinion, the
clergy would have shut their ears and run upon him: now they only
contended with each other in precipitate obsequiousness. The houses of
the Observants at Canterbury and Greenwich, which had been implicated
with the Nun of Kent, were suppressed, and the brethren were scattered
among monasteries where they could be under surveillance. The Nun and
her friends were sent to execution.[264] The ordnance stores were
examined, the repairs of the navy were hastened, and the garrisons were
strengthened along the coast. Everywhere the realm armed itself for the
struggle, looking well to the joints of its harness and to the temper of
its weapons.

[Sidenote: The commission sits to receive the oaths of allegiance.]

The commission appointed under the Statute of Succession opened its
sittings to receive the oaths of allegiance. Now, more than ever, was it
necessary to try men's dispositions, when the pope had challenged their
obedience. In words all went well: the peers swore; bishops, abbots,
priors, heads of colleges, swore[265] with scarcely an exception,--the
nation seemed to unite in an unanimous declaration of freedom. In one
quarter only, and that a very painful one, was there refusal. It was
found solely among the persons who had been implicated in the late
conspiracy. Neither Sir Thomas More nor the Bishop of Rochester could
expect that their recent conduct would exempt them from an obligation
which the people generally accepted with good will. They had connected
themselves, perhaps unintentionally, with a body of confessed traitors.
An opportunity was offered them of giving evidence of their loyalty, and
escaping from the shadow of distrust. More had been treated leniently;
Fisher had been treated far more than leniently. It was both fair and
natural that they should be called upon to give proof that their lesson
had not been learnt in vain; and, in fact, no other persons, if they had
been passed over, could have been called upon to swear, for no other
persons had laid themselves open to so just suspicion.

[Sidenote: Sir Thomas More is required to swear.]

Their conduct so exactly tallied, that they must have agreed beforehand
on the course which they would adopt; and in following the details, we
need concern ourselves only with the nobler figure.

[Sidenote: He confesses at Chelsea church,]

[Sidenote: April 25. And goes by boat to Lambeth.]

[Sidenote: The oath is read to him, and he refuses it.]

[Sidenote: He is desired to retire and reconsider his answer. Fisher
follows his example, and refuses also. More again refuses.]

The commissioners sate at the archbishop's palace at Lambeth; and at the
end of April, Sir Thomas More received a summons to appear before
them.[266] He was at his house at Chelsea, where for the last two years
he had lived in deep retirement, making ready for evil times. Those
times at length were come. On the morning on which he was to present
himself, he confessed and received the sacrament in Chelsea church; and
"whereas," says his great-grandson, "at other times, before he parted
from his wife and children, they used to bring him to his boat, and he
there kissing them bade them farewell, at this time he suffered none of
them to follow him forth of his gate, but pulled the wicket after him,
and with a heavy heart he took boat with his son Roper."[267] He was
leaving his home for the last time, and he knew it. He sat silent for
some minutes, then, with a sudden start, said, "I thank our Lord, the
field is won." Lambeth Palace was crowded with people who had come on
the same errand with himself. More was called in early, and found
Cromwell present with the four commissioners, and also the Abbot of
Westminster. The oath was read to him. It implied that he should keep
the statute of succession in all its parts, and he desired to see the
statute itself. He read it through, and at once replied that others
might do as they pleased; he would blame no one for taking the oath; but
for himself it was impossible. He would swear willingly to the part of
it which secured the succession to the children of Queen Anne.[268] That
was a matter on which parliament was competent to decide, and he had no
right to make objections. If he might be allowed to take an oath to this
portion of the statute in language of his own, he would do it; but as
the words stood, he would "peril his soul" by using them. The Lord
Chancellor desired him to reconsider his answer. He retired to the
garden, and in his absence others were called in; them the Bishop of
Rochester, who refused in the same terms. More was then recalled. He was
asked if he persisted in his resolution; and when he replied that he
did, he was requested to state his reasons. He said that he was afraid
of increasing the king's displeasure, but if he could be assured that
he might explain himself safely, he was ready to do so. If his objection
could then be answered to his satisfaction, he would swear; in the
meantime, he repeated, very explicitly, that he judged no one--he spoke
only for himself.

[Sidenote: Cranmer tries to contrive an escape for him,]

An opening seemed to be offered in these expressions which was caught at
by Cranmer's kindhearted casuistry. If Sir Thomas More could not condemn
others for taking the oath, the archbishop said, Sir Thomas More could
not be sure that it was sin to take it; while his duty to his king and
to the parliament was open and unquestioned.

[Sidenote: But in vain.]

More hesitated for an instant, but he speedily recovered his firmness.
He had considered what he ought to do, he said; his conscience was clear
about it, and he could say no more than he had said already. They
continued to argue with him, but without effect; he had made up his
mind; the victory, as he said, had been won.

Cromwell was deeply affected. In his passionate regret, he exclaimed,
that he had rather his only son had lost his head than that More should
have refused the oath. No one knew better than Cromwell that
intercession would be of no further use; that he could not himself
advise the king to give way. The parliament, after grave consideration,
had passed a law which they held necessary to secure the peace of the
country; and two persons of high rank refused obedience to it, whose
example would tell in every English household. Either, therefore, the
act was not worth the parchment on which it was written, or the
penalties of it must be enforced: no middle way, no compromise, no
acquiescent reservations, could in such a case be admitted. The law must
have its way.

[Sidenote: More, with Fisher, is committed to the keeping of the Abbot
of Westminster.]

[Sidenote: Debate in the Council]

[Sidenote: Cranmer urges that they may take the oath in a modified

The recusants were committed for four days to the keeping of the Abbot
of Westminster; and the council met to determine on the course to be
pursued. Their offence, by the act, was misprision of treason. On the
other hand, they had both offered to acknowledge the Princess Elizabeth
as the lawful heir to the throne; and the question was raised whether
this offer should be accepted. It was equivalent to a demand that the
form should be altered, not for them only, but for every man. If persons
of their rank and notoriety were permitted to swear with a
qualification, the same privilege must be conceded to all. But there was
so much anxiety to avoid extremities, and so warm a regard was
personally felt for Sir Thomas More, that this objection was not allowed
to be fatal. It was thought that possibly an exception might be made,
yet kept a secret from the world; and the fact that they had sworn under
any form might go far to silence objectors and reconcile the better
class of the disaffected.[269] This view was particularly urged by
Cranmer, always gentle, hoping, and illogical.[270] But, in fact,
secresy was impossible. If More's discretion could have been relied
upon, Fisher's babbling tongue would have trumpeted his victory to all
the winds. Nor would the government consent to pass censure on its own
conduct by evading the question whether the act was or was not _just_.
If it was not just, it ought not to be maintained at all, if it was
just, there must be no respect of persons.

[Sidenote: The government cannot yield.]

The clauses to which the bishop and the ex-chancellor declined to bind
themselves were those which declared illegal the marriage of the king
with Catherine, and the marriage legal between the king and Queen Anne.
To refuse these was to declare Mary legitimate, to declare Elizabeth
illegitimate, and would do more to strengthen Mary's claims than could
be undone by a thousand oaths. However large might be More's estimate of
the power of parliament, he could have given no clear answer--and far
less could Fisher have given a clear answer--if they had been required
to say the part which they would take, should the emperor invade the
kingdom under the pope's sanction. The emperor would come to execute a
sentence which in their consciences they believed to be just; how could
they retain their allegiance to Henry, when their convictions must be
with the invading army?

[Sidenote: Cromwell explains to Cranmer that concession is impossible.]

What ought to have been done let those say who disapprove of what was
actually done. The high character of the prisoners, while it increased
the desire, increased the difficulty of sparing them; and to have given
way would have been a confession of a doubtful cause, which at such a
time would not have been dangerous, but would have been fatal. Anne
Boleyn is said to have urged the king to remain peremptory;[271] but the
following letter of Cromwell's explains the ultimate resolution of the
council in a very reasonable manner. It was written to Cranmer, in reply
to his arguments for concession.

[Sidenote: And begs that he will not urge it further.]

"My Lord, after mine humble commendation, it may please your Grace to be
advertised that I have received your letter, and showed the same to the
King's Highness; who, perceiving that your mind and opinion is, that it
were good that the Bishop of Rochester and Master More should be sworn
to the act of the king's succession, and not to the preamble of the
same, thinketh that if their oaths should be taken, it were an occasion
to all men to refuse the whole, or at least the like. For, in case they
be sworn to the succession, and not to the preamble, it is to be thought
that it might be taken not only as a confirmation of the Bishop of
Rome's authority, but also as a reprobation of the king's second
marriage. Wherefore, to the intent that no such things should be brought
into the heads of the people, by the example of the said Bishop of
Rochester and Master More, the King's Highness in no wise willeth but
that they shall be sworn as well to the preamble as to the act.
Wherefore his Grace specially trusteth that ye will in no wise attempt
to move him to the contrary; for as his Grace supposeth, that manner of
swearing, if it shall be suffered, may be an utter destruction to his
whole cause, and also to the effect of the law made for the same."[272]

[Sidenote: They are examined a last time, and again refusing, are sent
to the Tower.]

Thus, therefore, with much regret the council decided--and, in fact, why
should they have decided otherwise? They were satisfied that they were
right in requiring the oath; and their duty to the English nation
obliged them to persevere. They must go their way; and those who thought
them wrong must go theirs; and the great God would judge between them.
It was a hard thing to suffer for an opinion; but there are times when
opinions are as dangerous as acts; and liberty of conscience was a plea
which could be urged with a bad grace for men who, while in power, had
fed the stake with heretics. They were summoned for a last time, to
return the same answer as they had returned before; and nothing remained
but to pronounce against them the penalties of the statute, imprisonment
at the king's pleasure, and forfeiture. The latter part of the sentence
was not enforced. More's family were left in the enjoyment of his
property. Fisher's bishoprick was not taken from him. They were sent to
the Tower, where for the present we leave them.

[Sidenote: Directions to the clergy to explain in their churches the
changes which had taken place.]

[Sidenote: Noblemen and gentlemen to teach their servants.]

Meanwhile, in accordance with the resolution taken in council on the 2d
of December,[273] but which seems to have been suspended till the issue
of the trial at Rome was decided, the bishops, who had been examined
severally on the nature of the papal authority, and whose answers had
been embodied in the last act of parliament, were now required to
instruct the clergy throughout their dioceses--and the clergy in turn to
instruct the people--in the nature of the changes which had taken place.
A bishop was to preach each Sunday at Paul's Cross, on the pope's
usurpation. Every secular priest was directed to preach on the same
subject week after week, in his parish church. Abbots and priors were to
teach their convents; noblemen and gentlemen their families and
servants; mayors and aldermen the boroughs. In town and in all houses,
at all dinner-tables, the conduct of the pope and the causes of the
separation from Rome were to be the one subject of conversation; that
the whole nation might be informed accurately and faithfully of the
grounds on which the government had acted. No wiser method could have
been adopted. The imperial agents would be busy under the surface; and
the mendicant friars, and all the missionaries of insurrection. The
machinery of order was set in force to counteract the machinery of

[Sidenote: Bishops sworn to the king as Head of the Church, and the
pope's name blotted out of the Mass books.]

Further, every bishop, in addition to the oath of allegiance, had sworn
obedience to the king as Supreme Head of the Church;[274] and this was
the title under which he was to be spoken of in all churches of the
realm. A royal order had been issued, "that all manner of prayers,
rubrics, canons of Mass books, and all other books in the churches
wherein the Bishop of Rome was named, or his presumptuous and proud pomp
and authority preferred, should utterly be abolished, eradicated, and
rased out, and his name and memory should be never more, except to his
contumely and reproach, remembered; but perpetually be suppressed and

Nor were these mere idle sounds, like the bellow of unshotted cannon;
but words with a sharp, prompt meaning, which the king intended to be
obeyed. He had addressed his orders to the clergy, because the clergy
were the officials who had possession of the pulpits from which the
people were to be taught; but he knew their nature too well to trust
them. They were too well schooled in the tricks of reservation; and, for
the nonce, it was necessary to reverse the posture of the priest and of
his flock, and to set the honest laymen to overlook their pastors.

[Sidenote: June 9. Circular order addressed to the sheriffs to see that
the clergy do their duty.]

[Sidenote: If they hear of any slackness, they are to report to the

With the instructions to the bishops circulars went round to the
sheriffs of the counties, containing a full account of these
instructions, and an appeal to their loyalty to see that the royal
orders were obeyed. "We," the king wrote to them, "seeing, esteeming,
and reputing you to be of such singular and vehement zeal and affection
towards the glory of Almighty God, and of so faithful, loving, and
obedient heart towards us, as you will accomplish, with all power,
diligence, and labour, whatsoever shall be to the preferment and setting
forth of God's word, have thought good, not only to signify unto you by
these our letters, the particulars of the charge given by us to the
bishops, but also to require and straitly charge you, upon pain of your
allegiance, and as ye shall avoid our high indignation and displeasure,
[that] at your uttermost peril, laying aside all vain affections,
respects, and other carnal considerations, and setting only before your
eyes the mirrour of the truth, the glory of God, the dignity of your
Sovereign Lord and King, and the great concord and unity, and
inestimable profit and utility, that shall by the due execution of the
premises ensue to yourselves and to all other faithful and loving
subjects, ye make or cause to be made diligent search and wait, whether
the said bishops do truly and sincerely, without all manner of cloke,
colour, or dissimulation, execute and accomplish our will and
commandment, as is aforesaid. And in case ye shall hear that the said
bishops, or any other ecclesiastical person, do omit and leave undone
any part or parcel of the premises, or else in the execution and setting
forth of the same, do coldly and feignedly use any manner of sinister
addition, wrong interpretation, or painted colour, then we straitly
charge and command you that you do make, undelayedly, and with all speed
and diligence, declaration and advertisement to us and to our council of
the said default.

[Sidenote: And if they themselves fail in this duty, after the
confidence which the king has placed in them,]

[Sidenote: He will make them an example to all the world.]

"And forasmuch as we upon the singular trust which we have in you, and
for the special love which we suppose you bear towards us, and the weal
and tranquillity of this our realm, have specially elected and chosen
you among so many for this purpose, and have reputed you such men as
unto whose wisdom and fidelity we might commit a matter of such great
weight and importance: if ye should, contrary to our expectation and
trust which we have in you, and against your duty and allegiance towards
us, neglect, or omit to do with all your diligence, whatsoever shall be
in your power for the due performance of our pleasure to you declared,
or halt or stumble at any part or specialty of the same; Be ye assured
that we, like a prince of justice, will so extremely punish you for the
same, that all the world beside shall take by you example, and beware
contrary to their allegiance to disobey the lawful commandment of their
Sovereign Lord and Prince.

"Given under our signet, at our Palace of Westminster, the 9th day of
June, 1534."[276]

       *       *       *       *       *

So Henry spoke at last. There was no place any more for nice
distinctions and care of tender consciences. The general, when the shot
is flying, cannot qualify his orders with dainty periods. Swift command
and swift obedience can alone be tolerated; and martial law for those
who hesitate.

[Sidenote: Death of Clement VII.]

This chapter has brought many things to a close. Before ending it we
will leap over three months, to the termination of the career of the
pope who has been so far our companion. Not any more was the distracted
Clement to twist his handkerchief, or weep, or flatter or wildly wave
his arms in angry impotence, he was to lie down in his long rest, and
vex the world no more. He had lived to set England free--an exploit
which, in the face of so persevering an anxiety to escape a separation,
required a rare genius and a combination of singular qualities. He had
finished his work, and now he was allowed to depart.

[Sidenote: His character.]

In him, infinite insincerity was accompanied with a grace of manner
which regained confidence as rapidly as it was forfeited. Desiring
sincerely, so far as he could be sincere in anything, to please every
one by turns, and reckless of truth to a degree in which he was without
a rival in the world, he sought only to escape his difficulties by
inactivity, and he trusted to provide himself with a refuge against all
contingencies by waiting upon time. Even when at length he was compelled
to act, and to act in a distinct direction, his plausibility long
enabled him to explain away his conduct; and, honest in the excess of
his dishonesty, he wore his falsehood with so easy a grace that it
assumed the character of truth. He was false, deceitful, treacherous;
yet he had the virtue of not pretending to be virtuous. He was a real
man, though but an indifferent one; and we can refuse to no one, however
grave his faults, a certain ambiguous sympathy, when in his perplexities
he shows us features so truly human in their weakness as those of
Clement VII.


[147] Mary, widow of Louis of Hungary, sister of the emperor, and Regent
of the Netherlands.

[148] She was much affected when the first intimation of the marriage
reached her. "I am informed of a secret friend of mine," wrote Sir John
Hacket, "that when the queen here had read the letters which she
received of late out of England, the tears came to her eyes with very
sad countenance. But indeed this day when I spake to her she showed me
not such countenance, but told me that she was not well pleased.

"At her setting forward to ride at hunting, her Grace asked me if I had
heard of late any tidings out of England. I told her Grace, as it is
true, that I had none. She gave me a look as that she should marvel
thereof, and said to me, 'Jay des nouvelles qui ne me semblent point
trop bonnes,' and told me touching the King's Highness's marriage. To
the which I answered her Grace and said, 'Madame, je ne me doute point
syl est faict, et quand le veult prendre et entendre de bonne part et au
sain chemyn, sans porter faveur parentelle que ung le trouvera tout
lente et bien raysonnable par layde de Dieu et de bonne conscience.' Her
Grace said to me again, 'Monsieur l'ambassadeur, c'est Dieu qui le scait
que je vouldroye que le tout allysse bien, mais ne scaye comment
l'empereur et le roy mon frere entendront l'affaire car il touche a eulx
tant que a moy.' I answered and said, 'Madame, il me semble estre
assuree que l'empereur et le roy vostre frere qui sont deux Prinssys
tres prudens et sayges, quant ilz auront considere indifferentement tout
l'affaire qu ilz ne le deveroyent prendre que de bonne part.' And
hereunto her Grace made me answer, saying, 'Da quant de le prendre de
bonne part ce la, ne sayge M. l'ambassadeur.'"--Hacket to the Duke of
Norfolk: _State Papers_, Vol. VII. p. 452.

[149] _State Papers_, Vol. VII. p. 457.

[150] Sir Gregory Cassalis to the Duke of Norfolk. Ad pontificem
accessi, et mei sermonis illa summa fuit, vellet id præstare ut
serenissimum regem nostrum certiorem facere possemus, in suâ causâ nihil
innovatum iri. Hic ille, sicut solet, respondit, nescire se quo pacto
possit Cæsarianis obsistere.--_State Papers_, Vol. VII. p. 461.

[151] Bennet to Henry: _State Papers_, Vol. VII. p. 462.

[152] Ibid.

[153] Letter undated, but written about the middle of June: _State
Papers_, Vol. VII. p. 474.

[154] Of the Archbishop of York, not of Canterbury: which provokes a
question. Conjectures are of little value in history, but inasmuch as
there must have been some grave reason for the substitution, a
suggestion of a possible reason may not be wholly out of place. The
appeal in itself was strictly legal; and it was of the highest
importance to avoid any illegality of form. Cranmer, by transgressing
the inhibition which Clement had issued in the winter, might be
construed by the papal party to have virtually incurred the censures
threatened, and an escape might thus have been furnished from the
difficulty in which the appeal placed them.

[155] Publico ecclesiæ judicio.

[156] Rymer, Vol. VI. part 2, p. 188.

[157] The French king did write unto Cardinal Tournon (not, however, of
his own will, but under pressure from the Duke of Norfolk), very
instantly, that he should desire the pope, in the said French king's
name, that his Holyness would not innovate anything against your
Highness any wise till the congress: adding, withal, that if his
Holyness, notwithstanding his said desire, would proceed, he could not
less do, considering the great and indissoluble amity betwixt your
Highnesses, notorious to all the world, but take and recognise such
proceeding for a fresh injury.--Bennet to Henry VIII.: _State Papers_,
Vol. VII. p. 468.

[158] _State Papers_, Vol. VII. p. 469.

[159] Ibid.

[160] Ibid. p. 470.

[161] Ibid. p. 467, note, and p. 470.

[162] Burnet, Vol. I. p. 221.

[163] We only desire and pray you to endeavour yourselves in the
execution of that your charge--casting utterly away and banishing from
you such fear and timorousness, or rather despair, as by your said
letters we perceive ye have conceived--reducing to your memories in the
lieu and stead thereof, as a thing continually lying before your eyes
and incessantly sounded in your ears, the justice of our cause, which
cannot at length be shadowed, but shall shine and shew itself to the
confusion of our adversaries. And we having, as is said, truth for us,
with the help and assistance of God, author of the same, shall at all
times be able to maintain you.--Henry VIII. to Bonner: _State Papers_,
Vol. VII. p. 485.

[164] Bonner to Cromwell. _State Papers_, Vol. VII. p. 481.

[165] The proclamation ordering that Catherine should be called not
queen, but Princess Dowager.

[166] Catherine de Medici.

[167] Henry VIII. to the Duke of Norfolk: _State Papers_, Vol. VII. p.

[168] Sir John Hacket, writing from Ghent on the 6th of September,
describes as the general impression that the Pope's "trust was to assure
his alliance on both sides." "He trusts to bring about that his Majesty
the French king and he shall become and remain in good, fast, and sure
alliance together; and so ensuring that they three (the Pope, Francis,
and Charles V.) shall be able to reform and set good order in the rest
of Christendom. But whether his Unhappiness's--I mean his
Holiness's--intention, is set for the welfare and utility of
Christendom, or for his own insincerity and singular purpose, I remit
that to God and to them that know more of the world than I do."--Hacket
to Cromwell: _State Papers_, Vol. VII. p. 506.

[169] John the Magnanimous, son of John the Steadfast, and nephew of the
Elector Frederick, Luther's first protector.

[170] _State Papers_, Vol. VII. pp. 499-501.

[171] Princeps Elector ducit se imparem ut Regiæ Celsitudinis vel
aliorum regum oratores eâ lege in aulâ suâ degerent; vereturque ne ob id
apud Cæsaream majestatem unicum ejus Dominum et alios male audiret,
possetque sinistre tale institutum interpretari.--Reply of the Elector:
_State Papers_, Vol. VII. p. 503.

[172] Vaughan to Cromwell: _State Papers_, Vol. VII. p. 509.

[173] I consider the man, with other two--that is to say, the Landgrave
von Hesse and the Duke of Lunenberg--to be the chief and principal
defenders and maintainers of the Lutheran sect: who considering the same
with no small difficulty to be defended, as well against the emperor and
the bishops of Germany, his nigh and shrewd neighbours, as against the
most opinion of all Christian men, feareth to raise any other new matter
whereby they should take a larger and peradventure a better occasion to
revenge the same. The King's Highness seeketh to have intelligence with
them, as they conjecture to have them confederate with him; yea, and
that against the emperor, if he would anything pretend against the
king.--Here is the thing which I think feareth the duke.--Vaughan to
Cromwell: _State Papers_, Vol VII. pp. 509, 510.

[174] Hall, p. 805.

[175] _State Papers_, Vol. VII. p. 512.

[176] The Duke of Albany, during the minority of James V., had headed
the party in Scotland most opposed to the English. He expelled the
queen-mother, Margaret, sister of Henry; he seized the persons of the
two young princes, whom he shut up in Stirling, where the younger
brother died under suspicion of foul play (_Despatches of Giustiniani_,
Vol. I. p. 157); and subsequently, in his genius for intrigue, he gained
over the queen dowager herself in a manner which touched her
honour.--Lord Thomas Dacre to Queen Margaret: Ellis, second series, Vol.
I. p. 279.

[177] Ex his tamen, qui hæc a Pontifice, audierunt, intelligo regem
vehementissime instare, ut vestræ majestatis expectationi satisfiat
Pontifex.--Peter Vannes to Henry VIII.: _State Papers_, Vol. VII. p.

[178] _State Papers_, Vol. VII. p. 520.

[179] Hoc dico quod video inter regem et pontificem conjunctissime et
amicissime hic agi.--Vannes to Cromwell: Ibid.

[180] Vannes to Cromwell: _State Papers_, Vol. VII. pp. 522-3.

[181] Burnet, _Collectanea_, p. 436.

[182] Letter of the King of France: Legrand, Vol. III. Reply of Henry:
Foxe, Vol. V. p. 110.

[183] Commission of the Bishop of Paris: Legrand, Vol. III.; Burnet,
Vol. III. p. 128; Foxe, Vol. V. p. 106-111. The commission of the Bishop
of Bayonne is not explicit on the extent to which the pope had bound
himself with respect to the sentence. Yet either in some other despatch,
or verbally through the Bishop, Francis certainly informed Henry that
the Pope had promised that sentence should be given in his favour. We
shall find Henry assuming this in his reply; and the Archbishop of York
declared to Catherine that the pope "said at Marseilles, that if his
Grace would send a proxy thither he would give sentence for his Highness
against her, because that he knew his cause to be good and
just."--_State Papers_, Vol. I. p. 421.

[184] MS. Bibl. Impér. Paris.--_The Pilgrim_, pp. 97, 98. Cf. Foxe, Vol.
V. p. 110.

[185] I hear of a number of Gelders which be lately reared; and the
opinion of the people here is that they shall go into England. All men
there speak evil of England, and threaten it in their foolish
manner.--Vaughan to Cromwell: _State Papers_, Vol. VII. p. 511.

[186] Rymer, Vol. VI. part 2, p. 189.

[187] Parties were so divided in England that lookers-on who reported
any one sentiment as general there, reported in fact by their own wishes
and sympathies. D'Inteville, the French ambassador, a strong Catholic,
declares the feeling to have been against the revolt. Chastillon, on the
other hand, writing at the same time from the same place (for he had
returned from France, and was present with d'Inteville at the last
interview), says, "The King has made up his mind to a complete
separation from Rome and the lords and the majority of the people go
along with him."--Chastillon to the Bishop of Paris: _The Pilgrim_, p.

[188] Strype, _Eccles. Memor._, Vol. I. p. 224.

[189] Instructions to the Earls of Oxford, Essex, and Sussex, to
remonstrate with the Lady Mary: _Rolls House MS._

[190] Instructions to the Earls of Oxford, Essex, and Sussex, to
remonstrate with the Lady Mary: _Rolls House MS._

[191] On the 15th of November, Queen Catherine wrote to the Emperor and
after congratulating him on his successes against the Turks, she

"And as our Lord in his mercy has worked so great a good for Christendom
by your Highness's hands, so has he enlightened also his Holiness; and I
and all this realm have now a sure hope that, with the grace of God, his
Holiness will slay this second Turk, this affair between the King my
Lord and me. Second Turk, I call it, from the misfortunes which, through
his Holiness's long delay, have grown out of it, and are now so vast and
of so ill example that I know not whether this or the Turk be the worst.
Sorry am I to have been compelled to importune your Majesty so often in
this matter, for sure I am you do not need my pressing. But I see delay
to be so calamitous, my own life is so unquiet and so painful, and the
opportunity to make an end now so convenient, that it seems as if God of
his goodness had brought his Holiness and your Majesty together to bring
about so great a good. I am forced to be importunate, and I implore your
Highness for the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, that in return for
the signal benefits which God each day is heaping on you, you will
accomplish for me this great blessing, and bring his Holiness to a
decision. Let him remember what he promised you at Bologna. The truth
here is known, and he will thus destroy the hopes of those who persuade
the King my Lord that he will never pass judgment."--Queen Catherine to
Charles V.: _MS. Simancas_, November 15, 1533.

[192] Letter to the King, giving an account of certain Friars Observants
who had been about the Princess Dowager: _Rolls House MS._

[193] We remember the Northern prophecy, "In England shall be slain the
decorate Rose in his mother's belly," which the monks of Furness
interpreted as meaning that "the King's Grace should die by the hands of
priests."--Vol. I. cap. 4.

[194] Statutes of the Realm, 25 Henry VIII. cap. 12. State Papers
relating to Elizabeth Barton: _Rolls House MS._ Prior of Christ Church,
Canterbury, to Cromwell: _Suppression of the Monasteries_, p. 20.

[195] Thus Cromwell writes to Fisher: "My Lord, [the outward evidences
that she was speaking truth] moved you not to give credence to her, but
only the very matter whereupon she made her false prophecies, to which
matter ye were so affected--as ye be noted to be on all matters which ye
once enter into--that nothing could come amiss that made for that
purpose."--_Suppression of the Monasteries_, p. 30.

[196] Papers relating to the Nun of Kent: _Rolls House MS._

[197] Papers relating to the Nun of Kent: _Rolls House MS._

[198] Papers relating to the Nun of Kent.

[199] 25 Hen. VIII. cap. 12.

[200] Papers relating to the Nun of Kent: _Rolls House MS._ 25 Hen.
VIII. cap. 12. The "many" nobles are not more particularly designated in
the official papers. It was not desirable to mention names when the
offence was to be passed over.

[201] Report of the Commissioners--Papers relating to the Nun of Kent:
_Rolls House MS._

[202] Goold, says the Act of the Nun's attainder, travelled to Bugden,
"to animate the said Lady Princess to make commotion in the realm
against our sovereign lord; surmitting that the said Nun should hear by
revelation of God that the said Lady Catherine should prosper and do
well, and that her issue, the Lady Mary, should prosper and reign in the
realm."--25 Henry VIII. cap. 13.

[203] Report of the Proceedings of the Nun of Kent: _Rolls House MS._

[204] MS. Bibliot. Impér., Paris. The letter is undated, it was
apparently written in the autumn of 1533.

[205] Il a des nouvelles amours. In a paper at Simancas, containing
Nuevas de Inglaterra, written about this time, is a similar account of
the dislike of Anne and her family, as well as of the king's altered
feelings towards her. Dicano anchora che la Anna è mal voluta degli Si
di Inghilterra si per la sua superbia, si anche per l'insolentia e mali
portamenti che fanno nel regno li fratelli e parenti di Anna; e che per
questo il Re non la porta la affezione que soleva per che il Re
festeggia una altra Donna della quale se mostra esser inamorato, e molti
Si di Inghilterra lo ajutano nel seguir el preditto amor per deviar
questo Re dalla pratica di Anna.

[206] Hall.

[207] "I, dame Elizabeth Barton," she said, "do confess that I, most
miserable and wretched person, have been the original of all this
mischief, and by my falsehood I have deceived all these persons (the
monks who were her accomplices), and many more; whereby I have most
grievously offended Almighty God, and my most noble sovereign the King's
Grace. Wherefore I humbly, and with heart most sorrowful, desire you to
pray to Almighty God for my miserable sins, and make supplication for me
to my sovereign for his gracious mercy and pardon."--Confession of
Elizabeth Barton: _Rolls House MS._

[208] Papers relating to Elizabeth Barton: _Rolls House MS._

[209] _State Papers_, Vol. I. p. 415.

[210] A curious trait in Mary's character may be mentioned in connection
with this transfer. She had a voracious appetite; and in Elizabeth's
household expenses an extra charge was made necessary of 20_l._ a-year
for the meat breakfasts and meat suppers "served into the Lady Mary's
chamber."--Statement of the expenses of the Household of the Princess
Elizabeth: _Rolls House MS._

[211] He is called _frater consobrinus_. See Fuller's _Worthies_ Vol
III. p. 128.

[212] He was killed at the battle of Pavia.

[213] Courtenay, Earl of Devonshire, married Catherine, daughter of

[214] Believe me, my lord, there are some here, and those of the
greatest in the land, who will be indignant if the Pope confirm the
sentence against the late Queen.--D'Inteville to Montmorency: _The
Pilgrim_, p. 97.

[215] She once rode to Canterbury, disguised as a servant, with only a
young girl for her companion.--Depositions of Sir Geoffrey Pole: _Rolls
House MS._

[216] Confession of Sir William Neville: _Rolls House MS._

[217] Confession of Sir George Neville: Ibid.

[218] Confession of the Oxford Wizard: Ibid.

[219] Queen Anne Boleyn to Gardiner: Burnet's _Collectanea_, p. 355.
Office for the Consecration of Cramp Rings: Ibid.

[220] So at least the Oxford Wizard said that Sir William Neville had
told him.--Confession of the Wizard: _Rolls House MS._ But the authority
is not good.

[221] Henry alone never listened seriously to the Nun of Kent.

[222] John of Transylvania, the rival of Ferdinand. His designation by
the title of king in an English state paper was a menace that, if driven
to extremities, Henry would support him against the empire.

[223] Acts of Council: _State Papers_, Vol. I. pp. 414, 415.

[224] Henry VIII. to Sir John Wallop: _State Papers_, Vol. VII. p. 524.

[225] Stephen Vaughan to Cromwell: _State Papers_, Vol. VII. p. 517.
Vaughan describes Peto with Shakespearian raciness. "Peto is an ipocrite
knave, as the most part of his brethren be; a wolf; a tiger clad in a
sheep's skin. It is a perilous knave--a raiser of sedition--an evil
reporter of the King's Highness--a prophecyer of mischief--a fellow I
would wish to be in the king's hands, and to be shamefully punished.
Would God I could get him by any policy--I will work what I can. Be sure
he shall do nothing, nor pretend to do nothing, in these parts, that I
will not find means to cause the King's Highness to know. I have laid a
bait for him. He is not able to wear the clokys and cucullys that be
sent him out of England, they be so many."

[226] Hacket to Henry VIII.: _State Papers_, Vol. VII. p. 528.

[227] Ibid. p. 530.

[228] Hacket to Cromwell: _State Papers_, Vol. VII. p. 531.

[229] So at least Henry supposed, if we may judge by the resolutions of
the Council "for the fortification of all the frontiers of the realm, as
well upon the coasts of the sea as the frontiers foreanenst Scotland."
The fortresses and havens were to be "fortefyed and munited;" and money
to be sent to York to be in readiness" if any business should
happen."--Ibid. Vol. I. p. 411.

[230] 25 Hen. VIII. cap. 19.

[231] A design which unfortunately was not put in effect. In the hurry
of the time it was allowed to drop.

[232] 25 Henry VIII. cap. 14.

[233] 23 Henry VIII. cap. 20.

[234] At this very time Campeggio was Bishop of Salisbury, and Ghinucci,
who had been acting for Henry at Rome, was Bishop of Worcester. The Act
by which they were deprived speaks of these two appointments as
_nominations_ by the king.--25 Henry VIII. cap. 27.

[235] Wolsey held three bishoprics and one archbishopric, besides the
abbey of St. Albans.

[236] Thus when Wolsey was presented, in 1514, to the See of Lincoln,
Leo X. writes to his beloved son Thomas Wolsey how that in his great
care for the interests of the Church, "Nos hodie Ecclesiæ Lincolniensi,
te in episcopum et pastorem præficere intendimus." He then informs the
Chapter of Lincoln of the appointment; and the king, in granting the
temporalities, continues the fiction without seeming to recognise
it:--"Cum dominus summus Pontifex nuper vacante Ecclesiâ cathedrali
personam fidelis clerici nostri Thomæ Wolsey, in ipsius Ecclesiæ
episcopum præfecerit, nos," &c.--See the Acts in Rymer, Vol. VI. part I,
pp. 55-57.

[237] 25 Henry VIII. cap. 20. The preëxisting unrealities with respect
to the election of bishops explain the unreality of the new arrangement,
and divest it of the character of wanton tyranny with which it appeared
_primâ facie_ to press upon the Chapters. The history of this statute is
curious, and perhaps explains the intentions with which it was
originally passed. It was repealed by the 2d of the 1st of Edward VI. on
the ground that the liberty of election was merely nominal, and that the
Chapters ought to be relieved of responsibility when they had no power
of choice. Direct nomination by the crown was substituted for the _congé
d'élire_, and remained the practice till the reaction under Mary, when
the indefinite system was resumed which had existed before the
Reformation. On the accession of Elizabeth, the statute of 25 Henry
VIII. was again enacted. The more complicated process of Henry was
preferred to the more simple one of Edward, and we are naturally led to
ask the reason of so singular a preference. I cannot but think that it
was this. The Council of Regency under Edward VI. treated the Church as
an institution of the State, while Henry and Elizabeth endeavoured
(under difficulties) to regard it under its more Catholic aspect of an
organic body. So long as the Reformation was in progress, it was
necessary to prevent the intrusion upon the bench of bishops of
Romanizing tendencies, and the deans and chapters were therefore
protected by a strong hand from their own possible mistakes. But the
form of liberty was conceded to them, not, I hope, to place deliberately
a body of clergymen in a degrading position, but in the belief that at
no distant time the Church might be allowed without danger to resume
some degree of self-government.

[238] 25 Henry VIII. cap. 21.

[239] I sent you no heavy words, but words of great comfort; willing
your brother to shew you how benign and merciful the prince was; and
that I thought it expedient for you to write unto his Highness, and to
recognise your offence and to desire his pardon, which his Grace would
not deny you now in your age and sickness.--Cromwell to Fisher:
_Suppression of the Monasteries_, p. 27.

[240] Sir Thomas More to Cromwell: Burnet's _Collectanea_, p. 350.

[241] Sir Thomas More to Cromwell: Burnet's _Collectanea_, p. 350.

[242] Ibid.

[243] More to Cromwell: Strype's _Memorials_, Vol. I. Appendix, p. 195

[244] More to the King: Ellis, first series, Vol. II. p. 47

[245] Cromwell to Fisher: _Suppression of the Monasteries_, p. 27, et

[246] _Suppression of the Monasteries_, p. 27, et seq.

[247] John Fisher to the Lords in Parliament: Ellis third series, Vol.
II. p. 289.

[248] _Lords' Journals_, p. 72.

[249] 25 Hen. VIII. cap. 12.

[250] In a tract written by a Dr. Moryson in defence of the government,
three years later, I find evidence that a distinction was made among the
prisoners, and that Dr. Bocking was executed with peculiar cruelty.
"Solus in crucem actus est Bockingus," are Moryson's words, though I
feel uncertain of the nature of the punishment which he meant to
designate. "Crucifixion" was unknown to the English law: and an event so
peculiar as the "crucifixion" of a monk would hardly have escaped the
notice of the contemporary chroniclers. In a careful diary kept by a
London merchant during these years, which is in MS. in the Library of
Balliol College, Oxford, the whole party are said to have been
hanged.--See, however, _Morysini Apomaxis_, printed by Berthelet, 1537.

[251] Hall, p. 814.

[252] Lord Herbert says he was pardoned; I do not find, however, on what
authority: but he was certainly not imprisoned, nor was the sentence of
forfeiture enforced against him.

[253] This is the substance of the provisions, which are, of course,
much abridged.

[254] _Lords' Journals_, Vol. I. p. 82. An act was also passed in this
session "against the usurped power of the Bishop of Rome." We trace it
in its progress through the House of Lords. (_Lords' Journals_,
Parliament of 1533-34.) It received the royal assent (ibid.), and is
subsequently alluded to in the 10th of the 28th of Henry VIII., as well
as in a Royal Proclamation dated June, 1534; and yet it is not on the
Roll, nor do I anywhere find traces of it. It is not to be confounded
with the act against payment of Peter's Pence, for in the _Lords'
Journals_ the two acts are separately mentioned. It received the royal
assent on the 30th of March, while that against Peter's Pence was
suspended till the 7th of April. It contained, also, an indirect
assertion that the king was Head of the English Church, according to the
title which had been given him by Convocation. (King's Proclamation:
Foxe, Vol. V. p. 69.) For some cause or other, the act at the last
moment must have been withdrawn.

[255] See Burnet, Vol. I. pp. 220, 221: Vol. III. p. 135; and Lord
Herbert. Du Bellay's brother, the author of the memoirs, says that the
king, at the bishop's entreaty, promised that if the pope would delay
sentence, and send "judges to hear the matter, he would himself forbear
to do what he proposed to do,"--that is, separate wholly from the See of
Rome. If this is true, the sending "judges" must allude to the "sending
them to Cambray," which had been proposed at Marseilles.

[256] See the letter of the Bishop of Bayonne, dated March 23, in
Legrand. A paraphrase is given by Burnet, Vol. III. p. 132.

[257] Promisistis predecessori meo quod si sententiam contra regem
Angliæ tulisset, Cæsar illum infra quatuor menses erat invasurus, et
regno expulsurus.--_State Papers_, Vol. VII. p. 579.

[258] Letter of Du Bellay in Legrand.

[259] Ibid.

[260] Sir Edward Karne and Dr. Revett to Henry VIII.: _State Papers_,
Vol. VII. pp. 553, 554.

[261] _State Papers_, Vol. VII. p. 560, et seq.

[262] His Highness, considering the time and the malice of the emperour,
cannot conveniently pass out of the realm--since he leaveth behind him
another daughter and a mother, with their friends, maligning his
enterprises in this behalf--who bearing no small grudge against his most
entirely beloved Queen Anne, and his young daughter the princess, might
perchance in his absence take occasion to excogitate and practise with
their said friends matters of no small peril to his royal person, realm,
and subjects.--_State Papers_, Vol. VII. p. 559.

[263] Lord Herbert.

[264] I mentioned their execution in connexion with their sentence; but
it did not take place till the 20th of April, a month after their
attainder: and delay of this kind was very unusual in cases of high
treason. I have little doubt that their final sentence was in fact
pronounced by the pope.

[265] The oaths of a great many are in Rymer, Vol. VI. part 2, p. 195 et

[266] His great-grandson's history of him (_Life of Sir Thomas More_, by
Cresacre More, written about 1620, published 1627, with a dedication to
Henrietta Maria) is incorrect in so many instances that I follow it with
hesitation; but the account of the present matter is derived from Mr.
Roper, More's son-in-law, who accompanied him to Lambeth, and it is
incidentally confirmed in various details by More himself.

[267] More's _Life of More_, p. 232.

[268] More held extreme republican opinions on the tenure of kings,
holding that they might be deposed by act of parliament.

[269] More's _Life of More_, p. 237.

[270] Burnet, Vol. I. p. 255.

[271] More's _Life of More_, p. 237.

[272] Cromwell to the Archbishop of Canterbury: _Rolls House MS._

[273] _State Papers_, Vol. I. p. 411, et seq.

[274] Royal Proclamation, June, 1534.

[275] Ibid.

[276] Foxe, Vol. V. p. 70.



[Sidenote: The vision of the Holy Brigitta.]

"The Pander[277] sheweth, in the first chapter of his book, called
_Salus Populi_, that the holy woman, Brigitta, used to inquire of her
good angel many questions of secrets divine; and among all other she
inquired, 'Of what Christian land was most souls damned?' The angel
shewed her a land in the west part of the world. She inquired the cause
why? The angel said, for there is most continual war, root of hate and
envy, and of vices contrary to charity; and without charity the souls
cannot be saved. And the angel did shew to her the lapse of the souls of
Christian folk of that land, how they fell down into hell, as thick as
any hail showers. And pity thereof moved the Pander to conceive his said
book, as in the said chapter plainly doth appear; for after his opinion,
this [Ireland] is the land that the angel understood; for there is no
land in this world of so continual war within itself; ne of so great
shedding of Christian blood; ne of so great robbing, spoiling, preying,
and burning; ne of so great wrongful extortion continually, as Ireland.
Wherefore it cannot be denied by very estimation of man but that the
angel did understand the land of Ireland."[278]

Nine hundred years had passed away since the vision of the Holy
Brigitta, and four hundred since the custody of the unfortunate country
had been undertaken by the most orderly nation in the world; yet, at the
close of all those centuries, "it could not be denied by very estimation
of man" that poor Irish souls were still descending, thick as hail
showers, into the general abyss of worthlessness. The Pander's satire
upon the English enterprise was a heavy one.

[Sidenote: Rapid success of the first invasion of Ireland.]

[Sidenote: The character of the country.]

[Sidenote: The settlement of it under the Norman leaders.]

When the wave of the Norman invasion first rolled across St. George's
Channel, the success was as easy and appeared as complete as William's
conquest of the Saxons. There was no unity of purpose among the Irish
chieftains, no national spirit which could support a sustained
resistance. The country was open and undefended,[279] and after a few
feeble struggles the contest ceased. Ireland is a basin, the centre a
fertile undulating plain, the edges a fringe of mountains that form an
almost unbroken coast line. Into these highlands the Irish tribes were
driven, where they were allowed to retain a partial independence, under
condition of paying tribute; the Norman immigrants dividing among
themselves the inheritance of the dispossessed inhabitants.[280]
Strongbow and his companions became the feudal sovereigns of the island,
holding their estates under the English crown. The common law of England
was introduced; the king's writ passed current from the Giant's Causeway
to Cape Clear;[281] and if the leading Norman families had remained on
the estates which they had conquered, or if those who did remain had
retained the character which they brought with them, the entire country
would, in all likelihood, have settled down obediently, and at length
willingly, under a rule which it would have been without power to

[Sidenote: Two causes of the decline of their authority.]

[Sidenote: Absenteeism.]

An expectation so natural was defeated by two causes, alike unforeseen
and perplexing. The Northern nations, when they overran the Roman
Empire, were in search of homes; and they subdued only to colonize. The
feudal system bound the noble to the lands which he possessed; and a
theory of ownership of estates, as consisting merely in the receipt of
rents from other occupants, was alike unheard of in fact, and repugnant
to the principles of feudal society. To Ireland belongs, among its other
misfortunes, the credit of having first given birth to absentees. The
descendants of the first invaders preferred to regard their inheritance,
not as a theatre of duty on which they were to reside, but as a
possession which they might farm for their individual advantage. They
managed their properties by agents, as sources of revenue, leasing them
even among the Irish themselves; and the tenantry, deprived of the
supporting presence of their lords, and governed only in a merely
mercenary spirit, transferred back their allegiance to the exiled chiefs
of the old race.[282] This was one grave cause of the English failure,
but serious as it was, it would not have sufficed alone to explain the
full extent of the evil. Some most powerful families rooted themselves
in the soil, and never forsook it; the Geraldines, of Munster and
Kildare; the Butlers, of Kilkenny; the De Burghs, the Birminghams, the
De Courcies, and many others. If these had been united among themselves,
or had retained their allegiance to England, their influence could not
have been long opposed successfully. Their several principalities would
have formed separate centres of civilization; and the strong system of
order would have absorbed and superseded the most obstinate resistance
which could have been offered by the scattered anarchy of the Celts.

[Sidenote: The assimilation of the Norman Irish to the native Celts.]

[Sidenote: Efforts of the government to repress the growing evil.]

[Sidenote: Fresh colonists from England follow in the same course.]

Unfortunately, the materials of good were converted into the worst
instruments of evil. If an objection had been raised to the colonization
of America, or to the conquest of India, on the ground that the
character of Englishmen would be too weak to contend successfully
against that of the races with whom they would be brought into contact,
and that they would relapse into barbarism, such an alarm would have
seemed too preposterous to be entertained; yet, prior to experience, it
would have been equally reasonable to expect that the modern Englishman
would adopt the habits of the Hindoo or the Mohican, as that the fiery
knights of Normandy would have stooped to imitate a race whom they
despised as slaves; that they would have flung away their very knightly
names to assume a barbarous equivalent;[283] and would so utterly have
cast aside the commanding features of their Northern extraction, that
their children's children could be distinguished neither in soul nor
body, neither in look, in dress, in language, nor in disposition, from
the Celts whom they had subdued. Such, however, was the extraordinary
fact. The Irish who had been conquered in the field revenged their
defeat on the minds and hearts of their conquerors; and in yielding,
yielded only to fling over their new masters the subtle spell of the
Celtic disposition. In vain the government attempted to stem the evil.
Statute was passed after statute forbidding the "Englishry" of Ireland
to use the Irish language, or intermarry with Irish families, or copy
Irish habits.[284] Penalties were multiplied on penalties; fines,
forfeitures, and at last death itself, were threatened for such
offences. But all in vain. The stealthy evil crept on irresistibly.[285]
Fresh colonists were sent over to restore the system, but only for
themselves or their children to be swept into the stream; and from the
century which succeeded the Conquest till the reign of the eighth
Henry, the strange phenomenon repeated itself, generation after
generation, baffling the wisdom of statesmen, and paralysing every
effort at a remedy.

[Sidenote: Despair of English statesmen.]

[Sidenote: The herbs did never grow which could cure the evils of

[Sidenote: Causes of the corruption.]

Here was a difficulty which no skill could contend against, and which
was increased by the exertions which were made to oppose it. The healthy
elements which were introduced to leaven the old became themselves
infected, and swelled the mass of evil; and the clearest observers were
those who were most disposed to despair. Popery has been the scapegoat
which, for the last three centuries, has borne the reproach of Ireland;
but before popery had ceased to be the faith of the world, the problem
had long presented itself in all its hopelessness. "Some say" (this is
the language of 1515), "and for the most part every man, that to find
the antidotum for this disease is impossible--for what remedy can be had
now more than hath been had unto this time? And there was never remedy
found in this two hundred year that could prosper; and no medicine can
be had now for this infirmity but such as hath been had afore this time.
And folk were as wise that time as they be now; and since they could
never find remedy, how should remedy be found by us? And the Pander
maketh answer and saith, that it is no marvel that our fathers that were
of more wit and wisdom than we, could not find remedy in the premises,
_for the herbs did never grow_. And also he saith that the wealth and
prosperity of every land is the commonwealth of the same, and not the
private wealth; and all the English noble folk of this land passeth
always their private weal; and in regard thereof setteth little or
nought by the common weal; insomuch as there is no common folk in all
this world so little set by, so greatly despised, so feeble, so poor,
so greatly trodden under foot, as the king's poor common folk be of
Ireland."[286] There was no true care for the common weal--that was the
especial peculiarity by which the higher classes in Ireland were
unfortunately distinguished. In England, the last consideration of a
noble-minded man was his personal advantage; Ireland was a theatre for a
universal scramble of selfishness, and the invaders caught the national
contagion, and became, as the phrase went, _ipsis Hibernis Hiberniores_.

[Sidenote: The outward circumstances of the chiefs.]

[Sidenote: Inability of the English princes to maintain a standing

[Sidenote: Spasmodic character of their administration.]

The explanation of this disastrous phenomenon lay partly in the
circumstances in which they were placed, partly in the inherent
tendencies of human nature itself. The Norman nobles entered Ireland as
independent adventurers, who, each for himself, carved out his fortune
with his sword; and, unsupported as they were from home, or supported
only at precarious intervals, divided from one another by large tracts
of country, and surrounded by Irish dependents, it was doubtless more
convenient for them to govern by humouring the habits and traditions to
which their vassals would most readily submit. The English government,
occupied with Scotland and France, had no leisure to maintain a powerful
central authority; and a central disciplinarian rule enforced by the
sword was contrary to the genius of the age. Under the feudal system,
the kings governed only by the consent and with the support of the
nobility; and the maintenance at Dublin of a standing military force
would have been regarded with extreme suspicion in England, as well as
in Ireland. Hence the affairs of both countries were, for the most
part, administered under the same forms, forms which were as ill suited
to the waywardness of the Celt, as they met exactly the stronger nature
of the Saxon. At intervals, when the government was exasperated by
unusual outrages, some prince of the blood was sent across as viceroy;
and half a century of acquiescence in disorder would be followed by a
spasmodic severity, which irritated without subduing, and forfeited
affection, while it failed to terrify. At all other times, Ireland was
governed by the Norman Irish, and these, as the years went on, were
tempted by their convenience to strengthen themselves by Irish
alliances, to identify their interests with those of the native chiefs,
in order to conciliate their support; to prefer the position of wild and
independent sovereigns, resting on the attachment of a people whose
affections they had gained by learning to resemble them, to that of
military lords over a hostile population, the representatives of a
distant authority, on which they could not rely.

[Sidenote: Peculiar feature of the Irish temper.]

[Sidenote: It possesses the counterfeit of every virtue.]

[Sidenote: Their peculiar charm.]

[Sidenote: The foster-nurses and the minstrels.]

This is a partial account of the Irish difficulty. We must look deeper,
however, for the full interpretation of it; and outward circumstances
never alone suffice to explain a moral transformation. The Roman
military colonists remained Roman alike on the Rhine and on the
Euphrates. The Turkish conquerors caught no infection from Greece, or
from the provinces on the Danube. The Celts in England were absorbed by
the Saxon invaders; and the Mogul and the Anglo-Indian alike have shown
no tendency to assimilate with the Hindoo. When a marked type of human
character yields before another, the change is owing to some element of
power in that other, which coming in contact with elements weaker than
itself, subdues and absorbs them. The Irish spirit, which exercised so
fatal a fascination, was enabled to triumph over the Norman in virtue of
representing certain perennial tendencies of humanity, which are latent
in all mankind, and which opportunity may at any moment develope. It was
not a national spirit--the clans were never united, except by some
common hatred; and the normal relation of the chiefs towards each other
was a relation of chronic war and hostility. It was rather an impatience
of control, a deliberate preference for disorder, a determination in
each individual man to go his own way, whether it was a good way or a
bad, and a reckless hatred of industry. The result was the inevitable
one--oppression, misery, and wrong. But in detail faults and graces were
so interwoven, that the offensiveness of the evil was disguised by the
charm of the good; and even the Irish vices were the counterfeit of
virtues, contrived so cunningly that it was hard to distinguish their
true texture. The fidelity of the clansmen to their leaders was
faultlessly beautiful; extravagance appeared like generosity, and
improvidence like unselfishness; anarchy disguised itself under the name
of liberty; and war and plunder were decorated by poetry as the
honourable occupation of heroic natures. Such were the Irish with whom
the Norman conquerors found themselves in contact; and over them all was
thrown a peculiar imaginative grace, a careless atmosphere of humour,
sometimes gay, sometimes melancholy, always attractive, which at once
disarmed the hand which was raised to strike or punish them. These
spirits were dangerous neighbours. Men who first entered the country at
mature age might be fortified by experience against their influence, but
on the young they must have exerted a charm of fatal potency. The
foster-nurse first chanted the spell over the cradle in wild passionate
melodies.[287] It was breathed in the ears of the growing boy by the
minstrels who haunted the halls,[288] and the lawless attractions of
disorder proved too strong for the manhood which was trained among so
perilous associations.

[Sidenote: A military despotism the only government which could have

[Sidenote: The English statesmen see the necessity, but cannot act upon

[Sidenote: The island all but completely Irish in the 16th century.]

For such a country, therefore, but one form of government could
succeed--an efficient military despotism. The people could be
wholesomely controlled only by an English deputy, sustained by an
English army, and armed with arbitrary power, till the inveterate
turbulence of their tempers had died away under repression, and they had
learnt in their improved condition the value of order and rule. This was
the opinion of all statesmen who possessed any real knowledge of
Ireland, from Lord Talbot under Henry VI. to the latest viceroy who
attempted a milder method and found it fail. "If the king were as wise
as Solomon the Sage," said the report of 1515, "he shall never subdue
the wild Irish to his obedience without dread of the sword and of the
might and strength of his power. As long as they may resist and save
their lives, they will not obey the king."[289] Unfortunately, although
English statesmen were able to see the course which ought to be
followed, it had been too inconvenient to pursue that course. They had
put off the evil day, preferring to close their eyes against the
mischief instead of grappling with it resolutely; and thus, at the
opening of the sixteenth century, when the hitherto neglected barbarians
were about to become a sword in the pope's hands to fight the battle
against the Reformation, the "king's Irish enemies" had recovered all
but absolute possession of the island, and nothing remained of
Strongbow's conquests save the shadow of a titular sovereignty, and a
country strengthened in hostility by the means which had been used to
subdue it.

[Sidenote: Division of the country.]

[Sidenote: The English pale.]

The events on which we are about to enter require for their
understanding a sketch of the position of the various chiefs, as they
were at this time scattered over the island. The English pale,
originally comprising "the four shires," as they were called, of Dublin,
Kildare, Meath, and Uriel, or Louth, had been shorn down to half its old
dimensions. The line extended from Dundalk to Ardee; from Ardee by
Castletown to Kells; thence through Athboy and Trim to the Castle of
Maynooth; from Maynooth it crossed to Claine upon the Liffey, and then
followed up the line of the river to Ballimore Eustace, from which place
it skirted back at the rear of the Wicklow and Dublin mountains to the
forts at Dalkey, seven miles south of Dublin.[290] This narrow strip
alone, some fifty miles long and twenty broad, was in any sense English.
Beyond the borders the common law of England was of no authority; the
king's writ was but a strip of parchment; and the country was parcelled
among a multitude of independent chiefs, who acknowledged no sovereignty
but that of strength, who levied tribute on the inhabitants of the pale
as a reward for a nominal protection of their rights, and as a
compensation for abstaining from the plunder of their farms.[291] Their
swords were their sceptres; their codes of right, the Brehon
traditions,--a convenient system, which was called law, but which in
practice was a happy contrivance for the composition of felonies.[292]

[Sidenote: Ireland beyond the pale absolutely governed by the Irish
chiefs. Their distribution.]

These chiefs, with their dependent clans, were distributed over the four
provinces in the following order. The Geraldines, the most powerful of
the remaining Normans, were divided into two branches. The Geraldines of
the south, under the Earls of Desmond, held Limerick, Cork, and Kerry;
the Geraldines of Leinster lay along the frontiers of the English pale;
and the heads of the house, the Earls of Kildare, were the feudal
superiors of the greater portion of the English counties. To the
Butlers, Earls of Ormond and Ossory, belonged Kilkenny, Carlow, and
Tipperary. The De Burghs, or Bourkes, as they called themselves, were
scattered over Galway, Roscommon, and the south of Sligo, occupying the
broad plains which lie between the Shannon and the mountains of
Connemara and Mayo. This was the relative position into which these
clans had settled at the Conquest, and it had been maintained with
little variation.

[Sidenote: Recovery of the indigenous Irish.]

The north, which had fallen to the Lacies and the De Courcies, had been
wholly recovered by the Irish. The Lacies had become extinct. The De
Courcies, once Earls of Ulster, had migrated to the south, and were
reduced to the petty fief of Kinsale, which they held under the
Desmonds. The Celtic chieftains had returned from the mountains to which
they had been driven, bringing back with them, more intensely than ever,
the Irish habits and traditions. Old men, who were alive in 1533,
remembered a time when the Norman families attempted to live in
something of an English manner,[293] and when there were towns in the
middle of Ireland with decent municipal institutions. The wars of the
Roses had destroyed the remnants of English influence by calling away a
number of leading nobles, such especially as were least infected by the
Irish character; and the native chiefs had reoccupied the lands of their
ancestors, unresisted, if not welcomed as allies. The O'Neils and
O'Donnells had spread down over Ulster to the frontiers of the pale. The
O'Connors and O'Carrolls had recrossed the Shannon, and pushed forwards
into Kildare; the O'Connor Don was established in a castle near
Portarlington, said to be one of the strongest in Ireland; and the
O'Carrolls had seized Leap, an ancient Danish fortress, surrounded by
bog and forest, a few miles from Parsonstown. O'Brien of Inchiquin,
Prince--as he styled himself--of Thomond, no longer contented with his
principality of Clare, had thrown a bridge across the Shannon five miles
above Limerick, and was thus enabled to enter Munster at his pleasure
and spread his authority towards the south; while the M'Carties and
O'Sullivans, in Cork and Kerry, were only not dangerous to the Earls of
Desmond, because the Desmonds were more Irish than themselves, and were
accepted as their natural chiefs.

[Sidenote: The Earls of Ormond only continue to hold them in check.]

[Sidenote: The desire of the Ormonds to maintain the English rule
greater than their power.]

In Tipperary and Kilkenny only the Celtic reaction was held in check.
The Earls of Ormond, although they were obliged themselves to live as
Irish chieftains, and to govern by the Irish law, yet partly from an
inherent nobility of nature, partly through family alliances and a more
sustained intercourse with their English kindred, partly perhaps from
the inveterate feud of their house with the Geraldines of Kildare,
remained true to their allegiance, and maintained the English authority
so far as their power extended. That power, unfortunately, was
incommensurate with their good will, and their situation prevented them
from rendering the assistance to the crown which they desired. Wexford,
Wicklow, and the mountains of Dublin, were occupied by the Highland
tribes of O'Bryne and O'Toole, who, in their wild glens and dangerous
gorges, defied attempts to conquer them, and who were able, at all
times, issuing down out of the passes of the hills, to cut off
communication with the pale. Thus the Butlers had no means of reaching
Dublin except through the county of Kildare, the home of their
hereditary rivals and foes.

[Sidenote: Sixty chief lords in Ireland, who made war and peace for
themselves, and obeyed only the sword.]

[Sidenote: In each of these sixty districts divers petty captains, who
claimed a like independence.]

This is a general account of the situation of the various parties in
Ireland at the beginning of the sixteenth century. I have spoken only of
the leading families; and I have spoken of them as if they possessed
some feudal supremacy,--yet even this slight thread of order was in many
cases without real consistency, and was recognised only when fear, or
passion, or interest, prompted. "There be sixty counties, called
regions, in Ireland," says the report of 1515, "inhabited with the
king's Irish enemies, some regions as big as a shire, some more, some
less, where reigneth more than sixty chief captains, whereof some
calleth themselves kings, some king's peers in their language, some
princes, some dukes, that liveth only by the sword, and obeyeth to no
other temporal person save only to himself that is strong. And every of
the said captains maketh war and peace for himself, and holdeth by the
sword, and hath imperial jurisdiction, and obeyeth no other person,
English or Irish, except only to such persons as may subdue him by the
sword.... Also, in every of the said regions, there be divers petty
captains, and every of them maketh war and peace for himself, without
licence of his chief captain.... And there be more than thirty of the
English noble folk that followeth this same Irish order, and keepeth the
same rule."[294] Every man, in short, who could raise himself to that
dishonourable position, was captain of a troop of banditti, and counted
it his chief honour to live upon the plunder of his neighbour.

[Sidenote: Why anarchy did not work its own cure.]

[Sidenote: Extreme misery of the people.]

This condition of things might have been expected to work its own cure.
The earth will not support human life uncultivated, and men will not
labour without some reasonable hope that they will enjoy the fruit of
their labour. Anarchy, therefore, is usually shortlived, and perishes of
inanition. Unruly persons must either comply with the terms on which
alone they are permitted to subsist, and consent to submit to some kind
of order, or they must die. The Irish, however, were enabled to escape
from this most wholesome provision by the recklessness of the people,
who preferred any extremity of suffering to the endurance of the least
restraint, and by the tyranny under which the labouring poor were
oppressed. In England, the same hands were trained to hold the sword and
to hold the plough. The labourers and the artisans in peace were the
soldiers in war. In Ireland, labour was treated as disgraceful; the
chiefs picked out the strongest and fiercest of their subjects, and
trained them only to fight; the labourers were driven to the field as
beasts of burden, and compelled to work on the chance that the harvest
might be secured. By this precarious means, with the addition of the
wild cattle which roamed in thousands among the woods and bogs,
sufficient sustenance was extracted from the soil to support a scanty
population, the majority of whom were supposed to be the most wretched
specimens of human nature which could be found upon the globe. "What
common folk in all this world," the report says, "is so poor, so feeble,
so evil beseen in town and field, so bestial, so greatly oppressed and
trodden under foot, fares so evil, with so great misery, and with so
wretched life, as the common folk of Ireland? What pity is here, what
ruth is to report, there is no tongue that can tell, ne person that can
write. It passeth far the orators and muses all to shew the order of the
nobles, and how cruel they entreateth the poor common people. What
danger it is to the king against God to suffer his land, whereof he
bears the charge and the cure temporal, to be in the said misorder so
long without remedy. It were more honour to surrender his claim thereto,
and to make no longer prosecution thereof, than to suffer his poor
subjects always to be so oppressed, and all the nobles of the land to be
at war within themselves, always shedding of Christian blood without
remedy. The herd must render account for his fold; and the king for

[Sidenote: Irish and English estimate of the same phenomenon.]

The English writer did not exaggerate the picture, for his description
is too abundantly confirmed in every page of the Celtic Annalists, with
only but a single difference. To the Englishman the perpetual
disturbance appeared a dishonour and disgrace; to the Celt it was the
normal and natural employment of human beings, in the pursuit of which
lay the only glory and the only manly pleasure.

A population of such a character presented in itself a difficulty
sufficiently formidable; and this difficulty was increased by the
character of the family on whom the circumstances of their position
most obliged the English government to rely. There were two methods of
maintaining the show of English sovereignty. Either an English deputy
might reside in Dublin, supported by a standing army; or it was
necessary to place confidence in one or other of the great Irish
noblemen, and to govern through him. Either method had its
disadvantages. The expense of the first was enormous, for the pay of the
common soldier was sixpence or eightpence a-day--an equivalent of six or
eight shillings; and as the arrival of an English deputy was the signal
for a union throughout Ireland of all septs and clans against a common
enemy, his presence was worse than useless, unless he could maintain a
body of efficient troops numerous enough to cope with the coalition. At
the same time the cost, great as it would have been, must have fallen
wholly on the crown, for the parliaments would make no grants of money
for the support of a mercenary army, except on extraordinary

On the other hand, to choose an Irish deputy was to acquiesce in
disorder, and to lend a kind of official sanction to it. It was
inexpensive, however, and therefore convenient; and evils which were not
actually felt in perpetual demands for money, and in uncomfortable
reports, could for a time be forgotten or ignored. In this direction lay
all the temptations. The condition of the country was only made known to
the English government through the deputy, who could represent it in
such colours as he pleased; and the government could persuade themselves
that evils no longer complained of had ceased to exist.

[Sidenote: The government of Ireland conducted by Irish noblemen.]

[Sidenote: Coyne and livery extorted by the deputies.]

[Sidenote: The people unprotected even within the pale.]

This latter method, therefore, found most favour in London. Irish
noblemen were glad to accept the office of deputy, and to discharge it
at a low salary or none; but it was in order to abuse their authority
for their personal advantage. They indemnified themselves for their
exertions to keep order, which was not kept, by the extortion which they
practised in the name of the government which they represented; and thus
deservedly made the English rule more than ever detested. Instead of
receiving payment, they were allowed while deputies what was called
"coyne and livery"; that is to say, they were allowed to levy military
service, and to quarter their followers on the farmers and poor
gentlemen of the pale; or else to raise fines in composition, under
pretence that they were engaged in the service of the crown. The entire
cost of this system was estimated at the enormous sum of a hundred
pounds a day.[296] The exactions might have been tolerated if the people
had been repaid by protection; but forced as they were to pay black
mail at the same time to the Irish borderers, the double burdens had the
effect of driving every energetic settler out of the pale, and his place
was filled by some poor Irishman whom use had made acquainted with

[Sidenote: The Geraldines of Kildare, from their position, the natural

[Sidenote: The policy of the Geraldines to make the government
impossible except to themselves.]

Nor was extortion the only advantage which the Irish deputies obtained
from their office. They prosecuted their private feuds with the revenues
of the state. They connived at the crimes of any chieftain who would
join their faction. Every conceivable abuse in the administration of the
government attended the possession of power by the Geraldines of
Kildare, and yet by the Geraldines it was almost inevitable that the
power should be held. The choice lay between the Kildares and the
Ormonds. No other nobleman could pretend to compete with these two. The
Earls of Desmond only could take rank as their equals; and the lordships
of Desmond were at the opposite extremity of the island. The services of
the Earls of Ormond were almost equally unavailable. When an Earl of
Ormond was residing at Dublin as deputy, he was separated from his clan
by fifty miles of dangerous road. The policy of the Geraldines was to
secure the government for themselves by making it impossible for any
other person to govern; and the appointment of their rival was a signal
for the revolt of the entire clan, both in Leinster and Munster. The
Butlers were too weak to resist this combination; and inasmuch as they
were themselves always loyal when a Geraldine was in power, and the
Geraldines were disloyal when a Butler was in power, the desire to hush
up the difficulty, and to secure a show of quiet, led to the consistent
preference of the more convenient chief.

There were qualities also in the Kildare family which gave them peculiar
influence, not in Ireland only, but at the English court. Living like
wild Irish in their castle at Maynooth, they appeared in London with the
address of polished courtiers. When the complaints against them became
too serious to neglect, they were summoned to give account of their
conduct. They had only to present themselves before the council, and it
was at once impossible to believe that the frank, humorous, high-minded
gentlemen at the bar could be the monsters who were charged with so
fearful crimes. Their ever-ready wit and fluent words, their show of
bluntness and pretence of simplicity, disarmed anger and dispersed
calumny; and they returned on all such occasions to Ireland more trusted
than ever, to laugh at the folly which they had duped.

[Sidenote: The eighth Earl of Kildare in rebellion against Henry VII.]

[Sidenote: He appears before the council,]

[Sidenote: Who decide that since Ireland cannot govern him, he must
govern Ireland.]

The farce had already continued through two generations at the opening
of the Reformation. Gerald, the eighth earl, was twice in rebellion
against Henry VII. He crowned Lambert Simnel with his own hand; when
Lambert Simnel fell, he took up Perkin Warbeck; and under pretence of
supporting a competitor for the crown, carried fire and sword through
Ireland. At length, when England was quiet, Sir Edward Poynings was sent
to Dublin to put down this new King-maker. He took the earl prisoner,
with some difficulty, and despatched him to London, where he appeared at
the council-board, hot-handed from murder and treason. The king told him
that heavy accusations would be laid to his charge, and that he had
better choose some counsel to plead his cause. The earl looked at him
with a smile of simplicity. "I will choose the ablest in England," he
said; "your Highness I take for my counsel against these false
knaves."[298] The accusations were proceeded with. Among other
enormities, Kildare had burnt the cathedral at Cashel, and the
archbishop was present as witness and prosecutor. The earl confessed his
offence: "but by Jasus," he added, "I would not have done it if I had
not been told that my lord archbishop was inside."[299] The insolent
wit, and the danger of punishing so popular a nobleman, passed the reply
as sufficient. The council laughed. "All Ireland cannot govern this
earl," said one. "Then let this earl govern all Ireland," was the prompt
answer of Henry VII.[300] He was sent over a convicted traitor,--he
returned a knight of the Garter, lord deputy, and the representative of
the crown. Rebellion was a successful policy, and a lesson which
corresponded so closely to the Irish temper was not forgotten.

[Sidenote: Rebellion prospers with the Geraldines]

"What, thou fool," said Sir Gerald Shaneson to a younger son of this
nobleman, thirty years later, when he found him slow to join the
rebellion against Henry VIII. "What, thou fool, thou shalt be the more
esteemed for it. For what hadst thou, if thy father had not done so?
What was he until he crowned a king here, took Garth, the king's
captain, prisoner, hanged his son, resisted Poynings and all deputies;
killed them of Dublin upon Oxmantown Green; would suffer no man to rule
here for the king but himself! Then the king regarded him, and made him
deputy, and married thy mother to him;[301] or else thou shouldst never
have had a foot of land, where now thou mayest dispend four hundred
marks by the year."[302]

These scornful words express too truly the position of the Earl of
Kildare, which, however, he found it convenient to disguise under a
decent exterior. The borders of the pale were partially extended; the
O'Tooles were driven further into the Wicklow mountains, and an outlying
castle was built to overawe them at Powerscourt. Some shadow of a
revenue was occasionally raised; and by this show of service, and
because change would involve the crown in expense, he was allowed to go
his own way. He held his ground till the close of his life, and dying,
he left behind him a son trained on his father's model, and who followed
with the utmost faithfulness in his father's steps.

[Sidenote: Gerald, ninth earl, becomes deputy, 1513.]

[Sidenote: Is deposed in 1520, and the Earl of Surrey takes his place.]

Gerald, son of Gerald, ninth earl, became deputy, almost it seemed by
right of inheritance, in 1513; and things were allowed to continue in
their old course for another five years; when at length Henry VIII.
awoke to the disgrace which the condition of the country reflected upon
him. The report of 1515 was the first step gained; the Earl of Ormond
contributed to the effect produced by the report, with representations
of the conduct of the deputy, who had been fortifying his own castle
with government stores; and the result was a resolution to undertake
measures of real vigour. In 1520, the Earl of Kildare was deprived of
his office, and sent for to England. His place was taken by the Earl of
Surrey, who of all living Englishmen combined in the highest degree the
necessary qualities of soldier and statesman. It seemed as if the old
weak forbearance was to last no longer, and as if Ireland was now
finally to learn the needful lesson of obedience.

[Sidenote: The report had said that the Irish could never be reformed
except by force.]

But the first efforts to cure an inveterate evil rarely succeed; and
Henry VIII., like every other statesman who has undertaken to reform
Ireland, was to purchase experience by failure. The report had declared
emphatically that the Irish chiefs would never submit so long as they
might resist, and escape with their lives; that conciliation would be
only interpreted as weakness; and that the tyrannical lords and
gentlemen must be coerced into equity by the sword freely used.

[Sidenote: The king will not believe it.]

The king, however, was young and sanguine; he was unable to accept so
hard a conclusion; he could not believe that any body of human beings
were so hopelessly inaccessible to the ordinary means of influence as
the Irish gentlemen were represented to be. He would first try
persuasion, and have recourse to extremity only if persuasion failed.

[Sidenote: Lord Surrey is to lecture the chiefs on the principles of

His directions to the Earl of Surrey, therefore, were that at the
earliest opportunity he should call an assembly of so many of the Irish
chiefs as he could induce to come to him, and to discourse to them upon
the elementary principles of social order and government.

[Sidenote: He is to teach them that realms without justice be but

[Sidenote: He is not, however, to threaten,]

[Sidenote: But he is to persuade,]

[Sidenote: And they may obey their own laws if they prefer it, if those
laws be good and reasonable, so only that they obey some law, and do not
live at will.]

"We think it expedient," he wrote, "that when ye shall call the lords
and other captains of that our land before you, as of good congruence ye
must needs do; ye, after and amongst other overtures by your wisdom then
to be made, shall declare unto them the great decay, ruin, and
desolation of that commodious and fertile land, for lack of politic
governance and good justice; which can never be brought in order unless
the unbridled sensualities of insolent folk be brought under the rule of
the laws. For realms without justice be but tyrannies and robberies,
more consonant to beastly appetites than to the laudable life of
reasonable creatures. And whereas wilfulness doth reign by strength
without law or justice, there is no distinction of propriety in
dominion; ne yet any man may say this is mine, but by strength the
weaker is subdued and oppressed, which is contrary to all laws, both of
God and man.... Howbeit, our mind is, not that ye shall impress on them
any opinion by fearful words, that we intend to expel them from their
lands and dominions lawfully possessed; ne yet that we be minded to
constrain them precisely to obey our laws, ministered by our justices
there; but under good manner to show unto them that of necessity it is
requisite that every reasonable creature be governed by a law. And
therefore, if they shall allege that our laws there used be too extreme
and rigorous; and that it should be very hard for them to observe the
same; then ye may further ensearch of them under what manners, and by
what laws, they will be ordered and governed, to the intent that if
their laws be good and reasonable, they may be approved; and the rigour
of our laws, if they shall think them too hard, be mitigated and brought
to such moderation as they may conveniently live under the same. By
which means ye shall finally induce them of necessity to conform their
order of living to the observance of some reasonable law, and not to
live at will as they have used heretofore."[303]

[Sidenote: Surrey greeted with instant rebellion,]

[Sidenote: instigated by Kildare.]

[Sidenote: Advice of Surrey to do all or nothing.]

So wrote Henry in 1520, being then twenty-eight years old, in his
inexperience of human nature, and especially of the Irish form of it. No
words could be truer, wiser, or more generous; but those only listen
effectively to words of wisdom and generosity, who themselves possess
something of the same qualities; and the Irish would not have required
that such an address should be made to them if they had been capable of
profiting by it. If Surrey was sanguine of any good result, he was soon
undeceived. He had no sooner landed than the whole country was in arms
against him,--O'Neile, O'Carroll, O'Connor, O'Brien, Desmond, broke into
simultaneous rebellion, acting, as was proved by intercepted
letters,[304] under instructions which Kildare had sent from England.
Surrey saw at a glance the justice of the language of the report. He
informed Wolsey briefly of the state of the country, and advised that
unless the king was prepared for extreme measures, he should not waste
money in partial efforts.[305] Writing subsequently to Henry himself, he
said that the work to be done was a repetition of the conquest of Wales
by Edward I, and it would prove at least, as tedious and as expensive.
Nevertheless, if the king could make up his mind to desire it, there was
no insuperable difficulty. He would undertake the work himself with six
thousand men. The difficulty would be then, however, but half overcome,
for the habits of the people were incurable. Strong castles must be
built up and down the island, like those at Conway and Carnarvon; and a
large immigration would be necessary of English colonists.[306] Either
as much as this should be done, the earl thought, or nothing. Half
measures only made bad into worse; and a policy of repression, if not
consistently maintained, was unjust and pernicious. It encouraged the
better affected of the inhabitants to show their good will to the
government; and when the Irish were again in power, these persons were
marked for vengeance.

[Sidenote: The king persists in a middle way; and Surrey at length
desires his recal.]

Practical experience was thus laid against Henry's philosophy; and it
would have been well if the king could have discerned clearly on which
side the truth was likely to lie. For the misfortune of Ireland, this
was not the case. It was inconvenient at the moment to undertake a
costly conquest. Surrey was maintained with a short retinue, and from
want of power could only enter upon a few partial expeditions. He
inflicted a heavy defeat upon O'Neile; he stormed a castle of
O'Connor's; and showed, with the small means at his disposal, what he
might have done with far less support than he had required. He went
where he pleased through the country. But his course was "as the way of
a ship through the sea, or as the way of a bird through the air." The
elements yielded without resistance, and closed in behind him; and,
after eighteen months of manful exertion, feeling the uselessness of
further enterprises conducted on so small a scale, to the sorrow and
alarm of the Irish council, he desired and obtained his recal.[307]

[Sidenote: Kildare finds favour.]

[Sidenote: Kildare returns to Ireland. Lord Ormond deputy.]

[Sidenote: The Geraldines rebel,]

Meanwhile, in England, the Earl of Kildare had made good use of his
opportunities. In spite of his detected letters, he had won his way into
favour. He accompanied Henry to the Field of the Cloth of Gold, where he
distinguished himself by his brilliant bearing; and instead of punishing
him as a traitor, the king allowed him to marry Lady Elizabeth Grey,
daughter of the Marquis of Dorset, and nearly related to the blood
royal. He was permitted to return to Ireland; not, however, immediately
as deputy. An intermediate effort was made to govern through Lord
Ormond, whose intentions were excellent, but unfortunately the Irish
refused to submit to him. The Earl of Desmond remained in rebellion, and
invaded Kilkenny from the south; and two years followed of universal
insurrection, pillage, and murder. Kildare accused Ormond to the English
council as responsible;[308] Ormond retorted with similar charges
against Kildare; and commissioners were sent over to "investigate," with
instructions, if they saw reason, to replace Kildare in his old office.

[Sidenote: And Kildare is restored.]

[Sidenote: Desmond makes a league with Francis I.,]

[Sidenote: Kildare secretly conniving at it, and preparing for a general

[Sidenote: The state of Ireland becomes at last dangerous.]

The permission was sufficient; in 1524 he was again deputy; and no
deliberate purpose of misrule could have led to results more fatal. The
earl, made bold by impunity, at once prepared for a revolt from the
English crown. Hitherto he had been contented to make himself essential
to the maintenance of the English sovereignty; he now launched out into
bolder measures, and encouraged by Henry's weakness, resolved to dare
the worst extremity. On the breaking out of the French war of 1523-24,
his kinsman, the Earl of Desmond, opened a negotiation with Francis I.
for the landing of a French army in Munster.[309] Kildare, while
professing that he was endeavouring to take Desmond prisoner, was
holding secret interviews with him to concert plans for a united
move,[310] and was strengthening himself at the same time with alliances
among the native chiefs. One of his daughters became the wife of the
O'Connor; another married O'Carroll, of Leap Castle; and a third the
Baron of Slane;[311] and to leave no doubt of his intentions, he
transferred the cannon and military stores from Dublin Castle to his own
fortress at Maynooth. Lord Ormond sent information to England of these
proceedings, but he could gain no hearing. For three years the
Geraldines were allowed to continue their preparations undisturbed; and
perhaps they might have matured their plans at leisure, so odious had
become the mention of Ireland to the English statesmen, had not the
king's divorce, by embroiling him with the pope and emperor, made the
danger serious.

[Sidenote: Desmond applies to the emperor.]

[Sidenote: Kildare again in London, and committed to the Tower.]

[Sidenote: O'Connor invades the pale, and takes the vice-deputy

The alliance of England and France had disconcerted the first scheme. No
sooner was this new opportunity opened than, with Kildare's consent,
Desmond applied to Charles V. with similar overtures.[312] This danger
was too serious to be neglected; and in 1527, Kildare was a second time
summoned to London. He went, so confident was he of the weakness of the
government, and again he was found to have calculated justly. He was
arraigned before the council, overwhelmed with invectives by
Wolsey,[313] and sent to the Tower. But he escaped by his old art. No
sooner was he committed, than Lady Elizabeth Fitzgerald, who had
accompanied him to England, hurried back across the Channel to the
castle of her brother-in-law, O'Connor.[314] The robber chief instantly
rose and attacked the pale. The Marchers opened their lines to give his
banditti free passage into the interior;[315] and he seized and carried
off prisoner the Baron of Delvin, who had been made vice-deputy on
Kildare's departure. Desmond meanwhile held Ormond in check at Kilkenny,
and prevented him from sending assistance to Dublin; and the Irish
council were at once prostrate and helpless.

[Sidenote: The Duke of Richmond viceroy.]

[Sidenote: Skeffington made deputy to govern with the help of Kildare.]

Henry VIII., on receipt of this intelligence, instead of sending Kildare
to the block and equipping an army, condescended to write a letter of
remonstrance to O'Connor. "A letter from the king!" said the insolent
chieftain when it was brought to him, "what king! If I may live one
year, I trust to see Ireland in that case that there shall be no more
mention here of the King of England than of the King of Spain,"[316]
Still, however, it was thought inconvenient to venture extremities.
Henry allowed himself to make use of Kildare's assistance to soothe the
immediate storm.[317] An old desire of the Irish had been that some
prince of the blood should govern them;[318] he nominated therefore, his
natural son, the Duke of Richmond as viceroy; and having no adequate
force in Ireland to resist an insurrection, and no immediate means of
despatching any such force, he was once more obliged to pardon and
restore the traitorous Geraldine; appointing, at the same time, Sir
William Skeffington, a moderately able man, though too old for duty, as
the Duke of Richmond's deputy, and directing him to govern with the
advice and coöperation of the Earl of Kildare.

[Sidenote: John Allen appointed Archbishop of Dublin.]

To this disastrous weakness there was but one counterpoise--that the
English party in the council of Ireland was strengthened by the
appointment of John Allen to the archbishopric of Dublin and the office
of chancellor. Allen was one of the many men of talent who owed their
elevation to Wolsey. He was now sent over to keep watch on Kildare, and
to supply the government with accurate information which might be relied
upon as a ground for action. Till this time (and the fact is one which
ought to be borne in mind), the government had been forced to depend for
their knowledge of the state of the country either on the
representations of the deputy, or the private accusations of his
personal enemies; both of them exceedingly untrustworthy sources.
Henceforward there runs a clear stream of light through the fog and
night of confusion, furnished either by the archbishop or by Allen,
Master of the Rolls, who was most likely his kinsman.

[Sidenote: Kildare a third time deputy.]

[Sidenote: Saturnalia of madness.]

[Sidenote: Despatch of the two Allens.]

[Sidenote: Till great men suffered there would be no peace in Ireland.]

The policy of conciliation, if conduct so feeble deserves to be called a
policy at all, had now reached its limit; and it amounted to confessed
imbecility. Twice deposed from power on clear evidence of high treason,
Lord Kildare was once more restored. It cost him but a little time to
deliver himself of the presence of Skeffington; and in 1532 he was again
sole deputy. All which the Earl of Surrey had foretold came to pass.
Archbishop Allen was deprived of the chancellorship, and the Archbishop
of Armagh, a creature of the Geraldines, was substituted in his place.
Those noblemen and gentlemen who had lent themselves to the interests of
the English in the earl's absence were persecuted, imprisoned, or
murdered. They had ventured to be loyal from a belief in the assurances
which had been made to them; but the government was far off and Kildare
was near; and such of them as he condescended to spare "were now driven
in self-defence, maugre their wills, to follow with the rest."[319] The
wind which filled the sails of the ship in which Kildare returned, blew
into flames the fires of insurrection; and in a very Saturnalia of Irish
madness the whole people, with no object that could be discovered but
for very delight in disorder itself, began to tear themselves to pieces.
Lord Thomas Butler was murdered by the Geraldines; Kildare himself was
shot through the body in a skirmish; Powerscourt was burnt by the
O'Tooles; and Dublin Castle was sacked in a sudden foray by O'Brien Oge.
O'Neile was out in the north; Desmond in the south; and the English pale
was overrun by brigands.[320] Ireland had found its way into its ideal
condition--that condition towards which its instincts perpetually
tended, and which at length it had undisputedly reached. The Allens
furnished the king with a very plain report of the effect of his
leniency. They dwelt boldly on the mistakes which had been made.
Reëchoing the words of the Report of 1515, they declared that the only
hope for the country was to govern by English deputies; and that to
grudge the cost seemed "consonant to the nature of him that rather than
he will depart with fourpence he will jeopard to lose twenty
shillings--which fourpence, disbursed in time, might have saved the
other."[321] They spoke well of the common Irish. "If well governed,"
they said, "the Irish would be found as civil, politic, and active, as
any other nation. But what subjects under any prince in the world," they
asked, "would love or defend the rights of that prince who,
notwithstanding their true hearts and obedience, would afterwards put
them under the governance of such as would persecute and destroy them?"
Faith must be kept with those to whom promises had been made, and the
habit of rewarding treason with concessions must be brought to an end.
"Till great men suffer for their offences," they added, significantly,
"your subjects within the English pale shall never live in quietness,
nor stand sure of their goods and lives. Therefore, let your deputy have
in commandment to do justice upon great thieves and malefactors, and to
spare your pardons."[322]

These were but words, and such words had been already spoken too often
to deaf ears; but the circumstances of the time were each day growing
more perilous, and necessity, the true mother of statesmanship, was
doing its work at last.

[Sidenote: Henry awakes at last.]

The winter months passed away, bringing only an increase of
wretchedness. At length opened the eventful year of 1534, and Henry
learnt that excommunication was hanging over him--that a struggle for
life or death had commenced--and that the imperial armies were preparing
to strike in the quarrel. From that time onward the King of England
became a new man. Hitherto he had hesitated, temporized, delayed--not
with Ireland only, but with the manifold labours which were thrust upon
him. At last he was awake. And, indeed, it was high time. With a
religious war apparently on the eve of explosion, he could ill tolerate
a hotbed of sedition at his door; and Irish sedition was about to
receive into itself a new element, which was to make it trebly

[Sidenote: The religious element is introduced into Irish sedition.]

Until that moment the disorders in Ireland had arisen out of a natural
preference for anarchy. Every man's hand was against his neighbour, and
the clans made war on each other only for revenge and plunder and the
wild delight of the game. These private quarrels were now to be merged
in a single cause--a cause which was to lend a fresh stimulus to their
hatred of England, and was at once to create and consecrate a national
Irish spirit.

[Sidenote: The pope finds in the Irish a ready-made army.]

The Irish were eminently Catholic; not in the high sense of the
word,--for "the noble folk" could "oppress and spoil the prelates of the
Church of Christ of their possessions and liberties" without particular
scruple,[323]--but the country was covered with churches and monasteries
in a proportion to the population far beyond what would have been found
in any other country in Europe; and there are forms of superstition
which can walk hand in hand with any depth of crime, when that
superstition is provided with a talisman which will wash away the stains
of guilt. The love of fighting was inherent, at the same time, in the
Celtic nature. And such a people, when invited to indulge their humour
in the cause or the church, were an army of insurrection ready made to
the hands of the popes, the value of which their Holinesses were not
slow to learn, as they have not been quick to forget.[324]

Henry was aware of the correspondence of Desmond with the emperor. He,
perhaps, also expected that the fiction might be retorted upon him (as
it actually was) which had been invented to justify the first conquest
of the island. If Ireland was a fief of the pope, the same power which
had made a present of it to Henry II. might as justly take it away from
Henry VIII.; and the peril of his position roused him at length to an
effort. It was an effort still clogged by fatality, and less than the
emergency required: but it was a beginning, and it was something.

[Sidenote: February. Kildare a third time called to England.]

[Sidenote: Kildare is sent to the Tower.]

[Sidenote: Lord Thomas Fitzgerald vice-deputy.]

In February, 1534, a month before Clement pronounced his sentence, the
Earl of Kildare was required, for the third and last time, to appear and
answer for his offences; and a third time he ventured to obey. But
England had become a changed world in the four years which had passed
since his last presence there, and the brazen face and fluent lips were
to serve him no more. On his arrival in London he was sent to the Tower,
and discovered that he had overstepped his limits at last.[325] He was
now shrewd enough to see that, if a revolt was contemplated, no time was
to be lost. He must play his last card, or his influence was gone for
ever. Lord Thomas Fitzgerald, his eldest son, who in his boyhood had
resided in England,[326] had been left as vice-deputy in his father's
absence. The earl before his departure had taken precautions to place
the fortresses of the pale, with the arms and ammunition belonging to
the government, in the hands of dependents whom he could absolutely
trust. No sooner was his arrest known than, in compliance with secret
instructions which had been left with them, or were sent from England,
his friends determined upon rebellion.[327]

[Sidenote: June. The emperor sends an agent to the Earl of Desmond.]

The opportunity was well chosen. The government of Ireland was in
disorder. Skeffington was designed for Kildare's successor, but he was
not yet appointed; nor was he to cross the Channel till he had collected
a strong body of troops, which was necessarily a work of time. The
conditional excommunication of the king was then freshly published; and
counsels, there is reason to think, were guiding the Irish movement,
which had originated in a less distempered brain than that of an Irish
chieftain. Rumours were flying in the southern counties in the middle of
June that a Spanish invasion might be immediately looked for, and the
emperor's chaplain was with the Earl of Desmond. His mission, it was
said, was to prepare the way for an imperial army; and Desmond himself
was fortifying Dungarvan, the port at which an invading force could most
conveniently land.[328] There is, therefore, a strong probability that
Charles V., who had undertaken to execute the papal sentence in the
course of the summer, was looking for the most vulnerable point at which
to strike; and, not venturing to invade England, was encouraging an
Irish rebellion, with a view to following up his success if the
commencement proved auspicious.[329]

[Sidenote: Lord Thomas Fitzgerald proclaims Henry accursed, and calls on
the country to rise.]

[Sidenote: June 11. He appears before the council in St. Mary's abbey,
and declares formal war.]

Simultaneously with the arrival of these unwelcome news, the English
government were informed by letters from Dublin, that Lord Thomas
Fitzgerald had thrown off his allegiance, and had committed infinite
murders, burnings, and robbings in the English pale; making "his avaunt
and boast that he was of the pope's sect and band, and that him he would
serve, against the king and all his partakers; that the King of England
was accursed, and as many as took his part."[330] The signal for the
explosion was given with a theatrical bravado suited to the novel
dignity of the cause. Never before had an Irish massacre been graced by
a papal sanction, and it was necessary to mark the occasion by unusual
form. The young lord, Silken Thomas, as he was called, was twenty-one
years old, an accomplished Irish cavalier. He was vice-deputy, or so he
considered himself: and unwilling to tarnish the honour of his loyal
house by any action which could be interpreted into treachery, he
commenced with a formal surrender of his office, and a declaration of
war. On the eleventh of June the council were sitting in St. Mary's
abbey, when a galloping of horses was heard, and Lord Thomas, at the
head of a hundred and forty of the young Geraldines, dashed up to the
gate, and springing off his horse, strode into the assembly. The council
rose, but he ordered them to sit still, and taking the sword of state in
his hand, he spoke in Irish to the following effect:--

"However injuriously we be handled, and forced to defend ourselves in
arms, when neither our service, nor our good meaning towards our
prince's crown availeth, yet say not hereafter, but in this open
hostility which we profess here, and proclaim, we have showed ourselves
no villains nor churls, but warriors and gentlemen. This sword of state
is yours, and not mine; I received it with an oath and have used it to
your benefit. I should offend mine honour if I turned the same to your
annoyance. Now I have need of mine own sword which I dare trust. As for
this common sword, it flattereth me with a golden scabbard; but it hath
in it a pestilent edge, and whetteth itself in hope of a destruction.
Save yourselves from us, as from open enemies. I am none of Henry's
deputy; I am his foe; I have more mind to conquer than to govern, to
meet him in the field than to serve him in office. If all the hearts of
England and Ireland that have cause thereto would join in this quarrel,
as I trust they will, then should he be a byword, as I trust he shall,
for his heresy, lechery, and tyranny; wherein the age to come may score
him among the ancient princes of most abominable and hateful
memory."[331] "With that," says Campion, "he rendered up his sword,
adding to his shameful oration many other slanderous and foul terms."

Cromer, Lord Chancellor and Archbishop of Armagh, a creature of Kildare,
"more like his parish priest or chaplain, than king's chancellor,"[332]
who had been prepared beforehand, rose, and affected remonstrance; but,
speaking in English, his words were not understood by the crowd. A bard
in the Geraldine train cut short his speech with an Irish battle chant;
and the wild troop rushed, shouting, out of the abbey, and galloped from
the town.

[Sidenote: Pillage and massacre.]

[Sidenote: The people of the pale join the rebels.]

[Sidenote: He summons Dublin.]

[Sidenote: Archbishop Cromer implores Sir John White, the English
commander, to surrender.]

In these mock heroics there need not have been anything worse than
folly; but Irish heroism, like Irish religion, was unfortunately
limited to words and feelings. The generous defiance in the cause of the
Catholic faith was followed by pillage and murder, the usual
accompaniments of Irish insurrection, as a sort of initial holocaust to
propitiate success. The open country was at the mercy of the rebels.
Fitzgerald, joined by O'Connor, proceeded to swear-in all such of the
inhabitants of the pale as would unite against England; promising
protection if they would consent, but inflicting fire and sword wherever
he met refusal. The unfortunate people, warned by experience that no
service was worse requited in Ireland than loyalty, had no spirit to
resist. The few who were obnoxious were killed; the remainder submitted;
and the growing corn was destroyed, and the farms were burnt, up to the
gates of Dublin, that when the English army arrived, they might find
neither food to maintain, nor houses to shelter them.[333] The first
object of Fitzgerald, however, was to seize Dublin itself, where a
portion of the citizens were in his favour. In the last week in July he
appeared with his followers under the walls; a small force which had
attempted to resist was defeated and driven in; and, under a threat of
burning the city, if he was refused, he demanded the surrender of town
and castle. The danger was immediate. The provident treachery of
Kildare, in stripping the castle of its stores and cannon, had made
defence all but impossible. Ormond was far off, and weeks must pass
before relief could arrive from England. Sir John White, an English
gentleman, with a handful of men-at-arms, had military command of the
city; and the Archbishop of Armagh implored him to have pity on the
citizens, and not to expose them to the consequences of a storm.[334]
White was too stout a soldier to listen to such timid counsels; yet his
position was one of extreme difficulty; his little garrison was too weak
to defend the lines of the town, without the assistance of the citizens,
and the citizens were divided and dispirited. He resolved at, length to
surrender the city, and defend the castle to the last. Fitzgerald
threatened that he would hold the townsmen responsible for the
submission of the troops; but, savage as the English commander knew him
to be, he calculated, with justice, that he would not ruin his
popularity by cutting the throats of an unresisting crowd.

[Sidenote: White surrenders the city, and withdraws into the castle.]

[Sidenote: Siege of the castle, July 27.]

[Sidenote: Archbishop Allen endeavours to escape into England.]

[Sidenote: The ship is run ashore at Clontarf.]

[Sidenote: The archbishop is taken to the village of Artayne,]

[Sidenote: And murdered.]

Hastily gathering together sufficient stores to enable him to hold out
for a few weeks, and such arms and ammunition as could be collected in
the emergency, White withdrew into the fortress, taking with him the
Master of the Rolls, the Chief Baron, and such other of the council as
desired to be his companions. The inhabitants of Dublin were then
empowered to make terms with the rebels. The gates were opened on
Fitzgerald's promise to respect life and property, the city was
occupied, and siege was immediately laid to the castle. This was on the
27th of July. The morning which followed was marked by one of those
atrocities which have so often unfortunately distinguished Irish
rebellions. Archbishop Allen, to whose exertions the exposure of
Kildare's proceedings had been principally due, either fearing the
possible consequences to himself if the castle was taken, as the Irish
writers say,[335] or more probably to hasten in person the arrival of
the deputy and his troops, instead of remaining with White, volunteered
to cross to England; and before the gates were opened, he went on board
a vessel and dropped down the river. He had placed himself unknowingly
in the hands of traitors, for the ship was commanded by a
Geraldine,[336] and in the night which followed was run aground at
Clontarf, close to the mouth of the Liffey. The country was in
possession of the insurgents, the crew were accomplices, and the
stranded vessel, on the retreat of the tide, was soon surrounded. The
archbishop was partly persuaded, partly compelled to go on shore, and
was taken by two dependents of the Earl of Kildare to a farm house in
the village of Artayne. Here he was permitted to retire to bed; but if
he slept, it was for an early and a cruel wakening. The news of his
capture was carried to Fitzgerald, who was then in the city, but a few
miles distant, and the young lord, with three of his uncles, was on the
spot by daybreak. They entered the house and ordered Allen to be brought
before them. The archbishop was dragged from his bed; and in his shirt
as he was, bare-legged and bare-headed, he dropt upon his knees, and
begged for mercy. As well might the sheep have asked mercy of the
famished wolf. He had but time to bequeath his soul to heaven, and his
skull was cloven as he knelt; and, to make clean work, his chaplains,
his servants, all of English blood who were with him, were slaughtered
over his body.[337] Such was the pious offering to God and holy church
on which the sun looked down as it rose that fair summer's morning over
Dublin Bay; and such were the men whose cause the Mores and the Fishers,
the saintly monks of the Charterhouse and the holy martyrs of the
Catholic faith, believed to be the cause of the Almighty Father of the

[Sidenote: Fitzgerald writes to the pope and the emperor to announce his

[Sidenote: Blockade of Dublin Bay.]

[Sidenote: The Prior of Kilmainham crosses with the news from

The morning's work was still but half completed. To massacre a heretic
archbishop was a meritorious, or at least a venial act; but it was
desirable that an opinion in favour of it should be pronounced by
authority; or that the guilt, if guilt there was, should be washed off
without delay. The Archdeacon of Kells,[338] therefore, was despatched
to the pope and to the emperor, to press the latter to send assistance
on this happy success, and to bring back absolution from his
Holiness,[339] if the murder required it. The next object was to prevent
news from reaching England before the castle should be taken. The river
was watched, the timely assistance of an English pirate enabled
Fitzgerald to blockade the bay; and Dublin was effectively sealed. But
the report of the murder spread rapidly through Ireland. In three days
it was known at Waterford; and the Prior of Kilmainham,[340] who had
taken refuge there, crossed into Wales on the instant, intending to ride
post to London.[341] He was delayed at St. David's by an attack of
paralysis; but he sent forward a companion who had left Ireland with
him; and the death of the archbishop was made known to Henry in the
second week in August.

[Sidenote: August. Skeffington is unprepared.]

[Sidenote: Ormond invades Kildare.]

[Sidenote: Fitzgerald is forced to retire from Dublin.]

[Sidenote: He attacks Ormond.]

[Sidenote: The citizens of Dublin return to their allegiance.]

[Sidenote: Fitzgerald attempts to gain Ormond.]

If Skeffington could set out on the instant, the castle might be saved,
and Dublin recovered. Couriers were despatched to urge him to make
haste; and others were sent to Ireland to communicate with Ormond, and,
if possible, with the party in the castle. But Skeffington, who was too
old for his work, had loitered over his preparations, and was not ready;
and the delay would have been fatal, except for the Earl of Ormond, the
loyalty of whose noble house at that crisis alone saved the English
authority in Ireland. On the arrival of Henry's courier, he collected
his people and invaded Kildare. The country was unenclosed--not a fence
nor a hedge broke the broad surface of moor and meadow, save where at
intervals a few small patches were enclosed for corn crops. Infinite
herds of cattle grazed at will over the expanse of pasture, and these
cattle were the chief dependence of the people. Ormond, by the
suddenness of his inroad, and the absence of the owners, was enabled to
sweep clear the whole tract which was occupied by the Geraldines; and
Fitzgerald was forced to retire from Dublin to defend or recover his
property. He left a detachment in the city, to prevent the troops in the
castle from obtaining supplies,[342] and then hurried off to revenge the
foray. Entering Carlow, he took a castle on the Slaney, and murdered the
garrison. Thence he turned towards Kilkenny, and was bearing down upon
Ormond with a strength which it would have been hard for the Butlers to
resist, when he learnt that the citizens of Dublin, encouraged by the
news that an English army was actually coming, had repented of their
patriotism, and, to earn their pardon from Henry, had closed their
gates, and had seized and imprisoned the party who were left before the
castle. The prize for which he had played so deeply was slipping from
his hands at the moment when it was all but won. He was forced to return
in haste; but before he left Kilkenny, he made an effort to induce
Ormond to join him. He promised, that, if the earl would assist him in
driving out the English, he would "take him as his father," that he
would make a present to his son, Lord James, of half the inheritance of
the Kildares, and that they two should together rule Ireland.[343]

[Sidenote: Ormond's reply.]

[Sidenote: Fitzgerald's treachery.]

[Sidenote: Dublin is again besieged.]

[Sidenote: September.]

[Sidenote: Skeffington does not arrive.]

[Sidenote: October 4.]

[Sidenote: Ormond again saves Dublin.]

[Sidenote: Siege of Dublin raised, October 14.]

Promises when extorted by presence of danger from a Geraldine were of
indifferent value; but if Fitzgerald's engagements had been as sure as
they were false and fleeting, they would have weighed little with this
gallant old nobleman. Ormond replied, that, if the rebels would lay down
their arms and sue for mercy, they might perhaps find it; but for
himself, "if his country were wasted, his castles won or prostrate, and
himself exiled, yet would he never shrink to persevere in his duty to
the king to the death."[344] Failing here, and having at the same time
received a check in a skirmish, Fitzgerald next endeavoured to gain
time. The Irish clans were gathering, but they were still at a distance,
and his own presence was instantly required elsewhere. He offered a
truce, therefore; and to this Ormond, being hard pressed by the Earl of
Desmond, was ready to consent. But it was only treachery. Ormond broke
up his camp, and his people were scattered; and within three days,
O'Neile having joined Fitzgerald, he was taken at a disadvantage; his
son, Lord James, was severely wounded; and a cordon of Irish being drawn
round him, to prevent him from relieving Dublin, the rebel army hastened
back to renew the siege.[345] They had the cannon with them which
Kildare had taken from the castle,[346] but were happily ill-provided
with ammunition, or resistance would have been desperate. The siege
opened at the beginning of September. The month passed away, and the
place was still untaken. If the deputy would only arrive, there was
still time to save it. Each hour he was looked for, yet through these
priceless days he was loitering at Beaumaris. From the fatality which
has for ever haunted the dealings of English statesmen with Ireland, an
old man past work, weak in health, and with all the moral deficiencies
of a failing constitution, had been selected to encounter a dangerous
rebellion. The insurrection had broken out in June; every moment was
precious, the loss of a day might be the loss of the whole country; yet
it was now the fourth of October; the ships were loaded; the horses were
on board; they had been on board a fortnight, and were sickening from
confinement. The wind was fair, at that critical season of the year a
matter of incalculable importance. Yet Skeffington was still "not
ready."[347] All would have been lost but for the Earl of Ormond. The
city was at the last extremity, when he contrived to force his way
through the Irish into Kildare; he again laid waste the country, and
destroyed the newly-gathered harvests.[348] On the 14th of October
Fitzgerald was forced finally to raise the siege, that his followers
might save the remnant of their property from destruction. The relief
was but just in time, for the resources of Dublin were exhausted. Before
retreating, the rebel lord exacted from the corporation an engagement
that at the end of six weeks they should either have procured his pardon
from the king, with the deputation of Ireland for his life, or else
should surrender the city. For the fulfilment of these insolent terms he
took as pledges sixteen of the children of the most important families
of the city, with three of the corporation themselves.[349]

[Sidenote: The English army sails at last.]

And now, at length, on the same 14th of October, the English anchors
were finally raised, and the deputy, with Sir William Brereton and Sir
John Salisbury, several hundred Northumberland horse trained in the
Border wars, and a number not specified, but probably from two to three
thousand archers and men-at-arms,[350] were under way. Whether the blame
of the delay lay with the incompetency of Skeffington, or the contempt
of the English, which would not allow them to make haste into the
presence of an enemy who never dared to encounter them in the field, but
carried on war by perjury, and pillage, and midnight murder--whatever
the cause was, they were at length on their way, and, through the
devotion of Ormond, not too late to be of use.

[Sidenote: They cross in a single night.]

[Sidenote: Council of war at Lambay Island.]

The fleet crossed the Channel in a single night, and the next morning
were under Lambay Island,[351] where they had run in for shelter. Here
news was brought them that Dublin Castle was taken. They did not believe
it; but a council of war was held, and Skeffington resolved that for
himself he might not risk the attempt to land; Brereton and Salisbury
might try it, if they could do so "without casting themselves away"; the
deputy would go on to Waterford with the body of the army, and join Sir
John St. Loo, who had crossed to that port in the week preceding, from

[Sidenote: Sir William Brereton with 500 men enters the Liffey.]

Accordingly, on the morning of the 17th of October, Sir William
Brereton, with five hundred men, sailed into the mouth of the Liffey;
and running up the river, instead of an enemy drawn up to oppose his
landing, he found the mayor and corporation waiting at the quay, with
drums, and flags, and trumpets to welcome him as a deliverer.[352]

[Sidenote: An English detachment cut off through Skeffington's

Skeffington was less successful; he remained under Lambay waiting for a
wind for Waterford, and in the meantime Fitzgerald, hearing of the
arrival of the fleet, was in force upon the hills overlooking the
anchorage. The English commander, though aware that the insurgents were
in the neighbourhood, allowed himself, with extreme imprudence, to land
a detachment of troops, with directions to march to Dublin. He himself
went with the fleet to the Skerries,[353] where he conceived, under
false information, that a party of the rebels were lying. He found
nothing there but a few fishing-boats; and while he was engaged in
burning these, Fitzgerald attacked the division which had been sent on
shore, and cut them off to a man. Nor was this the only misfortune. The
pirate ships which had been watching Dublin Bay hovered round the fleet,
cutting off straggling transports; and although one of them was chased
and driven on shore, the small success poorly counterbalanced the injury
which had been inflicted.[354]

[Sidenote: October 21. Skeffington lands in Dublin,]

[Sidenote: November. And resolves, the season being late, to do

After a week of this trifling, Skeffington consented to resign his
intention of going to Waterford, and followed Brereton into Dublin. Why
he had delayed a day after discovering that the river and the city were
open to him, it is impossible to conjecture. But his presence was of
little benefit, and only paralysed his abler subordinates. As soon as he
had brought his army into the city, he conceived that he had done as
much as the lateness of the season would allow. The November weather
having set in wild and wet, he gave up all thought of active measures
till the return of spring; and he wrote to inform the king, with much
self-approbation, that he was busy writing letters to the Irish chiefs,
and making arrangements for a better government; that Lord Thomas
Fitzgerald had been proclaimed traitor at the market-cross; and that he
hoped, as soon as the chancellor and the vicar-general could come to an
understanding, the said traitor might be pronounced excommunicated.[355]
All this was very well, and we learn to our comfort that in due time the
excommunication was pronounced; but it was not putting down the
rebellion--it was not the work for which he was sent to Ireland with
three thousand English soldiers.

[Sidenote: Fitzgerald burns Trim and Dunboyne, within six miles of

[Sidenote: He again writes to the emperor.]

Fitzgerald, as soon as the army was landed, retired into the interior;
but finding that the deputy lay idle within the walls, he recovered
heart, and at the head of a party of light horse reappeared within six
miles of Dublin. Trim and Dunboyne, two populous villages, were sacked
and burnt, and the blazing ruins must have been seen from the
battlements of the Castle. Yet neither the insults of the rebels nor the
entreaty of the inhabitants could move the imperturbable Skeffington. He
lay still within the city walls;[356] and Fitzgerald, still further
encouraged, despatched a fresh party of ecclesiastics to the pope and
the emperor, with offers of allegiance and promises of tribute,[357]
giving out meanwhile in Ireland that he would be supported in the spring
or summer by the long talked-of Spanish army. Promises costing Charles
V. nothing, he was probably liberal of them, and waited for the issue to
decide how far they should be observed.

[Sidenote: Skeffington ventures an expedition to Drogheda, and brings
back the army in safety.]

If this was so, the English deputy seemed to be determined to give the
rebellion every chance of issuing as the emperor desired. The soldiers
were eager for employment, but Skeffington refused to give his officers
an opportunity for distinction in which he did not share,[358] and a few
ineffectual skirmishes in the neighbourhood were the sole exploits which
for five months they were allowed to achieve. One expedition, as far as
Drogheda, the deputy indeed ventured, towards the end of November; and
in the account of it which he sent to England, he wrote as if it were
matter of congratulation that he had brought his army back in safety.
Nor were his congratulations, at least to himself, without reason, for
he owed that safety to God and to fortune. He had allowed the archers to
neglect the old precaution of taking cases for their bows. They were
overtaken by a storm, which wetted the strings and loosened the feathers
of the arrows; and thus, at disadvantage, they were intercepted in a
narrow defile,[359] and escaped only because the Irish were weak in

[Sidenote: He excuses himself on the ground of bad health.]

[Sidenote: Consequence of the deputy's inaction.]

He excused himself for his shortcomings on the plea that he was in bad
health--an adequate apology for his own inaction, but none for his
appointment on a service so dangerous. Yet perhaps his failure is
explained by the scene of it. Elsewhere, Sir William Skeffington may
have been a gallant soldier and a reasonable man; but the fatal
atmosphere of Ireland seems at all times to have had a power of
prostrating English intellect. The Protector Cromwell alone was cased in
armour which could defy its enchantments. An active officer might have
kept the field without difficulty. The Master of the Rolls, to prove
that the country, even in mid-winter, was practicable without danger,
rode to Waterford in November with only three hundred horse, through the
heart of the disturbed districts, and returned unmolested.[360] The Earl
of Ossory, with Sir John St. Loo, made an appointment to meet
Skeffington at Kilcaa,[361] where, if he brought cannon, they might
recover the castles of the government which were held by the Geraldines.
He promised to go, and he might have done so without danger or
difficulty; but he neither went nor sent; only a rumour came that the
deputy was ill;[362] and in these delays and with this ostentation of
imbecility, the winter passed away, as if to convince every wavering
Irishman that, strong as the English might be in their own land, the
sword dropped from their nerveless hands when their feet were on Irish
soil. Nor was this the only or the worst consequence. The army, lying
idle in Dublin, grew disorganized; many of the soldiers deserted; and an
impression spread abroad that Henry, after all, intended to return to
the old policy, to pardon Fitzgerald, and to restore him to power.[363]

[Sidenote: February 16.]

The clear pen of the indefatigable Allen lays the state of affairs
before us with the most painful distinctness. "My lord deputy," he wrote
to Cromwell on the 16th of February, "now by the space of twelve or
thirteen weeks hath continued in sickness, never once going out of his
house; he as yet is not recovered. In the meantime the rebel hath burnt
much of the country, trusting, if he may be suffered, to waste and
desolate the Inglishry, [and thus] to enforce this army to depart. Sirs,
as I heretofore advertised you, this rebel had been banished out of all
these parts or now, if all men had done their duties. But, to be plain
with you, except there be a marshal appointed, which must do strait
correction, and the army prohibited from resorting to Dublin (but
ordered to keep the field), the king shall never be well served, but his
purpose shall long be delayed."[364]

[Sidenote: The wages are ill-paid. The army is mutinous.]

[Sidenote: The military stores worthless.]

The wages, also, were ill-paid, though money in abundance had been
provided. The men were mutinous, and indemnified themselves at the
expense of the wretched citizens, whose houses they pillaged at will
under pretence that the owners were in league with the rebels.[365] The
arms, also, which had been supplied to the troops, were of the worst
kind: they had been furnished out of ordnance which had been long on
hand, and were worthless.[366]

[Sidenote: The Irish council desire the recal of Skeffington. The king

[Sidenote: The army leave Dublin, and commence work.]

The conduct of the king, when the representations of Allen were laid
before him, was very unlike what the popular conception of his
character would have led us to expect. We imagine him impatient and
irritable; and supposing him to have been (as he certainly was) most
anxious to see the rebellion crushed, we should have looked for some
explosion of temper; or, at least, for some imperious or arbitrary
message to the unfortunate deputy. He contented himself, however, with
calmly sending some one whom he could trust to make inquiries; and even
when the result confirmed the language of the Master of the Rolls, and
the deputy's recal was in consequence urged upon him, he still refused
to pass an affront upon an old servant. He appointed Lord Leonard Grey,
brother-in-law of the Countess of Kildare, chief marshal of the army;
but he would not even send Grey over till the summer, and he left
Skeffington an opportunity of recovering his reputation in the campaign
which was to open with the spring.[367] The army, however, was ordered
to leave Dublin without delay; and the first move, which was made early
in February, was followed by immediate fruits. Two of the pirates who
had been acting with Fitzgerald were taken, and hanged.[368] Several
other offenders of note were also caught and thrown into prison; and in
two instances, as if the human ministers of justice had not been
sufficiently prompt, the higher powers thought fit to inflict the
necessary punishment. John Teling, one of the archbishop's murderers,
died of a foul disorder at Maynooth;[369] and the Earl of Kildare, the
contriver of the whole mischief, closed his evil career in the Tower of
London "for thought and pain."[370] He was attainted by the parliament
which sat in the autumn, and lay under sentence of death when death came
unbidden to spare the executioner his labour.

[Sidenote: Death of the Earl of Kildare.]

[Sidenote: March 14. Skeffington takes the field. Siege of Maynooth

Meantime, the spring opened at last, and affairs further improved.
Skeffington's health continued weak; but with the advance of the season
he was able to take the field; and on the 14th of March he appeared
under the walls of Maynooth. This castle was the strongest in the
possession of the Geraldines. Vast labour had been recently expended on
its fortifications, for which the king's subjects had been forced to
pay. It was defended by the ordnance from Dublin, and held by a small
but adequate garrison. It was thought to be impregnable, and in the
earlier stages of the science of gunnery it might possibly have defied
the ordinary methods of attack. Nay, with a retrospective confidence in
the strength of its defences, the Irish historians have been unable to
believe that it could have been fairly taken; they insist that it
resisted the efforts of the besiegers, and was on the point of being
saved by Fitzgerald,[371] when it was delivered to the English commander
by treachery. A despatch to the king, which was written from the spot,
and signed by the deputy and all the members of the Irish council,
leaves but little remaining of this romance.

[Sidenote: The walls are bombarded.]

[Sidenote: March 23. The castle is stormed.]

[Sidenote: Thirty-seven prisoners taken.]

An authentic account of an attack by cannon on a fortified place at that
era, will scarcely fail to be interesting. The castle, says this
document, was so strongly defended both with men and ordnance, "as the
like had not been seen in Ireland since the Conquest." The garrison
consisted of a hundred men, of which sixty were gunners. On the third
day of the siege the English batteries opened on the north-west side of
the donjon, and destroying the battlements, buried the cannon on that
part of the wall under the ruins. The siege lines were then moved "to
the north side of the base court of the castle, at the north-east end
whereof there was a new-made, very strong, and fast bulwark, well
garrisoned with men and ordnance." Here a continual fire was sustained
for five days, "on that wise that a breach and entry was made there."
Whereupon, continues the despatch, "The twenty-third day, being Tuesday
next before Easter day, there was a galiard assault given before five
o'clock in the morning, and the base court entered; at which entry there
were slain of the ward of the castle about sixty, and of your Grace's
army no more but John Griffin, yeoman of your most honourable guard, and
six others which were killed with ordnance of the castle at the entry.
Howbeit, if it had not pleased God to preserve us, it were to be
marvelled that we had no more slain. After the base court was thus won,
we assaulted the great castle, which within a while yielded."
Thirty-seven of the remaining garrison were taken prisoners, with two
officers, two Irish ecclesiastics who had distinguished themselves in
promoting the insurrection, and one of the murderers of the archbishop.

The place was taken by fair fighting, it seems, without need of
treachery; and the capture by storm of a fortified castle was a
phenomenon altogether new to the Irish, who had yet to learn the effect
of well-served cannon upon walls.[372]

The work at length was begun in earnest, and in order to drive the
lesson home into the understanding of the people, and to instruct them
clearly that rebellion and murder were not any longer to be tolerated,
the prisoners were promptly brought up before the provost-marshal, and
twenty-six of them there and then, under the ruins of their own den,
were hung up for sign to the whole nation.[373]

[Sidenote: The Pardon of Maynooth. The effect of it upon the people.]

[Sidenote: The rebellion vanishes.]

A judicial operation of this kind had never before been witnessed in
Ireland within the known cycle of its history, and the effect of it was
proportionately startling. In the presence of this "Pardon of Maynooth,"
as it was called, the phantom of rebellion vanished on the spot. It was
the first serious blow which was struck in the war, and there was no
occasion for a second. In a moment the noise and bravado which had
roared from Donegal to Cork was hushed into a supplication for
forgiveness. Fitzgerald was hastening out of Thomond to the relief of
his fortress. When they heard of the execution, his army melted from him
like a snowdrift. The confederacy of the chiefs was broken up; first
one fell away from it, and then another; and before the summer had come,
O'Brien of Inchiquin, O'Connor, who had married Fitzgerald's sister, and
the few scattered banditti of the Wicklow mountains, were all who
remained of the grand association which was to place the Island of
Saints at the feet of the Father of Christendom.

Sadder history in the compass of the world's great chronicle there is
none than the history of the Irish: so courageous, yet so like cowards;
so interesting, yet so resolute to forfeit all honourable claims to
interest. In thinking of them, we can but shake our heads with Lord
Chancellor Audeley, when meditating on this rebellion, and repeat after
him, "they be a people of strange nature, and of much inconstancy."[374]

[Sidenote: Fitzgerald retreats into Thomond, intending to sail for

[Sidenote: O'Brien persuades him to remain.]

Lord Fitzgerald was now a fugitive, with a price upon his head. He
retreated into Thomond, intending to sail for Spain, and to attempt with
his own lips to work persuasion with the emperor.[375] There was an
expectation, however, that the Spaniards might be already on their way:
and O'Brien persuaded him to remain, to prevent the complete
disintegration of his party. Sir James de la Hyde was therefore sent to
Charles; and the wretched young nobleman himself wandered from place to
place, venturing, while Skeffington still lay at Maynooth, into the
neighbourhood of his home, among his own people, yet unable to do more
than evade the attempts which were made to capture him. The life of the
rebellion was gone from it.

[Sidenote: Fidelity of the people.]

There was no danger that he would be betrayed. The Irish had many
faults--we may not refuse them credit for their virtues. However
treacherous they were to their enemies, however inconstant in their
engagements, uncertain, untrue in ordinary obligations, they were
without rivals in the world in their passionate attachments among
themselves; and of all the chiefs who fell from Fitzgerald's banner, and
hastened with submission to the English deputy, there was perhaps not
one who, though steeped in the blood of a hundred murders, would not
have been torn limb from limb rather than have listened to a temptation
to betray him.

[Sidenote: Arrival of Lord Leonard Grey. Fitzgerald writes to him with
an offer of surrender.]

At length, after a narrow escape from a surprise, from which he rescued
himself only by the connivance of the Irish kerne who were with the
party sent to take him, the young earl, as he now called himself, weary
of his wandering life, and when no Spaniards came, seeing that his cause
was for the present hopeless offered to surrender. It was by this time
August, and Lord Leonard Grey, his father's brother-in-law, was present
with the army. To him he wrote from O'Connor's Castle, in King's County,
apologizing for what he had done, desiring pardon "for his life and
lands," and begging his kinsman to interest himself in his behalf. If he
could obtain his forgiveness, he promised to deserve it. If it was
refused, he said that he "must shift for himself the best that he

[Sidenote: Grey suggests an interview.]

[Sidenote: August 18.]

[Sidenote: Fitzgerald meets him,]

[Sidenote: And surrenders on a dubious promise of pardon.]

In reply to this overture, Grey suggested an interview. The appointment
of so near a relative of the Kildare's to high office in Ireland had
been determined, we may be sure, by the Geraldine influence in the
English council. The marshal was personally acquainted with Fitzgerald,
and it is to be observed that the latter in writing to him signed
himself his "loving friend." That Lord Leonard was anxious to save him
does not admit of a doubt; he had been his father's chief advocate with
the king, and his natural sympathy with the representative of an ancient
and noble house was strengthened by family connexion. He is not to be
suspected, therefore, of treachery, at least towards his kinsman. The
interview was agreed upon, and on the eighteenth of August, Grey, with
Sir Rice Mansell, Chief Justice Aylmer, Lord James Butler, and Sir
William St. Loo, rode from Maynooth into King's County, where, on the
borders of the Bog of Allen, Fitzgerald met them. Here he repeated the
conditions upon which he was ready to surrender. Lord Grey said that he
had no authority to entertain such conditions; but he encouraged the
hope that an unconditional surrender would tell in his favour, and he
promised himself to accompany his prisoner to the king's presence.
Fitzgerald interpreting expressions confessedly intended "to allure him
to yield,"[377] in the manner most favourable to himself, placed himself
in the hands of the marshal, and rode back with him to the camp.

[Sidenote: Embarrassment of the government.]

[Sidenote: If Fitzgerald was spared, the government of Ireland was

[Sidenote: Yet, were the English entitled to reap the benefit of his

The deputy wrote immediately to announce the capture. Either the terms
on which it had been effected had not been communicated to him, or he
thought it prudent to conceal them, for he informed Henry that the
traitor had yielded without conditions, either of pardon, life, lands,
or goods, "but only submitting to his Grace's mercy."[378] The truth,
however, was soon known; and it occasioned the gravest embarrassment.
How far a government is bound at any time to respect the unauthorized
engagements of its subordinates, is one of those intricate questions
which cannot be absolutely answered;[379] and it was still less easy to
decide, where the object of such engagements had run a career so
infamous as Lord Thomas Fitzgerald. No pirate who ever swung on a
well-earned gallows had committed darker crimes, and the king was called
upon to grant a pardon in virtue of certain unpermitted hopes which had
been held out in his name. He had resolved to forgive no more noble
traitors in Ireland, and if the archbishop's murder was passed over, he
had no right to affect authority in a country where he was so unable to
exert it. On the other hand, the capture of so considerable a person was
of great importance; his escape abroad, if he had desired to leave the
country, could not have been prevented; and while the government
retained the benefit which they derived from his surrender, their honour
seemed to be involved in observing the conditions, however made, by
which it had been secured.

[Sidenote: The Duke of Norfolk advises delay of punishment.]

[Sidenote: Fitzgerald is hanged the following year at Tyburn.]

It is likely, though it is not certain, that Lord Leonard foresaw the
dilemma in which Henry would be placed, and hoped by means of it to
secure the escape of his kinsman. His own ultimate treason throws a
shadow on his earlier loyalty; and his talent was fully equal to so
ingenious a fraud. He had placed the king in a position from which no
escape was possible that was not open to grave objection. To pardon so
heavy an offender was to violate the first duty of government, and to
grant a general licence to Irish criminality; to execute him was to
throw a shadow indirectly on the king's good faith, and lay his generals
open to a charge of treachery. Henry resolved to err on the side on
which error was least injurious. The difficulty was submitted to the
Duke of Norfolk, as of most experience in Irish matters. The duke
advised that execution should be delayed; but added significantly, "quod
defertur non aufertur."--Pardon was not to be thought of; the example
would be fatal.[380] Immediate punishment would injure the credit of
Lord Grey, and would give occasion for slander against the council.[381]
The best course would be to keep "the traitor" in safe prison, and
execute him, should it seem good, at a future time.[382] This advice was
followed. Fitzgerald, with his uncles, who had all been implicated in
the insurrection, was committed to the Tower; and in the year following
they were hanged at Tyburn.

So ended the rebellion in Ireland; significant chiefly because it was
the first in which an outbreak against England assumed the features of a
war of religion, the first which the pope was especially invited to
bless, and the Catholic powers, as such, to assist. The features of it,
on a narrow scale, were identical with those of the later risings.
Fostered by the hesitation of the home authorities, it commenced in
bravado and murder; it vanished before the first blows of substantial
resistance. Yet the suppression of the insurrection was attended by the
usual Irish fatality: mistake and incompleteness followed the
proceedings from the beginning to the end; and the consciousness
remained that a wound so closed would not heal, that the moral temper of
the country remained unaffected, and that the same evils would again


[277] "Panderus, or the author of a book, _De Salute Populi_, flourished
in the reigns of Edward IV., Edward V., Richard III., and Henry VII.;
perhaps also in the reign of Henry VIII."--Sir James Ware, _Writers of
Ireland_, p. 90.

[278] State of Ireland, and plan for its reformation, 1515: _State
Papers_, Vol. II. p. 11.

[279] Some men have the opinion that this land is harder to be reformed
now than it was to be conquered at the first Conquest; considering that
Irishmen have more hardiness and policy and war, and more arms and
artillery than they had at the Conquest. At that time there was not in
all Ireland, out of cities, five Castles ne Piles, and now there be five
hundred Castles and Piles.--Baron Finglas's _Breviate of Ireland_,
written circa 1535. Harris's _Hibernica_, p. 88.

[280] In every of the said five portions, Ulster, Connaught, Leinster,
South Munster, and West Munster, that was conquered by King Henry
Fitz-Empress, [there were] left under tribute certain Irishmen of the
principal blood of the Irish nation, that were before the Conquest
inhabitants within every of the said portions; as in Leinster, the
Cavanaghs of the blood of M'Morough, sometime king of the same; in South
Munster, the M'Carties, of the blood of the Carties, sometime kings of
Cork; in the other portions of Munster, west of the river Shannon
(Clare), where O'Brien is, which was never conquered in obedience to the
king's laws, O'Brien and his blood have continued there still, which
O'Brien gave tribute to King Henry Fitz-Empress, and to his heirs, by
the space of one hundred years. In Connaught was left under tribute
certain of the blood of O'Connor, sometime king of the same; certain of
the Kellies, and others. In Ulster were left certain of the Neales, of
the blood of the O'Neale. In Meath were left certain of the blood of
O'Melaghlin, sometime king of the same; and divers others of Irish
nations.--Baron Finglas's _Breviate_. Harris, p. 83.

[281] Thomond seems to have been an exception.

[282] See Finglas's _Breviate_. 23 Hen. VI. cap. 9: _Irish Statute
Book_. 28 Hen. VIII. cap. 3: Ibid. It seems in many cases to have been
the result of accident, Irish lands descending to heiresses who married
into English families. In other instances, forfeited estates were
granted by the crown to English favourites. The receiving rents,
however, even though by unwilling absentees, was treated as a crime by
Henry VIII.; and English noblemen, to whom estates in Ireland had
fallen, either by marriage or descent, on which they were unable to
reside, were expected to grant such estates to other persons who were
able to reside upon them, and willing. The wording of the Act of
Absentees, passed in 1536, is very remarkable. "Forasmuch as it is
notorious and manifest that this the king's land of Ireland, heretofore
being inhabited, and in due obedience and subjection unto the king's
most noble progenitors, hath principally grown unto ruin, dissolution,
rebellion, and decay, by occasion that great dominions, lands, and
possessions within the same, as well by the king's grants as by course
of inheritance and otherwise have descended to noblemen of the realm of
England, who having the same, demouring within the said realm of England
... taking the profits of their said lands and possessions for a season,
without provision making for any defence or keeping thereof in good
order ... in their absence, and by their negligence have suffered the
wild Irishrie, being mortal and natural enemies to the Kings of England,
to enter and hold the same without resistance; the conquest and winning
whereof in the beginning not only cost the king's noble progenitors
charges inestimable, but also those to whom the land was given, then and
many years after abiding within the said land, nobly and valiantly
defended the same, and kept such tranquillity and good order, as the
Kings of England had due subjection of the inhabitants thereof, and the
laws were obeyed ... and after the gift or descent of the lands to the
persons aforesaid, they and their heirs absented themselves out of the
said land of Ireland, not pondering nor regarding the preservation
thereof ... the King's Majesty that now is, intending the reformation of
the said land, to foresee that the like shall not ensue hereafter, with
the consent of his parliament," pronounces FORFEITED the estates of all
absentee proprietors, and their right and title gone.

[283] "The MacMahons in the north were anciently English, to wit,
descended from the Fitz-Ursulas, which was a noble family in England;
and the same appeareth by the significance of their Irish names.
Likewise the M'Sweenies, now in Ulster, were recently of the Veres in
England; but that they themselves, for hatred of the English, so
disguised their names." Spenser's _View of the State of Ireland_. So the
De Burghs became Bourkes or Burkes; the Munster Geraldines merged their
family names in that of Desmond; and a younger branch of them called
themselves M'Shehies.

[284] _Statutes of Kilkenny._ Printed by the Irish Antiquarian Society.
Finglas's _Breviate_.

[285] The phenomenon must have been observed, and the inevitable
consequence of it foreseen, very close upon the Conquest, when the
observation digested itself into a prophecy. No story less than three
hundred years old could easily have been reported to Baron Finglas as
having originated with St. Patrick and St. Columb. The Baron says--"The
four Saints, St. Patrick, St. Columb, St. Braghan, and St. Moling, many
hundred years agone, made prophecy that Englishmen should conquer
Ireland; and said that the said Englishmen should keep the land in
prosperity as long as they should keep their own laws; and as soon as
they should leave and fall to Irish order, then they should
decay."--Harris, p. 88.

[286] Report on the State of Ireland, 1515: _State Papers_, Vol. II. pp.
17, 18.

[287] Some sayeth that the English noble folk useth to deliver their
children to the king's Irish enemies to foster, and therewith maketh
bands.--_State Papers_, Vol. II. p. 13.

[288] "Harpers, rhymers, Irish chroniclers, bards, and ishallyn (ballad
singers) commonly go with praises to gentlemen in the English pale,
praising in rhymes, otherwise called 'danes,' their extortions,
robberies, and abuses as valiantness; which rejoiceth them in their evil
doings, and procures a talent of Irish disposition and conversation in
them."--Cowley to Cromwell: Ibid. Vol. II. p. 450. There is a remarkable
passage to the same effect in Spenser's _View of the State of Ireland_.

[289] State of Ireland, and plan for its reformation: _State Papers_,
Vol. II. p. 28.

[290] Report on the State of Ireland: _State Papers_, Vol. II. p. 22.

[291] Baron Finglas, in his suggestions for a reformation, urges that
"no black rent be given ne paid to any Irishman upon any of the four
shires from henceforward."--Harris, p. 101. "Many an Irish captain
keepeth and preserveth the king's subjects in peace without hurt of
their enemies; inasmuch as some of those hath tribute yearly of English
men ... not to the intent that they should escape harmless; but to the
intent to devour them, as the greedy hound delivereth the sheep from the
wolf."--_State Papers_, Vol. II. pp. 16, 17.

[292] _Eudoxus_--What is that which you call the Brehon Law? It is a
word unto us altogether unknown.

_Irenæus_--It is a rule of right, unwritten, but delivered by tradition
from one to another, in which oftentimes there appeareth great show of
equity in determining the right between parties, but in many things
repugning quite both to God's law and man's. As, for example, in the
case of murder, the Brehon, that is, their judge, will compound between
the murderer and the friends of the party murdered, which prosecute the
action, that the malefactor shall give unto them or unto the child or
wife of him that is slain, a recompence which they call an Eriarch. By
which vile law of theirs many murders are made up and smothered. And
this judge being, as he is called, the Lord's Brehon, adjudgeth, for the
most part, a better share unto his Lord, that is the Lord of the soil,
or the head of that sept, and also unto himself for his judgment, a
greater portion than unto the plaintiffs or parties grieved.--Spenser's
_View of the State of Ireland_. Spenser describes the system as he
experienced it in active operation. Ancient written collections of the
Brehon laws, however, existed and still exist.

[293] By relation of ancient men in times past within remembrance, all
the English lords and gentills within the pale heretofore kept retinues
of English yeomen in their houses, after the English fashion, according
to the extent of their lands, to the great strength and succour of their
neighbours the king's subjects. And now for the most part they keep
horsemen and knaves, which live upon the king's subjects; and keep in
manner no hospitality, but live upon the poor.--The Council of Ireland
to the Master of the Rolls, 1533: _State Papers_, Vol. II. p. 163.

[294] _State Papers_, Vol. II. pp. 1, 5, 6.

[295] _State Papers_, Vol. II. p. 14.

[296] The deputy useth to make great rodes, journeys, and hostings, now
in the north parts of Ulster, now in the south parts of Munster, now in
the west parts of Connaught, and taketh the king's subjects with him by
compulsion oft times, with victual for three or four weeks, and chargeth
the common people with carriage of the same, and giveth licence to all
the noble folk to cesse and rear their costs on the common people and on
the king's poor subjects; and the end of that journey is commonly no
other in effect, but that the deputy useth to receive a reward of one or
two hundred kyne to himself, and so depart, without any more hurt to the
king's enemies, after that he hath turned the king's subjects and the
poor common folk to their charge and costs of two or three thousand
pounds. And over that, the deputy, on his progress and regress,
oppresseth the king's poor common folk with horse meat and man's meat to
all his host. And over that, in summer, when grass is most plenty, they
must have oats or malt to their horse at will, or else money therefor.

The premises considered, some saith the king's deputy, by extortion,
chargeth the king's poor subjects and common folk, in horse meat and
man's meat, by estimation, to the value of a hundred pound every day in
the year, one day counted with another, which cometh to the sum of
36,000 pounds yearly.--_State Papers_, Vol. II. p. 13. Finglas says that
coyne and livery would destroy hell itself, if it was used
there.--Finglas's _Breviate_.

[297] The wretchedness of the country drove the Irish to emigrate in
multitudes. In 1524, twenty thousand of them had settled themselves in
Pembrokeshire; and the majority of these had crossed in a single
twelvemonth. They brought with them Irish manners, and caused no little
trouble. "The king's town of Tenby," wrote a Welsh gentleman to Wolsey,
"is almost clean Irish, as well the head men and rulers as the commons
of the said town; and of their high and presumptuous minds [they] do
disobey all manner the king's process that cometh to them out of the
king's exchequer of Pembroke."--R. Gryffith to Cardinal Wolsey: Ellis,
first series, Vol. I. p. 191, &c.

[298] Leland, Vol. II. p. 110.

[299] Campion's _History of Ireland_. Leland, Vol. II. p. 111.

[300] Campion. Leland.

[301] The earl married Elizabeth, daughter of Oliver St. John, while in

[302] Report to Cromwell, apparently by Allen, Master of the Rolls:
_State Papers_, Vol. II. p. 175.

[303] Henry VIII. to the Earl of Surrey: _State Papers_, Vol. II. pp.
52, 53.

[304] This is one of them, and another of similar import was found to
have been sent to O'Neile. "Life and health to O'Carroll, from the Earl
of Kildare. There is none Irishman in Ireland that I am better content
with than with you; and whenever I come into Ireland, I shall do you
good for anything that ye shall do for me; and any displeasure that I
have done to you, I shall make you amends therefore, desiring you to
keep good peace to Englishmen till an English deputy shall come there;
and when an English deputy shall come thither, do your best to make war
upon Englishmen then, except such as be toward me, whom you know well
yourself."--_State Papers_, Vol. II. p. 45.

[305] _State Papers_, Vol. II. p. 62.

[306] Surrey to Henry VIII.: _State Papers_, Vol. II. pp. 72-74.

[307] Council of Ireland to Wolsey: _State Papers_, Vol. II. pp. 92, 93.

[308] Campion says Kildare had a friend in the Duke of
Suffolk.--_History of Ireland_, by Edward Campion, p. 161.

[309] Act of Attainder of the Earl of Kildare: _Irish Statute Book_, 28
Hen. VIII. cap. 1. An account of this negotiation is to be seen in a
paper in the British Museum, Titus, B. xi. fol. 352.

[310] Act of Attainder of the Earl of Kildare: Ibid.

[311] The elder sisters of the "fair Geraldine" of Lord Surrey.

[312] The emperor's chaplain, Gonzalo Fernandez, was the agent through
whom the correspondence with Desmond was conducted.--_State Papers_,
Vol. VII. p. 186. And see _Cotton MS._, Vespasian, c. iv. fol. 264, 276,
285, 288, 297.--" He sent unto the emperour, provoking and enticing him
to send an army into this said land."--Act of Attainder of the Earl of
Kildare. See also Leland, Vol. II. p. 136.

The account given by Gonzalo Fernandez of his visit to Desmond is among
the Archives at Brussels, and supplies a curious picture of the state of
the country.

  _Report of Gonzalo Fernandez._

  "April 28, 1529.

"On arriving at the coast of Ireland we touched at a port belonging to
the King of England named Cork. Many of the Irish people came on board
the ship, and told me that the gentleman of the Earl of Desmond had just
returned from Spain with presents from the Emperor to the earl.

"Leaving Cork, we were driven by bad weather into another harbour called
Beran,[A] from whence I sent one of my servants to inform the earl of my
arrival. In four days the earl's answer came, telling me that I was
welcome, and that he was at a place called Dingle, where he hoped to see
me. He addressed his letter to me as 'Chaplain of our Sovereign Lord the
Emperor;' and this, I understand, is his usual mode of expression when
speaking of his Majesty. He had also sent to some of the other noblemen
of the country, with whom he proposed to form a league, to tell them of
my arrival.

  [A] Beerhaven, perhaps.

"I set out again, and on the way five of the earl's people came to me to
say that their master had gone to a harbour a few miles off to capture
some French and English vessels there, and would be glad of my
assistance. This I declined, and the earl, I understand, was satisfied
with my excuses.

"The day after, the 21st of April, we reached the said harbour of
Dingle, and were honourably received by the townspeople, and by a party
of the earl's attendants. About four o'clock the earl returned himself,
attended by fifty horse and as many halberdiers. He came at once to my
quarters, and asked after the welfare of 'our Lord the Emperor.' I
replied that, by the grace of God, his Majesty was well, and I had sent
his commendations to his lordship.

"We then dined; and afterwards the earl and his council repaired to my
chamber, where we presented him with his Majesty's letter. He read it
and his council read it. His Majesty, he said, referred him to me. I was
commissioned to make known his Majesty's pleasure to him. I at once
declared my instructions, first in English to the earl, and afterward in
Latin to his council; which I said were to this effect.

"'One Godfrey, a friend of their lord, had lately presented himself to
the Emperor with their lord's letter, in which their lord, after
speaking of the good-will and affection which he entertained towards the
Emperor's Majesty, had expressed a desire to enter into close alliance
with his Majesty, as friend to friend and enemy to enemy, declaring
himself ready, in all things and at all times, to obey his Majesty's

"'Further, the said Godfrey had requested the Emperor to send a
confidential person to Ireland, to learn more particularly their lord's
intentions, and his resources and power; and further, to negotiate a
treaty and establish a firm and complete alliance. For these purposes
the Emperor commissioned myself. I was the bearer to them of his
Majesty's thanks for their proposals, and I said I was so far in my
master's confidence that I was assured their lord might expect all
possible assistance at the Emperor's hands.'

"When I had done, the earl spoke a few words to his council. He then
took off his cap, and said he thanked his Majesty for his gracious
condescension. He had addressed himself to his Majesty as to his
sovereign lord, to entreat his protection. His Majesty was placed in
this world in his high position, in order that no one prince might
oppress or injure another. He related his descent to me. He said that,
between his family and the English, there had ever existed a mortal
enmity, and he explained the cause to me.

"I replied that his Majesty never failed to support his allies and his
subjects, and should he claim assistance in that capacity, his Majesty
would help him as he helped all his other good friends. I advised the
earl to put in writing the words which he had used to me. He thought it
would be enough if I repeated them; but when I said the story was too
long, and my memory might not retain it with accuracy, he said he would
do as I desired.

"We then spoke of the support for which he was looking, of his projects
and resources, and of the places in which he proposed to serve. He said
he wanted from his Majesty four large vessels, two hundred tons each,
six pinnaces well provided with artillery, and five hundred Flemings to
work them. I said at once and earnestly, that such a demand was out of
all reason, before he, on his part, had achieved something in his
Majesty's service. I remonstrated fully and largely, although, to avoid
being tedious, I omit the details. In the end his council were satisfied
that he must reduce his demands till his Majesty had more reason to know
what was to be expected from him, and he consented, as will be seen by
his own memoir.

"Of all men in the world the earl hates most deeply the Cardinal of
York. He told me he had been in alliance with France, and had a relation
called De Quindel, now with the French army in Italy. In future, he said
he would have no dealings with the French. As your Majesty's enemies,
they were his enemies.

"Your Majesty will be pleased to understand that there are in Ireland
four principal cities. The city of Dublin is the largest and richest in
the island, and neither in the town nor in the neighbourhood has the
Earl of Desmond land or subjects. The Earl of Kildare is sovereign in
that district, but that earl is a kinsman of the Earl of Desmond, and
has married his cousin.

"The Earl of Kildare, however, is at present a prisoner in the Tower of

"Of the other three cities, one is called Waterford, the second Cork,
the third Limerick; and in all of these the Earl of Desmond has
lordships and vassals. He has dominions, also, among the wild tribes; he
has lords and knights on his estates who pay him tribute. He has some
allies, but not so many, by a great deal, as he has enemies.

"He has ten castles of his own, some of which are strong and well built,
especially one named Dungarvan, which the King has often attempted to
take without success.

"The earl himself is from thirty to forty years old, and is rather above
the middle height. He keeps better justice throughout his dominions than
any other chief in Ireland. Robbers and homicides find no mercy, and are
executed out of hand. His people are in high order and discipline. They
are armed with short bows and swords. The earl's guard are in a mail
from neck to heel, and carry halberds. He has also a number of horse,
some of whom know how to break a lance. They all ride admirably without
saddle or stirrup."

       *       *       *       *       *

After the report of Gonzalvo Fernandez, Desmond himself continues in

"Hereunto be added informations addressed to the invincible and most
sacred Cæsar, ever august, by the Earl of Desmond, Lord of Ogonyll and
the liberties of Kilcrygge.

"I, James Earl of Desmond, am of royal blood, and of the race of the
Conqueror who did lawfully subdue Britain, great and small, and did
reduce Scotland and Ireland under his yoke.

"The first cause of the enmity between myself and the King of England is
in ancient prophecy or prediction, believed by the English nation, and
written in their books and chronicles, that all England will be
conquered by an Earl of Desmond, which enterprise I have not yet

"The second cause is that, through fear of this prophecy, the King of
England has committed his powers to my predecessors who have borne rule
in Ireland; and when Thomas Earl of Desmond, my grandfather, in
peaceable manner attended Parliament in Ireland, no cause being alleged
against him, but merely in dread of the prophecy, they struck off his

"The third cause is that, when Richard, son of the King of England
[_sic_], heard that there were ancient feuds between the English and my
predecessors, he came to Ireland with an army and a great fleet in the
time of my father; and then did my father make all Ireland to be subdued
unto himself, some few towns only excepted.

"The fourth cause is that, by reason of the aforesaid feuds, the King of
England did cause Gerald Earl of Kildare, my father's kinsman, to be
destroyed in prison [_destrui in carceribus_] until that my father, by
might and power, did liberate the said Earl of Kildare, and did obtain
his own purposes, and did make his kinsman viceroy of Ireland.

"The fifth cause is that, when peace was hardly begun between my
aforesaid father and the King of England, a certain sickness fell upon
my father, I myself being then eight years old.

"The King, when he heard this, made a league of Irish and English to
kill my father; he being then, as they thought, unable to take the
field. They, being banded together, made war against my father for
twenty-four years, wherein, by God's grace, they had small success.

"The sixth cause is that, when peace was made at last between the King
that now is and myself, I, in faith of the said peace, sent certain of
my servants to the parts beyond the seas to Flanders and France, and the
attorneys of the King of England did despoil my servants of the sum of
9000l., and threw them into prison, where they now remain.

"Hereon follows my supplication:--

"These things premised, I, the aforesaid earl, do implore and entreat
the invincible and most sacred Majesty of Cæsar Augustus that he will
deign to provide me with remedy, and I, with all my horses and people,
do devote myself to your Majesty's service, seeing that your Majesty is
appointed for the welfare of the oppressed, and to be lord paramount of
all the earth.

"To revenge the injuries done to myself and my family by the King of
England, I have the following powers; that is to say, 16,500 foot and
1500 horse. Also I have friends, confederate with me, whose names be

  "1. The Prince O'Brien, who can make 600 horse and 1000 foot.
   2. Trobal de Burgh             "    100      "     600  "
   3. Sir Richard Poer            "     40      "     200  "
   4. Lord Thomas Butler          "     60      "     240  "
   5. Sir John Galty              "     80      "     400  "
   6. Sir Gerald Fitzgerald       "     40      "     200  "
   7. The White Knight            "    400      "     800  "
   8. O'Donnell, Prince of Ulster "    800      "    4000  "
   9. The Knight of the Valley    "     40      "     240  "
  10. Baron MacMys                "     40      "     500  "
  11. Captain Macguire            "     30      "     200  "

"With divers others whose names be here omitted.

"Moreover, I, the aforesaid James Earl of Desmond, do make known to the
Majesty of Cæsar august, that there is an alliance between me and the
King of Scotland, and, by frequent embassies, we understand each other's
purposes and intentions.

"Finally, divine grace permitting, I intend to gather together my own
and my friends' powers, and lead them in person against Piers Butler,
deputy of the King of England, and against Limerick, Wexford, and
Dublin, the cities which the King holds in Ireland.

"For the aid for which I look from your Majesty, I desire especially
cannon available for land service and fit for breaching castles. May it
please your Majesty, therefore, to send me cannon, that I may be the
better able to do your Majesty service.

"And for myself, I promise on my faith to obey your Majesty in all
things. I will be friend of your friends; enemy of your enemies; and
your Majesty's especial and particular subject. If ever I chance to
displease you, I will submit myself to your correction and chastisement.

"Written in my town, this 28th day of April, 1529, in the presence of
Gonzalvo Fernandez, Denys Mac D----c, Doctor of Arms and Medicine, Denys
Tathe, Maurice Herly.


  --_The Pilgrim_, pp. 171-175.

[313] "You remember how the lewd earl your kinsman," he said to him,
"who passeth not whom he serve, might he change his master, sent his
confederates with letters of credence to Francis the French King, and to
Charles the Emperor, proffering the help of Munster and Connaught
towards the conquest of Ireland, if either of them would help to win it
from our king. What precepts, what messages have been sent you to
apprehend him? and yet not done. Why so? Forsooth I could not catch him.
Yea, sir, it will be sworn and deposed to your face, that for fear of
meeting him, you have winked, wilfully shunned his sight, altered your
course, warned his friends, stopped both eyes and ears against his
detection. Surely this juggling and false play little became an honest
man called to such honour, or a nobleman put in such trust."--Campion,
p. 165.

[314] _State Papers_, Vol. II. pp. 146, 147.

[315] Norfolk to Wolsey: Ibid. p. 135.

[316] _State Papers_, Vol. II. p. 146.

[317] It had been partially subdued by Lord James Butler.--Irish
statute, 28 Henry VIII. cap. 1.

[318] O'Brien of Thomond to Henry VIII.: _State Papers_, Vol. II.

[319] Report of 1533: _State Papers_, Vol. II. pp. 163-179.

[320] _State Papers_, Vol. II. p. 180.

[321] Ibid. p. 177.

[322] _State Papers_, Vol. II. p. 192.

[323] _State Papers_, Vol. III. p. 10.

[324] It is remarkable that, as I believe, there is no instance of the
act of heresy having been put in force in Ireland. The Irish Protestant
church counts many martyrs; but they were martyrs who fell by murder in
the later massacres. So far as I can learn, no Protestant was ever tried
and executed there by form of law.

[325] 28 Hen. VIII. cap. 1. Irish statutes.

[326] Cowley to Cromwell: _State Papers_, Vol. II. p. 198.

[327] Act of Attainder of the Earl of Kildare: 28 Hen. VIII. cap. 1. The
act is explicit that the rebellion was in consequence of Kildare
discovering that the king would not again trust him; and that he had
carefully prepared for it before he left Ireland.

[328] Cork and Waterford continued loyal. The mayor of the latter place
wrote, on the 12th of July, to Cromwell as follows: "This instant day,
report is made by the Vicar of Dungarvan, that the emperour hath sent
certain letters unto the Earl of Desmond, by the same chaplain or
ambassador that was sent to James the late earl. And the common bruit
is, that his practice is to win the Geraltynes and the Breenes; and that
the emperour intendeth shortly to send an army to invade the cities and
towns by the sea coasts of this land. This thing was spoken by a
Spaniard more than a month agone to one of the inhabitants of this city;
and because I thought it then somewhat incredible, I forbare at that
time to write unto your wisdom thereof. The chaplain arrived more than
fifteen days past at the Dingle, in the dominion of the said Earl, which
Earl hath, for the victualling of his castle of Dungarvan, taken a ship
charged with Spanish wines, that was bound to the town of Galway; and
albeit that his years requireth quietness and rest, yet intendeth he as
much trouble as ever did any of his nation."--William Wise, Mayor of
Waterford, to Cromwell, July 12, 1534: _State Papers_, Vol. II. p. 198.

[329] On the 21st of July, O'Brien of Thomond wrote the following
characteristic letter to Charles:--

  _Corny O'Brien, Prince of Ireland, to the Emperor Charles V._

  "July 21, 1534.

"To the most sacred and most invincible Cæsar, Charles Emperor of the
Romans, Most Catholic King of Spain, health with all submission.--Most
sacred Cæsar, lord most clement, we give your Majesty to know that our
predecessors for a long time quietly and peacefully occupied Ireland,
with constancy, force, and courage, and without rebellion. They
possessed and governed this country in manner royal, as by our ancient
chronicles doth plainly appear. Our said predecessors and ancestry did
come from your Majesty's realm of Spain, where they were of the blood of
a Spanish prince, and many Kings of that lineage, in long succession,
governed all Ireland happily, until it was conquered by the English. The
last King of this land was of my blood and name; and ever since that
time our ancestors, and we ourselves, have ceased not to oppose the
English intruders; we have never been subject to English rule, or
yielded up our ancient rights and liberties; and there is at this
present, and for ever will be, perpetual discord between us, and we will
harass them with continual war.

"For this cause, we, who till this present, have sworn fealty to no man,
submit ourselves, our lands, our families, our followers, to the
protection and defence of your Majesty, and of free will and deliberate
purpose we promise to obey your Majesty's orders and commands in all
honest behests. We will serve your Majesty with all our force; that is
to say, with 1660 horse and 2440 foot, equipped and armed. Further, we
will levy and direct for your Majesty's use 13,000 men, well armed with
harquebuss, bows, arrows, and swords. We will submit to your Majesty's
will and jurisdiction more than a hundred castles, and they and all else
shall be at your Majesty's disposition to be employed as you shall

"We can undertake also for the assistance and support of our good
brother the Earl of Desmond, whose cousin, the daughter of the late Earl
James, your Majesty's friend, is our wife.

"Our further pleasure will be declared to you by our servants and
friends, Robert and Dominic de Paul, to whom your Majesty will deign to
give credence. May your Majesty be ever prosperous.

"Written at our Castle at Clare, witness, our daughter, July 21, 1534,
by your humble servant and unfailing friend,

  "CORNY O'BRIEN, Prince of Ireland."

--MS. Archives at Brussels: _The Pilgrim_, pp. 175, 176.

[330] Cowley to Cromwell: _State Papers_, Vol. II p. 198.

[331] Campion's _History of Ireland_, p. 175. Leland, Vol. II. p. 143.

[332] _State Papers_, Vol. II. p. 168.

[333] Thomas Finglas to Cromwell: _State Papers_, Vol. II. p. 200.

[334] Agard to Cromwell: _State Papers_, Vol. II. p. 245.

[335] Leland, Vol. II. p. 145.

[336] Leland, Vol. II. p. 145.

[337] Act of Attainder of the Earl of Kildare: 28 Henry VIII. cap. 1.
The Prior of Kilmainham to Henry VIII.: _State Papers_, Vol. II. p. 501.
Campion, p. 178

[338] Call McGravyll, or Charles Reynolds: Act of Attainder, 28 Henry
VIII. c. 1. Campion, p. 176.

[339] Such, at least, one of Fitzgerald's attendants, who was present at
the murder, understood to be one of the objects of the archdeacon's
mission. (_State Papers_, Vol. II. p. 201, note.) The act of attainder
says merely that he was sent to beg for assistance.

[340] Rawson, one of the Irish Council.

[341] _State Papers_, Vol. II. p. 201.

[342] Leland, Vol. II. p. 146.

[343] Instructions to Walter Cowley to be declared to the King's
Highness in behalf of the Earl of Ossory: _State Papers_, Vol. II. p.

[344] Ibid. Campion, pp. 177, 178.

[345] M'Morrough, O'More, O'Connor, O'Brien, in September, with the
greatest part of the gentlemen of the county of Kildare, were retained
and sat at Carlow, Castledermot, Athye, Kilkea, and thereabout, with
victualls during three weeks, to resist the Earl of Ossory from invading
of the county of Kildare.--_State Papers_, Vol. II. p. 251.

[346] The rebel chiefly trusteth in his ordnance, which he hath of the
king's.--Allen to Cromwell: Ibid. p. 202.

[347] Allen, Master of the Rolls, had gone over to quicken his sluggish
movements, and wrote from Chester to Cromwell, in despair: "Please your
goodness to be advertised, that as yet the deputy is at Beaumaris, and
the Northern men's horses have been on shipboard these twelve days,
which is the danger of their destruction. They have lost such a wind and
fair weather, as I doubt they shall not have again for this winter
season. Mr. Brereton (Sir William Brereton, Skeffington's second in
command) lieth here at the sea side in a readiness. If their first
appointment to Dublin had been kept, they might have been there; but now
they tarry to pass with the deputy. Sir, for the love of God, let some
aid be sent to Dublin; for the loss of that city and the castle were the
plain subversion of the land."--Allen to Cromwell, Oct. 4: _State
Papers_, Vol. II. p. 202.

[348] Instructions to Walter Cowley on behalf of the Earl of Ossory:
Ibid. p. 251.

[349] Sir William Brereton to Henry VIII.: Ibid. p. 204.

[350] Two thousand five hundred was the smallest number which Lord
Surrey previously mentioned as sufficient to do good.--_State Papers_,
Vol. II. p. 73.

[351] Fifteen miles north of Dublin; immediately off Malahide.

[352] Sir William Brereton and Sir John Salisbury to Henry VIII.: _State
Papers_, Vol. II. p. 203.

[353] A small harbour near Drogheda.

[354] Skeffington was prudently reserved in his report of these things
to Henry. He mentions having set a party on shore, but says nothing of
their having been destroyed; and he could not have been ignorant of
their fate, for he was writing three weeks after it, from Dublin. He was
silent, too, of the injury which he had received from the pirates,
though eloquent on the boats which he burnt at the Skerries.--_State
Papers_, Vol. II. p. 205. On first reading Skeffington's despatch, I had
supposed that the "brilliant victory" claimed by the Irish historians
(see Leland, Vol. II. p. 148) must have been imaginary. The Irish
Statute Book, however, is too explicit to allow of such a hope. "He
[Fitzgerald] not only fortified and manned divers ships at sea, for
keeping and letting, destroying and taking the king's deputy, army, and
subjects, that they should not land within the said land; but also at
the arrival of the said army, the same Thomas, accompanied with his
uncles, servants, adherents, &c., falsely and traitorously assembled
themselves together upon the sea coast, for keeping and resisting the
king's deputy and army; and the same time they shamefully murdered
divers of the said army coming to land. And Edward Rowkes, pirate at the
sea, captain to the said Thomas, destroyed and took many of them."---
Act of Attainder of the Earl of Kildare: 28 Hen. VIII. cap. 1.

[355] Skeffington to Henry VIII.: _State Papers_, Vol. II. pp. 206, 207.

[356] Accompanied with the number of sixty or eighty horsemen, and about
three hundred kerne and gallowglass, the traitor came to the town of
Trim, and there not only robbed the same, but also burnt a great part
thereof, and took all the cattle of the country thereabouts; and after
that assaulted Dunboyne, within six miles to Dublin; and the inhabitants
of the town defending themselves by the space of two days, and sending
for succour to Dublin ... in default of relief, he utterly destroyed and
burnt the whole town.--Allen to Cromwell: _State Papers_, Vol. II. p.

[357] He hath sent divers muniments and precedents which should prove
that the king held this land of the See of Rome; alledging the king and
his realm to be heretics digressed from the obedience of the same, and
of the faith Catholic. Wherefore his desire is to the emperour and the
Bishop of Rome, that they will aid him in defence of the faith Catholic
against the king, promising that he will hold the said land of them, and
pay tribute for the same yearly.--Ibid. p. 222.

[358] My lord deputy desireth so much his own glory, that he would no
man should make an enterprise except he were at it.--Ibid. p. 227.

[359] Skeffington to Sir Edmund Walsingham: _State Papers_, Vol. II. p.

[360] Allen to Cromwell: Ibid. p. 220.

[361] In Kildare county, on the frontiers of the pale.

[362] The captains and I, the Earl (of Ossory) directed letters to the
deputy to meet us in the county of Kildare, at Kilcaa, bringing with him
ordnance accordingly, when the deputy appointed without fail to meet. At
which day and place the said Earl, with the army (of) Waterford failed
not to be, and there did abide three days continually for the deputy;
where he, neither any of the army, came not, ne any letter or word was
had from him; but only that Sir James Fitzgerald told that he heard say
he was sick.--Ossory to W. Cowley: _State Papers_, Vol. II. p. 251.

[363] Allen certainly thought so, or at least was unable to assure
himself that it was not so. "My simple advice shall be," he wrote, "that
if ever the king intend to show him grace (which himself demandeth not
in due manner) and to pardon him, to withdraw his charges and to pardon
him out of hand; or else to send hither a proclamation under the Great
Seal of England, that the king never intends to pardon him ne any that
shall take part with him, but utterly to prosecute both him and them to
their utter confusion. For the gentlemen of the country hath said
plainly to divers of the council, that until this be done, they dare not
be earnest in resisting him, in doubt, he should have his pardon
hereafter, as his grandfather, his father, and divers his ancestors have
had; and then would prosecute them for the same."--_State Papers_, Vol.
II. p 222.

[364] Allen to Cromwell: _State Papers_, Vol. II. p. 226.

[365] "Restraint must be had that this army shall not spoil ne rob any
person, but as the deputy and council shall appoint; and that the
captains be obedient to their orders, or it shall not be well. Ne it is
not meet that every soldier shall make a man a traitor for to have his
goods. They be so nusselled in this robbery, that now they almost will
not go forth to defend the country, except they may have gain."--Allen
to Cromwell, Feb. 16.

[366] "The bows which came out of the stores at Ludlow Castle were
naught; many of them would not hold the bending."--_State Papers_, Vol.
II. p. 228.

[367] The king, a few months later, wrote to him a letter of warm thanks
for his services, and admitted his plea of ill-health with peculiar
kindness.--Henry VIII. to Skeffington: _State Papers_, Vol. II. p. 280.

[368] Brabazon to Cromwell: Ibid. p. 224.

[369] Allen to Cromwell: Ibid. p. 230.

[370] Campion, p. 179.

[371] Leland, Coxe, Ware.

[372] Henry VIII. was one of the first men to foresee and value the
power of artillery. Sebastiani mentions experiments on the range of guns
which were made by him, in Southampton water; and it is likely that the
cannon used in the siege of Maynooth were the large-sized brass guns
which were first cast in England in the year of its capture.--Stow, p.
572. When the history of artillery is written, Henry VIII.'s labours in
this department must not be forgotten. Two foreign engineers whom he
tempted into his service, first invented "shells." "One Peter Baud, a
Frenchman born," says Stow, "and another alien, called Peter Van Collen,
a gunsmith, both the king's feed men, conferring together, devised and
caused to be made certain mortar pieces, being at the mouth from eleven
inches unto nineteen inches wide, for the use whereof they [also] caused
to be made certain hollow shot of cast iron, to be stuffed with
fire-work or wildfire; whereof the bigger sort for the same had screws
of iron to receive a match to carry fire kindled, that the firework
might be set on fire for to break in pieces the same hollow shot,
whereof the smallest piece hitting any man would kill or spoil
him."--Stow, _Chronicle_, p. 584.

[373] _State Papers_, Vol. II. p. 237.

[374] _State Papers_, Vol. I. p. 446.

[375] Ibid Vol. II. p. 253.

[376] Lord Thomas Fitzgerald to Lord Leonard Grey: _State Papers_, Vol.
II. p. 273.

[377] The Lord Leonard repayreth at this season to your Majesty,
bringing with him the said Thomas, beseeching your Highness most humbly,
that according to the comfort of our words spoken to the same Thomas to
allure him to yield him, ye would be merciful to the said Thomas,
especially concerning his life.--The Council of Ireland to Henry VIII.:
_State Papers_, Vol. II. p. 275.

[378] _State Papers_, Vol. II. p. 274.

[379] The conditions promised to Napoleon by the captain of the
_Bellerophon_ created a similar difficulty. If Nana Sahib had by any
chance been connected by marriage with an English officer, and had that
officer induced him to surrender by a promise of pardon, would the
English Government have respected that promise?

[380] It were the worst example that ever was; and especially for these
ungracious people of Ireland.--Norfolk to Cromwell: _State Papers_, Vol.
II. p. 276.

[381] Ibid.

[382] Ibid. The duke, throughout his letter, takes a remarkably
businesslike view of the situation. He does not allow the question of
"right" to be raised, or suppose at all that the government could lie
under any kind of obligation to a person in the position of Fitzgerald.



[Sidenote: State of England in the summer of 1534.]

While the disturbance in Ireland was at its height, affairs in England
had been scarcely less critical. The surface indeed remained unbroken.
The summer of 1534 passed away, and the threatened invasion had not
taken place. The disaffection which had appeared in the preceding year
had been smothered for a time; Francis I. held the emperor in check by
menacing Flanders, and through French influence the rupture with
Scotland had been seemingly healed. In appearance the excommunication
had passed off as a _brutum fulmen_, a flash of harmless sheet
lightning, serving only to dazzle feeble eyes. The oath of succession,
too, had been taken generally through the country; Sir Thomas More and
Bishop Fisher having alone ventured to refuse. The pope had been abjured
by the universities and by the convocation in both the provinces, and to
these collective acts the bishops and the higher clergy had added each
their separate consent.

[Sidenote: The clergy comply with the revolution, but inwardly have
little heart for it.]

[Sidenote: They bend before the storm, trusting to time.]

[Sidenote: The clergy are called upon to explain to the people the
changes which have taken place.]

But the government knew too well the temper of the clergy to trust to
outward compliance, or to feel assured that they acquiesced at heart
either in the separation from Rome, or in the loss of their treasured
privileges. The theory of an Anglican Erastianism found favour with
some of the higher church dignitaries, and with a section perhaps of
secular priests; but the transfer to the crown of the first-fruits,
which in their original zeal for a free Church of England the
ecclesiastics had hoped to preserve for themselves, the abrupt
limitation of the powers of convocation, and the termination of so many
time-honoured and lucrative abuses, had interfered with the popularity
of a view which might have been otherwise broadly welcomed; and while
growing vigorously among the country gentlemen and the middle classes in
the towns, among the clergy it throve only within the sunshine of the
court. The rest were overawed for the moment, and stunned by the
suddenness of the blows which had fallen upon them. As far as they
thought at all, they believed that the storm would be but of brief
duration, that it would pass away as it had risen, and that for the
moment they had only to bend. The modern Englishman looks back upon the
time with the light of after history. He has been inured by three
centuries of division to the spectacle of a divided church, and sees
nothing in it either embarrassing or fearful. The ministers of a faith
which had been for fifteen centuries as the seamless vesture of Christ,
the priests of a church supposed to be founded on the everlasting rock
against which no power could prevail, were in a very different position.
They obeyed for the time the strong hand which was upon them, trusting
to the interference of accident or providence. They comforted themselves
with the hope that the world would speedily fall back into its old ways,
that Christ and the saints would defend the church against sacrilege,
and that in the meantime there was no occasion for them to thrust
themselves upon voluntary martyrdom.[383] But this position, natural as
it was, became difficult to maintain when they were called upon not only
themselves to consent to the changes, but to justify their consent to
their congregations, and to explain to the people the grounds on which
the government had acted. The kingdom was by implication under an
interdict,[384] yet the services went on as usual; the king was
excommunicated; doubt hung over the succession; the facts were
imperfectly known; and the never-resting friars mendicant were busy
scattering falsehood and misrepresentation. It was of the highest moment
that on all these important matters the mind of the nation should if
possible be set at rest; and the clergy, whose loyalty was presumed
rather than trusted, furnished the only means by which the government
could generally and simultaneously reach the people. The clergy
therefore, as we have seen, were called upon for their services; the
pope's name was erased from the mass; books; the statute of appeals and
the statute of succession were fixed against the doors of every parish
church in England, and the rectors and curates were directed every week
in their sermons to explain the meaning of these acts. The bishops were
held responsible for the obedience of the clergy; the sheriffs and the
magistrates had been directed to keep an eye upon the bishops; and all
the machinery of centralization was put in force to compel the
fulfilment of a duty which was well known to be unwelcome.

[Sidenote: The order for preaching. Every preacher to deliver one sermon
against the papal usurpation.]

[Sidenote: The archbishop's sentence to be held a thing of mere verity,
not to be again called in question.]

[Sidenote: The clergy are forbidden to preach upon disputed points of

That as little latitude as possible might be left for resistance or
evasion, books were printed by order of council, and distributed through
the hands of the bishops, containing a minute account of the whole
proceedings on the divorce, the promises and falsehoods of the pope, the
opinions of the European universities, and a general epitome of the
course which had been pursued.[385] These were to be read aloud to the
congregations; and an order for preaching was at the same time
circulated, in which the minuteness of the directions is as remarkable
as the prudence of them. Every preacher was to deliver one sermon at
least ("and after at his liberty") on the encroachments and usurpations
of the papal power. He was to preach against it, to expose and refute it
to the best of his ability, and to declare that it was done away, and
might neither be obeyed nor defended further. Again in all places "where
the king's just cause in his matter of matrimony had been detracted, and
the incestuous and unjust [matrimony] had been set forth [and
extolled]," the clergy were generally directed "to open and declare the
mere verity and justice" of the matter, declaring it "neither doubtful
nor disputable," but to be a thing of mere verity, and so to be allowed
of all men's opinions. They were to relate in detail the pope's conduct,
his many declarations in the king's favour; the first decretal, which
was withheld by Campeggio, in which he had pronounced the marriage with
Catherine invalid; his unjust avocation of the cause to Rome; his
promises to the King of France; and finally, his engagement at
Marseilles to pronounce in the King of England's favour, if only he
would acknowledge the papal jurisdiction.[386] They were therefore to
represent the king's conduct as the just and necessary result of the
pope's duplicity. These things the clergy were required to teach, not as
matters of doubt and question, but as vital certainties on which no
difference of opinion could be tolerated. Finally, there were added a
few wholesome admonitions on other subjects, which mark the turning of
the tide from Catholic orthodoxy. The clergy were interdicted from
indulging any longer in the polemics of theology. "To keep unity and
quietness in the realm it" was "ordained that no preachers" should
"contend openly in the pulpit one against another, nor uncharitably
deprave one another in open audience. If any of them" were "grieved one
with another," they were to "complain to the King's Highness or the
archbishop or bishop of the diocese." They were "purely, sincerely, and
justly" to "preach the scripture and words of Christ, and not mix them
with men's institutions, or make men believe that the force of God's law
and man's law was the like." On subjects such as purgatory, worship of
saints and relics, marriage of the clergy, justification by faith,
pilgrimages and miracles, they were to keep silence for one whole year,
and not to preach at all.[387]

[Sidenote: Difficulty of securing obedience to the order.
Obstructiveness of the bishops,]

[Sidenote: And of the regular clergy.]

These instructions express distinctly the convictions of the government.
It would have been well if the clergy could have accepted them as they
were given, and submitted their understandings once for all to statesmen
who were wiser than themselves. The majority (of the parish clergy at
least) were perhaps outwardly obedient; but the surveillance which the
magistrates were directed to exercise proves that the exceptions were
expected to be extensive; and in many quarters these precautions
themselves were rapidly discovered to be inadequate. Several even of the
most trusted among the bishops attempted an obstructive resistance. The
clergy of the north were notoriously disobedient. The Archbishop of York
was reported to have talked loosely of "standing against" the king "unto
death."[388] The Bishop of Durham fell under suspicion, and was summoned
to London. His palace was searched and his papers examined in his
absence; and the result, though inconclusive, was unsatisfactory.[389]
The religious orders again (especially the monks of such houses as had
been implicated with the Nun of Kent) were openly recusant. At the
convent at Sion, near Richmond, a certain Father Ricot preached as he
was commanded, "but he made this addition, that he which commanded him
to preach should discharge his conscience: and as soon," it was said,
"as the said Ricot began to declare the king's title," "nine of the
brethren departed from the sermon, contrary to the rule of their
religion, to the great slander of the audience."[390] Indeed it soon
became evident that among the regular clergy no compliance whatever was
to be looked for; and the agents of the government began to contemplate
the possible consequences, with a tenderness not indeed for the
prospective sufferers, but for the authorities whom they would so
cruelly compel to punish them. "I am right sorry," wrote Cromwell's
secretary to him, "to see the foolishness and obstinacy of divers
religious men, so addict to the Bishop of Rome and his usurped power,
that they contemn counsel as careless men and willing to die. If it were
not for the opinion which men had, and some yet have, in their apparent
holiness, it made no great matter what became of them, so their souls
were saved. And for my part, I would that all such obstinate persons of
them as be ready to die for the advancement of the Bishop of Rome's
authority were dead indeed by God's hand, that no man should run
wrongfully into obloquy for their just punishment."[391]

[Sidenote: Powers of the confessional.]

[Sidenote: The clergy in some cases advise their penitents to take the
oaths with a mental reservation.]

But the open resistance of mistaken honesty was not the danger which the
government most feared. Another peril threatened their authority, deeper
and more alarming by far. The clergy possessed in the confessional a
power of secret influence over the masses of the people, by which they
were able at once (if they so pleased) to grant their penitents licences
for insincerity, to permit them to perjure themselves under mental
reservations, and to encourage them to expiate a venial falsehood by
concealed disaffection. The secrets of confession were inviolable.
Anathemas the most fearful forbade their disclosure; and, secured behind
this impenetrable shield, the church might defy the most stringent
provisions, and baffle every precaution.

From the nature of the case but little could transpire of the use or the
abuse which was made at such a time of so vast a power; but Cromwell,
whose especial gift it was to wind himself into the secrets of the
clergy, had his sleuth-hounds abroad, whose scent was not easily
baffled. The long tyranny of the priesthood produced also its natural
retribution in the informations which were too gladly volunteered in the
hour of revenge; and more than one singular disclosure remains among the
_State Papers_, of language used in this mysterious intercourse. Every
man who doubted whether he might lawfully abjure the pope, consulted his
priest. Haughton, the Prior of Charterhouse, in all such cases, declared
absolutely that the abjuration might not be made.[392] He himself
refused openly; and it is likely that he directed others to be as open
as himself. But Haughton's advice was as exceptional as his conduct.
Father Forest, of Greenwich, who was a brave man, and afterwards met
nobly a cruel death, took the oath to the king as he was required; while
he told a penitent that he had abjured the pope in the outward, but not
in the inward man, that he "owed an obedience to the pope which he could
not shake off," and that it was "his use and practice in confession, to
induce men to hold and stick to the old fashion of belief."[393]

[Sidenote: Confession of John Staunton.]

Here, again, is a conversation which a treacherous penitent revealed to
Cromwell; the persons in the dialogue being the informer, John Staunton,
and the confessor of Sion Monastery, who had professed the most
excessive loyalty to the crown.[394] The informer, it must be allowed,
was a good-for-nothing person. He had gone to the confessor, he said, to
be shriven, and had commenced his confession with acknowledging "the
seven deadly sins particularly," "and next the misspending of his five
wits." As an instance of the latter, he then in detail had confessed to
heresy; he could not persuade himself that the priest had power to
forgive him. "Sir," he professed to have said to the confessor, "there
is one thing in my stomach which grieveth my conscience very sore; and
that is by reason of a sermon I heard yesterday of Master Latimer,
saying that no man of himself had authority to forgive sins, and that
the pope had no more authority than another bishop; and therefore I am
in doubt whether I shall have remission of my sins of you or not, and
that the pardon is of no effect."

The priest answered, "That Latimer is a false knave;" and seven or eight
times he called him false knave, and said he was an eretycke. "Marry,
this I heard Latimer say," the confessor continued, "that if a man come
to confession, and be not sorry for his sins, the priest hath no power
to forgive him. I say the pope's pardon is as good as ever it was; and
he is the Head of the Universal Church, and so I will take him. Here in
England the king and his parliament hath put him out; but be of good
comfort, and steadfast in your faith; this thing will not last long, I
warrant you. You shall see the world change shortly."

To this the informer said that he had replied, "You know how that we be
sworn unto the King's Grace, and he hath already abjured the pope."

[Sidenote: The confessor thinks that an oath loosely made may be loosely

[Sidenote: Reported advice of Cranmer to the confessor of Sion.]

"As for that," said the priest, "an oath loosely made may be loosely
broken; and by this example be ye in ease. I had an enemy come unto this
church, and one of his friends and mine came unto me and said, 'Sir, I
pray you let us go drink with yonder man.' And the said friend maketh
such importunate suit unto me to drink with my enemy, that I promise him
by my faith that I will go and drink with him; and so indeed doth drink
with him. But what then," said the priest; "though I go and drink with
him upon this promise, trow you that I will forgive him with my heart.
Nay, nay, I warrant you. And so in like wise in this oath concerning the
abjuration of the pope. I will not abjure him in my heart," said the
priest, "for these words were not spoken unto Peter for nought--'I will
give thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven'--and the pope is Peter's
successor. Of this matter," said the priest, "I communed once with the
Bishop of Canterbury,[395] and I told the bishop I would pray for the
pope as the chief and papal head of Christ's church. And the bishop told
me it was the king's pleasure that I should not. I said unto him I would
do it; and though I did it not openly, yet would I do it secretly. And
he said I might pray for him secretly, but in any wise do it not

[Sidenote: Maitland the Black Friar, by his science of nigromancy,
foretells a counter-revolution.]

Trifles of this kind may seem unimportant; but at the time they were of
moment, for their weight was cumulative; and we can only now recover but
a few out of many. Such as they are, however, they show the spirit in
which the injunctions were received by a section at least of the English
clergy. Nor was this the worst. We find language reported, which shows
that many among the monks were watching for symptoms of the promised
imperial invasion, and the progress of the Irish insurgents. A Doctor
Maitland, of the order of Black Friars in London, had been "heard divers
times to say, he trusted to see every man's head that was of the new
learning, and the maintainers of them, to stand upon a stake, and
Cranmer's to be one of them. The king," he hoped, might suffer "a
violent and shameful death;" and "the queen, that mischievous whore,
might be brent." "He said further, that he knew by his science, which
was nigromancy, that all men of the new learning should be suppressed
and suffer death, and the _people of the old learning should be set up
again by the power of the king's enemies from the parts beyond the

[Sidenote: Feron and Hale.]

[Sidenote: Feron hopes that Henry's death may be like that of the
manqueller Richard.]

In the May weather of 1534, two Middlesex clergy, "walking to and fro
in the cloyster garden at Sion, were there overheard compassing sedition
and rebellion." John Hale, an eager, tumultuous person, was prompting
his brother priest, Robert Feron, with matter for a pamphlet, which
Feron was to write against the king.[398] "Syth the realm of England was
first a realm," said Hale, "was there never in it so great a robber and
piller of the commonwealth read of nor heard of as is our king..... He
is the most cruellest capital heretic, defacer and treader under foot of
Christ and of his church, continually applying and minding to extinct
the same; whose death, I beseech God, may be like to the death of the
most wicked John, sometime king of this realm, or rather to be called a
great tyran than a king; and that his death may be not much unlike to
the end of that manqueller Richard, sometime usurper of this imperial
realm. And if thou wilt deeply look upon his life, thou shalt find it
more foul and more stinking than a sow wallowing and defiling herself in
any filthy place."

[Sidenote: The Irish will persevere in the quarrel, and the Welsh will
join them.]

[Sidenote: Three parts of England be against the king.]

These words were spoken in English; Feron translated them into Latin,
and wrote them down. Hale then continued: "Until the king and the rulers
of this realm be plucked by the pates, and brought, as we say, to the
pot, shall we never live merrily in England, which, I pray God, may
chance, and now shortly come to pass. Ireland is set against him, which
will never shrink in their quarrel to die in it; and what think ye of
Wales? The noble and gentle Ap Ryce,[399] so cruelly put to death, and
he innocent, as they say, in the cause. _I think not contrary, but they
will join and take part with the Irish, and so invade our realm. If they
do so, doubt ye not but they shall have aid and strength enough in
England. For this is truth: three parts of England be against the king,
as he shall find if he need._ For of truth, they go about to bring this
realm into such miserable condition as is France; which the commons see,
_and perceive well enough a sufficient cause of rebellion and
insurrection in this realm. And truly we of the church shall never live
merrily until that day come_."[400]

[Sidenote: The persecuting laws against the Catholics.]

These informations may assist us in understanding, if we cannot forgive,
the severe enactments--severely to be executed--which were passed in the
ensuing parliament.

[Sidenote: Effect of circumstances upon policy.]

[Sidenote: A modern analogy.]

It is a maxim of sound policy, that actions only are a proper subject of
punishment,--that to treat men as offenders for their words, their
intentions, or their opinions, is not justice, but tyranny. But there is
no rule which is universally applicable. The policy of a state of war is
not the policy of a state of peace. And as a soldier in a campaign is
not at liberty to criticise openly the cause for which he is fighting;
as no general, on his army going into action, can permit a subordinate
to decline from his duty in the moment of danger, on the plea that he is
dissatisfied with the grounds of the quarrel, and that his conscience
forbids him to take part in it; so there are times when whole nations
are in a position analogous to that of an army so circumstanced; when
the safety of the State depends upon unity of purpose, and when private
persons must be compelled to reserve their opinions to themselves; when
they must be compelled neither to express them in words, nor to act upon
them in their capacity of citizens, except at their utmost peril. At
such times the _salus populi_ overrides all other considerations; and
the maxims and laws of calmer periods for awhile consent to be
suspended. The circumstances of the year 1848 will enable us, if we
reflect, not upon what those circumstances actually were, but on what
they easily might have been, to understand the position of Henry VIII.'s
government at the moment of the separation from Rome. If the danger in
1848 had ceased to be imaginary,--if Ireland had broken into a real
insurrection,--if half the population of England had been Socialist, and
had been in secret league with the leaders of the Revolution in Paris
for a combined attack upon the State by insurrection and invasion,--the
mere passing of a law, making the use of seditious language an act of
treason, would not have been adequate to the danger. Influential persons
would have been justly submitted to question on their allegiance, and
insufficient answers would have been interpreted as justifying
suspicion. Not the expression only, of opinions subversive of society,
but the holding such opinions, however discovered, would have been
regarded and treated as a crime, with the full consent of what is
called the common sense and educated judgment of the nation.[401]

[Sidenote: The Romanism of the sixteenth century not the Romanism of the

If for "opinions subversive of society," we substitute allegiance to the
papacy, the parallel is complete between the year 1848, as it would then
have been, and the time when the penal laws which are considered the
reproach of the Tudor governments were passed against the Roman
Catholics. I assume that the Reformation was in itself right; that the
claims of the pope to an English supremacy were unjust; and that it was
good and wise to resist those claims. If this be allowed, those laws
will not be found to deserve the reproach of tyranny. We shall see in
them but the natural resource of a vigorous government placed in
circumstances of extreme peril. The Romanism of the present day is a
harmless opinion, no more productive of evil than any other
superstition, and without tendency, or shadow of tendency, to impair the
allegiance of those who profess it. But we must not confound a phantom
with a substance; or gather from modern experience the temper of a time
when words implied realities, when Catholics really believed that they
owed no allegiance to an heretical sovereign, and that the first duty of
their lives was to a foreign potentate. This perilous doctrine was
waning, indeed, but it was not dead. By many it was actively professed;
and among those by whom it was denied there were few except the
Protestants whom it did not in some degree embarrass and perplex.

[Sidenote: Parliament meets, November 3.]

[Sidenote: The king is declared supreme Head of the Church.]

The government, therefore, in the close of 1534, having clear evidence
before them of intended treason, determined to put it down with a high
hand; and with this purpose parliament met again on the 3d of November.
The first act of the session was to give the sanction of the legislature
to the title which had been conceded by convocation, and to declare the
king supreme Head of the Church of England. As affirmed by the
legislature, this designation meant something more than when it was
granted three years previously by the clergy. It then implied that the
spiritual body were no longer to be an _imperium in imperio_ within the
realm, but should hold their powers subordinate to the crown. It was now
an assertion of independence of foreign jurisdiction; it was the
complement of the Act of Appeals, rounding off into completeness the
constitution in Church and State of the English nation. The act is
short, and being of so great importance, I insert it entire.

[Sidenote: Act of Supremacy.]

"Albeit," it runs, "the King's Majesty justly and rightfully is and
ought to be the supreme Head of the Church of England, and so is
recognised by the clergy of this realm in their convocation, yet
nevertheless, for corroboration and confirmation thereof, and for
increase of virtue in Christ's religion within this realm of England,
and to repress and extirp all errours, heresies, and other enormities
and abuses heretofore used in the same: Be it enacted, by authority of
this present parliament, that the King our Sovereign Lord, his heirs and
successors, kings of this realm, shall be taken, accepted, and reputed
the only supreme Head in earth of the Church of England, called
_Anglicana Ecclesia_, and shall have and enjoy, annexed and united to
the imperial crown of this realm, as well the title and style thereof as
all the honours, dignities, pre-eminences, jurisdictions, authorities,
immunities, profits, and commodities, to the said dignity belonging and
appertaining; and that our said Sovereign Lord, his heirs and
successors, kings of this realm, shall have full power and authority to
visit, repress, redress, reform, order, correct, restrain, and amend all
such errours, heresies, abuses, contempts, and enormities, whatsoever
they be, which by any manner of spiritual authority or jurisdiction
ought or may lawfully be reformed--most to the pleasure of Almighty God,
the increase of virtue in Christ's religion, and for the conservation of
the peace, unity, and tranquillity of this realm--any usage, custom,
foreign lawes, foreign authority, prescription, or any other thing or
things to the contrary hereof notwithstanding."[402]

[Sidenote: The meaning and value of the title.]

[Sidenote: It becomes the gage of the battle.]

Considerable sarcasm has been levelled at the assumption by Henry of
this title; and on the accession of Elizabeth, the crown, while
reclaiming the authority, thought it prudent to retire from the
designation. Yet it answered a purpose in marking the nature of the
revolution, and the emphasis of the name carried home the change into
the mind of the country. It was the epitome of all the measures which
had been passed against the encroachments of the spiritual powers within
and without the realm; it was at once the symbol of the independence of
England, and the declaration that thenceforth the civil magistrate was
supreme within the English dominions over church as well as state.[403]

Whether the king was or was not head of the church, became now therefore
the rallying point of the struggle; and the denial or acceptance of his
title the test of allegiance or disloyalty. To accept it was to go along
with the movement heartily and completely; to deny it was to admit the
rival sovereignty of the pope, and with his sovereignty the lawfulness
of the sentence of excommunication. It was to imply that Henry was not
only not head of the church, but that he was no longer lawful King of
England, and that the allegiance of the country must be transferred to
the Princess Mary when the pope and the emperor should give the word.
There might be no intention of treason; the motive of the opposition
might be purely religious; but from the nature of the case opposition of
any kind would abet the treason of others; and no honesty of meaning
could render possible any longer a double loyalty to the crown and to
the papacy.

[Sidenote: The new Treason Act.]

The act conferring the title was in consequence followed by another,
declaring the denial of it to be treason. It was necessary to stop the
tongues of the noisy mutinous monks, to show them once for all that
these high matters were no subjects for trifling. The oath to the
succession of the Princess Elizabeth partially answered this purpose;
and the obligation to take that oath had been extended to all classes of
the king's subjects;[404] but to refuse to swear to the succession was
misprision of treason only, not high treason; and the ecclesiastics (it
had been seen) found no difficulty in swearing oaths which they did not
mean to observe. The parliament therefore now attached to the statute of
supremacy the following imperious corollary:--

[Sidenote: For the better security of the realm, it is enacted, That any
person who, by words, writing, or otherwise, deprives the king or queen
of any one of their just titles, shall be held guilty of high treason.]

"Forasmuch as it is most necessary, both for common policy and duty of
subjects, above all things to prohibit, provide, restrain, and extinct
all manner of shameful slanders, perils, or imminent danger or dangers,
which might grow, happen, or arise to their sovereign lord the king, the
queen, or their heirs, which, when they be heard, seen, or understood,
cannot be but odible and also abhorred of all those sorts that be true
and loving subjects, if in any point they may, do, or shall touch the
king, the queen, their heirs or successors, upon which dependeth the
whole unity and universal weal of this realm; without providing
wherefore, too great a scope should be given to all cankered and
traitorous hearts, willers and workers of the same; and also the king's
loving subjects should not declare unto their sovereign lord now being,
which unto them both hath been and is most entirely beloved and
esteemed, their undoubted sincerity and truth: Be it therefore enacted,
that if any person or persons, after the first day of February next
coming, do maliciously wish, will, or desire, by words or writing, or by
craft imagine, invent, practise, or attempt any bodily harm to be done
or committed to the king's most royal person, the queen's, or their
heirs apparent, or to _deprive them or any of them of the dignity,
title, or name of their royal estates_, or slanderously and maliciously
publish and pronounce by express writing or words that the king our
sovereign lord should be heretic, schismatic, tyrant, infidel, or
usurper of the crown, &c., &c., that all such persons, their aiders,
counsellors, concertors, or abettors, being thereof lawfully convict
according to the laws and customs of the realm, shall be adjudged
traitors, and that every such offence in any of the premises shall be
adjudged high treason."[405]

[Sidenote: The act made still more comprehensive, in the interpretation
of it.]

[Sidenote: Retributive justice.]

The terrible powers which were thus committed to the government lie on
the surface of this language; but comprehensive as the statute appears,
it was still further extended by the interpretation of the lawyers. In
order to fall under its penalties it was held not to be necessary that
positive guilt should be proved in any one of the specified offences; it
was enough if a man refused to give satisfactory answers when subjected
to official examination.[406] At the discretion of the king or his
ministers the active consent to the supremacy might be required of any
person on whom they pleased to call, under penalty to the recusant of
the dreadful death of a traitor. So extreme a measure can only be
regarded as a remedy for an evil which was also extreme; and as on the
return of quiet times the parliament made haste to repeal a law which
was no longer required, so in the enactment of that law we are bound to
believe that they were not betraying English liberties in a spirit of
careless complacency; but that they believed truly that the security of
the state required unusual precautions. The nation was standing with its
sword half drawn in the face of an armed Europe, and it was no time to
permit dissensions in the camp.[407] Toleration is good--but even the
best things must abide their opportunity; and although we may regret
that in this grand struggle for freedom, success could only be won by
the aid of measures which bordered upon oppression, yet here also the
even hand of justice was but commending the chalice to the lips of those
who had made others drink it to the dregs. They only were likely to fall
under the Treason Act who for centuries had fed the rack and the stake
with sufferers for "opinion."

[Sidenote: Appointment of suffragan bishops.]

Having thus made provision for public safety, the parliament voted a
supply of money for the fortifications on the coast and for the expenses
of the Irish war; and after transferring to the crown the first-fruits
of church benefices, which had been previously paid to the See of Rome,
and passing at the same time a large and liberal measure for the
appointment of twenty-six suffragan bishops,[408] they separated, not to
meet again for more than a year.

[Sidenote: Cardinal Farnese is chosen pope.]

[Sidenote: He is chosen by French influence, in the hope he will pursue
a liberal and conciliating policy.]

Meanwhile, at Rome a change had taken place which for the moment seemed
to promise that the storm after all might pass away. The conclave had
elected as a successor to Clement a man who, of all the Italian
ecclesiastics, was the most likely to recompose the quarrels in the
church; and who, if the genius or the destiny of the papacy had not been
too strong for any individual will, would perhaps have succeeded in
restoring peace to Christendom. In the debates upon the divorce the
Cardinal Farnese had been steadily upon Henry's side. He had maintained
from the first the general justice of the king's demands. After the
final sentence was passed, he had urged, though vainly, the
reconsideration of that fatal step; and though slow and cautious,
although he was a person who, as Sir Gregory Cassalis described him,
"would accomplish little, but would make few mistakes,"[409] he had
allowed his opinion upon this, as on other matters connected with the
English quarrel, to be generally known. He was elected therefore by
French influence[410] as the person most likely to meet the difficulties
of Europe in a catholic and conciliating spirit. He had announced his
intention, immediately on Clement's death, of calling a general council
at the earliest moment, in the event of his being chosen to fill the
papal chair; and as he was the friend rather of Francis I. than of the
emperor, and as Francis was actively supporting Henry, and was
negotiating at the same moment with the Protestant princes in Germany,
it seemed as if a council summoned under such auspices would endeavour
to compose the general discords in a temper of wise liberality, and that
some terms of compromise would be discovered where by mutual concessions
Catholic and Protestant might meet upon a common ground.

The moment was propitious for such a hope; for the accession of a
moderate pope coincided with the reaction in Germany which followed the
scandals at Munster and the excesses of John of Leyden; and Francis
pictured to himself a coalition between France, England, and the
Lutherans, which, if the papacy was attached to their side, would be
strong enough to bear down opposition, and reconstitute the churches of
Europe upon the basis of liberality which he seemed to have secured for
the church of France. The flattering vision in the autumn of the
following year dazzled the German princes. Perhaps in the novelty of
hope it was encouraged even by the pope, before he had felt the strong
hand of fate which ruled his will.

[Sidenote: Anxiety and alarm of the emperor.]

[Sidenote: The mission of the Count of Nassau to Paris with proposals
for a league.]

[Sidenote: The emperor's offers are rejected by Francis.]

To Charles V. the danger of some such termination of the great question
at issue appeared most near and real. Charles, whose resentment at the
conduct of England united with a desire to assert his authority over his
subjects in Germany, beheld with the utmost alarm a scheme growing to
maturity which menaced alike his honour, his desire of revenge, his
supremacy in Europe, and perhaps his religious convictions. A liberal
coalition would be fatal to order, to policy, to truth; and on the
election of Cardinal Farnese, the Count de Nassau was sent on a secret
mission to Paris with overtures, the elaborate condescension of which
betrays the anxiety that must have dictated them. The emperor, in his
self-constituted capacity of the Princess Mary's guardian, offered her
hand with the English succession to the Duke of Angoulesme. From the
terms on which he was thought to stand with Anne Boleyn, it was thought
possible that Henry might consent;[411] he might not dare, as
d'Inteville before suggested, to oppose the united demands of France and
the Empire.[412] To Margaret de Valois the Count was to propose the
splendid temptation of a marriage with Philip.[413] If Francis would
surrender the English alliance, the emperor would make over to him the
passionately coveted Duchy of Milan,[414] to be annexed to France on the
death of the reigning Duke. In the meantime he would pay to the French
king, as "tribute for Milan," a hundred thousand crowns a year, as an
acknowledgment of the right of the house of Valois. Offers such as these
might well have tempted the light ambition of Francis. If sincere, they
were equivalent to a surrender of the prize for which the emperor's life
had been spent in contending, and perilous indeed it would have been for
England if this intrigue had been permitted to succeed. But whether it
was that Francis too deeply distrusted Charles, that he preferred the
more hazardous scheme of the German alliance, or that he supposed he
could gain his object more surely with the help of England, the Count de
Nassau left Paris with a decisive rejection of the emperor's advances;
and in the beginning of January, De Bryon, the High Admiral of France,
was sent to England, to inform Henry of what had passed, and to propose
for Elizabeth the marriage which Charles had desired for the Princess

[Sidenote: De Bryon sent to England.]

De Bryon's instructions were remarkable. To consolidate the alliance of
the two nations, he was to entreat Henry at length to surrender the
claim to the crown of France, which had been the cause of so many
centuries of war. In return for this concession, Francis would make over
to England, Gravelines, Newport, Dunkirk, a province of Flanders, and
"the title of the Duke of Lorrayne to the town of Antwerp, with
sufficient assistance for the recovery of the same." Henry was not to
press Francis to part from the papacy; and De Bryon seems to have
indicated a hope that the English king might retrace his own steps. The
weight of French influence, meanwhile, was to be pressed, to induce the
pope to revoke and denounce, voyd and frustrate the unjust and
slanderous sentence[415] given by his predecessor; and the terms of
this new league were to be completed by the betrothal of the Princess
Elizabeth to the Duke of Angoulesme.[416]

[Sidenote: Change in Henry's character.]

There had been a time when these proposals would have answered all which
Henry desired. In the early days of his reign he had indulged himself in
visions of empire, and of repeating the old glories of the Plantagenet
kings. But in the peace which was concluded after the defeat of Pavia,
he showed that he had resigned himself to a wiser policy,[417] and the
surrender of a barren designation would cost him little. In his quarrel
with the pope, also, he had professed an extreme reluctance to impair
the unity of the church; and the sacrifices which he had made, and the
years of persevering struggle which he had endured, had proved that in
those professions he had not been insincere. But Henry's character was
not what it had been when he won his title of Defender of the Faith. In
the experience of the last few years he had learnt to conceive some
broader sense of the meaning of the Reformation; and he had gathered
from Cromwell and Latimer a more noble conception of the Protestant
doctrines. He had entered upon an active course of legislation for the
putting away the injustices, the falsehoods, the oppressions of a
degenerate establishment; and in the strong sense that he had done
right, and nothing else but right, in these measures, he was not now
disposed to submit to a compromise, or to consent to undo anything which
he was satisfied had been justly done, in consideration of any supposed
benefit which he could receive from the pope. He was anxious to remain
in communion with the see of Rome. He was willing to acknowledge in some
innocuous form the Roman supremacy. But it could be only on his own
terms. The pope must come to him; he could not go to the pope. And the
papal precedency should only again be admitted in England on conditions
which should leave untouched the Act of Appeals, and should preserve the
sovereignty of the crown unimpaired.

[Sidenote: Henry's reply to the overtures of the French king.]

[Sidenote: The pope must make the first move towards a reconciliation.]

He replied, therefore, to the overtures of Francis, that he was ready to
enter into negotiations for the resignation or his title to the crown of
France, and for the proposed marriage.[418] Before any other step was
taken, however, he desired his good brother to insist that "the Bishop
of Rome" should revoke the sentence, and "declare his pretended marriage
with the Lady Catherine naught;" "which to do," Henry wrote (and this
portion of his reply is written by his own hand), "we think it very
facile for our good brother; since we do perceive by letters [from Rome]
both the opinions of the learned men there to be of that opinion that we
be of; and also a somewhat disposition to that purpose in the Bishop of
Rome's self, according to equity, reason, and the laws both positive and
divine." If there was to be a reconciliation with the Holy See, the
first advance must be made on the Bishop of Rome's side; and Cromwell,
in a simultaneous despatch, warned Francis not "to move or desire his
Grace to the violation of any laws recently passed, as a thing whereunto
he would in no wise condescend or agree."[419]

[Sidenote: Henry distrusts Francis.]

Henry, however, felt no confidence either in the sincerity of the pope,
or in the sincerity of the French king, as he haughtily showed. He did
not even trust De Bryon's account of the rejection of the overtures of
the emperor. "If it happeneth," he wrote, "that the said Bishop will
obstinately follow the steps of his predecessor, and be more inclined to
the maintenance of the actions and sentences of his see than to equity
and justice, then we trust that our good brother--perceiving the right
to stand on our side, and that not only the universities of his whole
realm and dominions hath so defined, but also the most part of the rest
of Christendom, and also the best learned men of the Bishop of Rome's
own council, now being called for that purpose--will fully and wholly,
both he and his whole realm, adhere and cleave to us and our doings in
this behalf; and we herein desire shortly to have answer, which we would
be right loth should be such as whereupon we might take any occasion of
suspicion; trusting, further, that our said good brother will both
promise unto us upon his word, and indeed perform, that in the meantime,
before the meeting of our deputies,[420] he nor directly nor indirectly
shall practise or set forth any mean or intelligence of marriage, or of
other practices with the emperour."[421]

[Sidenote: The pope makes indirect advances, which are received also
with coldness.]

[Sidenote: January.]

So cold an answer could have arisen only from deep distrust; it is
difficult to say whether the distrust was wholly deserved. Analogous
advances, made indirectly from the pope were met with the same reserve.
Sir Gregory Cassalis wrote to Cromwell, that Farnese, or Paul III., as
he was now called, had expressed the greatest desire to please the king.
He had sent for lawyers out of Tuscany, on whose judgment he had great
reliance, and these lawyers had given an opinion that the pope might _ex
officio_ annul the first marriage as Henry desired, and pronounce the
second valid.[422] This was well, but it did not go beyond words; and of
these there had been too many. The English government had fed upon "the
cameleon's dish," "eating the air promise crammed," till they were weary
of so weak a diet, and they desired something more substantial. If the
pope, replied Cromwell, be really well disposed, let him show his
disposition in some public manner, "of his own accord, with a desire
only for the truth, and without waiting till the King's Majesty entreat
him."[423] It would have been more courteous, and perhaps it would have
been more just, if the French overtures had been met in a warmer spirit;
for the policy of Francis required for the time a cordial understanding
with England; and his conduct seems to prove that he was sincerely
anxious to win the pope to complacency.[424] But Henry's experience
guided him wisely with the Roman Bishop; and if he had been entangled
into confidence in Farnese, he would have been entangled to his ruin.

[Sidenote: The language of the papacy had been inconsistent, but its
conduct had been uniform.]

The spring of 1535 was consumed in promises, negotiations, and a
repetition of the profitless story of the preceding years. Suddenly, in
the midst of the unreality, it became clear that one man at least was
serious. Henry, with an insurgent Ireland and a mutinous England upon
his hands, had no leisure for diplomatic finesse; he had learnt his
lesson with Clement, and was not to be again deceived. The language of
the Roman see had been inconsistent, but the actions of it had been
always uniform. From the first beginning of the dispute to the final
break and excommunication, in the teeth of his promises, his flatteries,
his acknowledgments, Clement had been the partisan of Catherine. When
the English agents were collecting the opinions of the Italian
universities, they were thwarted by his emissaries. He had intrigued
against Henry in Scotland; he had tampered with Henry's English and
Irish subjects; he had maintained a secret correspondence with Catherine
herself. And so well had his true feelings and the true position of the
question been understood by the papal party in England, that at the very
time when at Marseilles and elsewhere the pope himself was admitting the
justice of the king's demand, the religious orders who were most
unwavering in their allegiance to the papacy, were pressing their
opposition to the divorce into rebellion.

[Sidenote: Until the pope, therefore, shows some change in action, the
penal laws may not be arrested.]

When, therefore, the chair of St. Peter was filled by a new occupant,
and language of the same smooth kind began again to issue from it, the
English government could not for so light a cause consent to arrest
their measures, or suspend the action of laws which had been passed from
a conviction of their necessity. Whatever might become of French
marriages, or of the cession of a corner of the Netherlands and a few
towns upon the coast in exchange for a gaudy title, the English
Reformation must continue its way; the nation must be steered clear
among the reefs and shoals of treason. The late statutes had not been
passed without a cause; and when occasion came to enforce them, were not
to pass off, like the thunders of the Vatican, in impotent noise.

[Sidenote: The martyrdoms of Catholics and Protestants analogous to
deaths in battle.]

Here, therefore, we are to enter upon one of the grand scenes of
history; a solemn battle fought out to the death, yet fought without
ferocity, by the champions of rival principles. Heroic men had fallen,
and were still fast falling, for what was called heresy; and now those
who had inflicted death on others were called upon to bear the same
witness to their own sincerity. England became the theatre of a war
between two armies of martyrs, to be waged, not upon the open field, in
open action, but on the stake and on the scaffold, with the nobler
weapons of passive endurance. Each party were ready to give their blood;
each party were ready to shed the blood of their antagonists; and the
sword was to single out its victims in the rival ranks, not as in peace
among those whose crimes made them dangerous to society, but, as on the
field of battle, where the most conspicuous courage most challenges the
aim of the enemy. It was war, though under the form of peace; and if we
would understand the true spirit of the time, we must regard Catholics
and Protestants as gallant soldiers, whose deaths, when they fall, are
not painful, but glorious; and whose devotion we are equally able to
admire, even where we cannot equally approve their cause. Courage and
self-sacrifice are beautiful alike in an enemy and in a friend. And
while we exult in that chivalry with which the Smithfield martyrs bought
England's freedom with their blood, so we will not refuse our admiration
to those other gallant men whose high forms, in the sunset of the old
faith, stand transfigured on the horizon, tinged with the light of its
dying glory.

[Sidenote: The monks of the London Charterhouse.]

Secretary Bedyll, as we saw above, complained to Cromwell of the
obstinacy of certain friars and monks, who, he thought, would confer a
service on the country by dying quietly, lest honest men should incur
unmerited obloquy in putting them to death. Among these, the brethren of
the London Charterhouse were specially mentioned as recalcitrant, and
they were said at the same time to bear a high reputation for holiness.
In a narrative written by a member of this body, we are brought face to
face, at their time of trial, with one of the few religious
establishments in England which continued to deserve the name; and we
may see, in the scenes which are there described, the highest
representation of struggles which graduated variously according to
character and temper, and, without the tragical result, may have been
witnessed in very many of the monastic houses. The writer was a certain
Maurice Channey, probably an Irishman. He went through the same
sufferings with the rest of the brethren, and was one of the small
fraction who finally gave way under the trial. He was set at liberty,
and escaped abroad; and in penance for his weakness, he left on record
the touching story of his fall, and of the triumph of his bolder

[Sidenote: Story of Maurice Channey.]

[Sidenote: Unity of the monastic life.]

He commences with his own confession. He had fallen when others stood.
He was, as he says, an unworthy brother, a Saul among the prophets, a
Judas among the apostles, a child of Ephraim turning himself back in the
day of battle--for which his cowardice, while his brother monks were
saints in heaven, he was doing penance in sorrow, tossing on the waves
of the wide world. The early chapters contain a loving lingering picture
of his cloister life--to him the perfection of earthly happiness. It is
placed before us, in all its superstition, its devotion, and its
simplicity, the counterpart, even in minute details, of the stories of
the Saxon recluses when monasticism was in the young vigour of its life.
St. Bede or St. Cuthbert might have found himself in the house of the
London Carthusians, and he would have had few questions to ask, and no
duties to learn or to unlearn. The form of the buildings would have
seemed more elaborate; the notes of the organ would have added richer
solemnity to the services; but the salient features of the scene would
have been all familiar. He would have lived in a cell of the same shape,
he would have thought the same thoughts, spoken the same words in the
same language. The prayers, the daily life, almost the very faces with
which he was surrounded, would have seemed all unaltered. A thousand
years of the world's history had rolled by, and these lonely islands of
prayer had remained still anchored in the stream; the strands of the
ropes which held them, wearing now to a thread, and very near their last
parting, but still unbroken. What they had been they were; and, if
Maurice Channey's description had come down to us as the account of the
monastery in which Offa of Mercia did penance for his crimes, we could
have detected no internal symptoms of a later age.

[Sidenote: Channey's description of it.]

His pages are filled with the old familiar stories of visions and
miracles; of strange adventures befalling the chalices and holy
wafers;[425] of angels with wax candles; innocent phantoms which
flitted round brains and minds fevered by asceticism. There are accounts
of certain _fratres reprobi et eorum terribilis punitio_--frail brethren
and the frightful catastrophes which ensued to them.[426] Brother
Thomas, who told stories out of doors, _apud sæculares_, was attacked
one night by the devil; and the fiend would have strangled him but for
the prayers of a companion. Brother George, who craved after the
fleshpots of Egypt, was walking one day about the cloister when he ought
to have been at chapel, and the great figure upon the cross at the end
of the gallery turned its back upon him as it hung, and drove him all
but mad. Brother John Daly found fault with his dinner, and said that he
would as soon eat toads--_Mira res! Justus Deus non fraudavit eum
desiderio suo_--his cell was for three months filled with toads. If he
threw them into the fire, they hopped back to him unscorched; if he
killed them, others came to take their place.

[Sidenote: Character of Haughton, the prior.]

But these bad brothers were rare exceptions. In general the house was
perhaps the best ordered in England. The hospitality was well sustained,
the charities were profuse, and whatever we may think of the intellect
which could busy itself with fancies seemingly so childish, the monks
were true to their vows, and true to their duty as far as they
comprehended what duty meant. Among many good, the prior John Haughton
was the best. He was of an old English family, and had been educated at
Cambridge, where he must have been the contemporary of Latimer. At the
age of twenty-eight he took the vows as a monk, and had been twenty
years a Carthusian at the opening of the troubles of the Reformation.
He is described as "small in stature, in figure graceful, in countenance
dignified." "In manner he was most modest; in eloquence most sweet; in
chastity without stain." We may readily imagine his appearance; with
that feminine austerity of expression which, as has been well said,
belongs so peculiarly to the features of the mediæval ecclesiastics.

[Sidenote: The monks espouse the side of Queen Catherine.]

[Sidenote: They are required to take the oath of allegiance, and

[Sidenote: The prior is persuaded to submit, _sub conditione_.]

[Sidenote: The prior's dream.]

[Sidenote: The monks hesitate,]

[Sidenote: But at last yield.]

Such was the society of the monks of the Charterhouse, who, in an era
too late for their continuance, and guilty of being unable to read the
signs of the times, were summoned to wage unequal battle with the world.
From the commencement of the divorce cause they had espoused
instinctively the queen's side; they had probably, in common with their
affiliated house at Sion, believed unwisely in the Nun of Kent; and, as
pious Catholics, they regarded the reforming measures of the parliament
with dismay and consternation. The year 1533, says Maurice,[427] was
ushered in with signs in heaven and prodigies upon earth, as if the end
of the world was at hand; as indeed of the monks and the monks' world
the end was truly at hand. And then came the spring of 1534, when the
act was passed cutting off the Princess Mary from the succession, and
requiring of all subjects of the realm an oath of allegiance to
Elizabeth, and a recognition of the king's marriage with Queen Anne. Sir
Thomas More and Bishop Fisher went to the Tower, as we saw, rather than
swear; and about the same time the royal commissioners appeared at the
Charterhouse to require the submission of the brethren. The regular
clergy through the kingdom had bent to the storm. The conscience of the
London Carthusians was less elastic; they were the first and, with the
exception of More and Fisher, the only recusants. "The prior did answer
to the commissioners," Maurice tells us, "that he knew nothing of such
matters, and could not meddle with them; and they continuing to insist,
and the prior being still unable to give other answer, he was sent with
Father Humphrey, our proctor, to the Tower." There he remained for a
month; and at the end of it he was persuaded by "certain good and
learned men"[428] that the cause was not one for which it was lawful to
suffer. He undertook to comply, _sub conditione_, with some necessary
reservations, and was sent home to the cloister. As soon as he returned,
the brethren assembled in their chapter-house "in confusion and great
perplexity," and Haughton told them what he had promised. He would
submit, he said, and yet his misgivings foretold to him that a
submission so made could not long avail. "Our hour, dear brethren," he
continued, "is not yet come. In the same night in which we were set free
I had a dream that I should not escape thus. Within a year I shall be
brought again to that place, and then I shall finish my course." If
martyrdom was so near and so inevitable, the remainder of the monks were
at first reluctant to purchase a useless delay at the price of their
convictions. The commissioners came with the lord mayor for the oath,
and it was refused. They came again, with the threat of instant
imprisonment for the whole fraternity; "and then," says Maurice, "they
prevailed with us. We all swore as we were required, making one
condition, that we submitted only so far as it was lawful for us so to
do. Thus, like Jonah, we were delivered from the belly of this monster,
this immanis ceta, and began again to rejoice like him, under the shadow
of the gourd of our home. But it is better to trust in the Lord than in
princes, in whom is no salvation; God had prepared a worm that smote our
gourd and made it to perish."[429]

[Sidenote: The convent hears of the Treason Act.]

This worm, as may be supposed, was the act of supremacy, with the
statute of treasons which was attached to it. It was ruled, as I have
said, that inadequate answers to official inquiry formed sufficient
ground for prosecution under these acts. But this interpretation was not
generally known; nor among those who knew it was it certain whether the
crown would avail itself of the powers which it thus possessed, or
whether it would proceed only against such offenders as had voluntarily
committed themselves to opposition. In the opening of the following year
[1535] the first uncertainty was at an end; it was publicly understood
that persons who had previously given cause for suspicion might be
submitted to question. When this bitter news was no longer doubtful, the
prior called the convent together, and gave them notice to prepare for
what was coming. They lay already under the shadow of treason; and he
anticipated, among other evil consequences of disobedience, the
immediate dissolution of the house. Even he, with all his forebodings,
was unprepared for the course which would really be taken with them.
"When we were all in great consternation," writes our author, "he said
to us:--

[Sidenote: The prior's address.]

"'Very sorry am I, and my heart is heavy, especially for you, my
younger friends, of whom I see so many round me. Here you are living in
your innocence. The yoke will not be laid on your necks, nor the rod of
persecution. But if you are taken hence, and mingle among the Gentiles,
you may learn the works of them, and having begun in the spirit you may
be consumed in the flesh. And there may be others among us whose hearts
are still infirm. If these mix again with the world, I fear how it may
be with them; and what shall I say, and what shall I do, if I cannot
save those whom God has trusted to my charge?'

"Then all who were present," says Channey, "burst into tears, and cried
with one voice, 'Let us die together in our integrity, and heaven and
earth shall witness for us how unjustly we are cut off.'

[Sidenote: If it may be so, the prior will make himself anathema for his

"The prior answered, sadly,--'Would, indeed, that it might be so; that
so dying we might live, as living we die--but they will not do to us so
great a kindness, nor to themselves so great an injury. Many of you are
of noble blood; and what I think they will do is this: Me and the elder
brethren they will kill; and they will dismiss you that are young into a
world which is not for you. _If, therefore, it depend on me alone--if my
oath will suffice for the house--I will throw myself for your sakes on
the mercy of God. I will make myself anathema; and to preserve you from
these dangers, I will consent to the king's will._ If, however, they
have determined otherwise--if they choose to have the consent of us
all--the will of God be done. If one death will not avail, we will die

"So then, bidding us prepare for the worst, that the Lord when he
knocked might find us ready, he desired us to choose each our
confessor, and to confess our sins one to another, giving us power to
grant each other absolution.

[Sidenote: The brethren make their preparations.]

"The day after he preached a sermon in the chapel on the 59th Psalm,--'O
God, Thou hast cast us off, Thou hast destroyed us;'[430] concluding
with the words, 'It is better that we should suffer here a short penance
for our faults, than be reserved for the eternal pains of hell
hereafter;'--and so ending, he turned to us and bade us all do as we saw
him do. Then rising from his place he went direct to the eldest of the
brethren, who was sitting nearest to himself, and kneeling before him,
begged his forgiveness for any offence which in heart, word, or deed, he
might have committed against him. Thence he proceeded to the next, and
said the same; and so to the next, through us all, we following him and
saying as he did, each from each imploring pardon."

Thus, with unobtrusive nobleness, did these poor men prepare themselves
for their end; not less beautiful in their resolution, not less
deserving the everlasting remembrance of mankind, than those three
hundred who in the summer morning sate combing their golden hair in the
passes of Thermopylæ. We will not regret their cause; there is no cause
for which any man can more nobly suffer than to witness that it is
better for him to die than to speak words which he does not mean. Nor,
in this their hour of trial, were they left without higher comfort.

"The third day after," the story goes on, "was the mass of the Holy
Ghost, and God made known his presence among us. For when the host was
lifted up, there came as it were a whisper of air, which breathed upon
our faces as we knelt. Some perceived it with the bodily senses; all
felt it as it thrilled into their hearts. And then followed a sweet,
soft sound of music, at which our venerable father was so moved, God
being thus abundantly manifest among us, that he sank down in tears, and
for a long time could not continue the service--we all remaining
stupified, hearing the melody, and feeling the marvellous effects of it
upon our spirits, but knowing neither whence it came nor whither it
went. Only our hearts rejoiced as we perceived that God was with us

[Sidenote: The government are in no haste to enforce the statutes.]

Comforted and resolute, the brotherhood awaited patiently the approach
of the commissioners; and they waited long, for the crown was in no
haste to be severe. The statutes had been passed in no spirit of
cruelty; they were weapons to be used in case of extremity; and there
was no attempt to enforce them until forbearance was misconstrued into
fear. Sir Thomas More and the Bishop of Rochester remained unquestioned
in the Tower, and were allowed free intercourse with their friends. The
Carthusian monks were left undisturbed, although the attitude which they
had assumed was notorious, and although the prior was known to forbid
his penitents in confession to acknowledge the king's supremacy. If the
government was at length driven to severity, it was because the clergy
forced them to it in spite of themselves.

[Sidenote: Conduct of the clergy.]

The clergy had taken the oath, but they held themselves under no
obligation to observe it; or if they observed the orders of the crown in
the letter, they thwarted those orders in the spirit. The Treason Act
had for awhile overawed them; but finding that its threats were confined
to language, that months passed away, and that no person had as yet
been prosecuted, they fell back into open opposition, either careless of
the consequences, or believing that the government did not dare to exert
its powers. The details of their conduct during the spring months of
this year I am unable to discover; but it was such as at length, on the
17th of April, provoked the following circular to the lords-lieutenant
of the various counties:[431]--

[Sidenote: Circular of the 17th of April.]

[Sidenote: The clergy in divers places continue to pray for the pope.]

[Sidenote: The king commands that all persons so doing shall be

"Right trusty and well-beloved cousin, we greet you well; and whereas it
has come to our knowledge that sundry persons, as well religious as
secular priests and curates in their parishes and in divers places
within this our realm, do daily, as much as in them is, set forth and
extol the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome, otherwise called the Pope;
sowing their seditious, pestilent, and false doctrines; praying for him
in the pulpit and making him a god; to the great deceit of our subjects,
bringing them into errours and evil opinions; more preferring the power,
laws, and jurisdiction of the said Bishop of Rome than the most holy
laws and precepts of Almighty God: We therefore, minding not only to
proceed for an unity and quietness among our said subjects, but also
greatly coveting and desiring them to be brought to a knowledge of the
mere verity and truth, and no longer to be seduced with any such
superstitious and false doctrines of any earthly usurper of God's
laws--will, therefore, and command you, that whensoever ye shall hear of
any such seditious persons, ye indelayedly do take and apprehend them,
or cause them to be apprehended and taken, and so committed to ward,
there to remain without bail or mainprize, until, upon your
advertisement thereof to us and to our council, ye shall know our
further pleasure.


       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: The Carthusians are called upon to acknowledge the royal

[Sidenote: The reason for the conduct of the government.]

In obvious connexion with the issue of this publication, the monks of
the Charterhouse were at length informed that they would be questioned
on the supremacy. The great body of the religious houses had volunteered
an outward submission. The London Carthusians, with other affiliated
establishments, had remained passive, and had thus furnished an open
encouragement to disobedience. We are instinctively inclined to censure
an interference with persons who at worst were but dreamers of the
cloister; and whose innocence of outward offences we imagine might have
served them for a shield. Unhappily, behind the screenwork of these poor
saints a whole Irish insurrection was blazing in madness and fury; and
in the northern English counties were some sixty thousand persons ready
to rise in arms. In these great struggles men are formidable in
proportion to their virtues. The noblest Protestants were chosen by the
Catholics for the stake. The fagots were already growing which were to
burn Tyndal, the translator of the Bible. It was the habit of the time,
as it is the habit of all times of real danger, to spare the multitude
but to strike the leaders, to make responsibility the shadow of power,
to choose for punishment the most efficacious representatives of the
spirit which it was necessary to subdue.

The influence of the Carthusians, with that of the two great men who
were following the same road to the same goal, determined multitudes in
the attitude which they would assume, and in the duty which they would
choose. The Carthusians, therefore, were to be made to bend; or if they
could not be bent, to be made examples in their punishment, as they had
made themselves examples in their resistance. They were noble and good;
but there were others in England good and noble as they, who were not of
their fold; and whose virtues, thenceforward more required by England
than cloistered asceticisms, had been blighted under the shadow of the
papacy. The Catholics had chosen the alternative, either to crush the
free thought which was bursting from the soil, or else to be crushed by
it; and the future of the world could not be sacrificed to preserve the
exotic graces of mediæval saints. They fell, gloriously and not
unprofitably. They were not allowed to stay the course of the
Reformation; but their sufferings, nobly borne, sufficed to recover the
sympathy of after-ages for the faith which they professed. Ten righteous
men were found in the midst of the corruption to purchase for Romanism a
few more centuries of tolerated endurance.

[Sidenote: The prior with three others are sent to the Tower,]

[Sidenote: And brought to trial, April 28.]

To return to the narrative of Maurice Channey. Notice of the intention
of the government having been signified to the order, Father Webster and
Father Lawrence, the priors of the two daughter houses of Axholm and
Belville, came up to London three weeks after Easter, and, with
Haughton, presented themselves before Cromwell with an entreaty to be
excused the submission. For answer to their petition they were sent to
the Tower, where they were soon after joined by Father Reynolds, one of
the recalcitrant monks of Sion. These four were brought on the 26th of
April before a committee of the privy council, of which Cromwell was
one. The act of supremacy was laid before them, and they were required
to signify their acceptance of it. They refused, and two days after
they were brought to trial before a special commission. They pleaded all
"not guilty." They had of course broken the act; but they would not
acknowledge that guilt could be involved in disobedience to a law which
was itself unlawful. Their words in the Tower to the privy council
formed the matter of the charge against them. It appears from the record
that on their examination, "they, treacherously machinating and desiring
to deprive the king our sovereign lord of his title of supreme Head of
the Church of England, did openly declare and say, the king our
sovereign lord is not supreme Head on earth of the Church of

[Sidenote: Haughton's language at the bar.]

But their conduct on the trial, or at least the conduct of Haughton,
spared all difficulty in securing a conviction. The judges pressed the
prior "not to shew so little wisdom as to maintain his own opinion
against the consent of the realm." He replied, that he had resolved
originally to imitate the example of his Master before Herod, and say
nothing. "But since you urge me," he continued, "that I may satisfy my
own conscience and the consciences of these who are present, I will say
that our opinion, if it might go by the suffrages of men, would have
more witnesses than yours. You can produce on your side but the
parliament of a single kingdom; I, on mine, have the whole Christian
world except that kingdom. Nor have you all even of your own people. The
lesser part is with you. The majority, who seem to be with you, do but
dissemble, to gain favour with the king, or for fear they should lose
their honours and their dignities."

Cromwell asked him of whom he was speaking. "Of all the good men in the
realm," he replied; "and when his Majesty knows the truth, I know well
he will be beyond measure offended with those of his bishops who have
given him the counsel which he now follows."

"Why," said another of the judges, "have you, contrary to the king's
authority within the realm, persuaded so many persons as you have done
to disobey the king and parliament?"

[Sidenote: Thursday, April 29.]

[Sidenote: The prisoners are condemned.]

"I have declared my opinion," he answered, "to no man living but to
those who came to me in confession, which in discharge of my conscience
I could not refuse. But if I did not declare it then, I will declare it
now, because I am thereto obliged to God."[433] He neither looked for
mercy nor desired it. A writ was issued for the return of a petty jury
the following day. The prisoners were taken back to the Tower, and the
next morning were brought again to the bar. Feron and Hale, the two
priests whose conversation had been overheard at Sion, were placed on
their trial at the same time. The two latter threw themselves on the
mercy of the court. A verdict of guilty was returned against the other
four. The sentence was for the usual punishment of high treason. Feron
was pardoned; I do not find on what account. Hale and the Carthusians
were to suffer together. When Haughton heard the sentence, he merely
said, "This is the judgment of the world."[434]

[Sidenote: May 4. The execution.]

[Sidenote: They are brought to the scaffold in their habits.]

An interval of five days was allowed after the trial. On the 4th of May,
the execution took place at Tyburn, under circumstances which marked the
occasion with peculiar meaning. The punishment in cases of high treason
was very terrible. I need not dwell upon the form of it. The English
were a hard, fierce people; and with these poor sufferers the law of the
land took its course without alleviation or interference. But another
feature distinguished the present execution. For the first time in
English history, ecclesiastics were brought out to suffer in their
habits, without undergoing the previous ceremony of degradation.
Thenceforward the world were to know, that as no sanctuary any more
should protect traitors, so the sacred office should avail as little;
and the hardest blow which it had yet received was thus dealt to
superstition, shaking from its place in the minds of all men the
key-stone of the whole system.

[Sidenote: Haughton dies first.]

[Sidenote: The council urges the rest to submit, but in vain.]

To the last moment escape was left open, if the prisoners would submit.
Several members of the council attended them to the closing scene, for a
last effort of kindness; but they had chosen their course, and were not
to be moved from it. Haughton, as first in rank, had the privilege of
first dying. When on the scaffold, in compliance with the usual custom,
he spoke a few touching and simple words to the people. "I call to
witness Almighty God," he said, "and all good people, and I beseech you
all here present to bear witness for me in the day of judgment, that
being here to die, I declare that it is from no obstinate rebellious
spirit that I do not obey the king, but because I fear to offend the
Majesty of God. Our holy mother the church has decreed otherwise than
the king and the parliament have decreed, and therefore, rather than
disobey the church, I am ready to suffer. Pray for me, and have mercy on
my brethren, of whom I have been the unworthy prior." He then knelt
down, repeating the first few verses of the 31st Psalm,[435] and after a
few moments delivered himself to the executioner. The others followed,
undaunted. As one by one they went to their death, the council, at each
fresh horrible spectacle, urged the survivors to have pity on
themselves; but they urged them in vain. The faces of these men did not
grow pale; their voices did not shake; they declared themselves liege
subjects of the king, and obedient children of holy church; "giving God
thanks that they were held worthy to suffer for the truth."[436] All
died without a murmur. The stern work was ended with quartering the
bodies; and the arm of Haughton was hung up as a bloody sign over the
archway of the Charterhouse, to awe the remaining brothers into

[Sidenote: June 10. Three more Carthusians tried and executed.]

But the spirit of the old martyrs was in these friars. One of them, like
the Theban sister, bore away the honoured relic and buried it; and all
resolved to persist in their resigned opposition. Six weeks were allowed
them to consider. At the end of that time three more were taken, tried,
and hanged;[437] and this still proving ineffectual, Cromwell hesitated
to proceed.

[Sidenote: Cromwell hesitates.]

[Sidenote: Close of the story of the Carthusians.]

[Sidenote: They will not yield, and are crushed.]

The end of the story is very touching and may be told briefly, that I
may not have occasion to return to it. Maurice's account is probably
exaggerated, and is written in a tone of strong emotion; but it has all
the substantial features of truth. The remaining monks were left in the
house; and two secular priests were sent to take charge of the
establishment, who starved and ill-used them; and were themselves,
according to Maurice, sensual and profligate. From time to time they
were called before the privy council. Their friends and relatives were
ordered to work upon them. No effort either of severity or kindness was
spared to induce them to submit; as if their attitude, so long as it was
maintained, was felt as a reproach by the government. At last, four were
carried down to Westminster Abbey, to hear the Bishop of Durham deliver
his famous sermon against the pope; and when this rhetorical inanity had
also failed, and as they were thought to confirm one another in their
obstinacy, they were dispersed among other houses the temper of which
could be depended upon. Some were sent to the north; others to Sion,
where a new prior had been appointed, of zealous loyalty; others were
left at home to be disciplined by the questionable seculars. But nothing
answered. Two found their way into active rebellion, and being
concerned in the Pilgrimage of Grace, were hung in chains at York. Ten
were sent to Newgate, where nine died miserably of prison fever and
filth;[438] the tenth survivor was executed. The remainder, of whom
Maurice was one, went through a form of submission, with a mental
reservation, and escaped abroad.

[Sidenote: The necessity was a cruel one, but the government are not to
be blamed.]

[Sidenote: The king orders the court into mourning.]

So fell the monks of the London Charterhouse, splintered to pieces--for
so only could their resistance be overcome--by the iron sceptre and the
iron hand which held it. They were, however, alone of their kind. There
were many perhaps who wished to resemble them, who would have imitated
their example had they dared. But all bent except these. If it had been
otherwise, the Reformation would have been impossible, and perhaps it
would not have been needed. Their story claims from us that sympathy
which is the due of their exalted courage. But we cannot blame the
government. Those who know what the condition of the country really was,
must feel their inability to suggest, with any tolerable reasonableness,
what else could have been done. They may regret so hard a necessity, but
they will regret in silence. The king, too, was not without feeling. It
was no matter of indifference to him that he found himself driven to
such stern courses with his subjects; and as the golden splendour of
his manhood was thus sullenly clouding, "he commanded all about his
court to poll their heads," in public token of mourning; "and to give
them example, he caused his own head to be polled; and from thenceforth
his beard to be knotted, and to be no more shaven."[439]

[Sidenote: May 8. Other martyrs who were not Catholics.]

The friars of Charterhouse suffered for the Catholic faith, as
Protestants had suffered, and were still to suffer, for a faith fairer
than theirs. In this same month of May, in the same year, the English
annals contain another entry of no less sad significance. The bishops,
as each day they parted further from their old allegiance, and were
called in consequence by the hateful name of heretics, were increasingly
anxious to prove by evident tokens their zeal for the true faith; and
although the late act of heresy had moderated their powers, yet power
enough remained to enable them to work their will upon all extreme
offenders. Henry, also, it is likely, was not sorry of an opportunity of
showing that his justice was even-handed, and that a schism from the
papacy was not a lapse into heterodoxy. His mind was moving. Latimer and
Shaxton, who three years before had been on trial for their lives, were
soon to be upon the bench; and in the late injunctions, the Bible, and
not the decrees of the church, had been held up as the canon of truth.
But heresy, though the definition of it was changing, remained a crime;
and although the limits of permitted belief were imperceptibly
enlarging, to transgress the recognised boundaries was an offence
enormous as ever.

[Sidenote: Popular estimate of the Anabaptists.]

If we can conceive the temper with which the reasonable and practical
English at present regard the Socialists of the continent, deepened by
an intensity of conviction of which these later ages have had but little
experience, we can then imagine the light in which the Anabaptists of
the Netherlands appeared in the eyes or orthodox Europe. If some
opinions, once thought heretical, were regarded with less agitated
repugnance, the heresy of these enemies of mankind was patent to the
world. On them the laws of the country might take their natural course,
and no voice was raised to speak for them.

[Sidenote: May 25.]

[Sidenote: Fourteen of them are executed.]

[Sidenote: They too did not die in vain.]

We find, therefore, in Stow's _Chronicle_, the following: brief entry:
"The five and twentieth day of May were, in St. Paul's church, London,
examined nineteen men and six women, born in Holland, whose opinions
were--first, that in Christ is not two natures, God and man; secondly,
that Christ took neither flesh nor blood of the Virgin Mary; thirdly,
that children born of infidels may be saved; fourthly, that baptism of
children is of none effect; fifthly, that the sacrament of Christ's body
is but bread only; sixthly, that he who after baptism sinneth wittingly,
sinneth deadly, and cannot be saved. Fourteen of them were condemned: a
man and a woman were burnt at Smithfield. The remaining twelve were
scattered among other towns, there to be burnt."[440] The details are
gone,[441]--the names are gone. Poor Hollanders they were, and that is
all. Scarcely the fact seemed worth the mention, so shortly it is told
in a passing paragraph. For them no Europe was agitated, no courts were
ordered into mourning, no papal hearts trembled with indignation. At
their deaths the world looked on complacent, indifferent, or exulting.
Yet here, too, out of twenty-five common men and women were found
fourteen who, by no terror of stake or torture, could be tempted to say
that they believed what they did not believe. History for them has no
word of praise; yet they, too, were not giving their blood in vain.
Their lives might have been as useless as the lives of most of us. In
their deaths they assisted to pay the purchase-money for England's

[Sidenote: Fisher and More.]

[Sidenote: Fisher's dangerous imprudence.]

[Sidenote: Treatment and conduct of Fisher and of More in the Tower.]

[Sidenote: Cromwell's charges against them.]

After the execution of the Carthusians, it became a question what should
be done with the Bishop of Rochester and Sir Thomas More. They had
remained for a year in the Tower, undisturbed; and there is no reason to
think that they would have been further troubled, except for the fault
of one, if not of both. It appeared, however, on the trial of Father
Reynolds, that Fisher's imprudence or zeal had tempted him again to
meddle with dangerous matters. A correspondence had passed between the
bishop and the king,[442] on the Act of Supremacy, or on some subject
connected with it. The king had taken no public notice of Fisher's
words, but he had required a promise that the letter should not be
shown to any other person. The unwise old man gave his word, but he did
not observe it; he sent copies both of what he had himself written and
of the king's answer to the Sion monks,[443] furnishing them at the same
time with a copy of the book which he had written against the divorce,
and two other books, written by Abel, the queen's confessor, and the
Spanish ambassador. Whether he was discovered to have held any other
correspondence, or whether anything of an analogous kind was proved
against More, I am unable to discover. Both he and Fisher had been
treated with greater indulgence than was usual with prisoners.[444]
Their own attendants had waited on them; they were allowed to receive
visits from their relatives within the Tower walls, and to correspond
with their families and friends.[445] As a matter of course, under such
circumstances, they must have expressed their opinions on the great
subject of the day; and those opinions were made known throughout
England, and, indeed, throughout Europe. Whether they did more than
this, or whether they had only indirectly allowed their influence to be
used against the government, must be left to conjecture. But the
language of a document under the king's hand speaks of their having
given some cause of provocation, of no common kind; and this is
confirmed by Cromwell, who was once deeply attached to More. "When they
were in strait keeping," say the instructions to the Bishop of Hereford,
"having nevertheless the prison at their liberties, they ceased not both
to practise an insurrection within the realm, and also to use all the
devices to them possible in outward parts, as well to defame and slander
his Majesty, and his most virtuous doings and proceedings, as also to
procure the impeachment and other destruction of his most royal
person."[446] Cromwell speaks also of their having been engaged in
definite schemes, the object of which was rebellion;[447] and although
we have here the _ex parte_ statement of the government, and although
such a charge would have been held to be justified by a proof that they
had spoken generally against the Act of Supremacy, it may be allowed to
prove that so far they were really guilty; and it is equally certain
that for these two men to have spoken against the act was to have lent
encouragement to the party of insurrection, the most powerful which that
party could have received.

Thus, by another necessity, Fisher and More, at the beginning of May,
were called upon for their submission. It was a hard case, for the
bishop was sinking into the grave with age and sickness, and More had
the highest reputation of any living man. But they had chosen to make
themselves conspicuous as confessors for Catholic truth; though
prisoners in the Tower, they were in fact the most effectual champions
of the papal claims; and if their disobedience had been passed over, the
statute could have been enforced against no one.

[Sidenote: May 7. A deputation of the council waits upon them in the
Tower. They refuse to admit the supremacy.]

The same course was followed as with the Carthusian monks. On the 7th of
May a deputation of the council waited on the prisoners in the Tower,
for an acknowledgment of the supremacy. They refused: Fisher, after a
brief hesitation, peremptorily; More declining to answer, but also
giving an indirect denial. After repeated efforts had been made to move
them, and made in vain, their own language, as in the preceding trials,
furnished material for their indictment; and the law officers of the
crown who were to conduct the prosecution were the witnesses under whose
evidence they were to be tried. It was a strange proceeding, to be
excused only, if excused at all, by the pressure of the times.[448]

[Sidenote: The government delay their trial.]

Either the king or his ministers, however, were slow in making up their
minds. With the Carthusians, nine days only were allowed to elapse
between the first examination and the final close at Tyburn. The case
against More and Fisher was no less clear than against the monks; yet
five weeks elapsed and the government still hesitated. Perhaps they were
influenced by the high position of the greater offenders,--perhaps there
was some fear of the world's opinion, which, though it might be
indifferent to the sacrifice of a few obscure ecclesiastics, yet would
surely not pass over lightly the execution of men who stood out with so
marked preëminence. The council board was unevenly composed. Cromwell,
who divides with the king the responsibility of these prosecutions, had
succeeded, not to the authority only of Wolsey, but to the hatred with
which the ignoble plebeian was regarded by the patricians who were
compelled to stoop before him. Lord Exeter was already looking with a
cold eye on the revolution; and Norfolk and Suffolk, though zealous as
the king himself for the independence of England, yet had all the
instincts of aristocratic conservatism. Even Cromwell may have desired
the triumph of winning over converts so distinguished, or may have
shrunk from the odium which their deaths would bring upon him. Whatever
was the cause of the delay, the privy council, who had been contented
with a single examination of Haughton and his companions, struggled with
their present difficulty week after week; and it is possible that,
except from an extraneous impulse, some mode of escape might have been
discovered. But as the sentence of Clement sealed the fate of the Nun of
Kent, so the unwisdom of his successor bore similarly fatal fruits.

[Sidenote: The pope names Fisher a cardinal.]

Paul III. had throughout the spring flattered Henry with expressions of
sympathy, and had held out hopes of an approaching change of policy. He
chose the present unfortunate juncture to expose the vanity of these
professions; and as an intimation of the course which he intended to
follow, he named the Bishop of Rochester, the one bishop who remained
attached to Catherine's cause, a cardinal. Henry had appealed to a
council, which the pope had promised to call; and Fisher, of all
Englishmen, was chosen as the person whom the pope desired to represent
the nation on its assembly. Even the very conclave at Rome were taken by
surprise, and expressed themselves in no measured terms at the impolicy
of this most foolish action. Cassalis, aware of the effect which the
news would produce in England, hurried to such friends as he possessed
in the conclave to protest against the appointment. The king, he said,
would inevitably regard it as injurious to the realm and insulting to
himself;[449] and it was madness at such a moment to trifle with Henry's

[Sidenote: Cassalis protests, and the pope condescends to falsehood.]

The Pope, alarmed at the expressions which he was told that Cassalis had
used, sent in haste to urge him, if possible, to allay the storm. He
was not ashamed to stoop to falsehood--but falsehood too awkward to
deceive even the most willing credulity. He had thought, he said, of
nothing but to please Henry. He had been urged by the King of France to
seek a reconciliation with England, and in sending a hat to an English
bishop he had meant nothing but a compliment. The general council would
be held immediately; and it was desirable, according to the constitution
of the church, that a cardinal of every nation should be present. He had
no especial reason for choosing the Bishop of Rochester, except that he
had a high reputation for learning, and he imagined, therefore, that the
king would be gratified.[450] "He implored me," Cassalis wrote, "to make
his excuses to his Majesty, and to assure him how deeply he regretted
his mistake, especially when I assured him that the step was of a kind
which admitted of no excuse."[451]

[Sidenote: The appointment seals Fisher's fate.]

[Sidenote: June 17. He is tried at Westminster,]

[Sidenote: And is condemned.]

Cassalis himself was afterwards disposed to believe that the appointment
was made in thoughtlessness, and that the pope at the moment had really
forgotten Fisher's position.[452] But this could gain no credit in
England. The news reached the government in the middle of June, and
determined the fate of the unfortunate bishop; and with it the fate,
also, of his nobler companion. To the king, the pope's conduct appeared
a defiance; and as a defiance he accepted it. In vain Fisher declared
that he had not sought his ill-timed honours, and would not accept
them. Neither his ignorance nor his refusal could avail him. Once more
he was called upon to submit, with the intimation, that if he refused he
must bear the consequences. His reply remained what it had been; and on
the 17th of June he was taken[453] down in a boat to Westminster Hall,
where the special commission was sitting. The proceedings at his trial
are thus briefly summed up in the official record:--"Thursday after the
feast of St. Barnabas, John Fisher was brought to the bar by Sir William
Kingston, Constable of the Tower. Pleads not guilty. Venire awarded.
Verdict--guilty. Judgment as usual in cases of treason."[454]

It was a swift sentence, and swiftly to be executed. Five days were
allowed him to prepare himself; and the more austere features of the
penalty were remitted with some show of pity. He was to die by the axe.

[Sidenote: June 22. He is beheaded on Tower Hill.]

Mercy was not to be hoped for. It does not seem to have been sought. He
was past eighty. The earth on the edge of the grave was already
crumbling under his feet; and death had little to make it fearful. When
the last morning dawned, he dressed himself carefully--as he said, for
his marriage-day. The distance to Tower Hill was short. He was able to
walk; and he tottered out of the prison-gates, holding in his hand a
closed volume of the New Testament. The crowd flocked about him, and he
was heard to pray that, as this book had been his best comfort and
companion, so in that hour it might give him some special strength, and
speak to him as from his Lord. Then opening it at a venture, he read:
"This is life eternal, to know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus
Christ, whom Thou hast sent." It was the answer to his prayer; and he
continued to repeat the words as he was led forward. On the scaffold he
chanted the _Te Deum_, and then, after a few prayers, knelt down, and
meekly laid his head upon a pillow where neither care nor fear nor
sickness would ever vex it more. Many a spectacle of sorrow had been
witnessed on that tragic spot, but never one more sad than this; never
one more painful to think or speak of. When a nation is in the throes of
revolution, wild spirits are abroad in the storm; and poor human nature
presses blindly forward with the burden which is laid upon it, tossing
aside the obstacles in its path with a recklessness which, in calmer
hours, it would fear to contemplate.

Sir Thomas More followed, his fortunes linked in death as in life to
those of his friend. He was left to the last--in the hope, perhaps, that
the example might produce an effect which persuasion could not. But the
example, if that was the object, worked to far other purpose. From
More's high-tempered nature, such terrors fell harmless, as from
enchanted armour. Death to him was but a passing from one country to
another; and he had all along anticipated that his prison was the
antechamber of the scaffold. He had, indeed, taken no pains to avoid it.
The king, according to the unsuspicious evidence of his daughter,
Margaret Roper, had not accused him without cause of exciting a spirit
of resistance. He had spent his time in encouraging Catholics to
persevere to martyrdom for their faith. In his many conversations with
herself, he had expressed himself with all freedom, and to others he
had doubtless spoken as plainly as to her.[455]

[Sidenote: June 26. A true bill found against Sir Thomas More.]

[Sidenote: July 1. He is brought to the bar.]

[Sidenote: Substance of the indictment.]

On the 7th of May he was examined by the same persons who examined Fisher;
and he was interrogated again and again in subsequent interviews. His
humour did not allow him to answer questions directly: he played with his
catechists, and did not readily furnish them with materials for a charge.
He had corresponded with Fisher in prison, on the conduct which he meant to
pursue. Some of these letters had been burnt; but others were in the hands
of the government, and would have been sufficient to sustain the
prosecution, but they preferred his own words from his own lips. At length
sufficient evidence was obtained. On the 26th of June, a true bill was
found against him by the Grand Jury of Middlesex; and on the 1st of July
the High Commission sat again in Westminster Hall, to try the most
illustrious prisoner who ever listened to his sentence there.[456] He
walked from the Tower--feebly, however, and with a stick, for he was weak
from long confinement. On appearing at the bar, a chair was brought for
him, and he was allowed to sit. The indictment was then read by the
attorney-general. It set forth that Sir Thomas More, traitorously imagining
and attempting to deprive the king of his title as supreme Head of the
Church, did, on the 7th of May, when examined before Thomas Cromwell, the
king's principal secretary, and divers other persons, whether he would
accept the king as Head on earth of the Church of England, pursuant to the
statute, refuse to give a direct answer, but replied, "I will not meddle
with any such matters, for I am fully determined to serve God and to think
upon His passion, and my passage out of this world."[457] He was then
charged with having written to Fisher that "The act of parliament was like
a sword with two edges; for if a man answered one way it would confound his
soul, and if the other way it would confound his body."[458] Finally and
chiefly, he had spoken treasonable words in the Tower to Rich, the
solicitor-general. Rich had endeavoured to persuade him, as Cranmer had
endeavoured in his previous difficulty at Lambeth, that it was his duty as
a subject to obey the law of the land. "Supposing it was enacted by act of
parliament," the solicitor-general had said, "that I, Richard Rich, should
be king, and that it should be treason to deny it, what would be the
offence if you, Sir Thomas More, were to say that I was king?" More had
answered that, in his conscience, he would be bound by the act of
parliament, and would be obliged to accept Rich as king. He would put
another case, however. "Suppose it should be enacted by parliament, _quod
Deus non esset Deus_, and that opposing the act should be treason, if it
were asked of him, Richard Rich, whether he would say _Quod Deus non erat
Deus_, according to this statute, and if he were to say No, would he not
offend?" Rich had replied, "Certainly, because it is impossible, _quod Deus
non esset Deus_; but why, Master More, can you not accept the king as chief
Head of the Church of England, just as you would that I should be made
king, in which case you agree that you would be obliged to acknowledge me
as king?" "To which More, persevering in his treasons, had answered to
Rich, that the cases were not similar, because the king could be made by
parliament and deprived by parliament;[459] but in the first case the
subject could not be obliged, because his consent could not be given for
that in parliament."

[Sidenote: The chancellor urges him to submit.]

This was the substance of the indictment. As soon as it was read, the
lord chancellor rose, and told the prisoner that he saw how grievously
he had offended the king; it was not too late to ask for mercy, however,
which his Majesty desired to show.

[Sidenote: He trusts, however, to remain in his opinion till death.]

[Sidenote: The jury find a verdict of guilty.]

"My lord," More replied, "I have great cause to thank your honour for
your courtesy, but I beseech Almighty God that I may continue in the
mind that I am in through His grace unto death." To the charges against
him he pleaded "not guilty," and answered them at length. He could not
say indeed that the facts were not true; for although he denied that he
had "practised" against the supremacy, he could not say that he had
consented to it, or that he ever would consent; but like the Prior of
the Charterhouse, he could not admit himself guilty when he had only
obeyed his conscience. The jury retired to consider, and in a quarter of
an hour returned with their verdict. The chancellor, after receiving it,
put the usual question, what the prisoner could say in arrest of
judgment. More replied, but replied with a plea which it was impossible
to recognise, by denouncing the statute under which he was tried, and
insisting on the obligation of obedience to the see of Rome. Thus the
sentence was inevitable. It was pronounced in the ordinary form; but the
usual punishment for treason was commuted, as it had been with Fisher,
to death upon the scaffold; and this last favour was communicated as a
special instance of the royal clemency. More's wit was always ready.
"God forbid," he answered, "that the king should show any more such
mercy unto any of my friends; and God bless all my posterity from such

The pageant was over, for such a trial was little more. As the
procession formed to lead back the "condemned traitor" to the Tower, the
commissioners once more adjured him to have pity on himself, and offered
to reopen the court if he would reconsider his resolution. More smiled,
and replied only a few words of graceful farewell.

[Sidenote: His last words to the commission.]

"My lords," he said, "I have but to say that, like as the blessed
Apostle St. Paul was present at the death of the martyr Stephen, keeping
their clothes that stoned him, and yet they be now both saints in
heaven, and there shall continue friends for ever, so I trust, and shall
therefore pray, that though your lordships have been on earth my
judges, yet we may hereafter meet in heaven together to our everlasting
salvation; and God preserve you all, especially my sovereign lord the
king, and grant him faithful councillors."

[Sidenote: He returns to the Tower.]

[Sidenote: Margaret Roper.]

He then left the hall, and to spare him the exertion of the walk he was
allowed to return by water. At the Tower stairs one of those scenes
occurred which have cast so rich a pathos round the closing story of
this illustrious man. "When Sir Thomas," writes the grandson, "was now
come to the Tower wharf, his best beloved child, my aunt Roper, desirous
to see her father, whom she feared she should never see in this world
after, to have his last blessing, gave there attendance to meet him;
whom as soon as she had espied she ran hastily unto him, and without
consideration or care for herself, passing through the midst of the
throng and guard of men, who with bills and halberts compassed him
round, there openly in the sight of them all embraced him, and took him
about the neck and kissed him, not able to say any word but 'Oh, my
father! oh, my father!' He, liking well her most natural and dear
affection towards him, gave her his fatherly blessing; telling her that
whatsoever he should suffer, though he were innocent, yet it was not
without the will of God; and that He knew well enough all the secrets of
her heart, counselling her to accommodate her will to God's blessed
pleasure, and to be patient for his loss.

"She was no sooner parted from him, and had gone scarce ten steps, when
she, not satisfied with the former farewell, like one who had forgot
herself, ravished with the entire love of so worthy a father, having
neither respect to herself nor to the press of people about him,
suddenly turned back, and ran hastily to him, and took him about the
neck and divers times together kissed him; whereat he spoke not a word,
but carrying still his gravity, tears fell also from his eyes; yea,
there were very few in all the troop who could refrain hereat from
weeping, no, not the guard themselves. Yet at last with a full heart she
was severed from him, at which time another of our women embraced him;
and my aunt's maid Dorothy Collis did the like, of whom he said after,
it was homely but very lovingly done. All these and also my grandfather
witnessed that they smelt a most odoriferous smell to come from him,
according to that of Isaac, 'The scent of my son is as the scent of a
field which the Lord has blessed.'"[461]

[Sidenote: The last days in the Tower.]

More's relation with this daughter forms the most beautiful feature in
his history. His letters to her in early life are of unequalled grace,
and she was perhaps the only person whom he very deeply loved. He never
saw her again. The four days which remained to him he spent in prayer
and in severe bodily discipline. On the night of the 5th of July,
although he did not know the time which had been fixed for his
execution, yet with an instinctive feeling that it was near, he sent her
his hair shirt and whip, as having no more need for them, with a parting
blessing of affection.

He then lay down and slept quietly. At daybreak he was awoke by the
entrance of Sir Thomas Pope, who had come to confirm his anticipations,
and to tell him it was the king's pleasure that he should suffer at nine
o'clock that morning. He received the news with utter composure. "I am
much bounden to the king," he said, "for the benefits and honours he
has bestowed upon me; and so help me God, most of all am I bounden to
him that it pleaseth his Majesty to rid me so shortly out of the
miseries of this present world."

Pope told him the king desired that he would not "use many words on the
scaffold." "Mr. Pope," he answered, "you do well to give me warning, for
otherwise I had purposed somewhat to have spoken; but no matter
wherewith his Grace should have cause to be offended. Howbeit, whatever
I intended, I shall obey his Highness's command."

He afterwards discussed the arrangements for his funeral, at which he
begged that his family might be present; and when all was settled, Pope
rose to leave him. He was an old friend. He took More's hand and wrung
it, and quite overcome, burst into tears.

"Quiet yourself, Mr. Pope," More said, "and be not discomforted, for I
trust we shall once see each other full merrily, when we shall live and
love together in eternal bliss."[462]

As soon as he was alone he dressed in his most elaborate costume. It was
for the benefit, he said, of the executioner who was to do him so great
a service. Sir William Kingston remonstrated, and with some difficulty
induced him to put on a plainer suit; but that his intended liberality
should not fail, he sent the man a gold angel in compensation, "as a
token that he maliced him nothing, but rather loved him extremely."

[Sidenote: He leaves the Tower.]

"So about nine of the clock he was brought by the Lieutenant out of the
Tower, his beard being long, which fashion he had never before used, his
face pale and lean, carrying in his hands a red cross, casting his eyes
often towards heaven." He had been unpopular as a judge, and one or two
persons in the crowd were insolent to him; but the distance was short
and soon over, as all else was nearly over now.

[Sidenote: On the scaffold.]

[Sidenote: Death.]

The scaffold had been awkwardly erected, and shook as he placed his foot
upon the ladder. "See me safe up," he said to Kingston. "For my coming
down I can shift for myself." He began to speak to the people, but the
sheriff begged him not to proceed, and he contented himself with asking
for their prayers, and desiring them to bear witness for him that he
died in the faith of the holy Catholic church, and a faithful servant of
God and the king. He then repeated the Miserere psalm on his knees; and
when he had ended and had risen, the executioner, with an emotion which
promised ill for the manner in which his part in the tragedy would be
accomplished, begged his forgiveness. More kissed him. "Thou art to do
me the greatest benefit that I can receive," he said. "Pluck up thy
spirit, man, and be not afraid to do thine office. My neck is very
short. Take heed therefore that thou strike not awry for saving of thine
honesty." The executioner offered to tie his eyes. "I will cover them
myself," he said; and binding them in a cloth which he had brought with
him, he knelt and laid his head upon the block. The fatal stroke was
about to fall, when he signed for a moment's delay while he moved aside
his beard. "Pity that should be cut," he murmured, "that has not
committed treason." With which strange words, the strangest perhaps
ever uttered at such a time, the lips most famous through Europe for
eloquence and wisdom closed for ever.

"So," concludes his biographer, "with alacrity and spiritual joy he
received the fatal axe, which no sooner had severed the head from the
body, but his soul was carried by angels into everlasting glory, where a
crown of martyrdom was placed upon him which can never fade nor decay;
and then he found those words true which he had often spoken, that a man
may lose his head and have no harm."[463]

This was the execution of Sir Thomas More, an act which was sounded out
into the far corners of the earth, and was the world's wonder as well
for the circumstances under which it was perpetrated, as for the
preternatural composure with which it was borne. Something of his
calmness may have been due to his natural temperament, something to an
unaffected weariness of a world which in his eyes was plunging into the
ruin of the latter days. But those fair hues of sunny cheerfulness
caught their colour from the simplicity of his faith; and never was
there a Christian's victory over death more grandly evidenced than in
that last scene lighted with its lambent humour.

History will rather dwell upon the incidents of the execution than
attempt a sentence upon those who willed that it should be. It was at
once most piteous and most inevitable. The hour of retribution had come
at length, when at the hands of the Roman church was to be required all
the righteous blood which it had shed, from the blood of Raymond of
Toulouse to the blood of the last victim who had blackened into ashes
at Smithfield. The voices crying underneath the altar had been heard
upon the throne of the Most High, and woe to the generation of which the
dark account had been demanded.

[Sidenote: The effect of these executions in Europe.]

In whatever light, however, we may now think of these things, the effect
in Europe was instantaneous and electrical. The irritation which had
accompanied the excommunication by Clement had died away in the
difficulty of executing the censures. The papal party had endeavoured to
persuade themselves that the king was acting under a passing caprice.
They had believed that the body of the people remained essentially
Catholic; and they had trusted to time, to discontent, to mutiny, to the
consequences of what they chose to regard as the mere indulgence of
criminal passion, to bring Henry to his senses. To threats and
anathemas, therefore, had again succeeded fair words and promises, and
intrigues and flatteries; and the pope and his advisers, so long
accustomed themselves to promise and to mean nothing, to fulminate
censures in form, and to treat human life as a foolish farce upon the
stage, had dreamed that others were like themselves. In the rough
awakening out of their delusion, as with a stroke of lightning, popes,
cardinals, kings, emperors, ambassadors, were startled into seriousness;
and, the diplomatic meshwork all rent and broken, they fell at once each
into their places, with a sense suddenly forced upon them that it was no
child's play any longer. The King of England was in earnest, it seemed.
The assumption of the supremacy was a fixed purpose, which he was
prepared to make a question of life and death; and with this resolution
they must thenceforward make their account.

[Sidenote: The news arrives at Rome of the deaths of the Carthusians.]

On the 1st of June, Cassalis wrote[464] from Rome that the French
ambassador had received a letter concerning certain friars who had been
put to death in England for denying the king to be Head of the Church.
The letter had been read in the consistory, and was reported to be
written in a tone of the deepest commiseration. There had been much
conversation about it, the French bishops having been louder than any in
their denunciations; and the form of the execution was described as
having been most barbarous. Some of the cardinals had said that they
envied the monks their deaths in such a cause, and wished that they had
been with them. "I desired my informant," Cassalis said, "to suggest to
these cardinals, that, if they were so anxious on the subject, they had
better pay a visit to England." And he concluded, in cipher, "I cannot
tell very well what to think of the French. An Italian told me he had
heard the Most Christian king himself say, that although he was obliged
to press upon the pope the requests of the king of England, yet that
these requests were preposterous, and could not be granted."

[Sidenote: And of Fisher, which the pope will make of more account than
the martyrdom of Becket.]

The deaths of a few poor monks would soon have been forgiven; the
execution of Fisher first really revealed the truth. No sooner was the
terrible reply of Henry to his promotion to the cardinalate made known
than the conclave was instantly summoned. Cardinal Tournon described the
scene upon the scaffold in language which moved all his audience to
tears.[465] The pope, in a paroxysm of anger, declared that if he had
seen his own nephews murdered in his presence, it would not have so
much affected him; and Cassalis said he heard, from good authority, that
they would do their worst, and intended to make the Bishop of
Rochester's death of more account than that of the martyr St.

[Sidenote: All Europe unites in amazed displeasure.]

[Sidenote: Francis remonstrates, and recommends that in future political
offenders should be banished.]

Nor was the anger or the surprise confined to Rome. Through England,
through France, through Flanders, even among the Protestants of Germany,
there rose a simultaneous outcry of astonishment. Rumour flew to and fro
with a thousand falsehoods; and the unfortunate leaven of the Anne
Boleyn marriage told fatally to destroy that appearance of probity of
motive so indispensable to the defence of the government. Even Francis
I. forgot his caution, and dared to remonstrate. He wrote to entreat his
good brother in future to content himself for the future with banishing
such offenders, and sparing the extremity of his penalties.

Unfortunately, the question which was at issue was European as well as
English; and every exile who was driven from England would have become,
like Reginald Pole, a missionary of a holy war against the infidel king.
Whatever else might have been possible, banishment was more perilous
than pardon.

[Sidenote: Henry condescends to explanation.]

[Sidenote: His message to Francis.]

[Sidenote: He had made his laws on good and substantial grounds,]

But the indignation was so general and so serious, that Henry thought it
well to offer an explanation of his conduct, both at home and abroad.
With his own people he communicated through the lay authorities, not
choosing to trust himself on this occasion to the clergy. The
magistrates at the quarter sessions were directed "to declare to the
people the treasons committed by the late Bishop of Rochester and Sir
Thomas More; who thereby, and by divers secret practices, of their
malicious minds intended to seminate, engender, and breed a most
mischievous and seditious opinion, not only to their own confusion, but
also of divers others, who have lately suffered execution according to
their demerits."[467] To Francis, Cromwell instructed Gardiner, who was
ambassador in Paris, to reply very haughtily. The English government, he
said had acted on clear proof of treason; treason so manifest, and
tending so clearly to the total destruction of the commonwealth of the
realm, that the condemned persons "were well worthy, if they had a
thousand lives, to have suffered ten times a more terrible death and
execution than any of them did suffer." The laws which the king had made
were "not without substantial grounds;" but had been passed "by great
and mature advice, counsel, and deliberation of the whole policy of the
realm, and" were "indeed no new laws, but of great antiquity, now
renovate and renewed in respect to the common weal of the same realm."

[Sidenote: And is much surprised that he should be advised to banish his
traitors, giving them increased opportunity to injure him.]

With respect to the letter of the King of France, Gardiner was to say,
it was "not a little to his Highness's marvel that the French king would
ever counsel or advise him, if in case hereafter any such like offenders
should happen to be in the realm, that he should rather banish them,
than in such wise execute them, ... supposing it to be neither the
office of a friend nor a brother, that he would counsel the King's
Highness to banish his traitors into strange parts, where they might
have good occasion, time, place, and opportunity to work their feats of
treason and conspiracy the better against the king and this his realm.
In which part," concluded Cromwell, "ye shall somewhat engrieve the
matter, after such sort that it may well appear to the French king that
the King's Highness may take those his counsels both strangely and

[Sidenote: His elaborate despatch to Cassalis intended for the pope.]

With the German princes Henry was scarcely less imperious;[469] and it
is noteworthy that the most elaborate defence which he condescended to
make is that which was sent to Sir Gregory Cassalis, to be laid before
the pope. He chose that the Roman court should understand distinctly the
grounds on which he had acted; and this despatch (which was written by
Cromwell) shows more clearly than any other state paper which remains
to us, the light in which the reforming party desired their conduct to
be regarded.

It was written in reply to the letter in which Cassalis reported the
irritation of the Roman court, and enters into the whole ground of
complaint against More and Fisher.

[Sidenote: He cannot sufficiently marvel at the pope's displeasure.]

"I have signified," wrote Cromwell, "to the King's Highness the purport
of your late letters, and as they contained many things which were very
welcome to his Majesty, so he could not sufficiently marvel that the
pope should have conceived so great offence at the deaths of the Bishop
of Rochester and Sir Thomas More. And albeit his Majesty is not bound to
render account of his actions except to God, whom in thought and deed he
is ever desirous to obey; nevertheless that his royal name may not be
evil spoken of by malicious tongues, from want of knowledge of the
truth, I will tell you briefly what has been done in this matter.

[Sidenote: Fisher and More had obstructed the reforms which had been
introduced into the realm.]

"After that his Majesty, with the favour and assistance of Almighty God,
had brought his cause to an end, by the consent and authority of
unprejudiced persons of the most approved learning in Christendom,--and
after he had confirmed it by the very rule of truth, these men, who had
looked to see a far different conclusion, finding now no hopes of
disturbing the settlement thus made, began to meditate other purposes.
And when our good king, according to his princely duty, was devising
measures for the quiet and good order of the realm, and for the
correction of manners now largely fallen to decay, this, so great a
benefit to the commonweal, they did, so far as in them lay, endeavour,
though without effect, under pretence of dissembled honesty, to obstruct
and oppose. Manifest proofs of their wicked designs were in the hands of
the King's Grace; but his Majesty consented rather to pass over their
offence without notice, hoping to recall them to a better mind, as
having before been in some good estimation with him.

[Sidenote: They had thwarted the measures in progress through

"But they in whom ambition, love of self, and a peculiar conceit of
wisdom had bred another persuasion, obstinately abused this kindness of
their most noble prince. And when on a certain day there was order
issued for the assembly of the great council of the realm, they made
secret inquiry to learn the measures which would there be treated of.
Whatsoever they discovered or conjectured, forthwith they debated in
private council among themselves, arriving upon each point at
conclusions other than those which the interests of the realm did
require; and they fortified those conclusions with such array of
arguments and reasons, that with no great labour the ignorant people
might have been dangerously deceived.

[Sidenote: And had organized seditious opposition in the country.]

[Sidenote: They had in consequence been committed to the Tower, where
they were treated with the utmost kindness.]

[Sidenote: Kindness had, however, produced no effect; they had continued
to obstruct the government; and had therefore been tried and condemned
by the ordinary laws of the realm.]

"At length knowing that they had incurred the king's displeasure, and
fearing lest they might fail of accomplishing their purposes, they chose
out persons on whose courage, readiness, and devotion to themselves they
could depend; and taking these men into their councils, they fed them
with the poison which they had conceived, forgetting their allegiance to
their king, and their duty to their country.[470] Thus were their
seditious opinions scattered over the country. And when his Highness
began to trace this impious conspiracy to its source, Sir Thomas More
and the Bishop of Rochester were found to be the undoubted authors of
the same; and their guilt was proved against them by the evidence of
their own handwrit, and the confessions of their own lips. For these
causes, therefore, and for many others of like kind, our most gracious
sovereign was compelled to imprison them as rebellious subjects, as
disturbers of the public peace, and as movers of sedition and tumult.
Nor was it possible for him to do other than punish them, unless, after
their crimes had been detected, he had so far forgotten his duty as to
leave the contagion to spread unchecked, to the utter destruction of the
nation. They were in consequence thrown into the Tower, where, however,
their treatment was far different from what their demerits had deserved;
they were allowed the society of their friends; their own servants were
admitted to attend upon them, and they received all such indulgences in
food and dress as their families desired. Clemency, however, produced no
effect on persons in whom duty and allegiance had given place to treason
and malice. They chose rather to persist in their wicked courses than to
make trial by repentance of the king's goodness. For after that certain
laws had been decreed by authority of parliament, and had been by the
whole nation admitted and accepted as expedient for the realm, and
agreeable to true religion, they alone refused their consent to these
laws, hoping that something might occur to sustain them in their
impiety; and while professing to have left all care and thought for
human things, they were considering by what arguments, in furtherance
of their seditious purposes, they might, to the common hurt, elude,
refute, and disturb the said laws.

"Of this their treason there are proofs extant--letters written, when
ink failed them, with chalk or charcoal, and passed secretly from one to
the other. Our most merciful king could therefore no longer tolerate
their grievous faults. He allowed them to be tried by process of
ordinary law. They were found guilty of high treason, and sentenced to
death. Their punishment was milder than that which the law prescribed,
or which their crimes had deserved; and many persons have by this
example been brought to a better mind."[471]

To Cromwell evidently the case appeared so clear as to require no
apology. To modern writers it has appeared so clear as to admit of none.
The value of the defence turns upon the point of the actual danger to
the state, and the extent to which the conduct of the sufferers
imperilled the progress of the Reformation. As written for the eyes of
the pope and cardinals, however, such a letter could be understood only
as daring them to do their worst. It ignored the very existence of such
rules of judgment as the heads of the Roman church would alone
acknowledge, and represented the story as it appeared from the position
which England had assumed on its revolt from its old allegiance.

[Sidenote: The reply of the pope.]

There were no more false efforts at conciliation, and open war
thenceforth appeared to be the only possible relation between the papacy
and Henry VIII. Paul III. replied, or designed to reply, with his
far-famed bull of interdict and deposition, which, though reserved at
the moment in deference to Francis of France, and not issued till three
years later, was composed in the first burst of his displeasure.[472]
The substance of his voluminous anathemas may be thus briefly

[Sidenote: The bull of interdict and deposition.]

The pope, quoting and applying to himself the words of Jeremiah,
"Behold, I have set thee over nations and kingdoms, that thou mayest
root out and destroy, and that thou mayest plant and build again,"
addressed Henry as a disobedient vassal. Already lying under the
censures of the church, he had gone on to heap crime on crime; and
therefore, a specific number of days being allowed him to repent and
make his submission, at the expiration of this period of respite the
following sentence was to take effect.

The king, with all who abetted him in his crimes, was pronounced
accursed--cut off from the body of Christ, to perish. When he died, his
body should lie without burial; his soul, blasted with anathema, should
be cast into hell for ever. The lands of his subjects who remained
faithful to him were laid under an interdict: their children were
disinherited, their marriages illegal, their wills invalid; only by one
condition could they escape their fate--by instant rebellion against the
apostate prince. All officers of the crown were absolved from their
oaths; all subjects, secular or ecclesiastic, from their allegiance.
The entire nation, under penalty of excommunication, was commanded no
longer to acknowledge Henry as their sovereign.[473] No true son of the
church should hold intercourse with him or his adherents. They must
neither trade with them, speak with them, nor give them food. The
clergy, leaving behind a few of their number to baptize the new-born
infants, were to withdraw from the accursed land, and return no more
till it had submitted. If the king, trusting to force, persevered in his
iniquity, the lords and commons of England, dukes, marquises, earls, and
all other persons, were required, under the same penalty of
excommunication, to expel him from the throne; and the Christian princes
of Europe were called on to show their fidelity to the Holy See, by
aiding in so godly a work.

In conclusion, as the king had commanded his clergy to preach against
the pope in their churches, so the pope commanded them to retaliate upon
the king, and with bell, book, and candle declare him cursed.

This was loud thunder; nor, when abetted by Irish massacres and English
treasons, was it altogether impotent. If Henry's conceptions of the
royal supremacy were something imperious, the papal supremacy was not
more modest in its self-assertion; and the language of Paul III. went
far to justify the rough measures by which his menaces were parried. If
any misgiving had remained in the king's mind on the legitimacy of the
course which he had pursued, the last trace of it must have been
obliterated by the perusal of this preposterous bombast.

[Sidenote: Peril of Henry's position.]

For the moment, as I said, the bull was suspended through the
interference of Francis. But Francis remained in communion with the See
of Rome: Francis was at that moment labouring to persuade the Lutheran
states in Germany to return to communion with it: and Henry knew, that,
although in their hearts the European powers might estimate the pope's
pretences at their true value, yet the bull of excommunication might
furnish a convenient and dangerous pretext against him in the event of a
Catholic combination. His position was full of peril; and in spite of
himself, he was driven once more to seek for an alliance among the
foreign Protestants, before the French intrigues should finally
anticipate him.

[Sidenote: Intrigues of the French in Germany.]

That he really might be too late appeared an immediate likelihood. The
quarrel between the Lutherans and the followers of Zwingli, the
Anabaptist anarchy and the increasing confusion throughout the
Protestant states, had so weighed on Luther's spirit that he was looking
for the end of all things and the coming of Christ; and although Luther
himself never quailed, too many "murmurers in the wilderness" were
looking wistfully back into Egypt. The French king, availing himself
skilfully of the turning tide, had sent the Bishop of Paris to the
courts of Saxony and Bavaria, in the beginning of August, to feel his
way towards a reconciliation; and his efforts had been attended with
remarkable success.

[Sidenote: Probability of a reconciliation of the Lutherans with the See
of Rome.]

The bishop had been in communication with Melancthon and many of the
leading Lutheran theologians upon the terms on which they would return
to the church. The Protestant divines had drawn up a series of articles,
the first of which was a profession of readiness to recognise the
authority of the pope;[474] accompanying this statement with a
declaration that they would accept any terms not plainly unjust and
impious. These articles were transmitted to Paris, and again
retransmitted to Germany, with every prospect of a mutually satisfactory
result; and Melancthon was waiting only till the bishop could accompany
him, to go in person to Paris, and consult with the Sorbonne.[475]

[Sidenote: Of which Henry is partly the cause.]

[Sidenote: Henry is driven to conciliate the German princes.]

This momentary (for it was only momentary) weakness of the German
Protestants was in part owing to their want of confidence in Henry
VIII.[476] The king had learnt to entertain a respect for the foreign
Reformers, far unlike the repugnance of earlier years; but the prospect
of an alliance with them had hitherto been too much used by him as a
weapon with which to menace the Catholic powers, whose friendship he had
not concealed that he would prefer. The Protestant princes had shrunk
therefore, and wisely, from allowing themselves to be made the
instruments of worldly policy; and the efforts at a combination had
hitherto been illusive and ineffectual. Danger now compelled the king to
change his hesitation into more honest advances. If Germany accepted the
mediation of Francis, and returned to communion with Rome; and if, under
the circumstances of a reunion, a general council were assembled; there
could be little doubt of the attitude in which a council, called
together under such auspices, would place itself towards the movement in
England. To escape so imminent a peril, Henry was obliged (as Elizabeth
after him) to seek the support of a party from which he had shrunk: he
was forced, in spite of himself, to identify his cause with the true
cause of freedom, and consequently to admit an enlarged toleration of
the Reformed doctrines in his own dominions. There could be little doubt
of the support of the Germans, if they could be once assured that they
would not again be trifled with; and a Protestant league, the steady
object of Cromwell's efforts, seemed likely at length to be realized.

[Sidenote: August. Nature of the relations of the Tudors to the German

[Sidenote: Mission of the Bishop of Hereford to counteract the French.]

Different indeed would have been the future, both of England and for
Germany, if such a league had been possible, if the pressure which
compelled this most natural alliance had continued till it had cemented
into rock. But the Tudors, representatives in this, as in so many other
features of their character, of the people whom they governed, could
never cordially unite themselves with a form of thought which permitted
resistance to authority, and which they regarded as anarchic and
revolutionary. They consented, when no alternative was left them, to
endure for short periods a state of doubtful cordiality; but the
connexion was terminated at the earliest moment which safety permitted;
in their hatred of disorder (for this feeling is the key alike to the
strength and to the weakness of the Tudor family), they preferred the
incongruities of Anglicanism to a complete reformation; and a
"midge-madge"[477] of contradictory formularies to the simplicity of the
Protestant faith. In essentials, the English movement was political
rather than spiritual. What was gained for the faith, we owe first to
Providence, and then to those accidents, one of which had now arisen,
which compelled at intervals a deeper and a broader policy. To
counteract the French emissaries, Christopher Mount, in August, and in
September, Fox, Bishop of Hereford, were despatched to warn the Lutheran
princes against their intrigues, and to point out the course which the
interests of Northern Europe in the existing conjuncture required. The
bishop's instructions were drawn by the king. He was to proceed direct
to the court of Saxony, and, after presenting his letters of credit, was
to address the elector to the following effect:

[Sidenote: Henry's message to the Elector of Saxony.]

[Sidenote: He desires, in connexion with other princes who have the same
cause at heart, to maintain the middle way of truth, according to God's

[Sidenote: September. He has heard that the Lutherans are again
inclining to Rome; and he desires to know their true intentions.]

"Besides and beyond the love, amity, and friendship which noble blood
and progeny had carnally caused and continued in the heart of the King's
Highness towards the said duke and his progenitors, and besides that
kindness also which of late by mutual communication of gratuities had
been not a little augmented and increased between them, there was also
stirred up in the heart of the King's Highness a spiritual love and
favour towards the said duke and his virtuous intents and proceedings,
for that the said duke persisted and continued in his most virtuous mind
to set forth, maintain, and defend the sincere teaching of the gospel
and the perfect true understanding of the word of God. In that matter
the King's Highness, also illuminated with the same spirit of truth, and
wholly addict and dedicate to the advancement thereof, had employed
great pain and travail to bring the same to the knowledge of his people
and subjects, intending also further and further to proceed therein, as
his Grace by good consultation should perceive might tend to the
augmentation of the glory of God and the true knowledge of his word. His
said Majesty was of such sincere meaning in the advancing [hereof] as
his Grace would neither headily, without good advisement, and
consultation, and conference with his friends, go in any part beyond the
said truth, ne for any respect tarry or stay on this side the truth, but
would proceed in the right straight mean way assuredly agreed upon. He
had known of certainty divers who by their immoderate zeal or the
excessive appetite to novelties had from darkness proceeded to much more
darkness, wherein the Anabaptists and sacramentarians were guilty; so by
secret report he had been advertised, that upon private communications
and conferences, the learned men there [in Germany] had in certain
points and articles yielded and relented from their first asseveration;
by reason whereof it was much doubted whether by other degrees they
might be dissuaded in some of the rest. The King's Highness therefore,
being very desirous to know the truth therein, and to be ascertained in
what points and articles the learned men there were so assuredly and
constantly resolved as by no persuasion of man they could be turned
from the same, had sent the Bishop of Hereford to the said duke,
desiring and praying him in respect of the premises to entertain the
said bishop friendly and familiarly concerning the matter aforesaid, as
the mutual love carnally, and the zeal of both princes to the increase
of the glory of God spiritually, did require."[478]

[Sidenote: He dissuades a council.]

[Sidenote: But if a council is to meet, let them come to a common
understanding with England.]

[Sidenote: The bishop was to apologize for all past coolness,]

[Sidenote: And to conclude with fresh warnings against the pope.]

The bishop was then to speak of the council, the assembling of which he
understood that the German princes so much desired. He was to dissuade
them from pressing it, to the extent of his ability. They would find
themselves opposed inevitably in all essential matters by the pope, the
emperor, and the French king, whose factions united would outnumber and
outvote them; and in the existing state of Europe, a general council
would only compromise their position and embarrass their movements. If,
however, notwithstanding his remonstrances, the princes persisted in
their wish, then the bishop was to urge them to come to some
understanding with England on the resolutions which they desired to
maintain. Let them communicate to the English bishops such points "as
they would stick to without relenting;" and the two countries, "standing
together, would be so much stronger to withstand their adversaries."
Without definitely promising to sign the Confession of Augsburg, Henry
held out strong hopes that he might sign that Confession, if they would
send representatives to London to discuss the articles of it with
himself.[479] The bishop was to apologize for any previous slackness on
the king's part in his communications with the elector, and to express
his hopes, that for the future their relations might be those of cordial
unanimity. He was especially to warn the elector to beware of
re-admitting the papal supremacy under any pretext. The English had
shaken off the pope, "provoked thereunto in such wise as would have
provoked them rather to have expelled him from them by wrong, than to
suffer him so to oppress them with injuries." If in Germany they "opened
the great gate" to let him in again, he would rebuild "the fortresses
that were thrown down, and by little and little bring all to the former
estate again." Finally, with respect to the council--if a council there
was to be--they must take care that it was held in a place indifferent,
where truth might be heard or spoken; "considering that else in a
council, were not the remedy that all good men sought, but the mischief
that all good men did abhor."

These advances, consented to by Henry, were the act of Cromwell, and
were designed as the commencement of a _Foedus Evangelicum_--a league
of the great Reforming nations of Europe. It was a grand scheme, and
history can never cease to regret that it was grasped at with too faint
a hand. The bishop succeeded in neutralizing partially the scheming of
the French, partially in attracting the sympathies of the German powers
towards England; but the two great streams of the Teutonic race, though
separated by but a narrow ridge of difference, were unable to reach a
common channel. Their genius drove them into courses which were to run
side by side for centuries, yet ever to remain divided. And if the lines
in which their minds have flowed seem to be converging at last, and if
hereafter Germans and English are again to unite in a single faith, the
remote meeting point is still invisible, and the terms of possible
agreement can be but faintly conjectured.


[383] "These be no causes to die for," was the favourite phrase of the
time. It was the expression which the Bishop of London used to the
Carthusian monks (_Historia Martyrum Anglorum_), and the Archbishop of
York in his diocese generally.--Ellis, third series, Vol. II. p. 375.

[384] Si Rex Præfatus, vel alii, inhibitioni ac prohibitioni et
interdicto hujusmodi contravenerint, Regem ipsum ac alios omnes
supradictos, sententias censuras et poenas prædictas ex nunc prout ex
tunc incurrisse declaramus, et ut tales publicari ac publice nunciari et
evitari--ac interdictum per totum regnum Angliæ sub dictis poenis
observari debere, volumus atque mandamus.--_First Brief of Clement_:
Legrand, Vol. III. pp. 451, 452. The Church of Rome, however, draws a
distinction between a sentence implied and a sentence directly

[385] Strype's _Memorials_, Vol. I. p. 292. Ellis, third series, Vol.
II. p. 336.

[386] It is remarkable that in this paper it seems to be assumed, that
the pope would have fulfilled this engagement if Henry had fully
submitted. "He openly confessed," it says, "that our master had the
right; but because our prince and master would not prejudicate for his
jurisdictions, and uphold his usurped power by sending a proctor, ye may
evidently here see that this was only the cause why the judgment of the
Bishop of Rome was not given in his favour; whereby it may appear that
there lacked not any justice in our prince's cause, but that ambition,
vain glory, and too much mundanity were the lets thereof."

[387] An Order for Preaching: printed in Burnet's _Collectanea_, p. 447.

[388] Ellis, third series, Vol. II. p. 373.

[389] John ap Rice to Secretary Cromwell, with an account of the search
of the Bishop of Durham's chamber: _Rolls House MS._

[390] Bedyll to Cromwell: _State Papers_, Vol. I. p. 422. Bedyll had
been directed by Cromwell to observe how the injunctions were obeyed. He
said that he was "in much despair of the reformation of the friars by
any gentle or favourable means;" and advised, "that fellows who leave
sermons should be put in prison, and made a terrible example of."

[391] _State Papers_, Vol. I. p. 422, et seq.

[392] Strype's _Memorials_, Vol. I. p. 305.

[393] Confessions of Father Forest: _Rolls House MS._ This seems to have
been generally known at the time. Latimer alludes to it in one of his

[394] "The confessor can do no good with them (the monks), and the
obstinate persons be not in fear of him; but be in great fear and danger
of his life, by reason of their malice, for that he hath consented to
the king's title, and hath preached the same."--Bedyll to Cromwell:
_State Papers_, Vol. I. p. 424.

[395] Cranmer: but we will hope the story is coloured. It is
characteristic, however, of the mild, tender-hearted man who desired to
glide round difficulties rather than scale and conquer them.

[396] A Deposition concerning the popish Conduct of a Priest: _Rolls
House MS._

[397] Information given by John Maydwell, of treasonable Words spoken
against Henry VIII. and Anne Boleyn: _Rolls House MS._

[398] In this instance we need not doubt that the words were truly
reported, for the offenders were tried and pleaded guilty.

[399] The conspiracy of "young Ryce," or Richard ap Griffyth, is one of
the most obscure passages in the history of this reign. It was a Welsh
plot, conducted at Islington. [Act of Attainder of Richard ap Griffyth,
23 Hen. VIII. cap. 24.] The particulars of it I am unable to discover
further, than that it was a desperate undertaking, encouraged by the
uncertainty of the succession, and by a faith in prophecies (Confession
of Sir William Neville: _Rolls House MS._), to murder the king. Ryce was
tried in Michaelmas term, 1531, and executed. His uncle, who passed
under the name of Brancetor, was an active revolutionary agent on the
Continent in the later years of Henry's reign.--See _State Papers_, Vol.
IV. pp. 647, 651, 653; Vol. VIII. pp. 219, 227, &c.

[400] Trial and Conviction of John Feron, clerk, and John Hale, clerk:
Baga de Secretis; Appendix II. to the _Third Report of the Deputy Keeper
of the Public Records_.

[401] History is never weary of repeating its warnings against narrow
judgments. A year ago we believed that the age of arbitrary severity was
past. In the interval we have seen the rebellion in India; the forms of
law have been suspended, and Hindoo rajahs have been executed for no
greater crime than the possession of letters from the insurgents. The
evidence of a treasonable animus has been sufficient to ensure
condemnation; and in the presence of necessity the principles of the
sixteenth century have been instantly revived.--April, 1858.

[402] Act of Supremacy, 26 Hen. VIII. cap. 1.

[403] To guard against misconception, an explanatory document was drawn
up by the government at the time of the passing of the act, which is
highly curious and significant. "The King's Grace," says this paper,
"hath no new authority given hereby that he is recognised as supreme
Head of the Church of England; for in that recognition is included only
that he have such power as to a king of right appertaineth by the law of
God; and not that he should take any spiritual power from spiritual
ministers that is given to them by the Gospel. So that these words, that
the king is supreme Head of the Church, serve rather to declare and make
open to the world, that the king hath power to suppress all such
extorted powers as well of the Bishop of Rome as of any other within
this realm, whereby his subjects might be grieved; and to correct and
remove all things whereby any unquietness might arise amongst the
people; rather than to prove that he should pretend thereby to take any
powers from the successors of the apostles that was given to them by
God. And forasmuch as, in the session of this former parliament holden
in the twenty-fifth year of this reign, whereby great exactions done to
the king's subjects by a power from Rome was put away, and thereupon the
promise was made that nothing should be interpreted and expounded upon
that statute, that the King's Grace, his nobles or subjects, intended to
decline or vary from the congregation of Christ's church in anything
concerning the articles of the Catholic faith, or anything declared by
Holy Scripture and the Word of God necessary for his Grace's salvation
and his subjects'; it is not, therefore, meet lightly to think that the
self-same persons, continuing the self-same parliament, would in the
next year following make an act whereby the king, his nobles and
subjects, should so vary. And no man may with conscience judge that they
did so, except they can prove that the words of the statute, whereby the
king is recognised to be the supreme Head of the Church of England,
should show expressly that they intended to do so; as it is apparent
that they do not.

"There is none authority of Scripture that will prove that any one of
the apostles should be head of the universal Church of Christendom. And
if any of the doctors of the church or the clergy have, by any of their
laws or decrees, declared any Scripture to be of that effect, kings and
princes, taking to them their counsellors, and such of their clergy as
they shall think most indifferent, ought to be judges whether those
declarations and laws be made according to the truth of Scripture or
not; because it is said in the Psalms, 'Et nunc Reges intelligite,
erudimini qui judicatis terram': that is, 'O kings! understand ye, be ye
learned that judge the world.' And certain it is that the Scripture is
always true; and there is nothing that the doctors and clergy might,
through dread and affection, [so well] be deceived in, as in things
concerning the honour, dignity, power, liberty, jurisdiction, and riches
of the bishops and clergy; and some of them have of likelihood been
deceived therein."--Heads of Arguments concerning the Power of the Pope
and the Royal Supremacy: _Rolls House MS._

[404] 26 Hen. VIII. cap. 2.

[405] 26 Hen. VIII. cap. 13.

[406] More warned Fisher of this. He "did send Mr. Fisher word by a
letter that Mr. Solicitor had showed him, that it was all one not to
answer, and to say against the statute what a man would, as all the
learned men in England would justify."--_State Papers_, Vol. I. p. 434.

[407] The act was repealed in 1547, I Edw. VI. cap. 12. The explanation
which is there given of the causes which led to the enactment of it is
temperate and reasonable. Subjects, says that statute, should obey
rather for love of their prince than for fear of his laws: "yet such
times at some time cometh in the commonwealth, that it is necessary and
expedient for the repressing of the insolence and unruliness of men, and
for the foreseeing and providing of remedies against rebellions,
insurrections, or such mischiefs as God, sometime with us displeased,
doth inflict and lay upon us, or the devil, at God's permission, to
assay the good and God's elect, doth sow and set among us,--the which
Almighty God and man's policy hath always been content to have
stayed--that sharper laws as a harder bridle should be made."

[408] 26 Henry VIII. cap. 14: "An Act for Nomination and Consecration of
Suffragans within the Realm." I have already stated my impression that
the method of nomination to bishopricks by the crown, as fixed by the
20th of the 25th of Henry VIII., was not intended to be perpetual. A
further evidence of what I said will be found in the arrangements under
the present act for the appointment of suffragans. The king made no
attempt to retain the patronage. The bishop of each diocese was to
nominate two persons, and between these the crown was bound to choose.

[409] Parum erraturus sed pauca facturus.--_State Papers_, Vol. VII. p.

[410] Ibid. p. 573.

[411] Nota qu'il ne sera pas paraventure si fort malayse à gaigner ce
roy.--_Note on the margin of the Comte de Nassau's Instructions._


  _Charles V. to his Ambassador at Paris._

  "November, 1534.

" ... In addition, the Count de Nassau and yourself may go further in
sounding the King about the Count's proposal--I mean for the marriage of
our cousin the Princess of England with the Duke d'Angoulesme. The Grand
Master, I understand, when the Count spoke of it, seemed to enter into
the suggestion, and mentioned the displeasure which the King of England
had conceived against Anne Boleyn. I am therefore sincerely desirous
that the proposal should be well considered, and you will bring it
forward as you shall see opportunity. You will make the King and the
Grand Master feel the importance of the connexion, the greatness which
it would confer on the Duke d'Angoulesme, the release of the English
debt, which can be easily arranged, and the assurance of the realm of

"Such a marriage will be, beyond comparison, more advantageous to the
King, his realm, and his children, than any benefit for which he could
hope from Milan; while it can be brought about with no considerable
difficulty. But be careful what you say, and how you say it. Speak alone
to the King and alone to the Grand Master, letting neither of them know
that you have spoken to the other. Observe carefully how the King is
inclined, and, at all events, be secret; so that if he does not like the
thing, the world need not know that it has been thought of.

"Should it be suggested to you--as it may be--that Anne Boleyn may be
driven desperate, and may contrive something against the Princess's
life, we answer that we can hardly believe her so utterly abandoned by
conscience: or, again, the Duke of Anjou may possibly object to the
exaltation of his brother; in which case we shall consent willingly to
have our cousin marry the Duke of Anjou; and, in that case, beyond the
right which appertains to the Duke and Princess from their fathers and
mothers, they and either of them shall have the kingdom of Denmark, and
we will exert ourselves to compose any difficulties with our Holy Father
the Pope."--_MS. Archives at Brussels._

[413] _State Papers_, Vol. VII. pp. 584, 585.

[414] Ibid.

[415] This is Cromwell's paraphrase. Francis is not responsible for the

[416] _State Papers_, Vol. VII. pp. 584-590.

[417] See the long and curious correspondence between the English and
Spanish courts in the _State Papers_, Vol. VI.

[418] _State Papers_, Vol. VII. pp. 587, 588.

[419] Ibid. p. 587.

[420] Who were to arrange the betrothal of Elizabeth to the Duke of

[421] Henry VIII. to De Bryon: _State Papers_, Vol. VII. p. 589.

[422] _State Papers_, Vol. VII. p. 591.

[423] "Suâ sponte solius veritatis propagandæ studio; nullâ regiæ
Majestatis intercessione expectatâ."--Cromwell to Cassalis: Ibid. p.

[424] Language can scarcely be stronger than that which he directed his
ambassador at Rome to use--short, at least, of absolute menace.--Ibid.
pp. 593, 594.

[425] _Historia Martyrum Anglorum_, cap. 2.

[426] _Historia Martyrum Anglorum_, cap. 8.

[427] _Historia Martyrum_, cap. 9.

[428] Stokesley, Bishop of London, among others: _State Papers_, Vol. I.
pp. 423, 424.

[429] _Historia Martyrum_, cap, 9.

[430] The 60th in the English version.

[431] Printed in Strype's _Memorials_, Vol. I. Appendix, p. 208.

[432] Baga de Secretis; Appendix II. to the _Third Report of the Deputy
Keeper of the Public Records_.

[433] Strype's _Memorials_, Vol. I. p. 305; _Historia Martyrum

[434] Father Maurice says that the jury desired to acquit; and after
debating for a night, were preparing a verdict of Not Guilty; when
Cromwell, hearing of their intention, went in person to the room where
they were assembled, and threatened them with death unless they did what
he called their duty. The story is internally improbable. The conditions
of the case did not admit of an acquittal; and the conduct attributed to
Cromwell is inconsistent with his character. Any doubt which might
remain, in the absence of opposing testimony, is removed by the record
of the trial, from which it appears clearly that the jury were not
returned until the 29th of April, and _that the verdict was given in on
the same day_.--Baga de Secretis; Appendix to the _Third Report of the
Deputy Keeper of the Public Records_.

[435] "In thee, O Lord, have I put my trust: let me never be put to
confusion: deliver me in thy righteousness. Bow down thine ear to me;
make haste to deliver me. And be thou my strong rock and house of
defence, that thou mayest save me. For thou art my strong rock, and my
castle; be thou also my guide, and lead me for thy name's sake. Draw me
out of the net that they have laid privily for me: for thou art my
strength. Into thy hands I commend my spirit, for thou hast redeemed me,
O Lord, thou God of truth!"

[436] _Historia Martyrum Anglorum._

[437] On the 19th of June. Hall says they were insolent to Cromwell on
their trial.

[438] "By the hand of God," according to Mr. Secretary Bedyll. "My very
good Lord, after my most hearty commendations, it shall please your
lordship to understand that the monks of the Charterhouse here in London
which were committed to Newgate for their traitorous behaviour, long
time continued against the King's Grace, be almost dispatched by the
hand of God, as may appear to you by this bill enclosed; whereof,
considering their behaviour and the whole matter, I am not sorry, but
would that all such as love not the King's Highness and his worldly
honour were in like case."--Bedyll to Cromwell: _Suppression of the
Monasteries_, p. 162.

[439] Stow, p. 571. And see the Diary of Richard Hilles, merchant, of
London. _MS._, Balliol College, Oxford.

[440] Stow's _Chronicle_, p. 571.

[441] Latimer alludes to the story with no disapproval of the execution
of these men--as we should not have disapproved of it, if we had lived
then, unless we had been Anabaptists ourselves. A brave death, Latimer
says, is no proof of a good cause. "This is no good argument, my
friends; this is a deceivable argument: he went to his death
boldly--ergo, he standeth in a just quarrel. The Anabaptists that were
burnt here in divers towns in England (as I heard of credible men--I saw
them not myself), went to their death intrepide, as you will say;
without any fear in the world--cheerfully: well, let them go. There was
in the old times another kind of poisoned heretics that were called
Donatists; and these heretics went to their execution as they should
have gone to some jolly recreation or banquet."--Latimer's _Sermons_, p.

[442] He wrote to the king on the 14th of June, in consequence of an
examination at the Tower; but that letter could not have been spoken of
on the trial of the Carthusians.--See _State Papers_, Vol. I. p. 431.

[443] "I had the confessor alone in very secret communication concerning
certain letters of Mr. Fisher's, of which Father Reynolds made mention
in his examination; which the said Fisher promised the King's Grace that
he never showed to any other man, neither would. The said confessor hath
confessed to me that the said Fisher sent to him, to the said Reynolds,
and to one other brother of them, the copy of his said letters directed
to the King's Grace, and the copy of the king's answer also. He hath
knowledged to me also that the said Fisher sent unto them with the said
copies a book of his, made in defence of the King's Grace's first
marriage, and also Abel's book, and one other book made by the
emperour's ambassador, as I suppose."--Bedyll to Cromwell: _Suppression
of the Monasteries_, pp. 45, 46.

[444] The accounts are consistent on this subject with a single
exception. A letter is extant from Fisher, in which he complained of
suffering from the cold and from want of clothes. This must have been an
accident. More was evidently treated well (see More's _Life of More_);
and all the circumstances imply that they were allowed to communicate
freely with their friends, and to receive whatever comforts their
friends were pleased to send them. The official statements on this
subject are too positive and too minute to admit of a doubt. Cromwell
writes thus to Cassalis: "Carceribus mancipati tractabantur humanius
atque mitius quam par fuisset pro eorum demeritis; per Regem illis
licebat proximorum colloquio et consuetudine frui. Ii fuerant illis
appositi præscriptique ministri quos a vinclis immunes antea fidos
charosque habebant; id cibi genus eaque condimenta et vestitus eis
concedebantur quæ eorum habitudini ac tuendæ sanitati, ipsi
consanguinei, nepotes atque affines et amici judicabant esse magis
accommoda."--_State Papers_, Vol. VII. p. 634.

[445] More's _Life of More_.

[446] "Instructions given by the King's Majesty to the Right Reverend
Father in God, his right trusty and well-beloved counsellor the Bishop
of Hereford, whom his Majesty at this time sendeth unto the Princes of
Germany."--_Rolls House MS._

[447] _State Papers_, Vol. VII. p. 635.

[448] Compare _State Papers_, Vol. I. pp. 431-436, with the Reports of
the trials in the Baga de Secretis. Burnet has hastily stated that no
Catholic was ever punished for merely denying the supremacy in official
examinations. He has gone so far, indeed, as to call the assertions of
Catholic writers to this effect "impudent falsehoods." Whether any
Catholic was prosecuted who had not given other cause for suspicion, I
do not know; but it is quite certain that Haughton and Fisher were
condemned solely on the ground of their answers on these occasions, and
that no other evidence was brought against them. The government clearly
preferred this evidence as the most direct and unanswerable, for in both
those cases they might have produced other witnesses had they cared to
do so.

[449] "Omnes Cardinales amicos nostros adivi; eisque demonstravi quam
temere ac stulte fecerint in Roffensi in Cardinalem eligendo unde et
potentissimum Regem et universum Regnum Angliæ mirum in modum lædunt et
injuriâ afficiunt; Roffensem enim virum esse gloriosum ut propter vanam
gloriam in suâ opinione contra Regem adhuc sit permansurus; quâ etiam de
causâ in carcere est et morti condemnatus."--Cassalis to Cromwell:
_State Papers_, Vol. VII. p. 604.

[450] _State Papers_, Vol. VII. p. 604.

[451] Pontifex me vehementer rogavit, ut vias omnes tentare velim,
quibus apud Regiam Majestatem excusatam hanc rem faciam, unde se
plurimum dolere dixit, cum præsertim ego affirmaverim rem esse ejusmodi
ut excusationem non recipiat.--Cassalis to Cromwell: Ibid.

[452] Ibid. p. 616.

[453] _Historia Martyrum Anglorum._

[454] Report of the Trial of John Fisher: Baga de Secretis: Appendix to
the _Third Report of the Deputy Keeper of the Records_.

[455] If his opinions had been insufficient for his destruction, there
was an influence at court which left no hope to him: the influence of
one whose ways and doings were better known then than they have been
known to her modern admirers. "On a time," writes his grandson, "when he
had questioned my aunt Roper of his wife and children, and the state of
his house in his absence, he asked her at last how Queen Anne did. 'In
faith, father,' said she, 'never better. There is nothing else at the
court but dancing and sporting.' 'Never better?' said he; 'alas, Meg,
alas, it pitieth me to remember unto what misery she will shortly come.
These dances of hers will prove such dances that she will spurn our
heads off like footballs, but it will not be long ere her head will
dance the like dance.'"--More's _Life of More_, p. 244.

[456] The composition of the commission is remarkable. When Fisher was
tried, Lord Exeter sate upon it. On the trial of More, Lord Exeter was
absent, but his place was taken by his cousin, Lord Montague, Reginald
Pole's eldest brother, and Lady Salisbury's son. Willingly or
unwillingly, the opposition nobles were made _participes criminis_ in
both these executions.

[457] I take my account of the indictment from the government record. It
is, therefore, their own statement of their own case.--Trial of Sir
Thomas More: Baga de Secretis, pouch 7, bundle 3.

[458] Fisher had unhappily used these words on his own examination; and
the identity of language was held a proof of traitorous confederacy.

[459] If this was the constitutional theory, "divine right" was a Stuart

[460] More's _Life of More_, p. 271

[461] More's _Life of More_, pp. 276, 277.

[462] "And, further to put him from his melancholy, Sir Thomas More did
take his urinal, and cast his water, saying merrily, 'I see no danger
but the man that owns this water may live longer, if it please the
king.'"--More's _Life_, p. 283. I cannot allow myself to suppress a
trait so eminently characteristic.

[463] More's _Life of More_, p. 287.

[464] _State Papers_, Vol. VII. p. 606.

[465] Cassalis to Cromwell: _State Papers_, Vol. VII. pp. 620, 621.

[466] _State Papers_, Vol. VII. pp. 620, 621.

[467] Strype's _Memor. Eccles._, Vol. I., Appendix, p. 211. These words
are curious as directly attributing the conduct of the monks to the
influence of More and Fisher.

[468] Cromwell to Gardiner: Burnet's _Collectanea_, pp. 460, 461.

[469] "If the Duke of Saxe, or any of the other princes, shall in their
conference with him, expostulate or show themselves displeased with such
information as they may percase have had, touching the attainder and
execution of the late Bishop of Rochester and Sir Thomas More, the said
Bishop shall thereunto answer and say, that the same were by order of
his laws found to be false traitors and rebels to his Highness and his
crown. The order of whose attainder with the causes thereof, he may
declare unto them, saying that in case the King's Highness should know
that they would conceive any sinister opinion of his Grace, for the
doing of any act within his realm, his Grace should not only have cause
to think they used not with him the office of friendship, which would
not by any report conceive other opinion of so noble a prince as he is
than were both just and honourable; but also to note in them less
constancy of judgment than he verily thinketh they have. And hereupon
the said Bishop shall dissuade them from giving credit to any such
report, as whereby they shall offend God in the judgment of evil upon
their neighbour; and cause his Majesty to muse that they would of him,
being a prince of honour, conceive any other opinion than his honour and
friendship towards them doth require. Setting this forth with such a
stomach and courage as they may not only perceive the false traitorous
dealings of the said persons; but consider what folly it were in them
upon light report to judge of another prince's proceedings otherwise
than they would a foreign prince should judge of them."--Instructions to
the Bishop of Hereford by the King's Highness: _Rolls House MS._

[470] It will be observed that many important facts are alluded to in
this letter, of which we have no other knowledge.

[471] Cromwell to Cassalis: _State Papers_, Vol. VII. p. 633.

[472] Paul himself said that it was reserved at the intercession of the
Princes of Europe. Intercession is too mild a word for the species of
interference which was exerted. The pope sent a draft of the intended
bull to France; and the king having no disposition to countenance
exaggerated views of papal authority, spoke of it as _impudentissimum
quoddam breve_; and said that he must send the Cardinal of Lorraine to
Rome, to warn his Holiness that his pretence of setting himself above
princes could by no means be allowed; by such impotent threats he might
not only do no good, but he would make himself a laughing-stock to all
the world.--Christopher Mount to Henry VIII.: _State Papers_, Vol. VII.
p. 628

[473] His sub excommunicationis poenâ mandamus ut ab ejusdem Henrici
regis, suorumque officialium judicium et magistratuum quorumcunque
obedientiâ, penitus et omnino recedant, nec illos in superiores
recognoscant neque illorum mandatis obtemperent.--Bull of Pope Paul
against Henry VIII.

[474] The Venetian Ambassador told Mount that the first article stood
thus, "Admittitur Protestas Pontificis Maximi absolute;" to which Mount
says he answered, "Hoc Latinum magis sapit Sorbonam Parisiensem quam
Witenbergensem Minervam." Du Bellay afterwards said that the saving
clause was attached to it, "Modo secundum verbum Dei omnia judicet;" and
that this had been added at the desire of the French king; which Mount
did not believe--and indeed found great difficulty in discovering any
credible account of what was really taking place, beyond the fact that
the Lutherans were so anxious for an agreement, that they were walking
with open eyes into a net which would strangle them.--See _State
Papers_, Vol. VII. p. 630, &c.

[475] Ibid.

[476] Ego colendissime Patrone (si scribere licet quod sentio) non nihil
nocere puto amicitiæ ineundæ et confirmandæ inter serenissimum Regem
nostrum et Principes Germanos, nimiam serenissimi Regis nostri
prudentiam. Germanorum animi tales sunt ut apertam et simplicem
amicitiam colant et expetant. Ego quoque Germanos Principes super hâc
causâ sæpius expostulantes audivi, ut qui suspensam hanc et causariam
amicitiam not satis probarent. Dixerunt enim hâc re fieri ut plerique
alii foedus secum inire detrectarent et refugerunt qui id ultro factum
fuerant si serenissimum Angliæ Regem aperte stare cernerent.--Mount to
Cromwell: _State Papers_, Vol. VII. p. 625.

[477] This was Lord Burleigh's word for the constitution of the English

[478] Instructions to the Bishop of Hereford: _Rolls House MS._

[479] In case they shall require that the King's Majesty shall receive
the whole confession of Germany as it is imprinted, the bishop shall say
that when the King's Highness shall have seen and perused the articles
of the league, and shall perceive that there is in it contained none
other articles but such as may be agreeable with the Gospel, and such as
his Highness ought and conveniently may maintain, it is not to be
doubted, and also, "I durst boldly affirm," the said bishop shall say,
"that the King's Highness will enter the same [league]." But it shall be
necessary for the said duke and the princes confederate to send to the
King's Highness such personages as might devise, conclude, and
condescend in every article.--Instructions to the Bishop of Hereford:
_Rolls House MS._



[Sidenote: Exemption of the religious houses from control.]

[Sidenote: Contrast in the monasteries between theory and fact.]

[Sidenote: The original intention.]

Many high interests in England had been injured by the papal
jurisdiction; but none had suffered more vitally than those of the
monastic establishments. These establishments had been injured, not by
fines and exactions,--for oppression of this kind had been terminated by
the statutes of provisors,--but because, except at rare and remote
intervals, they had been left to themselves, without interference and
without surveillance. They were deprived of those salutary checks which
all human institutions require if they are to be saved from sliding into
corruption. The religious houses, almost without exception, were not
amenable to the authority of the bishops. The several societies
acknowledged obedience only to the heads of their order, who resided
abroad; or to the pope, or to some papal delegate. Thus any regularly
conducted visitation was all but impossible. The foreign superiors, who
were forbidden by statute to receive for their services more than
certain limited and reasonable fees, would not undertake a gratuitous
labour; and the visitations, attempted with imperfect powers[480] by the
English archbishops, could be resisted successfully under pleas of
exemption and obedience to the rules of the orders.[481] Thus the abbeys
had gone their own way, careless of the gathering indignation with which
they were regarded by the people, and believing that in their position
they held a sacred shield which would protect them for ever. In them, as
throughout the Catholic system, the sadness of the condition into which
they had fallen was enhanced by the contrast between the theory and the
degenerate reality. Originally, and for many hundred years after their
foundation, the regular clergy were the finest body of men of which
mankind in their chequered history can boast. They lived to illustrate,
in systematic simplicity, the universal law of sacrifice. In their three
chief vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, they surrendered
everything which makes life delightful. Their business on earth was to
labour and to pray: to labour for other men's bodies, to pray for other
men's souls. Wealth flowed in upon them; the world, in its instinctive
loyalty to greatness, laid its lands and its possessions at their feet;
and for a time was seen the notable spectacle of property administered
as a trust, from which the owners reaped no benefit, except increase of
toil. The genius of the age expended its highest efforts to provide
fitting tabernacles for the divine spirit which they enshrined; and
alike in village and city, the majestic houses of the Father of mankind
and his especial servants towered up in sovereign beauty, symbols of the
civil supremacy of the church, and of the moral sublimity of life and
character which had won the homage and the admiration of the Christian
nations. Ever at the sacred gates sate Mercy, pouring out relief from a
never-failing store to the poor and the suffering; ever within the
sacred aisles the voices of holy men were pealing heavenwards, in
intercession for the sins of mankind; and influences so blessed were
thought to exhale around those mysterious precincts, that the outcasts
of society--the debtor, the felon, and the outlaw--gathered round the
walls, as the sick men sought the shadow of the apostle, and lay there
sheltered from the avenging hand till their sins were washed from off
their souls. Through the storms of war and conquest the abbeys of the
middle ages floated, like the ark upon the waves of the flood, inviolate
in the midst of violence, through the awful reverence which surrounded

[Sidenote: The life of "religion" left it in the 14th century.]

The soul of "religion,"[482] however, had died out of it for many
generations before the Reformation. At the close of the fourteenth
century, Wycliffe had cried that the rotting trunk cumbered the ground,
and should be cut down. It had not been cut down; it had been allowed to
stand for a hundred and fifty more years; and now it was indeed plain
that it could remain no longer. The boughs were bare, the stem was
withered, the veins were choked with corruption; the ancient life-tree
of monasticism would blossom and bear fruit no more. Faith had sunk into
superstition; duty had died into routine; and the monks, whose technical
discipline was forgotten, and who were set free by their position from
the discipline of ordinary duty, had travelled swiftly on the downhill
road of human corruption.

[Sidenote: The darker scandals not to be touched upon.]

[Sidenote: Political and administrative abuses.]

Only light reference will be made in this place to the darker scandals
by which the abbeys were dishonoured. Such things there really were, to
an extent which it may be painful to believe, but which evidence too
abundantly proves. It is better, however, to bury the recollection of
the more odious forms of human depravity; and so soon as those who
condemn the Reformation have ceased to deny what the painfulness of the
subject only has allowed to remain disputed, the sins of the last
English monks will sleep with them in their tombs. Here, in spite of
such denials, the most offensive pictures shall continue to be left in
the shade; and persons who wish to gratify their curiosity, or satisfy
their unbelief, may consult the authorities for themselves.[483] I shall
confine my own efforts rather to the explanation of the practical, and,
in the highest sense of the word, political abuses, which, on the whole,
perhaps, told most weightily on the serious judgment of the age.

[Sidenote: The abbeys intended for the benefit of the poor.]

[Sidenote: Fraudulent neglect of duty.]

[Sidenote: Illegal division of profits.]

[Sidenote: Dishonest administration of the lands.]

[Sidenote: Neglect of hospitality. Neglect of the poor.]

[Sidenote: Simony and profligacy.]

The abbeys, then, as the State regarded them, existed for the benefit of
the poor. The occupants for the time being were themselves under vows of
poverty; they might appropriate to their personal use no portion of the
revenues of their estates; they were to labour with their own hands, and
administer their property for the public advantage. The surplus proceeds
of the lands, when their own modest requirements had been supplied,
were to be devoted to the maintenance of learning, to the exercise of a
liberal hospitality, and to the relief of the aged, the impotent, and
the helpless. The popular clamour of the day declared that these duties
were systematically neglected; that two-thirds, at least, of the
religious bodies abused their opportunities unfairly for their own
advantage; and this at a time when the obligations of all property were
defined as strictly as its rights, and negligent lay owners were
promptly corrected by the State whenever occasion required. The monks,
it was believed, lived in idleness, keeping vast retinues of servants to
do the work which they ought to have done themselves.[484] They were
accused of sharing dividends by mutual connivance, although they were
forbidden by their rule to possess any private property whatever, and of
wandering about the country in the disguise of laymen in pursuit of
forbidden indulgences.[485] They were bound by their statutes to keep
their houses full, and if their means were enlarged, to increase their
numbers; they were supposed to have allowed their complement to fall to
half, and sometimes to a third, of the original foundation, fraudulently
reserving the enlarged profits to themselves. It was thought, too, that
they had racked their estates; that having a life-interest only, they
had encumbered them with debts, mortgages, and fines; that in some cases
they had wholly alienated lands, of which they had less right to
dispose than a modern rector of his glebe.[486] In the meantime, it was
said that the poor were not fed, that hospitality was neglected, that
the buildings and houses were falling to waste, that fraud and Simony
prevailed among them from the highest to the lowest, that the abbots
sold the presentations to the benefices which were in their gift, or
dishonestly retained the cures of souls in their own hands, careless
whether the duties of the parishes could or could not be discharged; and
that, finally, the vast majority of the monks themselves were ignorant,
self-indulgent, profligate, worthless, dissolute.

[Sidenote: A hundred houses suppressed by Henry V.]

[Sidenote: Visitation of 1489.]

These, in addition to the heavier accusations, were the charges which
the popular voice had for more than a century brought against the
monasteries, which had led Wycliffe to denounce their existence as
intolerable, the House of Commons to petition Henry IV. for the
secularization of their property, and Henry V. to appease the outcry, by
the suppression of more than a hundred, as an ineffectual warning to the
rest.[487] At length, in the year 1489, at the instigation of Cardinal
Morton, then Archbishop of Canterbury, a commission was issued by
Innocent VIII. for a general investigation throughout England into the
behaviour of the regular clergy. The pope said that he had heard, from
persons worthy of credit, that abbots and monks in many places were
systematically faithless to their vows; he conferred on the archbishop a
special power of visitation, and directed him to admonish, to correct,
to punish, as might seem to him to be desirable.[488] On the receipt of
these instructions, Morton addressed the following letter to the
superior of an abbey within a few miles of London,--a peer of the realm,
living in the full glare of notoriety,--a person whose offences, such as
they were, had been committed openly, palpably, and conspicuously in the
face of the world:--

[Sidenote: Archbishop Morton visits the Abbey of St. Alban's.]

"John, by Divine permission, Archbishop of Canterbury, Primate of all
England, Legate of the Apostolic See, to William, Abbot of the Monastery
of St. Alban's, greeting.

"We have received certain letters under lead, the copies whereof we
herewith send you, from our most holy Lord and Father in Christ,
Innocent, by Divine Providence Pope, the eighth of that name. We
therefore, John, the archbishop, the visitor, reformer, inquisitor, and
judge therein mentioned, in reverence for the Apostolic See, have taken
upon ourselves the burden of enforcing the said commission; and have
determined that we will proceed by, and according to, the full force,
tenour, and effect of the same.

"And it has come to our ears, being at once publicly notorious and
brought before us upon the testimony of many witnesses worthy of credit,
that you, the abbot aforementioned, have been of long time noted and
diffamed, and do yet continue so noted, of Simony, of usury, of
dilapidation and waste of the goods, revenues, and possessions of the
said monastery, and of certain other enormous crimes and excesses
hereafter written. In the rule, custody, and administration of the
goods, spiritual and temporal, of the said monastery, you are so remiss,
so negligent, so prodigal, that whereas the said monastery was of old
times founded and endowed by the pious devotion of illustrious princes
of famous memory, heretofore kings of this land, the most noble
progenitors of our most serene Lord and King that now is, in order that
true religion might flourish there, that the name of the Most High, in
whose honour and glory it was instituted, might be duly celebrated

"And whereas, in days heretofore the regular observance of the said rule
was greatly regarded, and hospitality was diligently kept;

[Sidenote: Delinquencies of the abbot and the monks.]

"Nevertheless, for no little time, during which you have presided in the
same monastery, you and certain of your fellow monks and brethren (whose
blood, it is feared, through your neglect, a severe Judge will require at
your hand) have relaxed the measure and form of religious life; you have
laid aside the pleasant yoke of contemplation, and all regular observances;
hospitality, alms, and those other offices of piety which of old time were
exercised and ministered therein have decreased, and by your faults, your
carelessness, your neglect and deed, do daily decrease more and more, and
cease to be regarded--the pious vows of the founders are defrauded of their
just intent; the antient rule of your order is deserted; and not a few of
your fellow monks and brethren, as we most deeply grieve to learn, giving
themselves over to a reprobate mind, laying aside the fear of God, do lead
only a life of lasciviousness--nay, as is horrible to relate, be not afraid
to defile the holy places, even the very churches of God, by infamous
intercourse with nuns.

"You yourself, moreover, among other grave enormities and abominable
crimes whereof you are guilty, and for which you are noted and diffamed,
have, in the first place, admitted a certain married woman, named Elena
Germyn, who has separated herself without just cause from her husband,
and for some time past has lived in adultery with another man, to be a
nun or sister in the house or Priory of Bray, lying, as you pretend,
within your jurisdiction. You have next appointed the same woman to be
prioress of the said house, notwithstanding that her said husband was
living at the time, and is still alive. And finally, Father Thomas
Sudbury, one of your brother monks, publicly, notoriously, and without
interference or punishment from you, has associated, and still
associates, with this woman as an adulterer with his harlot.

"Moreover, divers other of your brethren and fellow monks have resorted,
and do resort, continually to her and other women at the same place, as
to a public brothel or receiving house, and have revived no correction

"Nor is Bray the only house into which you have introduced disorder. At
the nunnery of Sapwell, which you also contend to be under your
jurisdiction, you change the prioresses and superiors again and again at
your own will and caprice. Here, as well as at Bray, you depose those
who are good and religious; you promote to the highest dignities the
worthless and the vicious. The duties of the order are cast aside;
virtue is neglected; and by these means so much cost and extravagance
has been caused, that to provide means for your indulgence you have
introduced certain of your brethren to preside in their houses under the
name of guardians, when in fact they are no guardians, but thieves and
notorious villains; and with their help you have caused and permitted
the goods of the same priories to be dispensed, or to speak more truly
to be dissipated, in the above-described corruptions and other enormous
and accursed offences. Those places once religious are rendered and
reputed as it were profane and impious; and by your own and your
creatures' conduct are so impoverished as to be reduced to the verge of

"In like manner, also, you have dealt with certain other cells of monks,
which you say are subject to you, even within the monastery of the
glorious proto-martyr, Alban himself. You have dilapidated the common
property; you have made away with the jewels; the copses, the woods, the
underwood, almost all the oaks and other forest trees, to the value of
eight thousand marks and more, you have made to be cut down without
distinction, and they have by you been sold and alienated. The brethren
of the abbey, some of whom, as is reported, are given over to all the
evil things of the world, neglect the service of God altogether. They
live with harlots and mistresses publicly and continuously, within the
precincts of the monastery and without. Some of them, who are covetous
of honour and promotion, and desirous therefore of pleasing your
cupidity, have stolen and made away with the chalices and other jewels
of the church. They have even sacrilegiously extracted the precious
stones from the very shrine of St. Alban; and you have not punished
these men, but have rather knowingly supported and maintained them. If
any of your brethren be living justly and religiously, if any be wise
and virtuous, these you straightway depress and hold in hatred....

But this overwhelming document need not be transcribed further. It
pursues its way through mire and filth to its most lame and impotent
conclusion. The abbot was not deposed; he was invited merely to
reconsider his conduct, and, if possible, amend it.

Offences similar in kind and scarcely less gross were exposed at
Waltham, at St. Andrew's, Northampton, at Calais, and at other
places.[489] Again, a reprimand was considered to be an adequate

[Sidenote: Visitation of archbishop Warham in 1511.]

Evils so deep and so abominable would not yield to languid treatment;
the visitation had been feeble in its execution and limited in extent.
In 1511 a second was attempted by Archbishop Warham.[490] This inquiry
was more partial than the first, yet similar practices were brought to
light: women introduced to religious houses; nuns and abbesses accusing
one another of incontinency; the alms collected in the chapels
squandered by the monks in licentiousness. Once more, no cure was
attempted beyond a paternal admonition.[491] A third effort was made by
Wolsey twelve years later: again exposure followed, and again no remedy
was found.

If the condition of the abbeys had appeared intolerable before
investigation, still less could it be endured when the justice of the
accusations against them had been ascertained. But the church was
unequal to the work of self-reformation. Parliament alone could decide
on the measures which the emergency made necessary; and preparatory to
legislation, the true circumstances and present character of the
religious bodies throughout the whole country were to be ascertained
accurately and completely.

[Sidenote: Issue of a commission for a general visitation.]

[Sidenote: Character of the commissioners.]

[Sidenote: First intention of the crown to reform and not to destroy.]

Accordingly, in the summer of 1535, directly after Sir Thomas More's
execution, Cromwell, now "vicegerent of the king in all his
ecclesiastical jurisdiction within the realm,"[492] issued a commission
for a general visitation of the religious houses, the universities, and
other spiritual corporations. The persons appointed to conduct the
inquiry were Doctors Legh, Leyton, and Ap Rice, ecclesiastical lawyers
in holy orders, with various subordinates. Legh and Leyton, the two
principal commissioners, were young, impetuous men, likely to execute
their work rather thoroughly than delicately; but, to judge by the
surviving evidence, they were as upright and plain-dealing as they were
assuredly able and efficient. It is pretended by some writers that the
inquiry was set on foot with a preconceived purpose of spoliation; that
the duty of the visitors was rather to defame roundly than to report
truly; and that the object of the commission was merely to justify an
act of appropriation which had been already determined. The commission
of Pope Innocent, with the previous inquiries, puts to silence so
gratuitous a supposition; while it is certain that antecedent to the
presentation of the report, an extensive measure of suppression was not
so much as contemplated. The directions to the visitors,[493] the
injunctions they were to carry with them to the various houses, the
private letters to the superiors, which were written by the king and by
Cromwell,[494] show plainly that the first object was to reform and not
to destroy; and it was only when reformation was found to be
conclusively hopeless, that the harder alternative was resolved upon.
The report itself is no longer extant. Bonner was directed by Queen Mary
to destroy all discoverable copies of it, and his work was fatally well
executed. We are able, however, to replace its contents to some extent,
out of the despatches of the commissioners.

[Sidenote: The commissioners issue an inhibition against the bishops.]

Their discretionary powers were unusually large, as appears from the
first act with which the visitors commenced operations. On their own
responsibility, they issued an inhibition against the bishops,
forbidding them to exercise any portion of their jurisdiction while the
visitation was in progress. The sees themselves were to be inspected;
and they desired to make the ground clear before they moved. When the
amazed bishops exclaimed against so unheard-of an innovation, Doctor
Legh justified the order by saying, that it was well to compel the
prelates to know and feel their new position; and in the fact of their
suspension by a royal commission, to "agnize" the king as the source of
episcopal authority.[495]

[Sidenote: And commence work at Oxford, Sept. 12.]

[Sidenote: Condition of the University.]

[Sidenote: Efforts of the heads of houses.]

[Sidenote: Parish clergy idling at the colleges under pretence of

[Sidenote: The disturbers of order and quiet.]

[Sidenote: Revolution of studies.]

Truly it was an altered world since the bishops sent in their answer to
the complaints of the House of Commons. The visitors, in this haughty
style, having established their powers, began work with the university
of Oxford. Their time was short, for parliament was to meet early in the
spring, when their report was to be submitted to it; and their business
meanwhile was not only to observe and inquire, but any reforms which
were plainly useful and good, they were themselves to execute. They had
no time for hesitation, therefore; and they laid their hands to the
task before them with a promptitude at which we can only wonder. The
heads of houses, as may be supposed, saw little around them which was in
need of reform. A few students of high genius and high purposes had been
introduced into the university, as we have seen, by Wolsey; and these
had been assiduously exiled or imprisoned. All suspected books had been
hunted out. There had been fagot processions in High-street, and
bonfires of New Testaments at Carfax. The daily chapels, we suppose, had
gone forward as usual, and the drowsy lectures on the Schoolmen; while
"towardly young men" who were venturing stealthily into the perilous
heresy of Greek, were eyed askance by the authorities, and taught to
tremble at their temerity. All this we might have looked for; and among
the authorities themselves, also, the world went forward in a very
natural manner. There was comfortable living in the colleges: so
comfortable, that many of the country clergy preferred Oxford and
Cambridge to the monotony of their parishes, and took advantage of a
clause in a late act of parliament, which recognised a residence at
either of the universities as an excuse for absence from tedious duties.
"Divers and many persons," it was found, "beneficed with cure of souls,
and being not apt to study by reason of their age or otherwise, ne never
intending before the making of the said act to travel in study, but
rather minding their own ease and pleasure, colourably to defraud the
same good statute, did daily and commonly resort to the said
universities, where, under pretence of study, they continued and abode,
living dissolutely; nothing profiting themselves in learning, but
consumed the time in idleness and pastimes and insolent pleasures,
giving occasion and evil example thereby to the young men and students
within the universities, and occupying such rooms and commodities as
were instituted for the maintenance and relief of poor scholars."[496]
These persons were not driven away by the heads of houses as the
Christian Brothers had been; they were welcomed rather as pleasant
companions. In comfortable conservatism they had no tendencies to
heresy, but only to a reasonable indulgence of their five bodily senses.
Doubtless, therefore, the visitors found Oxford a pleasant place, and
cruelly they marred the enjoyments of it. Like a sudden storm of rain,
they dropt down into its quiet precincts. Heedless of rights of fellows
and founders' bequests, of sleepy dignities and established indolences,
they re-established long dormant lectures in the colleges. In a few
little days (for so long only they remained) they poured new life into
education. They founded fresh professorships--professorships of Polite
Latin, professorships of Philosophy, Divinity, Canon Law, Natural
Sciences--above all of the dreaded Greek; confiscating funds to support
them. For the old threadbare text-books, some real teaching was swiftly
substituted. The idle residents were noted down, soon to be sent home by
parliament to their benefices, under pain of being compelled, like all
other students, to attend lectures, and, in their proper persons, "keep
sophisms, problems, disputations, and all other exercises of

[Sidenote: Revolution of discipline.]

[Sidenote: Memorable fate of Duns Scotus.]

The discipline was not neglected: "we have enjoined the religious
students,"[498] Leyton wrote to Cromwell, "that none of them, for no
manner of cause, shall come within any tavern, inn, or alehouse, or any
other house, whatsoever it be, within the town and suburbs. [Each
offender] once so taken, to be sent home to his cloyster. Without doubt,
this act is greatly lamented of all honest women of the town; and
especially of their laundresses, that may not now once enter within the
gates, much less within the chambers, whereunto they were right well
accustomed. I doubt not, but for this thing, only the honest matrons
will sue to you for redress."[499] These were sharp measures; we lose
our breath at their rapidity and violence. The saddest vicissitude was
that which befell the famous Duns--Duns Scotus, the greatest of the
Schoolmen, the constructor of the _memoria technica_ of ignorance, the
ancient text-book of _à priori_ knowledge, established for centuries the
supreme despot in the Oxford lecture-rooms. "We have set Duns in
Bocardo," says Leyton. He was thrown down from his high estate, and from
being lord of the Oxford intellect, was "made the common servant of all
men;" condemned by official sentence to the lowest degradation to which
book can be submitted.[500] Some copies escaped this worst fate; but for
changed uses thenceforward. The second occasion on which the visitors
came to New College, they "found the great Quadrant Court full of the
leaves of Duns, the wind blowing them into every corner; and one Mr.
Greenfield, a gentleman of Buckinghamshire, gathering up part of the
same book leaves, as he said, to make him sewers or blawnsheres, to keep
the deer within his wood, thereby to have the better cry with his

To such base uses all things return at last; dust unto dust, when the
life has died out of them, and the living world needs their
companionship no longer.

[Sidenote: Progress of the visitors.]

[Sidenote: Uniformity of result.]

[Sidenote: The _animus improbus_.]

On leaving Oxford, the visitors spread over England, north, south, east,
and west. We trace Legh in rapid progress through Bedfordshire,
Cambridgeshire, Lincoln, Yorkshire, and Northumberland; Leyton through
Middlesex, Kent, Sussex, Hants, Somersetshire, and Devon. They appeared
at monastery after monastery, with prompt, decisive questions; and if
the truth was concealed, with expedients for discovering it, in which
practice soon made them skilful. All but everywhere the result was the
same. At intervals a light breaks through, and symptoms appear of some
efforts after decency; but in the vast majority of the smaller houses,
the previous results were repeated, the popular suspicions were more
than confirmed. Wolsey, when writing to the pope of his intended
reformation, had spoken of the _animus improbus_, and the frightful
symptoms which existed of it. He was accused, in his attempted
impeachment, of having defamed the character of the English clergy. Yet
Wolsey had written no more than the truth, as was too plainly
discovered. I do not know what to say on this matter, or what to leave
unsaid. If I am to relate the suppression of the monasteries, I should
relate also why they were suppressed. If I were to tell the truth, I
should have first to warn all modest eyes to close the book, and read no
further. It will perhaps be sufficient if I introduce a few superficial
stories, suggestive rather than illustrative of the dark matter which
remains in the shade.

[Sidenote: Sion Monastery.]

[Sidenote: The confessional, and the fruits of it.]

I have spoken more than once of the monastery of Sion. It was the scene of
the Nun of Kent's intrigues. It furnished more than one martyr for the
Catholic cause; and the order was Carthusian--one of the strictest in
England. There were two houses attached to the same establishment--one of
monks, another of nuns. The confessors of the women were chosen from the
friars, and they were found to have abused their opportunities in the most
infamous manner. With a hateful mixture of sensuality and superstition, the
offence and the absolution went hand-in-hand. One of these confessors, so
zealous for the pope that he professed himself ready to die for the Roman
cause, was in the habit of using language so filthy to his penitents, that
it was necessary to "sequester him from hearing ladies' confessions." The
nuns petitioned the visitors, on the exposure of the seduction of a sister,
that he and his companion might come to them no more; and the friar was
told that his abominable conduct might be the occasion that "shrift should
be laid down in England."[502]

This is one instance of an evil found fatally prevalent.

[Sidenote: Forged licenses for profligacy.]

Again, the clergy were suspected of obtaining dispensations from their
superiors indulging in a breach of their vows. The laxity of the church
courts in dealing with clerical delinquents had perhaps given rise to
this belief; but the accusation was confirmed by a discovery at Maiden
Bradley, in Wiltshire. The prior of this house had a family of
illegitimate children, whom he brought up and provided for in a very
comfortable manner;[503] and the visitor wrote that "_the pope,
considering his fragility_," had granted him a licence in this little
matter; that he had, in fact, "a good writing _sub plumbo_, to discharge
his conscience." I do not easily believe that _authentic_ dispensations
of such a kind were obtained from Rome, or were obtainable from it; but
of forged dispensations, invented by reverend offenders or fraudulently
issued by the local ecclesiastical authorities, to keep appearances
smooth, there were probably enough, and too many.[504]

[Sidenote: Visit to Langden Abbey, Oct. 22.]

The more ordinary experiences of the commissioners may be described by
Leyton himself, in an account which he wrote of his visit to Langden
Abbey, near Dover. The style is graphic, and the picture of the scene
one of the most complete which remains. The letter is to Cromwell.

"Please it your goodness to understand that on Friday, the 22nd of
October, I rode back with speed to take an inventory of Folkstone, and
from thence I went to Langden. Whereat immediately descending from my
horse, I sent Bartlett, your servant, with all my servants, to
circumspect the abbey, and surely to keep all back-doors and
starting-holes. I myself went alone to the abbot's lodging, joining
upon the fields and wood, even like a cony clapper, full of
starting-holes. [I was] a good space knocking at the abbot's door; _nec
vox nec sensus apparuit_, saving the abbot's little dog that within his
door fast locked bayed and barked. I found a short poleaxe standing
behind the door, and with it I dashed the abbot's door in pieces, _ictu
oculi_, and set one of my men to keep that door; and about the house I
go, with that poleaxe in my hand, _ne forte_, for the abbot is a
dangerous desperate knave, and a hardy. But for a conclusion, his
gentlewoman bestirred her stumps towards her starting-holes; and then
Bartlett, watching the pursuit, took the tender damoisel; and, after I
had examined her, [brought her] to Dover to the mayor, to set her in
some cage or prison for eight days; and I brought holy father abbot to
Canterbury, and here in Christchurch I will leave him in prison. In this
sudden doing _ex tempore_, to circumspect the house, and to search, your
servant John Antony's men marvelled what fellow I was, and so did the
rest of the abbey, for I was unknown there of all men. I found her
apparel in the abbot's coffer. To tell you all this comedy (but for the
abbot a tragedy), it were too long. Now it shall appear to gentlemen of
this country, and other the commons, that ye shall not deprive or visit,
but upon substantial grounds. The rest of all this knavery I shall defer
till my coming unto you, which shall be with as much speed as I can

[Sidenote: October. Nunnery of Lichfield.]

[Sidenote: Two of the sisterhood found "not barren."]

Towards the close of the year, Leyton went north to join Legh; and
together they visited a nunnery at Lichfield. The religious orders were
bound by oaths similar to those which have recently created difficulty
in Oxford. They were sworn to divulge nothing which might prejudice the
interests of the houses. The superior at Lichfield availed herself of
this plea. When questioned as to the state of the convent, she and the
sisterhood refused to allow that there was any disorder, or any
irregularity, which could give occasion for inquiry. Her assertions were
not implicitly credited; the inspection proceeded, and at length two of
the sisters were discovered to be "not barren"; a priest in one instance
having been the occasion of the misfortune, and a serving-man in the
other. No confession could be obtained either from the offenders
themselves, or from the society. The secret was betrayed by an "old
beldame"; "and when," says Leyton, "I objected against the prioresses,
that if they could not show me a cause reasonable of their concealment,
I must needs, and would, punish them for their manifest perjury,--their
answer was, that they were bound by their religion never to confess the
secret faults done amongst them, but only to a visitor of their own
religion, and to that they were sworn, every one of them, on their first

[Sidenote: Abbey of Fountains.]

[Sidenote: Theft and sacrilege committed by the abbot.]

A little later the commissioners were at Fountains Abbey; and tourists,
who in their daydreams among those fair ruins are inclined to complain
of the sacrilege which wasted the houses of prayer, may study with
advantage the following account of that house in the year which preceded
its dissolution. The outward beautiful ruin was but the symbol and
consequence of a moral ruin not so beautiful. "The Abbot of Fountains,"
we read in a joint letter of Legh and Leyton, had "greatly dilapidated
his house, [and] wasted the woods, notoriously keeping six women. [He
is] defamed here," they say, "_a toto populo_, one day denying these
articles, with many more, the next day confessing the same, thus
manifestly incurring perjury." Six days before the visitors' access to
his monastery "he committed theft and sacrilege, confessing the same. At
midnight he caused his chaplain to seize the sexton's keys, and took out
a jewel, a cross of gold with stones. One Warren, a goldsmith in the
Chepe, was with him in his chamber at that hour, and there they stole
out a great emerald, with a ruby. The said Warren made the abbot believe
the ruby to be but a garnet, so that for this he paid nothing. For the
emerald he paid but twenty pounds. He sold him also the plate without
weight or ounces; how much the abbot was deceived therein he cannot
tell, for he is a very fool and miserable idiot."[507]

[Sidenote: The visitors instructed to make inventories of the property,
and to bring away the superfluous plate.]

[Sidenote: False returns made by the abbots.]

Under an impression that frauds of this description were becoming
frequent, the government had instructed the commissioners to take
inventories of the plate and jewels; and where they saw occasion for
suspicion, to bring away whatever seemed superfluous, after leaving a
supply sufficient for the services of the house and chapel. The
misdemeanour of the Abbot of Fountains was not the only justification of
these directions. Sometimes the plate was secreted. The Prior of Christ
Church, Canterbury, was accused of having sent in a false return,[508]
keeping back gold and precious stones valued at a thousand pounds.
Information was given by some of the brethren, who professed to fear
that the prior would poison them in revenge.

[Sidenote: Scene at Norton Abbey in Cheshire.]

Occasionally the monks ventured on rougher methods to defend themselves.
Here is a small spark of English life while the investigation was in
progress, lighted by a stray letter from an English gentleman of
Cheshire. The lord chancellor was informed by Sir Piers Dutton, justice
of the peace, that the visitors had been at Norton Abbey. They had
concluded their inspection, had packed up such jewels and plate as they
purposed to remove, and were going away; when, the day being late and
the weather foul, they changed their minds, and resolved to spend the
night where they were. In the evening, "the abbot," says Sir Piers,
"gathered together a great company, to the number of two or three
hundred persons, so that the commissioners were in fear of their lives,
and were fain to take a tower there; and therefrom sent a letter unto
me, ascertaining me what danger they were in, and desiring me to come
and assist them, or they were never likely to come thence. Which letter
came to me about nine of the clock, and about two o'clock on the same
night I came thither with such of my tenants as I had near about me, and
found divers fires made, as well within the gates as without; and the
said abbot had caused an ox to be killed, with other victuals, and
prepared for such of his company as he had there. I used some policy,
and came suddenly upon them. Some of them took to the pools and water,
and it was so dark that I could not find them. Howbeit I took the abbot
and three of his canons, and brought them to the king's castle of

[Sidenote: Monks under 24, and nuns under 21, set free from their vows.]

If, however, the appropriation of the jewels led to occasional
resistance, another duty which the commissioners were to discharge
secured them as often a warm and eager welcome. It was believed that the
monastic institutions had furnished an opportunity, in many quarters,
for the disposal of inconvenient members of families. Children of both
sexes, it was thought, had been forced into abbeys and convents at an
age too young to have allowed them a free choice in the sacrifice of
their lives. To all such, therefore, the doors of their prison house
were thrown open. On the day of visitation, when the brethren, or the
sisterhood, were assembled, the visitors informed everywhere such monks
as were under twenty-four, and such nuns as were under twenty-one, that
they might go where they pleased. To those among them who preferred to
return to the world, a secular dress was given, and forty shillings in
money, and they were restored to the full privileges of the laity.

[Sidenote: The monks at Fordham petition for release.]

The opportunity so justly offered was passionately embraced. It was
attended only with this misfortune, that the line was arbitrarily drawn,
and many poor wretches who found themselves condemned by the accident of
a few more days or months of life to perpetual imprisonment, made
piteous entreaties for an extension of the terms of freedom. At Fordham,
in Cambridgeshire, Dr. Legh wrote to Cromwell, "the religious persons
kneeling on their knees, instantly with humble petition desire of God
and the king and you, to be dismissed from their religion, saying they
live in it contrary to God's law and their consciences; trusting that
the king, of his gracious goodness, and you, will set them at liberty
out of their bondage, which they are not able to endure, but should
fall into desperation, or else run away." "It were a deed of charity,"
he continued, fresh from the scene where he had witnessed the full
misery of their condition, "that they might live in that kind of living
which might be most to the glory of God, the quietness of their
consciences, and most to the commonwealth, _whosoever hath informed you
to the contrary_."[510] Similar expressions of sympathy are frequent in
the visitors' letters. Sometimes the poor monks sued directly to the
vicar-general, and Cromwell must have received many petitions as
strange, as helpless, and as graphic, as this which follows. The writer
was a certain Brother Beerley, a Benedictine monk of Pershore, in
Worcestershire. It is amusing to find him addressing the vicar-general
as his "most reverend lord in God." I preserve the spelling, which,
however, will with some difficulty be found intelligible.

[Sidenote: Letter of a monk of Pershore to Cromwell.]

"We do nothing seyrch," says this good brother, "for the doctryn of
Chryst, but all fowloys owr owne sensyaly and plesure. Also most gracyus
Lord, there is a secrett thynge in my conchons whych doth move mee to go
owt of the relygyon, an yt were never so perfytt, whych no man may know
but my gostly fader; the wych I supposs yf a man mothe guge [is] yn
other yong persons as in me selfe. But Chryst saye _nolite judicare et
non judicabimini_, therefore y wyll guge my nowne conschons fyrst--the
wych fault ye shall know of me heyrafter more largyously--and many other
fowll vycys done amonckst relygyus men--not relygyus men, as y thynck
they owt not to be cald, but dyssemblars wyth God.

"Now, most gracyus Lord and most worthyst vycytar that ever cam amonckes
us, help me owt of thys vayne relygyon, and macke me your servant
handmayd and beydman, and save my sowlle, wych shold be lost yf ye helpe
yt not--the wych ye may save wyth one word speking--and mayck me wych am
nowe nawtt to cum unto grace and goodness.

"Now y wyll ynstrux your Grace sumwatt of relygyus men, and how the
Kyng's Gracis commandment is keyp yn puttyng forth of bockys the
Beyschatt of Rome's userpt pour. Monckes drynke an bowll after collatyon
tyll ten or twelve of the clok, and cum to matyns as dronck as myss--and
sum at cardys, sum at dycys, and at tabulles; sum cum to mattyns
begenying at the mydes, and sum wen yt ys almost dun, and wold not cum
there so only for boddly punyshment, nothyng for Goddis sayck. Also
abbettes, monckes, prests, dun lyttyl or nothyng to put owtte of bockys
the Beyschatt of Rome's name--for y myself do know yn dyvers bockys
where ys name ys, and hys userpt powor upon us[511]."

In reply to these and similar evidences of the state of the monasteries,
it will be easy to say, that in the best ages there were monks impatient
of their vows, and abbots negligent of their duties; that human weakness
and human wickedness may throw a stain over the noblest institutions;
that nothing is proved by collecting instances which may be merely
exceptions, and that no evidence is more fallacious than that which
rests upon isolated facts.

It is true; and the difficulty is felt as keenly by the accuser who
brings forward charges which it is discreditable to have urged, if they
cannot be substantiated, as by those who would avail themselves of the
easy opening to evade the weight of the indictment. I have to say only,
that if the extracts which I have made lead persons disposed to differ
with me to examine the documents which are extant upon the subject, they
will learn what I have concealed as well as what I have alleged; and I
believe that, if they begin the inquiry (as I began it myself) with
believing that the religious orders had been over-hardly judged, they
will close it with but one desire--that the subject shall never more be

[Sidenote: New regulations enforced by the commissioners.]

Leaving, then, the moral condition in which the visitors found these
houses, we will now turn to the regulations which they were directed to
enforce for the future. When the investigation at each of the houses had
been completed, when the young monks and nuns had been dismissed, the
accounts audited, the property examined, and the necessary inquiries had
been made into the manners and habits of the establishment, the
remaining fraternity were then assembled in the chapter-house, and the
commissioners delivered to them their closing directions. No differences
were made between the orders. The same language was used everywhere. The
statute of supremacy was first touched upon; and the injunction was
repeated for the detailed observance of it. Certain broad rules of moral
obedience were then laid down, to which all "religious" men without
exception were expected to submit.[512]

[Sidenote: The monks confined within walls.]

No monks, thenceforward, were to leave the precincts of the monastery to
which they belonged, under any pretext; they were to confine themselves
within the walls, to the house, the gardens, and the grounds.

[Sidenote: No women to be admitted within the precincts.]

[Sidenote: The brethren to dine together in hall, gravely and decently.]

No women were to come within the walls, without licence from the king or
the visitor; and, to prevent all unpermitted ingress or egress, private
doors and posterns were to be walled up. There was, in future, to be but
one entrance only, by the great foregate; and this was to be diligently
watched by a porter. The "brethren" were to take their meals decently in
the common hall. They were not to clamour, as they had been in the habit
of doing, "for any certain, usual, or accustomed portion of meat;" but
were to be content with what was set before them, giving thanks to God.

To ensure gravity and decency, one of the brethren, at every refection,
was to read aloud a chapter of the Old or New Testament.

The abbot was "to keep an honest and hospitable table;" and an almoner
was to be appointed in each house, to collect the broken meats, and to
distribute them among the deserving poor.

[Sidenote: Valiant, mighty, and idle beggars no longer to be supported.]

Special care was to be taken in this last article, and "_by no means
should such alms be given to valiant, mighty, and idle beggars and
vagabonds, such as commonly use to resort to such places; which rather
as drove beasts and mychers should be driven away and compelled to
labour, than in their idleness and lewdness be cherished and maintained,
to the great hindrance and damage of the commonweal_."

All other alms and distributions, either prescribed by the statutes of
the foundations, or established by the customs of the abbeys, were to be
made and given as largely as at any past time.

The abbots were to make no waste of the woods or lands. They were to
keep their accounts with an annual audit, faithfully and truly.

No fairs nor markets were any more to be held within the precincts.[513]

Every monk was to have a separate bed, and not to have any child or boy
lying with him, or otherwise haunting unto him.

The "brethren" were to occupy themselves in daily reading or other
honest and laudable exercises. Especially there was to be every day one
general lesson in Holy Scripture, at which every member of the house was
bound to be present.

[Sidenote: Some portion of the rule which the monks have professed shall
every day be read to them.]

Finally, that they might all understand the meaning of their position in
the world, and the intention, which they had so miserably forgotten, of
the foundations to which they belonged, the abbot, prior, or president,
was every day to explain in English some of the portion of the rule
which they had professed; "applying the same always to the doctrine of
Christ." The language of the injunctions is either Cromwell's or the
king's; and the passage upon this subject is exceedingly beautiful.

"The abbot shall teach them that the said rule, and other their
principles of religion (so far as they be laudable), be taken out of
Holy Scripture: and he shall shew them the places from whence they be
derived: and that their ceremonies and other observances be none other
things than as the first letters or principles, and certain
introductions to true Christianity: and that true religion is not
contained in apparel, manner of going, shaven heads, and such other
marks; nor in silence, fasting, uprising in the night, singing, and
such other kind of ceremonies; but in cleanness of mind, pureness of
living, Christ's faith not feigned, and brotherly charity, and true
honouring of God in spirit and verity: and that those abovesaid things
were instituted and begun, that they being first exercised in these, in
process of time might ascend to those as by certain steps--that is to
say, to the chief point and end of religion. And therefore, let them be
exhorted that they do not continually stick and surcease in such
ceremonies and observances, as though they had perfectly fulfilled the
chief and outmost of the whole of true religion; but that when they have
once passed such things, they should endeavour themselves after higher
things, and convert their minds from such external matters to more
inward and deeper considerations, as the law of God and Christian
religion doth teach and shew: and that they assure not themselves of any
reward or commodity by reason of such ceremonies and observances, except
they refer all such to Christ, and for his sake observe them."[514]

Certainly, no government which intended to make the irregularities of an
institution an excuse for destroying it, ever laboured more assiduously
to defeat its own objects. Those who most warmly disapprove of the
treatment of the monasteries have so far no reason to complain; and
except in the one point of the papal supremacy, under which, be it
remembered, the religious orders had luxuriated in corruption, Becket or
Hildebrand would scarcely have done less or more than what had as yet
been attempted by Henry.

[Sidenote: 1536. Parliament meets for its last session.]

[Sidenote: February. Preliminary measures.]

[Sidenote: The commissioners present their report.]

But the time had now arrived when the results of the investigation were
to be submitted to the nation. The parliament--the same old parliament
of 1529, which had commenced the struggle with the bishops--was now
meeting for its last session, to deal with this its greatest and
concluding difficulty. It assembled on the 4th of February, and the
preliminaries of the great question being not yet completed, the Houses
were first occupied with simplifying justice and abolishing the obsolete
privileges of the Northern palatinates.[515] Other minor matters were
also disposed of. Certain questionable people, who were taking advantage
of the confusion of the times to "withhold tythes," were animadverted
upon.[516] The treason law was further extended to comprehend the
forging of the king's sign-manual, signet, and privy seal, "divers light
and evil-disposed persons having of late had the courage to commit such
offences." The scale of fees at the courts of law was fixed by
statute;[517] and felons having protection of sanctuary were no longer
to be permitted to leave the precincts, and return at their pleasure.
When they went abroad, they were to wear badges, declaring who and what
they were; and they were to be within bounds after sunset. In these and
similar regulations the early weeks of the session were consumed. At
length the visitors had finished their work, and the famous _Black Book_
of the monasteries was laid on the table of the House of Commons.

This book, I have said, unhappily no longer exists. Persons however who
read it have left on record emphatic descriptions of its contents; and
the preamble of the act of parliament of which it formed the foundation,
dwells upon its character with much distinctness. I cannot discuss the
insoluble question whether the stories which it contained were true.
History is ill occupied with discussing probabilities on _à priori_
grounds, when the scale of likelihood is graduated by antecedent
prejudice. It is enough that the report was drawn up by men who had the
means of knowing the truth, and who were apparently under no temptation
to misrepresent what they had seen; that the description coincides with
the authentic letters of the visitors; and that the account was
generally accepted as true by the English parliament.

[Sidenote: Two thirds of the monks are living in habits which may not be

It appeared, then, on this authority, that two-thirds of the monks in
England were living in habits which may not be described. The facts were
related in great detail. The confessions of parties implicated were
produced, signed by their own hands.[518] The vows were not observed.
The lands were wasted, sold, and mortgaged. The foundations were
incomplete. The houses were falling to waste; within and without, the
monastic system was in ruins. In the smaller abbeys especially, where,
from the limitation of numbers, the members were able to connive
securely at each other's misdemeanours, they were saturated with
profligacy, with Simony, with drunkenness.[519] The case against the
monasteries was complete; and there is no occasion either to be
surprised or peculiarly horrified at the discovery. The demoralization
which was exposed was nothing less and nothing more than the condition
into which men of average nature compelled to celibacy, and living as
the exponents of a system which they disbelieved, were certain to fall.

[Sidenote: A great debate in the House.]

There were exceptions. In the great monasteries, or in many of them,
there was decency and honourable management; but when all the
establishments, large and small, had been examined, a third only could
claim to be exempted from the darkest schedule. This was the burden of
the report which was submitted to the legislature. So long as the extent
of the evil was unknown, it could be tolerated; when it had been exposed
to the world, honour and justice alike required a stronger remedy than
an archiepiscopal remonstrance. A "great debate" followed.[520] The
journals of the session are lost, and we cannot replace the various
arguments; but there was not a member of either House who was not
connected, either by personal interest, or by sacred associations, with
one or other of the religious houses; there was not one whose own
experience could not test in some degree the accuracy of the _Black
Book_; and there was no disposition to trifle with institutions which
were the cherished dependencies of the great English families.

[Sidenote: March. Difficulty of arriving at a resolution.]

[Sidenote: Conflicting interests. The representatives of the founders.]

[Sidenote: Divided opinion of the Reformers.]

[Sidenote: Latimer, and Knox after him, desired to preserve and reform.]

[Sidenote: Crammer opposed to ecclesiastical corporations under any

[Sidenote: Cranmer more right than Latimer, as experience has proved.]

[Sidenote: The instincts of the laity guide them truly.]

The instincts of conservatism, association, sympathy, respect for
ancient bequests, and a sense of the sacredness of property set apart
for holy uses, and guarded by anathemas, all must have been against a
dissolution; yet, so far as we can supply the loss of the journals from
other accounts of the feeling of the time, there seems to have been
neither hope nor desire of preserving the old system--of preserving the
houses, that is, collectively under their existing statutes as
foundations in themselves inviolate. The visitation had been commenced
with a hope that extremities might still be avoided. But all expectation
of this kind vanished before the fatal evidence which had been produced.
The House of Commons had for a century and a half been familiar with the
thought of suppression as a possible necessity. The time was come when,
if not suppression, yet some analogous measure had become imperative.
The smaller establishments, at least, could not and might not continue.
Yet while, so far, there was general agreement, it was no easy matter to
resolve upon a satisfactory remedy. The representatives of the founders
considered that, if houses were suppressed which had been established
out of estates which had belonged to their forefathers, those estates
should revert to the heirs, or at least, that the heirs should recover
them upon moderate terms.[521] In the Reforming party there was
difference of opinion on the legality of secularizing property which had
been given to God. Latimer, and partially Cromwell, inherited the
designs of Wolsey; instead of taking away from the church the lands of
the abbeys, they were desirous of seeing those lands transferred to the
high and true interests of religion. They wished to convert the houses
into places of education, and to reform, wherever possible, the
ecclesiastical bodies themselves.[522] This, too, was the dream, the
"devout imagination," as it was called, of Knox, in Scotland, as it has
been since the dream of many other good men who have not rightly
understood why the moment at which the church was washed clean from its
stains, and came out fresh robed in the wedding-garment of purity,
should have been chosen to strip it of its resources, and depose it from
power and preëminence. Cranmer, on the other hand, less imaginative but
more practical, was reluctant that clerical corporations should be
continued under any pretext--even under the mild form of cathedral
chapters. Cranmer desired to see the secular system of the church made
as efficient as possible; the religious system, in its technical sense,
he believed to have become a nursery of idleness, and believed that no
measures of reform could restore the old tone to institutions which the
world had outgrown.[523] In the present age it will perhaps be
considered that Cranmer's sagacity was more right than Latimer's
enthusiasm, however at the moment men's warmer instincts might seem to
have pleaded for the latter. The subsequent history both of the Scotch
and English church permits the belief that neither would have been
benefited by the possession of larger wealth than was left to them. A
purer doctrine has not corrected those careless and questionable habits
in the management of property which were exposed by the visitors of
1535. Whether the cause of the phenomenon lies in an indifference to the
things of the world, or in the more dubious palliation that successive
incumbents have only a life-interest in their incomes, the experience of
three centuries has proved the singular unfitness of spiritual persons
for the administration of secular trusts; and the friends of the
establishment may be grateful that the judgment of the English laity
ultimately guided them to this conclusion. They were influenced, it is
likely, by a principle which they showed rather in their deeds than in
their words. They would not recognise any longer the distinction on
which the claims of the abbeys were rested. Property given to God, it
was urged, might not be again taken from God, but must remain for ever
in his service. It was replied in substance that God's service was not
divided, but one; that all duties honestly done were religious duties;
that the person of the layman was as sacred as the person of the priest;
and the liturgy of obedience as acceptable as the liturgy of words.

[Sidenote: Necessity of caution.]

[Sidenote: Aversion of English statesmen to sweeping measures.]

Yet if, in the end, men found their way clearly, they moved towards it
with slow steps; and the first resolution at which they arrived embodied
partially the schemes of each of the honest reformers. In touching
institutions with which the feelings of the nation were deeply
connected, prudence and principle alike dictated caution. However
bitterly the people might exclaim against the abbeys while they
continued to stand, their faults, if they were destroyed, would soon be
forgotten. Institutions which had been rooted in the country for so many
centuries, retained a hold too deep to be torn away without wounding a
thousand associations; and a reaction of regret would inevitably follow
among men so conservative as the English, so possessed with reverence
for the old traditions of their fathers. This was to be considered; or
rather the parliament, the crown, and the council felt as the people
felt. Vast as the changes were which had been effected, there had been
as yet no sweeping measures. At each successive step, Henry had never
moved without reluctance. He hated anarchy; he hated change: in the true
spirit of an Englishman, he never surrendered an institution or a
doctrine till every means had been exhausted of retaining it,
consistently with allegiance to truth. The larger monasteries,
therefore, with many of the rest, had yet four years allowed them to
demonstrate the hopelessness of their amendment, the impossibility of
their renovation. The remainder were to reap the consequences of their
iniquities; and the judicial sentence was pronounced at last in a spirit
as rational as ever animated the English legislature.

[Sidenote: Act for the Dissolution of the smaller houses. Forasmuch as
religious persons in the little abbeys are living in manifest sin,]

[Sidenote: To the displeasure of God and the great infamy of the realm;]

[Sidenote: And forasmuch as reformation is seen to be hopeless,]

[Sidenote: It is believed that God will be better pleased to see the
possessions of such houses, now wasted in evil living, applied to better

"Forasmuch," says the preamble of the Act of Dissolution, "as manifest
sin, vicious, carnal, and abominable living, is daily used and committed
among the little and small abbeys, priories, and other religious houses
of monks, canons, and nuns, where the congregation or such religious
persons is under the number of twelve, whereby the governors of such
religious houses and their convents, spoil, consume, destroy, and
utterly waste their churches, monasteries, principal houses, farms, and
granges, to the high displeasure pleasure of Almighty God, the slander
of true religion, and to the great infamy of the King's Highness and of
the realm, if redress should not be had thereof; and albeit that many
continual visitations hath been heretofore had by the space of two
hundred years and more, for an honest and charitable reformation of such
unthrifty, carnal, and abominable living; yet nevertheless, little or
none amendment is hitherto had, but their vicious living shamelessly
increaseth and augmenteth, and by a cursed custom is so rooted and
infested, that a great multitude of the religious persons in such small
houses do rather choose to rove abroad in apostacy than to conform them
to the observation of true religion; so that without such small houses
be utterly suppressed, and the religious persons therein committed to
great and honourable monasteries of religion in this realm, where they
may be compelled to live religiously for the reformation of their lives,
there can be no reformation in this behalf: in consideration hereof the
King's most royal Majesty, being supreme head on earth, under God, of
the Church of England, daily finding and devising the increase,
advancement, and exaltation, of true doctrine and virtue in the said
Church, to the only glory of God, and the total extirping and
destruction of vice and sin; having knowledge that the premises be true,
as well by accounts of his late visitation as by sundry credible
informations; considering also that divers great monasteries of this
realm, wherein, thanks be to God, religion is right well kept and
observed, be destitute of such full number of religious persons as they
ought and may keep; hath thought good that a plain declaration should be
made of the premises, as well to the Lords Spiritual and Temporal as to
other his loving subjects the Commons in this present parliament
assembled. Whereupon, the said Lords and Commons, by a great
deliberation, finally be resolved that it is and shall be much more to
the pleasure of Almighty God, and for the honour of this His realm, that
the possessions of such spiritual houses, now spent, and spoiled, and
wasted for increase and maintenance of sin, should be converted to
better uses; and the unthrifty religious persons so spending the same be
compelled to reform their lives."[524]

[Sidenote: The lands of all having less than 200_l._ a-year to be given
to the king. The monks either to be distributed among the larger houses,
or to be pensioned off, to live honestly abroad.]

[Sidenote: The few houses reputed clear may be reëstablished by the

The parliament went on to declare, that the lands of all monasteries the
incomes of which were less than two hundred pounds a-year, should be
"given to the king."[525] The monks were either to be distributed in the
great abbeys, "or to be dismissed with a permission," if they desired
it, "to live honestly and virtuously abroad." "Some convenient charity"
was to be allowed them for their living; and the chief head or governor
was to have "such pension as should be commensurate with his degree or
quality."[526] All debts, whether of the houses or of the brothers
individually, were to be carefully paid; and finally, one more clause
was added, sufficient in itself to show the temper in which the
suppression had been resolved upon. The visitors had reported a few of
the smaller abbeys as free from stain. The king was empowered, at his
discretion, to permit them to survive; and under this permission
thirty-two houses were refounded _in perpetuam eleemosynam_.[527]

This is the history of the first suppression of the monasteries under
Henry VIII. We regret the depravity by which it was occasioned; but the
measure itself, in the absence of any preferable alternative, was
bravely and wisely resolved. In the general imperfection of human
things, no measure affecting the interests of large bodies of men was
ever yet devised which has not pressed unequally, and is not in some
respects open to objection. We can but choose the best among many
doubtful courses, when we would be gladly spared, if we might be spared,
from choosing at all.

[Sidenote: The laity only see their way clearly.]

[Sidenote: Unwisdom of the Protestant bishops.]

In this great transaction, it is well to observe that the laity alone
saw their way clearly. The majority of the bishops, writhing under the
inhibitions, looked on in sullen acquiescence, submitting in a forced
conformity, and believing, not without cause, that a tide which flowed
so hotly would before long turn and ebb back again. Among the Reforming
clergy there was neither union nor prudence; and the Protestants, in the
sudden sunshine, were becoming unmanageable and extravagant. On the
bench there were but four prelates who were on the moving
side,--Cranmer, Latimer, Shaxton, and Barlow,[528]--and among these
Cranmer only approved the policy of the government. Shaxton was an
arrogant braggart, and Barlow a feeble enthusiast. Shaxton, who had
flinched from the stake when Bilney was burnt, Shaxton, who
subsequently relapsed under Mary, and became himself a Romanist
persecutor, was now strutting in his new authority, and punishing,
suspending, and inhibiting in behalf of Protestant doctrines which were
not yet tolerated by the law.[529] Barlow had been openly preaching that
purgatory was a delusion; that a layman might be a bishop; that where
two or three, it might be, "cobblers or weavers," "were in company in
the name of God, there was the church of God."[530] Such ill-judged
precipitancy was of darker omen to the Reformation than papal
excommunications or imperial menaces, and would soon be dearly paid for
in fresh martyr-fires. Latimer, too, notwithstanding his clear
perception and gallant heart, looked with bitterness on the confiscation
of establishments which his mind had pictured to him as garrisoned with
a Reforming army, as nurseries of apostles of the truth. Like most
fiery-natured men, he was ill-pleased to see the stream flowing in a
channel other than that which he had marked for it; and the state of his
feeling, and the state of the English world, with all its confused
imaginings, in these months, is described with some distinctness in a
letter written by a London curate to the Mayor of Plymouth, on the 13th
of March, 1535-36, while the bill for the suppression of the abbeys was
in progress through parliament.

[Sidenote: Letter of a London curate to the Mayor of Plymouth.]

[Sidenote: Vision of the Trinity by Dr. Crewkhorne.]

"Right Worshipful,--On the morrow after that Master Hawkins departed
from hence, I, having nothing to do, as an idler went to Lambeth to the
bishop's palace, to see what news; and I took a wherry at Paul's Wharf,
wherein also was already a doctor named Crewkhorne, which was sent for
to come to the Bishop of Canterbury. And he, before the three Bishops of
Canterbury, Worcester, and Salisbury, confessed that he was rapt into
heaven, where he saw the Trinity sitting in a pall or mantle or cope of
blew colour; and from the middle upward they were three bodies, and from
the middle downward were they closed all three into one body. And he
spake with Our Lady, and she took him by the hand, and bade him serve
her as he had done in time past; and bade him preach abroad that she
would be honoured at Ipswich and Willesdon as she hath been in old

[Sidenote: March 13.]

"On Tuesday in Ember week, the Bishop of Rochester[531] came to Crutched
Friars, and inhibited a doctor and three or four more to near
confession; and so in Cardmaker and other places. Then the Bishop of
London's apparitor came and railed on the other bishops, and said that
he, nor no such as he, shall have jurisdiction within his Lord's
precincts. Then was the Bishop of London sent for to make answer; but he
was sick and might not come. On Friday, the clergy sat on it in
Convocation House a long time, and left off till another day; and in the
meantime, all men that have taken loss or wrong at his hands, must bring
in their bills, and shall have recompence.

[Sidenote: Latimer preaches at Paul's Cross, and is disrespectful to
persons in authority.]

"On Sunday last, the Bishop of Worcester preached at Paul's Cross, and
he said that bishops, abbots, priors, parsons, canons, resident priests,
and all, were strong thieves; yea, dukes, lords, and all. The king,
quoth he, made a marvellous good act of parliament, that certain men
should sow every of them two acres of hemp; but it were all too little,
even if so much more, to hang the thieves that be in England. Bishops,
abbots, with such others, should not have so many servants, nor so many
dishes; but to go to their first foundation; and keep hospitality to
feed the needy people--not jolly fellows, with golden chains and velvet
gowns; ne let these not once come into houses of religion for repast.
Let them call knave bishop, knave abbot, knave prior, yet feed none of
them all, nor their horses, nor their dogs. Also, to eat flesh and white
meat in Lent, so it be done without hurting weak consciences, and
without sedition; and likewise on Fridays and all days.

[Sidenote: What Cranmer will do with the unpreaching friars.]

"The Bishop of Canterbury saith that the King's Grace is at full point
for friars and chauntry priests, that they shall away all, saving them
that can preach. Then one said to the bishop, that they had good trust
that they should serve forth their life-times; and he said they should
serve it out at a cart, then, for any other service they should have by

The concluding paragraph of this letter is of still greater interest. It
refers to the famous Vagrant Act, of which I have spoken in the first
chapter of this work.[532]

[Sidenote: The Vagrant Act the first fruits of the suppression.]

"On Saturday in the Ember week, the King's Grace came in among the
burgesses of the parliament, and delivered them a bill, and bade them
look upon it, and weigh it in conscience; for he would not, he said,
have them pass either it or any other thing because his Grace giveth in
the bill; but they to see if it be for the commonweal of his subjects,
and have an eye thitherwards; and on Wednesday next he will be there
again to hear their minds. There shall be a proviso made for the poor
people. The gaols shall be rid; the faulty shall die; and the others
shall be rid by proclamation or by jury, and shall be set at liberty,
and pay no fees. Sturdy beggars and such prisoners as cannot be set at
work, shall be set at work at the king's charge; some at Dover, and some
at places where the water hath broken over the lands. Then, if they fall
to idleness, the idler shall be had before a justice of the peace, and
his fault written. If he be taken idle again in another place, he shall
be known where his dwelling is; and so at the second mention he shall be
burned in the hand; and if he fail the third time, he shall die for

[Sidenote: The penal clauses of this statute.]

The king, as it appeared, had now the means at his disposal to find work
for the unemployed; and the lands bequeathed for the benefit of the poor
were reapplied, under altered forms, to their real intention. The
antithesis which we sometimes hear between the charity of the
monasteries--which relieved poverty for the love of God--and the worldly
harshness of a poor-law, will not endure inspection. The monasteries,
which had been the support of "valiant beggary," had long before
transferred to the nation the maintenance of the impotent and the
deserving; and the resumption of an abused trust was no more than the
natural consequence of their dishonesty. I have already discussed[534]
the penal clauses of this act, and I need not enter again upon that
much-questioned subject. Never, however, at any period, were the
labouring classes in England more generously protected than in the reign
of Henry VIII.; never did any government strain the power of legislation
more resolutely in their favour; and, I suppose, they would not
themselves object to the reënactment of Henry's penalties against
dishonesty, if they might have with them the shelter of Henry's laws.

[Sidenote: Payment of firstfruits remitted to the Universities.]

The session was drawing to an end. At the close of it, the government
gave one more proof of their goodwill toward any portion of the church
establishment which showed signs of being alive. Duns Scotus being
disposed of in Bocardo, the idle residents being driven away, or
compelled to employ themselves, and the professors' lectures having
recovered their energy, there were hopes of good from Oxford and
Cambridge; and the king conceded for them what the pope had never
conceded, when the power rested with the See of Rome: he remitted
formally by statute the tenths and firstfruits, which the colleges had
paid in common with all other church corporations. "His Majesty is
conscious," says the act which was passed on this occasion,[535] that
the enforcing of the payment of firstfruits against the universities,
"may prejudice learning, and cause the students to give their minds to
other things, which might not be acceptable to God;" and "he has
conceived such hearty love and tender affection to the continuance of
honest and virtuous living, and of the arts and sciences (wherewith it
hath pleased Almighty God abundantly to endow his Highness), as that his
Grace cannot compare the same to any law, constitution, or statute; nor
tolerate any such ordinance, though the commodity and benefit thereof
should never so much redound to his own profit or pleasure, if it may
hinder the advancement and setting forth of the lively word of God,
wherewith his people must be fed; or if it may imperil the knowledge of
such other good letters as in Christian realms is expedient to be
learned. He has therefore,--(for that the students should the more
gladly bend their wits to the attaining of learning, and, before all
things, the learning of the wholesome doctrines of Almighty God, and the
three tongues, Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, which be requisite for the
understanding of Scripture,)--thought it convenient" to exonerate the
universities from the payment of firstfruits for ever.

[Sidenote: April 4. Dissolution of the parliament, and summary of its

So closed the first great parliament of the Reformation, which was now
dissolved. The Lower House is known to us only as an abstraction. The
debates are lost; and the details of its proceedings are visible only in
faint transient gleams. We have an epitome of two sessions in the Lords'
Journals; but even this partial assistance fails us with the Commons;
and the Lords in this matter were a body of secondary moment. The Lords
had ceased to be the leaders of the English people; they existed as an
ornament rather than a power; and under the direction of the council
they followed as the stream drew them, when individually, if they had so
dared, they would have chosen a far other course. The work was done by
the Commons; by them the first move was made; by them and the king the
campaign was carried through to victory. And this one body of men, dim
as they now seem to us, who assembled on the wreck of the administration
of Wolsey, had commenced and had concluded a revolution which had
reversed the foundations of the State. They found England in dependency
upon a foreign power; they left it a free nation. They found it under
the despotism of a church establishment saturated with disease; and they
had bound the hands of that establishment; they had laid it down under
the knife, and carved away its putrid members; and stripping off its
Nessus robe of splendour and power, they had awakened in it some forced
remembrance of its higher calling. The elements of a far deeper change
were seething; a change, not in the disposition of outward authority,
but in the beliefs and convictions which touched the life of the soul.
This was yet to come; and the work so far was but the initial step or
prelude leading up to the more solemn struggle. Yet where the enemy who
is to be conquered is strong, not in vital force, but in the prestige of
authority, and in the enchanted defences of superstition, those truly
win the battle who strike the first blow, who deprive the idol of its
terrors by daring to defy it.


[480] The English archbishops were embarrassed by the statutes of
provisors in applying for plenary powers to Rome. If they accepted
commissions they accepted them at their peril, and were compelled to
caution in their manner of proceeding.

[481] 27 Hen. VIII. cap. 28. The statute says that many visitations had
been made in the two hundred years preceding the Reformation, but had
failed wholly of success.

[482] To enter "religion" was the technical expression for taking the

[483] A summary of the condition of the Religious Houses, in the Cotton
Library, Cleopatra, E 4; MS. Letters of the Visitors, in the same
collection; three volumes of the correspondence of Richard Layton with
Cromwell, in the State Paper Office; and the reports of the Visitations
of 1489 and 1511, in the _Registers_ of Archbishops Morton and Warham.
For printed authorities, see _Suppression of the Monasteries_, published
by the Camden Society; Strype's _Memorials_, Vol. I., Appendix; Fuller's
_Ecclesiastical History_; and Wilkins's _Concilia_, Vol. III.

[484] At Tewkesbury, where there was an abbot and thirty-two monks, I
find payment made to a hundred and forty-four servants in livery, who
were wholly engaged in the service of the abbey.--Particulars relating
to the Dissolution of the Monasteries, section 5: Burnet's
_Collectanea_, p. 86.

[485] See the Directions to the Visitors: Burnet's _Collectanea_, p, 74.

[486] See, for instance, _Suppression of the Monasteries_, p. 86.

[487] "In a parliament held at Leicester, in 1414, the priories alien in
England were given to the king; all their possessions to remain to the
king and to his heirs for ever. And these priories were suppressed, to
the number of more than a hundred houses."--Stow's _Chronicle_, p. 345.

[488] The commission is in Morton's _Register_, MS., Lambeth Library.

[489] Morton's _Register_, MS., Lambeth.

[490] Warham's _Register_, MS., Lambeth.

[491] Ibid.

[492] See Injunctions to the Clergy: Foxe, Vol. V. p. 165.

[493] Burnet's _Collectanea_, p. 74.

[494] Strype's _Ecclesiastical Memorials_, Vol. I., Appendix, p. 214.

[495] Legh to Cromwell, Sept. 24th: Strype's _Ecclesiastical Memorials_,
Vol. I., Appendix, p. 216.--_Cotton. MS._ Cleopatra, E 4, fol. 225.

[496] 28 Hen. VIII. cap. 13.

[497] Ibid.

[498] That is, the exhibitioners sent up to the university from the

[499] Strype, _Memorials_, Vol. I. p. 323. Leyton to Cromwell:
_Suppression of the Monasteries_, p. 71, et seq.

[500] Id quod meis oculis vidi, Leyton writes: Ibid.

[501] Leyton to Cromwell: _Suppression of the Monasteries_, p. 71, et

[502] Leyton to Cromwell: _Suppression of the Monasteries_, p. 48. Let
it not be thought that the papal party were worse than the other. The
second confessor, if anything the more profligate of the two, gave his
services to the king.

[503] The prior is an holy man, and hath but six children; and but one
daughter married yet of the goods of the monastery. His sons be tall
men, waiting upon him.--Leyton to Cromwell: _Suppression of the
Monasteries_, p. 58.

[504] I leave this passage as it stands. The acquittal of the papal
courts of actual complicity becomes, however, increasingly difficult to
me. I discovered among the MSS. in the Rolls House a list of eighteen
clergy and laymen in one diocese who had, or professed to have
dispensations to keep concubines.--Note to Second Edition.

[505] Leyton to Cromwell: _Suppression of the Monasteries_, pp. 75, 76.

[506] Leyton to Cromwell: _Suppression of the Monasteries_, p. 91.

[507] Leyton and Legh to Cromwell: _Suppression of the Monasteries_, p.

[508] Christopher Levyns to Cromwell: Ibid. p. 90. But in this instance
I doubt the truth of the charge.

[509] Sir Piers Dutton to the Lord Chancellor: Ellis, third series. Vol.
III. p. 42.

[510] Legh to Cromwell: _Suppression of the Monasteries_, p. 82. The
last words are curious, as implying that Cromwell, who is always
supposed to have urged upon the king the dissolution of the abbeys and
the marriage of the clergy, at this time inclined the other way.

[511] Richard Beerley to Cromwell: _Suppression of the Monasteries_, p.

[512] These rules must be remembered. The impossibility of enforcing
obedience to them was the cause of the ultimate resolution to break up
the system.

[513] At one time fairs and markets were held in churchyards.--Stat.
Wynton., 13 Ed. I. cap. 6.

[514] A General Injunctions to be given on the King's Highness's behalf,
in all Monasteries and other houses of whatsoever order or religion they
be: Burnet's _Collectanea_, p. 77.

[515] 27 & 28 Hen. VIII. cap. 24

[516] Ibid. cap. 20.

[517] Ibid. cap. 9.

[518] Strype's _Memorials_, Vol. I. p. 387; _Suppression of the
Monasteries_, p. 114.

[519] When their enormities were first read in the parliament house,
they were so great and abominable that there was nothing but "Down with
them!"--Latimer's _Sermons_, p. 123.

[520] 27 Hen. VIII. cap. 28.

[521] Many letters from country gentlemen to this effect are in the
collection made by Sir Henry Ellis.

[522] Latimer at first even objected to monks leaving their profession.
Speaking of racking Scripture, he says, "I myself have been one of them
that hath racked it; and the text, 'He that putteth his hand to the
plough and looketh back,' I have believed and expounded against
religious persons that would forsake their order, and would go out of
their cloyster."--_Sermons_, p. 60. We find him entreating Cromwell to
prevent the suppression of Great Malvern, and begging that it may be
allowed to remain,--"Not in monkery, but any other ways as should seem
good to the King's Majesty, as to maintain teaching, preaching, study,
with praying and good housekeeping."--_Suppression of the Monasteries_,
p. 149. Late in his life, under Edw. VI., he alluded bitterly to the
decay of education, and the misuse of the appropriated abbey
lands.--_Sermons_, p. 291.

[523] "This is my consideration; for having experience, both in times
past and also in our days, how the sect of prebendaries have not only
spent their time in much idleness, and their substance in superfluous
belly cheer, I think it not to be a convenient state or degree to be
maintained and established: considering that commonly a prebendary is
neither a learner nor teacher, but a good viander."--Cranmer to
Cromwell, on the New Foundation at Canterbury: Burnet's _Collectanea_,
p. 498.

[524] 27 Hen. VIII. cap. 28.

[525] Either to be held under the Crown itself for purposes of State, or
to be granted out as fiefs among the nobles and gentlemen of England,
under such conditions as should secure the discharge of those duties
which by the laws were attached to landed tenures.

[526] The monks generally were allowed from four to eight pounds a-year
being the income of an ordinary parish priest. The principals in many
cases had from seventy to eighty pounds a-year.

[527] Burnet's _Collectanea_, p. 80.

[528] In the autumn of 1535 Latimer had been made Bishop of Worcester,
Shaxton of Salisbury, and Barlow of St. David's.

[529] Strype's _Memorials_, Vol. I., Appendix, p. 222; Burnet's
_Collectanea_, p. 92.

[530] Strype's _Memorials_, Vol. I., Appendix, p. 273.

[531] John Hilsey.

[532] 27 Hen. VIII. cap. 25.

[533] Letter of Thomas Dorset to the Mayor of Plymouth: _Suppression of
the Monasteries_, p. 36.

[534] Vol. I. chap. 1.

[535] 27 Hen. VIII. cap. 42.



The first act of the great drama appeared to have closed. No further
changes were for the present in contemplation. The church was
reëstablished under its altered constitution; and the parliament had
been dissolved under the impression that it would be unnecessary to
summon another for an indefinite time.[536] Within four weeks of the
dissolution, writs were issued for a fresh election, under the pressure
of a misfortune which is alike calamitous, under whatever aspect we
regard it; and which blotted the Reformation with a black and frightful
stain. The guilt must rest where it is due; but under any hypothesis,
guilt there was, dark, mysterious, and most miserable.

[Sidenote: Death of Queen Catherine.]

[Sidenote: January 7. Her last letter to Henry.]

The fate of Queen Catherine had by this time completed itself. She had
taken her leave of a world which she had small cause to thank for the
entertainment which it had provided for her; and she died, as she had
lived, resolute, haughty, and unbending. In the preceding October (1535)
she was in bad health; her house, she imagined, disagreed with her, and
at her own desire she was removed to Kimbolton. But there were no
symptoms of immediate danger. She revived under the change, and was in
better spirits than she had shown for many previous months, especially
after she heard of the new pope's resolution to maintain her cause.
"Much resort of people came daily to her."[537] The vexatious dispute
upon her title had been dropped, from an inability to press it; and it
seemed as if life had become at least endurable to her, if it never
could be more. But the repose was but the stillness of evening as night
is hastening down. The royal officers of the household were not admitted
into her presence; the queen lived wholly among her own friends and her
own people; she sank unperceived; and so effectually had she withdrawn
from the observation of those whom she desired to exclude, that the king
was left to learn from the Spanish ambassador that she was at the point
of death, before her chamberlain was aware that she was more than
indisposed.[538] In the last week of December Henry learnt that she was
in danger. On the 2d of January the ambassador went down from London to
Kimbolton, and spent the day with her.[539] On the 5th, Sir Edmund
Bedingfield wrote that she was very ill, and that the issue was
doubtful. On the morning of the 7th she received the last sacrament, and
at two o'clock on that day she died.[540] On her deathbed she dictated
the following letter of farewell to him whom she still called, her most
dear lord and husband.

"The hour of my death now approaching, I cannot choose but, out of the
love I bear you, advise you of your soul's health, which you ought to
prefer before all considerations of the world or flesh whatsoever; for
which yet you have cast me into many calamities, and yourself into many
troubles. But I forgive you all, and pray God to do so likewise. For the
rest I commend unto you Mary our daughter, beseeching you to be a good
father to her, as I have heretofore desired. I must entreat you also to
respect my maids, and give them in marriage, which is not much, they
being but three; and to all my other servants a year's pay besides their
due, lest otherwise they should be unprovided for. Lastly, I make this
vow, that mine eyes desire you above all things. Farewell."[541]

This letter reached Henry with the intimation that she was gone. He was
much affected, and is said to have shed tears.[542]

[Sidenote: She is buried at Peterborough, and the See of Peterborough is
founded as a memorial of her.]

The court was ordered into mourning--a command which Anne Boleyn
distinguished herself by imperfectly obeying.[543] Catherine was buried
at Peterborough, with the estate of Princess Royal;[544] and shortly
after, on the foundation of the new bishoprics, the See of Peterborough
was established in her memory. We may welcome, however late, these acts
of tardy respect.[545] Henry, in the few last years, had grown wiser in
the ways of women; and had learnt to prize more deeply the austerity of
virtue, even in its unloveliest aspect.

[Sidenote: Fall of Anne Boleyn.]

The death of Catherine was followed, four months later, by the tragedy
which I have now to relate. The ground on which I am about to tread is
so critical, and the issues at stake affect so deeply the honour of many
of our most eminent English statesmen, that I must be pardoned if I
cannot here step boldly out with a flowing narrative, but must pick my
way slowly as I can: and I, on my part, must ask my readers to move
slowly also, and be content to allow their judgment, for a few pages, to
remain in suspense.

And first, I have to say that, as with all the great events of Henry's
reign, so especially with this, we must trust to no evidence which is
not strictly contemporary. During periods of revolution, years do the
work of centuries in colouring actions and disturbing forms; and events
are transferred swiftly from the deliberation of the judgment to the
precipitate arrogance of party spirit. When the great powers of Europe
were united against Elizabeth, and when Elizabeth's own character was
vilely and wantonly assailed, the Catholic writers dipped their pens in
the stains which blotted her mother's name; and, more careless of truth
than even theological passion can excuse, they poured out over both
alike a stream of indiscriminate calumny. On the other hand, as
Elizabeth's lordly nature was the pride of all true-hearted Englishmen,
so the Reformers laboured to reflect her virtues backwards. Like the
Catholics, they linked the daughter with the parent; and became no less
extravagant in their panegyrics than their antagonists in their
gratuitous invective. But the Anne Boleyn, as she appears in
contemporary letters, is not the Anne Boleyn of Foxe, or Wyatt, or the
other champions of Protestantism, who saw in her the counterpart of her
child. These writers, though living so near to the events which they
described, yet were divided from the preceding generation by an
impassable gulf. They were surrounded with the heat and flame of a
controversy, in which public and private questions were wrapped
inseparably together; and the more closely we scrutinize their
narratives, the graver occasion there appears for doing so.

[Sidenote: Rules to be observed in judging this question.]

While, therefore, in following out this miserable subject, I decline so
much as to entertain the stories of Sanders, who has represented Queen
Anne as steeped in profligacy from her childhood, so I may not any more
accept those late memorials of her saintliness, which are alike
unsupported by the evidence of those who knew her. If Protestant legends
are admitted as of authority, the Catholic legends must enter with them,
and we shall only deepen the confusion. I cannot follow Burnet, in
reporting out of Meteren a version of Anne Boleyn's trial, unknown in
England. The subject is one on which rhetoric and rumour are alike
unprofitable. We must confine ourselves to accounts written at the time
by persons to whom not the outline of the facts only was known, but the
circumstances which surrounded them; by persons who had seen the
evidence upon the alleged offences, which, though now lost
irrecoverably, can be proved to have once existed.

[Sidenote: Difficulty of ascertaining Anne Boleyn's early character.]

We are unable, as I early observed, to form any trustworthy judgment of
Anne Boleyn before her marriage. Her education had been in the worst
school in Europe. On her return from the French court to England, we
have seen her entangled in an unintelligible connexion with Lord Percy;
and if the account sent to the Emperor was true, she was Lord Percy's
actual wife; and her conduct was so criminal as to make any
after-charges against her credible.[546]

If the Protestants, again, found in her a friend and supporter, she was
capable, as Wolsey experienced, of inveterate hatred; and although among
the Reformers she had a reputation for generosity, which is widely
confirmed,[547] yet it was exercised always in the direction in which
her interests pointed; and kindness of feeling is not incompatible,
happily, with seriously melancholy faults.

[Sidenote: Cranmer's evidence in her favour.]

[Sidenote: Early coolness between her and Henry.]

The strongest general evidence in her favour is that of Cranmer, who
must have known her intimately, and who, at the crisis of her life,
declared that he "never had better opinion in woman than he had in
her."[548] Yet there had been circumstances in her conduct, as by her
own after confessions was amply evident, which justified Sir Thomas More
in foretelling a stormy end to her splendour;[549] and her relations
with the king, whether the fault rested with him, or rested with her,
grew rapidly cool when she was his wife. In 1534, perhaps sooner, both
she herself, her brother, and her relations had made themselves odious
by their insolence; her over-bearing manners had caused a decline in the
king's affection for her; and on one side it was reported that he was
likely to return to Catherine,[550] on the other that he had transferred
his attention to some other lady, and that the court encouraged his
inconstancy to separate him from Anne's influence.[551] D'Inteville
confirms the account of a new love affair, particularising nothing, but
saying merely that Anne was falling out of favour; and that the person
alluded to as taking her place was Jane Seymour, appears from a letter
written after Anne's execution, by the Regent Mary to the Emperor of
Austria, and from the letter written (supposing it genuine) by Anne
herself to the king before her trial.[552]

On the other hand, it is equally clear that whether provoked or not by
infidelity on the part of Henry, her own conduct had been singularly
questionable. We know very little, but waiving for the present the
exposures at her trial, we know, by her own confession, that arrogance
and vanity had not been her only faults, and that she had permitted the
gentlemen who were the supposed partners of her guilt, to speak to her
of their passion for herself.[553]

In January, 1535, Henry's mind had been filled with "doubts and strange
suspicions" about his wife. There had been a misunderstanding, in which
she had implored the intercession of Francis I.[554]

[Sidenote: The probable cause of that coolness.]

[Sidenote: The antecedent probabilities amount to nothing.]

In February, 1536, she miscarried, with a dead boy, which later rumour
dwelt on as the cause of Henry's displeasure. But conversations such as
those which she described with her supposed paramours, lay bare far
deeper wounds of domestic unhappiness; and assure us, that if we could
look behind the scenes, we should see there estrangements, quarrels,
jealousies, the thousand dreary incidents that, if we knew them, would
break the suddenness with which at present the catastrophe bursts upon
us. It is the want of preparation, the blank ignorance in which we are
left of the daily life and daily occurrences of the court, which places
us at such disadvantage for recovering the truth. We are unable to form
any estimate whatever of those antecedent likelihoods which, in the
events of our own ordinary lives, guide our judgment so imperceptibly,
yet so surely. Henry is said to have been inconstant, but those who most
suspected Henry's motives charge Anne at the same time with a long
notorious profligacy.[555] We cannot say what is probable or what is
improbable; except, indeed, that the guilt or every person is improbable
antecedent to evidence; and in the present instance, since, either on
the side of the queen or of the king, there was and must have been most
terrible guilt, these opposite presumptions neutralize each other.

[Sidenote: April. Secret investigation by a committee of the privy

[Sidenote: April 27. Writs issued for a parliament.]

[Sidenote: Thursday, April 27; arrest of Sir William Brereton; and on
Sunday, April 30, of Mark Smeton.]

[Sidenote: May 1. Tournament at Greenwich.]

[Sidenote: The king goes to London.]

To proceed with the story. Towards the middle of April, 1536, certain
members of the privy council were engaged secretly in receiving evidence
which implicated the queen in adultery. Nothing is known of the quarter
from which the information came which led to the inquiry.[556]
Something, however, there was to call for inquiry, or something there
was thought to be; and on the 24th of April the case was considered
sufficiently complete to make necessary a public trial. On that day an
order was issued for a special commission. The members of the tribunal
were selected with a care proportioned to the solemnity of the
occasion.[557] It was composed of the lord chancellor, the first
noblemen of the realm, and of the judges. The investigation had,
however, been conducted so far with profound secrecy; and the object for
which it was to assemble was unknown even to Cranmer, himself a member
of the privy council.[558] With the same mysterious silence on the cause
of so unexpected a measure, the writs were issued for a general
election, and parliament was required to assemble as soon as
possible.[559] On Thursday, the 27th, the first arrest was made. Sir
William Brereton,[560] a gentleman of the king's household, was sent
suddenly to the Tower; and on the Sunday after, Mark Smeton, of whom we
know only that he was a musician high in favour at the court, apparently
a spoilt favourite of royal bounty.[561] The day following was the 1st
of May. It was the day on which the annual festival was held at
Greenwich, and the queen appeared, as usual, with her husband and the
court at the tournament. Lord Rochfort, the queen's brother, and Sir
Henry Norris, both of them implicated in the fatal charge, were defender
and challenger. The tilting had commenced, when the king rose suddenly
with signs of disturbance in his manner, left the court, and rode off
with a small company to London. Rumour, which delights in dramatic
explanations of great occurrences, has discovered that a handkerchief
dropped by the queen, and caught by Norris, roused Henry's jealousy; and
that his after conduct was the result of a momentary anger. The
incidents of the preceding week are a sufficient reply to this romantic
story. The mine was already laid, the match was ready for the fire.

[Sidenote: Tuesday, May 2; arrest of the queen. The privy council sit
at Greenwich.]

[Sidenote: She declares her innocence.]

[Sidenote: Norris, Weston, and Smeton examined.]

The king did not return: he passed the night in London, and Anne
remained at Greenwich. On the morning of Tuesday the privy council
assembled in the palace under the presidency of the Duke of Norfolk, and
she was summoned to appear before it. The Duke of Norfolk, her uncle,
was anxious, as Burnet insinuates, on political grounds that his niece
should be made away with. Such accusations are easily brought,
especially when unsupported by evidence. She was unpopular from her
manner. The London merchants looked on her with no favour as having
caused a breach in the alliance with Flanders, and the duke was an
imperialist and at heart a friend of Queen Catherine; but he had grown
old in the service of the state with an unblemished reputation; and he
felt too keenly the disgrace which Anne's conduct had brought upon her
family, to have contrived a scheme for her removal at once so awkward
and so ignominious.[562] On her examination, she declared herself
innocent; the details of what passed are unknown; only she told Sir
William Kingston that she was cruelly handled at Greenwich with the
king's council; "and that the Duke of Norfolk, in answer to her defence,
had said, 'Tut, tut, tut,' shaking his head three or four times."[563]
The other prisoners were then examined; not Brereton, it would seem,
but Smeton, who must have been brought down from the Tower, and Sir
Henry Norris, and Sir Francis Weston, two young courtiers, who had both
of them been the trusted friends of the king. Each day the shadow was
stretching further. The worst was yet to come.

[Sidenote: May 2. Tuesday. Smeton confesses, and Norris, who afterwards,
however, withdraws from what he has said.]

On being first questioned, these three made general admissions, but
denied resolutely that any actual offence had been committed. On being
pressed further and cross-examined, Smeton confessed to actual
adultery.[564] Norris hesitated: being pressed, however, by Sir William
Fitzwilliam to speak the truth, he also made a similar acknowledgment,
although he afterwards withdrew from what he had said.[565] Weston
persisted in declaring himself innocent. The result was unsatisfactory,
and it was thought that it would "much touch the king's honour" if the
guilt of the accused was not proved more clearly. "Only Mark," Sir
Edward Baynton said, would confess "of any actual thing"[566]; although
he had no doubt "the other two" were "as fully culpable as ever was he."
They were, however, for the present, recommitted to the Tower; whither
also in the afternoon the council conducted the queen, and left her in
the custody of Sir William Kingston.

[Sidenote: The queen, in the afternoon, is taken to the Tower.]

[Sidenote: She protests her innocence, and begs to have the sacrament in
her closet.]

She was brought up the river; the same river along which she sailed in
splendour only three short years before. She landed at the same Tower
Stairs; and, as it to complete the bitter misery of the change, she was
taken "to her own lodgings in which she lay at her coronation." She had
feared that she was to go to a dungeon. When Kingston told her that
these rooms had been prepared for her, "It is too good for me," she
said, "Jesu have mercy on me;" "and kneeled down, weeping a great space;
and in the same sorrow fell into a great laughing."[567] She then begged
that she might have the sacrament in the closet by her chamber, that she
might pray for mercy, declaring "that she was free from the company of
man as for sin," and was "the king's true wedded wife."

She was aware that the other prisoners were in the Tower, or, at least,
that Smeton, Weston, and Norris were there. Whether she knew at that
time of the further dreadful accusation which was hanging over her, does
not appear; but she asked anxiously for her brother; and, if she had
suspected anything, her fears must have been confirmed by Kingston's
evasive replies. It is so painful to dwell upon the words and actions of
a poor woman in her moments of misery, that Kingston may describe his
conversation with her in his own words. Lord Rochfort had returned to
London at liberty; he seems to have been arrested the same Tuesday
afternoon. "I pray you," she said, "to tell me where my Lord Rochfort
is?"--"I told her," Kingston wrote, that "I saw him afore dinner, in
the court." "Oh, where is my sweet brother?" she went on. "I said I left
him at York-place;" and so I did. "I hear say," said she, "that I should
be accused with three men; and I can say no more but nay, without I
should open my body,"--and therewith she opened her gown, saying, "Oh,
Norris, hast thou accused me? Thou art in the Tower with me, and thou
and I shall die together. And, Mark, thou art here too. Oh, my mother,
thou wilt die for sorrow." And much she lamented my Lady of Worcester,
for because her child did not stir in her body. And my wife said, "What
should be the cause?" She said, "For the sorrow she took for me." And
then she said, "Mr. Kingston, shall I die without justice?" And I said,
"The poorest subject the king hath, had justice;" and therewith she

[Sidenote: Lady Boleyn and three other ladies sent to attend upon her.]

Lady Boleyn, her aunt, had been sent for, with a Mrs. Cousins, and two
other ladies, selected by the king.[569] They were ordered to attend
upon the queen, but to observe a strict silence; and to hold no
communication with her, except in the presence of Lady Kingston. This
regulation, it was found, could not be insisted on. Lady Boleyn and Mrs.
Cousins slept in the queen's room, and conversation could not be
prevented. Mrs. Cousins undertook, on her part, to inform Kingston if
anything was said which "it was meet that he should know."[570]

[Sidenote: Wednesday, May 3. Reported conversation of the queen with

[Sidenote: And with Sir Francis Weston.]

In compliance with this promise, she told him, the next morning, that
the queen had been speaking to her about Norris. On the preceding
Sunday, she said that Norris had offered to "swear for the queen, that
she was a good woman."--"But how," asked Mrs. Cousins, very naturally,
"how came any such things to be spoken of at all?"--"Marry," the queen
said, "I bade him do so: for I asked him why he went not through with
his marriage; and he made answer, that he would tarry a time. Then, I
said, You look for dead men's shoes; for if aught came to the king but
good, you would look to have me.[571] And he said, if he should have any
such thought, he would his head were off. And then she said she could
undo him, if she would. And therewith they fell out." "But she said she
more feared Weston; for on Whitsun Tuesday last, Weston told her that
Norris came more unto her chamber for her than for Mage."[572]
Afterwards, "The queen spake of Weston, that she had spoken to him,
because he did love her kinswoman, Mrs. Skelton, and that she said he
loved not his wife; and he made answer to her again, that he loved one
in her house better than them both. She asked him who is that? to which
he answered, that it is yourself. 'And then,' she said, 'she defied

So passed Wednesday at the Tower. Let us feel our very utmost
commiseration for this unhappy woman; if she was guilty, it is the more
reason that we should pity her; but I am obliged to say, that
conversations of this kind, admitted by herself, disentitle her to plead
her character in answer to the charges against her. Young men do not
speak of love to young and beautiful married women, still less to ladies
of so high rank, unless something more than levity has encouraged them;
and although to have permitted such language is no proof of guilt, yet
it is a proof of the absence of innocence.

[Sidenote: The news reaches Cranmer. He is ordered to Lambeth till he
hears further.]

Meanwhile, on the Tuesday morning, a rumour of the queen's arrest was
rife in London; and the news for the first time reached the ears of
Cranmer. The archbishop was absent from home, but in the course of the
day he received an order, through Cromwell, to repair to his palace, and
remain there till he heard further. With what thoughts he obeyed this
command may be gathered from the letter which, on the following morning,
he wrote to Henry. The fortunes of the Reformation had been so closely
linked to those of the queen, that he trembled for the consequences to
the church of the king's too just indignation. If the barren womb of
Catherine had seemed a judgment against the first marriage, the shameful
issue of the second might be regarded too probably as a witness against
that and against every act which had been connected with it. Full of
these forebodings, yet not too wholly occupied with them to forget the
unhappy queen, he addressed the king, early on Wednesday, in the
following language:--

[Sidenote: He writes to the king. He implores Henry to bear his
misfortune like a man,]

[Sidenote: And to accept submissively the trial which God has sent upon

"Please it your most noble Grace to be advertised, that at your Grace's
commandment, by Mr. Secretary's letter, written in your Grace's name, I
came to Lambeth yesterday, and there I do remain to know your Grace's
further pleasure. And forasmuch as without your Grace's commandment, I
dare not, contrary to the contents of the said letter, presume to come
unto your Grace's presence; nevertheless, of my most bounden duty, I can
do no less than most humbly to desire your Grace, by your great wisdom,
and by the assistance of God's help, somewhat to suppress the deep
sorrows of your Grace's heart, and to take all adversities of God's
hands both patiently and thankfully. I cannot deny but your Grace hath
good cause many ways of lamentable heaviness; and also, that in the
wrongful estimation of the world, your Grace's honour of every part is
so highly touched (whether the things that commonly be spoken of be true
or not), that I remember not that ever Almighty God sent unto your Grace
any like occasion to try your Grace's constancy throughout, whether your
Highness can be content to take of God's hands as well things
displeasant as pleasant. And if He find in your most noble heart such an
obedience unto his will, that your Grace, without murmuration and
over-much heaviness, do accept all adversities, not less thanking Him
than when all things succeed after your Grace's will and pleasure, then
I suppose your Grace did never thing more acceptable unto Him since your
first governance of this your realm. And moreover, your Grace shall give
unto Him occasion to multiply and increase his graces and benefits unto
your Highness, as He did unto his most faithful servant Job; unto whom,
after his great calamities and heaviness, for his obedient heart and
willing acceptation of God's scourge and rod, addidit Dominus cuncta
duplicia. And if it be true that is openly reported of the Queen's
Grace, if men had a right estimation of things, they should not esteem
any part of your Grace's honour to be touched thereby; but her honour to
be clean disparaged. And I am in such perplexity, that my mind is clean
amazed; for I never had better opinion in woman than I had in her; which
maketh me to think that she should not be culpable. And again, I think
your Highness would not have gone so far, except she had been surely

[Sidenote: Of the queen's guilt, he knows not what to believe.]

[Sidenote: He will pray that she may be found innocent.]

[Sidenote: But if she be guilty, let her be punished with all extremity,
for the dishonour which she has brought upon the gospel.]

[Sidenote: He trusts that the king will still continue to favour the
gospel, however, as before.]

"Now I think that your Grace best knoweth that, next unto your Grace, I
was most bound unto her of all creatures living. Wherefore, I most
humbly beseech your Grace to suffer me in that which both God's law,
nature, and also her kindness bindeth me unto: that is, that I may with
your Grace's favour wish and pray for her that she may declare herself
inculpable and innocent. And if she be found culpable, considering your
Grace's goodness to her, and from what condition your Grace of your only
mere goodness took her, and set the crown upon her head, I repute him
not your Grace's faithful servant and subject, nor true unto the realm,
that would not desire the offence without mercy to be punished, to the
example of all other. And as I loved her not a little for the love
which I judged her to bear towards God and his gospel; so if she be
proved culpable, there is not one that loveth God and his gospel that
will ever favour her, but must hate her above all other; and the more
they favour the gospel, the more they will hate her; for there never was
creature in our time that so much slandered the gospel. And God hath
sent her this punishment for that she feignedly hath professed his
gospel in her mouth, and not in heart and deed. And though she hath
offended so that she hath deserved never to be reconciled to your
Grace's favour, yet Almighty God hath manifoldly declared his goodness
towards your Grace, and never offended you. But your Grace, I am sure,
acknowledgeth that you have offended Him. Wherefore, I trust that your
Grace will bear no less entire favour unto the truth of the gospel than
you did before; forasmuch as your Grace's favour to the gospel was not
led by affection unto her, but by zeal unto the truth. And thus I
beseech Almighty God, whose gospel he hath ordained your Grace to be
defender of, ever to preserve your Grace from all evil, and give you at
the end the promise of his gospel. From Lambeth, the third of May."

[Sidenote: He is sent for to the Star Chamber.]

[Sidenote: The postscript of his letter.]

The letter was written; it was not, however, sent upon the instant; and
in the course of the morning the archbishop was requested to meet the
Lord Chancellor, Lord Oxford, Lord Sussex, and the Lord Chamberlain, in
the Star Chamber. He went, and on his return to Lambeth he added a few
words in a postscript. In the interview from which he had at the moment
returned, those noblemen, he said, had declared unto him such things as
his Grace's pleasure was they should make him privy unto; for the which
he was most bounden unto his Grace. "What communications we had
together," he added, "I doubt not but they will make the true report
thereof unto your Grace. _I am exceedingly sorry that such faults can be
proved by the queen, as I heard of their relation._"[574]

If we may believe, as I suppose we may, that Cranmer was a man of sound
understanding, and of not less than ordinary probity, this letter is of
the greatest value; it shows the impression which was made upon a
sensible person by the first rumours of the discovery; it shows also the
archbishop's opinion of the king's character, with the effect upon his
own mind of the evidence which the chancellor, at the king's command,
had laid before him.

[Sidenote: Friday, May 5. Henry writes to the queen with a promise of
pardon if she will confess.]

[Sidenote: She persists in maintaining her innocence,]

[Sidenote: Being satisfied that there was no witness of her guilt.]

We return to the prisoners in the Tower. Mark Smeton, who had confessed
his guilt, was ironed.[575] The other gentlemen, not in consideration of
their silence, but of their rank, were treated more leniently. To the
queen, with an object which may be variously interpreted, Henry wrote
the Friday succeeding her arrest, holding out hopes of forgiveness if
she would be honest and open with him. Persons who assume that the whole
transaction was the scheme of a wicked husband to dispose of a wife of
whom he was weary, will believe that he was practising upon her terror
to obtain his freedom by a lighter crime than murder. Those who consider
that he possessed the ordinary qualities of humanity, and that he was
really convinced of her guilt, may explain his offer as the result of
natural feeling. But in whatever motive his conduct originated, it was
ineffectual. Anne, either knowing that she was innocent, or trusting
that her guilt could not be proved, trusting, as Sir Edmund Baynton
thought, to the constancy of Weston and Norris,[576] declined to confess
anything. "_If any man accuse me_," she said to Kingston, "_I can but
say nay, and they can bring no witness_."[577] Instead of acknowledging
any guilt in herself, she perhaps retaliated upon the king in the
celebrated letter which has been thought a proof both of her own
innocence, and of the conspiracy by which she was destroyed.[578] This
letter also, although at once so well known and of so dubious authority,
it is fair to give entire.

[Sidenote: Saturday, May 6. Her letter to the king.]

"Sir,--Your Grace's displeasure and my imprisonment are things so
strange unto me, as what to write, or what to excuse, I am altogether
ignorant. Whereas you send unto me (willing [me] to confess a truth, and
to obtain your favour) by such an one whom you know to be mine antient
professed enemy, I no sooner conceived this message by him, than I
rightly conceived your meaning; and if, as you say, confessing a truth
indeed may procure my safety, I shall with all willingness and duty
perform your command.

[Sidenote: Never prince had more loyal wife.]

[Sidenote: She, however, always looked for what now she finds.]

"But let not your Grace ever imagine that your poor wife will ever be
brought to acknowledge a fault where not so much as a thought thereof
proceeded. And to speak a truth, never prince had wife more loyal in all
duty, and in all true affection, than you have ever found in Anne
Boleyn; with which name and place I could willingly have contented
myself, if God and your Grace's pleasure had been so pleased. Neither
did I at any time so far forget myself in my exaltation or received
queenship, but that I always looked for such an alteration as now I
find: for the ground of my preferment being on no surer foundation than
your Grace's fancy, the least alteration I knew was fit and sufficient
to draw that fancy to some other subject. You have chosen me from a low
estate to be your queen and companion, far beyond my desert or desire.
If then you found me worthy of such honour, good your Grace, let not any
light fancy or bad counsel of mine enemies withdraw your princely favour
from me; neither let that stain, that unworthy stain, of a disloyal
heart towards your good Grace, ever cast so foul a blot on your most
dutiful wife, and the infant princess, your daughter.

[Sidenote: She begs for a fair trial,]

[Sidenote: And if she is condemned, Henry may lawfully follow his new

"Try me, good king, but let me have a lawful trial; and let not my
sworn enemies sit as my accusers and my judges; yea, let me receive an
open trial, for my truth shall fear no open shame. Then shall you see
either mine innocency cleared, your suspicions and conscience satisfied,
the ignominy and slander of the world stopped, or my guilt openly
declared; so that, whatsoever God or you may determine of me, your Grace
may be freed from an open censure; and mine offence being so lawfully
proved, your Grace is at liberty, both before God and man, not only to
execute worthy punishment on me, as an unlawful wife, but to follow your
affection already settled on that party for whose sake I am now as I am,
whose name I could some good while since have pointed unto; your Grace
not being ignorant of my suspicion therein.

[Sidenote: If her fate is already decided, she prays God will pardon his
great sin,]

"But if you have already determined of me; and that not only my death,
but an infamous slander, must bring you the enjoying of your desired
happiness; then I desire of God that he will pardon your great sin
therein, and likewise my enemies the instruments thereof; and that He
will not call you to a strict account for your unprincely and cruel
usage of me, at his general judgment-seat, where both you and myself
must shortly appear; and in whose judgment, I doubt not, whatsoever the
world may think of me, mine innocence shall be openly known and
sufficiently cleared.

[Sidenote: And also that her own death may suffice, and the poor
gentlemen be spared.]

"My last and only request shall be, that myself may only bear the burden
of your Grace's displeasure, and that it may not touch the innocent
souls of those poor gentlemen who, as I understand, are likewise in
strait imprisonment for my sake. If ever I have found favour in your
sight, if ever the name of Anne Boleyn hath been pleasing in your ears,
then let me obtain this request; and I will so leave to trouble your
Grace any further; with mine earnest prayers to the Trinity, to have
your Grace in his good keeping, and to direct you in all your actions.
From my doleful prison in the Tower, this 6th of May. Your most loyal
and ever faithful wife,

  ANNE BOLEYN."[579]

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: A second requisition to confess from the king, and a second

[Sidenote: The tone of the queen's answers not what it ought to have
been, even on her own showing.]

This letter is most affecting; and although it is better calculated to
plead the queen's cause with posterity than with the king, whom it could
only exasperate, yet if it is genuine it tells (so far as such a
composition can tell at all) powerfully in her favour. On the same page
of the manuscript, carrying the same authority, and subject to the same
doubt, is a fragment of another letter, supposed to have been written
subsequently, and therefore in answer to a second invitation to confess.
In this she replied again, that she could confess no more than she had
already spoken; that she might conceal nothing from the king, to whom
she did acknowledge herself so much bound for so many favours; for
raising her first from a mean woman to be a marchioness; next to be his
queen; and now, seeing he could bestow no further honours upon her on
earth, for purposing by martyrdom to make her a saint in heaven.[580]
This answer also was unwise in point of worldly prudence; and I am
obliged showing to add, that the tone which was assumed, both in this
and in her first letter, was unbecoming (even if she was innocent of
actual sin) in a wife who, on her own showing, was so gravely to blame.
It is to be remembered that she had betrayed from the first the king's
confidence; and, as she knew at the moment at which she was writing, she
had never been legally married to him.

[Sidenote: Her wild words in the Tower.]

Her spirits meanwhile had something rallied, though still violently
fluctuating. "One hour," wrote Kingston,[581] "she is determined to die,
and the next hour much contrary to that." Sometimes she talked in a
wild, wandering way, wondering whether any one made the prisoners' beds,
with other of those light trifles which women's minds dwell upon so
strangely, when strained beyond their strength. "There would be no
rain," she said, "till she was out of the Tower; and if she died, they
would see the greatest punishment for her that ever came to England."
"And then," she added, "I shall be a saint in heaven, for I have done
many good deeds in my days; but I think it much unkindness in the king
to put such about me as I never loved."[582] Kingston was a hard
chronicler, too convinced of the queen's guilt to feel compassion for
her; and yet these rambling fancies are as touching as Ophelia's; and,
unlike hers, are no creation of a poet's imagination, but words once
truly uttered by a poor human being in her hour of agony. Yet they
proved nothing. And if her wanderings seem to breathe of innocence, they
are yet compatible with the absence of it. We must remind ourselves that
two of the prisoners had already confessed both their own guilt and

[Sidenote: Preparations for the trial. Necessity of entering into
offensive details.]

The queen demanded a trial; it was not necessary to ask for it. Both
she and her supposed accomplices were tried with a scrupulousness
without a parallel, so far as I am aware, in the criminal records of the
time. The substance of the proceedings is preserved in an official
summary;[583] and distressing as it is to read of such sad matters, the
importance of arriving at a fair judgment must excuse the details which
will be entered into. The crime was alike hideous, whether it was the
crime of the queen or of Henry; we may not attempt to hide from
ourselves the full deformity of it.

On the 24th of April, then, a special commission was appointed, to try
certain persons for offences committed at London, at Hampton Court, and
at the palace at Greenwich. The offences in question having been
committed in Middlesex and in Kent, bills were first to be returned by
the grand juries of both counties.

[Sidenote: The names of the commissioners appointed to try the queen's

[Sidenote: The queen and her brother to be tried by the House of Lords.]

Men are apt to pass vaguely over the words "a commission" or "a jury,"
regarding them rather as mechanical abstractions than as bodies of
responsible men. I shall therefore give the list of the persons who, in
these or any other capacities, were engaged upon the trials. The special
commission consisted of Sir Thomas Audeley, the lord chancellor; the
Duke of Norfolk, uncle of the queen and of Lord Rochfort; the Duke of
Suffolk, the king's brother-in-law; the Earl of Wiltshire, the queen's
father; the Earls of Oxford, Westmoreland, and Sussex; Lord Sandys;
Thomas Cromwell; Sir William Fitzwilliam the Lord High Admiral, an old
man whose career had been of the most distinguished brilliancy; Sir
William Paulet, lord treasurer, afterwards Marquis of Winchester; and,
finally, the nine judges of the Courts of Westminster, Sir John
Fitzjames, Sir John Baldewyn, Sir Richard Lister, Sir John Porte, Sir
John Spelman, Sir Walter Luke, Sir Anthony Fitzherbert, Sir Thomas
Englefield, and Sir William Shelley. The duty of this tribunal was to
try the four commoners accused of adultery with the queen. She herself,
with her brother, would be tried by the House of Lords. Of the seven
peers, three were her own nearest connexions; the remaining
commissioners were those who, individually and professionally, might
have been considered competent for the conduct of the cause above all
other persons in the realm. Antecedently to experience, we should not
have expected that a commission so constituted would have lent itself to
a conspiracy; and if foul play had been intended, we should have looked
to see some baser instruments selected for so iniquitous a purpose.

[Sidenote: Wednesday, May 10. True bill found by the grand jury of

In the middle of the second week in May, the grand juries had completed
their work. On the 10th, a true bill was found at Westminster, by the
oaths of Giles Heron, Esq.; Roger More, Esq.; Richard Awnsham, Esq.;
Thomas Byllyngton, Esq.; Gregory Lovel, Esq.; John Worsop, Esq.; William
Goddard, gentleman; William Blakwall, gentleman; John Wylford,
gentleman; William Berd, gentleman; Henry Hubbylthorne, gentleman;
William Huning, gentleman; Robert Walys, gentleman; John Englond,
gentleman; Henry Lodysman, gentleman; and John Averey, gentleman.

[Sidenote: Thursday, May 11. True bill found by the grand jury of Kent.]

On the 11th a true bill was found at Deptford by the oaths of Sir
Richard Clement, Sir William Fynche, Sir Edward Boughton, Anthony St.
Leger, Esq.;[584] John Cromer, Esq.; John Fogg, Esq.; Thomas Wylleford,
Esq.; John Norton, Esq.; Humphrey Style, Esq.; Robert Fisher, gentleman;
Thomas Sybbell, gentleman; John Lovelace, gentleman; Walter Harrington,
gentleman; Edmund Page, gentleman; Thomas Fereby, gentleman; and Lionel
Ansty, gentleman.

I am thus particular in recording the names of these jurors, before I
relate the indictment which was found by them, because, if that
indictment was unjust, it stamps their memory with eternal infamy; and
with the judges, the commissioners, the privy council, the king, with
every living person who was a party, active or passive, to so enormous a
calumny, they must be remembered with shame for ever.

[Sidenote: The indictment.]

The indictment, then, found by the grand jury of Middlesex was to the
following effect:[585]

"1. That the Lady Anne, Queen of England, having been the wife of the
king for the space of three years and more, she, the said Lady Anne,
contemning the marriage so solemnized between her and the king, and
bearing malice in her heart against the king, and following her frail
and carnal lust, did falsely and traitorously procure, by means of
indecent language, gifts, and other acts therein stated, divers of the
king's daily and familiar servants to be her adulterers and concubines;
so that several of the king's servants, by the said queen's most vile
provocation and invitation, became given and inclined to the said queen.

"2. That the queen [on the] 6th of October, 25 Hen. VIII. [1533], at
Westminster, by words, &c., procured and incited one Henry Norris, Esq.,
one of the gentlemen of the king's privy chamber, to have illicit
intercourse with her; and that the act was committed at Westminster,
12th October, 25 Hen. VIII.

"3. That the queen, 2nd of November, 27 Hen. VIII. [1535], by the means
therein stated, procured and incited George Boleyn, knight, Lord
Rochfort, her own natural brother, to have illicit intercourse with her;
and that the act was committed 5th of November in the same year, at
Westminster, against the commands of Almighty God, and all laws human
and divine.

"4. That the queen, 3rd December, 25 Hen. VIII., procured and incited
William Brereton, Esq., one of the gentlemen of the king's privy
chamber, to have illicit intercourse with her; and that the act was
committed at Hampton Court, 25th December, 25 Hen. VIII.

"5. That the queen, 8th of May, 26 Hen. VIII., procured and incited
Francis Weston, one of the gentlemen of the king's privy chamber, to
have illicit intercourse with her; and that the act was committed at
Westminster, 20th May, 26 Hen. VIII.

"6. That the queen, 12th of April, 26 Hen. VIII., procured and incited
Mark Smeton, Esq., one of the grometers of the king's chamber, to have
illicit intercourse with her; and that the act was committed at
Westminster, 26th April, 26 Henry VIII.

"7. Furthermore, that the said George, Lord Rochfort, Henry Norris,
William Brereton, Sir Francis Weston, and Mark Smeton, being thus
inflamed by carnal love of the queen, and having become very jealous of
each other, did, in order to secure her affections, satisfy her
inordinate desires; and that the queen was equally jealous of the Lord
Rochfort and other the before-mentioned traitors; and she would not
allow them to show any familiarity with any other woman, without her
exceeding displeasure and indignation; and that on the 27th day of
November, 27 Hen. VIII., and other days, at Westminster, she gave them
gifts and great rewards, to inveigle them to her will.

"8. Furthermore, that the queen, and other the said traitors, jointly
and severally, 31st of October, 27 Hen. VIII., and at various times
before and after, compassed and imagined the king's death; and that the
queen had frequently promised to marry some one of the traitors,
whenever the king should depart this life, affirming she never would
love the king in her heart.

"9. Furthermore, that the king, having within a short time before become
acquainted with the before-mentioned crimes, vices, and treasons, had
been so grieved that certain harms and dangers had happened to his royal

[Sidenote: The improbability of the queen's guilt and the improbability
of a conspiracy against her increase in the same ratio.]

[Sidenote: There is no room for the hypothesis of mistake.]

[Sidenote: The parallel of Leontes suggested, but not admissible.]

I suppose that persons who have made up their minds conclusively, and
are resolved to abide by the popular verdict of English historians, will
turn with disgust from these hideous charges; seeming, as they do, to
overstep all ordinary bounds of credibility. On one side or the other
there was indeed no common guilt. The colours deepen at every step. But
it is to be remembered that if the improbability of crimes so revolting
is becoming greater, the opposite improbability increases with equal
strength--that English noblemen and gentlemen could have made themselves
a party to the invention of the story. For invention is unfortunately
the only word; would indeed that any other were admissible! The
discovery of the indictment disposes at once of Burnet's legend, that
the queen was condemned on hearsay evidence; or that her guilt was
conjectured from an exaggerated report of foolish conversations. It cuts
off all hope, too, of possible mistake. I have heard the name Leontes
mentioned as a parallel to Henry; and if the question lay only between
the king and his wife, we would gladly welcome the alternative. Charity
would persuade us that a husband had been madly blind, sooner far than
that a queen had been madly wicked. But this road for escape is closed.
The mistake of Leontes was transparent to every eye but his own. The
charges against Anne Boleyn were presented by two grand juries before
the highest judicial tribunal in the realm. There was nothing vague,
nothing conjectural. The detail was given of acts and conversations
stretching over a period of two years and more; and either there was
evidence for these things, or there was none. If there was evidence, it
must have been close, elaborate, and minute; if there was none, these
judges, these juries and noblemen, were the accomplices of the king in a
murder perhaps the most revolting which was ever committed.

[Sidenote: The difficulty in the way of supposing the accusations

It may be thought that the evidence was pieced together in the secrets
of the cabinet; that the juries found their bills on a case presented to
them by the council. This would transfer the infamy to a higher stage;
but if we try to imagine how the council proceeded in such a business,
we shall not find it an easy task. The council, at least, could not have
been deceived. The evidence, whatever it was, must have been examined by
them; and though we stretch our belief in the complacency of statesmen
to the furthest limit of credulity, can we believe that Cromwell would
have invented that dark indictment,--Cromwell who was, and who remained
till his death, the dearest friend of Latimer? Or the Duke of Norfolk,
the veteran who had won his spurs at Flodden? Or the Duke of Suffolk and
Sir William Fitzwilliam, the Wellington and the Nelson of the sixteenth
century? Scarcely among the picked scoundrels of Newgate could men be
found for such work; and shall we believe it of men like these? It is to
me impossible. Yet, if it was done at all, it was done by those four

[Sidenote: To what purpose the multiplication of offences, and the
number of offenders?]

Even if we could believe that they forged the accusations, yet they
would at least limit the dimensions of them. The most audacious villain
will not extend his crimes beyond what he requires for his object; and
if the king desired only to rid himself of his wife, to what purpose the
multiplication of offenders, and the long list of acts or guilt, when a
single offence with the one accomplice who was ready to abide by a
confession would have sufficed? The four gentlemen gratuitously, on this
hypothesis, entangled in the indictment, were nobly connected: one of
them, Lord Rochfort, was himself a peer; they had lived, all four,
several years at the court, and were personally known to every member
of the council. Are we to suppose that evidence was invented with no
imaginable purpose, for wanton and needless murders?--that the council
risked the success of their scheme, by multiplying charges which only
increased difficulty of proof, and provoked the interference of the
powerful relations of the accused?[587]

Such are the difficulties in which, at this early stage of the
transaction, we are already implicated. They will not diminish as we

[Sidenote: Friday, May 12. The court opens.]

[Sidenote: The four commoners are brought to the bar.]

[Sidenote: A petty jury return a verdict of guilty.]

Friday, the 12th of May, was fixed for the opening of the court. On that
day, a petty jury was returned at Westminster, for the trial of Sir
Henry Norris, Sir Francis Weston, Sir William Brereton, and Mark Smeton.
The commission sat,--the Earl of Wiltshire sitting with them,[588]--and
the four prisoners were brought to the bar. On their arraignment, Mark
Smeton, we are told, pleaded guilty of adultery with the queen; not
guilty of the other charges. Norris, Weston, and Brereton severally
pleaded not guilty. Verdict, guilty. The king's sergeant and attorney
pray judgment. Judgment upon Smeton, Norris, Weston, and Brereton as
usual in cases of high treason. This is all which the record contains.
The nature of the evidence is not mentioned. But again there was a jury;
and if we have not the evidence which convinced that jury, we have the
evidence that they were, or professed to be, convinced.

[Sidenote: The Duke of Norfolk is named Lord High Steward.]

The queen and her brother were to be tried on the following Monday.
Their crime was not adultery only, but was coloured with the deeper
stain of incest. On the Friday, while the other prisoners were at the
bar, "Letters patent were addressed to Thomas, Duke of Norfolk,
Treasurer and Earl Marshal of England, setting forth that the Lady Anne,
Queen of England, and Sir George Boleyn, knight, Lord Rochfort, had been
indicted of certain capital crimes; and that the king, considering that
justice was a most excellent virtue, and pleasing to the Most Highest;
and inasmuch as the office of High Steward of England, whose presence
for the administration of the law in this case is required, was vacant,
the king therefore appointed the said duke Lord High Steward of England,
with full powers to receive the indictments found against Queen Anne and
the Lord Rochfort, and calling them before him, for the purpose of
hearing and examining them, and compelling them to answer thereto." The
duke was to collect also "such and so many lords, peers, and magnates of
the kingdom of England, peers of the said Queen Anne and Lord Rochfort,
by whom the truth could be better known; and the truth being known, to
give judgment according to the laws and customs of England, and to give
sentence and judgment, and to direct execution, with the other usual
powers."[589] As a certain number only of the peers were summoned, it
may be imagined that some fraud was practised in the selection, and that
those only were admitted whose subserviency could be relied upon. I will
therefore give the names as before.

[Sidenote: List of peers summoned to try the queen and her brother.]

The two English Dukes, of Norfolk and Suffolk.[590] The one English
Marquis, of Exeter. The Earls of Arundel, Oxford, Northumberland (the
queen's early lover), Westmoreland, Derby, Worcester, Rutland, Sussex,
and Huntingdon all the earls in the peerage except four--those of
Shrewsbury, Essex, Cumberland, and Wiltshire. Why the first three were
omitted I do not know. Lord Wiltshire had already fulfilled his share of
the miserable duty; he was not compelled to play the part of Brutus, and
condemn, in person, his two children. The remaining peers were the Lords
Audeley, De la Ware, Montague, Morley, Dacre, Cobham, Maltravers, Powis,
Mounteagle, Clinton, Sandys, Windsor, Wentworth, Burgh, and Mordaunt:
twenty-seven in all: men hitherto of unblemished honour--the noblest
blood in the realm.

[Sidenote: Monday, May 15. Account of the trial in the Baga de

These noblemen assembled in the Tower on the 15th of May. The queen was
brought before them; and the record in the Baga de Secretis relates the
proceeding as follows:--

"Before the Lord High Steward at the Tower, Anne, Queen of England,
comes in the custody of Sir William Kingston, Constable of the Tower,
and is brought to the bar. Being arraigned of the before-mentioned
treasons, she pleads not guilty, and puts herself upon her peers;
whereupon the Duke of Suffolk, Marquis of Exeter, and others the
before-mentioned earls and barons, peers of the said queen, being
charged by the said Lord High Steward to say the truth, and afterwards
being examined severally by the Lord High Steward, from the lowest peer
to the highest, each of them severally saith that she is guilty.

[Sidenote: The queen is found guilty, and sentenced to be burned or
beheaded at the king's pleasure.]

"Judgment--that the queen be taken by the said Constable back to the
king's prison within the Tower; and then, as the king shall command, be
brought to the green within the said Tower, and there burned or
beheaded, as shall please the king."[591]

In such cold lines is the story of this tragedy unrolling itself to its
close. The course which it followed, however, was less hard in the
actual life; and men's hearts, even in those stern times, could beat
with human emotions. The Duke of Norfolk was in tears as he passed
sentence.[592] The Earl of Northumberland "was obliged by a sudden
illness to leave the court."[593] The sight of the woman whom he had
once loved, and to whom he was perhaps married, in that dreadful
position, had been more than he could bear; and the remainder of the
work of the day went forward without him.

[Sidenote: Lord Rochfort found guilty also.]

The queen withdrew. Her brother took his place at the bar. Like Anne, he
declared himself innocent. Like Anne, he was found guilty, and sentenced
to die.[594]

We can form no estimate of the evidence; for we do not know what it was.
We cannot especially accuse the form of the trial; for it was the form
which was always observed. But the fact remains to us, that these
twenty-seven peers, who were not ignorant, as we are, but were fully
acquainted with the grounds of the prosecution, did deliberately, after
hearing the queen's defence, pronounce against her a unanimous verdict.
If there was foul play, they had advantages infinitely greater than any
to which we can pretend for detecting it. The Boleyns were unpopular,
and Anne herself was obnoxious to the imperialists and Catholics; but
all parties, Catholic and Protestant alike, united in the sentence.

[Sidenote: The popular interpretation is not credible.]

Looking at the case, then, as it now stands, we have the report for some
time current, that the queen was out of favour, and that the king's
affection was turned in another direction,--a report, be it observed,
which had arisen before the catastrophe, and was not, therefore, an
afterthought, or legend; we have also the antecedent improbability,
which is very great, that a lady in the queen's position could have been
guilty of the offences with which the indictment charges her. We have
also the improbability, which is great, that the king, now forty-four
years old, who in his earlier years had been distinguished for the
absence of those vices in which contemporary princes indulged
themselves, in wanton weariness of a woman for whom he had
revolutionized the kingdom, and quarrelled with half Christendom,
suddenly resolved to murder her; that, instead of resorting to poison,
or to the less obtrusive methods of criminality, he invented, and
persuaded his council to assist him in inventing, a series of
accusations which reflected dishonour on himself, and which involved the
gratuitous death of five persons with whom he had no quarrel, who were
attached to his court and person. To maintain these accusations, he
would have to overawe into an active participation in his crime, judges,
juries, peers, the dearest relations of those whom he was destroying,
and this with no standing army, no prætorians or janissaries at his
back, with no force but the yeomen of the guard, who could be scattered
by a rising of the apprentices. He had gone out of his way, moreover, to
call a parliament; and the summons had been so hasty that no time was
left to control the elections; while again to fail was ruin; and the
generation of Englishmen to whom we owe the Reformation were not so
wholly lost to all principles of honour, that Henry could have counted
beforehand upon success in so desperate a scheme with that absolute
certainty without which he would scarcely have risked the experiment. I
think that there is some improbability here. Unlikely as it is that
queens should disgrace themselves, history contains unfortunately more
than one instance that it is not impossible. That queens in that very
age were capable of profligacy was proved, but a few years later, by the
confessions of Catherine Howard. I believe history will be ransacked
vainly to find a parallel for conduct at once so dastardly, so
audacious, and so foolishly wicked as that which the popular hypothesis
attributes to Henry VIII.

[Sidenote: The facts in favour of the queen.]

[Sidenote: The facts against her.]

This is a fair statement of the probabilities; not, I believe,
exaggerated on either side. Turning to the positive facts which are
known to us, we have amongst those which make for the queen her own
denial of her guilt; her supposed letter to the king, which wears the
complexion of innocence; the assertions of three out of the five other
persons who were accused, up to the moment of their execution; and the
sympathizing story of a Flemish gentleman who believed her innocent, and
who says that many other people in England believed the same. On the
other side, we have the judicial verdict of more than seventy noblemen
and gentlemen,[595] no one of whom had any interest in the deaths of the
accused, and some of whom had interests the most tender in their
acquittal; we have the assent of the judges who sat on the commission,
and who passed sentence, after full opportunities of examination, with
all the evidence before their eyes; the partial confession of one of the
prisoners, though afterwards withdrawn; and the complete confession of
another, maintained till the end, and not withdrawn upon the scaffold.
Mr. Hallam must pardon me for saying that this is not a matter in which
doubt is unpermitted.

[Sidenote: Wednesday, May 17. The execution of the five gentlemen.]

A brief interval only was allowed between the judgment and the final
close. On Wednesday, the 17th, the five gentlemen were taken to
execution. Smeton was hanged; the others were beheaded. Smeton and
Brereton acknowledged the justice of their sentence. Brereton said that
if he had to die a thousand deaths, he deserved them all; and Brereton
was the only one of the five whose guilt at the time was doubted.[596]
Norris died silent; Weston, with a few general lamentations on the
wickedness of his past life. None denied the crime for which they
suffered; all but one were considered by the spectators to have
confessed. Rochfort had shown some feeling while in the Tower. Kingston
on one occasion found him weeping bitterly. The day of the trial he sent
a petition to the king, to what effect I do not learn; and on the
Tuesday he begged to see Cromwell, having something on his conscience,
as he said, which he wished to tell him.[597] His desire, however, does
not seem to have been complied with; he spoke sorrowfully on the
scaffold of the shame which he had brought upon the gospel, and died
with words which appeared to the spectators, if not a confession, yet
something very nearly resembling it, "This said lord," wrote a spectator
to the court at Brussels, "made a good Catholic address to the people.
He said that he had not come there to preach to them, but rather to
serve as a mirror and an example. He acknowledged the crimes which he
had committed against God, and against the king his sovereign; there was
no occasion for him, he said, to repeat the cause for which he was
condemned; they would have little pleasure in hearing him tell it. He
prayed God, and he prayed the king, to pardon his offences; and all
others whom he might have injured he also prayed to forgive him as
heartily as he forgave every one. He bade his hearers avoid the vanities
of the world, and the flatteries of the court which had brought him to
the shameful end which had overtaken him. Had he obeyed the lessons of
that gospel which he had so often read, he said he should not have
fallen so far; it was worth more to be a good doer than a good reader.
Finally, he forgave those who had adjudged him to die, and he desired
them to pray God for his soul."[598]

[Sidenote: Anne Boleyn confesses to Cranmer that she has never been
lawfully married to the king.]

The queen was left till a further mystery had perplexed yet deeper the
disgraceful exposure. Henry had desired Cranmer to be her confessor. The
archbishop was with her on the day after her trial,[599] and she then
made an extraordinary avowal,[600] either that she had been married or
contracted in early life, or had been entangled in some connexion which
invalidated her marriage with the king. The letter to the emperor, which
I have already quoted,[601] furnishes the solitary explanation of the
mystery which remains. Some one, apparently the imperial ambassador,
informed Charles that she was discovered to have been nine years before
married to Lord Percy, not formally only, but really and completely. If
this be true, her fate need scarcely excite further sympathy.

[Sidenote: The queen is pronounced divorced.]

On Wednesday she was taken to Lambeth, where she made her confession in
form, and the archbishop, sitting judicially, pronounced her marriage
with the king to have been null and void. The supposition, that this
business was a freak of caprice or passion, is too puerile to be
considered. It is certain that she acknowledged something; and it is
certain also that Lord Northumberland was examined upon the subject
before the archbishop. In person upon oath indeed, and also in, a letter
to Cromwell, Northumberland denied that he had ever been legally
connected with her; but perhaps Northumberland was afraid to make an
admission so dangerous to himself, or perhaps the confession itself was
a vague effort which she made to save her life.[602] But whatever she
said, and whether she spoke truth or falsehood, she was pronounced
divorced, and the divorce did not save her.[603] Friday, the 19th, was
fixed for her death; and when she found that there was no hope she
recovered her spirits. The last scene was to be on the green inside the
Tower. The public were to be admitted; but Kingston suggested that to
avoid a crowd it was desirable not to fix the hour, since it was
supposed that she would make no further confession.

[Sidenote: Thursday, May 18. Kingston's tribute to her conduct in the

"This morning she sent for me," he added, "that I might be with her at
such time as she received the good Lord, to the intent that I should
hear her speak as touching her innocency always to be clear. 'Mr.
Kingston,' she said, 'I hear say I shall not die afore noon, and I am
very sorry therefore, for I thought to be dead by this time, and past my
pain.' I told her it should be no pain, it was so subtle; and then she
said, 'I heard say the executioner was very good, and I have a little
neck,' and put her hands about it, laughing heartily. I have seen many
men, and also women, executed, and they have been in great sorrow; and
to my knowledge, this lady hath much joy and pleasure in death."[604]

[Sidenote: Friday, May 19. Tower Green at noon.]

We are very near the termination of the tragedy. A little before noon on
the 19th of May, Anne Boleyn, Queen of England, was led down to the
green. A single cannon stood loaded on the battlements; the motionless
cannoneer was ready, with smoking linstock, to tell London that all was
over. The yeomen of the guard were there, and a crowd of citizens; the
lord mayor in his robes, the deputies of the guilds, the sheriffs, and
the aldermen; they were come to see a spectacle which England had never
seen before--a head which had worn the crown falling under the sword of
an executioner.

[Sidenote: The scaffold, and the persons present upon it.]

On the scaffold, by the king's desire, there were present Cromwell, the
Lord Chancellor, the Duke of Suffolk, and lastly, the Duke of Richmond,
who might now, when both his sisters were illegitimized, be considered
heir presumptive to the throne. As in the choice of the commission, as
in the conduct of the trial, as in the summons of parliament, as in
every detail through which the cause was passed, Henry had shown
outwardly but one desire to do all which the most strict equity
prescribed, so around this last scene he had placed those who were
nearest in blood to himself, and nearest in rank to the crown. If she
who was to suffer was falling under a forged charge, he acted his part
with horrible completeness.

[Sidenote: The queen's last words.]

The queen appeared walking feebly, supported by the Lieutenant of the
Tower. She seemed half stupified and looked back from time to time at
the ladies by whom she was followed. On reaching the platform, she asked
if she might say a few words;[605] and permission being granted, she
turned to the spectators and said: "Christian people, I am come to die.
And according to law, and by law, I am judged to death; and therefore I
will speak nothing against it. I am come hither to accuse no man, nor to
speak anything of that whereof I am accused and condemned to die. But I
pray God save the king, and send him long to reign over you; for a
gentler and more merciful prince was there never; and to me he was ever
a good, a gentle, and sovereign lord. If any person will meddle of my
cause, I require him to judge the best. And thus I take my leave of the
world and of you; and I heartily desire you all to pray for me. Oh,
Lord, have mercy on me. To God I commend my soul."[606] "These words,"
says Stow, "she spoke with a smiling countenance." She wore an ermine
cloak which was then taken off. She herself removed her headdress, and
one of her attendants gave her a cap into which she gathered her hair.
She then knelt, and breathing faintly a commendation of her soul to
Christ, the executioner with a single blow struck off her head. A white
handkerchief was thrown over it as it fell, and one of the ladies took
it up and carried it away. The other women lifted the body and bore it
into the Chapel of the Tower, where it was buried in the choir.[607]

Thus she too died without denying the crime for which she suffered.
Smeton confessed from the first. Brereton, Weston, Rochfort, virtually
confessed on the scaffold. Norris said nothing. Of all the sufferers not
one ventured to declare that he or she was innocent,--and that six human
beings should leave the world with the undeserved stain of so odious a
charge on them, without attempting to clear themselves, is credible only
to those who form opinions by their wills, and believe or disbelieve as
they choose.

To this end the queen had come at last, and silence is the best comment
which charity has to offer upon it. Better far it would have been if the
dust had been allowed to settle down over the grave of Anne Boleyn, and
her remembrance buried in forgetfulness. Strange it is that a spot which
ought to have been sacred to pity, should have been made the arena for
the blind wrestling of controversial duellists. Blind, I call it; for
there has been little clearness of judgment, little even of common
prudence in the choice of sides. If the Catholics could have fastened
the stain of murder on the king and the statesmen of England, they would
have struck the faith of the establishment a harder blow than by a poor
tale of scandal against a weak, erring, suffering woman: and the
Protestants, in mistaken generosity, have courted an infamy for the
names of those to whom they owe their being, which, staining the
fountain, must stain for ever the stream which flows from it. It has
been no pleasure to me to rake among the evil memories of the past, to
prove a human being sinful whom the world has ruled to have been
innocent. Let the blame rest with those who have forced upon our history
the alternative of a reassertion of the truth, or the shame of noble
names which have not deserved it at our hands.

[Sidenote: Fresh perplexity in the succession.]

[Sidenote: Elizabeth now illegitimate.]

[Sidenote: Lord Thomas Howard and Lady Margaret Douglas.]

No sooner had the result of the trial appeared to be certain, than the
prospects of the succession to the throne were seen to be more perplexed
than ever. The prince so earnestly longed for had not been born. The
disgrace of Anne Boleyn, even before her last confession, strengthened
the friends of the Princess Mary. Elizabeth, the child of a doubtful
marriage which had terminated in adultery and incest, would have had
slight chance of being maintained, even if her birth had suffered no
further stain; and by the Lambeth sentence she was literally and legally
illegitimate. The King of Scotland was now the nearest heir; and next to
him stood Lady Margaret Douglas, his sister, who had been born in
England, and was therefore looked upon with better favour by the people.
As if to make confusion worse confounded, in the midst of the
uncertainty Lord Thomas Howard, taking advantage of the moment, and, as
the act or his attainder says,[608] "being seduced by the devil, and not
having the fear of God before his eyes," persuaded this lady into a
contract of marriage with him; "The presumption being," says the same
act, "that he aspired to the crown by reason of so high a marriage; or,
at least, to the making division for the same; having a firm hope and
trust _that the subjects of this realm[609] would incline and bear
affection to the said Lady Margaret, being born in this realm; and not
to the King of Scots, her brother, to whom this realm hath not, nor ever
had, any affection; but would resist his attempt to the crown of this
realm to the uttermost of their powers_."[610]

[Sidenote: The council and the peers urge the king to an instant

Before the discovery of this proceeding, but in anticipation of
inevitable intrigues of the kind, the privy council and the peers, on
the same grounds which had before led them to favour the divorce from
Catherine, petitioned the king to save the country from the perils
which menaced it, and to take a fresh wife without an hour's delay.
Henry's experience of matrimony had been so discouraging, that they
feared he might be reluctant to venture upon it again. Nevertheless, for
his country's sake, they trusted that he would not refuse.[611]

[Sidenote: He marries Jane Seymour.]

Henry, professedly in obedience to this request, was married,
immediately after the execution, to Jane, daughter of Sir John Seymour.
The indecent haste is usually considered a proof entirely conclusive of
the cause of Anne Boleyn's ruin.[612] Under any aspect it was an
extraordinary step, which requires to be gravely considered. Henry, who
waited seven years for Anne Boleyn, to whom he was violently attached,
was not without control over his passions; and if appetite had been the
moving influence with him, he would scarcely, with the eyes of all the
world upon him, have passed so extravagant an insult upon the nation of
which he was the sovereign. If Jane Seymour had really been the object
of a previous unlawful attachment, her conduct in accepting so
instantly a position so frightfully made vacant, can scarcely be painted
in too revolting colours. Yet Jane Seymour's name, at home and abroad,
by Catholic and Protestant, was alike honoured and respected. Among all
Henry's wives she stands out distinguished by a stainless name,
untarnished with the breath of reproach.

If we could conceive the English nation so tongue-tied that they dared
not whisper their feelings, there were Brussels, Paris, Rome, where the
truth could be told; yet, with the exception of a single passage in a
letter of Mary of Hungary,[613] there is no hint in the correspondence,
either in Paris, Simancas, or Brussels, that there was a suspicion of
foul play. If Charles or Francis had believed Henry really capable of so
deep atrocity, no political temptation would have induced either of them
to commit their cousins or nieces to the embrace of a monster, yet no
sooner was Jane Seymour dead, than we shall find them competing eagerly
with each other to secure his hand.

It is quite possible that when Anne Boleyn was growing licentious, the
king may have distinguished a lady of acknowledged excellence by some in
no way improper preference, and that when desired by the council to
choose a wife immediately, he should have taken a person as unlike as
possible to the one who had disgraced him. This was the interpretation
which was given to his conduct by the Lords and Commons of England. In
the absence of any evidence, or shadow of evidence, that among
contemporaries who had means of knowing the truth, another judgment was
passed upon it, the deliberate assertion of an act of parliament must be
considered a safer guide than modern unsupported conjecture.[614]

[Sidenote: June 8. Parliament meets.]

This matter having been accomplished, the king returned to London to
meet parliament. The Houses assembled on the 8th of June; the peers had
hastened up in unusual numbers, as if sensible of the greatness of the
occasion. The Commons were untried and unknown; and if Anne Boleyn was
an innocent victim, no king of England was ever in so terrible a
position as Henry VIII. when he entered the Great Chamber fresh from his
new bridal. He took his seat upon the throne; and then Audeley, the Lord
Chancellor, rose and spoke:[615]

[Sidenote: The Lord Chancellor's speech at the opening.]

[Sidenote: The succession must be reconsidered.]

[Sidenote: And the king desires the parliament to name an heir

"At the dissolution of the late parliament, the King's Highness had not
thought so soon to meet you here again. He has called you together now,
being moved thereunto by causes of grave moment, affecting both his own
person and the interests of the commonwealth. You will have again to
consider the succession to the crown of this realm. His Highness knows
himself to be but mortal, liable to fall sick, and to die.[616] At
present he perceives the peace and welfare of the kingdom to depend upon
his single life; and he is anxious to leave it, at his death, free from
peril. He desires you therefore to nominate some person as his heir
apparent, who, should it so befall him (which God forbid!) to depart out
of this world without children lawfully begotten, may rule in peace over
this land, with the consent and the good will of the inhabitants

"You will also deliberate upon the repeal of a certain act passed in the
late parliament, by which the realm is bound to obedience to the Lady
Anne Boleyn, late wife of the king, and the heirs lawfully begotten of
them twain, and which declares all persons who shall, by word or deed,
have offended against this lady or her offspring, to have incurred the
penalties of treason.

[Sidenote: The Lord Chancellor's advice to the Houses.]

"These are the causes for which you are assembled; and if you will be
advised by me, you will act in these matters according to the words of
Solomon, with whom our most gracious king may deservedly be compared.
The "wise man" counsels us to bear in mind such things as be past, to
weigh well such things as be present, and provide prudently for the
things which be to come. And you I would bid to remember, first, those
sorrows and those burdens which the King's Highness did endure on the
occasion of his first unlawful marriage--a marriage not only judged
unlawful by the most famous universities in Christendom, but so
determined by the consent of this realm; and to remember further the
great perils which have threatened his most royal Majesty from the time
when he entered on his second marriage.

[Sidenote: The gratitude due to the king for his third adventure into

"Then, turning to the present, you will consider in what state the realm
now standeth with respect to the oath by which we be bound to the Lady
Anne and to her offspring; the which Lady Anne, with her accomplices,
has been found guilty of high treason, and has met the due reward of her
conspiracies. And then you will ask yourselves, what man of common
condition would not have been deterred by such calamities from venturing
a third time into the state of matrimony. Nevertheless, our most
excellent prince, not in any carnal concupiscence, but at the humble
entreaty of his nobility, hath consented once more to accept that
condition, and has taken to himself a wife who in age and form is deemed
to be meet and apt for the procreation of children.

"Lastly, according to the third injunction, let us now do our part in
providing for things to come. According to the desire of his most
gracious Highness, let us name some person to be his heir; who, in case
(_quod absit_) that he depart this life leaving no offspring lawfully
begotten, may be our lawful sovereign. But let us pray Almighty God that
He will graciously not leave our prince thus childless; and let us give
Him thanks for that He hath preserved his Highness to us out of so many
dangers; seeing that his Grace's care and efforts be directed only to
the ruling his subjects in peace and charity so long as his life
endures, and to the leaving us, when he shall come to die, in sure
possession of these blessings."

[Sidenote: The speech digested into a statute.]

[Sidenote: July 1. Reassertion of the independence of the realm.]

Three weeks after Anne Boleyn's death and the king's third marriage, the
chancellor dared to address the English legislature in these terms: and
either he spoke like a reasonable man, which he may have done, or else
he was making an exhibition of effrontery to be paralleled only by
Seneca's letter to the Roman Senate after the murder of Agrippina. The
legislature adopted the first interpretation, and the heads of the
speech were embodied in an act of parliament. While the statute was in
preparation, they made use of the interval in continuing the business of
the Reformation. They abolished finally the protection of sanctuary in
cases of felony, extending the new provisions even to persons in holy
orders:[617] they calmed the alarms of Cranmer and the Protestants by re
asserting the extinction of the authority of the pope;[618] and they
passed various other laws of economic and social moment. At length, on
the 1st of July, in a crowded house, composed of fourteen bishops,[619]
eighteen abbots, and thirty-nine lay peers,[620] a bill was read a first
time of such importance that I must quote at length its own most
noticeable words.

[Sidenote: Second great Act of Succession. The parliament endorse all
the proceedings in the late trials.]

The preamble commenced with reciting those provisions of the late acts
which were no longer to remain in force. It then proceeded, in the form
of an address to the king, to adopt and endorse the divorce and the
execution. "Albeit," it ran, "most dread Sovereign Lord, that these acts
were made, as it was then thought, upon a pure, perfect, and clear
foundation; your Majesty's nobles and commons, thinking the said
marriage then had between your Highness and the Lady Anne in their
consciences to have been pure, sincere, perfect, and good, and so was
reputed and taken in the realm; [yet] now of late God, of his infinite
goodness, from whom no secret things can be hid, hath caused to be
brought to light evident and open knowledge of certain just, true, and
lawful impediments, unknown at the making of the said acts; and since
that time confessed by the Lady Anne, before the Most Reverend Father in
God, Thomas, Archbishop of Canterbury, sitting judicially for the same;
by the which it plainly appeareth that the said marriage was never good,
nor consonant to the laws, but utterly void and of none effect; by
reason whereof your Highness was and is lawfully divorced from the bonds
of the said marriage in the life of the said Lady Anne:

"And over this, most dread Lord, albeit that your Majesty, not knowing
of any lawful impediments, entered into the bonds of the said unlawful
marriage, and advanced the same Lady Anne to the honour of the sovereign
estate of the queen of this realm; yet she, nevertheless, inflamed with
pride and carnal desires of her body, putting apart the dread of God and
excellent benefits received of your Highness, confederated herself with
George Boleyn, late Lord Rochfort, her natural brother, Henry Norris,
Esq., Francis Weston, Esq., William Brereton, Esq., gentlemen of your
privy chamber, and Mark Smeton, groom of your said privy chamber; and so
being confederate, she and they most traitorously committed and
perpetrated divers detestable and abominable treasons, to the fearful
peril and danger of your royal person, and to the utter loss,
disherison, and desolation of this realm, if God of his goodness had not
in due time brought their said treasons to light; for the which, being
plainly and manifestly proved, they were convict and attainted by due
course and order of your common law of this realm, and have suffered
according to the merits:"

[Sidenote: The late queen declared attainted.]

In consequence of these treasons, and to lend, if possible, further
weight to the sentence against her, the late queen was declared
attainted by authority of parliament, as she already was by the common
law. The Act then proceeded:

[Sidenote: Opinion of parliament upon the king's third marriage.]

"And forasmuch, most gracious Sovereign, as it hath pleased your royal
Majesty--(notwithstanding the great intolerable perils and occasions
which your Highness hath suffered and sustained, as well by occasion of
your first unlawful marriage, as by occasion of your second); at the
most humble petition and intercession of us your nobles of this realm,
for the ardent love and fervent affection which your Highness beareth to
the conservation of the peace and amity of the same, and of the good and
quiet governance thereof, of your most excellent goodness to enter into
marriage again; and [forasmuch as you] have chosen and taken a right
noble, virtuous, and excellent lady, Queen Jane, to your true and lawful
wife; who, for her convenient years, excellent beauty, and pureness of
flesh and blood, is apt to conceive issue by your Highness; which
marriage is so pure and sincere, without spot, doubt, or impediment,
that the issue presented under the same, when it shall please Almighty
God to send it, cannot be truly, lawfully, nor justly interrupted or
disturbed of the right and title in the succession of your crown: May it
now please your Majesty, for the extinguishment of all doubts, and for
the pure and perfect unity of us your subjects, and all our posterities,
that inasmuch as the marriage with the Lady Catherine having been
invalid, the issue of that marriage is therefore illegitimate; and the
marriage with the Lady Anne Boleyn having been upon true and just causes
deemed of no value nor effect, the issue of this marriage is also
illegitimate; the succession to the throne be now therefore determined
to the issue of the marriage with Queen Jane."[621]

[Sidenote: The succession determined to the issue of the king by Queen

[Sidenote: A reason for demurring to the popular judgment in this

Thus was every step which had been taken in this great matter
deliberately sanctioned[622] by parliament. The criminality of the queen
was considered to have been proved; the sentence upon her to have been
just. The king was thanked in the name of the nation for having made
haste with the marriage which has been regarded as the temptation to his
crime. It is wholly impossible to dismiss facts like these with a few
contemptuous phrases; and when I remember that the purity of Elizabeth
is an open question among our historians, although the foulest kennels
must be swept to find the filth with which to defile it; while Anne
Boleyn is ruled to have been a saint, notwithstanding the solemn verdict
of the Lords and Commons, the clergy, the council, judges, and juries,
pronounced against her,--I feel that with such a judgment caprice has
had more to do than a just appreciation of evidence.

[Sidenote: The contingency to be provided for, of the last marriage
proving unfruitful.]

The parliament had not yet, however, completed their work. It was
possible, as the lord chancellor had said, that the last marriage might
prove unfruitful, and this contingency was still unprovided for. The
king had desired the Lords and Commons to name his successor; they
replied with an act which showed the highest confidence in his
patriotism; they conferred a privilege upon him unknown to the
constitution, yet a power which, if honestly exercised, offered by far
the happiest solution of the difficulty.

Henry had three children. The Duke of Richmond was illegitimate in the
strictest sense, but he had been bred as a prince; and I have shown
that, in default of a legitimate heir, the king had thought of him as
his possible successor. Mary and Elizabeth were illegitimate also,
according to law and form; but the illegitimacy of neither the one nor
the other could be pressed to its literal consequences. They were the
children, each of them, of connexions which were held legal at the
period of their birth. They had each received the rank of a princess;
and the instincts of justice demanded that they should be allowed a
place in the line of inheritance. Yet, while this feeling was distinctly
entertained, it was difficult to give effect to it by statute, without a
further complication of questions already too complicated, and without
provoking intrigue and jealousy in other quarters. The Princess Mary
also had not yet receded from the defiant attitude which she had
assumed. She had lent herself to conspiracy, she had broken her
allegiance, and had as yet made no submission. To her no favour could be
shown while she remained in this position; and it was equally
undesirable to give Elizabeth, under the altered circumstances, a
permanent preference to her sister.

[Sidenote: The parliament grant the king a power to bequeath the crown
by will.]

The parliament, therefore, with as much boldness as good sense, cut the
knot, by granting Henry the power to bequeath the crown by will. He
could thus advance the Duke of Richmond, if Richmond's character as a
man fulfilled the promise of his youth; and he could rescue his
daughters from the consequences of their mother's misfortunes or their
mother's faults. It was an expression of confidence, as honourable to
the country as to the king; and if we may believe, as the records say,
that the tragedy of the past month had indeed grieved and saddened
Henry, the generous language in which the legislature committed the
future of the nation into his hands, may have something soothed his

[Sidenote: The reasons alleged for this measure.]

"Forasmuch as it standeth," they said, "in the only pleasure and will of
Almighty God, whether your Majesty shall have heirs begotten and
procreated from this (late) marriage, or else any lawful heirs or issues
hereafter of your own body, begotten by any other lawful wife; and if
such heirs should fail (as God defend), and no provision be made in your
life who should rule and govern this realm, then this realm, after your
transitory life, shall be destitute of a governor, or else percase [be]
encumbered with a person that would count to aspire to the same, whom
the subjects of this realm shall not find in their hearts to love,
dread, and obediently serve[623] as their sovereign lord; and if your
Grace, before it be certainly known whether ye shall have heirs or not,
should suddenly name and declare any person or persons to succeed after
your decease, then it is to be doubted that such person so named might
happen to take great heart and courage, and by presumption fall to
inobedience and rebellion; by occasion of which premises, divisions and
dissensions are likely to arise and spring in this realm, to the great
peril and destruction of us, your most humble and obedient servants, and
all our posterities: For reformation and remedy hereof, we, your most
bounden and loving subjects, most obediently acknowledging that your
Majesty, prudently, victoriously, politicly, and indifferently, hath
maintained this realm in peace and quietness during all the time of your
most gracious reign, putting our trust and confidence in your Highness,
and nothing doubting but that your Majesty, if you should fail of heirs
lawfully begotten, for the love and affection that ye bear to this
realm, and for avoiding all the occasions of divisions afore rehearsed,
so earnestly mindeth the wealth of the same, that ye can best and most
prudently provide such a governour for us and this your realm, as will
succeed and follow in the just and right tract of all your proceedings,
and maintain, keep, and defend the same and all the laws and ordinances
established in your Grace's time for the wealth of the realm, which we
all desire, do therefore most humbly beseech your Highness, that it may
be enacted, for avoiding all ambiguities, doubts, and divisions, that
your Highness shall have full and plenary power and authority to
dispose, by your letters patent under your great seal, or else by your
last will made in writing, and signed with your hand, the imperial crown
of this realm, and all other the premises thereunto belonging, to such
person or persons as shall please your Highness.

"And we, your humble and obedient subjects, do faithfully promise to
your Majesty, by one common assent, that after your decease, we, our
heirs and successors, shall accept and take, love, dread, and only obey
such person or persons, male or female, as your Majesty shall give your
imperial crown unto; and wholly to stick to them as true and faithful
subjects ought to do."[624]


[536] Speech of the Lord Chancellor: _Lords' Journals_, p. 84

[537] Strype's _Memorials_, Vol. I. p. 370.

[538] Sir Edmund Bedingfield to Cromwell: _State Papers_, Vol. I. p.

[539] Strype's _Memorials_, Vol. I.; and see Appendix, p. 241, et seq.

[540] _State Papers_, Vol. I. p. 452

[541] Lord Herbert, p. 188.

[542] Lord Herbert, p. 188. It will have been observed, that neither in
this letter, nor in the other authentic papers connected with her death,
is there any allusion to Cardinal Pole's famous story, that being on her
deathbed, Queen Catherine prayed the king to allow her to see her
daughter for the last time, and that the request was refused. Pole was
not in England at the time. He drew his information from Catholic
rumour, as vindictive as it was credulous; and in the many letters from
members of the privy council to him which we possess, his narrative is
treated as throughout a mere wild collection of fables. I require some
better evidence to persuade me that this story is any truer than the
rest, when we know that Catherine allowed the king to hear that she was
dying, not from herself, but from a foreign ambassador; and that such a
request could have been made in the few days which intervened between
this intimation and her death, without some traces of it appearing in
the close account which we possess of her language and actions during
those days, is in a high degree unlikely.

[543] See Lingard, Vol. V. p. 30. Hall says: "Queen Anne wore yellow for

[544] The directions for the funeral are printed in Lingard Vol. V.,
Appendix, p. 267.

[545] It ought not to be necessary to say that her will was
respected--Lord Herbert, p. 188; but the king's conduct to Catherine of
Arragon has provoked suspicion even where suspicion is unjust; and much
mistaken declamation has been wasted in connexion with this matter upon
an offence wholly imaginary.

In making her bequests, Catherine continued to regard herself as the
king's wife, in which capacity she professed to have no power to dispose
of her property. She left her legacies in the form of a petition to her
husband. She had named no executors; and being in the eyes of the law "a
sole woman," the administration lapsed in consequence to the nearest of
kin, the emperor. Some embarrassment was thus created, and the
attorney-general was obliged to evade the difficulty by a legal
artifice, before the king could take possession, and give effect to the
bequests.--See Strype's _Memor._, Vol. I., Appendix, pp. 252-255. Miss
Strickland's valuable volumes are so generally read, that I venture to
ask her to reconsider the passage which she has written on this subject.
The king's offences against Catherine require no unnecessary

[546] See Vol. I. pp. 175, 176.

[547] Foxe speaks very strongly on this point. In Ellis's Letters we
find many detailed instances, and indeed in all contemporary

[548] Cranmer's Letter to the King: Burnet, Vol. I. p. 323.

[549] More's _Life of More_; and see Chap. IX.

[550] Il Re de Inghilterra haveva fatto venire in la Corte sua il
majordomo de la Regina et mostrava esserse mitigato alquanto. La causa
della mitigation procede del buon negotiar ha fatto et fa la Catolica
Mata con lo Ambaxiatore del Re de Inghilterra con persuadirle con buoni
paroli et pregeri che debbia restituir la Regina in la antigua dignita.

Dicano anchore che la Anna e mal voluta degli Si di Inghilterra si per
la sua superbia, si anche per l'insolentia et mali portementi che fanno
nel regno li fratelli e parenti di Anna e che per questo il Re non la
porta la affezione que soleva.--"Nuevas de Inglaterra": _MS. Archives of

[551] Il Re festeggia una altra donna della quale se mostra esser
inamorato; e molti Si di Inghilterra lo ajutano nel seguir el preditto
amore per desviar questo Re de la pratica di Anna.--_Ibid._

[552] Burnet's _Collectanea_, p. 87.

[553] _Pilgrim_, p. 117.

[554] _Le Laboureur_, I. 405: quoted in Lingard, Vol. V. p. 30.

[555] Quoy qu'il en soit l'on me luy peult faire grand tort quand cires
l'on a reputé pour meschante. Car ce a este des longtemps son
stile.--The Regent Mary to Ferdinand: _MS. Brussels._

[556] Later writers point to the ladies of the court, but report could
not agree upon any single person: and _nothing_ is really known.

[557] Baga de Secretis, pouch 8: Appendix II. to the _Third Report of
the Deputy Keeper of the Public Records_.

[558] Cranmer to the King: Burnet, Vol. I. p. 322.

[559] I must draw particular attention to this. Parliament had been just
dissolved, and a fresh body of untried men were called together for no
other purpose than to take cognizance of the supposed discovery.--See
the Speech of the Lord Chancellor: _Lords' Journals_, p. 84. If the
accusations were intentionally forged by the king, to go out of the way
to court so needless publicity was an act most strange and most

[560] Constantyne says, Smeton was arrested first on Saturday evening,
at Stepney; but he seems inconsistent with himself. See his Memorial,
_Archæologia_, Vol. XXIII. p. 63.

[561] His name repeatedly occurs in "the Privy Purse Expenses of Henry

[562] Five years later, after the shameful behaviour of Catherine
Howard, the duke wrote to the king of "_the abominable deeds done by two
of my nieces against your Highness_;" which he said have "brought me
into the greatest perplexity that ever poor wretch was in, fearing that
your Majesty, having so often and by so many of my kyn been thus falsely
and traitorously handled, might not only conceive a displeasure in your
heart against me and all other of that kyn, but also in manner abhor to
hear speak of any of the same."--Norfolk to Henry VIII.: _State Papers_,
Vol. I. p. 721.

[563] Kingston to Cromwell: Singer's Cavendish, p. 456 et seq., in
Strype's _Memorials_, Vol. I.

[564] Sir Edward Baynton to the Lord Treasurer, from Greenwich: Singer's
Cavendish, p. 458.

[565] See Lingard, Vol. V. p. 33. It is not certain whether the
examination of the prisoners was at Greenwich or at the Tower. Baynton's
letter is dated from Greenwich, but that is not conclusive. Constantyne
says (_Archæologia_, Vol. XXIII. p. 63) that the king took Norris with
him to London, and, as he heard say, urged him all the way to confess,
with promises of pardon if he would be honest with him. Norris persisted
in his denial, however, and was committed to the Tower. Afterwards,
before the council, he confessed. On his trial, his confession was read
to him, and he said he was deceived into making it by Sir W.
Fitzwilliam: an accusation against this gentleman very difficult to

[566] Letter to the Lord Treasurer.

[567] Kingston to Cromwell; Singer's Cavendish, p. 451.

[568] Kingston to Cromwell: Singer's Cavendish, p. 451.

[569] She said, "I think it much unkindness in the king to put such
about me as I never loved." I shewed her that the king took them to be
honest and good women. "But I would have had of mine own privy chamber,"
she said, "which I favour most."--Kingston to Cromwell: Ibid. p. 457.

[570] Ibid. p. 453.

[571] The disorder of which the king ultimately died--ulceration in the
legs--had already begun to show itself.

[572] The lady, perhaps, to whom Norris was to have been married. Sir
Edward Baynton makes an allusion to a Mistress Margery. The passage is
so injured as to be almost unintelligible:--"I have mused much et ... of
Mistress Margery, which hath used her ... strangely towards me of late,
being her friend as I have been. But no doubt it cannot be but she must
be of councell therewith. There hath been great friendship between the
queen and her of late."--Sir E. Baynton to the Lord Treasurer: Singer,
p. 458.

[573] Kingston to Cromwell: Singer, pp. 452, 453. Of Smeton she said,
"He was never in my chamber but at Winchester;" she had sent for him "to
play on the virginals," for there her lodging was above the king's....
"I never spoke with him since," she added, "but upon Saturday before May
day, and then I found him standing in the round window in my chamber of
presence, and I asked why he was so sad, and he answered and said it was
no matter; and then she said, 'You may not look to have me speak to you
as I should to a nobleman, because you be an inferior person.'--'No, no,
madam; a look sufficeth me [he said], and thus fare you well.'"--Singer,
p. 455.

[574] Printed in Burnet, Vol. I. p. 322, et seq.

[575] "Mark is the worst cherished of any man in the house, for he wears
irons."--Kingston to Cromwell. Later writers have assured themselves
that Smeton's confession was extorted from him by promises of pardon.
Why, then, was the government so impolitic as to treat him with especial
harshness so early in the transaction? When he found himself "ironed,"
he must have been assured that faith would not be kept with him; and he
had abundant time to withdraw what he had said.

[576] The sentence is mutilated, but the meaning seems intelligible:
"The queen standeth stiffly in her opinion that she wo ... which I think
is in the trust that she [hath in the] other two,"--i.e. Norris and
Weston.--Baynton to the Lord Treasurer. The government seems to have
been aware of some secret communication between her and Norris.--Ibid
Singer, p. 458.

[577] Kingston to Cromwell: Singer, p. 457.

[578] My first impression of this letter was strongly in favour of its
authenticity. I still allow it to stand in the text because it exists,
and because there is no evidence, external or internal, to prove it to
be a forgery. The more carefully I have examined the MS., however, the
greater uncertainty I have felt about it. It is not an original. It is
not an official copy. It does not appear, though here I cannot speak
conclusively, to be even a contemporary copy. The only guide to the date
is the watermark on the paper, and in this instance the evidence is
indecisive.--Note to the 2d edition.

[579] Burnet's _Collectanea_, p. 87; _Cotton. MS._

[580] Strype's _Eccles. Memorials_, Vol. I. Lord Bacon speaks of these
words as a message sent by the queen on the morning of the execution.

[581] Kingston to Cromwell: Singer, p. 456.

[582] Ibid. p. 457.

[583] Baga de Secretis, pouches 8 and 9: Appendix II to the _Third
Report of the Deputy Keeper of the Public Records_.

[584] We shall meet him again in Ireland: he was the queen's cousin, and
man of the very highest character and ability. The grand jury of Kent
were nominated by Sir Thomas Wyatt, who was sheriff for that year. This
is not unimportant, for Wyatt in past times had been Anne's intimate
friend, if not her lover.

[585] The indictment found at Deptford was exactly similar; referring to
other acts of the same kind, committed by the same persons at Greenwich.

[586] Baga de Secretis, pouch 9.

[587] Sir Francis Bryan, the queen's cousin, was at first suspected. He
was absent from the court, and received a message from Cromwell to
appeal instantly on his allegiance. The following extract is from the
Deposition of the Abbot of Woburn--_MS. Cotton._ Cleopatra, E 4.:

"The said abbot remembereth that at the fall of Queen Anne, whom God
pardon, Master Bryan, being in the country, was suddenly sent for by the
Lord Privy Seal, as the said Master Bryan afterwards shewed me, charging
him upon his allegiance to come to him wheresoever he was within this
realm upon the sight of his letter, and so he did with all speed. And at
his next repair to Ampthill, I came to visit him there, at what time the
Lord Grey of Wilton, with many other men of worship, was with him in the
great court at Ampthill aforesaid. And at my coming in at the outer gate
Master Bryan perceived me, and of his much gentleness came towards
meeting me; to whom I said, 'Now welcome home and never so welcome.' He,
astonished, said unto me, 'Why so?' The said abbot said, 'Sir, I shall
shew you that at leisure,' and walked up into the great chamber with the
men of worship. And after a pause it pleased him to sit down upon a
bench and willed me to sit by him, and after that demanded of me what I
meant when I said, 'Never so welcome as then;' to whom I said thus:
'Sir, Almighty God in his first creation made an order of angels, and
among all made one principal, which was the ----, who would not be
content with his estate, but affected the celsitude and rule of Creator,
for the which he was divested from the altitude of heaven into the
profundity of hell into everlasting darkness, without repair or return,
with those that consented unto his pride. So it now lately befell in
this our worldly hierarchy of the court by the fall of Queen Anne as a
worldly Lucifer, not content with her estate to be true unto her
creator, making her his queen, but affected unlawful concupiscence, fell
suddenly out of that felicity wherein she was set, irrecoverably with
all those that consented unto her lust, whereof I am glad that ye were
never; and, therefore, now welcome and never so welcome, here is the end
of my tale.' And then he said unto me: 'Sir, indeed, as you say, I was
suddenly sent for, marvelling thereof and debating the matter in my mind
why this should be; at the last I considered and knew myself true and
clear in conscience unto my prince, and with all speed and without fear
[hastily set] me forward and came to my Lord Privy Seal, and after that
to the King's Grace, and nothing found in me, nor never shall be, but
just and true to my master the King's Grace.' And then I said
'Benedictus, but this was a marvellous peremptory commandment,' said I,
'and would have astonished the wisest man in this realm.' And he said,
'What then, he must needs do his master's commandment, and I assure you
there never was a man wiser to order the king's causes than he is; I
pray God save his life.'"

The language both of Sir Francis Bryan and the abbot is irreconcileable
with any other supposition, except that they at least were satisfied of
the queen's guilt.

[588] Baga de Secretis, pouch 8. The discovery of these papers sets at
rest the controversy whether the Earl of Wiltshire took part in the
trial. He was absent at the trial of his children; he was present at the
trial of the other prisoners.

[589] Baga de Secretis, pouch 9.

[590] The Duke of Richmond was under age.

[591] Baga de Secretis, pouch 9.

[592] Constantyne, _Archæologia_, Vol. XXIII. p. 66.

[593] Baga de Secretis. When the Pilgrimage of Grace broke out four
months later, Northumberland was the only nobleman in the power of the
insurgents who refused to join in the rebellion. They threatened to kill
him; but "at that and all times the earl was very earnest against the
commons in the king's behalf and the Lord Privy Seal's."--Confession of
William Stapleton: _Rolls House MS._ A 2, 2. See Vol. III. of this work
chap. xiii.

[594] I know not whether I should here add the details which Meteren
gives of these trials. His authority, a Flemish gentleman, was in London
at the time, but was not present in the court. The Lord of Milherve
(that was this gentleman's name) was persuaded that the queen was
unjustly accused, and he worked out of the rumours which he heard an
interesting picture, touched with natural sympathy. It has been often
repeated, however. It may be read elsewhere; and as an authority it is
but of faint importance. If we allow it its fullest weight, it proves
that a foreigner then in England believed the queen innocent, and that
she defended herself with an eloquence which deeply touched her hearers.
His further assertion, that "Smeton's confession was all which was
alleged" against her, is certainly inaccurate; and his complaint, which
has been so often echoed, of the absence of witnesses, implies only a
want of knowledge of the forms which were observed in trials for high
treason. The witnesses were not brought into court and confronted with
the prisoner: their depositions were taken on oath before the grand
juries and the privy council, and on the trial were read out for the
accused to answer as they could.

[595] Two grand juries, the petty jury, and the twenty-seven peers.

[596] Constantyne's _Memor., Archæol._, Vol. XXIII. pp. 63-66.
Constantyne was an attendant of Sir Henry Norris at this time, and a
friend and school-fellow of Sir W. Brereton. He was a resolute
Protestant, and he says that at first he and all other friends of the
gospel were unable to believe that the queen had behaved so abominably.
"As I may be saved before God," he says, "I could not believe it, afore
I heard them speak at their death." ... But on the scaffold, he adds,
"In a manner all confessed but Mr. Norris, who said almost nothing at

[597] Kingston to Cromwell: Singer, p. 459.

[598] _The Pilgrim_: Appendix, p. 116.

[599] Kingston to Cromwell; and see Constantyne's _Memorial_.

[600] "Now of late, God, of his infinite goodness, from whom no secret
things can be hid, hath caused to be brought to light, evident and open
knowledge of certain just, true, and lawful impediments, unknown at the
making of the said acts [by which the marriage had been declared
legitimate], and since that time confessed by the Lady Anne, by the
which it plainly appeareth that the said marriage was never good nor
consonant to the laws."--28 Henry VIII. cap. 7. See also the appendix to
the fourth volume of this work.

[601] Vol. I. pp. 175, 176.

[602] On the day on which she first saw the archbishop, she said, at
dinner, that she expected to be spared, and that she would retire to
Antwerp.--to Cromwell: Singer, p. 460.

[603] Burnet raises a dilemma here. If, he says, the queen was not
married to the king, there was no adultery; and the sentence of death
and the sentence of divorce mutually neutralize each other. It is
possible that in the general horror at so complicated a delinquency, the
technical defence was overlooked.

[604] Kingston to Cromwell: Singer, p. 461.

[605] Letter of ---- to ----, _The Pilgrim_, p. 116.

[606] Wyatt's _Memoirs_, Hall, Stow, Constantyne's _Memorial_. There is
some little variation in the different accounts, but none of importance.

[607] _Pilgrim_, p. 116.

[608] 28 Hen. VIII. cap. 24.

[609] This paragraph is of great importance: it throws a light on many
of the most perplexing passages in this and the succeeding reigns.

[610] 28 Hen. VIII. cap. 24.

[611] Speech of the Lord Chancellor: _Lords' Journals_, p. 84. Statutes
of the Realm; 28 Henry VIII. cap. 7. Similarly, on the death of Jane
Seymour, the council urged immediate re-marriage on the king,
considering a single prince an insufficient security for the future. In
a letter of Cromwell's to the English ambassador at Paris, _on the day
of Jane Seymour's death_, there is the following passage:

"And forasmuch as, though his Majesty is not anything disposed to marry
again--albeit his Highness, God be thanked, taketh this chance as a man
that by reason with force overcometh his affections may take such an
extreme adventure--yet as sundry of his Grace's council here have
thought it meet for us to be most humble suitors to his Majesty to
consider the state of his realm, and to enter eftsoons into another
matrimony: so his tender zeal to us his subjects hath already so much
overcome his Grace's said disposition, and framed his mind both to be
indifferent to the thing and to the election of any person from any part
that, with deliberation, shall be thought meet for him, that we live in
hope that his Grace will again couple himself to our comforts."--_State
Papers_, Vol. VIII. p. 1.

[612] Burnet, Hume, Strickland, &c. There is an absolute consensus of

[613] "The king has, I understand, already married another woman, who,
they say, is a good Imperialist. I know not whether she will so
continue. He had shown an inclination for her before the other's death;
and as neither that other herself, nor any of the rest who were put to
death, confessed their guilt, except one who was a musician, some people
think he invented the charge to get rid of her. However it be, no great
wrong can have been done to the woman herself. She is known to have been
a worthless person. It has been her character for a long time.

"I suppose, if one may speak so lightly of such things, that when he is
tired of his new wife he will find some occasion to quit himself of her
also. Our sex will not be too well satisfied if these practices come
into vogue; and, though I have no fancy to expose myself to danger, yet,
being a woman, I will pray with the rest that God will have mercy on
us."--_The Pilgrim_, p. 117.

[614] Within four months the northern counties were in arms. Castle and
cottage and village pulpit rang with outcries against the government.
Yet, in the countless reports of the complaints of the insurgents, there
is no hint of a suspicion of foul play in the late tragedy. If the
criminality of the king is self-evident to us, how could it have been
less than evident to Aske and Lord Darcy?

[615] _Lords' Journals_, p. 84.

[616] He had been very ill.

[617] 26 Hen. VIII. cap. 1.

[618] Ibid. cap. 10.

[619] Including Latimer and Cranmer.

[620] _Lords' Journals._

[621] 28 Hen. VIII. cap. 7. The three last paragraphs, I need scarcely
say, are a very brief epitome of very copious language.

[622] The archbishop's sentence of divorce was at the same time
submitted to Convocation and approved by it.

[623] The King of Scots: 28 Hen. VIII. c. 24.

[624] 28 Hen. VIII. cap. 7.


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