Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 15, 1540. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1896.
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We left Anne of Cleves at Canterbury on Monday evening, the 29th December 1539, prepared to proceed next morning to Sittingbourne; (fn. 1) which she accordingly did, and rested there on Tuesday night. On Wednesday, the 31st, she went on to Rochester, where she was received by the duke of Norfolk and a great company of gentlemen, and there she remained the whole of New Year's day. (fn. 2) Here the King had arranged to visit her privately with some select members of his Privy Council— or, more probably, of his Privy Chamber. (fn. 3) The visit took her by surprise, and the King apparently remained for a time incognito, he and his men being alike “apparelled in marble coats”; (fn. 4) but he soon made himself known to her, banquetted with her, and returned to Greenwich next day. (fn. 5)
That he was seriously disappointed and disgusted from the first with the appearance of his new bride is the common story in all histories; but it may be an exaggeration. He had already seen her portrait as painted by Holbein, (fn. 6) whose very realistic pencil and brush, greatly as their work was admired at Court, did not lend themselves to flattery. Opinions, no doubt, might differ as to her beauty. Marillac considered it only commonplace, and the report prevailed in France that she was positively ugly. (fn. 7) Her charms had certainly been absurdly exaggerated in a report which Cromwell had received from Germany a year before and which he had unhappily transmitted to the King. (fn. 8) But apparently she was not without attractions. She was tall, bright, and graceful in her deportment, her liveliness making amends for any defect as to positive beauty of features. (fn. 9) The King himself admitted to Cromwell that she was “well and seemly” and had a “queenly manner.” (fn. 10) Still he saw no justification for high-flown praises in the appearance of the lady whom he now first set eyes on at Rochester; (fn. 11) and the effort to converse with her must have been rather trying, seeing that she did not know a word of English or of any language except her native German. (fn. 12)
If, however, the King was disappointed, it was for some time a secret to the world at large. The day he returned to Greenwich an order was drawn up and proclaimed in London for the train which was to accompany him when he should ride to meet her on Saturday, the 3rd, and conduct her to Greenwich. (fn. 13) The meeting accordingly took place on that day. The lady, who had meanwhile rested at Dartford on Friday night, set out that morning for Blackheath, and at the fool of Shooter's Hill found a gorgeous pavilion prepared for her, where she “entered and shifted her, and tarried a certain space banquetting.” When her arrival there was reported to the King, he marched in procession through Greenwich Park to meet her, and had arrived within half a mile of the pavilion when the lady again took her horse with her mixed train of Englishmen and gentlemen of the duchy of Cleves. (fn. 14) All went off well and in perfect order, though the ladies whom she brought along with her from her own country as maids of honour were less beautiful even than their mistress, and apparelled in a way that seemed ungainly to English taste. (fn. 15)
The wedding actually took place on the Tuesday following, which was the day of the Epiphany. But of it we have no record in these papers till some time after, when a number of secret details, both concerning the event itself and the King's conduct about it before and after, became matters of importance. For the present, all went on merrily. The King dissembled his feelings. He “lovingly embraced and kissed” his bride in public; (fn. 16) and the world was satisfied that all was right. But Henry was uncomfortable about his marriage as well as about many other things; only, till he saw his way clear before him the marriage could not be brought into question.
He was, of course, watching anxiously the progress of the Emperor through France, uncertain of the issue. But if the fact that the two sovereigns were together in Paris, where, as elsewhere, the Emperor met with the most splendid reception, looked somewhat ominous for England, there were advantages in the situation as well. The English ambassadors accredited to each of the two sovereigns were near each other likewise, and could arrange joint plans of action. Wyatt had started in December a project for demanding of Francis, as sovereign of the country, the arrest of an English gentleman in the Emperor's train, who had been attainted in his absence as a traitor by the merciless Act of Attainder passed in June 1539. It was Robert Brancetour, to whom there has been some reference made already. (fn. 17) He had been many years away from England, attached to the Emperor's service, in whose suite he had gone into Africa, Italy, and Provence. He had once even made a journey into Persia for the Emperor's sake, executing the charge of an ambassador who had fallen sick in Turkey and died on his way to the Sophi. And in the spring of 1539 he had, with the Emperor's leave, accompanied Cardinal Pole out of Spain to France and Italy. Henry quite entered into Wyatt's views, and wrote letters to both the sovereigns for Brancetour's arrest. He had only some fear for the safety of his over zealous ambassador, who, even without waiting for a commission to demand his arrest, had planned secretly to entrap him and get him apprehended— or slain if the French Government would not arrest him. (fn. 18)
It was far better, certainly, that Wyatt and his colleague, bishop Bonner, the King's representative at the Court of Francis, should proceed by direct commission from the King. Apart from the positive advantage of getting hold of Brancetour himself, there was a good chance that the arrest, if made, would give matter of complaint to the Emperor against the French King, and create some little unpleasantness. So, just after the Emperor's entry into Paris, the two ambassadors besieged the door of the Constable Montmorency, who for a time tried to evade their unwelcome presence. But at length he conducted them to Francis, to whom they delivered the King's letter asking for the arrest of an English traitor, a conspirator against Henry's royal person. With such a request it was impossible for Francis not to comply. Even if there were no treaty, he said, Henry might rely upon him in such a matter; and without asking particulars he gave orders at once for Brancetour's apprehension. Wyatt accompanied the prevôt to whom the duty was entrusted, to Brancetour's lodging, where the arrest was made; but on being taken he claimed to be the Emperor's servant, and desired the prevôt to hand over himself and his papers, some of which he at first tried to burn, into the Emperor's hands. On this the prevôt felt it necessary to consult the Chancellor of France, with the result that he removed the prisoner to his own lodgings and kept him, no doubt in an honourable confinement, till further orders. Wyatt then, along with his fellow-ambassador Tate, procured audience of the Emperor, and delivered the King's letter. But Charles had no thought of giving up such a devoted follower, of whose long and faithful service he gave Wyatt some particulars, and when Wyatt told him he had been condemned in Parliament for his conspiracies against the King, he said he had never heard it, and would make answer according to the treaties as soon as he reached territory of his own. Meanwhile he complained of Wyatt getting him arrested in France when he knew that he belonged to the Emperor's suite, and told him plainly he would ask for his deliverance, both of Montmorency and of Francis himself. (fn. 19)
Wyatt saw that there was no more to be made of the matter by him, and he left it to Bonner to make further representations to the Montmorency and to Francis. In continuing his conversation with the Emperor, however, he took occasion to complain of the treatment of English merchants in Spain, who were troubled by the Inquisition merely because, like their Sovereign, they declined to acknowledge the authority of “the Bishop of Rome.” The Emperor insisted that that concerned the faith, said that Englishmen in Spain ought to obey the laws of the country, that the Inquisition had been established for the best possible reasons, and that he would not interfere with it, “no, not for his grandame.” Wyatt said that in Spain the Emperor himself had agreed with Covos and Granvelle that there should be some relaxation of its jurisdiction in the case of Englishmen for the sake of commerce, and asked if there was to be no redress till Englishmen changed their opinion about the Pope. Tate followed up this by appealing to promises made to him in Spain, and the Emperor at length said that when he had examined the statements of grievances submitted by the English to Granvelle, he would write to the cardinal of Toledo, the chief inquisitor, upon the subject. Thus on this point Wyatt gained little more than he had done about Brancetour. Indeed, he said that he had never seen the Emperor so vehement and determined, especially about the Inquisition. (fn. 19)
Of course, on the Emperor's application, Brancetour was released. The incident really did nothing whatever to disturb the friendship between the two princes, which, with whatever difference of views and ultimate aims, each still valued highly; and the fact that Bonner had the indecency to remonstrate against what Francis had done as “a thing infamous, unjust, and contrary to the treaties” (fn. 20) only tended to imperil the good understanding between France and England. Bonner had certainly a wonderful capacity for being uncivil to other sovereigns in his own King's interest; sustained, no doubt, by a secret feeling that, though Henry might be bound to repudiate his conduct, it was none the less acceptable at the time. Marillac, whose explanations touching Brancetour's release had already been accepted by Cromwell on behalf of his master, on receiving Francis' letters about Bonner's conduct, at once sought the King's own presence, to complain of the outrage. Henry expressed astonishment that his ambassador should have used such language, declared he himself had even more reason to be displeased than Francis, as it might be thought to proceed from him, and said he would recall Bonner at once and send another in his place. But the very same afternoon, owing, as Marillac believed, to Cromwell having spoken to him in the interval, he called the French ambassador to him again and seemed inclined to extenuate Bonner's conduct as due to over zeal, confessing that he had instructed him to procure Brancetour's arrest, and that he thought Francis ought not to have released him, even at the Emperor's request, without explaining the circumstances either to Henry or at least to his ambassador. (fn. 21)
With a smoother manner and much greater regard for the external decencies of diplomacy, Wyatt could be as irritating to the Emperor as Bonner was to Francis. In his audiences with Charles he brought up one disagreeable subject after another—such as the duke of Cleves, the Inquisition and the English merchants in Spain, the release of Brancetour—just as if he had determined beforehand to find out the point on which he was most sensitive. Wyatt himself could not recall the order of their conversation, the Emperor, he said, so often “clipped his tale with imperious and brave words.” Yet from Wyatt's own report one would say that the Emperor was very moderate. He said he had written to Spain for information about the merchants, that about Brancetour he would carefully consider the treaties, that he must take counsel on such subjects with Granvelle; but as to the pretensions of the duke of Cleves, which Henry had suggested might be submitted to arbitration, he was clear that they were absolutely without foundation and he acknowledged no right on Henry's part to interfere between him and his subject. To some further requests he accordingly answered sharply “Je n'en ferai rien.” But the climax was reached when Wyatt, who was distinctly authorised by his instructions to do so, reproached the Emperor with ingratitude to Henry in procuring Brancetour's deliverance. (fn. 22) Charles was utterly indignant. He ungrateful to the King of England! For any good turn Henry had ever done him he had done Henry one at least as good. Besides, such language, he considered, was not to be suffered from an inferior towards a superior. In the opposite case, of course, it would have to be tolerated; while, if it were said between equals, each did what he thought necessary for his honour. But for any one to use such language to a person of higher standing than himself was utterly monstrous. (fn. 23) Such were the imperial views on the obligation of gratitude.
Francis had been more grossly affronted than the Emperor, but was more easily soothed, and the recall of Bonner, immediately preceded, as it was, by the despatch of a nobleman like the duke of Norfolk on a special mission to the court of France, was good assurance of the King's desire to cultivate the best possible relations with his good brother, whom he now saw a chance of using, as before, as a makeweight against the Emperor. Norfolk, indeed reached the French court before Bonner left, and he actually took Bonner with him, as his instructions directed him to do, to his first audience with Francis, though he was told distinctly that Bonner's presence would only be tolerated because he came in his company. Norfolk, in fact, got leave to take him on the plea that he himself could not easily follow French conversation; but he wrote home advising his immediate recall as he was so much disliked in the French court that he could do no good. (fn. 24) The King, however, had already arranged that Sir John Wallop, then at Calais, should repair to Francis and be resident ambassador in Bonner's place. (fn. 25)
Francis had parted company with the Emperor at St. Quentin on the 20th January, (fn. 26) and after visiting La Fère had passed westward along the Somme to Abbeville, when Norfolk arrived there on Sunday the 15th February. (fn. 27) He arrived at noon but spent the rest of that day in conning over his instructions along with Bonner and learning news of the court, while Francis was out hunting. Having intimated that his message was of very special import, he was admitted to the King's bedchamber that evening after supper, when, after declaring the King's complete assurance of their mutual friendship, which Francis no less warmly reciprocated, he proceeded to point out that in various ways the Emperor had been the sole gainer by the recent interviews between him and Francis; that he had got the French King to abandon his alliance with the Turk, and would very likely win the Germans from him also, leaving him no friend but Henry. Moreover he had been endeavouring, in a conference with Sir Thomas Wyatt to sow unkindness even between him and Henry, having discovered that, at their interview at Calais many years before, Francis had proposed, if Henry would release his pension and join him in a war against the Emperor, to deliver to him as compensation all the seacoast towns of the Low Countries, Brabant, and Holland. Henry was afraid this must have been revealed by some of the French Council, for the Emperor had insinuated to Wyatt that the French had spoken of a scheme laid by Henry to divide his dominions. The Duke added that Francis might see the Emperor's great object was to cast suspicion between Francis and his good friends, that he might retain possession of Milan as long as he pleased. And this was still further apparent by what he said to Wyatt about ingratitude, implying that he was superior to all other sovereigns. It was clear he was aiming at universal monarchy. (fn. 28)
There were more than one shaft in this communication that seem to have gone home. The fact is, the irritation which Wyatt had created in the Emperor had served the King's purpose admirably. Not only his indignation at being called ungrateful, and what he said about a superior and an inferior, but also his countercharge against Henry of having “reparted” (that is to say, partitioned) his dominions were reported by Wyatt in a letter from Brussels of the 3rd February; and it is quite clear that Norfolk's instructions (fn. 29) were drawn up just after the receipt of this despatch, which apparently did not come to hand till the 12th. Marillac says distinctly that Norfolk's despatch was sudden and secret, and was the consequence of some news that came from Flanders two days before he wrote on the 14th; (fn. 30) so that it would seem evident that he was sent expressly for the purpose of exciting distrust in Francis towards the Emperor through the medium of those impatient utterances to which the latter had given vent in conversation with Wyatt. Moreover, the hint that some of his own councillors had made indiscreet revelations (which assuredly made Francis feel uncomfortable and look very earnestly at Norfolk) seemed evidently to cast suspicion on the Constable Montmorency, (fn. 31) by whose advice the Emperor had been allowed to pass through France and had been received with so much hospitality. So that the entente cordiale and its advocates were both made to smell a little unsavoury; and to make the position still more trying, Norfolk was commissioned to ask, in Henry's name, how Francis would advise him to answer the “propos d'ingratitude.” (fn. 32)
Francis, however, was very cautious in his reply. He had probably begun to distrust the Emperor already, but he was quite under the guidance of Montmorency for the present, whose influence, as Francis' sister, the Queen of Navarre, told Norfolk, could be best undermined by Madame d'Etampes and the Cardinal of Lorraine. (fn. 33) The Queen of Navarre, whom the Emperor had long kept out of her own kingdom, believed reasonably enough, and told Norfolk so, that he and her brother would not remain friends very long. Norfolk had obtained a sufficient clue to the situation, and Wallop was left to follow it up under Cromwell's instructions by confidential intercourse with the Queen of Navarre and Madame d'Etampes. (fn. 34)
Early in March Henry was beginning to feel assured that the recent passage of the Emperor through France had not laid the foundations of any alliance against England. The rumour of impending war had ceased and the business of preparing ships and fortifying the coasts was slackened. (fn. 35) Henry had probably been no less anxious about the effect of these rumours within the Kingdom than as to the danger of their being realised. His spies were everywhere; conversations were reported; a murmur about the fall of abbeys or the escape to Scotland of someone who disliked his proceedings was made a matter of careful inquiry. Cromwell, it was said by one journeying from Huntingdon to Royston a little before Christmas, had caused the King to marry “one of his own sort,” and she would not enter England while a single abbey was standing, for which reason they made greater haste to have them down. “Jesus!” said a fellow-traveller, “what will be the end of these matters?” “I cannot tell,” replied the other, “but this is certain, that the Emperor is come down into France, and by the mediation of the Bishop of Home there is a perfect peace and unity established between him and the French King, and he shall marry the French King's daughter, and the duke of Orleans shall marry the duchess of Milan; and so now these three—the Bishop of Rome, the French King, and the Emperor—be all one, and the King of Scots is the French King's man; and so we be left alone, and nobody with us but these Germans, a sort of beggarly knaves, and they are able to do nothing. And as for. our own Commons, their hearts be not so firm nor steadfast to the King but for fear.” (fn. 36)
Even if these statements were not all true to the letter, there was certainly much truth in them. He who uttered them was one Chaytour, a servant of Tunstall, bishop of Durham, and they were deposed against him by his fellow traveller Cray, probably a spy of Cromwell's. Chaytour, however, was only repeating the views of Dr. Hillyard, one of Bishop Tunstall's chaplains; (fn. 37) and Dr. Hillyard, though the travellers could have known nothing of the fact, had just before been detected on the banks of the Tweed,” conveying himself craftily” into Scotland. He had fled, as subsequent inquiries proved, because he had counselled the inmates of some monasteries not to surrender their houses except upon compulsion; (fn. 38) but it was found out at once, among other details connected with his escape, that he had carried a message by a privy token from the prior of Mountgrace to the prioress of Coldstream and purposed to go on to Cardinal Beton. (fn. 39) The prior of Mountgrace was one of the last to surrender his house. He only gave it up on the 18th December, (fn. 40) and Dr. Hillyard escaped into Scotland on the 9th. (fn. 41) But Chaytour, in quite a different part of the country, related, in answer to Cray's inquiries, that a servant of Dr. Legh came to the prior not long before, and advised him to prepare by a certain day to meet Mr. Henley, the chief commissioner for the suppression, two miles from the monastery, and, if he desired a good pension, offer him an ambling nag worth five marks. The prior answered “Ye are welcome, and thank your master, but I would not go forth of the cloister to meet Mr. Henley, nor give him the least hair of my horse's tail to be good to me for that purpose.” Dr. Hillyard, who was at Mountgrace when this occurred, was of opinion that the prior and three or four of the monks were resolved never to surrender the house. (fn. 42) They did so, however, and the prior, John Wilson, had a pension of 60l. assigned to him, together with the house or chapel called “the Mount”; while to each of his brethren, novices and so forth, were allotted pensions of 7l. or under. (fn. 43)
The prior does not seem to have yielded out of weakness. Before three weeks had passed he was a prisoner in York castle, about to be examined by the President and Council of the North, and when his deposition was taken he said that, though reluctant to surrender his house” if it might have stood with the King's pleasure that he might have kept it,” he considered it right to obey the King. He had been convinced by the arguments of the Bishop of Durham and the Archbishop of York that the Pope's supremacy was illegal, and even Dr. Hillyard, who was the only one who ever advised him to hold out, did not recommend his doing so in opposition to the royal authority. For his own part he quite accepted the King's supremacy, but he had had to imprison four of his monks for a quarter of a year before he could bring them over to his own view, which they at last accepted. (fn. 44) Royal supremacy was evidently a trying question for the conscience—a thing opposed by many in principle and disliked by others in its operation, even when th principle was conceded.
Now, apart from the dangers of a continental combination, it was clear that England was not safe under Henry's rule if the men who disliked royal supremacy could easily escape to Scotland and take counsel with Cardinal Beton. It was for Henry's interest, therefore, to show the most conciliatory disposition towards James V., and to drop entirely, for the present, the old policy by which English and Scotch officers on the borders were encouraged to harbour outlaws from the opposite kingdom for the purpose of fomenting discord. Some correspondence had taken place at the close of 1539 about a Scotch rebel named Andrew Bell, taken in England by Sir Thomas Wharton. (fn. 45) Cromwell ordered Wharton to deliver him up, even if the Scotch officers did not do their duty in like manner; and it was perhaps only by negligence that he escaped in January, after the King of Scots had himself written to Wharton for his delivery. (fn. 46) Two Scotch rebels were, however, surrendered on the East Borders at Coldstream, where a meeting took place on the 21st for the extradition of fugitives, and a list of those “reset” on either side was drawn up. (fn. 47) Cromwell, moreover, was most anxious that Wharton should apprehend one George Rutherford, nicknamed Cockbank, with a view to his being handed over to the Scots. The man was secured, along with one of his sons and Tom Bell, another Scottish rebel, and lodged in Carlisle Castle. (fn. 48) But the great object of his capture was to offer him in exchange for Dr. Hillyard if the King of Scots would consent to deliver the latter in return. This James declined to do, as Dr. Hillyard was a churchman and he left the correction of the clergy to their bishops; but he insisted on the delivery of Cockbank, “a great riever, thief, and manslayer.” (fn. 49)
At the end of January (fn. 50) Henry despatched into Scotland Ralph Sadler, of whom we have already made mention, (fn. 51) a gentleman of his Privy Chamber, destined to play no inconsiderable part in the diplomacy of the coming age. The main reason for his mission was undoubtedly furnished by an occurrence which had taken place in the last month of the old year. A Scotch ship on her way to France had been wrecked at Bamborough, and letters were taken from one of the passengers, a servant of Cardinal Beton, written by the King and Council of Scotland to certain cardinals and others at Rome. They were most unscrupulously opened, and one of the documents, now lost, appears to have given grounds for suspecting that the Scots intended “some mystery with some of their confederates and allies.” In this, however, there could have been nothing very tangible to lay hold of; nor was there in a design of Beton's, which the letters also disclosed, to go to Rome in Lent. (fn. 52) Much more to Henry's purpose were certain evidences of angry feeling on James's part at some small things recently done at Rome. (fn. 53) A welcome revelation, no doubt; only, it required extreme adroitness to make use of it, especially considering the means by which the information was obtained. But Sadler was quite equal to the task, and the plan of operations was carefully sketched out beforehand. First, there was a present of six geldings to be delivered, which Henry had sent, finding his nephew took delight in those animals, with a most cordial message, which was to be sufficient for a first audience, the envoy merely intimating that he had secret matters to communicate in a more private interview; but if asked to utter his whole credence, either then or later, he must say he was instructed first of all to request a promise of the King of Scots, on his word of honour, to observe the closest possible secrecy about it, without even consulting his Council, some of whom might perhaps be affected by what he had to tell. But if James insisted that one or two of them should be present, Sadler might consent, provided only that Cardinal Beton were not one of them. (fn. 54)
Under these conditions Sadler was to tell the story of the letters found in the ship (left by chance, as Sadler was to pretend, and not reclaimed by the person who had them in his charge), and to say that one of them, in the handwriting of Cardinal Beton himself, who was regarded as James's chief councillor, showed that he was seeking to get into his own hand the entire spiritual jurisdiction within James's own realm, and under colour of that the temporal jurisdiction also, “taking for cloak the Bishop of Rome's usurped power,” so that the Scotch King's own authority would soon be little or none at all. In fact he was showing himself friendly to James's traitors, claiming by papal authority to be their judge and meaning to deliver them. James should be on his guard against the ruin to which prelates would reduce the state of Kings, for they aspired to rule everything as their deputies or depose them at pleasure. If James showed himself thankful for this advice and thought he might use it, either then or afterwards, in the way of keeping some control over the Cardinal, Sadler might deliver to him the original letter itself; but if he seemed to think little of the matter, he was to say he had no commission to deliver it. (fn. 55)
The ambassador was then to suggest to James how much he might improve his revenue by following Henry's example in suppressing monasteries, and to warn him of the inexpediency of seeking alliances abroad, either with the Emperor or the French King, from whom he could only expect fair words, while a firm amity with Henry would secure his own kingdom against trouble and give him a fair chance of the succession in England, which Parliament had empowered Henry to regulate in the event of the Prince's death, to the exclusion of his own daughters, if he thought advisable. Sadler was to watch the effect of these communications on James' countenance, and “pithily inculk” Henry's great affection for him. But if James showed any misgiving by alluding to recent fortifications on the Borders, ho was to say that they were not raised in those parts only but elsewhere as well, so that England was never a third part so strong as it was then; nor were the Border fortifications raised out of any distrust of James' good will (although it was reported abroad that he would do as the French King and the Emperor did), but merely from the consideration that he might possibly die without issue, and it was only prudent to provide against any conceivable change. Sadler was also to ask, of course, for the delivery of Dr. Hillyard. (fn. 56)
Sadler reached Edinburgh on Tuesday the 17th February. James was at Holyrood and, considerately allowing him a day's rest after his journey, sent for him on Thursday the 19th. The interview, which went no further than the first interview was intended to do, was as satisfactory as could be. Next day he had another, when James readily gave him the required promise of secrecy, and he proceeded to tell the story of the shipwreck and of the letters, not disputing a correction interposed by James, who already knew the facts, that the latter were taken from the man in charge of them by Henry's officers. When Sadler spoke of Be ton “devising how to compass himself by a crafty means, under the colour of the Bishop of Rome's power” to be the judge of James' traitors that he might set them free, James asked who those traitors were. Sadler said there were two, named Hutcheson and Harvy, who had committed treason against James, and whom the Cardinal sought to befriend by constituting himself their judge under the usurped authority of the Bishop of Rome; and from this example he enlarged on the craftiness of prelates, as instructed. Of course, it was only a question between the old limits of temporal and spiritual jurisdiction and the new system introduced by Henry in his own kingdom, by which the temporal sovereign should have supreme spiritual jurisdiction also. James was not prepared for such a revolution in his kingdom and showed by his reply that he recognised the established order. Neither did he approve of putting down abbeys. But he strongly denied that he had ever contemplated, even for the sake of the Emperor or the French King, whose policy it was supposed that he would follow, a breach with the King, his uncle, and he did not believe that even Francis intended it. And when Sadler spoke of the possibility of his succeeding to the English throne, and revived the suggestion, made by lord William Howard some years before, of a meeting between him and Henry, James quite entered into the project, and only threw in a suggestion that the French King might be got to join the meeting as well. But Sadler said to this the sea would be an obstacle, and Henry and Francis had met before, but Henry and James had never yet seen each other. James smiled and said he would think of it. (fn. 57)
The result of Sadler's mission was, on the whole, reassuring, and James had treated the envoy himself with the greatest possible consideration. But it was quite clear that he was not going to break with the Church for Henry's sake, and though there were several young men at his court who, as Sadler expressed it, “favoured Christ's doctrine,” there was no one to lead them, so that he could not help taking the advice of his bishops and clergy, who, of course, looked upon England as a land of heretics. Indeed, they insinuated that Sadler himself ate flesh in Lent, a thing he said he was incapable of doing, for it was forbidden even in England; he only ate eggs and white meats, for he was “an evil fishman,” and thought it “none offence.” (fn. 58)
Meanwhile Philip, duke of Bavaria had taken leave of the Princess Mary, having received a passport for his return on the 27th January. (fn. 59) Marillac seems to have expected that the marriage would take place before he left England, and a rumor got abroad that it actually had taken place. (fn. 60) But at home the design was kept as secret as possible—no doubt for fear of public indignation. It certainly awoke deep sympathy with Mary at the Emperor's court in the Netherlands; but Granvelle thought that if it were pressed it must be suffered, provided she consented to nothing against religion, and he sent over a form of protestation for her to use. (fn. 61) Philip himself, however, seems not to have been altogether content to take his bride as a bastard, and, as it afterwards appeared, sought some modification of the terms. (fn. 62)
Henry, moreover, must have seen pretty clearly that he could not hope for much sympathy from the Protestants of Germany after the Act of the Six Articles. His marriage tended to a political alliance, not only with the duke of Cleves, but with the Elector of Saxony, through whom he made overtures to the Smalcaldic league for a confederacy against the Pope. The Elector was anxious to make the most of his new brother-in-law, but was obliged to tell him that their league was only for the sake of religion, and that the result of previous negotiations with him on that subject had not been very encouraging; still, as the operation of the Act of the Six Articles had been suspended, and Henry desired to know their reasons on certain matters of doctrine where he thought they went too far, he had caused their divines to draw up for him a statement of their arguments on four special subjects. (fn. 63)
The King, however, was but trifling with the German Protestants in a manner sufficient, if not to raise false hopes among them, at all events to instil false fears elsewhere. Nothing could well have been a more formidable prospect to the Emperor than that of the duke of Cleves, supported by England, laying claim to Gelderland, encouraging the Ghent insurgents and helping the Protestant Princes to distract the Empire. It only required France to join the confederacy, and the Low Countries would have been irretrievably lost to the House of Burgundy. The dread of any approach to such a state of matters made Charles all the more determined, but, at the same time, all the more cautious in his policy. Of the many difficulties by which he was surrounded he naturally dealt with the most pressing first. The fulfilment of his engagements to Francis might be deferred, conciliatory language might be used to the Protestants, offers of some kind might even be held out to the duke of Cleves; but it was of the first importance (if he were only sure of Francis) to punish the rebellious citizens of Ghent, lest their evil example should spread. The citizens of Grhent had no friends and could offer no opposition. So to Ghent the Emperor came, after a short stay at Brussels, in the middle of February, (fn. 64) and scores of conspirators were soon made prisoners, several of whom were in brief time condemned, though none seem to have been executed till the middle of March. (fn. 65) Measures of still further severity were to follow ere long; but even the executions, apparently, could not be carried out till the Emperor felt it could be done with safety. Certain it is that he had passed sleepless nights with anxiety just before. He was fully conscious of the error he had committed in revealing to Wyatt the knowledge he had recently obtained of past intrigues for the partition of his dominions, and he knew precisely what use Henry was endeavouring to make of the disclosure by the duke of Norfolk's mission. Great was his relief, accordingly, on learning that Francis had distinctly told the Duke he would not break with him, provided he kept his promises. (fn. 66) He knew well enough that he could easily avoid any demand for their immediate fulfilment, and he had no intention whatever to give up Milan. (fn. 67) He knew also that France would not raise disturbances in the Low Countries. So taking advantage of the friendliness of Francis, he would do his best to conciliate the Protestants and dally with the duke of Cleves, who again and again pressed for the investiture of Grelderland, and with whom it was generally supposed that he would come to an agreement, allowing him the duchy, not as a right, but in “dote” on his marrying the duchess of Milan. But closer observers, who understood the Emperor better, never believed in the agreement. (fn. 68)
Thus Francis, who had already revealed to his old rival the intrigues at Ghent, and given him free passage through his kingdom to punish them, was allowing him further to win from him his natural allies, the duke of Cleves and the German Protestants, without giving him in return any substantial pledge, either of the cession of Milan or of anything else in controversy between them. His chivalry had astounded many; and there were some who said the Emperor was a fool for putting himself in the power of his former enemy, and Francis a still greater one for letting him pass in safety. (fn. 69) As time went on, it seemed almost certain that the amity had begun to cool. Early in March Montmorency and the cardinal of Lorraine were expected in embassy at Ghent. Wallop was commissioned to tell the queen of Navarre (for of course it would have been unwise to say it to Francis himself) that they would be entertained with a mere appearance of amity and nothing would be gained by their mission. (fn. 70) That was very much Margaret's own opinion, and possibly it took some effect elsewhere, for the mission of Montmorency and the Cardinal was continually put off, and ultimately seems to have been abandoned altogether. (fn. 71) Henry also strove to drive other wedges into the alliance; and it was rather opportune for him that the Pope's grandson, cardinal Farnese, who, though but a youth of 19, had been sent legate through France to the Low Countries, had, by his tutor, Marcello Cervini, advised Francis to make a difficulty about concluding with the Emperor, from whose necessity he could easily obtain all he wanted. This Wyatt had learned in Flanders, and it was admitted by Margaret of Navarre to be a fact; (fn. 72) but still she saw no probability of any change of policy as regarded the amity. If Francis were inclined to war he had no one to rely upon but the Constable Montmorency, who had been the adviser of the Emperor's passing through France, and who would certainly never think of provoking a rupture.
Nevertheless, it is quite certain that Francis was already seriously disappointed at the Emperor's unwillingness to fulfil his engagements. There was great truth in what Henry told him that the Emperor's estimation in the world depended mainly upon him; (fn. 73) for if he had supported the duke of Cleves in Gelderland, and allied himself with the Protestants, as some of his agents still expected him to do, (fn. 74) the Emperor's hold upon the Low Countries would have been very weak. But Charles, while evading the demand of Francis for Milan, sent Bonvalot, abbot of St. Vincent, to make very large, and seemingly liberal, offers in place of it—only without any sacrifice on his own part. He would give his daughter in marriage to the duke of Orleans, with the Low Countries and the counties of Burgundy and Charolois in reversion after his death, they residing there in the meanwhile. (fn. 75) These proposals were a trial to patience. Francis looked upon the Duchy of Milan as his right, and was not disposed to accept a reversionary interest in the Low Countries in its place; but if a fair compensation could be guaranteed he would still accept it for the sake of peace. The Emperor's message, however, was so disappointing that it was said that after Bonvalot's arrival the French King, the Dauphin, and Montmorency held a consultation over it, on leaving which Montmorency took to bed, quite unwell, for two or three days, while his rival, Admiral Brion, who had been so long under a cloud, was acquitted in Parliament, and came to court once more. (fn. 76)
So much Henry knew by the beginning of April, and possibly he conceived that at last there was some slight prospect of breaking the concert of the two great continental powers. The issue, however, was by no means clear; and as neither Francis, the duke of Cleves, nor the Protestants seemed likely to prove valuable allies, the whole Cromwellian policy was in serious danger. In point of fact, Marillac wrote on the 10th April that Cromwell seemed to be tottering to his fall, and that he and his friend, the archbishop of Canterbury, did not know where they were. The very men who had profited most by the ruin of the abbeys were prepared to turn against them, and a complete change in many things might be looked for within a few days. (fn. 77) It did not actually come quite so soon as Marillac expected. In fact, a week later Cromwell was created Earl of Essex, so that he seemed even to be rising in favour. But some indication of what was in the wind may be traced in the history of certain occurrences connected with the sermons which had just recently been delivered at Paul's Cross during Lent.
Notwithstanding the severe Act of the Six Articles passed in the preceding year (which, though law, had not yet been put into execution) there were preachers like Dr. Barnes, of Lutheran sympathies, who seemed still to receive not a little encouragement in high quarters. Barnes, who, as will be seen in the last volume, had been sent ambassador to Denmark in the early part of 1539, and later in the year, after he had come home, had received promotion from Cromwell, (fn. 78) had every reason apparently to consider himself still in favour. But having been appointed to preach at Paul's Cross on the first Sunday in Lent, the arrangement was set aside at the last moment, that the bishop of Winchester (Gardiner) might occupy the pulpit that day. (fn. 79) The change was rather ominous in itself, for some months before Gardiner had been put out of the Privy Council by Cromwell's influence, because he had objected to Barnes, as a man defamed of heresy, being employed as an ambassador. (fn. 80) And when the Bishop, in his sermon, denounced the Lutheran doctrines which some were propagating, Barnes was touched to the quick. But he determined to answer him, and, a fortnight later, on the third Sunday in Lent, preaching from the same pulpit, and purposely from the same text, he emphatically contradicted what the Bishop had said, with language and actions of most unseemly defiance. (fn. 81)
Barnes no doubt presumed upon the fact that the Bishop was not even yet restored to his place in the King's Council. (fn. 82) But the insult was a little too marked, and Gardiner was compelled to complain of it to the King. He made little, however, of the personal affront, and desired that he and Barnes might discuss the question of doctrine in the hearing of indifferent persons; which being agreed to, he offered Barnes his choice whether he, the Bishop, should answer him or Barnes should answer the Bishop. Barnes preferred the latter course; and the Bishop laid before him arguments which he confessed he was not able to answer. He then fell on his knees and asked Gardiner's forgiveness, saying that instead of being the Bishop's schoolmaster he was content to be his scholar. Gardiner accordingly drew up for his edification a set of theological propositions (No. 312), which Barnes, as the result of their discussion, was obliged to admit as incontestable. (fn. 83)
Barnes certainly found that his esteem at court was not so great as he had hoped. The King at first took up the attitude of an impartial hearer of the dispute, and wished rather to shield him; but after making such a pitiful exhibition of himself in controversy he could depend on royal favour no longer. The King sent for him, apparently on Friday the 12th March, and doubtless insisted on his recanting his heresies openly. But in the meantime William Jerome, vicar of Stepney, a preacher of the same school, had taken Barnes's place at Paul's Cross on the following Sunday (7th March) and preached the same and other heresies, of which Gardiner drew up a report to the King in two copies; (fn. 84) and after him Thomas Garrard, or Garrat, of whom we heard long ago, (fn. 85) followed suit with similar doctrines in the same place. Like Barnes, Jerome was convented before the King and perhaps Garrard also. All three were enjoined to preach recantation sermons and agreed to do so in Easter week.
The first to do it was Jerome, who appears to have preached at his own parish church of Stepney on Easter Monday (29 March). (fn. 86) An account of his sermon by one of his hearers was written the same day to Gregory Cromwell. Next day Barnes delivered his recantation sermon at St. Mary Spital in the presence of the bishop of Winchester, whose pardon he publicly invoked for his incivility. (fn. 87) The apology, however, was made with such a very bad grace that it was clearly done only to comply with orders, and in continuing his sermon he preached again the very doctrine that he had retracted. (fn. 88) He was accordingly committed to the Tower, where his two friends, Jerome and Garrard, were placed along with him. (fn. 89)
The world was beginning to believe that Lutheranism had no more favour to expect at Court, and men like Wallop, who did not love German theology, were filled with admiration for the “charitable dexterity” manifested by the King in his dealings with “ungracious” heretics. (fn. 90) This itself was a symptom that Cromwell's influence was on the wane; and in the beginning of April not only Gardiner but one or two other bishops, who had for some time been excluded from the Privy Council, were said to have been actually summoned to it again; (fn. 91) while Tunstall, it was believed, was to be Vicar-General in Cromwell's place. The appointment of two new Secretaries of State, Wriothesley and Sadler, (fn. 92) may also have had something to do with a contemplated change in policy. But the speculations as to Cromwell's fall were a little premature, and the bishops who were supposed to have been summoned to attend Council were not admitted again till after he had really fallen. For though clouds were certainly gathering around the minister, another meeting of Parliament was at hand—of the same Parliament whose tractability from the outset he had done so much to ensure—and apparently his services were still required for a while to conduct the business. The Houses met on the 12th April, (fn. 93) and on the 17th he was created earl of Essex, (fn. 94) so that to all appearance, he was more highly honoured than ever. Next day also he was appointed Great Chamberlain of England. (fn. 95) And for some weeks, no doubt with a hard enough fight, he seems still to have maintained his ascendancy in the Council, while Parliament was anxiously looking to the bishops for guidance as to a future settlement of religion, and, as the bishops disagreed among themselves, it was uncertain whether the old school or the new would ultimately prevail. (fn. 96)
On Sunday the 9th May the new-made earl of Essex received a summons to attend the King immediately on weighty matters concerning the surety and honour of his person and the tranquillity of his subjects. (fn. 97) What those weighty matters were we can only surmise from a careful study of the situation. The King's chief anxiety, of course, was still as to the possibility, which seemed to be growing desperate, of creating a new breach between Francis and the Emperor. Only a day or two before, not only he, but Cromwell and the duke of Norfolk also, each by himself, and each, as Marillac wrote, appearing to have a separate rôle arranged for him, had been expressing to the French ambassador their deep sympathy with his master as the victim of Burgundian diplomacy, (fn. 98) which they were sorry that they themselves had too much encouraged in the past. This was simply an effort to fret as much as possible the irritation which it was certain Francis must feel at the Emperor's offer of Flanders in exchange for Milan, the knowledge of which had in fact given rise to rumours of strained relations between the two. (fn. 99) Francis, however, though he admitted that difficulties had arisen upon the subject, declared firmly that these were not of a kind to make any alteration in the amity; (fn. 100) and though Henry may well have doubted the perfect sincerity of the assurance, it could have given him little comfort to find that the French king was so anxious to live on good terms with his rival.
For more than a year the fortifications of Calais and Guisnes had naturally been a matter of great anxiety, and ever since the Commission sent over under the earl of Hertford, in March 1539, to report upon them, new works and repairs had been going on at a considerable rate. (fn. 101) We hear less about them, indeed, after the alarm had begun to abate in summer, but it is clear they were steadily continued, for in July 1,000l. was paid to Fowler to advance them, (fn. 102) and on the 12th March of the present year another 1,000l. was paid to Richard Lee, the surveyor of Calais, assuredly for the same purpose. (fn. 103) In April there were 60 bricklayers engaged on one single bulwark at Guisnes, while other workmen were digging for the foundation of countermure walls. (fn. 104) So Richard Lee reported on the 16th April; but on that very day, the day before Cromwell was made earl of Essex, he reported further that the French were fortifying Ardres, (fn. 105) immediately opposite, which had been a long time deserted, having been burnt, it seems, at one time by the united forces of England and the Emperor. (fn. 106)
The news, however, appears already to have been intimated to Cromwell by lord Lisle, and Wallop received instructions in letters of the 12th, to demand explanations of Francis. Of course the fact was confessed. Francis admitted that he intended to fortify both Ardres and other towns on the Emperor's borders— a suggestion that England was not specially menaced— for he was under no obligation not to do so, and though once there had been propositions made to that effect, the burning of the town shortly afterwards by the English and Imperial armies made it unnecessary for him to consider the susceptibilities of his allies. He was just as free to fortify his own border as Henry was to fortify Calais and Guisnes. (fn. 107)
Further explanations soon followed, sent by Montmorency to Marillac in England; but they were scarcely such as to give Henry greater comfort. They stated that Francis was merely taking advantage of a time of peace to fortify Ardres and the frontiers. He had no coolness at all with the Emperor, any more than with the King of England. The delay of the journey of Montmorency and the cardinal of Lorraine was not due to anything of that kind. Francis had celebrated the feast of St. George the very day on which Montmorency wrote (23rd April) with the ceremonies of the Order of the Garter, and had the best possible inclination to preserve the amity with England. He was particularly glad at all times to have news of his good brother. (fn. 108) And Francis himself wrote in a similar vein next day; (fn. 109) after which both he and Montmorency continued to repeat the assurance that there was no coolness with the Emperor, in the face of many rumours to the contrary which they strove hard to suppress and punish. (fn. 110)
Thus, at the time of the special summons to Council above referred to, it was certain that the French King, with the fairest professions towards Henry, was fortifying Ardres, and that, however much he was disappointed that Milan was not conceded to him, (fn. 111) he had no intention, so far as could be ascertained, of breaking off negotiations with the Emperor, who, in fact, seemed rather to have become a little more reasonable. These were disquieting thoughts, and they undoubtedly gave much point to the Queen of Navarre's advice to Henry not to agree too openly with the duke of Cleves and the German Princes against the Emperor, lest he should drive Francis to agree with the Emperor against him. (fn. 112) For if a good understanding were once effected between England and the German Princes, Francis, she thought, would be afraid that the Emperor would make concessions to the Princes, and that England and Germany would then unite against France. But neither the Germans nor the duke of Cleves received undue encouragement from Henry. The Duke came to Ghent and delivered to Ferdinand, King of the Romans a declaration of his title to Gelderland. Answer was made by Charles V., disallowing his pretensions, and Ferdinand advised him at once to acquiesce and hand over Gelderland to the Emperor; on which the Duke said that, though he could make a very good reply, it was needless to argue further against the Emperor's manifest determination, and he went his way. (fn. 113) Efforts were made to stay him with new proposals, of which the duke of Brunswick was the medium; but the duke of Cleves replied that, as his mother's interests were involved, he must visit her in the first place. Finally, he left Ghent dissatisfied, and apparently it was the news of this more than anything that filled the King with anxiety. For it was pretty clear that the duke would now appeal to him for aid against the Emperor, and the demand would be very inconvenient. His feeling seems to be expressed in a letter from Cromwell to Pate, written two days after the date of the Council, in which Pate is thanked for his diligence in sending information, and is requested still to use his utmost vigilance, as “the whole world of Christendom hangeth yet in balance.” (fn. 114)
But Henry's anxieties regarding the two great Powers on the continent were mixed with anxieties concerning Ireland and concerning Calais. He had just recently made a change in the government of each of these dependencies; and no doubt it was a question what to do with their two late governors, lord Leonard Grey and lord Lisle.
Long before this, lord Leonard Grey had been promised leave to come home at his own earnest request, which he had pressed in repeated letters for more than two years. (fn. 115) He again pressed it this year in March, (fn. 116) and it was at length conceded by a letter from the King of the 1st April, (fn. 117) desiring him to hasten his journey as much as possible in order that he might return with additional forces for the subjugation of the country. He at once obeyed, and was no sooner gone than the Council, which had never been able to get on with him, reported that he had left the land in very serious danger. The very rumour that ho had been recalled stirred up the Tooles near Dublin and the Kavenaghs in Wexford, while O'Connor invaded Kildare, and O'Neil, as usual, was troublesome in the North. (fn. 118) Sir William Brereton was left to take care of the government in his absence, with the title of lord Justice, and Chancellor Alen and Vice-Treasurer Brabazon, who had been loudest in their complaints against him, received orders to come to England also, no doubt, that they might state their grievances. They were, however, unprepared for the summons, and pleaded that they must be allowed a brief time, at least until Brereton was formally elected and installed in office. (fn. 119)
Two untoward incidents had occurred, however, even before lord Leonard's recall. The first was the escape of young Gerald Fitzgerald from Ireland into Britanny, where, of course, English agents at once sought either to kidnap him or to procure his surrender. (fn. 120) The other was the murder of James FitzMaurice, so lately recognised by the government as earl of Desmond, by his cousin Maurice FitzJohn, brother to James FitzJohn, the other claimant of the earldom. (fn. 121) Both these matters were still, no doubt, engaging the attention of the Council in the beginning of May, but they were not then very recent.
Lord Lisle had been recalled and superseded in the government of Calais much in the same way as lord Leonard Grey had been in that of Ireland. Lord Lisle, too, had felt the annoyances of his post, to which, to say the truth, he was scarcely equal; and the King sent over Commissioners in March, partly to inquire into the disorders raised by Damplip and the other “Sacramentaries” within the town, and partly to examine the state of the fortifications and take musters of the retinues. These Commissioners were the earl of Sussex, lord St. John, Sir John Gage and three others, Lisle himself being joined with them in the Commission. (fn. 122) But after they had been a month at Calais the King wrote to lord Lisle not only that he might come to England, but that he desired his presence there, directing the earl of Sussex and Gage to remain till his return, and the other Commissioners, having finished their business, to come home. (fn. 123) Lisle of course obeyed the summons, but it was not destined to be, as suggested, a mere temporary absence from his post, for after being a month in England he was lodged in the Tower; (fn. 124) to which same unpleasant fortress the late deputy of Ireland also was, by-and-by, committed. (fn. 125) Indeed, before the end of June the Tower was packed pretty full of prisoners.
But we are anticipating. To complete our view of the situation on the 9th May, when Cromwell received that summons to an immediate Council, it is necessary now to consider domestic matters. The merry month had opened with tournaments and challenges, for which preparations had long been made beforehand; (fn. 126) but on these it is not necessary to enlarge in the style of the old chroniclers. The only significant thing about them was that they were ostensibly instituted to afford exercise for military order in a time of such profound peace that men were in danger of letting their faculties rust in idleness. For serious business, of course, we must look to what was going on in Parliament. The Houses met again on the 12th April to continue the work left unfinished last year. The Chancellor opened the session with an empty speech, saying that they were convened to promote the glory of God; but Cromwell followed suit with a more explicit declaration of the objects in view. The King, he said, wished for nothing more than peace as a bond of the common weal, but he knew there were promoters of dissension in religious matters, one party calling the others Papists and the latter calling the former heretics. The Bible, which the King had given them in English, was scandalously abused. The King had accordingly appointed a commission of bishops and divines in order that a true formulary of doctrine might be put forth by authority, the proper use of ceremonies enforced, and abuses corrected.
This, however, was a matter in which Parliament had clearly nothing more to do until the committee of divines had presented their report, and it naturally proceeded to other business, for which its services were more immediately wanted. The last of the monasteries, properly so called, had been surrendered in March, (fn. 127) and only one or two hospitals still remained. But the great religious and military Order of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem was still untouched, and it was hardly possible after the monasteries had fallen that it should be left undisturbed. The monasteries, in truth, though they fell without much difficulty after royal supremacy had been established, had never stood much in the way of the King's policy. But the Order of St. John in England was essentially a branch of a great religious brotherhood, extending through the different nations of Europe under the authority of a Grand Master, who, of course, acknowledged the spiritual allegiance due by himself and all his brethren to the Pope. Out of this had arisen serious complications within the last twelve months, and at Malta Sir Clement West, the Turcopolier, was not only deprived of his office and his great cross, but his friend and fellow, Sir Nicholas Lambert, was imprisoned along with him for daring to appeal to the King against the sentence. (fn. 128)
A bill was accordingly laid before the House of Lords on the 22nd April for the suppression of the Order in England and in Ireland, and the confiscation of its possessions to the King. On the 29th the Bill was read and ordered to be transcribed on parchment. On the 1st May it was agreed to unanimously and sent down to the Commons, from whom it was received again on Saturday the 8th (fn. 129) with a proviso added by the Lower House. On Monday the 10th, the day after Cromwell's summons to Council, the proviso was agreed to and the Bill passed. On the 3rd May the first of a new series of Bills of Attainder was brought in—that for the attainder of Giles Heron, and it, too, after going down to the Commons and receiving some additions, had passed through all its stages on the 10th. On the 8th a Bill of Subsidy was read in the Lords, which presumably had already passed the Commons, being a double grant, first, of four fifteenths and tenths, payable by instalments in four years; and, second, of a shilling in the pound on lands and sixpence on personal property for natives, and double those amounts for aliens, even for those who were made denizens, payable yearly for two years. (fn. 130) All this taxation in addition to the confiscations of all the monastic property in the Kingdom and the revenues of the Knights of St. John! The pretext, however, was to reimburse the King for his excessive expenses in putting down rebellions and building fortifications. The Bill was passed and the King had got nearly everything he wanted by Tuesday the 11th May, when the Houses adjourned for Whitsuntide. This may have been one result of the Council held on the 9th—the Sunday before Whitsunday.
The sum of the situation, then, was, first, that the King, as Marillac reported to Montmorency, had apparently got all he wanted from Parliament before the Whitsuntide recess, and that Parliament might then have been dissolved but for the question of religion, on which the divines had not yet been able to agree. Their controversies, indeed, would have run to still greater length but that the King personally attended their meetings, heard their reasons, and decided some points himself. But it was expected that a settlement would be arrived at, and a book of doctrine would then be issued under the authority of Parliament, by which the truth should be determined according to the decisions of ancient councils, and not according to the tenets either of the Germans or of the Pope. (fn. 131) Secondly, Henry had secured himself as far as possible by costly bulwarks, by large confiscations, and by a liberal subsidy which he had squeezed out of this most tractable Parliament, against a danger which the fortification of Ardres and the unwillingness of Francis to break with the Emperor showed clearly might ere long prove very serious. Thirdly, he was on the look-out to put both Calais and Ireland under new deputies, and had already taken decisive measures, through Commissioners, for putting down religious disturbances at Calais, (fn. 132) so that on the whole he was pretty secure all round. But he must still keep careful watch not to be taken by surprise; and it did not escape his notice that James V. had been preparing a fleet in the Firth of Forth ready to convey him, no one knew exactly whither—perhaps to Ireland, that he might dispute the lordship of the whole island with Henry, (fn. 133) or perhaps to France. He had proposed to embark in the middle of May, but put it off—no doubt on account of the confinement of his Queen, who gave him a son on the 22nd. Then the 29th was named, and then Midsummer. (fn. 134) As it turned out, he only made a cruise among his own Western islands to subdue rebellious chieftains and promote better government and order.
On the whole, events seemed to furnish arguments for a reversal of Cromwell's policy and the establishment of religion on something like an old orthodox basis, that it might not be said that the King was an enemy of the faith, on whom foreign princes were justified in making war at the Pope's solicitation. And when Henry, on the 31st May, gave audience to ambassadors who came to him from the duke of Cleves desiring his advice how to answer the Emperor's demand for the possession of Gelderland, he gave them but a cold response. He was glad the duke had returned to his own countries, but was sorry that he had been so late in receiving the duke's letters on the subject; nor could he give a deliberate answer even yet till the duke had shown him “the full state of his affairs”; for he understood that he had made some overtures for a compromise, about which he was not sufficiently informed. (fn. 135) But Cromwell still seemed to maintain his ascendancy, and it might even be supposed that he stood higher than ever in the King's favour. Indeed, the bishops who were said to have been recalled to Council in April, do not appear actually to have taken their seats there. (fn. 136) But things were in a strangely vacillating state.
In the end of May, Sampson, bishop of Chichester, was arrested and sent to the Tower, accused of treason. That same morning, according to Marillac, he had been made “de Valmaister,” whatever that may be—perhaps he had been designated bishop of Westminster, the new bishopric immediately afterwards given to Thirleby; though when it is added that he had also “taken possession of it with all solemnity,” we are rather puzzled. Anyhow, it would seem he was destined for honour in the morning and disgraced and imprisoned two hours later. Dr. Wilson, on account of his old papal leanings, was arrested the same day. Latimer, who had given up his bishopric in the preceding year, was still a prisoner in bishop Sampson's house at the time the latter was sent to the Tower, but there was no thought of releasing him. (fn. 137)
These arrests seemed to confirm the ascendancy of Cromwell once more; but, as Marillac noted, the King's councillors were divided, each trying to destroy the other. The balance soon inclined the other way, and on the 10th June a decisive blow was struck, Cromwell himself being arrested and committed to the Tower, on the ground that he had been counter-working the King in his efforts for the settlement of religion. (fn. 138) His one friend, Cranmer, wrote to Henry, as he had done in the case of Anne Boleyn, that he stood amazed and grieved, but was glad as a loyal subject that his treasons had been discovered. (fn. 139) Cranmer was powerless now to carry innovations in religion, and only expressed his own opinion among the divines with submission to the King's superior wisdom. (fn. 140) He was the most frank of all theologians in admitting that royal theology must ultimately determine the faith of the whole nation.
Of course, from the moment of his arrest Cromwell knew perfectly how it would go with him. (fn. 141) Even if he had been heard in Parliament in his own defence the result would not have been different; but following the bad precedent set last year (fn. 142) he was to be attainted in his absence without a hearing. He was, however, meanwhile to be questioned in the Tower on matters in which it concerned the King to obtain his evidence —partly, no doubt, to be used against himself, but partly for a more important object still. Two days after his committal he writes to the King from his cell in answer to inquiries addressed to him on the King's behalf by Sir William Kingston, controller of the household, who was also constable of the Tower. He denied, of course, with perfect sincerity, that he had ever in his life intended to displease the King, and he also denied ever having spoken with Throgmorton and Sir Richard Riche at the same time—an accusation the bearings of which we do not precisely know. He further denied that he had within the last 14 days revealed a very portentous secret. After the King had told him in private of things that he disliked in the Queen she had often, he wrote, desired to speak with him, but he declined till the King himself thought he might do good by speaking to her, and, not finding an opportunity, he had spoken to her lord chamberlain instead—an indiscretion for which he desired the King's pardon. This was before the great secret referred to had been communicated to himself by the King, and he never mentioned it to any one but the lord Admiral (Southampton) (fn. 143) to whom he imparted it by the King's own command the Sunday before the date on which he wrote. Another point of which he was accused was of “retaining,” contrary to the laws, which he thought he had not done, though he had been so much besought by friends to take children and young people into his household. The law, he conceived, was saved by the fact that their parents found their living, but if he had offended he desired pardon. (fn. 144)
These, however, were but preliminary questions addressed to him. The King by and by drafted in his own hand (fn. 145) a set of interrogatories to be administered to him on a more important subject. They were virtually a statement of facts and circumstances relating to the marriage with Anne of Cleves, of which Cromwell was required to acknowledge the truth; and he not only subscribed a statement that they were true, but wrote a long letter to the King (of which he must have made more than one copy in his own hand, besides a still longer holograph repeating many of its statements), (fn. 146) giving full details of the facts in the order of the questions put to him. To extract this information for the King, lord chancellor Audeley, the duke of Norfolk, and the new lord Admiral (Russell, who now filled Southampton's place, as Southampton had been made Privy Seal in Cromwell's), visited him in the Tower, and required him to declare “on the damnation of his soul,” what he knew upon the matters in question. We may, therefore, consider the facts to be tolerably well attested; at least, since they were precisely those which the King wished to elicit, we may be assured that as reported they do him no injustice.
Their general purport was, in brief, to show that the King had never consummated the marriage, and never intended to do so. When he went to see his bride at Rochester he told Cromwell that he went “to nourish love.” When he came back, he told him “heavily” that he did not like her so well as he had been led to expect, and asked “What remedy?” Cromwell knew of none and was very sorry. After she had come to Greenwich, he appealed to Cromwell, whether lie was not right in declaring that she was “nothing so fair as she had been reported.” Then he had inquiries made of the agents of the duke of Cleves what commission they had brought for the performance of certain covenants, and what evidence that the covenant for the marriage of the lady to the duke of Lorraine's son had been annulled. The answers were unsatisfactory, and he said “I am not well handled.” He declared that if it were not that the lady had come so far, and for fear of driving her brother into the hands of the Emperor and the French King, he would not go through with the marriage ceremony. The lady on this was asked to make a protest that she was free from all pre-contracts, and she did so. “Is there none other remedy, then,” said the King, “but that I must needs against my will put my neck in the yoke?” On the morning of his marriage he again told Cromwell that if it were not to satisfy the world and his realm, he would not do what he was about to do on any account. On the morning after, in reply to a question of Cromwell's, he said he liked the lady worse than ever, adding some very gross details, but declaring that he had left her as good a maid as he found her; and he had frequently at later dates repeated the latter statement, in other words, adding at one time a lament that he should never have more children if he so continued. (fn. 147)
All this Cromwell acknowledged, and it formed the King's case for a process of nullity before his own clergy in convocation. He had agreed originally to the match (such was his own statement), “trusting to have some assured friend by it” (abroad), as he much doubted the Emperor, France, and the bishop of Rome. But when he saw her at Rochester he was glad he had kept free from any binding engagements, and considered whether it was possible to break it off. Cromwell, Suffolk, Russell, and Sir Anthony Browne could all bear witness to his misliking; and Cromwell particularly could testify to his “lack of consent” both the day of the marriage and after (this was written before the King knew that the condemned prisoner had actually made the required statement). His physicians also could testify the truth, and so could the new lord Privy Seal (Southampton), Hennege, and Denny. (fn. 148)
The world was still in the dark, however, about what was intended, when—on the 25th June according to Hall—the Queen was sent to Richmond, it being given out, merely for appearance's sake, that the King would follow her in two days. He did not do so, and a new pretence was started that she had left London for fear of the plague, though there was no talk at the time of any such visitation, and if there had been the King himself would have shunned the town, for no one dreaded it more. It was more likely that Henry wished his Queen out of the way as he was now devoted to another lady; and this was all that Marillac could divine on the 6th July. (fn. 149) But that very day a commission had been issued under the Great Seal to the clergy of the realm met together in a general synod, to inquire into the validity of the King's marriage, as to which the Lords and Commons in Parliament, sitting, of course, with closed doors, had already, no doubt at Norfolk's instigation, petitioned the King that certain doubts might be resolved. (fn. 150)
On the following day, accordingly, the clergy met in the Chapter House at Westminster. It is unnecessary to say that after various formalities had been gone through and various depositions read, some of which seem in these later days well calculated to inspire merriment, the marriage was found to be null. (fn. 151) The King's “neck” was released from that “yoke” from which he professed, when he put it there, to see no possibility of escape. The ostensible marriage had served its purpose and was now at an end. The ill-used lady who had been lured over from the banks of the Rhine on false pretences and mocked with a show of matrimony and of queenship, had been waited on by noblemen at Richmond, who practically convinced her that there was no help for it; she must leave the matter in the hands of the clergy. (fn. 152) So when the judgment was passed by Convocation she accepted it, being encouraged to hope that the King would take her as a sister; and a notarial instrument was made of her submission. Henry on this endowed her with lands to the extent of 4,000l. a year and gave her two houses to live in, the one at Richmond and the other at Bletchingley. She confessed “the integrity of her body,” and was even got to write, or rather sign, a letter to her brother (after it appeared that he had written to Henry to express his very natural dissatisfaction) saying that she quite consented to what had been done, that she was still a maid, and that the King had made as good provision for her as could be wished. (fn. 153)
At midnight on the 6th July—the very day of the servile petition from Parliament and the day before the matter was brought before the clergy—Richard Pate at Bruges had received a letter from the King desiring him to seek an immediate audience with the Emperor and inform him that doubts had been cast upon the marriage. He obtained an interview on the 8th; but when his Majesty asked the causes of the doubts he could only reply that they were founded on divine law, and that full particulars would be communicated later. The Emperor, no doubt, was taken by surprise, but the communication was not unwelcome, and he said Henry would always find him his loving brother and most cordial friend; the result of which was that Pate left the chamber with more than usual tokens of respect from those in attendance. (fn. 154) There had certainly been some appearance till then that the alliance with Cleves would lead to strained relations between England and the Emperor, and just before the audience Granvelle had asked Pate why the King supported the duke of Cleves in his claim to the dukedom of Gueldres. Pate said he was not aware of the fact, but if it were so it must be because Henry thought the duke had a rightful claim. (fn. 155) All clouds, however, were rapidly dissipated, as later information showed that the marriage had been annulled and the alliance with Cleves was at an end, while, owing to the fall of the arch-heretic Cromwell, and Pate's continual assurances, the Emperor's subjects began to feel that they might visit England without taking their own chaplains with them to say Mass as in a country where the Sacrament was abolished and religion banished from the churches. (fn. 156)
Nevertheless, rumours got abroad that one, even of the King's Council, had expressed the opinion that if the case had been tried in an indifferent place the marriage would have been held good. At Antwerp men said that the divorce had alienated the Germans but that the King had gained the Emperor and France in their place; which was no doubt partly true. (fn. 157) In Spain the Emperor's secretary, Covos, received the news with amusement and expressed himself sarcastically. It was not without a reason, he said, that the King of England claimed spiritual authority to judge the validity of marriages according to his own will. Yet bad as the business was it came not amiss in the Emperor's controversy with the duke of Cleves—just like the disputes which had arisen been the Landgrave and the duke of Saxony. God, he believed, was bringing good out of all these things. (fn. 158)
In France the news certainly created considerable astonishment. The duke of Cleves, whom the Emperor had hoped to bring over to acquiescence in his conditions, had just lately been advised by Francis not to conclude too hastily, and Henry had despatched Dr. Carne to France to confer in secret with the duke's ambassadors at Paris with the connivance of the French king's ministers. So that it seemed really as if Francis had begun to think at last of keeping the Emperor in check by an alliance with Henry and the duke of Cleves. (fn. 159) For the fall of Cromwell had produced a good effect in France also, where everyone rejoiced that an enemy of the common religion had been got rid of, and more really cordial relations with England had begun to be thought of. (fn. 160) But when Carne, as a lawyer, began to tell Francis that the King had been petitioned by his nobles and commons to commit the question of the validity of his marriage to the examination of the clergy, Francis was quite taken aback. “What,” said he, “the matrimony with the Queen that now is?” “Yea,” said Carne. “Then he fetched a great sigh, and so spake no more.” (fn. 161) Cardinal du Bellay, whom Wallop and Carne afterwards met at Anet, was no less grieved at the news, and said people could not but wonder at it as there was no apparent justification. (fn. 162) Du Bellay had always been the best friend of England at the French Court, and it was really very perplexing. But France, of course, still wished to maintain the amity.
After the sentence of nullity it began to be said that the King would marry Katharine Howard, the beautiful niece of the duke of Norfolk, who, as some believed, was already with child by him. (fn. 163) A month later she was recognised as queen, and she was prayed for by that name in the churches on the 15th August. (fn. 164) A new era had certainly begun, not in the King's domestic life only, but in the affairs of the nation. For the long reign of Cromwell was at an end; he was beheaded on the 28th July. (fn. 165) With him perished some shipwrecked policies which had served the King's purpose a while, but for which the King took no responsibility. A Catholic reaction had set in and was henceforth to be maintained, but without any renunciation of royal supremacy or acknowledgment of the Pope's authority. Two days after Cromwell's execution Barnes, Jerome, and Garrard were burned as heretics, and on the same day Powell, Abell, and Fetherstone were hanged as traitors (fn. 166) for denying the King's supremacy. The former three had been attainted by one Act of the session just closed (c. 58) and the latter three by another (c. 57) (fn. 167)—all, after the style which had lately come into use, being condemned in their absence without a hearing. The Parliament of 1539–40 had at length done its work and was dissolved on the 24th July. It had made the King a more complete autocrat than ever. (fn. 168)