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I: WOLSEY AND THE DIVORCE OF HENRY VIII - John Emerich Edward Dalberg, Lord Acton, Historical Essays and Studies 
Historical Essays and Studies, by John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton, edited by John Neville Figgis and Reginald Vere Laurence (London: Macmillan, 1907).
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WOLSEY AND THE DIVORCE OF HENRY VIII.1
Half a century ago a writer of great authority delivered the opinion that few things in history were better known than the divorce of Catharine of Aragon. Since that time the archives have been explored, and the old story which satisfied Hallam will never be told again. Mr. Brewer has done more than any other man to dispel the dark tradition, and to pour light upon an epoch which will always interest every description of educated men. After all that has been already gathered from Rome and Venice and Simancas, from Brussels and Vienna, his volume on the last and most momentous years of Wolsey’s ministry embraces seven thousand letters, of which a large proportion are important and new. The most competent of his foreign critics, Dr. Pauli, reviewing the earlier part of the Calendar, declared that no other country possesses a work so satisfactory and complete; and this is not exaggerated praise, although even Mr. Brewer’s analysis cannot be accepted as a substitute for the full text of documents. He has not aimed so high; and his readers will not seldom find that there is something still to learn in earlier and humbler publications.
If the Calendar does not utterly supersede all previous collections, the introduction in which Mr. Brewer has gathered up the innumerable threads, and has woven them into a consistent picture, so far surpasses all former narratives of the same events as to cause regret that he has not chosen rather to write a life of Wolsey, which everybody would have read, than to bury the fruit of so much study in prefaces to bulky and not very accessible volumes. With little additional labour he would have enjoyed greater freedom in the management of materials and in the use of colour, and literature would have been endowed with a popular masterpiece. Mr. Brewer has thought it a duty to devote the whole of his accumulated knowledge and power to the public work which has occupied so large a portion of his life. So few men are capable of extracting for themselves and digesting all the information his Calendar contains, that the elaborate introductions by the editor add immeasurably to its permanent utility and value. But it is impossible not to feel and to regret the generosity of so great a sacrifice.
Many of the problems that have agitated and perplexed ten generations of men are still unsolved. Yet, although we have not reached the fulness of knowledge that sates curiosity, it is not likely that much more will be learnt. Some progress may be looked for in biography; for the early lives of Gardiner, Tunstall, and Cromwell have not been studied; nobody has taken the pains to restore the true text of the original Life of Fisher; and not one of More’s fifteen biographers has worked from manuscripts. The Vatican continues to yield priceless additions to the works of Raynaldus, of Theiner, and of Lämmer; part of the correspondence of Charles V. lies unused at Brussels; and the papers of Campeggio may yet, perhaps, be found in the place where Sigonius saw them. But whatever the future may reveal, we now possess, in Mr. Brewer’s pages, an account of the Divorce, to the fall of Wolsey, which is eminently trustworthy and intelligible.
That which distinguishes the whole reign of Henry VIII., both in Wolsey’s happier days and during the riotous tyranny of later years, the idea of treating ecclesiastical authority not as an obstruction, but as a convenient auxiliary to the Crown, was anticipated by the example of his father-in-law Ferdinand. The Norman conquerors of Sicily established a form of government in which the spiritual power was more completely subdued by the civil than in any other place beyond the Byzantine boundary. In the struggle for the inheritance of the Suabian emperors, the Sicilians resisted for centuries the anathemas and the arms of Rome, and the kings of the House of Aragon maintained themselves in defiance of excommunications which were almost perpetual, and of an interdict which lasted seventy years. In a country which had endured ecclesiastical isolation so long, the Papacy could not recover its influence when the dynastic strife was ended. The Kings of Sicily acknowledged no superior, but exercised all jurisdiction themselves, allowing no appeals, and holding under strict control the intercourse between Rome and the Church within the island. This system of undivided power, consolidated and codified under Ferdinand the Catholic, became known by the significant designation of the Sicilian Monarchy. It was established without a conflict, and without ostensibly derogating from the papal dignity, by the instrumentality of the fiction that the King was, in his own dominions, hereditary Legate of the Pope. The combination of legatine authority with the highest political office in the person of Wolsey was an expedient that bore close practical resemblance to this institution.
It was in 1515 that Ferdinand proclaimed himself the virtual head both of Church and State in Sicily—cujus tam in spiritualibus quam in temporalibus curam gerimus. In the following year Henry VIII. demanded that Leo X. would appoint his favourite minister Legate a latere. For three years he made the demand in vain. It was granted at length, and the appointment was justly described as the keystone of the Cardinal’s position. Henry had too much of the instinct and of the passion of power to surrender willingly the advantage which it gave him. That advantage could be preserved only by close union with Rome, or by the exclusion of its authority. The intimate alliance with the Papacy through every vicissitude of political fortune which is characteristic of Wolsey’s administration, actually prepared the way for separation after his disgrace. It was so essential an element in his scheme of government that it was not disturbed when Henry imputed to Leo, and bitterly resented, his failure to obtain the Imperial crown.
The elevation of his rival, the King of Spain, suddenly raised England to an important position in the politics of Europe. An auction began, at which Francis I. sought to purchase her friendship with gold; whilst Charles V. not only offered the same sums as his competitor, but increase of territory at his competitor’s expense. France was still our hereditary enemy. England remembered that an English King had been crowned in the French capital; and Calais was an irritating memorial of the lost inheritance, and of conquests that had ended in defeat. The nation adopted with joy the alliance with the House of Burgundy, and Parliament voted supplies for war against France.
To make sure of Wolsey, Charles promised that he should be made Pope; and the compact was scarcely concluded when the See of Rome fell vacant. The Cardinal summoned the Emperor to employ his army in securing his election. Charles assured him that he would not shrink from force if it was needed; but the choice of the conclave fell so speedily on Adrian VI. that his sincerity was not tested. Wolsey waited, without discouragement, for another chance. In less than two years Adrian died, and Wolsey was again a candidate. His ambition was not unreasonable. He was the foremost of ecclesiastics and of statesmen; and it had been said of him long since that he was seven times greater than the Pope. In the conclave of 1522 six cardinals had paid him the compliment of inscribing his name on their votes.1 The traditional aversion of the College for men from the barbarous North had been put aside in favour of one who, in point of public service and political reputation, bore no comparison with the Cardinal of York; and when it was first reported that a foreigner was elected, people supposed that it must be Wolsey. He now tempted his colleagues with enormous bribes, and he appealed once more to the Emperor. Charles acknowledged his engagements, and even exhibited a copy of the orders sent to his ambassador to procure Wolsey’s election. But he caused the original to be detained, and took care that no effort should be spared to ensure the elevation of Medici; or, failing Medici, of Colonna or Farnese.
This time the disappointment was final, and no hope remained. It could not escape the sagacity of the Cardinal that the new Pontiff, who was younger than himself, had been raised to the throne by him whose support he had so painfully striven to secure, that his own claim had not been seriously put forward, and that he had been fooled with false professions. He at once prepared to withdraw from the warlike alliance against France.
In the year 1523, while Suffolk ingloriously harried Picardy, Wolsey already manifested his disbelief in the project for recovering the lost dominions of the English Crown, and opposed the attempt to push the frontier beyond the Somme. His moderate counsels were encouraged by the new Pope, Clement VII., whose minister, the famous Datario Giberti, revolving vast schemes for the expulsion of foreigners from Italy, solicited in secret the co-operation of England, and began by proposing a suspension of arms. Just then the French were expelled from Lombardy; and Bourbon, on the point of invading France, bound himself by the most sacred oaths to depose Francis, and to acknowledge no King but Henry. Richard Pace, the successor of Colet at the Deanery of St. Paul’s, a respectable scholar, but a negotiator of unsound judgment, who was destined, in the imagination of the Imperialists, to supplant Wolsey, followed the invaders over the Maritime Alps, and witnessed the easy conquest of Provence. He persuaded himself that the whole kingdom would speedily be overrun, and that Bourbon would be faithful to his oath. The Constable was a traitor and a deserter, yet Pace declared that it would be folly to doubt his word, and that it would be Wolsey’s fault if he did not seat his master on the throne of the Valois. The prospect that dazzled Pace, and attracted the ambitious King, did not disturb the Cardinal’s clearer vision. He supplied the Imperial generals with some money and much advice, reminding them of the first axiom of military science, that the object of war is the destruction of the enemy’s forces in the field. When Pescara turned aside from the campaign to besiege Marseilles, he refused to send a single English soldier into France. That Bourbon and Pescara should employ their victorious troops in making the Emperor master of the coast that connected his Spanish dominions with his Italian conquests, was reasonable. But it was not to be believed that they would risk destruction by plunging into the heart of France, from a chivalrous desire that a foreign potentate, who refused to help them, should be made, in spite of himself, as powerful as their master. Wolsey warned Pace that he had allowed himself to be made a dupe; and Pace protested that the ruin of the expedition was due to the malice of Wolsey.
For many months a discreet agent of the French King had been concealed at Blackfriars, and he was followed, before the end of 1524, by an envoy of great distinction. As the tide of fortune turned, and the besiegers of Marseilles were shut up in Lodi and Pavia, Wolsey drew nearer to France, without renouncing his claims on Spain. The rivalry that subsisted like a permanent force of nature between the two Powers, gave him hope that he would be able, by his skill in negotiation, to derive profit, and to incur no risk, from the success of either. Whilst the issue was undecided, he would not commit England irrevocably. But the spirit of the Burgundian alliance gradually changed to resentment, and in February 1525 the seizure of the Imperial agent’s papers disclosed the secret animosity that was parting the allies. The French envoys were on the way to their first audience, when they were met by the news from Italy that their King was taken, and his army destroyed. The calculations founded on the balance of power were overthrown. No advantage could be extracted from the keenness of a competition which had come to an end. The men who in the previous year had denounced the backwardness of Wolsey, were triumphant; and in Spain, in Italy, in the Low Countries, the English agents clamoured for the immediate partition of France.
If the policy of the last four years was worth anything, the time had come to prove it. The allies were victorious; Charles had gained the object for which he had associated himself with England; it was now to be shown what English purpose that association had served. Henry sent Tunstall to Madrid to demand the Crown of France. At the same time he attempted to raise money for the French war by a method of coercion which was termed an Amicable Grant.
Charles V. refused everything. He would fulfil no engagement. He would not keep his promise to marry Henry’s daughter, unless she was sent to be educated in Spain. Instead of paying his debts, he asked for more money. At the same time the Amicable Grant was met by a general and indignant resistance. Henry could obtain no help at home or abroad towards the conquests which had formed so long the ruling purpose of his actions. The political system which had been constructed on the friendship and the pledges of Charles V. had ended in disastrous and dishonourable failure. England had spent much, and had acquired nothing. The Emperor, who had undertaken to continue the payments and pensions formerly made by France, had repudiated his obligation, and had solicited the Pope to release him from it. When he wanted the help of England, he had obtained it for nothing. He contemptuously refused to pay for it now that he required it no more.
Wolsey had long prepared for this. Whilst, with seeming confidence, he invited Charles to redeem his bond, he was making his bargain out of the extreme necessity of France. The Regent, Louise of Savoy, could cede no territory; but she was willing to pay a heavy price for the only succour that could avail, and Wolsey exacted a sum of money equal to the ransom for which Charles afterwards released his captive. Gold was in his eyes a surer gain than the expensive chances of conquest; but it was hard for Henry to content himself with a sordid equivalent for glory. The Emperor Maximilian, whose capricious and ingenious fancy was so little satisfied with things as they were that he wanted to be Pope, and talked of making Henry Emperor in his stead, had also suggested that he should be King of France. Down to the battle of Pavia Henry pursued this idea. What Henry V. had done with the slender resources of his time seemed not impossible now, with the aid of the most powerful of the French vassals, and of those alliances which displayed Wolsey’s imperial art. To relinquish so hopeful an enterprise without a shadow of political or military success, whilst the hearts of his people were hardened against him, and his confederate defied him at the division of the spoil, was an impotent and ignominious end of Henry’s aspiring schemes. The author of all this humiliation was Wolsey. It was his policy that had been brought to ruin by the subtler art of the Imperial Chancellor Gattinara. His enemies at home had their opportunity, and they were the whole nation. Detested by the nobles for his influence over Henry, by the clergy for his use of the powers delegated by Rome, and, in spite of his profuse beneficence, by the people of England, as the oppressor of the nobility, he had hardly a friend except the King, whose pride he had brought so low.
Yet Wolsey withstood the shock, and his credit remained unshaken. Henry adopted his inglorious policy, bowed his own imperious will before the resistance of London citizens and Kentish monks, and, at the moment when the crown of France seemed near his grasp, abandoned without a struggle the cherished hope of rivalling the Plantagenets. Wolsey was able to bring these things about because of an important change that had come over the domestic life of the King.
Catharine of Aragon was little past forty; but the infirmities of age had befallen her prematurely, and her husband, though he betrayed it by no outward sign, had become estranged from her since the end of the year 1524.1 As long as she was fair and had hope of children, and as long as the Austrian alliance subsisted, her position was unassailed. But when her eldest children died, people had already begun to predict that her marriage would not hold good;2 and now that she had lost the expectations and the attractiveness of youth, a crisis came in which England ceased to depend on the friendship of her family, and was protected against their enmity by a close union with France and Rome.
The motives that impelled Wolsey to take advantage of the change were plausible. For a quarter of a century the strength of the Tudors had been the safety with which the succession was provided for; but when it became certain that Catharine would have no son to inherit the crown, the old insecurity revived, and men called to mind the havoc of the civil war, and the murders in the Royal House, which in the seven preceding reigns had seven times determined the succession. To preserve the Tudor dynasty, the first of the English nobles had suffered death; but nothing was yet secure. If a Queen could reign in England, Henry VII., who had no hereditary claim except through his mother, who survived him, was not the rightful king. Until the birth of Elizabeth no law enabled a woman to wear the crown; no example justified it; and Catharine’s marriage contract, which provided that her sons should succeed, made no such provision for her daughters. It was uncertain whether Mary would be allowed to reign unchallenged by the Scots or by adherents of the House of York. The White Rose had perished, in the main line, amid the rout of Pavia; yet Catharine tortured herself with misgivings as to her daughter’s claim. The Earl of Warwick, a helpless and unoffending prisoner, had been put to death, that her wedding might be auspicious. His sister Margaret, the Countess of Salisbury, was living, and directed the Princess’s education. Catharine vowed that she could not die in peace unless the crimes of her husband’s family against the House of York had been atoned by the marriage of Mary with the Countess of Salisbury’s son.
It was not unreasonable to apprehend that Henry, who had been unfaithful to the Queen in earlier years, would not be true to her now; that he would fall under the dominion of favourites put forward and prompted by the Cardinal’s enemies, and that his inheritance would be disputed by bastards. The King’s soul, the monarchy, and Wolsey’s own position were in jeopardy. It might well be difficult to distinguish the influence of politics, interest, and conscience on his choice of the expedient by which he hoped to avert the peril.
To a man who understood policy better than religion, the public reasons for dissolving the King’s marriage were better than those which had recommended it to his father; and there was a strong inducement, therefore, to ponder the words of Leviticus, and to regard the almost immediate death of the King’s three sons as the penalty of his transgression. In the arbitrary and uncertain condition of the law, it was seldom difficult to find excuses for the dissolution of a Royal marriage. Henry could expect that nothing would be denied to him that favour or influence could procure for others. No man’s marriage was exposed to more obvious objection.
The battle of Pavia had placed Rome at the mercy of the Emperor. Giberti appealed to Wolsey to unite with France in a league for the protection of Italy and of the Church. A breach between Spain and Rome was essential to the success of that which he meditated; and nothing could be more welcome than the appearance of the Pope striving to combine in one confederacy all the enemies of Spain. Having embarked in so perilous a venture, he could assuredly be made to give a heavy price for English aid. Wolsey received his proposals with the promise of hearty assistance. The Queen, the Court, every influence in the State and in the nation was against him. But he persuaded the King to enter into the scheme of Clement VII., with the assurance that he would be rewarded by spiritual favours more than sufficient to repay all that he gave up to obtain them. From that moment may be discerned the faint but suggestive trace of a secret that required the intervention of the Pope and threatened disturbance at home.
On Easter Sunday, two months after the great turn of fortune at Pavia, Wolsey first caused it to be known that he had renounced the expectation of benefit from the friendship of Charles V.1 Just at this time the Primate Warham reminded him that it was unwise to broach too many causes of displeasure at once, and advised that the Amicable Grant be dropped “till this great matter of the King’s grace be ended.”2 On the 21st of April Wolsey wrote to Clement a solemn and mysterious letter, entreating him to listen favourably to a certain matter which would be submitted to him by Clerk, the Bishop of Bath, who was the Cardinal’s most trusted confidant. But the secret was one which the Bishop thought it an unpropitious moment to reveal. He was recalled in the summer, and Casale and Ghinucci, the two men whom Wolsey selected to take charge of the divorce in 1527, were sent in his place to expose business of great moment to the Pope.
Clement and his allies did not dare to defy the Emperor while the King of France remained his prisoner, for they justly feared that Francis would seek his own freedom by betraying them. He proposed to Charles that they should subjugate Italy together, and should reduce the Pope to the position occupied by the Patriarch of Constantinople at the Court of the Macedonian Emperors. But the chief Minister of Charles V., Gattinara, was a Piedmontese, who preserved the love of his country in the service of its oppressor. He distrusted and opposed the plans of Francis. He even imagined a scheme by which his countrymen, having been rescued from the French by the Spaniards, should buy off the Spaniards by a tribute large enough to avert the financial ruin of Spain. Before attempting war, the Italians tried what could be done by treachery. They offered the crown of Naples to Pescara, the ablest of the Imperial Commanders, as a bribe to desert the Emperor. Pescara threw his tempter into prison; and a year passed without an effort to mend the fortune of Italy. At length Francis was released, and the Italian patriots took heart to avow their warlike purpose. Clement put himself at the head of a Sacred League, which was joined by France, and protected by England. Giberti called upon his countrymen to cast out the invader; and Sadolet, in State papers, which are perhaps the noblest compositions of the Renaissance, proclaimed the liberty and the independence of Italy.
The moment for which Henry waited had come. Clement had burnt his ships, had refused fair terms of peace, and could not venture to deny the allies who sheltered him from manifest ruin. The secret matter which had slumbered for a year revived. Giberti assured Wolsey that the Pope would do for him all that was within his power.1 But Clerk, who was again at Rome, reported that all else would be well but for the inauspicious business of the divorce. Henry paid a large sum into the Papal treasury: but his cause made no progress during the autumn of 1526. Six months later the difficulties were overcome, and matters were arranged in a way so satisfactory to Wolsey that he boasted of it as a triumph of skill.2
The Pope soon repented of the temerity with which he had challenged the supremacy of Spain. The stronger confederates held back, while the weaker stood exposed to the calculated vengeance of Charles V. Imperial partisans made their way into the Leonine City and plundered the Vatican. The Emperor appealed before the assembled Cardinals to a General Council against the acts of the Pontiff. This threat had power over Clement. He could not, without danger, allow his claim to be disputed before a hostile audience. His right to enjoy the higher honours of the Church had been questioned by reason of his birth, and his election to the Papacy had been accomplished under conditions which gave ground for cavil. He was elected in consequence of a private agreement with Cardinal Colonna, who was his enemy through life, who had tried to exclude him from the conclave, who attempted afterwards to expel him from the throne. Men suspected the secret method which had wrought that surprising change. It was reported that the rivals had made a simoniacal compact by which Medici obtained the tiara, while Colonna received the richest office and the finest palace in the gift of the Pope. But by a recent law of Julius II. an election won by bribes or promises was for ever invalid. The Pope’s courage gave way; even Sadolet declared that resistance was unavailing; and Giberti, boiling with indignation and resentment, and bewailing that it was his fate to serve the subtle and vacillating Florentine instead of the resolute English Cardinal, confessed that, without encouragement from France or hope from England, it was necessary to submit to terms dictated by Spanish generals. In a condition so precarious, the Pope could take no active share in a transaction which was an outrage to the Royal family of Spain. But the Datario’s animosity against the Imperialists was such as to incline him towards measures which would injure them without compromising the Papacy.
Giberti had applied for an English pension, and he long continued to be trusted as a supporter of Henry’s cause. After the fall of Rome he withdrew to his diocese of Verona, where the fame which he won as the model of a perfect bishop has obscured the memory of his political career. He confided to the English agents the fact that he had left the Court because Clement was ungrateful to those who deserved well of him.1 They understood that Giberti had advised him to concede what Henry asked for in his matrimonial affairs; and they induced him to return to Rome, under a promise that he would use all his influence in the King’s behalf. What was the measure of encouragement he gave during the last days of his ministry, in the spring of 1527, cannot be ascertained. It probably amounted to no more than this, that the marriage might be tried in England without the interference of the Pope. As things then stood, such an understanding would be sufficient to justify the exultation of Wolsey.
Up to this time the idea of divorce had occupied the thoughts of Henry in a vague and languid way. Neither aversion for the Queen, nor desire of an heir, nor religious scruple caused him to pursue it with a fixed determination. Whilst it was uncertain who was to be his future Queen, the King displayed no eagerness. The only power whose aid was worth seeking, or that could venture to affront Charles by taking advantage of his kinswoman’s disgrace, was France. In the House of Valois there were two princesses. Renée, the Queen’s sister, was ill-favoured and all but deformed. Henry was not likely to incur such risk for such a bride. On his last journey to France Wolsey met an envoy from Hungary, who had been sent to ask the hand of Renée for his master. He wrote to the King that the envoy when he saw her had forthwith renounced his purpose. He wrote in terms he would not have thought prudent if he had lately designed that she should be Catharine’s successor.
The King’s sister, Margaret Duchess of Alençon, was richly endowed with talent and beauty, and she became a widow in April 1525, at the moment when England forsook her Burgundian ally. At first it was imagined that she would marry the Emperor; and she visited Spain, hoping, perhaps, in that way to effect her brother’s deliverance. In the year 1526 Margaret was again in France: and a widely spread tradition, doubted but not discussed by Mr. Brewer, points to her as the wife intended for the King. The Venetian Falier, the only diplomatist who showed a disposition to accept the Cardinal’s account of the divorce, says that he had made proposals for her hand. The testimony of other writers is vitiated by an anachronism; for they assign the divorce to the year 1527, when Margaret was already married to a second husband. Guicciardini and Harpsfield speak of Renée, as if either name was a guess suggested by obvious probability. Du Bellay, the shrewdest of courtiers, conjectured that Renée had been thought of. He cannot have heard that it was Margaret. She herself once reminded Henry, in after-years, that she was to have been his wife. This speech, which would have been ungracious if she had refused him, was an allusion to proposals made by Lewis XII., immediately after Prince Arthur’s death, and renewed in vain until 1507. Francis I. was willing to encourage a measure whch would perpetuate enmity between his powerful neighbours; but he would have lost his advantage by implicating himself irrevocably on one side of the quarrel. Intermarriage with the House of Tudor was an object of his policy; but before concluding it he gave his sister in marriage to the King of Navarre, and planned a match between Renée and Hercules, Prince of Este.1 In the spring of 1527 no princess was left who could have taken the place of Catharine. The repudiation of his Spanish wife would not enable Henry to compensate himself by closer ties with France. The divorce, promising no political advantage, could only make way for the elevation of an English bride. But though purposeless now as an affair of State, it became an object of passion.
After long preliminaries a treaty of alliance with France was signed in April 1527; and Henry betrothed his daughter Mary to the son of his ally. The event was celebrated on the 4th of May by a ball, at which the French ambassador, Turenne, danced with the Princess. King Henry’s partner was Anne Boleyn. At that time she had lived at Court four years, and Henry, though not dissolute according to the standard of contemporary monarchs, had long regarded her with feelings which contributed to make him indifferent to a foreign match. She repelled his suit; and for more than a year he could obtain no sign of requited love. At length he made her an offer of marriage, which was accepted. His letter is undated; but it must have been written about the time when Anne Boleyn first became conspicuous: not later, because the intrigue which was designed to make her Queen stood revealed before the end of May. There is cogent reason to believe that it was not written earlier. Lord Rochford deposed before the Legates at Blackfriars that the conjugal estrangement between the King and Queen had begun in 1527.1 His evidence is worthless regarding the date of the desertion of Catharine; but it goes far to determine the date of the engagement of Anne, which he must have known. For in the interest of the Boleyns it was essential that the scruples of Henry should have preceded the proposals of marriage to their daughter. If the offer had been made earlier than 1527, it would have ruined their cause to assign to that year the awakening of the King’s conscience.
As soon as the Queen had an appointed rival, and the pleas of policy and religion were absorbed in the stronger influences of passion, the divorce was pressed forward with desperate and unrelenting energy. The friendship of France was secured, and there was nothing to be feared from Rome. On the 17th of May, the Archbishops, Warham and Wolsey, responsible in their character of Legates for the observance of public morality and ecclesiastical law, called Henry to justify himself before them, forasmuch as he was living, in defiance of the Levitical prohibition, in wedlock with his brother’s widow. The proceedings were secret. Proctors appeared to accuse and to defend the marriage. Both accuser and defender were officers in the household of the King.
The effect of this collusive suit was to put Henry in the position of defendant. He took charge of the Queen’s interests as well as his own. He was not a persecutor, but a victim; the protector, not the assailant, of her happiness and honour. It was in his power so to conduct the defence as to ensure his condemnation, and so to contrive his appeal as to ensure its rejection. Instead of putting forward his own suspicious scruples, he would appear to yield, with grief and remorse, to the solemn voice of the Church, reproaching him with involuntary sin, and dividing those whom God had not joined. It was intended that Catharine should know nothing until sentence was given.
At the end of a fortnight Wolsey adjourned the court. So grave an issue required, he said, that he should consult with the most learned prelates. In truth, the plot was marred by the fall of Rome. The Pope was shut up in the castle of St. Angelo. There was no hope that the Emperor’s prisoner would confirm a sentence against the Emperor’s aunt. There was danger that he might be induced, by fear or calculation, to revoke the Legate’s authority, or to visit the fraudulent intrigue with the censures which were never better employed than in protecting the weak, and upholding the sanctity of marriage. That danger neither Henry nor Wolsey had the hardihood to face. No more was heard of the abortive suit until, in our day, Mr. Brewer dragged it into light.
Wolsey had already sounded the opinion of the divines. The first consultation was unfavourable. The Bishop of London, the Dean of St. Paul’s, Wakefield, the first Hebrew scholar in the country, six learned men sent up to Lambeth by the University of Cambridge, pronounced that the marriage was valid. Pace and Wakefield promptly retracted. Cambridge was partially brought round by Cranmer. It was generally believed in England that Catharine, in her brief union with Prince Arthur, had not, in fact, contracted affinity with her husband’s kindred. It was difficult otherwise to understand how Henry VII. could have spoken seriously of making her his Queen. Such things might be in Portugal, where the King could scarcely be prevented from marrying his step-mother. But in England stricter notions prevailed. Tunstall afterwards declared that he had defended the marriage only until he was convinced that the popular belief on this point was wrong.
No English divine enjoyed so high a reputation as John Fisher, the Bishop of Rochester. Of all the works written against Luther in the beginning of the Reformation, his were the most important; and he was eminent not only in controversy, but as a promoter of that new learning which theologians who were weaker in the faith looked on with detestation and dismay. Fisher’s support would have been worth having; for he was neither subservient to Wolsey, like the Bishops of Lincoln and Bath, nor afraid of him, like the Primate; and he would have carried with him the whole weight of the school of Erasmus, which constituted the best portion of the English Church. As Wolsey deemed him an enemy, the question was submitted to him in terms so general that Fisher appears to have made answer without suspecting that he was taking the first step on a road ending at the scaffold.
Catharine had been apprised, very early, of all that was done. In the month of March she had taken alarm. She was not allowed to see the Spanish ambassador alone; but she warned him that she had need of his protection.1 On the 22nd of June Henry informed her that he could regard her no longer as his lawful wife. In spite of the vigilance of the Government, Catharine despatched her physician and one of her attendants to Spain, to instruct the Emperor of the outrage inflicted on his blood. The remedy she desired was that he should cause the Pope to revoke the powers which had been delegated to the Cardinal for life. The ambassador, Mendoza, reported at the same time that public animosity was rising against him; that his enemies were forcing upon him measures by which he would inevitably work out his own destruction; and that Tunstall would soon be Chancellor in his stead.
The French alliance afforded Wolsey the means of recovering his influence, and of becoming once more, for a short space, the principal personage in Europe. At the head of the most splendid embassy that ever crossed the Channel, he went to concert with Francis the measures to be taken in common defence against their triumphant enemy. It was necessary to provide, during the abeyance of the Papacy, for the government of the national Churches. Wolsey agreed with Francis that they should administer the ecclesiastical interests of both countries without reference to the Pope while his captivity lasted, and should be free to accept his acts or to reject them at pleasure. A still larger scheme for the government of the entire Church was proposed by the French. The suspension of the Papal authority was not so formidable as the uses to which it might be put by the ambition of Charles. If he could not compel his prisoner to serve him as the instrument of his vengeance against France and England, it was in his power to put a more pliant and trusty cardinal in his place. This was no visionary apprehension. Ferdinand of Austria was entreating his brother not to relax his grasp until the Pope had accomplished all that was wanted for the settlement of Europe; and Mendoza, seeking to tempt Wolsey away from the connection with France, whispered to him that the Emperor now united the spiritual and temporal power, and was in a position to fulfil his ancient promise, by deposing Clement. Wolsey was proof against such solicitation. The Divorce parted him irrevocably from Charles; and when the Emperor, seriously alarmed by the report that Wolsey was to be made Patriarch of Gaul, and meant to detach the Gallican and Anglican Churches from the See of Rome, offered him a sum which would be now £160,000, even that stupendous bribe was tendered in vain.
Francis I. offered passports to the Italian cardinals, inviting them to assemble at Avignon to consult with Wolsey and with their French colleagues for the welfare of religion. Wolsey urged them to come, in the expectation that he would, at their head, possess a virtual supremacy. The cardinals who were in France joined with him to inform Clement that they held themselves absolved from their obedience, and intended, if he should die in captivity, to elect a Pontiff for themselves. Among the signatures to this momentous declaration are the names not only of the French and English Chancellors, but of the Legate Salviati, who was nearly related to the Pope. It was not entirely unwelcome to Clement himself,1 as it made it less likely that the Emperor would coerce him. But he refused to permit his cardinals to accept the ominous invitation to Avignon, for Gattinara met it by threatening him with a council to be summoned by Colonna. To meet the resistance of the Italian cardinals, Wolsey devised the boldest of all his manœuvres. He proposed that Clement should sign a protest nullifying all the acts he might perform under pressure of captivity; and should appoint Wolsey his Vicar-General until the moment of his deliverance. He charged Gambara, the Nuncio in England, to obtain these powers by persuading the Pope that Charles would never set him free, and that his Vicar would do his will in all things. He was carefully to conceal from him the purpose to which the required authority was to be applied. It would have settled the question of Divorce, by enabling Wolsey to appoint the judges and to hear the appeal. To strengthen his envoy’s hands, he proposed to the French Chancellor, Duprat, that Francis should pledge himself to Wolsey to employ all the resources of France in the Pope’s service, and not to sheathe the sword until he was delivered. The engagement was to be seen before starting by Gambara. Then Wolsey undertook, by virtue of his special powers, to release the French King from his bond. After it had been described in fitting terms to Clement, and had exalted his confidence and admiration for the Cardinal, it was to become waste paper.
It was the opinion of Henry’s advisers that the question of his marriage might still have been settled, as it was begun, within the realm; and Wolsey’s elaborate and demonstrative arrangements for a separation from Rome that might endure indefinitely, confirmed their advice. It was unreasonable that grave ecclesiastical causes should wait the pleasure of the hostile soldiery that guarded the Pontiff; or that an issue of vital consequence to the English crown and nation should be left to the judgment of men who were the helpless prisoners of an interested and adverse party. But on this point Wolsey was resolved to bear down all opposition. Rome supplied the qualification that made him indispensable. To preserve that supply, to maintain his position as Legate against the influence of Charles V., he upheld with a firm and jealous hand the prerogatives of the Papacy; and he succeeded, with some difficulty, in convincing his master that it would be unsafe to proceed with no better warrant than they possessed already.
The Cardinal was absent during the whole summer; the ablest men who were engaged in public affairs, Tunstall, More, and Gardiner, were in his retinue, and those who envied his greatness and denied his capacity possessed the King’s ear. They disbelieved that the Pope would be willing now to help them against the Emperor, or would assent to Wolsey’s audacious plans for assuming his place. He might succeed, without any profit to the King. He might effect his own exaltation, and might then be intimidated from employing it for the desired end. It was plain that he was using the Divorce for his own aggrandisement. His aggrandisement might, after all, do nothing for the Divorce. When his vast designs were unfolded, a sense that they were outwitted fell upon the cabal that were pushing the fortunes of Anne Boleyn. Wolsey had been ready in May to go all lengths, and he now declined to go further without the cognisance of Rome, or to question the plenitude of the dispensing power. It seemed that he was betraying the King to the Pope. He defended himself in a remarkable letter, and fancied that he had dispersed the gathering storm. When Henry expressed a wish to see Gardiner, he replied that he could not spare him.
Then, for a season, his adversaries prevailed. They persuaded Henry that he could reach his end by a shorter road; and he sent his Secretary Knight to Rome, with instructions which were unknown to Wolsey. For the delicate mission of inducing the Pope to abdicate his supreme functions in Wolsey’s hands, he had chosen to employ none but Italians. The Nuncio Gambara, supported by letters from Cardinal Salviati, was to open the matter. Gambara was to be followed by Casale and Ghinucci. Stafileo, Bishop of Sebenico and Dean of the Rota, promised his assistance; for Wolsey had found him in France, and had no difficulty in moulding his opinion. Ghinucci and Casale were the most respectable of all the agents engaged in these transactions. But Gambara was a man steeped in Italian intrigue; and Stafileo obtained the promise of a French bishopric and a Cardinal’s hat, and died in the following summer, claiming his reward with a vigour injurious to the credit of his legal advice. Clement afterwards accused Stafileo of having been the author of the mischief. His adhesion was a notable event, for he presided over the supreme tribunal by which, in the last instance, the validity of marriages was decided; and it was a significant circumstance that the King’s cause was at once taken up and pleaded by the official agents of the Papacy.
But the artful machinery which Wolsey had contrived was thrust aside, the management was wrested from his hands, and he was obliged to recall his instructions; while Knight proceeded to execute orders which were studiously concealed from his knowledge. During the interval in which his adversaries pursued the matter in their own way, and laboured to rob him of the merit of success, Clement made terms with his conquerors. The Protest and the Vicariate became words without a meaning, and Wolsey’s dream of superseding the Pope was dissolved.
The substance of Knight’s mission was to procure a dispensation for bigamy. The original intention was only to seek a dispensation for marriage within the forbidden degrees when the first should be dissolved. It could be requisite only because the King had been the lover of the mother or sister of Anne Boleyn. He declared that it was not the mother. The dispensation demanded would, in some measure, have confirmed the right to try the cause in London. But the Nuncio advised that it should be unconditional, and should not be made to depend on the divorce of Catharine. This petition was not brought before the Pope. Knight was overtaken on the way by Lord Rochford’s chaplain, bringing an altered draft. Cranmer was chaplain to Lord Rochford. He was so much averse to the theories that were undermining the marriage-law, that he protested vehemently against the later practice of his Lutheran friends, calling them Mohammedans for their encouragement of polygamy. It would appear that he was the author of the altered counsels.
When Wolsey on his return reported himself to Henry, the answer came to him in the shape of an order from Anne Boleyn. He could measure the ground he had lost by his prolonged absence. He regained it in the following winter by his inexhaustible energy and resource; and the importunities of Anne for some token of attention, were it even a basket of shrimps, confirmed him in the assurance of recovered power. Knight’s negotiations with Roman and Tuscan masters of refined diplomacy ended in quick discomfiture. Long before his complacent incompetence was exposed, Wolsey had taken back into his own hands the conduct of affairs. The sharp lesson just administered had taught him caution. His services in promoting the Divorce were certain to increase the exasperation of the people, and could never disarm the hatred or the vengeance of the magnates whom he had humbled. Success was not less dangerous than failure. It became the object of his efforts to transfer from himself the formidable burden of responsibility, and to take shelter behind a higher authority. He applied first for powers for himself, or for Stafileo, to try the validity of the marriage; but he required that their commission should be couched in terms which implicitly ruled the decision. When he knew that the Pope was about to be released, he tried to give him a larger share of action, by proposing that a Cardinal should be sent over as Legate, in the hope that his Commission would enable him to control the Legate’s course, and to dictate the sentence. In a passage which was omitted from the fair copy of this despatch, Wolsey confessed that the dissolution of a marriage which had lasted so long would give too great a shock to public feeling for him to take it upon himself.
Before the day came on which the Imperialists had covenanted to release the Pope, he was allowed to escape, and he made his way to Orvieto, where the emissaries of Henry, bringing to his feet the humble but fervent prayer of their King, taught him that he possessed, as Bishop of Rome, resources more than sufficient to restore the lost sovereignty of Central Italy. He was without the semblance of a Court. Few of the prelates, and not the best of them, had joined him in his flight. His chief adviser in this most arduous conjuncture of his stormy Pontificate was Lorenzo Pucci, Cardinal of Santi Quattro, a Florentine, and an adherent of his house, who, after the death of Leo, had attempted to raise him, by surprise and acclamation, to the vacant throne. To many sordid vices Pucci added the qualities of energy and intrepidity, which his master wanted. At the storming of Rome he was the only Cardinal seen upon the walls. He was struck down whilst, with his voice and his example, he strove to rally the defenders, and climbed into the Castle through a window after the gates had been closed. He had been Minister under Julius, and, for his extortions under Leo, men said that no punishment was too bad for him. Wolsey had given orders that money must not be spared; but Pucci, who was noted for cupidity, refused a present of two thousand crowns, and could never be made to swerve in his resistance to the English petitions. He drew up the Commission which Knight asked for, with alterations that made it of no effect; and he baffled the English envoys with such address that the winter passed away before Henry had obtained any concession that he could use, or that the Pope could reasonably regret.
The dominant purpose was to gain time. The Emperor, on receiving the messages of Catharine and Mendoza, immediately insisted, through his Viceroy at Naples, that Wolsey should be forbidden to act in the matter, and this demand reached Clement whilst still surrounded by the soldiery that had sacked Rome before his face. He had now become free; but it was the freedom of an exile and a fugitive, without a refuge or a protector from an enemy who was supreme in the Peninsula. The instrument which the skill of Pucci had made innocuous and unavailing, appeared to him charged with dreadful consequences. He begged that it might be suppressed. His dejection made him slow to perceive how much Henry’s intense need of his spiritual services improved his political position. He strove to exclude the cause from his own direct jurisdiction. Having consulted with Pucci, and with Simonetta, the ablest canonist in Rome, he exhorted Henry to obey the dictates of his own conscience, and to dismiss the Queen and take another wife, if he was convinced that he could lawfully do it. Wolsey’s Legatine powers, or the Commission lately issued, were ample for the purpose. Once married to Anne Boleyn, Henry had nothing to fear. But if he waited the slow process of law, and gave time for protests and appeals, the Emperor might compel them to give sentence in Rome. Clement deemed that it would be a less exorbitant strain of his prerogative, and less offensive to Charles V., to tolerate the second marriage, than to annul the first.
Henry VIII. consented to be guided by Wolsey against the judgment of his Council, but he had inclined at first to more summary and rapid methods, and the mission of Knight in the autumn of 1527 showed that he was slow to abandon that alternative. That he should, nevertheless, have rejected an expedient which was in the interest of those to whom he habitually listened, which was recommended by his own strong passions, and which the confidential counsel of the Pope invested with exceptional security, is the strangest incident in the history of the Divorce. Wolsey’s influence is insufficient to explain it; for Clement repeated his advice after Wolsey’s fall, and yet three years passed before Henry’s tenacity yielded. In March 1530, the Pope was at Bologna, holding conference with the newly crowned and reconciled Emperor. Charles V. required him to threaten Henry with anathema and interdict if he should contract a second marriage pending judgment on the first. Clement could not resist the demand, but he yielded reluctantly. He put forth a Bull in the terms which the Emperor required. But in private he expressed a wish that his menace might be vain, and that the King’s purpose might be accomplished without involving him in complicity. These words were spoken in secret; and at Orvieto also Clement had desired that his advice should be attributed to the prelates who were about him. Henry may well have feared that, after taking an irrevocable step, he might be compelled to purchase indemnity by some exorbitant sacrifice; or he may have apprehended in 1528 what happened five years later, that the Pope, compelled by the Emperor, would excommunicate him for disobeying his injunctions. Having taken his stand, and resolved to seek his end on the safer ground of submission and authority, he refused to abandon it.
All the auspices at first favoured Henry, and every prejudice told against the Emperor, whose crafty policy, while it enabled Lutheranism to establish itself in Germany, had inflicted irreparable injury on the See of Rome. The sympathies of the Roman Court were as decided on one side as they might be now in a dispute between the head of the House of Bourbon and the head of the House of Savoy. Henry VIII. had given, during a reign of eighteen years, proofs of such fidelity and attachment as had never been seen on any European throne. No monarch since Saint Lewis had stood so high in the confidence and the gratitude of the Church. He had varied his alliances between Austria, France, and Spain; but during four warlike pontificates Rome had always found him at its side. He had stood with Julius against Maximilian and Lewis, with Leo against Francis, with Clement against Charles. He had welcomed a Legate in his kingdom, where none had been admitted even by the House of Lancaster. He was the only inexorable repressor of heresy among the potentates of Europe; and he permitted the man to whom the Pope had delegated his own authority to govern almost alone the councils of the State.
No testimony of admiration and good will by which Popes acknowledge the services of kings was wanting to his character as the chosen champion of religion. The hat, the sword, and the golden rose had repeatedly been sent to him. Julius, in depriving Lewis XII. of his designation of the Most Christian King, had conferred it upon Henry; and he bore, before Luther was heard of, the title of Defender of the Faith.1 His book was not yet written when Leo X. convoked the cardinals in order that they might select a title of honour worthy of such services and such fame; and it was suggested in the Consistory that Henry deserved to be called the Angelic King.1 His bitterest enemy, Pole, averred that no man had done more for Rome, or had been so much beloved. Such was his reputation in Christendom that when he talked of putting away a wife who was stricken in years to marry a bride in the early bloom of her beauty, the world was prepared to admire his scruples rather than to doubt his sincerity. Clement, though not without suspicions, suffered them to be allayed. He spoke of the case as one which was beyond his skill, but which no divine was more competent to decide than Henry himself. Campeggio declared, even at the Imperial Court, his belief that Henry’s doubts were real. Cajetan wrote of him in 1534, Cochlaeus in 1535, with the full assurance that he had been deceived by others, and that his own religious knowledge was teaching him to discover and to repair the error of his advisers. After the final condemnation had been pronounced, a prelate engaged in the affair wrote to him in terms implying that in Rome it was understood that he had been led astray, not by passion but by designing men. Even Paul III. protested that he had made Fisher a Cardinal in the belief that Henry would esteem the elevation of his subject a compliment to himself.
The good faith of Henry was attested by an imposing array of supporters. The Nuncio came to Rome to plead his cause. Stafileo and Simonetta, the foremost judges of the Rota, admitted that it was just. Two French bishops who had visited England, and who afterwards became cardinals, Du Bellay and Grammont, persistently supported it. Cardinal Salviati entreated Clement to satisfy the English demands. Wolsey, on whom the Pope had lavished every token of his confidence; Warham, the sullen and jealous opponent of Wolsey, who had been primate for a quarter of a century, and who was now an old man drawing near the grave; Longland, the Bishop of Lincoln,1 the King’s confessor, and a bulwark against heresy—all believed that the marriage was void. The English bishops, with one memorable exception, confirmed the King’s doubts. The Queen’s advisers, Clerk, Standish, Ridley, successively deserted her. Lee, the adversary of Erasmus, who followed Wolsey at York, and Tunstall, the Bishop of London, who followed him at Durham, went against her. The most serious defection was that of Tunstall; for the school of Erasmus were known to oppose the Divorce, and of the friends of Erasmus among the English clergy, Cuthbert Tunstall was the most eminent. He is the only Englishman whose public life extended through all the changes of religion, from the publication of the Theses to the Act of Uniformity. The love and admiration of his greatest contemporaries, the persecution which he endured under Edward, his tolerance under Mary, have preserved his name in honour. Yet we may suspect that a want of generous and definite conviction had something to do with the moderation which is the mark of his career. He reproved2 Erasmus for his imprudence in making accessible the writings of the early Fathers; and in the deliberations touching the separation from Rome, in the most important Session of the Parliament of England, when he was, by his position, his character, and his learning, the first man in the House of Lords, he allowed himself to be silenced by an order from the King. Tunstall informed Catharine that he had abandoned her cause because he believed that she had sworn a false oath.
Nor did the conduct of the most distinguished English laymen confirm the reported unpopularity of the Divorce. It is certain that Sir Thomas More and Reginald Pole were conscientiously persuaded that the Queen was a lawful wife. Pole had, moreover, an almost personal interest to preserve inviolate Mary’s right to the Crown;1 and he wrote in its defence with such ability and persuasiveness, that Cranmer thought he would carry the whole country with him if his book became known. Yet Pole allowed himself to be employed in obtaining the assent of the University of Paris, and accepted his share of merit and responsibility in a success which cost Henry more than a million of francs.
Sir Thomas More had defended divorce in the most famous work that England had produced since the invention of printing. The most daring innovator of the age, he had allowed his sentiments to be moulded by the official theology of the Court. Under that sinister influence, More, the apostle of Toleration, who had rivalled Tertullian and Lactantius in asserting the liberty of conscience, now wrote of the Lutherans such words as these:—“For heretykes as they be, the clergy dothe denounce them. And as they be well worthy, the temporaltie dothe burne them. And after the fyre of Smythfelde, hell dothe receyve them, where the wretches burne for ever.” Henry supposed that a man whose dogmatic opinions he had been able to modify would not resist pressure on a subject on which he had already shown a favourable bias. More was steadfast in upholding the marriage, but never permitted his views to be known. He represented to Henry that he was open to conviction; that he was incompetent to pronounce and willing to receive instruction. He promised to read nothing that was written in favour of the Queen. So reticent and discreet a supporter could not be counted on her side; and More consented, as Chancellor, to act ministerially against her. He assured the House of Commons that Henry was not urging the Divorce for his own pleasure, but solely to satisfy his conscience and to preserve the succession; that the opinions of the Universities had been honestly given, and that those of Oxford and Cambridge alone were enough to settle the question. Whilst he remained in power he left the Queen to her fate, and did his best to put off the hour of trial that was to prove the heroic temper of his soul.
The Bishop of Rochester, indeed, was faithful and outspoken to the end; but his judgment was not safe to trust. Death for the sake of conscience has surrounded the memory of Fisher with imperishable praise; but at that time he was the one writer among our countrymen who had crudely avowed the conviction that there is no remedy for religious error but fire and steel; and the sanction of his fame was already given to the Bloody Statute, and to a century of persecution and of suffering more cruel than his own. Fisher suspected the attack on the Dispensation of concealing a design against the Church; and he therefore based the Queen’s defence on the loftiest assertion of prerogative. His examination of the authorities was able and convincing. He admitted that they were not all on his side; but he held that even if the balance had leaned heavily against him it would not have injured his client. The interpretation of law, the solution of doubts pertained to the Pope; and the Pope had decided this dispute by the undeniable act of dispensation. The question might have been difficult on its merits; but there was, in reality, no question at all.
The value of the maxim, that the fact proves the right, had just then been seriously impaired. The divine whom Leo X. appointed to encounter Luther had invoked that principle. It was absurd, he contended, to try the existing system of indulgences by the rule of tradition, when it was plainly justified by the daily practice of the Church. But the argument of Prierias was discredited by Adrian VI., who readily avowed that there had of late been grievous abuse of power, and that dispensations only hold good if they are granted for sufficient cause. It was a source of weakness in dealing with the first signs of Protestantism in England to adopt a position which had been so recently discarded in the conflict with the Reformation in Germany. But Fisher went still farther. The strength of the argument for the Queen was that a prohibition could not be absolute from which the contingency of a brother dying childless had been specially excepted. But her advisers would not trust that plea. The law was clearer than the exception. No brother, in the history of Christianity, had felt bound to obey the injunction of Deuteronomy. The prohibition of Leviticus had been almost universally observed. This objection was felt so strongly, that Fisher and the advocates of Catharine contended that even if the Divine law forbade the marriage, the Divine law must yield to the law of the Church.1 Clement, however, admitted that the right to dispense against the law of God was not generally assigned to him by divines,2 and, being so little versed in books himself that he took no offence when men spoke of his want of learning, he did not insist on it. The claim was an unsafe ground for sustaining the marriage; for the marriage was the most effective precedent by which papal Canonists sustained the claim.3 The argument was set aside by the more cautious disputants, both in Rome and in England; but it had done the work of a signal of distress, to indicate the insecurity of the cause, and it had deepened the consciousness of division in the English Church.
The shifts by which several writers defended the marriage betray much perplexity. One divine attributed the matrimonial troubles of Jupiter and Saturn to the want of a Papal dispensation. Another explained that the prohibition to marry a brother’s wife had crept into the Pentateuch by the fault of a transcriber. It was commonly believed, by a mistaken application of a pronoun in the works of St. Antoninus, that Martin V., with a view to avoid scandal, had permitted a man to marry his own sister. And there were some who maintained that a man might marry not only his sister, but his grandmother, and even his own mother or daughter.
The reasons submitted on the part of Henry VIII. for suspecting the validity of his marriage were presented with such moderation, and such solicitude to avoid disparaging the Papal power, that they explain, apart from the weighty considerations of interest, the long hesitation of Rome. The maxim that a dispensation, to be good, must be warranted by sufficient reason, was generally admitted by canonists; and Julius, in excusing his delay, had said that a dispensation opposed to law and good morals can be justified only by necessity. Assuming, therefore, in principle, his right to perform the act, the question raised was, whether necessity had been shown, and whether the motives alleged by the petitioners were adequate and true. The English argued that Henry VII. and Ferdinand V. had deceived the Pope with false statements. Henry had pretended that without the marriage there was danger of war; yet he made it manifest that no such urgent purpose of public welfare existed. The dispensation had no sooner reached his hands than he confessed that it was not wanted, by causing his son to make a solemn protest that he did not mean to use it. Henry VII. survived four years longer, persisting in his determination to prevent the match. It was said that he was troubled in conscience;1 and Erasmus affirms that extraordinary pressure was afterwards required to induce Henry VIII. to recant his protest and to marry Catharine.
Her father, though more deeply interested than Henry VII. in securing her marriage, refused for many years to pay the money, without which, according to the agreement, there was to be no wedding. The plea of political necessity for a dispensation, which was repudiated as soon as received, and was not employed during six years from the date of the first demand, was nothing but a transparent pretence.
To this was added another argument, calculated immeasurably to facilitate the task of the Pope. Ferdinand assured him that Prince Arthur had been too young for marriage, and that Catharine, during her short union with a failing invalid, had not contracted the supposed affinity.1 The dispensation might therefore be granted easily without the presence of those cogent reasons which, in ordinary circumstances, would be required to make it valid. He was willing, to satisfy English scruples, that the Bull should provide for the opposite conditions; but he insisted that no such provision was necessary for the security of his daughter’s conscience or of her legal position. The Bull was drawn to meet the wishes of the English, but in terms which significantly indicated the influence of the Spanish representations.
Julius had promised it at the eve of his election, and he granted it by word of mouth immediately after. Nevertheless, the Bull was wrung from him with great difficulty after a year’s delay, by accident rather than consent. When Isabella the Catholic was dying, she implored him to comfort her last days with the sight of the dispensation which was to secure her daughter’s happiness. It was impossible to refuse her prayer. Against the wish of Julius, a copy was sent from Spain to Henry VII., and the authentic instrument could not be withheld. But for this, the Pope would not have yielded. To the Cardinal Adrian, who was one of those whom he had appointed to advise him in the matter, he expressed a doubt whether such an act lay within his power. The Cardinal assured him that the thing had been done repeatedly by recent Pontiffs.
The contention was that these statements had misled the Pope into the belief that he was doing no more than the facts amply justified, whilst he was in reality exceeding the limits which all his predecessors had observed, on the strength of facts which were untrue. Unless it was certain that neither the imaginary precedents of Adrian, nor the pretended motives of Henry, nor the improbable allegations of Ferdinand, had influenced the decision of Julius II., there was serious ground to question its validity.
It was an issue charged with genuine doubt, and not necessarily invidious in the sight of Rome. Nothing had yet occurred to fix men’s minds on the problem, and opinion honestly differed. In the French and English Universities, responses favourable to Henry were obtained with some difficulty, and against strong minorities. Although jurists in Italy4 could not earn his fee without risk of life, famous teachers of Bologna, Padua, and Sienna, whose names were cited with reverence in the Roman Courts, approved of his cause. The judgments of men in this controversy were not swayed by the position they occupied towards the Papacy. Luther strenuously upheld the rights of Catharine. Sixtus V. declared that Clement had deserved the sorrows that befell his Pontificate by permitting so iniquitous a marriage to endure so long. For the action of Julius was challenged as a judge of fact, not as a judge of law. The English disputed not the plenitude of his authority, but the information which had determined its use; and it was the opinion of Clement VII. that Julius had not taken due pains to ascertain the truth.1 The gloss of almost ostentatious respect wore off in the friction of conflict. But it was essential at first to the position and the tactics of Wolsey. Henry appeared in the character of an affectionate husband, bewildered in conscience by scruples he was anxious to remove. Nobody could bind him under deeper obligation than by enabling him to live with Catharine undisturbed. As late as the month of May 1529, long after this fiction had become contemptible, Gardiner had the effrontery to say that Henry still lived with the Queen on unaltered terms.1 But Wolsey soon put off this pretence; for if the only difficulty arose from a defect in the dispensation, the Pope could have afforded relief, as the Emperor proposed, by an act in more ample form.
After the failure of Knight, and of his Italian colleagues, Wolsey’s tone became peremptory, and he resolved to make his strong hand felt. He despatched the King’s almoner, Fox, with his own secretary, Gardiner, a man who had been engaged in the hidden work of the preceding May, and who was fitted to encounter the Roman jurists on their own ground, unswayed by shame or fear. He charged them to make Clement understand that Henry’s determination to put away Catharine was founded on secret causes lying deeper than love for Anne Boleyn, causes which neither the removal of his scruples nor any other remedy could touch; and that it would be executed, if necessary, independently of Rome. That course would imperil the succession, would overthrow Wolsey, and, in the presence of advancing Lutheranism, would ruin the Church in England. It was the Pope’s interest, therefore, as much as his own, that the thing which could not be prevented should be done with full religious sanction; that an act of deference on one side should be met on the other by an act of grace. He wrote at the same time to Orvieto that the instruments granted to Knight were little better than a mockery, and that he regarded the hostile influence of the Emperor as the only obstacle he had to overcome.
Gardiner was charged to obtain a Bull for Wolsey, in conjunction with a Roman Cardinal, directing them to try the cause, and if they should be satisfied of certain facts, which he thought it not difficult to establish, to declare the marriage null and void. Next to this joint commission, he preferred one for a Roman Legate alone. In the last extremity he would accept one for the two English Archbishops; but he would not act by himself. The Bull, as Wolsey drafted it, made a defence impossible, made the trial a mere formality, and virtually dissolved the marriage. Both Fox and Gardiner declared that it would be hazardous to rely on powers obtained in so disgraceful a manner. They nevertheless attempted to obtain the Bull, hoping that it might be useful at least for the purposes of intimidation and coercion.
The English envoys found the Pope in the dwelling of Cardinal Ridolfi, Bishop of Orvieto, beneath the shadow of the gorgeous cathedral, but surrounded by solitude and desolation, occupying a bare unfurnished chamber, and eating out of earthenware. At his first step Gardiner fell into an ambush. Clement inquired after Wolsey, touching a report that he was against the Divorce. Gardiner eagerly testified to his zeal in its favour. The Pope replied that, in that case, he would not be accepted as an impartial judge. During two long interviews he met the strenuous exertions of the Englishman with imperturbable temper and dexterity. He was ready to appoint Legates, and to confirm their sentence; but it was impossible to induce him to favour one party to the detriment of the other, in the manner of the proposed Bull. Gardiner plied his arguments with extreme vigour. Addressing the Pope, and the small group gathered round him, he protested that the King of England asked only for light to clear his conscience, and would obey the word of the Church, whatever it might be. He implored them not to repulse the wanderer who came as a suppliant to a guide. If he should appeal in vain to the Holy See, the world would say that they were deprived of wisdom, and that the Canons which were unintelligible to the Pope were only fit for the flames. Pucci and the other prelates listened without emotion, for they were persuaded that Henry had other wishes than to clear up doubts. Clement confessed that he was not a scholar, and that, if it was true, as men averred, that all law was locked in the breast of the Pope, it was a lock to which, unfortunately, he had no key. When Gardiner declared that Henry would help himself, if Rome refused to help him, Clement replied that he heartily wished he had done it. Finding that it was useless to ask for the Bull that Wolsey wanted, Gardiner proposed that an act defining the law as desired should be given privately, for fear of Spain, never to be produced unless Clement refused to confirm the sentence. To this the Pope replied that if the thing was just it should be done openly; and if unjust, not at all.
At length, when the final conference had lasted during many weary hours, Gardiner, believing that he had lost his cause, kindled into anger. Gambara and Stafileo were present, and he exclaimed that they had made themselves tools to deceive and to betray the King. Then he turned fiercely against Clement, and denounced him. It was well, he said, that men should know how Rome treats those who serve her, that she may find no succour in her own extremity, and may fall with the consent and the applause of all the world. At these words the Pope sprang to his feet, and strode about the room, waving his arms, and crying that they might have the Commission as they wished. It was past midnight, on Maundy Thursday morning, when he yielded. The clauses agreed upon were not what Gardiner wished for, but he thought them sufficient. They did not satisfy Wolsey. He feared that the cause might be taken out of his hands, that the rule of law by which he tried it might be rejected, that his judgment might be reversed, by Clement or by his successor.
When the English solicitations reached Clement, in the last days of his captivity and the first of his deliverance, he was weighed down by terror of the Spaniards, and he promised to do more for Henry whenever the approach of his allies made it a safer task. Lord Rochford’s priest was sent to accelerate the movements of Marshal Lautrec, who, leaving the Pope to his fate, had wasted precious months in struggling with De Leyva for the possession of Lombardy. At length, by the roads that skirt the Adriatic, Lautrec marched south, and for the last time during many generations the French flag was welcomed in the ancient dominions of the house of Anjou. On the 18th of February the Imperialists evacuated Rome. They were speedily shut up in Naples and Gaeta, and up to the gates of the fortresses the French were masters of the country. In the bloodiest sea-fight of that age, the younger Doria, arming his galley-slaves, destroyed the Spanish fleet in the waters of Salerno. Naples was blockaded. The stream that turned the mills of the garrison was cut off, and it was expected that the city would be starved out before midsummer. It was in the midst of these changes that Clement held anxious conference with the energetic Englishman whose speech was so significant of diminished reverence, who, as Wolsey’s successor at Winchester, was soon to lend his powerful aid to the separation of England, and who lived to undo his own work, and to supply history with the solitary example of a nation once separated returning voluntarily to union with Rome. Wolsey had already spoken of going over to Luther when the Papacy obstructed his designs; but Giberti had received the threat with scornful incredulity. Gardiner’s warnings were less impressive than the vast change that was just then occurring in the condition of the Peninsula. From April to July French ascendency seemed to be established; and the Spanish commanders informed Charles V. that, unless Naples was relieved before the end of August, his dominion over Italy was lost for ever. During those four months Wolsey was able to wring from Clement’s unsteady hand every concession he required.
A Commission, dated 13th April 1528, gave him power, in conjunction with any English Bishop he might select, to try the cause, to dissolve the marriage if the dispensation was not proved to be valid, and to do all things that could be done by the Pope himself. A second document of the same tenour was directed to Wolsey alone; but, as it has not been found in this country, was probably never sent. The first was not employed, as both Henry and his Chancellor felt that they would not be safe without the intervention of an Italian cardinal. A third Commission, enabling them to decide jointly or severally, was therefore issued to Wolsey and Campeggio. Lest these immense concessions should be neutralised by Spanish influence, they were further secured by a written promise. Clement declared, on the solemn word of a Roman Pontiff, that, considering the justice of the King’s cause, whose marriage transgressed divine and human law,1 he would never revoke the powers he had granted, or interfere with their execution; and that if he should do anything inconsistent with that promise, the act should be null and void. He went still further. He entrusted to Campeggio a Decretal similar to that which he had formerly refused, declaring the dispensation valid only in the event that the assurance given to Pope Julius by Ferdinand of Aragon was true. This important document was never to leave the Legate’s hands, and was to be seen by none but Wolsey and the King. At the end of July, when the fortunes of Spain were at the darkest, Campeggio, thus provided, set out for England.
Wolsey, relying on their own friendship and on the benefits of Henry, made choice of Campeggio as early as December 1527. Gardiner was persuaded that the cause would be safe in his hands, and Clement encouraged the belief. But Casale, who knew the ground better than Gardiner or Wolsey, remonstrated against the choice. The Spaniards reported that the Pope had given Henry leave to have two wives; and as it was commonly supposed that the Cardinal was sent to enable him to gain his purpose, he was compelled to travel by roads that were safe from the incursions of Imperialists. Charles V., convinced that the cause was lost if tried in England, wrote that it must be prevented at all costs, and lodged a protest against Campeggio’s mission. Contarini, the wisest and best of the Italian public men, saw the Legate at Viterbo, and judged from his conversation that the Emperor’s fears were groundless. Another eminent Venetian, Navagero, who met him at Lyons, found that it was not his intention to content the King. The Pope himself wrote to the Emperor that the legates were not to pronounce sentence without referring to Rome; and Charles thereupon assured Catharine that she had nothing to apprehend from Campeggio.1
The origin of his elevation had been a successful mission to Austria, to detach Maximilian from the schism of Pisa; and it was by that emperor’s influence that Campeggio obtained his mitre and his hat. His conduct in two conclaves caused him to be ranked among the most decided Imperialists, and Clement informed Contarini that he belonged to the Imperial interest. In 1529, when a vacancy was expected, during his absence in England, he was to have been one of the Austrian candidates. After his return he was zealous in the Queen’s cause: he was one of the three cardinals who countersigned the Bull threatening Henry with excommunication; and it was he who, in conjunction with Cajetan, procured his final condemnation.
Campeggio foresaw the difficulties awaiting him. He was not eager for the encounter with Henry and Wolsey, and he spent two months on his way. Long before he reached England great changes had occurred. Doria had gone over to the Emperor. Lautrec was dead. The blockade of Naples was raised; and the besiegers had, on the 28th of August, capitulated to the garrison. Five messengers pursued Campeggio, warning him to adjust his conduct to the altered aspect of things, and imploring him to do nothing that could excite the displeasure of the victor. Clement had resolved to submit, at any sacrifice, to the Imperialists.
When the Emperor learnt how vigorously the English envoys were labouring to extort the Pope’s assent to the Divorce, he resolved to tempt him by splendid offers. He would restore his dominions; he would release his hostages; and he proposed an alliance by marriage between their houses. Musetola, who brought these proposals early in June, was well received; and it soon appeared that the Pope was willing to abandon the League. It had done nothing for him. There was no hope for the Papacy in Italy, no prospect of resisting Lutheranism in Germany, except through Charles V. No reliance could be placed now in the French, or could ever have been placed with reason in the Italian confederates. The people for whom Clement had raised the cry of national independence, in whose cause, identified with his own, he had exposed the Church and himself to incalculable risk, and had suffered the extremity of humiliation and ruin, were making profit out of his disasters. Venice, his intimate ally, had laid its grasp on Cervia and Ravenna. The Duke of Ferrara, a papal vassal, occupied the papal cities of Modena and Reggio. Florence, his own inheritance, had cast off the dominion of his family, and restored the Republic. One way of recovering all things remained to him. He must put away the ambition of Giberti and Sadolet; he must accept Charles as the inevitable master of Italy, and stipulate with him for restitution and revenge. Early in September Clement’s resolution was taken. In October he returned to Rome. At Christmas he bestowed the hat and sword on Philibert, Prince of Orange, the general who took the command of the Imperialists when Bourbon was struck down at the foot of the Janiculum, and on whom rested the responsibility for the unutterable horror of the sack of Rome. When Campeggio arrived in London, things had gone so far that a sentence dissolving the marriage was not to be thought of. The problem that taxed his ingenuity was to avoid the necessity of pronouncing sentence either way, at least until the Pope should be sufficiently assured of friendship from his detested enemy, to be able to defy the resentment of his ally.
Campeggio’s instructions were to elude the difficulty by inducing Henry to desist, or by prevailing on Catharine to retire to a convent. If these resources failed, the Pope relied on his experience to find means to protract the business, and put off the evil day. With Henry there could be no hope. During the summer he was separated from Anne by the sweating sickness. She was taken ill. The King, in great alarm, made ready for the prospect of immediate death. He resorted with fervour to works of religion. He confessed frequently, and practised constant penance for his sins. But his treatment of Catharine was not among the sins of which he was taught to repent. He hailed the Legate’s arrival as the signal of his approaching deliverance, and made open preparation for an early marriage. At Campeggio’s endeavours to change his purpose by urging the danger of offending Cæsar, he became indignant and vociferous; and the Legate could do nothing, for his hands were tied by the secret Bull.
When the King and Wolsey saw that document, they insisted that it should be shown to the Council. In their hands it would have served to settle the controversy. It decided the point of law in the manner desired by Henry. The Pope having declared the law, they could judge of the fact without him. They had got from Rome all that they absolutely required; and the object of Wolsey’s policy was attained. To apply to the case in dispute the principle laid down by the supreme ecclesiastical authority, an inferior authority might suffice. Protected by the Bull, they would incur little danger in following Clement’s unwelcome counsel to help themselves. The credit of Julius, the consistency of the See of Rome, were sufficiently guarded, when Clement determined under what conditions his predecessor’s act was legal, and Wolsey determined, on evidence unattainable at Rome, whether the conditions of legality were fulfilled.
Wolsey sent to Rome to require that Campeggio should give up the Decretal. If it had been produced and acted on, the Pope could expect nothing but ruin. The responsibility of the Divorce and the wrath of the dreaded Spaniard would have fallen not on those who applied the law and were inaccessible, but on him who had laid down the law, and who was within his reach. Clement understood his danger. He lost the self-command which had not deserted him in the most distressing emergencies. Laying his hand on Casale’s arm, he told him to be silent, and then burst forth in reproaches against the perfidy of Wolsey, at whose urgent prayer and for whose sake alone he had granted the secret Bull. He detected their object. With the Bull before them, even those who thought the marriage valid would give it up on the Pope’s responsibility. Let them dismiss Campeggio, on the plea that he was slow to act, and accomplish their purpose themselves, without involving Rome. The Bull ought to have been destroyed, and he would cut off a finger to be able to recall it.
Clement at once despatched an envoy to make sure that the perilous document should remain no longer exposed to accident or treachery. For this important mission he selected Francesco Campana, a man who long enjoyed the confidence of his family, who, after the fall of Florence, proclaimed to the people the will of the conqueror, that the Medici should reign over the republican city, and who, as Secretary of State, gave efficient aid in building up the intelligent despotism of Cosmo. Campana travelled slowly; and when he reached London, with the order to burn the Decretal, Clement was reported to be dying. To destroy such a document in obedience to a pontiff who was probably dead, on the eve of a conclave, would have been the height of folly. Campeggio resolved to disobey. In the spring, when Clement had recovered, Campana brought the news that the Legate had yielded,1 and the most memorable writing in the history of the Divorce disappeared for ever.
But Henry had seen, under the Pope’s sign and seal, that he had never been Catharine’s lawful husband. For it was now admitted that, if Julius was deceived, the dispensation was void. No attainable evidence could demonstrate that he was not deceived or could resist the strong presumption in favour of the allegation on which Henry’s scruple rested. The uncertainty lay in the legal element of the case, and that uncertainty was now removed. The Pope had been consulted, and the answer he had given was against the Queen. Henry might be right in his facts, or honestly mistaken, or altogether insincere; but right or wrong, true or false, he could not, consistently with his previous conduct, hold himself free to live with Catharine. The nullity of his marriage still required to be publicly declared; but in strictness he was unmarried. It followed that he must consider himself free to marry Anne. Apart from the public sentence, the religious obstacle to the second marriage was removed when Campeggio exhibited the secret Bull.
Mr. Brewer signifies his disbelief in the improbable story which began to be told in Mary’s reign, that Rowland Lee solemnised the marriage of Henry with Anne Boleyn at dead of night, in November 1532, in a secret chamber at Whitehall, on being assured that a permission, which could not be fetched at that hour, had arrived from Rome. We trust that, in his next volume, he will determine the true date, and the influence of the Decretal on the event. At Campeggio’s coming Anne Boleyn was kept out of the way. She now came to Court, and was treated in public as if she had been Henry’s wife. Charles V. afterwards said to Campeggio that even the death of Catharine would be no deliverance, as the harm was done when Henry got possession of his Divorce. Elizabeth assured Parker that her mother’s marriage had received the papal approbation. Three Popes offered to acknowledge her title if she would profess Catholicism, at least, in secret. The secret Bull of Clement VII. made it optional to disregard the claims of Mary Stuart.
Failing to make an impression on Henry, Campeggio addressed himself to the Queen. The Roman divines were, he told her, dubious as to the merits of her cause; the future was uncertain; and the Pope consequently desired that she would close her life in a convent. The English bishops recommended the same easy solution. Henry eagerly adopted it, affirming with gross exaggeration, that the Pope had already pronounced against her. Then Catharine tasted the bitterness of the trial that was to come. Had she yielded, as the injured Queen of France had done, she might have averted the schism, until the genuine wave of Protestant thought struck England, when the daughter of her rival had sat for a generation on the throne. But she had no thought of yielding, and displayed, in the evil days that remained to her, the stern and tranquil courage of Isabella. She was alone, for she could not trust her council, and a watch was set on her intercourse with Mendoza. No Spaniard was allowed to approach her. The Belgian lawyers were sent out of the country. The messenger who had apprised Charles of her trouble was dismissed. Vives was put under arrest. Fisher refused to advise her without the King’s command. Warham and Tunstall called on her to confess whether she had not practised against her husband’s life. In all her solitude and misery she never doubted that her cause was just; she neglected no chance; and relied with signal composure on the Emperor alone. Her friends among the common people murmured loudly, and attended her in such crowds that the gates of the palace were closed against them. She acknowledged their cheers with a graciousness she had never shown, and asked for their prayers. Her evident popularity led Catharine into her only serious error. She believed that the Catholic spirit of the country could be roused in her favour, and she forced the Pope, by her importunity and her reproaches, to resort to those extreme measures which, in the end, were fatal to her church.
To gain Campeggio she took the bold step of asking him to hear her confession, when, relieving him of the obligation of secrecy, she declared that her first marriage had never been consummated. Campeggio could not disbelieve her, and the judgment of history, differing somewhat in the estimate of evidence from the judgment of law, must, we think, accept her word.1 Wolsey was so apprehensive of the effect of such a declaration made upon oath, that he proposed to assail the dispensation on totally different grounds. But Mendoza deemed it a dangerous plea, and difficult to sustain at law. He recommended a safer defence, and he possessed a weapon keen enough to defeat all the art of Wolsey and his master.
Early in the year he had received from Spain a copy of a dispensation in the form of a brief, which expressly excluded the doubt as to the nature of the first marriage. Soon after Campeggio’s arrival Catharine sent this paper to the Legates. It contradicted her own statement, and she protested that she had had nothing to do with obtaining it. But it avoided the reproach which had been so damaging to the Bull. Wolsey was taken by surprise. The plan on which he had pursued his operations so long was overthrown in an instant. He could not abandon his system and attack the dispensing power itself. He confessed that the objections taken to the former document did not here apply; but he declared that the Brief was spurious, and set about procuring evidence to prove it. Yet for many months Wolsey remained in doubt whether the paper which frustrated the great undertaking of his life was false or genuine. The reasons for suspecting forgery were stronger than he supposed.
The Brief was unheard of until the need for it became apparent. It was unknown to Charles V. when, on the 31st of July 1527, he suggested that the Pope should supply the defects of the Bull.1 It was uncertain whether Clement would consent, when, towards the end of the year, the Brief made his consent unnecessary. Its existence was unexplained. It was said to have been obtained about the time of the marriage, in 1509;2 but it was dated 1503. It was obtained by Ferdinand; yet Ferdinand did not possess a copy. It was sent to England; but it was admitted that it had left England before the marriage for which it was required. Ferdinand did not want it, for, on his theory, it was quite unnecessary. If he had asked for it, the Brief would have been addressed to him, and a copy would have been treasured up in Spain. It was addressed to Henry VII. But Henry did not want it; for he was more than content with the original Bull, which he never intended to use, and could never wish to amplify. The Brief was discovered among the papers of the Ambassador De Puebla, who had left England before the marriage, and who was now dead. A list of all his papers relating to the marriage is still extant, and the Brief is not among them.3 Two men were living who could have given valuable testimony. De Puebla’s heir, Fernandez, had possession of his papers. He was reputed an honest man, and it was desirable to have him examined. It appeared, however, that he had just been sent to one of the few places in Europe which were beyond the reach of Henry and the jurisdiction of Charles—to the dominions of the Earl of Desmond. Accolti, the Cardinal who in the name of Julius had drawn up the dispensation a quarter of a century earlier, was now the most zealous opponent of the Divorce in the Court of Rome. He could have settled the doubt whether a second dispensation had, in fact, been given. Accolti remained impenetrably silent. Though addressed to Henry VII., the Brief was unknown in England. It formed the strongest security for the honour and the legal position of a Spanish Princess: yet it did not exist in the archives of Spain. It constituted the most extreme exertion of the Pope’s prerogative known till then: yet Rome preserved no record of its existence. In April 1529, Charles was in doubt as to the value of the Brief.1 He was willing to submit it to the Pope. His mind would not, he said, be at rest until he knew whether it had been found in the Roman Registers. His doubts were soon satisfied. The Registers were subjected to the scrutiny of Spanish and English agents. They found no trace of the Brief.2 Errors were detected in the text. A vital flaw was detected in the date. Charles never sent it to Rome for judgment; it was no longer necessary. The Brief had served to delay action in the Legate’s Court until the Pope was reconciled with Spain.
Wolsey knew that delay was ruin. To strengthen himself at Rome he despatched four new ambassadors. He offered to surround the Pope with a guard of two thousand—or even of twelve thousand—men; and he resorted to expedients which showed that he was desperate. He would resign his Commission and leave judgment to the Pope, with a pledge that judgment would be favourable. He inquired whether, if Henry should take monastic vows to induce the Queen to enter a nunnery, he could be dispensed from them and allowed to marry. Lastly, he desired to know whether the King might have two wives. These proposals were soon dropped, and exerted no influence on the event; but they show the condition of Henry’s mind, and the extremity to which, at the end of 1528, Wolsey was reduced. By the first he surrendered his original position, and actually invited that which he afterwards described as the cause of an inevitable rupture with Rome. The scheme to inveigle the Queen into a convent by simulated vows might possibly be entertained without horror; for it was supposed to be no sin to take an oath intending to be dispensed from it. Francis I. swore to observe the Treaty of Madrid, and bound himself, moreover, on his knightly honour. On the same day he had already declared before a notary that he was resolved to break the oath he was about to take; and his perjury was generally applauded. Cranmer, on becoming Archbishop, closely followed his example. If the desire of liberty excused Francis in deceiving Charles, Henry might plead that he, too, had a justifiable purpose in deceiving Catharine. The right to dispense from vows was not disputed.
It would appear that the proposal of bigamy, which was now made for the second time, never reached the Pope. The idea that the trouble might be healed in that way arose spontaneously in many quarters. The Secretary of Erasmus, writing from his house, made the suggestion that, inasmuch as polygamy was common in the Old Testament, and was nowhere forbidden in the New, Henry might take a new wife without dismissing the first. To Luther and Melanchthon this solution appeared most easy and desirable. They had fought hard to preserve monogamy among their own followers, and had prevailed upon the Landgrave Philip of Hesse to abstain from bigamy. But they found themselves unable to make the prohibition absolute. In Henry’s case they thought the marriage originally wrong, but they objected still more to the Divorce. Luther advised that the king should take a second wife rather than put away the first; and Melanchthon thought that the double marriage would be good, and that the Pope would dispense for it. The Landgrave, having discovered this correspondence, renewed his demand, and the Reformers were compelled to sanction his crime. The agony of shame with which they yielded their consent suggests a doubt whether their advice to Henry might not have been prompted by an idea of embarrassing the Catholics. Twelve months earlier Clement had informed the English agents that one of the cardinals, doubtless Cajetan, had told him that it was in his power to grant a dispensation such as Melanchthon recommended. But he was afterwards advised that it could not be done. Wolsey’s proposal was in reality borrowed from the theories put forward in the Queen’s behalf, asserting an unlimited power of dispensing.
These extraordinary measures for resisting the Spanish Brief were interrupted, in January 1529, by the dangerous illness of Clement. Once more the early ambition of Wolsey revived; and he caused the Cardinals to be overwhelmed with offers of troops, of money, of political and spiritual benefits. The hand of the spoiler and the oppressor had not departed from the territory of the Church. The Spaniards still detained three Cardinals as hostages, still occupied the papal fortresses, and by their control of the sea, commanded the sources from which Rome drew its supplies. The situation was one to which the French and English protest against an election held under Spanish influence continued applicable. Wolsey urged his friends to leave Rome, to hold the conclave in some city of refuge, and there to make him Pope. One half of the college shrank from the prospect of a Spanish Conclave, and made ready to depart as soon as the Pope should be dead. The imperial agents met the threatening schism with excellent judgment. They released the hostages; they gave up the fortresses, which, indeed, they could have retaken in a week; and they sent to the Tiber vessels laden with grain. They soon received their reward. Clement, in making his farewell to the Cardinals, exhorted them, if he died, to recall Campeggio. He declared that, should he recover, he would visit the Emperor beyond the Mediterranean. He assured the French agent that the fee simple of France would not bribe him now to desert the Spaniards. When at the end of two months he resumed the management of affairs, the reconciliation was accomplished. Charles was supreme in the court of Rome, by the vivid memory of his irresistible power, and by the immediate sense of the priceless value of his friendship. The Cardinals had not forgotten the awful time of the siege and the sack of the city. In February they were still hostile to the Emperor. In March the Austrian agents at Rome write that they have 448,000 ducats to dispose of; and the resistance of the hostile Cardinals melted away rapidly.
Clement now regarded Wolsey as a sort of antipope, and as a personal enemy who was seeking to bring instant ruin upon him by employing a writing wrung from his good nature by false promises. The situation of the year before was reversed. He had relied on England to rescue him from the clutches of the Imperialists. The Emperor was now his protector against the machinations of Wolsey. Gardiner, when he saw him in March, became aware that all his pleas were in vain. The English had lost as much ground in point of reason and justice, as of influence. Contrasted with their extravagant demands, the petitions of the Emperor were moderate and just. Wolsey now required that the Brief should be delivered up to him; that sentence should be given, if the original was not sent to England; that the Pope, of his absolute authority, and without inquiry, should declare it a forgery. He ordered Gardiner to pretend that the paper containing the promises of the Pope had suffered damage, and to procure his signature to a new copy, to be drawn up in stronger terms, by representing that it was unchanged.
The Emperor Charles V., and Catharine herself, in letters conveyed secretly to the hands of the Pope, insisted with unquestionable truth, that a tribunal on which this man sat as judge could not be deemed impartial. They demanded that the cause should be decided at Rome, where Wolsey himself had so lately proposed to carry it. Clement doubted no longer what he ought to do. One course was both safe and just. He did not indeed believe in the Spanish dispensation: but he refused to condemn it on an ex parte argument, if every Spaniard had vanished out of Italy. He would rather abdicate, he would rather die, than do what Wolsey asked of him. He made no further attempt to resist the appeals of the Spaniards. But he was oppressed, at intervals, with a definite expectation of losing the allegiance of England. His only expedient was delay. Clement was unconvinced by Campeggio’s testimony to the innocence of Anne Boleyn. The King, whose passion had endured for three years, might become inconstant; or Catharine might be persuaded, as the King had ceased to live with her, to consent that the favourite should occupy her place. Her health was breaking, and he would have given the riches of Christendom that she should be in her grave.
In April the envoys of the two branches of the House of Austria formally called on him to revoke the powers of the Legates, and to bring the cause before the judgment seat of Rome. Gardiner thought that it would have been madness to resist. Clement consented. On the 9th of May he despatched a nuncio to Barcelona, with full and final powers to conclude a treaty with the Emperor. Until it should be ratified, and the imperial alliance firmly secured, he wished to postpone the inevitable shock which Henry’s disappointment would inflict on their long friendship. An agreement was made between Clement and Casale, that the Commission should not be cancelled, but that the Legates should not proceed to execute it.
When it became certain, in the beginning of May, that there was no more hope from Rome, Wolsey’s fall could not be distant. His obstinate determination, in spite of the general feeling both in Rome and in England, that there should be no divorce without papal sanction, had ended by making the divorce impossible, had brought upon the country the affront of seeing the King’s cause removed to a hostile tribunal, and had afforded the Emperor a conspicuous triumph over the influence of England in a matter chiefly of English concern. At the moment when he was defeated by Spain, he was deserted by France. The dissolution of the League, and the ruin of his armies compelled Francis to give up the struggle for supremacy with Charles, and to submit to a dishonourable peace. Wolsey had traded on their rivalry. It was the obvious and superficial secret of his policy to sell the help of England to each, as necessity induced one to outbid the other. Neither of the Powers had an interest to maintain the statesman who had alternately betrayed them, and they made peace at his expense. Francis accused him of having intrigued on his own account with Rome. His treacherous reports, sent home by Suffolk, and aided by the certainty that Wolsey had misled the King, strengthened the constant asseveration of his enemies that he did not sincerely promote the Divorce. In truth he had striven for it with incessant care. But Du Bellay, Mendoza, and Campeggio had long perceived that his zeal was stimulated only by the desire to save himself; and he had implored Henry on his knees to give up his will. When it was announced that the Commission would be revoked, and that France was suing for a separate peace, his power was gone. He besought the King to allow him to attend the Congress at Cambray. The two men who were thought worthy to succeed him, More and Tunstall, were sent in his stead; and an indictment was prepared against him.
It was impossible to doubt that the revocation would be fatal to Henry’s wishes. That which Clement dared not allow his Legates to do in England, he would not do himself at Rome, when the Emperor had disarmed all his enemies, and was coming in triumph to visit his Italian conquests and to assume the imperial crown. At first Henry talked of appealing from Clement to the true Vicar of Christ, to be raised up in his place. But he was soon made to understand that the potentate who was feared, having power to coerce and to degrade, was the Emperor. He resolved to dissemble his anger. Intercepted letters exposed the Pope’s intentions, and taught that nothing would be gained by waiting until Clement felt himself stronger. Something might, however, be gained by prompt and strenuous action. Henry resolved to take advantage of the delay in revoking the Commission to force on an immediate decision, and summoned Gardiner in all haste to conduct the case.
The Imperialists had consented that the revocation should be postponed in consequence of the pledge obtained by Clement that nothing should meanwhile be done in England. When it was found that the pledge was broken, and that Henry employed the respite to urge on the trial, every voice in Rome called on the Pope to satisfy the just claims of Spain. The English agents confessed that no choice was left him, and bore witness to his good will. Clement protested to them in pathetic terms that the Emperor had him utterly in his power. He made one effort more to get the Imperialists to assent to further delay, but they repulsed him with indignation. They believed that he was seeking an opportunity to deceive them. Even in the following year Charles half expected that Clement would pass over to the English side.
Campeggio had been instructed to create delay by telling Henry that, if he must give judgment, he must give it against him. He replied by asking what he should do in the not improbable event of the judgment being in Henry’s favour. Clement’s final orders were to proceed with the trial to the last stage preceding sentence, and then to adjourn for the purpose of consulting Rome. Campeggio combined both methods. On the 22nd of July Clement’s irrevocable determination was known in London. The pleadings were completed. The parties awaited judgment. Campeggio suddenly adjourned the Court for the vacation, announcing that he must consult the Pope. He strove to comfort Henry by assuring him that the interruption was to his advantage, as the sentence would have been for the Queen.
When the vessel in which the Legate sailed from Dover was boarded by the custom-house officers, he believed that his last hour had come, and called for his confessor. The officers treated him with respect, but they examined his luggage, in the hope either of recovering the secret Bull, or of finding evidence that he had been paid by Catharine. Campeggio returned to Rome with the renown of a successful mission. Men were not blind to the effects which were to follow. But they followed too remotely to disturb the present joy at an immense deliverance. It was observed for the first time after years of anxiety and depression, that Clement VII. held up his head and walked erect.
We have not allowed ourselves space to follow Mr. Brewer’s vivid and powerful narrative over another year to the death of Wolsey, with which the volume ends. Before we conclude it is necessary that we should advert to one topic on which we have been unable to accept him for our guide. Touching the great question of the origin of the Divorce, Mr. Brewer wavers between three explanations: King Henry’s scruples grew up in the recesses of his own conscience. They were awakened by his inclination for Anne Boleyn. They were suggested by her friends. Mr. Brewer, who adopts the first of these solutions at page 222, prefers the second at page 258, and, forty pages farther, is ready to accept the third.
The idea that the Divorce was instigated by divines of Anne Boleyn’s faction was put forward by Pole, apparently with a view to connect Cranmer and the Lutheran influence with the beginning of the troubles. It is supported by no evidence; and it is in the highest degree improbable that the Boleyns conceived a design which could not have been accomplished without violently subverting the whole system of European politics. The theory which represents the scruple arising involuntarily, almost unconsciously, in the King’s mind, is confirmed, no doubt, by his own public declarations; but it is difficult to reconcile with the coarse and candid admission which he made privately of the causes which estranged him from the Queen. Before the Court, at Blackfriars, he spoke only of scruples; in secret he urged motives of a less spiritual kind. It is quite natural that personal repulsion may have paved the way for scruples. It is much less likely that the idea of separation can have come first, and the unconquerable aversion followed. In the hypothesis that the whole business took its rise in the King’s passion for Anne Boleyn, there is not the same inherent improbability. It leaves much unexplained, and suggests many difficulties; but it depends mainly on a question of chronology. If it should ever be possible to trace the idea of marrying Anne Boleyn farther back than we can trace the idea of repudiating Catharine of Aragon, the case would be proved. But with the materials now available the priority is decidedly with the Divorce. The latest date to which we can possibly assign the first steps towards the dissolution of the marriage is the summer of 1526. We have shown that we are unable to put the proposal to Anne earlier than 1527. There is an interval therefore during which the scheme of divorce is pursued, and is fully accounted for, whilst no trace of a rival can be detected. We are unable to accept either of Mr. Brewer’s alternative solutions.
There is a fourth explanation to which he shows no mercy. He absolutely rejects the idea that Wolsey was the author of the Divorce. Such a report was, he says, put about by Tyndall and Roper; but it was contradicted by all those who knew best; by Henry, by Bishop Longland, and by the Cardinal himself—while Cavendish says that when the King first disclosed his intentions to Wolsey, the latter fell upon his knees and endeavoured to dissuade him. We regret that Mr. Brewer has not entered more fully into the evidence which has determined his judgment on this fundamental point. We will indicate as briefly as we can the reasons which induce us to attribute the Divorce of Queen Catharine, with all its momentous consequences, to the cause he has so pointedly rejected.
Longland never denied that Wolsey was the author of the King’s doubts. It is true that Longland, a persecutor of Lutherans, and an eager and overbearing promoter of the Divorce, when he saw England drifting towards Lutheranism, in consequence, indirectly, of what he had helped to do, regretted his share in the transaction, and denied that he was primarily responsible. His Chancellor, Draycott, conveyed his denial to the historian Harpsfield, who records it in his Life of Sir Thomas More. But Harpsfield himself was not convinced. In the following year he wrote that Wolsey, “first by himselfe, or by John Langlond, bishopp of Lincolne, and the King’s confessor, putt this scruple and doubte into his head.” Even if Longland’s denial exonerates himself it does not exonerate Wolsey, whom he indicates when he speaks of “others, that weare the cheife setters forth of the divorce beetweene the Kinge and the Queene Catharine.”
No serious import belongs to the testimony of Henry and Wolsey, given in open court, to silence just objections to Wolsey’s presence there. It was necessary that he should be represented as impartial to justify his appearance on the judgment seat. It would certainly seem that Cavendish meant to say what Mr. Brewer imputes to him, that Wolsey dissuaded Henry from the beginning. But in reality he says no more than he would be justified in saying by the fact that Wolsey did, at various times, dissuade him; which is all that Wolsey himself has said. Nobody, however, knows better than Mr. Brewer that Cavendish is the author of much of the confusion that has, until the appearance of his work, obscured the history of the Divorce. We cannot allow decisive authority to one ambiguous sentence in an author who, though doubtless sincere, is both partial and inaccurate.
The weight of contemporary testimony is overwhelming against Wolsey. We will say nothing of Polydore Vergil, who was an enemy, or of the Belgian Macqueriau, and the Paris diarist, because they wrote only from rumour. But Jovius was a prelate of the Court of Clement. Guicciardini was connected with Casale, and was the only contemporary writer who knew the secret of Campana’s mission. Both Guicciardini and Jovius lay the responsibility on Wolsey. Valdes, who was better informed than either of the Italians, does the same. For in Spain no doubt could subsist. Catharine had written to Charles that Wolsey was the author of her sorrows, and the Emperor never ceased to proclaim the fact.
The tradition of the English Catholics inclined strongly to assign to Wolsey the origin of their misfortunes. If they had any bias it would naturally have been to represent the Reformation in England as springing from an unclean passion. Pole, who was a great authority amongst them, had given the example of this controversial use of Anne Boleyn. But they departed from the example he had set, and preferred an explanation which could serve no polemical purpose. Pole himself once indicated the belief that Wolsey was the author of the King’s design. It is firmly maintained by his archdeacon, Nicholas Harpsfield, who was a friend of the Warhams, who had lived with Roper, Rastall, Buonvisi, and the family of More, and in whom were concentrated the best Catholic traditions of that age.
Sir Richard Shelley wrote a history of the Divorce, which is still exant. He was the son of the well-known judge, and was employed both by Mary and Elizabeth in important embassies. He was the English Prior of St. John, and after 1559, swam in the full tide of the Catholic reaction. When the news of the Northern Rising reached Rome, Shelley was one of those whom the Pope consulted before issuing his Bull against the Queen. He attributes all the blame to Wolsey. If any man was more deeply involved than Shelley in the struggle against Elizabeth, it was Nicholas Sanders. Writing history for political effect, he had no scruple about inventing a scene or a fact that served his purpose; and he had read the works of Rastall and Hiliard, which we possess only in fragments. The evidence which was before him must have implicated Wolsey with a force that was irresistible. Richard Hall, a man who seems to have given proof of sincerity, as he was a Protestant under Mary, and a Catholic under Elizabeth, wrote a life of Fisher, about the year 1580. He had his information from Phillips, the last Prior of the Benedictines at Rochester, who had sat in the Convocation of 1529, and from Thomas Harding, who had been chaplain to Stokesley. Hall is, like the rest, among the Cardinal’s accusers. William Forrest, who was a contemporary, and became chaplain to Queen Mary, agrees with Harpsfield and Shelley, Sanders and Hall.
Indeed, without resorting to contemporary foreigners, or to English writers of a later generation, the evidence that Wolsey first moved the idea of divorce appears to us conclusive. The Cardinal himself admitted it to Du Bellay, not speaking under pressing need of deception and excuse, but privately, to one who was his friend, who powerfully supported his policy, who needed no convincing, and had evidently not heard the contrary on any authority worthy of belief. A statement made in these circumstances is not necessarily credible, but it far outweighs a public declaration demanded by the stress of popular suspicion. Wolsey’s communication to Du Bellay, confirming what he wrote to Casale,1 connects the Divorce with the great change in the system of alliances which was made in the spring of 1525, and perfectly explains the tenacious grasp with which he then retained his power in spite of all the sacrifices which the failures of his policy imposed on the King. We cannot reject it without stronger reason than has been yet produced.
After his disgrace, Wolsey constantly declared himself innocent of crime, yet worthy of the royal displeasure. The Divorce, he said, was the cause of his fall, yet he denied that, in that, he had offended. This would be consistent and intelligible language if he was the author of counsels that had proved so pernicious. On his deathbed he delivered to Kingston the lesson of his experience of Henry. He warned him to be cautious what matter he put into his head, as he would never put it out again. He was alluding to what had passed in the affair of Queen Catharine; and his words had a pregnant as well as a literal significance if he was thinking of a matter which he had himself incautiously put into the King’s head.
We are at a loss to find a valid reason for doubting, except the authority of Mr. Brewer. We acknowledge the force of that objection. It is impossible to differ, without uneasiness and regret, from a historian who has supplied so large and so rich a part of the knowledge attainable on this subject, and who is unsurpassed for accuracy and penetration. But Mr. Brewer’s words, in speaking of Wolsey, must be taken with a slight allowance. It is not only because of the dignified liberality, the ceremonious self-restraint, which is due from a divine of the English Church towards a Roman Cardinal, and from an illustrious scholar who is willing to think nobly and generously of the Church of Rome, towards a prelate by whose fault that Church was dishonoured and cast down. For as many years as Wolsey’s administration lasted, Mr. Brewer has been employed in investigating his actions. He has hewn him out of the block. He has found much that is new and different from the character which Protestant and Catholic have had so much reason to blacken; and he has felt the influence not only of disgust for ignorant detractors, but of admiration for the strong man who, when the population of all England did not exceed that of a modern city, when the annual revenue was no more than that which is now received in a single day, when Scotland and Ireland were drains upon her power, when she was without dependencies and without a fleet, raised the kingdom by the force of his solitary genius, to a position among the European nations not inferior to that which it now enjoys.
For Wolsey as a Minister of tyranny, as a pensioner of foreign potentates, as a priest of immoral life, he has an extreme indulgence. The Cardinal attempted to obtain from Parliament a declaration that all things in the land belonged to the Crown—a doctrine which, from the day on which Frederic Barbarossa consulted the jurists of Bologna, until Lewis XIV. caused it to be sanctioned by the divines of the Sorbonne, has been the symbol of despotic power. At the moment when he broke off the alliance with the House of Burgundy and sought the friendship of France, he had for four years been denied his pensions by the Power that he abandoned, whilst he required from the Power that he joined a sum equal in our money to £285,000. When he exchanged Durham for Winchester, he asked that the see which he vacated should be transferred to his son, a youth then studying at Paris. Mr. Brewer will not admit a doubt as to Wolsey’s integrity. If we remember rightly, he nowhere mentions the proposed transfer of the great see of Durham. He is almost unwilling to believe that Wolsey had a son. That he had a daughter Mr. Brewer does not dispute. But he thinks that such transgressions did not necessarily involve any greater impropriety than the marriage of an English clergyman at the present day.1 This view of the age of the Reformation leaves a great feature in its history unexplained. No influence then at work contributed more than the private lives of ecclesiastics such as Wolsey to undermine Catholicism, and to incline men towards a Church which renounced the hazards of an enforced celibacy. We would undertake, if necessary, to justify our words by proof which Mr. Brewer will accept, by the writings of the most eminent and the most impartial men of the sixteenth century, by the decrees of twenty synods, by the constitutions of York itself.
Mr. Brewer’s abounding charity defends the Cardinal as a persecutor. Wolsey had caused Protestants to be burnt in the day of his power, and in the last hour of his life, when his speech faltered and his eyes grew dim, he uttered an exhortation that Henry would not spare the Lutherans, because they would prove a danger to the State. Yet even that appalling vision of the dying Prelate, who, having clothed himself in sackcloth, and made his peace with God, gathered his last breath to fan the flames of Smithfield, has no terrors for Mr. Brewer. No man, he says, was less disposed to persecute; and he excuses him by the examples of his age, and by the greater cruelty of More.
The argument which excuses Wolsey by the times he lived in, is a serious fallacy. Christians must be judged by a moral code which is not an invention of the eighteenth century, but is as old as the Apostles. We are no wiser than the contemporaries of Wolsey regarding the rights of conscience. Persecution has indeed become more difficult to carry out; and the conditions of modern society make toleration easy. But there are, in our day, many educated men who think it right to persecute; and there were, in the days of Wolsey, many who were as enlightened on that point as Burke or Jefferson. There was a humane and liberal current, both in government and in literature, which the religious conflict that followed checked for generations. Whilst Lollards and Lutherans were burning, in the Chancellorship of Wolsey, the Greeks lived unmolested in Venice, and the Waldenses enjoyed a respite in Savoy; the Inquisition was forbidden to interfere with the Moriscoes of Granada; and in Portugal the later laws of Emanuel the Great protected the Judaising heretics from popular fanaticism. No country had suffered so much from religious strife as Bohemia; but in 1512 Catholics and Utraquists made an agreement in perpetuity that rich and poor of both churches should enjoy freedom unrestrained. In Denmark equal rights were assigned to Catholics and Protestants at the Diet of 1527. Before the close of the fifteenth century the French Inquisition had been shorn of its might; the bishops refused to prosecute those who were accused of heresy; the Parliament rescued them; and Lutheranism was allowed to spread with the connivance of the court, until the long absence and captivity of the King. Many years even then elapsed before the Protestants ceased to regard Francis as their defender. Beneath the sceptre of the Hapsburgs persecution reigned; yet in 1526 Ferdinand conceded territorial toleration, and Charles himself, in 1532, proclaimed the rights of conscience in language worthy of a better time.
There was a strong body of opinion on the other side, but authorities equally strong may be quoted in favour of murder, not merely among men entangled in the habits of a darker age, but among those who had struggled to emancipate their minds from tradition, and who made it the pride and the business of their lives to resist the vices of the vulgar. It was no reason for an assassin to escape the gallows that Melanchthon had prayed for a brave man to despatch Henry VIII.; that the brave man who despatched the Duke of Guise was praised by Beza to the skies; that Knox wished the doom of Rizzio to be inflicted on every Catholic; that the Swedish bishops recommended that a dose of poison should be mixed with the King’s food. Nor can we admit that the intolerance of Wolsey is excused by comparison with the greater intolerance of More. The Cardinal, in his last hours, asked for measures of repression, the nature of which his own example and the statute of Henry IV. left in no kind of doubt. Sir Thomas More protested before his death, in terms which have satisfied the impartial judgment of one of his latest successors on the woolsack, that no Protestant had perished by his act.
[1 ]The Quarterly Review, January 1877.
[1 ] They were probably split votes, involving little more than a compliment or a warning; for a voting paper sometimes contained six or eight names. On the 3rd of January 1522 thirty-nine Cardinals gave more than sixty votes. Volterra had twelve, De Monte seven, Ancona seven, Medici, Santa Croce, Della Valle, Aegidius of Viterbo, Wolsey, six each; Adrian of Utrecht, eight.
[1 ] That is the date given by Henry himself to Grynaeus. His secretary, 4th December 1527, calls the divorce a thing he “hath long tyme desyred.” Wolsey writes, 5th December, “longo jam tempore.” Campeggio writes, 17th October 1529, “piu di dui anni.” But on the 28th, after hearing the Queen’s confession, he says, on her authority, “gia molti anni.” There is no reason to doubt the report of Grynaeus.
[2 ] Rawdon Brown, 1st September 1514.
[1 ] Gayangos, Spanish Calendar, 20th April 1525.
[2 ] Brewer, iv. 1263. A misprint makes it uncertain whether Warham wrote on the 12th or 19th of April. Easter fell on the 16th.
[1 ] “In iis secretioribus ac majoris momenti tantum sibi polliceri potest D. V. R. de S. D. N. voluntate quantum progredi potest auctoritas S. S.” (Brewer, iv. 2579).
[2 ] “Wherin such good and substancial ordre and processe hathe hitherto been made and used, as the like, I suppose, hath not been seen in any time hertofore” (State Papers, i. 189).
[1 ] “He promises, however, to use all efforts in the King’s behalf. He says the only cause of his leaving the Pope’s palace was that the Pope did not attend to good advice, and was not grateful to those that deserved well of him; but Wolsey must take care not to tell this to Campeggio” (Vannes to Wolsey, Brewer, iv. 5344). “Praecepit etiam Dominus Veronensis Vicario suo non modo favere Maj. tuae causae, sed etiam in absentia sua convocare et hortari Theologos ut pro Maj. tua scribant; sed et se quoque subscripturum pollicitus est” (Croke to Henry, Pocock’s Records, i. 531).
[1 ] Margaret was betrothed to Navarre at Christmas, 1526. The proposed match between Renée and the son of the Duke of Ferrara was known 4th April 1527 (Desjardins, Négoc. avec la Toscane, ii. 935).
[1 ] Speaking on the 15th of July 1529, he said, “about two years since” (Herbert’s Life, 114).
[1 ] “Esta muy sospechosa que en ninguna cosa se hablen verdad” (Mendoza to Charles, 10th March 1527).
[1 ] “Gaudeoque nostra in S. D. N. ecclesiasticaeque authoritatis gratiam suscepta consilia, ex his indiciis ab ejus Sanctitate probari, quae exhibuit per nuncium illum clandestinum quem ad Dom Lautrec ab ea nuper missum V. R. D. scribit” (Wolsey to Duprat, 5th October 1527).
[1 ] “Regia etiam Majestas aegre fert quod de titulo defensoris sanctae Fidei nihil adhuc acceperit, quasi ejus sanctitas ea re timuerit Gallos offendere” (Wolsey, Desp., 22nd May 1517. Martene, Amplissima Collectio, iii. 1274).
[1 ] “Cardinalis de Flisio tunc primus in ordine Card. in Consistorio existentium, dixit sibi videri quod posset scribi et denominari pius, seu pientissimus. Papa dicebat quod forsitan posset denominari Rex Apostolicus. Nonnulli ex Cardinalibus dicebant velle scire causam propter quam dicto regi hujusmodi titulus concederetur, ut melius discuti posset qui titulus ei concedendus foret. Alius dicebat denominandum regem Fidelem, alius Angelicum, tanquam ab Anglia, alius Orthodoxum, alius Ecclesiasticum, alius Protectorem” (Acta Consistorialia, 10th June 1521). A slightly different report of this curious debate may be found in Lämmer’s Meletematum Mantissa, 199.
[1 ] Chapuys calls him: “Principal Promoteur et brasseur de ce Divorce” (Legrand, Letters à Burnet, 141).
[2 ] “Cui etiam si germana sit Origenis, et non ab aemulis addita, veteres omnes refragantur. Quare optassem magis delituisse non versam” (Tunstall to Erasmus, 24th October 1529. Burscher, Spicilegium, xviii. 13).
[1 ] “Caterina . . . sentiva rimorso nell’ animo, et hebbe a dir che non moriva contenta, se nel sangue della Signora Margarita non ritornava la speranza della successione di quel Regno, significando di volere maritar la figliola con uno delli figlioli di detta Signora, alli quali mostrava grande amore” (Beccadelli, Vita del Polo, 280).
[1 ] The Belgian canonists employed for Catharine said: “Concedantur omnia Regi, quod auctoritas praedicta sit juris divini, et quod factum de quo est quaestio, sit in terminis affinitatis, nullatenus tamen illi concedendum est, quod Pont. non licuerit etiam hoc casu dispensare. . . . Cum maximo consensu et canonum consulta et prudentum responsa pontifici juris divini declarandi, interpretandi, limitandi, et contra illud dispensandi potestatem concedant.” Fisher, De Causa Matrimonii, p. 42, writes: “Nullis argumentationibus diffiniri potest, sed solius Pont, interpretatione.”
[2 ] The Pope said to Casale on Christmas Day, 1529, that all the divines are against the power of the Pope to dispense in such a case (Brewer, iv. 6103). Gardiner wrote on the 21st of April: “The Pope will hear no disputation as to his power of dispensing. He seems not to care himself whether the cause be decided by that article or no, so he did it not” (5476).
[3 ] “Quod Papa possit, ex gestis Rom. Pont. patet. . . . Moderna quoque Regina Angliae consummaverat prius matrimonium cum olim fratre istius Regis Angliae sui mariti” (Cajetan, in Summam, Sec. Secundae, 154, 9).
[1 ] Lopez to Emanuel, Gairdner, Letters of Henry VII., ii. 147.
[1 ] “Ahunque en el dicho capitulo dize quel matrimonio de la dicha princesa nuestra hija con el principe de Gales Arthur ya deffunto, que gloria haya, fue consumado, pero la verdad es que no fue consumado. . . . y esto es muy cierto y muy sabido donde ella sta” (Ferdinand to Rojas, 23rd August 1503).
[1 ] Clement said to Charles V. at Bologna: “The Pope’s function is to judge whether such a cause has arisen; but no such inquiry was made, or judgment given, when the dispensation by Julius was granted” (Brewer, iv. 6103).
[1 ] Brewer, iv. 5529.
[1 ] Gardiner thought the first words of this document, “justiciam eius cause perpendentes,” the most decisive of all the concessions made by Clement (Brewer, iv. 5476).
[1 ] Gayangos, 537: “I am certain, because the Pope writes me so, that nothing will be done to your detriment, and that the whole case will be referred to him at Rome, the Cardinal’s secret mission being to advise the King, your husband, to do his duty.” This was written on the margin in the Emperor’s own hand.
[1 ] Varchi, who had means of informing himself about Campana’s journey, says that he brought the Decretal back with him to Rome. But Mr. Stevenson has discovered, and Mr. Gairdner has deciphered, two very curious letters of Campeggio, in one of which he says: “Per questo fu mandato il Campano, il quale, ultra alia, quanto a questo proposito mi disse due cose; l’ una fu de la decretale, di che è seguito quanto vostra Signoria da lui hara inteso” (Brewer, Introduction, dclxxi).
[1 ] To the excellent summary of the evidence in Maurenbrecher’s Lectures on the English Reformation, and to the ingenious inquiries of Lorentz, must be added the significant fact that Henry did not persistently deny that he had formerly admitted the truth of the Queen’s affirmation. In the Articuli in Causa Matrimonii Regii this point is virtually given up: “Quarto nititur probare virginitatem ex confessione Henrici Octavi; circa eandem confessionem possint eadem dici quae dicta sunt circa confessionem Catharinae, videlicet quod testes sunt singulares, et quod confessio omnino est extrajudicialis et parte absente.”
[1 ] In a Despatch to Lannoy, Bucholtz, iii. 95.
[2 ] “In brevi vero quod circiter tempus nuptiarum ut conficeretur ab Ferdinando Rege Catholico procuratum est” (Philalethae Hyperborei Parasceue, 1533, p. 30).
[3 ] Bergenroth, i. 471.
[1 ] “He said also that his mind was not quiet until he knew whether the Brief was found in the Registry at Rome” (Ghinucci and Lee to Wolsey, 5th April 1529. Brewer, 5423).
[2 ] “Has done all he could to discover in the register books a copy of the Brief, but in vain. Has found instead two other briefs alluding to the affair” (Mai to Charles, 23rd March 1529. Gayangos, 659).
[1 ] 6th December 1527.
[1 ] “Here, as in other Catholic countries at the present day, or at least until recently, the marriage of the parochial clergy had to be tolerated more generally than is supposed. . . . In many instances such offences involved no greater transgression of the moral law than . . . such marriages, for instance, as are now contracted by the English prelates and clergy” (pp. 639, 640).