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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

Was created Viscount Rochefort


It

was therefore just what the nobles wanted, that Wolsey fell out with the King in a matter of such engrossing nature, and that they found another means of access to him.

The Boleyns were not of noble origin, but had been for some time connected with the leading families. Geoffrey the founder of the house had raised himself by success in business and good conduct to the dignity of Lord Mayor of London. His son William married the daughter of the only Irish peer who had a seat and vote in the English Parliament, Sir Thomas Ormond de Rochefort, Earl of Wiltshire. His titles passed through his daughter to his grandsons, of whom one, Thomas Boleyn, was created Viscount Rochefort, and married the daughter of the Duke of Norfolk; his daughter was Anne Boleyn: she took high rank and an especially distinguished position in English society because her uncle, Thomas Duke of Norfolk, was Henry VIII's chief lay minister (he held the place of High Treasurer) and was at the same time the leading man of the nobility. He had the reputation of being versed in business, cultivated, and shrewd; he was Wolsey's natural opponent. That the King showed an inclination to his niece, against the cardinal's views, was for him and his friends a great point gained.[97] It was soon seen that Anne's influence had obtained the recall of an opponent of Wolsey, who had insulted him and was banished from the Court.[98] It was of the greatest importance for home affairs, that the

King was inclined to make Anne Boleyn his wife. The English kings in general did not think marriages in their own rank essential. Henry's own grandfather, Edward IV, had married a lady of by no means distinguished origin. It was seen beforehand that, if this happened, Wolsey could not maintain himself, and authority would again fall into the hands of the chief families. Even the cardinal's old friend, the Earl of Suffolk, now joined this combination: the whole of the nobility sided with it.

But besides this the chief foreign affairs took a turn which made it impossible to carry out Wolsey's political ideas. In the summer of 1528 the attacks of the allies on Naples were repulsed, and their armies annihilated. In the spring of 1529 the Emperor got the upper hand in Lombardy also. How utterly then did the oft-proposed plan, of depriving him of the supreme dignity, sink into nothingness: he was stronger than ever in Italy. The Pope was fortunate in not having joined the allies more closely; the relations of the States of the Church with Tuscany made a union with the Emperor necessary; he had a horror of a new quarrel with him. And as the Emperor now took up the interests of his mother's sister in the most earnest manner, and protested against proceeding by a Commission granted for England, the Pope could not possibly let the affair go on unchecked. When the English ambassadors pressed him, he exclaimed to them (for apart from this he would gladly have shown more favour to the King) that he felt himself as it were between anvil and hammer. Divers proposals were made, one more extraordinary than the other, if only the King would give up his demand;[99] but this was no longer possible. The two cardinals, Campeggi and Wolsey, had to begin judicial proceedings: King and Queen appeared before the Court, Articles were put forward, witnesses heard: the Correspondence shows that the King and Anne Boleyn expected with much confidence a speedy and favourable decision.[100] Wolsey too did not yet abandon this hope. It was thought at the time that he did not do all he might have done for it, that in fact he no longer favoured it, seeing as he did that it would turn out to the advantage of his rivals.[101] But it was in truth his fate, that the consequences of the design which originated with him recoiled on his own head. If it succeeded, it must be disadvantageous to him: if it failed, he was lost. The exhortations he addressed to the French Court, to exert yet once more its whole influence with the Papal Court for this matter, sound like a cry of distress in extreme peril. He had only undertaken it to unite France and England; the thing was reasonable and practicable, the Pope would not wish by refusing it to offend both crowns at once; he would value it more highly than if he himself were raised to the Papacy. But he had now to find that King Francis, as well as Pope Clement, was seeking a separate peace with the Emperor. Wolsey had given Henry the strongest assurances on this point, that such a thing would never happen, France would never separate herself from him. But yet this now happened, and how could any influence from that quarter on the Roman Court be still expected in favour of England, in a matter which was so highly offensive to the Emperor! The legates received from Rome distinct instructions to proceed slowly, and in no case to pronounce a decision.[102] While King Henry and those around him were eagerly expecting it, the cardinals (using the holidays of the Roman Rota as a pretence) announced the suspension of their proceedings.


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