THE SEVENTH BOOK
THE ACTS AND MONUMENTS,
BEGINNING WITH THE REIGN OF KING HENRY THE EIGHTH.
137. INTRODUCTION TO THE REIGN OF HENRY VIII.
Illustration -- Frontispiece - Portrait of Henry VIII.
Illustration -- Title Page – The Execution of Dudley Earl of Leicester
Illustration -- Henry VIII. Trampling the Pope Underfoot
S touching the civil state and administration of the commonwealth, and likewise of the state of the church, under the reign of King Henry the Seventh, how he entered first in possession of the crown; how the two houses of York and Lancaster were in him conjoined, through marriage with Elizabeth the eldest daughter to King Edward the Fourth, by the prudent counsel of John Morton, then bishop of Ely, after archbishop of Canterbury, and cardinal; how long the said king reigned, and what persecution was in his time for lack of search and knowledge of God's word, both in the diocese of Lincoln under Bishop Smith, (who was erecter of the house of Brazen-nose in Oxford,) as also in the diocese of Coventry, and other places more; and further, what punishment and alteration God commonly sendeth upon cities and realms public for neglecting the safety of his flock; sufficiently in the former book hath been already specified; wherein many things more amply might have been added, incident in the reign of this prince, which we have for brevity pretermitted. For he that studieth to comprehend in story all things, which the common course and use of life may offer to the writer, may sooner find matter to occupy himself, than to profit other. Otherwise I might have inferred mention of the seditious tumult of Perkin Warbeck, with his retinue, A.D. 1494. Also of Blackheath field by the blacksmith, A.D. 1496. I might also have recited the glorious commendation of George Lily in his Latin Chronicle, testifying of King Henry the Seventh, how he sent three solemn orators to Pope Julius the Second to yield his obedience to the see of Rome, A.D. 1506. And likewise how Pope Alexander the Ninth, Pius the Third, and Julius the Second, sent to the said King Henry the Seventh, three sundry famous ambassadors with three swords, and three caps of maintenance, electing and admitting him to be the chief defender of the faith. The commendation of which fact, how glorious it is in the eyes of George Lily and Fabian, that I leave to them. This I suppose, that when King Henry sent to Pope Julius three orators with obedience, if he had sent him three thousand arquebusiers to furnish his field against the French king fighting at Ravenna, be had pleased Pope Julius much better. If George Lily had been disposed to illustrate his story with notes, this had been more worthy the noting, how Louis the Twelfth, French king, calling his parliament, moved this question against Pope Julius; Whether a pope might invade any prince by warlike force, without cause; and whether the prince might withdraw his obedience from that pope, or not? And it was concluded in the same parliament with the king, against the pope. Also it was concluded the same time, (which was in the reign of this King Henry the Seventh,) that the Pragmatical Sanction should be received in full force and effect, through all the realm of France.
And forasmuch as we are fallen into the mention of George Lily, this in him is to be found not unworthy noting, how, after the burning of Thomas Norice, above mentioned, at the city of Norwich, the same year followed such a fire in Norwich, that the whole city, well near, was therewith consumed. Like as also after the burning of the aforesaid good father in Smithfield, the same year (which was 1500) we read in the chronicle of Fabian, a great plague to fall upon the city of London, to the great destruction of the inhabitants thereof. Where again is to be noted, (as is aforesaid,) that according to the state of the church, the disposition of the commonwealth commonly is guided, either to be with adversity afflicted, or else in prosperity to flourish. But after these notes of King Henry the Seventh, now to the story of King Henry the Eighth.
This King Henry the Seventh finishing his course in the year abovesaid, which was 1509, had by Elizabeth his wife abovenamed, four men children, and of women children as many. Of whom three only survived; to wit, Prince Henry, Lady Margaret, and Lady Mary. Of whom King Henry the Eighth after his father succeeded. Lady Margaret was married to James the Fourth, king of Scots. Lady Mary was affianced to Charles, king of Castile.
Not long before the death of King Henry, Prince Arthur, his eldest son, had espoused Lady Katharine, daughter to Ferdinand, being of the age of fifteen years, and she about the age of seventeen; and shortly after his marriage, within five months, departed at Ludlow, and was buried at Worcester. After whose decease the succession of the crown fell next to King Henry the Eighth, being of the age of eighteen years, entered his reign the year of our Lord 1509, and shortly after married with the aforesaid Katharine, his late brother Prince Arthur's wife, to the end that her dowry, being great, should not be transported out of the land. In the which his marriage, being more politic than Scripture-like, he was dispensed with by Pope Julius, at the request of Ferdinand her father. The reign of this king continued with great nobleness and fame the space of thirty-eight years. During whose time and reign, great alteration of things, as well to the civil state of the realm, as especially to the state ecclesiastical, and matters of the church appertaining. For by him was exiled and abolished out of the realm, the usurped power of the bishop of Rome, idolatry and superstition somewhat repressed, images and pilgrimages defaced, abbeys and monasteries pulled down, sects of religion rooted out, Scriptures reduced to the knowledge of the vulgar tongue, and the state of the church and religion redressed. Concerning all which things, in the process of these volumes here following, we will endeavour (Christ willing) particularly and in order to discourse; after that first we shall comprehend a few matters, which within the beginning of his reign are to he noted and collected. Where, leaving off to write of Empson and Dudley, who in the time of King Henry the Seventh, being great doers in executing the penal laws over the people at that time, and purchasing thereby more malice than lands, with that which they had gotten, were shortly after the entering of this king beheaded, the one a knight, the other an esquire; leaving also to intermeddle with his wars, triumphs, and other temporal affairs, we mean in these volumes principally to bestow our travail in declaration of matters concerning most chiefly the state of the church and of religion, as well in this Church of England, as also of the whole Church of Rome.