Page images

this order. In the year 1494, there were no less than form thousand one hundred and forty-three Dominican convents.

Their first appearance in England was about the year 1221, when twelve, with their prior Gilbert de Fraxineto, in company of Peter de la Roche, bishop of Winchester, came to Canterbury, where, presenting themselves before archbishop Steven, he commanded the prior to preach, and was so well pleased with his discourse, that he respected the order, and promoted their interest. They very soon made their way to London, and had their first establishment in Oldbourne, where, in 1250, the friars of the order of Preachers throughout Christendom, and from Jerusalem, to the number of four bundred, asscmbled in convocation, at Whitsuntide; having meat and drink found them in alms, because they had no estate of their own. On the first day Henry III. was tijeir guest, and found them in provision; the next day the queen did the same; and afterwards the hishop of London, the abbots of Westminster, St. Albau's, Waltham, and others in turn.

This old house was given by Edward I. to Hcnry Lacy, earl of Lincoln, and from him was called Lincoln's Inn.

The Black Friars increasing in numbers and power, obtained, as we have before mentioned, a grant of the site an which they built a stately priory near the Thames. To this new priory Edward I. and his queen were great benefactors; but it was with difficulty that the king obtained a grant from the bishop, dean, and chapter of London, for leave to crect a church and other buildings within their precincts.

The priory church, when built, was a spacious and richly ornamented fabric, in which, afterwards, many parliaments and other great assemblies were held, in 1450, Henry VI. commenced the parliament at Westminster, adjourned it to Blackfriars, and thence to Leicester.

In the year 1522, it was appropriated to be a lodging for the

emperor Charles V. A parliament was begun at Blackfriars, on the 15th of April 1524, when a subsidy of 800,000l. was demanded to


be raised on goods and lands, at four shillings in the pound; but which was lowered and granted to the amount of two shillings in the pound upon the goods and lands of those who were worth 201. or might dispend 201. in the year, and so increased according to the value of the estates, to be paid in two years. This parliament was adjourned to Westo" minster, among the black monks, and ended in the king's palace, on the 14th day of August, at nine o'clock at night ; it was on account of these various circumstances called The BLACK PARLIAMENT.

Here also was held the parliament in the year 1529, in which cardinals Wolsey and Campeius, commenced their judicial serutiny respecting the divorce of Henry VIII. from his queen Catharine of Arragon. Stow's account of this assembly and its process, as extracted from Hall's Chronicle, is very curious.

It seems that to obtain the favourable opinion of cardinal Campeius; or, as he is sometimes called, Campeggio, Henry had bestowed on him the bishopric of Bath. The Chronicle then goes on:

“ The good will of the same cardinall obtained to travell into England, the pope granted to their suit, and the cardinall arrived.

“ Now after deliberation and consultation in the ordering and using of the king's matters, and his commission, and the articles of his ambassage seen and read, and digested, it was determined, that the king and queen his wife should be lodged at Bridewell. And then in the Black Friars a certain place was there appointed most convenient for the king and queen's repair to the court, there to be kept for the disputation and determination of the case, whereas these two legates sate as judges before whom the king and queen were ascited and summoned to appear: which was a strange sight, and the pewest deyise that ever was read or heard of be. fure in any region, story, or chronicle, a king and a queen to be constrained by process compellatory to appear in any court as common per ons within their own realm and dominion, 10 abide the judgements and decrees of ļheir own subjects, being the royal diadem and prerogative theseof. Ye shall understand, as I have said before, that there was a court erected in the Black Friars in London, whereat sate these two cardinals for judges in the same,

3 P 2


in the months of April, May, June, and July. Now I will set you out the manner and order of the same court: First, there was a court platted in tables and benches in manner of a consistory, one seat raised higher for the judges to sit on than the other were, Then as it were in the midst of the said judges aloft above them three degrees high, was a cloth of estate hanged, with a chair Tøyal under the same, wherein sate the king, and besides him, some distance from him sate the qucen ; and under the judges sate the scribes and other necessary officers for the execution of the process, and other things pertaining to such a court,

“ The chief scribe was doctor Stevens, after bishop of Winchester, and the apparitor, who was caller of the court, was one Cooke (most commonly called Cooke of Winchester). Then be. fore the king and the judges within the court sate the archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Warham, and all the other bishops. Then stood at both ends within, the councellors learned in the laws as well the king's as the queen's.

The doctors of law for the king, were Dr. Simpson, that was after bishop of Chichester, and Dr. Bell, that was after bishop of Worcester, with divers others; and proctors in the same law on the same side were, Dr. Peter, Dr. Tregonel, and others.

On the other side for the queen were Dr. Fisher, bishop of Rochester, Dr. Standish, and Dr. Ridley, a very small man of stature, but surely a great and excellent clerk in divinity. Thus was the court furnished.

“ The judges commanded the crier to proclaim silence whilst their commission was read, both to the court, and the people assembled. That done, the scribes commanded the crier to call the king by the name of “ king Henry of England, come into court,” &c. With that the king answered and said, Here." Then called he the queen, by the name of “ Katherine queen

of England, come into court,” &c. Who made no answer, but rose incontinent out of her chair, and, because she could not come to the king directly, for the distance secured between them, she went about by the court, and came to the king, knecling down at his feet in the sight of all the court and people, to whom she said in effect these words, as followeth : Sir,' (quoth she) I desire you to 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, having here so indifferent counsel, and less assurance of friendship : alas, Sir, what have I offended you, or what occasion of displeasure have

I shewed

I shewed you, intending thus to put me from you after this sort ? I take God to my judge, I have been to you a true and an humble wife, ever conformable to your will and pleasure, that never contraried or gainsayd any thing thereof, and being always contented with all things wherein you had any delight or daliance, whether little or much, without grudge or countenance of discontentation or displeasure : I loved for your sake all them whom you loved, whether I had cause or no cause, whether they were my friends or enemies. I have been your wife these twenty years or mo, and you have had by me divers children, and when ye had me at the first, I take God to be my judge, that I was a very maid, and whether it be true or not, I put it to your conscience. If there be any just cause that you can alledge against me, either of dishonesty, or matter lawful to put me from you, I am content to depart to my shame and rebuke: and if there be none, then I pray you to let me have justice at your fand. The king your father was in his lime of such an excellent wil, that he was accounted among all men for wisdom to be a second Solomon, and the king of Spain, my father, Ferdinando, was reckoned one of the wisest princes that reigned in Spain many years before: it is not therefore to be doubted, but that they had gathered as wise counsellors unto them of every realm, as to their wisdoms they thought meet, and as to me seemeth, there were in those days as wise and well learned in both the realms, as be now at this day, who thought the marriage between you and me good and lawful: therefore it is a wonder to me to hear, what new inventions are now invented against me that never intended but honesty : and now to cause me to stand to the order and judgement of this court, ye should (as seemeth me) do me much wrong; for ye may condemn me for lack of answer, having no counsel but such as ye have assigned me: ye must consider that they cannot but be indifferent on my part, when they be your own subjects, and such as ye have taken and chosen out of your own council, whereunto they be privy, and dare not disclose your will and intent. Therefore I humbly desire you in the way of charity to spare me, until I may know what counsel and advice my friends in Spain will advertize me to take, and if you will not, then your pleasure be fulfilled.'

“ With that she rose up, making a low curtesy to the king, and departed from thence, supposing that she would have resorted again to her former place. But she took her way straight out of


the court, leaning upon the arm of one of her servants, who was her receiver-general, called Master Griffith. The king being advertized that she was ready to go out of the house, where the court was kept, commanded the crier 10 call her again, who called her by these words • Katherine, queen of England,' &c. With that, quoil Master Griffith, · Madam, ye be called again.' • On, on,' quoth she, it maketh no matter, it is no indifferent court for me, therefore I will not tarry; go on your ways.' And thus she departed without any further answer at that time or any other, and never would appear after in any court.” *

A very singular circumstance occurred on this occasion, worth re. lating. After the queen had departed, Henry did her the justice to de clare that she had been a faithful wife, and passed several high encomiums on her good qualities, and that it was only a motion of conscience that had urged this procedure ; that he had consulted his ghostly confessors, &c. who being in doubt, they reserred him from one to the other : “ Whereupon," says he, “I moved you, my lord of Canter. bury, first to have your licence, in as much as you were metropolitan, to put the matter in question ; and so I did of all you my lords, to which you granted under your seals, and that I have here to be shewed.” “ That is true, if it please your grace,” answered the archbishop: " I doubt not but my brethren here present will acknowledge the same." “ No, Sir, not so, under your correction," said the bishop of Rochester (Fisher) “ for you have not mine."

" No! ah !" exclaimed Henry, “ look here, is not this your hand and seal ?" and shewed him the instrument with seals. “ No, forsooth,” returned the bishop. Henry turning to the archbishop, asked, “ How say you to that?” “ Sir, it is his hand and scal,” rejoined the archbishop. “ No, my lord,” answered Fisher, “ indeed you were in hand with me to have both my hand and seal, as other of my lords have done ; but then I said again to you, that I never would consent to any such act, for it was very much against my conscience, and therefore my hand and seal should never be set to any such instrument, God willing, with much more matter touching the same communication between us. truth," answered the archbishop, “such words you had unto me, but you were fully resolved at last, that I should subscribe your name, and put your seals mysell, and you would allow the same.” “ All which," concluded Rochester, “under your correction, my lord, is not true." “ Well, well,” said the king, “ it maketh no great matter, we will not stand with you in argument, you are but one man.” And then the king rose up, and the court was adjourned until another day. Poor bishop Fisher was not so fortunate, on account of his conscientious proceeding, as his sovereign ; for Henry a few years after deprived him of his head, we may suppose, for conscience sake!


" You say

« PreviousContinue »