WHO should take the place of the repudiated queen? This was the question discussed at court and in the town. The Anglican Catholics delighted at the dismissal of the Protestant queen were determined to do all they possibly could to place on the throne a woman of their own party. Such a one was already found. The bishop of Winchester, for some time past, had frequently been holding feasts and entertainments for the king. To these he invited a young lady, who though of small stature was of elegant carriage, and had handsome features and a graceful figure and manners. She was a daughter of Lord Edmund Howard, and niece of the duke of Norfolk, the leader of the Catholic party. She had very soon attracted the attention of the king, who took increasing pleasure in her society. This occurred before the divorce of Anne. ‘It is a certain fact,’ says a contemporary, ‘that about the same time many citizens of London saw the king very frequently in the daytime, and sometimes at midnight, pass over to her On the river Thames in a little boat... . The citizens regarded all this not as a sign of divorcing the queen, but of adultery.’ Whether this supposition was well founded or not we cannot say. The king, when once he had decided on a separation from Anne of Cleves, had thought of her successor. He was quite determined, after his mischance, to be guided neither by his ministers, nor by his ambassadors, nor by political considerations, but solely by his own eyes, his own tastes, and the happiness he might hope for. Catherine pleased him very much; and his union with Anne was no sooner annulled than he proceeded to his fifth marriage. The nuptials were celebrated on the 8th of August, eleven days after the execution of Cromwell; and on the same day Catherine was presented at court as queen.
The king was charmed with Catherine Howard, his pretty young wife; she was so amiable, her intercourse was so pleasant, that he believed he had, after so many more or less unfortunate attempts, found his ideal at laSt. Her virtuous sentiments, the good behavior which she resolved to maintain, filled him with delight; and he was ever expressing his happiness in ‘having obtained such a jewel of womanhood.’ He had no foreboding of the terrible blow which was soon to shatter all this happiness.
The new queen was distinguished from the former chiefly by the difference in religion, with a corresponding difference in morality. The niece of the duke of Norfolk, Gardiner’s friend, was of course an adherent of the Catholic faith; and the Catholic party hailed her as at once the symbol and the instrument of reaction. They had had plenty of Protestant queens, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, and Anne of Cleves. Now that they had a Catholic queen, Catholicism — many said popery — would recover its power. Henry was so much enamored of his new spouse that, in honor of her, he once more became a fervent Catholic. He celebrated all the Saints’ days, frequently received the holy sacrament, and offered publicly thanksgiving to God for this happy union which he hoped to enjoy for a long time. The conversion of Henry, for the change was nothing less, brought with it a change of policy. He now abandoned France and the German Protestants in order to ally himself with the empire; and we find him ere long busily engaged in a project; for the marriage of his daughter Mary to the emperor Charles V. This project, however, came to nothing. Gardiner, Norfolk, and the other leaders of the Catholic party, rejoicing in the breeze which bore their vessel onward, set all sails to the wind. Just after the divorce of Anne of Cleves, and by way of a first boon to the Romish party, the penalties for impure living imposed on priests and nuns were mitigated. In contempt of the authority of Holy Scripture as well as of that of parliament itself, Henry got an Act passed by virtue of which every determination concerning faith, worship, and ceremonies, adopted with the sanction of the king by a Commission of archbishops, bishops, and other ecclesiastics nominated by him, was to be received, believed, and observed by the whole nation, just as if parliament had approved every one of these articles, even if this decree were contrary to former usages and ordinances. This was a proclamation of infallibility in England, for the benefit of the pope-king, under cover of which he might found a religion to his own taste. Cranmer had established in all cathedral churches professors entrusted with the teaching of Hebrew and Greek, in order that students might become well acquainted with sacred literature, and that the church might never want ministers capable of edifying it. But the enemies of the Reformation, who now enjoyed royal favor, lettered or abolished this institution and other similar ones, to the great damage both of religion and the country. The Catholic ceremonies, on the other hand, abrogated by Cranmer and Cromwell — the consecration of bread and of water, the embers with which the priest marked the foreheads of the faithful, the palm-branches blessed on Palm-Sunday, the tapers carried at Candlemas, and other like customs — were re-established; and penalties were imposed on those who should neglect them. A new edition of the Institution of a Christian Man explained to the people the king’s doctrine. It treated of the seven sacraments, the mass, transubstantiation, the salutation of the Virgin, and other doctrines of the kind to which conformity was required. At length, as if with a view to ensure the permanence of this system, Bonner was made bishop of London; and this man, who had been the most abject flatterer and servant of Cromwell during his life, turned about after his death and became the persecutor of those whom Cromwell had protected.
At the spectacle of this reaction, so marvelous in their eyes, the Anglican Catholics and even the papists broke out with joy, and awaited with impatience ‘the crowning of the edifice.’ England, in their view, was saved.
The church was triumphant. But while there was rejoicing on the one side, there was mourning on the other. The establishment of superstitious practices, the prospect of the penalties contained in the bloody statute of the Six Articles, penalties which had not yet been enforced but were on the point of being so spread, distress and alarm among the evangelicals. Those who did not add to their faith manly energy shut up their convictions in their own breasts, carefully abstained from conversation on religious subjects, and looked with suspicion upon every stranger, fearing that he might be one of Gardiner’s spies.
Bonner was active and eager, going forward in pursuit of his object and allowing nothing to check him. Cromwell and Cranmer, to whom he used to make fair professions, believed that he was capable of being of service to the Reformation, and therefore gave him promotion in ecclesiastical offices. But no sooner had Cromwell been put in prison than his signal deceitfulness showed itself. Grafton, who printed the Bible under the patronage of the vicegerent, having met Bonner, to whom Cromwell had introduced him, exclaimed, ‘How grieved I am to hear that lord Cromwell has been sent to the Tower!’ ‘It would have been much better,’ replied Bonner, ‘if he had been sent there long ago.’ Shortly after, Grafton was cited before the council, and was accused of having printed, by Cromwell’s order, certain suspected verses; and Bonner, for the purpose of aggravating his criminality, did not fail to report what the accused had said to him about the man who had been his own personal benefactor. The chancellor, however, a friend of Grafton, succeeded in saving the printer of the Bible.
Bonner indemnified himself for this disappointment by persecuting a great many citizens of London. He vented his rage especially on a poor youth of fifteen, ignorant and uncultivated, named Mekins, whom he accused of having spoken against the Eucharist and in favor of Barnes; but the grand jury found him ‘not guilty.’ Hereupon Bonner became furious. ‘You are perjured,’ he said to the jury. ‘The witnesses do not agree,’ they replied.
The one deposed that Mekins had said the sacrament was nothing but a ceremony; and the other that it was nothing but a signification.’ But did he not say, ‘exclaimed the bishop,’ that Barnes died holy?’ ‘But we cannot find these words,’ said the jury, ‘to be against the statute.’ ‘Upon which Bonner cursed and was in a great rage.’ ‘Retire again,’ he said, ‘consult together, and bring in the bill.’ Mekins was condemned to die. In vain was it shown that he was a poor ignorant creature and that he had done nothing worse than repeat what he had heard, and this without even understanding it. In vain, too, did his father and mother, who were in great distress, attempt to mitigate the harsh treatment to which he was subjected in prison. The poor lad was ready to say or do anything to escape being burnt. They made him speak well of Bonner and of his great charity towards him; they made him declare that he hated all heretics, and then they burnt him. This was only the beginning, and Bonner hoped by proceedings to prepare the way for greater triumph.
The persecution became more general. Two hundred and two persons were prosecuted in thirty-nine London parishes. Their offenses were such as the following — having read the Holy Scriptures aloud in the churches; having refused to carry palm-branches on Palm Sunday; having had one or other of their kinsfolk buried without the masses for the dead; having received Latimer, Barnes, Garret, or other evangelicals; having held religious meetings in their houses of an evening; having said that the sacrament was a good thing, but was not, as some asserted, God himself; having spoken much the Holy Scriptures; having declared that they better to hear a sermon than a mass; and other like offenses. Among the delinquents were the priests. One of these was accused of caused suspected persons to be invited to his by his beadle, without having the bells rung; of having preached without the orders of his superior others, of not making use of holy water, of not going in procession, etc. f374 The inquisition which was made at this time was rigorous that all the prisons of London would not hold the accused. They had to place some of them in the halls of various buildings. The case was embarrassing. The Catholics of the court were not alone in instigating the king to persecution.
Francis I. sent word to him by Wallop, ‘that it had well liked him to hear that his majesty was reforming the Lutheran sect, for that he was ever of opinion that no good could come of them but much evil.’ But there were other influences at court besides that of Francis I., Norfolk, and Gardiner. Lord Audley obtained the king’s sanction for the release of the prisoners, who, however, had to give their promise to appear at the Star Chamber on All Souls’ Day. Ultimately they were let alone.
But this does not mean that all the evangelicals were spared. Two ministers were at this time distinguished both for their high connections and for their faith and eloquence. One of these was the Scotchman, Seaton, chaplain to the duke of Suffolk. Preaching powerfully at St. Antholin’s church, in London he said, — ‘Of ourselves we can do nothing, says St. Paul; I pray thee, then, where is thy will? Art better than Paul, James, Peter, and all the apostles? Hast thou any more grace than they? Tell me now if they will be anything or nothing?... Paul said he could do nothing... . If you ask me when we will leave preaching only Christ, even when they do leave to preach that works do merit, and suffer Christ to be a whole satisfier and only mean to our justification.’ Seaton was condemned to bear a faggot at Paul’s Cross. Another minister, Dr. Crome, was a learned man and a favorite of the archbishop. This did not prevent the king from commanding him to preach that the sacrifice of the mass is useful both for the living and the dead. Crome preached, the Gospel in its simplicity at St. Paul’s on the appointed day, and contented himself with reading the king’s order after the sermon. He was immediately forbidden to preach. f377 Laymen were treated with greater severity. Bibles, it is known, had been placed in all the churches, and were fastened by chains to the pillars. A crowd of people used to gather about one of these pillars. On one occasion a young man of fine figure, possessed of great zeal, and gifted with a powerful voice, stood near the pillar holding the Bible in his hands, and reading it aloud so that all might hear him. His name was Porter. Bonner sharply rebuked him. ‘I trust I have done nothing against the law,’ said Porter; and this was true. But the bishop committed him to Newgate.
There this young Christian was put in irons; his legs, his arms, and his head were attached to the wall by means of an iron collar. One of his kinsmen, by a gift of money, induced the gaoler to deliver him from this punishment; and the favor they accorded him was to place him in the company of thieves and murderers. Porter exhorted them to repent, and taught them the way of salvation. The unhappy man was then cast into the deepest dungeon, was cruelly treated, and loaded with irons. Eight days afterwards he died. Cries and groans had been heard in the night.
Some said that he had been subjected to the torture called the devil, a horrible instrument by which, in three or four hours, the back and the whole body were torn in pieces. f378 Meanwhile, a far more formidable blow was preparing. Cromwell, the lay protector of the Reformation, had already been sacrificed; its ecclesiastical protector, Cranmer, must now fall in the same way. This second blow seemed easier than the first. Since the fall of Cromwell, men of the utmost moderation thought ‘there was no hope that reformed religion should any one week longer stand.’ All those of feeble character sided with the opposite party. Cranmer alone, amongst the bishops and the ecclesiastical commissioners of the king, still upheld evangelical truth. This obstacle in the way of the extension of English Catholicism must be utterly overthrown. A commission of from ten to twelve bishops and other competent men was formed to deliberate as to the means of inducing the primate to make common cause with them. Two bishops, Heath and Skyp, who enjoyed his confidence, ‘left him in the plain field.’ All these bishops and laymen proud of their victory, met at Lambeth palace, the abode of Cranmer, in order to prosecute their scheme. After a few words exchanged to no purpose, the two last-named bishops begged the archbishop to go down with them into the garden, and there, as they paced up and down the paths, they plied him with such reasons as they thought most urgent to induce ‘to leave off his overmuch constancy and to incline unto the king’s intent.’ One or two friends of the primate joined them, and they made use of all resources of their eloquence and their policy for purpose of shaking his resolution. But Cranmer was like the river which flowed quietly past his dwelling, which nothing can turn from its course.
He took the offensive. ‘You make much ado to have me come to your purpose,’ said he;... ‘beware, I say what you do. There is but one truth in our articles to be concluded upon, which if you do hide from highness... and then when the truth cannot hidden from him, his highness shall perceive ho, that you have dealt colorable with him... he never after trust, and credit you... . As you both my friends, so therefore I will you to beware thereof in time, and discharge your consciences in maintenance of the truth.’ f381 This was far from pacifying the bishops. Doctor London and other agents of the party which look up to Gardiner as its head, took in hand to go over diocese of the archbishop with a view to collecting all the sayings and all the facts, true or false, which they might turn to account as weapons against him. one place a conversation was reported to them; another a sermon was denounced; elsewhere neglected ritual was talked about. ‘Three of the preachers of the cathedral church,’ they were told, namely, Ridley, Drum and Scory, ‘are attacking the ceremonies of the church.’
Some of the canons, opponents of the primate brought various charges against him, and strove to depict his marriage in the most repulsive colors.
John Gostwick, whose accounts as treasurer of and of the court were not correct, accused Cranmer before the parliament of being the pastor of heretics. All these grievances were set forth in a memorial which was presented to the king. At the same time, the most influential members of the privy council declared to the king that the realm was infested with heresies; that thereby ‘horrible commotions and uproars’ might spring up, as had been the case in Germany; and that these calamities must be chiefly imputed to the archbishop of Canterbury, who by his own preaching and that of his chaplains had filled England with pernicious doctrines. ‘Who is his accuser?’ said the king. The lords replied: ‘Forasmuch as Cranmer is a councilor, no man durst take upon him to accuse him. But if it please your highness to commit him to the Tower for a time, there would be accusations and proofs enough against him.’ Well then,’ said the king, ‘I grant you leave to commit him tomorrow to the Tower for his trial.’ The enemies of the archbishop and of the Reformation went away well content. f382 Meanwhile, Henry VIII. began to reflect on the answer which he had given to his councilors. There is nothing to show that it was not made in earnest; but he foresaw that Cranmer’s death would leave an awkward void. When Cranmer was gone, how should he maintain the conflict with the pope and the papists, with whom he had no mind to be reconciled? The primate’s character and services came back to his memory. Time was passing. At midnight the king, unable to sleep, sent for Sir Antony Denny and said to him, ‘Go to Lambeth and command the archbishop to come forthwith to the court.’ Henry then, in a state of excitement, began to walk about, in one of the corridors of the palace, awaiting the arrival of Cranmer. At length the primate entered and the king said to him: ‘Ah, my lord of Canterbury, I can tell you news... It is determined by me and the council, that you to-morrow at nine o’clock shall be committed to the Tower, for that you and chaplains (as information is given us) have taught and preached, and thereby sown within the realm such a number of execrable heresies, that it is feared the whole realm being infected with them no small contentions and commotions will rise thereby my subjects,... and therefore the council have requested me, for the trial of this matter, to suffer to commit you to the Tower.’
The story of Cromwell was to be repeated, and this was the first step.
Nevertheless, Cranmer did not utter a word of opposition or supplication Kneeling down before the king, according to custom, he said: ‘I am content, if it please your grace, with all my heart to go thither at your highness’s commandment, and I most humbly thank your majesty that I may come to my trial, for there be that have many ways slandered me, and now way I hope to try myself not worthy of such a report.’ The king, touched by his uprightness, said: Oh Lord, what manner of man be you!
What simplicity is in you!... Do you not know... how many great enemies you have? Do you consider what an easy thing it is to procure three or four false knaves to witness against you? Think you to have better luck that way than Christ your master had? I see it, you will run headlong to your undoing, if I would suffer you. Your enemies shall not so prevail against you, for I have otherwise devised with myself to keep you out of their hands. Yet, notwithstanding, to-morrow when the council shall sit and send for you, resort unto them; and if in charging you with this matter they do commit you to the Tower, require of them... that you may have your accusers brought before them and that you may answer their accusations... If no entreaty or reasonable request will serve, then deliver unto them this ring’ — the king at the same time delivered his ring to the archbishop — and say unto them: If there be no remedy my lords, but that I must needs go to the Tower, then I revoke my cause from you and appeal to the king’s own person by this his token to you all. So soon as they shall see this my ring, they know it so well, that they shall understand that I have resumed the whole cause into mine own hands.’
The archbishop was so much moved by the king’s kindness that he had much ado to forbear tears.’ ‘Well,’ said the king, ‘go your ways, my and do as I have bidden you.’ The archbishop bent his knee in expression of his gratitude, and taking leave of the king returned to Lambeth before day.
On the morrow, about nine o’clock, the council sent an usher of the palace to summon the archbishop. He set out forthwith and presented himself at the door of the council chamber. But his colleagues, glad to complete the work which they had begun by putting the vicegerent to death, were not content with sending the primate to the scaffold; but were determined to subject Cranmer to various humiliations before the final catastrophe. The archbishop could not be let in, but was compelled to wait there among the pages, lackeys, and other serving-men. Doctor Butts, the king’s physician, happening to pass through the room, and observing how the archbishop was treated, went to the king and said: ‘My lord of Canterbury, if it please your grace, is well promoted; for now he is become a lackey or a servingman, for yonder he standeth this half-hour without the council-chamber door amongst them. ‘It is not so,’ said the king, ‘I trow, nor the council hath not so little discretion as to use the metropolitan of the realm in that sort, specially being one of their own number; but let them alone, and we shall hear more soon.’
At length the archbishop was admitted. He did as the king had bidden him; and when he saw that none of his statements or reasons were of any avail with the council, he presented the king’s ring, appealing; at the same time to his Majesty. Hereupon, the whole council was struck with astonishment; and the earl of Bedford, who was not one of Gardiner’s party, with a solemn oath exclaimed: ‘When you first began this matter, my lords, I told you what would come of it. Do you think that the king will suffer this man’s finger to ache? Much more, I warrant you, will he defend his life against brabbling varlets. You do but cumber yourselves to hear tales and fables against him.’ The members of the council immediately rose and carried the king’s ring to him, thus surrendering the matter, according to the usage of the time, into his hands.
When they had all come into the presence of the king, he said to them with a severe countenance: ‘Ah, my lords, I thought I had had wiser men of my council than now I find you. What discretion was this in you, thus to make the primate of the realm, and one of you in office, to wait at the council-chamber door amongst serving men?... You had no such commission of me so to handle him. I was content that you should try him as a councilor, and not as mean subject. But now I well perceive that things be done against him maliciously; and if some of you might have had your minds, you would have tried him to the uttermost. But I do you all to wit, and protest, that if a prince may be beholding unto his .subject’ (and here Henry laid his hand solemnly Upon his breast), ‘by the faith I owe to God, I take this man here, my lord of Canterbury, to be of all other a most faithful subject unto us, and one to .whom we are much beholding.’
The Catholic members of the council were disconcerted, confused, and unable to make any answer. One or two of them, however, took courage, made excuses, and assured the king that their object in trying the primate was to clear him of the calumnies of the world, and not to proceed against him maliciously. The king, who was not to be imposed upon by these hypocritical assertions, said: ‘Well, well, my lords, take him and well use him, as he is worthy to be, and make no more ado.’ All the lords then went up to Cranmer, and took him by the hand as if they had been his dearest friends. The archbishop, who was of a conciliatory disposition, forgave them. But the king sent to prison for a certain time some of the archbishop’s accusers; and he sent a message to Sir J. Gostwick, to the effect that he was a wicked varlet, and that unless he made his apologies to the metropolitan, he would make of him an example which should be a warning to all false accusers. These facts are creditable to Henry VIII. It was doubtless his aim to keep a certain middle course; and like many other despots he had happy intervals There were other evidences of this fact.
Four great Bibles appeared with his sanction in 1541; two of them bearing the name of Tonstall, the other that of Cranmer. Moreover, a sudden change approaching which was to alter the whole course things.
At the end of August 1541, Henry went to York, for the purpose of holding an interview with his nephew, the king of Scotland, whom he was anxious to persuade to declare himself independent of the pope. Henry made magnificent preparations for his reception; but Cardinal Beatoun prevented the young prince from going. This excited the bitterest discontent in Henry’s mind, and became afterwards the cause of a breach.
The queen, who accompanied him, endeavored to divert him from his vexation; and the king, more and more pleased with his marriage, after his return to London, made public thanksgiving on All Saints Day (October 24), that God had given him so amiable and excellent a wife, and even requested the bishop of Lincoln to join in his commendations of her. This excessive satisfaction was ere long to be interrupted. f387 During the king’s journey, one John Lascelles, who had a married sister living in the county of Sussex, paid her a visit. This woman had formerly been in the service of the old duchess of Norfolk, grandmother to the queen, and by whom Catherine had been brought up. In the course of conversation the brother and sister talked about this young lady whom the sister had known well, and who had now become wife to the king. The brother, ambitious for his sister’s advancement, said to her: ‘You ought to ask the queen to place you among her attendants.’ ‘I shall certainly not do so,’ she answered; ‘I cannot think of the queen but with Badness.’ ‘Why?’
She in so frivolous in character and in life.’ ‘How so?’ Then the woman related that Catherine had had improper intercourse with one of the officers of the ducal house of Norfolk named Francis Derham; and that she had been very familiar with another whose name was Mannock. Lascelles perceived the importance of these statements; and as he could not take upon himself the responsibility of concealing them, he determined to report them to the archbishop. The communication greatly embarrassed Cranmer. If he should keep the matter secret and it should afterwards become known, he would be ruined. Nor would he less certainly be ruined if he should divulge it, and then no proof be forthcoming. But what chiefly weighed upon his mind was the thought of the agitation which would be excited. To think of another wife of the king executed at the Tower! To think of his prince, his country, and perhaps also the work which was in process of accomplishment in England, becoming the objects of ridicule and perhaps of abhorrence! As he was unwilling to assume alone the responsibility imposed by so grave a communication, he opened his mind on the subject to lord chancellor and to other members of the privy council, to whom the king had entrusted the despatch of business during his absence. ‘They were troubled and inquieted.’ After having well weighed the reasons for and against, they came to the conclusion that, as this matter mainly concerned the king, Cranmer should inform him of it.
This was a task to undertake; and the archbishop, who was deeply affected, durst not venture to make viva voce so frightful a communication. He therefore put down in writing the report which had been made to him and had it laid before the king. The latter was terribly shocked; but as he tenderly loved his wife and had a high opinion of her virtue, he said it was a calumny. However, he privately assembled in his cabinet the lord privy seal, the lord admiral Sir Antony Brown, and Sir Thomas Wriothesley, a friend of the duke of Norfolk, who had taken a leading part in the divorce of Anne of Cleves, and the case before them, declaring at the same time that he did not believe in it. These lords privately examined Lascelles and his sister, who persisted in their depositions; next Mannock and Derham, who asserted the truth of their statements; the latter, moreover, mentioning three of the duchess of Norfolk’s women who likewise had knowledge of the facts. The members of the council made their report the king, who, pierced with grief, remained silent some time. At length he burst into tears, and commanded the duke of Norfolk, the queen’s uncle, the archbishop of Canterbury, the high chamberlain, and the bishop of Winchester, who had promoted the marriage, to go to Catherine and examine her. At first she denied everything. But when Cranmer was sent to her, on the evening of the first inquisition, the words of the primate, his admonitions, the reports which he made to her, which proved that her conduct perfectly well known, convinced her of the uselessness of her denials, and she then made full confession and even added some strange details. It does not appear that the queen felt it her duty to confess her offenses to God, but she resolved at least confess them to men. While making her confession she was in a state of so great agitation that the archbishop was in dread every moment of her losing her reason. He thought, according to her confessions, that she had been seduced by the infamous Derham, with the privity even of his own wife. The household of the duchess dowager of Norfolk appears to have been very disorderly. Cranmer wrote down or caused to be written this confession, and Catherine signed it. He had scarcely left the unhappy woman, when she fell into a state of raving delirium.
The king was thrown into great excitement by the news of Catherine’s confession of the reality of his misfortune. The very intensity of his love served to increase his trouble and his wrath; but, for all this, some feeling of pity remained in his heart. ‘Return to her,’ he said to Cranmer, ‘and first make use of the strongest expressions to give her a sense of the greatness of her offenses; secondly, state to her what the law provides in such cases, and what she must suffer for her crime; and lastly express to her my feelings of pity and forgiveness.’ Cranmer returned to Catherine and found her in a fit of passion so violent that he never remembered — so he wrote to the king — seeing any creature in such a state. The keepers told him that this vehement rage had continued from his departure from her. ‘It would have pitied,’ said the good archbishop, ‘any man’s heart in the world to have looked upon her.’ Indeed, she was almost in a frenzy; she was not without strength, but her strength was that of a frantic person. The archbishop had had too much experience in the cure of souls, to adopt the order prescribed by the king. He saw that if he spoke first to her of the crime and its punishment, he might throw her into some dangerous ecstasy, from which she could not be rescued, He therefore began with the last part of the royal message, and told the queen that his majesty’s mercy extended to her, and that he had compassion on her misfortune. Catherine hereupon lifted up her hands, became quiet, and gave utterance to the humblest thanksgivings to the king who showed her so much mercy. She became more self-possessed; continuing, however, to sob and weep. But ‘after a little pausing, she suddenly fell into a new rage, much worse than she was before.’ f391 Cranmer, desirous of delivering her from this frightful delirium, said to her: ‘Some new fantasy come into your head, madam; pray open it to me.
After a time, when her passion subsided and she was capable of speech, she wept freely and said: ‘Alas my lord, that I am alive! The fear of death grieved me not so much before, as doth now the remembrance of the king’s goodness. For when I remember how gracious and loving a prince I had, I cannot but sorrow; but this sudden mercy; and than I could have looked for, showed unto me so unworthy at this time, maketh mine offenses to appear before mine eyes much more heinous than they did before; and the more I consider the greatness of his mercy, the more I do sorrow in my heart that I should so misorder myself against his majesty.’ The fact that the compassion of the king touched Catherine more than the fear of a trial and of death, seemed to indicate a state of mind less wayward than one might have expected. But in vain Cranmer said to her everything calculated to pacify her; she remained a long time ‘in a great pang;’ and even fell soon into another frightful passion. At length, in the afternoon she came gradually to herself, and was in a quiet state till night. Cranmer, during this interval of relief, had ‘good communications, with her.’ He rejoiced at having brought her into some quiet. She told him that there had been a marriage contract between her and Derham, only verbal indeed, she said; but that nevertheless, though never announced and acknowledged, it had been consummated. She added that she had acted under compulsion of that man. At six o’clock, she had another fit of frenzy. ‘Ah,’ she said afterwards to Cranmer, ‘when the clock struck, I remembered the time when Master Heneage was wont to bring me knowledge of his Grace.’ In consequence of Cranmer’s report, Henry commanded that the queen should be conducted to Sion House, where two apartments were to be assigned to her and attendants nominated by the king. f393 Charges against Catherine were accumulating, She had taken into her service, as queen, the wretched Derham and, employing him as secretary, had often admitted him into her private apartments; and this the council regarded as evidence of adultery. She had also again attached to herself one of the women implicated in her first irregularities. At length it was proved that another gentleman, one Culpeper, a kinsman of her mother, had been introduced, in the king’s, absence on a journey, into the queen’s private apartments by Lady Rochford, at a suspicious hour and under circumstances which usually indicate crime. Culpeper confessed it.
Now began the condemnations and the executions; and Henry VIII. included in the trial not only those who were guilty but also the near relatives and servants of the queen, who, though well knowing her offenses, had not reported them to the king. On the 7th, the council determined that the duchess-dowager of Norfolk, grandmother to the queen, her uncle, Lord William Howard, her aunts Lady Howard and Lady Bridgewater, together with Alice Wilks, Catherine Tylney, Damport, Walgrave, Malin Tilney, Mary Lascelles, Bulmer, Ashby, Anne Haward and Margaret Benet were all guilty of not having revealed the crime of high treason, and that they should be prosecuted. On the 8th the king ordered that all these persons, Mary Lascelles excepted, should be committed to the Tower; and this was done. Lord William Howard was imprisoned on December 9; the Duchess of Norfolk on the 10th, and Lady Bridgewater on the 13th. All of them stoutly protested their ignorance and their innocence. On December 10, 1541, Culpeper was beheaded at Tyburn; and the same day Derham was hung, drawn and quartered. f396 Meanwhile, the Duke of Norfolk had taken refuge at Kenninghall, about eighty miles from London. On December 15, he wrote to the king, saying that by reason of the offenses committed by his family he found himself in the utmost perplexity. Twice in his letter he prostrates himself at the king’s feet;’ and he expresses ‘some hope that your Highness will not conceive any displeasure in your most gentle heart against me; that, God knoweth, never did think thought which might be to your discontentation.’ There did, however, remain something in the ‘most gentle heart’ of Henry VIII.
Parliament, met, by the king’s command on January 16, 1542, to give its attention to this business. Thus it was to the highest national assembly that the king entrusted the regulation of his domestic interests. On January 21, the chancellor introduced in the upper house a bill in which the king was requested not to trouble himself about the matter, considering that it might shorten his life; to declare guilty of high treason the queen and all her accomplices; and to condemn the queen and Lady Rochford to death. The bill passed both houses and received the royal assent. f398 On February 12, the queen and Lady Rochford, her accomplice, were taken to Tower Hill and beheaded. The queen, while she confessed the offenses which had preceded her marriage, protested to the last before God and his holy angels that she had never violated her faith to the king. But her previous offenses gave credibility to those which were subsequent to her marriage. With regard to Lady Rochford, the confidant of the queen, she was universally hated. People called to mind the fact that her calumnies had been the principle cause of the death of the innocent Anne Boleyn and of her own husband; and nobody was sorry for her. The king pardoned the old duchess of Norfolk and some others who had been prosecuted for not disclosing the crime.
These events did not call forth within the realm many remarks of a painful kind for Henry VIII.; but the great example of immorality presented by the English court lessened the esteem in which it was held in Europe. There was no lack of similar licentiousness in France and elsewhere; but there a veil was thrown over it, while in England it was public talk. Opinion afterwards became severe with regard to the king; and when his conduct to three of his former wives was remembered, people said of the disgrace cast on him by Catherine Howard, — He well deserved it. As for the Catholic party, which had given Catherine to Henry and had cherished the hope that by her influence it should achieve its final triumph it was greatly mortified, and it has been so down to our own time. Some Catholics, referring to these offenses, have tried to lessen the abhorrence and the shame of them by saying ‘that a conspiracy was hatched to bring the queen to the scaffold.’ But the evidence produced against Catherine is so clear that they have been obliged to alter their tone. Catholicism assuredly has had its virtuous princesses in abundance, but it must be acknowledged that She who became its patroness in England in 1541 did not do it much honour. f399 The elevation of Catherine Howard to the throne had been followed by an elevation of Catholicism in England; and the fall of this unhappy woman was followed by a depression of the party to which she belonged. This is our reason for dwelling on her history. These last events appear to have given offense at Rome. Pope Paul III. displayed more irritation than ever against Henry VIII. One of the king’s ambassadors at Venice wrote to him at this time, — ‘The bishop of Rome is earnestly at work to bring about a union of the emperor and the king of France for the ruin of your majesty;’ and the secret reflection that the count Ludovico de Rangon had been in England filled the pope with fury and rage. The zeal and the caution of Cranmer in the affair of Catherine had greatly increased the king’s liking for him. Cranmer, however, was in no haste to take advantage of this to get any bold measures passed in favor of the Reformation. He knew that any such attempt would have had a contrary result. But he lost no opportunity of diffusing in England the principles of the Reformation.
Parliament met on January 16, 1542, and the Convocation of the clergy on the 20th of the same month. On Friday, February 17, the translation of the Holy Scriptures was on the order of the day. The suppression of the English Bible was desired by the majority of the bishops, most of all by Gardiner, who, since the fall of Catherine Howard, felt more than ever the necessity of resisting reformation. As he was unable to re-establish at once the Vulgate as a whole, he endeavored to retain what he could of it in the translation, so that the people might not understand what they read and might abandon it altogether. He proposed therefore to keep in the English translation one hundred and two Latin words ‘for the sake of their native meaning and their dignity.’ Among these words were — Ecclesia, poenitentia, pontifex, holocaustum, simulacrum, episcopus, confessio, hostia, and others. In addition to the design which he entertained of preventing the people from understanding what they read, he had still another in regard to such as might understand any part of it. If he was desirous of retaining certain words, this was for the purpose of retaining certain dogmas. ‘Witness,’ says Fuller, ‘the word Penance, which according to vulgar sound, contrary to the original sense thereof, was a magazine of willworship, and brought in much gain to the Priests who were desirous to keep that word, because that word kept them.’ f401 Cranmer gave the king warning of the matter; and it was agreed that the bishops should have nothing to do with the translation of the Bible. On March 10 the archbishop informed Convocation that it was the king’s intention to have the translation examined by the two universities. The bishops were greatly annoyed; but Cranmer assured them that the king’s determination was to be carried out. All the prelates but two protested against this course. This decree, however, had no other object than to get rid of the bishops, for the universities were never consulted. This was obviously a blow struck at the Convocation of the clergy. f402 The change which resulted from the disgrace of the Howards was apparent even in the case of the enemies of the Reformation. Bonner, bishop of London, a man at once violent and fickle, who after the death of Cromwell had suddenly turned against the Reformation, after the death of Catherine made a show of turning in the contrary direction. He published various admonitions and injunctions for the guidance of his diocese. ‘It is very expedient,’ he said to the laity, ‘that whosoever repaireth hither [to the church] to read this book, or any such like, in any other place, he prepare himself chiefly and principally with all devotion, humility and quietness to be edified and made the better thereby.’ To the clergy he said: ‘Every parson, vicar and curate shall read over and diligently study every week one chapter of the Bible,... proceeding from chapter to chapter, from the beginning of the Gospel of Matthew, to the end of the New Testament... .
You are to instruct, teach and bring up in learning the best ye can all such children of your parishioners as shall come to you for the same; or at the least to teach them to read English,... so that they may thereby the better learn and know how to believe, how to pray, how to live to God’s pleasure.’ f403