Henry VIII, the Reign
The Mighty Cleric Leaves England with the Pomp of a Viceroy – Wolsey Calls on the Cardinals to Come to Him in Avignon
– Charles Blames Wolsey for Henry’s Marital State
The capture of Pope Clement VII presented another opportunity for Wolsey to further his ambitions for control of the papacy. He set off to France with ‘title of the king’s lieutenant, the powers of a plenipotentiary [full power] and the pomp of viceroy’, ostensibly to ratify the treaties of the previous April.
George Cavendish, who was with Wolsey, describes their departure from London:
By 4 August 1527 he was at Amiens, where Francis had come to meet him. Wolsey had devised a plan. While the pope was held captive, he would take control of the papacy himself and preside from Avignon. He explained to Henry that this device was also for the ‘advancement of your particular affair’, the affair being the divorce.
Within the detail of this plan was the assembly of all the cardinals. Those who had not been taken prisoner would go to Wolsey in Avignon to prevent the government of the church becoming subservient to Charles. Wolsey intended to assume the full authority of the pope during Clement’s captivity. He would use this mission to ratify the treaties with the French and, in the name of the papacy, pronounce the king’s marriage invalid.
But Charles was prepared for him. He blamed the over-mighty Wolsey for Christendom’s woes and accused him of contriving the divorce to gratify his own ambitions. He entreated the pope to revoke the legatine power conferred on the cardinal of England. At the same time he exonerated Henry because, he said, ‘It is not to be presumed that his Serenity the King would consent to have her [Princess Mary] and her mother [Catherine] dishonoured, a thing in itself so unreasonable that there is no example of it in ancient or modern history.’
Links and Notes Part 17