« VorigeDoorgaan »
as to the invalidity of Henry's first marriage, but he devoted the whole of his energies to the object of obtaining the formal dissolution of it. Having assisted in preparing questions upon the subject for the Universities at home and abroad, and in procuring favourable answers he was himself sent as ambas
sador to the Court of Rome for the purpose of fur- [A. D. 1528.] thering the divorce. As a bribe to Clement VII., he was to procure from the Venetians the restoration to the Roman see of Ravenna and Servia, and then to extort from the gratitude or timidity of the Pope the bull and dispensation which would enable Henry to get rid of the wife of whom he was tired, and to marry her of whom he was then so deeply enamoured. No better proof can be given of his high favour with Henry than that, in this embassy, he wrote him private letters not to be seen by Wolsey, whose good faith in the negotiation began to be suspected. He failed in the object of his mission, but he managed well while at Rome in advancing his own fortunes; for by rendering a service to the Bishop of Norwich, he was made Archdeacon of Norfolk; by intriguing for Wolsey's promotion to the popedom, he recommended himself more than ever to his patron*; and by the zeal and dexterity with which he conducted the secret correspondence in which he was engaged, he entirely won the heart of Henry.
As the divorce suit was now to be tried in England before a court consisting of Cardinal Campeggio, sent over as legate for that purpose, and Cardinal Wolsey associated with him, the King immediately retained Dr. Gardyner as his counsel, and desired him to hurry home to prepare for the trial. The keen advocate, on his arrival, was indefatigable in getting up the proofs of the consummation of Catherine's marriage with Prince Arthur, and the other facts relied upon to show the nullity of the dispensation of Pope Julius, under which that marriage was solemnised. After long delays the suit was brought to a hearing, and Gardyner pleaded for his royal client with great learning and ability. But when a favourable judgment was expected, the [JULY, 1529.] cause was evoked to Rome to be decided by the Pope in person, assisted by the conclave. This step led to the fall of Wolsey. Of Gardyner's sincerity no doubts were entertained; and it was thought that he would then have been appointed to succeed as Chancellor, had it not been that, from the arrogance of the great Cardinal, and the manner in which, from his ecclesiastical character, it was supposed he had been able to thwart the King's inclination, a fixed resolution had been formed that the Great Seal should not again be intrusted to a churchman.†
* While Gardyner was at Rome, Clement was dangerously ill, and he so won over the cardinals, that if a vacancy had occurred it is believed that Wolsey must have succeeded. When his masterly dispositions were related, Wolsey, thinking the triple crown already on his head, exclaimed, “O inestimable treasure and jewel of this realm !"
↑ So pleased was Anne Boleyn with his zeal, that she was in private correspon
But although Sir Thomas More was preferred as Chancellor, he generally confined himself to the discharge of his [OCT. 1529.] judicial duties; and Gardyner, now Secretary of State, was the chief adviser of the measures of the government. In 1531 he was appointed to the see of Winchester; and hitherto Cranmer and he, who afterwards took such different courses, and proved such mortal enemies, concurred in throwing off allegiance to Rome. While Sir Thomas More sacrificed first his office, and then his life, to his consistency, Gardyner, more flexible, not only acknowledged the King's supremacy, but wrote a book in defence of it, entitled "De verâ et falsâ Obedientiâ." He was always a determined enemy of the general Lutheran doctrines; but for a while he made his creed so far coincide with his interest, as to believe that the Anglican Church, rigidly maintaining all its ancient doctrines, might be severed from the spiritual dominion of the Pope, and flourish under a layman as its head. At this time, so completely was he on the Antipapal faction, that he actually sat on the bench with Cranmer, and joined in the sentence when the marriage between Henry and Catherine was adjudged null and void.
However, he joined himself with the Duke of Norfolk and the party opposed to any farther innovation in religion, and was ever on the watch to counteract the efforts of Cranmer, supposed to be abetted by Lord Chancellor Audley, to extend the Reformation. It was whispered, that he had obtained absolution from the Pope for his past backsliding on the question of the supremacy, with a dispensation to yield silent obedience to this law while it existed, -on condition of his strenuous resistance to the new opinions, and his promise to take the earliest opportunity of bringing England back to full communion with the Church.
Being sent on an embassy to Germany, he took occasion, on his return, to detail to the King the excesses of the Anabaptists, and to point out to him the importance of preserving uniformity of faith for the safety of the state. He likewise urged upon him, that it was impolitic farther to offend the Pope, by reason of the power of the Holy See itself, and because the Emperor and other orthodox Princes would break off all commerce with him if he went to extremities against the Roman Catholic religion. These representations produced "the bloody act of the Six Articles," and the deaths of the numerous sacramentaries, who suffered under it, for denying the real presence.
But what he chiefly watched was the manner in which the situation of Queen-consort was filled,-judging that upon this depended a good deal what should be the national religion. Al
dence with him, and thus addressed him: "I thank you for my letter wherein I perceive the willing and faithful mind you have to do me pleasure.”—Letter in State Paper Office.
though he had contributed to the elevation of Anne Boleyn, he rejoiced in her fall, and was supposed to have hastened it.*
Death delivered him from the apprehensions he entertained of the ascendancy of Jane Seymour. Then began a mortal struggle between him and Cromwell for supplying the vacancy thus occasioned. The VicarGeneral had a temporary triumph from the flattering portrait, by Holbein, of the Protestant Anne of Cleves; but Anne herself arrived; Henry was disgusted with her, and he was enraged against the man who had imposed her upon [A. D. 1540.] him. In a few months Anne was divorced, and Cromwell was beheaded.
[A. D. 1537.] [A. D. 1539.]
Nothing could exceed the exultation of Gardyner at this catastrophe, for Cromwell, who was the author of the dissolution of the monasteries, and himself deeply tainted with the new doctrines, had entered into secret engagements with the Protestant Princes of Germany, and was supposed to have a plan, in conjunction with some of the nobility, to make still further inroads on the property of the Church.
There was much anxiety till it was seen what choice the King would make, but Gardyner considered the true faith
for ever established when he had placed upon the [AUG. 1540.] throne the young and beautiful Catherine Howard, the niece of the Duke of Norfolk, and herself a rigid Roman Catholic.
For a year he went on contentedly, and had the satisfaction of alarming Cranmer so much, that the Archbishop, in great consternation, sent back his German wife to her own country, lest he should be subjected to the severe penalties enacted to enforce the celibacy of the clergy. But a cruel mortification. awaited Gardyner in the discovery of the profligate [A. D. 1541.] character of the new Catholic Queen. He at first resisted the proofs of her guilt, and contended that they were fabricated by Cranmer.
After her execution, his earnest desire was to assist in elevating to the throne a lady not only of pure morals but of pure orthodoxy, who should at once be faithful to the King and to the Pope. After the act passed making it high treason for any woman who was not a true maid to marry the King without disclosing her shame, there was, as we have seen, much shyness among all the young ladies of the Court when his Majesty seemed to make any advance towards them; but Gardyner still hoped for an alliance with some sovereign family on the Continent that was leagued against the new heresy.
What must have been his astonishment and consternation when, in the morning of the 12th of July, 1543, being in attendance on the King at Hampton Court, he was ordered forthwith to celebrate a marriage between his Majesty and the Lady Catherine Par, the
*" Gardyner. - It will ne'er be well
widow of Lord Latimer, and well known to be a decided Lutheran, although, from the discretion which always marked her conduct, she had taken care not to give offence to those of opposite opinions. Of the mature age of thirty-five, she was by no means without personal attractions; but no one had ever dreamed of Henry putting up with a widow after his many declarations, both to parliament and in private society, that he could have nothing to say to any woman who he could not be sure, from his superior science, was an untouched virgin.
When Gardyner had recovered his speech, he made an objection, that the forms of the Church must be observed even by crowned heads; and that the proposed marriage, at that moment, would be irregular and uncanonical. But his astonishment and mortification were redoubled when the King, saying he had foreseen that difficulty, produced to him a licence from Archbishop Cranmer, dispensing with the publication of banns, and allowing the ceremony to take place at any hour and in any place, "for the honour and weal of the realm." The wily prelate perceived that he had been completely outwitted, and that, as a piece of wicke pleasantry, it was intended to make him the instrument of bring ing about a matrimonial union, which it was known would be so distasteful to him. But he could no longer resist the King's commands; and being led into a small private chapel in the Palace, there he found the Lady Catherine and all requisite preparations for the ceremony,-through which, Henry having gone for the sixth time, in a few minutes the widow Latimer was Queen of England.*
Gardyner, who had always a great command of himself, behaved with decency; but he felt that he had been insulted, and secretly vowing revenge, he resolved to "bide his time.”
He took every opportunity of instilling suspicion into the King's mind respecting Cranmer's principles and purposes; [A. D. 1544.] and at last Henry gave consent that the Archbishop should be examined before the Council, and that they should take such steps respecting him as the safety of the state might require. But it had been intended from the beginning to play off another trick upon Gardyner; or the King, upon farther consideration, resolved to disappoint and to mortify him; for his Majesty gave Cranmer a ring, to be shown, in case of necessity, as a proof that he was still in full favour.
It was supposed that the Archbishop was at last to share the fate of Fisher, More, and Cromwell. Being summoned as a criminal before the Council,-after he had been kept waiting for some hours at the door among the populace, he was called in and underwent a strict interrogatory respecting his opinions. Gardyner then said in a stern tone: " My Lord of Canterbury, you must stand committed to the Tower." The Archbishop showed the royal sig
*Chron. Catal. 238.
net; and the King himself suddenly coming in, sharply reprimanded Gardyner and Chancellor Wriothesley for their harsh conduct to a man to whom he owed such obligations, and whom he was determined to protect.*
In the following year, Gardyner thought that the hour of vengeance had at last arrived. The King, of his own accord, complained to him of the Queen,-represent[A. D. 1546.] ing, “that he had discovered, to his great concern, that she entertained most suspicious opinions concerning the real presence, and other points comprised in the Six Articles; and that, forgetting the modesty of her sex, and the subjection of the wife to the husband (to say nothing of what was due to himself as Sovereign and Defender of the Faith), she had actually been arguing with him on these essential heads of theology, and had been trying to undermine his orthodoxy, and to make him a convert to the damnable dectrines of Luther, which, in his youth, he had refuted with so much glory." Gardyner eagerly laid hold of the opportunity to inflame the quarrel; and strongly inculcated upon the King his duty to forget every private consideration, and to set a bright example of piety and Christain courage by prosecuting the sharer of the bed and throne for thus violating the law of God and a statute of the realm. The King, exasperated by these exhortations, agreed that the matter should be mentioned to Wriothesley; and (as we have seen in the life of that Chancellor), had it not been for the accident of the articles of impeachment being clandestinely read, and secretly communicated to the Queen before they were acted upon, so as to give her an opportunity for a dexterous explanation which soothed the King's wrath-she would certainly have been sent to the Tower,-and, probably, ending her career on Tower Hill, Henry would have made a seventh attempt to have a wife both chaste and orthodox.
During the rest of this reign Gardyner was out of favour at Court, and obliged to confine himself to the discharge of what he considered his duties as a prelate. In this capacity he took an
* Shakspeare gives a very lively and just representation of this scene in the fifth Act of Hen. VIII,-only that, by his usual pardonable disregard of dates, he supposes it to have happened in the lifetime of Anne Boleyn, at least twelve years sooner. Gardyner's speech is very characteristic:
"My Lord, because we have business of more moment,
From hence you be committed to the Tower;
You shall know many dare accuse you boldly,
And see him safe i' the Tower."-Hen. VIII. act v. sc. 2.
† Ante, Vol. I. Chap. XXXV. Some historians think that in this affair Henry was again mystifying Gardyner. I have no doubt that, in the present instance, he was serious and sincere.