Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 13 Part 1, January-July 1538. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1892.
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The new year certainly found Henry VIII. in a much stronger position than he had been twelve months before. Rebellion had failed and there was no help from abroad, even if his subjects had been disposed to look for it. The influence of the Pope on European politics had not as yet proved sufficient to procure his deposition. The mutual jealousies of the two leading princes on the continent had most effectually protected him from any such catastrophe. The only fear was lest they should make up their differences, and, coming to an understanding, combine to execute the Pope's sentence against him. But this possibility, against which Henry himself was continually vigilant, seemed to everybody else so remote that it gave no encouragement whatever to disloyalty.
There had, indeed, been reports towards the close of the preceding year that the King was dead. The first rumour of the kind we meet with is in October, and seems to have sprung from mistaken conjecture as to the cause of the sudden recall of the duke of Norfolk from the North on the illness of Jane Seymour. (fn. n1) At the beginning of December, however, a like rumour was spread in Sussex, apparently by a Grey Friar of Lewes, who on being questioned gave a sumner as his authority; but the sumner denied it. (fn. n2) The bruit soon spread over the whole South of England, reaching as far as Gloucestershire in the West andNorthamptonshire towards the North, with some little additions in its progress, as at Reading, where it was said that the marquis of Exeter also was dead; (fn. n3) and in Leicestershire, where the King and the young prince were both believed to have been cut off. (fn. n4) Far as the story spread the local authorities at once took steps to ascertain its falsehood and to punish the propagators, (fn. n5) and the King himself gave special instructions for the punishment of those who had set it afloat, indicating two or three by name in his letters, so that for some time after the new year we find Cranmer and lord Cobham in Kent, with others not only in that county but also in Berkshire and in Gloucestershire, taking depositions upon the subject, committing the offenders to prison and punishing them under express orders from the King. (fn. n6)
The wish was doubtless father to the thought that bred such a rumour; for we have ample evidences at this time of ill-concealed disaffection. In Kent the Attorney-General, John Baker, received information that William Knell, a head yeoman of Brookland in Romney Marsh, had spoken words concerning the bishop of Rome which amounted to treason. (fn. n7) In Worcestershire a priest named Sir Martin Cave confessed to someone who betrayed his confidence that though he prayed for the King and took him as Supreme Head for fear, he could not find it in his conscience to do so. His brother, Sir William Cave, moreover, grudged paying the tenth to the King for his chantry at Blockley, cursed the makers of the Act, and saidthere never would be a good world in England while the King lived. (fn. n8)On the 2nd January lord Cobham received orders to bring up to Cromwell one John Clerke of Higham (who, however, escaped) accused of speaking certain words touching the King. (fn. n9)At Kibworth, in Leicestershire, a clerk even said in church, If the King had died seven years ago it had been no hurt. (fn. n10) In Wiltshire the parson of Woodborough was accused of saying, it was unhappy that the Northern men had not held their way, for if they had it would have been better for us all. (fn. n11) In Buckinghamshire a constable was accused of wishing the King were hanged; (fn. n12) and the same pious wish we find expressed by a poor fellow who had been distrained upon in Sussex, and who included the Council in his benediction. (fn. n13)
No such disaffected utterances seem at this time to have been reported from the North of England, which had been so recently the scene of a great rebellion. The people there, it may be presumed, were tonguetied and terror-stricken, But to prevent any new outbreak there getting beyond control a survey of all the Northern castles was ordered; and during the first three months of the year reports were sent up by bishop Tunstall, the new President of the North, of the condition of Pomfret, Sandal, and Knaresborough castles in Yorkshire; and of Harbottle, Alnwick, Bamborough, Dunstanborough, Warkworth, and Langley castles in Northumberland. (fn. n14) Orders were likewise given to repair the fortress of Newcastle and place it under the command of a constable. (fn. n15)In the beginning of January we find our old acquaintance, Dr. Legh, in Somersetshire, just commencing a new visitation of the remaining monasteries. Mochelney was the house that first engaged his attention, and the Lord Chief Justice, Sir John Fitz-James, had orders to give him some assistance. Fitz-James, however, had an attack of the gout and could not leave his house, so that Dr. Legh was compelled in the first place to act alone. He visited the monastery on the 3rd, found the abbot, as he reported, very negligent, and also defamed of incontinency, and reported that there were ten brethren besides, all very ignorant. He set before them an instrument for the surrender of their house to the King, which he got them all to sign; after which the common seal was attached to it, and it was handed over to him in the presence of certain knights and gentlemen brought thither to witness the act. Inventories were then made of the goods movable and immovable, including the bells and lead, the best part of the property, which he hinted would not have been preserved if they could easily have been alienated or carried away; for the house was 400l. in debt. This was done on the 3rd. On the 5th Legh brought the abbot to the Chief Justice's house at Horsington to complete the matter by acknowledging before him a fine and recovery for the more effectual security of the King's title. (fn. n16)
Having finished his business in Somersetshire, Dr. Legh went Northwards, and is next found visiting at Chester, where the abbot of St. Werburgh's, who was old and infirm, thought it advisable to resign on his coming. (fn. n17) But Legh's old colleague, Layton, was stirring elsewhere. At the new year he had setout for Norfolk, accompanied by Robert Southwell, late solicitor, and now attorney, of the new Court of the Augmentation. Travelling in such company there could hardly be a doubt that he had a commission to suppress more monasteries, and when he reached Barnwell priory on Twelfth Even the rumour spread in Cambridge that he was going to dissolve the great houses of Ely and Bury, and suppress wherever ho came. It was important to stop such babbling; and at the different monasteries on his way he charged the abbots and priors, in presence of the country people, to report to the Council any of the gentry, or put in the stocks any knaves, who would dare to spread a rumour so discreditable to their sovereign. He also cautioned the heads of houses not to sell or alienate their property in consequence of any such alarm. (fn. n18) A week later, when he and Southwell had reached the priory of Westacre in Norfolk, the prior and all the convent declared before them that as early as the 9th December preceding they had been informed by Charles Wyngfeld that it was the King's pleasure they should sell their house with all its possessions to him and his heirs, and they had accordingly delivered to him a conditional deed of the same, to hold good only if the King's pleasure were such as he declared. The commissioners were perplexed. If this held good it frustrated all they had come to do. They, however, proceeded on the opposite supposition; and after taking, for technical reasons, a one year's lease to Robert Southwell of all the lands as yet unsold, procured afterwards a full surrender of the possessions signed by the prior and seven of the monks. (fn. n19)
Even the great monastery of St. Alban's, it was said, was very soon to be suppressed; (fn. n20) but the timewas not yet come. All that was done there was to deprive the abbot, for reasons not recorded, and to obtain from the prior and chapter a compromissum, delegating their right of election to Cromwell, who promoted the prior, Richard Stevenage, to the abbot's place. (fn. n21) The sub-prior and most of the convent would greatly have preferred the abbot of Wymondham to be their new head, and addressed a petition to the duke of Norfolk that he would use his influence with the King to that effect; but the petition was as fruitless as most petitions, were which expressed the genuine wishes of religious communities. (fn. n22) The new abbot, however, had not an easy time of it, for he soon found himself in danger of imprisonment from utter inability to pay his first-fruits and other dues to the King. (fn. n23)
The general suppression was in truth beginning. It was a long process, extending over the whole of this and the following year, and some of the larger monasteries were left to the last; but in spite of Dr. Layton's denial —in spite even of the King's own denial, conveyed to some monasteries by Cromwell (fn. n24)—it is impossible not to suspect that the complete suppression of monastic houses had already been resolved on. For there was no break in the process from first to last—for two whole years it was quite continuous. And who, even at the first, could be quite deceived—what abbots or priors could be quite reassured, after hearing of different surrenders already accomplished, by being informed that they were altogether voluntary? Who could be so simple as to set much store by the assurance that the King would never have received those houses if overtures had not been made to him for their acceptance? Yet the forms"of free surrender were well observed; and in many cases, no doubt, it might be said with truth that the act in itself really was spontaneous. An immediate surrender and retirement on pensions was far better than continued subjection to the harassing restraints imposed by Cromwell's visitors. So the work went smoothly on. On the 29th January the abbot and convent of Boxley in Kent surrendered their house and all its possessions to the King. (fn. n25) On the 1st February Kingswood abbey in Wiltshire surrendered to the King's visitor, Dr. Tregonwell. (fn. n26) On the 5th Coggeshall abbey in Essex surrendered to two royal commissioners. (fn. n27) On the 9th Dr. Peter, one of the clerks of Chancery, took the surrender of the important house of Abingdon. (fn. n28)So far had the process gone during the first two months of the year 1538.
The abbeys go down as fast as conveniently they may and be surrendered into the King's hands. I pray God send you one among them to your part. (fn. n29) Such was the devout wish of a faithful servant of lord Lisle, writing from London to his master at Calais. Except as to the scale of the operation, the suppression of monasteries was not an unprecedented thing; and even religious men did not maintain that it was unjustifiable in itself. There were Englishmen like Friar Peto (afterwards Cardinal) forced to reside abroad because they could not admit the King's supremacy over the Church, who yet saw nothing essentially wrong in the suppression of monasteries if they had only been put to better uses. (fn. n30) And though this was far from the King's design, he yet knew how to put the most plausible face upon matters in justification of his ownproceedings. He was only causing visitations to be held, correcting abuses, and accepting free surrenders. Moreover, it would seem that he was beginning to take vigorous measures for the abatement of superstition.
At Boxley abbey, just after its surrender, Walter Hendley, the new solicitor of the Augmentations, in Southwell's room, took a survey in the King's name of the possessions of the monastery. (fn. n31) The goods, or some of them, were entrusted to the keeping of Ralph Fane or Vane, a servant of Cromwell's; (fn. n32) while Geoffrey Chamber, another official, had the task assigned to him to deface the monastery and pluck down the images. It was only natural that the latter, while so occupied, should pay particular attention to one image called the Rood of Grace, which had been held in veneration in past times. It was a curious piece of mechanism, containing within it certain engines and old wire, with old rotten sticks in the back of the same, that did cause the eyes to move and stir in the head thereof, like unto a lively thing, and also the nether lip likewise to move as though it should speak. Such curious toys were occasionally manufactured by monks whose genius shone in the construction of mechanism; (fn. n33) and like other toys they had their day Although the mechanism would still act, the sticks inside were rotten, and the old wire was no doubt rusty. Chamber examined the abbot and the oldest monks about it, but they said they knew nothing of it—meaning apparently that they knew nothing of the history of the apparatus, whichhad probably been long disused. The opportunity, however, was not to be lost to show the people of Kent the base devices of monks at a place which had been a frequent resort of pilgrims. Chamber carried off the image to Maidstone, where he exhibited it on market day to the general public, who, as he reported, had the matter in wondrous detestation and hatred, so that if the monastery had to be defaced again, they would pluck it down or burn it. (fn. n34)
Having done its part in Kent the image was then brought up to London. The Rood of Grace, writes John Husee to lord Lisle on the 23rd, shall stand tomorrow at St. Paul's Cross during the sermon time, and there shall the abusion be divulged. (fn. n35)
P. 1. Monks had, of course, their enemies like other men, and when the Court turned against them, private grudges, Puritanism, and irreverence must have been alike highly gratified. It was a novel excitement for Londoners to see an image brought up from the country to be denounced by a bishop at Paul's Cross, where it stood as if doing open penance for the abusion of which it had been guilty. (fn. n36) The result was told, in ecstatic language, in a letter from John Hoker, of Maidstone, to the celebrated Bullinger. Dagon, he said, was everywhere falling in England. Bel of Babylon had been broken to pieces. A wooden god of the Kentish men had been discovered, a hanging Christ who might have vied with Proteus, for he nodded his head, winked his eye, wagged his beard, and bent his body to reject andto receive the prayers of those who came to him. And the writer went on to describe how the thing was worked by wires through little pipes, how the trick was detected by one Partridge who loosened the image from the wall, how the apparatus was shown at Maidstone, and then made to perform before the Court at London, and finally how it was made to perform again in public while the bishop of Rochester preached a sermon, at the end of which it was pitched over among the crowd, torn and broken to pieces, and thrown into the fire. (fn. n37)
Hoker also told his correspondent that it was hard to say whether the King was more gratified by the exposure or grieved to think that people had been for ages so shamefully deceived. Henry's zeal against superstition, however, by no means led him to ascertain and punish the abettors of such so-called deceptions in the way he did the authors and propagators of false rumours. The abbot and monks of Boxley were pensioned on a scale at least as liberal as the heads and brethren of other monastic houses; (fn. n38) and no one appears to have been made in any way responsible either for this or for another great monastic imposture denounced by Hilsey in the very same sermon. The celebrated Blood of Hailes had no doubt been the theme of a great deal of irreverent jesting long before; and the present abbot of Hailes, whom Cromwell had recently got promoted, or intended to get promoted, to be a royal chaplain, (fn. n39) was certainly very careful toexonerate himself, if not his convent, from the censure they would otherwise have incurred in the matter. It was a very old relic, and though men might reasonably doubt that the liquid contained within that crystal phial was the actual blood of Our Lord, as tradition held it to be, assuredly no one then alive was responsible for the legend. But the abbot, knowing the King's zeal to put down superstition, hastened up to London to ask Cromwell's advice in a matter of great perplexity. He did not like to put down the abuse by his own authority lest it should be said he had tampered with the relic and changed the liquid for a drake's blood, as cynics insinuated had been not unfrequently done. He was willing to suffer the most shameful death if ever it was renewed to his knowledge, and the relic had been nearly forty years in the custody of an old monk who was verging on fourscore. (fn. n40)
How to deal with such a matter satisfactorily, and at the same time protect the abbot from the popular indignation that would have been sure to follow such imputations as he stood in dread of, appears to have been the problem, and it was ultimately settled by a Royal Commission of Inquiry, of which we shall have to speak hereafter. But meanwhile bishop Hilsey denounced the superstition in his sermon, aggravating it with scandal touching a former abbot, who if we may believe his accusations, told his paramour that it was a duck's blood and had no scruple in presenting her with one of the jewels that hung beside it. (fn. n41) A duck's blood the liquid certainly was not; but it was bishop Hilsey's task to sound the first blast of the trumpet against idolatory and superstition, so as to facilitate the spoliation of shrines for the increase of the Royal revenue.The suppression still went on. In February Cranmer had heard that Pomfret priory was to be surrendered, (fn. n42) but the report was premature. On the 1 March, however, Dr. Peter took the surrender of the monastery of Butley in Suffolk. (fn. n43) On the same day Sir William Parre. Dr. Layton, and Robert Southwell extracted from the prior and convent of St. Andrew's, Northampton, a confession of the enormities of their past living and of their total inability to live according to the intentions of their Royal founders in past times. For this reason they gave up to the Commissioners a deed of surrender duly sealed, which apparently did not quite satisfy the attorney of the Augmentations, and was accordingly replaced by a release and deed of feoffment to the King's use executed on the following day. (fn. n44) It is open, perhaps, to question whether the enormities which the monks were driven in general terms to confess were not such as were due to poverty and the novel coercion applied to them under Cromwell's rule. Southwell confessed in a letter to Cromwell that the Commissioners had not been able to find the same grounds for extorting a submission as at Westacre, but they had found others sufficient for the purpose. The monks, it seems, had been obliged to pawn one of their most venerable relics —a piece of St. Andrew's finger. (fn. n45)
In March Dr. Legh went on to Yorkshire in his visitation, where he endeavoured to obtain some resignations and new appointments, but does not appear to have taken any surrenders till he got to Holm Cultram in Cumberland on the borders of Scotland, which house he quickly dissolved. (fn. n46)Dr. Peter, about a fortnight after being in Suffolk, took the resignation of the abbot of Evesham, and went on to Llanthonyin Wales, where he and Dr. Tregonwell took the surrender of the priory. (fn. n47) Stratford Langthorne in Essex next surrendered to Dr. Layton. (fn. n48) Walden abbey in the same county, which was held in commendam by William More, bishop suffragan of Colchester, followed suit. (fn. n49) Sir Richard Riche on the 29th reports himself from Wood Rising in Norfolk, as going to suppress Binham, which claimed to be a cell of St. Alban's, and Beeston, a house of canons, who to avoid his attentions would fain have called themselves friars. (fn. n50) By the 2nd April Layton was in Hampshire, and along with Dr. Peter, who had returned from Wales, took the surrender of Beaulieu; where it was a question what was to be done with 32 men who had taken refuge in the sanctuary for debt, felony, and murder, living there with their wives and children and unwilling to be dislodged, even to be sent to other sanctuaries. (fn. n51) The visitors seem to have cared quite as much for these valuable members of society as for the monks. Others pleaded that the murderers and felons should be removed and the debtors allowed to remain. (fn. n52) From Beaulieu, Layton went on to Southwick and took the surrender of that house on the 7th. (fn. n53) On the 15th the active Dr. Peter had got back into the Midlands and taken the surrender of Kenilworth ; (fn. n54) while on the 16th the abbey of. Robertsbridge in Sussex fell to Dr. Tregonwell, and the great priory of Merton in Surrey to Dr. Layton. (fn. n55)We pursue the story of the suppressions no further for the present.
A month before the surrender of Southwick in Hampshire, which as just mentioned took place on the 7th April, the image of Our Lady which stood in thatmonastery had been taken down, and it was known that other images would be removed where pilgrims had been wont to pay their devotions. Pilgrimage saints goeth down apace, wrote John Husee from London to lord and lady Lisle. Our Lady of Southwick, St. Saviour of Bermondsey, (fn. n56) and others, were already removed and the Blood of Hailes had been withdrawn from exhibition to the public as a superstitious relic. I doubt the resurrection will after, adds Husee, who apparently could not believe in the effectual suppression of rites that had been practised for ages. (fn. n57) But the removal or destruction of the images or relics that were to be adored was in the meanwhile a considerable discouragement to a custom which already awoke but but slight enthusiasm; and preachers generally were instructed, where images still remained, to exhort the people to offer pence and candles to them no longer. (fn. n58)
As the crusade against superstition was carried on every where by orders from head-quarters, it met, of course, with a varied amount of success in various localities. At Calais, among the rough soldiers of the garrison, it was easy to raise a cry of derision against relics and comply with the King's orders, though even the Deputy's wife was reported to be a little scrupulous about them—an imputation which her servant Husee endeavoured to convince Cromwell was exaggerated. (fn. n59)But in Wales, as might be expected, superstition was more difficult to conquer. In St. David's cathedral, in defiance alike of bishop Barlow and the King's injunctions, the people wilfully solemnised the feast of their patron saint and set forth the relics as of old. These consisted,as the bishop himself disdainfully reported, of two heads of silver plate enclosing two rotten skulls and a worm-eaten book covered with silver plate. There was no controlling people in that distant and inaccessible spot, and the bishop was anxious for the removal of the see to Carmarthen. (fn. n60) In North Wales, Dr. Elis Price, Cromwell's Commissary-General for the diocese of St. Asaph, after doing his utmost diligence to take away abuses and superstitions, desired special instructions what to do about a huge wooden image named Darvell Gadarn, which was held in so great esteem that hundreds resorted to it daily with their offerings of cows, oxen, horses, or money. It was believed to have power to fetch lost souls back from hell, and between five and six hundred pilgrims had offered to it the day before the Commissary wrote. (fn. n61) In three weeks Price received an answer directing him to take the image down and bring it up to London; on which he immediately acted, notwithstanding the remonstrances of the parson and parishioners of the place, who offered him 40l. to let it remain, and when he refused set out for London themselves to make their complaint to Cromwell. (fn. n62)
Darvell Gardarn, like the rood of Boxley, was to play his part in London, to convince the intelligent inhabitants of the metropolis of the King's anxiety to root out superstition. But even in London there remained one or two opponents of progress, whose scruples all the martyrdoms of the past few years had not served completely to overcome; and it would have been to little purpuse to burn a wooden image from Wales if men like Father Forest were allowed togo on using their power in the confessional to confirm their penitents in dislike of the Kings supremacy. Forest was a Franciscan friar, who had been confessor to Katharine of Arragon, and who during her life had already suffered imprisonment with expectation of immediate martyrdom. (fn. n63)He had, however, been for some reason spared, and being one of the house of Observants at Greenwich (the stricter branch of the Franciscan order suppressed in 1534) he was, like the other Observants who were not put to death at that time, handed over to the custody of the more tractable Franciscans, called Conventuals, by whom he was doubtless, like his fellow Observants, kept for a time in irons. (fn. n64)Calmly as he had looked death in the face before, this severe treatment, worse, according to Chapuys, than the brethren would have suffered in any ordinary prisons, appears to have had some effect upon his constancy. He disowned the authority of the Pope, and was set at liberty. Content to take his place among the Conventuals, he did as he had done before, and men resorted to the Grey Friars in London that he might hear their confessions. New difficulties arose, however, upon the resumption of his old functions. What was he to tell those who confessed to him about the things that agitated almost every conscientious mind? Had More and Fisher and the Carthusians deserved their fate as traitors or earned an undying crown as martyrs? Forced to look this question in the face, he could not doubt about the answer. These men had died for the rights of the Church like St. Thomas of Canterbury; and though he had persuaded himself that he owed a double allegiance, even by the law of God, to King and Pope, he felt that he could not but urgethose who came to him to remain steadfast to the old faith. And now, when it was in contemplation to make all friars change their habits, he felt that for his own part he could not divest himself of his at the King's command without the Pope's consent. (fn. n65)
As soon as it reached the ears of the King's Council that this was his attitude his warden received orders to search out Forest's friends that they might be examined touching the advice he had given them. The warden obeyed with alacrity and supplied Cromwell with all the information he could obtain. Forest was convented before Cranmer on the 8th May for heresy, which ho confessed and abjured. He was then ordered to do penance at Paul's Cross on the 12th; on which day, being the third Sunday after Easter, a sermon was preached by bishop Latimer for the occasion. But in the meanwhile he had distinctly intimated that he declined to undergo the penance, and when the day came not all the persuasions of Dr. Gwent, dean of the Arches, could alter his resolution. Latimer could only end his sermon with an exhortation to the people to pray for his conversion; (fn. n66)and Forest himself was committed to Newgate till the 22nd, when it was appointed that he must either abjure or be burned. On that day, too, Latimer was to preach before him at Smithfield and endeavour to move him by one final exhortation. The letter in which the Reformer accepted this commission is not very pleasant reading. He was ready, since Cromwell desired it, to play the fool after his customable manner when Forest should suffer, and he desired that his stage might stand near Forest that he might hear what he said, and perhaps be converted. But he feared that the man was too well treated inNewgate, and being allowed intercourse in a fair chamber with the prior of the White Friars of Doncaster and the still remaining monks of the Charter House, his obstinacy was only too likely to be encouraged. Nay, it was said that he was allowed to hear mass and even to receive the sacrament—things not likely to make him return to his abjuration. (fn. n67) And he did not return to it. After Latimer's sermon he declared that an angel from heaven could not persuade him to believe otherwise than he had believed all his life, and told the preacher that seven years ago he would not have dared to preach as he had done. He was then suspended in chains from a pair of gallows with Darvell Gadarn underneath him; the wooden image was set on fire and Forest perished in the flames. (fn. n68)
That Forest was put to death as a heretic in the same fire which destroyed an idol brought up from Wales showed clearly that there was to be no abatement in the exercise of that spiritual supremacy claimed by the Crown. The idea was still a novelty, and notwithstanding the severities with which it was at first enforced might not have sunk deep into the popular mind if it had been further exemplified only by such things as a royal proclamation at the beginning of March permitting faithful subjects to eat white meat, that is to say eggs and milk food, in Lent. (fn. n69) To men already desirous of such indulgence no doubt the Royal licence was acceptable; but there were many, we may be sure, even among the laity, who declined to take advantage of it; (fn. n70)s while abroad the exercise of such a dispensing power appeared simply a thing to laugh at. The king of England, said Francis I. gives dispensationslike the Holiness, and I believe will soon want to sing mass. (fn. n71) But Henry's subjects must not exceed the degree of liberty expressly allowed them, and on Easter Eve we find the bishop of Lincoln writing to Cromwell for the punishment of certain malefactors at Oxford, both of the town and of the university, who had dared to eat ordinary flesh not only during Lent, but on Fridays, Past days and Ember days. (fn. n72) To transgress the old rules of the Church, except by Royal licence, was as dangerous as ever.
It was not Henry's policy, in fact, to make mere gratuitous innovations. On all high matters of doctrine he still professed the same faith as the rest of the Christian world; and if any departure from it had unluckily been sanctioned, he left the responsibility with the bishops, whose Institution of a Christian Man he had not yet adopted as his own. It was very far from his purpose to lower the standard of Orthodoxy, but rather to maintain that the true faith flourished all the more under his direct protection. It was impossible, however, that heretics and schismatics should not derive some comfort from the vast change that had already taken place; for it was seen that men so reputed, like Cranmer and Latimer, stood high in the King's favour, and as purgatory had already been called in question, it might be a matter of speculation what amount of ancient doctrine would ultimately be maintained. It would seem, however, that Cranmer and his subordinates were exercising jurisdiction with a leniency towards new schools of theology that was not at all approved of. Complaint was made to Cranmer himself that there were seven or eight persons in Calais who openly denied Christ, and he wrote to his Commissarythere to inquire about the matter. The Commissary, by name John Butler, utterly denied the truth of the statement, which he said must have originated with some papistical person. It would be more true, he wrote, to affirm that there were 500 persons in Calais who professed Christ and his doctrine. But two Observant friars had come out of France where they had been persecuted for preaching God's Word. One of them, since his arrival, had gone into Picardy to preach and had been safely escorted back again within the Pale. One had given up his friar's dress, and Butler hoped he would remain at Calais, where he might do much good. (fn. n73)
P. 1.>The matter, however, was not quite so easily disposed of. Butler soon felt himself compelled to complain of other slanders raised by the papists, whose punishment he hoped to obtain from the authorities at Calais. (fn. n74)But whatever Cranmer might have been disposed to say in the matter, Cromwell wrote a sharp letter to lord Lisle, wondering why he had given him no intimation of the existence at Calais of certain sacramentaries—or in other words, men who denied transubstantiation. (fn. n75)The imputation of negligence appears to have been unjust, for it is not easy to understand the draft letter in Sir Thomas Palmer's hand (No. 1291) except as one drawn up for Lisle's approval and signature, and the writer distinctly states that he had written to Cromwell on the subject about Easter last. In fact it would seem that he had not only written, telling Cromwell that an information had been laid before the King's Council at Calais on the subject, but had expressly asked what he was to do, and had received no answer. Moreover, he had written again" quite recently (Cromwell doubtless had not as yet received the letter), (fn. n76) with information that a young English priest newly come out of Germany had spoken in his sermon against the Sacrament of the Altar "in a way much at variance with the King's book." Lisle would leave the theology of the matter to be dealt with by Cromwell and by competent divines; but as being responsible for the security of a town so peculiarly situated, he could not but note that alike in France and in Flanders they considered the English heretics, with whom, now that there was a league between Francis and the Emperor, they trusted to have war. (fn. n77)
The young English priest newly come out of Germany was undoubtedly Adam Damplip, who, according to Foxe, was, or had been, also known by the name of George Bucker. Foxe tells us that he had been "in time past a great papist and chaplain to Fisher, bishop of Rochester; and after the death of the bishop his master had travelled through France, Dutchland (i.e., Germany), and Italy." A visit to Rome seems to have impressed him much in the same way that it impressed Luther, and although cardinal Pole would have detained him there to read lectures in his house, he insisted on returning homewards. Conversation with other divines
abroad had also, it is supposed, affected his view of the Sacrament, and when he came to Calais he found a little company there very well disposed to listen to him. After Cromwell's letter, however, it was quite clear that; he must be stopped, and order was made by the lord Deputy in Council on the 19th June, setting forth that whereas Damplip had raised matters of controversy about the Sacrament at the White Friars to the prejudice of the King's retinue, the archbishop's commissary who had given him licence to preach would be made fully responsible for whatever he might utter next day, which, being the feast of Corpus Christi, was the day specially devoted to the commemoration of the Holy Eucharist. (fn. n78)
Here, for the present at least, we must take leave of Damplip and the Calais sacramentaries, whose story is not recorded further in the papers now before us, Something more remains to be said about religion in England.
While the monasteries were being gradually extinguished by the process of surrender, the houses of friars naturally claimed attention at the same time, for, with the exception of those of the Observants, whose particular rule had been suppressed in 1534, they and their inmates remained till the spring of the present year and went about their functions as before, subject only to the novelty of a royal visitation. Two doctors of divinity carefully selected, the one from the Augustinians and the other from the Dominicans, were first appointed to visit their own and the other orders in the King's name, (fn. n79) but one of these, Browne, had become archbishop of Dublin, and the other, Hilsey, bishop of Rochester. For a second visitation a new instrument was necessary, and the man chosen was Richard Ingworth, prior of the house of Langley Regis, who had just recently (on the 8th December last) been appointed bishop suffragan of Dover. (fn. n80) His qualifications for the task must have been well known to Cromwell, who, as he wrote towards the close of this year, had been his singular helper for twelve years past. As this carries back the relations between them to the year 1526, he doubtless had watched with interest Cromwell's proceedings about that time in sup pressing small monasteries for Wolsey's colleges; and though he had not as yet suppressed religious houses himself, he was already experienced as a visitor, for he had visited his own order, the Black Friars, as their provincial, three years ago, having succeeded Hilsey in that office when he became a bishop; before which time, it may be observed, he was Hilsey's most trusted subordinate. (fn. n81) And now, as bishop of Dover, he received on the 6th February a commission to visit all the different orders of friars, to inquire into offences, and to depose and remove offenders and otherwise punish them. It was not said that he was empowered to take surrenders likewise, but it was probably suspected from the first, and was certainly perceived before many weeks had passed by, that this was the ultimate end of his visitation.
He was first called to visit the Grey Friars of Ipswich. His attention seems to have been directed to them in particular in consequence of a letter written to Cromwell by lord Wentworth, the representative of their original founder, a Puritanical nobleman who converted Bale from the ways of Popery. (fn. n82) The house, Wentworth wrote, was in great necessity. The people no longer gave alms to such an idle nest of drones who only devoured the meat of the King's poor subjects, but bestowed their charity upon the poor and impotent. Wentworth, as founder, had sent for the warden and asked him why he sold the jewels of their house. His reply was that they had been compelled by sheer necessity; they had been unable to collect 5l. worth of alms in the past year, and could not continue in the house three months longer. Wentworth, accordingly, considering, as he said (only he said it more unctuously), that the Order of Friars was not of divine but only of papal origin, purchased the house for himself and his heirs. and wrote to Cromwell desiring that the brethren might not be vexed by their superior on account of what they had done. (fn. n83)
Wentworth wrote on the 1st April. On the 7th the bishop of Dover was at Ipswich and took an inventory of all the furniture, plate, and vestments of the house, except a small remainder left for the friar's necessities. The plate, including a portion which had been pledged to lord Wentworth, amounted to 259 ¾ oz. The establishment, for a house of poor friars, seems to have been rather a considerable one, the warden having an upper and a nether chamber, besides his bedroom. The furniture is described, but nothing is said of its value. (fn. n84) This surrender of a house to, and its purchase by, the founder seems to be an instance by itself.
No wonder that the friars generally throughout the country had now begun to take the alarm. It was clear that their houses were going the same way as the monasteries. Yet having no great landed property they had less to lose, and, clinging, no doubt, to the fond hope entertained by so many that Royal supremacy would not last very long, and that much of the old order would be restored when the Pope was able to bring the King to reason, they were apparently secreting a number of their valuables. (fn. n85) On the 5th May, therefore, the bishop of Dover received a new commission, stating that it was reported that the heads of the houses of friars were wasting and alienating their goods, and empowering him as visitor at once to put into safe custody and take inventories of every house he visited. (fn. n86) Armed with these new powers (which no doubt he had asked for while on his progress) he went rapidly through the Midlands. He had visited Northampton, Coventry, Atherstone, Warwick, Thelford, Droitwich, and Worcester before the 23rd May, and was then at Gloucester on his way to Bristol. He was not, however, taking surrenders; he still professed that that was no part of his object, as, indeed, it was not in his commission. He only noted that the two houses in Gloucester were ready to surrender as they had no living; that he had left the prior at Atherstone "to see God served;" but all the property was gone and the house worth little; that the prior of Droitwich had felled woods and made waste, had still bulls and pardons from Rome in his possession, and had kept the Pope's name in the service books unerased. He had handed him over of course to bailiffs to answer when called upon, and had put in a friar to say mass. So he wrote on the 23rd from Gloucester, and in another letter or postscript to the same letter written that day he declares his intention of continuing his progress by Bristol, Winchester, Chichester, Arundel, Southampton, Salisbury, and down to within 16 miles of St. Michael's Mount; then afterwards to visit Wales, Ludlow, Shrewsbury, Denbigh, Bangor, Chester, Lancaster, and the North of England. (fn. n87)
The fulfilment of this programme, which was in the main adhered to, necessarily required some months of travelling, and is therefore not included within the limits of the present Part, which only reaches to the end of July; but by that time he had done a very respectable amount of business. He had been into Sussex as he proposed, where he took the surrender of the White Friars of Sele on the 16th of the month. (fn. n88) He had also been in Kent, but failed for the time at Aylesford, where the convent told him they had been informed that the house was given away and they had sold what they had to pay their debts. Towards the close of the year, as we shall find, he received the White Friars of Aylesford into the King's hands. He had been perfectly successful, however, at Losenham, (fn. n89) where he reported they were honest men; also at Winchelsea, Arundel, Chichester, and Winchester. By the 25th he had reached Marlborough and taken the surrender of a house there on his way to Bristol, where he had been before; and he was confident that within the next four days he should obtain possession of the Black and White Friars of Bristol, and of the Black and White Friars of Gloucester. (fn. n90) And we actually possess the inventories that he took at Bristol, at Gloucester, and at Marlborough. (fn. n91)
Active as he was, however, there were other agents at this time engaged practically on the same work. Dr. London, the warden of New College, Oxford, received early in July a special commission to himself and the mayor and two other gentlemen of Oxford, to "look upon" the friars in that town. He found the White Friars and the Augustinians the most out of order, and in such poverty, he wrote, that if they do not forsake their houses, their houses will forsake them. They had been selling annuities; the little land they had was leased for thirty years, and the White Friars had begun to sell the elms that grew about their house. The Augustinians, likewise, had only six or seven acres, and their house was ruinous. Their late prior Browne, now promoted for his services to the King to the archbishopric of Dublin, had felled their best trees and carried off plate and furniture to the value of 200 marks. They were clearly unable to continue. The Grey Friars had been compelled to pawn plate and jewels. The Black Friars do not appear to have been reduced to such extremities. The commission urged the needy houses to put themselves in the King's hands, and Dr. London obligingly drew up a form for their signature. (fn. n92)
P. 1.>We shall see more of Dr. London's doings hereafter. For the present we leave the story of the visitation and suppression of the friars unfinished, merely observing that the Black Friars of Bangor, apparently without waiting for the arrival of a visitor, but anticipating the inevitable, surrendered their house to Mr. Edward Griffith of Penrhyn. (fn. n93)
Meanwhile the suppression of the monasteries was going on, not merely through the process of surrender but by other means as well. Already last year some of the Northern abbeys had been confiscated on account of the alleged treasons of their superiors and inmates during the great rebellion. That process was now carried a little further; and though the records of the indictments are not always extant or the grounds of procedure known to us, the result is certain. The prior of Lenton in Nottinghamshire was arraigned for high treason before a Commission of Oyer and Terminer, and, being found guilty, was condemned and executed. (fn. n94) Next year he was included in a great Act of attainder. How easy it was to entangle heads of houses in such charges may be seen by the case of an abbot, who under rather trying circumstances, contrived not to commit himself very seriously. At Pershore a groom of the King's Privy Chamber took advantage of that free hospitality which all monasteries offered to the wayfarer to listen to the conversation at the abbot's table and report it to the King. One Ralph Sheldon, apparently a neighbour, with whom the abbot had been long familiar, ventured in speaking to the abbot, to commend the King's sagacity in detecting and throwing off "the usurpation of the Church of Rome." "Ah!" said the abbot, "be you come thereto, and I have loved you so well and taken you for so true a man and so substantial a man? Well, well, I will love you no more; but whatsoever you say I wot what you think." He added that he hoped for his own part to die a child of Rome, and that he could prove that any one was accursed who resisted "a power," as all power was ordained by God. Sheldon, who was unable to follow a Latin quotation of the abbot's, here abandoned the controversy; but Harrison, the groom of the Privy Chamber, struck in and disputed the abbot's inference, saying he could prove by Scripture that supreme power was given to princes only. The abbot scornfully smiled and made no answer. (fn. n95)
He purposely turned the conversation, but it was no use. The enemy saw his advantage and meant to beard the abbot to his face. There was at the time great mortality from pestilence about Pershore; but one John Marshall, who had just come from the North, said there was none beyond Doncaster. "Yea, John Marshall," replied the abbot, "you died fast enough in the North last year" (alluding of course to the savage executions on the suppression of the rebellion); "and as for us in this country we be smitten with the plagues of David for David's offences." Again Harrison broke in with his unwelcome observations. "My Lord," he said, "where you say that they died fast enough in the North last year, I will say that they died not so fast as they were worthy; and saving that the King showed himself a merciful lord unto them and had compassion upon them, his Grace might justly have put forty thousand mo to death than did die. And whereas you say further that we be stricken with the plagues of David, and that for his offences, to this I would say that David died long before Christ, as the story telleth, and his plagues were appointed him in his lifetime. My Lord, who is David now?"
If this conversation was truly reported it is strange that the abbot, notwithstanding his discreet reticence on some points, escaped examination and indictment. The abbot of Woburn was not so fortunate. Unhappily he had traitors within his own fold who had reported words spoken by him and others within the privacy of the convent—words which the abbot at least could not deny, and strove in vain to palliate. So Doctors Legh and Petre were sent down to visit the monastery, one John Williams being commissioned to assist in taking the examinations. The abbot at first professed to have complied with the King's injunctions, having preached twice since the King's last visitation, and in both sermons prayed for the King as Supreme Head. He had also exhorted his brethren to do the same, but had not otherwise spoken "against the usurped power of the bishop of Rome," He confessed that Sir John Milward, keeper of the hospital at Toddington, had lent him a book of his own composition de Potestate Petri, which he thought so valuable that he had got it copied by Dan William Hampton before returning it; but he feared the copy had since been burned by mistake along with some papers about disputes with the tenants which he had ordered to be destroyed for fear harm came of them. He had been very ill about Passion Week last, when being in great Buffering he had cried out that he wished he had died with the good men who had suffered heretofore, meaning More and Fisher; but, he was anxious to explain, that he had said nothing of the Pope, nor had he expressed any scruples about the supremacy. He had indeed rebuked Sir William Shurborn, curate of Woburn chapel, for railing at His Holiness and calling him "a bear and a bawson."
Of course the evidence of the rebellious monks touching his conduct was much more unfavourable. Dan Robert Salford affirmed that the abbot had not set forth the supremacy in those two sermons, and had not prayed for the King as Supreme Head. He had threatened to dismiss Sir William, the parish priest of Woburn, for railing at the Pope. He had also rebuked him for erasing the Pope's name with a knife out of the canon in compliance with the King's orders, telling him to do it with a pen, "for," said he, "it will come again one day." On Passion Sunday, when he was very sore sick, he said, "It is a perilous world; St. Bernard calleth the seat of Rome pastor pastorum, but now it is of another trade," and he urged them never to consent to give up the monastery or to change their habit. Sir William, the parish priest, also testified that he had heard the abbot say that the Carthusians and More and Fisher were taken away that worthless heretics might have their swing. And it was further deposed by four other monks that the abbot, after the death of the Carthusian martyrs, commanded the brethren to say in the chapter house the psalm Dens venerunt gentes, telling him them, "Brethren, this is a parlous time. Such a scourge was never heard since Christ's Passion." The psalm was said accordingly every Friday with the versicle Exsurgat Dens after the Litany, the monks prostrate before the altar, till some began to murmur at it. (fn. n96)
There was much else in these deeply interesting depositions which we leave the reader to note for himself, Nothing but the attentive perusal of such original documents will enable us to realise at this day how incredible it seemed to men of that generation that an old system was passing away completely never to be recalled; that papal supremacy had received a deathblow from which not even the indiscreet ardour of Mary could recover it; that the desecrated fanes and ruined buildings so long held in reverence were never to be devoted again to their ancient uses. Yet even now, while the piety of the age was shocked and men wondered if parish churches were to be pulled down next, they were told that there was to be no general suppression. Free surrenders, of course, there had been in some cases, and attainders on account of treason there had been also; but men were asked to believe that there was no intention at all of upsetting the whole monastic system. And as if to give colour to this official fiction two more small nunneries (fn. n97) were this year exempted from the operation of the Act of 1536 for the suppression of the minor monasteries.
It should always be borne mind, however, though the point is continually lost sight of, that not all the dogged pertinacity of the King, joined as it was with unsleeping vigilance and consummate policy, would have enabled him to carry out his purpose undisturbed, without some prospect of external aid in case of a possible coalition of princes against one so generally regarded as an enemy of the Christian Faith. For this cause, and for this cause only, Henry had been for years assiduously cultivating good relations with the German Protestants —a body of men with whom he and his people had naturally very little sympathy. We have seen how he had endeavoured to win them in 1535 by the mission of Fox, bishop of Hereford, to Smalkalde, and though little had come of it at the time, communications had been still kept up and had become rather more active of late in view of the General Council indicted by the Pope last year, which was first to have been held at Mantua, and afterwards at Vicenza. On this subject at least Henry and the Germans were at one, and the latter were quite ready to make common cause with him. His manifesto in contempt of the Pope's authority to summon such a Council (fn. n98) was so popular in Germany, that besides being reprinted in the original Latin, at least three German translations of it were published and had a wide circulation. And the duke of Saxony and the landgrave of Hesse wrote to him to express their warm approbation, and to suggest that they should by some means deliberate upon a common policy. (fn. n99)
The proposal was met in the most friendly spirit, and some letters passed between them which have not been all preserved. On the 25th February Henry commissioned Christopher Mont, (fn. n100) himself a German, to go over to the princes whom he found assembled at the diet of Brunswick, (fn. n101) and explain his views to them. He was to show that the King recognised no authority in the Pope to convoke a Council, even if the place selected were a safe one; and he rather wondered at a qualified admission of that right which the Germans themselves had made at the Council of Ratisbon some years before. The time, however, was past during which they had expressed their willingness to acquiesce in it, and they should beware of making any such admission of papal authority again. Henry himself was endeavouring to release his subjects from the bondage of all papal superstitions and would gladly welcome an embassy from them which they had promised to send him long ago. If they continued in this intention Mont was to endeavour to get Philip Melancthon appointed one of the embassy. (fn. n102)
p39">The reply of the princes assembled at Brunswick was almost, if not quite, all that could have been hoped for. They denied that, even in the Council of Ratisbon they had admitted the Pope's right to indict a Council; they had distinctly refused to subscribe to the Emperor's decree. A great embassy which they had promised to send to England must still be deferred for reasons which they commissioned Mont to explain. The king of Denmark had joined their league and would like to send ambassadors to Henry with theirs. They proposed, how- ever, at once to send two delegates fully instructed of their minds to discuss matters of theology with English divines, so as to arrive at a common agreement on points of faith. (fn. n103)
The only thing in this answer which could have had anything of a bitter taste was the statement that the king of Denmark had joined the Protestant league at Brunswick; for it will be remembered that Henry, contrary to the advice of Dr. Barnes, had at first declined to recognise Christian as anything but duke of Holstein. (fn. n104) But he had by this time become conscious of his error, for which even last year he had made some sort of apology, (fn. n105) and he had just recently written to him expressing satisfaction at his inclination to promote true religion. (fn. n106) Indeed, it was in answer to Henry's own inquiries (fn. n107) that the princes informed him of Christian 's accession to their league. They for their part had most cordially accepted his aid, and valued greatly that of the king of England as well, for they were fully conscious how much their cause would be benefited by the support of princes. (fn. n108) And where mutual aid was of so much importance there was no fear that the king of Denmark would nourish a sense of old injuries.
P. 1.>Henry had been very anxious that Melancthon should have been one of those deputed to come to England, but it was felt that he could not be spared. The delegates ultimately chosen were Francis Burgart, George á Boyneburg, and Frederic Myconius. They reached England on the 31st May (fn. n109) and were occupied for nearly two months in discussions with the bishops and other divines, which no doubt led to the production of a number of papers on the theology of the Augsburg confession, which will be found noticed in this Part. (fn. n110) But although cordially received and very well entertained, they were obliged, as will be seen hereafter, to return to their own country in August without having arrived at such complete agreement in matters theological as they had fondly hoped.
Henry's foreign policy at this time was governed by the same considerations which had so long prevailed— the same considerations which induced him to cultivate the friendship of the German Protestants. The reader has already seen in the last volume how, scared at the rumours of peace negociations between Francis and the Emperor, he had set himself with his wonted astuteness to stir up jealousies and suspicions on either side, and endeavoured to convince each of them apart that his own friendship was much more important than that of the other; that it was with this view that he had suggested to the Regent of the Netherlands his own marriage with the duchess of Milan, while to the French Court he had professed a very great desire to marry the duchess of Longueville. His proposal for the hand of this latter lady had the further recommendation that if agreed to it would do something to alienate the Scots from France; for Henry knew very well that Francis had actually promised her to James V., and the pertinacity with which he maintained that the match had not yet been settled, and that the lady herself had not agreed to it, simply astonished Castillon, who was utterly unable to account for it. The King, however, was not quite so much without warrant for what he said as the French ambassador supposed. Francis might think he had arranged it all with the lady's father and the abbot of Arbroath, but the lady herself, and even her father and mother, had been really caught by Henry's lure, and thought an alliance with such a powerful King would be much more satisfactory than the prospect of her being only queen of Scotland. (fn. n111)
The duke of Guise, in fact, though he had been eager enough for the match with James V., (fn. n112) was now anxious not to conclude it too hastily, and extracted, or believed he had extracted, a promise from Francis that nothing further should be done till the French Court reached Moulins. Arguments in favour of the English alliance in preference to the Scotch were also laid before Francis by a messenger despatched to him by the family. But Francis took the matter into his own hand, ordered the contract to be drawn up in favour of James V., and the thing was settled, not at all to the satisfaction of the duchess of Guise, who was afraid her daughter's interests had been prejudiced by the arrangement. (fn. n113) All must have been already concluded when Cromwell, thinking matters not yet past remedy, despatched a special envoy of his own, named Peter Mewtas, into France to know positively if her hand was still free, and if possible to obtain the lady's portrait for the King. But his mission was fruitless, and he very soon returned. (fn. n114) Henry could only tell the French ambassador that although he wished to remain on good terms with his master, he thought Francis might at least have told the king of Scots that he would not compel the lady to marry him against her will, for marriages ought to be free. (fn. n115)
For months after he knew the prize was lost which he pretended to desire so much, Henry went on grumbling in this manner; or agents for him who might pretend imperfect knowledge, still ventured to inquire whether it was certain Madame de Longueville was no longer to be had. (fn. n116) Something, however, might even yet be gained by holding out to the Guise family the prospect of a match between Henry and Louise, a younger sister of the Scotch king's bride. Henry, of course, took care in no way to commit himself; but Cromwell was allowed to despatch another private envoy (Philip Hoby) into France to the Court of the infant duke of Longueville and his grand-aunt, the duchess of Lorraine. Hoby was to salute both the daughters of the duke of Guise, the elder of whom, James' bride, was the young duke's mother, and say that, having business in those parts, he could not omit an opportunity of seeing them again. He was to take a good view of the younger sister, and request the duchess of Guise, her mother, for leave to take the portraits of both in one picture. He was then to go in search of another lady to the duke of Lorraine, and deliver a letter from Cromwell, saying no doubt he was aware of Cromwell's good will "to advance some personage of his house" to marriage with the King his master, and though his original purpose had not taken effect, yet understanding that his Grace had a daughter of excellent quality, he was desirous that Hoby should see her and obtain her portrait. (fn. n117)
On obtaining the duke of Lorraine's answer, Hoby was to come home at once. Yet instructions for his proceeding further on another very similar mission seem to have been drawn up at or near the same time; and by these second instructions he was apparently not to come home at all, but proceed at once from the duchess of Lorraine in France to the duchess of Milan in the Netherlands. It would seem, however, that the heading to the second set of instructions has been supplied by a transcriber of a later datè, and it is clearly inaccurate. For we have evidence elsewhere that Hoby was sent to France in February, and that he was afterwards despatched again to parts beyond sea in March, (fn. n118) and that he arrived at Brussels on the 10th of that month bearing letters from Cromwell of the 2nd. (fn. n119) There were therefore clearly two separate missions; but the contents of the second with a mere change of persons, were singularly like those of the first. Hoby was to ask the duchess of Milan also to be good enough to sit for her portrait which the King had despatched a servant of his own, Mr. Hans (no other than the great Hans Holbein) for the express purpose of taking. (fn. n120) Hoby actually arrived with Holbein at Brussels on the 10th March, and the latter finished an admirable portrait of the Duchess in a three hours' sitting. (fn. n121)
This taking of portraits, however, had no serious object, unless it was to mislead. Neither the Emperor nor Francis as yet could afford to give up Henry's friendship till they were more sure of each other's, and Henry's persistent aim was to prevent either of them feeling such security. In December 1537, when Francis had sent the cardinal of Lorraine and Montmorency to Leucate (fn. n122) to treat of preliminaries for a peace with Covos and Granvelle, the English ambassador Gardiner twice sought the French king's presence, first to urge that nothing should be done to England's prejudice, and secondly to remind Francis that he had promised Henry by letter never to treat with the Emperor without Henry being a third contrahent. It was easy to answer him on both points. Francis declared that he would not only do nothing to England's prejudice, but even that he would do more for Henry's advantage than he was bound to do; but as for his promise made two years before, it was given in return for one on Henry's part to declare war on the Emperor, which had not been kept. It would be unreasonable therefore for Henry to insist on a pledge, the condition of which had never been fulfilled, and expect Francis to remain continually at war with the Emperor while Henry gave him no assistance. (fn. n123)
Henry was seriously uneasy at the prospect of a pacification, and Brian was despatched in haste to Francis to ask for explanations on the subject of the answer he had given to Gardiner. (fn. n124) The news met him at Amiens that the truce between Francis and the Emperor had been prolonged to the 1 June. (fn. n125) It had been arranged between the deputies on both sides on the 11th January. (fn. n126) On reaching Paris on the 28th, Brian received despatches from Gardiner which made him doubt whether there was
much left for him to do when he should meet with Francis. (fn. n127) And apparently when he arrived at Moulins, where the French king then was, he and Gardiner did not succeed in convincing him that Henry had much ground for complaint. But Henry did not believe that they had done their best, and recited to them a whole catalogue of cavils that they had failed to urge. (fn. n128) He had, however, a new iron in the fire. He told the French ambassador confidentially (and Castillon, though he did not like him, always drank in a good deal of what he said) that he had just had news from Spain, showing that the great difficulty in the way of a settlement between Francis and the Emperor was about Milan, for which Francis was willing to surrender the lands of the duke of Savoy; that everything was nearly arranged, and that the Emperor was willing to give up Milan to Francis after he had retained it three years longer, but Francis wanted it at once. And from what he knew of the matter Henry said he believed that Francis would never accept the Emperor's terms unless he were a prisoner. But the Emperor had said to Wyatt, the English ambassador, that the difficulty might be got rid of by the mediation either of the Pope or of the king of England. So, as the Emperor was willing to put the matter in Henry's hands, it only rested with Francis to do the same; and Henry would gladly undertake the office of mediator to promote peace in Christendom—a function which as regards this matter he would be better able to discharge than the Pope, who claimed a part of the duchy himself, and would certainly never welcome the French king as a neighbour in Italy. (fn. n129)
Henry's offer of mediation was a little too suspicious; but if he had given Francis cause to suspect the Emperor, that was enough for his purpose. He had certainly succeeded with Castillon. But when Gardiner repeated the same story to the French king at Moulins, the latter was upon his guard. He was astonished, he said, that the Emperor should propose to remit the differences between them to Henry, after the language the Imperial secretary had lately used in his master's name. It was scarcely consistent, either, with what cardinal Carpi had told him on the Pope's behalf. Still, Francis for his part would be very glad to have Henry as mediator and third contrahent, especially as he made no pretensions to anything in Italy, if Henry would only cause the Emperor to send him word that he agreed to the arrangement. Francis would then send instructions to the Sieur de Vèly, whom he had just despatched to the Emperor, that the thing might be settled at once. Thus Henry would make clear one of three things, viz., whether the Emperor was seeking to deceive Francis, towards whom he had used totally different language, or the Pope, to whom he had promised to refer the question, or the king of England himself. Diplomatic courtesy, of course, forbad the mention of a fourth possibility—that it was Henry, not the Emperor, whose object was to deceive. (fn. n130)
We have not space to set forth in detail the whole of Henry's crooked diplomacy during the seven months comprised in this volume. One or two specimens must suffice. It is doubtful whether the King's temper did not get the better of his wisdom once or twice, although it is clear that even his fits of anger were to a great extent diplomatically controlled. Thus, when the bishop of Tarbes was sent to him by Francis to explain the matters about which Brian was sent to remonstrate, Henry received him with a petulance and ill-humour which made him ask for and obtain his almost immediate recall, leaving Castillon, to whom the King showed himself much more gracious, once more the sole representative of France in England. (fn. n131) This, no doubt, was a calculated effect, because Castillon was a much more convenient instrument to play upon than Tarbes. But the ill temper was very real nevertheless, and it produced another effect besides; for it made Tarbes, on returning to the French Court, quite resolved to promote a peace between the Emperor and France. (fn. n132) And this resolution, we may be pretty sure, was not materially altered by the fact that Henry saw the wisdom of treating him civilly at his departure, and assuring him that the ill impression he had conceived of him was altogether removed. (fn. n133)
P. 1.>The King might well be irritated, knowing as he did the advance which was being continually made in the direction of a pacification between Francis and the Emperor. Suspicions were not dead on either side, but a good deal was going on to promote a better understanding. Francis had proposed by De Vè1y in February that the Emperor should sail by the islands of Hyères, in Provence, where he would gladly meet him and discuss terms of peace. In March Charles replied by a counter-proposition suggesting a meeting at Nice, at which the Pope had offered to be present. (fn. n134) And this latter arrangement, as is well known, actually took effect in June, when by the Pope's mediation a ten years' truce was concluded on the 18th. (fn. n1341) The Emperor and Francis parted better friends than they had been hitherto during their whole careers; and to make the good understanding more manifest, they had a further meeting in July at Aigues Mortes. (fn. n135)
All this was gall and wormwood to Henry, and his futile attempts to prevent it have their amusing aspect. His chief resource was Castillon. The Imperial ambassadors in England were not so easily manageable, and both Henry and Cromwell wrote to Wyatt that they were very unreasonable, while Chapuys reported precisely the same thing of the King's Council to Mary of Hungary. (fn. n136) But Castillon, being left in London without a coadjutor, soon found the King so far amenable to reason that he ventured to lay before him a suggestion which was to appear unauthorised and nothing but a device of his own, though he had received his instructions on the subject from Tarbes. It was that, as Henry professed to be so sure of the Emperor's friendship, and felt convinced that the only reason why he wished to delay the restitution of Milan was the tender age of his daughter, whom they desired as a bride for the duke of Orleans, Henry might ask the Emperor to allow his own daughter Mary to be put in her place; by which arrangement a close amity would be made between all three princes, and Henry would not only be third contrahent, but possibly arbiter of the peace. The King thought over the suggestion for a minute in silence. He was evidently pleased, and when Castillon asked if he approved of it, said Yes, if Francis did. He observed, however, that the match had been suggested before, and Francis would not hear of it; if he thought better of it now he might speak to Gardiner or write to Castillon. But if Francis really meant it he had no occasion to go to this meeting with the Emperor, which would do no good at all. The thing was much better left in Henry's hands. (fn. n137)
The result was that Francis wrote from Dauphinè on the 9th April, approving of Castillon's overture, and promising to send the necessary powers in five or six days. But as to not going to the meeting, the suggestion was manifestly too late, when even the Pope had started on his journey (whom the Emperor, Francis said, would insist on having for arbitrator), and he himself was so far on his way already. (fn. n138) The letter arrived on the 18th (Maundy Thursday), and Castillon at once communicated the contents to the King at Greenwich. Henry and his council seemed quite delighted, but deferred giving him an answer till the Easter holidays and St. George's day were past. On the 25th he sent for the French ambassador again, when he made him rather a wordy reply, drawling in his speech, apparently to put off time. He was glad, he said, that Francis approved the marriage, for so did he; but he could not allow the bishop of Rome to have anything to do with the matter. Nor was there any occasion for him to send an express messenger to the meeting, for he had enough agents there already (he had just sent two new ambassadors to Charles and two to Francis); but he would write to the Emperor that Francis had proposed such a marriage for the quiet of Christendom, and —— "What! exclaimed Castillon, say you the King my master has proposed it? He never thought of it any more than you. (fn. n139) It is I who made the overture to both, as much for your benefit as his." Henry asked if Castillon's power to treat on the subject had arrived, and finding it had not, said "When it comes I shall know the affection of the King my brother. Meanwhile I will do the best I can and write to my ambassadors with the Emperor to favour the matter." (fn. n140)
The power, which was despatched by Francis on the 20th, (fn. n141) arrived very soon after, and Henry said he was quite willing to make overtures to the Emperor for the marriage, although he had gone so far in promoting a marriage between Mary and the Infant of Portugal that no doubt Charles would be surprised at the change. He would, however, make the attempt for the sake of Francis, only asking in return, seeing the discredit in which he would be involved both with the Emperor and with the king of Portugal if he failed, that Francis would not give his consent either to the present or to any future Council to gratify the Pope, or make peace with the Emperor without his being third contrahent. And Henry's Council actually asked Castillon if he had power to negociate on those terms. He very naturally replied that it would be impossible to specify in one power all the particulars they might discuss; that these were matters irrelevant to the marriage; moreover they were not reciprocal, and so forth. (fn. n142) Nevertheless on further conference he agreed to refer the English demands to Francis, and the King was not afraid to write to his ambassadors, both with the Emper and with Francis, such an account of the negociations as suited his own purpose; setting forth first the pressing overtures for this marriage, made, as he alleged, by the French king, and how he himself had demanded in return some conditions which Castillon could not deny to be reasonable, binding his master not to accept the Council or to make peace with the Emperor without Henry being a principal contrahent. (fn. n1421)
Castillon, cut off from information as to what was going on elsewhere, was as suspicious of the Imperialists as ever; and this made him the more ready to think an alliance with England worth purchasing at the cost of some concessions. He found Cromwell in conversation very much opposed to the project, and told the King one day that he thought he had been conferring with the Emperor's Council, and not his. But the King rebuked Cromwell and sent for Norfolk, and Castillon was confirmed in his belief that Henry would be a useful ally. He was very anxious for the arrival of Francis' answer, which he had promised the English in ten or twelve days. "If you think this King should be entertained," he wrote, "we can lead him as you think good, and when he has only us as friends he must come to reason." (fn. n143) He was still more convinced of this a fortnight later when he found that even Cromwell had been obliged to change his tone in speaking to him. (fn. n144) A week after, however, he was out of spirits, finding that the English had been induced by some more alluring offers held out by the Emperor to give up the marriage project which he had spent so much pains in promoting. (fn. n145) But again he was speedily reassured. The King, he found, was not at all well affected to the Emperor and was particularly displeased at his union with the Pope. He was sure, although a truce was spoken of, no peace would be made, and he suggested that if he and Francis were united the latter might easily get possession of Artois and Flanders, while he himself would have Zealand and part of Holland. And Castillon, who did his best to cherish these anti-Imperial sentiments was actually persuaded that this bluster was not prompted by fear of what might be done against him at the interview, which the English, he said, knew quite well had proved a failure ! (fn. n146)
Francis treated the delusions of his ambassador very kindly, assuring him that he had given most discreet answers, and that he would do well to keep up Henry's confidence in his friendship. It was easy, however, he said, to see from what Castillon had written that Henry was very much disturbed about the negociations between him and the Emperor, and would be still more so when he heard of the conclusion of the ten years' truce. (fn. n147) Nearly three weeks later, after the interview at Aigues Mortes, Francis wrote to inform his envoy that he and the Emperor henceforth esteemed each the other's interests as his own. (fn. n148)