This volume must be regarded not as the support of an existing reputation, or as a bid for the establishment of posthumous renown, but as the record and memorial of a rare and attractive personality. The accurate, insatiable, and broad-minded student is revealed ; the generous champion of a noble cause which has suffered temporary defeat is seen on the field of his eager endeavour in controversy with Popes and Cardinals for the sake of freedom and truth ; and the principles which he brought to the study of history or elicited from his observation of men and affairs throughout the centuries are set forth for all to read. From the Contents: Wolsey And The Divorce Of Henry VIII. The Borgias And Their Latest Historian Secret History Of Charles II. The Civil War In America. Its Place In History The Rise And Fall Of The Mexican Empire The Causes Of The Franco-Prussian War ... and many more ...
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JOHN E. E. DALBERG
Historical Essays and Studies,Lord Acton
Jazzybee Verlag Jürgen Beck
86450 Altenmünster, Loschberg 9
WOLSEY AND THE DIVORCE OF HENRY VIII.1
THE BORGIAS AND THEIR LATEST HISTORIAN1
SECRET HISTORY OF CHARLES II.1
THE CIVIL WAR IN AMERICA. ITS PLACE IN HISTORY1
THE RISE AND FALL OF THE MEXICAN EMPIRE1
THE CAUSES OF THE FRANCO-PRUSSIAN WAR1
THE WAR OF 18701
GEORGE ELIOT'S LIFE1
MR. BUCKLE'S THESIS AND METHOD1
MR. BUCKLE'S PHILOSOPHY OF HISTORY1
GERMAN SCHOOLS OF HISTORY1
THE LIFE OF LORD HOUGHTON1
A HISTORY OF THE PAPACY DURING THE PERIOD OF THE REFORMATION1
A SHORT HISTORY OF NAPOLEON THE FIRST. THE FIRST NAPOLEON: A SKETCH, POLITICAL AND MILITARY.1
MABILLON ET LA SOCIÉTÉ DE L'ABBAYE DE SAINT-GERMAIN-DES-PRÉS À LA FIN DU XVIIe SIECLE.1
A HISTORY OF ENGLAND, 1837-1880.1
A HISTORY OF THE FRENCH REVOLUTION. 1
WILHELM VON GIESEBRECHT1
Half a century ago a writer of great authority delivered the opinion that few things in history were better known than the divorce of Catharine of Aragon. Since that time the archives have been explored, and the old story which satisfied Hallam will never be told again. Mr. Brewer has done more than any other man to dispel the dark tradition, and to pour light upon an epoch which will always interest every description of educated men. After all that has been already gathered from Rome and Venice and Simancas, from Brussels and Vienna, his volume on the last and most momentous years of Wolsey's ministry embraces seven thousand letters, of which a large proportion are important and new. The most competent of his foreign critics, Dr. Pauli, reviewing the earlier part of the Calendar, declared that no other country possesses a work so satisfactory and complete ; and this is not exaggerated praise, although even Mr. Brewer's analysis cannot be accepted as a substitute for the full text of documents. He has not aimed so high ; and his readers will not seldom find that there is something still to learn in earlier and humbler publications.
If the Calendar does not utterly supersede all previous collections, the introduction in which Mr. Brewer has gathered up the innumerable threads, and has woven them into a consistent picture, so far surpasses all former narratives of the same events as to cause regret that he has not chosen rather to write a life of Wolsey, which everybody would have read, than to bury the fruit of so much study in prefaces to bulky and not very accessible volumes. With little additional labour he would have enjoyed greater freedom in the management of materials and in the use of colour, and literature would have been endowed with a popular masterpiece. Mr. Brewer has thought it a duty to devote the whole of his accumulated knowledge and power to the public work which has occupied so large a portion of his life. So few men are capable of extracting for themselves and digesting all the information his Calendar contains, that the elaborate introductions by the editor add immeasurably to its permanent utility and value. But it is impossible not to feel and to regret the generosity of so great a sacrifice.
Many of the problems that have agitated and perplexed ten generations of men are still unsolved. Yet, although we have not reached the fulness of knowledge that sates curiosity, it is not likely that much more will be learnt Some progress may be looked for in biography ; for the early lives of Gardiner, Tunstall, and Cromwell have not been studied ; nobody has taken the pains to restore the true text of the original Life of Fisher ; and not one of More's fifteen biographers has worked from manuscripts. The Vatican continues to yield priceless additions to the works of Raynaldus, of Theiner, and of Lammer ; part of the correspondence of Charles V. lies unused at Brussels ; and the papers of Campeggio may yet, perhaps, be found in the place where Sigonius saw them. But whatever the future may reveal, we now possess, in Mr. Brewer's pages, an account of the Divorce, to the fall of Wolsey, which is eminently trustworthy and intelligible.
That which distinguishes the whole reign of Henry VIII., both in Wolsey's happier days and during the riotous tyranny of later years, the idea of treating ecclesiastical authority not as an obstruction, but as a convenient auxiliary to the Crown, was anticipated by the example of his father-in-law Ferdinand. The Norman conquerors of Sicily established a form of government in which the spiritual power was more completely subdued by the civil than in any other place beyond the Byzantine boundary. In the struggle for the inheritance of the Suabian emperors, the Sicilians resisted for centuries the anathemas and the arms of Rome, and the kings of the House of Aragon maintained themselves in defiance of excommunications which were almost perpetual, and of an interdict which lasted seventy years. In a country which had endured ecclesiastical isolation so long, the Papacy could not recover its influence when the dynastic strife was ended. The Kings of Sicily acknowledged no superior, but exercised all jurisdiction themselves, allowing no appeals, and holding under strict control the intercourse between Rome and the Church within the island. This system of undivided power, consolidated and codified under Ferdinand the Catholic, became known by the significant designation of the Sicilian Monarchy. It was established without a conflict, and without ostensibly derogating from the papal dignity, by the instrumentality of the fiction that the King was, in his own dominions, hereditary Legate of the Pope. The combination of legatine authority with the highest political office in the person of Wolsey was an expedient that bore close practical resemblance to this institution.
It was in 1515 that Ferdinand proclaimed himself the virtual head both of Church and State in Sicily — cujus tam in spiritualibus quam in temporalibus curam gerimus. In the following year Henry VIII. demanded that Leo X. would appoint his favourite minister Legate a latere. For three years he made the demand in vain. It was granted at length, and the appointment was justly described as the keystone of the Cardinal's position. Henry had too much of the instinct and of the passion of power to surrender willingly the advantage which it gave him. That advantage could be preserved only by close union with Rome, or by the exclusion of its authority. The intimate alliance with the Papacy through every vicissitude of political fortune which is characteristic of Wolsey's administration, actually prepared the way for separation after his disgrace. It was so essential an element in his scheme of government that it was not disturbed when Henry imputed to Leo, and bitterly resented, his failure to obtain the Imperial crown.
The elevation of his rival, the King of Spain, suddenly raised England to an important position in the politics of Europe. An auction began, at which Francis I. sought to purchase her friendship with gold ; whilst Charles V. not only offered the same sums as his competitor, but increase of territory at his competitor's expense. France was still our hereditary enemy. England remembered that an English King had been crowned in the French capital ; and Calais was an irritating memorial of the lost inheritance, and of conquests that had ended in defeat. The nation adopted with joy the alliance with the House of Burgundy, and Parliament voted supplies for war against France.
To make sure of Wolsey, Charles promised that he should be made Pope ; and the compact was scarcely concluded when the See of Rome fell vacant. The Cardinal summoned the Emperor to employ his army in securing his election. Charles assured him that he would not shrink from force if it was needed ; but the choice of the conclave fell so speedily on Adrian VI. that his sincerity was not tested. Wolsey waited, without discouragement, for another chance. In less than two years Adrian died, and Wolsey was again a candidate. His ambition was not unreasonable. He was the foremost of ecclesiastics and of statesmen ; and it had been said of him long since that he was seven times greater than the Pope. In the conclave of 1522 six cardinals had paid him the compliment of inscribing his name on their votes. The traditional aversion of the College for men from the barbarous North had been put aside in favour of one who, in point of public service and political reputation, bore no comparison with the Cardinal of York ; and when it was first reported that a foreigner was elected, people supposed that it must be Wolsey. He now tempted his colleagues with enormous bribes, and he appealed once more to the Emperor. Charles acknowledged his engagements, and even exhibited a copy of the orders sent to his ambassador to procure Wolsey's election. But he caused the original to be detained, and took care that no effort should be spared to ensure the elevation of Medici ; or, failing Medici, of Colonna or Farnese.
This time the disappointment was final, and no hope remained. It could not escape the sagacity of the Cardinal that the new Pontiff, who was younger than himself, had been raised to the throne by him whose support he had so painfully striven to secure, that his own claim had not been seriously put forward, and that he had been fooled with false professions. He at once prepared to withdraw from the warlike alliance against France.
In the year 1523, while Suffolk ingloriously harried Picardy, Wolsey already manifested his disbelief in the project for recovering the lost dominions of the English Crown, and opposed the attempt to push the frontier beyond the Somme. His moderate counsels were encouraged by the new Pope, Clement VII., whose minister, the famous Datario Giberti, revolving vast schemes for the expulsion of foreigners from Italy, solicited in secret the co-operation of England, and began by proposing a suspension of arms. Just then the French were expelled from Lombardy ; and Bourbon, on the point of invading France, bound himself by the most sacred oaths to depose Francis, and to acknowledge no King but Henry. Richard Pace, the successor of Colet at the Deanery of St. Paul's, a respectable scholar, but a negotiator of unsound judgment, who was destined, in the imagination of the Imperialists, to supplant Wolsey, followed the invaders over the Maritime Alps, and witnessed the easy conquest of Provence. He persuaded himself that the whole kingdom would speedily be overrun, and that Bourbon would be faithful to his oath. The Constable was a traitor and a deserter, yet Pace declared that it would be folly to doubt his word, and that it would be Wolsey's fault if he did not seat his master on the throne of the Valois. The prospect that dazzled Pace, and attracted the ambitious King, did not disturb the Cardinal's clearer vision. He supplied the Imperial generals with some money and much advice, reminding them of the first axiom of military science, that the object of war is the destruction of the enemy's forces in the field. When Pescara turned aside from the campaign to besiege Marseilles, he refused to send a single English soldier into France. That Bourbon and Pescara should employ their victorious troops in making the Emperor master of the coast that connected his Spanish dominions with his Italian conquests, was reasonable. But it was not to be believed that they would risk destruction by plunging into the heart of France, from a chivalrous desire that a foreign potentate, who refused to help them, should be made, in spite of himself, as powerful as their master. Wolsey warned Pace that he had allowed himself to be made a dupe ; and Pace protested that the ruin of the expedition was due to the malice of Wolsey.
For many months a discreet agent of the French King had been concealed at Blackfriars, and he was followed, before the end of 1524, by an envoy of great distinction. As the tide of fortune turned, and the besiegers of Marseilles were shut up in Lodi and Pavia, Wolsey drew nearer to France, without renouncing his claims on Spain. The rivalry that subsisted like a permanent force of nature between the two Powers, gave him hope that he would be able, by his skill in negotiation, to derive profit, and to incur no risk, from the success of either. Whilst the issue was undecided, he would not commit England irrevocably. But the spirit of the Burgundian alliance gradually changed to resentment, and in February 1525 the seizure of the Imperial agent's papers disclosed the secret animosity that was parting the allies. The French envoys were on the way to their first audience, when they were met by the news from Italy that their King was taken, and his army destroyed. The calculations founded on the balance of power were overthrown. No advantage could be extracted from the keenness of a competition which had come to an end. The men who in the previous year had denounced the backwardness of Wolsey, were triumphant ; and in Spain, in Italy, in the Low Countries, the English agents clamoured for the immediate partition of France. If the policy of the last four years was worth anything, the time had come to prove it. The allies were victorious ; Charles had gained the object for which he had associated himself with England ; it was now to be shown what English purpose that association had served. Henry sent Tunstall to Madrid to demand the Crown of France. At the same time he attempted to raise money for the French war by a method of coercion which was termed an Amicable Grant.
Charles V. refused everything. He would fulfil no engagement. He would not keep his promise to marry Henry's daughter, unless she was sent to be educated in Spain. Instead of paying his debts, he asked for more money. At the same time the Amicable Grant was met by a general and indignant resistance. Henry could obtain no help at home or abroad towards the conquests which had formed so long the ruling purpose of his actions. The political system which had been constructed on the friendship and the pledges of Charles V. had ended in disastrous and dishonourable failure. England had spent much, and had acquired nothing. The Emperor, who had undertaken to continue the payments and pensions formerly made by France, had repudiated his obligation, and had solicited the Pope to release him from it. When he wanted the help of England, he had obtained it for nothing. He contemptuously refused to pay for it now that he required it no more.
Wolsey had long prepared for this. Whilst, with seeming confidence, he invited Charles to redeem his bond, he was making his bargain out of the extreme necessity of France. The Regent, Louise of Savoy, could cede no territory ; but she was willing to pay a heavy price for the only succour that could avail, and Wolsey exacted a sum of money equal to the ransom for which Charles afterwards released his captive. Gold was in his eyes a surer gain than the expensive chances of conquest ; but it was hard for Henry to content himself with a sordid equivalent for glory. The Emperor Maximilian, whose capricious and ingenious fancy was so little satisfied with things as they were that he wanted to be Pope, and talked of making Henry Emperor in his stead, had also suggested that he should be King of France. Down to the battle of Pavia Henry pursued this idea. What Henry V. had done with the slender resources of his time seemed not impossible now, with the aid of the most powerful of the French vassals, and of those alliances which displayed Wolsey's imperial art. To relinquish so hopeful an enterprise without a shadow of political or military success, whilst the hearts of his people were hardened against him, and his confederate defied him at the division of the spoil, was an impotent and ignominious end of Henry's aspiring schemes. The author of all this humiliation was Wolsey. It was his policy that had been brought to ruin by the subtler art of the Imperial Chancellor Gattinara. His enemies at home had their opportunity, and they were the whole nation. Detested by the nobles for his influence over Henry, by the clergy for his use of the powers delegated by Rome, and, in spite of his profuse beneficence, by the people of England, as the oppressor of the nobility, he had hardly a friend except the King, whose pride he had brought so low.
Yet Wolsey withstood the shock, and his credit remained unshaken. Henry adopted his inglorious policy, bowed his own imperious will before the resistance of London citizens and Kentish monks, and, at the moment when the crown of France seemed near his grasp, abandoned without a struggle the cherished hope of rivalling the Plantagenets. Wolsey was able to bring these things about because of an important change that had come over the domestic life of the King.
Catharine of Aragon was little past forty ; but the infirmities of age had befallen her prematurely, and her husband, though he betrayed it by no outward sign, had become estranged from her since the end of the year 1524. As long as she was fair and had hope of children, and as long as the Austrian alliance subsisted, her position was unassailed. But when her eldest children died, people had already begun to predict that her marriage would not hold good; and now that she had lost the expectations and the attractiveness of youth, a crisis came in which England ceased to depend on the friendship of her family, and was protected against their enmity by a close union with France and Rome.
The motives that impelled Wolsey to take advantage of the change were plausible. For a quarter of a century the strength of the Tudors had been the safety with which the succession was provided for ; but when it became certain that Catharine would have no son to inherit the crown, the old insecurity revived, and men called to mind the havoc of the civil war, and the murders in the Royal House, which in the seven preceding reigns had seven times determined the succession. To preserve the Tudor dynasty, the first of the English nobles had suffered death ; but nothing was yet secure. If a Queen could reign in England, Henry VII., who had no hereditary claim except through his mother, who survived him, was not the rightful king. Until the birth of Elizabeth no law enabled a woman to wear the crown ; no example justified it ; and Catharine's marriage contract, which provided that her sons should succeed, made no such provision for her daughters. It was uncertain whether Mary would be allowed to reign unchallenged by the Scots or by adherents of the House of York. The White Rose had perished, in the main line, amid the rout of Pavia ; yet Catharine tortured herself with misgivings as to her daughter's claim. The Earl of Warwick, a helpless and unoffending prisoner, had been put to death, that her wedding might be auspicious. His sister Margaret, the Countess of Salisbury, was living, and directed the Princess's education. Catharine vowed that she could not die in peace unless the crimes of her husband's family against the House of York had been atoned by the marriage of Mary with the Countess of Salisbury's son.
It was not unreasonable to apprehend that Henry, who had been unfaithful to the Queen in earlier years, would not be true to her now ; that he would fall under the dominion of favourites put forward and prompted by the Cardinal's enemies, and that his inheritance would be disputed by bastards. The King's soul, the monarchy, and Wolsey's own position were in jeopardy. It might well be difficult to distinguish the influence of politics, interest, and conscience on his choice of the expedient by which he hoped to avert the peril.
To a man who understood policy better than religion, the public reasons for dissolving the King's marriage were better than those which had recommended it to his father ; and there was a strong inducement, therefore, to ponder the words of Leviticus, and to regard the almost immediate death of the King's three sons as the penalty of his transgression. In the arbitrary and uncertain condition of the law, it was seldom difficult to find excuses for the dissolution of a Royal marriage. Henry could expect that nothing would be denied to him that favour or influence could procure for others. No man's marriage was exposed to more obvious objection.
The battle of Pavia had placed Rome at the mercy of the Emperor. Giberti appealed to Wolsey to unite with France in a league for the protection of Italy and of the Church. A breach between Spain and Rome was essential to the success of that which he meditated ; and nothing could be more welcome than the appearance of the Pope striving to combine in one confederacy all the enemies of Spain. Having embarked in so perilous a venture, he could assuredly be made to give a heavy price for English aid. Wolsey received his proposals with the promise of hearty assistance. The Queen, the Court, every influence in the State and in the nation was against him. But he persuaded the King to enter into the scheme of Clement VII., with the assurance that he would be rewarded by spiritual favours more than sufficient to repay all that he gave up to obtain them. From that moment may be discerned the faint but suggestive trace of a secret that required the intervention of the Pope and threatened disturbance at home.
On Easter Sunday, two months after the great turn of fortune at Pavia, Wolsey first caused it to be known that he had renounced the expectation of benefit from the friendship of Charles V. Just at this time the Primate Warham reminded him that it was unwise to broach too many causes of displeasure at once, and advised that the Amicable Grant be dropped "till this great matter of the King's grace be ended." On the 21st of April Wolsey wrote to Clement a solemn and mysterious letter, entreating him to listen favourably to a certain matter which would be submitted to him by Clerk, the Bishop of Bath, who was the Cardinal's most trusted confidant. But the secret was one which the Bishop thought it an unpropitious moment to reveal. He was recalled in the summer, and Casale and Ghinucci, the two men whom Wolsey selected to take charge of the divorce in 1527, were sent in his place to expose business of great moment to the Pope.
Clement and his allies did not dare to defy the Emperor while the King of France remained his prisoner, for they justly feared that Francis would seek his own freedom by betraying them. He proposed to Charles that they should subjugate Italy together, and should reduce the Pope to the position occupied by the Patriarch of Constantinople at the Court of the Macedonian Emperors. But the chief Minister of Charles V., Gattinara, was a Piedmontese, who preserved the love of his country in the service of its oppressor. He distrusted and opposed the plans of Francis. He even imagined a scheme by which his countrymen, having been rescued from the French by the Spaniards, should buy off the Spaniards by a tribute large enough to avert the financial ruin of Spain. Before attempting war, the Italians tried what could be done by treachery. They offered the crown of Naples to Pescara, the ablest of the Imperial Commanders, as a bribe to desert the Emperor. Pescara threw his tempter into prison ; and a year passed without an effort to mend the fortune of Italy. At length Francis was released, and the Italian patriots took heart to avow their warlike purpose. Clement put himself at the head of a Sacred League, which was joined by France, and protected by England. Giberti called upon his countrymen to cast out the invader ; and Sadolet, in State papers, which are perhaps the noblest compositions of the Renaissance, proclaimed the liberty and the independence of Italy.
The moment for which Henry waited had come. Clement had burnt his ships, had refused fair terms of peace, and could not venture to deny the allies who sheltered him from manifest ruin. The secret matter which had slumbered for a year revived. Giberti assured Wolsey that the Pope would do for him all that was within his power. But Clerk, who was again at Rome, reported that all else would be well but for the inauspicious business of the divorce. Henry paid a large sum into the Papal treasury : but his cause made no progress during the autumn of 1526. Six months later the difficulties were overcome, and matters were arranged in a way so satisfactory to Wolsey that he boasted of it as a triumph of skill.
The Pope soon repented of the temerity with which he had challenged the supremacy of Spain. The stronger confederates held back, while the weaker stood exposed to the calculated vengeance of Charles V. Imperial partisans made their way into the Leonine City and plundered the Vatican. The Emperor appealed before the assembled Cardinals to a General Council against the acts of the Pontiff. This threat had power over Clement. He could not, without danger, allow his claim to be disputed before a hostile audience. His right to enjoy the higher honours of the Church had been questioned by reason of his birth, and his election to the Papacy had been accomplished under conditions which gave ground for cavil. He was elected in consequence of a private agreement with Cardinal Colonna, who was his enemy through life, who had tried to exclude him from the conclave, who attempted afterwards to expel him from the throne. Men suspected the secret method which had wrought that surprising change. It was reported that the rivals had made a simoniacal compact by which Medici obtained the tiara, while Colonna received the richest office and the finest palace in the gift of the Pope. But by a recent law of Julius II. an election won by bribes or promises was for ever invalid. The Pope's courage gave way ; even Sadolet declared that resistance was unavailing ; and Giberti, boiling with indignation and resentment, and bewailing that it was his fate to serve the subtle and vacillating Florentine instead of the resolute English Cardinal, confessed that, without encouragement from France or hope from England, it was necessary to submit to terms dictated by Spanish generals. In a condition so precarious, the Pope could take no active share in a transaction which was an outrage to the Royal family of Spain. But the Datario’s animosity against the Imperialists was such as to incline him towards measures which would injure them without compromising the Papacy.
Giberti had applied for an English pension, and he long continued to be trusted as a supporter of Henry's cause. After the fall of Rome he withdrew to his diocese of Verona, where the fame which he won as the model of a perfect bishop has obscured the memory of his political career. He confided to the English agents the fact that he had left the Court because Clement was ungrateful to those who deserved well of him. They understood that Giberti had advised him to concede what Henry asked for in his matrimonial affairs ; and they induced him to return to Rome, under a promise that he would use all his influence in the King's behalf. What was the measure of encouragement he gave during the last days of his ministry, in the spring of 1527, cannot be ascertained. It probably amounted to no more than this, that the marriage might be tried in England without the interference of the Pope. As things then stood, such an understanding would be sufficient to justify the exultation of Wolsey.
Up to this time the idea of divorce had occupied the thoughts of Henry in a vague and languid way. Neither aversion for the Queen, nor desire of an heir, nor religious scruple caused him to pursue it with a fixed determination. Whilst it was uncertain who was to be his future Queen, the King displayed no eagerness. The only power whose aid was worth seeking, or that could venture to affront Charles by taking advantage of his kinswoman's disgrace, was France. In the House of Valois there were two princesses. Renée, the Queen's sister, was ill-favoured and all but deformed. Henry was not likely to incur such risk for such a bride. On his last journey to France Wolsey met an envoy from Hungary, who had been sent to ask the hand of Renée for his master. He wrote to the King that the envoy when he saw her had forthwith renounced his purpose. He wrote in terms he would not have thought prudent if he had lately designed that she should be Catharine's successor.
The King's sister, Margaret Duchess of Alencon, was richly endowed with talent and beauty, and she became a widow in April 1525, at the moment when England forsook her Burgundian ally. At first it was imagined that she would marry the Emperor ; and she visited Spain, hoping, perhaps, in that way to effect her brother's deliverance. In the year 1526 Margaret was again in France : and a widely spread tradition, doubted but not discussed by Mr. Brewer, points to her as the wife intended for the King. The Venetian Falier, the only diplomatist who showed a disposition to accept the Cardinal's account of the divorce, says that he had made proposals for her hand. The testimony of other writers is vitiated by an anachronism ; for they assign the divorce to the year 1527, when Margaret was already married to a second husband. Guicciardini and Harpsfield speak of Renee, as if either name was a guess suggested by obvious probability. Du Bellay, the shrewdest of courtiers, conjectured that Renée had been thought of. He cannot have heard that it was Margaret. She herself once reminded Henry, in after-years, that she was to have been his wife. This speech, which would have been ungracious if she had refused him, was an allusion to proposals made by Lewis XII., immediately after Prince Arthur's death, and renewed in vain until 1507. Francis I. was willing to encourage a measure which would perpetuate enmity between his powerful neighbours ; but he would have lost his advantage by implicating himself irrevocably on one side of the quarrel. Intermarriage with the House of Tudor was an object of his policy ; but before concluding it he gave his sister in marriage to the King of Navarre, and planned a match between Renee and Hercules, Prince of Este. In the spring of 1527 no princess was left who could have taken the place of Catharine. The repudiation of his Spanish wife would not enable Henry to compensate himself by closer ties with France. The divorce, promising no political advantage, could only make way for the elevation of an English bride. But though purposeless now as an affair of State, it became an object of passion.
After long preliminaries a treaty of alliance with France was signed in April 1527; and Henry betrothed his daughter Mary to the son of his ally. The event was celebrated on the 4th of May by a ball, at which the French ambassador, Turenne, danced with the Princess. King Henry's partner was Anne Boleyn. At that time she had lived at Court four years, and Henry, though not dissolute according to the standard of contemporary monarchs, had long regarded her with feelings which contributed to make him indifferent to a foreign match. She repelled his suit ; and for more than a year he could obtain no sign of requited love. At length he made her an offer of marriage, which was accepted. His letter is undated ; but it must have been written about the time when Anne Boleyn first became conspicuous : not later, because the intrigue which was designed to make her Queen stood revealed before the end of May. There is cogent reason to believe that it was not written earlier. Lord Rochford deposed before the Legates at Blackfriars that the conjugal estrangement between the King and Queen had begun in 1527. His evidence is worthless regarding the date of the desertion of Catharine ; but it goes far to determine the date of the engagement of Anne, which he must have known. For in the interest of the Boleyns it was essential that the scruples of Henry should have preceded the proposals of marriage to their daughter. If the offer had been made earlier than 1527, it would have ruined their cause to assign to that year the awakening of the King's conscience.
As soon as the Queen had an appointed rival, and the pleas of policy and religion were absorbed in the stronger influences of passion, the divorce was pressed forward with desperate and unrelenting energy. The friendship of France was secured, and there was nothing to be feared from Rome. On the 17th of May, the Archbishops, Warham and Wolsey, responsible in their character of Legates for the observance of public morality and ecclesiastical law, called Henry to justify himself before them, forasmuch as he was living, in defiance of the Levitical prohibition, in wedlock with his brother's widow. The proceedings were secret. Proctors appeared to accuse and to defend the marriage. Both accuser and defender were officers in the household of the King.
The effect of this collusive suit was to put Henry in the position of defendant. He took charge of the Queen's interests as well as his own. He was not a persecutor, but a victim ; the protector, not the assailant, of her happiness and honour. It was in his power so to conduct the defence as to ensure his condemnation, and so to contrive his appeal as to ensure its rejection. Instead of putting forward his own suspicious scruples, he would appear to yield, with grief and remorse, to the solemn voice of the Church, reproaching him with involuntary sin, and dividing those whom God had not joined. It was intended that Catharine should know nothing until sentence was given.
At the end of a fortnight Wolsey adjourned the court. So grave an issue required, he said, that he should consult with the most learned prelates. In truth, the plot was marred by the fall of Rome. The Pope was shut up in the castle of St. Angelo. There was no hope that the Emperor's prisoner would confirm a sentence against the Emperor's aunt. There was danger that he might be induced, by fear or calculation, to revoke the Legate's authority, or to visit the fraudulent intrigue with the censures which were never better employed than in protecting the weak, and upholding the sanctity of marriage. That danger neither Henry nor Wolsey had the hardihood to face. No more was heard of the abortive suit until, in our day, Mr. Brewer dragged it into light.
Wolsey had already sounded the opinion of the divines. The first consultation was unfavourable. The Bishop of London, the Dean of St. Paul's, Wakefield, the first Hebrew scholar in the country, six learned men sent up to Lambeth by the University of Cambridge, pronounced that the marriage was valid. Pace and Wakefield promptly retracted. Cambridge was partially brought round by Cranmer. It was generally believed in England that Catharine, in her brief union with Prince Arthur, had not, in fact, contracted affinity with her husband's kindred. It was difficult otherwise to understand how Henry VII. could have spoken seriously of making her his Queen. Such things might be in Portugal, where the King could scarcely be prevented from marrying his step-mother. But in England stricter notions prevailed. Tunstall afterwards declared that he had defended the marriage only until he was convinced that the popular belief on this point was wrong.
No English divine enjoyed so high a reputation as John Fisher, the Bishop of Rochester. Of all the works written against Luther in the beginning of the Reformation, his were the most important ; and he was eminent not only in controversy, but as a promoter of that new learning which theologians who were weaker in the faith looked on with detestation and dismay. Fisher's support would have been worth having ; for he was neither subservient to Wolsey, like the Bishops of Lincoln and Bath, nor afraid of him, like the Primate ; and he would have carried with him the whole weight of the school of Erasmus, which constituted the best portion of the English Church. As Wolsey deemed him an enemy, the question was submitted to him in terms so general that Fisher appears to have made answer without suspecting that he was taking the first step on a road ending at the scaffold.
Catharine had been apprised, very early, of all that was done. In the month of March she had taken alarm. She was not allowed to see the Spanish ambassador alone ; but she warned him that she had need of his protection. On the 22nd of June Henry informed her that he could regard her no longer as his lawful wife. In spite of the vigilance of the Government, Catharine despatched her physician and one of her attendants to Spain, to instruct the Emperor of the outrage inflicted on his blood. The remedy she desired was that he should cause the Pope to revoke the powers which had been delegated to the Cardinal for life. The ambassador, Mendoza, reported at the same time that public animosity was rising against him; that his enemies were forcing upon him measures by which he would inevitably work out his own destruction ; and that Tunstall would soon be Chancellor in his stead.
The French alliance afforded Wolsey the means of recovering his influence, and of becoming once more, for a short space, the principal personage in Europe. At the head of the most splendid embassy that ever crossed the Channel, he went to concert with Francis the measures to be taken in common defence against their triumphant enemy. It was necessary to provide, during the abeyance of the Papacy, for the government of the national Churches. Wolsey agreed with Francis that they should administer the ecclesiastical interests of both countries without reference to the Pope while his captivity lasted, and should be free to accept his acts or to reject them at pleasure. A still larger scheme for the government of the entire Church was proposed by the French. The suspension of the Papal authority was not so formidable as the uses to which it might be put by the ambition of Charles. If he could not compel his prisoner to serve him as the instrument of his vengeance against France and England, it was in his power to put a more pliant and trusty cardinal in his place. This was no visionary apprehension. Ferdinand of Austria was entreating his brother not to relax his grasp until the Pope had accomplished all that was wanted for the settlement of Europe ; and Mendoza, seeking to tempt Wolsey away from the connection with France, whispered to him that the Emperor now united the spiritual and temporal power, and was in a position to fulfil his ancient promise, by deposing Clement. Wolsey was proof against such solicitation. The Divorce parted him irrevocably from Charles ; and when the Emperor, seriously alarmed by the report that Wolsey was to be made Patriarch of Gaul, and meant to detach the Gallican and Anglican Churches from the See of Rome, offered him a sum which would be now £160,000, even that stupendous bribe was tendered in vain.
Francis I. offered passports to the Italian cardinals, inviting them to assemble at Avignon to consult with Wolsey and with their French colleagues for the welfare of religion. Wolsey urged them to come, in the expectation that he would, at their head, possess a virtual supremacy. The cardinals who were in France joined with him to inform Clement that they held themselves absolved from their obedience, and intended, if he should die in captivity, to elect a Pontiff for themselves. Among the signatures to this momentous declaration are the names not only of the French and English Chancellors, but of the Legate Salviati, who was nearly related to the Pope. It was not entirely unwelcome to Clement himself, as it made it less likely that the Emperor would coerce him. But he refused to permit his cardinals to accept the ominous invitation to Avignon, for Gattinara met it by threatening him with a council to be summoned by Colonna. To meet the resistance of the Italian cardinals, Wolsey devised the boldest of all his manoeuvres. He proposed that Clement should sign a protest nullifying all the acts he might perform under pressure of captivity ; and should appoint Wolsey his Vicar-General until the moment of his deliverance. He charged Gambara, the Nuncio in England, to obtain these powers by persuading the Pope that Charles would never set him free, and that his Vicar would do his will in all things. He was carefully to conceal from him the purpose to which the required authority was to be applied. It would have settled the question of Divorce, by enabling Wolsey to appoint the judges and to hear the appeal. To strengthen his envoy's hands, he proposed to the French Chancellor, Duprat, that Francis should pledge himself to Wolsey to employ all the resources of France in the Pope's service, and not to sheathe the sword until he was delivered. The engagement was to be seen before starting by Gambara. Then Wolsey undertook, by virtue of his special powers, to release the French King from his bond. After it had been described in fitting terms to Clement, and had exalted his confidence and admiration for the Cardinal, it was to become waste paper.
It was the opinion of Henry's advisers that the question of his marriage might still have been settled, as it was begun, within the realm ; and Wolsey's elaborate and demonstrative arrangements for a separation from Rome that might endure indefinitely, confirmed their advice. It was unreasonable that grave ecclesiastical causes should wait the pleasure of the hostile soldiery that guarded the Pontiff; or that an issue of vital consequence to the English crown and nation should be left to the judgment of men who were the helpless prisoners of an interested and adverse party. But on this point Wolsey was resolved to bear down all opposition. Rome supplied the qualification that made him indispensable. To preserve that supply, to maintain his position as Legate against the influence of Charles V., he upheld with a firm and jealous hand the prerogatives of the Papacy ; and he succeeded, with some difficulty, in convincing his master that it would be unsafe to proceed with no better warrant than they possessed already.
The Cardinal was absent during the whole summer ; the ablest men who were engaged in public affairs, Tunstall, More, and Gardiner, were in his retinue, and those who envied his greatness and denied his capacity possessed the King's ear. They disbelieved that the Pope would be willing now to help them against the Emperor, or would assent to Wolsey's audacious plans for assuming his place. He might succeed, without any profit to the King. He might effect his own exaltation, and might then be intimidated from employing it for the desired end. It was plain that he was using the Divorce for his own aggrandisement. His aggrandisement might, after all, do nothing for the Divorce. When his vast designs were unfolded, a sense that they were outwitted fell upon the cabal that were pushing the fortunes of Anne Boleyn. Wolsey had been ready in May to go all lengths, and he now declined to go further without the cognisance of Rome, or to question the plenitude of the dispensing power. It seemed that he was betraying the King to the Pope. He defended himself in a remarkable letter, and fancied that he had dispersed the gathering storm. When Henry expressed a wish to see Gardiner, he replied that he could not spare him.
Then, for a season, his adversaries prevailed. They persuaded Henry that he could reach his end by a shorter road ; and he sent his Secretary Knight to Rome, with instructions which were unknown to Wolsey. For the delicate mission of inducing the Pope to abdicate his supreme functions in Wolsey's hands, he had chosen to employ none but Italians. The Nuncio Gambara, supported by letters from Cardinal Salviati, was to open the matter. Gambara was to be followed by Casale and Ghinucci. Stafileo, Bishop of Sebenico and Dean of the Rota, promised his assistance ; for Wolsey had found him in France, and had no difficulty in moulding his opinion. Ghinucci and Casale were the most respectable of all the agents engaged in these transactions. But Gambara was a man steeped in Italian intrigue ; and Stafileo obtained the promise of a French bishopric and a Cardinal's hat, and died in the following summer, claiming his reward with a vigour injurious to the credit of his legal advice. Clement afterwards accused Stafileo of having been the author of the mischief His adhesion was a notable event, for he presided over the supreme tribunal by which, in the last instance, the validity of marriages was decided ; and it was a significant circumstance that the King's cause was at once taken up and pleaded by the official agents of the Papacy.
But the artful machinery which Wolsey had contrived was thrust aside, the management was wrested from his hands, and he was obliged to recall his instructions ; while Knight proceeded to execute orders which were studiously concealed from his knowledge. During the interval in which his adversaries pursued the matter in their own way, and laboured to rob him of the merit of success, Clement made terms with his conquerors. The Protest and the Vicariate became words without a meaning, and Wolsey's dream of superseding the Pope was dissolved.
The substance of Knight's mission was to procure a dispensation for bigamy. The original intention was only to seek a dispensation for marriage within the forbidden degrees when the first should be dissolved. It could be requisite only because the King had been the lover of the mother or sister of Anne Boleyn. He declared that it was not the mother. The dispensation demanded would, in some measure, have confirmed the right to try the cause in London. But the Nuncio advised that it should be unconditional, and should not be made to depend on the divorce of Catharine. This petition was not brought before the Pope. Knight was overtaken on the way by Lord Rochford's chaplain, bringing an altered draft. Cranmer was chaplain to Lord Rochford. He was so much averse to the theories that were undermining the marriage-law, that he protested vehemently against the later practice of his Lutheran friends, calling them Mohammedans for their encouragement of polygamy. It would appear that he was the author of the altered counsels.
When Wolsey on his return reported himself to Henry, the answer came to him in the shape of an order from Anne Boleyn. He could measure the ground he had lost by his prolonged absence. He regained it in the following winter by his inexhaustible energy and resource, and the importunities of Anne for some token of attention, were it even a basket of shrimps, confirmed him in the assurance of recovered power. Knight's negotiations with Roman and Tuscan masters of refined diplomacy ended in quick discomfiture. Long before his complacent incompetence was exposed, Wolsey had taken back into his own hands the conduct of affairs. The sharp lesson just administered had taught him caution. His services in promoting the Divorce were certain to increase the exasperation of the people, and could never disarm the hatred or the vengeance of the magnates whom he had humbled. Success was not less dangerous than failure. It became the object of his efforts to transfer from himself the formidable burden of responsibility, and to take shelter behind a higher authority. He applied first for powers for himself, or for Stafileo, to try the validity of the marriage ; but he required that their commission should be couched in terms which implicitly ruled the decision. When he knew that the Pope was about to be released, he tried to give him a larger share of action, by proposing that a Cardinal should be sent over as Legate, in the hope that his Commission would enable him to control the Legate's course, and to dictate the sentence. In a passage which was omitted from the fair copy of this despatch, Wolsey confessed that the dissolution of a marriage which had lasted so long would give too great a shock to public feeling for him to take it upon himself.
Before the day came on which the Imperialists had covenanted to release the Pope, he was allowed to escape, and he made his way to Orvieto, where the emissaries of Henry, bringing to his feet the humble but fervent prayer of their King, taught him that he possessed, as Bishop of Rome, resources more than sufficient to restore the lost sovereignty of Central Italy. He was without the semblance of a Court. Few of the prelates, and not the best of them, had joined him in his flight. His chief adviser in this most arduous conjuncture of his stormy Pontificate was Lorenzo Pucci, Cardinal of Santi Quattro, a Florentine, and an adherent of his house, who, after the death of Leo, had attempted to raise him, by surprise and acclamation, to the vacant throne. To many sordid vices Pucci added the qualities of energy and intrepidity, which his master wanted. At the storming of Rome he was the only Cardinal seen upon the walls. He was struck down whilst, with his voice and his example, he strove to rally the defenders, and climbed into the Castle through a window after the gates had been closed. He had been Minister under Julius, and, for his extortions under Leo, men said that no punishment was too bad for him. Wolsey had given orders that money must not be spared ; but Pucci, who was noted for cupidity, refused a present of two thousand crowns, and could never be made to swerve in his resistance to the English petitions. He drew up the Commission which Knight asked for, with alterations that made it of no effect ; and he baffled the English envoys with such address that the winter passed away before Henry had obtained any concession that he could use, or that the Pope could reasonably regret.
The dominant purpose was to gain time. The Emperor, on receiving the messages of Catharine and Mendoza, immediately insisted, through his Viceroy at Naples, that Wolsey should be forbidden to act in the matter, and this demand reached Clement whilst still surrounded by the soldiery that had sacked Rome before his face. He had now become free ; but it was the freedom of an exile and a fugitive, without a refuge or a protector from an enemy who was supreme in the Peninsula. The instrument which the skill of Pucci had made innocuous and unavailing, appeared to him charged with dreadful consequences. He begged that it might be suppressed. His dejection made him slow to perceive how much Henry's intense need of his spiritual services improved his political position. He strove to exclude the cause from his own direct jurisdiction. Having consulted with Pucci, and with Simonetta, the ablest canonist in Rome, he exhorted Henry to obey the dictates of his own conscience, and to dismiss the Queen and take another wife, if he was convinced that he could lawfully do it. Wolsey's Legatine powers, or the Commission lately issued, were ample for the purpose. Once married to Anne Boleyn, Henry had nothing to fear. But if he waited the slow process of law, and gave time for protests and appeals, the Emperor might compel them to give sentence in Rome. Clement deemed that it would be a less exorbitant strain of his prerogative, and less offensive to Charles V., to tolerate the second marriage, than to annul the first.
Henry VIII. consented to be guided by Wolsey against the judgment of his Council, but he had inclined at first to more summary and rapid methods, and the mission of Knight in the autumn of 1527 showed that he was slow to abandon that alternative. That he should, nevertheless, have rejected an expedient which was in the interest of those to whom he habitually listened, which was recommended by his own strong passions, and which the confidential counsel of the Pope invested with exceptional security, is the strangest incident in the history of the Divorce. Wolsey's influence is insufficient to explain it; for Clement repeated his advice after Wolsey's fall, and yet three years passed before Henry's tenacity yielded. In March 1530, the Pope was at Bologna, holding conference with the newly crowned and reconciled Emperor. Charles V. required him to threaten Henry with anathema and interdict if he should contract a second marriage pending judgment on the first. Clement could not resist the demand, but he yielded reluctantly. He put forth a Bull in the terms which the Emperor required. But in private he expressed a wish that his menace might be vain, and that the King's purpose might be accomplished without involving him in complicity. These words were spoken in secret ; and at Orvieto also Clement had desired that his advice should be attributed to the prelates who were about him. Henry may well have feared that, after taking an irrevocable step, he might be compelled to purchase indemnity by some exorbitant sacrifice; or he may have apprehended in 1528 what happened five years later, that the Pope, compelled by the Emperor, would excommunicate him for disobeying his injunctions. Having taken his stand, and resolved to seek his end on the safer ground of submission and authority, he refused to abandon it.
All the auspices at first favoured Henry, and every prejudice told against the Emperor, whose crafty policy, while it enabled Lutheranism to establish itself in Germany, had inflicted irreparable injury on the See of Rome. The sympathies of the Roman Court were as decided on one side as they might be now in a dispute between the head of the House of Bourbon and the head of the House of Savoy. Henry VIII. had given, during a reign of eighteen years, proofs of such fidelity and attachment as had never been seen on any European throne. No monarch since Saint Lewis had stood so high in the confidence and the gratitude of the Church. He had varied his alliances between Austria, France, and Spain ; but during four warlike pontificates Rome had always found him at its side. He had stood with Julius against Maximilian and Lewis, with Leo against Francis, with Clement against Charles. He had welcomed a Legate in his kingdom, where none had been admitted even by the House of Lancaster. He was the only inexorable repressor of heresy among the potentates of Europe ; and he permitted the man to whom the Pope had delegated his own authority to govern almost alone the councils of the State.
No testimony of admiration and good will by which Popes acknowledge the services of kings was wanting to his character as the chosen champion of religion. The hat, the sword, and the golden rose had repeatedly been sent to him. Julius, in depriving Lewis XII. of his designation of the Most Christian King, had conferred it upon Henry ; and he bore, before Luther was heard of, the title of Defender of the Faith. His book was not yet written when Leo X. convoked the cardinals in order that they might select a title of honour worthy of such services and such fame ; and it was suggested in the Consistory that Henry deserved to be called the Angelic King. His bitterest enemy, Pole, averred that no man had done more for Rome, or had been so much beloved. Such was his reputation in Christendom that when he talked of putting away a wife who was stricken in years to marry a bride in the early bloom of her beauty, the world was prepared to admire his scruples rather than to doubt his sincerity. Clement, though not without suspicions, suffered them to be allayed. He spoke of the case as one which was beyond his skill, but which no divine was more competent to decide than Henry himself. Campeggio declared, even at the Imperial Court, his belief that Henry's doubts were real. Cajetan wrote of him in 1534, Cochlaeus in 1535, with the full assurance that he had been deceived by others, and that his own religious knowledge was teaching him to discover and to repair the error of his advisers. After the final condemnation had been pronounced, a prelate engaged in the affair wrote to him in terms implying that in Rome it was understood that he had been led astray, not by passion but by designing men. Even Paul III. protested that he had made Fisher a Cardinal in the belief that Henry would esteem the elevation of his subject a compliment to himself.
The good faith of Henry was attested by an imposing array of supporters. The Nuncio came to Rome to plead his cause. Stafileo and Simonetta, the foremost judges of the Rota, admitted that it was just. Two French bishops who had visited England, and who afterwards became cardinals, Du Bellay and Grammont, persistently supported it. Cardinal Salviati entreated Clement to satisfy the English demands. Wolsey, on whom the Pope had lavished every token of his confidence ; Warham, the sullen and jealous opponent of Wolsey, who had been primate for a quarter of a century, and who was now an old man drawing near the grave ; Longland, the Bishop of Lincoln, the King's confessor, and a bulwark against heresy — all believed that the marriage was void. The English bishops, with one memorable exception, confirmed the King's doubts. The Queen's advisers, Clerk, Standish, Ridley, successively deserted her. Lee, the adversary of Erasmus, who followed Wolsey at York, and Tunstall, the Bishop of London, who followed him at Durham, went against her. The most serious defection was that of Tunstall ; for the school of Erasmus were known to oppose the Divorce, and of the friends of Erasmus among the English clergy, Cuthbert Tunstall was the most eminent. He is the only Englishman whose public life extended through all the changes of religion, from the publication of the Theses to the Act of Uniformity. The love and admiration of his greatest contemporaries, the persecution which he endured under Edward, his tolerance under Mary, have preserved his name in honour. Yet we may suspect that a want of generous and definite conviction had something to do with the moderation which is the mark of his career. He reproved Erasmus for his imprudence in making accessible the writings of the early Fathers ; and in the deliberations touching the separation from Rome, in the most important Session of the Parliament of England, when he was, by his position, his character, and his learning, the first man in the House of Lords, he allowed himself to be silenced by an order from the King. Tunstall informed Catharine that he had abandoned her cause because he believed that she had sworn a false oath.
Nor did the conduct of the most distinguished English laymen confirm the reported unpopularity of the Divorce. It is certain that Sir Thomas More and Reginald Pole were conscientiously persuaded that the Queen was a lawful wife. Pole had, moreover, an almost personal interest to preserve inviolate Mary's right to the Crown ; and he wrote in its defence with such ability and persuasiveness, that Cranmer thought he would carry the whole country with him if his book became known. Yet Pole allowed himself to be employed in obtaining the assent of the University of Paris, and accepted his share of merit and responsibility in a success which cost Henry more than a million of francs.
Sir Thomas More had defended divorce in the most famous work that England had produced since the invention of printing. The most daring innovator of the age, he had allowed his sentiments to be moulded by the official theology of the Court. Under that sinister influence, More, the apostle of Toleration, who had rivalled Tertullian and Lactantius in asserting the liberty of conscience, now wrote of the Lutherans such words as these : — "For heretykes as they be, the clergy dothe denounce them. And as they be well worthy, the temporaltie dothe burne them. And after the fyre of Smythfelde, hell dothe receyve them, where the wretches burne for ever." Henry supposed that a man whose dogmatic opinions he had been able to modify would not resist pressure on a subject on which he had already shown a favourable bias. More was steadfast in upholding the marriage, but never permitted his views to be known. He represented to Henry that he was open to conviction ; that he was incompetent to pronounce and willing to receive instruction. He promised to read nothing that was written in favour of the Queen. So reticent and discreet a supporter could not be counted on her side ; and More consented, as Chancellor, to act ministerially against her. He assured the House of Commons that Henry was not urging the Divorce for his own pleasure, but solely to satisfy his conscience and to preserve the succession ; that the opinions of the Universities had been honestly given, and that those of Oxford and Cambridge alone were enough to settle the question. Whilst he remained in power he left the Queen to her fate, and did his best to put off the hour of trial that was to prove the heroic temper of his soul.
The Bishop of Rochester, indeed, was faithful and outspoken to the end ; but his judgment was not safe to trust. Death for the sake of conscience has surrounded the memory of Fisher with imperishable praise ; but at that time he was the one writer among our countrymen who had crudely avowed the conviction that there is no remedy for religious error but fire and steel ; and the sanction of his fame was already given to the Bloody Statute, and to a century of persecution and of suffering more cruel than his own. Fisher suspected the attack on the Dispensation of concealing a design against the Church ; and he therefore based the Queen's defence on the loftiest assertion of prerogative. His examination of the authorities was able and convincing. He admitted that they were not all on his side ; but he held that even if the balance had leaned heavily against him it would not have injured his client. The interpretation of law, the solution of doubts pertained to the Pope ; and the Pope had decided this dispute by the undeniable act of dispensation. The question might have been difficult on its merits ; but there was, in reality, no question at all.
The value of the maxim, that the fact proves the right, had just then been seriously impaired. The divine whom Leo X. appointed to encounter Luther had invoked that principle. It was absurd, he contended, to try the existing system of indulgences by the rule of tradition, when it was plainly justified by the daily practice of the Church. But the argument of Prierias was discredited by Adrian VI., who readily avowed that there had of late been grievous abuse of power, and that dispensations only hold good if they are granted for sufficient cause. It was a source of weakness in dealing with the first signs of Protestantism in England to adopt a position which had been so recently discarded in the conflict with the Reformation in Germany. But Fisher went still farther. The strength of the argument for the Queen was that a prohibition could not be absolute from which the contingency of a brother dying childless had been specially excepted. But her advisers would not trust that plea. The law was clearer than the exception. No brother, in the history of Christianity, had felt bound to obey the injunction of Deuteronomy. The prohibition of Leviticus had been almost universally observed. This objection was felt so strongly, that Fisher and the advocates of Catharine contended that even if the Divine law forbade the marriage, the Divine law must yield to the law of the Church. Clement, however, admitted that the right to dispense against the law of God was not generally assigned to him by divines,
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