CHAPTER V. HENRY VIII (i), 1509-27 - EGO ET REX MEUS
Two years before, when Parliament had been called, it had been induced to vote the money asked for. But (according to Hall) the Speaker, Sir Thomas More, had taken the opportunity to resist Wolsey's high-handed methods, to insist on parliamentary privileges, and to refuse to debate the matter in the Cardinal's presence, though he actually exerted his influence in favour of the grant. To repeat the demand now would be to risk rebellion; at the best, to court an inevitable refusal. Therefore Wolsey reverted to ancient precedents, and demanded an "Amicable Loan," on the ground that the King was going to lead his armies, and must therefore go fittingly equipped. The loan was to amount to about one-sixth of a man's property. Very soon however it became clear that this was more than the country would endure. Wolsey revoked the demand and called for a "Benevolence". London replied that benevolences were illegal, by reason of the statute of Richard III. Wolsey protested against appealing to the laws of a tyrant; but the Londoners remarked that the fact of Richard having been a tyrant did not annul the excellence of good laws when he made them. In Norwich the aggrieved populace assembled in force, and presented their case allegorically, but convincingly, to the Duke of Norfolk, who was sent to deal with them. The Cardinal's attempt to raise money was a failure. The King grasped the situation and remitted the demand, taking all the credit for his clemency, while his minister had the odium for the proposal. For the first time, Wolsey had failed to carry his master's wishes through, for the simple reason that the task set him was an impossible one. The soundness of his own antagonism to the French war was conclusively demonstrated, since without the funds war could not be waged: but the cost of the demonstration was the increase of his unpopularity, and an appreciable diminution of Henry's favour. He did what he could to mollify the King by presenting him with his palace of Hampton Court - a present graciously accepted.
[Sidenote 1: A diplomatic struggle] [Sidenote 2: 1526-27 Success of Wolsey]
Now, however, a rapprochement with France was again possible. Charles and Wolsey returned to the attitude of mutually desiring nothing so much as to prove their complete accord, their own anxiety to fulfil all obligations, provided only that the other would reasonably recognise his own obligations in return. Each wanted to extract what he could from Francis without regard to his ally: each wanted an excuse for evading his contract with that ally - the Emperor because he now perceived the more immediate pecuniary profit of the Portuguese marriage. In the diplomatic contest Wolsey had the advantage, that Charles, in spite of Pavia, could not bring the necessary pressure to bear on his captive, if the support of England was felt to be withdrawn. He had something to lose by an open breach: Wolsey had not - provided the responsibility for the breach could plausibly be laid on Charles. Moreover, although the French King was the Emperor's prisoner, the French Government was much less bitterly opposed to the English demand for money than to the Imperial demand for territory. Thus by the end of the year Wolsey achieved his end - a treaty with France, involving the payment of two million crowns to England, and including Scotland in its terms. Charles being isolated made his own peace with his prisoner in the following February (1526); but Francis, before signing, declared that his promises were extorted and not binding, and after his release repudiated their validity. The Cardinal in fact had extricated England from a very awkward situation, recovered her position as arbiter, and once more made the rival European monarchs feel that they could neither of them afford to have her definitely ranged as an enemy. As the year advanced, the tendency for the French alliance to draw closer, and for the Imperial alliance to dissolve became more marked. Charles, in his desire to dominate Italy, allowed a Spanish force to enter Rome and terrorise the Pope - though he disavowed their actions. In 1527, while he was continuing this policy, and preparing for the sack of Rome and the seizure of the Pope's person in May, Wolsey was carrying through a new French alliance, by which Orleans (afterwards Henry II.) was betrothed to the Princess Mary, and France not only bound herself to make heavy payments but also surrendered Boulogne and Ardres. It seemed as though the isolation of Charles was about to be completed, his opponents becoming the champions of the papacy - while his own antagonism to the Pope had been emphasised at the Diet of Spires by the withdrawal of the anti-Lutheran decrees, and the temporary recognition of each State's right to adopt or reject the Reformer's doctrines in its own territories.
[1527 A new factor]
But in 1527 Henry had developed a single purpose; he had set his mind on one object to the achievement whereof every political consideration was to be subordinated. The state-craft of the great minister was dominated by and subjected to the king-craft of a master who never brooked opposition to his will; and Wolsey, failing to carry out that will, was hurled without remorse from his high estate. The Cardinal's fall, the breach with Rome, the defining of the shape which the Reformation was to take in England, were all the outcome of Henry's resolve to be released from the wife to whom he had been wedded for eighteen years. Hitherto we have made only incidental allusion to the Reformation; it is now time to examine the development of that movement, down to the moment when Henry took into his own hands the conduct of it within his own realms.