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down, and his son Henry VIII., and his grandchild Elizabeth, adopted his tactics. The consequence was that the Middle Class, deprived of their former chiefs in the House of Lords, were completely cowed, and remained so down to James I., when the Nobility raised their heads once more, and renewed their old opposition to Absolute Monarchy. Henry VII. was always on his guard against the Barons, "for he kept," says Lord Bacon, "a strait hand on his nobility, and chose rather to advance clergymen and lawyers which were more obsequious to him, but had less interest in the people; which made for his absoluteness, but not for his safety. For his nobles, though they were loyal and obedient, did not co-operate with him, but let every man go his own way." This passage from Lord Bacon, who wrote in the reign of Elizabeth, shows that the Nobles had been so exhausted by the civil wars, that they dared no longer stimulate the Middle Class to resist arbitrary power.
During this reign Canada and Nova Scotia were discovered by the Cabots, who were patronized by the King.
We now enter upon the sixteenth century, usually considered the close of the Middle Ages; but it is questionable if the epoch known as Modern Times can be said to commence before the institutions of the Middle Ages were overthrown; that is, until the year 1688 in England and the year 1789 in France.
Be that as it may, the sixteenth century is renowned for the successful effort in England to suppress the despotism of the primitive Church. For centuries the Papacy had controlled the Governments of Europe by its spiritual power over the masses. Kings and Princes
struggled against the yoke, but were fain to submit. Superstition began to lose ground in the sixteenth century; and Luther dared to protest against the domination of the Pope, and to call on the people to read the Scriptures and work out their own salvation. The invention of Printing now made the Bible accessible to all.
This rebellion against the authority of the Church in the sixteenth century in England was the forerunner of the rebellion against the authority of the State in the seventeenth century.
To England belongs the glory of having pioneered the human race to its emancipation. She became, from the accidents of her history, the champion of humanity against the arbitrary power which the Minority had always, in the name of religion and government, exercised over the Majority of men. The alliance of her Aristocracy and Middle Class, a phenomenon impossible elsewhere, forced Absolute Monarchy, in the thirteenth century, to surrender "rights and liberties never before conceded to mankind. The hope of freedom thus engendered led the nation, in the sixteenth century, to support a hot-brained King in his impassioned assault on the Papal power. Whilst the growth of political liberty in England is due to the union of her Aristocracy and Freemen, it is equally clear that her religious liberty could not have been secured if this partnership had not been maintained. In the reigns of Henry VIII. and Elizabeth, when the ecclesiastical monopoly was abolished, and free trade in religion initiated, it is true the hands of the Aristocracy and Middle Class were not so visible as in the political struggles of previous reigns, but neither Henry nor Elizabeth
could have conquered the Pope if the Aristocracy and Middle Class had not supported them. The Aristocracy may have been divided by religious scruples, as was also the Middle Class; but the majority of both foresaw that the downfall of religious despotism would necessarily prepare the same fate for political tyranny.
The Tudor Kings, from Henry VII. to Elizabeth-1485 to 1603-were more absolute than either Norman or Plantagenet, and simply because the Aristocracy were crippled by the civil wars, and unable, as before, to lead the Middle Class against the common enemy. Thus it was that during the Tudor dynasty, Parliament seemed to abdicate its old rôle of extending its privileges and curtailing those of the Monarchy. No doubt the peremptory commands of Henry and Elizabeth were cheerfully obeyed when Papal domination was in question; but that no opposition was made to the efforts of Philip and Mary to restore it, is difficult to explain, save by the fear of an invasion from Spain, whose King was the father of Philip. This invasion was actually attempted in the reign of Elizabeth.
These preliminary remarks will awaken attention to the great event of the sixteenth century.
Henry VIII. succeeded to the throne in 1509. He married soon after at eighteen, Catherine, daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain. She had previously married his brother Arthur, who died at the end of five months. The legality of her second marriage was doubted at the time, and at a later period, Henry made this uncertainty a pretext for a divorce.
During the earlier years of his reign he left the Government in the hands of Cardinal Wolsey, his Minister and favorite. The Clergy sustained by Wolsey
exercised unbounded power: and hesitated at no abuses or exactions. "It was common at this time for persons, after committing great crimes," says Rowland, "to go into the priesthood to avoid punishment."
Subsidies for the wars with France were constantly demanded of Parliament, who humbly remonstrated, but dared not refuse. The King frequently resorted to forced loans, if the grants were inadequate.*
England at this period was writhing under the double tyranny of the Church and the Crown. Parliament, that had formerly deposed two Kings, and forced Henry IV., a hundred years before, to retreat before their energetic resistance, was now dumb in the presence of the insolent Wolsey, who, as Cardinal and Minister, wielded the thunderbolts of both Church and State.
At this dreary moment occurred "one of the greatest events in history," as Hallam calls it. The language of Bacon is no less striking when he says, referring to Henry's first marriage, "The secret providence of God ordained that marriage to be the occasion of great events and changes." After living eighteen years with Catherine of Arragon, the sensual King conceived a violent passion for Anne Boleyn, a Maid of Honor to the Queen. Resolved to divorce Catherine, and marry Anne, he applied to Pope Clement, 1527, for a Bull to dissolve his first union. Henry had been a zealous son of the Church, and had, by writing a book against the
* The danger of refusing to subscribe to these loans may be seen in the fact that an Alderman of London, Richard Reed, who would not contribute, was sent down to serve as a common soldier on the Scottish border, and the General in command there was ordered to employ him on the hardest and most perilous duty.
heresy of Luther, secured for himself the title from the Pope of "Defender of the Faith." His Holiness was anxious to oblige the enamored King, and grant the divorce, but Charles V., Emperor of Germany and King of Spain, who was nephew to Catherine, forbade him to do so.
With the Pope's consent, however, a trial for divorce began in London at the Black Friars' Convent, 1529, before the Legates of the Pope, Cardinals Campeggio and Wolsey. Catherine appeared in person, denied the jurisdiction of the Court, and appealed to Rome. After sundry delays the Court broke up, by order of the Pope, without pronouncing a divorce. Wolsey was disgraced for this failure, and stript of his honors and wealth.
Thomas Cranmer, a Professor of Theology in Cambridge University, sustained the divorce, and suggested to the King to ask the opinion of the Universities of Europe, on the question whether a marriage with a brother's widow were lawful. This was done, and the Universities, including those of Oxford and Cambridge, supported the King. Cranmer was sent to Rome, where several of Henry's Ambassadors had already gone, to obtain if possible the coveted Bull for the divorce.
Irritated at the Pope's indecision, Henry summoned a Parliament, 1529, after an interval of seven years, to give legal expression to his anger. The House of Commons, eager to avenge itself on the Clergy, showed great readiness to carry out the King's purpose. They sent a Petition to the King, reflecting severely on the "vices and corruptions of the clergy," adding this singular phrase: "which were believed to flow from men who had Luther's doctrines in their hearts." This is a proof how little the Reformation was fore