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proof of his conviction of the scriptural validity of the religious tenets and practices of the reformers been one less involving his personal gratification. As a catholic clergyman, he was archdeacon of Taunton,-he was bound by a vow of celibacy; and though the study of the gospel soon taught him that this obligation was unwarranted, as being unscriptural, he should not have violated it without an explicit renouncement of all allegiance to the see of Rome. But the permission to marry seems to have been the great lure to many of the clergy at this time to adopt the principles of the reformation, and to have been eagerly embraced by them as a compensation for the loss of their Cranmer extravagant wealth and privileges. married a kinswoman of his friend Osiander; an act of rebellion to the papal jurisdiction, which, being unavowed, exposed him in the sequel to many unworthy shifts and equivocations. The first of these was consequent upon his consecration as archbishop of Canterbury.
While Cranmer was advocating the king's divorce to the German divines, and fitting himselt to be the guardian of the reformation in his native country, it was notified to him that the judgment or the partiality of his sovereign had appointed him to the metropolitan see of England, then vacant by the death of archbishop Warham. Many circumstances united in recommending him thus signally to the favour of Henry; none, perhaps, more influentially than his zeal and boldness in maintaining the royal cause at Rome and in the continental universities, and the friendship of Anne Boleyn and her family. The first announcement, however, of his new dignity alarmed more than it gratified him. By his marriage he had, to all intents and purposes, rebelled against the pope's authority; and yet, as the king had not yet determined on severing for ever the English connection with Rome, as archbishop of Canterbury, he should solicit the usual bulls of consecration, and take the usual oath of canonical obedience to the chair of St. Peter; acts, moreover, implying an observance of his vow of celibacy. He hesitated: he perhaps resolved upon declining the proffered honour. "He would be great; Was not without ambition; but without The illness should attend it. What he would highly, That would be holily."
which he was mainly indebted for his promotion soon afterwards to the see of Canterbury.
Nothing could be more inopportune, both as to time and place, to Clement than this embassy. He had just been with the emperor at Bologna, successfully treating for the restoration of those possessions, part of the patrimony of St. Peter, which had been held by the imperial troops since the memorable sack of Rome. Fear as well as policy forbade his exciting the anger of Charles, whose pride made him indignantly hostile to the intended outrage upon the honour of his family. On the other hand, he was well disposed towards Henry; and but for his terror of the emperor's arms, would gladly have adopted any expedient that might relieve both from their anxiety and embarrassments. As it was, he received the ambassadors most graciously, and promised to act as favourably in their master's affair as his conscience would permit. Cranmer he complimented by appointing him his penitentiary for England and Ireland. The ambassadors next proceeded to explain their business personally to the emperor, but were still more unsuccessful. Charles's anger burst forth at the sight of the father of her whom he conceived to be the immediate cause of his aunt's intended degradation. To Cranmer alone would he pay the least attention, haughtily imposing silence on the earl of Wiltshire. Stop, sir," said he; "allow your colleagues to speak ;-you are a party in the cause." Through his threats and influence, Clement soon after issued an inhibitory brief on the whole proceedings; the proximate occasion, as the reader is aware, of the overthrow of the papal supremacy in England.
Cranmer did not return to England with the earl of Wiltshire, but proceeded to Germany, where he resided for nearly two years, endeavouring to convince the Lutheran divines of the nullity of the king's marriage with his brother's widow; and conducting embassies with the elector of Saxony and other protestant princes. But he seems to have made but a slight impression on those theologians; chiefly, it is said, because they had strong doubts of the purity of Henry's motives, and of the sincerity of his alleged scruples. They, however, were more successful in imbuing him with their principles of religion, and in preparing him for the sacred office of head of the protestant church of England. Though a spark of the flame which Luther and the other reformers had kindled in Saxony and Switzerland had reached him in his cloister at Cambridge, prompting him to make the Holy Volume the standard and the source, the beginning and the end, of his faith; it was to his conferences at this time with the German divines, particularly Osiander and Bucer, that he was indebted (not at once, but by degrees,) for a rule of belief, scriptural in its basis, and unalloyed by papal superstition.
The reputation of Cranmer would have been more pure and unquestioned, had the first decided VOL. III.-7
He knew that to announce his marriage to Henry would be fatal to his election; for that monarch continued till his last breath to enforce the observance of clerical celibacy with the stake and halter. On the other hand, rebel as he was in heart and deed to the usurped authority of the bishops of Rome, how could he reconcile it to his conscience to swear canonical obedience to that authority, and thereby proclaim either the nullity
his marriage or the violation of his vow? In this dilemma he had recourse to an artifice, which, as bishop Burnet justly remarks, "agreed better with the maxims of canonists and casuists than 193
with Cranmer's sincerity and integrity;" namely, a protest made in the Chapter House of St. Stephen, before four "authentica persona, et testibus fide dignis," before consecration,-in the absence and without the knowledge of the party most interested, --that he did not intend, by his oath to the pope, "to restrain himself from any thing to which he was bound by his duty to God or the king, or from taking any part in any reformation of the English church which he might judge to be required." Having, in an inner apartment, made this protestation, he was publicly consecrated, took the oath of canonical obedience, and received the papal pallium. The title of archbishop of Canterbury was changed, after Henry had assumed to himself the ecclesiastical supremacy, to that of primate and metropolitan of all England.
It is not necessary to dwell upon the moral character of this transaction. If such a protest be invested with any validity, oaths cease to bind, and truth and sincerity in the affairs of life are no longer attainable. It cannot be alleged, in palliation of this first deviation from the strict path or rectitude, that it was the unavoidable result of circumstances; for Cranmer was not, and could not, be forced into the archiepiscopal chair; and therefore voluntarily entailed upon himself all the moral consequences of his elevation. The truth is, want of firmness was the "vicious mole" in Cranmer's character. He was from nature virtuously inclined and candid; but he would be great, and could not resist the opportunity. Such conduct produced its inevitable results: it destroyed that consciousness of inflexible dignity of purpose which is at once the offspring and the safeguard of moral integrity. Cranmer felt that he could not stand erect in the independence of an uncompromising spirit before his sovereign, and was thereby reduced into an unworthy compliance with all the caprices and vicious mandates of that sovereign's will. Hence the equivocations and shifts, and even persecutions, in which he was made most unwillingly instrumental during the remainder of Henry's reign. And thus
Henry had, at the instigation of Cromwell, on the failure of his hopes of obtaining the papal sanction for his divorce, renounced all allegiance to the see of Rome, and constituted himself supreme head of the church of England. It was, therefore, truly gratifying to him to possess a primate so much after his own heart-so far as renouncing the pontifical authority was concerned -as Cranmer. He now resolved to make the new archbishop, in virtue of his ecclesiastical office, pronounce the marriage of Catharine null, and that which he had lately concluded in private with Anne Boleyn valid; and the issue of the
former illegitimate, and that of the latter, as a matter of course, to be lawfully begotton in wedlock. A convocation was then sitting upon the two main questions involved in the intended diCranmer took his seat as head of the ecclesiastical body in England, and demanded the votes. The result was favourable to the king by large majorities. The archbishop then craved the royal permission to examine and determine the great cause of the divorce; stating that his conscience impelled him to the step, to avoid the evils of a scandalous marriage, and of a consequently doubtful succession. Henry, with farcical solemnity, made a virtue of acceding to the request; at the same time reminding the primate that he was nothing more than the principal minister belonging to the spiritual jurisdiction of the crown, and that the sovereign had no superior on earth, and was not subject to the laws of any earthly creature. The subsequent proceedings, as narrated by our historians, are well known. We shall, therefore, merely quote Cranmer's own account of them, in a letter (published by Mr. Ellis in the first series of his historical collection), to the English ambassador at the court of Charles, which, besides being less known to the general reader, contains other interesting particulars.
After some prefatory complimentary remarks, he goes on:-" And fyrste as towchyng the small determynacion and concludyng of the matter of devorse betwene my lady Kateren and the kyngs grace, whyche said matter after the convocacion in that behalf hadde determyned, and agreed accordyng to the former consent of the vniversities, yt was thought convenient by the kyng and his learnyd councell that I shoulde repayre unto Dunstable, whyche ys within iiij myles vnto Amptell, where the said lady Kateren kepeth her howse, and there to call her before me, to hear the fynall sentence in this said mateir. Notwithstanding she would not att all obey thereunto, for whan she was by doctour Lee cited to appear by a daye, she utterly refused the same, sayinge that inasmoche as her cause was before the pope she would have none other judge; and therefore would not take me for her judge. Nevertheless the vinth day of Maye, according to the said appoyntment, I came vnto Dunstable, my lorde of Lyncolne beying assistante vnto me, and my lorde of Wyncehester, &c. with diuerse other lernyd in the lawe beying councillours in the lawe for the king's parte: and soe these at our commyng kept a courte for the apperance of the said lady Kateren, when were examyned certeyn witnes whyche testified that she was lawfully cited and called to appere, whome for fawte of apperance was declared contumax; procedyng in the said cause agaynste her in panam contumacium, as the processe of the lawe thereunto belongeth; whyche contynewed xv dayes after our cummyng thither. And the morrow after Assension daye I gave finall sentence therein, howe that it was indispensable for the pope to lycense
any such marieges." The archbishop next proceeds to give an account of queen Anne's coronation, but at too great length for our pages. With respect to his having been present at her marriage, which Mr. Hume, on the authority of lord Herbert, erroneously asserts, he says, "But nowe, sir, you may nott ymagyn that this coronacion was before her mariege; for she was maried muche about Sainte Paule's daye last, as the condicion thereof dothe well appere by reason she ys nowe sumwhat bygg with chylde. Notwithstanding yt hath byn reported thorowyte a greate parte of the realme that I maried her; whyche was playnly false, for I myself knewe not thereof a fortenyght after yt was donne."
The remainder of this letter is curious, as showing the cool indifference with which a constitutionally humane man of the 16th century consigns to the stake his fellow-creatures for doctrines which, it is to be hoped for the honour of human nature, he then did not believe, but for the denial of which he in the next reign doomed others to the same horrible punishment. "Other newyes have we none notable," he says, "but that one Fryth, whyche was in the Tower in pryson, was appointed by the kyng's grace to be examyned before me, my lordes of London, Wynchester, and Suffolk, my lord chancellour, and my lorde of Wylteshere, whose opynion was so notably erroniouse, that we culde not dyspache hym, but was fayne to leve hym to the determynacion of his ordinarye, whyche ys the bishop of London. His said opynyon ys of suche nature that he thought it nat necessary to be beleued as an article of our faythe, that there ys the very corporall presence of Christe within the oste and sacramente of the alter, and holdeth of this poynte muste (much) after the opynion of Oecolampodious. And suerly I myself sent for hym iij or iiij times, to persuade him to leve that his imaginacion, but for all that we coulde do therein he woulde not applye to any counsaile, notwithstandying nowe he ys at a fynale ende with all examinacions; for my lorde of London hathe gyven sentance, and delyuered hym to the secular power, where he looketh euery daye to goo unto the fyre. And there is also condempned with hym one Andrew, a taylour, for the self same opynion." The reader, perhaps, need not be reminded that both these unfortunate men went "unto the fyre."
Henry had now been three years wedded to Anne Boleyn, with as much of domestic felicity as his brutal nature could permit his enjoying. During that time the "new learning" (as the reformation doctrines were then designated) had been silently diffusing itself, chiefly by means of the influence indirectly exercised in its favour, at the instigation of Cranmer and Latimer, by the young queen. Cranmer had been an inmate of the family of the earl of Wiltshire, and had there an opportunity of acquainting himself with Ann Boleyn's virtues and disposition, and of strengthening the
predilection for the Lutheran doctrines which she had early acquired from the celebrated Margaret de Valois. In annulling the king's former marriage, and pronouncing the validity of his present, the archbishop felt he was advancing the cause of the reformation. But Henry had now conceived a new passion; his affections for Anne had been effaced by the charms of Jane Seymour: the former, therefore, must be got rid of, to make way on the throne for her rival. A trial took place, and, as a matter of course in this reign of base obsequiousness to the most cruelly selfish of tyrants, guilty or innocent, conviction and execution soon followed.
Cranmer had been staying at the archiepiscopal palace at Croydon when Anne was arrested. The next day he received the royal mandate to repair immediately to Lambeth, with an injunction not to approach the presence till he was expressly desired. The message produced the effect for which it was intended: it intimidated him, and thereby rendered him the more pliant instrument of the king's pleasure. A letter which he addressed to Henry the day after his being commanded to confine himself to his palace will best explain his conduct and feelings. We shall give it entire, as an elaborate painting of his mind, and because it has been the subject of much contrariety of opinion: those who admire his character appealing to it as a proof of his chivalrous fidelity and courage; those who do not, as a striking testimony of his timeserving timidity, Probably the reader will arrive at the conclusion that it neither deserves all the praises of the one, nor all the censures of the other; and that its chief merit is its cautious ingenuity. We quote from Burnet.
"Pleaseth it your most noble grace to be advertised, that at your grace's commandment by Mr. secretary's letters, written in your grace's name, I came to Lambeth yesterday, and do there remain to know your grace's farther pleasure. And forasmuch as, without your grace's commandment, I dare not, contrary to the contents of the said letters, presume to come unto your grace's presence, nevertheless, of my most bounden duty, I can do no less than most humbly to desire your grace, by your great wisdom, and by the assistance of God's help, somewhat to suppress the deep sorrow of your grace's heart, and to take all adversities of God's hand both patiently and thankfully. I cannot deny but your grace hath great causes, many ways, of lamentable heaviness; and also that, in the wrongful estimation of the world, your grace's honour of every part is highly touched (whether the things that commonly be spoken of be true or not), that I remember not that ever Almighty God sent unto your grace any like occasion to try your grace's constancy throughout, whether your highness can be content to take of God's hand as well things displeasant as pleasant. And if he find in your most noble heart such an obedience unto his will, that your grace, without murmuration and
overmuch heaviness, do accept all adversities, not less thanking him than when all things succeed after your grace's will and pleasure, nor less procuring his glory and honour; then, I suppose your grace did never thing more acceptable unto him since your first governance of this your realm. And, moreover, your grace shall give unto him occasion to multiply and increase his graces and benefits unto your highness, as he did unto his most faithful servant Job; unto whom, after his great calamities and heaviness, for his obedient heart, and willing acceptation of God's scourge and rod, addidit ei Dominus cuncta duplicia.
"And if it be true that is openly reported of the queen's grace, if men had a right estimation of things, they should not esteem any part of your grace's honour to be touched thereby, but her honour only to be clearly disparaged. And I am in such a perplexity, that my mind is clean amazed: for I never had better opinion in woman than I had in her; which maketh me to think that she should not be culpable. And again, I think your highness would not have goue so far, except she had surely been culpable. Now I think that your grace best knoweth, that, next unto your grace, I was most bound unto her of all creatures living. Wherefore, I most humbly beseech your grace, to suffer me in that, which both God's law, nature, and also her kindness bindeth me unto; that is, that I may, with your grace's favour, wish and pray for her, that she may declare herself inculpable and innocent. And if she be found capable, considering your grace's goodness towards her, and from what condition your grace of your only mere goodness took her, and set the crown upon her head, I repute him not your grace's faithful servant and subject, nor true unto the realm, that would not desire the offence without mercy to be punished, to the example of all other. And as I loved her not a little, for the love which I judged her to bear towards God and his gospel; so, if she be proved culpable, there is not one that loveth God and his gospel that ever will favour her, but must hate her above all other; and the more they favour the gospel, the more they will hate her: for there never was creature in our time that so much slandered the gospel. And God hath sent her this punishment, for that she feignedly hath professed this gospel in her mouth, and not in heart and deed. And though she have offended so, that she hath deserved never to be reconciled unto your grace's favour, yet Almighty God hath manifestly declared his goodness towards your grace, and never offended you. But your grace, I am sure, acknowledgeth that you have offended him. Wherefore I trust that your grace will bear no less entire favour unto the truth of the gospel than you did before: forasmuch as your grace's favour to the gospel was not led by affection unto her, but by zeal unto the truth. And thus I beseech Almighty God, whose gospel hath ordained your grace to be defended of, ever to preserve your grace from all
evil, and to give you at the end the promise of his gospel. From Lambeth, the 3d day of May."
[Cranmer had written, but not despatched this letter, when he was summoned to a conference by the lord chancellor and other peers, who stated to him the facts which, they said, could be proved against the queen. He therefore, in a postscript, added as follows] :
"After I had written this letter unto your grace, my lord chancellor, &c., sent for me to come unto the star-chamber; and there declared unto me such things as your grace's pleasure was they should make me privy unto. For the which I am most bounden unto your grace. And what communication we had therein, I doubt not but they will make the true report thereof to your grace. I am exceedingly sorry that such faults can be proved by the queen as I heard of their relation. But I am, and ever shall be, your faithful subject. "Your grace's
"Humble subject and chaplain,
The writer of this letter, it is plain, only awaits the king's commands as to the side on which he should array himself; though it is equally evident that his inclination went to assert the innocence of her to whom, next to his sovereign, he "was most bound of all creatures living." He had pronounced the divorce between Henry and Catharine, and thereby was a great instrument in destroying the papal supremacy in England. He had confirmed, by his archiepiscopal authority, the marriage of Anne; and by so doing, he was persuaded, favoured the spread of the gospel truth and pure religion. He was now commanded to declare that that marriage 'was, and always had been, null and void;' and that, as a necessary consequence, his god-child, the princess Elizabeth, should be no longer reputed legitimate. He dared not hesitate. After one of those solemn mockeries of the forms of justice, designated trials, which abound in this monstrous reign, Cranmer, "having God alone before his eyes," dissolved the marriage of Henry and Anne Boleyn. A similar, but fortunately less bloody, farce was performed a very few years after, when the king wished to get rid of Anne of Cleves. In obedience to the faintly expressed wishes of her disgusted husband, the archbishop and chancellor, at the head of a deputation, humbly solicited their gracious master's permission to submit to his consideration a subject of great delicacy and importance. Henry, having, he said, "no other object in view than the glory of God, the welfare of the realm, and the triumph of truth," consented, on the condition that they would not propose any thing to him unreasonable and unjust. The subject was then cautiously broached, as arising solely from their own conscientious scruples; and, in perfect keeping with the farcical hypocrisy of the whole proceeding, the marriage was declared null and void, because "the king had been deceived by the exag
gerated accounts of Anne's beauty, and had not given his inward assent to the contract." And yet this man was popular with the mass of his subjects, and is not without his eulogists even in the present day!
But it was not alone in the matter of wife-murder, or other civil exercises of the royal prerogative, that, during this reign, the will or caprice of the monarch was the sole law and measure. His
"Sic volo, sic jubeo;-stet pro ratione voluntas," extended even to the consciences of his subjects. By an arrogant exertion of power, not to be paralleled in the annals of oriental despotism, Henry made his own theological tenets-such as they were then, or "hereafter might be"--the exclusive test and standard of religious orthodoxy. From his dictum there was no appeal nor subterfuge: to question his infallibility was a crime beyond the pale of mercy; to dissent from his doctrines was to incur the extremity of punishment in this world, and, according to his infallible canonists, an eternity of torment hereafter. And his was not the age of martyrs. He had two favourite principles, or dogmata of belief, which he maintained with all the unrelenting intolerance of a theologian o the sixteenth century, and with all the jealousy of a tyrant in every age; and, we should add, with all the despotic inconsistency of his character:these were, his ecclesiastical supremacy, and the catholic doctrine of the "real presence," as explained by himself in his controversy with Luther. By the former he attached to his person the great promoters of the "new learning," of which Cranmer and Latimer were the heads; by the latter he conciliated the adherents of the ancient worship, of which Gardiner, bishop of Winchester, one of the craftiest and ablest men of his time, was the acknowledged chief. The court and nation were pretty equally divided between these two great antagonist parties; not that their wayward and imperious master allowed any open manifestation of their differences, which might imply a freedom of opinion, and thence an undue infringement on the royal authority. He himself vibrated between them; and by alternately exciting their hopes and fears, insured to himself the most servile submission of both; for, as we before observed, this was not an age of martyrs or high-minded patriots.
The services, however, and the moderation and amiable temper of Cranmer obtained for him the largest share of the king's friendship; unhappily for himself, as it compelled him to be a chief instrument in the persecutions of that reign. These persecutions were conducted with a stern, and, if we might say of so serious a subject, with a ludicrous impartiality. To assert the papal supremacy was treason; to deny the papal doctrine of the eucharist was heresy: the one was punished by hanging; the other with the faggot. Thus papists and protestants were equally obnoxious to the law, should their zeal lead them to an open assertion of all their respective tenets. Henry, to use his own
language, could thus "snouch the stiff mumpsimus of the one (the Romanists), or the busy rumpsimus of the other (the reformers)," at pleasure. And it did please him betimes; though, owing, we have no doubt, to the moderate councils of Cranmer, not to such an extent as might be expected from his despotic and sanguinary temper. Two days after the execution of Cromwell, who first suggested to his master the policy of renouncing the papal supremacy, and who was but the too faithful minister of his will, three catholics, coupled with three protestants, were dragged on the same hurdle from the Tower to Smithfield, and there executed; the former being hanged and quartered as traitors, for denying the king's ecclesiastical pre-eminence; the latter being consumed by fire, as heretics, for questioning the royal doctrine of the eucharist.
But of all the persecutions for heresy of this reign, none excited greater interest than that of Lambert, a schoolmaster in priest's orders, for heresy, that is, for denying the catholic doctrine of the real presence. Lambert had been imprisoned for the same offence by Cranmer's predecessor in the see of Canterbury, but had escaped punishment by that prelate's timely death. Nothing intimidated, he persisted, after his release, in the open avowal of his opinions, till having heard a sermon on the subject from Dr. Taylor, afterwards bishop of London, he presented that dignitary with an elaborately written protest, under eight heads or reasons, against the Romanist doctrine of transubstantiation. Taylor handed the paper to Dr. Barnes, who maintained the Lutheran consubstantiation theory of the eucharist; but as this differed again from the Wycliffism of Lambert, the latter was cited by Barnes to answer for his heresy before the archbishop. Cranmer, on the accused being brought before him, endeavoured to reason or to intimidate him into a recantation; but Lambert, instead of yielding, appealed from the metropolitan to the king, as head of the church. Henry eagerly embraced so favourable an opportunity for displaying his theological learning, and for asserting his ecclesiastical supremacy. A day was publicly fixed for the unusual contest; and at the appointed hour, the king appeared on his throne, with all his judges, ministers, bishops, and officers of state, to enter the lists with the schoolmaster. The proceedings are told with dramatic effect by Mr. Hume. For five hours the unfortunate Lambert had to contend with the harangues of Henry, Cranmer, Gardiner, and five other leaders of both the old and the new learning. At the end of this time he was asked by the exulting monarch whether he was "satisfied? Wilt thou live or die?" The exhausted and intimidated culprit had no reply, but that he threw himself on the royal mercy. "Thou must die then!-thou must die for I will not be the patron of heretics," was the humane answer. Lambert met his fate with firmness; and not the least remarkable circum