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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 520



an act declaring- tbe Queen to be legitimate, ratifying tbe marriage of Henry and Katherine of Arragon, andannulling the divorce pronounced by Cranmer, who was greatly blamed on that account. With a commendable forbearance, Mary caused this statute to be so framed, that all mention of Elizabeth, or her mother, Anne Boleyn, was avoided. The act declares that " King Henry the Eighth being lawfully married to Queen Katherine [of Arragon], by the consent of both their parents, and the advice of the wisest men in the realm, and of the best and notablest men for learning in Christendom, did continue that state for twenty years, in which God blessed them with her Majesty, and other issue, and a course of great happiness. But then a very few malicious persons did endeavour to break the happy agreement between them, and studied to possess tbe King with a scruple in his conscience about it. and to support that, caused the seals of some universities to be got against it, a few persons being corrupted with money for that purpose. They bad also, by sinistrous ways and secret thrcatenings, procured the seals of the universities of this kingdom ; and finally, Thomas Cranmer did most ungodly and against law judge the divorce, upon his own unadvised understanding of the scriptures, upon the testimony of the universities, and some bare and most untrue conjectures ; and that was afterwards confirmed by two acts of parliament, in which was contained the illegitimacy of her majesty ; but that marriage not being prohibited by the law of' God, and being lawfully made, could not be so broken, since what God hath joined together no man could put asunder, all which, they considering together, with the many miseries that hath fallen on the kingdom since that time, which they do esteem plagues sent from God for it, therefore, they declare that sentence given by Cranmer to be unlawful and of no force were severely cruel : to take a hawk's egg was death. Poverty, which the suppression of the monasteries had greatly increased, was punished with barbarous laws, and, ac cording to Holinshod, upwards of seventy two thousand perished in hia reign on the gibbet only. from the beginning, and do also repeal the acts of parliament that hath confirmed it." We give the preamble of the bill, to refute the assertion of Rapin and other historians, who broadly declare that Elizabeth was pronounced illcgitimate by the act which restored Mary, a most uncharitable statement, for Mary. US far as circumstances permitted, guarded Elizabeth from reproach ; and if she could not clear herself from a stigma which affected her title to the crown, without in effect casting a stain on the birth of her sister, tho wrong did not proceed from her, but from her father, who might, had he have pleased, reversed the acts of parliament which pronounced his marriages with their mothers unlawful and void. Another bill passed by this parliament attainted Cranmer, the Lady Jane Grey, and her husband the Lord Guildford Dudley, who, a few weeks previously, had been arraigned and convicted. Mary, however, had no intention that they should suffer; she only placed them in peril, with the view to secure the loyalty of their friends, and she gave orders that they Bhould receive every indulgence compatible with their situation, the most important act of the session was passed almost unanimously on tho eighth of November. It repealed the laws of Edward the Sixth for the establishment of the Protestant church of England, restored the domination of Henry the Eighth's antipapal Catholic Church, and, greatly against the will of the Queen, who anxiously desired a reunion with Rome, confirmed her religious supremacy. For more than a year and a half did Mary exercise the despotic office of supreme head of the church : ample time for a cruel, bigoted ruler, thirsting for tbe blood of her religious adversaries, at least to doom some dozens of her opponents to the rack and to the flames ; and yet, Fox, Burnet, and, indeed, all of Mary's bitterest detractors, admit that the cruelties of her reign did not commence till after she had surrendered her power as head of the church into the hands of the Pope. Directly Mary deemed herself firmly seated on'the throne, she resolved to en


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