| Our Island Story|
|by H. E. Marshall|
|A child's history of England from earliest legendary times delightfully retold. Beginning with the stories of Albion and Brutus, it relates all the interesting legends and hero tales in which the history of England abounds through the end of the reign of Queen Victoria. Ages 9-12 |
HENRY VIII.—HOW THE KING BECAME THE DEFENDER OF THE FAITH AND HOW THE GREAT CARDINAL DIED
 IN the reign of Henry VIII. the Pope was still the head of
all the Christian Church although, as long ago as the time
of Edward III., a man called John Wycliffe had begun to
preach and teach against his rule over the English Church.
Wycliffe translated the Bible from Latin into English and
encouraged the people to read it. His followers were called
Lollards, and they helped the people at the time of Wat
Tyler's rebellion in the reign of Richard II. The heads of
the Church hated the Lollards, and Henry IV., who wanted to
please the priests, made a law, saying that any one who would
not believe just what the Pope said he must believe should
be burned to death. This was a very wicked law, and it
marked the beginning of another struggle for freedom in
England; that is the struggle for freedom of conscience,
which means freedom to think and do what one feels to be
right in matters of religion, instead of being forced to
think and do as some one else says is right. For some time
now very little had been heard of the Lollards, but the
things which Wycliffe had taught had not been forgotten.
After printing was discovered and books became cheaper,
people began to read and, in consequence, to
 think much more
than they had done before. The more people read and thought,
the more difficult some of them found it to believe just
what they were ordered to believe by the Pope.
It was not only in England that this was happening, but in
many other lands as well. In Germany a monk called Martin
Luther, after thinking a great deal about it, decided that
some things which were done in the Romish Church were wrong.
He was brave enough to say what he thought and, in spite of
the anger of the Pope and the priests, a great many people
followed Martin Luther and left the Roman Catholic Church.
This is the beginning of what is called the Reformation.
That is a long word, but it is quite easy to understand. It
is made from two Latin words, re, "again,
" and formare, "to
form or make." It means that the people who left the Roman
Church again formed or made the Church.
These people were called Protestants. The word Protestant is
also made from two Latin words, pro, "publicly," and
testari, "to bear witness." So a Protestant really means
some one who openly and publicly bears witness or protests.
We can hardly understand how bold and brave a thing these
Protestants did. Now everyone is free to believe what they
think is best and right but, in those days, people who could
not agree with the Pope were cruelly punished or put to
death. Now, Protestant churches and Roman Catholic churches
stand side by side, and we do not kill and hate each other
because we worship God in different ways, but in those days
nothing caused such cruel suffering and such bitter hatred.
When King Henry heard what Martin Luther had done, he was
very angry. Being a clever man, and proud
 of his learning
and knowledge about religion, he wrote a book against Martin
Luther and his teaching. This book he had bound most
beautifully, and then he sent it to the Pope.
With great splendour and ceremony, dressed in his most
magnificent robes, and sitting upon his throne with all his
priests around him, the Pope received Henry's messenger. The
messenger knelt humbly presenting the book and kissing first
the Pope's toe and then his cheek.
Afterwards the messenger made a long speech, and the Pope
made a long speech, and so the ceremony ended.
When the Pope had read the book, he was so pleased with it
that he gave the King of England a new title. He called him
Fidei Defensor, which means, "Defender of the Faith." He
wrote a letter to Henry thanking him for his book, and
calling him "Our most dear son Henry, the illustrious King
of England and Defender of the Faith."
Henry was very proud of his new title, and he held a solemn
service in the church at Westminster, when the Pope's letter
was read, and the King's new title proclaimed.
Afterwards Henry quarrelled with the Pope, but he kept the
title of Defender of the Faith, and it has been borne by the
kings and queens of England ever since, although the faith
they now defend is no longer the faith of the Roman Catholic
Church. If you look at some of the coins which we use now
you will see F.D. or Fid. Def. upon them. These letters
means Fidei Defensor or Defender of the Faith.
King Henry quarrelled with the Pope because he would not let
him put away his wife, Queen Katherine. Queen Katherine had
done no wrong, but she was some years older than Henry, and
now that he had been
 married to her for nearly twenty years,
and she was no longer young and pretty, he had grown tired
and wanted another wife.
Henry was very selfish. He thought a great deal of his own
pleasure and always wanted to have his own way. Years
before, when he wished to marry Katherine, he had made the
Pope give him leave to do so, although it was against the
laws of the Church because, as you remember, she had already
been married to his brother Arthur. Now Henry began to
think, or pretended to think, that he had been wrong ever to
marry her at all, and he tried to make the Pope say so.
Wolsey, whom the Pope had made a cardinal, tried very hard
to make him say so too, but in vain. After a long time the
Pope sent another cardinal to England, and a great trial was
held to decide whether Henry should be allowed to put away
his wife or not.
Many wise men were gathered together with the King and
Queen, the two cardinals, and their priests and clerks. When
the Queen's name was called she rose from her chair, but
although she tried to speak, she could not. She stood a
moment, then crossing the hall to where the King sat, she
threw herself at his feet. "Sir," she said, "I pray you do
me justice and right, and take some pity upon me. For I am a
poor woman and a stranger born out of your dominion. Alas,
sir, how have I offended you? I take God to judge that I
have ever been your true and humble wife. I have been glad
for the things which have made you glad, and I have been
sorry for the things which have made you sorry. Your friends
have been my friends, your enemies my enemies. I have loved,
for your sake, all whom you have loved. I have been your
wife these twenty years and more. If there be any just cause
for the anger you have against me, I am content to depart
 in shame and rebuke: if there be none, then I pray you to let
me have justice at your hand."
With that she rose up, and making a low curtsey to the King,
she walked proudly out of the court, a most unhappy woman,
but a grand and dignified Queen.
The King sent messengers after her to call her back, but she
would not return. Nor did she ever again come into the
The cardinals and the wise men talked for a long time, but
they could not decide whether Henry might be allowed to send
his wife away or not. The fact was the Pope was afraid of
Henry on the one hand and of the Emperor of Germany, who was
Katherine's nephew, on the other, and dared say nothing.
Then Henry grew very angry and impatient, and blamed Wolsey.
Perhaps Wolsey had something to do with the delay, for
although he did not love Queen Katherine, and would have
been quite glad to have had her sent away, he hated Anne
Boleyn, the lady whom Henry now wished to marry.
Anne Boleyn hated Wolsey too, and little by little she so
turned the King against his old friend that he took many of
his offices from Wolsey, and in the end sent him away from
"HENRY SENT WOLSEY AWAY FROM COURT"
When Wolsey was sent away, he went to a house which he had
in the country, a sad and worn-out man. He loved power, but
he loved England too, and in all he had done he had thought
of making England great in the eyes of the world. With his
wise counsels he had done much for England, and yet the
people hated him.
The nobles hated Wolsey because he was proud and haughty.
They could not forget that he was a butcher's son, and yet
they knew that although Henry ruled England, Wolsey ruled
 The common people hated him because when Henry needed money
it was Wolsey, his Chancellor, who had to wring it from the
poor. So they looked upon him as the cause of all their
sorrows, and there were few who mourned and many who were
glad at his fall.
Henry next accused Wolsey of treason and sent for him to
come to London to be tried. Worn with sorrow and sickness,
the cardinal started on his journey, but when he reached
Leicester he was so ill that he could go no further.
"Father, I am come to lay my bones among you," he said sadly
to the abbot, who came to welcome him when he arrived at the
Abbey of Leicester. It was true, for in a few days the great
cardinal lay dead. "Had I served my God as faithfully as I
have served my King," he said before he died, "He would not
have cast me off in my old age."
Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics