The results of the free use of such translations were soon apparent in the religious discussions that took place in many parts of England. Henry began to fear that he had acted unwisely in allowing the people to make their religion for themselves, and besides, as Cromwell had fallen, the conservative bishops like Gardiner of Winchester were in the ascendant. In the Convocation of 1542 grave objections were raised against these various translations, and with the approval of the king it was resolved to undertake a revision of them; but while the committee appointed for this revision was at work, a messenger arrived from the king forbidding Convocation to proceed further, as His Majesty had decided to take the matter out of the hands of the bishops and submit it to the universities. The bishops protested against this order, but their protests were unheeded, and an English Bible, that had been condemned by Convocation, was forced on the clergy and people against the advice of the ecclesiastical authorities. In 1543, however, an Act was passed in Parliament at the request of the king forbidding private individuals to take it upon themselves to interpret the Bible in any public assembly; noblemen, gentlemen householders, and even merchants might retain the English translation and read it, but this favour was denied to the lower classes "unless the king perceiving their lives to be amended by the doctrines he had set forth thought fit to give them liberty to read it."
Early in 1536 Queen Catharine died. Her heart had been broken by the conduct of the king and by separation from her daughter the Princess Mary. Time and again she had been commanded under threat of the severest punishment to accept the sentence of Cranmer's court, but both herself and the Princess refused steadfastly to subscribe to such a dishonourable verdict. After Catharine's death and merely to save her life Mary signed a document agreeing to the abolition of papal supremacy and the invalidity of her mother's marriage, though nobody attached any importance to a submission that was obtained in such circumstances. The death of Catharine was a great relief to Henry and Anne, more especially to the latter, who had some reason for believing that she herself had lost her hold on the affections of the king. Henry had already grown weary of the woman for whose sake he had put his lawful wife away and separated his kingdom from the Catholic Church, and the disappointment of his hopes for the birth of an heir to the throne confirmed his intention of ridding himself of a partner, who was regarded by his own subjects and the nations of Europe only as his concubine. She was arrested on a charge of misconduct with her brother and other gentlemen of the court, was tried before a body of the peers, and was put to death at Tyburn (17th May, 1536). Cranmer, who in his heart was convinced of her innocence, promptly held a court and pronounced her marriage with Henry null and void. On the very day of her execution he issued a license for the king to marry Jane Seymour, one of Anne's maids of honour, and before the end of the month the marriage was celebrated. In June Parliament confirmed Cranmer's sentence by declaring the invalidity of Henry's previous marriages, and the illegitimacy of Mary and Elizabeth, and by fixing the succession on the heirs of the king and Jane Seymour. Furthermore, in case there might be no children it empowered the king to determine by his will who should succeed. The object of this was to enable him to appoint as his heir his bastard son, the Duke of Richmond, but this intention was frustrated by the death of the Duke (July 1537).
While Parliament was in session Convocation assembled once more. Cromwell, as the king's vicar-general in spirituals, claimed the right to preside either in person or by proxy. Many of the new bishops who had been appointed since 1533 were distinctly Lutheran in their ideas and tendencies. Latimer of Worcester, who was well known to favour German theology, was supported by five others, Shaxton, Goodrich, Edward Foxe, Hilsey, and Barlow. Though Latimer on a former occasion had been censured by Convocation he was selected to deliver the opening sermon, in which he inveighed against Purgatory, images, altars, relics, pilgrimages, the carelessness of the clergy, and the abuses of the spiritual courts. Convocation having approved of Cranmer's verdict regarding Henry's marriage with Anne Boleyn, a petition was sent up from the lower house to the bishops complaining of the erroneous views propagated by various preachers in the province of Canterbury. The vast body of the older bishops were determined to condemn these heretical views, which were little less than the renewal of the Lollard teaching with a slight admixture of Lutheran theology, but Cranmer, Latimer, and Foxe were equally determined to prevent such a condemnation. The dispute promised to be both warm and protracted. Cromwell, however, appeared in the assembly with a book of /Ten Articles/ drawn up by the king for securing religious unanimity, and insisted that the prelates should accept them. The Articles were moderate in tone, and generally were not in opposition to the old theology. They approved of Transubstantiation, emphasised the importance and necessity of Baptism, Penance, and the Eucharist without affirming that these were the only three Sacraments, declared that good works were necessary for justification, that prayers might be offered for those who were dead, that the use of the word Purgatory was not to be recommended, that reverence should be shown to images and pictures, and that the older ceremonies should be retained. The great objection to these Articles was not the doctrine they set forth, but the fact that they were issued by the king's authority. That the King of England could revise the beliefs and ceremonies of the Catholic Church was in itself a revolution, and should have opened the eyes of the Catholic-minded bishops to the full meaning of royal supremacy. Furthermore, Convocation declared that the Bishop of Rome could not convene a General Council without the permission and co-operation of the Christian princes. A few weeks later Cromwell issued a set of /Injunctions/ to be observed by the clergy charged with the care of souls. They were to set forth the Articles drawn up by the king, to discourage pilgrimages and the observation of holidays that had not been abrogated, not to lay too much stress upon images and relics, and to warn the people to teach their children in English the Our Father, the Creed, and the Ten Commandments; they were to give one-fortieth of their incomes to the poor, one-fifth to the repair of the churches, and those who held the richer benefices were commanded to spend their surplus revenue in maintaining a student or students at Oxford and Cambridge.
In the autumn of 1536 three sets of royal commissioners were at work, one superintending the suppression of the lesser monasteries, a second charged with communicating Cromwell's instructions to the clergy, and removing those priests who were unwilling to accept them, and a third entrusted with the collection of royal taxation on ecclesiastical benefices. By these commissions the entire face of the country was changed. The monastic institutions were suppressed and the servants and labourers in their employment were turned adrift, the relief to the poor and the wayfarer was discontinued, and the tenants awaited with nervousness the arrival of the new grandees. The possessions of the religious houses, instead of being spent on the development of education and the relief of the taxes, found their way for the most part into the royal treasury, or into the pockets of the officials charged with the work of suppression. Oxford and Cambridge were reduced to sullen submission, and obliged to accept a new set of statutes, to abolish the study of canon law in favour of civil law, to confine the divinity courses to lectures on the Scriptures, and to place in the hands of the students the classical authors together with the Humanist commentaries thereon, instead of the tomes of Duns Scotus or St. Thomas. Such changes, as has been shown, led to rebellion in different parts of the country, but especially in the north, where loyalty to Rome was still regarded as compatible with loyalty to the king.
After the suppression of the rebellions in the north and the failure of Cardinal Pole to bring about an European coalition against Henry, the war against the greater monasteries was begun (1537). Those situated in the northern counties were charged with having been implicated in the rebellion. Many of the abbots were put to death or imprisoned, and the goods of the communities were confiscated. Several others in order to escape punishment were induced to surrender their property to the king's commissioners. In some cases the abbots were bribed by promises of special favours for themselves, in others they were forced to yield up their titles to avoid charges of treason on account of documents supposed to have been discovered in their houses or evidence that had been extracted from some of their monks or retainers. During the years 1538 and 1539 the monasteries fell one by one, while during the same period war was carried on against shrines and pilgrimages. The images of Our Lady of Ipswich and of Our Lady of Walsingham were destroyed; the tomb of St. Thomas à Becket was rifled of its precious treasures, and the bones and relics of the saint were treated with the greatest dishonour. Everywhere throughout the country preachers inspired by Cromwell and Cranmer, the latter of whom aimed at nothing less than a Lutheran revolution in England, were at work denouncing images, pilgrimages, invocation of saints, and Purgatory. So long as money poured into the royal treasury from the sale of surrendered monastical property and of the ecclesiastical goods, or so long as a blow could be struck at the Papacy by desecrating the tomb of a saint who had died as a martyr in defence of the Holy See, Henry looked on with indifference if not with pleasure.
But the news of such outrages could not fail to horrify the Catholic world, and to prove to Paul III. that there was little hope of any favourable change in Henry's religious policy. It was determined to give effect to the Bull of excommunication that had been prepared for years, and to call upon the Catholic powers of Europe to put it into execution either by a joint declaration of war, or by an interruption of commercial relations with England. The time seemed specially favourable for the publication of such a sentence. After years of active or smouldering hostility the two great rivals Charles V. and Francis I. had arranged a ten years truce (June 1538), and Cardinal Pole was sent as legate to Spain and France to induce the Emperor and Francis I. to take common action. James V. of Scotland promised his assistance, and a papal envoy was dispatched to Scotland to bear the cardinal's hat to Archbishop Beaton, and to encourage the king to co-operate with the Catholic rulers of the Continent.
When the news of these preparations reached England Henry was thoroughly alarmed for the safety of his kingdom. The brothers of Cardinal Pole, Sir Geoffrey Pole and Lord Montague, his mother, the Countess of Salisbury, Henry Courtenay, Marquis of Exeter, Lord Delawarr, Sir Edward Neville, Sir Nicholas Carew, and others were arrested, nominally on the charge of treason, but in reality because the Poles and the Courtenays were regarded as dangerous claimants to the English throne. With the exception of Sir Geoffrey Pole, who turned king's evidence, and the Countess of Salisbury who was kept in confinement for years, the others were put to death, and commissioners were sent into Cornwall to suppress all attempts at rebellion. During the spring of 1539 preparations for repelling an invasion were pushed forward with feverish activity, and so great was the loyalty of the vast body of the English people, and so hateful to them was the idea of a foreign invasion that many, who detested Henry's religious policy, came forward with their assistance. The fortresses along the coast and on the Scottish borders were strengthened, and replenished; the fleet was held in readiness in the Thames; and a volunteer army trained and equipped was raised to contest the progress of the invaders or at least to defend the capital. Negotiations with the Protestant princes of Germany for the conclusion of an offensive and defensive alliance were opened, and to prevent a commercial boycott a proclamation was issued that except in case of wool foreigners trading in England should be obliged to pay only the duties and customs imposed upon Englishmen. But as events showed there was no necessity for these warlike preparations. Francis I. could not dare to forward an ultimatum to England unless aided by the Emperor, and Charles V., confronted with a Turkish invasion and a Protestant rebellion in Germany, found it impossible to undertake an expedition against England. Nor was the project of a commercial boycott likely to be more successful. The Flemish merchants in the Netherlands were too deeply interested in English trade to permit them to look favourably upon a scheme that was likely to prove as ruinous to their own country as to England, particularly as the recent proclamation in favour of foreign merchants offered them a special opportunity for pushing their wares beyond the Channel.
A new Parliament was summoned to meet in April 1539. Cromwell, who was a past master in the art of selecting and managing such assemblies, took care that men should be returned who were likely to favour the projects of the king, and in this action he succeeded beyond expectation. An Act of Attainder was passed against Cardinal Pole and against the Countess of Salisbury, as well as against those who had been executed a short time before. As the /Ten Articles/ on religion published by the king and the improved version of these Articles known as the /Bishop's Book/ had not proved sufficient to suppress religious controversy in the kingdom or to prevent England from being regarded as a heretical nation on the Continent, Henry determined to lay down a fixed rule of faith, that should be accepted by all his subjects, and that should prove to the Emperor and to France that England, though separated from Rome, was still loyal to the Catholic religion. A commission of bishops was appointed to prepare a report on the principal points of faith that had been called in question, but the bishops were divided into two hostile camps. While Cranmer, Latimer, Shaxton, Goodrich, and Barlow were strongly Lutheran in their tendencies, Archbishop Lee of York, Gardiner of Winchester, Tunstall of Durham, and Aldrich of Carlisle were opposed to all dogmatic innovations. Though Cromwell supported secretly the reforming party it soon became known that Henry VIII. favoured the conservatives. As no agreement could be arrived at by the bishops, the Duke of Norfolk, who was rising rapidly at court as the champion of conservative interests, took the matter out of the hands of the bishops, by proposing to the House of Lords Six Articles dealing with the main points of difference between the Catholics and the Lutherans of the Continent. On these Articles the laymen did not venture to express any opinion, but Cranmer, Latimer and their friends held out till at last Henry appeared himself and "confounded them all with God's learning."
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