Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 4, 1524-1530. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1875.
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Introduction, Section 10
The cause stayed.
The Court had met on the 5th, 9th, 12th, 16th, and 19th of July, but was chiefly employed in receiving affidavits and hearing evidence relative to the marriage of Katharine and prince Arthur. (fn. 1) Roving commissions had been sent out to collect information. The most minute particulars connected with the mar- riage, which modesty would have allowed to remain in oblivion, were freely raked up, bandied about and discussed in open court. Similar sittings were held on the 21st and 22nd of July, when the court was prorogued by Campeggio until the 1st of October. Meanwhile the Emperor had been using all his influence to induce Clement to stop all proceedings, revoke the commission, and have the cause relegated to Rome. Great efforts were made by the Imperialists for this purpose. The rapidity with which the suit had of late proceeded, so contrary to his expectations, had greatly alarmed the Pope. The negociations were intrusted to Mai, the Emperor's agent at the Court of Rome. He writes to the Emperor, that on the 19th of June he was with the Pope, urging him to revoke the cause, but nothing was done in consequence of his illness. On the 9th of July, a fresh application was made, and put off on the same excuse. He repeated his visit on the 10th, producing a copy of a letter written from England, and dated the 21st of June, in which it was stated that the Queen's appeal had been rejected. On the 13th, notwithstanding the opposition made by the English ambassadors, a signatura was held, and the cause revoked, to Mai's unfeigned delight. "The cause," he continues, "is now safe, thank God, and all that has been done in England will now be annulled. Six duplicates of the acts will be transmitted, two to be set up in Flanders, one at Bruges and Dunkirk, the rest transmitted to the Queen, or to whomsoever it may be thought best." "The Pope," he adds, "has written to Campeggio, but he has behaved so badly in this "matter that nothing could have been worse." (fn. 2)
Wolsey's last effort.
To obviate, if possible, this result, Dr. Benet had been dispatched to Rome in the latter end of May. He was instructed to avoid irritating the Pope, and abandon all solicitation for a new commission. "As the King has been advertised that the Emperor will refuse to send the brief into England, and will transmit it to Rome, which may be a color for avocation of the cause," (fn. 3) Benet is required not to touch on that topic, but devise the best means how the avocation may be prevented. On Benet's introduction to the Pope, in company with Casale and Vaux, his Holiness expressed his regret that the King's cause was hurried on in England. At this remark Benet and the rest expressed their well-feigned astonishment, affirming that nothing had been done, or would be done, until all obstacles had been removed. They employed many arguments to quiet the Pope's suspicions, but with little effect. He had evidently received better information from Campeggio himself, or from his secretary, and was not to be deceived; in fact, at their next interview he produced a letter from the Legate, stating that the commission was already exhibited, and that the King and Queen had been cited to appear on the 18th of June. The importunities of the Imperial ambassador, and the preparations for the Emperor's journey into Italy, were sufficient of themselves to prevent the Pope from complying any further with the King's wishes. On the 5th of July, he had already informed Sylvester Darius of his intentions. He admitted that there was no prince so attached to the Holy See as Henry VIII., and none whom he desired more to please; but the demand made on behalf of the queen of England was no more than justice, and the Emperor was daily sending him threatening letters in her favour. He must act, he said, as a common father, and an upright judge. All the lawyers insisted that the cause ought to be revoked, especially as the Queen's party was ready to affirm upon oath that justice could not be had in the King's dominions. To oblige the King, he had already made many excuses to the Emperor's ambassadors, and used every effort to obtain delay when they demanded the revocation; and still, if it were necessary, he would pretend illness, until it could be seen whether the cause could be arranged at the approaching conference at Cambray. (fn. 4)
The Pope weeps and refuses.
When Benet insisted on Wolsey's fidelity to the Pope, and urged that if his Holiness complied with the demands of the Imperialists, and revoked the cause, it would lead to the ruin of the Cardinal, and the destruction of the Church of England, Clement replied, wiping the tears from his eyes, that no one foresaw the mischief more clearly than himself. He lamented the destruction of Christendom, still more that he had no means of finding a remedy; but he could not gratify the King at the sacrifice of his conscience, and the dishonor of the See Apostolic. (fn. 5) The Imperialists were pressing him for immediate action, urging the discredit that was done to the Emperor in the person of his aunt. They had exhibited a mandate from the Queen, demanding the avocation of the cause, and he could not refuse it. "Seeing," says Benet, "that we could obtain nothing from him, we consulted among ourselves how the avocation might be delayed until you (Wolsey) had concluded the cause in England. We can do no more." (fn. 6) The ambassadors sum up the state of the cause in a despatch of the same date, with the following remarks: "The King's cause is now at this point. The Pope cannot refuse the request of the Imperialists, and all the auditors and referendaries tell him that he cannot in justice refuse the avocation; we can, therefore, do nothing but put it off as long as possible, and we will try to do so until we hear from England. The King must now decide whether it will be better to suspend the process, or proceed to sentence before the avocation." (fn. 7)
Attempt to keep him in ignorance.
With this view, and out of a desire to keep the Pope in ignorance of the proceedings in England, for he dreaded nothing so much as the vigorous prosecution of the cause, they resolved to detain Campeggio's letters. They advised the King, if the Legate complained, to invent some excuse, and assure Campeggio, "thought it was not true," that they had no dread of an avocation; because, if he suspected it, he might delay judgment. Further, they urged the King to hasten on the cause; for though the Pope had formerly promised delay, yet on receipt of letters from the Queen and lady Margaret, it would be impossible to deny Katharine's appeal any longer. His Holiness could do no more to gratify the King, for he had received information from Flanders that the Queen had written to the lady Margaret, expressing her reluctance to defend her cause, as she dreaded the scandal that would ensue, and the ruin of herself and of her daughter. Yet she would rather brave death than suffer so great an injury to her soul, and bring dishonor on herself. The Imperialists were growing daily more importunate for the avocation, exclaiming bitterly against the Pope for allowing the cause to be proceeded with in England, contrary to his promise, and protesting that if he refused their appeal they would seek a remedy elsewhere (fn. 8).
Clement, not deficient in judgment, nor unwilling to do right, was little fitted to act as an arbiter between two such imperious factions. Timid and irresolute, "placed between the hammer and the anvil," to use his own expression, he was unwilling to offend either, and incurred the suspicion of both. In these perplexities his only resource was to bemoan his own hard fate, and "weeping he prayed for death." The ambassadors' letters arrived in England on the 22nd of July. Their advice coincided with Wolsey's wishes; but was no longer practicable: for, as he wrote to them on the 27th of the same month, Campeggio had already prorogued the court; great discrepancy and contrariety of opinion existed between them; and the cause lingered without any prospect of a speedy conclusion. In a week the process would cease, and two months' vacation would ensue. Other counsels, therefore, as he told them, were necessary, and it was important for them to act as if the avocation had been granted already. "Campeggio," he said, "writes with me to urge the Pope, if "it must be granted, to qualify the conditions of it; for if the King be cited to appear in person or by proxy, and his prerogative be interfered with, none of his subjects will tolerate the insult. If he were to appear in Italy it would be at the head of a formidable army. But if the avocation be merely intended to close my hands, and not prevent the King from seeking a remedy elsewhere, it may be allowed to pass. To cite the King to Rome, or threaten him with excommunication, is no more tolerable than to deprive him of his royal dignity. If, therefore, the Pope has consented to an avocation of the cause to Rome, it must be revoked. If it arrive here before such revocation, no mention shall be made of it, not even to the King himself." (fn. 9)
The King's disappointment.
Until this period of his life Henry had encountered little opposition from any quarter. He had reigned for twenty years without experiencing any serious obstacles to his wishes. If he had for some time ceased to be, as once he was in the estimation of Katharine, the Cid, the paladin of the world, she never wavered in her submissiveness, or gave utterance in all her troubles to the least expression of disrespect. No reproaches escaped her lips. No noble, no prelate, until now, had ventured to remonstrate with him on his proceedings; one and all, if they could not justify the divorce, confessed that he had reason for his scruples, and admitted the righteousness of his motives. The fragments of a great nobility, humbled and terrified by the fate of Buckingham, trembled at his nod. Never had king reigned in England with a more absolute sway; never had any king's will been so regarded as the voice of God, and the unerring rule of duty. As for Henry himself, he had been taught to believe that his writings in defence of the Church had saved the Faith; and for this service, and his occasional acts of parsimonious liberality, he had expected unbounded gratitude from the Pope, and instantaneous compliance with his wishes. He thought he had only to express them, and they must be granted, however unreasonable, however much at variance with the ordinary principles of justice. On this theme he harps perpetually in the despatches sent to his ambassadors at Rome; and it was this conviction which, probably more than any other, had induced him to adopt Wolsey's suggestion, and apply to the Pope for a divorce, rather than have recourse to more pliable instruments at home. Now, obstructions and vexatious opposition to his wishes had sprung up where he least expected. Timid and overawed as she was, Katharine had contrived to lodge a protest against his proceedings at the court of Rome, and by this one act the fabric he had been raising with so much ingenuity, expence, and labour was levelled to the ground. Fisher, the most devout and self-denying of all his prelates, had freely denounced the King's arts and arguments in his own cause as sophistical and unjustifiable. The boldness of his attitude, so unlike that of the rest of his brethren, had produced a powerful effect; and his firm and daring rebuke lost none of its effect when compared with the timid compliance of Warham and the rest, or the manifest efforts of the Cardinal to oppress and intimidate the weaker party.
His anger breaks out against Wolsey.
It was in this temper of mind that Henry sent for the Cardinal, "at the breaking up one day of the court, to come to him into Bridewell," as Cavendish relates. The audience lasted long, and when "my Lord came out and departed from the King, he took his barge at the Black Friars, and so went to his house at Westminster. The bishop of Carlisle, being with him in his barge, said unto him wiping the sweat from his face, 'Sir', quoth he, 'it is a very hot day.' 'Yea,' quoth my lord Cardinal, 'if ye had been as well chafed as I have been within this hour, ye would say it were very hot.' And as soon as he came home to Westminster, he went incontinent to his naked bed, where he had not lain fully the space of two hours but that my lord of Wiltshire (Sir Thomas Boleyn) came to speak with him of a message from the King." The Cardinal was commanded to repair immediately, in company with Campeggio, to the Queen at Bridewell, and persuade her to place the whole matter in the King's hands, without waiting for the decision of the Legate, which might end in her "slander and defamation!" After remonstrating with Sir Thomas, who was kneeling all this time at his bedside, for putting "such fantasies" into the King's head, Wolsey rose, took his barge, fetched Campeggio from Bath Place, where he was lodging much to the annoyance of Clerk, bishop of Bath, and proceeded with him to Bridewell. When Katharine was advertised of their arrival, she "came out of her privy chamber with a skein of white thread about her neck," attended by her maids. The Legates desired that their audience should be private; and upon her requesting them to speak openly before her attendants, Wolsey commenced the conversation in Latin. "Nay, good my Lord," quoth she, "speak to me in English, I beseech you, although I understand Latin." "Forsooth, then," quoth my Lord, "Madam, if it please your Grace, we came both to know your mind, how ye be disposed to do in this matter between the King and you, and also to declare secretly our opinions and our counsel unto you, which we have intended of very zeal and obedience that we bear to your Grace." "My Lords, I thank you then," quoth she, "of your good wills; but to make answer to your request I cannot so suddenly, for I was set among my maidens at work, thinking full little of any such matter, wherein there needeth a longer deliberation, and a better head than mine to make answer to so noble wise men as ye be. I had need of good counsel in this case, which toucheth me so near. Alas, my Lords! I am a poor woman, lacking both wit and understanding sufficiently to answer such approved wise men as ye be both, in so weighty a matter. I pray you to extend your good and indifferent minds in your authority unto me, for I am a simple woman, destitute and barren of friend- ship and counsel here in a foreign region; and as for your counsel, I will not refuse, but be glad to hear." With this she took Wolsey by the hand, and led him with the other Cardinal into her privy chamber, where they had long communication. "We in the other chamber," says Cavendish, "might sometimes hear the Queen speak very loud, but what it was we could not understand." (fn. 10)
The court is adjourned.
The 23rd of July was assigned for concluding the cause. (fn. 11) On that day the King sate within a gallery near the door of the court, where he could both see and hear the judges. The proceedings were read in Latin; that done, the King's proctor demanded sentence. Then Campeggio stood up, and declared in a fluent Latin speech that it was the custom of the Roman court in Rome to suspend all legal proceedings from the end of July until the commencement of October; and consequently the court must stand adjourned for that period. (fn. 12) So far all authorities are agreed. But Cavendish asserts that the reason for Campeggio's refusal to proceed, as stated by himself, was his determination to give no sentence until he had consulted with the Pope. "I will, therefore," he added, "adjourn this court for this time, according to the order of the court in Rome, from whence this court and jurisdiction is derived." Both statements are easily reconciled. Campeggio had received distinct instructions from the Pope to follow the rules of the court at Rome, and forbear judgment until further orders. Hall adds, that on this, Charles duke of Suffolk, seeing the delay, "gave a great slap on the table" with his hand, and said, "By the mass! now I see that the old-said saw is true, that there was never legate nor cardinal that did good in England!" Cavendish adds, that Wolsey, seeing the furious gestures of the Duke, calmly replied, "Sir, of all men in this realm, ye have least cause to dispraise or be offended with cardinals; for if I, simple cardinal, had not been, you should have had at this present no head upon your shoulders, wherein you should have a tongue to make any such report in despite of us." He concluded his rebuke by advising the Duke to "frame his tongue" like a man of honor and wisdom—a bitter if even an unintentional sarcasm—and not speak so hostilely and reproachfully of his friends; "for ye know best what friendship ye have received at my hands, the which I yet never revealed to no person alive before now, neither to my glory, ne to your dishonor." The Duke made no reply, but "followed after the King, who was gone into Bridewell, at the beginning of the Duke's first words." (fn. 13)
His ingratitude and meanness.
The Cardinal had interposed on various occasions in the Duke's favour, not only when, taking advantage of his position as ambassador to the French king, he had clandestinely married Mary, the King's sister,—an act not less treasonable than dishonorable,—but again at a later date, when, at the beginning of the year 1524, he had disbanded his army without authority, and in direct opposition to the King's instructions. But the anger of Wolsey on this occasion was probably owing quite as much to another cause, as to the intemperate and insulting observations of the Duke. In the latter end of May, the King, already suspecting the sincerity of the Legates, had despatched Suffolk to the court of France. "I assure you," writes Du Bellay in reference to this mission, (fn. 14) "Wolsey is in the greatest pain he ever was in. The dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk, and the others (the Boleyns), lead the King to believe that he has not done all that he might to advance the marriage (with Anne). Francis and Madame could not do him a greater favour than to let Suffolk and Fitzwilliam know how urgently he has pressed them to take the thing in hand." He writes again the same day, "I went yesterday to see the Legate at Richmond. He spoke to me of the mission of Suffolk, and of his own great desire that the reply of Francis and Madame (Louise) should be in accordance with the assurance he has always given his master, especially about his marriage ... You know how to press this upon the King and Madame, and you know how much Wolsey has done for them in obtaining this peace with his master, for which he asks no other reward except that they should advance this affair of the marriage." How his anticipations were fulfilled may be gathered from the following letter, not written in his usual orthography, from Suffolk to his master.
His conference with the French king about Wolsey.
"Please it your Highness, these shall be to advertise the same, that at such time as I saw most convenient to break unto the French king of the secret charge that your Grace gave me in commandment to disclose unto him, taking of him, before I disclosed the same, his promise that as he was a true prince, and upon his faith, he should never open the same to no creature living, I showed unto him that your Grace had given me in commandment to show unto him, how that your Grace was advertised from Bryan, that he (Francis) should say unto the said Bryan, 'How do the King my brother's affairs concerning the divorce?' And the said Bryan should say, 'I trust well.' Upon the which he (Francis) should say, 'Well, there be some that the King my brother doth trust in that matter that would it should never take effect; but I shall send Piers le Vartie (Douarty) to the King my brother, who shall disclose unto him that I know therein;' which words he (Francis) saith are such like he said to Bryan; which words he spake upon such communication as he had with the cardinal Campegius; for when this said Cardinal was with him, he did as much as he could to feel what the said Cardinal intended in your matter." After detailing further talk upon this subject, Suffolk proceeds: "When I had of him as much as I could concerning the cardinal Campegius, I said that your Grace was much bounden unto him for the said advertisement; further saying unto him, that your Grace hath such affiance and trust in him, that if he knew any other that in like case doth dissemble with your Grace in this matter, whatsoever he were, he would open the same, and so most heartily your Grace desireth him to do; commanding me to show unto him, that your Grace hath promised him, by the faith of a king, that it shall never be disclosed to no creature by your Grace. Unto the which he said he knew none other, for, if he did, he would not fail to advertise your Grace of him. And when I saw I could get no more of him, I said, 'Sir, what say you by the Cardinal of England in this matter?' Whereunto he said, 'I shall tell you. As for my lord Cardinal of England, when he was with me, (fn. 15) I assure you, as far as I could perceive in him, he would the divorce should go forth and take effect, for he loved not the Queen. But I will speak frankly unto you,—and as he that no less intendeth in his good mind and heart the advancement of the King's good pur-pose in this matter than he doth himself,—mine advice shall be to my good brother, that he shall have good regard (be watchful), and not put so much trust in no man, whereby he may be deceived, as nigh as he can. And the best remedy for the defence thereof is to look substantially upon his matters himself, as I hear say he doth, (fn. 16) which I am not a little glad of.' Further saying unto me that my lord Cardinal of England had a marvellous intelligence with the Pope, and in Rome, and also with the cardinal Campegius. Wherefore, seeing that he hath such intelligence with them which have not minded to advance your matter, he thinketh it shall be the more need for your Grace to have the better regard to your said affair." Suffolk concludes by saying that this was the utmost he could get from the French king, but he would try him again, and see "if he will say any further therein." If he carried out his promise, he did not commit the result to writing, but reserved his communication until he returned to England. (fn. 17)
On the baseness of this transaction, and the dishonor of all concerned in it, it is needless to insist. The calumny insinuated at the close of it by the French king is sufficiently disproved by the whole tenor of Wolsey's correspondence with Rome and with Campeggio. Of Wolsey's sincerity in prosecuting the divorce Francis could not pretend ignorance. But he was at this time doing his best to deceive "his good brother," the king of England, by violating his own engagements, and secretly negociating with the Emperor. It was his object to conceal these proceedings from Henry and his minister, until the matter, which ended in the peace of Cambray, should be so far settled that neither the King nor Wolsey could interfere to prevent it. The most effectual method to this end was to inspire the King with distrust, especially as the Cardinal had expressed a desire to the King to be present at the negociations, and defend the interests of England,—a desire which had only served to augment Henry's suspicions, as if it were a mere trick to get rid of the divorce.
Betrayed by Francis and communicated to Wolsey.
But Francis, as usual, whenever he pledged his honor, proved false to his word. He divulged the conversation. It reached Du Bellay, and was by him communicated in a mutilated form to Wolsey. At the return of Suffolk, the Cardinal, wholly ignorant of Henry's part in the transaction, complained to the King that the Duke, in various conversations with the French king, had done him a disfavor (deffavorisé); and he referred to Du Bellay as his authority. The Duke made many protestations to the contrary; and, on meeting Du Bellay, informed him that he had held certain conversations with Francis about the Cardinal, but was sure that if the ambassador had heard of them, he would never have repeated them. Du Bellay, thus pressed, denied that he had betrayed them; "as in fact," he says, "I had not," and begged that the affair might go no further; offering, if Suffolk wished it, to repeat this denial in the presence of the Cardinal. On referring the matter to Wolsey, the Cardinal expressed his intention to the French ambassador of allowing the subject to pass over; "but he spoke so coldly," says Du Bellay, "that I am convinced he intends speaking of it before the King, and will then confront me with the Duke. If it come to this you may well guess what will be the issue." (fn. 18) Fortunately for Du Bellay the King was away at the time on his progress with Anne Boleyn, and before he returned Wolsey had fallen.
How Henry accepted his disappointment.
Resists the citation to Rome.
Historians have represented the King as a victim to chagrin at the untoward and unexpected result of the trial. "You may be sure," says Hall, "that he was not well content when he heard of this delay, but yet, like a wise prince, he took it patiently, trusting to have an end in October ensuing." (fn. 19) He goes on to say that the King did not abandon all hope, or discover the dissimulation of the Legates, until Campeggio, some months after, prepared to return. Like many other statements found in Hall, and implicitly adopted by others, this is a mere misapprehension of the facts. Long before October, before even the Legates had prorogued the court, the Pope had revoked the cause. (fn. 20) "We have left nothing undone," writes Benet on the 16th of July, "to restrain the Pope from advoking the cause; we have shown him the danger of so doing, insisting on the King's merits, the necessity of the cause, the scandals and the tumult which the advocation will produce, the ruin of the Church, the loss of England and France. His Holiness admitted that all we said was true. But these and other innumerable inducements were of no avail; and he even proposed to advoke the cause without waiting to hear from the King, saying he neither could nor would wait any longer, for he had heard from Campeggio that the cause was hurried on." Sentence or no sentence, the result was the same; for by this proceeding on the part of the Pope, the commission of the Legates was revoked, and all their proceedings invalidated. Directly the Queen's appeal was admitted the Legatine court became a nullity. But the avocation of the cause was followed by an inconvenience specially offensive to the King's feelings. On the same grounds on which he had submitted to a citation from a Legatine court nominated by the Pope, was he bound to submit to a citation from the court of Rome, where the Pope presided in person. (fn. 21) How intolerable this submission seemed to his subjects, how inconsistent with his royal dignity, has been stated already. But it may be questioned whether a citation from the court of Rome, with all the publicity attached to it, would not have been infinitely more distasteful. Whatever his subjects might have been inclined to tolerate in theory—however little they might trouble their heads with the question of the Papal supremacy, so long as it was confined to the forum ecclesiasticum,—it was far otherwise when that supremacy assumed the direct and practical shape of summoning the national sovereign to appear before the Pope as an inferior and a vassal. The proud spirit of the nation never brooked the least approach to this indignity, and never would. In its present temper of mind, and its general irritation against the divorce, it was least of all likely to do so now. It was viewed with equal alarm by the King and the Cardinal. Directions were sent to Henry's ambassadors to use all their efforts to suppress the avocation. The Legates are ordered to prevent it from coming into the Queen's hands, or persuade her to rest satisfied with her present success. "The King desires you (Wolsey)," writes Gardiner—now installed in the post of secretary, and high in Royal favor,—"to instruct Campeggio how to persuade the Queen to be content to procure that no such thing (as the citation) be comprised in the said avocation, as may irritate the King's highness and his nobles, and tell him that a king in his own realm may not be violently—" (fn. 22) using such reasons as Wolsey's wit will supply. "The King," adds Gardiner, has this greatly to heart, and sent for me twice while writing." (fn. 23)
Negociates with Katharine to prevent it.
To secure this object more effectually the Cardinal was directed to take steps with Clerk bishop of Bath, one of the Queen's counsel, (fn. 24) to arrange this difficulty to the King's satisfaction. In his letter to Gardiner, Wolsey describes his own interview with the Bishop. He found Clerk as compliant as usual. He was quite of opinion that, now the judges' hands were tied up, the Queen should abandon all her proceedings at Rome; but since she trusted more to the counsel of strangers and Imperialists—(as she had very good reason for doing)—the Bishop, with the concurrence of her almoner and the bishop of London (Tunstal), would endeavour bonâ fide to dissuade her from taking any further steps. When Wolsey proceeded still further to impress upon Clerk the danger that might ensue to the Queen and her Council if the King were cited, or any measures taken against him at Rome, the Bishop protested that if Katharine continued wilful he would cease to be one of her Council, "to die for it." (fn. 25) The success of this manœuvre answered the expectations of both. "I repaired unto the King's highness," says Gardiner, "and read unto the same your Grace's letters to me directed; the first part whereof showing by what dexterity your Grace hath conduced the Queen's counsel to be content with exhibition of the brief, directed to your Grace, in lieu of the letters citatorial, (fn. 26) was most acceptable unto the King's highness." He trusts "that your Grace hath in all circumstances so proceeded, as if the Queen would hereafter resile and go back from that she seemeth now to be contented with, it should not be in her power so to do; but that this act done before your Grace and the cardinal Campegius may be prejudicial to her here, at Rome, or elsewhere, by the letting (hindering) and impeaching of further prosecution of any citation ... to be impetrate by her or her proctors hereafter." (fn. 27)
Returns to Greenwich, dissatisfied with Wolsey.
At the closing of the court the King retired to Greenwich, there to digest his disappointments, and take counsel for further action with the dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk, Anne Boleyn, and her father lord Rochford. Gardiner, who had returned from Rome on the 22nd of June, was now installed as chief secretary; (fn. 28) and though, as we have seen, the King continued to make use of the Cardinal, and employed him in the most delicate and difficult negociations, he ceased to maintain any correspondence with him personally or by letter. The whole correspondence between them now passed through the hands of the new and popular secretary. So marked, indeed, and so obvious was the slight, that when Wolsey, who had brought this affair of the citation to a successful issue, begged for a personal interview, the King sent him a wretched excuse by Gardiner, declining the request as too painful for his nerves: "Whereas your Grace in the end of your letter writeth that ye have certain things to show unto the King's highness, which your Grace thinketh not convenient to be committed to writing, I assure your Grace at the reading thereof his Highness seemed to me somewhat altered and moved. ... Whereupon his Highness, as in that desire of further knowledge "troubled, et frustra tamen conjiciens, what it is your Grace, the ways being sure and without fear of interception, should, that notwithstanding, not think convenient to be put in writing; knowing also right well that your Grace is not wont to spare any labours or pains in writing ... willed me, after the minute of these letters conceived by his Grace ... to desire your Grace incontinently, by letters of your own hand, to signify unto the same, only caput rei, which your Grace meaneth." He is further commanded to do so in the briefest possible words, that "his Highness may in the meantime somewhat quiet his mind and cogitation." (fn. 29)
Goes to Woodstock.
Wolsey is no longer needed.
When this letter was written the King was at Woodstock. He had left Greenwich early in August, taking Anne Boleyn with him, and her immediate friends, after he had commanded the Queen to be removed out of the court." (fn. 30) He had gone from Barnet to Tittenhanger, thence to Reading, and about the 25th of August to Woodstock, already sufficiently notorious as the amorous retreat of Henry II. and the fair Rosamond. Here he remained until the 12th of September, alleviating his griefs by hunting with Anne Boleyn and congenial amusements; leaving the affairs of state to his falling minister, whom he had disgraced already, but had not yet mustered sufficient resolution to dis- card. It was probably part of the design of Wolsey's enemies to keep the King at a distance from Wolsey, and wean him from any lingering attachment he might yet entertain for one whose chief fault it was to have served his master too faithfully. So far they had prevailed; but, besides their wish to ruin the Cardinal past all hope of recovery, they were never entirely free from apprehension lest he should regain his influence and take vengeance on his enemies. Habits of long intercourse are not easily broken; nor could the King be insensible, even in his anger, to the services of the Cardinal, or the greatness of his abilities, as compared with the brainless counsels of Suffolk, or the harsh and ungenial devices of Norfolk. In this policy they possessed two advantages. The conclusion of the treaty of Cambray, from which England had been shut out through the arts of Francis and his mother, had settled European politics on a secure basis, and left no room at present for further political combinations. So the field in which the genius of Wolsey was most fitted to display itself, and where his experience gave him a decided superiority over others, was closed against him. In domestic reforms he had never taken any decided interest. He was not a theologian. He looked upon the progress of the Reformation with far less alarm and dissatisfaction than did More or even Tunstall. If it attracted his notice it was only in its political aspect, or its bearings on his negociations with the Pope. One reform he had constantly at heart, and was undoubtedly more profoundly interested in it than all his contemporaries; but it was precisely of that nature in which neither King, nobles, nor churchmen shared his sympathies, nor desired nor missed his help. Had his life been spared he would have raised the university of Oxford, in the splendor of its endowments, in the magnificence of its libraries, in the reputation of its scholars, above all other universities in the world. The abbeys and monasteries dispersed through England he would have converted by degrees into places of education not inferior to the colleges of Oxford and Cambridge. But though the King and his nobles were fully alive to the defects of the monastic institutions, and quite ready to join in the cry for converting their revenues to other purposes, this was not the reform intended by Henry or the Boleyns. So Wolsey's occupation was extinguished. In other words, there was no complication of foreign politics in which his genius or advice would be much regretted by his master.
For domestic improvements, Parliament, which was to be assembled in November 1529, would take the necessary measures; and these were now mainly directed towards ecclesiastical reforms. For the rest, Gardiner was an able and expert secretary. He had contrived to ingratiate himself with the King, and was by no means unacceptable to Anne Boleyn or the duke of Norfolk. Whether, indeed, he joined in their designs for supplanting his ancient master, and helped to estrange the King, is not so easily decided. So thought, however, Du Bellay, a keen observer: "Incidentally when I was with him (Wolsey) during two days, he spoke of the practices of this court (of England), not showing himself so vexed with them as I am sure he is ... I have less hope than before of his influence, from conversations which I had with him; for I see he trusts in certain persons, whom he has himself raised (Tuke and Gardiner); and I am sure they have betrayed him. At this I am greatly shocked; for I could never have believed they would have been guilty of such vil- lany; and the worst is, Wolsey does not perceive it." (fn. 31) But Wolsey was far too keensighted not to perceive that the King had transferred his confidence to Gardiner. The relations between himself and the new secretary are too distinctly marked in their correspondence to leave any room for doubt on that head; and the complimentary tone now adopted by him in his communications with Gardiner betrays the uneasy conviction that his creature had eclipsed him. Tuke, to whom he appears to have communicated his suspicions from the court, endeavoured to remove these impressions. Writing to Wolsey from the court, Tuke assures him that in all his communications with Gardiner, he found him "such a one towards the Cardinal as he should be;" not "minded to meddle with many things, but to deal with one thing, such as he shall fortune to be appointed unto." At the same time, it is plain from Tuke's letter that Gardiner and lord Rochford had now monopolised the King's confidence. (fn. 32)
His disgrace imminent.
The news of the Cardinal's disgrace,—for it cannot be described by any milder term,—was not confined to the narrow circle of Woodstock. It was known to Katharine. "The Queen has written to me," says Mendoza, in a letter to Charles, (fn. 33) "that she perceives all the King's anger at his ill success will be visited on Wolsey." "I have been," writes Rowland Philippes, vicar of Croydon, to Wolsey himself, "with the abbot of Wigmore, and showed him your gracious mind, that he should have forty marks pension; which of late he would have taken gladly, but now, as he trusts to a great change, and especially the extinction of your authority, he refuses the offer." (fn. 34) Every one was beginning to shun the falling minister, as they might have shunned a falling oak, expecting the last stroke of the axe, and counting the minutes that precede its ruin. It may be thought that it would have been more dignified if Wolsey had clung with less tenacity to office. But that is to judge of past times by the present. In these days a minister who is no longer acceptable to his sovereign, be that sovereign one man or many, consults his ease and his dignity by resigning. He sharpens his weapons, he bides his time—sparsa ad pugnam proludit arena. He raises a mighty dust, and prepares for the future combat. Not so then: once fallen, a favourite fell for ever; and once fallen, impeachment inevitably followed. There was not an office, high or low, for which the holder, at the termination of it, did not require the King's pardon for unknown and involuntary offences. There was not one which could be resigned, without permission of the sovereign, for the same reason. The burthen imposed upon a minister, or voluntarily taken up by him, could not be laid down at his own caprice, his desire of ease, or his sense of indignity. Least of all was it possible for Wolsey; for though he had regulated his actions in compliance with the King's wishes, nothing but the King's pardon could save him from the consequences; and that was not to be expected in the present fierce and unrelenting humour of his master. Nothing but that pardon could protect him from an impeachment. Parliament was now at hand; and no Parliament could or would fail in calling him to account for real or imaginary offences of which he had been guilty during the last twenty years. He was a quarry at which the royal hunter had taken aim. Ingenious lawyers, unscrupulous partizans, time-serving courtiers, could twist and spin overt and constructive treason out of actions done by the explicit command of the sovereign, of which the sovereign reaped the reward, and his minister paid the penalty. No other course was therefore open to the Cardinal, except to take his probation quietly, and wait for his dismissal.
Campeggio takes leave of the King.
The Court was superseded; the Legates' commission revoked; and as nothing now remained in England for Campeggio to do, he prepared for his departure. On the 14th of September he started in company with Wolsey and the Imperial ambassador for Grafton in Northamptonshire, where the King was now staying with Anne Boleyn, on his return from Woodstock. The Legates reached Grafton, and presented themselves on Sunday morning, the 19th. (fn. 35) "The two prelates being come to the gates," says Cavendish, "alighted from their horses, supposing that they should have been received by the headofficers of the house, as they were wont to be; yet, forasmuch as Campeggio was but a stranger in effect, the said officers received them, and conveyed him to his lodging within the court, which was prepared for him only. (fn. 36) And after my Lord had brought him thus to his lodging, he left him there, and departed, supposing to have gone directly likewise to his chamber, as he was accustomed to do. And by the way, as he was going, it was told him that he had no lodging appointed for him in the court. And being therewith astonied, Sir Henry Norris, groom of the stole to the King, came unto him, and whether it was by the King's commandment or no, I know not, and most humbly offered him his chamber for the time, until another might be somewhere provided for him. 'For, Sir, I assure you,' quoth he, 'here is very little room in this house, scantly sufficient for the King. However, I beseech your Grace to accept mine for the season.' Whom my Lord thanked for his gentle offer, and went straight to his chamber, whereas my Lord shifted his riding apparel. Then was my Lord advertised by Master Norris that he should prepare himself to give attendance in the chamber of presence, against the King's coming thither, who was disposed there to talk with him and with the other Cardinal, who came into my Lord's chamber; and they together went into the said chamber of presence, where the Lords of the Council stood in a row, in order, along the chamber, my Lord putting off his cap to every of them most gently, and so did they no less to him; at which time the chamber was so furnished with noblemen and gentlemen, and other worthy (worshipful) persons, that only expected the meeting, and the countenance of the King and him, and what entertainment the King made him.
A glimpse of returning favor.
"Then immediately after came the King into the chamber; and standing there under the cloth of estate, my Lord kneeled down before him, who took my Lord by the hand, and so he did the other Cardinal. Then he took my Lord up by both arms, and caused him to stand up, whom the King, with as amiable a cheer as ever he did, called him aside, and led him by the hand to a great window, where he talked with him, and caused him to be covered.
Then to behold the countenance of those who had made their wagers to the contrary, it would have made you to smile; and thus were they all deceived, as well worthy for their presumption. The King was in long and earnest communication with him, insomuch as I heard the King say, 'How can that be? Is not this your own hand?' And plucked out from his bosom a letter or writing, and showed him the same. (fn. 37) And, as I perceived, it was answered so by my Lord, that the King had no more to say in that matter, but said to him, 'My Lord, go to your dinner, and all my Lords here will keep you company; and after dinner I will resort to you again, and then we will commune further with you in this matter.' And so departed the King, and dined that same day with Mistress Anne Boleyn, in her chamber, who kept there an estate more like a queen than a simple maid."
Anne Boleyn's displeasure.
Cavendish then gives an account of the conversation at the table between the duke of Norfolk and the Cardinal, in which the Duke could not forbear from insulting the fallen minister, and hinting at the inten- tion of the King to banish the Cardinal to his diocese of York,—as he afterwards did. From this time the Duke seems to have been the chief adviser of all the measures that were adopted against the Cardinal. An implacable and relentless enemy, he never ceased to persecute his ancient rival until his ruin was completed, and treachery had done its work.
In continuation of his narrative, Cavendish proceeds to report Anne Boleyn's behaviour at table, her conversation with the King, and her reproaches for his unexpected reception of the Cardinal. Though she had now forgotten her former extravagant protestations of gratitude to the Cardinal, and had become one of his bitterest enemies, her shallow and malicious talk suggests the notion that she was the weak and willing instrument of abler heads than her own. "'Sire,' quoth she to the King, 'is it not a marvellous thing to consider what debt and danger the Cardinal has brought you in with all your subjects?' 'How so, sweetheart?' quoth the King. 'Forsooth,' quoth she, 'There is not a man within all your realm worth five pounds, but he hath indebted you unto him' (meaning the late loan). 'Well, well,' quoth the King, 'as for that there is no blame in him, for I know that matter better than you or any other.' 'Nay, Sir,' quoth she, 'besides all that, what things hath he wrought within this realm to your great slander and dishonour. There is never a nobleman within this realm, if he had done but half so much as he hath done, but were well worthy to lose his head. If my lord of Norfolk, my lord of Suffolk, my lord my father, or any other noble person within your realm, had done much less than he, they should have lost their heads ere this.' 'Why, then, I per- ceive,' quoth the King, 'you are not the Cardinal's friend.' 'Forsooth, Sir,' then quoth she, 'I have no cause, nor any other that loveth your Grace; no more have your Grace, if ye consider well his doings.' The waiters, then," says Cavendish, "took up the table, and the conversation ended."
After dinner the King again repaired to the chamber of presence, where the Lords were attending his coming. Taking Wolsey apart into a great window, they conversed very secretly together for a long time. This apparent restoration of confidence was a terrible blow to the Cardinal's enemies. Once more they had recourse to the influence of Anne Boleyn to detach the King from his minister. That night Wolsey proceeded to his lodging at "Master Empson's house, called Euston, three miles from Grafton, being commanded by the King to return early in the morning;" that is, on Monday, the 20th of September, "to the intent they might finish their talk."
According to the authority of one who was present on this occasion, Wolsey met the King again, and sat with him at the Council all the forenoon, and took leave of him in the afternoon, as the King was going out to hunt. On the other hand, the account preserved by Cavendish varies slightly from this statement. (fn. 38) He asserts that the King did not attend the Council, but took his leave in the morning, observing, "he could not tarry." But so far Cavendish agrees with the former authority, that the King parted from the Cardinal without any signs of displeasure. His sudden departure, so much at variance with his resolution the evening before, was due to Mistress Anne, "who rode with him," says Cavendish, "only to lead him about because he "should not return until the Cardinals were gone." She carried him off under pretence of taking him to see a piece of ground for a new park, in which she professed to feel great interest; and she kept the King at dinner until she was sure of the Cardinal's departure.
Campeggio leaves England.
After dinner Wolsey, accompanied by Campeggio, rode to St. Albans, then to the More, and finally to London. The Italian Legate took his journey to Dover shortly before the 10th of October. He was still there on the 12th; "and I have just heard," says Du Bellay, "that upon pretence of want of ships they will not let him pass without consulting about it, for fear he carries off the treasure of the cardinal of York." (fn. 39) This, probably, was no more than a mere excuse for searching the Legate's baggage, in order to discover the secret commission he had brought from Rome, and secure his correspondence with the Pope. Hall affirms that the intention was to learn what letters Wolsey had sent to Rome. "There were," he observes, "but a few letters found, for they were sent before in post;"—a bold assertion, of which there is no proof whatever, and no probability. But Hall, like many others, in the absence of better information, never believed that Wolsey was sincere in his proceedings for the divorce, and credulously accepted any idle story which fell in with this impression. "But in many chests," he says, were found old hosen, old coats, and such vile stuff as no honest man would carry to have it, which much dis- pleased Campeggio." That poverty should be objected to the Cardinal as disgraceful, by a writer who is not sparing of invectives against the luxury of the ecclesiastics, will astonish no one. Hall was ignorant of the fact that Campeggio had been repeatedly urged by the King to abandon all preparations for his journey, as all things necessary would be provided for him by the King's liberality. More than once he had refused large sums of money offered him for this purpose by the bishop of Bath. The King never repeated his offer, or fulfilled his promise; and there is not the least reason for believing, as Hall asserts, that the Legate received any great reward for his arduous services. No minute to that effect is found among the King's payments. But such accusations were as easily made as they were greedily accepted.
Stopped and searched at Dover.
On the contrary, the Legate was treated with a petty malevolence and indignity wholly inexcusable. It is to be remembered that he had visited England at great personal inconvenience and expence to himself, on the King's repeated solicitations. The legation in which he had been employed was far from agreeable. It had been undertaken by him with great reluctance; and if the result of the trial proved otherwise than the King expected, the Legate had only acted according to his instructions. Nothing, therefore, could be more childish or undignified than the petty annoyance to which he was now subjected by the active and impotent malice of his enemies. It would have been more agreeable to find that Henry took no part in this act; but his reply to Campeggio, who had complained of the insult, shows that if the King was not the author of it, he was not dissatisfied with such a contemptible opportunity of manifesting his displeasure.
Henry's answer to his remonstrance.
"I have read your letters," he says, "in which you complain grievously of the disrespect shown to the pontifical dignity, and the violation of your legatine authority, because certain porters of ours have examined your baggage, and a rumor has prevailed that you and the cardinal of York have been guilty of collusion in our cause, and that you would not leave England until this calumny was cleared up, and satisfaction was given for so atrocious a wrong. I cannot sufficiently wonder that your wisdom should exaggerate such trifling offences, and conceive such dire displeasure, as though it were in my power to prevent the rudeness of a mob, or the excessive officiousness of others in the discharge of their duty. As to your legateship, no wrong has been done you by me or mine. Your authority only extended to the termination of my cause; when that was revoked by Papal inhibition it expired, and neither I nor my subjects admit that you have any other. I wonder you are so ignorant of the laws of this country, seeing you are a bishop here, and bound to respect my royal dignity, as not to be afraid to use the title of legate when it has become defunct." He then proceeds to say that the porters had received orders to allow no one to pass, who was legally suspected, even with the King's letters patent, without diligent examination of their baggage. But he regrets that they had not shown greater circumspection and prudence on this occasion. "As to the other part of your complaint, it would be hopeless for you to stay here in expectation of having it redressed by any process. A wise man will pay no attention to ordinary rumors. You may infer from it that my subjects are not very well pleased that my cause has come to no better conclusion. I have reason to doubt your faith, and the integrity of your friendship, when your deeds and your professions so little agree." (fn. 40) Owing to these and other impediments, Campeggio did not cross until the 26th. He arrived in Paris on the 4th of November. (fn. 41)
Wolsey's last sitting at Westminster.
Wolsey, after his return from Grafton, (fn. 42) attended the meetings of the Council at Westminster, as he had been commanded by the King. "There," says Hall, "the Cardinal showed himself much more humblier than he was wont to be, and the Lords showed themselves more higher and stranger." Michaelmas term was at hand. He went to the Hall with his usual train, as Lord Chancellor, for the first day, (fn. 43) but "never sate there more," nor ever again made his appearance in public. His licence to appoint two attornies (fn. 44) to act for him is dated the same day, and we must therefore infer that proceedings against him had already commenced, under the statute of Præmunire, for the exercise of his legatine authority. Hall represents these proceedings as done behind his back; for whilst he sate in the Chancery, "the Lords and others of the King's Council were gone to Windsor to the King, when they informed the King that all things Wolsey had done almost by his power legatine were in the case of the Præmunire and Provision; and that the "Cardinal had forfeited all his lands, goods, and chattels to the King. Wherefore, the King, willing to order him according to the order of his laws, caused his attorney, Christopher Hales, to sue out a writ of Præmunire against him, in the which he licensed "him to make an attorney." (fn. 45)
Pleads for mercy.
The touching letter addressed by him to the King in his disgrace must belong to this date. (fn. 46) It was written either on the very evening of the day on which he sate in the Chancery for the last time, or on the day before. It was thought by lookers-on that he carried a high and haughty countenance, abating nothing of his usual pride, when with undiminished train and all the usual insignia of his office he entered Westminster Hall to take his seat as in the days of his prosperity. They little knew how every fibre of his frame was quivering under the long torture to which he had been so ungenerously subjected. They knew as little the terrible agony and suspense with which he was awaiting the outburst of the storm that was to overwhelm him. Refused admittance to the King, exposed naked and defenceless to his enemies, nothing remained for him except to suffer in silence, uncertain when and how the blow would fall. In this agony of mind he wrote to the King as follows:
"Most gracious and merciful Sovereign lord,—Though that I, your poor, heavy, and wretched priest, do daily pursue, cry, and call upon your Royal Majesty for grace, mercy, remission, and pardon, yet in most humble wise I beseech your Highness not to think that it proceedeth of any mistrust that I have in your merciful goodness, nor that I would encumber or molest your Majesty by any indiscreet or importune suit; (fn. 47) but the same only cometh of an inward and ardent desire that I have continually to declare unto your Highness, how that, next unto God, I desire nor covet any thing in this world but the attaining of your gracious favour and forgiveness of my trespass. And for this cause I cannot desist nor forbear, but be a continual and most lowly suppliant to your benign Grace. For surely, most gracious King, the remembrance of my folly, with the sharp sword of your Highness' displeasure, hath so penetrate my heart, that I cannot but lamentably cry .. and say, Sufficit; nunc contine, piissime rex, manum tuam."
He then urges upon the King the Gospel exhortations, Dimitte et dimittetur vobis; Beati misericordes, &c.; and concludes by styling himself, "Your Grace's most prostrate, poor chaplain, creature, and bedesman, T. Card. Ebor., Miserrimus." (fn. 48)
Expressions so abject seem strangely at variance with our modern notions of manliness and independence. For if by his "folly" Wolsey meant the part taken by him in the divorce, the King had been no less foolish and culpable. He had participated in all the measures, and, so long as it suited his own purposes, had approved of Wolsey's conduct. If he meant by this self-accusation the acceptance of the legatine authority, the King had not only approved and encouraged the assumption of it, but employed his influence with the Pope to procure it. But in condemning the Cardinal for the humiliating terms in which he throws himself upon the King's mercy, it is necessary to consider the difference of style employed in those days towards sovereigns and superiors as compared with our own. Wolsey felt that he was precluded from pleading the consent of his sovereign for infringing the Act of Præmunire, nor did he attempt it. That offence amounted to treason. It involved the forfeiture of his goods. It invalidated all his acts; and all the expences incurred in the erection of his colleges were thus bestowed in vain. Not merely loss of dignity followed (as in our days), but total and irretrievable ruin. In the uncertainty of the law and the inequality of its administration his life was exposed to the malice of his enemies and to popular odium. As the entire legislative and executive power were concentrated in the Crown, not merely in theory but in practice, the courts of law were not independent of royal influence whenever the King was disposed to exert it. None, however innocent, would have found it easy to escape, of whose guilt the sovereign was persuaded. So the position of Wolsey was one to which, happily, under the settled principles of the constitution, and the independent administration of the law, no minister now-a-days is liable.
Is visited by Du Bellay.
In his troubles he was visited by his old acquaintance, Du Bellay, who, more than any other of his political friends, sympathised with the Cardinal in his misfortunes. "I have visited," he says, "the Cardinal in his troubles, and have found in him the greatest example of fortune that any man could ever witness. He has represented (remonstrée) his case to me in the worst rhetoric I ever witnessed, for heart and words entirely failed him. He wept much, and prayed that the king (Francis) and Madame would have pity upon him, if they had found that he had kept his promise to them of being their good servant, so far as his honor and ability would stretch. But at last he left me, without being able to say any other thing more expressive than his countenance, which is deprived of half its animation. I assure you, Monsieur, that his misfortunes are such that his enemies, even though they were Englishmen, could not fail to pity him. Yet, notwithstanding, they will not forbear from persecuting him to the last extremity, and he sees no means of safety, nor do I, except it should please the King and Madame to help him. He desires not legateship, seal of authority, nor influence. He is ready to abandon everything, even to his shirt, and to live in a hermitage, provided his King will not hold him in disfavor. I have comforted him the best that I could, but that is little at the best. Since then he has sent a confidant (fn. 49) to me, to tell me what he would like to have done for him, and it appears to him that it would not interfere with the interest of the king (Francis), if his most reasonable demand were granted;—that is, for the King to write to his master that he has heard a great rumor of his having removed Wolsey from his presence and his favor, in such a way that it was reported that he was to be deprived of his life, which he (Francis) cannot entirely believe; yet, for the fraternal affection between them, and their intimate intercourse in all affairs, he begs the King will not entertain, without due consideration, any bad impressions against those whom the world has once seen in such great authority, and whom he has employed as his instrument in the present amity of the two sovereigns, so renowned throughout all Christendom. And if, perchance, Henry is in any degree dissatisfied with the Car- dinal, Francis would beg of him to moderate his anger, as he is quite sure that those who are about him, and have the management of his affairs, will counsel him to do."
Du Bellay seconded this request to his master by pointing out that no one could take offence at such an interposition in Wolsey's behalf. He urged that Wolsey owed his unpopularity in some measure to the support he had given to French interests, and his wish to be present at the meeting at Cambray. His enemies, says Du Bellay, have insinuated to the King that this was only a device on the Cardinal's part to escape from the dissolution of the King's marriage. Wolsey further requested that, whatever was done in the matter, no hint of this request should be suffered to transpire, still less should it be allowed to reach the King's ears, or it would ruin him entirely. Besides his supposed reluctance to the divorce, his enemies had another great advantage over him. He had maintained, both in peace and war, secret intelligence with Louise; he had, as they asserted, received large presents, and through her influence had refused to send the necessary succors to Suffolk at Mont Didier, in the war of 1523, thus preventing the Duke from taking Paris. He adds, "It is the intention of these Lords, when Wolsey is dead or destroyed, to get rid of the Church, and spoil the goods of both. It is hardly necessary for me to write this in cypher, for they make no secret of their intentions. I suppose they mean to do grand things! ... If the King and Madame are willing to do anything in Wolsey's favor they must make haste; for their letters cannot arrive before he has lost the seal; and though he thinks no more about that, they will be of advantage to him in what comes after. The worst is that Mademoiselle de Boleyn has exacted a promise from her lover that he will never give Wolsey a hearing, for she thinks he could not help showing pity on the Cardinal." (fn. 50)
The Great Seal taken from him.
On the day when this letter was written by Du Bellay, the great seal was taken from Wolsey by the dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk, at six o'clock in the evening, whilst he was sitting in the gallery of his house at Westminster. It was delivered in the presence of Fitzwilliam, Dr. Taylor, Master of the Rolls, and Stephen Gardiner. (fn. 51) Cavendish relates that at their first coming the Dukes made their demand by word of mouth, without exhibiting any commission; and when the Cardinal declined to surrender the great seal without a sufficient warrant, "many stout words" were uttered by these noblemen; whose threats the Cardinal took patiently for the time; "insomuch that the Dukes were fain to depart again without their purpose at that present; and returned again unto Windsor to the King, and what report they made I cannot tell; howbeit the next day they came again from the King, bringing with them the King's letters. After the receipt and reading of the same by my Lord, which was done with much reverence, he delivered unto them the great seal, contented to obey the King's high commandment; and seeing that the King's pleasure was to take his house (York Place) with the contents, was well-pleased simply to depart to Asher (Esher), taking nothing but only some provision for his house." (fn. 52)
His goods seized.
His goods were at once seized to the King's use, and Fitzwilliam and Gardiner were appointed to see that no part of them was embezzled. On the 19th of October Norfolk and Suffolk, with many of the spiritual and temporal Lords, came into the Star Chamber, and declared the causes of Wolsey's deprivation, and were appointed to administer justice in his stead. It was at this time that he was visited by Du Bellay, who still maintained a cordial correspondence with the degraded minister, and wrote in his behalf a second time to the French court. "I shall be glad," he says, "if you will grant the request which Wolsey made to me secretly, by an Italian servant, the only one who has remained faithful to him. On Tuesday, the 19th of October, (fn. 53) the great seal was taken from him, and an inventory was made of all his goods, and commands issued to every one who had been in his service these twenty years, to render a strict account of all they have touched. This has been found difficult, because not a sixth part has been discovered of what was expected ... Wolsey has also been ordered to reply to the charges made against him before the King or the Parliament ... but he preferred to throw himself on the King's mercy; from which, however, he hopes less than nothing, as he has been used with such extreme severity, that, in addition to the loss of all his goods and dignities, he expects to be perpetually imprisoned, and that neither the King nor the Parliament will ever revoke his sentence. The points of which he is accused are robberies and exactions, but these do not amount to mortal offences. They say that when at Amiens he consented to admit the duke of Ferrara into the league without the King's knowledge; that he delivered to Francis a bond, under his hand, without authority; made intimation of war against the Emperor, &c.; and the least of these things, they say, will cost him his life. I fully believe that if Francis and Madame do not come to his relief in all diligence, he will be in great danger ... He begs Francis, for the mercy of God, to protect him from the fury of his enemies, who would bring his grey hairs to the most shameful and miserable end." Du Bellay adds in a postscript to this letter, "Whilst writing this I have learnt that the Legate is put out of his house, and all his goods taken into the King's hands. Besides the exactions with which he is charged, and the dissensions sown by his means between Christian princes, they lay at his door so many other things, that he is entirely lost. The duke of Norfolk is made head of the Council; in his absence the duke of Suffolk; above all is Mademoiselle Anne. It is not as yet known who is to have the seal. I verily believe that the priests will not touch it any more, and that in this Parliament they will have terrible alarms. I see that Dr. Steven (Gardiner) will bear a great stroke in the management of affairs, especially if he will throw off his gown." (fn. 54)
Acknowledges his offences.
On the same day Wolsey signed an indenture, acknowledging that by virtue of his legatine authority he had vexed unlawfully the greater number of the prelates of this realm, and other subjects of the King, incurring thereby the guilt of Præmunire, by which he deserved to suffer perpetual imprisonment at the King's pleasure, and forfeit all his lands and offices. As some atonement for his offences, he prays the King to take into his hands all his temporal possessions, pensions, and benefices, of which he is willing to make further assurance when it shall be required. (fn. 55) He now prepared to leave his house in York Place, and retired to Esher, as the King commanded him; and calling his servants and officers together, had an inventory taken of all his possessions, the tapestry of his gallery, which was hung with cloth of gold, the copes he had provided for his colleges of Oxford and Ipswich, "the richest that ever I saw in England," says Cavendish. The gold and silver plate was piled upon tables. The silks, velvets, and fine linen were arranged according to their different inventories; and the strictest order was taken in expectation of the King's visit, who hungering for the Cardinal's effects, (fn. 56) was anxious to feast his eyes upon his newly gotten riches, "Thus everything being brought into good order," says Cavendish, "he gave the charge of (for) the delivery thereof unto the King, to every officer within his office, of such stuff as they had before in charge, by indenture of every parcel. For the order of his house was such as that every officer was charged by indenture with all such parcels as belonged to their office." (fn. 57)
Retires to Esher.
When all was completed, he proceeded with his gentlemen and attendants to the water-side (with one cross only borne before him), and then took his barge at his privy stairs for Putney. The news of his disgrace attracted a vast concourse of people. Never was a fallen minister more unpopular. The part he had taken in the divorce had steeled the hearts of the popu- lace against him, as he had already lost those of the nobility, the religious orders, and the clergy. Even if he had any friends remaining, who still retained their fidelity towards him, their consciousness of the King's displeasure, however unmerited, prevented them from showing it; for every effort was made by his enemies, and even by men of high character like More, from whom greater magnanimity might have been expected, to inflame the passions of the people against him. (fn. 58) Norfolk and Suffolk, Anne Boleyn, and her friends, devoid of all pity and generosity—how little do men anticipate their own misery!—aggravated his failings, insinuated against him charges they well knew to be false, and inflamed the King's anger by rousing his jealousy and fanning his suspicious temper! As Wolsey stepped into his barge at the foot of the stairs, not less than a thousand boats filled with men and women of the city of London were afloat upon the Thames, waiting for his departure, anxious to gratify their curiosity and feast their eyes on the once great minister, now fallen from his greatness. They expected to see him carried to the Tower, there to expiate on the scaffold crimes of which he never had been guilty. (fn. 59) "I cannot but see," remarks his faithful biographer, "that it is the inclination and natural disposition of Englishmen to desire change of men in authority: most of all, where such men have administered justice impartially."
The King sends him a ring.
Arriving at Putney he mounted his mule, and was shortly after overtaken by Master Norris, who brought him, from the King, a ring with a rich stone in it, as a token of the King's favor. "He added," if we may believe his biographer, Cavendish, "that the King commanded him to be of good cheer;" for though he had dealt unkindly with the Cardinal, as he might suppose, it had only been done to satisfy "the minds of some which he knoweth be not your friends, than for any indignation." When the Cardinal heard the message, "he quickly lighted from off his mule, all alone, as though he had been the youngest person amongst us, and incontinent kneeled down in the dirt, with both his knees, holding up his hands for joy. Master Norris perceiving him so quickly [dismounted] from his mule upon the ground, mused and was astonied. And therewith he alighted also, and kneeled by him, embracing him in his arms, and asked him how he did, calling upon him to credit his message. 'Master Norris,' quoth he, 'when I consider your comfortable and joyful news, I can do no less than to rejoice, for the sudden joy surmounted my memory, having no respect neither to the place nor time, but thought it my very bounden duty to render thanks to God my Maker, and to the King my sovereign lord and master, who hath sent me such comfort, in the very place where I received the same.'"
Sends the King his fool.
The same faithful biographer narrates an incident which shows that Dagonet was not the only fool who retained his loyalty when ladies, knights, and prelates turned recreant, and forgot their vows. After Norris had left, the Cardinal remembered that he had not, as in the days of his prosperity, sent any token of his gratitude to the King. He had with him in his train, among the few who had not forsaken him, his fool, Master Williams, otherwise called Patch, evidently from the parti-colored livery in which he was dressed. Turning to Norris, Wolsey requested him to present the King with "this poor fool," adding, "I trust his Highness will accept him well, for surely, for a nobleman's pleasure, he is worth a thousand pounds." Master Williams, unlike other fools, was not agreeable to the change. He was unwilling to abandon his ancient master, even for advancement in the King's service; and it was only by force, and in the company of six tall yeomen, that he could be induced to comply with Wolsey's wishes.
The motives for this apparent return of favor.
What were the King's intentions in sending this message to the Cardinal, it is not easy to divine. It may be that some ancient spark of generosity and nobleness still lingered in his bosom. He could not but be conscious that he was sacrificing to the machinations of his enemies one who had served him faithfully. To a man of any magnanimity it must have been far more galling, that he had allowed himself to become the unworthy instrument of their malice. That is the most favourable construction which we can put upon his conduct. But it must not be concealed, that there were some about the King, who had opportunities of watching his conduct, who attributed this apparent relenting to unworthier motives. Some, indeed, to the belief that he might still find the Cardinal useful in promoting the divorce, notwithstanding all that had occurred;—a supposition which seems hardly credible. Others again, to the more selfish intention of keeping the Cardinal from total despondency, that he might the better discover where his treasures were preserved, and Wolsey be less inclined to offer any opposition to his designs. (fn. 60) It is possible that both may have had their influence, for Henry was at times subject to the two most opposite and inconsistent impulses,—extreme avarice and lavish generosity,—the most engaging frankness and the most furious and blinding passion. In him the Yorkist and the Lancastrian temper held divided sway.
Whatever hopes Wolsey may have entertained, cooler and more impartial heads than his own took a more gloomy view of his condition. "The downfall of the Cardinal," says Chapuys, the new Imperial ambassador, "is complete. He is dismissed from the Council, deprived of the chancellorship, and constrained to make an inventory of his goods with his own hand, that nothing may be forgotten. It is said that he has acknowledged his faults, and presented all his effects to the King. Yesterday the King returned from Greenwich by water secretly in order to see them, and found them much greater than he had expected. He took with him sa mie (Anne Boleyn), her mother, and a gentleman of his chamber. The Cardinal, notwithstanding his troubles, has always shown a good face, especially towards the town; but since St. Luke's day (18th October) all has been changed to sighs and tears, night and day. The King, either moved by pity, or for fear if he should die the whole extent of his effects would not be found, sent him a ring for his comfort. He has withdrawn with a small attendance to a place ten miles off. They have sent for his son (Winter) from Paris. People say execrable things of him, all of which will be known at this Parliament. But those who have raised the storm will not let it abate, not knowing, if he return to power, what will become of them. The ambassador of France commiserates him most. It was feared the Cardinal would get his goods out of the country, and therefore a strict watch was kept at the ports, and the porters insisted on opening the coffers of cardinal Campeggio, notwithstanding his passport; and on his refusal broke open the locks. He said they had done him great wrong to suppose that he could be corrupted by the Cardinal, when he had been proof against the innumerable presents offered him by the King.
The Chancellor's seal has remained in the hands of the duke of Norfolk till this morning, when it was transferred to Sir Thomas More. Every one is delighted at his promotion, because he is an upright and learned man, and a good servant to the Queen. He was chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster, an office now conferred on Fitzwilliam. Richard Pace, a faithful servant of your Majesty, whom the Cardinal had kept in prison for two years, as well in the Tower of London as in a monastery (Sion House), is set at liberty. Unless his mind should again become unsettled, it is thought he will rise to higher favor in court than ever." (fn. 61)
He adds in a postscript, "Two days after I had written the above, the Cardinal was definitively con- demned by the Council (Court of King's Bench?), (fn. 62) declared a rebel, and guilty of high treason, for having obtained a legatine bull, whereby he had conferred many benefices in the King's patronage. He has been deprived of his dignities, his goods confiscated, and himself sentenced to imprisonment until the King shall decide. This sentence was not given in his presence, but to his two proctors. He will not find it easy of digestion, but worse remains." (fn. 63)
Norfolk takes the lead.
When Wolsey fell into disgrace there was no ecclesiastic of sufficient influence to take his place, or defend the interests of the Church, at a time when those interests were exposed to the greatest peril. In temporal affairs, the direction, for the present, fell into the hands of Norfolk, rather from the sheer force of circumstances and the advantages of his rank than for his great ability. He now found himself, as he thought, without a rival; and was determined, if possible, to continue so. He had borne the Cardinal's superiority long, without betraying his disgust and indignation—for he was a master of dissimulation—and he suspected that on more than one occasion Wolsey, under the pretence of political necessity, had kept him at a distance from the Court. He was therefore resolved that the Cardinal should never return; and undoubtedly it was owing to his counsels that the unfortunate prelate was deprived of the see of Winchester, and sent into exile to his distant diocese of York. But it was easier to banish Wolsey than to supply his place. It was easier to disgrace him than gather up the threads of the various political negociations he held with the ease and steadiness of long experience. The French and Imperial ambassadors soon discovered Norfolk's weak side, and learned how to flatter him to their own advantage. He could not disguise his satisfaction at the court they paid him, or at the discomfiture of his great rival. "How glad the Emperor will be," he said, with a laugh of undisguised complacency, at his first interview with Chapuys,—"how glad he will be when he hears of the Cardinal's fall and his loss of office." "I answered," said the sedate and guarded Spaniard, in solemn tones, which must have sounded like a rebuke to this novice in diplomacy, "I thought perhaps you would; but not from any hatred you had for the Cardinal; for he could have done neither good nor ill to you, and was not of such importance as that you would trouble yourself about his disgrace." (fn. 64) Neither Chapuys nor Du Bellay shared the Duke's opinion of his own ability. "Norfolk," says the latter, "has been made chief of the Council, and in his absence Suffolk, who has had Wolsey's mules; and Master More, chancellor, leaving the Chancery of Lancaster to Master Fitzwilliam. They are beginning to assemble for the Parliament from all parts of the country, during which the King will occupy the house (York Place) which belonged to the Cardinal; and he comes today to see it arranged for his residence. I think the King will leave him York, with some portion of his goods. Should this be so, and these lords not agree, as I suppose they will not, it is not improbable that Wolsey may regain his authority, and therefore I think it will not be bad policy to grant his request." (fn. 65)
Parliament met at Bridewell on the 3rd November. Among its members were Thomas Cromwell, member for Taunton, (fn. 66) his friend and associate Thomas Rushe, who had been often employed with him about Wolsey's new college at Ipswich, and now sate as member for that town; Christopher Jenny, Wolsey's attorney, member for Dunwich; John Hennege, member for Grimsby; and for the county of York, Sir Marmaduke Constable. All of these were more or less friendly to Wolsey. Two knights of the shire, Sir Wm. Gascoyne and Sir John Russell, might fairly be reckoned among the number of those who were not disposed to deal harshly with him. But though the constitution of the House in one respect might not seem unfavorable to Wolsey, it opened with a very bad augury for his friends, and that from a quarter which would scarcely have been expected. The new chancellor (More) "standing on the right hand of the King, behind the bar, made an eloquent oration," in which he took the opportunity of comparing the kingly office to that of a shepherd, whose duty it is not only to preserve his sheep from danger, but also from infection. Then, alluding to Wolsey, he thus proceeded: "As you see that amongst a great flock of sheep some be rotten and faulty, which the good shepherd sendeth from the good sheep, so the great wether which is of late fallen, as you all know, so craftily, so scabbedly, yea, and so untruly juggled with the King, that all men must needs guess and think that he thought in himself that he had no wit to perceive his crafty doing, or else that he presumed that the King would not see nor know his fraudulent juggling and attempts. But he was deceived, for his Grace's sight was so quick and penetrable (penetrating) that he saw him, yea and saw through him ... and according to his desert he hath had a gentle correction." (fn. 67) He added more to the same effect, which I pass over, as little creditable to the candor, good sense, and good taste, for which Sir Thomas was upon the whole remarkable. Such a speech from one of so great and deserved a reputation pressed the more heavily upon the unfortunate minister, who was still lying under disgrace, and had already been indicted for his offences against the statute of Præmunire in the Court of King's Bench. It was foreign to that gentleness for which More, in his own person, was remarkable. It was an offence against that very justice which More in his judicial conduct was so desirous to maintain inviolate; still more in the highest legal functionary of the realm. "In his royal place of equal justice," said Wolsey, "the King hath constituted a chancellor, an officer to execute justice with clemency, whose conscience is opposed by the rigour of the law." (fn. 68) But on this occasion More, unlike himself, was overbearing both law and conscience, forgetting how differently Wolsey had acted towards himself in other and more prosperous days. The King looked on, and showed no sign. If, as More said, "his sight was quick and penetrable," he could not fail to see that all this abuse of Wolsey was displayed by men who only a few months before would have used very different language. He could not but be sure that all this contumely had been incurred by Wolsey in his service and for his sake. He saw and judged accordingly; and not one of those who now thought to recommend themselves by trampling on the fallen ever rose high in Henry's estimation.