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great scarcity that we have of corn ; wheat being, in all places, Norfolk excepted, at 20s. the quarter, and a marvellous small quantity to be gotten of it. And though the King's Majesty should have a greater grant than the realm could bear at one time, it would do little to the continuance of these charges, which be so importable that I see not almost how it is possible to bear the charges this winter, till more be gotten ; the great part of the subsidy being paid, the revenue received before hand, and more borrowed of the Mint than will be repaid these four or five months !
“ Wherefore, good my Lords, though you write to me still,' pay, pay, prepare for this and for that,' consider it is your parts to remember the state of things with me, and, by your wisdoms, to ponder what may be done, and how things may be continued. I have done nothing in these matters alone. You were all privy to the state of them, before and after the King's Majesty came to Portsmouth, at which time things were considered and drawn to the uttermost.”7
Among the other sources of perplexity, it will be observed that Flanders is mentioned. It was a branch of Henry's pretensions to the crown of France. In order to defend Boulogne he had hired 14,000 Germans, who, having marched to Fleurines, in the district of Liege, found they could advance no farther, the Emperor not allowing them a passage. The want of occupation and of pay soon produced mutiny ; and money not arriving at the time appointed, they seized the English Commissioners as their security, and retreated. It was an ill-managed as well as expensive armament. The only consolation was, that Henry was now his own Minister, and no single man besides could be blamed. Wriothesly, we have seen, declined all personal responsibility.8
Nearly two months after this the Chancellor reports progress to the King—" It may like you to declare to the King's Majesty that, against Monday next, he shall have in a readiness to be conveyed, whither it shall please him, the sum of £20,000, which is gotten after this sort ; the Mints, our holy anchor, doth prepare £15,000 ; the Augmentation, £3000; the Dutchy, £1000 ; and the Wards, £1000. The tenth and first-fruits hath nothing, the Surveyors nothing, nor the Exchequer above £1000, which must serve towards the setting forth of your ships now in preparing to the seas, to relieve the debt of the ordinance, and to help other necessaries !”9
By the 11th of November our Lord Chancellor is addressing Paget, the King's Secretary, very much in the same strain. “ First, touching the Mint,” (their holy anchor,) we be now so far out with it, that if you take any penny more of it these three months, in which I think they shall be able to pay half the debt, you shall utterly destroy the trade of it, and men shall clearly withdraw their resort thither ; which what it would import ye know.” And after referring to the Court of Augmenta
7 Gov, State Papers, i., p. 831), 9 Idem, i., p. 835.
tions—of tenths and first-fruits, and the Exchequer, &c., he then adds“ I assure you, Mr. Secretary, I am at my wit's end how we shall possibly shift for three months following, and especially for the two next. For I see not any great liklyhood that any good sum will come in till after Christmas, and then no more than the relevainthes, whereof before I have made mention which is no great matter.10 And yet, if ever I offended men in any thing, I offend in this matter. I am, as some think, too sore in it, but I serve him that I trust will sustain me, doing nothing but for his service."-"I would I and all men were bound to drink water twice a-week while we lived, upon condition that his Majesty might compass all things to his heart's ease and contentacion !” These were nothing more than empty compliments, but, no doubt, intended for the royal eye.
This state of wretchedness and beggary had at last obliged his Majesty to summon Parliament and the Convocation. They met on the 23d of November ; and the last subsidy for three years being now far more than expended, both Lords and Commons, clergy and laity, must come forward once more. The Convocation granted fifteen per cent. on their incomes for two years, and the Commons two tenths and fifteenths. The latter, indeed, added to this an additional subsidy from real and personal property, which they intreated his Majesty to accept, “ as it pleased the great Alexander to receive thankfully a sup of water of a poor man by the highway-side.”'12 To ward off, however, the recurrence or necessity for another sup of water,” the House proceeded one step farther, to the alarm of many who were not present to oppose, nor had ever been consulted. To his Majesty's sovereign disposal they subjected all colleges, chantries, and hospitals in the kingdom, with their manors, lands, or hereditary estates. From a monarch who never repaid his “ loans,” and crushed his subjects to the ground if they declined a “benevolence,” they were satisfied with a promise, that he would not now abuse the confidence of his subjects, but employ the whole “ to the glory of God, and the common profit of the realm !” Cambridge and Oxford, however, immediately took the alarm, and approached the throne, craving mercy and forbearance. By this time it has been extremely difficult for historians to find the slightest occasion for offering incense to the memory
of Henry, but several have seized the present moment for want of a better, and simply because he left these two Universities in full possession of their revenues !
Among the acts passed at this time, there was one for conveying seventy manors to the Crown belonging to the see of York; one for punishing those who took above ten per cent. interest for money ; and a third for
10 R-kerainthes-the revenue derived from reliefs ; fines payable by a tenant on the death of his ancestor. 11 Gov. State Papers, i., p. 840.
19 Stat. of Realm, 1016.
settling the tithes in London in proportion to the rents of the houses.13 On the 24th of December Parliament rose, when Henry delivered the last oration he ever addressed to it ; a strange production, which will be glanced at presently.
In the course of a year so pregnant with misery and confusion throughout the kingdom as this, it may appear difficult to imagine where one moment was left for the gentlemen of the “old learning” to display their hostility ; but in the autumn, after the King's return from the mortifying scene at Portsmouth, such a moment was found.
Cranmer had not failed to improve the absence of Gardiner and Norfolk. Last year, as we have seen, the former had been in Germany or Flanders, the latter in France ; and up to this period the Duke had been very busy at home, surveying the sea-coast, and harassed by the war of defence. But now in September or October, a select number of the Privy Council had found a little space to breathe and look round, when an opportunity seemed to present itself, for trying their skill once more. It was to be concentrated on the Archbishop, and for the last time. The incidents are important, not in reference to the accusers only, but as giving farther insight to the character of the King himself, in connexion with his precious Council.
In the afternoon of the 22d of August, Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, died; perhaps the most powerful friend that Cranmer now had.14 The companion of the King from his earliest youth, and possessing throughout life considerable influence over him ; Henry was sitting in Council when first informed of his decease, and could not suppress his feelings. He then declared that during the whole course of their friendship, the Duke had never made one attempt to injure an adversary, nor had ever whispered a word to the disadvantage of any person. “ Is there any of you, my Lords, who can say as much ?” When his Majesty had uttered these words,
13 See the Supplication of the Poor Commons, under next year.
14 Gov. State Papers, v., p. 496. -Suffolk had been General of the English army in France, and was the first man who entered Boulogne. He it was who, in 1529, so incensed Wolsey, by exclaiming—“ It was never merry in England whilst we had Cardinals amongst us," -and it was to him and Norfolk, that the Cardinal at last delivered up the Great Seal. The Duke's last letter is dated from Portsmouth on the 7th of August, where he had remained behind the King, deeply interested in trying to recover the hulk of the Mary Rose; so that he had been but a short time unwell. -Sec State Papers, i., pp. 796-798, 808.
he looked round in all their faces, and saw them confused with the consciousness of secret guilt.15
Thus so emphatically checked, one might have supposed that they would have been careful not to verify the character which their Sovereign had seemed to insinuate ; but no; it was but shortly after the Duke's remains were interred with splendour at Windsor, that certain Privy Counsellors had resolved to move.
When the King gave his significant look round the Council, there can be little or no doubt that his Grace of Norfolk, Wriothesly the Lord Chancellor, and even Stephen Gardiner were present; for the latter had returned in spring, and been ever since actively engaged.16 The fears of the party must have led them to exaggerate ; but from the expressions employed, the reader will at least learn what was their estimate of the progress now made, in a cause which they denounced as heretical, and so detested. Another mistake they made, not unwillingly, was their ascribing so much to one man, and that one man the Archbishop ; but he was near to them, and a perpetual eye-sore; they hated him from the heart fervently, and must play their last game, under Henry, with a view to his ruin.
Being, as they imagined, now fully prepared to carry their purpose into effect, the Privy Counsellors waited on his Majesty, when they grievously accused Cranmer; saying, " that he, with his learned men, had so infected the whole realm with their unsavoury doctrines, that THREE PARTS of the land were become abominable heretics ; and that this might prove dangerous to the King, as likely to produce such commotions and uproars as had sprung up in Germany.” They
. therefore “ requested that the Archbishop might be committed to the Tower, till he might be examined." To their mode of procedure the King at once objected, when they told him, “ that the Archbishop being one of the Privy Council, no man dared to object matter against him, unless he were first
15 Coke's Inst., cap. 99.
16 It has been stated in the British Biography and elsсwhere, that Gardiner did not return from Flanders till about Jan. 1546, but this is a mistake. As early as May this year, he had returned ; and it is perfectly characteristic, that the first time his name appears again in the Privy Council, is by his signature in reply to the proposed murder of Cardinal Beaton. Again, his name is at the letter from Oking, 25th Aug., to the Earl of Hertford down in the north, informing him of the death of Suffolk on the day preceding. Sadler was with the Earl, and so was Tunstal, so that he must not be implicated in the scene about to be described. --Gov. Stale Papers, v., pp. 451, 491-496. The truth might be stated as—“Bishop versus Archbishop;" for Tunstal had his eye upon Beaton, and Gardiner his upon Cranmer, about the same moments.
committed to durance ; but that if this were done, men would be bold to tell the truth, and deliver their consciences !" Yet Henry still would proceed no farther than this—that Cranmer should appear next day before the Council to be examined by themselves, and should they then judge it to be advisable, so commit him to the Tower.
His Majesty, however, knowing the men well, and reflecting on what he had done, about midnight ordered Sir Anthony Denny to cross the river to Lambeth, and command Cranmer's immediate attendance at Whitehall. The Archbishop was in bed, but, of course, instantly rose, and presented himself before his royal Master, whom he found in the gallery of the palace. Henry very frankly told him the whole, and what he had done in granting their request ; but concluded by saying—"
Whether I have done well or no, what say you, my Lord ?" Cranmer, having first thanked his Majesty for the information, went on to say, that he was well content to be committed to the Tower for the trial of his doctrine, if he might be fairly heard, not doubting but that his Majesty would see that he was so treated. Upon hearing these words, Henry, with a profane exclamation, immediately burst forth, after his own characteristic manner
“ What fond simplicity have you, so to permit yourself to be imprisoned, that every enemy of your's may take advantage against you! Do you not know, when they hare you once in prison, three or four false knaves will soon be procured to witness against you, and condemn you ; which else, you being now at liberty, dare not open their lips, or appear before your face? No, not so, my Lord ; I have better regard unto you, than to permit your enemies so to overthrow you ; and, therefore, I will have you to-morrow come to the Council, which, no doubt, will send for you ; and when they break this matter unto you, require of them, that being one of them, you may have so much favour as they would have themselves ; that is, to have your accusers brought before you. And if they stand with you, without regard of your allegations, and will, on no condition, condescend to your request, but will needs commit you to the Tower—then appeal you from them to our person, and give to them this my ring, by the which they shall well understand that I have taken your cause from them into mine own hand. This ring, they well know, I use for no other purpose but to call matters from the Council into mine own hands, to be ordered and determined.” Cranmer having received the ring, humbly thanked his Majesty, and withdrew for the night.
Next morning, and by eight o'clock, a message arrived from the Privy Council requiring Cranmer's attendance. It was immediately obeyed, but when the Primate made his appearance in the ante-room, he was not permitted to proceed