Imagini ale paginilor


England-The New Learning


edition of the Greek Testament, accompanied with a Latin translation. Until then, the Greek Testament existed only in written form, but its publication in print added in a marked degree to the study of the Scriptures, hewed the path for the Reformation, and prepared the way for a revised translation of the Bible much better than Wycliffe's. Under the impulse of his creditable sentiments, Henry VIII. founded Trinity College, Cambridge, and afterward extended Cardinal Wolsey's endowment of Christ Church College, Oxford. Alas! that the promise thus held out and the hopes thus awakened were to be so bitterly disappointed.

Within a few years after Henry's accession Luther began his great battle against the doctrines and power of the papacy. You will recollect that it was in 1517, he nailed on the door of the church of Wittenberg his protests which led to the movement against the Church of Rome. Henry VIII. was a firm Catholic, and some time later published a reply to one of Luther's works and sent a sumptuously bound copy to the Pope, who was so pleased that he conferred on him the title of "Defender of the Faith," which, rather strangely, has been retained by every English sovereign since that time.

France and Spain were becoming powerful nations, and Henry was ambitious to take a hand in the continental wars that he might gain some advantage therefrom. There was jealousy between the Emperor of Germany and the King of France, and each naturally tried to gain the favor of the English King. He coquetted with both by turns, actuated at all times by selfish motives. In alliance with the German Emperor in 1513, he defeated the French cavalry at Guinegate, who fled in such headlong haste that the conflict was called the "Battle of the Spurs." The Scots took advantage of the war and invaded England, but were defeated by the Earl of Surrey, September 9, 1513, at Flodden, where their King James IV., with some of the foremost of the nation, was left dead on the field, and Scotland itself lay as helpless as her dead leadPeace was made the following year, and, in June, 1520, a series of friendly meetings took place between the new French King, Francis I., and Henry, which were on such a scale of splendor that the meeting-place was called "The Field of the Cloth of Gold." The grand display, however, proved of no advantage to the French King, for Henry soon made an alliance with the Emperor Charles V., and in 1522 a new war was launched against France, which closed three years later with an agreement of the French sovereign to pay a large annual pension to the English King.


Such a depraved wretch as Henry VIII. grew to be, was certain to break before long with the Church, of which he was at first so valiant a defender. He had as his adviser one of the ablest and most unscrupulous of men in Thomas Wolsey, a priest who was able to reach the loftiest position, and to

make the King almost smother him under honors. He climbed upward as Archbishop of York, chancellor, cardinal, papal legate, and hoped, with seemingly good reason, to become Pope himself.

The best government of Henry's reign was when Wolsey was at the head of affairs, or from 1515 to 1529, though it cannot be denied that the policy of this great man was dishonest and tortuous. But as the years passed, the joyous temperament of the King gave place to gloom and dissatisfaction. He had not only "tasted every cup of pleasure," but had drained the cup to the dregs. He was sated and nauseated, and, instead of seeking happiness, where it can alone be found, in humbly following the will of God and obeying the Golden Rule, he reached out for new and guilty indulgences. When he was only twelve years old, he had been betrothed to Catharine of Aragon, the widow of his brother Arthur. He tired of her, and then, under the pretence that he believed the marriage unlawful, he determined to be divorced, in order that he might marry Anne Boleyn, a lady of his court, for whom he had formed a fancy.

Cardinal Wolsey favored this divorce because he hated Spain, and saw in it the means of detaching England from its alliance with that country, while the hope of making a new union with France, through the marriage of the King with a princess of that country, was the scheme that appealed to this conscienceless minister. He therefore, in 1527, did his utmost to persuade the Pope to consent to the divorce.

Pope Clement VII. was in a dilemma. Francis I. of France supported England, while, on the other hand, Charles V. of Spain threatened. The Pope temporized, and, to gain time, issued a commission to Cardinal Campeggio and Wolsey to try the question. Meanwhile, the impatient King discarded Catharine, who was six years older than he, and lived with Anne Boleyn, proclaiming his intention of marrying her so soon as he could secure a divorce. This turn of affairs knocked Wolsey's schemes awry, and, losing all wish to get the divorce, he favored procrastination as much as did Pope Clement, who finally revoked the commission, and transferred the question to Rome.

This step virtually ended the papal power in England. The King and Anne Boleyn were exasperated against Wolsey, because they were sure he had tricked them, and they resolved to punish him. Under a law of Richard II. no representative of the Pope had any legal authority in England. It mattered not that the King had consented to Wolsey's holding the office of legate. Since he had dared to thwart the will of the King, he should now pay the penalty. Feeling his helplessness, he meekly folded his hands and gave up everything-riches, power, and rank. He was allowed to go into retirement, but a year later was arrested on the charge of treason. While painfully making his

[graphic][merged small]
[ocr errors]
« ÎnapoiContinuă »