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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

And his indissoluble union with France


It

was at this crisis in the general situation, and when an attempt was being made to direct politics towards the annihilation of the Emperor, that the thought occurred of dissolving Henry VIII's marriage with the Emperor's aunt, the Infanta Catharine.

It is very possible, as a contemporary tradition informs us, that Wolsey was instigated to this by personal feelings. His arrogant and wanton proceedings, offensive by their excesses, and withal showing all the priestly love of power, were hateful to the inmost soul of the pure and earnest Queen. She is said to have once reproached him with them, and to have even repelled his unbecoming behaviour with a threatening word, and he on his part to have sworn to overthrow her.[89] But this personal motive first became permanently important when joined with a more general one. The Queen was by no means so entirely shut out from the events of the day as has been asserted; in moments of difficulty we find her summoning the members of the Privy Council before her to discuss the pending questions with them. When Wolsey began a life and death struggle with the Emperor, the influence of the Queen, whose most lively sympathies were with her nephew, stood not a little in his way; it was his chief interest to remove her.

It was indeed the feeling of the time, that family unions and political alliances must go hand in hand. At the very first proposal for a reconciliation between

England and France, Giberti had advised the marriage of the English princess Mary, who had been rejected by the Emperor, with a French prince, and there had been much negociation about it. But owing to the extreme youth of the princess it was soon felt that this would not lead to the desired end. If a definitive rupture was to take place between England and the Burgundo-Spanish power, Henry VIII's marriage with Catharine must be dissolved and room thus made for a French princess. This marriage however was itself the result of that former state of politics which had led to the first war with France. Wolsey formed the plan of marrying his King, in Catharine's stead, with the sister or even with the daughter of Francis I who was now growing up:[90] then only would the alliance between the two powers become indissoluble. When he was in France in 1527, he said to the Regent, the King's mother, that within a year she would live to see two things, the most complete separation of his sovereign from Spain, and his indissoluble union with France.[91]

But to these motives of foreign policy was now added an extremely important reason of home policy: this lay in the precarious state of the Succession.

When the King several years before was congratulated on the birth of his daughter, with an intimation that the birth of a son might have been still more acceptable, he replied quickly, they were both still young, he and his wife, why should they not still have a son? But gradually this hope had ceased, and as hitherto no Queen had ever reigned in her own right in England, the opinion gained ground that at the King's death the throne would fall vacant. It had a little before created a party among the people for the Duke of Buckingham, when he maintained that he was the nearest heir to the crown, and would not let it be taken from him. He had been executed for this: Mary's right to the succession met with no further opposition; but even so it was still always a doubtful future that lay before the country. People wished to marry Mary at one time to the Emperor, at another to the King or a prince of France: so that her claim to the inheritance of the crown should pass to the house of Burgundy or to that of Valois. But how dangerous this was for the independence of the country! Henry would surely not have lost himself in Wolsey's intrigues, had he had a son and heir, to represent the independent interests of England.


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