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England-Henry VIII. Quarrels with Rome

1037

way to London, he fell grievously ill, and tottered into the Abbey of Leicester to die. Well has Shakespeare shown him as saying:

"O Father Abbot,

An old man, broken with the storms of state,

Is come to lay his weary bones among ye:
Give him a little earth for charity!"

A new ministry was formed in October, 1529, in which, for the first time, the highest places were given to laymen. Sir Thomas More, of whom you have heard as greatly helping in the revival of learning, was made Chancellor, and the chief adviser of the King was Wolsey's old assistant, Cromwell. About this time, Dr. Thomas Cranmer, of Cambridge, advised the King to lay his divorce question before the universities of Europe. Henry eagerly did so, and by the use of bribes, a favorable response was drawn from the majority. The King was so heartened by this verdict that he charged the whole body of the English Church with being guilty of the same offence that Wolsey had committed. Quaking with fear, they bought the pardon of the irate ruler by the payment of a sum amounting to several million dollars. This was clinched by the declaration that the King was the supreme head on earth of the Church in England. Thus, as has been said, the Reformation entered that kingdom by a side door.

Henry married Anne Boleyn in 1532, after having lived with her as her husband for some five years. Cromwell succeeded Wolsey as the confidential adviser and friend of Henry, and Anne was crowned in Westminster Abbey. The indignant Pope ordered the King to put her away, under the threat of excommunication, and to receive back Catharine. Henry answered through his obsequious Parliament, which in 1534, passed the Act of Supremacy, which made the King absolutely the head of the Church. The denial of this was to constitute treason. The act of 1534 was the most momentous in the ecclesiastical history of England.

While many sympathized with Henry in thus cutting off England from allegiance to Rome, he committed crimes so horrible that they are without the shadow of palliation. He was given the right to declare any opinion heretical, and to punish it with death. Cromwell was his ready tool in this infamy, it being their rule not to allow any accused person to be heard in his own defence. The venerable Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, and the great and good Sir Thomas More could not conscientiously accept the decree that Henry was head of the Church, and, for heeding the voice of conscience, both were brought to the scaffold. These two men died the sublime deaths of Christians. More bade his orphaned daughter a tender farewell; then as he came to the steps leading

to the scaffold, he turned to the governor of the Tower and, with a twinkle of the eye, said: "If you will see me safe up, I will come down without help."

All Europe was horrified by these atrocious murders, and Henry's own ally, Francis I., remonstrated. But what good could that do the poor men who were beyond human help? The worst consequence of the crime was the alienation of the German Protestants, who, despite all Cromwell's efforts, held aloof from any alliance with this bloody Henry. From that time forward, it may be said the course of the English King was so monstrous that no man or woman sympathized with him. So long, however, as they feared and obeyed and submitted, what cared he?

The Pope hurled his excommunication against the tyrant, whom he had once dubbed "Defender of the Faith," and Henry retaliated by suppressing the monasteries. Many of these had sunken into debauchery and viciousness; but such crimes were the pet ones of Henry himself. He coveted the monks' wealth. The monasteries first abolished were the weakest and the worst. The disbanded monks increased the ranks of the disaffected, and the hordes of vagabonds that had subsisted upon monastic alms had now to be supported by the yeomen.

These drastic measures caused a fierce insurrection in the north, where the rebels became so powerful that terms had to be made with them and certain concessions granted, one of which was a general amnesty. The leaders, however, were executed, and the suppression of the rebellion was followed, in 1537, by the dissolution of the larger monasteries. In this same year an order in council placed the English translation of the Bible in every church that all might read it. But to prevent any one supposing he had the right of judging for himself in religious questions, an Act of Uniformity was passed. Certain articles of religion were drawn up, modified and framed into those known as the "Bloody Six Articles." In substance, the doctrines were those of the Roman Catholic Church, and, while making no pretension of forming a complete or systematic creed, they named the points on which there was the most diversity of opinion, and warned all of the fearful penalty of refusing to accept the decisions of the English Church. Thus, whoever denied the first article, that of transubstantiation, should be declared a heretic and burned without an opportunity of recanting. Whosoever spoke against the other five articles should, for the first offence, forfeit his property, and for the second should die the death of a felon.

This act caught the truculent Cromwell. He had used his influence as a member of the government to thwart the execution of the law by staying proceedings and granting pardons, but Henry had become his enemy and put him

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England Marriages of Henry VIII.

1039 to death. Cromwell's merciless persecutions of the monasteries led to his being called the "Hammer of the Monks."

The marriage experiences of Henry VIII. constitute one unbroken record of infamy. Anne Boleyn, who was the mother of Elizabeth, destined to become one of the very greatest queens England ever knew, was charged with unfaithfulness, and it is more than likely the charge was true. She was executed, and then he married Jane Seymour, who died a year after the birth of a son, who became Edward VI. In 1540, Cromwell arranged a marriage with Anne of Cleves, who was so homely in looks that the King could not abide her and quickly brought about a divorce. It was in that year that Cromwell was beheaded, and, though the accepted reason was that which has just been given, it was partly due to the resentment of the King for having cajoled him into the distasteful marriage. His next union was with Katharine Howard, who had been a wanton. She strove to keep the dreadful fact a secret, but Henry found it out, and, charging her with treason, she suffered the fate of Anne Boleyn. His sixth and last marriage was with Katharine Parr, who, too, would have gone to the block on the charge of heresy, but for her shrewdness, which knew how to flatter the King's conceit and to make him believe she thought him a profound theologian.

War broke out in 1542 with Scotland, where the King, James V., was a Catholic, and unwilling to form an alliance with his uncle Henry VIII. A Scottish army invaded England, but fled in a disgraceful panic before an insignificant force of English at Solway Moss. James was so mortified that he did not survive long, and left as his successor an infant daughter, Mary Stuart. The politic Henry negotiated a marriage between her and his son Edward, but the Scots repudiated the treaty, and Henry sent an army to enforce it. The troops ravaged the country and sacked Edinburgh. Exasperated with France because of her intrigues in Scotland, Henry made an alliance with Charles V., entered France in 1544, and captured Boulogne, but in the end agreed that it should be returned in eight years, upon the payment of a heavy ransom.

Henry, although not yet three-score, was old, diseased, unwieldy, and in continual pain, due to his excesses and debauchery. His condition became so loathsome that it was almost impossible for any of his friends to remain in the same room with him. He succumbed to his own foulness, and died on January 28, 1547, in the fifty-seventh year of his age. He was execrated equally by Catholic and Protestant, for he persecuted both with relentless fierceness. The former were put to death because they would not own him as head of the Church, while the Protestants were burnt at the stake because they refused to believe the Roman Catholic doctrines. It was Sir Walter Raleigh who said of Henry VIII. "If all the pictures and patterns of a merciless prince were lost

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