CHAPTER IX. HENRY VIII (v), 1533-40 - MALLEUS MONACHORUM

[Sidenote 1: Progressive Movement] [Sidenote 2: The Ten Articles]

Although, however, there had been no revolt from orthodox doctrine the course of the Reformation abroad could not be without influence in England. There was a growing inclination to think and speak of minor questions as being debatable; an increasing suspicion on one side that the spread of knowledge and of discussion tended to heresy and to irreverence - on the other, that they tended to edification. In theory the leading ecclesiastics agreed that an authorised translation of the Bible would be good, but half of them were afraid that it would lead to novel and dangerous interpretations. The general attitude may be regarded as one of uneasiness. Hence the commission appointed under Cranmer's auspices did little; and Cranmer himself, whose heart was really in the scheme, was overjoyed [Footnote: Dr. Gairdner (Eng. Church, p. 192) thinks however that it was Matthew's Bible, issued next year, to which Cranmer's expressions of satisfaction were applied.] when Coverdale produced a rendering to which an authoritative imprimatur could be given. The general sense of unrest, aggravated perhaps by some alarm lest the Augsburg Confession should attract adherents - especially since the Lutherans had been told that there might be room for its discussion - led to the enunciation of the first of the Anglican formulae of Faith, known as the Ten Articles "for establishing Christian Quietness," in July 1536: professedly prepared by the King's own hand. These Articles contained no deviation from orthodox dogma; but their most notable feature lay in the distinction drawn between institutions necessary and convenient, with the implication that the latter were liable to modification.

[The Lincolnshire rising]

The issuing of these Articles with the sanction alike of King, Parliament, and Convocation, was probably intended to counteract the alarm attendant on the visitation and suppression of the monasteries. Those institutions, though not popular in cities, and viewed with jealousy by the secular clergy, provided in many country districts the only existing charitable or educational organisations; and moreover, whatever their defects were in the eyes of the Economist, they were much more lenient landlords than the average lay landowner. It would have been strange indeed if some of the dispersed monks had not allowed their tongues to wag, to the stirring up of alarm and discontent. In the autumn of this year, the effect of these things were seen in a rising in Lincolnshire. This was promptly suppressed without any undue tenderness either of speech or action; but it was very soon followed by the much more significant and formidable insurrection in the North, known as the Pilgrimage of Grace.

[The Pilgrimage of Grace]

The insurgents were headed by a very remarkable man, a lawyer named Robert Aske of a good North-country family. He had taken no part in inciting rebellion; but the position of leader was thrust upon him, and as it would seem not unwillingly accepted. His abilities were great: the rising was organised with much skill, and with wonderful system and discipline. Yet Aske's very virtues unfitted him for his office under the existing conditions. He was honest himself; he wished to avoid bloodshed: what he sought was the remedying of genuine grievances. As with the Lincolnshire insurgents, this meant the restoration of the monasteries, the removal of evil councillors, notably Cromwell, the removal of the advanced bishops, such as Cranmer and Latimer, the remission of a tax granted in 1534 which a commission was collecting, the repeal of a recent land-act ("Statute of Uses") which had increased the difficulty of providing younger sons with sufficient endowments, the restoration to the Church of revenues lately attached by the Crown. All over the North, cities and strongholds fell into the hands of Aske's followers without a blow. With thirty thousand well equipped and fairly disciplined troops he advanced to the Don, where he was faced by Norfolk with a far smaller force.

[Sidenote 1: Aske beguiled] [Sidenote 2: 1537 Suppression of the rising]