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not awry.” Just before the axe fell, the martyr moved his beard carefully aside. “Pity that should be cut," he murmured, “ that has not committed treason."
“With which strange words,—the strangest perhaps ever uttered at such a time,—the lips most famous through Europe for 11 eloquence and wisdom, closed for ever.” *
1 Lambeth Palace, the palace of the Archbishop of Canterbury. 2 lieutenant, the officer in charge of the Tower. 3 illustrious, famous. 4 posterity, descendants, those who come after. 5 Margaret Roper, More's eldest daughter, the wife of William Roper. 6 halbert, a weapon resembling an axe 'and dagger on the end of a pole. 7 ravished, carried away, made beside herself. 8 sever, to separate. 9 courtesy, good manners. 10 emotion, feeling. 11 eloquence, beautiful speaking.
THOMAS CROMWELL. The leading spirit in the government when the great changes in the Church were being made was Thomas Cromwell. Hardly anything is known of his early years. After a 1 roving life abroad, he returned to England, married the daughter of a wool merchant, grew to be a wealthy man, became a Member of Parliament, and entered the service of Wolsey. Whatever his faults may have been, he was faithful to his friends; when the great cardinal fell, and every one else deserted him, Cromwell remained constant, and won much esteem thereby.
Henry made him his secretary, and after a while he became the king's chief minister. He sent out men to inquire into the condition of the % religious houses. They reported that the monasteries, the smaller ones
especially, were in an awful state: idleness and drunkenñess were the least of the evils charged against them. “When their offences were first read in parlia
ment house, they were so great and 3 abominable, that there was nothing but ‘Down with them !'"* The monasteries may not have been as black as they were painted, but they were doomed to perish. An Act was passed putting an end to all those with an 4 annual income of less than £200, and three years later the rest were 5 suppressed.
You will have seen that in the earlier stages of the Reformation the king acted in accordance with the wishes of that large class who wished the Church in England independent of a foreign pope; the influence of that small class who wished for a change in doctrine: had hardly been felt. Henry put Roman Catholics and Protestants to death with perfect 6 impartiality; at one time was seen the strange 7 spectacle of six people being led to death together—three for clinging to the Church of Rome, and three for denying one of the chief articles of its belief.
The king himself, who in his younger days had written a book against Luther, was strongly opposed to any great change in the 8 creed. Certain alterations were made during the year wherein the lesser monasteries were suppressed, and an English translation of the Bible was issued; but three years later Henry caused an Act to be passed, threatening death to those who dared go further in the direction of Protestantism than he thought desirable.
The king was at this time a widower. In order to bring about the union with Anne Boleyn he made a stir which was felt from one end of Europe to the other ; yet in three years he grew tired of her, and had her executed on a charge of being unfaithful to him. The very day after the execution he married one of her maids of honour, Jane Seymour. In less than eighteen months the new queen died, and a question arose about her successor. Those who were in favour of the old religion wished Henry to take unto himself a Roman
CHAPEL ON TOWER HILL—BURIAL PLACE OF ANNE BOLEYN.
Catholic wife, while those in favour of the new wanted him to take a Protestant. Cromwell, who was the leader of the party of change, arranged a marriage with a German princess, Ann of : Cleves. When she arrived in England, the king, greatly disappointed with her looks and manners, refused to live with her.
He visited his dissatisfaction upon Cromwell, and the minister, whose greatest crime was that he had served Henry too well, was accused of treason, and, without even being heard in his own defence, hurried to execution. He was a far-reaching statesman, clear of insight and strong of purpose. He went straight towards the end in view, fearless of the danger which he incurred, regardless of the suffering which he inflicted.
1 Roving, wandering. 2 religious houses, monasteries. 3 abominable, hateful. 4 annual, yearly. 5 suppress, to destroy. 6 impartiality, dealing alike with all parties. 7 spectacle, sight. 8 creed, that which is believed. 9 Cleves, between the Rhine and Meuse, in the west of Germany.
VIOLENT CHANGES. 1 EDWARD VI., when he succeeded to the throne, was only nine years old. He was a bright and clever lad, diligent in his studies, gentle in his manners, and likely to grow into a good, able, and wise man. According to the will of Henry VIII., the government was to be carried on by a council of sixteen. Some members of this council were in favour of the old religion, some in favour of the new; at its head was the ? Earl of Hertford, Edward's uncle. He was made or got himself made Duke of Somerset, sole governor of the king and protector of the kingdom, and for nearly three years ruled almost as he pleased.
He was a well-meaning, weak man; he sincerely wished to advance the cause of Protestantism, but the means by which he strove to do it were so unwise that