Page:Henry VIII and the English Monasteries.djvu/72

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Henry VIII. and the English Monasteries

proposed to obtain power of dispensing even from the divine law.[1]

What is more extraordinary still is, that Wolsey, before leaving France, acted as if he had obtained these full and unheard-of powers. He even ordered the chancellor of France to assume the dignity and dress of cardinal, which Clement had promised but had not bestowed.[2]

In December 1527, the pope escaped from Rome to Orvieto, and thither Gardiner and Foxe, Wolsey's agents, followed him. The Holy Father was powerless, and at the mercy of any who chose to exert pressure upon him. On March 23, 1528, Foxe wrote describing the miserable state in which they had found the pope on their arrival at Orvieto. He had taken up his quarters in the bishop's ruined palace. Three small chambers, "all naked and unhanged," with the ceiling fallen, and about thirty persons of the "riff-raff" standing about "for a garnishment," led to the pope's private apartment. The furniture of this, "bed and all," was not worth "twenty nobles."[3]

In the midst of this perplexity and difficulty a further demand was made on Wolsey's behalf. Powers were asked to suppress the priory of St. Peter's, Ipswich, and other monasteries to obtain funds for the foundation of a college at Ipswich. The pope gave way; nor could he well have refused any demand which conscience would have enabled him to grant. In the middle of May 1528 the necessary bulls were dispatched to Wolsey. Gardiner appears to have acted as unscrupulously in this matter as in the divorce question. The pope, on the first suggestion of further suppressions, had asked from the agents particulars about the cardinal's colleges. He was pleased with the account given him, and told the cardinals de Monte and Sanctorum Quatuor "what a good" work it was. "In particular it rejoiced the pope," writes Strype, "when they told him that Wolsey had taken order that, in letting the farms belonging to his college, no man should have them but such as would dwell upon them and maintain hospitality . . . and he (the pope) justified and maintained the

  1. Pocock, Records of the Reformation, i. p. 19: "Etiamsi ad divinæ legis relaxationem." See Lewis, Sanders' Schism, Introd., p. liii. &c.
  2. Lewis, Introd. Iv.; Pocock, ut supra, ii. p. 88.
  3. Calendar, iv. No. 4090.