Front Matter Early Times The Druids The Britons Caesar in Britain Queen Boadicea The Great Walls The Great Irish Saint The Anglo-Saxons Brave King Arthur The Laws of the Saxons The Story of St Augustine Three Great Men The Danish Pirates King Alfred and the Cakes Alfred conquers the Danes A King's Narrow Escape The King and the Outlaw The Monasteries An Unlucky Couple St Dunstan King Canute and the Waves A Saxon Nobleman Lady Godiva's Ride The Battle of Hastings The Conquest Lords and Vassals Death of William The Brothers' Quarrels Arms and Armour The "White Ship" Matilda's Narrow Escapes Story of Fair Rosamond Thomas a Becket Murder of Thomas a Becket Richard's Adventures Richard and the Saracens The Faithful Minstrel Death of Richard The Murder of Arthur The Great Charter The Rule of Henry III A Race Persecution of the Jews The Conquest of Wales A Quarrel with France The Coronation Stone The Insolent Favourite Bruce and the Spider Death of Edward II The Murderers punished The Battle of Crecy The Siege of Calais The Age of Chivalry The Battle of Poitiers The Peasants' Revolt Richard's Presence of Mind A Tiny Queen Henry's Troubles Madcap Harry A Glorious Reign The Maid of Orleans The War of the Roses The Queen and the Brigand The Triumph of the Yorks The Princes in the Tower Richard's Punishment Two Pretenders A Grasping King Field of the Cloth of Gold The New Opinions Death of Wolsey Henry's Wives The King and the Painter A Boy King Lady Jane Grey The Death of Cranmer A Clever Queen Elizabeth's Lovers Mary, Queen of Scots Captivity of Mary Stuart Wreck of the Spanish Armada The Elizabethan Age Death of Elizabeth A Scotch King The Gunpowder Plot Sir Walter Raleigh King and Parliament Cavaliers and Roundheads "Remember" The Royal Oak The Commonwealth The Restoration Plague and Fire The Merry Monarch James driven out of England A Terrible Massacre William's Wars The Duke of Marlborough The Taking of Gibraltar The South Sea Bubble Bonny Prince Charlie Black Hole of Calcutta Loss of the Colonies The Battle of the Nile Nelson's Last Signal The Battle of Waterloo First Gentleman of Europe Childhood of Queen Victoria The Queen's Marriage Wars in Victoria's Reign The Jubilee

Story of the English - Helene Guerber

The New Opinions

In those days all Europe was in a state of excitement.

The Reformation, begun so long before by Wyclif, had been steadily gaining ground; and although Wyclif's disciples, the Lollards, were sorely persecuted, their teachings had won converts in many parts of Europe.

Besides, the discovery of printing had brought into common use many books which had hitherto been in the hands of only a few learned men. The result was that people began to read more, and to form different opinions on all matters, especially on religion. These differences led sometimes to very serious disputes.

There was a man in Germany, Martin Luther, who had once been a monk, but who was now an ardent reformer; that is, he disagreed with the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, and wrote in defence of his opinions.

This bold preaching by Martin Luther made a great stir in Germany, and while some of his hearers agreed with him, others thought he ought to be burned as a heretic, or man with wrong opinions. Among those who did not approve of. Luther was Henry VIII. of England, who, after reading the reformer's book, wrote a treatise to show that he was wrong.

Priding himself upon his cleverness, Henry sent a copy of his work to the pope, who was so pleased with it that he bestowed upon the English monarch the name of "Defender of the Faith." This title is still borne by British sovereigns, and you can see it stamped on English coins to-day.

But although Henry thought it so very wicked of Luther not to obey the pope, you will soon see that he did not always do so himself. Henry had, as you remember, married his brother's widow, Catherine of Aragon. They had many children, but all died in infancy, except a sickly little girl named Mary.

As no woman had ever yet really reigned in England, Henry was afraid that if he died the crown would pass out of his family. He longed to have a son, was tired of Catherine, now that she was old, and wished he could marry one of her pretty waiting women, Anne Boleyn, with whom he had fallen in love.

To get rid of Catherine, Henry first said he was sure God was displeased with him, because all his baby boys had died. Next he said that God must be angry because he had married his brother's widow, a marriage which the Catholic Church seldom allows.

When he had thus paved the way, Henry bade Wolsey send to Rome and ask the pope for a divorce. Wolsey obeyed, but although he tried very hard, he could not get the divorce. The fact was that the pope did not know what to do. He knew that the reformers were growing in numbers, and feared that if he refused, Henry VIII. would join their ranks. But if he granted the divorce he knew it would offend Queen Catherine's nephew, the Emperor Charles, who was master of all Italy, and who kept the pope almost a prisoner in Rome.

Henry VIII. and Anne Boleyn.


In spite of all Henry's urgings, therefore, the pope would not give a decided answer; but after a year of wavering, he sent his legate to talk over the matter with Wolsey. Now there was more delay, for the legate tried to make Henry give up the divorce, while Wolsey tried to persuade Queen Catherine to withdraw into a nunnery. Neither would consent, and the king, angry at these delays, began to hate his former friend Wolsey. One day he asked the chancellor for the state accounts. By mistake, Wolsey brought the king his own private account book. Henry opened it, and, finding that the chancellor was far richer than he had ever supposed, grew jealous of his subject's wealth, and made up his mind to take back his presents. Wolsey was therefore forced to give up his two palaces, which became the property of the king, and to go and live at York.