The Divorce of Catherine of Aragon: The Story as Told by the Imperial Ambassadors Resident at the Court of Henry VIII

By J. A. Froude | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER VI.

The Court at Blackfriars -- The point at issue -- The Pope's competency as judge -- Catherine appeals to Rome -- Imperial pressure upon Clement -- The Emperor insists on the Pope's admission of the appeal -- Henry demands sentence -- Interference of Bishop Fisher -- The Legates refuse to give judgment -- The Court broken up -- Peace of Cambray.

THE great scene in the hall at the Blackfriars when the cause of Henry VIII. and Catherine of Aragon was pleaded before Wolsey and Campeggio is too well known to require further description. To the Legates it was a splendid farce. They knew that it was to end in nothing. The world outside, even the parties chiefly concerned, were uncertain what the Pope intended, and waited for the event to determine their subsequent conduct. There was more at issue than the immediate question before the Court. The point really at stake was, whether the interests of the English nation could be trusted any longer to a judge who was degrading his office by allowing himself to be influenced by personal fears and interests; who, when called on to permit sentence to be delivered, by delegates whom he had himself appointed, yet confessed himself unable, or unwilling, to decide whether it should be delivered or not. Abstractly Henry's demand was right. A marriage with a brother's wife was not lawful, and no Papal dispensation could make it so; but long custom had sanctioned what in itself was forbidden. The Pope could plead the undisputed

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