Old Merry England by August Strindberg

Cardinal Wolsey’s oared galley pushed off from the Tower Bridge, below the iron gateway. It gleamed with red and gold; flags and sails flapped lazily in a gentle breeze. The Cardinal sat on the stern-deck surrounded by his little court; most of his attendants he had left at home in York Palace, later known as Whitehall. His face was red both from the reflection of his red dress as from the wine which he had been drinking at noon with King Henry VIII in the Tower, and also from the new French sickness, which was very fashionable, as everything French was.

He was in a cheerful mood, for he had just received fresh proofs of the King’s favour.

At his side stood the King’s secretary, Thomas Cromwell. Both were parvenus. Wolsey was the son of a butcher, Cromwell the son of a smith, and that was probably one of the causes of their friendship, although the Cardinal was by twenty years the elder of the two.

“This is a happy day,” said Wolsey joyfully, and cast a glance up at the Tower, which was still a royal residence, though it was soon to cease to be one. “I have obtained the head of Buckingham, that fool who believed he had a right of succession to the crown.”

“Who has the right of succession,” asked Cromwell, “since there is no male heir, and none is expected?”

“I will soon see to that! Katherine of Aragon is weak and old, but the King is young and strong.”

“Remember Buckingham,” said Cromwell; “it is dangerous to meddle with the succession to the throne.”

“Nonsense! I have guided England’s destiny hitherto, and will guide it further.”

Cromwell saw that it was time to change the topic.

“It is a good thing that the King is leaving the Tower. It must be depressing for him to have only a wall between himself and the prisoners, and to see the scaffold from his windows.”

“Don’t talk against our Tower! It is a Biblia Pauperum, an illustrated English History comprising the Romans, King Alfred, William the Conqueror, and the Wars of the Roses. I was fourteen years old when England found its completion at the battle of Bosworth, and the thirty years’ War of the Roses came to an end with the marriage between York and Lancaster….”

“My father used to talk of the hundred years’ war with France, which ended in the same year in which Constantinople was taken by the Turks–i.e. 1453.”

“Yes, all countries are baptized in blood; that is the sacrament of circumcision, and see what fertility follows this manuring with blood! You don’t know that apple-trees bear most fruit after a blood-bath.”

“Yes I do; my father always used to bury offal from butchers’ shops at the root of fruit-trees.”

Here he stopped and coloured, for he had made a slip with his tongue. In the Cardinal’s presence no one dared to speak of slaughter or the like, for he was hated by the people, and often called “The Butcher.” Cromwell, however, was above suspicion, and the Cardinal did not take his remark ill, but saved the situation.

“Moreover,” he continued, “my present was well received by the King; Hampton Court is also a treasure, and has the advantage of being near Richmond and Windsor, but can naturally not bear comparison with York Place.”

The galley was rowed up the river, on whose banks stood the most stately edifices which existed at the time. They passed by customhouses and warehouses, fishmarkets, and fishers’ landing-places; the pinnacles of the Guildhall or Council House; the Convent of Blackfriars, the old Church of St. Paul’s; the Temple, formerly inhabited by the Templars, now a court of justice; the Hospital of St. James, subsequently appropriated by Henry VIII and made a palace. Finally they reached York Place (Whitehall) by Westminster, where Wolsey, the Cardinal and Papal Legate, Archbishop of York and Keeper of the Great Seal, dwelt with his court, comprising about eight hundred persons, including court ladies.

Then they disembarked after conversing on ordinary topics; for the Cardinal preferred discussing trifles when he had great schemes in hand, and that which occupied him especially just now was his candidature for the papacy.

* * * * *

Sir Thomas More, the King’s Treasurer and Privy Councillor, sat in his garden at Chelsea above Westminster. He was correcting proofs, for he was a great scholar, and wrote on all the controversial questions of the day, religious and political, though he was essentially a man of peace, living in this suburb an idyllic life with his family.

He wore his best attire, although in the house and at work. He also showed signs of disquietude, looking now and then towards the door, for at an early hour of the day no one less than the King had sent an intimation of his intention to pay him a visit. He knew from experience how dangerous it was to be on intimate terms with the King and to share his secrets. His sovereign had the bad habit of asking for advice which he did not follow, and of imparting secrets the knowledge of which often cost his confidants their heads. The most dangerous thing of all was to undertake to act as intermediary between Henry and anyone else, for then one fell between two millstones.

With a mind prepared for the worst, More tried to quiet himself by reading his proofs, but his efforts were vain. He rose and began to walk up and down the garden path, went over in his mind all possible causes of the King’s coming, rehearsed answers to objections, refutations of arguments, and ways of modifying the King’s too strong views without causing offence.

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Henry was certainly a learned man, who had a respect for knowledge, but he had a savage nature which he tried to tame with the scourge of religion, though without success.

The clank of armour and tramp of horses was now audible, and the Treasurer hastened, cap in hand, to the garden gate.

The King had already dismounted from his horse, and hastened towards his friend, carrying a portfolio in his hand.

“Thomas,” he said without any preface, “take and read! He has answered me! Who? Luther, of course! He–the man whose mind reeks like carrion, and whose practices are damnable–has answered my book, The Babylonish Captivity. Take and read what he says, and tell me if you have ever seen anything like it.”

He gave the Treasurer a printed pamphlet. “And then this devil of a liar says I have not written my book myself. Take and read it, and give me your advice.”

More began to read Luther’s answer to Henry’s attack. He read it to himself, and often found it hard to remain serious, although the King kept his eyes fixed on his face in order to read his thoughts.

Among other things, Luther had written: “It matters nothing to me whether King Heinz or Kunz, the Devil or Hell itself, has composed this book. He who lies is a liar–therefore I fear him not. It seems to me that King Henry has provided an ell or two of coarse stuff for this mantle, and that the poisonous fellow Leus (Leo X), who wrote against Erasmus, or someone of his sort, has cut and lined the hood. But I will help them–please God–by ironing it and attaching bells to it.”

More felt that he must say something or lose his head, so he said: “That is monstrous! That is quite monstrous!”

“Go on!” exclaimed Henry.

After saying that he postponed the discussion of the other six sacraments, Luther added: “I am busy in translating the Bible into German, and cannot stir up Heinz’s dirt any more.”

The Treasurer was nearly choking with suppressed laughter, but he felt the sword suspended over his head, and continued: “But I will give the poisonous liar and blasphemer, King Heinz, once for all, a complete answer, and stop his mouth…. Therefore he thinks to hang on to the Pope and play the hypocrite before him…. Therefore they mutually caress and tickle each other like a pair of mule’s ears….”

“No, sire,” More broke off, “I cannot go on; it is high treason to read it.”

“I will read,” said the King, and took the pamphlet from him:

“‘I conquer and defy Papists, Thomists, Henrys, Sophists, and all the swine of hell!’ He calls us swine!”

“He is a madman who ought to be beaten to death with iron bars or hunted in a forest with bloodhounds.”

“Yes, he ought! But imagine!–this scoundrel gives himself out for a prophet and servant of Christ. And he has married a nun. That is incest! But he has been punished for it. The Kurfurst of Saxony has abandoned him, and none of his so-called friends went to the wedding….”

“What is his object? What is his new teaching? Justification through faith. If one only believes, one may live like a swine!”

“And his doctrine about the Communion. The Church says the Elements are changed by consecration, but this materialist says they actually are Christ’s Body and Blood. Then the corn in the field and the grapes in the vineyard are already Christ’s Body and Blood! He is an ass! And the world is mad.”

“And the consequence,–sin with impunity! Sire, allow me to read some lines, which I have written as an answer, not to these but to his other follies–only some lines which I hope to add to.”

“Read! I listen when you speak, for I have learnt to listen, and, through that, I know something.”

The King sat down astride on a chair, as though he would ride against his formidable foe.

“Honourable brother,” read More, “father, drinker runaway from the Augustinian Order, clumsy tipsy reveller of the worldly and spiritual kingdoms, ignorant teacher of sacred theology.”

“Good, Thomas; he knows no theology!”

“And this is the way he composed his book against King Henry, the Defender of Our Faith: he collected his stable-companions, and commissioned them to collect all manner of abuse and bad language, each in his own department. One of them among carters and boatmen; another in baths and gaming-houses; a third in barbers’ shops and restaurants; a fourth in mills and brothels. They wrote down in their note-books the most daring, dirtiest, and vulgarest expressions which they heard, brought home all that was coarse and nasty, and emptied it into a disgusting drain, called Luther’s soul.”

“Good! Very good! But what shall we do now?”

“Burn the rubbish, sire, and make an end of the matter.”

“Yes, I will have his heresies burnt to-morrow at St. Paul’s Cross in the City.”

* * * * *

In the great library of the Temple sat the King and Cardinal Wolsey, examining collections of laws and precedents. Outside in the garden the Queen was walking with some of the court ladies. This garden –really a large rose-garden–had been preserved as a promenade for the royal personages who could not sleep in the Tower, because it was haunted, and did not retain their health in the insignificant Bride-well in the City; it was also preserved as a place of historical interest, for here the adherents of Lancaster and York were said to have plucked the red and white roses as their respective badges.

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Queen Katherine of Aragon, the daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella, the patrons of Christopher Columbus, had now, after twenty years’ marriage with Henry VIII, reached a certain age. She had borne him several sons, but all had died: only one, a daughter, lived, known later on as Queen, under the title “Bloody Mary.” Katherine had aged early, and sought comfort in religion; she used to rise at night and attend mass in the garb of a Franciscan nun. She knew of the King’s unfaithfulness, but accepted it quietly; she had heard the name of Elizabeth Blunt, but ignored it.

Now she sat on a seat, and watched her young attendants playing, while she turned over the pages of her prayer book. One pair especially her eyes followed with pleasure–the uncommonly beautiful Anna of Norfolk and young Henry Algernon Percy of Northumberland, Hotspur’s descendant. The pair were playing with roses; the youth had an armful of white and the girl an armful of red roses, which they threw at each other, singing as they lid so.

It was a beautiful sight, but the Queen became sad: “Don’t play like that, children,” she said; “it awakens memories which ought to sleep in the Tower, where Only the dead can sleep quietly. Besides, the King, and consequently the Cardinal, will be vexed; they sit there in the library. Play something else!”

The two young people seemed not to understand. Accordingly the Queen continued: “The Wars of the Roses, children, did not end altogether at Bosworth but–in the Tower happened much that is best forgotten. Take a book and read something.”

“We have been reading all the morning,” answered Anne surnamed Boleyn or Bullen.

“What are you reading then?


The Canterbury Tales? Those are not for children: Chaucer was a jester. You had better take my book. It has beautiful pictures.” The young Percy took the little breviary, and, going down the path as though they sought the shade, they both quietly disappeared from the Queen’s eyes.

But from the library four eyes had followed them, those of the King and the Cardinal, while they turned over the folios.

The King was uneasy, and spoke more for the sake of speaking than because he had something to say, and so did the Cardinal.

“You ought to aim at the Papacy, Cardinal, as Hadrian’s successor.”

“Yes, so they say.”

“What about the votes?”

“They are controlled by the Emperor Charles V and King Francis I.”

“How can one bring such a discordant pair into harmony?”

“That is just what requires diplomatic skill, sire.”

“You cannot stand on good terms with both.”

“Who knows? The Emperor has taken Rome, and placed the Pope in the Castle of St. Angelo … that was a droll stroke! Then the soldiers in jest, under the windows of the Castle, called out for Martin Luther as Pope.”

“Name not his cursed name,” growled the King, but more in anger at what he saw in the rose-garden than at the mention of Luther.

The Cardinal understood him. “I do not like a union between Northumberland and Norfolk,” he said.

“What do you say?” asked the King. He was angry that Wolsey had read his thoughts, but did not wish to betray himself.

“Anne is really too good for a Percy, and I find it improper of the Queen to act as a match-maker, and let them go alone in the shrubbery. No, that must have an end!”

“Sire, it is already at an end; I have written to Anne’s father to call her home to Hever.”

“You did well in that, by heaven! Two such families, who both aim at the succession, ought not to unite.”

“Who is there that does not aim at the throne? Just now it was Buckingham, now it is Northumberland, and only because there is no proper heir. Sire, you must consider the country, and your people, and name a successor.”

“No! I will not have anyone waiting for my decease.”

“Then we shall have the Wars of the Roses again, which cost England a million men and eighty of our noblest families.”

The King smiled. “Our noblest!” Then he rose and stepped to the window: “I must now accompany the Queen home,” he said. “She has gone to sleep outside, and this damp is not good for her in her weak condition.”

“At her Majesty’s age one must be very careful,” replied the Cardinal. He emphasized the word age, for Katherine was forty, and gave no more hopes of an heir to the throne. Her daughter Mary might certainly be married, but one did not know to whom.

“Sire,” he continued, “do not be angry, but I have just now opened the Holy Scripture…. It may be an accident–will you listen?”


“In the third Book of Moses, the twentieth and twenty-first chapters, I read the following–but you will not be angry with your servant?”


“These are the Lord’s solemn words: ‘If any man take his brother’s wife, it is evil; they shall be childless.’”

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The King was excited, and approached the Cardinal.

“Is that there? Yes, truly! God has punished me by taking my sons one after the other. What a wonderful book, in which everything is written! That is the reason then! But what says Thomas Aquinas, the ‘Angel’ of the Schoolmen?”

“Yes, sire, if you wish the matter elucidated, we must consult the learned.”

“Let us do so,–but quietly and cautiously. The Queen is blameless, and nothing evil must happen to her. Quietly and cautiously, Wolsey! But I must know the truth.”

* * * * *

In a room near the “Bloody Tower,” the Cardinal and More were carrying on a lively conversation.

“What is happening now in Germany?” asked the Cardinal.

“While Luther was in the Wartburg, his pupil Karlstadt came to Wittenberg, and turned everything upside down. Citing the prohibition of images in the Old Testament, he stirred up students and the rabble to attack the churches and throw all sacred objects outside.”

“That’s the result of the Bible! To give it into the hands of the unlearned means letting hell loose,”


“What did Luther say to that?”

“He hurried down from the Wartburg and denounced Karlstadt and his followers, but I cannot say that he confuted them. A councillor quoted the book of Moses, ‘Thou shalt not make to thee any image nor likeness.’ And a shoemaker answered, ‘I have often taken off my hat before images in a room or in the street; but that is idolatry, and robs God of the glory which belongs to Him alone.’”

“What did Luther say?”

“That then, on account of occasional misuse, one must kill all the women, and pour all the wine into the streets.”

“That was a stupid saying; but that is the result of disputing with shoemakers. Besides, it is degrading to compare women to wine! He is a coarse fellow who sets his wife on the same level with a beer-barrel.”

“Logic is not his strong point, and his comparisons halt on crutches. In his answer to the Pope’s excommunication, he writes, among other things: ‘If a hay-cart must move out of the way of a drunken man, how much more must Peter and Jesus Christ keep out of the way of the Pope?’”

“That is a pretty simile! Let us return to James Bainham.”

“But let me tell you a little more about the fanatics in Germany. Besides Karlstadt and his followers, other enthusiasts, quoting the Bible and Luther, have had themselves rebaptized; their leader has taken ten wives, supporting his action by the example of David, Solomon, and even Abraham.”

“The Bible again!–Call in Bainham, and then we will hear how the matter stands! He was a lawyer in the Temple, you say, and has been spreading Luther’s teaching. Have we not had enough of Wycliffe and the Lollards? Must we have the same thing again, grunted out by this German plagiariser?”

“I am not an intolerant man,” said More, “but a State must be homogeneous, or it will fall to pieces. Ignoramuses and lunatics must not come forward and sniff at the State religion, be it better or worse.”

“Let Bainham come, and we will hear him.”

More went to a door which was guarded on the outside by soldiers, and gave an order.

“You examine him, and I will listen,” said the Cardinal.

After a time Bainham was brought into the room in chains.

More sat at the end of a table, and commenced.

“James Bainham, can you declare your belief in a few words?”

“I believe in God’s Word–i.e. the whole of Holy Scripture.”

“Do you really–in the Old as well as the New Testament?”

“In both.”

“In the Old also?”

“In both.”

“Very well, then, you believe in the Old Testament. Now, you have had yourself baptized again, for the Bible says, ‘Go, and teach all nations and baptize them.’ Good. But have you had yourself circumcised, as the Bible commands?”

Bainham looked confounded, and the Cardinal had to turn his head, in order not to smile.

“I am not an Israelite,” answered Bainham.

“No! but Nathanael, who sought our Saviour and believed on him, was called by John ‘an Israelite indeed.’ If you are not an ‘Israelite indeed,’ you are not a Christian.”

“I cannot answer that.”

“No, you cannot answer, but you can preach and talk rubbish. Are you a Lutheran?”


“But Luther is against the Anabaptists; therefore he is against you, and he has asked the princes to kill the Anabaptists like wild dogs. Are you still a Lutheran?”

“Yes, according to his early teaching.”

“You mean justification by faith. What do you believe?”

“I believe in God the Father….”

“Who is the Father? In Luther’s catechism it is written, ‘Thou shalt have none other Gods but me.’ But that is the Law of Moses, and it is Jehovah who is intended there. If you believe in Jehovah, then you are a Jew, are you not?”

“I believe also on Christ the Son of God.”

“Then you are a Jew-Christian! So you have admitted that you are a Lutheran, Anabaptist, Jew, and Christian–all this together. You are a fool, and you don’t know what you are. But that may be passed over, if you do not seduce others.”

“Give him a flogging,” said the Cardinal, who did not like the turn the conversation had taken, especially the challenging of the Bible, which just now he wished to use for his own purposes.

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“He has already had that,” answered More, “but besides his doctrine, this conceited man, who wants to make himself popular, belongs to a society which circulates a bad translation of the Bible.” “You see yourself,” he continued, turning to Bainham, “what Bible reading leads to, and I demand that you give up the names of your fellow-criminals.”

“That I will never do! The just shall live by his faith.”

“Will you call yourself just, when there is no one just? Read the Book of Job, and you will see. And your belief is really too eccentric to be counted to you for righteousness.”

“Send him down in the cellar to Master Mats! Must one listen to such nonsense! Away with him!”

More pointed to the door, and Bainham went out.

“Yes,” said Wolsey, “what is there in front of us? Schisms, sectarianism, struggles. If we only had an heir to the throne.”

“We cannot get the King divorced.”

“You yourself have spoken the word. There is no need for divorce, because his marriage is null.”

“Is it? How do you prove that?”

“From the third book of Moses, the twentieth and twenty-first chapters: ‘If any one taketh his brother’s wife, it is evil.’”

“Yes, but in the fifth book of Moses, five and twentieth chapter, fifth verse, it is commanded.”

“What, in Christ’s name, are you saying?”

“Certainly it is: ‘If brothers dwell together, and one die without children, his brother shall take his wife and raise up seed to his brother.”

“Damnation! This cursed book.”

“Moreover: Abraham married his half-sister; Jacob married two sisters: Moses’ father married his aunt.”

“That is the Bible, is it? Thank you! Then I prefer the Decretals and the Councils. The Pope must dissolve the marriage.”

“Is it then to be dissolved?”

“Didn’t you know? Yes, it is. If Julius II could grant a dispensation, Clement VII can grant an absolution.”

“It is not just towards the Queen.”

“The country demands it–the kingdom–the nation! The King’s conscience….”

“Oh! is it the fair Anne?”

“No, not she!”

“Is it….”

“Don’t ask any more.”

“Then I answer, Margaret of Valois.”

“I give no answer at all, but I am not responsible for your life, if you talk out of season! The Bible won’t help you there.”

“It would be a useful reform, if we could cancel the Old Testament as a Jewish book.”

“But we cannot cancel the Psalms of David, which are our only Church canticles. Luther himself has taken his hymns from the Psalter, and ‘Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott’ from the Proverbs of Solomon; he has borrowed the melody from the Graduale Romanum.”

“But we must relegate the law of Moses to the Apocrypha, otherwise we are Pharisees and Jewish Christians. What have we to do with circumcision, the paschal lamb, and levitical marriage? Wait till I am Pope.”

“Must we really wait so long?”

“Hush! The noon-bell is ringing. Do not let us neglect our duties. The flesh must have its due, in order not to burn. Come with me to Westminster; then you can go on to Chelsea afterwards.”

* * * * *

Henry VIII was twelve years old when he was engaged to the widow of his brother Arthur. At fourteen he protested against the marriage, which was distasteful to him, but at eighteen he married Katherine, the aunt of the Emperor Charles V. Cardinal Wolsey would have gladly brought about a divorce, for he wished for a successor to the throne in order to keep the power in his own hands. This power he had misused to such an extent that the fact that there was such a thing as Parliament had almost been forgotten. Wolsey wished to have the King married to a powerful princess, and thought for a time of Margaret of Valois, but under no circumstances did he wish to take a wife for him from the English nobility. But when he aroused the King’s conscience with regard to his marriage with Katherine, he had let loose a storm which he could not control, much less guide in the desired direction, for the King’s passion for Anne Boleyn was now irresistible.

Then the Cardinal had recourse to plotting, and this brought about his downfall. For six years negotiations went on, and the King was true to Anne. He wrote letters which can still be read and which display a great and honourable love. Most of them were signed “Henry Tudor, Rex, your true and constant servant,” and began “My mistress and friend.” Anne answered coldly, but her love to Percy was nipt in the bud by a marriage being arranged for him. After all the learned authorities had been consulted, and much controversy had taken place regarding the third and the fifth books of Moses, the Pope sent a Nuncio with secret instructions to get rid of the whole matter by postponing it. But Henry did not yield, though his feelings for Katherine, whom he respected, cost him a terrible struggle. The trial began in the chapter-house of Blackfriars in the presence of the King and Queen. But Katherine stood up, threw herself at the King’s feet, and found words which touched the tyrant. She challenged the right of the court to try her, appealed to the Pope, and returned to Bridewell. It is there that we find her in Shakespeare’s Henry VIII, singing sorrowfully a beautiful song:

“Orpheus with his lute made trees
And the mountain tops that freeze
Bow themselves when he did sing.”

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The divorce proceedings had gone on for some years; people had sided alternately with the King and with the Queen, and often sympathised with both, when suddenly rumour announced the outbreak of a pestilence.

It was not the Black Death or the boil-pest, but the English “sweating-sickness.” This hitherto unknown disease had first broken out in the same year when the wars of the Roses ended on the field of Bosworth; but it was entirely confined to England, passing neither to Scotland nor Ireland. It was so mysteriously connected with English blood, that in Calais only Englishmen and no Frenchmen were attacked by it. Since then the sickness had twice appeared among the English. Now it returned and broke out in London.

The King, who had said that “no one but God could separate him from Anne,” was alarmed, and did not know what to think–whether it was a warning or a trial. The symptoms of the sickness were perspiration and a desire to sleep; but if one yielded to the desire, one might be dead in three hours. In London the citizens died like flies: Sir Thomas More lost a daughter; the Cardinal, who had come to preside at Hampton Court, had his horses put to the carriage again, and hurried away. Finally one of Anne’s ladies-in-waiting was attacked. Then the King lost all presence of mind, sent Anne home to her father, and fled himself from place to place, from Waltham to Hunsdon. He reconciled himself to Katherine, lived in a tower without a servant, prepared his will, and was ready for death.

Then there came the news that Anne herself had been seized by the sickness. The King had lost his chamberlain, and now wrote letter after letter. Then he fled again to Hatfield and Tittenhanger.

But Anne recovered, the pestilence ceased, and Henry resumed the divorce proceedings. The Cardinal and the Nuncio wavered, and in the seventh year the King lost patience. He had now found the man he sought for. Sir Thomas More would not declare Katherine’s marriage null. The new man was Thomas Cranmer, who hated the Pope and the monks, and dreamt of a free England–free, that is, from Rome. The King and his new friend worked in secret at something which Cardinal Wolsey did not know, and one day the preliminaries were settled, the papers were in order, and the mine exploded.

* * * * *

The King’s galley pushed off from the Tower. It did not look so brilliant as the Cardinal’s had once been. Cranmer sat by the King.

“I shall not sleep in the Tower any more,” said the King. “I am leaving it now, Thomas; this is my removal. I move to Whitehall, for that will be the name of York Palace; because I, as a Lancastrian, hate York, and because my white rose shall dwell in my castle. Now, you will sit in the Tower, my hell-dog! To think that this Satan of a Cardinal has deceived me for six years. What troubles his plotting has caused me! Six years! I have always hated the man, but I needed him, for he was clever.”

The King glanced at the north side of the Thames. “And I have lived in the city which has not been my own; Rome possesses a third of it. I have lived like a beggar, but now–London is mine. The Temple, St. James’s, Whitehall, Westminster to begin with; then the rest.”

The galley reached York Palace, and the King hastened in with his body-guard, without giving the password or answering the chamberlain’s questions. He went straight to the Cardinal’s room, and laid some letters before him: “Read! you snake! your lying letters behind my back.”

The Cardinal’s face seemed to shrink to half its size, and resembled a death’s-head. He did not, however, fall on his knees, but raised his head for the last time: “I appeal to the Pope.”

“There is no Pope in England! Nay, I am the Pope, and therefore you are no longer Cardinal! Accordingly, I have granted myself a dispensation, and married Anne Boleyn yesterday! In a few days I shall have her crowned. And then we will dwell here! Here! But you will live in the Tower. Go, or I throw you out.”

Thus England became free; a third part of London, which had belonged to the monks, reverted to the Crown, and afterwards the whole country followed.

The King had obtained his beloved Anne, but after three years she was beheaded, for having dishonoured the King by adultery. After that the King married four times. Cardinal Wolsey died before he came to the scaffold; Sir Thomas More was beheaded; and Cromwell, who at first defended Wolsey, but afterwards became a “malleus monachorum,” was also beheaded. All this seems very confused and tragic, but from this confusion a free, independent, and powerful England emerged. When the Germans were preparing to cast off the yoke of Rome in the Thirty Years’ War, England had already completed her task.

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