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period he rejected and denounced. The one arti- | but, before he went, he drew up an appeal from cle of the common belief which startled him, and the pope, imperfectly informed as he then was, against which he raised his voice in the first in- to the pope, after he should have been fully instance, was the doctrine of indulgences; and even structed in the merits of the cause. It was imas to this matter he continued for some years to possible, however, that, having advanced so far, cling to the notion that his dispute was merely he should stop long at this point. Protected by with certain individuals, and by no means either the Elector Frederick, he soon after, abandoning with the pope or the general body of the church. the expectation of a fair hearing from the pope, These indulgences professed to convey, to who made his appeal to a general council. It was soever purchased them, a release from the pains not long before he followed up this declaration of purgatory; and the very denial of their eff- by openly questioning even the supremacy ascacy implied a belief in the existence of purga- sumed by the pope over other bishops—in other tory. Luther not disputing the reality of purga- words, all the peculiar pretensions of the Roman tory, denied that it was competent for men, by See. This was in 1519. On the 15th of June of the mere payment of a sum of money, to obtain the following year, was issued the memorable a quittance from any part of the punishment to Papal bull, declaring forty-one propositions exwhich ey had made themselves liable by their tracted out of Luther's works to be heretical and sins. He had become convinced, from his study scandalous; forbidding all persons to read his of the Scriptures, that their fundamental doc- writings upon pain of excommunication; comtrine was, that the remission of sin could only manding those who had any of them in their be obtained by justification through faith in the possession to commit them to the flames; and sacrifice of Christ; and upon this one great prin pronouncing against their author the sentence of ciple he took his stand. When Tetzel and his excommunication, with all its terrible penalties, associates, in their eagerness to dispose of their spiritual and temporal, unless he should publicly wares, cried them up even in terms going far be- recant his errors and burn his books within the yond the professions of the document itself, Lu- space of sixty days. This at once placed the ther first exposed the delusion they were prac- followers of the German Reformer and the adhetising upon the people from the pulpit; and then rents of the ancient church in hostile array. published ninety-five theses or propositions di- Luther, now fairly cast forth from the Roman rected against the whole doctrine of indulgences, communion, kept no measures with the power which he engaged to maintain at a public dispu- which he opposed; in reply to the pope's bull of tation, on a day which he named, against any excommunication, he boldly declared that persoone who should oppose them by writing or word nage to be Antichrist, and called upon all Chrisof mouth. The disputation did not take place : tian princes to cast off his tyrannical and deon the appointed day no defender of the de- grading yoke. When his own books were burned nounced indulgences appeared; but Luther's at Rome, he retaliated by burning the volumes ninety-five propositions were read with avidity of the canon law at Wittenberg, in presence of over all Germany; and from that hour the spirit the professors and students of the university and was awakened which never again slumbered or a throng of other spectators. One of the first acts slept till it had set up and established a new of the new emperor, Charles V., was to appoint and mighty rival empire of opinion. For some a diet of the empire to meet at Worms on the time the controversy between the German monk 6th of January, 1521, expressly for the purpose and his opponents attracted no notice at the Va- of putting down the new opinions. On the sumtican; at length, however, in July, 1518, Leo mons of this assembly Luther presented himself summoned him to appear at Rome within sixty before them to defend his doctrines; the diet, days. His holiness was afterwards prevailed however, declared him to be deprived, as an exupon to appoint the hearing of the case to take communicated heretic, of all his rights as a subplace in Germany; and Luther accordingly ap-ject of the empire, and forbade any prince to peared at Augsburg before the Papal legate Cardi- harbour or protect him after the expiration of the nal Cajetano, who began with an attempt to carry term specified in the safe-conduct upon which he his point by dint of logic, but, finding that of no had come up. From the dangers to which he avail, soon had recourse to a more summary me- was exposed by this edict he was saved by the thod of procedure, and commanded Luther at once interposition of his friend the Elector Frederick, to recant his heresy simply out of deference to who caused him to be intercepted, on his way the Apostolic See. The intrepid monk refused home, and carried off to the fortress of Wartburg, compliance; but even yet he made no movement in which he remained concealed for nine months. towards throwing off the authority of the pope. But the winged words and opinions that had Apprehensive of being arrested, hy the advice of already gone forth from his lips and his pen his friends he withdrew secretly from Augsburg; were not to be recalled or chained down; their
infection spread throughout Germany and other take steps for getting rid of Catherine. For two countries with the common air that men breathed; years he plied every effort to get the court of nor, though hidden alike from his followers and Rome to go along with him in this scheme, his opponents, was Luther's animating voice threatening, that if he were not allowed to have even how unheard in the great battle he had his way in the matter of the divorce, England awakened: by the aid of the press, to which he should no longer remain a Popish country. At from time to time resorted while thus with length, in the summer of 1529, the accident of drawn from other converse with his fellow-men, Cranmer having suggested the bold expedient of he still made the fervid eloquence of his reason- having the marriage dissolved without asking ings and his denouncements ring throughout leave of the pope, at once transferred the affecChristendom.
tions and confidence of the king from Wolsey to It was at this crisis that Henry VIII. first this new adviser, causing the ruin of the one and adventured to break a lance in the contest in the elevation of the other. In the following year which he was ere long to act a part of which he he put forth a proclamation prohibiting the innow little dreamed. Throughout the earlier part troduction into, or the publication in, the kingof his reign, the King of England, as we have dom of any bull from Rome, under pain of seen, was the most zealous and devoted son of incurring his indignation, in addition to imprithe church. During three years his devotion to sonment and the other punishments awarded to the Holy See was not only secured by the ascend- the offence by the ancient statutes. The estabency of Wolsey, but was, besides, fed and in- lished clergy now found the crown, hitherto their flamed by other influences. His pedantry and steady friend and protector, changed into a hosvanity were engaged in the same cause with his tile power. From this point the course of Henry's deference for his great minister and favourite. ecclesiastical innovations went on at an accelerThe king's work was printed in a quarto volume ated rate. Anne Boleyn, notoriously disposed in at London, with the title, Assertio Septem Sacra- favour of the opinions of the innovators in relimentorum alversus Martyn Luther, &c. (Defence gion-already distinguished by the name of Proof the Seven Sacraments against Martin Luther.) testants, which was first given to them on their Henry was amazingly delighted with the title protest against the proceedings of the diet of Defender of the Faith, with which the pope re- Spires, 19th April, 1530—was now Queen of warded his learned labours—"affecting it,” says England; Cranmer, the head of the English Burnet," always beyond all his other titles, Lutherans, was Archbishop of Canterbury; he though several of the former Kings of England and Cromwell, another decided favourer of the had carried the same title, as Spelman informs new doctrines, were the king's chief ministers. us." The whole matter, according to Strype, In this, the height of the new tide that had set was contrived by Wolsey, to engage Henry the in upon the stream of affairs, all that remained more firmly against Lutheranism, and in the of the authority of Rome was soon swept away. putting down of the heretical books which were To Cromwell especially belongs the credit of now brought over from the Continent in great having been Henry's chief instrument in his next numbers, and dispersed through the kingdom. undertaking as an ecclesiastical reformer-his Henry's book was immediately answered by Lu- attack upon the monastic institutions. Accordther, and that in a fashion calculated to cure ing to Strype, it was “the refractoriness of those kings of the ambition of controversy. Not only of the Benedictine order to the king's proceeddid the sturdy Reformer throw aside all deference ings" that“ made him think it convenient to look for the rank of his royal opponent, but he even a little more narrowly into their behaviour, and denied him the credit of being the author of the to animadvert upon their irregularities, of which book of which he was so vain.
there were reports enough: and this being reBut after the lapse of three or four years more, solved upon, he thought good to make one work the symptoms of a great change began to appear. of it, and to have all convents and religious soIn 1527 Henry fell in love with Anne Boleyn, cieties besides visited also.” The visitation bebegan to feel scruples about the lawfulness of his gan in October, 1535, and comprehended not only marriage with Catherine, who had now been all monasteries, but all collegiate churches, hoseighteen years his wife, and urged by the said pitals, and cathedrals, and also the houses of the scruples and his passion together, proceeded to order of the Knights of Jerusalem. The object 1" By a singular felicity in the wording of the title," observes
professed, of course, was the reformation of the a more recent writer, “it suited Henry equally well, when he lives of the monks; but the real motives appear buurned Papists or Protestants ; it suited each of his daughters, to have been different. Concurring with the Mary and Elizabeth ; it fitted the martyr Charles and the pro- scandals that were abroad as to the relaxed disfligate Charlen; the Romish James and the Calvinist William; and at last seemed peculiarly adapted to the weak head of high cipline of the several orders, “ their secret pracchurch Anne."—Walpole, Royal and Noble Authors.
tices against the king,” says Burnet,“ both in the
matter of his divorce and supremacy, made him their master, Cromwell. The visitation of the more willing to examine the truth of these re- monasteries, which was, in effect, a forcing of ports.” And the historian goes on to observe them one after another to surrender, was conthat, among other motives which inclined the tinued for some years, until the greater number king to the project, one was that he was appre- of them had been thus given up into the king's hensive of a war with the emperor, and was in hands; and then, in 1539, the parliament passed great want of money. The only immediate re- an act, confirming to the king and his successors sult of this first visitation was the voluntary sur- for ever both all those that had thus already rerender of six or seven of the smaller and poorer signed, and all that should be suppressed, forhouses to the crown, on the ground, as was af- feited, or given up thereafter. The effect of this firmed, of their revenues being so encumbered act was immediately to put down all the still that they must otherwise very speedily have existing monasteries in England. Altogether, by come to ruin, both in their spiritual and temporal its operation, the possessions of 644 convents, 90 concerns. Henry's intentions may be best judged colleges, 2374 chantries and free chapels, and 110 from his deeds. Within a few months an act hospitals, were annexed to the crown. The clear was passed by parliament suppressing all religi- yearly value of all the houses thus suppressed was, ous houses whose annual revenue was less than at the rents actually paid, only about £130,000; £200, and giving their lands, rents, cattle, plate, but Burnet affirms that their real value was at jewels, and all other property, to the king. By least ten times as much. Besides this, plate, this act 376 monasteries were at once swept jewels, and goods of all kinds to a vast amount. away, and Henry was enriched by lands com- must have been obtained from this wholesale puted to be worth £32,000 per annum, and other confiscation. To enlist the popular feeling in spoils of the estimated value of £100,000, but in favour of the measure, it was given out that its reality amounting to these sums several times effect would be to relieve the king's subjects for
the future from all services and taxes; and that, In the following year, 1537, a new visitation in place of the abbots, monks, friars, and nuns, was begun of all the remaining monasteries, with there would be raised and maintained 40 new the design of subjecting as many of them as pos-earls, 60 barons, 3000 knights, and 40,000 solsible to the same fate of confiscation. This was diers, commanded by skilful officers, out the so clearly perceived that, in a great many in- revenues of the abolished establishments. It was stances, voluntary surrenders were now made by also promised both that there should be a better the abbots, and other heads of houses. “There provision made for the poor, and that preachers were great complaints,” Burnet relates,“ made of should be handsomely paid to go about everythe visitors, as if they had practised with the where, and preach the true religion. “But," says abbots and priors to make these surrenders, and Strype," nothing of this came to pass.” Of the that they had conspired with them to cheat the whole of the immense revenue that accrued to king, and had privately embezzled most of the the crown from the abolition of the monasteries, plate and furniture. The abbess of Chepstow a fraction of about £8000 per annum only was complained, in particular, of Dr. London, one of bestowed upon the endowment of the six new the visitors, that he had been corrupting her bishoprics of Westminster, Oxford, Peterborough, nuns; and generally it was cried out that under- Bristol, Chester, and Gloucester, and the substihand and ill practices were used. Therefore, to tution of canons for the disbanded monks in sevequiet these reports, and to give some colour to ral of the old cathedral churches. justify what they were about, all the foul stories Henry may be regarded as having continued that could be found out were published to de- to move, in the main, in a Protestant direction fame these houses.” In most cases, it would seem, throughout the period of his three Protestaut where the house was not recommended for total marriages with Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, and suppression, a fine or annual tax was laid upon Anne of Cleves. During this space several minor it; and even where it was not pretended that the reforms were carried into effect, besides the great inmates were chargeable with any irregularities, work of the confiscation of the monasteries. the real object of the visitation, the extraction of Among these, one of the most memorable was the money, was equally kept in view. Thus we find communication to the people, under the royal authe nuns of the convent of Styxwold, against thority, of the Scriptures in their mother tongue. whom nothing appears to have been alleged, fined Wyckliffe, as was formerly mentioned, had transto the amount of 200 marks, besides an annual lated both the Old and the New Testament before pension or tax of £34. But besides the fines im- the end of the fifteenth century; and even long posed in the name of the king, there is every before his day the whole Bible, according to a reason to believe that another customary mode statement of Sir Thomas More, had been, " by of composition was by bribing the visitors or' virtuous and well-learned men, translated into