Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

firmed and strengthened by successive parliaments, down to the times of Richard II. and Henry IV. Yet the pope never yielded what he had once claimed, and continued to exercise his usurped authority whenever he could. And such was the condition of most English kings, from the days of Edward I. to Henry VII., that the statutes of Provisors and Præmunire were but little attended to; and the popes generally had very much their own old way in England. Still, the laws were on the statute-book; and now Henry. VIII. resolved to apply them as a scourge, to drive the clergy into his own darling schemes. Having first killed poor Wolsey by the application of these long quiescent statutes, he next proceeded to apply them to the clergy generally. Wolsey had received bulls from Rome, and had exercised legatine authority in England; all which was against law: and the clergy had recognized this legatine authority, and appeared in his court, and done business there; which were equally against the statutes of Provisors and Præmunire : and “they were, therefore, with the great offender, also, at the king's mercy. He could put them out of his protection, confiscate all their property, and imprison their persons. This they understood; and, fully aware of the unmerciful character of the king when his own ends were to be answered, they were only too happy to escape the full infliction of this whip of scorpions by compliance with the royal wishes in other things. On this condition, they were let off with a fine; the province of Canterbury paying one hundred thousand, and York eighteen thousand eight hundred and forty pounds. And it was while under this rod of correction that the convo. cation first addressed Henry VIII. as “ The Protector and Supreme Head of the Church and Clergy of England” -- a title which he claimed from them, and which was subsequently confirmed by an act of parliament.*

The several acts and transactions of the king and parliament and convocation, which have now been mentioned, were certainly sufficiently admonitory of the temper of the king, and indicative of his power over parliament and convocation. But the pope would not receive the admonition. He trusted to the usual devices of the Roman court to counteract and defeat all these unfriendly doings; or he hoped that some happy turn in affairs would make everything right again between England and Rome. Clement was indeed in a difficult position. A man destitute of principle, of decision of character, and of all manly qualities, who trusted to temporary expedients, rather than to honest, straightforward purposes - placed between the powerful and unscrupulous emperor, Charles V.,

* Statutes, 22 Hen. VIII. ch. 15; Burnet, vol. I. pt. I. bk. II. pp. 214-28.

The statute of Præmunire, according to Burnet, was so called from the leading word in the statute: “In writs of præmunire facias," etc. — Statutes, 7 Richard II. chap. 14. There is a very good summary account of these statutes of Provisors and Præmunire in Dobson's old Encyclopædia, art. Præmunire.

5

VOL. II.

vorce.

and the arrogant and determined king, Henry VIII. sure to offend, mortally, one of these men if he openly sided with the other, and liable to be ground to powder between them- what could have been expected of Clement VII. but that he should flatter and lie, and seek to cheat both parties; that he should shuffle and maneuvre to avoid either horn of the dilemma which threatened his own destruction, while it imperilled the peace and unity of the whole Romish church? He would gladly have given Henry a bill of di

It was no great affair, in itself considered ; but he was afraid of Charles V., who had warmly espoused the cause of his aunt, Catharine. And yet, Henry and the English nation were too valuable to the papacy to be lightly cast aside. He seems, however, finally to have concluded that there was less danger from “the Defender of the Faith," and the “ patient ass," which England had long been to Rome, than from the unscrupulous and powerful emperor. So, while he flattered Henry with delusive hopes, he gratified Charles with a refusal of any definite answer to Henry's prayer.

But the pope was mistaken in reckoning on the faith and forbearance of Henry and his people; for, at the next session of the parliament, which met on the 15th of January, 1531-32, several bills were introduced, which struck more directly at the pope's power and influence than any that had preceded them. The first act of the commons was

to enter a complaint against the clergy, and to petition the king to protect his subjects from the violent and unlawful proceedings of the spiritual courts, particularly the practice of the bishops in calling men before them ex officio, without any accuser, and laying charges against them which must either be abjured, or expose the accused to the stake.

An act for restraining the payment of “annates, or first fruits, to the court of Rome," which had been “extorted by restraint of bulls and other writs," was also passed by this parliament. By annates was meant the income for one year of the see of a deceased bishop or archbishop, which the pope exacted from the successor before he was allowed to enter fully upon that see.

These exactions, which the parliament say " were founded on no law," had carried out of the kingdom daily, “great and inestimable” sums of money, chiefly in coin, “which, from the second year of King Henry VII., to that present time (1532], amounted to eight hundred thousand ducats," or, in sterling money, to at least eightscore thousand pounds, “besides other great and intolerable sums.” It was a grievous tax on the bishops, and sometimes ruinous to their friends, when the new bishop happened to die soon after entering upon his see. This act was passed conditionally, that, if the pope would moderate the payment of annates, the king might annul this act.*

* Statutes of the Realm, 23 Hen. VIII. ch. 20, sect. 4; Burnet, vol.

These doings of the king and parliament alarmed the pope, touching as they did his income

his most tender point — and he sought to stop the progress of defection by a letter to the king, and by a new citation of his majesty to Rome to answer to Catharine's appeal. But the king refused to appear, either himself or by proxy, anywhere out of his own kingdom. When the pope expostulated with Henry's agents about this act, he was told that it was still in the king's power, and except the pope provoked the king, it would not be put into execution. The pope and his consistory were at this time in great commotion, and knew not what to do. : Faction, intrigue, and bribery were all rife in Rome. But nothing was done to heal the breach between Henry and the pope, England and Rome.*

While the doings of the English parliament were certainly antipapistical and revolutionary, the popular feeling far outran the parliament in that direction. This appeared, among other ways, in the disposition to attack and destroy images and crucifixes in the highways, and even in the churches. During the years 1531 and 1532, many of these idols were thrown down, burned, or otherwise destroyed. Among others, there was a very famous " idol,” Fox tells us, "named the Rood, of Dover Court, whereunto was much and great resort of

I. pt. 1. bk. II. pp. 237–39; Froude, 1. 326-43. This act was ratified by the king's letters patent, July 9th, 1534.

* Burnet, ut sup

« НазадПродовжити »