History of England, Part II From the Accession of Henry VIII to the Revolution of 1689

Tout, T. F. --Powell, F. York


CHAPTER I. Henry VIII. and Wolsey. 1509-1529.


1. . was eighteen years old when he became king. " Nature," declared an enthusiastic Venetian ambassador, "could not have done more for him."[1]  Even as a boy his precocity in intellect and manners had powerfully impressed the great scholar Erasmus. As a young man, he was the handsomest and ablest of the sovereigns of Christendom. He was tall and well-proportioned: "his complexion very fair and bright, with auburn hair, combed straight and short in the French fashion, and a round face that would become a pretty woman." He was "very accomplished; a good musician and composer; a most capital horseman, and a fine jouster. He speaks good French, Latin, and Spanish; is very religious, hearing three masses a day when he hunts and five on other days." He was "extremely fond of hunting, never taking his diversion without tiring eight or ten horses. He was devoted to tennis," at which game "it is the prettiest thing in the world to see him play, his fair skin glowing through a shirt of the finest texture." He delighted to set off his stately form in rich attire, glittering with jewels and gold. No monarch ever knew better how to play the ceremonial part of kingcraft. His gracious


smile and friendly hearty manner concealed his utter selfishness, and won the hearts of rich and poor alike; but he had a keen sense of his dignity and his anger was terrible to face. It speaks well for his nobler qualities that he never altogether lost his subjects' love, even in those later days, when broken health and baffled ambitions had soured his disposition and inflamed his temper. He was a shrewd judge of character and chose his ministers well, but he used them as mere instruments, throwing them off remorselessly when they had fulfilled their purpose or ventured to cross his wishes. He was a thorough Englishman, and knew what his subjects wanted; but he took no pains to persuade or humour them, dragging them by main force along the course which he himself had appointed, and crushing opposition by brute force. Fierce, strong, masterful, and unscrupulous, he had no touch of mercy or softness about him. Ever a hard, cruel, remorseless master, he became in later life a hateful tyrant. Yet he never quite lost the grandeur and force of purpose that make him one of the strongest and ablest of English kings. He worked for himself, but he also worked for England, and though he wrought much evil in his day, the good that came from the main lines of his policy lived on. All our subsequent history bears the strong impress of his lion-like will and heroic determination.

In the early years of his reign, Henry seemed to careless observers absorbed in the round of pleasures and distractions, into which he had plunged with all the impetuosity of his character. But he loved fame more than he loved tilting and tennis, and he loved having his own way more than he loved even glory. He kept a tight control over his ministers, not only retaining in his own hands all the chief strings of policy, but busying himself with increasing delight in all the details of administration. He had been well educated, and not only understood war and politics, but had a taste for old-fashioned theology, as well as sympathies with the newlearning, which made the scholars indulge in the most sanguine hopes of him. But no vision of impossible ideals dimmed his practical shrewdness of purpose. Coming to the throne with an undoubted title, and inheriting his father's well-filled coffers as well as theresults of his painful and laborious policy, he felt that he was strong enough to play a great part in the world. To stamp out the last relics of opposition, to subject the last of the old nobles and the most obstinate of


the great churchmen to his imperious despotism were his chief objects of policy at home, while abroad he aimed at reviving the leading position that England had held in the fourteenth century in the counsels of Europe. With the new king the new spirit was seated on the throne.

2. In carrying out his schemes, the young king at first relied mainly on the tried servants of his father. . had been his own chief minister, and had had under him two kinds of helpers. Of the first sort were the dignified magnates who held the great offices, like William Warham, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Richard Fox, Bishop of Winchester. Of the second were the subordinate agents of inferior position, mere clever tools to give effect to the royal will, such as the extortioners Empson and Dudley. The young king continued [3]  Warham as Chancellor and Fox as Keeper of the Privy Seal, but the morose Warham contented himself with discharging the routine duties of his office, and the pious Fox, though zealously working in the king's service, was anxious to give up diplomacy and devote the end of his days to the careful administration of his diocese and to the carrying out of his great educational foundations at Oxford and elsewhere. The Secretary of State, Bishop Ruthal of Durham, was a dull, hardworking man; and among the secular nobles the most conspicuous was Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey, "a man endowed with great prudence, gravity, and constancy," who remained Treasurer. All these stayed in office for many years, and retired of their own accord, for all through his reign Henry kept his ministers in power as long as they remained useful to him. But one of the king's first acts was to win a little cheap popularity by sacrificing to popular hatred the most famous of his father's subordinate agents. Empson and [4]  Dudley were sent to the Tower, and speedily attainted on absurd charges of treason and conspiracy against the new king. In both were brought to the block.

3. If Henry's great schemes were to be carried out, some abler and more strenuous helper was wanted than the dignified officials who monopolised the high [5]  posts of State. The rise of Thomas Wolsey gave Henry a minister after his own heart. Wolsey was the son of a wealthy grazier and wool merchant of Ipswich, whom his enemy, the satirist Skelton, denounced as a butcher. He gained distinction at a very early age at


Magdalen College, Oxford, where he became master of the grammar school and acquired his first business training as bursar of the college. The new learning hardly touched his eminently practical intellect, and he soon left Oxford to serve as chaplain to Archbishop Deane of Canterbury. Before long the favour of Bishop Fox gained him a footing at court, and he proved his ability in several diplomatic missions, which gave him insight into the crooked and weak methods of .'s statecraft. In he was made Dean of Lincoln, and, though holding no higher office at the young king's court than that of Almoner, he rapidly became the most influential of Henry's younger counsellors. When in Henry embarked on war with France, the clever Almoner's advice became indispensable. Henceforth a great official like Bishop Ruthal was content to "sing treble to Wolsey's bass." In Wolsey became Bishop of Lincoln, and, before the end of the year Archbishop of York. In the Pope made him a Cardinal. In the same year Warham gave up the Chancellorship in his favour, and henceforth allowed himself to be effaced by the rising sun. For the next sixteen years Wolsey was supreme, both in Church and State. Fresh preferment was heaped upon him, till he disposed of the revenues of three or four bishoprics and of one of the richest abbeys. His pomp and ostentation excited the envy of the greatest nobles. His intimate friendship with the king enabled him to control Henry's policy as no other minister of the reign ever did, and he was shrewd enough never to gainsay the fierce king's wishes. " He is the person," wrote the Venetian ambassador, "who rules both the king and the kingdom." "He is," says the same authority, "very handsome, learned, extremely eloquent, of vast ability, and indefatigable. He alone transacts all the business that occupies all the magistrates, offices, and councils of Venice. He has the reputation of being extremely just. He favours the people exceedingly, and especially the poor, hearing their suits and making the lawyers plead gratis for them." He had plenty of enemies, such as the poet Skelton who complained how-

"He is set so high In his hierarchy Of frantic phrenesy And foolish phantasy, That in the Chamber of Stars All matters there he mars: Clapping his rod on the board: No man dare speak a word."


He was no ascetic, and had little care for the law of the Church-

"In Lent for a repast He eateth capons stewed, Pheasant and partridge mewed."

Many envied him, and the old nobles hated him, but he was, with all his faults, the ablest statesman of his time, and without his rare diplomatic and organising skill the young king's reign would have been shorn of its greatest glories.

4. Foreign politics from the beginning attracted Henry VIII.'s main attention. The two chief powers were now France and . was the most [7]  compact, best governed, and most patriotic of European nations. had, in the last generation,become united by the marriage of Ferdinand, King of Aragon, with Isabella, Queen of Castile, after which the Moors, who had hitherto reigned in the south, had been driven out. It was now being enriched by the wealth of the mines of America, which was rapidly appropriating for herself. Far inferior in importance was , which was split up into many states, and almost as divided as Italy: but there was still some faint German national feeling, and the Roman Emperor, as the king of the Germans still called himself, had some authority over its little princes, besides deriving more solid power from his hereditary dominions in Southern (including Austria and the neighbouring duchies), and from the rich territories of the Netherlands, which he held through his marriage with of Burgundy, daughter and heiress of Charles the Bold. Since the famous expedition of . to Italy in had revealed to northern Europe the wealth and the weakness of highly civilised, luxurious, and cultivated Italy, European politics had gradually settled down into a contest between the great nations. in which supremacyover the little states beyond the Alps was the prize of victory. The French king, Louis XII., had made himself Duke of Milan. His rival, Ferdinand of Aragon, had conquered the kingdom of Naples and Sicily. The Emperor Maximilian strove to establish himself in Italy at the expense of Venice. Every small Italian state took the side of one or the other, and so did its best to bring about the ruin of the country. In .'s days England had generally allied itself to , and .


renewed the Spanish alliance, when, immediately after his accession, he carried out his long-deferred marriage with Ferdinand's daughter, Catharine of Aragon, his brother Arthur's widow. But Ferdinand had treated England badly, and, at the time of .'s accession, his action had completely isolated England from all [9]  continental politics. In , and the Emperor had for the moment buried their disagreements and had united with many of the Italian powers in the League of Cambrai against Venice, the wealthy aristocratic republic that all Italy feared and envied. It seemed as if the great coalition would at once destroy Venice, but the Venetians were clever diplomatists and set to work to create dissensions among their ill-assorted enemies. Before long they succeeded. Julius I I., the warlike Pope, took the alarm lest the destruction of Venice should lead to the absolute preponderance of the French in the [10]  Peninsula. By hejoined with the Venetians, Ferdinand of Aragon, and the Emperor Maximilian in a new league, whose object was to drive the French out of Italy. This league was called the Holy League because the Pope was at the head of it. Henry had been kept out of all opportunity of taking a side in continental politics by the union of all the powers in the League of Cambrai. He rejoiced to find that the continental states had broken up into two factions, so that he had a chance of adopting a line of his own. He joined the Holy League, hoping to gain glory by renewing the old policy of the Edwards and Henrys of attacking, and was welcomed by the powers whose interests centred in Italy, since they would have a better chance of driving Louis XII. out of Milan, if the French had to repel an English assault on their frontier as well as defend Lombardy. To neutralise the English power, as usual stirred up to attack England, and James IV., though the husband of Henry's sister Margaret, eagerly prepared to cross the Border.

5. In there was war all over Europe. The Holy league drove the French out of Milan, and Ferdinand invaded Navarre south [11]  of the Pyrenees, held by a king who was but a great French nobleman. Henry prepared to take an active part in thewar, and Wolsey energetically busied himself in equipping the English armies. It was agreed between Henry and Ferdinand that a simultaneous attack should be made on from two points at once. The Marquis of Dorset was sent with a large


force to co-operate with the Spaniards in an attempt to win back the English king's old possessions in Guienne, while from the open gate of Calais a strong English ai my was to pour into the north of. Dorset's expedition was a sorry failure. [12]  England had been so long unused to continental warfare that even Wolsey's energy could not prevent a hopeless collapse of the commissariat. The English troops were raw and untrained, and their discipline soon broke down under the privations to which the unreadiness of their leaders, and the hot sun and drenching rains of exposed them. " The greatest lack of victuals," they complained to the king, " is of beer, for your subjects had liefer for to drink beer than wine and cider; for the hot wines do harm them and the cider doth cast them in sickness and disease." Moreover, the cold policy of Ferdinand prevented them ever measuring swords with the enemy. It suited the Spanish king to use them to complete his conquest of Navarre, rather than help them to invade Guienne. Before the end of August mutiny broke out, and the angry and suffering troops forced their weak generals to take them back to England. It was a disastrous and disgraceful beginning. Our continental allies began to distrust us. "Englishmen have so long abstained from war," said the Emperor's daughter, "they lack experience, from disuse; and, if report be true, they are sick of it already."

Henry and Wolsey redoubled their efforts, and the campaign of was at least no such utter failure as that of the previous year. In the spring of the year a gallant attack on the French galleys as they lay in shallow water retrieved the reputation of the English for courage, though it cost the life of the brave admiral Sir Edward Howard. In July Henry and his great army started from Calais on an invasion of Northern. The moneyless [13]  Maximilian joined him with some German troops, and did not think it beneath the dignity of Caesar Augustus to take Henry's pay. The French did not resist very strenuously: their best troops were in Italy; and when Henry intercepted a large French force at Guinegatte, on I6th August, the enemy fled so speedily that they used their spurs more than their swords, and the English called the fight the Battle of the Spurs. This victory led to the capture of the two important towns of Thr-ouanne and Tournai, of which latter city Wolsey, who had taken part in the whole campaign, was now made bishop.

On the eve of the Battle of the Spurs, a herald from James IV. had warned Henry that the Scots intended to invade England, if the English persisted in their invasion of. But not an English trooper was sent home to meet this new danger. [14]  The Lord Treasurer, Surrey, hurried to the north to put the frontier in a state of defence, and Queen Catharine herself took the lead in equipping the army destined to fight the Scots. " You are not so busy with war in Thdrouanne," she wrote to Wolsey, " as I am encumbered with it in England. They are all here very glad to be busy with the Scots, for they take it for a pastime. My heart is very good to it, and I am horribly busy with making standards, banners, and badges." Early in August James IV. crossed the Tweed with a "well-fed and fat army, much ordnance, plenty of victuals," including excellent beer. He easily captured and destroyed Norham and other Border castles. On Surrey's approach James took up a


strong position on Flodden Edge, a hill a few miles south of the Tweed, where the little river Till protected one of his flanks and a deep morass the other. In the chivalrous fashion of the time Surrey challenged
James to battle on the next Friday. The Till separated the armies, but Surrey by marching northwards towards the Tweed force James after all to fight at a disadvantage. Fearing lest Surrey's northward march threatened an invasion of , James left his strong position on Flodden Edge, and stationed his host on Branxton Hill, some distance to the north. Meanwhile Surrey, desisting from his northward march, crossed the Till at Twizel Bridge and turned southwards on the Scots, in order to redeem his challenge. On 9th September the battle took place. As the English moved up towards them the Scots came down from Branxton Hill and fought in the plain. The English stood between the Scots and retreat to their own


country; and left them no chance but to fight desperately. Each side was arrayed in four '"battles" or divisions. Surrey's sons, Thomas Howard, Admiral of England, and Sir Edmund Howard, commanded the English right, and first encountered the foe. The "battle" commanded by Surrey himself was over against the Scottish division commanded by the king. In a hard hand-to-hand infantry fight, Janes and his nobles atoned by their gallantry for the tactical errors that had undone their gallant followers. To the last they blundered. Their reserves never got into action, and the "battles" were so far apart that they gave each other little support. The fierce Borderers on the Scots left, under the Chamberlain of , carried all before them. However, Surrey in the centre prevailed over James, while the Highlanders on the Scots right were easily routed by Sir E. Stanley and his Lancashire archers on the English left, who climbed Branxton Hill and took those fighting with King James on flank and rear. By this nanceuvre the already half-beaten ranks of the Scots were utterly broken. Darkness alone allowed a few to escape by circuitous roads over the Border. James, with the bravest of the northern nobility, lay dead on the field. As the poet Lindsay wrote '

I never read in tragedy or story At one journey [day's work] so many nobles slain, For the defence and love of their sovereign."

The victorious general was made Duke of Norfolk, a title lost to the Howards when Surrey's father died fighting on the wrong side at Bosworth field

6. Next year the war languished and died out. Henry was bitterly disappointed with his allies, and found his father's treasures scattered, though was [16]  far from being beaten. He was as angry with his father-in-law as with the French, gladly accepted the overtures for a treaty made by Louis XI I., who, being finally driven out of Italy, was anxious to end his days in peace. The warlike Julius II. was dead, rejoicing that the barbarians had been driven over the Alps. After Flodden, Henry's sister Margaret ruled over the Scots in the name of her little son James V., and won over the country to the English side. Accordingly it was easy to make peace both with and . The new friendship with was cemented by the marriage of Mary, Henry's younger sister, to the worn-out and brokendown French king. Early in 15 5 Louis died, and Mary, who had married once to please her brother, chose [17]  a second husband toplease herself. This was her old lover Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, a robust and handsome but dull young nobleman, who was a personal friend and boon companion of Henry, and had won some little distinction in fighting the French.


7. The six years that followed the treaty with the French and Scots were years of unbroken peace for England, [19]  though the continental struggle was not ended till . The great feature of the time was the dying off of the older generation of princes, in whose places came young, ambitious, and capable rulers, the contemporaries of Henry in age, and his rivals in energy and ambition. In Francis I. of succeeded his cousin Louis XII. He was active and warlike, and refused to acquiesce tamely in the loss of Milan. In the year of his accession he crossed the Alps and won a great victory at Marignano, thus forcing his enemies to make peace on terms that restored to him the Duchy of Milan. In Ferdinand of Aragon died, and was succeeded by his grandson Charles of Austria, the son of Joanna, daughter and heiress of Ferdinand and Isabella, by the Archduke Philip of Austria, the son and heir of the Emperor Maximilian and of , the only daughter of Charles the Bold of Burgundy. The great Burgundian inheritance in the Netherlands and the Free County of Burgundy, between the Saone and the Jura, were now joined to the inheritance of Ferdinand and Isabella, Aragon, Castile, Navarre, Naples, and the vast American dominion that the followers of Columbus were winning for the Spaniards. In the old Emperor Maximilian died also, and Charles succeeded as a matter of course to Austria and all his hereditary dominions. The dignity of Roman Emperor was, however, elective, and it was the interest of the German princes not to have too powerful a ruler at their head. Accordingly Francis I. entered into competition with Charles for this office, but after a sharp [20]  contest with Francis, Charles gained the day, and was chosen in as the Emperor and . It was plain that a long struggle for supremacy would soon break out between Francis and Charles. All the subordinate princes of Europe ranged themselves on the side of one or the other, and astute statesmen like the new Pope, Leo X., sought to set up some sort of balance between them. Which side would Henry take in the forthcoming war ?

The foreign policy of the Middle Ages was largely based on traditions of enmity and friendship. was the natural enemy of England; and , , and the Empire were England's traditional allies. But the great changes in European statecraft that had begun with .'s


invasion of Italy had now led to the setting up of the idea of the European political system and of the balance of power. Europe was now looked upon as a [21]  single whole consisting of different independent parts, and each of the individual states watched very carefully its neighbours' doings, lest they should grow so powerful as to upset the European balance. The establishment of compact national monarchies on the ruins of feudalism and the Church made the kings so strong that they were able to look abroad and busy themselves in foreign affairs. What has been sometimes called the mediaeval policy of principles and traditions was now succeeded by a policy of interests. It was no longer possible for a state to hold the same foreign policy from generation to generation. What it now aimed at was its own immediate interests. What it specially tried to avoid was any growth of the power of its neighbours which might prove likely to upset the European balance. Now that . and Wolsey had again made England a state of European importance, it was a critical matter whether they would be moved by the old or the new ideas.

In the wars of the Holy League Henry had clung to England's traditional policy, and had fought with his ancestral allies against his ancestral foes. But [22]  he had found that all his skill was powerless to win new Crecys or Agincourts, and that his father-in-law and his other allies had made him their catspaw. Accordingly Henry veered round to, and the friendship which he had concluded with Louis XI I. was renewed with Francis I., though Francis did his best to defeat England's old allies, and had even broken down the rule of Henry's sister in by setting up against her his puppet the Duke of Albany as regent. For nearly six years after Francis' accession England and remained on friendly terms. But Wolsey's real object was to make England the tongue of the balance between and . He wished to preserve the balance of power which Charles rather than Francis seemed to threaten, and he also wished to keep the peace, using England as a makeweight or mediator between the two allies. He so won over Francis that he persuaded him to recall Albany to, though the misconduct of Margaret made it impossible for her to regain power over . In Wolsey had succeeded in joining all Europe together in a


union, the threads of which he held in his own hands. But the contest for the Empire unsettled everything. The old traditions were by no means dead. . not only represented all the traditional alliances of England. He was Queen Catharine's nephew. His power, joined with that of England, might well give Henry the chance of winning back Normandy or Guienne from Francis. Moreover Francis was far from being really a friend of England. There were grave difficulties on both sides. Sometimes even the policy of mediation seemed too cold and profitless, and more ambitious thoughts haunted Henry and his minister. Henry in posed as a candidate for the Empire. Wolsey more than once was hopeful of being made Pope. But these were but momentary feelings. Both were shrewd, practical men and did not give up realities for visions.

In war between Francis and Charles was on the verge of breaking out. Both rivals competed eagerly for [24]  England's support and listened to Wolsey's peace-makingand mediating proposals. Henry and his minister had personal interviews with both Francis and Charles. The conference between the French and English kings took place on the Calais border, and the two courts displayed such extraordinary pomp and magnificence that men called the meeting-place the Field of the Cloth of Gold. But nothing came either of the profuse waste of money or of the elaborate protestations of friendship [25]  between the two kings. Before long Charles met Henry in a much humbler fashion at Gravelines. Wolsey now held a conference at Calais, in which he professed to mediate between the two rivals. But it was little more than a pretence. When in open war broke out, England had to take a side or see itself effaced. Despite all the fine talk of a French alliance, Henry now declared himself a partisan of the Emperor.

8. The first war between Francis I. and . began in , and went on with one break until . It was almost uniformly disastrous to, though Henry could not claim that [26]  English soldiers had done much to contribute to the defeat of his enemy. With all his constant talk of war, and all the wearisome and insincere negotiations with which Henry busied himself, his actual interventions in continental warfare were few and not very brilliant. His campaigns against in and were not more glorious than his wars against the same enemy in and . In Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey, son of the victor of Flodden,


plundered the Breton coast with his ships, and afterwards led an army of invasion into Picardy; but he did nothing but devastate the country round about Boulogne. Next year Surrey was transferred to , whither Albany had returned on the outbreak of war, hoping to effect a diversion on behalf of the French. [27]  But Surrey's brutal devastation of the Borders was enough to teach the Scots their lesson. Albany was a poor soldier, and retreated on Surrey's appearance. The English rejoiced over an easy triumph, and Skelton wrote a poem telling how Albany-

"Like a coward knight, He fled and durst not fight; He ran away by night."

soon made a truce, and took no further part in the war.
Suffolk, Henry's brother-in-law, took Surrey's place in the second invasion of that was projected for . But Suffolk proved a wretched general, and the brave array that he led out of Calais effected nothing commensurate with the expense of its equipment.


Meanwhile the real war was being fought out elsewhere. Despite the gallantry of his soldiers, Francis was utterly driven out of Milan, Pope Leo X. and the Italian princes banding together with the Emperor against him. His kinsman, the Duke of Bourbon, plotted against him and deserted to the enemy. On attempting, in , to win back [29]  his Lombard inheritance, he was utterly defeated and taken prisoner at the great battle of Pavia, where he lost, as he boasted, everything but his honour. He bought his freedom by a promise to give up Burgundy, but on returning to broke his word and renewed the war. This time the Italian princes, with Pope Clement VII., Leo X.'s nephew and successor, [30]  at their head, feared the Emperor so much that they helped the French. But the imperial troops horrified Europe by their bloody sack of Rome. The Pope became a prisoner, and the Italian league was dissolved. Neither the perfidy nor the bravery of Francis answered any good end. His troops [31]  were finally expelled from Italy in , and in he was forced to sign the Peace of Cambrai on terms that made . absolute master of Italy. Henceforth Italy was practically an imperial possession, and its petty princes, with Clement VII. the foremost among them, were the abject vassals of Charles. Crowned Emperor by the Pope, Charles dreamt of renewing the old glories of the Medieval Empire. He was the strongest prince in Christendom and might well aspire to be " lord of the world " in fact as well as name.

9. The foreign policy of England gradually changed as the Emperor's successes became more and more brilliant. [32]  The campaigns of , though failures, had exhausted Henry's resources and again brought home to him the impossibility of carrying out an ambitious policy. Henceforth he took little part in the war, though he remained the enemy of as far as the name went. After the battle of Pavia, he thought once more for a moment of profiting by the calamities of France to win back Normandy from the beaten kingdom and the captive king. However, on maturer reflection, he adopted a very different line. Instead of availing himself of his nephew's victory to press hard, he took alarm at the danger to the balance of power, which the threatened preponderance of Charles bade fair to bring about. For the first time in English history the new policy of interests pointed in a different direction from the old policy of principles. Wolsey, ever faithful to his instincts of mediation and balancing, seized the opportunity. In he made peace with, making as a pretext the Emperor's refusal to co-operate in a policy of active invasion. After his release from his Spanish captivity, Francis was so anxious to renew the war that he gladly offered very good terms for a closer


alliance with England. There was talk of marrying the Lady Mary, the only surviving child of Henry and Catharine, to Francis himself, who was a widower. But the proposal was suddenly changed by the English into one for wedding to Francis' second son, a young boy. The French were disgusted, but nevertheless the negotiation did not drop. After the sack of Rome, Wolsey went on a stately embassy to to arrange for this alliance. But Francis was so unsuccessful that the scanty prospect of English help was no sufficient inducement for him to continue t he struggle. When he made peace in , England had not yet drawn the sword in his favour. Henry and his minister had succeeded in making England almost the third power in Europe. But that was very little to show for years of incessant diplomacy. After all, the weakness of England's position as a makeweight was, that her power weighed so lightly that, even when it was thrown on to the weaker side, it was as yet too little to turn the scale. Despite the English change of sides, Charles remained the master of Europe, and when it came to the point, England did not even venture to strike a blow. Nevertheless, with all its futility in results, Wolsey had done no small service to England. Under . England counted for nothing at all. Under . she was again, thanks to Wolsey, something to be reckoned with. England moreover had come out of her isolation and had become an element, if not a supremely important one, in the political system of Europe.

10. Though the chief greatness of Wolsey lay in his astuteness as a diplomatist, yet he made some mark as a home minister. The grandness of some of his [33]  schemes of domestic reformation, however imperfectly they were carried out, stand in pleasant contrast to the trickery and lying that defaced every step of his foreign policy, even when he was striving after high ends. The first few years of Henry's reign were a period of unruffled calm. The king royally spent his money on pomp and ostentation; and the chroniclers have little to tell save of the pageants and revelries at court. With the outbreak of war, the need for money began to make itself felt, and it was well for Henry that Wolsey's influence now became strong enough to check some of the waste and extravagance of the early days of the reign. Yet the Parliament of gave the large grant of 160,000, which was all that the king asked for, and peace


was renewed before financial pressure again made itself felt. Plague and sedition alone disturbed the unbroken quiet of the next few years. In and there were repeated outbreaks of the sweating sickness, a strange and deadly epidemic that singled out for its special victims the gross, well-fed, uncleanly Englishmen of the time. On [35]  Evil May Day, , riots broke out in London, when the London apprentices laid violent hands on the foreigners dwelling in the capital. The disturbances were thought to be too remissly put down by the city authorities, who sympathised with the rioters' hatred of foreigners and foreign ways. A few victims were hung; and four hundred of the culprits condemned to die were paraded, with halters round their necks, before Henry, who, amidst a scene of wild rejoicing, pardoned them all. But if Henry favoured the people, like his father he feared the old nobility, and Wolsey, now at the height of his power, treated them with [36]  studied insolence. Edward Stafford, Duke of Buckingham, the son of Richard III.'s accomplice and victim, and a descendant of Edward III. through Thomas of Woodstock, was the most important representative left of the older baronial houses. He was a foolish man, proud of his exalted rank and silly enough to listen to lying prophets who poured into his greedy ears stories of how the king would soon die, and how he himself would become heir to the crown. He did not conceal his dislike of the Cardinal, and boasted freely of the great future revealed to himself. In April , he was suddenly arrested, and tried as a traitor. There was little evidence of real treason, but the king said that he was guilty, and the peers were too timid to go against the king's will. In May Buckingham was condemned and executed. His vast estates were divided among the courtiers. From that time the proudest nobles of the land were absolutely cowed.

11. The expenses of the war in and again compelled Henry to summon parliament. The Commons [37]  of the period, still afraid of the old days when the nobles ruled as they would, were disposed to support the king, as their best protection against overpowerful subjects. But this state of things had now passed by, and Henry made demands on their purses more excessive than had ever been known. Wolsey as Chancellor demanded a subsidy of L8oo,ooo, a vast sum for those days,


and five times as much as the grant eleven years before which had been thought a heavy burden. When the Commons showed consternation at the request, the Cardinal went down to the House in state and lectured them on their duty of supporting the king. The speaker, Sir Thomas More, the brilliant man of letters, who here first took a leading position in public life, did his best to persuade the Commons to make the grant, and finally a large sum was voted, though not so much as Wolsey had asked for. Never a lover of parliaments, this imperfect success led Wolsey to manage without their help in the future. Two years later, when the battle of Pavia suggested the wisdom of again equipping an army and invading during the king's captivity, the money necessary was obtained not by parliamentary grant, but by what was [38]  called an Amicable Loan. This was a device of Wolsey's, who sent commissioners to every shire to call upon all men to pay a sixth part of their substance to support the king's project of invading in person. The Cardinal himself harangued the lord mayor and corporation of London to induce their obedience. "The king must go like a prince," he said, "which cannot be without your aid. Beware, therefore, and resist not, otherwise it may fortune to cost some their heads." Later on the citizens said that an act of Richard III. had made benevolences illegal. "I marvel," he answered, "that you speak of Richard, which was a usurper and the murderer of his nephews. Of so evil a man how can the acts be good ? " But the Londoners still resisted, and Wolsey was fain to agree that every man should "privily grant what he would." Nor was there less resistance in the country. A revolt was threatened in the eastern counties, and Wolsey feared for his life. " The poor cursed," wrote a chronicler; "the rich repugned, the light wits rallied: but in conclusion all people cursed the Cardinal and his coadherents as subversers of the laws and liberties of England." " If men should give their goods by a commission," was the cry, "then it would be worse than the taxes of, and England should be bond and not free." In the end Henry revoked the commissions. Even the fierce Tudor had to bend before the storm, which resistance to arbitrary taxation had excited. Wolsey, already hated by the nobles, was henceforth hated by the Commons.

12. Beneath the seeming calm of the time, the seeds of revolution were being sown, and the long peace of the strong king's reign opened up England to the new ideas of


Europe, at the very time when her statesmen were making her a full member of the European body politic. Even in [40]  the troubled days of the Wars of the Roses there had been a few Englishmen inspired by the new learning which had radiated from Italy all over Europe. The introduction of printing had opened up to a wide public ideas hitherto limited to a little circle of scholars. Men had began to ask questions and criticise authorities. It was no longer enough to say, " It has always been so," "It is written thus," which in earlier times had been looked upon as sufficient answers to any curious inquiries. Before long fruits of this new spirit were to be seen when the great change in men's minds, which was called the Renascence, that is the New Birth, became fully accomplished. This movementtookmany shapes. To some it meant the revived study of classical literature, and especially of Greek, which had been almost unknown in the Middle Ages, but was now again pursued with rare devotion and enthusiasm. To others it meant something wider than this, a new birth of the human spirit, and a fierce revolt against the Middle Ages, with their subservience to authority, their dogmatism, their narrowness and their bigotry. Italy, the first home of the Renascence, became full of the most active intellectual life. Her scholars, her artists, her writers made her the admiration of the world, and in the days before the invasion of ., Italy was the most civilised, wealthy and enlightened of European countries. But the spirit of revolt not seldom became an indiscriminate casting off of all control. The statesmen of Italy mocked at morality; many of her scholars mocked at both morality and religion. Since Italy had become the battle ground of Europe, she had undergone a fiery trial, which was rapidly putting an end to the domination of the new spirit there, and the few English who went to Italy for inspiration brought back the sacred impulse to thought and study, rather than the excesses of the degenerate Italians of the last age of the Renascence.

In the days of ., the new learning in England had its foremost champions in a little band of [41]  Oxford men, whose chief object was to throw off the trammels of the medieval schoolmen, and set up the study of Greek and of sound classical literature in the place of the dry logic and hide-bound theology of the men of the old learning. Foremost among these were William Grocyn, who first taught Greek in


Oxford, Thomas Linacre, Prince Arthur's tutor, famous both as a physician and as a humanist or classical scholar, and John Colet, who in first lectured after the modern fashion on the Greek Testament in Oxford, and, becoming Dean of St. Paul's, set up, hard by the Cathedral, St. Paul's School, as a seminary of classical learning and sound religion (I51O). Of a somewhat younger generation were Erasmus of Rotterdam, the most illustrious writer of his time, who spent many years in England, and Thomas More, a judge's son, who, to the great grief of his fellow scholars, gave up a life of study for the bar and politics, but never lost his love of scholarship or his zeal for the new learning. All these men saw in their different ways that the times were full of evil, and they were zealous to make things better. But they were moderate men, who wished to permeate the old forms with the new spirit, rather than build up a violent revolution from without. Erasmus was a timid student, who laughed at bigotry and abuses, but shrank from the rough work of ending them. Colet, a man of a more sturdy nature, was intensely religious, [42]  and denounced the blindness, ignorance, and worldliness of the clergy, and strove to make men more spiritually minded by studying the Bible in a reasonable and reverential spirit. Yet he had no quarrel with the doctrines or system of the Church, but only with the ignorance and corruption which had overspread its teaching and practice with countless abuses. More was as devout as Colet, but he was a layman versed in affairs, and his mind turned from religious and educational problems to consider the general state of society. More [43]  saw that many evils were underlying the apparent prosperity of the times, and that England was not far distant from an economic and social revolution. In his famous book called Utopia, published in Latin in , More sought to stir up men's discontent with the political and social system in which they lived by depicting an imaginary ideal commonwealth where everything was ordered for the best. In Utopia there were no aggressive wars, no religious persecutions, no indiffer- [44]  ence to things intellectual or spiritual, no violence, no crime, no idleness, no overwork, no eager striving for place and power, no glaring contrasts of wealth and poverty, but all was harmonious, happy and contented. Nor did More confine himself to dreaming dreams of an ideal happiness. He drew in the same book a vivid


picture of the evils that beset England and suggested powerful remedies for them. The country was overrun with disbanded soldiers, cast-off serving-men, and other "sturdy vagrants," unwilling to work or for whom no work could be got. In despair they took to robbery, and, as a cruel law punished robbery, no less than murder, with death, they thought it safer to kill their victims as well as to plunder them, since in any case, if they were found out, the penalty was the same, and dead men told no tales. If the law were less "sharp and ungentle" there would be fewer murders. If the people had more employment there would be fewer robbers and vagrants. But the rich landowners had discovered that it was more profitable to breed sheep than grow corn. In England "sheep are the devourers of men, and sheep masters the decayers of husbandry." Noblemen and gentlemen, for the sake of gain, leave no ground for tillage but enclose all in pastures. Pasture lands require fewer labourers than corn lands, so they "pluck down towns and villages and turn churches into sheep folds." In short the social and economical system of the Middle Ages was decaying, like their politics, their learning, and their religion. As ever in revolutionary times, the worst men came to the top. "Men speak of the commonwealth, but every man pursueth his private gain."

13. . and Wolsey were no ardent reformers, but they were not untouched by the spirit of the times and [46]  were anxious to do something to make things better, though they never seriously grappled with the delicate and difficult task of radical reform. More went into the king's service and Henry delighted to do him honour. Wolsey busied himself with plans of educational reformation, which partake of the grandeur and nobleness of all his designs. He saw that the Church wanted reform, and though not stopping to amend his own life or to go to the root of the evils, he nevertheless had real remedies to offer. In Henry persuaded Leo X. to make Wolsey "legate a latere," a special deputy sent directly from the Pope's side and having in his own hands the delegated authority of the Papacy. The strange combination of political and ecclesiastical authority which he now enjoyed gave him a position such as no one had ever held in England before. He thought that he was now strong enough to carry out his great ideas. About he persuaded Pope and king to allow him to dissolve


some small poverty-stricken and corrupt monasteries, out of whose revenues he began to establish two great colleges, One of the two was at Oxford, and he called it Cardinal College, and endowed it on a scale of hitherto unknown magnificence. The other he set up at Ipswich, his native town, to serve as a school to supply his Oxford foundation with students. In doing this he was but treading in the steps of earlier reformers, like William of Wykeham and Henry VI. He saw that there were too many lazy monks and not enough deep scholars. By his new establishments he hoped to make the clergy better educated and more energetic. Without any radical changes of doctrine or organisation, he aspired to reform the Church from within. His impulse was a wise and noble one, but it required much more care and time than Wolsey could spare from his other business to carry out such a policy properly. When Wolsey fell his work of educational reformation was only half begun.

14. A few good men were busy with great plans for making the world better and wiser. But the king, on whom everything depended, was bent on satis- [47]  fying his own selfish wishes. It was bad enough, as some thought, to exhaust the re- sources of England in useless wars, and soil her honour by lying and deceitful diplomacy. But the worst trickery of Wolsey's statecraft was respectable beside the idea that now took full possession of the self-willed king. We have seen how, after , he broke from the alliance with his wife's nephew, . Besides his fear of Charles's power, he had a stronger and more personal motive for his change of policy. He had grown tired of his queen, the Emperor's aunt, and in he applied to Clement VII. for a divorce from the lady who had been his wife for over eighteen years.

Catharine of Aragon, the youngest child of Ferdinand and Isabella, had come to England as a girl of sixteen to wed the Prince Arthur. Within a few months of the marriage the young lay dead at Ludlow (), and Catharine stayed in England, partly because she remained a pledge of the Spanish alliance, and partly because her return home would have been very inconvenient to her miserly father-in-law, as her rich wedding portion would have left England with her. Accordingly it was proposed that she should marry her brother-in-law, the new , Henry, who was six years her


junior. Such a wedding was against the law of the Church, but dispensations were got from Rome that satisfied ever the pious scruples of Queen Isabella, her mother. Nevertheless the marriage was not carried out, and the young widow remained neglected until the became . But within two months of his accession, Henry married her. Despite the disparity of ages they lived happily for many years, though Henry was a very faithless husband and their dispositions were extremely different. "The king adores her, and her Highness him," wrote her confessor, and Catharine threw herself with great energy into carrying out her husband's policy, as, for instance, in fighting the Scots in . She was a lighthaired, plump lady of blond complexion, not handsome, but of a "lively and gracious disposition." Though she loved her needle and her books of devotion better than court festivities or hunting and hawking, she was well educated, had a decided will and character, and was devoted to her husband. As she grew older, her health broke down and Henry grew tired of her, especially after , when there first appeared at court Anne Boleyn, the daughter of a Norfolk gentleman, whose grandfather had made a fortune as a London merchant, and who was connected with the great noble houses both through his mother, a lady of the Irish house of Ormonde, and by his own marriage to the daughter of the Duke of Norfolk, the hero of Flodden. "Madame Anne," wrote an eyewitness, "is not one of the handsomest women in the world. She is of middling stature and swarthy complexion, and has nothing but the king's great love and her eyes, which are black and beautiful." She was bright and lively, and had "wonderful long hair." She knew her power over the king, and kept him at a distance. Before long Henry was madly in love with her. He now began to pretend to have scruples about the lawfulness of his marriage with his brother's widow. Was it not, he argued, against the law of God, and could even the Pope authorise the violation of the divine commandments ? All his children by Catharine were dead, save the Lady Mary, whom he had made in Princess of . Henry persuaded himself or others that the death of Catharine's other children was a mark of God's displeasure; and argued, with more force, that there was no example of a woman ruling England, and that so long as he had no son, there was a danger lest the succession should become uncertain, and civil war break out on


his death. But the root of the matter was that the selfish, self-willed king wanted to get rid of Catharine and marry Anne. His fierce pursuit of his object was to be stopped by no obstacles, and he worked both perseveringly and violently in carrying out his evil purpose. Wolsey spent hours on his knees before Henry, begging him to desist in his purpose. The only result was that Henry began to grow weary of his minister.

According to the law of the Church a valid marriage could not be broken. A divorce, in the language of the time, meant declaring a marriage null and void from the beginning. But side by side with the theoretical strictness of the marriage law, there was a practical laxity that could hardly be exceeded; and the greedy ecclesiastical lawyers in their corrupt church courts showed extraordinary cleverness in inventing excuses for annulling what seemed to be lawful wedlock. Henry's sister Margaret had easily got divorced in a scandalous way from her second husband, Angus, and, a little earlier, Louis XII. had brutally put aside his first wife with the Pope's goodwill. But Henry's application put the Pope in peculiar difficulties. Henry was prudent enough not to raise the question of the power of any Pope to dispense with the law that prohibited marriage to a brother's widow. He only asked that Julius II.'s dispensation should be declared invalid on the ground of certain irregularities of form, and he did not even press a proposal he at one time entertained of asking for a new dispensation to commit bigamy. But since the sack of Rome, Clement was the Emperor's creature, and for a time his prisoner; and it was impossible for him to go against Charles, who fiercely upheld his aunt's cause. Yet it was hard for Clement to quarrel with Henry, especially as he was hoping that Henry, in alliance with Francis, would save Italy from the tyranny of the Emperor. A timid, shuffling, cunning diplomatist, careful chiefly of his position as an Italian prince, Clement's only course was to temporise. By delaying as long as he could, he hoped that the march of events would relieve the embarrassments of his position. Wolsey, accepting the inevitable, reluctantly urged upon Clement to comply with his master's request. He could not believe that Henry really meant to marry the giddy, insignificant court lady, but he hoped that, if Henry were free, he might persuade him to strengthen still further his darling French alliance by wedding some lady of the royal house


of. Anxious to please everybody, Clement at last yielded to Wolsey's importunity, and reluctantly agreed to appoint what was called a Decretal Commission, that is, a commission to find out whether the form of the dispensation was as Henry had declared, it being laid down in the document that, if this were the case, the marriage was invalid. The Pope appointed two legates to act as his commissioners. One was Wolsey himself, the other was -Cardinal Campeggio, an Italian living at Rome, who, after the evil fashion of the time, held the bishopric of Salisbury.

Henry and Anne were overjoyed, but Wolsey was nervous and the Pope very much alarmed, now that he had given away the power of settling the question to others. Clement, however, resolved that the commission should never take its course. Campeggio did his best to delay matters. Gout and other excuses delayed his departure from Rome, and made his journey to England a very slow one. It was not until that the legates opened their court at Blackfriars. Catharine, who had firmly resisted their private advice to quietly retire to a convent, took up a bold line before them. She declared in her husband's presence that she had been his faithful wife for twenty years, and had done nothing that made her worthy to be put to public shame. She appealed to the Pope himself, and her confessor, John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, the best and most learned of the bishops, appeared before the court, and said that "to avoid the damnation of his soul" he had come to declare that the marriage could not be dissolved by any law human or divine. Public opinion was strongly moved. Campeggio still forced Wolsey to delay. The court did not open till the end of May, and Campeggio insisted on adjourning, after a few weeks, for the long vacation. Before it had reassembled, the news came that the Pope had revoked the commission and all the business had to be gone into over again at Rome. The Emperor had forced his dependent to throw over the English King.

15. The baffled king's anger now fell heavily on Wolsey. For the last few years Wolsey's relations to the king had not [50]  been so cordial as of old. He repeatedly saw Henry overrule his wishes and then make him the scapegoat of the ill-success of the policy which he had unsuccessfully opposed. In the early stages of the divorce suit Henry had carefully kept Wolsey ignorant of the real course of events. The nobles and people joined together in baiting the masterful Chancellor and Henry was not


averse to getting a fresh spell of popularity by sacrificing his minister. Anne Boleyn's grandfather, the old Duke of Norfolk, had died in , but his son, the new duke, the Surrey of the French war of , backed up the cause of his niece, and Anne Boleyn, now established in great state in the royal palace, looked upon Wolsey as responsible for the failure of the legatine court. The old nobles renewed their attacks on their ancient enemy, and now Henry's favour was withdrawn. Wolsey was driven from the chancellorship and his property was seized. The monstrous charge was brought against him of having broken the statute of Praemunire by acting as Pope's legate, though it was notorious that he had taken the office with the king's goodwill. His college at Ipswich was destroyed, and Cardinal College confiscated by the king, who made a great merit of refounding it on a smaller scale under the name of Christ Church. The fallen minister made an abject submission, and was at last allowed to leave his retreat at Esher and go back to his diocese of York. In he threw himself with unwonted energy into his work as archbishop, and succeeded in winning the love of the rude north countrymen. But he could not remain contented, and sought to be recalled to the royal favour. He indiscreetly entered into relations with the French and imperial ambassadors, and this sign of discontent was interpreted as treason. Henry angrily ordered his arrest, and early in November Wolsey was slowly moved southward to meet the fate that attended those who stood across the path of . His disgrace and ill-health had undermined his constitution. The hardships of a winter journey brought on a severe illness, and when he reached Leicester Abbey, he took to his bed and died (27 November ). No statesman of his rank ever left the scene less lamented. Save for a few faithful servants, like Cromwell and his biographer Cavendish, all the world was against him. Yet he had laboured long and faithfully to promote the welfare and glory of his country, and with him ended the peaceful and prosperous days of his master's reign.




[1] character and policy ofHenry VIII.

[2] [1509-1510.]

[3] Henry's ministers.

[4] Execution ofEmpson andDudley.

[5] Thomas Wolsey,1471-1530.

[6] Henry VIII. and Wolsey [1510-1515.]

[7] Foreignaffairs,1509-1515.

[8] [1508--1513.]

[9] The League of Cambrai, 1508.

[10] The Holy League,1511.

[11] Wars of the Holy League 1512 -1514

[12] Dorset in Spain,1512

[13] Guinegatte,Therouanne, andTornai, 1513.

[14] 1513 Flodden Field

[15] [1513--1515.]

[16] Peace withFrance and Scotland, 1514.

[17] Mary Tudor and her husbands.

[18] [1515--1518.]

[19] Foreignpolitics.1515-1521.

[20] The beginnings of the rivalry of Charles V.Francis I.

[21] The European Political systemand the Balance of Power

[22] Wolsey and the European Balance.

[23] [1519--1523.]

[24] His policy of mediation 1519-1521.

[25] The Field of the Cloth of Gold,1520.

[26] The first war of Francis I and Charles V.,1521-1529.

[27] Campaigns of Surrey and1522-1523

[28] [1525-1529.]

[29] Battle of Pavia 1525.

[30] Sack of Rome 1527.

[31] Peace of Cambrai, 1529.

[32] England and the French Alliance 1525-1529.

[33] The domestic policy of Wolsey,1513-1529.

[34] [1517-.1525.]

[35] Evil May Day,1517.

[36] Execution ofBuckingham,1521.

[37] The Parliamentof 1523.

[38] The Amicable Loan, 1525.

[39] [1509-1515 ]

[40] The Renascence in Italy and England.

[41] The Oxford Reformers.

[42] Dean Colet.

[43] Sir Thomas More

[44] Utopia 1515

[45] [1515-1527.]

[46] Wolsey's ecclesiasticalpolicy.

[47] The early history of the Divorce Question, 1527 - 1529

[48] [1527-1527.]

[49] [1527-1530.]

[50] The Fall of Wolsey, 1529.

[51] 1517-1525.]