« ZurückWeiter »
errand they came upon was to obtain a confirmation of the settlement of the church-lands made in parliament by Cardinal Pole: that was not only fiatly refused, but a bull was published that in effect repealed it all*:
“ It begins setting forth what Pope Symmachus decreed against the alienating of any lands belonging to the church, upon any pretence whatsoever, or farming out the rights of the church : he laid an anathema on all who should be any way concerned in such bargains; and gave an authority to any ecclesiastical person to recover all, with the mean
profits ; and this was to take place in all churches. Pope Paul the Second had likewise condemned all alienations of churchgoods, and all farms of leases beyond the term of three years, and had annulled all such agreements, farms, or leases. Both the parties, as well the granter as the receiver of such leases, were put under excommunication ; and the goods so alienated were to revert to the church. But these prohibitions notwithstanding, of late years several persons, both of the laity and of the clergy, bad possessed themselves of castles and lands, belonging both to the church of Rome, and to other cathedrals, and even to metropolitan churches; and to monasteries, regular houses, and hospitals, under the pretence of alienations, to the evident damage of those churches and monasteries, without observing the solemnities required by law in such cases; and they continue their possession, by which the incumbents in those great sufferers; and the popes themselves, who were wont to supply the poor who came to Rome out of these lands, are no more able to do that, and can scarce maintain themselves and their families; which turns to the offence of God, the reproach of the clergy, and is matter of scandal to the faithful: therefore the pope of his own motion, upon certain knowledge, and hy virtue of the plenitude of the apostolic power, does annul all the alienations, or impropriations, either perpetual, or leases to the third, or to a single life, or beyond the term of three years; or exchanges and farms of cities, or lands, or goods, or rights, belonging to the Roman church; or to any cathedral, monastery, regular house, or to any ecclesiastical benefice, with or without cure; to seculars or regulars, hospitals, and other pious foundations, by whomsoever made, though by popes, or by their authority; or by the prelates of cathedrals, monasteries, or hospitals; or the rectors of churches, though cardinals, that had been made without the solemnities required by law, in what form of words soever they have been made, though confirmed by
* See the Collection of the former books, No.i.
oath, and established by a long prescription : all these are by the apostolic authority rescinded, annulled, and made void, and the possessors of such lands are to be compelled by all censures, and pecuniary pains, to make satisfaction for all the mean profits received, or to be received; and all judges are required to give judgment conform to this bull.” Dated the 12th of July.
Thus the pope, instead of confirming what the legate had done, did, in the most formal terms possible, reverse and annul it all. Even papal alienations, or made by the papal authority, are made void. The pretended consent of the convocation is declared null; and all ratications of what was at first illegally made are annulled. By this also, not only the possessors of church-lands, but all the tenants to any estate belonging to the church, who hold for lives, or years, beyond the term of three years, may see in this bull how that all that they now hold by those tenures is made void. No doubt the ambassadors of England did all that in them lay to have this bull softened, or to have an exception made for England: but that pope was not to be moved, and perhaps he thought he showed no small favour to England, on the queen's account, in not naming it in this bull; and in not fulminating on the account of the late settlement. Thus the maiter of securing the abbey-lands by that fraudulent transaction is now pretty apparert.
Pope Paul was in the right in one thing, to press the setting up courts of inquisition everywhere, as the only sure method to extirpate heresy. And it is highly probable that the king, or his Spanish ministers, made the court of England apprehend, that torture and inquisition were the only sure courses to root out heresy. It has appeared already what orders were given about iorture, even to use it at discretion; but another step was made that carried this matter much further.
Instructions had been given in March, 1555, to the justices of peace, to have one or more honest men in every parish, secretly instructed to give information of the behaviour of the inhabitants amongst or about them. One of these was directed to the earl of Sussex, who acted with a superlative measure of zeal: he wrote, on the 18th of April this year, to the bishop of Norwich ; complaining, that at a town near him, there had been no sepulchre nor creeping to the cross before Easter. The day after he wrote that letter, it appears by another of his letters, that Ket, who led the insurrection in Norfolk, in King Edward's reign, and whose body was hanged in chains, had fallen down from the gallows; and that prophecies were spread about the country, of what
should follow when that should happen. He ordered the body to be hanged up again, if it was not wasted; and he imprisoned those that gave out these prophecies. He went on to greater malters, and drew up an account of the obedience that the justices had paid to all the instructions and orders that had been sent them. I had a volume of his letters in my hands some years ago; but I wrote out of it only the answers he returned to the sixth article, in these words : “ It is agreed, that the justices of the peace, in every of their limits, sha'l call secretly before them one or two honest and secret persons, or more, by their discretions, and such as they shall think good, and command them, by oath, or otherwise, as the same justice shall think good, that they shall secretly learn and search out such person and persons as shall evil behave themselves in the church, or idly, or despise openly by words, the king's and queen's proceedings; or go about to make or move any stir, commotion, or unlawiul gatherings together of the people; or that tell any lewd or seditious tales, rumours, or news, to move or stir any person or persons to rise, stir, or make any commction or insurrection, or 10 consent to any such intent or purpose. And also, that the same persons so to be appointed shall declare to the same justices of peace, the illbehaviour of lewd, disordered persons; whether it shall be for using unlawful games, idleness, and such other light behaviour of such suspected persons, as shall be in the same town, or near thereabouts : and that the same informations shall be given secretly to the justices; and the same justices shall call such accused persons before them, and examine them, without declaring by whom they be accused. And that the same justices shall, upon their examination, punish the offenders, according as their offences shall appear to them, upon the accusement and examination, by their discreticn, either by open punishment, or by good abearing.”
Here was a great step made towards an inquisition : this being the settled method of that court, to have sworn spies and informers everywhere, upon whose secret advertisements persons are taken up: and the first step in their examination is, to know of them, for what reason they are brought before them : upon which, they are tortured, till they tell as much as the inquisitors desire to know, either against themselves or others. But they are not suffered to know, neither what is informed against them, nor who are the informers. Arbitrary torture, and now secret inforniers, seem to be two great steps made to prepare the nation for an inquisition.
In September, the duchess of Suffolk, who had married
Mr. Bertie, went out of the kingdom without a licence : upon which, a commission was sent into Lincolnshire to take an account of her estate. On the 19th of September, there was a paper cast into a house near Fulham, with some intimations of ill designs in Essex. The master of the house brought it to the council; upon which they sent orders to that country, to see what foundation there was for such suspicions. Tracy (probably the son of him, concerning whose will there was much ado made in King Henry's time) had been brought before the bishop of Gloucester; and he, as was informed, behaved himself stubbornly towards him : upon which, he was brought before the council, and was required to declare his conformity in maiters of religion. He promised to do it; and upon that he was sent back to his country. On the 23d of September, there were some hopes given of the king's coming back ; upon which, Sir Richard Southwell was sent to attend on him. On the 9th of October, the governor of Jersey having examined one Gardiner for speaking some indecent words of the king, desired orders how to proceed against him ; upon which he was ordered to proceed according to the statutes, if these took place in that island: but if not, according to the custom of the place.
On the 12th of September, Brooks, bishop of Gloucester, who was constituted subdelegate to Cardinal Puteo, the pope's delegate, to try Cranmer (it being, it seems, thought indecent, that Pole, who was to succeed him, should be his judge), came to Oxford, with Martin and Story, who were the king and queen's commissioners, to demand justice against Cranner, exhibiting articles against him. Cranmer made a long apology for himself. Among other things, he said, “ the loss of his promotion grieved him not: he thanked God as heartily for that poor and afflicted state in which he was then, as ever lie did for the times of his prosperity. But that which stuck closest to him, and created him the greatest sorrow, was, to think that all that pains and trouble, that had been taken by King Henry and himself for so many years, to retrieve the ancient authority of the kings of England, and to vindicate the nation from a foreign yoke, and from the baseness and infinite inconveniences of crouching to the bishops of Rome, should now thus easily be quite undone ; and that the king and queen should, in their own realm, become his accusers, before a foreign power. If he had transgressed the law, they had sufficient authority to punish him; and to that he would at all times submit himself.” They exhibited interrogatories to him; and he gave his answer to them. In conclusion, they required him to go to Rome, within fourscore
days, to make his answer in person. He said he was most willing to go, if the king and queen would send him.
On the 16th of October, Ridley and Latimer suffered matyrdom : but Gardiner, who was with impatience waiting for the news, was, soon after he heard it, struck with an illness, in which he languished for some time. Pilkington, bishop of Duresme, in a sermon that he preached, said, “ he rotted above ground, so that it was scarce possible to get any to come near him.” He died on the 12th of November. On the 5th of November, orders were given for to dispose of many prisoners.
Cranmer was now to be offered up. Some have thought, that upon his attainder the see of Canterbury was vacant; and, indeed, the chapter of Canterbury acted accordingly : but the papal authority being restored, he was still, according to the papal law, archbishop, till, by a commission from Rome, he was judged an obstinate heretic, and was thereupon deprived. When the eighty days were out, a mock process was made at Rome ; in which it was falsely said, that he did not care to appear; upon which he was declared contumacious; and then a formal sentence was given in the pope's name, as sitting on the throne of justice, having before his eyes God alone, who is the righteous Lord, and judgeth the world in righteousness.” With such specious words was that grossly unrighteous judgment introduced. And upon that, a letter came from Rome on the 14th of December, mentioning his being condemned and deprived, and delivering him over to the secular arm. The deprivation must have
passed some days before : for, on the 11th of December, Pole's bulls were granted, in which mention is made of the see's being vacant, by the deprivation of Cranmer. The writ for burning him mentions his being judged an obstinate heretic by the pope, and deprived by him; and that he had been degraded by the bishops of London and Ely, by commission from the pope : so, on the 24th of February, the writ was sealed. I have nothing to add to the sad narration I gave, both of his fall, and of his repentance, and his firm constancy to the last, in that amazing instance of holding his hand in the fire, till it was almost burnt away; of which Thuanus gives a very particular account, so that the truth of the fact cannot be disputed.
On the 13th of March, the privy-council were concerned, when they heard his paper of recantation was printed. Rydall and Copeland, two printeis, were required to deliver to Cawood, the queen's printer, the books of his recantation, to be burned by him. One part of his character may be