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Foxe's Book of Martyrs

Cardinal Pole Arrives From Rome.--His Absolution.--Gardiner's Sermon.--Nation Returns to Popery.--Faithfulness of the protestant Leaders.-- Difference of Sentiment Between Pole and Gardiner Respecting Heretics.

A treaty had commenced between Mary and the pope on her first coming to the throne, when the pope's legate at Brussels sent over Commendone, to see if he could speak with her, and to persuade her to reconcile her kingdom to the apostolic see. The management of the matter was left to his discretion, and the legate would not trust this secret to Gardiner, nor any of the other bishops. Commendone came over in the disguise of a merchant, and by accident met with one the queen's servants, who had lived years beyond sea, and was known to him, and by his means procured access to the queen. She assured him of her firm resolution to return to the obedience of that see, but charged him to manage the matter with great prudence; for if it were too early discovered, it might disturb her affairs, and obstruct the design. By him she wrote both to the pope and to cardinal Pole; and instructed Commendone, in order to the sending over Pole with a legatine power, which accordingly took place. On his arrival, he first addressed the king and queen, inviting them to return to the sheepfold of the church. The queen felt a strange emotion of joy within her, as he made his speech, which her flattering attendants encouraged her to interpret as a sign that she should have a son! On this prediction Te Deum was sung and bonfires soon blazed around the city. The priests proclaimed that another John the Baptist was at hand, who had leaped on the salutation of the vicar of Christ!! Both houses agreed on an address to the king and queen, that they would intercede with the legate to reconcile them to the see of Rome, and they offered to repeal all the laws they had made against the pope's authority, in sign of their repentance. Upon this the cardinal came to the parliament, which was held at Whitehall on account of her majesty's confinement there by indisposition. She sat with the prince under the cloth of state, and the cardinal sitting on the right hand, with all the other estates of the parliament being present: the bishop of Winchester being lord chancellor, began in this manner.

"My lords of the upper-house, and you my masters of the nether house, here is present the right reverend father in God my lord cardinal Pole, come from the apostolic see of Rome, as ambassador to the king and queen's majesties, upon one of the weightiest causes that ever happened in this realm, and which pertaineth to the glory of God, and your universal benefit. The which embassage their majesties' pleasure is to be signified unto you all by his own mouth, trusting that you will receive and accept it in benevolent and thankful wise as their highnesses have done, and that you will give an attentive and inclinable ear unto him." The lord chancellor having ended, the cardinal began his oration, declaring the causes of his coming, and his desires and requests. In the mean time, the court-gate was kept shut until he had made an end of his oration.

The next day after, the three estates assembled again in the great chamber of the court at Westminster; where the king and queen's majesties and the cardinal being present, they did exhibit (all kneeling on their knees) a supplication to their highnesses; which being read, the king and queen delivered the same unto the cardinal, who, perceiving the effects thereof to answer his expectation, did receive the same most gladly from their majesties: and after he had in a few words given thanks to God, and declared what great cause he had to rejoice above all others, that his coming from Rome into England had taken such happy success, he, by the pope's authority, gave them this absolution:--

"Our Lord Jesus Christ, who with his most precious blood hath redeemed and washed us from all our sins and iniquities, that he might purchase unto himself a glorious spouse without spot or wrinkle, and whom the Father hath appointed head over all his church, he by his mercy absolve you. And we by apostolic authority given unto us by the most holy lord pope Julius the third, his vicegerent on earth, do absolve and deliver you, and every of you, with the whole realm and dominions thereof, from all heresy and schism, and from all and every judgment, censures, and pains, for that cause incurred: and also we do restore you again unto the unity of our mother the holy church, as in our letters more plainly it shall appear: in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."

This business finished, they all went into the chapel, and there singing Te Deum, with great solemnity declared the joy for this reconciliation. The report of the cardinal's quick success was with great speed sent unto Rome; as well by the king and cardinal's letters, which hereafter follow, as also otherwise. Whereupon the pope caused three processions to be made at Rome, and thanks to be given to God, with great joy, for the conversion of England to his church; and therefore praising the cardinal's diligence, and the devotion of the king and queen, on Christmas eve, by his bulls he set forth a general pardon to all such as did truly rejoice in the same.

On Sunday, December 2nd, Gardiner, bishop of Winchester, and lord chancellor England, preached at Paul's Cross, at which sermon the king and cardinal Pole were present. He took for his text these words of the epistle of St. Paul to the Romans, "This also we know the season, brethren, that we should now awake out of sleep, for now is our salvation nearer than we believed." From them he shewed how the saying of St. Paul was verified upon the Gentiles, who had a long time slept in dark ignorance, not knowing God: therefore St. Paul, to stir up their heavy dulness, willed them to awake out of their long sleep, because their salvation was nearer than when they believed. In amplifying this matter, and comparing present times with theirs, he took occasion to declare what difference the Jewish sacraments had from those of the christians, wherein he used these words:--"Even as the sacrament of the Jews declared Christ to come, so do our sacraments declare him to be already come: but Christ to come, and Christ to be come, is not all one. For now that he is come, the Jews' sacraments are done away, and ours only remain, which declare that he is already come, and is nearer us than he was to the fathers of the old law; for they had him but in signs, but we have him in the sacrament of the altar, even his very body. Wherefore now also it is time that we awake out of our sleep, who have slept, or rather dreamed, these twenty years past, as shall more easily appear, by declaring at large some of the properties and effects of a sleep or a dream.

"And first, as men intending to sleep, do separate themselves from company, and desire to be alone; even so have we separated ourselves from the see apostolic of Rome, and have been alone, unlike any other realm in Christendom. Secondly, as in sleep men dream sometimes of killing, sometimes of maiming, sometimes of burning or drowning, sometimes of such beastliness as I dare not name, but will spare your ears; so we have in this our sleep, not only dreamed of beastliness, but we have done it indeed. For in this our sleep hath not one brother destroyed another? Hath not half our money been wiped away at one time? and again, those that would defend their conscience were slain, and others also otherwise troubled; besides infinite other things which you all know as well as I, whereof I appeal to your own consciences. Further, in a man's sleep all his senses are stopped, so that he can neither see, smell, nor hear; even so, whereas the ceremonies of the church were instituted to move and stir up our senses, they being taken away, were not our senses stopped, and we fast asleep? Moreover, when a man would gladly sleep, he will put out the candle, lest peradventure it may hinder his sleep, and awake him: so of late all such writers as did hold any thing with apostolic see, were condemned and forbidden to be read: and images, which were laymen's books, were cast down and broken.

"The sleep hath continued with us these twenty years, and we were all that while without a head. For when king Henry did first take upon him to be head of the church, it was then no church at all. After whose death, king Edward, having over him governors and protectors, who ruled as they listed, could not be head of the church, but was only a shadow or sign of a head, and at length it came to pass, that we had no head at all, no, not so much as our two archbishops. For on the one side, the queen being a woman could not be head of the church; and on the other side, our two archbishops were both convicted of one crime, and so deposed. Thus while we desired to have a supreme head among us, it came to pass that we had no head at all. When the tumult was in the north, in the time of king Henry VIII., I am sure the king was determined to have given over the supremacy again to the pope: but the hour was not then come, and therefore it went not forward, lest some would have said that he did it for fear.

"After this, Mr. Knevet and I were sent ambassadors unto the emperor, to desire him that he would be a means between the pope's holiness and the king, to bring the king to the obedience of the see of Rome, but the time was not yet come: for it might then have been said, that it had been done for a civil policy. Again, in the beginning of king Edwards's reign the matter was moved, but the time was not yet: for it would have been said, that the king being but a child, had been bought and sold. Neither in the beginning of the queen's reign was the hour come: for it would have been said, that it was done in a time of weakness. Likewise when the king first came, if it had been done, they might have said it had been done by force and violence. But now, even now, the hour is come, when nothing can be objected, but that it is the mere mercy and providence of God. Now hath the pope's holiness sent unto us this most reverend father, cardinal Pole, an ambassador from his side. What to do? not to revenge the injuries done by us against his holiness, but to give his benediction to those that defamed and persecuted him.

"And that we may be the more meet to receive the said benediction, I shall desire you that we may always acknowledge ourselves offenders against his holiness; I do not exclude myself from the number. I will 'weep with them that weep, and rejoice with them that rejoice.' And I shall desire you, that we may defer the matter no longer, for now the hour is come. The king and queen's majesties have already restored our holy father the pope to his supremacy: and the three estates assembled in the parliament, representing the whole body of the realm, have also submitted themselves to his holiness and his successors, for ever; wherefore let us not any longer stay. And even as St. Paul said to the Corinthians, that he was their father, so may the pope say, that he is our father: for we received our doctrine first from Rome, therefore he may challenge us as his own. We have all cause to rejoice, for his holiness hath sent hither and prevented us, before we sought him: such care hath he for us. Therefore let us say, 'This is the day which the Lord hath made, we will rejoice and be glad in it.' Rejoice in this day, which is of the Lord's working, that such a noble birth is come; yea, such a holy father as my lord cardinal Pole, who can speak unto us as unto brethren, and not as strangers. And let us now awake, who have so long slept, and in our sleep have done so much mischief to the sacraments of Christ, denying the blessed sacrament of the altar, and pulling down the altar, which thing Luther himself would not do, but rather reproved them that did it, examining them of their belief in Christ."

The above was the sum of his sermon. He afterwards prayed, first for pope Julius III., with all his college of cardinals, the bishop of London, with the rest of that order; then for the king and queen, and the nobility of this realm; and lastly for the commons of the same, with the souls departed lying in the pains of purgatory. A striking proof this of the ascendancy of the priesthood in the realm, since intercession for that entire order preceded prayer for the senators, nobles, and even the sovereign and the royal family. Nay, departed saints must wait their turn after the existing priesthood, foreign and domestic, supreme, superior, and subordinate, have been blessed with the intercessions of the congregation. This ended, the time being late, they began in St. Paul's to ring their evening song, whereby the preacher could not be well heard, which caused him to make an end of his sermon.

About this time a messenger was sent from the parliament to the pope, to desire him to confirm and establish the sale of abbey and chauntry lands, for the lords and the parliament would grant nothing in the pope's behalf, before their purchases were fully confirmed. Meanwhile the whole convocation, both bishops and others, were sent for to Lambeth to the cardinal, who forgave them all their perjurations, schisms, and heresies, and they all there kneeled down, and received his absolution; and after an exhortation and gratulation for their conversion to the catholic church made by the cardinal, they departed.

The new year, 1555, commenced with several arrests of protestants assembled for devotion. About thirty men and women of the city, with Mr. Rose, their minister, were taken as they were in a house in Bow church-yard, celebrating the communion, and were the same night all committed to prison. Two days after Mr. Rose was brought before the bishop of Winchester, the lord chancellor, and the same day committed to the Tower, after some communication between the bishop and him. It appears that a reference to the queen in his prayers was reported against him. He was charged with saying, and some of his congregation with repeating, these words--"God turn the heart of queen Mary from idolatry, or else shorten her days." There is reason to believe that the alternative of shortening her days was added by the accusers. The former petition however was enough to endanger their liberty and their lives. It was construed treason against her majesty. At the apprehending of Mr. Rose and his companions, word was brought thereof to bishop Hooper, being then in the Fleet; whereupon the bishop sent a letter of consolation to the said prisoners; enjoining them not to fear their adversaries, though he acknowledged the papist's church was more bloody and tyrannical, than ever was the sword of the heathens.

On Tuesday, the 8th of January, nineteen of the lower house of the parliament, with the speaker, came to Whitehall to the king, and offered him the government of the realm and of the issue, if the queen should fail, which was confirmed by act of parliament within ten days after. On the 16th of the same month, the parliament was clean dissolved; and on the 18th all the council went unto the Tower, and there the same day discharged and set at liberty all the prisoners, or most part of them, among whom were the late duke of Northumberland's sons, Ambrose, Robert, and Henry, Sir Andrew Dudley, Sir John Rogers, Sir James Crofts, Sir Nicholas Throgmorton, Sir Nicholas Arnold, Sir George Harper, Sir Edward Warner, Sir William Sentlow, Sir Gawen Carew, Mr. Gibbes, Cuthbert Vaughan, with many others.

On January 22nd, all the preachers who were in prison, were called before the bishop Winchester, and certain others, at his house in St. Mary Overy's. Being asked whether they would convert, and enjoy the queen's pardon, or else stand to that they had taught; they all answered, that they would stand to that they had taught: they were then committed to straiter prison than before, with charge that none should speak with them: of whom, one James George, died in prison, being there in bonds for religion and righteousness' sake, and as he was exempted burial in the popish church-yard, was buried in the fields.

Cardinal Pole by no means sanctioned severe measures, for when the bishops, with the rest of the convocation-house, were before the cardinal at Lambeth, he desired them to repair every man where his cure and charge lay, exhorting them to treat their flock with all mildness, and to endeavour to win the people rather by gentleness, than by extremity and rigour, and so let them depart. Some complied; but a large portion remained in London further to excite the people of the metropolis in favour of popery. On the anniversary of St. Paul, then a high day in the city, there was a general and solemn procession through London, to give God thanks for their conversion to the catholic church. To set out their glorious pomp there were fourscore and ten crosses, one hundred and sixty priests and clerks, who had every one of them copes upon their backs, singing loudly. There followed also, for the better estimation of the sight, eight bishops; and last of all came Bonner, bishop of London, carrying a splendid box containing the host under a gorgeous canopy. There were also present the mayor, and aldermen, and all the livery of every occupation. Moreover the king also himself, and the cardinal, came to St. Paul's church the same day. As the king was entering the church, at the steps going up to the choir, all the gentlemen that of late were set at liberty out of the Tower, kneeled before him and offered unto him themselves and their services. The procession continued till sun set, and after the procession there was commandment given to make bonfires at night. Whereupon did rise among the people a doubtful talk why all this was done: some saying it was that the queen being likely to have a son; while others thought that it was for joy that the realm was joined again to the see of Rome.

It would appear that Gardiner and his abettors obtained considerable influence over the milder views of Pole, so as to induce him to sanction their bitter proceedings against some of the more distinguished and devoted protestants of the day: for, on Jan. 28, the bishops had commission from the cardinal to sit upon, and order, according to the laws, all such preachers and heretics as were in prison; and according to this commission, the same day the bishop of Winchester, and the other bishops, with certain of the council, sat at St. Mary Overy's church, and called before them bishop Hooper, Mr. Rogers, and Mr. Cardmaker, who were brought thither by the sheriffs; from whence, after communication, they were committed to prison till the next day, but Cardmaker submitted himself. The next day Hooper, Rogers, Taylor, and Bradford, were brought before them, and sentence of excommunication and judgment ecclesiastical was pronounced upon bishop Hooper and Mr. Rogers, by the bishop of Winchester, who sat as judge in Caiaphas's seat, and drove them out of the church, according to their law and order. Dr. Taylor and Bradford were re-committed to prison. On the day following Dr. Taylor, Dr. Crome, Mr. Bradford, Mr. Saunders, and Dr. Farrar, some time bishop of St. David's, were before the bishops. Dr. Taylor, Saunders, and Bradford, were excommunicated; and sentence being pronounced upon them, they were committed to the sheriffs. Crome desired two months respite, which was granted him: and Farrar was again committed to prison till another time. All these men shewed themselves to be learned, as indeed they were: but what availeth either learning, reason, or truth itself, where arbitrary will alone beareth rule?

After the examination and condemnation of these good men and preachers, commissions and inquisitors were sent abroad into all parts of the realm: by reason whereof a great number of most godly and true christians, especially of Kent, Essex, Norfolk, and Suffolk, were apprehended, brought up to London, cast into prison, and most of them afterwards either consumed cruelly by fire, or else through evil handling died in prisons, and were buried on the dung-hills or in the fields.

The parliament being dissolved, the first thing taken into consideration was the way to proceed against the heretics. Cardinal Pole had been suspected to bear some favour to them, but he took great care to avoid all occasions of being any more blamed for that; and indeed he lived in that distrust of all the English, that he opened his thoughts to very few: his chief confidents were two Italians who came over with him, Priuli and Ormaneto. Secretary Cecil, who in matters of religion complied with the times, was observed to have more of his favour than any other Englishman. Pole was an enemy to all severe proceedings; he had observed that cruelty rather inflamed than cured the distemper of heresy; he thought the better and surer way was to begin and effectual reformation of the manners of the clergy, since it was the scandal given by their ill conduct ignorance, that was the chief cause of the growth of heresy: so he concluded, that if a primitive discipline should be revived, the nation might in time be gained by gentle methods. Gardiner, on the other hand, being of an abject and cruel temper himself, thought the strict execution of the laws against the Lollards was that to which they ought chiefly to trust: if the preachers were made public examples, he concluded the people would be easily reclaimed: for he pretended that it was visible, if King Henry had executed the act of the six articles vigorously, all would have submitted. He confessed a reformation of the clergy was a good thing, but all times could not bear it. If they should proceed severely against scandalous churchmen, the heretics would take advantage that to deframe the church the more, and raise a clamour against all clergymen. The queen was for joining both these counsels together, and intended to proceed at the same time both against scandalous churchmen and incorrigible protestants.