James Wayland Joyce.

England's sacred synods : a constitutional history of the convocations of the clergy, from the earliest records of Christianity in Britain to the date of the promulgation of the present Book of common prayer; including a list of all councils, ecclesiastical as well as civil, held in England, in whic online

. (page 36 of 83)
Online LibraryJames Wayland JoyceEngland's sacred synods : a constitutional history of the convocations of the clergy, from the earliest records of Christianity in Britain to the date of the promulgation of the present Book of common prayer; including a list of all councils, ecclesiastical as well as civil, held in England, in whic → online text (page 36 of 83)
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K. Henry

P Coll. iv.
1 Cone.
JMag. Brit.
iii. 707.




A.D. 1500


r Coll., iv.
fi4, quotes
Lord Her-

' Coll. iv.

" Ibid.

V Orisrin of ^^^ king''s tyrannical mind could not bear
K. Henry VHi.'s the thoufflit of the Enfjlish Church recraininff

notion of becom- , . '^ ,., • • , .

ing head of the her aucient and just liberties without assuring
'' "^' to himself some of that jurisdiction which was

to be withdrawn from Home. This was an opportunity for
the exercise of that busy meddling interference which, how-
ever constant with him, is a type of his character attracting
but little observation, as being eclipsed by the dark and dreary
catalogue of infamous crime which shrouds his memory.

A circumstance had taken place in the year 1527 which
must not be passed over, as it shews the advances which were
made at that time for the emancipation of the Gallican
Church, as well as our own, from the usurped jurisdiction of
Rome ; and as it also is supposed by an authority ^ in such
matters to have suggested to K. Henry YIII. the fancy of
becoming " head of the clergy." In that year ^ it was " agreed
between the kings of France and England that no general
council summoned either by the Pope during his restraint (he
being then besieged in the castle of S. Angelo by the imperial
army) or by the Emperor should be received." And a further
agreement was entered into that the two kings should endea-
vour to " prevail ' with the clergy of their respective dominions
solemnly to protest against any such assemblies." It was
also provided " that while the Pope remained under durance,
if the English prelates with Cardinal Wolsey should make in
convocation any regulations for the government of the Church
of England, such regulations should be observed, provided
K. Henry had given his consent for such a purpose. The
same management was also to prevail in France ; and the
Gallican^ clergy, with K. Francis, were to stand in the same
position in reference to the liberty of self-regulation in eccle-
siastical matters there, as was occupied by the English clergy
and K. Henry here. And this arrangement, it is said, first
suggested the idea to K. Henry VIII. of arrogating to
himself the largest possible portion of ecclesiastical jurisdic-
tion, which afterwards, when the English Church had thrown
off allegiance to Rome, he succeeded in grasping with greedy

Circumstances Under tlicso preceding circumstances, — the
combined to pro- doctrincs of tlic Reformation spreading, the



mote the rejection EiiQ-lisli Oliurcli desiring to be relieved of the

of the papal supra- '^ -r. tt- tt atttt

macy in Engiaud. authority 01 the Popo, K. Heiiry Vlli. en-
raged at not being able to prevail with Clement VII. to dis-
solve the marriage, the English clergy being opposed to the
Pope's views on this subject, and the king having also con-
ceived the fancy of constituting himself " head of the clergy," —
it is no matter for surprise that great results ensued. Wolsey,
too, formerly the friend and adviser of the king, and one of
the chief supporters of papal jurisdiction here, had of late in-
curred the hatred of his eccentric and ever changeable master,
whose severest strokes of cruelty were always directed against
those to whom he was most nearly linked by ties of intimate
relationship, or most deeply obliged by acts of special service.
-„ -, ,. . Such was the state of affairs when the Con-

VI. Meeting of

Canterbury Sy- yocatiou of Canterbury met on the twenty-ninth
' ■ ' * day of April, 1530, at S.PauFs'" Cathedral, under
Archbishop Warham, and was continued '^ to the twenty-eighth
day of March, 1531 y. This provincial synod is one which
deserves special regard, because in it (for the other ecclesiasti-
cal business there transacted may be omitted) the concession
of the title "supreme head" with a certain qualification was
granted to K. Henry VIII., a formal act of which the full
and final rejection of papal supremacy by the English Church
was the natural and speedy result. This act may therefore be
considered to have laid the foundation, though at first per-
haps upon a dangerous bottom, of those events which ended
in the recovery of our Church's ancient independence on the
Roman pontiff, and in the restitution of her doctrines to their
primitive purity. It must be borne in mind that, in the latter
end of the previous year, 1529, the question of the king's
divorce, which had been entertained in this country before
Wolsey and Cardinal Campegio, without any steps being made
in advance, had been withdrawn to Rome^. And then the
full stream of the king's wrath was discharged upon AVolsey.
He was deprived ^ of the broad seal, despoiled of York Place ^
now Whitehall, and indicted "= under the statute 16 Rich. II.
(the statute of prpenumire) enacted against the purchasing
or pursuing bulls, instruments, processes, &c. in the court of
Rome or elsewhere, against the " king, his crown, and dignity."
The cardinal's fate thus declining, as a weight upon descent

A.D. 1500

K. Henry

" Cone.
Mag. Brit.
iii. 724.
" Cone.
Masr. Brit.
iii. 726.
y Cone.



- Coll. iv.

a Coll. iv.


b Coll. iv.


e Coll. iv.





A.D. 1530.

d Coke's
Inst., quoted
bv Coll. iv.
108, & sen.
e Coll. iv.
122, 123.

fColl. iv.
114. Rose,

K See Coll.
iv. 176, 177.

KK Cliap.
sec. 11.

gathered motion, and never stopped till it reached the bottom
of misfortune ; for several lords and others of the privy
council, according to the u.sual practice of courtiers when a
yoke-fellow has stumbled, fell upon him with the weight of
forty-four articles ^ in order to coni})lete his demolition. And
though the king showed^ some kind of relaxation towards him
before his death, yet Wolsey remaining incompliant on the
subject of the marriage, was arrested for high treason at
Cawood, near York, and having set forward to London, in
order to answer to the charge, fell sick by the way, and died
at the Abbey of Leicester f, Nov. 26 or 28, 1530.

Clergy involved ^^ is necessary to premise thus much in this
in a pramunirc. place, as regards Wolsey, because the praemunire
in which he was involved was the foot stone on which that
plan v/as laid which entrapped all the clergy of England in a
like perplexing snare, — a snare used to extort from them, on
the king's behalf, in the convocation now before us a large
amount of the goods of this world, and a title more properly
connected with that world which is to come.

For when Wolsey fell under the statute of priemunire, the
clergy were denounced as being entangled in the same meshes,
on account of having acknowledged his legatine authority,
and an indictment under the above-mentioned statute was
brought against the whole body into the King's Bench. But
that they had justly^' incurred the consequences of so stringent
an enactment is more than appears. It is not, however,
uncommon to see injustice committed on that order of men
by the managements of political partizanship. Their rights,
in times of public excitement, have not always been allowed
to stand on the foot of the law like those of other subjects.
The charge against them was that they had acknowledged
Wolsey's legatine authority. ]3ut, however nuich we may
regret that the English clergy ever acknowledged any lega-
tine authority whatsoever, — and to do them justice, as we
have seen in a previous t's chapter, they did take frequent
opportunities of resisting it, — yet surely K. Henry VIIL was
the last person who should have been hard upon them for
such a fault. Besides, the clergy of the province of Canter-
bury had resisted, to the best of their ability, the endeavour of
Wolsey, flourishing with his pall, to withdraw them from their




own proper provincial synod at S. PauFs'', and to unite them
with his clergy of York at Westminster in 1523 : and had it
not been for the king's assistance the cardinal never would have
treated the southern convocation^ and Archbishop William
Warham with that rugged J impertinence and cool assumption
of superiority which the synod and the metropolitan of Canter-
bury had to endure at his hands. So long as the cardinal was
in favour with the king, no strain of authority over the
English clergy was considered too high for him to exercise ;
but as soon as he fell under K. Henry's displeasure, that very
yoke which had been, with the king's full consent and approval,
so roughly imposed upon them, was referred to as a badge of
their disobedience. When the indictment was brought against
them into the King's Bench, it is said that ^ " it was in vain to
plead the king had not only connived at the cardinal's pro-
ceedings, but made him all that while his chief minister ; that
therefore they were excusable in submitting to an authority so
much encouraged by the king ; especially since, if they had
done otherwise, they must have been unavoidably ruined. For
to all this it was answered, that the laws were still in force,
that they ought to take notice of the constitution at their
peril, and that their ignorance could not excuse them. How-
ever, though by the courfs proceeding to a sentence they
were all out of the king's protection, and liable to the for-
feitures in the statutes, his highness, notwithstanding, was
willing, upon a reasonable composition and full submission, to
pardon them."

This reasonable composition, upon which so graceful an act
of favour was to be extended, amounted in the province of
Canterbury' to 100,044?. 8s. 8d., and in that of York"^ to
18,840?. Os. 106?." ; sums of enormous amount when the value
of money at that time is considered, having been then worth
probably more than twenty times as much as they would be
now. In what the full submission consisted, and how it was
extorted by degrees, we shall see as we proceed. For K.
Henry, perceiving that the English Church was ready to throw
off the papal dominion, and that the clergy were involved in
a snare, thought this a happy juncture, not only for furnishing
his exchequer, but for securing to himself some portion at
least of that authority which was about to be denied to the

A.D. 1530.
K. Heniy

'' Cone.
Mag. Bvit.
iii. 698—
' Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 700.
J See Wol-
sey's letter,
Cone. Mag.
Brit. iii.

iv. 174,
q notes Ant.
Brit. Ec. p.

' Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 7-25.
"' Coll. iv.

" Cone.
Mag. Brit.
iii. 744.




A.D. 1531

N. S.

See of York

o Att.
Rights, p.

P Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 725. 742.

1 Coll. iv.

f Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 725.

Mag. Brit,
iii. 725.
« Att.
Rights, p.

The king en-
deavours to extort
from tliem the
title of " supreme

Roman See. And .so, having entangled not only the clergy
of England in a prsemnnire, but a good part of the laity too",
he resolved to improve his opportunity, and push his advan-

Now the English clergy were prepared to
reject the papal jurisdiction. J^ut to confer
the title of " supreme head " of the Church upon
K. Henry, a distinction much coveted by his
majesty, was, to speak softly, an exceptionable proceeding to
which they were unwilling to lend themselves, notwithstanding
the impending praemunire. Menacing, however, with tliis
frightful weapon, the king came down upon the southern synod,
bidding them deliver up a subsidy of the extraordinary amount
before mentioned. This subsidy passed both houses in the
Convocation of Canterbury p, on the 24th of January, 1531
N.s. But into the document which named the amount granted
there was introduced an expression of a new and startling
character. It ran thus : — " *of the English Church and clergy,
of which the king alone is protector and supreme head^."

The clcrg)- re- Cranmer and Cromwell were suspected of
"®*- having suggested this form to the king. But

with whomsoever the fancy originated it surprised the clergy
above measure. They had voted their money on the 24th of
January, but when they found the form in which the subsidy
was to be presented, they were at a stand, being doubtful as
to the extent of meaning to be attached to this dark phrase,
and apprehensive lest dangerous consequences might ensued
The matter first came into discussion on the 7th of February,
the debate was again renewed on the 8th, and through three
sessions, viz., on the 8th, 9th, and lOth of February, endea-
vours were made^ to induce the king to modify the offensive
clause. The lower house specified their reason for resistance.
It was ' "lest perchance, after a long lapse of time, the terms
so generally included in the article might be strained to an
obnoxious sense'"" — a reason which subsequent history has

■• " Ecclesiae et cleri Anglicani cujus protector et supremum caput is solus est."
— Cone. Mag. Brit. iii. 725.

* " Ne forte post longsevi tcniporis tractum, termini in eodem articulo gene-
raliter positi in sensum improbum trahcrentur." — Att., Rights, p. 82, quotes e,\
actis MSS.




proved, was dictated by the exercise of a wise and prudent
forethought ".

The king some- The king, finding them firm in their resolve,
what recedes. relaxed somewhat, and sent down by the hands
of Lord Rochfort the article couched in less offensive terms,
stating that — " the king alone is protector and supreme
head, after god, of the Enghsh Church and clergy ^" But
yet this would not pass. They determined to run all hazards
rather than submit to a term which might in after times be
construed to the disadvantage of the spiritual authority of the
Church, and on which might be laid the foundations of such
managements as would transfer the divine jurisdiction con-
nected with the commission of the Galilsean mount into the
hands of the secular magistrate.

The title grant- Their fortitude on this occasion proved most
ed with a salvo, serviceable. They had fought a battle at uneven
odds, on difficult ground, and under adverse circumstances,
but they maintained their position, and justly earned the
gratitude of the Church in later times. Their resolution was
not unrewarded, for on the 11th of February Archbishop
Warham brought down to them a more inoffensive^ form,
which he informed them the king was willing to accept. The
terms of it ran thus : — " of the English Church and clergy, of
which we recognize his majesty as the singular protector, the
only and supreme governor, and, so far as the law of
Christ permits, even the supreme head^" With this saving
clause, which most assuredly guarded against any spiritual au-
thority being assigned to the temporal magistrate beyond that
which the Lord Himself, the true Head of the Church, had
authorized, the article passed. Indeed, the convocation ap-
peared to think, whatever opinions they may have formed on
the treatment they had received, that there was here no just
cause for open remonstrance, for when Archbishop Warham
proposed the question, "most of the members said nothing'^."
He then remarked, "whoever* is silent gives consent," upon

* " Cujus protector et supremum caput post Deum is solus est." — Cone. Mag.
Brit. iii. 725.

' " Ecclesise et cleri Anglicani, cujus singularem protectorem, unicum et supre-
mum dominum, et, quantum per Christi legem licet, etiam supremum caput, ipsius
majestatem recognoscimus." — Cone. Mag. Brit. iii. 725.

* " Qui tacet consentire videtur."

A. D. 1531

N. S.

K. Henry

""c^. i.
178, & Att.
Rights, p.

" Cone.
:Ma2. Brit,
iii. ?25.
Coll. iv.
179. Att.
Rights, 83.

" Coll. iv.




A.D. 1531

See of York

X Att.
Rights, p.

y Att.

Rights, pp.
83, 84.

» Coll. iv.

=> Toll. iv.

b Att.
Rights, p.

c Coll. iv.

•' Cone.
Ma^. Biit.
iii. 744-5.
e Ibid.

which a reply was immediately made, " then we all are silent'."
Thus the matter passed in the morning session^. But the
king, having receded so far from his original demand, was re-
solved to have a more explicit consent than such as was
signified by silence only ; and the debate being resumed in the
afternoon y, the clause in the schedule of the subsidy, as last
recited, was formally agreed to by both houses. The arch-
bishop and all the bishops who were present, eight in number,
together with sixty-two abbots and priors, .subscribed to it
in the upper house. In the lower house thirty-six members
voted for it, bringing in the proxies of forty-eight more, and
this number of eighty- four, obtaining a majority, carried the
matter there. This title, therefore, — " supreme head so far
as the law of Christ permits," — as applied to Henry VIII.,
dates from the session of the Canterbury Convocation, held
February 11th, 1531 n.s.

Proceedings of '^^^^ dispute being thus smoothed over in the
York Synod in Canterbury Convocation, the money voted, and

this business. i i • i • . ■, , ^ -,•

the desn-od title granted, though divested of a
great share of its original assumption by the addition of the
saving clause, the king signed ^ a bill for the pardon of the
clergy of the southern province, which the lords passed in par-
liament, but at which the commons demurred. Their reason
was, that they were not themselves included in the release.
However, being advertised that thcy^ were not to make their
own terms for an act of grace, they gave way, and the bill was
carried. But this extended to the province^ of Canterbury only,
the northern synod, therefore, had to follow the example of their
southern brethren before the indemnity could be secured by
themselves. Still, notwithstanding the threatening storm, the
York clergy delayed to take shelter ; the title of supreme head,
even with the salvo, met with far greater "^ obstructions there,
so that, after much debate and frequent adjournments, no
resolution upon the point was arrived at in that convocation
until "^ May 4, 1531. And even though the unpalateable
clause was then j)assed, the grant of their subsidy being made ^,
" mutatis mutandis," in the same form as that of Cantez-bury,
yet Tunstal, Bishop of Durham, felt it his duty to enter his
protest against the proceedings. As this venerable prelate
" " Itaquc tacemus omnes."




A. D. 1,531.

K. Hen




f Att.




S Cone.

Ma?. B


iii. 745


Coll. iv


had a great reputation as being one ^ of the best, most mode-
rate, and learned prelates of his time, his protest, which con-
tains much weighty matter, is worthy of perusal.

Bishop Tun- " Tliis ^ clause," said the bishop, " seemed to
stall's protest. j^^^^ ^^ iuoffensive appearance at the first
view; but considering that some persons lately prosecuted
upon suspicion of heresy have interpreted these words to an ill
sense, questioned the jurisdiction of their ordinaries, and
endeavoured to shelter themselves from the censures of the
Church ; for this reason, I conceive, this recognition ought
to be couched in terras more precise and distinguishing. For
if the words hold forth no more than this meaning, that the
king is, under Christ, supreme head in his dominions, and par-
ticularly of the English clergy in temporal matters, this, as it
is nothing more than we are all willing to acknowledge, so to
prevent all misconstructions from heretics the clause should
be put in clear and decisive language. But, on the other side,
if we are to understand that the king is supreme head of the
Church, both in spirituals and temporals, and that this supre-
macy is conferred on him by the laws of the Gospel — for thus
some heterodox and malevolent persons construe the proviso
"as far as the law of Christ permits" — then this construction
being repugnant, as I conceive, to the doctrine of the Catholic
Church, I must dissent from it. And notwithstanding the
clause, as far as the laio of Christ permits^ maybe taken by
way of limitation and restriction, yet, because the proposition
is still somewhat involved, I think it ought farther to be dis-
charged from ambiguity. For supreme head of the Church
carries a complicated and mysterious meaning ; for this title
may either relate to spirituals, or temporals, or both. Now
when a proposition is thus comprehensive and big with
several meanings, there is no returning a single and catego-
rical answer. And, therefore, that we may not give scandal
to weak brethren, I conceive this acknowledgment of the
king's supreme headship should be so carefully expressed as
to point wholly upon civil and secular jurisdiction. And
with this explanation the English clergy, and particularly
myself, are willing to go the utmost length in the recogni-
tion. But since the clause is not at present thus guarded
and explained, I must declare my dissent, and desire my




A.D. 1531.




Sec of York


'• See Coll.
iv. pp. 18-2- 3.

Mag. Brit.

iii. 725.
J Cone.
i\Ia.'. Brit,
iii. '714-5.

k 24 Hen.
VIII. c. 12.

kk Vi,l. inf.
chap, xi.,
sec. II. § 3.

protestation may be entered upon the journal of the convo-

Thu.s the venerable prelate, Tunstall, Bishop of Durham,
delivered his scruples on the .subject ; and it was, if not to this
protest, at any rate to some paper of a like tendency that the
king indited a response of a prolix character, which in some
respects is worthy of observation ^, as shewing that even his
majesty's encroaching spirit was satisfied with a somewhat
smaller share of authority in spiritual matters, than has been
sometimes claimed as the necessary result of his policy and
management on this occasion.

These acts of Such, then, were the first formal steps, autho-
the two provincial rized by our provincial synods, which led to

synods the fore- ,,», .. c ,i i

runners of 24 the final rejection 01 the papal power in
Hcn.\iii.,c.i2. England. They consisted in the title granted
to K. Henry VIII. by our two provincial synods, and running
in these words, " We recognize his majesty as the singular
protector, the only and supreme governor, and, so far as the
lato of Christ permits, even the supreme head of the English
Church and clergy." This was agreed to, as has been said, in
the Convocation of Canterbury, on the 11th' of Feb., 1531
N.S., and in that of York on the 4th J of May, 1 531. And
though it may appear somewhat pertinacious to repeat facts
and to insist with such exact precision on the dates of the
formal acts which passed at this eventful period, yet surely it
is pardonable so to do, in order to shew that in such matters
the acts of our synods preceded, and did not follow, the acts of
the imperial legislature. The contrary is so frequently and so
boldly asserted, that it is peculiarly necessary in these days
to specify the landmarks of history and define the eras of
time, in order to settle the truth on its legitimate foundations.
This remark is here made in reference to the statute "/or the
restraint of appeals'^'''', which, as gentlemen learned in the law
are well aware, was passed in the parliament which assembled
Feb. 4, 1533 n.s., notwithstanding the very surprising an-
nouncements respecting its date which emanated from the
Court of Queen's^'' J3cnch in 1850. That act, there-
fore, restraining appeals to Home, was a successor to these
decisions of our convocations respecting the royal supremacy,
not their precursor ; and this arrangement that spiritual




matters should be first treated of in synods and then i-educed
to law in parliament was usually practised at the time we are
considering, in accordance with the ancient constitution of our
country, and in direct contradiction to those principles which
the glosses of latter days represent to have prevailed at the
time of the reformation. For we are to consider that the
papal supremacy had already been virtually renounced by the
English Church, though the decision was not formally and finally
ratified until three years afterwards, as will presently appear

Online LibraryJames Wayland JoyceEngland's sacred synods : a constitutional history of the convocations of the clergy, from the earliest records of Christianity in Britain to the date of the promulgation of the present Book of common prayer; including a list of all councils, ecclesiastical as well as civil, held in England, in whic → online text (page 36 of 83)