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ever, of humble parentage, though not below the benefits of education; for his father procured him a good education, and brought him up for the church, which was, in that age, what the law has been in modern times, the ladder by which able men of the lowest classes to which the opportunities of a liberal education reached, climbed to the highest stations which a subject can fill.* Wolsey studied at Oxford, where, on account of his precocity, and the early age at which he took his degree, he was called, "The Boy Bachelor.' For some time he taught the Grammar School adjoining to Magdalen College, and had the sons of the Marquis of Dorset among his pupils. The marquis gave him the living of Limington, in Somerset (1500), which he soon left, to become domestic chaplain to the Treasurer of Calais. The treasurer introduced him to Fox, who, perceiving the wit and ability of the chaplain, recommended him to Henry VII. That King entrusted him with a secret and delicate negotiation, at the imperial court, which he executed with so much address and expedition, that Henry promoted him to the deanery of Lincoln, and recommended his son to make him his almoner; an office which gave Wolsey every facility of access to the presence of young monarch.
10. His Offices and Preferments. The new almoner captivated Henry with the elegance of his manners and the gaiety of his disposition; his house was the frequent resort of the King; and, according to Polydore Virgil, the Pope's sub-collector in England, and an enemy of the cardinal, he threw off, on the occasions of these royal visits, all the decencies of his station, and sang, and danced, and caroused with all the levity and impetuosity of youth.+ When Henry invaded France, he was entrusted with the department for victualling the army; and after the reduction of Tournay received the administration of that diocese. In the following year (1514) he was made Dean of York, and then Bishop of Lincoln; and in a few months afterwards he was appointed Archbishop of York. In 1515, he received a cardinal's hat, and in the same year succeeded Archbishop Markham in the office of chancellor; and, in 1519, he was made papal legate, with the extraordinary power of suspending the laws and canons of the church. Yet, with all these offices and preferments, his ambition was not satisfied; and he laboured hard, but in vain, to seat himself in the chair of St. Peter.
11. His wealth and revenues. dinate only to his love of
*Mackintosh, II., 120.
His love of wealth was suborHe derived considerable emolu+ Lingard, VI., 32,
ments from the courts over which he presided as chancellor and legate. "He was archbishop of York; he farmed the revenues of Hereford and Worcester, sees which had been granted to foreigners; he held in commendam the abbey of St. Alban's, with the bishopric of Bath; and afterwards, as they became vacant, he exchanged Bath for the rich bishopric of Durham, and Durham for the still richer see of Winchester."* In addition to these revenues he received presents and pensions from foreign princes; Francis settled upon him a pension of 12,000 livres as a compensation for the bishopric of Tournay, and Charles and Pope Leo X. conferred upon him a yearly pension of 7,500 ducats from the bishoprics of Toledo and Palencia, in Spain. Though he thus grasped at wealth, it must be said in justice to his memory, that he was rapacious not to hoard, but to spend, his wealth; for the celibacy of his order stood in the way of accumulation of fortune; and he was prodigal in his household, in his dress, in his retinue, in his palaces, and in the magnificence of his literary and religious foundations.
12. His Grandeur and Power. His establishment comprised as many as 800 individuals. The chief offices were filled by barons and knights; and he numbered among his retainers the sons of many distinguished families, who aspired under his patronage to civil or military preferment. He surrounded himself with pomp and ceremony wherever he went; and "his passion for shows and festivities, not an uncommon infirmity in men intoxicated by sudden wealth, perhaps served him with a master whose ruling folly seemed to be of the same harmless and ridiculous nature,"S and who doubtless looked upon all the glory of his minister as a mere reflection of his own.
The buildings he erected were of the most costly description; and as soon as he had finished the palace of Hampton Court, and furnished it in the most sumptuous manner,
whole to Henry.
he gave the
Literature found in him a constant and bountiful patron: and while he invited the most eminent scholars of the continent to teach in the universities, he encouraged the learning of his own country, and heaped preferment upon native scholars, His conversations with Henry upon their favourite author Aquinas, are said to have been one of his means of pleasing so capricious a monarch. Both the universities were the objects of his care, and especially Oxford, where he endowed seven lectureships, and laid
* Lingard, VI., 42. † Ibid.
Mackintosh, II., 120. §Ibid, II., 121.
the foundation of Christ Church, and in connection with it he erected a college at Ipswich.*
13. His Character and Policy. "It is peculiarly difficult," remarks Mackintosh, "to form a calm estimate of a man to whose memory the writers of the two ecclesiastical factions are alike unfriendly; the Catholics, for some sacrifices by a minister to the favourite objects of an imperious sovereign; the Protestants, for the unwillingness of a cardinal to renounce the church, and to break altogether with the Pope," His character has been pourtrayed by Erasmus and by Polydore. He had many of the faculties which generally lead to sudden elevation, and most of the vices which often tarnish it. He was pliant and supple towards the powerful, insolent and overbearing to the multitude, kind and generous to his followers and dependents. had three great objects; first, the acquisition of wealth and power, glory and self-aggrandisement; second, the exaltation of the throne on which his own greatness was built; and last, the exaltation of the church of which he was so distinguished a member. In the pursuit of these objects he stooped to expedients which were contrary to the dictates of sincerity and justice, in order to indulge the caprice and passions of the King; and they consequently involved him in contradictions and difficulties which ultimately occasioned his ruin. As he was chiefly occupied in the politics of the continent, it is impossible to determine what share of the merit or demerit of the internal legislation of this reign ought to be allotted to him. His part in the death of the Duke of Buckingham was his most conspicuous fault, and it is probable that he was no worse than the other statesmen of his age.§
The circumstances of the time were peculiarly favourable to his genius for diplomacy. His eyes were never diverted from the shifting politics of the continent, and he was regularly informed by confidential agents of all the secret proceedings of the European courts. His great object was, to preserve the balance of power between Austria and France; and as it was his policy to desert the party which by his support had obtained the ascendancy, in order to repair the tottering fortunes of the others, he was feared and courted by princes and pontiffs, and Henry VIII. held the distinguished position of arbiter of Europe..
* Lingard, VI., 43.
+ Mackintosh, II., 119.
Lingard, VI., 42.
§ Mackintosh, II., 121; see also Robertson's Charles V., book II.
SECTION II.-FROM THE ESTABLISHMENT OF WOLSEY IN POWER TO HIS DISGRACE AND FALL. 1519-1530.
I. EVENTS CONNECTED WITH THE WAR BETWEEN CHARLES V. AND FRANCIS I.
14. Accession of Charles V. to the Imperial Throne. The period which we now enter upon is one of the greatest in Character of continental history; when the most illustrious monarchs the period. who have at any one time appeared in Europe, reigned. Leo X., Charles V., Henry VIII., Francis I., and Solyman the Magnificent 66 were each of them possessed of talents which might have rendered any age wherein they happened to flourish, conspicuous. In every contest, great power, as well as great abilities, were set in opposition; the efforts of valour and conduct on one side, counterbalanced by an equal exertion of the same qualities on the other, not only occasioned such a variety of events as renders the history of this period interesting, but served to check the exorbitant progress of any of those princes, and to prevent their attaining such pre-eminence in power as would have been fatal to the liberty and happiness of mankind."*
Under princes of this stamp the relations of the existing states to each other became more clearly ascertained, and the practice of politics acquired more regularity in its forms. The two principal causes of this were: first, the growing rivalry of France and Spain; second, the Reformation, in its political character. The death of the Emperor Maximilian (January 12th, 1519) marks an era in the general states system of Europe. The Kings of France and Spain immediately declared themselves candidates for the vacant throne, and they employed every expedient of Rivalry bemoney or intrigue, in order to obtain so important a point of ambition. Henry also meditated becoming a competitor; and as Wolsey was ambitious to obtain the papacy, both King and cardinal inflamed the ambition of each other, and indulged in the most flattering delusions. But the Kings of France and Spain never regarded Henry as a rival, and only sought how they could best further their own interests by his aid and influence. The states of Europe looked with peculiar jealousy upon both these candidates, and would have preferred that neither of them succeeded in the election; but as no other competitors appeared, the King of Spain, who was considered as least likely
Robertson's Charles V., II., 11-12. + Heeren, 28.
to endanger the peace of Europe, was elected by the German diet (June, 1519).
15. Respective powers and resources of the two rivals. This election made Charles the master of more extensive dominions than any European monarch had possessed since the time of Charlemagne. In right of his father Philip, he inherited the rich and populous provinces of the Netherlands, the ancient patrimony of the house of Burgundy; on the death of Ferdinand (1516), he had ascended the throne of Spain, as the representative of his mother Joan, the eldest daughter of that monarch; and he now succeeded his grandfather in the imperial dignity.
He was in the vigour of youth, gifted with superior characters, talents, possessed of a capacious and decisive judgment, and was anxious to earn the reputation of a conqueror. All these qualities formed the character of his neighbour and rival the King of France; so that, had there existed no hereditary enmity between the two princes, and no conflicting claims to the possession of the same territories, their common ambition, and the desire which each displayed of becoming the first prince of Christendom, would have made them rivals and adversaries.* The contest in which they were engaged kept their whole age in a movement, and set their characters in remarkable contrast to each other. Francis was open, frank, liberal, and munificent; and he carried these virtues to an excess which prejudiced his affairs. Charles was politic, close, artful, and frugal, and a successful negotiator. Thus, while the former was a more amiable man, the latter was a greater monarch.
and Their power was almost equally balanced. If the domipowers. nions of Charles were more extensive than those of Francis, if "even the bounds of the globe seemed to be enlarged, * that he might possess the whole treasure, as yet entire and unrifled, of the new world," yet the dominions of his rival were more compact and united, and though he ruled over a greater population, the other had at command greater wealth, and less turbulence and disaffection among his subjects.
The power of Charles was much diminished by two causes: first, by the variety of his relations towards his different states; in none, not even in Spain, was he wholly unfettered: secondly, by the constant difficulties which embarrassed his finance, and the uncertainty which attended the payment of his troops; on this account it often happened that they were so situated as hardly to be called his own. On the other hand, the power of France was:
* Lingard, VI., 45.