Page images
PDF
EPUB

the month of June arrived when the fact was announced ; but then at the same time all was preparation for his sixth marriage ; and on the 10th of July, to Gardiner was assigned the unwelcome task of espousing the King to Catharine Parr. The Queen, as already mentioned, favoured the new learning; and though she proceeded with caution so as not to offend Henry, and therefore could not prevent the burning of three worthy men at Windsor, by Gardiner's instigation, only eighteen days after her marriage ; yet happily, through one of the Queen's servants, the plot which had already involved these men in ruin, and would have swept away others of higher rank, was detected. The King was so offended as to degrade and punish the agents employed.

It was in the last month of this year that Cranmer's palace at Canterbury was destroyed by fire, when his brother-in-law and some other persons perished in the flames. This prevented him from entertaining Gonzaga, the Viceroy of Sicily, who had arrived from the Emperor, with a view to strengthen the league, and urge to greater exertions against France. During the whole campaign between Charles and Francis, all that Henry had done was to furnish a small army under Sir John Wallop; but vast preparations must now be made for this continental war, and the English Monarch will now proceed, for the rest of his reign, to drain the kingdom.

SECTION VII.

PARLIAMENT ASSEMBLED-HENRY'S STYLE AND TITLE-LONGS TO BE KING

OF FRANCE -WAR WITH SCOTLAND-HENRY IN FRANCE-GARDINERCRANMER-HENRY'S CONFESSION OF IMPOTENCE IN ALL HIS INJUNCTIONS TO HIS BISHOPS—HIS INCONSISTENCY-NEW TESTAMENT OF TYNDALE'S, A FOREIGN PRINT.

Tuat cause to which these pages have been specially devoted, had, as we have seen, been dragged into Parliament last year, but we shall have the evidence before us presently, that it continued to stand, as it had always stood, independently of frown or favour. Parliament had disgraced itself, it is true, as well as earned the contempt of posterity, by its interference; but as for any fury involved in its proceedings, it will be evident that it could not this year be of much force,

Clergy had granted ten per cent. on their income for three years, beside the deduction of the tenths already vested in the Crown, and the laity granted him a tax on real or personal property, rising gradually from 4d, to three shillings in the pouvd. All foreigners paid double rates. Stat. 34, Henry VIII. 27.

in either burning, or blotting, or cutting the Sacred Volume. A variety of circumstances, involved in the state of the country, will make this apparent, and prepare us for whatever may have occurred in the cause itself; while a remarkable confession of impotence, on the part of his Majesty, as far as his proclamations respecting religion were concerned, will also come

So little had Royal authority to do with the progress of Truth, and that by its own recorded confession.

before us.

It was upon Tuesday the 14th of January, that Parliament had again met, and it continued sitting till Saturday the 29th of March, when the proceedings, as usual, assumed the shape of whatsoever had occurred to the fancy of the Sovereign. As the first Act introduced to the House regarded the Crown, in which the possibility of Princess Mary's ultimate succession was pointed at, the gentlemen of the old learning were not a little pleased, to say nothing of the compliment thus paid to the Emperor, who had long expressed his desire on the subject.' About the same time, Henry was resolved not to forget his much-prized style or title as King. An act was therefore passed, declaring that this should now be -"King of England, France, and Ireland, Defender of the Faith ; and on earth the Supreme Head of the Church of England and Ireland.” Few moments certainly could have proved more awkward for the assumption of such a style. Its very sound, its grotesque appearance, as well as palpable arrogance, must have afforded ground for many an observation at the time, since it has drawn forth remark from the historian ever since. “ King of England” Henry certainly was, as all his subjects deeply felt; and having smitten Scotland, after seeing his nephew sink into an early grave, “his heart was lifted up;” he might have “ gloried in this, and tarried at home ;” but as for France, he was only girding on his harness to fight her Sovereign, and, before long, this will have cost him and his son a sum equal to about forty-five millions of our money sterling, without any advantage whatever in return ! And with regard to Ireland, this was the first Englishman who chose to style himself her King ; but seven years before this, as “ Lord of Ireland," he had inflicted a vital injury, from which she has not recovered to the present hour." The rest of his Majesty's style has already come before us; and it was now finally confirmed by Act of Parliament, at the moment when Henry

i Wriothesly, who had been created a Baron on the 1st of January, and is just about to come into power, must have been not the least gratified. Lord Audley was fast declining in health, after having held the seals as Lord Chancellor for above twelve years. On the 30th of April he died, and on the 3d of May Wriothesly, a very different man, succeeded.-Gov. State Papers, i., p. 763, note.

2 His barbaric, though in potent, Act for abolishing the language of the native Irish, the aborigines of that beautiful island-a language now spoken daily to a far greater extent than it was in Henry's reign. For one who then spoke Irish, there are now nearly ten.

a

was at open war with Rome, and quarrelling with the King of France because he had not deserted the Pontiff. In other words, “ Defender of the Faith," a title which the Court of Rome had conferred upon him for defending her claims, was now to be worn, in union with another, “ the Head of the Church of England," which usurped them all. By this time, however, it must be evident, that such a Parliament would have assented to any style his Majesty had been pleased to dictate.

The session had not concluded before Henry was resolved to wreak his vengeance on his nearest neighbour ; for, on the eve of a continental war, Scotland must be prevented from giving any annoyance. Besides, his Majesty's proposal of a marriage between young Edward and the infant Mary of Scotland had been thwarted and opposed by Beaton. The ostensible object, therefore, was to extort a ratification of the matrimonial treaty, or rather the surrender of the young Queen. The uncle of Edward, or Seymour Earl of Hertford, with Talbot Earl of Shrewsbury, and Dudley Lord Lisle, the Lord Admiral, were despatched with a fleet and troops direct for the Scotish capital. Immediately on the Earl of Arran's refusal, the troops were landed at Leith, on the 4th of May, and 5000 horse from Berwick having joined next day, Edinburgh was attacked the day following. The Castle defied all their efforts ; but after employing four days in the plunder and conflagration of the city, the army, in returning, consigned Haddington and Dunbar to the flames. On the other hand, the fleet was employed against Leith, where, having burnt the town, demolished the pier, and swept both sides of the Forth as far as Stirling, Lisle returned with his ships to Newcastle.

But the expedition to the Continent, in union with the Emperor, was to form Henry's grand exploit for this year; and as he had just asserted his right to the French throne, he must now go to make his title good. Charles and he were to march direct to Paris. Before setting off, however, the English Monarch, now especially in want of the needful, must devise some expedient for defraying all expenses. Afraid to risk the refusal of last Parliament, after so large a subsidy, granted only the previous session, and for three years ; with equal disregard to the public at large and his successor on the throne, as Henry was his own minister, he at once raised the value of money and adulterated the coin! A strange preparation for a foreign war ; one, too, which will not meet his exigencies, and a measure the results of which will be heavily felt for years after the monarch is in his grave.

In June the first division of the English army had landed at Calais ; and having appointed the Queen as Regent during his absence, Henry set off, sailing, on the 14th of July, for France, in a ship rigged with cloth of gold! The Duke of Norfolk was with the army, and Stephen Gardiner had happily preceded, on his way to the Emperor's court; for though the King had begun to regard him with a jealous eye, his services as an

[ocr errors]

ambassador could not be dispensed with. Henry was now within the French frontier at the head of 45,000 men, of whom 30,000 were English troops, and the rest Imperial. The Emperor having been much the earliest in the field, had commenced with sieges while waiting for his ally, and three fortresses had already fallen before him. Henry must not be beaten, and therefore resolved to commence after the same fashion. Sitting down himself before Boulogne, he gave Montreuil in charge to Norfolk.

It was while thus engaged, before performing any feat, and without knowing whether he should succeed or not, that our English Monarch began to feel that he must have more money still ! That he should ever be King of France, yet remained to be decided ; but without delay he must signify to his people from a distance, that he certainly was King of England. Unfortunately for his oppressed subjects, the graduated tax of last year had disclosed the value of every layman's estate, and thus, if now disposed to make personal application, his newly created Chancellor, Lord Wriothesly, knew full well where to apply. In August, therefore, came the royal letter, demanding the loan of a sum of money. It was a regular circular, with blanks to be filled up ; a royal personal application from the King direct, for a loan of money from the individual, not one farthing of which was ever to be restored, although he now said

we promise you assuredly, by these presents, to cause the same to be repaid again unto you, within

after the date hereof !" How much was gained in this way has not been stated ; it may have been only like a drop in the ocean, but whatever was the amount, Parliament will of course interpose and relieve the crown of all that was borrowed.

It had certainly been no small effort on the part of Henry to go abroad, as he had become so corpulent, not to say feeble, through selfindulgence; so that should he not succeed to his wishes, the mortification must be extreme, though as yet there seemed to be no reason to fear the result. Charles had reached within two day's march of Paris, which had taken alarm, and even Francis had begun to tremble. Meanwhile, a Spanish dominican, in the service of France, had whispered to Charles something about overtures of peace. The season was advancing, great arrears were due to the Imperial army, and the Emperor could not winter in France. An ambassador must be sent, for form's sake, to Henry, requiring him to fulfil his engagement, and meet with Charles before Paris. In the siege in which he was engaged, Henry's honour was at stake, when Charles, who felt no scruple in breaking a treaty at any moment, went on with his negotiation. It was soon signed. The Emperor found it perfectly convenient to make peace with Francis at Crespie near Meaux, on the 19th of September, leaving our English Monarch to settle his own affairs, and return home as he best could! It was only the day before that Henry had been riding in great triumph into

Boulogne, and with this he must now be satisfied, instead of the capital and crown of France. By the 30th of September he had re-embarked and returned, says Halle, “ to England, to the great rejoicing of his loving subjects !” He had lost his Imperial ally, and was now embroiled in a war with France by sea and land! Great boast, indeed, was made of his Majesty's siege and conquest ; but immediate consideration must be given to the means by which even this was to be retained. As a proof that the power of France was not impaired, and that even aggressive steps on her part were anticipated, the rest of the year was busily occupied in fortifying the coasts of England.

Several of the movements of Government this year naturally lead to the conclusion that there could not be much, if any time left, to attend to the business of persecution for the Truth's sake ; although in the spring, while Parliament was sitting, the House discovered, as usual, the discordant materials of which it was composed.

Their very first bill, involving as it did, the prospect of Princess Mary's possible succession to the throne, seems to have inspirited the gentlemen of “ the old learning ;" for although Cranmer had triumphed over his accusers last year, it was during this Parliament that the minion of Norfolk and Gardiner, Sir John Gostwyck, of whom we have already heard enough, as the accuser of Crumwell, ventured to accuse the Archbishop of heresy, openly in the House of Commons; but the knight, whom his Majesty instantly denounced as a varlet, had to repair forthwith to Lambeth, to humble himself there, and crave forgiveness. On the other hand, Gardiner was about this time placed in very awkward, if not critical circumstances, by his kinsman, some have said nephew, and secretary, Germain Gardiner. Once the feeble opponent of John Fryth, having been apprehended for denying the King's supremacy, he suffered the penalty of death as a traitor on the 7th of March. However, the Bishop contrived, as usual, to make his peace with the King, and happily he was soon to be despatched upon foreign affairs ; though still, if Gardiner failed in any way, he sunk ; while Cranmer remained or rather advanced in royal favour.

To the latter, therefore, the present moment appeared to be a favourable one for the farther mitigation of the bloody statute, which had been already somewhat softened last year; and Cranmer succeeded in carrying a new Act this session.

« PreviousContinue »