Young Folks' History of England HTML version

26. Henry VIII And Cardinal Wolsey, A.D. 1509—1529
The new king was very fond of the Princess Katharine, and he married her
soon after his father's death, without asking any more questions about the
right or wrong of it. He began with very gallant and prosperous times. He was
very handsome, and skilled in all sports and games, and had such frank, free
manners, that the people felt as if they had one of their best old Plantagenets
back again. They were pleased, too, when he quarreled with the King of
France, and like an old Plantagenet, led an army across the sea and besieged
the town of Tournay. Again, it was like the time of Edward III., for James IV.
of Scotland was a friend of the French king, and came across the Border with
all the strength of Scotland, to ravage England while Henry was away. But
there were plenty of stout Englishmen left, and under the Earl of Surrey, they
beat the Scots entirely at the battle of Flodden field; and King James himself
was not taken, but left dead upon the field, while his kingdom went to his
poor little baby son. Though there had been a battle in France it was not
another Crecy, for the French ran away so fast that it was called the battle of
the Spurs. However, Henry's expedition did not come to much, for he did not
get all the help he was promised; and he made peace with the French king,
giving him in marriage his beautiful young sister Mary— though King Louis
was an old, helpless, sickly man. Indeed, he only lived six weeks after the
wedding, and before there was time to fetch Queen Mary home again, she
had married a gentleman named Charles Brandon. She told he brother that
she had married once to please him, and now she had married to please
herself. But he forgave her, and made her husband Duke of Suffolk.
Henry's chief adviser, at this time, was Thomas Wolsey, Archbishop of York; a
very able man, and of most splendid tastes and habits— outdoing even the
Tudors in love of show. The pope had made him a cardinal—that is, one of
the clergy, who are counted as parish priests in the diocese of Rome, and
therefore have a right to choose the pope. They wear scarlet hats, capes, and
shoes, and are the highest rank of all the clergy except the pope. Indeed,
Cardinal Wolsey was in hopes of being chosen pope himself, and setting the
whole Church to rights—for there had been several very wicked men reigning
at Rome, one after the other, and they had brought things to such a pass that
everyone felt there would be some great judgment from God if some
improvement were not made. Most of Wolsey's arrangements with foreign
princes had this end in view. The new king of France, Francis I., was young,
brilliant and splendid, like Henry, and the two had a conference near Calais,
when they brought their queens and their whole Court, and put up tents of
velvet, silk, and gold—while everything was so extraordinarily magnificent,
that the meeting has ever since been called the Field of the Cloth of Gold.
However, nothing came of it all. Cardinal Wolsey thought Francis's enemy—
the Emperor Charles V.—more likely to help him to be pope, and make his
master go over to that side; but after all an Italian was chosen in his stead.