CHAPTER II. THE RELIGIOUS CHANGES UNDER HENRY VIII. AND EDWARD VI.
Clement VII., while not unwilling to grant the dispensation requested, did not think it consistent with his own honour or that of the king, to grant the commission according to the terms drawn up for him in England. A new embassy, consisting of Edward Foxe, and Dr. Stephen Gardiner, Wolsey's secretary, was dispatched, and arrived at Orvieto in March 1528. The victorious progress of the French armies in Italy (1527-28), by relieving Clement VII. from the pressure of the imperial party, favoured the petition of Henry VIII. Arguments drawn from canon law and from theology were driven home by Gardiner with a fluency and wealth of knowledge that astonished the papal advisers, and when arguments failed, recourse was had to threats of an appeal to a general council, and of the complete separation of England from the Holy See. The decretal commission demanded by the English ambassadors was, however, refused; but, in its place, a decree was issued empowering Cardinal Wolsey and Cardinal Campeggio to try the case in England and to pronounce a verdict in accordance with the evidence submitted to them. As this fell very far short of what had been demanded by the English envoys, new demands were made for a more ample authority for the commission, and in view of the danger that threatened the Catholic Church in England, Clement VII. yielded so far as to promise that he would not revoke the jurisdiction of those whom he had entrusted with the trial of the case (July 1528).
Meanwhile news of what was in contemplation was noised abroad. Many of the English merchants, fearing that hostility to the empire would lead to an interruption of their trade especially with the Netherlands, detested the new foreign policy of the king, while the great body of the people were so strongly on the side of Catharine that were a verdict to be given against her a popular rebellion seemed inevitable. So pronounced was this feeling even in the city of London itself, that Henry felt it necessary to summon the Lord Mayor and the Corporation to the royal palace, where he addressed them on the question that was then uppermost in men's minds. He spoke of Catharine in terms of the highest praise, assured them that the separation proceedings were begun, not because he was anxious to rid himself of a wife whom he still loved, but because his conscience was troubled with scruples regarding the validity of his marriage, and that the safety of the kingdom was endangered by doubts which had been raised by the French ambassador regarding the legitimacy of Princess Mary. To put an end to these doubts, and to save the country from the horror of a disputed succession, the Pope had appointed a commission to examine the validity of the marriage; and to the judgment of that commission whatever it might be he was prepared to yield a ready submission. He warned his hearers, however, that if any person failed to speak of him otherwise than became a loyal subject towards his sovereign condign punishment would await him. To give effect to these words a search was made for arms in the city, and strangers were commanded to depart from London.