CHAPTER II. THE RELIGIOUS CHANGES UNDER HENRY VIII. AND EDWARD VI.
Though the commission had been granted in April, Cardinal Campeggio was in no hurry to undertake the work that was assigned to him. He did not leave Rome till June, and he proceeded so leisurely on his journey through France that it was only in the first week of October that he arrived in London. In accordance with his instructions, he endeavoured to dissuade the king from proceeding further with the separation, but as Henry was determined to marry the lady of his choice even though it should prove the ruin of his kingdom, all the efforts of Campeggio in this direction were in vain. He next turned his attention to Catharine, in the hope of persuading her to enter a convent, only to discover that her refusal to take any step likely to cast doubts upon her own marriage and the legitimacy of her daughter was fixed and unalterable. At the queen's demand counsel was assigned to her to plead her cause. The situation was complicated by the fact that Julius II. appears to have issued two dispensations for Henry's marriage, one contained in the Bull sent to England, the other in a brief forwarded to Ferdinand in Spain. The queen produced a copy of the brief, which was drawn up in such a way as to elude most of the objections that were urged against the Bull on the ground that the marriage had been consummated. The original of the brief was in the hands of the Emperor, and various attempts were made to secure the original or to have it pronounced a forgery by the Pope; but the Emperor was too wily a diplomatist to be caught so easily, and the Pope refused either to order its production or to condemn it without evidence as a forgery. This question of the brief was seized upon by Cardinal Campeggio as a good opportunity for delaying the trial. At last on the 31st May 1529, the legates Wolsey and Campeggio opened the court at Blackfriars, and summoned Henry and Catharine to appear before them in person or by proxy on the 18th June. Both king and queen answered the summons, the latter, however, merely to demand justice publicly from the king, to protest against the competence and impartiality of the tribunal, and to lodge a formal appeal to Rome. Her appeal was disallowed, and on her refusal to take any further part in the trial she was condemned as contumacious; but even still she was not without brave and able defenders. Bishop Fisher of Rochester spoke out manfully against the unnatural and unlawful proceedings, and his protest found an echo not merely in the court itself but throughout the country. The friends of Henry, fearing that the Pope might revoke the power of the legates, clamoured for an immediate verdict; but this Campeggio was determined to prevent at all costs. By insisting upon all the formalities of law he took care to delay the proceedings till the 23rd July, when he announced that the legatine court should follow the rules of the Roman court, and should, therefore, adjourn to October. Already he was aware of the fact that Clement VII., yielding to the entreaties of Catharine and the demands of the Emperor, had reserved the decision of the case to Rome (19th July), and that the summons to the king and queen to proceed there to plead their cause was already on its way to England.
Henry, disguising his real feelings, pretended to be satisfied; but in reality his disappointment was extreme. Anne Boleyn and her friends threw the blame entirely on Wolsey. They suggested that the cardinal had acted a double part throughout the entire proceedings. For a time there was a conflict in the king's mind between the suggestions of his friends and the memory of Wolsey's years of loyal service; but at last Henry was won over to the party of Anne, and Wolsey was doomed to destruction. He was deprived of the office of Lord Chancellor which was entrusted to Sir Thomas More (Oct. 1529), accused of violating the statute of Praemunire by exercising legatine powers, a charge to which he pleaded guilty though he might have alleged in his defence the permission and authority of the king, indicted before Parliament as guilty of high treason, from the penalty of which he was saved by the spirited defence of his able follower Thomas Cromwell (Dec.), and ordered to withdraw to his diocese of York (1530). His conduct in these trying times soon won the admiration of both friends and foes. The deep piety and religion of the man, however much they might have been concealed by his fondness for pomp and display during the days of his glory, helped him to withstand manfully the onslaughts of his opponents. His time was spent in prayer and in the faithful discharge of his episcopal duties, but the enemies who had secured his downfall at court were not satisfied. They knew that he had still a strong hold on the affections of the king, and they feared that were any foreign complications to ensue he might be recalled to court and restored to his former dignities. They determined therefore to bring about his death. An order for his arrest and committal to the Tower was issued, but death intervened and saved him from the fate that was in store for him. Before reaching London he took suddenly ill, and died after having received the last consolations of religion (Nov. 1530).