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

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


CHAPTER II. Henry VIII. and the Beginnings of the Reformation. 1529-1547.


1. One of the many signs of the break-up of the medieval system had long been the growing weakness of the Church [1]  though the Church went on, outwardly as strong as ever, and all the attempts of moderate reformers had done little to alter its spirit or destroy the worst abuses. At last in the long-deferred crisis came. Martin Luther, a Saxon friar, stirred up a great agitation in Northern against the system of indulgences, by which penances for sin were remitted in return for money payments, and which became in practice little better than licences purchased with money to commit sin. Before long Luther was in open revolt against the Papacy and the Church system of the Middle Ages. Almost at the same time Ulrich Zwingle was starting a similar movement among the Swiss at Zurich. The Papacy was corrupt and careless, and Pope Leo X. thought more of upholding the balance of power and patronising scholars and artists, than of ending abuses or reforming the Church. Luther denounced the popular notion of good works, and taught that men were justified, or made righteous, by faith and soon made his doctrine of justification by faith the centre of a system that cut deep into the traditions of the Church. Many German princes, especially Luther's own lord, the Elector of Saxony, backed up the friar. The young Emperor strove in vain to restore unity of thought to , and in a few years all North fell away from the Papacy. After Luther's followers were called Protestants, because of the protest which they made against the old Church system. Even more thorough-going was the reformation which Zwingle made in Switzerland. While Luther kept up the pompous ceremonies of the ancient Church, left each church to settle whether it should be governed by bishops after the traditional fashion or otherwise, and strongly upheld the doctrine of the Real Presence n the Eucharist Zwingle cleared the churches of ornaments, set up a simple form of praying and preaching, advocated a popular form of church government that left little room for the priest, and taught that the Lord's Supper was a simple commemorative feast. A few years


later the great French thinker, John Calvin of Noyon, pushed the new principles to their uttermost, and established a model reformed church in the free city of Geneva, to which he had fled for refuge when expelled from France by Francis I. While North and Scandinavia received their reformation from Luther, Calvin absorbed and made more spiritual the religion of Zwingle, and became the chief Reformer of Middle Europe. Both Luther and Calvin utterly broke with the old Church, and set up a new system, which each thought was more like primitive Christianity than the Church of the Middle Ages. Great violence and disturbances threatened to make the religious revolution a political and social revolution as well. Moreover, it took a long while before men's opinions finally settled down, the spirit of unrest was almost universal, and it seemed as if the Catholic Church were everywhere on the verge of ruin. Even in Italy the Popes had to fight against the spirit of the Renascence. Only in did the faith of the Middle Ages still live on.

2. For many years England was but little influenced by the Reformation movement. But the failure of the men of the new learning to carry out a moderate [2]  reform of the Church from within, soon led those who disliked abuses to wish well to the Continental Protestants, and young scholars went to to study the new gospel under Martin Luther. Yet the great mass of English opinion was strongly conservative, and reformers, like Wolsey or More, were as active against the audacious heretic as the most oldfashioned opponents of all change. ., who was proud of his orthodoxy and knowledge of theology, published in a Latin book in which he defended the seven sacraments against Luther, who said that there were only two. Leo X. was so pleased with this that he gave Henry the title of Defender of the Faith, which all subsequent English kings and queens have borne. But before the end of Wolsey's power, the new doctrines were slowly creeping into England; and in William Tyndale printed abroad an English version of the New Testament, which his sympathisers privately circulated in England. The government burnt at Paul's Cross all copies that could be found. More engaged in bitter controversy with the heretic. Tyndale was forced to take up his quarters in the Netherlands, and before long not only


his books but his followers were burnt in England. Yet the publication of Tyndale's Testament marked the beginning of the establishment of a Protestant party in England, though for many years it was small, humble, and bitterly persecuted. It became important when, not long after Tyndale's book saw the light, Henry, impatient with the Pope's unwillingness to give him a divorce, began to grow unfriendly to the papal power. But the worse Henry's relations were with Rome, the more anxious he was to prove his orthodoxy by stamping out every vestige of Lutheran heresy. The fall of Wolsey brought the heretics no relief, for More, the new Chancellor, was more intolerant than the Cardinal.

3. It had been one of Wolsey's mistakes to ride roughshod over public opinion. . now saw that [4]  he was more likely to get his own way if he made a show of consulting his people. Henceforth he took few steps without taking the advice of Parliament, and, in Church matters, of the two Convocations of Canterbury and York. But those who have looked upon Henry as simply wishing to carry out the desires of his subjects have entirely misunderstood his objects. He took good care to pack his Parliaments with his servants and dependents, and dictated rather than interpreted the public opinion, which he boasted to have on his side. Immediately after the fall of Wolsey he summoned a Parliament, which met on 3rd November , and which continued to hold sessions until , though there were few precedents for allowing a Parliament to last so long without fresh elections. With the help of the submissive Commons, Henry began the great revolution which was to cut England adrift from the Middle Ages.

Henry's first object was to get a divorce from Catharine and to marry Anne. After the breakdown of the legatine court, he thought his best way to obtain this was to frighten the Pope by showing that England was unanimous in supporting the divorce. To terrorise the clergy, who, alarmed at the spread of heresy, might well hesitate to bring pressure on the Pope, Henry appealed to the hatred of abuses and of priestly domination that had already spread widely among the laity. He allowed the Commons to attack the ecclesiastical courts, and to pass acts limiting pluralities and forbidding some clerical exactions (). In the same year he strove, in the true spirit of the Middle Ages, to


collect authoritative opinions adverse to the Pope's contention that the Church might lawfully allow a man to marry his brother's widow. He consulted the universities [5]  of Christendom as to the validity of his marriage; but the result helped neither Pope nor king, and was largely the result of bribery and political pressure. In , , and Italy, where the Emperor was all-powerful, the lawyers and theologians of the universities decided that the Pope was right. In England and, where Henry and his ally Francis had the upper hand, a declaration was obtained that the Pope was wrong. Such a lame result had no influence at all on the course of the controversy.

4. The fourteenth century laws against the Papacy were still on the statute book, though they had long been a dead letter. By the Statute of Pramunire no [6]  foreign power could exercise jurisdiction in England, and yet Wolsey had, with Henry's goodwill, been appointed papal legate, as the easiest way of reforming the Church. Henry now suddenly charged the whole clergy of England with having broken the Statute of Praemunire, by acknowledging the legatine authority of the fallen chancellor. Technically the charge could not be gainsaid, but Henry himself and the whole of the laity were every bit as guilty as the clergy. However, the king delighted in doing unjust things in a formally legal way, and, backed up as he was by Parliament, the clergy were helpless before him. In their despair the Convocations of Canterbury and York offered in to purchase their pardon by paying an enormous fine. The sum fixed was £1oo,ooo for Canterbury and £18,000 for York-a proportion which shows how little important was the north of England at that time. Nor was this all. Henry refused to grant pardon to the clergy until they had acknowledged him as "Supreme Head of the English Church." There was nothing in the proposed title that necessarily excluded the papal power, or the independent rights of the English Church, but the clergy were suspicious, and only consented to recognise Henry's supremacy "in so far as is permitted by the law of Christ." Thus were set up the beginnings of the Royal Supremacy, which soon became in [7]  Henry's hands the leading principle of the English Reformation. It was followed up in , when Henry forced the Convocation of Canterbury to accept a document called the Submission of the Clergy, in which the


Church promised never to meet in convocation or pass any canons or Church laws without the king's consent; and agreed that all ancient canons, that trenched upon the royal authority, should be revised. et despite this submission, Parliament, in , continued its attack on clerical privileges by limiting Benefit of Clergy in cases of felony to clerks who were at least sub-deacons. Before this law was passed all accused persons who "proved their clergy" by showing that they could read were handed over by the king's courts for trial by the Church courts which could only impose very inadequate penalties. The rights of the Church were made the excuse for allowing all educated people to commit their first crime with comparative impunity.

5. Absolutely master of his own subjects, lay and clerical, Henry now set to work in earnest to force the Pope to give him his divorce by a systematic series of attacks on the papal authority. In reviving the ancient laws he had done much in this direction, but every year now saw a new branch of the power, which Engand had accepted for centuries, hewn away without a scruple.

In , at the instance of the clergy themselves, the Annates Act was passed, which forbade bishops to pay [9]  henceforth to the Pope the Annates or First- Fruits, that is, theirnominal first year's income which it had been the custom, not only for bishops, but for all clergymen newly appointed to benefices, to send to Rome as a sort of thankoffering. This would have cut off a great source of papal income from England, but, in order to influence the Pope more effectually, Parliament enacted that the law was not to come into force until the king was so minded. Henry let the Act sleep for the present, but Clement VII. could not be bribed to give him a divorce. He was still so utterly at the mercy of . that it was impossible for him to disoblige the Emperor, even if he had seen his way to repudiate the action of his predecessor, who had permitted Henry's marriage.

The obstinacy of the Pope and the fixed determination of the king were still arrayed against each other, as they had been five years before. England had gradually drifted into revolution without any one knowing it: and the outlook was becoming darker than ever. In Sir Thomas More had resigned the Chancellorship in disgust and gone into private life. Soon after, Archbishop Warham died, and Henry put in his place Dr. Thomas Crammer, an


almost unknown Cambridge scholar, whose chief recommendation was that he would carry out the king's will. Meanwhile, Henry's last hope of foreign support had disappeared when Francis I., instead of joining him against the Pope, had been induced by Clement to enter into a close alliance with the Emperor, which left England without a friend in Europe. Henry now resolved that English courts should do what papal courts had refused to accomplish, and early in he secretly married Anne Boleyn. He then hurried through Parliament the Act in Restraint of Appleals, which declared that the realm of England was an empire containing within [10]  itself both civil and ecclesiastical jurisdiction sufficient for all causes, and therefore forbade all appeals to Rome and made the Archbishop's Court the highest church court in England. The Annates Act of was also enforced, and the breach with Rome was now open. Cranmer held a court at Dunstable in which he declared Catharine's marriage invalid, and his was now the highest tribunal before which the suit could be brought. Henry now avowed his marriage with Anne Boleyn, who was solemnly crowned queen amidst great rejoicings and wonderful pageantry. Before the end of the year the birth of the Lady , daughter of Henry and Anne, did something to settle the vexed question of the succession. In an Act of Succession was passed, which settled the throne on the children of Queen Anne.

6. In , Clement gave judgment in favour of Catharine, and died soon afterwards. Henry now drove through Parliament an act which cut away the last vestiges of papal jurisdiction. A new Annates [11]  Act was passed, which extended the principle of the former Act to every sort of benefice, while Tenths, that is the tenth of each year's income after the first, which till now had also been paid to the Pope by the beneficed clergy of all ranks, were henceforth also kept in the king's hands. Two other anti-papal acts followed. One abolished Peter Pence, the last remaining revenue drawn by the Pope from England, and transferred the Pope's claim to issue dispensations to the Archbishop of Canterbury. The other again confirmed the "Submission of the Clergy," and made a fresh encroachment on the spiritual power by directing that delegates appointed by the king should hear appeals from the court


of the archbishop Later in the year the Act of Supremacy was passed, by which it was made treason to deny to the king that title of Supreme Head on earth of the Church of England, which Convocation, in more guarded language, had already bestowed upon him.

Thus was the separation between England and Rome completed. Henry boasted that he was no innovator, but was merely carrying out to their logical results the ancient laws, which had upheld the national independence and the supremacy of the crown against the claims of a foreign potentate. His contention was that the Papal Supremacy was, in its essence, political, and might be thrown off without any change in the ecclesiastical or religious policy of England. The fiercer Henry grew against the Pope, the more careful he was to emphasise his orthodoxy by burning the followers of Luther and Zwingle. In Thomas Bilney, a Cambridge man, who had taught in the eastern counties justification by faith, without attacking either the Papacy or the teaching of the Church, was burnt at Norwich, though the king's own chaplain, Hugh Latimer, was his friend, and eulogised "little Bilney" as "a simple, good soul, not fit for this world." In , a more outspoken heretic suffered the same fate. This was John Frith, a follower of Zwingle, who denied the doctrine of the Real Presence. But all Henry's care to show his hostility to heresy could not prevent the breach with Rome preparing the way for religious changes. Though Henry had precedents for limiting the Pope's authority, they all came from times when it was an article of absolute faith, all over Western Christendom, that the Pope was the inspired Vicar of Christ, the highest authority on questions of faith and morals, and even the ultimate source of all ecclesiastical power. It was a real religious revolution, when Henry thus broke with a power which was an integral part of the system of the Medieval Church. In rejecting the Papacy, Henry was really doing for England what Luther had done for , but while Luther repudiated the whole teaching of the Middle Ages and set up a new faith and a new church-system, Henry, in a more conservative spirit, sought to reorganise the English Church on a purely national basis without any change in its faith, its organisation, or its worship. It was a good thing for England that Henry would have nothing of the violent methods of Continental reformers, and gave to the English Reformation that strong political tendency which it always retained. While in


France and the Reformation broke up the political unity of the nation, the English Reformation increased the unity and emphasised the national character of the English state. The firm hand of four successive monarchs led Englishmen to pray in accordance with the royal fashion. The strong revolutionary tendencies, which the break-up of the old order involved, were controlled by forces powerful enough to withstand them, though in some ways religion suffered by the state outstepping its functions, treating the clergy almost like state officials, and making the people believe and worship in the ruler's way, as if it was a part of a subject's duty to accept the king's religion. Despite many temporary fluctuations of policy, King Henry's "middle way" at last prevailed, and the English Church was able to maintain its continuity with the past while reforming itself to meet the needs of a changed present.

7. While . broke the bonds of Rome, he forged a new set of fetters for the English clergy. A series of vigorous attacks on the immunities of the [13]  English Church reduced the clergy to abject dependence on the crown, and forced them to resign their ancient liberties and be content with ratifying the will of the despot, whose caprice utterly ignored the old doctrine that the Church, like the State, was supreme within her own sphere. As early as , Bishop Fisher of Rochester attributed the action of Parliament to lack of faith, and declared that to accept the king's supreme headship would cause the clergy of England "to be hissed out of the society of God's Holy Catholic Church." After , he joined with Sir Thomas More in an attitude of vain protest. The restlessness of public opinion found an expression in the strange influence of " the Nun of Kent," Barton, a servant girl, who became a nun at Canterbury, and whose hysterical utterances were popularly regarded as warnings from Heaven against the new policy of the king. More, Fisher, and other great persons thoroughly believed in [14]  her sayings, and at last she grew so formidable, that in she was executed as a traitor by Act of Attainder. On the scaffold she admitted that "being a poor wench without learning" she had been taught to make interested prophecies by knavish priests who got profit to themselves from her revelations. Fisher and More were implicated in her fall, but Fisher was let off with a fine, and the king withdrew the charge against


More. Before long, however, both More and Fisher were brought before Cranmer at Lambeth and asked to take the oath which had been drawn up after the Act of Succession was passed. Both refused to do this, though they were willing to swear to recognise Anne Boleyn's children as heirs to ,the throne, since Parliament had undoubted power to alter the succession. But the oath also required them to declare Anne Henry's lawful wife and renounce the Pope, which neither of them was prepared to do. Anne Boleyn spitefully persuaded Henry not to accept the modified submission, with which Cranmer strove to induced the king to be contented. In April , the bishop and lawyer were sent to the Tower, and remained there until their death.

More and Fisher were not alone in their resistance. Another conspicuous foe of the supremacy was Reginald Pole, a young churchman, then studying at Padua, who, as a grandson of George Duke of Clarence, brother of Edward IV., stood very near the throne, and who now gave up the certain prospect of high preferment in England, and remained in exile for his faith. In the Pope made him a Cardinal, and he lived henceforth in Italy where he won a great position, and wrote bitterly against Henry's policy. Moreover the clergy as a body were getting restive. They were so discontented that Cranmer was forced to forbid any sermons on the question of the succession, and the spirit of dissatisfaction was particularly rife among the monasteries, many of which, belonging to orders [16]  scattered all over Christendom, strongly disliked the isolation of the English Church from the rest of the Catholic world. Despite the corruption of some parts of the order, the Franciscan friars were still the most popular and influential religious teachers of the people, and especially that section called the Friars Observant, who had been reformed in the fifteenth century in accordance with the strictest ideals of St. Francis. Many of the Observants declined to take the anti-papal oath, and Henry peremptorily suppressed all their houses. The monks of the London Charterhouse [the name given to Carthusian monasteries], distinguished for the austerity and piety of their lives, took up the same course, and refused as a body to take the oath of succession. A new Treasons Act was now hurried through, making it high treason to maliciously deny to the king any of his titles, and under this they were condemned to death. Many


suffered on the scaffold, while others perished even more horribly of starvation and neglect in the foul prisons of the time. Meanwhile Fisher had been deprived of his bishopric and the privileges attached to it. His fate was hastened by the rash kindness of the new Pope, Paul III., who made him a Cardinal. He was now condemned by a jury for having "openly declared in English that the [17]  king is not Supreme Head on earth of the Church of England." On 22nd June he was beheaded on Tower Hill. More's turn now came. On 6th July he suffered the same fate, showing on the scaffold the same serene composure and ready wit that had marked his whole life. These executions sent a thrill of honor through Europe. But the relentless policy that spared neither the most illustrious of the bishops nor the most famous man of letters of the realm, showed that the king would, at all costs, be absolute master in his kingdom. Henceforth opposition feared to make itself heard, while Henry was encouraged by his triumph again to lay his heavy hand upon the Church.

8. Thomas Cromwell was now Henry's most trusted minister. The son of a substantial fuller at Putney, Cromwell was by his own confession a " ruffian in [18]  his young days." Driven from home by some misconduct, he served as a common soldier in the Italian wars, and afterwards settled down at Antwerp, where he amassed money by trade. He returned to England a prosperous man, and soon became conspicuous as a money-lender, and afterwards as a lawyer, in which capacity he became Wolsey's legal agent and secretary. He was one of Wolsey's instruments in suppressing a number of small monasteries, from the revenues of which the cardinal proposed to endow his colleges at Ipswich and Oxford, and in sat in the House of Commons where he courageously pleaded his fallen patron's cause. But he soon transferred his services to the king, and rose high in favour. A strong, resolute, greedy self-seeker, his avowed principle of conduct was to follow the inclination of his master. He studied Machiavelli's famous Prince when it was still in manuscript, and brought to politics all the ability and all the moral degradation of the worst type of Italian statesmen. His unscrupulous strength and cunning were just what Henry wanted. Though never becoming, like Wolsey, the king's trusted minister, he was used to the uttermost as a clever tool, who alone could give full effect to the autocrat's


imperious wishes. In he was appointed the king's Vicar-general in matters ecclesiastical. This post enabled him to wield all the vast authority that Henry now exercised as Head of the Church. Between and , Cromwell carried out a revolution, compared with which the abolition of the papal power seemed a small matter, and made Henry more of a despot than any English king had been since Magna Carta.

9. The eyes of the king and his vicar were now turned upon the monasteries, whose wealth excited their greed, [20]  and whose powerlessness rendered them an easy prey. The palmy days of the monasteries had long passed away. Since the fourteenth century very few new houses of religion had been founded, and Wolsey and others had abolished monasteries without a thought of bringing about any great revolution. The spirit of medieval piety, of which the monastic life, with its rigid asceticism and spirit of selfrenunciation, was the finest flower, had long been withering. In some houses gross corruption reigned, in many more a spirit of deadness and cold formality. While some convents suffered from the evils of excessive wealth, a larger number were so poor, that they could neither pay their way nor live according to their rule. Few " regulars " made any mark in the world of learning, or climbed high up the ladder of ecclesiastical preferment to the great posts of the Church, which were now almost monopolised by the "secular" clergy. Public opinion viewed monks and friars with indifference, and so few wished to "enter religion" that the number of monks, even in the richest houses was small. But it is quite clear that they were neither hated nor feared. Despite occasional scandals and much laxity, the monks of the greater monasteries were easy landlords, suffering their tenants to live on quietly, paying the customary rent, and farming after the ancient fashion. In the remoter parts of the country they still played an indispensable part, and everywhere they were the guardians of hallowed shrines that the people still reverenced. The brethren of the London Charterhouse had shown that English monks could die nobly for their faith, and the friars were still largely the teachers of the people. But the monks, in proportion as they were active and zealous, were pledged to uphold the ways of the Middle Ages. Their membership of worldwide orders made them the least national part of the Church, and the best monasteries were standing papal garrisons,


who watched with fear and trembling the audacious policy of the king, though their timidity seldom allowed them to express their feeling as the noble Carthusians had done. In throwing off allegiance to the Papacy, Henry almost pledged himself to the abolition of the monasteries. The State needed money badly: so many abbeys and priories were no longer any use; many abuses wanted reforming. It was easy to put forward many specious pretexts to cloak the greediness that really set the spoilers to work.

In Cromwell ordered a royal visitation of the monasteries to inquire into their condition, and his brutal underlings, such as Legh and Layton, went over the country to trump up a case that might justify their suppression. There was plenty of evidence that could be used against the monks, but the visitors in their haste did not concern themselves overmuch with sifting the true from the false. In Parliament, on their report, passed an act abolishing all monasteries possessing a revenue of less than L200 a year, it being believed that the lesser monasteries were the more corrupt. The same commissioners again went round to carry out the suppression, scattering the inmates, devastating their houses, and destroying their churches. Plain men, who knew little about the Divorce Question or the Royal Supremacy, realised for the first time that they were in the midst of a religious revolution, when the churches in which they had worshipped were rudely desecrated, their good-humoured landlords sent away to beg their bread or live on miserable pensions, while greedy courtiers rioted in the ancient abodes of religion, raised the rents of their tenants, and stopped the doles and alms that had flowed from the monasteries to the poor.

10. Before was out, two formidable popular revolts showed that the more remote parts of England bitterly resented the suppression of the lesser monasteries [21]  by the upstarts who were leading King Henry into strange new ways. The first rebellion broke out in Lincolnshire, where it was soon suppressed, but a much more formidable rising followed immediately afterwards in , headed by the brave and simpleminded Robert Aske, a gentleman of good family. The country people rose in large numbers,took Pontefract Castle, and marched south to Doncaster. The greatest nobles of the north, with Sir Thomas Percy, brother and heir of the Earl of Northumberland, and Archbishop Lee of York at their head, joined them, and they resolved "to go to


London on pilgrimage to the King's Highness, and there to have all the vile blood of his Council put from him, and all the noble blood set there again, and also the faith of Christ and His laws to be kept, and full restitution to the Church of all wrongs done unto it." For this reason the revolt was called the Pilgrimage of Grace; and the rebels bore before'them the banner of St. Cuthbert, the famous northern saint, and also a standard on which were embroidered a chalice and the mystic Five Wounds of Christ. Norfolk, sent with a large force to crush the rising, did not venture to cross the swollen Don or fight a battle, but he cleverly contrived to persuade the rebels to go home peaceably, the king promising that a general pardon should be granted, and that a Parliament should meet at York to remedy the grievances of the north country. Many of the leaders, who had been constrained by fear to join the revolt, welcomed this easy settlement. But in new disturbances broke out, and Henry took advantage of these to repudiate his promises. The leaders were sought out and executed, and many of the lesser folk shared their fate. Aske and Percy were among those who suffered, but the archbishop, who had acted under constraint and soon deserted the rebels, was allowed to continue in his office. The most permanent result of the rebellion was the setting up, on the model of the Council of at Ludlow, (see chapter viii.), a law court at York called the Council of the North, which, at some loss of liberty, did great good by sternly suppressing riot and upholding peace and order in the wild regions beyond the Humber, that had long known little other law than the rule of the stronger.

11. The spoils of the lesser monasteries stimulated Henry and Cromwell to lay their hands upon the greater houses. [23]  This time, however, they went to work in a different way. Instead of abolishing them all by a single law, they dealt with them individually. Strong pressure was brought to bear on the different communities to make so-called voluntary surrenders to the king. Fat pensions and high church preferment were given to complaisant abbots, and charges were easily trumped up against the unyielding ones, that a good case might be made for the violent suppression of their houses. At first very few houses surrendered ; but, in , the number mounted up to twenty-four ; and, in , nearly two hundred abandoned the hopeless struggle. In that year an Act of Parliament was passed confirming the


surrenders, and giving the king power to suppress such houses as remained, and also to deal in the same way with colleges and hospitals that were not monastic foundations. Before the end of there was not a monastery left in England, and many "secular" (i.e. non-monastic) colleges had incurred the same fate. Some of the stronger monasteries held out nobly, but ruthless cruelty completed the process when cajolery and fraud proved of no effect. The execution of Abbot Whiting of Glastonbury, an infirm old man of blameless character, hung on Glastonbury Tor on such charges as stealing the monastery plate, because he had sought to hide it from the greed of the commissioners, was an act well-timed to frighten the boldest. The same scenes that attended the destruction of the smaller houses were now witnessed on a larger scale. The mass of the spoils fell into the hands of courtiers or speculators, and the ring of new nobles, who had earned their promotion by their subservience to Henry's caprices, received from the monastic lands an endowment for their new state. Suffolk, the king's brother-in-law, and Cromwell himself, were [24]  among the chief gainers; and to this day many famous abbeys, like Woburn and Tavistock, remain the homes of the new families, like the Russells, afterwards Earls of Bedford, who first came into importance at this period. Only a small portion of the spoil stuck in the king's hands; and before he died Henry was as poor as ever he had been. A still smaller share of the monks' property went to public purposes, such as furthering Henry's wise schemes for reorganising the royal navy and defending the coasts. There was great talk of utilising the abbey spoils to carry out a great scheme of church extension, but the plan that was actually effected was a very modest one. Six new bishoprics were set up, at Chester, Gloucester, Bristol, Peterborough, , and Oxford; and the great monastery churches at those towns were utilised as their cathedrals. Most of the old cathedrals served by monks, such as Canterbury, were similarly refounded as secular colleges with a dean and chapter, and became known as the cathedrals of the new foundation. The removal of the mitred abbots from the House of Lords gave the lay peers a majority for the first time, and made it still easier to carry measures for spoiling the Church through Parliament.

12. The suppression of the monasteries brought home to all that a great religious revolution was in progress. Side


by side with it went other changes that made this still more clear. The number of Church holidays was cut down. [26]  The shrines of the English saints were laid low, and the most famous of them all, Saint Thomas of Canterbury, was declared a traitor, and degraded from the honour of sanctity, because he had ventured to oppose a king. Many images and relics were destroyed, and great pains were taken to show by what gross frauds the keepers of some of these images had persuaded the simple people that they worked miracles. Though there were not many Protestants in England, there were plenty of enemies of the priests, who vied with the Protestants in the violence with which they made mock of the popular faith; and Henry, though still professing strict orthodoxy, now gave bishoprics to men whose opinions would have brought them to the stake a few years before. The best of these was Bilney's staunch old friend, Hugh Latimer, a Leicestershire yeoman's son, and the most earnest and honest preacher of righteousness of the age, who became bishop of Worcester. Cranmer, the archbishop, married a German lady, whom he kept so much in the background that it was believed that he carried her about hidden in a chest perforated with air-holes to let her breathe. Another sign of the times was in the permission given, in , to allow the circulation of an English version of the whole Bible, which Miles Coverdale had finished in the previous year, basing his translation of the New Testament on the proscribed rendering of Tyndale. Yet in the same year, , Tyndale was put to death by the orders of ., and at the instance of Henry himself. Other versions of the English Bible appeared, and in it was ordered that every parish church should possess a copy of the Great Bible, a translation issued by Cranmer, that every man might read it.

13. The king's attacks on the Church had greatly stimulated the prevalent spirit of unrest, and, despite his [27]  anxiety not to change doctrines, the clergy complained bitterly of the spread of heresy and ribald opinion. To show that he had no sympathy with such novelties, Henry issued, in , Ten Articles drawn up by Convocation, in which the ancient doctrines were emphasised. But even here the spirit of change made itself felt. Of the seven sacraments that Henry himself had defended against Luther, only three were explained-Baptism, the Eucharist,


and Penance. The other four were quietly ignored. The old faith was not so much simply upheld, as explained or apologised for. The same tendency towards moderate doctrinal reformation appeared in the little treatise called The Institution of a Christian Man, or the Bishops' Book, which was drawn up in by the bishops as a popular manual of faith and devotion.

14. Many Englishmen looked askance on Henry's changes, while a few lamented that the king still adhered to so much of what they had rejected. Yet to be a Papist was to incur the hideous [28]  punishment of a traitor, while open heresy led directly to the stake. The Sacramentaries, who denied the Real Presence, were in particular looked upon as outside all hope of mercy. Conspicuous among these was John Lambert, a Cambridge man, and an old friend of Bilney, who was condemned in by Cranmer for holding Zwinglian ideas about the Eucharist. Lambert, under the new Act, appealed to the king, who heard the case in person, and amused himself by showing off his theological knowledge for five consecutive hours. A few days later Lambert was burnt at Smithfield. The net for heretics was now widely spread. In the same year John Forest, an Observant friar, who had once been Queen Catharine's confessor, was burnt as a heretic for denying the royal supremacy, though the more usual course would have been to condemn him as a traitor. He was cruelly tortured by being slung over a fire, the faggots for which were got by chopping up a wonder-working Welsh image, which had been brought to London by the king's orders. As friends of old ways grew restless under the tyranny, stern examples were used to put down disaffection. Henry Courtenay, Marquis of Exeter, the king's first cousin and a grandson of ., was executed in on a charge of conspiracy, along with some of the kinsfolk of Cardinal Pole, who was working hard on the Continent to excite public opinion against Henry's ecclesiastical policy. In Pole's aged mother, Margaret, Countess of Salisbury, was also put to death, her real crime being that she was a daughter of George, Duke of Clarence, and the mother of the audacious cardinal.

15. With all his violence, . was honest in professing to uphold the ancient faith. He [29]  had a keen eye for the signs of the times, and the increasing strength of the opposition perhaps taught him


that there had been changes enough for the present. The new Parliament that met in 539, and abolished the Greater Monasteries, was utterly subservient to his wishes, surrendering in his favour the supreme privilege of Parliament to make fresh laws, by the strange statute that gave the king's proclamations the force of law, and thus virtually transferred to the king the legislative power. But the same Parliament also passed the Six Articles Statute, which declared with no uncertain voice that the English Church had no sympathy with the doctrines of the Reformation.

By this law six important points of mediaeval doctrine were strongly upheld. These affirmed (1) The Real Presence of the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist, and the Transubstantiation, or change of substance, of the bread and wine into Christ's natural Body and Blood. (2) The sufficiency of communion in one kind. (3) That the clergy might not marry. (4) That vows of chastity (taken by monks and nuns) were binding throughout life. (5) That private masses ought to be carried on. (6) That auricular (private) confession ought to be retained. The penalty of denying the first article was death by burning as a heretic. Those who spoke against the other five forfeited their property on the first offence, and for a second were to be hung as felons. The Protestants called the statute "The Whip with Six Strings."

The new law was no dead letter. Cranmer was forced to put away his wife, and two bishops, one of whom was Hugh Latimer of Worcester, resigned their sees. Many were imprisoned, and a few executed under the Act. With the Six Articles the reforming period of Henry's reign ends.

16. During the years of religious changes, the private life of the king had been marked by strange misfortunes. [31]  His marriage with Anne Boleyn did not long remain a happy one. He was bitterly disappointed that her only child was a daughter, and soon grew weary of her light and giddy ways. Early in Catharine of Aragon died, worn out before her time by her relentless persecutors. Within a few months her successor was suddenly arrested on charges of immorality so monstrous and loathsome as hardly to be believed, even in the corrupt atmosphere of Henry's court. However that be, she was condemned by a commission of peers, her own uncle Norfolk pronouncing the sentence of death against her. On 17th May the complaisant Cranmer pronounced her marriage with the king invalid, on grounds more trumpery than those that had brought her to the


block. The little Lady , like her elder sister Mary, was declared illegitimate. Two days later Queen Anne's head was cut off on Tower Green. [32]  The very next day Henry married his third wife, Jane Seymour, one of her ladies-in-waiting, the daughter of a simple Wiltshire knight, and described as of "middle stature, no great beauty, and pale complexion." Queen Jane died in , soon after having given birth to a son, the future Edward VI., the male heir for whom Henry had so long been yearning. She was the only one of Henry's wives for whom he wore mourning, but personally she had but little influence. Yet her brothers, Edward and Thomas Seymour, rose through the king's favour to great positions.

17. For three years Henry remained a widower, though several fresh matches were projected for him. At last Cromwell succeeded in persuading the king [33]  to accept his scheme of a politic marriage to connect England with the German Lutherans. Since the treachery of Francis I. had abruptly broken up the French alliance in , England had been utterly isolated from continental politics, and, as from time to time Charles and Francis became friendly, a common attack on England was seriously threatened. At that moment the Emperor and King of were on good terms, and Cromwell urged strongly that an alliance with Charles's enemies, the German Protestants, was the best way of neutralising the ill-will of the nephew of Catharine of Aragon. Among the more moderate princes of reforming tendencies, none were more influential than the Duke of Cleves, the lord of four rich duchies on the lower Rhine from which he might attack the Emperor's Netherlandish dominions. One of his sisters was the wife of the Elector of Saxony, Luther's chief patron : another, Anne, was still unmarried, and on her Cromwell now fixed his eyes. The famous painter Holbein sent a flattering picture of the lady, and Henry agreed to marry her and to make a league with the Lutherans. Despite the Six Articles, it seemed as if the iron resolution of Cromwell were likely to make England Lutheran after all.

In the first days of Henry was married to Anne of Cleves, but he found to his disgust that she was coarse, ugly, and illiterate, and disliked her strongly from the very first. Meanwhile the treaty with the Lutherans broke down, and Henry found that there was not even a politic


reason for wearing his chains quietly. In April Cromwell was apparently in high favour, and made . But his enemies, the men of the old learning, were active against him, and the failure of the marriage gave them [35]  the kings ear. The full force of Henry's wrath then fell on Cromwell, and he struck him down with the suddenness with which a lion pounces on his prey. In May Cromwell was charged with treason by his arch-enemy, Norfolk. Arrested at the council board, he was hurried to the Tower, and a Bill of Attainder was rapidly passed by the subservient Parliament. The charges of treason were ridiculous, for he had laboured for Henry only too well. But he had now served his master's purpose and was ruthlessly sacrificed by the tyrant whose purse he had filled. On 28th July he died on Tower Hill, protesting that he was no heretic. A few weeks before this, Convocation had declared the king's marriage with Anne of Cleves invalid, on the ground that the lady had previously been contracted to some one else. On the same day that Cromwell died, Henry married his fifth wife, Catharine Howard, a poor niece of the Duke of Norfolk, and daughter of the Lord Edmund Howard, who had fought at Flodden.

18. The reaction against the religious changes, which began with the passing of the Six Articles, was further [36]  confirmed by the fall of Cromwell. Henceforth the "men of the new learning" lost influence with the king, and needed all their shrewdness to keep their heads on their shoulders. Cranmer, Cromwell's ally, bent before the storm, sent his wife to , and allowed the "men of the old learning" to determine the king's policy. The chief of this party among the lay lords was Norfolk himself, whose simple faith was well expressed in his saying, "It was merry in England before the new learning came up." His chief allies were Stephen Gardiner-, Bishop of Winchester, and Edmund Bonner, Bishop of London. Gardiner was a learned canon lawyer and a shrewd but cold and hard statesman. Bonner was a vigorous and good natured but coarse and brutal man. Both had won their promotion by upholding the Royal Supremacy, but were resolutely set against the tendency towards Protestantism which Cromwell and Cranmer had latterly favoured.

The religious reaction was shown not so much by undoing what had been done already as by an unwillingness


to make further changes. The fires at Smithfield burnt more fiercely than ever. Among the first of the victims was Dr. Robert Barnes, Cromwell's agent in for conducting the negotiations with the German princes, who was attainted and burnt in for preaching Lutheran doctrines. Among the last was Anne Askew, a learned Lincolnshire lady, burnt in under the Six Articles Statute for denying transubstantiation.

In a curious law was passed that none but gentlemen should be allowed to read the Bibles that still lay open in every church, and Gardiner strove hard, though to no purpose, to get rid of the English Bibles altogether. In the same year the Bishops' Book was re-edited by the king himself, and made to agree much more closely with the traditional teaching of the Middle Ages. In its new form it was called the Necessary Erudition for any Christian Man, or the King's Book. These measures mark the extent of the reaction.

19. The spirit of reaction extended from home to foreign politics, where the old system of traditional alliances, that had prevailed during the king's youth, was restored by the men who had stayed the reformation of the Church. Even in the [37]  wild days of Cromwell's changes Henry had had a great deal of trouble from his nephew, James V. of , who, as he grew up, became jealous of his uncle's power, and between and waged war against him. After peace had been patched up, James continued to be a troublesome neighbour, though his plans for breaking down the influence of the all-powerful Scots nobles, with the help of clergy and people, diverted his mind for the time from English affairs. He easily won over the people to his side, and his popular manners and real friendship for the poor gave him the nickname of " King of the Commons." He could, however, only get the support of the clergy and their leader, David Beaton, Archbishop of St. Andrews and Cardinal, at the price of severely putting down the reformers, who were beginning to make headway in . Moreover Beaton, who was more of a statesman than an ecclesiastic, was a strong advocate of the French alliance. His influence prevailed in both directions. James definitely made himself the champion of the old faith against Henry, receiving in a consecrated cap and sword from the Pope. In he married King Francis' eldest daughter, and was henceforth heart and soul on the side of the French. Though his first wife soon died, he found another French consort in Mary of Guise, sister of Francis, Duke of Guise, a member of a younger branch of the ducal house of Lorraine, and an ardent Catholic, who won a great reputation as a soldier in the service of. and England were soon once more at war. In Henry retaliated for a severe border raid by [38]  sending Norfolk to waste the Lothians. The Scottish nobles, indignant at James's policy, refused to fight, but the


king resolved that, even without their help, he would answer invasion by invasion. November was already far advanced when his favourite, Oliver Sinclair, entered Cumberland with ten thousand men, while the king, sick in body and weak in mind, waited at Border castles to hear the result. But the nobles hated and despised the favourite, and fought with so little heart that the expedition was disgracefully defeated at Solway Moss. James took to his bed, overpowered by melancholy and misfortune. On 8th December Mary of Guise gave birth to a daughter, but the news brought him no consolation, but rather a foreboding of the extinction of the house of Stewart. " It will end as it began," lie murmured. " It came with a lass and will go with a lass." Six days afterwards he died, and his little daughter became Mary, Queen of Scots.

The Earl of Arran acted as regent for the baby queen, and renewed the negotiations with England. In it was agreed that Edward, , should be married to the Queen of Scots. Cardinal Beaton soon succeeded in breaking up the understanding with England. He won over the weak Arran to his side, and cruelly persecuted the reformers, who were the best friends of the English alliance. The old treaties with were renewed, and Henry, who was now at war with Trance, had to face an attack from after the ancient fashion. But the Scots were too much divided to be able to fight with success, and in Henry's brother-in-law, Edward Seymour, now Earl of Hertford, cruelly devastated south-eastern and burnt Edinburgh. 20. About the time of the ren

ewal of war between James V. and England, Francis of and the Emperor Charles, after several [40]  years of friendship, again went to war against each other. England and were on very bad terms already and Henry bitterly resented Francis' treachery since ,and was no less irritated at his close friendship with the Scots. Accordingly he very willingly accepted the advances of Charles, who, now that his aunt was dead and forgotten, was very anxious to have England on his side again. In things went back to the state in which they had been over twenty years before, and Henry, in alliance with Charles, was again waging war against the French. In a joint expedition was planned that was to march from Calais and the German frontier to Paris. The English fought well, and took Boulogne after a long siege. But a few days later they heard that Charles, despairing of reaching Paris, had suddenly concluded the treaty of Crepy with Francis, thus leaving England to fight French and Scots single-handed. In the French sought to avenge the loss of Boulogne by launching a great fleet and army against the south coast of England. The invasion proved an utter failure, and in the French were glad to make peace, leaving Henry in possession of Boulogne.

was included in the treaty. Since the destruction of Edinburgh in , she had experienced nothing but misfortune. In the Scots endured another ruthless foray led by Hertford, and in , Cardinal Beaton, the soul of the resistance to England, was murdered by the Scots reformers, with Henry's good-will. The murderers held the castle of St. Andrews, which thus became an open gate by which Henry could penetrate into . Under such circumstances the


Scots gladly made peace. But the violence and brutality of the method of Henry's Scottish policy had defeated the wise end which he had in view. It was useless to profess to wish to join the English'and Scottish crowns by marriage, when cruelly plundering and burning Scottish territory and conniving at the murder of the chief Scottish statesman. We shall see later that Henry had more success in carrying out a similar policy of union in and . (See chapter viii.)

21. Despite the successes won abroad, the last years of Henry's reign were filled with darkness and gloom. In Catharine Howard incurred the fate of [41]  Anne Boleyn, being executed for misconduct which was clearly brought home to her. The shameful death of a second royal niece of Norfolk did something to sap his power, especially as his harshness and bad temper made him no very popular leader of a party. In the king married his sixth wife, Catharine Parr, the lively young widow of Lord Latimer, who did not concern herself overmuch with politics, though she leant to the reforming side. She had the good luck to outlive her husband.

The wave of reaction was now gradually stayed, and signs were soon apparent that the reforming party was gradually winning back power. Even in the [42]  most reactionary days, a committee had been appointed to draw up an English form Divine Service, in which Cranmer at last found a more congenial work than politics, which gave full scope for his wonderful skill in turning the time-hallowed Latin prayers into pure and expressive English. In he issued an English Litany, translated from the early Latin Litanies, and along with it was published a Primer, or book of private devotions, also in English; while it was ordered that some parts of public worship, including the Creed, Commandments, and Lord's Prayer, should be recited in the vulgar tongue. A strong motive for inducing the greedy king to support fresh measures for the reformation of the Church was to be found in the need for money that resulted from the expensive wars of the end of the reign. Even a gross debasement of the coinage, though it upset the course of trade, could not restore the king's finances. An easier way of making both ends meet was a new attack on Church property. In an Act of Parliament was passed giving the king power to dissolve colleges, chantries, and free chapels at his pleasure. Even


before the Act many nobles had laid their hands on such establishments, and now the king seized the booty that otherwise might have escaped his clutches. Fresh scenes of spoliation were witnessed; and the chantries, the foundations where private masses for the repose of the founders' souls were said, were ruthlessly rooted out, though the unrepealed Six Articles still upheld private masses.

22. Two soldiers, who had won glory in the last wars, now directed the party of the new learning. These were the king's brother-in-law, Edward Seymour, since Earl of Hertford, and John Dudley, since Lord Lisle, the son of .'s extortioner, while behind them stood Cranmer, now drifting more and more towards the reforming cause, though not daring to express his opinions. Meanwhile the old king's health was breaking up. He [44]  could neither walk nor stand, and at last got so weak that to save him the fatigue of writing his name, a stamp had to be used to represent the royal signet. The contest between parties in the Council became the fiercer now that the personal influence of the king grew less, and the prize of victory was the future direction of his young son's government. The great fight was between the Howards and the Seymours. The Howards despised Hertford as an upstart and a heretic, and, thinking power was within their grasp, gave an opportunity to their watchful enemies. Norfolk's son, Henry Howard Earl of Surrey, the famous poet, challenged the king's anger by quartering the so-called arms of Edward the Confessor with his own, and was promptly accused of aiming at the Crown. He was quickly convicted of treason, and was executed on 27th January . Norfolk, who had shared his son's arrest, pleaded guilty, in the vain hope of obtaining mercy. But an Act of Attainder was [45]  passed against him on the day of Surrey's execution. Next day, 28th January, Henry himself died, before he could give the royal assent to the legislative condemnation of his last victim.

23. . was one of the strongest of English kings, and with all his unbridled self-will had done a great work for England, though he had done it in an utterly brutal, reckless, and violent way. Would his work last [46]  after his death? Anxious that the government should be still carried on in his own fashion, and wishful to provide for the continuance of his house, Henry had got from his subservient


Parliament permission to regulate the succession by will, and before his death had drawn up, somewhat irregularly, a scheme for the future settlement of the crown. In the first place, he provided for the succession of Edward, Prince of , the undoubted heir, and, in case Edward should become king before he grew up to manhood, Henry devised a council of regency, in which the two parties of the old and the new learning were so balanced that neither could crush the other. The real difficulty was what to do if Edward died without children, since both the Lady Mary and the Lady had been declared illegitimate and cut off from the succession. With sound common sense Henry broke through the legal tangle of his own making, and declared that both should succeed to the throne in order of birth. But there was still a further difficulty if and died, like Edward, without issue, since by strict law, the little Queen of Scots, the grand-daughter of Henry's elder sister, would become queen. Henry saw that English feeling would not yet tolerate a Scottish ruler, and, sweeping away the right of the elder line, he declared that the descendants of his younger sister Mary, Duchess of Suffolk, should immediately follow his own children, as inheritors of the throne. But the power of the strongest king dies with him, and Henry's will was never altogether carried out. Yet the succession of his three children in the order which he had appointed showed that the old despot interpreted English feeling in his death as in his life.


[1] The Reformation on the Continent.

[2] Beginnings of English Protestantism.

[3] [l529--1532.]

[4] The Reformation Parliament and its Work, 1529-1536

[5] The Universities consulted, 1530.

[6] The clergy accused of Pramunire,1530.

[7] Submission of the Clergy, 1532.

[8] [l532-1534.]

[9] Annates Act,1532.

[10] Act if Appeals and divorce ofCatharine by Cranmer, 1533.

[11] The abolition of papl power and the establishment of the Royal Supremacy, 1534.

[12] [1531--1534.]

[13] Resistance to the Supremacy,1534-1535.

[14] Execution of the Nun of Kent,1534.

[15] [1554--1535.]

[16] The Observantsand the London Carthusian.

[17] Execution of Fisher and More,1535

[18] Rise and character of Thomas Cromwell

[19] [1535--1536.]

[20] The SuppressionoftheSmallerMonasteries, 1536

[21] The Pilgrimageof Grace, 1536.

[22] [1536--1540.]

[23] The suppressionof the Greater Monasteries, 1537-1540

[24] The endowmentof the New Nobility.

[25] [1536--1539.]

[26] Other religious changes,1536-1539.

[27] Limits to the changes. The Ten Articles,1536, and the Bishops' Book, 1537.

[28] The victims ofHenry's policy,1536-1541.

[29] The Six Articlesstatute, 1539.

[30] [1539--1540.]

[31] The king's domestic trouble's,1533-1549

[32] Execution of Anne Boleyn Jane Seymour 1536.

[33] The Lutheran allianceand Anne of Ceves,1539-1540

[34] [1540--1542.]

[35] Fall of Cromwell,and Henry's marriage with Catharine Howard, 1540.

[36] The Reactionary Period,1540-1547.

[37] ForeignPolitic1542-1547

[38] Soway Moss1542

[39] [1542--1545.]

[40] War withFrance and Scotland, 1543-1546.

[41] Execution ofCatharineHoward,1542.

[42] Beginnings of a new wave of Reformation,1543-1547.

[43] [1546--1547.]

[44] The Struggle of the Seymours and Howards, 1546.

[45] Death of Henry VIII., 1547.

[46] Henry VIII.'s plan for the Succession.