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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

The King then married Catharine Parr


Now

began the persecution of those who infringed the Six Articles, on very slight grounds of fact, and with an absence of legal form in proving the cases, that held a drawn sword over innocent and guilty alike. Bishops like Latimer and Shaxton had to go to the Tower. But how many others atoned for their faith with their life! Robert Barnes, one of the founders of the higher studies at Cambridge, well known and universally beloved in Germany, who avowed the doctrines imbibed there without reserve, lost his life at the stake. For what the peasants had once demanded now again came to pass;--the heretics perished by fire according to the old statutes.

After some time a check was given to extreme acts of violence. Legal forms were supplied for the bloody laws, which softened their severity. To Archbishop Cranmer, who was likewise attacked, the King himself stretched out a protecting hand. When he once more made common cause with the Emperor against France, and undertook a war on the Continent, he previously ordered the introduction of an English Litany, which was to be sung in processions. The fact that the Bible was read in the vernacular, and popular devotional exercises retained in use, saved the Protestant ideas and efforts, despite all persecution, from extinction.

It gives a disagreeably grotesque colouring to the government of Henry VIII to see how his matrimonial affairs are mixed up with those of politics and

religion. Queen Catharine Howard, whose marriage with him marked also the preponderance of the Catholic principle, was without any doubt guilty of offences like those which were imputed to her predecessor Anne: at her fall her relations, the leaders of the anti-Protestant party, lost their position and influence at court. The King then married Catharine Parr, who had good conduct and womanly prudence enough to keep him in good temper and contentment. But she openly cherished Protestant sympathies; and she was once seriously attacked on their account. Henry however let her influence prevail, as it did not clash with his own policy.

Now that once the sanctity of marriage had been violated, the place of King's wife became as it were revocable; the antagonistic factions sought to overthrow the Queen who was inconvenient to them; that which has been at various times demanded of other members of the household, that they should be in complete agreement with the ruling system, was then required with respect to their wives, and indeed to the wife of the sovereign himself; the importance of marriage was now shown only by the violence with which it was dissolved.

This self-willed energetic sovereign however by no means so completely followed merely his own judgment as has been assumed. We saw how after Wolsey's fall he at first inclined to the protestant doctrines, and then again persecuted them with extreme energy. He sacrificed, as formerly Empson and Dudley, so Wolsey and now Cromwell to the public opinion roused against them. He recognised with quick penetration successive political necessities and followed their guidance. The most characteristic thing is that he always seemed to belong body and soul to these tendencies, however much they differed from each other: he let them be established by laws contradictory to each other, and insisted with relentless severity on the execution of those laws.


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