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

It was then that Aske committed his fatal but noble error. Had he struck then, he could in all probability have marched triumphantly to London and have dictated his own terms. But he did not wish to strike. He sought a conference, and laid his proposals before Norfolk. Norfolk temporised, and referred the proposals to London. The insurgents were allowed to believe that they would be pardoned, and their demands be essentially conceded. The nobles and gentry among them were appealed to privately; Norfolk even sought to get Aske betrayed into his hands. Aske still would not give up the hope of a peaceful solution. At last in December the King gave Norfolk powers to concede a free pardon and a Parliament at York; but there is no doubt that Norfolk's statements to the insurgents gave the totally different impression that they could count upon the fulfilment of their demands. By the King's command the leaders went South to be personally interviewed, and returned in sanguine mood. But their army was breaking up, and it was very soon apparent that in fact the North was being rapidly garrisoned for the King. The pardons were accompanied by a new oath of allegiance which showed very clearly that the grievances were not going to be remedied. Wild spirits broke out again in deeds of violence. By this time, the royal armies were in a position to strike. It was declared that the conditions of the pardon had been violated; the insurgents had now no prospect of making head in the field. Hangings were freely resorted to; Aske and other leaders were seized and executed: an impressive series of abbots and priors was among the victims. And so, early in 1537, ended the one formidable insurrection of Henry's reign.

[The rising turned to account]

Not only had half the nobility and gentry of the North been seriously implicated in the rising; the clergy had taken active part in fomenting it. Being followed up by a visitation from Cromwell's most energetic commissioners, such guilt as there had been was presented in the strongest colours and was made a new ground for Suppression, or the application of the drastic regulations which induced voluntary surrender; and at the same time pains were taken to impress the Ten Articles on the public mind. These were supplemented by the publication of the "Institution of a Christian Man" otherwise known as the "Bishops' Book"; in which some points which had been omitted or left vague in the Articles were laid down with a more defined orthodoxy, though the prelates of every shade of opinion had their share in the work. On the other hand, the preparation of an authorised version of the Scriptures was going forward. In spite of Cromwell's Injunction that the Bible should be set up in English and Latin in the Churches, Coverdale's work had not been adopted; and though this was followed by "Matthew's Bible," a combination of Tindal's and Coverdale's, in 1537, it was not till the issue of the revised version, known on account of its size as the Great Bible, more than a year later, that the injunction was given general effect.

[1533-36 James V.]

Abroad, the reluctant but anxious desire to maintain friendly relations with England which attended the domination of Wolsey had practically disappeared since the Cardinal's fall. From 1529 to 1536, there had been no prospect of a reconciliation between Henry and Charles; Francis had only at intervals been disposed to make advances; the demeanour of the Lutheran princes had been cold at the best. In Scotland, the young King, who only attained his majority in 1533, displayed that lack of confidence in the disinterested generosity of England which seems to be always a cause of pained surprise to the English politicians and historians. In fact it was his firm and extremely natural conviction that his uncle was responsible for keeping the whole border country in a perpetual state of unrest, fomenting the rivalries of the Scottish nobility, and generally promoting disorder, in order to bring about the subordination of the Northern to the Southern kingdom. The clerical body in Scotland, which had always been most energetic in maintaining resistance to England, was of course rendered more Anglophobe than ever by Henry's ecclesiastical policy; and its influence was strong, since it had done a good deal in the way of fighting James's battles with his nobles. Henry proposed a conference with his nephew, to be held at York, in 1538; James had at first welcomed the proposal, but presently evaded it in the belief that his uncle would kidnap him, as he had before designed to kidnap Beton. Instead he went to France, to arrange a marriage with a daughter of Francis; and on his return was reported to have given encouragement to the North-country rebels.

[1536-37 Naval measures]

Meantime, in the Channel, the estimation in which England was held had been shown by the increasingly piratical proceedings of French, Spanish, and Flemish ships; since of late Henry's hands had been too full for him to give clue attention to naval affairs. Now however the opportunity was taken to devote some of the monastic funds to coast defence. A series of forts was raised, commanding the principal harbours on the south coast; and a few ships, secretly prepared, were suddenly sent out under competent captains, to teach the channel pirates a lesson in English seamanship; which was very effectively accomplished.

[Sidenote 1: 1537 Birth of Prince Edward] [Sidenote 2: Marriage projects]