AT the period which we have now reached, Henry VIII. displayed in a more and more marked manner that autocratic disposition which submits to control. He lifted up or cast down; he crowned men with honors or sent them to the scaffold. He pronounced things white or black as suited him, and was no other rule but his own absolute and power. A simple and modest princess was of the first to learn by experience that he was a in his family as well as in church and state.
Henry had now been. a widower for two years — a widower against his will; for immediately after the of Jane Seymour he had sought in almost all quarters for a wife, but he had failed. The two great sovereigns had just been reconciled with other, and the emperor had even cast a slight the king of England in the affair of the duchess of Milan. Henry was therefore now desirous of contracting a marriage which should give offense to and should at the same time Will for himself among the enemies of that potentate.
Cromwell, part, felt the ground tremble under his feet; Norfolk and Gardiner had confirmed their triumph by getting the Six Articles passed.
The vicegerent was therefore aiming to strengthen at once his own position and that of the Reformation, both of them impaired. Some have supposed it possible that his scheme was to unite the nations of the Germanic race, England, Germany, and the North, in support of the Reformation against the nations of the Latin race. We do not think that Cromwell went so far as this. A young Protestant princess, Anne, daughter of duke of Cleves and sister-in-law of the elector Saxony, who consequently possessed both the religious and the political qualifications looked for by the king and his minister, was proposed to Henry by his ambassadors on the Continent, and Cromwell immediately took the matter in hand. This union would bring the king of England into intimate relations with Protestant princes, and would ensure, he thought, triumph of the Reformation in England, for wives appeared to have great influence over least so long as they were in favor. Henry was, ever, seeking something more in his betrothed than diplomatic advantages. Cromwell knew this, and not fail to make use of that argument. ‘Everyone praises the beauty of this lady,’ he wrote to king (March 18, 1539),’and it is said that she passes all other women, even the duchess of Milan. She excels the latter both in the features of her countenance and in her whole figure as much as the sun excelleth the silver moon. Her portrait shall sent you. At the same time, everyone speaks of virtue, her chastity, her modesty, and the seriousness of her aspect.’
The portrait of Anne, painted by Holbein, was presented to the king, and it gave him the idea of a lady not only very beautiful, but of tall and majestic stature. He was charmed and hesitated no longer. On September 16, the Count Palatine of the Rhine and other ambassadors of the elector of Saxony and the duke of Cleves arrived at Windsor. Cromwell having announced them to the king, the latter desired his minister to put all other matters out of head, saving this only. The affair was arranged, and the ambassadors on their departure received magnificent presents.
The princess, whose father was dead and had been succeeded by his son, left Cleves at the close of the year 1539, in severe winter weather. Her suite numbered two hundred and sixty-three persons, among them a great many seigneurs, thirteen trumpeters, and two hundred and twenty-eight horses. The earl of Southampton, lord Howard, and four hundred noblemen and gentlemen, arrayed in damask, and velvet, went a mile out of Calais to escort her. The superb cortege entered the town, and came in sight of the English vessels decorated with a hundred banners of silk and gold, and tile marines all under arms. As soon as the princess appeared trumpets sounded, volleys of cannon succeeded each other, and so dense was the smoke that the members of the suite could no longer see each other. Everyone was in admiration. After a repast provided by Southampton, there were jousts and tourneys. The progress of the princess being delayed by rough weather, Southampton, aware of the impatience of his master, felt it necessary to write to him to remember ‘that neither the winds nor the seas obey the commands of men.’ He added that ‘the surpassing beauty of the princess did not fall short of what had been told him.’ Anne was of simple character and timid disposition, and very desirous of pleasing the king; and she dreaded making her appearance at the famous and sumptuous court of Henry VIII. Southampton having called the next day to pay his respects to her, she invited him to play with, her some game at cards which the king liked, with a view to her learning it and being able to play with his majesty. The earl took his seat at the card-table in company with Anne and lord William Howard, while other courtiers stood behind the princess and taught her the game. ‘I can assure your majesty,’ wrote the courtier, ‘that she plays with as much grace and dignity as any noble lady that I ever saw in my life.’ Anne, resolved on serving apprenticeship to the manners of the court, begged Southampton to return to sup with her, bringing with him some of the nobles, because she was ‘much desirous to see the manner and fashion of Englishmen sitting at their meat.’ The earl replied that this would be contrary to English custom; but at length he yielded to her wish. f297 As soon as the weather appeared more promising, the princess and her suite crossed the Channel and reached Dover, whence, in the midst of a violent storm, they proceeded to Canterbury. The bishop, accompanied by five bishops, received Anne in his episcopal town, in a high wind and heavy rain; the princess appearing as if she might be the sun which was to disperse the fogs and the darkness of England, and to bring about there tile triumph of evangelical light. Anne went on to Rochester, about half way between Canterbury and London. The king, unable to rest, eagerly longing to see his intended spouse, set out accompanied by his grand equerry, Sir Anthony Brown, and went incognito to Rochester. He was announced, and entered the room in which the princess was; but no sooner had he crossed the threshold and seen Anne, than he stopped confused and troubled. Never had any man been more deceived in his expectation. His imagination — that mistress of error and of falsehood, as it has been called — had depicted to him a beauty full of majesty and grace; and one glance had dispersed all his dreams. Anne was good and well-meaning, but rather weak-minded. Her features were coarse; her brown complexion was not at all like roses and lilies; she was very corpulent, and her manners were awkward. Henry had exquisite good taste; he could appreciate beauties and defects, especially in the figure, the bearing, and the attire of a woman.
Taste is not without its corresponding distaste. Instead of love, the king felt for Anne only repugnance and aversion. Struck with astonishment and alarm, he stood before her, amazed and silent. Moreover, any conversation would have been impossible for Anne was not acquainted with English nor with German. The betrothed couple could not even speak to each other.
Henry left the room, not having courage even to offer to the princess the handsome present which he brought for her. He threw himself into his bark, and returned gloomy and pensive to Greenwich. ‘He was woe,’ he said to himself, ‘that ever she came unto England.’ He deliberated with himself how to break it off. How could men in their senses have made him reports so false? He was glad, he said, that ‘he had kept himself from making any pact of bond with her.’ He thought that the matter was too far gone for him to break it off. ‘It would drive the duke her brother into the emperor or French king’s hands.’ The inconvenience of a flattering portrait had never been so deeply felt. It is not to be doubted that if at this very moment the emperor and the king of France had not been together at Paris, Henry would have immediately sent back the unfortunate young lady. f300 Shortly after the king’s arrival at Greenwich, Cromwell, the promoter of this unfortunate affair, presented himself to his majesty, not without fear, and inquired how he liked the lady Anne. The king replied, — ‘Nothing so well as she was spoken of. Had I known as much before as I do now, she should not have come within this realm.’ Then, with a deep sigh, he exclaimed, ‘What remedy? ‘I know none,’ said Cromwell, ‘and I am very sorry therefor.’ The agents of the king had given proof neither of intelligence nor of integrity in the matter. Hutton, who had written to Cromwell that the princess was not beautiful, and Southampton, who had had a good view of her at Calais, had both spoken to the king only of her beauty. On the following day Anne arrived at Greenwich; the king conducted her to the apartment assigned to her, and then retired to his own, very melancholy and in an ill humor. Cromwell again presented himself. ‘My lord,’ said the king, ‘say what they will, she is nothing so fair as she hath been reported... howbeit, she is well and seemly.’ ‘By my faith, sir,’ replied Cromwell, ‘ye say truth; but I think she has a queenly manner.’ ‘Call together the council,’ said Henry.
The princess made her entry into London in great pomp, and appeared at the palace. The court had heard of Henry’s disappointment and was in consternation. ‘Our king,’ they said, ‘could never marry such a queen.’ In default of speech, music would have been a means of communication; it speaks and moves. Henry and his courtiers were passionately fond of it; but Anne did not know a single note. She knew nothing but the ordinary occupations of women. In vain did Cromwell venture to say to his master that she had, nevertheless, a portly and fine person. Henry’s only thought was how to get rid of her. The marriage ceremony was deferred for a few days. The council took into consideration the question whether certain projects of union between Anne and the son of the duke of Lorraine did not form an obstacle to her marriage with Henry. But they found here no adequate ground of objection. ‘I am not well treated,’ the king said to Cromwell. Many were afraid of a rupture. The divorce between Henry and Catherine, the cruelty with which he had treated the innocent Anne Boleyn, had already given rise to so much discontent in Europe that people dreaded a fresh outbreak The cup was bitter, but he must drink it.
The 6th of January was positively fixed for the fatal nuptials. The king was heard the day before murmuring in a low tone with an accent of despair, — ‘It must be; it must be,’ and presently after, ‘I will put my neck under the yoke.’ He determined to live in a becoming way with the queen, An insuperable antipathy filled his heart, but courteous words were on his lips. In the morning the king said to Cromwell, —’If it were not for the great preparations that my states and people have made for her, and for fear of making a ruffle in the world, and of driving her brother into the hands of the emperor and the French king’s hands, being now together, I would never have married her.’ Cromwell’s position had been first shaken by his quarrel with Norfolk; it sustained a second shock from the. king’s disappointment. Henry blamed him for his misfortune, and Cromwell in vain laid the blame on Southampton. f302 On January 6 the marriage ceremony was performed at Greenwich by the archbishop, with much solemnity but also with great mournfulness. Henry comforted himself for his misfortune by the thought that he should be allied with the Protestant princes against the emperor, if only they would consent somewhat to modify their doctrine. On the morrow Cromwell again asked him how he liked the queen. Worse than ever, replied the king.
He continued, however, to testify to his wife the respect due to her. It was generally anticipated that this union would favorable to the Reformation.
Butler, in a letter Bullinger at Zurich, wrote: ‘The state and condition of that kingdom is much more sound and healthy since the marriage of the queen than it was before. She is an excellent woman, and one who fears God; great hopes are entertained of a very extensive propagation of the Gospel by her influence.’ And in another letter he says: ‘There is great hope that it [the kingdom] will ere long be in a much more healthy state; and this every good man is striving for in persevering prayer to God.’ f303 Religious books were publicly offered for sale, and many faithful ministers, particularly Barnes, freely preached the truth with much power, and no one troubled them. These good people were under a delusion. ‘The king,’ they said, ‘who is exceedingly merciful, would willingly desire the promotion of the truth.’ f305 But the Protestantism of the king of England displayed not so much in matters of faith as in affairs. He showed much irritation against emperor; and this gave rise to a characteristic conversation. Henry having instructed (January 1540) his ambassador in the Netherlands, Sir Thomas Wyatt, to make certain representations and demands various subjects which concerned his government, ‘I shall not interfere,’ drily replied the grand potentate. Wyatt having further made complaint that the English merchants in Spain were interfered with, by the Inquisition, the emperor laconically, answered that he knew nothing about it, and referred him to Granvella. Wyatt then having been so bold as to remark that the monarch answered him in an ungracious manner, Charles interrupted him and said that he ‘abused his words toward him.’ But the ambassador, who meant exactly to carry out his master’s orders, did not stop, but uttered the word ingratitude. Henry considered Charles ungrateful on the ground that he had greatly obliged him on one important occasion. In fact, the emperor Maximilian having offered to secure the empire for the king of England, the thought of encircling his brows with the crown of the Roman emperors inflamed the ardent imagination of the young prince, who was an enthusiast for the romantic traditions of the Ages. But, after the death of Maximilian, the Germans decided in favor of Charles. The latter then came to England, and the two kings met. Not very much is known of what they said in their interview; but whatever it might be, Henry yielded, and he believed that to his generosity Charles was indebted for the empire. ‘Ingratitude!’ replied the emperor to the ambassador. ‘From whom mean you to proceed that ingratitude?... I would ye knew I am not ingrate, and if the king your master hath done me a good turn I have done him as good or better. And I take it so, that I cannot be toward him ingrate; the inferior may be ingrate to the greater. But peradventure because the language is not your natural tongue, ye may mistake the term.’ ‘Sir,’ replied Wyatt, ‘I do not know that I misdo in using the term that I am commanded.’ The emperor was much moved. ‘Monsieur l’ambassadeur,’ he said, the king’s opinions be not always the best.’ ‘My master,’ Wyatt answered, ‘is a prince to give reason to God and to the world sufficient in his opinions.’ ‘It may be,’ Charles said coolly. His intentions Were evidently becoming more and more aggressive. Henry VIII. clearly perceived what his projects were. ‘Remember,’ said the king the same month to the of Norfolk, whom he had sent as envoy extra to France, ‘that Charles has it in his head to bring Christendom to a monarchy. For if he be that he is a superior to all kings, then it not to be doubted that he will by all ways and means... cause all those whom he so reputeth for inferiors to acknowledge his superiority in such as their estates should easily be altered at his’ These words show that Henry possessed political good sense than was usually attributed him; but they are not exactly a proof of his evangelical zeal.
He did something, however, in this direction. Representatives of the elector of Saxony and the of Hesse had accompanied Anne of Cleves to England. Henry received them kindly and enter them magnificently; he succeeded so well in them by his converse and his manners, that grave ambassadors sent word to their masters the nuptials of his majesty had been celebrated under joyful and sacred auspices. Nevertheless, they did not conceal from Henry VIII. that the elector and the landgrave ‘had been thrown into consternation, as well as many others, by an atrocious decree, the result of the artifices of certain bishops, partisans of Roman impiety.’ Thereupon the king; who wished by all means to gain over the evangelical princes, declared to their representatives ‘that his wisdom should soften the harshness of the decree, that he would even suspend its execution, and that there was nothing in the world that he more desired than to see the true doctrine of Christ shine in all churches f310 , and that he was determined always to set heavenly truth before the tradition of men.’
In consequence of these statements of the king the Wittenberg theologians sent to him some evangelical to which they requested his adherence, and which entirely opposed to those of Gardiner. We shall presently see how Henry proceeded to fulfill his promises.
Cromwell was anxious to take advantage of declarations to get the Gospel preached, and he knew men capable of preaching it. He relied most of all on Barnes, who had returned to England with the most flattering testimonials from the Witten reformers, and even from the elector of Saxony the king of Denmark. Barnes had been employed Henry in the negotiation of his marriage with of Cleves, and had thus contributed to this union, circumstance which did not greatly recommend him the king. There were, besides, Garret, curate of Saints’ Church, in Honeylane, of whom we have elsewhere spoken; Jerome, rector of Stepney, and others .
Bonner, who on his return from France was bishop of London, and who was afterwards a persecutor, designated these three evangelical ministers to preach at Paul’s Cross during Lent in 1540. Bonner, perhaps, still wished to curry favor Cromwell; or perhaps these preachers had been complained of, and the king wished to put them test. Barnes was to preach the first Sunday (Feb. 14); but Gardiner, foreboding danger, wished prevent him, and consequently sent word to that he should that day preach himself. Barnes resigned the pulpit to this powerful prelate, well aware what doctrine the three evangelicals proclaim at St. Paul’s, was determined to prevent them, and craftily to stir up prejudices against innovators and their innovations. Confutation, beforehand, he thought, is more useful than afterwards. It is better to be first than second; better to prevent evils than to cure them. He displayed ingenuity and wit. Many persons were attracted by the notion that the Reformation was a progress advance. He alleged that it was the contrary; taking for his text the words addressed to Jesus by the tempter on the pinnacle of the temple, Cast thyself down, he said: ‘Now-a-days the devil tempteth the world and biddeth them to cast themselves backward. There is no forward in the new teaching, but all backward. Now the devil teacheth, Come back from fasting, come back from praying, come back from confession, come back from weeping for thy sins; and all is backward, insomuch that must now learn to say their men must now learn to say that Pater-Noster backward.’ The bishop of Winchester censured with especial severity the evangelical preachers, on the ground that they taught the remission of sins through faith and not by works. Of old, he said, heaven was sold at Rome for a little money; now that we have with all that trumpery the devil hath invented another — he offers us heaven for nothing! A living faith which unites us to the Savior was counted nothing as nothing by Gardiner.
On the following Sunday Barnes preached. The lord mayor and Gardiner, side by side, and many other reporters, says the Chronicle, were present at the service. The preacher vigorously defended the doctrine, attacked by the bishop; but he indulged, like him, in attempts at wit, and even in a play upon his name, complaining of the gardener would not take away the tares from the garden of the Lord. This punning would anywhere have been offensive; it was doubly offensive in the pulpit in the presence of the bishop himself. ‘Punning,’ says one, ‘the poorest kind of would-be wit.’
Barnes, however, appears to have been conscious of his fault; for he closed his discourse he humbly begged Gardiner in the presence of all his hearers, to lift up his hand if he forgave him. Gardiner lifted up only a finger.
Garret preached energetically the next Sunday; but studiously avoided offending anyone. Lastly, Jerome preached, and taking up the passage relating to Sarah and Hagar in the epistle of St. Paul to the Galatians, maintained that all those who are born of Sarah, the lawful wife, that is, who have been regenerated by faith, are fully and positively justified. f315 Bishop Gardiner and his friends lost no time in to. the king of the ‘intolerable arrogance of Barnes.’ ‘A prelate of the kingdom to be thus at Paul’s Cross!’ said the former ambassador to France. Henry sent for the culprit to his cabinet. Barnes confessed that he had forgotten himself, and promised to be on his guard against such rash speeches in the future.
Jerome and Garret likewise were reprimanded; and the king commanded the three evangelists to read in public on the following Sunday, at the Easter service celebrated in the church of St. Mary’s Hospital, a retraction which was delivered to them in writing. They felt bound to submit unreservedly to the commands of the king. Barnes, therefore when tile 4th of April was come, ascended the pulpit and read word for word the official paper which had received. After this, turning to the bishop of Winchester, who was present by order of the king, he earnestly and respectfully begged his pardon. Having discharged, as he believed, his duty, first as a subject, then as a Christian, he felt bound to discharge that of a minister of God. He therefore preached powerfully the doctrine of salvation by grace, the very doctrine for which he was persecuted. The lord mayor, was sitting by Gardiner’s side, turned to the bishop and asked him whether he should send him from pulpit to ward for that his bold preaching contrary to his retraction. Garret and Jerome having followed the example of Barnes, the king gave orders that the three evangelists should be taken and confined in the Tower. ‘Three of our best ministers,’ wrote Butler to Bullinger, ‘are confined in the Tower of London. You may judge from this of our misfortunes.’ f317 At the same time that Henry VIII. was imprisoning the ministers of God’s Word, he was giving full liberty to the Word itself. It must be confessed that in his conflict with the pope he did make use of the Bible. He interpreted it, indeed, in his own way; but still he used it and helped to circulate it. This was a fact of importance for the Reformation in England.
The first Bible named after Cranmer appeared at this time (April 1540), with a preface by the archbishop in which he called upon ‘high and low, male and female, rich and poor, master and servant, to read and to meditate upon it in their own houses.’ A magnificent copy on vellum was presented to the king. In the same month appeared another Bible, printed smaller type; in July another great Bible; in November a third in folio, authorized by Henry VIII., ‘supreme head of his church.’ It would seem even that there was one more edition this year. At all events the New Testament was printed. The enemies the Bible were gaining in power.
Nevertheless the Bible was gaining the victory; and the luminary which was to enlighten the world was beginning to shed abroad its light everywhere.