Imágenes de páginas

were held out, that all should be done to the pleasure of Almighty God, and for the honour of the realm ; and equitable provisions were made (had they been observed) for the reservation of rents, services, corrodies, and pensions, the continual keeping up of house and household in the same precinct, by those to whom abbey lands should be passed, and for occupying the same extent of the demesne in tillage, the latter under a monthly penalty of ten marks. By this Act 375 convents were dissolved ; in the diocese of Bangor not one was left standing. The King became possessed of about 10,0001. in plate and moveables, and a clear yearly revenue of 30,0001. Some 10,000 persons were cast upon the world ; the greater monasteries had no inclination to receive them, and it was at their choice to enter or not. The King cared not what became of them after he had given them a new gown and forty shillings; many rejoiced in their liberty, and some, it is to be hoped, deserved it and enjoyed it; but it cannot be doubted that the number of vagabonds was increased by this ejectment, and that some gray hairs must have gone down in misery to the grave. The property was soon dispersed by grant, sale, and exchange. This is said to have been Cromwell's advice; and it is a policy which has been followed in all revolutions.

Even before the Act had passed, some of the smaller houses were voluntarily surrendered to the King. The motive


have been a consciousness of crimes which stood in need of pardon ; an expectation of favour ; or, what is not less probable, the prevalence of the reformed opinions among the members; for the convents produced many advocates for the Reformation, and some of its martyrs. Queen Catharine did not live to witness these proceedings, which would have grieved her more than her own injuries. She never laid down her royal title; but maintained that her marriage was valid, and, therefore, indissoluble ; so in conscience she believed it to be, and persisted in asserting it, for her daughter's sake. It is remarkable that her affection for Henry continued to the last; she called him, in her last letter, her dear lord and husband, forgave him all the unhappiness he had brought upon her, expressed a tender anxiety for his soul, and concluded by declaring, that her eyes desired him above all things. Shame may have prevented Henry from gra

tifying this desire; of any better feeling he had now become incapable. The thorough hardness of his heart was shown soon afterwards, when he declared his marriage with Anne Boleyn void, beheaded her upon a false and monstrous charge of adultery and incest, and married Jane Seymour the next day. This change produced no alteration in religious affairs, for the new Queen was of a family which favoured the Reformation, and shared largely in the plunder distributed under that name.

The Lower House of Convocation, in which the Romish party prevailed, presented a protestation at this time, against certain errors and abuses, as worthy of special reformation. The opinions of which they complained, sixty-seven in number, were chiefly what are at this day the tenets of the Protestant Church, blended with which were what Fuller has well called, “rather expressions than opinions, and those probably worse spoken than meant, worse taken than spoken.” In the Upper House, parties were equally divided ; there were, on both sides, men of great learning, ability, and address ; and the advantage which the Protestant Bishops possessed in their cause, was balanced by popular opinion on the side of their antagonists, . . . for the evils which Sir Thomas More had foreseen, were beginning to be felt. After long consultation and debate, certain articles were at length set forth in the King's name, as Head of the Church of England; it being, the preamble stated, “among the chief cures appertaining to his princely office, diligently to provide that unity and concord in religious opinions should increase and go forward, and all occasion of dissent and discord, touching the same, be repressed and utterly extinguished.” The articles were such as could satisfy neither party ; both having struggled to introduce their own opinions, and each with considerable success, though, on the whole, to the manifest advantage of the Reformers. The Bible and the three Creeds were made the standards of faith; no mention being made of tradition, nor of the decrees of the Church. Three Sacraments,... those of Baptism, Penance, and the Altar, were said to be necessary to salvation, ... four being thus pretermitted : but the corporeal presence was declared, and the necessity of auricular confession. Images were allowed as useful, but they were not to be worshipped ; and Saints might laudably be addressed as intercessors, though it was as

serted that Christ is our only sufficient mediator. The existing rites and ceremonies were to be retained, as good and laudable; not as having power to remit sin, but as useful in stirring and lifting up our minds unto God, by whom only our sins can be forgiven. Lastly, prayers for the dead were advised as good and charitable; though the question of Purgatory was said to be uncertain by Scripture, and the abuses which, under that belief, had arisen were to be put away.

At the same time, a number of holidays were abolished, more especially such as, falling in harvest, were deemed injurious. The discontent, which these measures occasioned among those who were thoroughly attached to the faith of their forefathers, with all its corruptions, was fomented by certain of the Clergy, and by those men who are ready for any desperate undertaking. They represented, that four Sacraments were now taken away, and the remaining three would not long be left; that all God's service was in danger of being destroyed; and that, unless the King's evil counsellors, who had suppressed the religious houses, were put down, no man would be allowed to marry, or partake the Sacraments, or eat meat, without first paying money to the King; so that they would be brought under a worse bondage, and into a wickeder way of life, than the subjects of the very Turk. The Lincolnshire men rose in arms upon

this quarrel ; and their insurrection assumed so serious an aspect, that Henry mustered an army, and hastened in person against them. His approach dismayed the leaders ; and the ignorant multitude, being deserted by those who had set them on, sent their complaints to the King, in the form of a petition, protesting withal that they never intended hurt toward his royal person. He returned an answer, in which he reasoned with them, at the same time that he asserted his authority, and sternly reproved their treason. He had never read or heard, he told them, that rude and ignorant common people were meet persons to discern and choose sufficient counsellors for a Prince; how presumptuous then were they, the rude commons of one shire, and that one of the most brute and beastly of the whole realm, thus to take upon them to rule their King! The religious houses had not been suppressed by the act of evil counsellors, as they full falsely asserted; but granted to him by all the Nobles, spiritual

and temporal, of the realm, and by all the Commons in the same, by Act of Parliament. No houses had been suppressed wherein God was well served; but those in which most vice, mischief, and abomination of living were used, appearing by their own confession, subscribed with their own hands, at the time of their visitation; and more than the Act needed had been suffered to stand, for which, if they amended not, there would be more to answer for than for the dissolution of the rest. Reminding them then of his authority and their duty, he required them to deliver up an hundred of their ringleaders to his justice, rather than adventure their own utter destruction. Terrified by this demand, every man endeavoured to shift for himself, and such of the leaders as could be apprehended were put to death.

The discontents assumed a more formidable aspect in the North. An hundred thousand men collected in Yorkshire; they bore a crucifix on one side of their banner, and a chalice and wafer on the other : the men wore, as a cognizance, on their sleeves, the representation of the five wounds, with the name of our Lord ; and they called their march the Holy and Blessed Pilgrimage of Grace. Priests, bearing crosses, went before them: and everywhere they replaced the Monks and Nuns in the suppressed Monasteries. Men of family and influence were engaged in this rebellion, and some of the great Abbots were afterwards attainted for secretly supplying them with money. Pomfret Castle was yielded to them by the Archbishop of York and Lord Darcy ; both were suspected of promoting the rebellion; and both, at this time, being either really or apparently compelled, swore to the covenant of the insurgents. York and Hull were surrendered to them: Scarborough Castle was bravely defended by Sir Ralph Evers; and Skipton by the Earl of Cumberland, though many of the gentry, whom he entertained at his own cost, deserted him. Encouraged by the rising in Yorkshire, the people rose also in Lancashire, Westmoreland, and the Bishopric of Durham. The rebellion became serious : the army from Lincolnshire could not be removed, lest the people there should assemble and march upon their rear, while the Yorkshire men met them in front. The Earl of Shrewsbury made head against the insurgents with what force he could collect; not waiting for orders or authority, when his duty was so plain : for

[ocr errors]

which the King properly appointed him to the command in chief, and sent him succour with all speed, under the Earls of Derby, Huntingdon, and Rutland, the Marquis of Exeter, and lastly, the Duke of Norfolk.

The leader of the insurgents was one Robert Aske, a gentleman of mean estate, but of such talents, that no enterprise of this nature seems ever to have been conducted with greater ability in any respect. One of the leaders under him assumed the title of Earl of Poverty. Their numbers and their order were such, that the King's Generals deemed it dangerous to attack them, lest, upon the slightest advantage which might be gained over the royal army, a general rebellion should break out. Norfolk advised that conditions should be offered: he was suspected of seeking to serve the Romish cause by this means; and there is strong ground for believing this: nevertheless, his advice was good; for the chance of battle would have been greatly in favour of the insurgents, whereas they were not so capable of keeping together, for want of regular supplies, as the King's troops ; and at all events, it was better to proceed by conciliation than by force. A herald was sent to summon them to lay down their arms. Aske received him, sitting in state, with the Archbishop on one side, and Lord Darcy on the other, and having inquired what he was charged to proclaim, would not allow him to publish it. Upon this, the King summoned all the Nobles to meet him at Northampton, and the army advanced to Doncaster, to prevent the rebels from proceeding further to the south; they were now thirty thousand in number, the King's force only six thousand, ... and in point of arms and discipline, there was little difference. The latter, however, had fortified the bridges; and the insurgents could not ford the Don, which was so seasonably rendered impassable by heavy rains, that the circumstance was represented as a direct interference of Providence. Time was thus gained for negotiation ; and the knowledge that a negotiation was going on, introduced a fear among the insurgents, that their leaders would make terms for themselves, and leave them to shift as they could.

The articles which the insurgents demanded, were drawn up by the Clergy among them : they required a general pardon, the establishment of Courts of Justice at York, to the end that no

« AnteriorContinuar »