Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

people.” It stood in a church, and the churchdoor was kept open day and night, to give credit to the lying pretence that no man could shut that door. Four protestants, thinking to test the power of the idol, travelled one night some ten miles to the church, took down the idol and burned it to ashes. For this piece of constructive sacrilege, they were all indicted of felony, and three of them hanged.*

Though individual offenders against popery were thus severely dealt with, the king and his parliament kept steadily at work, breaking, one after another, the cords which bound the nation to the papal throne. In 1532, the king called the attention of parliament to the contradiction between the oaths of the clergy to him and to the pope. The unsatisfactory answer of the clergy to the complaint of the commons, relative to the spiritual courts, was also brought to the notice of parliament; and only the sudden adjournment of both houses, on the 14th of May, in consequence of the appearance of the plague in London, prevented immediate and decisive action on these matters.

While affairs in England were becoming more and more unsatisfactory to the Romish party and their infallible head, and negotiations between Henry and the pope were in progress — if that can be called progress which includes no advance — the four great sovereigns of Europe, the Pope, the Emperor Charles V., Francis I., and Henry VIII., were diligently negotiating with each other, or rather, plotting and counterplotting against each other. Clement's desire was to unite the emperor and Francis to himself against Henry. If he could do this, he would be more than a match for Henry, powerful as he confessedly was; for Henry's subjects were divided in religious opinions, and a recent rebellion among them was only half smothered, and England had a bitter and watchful enemy in Scotland, who only wanted an opportunity to attack her.

* Fox, 11. 250.

But a union between the three arch-liars of Christendom, Clement VII., Charles V., and Francis I., was not an easy thing to effect. Several times it appeared nearly consummated. But each of these knaves believed his fellow to be as corrupt as he knew himself to be, and as ready to break his solemn pledge to his fellow-sovereigns, if a sufficient inducement was offered. And then, Henry, if not quite as dishonest as either of the quartette, was quite as shrewd and politic; so, when he found the pope, the emperor, and the king of France drawing dangerously near each other, he was ready to adopt almost any measure, however unpalatable to himself, to separate them. A favorite expedient was, to threaten to make a protestant league with the Lutheran princes of Germany. This idea Henry liked only a very little better than did the pope and the emperor. He would have much preferred a catholic union to suppress protestantism,

if that could have been made to answer his purposes just as well.

But he knew that Charles, Clement, and Francis hated the thought of a protestant union even worse than he did, and dreaded it withal ; and they saw that it was so manifestly for his interest, and for the interests of the German princes, to form such a league, that nothing was so much feared by them. This was specially true of the emperor and the pope. And Francis, if less alarmed by this threat than they were, yet appreciated fully the importance of using it to help on his favorite schemes of personal aggrandizement. His game was, to play off Henry against the emperor, with the pope; and against the pope, with the emperor; both of whom, next to a protestant league, most feared a league between Henry and Francis; for together they would have been too much for Clement and Charles. And so there was a constant bidding and maneuvring between these crowned rogues - Henry bidding for Francis against the pope and the emperor; Francis bidding for Henry against the emperor and the pope; and the emperor and the pope bidding for Francis against Henry and the German protestants.

In the summer of 1532, Henry at last succeeded in making a league, offensive and defensive, with Francis I. of France; and in October, the two monarchs met to talk over matters, and to concert plans for the future. This interview is of special interest to those who would trace the successive steps of the Reformation ; because there is reason to believe that it decided Henry's course in a very important particular. Anne Boleyn accompanied the king to France, and was received, and tacitly recognized by Francis as the chosen queen of England. Thus Francis openly and unequivocally committed himself to Henry, in his great quarrel with the pope. At this interview, Francis advised Henry to bring his protracted divorce-suit to a close by marrying Anne Boleyn at once; and solemnly bound himself to the English monarch, to stand by him should the pope interdict his kingdom, excommunicate him, and attempt to dethrone him.*

On returning to England, Henry waited about three months, and then proceeded to act on the advice of Francis, and was married to Anne Boleyn, privately, on the 25th of January, 1532-33, by Rowland Lee, afterwards Bishop of Coventry and Litchfield. This was not made public for several months. And during all the time the parties interested were busily engaged with the divorce question, but with substantially the same results as had marked its history for some six years previously.

During this year another very important step was taken towards the Reformation, by the appointment of Thomas Cranmer to the see of Canterbury, made vacant by the death of Warham, in August, 1532. The consecration took place March 13th, 1532-33.1

* Burnet, vol. I. pt. 1. bk. II. pp. 252–55; Froude, 1. 370-80. † Burnet, ut sup. p. 258; Froude, 1. 393.

On the 23d of May following, another still more important step was taken: the archbishop of Canterbury, after due process, pronounced sentence of divorce against Catharine; and thus finished, without the pope's help, this protracted, vexatious, expensive, and distracting business, which had now kept Europe in commotion for six weary years.

Why the divorce was not made to precede the marriage, it may not now be possible to decide. Perhaps Henry had not fully determined how to treat Catharine, when he married Anne. The pope, or those believed to know his views and feelings on the subject, had repeatedly intimated, that a dispensation might be easily obtained from the Roman court, authorizing Henry to have two wives; † and it is by no means incredible that Henry might have been in doubt, for a time, whether or not to avail himself of such a dispensation. The fact that he did not, favors the supposition that he really had conscientious scruples in regard to the lawfulness of his first marriage. I

* Burnet, vol. I. pt. 1. bk. 11. p. 265; Froude, 1. 379, 392.

Burnet, vol. 1. pt. 1. bk. 11. p. 98; and pt. II. bk. 11. No. 6; Froude, 1. 379. Marry freely,” the pope had said, at the outset of the discussion ; " fear nothing, and all shall be arranged as you desire.

« Multo minus scandalosum fuisset dispensare cum majesta vestrâ super duabus uxoribus, quam ea cedare quæ ego petebam,” is the reported language of Clement to one of Henry's agents who was pressing the pope for a divorce, about 1532. Froude, 1. 398-400, comp’d with p. 133. See also Herbert's Life of Henry VIII., p. 330.

| Cranmer was charged with having solemnized the marriage

« НазадПродовжити »