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same way as, at the present day, the College of Physi-
cians sometimes has been consulted — simply as a profes-
sional body of experts — on the advisability of some in-
tended legislation about leprosy or cholera. Even the
ordinary forms of legislation in use in Convocation are
omitted. The vicegerent comes and asks what the
members think of the doctrine, and that is all ; and even
that is done with as little respect as may be, and with
no regard even to the appearance of permitting liberty
of discussion. The questions are asked and the answers
given between Monday and Thursday of the same week ; ^
and the deliberation, if there was any deliberation, took
place under the immediate superintendence of the lay

To this year also (Nov. 12) appertains another very
remarkable document, printed by Burnet, vol. iv. p. 410
(185), which shows how truly Chapuys spoke of the
supremacy as ' a new papacy,' viz., the commission
taken out by Bonner from the King for the exercise of
his epis(K)pal functions. It is probable that other

' Sluhbs, Appoiulix iv. p. 118.


bishops also, and it is rumoured that himself,
received similar commissions from King Henry VIII., as
it is certain that he did at the beginning of the next reign.
The following year also is full of ecclesiastical
legislation and ecclesiastical government ; but the clergy,
individually and collectively, are bound hand and foot,
and by this time they have become aware of the fact,
and their part in what goes on is either none at all, or
that of mere catspaws. In this, perhaps, they have
little to regret, for it was a year with the doings of which
they, or the honester part of them, would have been
glad, no doubt, to avoid even an enforced complicity.
At the end of seven Acts more or less concerning the
discipline and the pecuniary position of the clergy, and
of which one only — viz., the subsidy— seems tohave been
submitted to Convocation, are three of more permanent
importance — viz., 32 Hen. VIII. c. 24, giving the posses-
sions of the great order of the Hospitallers of St. John to
the Crown ; 32 Hen. Ylll. c. 25, the Act for the dissolu-
tion of the pretended marriage of the Lady Anne of Cleves ;
and 32 Hen. VIII. c. 26, an Act concerning Christ's
religion.^ Of these last two Acts, while the latter was
the consequence of the appointment hy the King of two
Commissions which were respectively to settle the moot
points in the doctrine and ceremonies of the Church — and
was meant to give their decisions, when made, the force
of law, and, so far as appears, neither sought nor received
authority from the clergy in any form — to the former,
the most scandalously unrighteous of all Henry's
divorces, was duly appended the instrument by which
Convocation had declared, in accordance with his wishes,
that the marriage was invalid. July 28 of this year
saw the dissolution of Parliament and Convocation, and,

' Stuhhs, Appendix iv. p. 124.


at the same time, the execution of Cromwell and the
marriage of his hardened master to Katherine Howard.

In the year which followed there w^as held neither
Parliament nor Convocation.^ Cromwell, indeed, was
gone, but his policy was not altogether gone with him.
The Duke of Norfolk was once more in power, who
would willingly have reversed it, who, with longer life,
and under the influence of the constant irritation of
Cromwell's action, liad now become thoroughly reac-
tionary, and had been known to say, 'It was merry in Eng-
land afore the new learning came wp ; yea, I would
all things were as hath been in times past.' That speech
represented a frame of mind almost as much out of
harmony with the middle of the sixteenth century as
it would be with the end of the nineteenth ; and so
unable was the Duke to resist the current of the times
that we find in this year a proclamation issued — having,
be it remembered, the force of law — requiring that a
Bible should be placed in every church : certainly of all
measures the least likely to bring all things back to the
state in which ' times past ' had left them, albeit the
Duke himself declared, ' I never read the Scripture, nor
never will.' ^

In this year, too, some of the service books were
printed ^ omitting the name of the Pope as impugning by
its presence there ' the statute of our most Christian King.'

In January of 1542 both assemblies resumed their
activity. Parliament, besides the dismal work of passing
bills of attainder against the Queen and Lady Eocheford,
was employed with a number of enactments on
ecclesiastical matters such as the rearrano-ement of
bishops' sees and the civil status of the unfrocked monks,

' Sf.uhhs, Appendix iv. p. 12G. - Green, Hist. vol. ii. p. 204.

^ Stubbs, Appendix iv. p. 127.


&c. — matters which would scarcely have come before
Parliament at all in previous reigns, and could not
assuredly have been settled by it without the interven-
tion of Convocation, and probably also of the Court of
Eome ; but which seem small and insignificant when
compared with the doings of the previous Parliaments
of Henry VIIL Meanwhile Convocation, which does
not seem to have been consulted on these Acts, was busy
upon other and not unimportant matters. The Houses
were informed,^ at the commencement of the session,
that it was the ' King's intention that they should delibe-
rate on the bad state of religion, and on the remedies ;
and should correct and reform where it was necessary.'
They accordingly discussed the revision of the trans-
lation of the Bible, the abolition of the lights burned
before images, the erasure of the names of the Pope
and Thomas h Becket from the service books, decreed
the uniform employment of ' the use of Sarum ' through-
out the province of Canterbury, and introduced pro-
positions concerning the reform of various practical dis-
orders among clergy and laity, upon which it was
determined to ' consult the King.'

One remarkable occurrence took place which, when
taken in connection with other events before and after,
illustrates in a curious manner the relations subsisting
at the time between Parliament and Convocation.

A bill was introduced into Parliament to enable
bishops-chancellors to marry, and yet to retain their
offices, with the powers thereto belonging for pronoun-
cing suspensions, excommunications, and other ecclesias-
tical censures," ' as priests do ' ; also that they who held
these offices should have sufficient fees of the ordinaries
to find them and their families. To this bill the bishops

1 Stuhhs, Appendix iv. p. 12G, ^ Ih. p. 128.


objected, ' for the great slander which might thereupon
ensue,' and it was withdrawn in consequence.

Much stress has been laid by certain writers upon
this transaction as showing the greatness of the power
which Convocation still retained, when it thought fit to
use it. When it is considered how small a matter this
was in comparison with the innumerable larger ones
mentioned in the course of this chapter, and which were
passed, either without the concurrence of the clergy, or in
the teeth of their opposition, it will be seen at once how
weak a case those writers must have when they make so
great a matter out of it. Such as it is it avails them
nothing, since another bill with the same object was
passed only three years later— to all appearance un-
impeded by Convocation. The probable explanation
is simply that the King, who had just insisted in the
Six Articles on the continued celibacy of the clergy,
had not quite made up his mind as to whether these
chancellors, amphibious beings as they were, half clergy
and half lawyers, were or were not to be included in the
ranks of the former, as hitherto they always had been ;
and thus it was not yet determinedly ' the King's
will,' which was at this time the measure of the action
of Convocation even more certainly than of that of

The year 1543 was distinguished by the publication
of the famous ' King's book, a necessary doctrine and
erudition for any Christian man.'^

There was a long and busy session of both Parlia
ment and Convocation. The Acts passed by the former,
however, having reference to our subject are but few.
The most important of them was the 34 and 35 Hen.
YTTI. c. 1, called ' an Act for the advancement of true

' Stichbs, Appendix iv. p. 135,


religion, and for the abolishment of the contrary,' or, as
it is named in the Lords' Journals, ' the bill for abolishing
erroneous books.' Convocation, in response to an an-
nouncement from the Archbishop thf^t it was the King's
will that ' the service books should be reformed, by
omitting all mention of the Pope and legendary and
superstitious matter, and the abolition of the com-
memoration of saints not meutioned in Scripture or by
authentical doctors,' appointed a committee for that
purpose, consisting of the Bishops of Sarum and Ely,
together with six members of the Lower House. ^.

It also ordered that every Sunday and holiday a
chapter of the Bible should be read in English by the
curate in every church, without exposition ; and it sent
up several petitions to the King, among them one for the
ecclesiastical laws of the realm to be made according to
the statute.

It likewise compiled expositions of the Sapraments,
the Decalogue, the Lord's Prayer, and Twelve Articles
of the Faith, and treatises on justification, works, and
prayer for the dead (which, in point of fact, constituted
the work entitled, as above, the King's book).

The principal Acts of the following year (1544) were :

35 Hen. VIH. c. 1, a succession Act.

35 Hen. VHI. c. 3, a bill for the King's style.

35 Hen. VHI. c. 5, a bill concerning (modifying)
the Six Articles,

35 Hen. VIII. c. 16, a bill for the examination of
the Canon laws by a commission of thirty-two persons.

The last being another renewal of the former legis-
lation on this subject,

Convocation appears to have been busy mainly
with questions of money, tithes, and subsidies.

^ >Sttihbs, Appendix iv. pp. 131-2.


At the end of the session, which terminated at the
end of March, both assembhes were dissolved.

Towards the end of November 1545 ^ opened the hrst
session of what was to be the last Parliament of Henry's
reign. The King had in the previous May j)ublished
his Primer in Latin and English. Several Acts were
passed more or less affecting the Church and clergy, of
which the two most important were : —

37 Hen. VHI. c. 4, which delivered up all colleges,
chantries, and hospitals to the tender mercy of the King ;

37 Hen. VHI. c. 17, an Act enabling the married
doctors of civil law to exercise ecclesiastical jurisdiction.

The record of the proceedings of Convocation in this
year is not preserved.

The above are, in fact, the last Acts of the reign.

In the following yesiv neither Parliament nor Convo-
cation met, and the session of 1547 was brought to an
abrupt termination, by the sudden death of the King
about a fortnight after its opening, and when its only
act had been to pass the bill of attainder against the
Duke of Norfolk and Lord Surrey, with his assent to
which, on the day before his death, Henry characteris-
tically concluded his reign.

' It is a fact, noted by Mr. Green {Hist. vol. ii. p. 219) as not un-
important, that in this session a bill for the abolition of heresies and
of certain books infected with false opinions, which was mtroduced in
the Lords, disappeared when it reached the Commons. In fact, the his-
tory of the bill is remarkable, for it seems to have been read no less than
five times in the Lords, and at last agreed to ' ncmine re2)iignante ' in a
House which must have been a full one for that time, no less than thirty-six
members voting ; but, after all, it never became law. Stuhhs, Aj)pendix iv.
p. 138.


KEIGN OF HENRY viii. [continued)

AiTER the enumeration of the actual legislative measures
affecting the Church contained in the last chapter, let
us now endeavour to take stock of the entire amount
of those changes, and to see how far the position of the
Church at the end of Henry's reign differed from what
it was at the time when Wolsey fell. This will be a
question of the more interest, in that we know there
are writers, on the one hand, who will tell us that
the true Eeformation in England was complete at his
death, and that the subsequent changes have been for
the most part for the worse ; and, on the other hand,
some who consider that the real Eeformation w^as in his
time hardly begun, and that what he had established
was merely popery without the pope. Here it is before
all things necessary to bear in mind the distinction
already pointed out between the separation from Eome
and the reformation of doctrine. The separation from
Eome was as complete years before the end of Henry's
reign as it ever has been since. The Act of Appeals (24
Hen. Vni. c. 12) ; the Act for the submission of the
clergy (25 Hen. VHI. c. 19) ; the Act restraining the
payment of annates (25 Hen. VIII. c. 20) ; and tliat
restraining the payment of Peter's -pence and other
exactions of the Pope (25 Hen. VIII. c. 21) — had put
a stop to all the existing relations between the Church


in England and the Papal See, and finally the great Act
of Supremacy (26 Hen. VIII. c. 1) had transferred, as
completely as language could do it, the papal authority
to the King — had made Henry, as we have seen, Pope of
England. On the other side, Paul III. had retaliated
by a bull of excommunication and deposition against
Henry and all his abettors, thus making the separa-
tion as complete as possible on both sides.

To estimate fairly the changes in doctrine and
ritual is a less easy matter. There was nothing very
revolutionary in the Articles of 1536, and still less in
those of 1539 ; and neither Henry nor j)robably Cromwell
had an}^ great sympathy with the Protestants : but the air
was full of new doctrines and new views, and such
measures as the destruction of shrines and images, and
the translation of the Scriptures, tended to encourage
the Protestant sectaries ; while the separation from
Pome, and the establishment of the King as the hio-hest
ecclesiastical authority, did the same in a still greater
degree, by the shock which it gave to the old and time-
honoured belief in the absolute unchangeableness and
stability of the Church. The system of the Eoman
Church before the Eeformation was, as it has since
remained, a solid and consistent whole, each portion of
it resting upon the same foundations, and guaranteed by
the same warrants ; and it was in the sixteenth century,
as it remains still, impossible to throw over one part of
it without exposing other parts to the same danger.

But these changes in doctrine, slight as they appear
in comparison with those made in the following reign,
and far, as we see by Hooper's letter,^ as they fell
short of satisfying the Protestants, were none the less
fatal to the catholicity of the English Church. They

' Infra, p. 94.


broke the unity of the Church, they rent the seamless
coat, they aUered, in however sUght a degree, the
doctrines of the CathoUc Church, and all this they did,
not by the authority of a General Council or a Papal
Consistory, but by the mere motion of a despotic king
and an unscrupulous minister, or, at best, of a national
synod, which moved but as its strings were j)ulled by
a lay supreme head, or a lay vicegerent, or even
a lay vicegerent's lay deputy. The changes in ritual
were probably slighter still, and with ignorant people
these are apt to be felt and resented when changes in
doctrine may pass almost unperceived. The mass of
the English people would scarcely have discovered the
difference had Henry confined his action to the
changes actually made in the doctrines and services of
the Church. That which really caused what popular
discontent existed — and there can be little doubt that
some did exist — was the abolition of pilgrimages and
holy days, the destruction of images and shrines, and
still more the demolition of the monasteries, and the
consequent cessation of their doles and alms.

The last few years of Henry's reign show us the
first experiment that was made in maintaining what was
afterwards known as the Anglican via media — the only
one, in fact, which was tried with the combined advan-
tages of unlimited power and unscrupulous use of it ;
and how it appeared in the eyes of as disinterested and
well-informed a spectator as the times could afford, we
may learn from the despatch of Marillac, tlie French Am-
bassador, to his master Francis I., cj^uotedby Mr. Froude.
He is speaking of the shnultaneous execution, on July 30,
1540, of three Protestants for heresy and three Eoman
priests for treason, and, after mentioning the indignation
excited among people of the most opposite opinions, he


adds : ^ ' It is no easy thing to keep a people in revolt
ai^ainst the Holy See and the authority of the Church,
and yet free from the infection of the new doctrines, or,
on the other hand, if they remain orthodox, to prevent
them from looking with attachment to the Papacy.
But the Council here will have neither the one nor
the other.' And again he says : ' It was a strange spec-
tacle to see the adherents of two opposite parties die
there on the same day and at the same hour ; and it
was equally disgraceful to the two divisions of the
Government who pretended to have received offence.
The scene was as painful as it was monstrous.' This
was the opinion of a statesman, impartial as between
the two, but impartially condemnatory of Henry's
policy regarded from either one side or the other.
What the Papal party thought of it we know abun-
dantly from Paul IH., from Cardinal Pole, and innu-
merable other writers ; while the Protestant view is best
explained in the well-known letter of Hooper,- after-
wards one of Edward YI.'s bishops, to Bullinger, written
apparently in 1546, in which he says : ' Our King has
destroyed the Pope, but not Popery. . . . The impious
mass, the most shameful celibacy of the clergy, the
invocation of saints, auricular confession, superstitious
abstinence from meats, and purgatory, were never before
held by the people in greater esteem than at the
present moment.' This last letter is imjDortant. It shows,
from strictly contemporary evidence, three things —
viz., first, how entirely the schism between the two
Churches of Eome and England was completed in
Henry's time ; secondly, how entirely both parties were
conscious of the fact ; and, thirdly, it shows what Pro-
testant doctrines really were, and how far the Anglican

' Froude, vol. iii. p. 534, note. ~ Zurich Letters, vol. i. p. 33.


Cliiivcli of Henry VIII. was from adopting them — and
all this it shows on the authority of a man who was
himself a pronounced Protestant, and w^ho, certainly
without becoming less a Protestant, was made a bishop
in the same Church in the following reign. It is not
easy to imagine Henry VIII. making Hooper a bishop !
If, then, w^e can find, as we have now done, a view of
any particular transaction which is shared at the time
by both friends and foes alike, and also by one standing,
as nearly as a contemporary can stand, in the position of
an indifferent spectator, we may feel pretty sure that
it represents the actual state of the facts. And in this
case we may be certain that what had actually
happened to the Church in England, in the ten
momentous years which intervened between the fall of
Wolsey and the enactment of the Six Articles, was that
while a complete division was effected between the
Churches of Eome and England, with whatsoever effect
upon the ecclesiastical position of the latter that divi-
sion may be held to involve, no essential or even very
important change had been effected in the doctrinal
position of the latter Church. And that this was held
for a century afterwards so to be, we shall have
ample opportunity of seeing as this work proceeds ; but
I will here cite one passage in proof of it, because it
comes from a learned and authoritative writer of the
seventeenth century, and coincides remarkably with
those already quoted. Archbishop Bramhall says : ^
' The many Acts wdiicli were passed in the reign of
Henry VIII. declaring the independence of the Church
of England, were passed by Roman Catholics when there
were no thoughts of any Eeformation. If it was this
separation from Rome which constituted a schism, then

^ See the passage quoted at length in Hunt, Ojt. Cit. vol. i. p. 331.


the authors of it, Heath and Bonner, Tunstall and
Gardiner, Stokesly and Thirlby, were tlie schismatics.
The separation was made to our hands. It was not
till Edward's days that the Church of England em-
braced the doctrines of the Eeformation.'

It is worth while, before concluding this short sum-
mary of the results of Henry VIII.'s ecclesiastical legis-
lation, to call attention emphatically to the authority
by which all these changes were made.

It would seem, then, that, of the various measures
which we have noted in the last chapter, the work of
the session of 1529, though it may not impossibly have
been discussed in Convocation, was actually performed
in Parliament alone. It consisted mainly in the passing
of the 21 Hen. YIII. 5, 6, and 13, regulating the fees to
be received by the clergy for probate and mortuaries,
and also their residence, pluralities, farming, trading, &c.
The next step was the King's proclamation forbidding
the introduction of bulls from Eome, with which, of
course, neither Parliament nor Convocation had any
concern. The year 1531 is mainly famous for the cele-
brated Praamunire, the consequent submission of the
clero-y in Convocation, and the passing of the two bills
in Parliament 22 Hen. VIII. c. 15 and 16, concerning
the pardon of the clergy and laity respectively.

The proceedings of the year 1532 are of a more com-
plicated character. On the one hand, we have several
Acts of Parliament, as above noted, dealing somewhat
roughly with the privileges of the clergy ; and we have
also the complaint of the Commons against them, and
the Three Articles founded upon the latter, brought to
the Convocation by Edward Eox, the King's almoner,
and, after some discussion, agreed to. We have, on the
other hand, the petition of the Convocation to the King


to take away tlie annates from the Pope, and also their
petition to him (1) 'that the Church may enjoy her
privileges,' (2) 'that the limits of Prfemiuiire may be
defined in Parliament,' (3) ' that as the clergy are much
impoverished by recent Acts annulling the liberty of the
Church and sanctiones canonicas, to the peril of the
souls of those who made the Acts, in the framing of which
they were not consulted ., &c., that the same fathers whose
business it is to declare the truth of the canons may
provide a remedy.' This last is, and can be nothing-
else than, a formal and explicit disclaimer, on the part
of the clergy, of all share in, and all responsibility for,
the ecclesiastical legislation of Henry VIII. ; so that we
know not only that they did not originate it, but that
they were not even asked to concur in it up to this
time. The Act of Appeals and that for the apparel of
the clergy (24 Hen. VIII. c. 12 and 13) in the
following year do not appear to have been submitted to
Convocation at all.

The legislation of the year 1534 ^ was, as we have
seen, that which completed the great schism which en-
tirely divided the Anglican from the Eoman Church, and
which actually provoked the papal excommunication in
the following year. The share which the clergy took in it
appears to have been the passing of an abstract resolu-
tion to the effect that ' the Pope had no greater jurisdic-
tion in the realm of England conferred on him by God
in Holy Scripture than any other foreign Bishop,' and a
concurrence in the Act for the Submission of the Clergy
- — the reduction into law of their own submission of two
years before, made by them simply and almost avowedly
with the knife at their throats in the trenchant
shape of an indictment of Praemunire. Before Convoca-

' Stahhs, Appendix iv. p. 106.

Online LibraryGilbert William ChildChurch and state under the Tudors → online text (page 8 of 42)