Henry VIII and the English Reformation

By Arthur J. Slavin | Go to book overview

BY A JUST JUDGMENT OF GOD

NICHOLAS SANDERS

This vigorous polemicist and historian was born about 1530 and educated at New College, Oxford, where he was a fellow in 1548. Deserting England for Rome in Edward VI's reign, Nicholas Sanders became a priest in the course of legal and theological studies. He put his learning to work in a Louvain professorship as well as in controversialist causes, especially against the moderate Anglican John Jewel De Visibili Monarchia Ecclesiae. From 1573 to 1579 he was a papal provocateur against England, first in Madrid and then in Ireland, working always for Elizabeth's downfall. His historical manuscripts were printed only after his death in 1581.

WHEN THE KING saw, as the hour of death was approaching, that in his greed, or rather in his rage, he had broken away from the unity of the Church, he consulted secretly with some of the bishops how he might be reconciled to the Apostolic See, and the rest of Christendom. But behold the severity of God with those who knowingly fall into sin, or who lull themselve asleep therein! No man was found courageous enough to advise him honestly, to tell him his mind, or to show him the truth; they were all afraid because of his former cruelty. They knew that many had been put to death who had spoken their minds frankly in past times, either to him or to Cromwell, even those who had been commanded to speak. So was it now; one of the bishops, doubting whether a snare had been laid for him, replied, the king was far wiser than other men; he had, under the divine guidance, renounced the supremacy of the Roman Pontiff, and had nothing to be afraid of, now that his resolution had been confirmed by the public law of the realm.1

It is said, too, that Stephen Gardiner, bishop of Winchester, persuaded him, when alone with him, to call his Parliament together, if possible, and to communicate to it a matter of that importance; if the time was too short, then to express his resolution in writing, and thereby testify to the voice of his conscience, for God would be satisfied with the mere desire of his heart, if he were in any straits which necessarily hindered the performance of the act. But as soon as the bishop had gone, the crowd of flatterers came around him, and afraid that the return of the kingdom to the obedience of the Holy See would force them to part with the ecclesiastical lands, these men persuaded him to allow no such scruples to enter his mind. It is very easy for a man not rooted and grounded in charity to break a good resolution. The king's consultation with his bishops concerning the restoration of the kingdom to the unity of the Church had no other fruit than to show openly that he who, against his conscience, had broken away from the Roman Church, and was therefore resisting the known truth, had sinned against the Holy Ghost.

As to the temper, pursuits, and habits of the king, we may say briefly that he was not unversed in learning, that he encouraged learned men, and increased the sala

____________________
From Nicholas Sanders, The Rise and Growth of the Anglican Schism ( London, Burns and Oates: 1877), pp.160-65.
1
There is no contemporary authority for Henry VIII's supposed remorse.

-10-

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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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