From:History of the Reformation: Of the Sixteenth CenturyFrom:Book 19. The English New Testament and the Court of Rome
The English Envoys at Orvieto – Their Oration to the Pope – Clement Gains Time – The Envoys and Cardinal – Sanctorum Quatuor – Stratagem of the Pope – Knight Discovers it and Returns – The Transformations of Antichrist – The English Obtain a New Document – Fresh Stratagem – Demand of a Second Cardinal-legate – The Pope's New Expedient – End of the Camp
THE envoys of the king of England appeared in the character of the saviors of Rome. This was doubtless no stratagem; and Wolsey probably regarded that thought as coming from heaven, which had visited him during the weary sleepless night. The zeal of his agents increased. The pope was hardly set at liberty, before Knight and Da Casale appeared at the foot of the precipitous rock on which Orvieto is built, and demanded to be introduced to Clement VII. Nothing could be more compromising to the pontiff than such a visit. How could he appear on good terms with England, when Rome and all his states were still in the hands of Catherine's nephew? The pope's mind was utterly bewildered by the demand of the two envoys. He recovered however; to reject the powerful hand extended to him by England was not without its danger; and as he knew well how to bring a difficult negotiation to a successful conclusion, Clement regained confidence in his skill, and gave orders to introduce Henry's ambassadors.
Their discourse was not without eloquence. "Never was the church in a more critical position," said they. "The unmeasured ambition of the kings who claim to dispose of spiritual affairs at their own pleasure (this was aimed at Charles V) holds the apostolical bark suspended over an abyss. The only port open to it in the tempest is the favor of the august prince whom we represent, and who has always been the shield of the faith. But, alas! this monarch, the impregnable bulwark of your holiness, is himself the prey of tribulations almost equal to your own. His conscience torn by remorse, his crown without an heir, his kingdom without security, his people exposed once more to perpetual disorders... Nay, the whole Christian world given up to the most cruel discord.... Such are the consequences of a fatal union which God has marked with his displeasure... There are also," they added in a lower tone, "certain things of which his majesty cannot speak in his letter... certain incurable disorders under which the queen suffers, which will never permit the king to look upon her again as his wife. If your holiness puts an end to such wretchedness by annulling his unlawful marriage, you will attach his majesty by an indissoluble bond. Assistance, riches, armies, crown, and even life-the king our master is ready to employ all in the service of Rome. He stretches out his hand to you, most holy father... stretch out yours to him; by your union the church will be saved, and Europe will be saved with it.”
Clement was cruelly embarrassed. His policy consisted in holding the balance between the two princes, and he was now called upon to decide in favor of one of them. He began to regret that he had ever received Henry's ambassadors. "Consider my position," he said to them, "and entreat the king to wait until more favorable events leave me at liberty to act."-"What!" replied Knight proudly, "has not your holiness promised to consider his majesty's prayer? If you fail in your promise now, how can I persuade the king that you will keep it some future day?" Da Casale thought the time had come to strike a decisive blow. "What evils," he exclaimed, "what inevitable misfortunes your refusal will create!... The emperor thinks only of depriving the church of its power, and the king of England alone has sworn to maintain it." Then speaking lower, more slowly, and dwelling upon every word, he continued: "We fear that his majesty, reduced to such extremities... of the two evils will choose the least, and supported by the purity of his intentions, will do of his own authority what he now so respectfully demands... What should we see then?... I shudder at the thought... Let not your holiness indulge in a false security which will inevitably drag you into the abyss... Read all... remark all... divine all... take note of all... Most holy father, this is a question of life and death." And Da Casale's tone said more than his words.
Clement understood that a positive refusal would expose him to lose England. Placed between Henry and Charles, as between the hammer and the forge, he resolved to gain time. "Well then," he said to Knight and Da Casale, "I will do what you ask; but I am not familiar with the forms these dispensations require... I will consult the Cardinal Sanctorum Quatuor on the subject... and then will inform you.”
Knight and Da Casale, wishing to anticipate Clement VII, hastened to Lorenzo Pucci, cardinal Sanctorum Quatuor, and intimated to him that their master would know how to be grateful. The cardinal assured the deputies of his affection for Henry VIII, and they, in the fullness of their gratitude, laid before him the four documents which they were anxious to get executed. But the cardinal had hardly looked at the first-the proposal that Wolsey should decide the matter of the divorce in England-when he exclaimed: "Impossible!... a bull in such terms would cover with eternal disgrace not only his holiness and the king, but even the cardinal of York himself" The deputies were confounded, for Wolsey had ordered them to ask the pope for nothing but his signature. Recovering themselves, they rejoined: "All that we require is a competent commission." On his part, the pope wrote Henry a letter, in which he managed to say nothing.
Of the four required documents there were two on whose immediate despatch Knight and Da Casale insisted: these were the commission to pronounce the divorce, and the dispensation to contract a second marriage. The dispensation without the commission was of no value; this the pope knew well; accordingly he resolved to give the dispensation only. It was as if Charles had granted Clement when in prison permission to visit his cardinals, but denied him liberty to leave the castle of St. Angelo. It is in such a manner as this that a religious system transformed into a political system has recourse, when it is without power, to stratagem. "The commission," said the artful Medici to Knight, "must be corrected according to the style of our court; but here is the dispensation." Knight took the document; it was addressed to Henry VIII and ran thus: "We accord to you, in case your marriage with Catherine shall be declared null, free liberty to take another wife, provided she have not been the wife of your brother..." The Englishman was duped by the Italian. "To my poor judgment," he said, "this document will be of use to us." After this Clement appeared to concern himself solely about Knight's health, and suddenly manifested the greatest interest for him. "It is proper that you should hasten your departure," said he, "for it is necessary that you should travel at your ease. Gambara will follow you post, and bring the commission." Knight thus mystified, took leave of the pope, who got rid of Da Casale and Gambara in a similar manner. He then began to breathe once more. There was no diplomacy in Europe which Rome, even in its greatest weakness, could not easily dupe.
It had now become necessary to elude the commission. While the king's envoys were departing in good spirits, reckoning on the document that was to follow them, the general of the Spanish Observance reiterated to the pontiff in every tone: "Be careful to give no document authorizing the divorce, and above all, do not permit this affair to be judged in Henry's states." The cardinals drew up the document under the influence of De Angelis, and made it a masterpiece of insignificance. If good theology ennobles the heart, bad theology, so fertile in subtleties, imparts to the mind a skill by no means common; and hence the most celebrated diplomatists have often been churchmen. The act being thus drawn up, the pope despatched three copies, to Knight, to Da Casale, and to Gambara. Knight was near Bologna when the courier overtook him. He was stupified, and taking post-horses, returned with all haste to Orvieto. Gambara proceeded through France to England with the useless dispensation which the pope had granted.
Knight had thought to meet with more good faith at the court of the pope than with kings, and he had been outwitted. What would Wolsey and Henry say of his folly? His wounded self-esteem began to make him believe all that Tyndale and Luther said of the popedom. The former had just published the Obedience of a Christian Man, and the Parable of the Wicked Mammon, in which he represented Rome as one of the transformations of Antichrist. "Antichrist," said he in the latter treatise, "is not a man that should suddenly appear with wonders; he is a spiritual thing, who was in the Old Testament, and also in the time of Christ and the apostles, and is now, and shall (I doubt not) endure till the world's end. His nature is (when he is overcome with the word of God) to go out of the play for a season, and to disguise himself, and then to come in again with a new name and new raiment. The Scribes and Pharisees in the gospel were very antichrists; popes, cardinals, and bishops have gotten their new names, but the thing is all one. Even so now, when we have uttered [detected] him, he will change himself once more, and turn himself into an angel of light. Already the beast, seeing himself now to be sought for, roareth and seeketh new holes to hide himself in, and changeth himself into a thousand fashions.” This idea, paradoxical at first, gradually made its way into men's minds. The Romans, by their practices, familiarized the English to the somewhat coarse descriptions of the reformers. England was to have many such lessons, and thus by degrees learn to set Rome aside for the sake of her own glory and prosperity.
Knight and Da Casale reached Orvieto about the same time. Clement replied with sighs: "Alas! I am the emperor's prisoner. The imperialists are every day pillaging towns and castles in our neighborhood.... Wretch that I am! I have not a friend except the king your master, and he is far away.... If I should do anything now to displease Charles, I am a lost man... To sign the commission would be to sign an eternal rupture with him." But Knight and Da Casale pleaded so effectually with Cardinal Sanctorum Quatuor, and so pressed Clement, that the pontiff, without the knowledge of the Spaniard De Angelis, gave them a more satisfactory document, but not such as Wolsey required. "In giving you this commission," said the pope, "I am giving away my liberty, and perhaps my life. I listen not to the voice of prudence, but to that of affection only. I confide in the generosity of the king of England, he is the master of my destiny." He then began to weep, seemed ready to faint. Knight, forgetting his vexation, promised Clement that the king would do everything to save him. -"Ah!" said the pope, "there is one effectual means."-"What is that?" inquired Henry's agents. -"M. Lautrec, who says daily that he will come, but never does," replied Clement, "has only to bring the French army promptly before the gates of Orvieto; then I could excuse myself by saying that he constrained me to sign the commission." -"Nothing is easier," replied the envoys, "we will go and hasten his arrival.”
Clement was not even now at ease. The safety of the Roman church troubled him not less than his own... Charles might discover the trick, and make the popedom suffer for it. There was danger on all sides. If the English spoke of independence, did not the emperor threaten a reform?... The Catholic princes, said the papal councilors, are capable, without perhaps a single exception, of supporting the cause of Luther to gratify a criminal ambition. The pope reflected, and withdrawing his word, promised to give the commission when Lautrec was under the walls of Orvieto; but the English agents insisted on having it immediately. To conciliate all, it was agreed that the pope should give the required document at once, but as soon as the French army arrived, he should send another copy bearing the date of the day on which he saw Lautrec. "Beseech the king to keep secret the commission I give you," said Clement VII to Knight; "if he begins the process immediately he receives it, I am undone forever." The pope thus gave permission to act, on condition of not acting at all. Knight took leave on the 1st of January 1528; he promised all the pontiff desired, and then, as if fearing some fresh difficulty, he departed the same day. Da Casale, on his side, after having offered the Cardinal Sanctorum Quatuor a gift of 4,000 crowns, which he refused, repaired to Lautrec, to beg him to constrain the pope to sign a document which was already on its way to England.
But while the business seemed to be clearing at Rome, it was becoming more complicated in London. The king's project got wind, and Catherine gave way to the liveliest sorrow. "I shall protest," said she, "against the commission given to the cardinal of York. Is he not the king's subject, the vile flatterer of his pleasures?" Catherine did not resist alone; the people, who hated the cardinal, could not with pleasure see him invested with such authority. To obviate this inconvenience, Henry resolved to ask the pope for another cardinal, who should be empowered to terminate the affair in London with or without Wolsey.
The latter agreed to the measure: it is even possible that he was the first to suggest it, for he feared to bear alone the responsibility of so hateful an inquiry. Accordingly, on the 27th of December, he wrote to the king's agents at Rome: "Procure the envoy of a legate, and particularly of an able, easy, manageable legate... desirous of meriting the king's favor, Campeggio for instance. You will earnestly request the cardinal who may be selected, to travel with all diligence, and you will assure him that the king will behave liberally towards him."
Knight reached Asti on the 10th of January, where he found letters with fresh orders. This was another check: at one time it is the pope who compels him to retrograde, at another it is the king. Henry's unlucky valetudinarian secretary, a man very susceptible of fatigue, and already wearied and exhausted by ten painful journeys, was in a very bad humor. He determined to permit Gambara to carry the two documents to England; to commission Da Casale, who had not left the pope's neighborhood, to solicit the despatch of the legate; and as regarded himself, to go and wait for further orders at Turin: -"If it be thought good unto the king's highness that I do return unto Orvieto, I shall do as much as my poor carcass may endure." When Da Casale reached Bologna, he pressed Lautrec to go and constrain the pontiff to sign the act which Gambara was already bearing to England. On receiving the new despatches he returned in all haste to Orvieto, and the pope was very much alarmed when he heard of his arrival. He had feared to grant a simple paper, destined to remain secret; and now he is required to send a prince of the church! Will Henry never be satisfied? "The mission you desire would be full of dangers," he replied; "but we have discovered another means, alone calculated to finish this business. Mind you do not say that I pointed it out to you," added the pope in a mysterious tone; "but that it was suggested by Cardinal Sanctorum Quatuor and Simonetta." Da Casale was all attention. "There is not a doctor in the world who can better decide on this matter, and on its most private circumstances, than the king himself. If therefore he sincerely believes that Catherine had really become his brother's wife, let him empower the cardinal of York to pronounce the divorce, and let him take another wife without any further ceremony; he can then afterward demand the confirmation of the consistory. The affair being concluded in this way, I will take the rest upon myself."-"But," said Da Casale, somewhat dissatisfied with this new intrigue, "I must fulfill my mission, and the king demands a legate."-"And whom shall I send?" asked Clement. "Da Monte? he cannot move. De Caesis? he is at Naples. Ara Coeli? he has the gout. Piccolomini? he is of the imperial party... Campeggio would be the best, but he is at Rome, where he supplies my place, and cannot leave without peril to the church."... And then with some emotion he added, "I throw myself into his majesty's arms. The emperor will never forgive what I am doing. If he hears of it he will summon me before his council; I shall have no rest until he has deprived me of my throne and my life."
Da Casale hastened to forward to London the result of the conference. Clement being unable to untie the knot, requested Henry to cut it. Will this prince hesitate to employ so easy a means, the pope (Clement declared it himself) being willing to ratify everything?
Here closes Henry's first campaign in the territories of the popedom. We shall now see the results of so many efforts.
From:History of the Reformation: Of the Sixteenth CenturyFrom:Book 19. The English New Testament and the Court of Rome
Disappointment in England – War Declared Against Charles V – Wolsey Desires to Get Him Deposed by the Pope – A New Scheme – Embassy of Fox and Gardiner – Their Arrival at Orvieto – Their First Interview with Clement – The Pope Reads a Treatise by Henry – Gardiner's Threats and Clement's Promise – The Modern Fabius – Fresh Interview and Menaces – The Pope Has Not the Key – Gardiner's Proposition – Difficulties and Delays of the Cardinals – Gardiner's Last Blows – Reverses of Charles V in Italy – The Pope's Terror and Concession – The Commission Granted – Wolsey Demands the Engagement – A Loophole – The Pope's Distress
NEVER was disappointment more complete than that felt by Henry and Wolsey after the arrival of Gambara with the commission; the king was angry, the cardinal vexed. What Clement called the sacrifice of his life was in reality but a sheet of paper fit only to be thrown into the fire. "This commission is of no value," said Wolsey. -"And even to put it into execution," added Henry, "we must wait until the imperialists have quitted Italy! The pope is putting us off to the Greek calends."-"His holiness," observed the cardinal, "does not bind himself to pronounce the divorce; the queen will therefore appeal from our judgment."-"And even if the pope had bound himself," added the king, "it would be sufficient for the emperor to smile upon him, to make him retract what he had promised."-"It is all a cheat and a mockery," concluded both king and minister.
What was to be done next? The only way to make Clement ours, thought Wolsey, is to get rid of Charles; it is time his pride was brought down. Accordingly, on the 21st of January 1528, France and England declared hostilities against the Emperor. When Charles heard of this proceeding he exclaimed: "I know the hand that has flung the torch of war into the midst of Europe. My crime is not having placed the cardinal of York on St. Peter's throne.”
A mere declaration of war was not enough for Wolsey; the bishop of Bayonne, ambassador from France, seeing him one day somewhat excited, whispered in his ear: "In former times popes have deposed emperors for smaller offenses." Charles's deposition would have delivered the king of France from a troublesome rival; but Du Bellay, fearing to take the initiative in so bold an enterprise, suggested the idea to the cardinal. Wolsey reflected: such a thought had never before occurred to him. Taking the ambassador aside to a window, he there swore stoutly, said Du Bellay, that he should be delighted to use all his influence to get Charles deposed by the pope. "No one is more likely than yourself," replied the bishop, "to induce Clement to do it."-"I will use all my credit," rejoined Wolsey, and the two priests separated. This bright idea the cardinal never forgot, Charles had robbed him of the tiara; he will retaliate by depriving Charles of his crown. An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. Staffileo, dean of the Rota, was then in London, and, still burning with resentment against the author of the Sack of Rome, he favorably received the suggestions Wolsey made to him; and, finally, the envoy from John Zapolya, king-elect of Hungary, supported the project. But the kings of France and England were not so easily induced to put the thrones of kings at the disposal of the priests. It appears, however, that the pope was sounded on the subject and if the emperor had been beaten in Italy, it is probable that the bull would have been fulminated against him. His sword preserved his crown, and the plot of the two bishops failed.
The king's councilors began to seek for less heroic means. "We must prosecute the affair at Rome," said some. -"No," said others, "in England. The pope is too much afraid of the emperor to pronounce the divorce in person."-"If the pope fears the emperor more than the king of England," exclaimed the proud Tudor, "we shall find some other way to set him at ease." Thus, at the first contradiction, Henry placed his hand on his sword, and threatened to sever the ties which bound his kingdom to the throne of the Italian pontiff.
“I have hit it!" said Wolsey at length; "we must combine the two plans-judge the affair in London, and at the same time bind the pontiff at Rome." And then the able cardinal proposed the draft of a bull, by which the pope, delegating his authority to two legates, should declare that the acts of that delegation should have a perpetual effect, notwithstanding any contrary decrees that might subsequently emanate from his infallible authority. A new mission was decided upon for the accomplishment of this bold design.
Wolsey, annoyed by the folly of Knight and his colleagues, desired men of another stamp. He therefore cast his eyes on his own secretary, Stephen Gardiner, an active man, intelligent, supple, and crafty, a learned canonist, desirous of the king's favor, and, above all, a good Romanist, which at Rome was not without its advantage. Gardiner was in small the living image of his master; and hence the cardinal sometimes styled him the half of himself. Edward Fox, the chief almoner, was joined with him-a moderate, influential man, a particular friend of Henry's, and a zealous advocate of the divorce. Fox was named first in the commission; but it was agreed that Gardiner should be the real head of the embassy. "Repeat without ceasing," Wolsey told them, "that his majesty cannot do otherwise than separate from the queen. Attack each one on his weak side. Declare to the pope that the king promises to defend him against the emperor; and to the cardinals that their services will be nobly rewarded. If that does not suffice, let the energy of your words be such as to excite a wholesome fear in the pontiff.”
Fox and Gardiner, after a gracious reception at Paris (23rd February) by Francis I, arrived at Orvieto on the 20th of March, after many perils, and with their dress in such disorder, that no one could have taken them for ambassadors of Henry VIII. "What a city!" they exclaimed, as they passed through its streets; "what ruins, what misery! It is indeed truly called Orvieto (urbs vetus)!" The state of the town gave them no very grand idea of the state of the popedom, and they imagined that with a pontiff so poorly lodged, their negotiation could not be otherwise than easy. "I give you my house," said Da Casale, to whom they went, "my room and my own bed;" and as they made some objections, he added: "It is not possible to lodge you elsewhere; I have even been forced to borrow what was necessary to receive you." Da Casale, pressing them to change their clothes, which were still dripping (they had just crossed a river on their mules), they replied, that being obliged to travel post, they had not been able to bring a change of raiment. "Alas!" said Casale, "what is to be done? there are few persons in Orvieto who have more garments than one; even the shopkeepers have no cloth for sale; this town is quite a prison. People say the pope is at liberty here. A pretty liberty indeed! Want, impure air, wretched lodging, and a thousand other inconveniences, keep the holy father closer than when he was in the Castle of St. Angelo. Accordingly, he told me the other day, it was better to be in captivity at Rome than at Liberty here."
In two days, however, they managed to procure some new clothing; and being now in a condition to show themselves, Henry's agents were admitted to an after-dinner audience on Monday the 22nd of March (1528).
Da Casale conducted them to an old building in ruins. "This is where his holiness lives," he said. They looked at one another with astonishment, and crossing the rubbish lying about, passed through three chambers whose ceilings had fallen in, whose windows were curtainless, and in which thirty persons, "riffraff were standing against the bare walls for a garnishment." This was the pope's court.
At length the ambassadors reached the pontiff's room, and placed Henry's letters in his hands. "Your holiness," said Gardiner, "when sending the king a dispensation, was pleased to add, that if this document were not sufficient, you would willingly give a better. It is that favor the king now desires." The pope with embarrassment strove to soften his refusal. "I am informed," he said, "that the king is led on in this affair by a secret inclination, and that the lady he loves is far from being worthy of him." Gardiner replied with firmness: "The king truly desires to marry again after the divorce, that he may have an heir to the crown; but the woman he proposes to take is animated by the noblest sentiments; the cardinal of York and all England do homage to her virtues." The pope appeared convinced. "Besides," continued Gardiner, "the king has written a book on the motives of his divorce."-"Good! come and read it to me tomorrow," rejoined Clement.
The next day the English envoys had hardly appeared before Clement took Henry's book, ran over it as he walked up and down the room, and then seating himself on a long bench covered with an old carpet, "not worth twenty pence," says an annalist, he read the book aloud. He counted the number of arguments, made objections as if Henry were present, and piled them one upon another without waiting for an answer. "The marriages forbidden in Leviticus," said he, in a short and quick tone of voice, "are permitted in Deuteronomy; now Deuteronomy coming after Leviticus, we are bound by the latter. The honor of Catherine and the emperor is at stake, and the divorce would give rise to a terrible war." The pope continued speaking, and whenever the Englishmen attempted to reply, he bade them be silent, and kept on reading. "It is an excellent book," said he, however, in a courteous tone, when he had ended; "I shall keep it to read over again at my leisure." Gardiner then presenting a draft of the commission which Henry required, Clement made answer: "It is too late to look at it now; leave it with me."-"But we are in haste," added Gardiner. "Yes, yes, I know it," said the pope. All his efforts tended to protract the business.
On the 28th of March, the ambassadors were conducted to the room in which the pope slept; the cardinals Sanctorum Quatuor and De Monte, as well as the councilor of the Rota, Simonetta, were then with him. Chairs were arranged in a semicircle. "Be seated," said Clement, who stood in the middle. "Master Gardiner, now tell me what you want."-"There is no question between us but one of time. You promised to ratify the divorce, as soon as it was pronounced; and we require you to do before what you engage to do after. What is right on one day, must be right on another." Then, raising his voice, the Englishman added: "If his majesty perceives that no more respect is paid to him than to a common man, he will have recourse to a remedy which I will not name, but which will not fail in its effect.”
The pope and his councilors looked at one another in silence; they had understood him. The imperious Gardiner, remarking the effect which he had produced, then added in an absolute tone: "We have our instructions, and are determined to keep to them."-"I am ready to do everything compatible with my honor," exclaimed Clement, in alarm. -"What your honor would not permit you to grant," said the proud ambassador, "the honor of the king, my master, would not permit him to ask." Gardiner's language became more imperative every minute. "Well, then," said Clement, driven to extremity, "I will do what the king demands, and if the emperor is angry, I cannot help it." The interview, which had commenced with a storm, finished with a gleam of sunshine.
That bright gleam soon disappeared: Clement, who imagined he saw in Henry a Hannibal at war with Rome, wished to play the temporizer, the Fabius Cunctator."His dat qui cito dat," (He gives twice who gives quickly.) said Gardiner sharply, who observed this maneuver.-"It is a question of law," replied the pope, "and as I am very ignorant in these matters, I must give the doctors of the canon law the necessary time to make it all clear."-"By his delays Fabius Maximus saved Rome," rejoined Gardiner; "you will destroy it by yours." -"Alas!" exclaimed the pope, "if I say the king is right, I shall have to go back to prison." -"When truth is concerned," said the ambassador, "of what consequence are the opinions of men?" Gardiner was speaking at his ease, but Clement found that the castle of St. Angelo was not without weight in the balance. "You may be sure that I shall do everything for the best," replied the modern Fabius. With these words the conference terminated.
Such were the struggles of England with the popedom-struggles which were to end in a definitive rupture. Gardiner knew that he had a skillful adversary to deal with; too cunning to allow himself to be irritated, he coolly resolved to frighten the pontiff: that was in his instructions. On the Friday before Palm Sunday, he was ushered into the pope's closet; there he found Clement attended by De Monte, Sanctorum Quatuor, Simonetta, Staffileo, Paul, auditor of the Rota, and Gambara. "It is impossible," said the cardinals, "to grant a decretal commission in which the pope pronounces de jure in favor of the divorce, with a promise of confirmation de facto." Gardiner insisted; but no persuasion, "neither dulce nor poynante," could move the pontiff. The envoy judged the moment had come to discharge his strongest battery. "O perverse race," said he to the pontiff's ministers, "instead of being harmless as doves, you are as full of dissimulation and malice as serpents; promising everything but performing nothing. England will be driven to believe that God has taken from you the key of knowledge, and that the laws of the popes, ambiguous to the popes themselves, are only fit to be cast into the fire. The king has hitherto restrained his people, impatient of the Romish yoke; but he will now give them the rein." A long and gloomy silence followed. Then the Englishman, suddenly changing his tone, softly approached Clement, who had left his seat, and conjured him in a low voice to consider carefully what justice required of him. "Alas!" replied Clement, "I tell you again, I am ignorant in these matters. According to the maxims of the canon law the pope carries all laws in the tablets of his heart, but unfortunately God has never given me the key that opens them." As he could not escape by silence, Clement retreated under cover of a jest, and heedlessly pronounced the condemnation of the popedom. If he had never received the famous key, there was no reason why other pontiffs should have possessed it. The next day he found another loophole; for when the ambassadors told him that the king would carry on the matter without him, he sighed, drew out his handkerchief, and said as he wiped his eyes: "Would to God that I were dead!" Clement employed tears as a political engine.
“We shall not get the decretal commission," (that which pronounced the divorce) said Fox and Gardiner after this, "and it is not really necessary. Let us demand the general commission (authorizing the legates to pronounce it), and exact a promise that shall supply the place of the act which is denied us." Clement, who was ready to make all the promises in the world, swore to ratify the sentence of the legates without delay. Fox and Gardiner then presented to Simonetta a draft of the act required. The dean, after reading it, returned it to the envoys, saying, "It is very well, I think, except the end; show it Sanctorum Quatuor." The next morning they carried the draft to that cardinal: "How long has it been the rule for the patient to write the prescription? I always thought it was the physician's business."-"No one knows the disease so well as the patient," replied Gardiner: "and this disease may be of such a nature that the doctor cannot prescribe the remedy without taking the patient's advice." Sanctorum Quatuor read the prescription, and then returned it, saying: "It is not bad, with the exception of the beginning.
Take the draft to De Monte and the other councilors." The latter liked neither beginning, middle, nor end. "We will send for you this evening," said De Monte.
Three of four days having elapsed, Henry's envoys again waited on the pope, who showed them the draft prepared by his councilors. Gardiner remarking in it additions, retrenchments, and corrections, threw it disdainfully from him, and said coldly: "Your holiness is deceiving us; you have selected these men to be the instruments of your duplicity." Clement, in alarm, sent for Simonetta; and after a warm discussion, the envoys, more discontented than ever, quitted the pope at one in the morning.
The night brings wisdom. "I only desire two little words more in the commission," said Gardiner next day to Clement and Simonetta. The pope requested Simonetta to wait upon the cardinals immediately; the latter sent word that they were at dinner, and adjourned the business until the morrow.
When Gardiner heard of this epicurean message, he thought the time had come for striking a decisive blow. A new tragedy began. "We are deceived," exclaimed he "you are laughing at us. This is not the way to gain the favor of princes. Water mixed with wine spoils it; your corrections nullify our document. These ignorant and suspicious priests have spelled over our draft as if a scorpion was hidden under every word. -You made us come to Italy," said he to Staffileo and Gambara, "like hawks which the fowler lures by holding out to them a piece of meat; and now that we are here, the bait has disappeared, and, instead of giving us what we sought, you pretend to lull us to sleep by the sweet voice of the sirens." Then, turning to Clement, the English envoy added, "Your holiness will have to answer for this." The pope sighed and wiped away his tears. "It was God's pleasure," continued Gardiner, whose tone became more threatening every minute, "that we should see with our own eyes the disposition of the people here. It is time to have done. Henry is not an ordinary prince-bear in mind that you are insulting the defender of the faith... You are going to lose the favor of the only monarch who protects you, and the apostolical chair, already tottering, will fall into dust, and disappear entirely amidst the applause of all Christendom.”
Gardiner paused. The pope was moved. The state of Italy seemed to confirm but too strongly the sinister predictions of the envoy of Henry VIII. The imperial troops, terrified and pursued by Lautrec, had abandoned Rome and retired on Naples. The French general was following up this wretched army of Charles V, decimated by pestilence and debauchery; Doria, at the head of his galleys, had destroyed the Spanish fleet; Gaeta and Naples only were left to the imperialists; and Lautrec, who was besieging the latter place, wrote to Henry on the 26th of August that all would soon be over. The timid Clement VII had attentively watched all these catastrophes. Accordingly, Gardiner had hardly denounced the danger which threatened the popedom, before he turned pale with affright, rose from his seat, stretched out his arms in terror, as if he had desired to repel some monster ready to devour him, and exclaimed, "Write, write! Insert whatever words you please." As he said this, he paced up and down the room, raising his hands to heaven and sighing deeply, while Fox and Gardiner, standing motionless, looked on in silence. A tempestuous wind seemed to be stirring the depths of the abyss; the ambassadors waited until the storm was abated. At last Clement recovered himself, made a few trivial excuses, and dismissed Henry's ministers. It was an hour past midnight.
It was neither morality, nor religion, nor even the laws of the church which led Clement to refuse the divorce; ambition and fear were his only motives. He would have desired that Henry should first constrain the emperor to restore him his territories. But the king of England, who felt himself unable to protect the pope against Charles, required, however, this unhappy pontiff to provoke the emperor's anger. Clement reaped the fruits of that fatal system which had transformed the church of Jesus Christ into a pitiful combination of policy and cunning.
On the next day, the tempest having thoroughly abated, Sanctorum Quatuor corrected the commission. It was signed, completed by a leaden seal attached to a piece of string, and then handed to Gardiner, who read it. The bull was addressed to Wolsey, and "authorized him, in case he should acknowledge the nullity of Henry's marriage, to pronounce judicially the sentence of divorce, but without noise or display of judgment; for that purpose he might take any English bishop for his colleague."-"All that we can do you can do," said the pope. "We are very doubtful," said the importunate Gardiner after reading the bull, "whether this commission, without the clauses of confirmation and revocation, will satisfy his majesty; but we will do all in our power to get him to accept it."-"Above all, do not speak of our altercations," said the pope. Gardiner, like a discreet diplomatist, did not scruple to note down every particular in cipher in the letters whence these details are procured. "Tell the king," continued the pontiff, "that this commission is on my part a declaration of war against the emperor, and that I now place myself under his majesty's protection." The chief almoner of England departed for London with the precious document.
But one storm followed close upon another. Fox had not long quitted Orvieto when new letters arrived from Wolsey, demanding the fourth of the acts previously requested, namely, the engagement to ratify at Rome whatever the commissioners might decide in England. Gardiner was to set about it in season and out of season; the verbal promise of the pope counted for nothing; this document must be had, whether the pope was ill, dying, or dead. "Ego et Rex meus, his majesty and I command you," said Wolsey; "this divorce is of more consequence to us than twenty popedoms." The English envoy renewed the demand. "Since you refuse the decretal," he said, "there is the greater reason why you should not refuse the engagement." This application led to fresh discussion and fresh tears. Clement gave way once more; but the Italians, more crafty than Gardiner, reserved a loophole in the document through which the pontiff might escape. The messenger Thaddeus carried it to London; and Gardiner left Orvieto for Rome to confer with Campeggio.
Clement was a man of penetrating mind, and although he knew as well as any how to deliver a clever speech, he was irresolute and timid; and accordingly the commission had not long been despatched before he repented. Full of distress, he paced the ruined chambers of his old palace, and imagined he saw hanging over his head that terrible sword of Charles the Fifth, whose edge he had already felt. "Wretch that I am," said he; "cruel wolves surround me; they open their jaws to swallow me up.... I see none but enemies around me. At their head is the emperor... What will he do? Alas! I have yielded that fatal commission which the general of the Spanish observance had enjoined me to refuse. Behind Charles come the Venetians, the Florentines, the Duke of Ferrara... They have cast lots upon my vesture.... Next comes the king of France, who promises nothing, but looks on with folded arms; or rather, what perfidy! calls upon me at this critical moment to deprive Charles V of his crown... And last, but not least, Henry VIII, the defender of the faith, indulges in frightful menaces against me... The emperor desires to maintain the queen on the throne of England; the latter, to put her away... Would to God that Catherine were in her grave! But, alas! she lives... to be the apple of discord dividing the two greatest monarchies, and the inevitable cause of the ruin of the popedom... Wretched man that I am! how cruel is my perplexity, and around me I can see nothing but horrible confusion.”
From:History of the Reformation: Of the Sixteenth CenturyFrom:Book 19. The English New Testament and the Court of Rome
Fox's Report to Henry and Anne – Wolsey's Impression – He Demands the Decretal – One of the Cardinal's Petty Maneuvers – He Sets His Conscience at Rest – Gardiner Fails at Rome – Wolsey's New Perfidy – The King's Anger Against the Pope – Sir T. More Predicts Religious Liberty – Immorality of Ultramontane Socialism – Erasmus Invited – Wolsey's Last Flight – Energetic Efforts at Rome – Clement Grants All – Wolsey Triumphs – Union of Rome and England.
DURING this time Fox was making his way to England. On the 27th of April he reached Paris; on the 2nd of May he landed at Sandwich, and hastened to Greenwich, where he arrived the next day at five in the evening, just as Wolsey had left for London. Fox's arrival was an event of great importance. "Let him go to Lady Anne's apartments," said the king, "and wait for me there." Fox told Anne Boleyn of his and Gardiner's exertions, and the success of their mission, at which she expressed her very great satisfaction. Indeed, more than a year had elapsed since her return to England, and she no longer resisted Henry's project. "Mistress Anne always called me Master Stephen," wrote Fox to Gardiner, "her thoughts were so full of you." The king appeared and Anne withdrew.
“Tell me as briefly as possible what you have done," said Henry. Fox placed in the king's hands the pope's insignificant letter, which he bade his almoner read; then that from Staffileo, which was put on one side; and, lastly, Gardiner's letter, which Henry took hastily and read himself. "The pope has promised us," said Fox, as he terminated his report, "to confirm the sentence of the divorce, as soon as it has been pronounced by the commissioners."-"Excellent!" exclaimed Henry; and then he ordered Anne to be called in. "Repeat before this lady," he said to Fox, "what you have just told me." The almoner did so. "The pope is convinced of the justice of your cause," he said in conclusion, "and the cardinal's letter has convinced him that my lady is worthy of the throne of England."-"Make your report to Wolsey this very night," said the king.
It was ten o'clock when the chief almoner reached the cardinal's palace; he had gone to bed, but immediate orders were given that Fox should be conducted to his room. Being a churchman, Wolsey could understand the pope's artifices better than Henry; accordingly, as soon as he learned that Fox had brought the commission only, he became alarmed at the task imposed upon him. "What a misfortune!" he exclaimed: "your commission is no better than Gambara's... However, go and rest yourself; I will examine these papers tomorrow." Fox withdrew in confusion. "It is not bad," said Wolsey the next day, "but the whole business still falls on me alone! -Never mind, I must wear a contented look, or else..." In the afternoon he summoned into his closet Fox, Dr. Bell, and Viscount Rochford: "Master Gardiner has surpassed himself," said the crafty supple cardinal; "what a man! what an inestimable treasure! what a jewel in our kingdom!”
He did not mean a word he was saying. Wolsey was dissatisfied with everything-with the refusal of the decretal, and with the drawing up of the commission, as well as of the engagement (which arrived soon after in good condition, so far as the outside was concerned). But the king's ill humor would infallibly recoil on Wolsey; so, putting a good face on a bad matter, he ruminated in secret on the means of obtaining what had been refused him. "Write to Gardiner," said he to Fox, "that everything makes me desire the pope's decretal-the need of unburdening my conscience, of being able to reply to the calumniators who will attack my judgment, and the thought of the accidents to which the life of man is exposed. Let his holiness, then, pronounce the divorce himself; we engage on our part to keep his resolution secret. But order Master Stephen to employ every kind of persuasion that his rhetoric can imagine." In case the pope should positively refuse the decretal, Wolsey required that at least Campeggio should share the responsibility of the divorce with him.
This was not all: While reading the engagement, Wolsey discovered the loophole which had escaped Gardiner, and this is what he contrived: "The engagement which the pope has sent us," he wrote to Gardiner, "is drawn up in such terms that he can retract it at pleasure; we must therefore find some good way to obtain another. You may do it under this pretense. You will appear before his holiness with a dejected air, and tell him that the courier, to whom the conveyance of the said engagement was intrusted, fell into the water with his despatches, so that the rescripts were totally defaced and illegible; that I have not dared deliver it into the king's hands, and unless his holiness will grant you a duplicate, some notable blame will be imputed unto you for not taking better care in its transmission. And, further, you will continue: I remember the expressions of the former document, and to save your holiness trouble, I will dictate them to your secretary. Then," added Wolsey, "while the secretary is writing, you will find means to introduce, without its being perceived, as many fat, pregnant, and available words as possible, to bind the pope and enlarge my powers, the politic handling of which the king's highness and I commit unto your good discretion."
Such was the expedient invented by Wolsey. The papal secretary, imagining he was making a fresh copy of the original document (which was, by the way, in perfect condition), was at the dictation of the ambassador to draw up another of a different tenor. The "politic handling" of the cardinal-legate, which was not very unlike forgery, throws a disgraceful light on the policy of the sixteenth century.
Wolsey read this letter to the chief almoner; and then, to set his conscience at rest, he added piously: "In an affair of such high importance, on which depends the glory or the ruin of the realm, -my honor or my disgrace,-the condemnation of my soul or my everlasting merit,-I will listen solely to the voice of my conscience, and I shall act in such a manner as to be able to render an account to God without fear.”
Wolsey did more; it seems that the boldness of his declarations reassured him with regard to the baseness of his works. Being at Greenwich on the following Sunday, he said to the king in the presence of Fox, Bell, Wolman, and Tuke: "I am bound to your royal person more than any subject was ever bound to his prince. I am ready to sacrifice my goods, my blood, my life for you... But my obligations towards God are greater still. For that cause, rather than act against his will, I would endure the extremist evils. I would suffer your royal indignation, and, if necessary, deliver my body to the executioners that they might cut it in pieces." What could be the spirit then impelling Wolsey? Was it blindness or impudence? He may have been sincere in the words he addressed to Henry; at the bottom of his heart he may have desired to set the pope above the king, and the church of Rome above the kingdom of England; and this desire may have appeared to him a sublime virtue, such as would hide a multitude of sins. What the public conscience would have called treason was heroism to the Romish priest. This zeal for the papacy is sometimes met with in conjunction with the most flagrant immorality. If Wolsey deceived the pope, it was to save popery in the realm of England. Fox, Bell, Wolman, and Tuke listened to him with astonishment. Henry, who thought he knew his man, received these holy declarations without alarm; and the cardinal, having thus eased his conscience, proceeded boldly in his iniquities. It seems, however, that the inward reproaches which he silenced in public, had their revenge in secret. One of his officers entering his closet shortly afterward, presented a letter addressed to Campeggio for his signature. It ended thus: "I hope all things shall be done according to the will of God, the desire of the king, the quiet of the kingdom, and to our honor with a good conscience." The cardinal having read the letter, dashed out the four last words. Conscience has a sting from which none can escape, not even a Wolsey.
However, Gardiner lost no time in Italy. When he met Campeggio (to whom Henry VIII had given a palace at Rome, and a bishopric in England), he entreated him to go to London and pronounce the divorce. This prelate, who was to be empowered in 1530 with authority to crush Protestantism in Germany, seemed bound to undertake a mission that would save Romanism in Britain. But proud of his position at Rome, where he acted as the pope's representative, he cared not for a charge that would undoubtedly draw upon him either Henry's hatred or the emperor's anger. He begged to be excused. The pope spoke in a similar tone. When he was informed of this, the terrible Tudor, beginning to believe that Clement desired to entangle him, as the hunter entangles the lion in his toils, gave vent to his anger on Tuke, Fox, and Gardiner, but particularly on Wolsey. Nor were reasons wanting for this explosion. The cardinal, perceiving that his hatred against Charles had carried him too far, pretended that it was without his orders that Clarencieux, bribed by France, had combined with the French ambassador to declare war against the emperor; and added that he would have the English king-at-arms put to death as he passed through Calais. This was an infallible means of preventing disagreeable revelations. But the herald, who had been forewarned, crossed by way of Boulogne, and, without the cardinal's knowledge, obtained an interview with Henry, before whom he placed the orders he had received from Wolsey in three consecutive letters. The king, astonished at his minister's impudence, exclaimed profanely: "O Lord Jesu, the man in whom I had most confidence told me quite the contrary." He then summoned Wolsey before him, and reproached him severely for his falsehoods. The wretched man shook like a leaf. Henry appeared to pardon him, but the season of his favor had passed away. Henceforward he kept the cardinal as one of those instruments we make use of for a time, and then throwaway when we have no further need of them.
The king's anger against the pope far exceeded that against Wolsey; he trembled from head to foot, rose from his seat, then sat down again, and vented his wrath in the most violent language: -"What!" he exclaimed, "I shall exhaust my political combinations, empty my treasury, make war upon my friends, consume my forces... and for whom?... for a heartless priest who, considering neither the exigencies of my honor, nor the peace of my conscience, nor the prosperity of my kingdom, nor the numerous benefits which I have lavished on him, refuses me a favor, which he ought, as the common father of the faithful, to grant even to an enemy... Hypocrite!... you cover yourself with the cloak of friendship, you flatter us by crafty practices, but you give us only a bastard document, and you say like Pilate: It matters little to me if this king perishes, and all his kingdom with him; take him and judge him according to your law!....I understand you... you wish to entangle us in the briers, to catch us in a trap, to lure us into a pitfall... But we have discovered the snare; we shall escape from your ambuscade, and brave your power.”
Such was the language then heard at the court of England, says an historian. The monks and priests began to grow alarmed, while the most enlightened minds already saw in the distance the first gleams of religious liberty. One day, at a time when Henry was proving himself a zealous follower of the Romish doctrines, Sir Thomas More was sitting in the midst of his family, when his son-in-law, Roper, now become a warm papist, exclaimed: "Happy kingdom of England, where no heretic dares show his face!"-"That is true, son Roper," said More; "we seem to sit now upon the mountains, treading the heretics under our feet like ants; but I pray God that some of us do not live to see the day when we gladly would wish to be at league with them, to suffer them to have their churches quietly to themselves, so that they would be content to let us have ours peaceably to ourselves." Roper angrily replied: "By my word, sir, that is very desperately spoken!" More, however, was in the right; genius is sometimes a great diviner. The Reformation was on the point of inaugurating religious liberty, and by that means placing civil liberty on an immovable foundation.
Henry himself grew wiser by degrees. He began to have doubts about the Roman hierarchy, and to ask himself, whether a priest-king, embarrassed in all the political complications of Europe, could be the head of the church of Jesus Christ. Pious individuals in his kingdom recognized in Scripture and in conscience a law superior to the law of Rome, and refused to sacrifice at the command of the church their moral convictions, sanctioned by the revelation of God. The hierarchical system, which claims to absorb man in the papacy, had oppressed the consciences of Christians for centuries. When the Romish Church had required from such as Berengarius, John Huss, Savonarola, John Wesel, and Luther, the denial of their consciences enlightened by the word, that is to say, by the voice of God, it had shown most clearly how great is the immorality of ultra montane socialism. "If the Christian consents to this enormous demand of the hierarchy," said the most enlightened men; "if he renounces his own notions of good and evil in favor of the clergy; if he reserves not his right to obey God, who speaks to him in the Bible, rather than men, even if their agreement were universal; if Henry VIII, for instance, should silence his conscience, which condemns his union with his brother's widow, to obey the clerical voice which approves of it; by that very act he renounces truth, duty, and even God himself." But we must add, that if the rights of conscience were beginning to be understood in England, it was not about such holy matters as these that the pope and Henry were contending. They were both intriguers-both dissatisfied, the one desirous of love, the other of power.
Be that as it may, a feeling of disgust for Rome then took root in the king's heart, and nothing could afterward eradicate it. He immediately made every exertion to attract Erasmus to London. Indeed, if Henry separated from the pope, his old friends, the humanists, must be his auxiliaries, and not the heretical doctors. But Erasmus, in a letter dated 1st June, alleged the weak state of his health, the robbers who infested the roads, the wars and rumors of wars then afloat. "Our destiny leads us," he said; "let us yield to it." It is a fortunate thing for England that Erasmus was not its reformer.
Wolsey noted this movement of his master's, and resolved to make a strenuous effort to reconcile Clement and Henry; his own safety was at stake. He wrote to the pope, to Campeggio, to Da Casale, to all Italy. He declared that if he was ruined, the popedom would be ruined too, so far at least as England was concerned: "I would obtain the decretal bull with my own blood, if possible," he added. "Assure the holy father on my life that no mortal eye shall see it." Finally, he ordered the chief almoner to write to Gardiner: "If Campeggio does not come, you shall never return to England;" an infallible means of stimulating the secretary's zeal.
This was the last effort of Henry VIII. Bourbon and the prince of Orange had not employed more zeal a year before in scaling the walls of Rome. Wolsey's fire had inflamed his agents; they argued, entreated, stormed, and threatened. The alarmed cardinals and theologians, assembling at the pope's call, discussed the matter, mixing political interests with the affairs of the church. At last they understood what Wolsey now communicated to them. "Henry is the most energetic defender of the faith," they said. "It is only by acceding to his demand that we can preserve the kingdom of England to the popedom. The army of Charles is in full flight, and that of Francis triumphs." The last of these arguments decided the question; the pope suddenly felt a great sympathy for Wolsey and for the English church; the emperor was beaten, therefore he was wrong. Clement granted everything.
First, Campeggio was desired to go to London. The pontiff knew that he might reckon on his intelligence and inflexible adhesion to the interests of the hierarchy; even the cardinal's gout was of use, for it might help to innumerable delays. Next, on the 8th of June, the pope, then at Viterbo, gave a new commission, by which he conferred on Wolsey and Campeggio the power to declare null and void the marriage between Henry and Catherine, with liberty for the king and queen to form new matrimonial ties. A few days later he signed the famous decretal by which he himself annulled the marriage between Henry and Catherine; but instead of intrusting it to Gardiner, he gave it to Campeggio, with orders not to let it go out of his hands. Clement was not sure of the course of events: if Charles should decidedly lose his power, the bull would be published in the face of Christendom; if he should recover it, the bull would be burnt. In fact, the flames did actually consume some time afterward this decree which Clement had wetted with his tears as he put his name to it. Finally, on the 23rd of July, the pope signed a valid engagement, by which he declared beforehand that all retractation of these acts should be null and void. Campeggio and Gardiner departed. Charles's defeat was as complete at Rome as at Naples; the justice of his cause had vanished with his army.
Nothing, therefore, was wanting to Henry's desires. He had Campeggio, the commission, the decretal bull of divorce signed by the pope, and the engagement giving an irrevocable value to all these acts. Wolsey was conqueror, -the conqueror of Clement!... He had often wished to mount the restive courser of the popedom and to guide it at his will, but each time the unruly steed had thrown him from the saddle. Now he was firm in his seat, and held the horse in hand. Thanks to Charles's reverses, he was master at Rome. The popedom, whether it was pleased or not, must take the road he had chosen, and before which it had so long recoiled. The king's joy was unbounded, and equaled only by Wolsey's. The cardinal, in the fullness of his heart, wishing to show his gratitude to the officers of the Roman court, made them presents of carpets, horses, and vessels of gold. All near Henry felt the effects of his good humor. Anne smiled; the court indulged in amusements; the great affair was about to be accomplished; the New Testament to be delivered to the flames. The union between England and the popedom appeared confirmed forever, and the victory which Rome seemed about to gain in the British isles might secure her triumph in the west. Vain omens! far different were the events in the womb of the future.