Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 5, 1531-1532. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1880.
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Since the appearance of the last volume of this Calendar the work has been carried on under peculiar disadvantages, owing to the death of its original Editor, the Rev. J. S. Brewer, which occurred when the materials of the present volume had been nearly got ready for the press. The loss, under any circumstances, must have been a great one; but, differing as this Calendar does from all the others of the same series, and requiring very special conditions for its successful execution, only those who are particularly interested in the work can appreciate the drawback to its future progress. To Mr. Brewer its whole plan was due—a design of considerable originality in its conception; and it was by his unflagging energy that the publication had been thus far completed in the face of obstacles which would certainly have cooled the ardour and worn out the spirit of any man less thoroughly intent on doing a good work entirely for its own sake. Historical students will not require to be informed of the remarkable and unique qualifications he possessed for a task which has now unavoidably fallen to less able hands. A man of extensive and varied reading, of careful and accurate thought, of altogether unusual breadth of view and fulness of information on every period of history and literature, especially the history and literature of his own country,—he had been long familiar with historical MSS., both in the Public Record Office and elsewhere, when he was invited by the late Lord Romilly to take part in the work of cataloguing the National archives. The period assigned to him — the reign of Henry VIII.—was one which he at once perceived could only be treated satisfactorily on a larger and more comprehensive plan than that of the other Calendars; and, having submitted his scheme to the Master of the Rolls, he obtained authority to proceed with the work on the lines laid down by himself for its execution.
Of this scheme and the reasons which led to its adoption, a detailed explanation is given by Mr. Brewer himself in the Preface to the first volume of the work. But it may not be unadvisable in this place to remind the reader of its principal features, and relate briefly the process by which it was carried out. The papers of the reign of Henry VIII., which were deposited in the Public Record Office at the time when Mr. Brewer began his labours, formed only a minute portion of a large collection, of which the greater part was divided between the British Museum and the State Paper Office. Originally, there cannot be a doubt, the whole of that collection was deposited in the Treasury of the Exchequer. But early in the seventeenth century a large portion of it was abstracted by Sir Robert Cotton, and went towards the formation of his celebrated library, now in the British Museum. In more recent times other portions had been transferred from the Chapter House at Westminster to the Rolls House, and to the State Paper Office. Thus parts of the same correspondence were scattered in four different repositories, and sometimes even parts of the same letter were to be found in different localities. Soon after the commencement of Mr. Brewer's labours, it is true, the contents of the State Paper Office, the Chapter House at Westminster, and the Rolls House, were brought together in the new repository in Fetter Lane; but the task of re-uniting a series which had been so dispersed, and introducing order where confusion had reigned so long, was attended with difficulties which can only be appreciated by those who have attempted any similar labour.
Under the most favourable circumstances it would have been an exceedingly laborious matter; but as the majority of the letters written in Henry VIII.'s time bore no date of year, the chronology could only be ascertained from internal evidence by an elaborate and comprehensive study of the whole correspondence, long before any attempt was made to summarise their contents in a calendar. Some years were accordingly spent in a preliminary arrangement of the documents in the Public Record Office; after which pretty full abstracts were taken of all those in the British Museum which appeared at all likely to belong to the early years of Henry VIII. We then proceeded to make similar abstracts of the arranged documents in the Record Office; and finally, after carefully weighing the evidences of chronological sequence in the case of undated letters, we arranged the whole of our abstracts in the order in which they were sent to press.
In this process of determining the chronology, however, it was found impossible to restrict ourselves even to the original letters and state papers in the Public Record Office and the British Museum. Contemporary letters of historical interest, derived from other and even from printed sources, supplied evidences which it would have been wrong to overlook, and notices of all such correspondence were accordingly included in the Calendar. For similar reasons it was likewise determined to include a far less interesting series of documents—the grants from the Crown, enrolled on the Patent Rolls, or recorded by the Signed Bills and Privy Seals. No progress could possibly have been made with this Calendar without very frequent reference to this class of documents, and brief notices of the whole series, chronologised along with the letters, were accordingly incorporated in the work. The contents of the French Rolls and of the Rolls of Parliament were treated in the same manner.
In short, it was Mr. Brewer's design to include in this Calendar every known source of contemporary information regarding the reign of Henry VIII.; and upon this plan the work has been hitherto pursued from the commencement. Some slight changes in point of form have, however, taken place, to which I must here call attention. After the publication of the first volume it was found advisable, for the sake of economising space, to print the grants from the Crown by themselves, in a smaller type, at the end of every month, instead of allowing them to appear dispersed among the correspondence. In this monthly register of grants a number was prefixed to each, indicating the day of the month on which that particular grant passed the Great Seal, as shown by the date of delivery to the Chancellor, which is also recorded at the end of the entry. In the present volume a further change has been made with a view to facilitate reference by the index. It has been thought unnecessary that the number prefixed to each grant should represent a date which is always to be found in the entry itself; and the grants in each month are now numbered consecutively, in a bolder type than that formerly used to indicate the date of passing the Great Seal.
Also, where in the previous volumes a few of the more important grants were still kept in the text, on account of their special significance, they are in the present volume remitted to their proper places among documents of the same description, a cross entry, however, being made in the text under the date of every such special grant, referring to the place in which a notice of it will be found.
In all other respects even the form of the work is unaltered. The nature of the task being essentially the same, no other method of operation is even practicable. The only change is in the character of the documents themselves, which, perhaps, to some slight extent, affects the conditions of the work. During the earlier portion of the reign, down to the death of Wolsey, the chief difficulties that presented themselves have been due to the dispersion and mutilation of a considerable number of the documents; for it was chiefly the state papers of this period that were laid under contribution by Sir Robert Cotton, and that suffered in the disastrous fire which destroyed so large a portion of his valuable library. After Wolsey's death the papers were not so interesting, and Sir Robert suffered them to remain in the Treasury of the Exchequer. The great bulk of them consisted of the correspondence of Thomas Cromwell, which was seized after his attainder, and has been preserved ever since among the public records. It seems to have been from the first arranged in bundles, under the different letters of the alphabet, according to the names of the writers, but with some slight reference also to chronology, as appears by endorsements, in which we occasionally read that the letters of one man during the 23rd and 24th years of the reign had been kept together. Unfortunately, the alphabetical arrangement alone has survived. The bundles have long ago been broken up, and their contents have, in recent times, been bound in volumes, in no kind of order beyond that of the writers' names, and with no particular accuracy even in the sequence of these.
The bulk of the Cromwell correspondence being thus contained in bound volumes by itself, had to be made a study by itself, apart from the other state papers. Special difficulties have arisen from this circumstance, which it was hardly possible to obviate. Cromwell's correspondence, unlike Wolsey's, includes a vast number of letters on mere private matters of no political significance, and their chronology is consequently far more dubious and uncertain. Without entering into a close examination of the whole series, comparing letter with letter, and noting carefully a vast number of petty circumstances, often of interest to no one but the writers, it was impossible to form a satisfactory judgment as to the year in which each was written; and after all we have been obliged to content ourselves, in many cases, with mere probable inferences. The reader will, therefore, be good enough to understand that a caution, which has been given generally throughout this work, applies particularly to a large number of the letters addressed to Cromwell—viz., that the notice of a particular letter in a particular year by no means implies that it must have been written precisely in that year, and neither earlier nor later. I may add, that with the whole correspondence calendared and indexed before him, the reader has now means of forming a judgment on these points, which the Editor himself did not possess while preparing the work for press.
There are, however, generally speaking, in the addresses of the letters written to Cromwell, if not in their substance, pretty clear indications at least of the period in his career to which they individually belong. During the time he was in Wolsey's service, as noted by Mr. Brewer, (fn. 1) he had plied the business of a lawyer and a money lender, and there are evidences that he had not relinquished these profitable occupations even when he entered that of the King. He was made a privy councillor in the beginning of the year 1531, within a very few weeks after the death of his old master. In the following year he was appointed keeper of the Crown jewels, and a certain number of letters were addressed to him in that capacity. He appears also to have been made Master of Wards about August or September 1532, and Chancellor of the Exchequer in April 1533. But these dignities were of comparatively little importance, and the notice taken of them in his correspondence is only very occasional. In March or April 1534 he was appointed the King's secretary, and letters bearing this distinctive title in the address must have been written between that date and July 1536, when he was created Lord Cromwell and Lord Privy Seal. During pretty nearly the same period he was Master of the Rolls, having been appointed to that office on the 8th October 1534. Finally in April, 1540, he was created Earl of Essex, and in July of the same year he was arrested, condemned, and beheaded for high treason.
The letters most difficult to chronologise are those written before his appointment as secretary in 1534; for till then he was often only addressed as "right worshipful," or "my very good friend," at least by his more favoured correspondents, who did not always take notice in the address of his dignity as a privy councillor. Indeed, it might be that, even after he was made secretary, a man of rank would address a letter only "to my worshipful friend, Mr. Cromwell." But, in a general way, we can perceive, as might be expected, that, with his advancement in the King's favour, little private matters give place to public business, and the correspondence dwells more and more on matters concerning the internal administration of the kingdom.
Bearing these considerations in mind, the reader will therefore be able to exercise his own judgment wherever the chronology of any particular letter addressed to Cromwell may happen to come in question; and the Editor trusts he will rectify for himself those unavoidable errors which the completion of each successive volume will render comparatively easy of detection. The same may be said of another and more trivial kind of inaccuracy, where, in the headings of some letters, the name of the writer, being taken merely from his signature, does not bear, as it should have done, the prefix "Sir" before the Christian name. In most cases this error will be found rectified in the Index.
As to the historical significance of the documents contained in this volume, it is not my purpose to make any very minute or elaborate comments. The long historical introductions which Mr. Brewer, out of pure devotion to the work, and, it must be said, at no small sacrifice of his private leisure, contributed to the former volumes of this Calendar, have been judged to be unnecessary. I am, therefore, happily absolved from the responsibility (which, under any circumstances, I should have felt particularly onerous) of attempting in this respect to follow in his track. But a few general observations on some of the principal subjects which these letters bring before us may not be unacceptable to the student for whose use this publication is intended.
The two years, 1531 and 1532, over which the contents of this volume range, occupy comparatively little space in the pages of the ordinary historian. Indeed the transactions of the year 1531 are almost passed over in silence, and one of the most striking incidents of 1532 (as I shall presently show) is continually referred to some other year.
The chief matter which occupied attention during the whole period was the dreary subject of the divorce; and it is possible now, for the first time, to trace each move and countermove in that unhappy question, both at Rome, in England, and occasionally, also, through English solicitation, in France, where the French king, for purposes of his own, actively bestirred himself in Henry's interest. (fn. 2) It is well known how, after the breaking up of the Legatine Court and the revocation of the cause to Rome, Henry's first effort was the celebrated plan of obtaining the opinions of universities both at home and abroad that the Pope could not dispense for such a marriage as that of himself and Katharine. Strengthened with a sufficient number of such opinions, howsoever obtained, it seemed that the King might have proceeded to act on his own views, married Anne Boleyn without more ado, and defied Papal interdicts and excommunication. But for this course he was not immediately prepared. To defy the Holy See in such a matter was to defy the public opinion of all Europe. So far was Henry from willingly incurring such a responsibility that it was rumoured more than once that he had serious thoughts of putting away Anne Boleyn, believing that he must be absolutely compelled to do so in the end. (fn. 3) Symptoms of vacillation at Rome, however, renewed his courage. (fn. 4) He had already sent thither an "excusator," to plead in his absence, that he should not be compelled to appear in a foreign Court either personally or by deputy; and the question whether this "excusator" should be heard, and under what conditions, detained the Papal Court pretty nearly the whole of the two years over which this volume extends. When a single point had been decided by the Rota, it had to be discussed over again in the Consistory before the decision could be finally enforced; (fn. 5) and so from court to court the question was bandied about, while Imperial agents exclaimed against the Pope's negation of justice in so long withholding sentence of excommunication against the King, and the King's agents, on their side, continually reproached his Holiness for standing, as they asserted, in too great dread of the Emperor. The King himself, indeed, did not scruple to write to Clement, telling him in express terms that Rome was a place in which it was hopeless to expect impartiality, as the Emperor's influence was there all powerful. (fn. 6)
I need say nothing of the efforts made by Henry all the while to bribe the Cardinals in Consistory, (fn. 7) or to get some of his own creatures added to the number of the Sacred College. Apart from all questions of morality, the disobedience shown by the King to the Holy See was such as might well have justified a sentence of excommunication, if the Papal authority intended still to make itself respected. But Clement was not the sort of Pope who could be expected to bring kings to a sense of duty. He was not made of the same stuff as a Hildebrand or a Boniface; and during the whole progress of this unhappy question he contrived more and more to weaken his own authority till it was finally repudiated altogether. At the very beginning of the year 1531 he had felt himself bound, at Katharine's request, and as a matter of mere justice to her, to send the King a brief forbidding him to marry any other woman until the decision of the case. (fn. 8) In the following summer Henry finally parted company with his Queen, and caused her to be sent to a distance, while he himself went about the country with Anne Boleyn. The Imperial agents called the Pope's attention to the scandal, and demanded stronger measures. Months afterwards Clement did indeed consent, but with extreme reluctance, and only after repeated solicitations, and some refusals, to send the King a brief of admonition on the open scanda he had brought upon himself and upon the Church. (fn. 9) The terms in which it was couched were mild enough, and the admonition passed by unheeded; but it was only after the lapse of ten months more that Clement could be got to take notice of the disregard shown for his authority. On the 15th November 1532 he at length issued another brief, containing a distinct threat of excommunication if the King did not, within one month after its receipt, put away Anne Boleyn, and take back Katharine as his Queen. (fn. 10)
Thus did matters gradually approach a crisis between Henry and the See of Rome, notwithstanding the greatest anxiety on both sides to avoid those extremities to which each was for his part committed, the one by his own selfwill, and the other by his unquestionable duty.
We are now in possession of a more circumstantial account than has hitherto been accessible of Henry's separation from the Queen. Long as he had already been a stranger to her bed, it was not till July, 1531, that he parted company with Katharine altogether. The chronicler Hall informs us, that after Whitsuntide in this year the King and Queen removed to Windsor, where they remained together till the 14th July, when the King left her, and removed to Woodstock. The Queen remained for some little time longer at Windsor, but was afterwards removed to the Moore, and again to Easthamsted; and from that time she and Henry never met again. This account is entirely confirmed by the despatches of Chapuys, who further tells us that the Queen complained of not being allowed to speak with her husband at his departure, as it would have been a consolation at least to have bid him adieu; and that Henry sent her a bitter answer, after taking counsel with the duke of Norfolk and Gardiner, that he was very much offended at her for causing him to be cited personally to Rome, and for refusing a reasonable offer he had made to her by his Council to allow the cause to be decided by some other tribunal. (fn. 11)
In such wise did the King and Katharine separate. "Wherefore," as the courtly chronicler adds, "the common people daily murmured, and spake their foolish fantasies. But the affairs of princes be not ordered by the common people, nor it were not convenient that all things were opened to them." Of these daily murmurings, also, the reader will find ample confirmation in the Imperial Ambassador's letters; and he will doubtless use his own judgment as to the reasonableness of their complaints. Happily "all things" are now "opened" to the common people in a manner which in Henry VIII.'s day would certainly not have been "convenient," — whether the word be used in the ancient or in the modern sense.
So strong, indeed, was the universal sympathy with the Queen that even the King's own agents relented. Reginald Pole, we know, withdrew himself from the King's service, repenting the part he had taken in promoting the divorce suit at Paris. Gardiner, too, whose energetic advocacy of the King's cause at Rome had been rewarded by the bishopric of Winchester, now ventured to counsel Henry not to proceed to extremity. (fn. 12) But the most striking instance is that of Dr. Benet, who, at this very time, was Henry's chief instrument in promoting the case at Rome. At the close of the year 1531 he was recalled by the King and came home, but was despatched again to Rome on the 1st January 1532. (fn. 13) During his brief stay in England we find that he communicated secretly with some of the Queen's friends, expressing sympathy with her cause, and encouraging her to hope that it must soon be absolutely decided in her favor. At his departure also he sent a message to the Queen herself, entreating her to pardon him for promoting the suit against her marriage, as he was compelled to act in the way he did. He assured her that, so far as his own good will went, she had not a better servant than himself, and that no one prayed more heartily to God for the preservation of her Royal estate, in which he felt assured that she would be continued, notwithstanding all that the King and his agents could do against her. (fn. 14)
Indeed it would almost seem that the cause which the King had so long pursued was generally regarded as a piece of madness, in which he must ultimately meet with inevitable defeat. In the spring of 1532, when Henry applied to Parliament for an aid to strengthen the Scotch frontier, two members of the Lower House ventured to say openly that no such measure was necessary, because the Scots could do no harm without foreign aid, and that if the King would only take back his Queen, and cultivate the friendship of the Emperor, it would be a much more efficient protection. (fn. 15) These observations, the Imperial Ambassador was informed, were very well received by almost every one present, except two or three, and nothing was done to furnish the King with the supplies demanded. Nor was it only by negative symptoms that the feeling of the House expressed itself; for, as we learn from Hall, a definite motion was made by a member of the name of Temse to petition Henry to take the Queen again into his company, pointing out the serious difficulties that might arise if his only legitimate child, the princess Mary, were declared a bastard.
Representations such as these were naturally distasteful to the King; but he does not appear, on this occasion, to have marked his displeasure with quite so much emphasis as might have been expected. We hear nothing of the obnoxious members being arrested, or made to suffer for their temerity. The King only sent for the Speaker, and said he was surprised that any of that House ventured to discuss a question which concerned his Majesty's own conscience, and which could only be determined properly by a spiritual court. He reminded the Commons, at the same time, of some grievances they had put forward, not long before, against the clergy, to which a formal answer had just been returned by Convocation. These complaints, there is no doubt, had been suggested by the King himself, and were only endorsed by the Commons for his Majesty's satisfaction. Nevertheless, it suited admirably his convenience to set this controversy before the House of Commons as one of their own making, which concerned not so much his interests as those of the laity at large. In fact, since they had adopted it as their own, it concerned their self-respect to see that their complaints were attended to; and the King spoke in such a way as to make the House feel confident of his support, provided they were careful not to oppose his wishes on the divorce question. (fn. 16)
The question of the Royal supremacy over the Church arose naturally from the revocation of the King's divorce cause to Rome. As Henry did not intend to accept the jurisdiction of the Roman Curia, and protested against the cause being heard before a foreign tribunal, it followed, as a matter of course, that he claimed spiritual as well as civil supremacy in his own kingdom. As early as February 1531 he had laid before the Convocation of Canterbury his claim to be acknowledged as "Sole Protector and Supreme Head of the Church of England," — a title which, in deference to their scruples, he only consented to qualify by the words post Deum, declining all further discussion. Convocation, however, did not immediately yield to this dictation, but endeavoured to compromise the question by an Act, in which the King was declared to be the "only Sovereign Lord and Protector of the Church of England, and, as far as allowed by the law of Christ, Supreme Head of the same." (fn. 17) Even with the reservation contained in the words quantum per Christi legem licet the concession was made with considerable reluctance, but, at the Archbishop's suggestion, it was passed unanimously. It was repented almost as soon as it was made; (fn. 18) for, however theoretically defensible might be the title to which they had agreed, and whatever pains they might have taken to guard against misconstruction, the clergy could could not but feel the moral disadvantage at which they now stood in having yielded anything at all. Yet they were altogether helpless. Under the existing law of prœmunire they were quite at the King's mercy. It was an engine that might be turned against them capriciously on the most slender pretexts; and, knowing its power, they might well have been glad to purchase immunity for the future by a frank recognition of that supremacy to which they were already compelled to bow in practice. But they had, unfortunately, neglected to make their bargain with the King in time, and they saw with dismay that the compromise to which they had been brought in the matter of the King's title only exposed them to still further persecution. Already it had been proposed to prosecute them as a body, on the ground that they had submitted to Wolsey's legatino jurisdiction. It seemed expedient, rather than attempt to justify themselves, to propitiate the King with money; and, in the hope of avoiding further persecution, they offered to compound for their pardon by a very large payment. The King took advantage of their weakness to increase his demands, both pecuniary and other. (fn. 19) He declined to restore their ancient liberties, or to give them any assurance for the future by annulling the Act of Prœmunire. The clergy, ground down to the last extremity, were urgent that the bishops should retract in Parliament the acknowledgment of supremacy made in Convocation, and threatened that unless this was done they would not pay a single penny. (fn. 20) It was all, however, of no avail. The grant of 100,000l. by the province of Canterbury was formally passed in Convocation on the 22nd March. (fn. 21) The only difficulty was about the collection of the money; for, later in the year, when Stokesley, bishop of London, attempted to assess the clergy of his diocese towards this subsidy, a regular riot ensued at St. Paul's, in which the Bishop was very nearly murdered. (fn. 22)
It might have been supposed that the Convocation of York did not labor under quite the same disadvantage as that of Canterbury; for the clergy of the former province, having been naturally subject to Wolsey as archbishop, apart from his legatine faculty, should have incurred no prœmunire. But the result was much the same. They released the King from the repayment of the loan, and granted him a sum of nearly nineteen thousand pounds; and when the resolutions already passed in the province of Canterbury were submitted to them in May, there was no effectual opposition. This might have been partly due to the fact that the see of York was at that time void; for of the two other Bishops, one actually made some show of opposition. Tunstall, bishop of Durham, protested against the King's proposed title of Supreme Head of the Church, (fn. 23) and went so far as to state his objections in a letter to the King himself, dated the 6th May. But Henry had a logical advantage over such an antagonist, which he used with some effect in his reply. Tunstall had advised him, in the great question of the validity of his marriage to Katharine, to submit his own private conscience to the judgment of a great number of others. Why would not the Bishop follow his own advice, and be content to adopt a conclusion agreed to by the most learned and pious prelates of the province of Canterbury, without discussing the grounds of it himself? (fn. 24) There was no resisting a King who could argue thus, and who could back up arguments by any amount of force that might be found expedient.
Next year the subject of the supremacy was transferred from the Convocations to Parliament. But even here the King was not heartily supported, and his success might have been doubtful if the votes given in either House had represented the real minds of those who gave them. The Peers, no doubt, if we except the Bishops, were, for the most part, easily satisfied to leave the responsibility of the new proposal to the King himself; but the Commons at first were lukewarm, and the Lord Chancellor, Sir Thomas More, altogether disliked the innovation. Archbishop Warham, to atone for what he had done in Convocation, drew up a solemn protest against all enactments made in that Parliament in derogation of the Pope's authority, or of the independence of the clergy. (fn. 25) It was, moreover, in that very session that the motion was made in the Commons for an address to Henry to take back the Queen into his company. But the King, as we have already seen, after rebuking the offenders who had proposed to intrude upon him such unwelcome counsel, reminded the House of the way in which they had already made themselves a party to his quarrel with the clergy. The Convocation, he said, had made an answer to their complaints which he thought would hardly satisfy them; but that was a matter he left it to them to deal with. "You be a great sort of wise men," he told them. "I doubt not but you will look circumspectly on the matter; and we will be indifferent between you." (fn. 26)
Thus leaving it for a time to the Commons to vindicate their own consistency, and prosecute their quarrel against spiritual men, with the assurance of his "benevolent neutrality," the King, no doubt, succeeded in getting that assembly into as pliant a condition as was needful. Then on the 11th May he sent for them again, and told them he had made the astounding discovery that the clergy were but half his subjects, for the bishops at their consecration made an oath to the Pope utterly inconsistent with their oath of allegiance to himself; and he desired them to take order that he might be no longer defrauded of so much of his sovereign rights. The Speaker departed, and caused the terms of the two oaths to be read in Parliament; and the way was paved for those more sweeping measures which were carried two years later. (fn. 27)
That the petition of the Commons against the spirituality really emanated from the Court, is placed beyond a doubt by the fact that four corrected drafts of it exist in the Record Office, the corrections generally being in Cromwell's hand. (fn. 28) The substance of it was that, owing to the diffusion of heretical books in English printed abroad, and the uncharitable demeanour of some of the Bishops in prosecutions before the spiritual courts, much discord had arisen between the clergy and the laity at large. The clergy made laws of their own in Convocation inconsistent with the laws of the realm. Poor men were cited arbitrarily before spiritual courts by the ordinaries and their commissaries, often without any accusers but their judges. Laymen were cited out of their dioceses. The fees taken in spiritual courts were excessive, and the delays and trouble in probates and other processes were intolerable. Such were the grievances. The answer of the ordinaries, of which a copy is also preserved among the public records, (fn. 29) is printed in Wilkins' Concilia. It was certainly a temperate and dignified reply. The Bishops disowned all feeling of discord in their own hearts, protesting that they exercised their spiritual jurisdiction in all charity, but that they were in duty bound to prosecute evil-disposed persons and heretics. Their authority to make laws, they maintained, was derived from Scripture and the determinations of the Church, "which," they alleged, "must also be a rule and square to try the justice of all laws, as well spiritual as temporal." But as the laws of the realm had been made by "most Christian, religious, and devout princes and people," it was quite impossible the two systems of law could clash. They were both derived from the same fountain, and the one must rather maintain the other.
With equal dignity they demurred to a proposal that they should submit their laws to the King, and ask his assent to them; for though the King, they said, for his wisdom and virtue was most worthy to command them, they must do their office. Nevertheless they desired to know his pleasure in all things, which they would follow if they could with a safe conscience. As to an insinuation that their privileges were a danger to the prerogative, they were sure it could have no weight whatever with a prince of Henry's wisdom. (fn. 30)
Of this "Answer of the Ordinaries," it will be seen that there is a copy in the Record Office, (fn. 31) extending to a much greater length than that printed by Wilkins from the records of Convocation. In fact, the full text of this document has never yet been published; for the portion which appears in Wilkins is only about one quarter of the whole, and leaves the great majority of the grievances quite unnoticed. The Record Office copy, on the other hand, is a complete reply, answering each particular grievance individually, and some at very considerable length. Among the unprinted articles is the following, which is of special interest, as being drawn up more specifically in the name of Archbishop Warham :—
"Item, where they say that your Grace's subjects be originally acited to appear out of the dioceses that they dwell in, and many times be suspended and excommunicate for small and light causes, upon the only certificate devised by the proctors, &c., and that also your said most humble and obedient subjects find themself grieved with the great and excessive fees taken in the spiritual courts, &c. :—
"To this article, for because it concerneth most specially the spiritual courts of me, the Archbishop of Canterbury, please it your Grace to understand that about twelve months past I reformed certain things objected here, and now within this ten weeks I reformed many other things in my said courts, as it is (I suppose) not unknown unto your Grace's commons, and some of the fees of the officers in my courts I have brought down to halves, some to the third part, and some wholly taken away and extincted; and yet it is objected as though I had taken no manner reformation therein; nevertheless I will not cease yet, but in such things as I shall see your Grace's commons most offended I will set some redress accordingly, so as I trust your Grace's worshipful commons woll be contented in that behalf. And I, your Grace's most humble chaplain, the said Archbishop of Canterbury, entirely beseech your Grace to consider what high services the doctors of civil [law] (fn. 32), which have been brought up and have had their experience and practice in my said poor courts, have done to your Grace, and your Grace's most noble progenitors, concerning treatises, (fn. 33) truces, confederations, and leagues drawn, devised, and concluded with outward Princes; and how that without such learned men in civil law your most noble Grace and your progenitors could not have been so honourably and so conveniently served in that behalf as at all times ye and they have been; which thing, percase, when such learned men in civil law shall fail within this your realm, woll appear more evident than it doth now. The decay whereof grieveth me to forsee and remember, not so greatly for any cause concerning specially the pleasure or profit of myself, being a man spent, and at the point to depart this world, and having no penny of any advantage by my said courts, but principally for the good love and zeal that I bear to the honour of your most noble Grace, and of this your realm, that it may continue in as high estimation in outward realms by the honourable service of learned men in civil law, being ambassadors, after my death, as it hath at all times hitherto; of which learned men having good experience, your Grace shall not fail to have good choice when time shall require, if the doctors of my court, the Arches, may be entertained there as they have been in times past, being there for a season practising and preparing themselves to be able to do your Grace acceptable service, when your Grace shall call them and command them. And albeit there is, by the assent of the lords temporal and the commons of your Parliament, an Act passed thereupon already, the matter depending afore your Majesty by way of supplication offered up unto your Highness by your said Commons; yet forasmuch as we, your Grace's most humble chaplains, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, be straitly bounden by oath to be intercessors for the right of our churches, and forasmuch as the spiritual prelates of the clergy, being of your Grace's Parliament, consented not to the said Act, for divers great causes moving their consciences, we, your Grace's said chaplains, in our most humble manner show unto your Highness that it hath appertained to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, the right of their churches for the space of 400 years or thereabouts, to have spiritual jurisdiction over all them, your Grace's subjects, dwelling within their provinces, and to have authority to call them afore them by citation, not only in spiritual causes devolved to them by way of appeal, but also by way of querymony and complaint; which right and privilege pertaineth not only to the persons of the said Archbishops, but also to the dignities and the preëminences of their churches, in so much as when the Archbishop of either of the said sees dieth, the said privileges doth not only remain to his successor (by which he is named legatus natus), but also, in the meantime of vacation, the same privilege resteth in the churches of Canterbury and York, and is executed by the prior, dean, and chapters of the said churches; and so the said Act is directly against the liberty and privileges of the churches of Canterbury and York, lawfully prescribed by so long time as is aforesaid. And what dangers be to them which study and labour to move and induce any persons to break or take away the liberties and privileges of the Church, whoso woll read the General Councils of Christendom and holy canons of the Fathers of the Catholic Church ordained in that behalf shall soon perceive as well as though they were here expressed. And further, we think verily that our churches, to whom the said privileges were granted, can give no cause why the Pope himself (whose predecessors granted that privilege) or any other (the honour of your Grace ever except) may justly take away the same privilege, so lawfully prescribed, from our churches, though we had greatly offended, abusing the said privileges. But where in our persons we trust we have given no cause why to lose that privilege, we most entirely and most humbly beseech your Grace that of your superabundant goodness and absolute power, it may please the same to set forth an order and direction in this behalf, as we may enjoy the privileges of our churches lawfully prescribed and admitted so long afore, (fn. 34) by the consent of your most noble Grace, your progenitors, the temporal lords and spiritual prelates, and all the commons, both spiritual and temporal, of this your Grace's realm."
I forbear to follow up the history of this important controversy, even so far as it is contained in the documents calendared in this volume. Convocation, as is well known, were informed that their answer did not give satisfaction; and we have their second answer, still supporting their former position, but offering, in deference to the King, not to publish laws henceforth without his consent. (fn. 35) We have also three different drafts of a further compromise; (fn. 36) and we have the subtle and apologetic, but still manly and honest, letter of Bishop Gardiner, deprecating the King's displeasure for having drawn up these replies on behalf of Convocation. (fn. 37) Finally, we have the submission which the clergy were ultimately compelled to make, promising not to execute any new canons or constitutions without the King's consent, and to revise those already made. (fn. 38) The Royal supremacy had in fact been already admitted by the clergy, and it was hopeless to remonstrate with effect when now it was practically asserted.
It was a striking comment, however, upon these proceedings, that on the very day the clergy tendered their submission to the King at Westminster, Sir Thomas More, Lord Chancellor of England, surrendered the Great Seal into his hands. (fn. 39) A layman in fact, a churchman in mind, he had all along viewed the King's policy with dissatisfaction, and, "after long suits made to the King to be discharged of that office," (fn. 40) his resignation was at length accepted. For eight months England was without a Lord Chancellor, at least in name. There was certainly no one to fill More's place, either in point of learning, ability, or character. But a few days after More's resignation the Seal was given to Thomas Audeley, hitherto Speaker of the Commons, whom the King ordered to be called Keeper of the Great Seal, and to exercise under that designation the functions of a Lord Chancellor,—the honour of knighthood being conferred upon him at the same time, as if to make up for other deficiencies. With this convenient tool, the business of the Chancery went on till, in January 1533, it was thought right to give him the name of Chancellor, in addition to the duties.
The well-known story of Friar Peto rebuking the King in a sermon at Greenwich, for his conduct in putting away Katharine, and of the rebuke being afterwards reiterated by Father Elston, in opposition to a preacher on the King's side, is commonly attributed to the year 1533; and, in accordance with this date, Stowe speaks of the rebuke as having reference to the marriage with Anne Boleyn. But the incident is related in a letter of Chapuys, which is very precisely dated in April 1532. (fn. 41) It was on Easter Sunday in that year that Peto preached the sermon which first gave the King offence; and the results of the incident are alluded to in several other letters in this volume. (fn. 42) The friars of Greenwich, for the most part, were eager for an opportunity of vindicating what their warden and provincial had already said; but there were others among them, of whom the chief was Father Lawrence, not unwilling to obtain favour at court by corresponding with Cromwell and the King, and betraying their brethren. (fn. 43)
The people, however, and especially the weaker sex, took up the cause of the Queen no less strenuously than the friars. In July Henry had gone northwards on a hunting tour, when he suddenly turned back; and though other explanations were put forward, it seemed on the whole most likely that he was daunted by some displays of popular feeling for which he had not been prepared. In two or three places through which he passed the people urged upon him to take back the Queen, and the women insulted Anne Boleyn as she rode along with him. (fn. 44) At Yarmouth, about the same time, as we find by a commission of oyer and terminer issued immediately after, an unlawful assembly of women took place, "which it was thought could not have been held without the connivance of their husbands." (fn. 45) The indignation must indeed have been strong which could thus have broken through all the ordinary restraints of society to denounce injustice and oppression. Some small indications of it, indeed, found their way even into the King's palace, and serious inquiries were set on foot whether trivial expressions were not pregnant with deep political meaning. One of the court fools, it seems, had been taught a particular trick of falling off his horse backward for the amusement of spectators; and even he, it was said, would remark on some of these occasions that the King, too, would have a fall shortly. The saying was bruited abroad in the City, and the Prior of the Crutched Friars took notice of it as an encouragement to his brethren to stand firm and true to their religion. Days of trial, he said, were evidently at hand; it was already whispered that, owing to the opposition he had met with, the King was going to pull down certain religious houses; and if he did, he would deserve to be called, not Defensor, but Destructor Fidei. (fn. 46)
To a King who was always anxious to stand well with his people, as far as his own self-will and obstinacy would permit, these symptoms must have been particularly annoying. But, apart from fears entertained for religion, the sympathy with Katharine was combined with another feeling which must have given still deeper pain. Anne Boleyn was spoken of in the country as a common prostitute, who ruled the King at her pleasure, and "made all the spiritualty to be beggared, and the temporalty also." (fn. 47) What, indeed, could be thought of the favourite who accompanied the King from place to place after he had finally parted from his wife, when he had not yet obtained a divorce? It was simply impossible that she should, now at least, be credited with that "purity of life," that "maidenly and womanly pudicity," which Wolsey had insisted on, some years before, (fn. 48) as grounds for obtaining the Pope's sanction to her marriage with the King. The Imperial ambassador in England certainly thought her Henry's mistress. The Imperial agents at Rome give her that name expressly. The French ambassador, as far back as 1529, had suspected too great intimacy between them. (fn. 49) Reports were even spread in 1531 that but for a miscarriage she would have been a mother. (fn. 50) But whether this were so or not, there could be little doubt of the nature of her relations with the King. More than one Papal brief had taken notice of the report that Henry had deserted his lawful wife, and cohabited with a certain Anne. (fn. 51) The imputation, indeed, was never denied by the King himself, or by his reputed paramour; and it would be mere affectation in any one, since these evidences have come to light, to pretend to disbelieve it now.
Anne Boleyn, to do her justice, was eager enough, on her part, to exchange this dishonourable mode of life for lawful matrimony, and the title of a Queen. But how she could be lawfully, or at least honourably and safely, married to Henry without some judicial decision as to the nullity of his marriage with Katharine, was a problem not very easy of solution. As yet no such decision seemed procurable. The utmost to be hoped for was that means might be found to intimidate the Pope, and prevent him from excommunicating the parties, if they took the responsibility upon themselves. There cannot be a reasonable doubt that this was the principal motive which induced Henry to seek an interview with the French king in the latter part of the year 1532; and that he was to some extent successful there is positive evidence to show. A meeting at Calais began to be talked about in the middle of August, and inquiries were made at the Cinque Ports how many days' notice would be required to get ready sufficient transports. (fn. 52) The project was by no means popular, and was against the minds of almost all the Council. No one, indeed, in Chapuys' opinion, seemed to relish it, except the King himself and Anne Boleyn. The Duke of Suffolk, for one, had spoken so strongly against it that the King had several times insulted him at the Council Board. The thing, however, was settled privately between the King, Anne Boleyn, and the French ambassador; (fn. 53) and the arrangements were hurried on that it might be accomplished with as little delay as possible.
It actually took place in October following; and if it did not equal the glories of the Field of the Cloth of Gold, it was still imposing enough. Accompanied by a train of 140 lords and knights arrayed in velvet, and a body of 600 horse, Henry set forth from Calais on Monday the 21st October to meet the French king at Sandingfield; while Francis, on his side, brought with him the King of Navarre, the Cardinal of Lorraine, and the Duke of Vendôme, with a train of similar extent. There the Kings embraced each other five or six times on horseback, and the lords on opposite sides followed their example. They rode hand in hand for a mile towards Boulogne, and then lighted and drank to each other. On approaching Boulogne they were joined by the Dauphin, the Duke of Orleans, the Count of Angoulême, and four Cardinals, with a body of 1,000 horse. Guns were shot off, which were heard at a distance of twenty miles; and the streets of Boulogne were lined with the Swiss, Scotch, and French guards as they passed along. On Friday following, Francis, in return, visited the King at Calais, and was received with salvoes of artillery, in number greatly exceeding the French salutes of Monday. For some days he remained the guest of Henry at Calais, where he was entertained with bear and bull baiting. After supper a number of English ladies, headed by Anne Boleyn, who was newly created Marchioness of Pembroke, danced with their faces hidden in masks, for the amusement of the company; but after a time the King took off their visors, and they danced another hour with the Frenchmen. (fn. 54)
As a great demonstration of the close alliance between England and France, the interview was undoubtedly a success; and an official report of the proceedings was printed by Wynkyn de Worde. But one object in connection with it seems to have been in the King's mind, which he did not find himself at liberty to carry out. The King had scarcely returned to England, when a rumour began to be circulated that he had intended marrying Anne Boleyn at the interview, but found it advisable to defer such a step to a more convenient opportunity. (fn. 55) If Francis could only have been induced to recognise the favourite as Queen of England, Henry, no doubt, would have been emboldened to defy the censures of the Vatican. But Francis, though not an over-scrupulous person in what concerned mere social morality, was not likely to countenance an open violation of Church law, in defiance alike of the Pope and the Emperor, merely for the sake of his most dear brother and ally. He was willing enough to dance with the Marchioness of Pembroke; but to dishonour the Emperor's aunt by acknowledging any one else as Henry's Queen, was a responsibility he could not have been willing gratuitously to incur.
No one, indeed, seems till then to have anticipated that the King, with all his obstinate persistency, was capable of pressing matters quite so far. Anne Boleyn was by this time well known to be the King's mistress, and it was not for such a one that marriage vows and Papal dispensations could be expected to be set aside. In August rumour anticipated rather a marriage between Henry and the French king's eldest daughter, as a probable aim and object of the interview. (fn. 56) And when in September Anne was created Marchioness of Pembroke, with a grant of landed revenues to the value of 1,000l. a year, (fn. 57) observers at a distance actually took it as an indication that he intended to dispose of her in marriage to some one else. (fn. 58) But the Imperial agents at Rome were not deceived; they were relieved to learn that the King had not actually married Anne Boleyn at the interview; and they succeeded on the 15th November in compelling the Pope to issue a second brief, enjoining Henry, in somewhat stronger terms than before, to take back Katharine and put away his mistress, and forbidding him to marry either Anne Boleyn or any other, on pain of excommunication. (fn. 59)
So matters stood at the period to which this volume comes down, the end of the year 1532, in relation to the great subject which had so much to do with the whole course of future history. Among matters of minor political importance contained in these pages, we must be content with a mere mention of one or two subjects, which the reader can follow up for himself. As regards external policy, the fortifications at Calais, of which an account is given at No. 370, and the conferences in the Low Countries for the revision of commercial treaties, (fn. 60) demand some attention from the historian, though the former affords rather matter for topographical and economic study. With regard to domestic affairs, the foundation of Christchurch as King Henry VIII.'s College, (fn. 61) the building of a new palace at Westminster, (fn. 62) the formation of St. James's Park, (fn. 63) and, finally, the appearance of the plague in London in 1532, (fn. 64) are all matters of very considerable though secondary interest. The accounts of the building of Westminster Palace will certainly have much interest for the local antiquary. The materials were derived partly from the demolition of the older palace, partly from the King's other palace at Kennington, which was also taken down, and partly (shameful to relate) from Wolsey's College at Ipswich, which was also suppressed to swell the Royal magnificence, as well as from the stores the Cardinal had left behind him at Esher and other places.
It may be worth while, perhaps, also to call attention to the working account of the King's mines at Llantrissaint (No. 262), and the indenture for minting money at the Tower. (No. 919.)
On matters connected with religion, the notices of Bilney, Crome, Latimer, Bainham, and Tewkesbury, (fn. 65) and the letters of Stephen Vaughan concerning Tyndale, (fn. 66) are full of interest. But these documents, it is almost superfluous to say, are already well known, having been printed at full length in various publications. I may, however, observe, in reference to a point in chronology touched upon in the footnote at page 63, that further consideration inclines me to believe in the accuracy of the date of No. 129. It will be seen by No. 928 that the articles against Crome, Latimer, and Bilney were set forth on the 3rd March 1531; and twelve months later, on the 11th March 1532, they were administered,—it is expressly said, not for the first time,—to Latimer, who refused to sign them till the 10th April. (fn. 67) It may seem probable that they were administered (but not in Convocation) to all the three,—Crome, Latimer, and Bilney,—in March 1531, when Crome, who, being in high favour at court, was examined before the King himself, gave in his entire submission. Bilney, as we know, suffered martyrdom in the course of that same year; and Latimer, by a curious coincidence, seems to have been brought up for examination on the exact anniversary of the day on which Crome subscribed. For it would appear by the proceedings of Convocation that no one but Latimer was examined on the 11th March 1532; and, if so, there is no good ground for doubting that the examination of Crome took place at the date assigned to it in the Calendar.
In conclusion, I have to express my obligations to Mr. C. Trice Martin, of this Office, who has assisted in the progress of this work during the last eighteen years, and whose services have been rendered no less cordially to me than they have been in past years to Mr. Brewer.