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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

Cardinal Wolsey appeared in France


[86]

The Instructions to Tunstall and Wingfield (30 March 1525), hitherto known only from the extract in Fiddes, are now printed in the State Papers vi. 333. Compare my German History, Bk. IV. ch. 2, but the statement there made needs revision in accordance with the newly-found documents.

CHAPTER III.

ORIGIN OF THE DIVORCE QUESTION.

Perhaps it is not a matter of such very great weight whether the Emperor did his best for Wolsey in the conclave, or Wolsey his best for the Emperor in the campaign of 1523. That the result did not correspond to the expectations on either side was quite enough to bring about an estrangement. What could the Emperor do with an English minister who was not in a condition to support warlike enterprises properly? what could the English do with an ally who appropriated to himself exclusively the advantages of the victory they had won? Henry VIII, while trying to win the French crown, had only weakened it, and thereby given the house of Burgundy a preponderance in European affairs, by which all other powers, and himself as well, felt themselves threatened.

After the battle of Pavia a feeling prevailed throughout the world that the rule of Spain and Burgundy would be intolerable, if France were no longer independent. The ministers of the Pope in Rome first came to a consciousness of this:

as the best means of restoring the balance, they looked to the dissolution of the alliance between Henry VIII and Charles V. The Pope's Datary, Giberti, made approaches to the English Court, though still with timid caution, in order in the first place only to propose a reconciliation between England and France.[87]

To his joy he remarked that Henry VIII and Cardinal Wolsey were more inclined to this plan than he had expected. If not before yet certainly since his alienation from the Emperor, the cardinal had entered into secret negociations with the mother of the King of France: the last proposals to the Emperor had been only an attempt to turn the success of his arms to the advantage of England also: when he rejected them, the cardinal entered into the French connexion with increased zeal. Before the end of the summer of 1523 peace between England and France was effected with the sympathising co-operation of Rome.

In it the Regent Louise accepted the conditions laid down by the cardinal: she did not neglect to secure him by a considerable pension. From the beginning she had on her side also tried to excite his world-wide ambition; for Francis I and Henry VIII, if once they became friends, would do noble deeds to their own-undying renown and to the glory of God, and the direction of their enterprises would fall to the cardinal.[88]

Even after Henry VIII abandoned him, the Emperor still kept the upper hand. He extorted the Peace of Madrid; the League of the Italian princes with France, by which its execution was to have been hindered, and to which England lent her moral support without actually joining it, led Charles V to new victories, to the conquest of Rome, and hence to a position in the world which now did really threaten the freedom of all other nations. The necessary result was that France and England drew still more closely together. Cardinal Wolsey appeared in France; a close alliance was concluded and (not without considerable English help) an army sent into the field, which in fact gained the upper hand in Italy and restored to the Pope, who had escaped to Orvieto, some feeling of independence. Soon the largest projects were formed on this side also, in which the two Kings expected to have the Pope entirely with them. The French declared their wish to conquer Naples and never restore it to the Emperor, not even under the most favourable conditions. Wolsey thought that the Pope might pronounce the deposition of the Emperor in Naples and even in the Empire, for which certain German electors could be won over; he boasted that he would bring about such a revolution as had not been seen for a century.


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