KING AND CARDINAL.
"Nothing," wrote Giustinian of Wolsey in 1519, "pleases him more than to be called the arbiter of Christendom." Continental statesmen were inclined to ridicule and resent the Cardinal's claim. But the title hardly exaggerates the part which the English minister was enabled to play during the next few years by the rivalry of Charles and Francis, and by the apparently even balance of their powers. The position which England held in the councils of Europe in 1519 was a marvellous advance upon that which it had occupied in 1509. The first ten years of Henry's reign had been a period of fluctuating, but continual, progress. The campaign of 1513 had vindicated England's military prowess, and had made it possible for Wolsey, at the peace of the following year, to place his country on a level with France and Spain and the Empire. Francis's conquest of Milan, and the haste with which Maximilian, Leo and Charles sought to make terms with the victor, caused a temporary isolation of England and a consequent decline in her influence. But the arrangements made between Charles and Francis contained, in themselves, as acute English diplomatists saw, the seeds of future disruption; and, in 1518, Wolsey was able so to play off these mutual jealousies as to reassert England's position. He imposed a general peace, or rather a truce, which raised England even higher than the treaties of 1514 had done, and made her appear as the conservator of the peace of Europe. England had almost usurped the place of the Pope as mediator between rival Christian princes.
These brilliant results were achieved with the aid of very moderate military forces and an only respectable navy. They were due partly to the lavish expenditure of Henry's treasures, partly to the extravagant faith of other princes in the extent of England's wealth, but mainly to the genius for diplomacy displayed by the great English Cardinal. Wolsey had now reached the zenith of his power; and the growth of his sense of his own importance is graphically described by the Venetian ambassador. When Giustinian first arrived in England, Wolsey used to say, "His Majesty will do so and so". Subsequently, by degrees, forgetting himself, he commenced saying, "We shall do so and so". In 1519 he had reached such a pitch that he used to say, "I shall do so and so". Fox had been called by Badoer "a second King," but Wolsey was now "the King himself". "We have to deal," said Fox, "with the Cardinal, who is not Cardinal, but King; and no one in the realm dares attempt aught in opposition to his interests." On another occasion Giustinian remarks: "This Cardinal is King, nor does His Majesty depart in the least from the opinion and counsel of his lordship". Sir Thomas More, in describing the negotiations for the peace of 1518, reports that only after Wolsey had concluded a point did he tell the council, "so that even the King hardly knows in what state matters are". A month or two later there was a curious dispute between the Earl of Worcester and West, Bishop of Ely, who were sent to convey the Treaty of London to Francis. Worcester, as a layman, was a partisan of the King, West of the Cardinal. Worcester insisted that their detailed letters should be addressed to Henry, and only general ones to Wolsey. West refused; the important letters, he thought, should go to the Cardinal, the formal ones to the King; and, eventually, identical despatches were sent to both. In negotiations with England, Giustinian told his Government, "if it were necessary to neglect either King or Cardinal, it would be better to pass over the King; he would therefore make the proposal to both, but to the Cardinal first, lest he should resent the precedence conceded to the King". The popular charge against Wolsey, repeated by Shakespeare, of having written Ego et rex meus, though true in fact, is false in intention, because no Latin scholar could put the words in any other order; but the Cardinal's mental attitude is faithfully represented in the meaning which the familiar phrase was supposed to convey.
His arrogance does not rest merely on the testimony of personal enemies like the historian, Polydore Vergil, and the poet Skelton, or of chroniclers like Hall, who wrote when vilification of Wolsey pleased both king and people, but on the despatches of diplomatists with whom he had to deal, and on the reports of observers who narrowly watched his demeanour. "He is," wrote one, "the proudest prelate that ever breathed." During the festivities of the Emperor's visit to England, in 1520, Wolsey alone sat down to dinner with the royal party, while peers, like the Dukes of Suffolk and Buckingham, performed menial offices for the Cardinal, as well as for Emperor, King and Queen. When he celebrated mass at the Field of Cloth of Gold, bishops invested him with his robes and put sandals on his feet, and "some of the chief noblemen in England" brought water to wash his hands. A year later, at his meeting with Charles at Bruges, he treated the Emperor as an equal. He did not dismount from his mule, but merely doffed his cap, and embraced as a brother the temporal head of Christendom. When, after a dispute with the Venetian ambassador, he wished to be friendly, he allowed Giustinian, with royal condescension, and as a special mark of favour, to kiss his hand. He never granted audience either to English peers or foreign ambassadors until the third or fourth time of asking. In 1515 it was the custom of ambassadors to dine with Wolsey before presentation at Court, but four years later they were never served until the viands had been removed from the Cardinal's table. A Venetian, describing Wolsey's embassy to France in 1527, relates that his "attendants served cap in hand, and, when bringing the dishes, knelt before him in the act of presenting them. Those who waited on the Most Christian King, kept their caps on their heads, dispensing with such exaggerated ceremonies."
Pretenders to royal honours seldom acquire the grace of genuine royalty, and the Cardinal pursued with vindictive ferocity those who offended his sensitive dignity. In 1515, Polydore Vergil said, in writing to his friend, Cardinal Hadrian, that Wolsey was so tyrannical towards all men that his influence could not last, and that all England abused him. The letter was copied by Wolsey's secretary, Vergil was sent to the Tower, and only released after many months at the repeated intercession of Leo X. His correspondent, Cardinal Hadrian, was visited with Wolsey's undying hatred. A pretext for his ruin was found in his alleged complicity in a plot to poison the Pope; the charge was trivial, and Leo forgave him. Not so Wolsey, who procured Hadrian's deprivation of the Bishopric of Bath and Wells, appropriated the see for himself, and in 1518 kept Campeggio, the Pope's legate, chafing at Calais until he could bring with him the papal confirmation of these measures. Venice had the temerity to intercede with Leo on Hadrian's behalf; Wolsey thereupon overwhelmed Giustinian with "rabid and insolent language"; ordered him not to put anything in his despatches without his consent; and revoked the privileges of Venetian merchants in England. In these outbursts of fury, he paid little respect to the sacrosanct character of ambassadors. He heard that the papal nuncio, Chieregati, was sending to France unfavourable reports of his conduct. The nuncio "was sent for by Wolsey, who took him into a private chamber, laid rude hands upon him, fiercely demanding what he had written to the King of France, and what intercourse he had held with Giustinian and his son, adding that he should not quit the spot until he had confessed everything, and, if fair means were not sufficient, he should be put upon the rack". Nine years later, Wolsey nearly precipitated war between England and the Emperor by a similar outburst against Charles's ambassador, De Praet. He intercepted De Praet's correspondence, and confined him to his house. It was a flagrant breach of international law. Tampering with diplomatic correspondence was usually considered a sufficient cause for war; on this occasion war did not suit Charles's purpose, but it was no fault of Wolsey's that his fury at an alleged personal slight did not provoke hostilities with the most powerful prince in Christendom.
Englishmen fared no better than others at Wolsey's hands. He used the coercive power of the State to revenge his private wrongs as well as to secure the peace of the realm. In July, 1517, Sir Robert Sheffield, who had been Speaker in two Parliaments, was sent to the Tower for complaining of Wolsey, and to point the moral of Fox's assertion, that none durst do ought in opposition to the Cardinal's interests. Again, the idea reflected by Shakespeare, that Wolsey was jealous of Pace, has been described as absurd; but it is difficult to draw any other inference from the relations between them after 1521. While Wolsey was absent at Calais, he accused Pace, without ground, of misrepresenting his letters to Henry, and of obtaining Henry's favour on behalf of a canon of York; he complained that foreign powers were trusting to another influence than his over the King; and, when he returned, he took care that Pace should henceforth be employed, not as secretary to Henry, but on almost continuous missions to Italy. In 1525, when the Venetian ambassador was to thank Henry for making a treaty with Venice, which Pace had concluded, he was instructed not to praise him so highly, if the Cardinal were present, as if the oration were made to Henry alone; and, four years later, Wolsey found an occasion for sending Pace to the Tower—treatment which eventually caused Pace's mind to become unhinged.
Wolsey's pride in himself, and his jealousy of others, were not more conspicuous than his thirst after riches. His fees as Chancellor were reckoned by Giustinian at five thousand ducats a year. He made thrice that sum by New Year's presents, "which he receives like the King". His demand for the Bishopric of Bath and Wells, coupled with the fact that it was he who petitioned for Hadrian's deprivation, amazed even the Court at Rome, and, "to avoid murmurs," compliance was deferred for a time. But these scruples were allowed no more than ecclesiastical law to stand in the way of Wolsey's preferment. One of the small reforms decreed by the Lateran Council was that no bishoprics should be held in commendam; the ink was scarcely dry when Wolsey asked in commendam for the see of the recently conquered Tournay. Tournay was restored to France in 1518, but the Cardinal took care that he should not be the loser. A sine qua non of the peace was that Francis should pay him an annual pension of twelve thousand livres as compensation for the loss of a bishopric of which he had never obtained possession. He drew other pensions for political services, from both Francis and Charles; and, from the Duke of Milan, he obtained the promise of ten thousand ducats a year before Pace set out to recover the duchy. It is scarcely a matter for wonder that foreign diplomatists, and Englishmen, too, should have accused Wolsey of spending the King's money for his own profit, and have thought that the surest way of winning his favour was by means of a bribe. When England, in 1521, sided with Charles against Francis, the Emperor bound himself to make good to Wolsey all the sums he would lose by a breach with France; and from that year onwards Charles paid—or owed—Wolsey eighteen thousand livres a year. It was nine times the pensions considered sufficient for the Dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk; and even so it does not include the revenue Wolsey derived from two Spanish bishoprics. These were not bribes in the sense that they affected Wolsey's policy; they were well enough known to the King; to spoil the Egyptians was considered fair game, and Henry was generous enough not to keep all the perquisites of peace or war for himself.
Two years after the agreement with Charles, Ruthal, Bishop of Durham, died, and Wolsey exchanged Bath and Wells for the richer see formerly held by his political ally and friend. But Winchester was richer even than Durham; so when Fox followed Ruthal to the grave, in 1528, Wolsey exchanged the northern for the southern see, and begged that Durham might go to his natural son, a youth of eighteen. All these were held in commendam with the Archbishopric of York, but they did not satisfy Wolsey; and, in 1521, he obtained the grant of St. Albans, the greatest abbey in England. His palaces outshone in splendour those of Henry himself, and few monarchs have been able to display such wealth of plate as loaded the Cardinal's table. Wolsey is supposed to have conceived vast schemes of ecclesiastical reform, which time and opportunity failed him to effect. If he had ever seriously set about the work, the first thing to be reformed would have been his own ecclesiastical practice. He personified in himself most of the clerical abuses of his age. Not merely an "unpreaching prelate," he rarely said mass; his commendams and absenteeism were alike violations of canon law. Three of the bishoprics he held he never visited at all; York, which he had obtained fifteen years before, he did not visit till the year of his death, and then through no wish of his own. He was equally negligent of the vow of chastity; he cohabited with the daughter of "one Lark," a relative of the Lark who is mentioned in the correspondence of the time as "omnipotent" with the Cardinal, and as resident in his household. By her he left two children, a son, for whom he obtained a deanery, four archdeaconries, five prebends, and a chancellorship, and sought the Bishopric of Durham, and a daughter who became a nun. The accusation brought against him by the Duke of Buckingham and others, of procuring objects for Henry's sensual appetite, is a scandal, to which no credence would have been attached but for Wolsey's own moral laxity, and the fact that the governor of Charles V. performed a similar office.
Repellent as was Wolsey's character in many respects, he was yet the greatest, as he was the last, of the ecclesiastical statesmen who have governed England. As a diplomatist, pure and simple, he has never been surpassed, and as an administrator he has had few equals. "He is," says Giustinian, "very handsome, learned, extremely eloquent, of vast ability and indefatigable. He alone transacts the same business as that which occupies all the magistracies, offices, and councils of Venice, both civil and criminal; and all State affairs are managed by him, let their nature be what it may. He is thoughtful, and has the reputation of being extremely just; he favours the people exceedingly, and especially the poor, hearing their suits and seeking to despatch them instantly. He also makes the lawyers plead gratis for all poor suitors. He is in very great repute, seven times more so than if he were Pope." His sympathy with the poor was no idle sentiment, and his commission of 1517, and decree against enclosures in the following year, were the only steps taken in Henry's reign to mitigate that curse of the agricultural population.
The Evil May Day riots of 1517 alone disturbed the peace of Wolsey's internal administration; and they were due merely to anti-foreign prejudice, and to the idea that strangers within the gates monopolised the commerce of England and diverted its profits to their own advantage. "Never," wrote Wolsey to a bishop at Rome in 1518, "was the kingdom in greater harmony and repose than now; such is the effect of my administration of justice and equity." To Henry his strain was less arrogant. "And for your realm," he says, "our Lord be thanked, it was never in such peace nor tranquillity; for all this summer I have had neither of riot, felony, nor forcible entry, but that your laws be in every place indifferently ministered without leaning of any manner. Albeit, there hath lately been a fray betwixt Pygot, your Serjeant, and Sir Andrew Windsor's servants for the seisin of a ward, whereto they both pretend titles; in the which one man was slain. I trust the next term to learn them the law of the Star Chamber that they shall ware how from henceforth they shall redress their matter with their hands. They be both learned in the temporal law, and I doubt not good example shall ensue to see them learn the new law of the Star Chamber, which, God willing, they shall have indifferently administered to them, according to their deserts."
Wolsey's "new law of the Star Chamber," his stern enforcement of the statutes against livery and maintenance, and his spasmodic attempt to redress the evils of enclosures, probably contributed as much as his arrogance and ostentation to the ill-favour in which he stood with the nobility and landed gentry. From the beginning there were frequent rumours of plots to depose him, and his enemies abroad often talked of the universal hatred which he inspired in England. The classes which benefited by his justice complained bitterly of the impositions required to support his spirited foreign policy. Clerics who regarded him as a bulwark on the one hand against heresy, and, on the other, against the extreme view which Henry held from the first of his authority over the Church, were alienated by the despotism Wolsey wielded by means of his legatine powers. Even the mild and aged Warham felt his lash, and was threatened with Præmunire for having wounded Wolsey's legatine authority by calling a council at Lambeth. Peers, spiritual no less than temporal, regarded him as "the great tyrant". Parliament he feared and distrusted; he had urged the speedy dissolution of that of 1515; only one sat during the fourteen years of his supremacy, and with that the Cardinal quarrelled. He possessed no hold over the nation, but only over the King, in whom alone he put his trust.
For the time he seemed secure enough. No one could touch a hair of his head so long as he was shielded by Henry's power, and Henry seemed to have given over his royal authority to Wolsey's hands with a blind and undoubting confidence. "The King," said one, in 1515, "is a youngling, cares for nothing but girls and hunting, and wastes his father's patrimony." "He gambled," reported Giustinian in 1519, "with the French hostages, occasionally, it was said, to the amount of six or eight thousand ducats a day." In the following summer Henry rose daily at four or five in the morning and hunted till nine or ten at night; "he spares," said Pace, "no pains to convert the sport of hunting into a martyrdom". "He devotes himself," wrote Chieregati, "to accomplishments and amusements day and night, is intent on nothing else, and leaves business to Wolsey, who rules everything." Wolsey, it was remarked by Leo X, made Henry go hither and thither, just as he liked, and the King signed State papers without knowing their contents. "Writing," admitted Henry, "is to me somewhat tedious and painful." When Wolsey thought it essential that autograph letters in Henry's hand should be sent to other crowned heads, he composed the letters and sent them to Henry to copy out. Could the most constitutional monarch have been more dutiful? But constitutional monarchy was not then invented, and it is not surprising that Giustinian, in 1519, found it impossible to say much for Henry as a statesman. Agere cum rege, he said, est nihil agere; anything told to the King was either useless or was communicated to Wolsey. Bishop West was sure that Henry would not take the pains to look at his and Worcester's despatches; and there was a widespread impression abroad and at home that the English King was a negligible quantity in the domestic and foreign affairs of his own kingdom.
For ten years Henry had reigned while first his council, and then Wolsey, governed. Before another decade had passed, Henry was King and Government in one; and nobody in the kingdom counted for much but the King. He stepped at once into Wolsey's place, became his own prime minister, and ruled with a vigour which was assuredly not less than the Cardinal's. Such transformations are not the work of a moment, and Henry's would have been impossible, had he in previous years been so completely the slave of Vanity Fair, as most people thought. In reality, there are indications that beneath the superficial gaiety of his life, Henry was beginning to use his own judgment, form his own conclusions, and take an interest in serious matters. He was only twenty-eight in 1519, and his character was following a normal course of development.
From the earliest years of his reign Henry had at least two serious preoccupations, the New Learning and his navy. We learn from Erasmus that Henry's Court was an example to Christendom for learning and piety; that the King sought to promote learning among the clergy; and on one occasion defended "mental and ex tempore prayer" against those who apparently thought laymen should, in their private devotions, confine themselves to formularies prescribed by the clergy. In 1519 there were more men of learning at the English Court than at any university; it was more like a museum, says the great humanist, than a Court; and in the same year the King endeavoured to stop the outcry against Greek, raised by the reactionary "Trojans" at Oxford. "You would say," continues Erasmus, "that Henry was a universal genius. He has never neglected his studies; and whenever he has leisure from his political occupations, he reads, or disputes—of which he is very fond—with remarkable courtesy and unruffled temper. He is more of a companion than a king. For these little trials of wit, he prepares himself by reading schoolmen, Thomas, Scotus or Gabriel." His theological studies were encouraged by Wolsey, possibly to divert the King's mind from an unwelcome interference in politics, and it was at the Cardinal's instigation that Henry set to work on his famous book against Luther. He seems to have begun it, or some similar treatise, which may afterwards have been adapted to Luther's particular case, before the end of the year in which the German reformer published his original theses. In September, 1517, Erasmus heard that Henry had returned to his studies, and, in the following June, Pace writes to Wolsey that, with respect to the commendations given by the Cardinal to the King's book, though Henry does not think it worthy such great praise as it has had from him and from all other "great learned" men, yet he says he is very glad to have "noted in your grace's letters that his reasons be called inevitable, considering that your grace was sometime his adversary herein and of contrary opinion". It is obvious that this "book," whatever it may have been, was the fruit of Henry's own mind, and that he adopted a line of argument not entirely relished by Wolsey. But, if it was the book against Luther, it was laid aside and rewritten before it was given to the world in its final form. Nothing more is heard of it for three years. In April, 1521, Pace explains to Wolsey the delay in sending him on some news-letters from Germany "which his grace had not read till this day after his dinner; and thus he commanded me to write unto your grace, declaring he was otherwise occupied; i.e., in scribendo contra Lutherum, as I do conjecture". Nine days later Pace found the King reading a new book of Luther's, "which he dispraised"; and he took the opportunity to show Henry Leo's bull against the Reformer. "His grace showed himself well contented with the coming of the same; howbeit, as touching the publication thereof, he said he would have it well examined and diligently looked to afore it were published." Even in the height of his fervour against heresy, Henry was in no mood to abate one jot or one tittle of his royal authority in ecclesiastical matters.
His book was finished before 21st May, 1521, when the King wrote to Leo, saying that "ever since he knew Luther's heresy in Germany, he had made it his study how to extirpate it. He had called the learned of his kingdom to consider these errors and denounce them, and exhort others to do the same. He had urged the Emperor and Electors, since this pestilent fellow would not return to God, to extirpate him and his heretical books. He thought it right still further to testify his zeal for the faith by his writings, that all might see he was ready to defend the Church, not only with his arms, but with the resources of his mind. He dedicated therefore, to the Pope, the first offerings of his intellect and his little erudition." The letter had been preceded, on 12th May, by a holocaust of Luther's books in St. Paul's Churchyard. Wolsey sat in state on a scaffold at St. Paul's Cross, with the papal nuncio and the Archbishop of Canterbury at his feet on the right, and the imperial ambassador and Tunstall, Bishop of London, at his feet on the left; and while the books were being devoured by the flames, Fisher preached a sermon denouncing the errors contained therein. But it was July before the fair copy of Henry's book was ready for presentation to Leo; possibly the interval was employed by learned men in polishing Henry's style, but the substance of the work was undoubtedly of Henry's authorship. Such is the direct testimony of Erasmus, and there is no evidence to indicate the collaboration of others. Pace was then the most intimate of Henry's counsellors, and Pace, by his own confession, was not in the secret. Nor is the book so remarkable as to preclude the possibility of Henry's authorship. Its arguments are respectable and give evidence of an intelligent and fairly extensive acquaintance with the writings of the fathers and schoolmen; but they reveal no profound depth of theological learning nor genius for abstract speculation. It does not rank so high in the realm of theology, as do some of Henry's compositions in that of music. In August it was sent to Leo, with verses composed by Wolsey and copied out in the royal hand. In September the English ambassador at Rome presented Leo his copy, bound in cloth of gold. The Pope read five leaves without interruption, and remarked that "he would not have thought such a book should have come from the King's grace, who hath been occupied, necessarily, in other feats, seeing that other men which hath occupied themselves in study all their lives cannot bring forth the like". On 2nd October it was formally presented in a consistory of cardinals; and, on the 11th, Leo promulgated his bull conferring on Henry his coveted title, "Fidei Defensor".
Proud as he was of his scholastic achievement and its reward at the hands of the Pope, Henry was doing more for the future of England by his attention to naval affairs than by his pursuit of high-sounding titles. His intuitive perception of England's coming needs in this respect is, perhaps, the most striking illustration of his political foresight. He has been described as the father of the British navy; and, had he not laid the foundations of England's naval power, his daughter's victory over Spain and entrance on the path that led to empire would have been impossible. Under Henry, the navy was first organised as a permanent force; he founded the royal dockyards at Woolwich and Deptford, and the corporation of Trinity House; he encouraged the planting of timber for shipbuilding, enacted laws facilitating inland navigation, dotted the coast with fortifications, and settled the constitution of the naval service upon a plan from which it has ever since steadily developed. He owed his inspiration to none of his councillors, least of all to Wolsey, who had not the faintest glimmering of the importance of securing England's naval supremacy, and who, during the war of 1522-23, preferred futile invasions on land to Henry's "secret designs" for destroying the navy of France. The King's interest in ships and shipbuilding was strong, even amid the alluring diversions of the first years of his reign. He watched his fleet sail for Guienne in 1512, and for France in 1513; he knew the speed, the tonnage and the armament of every ship in his navy; he supervised the minutest details of their construction. In 1520 his ambassador at Paris tells him that Francis is building a ship, "and reasoneth in this mystery of shipman's craft as one which had understanding in the same. But, sir, he approacheth not your highness in that science." A French envoy records how, in 1515, the whole English Court went down to see the launch of the Princess Mary. Henry himself "acted as pilot and wore a sailor's coat and trousers, made of cloth of gold, and a gold chain with the inscription, 'Dieu est mon droit,' to which was suspended a whistle, which he blew nearly as loud as a trumpet". The launch of a ship was then almost a religious ceremony, and the place of the modern bottle of champagne was taken by a mass, which was said by the Bishop of Durham. In 1518 Giustinian tells how Henry went to Southampton to see the Venetian galleys, and caused some new guns to be "fired again and again, marking their range, as he is very curious about matters of this kind".
It was not long before Henry developed an active participation in serious matters other than theological disputes and naval affairs. It is not possible to trace its growth with any clearness because no record remains of the verbal communications which were sufficient to indicate his will during the constant attendance of Wolsey upon him. But, as soon as monarch and minister were for some cause or another apart, evidence of Henry's activity in political matters becomes more available. Thus, in 1515, we find Wolsey sending the King, at his own request, the Act of Apparel, just passed by Parliament, for Henry's "examination and correction". He also desires Henry's determination about the visit of the Queen of Scotland, that he may make the necessary arrangements. In 1518 Henry made a prolonged stay at Abingdon, partly from fear of the plague, and partly, as he told Pace, because at Abingdon people were not continually coming to tell him of deaths, as they did daily in London. During this absence from London, Henry insisted upon the attendance of sufficient councillors to enable him to transact business; he established a relay of posts every seven hours between himself and Wolsey; and we hear of his reading "every word of all the letters" sent by his minister. Every week Wolsey despatched an account of such State business as he had transacted; and on one occasion, "considering the importance of Wolsey's letters," Henry paid a secret and flying visit to London. In 1519 there was a sort of revolution at Court, obscure enough now, but then a subject of some comment at home and abroad. Half a dozen of Henry's courtiers were removed from his person and sent into honourable exile, receiving posts at Calais, at Guisnes, and elsewhere. Giustinian thought that Henry had been gambling too much and wished to turn over a new leaf. There were also rumours that these courtiers governed Henry after their own appetite, to the King's dishonour; and Henry, annoyed at the report and jealous as ever of royal prestige, promptly cashiered them, and filled their places with grave and reverend seniors.
Two years later Wolsey was abroad at the conference of Calais, and again Henry's hand in State affairs becomes apparent. Pace, defending himself from the Cardinal's complaints, tells him that he had done everything "by the King's express commandment, who readeth all your letters with great diligence". One of the letters which angered Wolsey was the King's, for Pace "had devised it very different"; but the King would not approve of it; "and commanded me to bring your said letters into his privy chamber with pen and ink, and there he would declare unto me what I should write. And when his grace had your said letters, he read the same three times, and marked such places as it pleased him to make answer unto, and commanded me to write and rehearse as liked him, and not further to meddle with that answer; so that I herein nothing did but obeyed the King's commandment, and especially at such time as he would upon good grounds be obeyed, whosoever spoke to the contrary." Wolsey might say in his pride "I shall do so and so," and foreign envoys might think that the Cardinal made the King "go hither and thither, just as he liked"; but Wolsey knew perfectly well that when he thought fit, Henry "would be obeyed, whosoever spoke to the contrary". He might delegate much of his authority, but men were under no misapprehension that he could and would revoke it whenever he chose. For the time being, King and Cardinal worked together in general harmony, but it was a partnership in which Henry could always have the last word, though Wolsey did most of the work. As early as 1518 he had nominated Standish to the bishopric of St. Asaph, disregarding Wolsey's candidate and the opposition of the clerical party at Court, who detested Standish for his advocacy of Henry's authority in ecclesiastical matters, and dreaded his promotion as an evil omen for the independence of the Church.
Even in the details of administration, the King was becoming increasingly vigilant. In 1519 he drew up a "remembrance of such things" as he required the Cardinal to "put in effectual execution". They were twenty-one in number and ranged over every variety of subject. The household was to be arranged; "views to be made and books kept"; the ordnance seen to; treasurers were to make monthly reports of their receipts and payments, and send counterparts to the King; the surveyor of lands was to make a yearly declaration; and Wolsey himself and the judges were to make quarterly reports to Henry in person. There were five points "which the King will debate with his council," the administration of justice, reform of the exchequer, Ireland, employment of idle people, and maintenance of the frontiers. The general plan of Wolsey's negotiations at Calais in 1521 was determined by King and Cardinal in consultation, and every important detail in them and in the subsequent preparations for war was submitted to Henry. Not infrequently they differed. Wolsey wanted Sir William Sandys to command the English contingent; Henry declared it would be inconsistent with his dignity to send a force out of the realm under the command of any one of lower rank than an earl. Wolsey replied that Sandys would be cheaper than an earl, but the command was entrusted to the Earl of Surrey. Henry thought it unsafe, considering the imminence of a breach with France, for English wine ships to resort to Bordeaux; Wolsey thought otherwise, and they disputed the point for a month. Honours were divided; the question was settled for the time by twenty ships sailing while the dispute was in progress. Apparently they returned in safety, but the seizure of English ships at Bordeaux in the following March justified Henry's caution. The King was already an adept in statecraft, and there was at least an element of truth in the praise which Wolsey bestowed on his pupil. "No man," he wrote, "can more groundly consider the politic governance of your said realm, nor more assuredly look to the preservation thereof, than ye yourself." And again, "surely, if all your whole council had been assembled together, they could not have more deeply perceived or spoken therein".
The Cardinal "could not express the joy and comfort with which he noted the King's prudence"; but he can scarcely have viewed Henry's growing interference without some secret misgivings. For he was developing not only Wolsey's skill and lack of scruple in politics, but also a choleric and impatient temper akin to the Cardinal's own. In 1514 Carroz had complained of Henry's offensive behaviour, and had urged that it would become impossible to control him, if the "young colt" were not bridled. In the following year Henry treated a French envoy with scant civility, and flatly contradicted him twice as he described the battle of Marignano. Giustinian also records how Henry went "pale with anger" at unpleasant news. A few years later his successor describes Henry's "very great rage" when detailing Francis's injuries; Charles made the same complaints against the French King, "but not so angrily, in accordance with his gentler nature". On another occasion Henry turned his back upon a diplomatist and walked away in the middle of his speech, an incident, we are told, on which much comment was made in Rome.
But these outbursts were rare and they grew rarer; in 1527 Mendoza, the Spanish ambassador, remarks that it was "quite the reverse of the King's ordinary manner" to be more violent than Wolsey; and throughout the period of strained relations with the Emperor, Chapuys constantly refers to the unfailing courtesy and graciousness with which Henry received him. He never forgot himself so far as to lay rude hands on an ambassador, as Wolsey did; and no provocation betrayed him in his later years, passionate though he was, into a neglect of the outward amenities of diplomatic and official intercourse. Outbursts of anger, of course, there were; but they were often like the explosions of counsel in law courts, and were "to a great extent diplomatically controlled". Nor can we deny the consideration with which Henry habitually treated his councillors, the wide discretion he allowed them in the exercise of their duties, and the toleration he extended to contrary opinions. He was never impatient of advice even when it conflicted with his own views. His long arguments with Wolsey, and the freedom with which the Cardinal justified his recommendations, even after Henry had made up his mind to an opposite course, are a sufficient proof of the fact. In 1517, angered by Maximilian's perfidy, Henry wrote him some very "displeasant" letters. Tunstall thought they would do harm, kept them back, and received no censure for his conduct. In 1522-23 Wolsey advised first the siege of Boulogne and then its abandonment. "The King," wrote More, "is by no means displeased that you have changed your opinion, as his highness esteemeth nothing in counsel more perilous than one to persevere in the maintenance of his advice because he hath once given it. He therefore commendeth and most affectuously thanketh your faithful diligence and high wisdom in advertising him of the reasons which have moved you to change your opinion." No king knew better than Henry how to get good work from his ministers, and his warning against persevering in advice, merely because it has once been given, is a political maxim for all time.
A lesson might also be learnt from a story of Henry and Colet told by Erasmus on Colet's own authority. In 1513 war fever raged in England. Colet's bishop summoned him "into the King's Court for asserting, when England was preparing for war against France, that an unjust peace was preferable to the most just war; but the King threatened his persecutor with vengeance. After Easter, when the expedition was ready against France, Colet preached on Whitsunday before the King and the Court, exhorting men rather to follow the example of Christ their prince than that of Cæsar and Alexander. The King was afraid that this sermon would have an ill effect upon the soldiers and sent for the Dean. Colet happened to be dining at the Franciscan monastery near Greenwich. When the King heard of it, he entered the garden of the monastery, and on Colet's appearance dismissed his attendants; then discussed the matter with him, desiring him to explain himself, lest his audience should suppose that no war was justifiable. After the conversation was over he dismissed him before them all, drinking to Colet's health and saying 'Let every man have his own doctor, this is mine'." The picture is pleasing evidence of Henry's superiority to some vulgar passions. Another instance of freedom from popular prejudice, which he shared with his father, was his encouragement of foreign scholars, diplomatists and merchants; not a few of the ablest of Tudor agents were of alien birth. He was therefore intensely annoyed at the rabid fury against them that broke out in the riots of Evil May Day; yet he pardoned all the ringleaders but one. Tolerance and clemency were no small part of his character in early manhood; and together with his other mental and physical graces, his love of learning and of the society of learned men, his magnificence and display, his supremacy in all the sports that were then considered the peculiar adornment of royalty, they contributed scarcely less than Wolsey's genius for diplomacy and administration to England's renown. "In short," wrote Chieregati to Isabella d'Este in 1517, "the wealth and civilisation of the world are here; and those who call the English barbarians appear to me to render themselves such. I here perceive very elegant manners, extreme decorum, and very great politeness. And amongst other things there is this most invincible King, whose accomplishments and qualities are so many and excellent that I consider him to surpass all who ever wore a crown; and blessed and happy may this country call itself in having as its lord so worthy and eminent a sovereign; whose sway is more bland and gentle than the greatest liberty under any other."
FROM CALAIS TO ROME.
The wonderful success that had attended Wolsey's policy during his seven years' tenure of power, and the influential position to which he had raised England in the councils of Christendom, might well have disturbed the mental balance of a more modest and diffident man than the Cardinal; and it is scarcely surprising that he fancied himself, and sought to become, arbiter of the destinies of Europe. The condition of continental politics made his ambition seem less than extravagant. Power was almost monopolised by two young princes whose rivalry was keen, whose resources were not altogether unevenly matched, and whose disputes were so many and serious that war could only be averted by a pacific determination on both sides which neither possessed. Francis had claims on Naples, and his dependant, D'Albret, on Navarre. Charles had suzerain rights over Milan and a title to Burgundy, of which his great-grandfather Charles the Bold had been despoiled by Louis XI. Yet the Emperor had not the slightest intention of compromising his possession of Naples or Navarre, and Francis was quite as resolute to surrender neither Burgundy nor Milan. They both became eager competitors for the friendship of England, which, if its resources were inadequate to support the position of arbiter, was at least a most useful makeweight. England's choice of policy was, however, strictly limited. She could not make war upon Charles. It was not merely that Charles had a staunch ally in his aunt Catherine of Aragon, who is said to have "made such representations and shown such reasons against" the alliance with Francis "as one would not have supposed she would have dared to do, or even to imagine". It was not merely that in this matter Catherine was backed by the whole council except Wolsey, and by the real inclinations of the King. It was that the English people were firmly imperialist in sympathy. The reason was obvious. Charles controlled the wool-market of the Netherlands, and among English exports wool was all-important. War with Charles meant the ruin of England's export trade, the starvation or impoverishment of thousands of Englishmen; and when war was declared against Charles eight years later, it more nearly cost Henry his throne than all the fulminations of the Pope or religious discontents, and after three months it was brought to a summary end. England remained at peace with Spain so long as Spain controlled its market for wool; when that market passed into the hands of the revolted Netherlands, the same motive dictated an alliance with the Dutch against Philip II. War with Charles in 1520 was out of the question; and for the next two years Wolsey and Henry were endeavouring to make Francis and the Emperor bid against each other, in order that England might obtain the maximum of concession from Charles when it should declare in his favour, as all along was intended.
By the Treaty of London Henry was bound to assist the aggrieved against the aggressor. But that treaty had been concluded between England and France in the first instance; Henry's only daughter was betrothed to the Dauphin; and Francis was anxious to cement his alliance with Henry by a personal interview. It was Henry's policy to play the friend for the time; and, as a proof of his desire for the meeting with Francis, he announced, in August, 1519, his resolve to wear his beard until the meeting took place. He reckoned without his wife. On 8th November Louise of Savoy, the queen-mother of France, taxed Boleyn, the English ambassador, with a report that Henry had put off his beard. "I said," writes Boleyn, "that, as I suppose, it hath been by the Queen's desire; for I told my lady that I have hereafore time known when the King's grace hath worn long his beard, that the Queen hath daily made him great instance, and desired him to put it off for her sake." Henry's inconstancy in the matter of his beard not only caused diplomatic inconvenience, but, it may be parenthetically remarked, adds to the difficulty of dating his portraits. Francis, however, considered the Queen's interference a sufficient excuse, or was not inclined to stick at such trifles; and on 10th January, 1520, he nominated Wolsey his proctor to make arrangements for the interview. As Wolsey was also agent for Henry, the French King saw no further cause for delay.
The delay came from England; the meeting with Francis would be a one-sided pronouncement without some corresponding favour to Charles. Some time before Henry had sent Charles a pressing invitation to visit England on his way from Spain to Germany; and the Emperor, suspicious of the meeting between Henry and Francis, was only too anxious to come and forestall it. The experienced Margaret of Savoy admitted that Henry's friendship was essential to Charles; but Spaniards were not to be hurried, and it would be May before the Emperor's convoy was ready. So Henry endeavoured to postpone his engagement with Francis. The French King replied that by the end of May his Queen would be in the eighth month of her pregnancy, and that if the meeting were further prorogued she must perforce be absent. Henry was nothing if not gallant, at least on the surface. Francis's argument clinched the matter. The interview, ungraced by the presence of France's Queen, would, said Henry, be robbed of most of its charm; and he gave Charles to understand that, unless he reached England by the middle of May, his visit would have to be cancelled. This intimation produced an unwonted despatch in the Emperor's movements; but fate was against him, and contrary winds rendered his arrival in time a matter of doubt till the last possible moment. Henry must cross to Calais on the 31st of May, whether Charles came or not; and it was the 26th before the Emperor's ships appeared off the cliffs of Dover. Wolsey put out in a small boat to meet him, and conducted Charles to the castle where he lodged. During the night Henry arrived. Early next day, which was Whitsunday, the two sovereigns proceeded to Canterbury, where the Queen and Court had come on the way to France to spend their Pentecost. Five days the Emperor remained with his aunt, whom he now saw for the first time; but the days were devoted to business rather than to elaborate ceremonial and show, for which there had been little time to prepare.
On the last day of May Charles took ship at Sandwich for Flanders. Henry embarked at Dover for France. The painting at Hampton Court depicting the scene has, like almost every other picture of Henry's reign, been ascribed to Holbein; but six years were to pass before the great artist visited England. The King himself is represented as being on board the four-masted Henry Grace à Dieu, commonly called the Great Harry, the finest ship afloat; though the vessel originally fitted out for his passage was the Katherine Pleasaunce. At eleven o'clock he landed at Calais. On Monday, the 4th of June, Henry and all his Court proceeded to Guisnes. There a temporary palace of art had been erected, the splendour of which is inadequately set forth in pages upon pages of contemporary descriptions. One Italian likened it to the palaces described in Boiardo's Orlando Innamorato and Ariosto's Orlando Furioso; another declared that it could not have been better designed by Leonardo da Vinci himself. Everything was in harmony with this architectural pomp. Wolsey was accompanied, it was said in Paris, by two hundred gentlemen clad in crimson velvet, and had a body-guard of two hundred archers. He was himself clothed in crimson satin from head to foot, his mule was covered with crimson velvet, and her trappings were all of gold. Henry, "the most goodliest prince that ever reigned over the realm of England," appeared even to Frenchmen as a very handsome prince, "honnête, hault et droit," in manner gentle and gracious, rather fat, and—in spite of his Queen—with a red beard, large enough and very becoming. Another eye-witness adds the curious remark that, while Francis was the taller of the two, Henry had the handsomer and more feminine face! On the 7th of June the two Kings started simultaneously from Guisnes and Ardres for their personal meeting in the valley mid-way between the two towns, already known as the Val Doré. The obscure but familiar phrase, Field of Cloth of Gold, is a mistranslation of the French Camp du Drap d'Or. As they came in sight a temporary suspicion of French designs seized the English, but it was overcome. Henry and Francis rode forward alone, embraced each other first on horseback and then again on foot, and made show of being the closest friends in Christendom. On Sunday the 10th Henry dined with the French Queen, and Francis with Catherine of Aragon. The following week was devoted to tourneys, which the two Kings opened by holding the field against all comers. The official accounts are naturally silent on the royal wrestling match, recorded in French memoirs and histories. On the 17th Francis, as a final effort to win Henry's alliance, paid a surprise visit to him at breakfast with only four attendants. The jousts were concluded with a solemn mass said by Wolsey in a chapel built on the field. The Cardinal of Bourbon presented the Gospel to Francis to kiss; he refused, offering it to Henry who was too polite to accept the honour. The same respect for each other's dignity was observed with the Pax, and the two Queens behaved with a similarly courteous punctilio. After a friendly dispute as to who should kiss the Pax first, they kissed each other instead. On the 24th Henry and Francis met to interchange gifts, to make their final professions of friendship, and to bid each other adieu. Francis set out for Abbeville, and Henry returned to Calais.
The Field of Cloth of Gold was the last and most gorgeous display of the departing spirit of chivalry; it was also perhaps the most portentous deception on record. "These sovereigns," wrote a Venetian, "are not at peace. They adapt themselves to circumstances, but they hate each other very cordially." Beneath the profusion of friendly pretences lay rooted suspicions and even deliberate hostile intentions. Before Henry left England the rumour of ships fitting out in French ports had stopped preparations for the interview; and they were not resumed till a promise under the broad seal of France was given that no French ship should sail before Henry's return. On the eve of the meeting Henry is said to have discovered that three or four thousand French troops were concealed in the neighbouring country; he insisted on their removal, and Francis's unguarded visit to Henry was probably designed to disarm the English distrust. No sooner was Henry's back turned than the French began the fortification of Ardres, while Henry on his part went to Calais to negotiate a less showy but genuine friendship with Charles. No such magnificence adorned their meeting as had been displayed at the Field of Cloth of Gold, but its solid results were far more lasting. On 10th July Henry rode to Gravelines where the Emperor was waiting. On the 11th they returned together to Calais, where during a three days' visit the negotiations begun at Canterbury were completed. The ostensible purport of the treaty signed on the 14th was to bind Henry to proceed no further in the marriage between the Princess Mary and the Dauphin, and Charles no further in that between himself and Francis's daughter, Charlotte. But more topics were discussed than appeared on the surface; and among them was a proposal to marry Mary to the Emperor himself. The design proves that Henry and Wolsey had already made up their minds to side with Charles, whenever his disputes with Francis should develop into open hostilities.
That consummation could not be far off. Charles had scarcely turned his back upon Spain when murmurs of disaffection were heard through the length and breadth of the land; and while he was discussing with Henry at Calais the prospects of a war with France, his commons in Spain broke out into open revolt. The rising had attained such dimensions by February, 1521, that Henry thought Charles was likely to lose his Spanish dominions. The temptation was too great for France to resist; and in the early spring of 1521 French forces overran Navarre, and restored to his kingdom the exile D'Albret. Francis had many plausible excuses, and sought to prove that he was not really the aggressor. There had been confused fighting between the imperialist Nassau and Francis's allies, the Duke of Guelders and Robert de la Marck, which the imperialists may have begun. But Francis revealed his true motive, when he told Fitzwilliam that he had many grievances against Charles and could not afford to neglect this opportunity for taking his revenge.
War between Emperor and King soon spread from Navarre to the borders of Flanders and to the plains of Northern Italy. Both sovereigns claimed the assistance of England in virtue of the Treaty of London. But Henry would not be prepared for war till the following year at least; and he proposed that Wolsey should go to Calais to mediate between the two parties and decide which had been the aggressor. Charles, either because he was unprepared or was sure of Wolsey's support, readily agreed; but Francis was more reluctant, and only the knowledge that, if he refused, Henry would at once side with Charles, induced him to consent to the conference. So on 2nd August, 1521, the Cardinal again crossed the Channel. His first interview was with the imperial envoys. They announced that Charles had given them no power to treat for a truce. Wolsey refused to proceed without this authority; and he obtained the consent of the French chancellor, Du Prat, to his proposal to visit the Emperor at Bruges, and secure the requisite powers. He was absent more than a fortnight, and not long after his return fell ill. This served to pass time in September, and the extravagant demands of both parties still further prolonged the proceedings. Wolsey was constrained to tell them the story of a courtier who asked his King for the grant of a forest; when his relatives denounced his presumption, he replied that he only wanted in reality eight or nine trees. The French and imperial chancellors not merely demanded their respective forests, but made the reduction of each single tree a matter of lengthy dispute; and as soon as a fresh success in the varying fortune of war was reported, they returned to their early pretensions. Wolsey was playing his game with consummate skill; delay was his only desire; his illness had been diplomatic; his objects were to postpone for a few months the breach and to secure the pensions from France due at the end of October.
The conference at Calais was in fact a monument of perfidy worthy of Ferdinand the Catholic. The plan was Wolsey's, but Henry had expressed full approval. As early as July the King was full of his secret design for destroying the navy of France, though he did not propose to proceed with the enterprise till Wolsey had completed the arrangements with Charles. The subterfuge about Charles refusing his powers and the Cardinal's journey to Bruges had been arranged between Henry, Wolsey and Charles before Wolsey left England. The object of that visit, so far from being to facilitate an agreement, was to conclude an offensive and defensive alliance against one of the two parties between whom Wolsey was pretending to mediate. "Henry agrees," wrote Charles's ambassador on 6th July, "with Wolsey's plan that he should be sent to Calais under colour of hearing the grievances of both parties: and when he cannot arrange them, he should withdraw to the Emperor to treat of the matters aforesaid". The treaty was concluded at Bruges on 25th August before he returned to Calais; the Emperor promised Wolsey the Papacy; the details of a joint invasion were settled. Charles was to marry Mary; and the Pope was to dispense the two from the disability of their kinship, and from engagements with others which both had contracted. The Cardinal might be profuse in his protestations of friendship for France, of devotion to peace, and of his determination to do justice to the parties before him. But all his painted words could not long conceal the fact that behind the mask of the judge were hidden the features of a conspirator. It was an unpleasant time for Fitzwilliam, the English ambassador at the French Court. The King's sister, Marguerite de Valois, taxed Fitzwilliam with Wolsey's proceedings, hinting that deceit was being practised on Francis. The ambassador grew hot, vowed Henry was not a dissembler, and that he would prove it on any gentleman who dared to maintain that he was. But he knew nothing of Wolsey's intrigues; nor was the Cardinal, to whom Fitzwilliam denounced the insinuation, likely to blush, though he knew that the charge was true.
Wolsey returned from Calais at the end of November, having failed to establish the truce to which the negotiations had latterly been in appearance directed. But the French half-yearly pensions were paid, and England had the winter in which to prepare for war. No attempt had been made to examine impartially the mutual charges of aggression urged by the litigants, though a determination of that point could alone justify England's intervention. The dispute was complicated enough. If, as Charles contended, the Treaty of London guaranteed the status quo, Francis, by invading Navarre, was undoubtedly the offender. But the French King pleaded the Treaty of Noyon, by which Charles had bound himself to do justice to the exiled King of Navarre, to marry the French King's daughter, and to pay tribute for Naples. That treaty was not abrogated by the one concluded in London, yet Charles had fulfilled none of his promises. Moreover, the Emperor himself had, long before the invasion of Navarre, been planning a war with France, and negotiating with Leo to expel the French from Milan, and to destroy the predominant French faction in Genoa. His ministers were making little secret of Charles's warlike intentions, when the Spanish revolt placed irresistible temptation in Francis's way, and provoked that attack on Navarre, which enabled Charles to plead, with some colour, that he was not the aggressor. This was the ground alleged by Henry for siding with Charles, but it was not his real reason for going to war. Nearly a year before Navarre was invaded, he had discussed the rupture of Mary's engagement with the Dauphin and the transference of her hand to the Emperor.
The real motives of England's policy do not appear on the surface. "The aim of the King of England," said Clement VII. in 1524, "is as incomprehensible as the causes by which he is moved are futile. He may, perhaps, wish to revenge himself for the slights he has received from the King of France and from the Scots, or to punish the King of France for his disparaging language; or, seduced by the flattery of the Emperor, he may have nothing else in view than to help the Emperor; or he may, perhaps, really wish to preserve peace in Italy, and therefore declares himself an enemy of any one who disturbs it. It is even not impossible that the King of England expects to be rewarded by the Emperor after the victory, and hopes, perhaps, to get Normandy." Clement three years before, when Cardinal de Medici, had admitted that he knew little of English politics; and his ignorance may explain his inability to give a more satisfactory reason for Henry's conduct than these tentative and far-fetched suggestions. But after the publication of Henry's State papers, it is not easy to arrive at any more definite conclusion. The only motive Wolsey alleges, besides the ex post facto excuses of Francis's conduct, is the recovery of Henry's rights to the crown of France; and if this were the real object, it reduces both King and Cardinal to the level of political charlatans. To conquer France was a madcap scheme, when Henry himself was admitting the impossibility of raising 30,000 foot or 10,000 horse, without hired contingents from Charles's domains; when, according to Giustinian, it would have been hard to levy 100 men-at-arms or 1000 light cavalry in the whole island; when the only respectable military force was the archers, already an obsolete arm. Invading hosts could never be victualled for more than three months, or stand a winter campaign; English troops were ploughmen by profession and soldiers only by chance; Henry VII.'s treasure was exhausted, and efforts to raise money for fitful and futile inroads nearly produced a revolt. Henry VIII. himself was writing that to provide for these inroads would prevent him keeping an army in Ireland; and Wolsey was declaring that for the same reason English interests in Scotland must take care of themselves, that border warfare must be confined to the strictest defensive, and that a "cheap" deputy must be found for Ireland, who would rule it, like Kildare, without English aid. It is usual to lay the folly of the pretence to the crown of France at Henry's door. But it is a curious fact that when Wolsey was gone, and Henry was his own prime minister, this spirited foreign policy took a very subordinate place, and Henry turned his attention to the cultivation of his own garden instead of seeking to annex his neighbour's. It is possible that he was better employed in wasting his people's blood and treasure in the futile devastation of France, than in placing his heel on the Church and sending Fisher and More to the scaffold; but his attempts to reduce Ireland to order, and to unite England and Scotland, violent though his methods may have been, were at least more sane than the quest for the crown of France, or even for the possession of Normandy.
Yet if these were not Wolsey's aims, what were his motives? The essential thing for England was the maintenance of a fairly even balance between Francis and Charles; and if Wolsey thought that would best be secured by throwing the whole of England's weight into the Emperor's scale, he must have strangely misread the political situation. He could not foresee, it may be said, the French debacle. If so, it was from no lack of omens. Even supposing he was ignorant, or unable to estimate the effects, of the moral corruption of Francis, the peculations of his mother Louise of Savoy, the hatred of the war, universal among the French lower classes, there were definite warnings from more careful observers. As early as 1517 there were bitter complaints in France of the gabelle and other taxes, and a Cordelier denounced the French King as worse than Nero. In 1519 an anonymous Frenchman wrote that Francis had destroyed his own people, emptied his kingdom of money, and that the Emperor or some other would soon have a cheap bargain of the kingdom, for he was more unsteady on his throne than people thought. Even the treason of Bourbon, which contributed so much to the French King's fall, was rumoured three years before it occurred, and in 1520 he was known to be "playing the malcontent". At the Field of Cloth of Gold Henry is said to have told Francis that, had he a subject like Bourbon, he would not long leave his head on his shoulders. All these details were reported to the English Government and placed among English archives; and, indeed, at the English Court the general anticipation, justified by the event, was that Charles would carry the day.
No possible advantage could accrue to England from such a destruction of the balance of power; her position as mediator was only tenable so long as neither Francis nor Charles had the complete mastery. War on the Emperor was, no doubt, out of the question, but that was no reason for war on France. Prudence counselled England to make herself strong, to develop her resources, and to hold her strength in reserve, while the two rivals weakened each other by war. She would then be in a far better position to make her voice heard in the settlement, and would probably have been able to extract from it all the benefits she could with reason or justice demand. So obvious was the advantage of this policy that for some time acute French statesmen refused to credit Wolsey with any other. They said, reported an English envoy to the Cardinal, "that your grace would make your profit with them and the Emperor both, and proceed between them so that they might continue in war, and that the one destroy the other, and the King's highness may remain and be their arbiter and superior". If it is urged that Henry was bent on the war, and that Wolsey must satisfy the King or forfeit his power, even the latter would have been the better alternative. His fall would have been less complete and more honourable than it actually was. Wolsey's failure to follow this course suggests that, by involving Henry in dazzling schemes of a foreign conquest, he was seeking to divert his attention from urgent matters at home; that he had seen a vision of impending ruin; and that his actions were the frantic efforts of a man to turn a steed, over which he has imperfect control, from the gulf he sees yawning ahead. The only other explanation is that Wolsey sacrificed England's interests in the hope of securing from Charles the gift of the papal tiara.
However that may be, it was not for Clement VII. to deride England's conduct. The keen-sighted Pace had remarked in 1521 that, in the event of Charles's victory, the Pope would have to look to his affairs in time. The Emperor's triumph was, indeed, as fatal to the Papacy as it was to Wolsey. Yet Clement VII., on whom the full force of the blow was to fall, had, as Cardinal de Medici, been one of the chief promoters of the war. In August, 1521, the Venetian, Contarini, reports Charles as saying that Leo rejected both the peace and the truce speciously urged by Wolsey, and adds, on his own account, that he believes it the truth. In 1522 Francis asserted that Cardinal de Medici "was the cause of all this war"; and in 1527 Clement VII. sought to curry favour with Charles by declaring that as Cardinal de Medici he had in 1521 caused Leo X. to side against France. In 1525 Charles declared that he had been mainly induced to enter on the war by the persuasions of Leo, over whom his cousin, the Cardinal, then wielded supreme influence. So complete was his sway over Leo, that, on Leo's death, a cardinal in the conclave remarked that they wanted a new Pope, not one who had already been Pope for years; and the gibe turned the scale against the future Clement VII. Medici both, Leo and the Cardinal regarded the Papacy mainly as a means for family aggrandisement. In 1518 Leo had fulminated against Francis Maria della Rovere, Duke of Urbino, as "the son of iniquity and child of perdition," because he desired to bestow the duchy on his nephew Lorenzo. In the family interest he was withholding Modena and Reggio from Alfonso d'Este, and casting envious eyes on Ferrara. In March, 1521, the French marched to seize some Milanese exiles, who were harboured at Reggio. Leo took the opportunity to form an alliance with Charles for the expulsion of Francis from Italy. It was signed at Worms on the 8th of May, the day on which Luther was outlawed; and a war broke out in Italy, the effects of which were little foreseen by its principal authors. A veritable Nemesis attended this policy conceived in perfidy and greed. The battle of Pavia made Charles more nearly dictator of Europe than any ruler has since been, except Napoleon Bonaparte. It led to the sack of Rome and the imprisonment of Clement VII. by Charles's troops. The dependence of the Pope on the Emperor made it impossible for Clement to grant Henry's petition for divorce, and his failure to obtain the divorce precipitated Wolsey's fall.
Leo, meanwhile, had gone to his account on the night of 1st-2nd December, 1521, singing "Nunc dimittis" for the expulsion of the French from Milan; and amid the clangour of war the cardinals met to choose his successor. Their spirit belied their holy profession. "All here," wrote Manuel, Charles's representative, "is founded on avarice and lies;" and again "there cannot be so much hatred and so many devils in hell as among these cardinals". "The Papacy is in great decay" echoed the English envoy Clerk, "the cardinals brawl and scold; their malicious, unfaithful and uncharitable demeanour against each other increases every day." Feeling between the French and imperial factions ran high, and the only question was whether an adherent of Francis or Charles would secure election. Francis had promised Wolsey fourteen French votes; but after the conference of Calais he would have been forgiving indeed had he wielded his influence on behalf of the English candidate. Wolsey built more upon the promise of Charles at Bruges; but, if he really hoped for Charles's assistance, his sagacity was greatly to seek. The Emperor at no time made any effort on Wolsey's behalf; he did him the justice to think that, were Wolsey elected, he would be devoted more to English than to imperial interests; and he preferred a Pope who would be undividedly imperialist at heart. Pace was sent to join Clerk at Rome in urging Wolsey's suit, and they did their best; but English influence at the Court of Rome was infinitesimal. In spite of Campeggio's flattering assurance that Wolsey's name appeared in every scrutiny, and that sometimes he had eight or nine votes, and Clerk's statement that he had nine at one time, twelve at another, and nineteen at a third, Wolsey's name only appears in one of the eleven scrutinies, and then he received but seven out of eighty-one votes. The election was long and keenly contested. The conclave commenced on the 28th of December, and it was not till the 9th of January, 1522, that the cardinals, conscious of each other's defects, agreed to elect an absentee, about whom they knew little. Their choice fell on Adrian, Cardinal of Tortosa; and it is significant of the extent of Charles's influence, that the new Pope had been his tutor, and was proposed as a candidate by the imperial ambassador on the day that the conclave opened.
Neither the expulsion of the French from Milan, nor the election of Charles's tutor as Pope, opened Wolsey's eyes to the danger of further increasing the Emperor's power. He seems rather to have thrown himself into the not very chivalrous design of completing the ruin of the weaker side, and picking up what he could from the spoils. During the winter of 1521-22 he was busily preparing for war, while endeavouring to delay the actual breach till his plans were complete. Francis, convinced of England's hostile intentions, let Albany loose upon Scotland and refused to pay the pensions to Henry and Wolsey. They made these grievances the excuse for a war on which they had long been determined. In March Henry announced that he had taken upon himself the protection of the Netherlands during Charles's impending visit to Spain. Francis asserted that this was a plain declaration of war, and seized the English wine-ships at Bordeaux. But he was determined not to take the formal offensive, and, in May, Clarencieux herald proceeded to France to bid him defiance. In the following month Charles passed through England on his way to the south, and fresh treaties were signed for the invasion of France, for the marriage of Mary and for the extirpation of heresy. At Windsor Wolsey constituted his legatine court to bind the contracting parties by oaths enforced by ecclesiastical censures. He arrogated to himself a function usually reserved for the Pope, and undertook to arbitrate between Charles and Henry if disputes arose about the observance of their engagements. But he obviously found difficulty in raising either money or men; and one of the suggestions at Windsor was that a "dissembled peace" or a two years' truce should be made with France, to give England time for more preparations for war.
Nothing came of this last nefarious suggestion. In July Surrey captured and burnt Morlaix; but, as he wrote from on board the Mary Rose, Fitzwilliam's ships were without flesh or fish, and Surrey himself had only beer for twelve days. Want of victuals prevented further naval successes, and, in September, Surrey was sent into Artois, where the same lack of organisation was equally fatal. It did not, however, prevent him from burning farms and towns wherever he went; and his conduct evoked from the French commander a just rebuke of his "foul warfare". Henry himself was responsible; for Wolsey wrote on his behalf urging the destruction of Dourlens and the adjacent towns. If Henry really sought to make these territories his own, it was an odd method of winning the affections and developing the wealth of the subjects he hoped to acquire. Nothing was really accomplished except devastation in France. Even this useless warfare exhausted English energies, and left the Borders defenceless against one of the largest armies ever collected in Scotland. Wolsey and Henry were only saved, from what might have been a most serious invasion, by Dacre's dexterity and Albany's cowardice. Dacre, the warden of the marches, signed a truce without waiting for instructions, and before it expired the Scots army disbanded. Henry and Wolsey might reprimand Dacre for acting on his own responsibility, but they knew well enough that Dacre had done them magnificent service.
The results of the war from the English point of view had as yet been contemptible, but great things were hoped for the following year. Bourbon, Constable of France, and the most powerful peer in the kingdom, intent on the betrayal of Francis, was negotiating with Henry and Charles the price of his treason. The commons in France, worn to misery by the taxes of Francis and the ravages of his enemies, were eager for anything that might promise some alleviation of their lot. They would even, it appears, welcome a change of dynasty; everywhere, Henry was told, they cried "Vive le roi d'Angleterre!" Never, said Wolsey, would there be a better opportunity for recovering the King's right to the French crown; and Henry exclaimed that he trusted to treat Francis as his father did Richard III. "I pray God," wrote Sir Thomas More to Wolsey, "if it be good for his grace and for this realm, that then it may prove so, and else in the stead thereof, I pray God send his grace an honourable and profitable peace." He could scarcely go further in hinting his preference for peace to the fantastic design which now occupied the minds of his masters. Probably his opinion of the war was not far from that of old Bishop Fox, who declared: "I have determined, and, betwixt God and me, utterly renounced the meddling with worldly matters, specially concerning war or anything to it appertaining (whereof, for the many intolerable enormities that I have seen ensue by the said war in time past, I have no little remorse in my conscience), thinking that if I did continual penance for it all the days of my life, though I should live twenty years longer than I may do, I could not yet make sufficient recompense therefor. And now, my good lord, to be called to fortifications of towns and places of war, or to any matter concerning the war, being of the age of seventy years and above, and looking daily to die, the which if I did, being in any such meddling of the war, I think I should die in despair." Protests like this and hints like More's were little likely to move the militant Cardinal, who hoped to see the final ruin of France in 1523. Bourbon was to raise the standard of revolt, Charles was to invade from Spain and Suffolk from Calais. In Italy French influence seemed irretrievably ruined. The Genoese revolution, planned before the war, was effected; and the persuasions of Pace and the threats of Charles at last detached Venice and Ferrara from the alliance of France.
The usual delays postponed Suffolk's invasion till late in the year. They were increased by the emptiness of Henry's treasury. His father's hoard had melted away, and it was absolutely necessary to obtain lavish supplies from Parliament. But Parliament proved ominously intractable. Thomas Cromwell, now rising to notice, in a temperate speech urged the folly of indulging in impracticable schemes of foreign conquest, while Scotland remained a thorn in England's side. It was three months from the meeting of Parliament before the subsidies were granted, and nearly the end of August before Suffolk crossed to Calais with an army, "the largest which has passed out of this realm for a hundred years". Henry and Suffolk wanted it to besiege Boulogne, which might have been some tangible result in English hands. But the King was persuaded by Wolsey and his imperial allies to forgo this scheme, and to order Suffolk to march into the heart of France. Suffolk was not a great general, but he conducted the invasion with no little skill, and desired to conduct it with unwonted humanity. He wished to win the French by abstaining from pillage and proclaiming liberty, but Henry thought only the hope of plunder would keep the army together. Waiting for the imperial contingent under De Buren, Suffolk did not leave Calais till 19th September. He advanced by Bray, Roye and Montdidier, capturing all the towns that offered resistance. Early in November, he reached the Oise at a point less than forty miles from the French capital. But Bourbon's treason had been discovered; instead of joining Suffolk with a large force, he was a fugitive from his country. Charles contented himself with taking Fuentarabia, and made no effort at invasion. The imperial contingent with Suffolk's army went home; winter set in with unexampled severity, and Vendôme advanced. The English were compelled to retire; their retreat was effected without loss, and by the middle of December the army was back at Calais. Suffolk is represented as being in disgrace for this retreat, and Wolsey as saving him from the effects of his failure. But even Wolsey can hardly have thought that an army of twenty-five thousand men could maintain itself in the heart of France, throughout the winter, without support and with unguarded communications. The Duke's had been the most successful invasion of France since the days of Henry V. from a military point of view. That its results were negative is due to the policy by which it was directed.
Meanwhile there was another papal election. Adrian, one of the most honest and unpopular of Popes, died on 14th September, 1523, and by order of the cardinals there was inscribed on his tomb: Hic jacet Adrianus Sextus cui nihil in vita infelicius contigit quam quod imperaret. With equal malice and keener wit the Romans erected to his physician, Macerata, a statue with the title Liberatori Patriæ. Wolsey was again a candidate. He told Henry he would rather continue in his service than be ten Popes. That did not prevent him instructing Pace and Clerk to further his claims. They were to represent to the cardinals Wolsey's "great experience in the causes of Christendom, his favour with the Emperor, the King, and other princes, his anxiety for Christendom, his liberality, the great promotions to be vacated by his election, his frank, pleasant and courteous inclinations, his freedom from all ties of family or party, and the hopes of a great expedition against the infidel". Charles was, as usual, profuse in his promise of aid. He actually wrote a letter in Wolsey's favour; but he took the precaution to detain the bearer in Spain till the election was over. He had already instructed his minister at Rome to procure the election of Cardinal de Medici. That ambassador mocked at Wolsey's hopes; "as if God," he wrote, "would perform a miracle every day". The Holy Spirit, by which the cardinals always professed to be moved, was not likely to inspire the election of another absentee after their experience of Adrian. Wolsey had not the remotest chance, and his name does not occur in a single scrutiny. After the longest conclave on record, the imperial influence prevailed; on 18th November De Medici was proclaimed Pope, and he chose as his title Clement VII.
Suffolk's invasion was the last of England's active participation in the war. Exhausted by her efforts, discontented with the Emperor's failure to render assistance in the joint enterprise, or perceiving at last that she had little to gain, and much to lose, from the overgrown power of Charles, England, in 1524, abstained from action, and even began to make overtures to Francis. Wolsey repaid Charles's inactivity of the previous year by standing idly by, while the imperial forces with Bourbon's contingent invaded Provence and laid siege to Marseilles. But Francis still held command of the sea; the spirit of his people rose with the danger; Marseilles made a stubborn and successful defence; and, by October, the invading army was in headlong retreat towards Italy. Had Francis been content with defending his kingdom, all might have been well; but ambition lured him on to destruction. He thought he had passed the worst of the trouble, and that the prize of Milan might yet be his. So, before the imperialists were well out of France, he crossed the Alps and sat down to besiege Pavia. It was brilliantly defended by Antonio de Leyva. In November Francis's ruin was thought to be certain; astrologers predicted his death or imprisonment. Slowly and surely Pescara, the most consummate general of his age, was pressing north with imperial troops to succour Pavia. Francis would not raise the siege. On 24th February, 1525, he was attacked in front by Pescara and in the rear by De Leyva. "The victory is complete," wrote the Abbot of Najera to Charles from the field of battle, "the King of France is made prisoner.... The whole French army is annihilated.... To-day is feast of the Apostle St. Mathias, on which, five and twenty years ago, your Majesty is said to have been born. Five and twenty thousand times thanks and praise to God for His mercy! Your Majesty is, from this day, in a position to prescribe laws to Christians and Turks, according to your pleasure."
Such was the result of Wolsey's policy since 1521, Francis a prisoner, Charles a dictator, and Henry vainly hoping that he might be allowed some share in the victor's spoils. But what claim had he? By the most extraordinary misfortune or fatuity, England had not merely helped Charles to a threatening supremacy, but had retired from the struggle just in time to deprive herself of all claim to benefit by her mistaken policy. She had looked on while Bourbon invaded France, fearing to aid lest Charles would reap all the fruits of success. She had sent no force across the channel to threaten Francis's rear. Not a single French soldier had been diverted from attacking Charles in Italy through England's interference. One hundred thousand crowns had been promised the imperial troops, but the money was not paid; and secret negotiations had been going on with France. In spite of all, Charles had won, and he was naturally not disposed to divide the spoils. England's policy since 1521 had been disastrous to herself, to Wolsey, to the Papacy, and even to Christendom. For the falling out of Christian princes seemed to the Turk to afford an excellent opportunity for the faithful to come by his own. After an heroic defence by the knights of St. John, Rhodes, the bulwark of Christendom, had surrendered to Selim. Belgrade, the strongest citadel in Eastern Europe, followed. In August, 1526, the King and the flower of Hungarian nobility perished at the battle of Mohacz; and the internecine strife of Christians seemed doomed to be sated only by their common subjugation to the Turk.
Henry and Wolsey began to pay the price of their policy at home as well as abroad. War was no less costly for being ineffective, and it necessitated demands on the purses of Englishmen, to which they had long been unused. In the autumn of 1522 Wolsey was compelled to have recourse to a loan from both spiritualty and temporalty. It seems to have met with a response which, compared with later receptions, may be described as almost cheerful. But the loan did not go far, and before another six months had elapsed it was found necessary to summon Parliament to make further provision. The Speaker was Sir Thomas More, who did all he could to secure a favourable reception of Wolsey's demands. An unwonted spirit of independence animated the members; the debates were long and stormy; and the Cardinal felt called upon to go down to the House of Commons, and hector it in such fashion that even More was compelled to plead its privileges. Eventually, some money was reluctantly granted; but it too was soon swallowed up, and in 1525 Wolsey devised fresh expedients. He was afraid to summon Parliament again, so he proposed what he called an Amicable Grant. It was necessary, he said, for Henry to invade France in person; if he went, he must go as a prince; and he could not go as a prince without lavish supplies. So he required what was practically a graduated income-tax. The Londoners resisted till they were told that resistance might cost them their heads. In Suffolk and elsewhere open insurrection broke out. It was then proposed to withdraw the fixed ratio, and allow each individual to pay what he chose as a benevolence. A common councillor of London promptly retorted that benevolences were illegal by statute of Richard III. Wolsey cared little for the constitution, and was astonished that any one should quote the laws of a wicked usurper; but the common councillor was a sound constitutionalist, if Wolsey was not. "And it please your grace," he replied, "although King Richard did evil, yet in his time were many good acts made, not by him only, but by the consent of the body of the whole realm, which is Parliament." There was no answer; the demand was withdrawn. Never had Henry suffered such a rebuff, and he never suffered the like again. Nor was this all; the whole of London, Wolsey is reported to have said, were traitors to Henry. Informations of "treasonable words"—that ominous phrase—became frequent. Here, indeed, was a contrast to the exuberant loyalty of the early years of Henry's reign. The change may not have been entirely due to Wolsey, but he had been minister, with a power which few have equalled, during the whole period in which it was effected, and Henry may well have begun to think that it was time for his removal.
Whether Wolsey was now anxious to repair his blunder by siding with Francis against Charles, or to snatch some profit from the Emperor's victory by completing the ruin of France, the refusal of Englishmen to find more money for the war left him no option but peace. In April, 1525, Tunstall and Sir Richard Wingfield were sent to Spain with proposals for the exclusion of Francis and his children from the French throne and the dismemberment of his kingdom. It is doubtful if Wolsey himself desired the fulfilment of so preposterous and iniquitous a scheme. It is certain that Charles was in no mood to abet it. He had no wish to extract profit for England out of the abasement of Francis, to see Henry King of France, or lord of any French provinces. He had no intention of even performing his part of the Treaty of Windsor. He had pledged himself to marry the Princess Mary, and the splendour of that match may have contributed to Henry's desire for an alliance with Charles. But another matrimonial project offered the Emperor more substantial advantages. Ever since 1517 his Spanish subjects had been pressing him to marry the daughter of Emmanuel, King of Portugal. The Portuguese royal family had claims to the throne of Castile which would be quieted by Charles's marriage with a Portuguese princess. Her dowry of a million crowns was, also, an argument not to be lightly disregarded in Charles's financial embarrassments; and in March, 1526, the Emperor's wedding with Isabella of Portugal was solemnised.
Wolsey, on his part, was secretly negotiating with Louise of Savoy during her son's imprisonment in Spain. In August, 1525, a treaty of amity was signed, by which England gave up all its claims to French territory in return for the promise of large sums of money to Henry and his minister. The impracticability of enforcing Henry's pretensions to the French crown or to French provinces, which had been urged as excuses for squandering English blood and treasure, was admitted, even when the French King was in prison and his kingdom defenceless. But what good could the treaty do Henry or Francis? Charles had complete control over his captive, and could dictate his own terms. Neither the English nor the French King was in a position to continue the war; and the English alliance with France could abate no iota of the concessions which Charles extorted from Francis in January, 1526, by the Treaty of Madrid. Francis surrendered Burgundy; gave up his claims to Milan, Genoa and Naples; abandoned his allies, the King of Navarre, the Duke of Guelders and Robert de la Marck; engaged to marry Charles's sister Eleanor, the widowed Queen of Portugal; and handed over his two sons to the Emperor as hostages for the fulfilment of the treaty. But he had no intention of keeping his promises. No sooner was he free than he protested that the treaty had been extracted by force, and that his oath to keep it was not binding. The Estates of France readily refused their assent, and the Pope was, as usual, willing, for political reasons, to absolve Francis from his oath. For the time being, consideration for the safety of his sons and the hope of obtaining their release prevented him from openly breaking with Charles, or listening to the proposals for a marriage with the Princess Mary, held out as a bait by Wolsey. The Cardinal's object was merely to injure the Emperor as much as he could without involving England in war; and by negotiations for Mary's marriage, first with Francis, and then with his second son, the Duke of Orléans, he was endeavouring to draw England and France into a closer alliance. For similar reasons he was extending his patronage to the Holy League, formed by Clement VII. between the princes of Italy to liberate that distressful country from the grip of the Spanish forces.
The policy of Clement, of Venice, and of other Italian States had been characterised by as much blindness as that of England. Almost without exception they had united, in 1523, to expel the French from Italy. The result was to destroy the balance of power south of the Alps, and to deliver themselves over to a bondage more galling than that from which they sought to escape. Clement himself had been elected Pope by imperial influence, and the Duke of Sessa, Charles's representative in Rome, described him as entirely the Emperor's creature. He was, wrote Sessa, "very reserved, irresolute, and decides few things himself. He loves money and prefers persons who know where to find it to any other kind of men. He likes to give himself the appearance of being independent, but the result shows that he is generally governed by others." Clement, however, after his election, tried to assume an attitude more becoming the head of Christendom than slavish dependence on Charles. His love for the Emperor, he told Charles, had not diminished, but his hatred for others had disappeared; and throughout 1524 he was seeking to promote concord between Christian princes. His methods were unfortunate; the failure of the imperial invasion of Provence and Francis's passage of the Alps, convinced the Pope that Charles's star was waning, and that of France was in the ascendant. "The Pope," wrote Sessa to Charles V., "is at the disposal of the conqueror." So, on 19th January, 1525, a Holy League between Clement and Francis was publicly proclaimed at Rome, and joined by most of the Italian States. It was almost the eve of Pavia.
Charles received the news of that victory with astonishing humility. But he was not likely to forget that at the critical moment he had been deserted by most of his Italian allies; and it was with fear and trembling that the Venetian ambassador besought him to use his victory with moderation. Their conduct could hardly lead them to expect much from the Emperor's clemency. Distrust of his intentions induced the Holy League to carry on desultory war with the imperial troops; but mutual jealousies, the absence of effective aid from England or France, and vacillation caused by the feeling that after all it might be safer to accept the best terms they could obtain, prevented the war from being waged with any effect. In September, 1526, Hugo de Moncada, the imperial commander, concerted with Clement's bitter foes, the Colonnas, a means of overawing the Pope. A truce was concluded, wrote Moncada, "that the Pope, having laid down his arms, may be taken unawares". On the 19th he marched on Rome. Clement, taken unawares, fled to the castle of St. Angelo; his palace was sacked, St. Peter's rifled, and the host profaned. "Never," says Casale, "was so much cruelty and sacrilege."
It was soon thrown into the shade by an outrage at which the whole world stood aghast. Charles's object was merely to render the Pope his obedient slave; neither God nor man, said Moncada, could resist with impunity the Emperor's victorious arms. But he had little control over his own irresistible forces. With no enemy to check them, with no pay to content them, the imperial troops were ravaging, pillaging, sacking cities and churches throughout Northern Italy without let or hindrance. At length a sudden frenzy seized them to march upon Rome. Moncada had shown them the way, and on 6th May, 1527, the Holy City was taken by storm. Bourbon was killed at the first assault; and the richest city in Christendom was given over to a motley, leaderless horde of German, Spanish and Italian soldiery. The Pope again fled to the castle of St. Angelo; and for weeks Rome endured an orgy of sacrilege, blasphemy, robbery, murder and lust, the horrors of which no brush could depict nor tongue recite. "All the churches and the monasteries," says a cardinal who was present, "both of friars and nuns, were sacked. Many friars were beheaded, even priests at the altar; many old nuns beaten with sticks; many young ones violated, robbed and made prisoners; all the vestments, chalices, silver, were taken from the churches.... Cardinals, bishops, friars, priests, old nuns, infants, pages and servants—the very poorest—were tormented with unheard-of cruelties—the son in the presence of his father, the babe in the sight of its mother. All the registers and documents of the Camera Apostolica were sacked, torn in pieces, and partly burnt." "Having entered," writes an imperialist to Charles, "our men sacked the whole Borgo and killed almost every one they found.... All the monasteries were rifled, and the ladies who had taken refuge in them carried off. Every person was compelled by torture to pay a ransom.... The ornaments of all the churches were pillaged and the relics and other things thrown into the sinks and cesspools. Even the holy places were sacked. The Church of St. Peter and the papal palace, from the basement to the top, were turned into stables for horses.... Every one considers that it has taken place by the just judgment of God, because the Court of Rome was so ill-ruled.... We are expecting to hear from your Majesty how the city is to be governed and whether the Holy See is to be retained or not. Some are of opinion it should not continue in Rome, lest the French King should make a patriarch in his kingdom, and deny obedience to the said See, and the King of England find all other Christian princes do the same."
So low was brought the proud city of the Seven Hills, the holy place, watered with the blood of the martyrs and hallowed by the steps of the saints, the goal of the earthly pilgrim, the seat of the throne of the Vicar of God. No Jew saw the abomination of desolation standing where it ought not with keener anguish than the devout sons of the Church heard of the desecration of Rome. If a Roman Catholic and an imperialist could term it the just judgment of God, heretics and schismatics, preparing to burst the bonds of Rome and "deny obedience to the said See," saw in it the fulfilment of the woes pronounced by St. John the Divine on the Rome of Nero, and by Daniel the Prophet on Belshazzar's Babylon. Babylon the great was fallen, and become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit; her ruler was weighed in the balances and found wanting; his kingdom was divided and given to kings and peoples who came, like the Medes and the Persians, from the hardier realms of the North.