Tag Archives: Archbishop Gardiner
William Paget is typical of Tudor administrators. He rose not because of his bloodline but because of his ability. He was educated at Cambridge. His tutor was Stephen Gardiner (I told you they were all related and now I’ll add that they all know each other!) After Paget completed his studies Gardiner, who would become Bishop of Winchester and by the end of Henry VIII’s reign conservative scion of Catholicism, found Paget a role in his own household.
Somewhat ironically then Paget first makes his appearance on the political stage in 1529 in Henry VIII’s so-called Reformation Parliament- for his parliamentary biography double click on the image which accompanies this post. He continued working for Gardiner until it became apparent that Cromwell was the horse to back. Inevitably his letters to Cromwell at this time can be found in Henry VIII’s letters and papers. He appears again as Jane Seymour’s secretary which naturally enough brought him into close contact with Jane’s brothers Sir Edward Seymour and Sir Thomas Seymour.
Increasingly Paget became associated with the so-called Protestant faction of Henry VIII’s privy council even though he was also secretary to Anne of Cleves and Catherine Howard. He also served for a time as Ambassador in France – diplomacy, spying etc.
The removal of Thomas Cromwell in 1540 left Henry VIII without a single capable man of all business. The privy council resumed some of its former importance and men such as Paget who had proved themselves solidly reliable were able to garner more power to themselves now that it wasn’t all focused on one individual.
Those survival skills are demonstrated but the fact that he continued in office during the reign of Queen Mary rising to the role of Lord Privy Seal. Although he was keen on Mary’s marriage to Philip of Spain he was less enthusiastic about the idea of executing Princess Elizabeth – which was probably just as well. In 1558 when Mary died he chose to retire from public life but he acted as an advisor, on occasion, during Elizabeth’s reign – making him the most unusual of Tudor administrators – a man who kept his head and served not one but four of the Tudors. And what makes it even more amazing is that he had agreed to bypass Mary and place Lady Jane Grey on the throne. He died in 1563 at the age of fifty-eight.
In addition to manoeuvring his way through the snakes and ladders of Tudor politics Sir William found time to marry and father ten children. Three of his four sons survived to adulthood. I have posted about them elsewhere on the History Jar https://thehistoryjar.com/tag/sir-william-paget/ as the youngest son, Charles, turned out to be anything but loyal to the Tudor crown. He was a catholic conspirator against Elizabeth. There is an irony in this because one of Paget’s roles during the reign of Henry VIII was counter-intelligence.
Henry VIII was nothing if not even minded. He executed fifty people for not renouncing the pope – thereby becoming traitors to the king and he executed another forty for their heretical leanings between 1533 when he assumed control of the Church in England and his death in 1547.
On the 30 July 1540, just two days after Thomas Cromwell was executed, Smithfield witnessed Henry’s bizarre not to mention gruesome relies tightrope act. Six people were executed. Three of them, Richard Fetherstone, Thomas Abel and Edward Powell, were condemned as papists. Their crime was their failure to deny the pope. They were hanged drawn and quartered as traitors whilst the other three to die that day were burned as heretics.
Robert Barnes, a Norfolk man, was educated at Cambridge and like Lambert began life as a Catholic. But like Lambert he was drawn to protestantism very early in his career. He was imprisoned by Wolsey but undeterred he used his incarceration as an opportunity to give out Bibles written in English. Very sensibly he decamped to Antwerp as soon as possible where he made the acquaintance of one of Cromwell’s agents. Interestingly he returned to England in 1531 where he became an agent employed by the Crown liaising with Lutheran Germany. He had, after all, met Luther during his travels. He was part of the delegation which went to Germany in 1535 to find out how the Lutherans viewed Henry VIII’s intended divorce from Katherine of Aragon. He returned as part of Cromwell’s team negotiating for the match between Henry and Anne of Cleves.
This disastrous union would hasten Thomas Cromwell’s demise but the lines were already drawn up for a contest between Cromwell who was seen as leaning towards reform and the old guard of catholicism in the persons of the duke of Norfolk and Bishop Gardiner. One of the early signs of this conflict was when Barnes preached against Gardiner from the cross at St Paul’s. He was made to apologise and briefly stopped being Lutheran but then Cromwell was made earl of Essex and it looked to Barnes to be service as usual so he reverted to beliefs that exceeded the dictates of the Ten Articles.
Except of course Cromwell was on his way out and without the Vicar General’s protection it wasn’t long before Barnes was turned into a rather dreadful example.
William Jerome and Thomas Gerrard were executed on the same heresy charges. Jerome, another one of Cromwell’s proteges, had also preached at St Paul’s but the subject of his sermon had been that magistrates had the power to make make what was indifferent not indifferent – make of that what you will! Gardiner added it up to identify the fact that Jerome was advising people to adhere to the king through their outward behaviour only and think what they want in private – which probably didn’t go down terribly well with Henry. Even worse Jerome preached justification through faith alone which essentially chopped out the need for the priesthood and the Church. Bernard considers whether this was the sort of behaviour that hastened Cromwell’s end due to his men spouting heresy pointing towards dodgy radical leanings of the master who protected them. Certainly it may have been one of the threads which broke Cromwell’s increasingly tenuous hold on power.
Equally it should be pointed out that whilst this interpretation is fine if you subscribe to the theory that catholicism was on the rise thanks to the duke of Norfolk dangling his pretty little niece Katherine Howard under Henry’s nose. It fails to take account of the fact that while the protestants burned, three catholics were hanged.
Foxe noted that confused and ignorant people wouldn’t know what to make of the opposing sides suffering equally on the same day. The french ambassador expressed similar bewilderment. They have a point but Bernard states that academics have missed the key issue ever since – that Henry was doing what Henry wanted. After all, Henry saw himself as an Old Testament kind of king with a hotline to The Almighty. It was Henry’s Church and his was the only way…if you didn’t want to end up in Smithfield.
Bernard, G.W. (2007) The King’s Reformation. London and Harvard: Yale University Press
Wilson, Derek. (2012) The English Reformation. London: Running Press
John Nicholson, or Lambert, was a Norfolk man who studied at Cambridge. He’d come to the attention of Katherine of Aragon and it was due to her nomination that he was elected fellow. However, he shifted away from the Catholicism of his birth and moved to Antwerp where he became acquainted with Tyndale.
He returned to London when it seemed that England was to have its own reformation when Anne Boleyn was in the ascendent. He taught Latin and Greek but unfortunately for him he got into a dispute about a year after Anne’s execution when the official religious hue of the country was shifting back to its starting point. This argument was reported to the Duke of Norfolk. Norfolk accused Lambert of heresy and had him imprisoned.
During his imprisonment Lambert wrote a paper justifying his belief that Christ was not present in the bread and wine of the Eucharist which he presented to his accusers who promptly handed it over to Thomas Cranmer.
Lambert’s crime was to deny transubstantiation which at this point in the Church of England’s history made him a heretic. The Ten Articles left no room for manoeuvre in this matter. Cranmer tried him and found him guilty of heresy, which is ironic because Cranmer would himself deny transubstantiation as soon as he felt it safe to do so.
Lambert appealed his case directly to Henry VIII – perhaps he thought the monarch was a rational man with Protestant tendencies – after all he’d broken with Rome. Little did he realise that he was going to be at the heart of a show trial to demonstrate that having broken with Rome Henry intended to go no further down the road towards Protestantism. In fact even when the monasteries were being suppressed there were heresy trials and executions. Henry didn’t have any truck with Lutherans or Zwinglians or any of the other protestant sects that were springing up across Europe. It wouldn’t be long in England and Wales before the Ten Articles shrunk into the Six Articles which were essentially catholic in view but with Henry in charge.
Henry summoned assorted bishops and theologians to Westminster rather fancying himself as a learned theologian himself – afterall he was the Defender of the Faith having launched his repost to Luther in 1521. He also arranged for an audience to gather on specially erected tiered seating.
Richard Sampson, Bishop of Chichester was the ringmaster for the day. He explained to the gathered courtiers and bishops that Lambert had appealed his case to Henry and that Henry was going to demonstrate that it was far from the case that he’d turned German in his religious sympathies. Sampson went on to say that whilst Henry had given the monks the big heave ho it was because they were an idle bunch who encouraged superstition. He also explained that in giving the Bible to the people in English it was to encourage them in their true understanding and away from the superstitious nonsense of the past – a humanist approach if you will.
Henry then exchanged words with the accused who had to explain about having two surnames which didn’t go down well with Hal but the king very graciously said that as Lambert was his subject he wanted him to have the opportunity of understanding the error of his ways and come back into the fold of the true faith even if he was an untrustworthy sort of bloke with two different names which was in Hal’s opinion just plain shifty.
Five hours later six or so bishops including Cranmer and Gardiner had disputed with Lambert who hadn’t budged an inch in his views during the entire time. Henry announced Lambert must die on account of the fact he didn’t patronise heretics. Cromwell recorded it as an occasion of Henry’s “inestimable majesty” when he wrote about the event which suggests that the Vicar General might have thought that someone was reading his letters before they were delivered to their intended recipients.
As he burned on November 22 1538 at Smithfield, Lambert called out, “None but Christ.”
Those of you of a gentle disposition may wish to stop reading at this point.
Henry, allegedly, decreed that Lambert’s suffering should be extended as a warning to all other heretics so the poor man was lifted on pikestaffs from the flames as his legs burned.
Robert Ferrar, a lad from Halifax, was an Augustinian Canon who showed sufficient talent to leave Yorkshire and go to Oxford University where he became a student at Merton University. The Augustinians had a policy of each of their houses sending at least one monk to receive an education.
It was probably while he was at Oxford that he came under the influence of reformers and the works of Tindale. Certainly when Cardinal Wolsey investigated heresy in Oxford Ferrar was one of the men arrested and punished. Wolsey forced the students who had been discovered with banned books to witness their destruction. He was, however, allowed to complete his education.
Ferrar returned to Nostell Priory in 1533. Three years later, Thomas Layton, one of Cromwell’s visitors arrived at the monastery to conduct its visitation. The prior was very sick. In fact, he died not long afterwards. Ferrar was appointed prior probably because of his reforming sympathies. When the monastery surrendered in 1539 he received a pension, eventually married and had three children.
Ferrar’s quiet family life intersected with his role in the Reformation Church of Edward VI. He was appointed chaplain to Edward Seymour (the Lord Protector) and then Archbishop Cranmer as well as Bishop of St David’s. In this latter role he helped to reform the Welsh church. It was this that brought him into conflict with his parishioners and resulted in him being imprisoned in London upon the fall of Seymour where he remained until Mary Tudor came to the throne.
Ferrar was in difficulties not only because he was a protestant but also because he was married. Mary refused to recognise the legality of Ferrar’s marriage and he was deposed of his see. He was tried for heresy by Archbishop Gardiner and found guilty. He refused to recant. He was sent from London to Carmarthen in February 1555 where he was placed on trial. Eventually he was burned at the stake. Foxe recounts the fortitude with which he met his end. Double click on the image to go to Foxe’s account of Ferrar’s trial, imprisonment and death.