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servant-girl, in Kent, named Elizabeth Barton, afterwards known as “ the Maid of Kent," or Nun of Kent.” After a violent nervous sickness, this
young woman fell into a sort of delirium, in which she uttered what the priests were pleased to call prophecies and revelations. These exciting a good deal of interest in the neighborhood, she was taught to continue them, from time to time, and was furnished with suitable revelations and communications for the purpose. The government suffered the plot to go on until the cheats had grown to be rebels ; when the Maid and some half a dozen of her chief accomplices were seized, tried, and executed, for a conspiracy against the king's life and
It may seem, at first, a light affair -- this attempt of knavish priests to use a simple girl as a prophet; but it will appear otherwise when we consider that among the prophecies put into her mouth were such as these : “ that, if the king went on in the divorce and married another wife, he should not be king a month longer,
* * * but should die a villain's death"; and when we know that thousands of people were gathered around her to hear these prophecies; that books were written of her revelations ;
that even bishops, who were known to be devoted to Catharine and the old religion, were on familiar terms with this half-crazy girl; and that the number of influential persons interested in the movement was constantly increasing. When all these things are considered, it need not be counted
strange or unpardonable that the government should interfere, and bring the chief conspirators to an untimely end.*
The mendicant monks were busy during the summer of 1534, travelling up and down the country, in the pope's service; and the religious orders generally were ready to coöperate in any promising scheme of resistance or rebellion. But perhaps the most serious obstruction to the good work was found in the opposition of two distinguished men, Fisher, bishop of Rochester, one of the oldest and most influential prelates, and Sir Thomas More, one of the most learned men and most distinguished statesmen of the kingdom. They both openly and perseveringly refused the oath of succession and supremacy, and for this refusal were finally adjudged guilty of treason, and were executed; as were also several others, monks and friars. These severe acts produced great excitement throughout Christendom, and particularly in the Roman court, and called forth the famous bull of Paul III., (for Clement was now dead,) interdicting the kingdom and deposing Henry. This bull, though known, was not openly promulgated for some three years afterwards, being kept back chiefly through the influence of Francis I., king of France, as has already been mentioned.
In the spring of 1534, soon after the decision of the Romish court against Henry, which was greeted at Rome with the firing of cannon, the blaze of bonfires, processions, shouts in the streets, and other demonstrations of extravagant joysoon after this, was brought to England the rumor of gathering hosts on the continent, under the direction of Charles V., to avenge the wrongs of the papacy and the insult to his aunt, Catharine, by the conquest of England. And almost simultaneously with this rumor, Ireland, under the sanction of the pope and the direction of Charles V., broke out into open rebellion, the progress of which was marked by scenes of pillage and massacre, and cold blooded murders, such as were wont to characterize Irish movements of this kind. An English archbishop, Allen, his chaplains and servants, were among the earliest victims of this rebellion.
* Burnet, vol. 1. pt. 1. bk. 11. pp. 302-10; and pt. 11. p. 434; Froude, vol. 11. ch. VII. pp. 164-82, 198–205.
† Froude, 11. 366-95.
The fall of Anne Boleyn, on the 19th of May, 1536, was another severe stroke to the Reformation; for, whether innocent or guilty, Anne had been a steady friend to the reformers and their good work, from her first accession to royal honors to the end of her brief, but brilliant career. Burnet attributes to her influence the order from the king, in 1536, for the immediate preparation and publication of the Bible in the English tongue; which the bishops had been promising for several years, but had not furnished. They had condemned Wickliffe's Bible, as an incorrect translation, and had obtained its prohibition; they had treated Tyndale's translation in like manner; all the time craftily admitting the value of the book, but declaiming against erroneous translations. They talked about making a true and reliable translation of the Bible, but they were never quite ready to begin, much less to finish such a work; and the English nation might not have had this rich boon when they did, had not Anne Boleyn employed her great influence with the king to induce him to order the work done immediately. This was the last public act of this unfortunate queen, “who," as Burnet says, “ the nearer she drew to her end, grew more full of good works.” *
The king found immediate consolation for the loss of his once greatly beloved Anne Boleyn, by marrying, on the very day after her execution, Jane Seymour, the most amiable, and probably the best loved of all his wives, and with whose charms he had been smitten some time previous to the discovered or invented criminality of Queen Anne.
In the autumn of 1536 came the great northern rebellion, and the “ Pilgrimage of Grace," the most formidable insurrection which Henry ever encountered. It was stirred up and directed by the pope's emissaries.
In 1538–39 the whole country was again thrown into a state of excitement by the threatened invasion of the emperor Charles V., commissioned by the pope to dethrone the king of England, and punish the nation for its heresy.*
* Burnet, vol. 1. pt. 1. bk. III. pp. 391–94.
† Froude gives a full and graphic account of the insurrectionary movements in 1536–37. — Hist. Eng., vol. 111. ch. XIII.
In 1538, Gardiner, the craftiest of the conforming popish bishops, got the ear of Henry, and persuaded him to burn to death that learned, devout, and faithful Lollard, Lambert, or Nicholson, the personal friend of Bilney, and Tyndale, and Frith, who had gone before him in the martyrs' chariot to heaven. Lambert being dead, Burnet tells us : “ the party opposed to the Reformation, headed by Gardiner, persuaded the king that he had got so much reputation to himself by it, that it would effectually refute all aspersions which had been cast on him, as if he intended to change the faith.” Neither did they neglect to flatter him as indeed " a defender of the faith, and the supreme head of the church”; and thus to incite him to further acts of severity against the protestants. The bitter fruits of these flatteries appeared in the injunctions set forth by authority of the king against English books, sects, sacramentaries, etc. By these injunctions, an English book imported, sold, or published,
* Froude, 111. 342-58.
† Froude, 111. 337-42. Fox (11. 331–65) tells the story of Lambert with great particularity, and describes the cruel and unrighteous mock trial which he underwent, in which he was brow. beaten and badgered by the king most unmercifully. Lambert's death, though triumphant, was protracted and terrible. He continued to shout, as long as life remained : “None but Christ! None but Christ!” See also Burnet, vol. I. pt. 1. bk. III. pp. 505-9.