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 9
And now comes what may be considered as the gist of this indecent reprimand, for which these false or exaggerated charges were in a great measure devised. Anne Boleyn at this time, after some absence at Hever, had returned to Court. She had been installed with no little magnificence in her apartments at Greenwich. The King had grown weary of his wife's society; weary of that formal decency Wolsey had recommended. He had treated the Queen for some time with cruel coldness and indifference, wished to break off all connection with her, and accustom his subjects to regard Anne as his lawful wife, through he scarcely ventured to bring her nearer the metropolis than Greenwich. The terms on which he now proposed to live with his mistress can scarcely be doubted. The language of his letters leaves but one interpretation probable; and his unrestricted access to her apartments, sine arbitris, more than once hinted at in his letters, points to but one conclusion. (fn. 1) To break this resolution to Katharine, to find some sort of justification for estranging himself utterly from her society for the future, he had recourse to the following device, attributing to Katharine and her malevolence the necessity of his determination, which he leaves others to make known to her, and defend upon false suggestions.
"Considering all this," the speakers are to continue, "the King cannot persuade himself that she loves him as she ought, but that she rather hates him; and, therefore, his Council think that it is not safe for the King to be conversant with her, either at bed or at board, specially after the beginning of the process. They think that if the King has such fear he may lawfully withdraw from her company; and for like suspicion he will not suffer the Princess to come into her company—(the unkindest cut of all!)—which should be a very grievous thing to the Queen, as the Princess should at her age be near her mother for her better education." (fn. 2)
The speakers (fn. 3) are further instructed, as before, to urge Katharine to enter religion. If she still makes a difficulty, they are to say, "that perhaps she thinks, if she did so, the King would marry another; but she need not fear this, for the King could not by law take another wife during her life, nor could the Pope dispense with him to do so." Yet he was at that moment treating with the Pope for such a dispensation. They are to advise her to go boldly to the King, and, with humble submission and prayer that he will be good to her, offer to enter religion, or do any other thing for the ease of his conscience and the security of his succession, so it be not contrary to the laws of God and the Church. This submission will stir the King to have compassion on her; and he will be content, if she enter religion, that she should leave it if sentence be given in her favour. But if she is not conformable he will be much more angry with her than before. (fn. 4)
Conversation of Vives and Katharine.
It is pleasant to turn from this tissue of falsehood, cruelty, and deceit, to the account given by the great scholar Vives of his communications with Katharine at this time. It appears that he was compelled by the King, who was now grown wholly unscrupulous, to reveal the subject of his conversations with the Queen; and he justly complains of the outrage to which he, who was one of her council and a subject of the Emperor, had thus been exposed; "not," he says, "that it could injure any one to relate it, even if it were published at the church doors." He had intended to return to Spain in May, but, at the King's request, remained until Michaelmas, and during the winter, at Katharine's desire, gave the princess Mary lessons in Latin. "The Queen," he continues, "afflicted about this controversy as to her marriage, and thinking Vives well read in morals and consolation, began to open to him, as her countryman who spake the same language, her great distress that the man whom she loved more than herself should be so alienated from her, that he should think of marrying another; and her grief was the greater in proportion as she loved him." Vives replied, that it was an argument that she was dear to God; for it was thus He exercised his own, to the increase of their virtue." Can any one blame me," he asks, "for attempting to console her?" As their talk went on, they proceeded to discuss the cause more warmly. The Queen then desired him to ask the Imperial ambassador (Mendoza) to write to the Emperor to do what was just with the Pope, that she might not be condemned unheard." Who," Vives asks, "will not praise her moderation?" When others would have moved Heaven and earth, she merely desires her sister's son not to suffer her to be condemned without a hearing." (fn. 5) This was the head and front of her offending. What less could she have done, remembering that not merely her own but her daughter's rights were imperilled in the issue.
We turn to him who still for a brief interval occupied the central position of Christendom, and, like the centre on which a great machinery revolves, had to endure the stress, with no benefit to himself, of opposite and contending forces. Servus servorum Dei, in more senses than one, it was to the pope that discontented sovereigns looked for the redress of all their grievances, real or supposed, especially of such as they had no mind themselves to redress. The general servant of all who demanded his services, never was servant more ungratefully treated, or expected to fulfil more irreconcileable and incompatible tasks. Protestant historians paint the spiritual ruler of Christendom, like Jupiter of old, wielding immortal and inexhaustible thunders, ruling over submissive and ignorant subjects, who imagined his displeasure was death and eternal exclusion from the kingdom of Heaven. They conceive of a pope as fulminating interdicts against rebellious nations, and scattering superstitious terrors through the fainting hearts of people, who fell prostrate at the feet of the incensed successor of St. Peter. History knows of no such popes,—of no such kings or people who obeyed them, further than it suited their own interests,—of no such races in whom regard for a spiritual authority rose supreme over their own arbitrary wills and selfish inclinations. It knows of no time when popes or people ceased to be men, or varied very considerably from the type of mankind in general. Such, at all events, was not the case with Clement VII.,—now, unfortunately for himself and his own ease, the central figure against whom the three great sovereigns of Europe were collecting their menaces, and were worrying to death with incessant importunities. He was by nature a quiet, easy-going Pontiff, who would no more have thought of fulminating anathemas, or binding obstinate and refractory monarchs to his behests, than he would have yoked lions and tigers to his chariot. Not he, forsooth! Timid, irresolute, and inoffensive, all he required was to be left unmolested to carry out his own little pet schemes for improving the patrimony of the Church without interruption. For Katharine and her wrongs, if the truth were known, he cared but little, and would have cordially wished them both at the bottom of the sea, but for breach of Christian charity. If Henry could only have been contented to settle his own scruples in his own kingdom, and not insist upon dragging the Pope into the dispute, Clement would have been content. (fn. 6) Hitherto in his political schemes he had experienced nothing but loss, dissatisfaction, and danger. He had found all the grand promises of Wolsey, Francis, and the Venetians, worth nothing in the hour of peril: worst of all, when their aid was most wanted, they had left him in the lurch, and suffered him to bear the burthen alone. Servus servorum Dei! That indeed was a more easy and agreeable privilege on parchment than exemplified in reality, at least with such results as these; and Clement had determined henceforth to trust none but the strongest; and the strongest at this time was the Emperor. He was not the first, he will not be the last, to whom might and right seemed identical. It was the main object of his policy at this conjuncture to recover Cervia and Ravenna from the hands of the Venetians; and as their restoration was to be the price of his favour, he let it be known significantly enough, that he expected his wish should be respected. But Venice was the ally of France and of England; and without offending the Venetians Wolsey could not gratify the Pope. Still he did his best to urge the demand; he made a show at least of assenting to the Pope's wishes; and so long as Clement had any expectation in that quarter he turned no unfavourable ear to the King's cause. Even when that hope was extinguished he had not ceased to alarm the Imperialists by seeming to favour the King's cause, to make them more pliable to his project. "Rely on it," said he, "though the Venetians retain what belongs to me, I shall get the cities back. Either I shall ruin myself utterly, or I shall ruin them." (fn. 7) This then was his dearest object: not Imperial favours, not divorce or no divorce, not stemming the tide of Lutheranism or resisting the Turks; but the alpha and the omega of his political creed was the recovery of Cervia and Ravenna. As this hope was more or less distant, as he had greater or less expectations of seeing it realised, he trimmed his complacency to the King or the Emperor.
The Pope not so tractable.
Disgusted with the dilatory proceedings of Campeggio, and his evident reluctance to proceed with the divorce, Wolsey had written to Sir Gregory Casale, the English resident at Rome. He complained that the Legate would not show his commission, nor obey the King's commands. On representing these complaints to the Pope, "his Holiness laid his hand upon my arm," says Casale, "with expressions of anger, forbidding me to proceed. He complained that he was deceived by those in whom he had trusted; that he had granted the commission only to be shown to the King and be burnt forthwith, and this upon the most urgent entreaties, to prevent manifest ruin, whereas Wolsey now wished to make it public. 'I see,' said he, 'how much evil is likely to follow, and I would gladly recall what has been done, even to the loss of one of my fingers.' 'But,' replied the ambassador, 'it was applied for in order that it might be shown to a few, whose secresy could be depended on. What has induced your Holiness to change your sentiments?' 'At this,' says Casale 'he grew more angry and more excited, saying the bull would be the ruin of him, and that he would make no further concessions.' 'But,' said I, 'consider what ruin and what heresy will be occasioned in England by alienating the King's mind. If the concession has been an evil, it is only a less evil to avoid a greater.' Then, falling on my knees before him, I begged of him to have some consideration for the King, to reflect on the peril of losing his friendship, and the danger we should incur who had always been his faithful servants.
"Hereupon, tossing his arms about, he exclaimed in the greatest agitation, 'I do consider the ruin which now hangs over me. I repent of what I have done. If heresies arise, is it my fault? My conscience acquits me. None of you have reason to complain. I have performed my promise, and the King and the Cardinal have never asked anything in my power which I have not granted with the utmost promptness. But I will not do violence to my conscience. Let them, if they like, send the Legate back again, and 'then do as they please, provided they do not make me responsible for their injustice.' 'Well,' said I, 'is your Holiness unwilling that proceedings shall be taken under this commission?' 'No,' said he. 'But, I rejoined, 'Campeggio opposes your wish, and dissuades the divorce.' 'Well,' said the Pope, 'I ordered him to do so; but he is to execute his commission.' 'Then we are at one, Holy Father,' said I; 'and if so, what harm can there be in showing the decretal, under an oath, to some few of the Privy Council?' He shook his head, and said, 'I know what they intend, but I have not yet read Campeggio's letters out of England. Come again tomorrow.'"
On his second interview with the Pope, Casale found him still firm in refusing to let the bull be shown to any one, saying that Campeggio ought to have burnt it, if he had followed his instructions. On submitting Wolsey's complaint that Campeggio refused to proceed to sentence until he had communicated with his Holiness, the Pope replied, "that he would proceed whenever it was required, but he was instructed to send word to Rome when the process commenced." "On my assuring him," says Casale, "that he had granted a commission, according to Wolsey's "statement, and had consented that it should be shown" to certain of the King's counsellors, he became very angry, and said, 'I will show you the Cardinal's letters, and they and my word are as much to be trusted as the letters you now produce.' Reverting, after a short interval, to the same subject, he forbade me to proceed; and no efforts on my part, or of my brother Sir Gregory, have succeeded in shaking his resolution." (fn. 8)
Attempts to shelve the brief.
This letter was evidently written before any discussion had arisen respecting the brief. Till the genuineness of that document had been determined, no further steps could be taken in the process; for the brief of Julius II., unexpectedly produced by the Queen in her own defence, removed all the objections on which Henry had relied for procuring a divorce. It was even more ample than the bull itself obtained by Henry VII., when, in a fit of parsimony, he resolved to marry the widow of Arthur to his second son, rather than return her dowry. As if in anticipation of these attempts to invalidate the marriage, Ferdinand, unknown to his English ally, had obtained this document from Rome. He resolved to make assurance doubly sure, and correct any possible error or flaw in the bull that might give occasion to ingenious canonists to question its efficiency. How then could Clement be invoked to declare a marriage illegal, which his predecessor had legalised with such premeditative stringency ? So long as the brief remained in the Emperor's hands, what was to prevent him from exhibiting it in the Papal Court, and quash at once the proceedings of the Legates? In this emergency two courses remained: either it must be obtained from the Emperor to prevent it from being exhibited in the Queen's favor, or its force be invalidated by imputations of forgery. It could not be found in the registers at Rome: so, at least, the English alleged. It was not in England, where they equally assumed it ought to have been. It must be of the same date as the bull, and they equally assumed the improbability of both being issued on the same day. But their strongest argument against its genuineness consisted in the fact that it was not dated according to ordinary usage; for in such instruments the year was computed from Christmas Day; and, if this assumption was correct, Julius was not then Pope.
It will be admitted that these were feeble and flimsy presumptions, which might at once be dispelled by the production and inspection of the document itself. If, therefore, Henry could obtain it from Spain, and prevent its production, or delay it until after the Pope had been persuaded to pronounce it a forgery, ex cathedra, the King's purpose would be secured. To this object he now directed all his efforts, intimidating Katharine, as we have seen, through means of her own advocates, personally compelling her under an oath to write to the Emperor, and demand it, as of herself, as if her life and her marriage depended on its production. (fn. 9) But as the Emperor's influence was now rapidly increasing in Italy, and his Holiness, from dearly-bought experience, was in extreme dread of another Imperialist attack on his capital, it was not to be expected that he would take such an extraordinary step as the King and the Cardinal required. "Never," says a correspondent of the time, "was the Pope more afraid of the Imperialists than now, as many of them who were present at the sack of Rome are still there, in great triumph and reputation; whilst the Emperor's ambassador, the archbishop of Capua, and others of the Cæsarians, susurr (whisper) daily in the Pope's ears, sometimes advising and sometimes threatening the Pope for granting the commission," to Campeggio and Wolsey.
To obviate this difficulty Wolsey offered to provide the Pope with a "presidy" (a body guard), to be raised at the joint expence of the kings of France and England, as a defence of his person. The device was a little too transparent; but Wolsey never seems to have been aware, or was never willing to believe, that more was known of the King's intentions than he was willing should be known. Whilst the Pope and the Emperor, and even the French king, were perfectly cognizant of all that was going on, the King and the Cardinal imagined that their proceedings were enveloped in secrecy. They had, as they thought, completely isolated Katharine from all correspondence with the external world. They had so carefully surrounded her with spies, that she could not even write a letter without being detected. They had prevented, as they thought, all remonstrance on her part; and had even given out, without dread of contradiction, that she coincided in her husband's proceedings, and believed he was solely influenced by the purest and most religious intentions. There were to be found people in England, at least a few, who affected implicitly to believe all this; and there are some who are credulous enough to believe it still. Out of England, where liberty of speech was greater, and discussion unrestricted, it was otherwise. When Wolsey proposed this new device for protecting and managing the Pope, he was told by Knight that the French would easily detect the artifice; that this pretence of furthering the interest of Francis, and obstructing the Emperor's influence in Italy, would be regarded by them as a device for obtaining his own ends at the expence of the French king. (fn. 10) What those ends were the Cardinal did not scruple to inform the ambassador:—by taking this presidy the Pope would be brought to have "as much fear and respect towards the King's highness as he now hath towards the Emperor, and consequently be the gladder to grant and condescend unto the King's desire." (fn. 11) Such a device does not show on the Cardinal's part any profound estimation of Clement's intellect or political sagacity: but he was not to be so easily imposed upon.
The truth is, that the Cardinal, now caught like a bull in the toils, was making desperate plunges to escape from the difficulties he must have foreseen, clearer than any man, were gathering round him, and foreboding his ruin. It was he, as Clement acknowledged, who, contrary to the advice of other nobles and prelates in England, had been mainly instrumental in obtaining a Legate from the Pope to try he cause. He had done this, in the first instance, trusting to his own power and ability of bending both papal representatives and the Pope himself to his wishes. In the second, he doubtless imagined that, by adopting this course, he was maintaining the authority of the Papacy in England; as it would certainly have been maintained, if Clement had authorised the divorce instead of opposing it. Two months and more had passed since Campeggio's arrival in England, and nothing had been done. What was the exact nature of his commission no one knew, and Wolsey had endeavored to discover in vain. The Legate had contented himself with attempting to dissuade Henry from his intention, but as yet he had shown no inclination to proceed to trial, nor could any one tell whether he would proceed, or when. The King and his mistress were growing angry and impatient. In their certainty of obtaining the divorce they had anticipated marriage, unless Du Bellay is guilty of a calumny. With more than royal ingratitude which characterised Henry's treatment of his servants, when they were no longer successful in ministering to his desires, the King now vented his reproaches on the Cardinal for the failure of his schemes, forgetful within how short a period before he had warmly applauded them. "The King has told me," says Mendoza, "that he has begun to lay the blame upon the Cardinal, who, he says, has not fulfilled his promises in the matter. All that he has done hitherto has been to desire the King and the Pope to frighten the Queen, so that she should of her own accord enter religion. Nevertheless, he has secretly intimated to Campeggio that, if she refuse, no further use shall be made of the commission." (fn. 12) The lady was not a whit behind her future husband in manifesting her exasperation against the minister for whom, a few months before, she had expressed eternal gratitude. "Wolsey," says Du Bellay, "is in great difficulty, for matters have gone so far that if the divorce do not take effect the King will lay the blame of it on him ... Cheiny, whom you know, had offended the Legate some days past, and for that reason was put out of Court. The lady has put him in again, in spite of the Cardinal, not without using rude words to Wolsey. The duke of Norfolk and his party already begin to talk high, but they have a shrewder one to deal with than themselves." (fn. 13) A few weeks later Mendoza writes: "The lady who is the cause of all this disorder, finding her marriage delayed that she thought herself so secure of, greatly suspects that the Cardinal puts impediments in her way, from a belief that if she were Queen his power would decline. In this suspicion she is joined by her father, and the two dukes, Suffolk and Norfolk, who have combined to overthrow him. As yet they have made no impression on the King, except that he does not show the Cardinal in court so fair a countenance as he did, and it is said he has had some bitter words with him." (fn. 14) Even the underlings of the party began to open their mouths, and, with the malignity of mean and ignoble natures, to show their contempt for the man, the dust of whose feet they would have licked up a few days before. His servants began to fall from him, and look out for preferment elsewhere. "Who would kneel before the Cardinal," Norris was heard to say, "for an office of 2d. a day?" (fn. 15)
Is betrayed by Francis.
The ground was sinking beneath his feet; but he was betrayed in a quarter he certainly never anticipated, and had perhaps little reason to suspect. Of all the ambassadors in England Du Bellay had the greatest influence with him; and to Du Bellay, more than once, he had expressed his anxiety to maintain the most amicable relations with Francis. To promote the French alliance he had exposed himself to general unpopularity at home; he had opposed his colleagues in the Council; he had refused the most flattering and splendid offers made by the Emperor. Francis and the Queen mother had repeatedly professed the warmest gratitude for his services, affected to consider him as the saviour of their country, consulted him in all things, and apparently kept no secrets from him. "I think Wolsey would not be pleased," says Du Bellay to Montmorenci, "if I did not tell you of his causing farces to be played here in French with grand display, saying at the conclusion that he wished nothing should be here that was not French in word and deed." (fn. 16) He had put great trust in Francis, and in his repeated asseverations of defying and invading the Emperor. It was in the hope of being readily supported by the French king that he had proposed this new "presidy" for the Pope. But Francis, like the rest of the world, was lighter than vanity and deficient on the weights. An impostor, though a royal one, he had already,—or his mother, and that was the same,—with all his professions of hostility to the Emperor, been employed in making covert arrangements for a treaty with Charles. "I have been secretly informed by two men of credence," writes Hacket, "that the French king and the Regent have a secret conveyance (communication) with my lady (Margaret) and Hoghestrat to make peace with the Emperor, unknown to the King or Wolsey. My lady (Margaret) said last night that Madam de Pinnay (Espinay), who came lately from France, was told by the French king to show verbally to my Lady that the French king is willing to come to an agreement with the Emperor, and that if the Emperor and he were at agreement they would cause the King (Henry) to leave some fantasy that he has afore him. Told my Lady that it was indiscretely spoken for a noble prince. She answered, 'Monsieur l'Ambassadeur, you may do all that you like to oblige the French, but when you have done all you will find they are not to be trusted." (fn. 17)
Wolsey at first treated this unwelcome intelligence with apparent disregard; for Hacket, in no esteem for sagacity, was only an agent in the court of Flanders, and was liable to be imposed upon. On repetition of the news with further particulars, he sent for Du Bellay, communicated what he had heard, and on his putting a fair and false face on the matter professed to be contented with his explanation. "In short, Monsieur, as good fortune would have it," writes Du Bellay to Montmorenci, "I satisfied the Legate on this head completely. Not to trouble you with a long story, he showed by his words that this affair was thoroughly justified, and he would undertake to tell his master, on pain of his head, that it was a malicious invention of the enemy." (fn. 18) Unless this lively Frenchman was trusting too much to his imagination, the easiness with which Wolsey neglected this affair was by no means consistent with his general character. Francis, as might be expected, found ample reasons for declining to furnish a presidy for the Pope. (fn. 19)
The Pope's sickness.
Notwithstanding all the Cardinal's urgency, and the despatch of Gardiner on the heels of his colleagues, he was condemned to bitter and unexpected disappointment. Before Gardiner could reach his destination, the Pope fell ill of a fever. (fn. 20) The disease continued with various relapses until the end of March; reports flew about in all directions of the Pope's death, creating all the disturbance and excitement consequent on such an expected event. In this state of things, to obtain from the Pope any decision on the forgery of the brief, or on other points entrusted to the English ambassadors, was out of the question. The attention of all men was exclusively turned in one direction,—the immediate death of the Pope, and the nomination of his successor. The three sovereigns of Europe prepared for the struggle with an earnestness worthy of the occasion; for at no time in the Papacy had more important results depended on the personal character and inclinations of the occupant of St. Peter's chair. If he was an Imperialist, as in all probability he would be, all hope would be lost of the King's divorce, and its mismanagement would by the King be visited in fire and fury on the Cardinal. If, on the other hand, a cardinal were elected favorable to England, the opposite result might be confidently expected. The conduct of Francis was regulated, as ever, by his hopes of extracting the greatest advantage for himself out of the difficulties of others. He professed to Wolsey the utmost desire to serve him in securing for him the Papal tiara. His assistance in reality began and ended with his professions.
The effect of the news on Wolsey and his master.
The news reached this country in the beginning of February; the King, or Wolsey in his name, hastened to give the requisite instructions to Gardiner and his associates, then on their way to Rome. (fn. 21) They are informed of the danger that must ensue to the See Apostolic unless some resistance be offered to the inordinate ambition of the Emperor, who studies to suppress the Church for his own exaltation. "Of the remedy which the King had expected from the Head of the Church, he will be deprived, if the future Pope be not a person of whom he is perfectly assured. All Cardinals considered, none can be found possessing the "necessary qualifications required, except Wolsey himself, who is well known to have as fervent zeal as any for the tranquillity of Christendom, the restoration of the authority and rights of the Church and the See Apostolic, the weal and exaltation of the kings of England and France and their allies, and also for the perfection of the King's cause. ... The King, therefore, desires them to use every means to advance Wolsey's election, as upon it depends the making or marring of the King's cause." (fn. 22) After informing them that Francis had spontaneously offered to use his influence in Wolsey's behalf, he sends them a list of the Cardinals likely to take part in the election, with an indication of their supposed votes. Thirty nine Cardinals were expected to be present; twenty were thought to be friendly; six only required to be gained. If the Cardinals assembled, with the fear of God and the Holy Ghost before them, consider what is best for the Church, they will agree upon Wolsey; "but as human fragility suffers not all things to be weighed in just balances, the ambassadors are to make promises of spiritual promotions, offices, dignities, rewards of money, and other things, to show them what he will give up if he enters into this dangerous storm and troublous tempest for the relief of the Church; all of which benefices shall be given to the King's friends, besides other large rewards." To obviate any apprehension that in the event of his election he might wish to reside at Avignon, or "any other place away from Rome," they are to give assurance that he will resign all his dignities, and have "no convenient habitation" out of it. Precautions are to be taken that the French cardinals join with them in a protestation against any election by Imperialists alone. If necessary, they are to leave the conclave, and proceed with the election elsewhere. (fn. 23)
Much virtuous and cheap indignation has been lavished on Wolsey's overweaning ambition in thus seeking the Papacy. It would be more to the purpose, if it were possible, to decide exactly what were his motives for seeking it; and how far, in so doing, he was acting in his own behalf, or was desirous of bringing to a speedy and successful termination the cause in which he was unhappily entangled. There might be, there probably were, other reasons than those of vulgar ambition by which he was prompted on this occasion. It is, however, idle to speculate upon them. Happily, before the ambassadors could reach Rome, or put any devices in practice for his successor, the existing occupant of the papal chair recovered from his tedious illness. About the 19th of March he gave formal audience to the English ambassadors, possibly with no other intention than of getting rid of their importunities, and convincing them that he had neither the strength nor inclination to attend to business. (fn. 24)
Clement recovers, but remains as obdurate as before.
Long before (fn. 25) Sir Gregory Casale had warned the Cardinal against entertaining any expectations from Rome. "I do not know," he says in a letter to his brother Vincent, then in England, "what to hope of Dr. Stephens' (Gardiner's) mission, or how far the Pope ought to pronounce the breve produced by the Queen a forgery. I think his Holiness will do nothing; and you may tell Wolsey so, in the event of his desiring my opinion. I hear you have told him that if the Pope's fears were removed, he would do everything for the King, licita et illicita. But if you remember rightly, I told you the Pope would do all that could be done; but there are many things the Pope says he cannot do ... and so he will say of this brief, that he cannot decide against a brief emanating from Pope Julius, in the event of its being brought from Spain, without examination. But suppose he would, they cannot remove the fears of the Pope by a guard of 2,000 foot ... If you remember, one of my reasons for sending you to England was to tell the King and Wolsey that they should make some other arrangement, because, if the Pope's fears were entirely removed, he will never do what we want him (declare the brief to be a forgery)." (fn. 26) The reports from the English ambassadors were all in the same strain. The Pope, they said, would do nothing for the King, for "though it might well be in his Pater Noster, it was nothing in his Creed." (fn. 27)
The King and Wolsey redouble their importunity.
Neither the King nor Wolsey would admit the unwelcome intelligence. The ambassadors must have been deceived; they must have allowed themselves to be unreasonably discouraged, and therefore must make up for their lukewarmness by greater urgency. The King's Council had examined the copy of the brief produced from Spain, and found in it divers notable defaults. The Pope or any other person would easily see that "all was craft, color, and falsity." "This constant recurrence to a thing forged, feigned, and untrue, was a proof that the whole matter of matrimony was void and of none effect." As the Pope's health is uncertain, the greater is the necessity, while God gives him time, to put an end to this just cause, lest, wilfully suffering a thing of such high importance to remain unreformed, "in the doing whereof Almighty God worketh so openly, he should incur God's displeasure, and die without reforming it." (fn. 28)
The Pope will not pronounce the brief to be forged.
As the hopes of success grew fainter, the more urgent grew the King and his minister, the more reluctant were they to face the unpalatable truth. Henry wonders at their despair. He can see nothing but towardness in the disposition of the Pope. Common fame must have led them to think the contrary. Campeggio is of far other sort than reported, and has not such affection for the Emperor as was suspected. They must return to their duties, and use all diligence in urging the King's cause, pretermitting no time in the diligent handling and execution of their charge. (fn. 29) Wolsey is still more importunate, with not less reason. Not a single step had yet been gained in securing the King's great object. The marriage remained undissolved; Katharine was still Queen. With all the efforts that could be made to shake her resolution by selfish and deceitful advisers, with all the threats and more than threats of the King's displeasure, with the most splendid promises of honor and emoluments for herself and her daughter, she still persistently refused to enter a convent. Treated in public by her husband with ceremonious courtesy, she was condemned to see a rival taking her place and usurping her honors in her own household. Surrounded by spies who watched every motion,—a victim of the hatred and jealousy of her husband—too suspicious to set her free, lest she should become the head of a party against him—too alienated to treat her merely with kindness or respect,—she was condemned to a miserable life; yet bore it all without complaining, without openly showing she was sensible of her wrongs. Yet depart from her rights and those of her daughter, she would not. So all schemes to that effect had failed. Failed still more when Vannes wrote to the King that his project was useless; for if the Queen entered religion, the Pope, according to the opinion of the learned at Rome, could not grant a dispensation to the King to marry again. (fn. 30) The Boleyns, furious at their disappointment, scrupled not to attribute the ill success of these measures to Wolsey. They insinuated that his fear of being supplanted by Anne Boleyn's influence was the real cause of failure. Nor is it improbable that such a thought may have crossed the Cardinal's mind, when he saw how readily she had transferred her gratitude from himself to Gardiner, who now stood high in her favor, and by her influence with the King, as well as by his own talents, was rising into dangerous competition with the Cardinal for the King's favor. Their suspicion of Wolsey's sincerity was unfounded. He had urged the cause with all the energy and earnestness of a drowning man. He tells the ambassadors that they have dissembled their want of activity by alleging the successes of the Imperialists and the Pope's sickness; that they have reasonable and necessary grounds for communicating the principal parts of their charge to the Pope, etiam in ipso articulo mortis; for if the Pope mends, no respect or cause can reasonably be alleged to prevent his accomplishing the King's desire; and if he is in danger of his life, so much the worse would it be for his conscience to let one hour pass, or one minute, in determining the cause. If the Pope is in danger of his life, which Wolsey evidently imagined was only a diplomatic evasion, what, he exclaims, could be more meritorious towards God, or more honorable towards the world, than to bequeath peace and quiet to the flock committed to his care? Alas for rhetoric and humanity! All this eloquence, sentiment, and importunity was thrown away. On the 21st April Clement wrote a short letter to Henry VIII., regretting that in consequence of his illness he could not give audience to the English ambassadors, nor declare the brief a forgery until he had heard both sides. (fn. 31)
It is not easy to see at what other conclusion the Pope could have arrived consistently with the least respect to himself or his high position. Even a man of much less firmness and self-respect than Clement would have hesitated before he committed himself to such an extraordinary step as to pronounce a brief of his predecessor to be forged, on an ex parte statement, when he had not yet seen the original. It did not indicate much insight into human character on the part of Henry and the Cardinal to imagine that Clement, on the strength of a few civil phrases, or out of some supposed gratitude to the English monarch, to whom his obligations were of the slenderest kind, would depart from the ordinary course of justice; still more when such departure was virtually opposed by his own Cardinals, and was sure to expose him to the anger and importunities of the Imperialists. He offered, indeed, to send to Spain for the original. But this the ambassadors declined. They wanted an immediate decision, and were not very modest in pressing their demands. Gardiner, the most able, fierce, and intrepid among them, before whose stormy and rapid invectives the Pope in his weakness and vacillation quailed and writhed in agony, saw clearly that no inducements would shake him out of his neutrality. He would not personally interpose in the matter. The Pope, he tells Henry, is a man who never resolves on anything unless compelled by some violent affection. ... He is in great perplexity, and seems willing to gratify the King if he could, but when it comes to the point he does nothing. "Wherefore, if my Lord Campeggio will set apart all other respects, and frankly promise your Highness to give sentence for you, then must be your Highness' remedy short and expedite; nor then shall want wit by any other means to meet with such delays as this false counterfeit breve hath caused. For with these men here your Highness shall by no suit profit. ... Wherefore, doing what I can yet to get the best, although we be fully answered therein, I shall do what I can to get the commission (to Wolsey and Campeggio) amplified." The brief, he adds, is the sacra anchora of the cause, but if he were in England he thinks he could urge objections against it that would not be without effect apud judicem propitium. (fn. 32)
The Pope is impracticable.
Bryan wrote with more bluntness, as his disappointment was greater. Anne Boleyn was his cousin; he had espoused her cause warmly, and at the commencement of his negotiations had written to her in sanguine expectation of success. He had been sent by Henry rather to watch the case, and inform the King of the proceedings of his associates, than to render any effectual aid. For this he was not well fitted by abilities or education. Like Suffolk he had gained the King's favor, and became a participator in his secrets and his pleasures, by other arts than those of the moralist and philosopher. "I assure your Grace that Master Stevyns (Gardiner), Master Gregory (Casale), Master Peter (Vannes), and I, have done and caused to be done, by all our friends now (at Rome), touching your Grace's causes, as myche as we think possible is to be done; and as your Grace shall more plainly see by your former letter (by our former letter) written to my lord Cardinal, concerning the answer of the Pope, whereby ye shall parsayve that plainly he will do nothing for your Grace. ... There is not one of us but that hath essayed him by fair means and foul, but nothing will serve. And whosoever hath made your Grace believe that he would do for you in this cause, hath not, as I think, done your Grace the best service. (fn. 33) Always your Grace hath done for him in deeds"—(Bryan reiterates the jargon of the Court),—"and he hath recompensed you with fair words and fair writings, of which last I think your Grace shall lack none; but as for deeds I never believe to see. ... Sir, I trust never to die but that the Pope and Popes shall have, as they have had, need of your Grace, and that I trust your Grace will quite them, and be no more fed with their flattering words. Sir, I write a letter to my cousin Anne, but I dare not write to her the truth of this, because I do not know whether your Grace will be contented that she should know it so shortly (abruptly) or no; but I have said to her in my letter that I am sure your Grace will make her privy to all our aims." (fn. 34)
Reasons for Campeggio's inactivity.
Tedious as this part of the narrative may appear—tedious as were the events themselves to those who were engaged in them—it cannot be dispensed with, if the reader desires to understand the course of the divorce, and guard himself against the misapprehensions of ancient and of modern historians. Campeggio had remained inactive in England ever since his arrival. Seven months and more had elapsed, and the trial had not yet commenced. Its commencement seemed as doubtful, if not as distant, as ever. But the delay is not to be attributed to the Papal Legate or the Papal Court. It arose wholly from the King himself. Shortly after Campeggio's arrival, to the surprise and disappointment of the King and his advisers, Katharine had exhibited a copy of the brief granted by Julius II., overruling the objections on which the King had relied for substantiating the invalidity of his marriage. If it were produced here or at Rome, it was impossible that the Pope or the Papal Legates could refuse to entertain it. Equally impossible was it for them to treat it as a forgery, whilst the original was in existence. To prove it a forgery was impossible so long as the document remained in the hands of the Emperor. If the Legates demurred to the production of an authenticated copy, an appeal was open to the Queen. She could allege that the original would be produced before the Pope; for the Emperor had already announced his intentions of delivering it to the Pope by no other hands than his own. (fn. 35) From this dilemma the King saw no escape, except to compel Katharine to write in the most earnest terms to Charles to send her the original;—of which, it is easy to see, she would not long have retained possession. That failing, every device was employed to prevail upon the Pope to declare it a forgery, and thus render useless any subsequent attempt at its production by the Em peror. But the Pope, as we have seen, declined pronouncing an opinion until the original was before him. The original delivered by the Emperor's hands, with a host at his back, was not to be unceremoniously treated, even if the Pope's inclination to oblige the King had been much stronger than it was. Thus months were wasted over this preliminary difficulty, and as the Pope refused to remove it, nothing remained but to prepare for trial.
Wolsey, in anticipation of this necessity, had given instructions, as we have seen, to Gardiner to get the commission to Campeggio and himself so far amplified that the powers entrusted to them on this occasion should want nothing of the Pope's ordinary and absolute jurisdiction. He desired authority to overrule all disputes, to compel princes and others to produce whatever documents might be required, "so that they should have no cause to send to the Pope again." (fn. 36) In his mission Gardiner partially succeeded, but not entirely to Wolsey's satisfaction. The commission, as procured by him, was returned with the Cardinal's additions and annotations; but how "to get it devised anew, and regranted with additions," without fresh solicitation, and exciting suspicions in the Pope's mind, was the difficulty. To this end Gardiner was directed to tell the Pope that the copy he had received "was so much defaced and injured by wet and carriage," that it had been detained upon its journey, and the messenger was likely to be blamed unless another could be obtained in its place. To save trouble, he was instructed to tell the Pope that he is prepared to write it out afresh according to the best of his remembrance, taking the precaution to insert "other as pregnant, fat, and available words." (fn. 37)
The Emperor bestirs himself in Katharine's behalf.
But whilst the Cardinal was pursuing this object with his usual energy, the Emperor, who had now resolved to espouse the cause of Katharine, with no less ardour, was employing all his interest at Rome to get rid of the commission. He had already applied to the Pope to remove the cause from England. (fn. 38) His minister Mai had ably seconded the Emperor's request, but the same obstacle which the English had found in their way was equally a bar to their antagonists. In his illness the Pope would listen to neither party. The ambassadors of both nations came face to face in April. They were well matched, and victory might have long remained undecided if Charles had delayed his expedition into Italy. Whatever might have been the inclination of the Emperor to interpose in favor of his aunt, he laboured under one disadvantage. He had received no authority to act in her behalf. Hitherto, Katharine had been so jealously guarded that she had been unable to communicate her intentions to any one; but now, by the assistance of Mendoza, she had contrived to lodge with the bishop of Burgos a protest against all proceedings in England. Her protest was duly laid before the Pope, but did not at once produce the effect that might have been anticipated, for he was still inclined to believe that it would have been better for Katharine to have entered a nunnery. Finally, after considerable discussion he consented to admit the protestation, and promised to revoke the cause. (fn. 39)
It was impossible that this resolution on the part of the Pope should not reach the ears of Henry's agents. "The English ambassador," says Mai, writing to Charles V., "pressed the Pope hard to declare the brief a forgery." We may accept his assertion, without hesitation, that, driven to desperation, and hopeless of obtaining any further concessions from his Holiness, the English ambassadors assailed the head of the Church with terms anything but courteous. "Master Stevens," says Brian to Henry VIII., "so answered for your Grace that he made the Pope ashamed of his own deeds, who would have excused the cause as best he could." (fn. 40) In the less guarded language of the Spaniard, the English held an interview with the Pope, from which they came away hot, impetuous, and exasperated. Every day saw them further from success, and every day less easy in their relations with the Pope, who had now from various causes resolved to turn a deaf ear to the King's entreaties.
The trial is pushed on by Wolsey.
As soon as this determination became known in England, the King and the Cardinal resolved to push on the trial without further delay. Trusting to overcome all difficulties by a vigorous prosecution of the suit, they hoped to arrive at a satisfactory conclusion before the Pope, whose vacillation was well known, could find an opportunity for interfering. The policy adopted by Wolsey was now altered. The Ambassadors were no longer to press the Pope to send into Spain for the brief, but to use their efforts and oppose all importunity on the part of the Imperialists for revoking the commission, and avoid every occasion of irritating the Pope or rousing his suspicions. (fn. 41) It is clear from Campeggio's correspondence that neither the King nor Wolsey believed that the Pope had any serious intention of insisting on the revocation. They had flattered themselves that he was still favorable to the King, and had only been driven to this course through dread of the Imperialists. They had, therefore, persuaded themselves that if the cause were decided in England he would be loth to take any step obnoxious to the King, and injurious to his own influence. (fn. 42) As he had already expressed a wish "that he would for the wealth of Christendom the Queen were in her grave; saying also that he thought, like as the Emperor has destroyed the temporalities of the Church, so shall she be the cause of the destruction of the spiritual-ities," it did not seem probable that one who entertained such opinions would willingly expose himself to all the trouble and the odium he was certain to incur by direct opposition to the King's wishes. If those who were more immediately interested in her defence were so slow in interposing in her behalf, why should he who was less concerned than others sacrifice his repose and his interest for the sake of one whom all had abandoned?"
The Legatine court at Blackfriars.
It was towards the end of May, at least according to our modern computation, and not at the beginning of the year, as Hall asserts, that a court was erected in the Great Hall of Blackfriars, London, "as a solemn place for the two legates to sit in, with two chairs covered with cloth of gold, and cushions of the same and a dormant table railed before, covered with carpets and tapestry." (fn. 43) On the right side of the court a cloth of estate was placed, with a chair and cushions for the King, and on the opposite side a similar chair for the Queen. Within the circuit of the court, and immediately in front of the Judges, sat the Archbishop and the rest of the Bishops. The counsel for the King consisted of Dr. Sampson and Dr. Bell; for the Queen, of Clerk bishop of Bath, Standish bishop of Saint Asaph, and Dr. Ridley, a severe critic of Tyndall's New Testament. The Legates appeared with their usual insignia of "crosses, pillars, and axes, and all ceremonies belonging to their degree, on the 31st May;" and after they had taken their seats, Wolsey sitting on the right side, the commission from the Pope was presented by the bishop of Lincoln to the two Cardinals. After it had been accepted and read, the same Bishop was appointed, in conjunction with the bishop of Bath and Wells, to summon the King and the Queen to appear before the Legates, on June 18th, between nine and ten o'clock in the morning. (fn. 44) The King, after visiting lord Rochford, returned with a small company of ladies and gentlemen to Greenwich, where Anne Boleyn was residing; (fn. 45) the Queen, to her lodging in London, probably at Baynard's Castle.
Interview of Katharine and Campeggio.
During this interval of suspense, the Queen, wholly ignorant of the Emperor's intentions, and the effect of her protest on the Court of Rome, paid a visit to Campeggio, still confined to his bed with the gout, "very anxious and perplexed about her affairs." She informed the Legate that the advocates appointed to conduct her cause had not yet arrived from Flanders, as the Emperor doubted of their security in England; that, in consequence, she was left without advisers; and though certain Englishmen had been appointed her counsellors by the King, it was easy to believe that they would rather consult the King's pleasure than regard what was most conducive to her interests. (fn. 46) She concluded by requesting Campeggio's aid and counsel.
Nothing could show more completely the straits to which she was reduced. Hitherto she had received no consolation from the Legate, who was apparently engrossed with the single thought of settling a trouble-some suit with as little inconvenience to himself as possible, and rescuing the Pope from the importunity of both parties, who allowed him no repose. Possibly he might pity the Queen, seeing the violence and injustice to which she was exposed, but these weaker emotions were overpowered by the stronger feeling of self-interest. He had suffered greatly in the sack of Rome. For the improvement of his fortune, and his promotion to a richer bishopric, he was dependent on the King's favor. In Wolsey also he had a watchful and importunate colleague, whose anxiety to bring the cause to a rapid and successful termination was sharpened by the sense of his own personal danger, and the terrible anger of the King. He was beginning already to lose his influence; and his enemies, like hot and unwearied hounds, were gaining rapidly upon him. "Campeggio is half-conquered," writes Du Bellay, shortly after, expressing the opinion held by himself and others. (fn. 47) Yet to whom could she go? She had not a single friend or adviser in the world. She was ignorant whether the Emperor, the only relative upon whom she could rely, had exerted himself on her behalf, or made any effort to espouse her cause at the Court of Rome.
Campeggio's advice to her.
The reply of the Legate was cold and discouraging in the extreme. He merely exhorted her to keep a good heart, to reply upon the justice of the King, and on the conscience and learning of those prelates who had been assigned to her as counsellors, assuring her that nothing would be done by her judges inconsistent with equity and reason. She then inquired of Campeggio, what steps had been taken in her behalf at Rome, and whether the cause was revoked. To these questions he replied, that as the Pope had already appointed two Legates to decide the cause, it was not likely he would revoke the commission, without due care and consideration. Unwilling, perhaps unable, to give her any information or comfort upon the point which she most desired, he exhorted her to pray to God to enlighten her understanding. In order that she might take some sound course in this great difficulty,—meaning, in other words, that she should enter some religious house,—she must consider well her state, the times, the tendency of things, and commit to God the greater part of her troubles. That appears to have been the only device that the Legate could imagine for extricating the Pope and himself out of their present perplexity; and though he had urged it frequently, and as frequently without success, the despondency and solitude of the Queen appeared to offer too favorable an opportunity not to insist upon it once more. On this point, however, she remained immovable. No threats, no flattery, no advice, by open enemies or false friends, no sense of her own weakness or abandonment, could shake her resolu- tion for a moment. In this determination there might be something perhaps of the inflexibility attributable to her Spanish blood, more perhaps of the devotee, not a little of the pride of the Queen and the woman. If not absolutely soured by harshness and illtreatment, she could not, humanly speaking, remain indifferent to the conduct of her husband, and see herself openly scorned, and the succession of her daughter set aside, in favor of a waiting gentlewoman, not long since her own attendant. To have reigned supreme for twenty years, and now to descend from her high position into neglect and obscurity, to see a hated rival enthroned in her place, and not betray some sense of the indignity, was more than could be expected of any woman, even of one so devout and obedient as Katharine. The ground, besides, upon which the King rested the divorce, was of a nature that affected her own personal modesty and honor, one to which she could not have been a party without some sacrifice of delicacy. "Although she is very religious," says Campeggio, "and extremely patient, she will not accede in the least to these hints of taking the vows. She regards this fact as her greatest consolation, and as the firm foundation of her righteousness and honour, that she entered into the marriage state with the present King as virgo immaculata. This she solemnly swears, has made the same declaration formerly, still adheres to it, and by this adherence has even raised some scruples in the King's mind. On her departure, she went to her lodging here in London."
So ended the conference. She left the Legate without giving him the least intimation of her future intentions. His language had not been encouraging; and from his conduct on this and upon other occasions, she pro- bably inferred that he was more prejudiced against her than he was in reality. "I do not know what counsel she will take," he remarks, "under the cir-cumstances. Some think she will object to the place, and some to the judges, some to both. Others think she will not appear, or she will allege the sus-pension of the cause, pendentia litis, or some other impediment. Within three days we shall know for certain. I will not fail with all my ingenuity to pursue whatever course will tend to maintain the honor of the Pope, and the judicial proceedings of the Holy See, although I may be greatly impeded in so doing, both in body and soul. In addition to my other troubles, I receive no remittances from Rome. Pray make prompt provision in order that I may not fall into dishonor by getting into debt, or having to beg in an undesirable quarter;"—that is, borrow money from Henry VIII.
The King and Queen cited to appear.
The doubts of Campeggio were soon set at rest. The citation to appear before the Legates had been served on the King and Queen on the 1st of June, in their private apartments at Windsor, by Longland bishop of Lincoln, and Clerk, the bishop of Bath. On the 18th of June the Court assembled. The two Bishops appeared, produced the citations of the royal pair, duly endorsed and executed. The King, who was not present on this occasion, was represented by his proxies, Dr. Sampson, dean of the Chapel Royal, afterwards bishop of Chichester, and Dr. John Bell, afterwards bishop of Worcester. On that day the Queen appeared in person, and protested against the jurisdiction of the court. She desired that her protestation might be registered and returned to her. To this the Legates assented; and after appointing her to appear again upon Monday, the 21st June, to hear their decision, the court adjourned. As it was required by the law that both parties should be present in person, and admit orally the validity of the proceedings, upon the penalty of being pronounced contumacious in their absence, both appeared on the appointed Monday. It is to this occasion, and to no other, that we must refer the striking incident described by Shakspeare, and the no less impressive speeches put by the poet into the mouths of the two chief personages of the drama. They were derived by him from the reports preserved in the chronicles of the time, and their authenticity is, in the main, unquestionable. (fn. 48)
Proceedings on the occasion.
Katharine's appeal to the King.
On the 21st the court assembled at the usual hour, between nine and ten in the morning. The Queen entered first, and was followed by the King, who was the first to seat himself under a canopy of cloth of gold on the right, the Queen being on the left, under a similar canopy, placed on a lower level. (fn. 49) Then the King, turning to the judges, addressed them in a brief speech, expressing his determination to live no longer in mortal sin, as he had done for the last twenty years. He should never feel easy, he said, in his conscience, until the legality of his marriage was decided, and therefore he required at their hands speedy justice. When the King had concluded, Wolsey rose to address the court He began by observing that although he had received infinite benefits from his Majesty, and was consequently suspected of partiality, yet as this case had been committed to himself and Campeggio by the Pope, he would give judgment according to the best of his poor ability. He was unworthy, he added, to sit as judge in such a cause, but would, nevertheless, omit nothing that the justice of the case required. (fn. 50) The Queen then rose, "and because she could not come directly to the King for the distance which severed them, she took pains to go about unto the King; and kneeling down at his feet in the sight of all the court and the assembly," proceeded to address his Majesty in broken English. Twice he attempted to raise her, and twice falling on her knees she besought him to have pity upon her as a poor woman and a stranger born out of his dominions. For these twenty years, she said, she had been his true and obedient wife, and did not deserve to be thus repudiated and put to open shame. She begged him to consider her honor, her daughter's, and his own, the reputation of her nation and her relatives, who would be equally concerned as herself in her disgrace. And since he had expressed his desire that their marriage should be declared valid, and had acknowledged his great love for her,—phrases the King was very fond of repeating in public,—she had appealed to Rome, where it was only reasonable that the cause should be decided, without partiality or suspicion. (fn. 51) To Rome only would she make her answer. (fn. 52)
She leaves the Court.
"With that," says Cavendish, "she rose up, making a low courtesy to the King, and so departed from thence. Many supposed that she would have resorted again to her former place; but she took her way straight out of the house, leaning, as she was wont always to do, upon the arm of her General Receiver, called Master Griffith. (fn. 53) The King being advertized of her departure commanded the crier to call her again, who called her by the name of 'Katharine, queen of England, come into court.' 'With that,' quoth Master Griffith, 'Madam, ye be called again. On, Sir,' quoth she, 'it maketh no matter, for it is no indifferent court for me; therefore I will not tarry.' And thus she departed out of that court, without any further answer at that time, or at any other, nor would never appear at any other court after.' (fn. 54)
Her appeal set aside.
Affecting as it was, the judges over-ruled her appeal, and upon her failing to reappear, after being thrice summoned, they pronounced her contumacious. Then they summoned both parties to appear again on Friday (June 25th). "I think the Queen," says Du Bellay, will take no notice of it. The judges can then proceed against her for contumacy, which I do not think they will do. Her statement that the cause is already at Rome refers to some signatura, of which she wishes to make use, and which the Pope probably winked at. I do not think it a matter of importance. The pleadings were in open court, before whom the King did not spare to justify his intentions. If the matter was to be decided by the women, the King would lose the battle; for they did not fail to encourage the Queen at her entrance and departure by their cries, telling her to care for nothing, with similar expressions. She recommended herself to their good prayers, with other Spanish tricks." (fn. 55)
Both on this occasion, and in similar judicial proceedings, the King interposed his personal authority in a way that would now be considered as unjustifiable and informal;—if anything could be considered informal in a court based on a complete violation of all the principles of the Constitution. For a sovereign to be cited to plead before his own subjects was so outrageous an incongruity, happily once only repeated in a time of national degradation and confusion, that all Englishmen were shocked at so gross a profanation of the dignity of the Crown. Nothing could open men's eyes more effectually to the incompatibility of the spiritual jurisdiction as claimed and exercised by the Pope, with the authority and independence of the national sovereign. No single act was more effective in hastening on the consummation of the next few years, or perhaps did more to reconcile men's minds to Henry's assumption of supremacy. "It was the strangest and newest sight and device," says Cavendish, an adherent of the earlier Faith, "that ever was read or heard in any history or chronicle in any region, that a king and a queen should be convented and constrained by process compellatory to appear in any court as common persons, within their own realm or dominion, to abide the judgment and decrees of their own subjects, having the royal diadem and prerogative thereof." (fn. 56) And as he thought, so thought others.
The King's speech on the occasion.
Considering the irregularity of the whole proceedings, it may be true, as Cavendish reports, though needing the confirmation of contemporaneous authorities, (fn. 57) that after Katharine's departure the King took occasion to launch out in praises of the Queen:—"She is, my Lords, as true, as obedient, and as conformable a wife, as I could in my phantasy wish or desire. She hath all the virtuous qualities that ought to be in a woman of her dignity, or in any other of baser estate. Surely she is also a noble woman born, if nothing were in her, but only her conditions will well declare the same." It may be that he had not entirely cast off his better and nobler feelings; that he could not avoid feeling some qualms of pity and compassion? Arbitrary as he was, he was of a royal nature, sensible to the stirrings of royalty in others. Nor could he fail to see that his proceedings were unpopular, and that his connexion with Anne Boleyn was regarded by his subjects as disgraceful to himself. But these gleams of a better nature, which occasionally broke out, were every day becoming more fitful and more feeble. The spell cast over him was irresistible.
Exculpation of Wolsey.
The court was strangely moved by the incident. It could scarcely be otherwise. The lurking spirit of compassion for the Queen spread like an infection. "Sire," said the Cardinal, "I most humbly beseech your Highness to declare now, before all this audience, whether I have been the chief inventor and first mover of this matter with your Majesty; for I am greatly suspected of all men herein?" "My lord Cardinal," quoth the King, "I can well excuse you herein. Marry," quoth he, "ye have been rather against me in attempting or setting forth thereof." Then he entered into a long story of the origin of his scruples, which may be accepted for what it was worth. Certainly it was not the truth, but what the King wished should pass for true, and would best justify his conduct to his subjects.
Fisher's bold challenge.
On Friday (June 25th) the court met again. "This morning," says Campeggio, writing on the same day, I caused myself to be carried to the place where we sit in judgment (Blackfriars), as we had to take the King's oath today respecting the propositions and articles. We found him there in an adjoining chamber." (fn. 58) The next court was appointed for the 28th of June. Such speedy and repeated sittings were much opposed to the ease and inclinations of Campeggio. He complained that if the trial was to be conducted at such a rapid rate it would be impossible for the judges, in many instances, to decide according to the evidence, except after the King's and Wolsey's fashion. (fn. 59) On the 28th the monotony of the sittings was diversified by a striking and unexpected incident. "Yesterday," says Campeggio, "the fifth audience was "given; that is, on the 28th of June. While the proceedings were going on as usual, owing to the Queen's contumacy, the bishop of Rochester [Fisher] made his appearance, and said in an appropriate speech, that in a former audience he had heard the King's Majesty discuss the cause, and testify before all men that his only desire was to have justice done, and to relieve himself of the scruple which he had on his conscience, inviting both the judges and everybody else to throw light on the investigation of the cause, because he found his mind much troubled and perplexed. At the time of this offer and command of the King, he had forborne to come forward and manifest what he had discovered in this matter after two years of diligent study; but now, to avoid the damnation of his soul, and to show himself not unfaithful to the King, or neglectful of the duty which he owed to the truth, in a cause of such importance, he presented himself before their reverend Lordships to assert and demonstrate with cogent reasons that this marriage of the King and Queen could not be dissolved by any power, divine or human. He declared that in maintenance of this opinion he was willing to lay down his life; adding that as John the Baptist, in olden times, regarded it as impossible to die more gloriously than in a cause of matrimony, and it was not so holy then as it has now become, by the shedding of Christ's blood, he could not encourage himself more ardently, more effectually, or face any extreme peril with greater confidence than by taking the Baptist for his own example. He used many other suitable words, and at the end presented them with a book which he had written on the subject." (fn. 60)
Is followed by bishop Standish.
Fisher was followed by Standish, the bishop of St. Asaph, who adopted the same line of argument, but with less fervour, strength, and eloquence. A doctor, called the Dean of the Arches, probably Ridley, followed on the same side, deriving his authorities mainly from the canon law, but which did not appear to Campeggio very conclusive. Wolsey replied, expressing surprise at this unexpected attack upon the Legates, as he called it. They sat there, he observed, to hear all that could be said in connection with the cause, and to administer justice in whatever way divine wisdom should inspire them to do. The sitting was terminated by a fresh citation of the Queen, who, upon failing to appear, was again pronounced contumacious. (fn. 61)
Produces great effect.
"This affair of Rochester," says Campeggio, "was unexpected and unforeseen, and has consequently excited everybody's amazement. What he will do we shall see when the day comes. You [Salviati], who know what sort of a man he is, may imagine what is likely to happen."
The strangeness of the incident, the boldness of the Bishop, so unlike the conduct of his brethren, produced a profound effect. He had rarely appeared in public, and was known only as a secluded student who had mainly devoted himself to a life of learning and austerity in his palace at Rochester. Till now no one had ventured to oppose the King's wishes openly, or utter a word of remonstrance, in England, against his divorce. The noise of such an unusual act of intrepidity spread rapidly through every court of Europe. "The bishop of Rochester," writes Du Bellay to Francis I., "who is accounted one of the best and most holy divines in England, especially for his opposition to the Lutheran heresies, appeared with the Queen's other counsellors before the Legates, not indeed as her proctor, but only to remonstrate with the judges, offering to prove the goodness of her cause by a little book which he had made jointly with her councillors. This he presented, enlarging upon the Queen's cause with many wise words. A rather modest answer was made by the judges, that it was not his business to pronounce so decidedly in the matter, as the cause had not been committed to him." (fn. 62)
Fisher might, perhaps, have laid himself open to this rebuke by taking the words of the King in too literal a sense, and offering unpalatable advice; but, considering the informality of the proceedings generally, he scarcely deserved it. On the part of the King his remonstrance was received with a torrent of indignation. He could not descend to a personal altercation with the Bishop before the Legates, but he drew up a bitter reply, in the form of a speech, in which he attacked the character and conduct of Fisher with unsparing violence and acrimony.
The King's reply.
That reply, of which a copy was sent to Fisher by his royal antagonist, is still preserved in the Record Office, with Fisher's remarks. The arrogance of its tone, the bitter sarcasms levelled at the motives and attainments of the Bishop, the resentment ill-concealed at his untimely protest, show how profound was the King's displeasure. The Latin vocabulary is ransacked for its choicest epithets of vituperation, and the whole style of the reply rather resembles the invective of an irritated and angry controversialist than the calm rebuke and dignified bearing of Majesty. After vindicating his proceedings in the divorce, which had been conducted, he asserts, throughout in deference to the opinions of the Church, the King complains that he had reason to have expected from Fisher the best assistance in this design, rather than find in him a jealous calumniator of his pious intentions, an enemy of his merits, and envious of his praise. "It is true," he proceeds, "that men sometimes fail, even "the wisest, in their projects; but I never thought, Judges, to see the bishop of Rochester taking upon himself the task of accusing me before your tribunal,—an accusation more befitting the malice of a disaffected subject, and the unruly passions of a seditious mob, than the character and station of a bishop. I had certainly explained this to Rochester some months ago,"—(Fisher in the margin, "nearly a year ago,")—"and not once only, that these scruples of mine respecting my marriage had not been studiously raked up or causelessly invented. Until the present time Rochester (fn. 63) approved of them, and thought them so grave and so momentous that, without consulting the Pope respecting them, he did not think I could recover my tranquillity of mind."—(Fisher in the margin, "I did not say so; but the "Cardinal would have been glad of I had said so.")—"When the Pope, moved by the judgment of his Cardinals and others, considered that the reasons urged were sufficient, and the doubts were such as were worthy the consideration of the ablest judges,—when he left the whole decision of the cause to your religious determination, and sent you Campeggio here at great expence, for no other purpose than to decide this cause,—what, are we to suppose, could have instigated Rochester, or by what spirit, let me ask you, could he have been inspired, to press "forward thus imprudently, and thus unseasonably declare his opinion after keeping silent for many months,"—(Fisher, "I was obliged to this by the protestation of the King and the Cardinal,") (fn. 64) —"and not until now declare his mind in this full consistory. Had he been consistent he would not have attributed to mere logical subtleties and rhetorical refinements those scruples of my conscience, which he once admitted I had rightly entertained. If, after a study of many years, he had clearly discovered what was just, true, and lawful in this most weighty cause, he should have admonished me privately again and again, and not have publicly denounced with such boldness and self-assertion the burthensome reproaches of my conscience. It was the duty which a faithful and pious prelate owed to his Prince to defend my innocence from the slanders of evil tongues; and when he saw that my conscience was oppressed and tempest-tossed, he was bound by all means to come to my relief. It was his duty as a religious and obedient prelate to acquiesce in the sentence of his Holiness, who had sent judges here, admitting the necessity of the case, rather than thus publicly accuse the Pope of levity, as if the cause which he had remitted here for decision was so clear, easy, and obvious that it was folly to call it in question."—(Fisher, "It is not obvious to all, but only to those who are compelled to study it.")—"Finally, it was the duty of a prudent and modest man, when he saw that the cause was conducted according to the amplest extent of your jurisdiction, to have left your judgment unfettered, and not have prejudged the cause by prescribing to you a new formula of judgment, upon his own unsupported authority.
But, Judges, in this Bishop we look for these requirements in vain. Two most pernicious councillors have taken possession of him, and agitate all his thoughts,—unbridled arrogance and overweening temerity."—(Fisher, "Arrogance, temerity.")—"How else can we account for his assertion that by solid and invincible arguments he will immediately place the naked truth of this cause, without disguise, before the eyes of all men, and defend it even to the flames?"—(Fisher, "I said nothing of that".)—"adding that he had better reasons for resisting the dissolution of this marriage than John the Baptist had formerly in the case of Herod. Monstrous assertion, devoid of all modesty and sobriety! (fn. 65) As if, forsooth, Rochester was the only wise man in the world."—(Fisher, "There are many others.")—"As if he alone understood and had mastered the truth of this cause! Why talk of fire and flames, and his readiness to submit to them, when he must be fully convinced of my clemency and anxiety to defend and not oppress the truth? What is the meaning of that comparison of his, in which he endeavours to assimilate his own cause to that of John the Baptist, unless he held the opinion that I was acting like Herod, or attempting some outrage like that of Herod? I, Judges, never approved of the impiety of Herod, certainly not that which the Gospel condemns in him, wherein we learn by the words of the Baptist that he had taken his brother's sister to wife".—("Non intelligo," writes Fisher.)—"Whatever Fisher may think of me, I have "never been guilty of such cruelty. Let him say if ever I have passed a severe sentence (statuerimus) upon those who did not seem favourable to this divorce, and did not rather show them the highest favour in proportion to their deserts. But lest, perhaps, this should blind your eyes, Judges, and delay your sentence, whilst he with great bravery affirms that of all men he has now discovered the truth, and dragged it out of darkness, it shall be my part to examine carefully this vainglorious and more than Thrasonical magniloquence of his, and show how little solidity there is in it. And if I can clearly show that what he considers a most undoubted and invincible truth is nothing more than a shadow or image of the truth, what other opinion can you entertain of him, Judges, than that, swollen by pride and malevolence, he has given utterance to these more than temerarious words, with a view of seeking reputation in the opinion and mouths of the ignorant, and that he wishes to arm and excite them, maddened by his persuasions, against those who venture to differ from Rochester? But let truth conquer and prevail in your judgment, and falsehood be rejected; for though it may produce sudden and vehement impulses in the ignorant multitude, yet after a little time, when the cause is fully examined before you who administer the law, such effects will immediately wither away."
After this introduction the King proceeds to a long examination of the Bishop's assertion that no power inferior to God can in any degree dissolve the King's marriage, and the axiom postulated by the Bishop that there was no impediment to the marriage which could not be removed by the Pope's authority.
From the specimen here given the reader will be able to form a judgment of the tone and temper of the speech. The King poured out the full vials of his Yorkist blood against the unfortunate Bishop, who had incurred his displeasure by unburthening his conscience; such an act, in the opinion of Henry VIII., being exclusively a royal privilege, in which bishops and subjects had no right to indulge. The imprisoned fury of the civil wars was struggling in his veins. But in Henry VIII. respect for the law was never wanting in the most furious onsets of his passion. He held his crown solely by the law as rightful and legitimate sovereign, and he could not, therefore, afford to set his subjects an example of breaking the law, which might be followed by others to his prejudice. It may further be remarked, that as these discussions about the divorce turned men's attention to the study of the canon law, this tendency of the Tudors to exalt and respect the laws of the land encouraged the study of the statute law, and thus brought the two codes into more distinct rivalry.
Why his anger was confined to words.
These observations will explain the reasons why a king, who is commonly supposed to have struck first and reasoned afterwards, should have satisfied himself with expressing his resentment at Fisher's unreasonable interposition rather by hard words than hard blows. Something also was due to the fact, which transpires from the King's own admission, that though he professed to despise the opinion of the thoughtless and vulgar mob, whom he accuses Fisher of exciting to rebellion, he desired to stand well with them, as with the rest of his subjects. Like all the Tudors, the last thing he cared to face was unpopularity. It is undeniable that the cause of Katharine commanded the sympathies of the people, and Fisher's speech in her defence was too agreeable, as the King admitted, to the popular humour, to be passed over in contempt, or visited with punishment. The Bishop escaped for the time, but his conduct on this occasion was never forgotten.
Campeggio is uneasy.
Until this stage of the proceedings Campeggio had appeared to be influenced entirely in the King's favor. It appeared to be his sole object, in the first instance, to induce the Queen to enter a religious house, and, as his advice had been rejected, he seemed never afterwards to exert himself in her behalf. Whether this conduct is to be attributed to his displeasure at finding her intractable, or his fears of incurring the charge of partiality, is not known. The conclusion of the suit was daily expected, and most men had no doubt of the result. "Unless the Pope quickly recall the commission," says Du Bellay, (fn. 66) you may expect the thing will be done within a month, if nothing else occur, and perhaps sooner."1 Now, however, the Legate began to feel some alarm at the rapid progress of the cause, and, perhaps, to pluck up courage at the opposition offered by Fisher. "They are proceeding," he writes to Salviati, (fn. 67) "with inconceivable anxiety in the King's cause, and expect to come to the end of it within twenty days. Since the Queen presented her appeal she has appeared no more; consequently they have a wide field for action, entirely clear, so they may do whatever they like, and con-"duct the trial with all those arts which can influence the result in their favour." A fortnight after, he writes again, "By my letters of the 21st October I informed you in what state this cause then stood, and how it was proceeding with much celerity and more urgency, We have since progressed in the same manner, with great strides, till this day (13th July)—always faster than a trot-so that some expect a sen- tence within ten days; and although we have many things to do—writings, allegations, and processes to see and examine—yet such is their speed and diligence, that nothing is sufficient to procure us a moment's breathing time. It is impossible for me not to declare my opinion, and what seems to me most convenient, but it is of little avail. I will not fail in my duty and office, nor rashly nor willingly give cause of offence to any one. When I pronounce sentence I will keep God before my eyes, and the honor of the Holy See." (fn. 68)
From this time Campeggio hung back; and his unwillingness to proceed became more apparent. The unwelcome change was not unnoticed by the Cardinal, who, for motives to which I shall presently refer, had the strongest reasons for desiring the speedy termination of the suit. Besides the displeasure of the King and his mistress, who were every day growing more impatient and more suspicious of his sincerity, he had long foreseen that they were now prepared to visit upon his head all their disappointments. "On Monday" (19th July), Du Bellay informs his correspondent, "matters were almost as the King wishes, and the Judges were deliberating about giving sentence the Monday following. Now things are altered, and those who desired a divorce are extremely troubled, finding Campeggio not so favourable as they expected. I think he is inclined to remit the matter to the Pope. He must have expected to have his share in the cake by doing what is acceptable to the Emperor, especially when the latter arrives in Italy, where it is thought he will soon be. At all events the matter is in such a state that no one can tell how it stands." (fn. 69)