ABSTRACT

EAGER as his enemies were to undermine Cranmer’s influence with the King, they yet were often glad to employ it as a screen for themselves, and to thrust upon the Archbishop unpleasant and dangerous duties; and during the last years of Henry’s reign, though Cranmer’s chief labours were spent in quiet preparation for religious reform, he was more than once required to take an important part in secular matters. He had already been made the Council’s mouthpiece on one perilous occasion. In 1533 Henry was boiling over with fury at the Princess Mary’s stubborn refusal to relinquish her title and recognise the validity of her mother’s divorce. It was, according to Chapuys, the imperial Ambassador, Anne Boleyn who had worked him into this state of feeling, and so exasperated was he that he meditated sending the Princess to the Tower as a disobedient subject. The Council were fully alive to the consequences which would probably follow such a proceeding, but they shrank from pointing them out to Henry, fearing that wrath of the King 162which Wolsey and Warham and Norfolk declared to be death. So the burden was laid upon Cranmer’s shoulders, and the “timorous” Archbishop interceded for Mary as he did for Anne Boleyn and for Cromwell when no other durst open his mouth. In this case his pleadings succeeded, though Henry is said to have prophesied that his intervention would “be to his utter confusion at length”—a remarkable prediction if it is true. 1