Abbildungen der Seite

one hand, he was to please his master the king, from whom he had received a thousand marks of favour; and on the other hand, he feared to disoblige the pope, whose servant he more immediately was, and who besides had power to punish his disobedience. He therefore resolved to continue neuter in this controversy; and, though of all men the most haughty, he gave way on this occasion to his colleague Campeggio in all things, pretending a deference to his skill in canon law. Wolsey's scheme of temporising was highly displeasing to the king; but for a while he endeavoured to stifle his resentment, until it could act with more fatal certainty. He for some time looked out for a man of equal abilities and less art; and it was not long before accident threw in his way one Thomas Cranmer, a man of learning and talent, and probably of greater integrity than the cardinal possessed, Cranmer was a doctor of divinity, and a professor at Cambridge, but had lost his office upon marrying contrary to the institutes of the canon law, which enjoined celibacy to all the clergy. He had traveled in his youth into Germany; and it was there he became acquainted with Luther's works, and embraced his doctrines. This man happening to fall one evening into company with Gardiner, secretary of state, and Fox, the king's almoner, the business of the divorce became the subject of conversation. He gave it as his opinion, that the readiest way to quiet the king's conscience, or to extort the pope's consent, would be to consult all the universities of Europe upon the affair; an advice which, being brought to the king, pleased him so much, that Crammer was desired to follow the court. The king, finding himself provided with a A.D.

person who could supply Wolsey’s place, ap- 1529.


peared less reserved in his resentments against that prelate. The attorney-general was ordered to prepare a bill of indictment against him; and he was soon after commanded to resign the great seal. Crimes are easily found against a favourite in disgrace; and the courtiers did not fail to increase the catalogue of his errors. He was ordered to depart from his palace at Westminster; and all his furniture and plate were converted to the king's use. The inventory of his goods being taken, they were found to exceed even the most extravagant surmises. Of fine Holland alone there were found a thousand pieces; the walls of his palace were covered with cloth of gold and silver; he had a cupboard of plate of massy gold ; all the rest of his riches and furniture were in proportion, and probably their greatness invited the hand of power. The parliament soon after confirmed the sentence of the court of Star-Chamber against him; and he was ordered to retire to Esher, a country-seat which he possessed near Hampton; there to await the king's farther pleasure, with all the fluctuations of hope and apprehension. Still, however, he was in possession of the archbishopric of York and bishopric of Winchester; and the king gave him distant gleams of hope, by sending him a ring, accompanied with a gracious message. Wolsey, who, like every bad character, was proud to his equals, and mean to those above him, happening to meet the king's messenger on horseback, immediately alighted, and, throwing himself on his knees in the mire, received, in that abject manner, those marks of his majesty's condescenision. But his hopes were soon overturned; for, after he had remained some time at Esher, he was ordered

A.D. to remove to his see of York, where he took up 1530, his residence at Cawood, and rendered himself very popular in the neighbourhood by his affability. He was not allowed to remain long unmolested in this retreat. He was arrested by the earl of Northumberland, at the king's command, for high treason; and preparations were made for conducting him to London, in order to his trial. He at first refused to comply with the requisition, as being a cardinal; but finding the earl bent on performing his commission, he complied, and set out, by easy journeys, for London, to appear as a criminal where he had acted as a king. In his way he stayed a fortnight at the mansion of the earl of Shrewsbury; where one day at dinner he was taken ill, not without violent suspicions of having poisoned himself. Being thence brought forward, he with much difficulty reached Leicester abbey; where the monks coming out to meet him, he said, “Father abbot, I am come to lay my bones among you;” and immediately ordered his bed to be prepared. As his disorder increased, an officer being placed near, at once to guard and attend him, he spoke to him, a little before he expired, to this ef. fect: “I pray you have me heartily recommended unto his royal majesty; he is a prince of a most royal carriage, and hath a princely heart; and rather than he will miss or want any part of his will, he will endanger one half of his kingdom. I do assure you I have kneeled before him, for three hours together, to persuade him from his will and appetite; but could not prevail. Had I but served God as diligently as I have served the king, he would not have given me over in my grey hairs. But this is the just reward that I must receive for my indulgent pains and study, not regarding my service to God, but only to my prince.” He died Soon after, in all the pangs of remorse, and left a life which he had all along rendered turbid by ambition, and wretched by mean assiduities. He left two natural children; one of whom, being a priest, was loaded with church preferments. Henry being now freed from the control of a person who had for some time been an obstacle to his intentions, by Cranmer's advice he had the legality of his present marriage canvassed in the most noted universities of Europe. It was very extraordinary to see the king on one side soliciting the universities to be favourable to his passion; and, on the other, the emperor pressing them with equal ardour to be favourable to his aunt. Henry liberally rewarded those doctors who declared on his side; and the emperor granted benefices to such as voted in conformity to his wishes. Time has discovered these intrigues. In one of Henry’s account-books we find the disbursements he made on these occasions. To a sub-deacon he gave a crown, to a deacon two crowns; and he also gratified the rest, in proportion to the consequence of their station or opinion. The person, however, who bribed on these occasions, excused himself by declaring that he never paid the money till after the vote was given. In this contest, the liberalities, and consequently the votes, of Henry prevailed; his intrigues for a favourable decision being better carried on, as he was most interested in the debate. All the colleges of Italy and France unanimously declared his present marriage to be repugnant to all laws divine and human; and therefore alleged, that it was not in the power of the pope himself to grant a dispensation. The only places where this decision was most warmly opposed, were Oxford and Cambridge : but they also concurred in the same opinion at last, having furnished out the formality of a debate. But the agents of Henry were not content

with the suffrages of the universities alone; the opinions of the Jewish rabbies were also demanded; and their votes were easily bought up. . . . . . . . Henry, being thus fortified by the suffrages A. D. of the universities, now resolved to oppose even 1531. the pope himself; and began in parliament by reviving an old law against the clergy, by which it was decreed, that all those who had submitted to the legatine authority had incurred severe penalties. The clergy, to conciliate the king's favour, were compelled to pay a fine of a hundred and eighteen thousand pounds. A confession was likewise extorted from them, that the king was protector and supreme head of the church and the clergy of England. These concessions cut off a great part of the profits, and still more of the power, of the church of Rome. An act soon after was A. D. " passed against levying the first-fruits, or a year's 1532. rent, of all the bishoprics that became vacant. The tie that held Henry to the church being thus broken, he resolved to keep no farther measures with the pontiff. He therefore privately married Anne Boleyn, whom he had created marchioness of Pembroke; the duke of Norfolk, uncle to the new queen, her father, mother, and doctor Cranmer, being present at the ceremony. Soon after finding the queen pregnant, he publicly owned his marriage; and, to colour his disobedience to the pope with an appearance of triumph, he passed with his beautiful bride through London, with a magmificence greater than had been ever known before. The streets were strewed, the walls of the houses were hung with tapestry, the conduits ran with wine, and an universal joy was diffused among the people, who were contented rather with the present festivity than solicitous to examine the motives of it. Catharine, who had all along supported her claims with resolution, and yet

[ocr errors]
« ZurückWeiter »