Foxe's Book of Martyrs -- 169. THOMAS WOLSEY (contd.)

169. THOMAS WOLSEY (contd.)

When the cardinal here in England heard how his father of Rome was taken prisoner, he began to stir coals, and hearing of his captivity, he laboured with the king all that he might, to stir him up to fight with the said pope against the emperor, and to be a defender of the church; which if he would do, the cardinal persuaded him that he should receive great reward at God's hand. To whom the king answered again, and said in this manner: "My lord! I more lament this evil chance, than my tongue can tell; but where you say I am the defender of the faith, I assure you that this war between the emperor and the pope, is not for the faith, but for temporal possessions and dominions. And now, since Pope Clement is taken by men of war, what should I do? My person nor my people cannot rescue him; but if my treasure may help him, take that which seemeth to you most convenient."

Thus the cardinal, when he could -not obtain at the king's hands what he would, in stirring him up to mortal war, made out of the king's treasure twelve-score thousand pounds, which he carried over the sea with him. After this, the cardinal sent his commission as legate, to all the bishops, commanding fastings and solemn processions to be had, wherein they did sing the Litany after this sort, Sancta Maria! ora pro Clemente papa: Sancte Petre, ora pro Clemente papa; and so forth all the Litany.

This cardinal, passing the seas with the aforesaid sums of money, departed out of Calais, accompanied with Cuthbert Tonstal, bishop of London, the lord Sandes, the king's chamberlain, the earl of Derby, Sir Henry Guildford, and Sir Thomas More, with many other knights and squires, to the number of twelve hundred horse; having in his carriage fourscore waggons, and threescore mules and sumpter horses.

It were long to discourse in this place the manifold abuses and treasons which he practised when he came to the French court at Amiens, converting the great sums of money, which before you heard he had obtained of the king for the relief and ransom of Pope Clement, (which at that time was prisoner in the emperor's army,) and bestowing the same in the hiring of soldiers, and furnishing out the French king's army; appointing also certain English captains, in the king of England's name, to go against the emperor, to rescue the pope; all which army was paid with the king of England's money.

Besides that, he privily, by his letters, caused Clarence king at arms, to join with the French herald, and openly to defy the emperor; whereby there began great displeasure to arise between the emperor and the king, but that the emperor, of his politic nature, would take no occasion of displeasure against the king of England.

Now again he uttered another of his practices; for, upon the said defiance, the cardinal, surmising and whispering in the king's ear that the emperor had evil treated and imprisoned the king's ambassadors in Spain, caused Hugo de Mendoza, the emperor's ambassador in England, to be attached, and put in safe keeping, and his house with all his goods to be seized; which so remained, until that manifest letters came of the gentle entreaty of the king's ambassadors in Spain; and then was again set at liberty. When the ambassador complained hereof to the cardinal, he laid all the fault upon Clarence; saying also, that Clarence had defied the emperor without the king's knowledge, at the request of the herald of France: wherefore at his return he should lose his head at Calais. Whereof Clarence, being advertised by the captain of Bayonne, in his return took shipping at Boulogne, and so privily came into England; and by means of certain of his friends of the king's privy-chamber, he was brought into the king's presence, before the cardinal knew of it; where he showed unto the king the cardinal's letters of commission, and declared the whole order and circumstance of their gentle entreaty. When the king heard the whole circumstance thereof, and had a while mused thereupon, he said, "O Lord Jesus! he that I trusted most, told me all these things contrary. Well, Clarence! I will no more be so light of credence hereafter; for now I see well, that I have been made believe the thing that was never done:" and from that time forward the king never put any more confidence or trust in the cardinal.

The cause why the cardinal should hear the emperor all this malice and grudge, after some writers, it appeareth to be this: At what time as Pope Clement was taken prisoner, (as is before said,) the cardinal wrote unto the emperor, that he should make him pope. But when he had received an answer that pleased him not, he waxed furious mad, and sought all means to displease the emperor, writing very sharply unto him many menacing letters, that if he would not make him pope, he would make such a ruffling betwixt Christian princes, as was not this hundred years before, to make the emperor repent; yea, though it should cost the whole realm of England.

Whereunto the emperor made answer in a little book, imprinted both in Spanish and Dutch, answering unto many menacings of the cardinal, and divers of his articles; but especially to that his ruffling threat, wherein he menaced him, that if he would not make him pope, he would set such a ruffling betwixt Christian princes as was not this hundred years, though it should cost the whole realm of England: whereunto the emperor, answering again, biddeth him look well about him, lest through his doings and attempts he might bring the matter in that case, that it should cost him the realm of England indeed.

You have heard before, how that when Pope Clement was prisoner in the emperor's army, the cardinal required the king, because he did bear the title of Defender of the Faith, that be would rescue the pope; also what the king's answer was thereunto, and what sums of money he had obtained of the king. Now, because you shall not also be ignorant, by what means, and upon what occasion, this title of Defender of the Faith was given unto the king, we think it good somewhat to say in this place. When Martin Luther had uttered the abomination of the pope and his clergy, and divers books were come into England, our cardinal here, thinking to find a remedy for that, sent immediately unto Rome for this title of Defender of the Faith: which afterwards the vicar of Croydon preached, that the king's Grace would not lose it for all London and twenty miles about it. Neither is it marvel, for it cost more than London and forty miles about it, considering the great sums which you have heard the cardinal obtained of the king for the pope's relief, besides the effusion of much innocent blood.

When this glorious title was come from Rome, the cardinal brought it unto the king's Grace at Greenwich; and though that the king had it already, and had read it, yet against the morning were all the lords and gentlemen that could in so short space be gathered, sent for, to come and receive it with honour. In the morning the cardinal gat him through the backside, unto the Friars Observant, and part of the gentlemen went round about, and welcomed him from Rome; part met him half way, and some at the court gate. The king himself met him in the hall, and brought him up into a great chamber, where was a seat prepared on high for the king and the cardinal to sit on, while the bull was read; which pomp all men of wisdom and understanding laughed to scorn.

This done, the king went to his chapel to hear mass, accompanied by many nobles of his realm, and ambassadors of sundry princes. The cardinal being revested to sing mass, the earl of Essex brought the bason of water, the duke of Suffolk gave the assay, and the duke of Norfolk held the towel; andso he proceeded to mass. When mass was done, the bull was again published, the trumpets blew, the shawms and sackbuts played in honour of the king's new style. Then the king went to dinner, in the midst whereof the king of heralds and his company began the largess, crying, "Henricus, Dei Gratia, Rex Angliæ et Franciæ Defensor Fidei, et Dominus Hiberniæ." Thus were all things ended with great solemnity.

Not much unlike to this was the receiving of the cardinal's hat; which when a ruffian had brought unto him to Westminster under his cloak, he clothed the messenger in rich array, and sent him back again to Dover; appointing the bishop of Canterbury to meet him, and then another company of the lords and gentlemen, I wot not how often before it came to Westminster; where it was set upon a cupboard, and tapers round about it, so that the greatest duke in the land must make courtesy thereunto, and to his empty seat, he being away.

And forasmuch as we are in hand with the acts and doings of Cardinal Wolsey, among many other things which of purpose we overpass, this is not to be exempted out of memory, touching his uncourteous, or rather churlish, handling of Richard Pacy, dean of St. Paul's. This Pacy, being the king's secretary for the Latin tongue, was of such ripeness of wit, of learning, and eloquence, also in foreign languages so expert, that for the one he was thought most meet to succeed after John Colet, in the deanery of Paul's; beside which he was also preferred to the deanery of Exeter. For the other he was sent in the king's affairs ambassador to Venice; which function there he so discharged, that it is hard to say whether he procured more commendation or admiration among the Venetians, both for dexterity of his wit, and especially for the singular promptness in the Italian tongue, wherein he seemed nothing inferior, neither to Peter Vanne here in England, the king's secretary for the Italian tongue, nor yet to any other, which were the best in that tongue in all Venice. For opinion and fame of learning, he was so notoriously accepted, not only here in England with Linacre, Grocine, More, and other, but also known and reported abroad in such sort, that in all the great heap of Erasmus's Epistles, he wrote almost to none so many, as he wrote to this Richard Pacy.

As the said Pacy was resident ambassador at Venice, the king, having war the same time with Francis the French king (as is afore rehearsed) through the conducting of the duke of Bourbon, whom he then charged with his expenses, sent commandment to Pacy to give attendance to the duke of Bourbon, concerning the receipt of that money, and other necessities and exploits to that expedition appertaining. In the mean while, as the French king with his army, and the duke of Bourbon, were approaching in the battle together, near about the city of Pavia, it so happened (some think through the crafty packing of the cardinal) that the king's money was not so ready as it was looked for: by reason whereof the duke of Bourbon, perceiving his soldiers about to shrink from him to the French king for lack of payment, called to him the ambassador, complaining unto him, how the king of England had deceived him, and broken promise with him, to his great dishonour and utter undoing, &c. Pacy then, being sure of the king's will, and suspecting the crafty fetch of the cardinal, desired the duke not to take discomfort, nor any diffidence of the king's assured promise, excusing the delay of the money as well as he could, by interception, or other causes by the way of incident, rather than for any lack of fidelity on the king's behalf: adding, moreover, that if it would please him happily to proceed, as he had courageously begun, he should not stay for the king's money. So sure he was of the king's mind therein, that he would supply the lack of that payment upon his own credit, among his friends at Venice: and so did; whereupon the soldiers being sufficiently satisfied with payment of their wages, proceeded forth with the duke unto the battle. In the which battle the aforesaid French king, the same time, before the city of Pavia, was taken prisoner, as is before declared. Which being eftsoons known to the king of England, Pacy had both condign thanks for his faithful service, and also his money repaid again with the uttermost, as he well deserved. But as the laud, and the renowned praise, of men for their worthy prowesses, commonly in this world never go unaccompanied with some privy canker of envy and disdain following after, so the singular industry of Pacy, as it won much commendation with many, so it could not avoid the secret sting of some serpents. For the conceived hatred of this cardinal so kindled against him, that he never ceased, till first he brought him out of the king's favour, and at last also out of his perfect wits.

The occasion how he fell beside himself was this, for that the cardinal, after the death of Pope Adrian, hoping no less but that he should have been advanced unto the papacy, and yet missing thereof, he supposed with himself the fault chiefly to rest in Pacy's negligence, by whose great wit and learning, and earnest means and suit, he thought easily he might have achieved and compassed the triple crown. Wherefore, he, seeing it otherwise come to pass, and inflamed against Pacy for the same, wrought such ways and means, that by the space almost of two years, Pacy, continuing at Venice, had neither writing from the king, nor his council, what he should do; nor yet any manner of allowance for his diet, although he wrote and sent letters for the same to England very often: for the cardinal had altogether incensed the king against him. Whereupon the said Pacy took such an inward thought and conceit, that his wits began to fail him; he being notwithstanding in such favour among the senators of Venice, that neither for gold nor silver he could there have lacked. By some it is reported that the Venetian legate here in England, coming to the cardinal, required if he would command any thing to the English ambassador at Venice? To whom he should answer again in high words, saying, Paceus decepit regem. Which words coming to Pacy's ears, so deeply pierced his stomach, that he fell quite beside himself. I heard it moreover of another thus testified, who had a brother at the same time dwelling with Pacy: that the cardinal, about the returning of Pacy from Venice, sent him a letter so powdered, (with what spices I cannot tell,) that at the reading thereof Pacy, then being in the fields, fell suddenly in such a mighty running for the space of two miles, that his servants had much ado to take him, and bring him home.

This piteous case of Pacy was not a little lamented by the whole senate and chief learned men in Venice; insomuch that the king was not only certified thereof by Thomas Lupset, (who then was chief man about Pacy, and his secretary for that embassage,) but also the said senate of Venice wrote in such sharp and vehement wise unto their ambassador, then being in England, that he should signify unto the king, touching Pacy's case, that thereby the king, knowing the truth, and the whole circumstance of the matter, was not a little sorrowful therefore. Whereupon Pacy was forthwith sent for home, and when he came to England, he was commanded by the king to be specially well tended, and to lack no keeping: insomuch that within a small process of time he was pretty well come again to his wits, and began to study the Hebrew tongue with Wakefield; so that (the cardinal then being absent) such ways were found by his friends, that he was brought to the king, lying then at Richmond, where he and the king secretly communed together by the space of two hours and more, not without great rejoicing to the king, as it was perceived, to see him so well amended, and returned to himself again; giving likewise strait charge and commandment, that he should lack nothing. The cardinal being then not present, when he heard of this, fearing lest he had disclosed somewhat to the king, which he would not have known, and doubting that the king should cast his favour again unto Pacy, began within a while after to quarrel, and pick matters, and to lay certain things to Pacy's charge; whereas he rather should have cleared himself of those things which Pacy laid unto him before the king, which was contrary to all good form and order of justice. For where the king had willed the cardinal to purge himself of those things which Pacy had rightly charged him withal, he, sitting in judgment, with the duke of Norfolk, and other states of the realm, not as a defendant, but as a judge in his own cause, so bare out himself and weighed down Pacy, that Pacy was commanded to the Tower of London as prisoner, where he continued by the space of two years, or thereabouts, and afterwards, by the king's commandment, was discharged. But he, being there prisoner, was therewith so deadly wounded and stricken, that he fell worse from his wits than ever he was before, being in such a frenzy or lunacy, that to his dying day he never came perfectly to himself again. Notwithstanding this in him was no perpetual frenzy, but came by fits; and when the fit was past, he could look on his book, and reason and talk handsomely, but that now and then he showed his disease. And thus much between the cardinal and Pacy.

By this story of Pacy, and also by other passages above mentioned, ye may partly conceive how greedy this cardinal was to be made pope. Touching which matter here by the way something to treat, first is to be understood, that forasmuch as Pacy either would not, or could not, serve the cardinal's purpose herein, he thought to accomplish his desire by other means, and namely by Stephen Gardiner, who was then shortly after sent ambassador to Rome by the king and the cardinal, in the time of Pope Clement the Seventh; and that for two special causes, one was about the divorcement, the other for promoting the cardinal to be pope. As touching the divorcement we will speak (the Lord willing) hereafter. In the mean time, as concerning the advancement of the cardinal, great labour was made, as in letters may appear, sent from the cardinal to the said Stephen Gardiner; in which letters he did solicit the said Gardiner, by all means, to pursue the suit, willing him to stick for no cost, so far as six or seven thousand pounds would stretch; for more, he said, he would not give for the triple crown. Mark here, Christian reader! what a holy catholic church this is, which rather may be called a bourse, or mart of merchants, than any true form of a church.

Many both of his, and also the king's letters, I could here insert; but, for growing of the volume, I let them pass. One, for example's sake, sent by the cardinal to Gardiner, shall at this time suffice concerning this matter. The copy of the cardinal's ambitious letter here in form followeth:

"Master Stephen, albeit ye shall be sufficiently, with your colleagues, by such instructions as be given to Monsieur Vincent, informed of the king's mind and mine, concerning my advancement unto the dignity papal, not doubting but that for the singular devotion which you bear towards the king and his affairs, both general and particular, and perfect love which ye have towards me, ye will omit nothing that may be excogitated to serve and conduce to that purpose; yet I thought convenient, for the more fervent expression of my mind in that behalf, to write unto you (as to the person whom I do most entirely trust, and by whom this thing shall be most pithily set forth) these few words following of mine own hand.

"I doubt not but ye do profoundly consider, as well the state wherein the church and all Christendom doth stand now presently, as also the state of this realm, and of the king's secret matter; which if it should be brought to pass by any other means than by the authority of the church, I account this prince and realm utterly undone. Wherefore it is expedient to have such a one to be pope and common father of all princes, as may, can, and will, give remedy to the premises. And albeit I account myself much unable, and that it shall be now incommodious in this mine old age to be the said common father; yet when all things be well pondered, &c., the qualities of all the cardinals well considered, there shall be none found that can and will set remedy in the aforesaid things, but only the cardinal of York, whose good will and zeal is not to you of all men unknown. And were it not for the re-integration of the state of the church and see apostolic to the pristine dignity, and for the conducing of peace amongst Christian princes, and especially to relieve this prince and realm from the calamities that the same be now in, all the riches or honour of the world should not cause me to accept the said dignity, although the same with all commodities were offered unto me.

"Nevertheless, conforming myself to the necessity of the time, and the will and pleasure of these two princes, I am content to appone all my wit and study, and to set forth all means and ways, for the attaining of the said dignity: for the achieving and attaining whereof, forasmuch as thereupon dependeth the health and wealth, not only of these two princes and their realms, but of all Christendom, nothing is to be omitted that may conduce to the said end and purpose. Wherefore, Master Stephen, since you be so plainly advertised of my mind and intent, I shall pray you to exert your utmost energies to bring the matter to an issue, sparing neither expense, nor promises, nor toils. Suit your conduct to men's minds and tempers, as they may be inclined, whether in public or private affairs. You and your colleagues have hereby unlimited power, and whatever you do, be assured it will gratify the king and me. We intrust all, in one word, to your faith and genius. I have only to pray that God may prosper all your exertions. Farewell.


"Ex ædibus meis Westmonast. vii. Febr.
Tuæ salutis et amplitudinis cupidissimus,
T. Ebor."

In the so great labours, pursuits, and travails of the king and of the cardinal, thou hast for thine instruction, loving reader, to note and learn, how man purposeth one thing, and how God disposeth another. For the king's purpose was to have the cardinal and legate of York placed in the see papal, thinking by that means, if this cardinal had been pope, the cause of his divorce more easily might be compassed, which, otherwise, he thought impossible to contrive. But God omnipotent, who only is director of all affairs, brought it otherwise to pass, not as the king devised, but after his own wisdom; so that both the divorcement was concluded, and yet neither Cardinal Wolsey made pope, nor yet Pope Clement was dead. Yea, so he ruled the matter, that notwithstanding Pope Clement was alive, yet both the divorce proceeded, and also the pope's authority was thereby utterly extinct and abolished out of this realm of England, to the singular admiration of God's wondrous works, and perpetual praise to his merciful goodness: of which divorcement, and suppressing of the pope's authority, we have likewise to make declaration; but first, as we have begun with the cardinal of York, so we will make an end of him. That done, we will (God willing) address ourselves to other matters of more importance.

As the ambassadors were thus travailing in Rome to promote the cardinal to be pope, although the pope was not yet dead, in the mean time the cardinal played the popish persecutor here at home. For first, he sitting in his pontificalibus in the cathedral church of Paul's, under his cloth of estate of rich cloth of gold, caused Friar Barnes, an Augustin Friar, to bear a faggot, for certain points which he called heresy. Also he caused at the same time two merchants of the Stilyard likewise to bear faggots for eating flesh on a Friday; at the which time the bishop of Rochester made a sermon in reproof of Martin Luther, who had before written against the power of the bishop of Rome. This bishop in his sermon spake so much of the honour of the pope and his cardinals, and of their dignity and pre-eminence, that he forgot to speak of the gospel which he took in hand to declare; which was about A.D. 1526.

After this, the said cardinal likewise, A.D. 1528, and in the month of November, sitting at Westminster as legate, called before him the whole clergy, and there promised that all abusions of the church should be amended; but there nothing else was done, save only he caused to be abjured, Arthur Bilney, Geffery Lome, and Garret, for speaking against the pope's authority, and his pompous pride: of whom more shall be said (the Lord assisting us) hereafter. And this was A.D. 1528.

The year next following, which was A.D. 1529, began the question of the king's marriage to be revived; whereupon Cardinal Campeius was sent again into England from Rome, for the hearing and debating of the matter; who then, with Cardinal Wolsey, consulting with the king, although at first he seemed with his fellow cardinal to incline unto the king's disposition, yet afterwards, perceiving the sequel of the case, whether it tended so far as peradventure might be the occasion of a blot to the court of Rome, and might shake perhaps the chair of the pope's omnipotent authority, as well in other cases like, if this one case were thoroughly decided by learning and truth of God's word: he therefore, slipping his neck out of the collar, craftily shifted himself out of the realm before the day came appointed for determination, leaving his subtle fellow behind him, to weigh with the king in the mean time, while the matter might be brought up to the court of Rome. The king, thus seeing himself disappointed, foiled with false promises, and craftily doubled withal by the cardinals, and at last, after so many delays and long expectation, nothing to be concluded, was sore aggrieved in his mind with them, but especially with Cardinal Wolsey, whom he had before so highly exalted, and promoted to so many great dignities, as to the archbishopric of York, the bishopric of Winchester, of Durham, the abbey of St. Alban's; besides the chancellorship of England, and many other high rooms and preferments in the realm; which caused him clearly to cast him out of his favour, so that after that time he never came more to the king's presence.

Then followed first a council of the nobles, called the first of October; during the which council all the lords and other the king's council, agreeing together, resorted to Windsor to the king, and there informed the king, that all things which he had done almost, by his power legantine, were in the case of præmunire, and provision; and that the cardinal had forfeited all his lands, tenements, goods, and chattels to the king: wherefore the king, willing to order him according to the order of his laws, caused his attorney, Christopher Hales, to sue out a writ of præmunire against him, in the which he licensed him to make an attorney.

And further, the seventeenth of November, he sent the two dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk to his place at Westminster, to fetch away the great seal of England; which he was loth to deliver, if there had been any remedy; but in conclusion, he delivered it to the two dukes, which delivered the same to Dr. Taylor, master of the rolls, to carry it to the king; which he so did the next day.

Illustration -- Cardinal Wolsey and the Dukes

Besides this, the king sent Sir William Fitzwilliams, knight of the garter, and treasurer of his house, and Dr. Stephen Gardiner, newly made secretary, to see that no goods should be embezzled out of his house; and further ordained, that the cardinal should remove to Esher beside Kingston, there to tarry the king's pleasure, and to have all things delivered to him which were necessary for him, but not after his old pompous and superfluous fashion; for all his goods were seized to the king's use. When the seal was thus taken from the cardinal, the dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk, with many earls, bishops, and barons, came unto the Star Chamber, the nineteenth day of October; where the duke of Norfolk declared, that the king's Highness, for diverse and sundry offences, had taken from him his great seal, and deposed him from all offices; and lest men might complain for lack of justice, he had appointed him and the duke of Suffolk, with the assent of the other lords, to sit in the Star Chamber, to hear and determine causes indifferently; and that of all things the king's pleasure and commandment was, that they should keep their hands close from any rewards-taking, or maintenance: and so that week they sat in the Star Chamber, and determined causes.

A few days after, in the same month, the cardinal removed out of his house called York Place, with one Cross, say[ing] that he would he had never borne more; meaning that by his cross which he bare as legate, which degree-taking was his confusion, as you see openly; and so he took his barge, and went to Putney by water, and there took his horse and rode to Esher, where he remained till Lent after.

During which time, he, being called on for an answer in the King's Bench to the præmunire, for giving benefices by prevention, in disturbance of men's inheritance, and divers other open causes in the præmunire, according to the king's licence, constituted John Scute and Edmond Jenny, apprentices of the law, his attorneys, which, by his own warrant, signed with his hand, confessed all things concerning the said suit; for they were too open to be cloaked or hidden: and so judgment was given, that he should forfeit all his lands, tenements, goods, and chattels, and should be out of the king's protection: but for all that, the king sent him a sufficient protection, and of his gentleness left to him the bishoprics of York and Winchester, and gave to him plate and stuff convenient for his degree; and the bishopric of Durham he gave to Dr. Tonstal, bishop of London, and the abbey of St. Alban's he gave to the prior of Norwich: and to London he promoted Dr. John Stokesley, then ambassador to the universities for the marriage, as you heard before. For all this kindness showed to the cardinal, yet still he maligned against the king, as you shall hereafter perceive: but first we will proceed in the course of these matters, as they passed in order.

The next year following, which was A.D. 1530, in the month of November, was summoned a general parliament, to be holden at Westminster. In the which year, about the twenty-third day of October, the king came to his manor of Greenwich, and there much consulted with his council, for a meet man to be his chancellor, so that in no wise he were a man of the spiritualty; and so, after long debate, the king resolved upon Sir Thomas More, knight, chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster, a man well learned in the tongues, and also in the common law; whose wit was fine, and full of imaginations; by reason whereof he was a little too much given to mocking, more than became the person of Master More. And then on the Sunday, the twenty-fourth day of the same month, the king made him his chancellor, and delivered him the great seal; which lord chancellor, the next morrow after, was led into the chancery by the two dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk, and there sworn, and then the mace was borne before him.

Of this fall of the cardinal, and of the placing of Sir Thomas More in the chancellorship, Erasmus, in an epistle to John Vergera, thus writeth:

"The cardinal of York hath so offended the king's mind, that he, being turned out of his goods and all his dignities, is committed, not to prison, but to a certain lordship of his, with thirty servants or keepers to give attendance upon him. Many and sundry complaints are commenced against him, so that he is not like to escape with his life. Such is the dalliance of fortune, of a schoolmaster to be made a king: for so he reigned, more like a king than the king himself. He was dreaded of all men; he was loved but of a few, almost of none. A little before he was apprehended, he caused Richard Pacy to be cast into the Tower: also he threatened my lord archbishop of Canterbury. Solomon saith, that before the fall of man his spirit shall be elevated. The archbishop of Canterbury was called or restored to be chosen lord chancellor, which is the chiefest office in all that realm; but he excused himself by his age, as being not able to wield such a function: wherefore the said office was bestowed upon Thomas More, no less to the rejoicing of many, than the other was displaced from it. These news my servant brought me out of England," &c.

You heard before how a council of the nobles was appointed by the king in the month of October, to assemble in the Star Chamber, about the cardinal's matter; and also how a parliament was summoned to begin in the month of November, in the year following, A.D. 1530. At the beginning of which parliament, after that Master More, the new chancellor, had finished his oration, the commons were commanded to choose them a speaker, who was Thomas Audley, esquire, and attorney of the duchy of Lancaster. Thus the parliament, being begun the sixth day of the aforesaid month of November, at Westminster, where the king with all the lords were set in the parliament chamber, the commons, after they had presented their speaker, assembling in the nether house, began to commune of their griefs, wherewith the spiritualty had before-time grievously oppressed them, contrary both to all right, and to the law of the realm; and especially were sore moved with these six great causes:


Grievances objected against the clergy of England.

I. The first, for the excessive fines which the ordinaries took for probates of testaments, insomuch that Sir Henry Guildford, knight of the garter, and comptroller of the king's house, declared in the open parliament, of his fidelity, that he and others being executors to Sir William Compton, knight, paid for the probate of his will, to the cardinal and the archbishop of Canterbury, a thousand marks sterling. After this declaration, were showed so many extortions done by ordinaries for probates of wills, that it were too much to rehearse.

II. The second cause was, the great polling and extreme exaction which the spiritual men used, in taking of corpses, presents, or mortuaries: for the children of the dead should all die for hunger and go a-begging, rather than they would of charity give to them the silly cow which the dead man owed, if he had but only one: such was the charity of them!

III. The third cause was, that priests, being surveyors, stewards, and officers, to bishops, abbots, and other spiritual heads, had and occupied farms, granges, and grazing, in every country, so that the poor husbandmen could have nothing but of them; and yet, for that, they should pay dearly.

IV. The fourth cause was, that the abbots, priors, and spiritual men, kept tan-houses, and bought and sold wool, cloth, and all manner of merchandise, as other temporal merchants did.

V. The fifth cause was, because the spiritual persons, promoted to great benefices, and having their livings of their flock, were lying in the courts of lords' houses, and took all of their parishioners, and nothing spent on them at all: so that for lack of residence, both the poor of the parish lacked refreshing, and universally all the parishioners lacked preaching and true instructions of God's word, to the great peril of their souls.

VI. The sixth cause was, because one priest, being little learned, had ten or twelve benefices, and was resident on none, and many well-learned scholars in the university, who were able to preach and teach, had neither benefice nor exhibition.

These things before this time might in no wise be touched, nor yet talked of by any man, except he would be made a heretic, or lose all that he had: for the bishops were chancellors, and had all the rule about the king, so that no man durst once presume to attempt any thing contrary to their profit or commodity.

But now, when God had illuminated the eyes of the king, and the time so served that men more boldly durst express with voice, such grudges as they had long conceived in their heart against the clergy, the burgesses of the parliament appointed certain of the commons' house, men learned in the law, to draw one bill of the probates of testaments; another for mortuaries; and the third for non-residence, pluralities, and taking farms by spiritual men.

And first, to the bill of mortuaries being drawn, and being also passed the commons' house, and sent up to the higher, the spiritual lords showed a fair face, saying, that assuredly priests and curates took more than they should, and therefore it were well done to take some reasonable order. Thus they spake, because it touched them but little.

After this, within two days, was sent up the second bill, concerning probates of testaments; which bill, because it touched their profit somewhat near, both the archbishop of Canterbury, and all other bishops in general, began to frown and grunt, insomuch that Doctor John Fisher, bishop of Rochester, standing up in the parliament chamber, openly protested, that such bills were sent up from the commons' house, tending to no other thing, but to the destruction of the church; which church being down, the glory then of the whole kingdom (said he) must needs fall: desiring therefore the lords, for God's sake, to take example by the kingdom of Bohemia. For as it was then with the people there, so now what say the commons here, but "Down with the church:" And all this (said he) seemeth to be only for lack of faith. When these words were reported to the commons of the lower house, (what the bishop had said, in noting all their doings to be for lack of faith,) they took the matter grievously, so to be esteemed of the bishop for no better than heretics; understanding, moreover, how that he, by those slanderous words, went about to persuade the lords temporal against them, and so to overthrow the two bills by them passed before, as ye have heard.

Whereupon, after long debate, it was at length agreed by the said commons, that Thomas Audley, their speaker, with thirty of the chief of that house, should be sent to the king, being then in his palace at Westminster, before called York Place; where they eloquently declared, what a dishonour to the king and the realm it was, to say that those who were elected for the wisest men of all the shires, cities, and boroughs, within the realm of England, should be declared in so noble and open presence, to lack faith, which was equivalent to say that they were infidels, and no Christians; as ill as Turks or Saracens: so that what pain or study soever they took for the commonwealth, or what acts or laws soever they made or established, should be taken as laws made by paynims and heathen people, and not worthy to be kept by Christian men: wherefore they most humbly besought the king's Highness to call the said bishop before him, and to cause him to speak more discreetly of such a number as were in the commons' house.

The king, not being well contented with the saying of the bishop, yet gently answered the speaker, and sent them away; and immediately sent for the archbishop of Canterbury, and six other bishops, and Rochester also, signifying unto them the grudge of the commons. The bishop of Rochester, excusing himself, answered, that he, in so saying, meant only the doings of the Bohemians to be for lack of faith, and not the doings of them that were in the commons' house: which saying was confirmed by the bishops there present, who had him in great reputation. And so by that only saying the king accepted his excuse, and therefore sent word to the commons, by Sir William Fitzwilliams, knight, treasurer of his household: which blind excuse pleased the commons nothing at all.

After this, divers assemblies were kept between certain of the lords, and certain of the commons, for the bills of the probates of testaments, and mortuaries. The temporalty laid to the spiritualty their own laws and constitutions; and the spiritualty sore defended them by prescription and usage: to whom it was thus answered by a gentleman of Gray's Inn; "The usage hath ever been of thieves, to rob on Shooter's Hill: ergo, is it lawful?" With this answer the spiritual men were sore offended, because their doings were called robberies; but the temporal men stood still by their sayings, insomuch that the said gentleman said to the archbishop of Canterbury, that both the exaction of probates of testaments, and the taking of mortuaries, as they were used, were open robbery and theft. After long disputation, the temporal lords began to lean to the commons; but, for all that, the bills remained unconcluded awhile.

It followeth shortly after in the parliament, that a bill was assented to by the lords of the higher house, and sent down to the commons in the lower house, and by them also with much labour agreed unto, of whom the most part were the king's servants. In that bill it was required and concluded, that the king should be released of all such loan of money which he had borrowed of his subjects in the fifteenth year of his reign. The passing of this bill went sore against the stomachs of the poor commons; for many rested upon it, counting and passing it over, one to another, for good debt, as if it had been ready money in their purses. Wherefore the king, to gratify them again, granted to them a general pardon of all offences, only certain great offences and debts excepted. Also he aided them for the redress of their griefs against the spiritualty, and caused two new bills to be made indifferently, both for the probates of the testaments, and mortuaries; which bills were so reasonable, that the spiritual lords assented to them all, though they were sore against their minds: and especially the probates of testaments sore displeased the bishops, and the mortuaries sore displeased the parsons and vicars.

After these acts thus agreed, the commons made another act for pluralities of benefices, non-residence, buying and selling, and taking of farms by spiritual persons; which act so displeased the spiritualty, that the priests railed on the commons of the lower house, and called them heretics and schismatics: for which divers priests were punished.

This act was sore debated above, in the parliament chamber, and the lords spiritual would in no wise consent. Wherefore the king, perceiving the grudge of his commons, caused eight lords and eight of his commons to meet in the Star Chamber at an afternoon, and there was sore debating of the cause, insomuch that the temporal lords of the upper house, who were there, took part with the commons against the spiritual lords, and by force of reason caused them to assent to the bill, with a little qualifying; which bill the next day was wholly agreed to in the lords' house, to the great rejoicing of the lay-people, and to the great displeasure of the spiritual persons.

During the time of the said parliament, there was brought down to the commons the book of articles which the lords had put up to the king against the cardinal. The chief articles were these.

"I. First, That he, without the king's assent, had procured to be legate, by reason whereof he took away the right of all bishops and spiritual persons.

"II. In all writings that he wrote to Rome, or to any other prince, he wrote, I and my king; as who would say, that the king were his servant.

"III. That he slandered the Church of England to the court of Rome: for his suggestion to be legate, was to reform the Church of England, which (as he wrote) was facta in reprobum sensum.

"IV. He, without the king's assent, carried the king's great seal with him into Flanders, when he was sent ambassador to the emperor.

"V. Without the king's consent, he sent commission to Sir Gregory de Cassalis, knight, to conclude a league between the king and the duke of Ferrara.

"VI. That he, having a French disorder, presumed to come and breathe on the king.

"VII. That he caused the cardinal's hat to be put on the king's coin.

"VIII. That he had sent innumerable substance to Rome, for the obtaining of his dignities, to the great impoverishment of the realm: with many other things which are touched more at large in chronicles."

These articles, with many more, being read in the commons' house, were confessed by the cardinal, and signed with his hand. Also there was showed another writing, sealed with his seal, by the which he gave to the king all his movables and unmovables.

You have heard hitherto declared, how the cardinal was attainted in the præmunire, and how he was put out of the office of the chancellor, and lay at Esher: which was A.D. 1530. The next year after, in the Lent season, the king, by the advice of his council, licensed him to go into his diocese of York, and gave him commandment to keep him in his diocese, and not to return southward, without the king's special licence in writing.

So he made great provision to go northward, and apparelled his servants newly, and bought many costly things for his household. But divers of his servants at this time departed from him to the king's service, and in especial Thomas Cromwel, one of his chief council, and chief doer for him in the suppression of abbeys. After all things necessary for his journey were prepared, he took his journey northward, till he came to Southwell, which was in his diocese, and there he continued that year, ever grudging at his fall, as you shall hear hereafter but the lands which he had given to his colleges in Oxford and Ipswich, were now come to the king's hands, by his attainder in the præmunire; and yet the king, of his gentleness, and for favour that he bare to good learning, erected again the college in Oxford; and where it was named the Cardinal's College, he called it the King's College; and endowed it with fair possessions, and ordained new statutes and ordinances; and for because the college of Ipswich was thought to be nothing profitable, therefore he left that dissolved.

Illustration -- A Gateway

Notwithstanding that the cardinal of York was thus attainted in the præmunire, (as is above mentioned,) yet the king, being good unto him, had granted him the bishoprics of York and Winchester, with great plenty of substance, and had licensed him to lie in his diocese of York, where he so continued the space of a year. But after, in the year following, which was 1531, he, being in his diocese, wrote to the court of Rome, and to divers other princes, letters in reproach of the king, and, as much as in him lay, he stirred them up to revenge his cause against the king and his realm: insomuch that divers opprobrious words against the king were spoken to Doctor Edward Keerne, the king's orator at Rome; and it was said to him, that, for the cardinal's sake, the king should have the worse speed in the suit of his matrimony. The cardinal, also, would speak fair to the people, to win their hearts, and declared ever that he was unjustly and untruly ordered; which fair speaking made many men believe that he said true: and to gentlemen he gave great gifts to allure them unto him. And to be had in more reputation among the people, he determined to be installed or enthronised at York with all the pomp that might be; and caused a throne to be erected in the cathedral church, in such a height and fashion, as was never seen; and sent to all the lords, abbots, priors, knights, esquires, and gentlemen of his diocese, to be at his manor of Cawood on the sixth of November, and so to bring him to York with all manner of pomp and solemnity.

Illustration -- Cardinal Wolsey in Procession

The king, which knew his doings and privy conveyance, all this year dissembled the matter, to see what he would do at length, till that he (seeing his proud heart so highly exalted, that he would be so triumphantly enstalled, without making the king privy, yea, and in a manner in disdain of the king) thought it not meet nor convenient to suffer him any longer to continue in his malicious and proud purposes and attempts: wherefore he directed his letters to the earl of Northumberland, willing him with all diligence to arrest the cardinal, and to deliver him to the earl of Shrewsbury, great steward of the king's household. When the earl had seen the letters, he with a convenient number came to the manor of Cawood on the fourth of November; and when he was brought to the cardinal in his chamber, he said to him, "My lord! I pray you take patience, for here I arrest you." "Arrest me?" said the cardinal. "Yea," said the earl, "I have a commandment so to do." "You have no such power," said the cardinal, "for I am both a cardinal, and a legate de latere, and a peer of the college of Rome, and ought not to be arrested by any temporal power; for I am not subject to that power: wherefore if you arrest me, I will withstand it." "Well," said the earl, "here is the king's commission, (which he showed him,) and therefore I charge you to obey." The cardinal somewhat remembered himself, and said, "Well, my lord! I am content to obey; but although that I, by negligence, fell into the punishment of the præmunire, and lost by the law all my lands and goods, yet my person was in the king's protection, and I was pardoned that offence; wherefore I marvel why I now should be arrested, and specially considering that I am a member of the see apostolic, on whom no temporal man ought to lay violent hands. Well, I see the king lacketh good counsel." "Well," said the earl, "when I was sworn warden of the Marshes, you yourself told me that I might with my staff arrest all men under the degree of a king; and now I am stronger, for I have a commission so to do, which you have seen." The cardinal at length obeyed; and was kept in a privy chamber, and his goods seized, and his officers discharged; and his physician, called Doctor Augustine, was likewise arrested, and brought to the Tower by Sir Walter Welsh, one of the king's chamber. On the sixth of November he was conveyed from Cawood to Sheffield Castle, and there delivered to the earl of Shrewsbury's keeping, till the king's pleasure were known. Of this attachment was much communing among the common people, whereof many were glad; for he was not in the favour of the commonalty.

When the cardinal was thus arrested, the king sent Sir William Kingston, knight, captain of the guard, and constable of the Tower of London, with certain yeomen of the guard, to Sheffield, to fetch the cardinal to the Tower. When the cardinal saw the captain of the guard, he was sore astonished, and shortly became sick; for then he perceived some great trouble towards him, and for that cause, men said, that he willingly took so much quantity of a strong purgation, that his nature was not able to bear it. Also the matter that came from him was so black, that the staining thereof could not be gotten out of his blankets by any means. But Sir William Kingston comforted him, and by easy journeys brought him to the abbey of Leicester on the twenty-seventh of November; where, for very feebleness of nature, caused by purgations and vomits, be died the second night following, and in the same abbey lieth buried.

It is testified by one, yet being alive, in whose arms the said cardinal died, that his body, being dead, was black as pitch; also was so heavy, that six could scarce bear it. Furthermore, it did so stink above the ground, that they were constrained to hasten the burial thereof in the night season, before it was day. At the which burial, such a tempest with such a stench there arose, that all the torches went out; and so he was thrown into the tomb, and there was laid.

By the ambitious pride and excessive worldly wealth of this one cardinal, all men may easily understand and judge what the state and condition of all the rest of the same order (whom we call spiritual men) was in those days, as well in all other places of Christendom, as especially here in England, where the princely possessions and great pride of the clergy did not only far pass and exceed the common measure and order of subjects, but also surmounted over kings and princes, and all other estates, as may well appear by his doings and order of his story, above described.

Amongst other acts of the aforesaid cardinal, this is not to be forgotten, that he founded a new college in Oxford, for the furniture whereof he had gathered together all the best learned he could hear of, amongst which number were these: Clarke, Tyndale, Sommer, Frith, and Taverner, with other more. Which, holding an assembly together in the college, were accounted to be heretics, (as they called them,) and thereupon were cast into a prison of the college, where salt-fish lay, through the stink whereof the most part of them were infected; and the said Clarke, being a tender young man, and the most singular in learning amongst them all, died in the same prison; and other in other places in the town also, of the same infection deceased.


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