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HOME > Library > Books > History of England From the Fall of Wosley to the Death of Elizabeth by J. A. Froude (12 vol. set, 1871 Edition)
"History of England
From the Fall of Wosley to the Death of Elizabeth"
by James Anthony Froude
(Fellow of Exeter College, Oxford)
1871 Edition in 12 Volumes
The musters for Derbyshire were set down at fifteen hundred. Lord Shrewsbury raised four hundred from among his own dependents on his estates. The magistrates declared that, owing to death, want, and waste of means in the war of the last year, the 'poor little county' could provide but one hundred more.
The musters in Devonshire broke up and went to their homes. The musters in Lincolnshire mutinied. The ringleaders in both counties were immediately hanged; yet the loyalty was none the greater. The exiled divines in Germany, believing that the people were at last ripe for insurrection, called on them to rise and put down the tyranny which was crushing them. Goodman published a tract on the obedience of subjects, and John Knox blew his 'First Blast against the Monstrous Regimen of Women.' The queen [Mary], as if the ordinary laws of the country had no existence, sent out a proclamation that any one who was found to have these books in his or her possession, or who, finding such books, did not instantly burn them, should be executed as a rebel by martial law. 'Affectionate as I be to my country and countrymen,' said Sir Thomas Smith, 'I was ashamed of both; they went about their matters as men amazed, that wist not where to begin or end. And what marvel was it? Here was nothing but firing, heading, hanging, quartering and burning, taxing and levying. A few priests in white rochets ruled all, who with setting up of six-foot roods and rebuilding of roodlofts, thought to make all sure.'
With the summer, fever and ague set in like a pestilence. 'God did so punish the realm,' said Sir Thomas Smith again, 'with quartan agues, and with such other long and new sicknesses, that in the last two years of the reign of Queen Mary, so many of her subjects was made away, what with the execution of sword and fire, what by sicknesses, that the third part of the men of England were consumed.' In the spring, the queen, misled by the same symptoms which had deceived her before, had again fancied herself enceinte. She made her will in the avowed expectation that she was about to undergo the perils of childbearing. She wrote for her husband to come to her. She sent the fleet into the Channel, and laid relays of horses along the roads to London from Dover and from Harwich, that he might choose at which port to land.
Philip so far humoured the fancy, which he must have known to be delusive, that he sent the Count de Feria to congratulate her. Her letter, he said, contained the best news which he had heard since the loss of Calais. But the bubble broke soon. Mary had parted from her husband on the 5th of the preceding July, and her suspense, therefore, was not long protracted. It is scarcely necessary to say in what direction her second disappointment vented itself.
Cranmer alone hitherto had suffered after recantation; to others, pardon had continued to be offered to the last moment. But this poor mercy was now extinguished. A man in Hampshire, named Bembridge, exclaimed at the point of execution that he would submit; a form was produced on the spot, which Bembridge signed, and the sheriff, Sir Richard Pexall, reprieved him by his own authority. But a letter of council came instantly to Pexall, that 'the Queen's Majesty could not but find it very strange' that he had saved from punishment a man condemned for heresy: the execution was to proceed out of hand; and 'if the prisoner continued in the Catholic faith, as he pretended, some discreet and learned man might be present with him in his death, for the aiding of him to die God's servant.' Bembridge was accordingly burnt, and the sheriff, for the lenity which he had dared to show, was committed to the Fleet. Whole detachments of men and women were again slaughtered in London; and the queen, exasperated at the determination with which the populace cheered the sufferers with their sympathy, sent out a proclamation forbidding her subjects to approach, touch, speak to, or comfort heretics on their way to execution, under pain of death. Shortly after, a congregation of Protestants were detected at a prayer-meeting in a field near the city; thirteen were taken as prisoners before [Bishop] Bonner, and seven were burnt at Smithfield together on the 28th of June. The people
'We know that they are the people of God, and therefore we cannot choose but wish well to them and say, God strengthen them. God Almighty, for Christ's sake, strengthen them.'
The multitude shouted, in reply, 'Amen, Amen.' Alarmed himself, this time, at the display of emotion, Bonner durst not outrage the metropolis with the deaths of the remaining six. Yet, not to let them escape him, he tried them privately in his own house at Fulham, and burnt them at Brentford at night in the darkness.
So fared the Protestants, murdered to propitiate Providence, and, if possible, extort for the queen a return of the divine favour. The alarm of invasion diminished as summer advanced. England had again a fleet upon the seas which feared no enemy, and could even act on the offensive. In May, two hundred and forty ships, large and small, were collected at Portsmouth; and on the day of the burning at Brentford, accident gave a small squadron among them a share in a considerable victory.
Lord Clinton, who was now admiral in the place of Howard, after an ineffectual cruise in the south of the Channel, returned to Portsmouth on the 8th of July. A few vessels remained in the neighbourhood of Calais, when M. de Thermes, whom the Duke of Guise left in command there, with the garrison of Boulogne, some levies collected in Picardy, and his own troops, in all about 9000 men, ventured an inroad into the Low Countries, took Dunkirk, and plundered it. Not caring to penetrate further, he was retreating with his booty, when Count Egmont, with a few thousand Burgundians and Flemings, cut in at Gravelines between the French and their own frontiers. They had no means of passing, except at low water, between the town of Gravelines and the sea, and the English ships, which were in communication with Egmont, stood in as near as they could venture, so as to command the sands.
De Thermes, obliged to advance when the tide would permit him, dashed at the dangerous passage; the guns of Gravelines on one side, the guns of the English vessels on the other, tore his ranks to pieces, and Egmont charging when their confusion was at its worst, the French were almost annihilated. Five thousand were killed, De Thermes himself, Senarpont of Boulogne, the Governor of Picardy, and many other men of note, were taken. If Clinton had been at hand with the strength of the fleet, and a dash had been made at Calais by land and sea, it would have been recovered more easily than it had been lost. But fortune had no such favour to bestow on Queen Mary. Clinton was still loitering at Spithead, and when news of the action came it was too late.
The plan of the naval campaign for the season was the to attack Brest with the united strength of England and Flanders, and hold it as a security for the restoration of Calais at the peace. It was for the arrival of his allies that Clinton had been waiting, and it was only at the end of the month that the combined fleet, a hundred and forty sail, left Portsmouth for the coast of Brittany. They appeared duly off Brest; yet, when their object was before them, they changed their minds on the feasibility of their enterprise; and leaving their original design, they landed a force at Conquêt, which they plundered and burnt, and afterwards destroyed some other villages in the neighbourhood. The achievement was not a very splendid one. Four or five hundred Flemings who ventured too far from the fleet were cut off; and as the Duke d'Estampes was said to be coming up with 20,000 men, Clinton reëmbarked his men in haste, returned to Portsmouth, after an ineffectual and merely mischievous demonstration, and then reported the sickness in the fleet so considerable, that the operations for the season must be considered at an end.
In the meantime, the contending princes in their own persons, Philip with the powers of the Low Countries and Spain, Henry with the whole available strength of France, sate watching each other in entrenched camps upon the Somme. The French king, with the recollection of St. Quentin fresh upon him, would not risk a second such defeat. Philip would not hazard his late advantage by forcing an action which might lose for him all that he had gained. In the pause, the conviction came slowly over both, that there was no need for further bloodshed, and that the long, weary, profitless war might at last have an end. A mighty revolution had passed over Europe since Francis first led an army over the Alps. The world had passed into a new era; and the question of strength had to be tried, not any more between Spaniard and Frenchman, but between Protestant and Catholic. Already the disciples of Calvin threatened the Church of France; Holland was vexing the superstition of Philip, and the Protestants in Scotland were breaking from the hand of Mary of Guise: more and more the Catholic princes felt the want of a general council, that the questions of the day might be taken hold of firmly, and the Inquisition be set to work on some resolute principle of concert.
In September, the Emperor passed away in his retirement at St. Just. With him perished the traditions and passions of which he was the last representative, and a new page was turning in the history of mankind. Essential ground of quarrel between Henry and Philip there was none; the outward accidental ground - the claims on Milan and Naples, Savoy and Navarre - had been rendered easy of settlement by the conquest of Calais, and by the marriage which was consummated a few weeks after Guise's victory, between the Dauphin and the Queen of Scots.
Satisfied with the triumph of a policy which had annexed the crown of Scotland to France, and with having driven the English by main strength from their last foothold on French soil, Henry could now be content to evacuate Savoy and Piedmont, if Philip, on his side, would repeat the desertion of Crêpy, and having brought England into the war, would leave
How far Philip would consent to an arrangement so perfidious towards the country of which he was the nominal sovereign, depended, first, on the life of the queen. The titular King of England could by no fiction or pretext relieve himself of the duties which the designation imposed upon him; and if the English were deserted, their resentment would explode in a revolution of which Mary would be the instant victim.
Mary, indeed, would soon cease to be a difficulty. She was attacked in September by the fever which was carrying off so many of her subjects. The fresh disease aggravated her constitutional disorder, and her days were drawing fast to their end. But Philip's hold on England need not perish with the death of his wife, if he could persuade her sister to take her place. His policy, therefore, was for the present to linger out the negotiations; to identify in appearance his own and the English interests, and to wait the events of the winter.
At the opening of the Conference it was immediately evident that France would not part with Calais. The English commissioners had been ordered to take no part in the discussion, unless the restitution was agreed on as a preliminary; and when they made their demand, Henry replied that 'he would hazard his crown rather than forego his conquest.' The resolution was expressed decisively; and they saw, or thought they saw, so much indifference in the Spanish representatives, that they at first intended to return to England on the spot.
'To our minds,' they wrote, 'Calais is so necessary to be had again for the quieting of the world's mind in England, and it should so much offend and exasperate England, if any peace was made without restitution of it, that, for our part, no earthly private commodity nor profit could induce us thereto, nor nothing could be more grievous to us than to be ministers therein.'
They were on the point of departure, when a letter from Philip required them to remain at their posts. Contrary to their expectation, the king promised to support England in insisting on the restoration, and his own commissioners were instructed equally to agree to nothing unless it was conceded. Thus for a time the negotiation remained suspended till events should clear up the course which the different parties would follow.
And these events, or the one great event, was now close, and the shadows were drawing down over the life of the unfortunate Mary. Amidst discontent and misery at home, disgrace and failure abroad, the fantastic comparisons, the delirious analogies, the child which was to be born of the Virgin Mary for the salvation of mankind - where were now these visionary and humiliating dreams?
On the 6th of October, the Privy Council were summoned to London 'for great and urgent affairs.' At the beginning of November three men and two women suffered at Canterbury. They were the last who were put to death, and
The count reached London on the 9th of November He was admitted to an interview, and the queen, too brave to repine at what was now inevitable, and anxious to the last to please her husband, declared herself 'well content' that it should be as he wished; she entreated only that her debts might be paid, and that 'religion' should not be changed.
Leaving Mary's death-bed, De Feria informed the council of the king's request, and from the council hastened to the house of Lord Clinton, a few miles from London, where Elizabeth was staying. In Philip's name, he informed her that her succession was assured; his master had used his influence in her favour, and no opposition need be anticipated.
Elizabeth listened graciously. That Philip's services to her, however, had been so considerable as De Feria told her, she was unable to allow. She admitted, and admitted thankfully, the good offices which he had shown to her when she was at Woodstock. She was perhaps ignorant that it was for the safety of Philip's life that her own had been so nearly sacrificed; that Philip's interest in her succession had commenced only when his own appeared impossible. But she knew how narrow had been her escape; she had neither forgotten her danger, nor ceased to resent her treatment. It was to the people of England, she told the count, that she owed her real gratitude. The people had saved her from destruction; the people had prevented her sister from changing the settlement of the crown. She would be the people's queen, and she would reign in the people's interest.
De Feria feared, from what she said, that 'in religion she would not go right.' The ladies by whom she was surrounded were suspected; Sir William Cecil, whose conformity was as transparent then as it is now, would be her principal secretary; and the count observed, with a foreboding of evil, that 'she had an admiration for the king her father's mode of ruling;' and that of the legate she spoke with cold severity.
It is possible that Pole was made acquainted with Elizabeth's feelings towards him. To himself personally, those feelings were of little moment, for he, too, like the queen, was dying - dying to be spared a second exile, and the wretchedness of seeing with his eyes the dissolution of the phantom fabric which he had given the labours of his life to build.
Yet what he did not live to behold he could not have failed to anticipate. The spirit of Henry VIII. was rising from the grave to scatter his work to all the winds; while he, the champion of Heaven, the destroyer of heresy, was lying himself under a charge of the same crime, with the Pope for his accuser. Without straining too far the license of imagination, we may believe that the disease which was destroying him was chiefly a broken heart. But it was painful to him to lie under the ill opinion of the person who was so soon to be on the throne of England; and possibly he wished to leave her, as a legacy, the warning entreaties of a dying man.
Three days after De Feria's visit, therefore, Pole sent the Dean of Worcester to Elizabeth with a message, the import of which is unknown; and a short letter, as the dean's credentials, saying only that the legate desired, before he should depart, to leave all persons satisfied of him, and especially her Grace.
This was the 14th of November. The same day, or the day after, a lady-in-waiting carried the queen's last wishes to her successor. They were the same which she had already mentioned to De Feria - that her debts should be paid, and that the Catholic religion might be maintained, with an additional request that her servants
A few hours later, at Lambeth, Pole followed her, and the reign of the Pope in England, and the reign of terror, closed together.
No English sovereign ever ascended the throne with larger popularity than Mary Tudor. The country was eager to atone to her for her mother's injuries; and the instinctive loyalty of the English towards their natural sovereign was enhanced by the abortive efforts of Northumberland to rob her of her inheritance. She had reigned little more than five years, and she descended into the grave amidst curses deeper than the acclamations which had welcomed her accession. In that brief time she had swathed her name in the horrid epithet which will cling to it for ever; and yet from the passions which in general tempt sovereigns into crime, she was entirely free; to the time of her accession she had lived a blameless, and, in many respects, a noble life; and few men or women have lived less capable of doing knowingly a wrong thing.
Philip's conduct, which could not extinguish her passion for him, and the collapse of the inflated imaginations which had surrounded her supposed pregnancy, it can hardly be doubted, affected her sanity. Those forlorn hours when she would sit on the ground with her knees drawn to her face; those restless days and nights when, like a ghost, she would wander about the palace galleries, rousing herself only to write tear-blotted letters to her husband; those bursts of fury over the libels dropped in her way; or the marchings in procession behind the Host in the London streets - these are all symptoms of hysterical derangement, and leave little room, as we think of her, for other feelings than pity. But if Mary was insane, the madness was of a kind which placed her absolutely under her spiritual directors; and the responsibility for her cruelties, if responsibility be anything but a name, rests first with Gardiner, who commenced them, and, secondly, and in a higher degree, with Reginald Pole. Because Pole, with the council, once interfered to prevent an imprudent massacre in Smithfield; because, being legate, he left the common duties of his diocese to subordinates, he is not to be held innocent of atrocities which could neither have been commenced nor continued without his sanction; and he was notoriously the one person in the council whom the queen absolutely trusted. The revenge of the clergy for their past humiliations, and the too natural tendency of an oppressed party to abuse suddenly recovered power, combined to originate the Marian persecution. The rebellions and massacres, the political scandals, the universal suffering throughout the country during Edward's minority, had created a general bitterness in all classes against the Reformers; the Catholics could appeal with justice to the apparent consequences of heretical opinions; and when the Reforming preachers themselves denounced so loudly the irreligion which had attended their success, there was little wonder that the world took them at their word, and was ready to permit the use of strong suppressive measures to keep down the unruly tendencies of uncontrolled fanatics.
But neither these nor any other feelings of English growth, could have produced the scenes which have stamped this unhappy reign with a character so frightful. The parliament which reënacted the Lollard statutes, had refused to restore the Six Articles as being too severe; yet under the Six Articles twenty-one persons only suffered in six years; while, perhaps, not twice as many more had been executed under the earlier acts in the century and a half in which they had stood on the Statute roll. The harshness of the law confined the action of it to men who were definitely dangerous; and when the bishops' powers were given back to them, there was little anticipation of the manner in which those powers would be misused.
And that except from some special influences they would not have been thus misused, the local character of the persecution may be taken to prove. The storm was violent only in London, in Essex which was in the diocese of London, and in Canterbury. It raged long after the death of Gardiner; and Gardiner, though he made the beginning, ceased after the first few months to take further part in it. The Bishop of Winchester would have had a persecution, and a keen one; but the fervour of others left his lagging zeal far behind. For the first and last time the true Ultramontane spirit was dominant in England; the genuine conviction that, as the orthodox prophets and sovereigns of Israel slew the worshippers of Baal, so were Catholic rulers called upon, as their first duty, to extirpate heretics as the enemies of God and man.
The language of the legate to the City of London shows the devout sincerity with which he held that opinion himself. Through him, and sustained by his authority, the queen held it; and by these two the ecclesiastical government of England was conducted.
Archbishop Parker, who succeeded Pole at Canterbury, and had therefore the best opportunity of knowing what his conduct had really been, called him Carnifex et flagellum Ecclesice Anglicanca, the hangman and the scourge of the Church of England. His character was irreproachable; in all the virtues of the Catholic Church he walked without spot or stain; and the system to which he had surrendered himself had left to him of the common selfishnesses of mankind his enormous vanity alone. But that system had extinguished also in him the human instincts, the genial emotions by which theological theories stand especially in need to be corrected. He belonged to a class of persons at all times numerous, in whom enthusiasm takes the place of understanding; who are men of an 'idea;' and unable to accept human things as they are, are passionate loyalists, passionate churchmen, passionate revolutionists, as the accidents of their age may determine. Happily for the welfare of mankind, persons so constituted rarely arrive at power: should power come to them, they use it, as Pole used it, to defeat the ends which are nearest to their hearts.
The teachers who finally converted the English nation to Protestantism were not the declaimers from the pulpit, nor the voluminous controversialists with the pen. These, indeed, could produce arguments which, to those who were already convinced, seemed as if they ought to produce conviction; but conviction did not follow till the fruits of the
And while among the Reformers that which was most bright and excellent shone out with preternatural lustre, so were the Catholics permitted to exhibit also the preternatural features of the creed which was expiring.
Although Pole and Mary could have laid their hands on earl and baron, knight and gentleman, whose heresy was notorious, although, in the queen's own guard, there was many who never listened to a mass, they durst not strike where there was danger that they would be struck in return. They went out into the highways and hedges ; they gathered up the lame, the halt, and the blind ; they took the weaver from his loom, the carpenter from his workshop, the husbandman from his plough; they laid hands on maidens and boys 'who had never heard of any other religion than that which they were called on to abjure;' old men tottering into the grave, and children whose lips could but just lisp the articles of their creed; and of these they made their burnt-offerings; with these they crowded their prisons, and when filth and famine killed them, they flung them out to rot. How long England would have endured the repetition of the horrid spectacles is hard to say. The persecution lasted three years, and in that time something less than 300 persons were burnt at the stake. 'By imprisonment,' said Lord Burleigh, 'by torment, by famine, by fire, almost the number of 400 were,' in their various ways, 'lamentably destroyed.'
Yet, as has been already said, interference was inmpossible except by armed force. The country knew from the first that by the course of nature the period of cruelty must be a brief one; it knew that a successful rebellion is at best a calamity; and the bravest and wisest men would not injure an illustrious cause by conduct less than worthy of it, so long as endurance was possible. They had saved Elizabeth's life and Elizabeth's rights, and Elizabeth, when her time came, would deliver her subjects. The Catholics, therefore, were permitted to continue their cruelties till the cup of iniquity was full; till they had taught the educated laity of England to regard them with horror; and till the Romanist superstition had died, amidst the execrations of the people, of its own excess."
more to come . . .
"History of England from the Fall of Wosley to the Death of Elizabeth" by James Anthony Froude (1871 Edition in 12 Volumes)
"These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended [skandalizo]. They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me. But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them." Joh 16:1-4 KJV
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