H. D. (Henry Duff) Traill.

Social England; a record of the progress of the people in religion, laws, learning, arts, industry, commerce, science, literature and manners, from the earliest times to the present day (Volume 3) online

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Online LibraryH. D. (Henry Duff) TraillSocial England; a record of the progress of the people in religion, laws, learning, arts, industry, commerce, science, literature and manners, from the earliest times to the present day (Volume 3) → online text (page 9 of 68)
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montane position would be found a hard task ; to remove its
candle altogether could not be done, even by Puritanism.

But with a sleepy conservatism and a new learning, not yet Revoiu-

, r .-, tionists.

alarmed by a new fanaticism, there seemed an opening tor the

party of revolution. In the England of AVolsey these men were
not yet formidable ; the old Wycliftite movement, though very
threatening in 1415, had ceased to stir classes or masses from
the reign of Henry VI. For the first forty years of Tudor rule



there were few signs of the Protestant upheaval. 1 The early
"Lutherans" of Oxford, and Cambridge, and London mostly
recanted or fled over sea, and the prudent leniency of \Volsey,
Warhani, and Tunstall deferred the danger till the Govern-
mental struggles broke the English Church from the com-
munion of Rome, and faith began to follow the changes of

But if the Lollards had failed in their own day, they seem
to have prepared the lower classes for some great changes
not in conscious expectation or agitation, but rather in a readi-
ness to acquiesce in steps which the mass of Frenchmen and
Spaniards refused to take. From year to year, when once men
had " leaped out of Peter's bark," England seemed to wake and
find itself more and more Protestant. The earlier Puritans
threw themselves heartily into the central purpose of the Tudor
revolution the laicising of the Church, the subjection of the
clerical estate and thus gained in great measure their own
ends, just where the Presbyterian- doctrinaires of Elizabeth's
day provoked a conflict. Latimer did not, like Cartwright, try
to substitute a Genevan Popery for the Roman. He was "shod
for the preparation of this gospel" when he "endeavoured to
teach and set it forth as our Prince hath devised."

Thus the conservatives, the reformers, and the revolution-
aries account for all sides of English religion in the first half

1 EJJ.. up to Wolsey's fall : (1) May 2, l.".ll. six men and four women, most
from Tenterden. brought before Warham and made to abjure. (2) Later in
May. in June. July. August, and September of the same year the registers of
Fitz-James of London, Xix of Norwich. Longland of Lincoln, have similar
entries. (3) All through March and April. 1521, Warham keeps urging Wolsey
to purge Oxford: in August. 1521, accordingly takes place the book-burning at
St. Paul's. (4) Five " noted Lutherans " are moved by Wolsey from Cambridge
to Christ Church (Cardinal College). Oxford, eirc. 1523. (">) Tyndale's New
Testaments burnt in Cheapside. 1527. (6) Bilney and Arthur recant before
Tunstall, November 27. 1527. (7) In 1528 appears Simon Fish's "Supplication
of Beggars." The London Protestants were organised into a " Christian
Brotherhood," with a central committee and paid agents for distributing New
Testaments, etc.

- The earlier State Protestantism is well represented in a book like Jewel's
"Apology" (especially Part VI.). speaking for the Church of England in 15(12,
before the High Church revival of 1589-1640. Jewel, attacking the Council
of Trent, says in effect, "We [churchmen] can bear our own wrongs. But
why shut they out Christian princes from their convocation ? For five hundred
years the Emperor alone appointed the Church assemblies."



of Henry's reign. "We need not count the courtiers and the
indifferentists as religious forces, though they powerfully aided
the action of those forces. For though Cromwell and
Cranmer became two of the Protestant heroes, the mission
of both was one of policy rather than of " prophecy ' : - a
mission not to believe or to disbelieve, but to make and to
mar. Theirs is essentially a State religion, and their offices,
however sacred, are of uncertain tenure held " during good

The political rather than doctrinal reformers, whose chief
interest in the struggle was personal and social, became in time
the liberals of the seventeenth century, as the rigid conserva-
tives grew into the Tridentine Romans of 1570; as the Oxford
reformers grew into the Church of England, and the revolu-
tionists into the Puritan Conformists and Nonconformists of
1662. Protestantism began as a revolt against the critical and
pagan spirit of the Renaissance, and then, passing into its stage
of warfare with Catholic authority, allied itself for a time,
and for a definite purpose, with the free thought it had risen
up to combat. Thus the alliance of civilisation with the
Christian faith, which had been the aim of the conservative
reformers, was broken by the divisions within the religious
world itself: thus-, while part of the new learning remained
the friend of the Church and recreated Catholicism, Roman
and Anglican, the other part gradually lost all sympathy with
theological interests, and gave itself to art, literature, and
science. But as yet, in Wolsey's day, this new learning seemed
!ar more likely to control Latin Christendom than, in any sense,
to be put under the ban of the Church

The histories of Church and State are interwoven in the
reign of Henry VIII. in a special sense. Never before or after 1509-1547.
is the union, the subordination, so complete. The Church- State
on its religious side becomes the State Church, the highest
department of the civil service of the pontiff-king. Only alter
his death, and then only very partially, does religion slowly
regain some independence of action.

But for his first twenty years (1509-29) he allows his

father's system to continue. Wolsey, the greatest of Church

statesmen, is the successor of Morton and Fox ; the king himself

is a tar keener churchman than any Tudor before him, studying




with eager personal interest that systematic theology 1 which
Julius II. and Leo X. were only supposed to know and to
protect. Anti-clerical feeling was latent, but the agitation for
Church disendowment, so marked in the Parliaments of 1395,
1404, and 1410, had not been renewed since Henry V.

Tim Lollard movement had died of inanition. Thus the
official history of religion under Henry VII. contains no heresy
trials only a restriction of the rights of sanctuary and benefit
of clergy, an increased authority given to the bishop over
clerical offenders, and Cardinal Morton's slight attempt in
advance of AVolsey to visit and reform the monasteries
(Vol. II., p. 031).

For the first six years of the new reign Warham held the
great seal fifth of the Tudor bishop-chancellors, " the Arch-
bishop " of Erasmus and Grocyn and Colet. It was with a
letter of Erasmus that Holbein presented himself at Lambeth
to see England and to paint the Primate's likeness. To
Warham it was said all men were as brothers in the new love
wolsey. of knowledge ; he only made difference between the friends
and foes of Christian learning ; but he was rather fitted for a
patron of scholars than for a leader of Church and State, and
between 1513-15 the reins slipped from his hands into those
of Thomas Wolsey, once the Boy Bachelor of Magdalen, now
the Cardinal Archbishop of York, who as Chancellor and
Legate a Latere gathered up all the civil and spiritual power of
England into his own hand, and so became the central figure
in the last days of the old regime.

To understand "Wolsey's position and aims was not in the
power of the later partisans, with their division of the world
into godly and Papist. His wars and intrigues, his taxes and
personal pomp, his Roman connection, his attempts on the
Papacy, his all-absorbing power in England, enraged for various
reasons the innovating party in religion, the liberal party in
politics, the dominant party in Lombard Street. 2 He meant,
they said, to slave for the king till he had made his fortune
and his master's and then escape to the Papal Court to the

1 Writing in l.">21, apparently with Wolsey 1 s help, "The Assertion of the
Seven Sacraments." His favourite author \vas Sr. Thomas Aquinas.

2 Though a word of praise for Wolsey's commercial policy cannot well l>e
left out of even the most cursory notice of Wolsey's life and work.



chair of St. Peter, if lie could. His own defence was ignored,
that he wished for the universal See to reform universal
Christendom. He disappointed the party of the new culture,


(From the painting by Holbein at Lambeth Palace, by permission of his Grace
the Archbishop of Canterbury.)

who looked to him for more liberal measures in government
and religion. He crushed Bible-reading, and so incurred the
hatred of all Protestants, learned and unlearned alike. His
long tenure of power began to tell upon him, as upon every



minister. Each year there was a greater burden of failures,
while men took the ordinary success lor granted. The agrarian
discontent, so serious later, began to show itself. There was
" sore grudging and murmuring among the people " at the
benevolence of 1525: it was worse, said the Kentish squires,
than the taxes of France ; and England, if she paid, would be
bond, not free (p. 16).

But it was by the loss of personal favour that Wolsey fell,
as he had risen. Henry's will had set him in power, and that
will could have kept him there. For nearly twenty years the
Butcher and his dog had ruled, 1 said his enemies, looking
on at Buckingham's ruin ; but the servant was only there
to satisfy his lord, who "for any part of his appetite would
put the half of his realm in danger." As the cardinal, like
More, was too great a man to be the mere tool of an irrespon-
sible will, that will destroyed him, and with him, for a time,
the cause of conservative reform. Revolution came in with
his successor, Thomas Cromwell. Like the body of the
clergy, Wolsey was felt, or said, to be " but half an English
subject " ; like them, the prsemunire, from which he had been
practically, if not legally, exempted, was used against him.
When the seals were taken from him in 1529, the Church
was left " at the foot of a dynasty that had learnt to kick

/ /

over and trample upon it."

woisey's But what had Wolsey done how had things moved in

Work ' these twenty years from 1509 to 1529 ? There had been no
open breach, no violent religious revival, but the Protestant
movement had begun abroad, and had also begun to touch
England from Germany ; the new learning was passing into the
religious revolution ; the fifteenth-century division of Christen-
dom into fully organised nations was becoming a division into
warring Churches ; and, as the Papacy became more and more
of a petty Italian State, and less of an oecumenical arbitrator,
clerical power became more and more isolated, while the Crown.
grew stronger. The Tudors had not started with a design of
secularising, but they had chosen their ministers from among
churchmen and made bishops of their ministers, till the bishops

1 The butcher (Henry), the dog (Wolsey) as Charles V. meant simply are
confused by Polydore Vergil, who starts the tale of Woisey's birth from a
butcher's family.



forgot that they were anything but ministers. Yet Wolsey,
though many thought he had forgotten his profession, was still
able to show at the end of life the example of a Grosseteste ;
and, in estimating his policy, it will be fair to call it essentially
that of a churchman the last great champion of the medieval

He aimed first of all at reform of the English Church, by
cautiously converting the monastic into an educational system,
by enlarging the Episcopate, by a strict and constant visitation
of the parish clergy, and by restating and guarding the con-
stitutional position towards Rome. With doctrinal alterations,
even with such practical reforms as the use of English for Latin,
Wolsey does not concern himself. He seems to believe that all
will come right if the old and new learning are once united, as
Colet had tried to do in his school at St. Paul's, as Colet's life-
long friend tried at Ipswich and Cardinal College, In these
two foundations Wolsey followed the plans of Merton, and of
Wykeham of Merton, in the general idea of reformation
through education ; of Wykeham, in the plan of a great
country school as the necessary feeder of a university college.
In 1524-25 his Oxford house of learning was endowed and
opened ; in 1528 the cardinal himself drew up the rules 1 for
the Ipswich school, in Latin, prescribing the course of study
for each of the eight classes into which he divided his boys.
For this project he adopted a plan of uniting smaller monas-
teries with the larger, and devoting the funds thus gained to
the new work of teaching ; he even schemed to commute the
payment of annates by a plan which would not only have
satisfied the king's needs for a time, but have added funds for
scholarship, and relieved the irritation with Rome.

His school and his professorships were suppressed, and his
college refounded and curtailed by the master who plundered
him. His schemes appeared to tail with his power, and yet.
after he had surrendered everything and retired to his " benefice
of York," he was more dreaded than before. The reason was

1 Still extant, and reprinted in 1825. Wolsey's foundation at Oxford pro-
vided for a dean, a sub-clean, 60 canons of the First Order, 40 of the Second,
13 chaplains, 12 clerks. 10 choristers, with lecturers on Divinity. Canon Law,
Physic, Philosophy, Logic, and Humanity ; and four censors, three treasurers,
four stewards, 20 inferior servants, 18(3 students.

38 THE OLD ORDER CILl \<il-: I).


plain : in the North he acted the bishop as well as he had acted
the statesman at Court, and he was rallying all the countryside
round himself, and the cause of the Church in him, when the
final order came for his arrest :-

"Who less beloved than my lord Cardinal before he came? Who
more, after he had been there, and of utter enemies made them all his
friends ? He gave bishops a right good example to win men's hearts.
There were few holy days but he would ride five or six miles, now to
this parish church, now to that, and there cause one or other of his doctors
to make a sermon unto the people. He sat amongst them, and said
mass before all the people ; ... he saw why churches were made
. . he began to restore them to their proper use. He brought his dinner
witli him, and bade divers of the parish to it. He inquired if there was
any debate or grudge between any. If there were, he sent after dinner
for the parties to the church and made them all one." '

His journey northward from his Nottingham palace at
Southwell to " Cawood by York," was the progress of a popular
leader ; the first day, from " eight till twelve and from one to
four," he stood confirming the children brought to him as ho
passed, till "constrained by very weariness to sit down in a
chair." Next morning, " or ever he departed," he confirmed
one hundred children more, and " at a stone cross near Ferry-
bridge there were assembled two hundred others, for whom In-
alighted, and never removed his foot till he had confirmed
them all." At Cawood, " he lay with love of worshipful and
of simple, exercising himself in charities and keeping open
house for all comers, having also, to rebuild the castle, above
three hundred artificers daily in wages," and preparing for his
enthronement in York Cathedral, " not going upon a way of
scarlet cloth like our predecessors " (as he warned the Chapter)
" but right simplily upon the vamps of our hosen."

At this moment came his arrest. He was hurried up to
London to answer for the social success of the last few months:
but the countryfolk in York and Doncaster ran after him,
when taken from them, cursing his enemies : " The foul evil
take them a very vengeance light on them God save your
Grace." Utterly broken in mind and in body, he could get no
further than Leicester " a very wretch replete with misery,"
but who at the last realised that religion and despotism, the

1 "Remedy for Sedition," published 1H3H (//. Cavendish's Life of Wolsey).




old Church and the new monarchy, might not always be
friends. " Every man layeth the burden from him ; I am con-
tent to take it on me, and to endure the fame and noise of
the people for my good will towards the king ; but the Eternal
God knoweth all.''

The fall of Wolsey is not only a political tragedy, it is the


sign of a social revolution nigh at hand ; it is a proximate The
cause of the Reformation in England. The leader of the
Church interest had barred, by his control of the executive, begins,
the entrance of foreign Protestantism. Lutherans he had
gently but firmly kept under, as a new type of Lollard, as



of the



political incendiaries. By his favour with tin- Crown he had
kept all aristocratic control and influence from the king: by
his position alike in Rome and Westminster, he had hern able
to supersede the Pope till men could not hear the old foreign
interference. The Legate-Chancellor prepared the la\v, the
Church, the nobles, the gentry and commons of England for
the new monarchy of Henry VIII. ; and " the nation which
trembled before \Volsey learned to tremble belore the king
who could destroy \Volsey at a breath." This was the under-
lying social fact of his rule, and his fall, taking away all check
on the royal will, opened the door for foreign influence, Court
factions, and a new national position, just so far as that royal
will chose to go, and the nation, which it so wonderfully
reflected, chose to follow. Wolsey had trained the king in
tact, in statesmanship, in knowledge of politics and of life,
till " he could manipulate the very prejudice and ignorance of
the people to his own purposes.'"' 1 From 152!) Henry VIII. is
his own sole minister; no man could tame him.

We are now on the eve of the Reformation Parliament and
its evolution of the modern Church-State system of England.
The separation from Rome, the reconstruction of English
religion, if it began with the personal matter of the king's
divorce, is carried through with something of the quiet power
of a force of Nature, and we must clearly separate the personal,
the intellectual, and the social causes of the revolution

Among the personal causes came the king's scruples about
his " incest " with his brother's wife, his passion for Anne Boleyn,
his disgust at Roman evasion, his disappointment with Wolsey
as an instrument, his necessary abatement of strict orthodoxy
through his connection with the hereticising Boleyns. The
Defender of the Faith and Assertor of the Seven Sacraments
gradually came to see in the disloyalty of a Papist something
worse than Lutheramsm. Wolsey, ruined partly for " Popery,"
partly for insufficient diplomatic conscience, was replaced by
the agnostic Cromwell, who neither feared God nor regarded
men by the side of his personal interests. Warham, a little
later, replaced by Cranmer, More and Fisher by Audley and
Wriothesley, Queen Catherine by Anne Boleyn and Jane

1 Stubbs, " Lectures on Medieval and Modern History,'' p. .'>:>!'.



Seymour who can deny that the changed personnel of the
Court acted as a part cause of the social change?

The intellectual preparation for some great change is evident Intel -

1 actual
in the groups of classical enthusiasts and liberal reformers

who had not yet been called to choose between the Church
and science, and to this influence must be added that of the


(By permission of the Right Hon. the Earl qf Warwick.)

books and tracts which had been pouring out of Germany since
1517. After Wolsey's removal, these became the favourite
reading of "earnest" people, as the wider schemes of social
reformers of More's Utopia, for instance were forgotten in
men's concentration on the religious struggle.

Of social preparation for the Reformation in England there SoeiaJu
was little in active, conscious movement ; enough in passive
indifference to, or dislike of, foreign bishops, in the clogged



national pride and independence of character, in the popular
love of Knglish speech and ways and government. Catholicism
without the Pope was the latent wish of most Englishmen,
and Henry succeeded by interpreting into fact just so much
and no more. He struck the true average, and that average

O ' o

backed him against the Tope and the clergy, against all
tendencies to go back into " Papism," against the reaction
caused by the monastic dissolution.

There was not only a social aversion to Rome, there was the
old Lancastrian layman's feeling of rebellion against anything
of sacerdotal dominion. The bishops' courts, the privileges of
sanctuary and of clergy, had all been "blown upon" under
Henry VII. ; and now the vast wealth and separate Parliament
of the clerical estate, its alleged control of one-fifth of English
land, its dominance in the peerage (where the spiritual lords still
numbered forty-eight out of eighty-four), its hold on political
power through the almost unbroken succession of clerical
ministers, especially in the Tudor period, as chancellors, keepers,
and presidents of council, all provoked the cry " Restrain."
Want of governance had been the complaint under the House
of Lancaster; now it was plainly seen by the king that the
clergy, by their local power as well as by their foreign al-
legiance, were " but half [the king's] subjects." Nobles, gentry,
merchants, lawyers, thus invited by the Crown, made good
speed to the feast. The wealthiest corporation in the
realm was to be despoiled ; this added zest to the thought
of freedom from restraint. For however much the Church,
in and out of England, had sunk from the thirteenth
century, it was still the most powerful and penetrating dis-
cipline in society ; men met with its prohibitions and canons,
felt its help or its hindrance in every walk of life. The
king himself was a spiritual subject of the servants of God ;
now the mass of Englishmen helped to raise him to a lay

its Cha- The English Reformation was the overthrow of sacerdotal-

racter. j gm as a f orm o f government. Beginning, not with doctrine,
as foreign Protestantism began, but with jurisdiction, it followed
"no law but that of its own development," and resulted in a
revolution which cannot be classified ; for, in spite of its
religious form and dress, it was in essence political and social.



and, as a middle-class movement, is connected with the Long
Parliament of 1640, and with the dynastic change which we
call so oddly " the Revolution."

WITH Wolsey's fall begins a new phase, not only in the history A. L.
of the English Church, but in the position of Parliament and in ^e w
the character of the king himself. It was significant that the Era in
issue of writs for a Parliament in 1529 was held to be a deci-
sive sign of the coming ruin of the minister who during all his
years of power had called a Parliament but once in 1523; and
that assembly he had tried to bully into submission. His
method had been to ignore or override Parliament ; from 1529

Online LibraryH. D. (Henry Duff) TraillSocial England; a record of the progress of the people in religion, laws, learning, arts, industry, commerce, science, literature and manners, from the earliest times to the present day (Volume 3) → online text (page 9 of 68)