Henry VIII and the English Reformation

By Arthur J. Slavin | Go to book overview

THE IMAGE OF GOD UPON EARTH

JOHN LINGARD

An English Roman Catholic, John Lingard was born in 1771; as a young boy he went abroad to study in Douay ( 1782-1793) and returned home a priest. His genius was for writing and research and it showed itself by 1806, when The Antiquities of the Anglo-Saxon Church appeared. Thereafter dividing his energies between his historical pursuits and Roman business in England, Lingard worked steadily on his great History from 1811 to 1830. The book was immensely popular and saw five editions before his death in 1851.

WE MAY NOW return to the defunct monarch. To form a just estimate of the character of Henry, we must distinguish between the young king, guided by the counsels of Wolsey, and the monarch of more mature age, governing by his own judgment, and with the aid of ministers selected and fashioned by himself. In his youth, the beauty of his person, the elegance of his manners, and his adroitness in every martial and fashionable exercise, were calculated to attract the admiration of his subjects. His court was gay and splendid; and a succession of amusements seemed to absorb his attention; yet his pleasures were not permitted to encroach on his more important duties; he assisted at the council, perused the despatches, and corresponded with his generals and ambassadors; nor did the minister, trusted and powerful as he was, dare to act, till he had asked the opinion, and taken the pleasure of his sovereign. His natural abilities had been improved by study; and his esteem for literature may be inferred from the learned education which he gave to his children, and from the number of eminent scholars to whom he granted pensions in foreign states, or on whom he bestowed preferment in his own. The immense treasure which he inherited from his father was perhaps a misfortune; because it engendered habits of expense not to be supported from the ordinary revenue of the crown; and the soundness of his politics may be doubted, which, under the pretence of supporting the balance of power, repeatedly involved the nation in continental hostilities. Yet even these errors served to throw a lustre round the English throne, and raised its possessor in the eyes of his own subjects and of the different nations of Europe. But as the king advanced in age, his vices gradually developed themselves; after the death of Wolsey they were indulged without restraint. He became as rapacious as he was prodigal; as obstinate as he was capricious; as fickle in his friendships, as he was merciless in his resentments. Though liberal of his confidence, he soon grew suspicious of those whom he had trusted; and, as if he possessed no other right to the crown than that which he derived from the very questionable claim of his father, he viewed with an evil eye every remote descendant of the Plantagenets; and eagerly embraced the slightest pretexts to remove those whom his jealousy represented as future rivals to himself or his posterity. In pride and vanity he was perhaps without a parallel. Inflated with the praises of interested admirers, he despised

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From John Lingard, The History of England from the First Invasion by the Romans to the Accession of William and Mary in 1688 ( London, 1855), IV, pp. 107-13.

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Henry VIII and the English Reformation
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Table of Contents v
  • Introduction vii
  • An Extraordinary Pretext 1
  • The Royal Reformer: An Apology 7
  • By a Just Judgment of God 10
  • Arbiter of Christendom 13
  • The Scourge of Popery 17
  • The Image of God upon Earth 21
  • The Judgment upon His Motives and Actions 27
  • If a Lion Knew His Own Strength 33
  • The Tyranny of Tudor Times 39
  • The English Schism: Occasion and Cause 45
  • Tudor Humanism and Henry VIII 52
  • King or Minister? 57
  • Wolsey: Prelude to a Revolution 65
  • The Fate of the Monasteries 70
  • The Origins of Protestantism in English Society 81
  • Introduction 81
  • O the Great Judgments of God! 91
  • Suggestions for Additional Reading 100
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