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true or false, were urged with great clamour against these communities; and a general horror was excited in the nation against them. The king now thought he might with safety, and even some degree of popularity, abolish these institutions; but, willing to proceed gently at first, he gave directions to the parliament to go no farther at present than to suppress the smaller monasteries, which possessed revenues below the value of two hundred A. D. pounds a year. By this act three hundred and 1536. seventy-six monasteries were suppressed; and their revenues, amounting to thirty-two thousand pounds a year, were granted to the king, besides their goods and plate, computed at a hundred thousand pounds more. But this was only the beginning of his confiscations; for, about two years after, he resolved upon the entire destruction of all monasteries whatsoever. A new visitation was therefore appointed, and fresh crimes were also produced; so that his severities were conducted with such seeming justice and success, that in less than two years he became possessed of the revenues of all the monastic foundations. These, on the whole, amounted to six hundred and forty-five, of which twenty-eight had abbots who enjoyed a seat in parliament. Ninety collegiate institutions, two thousand three hundred and seventy-four chantries and free chapels, and a hundred and ten hospitals, were likewise suppressed. The whole revenue of these establishments amounted to one hundred and sixty-one thousand pounds—less than a twentieth part of the national income. The loss which was sustained by the clergy upon this occasion, was by no means so great or mortifying as the cruel insults and reproaches to which they were exposed for their former frauds and avarice. The numberless relics which they had amassed to delude and
draw money from the people, were now brought forward, and exposed before the populace with the most poignant contempt:—an angel with one wing, that brought over the head of the spear which pierced the side of Christ; coals that had roasted St. Lawrence; the parings of St. Edmund's toes; certain relics to prevent rain; others to stop the generation of weeds among corn. There was a crucifix at Boxley in Kent, distinguished by the appellation of the Rood of Grace, which had been long in reputation for bending, raising, rolling the eyes, and shaking the head. It was brought to London, and broken to pieces at Paul's cross ; and the wheels and springs by which it was actuated were shown to the people. At Hales, in Gloucestershire, the monks had carried on a profitable traffic with the pretended blood of Christ in a crystal phial. This relic was no other than the blood of a duck killed weekly, and exhibited to the pilgrim : if his prayers were accepted, the blood was shown him ; if supposed to be rejected, the phial was turned; and, being on one side opaque, the blood was no longer to be seen. But the spoils of St. Thomas à Becket's shrine, at Canterbury, exceeded what even imagination might conceive. The shrine was broken down; and the gold that adorned it filled two large chests, which eight strong men could hardly carry out of the church. The king even cited the saint himself to appear, and to be tried and condemned as a traitor. He ordered his name to be struck out of the calendar, his bones to be burned, and the office for his festival to be struck out of the breviary. Such were the violent measures with which the king proceeded against these seats of indolence and imposture; but as great murmurs were excited upon this occasion, he took care that all those who could be useful to him, or even dangerous in cases of opposition, should be sharers in the spoil. He either made a gift of the revenues of the convents to his principal courtiers, or sold them at low prices, or exchanged them for other lands on very disadvantageous terms. He erected six new bishoprics, Westminster, Oxford, Peterborough, Bristol, Chester, and Gloucester, of which the last five still continue. He also settled salaries on the abbots. and priors, proportioned to their former revenues or their merits; and each monk was allowed a yearly pension of eight marks for his subsistence. But though the king had entirely separated himself from Rome, he was unwilling to follow any guide in constructing a new system. He would not therefore, wholly abolish those practices by which priestcraft had been carried to such a pitch of absurdity. The invocation of saints was not yet abolished by him, but only restrained. He procured an act, or more properly speaking, gave orders, to have the Bible translated into the vulgar tongue; but it was not permitted to be put into the hands of the laity. It was a capital crime to believe in the pope's supremacy; and yet equally heinous to be of the reformed religion, as established in Germany. His opinions were at length delivered in a law, which, from its horrid consequences, was afterwards. termed the Bloody Statute, by which it was ordained, that, whoever, by word or writing, should deny transubstantiation, whoever should persist in affirming that: the communion in both kinds was necessary, that it was lawful for priests to marry, that vows of chastity. might be broken, that private masses were unprofitable, or that auricular confession was unnecessary, should be. found guilty of heresy, and burned or hanged as the court: should determine. As the people were at that. time chiefly composed of those who followed the opir. nions of Luther, and such as still adhered to the pope, this statute, with Henry's former decrees, in some measure included both, and opened a field for persecution, which soon after produced its dreadful harvests. These severities, however, were preceded by one of a different nature, arising neither from religious morpolitical causes, but merely from tyrannical caprice. Anne Boleyn, his queen, had been always a favourer of the Reformation, and consequently had many enemies on that account, who only waited a convenient occasion to destroy her credit with the king; and that occasion too soon presented itself. The king's passion was by this time palled by satiety. As the only desire he ever had for her arose from that brutal appetite which enjoyment soon destroys, he had now fallen in love, if we may so prostitute the expression, with another, and languished for the possession of Jane Seymour, who had for some time been maid of honour to the queen. As soon as the queen's enemies perceived the king's disgust, they resolved on taking the first opportunity of gratifying his inclination to get rid of her, by producing crimes against her, which his passions would quickly make real. The viscountess Rochford in particular, who was married to the queen's brother, herself a woman of infamous character, began with the most cruel insinuations against the reputation of her sister-in-law. She pretended that her own husband was engaged in an incestuous correspondence with his sister; and, not contented with this insinuation, represented all the harmless levities of the queen as favours of a criminal na– ture. The king's jealousy first appeared openly in a tilting at Greenwich, where the queen happened to drop her handkerchief, as was supposed, to one of her mimions to wipe his face, after having overheated himself in the exercise. Though this might have been very harmless, the king abruptly retired from the place, and sent orders to have her confined to her apartment. Anne smiled at first, thinking the king was injest; but when she found it was a very serious affair, she received the sacrament in her closet, sensible of what little mercy she had to expect from so furious a tyrant.
In the mean time her enemies were not remiss in inflaming the accusation against her. The duke of Norfolk, from his attachment to the old religion, took care to produce several witnesses, accusing her of incontinence with some of the meaner servants of the court. Four persons were particularly pointed out as her paramours; Henry Norris, groom of the stole, Weston and Brereton, gentlemen of the king's bed-chamber, together with Mark Smeton, a musician. As these had served her with much assiduity, their respect might have been construed by suspicion into more tender attachments. The next day the queen was sent to the Tower, earnestly protesting her innocence, and sending up prayers to heaven for assistance in this extremity. She in vain begged to be admitted into the presence of the king; the lady Boleyn, her uncle's wife, who had always hated her, was ordered to continue in the same chamber, and she made a report of all the incoherent ravings of the afflicted prisoner. She owned that she had once rallied Norris on his delaying his marriage, and had told him that he probably expected her when she should be a widow. She had reproved Weston, she said, for his affection to a kinswoman of her’s, and his indifference towards his wife; but he told her that she had mistaken the object of his affection, for it was herself. She af. firmed that Smeton had never been in her chamber but twice, when he played on the harpsichord; but she acknowledged that he once had the boldness to tell her, that a look sufficed him.