Abbildungen der Seite

The people, in general, beheld her fate with pity; but still more, when they discovered the cause of the tyrant's impatience to destroy her; for, the very next day after her execution, he married the lady Jane Seymour, his cruel heart being no way softened by the wretched fate of one who had been so lately the object of his warmest affections. He also ordered his parliament to give him a divorce between her sentence and execution; and thus he endeavoured to bastardise Elizabeth, the only child he had by her, as he had in the same manner formerly bastardised Mary, his only surviving child by queen Catharine.

It is easy to imagine that such various innovations and capricious cruelties were not felt by the people without indignation; but their murmurs were fruitless, and their complaints disregarded. Henry now made himself umpire between those of the ancient superstition and the modern reformation; both looked up to him for assistance, and, at mutual enmity with each other, he took the advantage of all. Beside, he had all the powerful men of the nation on his side, by the many grants he had made them of the lands and goods of which he had despoiled the monasteries. It was easy for him, therefore, to quell the various insurrections which his present arbitrary conduct produced, as they were neither headed by any powerful man, nor conducted with any kind of foresight, but were merely the tumultuary efforts of anguish and despair. The first rising was in Lincolnshire, headed by doctor Mackrel, prior of Barling; and though this tumultuary army amounted to twenty thousand men, upon a proclamation being made with assurances of pardon, the populace dispersed; and the prior and some of his chief confederates, falling into the king's hands, were put to death. Another rising followed soon after in the north, amounting to thirty thousand men, who were preceded by priests carrying the ensigns of their functions before the army, and seemed chiefly inspired with an enmity against Cromwell, whom they considered as the instigator of the king's severities. But these also were soon dispersed, upon finding that provisions became scarce among them; after having in vain endeavoured to attack the duke of Norfolk's army, which was sent against them, and from which they were separated by a rivulet that was swollen by heavy rains. A new insurrection broke out shortly after, headed by Musgrave and Tilby; but the insurgents were dispersed and put to flight by the duke of Norfolk. Besides one Aske, who led the former insurrection in the north, lord d'Arcy, sir Robert Constable, sir John Bulmer, sir Thomas Percy, sir Stephen Hamilton, Nicholas Tempest, and William Lumley, were thrown into prison; and most of these suffered death. Henry, enraged by multiplied revolts, resolved to put no bounds to his severities; and the birth of a prince (afterwards Edward the Sixth) and the death of the queen, who survived this joyful occasion but two days, made but a small pause in the fierce severity with which those were treated who were found to oppose his will. A. D. In the midst of these commotions, the fires of 1537. Smithfield were seen to blaze with unusual fierceness. Those who adhered to the pope, or those who followed the doctrines of Luther, were equally the objects of royal vengeance and ecclesiastical persecution. From the multiplied alterations in the national systems of belief, mostly drawn up by Henry himself, few knew what to think, or what to profess. They were ready enough, indeed, to follow his doctrines, how inconsistent or contradictory soever; but as he was continually changing them himself, they could hardly pursue so

fast as he advanced before them. Thomas Cromwell, raised by the king's caprice from being a blacksmith's son to be a royal favourite (for tyrants ever raise their favourites from the lowest of the people), and Cranmer, now become archbishop of Canterbury, were both seen to favour the Reformation with all their endeavours. On the other hand, Gardiner, bishop of Winchester, and the duke of Norfolk, were for leading the king back to his original superstition. In fact, Henry submitted to neither; his pride had long been so inflamed by flattery, that he thought himself entitled to regulate, by his single opinion, the religious faith of the whole nation. In this universal terror and degeneracy of A. D. mankind, during which the severities of one man 1538. alone seemed to be sufficient to keep millions in awe, there was a school-master in London, who boldly stood up for the rights of humanity, and ventured to think for himself. This man's name was John Lambert, who, hearing doctor Taylor preach in support of the real presence in the sacrament, presented him with his reasons for contradicting that doctrine. The paper was carried to Cranmer and Latimer, who were then of the opinion of Luther on that head, and endeavoured to bring him over to their opinions. But Lambert remained steady in his belief; and they were mortified when, instead of recanting, he appealed to the king himself. This was a challenge that pleased Henry's vanity; and, willing at once to exert his supremacy, and display his learning, he accepted the appeal; and public notice was given of his intended disputation. For this purpose, scaffolds were erected in Westminsterhall for the accommodation of the audience; and Henry appeared on his throne, accompanied with all the ensigns of majesty. The prelates were placed on his right hand; the temporal peers on his left. The judges and WOL. II. E

most eminent lawyers had a place assigned to them behind the bishops; the courtiers of the greatest distinction sat behind the Peers. Poor Lambert was produced in the midst of this splendid assembly, with not one creature to defend or support him. The bishop of Chichester opened the conference by declaring, that the king, notwithstanding any slight alterations he had made in the rites of the church, was yet determined to maintain the purity of the catholic faith, and to punish, with the utmost severity, all departure from it. After this preamble, sufficient to terrify the boldest disputant, the king asked Lambert, with a stern countenance, what his opinion was of transubstantiation ? When Lambert began his oration with a compliment to his majesty, Henry rejected his praise with disdain and indignation. He afterwards entered upon the discussion of that abstruse question, and endeavoured to press Lambert with some arguments drawn from the Scriptures and the schoolmen. At every word the audience were ready to second him with their applause and admiration. Lambert, however, no way discouraged, was not slow to reply; but here Cranmer stepped in, and seconded the king's proofs by some new topics. Gardiner entered the lists in support of Cranmer; Tonstal took up the argument after Gardiner; Stokesly brought fresh aid to Tonstal. Six bishops more appeared successively in the field against the poor solitary disputant, who for five hours attempted to vindicate his doctrines, till, at last, fatigued, confounded, brow-beaten, and abashed, he was reduced to silence. The king, then returning to the charge, demanded if he was convinced ; and whether he chose to gain life by recantation, or to die for his obstinacy? Lambert, not intimidated, replied, that he cast himself wholly on his majesty's clemency; to which Henry replied, that he would never protect a heretic ; and therefore, if that was his final answer, he must expect to be committed to the flames. Lambert, not yet terrified, heard Cromwell read the sentence, by which he was condemned to be burned alive, with the utmost composure; and, as if his persecutors were resolved to try his fortitude, the execution ors were ordered to make his punishment as painful as they could. He was, therefore, burned at a slow fire, his legs and thighs being first consumed; and when there appeared no end of his tortures, some of the guards, more merciful than the rest, lifted him on their halberts; and while he yet continued to cry out, “None but Christ ! None but Christ 1" he was wholly consumed by the surrounding fire.

This poor man's death seemed to be only a signal for that of many more. Adulation had inspired the king with such an opinion of his own ability, that he now resolved to punish rigorously all who should presume to differ from him in opinion, without making distinction between Catholics and Lutherans. Soon after, A. D. no less than five hundred persons were impri- 1539. soned for contradicting the opinions delivered in the Bloody Statute, and received protection only from the lenity of Cromwell. Doctor Barnes, who had been instrumental in Lambert's execution, felt, in his turn, the severity of the persecuting spirit; and, by a bill in parliament, without any trial, was condemned to the flames, discussing theological questions at the very stake. With Barnes were executed one Gerard and Jerome, for the same opinions. Three catholics also, whose A. D. names were Abel, Fetherstone, and Powel, were 1540. dragged upon the same hurdles to execution; and declared, that the most grievous part of their punishment was, the being coupled with such heretical miscreants as were united in the same calamity.

« ZurückWeiter »