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every variety of "chance, change, and fate," through a space of a hundred and fifty years, before it was to be thoroughly established and perfected.

"The passions and prejudices which belonged to such a mighty change still survive amongst us," and "still give a colour to our political feelings and to our religious life."* Our great duty, therefore, in studying the history of this wonderful period will be, to weigh the evidence which is brought before us, with a calm and unbiassed judgment; not condemning or admiring this or that party, according as our opinions and prejudices incline us; but seeking only the establishment of the truth, whether it be for or against us; and above all, never to compromise our natural hatred of oppression, and cruelty, and injustice, except by regarding these revolutions as the means by which God, "who orders all things in heaven and earth," saw fit to accomplish a paramount good, by the strong hand of wicked instruments.†

38. The Cabinet which succeeded after the fall of Wolsey. The chief members of the administration which succeeded Wolsey were the Duke of Norfolk, who became president of the council; the Duke of Suffolk, and Viscount Rochford, who retained their former places. The cardinal's successor in the chancery was Sir Thomas More, treasurer of the household, and chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster; the latter offices were given to Sir Wm. Fitzwilliam; and Dr. Stephen Gardiner was made secretary. These formed the privy council: "they were friendly to reformation of abuses in the church, though not prepared for a revolution in her doctrine and constitution," and the presence of such a pure and conscientious man as More was a pledge, that if any reformation was made, it would be effected without subverting the rights and interests of the church.‡



To these six was soon afterwards added Thomas Cromwell, " man whose life was a specimen of the variety of adventures and vicissitudes of fortune incident to the leading actors of a revolutionary age."§


Cromwell, the malleus monachorum, as he was called, was of History of good English family, belonging to the Cromwells of Cromwell. Lincolnshire. His father seems to have gone up to London, and established an iron foundry at Putney; but dying early, and his widow marrying again, the young Cromwell left home, and became a vagabond on the wide world. He went to Antwerp, and was employed in an English factory in the capacity of a clerk. Fox tells a strange account of his being a trooper in * Knight's Pop. Hist., II., 337. + Ibid. Mackintosh, II., 171. § Ibid.


the army of Bourbon when Rome was sacked; but this story wants other evidence, and is improbable, because Cromwell was with Wolsey about that time. It is certain, however, that he travelled through Italy, and that he was a military adventurer on the continent for some time. In 1515, he appears to have been employed in a banking-house at Florence. Returning to England, he entered the household of the Marchioness of Dorset, and in 1525 found his way into the general asylum of ability in want of employment-the service of Wolsey. Wolsey soon discovered the nature of his new dependant, and employed him in the most important work of visiting and breaking up the small monasteries which the Pope had granted for the foundation of the cardinal's new colleges. When the great prelate fell, Cromwell defended him with ability and fidelity; he accompanied him through his dreary confinement at Esher, and he gallantly opposed the bill of impeachment which the Lords submitted to the Commons against Wolsey. Lingard, on the authority of Cardinal Pole, states that his principles were of the most flagitious description; because he had advised Pole to read the works of Machiavelli. It is more likely that he was thus accused because he had learnt by heart Erasmus's translation of the New Testament. His strange career, however, had taught him a deep knowledge of the world; and it was his shrewdness and boldness, his various experience, the remarkable vigour of his mind, and, no doubt, the chivalry which he displayed in defending Wolsey, that recommended him to Henry at a most critical period.*

39. Henry's Appeal to the Universities in the matter of his Divorce. The vexatious delays and specious pretexts with which the papal court had hitherto contrived to prolong the cause of the divorce, had now filled Henry with impatience and irritation.


While in this state of mind, Drs. Gardiner and Fox reported to him that, when they were at supper with a gentleman Cranmer's at Waltham Abbey (1529), the subject of conversation suggestion being the divorce, the family tutor had suggested that Henry. the king should spend no more time in negotiating with the Pope, but should propose to all the universities of Europe the plain question-" Can a man marry his brother's widow?"

The advice was relished and adopted; the tutor was immediately summoned to court, and ordered to draw up his opinions in writing; he was soon made chaplain to the King, and was sent as one of the chief agents to carry out the scheme he had proposed. * Froude, II., 108-113; Lingard, VI., 176.


The tutor who thus gave such happy advice was Thomas Cranmer. He was born at Aslacton, in Nottinghamshire, in 1489; was educated at Cambridge; and, having cultivated the polite and humane literature introduced by Erasmus into northern Europe, had early caught some sparks of that generous zeal for liberty of writing, which the Humanists, or followers of Erasmus, were accused of carrying to excess. But though he preferred the new, Cranmer was not ignorant of the old learning; he was eminent both as a theologian and canonist, and was regarded as one of the ornaments of the university. The idea of obtaining the opinions of the most learned divines and most celebrated universities of Europe had before been recommended by Wolsey, and agents had already been sent to objects in consult some of the foreign schools. But it was not intended to make their decision final, or subversive of ties. the papal authority; whereas, this was Cranmer's intention; and the main argument of the book which he wrote was to the same purport.

Distinction between

Wolsey's and Cranmer's

appealing to the


This appeal to the universities was a kind of irregular appeal to the church in its dispersed state, and was considered as the best substitute for a general council. For the bold proceedings of the council of Constance in deposing and electing popes, had so terrified the court of Rome, and had spread such a wide and well founded belief that the Catholic Church in council assembled had an authority paramount to that of the Supreme Pontiff, that it was determined never to call another general council. Besides this, no general council could now be assembled without the consent of the Emperor, who would certainly withstand every project for facilitating the divorce.†

Two plain questions were, therefore, put to the universities:

1-Whether marriage with a brother's widow was prohibited by the divine law? 2-And, whether a papal dispensation could release the parties from its obligation?

The French universities of Orleans, Angers, Bourges, and Toulouse, and the Italian universities of Ferrara, Padua, and Pavia, together with those of Bologna and Paris, the two most famous schools of civil and canon law on the continent, concurred in declaring that such a marriage was contrary to the divine law, and that no papal dispensation could make it lawful.

In Germany, Lombardy, Naples, and Spain, where the universities were under the control of the Emperor, no answers were obtained; and even the German Reformers, who were certainly not under any dread of the Emperor, refused to purchase Henry's

* Mackintosh, II., 161.

+ Ibid, 158.


good will by sanctioning the divorce. Both Luther and Melancthon agreed in saying, that they would rather allow Henry to have two wives than to separate from Catherine for the purpose of marrying another woman.

taken to

That Henry's agents distributed money plentifully, in order to obtain favourable decisions, is an undoubted fact, and Means even in France he had to make great sacrifices. The obtain English universities were also unfriendly to the King's cause, and it was not till after a great deal of violence that favourable decisions were extorted from them.



40. Henry's final negotiations with the Pope. It had been originally intended to lay before the Pontiff this mass of opinions and subscriptions, as the united voice of the Christian world pronouncing in favour of the divorce. But it was deemed more prudent to substitute a letter to the Pope (June, 1530), subscribed by the Lords spiritual and temporal, and by a certain number of Commons, in the name of the whole nation, beseeching his holiness to bring the King's suit to a speedy termination, and intimating in forcible terms, that if he delayed any longer to do justice, desperate remedies would be tried. Wolsey was the first

subscriber to this letter.*

To this menacing remonstrance, Clement replied in a letter (September 27th) containing specious explanations and fair promises. He had, in the previous March, been compelled by the Emperor to publish a breve, forbidding Henry to contract a new marriage under pain of excommunication; but he now secretly proposed to Cassalis, the English agent at Rome, that he would allow Henry to have two wives, for polygamy was not prohibited by the letter of the Mosaic Law, and the expedient would enable him to avoid charging his predecessor (Julius) with a usurpation of authority. But the proposal was suspected to be an artifice of the imperialists, for, while it would bring odium on Henry if he accepted it, it would save Charles from the disgrace of seeing his aunt repudiated.

This concession, therefore, was an imprudent one on the part of Rome. The time, however, for concession or retreat had now gone by; the Pope was more than ever in the Emperor's hands, and Henry's agents informed him that Clement would soon be compelled to issue another breve, forbidding all courts or tribunals to give judgment in the cause of the divorce.

41. Proceedings against the Clergy under the Statute of Præmunire. It was at this critical time, when Henry and his * Froude, I., 147. + Mackintosh, II., 168.


courtiers were dismayed at the failure of all their schemes, that the bold and ingenious advice which Cromwell had, a few months before, given to the King, was remembered and acted upon.

It was the 1st of November, 1529, and Wolsey had retired in disgrace to Esher. Cromwell, his secretary, was in the Great Chamber, leaning on the window, with a primer in his hands, repeating his matins. He was crying, and Cavendish, the cardinal's gentleman-usher and biographer, saw him, and asked him of his sorrow. His reply was such as befitted an adventurer like himself. He said the fall and disgrace

Cromwell's advice.

of his master had ruined him, and he was like to lose all he had travailed for all the days of his life. But his bold spirit was not one to submit tamely to such a disappointment of his hopes, and he told his fellow servant that he would instantly go to the court and "make or mar."

He made; for, having solicited and obtained an audience, he advised Henry to wait no longer for the papal decision, but to imitate the princes of Germany, and throw off the yoke of Rome; to summon parliament, and by its authority declare himself the head of the church within his own realm. By thus proceeding, he demonstrated to Henry that his difficulties would vanish, and that, being a Pontiff within his own dominions, the clergy, sensible that their lives and fortunes were at his disposal, would become the obsequious ministers of his will. Henry listened with surprise and pleasure to this advice; it flattered not only his passion for Anne Boleyn, but his thirst for wealth and greediness of power. He thanked Cromwell, and ordered him to be sworn

of his privy council.

It was not likely that the great churchmen would concur in this grand project; but the clergy of England were now powerless; they had lost their moral influence over the people through the shameless licentiousness of their lives, and the legal acuteness of Cromwell had already organised a plan which promised to secure their submission.

When the Statutes of Præmunire were passed, power was given to the sovereign to modify or suspend their operation at his discretion; and from that time it had been customary for the King to grant letters of license, or protection, to those who meant to act, or had already acted, against these statutes. Wolsey, when he was appointed legate, had obtained the King's patent, authorising him to exercise his legative authority; and for fifteen years no one presumed to accuse him of violating the law. But

* Froude, I., 177

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