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eximined apart, whether they by the law of God could prove that he who is called the pope of Rome is above the general council, or that above him; or whether he hath given to him, by the law of God, any more authority within the realm than any other foreign bishop.-2. To devise with all the bishops, to set forth and preach to the king's people, that a general council is above the bishop of Rome, and all bishops, and that the bishop of Rome hath no more authority in this realm than any other foreign bishop, and that his exercise of authority heretofore in the realm has been usurped, and only by sufferance of the princes of the realm.
-3. That order be taken to have this doctrine preached every Sunday at St. Paul's Cross; and that the bishop of London suffer no other doctrine to be preached at St. Paul's. —4. That all the bishops of the realm be bound and ordered to preach this same doctrine throughout all their dioceses. -- 5. That special practice be made, and also a straight commandment given, to all provincials, ministers, and rulers of all the four orders of friars within this realm, that they cause the same doctrine to be preached by all the preachers of their religion through the whole realm. -6. To practise with all the friars Observantes, and to command them to preach in like manner. 7. That every abbot, friar, and other heads of religious houses, shall in like manner teach convents and brethren to teach and declare the same. 8. That every bishop shall make special commandment to all his clergy to preach in like manner. 9. Proclamation to be made throughout the realm of the act against appeals to Rome.
The above is a sample of the minutes. There is much more of similar import, showing what painstaking every step in the great reformation required from the men who directed the affairs of Church and State in those eventful days.*
In November and December of 1534, there was another session of parliament, which, though quite short — from the third of November to the eighteenth of December -- was yet a most important session; for in it was passed the act which established by law the right and title which Henry had previously extorted from the clergy -- that of " Supreme Head of the Church of England.”
This act is short, and for its importance deserves to be given entire, as on it is built the whole fabric of the present church of England. It is entitled : 6 An Act concerning the King's Highness, to be Supreme Head of the Church of England, and to have authority to reform and redress all errors, heresies, and abuses in the same”; and reads thus : “ Albeit the king's majesty justly and rightfully is and ought to be [oweth to be] the supreme head of the church of England, and so is recognized by the clergy of this realm in their convocations; yet, nevertheless, for corroboration and confirmation thereof, and for increase of virtue in Christ's religion within this realm of England, and to repress and extirpate all errors, heresies, and other enormities and abuses heretofore used in the same : Be it enacted by authority of this present parliament, that the king our sovereign lord, his heirs and successors, kings of this realm, shall be taken, accepted, and reported the only supreme head in earth of the church of England, called Anglicana ecclesia, and shall have and enjoy annexed and united to the imperial crown of this realm, as well the title and style thereof, as all honors, dignities, preëminences, jurisdictions, privileges, authorities, immunities, profits, and commodities to the said dignity of supreme head of the same church belonging and appertaining; and that our said sovereign lord, his heirs and successors, kings of this realm, shall have full power and authority, from time to time, to visit, repress, redress, reform, order, correct, restrain, and amend, all such errors, heresies, abuses, offences, contempts, and enormities, whatsoever they be, which by any manner, spiritual authority, or jurisdiction ought or may lawfully be reformed, repressed, ordered, redressed, corrected, restrained, or amended, most to the pleasure of Almighty God, the increase of virtue in Christ's religion, and for the conservation of the peace, unity, and tranquillity of this realm : any usage, custom, foreign laws, foreign authority, prescription, or any other thing or things to the contrary hereof notwithstanding." *
* State Papers, vol. 1. pt. 11. No. 20, pp. 411-14,
In this session, likewise, an act was passed reciting and ratifying the oath of obedience to the king and his heirs by Queen Anne, required by the statute 25 Henry VIII. ch. 22, sect. 9;* and another act, granting to the king and his heirs the payment of the first fruits, heretofore given to the pope, and the yearly tenths of all spiritual livings; † and still another, making it high treason, and taking away all sanctuaries from persons who should “wish, will, or desire, by words or writing, or by craft imagine, invent, practise, or attempt any bodily harm to the king's most royal person, the queen's, or their heirs apparent, or to deprive them of the dignity, title, and name of their royal estates, or slanderously and maliciously publish and pronounce, by express writing or words, that the king our sovereign lord, should be heretic, schismatic, tyrant, infidel, usurper of the crown." }
This parliament further proceeded at once to a practical application of the principles established by previous acts in reference to the appointment and institution of bishops, by making provision for the nomination and consecration of twenty-six new suffragan bishops. It likewise passed acts of attainder against Fisher, bishop of Rochester, and Sir Thomas More, ex-chancellor of the kingdom, and several others, for refusing to take the oath relating to the succession of the crown. ||
* Statutes, 26 Henry VIII. ch. 2. | Ib. ch. 13.
§ Ib. ch. 14.
† Ib. ch. 3.
THE years 1535–1541 were filled with transactions and events of deep moment to the Reformation. In 1535 the memorable visitation of the monasteries began. These “religious houses” were found to be, generally, cages of unclean birds or beasts, and the lesser ones were suppressed in 1536, and the greater ones in 1539.* In 1535, also, fell those great props of popery, Bishop Fisher and Sir Thomas More.† Another of the signs of the
* Statutes of the Realm, 27 Henry VIII. chaps. 27 and 28; and 31 Henry VIII. ch. 13; Burnet, vol. 1. pt. 1. bk. III. pp. 388, 445; Fuller's Church History, bk. VI.; Froude's Hist. Eng., vol. 11. ch. x.
† Burnet, vol. 1. pt. 1. bk. II. p. 321.
Fox calls More, “a bitter persecutor of good men.” Acts and Mons., 11. 293, 294. Froude's account of More and Fisher is very full and graphic, in vol. II. chi IX. For examples of More's cruel and persecuting temper, see particularly pp. 72–88, and 229. Burnet says of More : “He was one of the bitterest enemies of the new preachers, not without great cruelty when he came into power, though he was otherwise a very good-natured man." Vol. 1. pt. I. bk. I. p. 32. It is but common justice to his memory to add, that More ex