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A History of the Reformation (Vol. 2 of 2)

The eldest sister of Henry VIII

"We are altogether exempted by letters patent from the King and Council from the jurisdiction of the Bishops. To each church (I mean the German and the French) are assigned two ministers of the Word (among whom is my unworthy self), over whom has been appointed superintendent the most illustrious John a Lasco; by whose aid alone, under God, we foreigners have arrived at our present state of pure religion. Some of the Bishops, and especially the Bishop of London, with certain others, are opposed to our design; but I hope their opposition will be ineffectual. The Archbishop of Canterbury, the special patron of foreigners, has been the chief support and promoter of our church, to the great astonishment of some."[494]

These foreigners, outside episcopal control and not subject to the _Acts of Uniformity_, enjoyed liberties of worship which were not granted to Englishmen. They were driven out of the country when Mary succeeded; but under Elizabeth and James they had the same privileges and were naturally envied by the English Puritans, coerced by Bishops and harried by Acts of Uniformity.

While the Reformation was being pushed forward in England at a speed too great for the majority of the people, the King was showing the feebleness of his constitution. He died on the 6th of July 1553, and the collapse of the Reformation after his death showed the uncertainty

of the foundation on which it had been built.



One of the last acts of the dying King had been to make a will regulating the succession. It was doubtless suggested to him by the Duke of Northumberland, but, once adopted, the lad clung to it with Tudor tenacity. It set aside as illegitimate both his sisters. It also set aside the young Queen of Scotland, who, failing Mary and Elizabeth, was the legitimate heir, being the granddaughter of Margaret, the eldest sister of Henry VIII., and selected the Lady Jane Grey, the representative (eldest child of eldest child) of Mary, the younger sister of Henry VIII. Both the King and his Council seem to have thought that the nation would not submit to a Roman Catholic on the throne; and Charles V. appears to have agreed with them. He considered the chances of Mary's succession small.

The people of England, however, rallied to Mary, as the nearest in blood to their old monarch, who, notwithstanding his autocratic rule, had never lost touch with his people.

The new Queen naturally turned to her cousin Charles V. for guidance. He had upheld her mother's cause and her own; and in the dark days which were past, his Ambassador Chapuys had been her indefatigable friend.

It was Mary's consuming desire to bring back the English Church and nation to obedience to Rome--to undo the work of her father, and especially of her brother. The Emperor recommended caution; he advised the Queen to be patient; to watch and accommodate her policy to the manifestations of the feelings of her people; to punish the leaders who had striven to keep her from the throne, but to treat all their followers with clemency. Above all, she was to mark carefully the attitude of her sister Elizabeth, and to reorganise the finances of the country.

Mary had released Gardiner from the Tower, and made him her trusted Minister. His advice in all matters, save that of her marriage, coincided with the Emperor's. It was thought that small difficulty would be found in restoring the Roman Catholic religion, but that difficulties might arise about the papal supremacy, and especially about the reception of a papal Legate. Much depended on the Pope. If His Holiness did not demand the restoration of the ecclesiastical property alienated during the last two reigns, and now distributed among over forty thousand proprietors, all might go well.

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