To Lord of Wiltshire, 15311
It may please your
lordship to be advertised, that the king his grace, my lady your wife, my lady
Anne your daughter, be in good health, whereof thanks be to God.
As concerning the king his cause, master Raynolde Poole2 hath written a book much contrary to the king his purpose, with such wit, that it appeareth that he might be for his wisdom of the council to the king his grace; and of such eloquence, that if it were set forth and known to the common people, I suppose it were not possible to persuade them to the contrary. The principal intent whereof is, that the king his grace should be content to commit his great cause to the judgment of the Pope: wherein meseemeth he lacketh much judgment. But he suadeth3 that with such goodly eloquence, both of words and sentence, that he were like to persuade many: but me he persuadeth in that point nothing at all. But in many other things he satisfieth me very well. The sum whereof I shall shortly rehearse.
First, he sheweth the cause wherefore he had never pleasure to intromit4 himself in this cause, and that was the trouble which was like to ensue to this realm thereof by diversity of titles; whereof what hurt might come, we have had example in our fathers' days by the titles of Lancaster and York.5 And whereas God hath given many noble gifts unto the king his grace, as well of body and mind, as also of fortune; yet this exceedeth all other, that in him all titles do meet and come together, and this realm is restored to tranquillity and peace: so oweth he to provide, that this land fall not again to the foresaid misery and trouble; which may come as well by the people within this realm, (which think surely that they have an heir lawful already, with whom they all be well content, and would be sorry to have any other, and it would be hard to persuade them to take any other, leaving her,) as also by the emperor,6 which is a man of so great power, the queen being his aunt,7 the princess his niece,8 whom he so much doth and ever hath favoured.
And where he heard reasons for the king his party, that he was moved of God his law, which doth straitly forbid, and that with many great threats, that no man shall marry his brother his wife: and as for the people, that longeth9 not to their judgment, and yet it is to be thought that they will be content, when they shall know that the ancient doctors of the church, and the determinations of so many great universities be of the king his sentence: and as concerning the emperor, if he be so unrightful that he will maintain an unjust cause, yet God will never fail them that stand upon his party, and for any thing will not transgress his commandments: and beside that, we shall not lack the aid of the French king,10 which partly for the league which he hath made with us, and partly for the displeasure and old grudge which he beareth toward the emperor, would be glad to have occasion to be avenged: these reasons he bringeth for the king's party against his own opinion.
To which he maketh answer in this manner. First, as touching the law of God, he thinketh that if the king were pleased to take the contrary part, he might as well justify that, and have as good ground of the scripture therefore, as for that part which he now taketh. And yet if he thought the king's party never so just, and that this his marriage were undoubtedly against God's pleasure, then he could not deny but it should be well done for the king to refuse this marriage, and to take another wife: but that he should be a doer therein, and a setter forward thereof, he could never find in his heart. And yet he granteth that he hath no good reason therefore, but only affection which he beareth and of duty oweth unto the king's person. For in so doing he should not only wayke,11 yea and utterly take away the princess' title, but also he must needs accuse the most and chief part of all the king his life hitherto, which hath been so infortunate to live more than twenty years in a matrimony so shameful, so abominable, so bestial and against nature, (if it be so as the books which do defend the king's party do say,) that the abomination thereof is naturally written and graven in every man's heart, so that none excusation can be made by ignorance; and thus to accuse the noble nature of the king's grace, and to take away the title of his succession, he could never find in his heart, were [the] king's cause never so good; which he doth knowledge to be only affection.
Now as concerning the people, he thinketh not possible to satisfy them by learning or preaching; but as they now do begin to hate priests, this shall make them rather to hate much more both learned men and also the name of learning, and bring them in abomination of every man. For what loving men toward their prince would gladly hear, that either their prince should be so infortunate, to live so many years in matrimony so abominable; or that they should be taken and counted so bestial, to approve and take for lawful, and that so many years, a matrimony so unlawful and so much against nature, that every man in his heart naturally doth abhor it? and, that is more, when they hear this matrimony dispraised and spoken against, neither by their own minds, nor by reasons that be made against this matrimony, can they be persuaded to grudge against the matrimony; but for any thing they do grudge against the divorce, wherein the people should shew themselves no men but beasts. And that the people should be persuaded hereto, he cannot think it.
And as for the authority of the universities, he thinketh and sayeth that many times they be led by affections, which is well known to every man, and wisheth that they never did err in their determinations. Then he sheweth with how great difficulty the universities were brought to the king's party. And moreover against the authority of the universities he setteth the authority of the king's grace['s] father and his council, the queen's father and his council, and the Pope and his council.
Then he cometh again to the Pope, and the emperor, and French king. And first the Pope, how much he is adversary unto the king's purpose, he hath shewed divers tokens already, and not without a cause: for if he should consent to the king's purpose, he must needs do against his predecessors, and also restrain his own power more than it hath been in time past, which rather he would be glad to extend; and moreover he should set great sedition in many realms, as in Portugal, of which king the emperor hath married one sister, and the duke of Savoy the other.12 Then he extolleth the power of the emperor, and diminish[eth] the aid of the French king toward us, saying, that the emperor, without drawing of any sword, but only by forbidding the course of merchandise into Flanders and Spain, may put this realm into great damage and ruin. And what if he will thereto draw his sword, wherein is so much power, which, being of much less power than he is now, subdued the Pope and the French king? And as for the Frenchmen, [they] never used to keep league with us but for their own advantage, and we can never find in our hearts to trust them. And yet if now contrary to their old nature they keep their league, yet our nation shall think themselves in miserable condition, if they shall be compelled to trust upon their aid, which always have been our mortal enemies, and never we loved them, nor they us. And if the Frenchmen have any suspicion that this new matrimony shall not continue, then we shall have no succour of them, but upon such conditions as shall be intolerable to this realm. And if they, following their old nature and custom, then do break league with us, then we shall look for none other, but that Englande shall be a prey between the emperor and them. After all this he cometh to the point to save the king's honour, saying, that the king standeth even upon the brink of the water, and yet he may save all his honour; but if he put forth his foot but one step forward, all his honour is drowned. And the means which he hath devised to save the king's honour is this.
The rest of this matter I must leave to shew your lordship by mouth when I speak with you, which I purpose, God willing, shall be to-morrow, if the king's grace let me not. Now the bearer maketh such haste that I can write no more, but that I hear no word from my benefice, nor master Russel's servant is not yet returned again, whereof I do not a little marvel. The king and my lady Anne rode yesterday to Wyndsower, and this night they be looked for again at Hampton Court: God be their guide, and preserve your lordship to his most pleasure.
From Hampton Court this 13 day of June.
Your most humble beadman, Thomas Cranmer
letter appears in the original spelling in Strype's Cranmer, Appendix, No. I.
2. See Cardinal Reginald Pole.
3. suadeth, persuadeth.
4. intromit, admit.
5. See The Wars of the Roses.
6. Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor.
7. Queen Catherine of Aragon.
8. Princess Mary, later Queen Mary I.
9. longeth, belongeth.
10. Francis I.
11. wayke, weaken.
12. The Emperor had married Isabella, daughter of the King of Portugal in 1526; Charles III, Duke of Savoy, had married her younger sister Beatrix in 1520. Their brother, John III, was King of Portugal at this time.
To Archdeacon Hawkyns1, 1533
on Anne Boleyn's Coronation
In my most hearty wise I commend me unto you, and even so would be right glad to
hear of your welfare, &c. These be to advertise you, that inasmuch as you
now and then take some pains in writing unto me, I would be loth you should
think your labour utterly lost and forgotten for lack of writing again;2
therefore, and because I reckon you be some deal desirous of such news as hath
been here with us of late in the King's Grace's matters, I intend to inform you
a part thereof, according to the tenor and purport used in that behalf.
And first, as touching the final determination and concluding of the matter of divorce between my Lady Kateren3 and the King's Grace, which said matter, after the Convocation in that behalf had determined and agreed according to the former consent of the Universities, it was thought convenient by the King and his learned counsel, that I should repair unto Dunstable, which is within four miles unto Amptell,4 where the said Lady Kateren keepeth her house, and there to call her before me to hear the final sentence in the said matter. Notwithstanding, she would not at all obey thereunto, for when she was by Doctor Lee cited to appear by a day, she utterly refused the same, saying, that inasmuch as her cause was before the Pope, she would have none other judge; and therefore would not take me for her judge.
Nevertheless the viiith day of May, according to the said appointment, I came unto Dunstable, my Lord of Lincoln5 being assistant unto me, and my Lord of Wynchester, Doctor Bell, Dr. Claybroke, Dr. Trygonnell, Dr. Hewis, Dr. Olyver, Dr. Brytten, Mr. Bedell, with divers other learned in the law, being counsellors in the law for the King's part: and so there at our coming kept a Court for the appearance of the said Lady Kateren, where were examined certain witness which testified that she was lawfully cited and called to appear, whom for fault of appearance was declared contumax;6 proceeding in the said cause against her in penam contumaciae,7 as the process of the law thereunto belongeth; which continued fifteen days after our coming thither. And the morrow after Ascension-day I gave final sentence therein, how that it was indispensable for the Pope to license any such marriages.
This done, and after our rejourneying home again, the King's Highness prepared all things convenient for the Coronation of the Queen,8 which also was after such a manner as followeth.
The Thursday next before the feast of Pentecost, the King and the Queen being at Grenewyche,9 all the crafts of London thereunto well appointed, in several barges decked after the most gorgeous and sumptuous manner, with divers pageants thereunto belonging, repaired and waited all together upon the Mayor of London; and so well furnished came all unto Grenewiche, where they tarried and waited for the Queen's coming to her barge: which so done, they brought her unto the Tower, trumpets, shambes,10 and other divers instruments all the ways playing and making great melody, which, as is reported, was so comely done as never was like in any time nigh to our remembrance.
And so her Grace came to the Tower on Thursday at night, about five of the clock, where also was such a peal of guns as hath not been heard like a great while before. And the same night, and Friday all day, the King and Queen tarried there; and on Friday at night the King's Grace made eighteen Knights of the Bath, whose creation was not alone so strange to hear of, as also their garments11 stranger to behold or look on; which said Knights the next day, which was Saturday, rid before the Queen's Grace throughout the City of London towards Westminster Palace, over and besides the most part of the nobles of the realm, which like accompanied her Grace throughout the said City; she sitting in her hair upon a horse litter, richly apparelled,12 and four Knights of the five ports13 bearing a canopy over her head. And after her came four rich chariots, one of them empty, and three other furnished with divers ancient old ladies;14 and after them came a great train of other ladies and gentlewomen: which said progress from the beginning to the ending, extended half a mile in length by estimation, or thereabout. To whom also, as she came along the City was showed many costly pageants, with divers other encomies15 spoken of children to her. And so proceeding throughout the streets, passed forth unto Westminster Hall, where was a certain banquet prepared for her, which done, she was conveyed out of the backside of the palace into a barge, and so unto York Place,16 where the King's Grace was before her coming, for this you must ever presuppose, that his Grace came always before her secretly in a barge, as well from Grenewyche17 to the Tower, as from the Tower to York Place.
Now then on Sunday was the Coronation, which also was of such a manner.
In the morning there assemble[d] with me at Westminster Church, the Bishop of York,18 the Bishop of London,19 the Bishop of Wynchester,20 the Bishop of Lyncoln,21 the Bishop of Bath,22 and the Bishop of St. Asse,23 the Abbot of Westminstre,24 with ten or twelve more Abbots, which all revestred ourselves in our pontificalibus,25 and so furnished, with our crosses and crosiers,26 proceeded out of the Abbey in a procession unto Westminstre Hall, where we received the Queen apparelled in a robe of purple velvet, and all the ladies and gentlewomen in robes and gowns of scarlet, according to the manner used before time in such business: and so her Grace sustained of each side with two Bishops, the Bishop of London and the Bishop of Wynchester, came forth in procession unto the Church of Westminstre, she in her hair,27 my Lord of Suffolke bearing before her the Crown, and two other lords bearing also before her a Sceptre and a white rod, and so entered up into the high altar, where divers ceremonies used about her, I did set the Crown on her head, and then was sung Te Deum, &c. And after that was sung a solemn mass, all which while her Grace sat crowned upon a scaffold, which was made between the high altar and the choir in Westminstre Church; which mass and ceremonies done and finished, all the assembly of noblemen brought her into Westminstre Hall again, where was kept a great solemn feast all that day; the good order thereof were too long to write at this time to you.
But now, Sir, you may not imagine that this Coronation was before her marriage, for she was married much about St, Paul's day28 last, as the condition thereof doth well appear, by reason she is now somewhat big with child. Notwithstanding it hath been reported throughout a great part of the realm that I married her; which was plainly false, for I myself knew not thereof a fortnight after it was done. And many other things be also reported of me, which be mere lies and tales.
Other news have we none notable, but that one Fryth,29 which was in the Tower in prison, was appointed by the King's Grace to be examined before me, my Lord of London, my Lord of Wynchestre, my Lord of Suffolke, my Lord Chancellor,30 and my Lord of Wylteshere,31 whose opinion was so notably erroneous, that we could not dispatch him, but was fain to leave him to the determination of his Ordinary, which is the Bishop of London. His said opinion is of such nature, that he thought it not necessary to be believed as an article of our faith, that there is the very corporal presence of Christ within the host and sacrament of the altar, and holdeth of this point most after the opinion of OEcolampadius. And surely I myself sent for him three or four times to persuade him to leave that his imagination, but for all that we could do therein, he would not apply to any counsel; notwithstanding now he is at a final end with all examinations, for my Lord of London hath given sentence and delivered him to the secular power, where he looketh every day to go unto the fire.32 And there is also condemned with him one Andrewe, a tailor of London, for the said selfsame opinion.
If you have not heard of our ambassadors lately gone over,33 you shall understand that my Lord of Northfolk, my Lord of Rocheforde, Master Paulet, Sir Francis Bryan, Sir Antoney Browne, &c., Dr. Gooderyche, D. Aldryche, and D. Thrylbey, be gone unto France to the French King.34 And as I suppose they go from him to the Pope unto35
Further you shall understand, that there is many here which wish you to succeed your uncle;36 notwithstanding I would you should not think the contrary, but that there be a great sort which would it should not come to pass; nevertheless you be neither the nearer ne 37 further off through such idle communication.
Finally, I here send unto you a bill for the bank of four ducats de largo, which sum I would you should not take it up before you have need thereof, and therefore I send it for your commodity and necessity; for it is none of the King's Grace's money, nor his said Grace knoweth nothing thereof, but alonely of my benevolence to serve your purpose, in case, as I said, you should lack the same. And thus fare ye well. From my manor of Croydon, the xvii. day of June 1533.
Nicholas Hawkins, Archdeacon (and, later, bishop elect) of Ely, succeeded
Cranmer as ambassador to Emperor Charles V. He died in 1534,
while returning from Spain, possibly of poison.
2. writing again, writing back.
3. Catherine of Aragon was no longer allowed the appellation "Queen" — she was to be titled "Princess Dowager", as per her first marriage, to Prince Arthur, and thus addressed merely "Lady Catherine" instead of Queen Catherine.
4. Amptell, Ampthill Castle, Bedfordshire.
5. John Longland, Bishop of Lincoln, Dean of Salisbury, Confessor to King Henry VIII.
6. contumax, contumacious; when a defendant is ordered and refuses to appear in court for the trial, he/she is contumax.
7. in poenam contumaciae, (lit. 'on pain of contumacy'), subject to being held in contempt of the court.
8. A detailed description of Anne Boleyn's coronation can be found in Stow's Annales of England. It is also portrayed by Shakespeare in Act IV of Henry VIII.
9. Greenwich Palace, on the Henry VIII's chief residences.
10. shambes, i.e., Shawms.
11. According to Stow, they wore "violet gowns with hoods purfled with miniver like doctors." Annals.
12. Stow says Anne Boleyn wore "a kirtle of white cloth of tissue, and a mantle of the same furred with ermine, her hair hanging down, but on her head she had a coif with a circlet about it full of rich stones."
13. See The Cinque Ports.
14. Two of these "ancient old ladies," were the "old Duchess of Norfolk, and the old Marchioness of Dorset." Stow, ibid.
16. York Place was the previous name of the palace of Whitehall.
17. Greenwich Palace.
18. Edward Lee.
19. John Stokesley.
20. Stephen Gardiner.
21. John Longland. See note 5.
22. John Clerk.
23. Henry Standish.
24. William Boston, according to his oath in Rymer, or Benson, according to his will. He was the last Abbot, first Dean of Westminster.
25. in pontificalibus, in the official vestments of a bishop or cardinal, etc., respectively.
26. Crosier, official staff of bishops and abbots.
27. In her hair, i.e., her hair flowing loosely on her shoulders.
28. This part of the Letter, as has been observed by Mr. Ellis, proves two facts respecting which there has been some dispute: one, that Anne Boleyn was married on
St. Paul's day, the 25th of January; the other, that Cranmer was not present on the occasion. The date of the marriage is given correctly by Stow; but Hall, and Holinshed after him, name St. Erkenwald's day, the 14th of November. The presence of Cranmer is asserted by Lord Herbert, whose mistake has been adopted by Burnet and Dr. Milner.
29. A peculiar interest is attached to the name of Frith, from his being the first Englishman after Wicliff, who wrote against the received doctrine of the Eucharist, from the celebrity of his opponent in the controversy, Sir Thomas More, and from the influence which his writings are supposed to have had on Cranmer. See Preface; Burnet, History of the Reformation in England, vol. i. p. 338; Foxe, Acts and Monuments, vol. ii. p. 303, and vol. iii. Appendix, p. 989; where is a very interesting narrative of his appearance before the Archbishop at Croydon.
30. Sir Thomas Audeley was appointed Lord Keeper the 20th of May 1532, on the resignation of Sir Thomas More; and Lord Chancellor the 26th of January, 1533. State Papers, vol. i. p. 389.
31. Thomas Boleyn, Queen Anne Boleyn's father.
32. Both Frith and Andrew Hewet were burnt in Smithfield on the 4th of July, 1533. Foxe, Acts, &c., Vol, ii. p. 309. Burnet, following Hall and Stow, places their execution in 1534, but Foxe's date is strongly supported by this Letter.
33. This latter part of the Letter is omitted, both by Mr. Ellis and by Mr. Todd.
34. "The King understanding that the Pope, the Emperor, and the French King, should meet at Nice in June following, he appointed the Duke of Nortfolk, &c. to go in ambassage to the French King, and both to accompany him to Nice, and also to commune with the Pope there, concerning his stay in the King's divorce." Stow, Annals.
35. Francis I and Pope Clement VII met in October at Marseilles.
36. "On the death of Dr. West, Bishop of Ely, his nephew and godson Dr. Nicholas Hawkins, Archdeacon of Ely, at that time the King's ambassador in foreign parts, was designed to succeed him; but he dying before his consecration could be effected, the King granted his license to the Prior and Convent, dated March 6, 1534, to choose themselves a bishop; who immediately elected in their chapter-house, the seventeenth of the same month, Thomas Goodrich." Chalmers, Biogr. Dict. art. Goodrich.
37. ne, nor.
To Archdeacon Hawkyns1, 1533
Regarding the Nun of Kent
Master Archdeacon, I[n] my right hearty wise I commend me unto you. These be to
ascertain you of such news as be here now in fame amonges us in England. And
first ye shall understand, that at Canterbury within my diocese, about eight
years past, there was wrought a great miracle in a maid2 by the power of God and
our Lady, named our Lady of Courteupstret;2 by reason of the which miracle there
is stablished3 a great pilgrimage, and ever since many devout people hath sought
to that foresaid Lady of Curte of Strett.
The miracle was this: the maid was taken with a grievous and a continual sickness, and in during her said sickness she had divers and many trances, speaking of many high and godly things, telling also wondrously, by the power of the Holy Ghost as it was thought, things done and said in other places, whereas neither she was herself, nor yet heard no report thereof. She had also in her trances many strange visions and revelations, as of heaven, hell, and purgatory, and of the state of certain souls departed, and amonges all other visions one was, that [she] should be conveyed to our Lady of Courte of Strett, where she was promised to be healed of her sickness, and that Almighty God should work wonders in her; and when she was brought thither and laid before the image of our Lady, her face was wonderfully disfigured, her tongue hanging out, and her eyes being in a manner plucked out and laid upon her cheeks, and so greatly disordered. Then was there heard a voice speaking within her belly, as it had been in a tun; her lips not greatly moving; she all that while continuing by the space of three hours and more in a trance; the which voice, when it told any thing of the joys of heaven, it spake so sweetly and so heavenly that every man was ravished with the hearing thereof; and contrary, when it told any thing of hell, it spake so horribly and terribly that it put the hearers in a great fear. It spake also many things for the confirmation of pilgrimages and trentals, hearing of masses, and confession, and many such other things. And after she had lain there a long time, she came to herself again, and was perfectly whole, and so this miracle was finished and solemnly rung, and a book written of all the whole story thereof, and put into print, which ever since that time hath been commonly sold and gone abroad amonges all people. After this miracle done, she had a commandment from God in a vision, as she said, to profess herself a nun. And so she was professed, and hath so continued, in a nunnery at Canterbury, called St. Sepulcre's, ever since.
And then she chose a monk of Christ's Church, a doctor in divinity,4 to be ghostly father, whose counsel she hath used and evermore followed in all her doing. And evermore since from time to time hath had almost every week or at the furthest every fortnight, new visions and revelations, and she hath had oftentimes trances and raptures, by reason whereof, and also of the great perfectness that was thought to be in her, divers and many as well great men of the realm as mean men, and many learned men, but specially divers and many religious men, had great confidence in her, and often resorted unto her and communed with her, to the intent they might by her know the will of God; and chiefly concerning the King's marriage, the great heresies and schisms within the realm, and the taking away the liberties of the Church; for in these three points standeth the great number of her visions, which were so many, that her ghostly father could scantly write them in three or four quires of paper. And surely I think, that she did marvellously stop the going forward of the King's marriage by the reason of her visions, which she said was of God, persuading them that came unto her how highly God was displeased therewith, and what vengeance Almighty God would take upon all the favourers thereof; insomuch that she wrote letters to the Pope, calling upon him in God's behald to stop and let the said marriage, and to use his high and heavenly power therein, as he would avoid the great stroke of God, which then hanged ready over his head, if he did the contrary. She had also communication with my Lord Cardinal5 and with my Lord of Canterbury my predecessor,6 in the matter; and [in] mine opinion, with her feigned visions and godly threatenings, she stayed them very much in the matter.
She had also secret knowledge of divers other things, and then she feigned that she had knowledge thereof from God; insomuch that she conceived letters and sent them forth, making divers people believe that those letters were written in heaven, and sent from thence to earthly creatures. Now about Midsummer last, I, hearing of these matters, sent for this holy maid, to examine her; and from me she was had to Master Cromewell, to be further examined there. And now she hath confessed all, and uttered the very truth, which is this: that she never had vision in all her life, but all that ever she said was feigned of her own imagination, only to satisfy the minds of them the which resorted unto her, and to obtain worldly praise: by reason of the which her confession, many and divers, both religious men and other, be now in trouble, forasmuch as they consented to her mischievous and feigned visions, which contained much perilous sedition and also treason, and would not utter it, but rather further the same to their power.
She said that the King should not continue King a month after that he were married. And within six months after, God would strike the realm with such a plague as never was seen, and then the King should be destroyed. She took upon her also to show the condition and state of souls departed, as of my Lord Cardinal, my late Lord of Canterbury, with divers other. To show you the whole story of all the matter, it were too long to write in two or three letters; you shall know further thereof at your coming home.
As touching the bishopricks that be void, ye shall understand, that Doctor Salcott, the Abbot of Hydde, is elect Bishop of Banger, Doctor Lee, the lawyer, is elect Bishop of Chestre. There is as yet none elect Bishop of Elie: you shall know at your coming home who shall be. The Parliament is not holden this term, but is prorogued to the xv. day of January. The Queen's Grace was brought about the xiii. or xiv. day of September of a princess.7 I myself was godfather, the old Duchess of Northfolke8 and my Lady Marquess Dorset9 were godmothers. The Duke of Richmonde10 hath married my Lady Mary, the Duke of Northfolke's11 daughter. From Lamethe,12 the xx. day of December, A°. xxv Reg. 1533.
Nicholas Hawkins, Archdeacon (and, later, bishop elect) of Ely, succeeded
Cranmer as ambassador to Emperor Charles V. He died in 1534,
while returning from Spain, possibly of poison.
2. See Elizabeth Barton, called the 'Nun of Kent', 'Holy Maid of Kent', or 'Fair Maid of Kent'.
3. The free chapel of Court at Street, or Courtupstreet, as it was known at the time.
4. stablished, established; begun.
5. Edward Bockyng, who is thought to have masterminded the 'visions' after her arrival in Canterbury.
6. Cardinal Wolsey had probably thought to use her to advantage; it is not likely Wolsey believed in her 'visions'.
7. William Warham, Archbishop of Canterbury.
8. Queen Anne Boleyn actually gave birth to Princess Elizabeth on September 7. See Anne Boleyn's Announcement of Elizabeth's Birth to Lord Cobham.
9. Agnes Howard, née Tilney, the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk, who had also taken part in the christening of the Princess Mary.
10. Frances Grey, née Brandon, daughter of Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, wife of Henry Grey, Marquess of Dorset, and mother to Lady Jane Grey.
11. King Henry VIII's illegitimate son, Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond.
12. Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk.
13. Lambeth Palace.
To Thomas Cromwell, 1534
This letter was written shortly after Parliament passed the first Act of Succession. The clergy, the nobility and government officials were all required to swear an oath to the same, but Sir Thomas More and John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester refused. Cranmer writes here to Cromwell to see if they might be allowed to swear just to the legitimacy of the succession, not requiring them to swear to the preamble, which included declaring Henry VIII's first marriage illegitimate and the disavowing of the Pope's power over the English Church.
Right Worshipful Master Crumwell, after most hearty commendations, &c. I doubt not but you do right well remember, that my Lord of Rochester and Master More were contented to be sworn to the Act of the King's succession, but not to the preamble of the same.1 What was the cause of their refusal thereof I am uncertain, and they would by no means express the same. Nevertheless it must needs be, either the diminution of the authority of the Bishop of Rome,2 or else the reprobation of the King's first pretensed matrimony.3 But if they do obstinately persist in their opinions of the preamble, yet meseemeth it should not be refused, if they will be sworn to the very Act of succession: so that they will be sworn to maintain the same against all powers and potentates. For hereby shall be a great occasion to satisfy the Princess Dowager and the Lady Mary, which do think they should damn their souls, if they should abandon and relinquish their estates. And not only it should stop the mouths of them, but also of the Emperor, and other their friends, if they give as much credence to my Lord of Rochester and Master More, speaking and doing against them, as they hitherto have done and thought that all other should have done, when they spake and did with them. And peradventure it should be a good quietation to many other within this realm, if such men should say, that the succession, comprised within the said Act, is good and according to God's laws. For then I think there is not one within this realm, that would once reclaim against it. And whereas divers persons, either of a wilfulness will not, or of an indurate and invertible conscience cannot alter from their opinions of the King's first pretensed marriage, (wherein they have once said their minds, and percase have a persuasion in their heads, that if they should now vary therefrom, their fame and estimation were distained for ever,) or else of the authority of the Bishop of Rome: yet if all the realm with one accord would apprehend the said succession, in my judgment it is a thing to be amplected and embraced. Which thing, although I trust surely in God that it shall be brought to pass, yet hereunto might not a little avail the consent and oaths of these two persons, the Bishop of Rochester and Master More, with their adherents, or rather confederates. And if the King's pleasure so were, their said oaths might be suppressed, but when and where his Highness might take some commodity by the publishing of the same. Thus our Lord have you ever in his conservation. From my manor at Croydon, the xvii day of April.
Your own assured ever,
1. For the
full treatment, see excerpt from Burnet, More and Fisher
Refuse the Oath of Succession.
2. i.e., the pope.
3. Henry VIII's first marriage, to Catherine of Aragon.
4. Thomas Cantuariensis, i.e., Thomas of Canterbury.
To King Henry VIII, 1536*
Pleaseth it your Grace to
be advertised, that I have received news out of Rome, from one named John
Bianket, a Bononois born, some time my servant, and now servant unto the
Cardinal1 which was late bishop of Worcester, Ellis, and more privy with him of
all secrets than any other about him. And among other things thus he writeth:
"The Pope has called hither many prelates2 for matters concerning the
Council, among whom is Mr. Raynold Pole3 made much of and much set by, and
received of the Pope himself very gladly. And because the saying is, that the
King had sent for him home into England, and desired him, and promised him also
great things if he would come, or at the least if that he would not go to Rome;4
he now is come hither, not regarding the King's desire, promise, nor threats.
And here men do esteem and think surely that the Pope will make him cardinal,
and now he hath given him lodgings for himself within the palace, and will have
him near him.
"And among those great men that be here for this matter, the selfsame Raynold Pole is here truly most esteemed and most set by of all. And doubtless they be all5 singular fellows, and such as ever absented themselves from the Court, desiring to live holily: as the Bishop of Verona, the Bishop of Chiete, the Archbishop of Salerne, the Bishop of Carpentras, otherwise called Sadoletus, and many other that now be here, for ... to consult these matters of the Council; the which I cannot see how it can go forward, as long as the matters of war kindled between the princes are unquenched, without whom it is like that it cannot go forward. Nevertheless there be sent messengers to intimate the Council through Christendom, leaving you apart, to whom they will intimate it there in writing and in citations. Friar Denis, which wrote on the King's side, being now General of the religion, cometh as ambassador from the Pope towards the King of Scotts.
"The Emperor6 is now in Genoa, and many princes, specially the Duke of Florence"7 go to see him, and to show themselves glad that he is arrived there safe and in good health; which chanced but to a few gentlemen, which be almost all sick.8
"There is entreaty made for peace all that may be, and it seemeth that the Frenchmen have good hope therein; for they have left off war, and have no more men in Italy now but Guido Rangone his men, and those of Turin; which as yet they hold, with certain other castles. And the Pope is fervent and hot in entreating of this peace.9"Here have I written the very words of the letter, as I did translate them out of Italian into English, as near as I could word for word, which I can do no less than signify unto your Highness, forsomuch as there be some things concerning the General Council and Mr. Raynold Pole, whereof I thought it my duty to give notice unto your Grace. And thus I beseech the mighty Lord of lords to strengthen and preserve your Grace ever, and to resist and suppress all your Highness's adversaries with your rebel and untrue subjects.10 At Knoll, the 18th day of November 1536.
Your Grace's most humble
chaplain and beadsman, T. Cantuarien11
To the King's Highness.
* Mr. Todd
[The Life of Archbishop Cranmer] has assigned this Letter to 1533; Mr.
Ellis [Original Letters, Illustrative of English History] has given it no
date, but has placed it among papers of 1535. The historical events which it
mentions, sufficiently prove it to have been written in 1536. See the following
1. Jerome de Ghinucci, deprived, together with Campegio, by Act of Parliament in 1534. He had been employed by Hen. VIII. in many embassies, and had the reputation of having served him faithfully. Burnet, The History of the Reformation of the Church of England, vol. i. p. 301.
2. Pope Paul III. by a bull issued the 2nd of June 1536, summoned a Council to meet at Mantua on the 23rd of May 1537. As a previous measure, he assembled at Rome "persons of known abilities to concert means of facilitating a happy issue to so necessary and arduous an undertaking." Mosheim, Cent. xvi. Sect. 1. §. 9. Phillips, Life of Pole, p. 135.
3. See Reginald Pole.
4. Reginald, in obedience to Paul's III's orders, was now set out from Venice in his way to Rome, when a courier from England overtook him at Verona. The news of his journey had already reached the King's ears, and the courier came furnished with every argument to disconcert it. Lord Cromwell expressed himself by nothing but threats and inventions: Tunstall renewed his objections to the papal authority: but the other letters were eloquent indeed, being from the Countess of Salisbury his mother, and his brother Lord Montague; in which they entreated him, by all the ties of duty and affection, to desist from a step which was so displeasing to the King." Phillips, Life of Pole, p. 137.
5. These were doubtless the same distinguished men, who, on the prorogation of the Council, were directed by the Pope to digest a plan of reformation. They were nine in number. "Pole was in the thirty-sixth year of his age, and the youngest of all his associates: and though they were men of the first character for learning and probity, yet he was the directing mind that governed the whole, and alone drew up the plan of reformation, the substance of which had been the joint labours of them all; and when it was printed some years after, it appeared in his name, without any mention of his colleagues." Phillips, Life of Pole. The names of the Commissioners and an abstract of their plan may be seen in Sleidan, De Statu Religionis, lib. xii.
6. Charles V. went to Genoa on his return from his disastrous campaign in Provence. "As he could not bear to expose himself to the scorn of the Italians after such a sad reverse of fortune, he embarked directly for Spain," in Nov. 1536. Robertson, Hist. of Charles V. b. vi.
7. Alexander de Medici, who was assassinated in the beginning of 1537 by his nearest kinsman, Lorenzo. Robertson, ibid.
8. Charles V. had lost one half of his troops by disease or famine. Robertson, ibid.
9. "The Pope made it his business to procure a cessation of arms in Italy and other places. First therefore the truce was agreed upon for a certain time; when that was expired, it was continued for another; till at last a peace was made. Now the Pope's design in reconciling these princes, was to persuade them to join their forces against his mortal enemy the King of England, and against the Lutherans." Sleidan, b. xi. This peace, or rather truce for ten years between Charles and Francis, was concluded in June 1538. Sleidan, b. xii.
10. The rising in Lincolnshire had been put down, but the formidable rebellion in Yorkshire [see Pilgrimage of Grace] under Aske, was still raging in Nov. 1536. See Lord Herbert, Life of Hen. VIII, and State Papers, vol. i. p. 511.
11. Thomas Cantuariensis, i.e., Thomas of Canterbury.
To King Henry VIII, 1536
On May 2, 1536, Archbishop Cranmer was summoned to Lambeth Palace by Thomas Cromwell, to await the King's pleasure. On the following day, he learned of Queen Anne Boleyn's arrest and was shocked. Doubtless, there were others in positions of power who also questioned the Queen's purported guilt, but only Cranmer risked King Henry VIII's displeasure and spoke out on her behalf
Pleaseth it your most noble Grace to be advertised, that at your Grace's
commandment by Mr. Secretary's letters, written in your Grace's name, I came to
Lambeth yesterday, and do there remain to know your Grace's farther pleasure.
And forsomuch as, without your Grace's commandment, I dare not, contrary to the
contents of the said letters, presume to come unto your Grace's presence;
nevertheless, of my most bounden duty, I can do no less than most humbly to
desire your Grace, by your great wisdom, and by the assistance of God's help,
somewhat to suppress the deep sorrow of your Grace's heart, and to take all
adversities of God's hand both patiently and thankfully. I cannot deny but your
Grace hath great causes many ways of lamentable heaviness: and also that, in the
wrongful estimation of the world, your Grace's honour of every part is highly
touched (whether the things that commonly be spoken of be true or not), that I
remember not that ever Almighty God sent unto your Grace any like occasion to
try your Grace's constancy throughout, whether your Highness can be content to
take of God's hand, as well things displeasant as pleasant. And if he find in
your most noble heart such an obedience unto his will, that your Grace without
murmuration and overmuch heaviness, do accept all adversities, not less thanking
him than when all things succeed after your Grace's will and pleasure, nor less
procuring his glory and honour; then I suppose your Grace did never thing more
acceptable unto him, since your first governance of this your realm. And
moreover, your Grace shall give unto him occasion to multiply and increase his
graces and benefits unto your highness, as he did unto his most faithful servant
Job; unto whom, after his great calamities and heaviness, for his obedient heart,
and willing acceptation of God's scourge and rod, addidit ei Dominus cuncta
"And if it be true, that is openly reported of the Queen's Grace, if men had a right estimation of things, they should not esteem any part of your Grace's honour to be touched thereby, but her honour only to be clearly disparaged. And I am in such a perplexity, that my mind is clean amazed: for I never had better opinion in woman than I had in her; which maketh me to think that she should not be culpable. And again, I think your highness would not have gone so far, except she had surely been culpable. Now I think that your Grace best knoweth, that, next unto your Grace, I was most bound unto her of all creatures living. Wherefore, I most humbly beseech your Grace, to suffer me in that, which both God's law, nature, and also her kindness bindeth me unto; that is, that I may with your Grace's favour, wish and pray for her, that she may declare herself inculpable and innocent. And if she be found culpable, considering your Grace's goodness towards her, and from what condition your Grace of your only mere goodness took her, and set the crown upon her head; I repute him not your Grace's faithful servant and subject, nor true unto the realm, that would not desire the offence without mercy to be punished, to the example of all other. And as I loved her not a little, for the love which I judged her to bear towards God and his gospel; so, if she be proved culpable, there is not one that loveth God and his gospel that ever will favour her, but must hate her above all other; and the more they favour the gospel, the more they will hate her: for then there was never creature in our time that so much slandered the gospel. And God hath sent her this punishment, for that she feignedly hath professed his gospel in her mouth, and not in heart and deed. And though she have offended so, that she hath deserved never to be reconciled unto your Grace's favour; yet Almighty God hath manifoldly declared his goodness towards your Grace, and never offended you. But your Grace, I am sure, acknowledgeth that you have offended him. Wherefore, I trust that your Grace will bear no less entire favour unto the truth of the gospel than you did before: forsomuch as your Grace's favour to the gospel was not led by affection unto her, but by zeal unto the truth. And thus I beseech Almighty God, whose gospel he hath ordained your Grace to be defender of, ever to preserve your Grace from all evil, and give you at the end the promise of his gospel. From Lambeth, the 3d day of May.
"After I had written this letter unto your Grace, my Lord Chancellor, my Lord Oxford, my Lord of Sussex, and my Lord Chamberlain of your Grace's house, sent for me to come unto the Star-Chamber; and there declared unto me such things as your Grace's pleasure was they should make me privy unto. For the which I am most bounden unto your Grace. And what communication we had together, I doubt not but they will make the true report thereof unto your Grace. I am exceedingly sorry that such faults can be proved by the Queen, as I heard of their relation. But I am, and ever shall be, your faithful subject.
"Your Grace's Humble subject and chaplain, T. Cantuariensis"
To Thomas Cromwell, 1537
My especial good Lord, after most hearty commendations unto your lordship; these
shall be to signify unto the same, that you shall receive by the bringer thereof
a Bible1 in English, both of a new translation and of a new print, dedicated
unto the King's Majesty, as farther appeareth by a pistle unto his Grace in the
beginning of the book, which in mine opinion is very well done, and therefore I
pray your lordship to read the same. And as for the translation, so far asI have
read thereof, I like it better than any other translation heretofore made; yet
not doubting but that there may and will be found some fault therein, as you
know no man ever did or can do so well, but it may be from time to time amended.
And forasmuch as the book is dedicated unto the King's Grace, and also great pains and labour taken in setting forth of the same, I pray you, my lord, that you will exhibit the book unto the King's Highness, and to obtain of his Grace, if you can, a license that the same may be sold and read of every person, without danger of any act, proclamation, or ordinance heretofore granted to the contrary, until such time that we the bishops shall set forth a better translation, which I think will not be till a day after doomsday. And if you continue to take such pains for the setting forth of God's word, as you do, although in the mean season you suffer some snubs, and many slanders, lies, and reproaches for the same, yet one day He will requite altogether. And the same word (as St. John saith) which shall judge every man at the last day, must needs show favour to them that now do favour it. Thus, my lord, right heartily fare you well. At Forde, the ivth day of August 1537.
Your assured ever, T.
Commonly called Matthew's Bible, but in fact translated by Tyndale, Coverdale,
and Rogers. It was printed by R. Grafton and E. Whitchurch in 1537.
2. Thomas Cantuariensis, i.e., Thomas of Canterbury.
To Thomas Cromwell, 1537
My very singular good Lord, in my most hearty wise I commend me unto your lordship. And whereas I understand that your lordship, at my request, hath not only exhibited the Bible which I sent unto you, to the King's Majesty, but also hath obtained of his Grace, that the same shall be allowed by his authority to be bought and read within this realm; my lord, for this your pain, taken in this behalf, I give unto you my most hearty thanks: assuring your lordship, for the contentation of my mind, you have showed me more pleasure herein, than if you had given me a thousand pound; and I doubt not but that hereby such fruit of good knowledge shall ensue, that it shall well appear hereafter, what high and acceptable service you have done unto God and the King. Which shall so much redound to your honour, that besides God's reward, you shall obtain perpetual memory for the same within this realm. And as for me, you may reckon me your bondman for the same. And I dare be bold to say, so may ye do my Lord of Wurceiter.1 Thus, my lord, right heartily fare ye well. At Forde, the xiiith day of August 1537.
Your own bound man ever, T. Cantuarien2
Latimer, Bishop of Worcester.
2. Thomas Cantuariensis, i.e., Thomas of Canterbury.
Tto King Henry VIII, 1540
Regarding Thomas Cromwell1
I heard yesterday in your
Grace's Council, that he [Crumwell] is a traitor, yet who cannot be sorrowful
and amazed that he should be a traitor against your Majesty, he that was so
advanced by your Majesty; he whose surety was only by your Majesty; he who loved
your Majesty, as I ever thought, no less than God; he who studied always to set
forwards whatsoever was your Majesty's will and pleasure; he that cared for no
man's displeasure to serve your Majesty; he that was such a servant in my
judgmentt, in wisdom, diligence, faithfulness, and experience, as no prince in
this realm ever had; he that was so vigilant to preserve your Majesty from all
treasons, that few could be so secretly conceived, but he detected the same in
the beginning? If the noble princes of memory, King John, Henry the Second, and
Richard II had had such a counsellor about them, I suppose that they should
never have been so traitorously abandoned, and overthrown as those good princes
were... I loved him as my friend, for so I took him to be; but I chiefly loved
him for the love which I thought I saw him bear ever towards your Grace,
singularly above all other. But now, if he be a traitor, I am sorry that ever I
loved him or trusted him, and I am very glad that his treason is discovered in
time; but yet again I am very sorrowful; for who shall your Grace trust
hereafter, if you might not trust him? Alas! I bewail and lament your Grace's
chance herein, I wot not whom your Grace may trust. But I pray God continually
night and day, to send such a counsellor in his place whom your Grace may trust,
and who for all his qualities can and will serve your Grace like to him, and
that will have so much solicitude and care to preserve your Grace from all
dangers as I ever thought he had... 14 June 1540.
1. It is much to be regretted that this Letter has not been found entire. The fragment here printed, which is justly characterized by Sir James Mackintosh as being very earnest and persuasive, has been preserved by Lord Herbert (in Life of Henry VIII, p. 519). Crumwell was beheaded about six weeks afterwards, on the 28th of July 1540.
To King Henry VIII, 1541
Regarding Queen Catherine Howard1
It may please your Majesty to understand, that at my repair unto the Queen's Grace,2 I found herein such lamentation and heaviness, as I never saw no creature; so that it would have pitied any man's heart in the world to have looked upon her; and in that vehement rage she continued, as they informed me which be about her, from my departure from her unto my return again; and then I found her, as I do suppose, far entered toward a frenzy, which I feared before my departure from her at my first being with her; and surely, if your Grace's comfort had not come in time, she could have continued no long time in that condition without a frenzy, which, nevertheless, I do yet much suspect to follow hereafter.
And as for my message from your Majesty unto her, I was purposed to enter communication in this wise; first, to exaggerate the grievousness of her demerits; then to declare unto her the justice of your Grace's laws, and what she ought to suffer by the same; and last of all to signify unto her your most gracious mercy: but when I saw in what condition she was, I was fain to turn my purpose, and to begin at the last part first, to comfort her by your Grace's benignity and mercy; for else the recital of your Grace's laws, with the aggravation of her offences, might, peradventure, have driven her unto some dangerous ecstasy, and else into a very frenzy; so that the words of comfort coming last might peradventure have come too late. And after I had declared your Grace's mercy extended unto her, she held up her hands and gave most humble thanks unto your Majesty, who had showed unto her more grace and mercy,3 than she herself thought meet to sue for or could have hoped of; and then, for a time, she began to be more temperate and quiet, saving that she still sobbed and wept; but after a little pausing she suddenly fell into a new rage, much worse than she was before.
Now I do use her thus; when I do see her in any such extreme brayds,4 I do travail with her to know the cause, and then, as much as I can, I do labour to take away, or at the least to mitigate the cause; and so I did at that time. I told her there was some new fantasy come into her head, which I desired her to open unto me; and after a certain time, when she had recovered herself that she might speak, she cried and said, 'Alas, my lord, that I am alive, the fear of death grieved me not so much before, as doth now the remembrance of the King's goodness; for when I remember how gracious and loving a Prince I had, I cannot but sorrow; but this sudden mercy, and more than I could have looked for, showed unto me, so unworthy at this time, maketh mine offences to appear before mine eyes much more heinous than they did before: and the more I consider the greatness of his mercy, the more I do sorrow in my heart that I should so misorder myself against his Majesty.' And for any thing that I could say unto her, she continued in a great pang a long while, but after that she began something to remit her rage and come to herself, she was meetly well until night, and I had very good communication with her, and, as I thought, had brought her unto a great quietness.
Nevertheless, at night, about six of the clock, she fell into another like pang, but not so outrageous as the first was; and that was, as she showed me, for the remembrance of the time; for about that time, as she said, Master Hennage was wont to bring her knowledge of your Grace.
And because I lack time to write all things unto your Majesty, I have referred other things to be opened by the mouth of this bearer, Sir John Dudlay; saving that I have sent herewith enclosed all that I can get of her concerning any communication of matrimony with Derame; which, although it be not so much as I thought, yet I suppose, surely, it is sufficient to prove a contract, with carnal copulation following; although she think it be no contract, as indeed the words alone be not, if carnal copulation had not followed thereof.
The cause that Master Baynton5 sent unto your Majesty, was partly for the declaration of her estate, and partly because, after my departure from her, she began to excuse and to temper those things which she had spoken unto me, and set her hand thereto;6 as at my coming unto your Majesty I shall more fully declare by mouth; for she saith, that all that Derame did unto her was of his importune forcement, and, in a manner, violence, rather than of her free consent and will. Thus Almighty God have your Majesty in his preservation and governance. Nov. 1541.
From, Your Grace's most bounden chaplain, T. Cantuarien.
To the King's Majesty.
Original of this Letter, preserved in the State Paper Office, is entirely in the
2. Catharine Howard. According to the official statement sent on the 14th of Nov. to the English Ambassador in France, the Queen"was spoken withal in it by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lord Chancellor, the Duke of Norfolk, the Lord Great Chamberlain of England, and the Bishop of Winchester; to whom at the first she "constantly denied it; but the matter being so declared unto her, that she perceived it to be wholly disclosed, the same night she disclosed the whole to the Archbishop of Canterbury, who took the confession of the same in writing, subscribed with her hand." Lord Herbert, Life of Hen. VIII. p. 534. The interview described in this Letter of Cranmer's seems to have been subsequent to her first confession, and was perhaps the same at which she signed the paper printed by Burnet, History of the Reformation. vol. iii. App. B. iii. No. 72. Much new correspondence on this subject has lately been published in the State Papers, vol. i. p. 689.
3. This boasted " mercy," as is well known, was no obstacle to her execution. She was beheaded, together with Lady Rochford, on the 12th of February following. Derham and Culpeper were executed on the 10th of December 1541.
4. Impassioned outburst.
5. It was the King's pleasure that Baynton "should attend on the Queen, to have the rule and government of the whole house; and with him the Almoner [Nicholas Hethe] to be also associate." Letter from the Council to Cranmer in State Papers, vol. i. p. 692.
6. This is probably the document printed by Burnet, Ref. vol. iii. App. B. iii. No. 72. which is signed by Catharine Howard, and which relates chiefly to her contract of matrimony with Derham. Though this precontract was the point to which Cranmer's attention was chiefly directed, the Lord Chancellor was strictly charged, in declaring the Queen's misconduct to the Privy Council, to omit all mention of it. And it is also altogether passed over in the official account sent to the ambassadors. The object of the omission is admitted to have been, "to engreave the misdemeanour," by suppressing what "might serve for her defence." Cranmer probably on the other hand wished to strengthen this defence, and to save her life by obtaining grounds for a divorce. See State Papers, vol. i. p. 692; Lord Herbert, Life of Henry VIII, p. 532.