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did not perceive the reformed religion to be in much danger, —
which Lord Pembroke backed by flourishing his sword as an-
other kind of persuasion. The lord mayor and aldermen thus
enlightened, said there could be no doubt that the Princess


Mary ought to be queen. So she was proclaimed at the Cross
by St. Paul's ; and barrels of wine were given to the people,
and they got very drunk, and danced ro.ind blazing bonfires,
little thinking, poor wretches, what other bonfires would soon
be blazing in Queen Mary's name.

" After a ten-days' dream of royalty. Lady Jane Grey re-
signed the crown with great willingness, saying that she had only
accepted it in obedience to her father and mother, and went
gladly back 1o her pleasant house by the river, and her books.
Mary then came on towards London ; and at Wanstead, In
Essex was joined by her half-sister, the Princess Elizabeth.
They passed through the streets of London to the Tower ; and
there the new queen met some eminent prisoners then confined
in it, kissed them, and gave them their liberty. Among these
was that Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester, who had been im-
prisoned in the last reign for holding to the unreformed religion.
Him she soon made chancellor.

The Dake of Northumberland had been taken prisoner,
and together with his son and five others, was quickly brought
before the council. He, not unnaturally, asked that council,
in his defence, whether it was treason to obey orders that had
been issued under the great seal ; and, if it were, whether they,
who had obeyed them too, ought to be his judges ? But they
made light of these points ; and, being resolved to have him
out of the way, soon sentenced him to death. He had risen
into power upon the death of another man, and made but a
poor show (as might be expected) when he himself lay low.
He entreated Gardiner to let him live, if it were only in a mouse's
hole ; and when he ascended the scaffold to be beheaded on
Tower Hill, addressed the people in a miserable way, saying
that he had been incited by others, and exhorting them to re-
turn to the unreformed religion, which he told them was his
faith. There seems reason to support that he expected a par-
don even then, in return for this confession ; but it matters
little whether he did or not. His head was struck off.

Mary was now crowned queen. She was thirty-seven years
of age, short and thin, wrinkled in the face, and very un-
healthy. But she had a great liking for show and for bright
colors, and all the ladies of the court were magnificently
dressed. She had a great liking, too, for old customs, without
much sense in them ; and she was oiled in the oldest v/ay,
and blessed in the oldest way, and done all manner of things
too in the oldest way, at her coronation. I hope they did her


She soon began to show her desire to put down the reformed
religion, and put up the unreformed one ; tlioughit was dan-
gerous work as yet, the people being something wiser than they
used to be. They even cast a shower of stones — and among
them a dagger — at one of the royal chaplains who attacked
the reformed religion in a public sermon But the queen and
her priests went steadily on. Ridley, the powerful bishop of
the last reign, was seized and sent to the Tower. Latimer, also
celebrated among the clergy of the last reign, was likewise
sent to the Tower, and Cranmer speedily followed. Latimer
was an aged man; and as his guards took him through Smith-
field, he looked round it, and said, " This is a place that hath
long groaned for me." For he knew well what kind of bonfires
would soon be burning. Nor was the knowledge confined to
him. The prisons were fast filled with the chief Protestants,
who were there left rotting in darkness, hunger, dirt, and sep-
aration from their friends ; many, who had time left them for
escape, fled from the kingdom, and the dullest of the people
began now to see what was coming.

It came on fast. A parliament was got together ; not with-
out strong suspicion of unfairness ; and they annulled the di-
vorce, formerly pronounced by Cranmer between the queen's
mother and King Henry the Eighth, and unmade all the laws
on the subject of religion that had been made in the last King
Edward's reign. They began their proceedings, in violation of
the law, by having the' old mass said before them in Latin, and
by turning out a bishop who would not kneel down. They also
declared guilty of treason Lady Jane Grey, for aspiring to the
crown ; her husband, for being her husband ; and Cranmer,
for not believing in the mass aforesaid. They then prayed the
queen graciously to choose a husband for herself, as soon as
might be.

Now the question who should be the queen's husband had
given rise to a great deal of discussion, and to several contend-
ing parties. Some said Cardinal Pole was the man ; but the
queen was of opinion that he was not the man, he being
too old and too much of a student. Others said that the
gallant young Courtenay, whom the queen had made Earl of
Devonshire, was the man, — and the queen thought so too
for a while, but she changed her mind. At last it appeared
that Philip, Prince of Spain, was certainly the man, — though
certainly not the people's man ; for they detested the idea of
such a marriage from the beginning to the end, and murmured
that the Spaniard would establish in England, by the aid of


foreign soldiers, the worst abuses of the popish religion, and
even the terrible Inquisition itself.

These discontents gave rise to a conspiracy for marrying
young Courtenay to the Princess Elizabeth, and setting them
up with popular tumults all over the kingdom, against the
queen. This wab discovered in time by Gardiner ; but in Kent,
the old bold county, the people rose in their old bold way. Sir
Thomas Wyat, a man of great daring, was their leader. He
raised his standard at Maidstone, marched on to Rochester,
established himself in the old castle there, and prepared to
hold out against the Duke of Norfolk, who came against him
with a party of the queen's guards and a body of five hundred
London rr^n. The London men, however, were all for Eliza-
beth, and not at all for Mary. They declared, under the castle
walls, for Wyat ; the Duke retreated ; and Wyat came on to
Deptford, at the head of fifteen thousand men.

But these, in their turn, fell away. When he came to South-
wark, there were only two thousand left. Not dismayed by
finding the London citizens in arms, and the guns at the
Tower ready to oppose his crossing the river there, Wyat led
them off to Kingston-upon-Thames, intending to cross the
bridge that he knew to be in that place, and so to work his way
round to Ludgate, one of the old gates of the city. He found
the bridge broken down, but mended it, came across, and bravely
fought his way, up Fleet Street to Ludgate Hill. Finding the
gate closed against him, he fought his way back again, sword
in hand, to Temple Bar. Here being overpowered, he sur-
rendered himself, and three or four hundred of his men were
taken, besides a hundred killed. Wyat, in a moment of weak-
ness (and perhaps of torture) was afterwards made to accuse
the Princess Elizabeth as his accomplice to some very small
extent. But his manhood soon returned to him, and he re-
fused to save his life by making any more false confessions.
He was quartered and distributed in the usual brutal way, and
from fifty to a hundred of his followers were hanged. The rest
were led out, with halters round their necks, to be pardoned,
and to make a parade of crying out, " God save Queen Mary ! "

In the danger of this rebellion, the queen showed herself
to be a woman of courage and spirit. She disdained to retreat
to any place of safety, and went down to the Guildhall, sceptre
in hand, and made a gallant speech to the Lord Mayor and
citizens. But on the day after Wyat's defeat she did the most
cruel act, even of her cruel reign, in signing the death-warrant
for the execution of Lady Jane Grey.



They tried to persuade Lady Jane to accept the unreformed
religion ; but she steadily refused. On the morning when she
was to die, she saw from her window the bleeding and headless
body of her husband brought back in a cart from the scaffold
on Tower Hill, where he had laid down his life. But, as she
had declined to see him before his execution, lest she should
be overpowered and not make a good end, so she even now
showed a constancy and calmness that will never be forgotten.
She came up to the scaffold with a firm step and a quiet face,
and addressed the bystanders in a steady voice. They were
not numerous ; for she was too young, too innocent and fair, to
be murdered before the people on Tower Hill, as her husband
had just been ; so the place of her execution was within the
Tower itself. She said that she had done an unlawful act in
taking what was Queen Mary's right ; but that she had done so
with no bad intent, and that she died a humble Christian. She
begged the executioner to despatch her quickly, and she asked
him, " Will you take my head off before I lay me down ? " He
answered, " No, madam," and then she was very quiet while
they bandaged her eyes. Being blinded, and unable to see the
block on which she w^as to lay her young head, she was seen to
feel about for it with her hands, and was heard to say, confused
" O, what shall I do t Where is it ? " Then they guided her
to the right place, and the executioner struck off her head.
You know too well, now, what dreadful deeds the executioner
did in England, through many, many years, and how his axe
descended on the hateful block through the necks of some of
the bravest, wisest, ai^ best in the land. But it never struck
so cruel and so vile a blow as this.

The father of Lady Jane soon followed, but was little pitied.
Queen Mary's next object was to lay hold of Elizabeth, and
this was pursued with great eagerness. Five hundred men
were sent to her retired house at Ashrid2:e, by Berkhampstead,
with orders to bring her up, alive or dead. They got there at
ten at night, when she was sick in bed. But their leaders
followed her lady into her bedchamber, whence she was brought
out betimes next mornning, and put into a litter to be conveyed
to London. She was so weak and ill that she was five days on
the road ; still she was so resolved to be seen by the people
that she had the curtains of the litter opened ; and so very pale
and sickly, passed through the streets. She wrote to her sister,
saying she was innocent of any crime, and asking why she was
made a prisoner ; but she got no answer, and was ordered to
the Tower. They took her in by the Traitor's Gate, to which


ihe objected, but in vain. One of the lords who conveyed
her offered to cover her with his cloak, as it was raining; but
she put it away from her proudly and scornfully, and passed
into the Tower, and sat down in a courtyard on a stone. They
besought her to come in out of the wet; but she answered
that it was better sitting there than in a worse place. At
length she went to her apartment, where she was kept a
prisoner, though not so close a prisoner as at Woodstock,
whither she was afterward removed, and where she is said
to have one day envied a milkmaid whom she heard singing
in the sunshine as she went through the green fields. Gard-
iner, than whom there w^ere not many worse men among the
fierce and sullen priests, cared little to keep secret his stern
d'^sire for her death; being used to say that it was of little
service to shake off the leaves, and lop the branches of the
tree of heresy, if its root, the hope of heretics, were left. He
failed however, in his benevolent design. Elizabeth was at
length released; and Hatfield House was assigned to her as
a residence, under the care of one Sir Thomas Pope.

It would seem that Philip, the Prince of Spain, was a main
cause of tk's change in EHzabeth's fortunes. He was not an
amiable man being, on the contrary, proud, overbearing, and
gloomy ; but he and the Spanish lords who came over with
him assuredly did discountenance the idea of doing any violence
to the princess. P may have been mere prudence, but we will
hope it was manhood and honor. The queen had been ex-
pecting her husband vith great impatience ; and at length he
came, to her great joy, *"hough he never cared much for her.
They were married by Ga.^diner, at Winchester, and there was
more holiday-making among "^he peo.ple, but they had their old
distrust of the Spanish marriage, m which even the Parliament
shared. Though the members o^ that parliament were far from
honest, and w^ere strongly suspected to have been brought with
Spanish money, they would pass no bill to enable the queen to
set aside the Princess Elizabeth, and appoint her own suc-

Although Gardiner failed in this object as well as in the
darker one of bringing the princess to the scaffold, he w^ent
on at a great pace in the revival of the unreto''med religion.
A new parliament was packed, in which there we^^e no Prot-
estants. Preparations were made to receive Cardinal Pole in
England as the pope's messenger, bringing his holy declaration
that all the nobility who had acquired Church property should
keep it ; which was done to enlist their selfish interest on the



pope's side. Then a great scene was enacted, which was the
triumph of the queen's plans. Cardinal Pole arrived in great
splendor and dignity, and was received with great pomp. The
Parliament jomed in a petition expressive of their sorrow at
the change in the national religion, and praying him to receive
the country again into the Popish Church. With the queer
sitting on her throne, and the king on one side of her, and the
cardinal on the other, and the parliament present, Gardiner
read the petition aloud. The cardinal then made a great
speech, and was so obliging as to say that all was forgotten and
forgiven, and that the kingdom was solemnly made Roman
Catholic again.

Everything was now ready for the lighting of the terrible bon-
fires. The queen having declared to the council, in writing, that
she would wish none of her subjects to be burnt without some
of the council being present, and that she would particularly
wish there to be good sermons at all burnings, the council knew
pretty well what was to be done next. So after the cardinal
had blessed all the bishops as a preface to the burnings, the
Chancellor Gardiner opened a high court at St. Mary Overy,
on the Southwark side of London Bridge, for the trial of
heretics. Here two of the late Protestant clergymen. Hooper,
Bishop of Gloucester, and Rogers, a prebendary of St. Paul's
were brought to be tried. Hooper was tried first for being
married, though a priest, and for not believing in the mass.
He admitted both of these accusations, and said that the mass
was a wicked imposition. Then they tried Rogers, who said
the same. Next morning the two were brought up to be sen-
tenced ; and then Rogers said that his poor wife, being a
German woman and a stranger in the land, he hoped might be
allowed to come to speak to him before he died. To this the
inhuman Gardiner replied, that she was not his wife. "Yea,
but she is, my lord," said Rogers ; "she hath been my wife
these eighteen years." His request was still refused, and they
were both sent to Newgate ; all those who stood in the streets
to sell things being ordered to put out their lights that the
people might not see them. But the people stood at their doors
with candles in their hands, and prayed for them as they went
by. Soon afterwards Rogers was taken out of jail to be burnt
in Smithfield ; and, in the crowd as he went along, he saw his
poor wife and his ten children, of whom the youngest was a
little baby. And so he was burnt to death.

The next day Hooper, who was to be burnt at Gloucester,
was brought out to taka his last journey, and was made to wear



a hood over his face that he might not be known by the people.
But they did know him for all that, down in his own part of the
country ; and when he came near Gloucester, they lined the
road, making prayers and lamentations. His guards took him
to a lodging, where he slept soundly all night. At nine o'clock
next morning, he was brought forth leaning on a staff : for he
had taken cold in prison, and was infirm. The iron stake, and
the iron chain which was to bind him to it, were fixed up near
a great elm-tree, in a pleasant open place before the cathedral,
where, on peaceful Sundays, he had been accustomed to preach
and to pray when he was Bishop of Gloucester. This tree,
which had no leaves then, it being February, was filled with
people; and the priests of Gloucester College were looking
complacently on from a window ; and there was a great con-
course of spectators in every spot from which a glimpse of the
dreadful sight could be beheld. When the old man kneeled
down on the small platform at the foot of the stake, and prayed
aloud, the nearest people M^ere observed to be so attentive to
his prayers that they were ordered to stand farther back ; for it
did not suit the Romish Church to have those Protestant words
heard. His prayers concluded, he went up to the stake, and
was stripped to his shirt, and chained ready for the fire. One
of his guards had such compassion on him, that to shorten his
agonies, he tied some packets of gunpowder about him. Then
they heaped up wood and straw and reeds, and set them all
alight. But unhappily the wood was green and damp, and
there was a wind blowing that blew what flame there was away.
Thus, through three quarters of an hour, the good old man was
scorched and roasted and smoked, as the fire rose and sank ;
and all that time they saw him, as he burned, moving his lips
in prayer, and beating his breast with one hand, even after the
other was burnt away and had fallen off.

Cranmer, Ridley, and Latimer were taken to Oxford to dis-
pute with a commission of priests and doctors about the mass.
They were shamefully treated ; and it is recorded that the Ox-
ford scholars hissed and howled and groaned, and misconducted
themselves in anything but a scholarly way. The prisoners
were taken back to jail, and afterwards tried in St. Mr.ry's
Church. They were all found guilt3\ On the sixteenth of the
month of October, Ridley and Latimer were brought out to
make another of the dreadful bonfires.

The scene of the suffering of these two good Protestant
men was in the city ditch, near Baliol College. On coming to
the dreadful spot, they kissed the stake, and then embraced



each other. And then a learned doctor got up into a pulpit
which was placed there, and preached a sermon from the text,
" Though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it
profiteth me nothing." When you think of the charity of burn-
ing men alive, you may imagine that this learned doctor had
a rather brazen face. Ridley would have answered his sermon
when it came to an end, but was not allowed. When Latimer
was stripped, it appeared that he had dressed himself, under
his other clothes, in a new shroud ; and, as he stood in it before
all the people, it was noted of him, and long remembered, that
whereas he had been stooping and feeble but a few minutes
before, he now stood upright and handsome, in the knowledge
that he was dyin ; for a just and a great cause. Ridley's
brother-in-law was there with bags of gunpowder ; and when
they were both chained up, he tied them round their bodies.
Then a light was thrown upon the pile to fire it. " Be of good
comfort, Master Ridley," said Latimer in that awful moment,
" and play the man ! We shall this day light such a candle, by
God's grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out."
And then he was seen to make motions with his hands as if he
were washing them in the flames, and to stroke his aged face
with them, and was heard to cry, " Father of Heaven ! receive
my soul." He died quickly ; but the fire, after having burned
the legs of Ridley, sunk. There he lingered, chained to the
iron post, and crying, " O, I cannot burn ! O, for Christ's
sake, let the fire come unto me ! " And still, when his brother-
in-law had heaped on more wood, he was heard through the
blinding smoke still dismally crying, " O, I cannot burn, I can-
not burn ! " At last the gunpowder caught fire, and ended his

Five days after this fearful scene, Gardiner went to his tre-
mendous account before God, for the cruelties he had so much
assisted in committing.

Cranmer remained still alive and in prison. He was brought
out again in February, for more examining and trying, by Bon-
ner, Bishop of London, — another man of blood, who had suc-
ceeded to Gardiner's work, even in his lifetime, when Gardiner
was tired of it. Cranmer was now degraded as a priest, and
left for death ; but, if the queen hated any one on earth, she
hated him , and it was resolved that he should be ruined and
disgraced to the utmost. There is no doubt that the queen
and her h|Lisband personally urged on these deeds, because they
wrote to the council, urging them to be active in the kindling of
the fearful fires. As Cranmer was known not to be a firm man,



a plan was laid for surrounding him with artful people, and in-
ducing him to recant to the unreformed religion. Deans and
friars visited him, played at bowls with him, showed him various
attentions, talked persuasively with him, gave him money for
his prison comforts, and induced him to sign, I fear, as many
as six recantations. But when, after all, he was taken out to be
burnt, he was nobly true to his better self, and made a glori-
ous end.

After prayers and a sermon. Dr. Cole, the preacher of the
day (who had been one of the artful priests about Cranmer in
prison), required him to make a public confession of his faith
before the people. This Cole did, expecting that he would de-
clare himself a Roman Catholic. " I z£^///make a profession of
my faith," said Cranmer, " and with a good will too."

Then he arose before them all, and took from the sleeve of
his robe a written prayer, and read it aloud. That done, he
knelt and said the Lord's Prayer, all the people joining ; and
then he arose again, and told them that he believed in the
Bible ; and that in what he had lately written, he had written
what was not the truth ; and that, because his right hand had
signed those papers, he would burn his right hand first when he
came to the fire. As for the pope, he did refuse him and de-
nounce him, as the enemy of Heaven. Hereupon the pious
Dr. Cole cried out to the guards to stop that heretic's mouth,
and take him away.

So they took him away, and chained him to the stake,
where he hastily took off his own clothes to make ready for the
flames. And he stood before the people with a bald head and
a white and flowing beard. He was so firm now when the
worst was come, that he again declared against his recantation
and was so impressive and so undismayed, that a certain lord,who
was one of the directors of the execution, called out to his men
to make haste. When the fire was lighted, Cranmer, true to
his latest word, stretched out his right hand, and crying out,
" This hand hath offended ! " held it among the flames until it
blazed and burned away. His heart was found entire among his
ashes, and he left at last a memorable name in English history.
Cardinal Pole celebrated the day by saying his first mass ; and
next day he was made Archbishop of Canterbury in Cranmer's

The queen's husband, who was now mostly abroad in his
own dominions, and generally made a coarse jest of her to his
more familiar courtiers, was at war with France, and came o\ei-
to seek the assistance of England. England was very unwUliii^


to engage in a French war for his sake ; but it happened that
the King of France, at this very time, aided a descent upon the
English coast. Hence war was declared, greatly to Philip's
satisfaction ; and the queen raised a sum of money with which
to carry it on, by every unjustifiable means in her power. It
met with no profitable return ; for the French Duke of Guise
surprised Calais, and the English sustained a complete defeat.
The losses they met with in France greatly mortified the na-
tional pride, and the queen never recovered the blow.

There v/as a bad fever raging in England at this time ; and

Online LibraryCharles DickensA child's history of England → online text (page 26 of 38)