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the queen's attendants, and Henry was so charmed with her, that he resolved to get rid of his good wife, in order to marry Anne. He complained that his conscience was very much troubled because he had married his brother's widow, and desired that the pope (who was not the same that had given permission for the marriage to take place) would command him to put away Katharine.
The pope was desirous to please Henry, but he feared, above all things, to offend the powerful Emperor Charles, who was Queen Katharine's nephew; so he put off giving an answer as long as he possibly could. Henry, enraged at the delay, resolved that the. pope should have no more authority in England. He had tried to persuade Katharine to leave him, and go into a convent, but she refused to do so, and always said that she was his lawful wife. At length, in great anger, he sent her word that she must instantly leave Windsor Castle, and return to it no more; nor would he ever permit her to see her daughter again.
Henry had procured a divorce from the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer, without the consent of the pope. He now married Anne Boleyn; and soon afterwards, in 1534, it was declared in Parliament that the pope had no authority in the Church of England.
Henry acted from a selfish motive in putting an end to the rule of the pope; but it was quite right that Englishmen should be set free from the dominion which the Bishops of Rome had usurped. And with the exception of a few unhappy years in the reign of Mary the First, England has never since been enslaved to the rule of Rome.
Poor Katharine did not live long after her husband had so cruelly sent her away; she remembered him with affection to the last, and earnestly desired to see him when she lay dying. But he did not go to her. He had heaped honours and caresses on his new queen, and appeared to be very fond of her; but it was soon Anne's turn to be supplanted, as she had supplanted Katharine. The king began to admire Jane Seymour, one of Anne's ladies in waiting; and in order to get rid of Anne, he caused her to be accused of horrible crimes, and condemned to death. Only three years after she had been crowned queen, her beautiful head was cut off in the Tower. She left an infant daughter, named Elizabeth. The very day after poor Anne's execution, the king married Jane Seymour. Jane survived her marriage only eighteen months. She died a few days after she had become the mother of a little prince, named Edward.
Henry next asked in marriage a German princess, Anna of Cleves. He had seen a portrait of her, which was beautiful, but when the lady arrived in England, and he found that she was much less handsome than her picture, he was very angry. His favourite minister, Cromwell, who had advised the marriage, was soon disgraced on a mock charge of treason, and put to death. The lady Anna herself was easily persuaded to consent that the marriage should be dissolved. She spent the remainder of her life in England, much respected on account of her goodness, and, no doubt, much happier in her retirement than she could have been as the wife of Henry the Eighth.
He chose for his fifth wife, a beautiful young lady, named Katharine Howard, and for a little while appeared perfectly happy. But the unfortunate Katharine came to a miserable end. While yet a little child, she had been left an orphan, and had been suffered to grow up amongst wicked servants and companions, who led her into great sin. She had been queen but a little while, when some of these wretches betrayed her former misconduct, and Henry put her to death without mercy.
Every lady in England was afraid of him; and when he told Katharine Parr, the widow of Lord Latimer, that his choice had fallen on her, she was dismayed. But it was dangerous to refuse so fierce and self-willed a suitor; and Katharine Parr became his sixth wife. She was a very pious and learned woman, a kind mother to the king's children, and a most patient gentle nurse to the king, who became miserably diseased towards the close of his life. But Henry's temper became more and more furious as his bodily sufferings increased; and all Katharine's excellent qualities hardly availed to save her from a cruel death.
Henry adhered to the doctrines of Rome, though he had shaken off the authority of the pope. Katharine loved the doctrines which are now those of the English Church, and sometimes upheld them in her conversations with the king. Some of Henry's councillors, whose religion was like his, and especially Bishop Gardiner and Chancellor Wriothesley, longed to destroy the queen, and finding the king very much out of temper one day when she had been arguing with him against some Romish doctrine, they per
suaded him to sign a warrant for her arrest. Happily, the chancellor dropped the paper without being aware of it, and some friend of the queen found it, and brought it to her.
When Katharine knew that the king had consented to deliver her into the hands of her enemies, she gave herself up for lost, and became ill with terror and distress. Henry relented a little when he heard of her sickness, but as soon as she was sufficiently recovered to attend on him as usual, he turned the conversation to religion, and tried to make her argue with him again, saying, "You are become a doctor, Kate, to instruct us." "Not so, Sir," said Katharine, meekly; "I only wished to divert you from your pain by these arguments, and to instruct myself in some things about which I stood in doubt." "Is it so, sweetheart?" said he, "then we are friends again.
The next day, Wriothesley, who little thought the king had changed his mind, came into the palace garden where Henry and Katharine were walking together. He had brought with him forty armed men, intending to seize the queen, and carry her off to the Tower. But Henry met him with a burst of indignation, called him "knave," "beast," and "fool," and ordered him to get out of his sight instantly. Katharine, seeing her husband so incensed against the chancellor, generously interceded for him. "Ah, poor soul!" said Henry, "thou little knowest how ill he deserveth this grace at thy hands. On my word, Kate, he hath been to thee a very knave." After some time he forgave Wriothesley, but could never again endure the sight of Gardiner. And during the short remainder of her husband's life, no one dared to molest Katharine Parr.
It is now necessary to say something about that great change in the Church which began to take place in the time of Henry the Eighth, and which is called the Reformation.
At the time when Henry began to reign, England and most other nations of Europe had long been subject to the authority of the pope in all matters relating to religion. The teaching of the popes and their clergy had become so contrary to the truth of the Scriptures, that it might well have been said of them "They make void the Word of God through their traditions . . . . teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." For this reason, they forbade the people generally to read the Scriptures. Those men who dared to do so, and who refused to conform any longer to the Romish superstitions, were called heretics and Lollards, and given over to the flames. But most of the people were contented to believe what their priests taught them; they could not understand the prayers offered in their churches, because the services were in Latin; but their senses were pleased with the fanciful ceremonies and showy processions, with the incense, and brilliant lights, and the rich dresses of the clergy.
The churches were adorned with images and pictures of the Blessed Virgin and many other saints, before which the people knelt to pray. They were taught to believe that the saints could help them; and instead of trusting wholly in the One Mediator between God and man, Christ Jesus, they looked to the saints