Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 3, 1519-1523. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1867.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. All rights reserved.
Preface, Section 4
Wolsey delayed his journey to Calais as long as it could be delayed with safety or with decency. It was his object to give the Emperor as much time as possible for pushing on his successes, in the event of any future determination at the congress that both parties should remain in the status quo. By too long delay the equilibrium of both might become deranged, and his mediation be rejected or despised. He landed at Calais on the 2nd of August. On the road from London to Dover he was received with great demonstrations of respect; for the people had persuaded themselves that the purport of his mission was somehow favorable to the Emperor; and there was not a man throughout the realm of England, from the noble to the lowest bondsman, who did not rejoice at the prospect. When Montpesat, the late French ambassador, returned to the French Court, after a long residence in this country, he expressed his conviction that, with the exception of the King and the Cardinal, "all England after cared not and (if) all the Frenchmen were in the same case they were in in Navarre,"—Navarre having been lately recovered by Charles from the French, not without a bitter exhibition of his vengeance. (fn. 1) But even in this exception Montpesat was deceived; for Henry, fired with the thought of recovering what even Wolsey did not hesitate to call "his righteous inheritance in France," was to the full as desirous as any of his subjects of seeing that kingdom reduced once more to the condition of a conquered province. Henry V. was still the most popular of English monarchs. The deeds of the brave John Talbot, "the terror of the French," were still watered with the tears of Englishmen, and freshly embalmed in their memory. So the chance of a war with France was as welcome as its alliance was odious; and though lord mayors and aldermen were not generally to be found among the number of the Cardinal's well-wishers, they attended him on this occasion with profuse demonstrations of respect, bidding him "God speed!" and confusion to the enemies of England.
Armed against all contingencies, the Cardinal carried with him various commissions, all bearing the same date of the 29th of July. By the first he was empowered to settle the differences between Francis I. and Charles V.; by the second, to conclude a treaty of marriage between the princess Mary and the Emperor; by the third, to arrange a league between the Emperor and the king of England for carrying war into France, and recovering the King's dominions. By another set, intended to serve as blinds, he was authorized to treat of a closer amity with Francis I., and, if need be, make a general confederation of all the great powers of Christendom. (fn. 2)
The Cardinal was attended on his journey by the bishops of Durham (Ruthal) and Ely (West), the earl of Worcester, the prior of St. John's, and the Master of the Rolls (Tunstal). On reaching Calais he found the imperial deputies waiting his arrival. To them he gave the first audience, apparently the day after. The French ambassadors entered the town on the 4th, and were honorably received at the entrance of the English pale by the English marshal. On the 5th they were admitted to an audience. In conversation with the French deputies, the Cardinal enlarged on the determination of the Emperor to prosecute the war with alacrity, and his own anxiety to procure an advantageous truce for their master; with the imperial deputies he urged the paramount importance of the good will and alliance of England. But his greatest ingenuity and skill were bent on securing for his royal master the most advantageous terms at the proposed marriage of the Princess and the Emperor. He insisted on complete indemnity for all losses which England would sustain by its rupture with France. With Mary's hand the Emperor demanded a million ducats. Wolsey reduced the sum to 80,000l. The imperialists insisted that the Princess should be delivered into their hands "as soon as she should be seven years of age;" they also objected to the indemnity, for that, said they, was to buy friendship when they had a right to demand it; and whilst Henry wished to be left wholly at liberty, he tied the Emperor to hard conditions. The conditions were disputed with great obstinacy on both sides, the imperialists fearing to make the least concession, lest, if the Cardinal gained in one advantage, he should expect to gain in all. His courage, his perseverance, his indomitable resolution triumphed over every difficulty. Neither threats nor flattery could induce him to yield a single point, or wring from him the slightest concession. On his first arrival at Calais, the Emperor, then at Ghent, had gone to Bruges. From Bruges he wrote to Wolsey the most pressing invitations; determined, as he assured him, to be guided entirely by his counsel. "You and I," he said, "will do more in a day than my ambassadors will do in a month." (fn. 3) "You have always told me that you would apprise me of certain things that no man should know except the King, you and me; and for my part, I have assured you that I will show you the bottom of my heart:"—true or false, an unusual demonstration of frankness on his part. Two days after he wrote again in terms no less pressing and confiding. On one occasion Wolsey had gone so far as to send out his harbingers, and order his carriages for Bruges; but finding that the imperial ambassadors were inclined to dally with their engagements he countermanded his equipage until "a more towardly answer" should be received from the Emperor. (fn. 4) Whatever else may be denied him, he was certainly not wanting in political courage. Once resolved, nothing could shake him. Keen, sagacious, precise, a rigid adherent to the strict letter of agreements, as in his person so in his policy he was the type and model of an English statesman. And, like most Englishmen, he set a high value on the litera scripta as the best security from misinterpretation and cavil. To memory and generosity he trusted nothing.
Such strict and vulgar habits of business were as gall and wormwood to the imperious Spaniards, whose formal gravity was offended by Wolsey's abruptness and precision. To have their words taken down in writing they considered a reflection upon their honor. They despised such precision as an impediment to business, and ridiculed the genius of the man who was so minutely practical, so scrupuluously exact. "Sir (writes Wolsey to Henry VIII.) if such difficulties, arguments and persuasions as have been used by the Emperor's council from day to day were to your Grace known, and the reasons by me set forth to the confutation of the same, some time with sharp words and some time in pleasant manner, with the labors, business and study that I have taken therein, whereby for lack of sleep I have been inquieted with sundry disorders, your Grace should evidently perceive that I have omitted, according to my most bounden duty, as far as my poor wit will extend, nothing that might redound to the advancement of your honor and surety." (fn. 5)
It is not my intention to carry my readers through the details of the conference at Calais. Three distinct accounts of it, by each of the parties engaged in it, have been preserved. (fn. 6) It was not intended from the first—probably, by any party—that it should lead to any definite results, much less determine the disputes between the Emperor and the French king. Of the parties engaged in it, each had purposes of his own to serve. it was the object of England to give the Emperor an advantage over his opponent; to gain for him, under the disguise of Wolsey's arbitration, what he could not have gained in his own person by open hostility. A sharp and a short war would have been most conducive to the interests of Francis. He had raised a formidable army; he had taken foreign troops into pay; his successes in Navarre had inspired his officers with confidence; restless spirits, like De la Mark, Fleuranges, Bayard, De Foix and others, were abroad, anxious to signalize their courage by a campaign against the Emperor. Charles, on the other hand, was in want of money and ammunition; Spain was still disquieted by rebellion; the troops under Nassau had been decimated by sickness; England was not only unprepared, but, in prospect of a war with Scotland, must have left its imperial ally to fight singlehanded, or make the best terms he could with his formidable rival. To Francis delay was little better than destruction. It impoverished his finances, ruined his best provinces, dispirited his army, discouraged his friends. Yet he clung with a peevish tenacity to the hope of the neutrality, if not of the friendship, of England. More than half convinced of their fallaciousness, he was willing to be deceived by the Cardinal's promises; and he allowed the congress to drag its slow length along through four most important months, from July to the end of November. More strangely still, he was content to see its proceedings entirely suspended for nearly three weeks in August, whilst Wolsey was closeted with the Emperor at Bruges. Day after day brought him in reality no nearer to the great object of his wishes. The Emperor, unfettered and fully aware of Wolsey's intentions, continued to act on the offensive, as if no mediation had been thought of. In Champagne and in Italy, Francis was daily losing important advantages; his reputation was suffering from the superior activity and success of his rival. Yet he still presumed on the friendship of Wolsey, and believed, or at least professed to believe, in his good offices.
More outspoken or more sagacious, his celebrated sister Marguerite could not forbear expressing her anger at so transparent a deception. After the taking of Arde by Charles, where many Englishmen had joined the imperialists, she said one day to Fitzwilliam, still ambassador at the French court, (fn. 7) "The King (Francis) is now departed towards his journey, and I doubt not by God's help but he shall have good speed, for he goeth upon a good quarrel, and dealeth justly with every prince, and yet all princes go about to deceive him." Fitzwilliam fired up at the insinuation,—for, like other ambassadors, he was kept in the dark as to the King or the Cardinal's secret intentions,—and he answered abruptly, "My master is in the number of all princes, but I trust you think that he goeth not about to deceive him." Marguerite, not to be daunted by his brusquerie, answered abruptly, "See ye not how the Cardinal is ever treating of peace, almost to the day of battle ? Our enemies come still upon us; and Arde, which the King forbore to fortify, at your master's request, Englishmen now have been present at the winning thereof, and helped to raze it. What say ye to that ? And as for trust, that is past. The King will make himself strong, and trust in God." Fitzwilliam replied, "As for the treaty my lord Cardinal hath gone about in the name of my master, Madam, I made request to the King your brother for the same, in the King my master's behalf, afore any war was begun. And at that time the Emperor was content, and the King your brother would not be contented." "And as for the long time of the making of this peace," continued the ambassador, growing every moment more hot and more impatient,—(for, as he says of himself "he was a young man in years, and choleric of complexion")—oblivious also for the time that he was talking to a lady—"there is no man that shall say and prove it, that either my master's or my lord Cardinal's grace drives it on so long, to do the King your brother any displeasure, but only for the good will they have to the tranquillity of all Christendom. And if ye shall speak of any particular person, I think they have taken this pain more for your brother's sake than for any man living; and if there be any man that will say the contrary, I shall prove it as a gentleman, he sayeth untruly. As for Arde, I cannot say whether there were any Englishmen at the razing thereof or not; but I dare say this,—that it was not by the consent nor knowledge of the King's highness nor your grace" (sc. Wolsey, to whom he was writing). Then glancing at the encouragement shown by Francis to Albany, De la Pole, and other English exiles, Fitzwilliam continued, "But there be Englishmen in Flanders as be in France; some banished for murder, some for felony, and some unthrifts that seek ... (fn. 8) and if any were there, I reckon they were such." "And I assured her," he tells the Cardinal, "that the King my master was no dissembler; for there was no man, no, not her brother, nor no other prince living, but and he bare him hardly in hand, that he would be afraid to show it." The candor and honest warmth of Fitzwilliam,—for he spoke in perfect simplicity and good faith,—produced their effect. Marguerite was pacified, and declared her resolution to repose confidence in the King until she saw reason for the contrary, "which once seen she would never trust man after."
This explosion of loyal indignation is amusing. It was owing in some part to the ambassador's suspicion that Marguerite had in this instance been instigated by Louise of Savoy, the profoundest politician and dissembler in the court of her son; "for she stood so nigh she might hear every word." Yet I cannot help thinking that it indicates an uneasy feeling in the mind of the ambassador himself, that after all there might be some truth in the insinuation so derogatory, as he rightly considered, to his master's and the Cardinal's honor. For though Machiavellism,—or rather those practices and those principles which Machiavelli, finding predominant in his own age, embodied into a system,—infected all the courts of Europe, England not excepted, the sense of honor and good faith among individual men happily remained as yet untainted. It was, however, a dangerous ordeal to which the men of this sixteenth century were exposed;—an abyss which few could enter without being scathed and scarred by its impure atmosphere. The poisonous after-growth of a defective morality, too ready to justify the means for the sake of the end, political finesse, like pious frauds, sprung from that root of an evil principle which too often dwarfed and choked the otherwise noble deeds and noble purposes of grand and courageous natures in the Middle Ages. It was the more dangerous because men yielded to its temptation, in the persuasion that they were thereby serving their country or the cause of God, and not themselves. Happily, we have purged the political horizon. No statesman would nowadays condescend to duplicity to please his sovereign; no ambassador would be deceived without resentment into pledging his honor to a falsehood. But it follows not that we are better than they. The practice of some men is better than their theories—God be praised!—and of others it is much worse.
But such practices draw their own Nemesis after them, and so they did in Wolsey's case. How far this deception, successfully practised on the French, contributed afterwards to his fall,—how far it might tend to shake men's confidence in him, their's even who were most to profit by his policy,—I will not stay to inquire. Three months were fast waning; November was at hand, with its stormy weather, ominous of a rough sea and a disagreeable passage. The Cardinal's health, never strong, had suffered at Calais, from the climate, from anxiety, from incessant labor. He was anxious to return; but it was important before he left that he should patch up a truce between the two contending parties. The preparations of Francis alarmed him; (fn. 9) the Emperor's troops and means were insufficient, and disaster would be attended with serious consequences. He was scarcely less afraid of the Emperor's successes than his reverses, for with success he might prove refractory, and refuse England its share of the spoils. (fn. 10) He pressed on Charles the necessity of an armistice; he pressed it on Francis. To the former it was indispensable: the troubles in Spain and Flanders, the sickness of his army, the necessity of making seasonable preparations for a united campaign the next summer (fn. 11) were urgent. To Francis he magnified the losses he had already sustained; the uncertainty of success; the resolution of the Emperor. Both turned a deaf ear to his intreaties. To the French a truce was of no advantage except as a condition of lasting peace. That, of course, neither England nor the Emperor wanted. If Francis would accept a truce for the present, Wolsey offered to lay his head that peace would follow in six months, on whatever conditions he chose to impose. (fn. 12) More cautious and clear-sighted than his master, Du Prat urged him to refuse. He had already begun to suspect the sincerity of "M. le Médiateur," as he termed Wolsey. (fn. 13) Charles, whose interests had been studied by Wolsey throughout, was not only less compliant, but even hinted to his own ambassador that the Cardinal intended to betray him. (fn. 14) At last, worn out with fruitless opposition, the Cardinal wrote to Worcester and others, (fn. 15) "I have been here for my part as sore tempested in mind by the untowardness of the chancellor and orators, on every side, putting so many difficulties and obstacles to condescend to any reasonable conditions of truce and abstinence of war, that night nor day I could have no quietness ne rest, so that almost mine appetite and sleep are sequestrate from me."
Finding all further stay useless, he returned on the 28th of November, and reached Dover in a sailing vessel, (fn. 16) after a stormy passage of fifteen hours.
Whatever might be Wolsey's own disappointment or dissatisfaction at the results of his negociation, he experienced no diminution in the favor of his royal master. The King was delighted. It was enough that Francis had been deceived. The former frank interchange of courtesies between himself and his rival was entirely forgotten. Esteem, if that word be not too emphatic, had been succeeded by personal animosity, not to say antipathy. The change appears so sudden, so unaccountable, that late writers have attributed it to disappointed vanity, and trace it as far back as the interview at the Field of the Cloth of Gold. Fleuranges, who was present on that occasion, has preserved an anecdote, which some have deemed sufficient to account for Henry's bitterness. One day, after the jousts were ended, the wrestlers of France and England advanced to the front, and displayed their skill before the King and the ladies;—a beautiful pastime, he remarks, for there were many strong wrestlers present; (fn. 17) and because the king of France had not brought any wrestlers from Brittany, the English carried off the prize. They next proceeded to drawing the bow, in which the king of England took part, for he was a marvellous good archer and a strong; and it was very pleasant to see him. These amusements ended, the kings of France and England retired to their tent, where they drank together. This done, the king of England took the king of France by the collar, saying, "Come, my brother, let us try a fall." After one or two feints, the king of France, who was an expert wrestler, tripped up the heels of his brother of England, and gave him a marvellous somerset. Henry on rising would have tried another round; but was interrupted, and all were summoned to supper. (fn. 18)
If the tale be true—though Fleuranges is not a trustworthy authority—such defeats as this must have been far too common in those frequent displays of personal prowess, to which that age was addicted, to entail disgrace, or to cause such a lasting resentment. The rivalry of the two monarchs sprung from more natural and more adequate causes. There never had been any real cordiality between them, not even at the interview; and every circumstance since then had tended to augment his dislike of the French monarch, and strengthen his determination of recovering what, in common with most of his subjects, he regarded as his ancient patrimony and "righteous inheritance." (fn. 19) He had consequently gone heart and hand with Wolsey in all that he had done at the late conference. Every stroke of policy, purchased as it might be, at the cost of sincerity and honorable dealing, was regarded by him as a just advantage. It was not merely that Wolsey by his great ability and successful intrigues had secured an imperial son-in-law for the hand of the princess Mary,—had concluded the match at the smallest possible cost,—had exacted an indemnity against all pecuniary losses incurred by a rupture with France:— more than all, he had paved the way for the conquest of France itself, and already in his imagination the King beheld himself entering the gates of Paris at the head of a victorious army. He commanded Pace to express to Wolsey how much the King was satisfied with his conduct. He had, he said, shown as great regard to his honor and surety as he himself could have by any manner of study devised. "He thanked God," he added, "that he had such a chaplain, by whose wisdom, fidelity, and labor he could obtain greater acquisitions than all his progenitors were able to accomplish with all their numerous wars and battles." (fn. 20) A few days after he commanded Pace to write again, and convey to the Cardinal the King's "most hearty thanks for the great pains and labors sustained (by him) in the bringing of his said affairs to such conclusion and end, as most redoundeth to his honor and surety, saying that everything in effect is finished according to his own desire." (fn. 21)
During Wolsey's absence at Calais the rich abbey of St. Alban's had fallen vacant by the death of abbot Ramrige,—a personage only known to history as having stood sponsor to the eldest daughter of the duke of Suffolk and of Mary the French queen. (fn. 22) Although one of the most ancient and opulent of the religious foundations in England, the abbey had fallen into great decay, partly in consequence of the civil wars of the last century, partly from the age and infirmities of the last abbot, whose investiture carries us back to 1492. When the monks appeared before the King at Windsor, on the 12th of November, to request his letters patent for a new election, he made them a speech, the substance of which, for "its princely and godly motion," Pace, who was present, thought it worth while to repeat to the Cardinal next day. (fn. 23) As he was penning his letter, he received a communication from Wolsey "touching the monastery of St. Alban's." "And," continues Pace in a postscript, after I had perused and diligently debated with myself the contents of the same, I went straight to the King's grace with your Grace's letters to him directed in the same matter. And I found him ready to go out a shooting. And yet, that notwithstanding, his Grace received from me the said letters, and, as it chanced happily, commanded me to go down with him by his secret way into the park; whereby I had as good commodity as I could desire to advance your Grace's petition, as much as the case required. And the King read your Grace's letters himself, and made me privy to the contents of the same. And the few words that his Highness spoke to me in this cause were these: 'By God, my lord Cardinal hath sustained many charges in this his voyage, and expended 10,000l.' Which [I] did affirm and show his Grace of good congruence he oweth unto you some recompence. Whereunto his Grace answered, that he would rather give unto your Grace the abbey of St. Alban's than to any monk."
He had not returned many days when the unexpected intelligence arrived of the death of Leo. X. "Eight days past," says Clerk, the English ambassador at Rome, writing to Wolsey of the occurrence, (fn. 24) "what time tidings came of the winning of Milan, his Holiness was forth a sporting, at a place of his own, called Manlian, six miles out of Rome; and the selfsame day coming home to Rome took cold; and the next day fell in a fever, which was his death. At his coming home from Manlian, I met his Holiness, and methought I never saw him more lusty." The day before Clerk had written to Wolsey to tell him "the Pope's holiness hath been sick these six days, and this night passed had a very sore night, insomuch that his Holiness's physicians thought he should not a' scaped till day. It is noised that his Holiness had rest this day; howbeit there be not many that can tell that, for there cometh very few at him. I am credibly informed that his Holiness is in very great danger." (fn. 25) Rumor was busy, as usual, in assigning all sorts of sinister interpretations to the rapidity of his illness and the fatality of its termination. "He had eaten or drunk something he should not," said the Spanish ambassador; more familiar with poisons than the homely Englishman. The Italians, expert manipulators of deadly potions, laid the fault, as usual, on the Pope's physicians. It was insinuated that they had flattered him with life, and either cared not to prolong it, or abridged it by their drugs. When the body was opened the heart was covered with dark, livid spots, and the spleen was wasted. His attendant, who had handed him a draught of wine at supper-time the day before he expired, was thrown into prison; for it was remembered that immediately after drinking it, the Pope had complained of its bitterness. Strong suspicions of his guilt were not wanting to the credulous:—the same man, early the next morning after the death of the Pope, had been descried by the Papal guards, going out with his hunting dogs at the gate of the Vatican. Others reported that the Pope had died of poison taken in pills of bitter aloe; a medicine he had been using during the week. Ciacconi, after duly chronicling all this "skimble-skamble stuff," descends at last to the firm standing ground of common sense: the Pope, he observes, died of an obstinate fistula, aggravated by a sudden return from his villa to Rome, just then more than usually unhealthy, from the malaria brought up by a relaxing south-west wind from the Pontine Marshes. This was cause enough for the rapid illness and death of a Pope who was never over cautious or temperate in his diet. (fn. 26)
Clerk's account is probably the true one. Inclined to sensual indulgences, and subject to fits of illness, Leo had experienced one of his old attacks about the 24th of November, when the tidings reached him of the taking of Milan, and the total defeat of the French by the combined papal and imperial troops. The result of that victory was to wrest from the hands of his mortal and most formidable enemy—"the griesliest nightmare of the Church's dream"—Milan, Pavia, Parma, Piacenza, Cremona, "and in a manner all the duchy of Milan except two or three strongholds." (fn. 27) No victory so signal, or so complete, had fallen to the lot of any Pope, since the memory of man. By it, the cause of the French and their adherents in Italy had become hopeless. For it, Leo had long been straining every nerve; he had patiently endured all sorts of indignities; he had eluded by policy what he could not control by open resistance. In addition to the regular papal forces, his treasures had been exhausted by keeping in pay a large body of Swiss mercenaries. Slowly, laboriously, his designs, liable to be scattered by any sudden blast, had grown and ripened. With feverish impatience and trembling anxiety he, the cautious pontiff, watched the long and dreary conference at Calais. At times he had firmly persuaded himself that Wolsey, proud of displaying his unlimited influence, would reconcile the French king and the Emperor; and then all the hopes which Leo had conceived of neutralizing one power by the other, or of employing the Emperor's resentment as an instrument for driving the French out of Italy, would have been scattered to the winds. He fretted under the indignities to which he had been exposed. To determine questions of heresy was the peculiar privilege of the Holy See; yet the Emperor, instead of sending Luther to Rome, had established the dangerous precedent, and been guilty of the unpardonable usurpation, of conventing Luther before himself. What could be more disastrous to the best interests of the Church than that the chosen champion of Western Christendom should thus permit himself to be led astray, and hearken to evil counsels ? It had ever been the incommunicable privilege of the Holy See to compose the dissensions of temporal potentates; to interpose in their quarrels; to rally them round the throne of St. Peter; to appoint them their several tasks as champions of the faith "once for all delivered to the Saints." But greater than popes, more imperious, more influential, more independent than any pope had been for centuries, here was a cardinal, a creature of Leo's own creation, in a remote corner of Europe, dictating, mediating, and arranging; treating crowned heads and papal nuncios with imperiousness that never faltered, paying no more regard to the Pope's wishes and opinions in these or any other matters, than if he had been a parish priest or a Dominican friar! Worse than all,—throughout the conference, Wolsey had shown no deference to that supremacy, which, more than any, he was helping to subvert. What could a pope—"a poor blind man,"—do in these fierce controversies ? They were no longer to be settled by texts of Scripture or citations from the Canon law. They demanded political skill and experience; tact, to be acquired only by those who, like Wolsey, held in their own hands the strings of all state intelligence, knew to a fraction the number and strength of every army and navy in Europe, the designs of every monarch whose designs were worth knowing,—their movements, their finances, their debts, their difficulties and their temptations.
But in truth Leo, never wanting in penetration, must have felt that the Papacy was fast sinking into a conventional position most dangerous to all institutions;—that men were ceasing to regard it as the chosen guardian and representative of sacred truths essential to their welfare, and learning to tolerate it as a de- corous and agreeable appendage to the political and social necessities of Christendom,—as a centre round which it was convenient for that system to revolve, not a pivot essential to its existence;—an emblem of respectability, good if it could be had, not by any means indispensible if it could not. So long as kings, or cardinals, or prime ministers preserved a show of respect for the Holy See, they were acquitted in their own consciences, and in those of others, of any secret insult or open violence they might offer it. Late events had contributed more than ever to eclipse the Papacy in the estimation of mankind, and Leo was powerless to prevent them.
Now, in an auspicious moment, by a sudden and unexpected turn of good fortune, his aspirations had been realized;—the expulsion of the French from the North of Italy was accomplished, and all who had espoused the French cause shared its humiliation. The result, so long delayed, so much desired, so fickle and so fugitive, was at last within his grasp. At his Manlian villa he received the intelligence of the triumphant entry of his troops into Milan. All the French—so ran the news—had either been made prisoners, or had taken to flight. In the moment of exultation he declared that he had never experienced greater joy in his life; even the news of his elevation to the papacy had not been half so welcome. He beheld in imagination his enemies prostrate at his feet; his friends enriched with the spoils distributed with his own hands. The feux de joye of the Swiss, the acclamations of the crowd, rent the air. Restless and excited groups hurried to and fro in the delirium of the hour. Regardless of his strength and failing health,—for he was corpulent and troubled by an obstinate internal complaint,—late into the night the Pope paced backwards and forwards at the open windows of his apartment, heated by the tumult, kindling with the excitement of all around him. Seven days after, his schemes and his hopes had died with him. "Every man here," says Clerk, writing upon the occasion to Wolsey, "beginneth to shift for himself, because of such garboyle and business as out of all order is like to be committed here in this city until such time as we be provided of another Pope. I beseech Almighty God send us one to His pleasure." With such frosty expressions of their sorrow, men resigned themselves to their loss, and turned their thoughts towards Leo's successor.
Nothing at that moment could have been more inopportune for French influence in Italy than the loss of Milan. The Emperor was predominant at Rome. Resolved to improve the occasion, Don Manuel, the Spanish ambassador, wrote at once to Naples, ordering the Neapolitan troops to be ready for marching. Such was the way in which the freedom of election, whether of Popes or Emperors, was secured in those days. Before the news of Leo's death could be widely known, the Spaniard had taken the precaution to fill his house at Rome with soldiers. Followed by his attendants armed with swords, he visited the different cardinals. He made solemn speeches and tedious visits; he assured the cardinals that the Emperor was the natural protector of the Church and the watchful guardian of their interests. The cardinals reciprocated his courtesy: they listened respectfully to his arguments; thronged his ante-room; requested to be favored with the names of the imperial candidates. He gave them the names of a dozen—all good imperialists. For any one included in the list they might vote and welcome; travel beyond it, they must expect the Emperor's displeasure. Why say more ? In that list any one who is at all acquainted with the sentiments of Don Manuel will be quite certain that the name of Wolsey was not found.
Leo died on the 2nd of December, yet Campeggio, hitherto loudest in his professions of unalterable attachment, did not find it necessary to apprize Wolsey of the fact until thirteen days after. Then he wrote to say that there would be many candidates for the Papacy, and a full attendance of cardinals. To the chance of Wolsey being added to the number of prospective popes, Campeggio made no allusion. The list was large enough already; too large for Campeggio's hopes or wishes. (fn. 28) "In most cases," wrote Don Manuel to the Emperor, two or three cardinals endeavor to obtain the election; now all aspire to it." The news must have been generally known in Western Europe within a fortnight after Leo's decease. It was certainly known to the Emperor before the 15th of December. On that day Margaret of Savoy sent the news from Oudenarde to Wolsey, adding that, if he desired it, she would gladly write to the Emperor in his behalf. She was generous enough to add that she thought she should be doing a kindness to her nephew by assisting in Wolsey's promotion. (fn. 29) As Charles also wrote on the same day, from the same place, it will be thought that, had she been sincere in her professions, she would have taken time by the forelock, and consulted with the Emperor at once (fn. 30) Charles, in his letter, (fn. 31) avoids all allusion to the Papacy. But the day after he wrote to the bishop of Elna, his ambassador in England, instructing him to inform the Cardinal and his royal master of Leo's decease. "You shall say," he continues, "to Mons. the Legate, that as we always keep his advancement and exaltation in our good remembrance, and retain a faithful memory of the promise we made to him at Bruges touching the Papacy, in conformity therewith and for the accomplishment of the same, we are resolved to assist him to the best of our power, both in this affair and in all others which may concern him. You shall, therefore, request him to be good enough to let us know his wishes, and what are his inclinations that way; and we will exert ourselves very willingly in his behalf, and spare no pains. However, we are of opinion that the affair will not soon be settled, and he has already a very good chance of success. Had we been much nearer Italy than we are, and as we should have liked to have been, we could then have shown him more effectually what we would have done for him." In the end he charged his ambassador to employ all his dexterity in this matter, in order to gain the Cardinal's good will; for he made no doubt that Francis would assail Wolsey with all sorts of fair offers, though it is notorious, he says, that the French king can render him no effectual assistance.
Nothing could apparently be more cordial, or more condescending; and so gracious an intimation lost nothing in its transmission through the bishop of Elna. At that conjuncture it was more than ever necessary for Charles to secure the good offices of the Cardinal. He was in great distress; he had no means to prosecute the war against France. The advantages he had lately acquired in the North of Italy were in danger of being lost by his inability to follow up his conquests. In short, he wanted a new loan from England of 200,000 ducats, and a body of 3,000 foot,—such was the phrase; in other words, the pay of 3,000 footmen, besides the ducats already demanded. These troops were to be raised by the Emperor and the lady Margaret, and employed at their discretion. (fn. 32)
And what, it will be asked, were Wolsey's feelings at this event ? They who have been accustomed to judge of him by popular traditions will be ready with an answer. They will entertain no doubt that as personal aggrandizement was the ruling motive of his actions, the Papacy must have offered him irresistible attractions. Happily we know the thoughts of those who had the best opportunities of observing him, and the least inclination to flatter him. They are recorded in the following extract from the Spanish ambassador's despatch to the Emperor. (fn. 33)
* * * "On the 16th day of this month, after dining at Richmond, where the King and the Cardinal were present, the Cardinal informed me that he had received letters from the king of France, the originals of which he showed me; and the contents of which I will hereafter submit to your Majesty. He told us, besides, that he had received a letter from the English ambassador in France, (fn. 34) informing him of the death of the Pope, and that cardinals Sion and De Medici had left the camp and gone to Rome; that the army of your Majesty and of the Pope had been broken up, and the affairs of the French in Italy had returned to their former channel. All this the said ambassador had written to him on the information of the king of France. The king of England is troubled at the news beyond measure, and is in a great state of alarm. Two things, he says, must be provided for with the utmost speed: 1st, that no harm befall the kingdom of Naples * * 2ndly, that due provision be made for the election of such a Pope as is devoted to your Majesty and the king of England; and he must be one on whom you can both rely for advancing your interests. For success in these two points the King and the Cardinal consider that the integrality of your Majesty's army in Italy is of great importance, both for the defence of the said kingdom and for securing the election.
"As to the person to be chosen for the Papacy, the King is fully inclined and resolved in favor of the most reverend cardinal of York. He is desirous, more than I can express, that your Majesty should concur in this opinion; and in order that it may take effect he will employ his power to the utmost, and will omit nothing that may conduce to that end. For this reason he has resolved to send a person (Pace) to Rome, with letters (the tenor of which I will explain hereafter) to induce and persuade the cardinals to give their votes to the cardinal of York, and condescend to the election of the same.
"But as the king of England most constantly affirms that he does not intend to attempt anything without the knowledge and advice of your Majesty, with whom he is united in fortune and affection, he does not propose to send his ambassador to Rome, in the first instance, but to your Majesty, to take your advice upon his instructions, and follow yellow your directions."
The ambassador then proceeds to say that as in the conduct of this negociation great caution would be required, and in the event of Wolsey not being elected it would be desirable that the choice should fall on Cardinal Medici, the King had prepared two letters,—one to be used in favor of Wolsey, the other in favor of De Medici, if Wolsey's advancement proved hopeless. He had also requested the Emperor to write letters of a similar tenor, and give the necessary instructions to Don Manuel, his ambassador at Rome, to carry out their wishes. To show how much the King was bent on securing the Papacy for Wolsey, the ambassador informed his master that Henry had resolved to send his own secretary, Richard Pace, "as if," to use his own expression, "he sent his very heart." As Pace, he adds, is in great favor with the Venetians, it is thought that he will be of great use in detaching them from the French. "The secretary," he adds, "has accepted this task, as he hopes he can be of service to your Majesty; and I dare assure your Majesty that, unless I am mistaken in the man, there is no better imperialist. I think, besides, that if the most reverend cardinal of York, by obtaining the Papacy, or by any other cause, should not continue much longer about the King's person, Pace will attain the highest post with his master. I wished to explain all this, that your Majesty might understand what kind of a man you have to deal with, and be ruled accordingly."
The ambassador then details his conversation on this occasion with Wolsey. "He assured the King (he says) in my presence, with the most solemn oaths and protestations, that he had no intention to accept this election, unless his master and your Majesty should consider that in so doing he could best promote the welfare and honor of both of you. If it appeared to your Majesties that he was a person who could be serviceable to you, and one in whom both of you might repose confidence, he would not shrink from any labor; asseverating that the chief benefit and emolument he expected to reap from this honor was to contribute to your Majesties' exaltation.—Here the King solemnly protested on his royal word that you might trust the Cardinal implicitly. (fn. 35)—And so (continued he) your Majesties, like father and son, shall dispose of that see, its authority and power, as if they were your own, and give laws to the rest of the world !"
"To tell you my own opinion," adds the ambassador in confidence, "I do not believe that the most reverend Cardinal has any great expectation of succeeding, although he does not entirely despair. But he evidently contemplates two results: one is, that he will be able to ascertain your Majesty's real sentiments in this matter, how far your Majesty is to be trusted in case of need, and what faith he may repose in your promises; seeing that De la Roche and I, last year, promised him your Majesty's support at this election; an offer he refused at the time, but now he reminds us of it. In the other case, if, with your Majesty's active co-operation, success should prove impossible on this occasion, he will be enabled to put matters in a good train for the next opportunity. I speak this as of myself, and it is my own inference only; not but what I have said has some foundation in words he has casually dropped. I doubt not but that, if the Cardinal were fully satisfied that your Majesty would really favor him, he would use his power to the utmost with the King in furthering your Majesty's interests, inasmuch as even now he is most zealous in fostering and encouraging his master's affection for you, and in exciting his indignation against the French; so that whatever a Frenchman writes is considered no better than falsehood. * * * London, 19 Dec. 1521." (fn. 36)
Charles was in some perplexity. The writer had warned him that if he had determined on the election of any other candidate than Wolsey, the greatest caution and dexterity would be needed to avoid the resentment and blind the suspicions of the Cardinal. (fn. 37) Had he be- lieved that his imperial master was sincere in proffering his services to Wolsey on this occasion, or that he had not in fact already decided on some other candidate, this warning and the general tenor of his despatch would have been out of place. Nor, indeed, could any one who reflected a little on the subject entertain much doubt on that head. Was it probable that, if Charles could influence the election, he would be so blind to his own interests as to raise an English cardinal to the papal throne instead of a staunch Imperialist,—or prefer an uncertain and imperious friend to a humble and responsible subject? Against such a temptation his most solemn promise was worth nothing; nor would he have permitted it to stand in the way of his own interests for a moment. To make promises and to break them as easily, to incur the most solemn obligations without any serious intent of fulfilling them, was no unusual thing with the Emperor. At that very moment, when he had bound himself by a much more sacred vow to marry the princess Mary, he was meditating a breach of it, and dictating instructions to De la Sauch, whom he was sending to the king of Portugal to explain away his obligations to the English princess. Was a promise to a Cardinal, whom he always suspected and sometimes hated, likely to be more binding on the Emperor's conscience? Neither at this nor at any other time had he any serious intention of promoting Wolsey to the Papacy. Notwithstanding all his professions of zeal and sincerity, it is questionable whether he ever wrote to his ambassador at Rome in favor of Wolsey; if he did, no notice of such a letter is to be found in Don Manuel's despatches—and they are not scanty—nor did the imperial ambassador exert his influence in Wolsey's behalf. (fn. 38) He had arranged his tactics already, and had given the Emperor due notice of his movements.
On the 24th the bishop of Elna wrote again to the Emperor, describing a second interview he had had with the Cardinal. The Bishop had assured Wolsey that his master would employ all his influence to promote his election, and could only have wished to have been nearer Italy for the welfare of the Cardinal and the good of Christendom. "He heard all I had to say," continues the Bishop, "attentively, and received it gratefully; and he thanked your Majesty with such professions of humility as if he had been elected Pope already through your instrumentality. Perceiving that your Majesty had not forgotten your promise at Bruges, he was in great hopes of success, and began to repeat to me Pace's commission, of which I wrote to you by the last post, adding one thing at which I was greatly astonished; and, however strange it may seem, I will repeat it to your Majesty. He said that, to secure the election, which he desired for no earthly reason except for the King's exaltation and yours, it would be very important that your Majesty's army now in Italy should advance to Rome; and then, if, after liberal monition and offers, the cardinals continued refractory, they should be compelled to elect him by force, in order that the French faction might be excluded, and Naples and Sicily be saved." He added, that if 100,000 ducats were required to accomplish this object, Wolsey had told him they would be forthcoming,— that the king of France reckoned on having twenty-two cardinals at his disposal;—"from which I inferred," says the Bishop, "that the king of France had made him an offer of his votes and his assistance."
Whether Wolsey was serious in this extraordinary proposal, so much at variance with the popular notions of the freedom of papal elections, or whether he urged it as a touchstone of the Emperor's sincerity, my readers must decide for themselves. If he spoke seriously, the reckless sincerity with which he expressed his disregard for the conclave, and his total disbelief in its independence, are remarkable. The Pope as a temporal sovereign had ceased, in Wolsey's estimation, to be more than an instrument for securing certain political advantages. But, as the Head of the Church, his authority was still paramount in spiritual matters. He would have been shocked, as much as any of his contemporaries, at the propagation of opinions derogatory to the Pope's ecclesiastical supremacy, had such acts of insubordination been prominently brought before his notice. But he had seldom been accustomed to regard the Papacy in that light. Immersed in politics, and engrossed by diplomacy, it was only the political side of the papal orbit which presented itself to Wolsey's vision. To him the Pope was little better than a temporal ruler,—a unit, by no means the most important, in those combinations of which the chief factors were the King, the Emperor and their formidable rival. The temporal co-operation of the Pope was to be secured like that of any other temporal power; freely, if possible,—if not, by force. Doubtless Wolsey would have made little scruple of handling his cardinal brothers as roughly and unceremoniously as he proposed. How could he re- spect those of whose venality he had such overwhelming evidence? Was dictation backed by arms more culpable than intrigues supported by bribery? And though the bishop of Elna professed to be shocked at his disregard of the conventional independence of the conclave, he forgot that only a minute before he had expressed his master's regret for being no nearer Italy, that he might have personally interposed his authority with the cardinals, and have coerced the electors according to his wishes. He was ignorant, perhaps, at the date of his astonishment, that the Neapolitan army had already received orders to march, if the conclave proved refractory, and that Civita Vecchia was filled with armed Neapolitan galleys watching the course of the election. Though Wolsey was not the only person who thought that cardinals could be bribed or intimidated, he was the only person who had the honesty and the boldness to avow it.
The cardinals should have entered the conclave on the 18th of December, but the time was delayed until the cardinal of Ivrea, who had been taken prisoner on his journey from Savoy, had regained his liberty. In the interval Rome became the prey of every intriguer. By the death of the Pope not only the Church lost its spiritual head, but the States of the Church their temporal ruler. The conclave was divided into two factions, headed by cardinal Colonna and cardinal De Medici. So obstinate was the strife, the parties so equally balanced, that there seemed little probability of any accommodation between them. Out of forty-nine or fifty cardinals De Medici counted on fifteen (fn. 39) votes; with the rest he was ex- tremely unpopular, for his power was dreaded, and his unlimited influence over the late Pope was remembered with some resentment. Next to the Colonnas, the Soderini, of whom the cardinal of Volterra was both the most eminent and the most acrimonious, signalized themselves by their animosity against De Medici. "This Cardinal," says Clerk, speaking of Volterra, "is a stout man and a wise, and a well spoken, and a man of good authority and reputation here in this court; and now at his coming, perceiving a great number of these cardinals sore bent to make the cardinal De Medici Pope, first did severally solicit each of them to the contrary, declaring against the said Cardinal that if he should be Pope, that should mar their reckoning to have no new Pope, for he had been Pope now a long season; and now that they have had good experience what manner a man he is; with many evil words of the Cardinal's bastardy, tyranny, and how that he had already undone the Church." (fn. 40)
De Medici, it was clear, could not succeed. It was equally clear that no other candidate could be elected without his consent. This gave Clerk, the English ambassador at Rome, on one side, and Don Manuel on the other, an opportunity of interesting De Medici in behalf of their respective candidates; but either Don Manuel was the better diplomatist, or the offers he made were more tempting. Clerk did his best to insinuate the great merits of Wolsey, and obtain from De Medici some hint of encouragement and support. But the wily Italian pretended not to understand, and turned a deaf ear to his intimations. He tried his hand with Colonna. "Sir," said Clerk, (fn. 41) "I do perceive that you be thus right well minded towards cardinal De Medici, that at the least wise you would be contented to do for any friend of his, so that the person had qualities thereafter. May I be so bold as to axe of you what friend of the cardinal De Medici's, being qualified, is there in this college upon whom you may find in your heart to bestow your favour?" "He answered me," says Clerk, "that there were divers aged men, and each of them were very meet for the room;" and he concluded by saying that he would so endeavor to control the election "that he might come to this feast and marriage once again;" whereas, if they were to elect a young man, the Pope might survive them all.
To discover his intentions Clerk proposed cardinal Campeggio. Colonna made no open objection, but bade him consult with De Medici. Returning to De Medici, Clerk exhorted him not to be too precise in standing out for one of his own nominees, as Colonna was resolved to oppose him; "seeing that I knew right well that there were other persons right well qualified, in whom he might as well trust as in any man;"—of course meaning Wolsey. Campeggio's name was only a stalking-horse;—no one was more distasteful to De Medici.
The disorders rapidly increased in the States of the Church, and the election could be delayed no longer. On Friday, St. John's Day, the 27th of December, the cardinals entered the conclave. Some little difficulty was raised at first as to the place and its guardianship. Volterra complained that armed gallies of the Imperialists had filled the harbor of Civita Vecchia, and that 500 of the late Pope's Swiss guard had been stationed in the Palace where De Medici lodged, eager to advance his claims out of love to their late master. (fn. 42) The danger apprehended from the Swiss was neutralized by raising a thousand foot, and committing the custody of the conclave to the combined troops. The cardinals assembled in the forenoon at the Basilica of St. Peter, in the chapel of Sixtus IV. Mass was sung by Colonna; after a Latin sermon they proceeded, thirty-nine in number, to the conclave, singing in procession Veni Creator. Here each took possession of his cell. These cells, sixteen feet long by ten feet broad, were arranged in a chapel in the Pope's palace. This done, each went to dinner where his fancy led him. Two hours before nightfall, the whole body met again in a chapel within the conclave, and after the bull of pope Julius against simoniacal practices had been read, every cardinal, in the presence of the foreign ambassadors, took his corporal oath upon the Holy Evangelists to observe the bull to the best of his abilities. The ambassadors and others were then summoned to their posts. Of the wards, which were three in number, the outmost was held by the Roman lords and nobility; the second or middle ward, by the ambassadors; the third, nearest the assembled cardinals, was committed to the charge of certain prelates, who had likewise in their keeping the keys of the conclave.
Of the number of the ambassadors thus engaged, and who took up their residence for the time in the palace, were those of Hungary, Portugal and England; among them Clerk, to whom we are indebted for these curious particulars. Don Manuel, the Spanish ambassador, was not present. Clerk assigns advanced age as a reason for his absence. A better excuse is extant under his own hand. He had already caused offence by personally canvassing the electors, and was therefore given to understand that his presence would be construed into an infraction of the freedom of the conclave. Besides, his market was already made, and he was not solicitous to avail himself of a privilege more onerous than useful. Ascanio Colonna, the bishop of Algieri, and Enkenvoert, zealous imperialists, were his active and efficient substitutes.
Outside the walls of the conclave all was restlessness and intense anxiety to catch, if possible, the faintest hint of the proceedings within. Every plausible rumor, however false, was eagerly caught up, and spread like wild-fire through an excited populace, whose sole occupation from daybreak to night was to assemble about the doors of the palace, and speculate on the chances of the election. Friends, partizans and relatives of expectant popes,—now elated, now dejected, as their hopes rose and fell by some vain report,—pressed to the gates or scanned the windows, watching for some sign from those within of the coming decision. Not less interested, but for very different motives, idle multitudes stood on tip-toe to catch the name of the favorite cardinal, that, according to usage, they might anticipate their fellows in plundering his house and ransacking his property,—an offence tolerated and overlooked in the general joy and licence of the election. The crowd swayed hither and thither. The creaking of a door on its hinges, or the opening of a window, shot through the mass like a spark of electricity. A large body of troops stationed in front of the palace protected the conclave and kept the excited multitude at bay, which otherwise would have stormed the palace, and dispersed the affrighted cardinals.
Within all was silence. No noise of their proceedings could pierce the triple fold of prelates, ambassadors, "lords and barons," who kept guard in the three wards with jealous ears and watchful eyes. No letters or tokens were allowed to pass; meats, pots and platters,—all things, in short, by which intelligence could either be conveyed or indicated,—were diligently scrutinized. By an ingenious contrivance, the food of the assembled cardinals was delivered "at a round turning wheel made in the wall," preventing all personal intercourse with those outside. The very offals—happily it was winter—were placed under the same rigid interdict. Once passed the gates, the broken fragments remained, or had to be disposed of by those within, as best they could. To add to their discomfort,—for without some pressure the reluctance of the cardinals to arrive at any decision, where one only could enjoy the prize, would never have been terminated,—their dishes after a few days were restricted to one kind of meat, with the prospect of further diminution if they failed to agree within a reasonable time. To some of the cardinals who were sickly, to others who were advanced in years, such privations were intolerable; to all the strict confinement was a severe trial, from which they were glad to escape, even at the chance of sacrificing their ambition. None but the stoutest and most resolute could endure so rigid a restraint without discomfort. From day to day the conclave met to go through, without success, the same round of intrigues, the same disputes, combinations, opposition, voting and revoting, weariness at last producing that unanimity which reason and persuasion failed to effect. Of this one cardinal at least was well aware, and had taken his measures accordingly.
The first was night passed in comparative quiet. Next day, in spite of all precautions, rumors were afloat that watchwords and tokens had passed from those within, indicating that cardinal De Medici had no chance of the election. On the third day three cardinals requested, in the name of the College, to have the doors of the conclave opened, "that they might avoid such filthiness as they had there within of the fragments of meat and drink; the savor whereof, they said, was so great that they could not abide it." (fn. 43) The ambassadors and others in charge called a meeting to consider this important proposal; but concluded on refusing it, leaving the cardinals to find their own remedy. On Thursday the 2d of January, (fn. 44) and the sixth day of the conclave, their food was diminished, and every one had to make his choice whether he would henceforth have boiled meat or roast; "after which," says Clerk, "they shall get no more." Two days before, cardinal Grimani, who had come post from Venice to take part in the election, was carried out almost dead from the conclave. One of cardinal Farnese's servants, in the bustle, took the opportunity of calling to "one of his company, and said to him that he should bring a bigger pot of his master's wine in the morning, for the cardinals liked much that wine everich of them."
The words were caught up immediately, and interpreted as a secret watchword between Farnese and his friends, of his success at the election. Farnese was a Roman, of ancient descent and noble connexions. He was, besides, one of the most wealthy and influential of the cardinals, and before entering the conclave was considered by all parties as not unlikely to succeed to the papal chair. But though a man of great learning, and no inconsiderable abilities, he was haughty and choleric, and inclined to covetousness. Unfortunately also for his advancement, he had formerly espoused the cause of the French; and though he had now abandoned their interests, and professed neutrality, his professions were not considered sincere. His name was inserted last on the list arranged by Don Manuel and cardinal De Medici. The former had even gone so far as to exact a promise from Farnese, that, in the event of his becoming Pope, he should give security for his good and faithful behavior to the Emperor, by sending one of his sons as a hostage to Naples.
When Farnese had twelve votes cardinal St. Quatuor, his adherent, cried aloud, Papam habemus. He was joined by De Medici, Campeggio and five imperialists; others followed their example. But the quick eye of his enemy Colonna, casting a rapid glance over his supporters, detected the manœuvre. Seeing his partizans remain firm, he told his opponents with a loud voice that they were bad arithmeticians, and had made a false reckoning. His assertion was confirmed on a scrutiny; Farnese was baulked of his chance; from that day his fortunes declined, and he never again obtained the same number of voices. But Farnese had to pay dearly for this momentary vision of a papal tiara; for upon the bruit of his election his house was ransacked by the populace. He was famous for his architectural taste, and his magnificent palace in Rome would have shared the same fate had it not been defended by a body of troops and seven or eight great pieces of artillery.
Hitherto Farnese, Fiesco, and the bishop of Ostia, a Spaniard, had been the favorites. At no time had De Medici obtained more than six votes. Now Colonna was put into nomination. The battle raged between the two rivals with undiminished violence and obstinacy. The Romans grew impatient; doubts were entertained whether the conclave would ever come to any determination. Their food was then further diminished with prospect of greater severities.
Up to this time little notice had been taken of absent cardinals. On one occasion only had the cardinal of Tortosa been proposed, and received eight votes; and about the same time seven votes were given to Wolsey. Too clever a diplomatist to waste his efforts, De Medici reserved his strength whilst the contention was raging at the highest. According to Clerk, (fn. 45)—whose testimony is of great weight whenever he speaks from personal observation,—after the defeat of Farnese, Wolsey was proposed, and had in the first scrutiny nine, in the second twelve, in the third nineteen votes. But if the ordinary accounts of the conclave are to be trusted, Wolsey was put forward on one occasion only, and then received only seven votes. And this is more probable; for Campeggio, who had no object in depreciating his own services, tells Wolsey, in a letter written when the election was over, (fn. 46) amidst the confusion of people bursting into the conclave, that he had concerted measures with De Medici in his favor; and he adds that Wolsey had as many as eight or nine votes at every scrutiny. In another letter, (fn. 47) written the day before, he assures Wolsey that he was often proposed and was readily supported; but that the cardinals feared Wolsey's youth, in spite of Campeggio's assertion that he was nearer sixty than fifty. It was not reasonable to expect more; nor is it probable that Campeggio or De Medici, both candidates for the papal throne, would have heartily supported the claims of Wolsey. Wolsey himself could not have anticipated success. We have Clerk's assurance that he would have stirred earlier, and with greater effect, had the King and the Cardinal's pleasure been made known to him sooner; "but at my departing" (he says) "your Grace showed me precisely that ye would never meddle therewith." Too cautious to express all that he thought, he knew well the real cause of his failure; and that was, in his own words, that Wolsey "favored not all the best the Emperor."
But if Clerk exaggerated the number of votes obtained by Wolsey in the conclave, he was confirmed in his mistake by that great adept in dissimulation, cardinal Medici, afterwards Clement VII. De Medici assured Pace, on his arrival at Florence, (fn. 48) that in every scrutiny in the conclave he gave his vote for Wolsey, and caused seventeen or eighteen of his friends to do the same. The statement agrees with Clerk's assertion, but, like his, is inconsistent with Campeggio's letters, and the official accounts. (fn. 49) The facts of the case are now for the first time clearly ascertained, and the additional evidence lately discovered helps us to dissipate the obscurity which has hitherto hung over these events, and divided the opinions of historians. On the 24th of December, three days before the conclave assembled, Don Manuel had informed the Emperor that he had made an arrangement with De Medici that in the event of his election proving unsuccessful, he should give his own vote and the votes of his supporters to the candidate to be nominated by the Spaniard. Four days after he wrote again to the Emperor to say, that, in the event of the choice not falling on De Medici or any other cardinal present in the conclave, he had proposed Tortosa as the imperial candidate. Tortosa was named by the friends of De Medici, and had fifteen votes; afterwards twenty-two; on the eleventh scrutiny twenty-six; and then, by the concurrence of both parties, the requisite number, to the astonishment of all, and the disappointment of many.
The election had lasted fourteen days, and was concluded on the 9th of January 1522. According to Campeggio's assertion, in his letter to Wolsey, (fn. 50) the cardinals had been entirely influenced in their choice by Tortosa's integrity, for few had ever seen him. Others affirmed that the result could only have been brought about by the direct inspiration of the Holy Ghost. The Roman populace were less pious and less complaisant. On leaving the conclave, the cardinals were greeted with screams, whistling, and shouts of derision; their pretensions were ridiculed, their persons in danger. What could induce them to elect a stranger, an old man, the Emperor's schoolmaster, and pass over so many able, noble and wealthy Romans?
The reader can now judge for himself how far Charles V. fulfilled his promise to Henry VIII. and to Wolsey, and furthered the Cardinal's election. He can also judge what degree of credit is due to the Emperor's solemn asseveration that Don Manuel had no sort of commission to favor the election of De Medici or of any other candidate, with the exception of Wolsey, in whose behalf he had written to his ambassador. But he added hypocrisy to insincerity when he stated, "It is not probable that the said Don John made interest for De Medici in particular, judging from the result. On the contrary, the election fell on a party never contemplated, and appears to have been rather the work of God than of man!" (fn. 51)
He gained nothing, however, by this stroke of policy. If he expected to find in Adrian VI. a zealous partizan or a convenient instrument, he found himself egregiously deceived. Unlike his predecessor, the new Pope was a man of strict, reserved and ascetical habits. Leo X. had spent his time gaily,—surrounded by poets, by artists and musicians. He delighted in hunting, hawking and fishing. A hundred lackeys lounged in his apartments; half a score of cardinals lent splendor to his ante-rooms. If the patronage of the fine arts, if the cultivation of polite learning, if the love of architecture, statuary, antiquities, the most costly marbles, the most refined paintings, could have reformed the age or repressed heresy, Leo might have gone down to posterity embalmed in the odour of sanctity. His successor had no taste for these things. A Flemish monk, of poor parentage, habituated to the frugality and discipline of the cloister, he retained to the last much of its asceticism, and something of its narrowness. For the arts which entranced Leo he showed little or no indulgence; and poetry was his abhorrence. As a student at Louvain, he had trodden the old and thorny round of scholastic philosophy, with the phlegmatic perseverance of his race, and the regularity of a temperament never bewildered by unruly passions. He rose at a fixed hour, he prayed at a fixed hour; he had fixed hours for his meals and his repose; and he regulated his affections and his intercourse with his friends by the same excellent and unvarying rule. His speech was slow, his voice placid and equable, his manners grave; no irregular enthusiasm flushed his sedate and dignified countenance, or disturbed the lustre of his small gray eyes. (fn. 52) Qualities such as these were inestimable for success in life, especially in the court of Charles V.
From a regular and respectable dean of a college he rose to be tutor to Charles, then a boy of seven years old. To the day of his death Charles V. could never translate an ordinary letter written in simple Latin, or master the elements of that language in which all public documents were composed, and all princes at that time corresponded. Yet, though Adrian had never succeeded in furnishing the heart of his imperial disciple with the rudiments of learning,—though Charles knew no Latin, and not much French,—Adrian contrived to impress his imperial pupil with a sense of the worth of outward decorum,—a virtue for which Charles was always remarkable. At the diet at Worms, in 1521, the young Emperor overheard—what was by no means uncommon—one of the German princes spluttering out horrible German oaths, in more than German profusion. Turning to one of his attendants, Charles is reported to have said, "What would Adrian have thought had he heard us cursing and swearing after this fashion!" Sent into Spain, appointed a member of that council of which the great Ximenes was the soul and the dictator, Adrian was honest, plodding and industrious. But his modest intellect was crushed by the capacious genius of the grand Cardinal, and found no room, no opportunity, for expansion. It was eclipsed a second time, as it had been before by the great minister Chièvres, his associate in the education of Charles V. Now created Cardinal, and appointed to the government of Spain whilst Charles was away for his coronation at Aix-la-Chapelle, it was Adrian's misfortune to have the task of quelling an insurrection of the Communeros,—a task to which he was wholly unequal. But though he had no influence with the mass in restraining their excesses, such was the respectability of his character that they undertook to bear him harmless, provided he did not interfere with them. (fn. 53)
With such merits and such services, backed by the intrigues of Don Manuel and the still greater recommendation of advanced years,—for he was then sixty-four,—Adrian was advanced to the Papacy. The official announcement of his election reached him at Vittoria, on the 9th of February; but six months elapsed before he made his appearance at Rome. From the despatches of the English ambassadors in this volume we gather many particulars of his personal history and proceedings, hitherto unknown; for he was attended from Vittoria to Rome by John Hannibal, afterwards Master of the Rolls. On the state of the great city during the protracted absence of the Pope, the factions among the cardinals, the spoil of Leo's jewels and plate, amounting by report to 300,000 ducats, (fn. 54) the horrible ravages of the plague by which the city was devastated during Adrian's absence, I forbear to enlarge: all these details will be found in the letters of Clerk and Pace. The sea was swarming with Saracens; the Turk gathering up his strength for a final struggle with the unhappy Rhodians; disaffection was spreading rapidly through the states of the Church. "The cardinals," said Don Manuel, not without some appearance of justice, "had with them at the election the Holy Ghost, but since they have come out of the conclave they have the devil." (fn. 55) Still Adrian came not; and at Rome rumors prevailed that he was dead, or would never come, or would transfer the seat of the Papacy to Spain. He was apparently in no hurry to set out. Leo had bequeathed to his successor a debt of 800,000 ducats. In his anxiety to drive the French out of Italy, he had impoverished his finances by hiring Swiss mercenaries, and fettered himself with pecuniary engagements he was not able to fulfil. Charles expected that Adrian would walk in the steps of his predecessor. But the new Pope entertained no such intentions. He had either taken it into his head, or had been persuaded by the opposite faction, that Don Manuel had endeavored to hinder his election. The suspicion ripened into fixed aversion, as it will do in men of Adrian's temperament, and extended from the minister to his master. Resenting this suspicion, the haughty Spaniard treated both Pope and cardinals with undisguised and unmeasured contempt. Nor were matters improved when Charles, seeing the inexpediency of retaining at Rome a minister so unpalatable to the Sovereign Pontiff, superseded Don Manuel by the duke of Sessa. Unhappily for the projects and future conquests of Charles, Adrian from the first had conceived the idea of reestablishing peace, and of turning the united armies of Christendom against the Turk. The project was chimerical, but it was not the less obstinately cherished on that account; and Adrian was encouraged in it by the archbishop of Bari, one of the few cardinals to whom, in his inexperience, he lent a ready ear. The Archbishop, though a Spaniard, belonged to a party, still numerous, who regarded with dislike the English al- liance, and were anxious to establish peace between France and the Emperor. (fn. 56)
Nor were their hopes without foundation. Charles, unable to follow up his late successes in Italy from want of funds, seemed not unwilling to temporise. His English allies hung back, obstinately bent on extorting the hardest conditions; and the offers of Francis were tempting. More than once he was inclined to recede. Probably, could a complete view be had of the Emperor's policy from the imperial despatches, his professions of attachment to his "good uncle" and "good father," the king of England, would be found to be as sincere as most of his other professions. But French influence was now on the wane in the councils of Charles V., in consequence of the death of Chièvres. Though fettered with many conditions agreeable neither to his pride nor his penury, an alliance with England offered him the best chance of obtaining that which he needed most, and made no scruple to ask,—a loan of some thousands of ducats, munitions of war, and the aid of the Swiss to be subsidized by Henry. Besides, whilst Charles was away pacifying his Spanish subjects, the defence of the Low Countries might be safely entrusted to his future father-in-law. Troops of Spaniards and Burgundians to fight his battles on the border territory of the Netherlands,—an English invasion of Picardy,—a partnership, in short, of which the advantages should be his, and the burthens his ally's—these were the conditions he hoped to exact. If he experienced some difficulty in realising so pleasant a vision, it arose not from the modesty of Charles, but the obstinate punctiliousness of Wolsey, as the Spaniards called it.
To carry his project into execution, it was necessary for him to obtain from Henry an open declaration of war in his favor. Such a declaration had been hitherto delayed under various pretexts; chiefly, that the English shipping would be endangered by untimely hostilities with France, and the instalments due for Tournay, now some months behindhand, would be lost. Suspecting the intentions of England, yet unwilling to hazard a rupture, Francis had delayed these payments from time to time. Repeatedly pressed by the English ambassador to make good his engagements, he had as frequently excused himself, until at length both parties, weary of dissimulation, threw off the mask, and openly prepared for war. The event long foreseen was precipitated by disputes between the ships of the two countries. Satisfaction was demanded and refused. Nothing remained but defiance, and that defiance was delivered by Clarencieux Herald to the French king at Lyons, with the usual formalities, on the 29th of May. (fn. 57) It was flung back in the herald's teeth with the proud assurance that if any man said the French king had failed to keep his word, he would give his maligner the lie; and if Henry took the field he was ready meet him.
Charles was in England at the time. He had been received there with unbounded demonstrations of delight. At four o'clock in the afternoon of the 27th of May he landed at Dover, (fn. 58) accompanied by the duke d'Alva, the prince of Orange, the count of Nassau, the marquis of Brandenburg, and a numerous retinue of Spanish and German nobility. As he touched the shore he was received by the Cardinal on the sands, attended by 300 lords, knights and gentlemen. Taking the Cardinal's arm, he passed on to Dover Castle. Here he was visited, on Wednesday the 28th, by the King, who had arrived at Canterbury the day before. The next day was spent in religious solemnities; Friday on board the Great Harry, then lying with the rest of the fleet at Dover. The same afternoon both monarchs started for Canterbury; and were met at the city gates by the mayor and aldermen with the usual speeches. Passing on between two rows of the clergy and religious bodies which lined both sides of the street as far as Christ Church, they were received by the Archbishop and twelve mitred prelates, and made their offerings at the minster. Next day (Saturday) they lodged at Sittingbourne; the Sunday at Rochester, where they were entertained by the Bishop and his convent. Arriving at Gravesend on Monday, they found a fleet of barges gaily decked, ready to convey them to Greenwich. By six the same afternoon they reached Greenwich amidst salutes of ordnance planted on both sides of the river. As Katharine and her daughter Mary stood at the great gates of the Palace to welcome the Emperor, Charles dropped on his knee in the Spanish fashion, and craved his aunt's blessing. Wednesday and Thursday, the 4th and 5th of June, were spent in masks and revelry.
On Friday the whole company set forward to London, in "great triumph," as the Emperor wrote to his favorite La Chaulx, "not only like brothers of one mind, but in the "same attire." They were met on the road by John Milborne, the Mayor and the City companies, Sir Thomas More making the oration.
The procession advanced to Southwark. As it passed the Marshalsea and the King's Bench the Emperor re- quested free pardon for the prisoners. Amidst pageants and devices strangely blended, intermixed with Biblical allusions, stories of the Round Table, the classics, and ancient mythologies,—amidst fantastic decorations of flowers, fish and indescribable animals, amidst fair ladies representing the cardinal virtues,—galleries filled with men, women, and children singing and playing or reciting verses in honor of the auspicious event,—the procession threaded its way to the conduit at Gracechurch Street, thence to Leadenhall, next to Cornhill, through the Poultry to the great conduit in Cheapside. At St. Paul's the royal party dismounted, and made their offerings at the high altar; that done, the Emperor retired to his lodgings in Black Friars. After high mass at St. Paul's on Whit Sunday the King and the Emperor went by water to Westminster Abbey. Here "the sanctuary men cried 'Mercy and pardon.' They were so hasty, and pressed so near, that the serjeants-at-arms could scarce keep them from touching the Emperor and the King." (fn. 59)
On Monday the 9th both monarchs dined and hunted with the duke of Suffolk in Southwark. Next day to Hampton Court; Thursday to Windsor; Friday and Saturday were given up to hunting; Sunday night to a play in the great hall, of which the French king formed the burthen. An unruly horse was introduced upon the stage. Amity (Henry and the Emperor) sent out their messengers Prudence and Policy, and when they had tamed the horse (France) Force bridled him and reined in his head. (fn. 60)
Enough of pageants and feastings; more, perhaps, than was palatable to the Emperor, who counted the expense, and thought it would have been better bestowed in the shape of a loan to himself, or of wages to his soldiers.
On Monday the 16th, and the following days, the articles of alliance, the marriage with Mary, the invasion of France, (fn. 61) and the partition of its dominions between the expectant conquerors, were arranged, in secret conclave, by the King, the Emperor and Wolsey. On Friday the afternoon of the 20th Charles left Windsor for Winchester, and on Sunday the 6th of July embarked for St. Ander at two o'clock in the afternoon.
Before his departure the princess Mary, then seven years old, was brought to Windsor to take leave of her affianced husband. The Spaniards said that she promised to grow up a handsome lady. What the Emperor thought of her he was wise enough to keep to himself. He had not visited England to think about ladies; and in all the vicissitudes of his policy he remained constant to one idea—the union of Spain and Portugal. When the battle of life was nearly over, weary of the cares of government, and a martyr to ennui and the gout,—when he had nothing to gain, and nothing to hope for,—he offered his hand to Mary, then queen of England, whom he had slighted as a girl of seven years old. But he had other projects in view when he took his last leave of her at Windsor in July 1522.
Yet tardy as England had been in drifting into war, and firmly as Wolsey had resolved not to precipitate the final and fatal stroke at the importunities of the Emperor or of the lady Margaret, when the blow fell at last the nation was not prepared for hostilities. A moderate navy had been got ready for sea under the command of the earl of Surrey, son of the victor of Flodden, and his vice-admiral Sir William Fitzwilliam, the late ambassador at the French court. So long as the commerce of the country was restricted, so long as no crops were raised beyond what was necessary for average consumption, adequate provision for a navy, still more for an army, with the indispensible requisites of bread, biscuit, beef, fish, and beer,—for other supplies were out of the question,—was a matter of considerable difficulty. (fn. 62) Bread, beef, fish, and beer, in the national economics of that time, involved a multitude of intricate arrangements, not to be grasped at once by the genius of a consummate statesman, or mastered offhand by the most indefatigable industry. If the barley could be collected with no small labor and cost in different counties, it had to be malted; like the wheat, it could only be ground in small quantities in windmills, or at best in water-mills. Wind and water were sometimes as perverse as the French, and far less submissive than they to the meagre mechanics of the age. It was now Midsummer, and the heat was excessive. Salt beef (without which no English sailor could be made amenable to discipline) could not be hastily procured, or, if procured, transported by the slow conveyance of those times to the parts required. There was a hue and cry in all directions for hoops, casks, and barrels. The energies and resources of the nation were taxed to the utmost for hoys, for beer, for fish and beef barrels. Men burning with ardor to fight the French,—such was their confidence,—admirals, officers great and small, saw their advantages lost, and felt their energies grow cold, owing to that perverse and invincible obstacle—lack of victuals.
Thus, on the 23rd June (when the summer was rapidly advancing) Surrey writes to the King bitterly: (fn. 63) "The whole complement for 5,000 men, the beer from Portsmouth and the rest from Southampton, was promised by the last of May, and by this date we have with much difficulty been provided with flesh, fish, and biscuit for two months from Hampton, and we can get no more than one month's beer from Portsmouth. The Vice-admiral was promised his whole complement before today; but few of his ships are victualled for more than three weeks, some only for eight days, and most of them for a fortnight. The victuallers say they have been hindered about the beer for want of casks, but are as far behind-hand with flesh, fish and biscuit as with beer. We cannot do what we intend unless we are better furnished; and it would be a pity to spend so much without doing some great displeasure to the enemy, which we see good likelihood of doing if wind and victual serve, doubting much more of the victual than the wind."
In Calais, the general rendezvous for the English forces, matters were no better. It was impossible to keep the troops at sea, and equally impossible to disembark them, for at Calais there was no accommodation, and no provisions. "There is great scarcity here," writes Sir Richard Wingfield; (fn. 64) "there has been no wind for grinding wheat and malt, and there is a deficiency of wood for the bake-houses and the brew-houses." And in another letter, "The country is ill provided both with malt and water to brew, by reason of the great drought; but there will be no lack of Rhenish wine and other victuals." But that "small creature," "Rhenish wine and other victuals," could ill supply the place of English beef and beer. English yeomen with greatest appetites for the fight had accustomed those appetites to the strong and staple diet of the country. On English beef, salt fish and beer, they ploughed, they sowed, they reaped, they wrestled, pitched the bar, drew the bow, went to bed and rose at four in the morning, with quiet consciences and contented stomachs. Two or three weeks of salt water, with nothing but "Rhenish wine and other victuals," was too severe a trial for any admiral to face, and hope in that interval to keep an efficient crew together.
Such practical and ignoble difficulties produced, however, one good effect: naval warfare exclusively, and military armaments in a great degree, were necessarily restricted to brief manœuvrings. The fleets could rarely keep the sea beyond a few days' duration. They scoured the Channel at brief intervals, making hurried descents on some defenceless port or maritime town, and the rest of the time was spent in harbor. An army, on the other hand, though furnished originally with scanty stores, was able to maintain itself in the enemy's country, until, by its own wasting, fire and destruction, it was compelled to decamp, and either return home, or find some new scene for its destructive energies. The horrors of war cannot be exaggerated; yet a few men only, like Sir Thomas More or Erasmus, seemed sensible of the magnitude of the evil, or had the boldness and the wisdom to denounce it. Famine and desolation followed the course of the invaders, whose object was, not rapid and decisive victory,—that is, war in its most merciful form,—but repeated acts of plunder and devastation, until the enemy, bleeding at every pore, succumbed through sheer exhaustion. Barns, corn fields, churches, villages and castles were indiscriminately given to the flames. What became of the inoffensive villagers, whose houses were thus burned over their heads, and their whole means of livelihood destroyed, was deemed a matter of no moment; such considerations never troubled the thoughts of the invader. Here is a specimen of a military bulletin, sent to the King of England from Surrey, then commanding the English forces in France: (fn. 65) "The Boulonnois (all the country round Boulogne) is so burnt and pillaged that the French have good reason to be angry. Vendôme, the French king's lieutenant, has seen his town and castle of Hughclere burnt, he being at Montreuil, seven miles off. All the country we have passed through has been burnt; and all the strong places, whether castles or fortified churches, have been thrown down. I have agreed with the Emperor's council to go tomorrow towards Dorlance (Dourlens), where we hope to be in four or five days, doing meanwhile great displeasure to the French. When we have burnt Dorlance, Corby, Ancre, Bray and the neighbouring country, which I think will be in about three weeks, I cannot see that we can do much more." Four days after, he wrote again to say that he had already, since his last, thrown down and burned "the goodly castle of Frewges," and intended to do the same with the castle of Fresyn tomorrow. "Today we lay siege to Hesdin; the French have abandoned the town, where the pestilence is raging. The Emperor's council are willing it shall be burned, which shall be done within three hours." And he adds, it must be thought very needlessly, "there is universal poverty here, and great fear of this army. I trust the King's grace and you (Wolsey) will be content with our services here." (fn. 66)