CHAPTER XII. THE HERESIES OF THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY-(CONTINUED). – ARTICLE I. -THE SCHISM OF ENGLAND. – l. – THE REIGN OF HENRY VIII. – 1.- Religion of England previous to the Reformation. 2. -Henry VIII. marries Catherine of Arragon, but becomes enamoured of Anna Boleyn. 3.-The wicked Wolsey suggests the invalidity of the marriage Incontinence of Anna Boleyn; suspicion that she was the daughter of Henry. 4.-Calvin refuses to have his cause tried by English Judges; “Wolsey is made prisoner, and dies at Leicester. 5.-Henry seizes on the property of the Church, and marries Anna Boleyn. 6.-He obliges the Clergy to swear obedience to him, and Cranmer declares the marriage of Catherine invalid. 7. -The Pope declares Anna Boleyn’s marriage invalid, and excommunicates Henry, who declares himself Head of the Church. 8. -He persecutes Pole, and puts More and Fisher to death. 9. -The Pope declares Henry unworthy of the kingdom; the King puts Anna Boleyn to death, and marries Jane Seymour. 10.-The Parliament decides on six Articles of Faith; the bones of St. Thomas of Canterbury are burned; Jane Seymour dies in giving birth to Edward VI. 11. The Pope endeavours to bring Henry to a sense of his duty, but does not succeed. 12. -He marries Anne of Cleves; Cromwell is put to death. 13. -Henry marries Catherine Howard, whom he afterwards put to death, and then marries Catherine Parr. 14.-His remorse in his last sickness. 15. -He makes his will, and dies.
- The history of England cannot be read without tears, when we see that nation, formerly the most zealous in Europe for Catholicity, now become its persecuting enemy. Who will not be touched with sorrow to see a kingdom, so attached to the Faith, that it was called the Land of Saints, now buried in heresy? Fifteen English Kings, and eleven Queens, renounced the world and became religious in different Convents. Twelve Kings were Martyrs, and ten have been placed in the catalogue of the Saints. It is said that previous to the schism there was not a village in England which had not a Patron Saint born on the spot. How dreadful it is to behold this land the abode of schism and heresy (1). England, it is said, received the Faith of Christ in the time of Tiberius Caesar. Joseph of Arimethea (2), Sanders says, with twelve of his disciples, were the first to introduce Christianity into the country which, in the time of Pope Eleutherius had spread so much, that at the request of King Lucius he sent them Fugacius and Damian, who baptized the King and many of his subjects, and, having cast down the idols, consecrated many churches, and established several Bishoprics. England remained firm in the Faith in the time of Diocletian, and there were many martyrs there during his reign. Christianity increased very much during the reign of Constantine, and though many fell away into the errors of Arius and Pelagius, they were converted again to the true Faith by the preaching of St. Germain and St. Lupus, who came from France for that purpose. About the year 596, Religion was almost lost by the Saxon conquest, but St. Gregory sent over St. Austin and forty Benedictine Monks, who converted the whole Anglo-Saxon nation, and they were remarkable, for nearly a thousand years after, for their zeal for the Faith and their veneration for the Holy See. During all this long period there were no Sovereigns in Christendom more obedient to the See of Eome than those of England. In the year 1212, King John and the Barons of the kingdom made England feudatory to the Holy See, holding the kingdoms of England and Ireland as fiefs from the Pope, and paying a thousand marks every year on the feast of St. Michael, and Peter’s Pence, according to the number of hearths in these kingdoms, which was first promised by King Ina, in the year 740, augmented by King Etholf, and paid up to the twenty-fifth year of Henry’s reign, when he separated himself from the obedience of the Holy See.
(1) Jovet. Storia della Relig. t. 2, dal. prin. i Gotti, Ver. Re. c. 113, s. 1. (2) Sand, de Schism, Anglic, in Pro.
Many Provincial Councils were held in England during these centuries likewise, for the establishment of Ecclesiastical discipline, which was always observed till Henry’s reign, when, to satisfy a debasing passion for a wicked woman, he plunged himself into a whirlpool of crimes, and involved the nation inhis ruin, and thus this unfor tunate country, the glory of the Church, became a sink of wickedness and impiety.
- You shall now hear the cause of England’s ruin. In the year 1501, Henry VII. married his eldest son, Arthur, to Catherine of Arragon (3), daughter of his Catholic Majesty Ferdinand, but the Prince died before the consummation of the matrimony; she was then married to his second son, Henry VIII., by a dispensation of Julius II., with the intention of preserving the peace with Spain, and had five children by him. Before we proceed, however, it will be right to learn that Henry was so much attached to the Catholic Religion that when it was attacked by Luther he persecuted his followers to death, and caused all his books to be burned one day in his presence by the public executioner, and had a sermon preached on the occasion by John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester. He then published a work defending the doctrines of Faith in the seven Sacraments, in opposition to Luther, though some say the book was composed by Fisher of Rochester, and dedicated it to Leo X., who honoured him on the occasion with the title of Defender of the Faith (4). Blind to every thing, however, but his love for Anna Boleyn, he began to hold his wife, Queen Catherine, in the greatest aversion, though she was twenty-five years married to him (5). She was five or six years older than Henry, but Anna Boleyn was considered the most beautiful woman in England, and when she saw the impression she made on the King’s heart, she refused to see him any more unless he married her. Henry was of that disposition that the more he was thwarted in any wish the more obstinate he became in gratifying it, though having once obtained his object despised it; and seeing that he never could enjoy Anna Boleyn’s favour unless by marrying her, he resolved on the step, let it cost what it may. It was this determination that involved England in ruin.
(3) Gotti, c. 113, 8 . 2, n. 1, 2; Herm. Hist. Conc. c. 166. (4) Gotti, loc. cit. n. 2. (5) Bossuet, His. des Variat. t. 2, 1. 7, n. 1.
3.It was England’s misfortune at that period to be almost governed by Thomas Wolsey, a man of low birth, but whose intriguing disposition made him such a favourite with Henry that he was elevated not only to the Archbishopric of York, but was made Lord Chancellor of the kingdom, and Cardinal (6). This unprincipled flatterer, seeing the King disgusted with Catherine, his Queen, advised him to apply for a divorce, and encouraged his scruples (if he had any), telling him his marriage never could be legalised, as Catherine was his brother’s wife. This objection, however, never could stand, for Henry had the Pope’s dispensation to marry Catherine (7); the case was maturely examined at Rome, and the impediment that existed was not imposed by the Divine Law, but was merely a Canonical one. That is proved by the Scripture, for we learn from Genesis, xxxviii, that the Patriarch Juda made his second son, Onan, marry Thamar, the wife of his elder brother, who died without children; and in the Mosaic Law there was a precept obliging the younger brother to take his elder brother’s widow to wife if he had died without leaving children : ” When brethren dwell together, and one of them died without children, the wife of the deceased shall not marry to another, but his brother shall take her, and raise up seed for his brother” (Deut. xxv, 5). What, therefore, was not only permitted but commanded by the Old Law, never could be contrary to the Law of nature. Neither is the prohibition of Leviticus, xviii, 16, to be taken into account, for that applies only to the case that the deceased brother has left children, and not, as in the former case, where he died childless, for then the brother is commanded to marry the widow, that his dead brother’s name should not be lost in Israel. There is, then, not the least doubt but the dispensation of the Pope and the marriage of Henry were both valid. Bossuet, in his History of the Variations (8), tells, us that Henry having asked the opinion of the Sorbonne as to the validity of his marriage, forty-five doctors gave their opinion that it was valid, and fifty-three were of the contrary opinion, but Molineaux says that all these votes were purchased on the occasion. Henry even wrote to the Lutheran Doctors in Germany, but Melancthon, having consulted others, answered him that the law prohibiting a man to marry his brother’s wife could be dispensed with, and that his marriage with Catherine was, therefore, valid.
(6) Nat. Alex. Hist, t. 19, c. 13, a. 3, n. 1; Gotti, c. 213, s. 2, n. 6. (7) Gotti, . 2, n. 3. (8) Boss. al. cit. l. 7, n. 61.
This answer was far from being agreeable to Henry, so he held on to Wolsey’s opinion, and determined to marry Anna Boleyn. It has been said that this lady was even Henry’s own daughter, and it is said that her father, who was ambassador in France at the time, came post to England (9) when he heard of the affair, and told Henry that his wife confessed to him that Anna was Henry’s daughter, but Henry made him, it is said, a rude answer, told him to go back to his place, and hold his tongue, and that he was determined to marry her. It is also said, that, from the age of fifteen, Anna was of bad character, and that, during her residence in France her conduct was so depraved that she was called usually by an improper name (10).
- Henry was fully determined to marry this unfortunate woman (11), so he sent to Rome to demand of the Pope to appoint Cardinal Campeggio and Cardinal Wolsey to try the case of the divorce. The Pope consented, but the Queen appealed against these Prelates as judges, one of them being the King’s subject, and the other under obligations to him. Not withstanding the appeal, the cause was tried in England, and Henry was in the greatest hurry to have it decided, being certain of a favourable issue for himself, as one of the judges was Wolsey, the prime mover of the case. Wolsey, however, was now afraid of the tempest he raised, which portended the ruin of religion, so he and Campeggio tried every means to avoid coming to a decision, seeing the dreadful scandal it would cause if they gave a decision in the King’s favour, and dreading his displeasure if they decided against him. The Pope admitted the justice of the Queen’s appeal (12), and prohibited the Cardinal Legates from proceeding with the cause, which he transferred to his own tribunal. Henry then sent Cranmer to Rome to look after his interests.
(9) Floremund, l. 6, Synop. c. 2, n. 2; Gotti, c. 113, s. 2, n. 8, 9, 10; Nat. Alex. loc. cit. n. 1 (10) Gotti, n. 9. (11) Nat. Alex. cit. n. 1, Varillas 1st. t. 1, l. 9, p. 412. (12) Nat. Alex. t. 19, art. r, n. 2.
This man was a Priest, but of immoral life, and had privately embraced the Lutheran doctrines, and he was indebted to Anna Boleyn for the King’s favour. Henry likewise endeavoured to draw to his party Reginald Pole and Thomas More; but these were men of too much religion to yield to him. To frighten the Pope into compliance with his wishes, he prohibited, under the severest penalties, any of his subjects from applying for any favour or grace to Rome, without first obtaining his consent. God made use of Henry as an instrument to punish Wolsey now for his crimes. The King was furious with him, because he did not expedite the sentence in his favours so he deprived him of the Bishopric of Winchester (though this is doubtful), and the Chancellorship, and banished him to his Sec of York. He lived some time at Cawood, in Yorkshire, and made himself very popular in the neighbourhood by his splendid hospitality. Henry gave an order for his arrest, and commanded that he should be brought to London, but he suffered so much on the journey, both in mind and body, that, before he could arrive, he died at Leicester, in the month of December, 1530. A report was sent abroad that he poisoned himself, but the fact is, that, when he found he was accused of high treason, his heart broke. ” Had I served God, * said he, ” as faithfully as I served the King, he would not have given me over in my grey hairs” (13).
- In the meantime, Cranmer wrote from Rome that he found it impossible to get the Pope to consent to the divorce, so he was recalled by Henry (14), and went to Germany, where he married Osiander’s sister or niece (15); and on the death of William Warham, Archbishop of Canterbury, was appointed to that See, but with the express condition of doing what the Pope refused pronouncing a sentence of divorce between Henry and Catherine (16). When Henry found that the Ecclesiastics of the kingdom took up Catherine’s side, he determined to punish some of them, and prosecuted them on a præmunire, for preferring the Legatine to the Royal authority. The Clergy, terrified at this proceeding, and having now no one to recur to, offered the king 400,000 crowns to compromise the matter, and admitted his sovereign power in the realm, both over the Clergy and laity.
(13) Gotti, c. 113, sec. 2, n. 13, in fin. & Nat. Alex. loc. cit. n. 2. (14) Jovet, t. 2, p. 29; Gotti, sec. 2, n. 14. (15) Bossuet l. 7, n, 9. (16) Nat. Alex.. t. 19, c. 13, a. 3, n. 2; Gotti, loc. cit.
Thomas More (17), seeing the ruin of England at hand, resigned the Chancellorship to the King, who accepted his resignation, and appointed Thomas Audley, a man of little means, in his place. Pope Clement VII. , seeing what imminent danger the kingdom ran, from the blind admiration the King professed for Anna Boleyn, endeavoured to save it, by prohibiting him, under pain of excommunication, from contracting a new marriage till the question of divorce was settled (18). This prohibition only exasperated Henry the more, so, despising both the admonitions and censures of the Pope, he was privately married to Anna Boleyn, before the break of day, in the month of December, 1532, having previously created her Countess of Pembroke (19). Roland Lee was the officiating Priest, and it is believed by some that Henry deceived him, telling him he had the Pope’s leave for marrying again.
- Thomas Cromwell (20), under favour of Queen Anna, was now advanced to the highest honours. He was a man of the greatest cunning, and the most unbounded ambition, and a follower of the Lutheran doctrine. Henry made him Knight of the Garter, Grand Chamberlain of the Kingdom, Keeper of the Privy Seal, and made him also his Vicar- General for Ecclesiastical affairs (21), which he entirely managed as he pleased, in conjunction with Archbishop Cranmer and the Chancellor Audley. He obliged Ecclesiastics to take an oath of obedience in spirituals to the King, paying him the same obedience as they previously did the Pope. Every means was used to induce John Fisher, the Bishop of Rochester, to take this oath, which he at first refused to do, but at last consented, adding, as a condition, ” inasmuch as it was not opposed to the Divine Word.” When this pillar of the Church fell, it was not difficult to induce the rest of the Clergy to take the oath. Cranmer was now ready to fulfil his part of the agreement made with Henry; he accordingly pronounced his marriage with Catherine opposed to the Divine law, and declared him at liberty to marry any other woman, and, on the strength of this declaration, Henry was solemnly married to Anne on the 13th of April, 1533 (22).
(17) Gotti, c. 113, sec. 2, n. 15. (18) Nat. Alex. t. 19, c. 13, a. 3, n. 3. (19) Gotti, sec. 2, n 16; Varillas, t. 1, l. 9, n. 420. (20) Gotti, sec. 2, n. 17. (21) Nat. Alex. loc. cit, n. 3; Gotti, loc. cit. (22) Nat. Alex. Loc. cit.; Gotti, c. 113, sec. 2, n. 18; Bossuet, Variat. l . 7, n. 21.
- Pope Clement VII. now saw that there was no longer any use in mild measures, and was determined to act with extreme severity. He, accordingly, declared the marriage with Anna invalid; the issue, either present or future, illegitimate; and restored Queen Catherine to her conjugal and royal rights (23). He likewise declared Henry excommunicated for his disobedience to the Holy See, but this sentence was not to be enforced for a month, to give him time for repentance. So far from showing any signs of change, Henry prohibited, under the severest penalties, any one from giving the title of Queen to Catherine, or styling Mary heiress to the kingdom, though she had been already proclaimed as such by the estates of the Realm. He declared her illegitimate, and sent her to live with her mother Catherine, appointing a certain fixed place for their residence, and employing about them a set of spies, or guards, rather than servants (24). In the meantime, Anna Boleyn had a daughter, Elizabeth, born on the 7th of September, five months after her solemn marriage, and Henry continued his persecution of the Catholics, by sending to prison Bishop Fisher, Sir Thomas More, and two hundred Observantine Friars of the Order of St. Francis; and in the parliament convoked on the 3rd of November, 1534, a bill was passed in both houses, declaring Mary, the daughter of Catherine, excluded from the succession, and recognizing Elizabeth, Anna’s daughter, as heiress to the throne. The power of the Pope in England and Ireland was rejected at the same time, and whoever professed to believe in the primacy of the Holy See was declared a rebel. He assumed an authority over the Bishops of the kingdom greater than the Pope ever possessed, for he granted them their powers as if they were secular magistrates, only till he wished to revoke them, and it was only by his authority they were allowed to ordain Priests or publish censures. Finally, it was decreed that the King was the supreme head of the Church of England; that to him alone it belonged to extirpate heresies and correct abuses, and that to him, by right, belonged all tithes and first-fruits.
(23) Nat. Alex. art. 3, n. 4; Gotti, sec. 2, n. 20.
(24) Gotti, loc. cit.
The name of the Pope was expunged from the Liturgy, and among the petitions of the Litany the following was sacrilegiously inserted: “From the tyranny and detestable enormities of the Bishop of Rome deliver us, O Lord” (25).
- Henry knew that his assumption of the primacy was condemned, not alone by Catholics, but even by Luther and Calvin, so he gave orders that it should be defended by theologians in their writings, and many complied with this command, some willingly, and others were forced to it. He was desirous that his relative, Reginald Pole, should publish something in favour of it, but he not alone most firmly refused to prostitute his pen to such a purpose, but wrote four books, ” De Unione Ecclesiastica,” in opposition to the pretended right, which so provoked the tyrant, that he declared him guilty of high treason, and a traitor to his country, and tried to get him into his power, to put him to death, and when he could not accomplish his wish, he had his mother, his brother, and his uncle executed, and this noble family was almost destroyed and brought to ruin. He, for the same reason, commenced a most dreadful persecution of the Friars, especially the Franciscans, Carthusians, and Brigittines, many of whom he put to death (26), besides Bishop Fisher and Thomas More, whom he sent to execution in the year 1534(27). While Bishop Fisher was in prison, he was appointed Cardinal by Paul III., which, when Henry heard, he at once had him condemned to death. It is related of this holy Bishop, that when he was about to be brought to the place of execution, he dressed himself in the best clothes he could procure, as that was, he said, the day of his marriage, and as, on account of his age and his sufferings in prison, he was so weak, that he was obliged to lean on a staff, when he came in sight of the scaffold he cast it away, and cried out : ” Now, my feet, do your duty, you have now but a little way to carry me.” When he mounted the scaffold he entoned the Te Deum, and thanked the Almighty for permitting him to die for the Faith; he then laid his head on the block.
(25 ) Nat. Alex, t, 19, c. 13, n. 3, n. 5; Gotti, c. 113, sec. 2, n. 21. (26) Gotti, n. 22; Nat. Alex. loc. cit. n. 5. (27)Bossuet His. l. 7, n. 11.
His head was exposed on London Bridge, and it is said appeared quite florid, and more like the head of a living than a dead person, so that it was ordered to be taken down again (28). Sir Thomas More also died a glorious death. When he heard that the Bishop of Rochester was condemned to death, he exclaimed: “Lord, I am unworthy of such glory, but I hope thou wilt render me worthy.” His wife came to the prison to induce him to yield to the King’s wishes, but he refused, and after fourteen months confinement he was brought to trial, but never swerved, and was condemned to lose his head. When about to mount the scaffold, he called to a man near him to assist him to climb the steps; ” But when I am to come down, my friend,” said he, ” I will want no one to assist me.” On the scaffold he protested before the people that he died for the Catholic Faith. He then most devotedly recited the Miserere, and laid his head on the block. His execution spread general grief all over England (29).
- When Paul III., the successor of Clement, was informed of the turn affairs had taken, he summoned Henry and all his accomplices to his tribunal, and in case of contumacy, fulminated the sentence of excommunication against him, but this was not published at the time, as there appeared still some hope that he would change his conduct; but all was in vain, he only every day involved himself more and more in crime. He now, as head of the Church, issued a commission to Cromwell, a layman, to visit the Convents, both male and female, in his dominions, to dismiss all Religious who were not twenty-four years of age, and to leave the others at liberty to go or stay, as they wished; this, it is said, though I believe not on sufficient foundation, threw ten thousand Religious back again into the world (30). About this time Queen Catherine died; she always bore her affliction with the greatest patience, and just before her death, wrote to the King- in terms which would melt the hardest heart (31). The vengeance of the Almighty was now impending over Anna Boleyn, the first cause of so much misery and woe. Henry’s affection was now very much cooled towards her, especially as he became enamoured of one of her maids of honour, Jane Seymour. Anna still had some hopes of regaining his affection, by presenting him with a male heir, but in this she was disappointed, the child was still-born; then her misfortunes commenced; she was accused of incest with her brother, George Boleyn, and of criminal conversation with four other gentlemen of the Court.
(28) Sand. l. 1, dc Schis. Ang.p. 135; Gotti, sec. 2, n. 22. (29) Sand. & Gotti, loc. cit. n. 23. (30) Gotti, c. 113, s. 2, n. 24; Nat, Alex. t. 19, r. 13, art, 3, n. 6. (31) Sander, l. 1, p. 107, 112; Gotti, s. 3, n. 25; Nat. Alex. loc. cit.
Henry refused at first to believe the charge, but his jealousy was raised, and his love for Jane Seymour contributing, likewise, to her ruin, she was committed to the Tower at once. Bossuet informs, us that Henry called on Cranmer to declare now, that his marriage with Anna was invalid from the beginning, and Elizabeth, his daughter, illegitimate, since Anna was married to him during the lifetime of Lord Percy, then Earl of Northumberland, between whom and Anna, it was asserted there was a contract of marriage. But this charge was unfounded; there was not even a promise between them; the only foundation for the assertion was, that Percy was at one time anxious to marry her; for all, she was condemned to death for adultery, and the sentence was, that she should be burned or beheaded, at the King’s pleasure. She begged to be allowed to speak to the King, but was refused; all the favour she could obtain was, that she should be beheaded; this sentence was carried into execution, and her brother, likewise, and the four gentlemen accused of being her paramours, underwent the same fate. On the day of her execution, the lieutenant of the Tower remarked to her, by way of consolation, that she would not suffer much, as the executioner was very expert; she smilingly answered : ” My neck is very slender.” The day after, Henry married Jane Seymour (32).
- He again convoked Parliament on the 7th of June, 1536, and had the law passed in favour of Elizabeth, to the exclusion of Mary, daughter of Queen Catherine, repealed, and the six Articles were passed for the regulation of religious affairs in the kingdom. The First was, that the Transubstantiation of the bread into the body of Christ in the Eucharist, was an article of Faith. Second That communion should be given under one kind. Third That the Celibacy of the Clergy should be observed. Fourth That the vow of chastity was binding. Fifth That the celebration of the Mass was in conformity with the Divine Law, and that private Masses were not only useful, but necessary. Sixth That auricular confession should be strictly practised.
(32)Varill. l. 9, p. 423; Gotti, s. 2, n. 26; Hermant, c. 200; Nat. Alex. cit. n. 6; Bossuet, Hist. l. 7, n. 21, 22, 23.
All these articles were confirmed by the ing, and both houses, and the penalties imposed on heretics applied to all who would either believe or teach doctrines in opposition to them (33). The primacy of the King, however, was left intact, so Henry, using his new power, appointed Cromwell, though a mere layman, his Vicar-General in Spirituals for the entire kingdom, and ordained that he should preside at all the Synods of the Bishops (34). When Paul III. was informed of all these sacrilegious attempts on the integrity of Faith, and especially of the affair of St. Thomas of Canterbury, who was tried and condemned as a traitor to his country (35), and his sacred body disinterred, burned, and the ashes thrown into the Thames, he published a brief on the 1st of January, 1538, ordering that the sentence before passed against Henry should be published (36). It was, however, delayed on account of the melancholy death of Queen Jane, who died in childbirth, leaving Henry an heir, afterwards Edward VI., under whom the ruin of England was completed, as in his time, heresy was firmly rooted in the country. It is said (but the report does not rest, I believe, on a good foundation), that when Henry found that there was danger of the child being lost, he ordered an operation to be performed on the mother, saying he could get wives enough, but not heirs (37).
- On the death of Jane Seymour, Henry immediately began to look about for his fourth wife, and Paul III., hoping to bring him to a sense of his duty, wrote him a letter in which he told him of the sentence of excommunication hanging over him, which he did not promulgate, having still hopes that he would be reconciled with the Church; at the same time, he created Reginald Pole a Cardinal, and sent him to France as his Legate, that he might endeavour to arrange a marriage between Henry and Margaret, the daughter of Francis I. of France. Cardinal Pole accordingly went to France, and arranged the matter with Francis, but Henry would not agree to it, and he wrote to Francis, telling him that Pole was a rebel, and requiring Francis to deliver him up to him.
(33) Bossuet Hist. L 7, n. 33; Nat. Alex. t. 19, art. 3, n. 7; Gotti, s. 2, art. 27 (34) Varill. t. 1, I. 12, p. 544. (35)Varil. t. 1, c. 11, p. 515; Nat. Alex. loc. cit. n. 8. (36) Gotti, s. 2, n. 23. (37) Varil. p. 306; Nat. Alex. loc. cit;Gotti, s. 2, n. 2.
This Francis refused to do, but he told the Cardinal the danger he was in, and by his advice he quitted France. Henry, disappointed in his vengeance, laid a price of fifty thousand crowns on his head (38).
- Cromwell (not Oliver the President) now thought it a good opportunity to induce the King to take a wife on his recommendation, and bring him over to his own Religion, which was Lutheran (39). He then proposed as a wife to him Anne, daughter of the Duke of Cleves, head of one of the noblest families in Germany, sister of the Electress of Saxony. Anne had a great many good qualities which would fit her for a crown, but she was, unfortunately, a Lutheran, and her relations were the chiefs of the League of Smalcald. Of this League Henry was anxious to be admitted a member, but the Lutherans had not confidence in him, and he then imagined that by marrying a Lutheran Princess he would remove any difficulties which previously existed to his admission. The marriage was celebrated, to Henry’s great joy, on the 3rd of January, 1540, and Cromwell was made High Chancellor on the occasion, and Earl of Essex. Henry was only seven months married when, as usual, he publicly declared himself discontented with his Queen, especially as she was a heretic, as if he could be called a Catholic. He now became enamoured of Catherine Howard, niece of the Duke of Norfolk, Earl Marshal of England, and one of the maids of honour to Queen Anne, and seeing no hopes of obtaining her favour unless he married her, he called on Cromwell to assist him now again to get divorced from Anne of Cleves. Cromwell had embarked his fortunes in the same boat with the Queen; he dreaded that her divorce would be the cause of his fall, and he refused most determinedly to have any hand in it. Henry, displeased with his obstinacy, eagerly sought an occasion to ruin him, and was not long in finding it. The chiefs of the Protestant League sent their agents to London to conclude with Henry the alliance he was before so desirous of, but as he was now determined to repudiate Anne, he had no longer any wish to league himself with the Lutherans, so he refused to treat with the agents; but Cromwell, confiding in his favour, took on himself to sign the treaty.
(38) Varill. t. 11, p, 507, et scq. (39) Varill. t. 1, l. 12, p. 551
Some say that Henry was privy to this act, but this is denied by others; however it was, the upshot of the affair was the disgrace of Cromwell, for when the Emperor loudly complained of the alliance, Henry swore that he had no cognizance of it. He sent for Cromwell one day, and in presence of many of the nobility, charged him publicly with signing a treaty for which, he had no authority, and ordered him immediately to be conducted to the Tower. Cromwell begged hard for a public trial, to give him an opportunity of justifying his conduct in the affair, but as, independently of that charge, he was convicted of other crimes heresy, peculation, and illegal impositions he, who was the cause of so many Catholics being condemned without a hearing, was, by the just judgment of the Almighty, condemned himself, and was decapitated, quartered, and his property confiscated (40). Henry now had the Queen informed that unless she consented to a divorce he would have the laws against heretics put in force against her, she being a Lutheran. Dreading the fate that awaited her, from his known cruelty, and wishing to avoid also the shame of a public repudiation, she confessed, it is said, that previous to her marriage with the King she was promised to .another; so Thomas Cranmer, who gave the sentence of divorce in the cases of Catherine and of Anna Boleyn, now for the third time pronounced a similar sentence. The decision was based on the greatest injustice, for the contract of marriage between Anne and the Duke of Lorraine, on which it was founded, took place while they were both children, and was never ratified. How, then, could Henry’s solemn marriage be affected by this ? But Cranmer, whom Burnet compares to St. Athanasius and St. Cyril, decided that it was null and void, merely to please Henry, who immediately married another. Queen Anne accepted a pension of 3,000 a-year, but never returned to Germany again (41).
(40) Varillas, t. 1, l. 12, p. 53; Nat, Alex. c. 23, a. 3, n. 7; Bossuet, l. 7, n, 34. (41) Varill loc. cit. ;>. 675; Bossuet, loc. cit.
- Within a week Henry was married to Catherine Howard, who soon met the same fate as Anna Boleyn. She was charged before Parliament with dissolute conduct with two individuals, before her marriage, and with adultery since, and was condemned to be beheaded (42). Henry then got a law passed, the like of which was never before heard of, enacting it high treason for any lady to marry the King, if previously she had ever offended against chastity (43). He then married Catherine Parr, sister to the Earl of Essex (44); she survived him, but having married the brother of the Regent Somerset, Thomas Seymour, Lord High Admiral of England, who suffered death by the sentence of his own brother, she died of a broken heart.
- Death, at last, was about to put an end to Henry’s crimes; he was now fifty-seven years of age, and had grown to such an enormous size that he could not almost pass through the doorway of his palace, and was obliged to be carried by servants up and down stairs (45). A deep-rooted sadness and remorse now seized him; all his crimes, sacrileges, and scandals stared him in the face. To establish the sacrilegious doctrine of his primacy over the English Church he had put to death two Cardinals, three Archbishops, eighteen Bishops and Archdeacons, five hundred priests, sixty Superiors of religious houses, fifty Canons, twenty-nine peers, three hundred and sixty-six knights, and an immense number both of the gentry and people. Ulcers in one of his legs, together with fever, now plainly told him that his end was nigh, and some writers assert that he then spoke to some of the Bishops of his intention of being again reconciled to the Church, but not one among them had the courage to tell him plainly the course he should take. All dreaded his anger; and none were willing to brave the danger of death, by plainly telling him that his only chance of salvation was to repent of his evil deeds to repair the scandal he had given and humbly return to the Church he had abandoned. No one was courageous enough to tell him this; one alone suggested to him that he ought to convoke parliament, as he had done when about to make the changes, to set things again to rights. He ordered, it is said, the Secretaries of State to convoke it, but they feared they should be obliged to disgorge the plunder of the Church, and put off the convocation, and thus he left the Church in the greatest confusion; and soon, as we shall see, irreparable ruin overtook it (46).
(42) Gotti, s. 2, n. 29; Hermant, t. 2, c. 266; Nat. Alex. loc. cit. n. 7. (43) Varill. loc. cit. p. 575. (44) Varill. t. 2,I 13, . 575; Nat. Alex. a. 3, n. 7. (45) Varill. t. 2,1. 16 p.98 (46) Varillas, loc. cit. p. 99.
- Just before Henry’s death he opened a church belonging to the Franciscans, and had Mass again said in it (now Christ Church Hospital), but this was but little reparation for so much mischief. He then made his will, leaving his only son, Edward, heir to the throne, then only nine years of age, appointing sixteen guardians to him, ordering that he should be brought up in the Catholic Faith, but never resign the primacy of the English Church, so that he was unchanged even in death. In case that Edward died without issue, he left the crown to Mary, daughter of Queen Catherine, and should she likewise die without issue, to Elizabeth, daughter of Anna Boleyn (47). He caused Mass to be celebrated several times in his chamber, and wished that the Viaticum should be administered to him in the one kind alone. When the Viaticum was brought in he received it kneeling, and when it was told him, that, considering the state he was in, that was unnecessary, he said : ” If I could bury myself under the earth, I could not show sufficient respect to the God I am about to receive” (48). How could he, however, expect to please the Almighty by such acts of reverence, after trampling on his Church, and dying out of her communion? He endeavoured, by these external acts, to quiet that remorse of conscience he felt, but, withal, he could not recover the Divine grace, nor the peace he sought. He called for some Religious to attend him at his last moments, after banishing them out of the kingdom (49); he next called for something to drink, and having tasted it he said to those around him, in a loud tone, ” So this is the end of it, and all is lost for me,” and immediately expired. He died on the 1st of February, 1547, at the age of fifty-six, according to Noel Alexander, or in his fifty-seventh year, according to others, and in the thirty-eighth year of his reign (50).
(47) Gotti, s. 2, n. 31; Varillas, t. 2, p. 99. (48) Nat. Alex. a. 3, n. 9; Gotti, s. 2,n. 30; Varillas, loc. cit. (49) Bart. 1st d’Inghil. l. 1, c. 1, p 4. (50) Natal, loc. cit.; Varill. p. 100; Bartol. p. 3.