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FRANCIS LANCELOTT, ESQ. Queens of England. Vol.1.

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FRANCIS LANCELOTT, ESQ.
Queens of England. Vol.1.
page 433



his intention to procure a divorce. It was the policy of Henry the Eighth to heap favours on those he had marked out for destruction ; accordingly, he in April bestowed on Cromwell the honours and estates of Henry liourchier, tbe late Earl of Essex, who had been killed by a fall from his horse in the preceding March. This act of seeming royal favour, convinced the Catholic party, that the man who had devised, and aa vicargeneral had completed, the destruction of the monasteries, had fallen under the royal displeasure ;* and whilst they were exerting all their energies to hasten his fall, and procuro a Queen whose religious sentiments accorded with their own, the King fell deeply in love with the Duke of Norfolk's niece, the young and beautiful Katherine Howard, and resolved to make her his Queen. At this period Cromwell so little apprehended the fate that awaited him, that he threatened his chief opponents with the royal displeasure, committed the Bishop of Chichester and Dr. Wilson to tho Tower, on a charge of having relieved prisoners confined for refusing the oath of supremacy ; and, in May, introduced, for tbe first time, condemnation by act of attainder without trial in the case of the Countess of Salisbury— a weapon of despotism by which numerous other murders were committed during this reign, and, what is remarkable, by which Cromwell himself was the first to suffer—the Countess not being executed till the following year. On the tenth of June, not suspecting what would happen, Cromwell attended as usual in tbe House of Lords ; at three, the same afternoon, he was arrested by the Duke of Norfolk at the council board, and sent to the Tower. He was proceeded against by bill of attainder, and charged with heresy and treason ; the first, because he favoured heretical preachers and patronized their works ; the second, because he had received bribes, released many prisoners confined for misprision of treason, and performed acts of royal authority without warrant * The enmity of Katherine Parr was in all probability the immediate cause of Cromwell's fall. See her memoirs. from tbe King, and more especially because, on one occasion, lie had declared "that if the King would turn from the preachers of the new learning, he would not, but would fight in the Held in hie own person, with his sword in his hand, to defend it even against the King himself." The bill of attainder against him passed the Parliament without opposition. Cranmer, who, althoughheneverforsook his friends in their distress, too often bent the knee to their oppressor, in a persuasive but timid and cautious letter, vainly urged the King to spare his life. Cromwell, on finding that the efforts of the only friend who had not turned from him in his adversity had failed of their purpose, endeavoured to soften his offended sovereign by the most humble supplications, but all to no purpose. It was not tbe practice of Henry to ruin his favourites by halves ; and although the unhappy prisoner wrote to him, on the thirtieth of June, in so moving a strain as to draw tears from his eyes, he refused to pardon him. The conclusion of Cromwell's letter ran thus: "I , a most woeful prisoner, am ready to submit to death when it shall please God and your majesty, and yet the frail flesh incites me to call to your Grace for mercy and pardon of mine offences. Written at the Tower, with the heavy heart and trembling hand of your highness' most miserable prisoner and poor slave, Thomas Cromwell." And a little below— " Most gracious Prince, I cry for mercy ! marcy ! mercy!" He was beheaded on Tower Hill, on the twenty-eighth of July, and on the scaffold behaved with prudence and resignation. Some estimate of bis character may be formed by the following extracts from one of his account books, published by Mr, Ellis " Item, The Abbot of Reding to be sent down to be tried and executed at Reding, with his accomplices. Item, The Abbot of Glastonbury to be tried at Glaston, and also to be executed there, with his accomplices. " Item, To advertise the King of the ordering of Maister Fisher [tho bishop].


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