Archbishop of York Bainbridge Is an Obstacle – Bainbridge Murdered – Wolsey Becomes Archbishop of York – Mary’s Marriage to Charles Is Off –Mary Married to French King Instead – Heretic Hunne Hanged
Henry was engrossed in the details of Mary’s wedding, which would be a marriage to the Habsburgs – the dynastic arch-enemy of the French Valois.
Wolsey, on a path heading in the opposite direction, circumvented the anti-French Bainbridge, who, increasingly isolated, was highly sceptical of what Wolsey was doing behind the king’s back with foreign policy and the proposed peace with France.
As important to Wolsey as implementing a pro-French policy was that he wanted to oust Bainbridge. He wanted to take over for himself not just the archbishopric of York but Bainbridge’s cardinalate as well, and so he employed his own man, Silvestro de’ Gigli, absentee Bishop of Worcester, to secure his wants in Italy.
In July 1514 Bainbridge was murdered.
With spectacular momentum, Wolsey then became Archbishop of York, and, by the time the news of Bainbridge’s death had travelled the twelve hundred pot-holed miles from Rome to London, he had the archbishop’s milliner already at work on a hat for his own head.
It is probable that Thomas Cromwell was working for the archdiocese of York at the time.
It seemed Wolsey’s fortune had no bounds and his efforts with the French and the pope succeeded, at least for him. He brought England in line with papal policy. Mary’s long-standing marriage contract to Charles remained unfulfilled; the contractual stipulation that it should take place by 15 May 1514 had been breached long since. With his sister jilted so near, and yet so far, from the altar, young Henry Tudor was on the brink of dynastic humiliation at the hands of the Habsburgs and the Trastámars. Wolsey, however, rescued him with a spectacular face-saving act of retribution: Mary overtly repudiated Charles and then contracted to marry the fifty-two-year-old King Louis XII of France and create a union with the Valois dynasty instead.
She was crowned Queen of France on 5 November 1514.
The pope demanded credit for Mary’s marriage, effectively a marriage of England to France, but was worried that his plan was not sufficiently appreciated. To remedy this, Wolsey arranged to have the papal influence mentioned, with honour, in the marriage contract, which he thought would bind the pope to grant the cardinalate Wolsey wanted.
Now Henry gave Wolsey his support, and in doing so bowed to the power of the cleric. On 12 August 1514, Henry wrote to the pope requesting him to make Wolsey a cardinal, with all the honours held by the late Cardinal of York. Henry said that Wolsey’s merits were such that he esteemed him above all his other dearest friends and could do nothing of the least importance without him – true words indeed.
The Mary–Louis marriage was a short one. The king died on 1 January 1515. Whether a compliment to the king’s efforts or lamentation for his poor health is not entirely clear, but some jibed that it was either the consummation or an inability to realise the consummation act that killed him. Whichever it was, Mary was not unattended for long, because her brother’s jousting compatriot, Charles Brandon, who had gone to collect her from France, married her on the way home to England. One of her attendants, however, remained in France for some time and has become known over the centuries as Anne Boleyn. With a cleric running the kingdom, a certain Richard Hunne was found hanging in his cell on 4 December 1514. He was being held on charges of heresy but had disputed the legality of clerical authority in a secular court. The circumstances were suspicious, and ever since murder, not suicide, has been suspected. The Hunne affair is often cited as the first event of the Reformation in England; be that as it may, some anti-clericalists were beginning to stir.