CHAPTER II. THE RELIGIOUS CHANGES UNDER HENRY VIII. AND EDWARD VI.
One other matter was considered by Cranmer as necessary for the success of the new religious settlement, namely, the publication of an authoritative creed for the English Church. The great diversity of opinion in the country, the frantic appeals of men like Hooper who had tried in vain to make an unwilling clergy accept their own dogmatic standard, and the striking success of the Council of Trent in vindicating Catholic doctrine, made it necessary to show the English people what could be done by the supreme head of the Church at home even though he was only a helpless boy. In 1549 Cranmer drew up a series of Articles to be accepted by all preachers in his diocese. These he submitted to the body of the bishops in 1551, and later at the request of the privy council to a commission of six amongst whom was John Knox. They were returned with annotations to Cranmer, who having revised them besought the council to authorise their publication. Finally in June 1553 Edward VI., four weeks before his death, approved them, and commanded that they should be accepted by all his subjects. The Forty-two Articles represented the first attempt to provide the English Church with a distinct dogmatic creed. In the title page it was stated that the Articles had been agreed upon "by the bishops and other learned and godly men in the last Convocation held in London in the year of Our Lord 1552"; but notwithstanding this very explicit statement, it is now practically certain that the Articles were never submitted to or approved by Convocation. In other words, as Gairdner puts it, the title page is "nothing but a shameful piece of official mendacity" resorted to in order to deceive the people, and to prevent them from being influenced by the successful work accomplished by the Fathers of Trent.
The Duke of Northumberland, who had scrambled into power on the shoulders of the Catholic party, deserted his former allies, and went over completely to the party of Cranmer, Ridley, and Hooper. Taking advantage of England's peaceful relations with France and Scotland and of the difficulties of the Emperor in Germany, he had risked everything to make England a Protestant nation. He had removed the bishops whose influence he feared, and had packed the episcopal bench with his own nominees. He had destroyed the altars and burned the missals to show his contempt for the Mass, and his firm resolve to uproot the religious beliefs of the English people. So determined were he and his friends to enforce the new religious service that even the Princess Mary was forbidden to have Mass celebrated in her presence, and her chaplains were prosecuted for disobeying the king's law. Once indeed the Emperor felt it necessary to intervene in defence of his kinswoman, and to warn the council that if any attempt were made to prevent her from worshipping as she pleased, he would feel it necessary to recall his ambassador and to declare war (1551). The situation was decidedly embarrassing, and the council resolved to seek the advice of Cranmer, Ridley, and Hooper. The bishops replied that though to give licence to sin was sinful Mary's disobedience might be winked at for the time. The suggestion was followed by the council, but later on when the Emperor's hands were tied by the troubles in Germany, the attempt to overawe the princess was renewed. Mary, however, showed the true Tudor spirit of independence, and, as it would have been dangerous to imprison her or to behead her, she was not pushed to extremes.
In 1553 it was clear to Northumberland that Edward VI. could not long survive, and that with his death and the succession of Mary, his own future and the future of the religious settlement for which he had striven would be gravely imperilled. In defiance therefore of the late king's will, and of what he knew to be the wishes of the English people, for all through Edward's reign the Princess Mary was a great favourite with the nation, he determined to secure the succession for Lady Jane Grey, the grand-daughter of Henry VIII.'s sister Mary. Such a succession, he imagined, would guarantee his own safety and the triumph of Protestantism, more especially as he took care to bring about a marriage between the prospective queen and his son, Lord Guildford Dudley. When everything had been arranged the Chief Justice and the two leading law officers of the crown were summoned to the bedside of the dying king, and instructed to draw up a deed altering the succession. They implored the king to abandon such a project, and pointed out that it was illegal and would involve everyone concerned in it in the guilt of treason, but Northumberland's violence overcame their scruples, particularly as their own safety was assured by a commission under the great seal and a promise of pardon. When the document was drawn up it was signed by the king, the judges, and the members of the council. Cranmer hesitated on the ground that he had sworn to uphold the will of Henry VIII., but as the situation was a desperate one, he agreed finally to follow the example that had been set (June 1553). The preachers were instructed to prepare the people for the change by denouncing both Mary and Elizabeth as bastards. On the 6th July Edward VI. died at Greenwich, but his death was kept a secret until Northumberland's plans could be matured. Four days later Lady Jane Grey arrived in London, and the proclamation of her accession to the throne was received with ominous silence in the streets of the capital. - - - - -