THE APPRENTICESHIP OF HENRY VIII.
Quietly and peacefully, without a threat from abroad or a murmur at home, the crown, which his father had won amid the storm and stress of the field of battle, devolved upon Henry VIII. With an eager profusion of zeal Ferdinand of Aragon placed at Henry's disposal his army, his fleet, his personal services. There was no call for this sacrifice. For generations there had been no such tranquil demise of the crown. Not a ripple disturbed the surface of affairs as the old King lay sick in April, 1509, in Richmond Palace at Sheen. By his bedside stood his only surviving son; and to him the dying monarch addressed his last words of advice. He desired him to complete his marriage with Catherine, he exhorted him to defend the Church, and to make war on the infidel; he commended to him his faithful councillors, and is believed to have urged upon him the execution of De la Pole, Earl of Suffolk, the White Rose of England. On the 22nd he was dead. A fortnight later the funeral procession wended its way from Sheen to St. Paul's, where the illustrious John Fisher, cardinal and martyr, preached the éloge. Thence it passed down the Strand, between hedges and willows clad in the fresh green of spring, to
That acre sown indeed
With the richest, royallest seed
That the earth did e'er drink in.
There, in the vault beneath the chapel in Westminster Abbey, which bears his name and testifies to his magnificence in building, Henry VII was laid to rest beside his Queen; dwelling, says Bacon, “more richly dead in the monument of his tomb than he did alive in Richmond or any of his palaces”. For years before and after, Torrigiano, the rival of Buonarotti, wrought at its “matchless altar”, not a stone of which survived the Puritan fury of the civil war.
On the day of his father's death, or the next, the new King removed from Richmond Palace to the Tower, whence, on 23rd April, was dated the first official act of his reign. He confirmed in ampler form the general pardon granted a few days before by Henry VII; but the ampler form was no bar to the exemption of fourscore offenders from the act of grace. Foremost among them were the three brothers De la Pole, Sir Richard Empson and Edmund Dudley. The exclusion of Empson and Dudley from the pardon was more popular than the pardon itself. If anything could have enhanced Henry's favour with his subjects, it was the condign punishment of the tools of his father's extortion. Their death was none the less welcome for being unjust. They were not merely refused pardon and brought to the block; a more costly concession was made when their bonds for the payment of loans were cancelled. Their victims, so runs the official record, had been "without any ground or matter of truth, by the undue means of certain of the council of our said late father, thereunto driven contrary to law, reason and good conscience, to the manifest charge and peril of the soul of our said late father".
If filial piety demanded the delivery of his father's soul from peril, it counselled no less the fulfilment of his dying requests, and the arrangements for Catherine's marriage were hurried on with an almost indecent haste. The instant he heard rumours of Henry VII's death, Ferdinand sent warning to his envoy in England that Louis of France and others would seek by all possible means to break off the match. To further it, he would withdraw his objections to the union of Charles and Mary; and a few days later he wrote again to remove any scruples Henry might entertain about marrying his deceased brother's wife; while to Catherine herself he declared with brutal frankness that she would get no other husband than Henry. All his paternal anxiety might have been spared. Long before Ferdinand's persuasions could reach Henry's ears, he had made up his mind to consummate the marriage. He would not, he wrote to Margaret of Savoy, disobey his father's commands, reinforced as they were by the dispensation of the Pope and by the friendship between the two families contracted by his sister Mary's betrothal to Catherine's nephew Charles. There were other reasons besides those he alleged. A council trained by Henry VII was loth to lose the gold of Catherine's dower; it was of the utmost importance to strengthen at once the royal line; and a full-blooded youth of Henry's temperament was not likely to repel a comely wife ready to his hand, when the dictates of his father's policy no longer stood between them. So on 11th June, barely a month after Henry VII's obsequies, the marriage, big with destinies, of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon was privately solemnised by Archbishop Warham "in the Queen's closet" at Greenwich. On the same day the commission of claims was appointed for the King's and Queen's coronation. A week then sufficed for its business, and on Sunday, 24th June, the Abbey was the scene of a second State function within three months. Its splendour and display were emblematic of the coming reign. Warham placed the crown on the King's head; the people cried, "Yea, yea!" in a loud voice when asked if they would have Henry as King; Sir Robert Dymock performed the office of champion; and a banquet, jousts and tourneys concluded the ceremonies.
Though he had wedded a wife and been crowned a king, Henry was as yet little more than a boy. A powerful mind ripens slowly in a vigorous frame, and Henry's childish precocity had given way before a youthful devotion to physical sports. He was no prodigy of early development. His intellect, will and character were of a gradual, healthier growth; they were not matured for many years after he came to the throne. He was still in his eighteenth year; and like most young Englishmen of means and muscle, his interests centred rather in the field than in the study. Youth sat on the prow and pleasure at the helm. "Continual feasting" was the phrase in which Catherine described their early married life. In the winter evenings there were masks and comedies, romps and revels, in which Henry himself, Bessie Blount and other young ladies of his Court played parts. In the spring and summer there were archery and tennis. Music, we are told, was practised day and night. Two months after his accession Henry wrote to Ferdinand that he diverted himself with jousts, birding, hunting, and other innocent and honest pastimes, in visiting various parts of his kingdom, but that he did not therefore neglect affairs of State. Possibly he was as assiduous in his duties as modern university athletes in their studies; the neglect was merely comparative. But Ferdinand's ambassador remarked on Henry's aversion to business, and his councillors complained that he cared only for the pleasures of his age. Two days a week, said the Spaniard, were devoted to single combats on foot, initiated in imitation of the heroes of romance, Amadis and Lancelot; and if Henry's other innocent and honest pastimes were equally exacting, his view of the requirements of State may well have been modest. From the earliest days of his reign the general outline of policy was framed in accord with his sentiments, and he was probably consulted on most questions of importance. But it was not always so; in August, 1509, Louis XII acknowledged a letter purporting to come from the English King with a request for friendship and peace. "Who wrote this letter?" burst out Henry. "I ask peace of the King of France, who dare not look me in the face, still less make war on me!" His pride at the age of eighteen was not less than his ignorance of what passed in his name. He had yet to learn the secret that painful and laborious mastery of detail is essential to him who aspires not merely to reign but to rule; and matters of detail in administration and diplomacy were still left in his ministers' hands.
With the exception of Empson and Dudley, Henry made little or no change in the council his father bequeathed him. Official precedence appertained to his Chancellor, Warham, Archbishop of Canterbury. Like most of Henry VII's prelates, he received his preferment in the Church as a reward for services to the State. Much of the diplomatic work of the previous reign had passed through his hands; he helped to arrange the marriage of Arthur and Catherine, and was employed in the vain attempt to obtain Margaret of Savoy as a bride for Henry VII. As Archbishop he crowned and married Henry VIII, and as Chancellor he delivered orations at the opening of the young King's first three Parliaments. They are said to have given general satisfaction, but apart from them, Warham, for some unknown reason, took little part in political business. So far as Henry can be said at this time to have had a Prime Minister, that title belongs to Fox, his Lord Privy Seal and Bishop of Winchester. Fox had been even more active than Warham in politics, and more closely linked with the personal fortunes of the two Tudor kings. He had shared the exile of Henry of Richmond; the treaty of Étaples, the Intercursus Magnus, the marriage of Henry's elder daughter to James IV, and the betrothal of his younger to Charles, were largely the work of his hands. Malicious gossip described him as willing to consent to his own father's death to serve the turn of his king, and a better founded belief ascribed to his wit the invention of "Morton's fork". He was Chancellor of Cambridge in 1500, as Warham was of Oxford, but won more enduring fame by founding the college of Corpus Christi in the university over which the Archbishop presided. He had baptised Henry VIII and advocated his marriage to Catherine; and to him the King extended the largest share in his confidence. Badoer, the Venetian ambassador, called him "alter rex," and Carroz, the Spaniard, said Henry trusted him most; but Henry was not blind to the failings of his most intimate councillors, and he warned Carroz that the Bishop of Winchester was, as his name implied, a fox indeed. A third prelate, Ruthal of Durham, divided with Fox the chief business of State; and these clerical advisers were supposed to be eager to guide Henry's footsteps in the paths of peace, and counteract the more adventurous tendencies of their lay colleagues.
At the head of the latter stood Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey, soon to be rewarded for his victory at Flodden by his restoration to the dukedom of Norfolk. He and his son, the third duke, were Lord High Treasurers throughout Henry's reign; but jealousy of their past, Tudor distrust of their rank, or personal limitations, impaired the authority that would otherwise have attached to their official position; and Henry never trusted them as he did ministers whom he himself had raised from the dust. Surrey had served under Edward IV and Richard III; he had fought against Henry at Bosworth, been attainted and sent to the Tower. Reflecting that it was better to be a Tudor official at Court than a baronial magnate in prison, he submitted to the King and was set up as a beacon to draw his peers from their feudal ways. The rest of the council were men of little distinction. Shrewsbury, the Lord High Steward, was a pale reflex of Surrey, and illustrious in nought but descent. Charles Somerset, Lord Herbert, who was Chamberlain and afterwards Earl of Worcester, was a Beaufort bastard, and may have derived some little influence from his harmless kinship with Henry VIII. Lovell, the Treasurer, Poynings the Controller of the Household, and Harry Marney, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, were tried and trusty officials. Bishop Fisher was great as a Churchman, a scholar, a patron of learning, but not as a man of affairs; while Buckingham, the only duke in England, and his brother, the Earl of Wiltshire, were rigidly excluded by dynastic jealousy from all share in political authority.
The most persistent of Henry's advisers was none of his council. He was Ferdinand the Catholic, King of Aragon; and to his inspiration has been ascribed the course of foreign policy during the first five years of his son-in-law's reign. He worked through his daughter; the only thing she valued in life, wrote Catherine a month after her marriage, was her father's confidence. When Membrilla was recalled because he failed to satisfy Catherine's somewhat exacting temper, she was herself formally commissioned to act in his place as Ferdinand's ambassador at Henry's Court; Henry was begged to give her implicit credence and communicate with Spain through her mediation! "These kingdoms of your highness," she wrote to her father, "are in great tranquillity." Well might Ferdinand congratulate himself on the result of her marriage, and the addition of fresh, to his already extensive, domains. He needed them all to ensure the success of his far-reaching schemes. His eldest grandson, Charles, was heir not only to Castile and Aragon, Naples and the Indies, which were to come to him from his mother, Ferdinand's imbecile daughter, Juana, but to Burgundy and Austria, the lands of his father, Philip, and of Philip's father, the Emperor Maximilian. This did not satisfy Ferdinand's grasping ambition; he sought to carve out for his second grandson, named after himself, a kingdom in Northern Italy. On the Duchy of Milan, the republics of Venice, Genoa and Florence, his greedy eyes were fixed. Once conquered, they would bar the path of France to Naples; compensated by these possessions, the younger Ferdinand might resign his share in the Austrian inheritance to Charles; while Charles himself was to marry the only daughter of the King of Hungary, add that to his other dominions, and revive the empire of Charlemagne. Partly with these objects in view, partly to draw off the scent from his own track, Ferdinand had, in 1508, raised the hue and cry after Venice. Pope and Emperor, France and Spain, joined in the chase, but of all the parties to the league of Cambrai, Louis XII was in a position to profit the most. His victory over Venice at Agnadello (14th May, 1509), secured him Milan and Venetian territory as far as the Mincio; it also dimmed the prospects of Ferdinand's Italian scheme and threatened his hold on Naples; but the Spanish King was restrained from open opposition to France by the fact that Louis was still mediating between him and Maximilian on their claims to the administration of Castile, the realm of their daughter and daughter-in-law, Juana.
Such was the situation with which Henry VIII and his council were required to deal. The young King entered the arena of Europe, a child of generous impulse in a throng of hoary intriguers—Ferdinand, Maximilian, Louis XII, Julius II—each of whom was nearly three times his age. He was shocked to see them leagued to spoil a petty republic, a republic, too, which had been for ages the bulwark of Christendom against the Turk and from time immemorial the ally of England. Venice had played no small part in the revival of letters which appealed so strongly to Henry's intellectual sympathies. Scholars and physicians from Venice, or from equally threatened Italian republics, frequented his Court and Cabinet. Venetian merchants developed the commerce of London; Venetian galleys called twice a year at Southampton on their way to and from Flanders, and their trade was a source of profit to both nations. Inevitably Henry's sympathies went out to the sore-pressed republic. They were none the less strong because the chief of the spoilers was France, for Henry and his people were imbued with an inborn antipathy to everything French. Before he came to the throne he was reported to be France's enemy; and speculations were rife as to the chances of his invading it and imitating the exploits of his ancestor Henry V. It needed no persuasion from Ferdinand to induce him to intervene in favour of Venice. Within a few weeks of his accession he refused to publish the papal bull which cast the halo of crusaders over the bandits of Cambrai. The day after his coronation he deplored to Badoer Louis' victory at Agnadello, and a week later he wrote to the sovereigns of Europe urging the injustice of their Venetian crusade. In September he sent Bainbridge, Cardinal-Archbishop of York, to reside at the Papal Court, and watch over the interests of Venice as well as of England. "Italy," wrote Badoer, "was entirely rescued from the barbarians by the movements of the English King; and, but for that, Ferdinand would have done nothing." Henry vainly endeavoured to persuade Maximilian, the Venetian's lifelong foe, to accept arbitration; but he succeeded in inducing the Doge to make his peace with the Pope, and Julius to remove his ecclesiastical censures. To Ferdinand he declared that Venice must be preserved as a wall against the Turk, and he hinted that Ferdinand's own dominions in Italy would, if Venice were destroyed, "be unable to resist the ambitious designs of certain Christian princes". The danger was as patent to Julius and Ferdinand as it was to Henry; and as soon as Ferdinand had induced Louis to give a favourable verdict in his suit with the Emperor, the Catholic King was ready to join Henry and the Pope in a league of defence.
But, in spite of Venetian, Spanish and papal instigations to "recover his noble inheritance in France", in spite of his own indignation at the treatment of Venice, and the orders issued in the first year of his reign to his subjects to furnish themselves with weapons of war, for which the long peace had left them unprepared, Henry, or the peace party in his council, was unwilling to resort to the arbitrament of arms. He renewed his father's treaties not only with other powers, but, much to the disgust of Ferdinand, Venice and the Pope, with Louis himself. His first martial exploit, apart from 1,500 archers whom he was bound by treaty to send to aid the Netherlands against the Duke of Guelders, was an expedition for the destruction of the enemies of the faith. Such an expedition, he once said, he owed to God for his peaceful accession; at another time he declared that he cherished, like an heirloom, the ardour against the infidel which he inherited from his father. He repressed that ardour, it must be added, with as much success as Henry VII; and apart from this one youthful indiscretion, he did not suffer his ancestral zeal to escape into action. His generous illusions soon vanished before the sordid realities of European statecraft; and the defence of Christendom became with him, as with others, a hollow pretence, a diplomatic fiction, the infinite varieties of which age could not wither nor custom stale. Did a monarch wish for peace? Peace at once was imperative to enable Christian princes to combine against the Turk. Did he desire war? War became a disagreeable necessity to restrain the ambition of Christian princes who, "worse than the infidel," disturbed the peace of Christendom and opened a door for the enemies of the Church. Nor did the success of Henry's first crusade encourage him to persist in similar efforts. It sailed from Plymouth in May, 1511, to join in Ferdinand's attack on the Moors, but it had scarcely landed when bickerings broke out between the Christian allies, and Ferdinand informed the English commanders that he had made peace with the Infidel, to gird his loins for war with the Most Christian King.
In the midst of their preparation against infidels, so runs the preamble to the treaty in which Henry and Ferdinand signified their adhesion to the Holy League, they heard that Louis was besieging the Pope in Bologna. The thought of violent hands being laid on the Vicar of Christ stirred Henry to a depth of indignation which no injuries practised against a temporal power could rouse. His ingenuous deference to the Papacy was in singular contrast to the contempt with which it was treated by more experienced sovereigns, and they traded on the weight which Henry always attached to the words of the Pope. He had read Maximilian grave lectures on his conduct in countenancing the schismatic conciliabulum assembled by Louis at Pisa. He wrote to Bainbridge at the Papal Court that he was ready to sacrifice goods, life and kingdom for the Pope and the Church; and to the Emperor that at the beginning of his reign he thought of nothing else than an expedition against the Infidel. But now he was called by the Pope and the danger of the Church in another direction; and he proceeded to denounce the impiety and schism of the French and their atrocious deeds in Italy. He joined Ferdinand in requiring Louis to desist from his impious work. Louis turned a deaf ear to their demands; and in November, 1511, they bound themselves to defend the Church against all aggression and make war upon the aggressor.
This reversal of the pacific policy which had marked the first two and a half years of Henry's reign was not exclusively due to the King's zeal for the Church. The clerical party of peace in his council was now divided by the appearance of an ecclesiastic who was far more remarkable than any of his colleagues, and to whose turbulence and energy the boldness of English policy must, henceforth, for many years be mainly ascribed. Thomas Wolsey had been appointed Henry's almoner at the beginning of his reign, but he exercised no apparent influence in public affairs. It was not till 1511 that he joined the council, though during the interval he must have been gradually building up his ascendancy over the King's mind. To Wolsey, restlessly ambitious for himself, for Henry, and England, was attributed the responsibility for the sudden adoption of a spirited foreign policy; and it was in the preparations for the war of 1512 that his marvellous industry and grasp of detail first found full scope.
The main attack of the English and Spanish monarchs was to be on Guienne, and in May, 1512, Henry went down to Southampton to speed the departing fleet. It sailed from Cowes under Dorset's command on 3rd June, and a week later the army disembarked on the coast of Guipuscoa. There it remained throughout the torrid summer, awaiting the Spanish King's forces to cooperate in the invasion of France. But Ferdinand was otherwise occupied. Navarre was not mentioned in the treaty with Henry, but Navarre was what Ferdinand had in his mind. It was then an independent kingdom, surrounded on three sides by Spanish territory, and an easy prey which would serve to unite all Spain beyond the Pyrenees under Ferdinand's rule. Under pretence of restoring Guienne to the English crown, Dorset's army had been enticed to Passages, and there it was used as a screen against the French, behind which Ferdinand calmly proceeded to conquer Navarre. It was, he said, impossible to march into France with Navarre unsubdued in his rear. Navarre was at peace, but it might join the French, and he invited Dorset to help in securing the prey. Dorset refused to exceed his commission, but the presence of his army at Passages was admitted by the Spaniards to be "quite providential," as it prevented the French from assisting Navarre. English indignation was loud and deep; men and officers vowed that, but for Henry's displeasure, they would have called to account the perfidious King. Condemned to inactivity, the troops almost mutinied; they found it impossible to live on their wages of sixpence a day (equivalent now to at least six shillings), drank Spanish wine as if it were English beer, and died of dysentery like flies in the autumn. Discipline relaxed; drill was neglected. Still Ferdinand tarried, and in October, seeing no hope of an attempt on Guienne that year, the army took matters into its own hands and embarked for England.
Henry's first military enterprise had ended in disgrace and disaster. The repute of English soldiers, dimmed by long peace, was now further tarnished. Henry's own envoys complained of the army's insubordination, its impatience of the toils, and inexperience of the feats, of war; and its ignominious return exposed him to the taunts of both friends and foes. He had been on the point of ordering it home, when it came of its own accord; but the blow to his authority was not, on that account, less severe. His irritation was not likely to be soothed when he realised the extent to which he had been duped by his father-in-law. Ferdinand was loud in complaints and excuses. September and October were, he said, the proper months for a campaign in Guienne, and he was marching to join the English army at the moment of its desertion. In reality, it had served his purpose to perfection. Its presence had diverted French levies from Italy, and enabled him, unmolested, to conquer Navarre. With that he was content. Why should he wish to see Henry in Guienne? He was too shrewd to involve his own forces in that hopeless adventure, and the departure of the English furnished him with an excuse for entering into secret negotiations with Louis. His methods were eloquent of sixteenth century diplomacy. He was, he ordered Carroz to tell Henry many months later, when concealment was no longer possible or necessary, sending a holy friar to his daughter in England; the friar's health did not permit of his going by sea; so he went through France, and was taken prisoner. Hearing of his fame for piety, the French Queen desired his ghostly advice, and took the opportunity of the interview to persuade the friar to return to Spain with proposals of peace. Ferdinand was suddenly convinced that death was at hand; his confessor exhorted him to forgive and make peace with his enemies. This work of piety he could not in conscience neglect. So he agreed to a twelvemonth's truce, which secured Navarre. In spite of his conscience he would never have consented, had he not felt that the truce was really in Henry's interests. But what weighed with him most was, he said, the reformation of the Church. That should be Henry's first and noblest work; he could render no greater service to God. No reformation was possible without peace, and so long as the Church was unreformed, wars among princes would never cease.
Such reasoning, he thought, would appeal to the pious and unsophisticated Henry. To other sovereigns he used arguments more suited to their experience of his diplomacy. He told Maximilian that his main desire was to serve the Emperor's interests, to put a curb on the Italians, and to frustrate their design of driving himself, Louis and Maximilian across the Alps. But the most monumental falsehood he reserved for the Pope; his ambassador at the Papal Court was to assure Julius that he had failed in his efforts to concert with Henry a joint invasion of France, that Henry was not in earnest over the war and that he had actually made a truce with France. This had enabled Louis to pour fresh troops into Italy, and compelled him, Ferdinand, to consult his own interests and make peace! Two days later he was complaining to Louis that Henry refused to join in the truce. To punish Henry for his refusal he was willing to aid Louis against him, but he would prefer to settle the differences between the French and the English kings by a still more treacherous expedient. Julius was to be induced to give a written promise that, if the points at issue were submitted to his arbitration, he would pronounce no verdict till it had been secretly sanctioned by Ferdinand and Louis. This promise obtained, Louis was publicly to appeal to the Pope; Henry's devotion to the Church would prevent his refusing the Supreme Pontiff's mediation; if he did, ecclesiastical censures could be invoked against him. Such was the plot Ferdinand was hatching for the benefit of his daughter's husband. The Catholic King had ever deceit in his heart and the name of God on his lips. He was accused by a rival of having cheated him twice; the charge was repeated to Ferdinand. "He lies," he broke out, "I cheated him three times." He was faithful to one principle only, self-aggrandisement by fair means or foul. His favourite scheme was a kingdom in Northern Italy; but in the way of its realisation his own overreaching ambition placed an insuperable bar. Italy had been excluded from his truce with France to leave him free to pursue that design; but in July, 1512, the Italians already suspected his motives, and a papal legate declared that they no more wished to see Milan Spanish than French. In the following November, Spanish troops in the pay and alliance of Venice drove the French out of Brescia. By the terms of the Holy League, it should have been restored to its owner, the Venetian Republic. Ferdinand kept it himself; it was to form the nucleus of his North Italian dominion. Venice at once took alarm and made a compact with France which kept the Spaniards at bay until after Ferdinand's death. The friendship between Venice and France severed that between France and the Emperor; and, in 1513, the war went on with a rearrangement of partners, Henry and Maximilian on one side, against France and Venice on the other, with Ferdinand secretly trying to trick them all.
For many months Henry knew not, or refused to credit, his father-in-law's perfidy. To outward appearance, the Spanish King was as eager as ever for the war in Guienne. He was urging Henry to levy 6,000 Germans to serve for that purpose in conjunction with Spanish forces; and, in April, Carroz, in ignorance of his master's real intentions, signed on his behalf a treaty for the joint invasion of France. This forced the Catholic King to reveal his hand. He refused his ratification; now he declared the conquest of Guienne to be a task of such magnitude that preparations must be complete before April, a date already past; and he recommended Henry to come into the truce with Louis, the existence of which he had now to confess. Henry had not yet fathomed the depths; he even appealed to Ferdinand's feelings and pathetically besought him, as a good father, not to forsake him entirely. But in vain; his father-in-law deserted him at his sorest hour of need. To make peace was out of the question. England's honor had suffered a stain that must at all costs be removed. No king with an atom of spirit would let the dawn of his reign be clouded by such an admission of failure. Wolsey was there to stiffen his temper in case of need; with him it was almost a matter of life and death to retrieve the disaster. His credit was pledged in the war. In their moments of anger under the Spanish sun, the English commanders had loudly imputed to Wolsey the origin of the war and the cause of all the mischief. Surrey, for whose banishment from Court the new favourite had expressed to Fox a wish, and other "great men" at home, repeated the charge. Had Wolsey failed to bring honour with peace, his name would not have been numbered among the greatest of England's statesmen.
Henry's temper required no spur. Tudors never flinched in the face of danger, and nothing could have made Henry so resolved to go on as Ferdinand's desertion and advice to desist. He was prepared to avenge his army in person. There were to be no expeditions to distant shores; there was to be war in the Channel, where Englishmen were at home on the sea; and Calais was to be the base of an invasion of France over soil worn by the tramp of English troops. In March, 1513, Henry, to whom the navy was a weapon, a plaything, a passion, watched his fleet sail down the Thames; its further progress was told him in letters from its gallant admiral, Sir Edmund Howard, who had been strictly charged to inform the King of the minutest details in the behaviour of every one of the ships. Never had such a display of naval force left the English shores; twenty-four ships ranging downwards from the 1,600 tons of the Henry Imperial, bore nearly 5,000 marines and 3,000 mariners. The French dared not venture out, while Howard swept the Channel, and sought them in their ports. Brest was blockaded. A squadron of Mediterranean galleys coming to its relief anchored in the shallow water off Conquêt. Howard determined to cut them out; he grappled and boarded their admiral's galley. The grappling was cut away, his boat swept out in the tide, and Howard, left unsupported, was thrust overboard by the Frenchmen's pikes. His death was regarded as a national disaster, but he had retrieved England's reputation for foolhardy valour.
Meanwhile, Henry's army was gathering at Calais. On 30th June, at 7 p.m., the King himself landed. Before his departure, the unfortunate Edmund de la Pole, Earl of Suffolk, was brought to the block for an alleged correspondence with his brother in Louis' service, but really because rumours were rife of Louis' intention to proclaim the White Rose as King of England. On 21st July, Henry left Calais to join his army, which had already advanced into French territory. Heavy rains impeded its march and added to its discomfort. Henry, we are told, did not put off his clothes, but rode round the camp at three in the morning, cheering his men with the remark, "Well, comrades, now that we have suffered in the beginning, fortune promises us better things, God willing". Near Ardres some German mercenaries, of whom there were 8,000 with Henry's forces, pillaged the church; Henry promptly had three of them hanged. On 1st August the army sat down before Thérouanne; on the 10th, the Emperor arrived to serve as a private at a hundred crowns a day under the English banners. Three days later a large French force arrived at Guinegate to raise the siege; a panic seized it, and the bloodless rout that followed was named the Battle of Spurs. Louis d'Orléans, Duc de Longueville, the famous Chevalier Bayard, and others of the noblest blood in France, were among the captives. Ten days after this defeat Thérouanne surrendered; and on the 24th Henry made his triumphal entry into the first town captured by English arms since the days of Jeanne Darc. On the 26th he removed to Guinegate, where he remained a week, "according," says a curious document, "to the laws of arms, for in case any man would bid battle for the besieging and getting of any city or town, then the winner (has) to give battle, and to abide the same certain days". No challenge was forthcoming, and on 15th September Henry besieged Tournay, then said to be the richest city north of Paris. During the progress of the siege the Lady Margaret of Savoy, the Regent of the Netherlands, joined her father, the Emperor, and Henry, at Lille. They discussed plans for renewing the war next year and for the marriage of Charles and Mary. To please the Lady Margaret and to exhibit his skill Henry played the gitteron, the lute and the cornet, and danced and jousted before her. He "excelled every one as much in agility in breaking spears as in nobleness of stature". Within a week Tournay fell; on 13th October Henry commenced his return, and on the 21st he re-embarked at Calais.
Thérouanne, the Battle of Spurs, and Tournay were not the only, or the most striking, successes in this year of war. In July, Catherine, whom Henry had left as Regent in England, wrote that she was "horribly busy with making standards, banners, and badges" for the army in the North; for war with France had brought, as usual, the Scots upon the English backs. James IV., though Henry's brother-in-law, preferred to be the cat's paw of the King of France; and in August the Scots forces poured over the Border under the command of James himself. England was prepared; and on 9th September, "at Flodden hills," sang Skelton, "our bows and bills slew all the flower of their honour". James IV was left a mutilated corpse upon the field of battle. "He has paid," wrote Henry, "a heavier penalty for his perfidy than we would have wished". There was some justice in the charge. James was bound by treaty not to go to war with England; he had not even waited for the Pope's answer to his request for absolution from his oath; and his challenge to Henry, when he was in France and could not meet it, was not a knightly deed. Henry wrote to Leo for permission to bury the excommunicated Scottish King with royal honours in St. Paul's. The permission was granted, but the interment did not take place. In Italy, Louis fared no better; at Novara, on 6th June, the Swiss infantry broke in pieces the grand army of France, drove the fragments across the Alps, and restored the Duchy of Milan to the native house of Sforza.
The results of the campaign of 1513 were a striking vindication of the refusal of Henry VIII and Wolsey to rest under the stigma of their Spanish expedition of 1512. English prestige was not only restored, but raised higher than it had stood since the death of Henry V, whose "name," said Pasqualigo, a Venetian in London, "Henry VIII would now renew". He styled him "our great King". Peter Martyr, a resident at Ferdinand's Court, declared that the Spanish King was "afraid of the over-growing power of England". Another Venetian in London reported that "were Henry ambitious of dominion like others, he would soon give law to the world". But, he added, "he is good and has a good council. His quarrel was a just one, he marched to free the Church, to obtain his own, and to liberate Italy from the French. "The pomp and parade of Henry's wars have, indeed, somewhat obscured the fundamentally pacific character of his reign. The correspondence of the time bears constant witness to the peaceful tendencies of Henry and his council. "I content myself," he once said to Giustinian, "with my own, I only wish to command my own subjects; but, on the other hand, I do not choose that any one shall have it in his power to command me." On another occasion he said: "We want all potentates to content themselves with their own territories; we are content with this island of ours"; and Giustinian, after four years' residence at Henry's Court, gave it as his deliberate opinion to his Government, that Henry did not covet his neighbours' goods, was satisfied with his own dominions, and "extremely desirous of peace". Ferdinand said, in 1513, that his pensions from France and a free hand in Scotland were all that Henry really desired; and Carroz, his ambassador, reported that Henry's councillors did not like to be at war with any one. Peace, they told Badoer, suited England better than war.
But Henry's actions proclaimed louder than the words of himself or of others that he believed peace to be the first of English interests. He waged no wars on the continent except against France; and though he reigned thirty-eight years, his hostilities with France were compressed into as many months. The campaigns of 1512-13, Surrey's and Suffolk's inroads of 1522 and 1523, and Henry's invasion of 1544, represent the sum of his military operations outside Great Britain and Ireland. He acquired Tournay in 1513 and Boulogne in 1544, but the one was restored in five years for an indemnity, and the other was to be given back in eight for a similar consideration. These facts are in curious contrast with the high-sounding schemes of recovering the crown of France, which others were always suggesting to Henry, and which he, for merely conventional reasons, was in the habit of enunciating before going to war; and in view of the tenacity which Henry exhibited in other respects, and the readiness with which he relinquished his regal pretensions to France, it is difficult to believe that they were any real expression of settled policy. They were, indeed, impossible of achievement, and Henry saw the fact clearly enough. Modern phenomena such as huge armies sweeping over Europe, and capitals from Berlin to Moscow, Paris to Madrid, falling before them, were quite beyond military science of the sixteenth century. Armies fought, as a rule, only in the five summer months; it was difficult enough to victual them for even that time; and lack of commissariat or transport crippled all the invasions of Scotland. Hertford sacked Edinburgh, but he went by sea. No other capital except Rome saw an invading army. Neither Henry nor Maximilian, Ferdinand nor Charles, ever penetrated more than a few miles into France, and French armies got no further into Spain, the Netherlands, or Germany. Machiavelli points out that the chief safeguard of France against the Spaniards was that the latter could not victual their army sufficiently to pass the Pyrenees. If in Italy it was different, it was because Italy herself invited the invaders, and was mainly under foreign dominion. Henry knew that with the means at his disposal he could never conquer France; his claims to the crown were transparent conventions, and he was always ready for peace in return for the status quo and a money indemnity, with a town or so for security.
The fact that he had only achieved a small part of the conquest he professed to set out to accomplish was, therefore, no bar to negotiations for peace. There were many reasons for ending the war; the rapid diminution of his father's treasures; the accession to the papal throne of the pacific Leo in place of the warlike Julius; the absolution of Louis as a reward for renouncing the council of Pisa; the interruption of the trade with Venice; the attention required by Scotland now that her king was Henry's infant nephew; and lastly, his betrayal first by Ferdinand and now by the Emperor. In October, 1513, at Lille, a treaty had been drawn up binding Henry, Maximilian and Ferdinand to a combined invasion of France before the following June. On 6th December, Ferdinand wrote to Henry to say he had signed the treaty. He pointed out the sacrifices he was making in so doing; he was induced to make them by considering that the war was to be waged in the interests of the Holy Church, of Maximilian, Henry, and Catherine, and by his wish and hope to live and die in friendship with the Emperor and the King of England. He thought, however, that to make sure of the assistance of God, the allies ought to bind themselves, if He gave them the victory, to undertake a general war on the infidel. Ferdinand seems to have imagined that he could dupe the Almighty as easily as he hoped to cheat his allies, by a pledge which he never meant to fulfil. A fortnight after this despatch he ordered Carroz not to ratify the treaty he himself had already signed. The reason was not far to seek. He was deluding himself with the hope, which Louis shrewdly encouraged, that the French King would, after his recent reverses, fall in with the Spaniard's Italian plans. Louis might even, he thought, of his own accord cede Milan and Genoa, which would annihilate the French King's influence in Italy, and greatly facilitate the attack on Venice.
That design had occupied him throughout the summer, before Louis had become so amenable; then he was urging Maximilian that the Pope must be kept on their side and persuaded "not to forgive the great sins committed by the King of France"; for if he removed his ecclesiastical censures, Ferdinand and Maximilian "would be deprived of a plausible excuse for confiscating the territories they intended to conquer". Providence was, as usual, to be bribed into assisting in the robbery of Venice by a promise to make war on the Turk. But now that Louis was prepared to give his daughter Renée in marriage to young Ferdinand and to endow the couple with Milan and Genoa and his claims on Naples, his sins might be forgiven. The two monarchs would not be justified in making war upon France in face of these offers. Venice remained a difficulty, for Louis was not likely to help to despoil his faithful ally; but Ferdinand had a suggestion. They could all make peace publicly guaranteeing the Republic's possessions, but Maximilian and he could make a "mental reservation" enabling them to partition Venice, when France could no longer prevent it.
So on 13th March, 1514, Ferdinand renewed his truce with France, and Maximilian joined it soon after. The old excuses about the reformation of the Church, his death-bed desire to make peace with his enemies, could scarcely be used again; so Ferdinand instructed his agent to say, if Henry asked for an explanation, that there was a secret conspiracy in Italy. If he had said no more, it would have been literally true, for the conspiracy was his own; but he went on to relate that the conspiracy was being hatched by the Italians to drive him and the Emperor out of the peninsula. The two were alike in their treachery; both secretly entered the truce with France and broke their promise to Henry. Another engagement of longer standing was ruptured. Since 1508, Henry's sister Mary had been betrothed to Maximilian's grandson Charles. The marriage was to take place when Charles was fourteen; the pledge had been renewed at Lille, and the nuptials fixed not later than 15th May, 1514. Charles wrote to Mary signing himself votre mari, while Mary was styled Princess of Castile, carried about a bad portrait of Charles, and diplomatically sighed for his presence ten times a day. But winter wore on and turned to spring; no sign was forthcoming of Maximilian's intention to keep his grandson's engagement, and Charles was reported as having said that he wanted a wife and not a mother. All Henry's inquiries were met by excuses; the Ides of May came and went, but they brought no wedding between Mary and Charles.
Henry was learning by bitter experience. Not only was he left to face single-handed the might of Louis; but Ferdinand and Maximilian had secretly bound themselves to make war on him, if he carried out the treaty to which they had all three publicly agreed. The man whom he said he loved as a natural father, and the titular sovereign of Christendom, had combined to cheat the boy-king who had come to the throne with youthful enthusiasms and natural, generous instincts. "Nor do I see," said Henry to Giustinian, "any faith in the world save in me, and therefore God Almighty, who knows this, prospers my affairs." This absorbing belief in himself and his righteousness led to strange aberrations in later years, but in 1514 it had some justification. "Je vous assure," wrote Margaret of Savoy to her father, the Emperor, "qu'en lui n'a nulle faintise." "At any rate," said Pasqualigo, "King Henry has done himself great honour, and kept faith single-handed." A more striking testimony was forthcoming a year or two later. When Charles succeeded Ferdinand, the Bishop of Badajos drew up for Cardinal Ximenes a report on the state of the Prince's affairs. In it he says: "The King of England has been truer to his engagements towards the House of Austria than any other prince. The marriage of the Prince with the Princess Mary, it must be confessed, did not take place, but it may be questioned whether it was the fault of the King of England or of the Prince and his advisers. However that may be, with the exception of the marriage, the King of England has generally fulfilled his obligations towards the Prince, and has behaved as a trusty friend. An alliance with the English can be trusted most of all."
But the meekest and saintliest monarch could scarce pass unscathed through the baptism of fraud practised on Henry; and Henry was at no time saintly or meek. Ferdinand, he complained, induced him to enter upon the war, and urged the Pope to use his influence with him for that purpose; he had been at great expense, had assisted Maximilian, taken Tournay, and reduced France to extremities; and now, when his enemy was at his feet, Ferdinand talked of truce: he would never trust any one again. "Had the King of Spain," wrote a Venetian attaché, "kept his promise to the King of England, the latter would never have made peace with France; and the promises of the Emperor were equally false, for he had received many thousands of pounds from King Henry, on condition that he was to be in person at Calais in the month of May, with a considerable force in the King's pay; but the Emperor pocketed the money and never came. His failure was the cause of all that took place, for, as King Henry was deceived in every direction, he thought fit to take this other course." He discovered that he, too, could play at the game of making peace behind the backs of his nominal friends; and when once he had made up his mind, he played the game with vastly more effect than Maximilian or Ferdinand. It was he who had been really formidable to Louis, and Louis was therefore prepared to pay him a higher price than to either of the others. In February Henry had got wind of his allies' practices with France. In the same month a nuncio started from Rome to mediate peace between Henry and Louis; but, before his arrival, informal advances had probably been made through the Duc de Longueville, a prisoner in England since the Battle of Spurs. In January Louis' wife, Anne of Brittany, had died. Louis was fifty-two years old, worn out and decrepit; but at least half a dozen brides were proposed for his hand. In March it was rumoured in Rome that he would choose Henry's sister Mary, the rejected of Charles. But Henry waited till May had passed, and Maximilian had proclaimed to the world his breach of promise. Negotiations for the alliance and marriage with Louis then proceeded apace. Treaties for both were signed in August. Tournay remained in Henry's hands, Louis increased the pensions paid by France to England since the Treaty of Étaples, and both kings bound themselves to render mutual aid against their common foes.
Maximilian and Ferdinand were left out in the cold. Louis not only broke off his negotiations with them, but prepared to regain Milan and discussed with Henry the revival of his father's schemes for the conquest of Castile. Henry was to claim part of that kingdom in right of his wife, the late Queen's daughter; later on a still more shadowy title by descent was suggested. As early as 5th October, the Venetian Government wrote to its ambassador in France, "commending extremely the most sage proceeding of Louis in exhorting the King of England to attack Castile". Towards the end of the year it declared that Louis had wished to attack Spain, and sought to arrange details in an interview with Henry; but the English King would not consent, delayed the interview, and refused the six thousand infantry required for the purpose. But Henry had certainly urged Louis to reconquer Navarre, and from the tenor of Louis' reply to Henry, late in November, it would be inferred that the proposed conquest of Castile also emanated from the English King or his ministers. Louis professed not to know the laws of succession in Spain, but he was willing to join the attack, apart from the merits of the case on which it was based. Whether the suggestion originated in France or in England, whether Henry eventually refused it or not, its serious discussion shows how far Henry had travelled in his resentment at the double dealing of Ferdinand. Carroz complained that he was treated by the English "like a bull at whom every one throws darts," and that Henry himself behaved in a most offensive manner whenever Ferdinand's name was mentioned. "If," he added, "Ferdinand did not put a bridle on this young colt," it would afterwards become impossible to control him. The young colt was, indeed, already meditating a project, to attain which he, in later years, took the bit in his teeth and broke loose from control. He was not only betrayed into casting in Catherine's teeth her father's ill faith, but threatening her with divorce.
Henry had struck back with a vengeance. His blow shivered to fragments the airy castles which Maximilian and Ferdinand were busy constructing. Their plans for reviving the empire of Charlemagne, creating a new kingdom in Italy, inducing Louis to cede Milan and Genoa and assist in the conquest of Venice, disappeared like empty dreams. The younger Ferdinand found no provision in Italy; he was compelled to retain his Austrian inheritance, and thus to impair the power of the future Charles V.; while the children's grandparents were left sadly reflecting on means of defence against the Kings of England and France. The blot on the triumph was Henry's desertion of Sforza, who, having gratefully acknowledged that to Henry he owed his restoration of Milan, was now left to the uncovenanted mercies of Louis. But neither the credit nor discredit is due mainly to Henry. He had learnt much, but his powers were not yet developed enough to make him a match for the craft and guile of his rivals. The consciousness of the fact made him rely more and more upon Wolsey, who could easily beat both Maximilian and Ferdinand at their own game. He was not more deceitful than they, but in grasp of detail, in boldness and assiduity, he was vastly superior. While Ferdinand hawked, and Maximilian hunted the chamois, Wolsey worked often for twelve hours together at the cares of the State. Possibly, too, his clerical profession and the cardinalate which he was soon to hold gave him an advantage which they did not possess; for, whenever he wanted to obtain credence for a more than usually monstrous perversion of truth, he swore "as became a cardinal and on the honour of the cardinalate". His services were richly rewarded; besides livings, prebends, deaneries and the Chancellorship of Cambridge University, he received the Bishoprics of Lincoln and of Tournay, the Archbishopric of York, and finally, in 1515, Cardinalate. This dignity he had already, in May of the previous year, sent Polydore Vergil to claim from the Pope; Vergil's mission was unknown to Henry, to whom the grant of the Cardinal's hat was to be represented as Leo's own idea.
THE THREE RIVALS.
The edifice which Wolsey had so laboriously built up was, however, based on no surer foundation than the feeble life of a sickly monarch already tottering to his grave. In the midst of his preparations for the conquest of Milan and his negotiations for an attack upon Spain, Louis XII. died on 1st January, 1515; and the stone which Wolsey had barely rolled up the hill came down with a rush. The bourgeois Louis was succeeded by the brilliant, ambitious and warlike Francis I., a monarch who concealed under the mask of chivalry and the culture of arts and letters a libertinism beside which the peccadilloes of Henry or Charles seem virtue itself; whose person was tall and whose features were described as handsome; but of whom an observer wrote with unwonted candour that he "looked like the Devil". The first result of the change was an episode of genuine romance. The old King's widow, "la reine blanche," was one of the most fascinating women of the Tudor epoch. "I think," said a Fleming, "never man saw a more beautiful creature, nor one having so much grace and sweetness." "He had never seen so beautiful a lady," repeated Maximilian's ambassador, "her deportment is exquisite, both in conversation and in dancing, and she is very lovely." "She is very beautiful," echoed the staid old Venetian, Pasqualigo, "and has not her match in England; she is tall, fair, of a light complexion with a colour, and most affable and graceful"; he was warranted, he said, in describing her as "a nymph from heaven". A more critical observer of feminine beauty thought her eyes and eyebrows too light, but, as an Italian, he may have been biassed in favour of brunettes, and even he wound up by calling Mary "a Paradise". She was eighteen at the time; her marriage with a dotard like Louis had shocked public opinion; and if, as was hinted, the gaieties in which his youthful bride involved him, hastened the French King's end, there was some poetic justice in the retribution. She had, as she reminded Henry herself, only consented to marry the "very aged and sickly" monarch on condition that, if she survived him, she should be allowed to choose her second husband herself. And she went on to declare, that "remembering the great virtue" in him, she had, as Henry himself was aware, "always been of good mind to my Lord of Suffolk".
She was probably fascinated less by Suffolk's virtue than by his bold and handsome bearing. A bluff Englishman after the King's own heart, he shared, as none else did, in Henry's love of the joust and tourney, in his skill with the lance and the sword; he was the Hector of combat, on foot and on horse, to Henry's Achilles. His father, plain William Brandon, was Henry of Richmond's standard-bearer on Bosworth field; and as such he had been singled out and killed in personal encounter by Richard III. His death gave his son a claim on the gratitude of Henry VII. and Henry VIII.; and similarity of tastes secured him rapid promotion at the young King's Court. Created Viscount Lisle, he served in 1513 as marshal of Henry's army throughout his campaign in France. With the King there were said to be "two obstinate men who governed everything"; one was Wolsey, the other was Brandon. In July he was offering his hand to Margaret of Savoy, who was informed that Brandon was "a second king," and that it would be well to write him "a kind letter, for it is he who does and undoes". At Lille, in October, he continued his assault on Margaret as a relief from the siege of Tournay; Henry favoured his suit, and when Margaret called Brandon a larron for stealing a ring from her finger, the King was called in to help Brandon out with his French. Possibly it was to smooth the course of his wooing that Brandon, early in 1514, received an extraordinary advancement in rank. There was as yet only one duke in England, but now Brandon was made Duke of Suffolk, at the same time that the dukedom of Norfolk was restored to Surrey for his victory at Flodden. Even a dukedom could barely make the son of a simple esquire a match for an emperor's daughter, and the suit did not prosper. Political reasons may have interfered. Suffolk, too, is accused by the Venetian ambassador of having already had three wives. This seems to be an exaggeration, but the intricacy of the Duke's marital relationships, and the facility with which he renounced them might well have served as a precedent to his master in later years.
In January, 1515, the Duke was sent to Paris to condole with Francis on Louis' death, to congratulate him on his own accession, and renew the league with England. Before he set out, Henry made him promise that he would not marry Mary until their return. But Suffolk was not the man to resist the tears of a beautiful woman in trouble, and he found Mary in sore distress. No sooner was Louis dead than his lascivious successor became, as Mary said, "importunate with her in divers matters not to her honour," in suits "the which," wrote Suffolk, "I and the Queen had rather be out of the world than abide". Every evening Francis forced his attentions upon the beautiful widow. Nor was this the only trouble which threatened the lovers. There were reports that the French would not let Mary go, but marry her somewhere to serve their own political purposes. Henry, too, might want to betroth her again to Charles; Maximilian was urging this course, and telling Margaret that Mary must be recovered for Charles, even at the point of the sword. Early in January, Wolsey had written to her, warning her not to make any fresh promise of marriage. Two friars from England, sent apparently by Suffolk's secret enemies, told Mary the same tale, that if she returned to England she would never be suffered to marry the Duke, but made to take Charles for her husband, "than which," she declared, "I would rather be torn in pieces". Suffolk tried in vain to soothe her fears. She refused to listen, and brought him to his knees with the announcement that unless he would wed her there and then, she would continue to believe that he had come only to entice her back to England and force her into marriage with Charles. What was the poor Duke to do, between his promise to Henry and the pleading of Mary? He did what every other man with a heart in his breast and warm blood in his veins would have done, he cast prudence to the winds and secretly married the woman he loved.
The news could not be long concealed, but unfortunately we have only Wolsey's account of how it was received by Henry. He took it, wrote the cardinal to Suffolk, "grievously and displeasantly," not only on account of the Duke's presumption, but of the breach of his promise to Henry. "You are," he added, "in the greatest danger man was ever in;" the council were calling for his ruin. To appease Henry and enable the King to satisfy his council, Suffolk must induce Francis to intervene in his favour, to pay Henry two hundred thousand crowns as Mary's dowry, and to restore the plate and jewels she had received; the Duke himself was to return the fortune with which Henry had endowed his sister and pay twenty-four thousand pounds in yearly instalments for the expenses of her marriage. Francis proved unexpectedly willing; perhaps his better nature was touched by the lovers' distress. He also saw that Mary's marriage with Suffolk prevented her being used as a link to bind Charles to Henry; and he may have thought that a service to Suffolk would secure him a powerful friend at the English Court, a calculation that was partly justified by the suspicion under which Suffolk henceforth laboured, of being too partial to Francis. Yet it was with heavy hearts that the couple left Paris in April and wended their way towards Calais. Henry had given no sign; from Calais, Mary wrote to him saying she would go to a nunnery rather than marry against her desire. Suffolk threw himself on the King's mercy; all the council, he said, except Wolsey, were determined to put him to death. Secretly, against his promise, and without Henry's consent, he had married the King's sister, an act the temerity of which no one has since ventured to rival. He saw the executioner's axe gleam before his eyes, and he trembled.
At Calais, Mary said she would stay until she heard from the King. His message has not been preserved, but fears were never more strangely belied than when the pair crossed their Rubicon. So far from any attempt being made to separate them, their marriage was publicly solemnised before Henry and all his Court on 13th May, at Greenwich. In spite of all that happened, wrote the Venetian ambassador, Henry retained his friendship for Suffolk; and a few months later he asserted, with some exaggeration, that the Duke's authority was scarcely less than the King's. He and Mary were indeed required to return all the endowment, whether in money, plate, jewels or furniture, that she received on her marriage. But both she and the Duke had agreed to these terms before their offence. They were not unreasonable. Henry's money had been laid out for political purposes which could no longer be served; and Mary did not expect the splendour, as Duchess of Suffolk, which she had enjoyed as Queen of France. The only stipulation that looks like a punishment was the bond to repay the cost of her journey to France; though not only was this modified later on, but the Duke received numerous grants of land to help to defray the charge. They were indeed required to live in the country; but the Duke still came up to joust as of old with Henry on great occasions, and Mary remained his favourite sister, to whose issue, in preference to that of Margaret, he left the crown by will. The vindictive suspicions which afterwards grew to rank luxuriance in Henry's mind were scarcely budding as yet; his favour to Suffolk and affection for Mary were proof against the intrigues in his Court. The contrast was marked between the event and the terrors which Wolsey had painted; and it is hard to believe that the Cardinal played an entirely disinterested part in the matter. It was obviously his cue to exaggerate the King's anger, and to represent to the Duke that its mitigation was due to the Cardinal's influence; and it is more than possible that Wolsey found in Suffolk's indiscretion the means of removing a dangerous rival. The "two obstinate men" who had ruled in Henry's camp were not likely to remain long united; Wolsey could hardly approve of any "second king" but himself, especially a "second king" who had acquired a family bond with the first. The Venetian ambassador plainly hints that it was through Wolsey that Suffolk lost favour. In the occasional notices of him during the next few years it is Wolsey, and not Henry, whom Suffolk is trying to appease; and we even find the Cardinal secretly warning the King against some designs of the Duke that probably existed only in his own imagination.
This episode threw into the shade the main purpose of Suffolk's embassy to France. It was to renew the treaty concluded the year before, and apparently also the discussions for war upon Spain. Francis was ready enough to confirm the treaty, particularly as it left him free to pursue his designs on Milan. With a similar object he made terms with the Archduke Charles, who this year assumed the government of the Netherlands, but was completely under the control of Chièvres, a Frenchman by birth and sympathy, who signed his letters to Francis "your humble servant and vassal". Charles bound himself to marry Louis XII.'s daughter Renée, and to give his grandfather Ferdinand no aid unless he restored Navarre to Jean d'Albret. Thus safeguarded from attack on his rear, Francis set out for Milan. The Swiss had locked all the passes they thought practicable; but the French generals, guided by chamois hunters and overcoming almost insuperable obstacles, transported their artillery over the Alps near Embrun; and on 13th September, at Marignano, the great "Battle of the Giants" laid the whole of Northern Italy at the French King's feet. At Bologna he met Leo X., whose lifelong endeavour was to be found on both sides at once, or at least on the side of the bigger battalions; the Pope recognised Francis's claim to Milan, while Francis undertook to support the Medici in Florence, and to countenance Leo's project for securing the Duchy of Urbino to his nephew Lorenzo.
Henry watched with ill-concealed jealousy his rival's victorious progress; his envy was personal, as well as political. "Francis," wrote the Bishop of Worcester in describing the interview between the French King and the Pope at Bologna, "is tall in stature, broad-shouldered, oval and handsome in face, very slender in the legs and much inclined to corpulence." His appearance was the subject of critical inquiry by Henry himself. On May Day, 1515, Pasqualigo was summoned to Greenwich by the King, whom he found dressed in green, "shoes and all," and mounted on a bay Frieslander sent him by the Marquis of Mantua; his guard were also dressed in green and armed with bows and arrows for the usual May Day sports. They breakfasted in green bowers some distance from the palace. "His Majesty," continues Pasqualigo, "came into our arbor, and addressing me in French, said: 'Talk with me awhile. The King of France, is he as tall as I am?' I told him there was but little difference. He continued, 'Is he as stout?' I said he was not; and he then inquired, 'What sort of legs has he?' I replied 'Spare'. Whereupon he opened the front of his doublet, and placing his hand on his thigh, said: 'Look here; and I also have a good calf to my leg'. He then told me he was very fond of this King of France, and that on more than three occasions he was very near him with his army, but that he would never allow himself to be seen, and always retreated, which His Majesty attributed to deference for King Louis, who did not choose an engagement to take place." After dinner, by way of showing his prowess, Henry "armed himself cap-à-pie and ran thirty courses, capsizing his opponent, horse and all". Two months later, he said to Giustinian: "I am aware that King Louis, although my brother-in-law, was a bad man. I know not what this youth may be; he is, however, a Frenchman, nor can I say how far you should trust him;" and Giustinian says he at once perceived the great rivalry for glory between the two young kings.
Henry now complained that Francis had concealed his Italian enterprise from him, that he was ill-treating English subjects, and interfering with matters in Scotland. The last was his real and chief ground for resentment. Francis had no great belief that Henry would keep the peace, and resist the temptation to attack him, if a suitable opportunity were to arise. So he had sent the Duke of Albany to provide Henry with an absorbing disturbance in Scotland. Since the death of James IV. at Flodden, English influence had, in Margaret's hands, been largely increased. Henry took upon himself to demand a voice in Scotland's internal affairs. He claimed the title of "Protector of Scotland"; and wrote to the Pope asking him to appoint no Scottish bishops without his consent, and to reduce the Archbishopric of St. Andrews to its ancient dependence on York. Many urged him to complete the conquest of Scotland, but this apparently he refused on the ground that his own sister was really its ruler and his own infant nephew its king. Margaret, however, as an Englishwoman, was hated in Scotland, and she destroyed much of her influence by marrying the Earl of Angus. So the Scots clamoured for Albany, who had long been resident at the French Court and was heir to the Scottish throne, should James IV.'s issue fail. His appearance was the utter discomfiture of the party of England; Margaret was besieged in Stirling and ultimately forced to give up her children to Albany's keeping, and seek safety in flight to her brother's dominions.
Technically, Francis had not broken his treaty with England, but he had scarcely acted the part of a friend; and if Henry could retaliate without breaking the peace, he would eagerly seize any opportunity that offered. The alliance with Ferdinand and Maximilian was renewed, and a new Holy League formed under Leo's auspices. But Leo soon afterwards made his peace at Bologna with France. Charles was under French influence, and Henry's council and people were not prepared for war. So he refused, says Giustinian, Ferdinand's invitations to join in an invasion of France. He did so from no love of Francis, and it was probably Wolsey's ingenuity which suggested the not very scrupulous means of gratifying Henry's wish for revenge. Maximilian was still pursuing his endless quarrel with Venice; and the seizure of Milan by the French and Venetian allies was a severe blow to Maximilian himself, to the Swiss, and to their protégé, Sforza. Wolsey now sought to animate them all for an attempt to recover the duchy, and Sforza promised him 10,000 ducats a year from the date of his restoration. There was nothing but the spirit of his treaty with France to prevent Henry spending his money as he thought fit; and it was determined to hire 20,000 Swiss mercenaries to serve under the Emperor in order to conquer Milan and revenge Marignano. The negotiation was one of great delicacy; not only was secrecy absolutely essential, but the money must be carefully kept out of Maximilian's reach. "Whenever," wrote Pace, "the King's money passed where the Emperor was, he would always get some portion of it by force or false promises of restitution." The accusation was justified by Maximilian's order to Margaret, his daughter, to seize Henry's treasure as soon as he heard it was on the way to the Swiss. "The Emperor," said Julius II., "is light and inconstant, always begging for other men's money, which he wastes in hunting the chamois."
The envoy selected for this difficult mission was Richard Pace, scholar and author, and friend of Erasmus and More. He had been in Bainbridge's service at Rome, was then transferred to that of Wolsey and Henry, and as the King's secretary, was afterwards thought to be treading too close on the Cardinal's heels. He set out in October, and arrived in Zurich just in time to prevent the Swiss from coming to terms with Francis. Before winter had ended the plans for invasion were settled. Maximilian came down with the snows from the mountains in March; on the 23rd he crossed the Adda; on the 25th he was within nine miles of Milan, and almost in sight of the army of France. On the 26th he turned and fled without striking a blow. Back he went over the Adda, over the Oglio, up into Tyrol, leaving the French and Venetians in secure possession of Northern Italy. A year later they had recovered for Venice the last of the places of which it had been robbed by the League of Cambrai.
Maximilian retreated, said Pace, voluntarily and shamefully, and was now so degraded that it signified little whether he was a friend or an enemy. The cause of his ignominious flight still remains a mystery; countless excuses were made by Maximilian and his friends. He had heard that France and England had come to terms; 6,000 of the Swiss infantry deserted to the French on the eve of the battle. Ladislaus of Hungary had died, leaving him guardian of his son, and he must go to arrange matters there. He had no money to pay his troops. The last has an appearance of verisimilitude. Money was at the bottom of all his difficulties, and drove him to the most ignominious shifts. He had served as a private in Henry's army for 100 crowns a day. His councillors robbed him; on one occasion he had not money to pay for his dinner; on another he sent down to Pace, who was ill in bed, and extorted a loan by force. He had apparently seized 30,000 crowns of Henry's pay for the Swiss; the Fuggers, Welzers and Frescobaldi, were also accused of failing to keep their engagements, and only the first month's pay had been received by the Swiss when they reached Milan. On the Emperor's retreat the wretched Pace was seized by the Swiss and kept in prison as security for the remainder. His task had been rendered all the more difficult by the folly of Wingfield, ambassador at Maximilian's Court, who, said Pace, "took the Emperor for a god and believed that all his deeds and thoughts proceeded ex Spiritu Sancto". There was no love lost between them; the lively Pace nicknamed his colleague "Summer shall be green," in illusion perhaps to Wingfield's unending platitudes, or to his limitless belief in the Emperor's integrity and wisdom. Wingfield opened Pace's letters and discovered the gibe, which he parried by avowing that he had never known the time when summer was not green. On another occasion he forged Pace's signature, with a view of obtaining funds for Maximilian; and he had the hardihood to protest against Pace's appointment as Henry's secretary. At last his conduct brought down a stinging rebuke from Henry; but the King's long-suffering was not yet exhausted, and Wingfield continued as ambassador to the Emperors Court.
The failure of the Milan expedition taught Wolsey and Henry a bitter but salutary lesson. It was their first attempt to intervene in a sphere of action so distant from English shores and so remote from English interests as the affairs of Italian States. Complaints in England were loud against the waste of money; the sagacious Tunstall wrote that he did not see why Henry should bind himself to maintain other men's causes. All the grandees, wrote Giustinian, were opposed to Wolsey's policy, and its adoption was followed by what Giustinian called a change of ministry in England. Warham relinquished the burdens of the Chancellorship which he had long unwillingly borne; Fox sought to atone for twenty-eight years' neglect of his diocese by spending in it the rest of his days. Wolsey succeeded Warham as Chancellor, and Ruthal, who "sang treble to Wolsey's bass," became Lord Privy Seal in place of Fox. Suffolk was out of favour, and the neglect of his and Fox's advice was, according to the Venetian, resented by the people, who murmured against the taxes which Wolsey's intervention in foreign affairs involved.
But Wolsey still hoped that bribes would keep Maximilian faithful to England and induce him to counteract the French influences with which his grandson Charles was surrounded. Ferdinand had died in January, 1516, having, said the English envoy at his Court, wilfully shortened his life by hunting and hawking in all weathers, and following the advice of his falconers rather than that of his physicians. Charles thus succeeded to Castile, Aragon and Naples; but Naples was seriously threatened by the failure of Maximilian's expedition and the omnipotence of Francis in Italy. "The Pope is French," wrote an English diplomatist, "and everything from Rome to Calais." To save Naples, Charles, in July, 1516, entered into the humiliating Treaty of Noyon with France. He bound himself to marry Francis's infant daughter, Charlotte, to do justice to Jean d'Albret in the matter of Navarre, and to surrender Naples, Navarre, and Artois, if he failed to keep his engagement. Such a treaty was not likely to stand; but, for the time, it was a great feather in Francis's cap, and a further step towards the isolation of England. It was the work of Charles's Gallicised ministry, and Maximilian professed the utmost disgust at their doings. He was eager to come down to the Netherlands with a view to breaking the Treaty of Noyon and removing his grandson's advisers, but of course he must have money from England to pay his expenses. The money accordingly came from the apparently bottomless English purse; and in January, 1517, the Emperor marched down to the Netherlands, breathing, in his despatches to Henry, threatenings and slaughter against Charles's misleaders. His descent on Flanders eclipsed his march on Milan. "Mon fils," he said to Charles, "vous allez tromper les Français, et moi, je vais tromper les Anglais." So far from breaking the Treaty of Noyon, he joined it himself, and at Brussels solemnly swore to observe its provisions. He probably thought he had touched the bottom of Henry's purse, and that it was time to dip into Francis's. Seventy-five thousand crowns was his price for betraying Henry.
In conveying the news to Wolsey, Tunstall begged him to urge Henry "to refrain from his first passions" and "to draw his foot out of the affair as gently as if he perceived it not, giving good words for good words which they yet give us, thinking our heads to be so gross that we perceive not their abuses". Their persistent advances to Charles had, he thought, done them more harm than good; let the King shut his purse in time, and he would soon have Charles and the Emperor again at his feet. Tunstall was ably seconded by Dr. William Knight, who thought it would be foolish for England to attempt to undo the Treaty of Noyon; it contained within itself the seeds of its own dissolution. Charles would not wait to marry Francis's daughter, and then the breach would come. Henry and Wolsey had the good sense to act on this sound advice. Maximilian, Francis and Charles formed at Cambrai a fresh league for the partition of Italy, but they were soon at enmity and too much involved with their own affairs to think of the conquest of others. Disaffection was rife in Spain, where a party wished Ferdinand, Charles's brother, to be King. If Charles was to retain his Spanish kingdoms, he must visit them at once. He could not go unless England provided the means. His request for a loan was graciously accorded and his ambassadors were treated with magnificent courtesy. "One day," says Chieregati, the papal envoy in England, "the King sent for these ambassadors, and kept them to dine with him privately in his chamber with the Queen, a very unusual proceeding. After dinner he took to singing and playing on every musical instrument, and exhibited a part of his very excellent endowments. At length he commenced dancing," and, continues another narrator, "doing marvellous things, both in dancing and jumping, proving himself, as he is in truth, indefatigable." On another day there was "a most stately joust." Henry was magnificently attired in "cloth of silver with a raised pile, and wrought throughout with emblematic letters". When he had made the usual display in the lists, the Duke of Suffolk entered from the other end, with well-nigh equal array and pomp. He was accompanied by fourteen other jousters. "The King wanted to joust with all of them; but this was forbidden by the council, which, moreover, decided that each jouster was to run six courses and no more, so that the entertainment might be ended on that day.... The competitor assigned to the King was the Duke of Suffolk; and they bore themselves so bravely that the spectators fancied themselves witnessing a joust between Hector and Achilles." "They tilted," says Sagudino, "eight courses, both shivering their lances at every time, to the great applause of the spectators." Chieregati continues: "On arriving in the lists the King presented himself before the Queen and the ladies, making a thousand jumps in the air, and after tiring one horse, he entered the tent and mounted another... doing this constantly, and reappearing in the lists until the end of the jousts". Dinner was then served, amid a scene of unparalleled splendour, and Chieregati avers that the "guests remained at table for seven hours by the clock". The display of costume on the King's part was equally varied and gorgeous. On one occasion he wore "stiff brocade in the Hungarian fashion," on another, he "was dressed in white damask in the Turkish fashion, the above-mentioned robe all embroidered with roses, made of rubies and diamonds"; on a third, he "wore royal robes down to the ground, of gold brocade lined with ermine"; while "all the rest of the Court glittered with jewels and gold and silver, the pomp being unprecedented".
All this riot of wealth would no doubt impress the impecunious Charles. In September he landed in Spain, so destitute that he was glad to accept the offer of a hobby from the English ambassador. At the first meeting of his Cortes, they demanded that he should marry at once, and not wait for Francis's daughter; the bride his subjects desired was the daughter of the King of Portugal. They were no more willing to part with Navarre; and Charles was forced to make to Francis the feeble excuse that he was not aware, when he was in the Netherlands, of his true title to Navarre, but had learnt it since his arrival in Spain; he also declined the personal interview to which Francis invited him. A rupture between Francis and Charles was only a question of time; and, to prepare for it, both were anxious for England's alliance. Throughout the autumn of 1517 and spring of 1518, France and England were feeling their way towards friendship. Albany had left Scotland, so that source of irritation was gone. Henry had now a daughter, Mary, and Francis a son. "I will unite them," said Wolsey; and in October, 1518, not only was a treaty of marriage and alliance signed between England and France, but a general peace for Europe. Leo X. sent Campeggio with blessings of peace from the Vicar of Christ, though he was kept chafing at Calais for three months, till he could bring with him Leo's appointment of Wolsey as legate and the deposition of Wolsey's enemy, Hadrian, from the Bishopric of Bath and Wells. The ceremonies exceeded in splendour even those of the year before. They included, says Giustinian, a "most sumptuous supper" at Wolsey's house, "the like of which, I fancy, was never given by Cleopatra or Caligula; the whole banqueting hall being so decorated with huge vases of gold and silver, that I fancied myself in the tower of Chosroes, when that monarch caused Divine honours to be paid him. After supper... twelve male and twelve female dancers made their appearance in the richest and most sumptuous array possible, being all dressed alike.... They were disguised in one suit of fine green satin, all over covered with cloth of gold, undertied together with laces of gold, and had masking hoods on their heads; the ladies had tires made of braids of damask gold, with long hairs of white gold. All these maskers danced at one time, and after they had danced they put off their visors, and then they were all known.... The two leaders were the King and the Queen Dowager of France, and all the others were lords and ladies." These festivities were followed by the formal ratification of peace. Approval of it was general, and the old councillors who had been alienated by Wolsey's Milan expedition, hastened to applaud. "It was the best deed," wrote Fox to Wolsey, "that ever was done for England, and, next to the King, the praise of it is due to you." Once more the wheel had come round, and the stone of Sisyphus was lodged more secure than before some way up the side of the hill.
This general peace, which closed the wars begun ten years before by the League of Cambrai, was not entirely due to a universal desire to beat swords into ploughshares or to even turn them against the Turk. That was the everlasting pretence, but eighteen months before, Maximilian had suffered a stroke of apoplexy; men, said Giustinian, commenting on the fact, did not usually survive such strokes a year, and rivals were preparing to enter the lists for the Empire. Maximilian himself, faithful to the end to his guiding principle, found a last inspiration in the idea of disposing of his succession for ready money. He was writing to Charles that it was useless to expect the Empire unless he would spend at least as much as the French. "It would be lamentable," he said, "if we should now lose all through some pitiful omission or penurious neglect;" and Francis was "going about covertly and laying many baits," to attain the imperial crown. To Henry himself Maximilian had more than once offered the prize, and Pace had declared that the offer was only another design for extracting Henry's gold "for the electors would never allow the crown to go out of their nation". The Emperor had first proposed it while serving under Henry's banners in France. He renewed the suggestion in 1516, inviting Henry to meet him at Coire. The brothers in arms were thence to cross the Alps to Milan, where the Emperor would invest the English King with the duchy; he would then take him on to Rome, resign the Empire himself, and have Henry crowned. Not that Maximilian desired to forsake all earthly authority; he sought to combine a spiritual with a temporal glory; he was to lay down the imperial crown and place on his brows the papal tiara. Nothing was too fantastic for the Emperor Maximilian; the man who could not wrest a few towns from Venice was always deluding himself with the hope of leading victorious hosts to the seat of the Turkish Empire and the Holy City of Christendom; the sovereign whose main incentive in life was gold, informed his daughter that he intended to get himself canonised, and that after his death she would have to adore him. He died at Welz on 12th January, 1519, neither Pope nor saint, with Jerusalem still in the hands of the Turk, and the succession to the Empire still undecided.
The contest now broke out in earnest, and the electors prepared to garner their harvest of gold. The price of a vote was a hundredfold more than the most corrupt parliamentary elector could conceive in his wildest dreams of avarice. There were only seven electors and the prize was the greatest on earth. Francis I. said he was ready to spend 3,000,000 crowns, and Charles could not afford to lag far behind. The Margrave of Brandenburg, "the father of all greediness," as the Austrians called him, was particularly influential because his brother, the Archbishop of Mainz, was also an elector and he required an especially exorbitant bribe. He was ambitious as well as covetous, and the rivals endeavoured to satisfy his ambitions with matrimonial prizes. He was promised Ferdinand's widow, Germaine de Foix; Francis sought to parry this blow by offering to the Margrave's son the French Princess Renée; Charles bid higher by offering his sister Catherine. Francis relied much on his personal graces, the military renown he had won by the conquest of Northern Italy, and the assistance of Leo. With the Pope he concluded a fresh treaty that year for the conquest of Ferrara, the extension of the papal States, and the settlement of Naples on Francis's second son, on condition that it was meanwhile to be administered by papal legates, and that its king was to abstain from all interference in spiritual matters. Charles, on the other hand, owed his advantages to his position and not to his person. Cold, reserved and formal, he possessed none of the physical or intellectual graces of Francis I. and Henry VIII. He excelled in no sport, was unpleasant in features and repellent in manners. No gleam of magnanimity or chivalry lightened his character, no deeds in war or statecraft yet sounded his fame. He was none the less heir of the Austrian House, which for generations had worn the imperial crown; as such, too, he was a German prince, and the Germanic constitution forbade any other the sovereignty of the Holy Roman Empire. Against this was the fact that his enormous dominions, including Naples and Spain, would preclude his continued residence in Germany and might threaten the liberties of the German people.
But was there no third candidate? Leo at heart regarded the election of either as an absolute evil. He had always dreaded Maximilian's claims to the temporal power of the Church, though Maximilian held not a foot of Italian soil. How much more would he dread those claims in the hands of Francis or Charles! One threatened the papal States from Milan, and the other from Naples. Of the two, he feared Francis the less; for the union of Naples with the Empire had been such a terror to the Popes, that before granting the investiture of that kingdom, they bound its king by oath not to compete for the Empire. But a third candidate would offer an escape from between the upper and the nether mill-stone; and Leo suggested at one time Charles's brother Ferdinand, at another a German elector. Precisely the same recommendations had been secretly made by Henry VIII. In public he followed the course he commended to Leo; he advocated the claims of both Charles and Francis, when asked so to do, but sent trusty envoys with his testimonials to explain that no credence was to be given them. He told the French King that he favoured the election of Francis, and the Spanish King the election of Charles, but like Leo he desired in truth the election of neither. Why should he not come forward himself? His dominions were not so extensive that, when combined with the imperial dignity, they would threaten to dominate Europe; and his election might seem to provide a useful check in the balance of power. In March he had already told Francis that his claims were favoured by some of the electors, though he professed a wish to promote the French King's pretensions. In May, Pace was sent to Germany with secret instructions to endeavour to balance the parties and force the electors into a deadlock, from which the only escape would be the election of a third candidate, either Henry himself or some German prince. It is difficult to believe that Henry really thought his election possible or was seriously pushing his claim. He had repeatedly declined Maximilian's offers; he had been as often warned by trusty advisers that no non-German prince stood a chance of election; he had expressed his content with his own islands, which, Tunstall told him with truth, were an Empire worth more than the barren imperial crown. Pace went far too late to secure a party for Henry, and, what was even more fatal, he went without the persuasive of money. Norfolk told Giustinian, after Pace's departure, that the election would fall on a German prince, and such, said the Venetian, was the universal belief and desire in England. After the election, Leo expressed his "regret that Henry gave no attention to a project which would have made him a near, instead of a distant, neighbour of the papal States". Under the circumstances, it seems more probable that the first alternative in Pace's instructions no more represented a settled design in Henry's mind than his often-professed intention of conquering France, and that the real purport of his mission was to promote the election of the Duke of Saxony or another German prince.
Whether that was its object or not the mission was foredoomed to failure. The conclusion was never really in doubt. Electors might trouble the waters in order to fish with more success. They might pretend to Francis that if he was free with his money he might be elected, and to Charles that unless he was free with his money he would not, but no sufficient reason had been shown why they should violate national prejudices, the laws of the Empire, and prescriptive hereditary right, in order to place Henry or Francis instead of a German upon the imperial throne. Neither people nor princes nor barons, wrote Leo's envoys, would permit the election of the Most Christian King; and even if the electors wished to elect him, it was not in their power to do so. The whole of the nation, said Pace, was in arms and furious for Charles; and had Henry been elected, they would in their indignation have killed Pace and all his servants. The voice of the German people spoke in no uncertain tones; they would have Charles and no other to be their ruler. Leo himself saw the futility of resistance, and making a virtue of necessity, he sent Charles an absolution from his oath as King of Naples. As soon as it arrived, the electors unanimously declared Charles their Emperor on 28th June.
Thus was completed the shuffling of the cards for the struggle which lasted till Henry's death. Francis had now succeeded to Louis, Charles to both his grandfathers, and Henry at twenty-eight was the doyen of the princes of Europe. He was two years older than Francis and eight years older than Charles. Europe had passed under the rule of youthful triumvirs whose rivalry troubled its peace and guided its destinies for nearly thirty years. The youngest of all was the greatest in power. His dominions, it is true, were disjointed, and funds were often to seek, but these defects have been overrated. It was neither of these which proved his greatest embarrassment. It was a cloud in Germany, as yet no bigger than a man's hand, but soon to darken the face of Europe. Ferdinand and Maximilian had at times been dangerous; Charles wielded the power of both. He ruled over Castile and Aragon, the Netherlands and Naples, Burgundy and Austria; he could command the finest military forces in Europe; the infantry of Spain, the science of Italy, the lance-knights of Germany, for which Ferdinand sighed, were at his disposal; and the wealth of the Indies was poured out at his feet. He bestrode the narrow world like a Colossus, and the only hope of lesser men lay in the maintenance of Francis's power. Were that to fail, Charles would become arbiter of Christendom, Italy a Spanish kingdom, and the Pope little more than the Emperor's chaplain. "Great masters," said Tunstall, with reference to a papal brief urged by Charles in excuse for his action in 1517, "could get great clerks to say what they liked." The mastery of Charles in 1517 was but the shadow of what it became ten years later; and if under its dominance "the great clerk" were called upon to decide between "the great master" and Henry, it was obvious already that all Henry's services to the Papacy would count for nothing.
For the present, those services were to be remembered. They were not, indeed, inconsiderable. It would be absurd to maintain that, since his accession, Henry had been actuated by respect for the Papacy more than by another motive; but it is indisputable that that motive had entered more largely into his conduct than into that of any other monarch. James IV. and Louis had been excommunicated, Maximilian had obstinately countenanced a schismatic council and wished to arrogate to himself the Pope's temporal power. Ferdinand's zeal for his house had eaten him up and left little room for less selfish impulses; his anxiety for war with the Moor or the Turk was but a cloak; and the value of his frequent demands for a Reformation may be gauged by his opinion that never was there more need for the Inquisition, and by his anger with Leo for refusing the Inquisitors the preferments he asked. From hypocrisy like Ferdinand's Henry was, in his early years, singularly free, and the devotion to the Holy See, which he inherited, was of a more than conventional type. "He is very religious," wrote Giustinian, "and hears three masses daily when he hunts, and sometimes five on other days. He hears the office every day in the Queen's chamber, that is to say, vesper and compline." The best theologians and doctors in his kingdom were regularly required to preach at his Court, when their fee for each sermon was equivalent to ten or twelve pounds. He was generous in his almsgiving, and his usual offering on Sundays and saints' days was six shillings and eight pence or, in modern currency, nearly four pounds; often it was double that amount, and there were special offerings besides, such as the twenty shillings he sent every year to the shrine of St. Thomas at Canterbury. In January, 1511, the gentlemen of the King's chapel were paid what would now be seventy-five pounds for praying for the Queen's safe delivery, and similar sums were no doubt paid on other occasions. In 1513, Catherine thought Henry's success was all due to his zeal for religion, and a year or two later Erasmus wrote that Henry's Court was an example to all Christendom for learning and piety.
Piety went hand in hand with a filial respect for the head of the Church. Not once in the ten years is there to be found any expression from Henry of contempt for the Pope, whether he was Julius II. or Leo X. There had been no occasion on which Pope and King had been brought into conflict, and almost throughout they had acted in perfect harmony. It was the siege of Julius by Louis that drew Henry from his peaceful policy to intervene as the champion of the Papal See, and it was as the executor of papal censures that he made war on France. If he had ulterior views on that kingdom, he could plead the justification of a brief, drawn up if not published, by Julius II., investing him with the French crown. A papal envoy came to urge peace in 1514, and a Pope claimed first to have suggested the marriage between Mary and Louis. The Milan expedition of 1516 was made under cover of a new Holy League concluded in the spring of the previous year, and the peace of 1518 was made with the full approval and blessings of Leo. Henry's devotion had been often acknowledged in words, and twice by tangible tokens of gratitude, in the gift of the golden rose in 1510 and of the sword and cap in 1513. But did not his services merit some more signal mark of favour? If Ferdinand was "Catholic," and Louis "Most Christian," might not some title be found for a genuine friend? And, as early as 1515, Henry was pressing the Pope for "some title as protector of the Holy See". Various names were suggested, "King Apostolic," "King Orthodox," and others; and in January, 1516, we find the first mention of "Fidei Defensor". But the prize was to be won by services more appropriate to the title than even ten years' maintenance of the Pope's temporal interests. His championship of the Holy See had been the most unselfish part of Henry's policy since he came to the throne; and his whole conduct had been an example, which others were slow to follow, and which Henry himself was soon to neglect.