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As the king advanced in years, he suffered most severely from an ulcer in his thigh; he had become so unwieldy in person that machines were invented to move him; his temper, never good, now grew even ferocious; and his caprice and cruelty were such that even his attendants feared to approach him. He seemed to live for severity. The fatal axe in the Tower was constantly employed, and the fires in Smithfield blazed with innocent victims. The most distinguished of these was Anne Askew, who had been put to the torture by the Chancellor Wriottesly with his own hands, and died with remarkable faith and devotion. The last victim of Henry's tyranny was the accomplished Earl of Surrey, who was beheaded in the Tower, on the most slender and ill-supported charges. His father, the Duke of Norfolk, escaped a similar fate only by the death of Henry on the night before he had been ordered for execution. The king breathed his last Jan. 1547, and was succeeded by Prince Edward, his only son.
Henry was never unpopular with his subjects. His measures, indeed, occasioned at times some partial insurrections, the principal of which (called the Pilgrimage of Grace) was in the year 1536; but they were put down without difficulty. The people remembered the early magnificence of his reign; and, among all his vices, he possessed that blunt courtesy and openness of hand, which are so captivating in persons of his exalted rank.
Born at Hampton Court. Buried in Westminster Abbey. Reigned 6 years. From A.D. 1547 to a.d. 1553.
Archbishop of Canterbury.
Thomas Cranmer, A.D. 1533–1555.
EDWARD was little more than nine years old when he became king. He had been trained in the principles of those who had sought and found, amid the additions of Romanism, the elements of the pure and primitive faith. His intelligence was beyond his years, and his early piety was a pattern to all around him. When the three swords were (as was usual) carried before him at his coronation, he said, "There is yet one wanting," and called for a Bible. For," said he, "that is the sword of the Spirit, without which we are nothing." His uncle, who became Duke of Somerset, and was declared Protector, was a firm friend to the Reformation, which was now zealously promoted. Englishmen cannot be sufficiently thankful that this great religious movement was, under the Divine Providence, guided by a prelate of Cranmer's moderation and judgment. In Germany and Scotland it was, to a great degree, conducted by persons whom their zeal against popery made blind to the apostolic origin of many established practices. Thus excesses were committed by the mobs in many places; churches were profaned and mutilated, and wild and extravagant doctrines were preached.. In England, by God's blessing, a milder spirit pervaded all the changes that were made; and it was a great advantage that these changes were made by the authorities in Church and State, not by the zeal of individuals nor by the lawlessness of mobs. The principle on which changes were made was not a mere antipathy to Rome, but a desire to return to Scripture and primitive usage. Thus the use of a prescribed form for public worship was retained, together with the apostolic institution of Episcopacy, while the comparatively modern corruptions of Romanism were removed. The principal of
these were, the practice of praying in an unknown tongue; the withholding the Bible from general use; the enforced celibacy of the clergy; the doctrine called transubstantiation, which we have already explained; the denial of the cup to the laity; the undue honour paid to saints and images; the worship paid to the Virgin Mary; and the doctrine of purgatory, with the notion connected with it, that remission can be purchased from the pope in favour of ourselves or others. In the course of this reign, and chiefly under the influence of Cranmer, and Ridley, bishop of London, the Liturgy' was cleansed from these errors, and brought into nearly its present form.
In the first year of King Edward's reign, Dec. 1547, it was ordered that the Lord's Supper should be distributed to the people, and that the cup in particular should be no longer withheld from them. A commission was issued about the same time to draw up an Office for the Holy Eucharist. This was completed on the 8th of March, 1548, and enjoined to be used forthwith. A considerable portion of it, however, was still in Latin. A new commission, therefore, was soon issued (chiefly to the same divines) directing them to prepare a complete collection of Divine Offices for public worship. The members of it met at Windsor in May, 1548, and drew up a Book of Common Prayer and Administration of the Sacraments, &c., which was approved by the Church in Convocation, and enjoined by act of parliament in the ensuing January, "to be used from the feast of Whit-Sunday, 1549." The principles on which it was compiled were, a desire to retain whatever was sanctioned by ancient usage, (provided it did not give occasion to superstition,) and an avoidance of novelty as such. This Prayer Book is substantially the same as that now in use. Modifications of it were made in 1552, some of which seem scarcely to have been required; but several
→ The word Liturgy, in the language of the ancient Church, was used to denote the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. By a natural transition of meaning, it next signified the Office, or Form of Words, in which it was celebrated. Hence it became gradually used to denote the Church's Offices in general, viz. the whole Prayer Book.
4 The two editions of the Prayer Book set forth in 1549 and 1552, are called respectively the First and Second Books of King Edward the Sixth. It is worth noticing that the Second Book was never authorized by Convocation.
of these were rejected on reconsideration of the subject in later reigns.
A Book for Consecrating and Ordaining Bishops, Priests, and Deacons was drawn up in 1550.
It would be foreign to our purpose to enter more minutely upon the contents of the Prayer Book, its relation to the forms of prayer used in other Churches, and in the Church of England itself before the Reformation, or the exact nature of the changes introduced into it at the successive revisions, which will be noticed in their proper place.
To secure soberness of speculation on the part of the clergy, forty-two Articles of Religion were agreed upon, in A.D. 1552, which were almost the same with the present Thirty-nine Articles of our Church. To ensure soundness in the practical teaching given to the people, and to remedy, as far as might be, the existing want of persons able to preach, homilies or sermons were drawn up, A.D. 1547,. to be read in churches on Sundays and Holy-days. All this was done by the Church itself, under the direction of Cranmer, by the assistance of the most eminent divines of the day, with the sanction and approval of Convocation. The Church proved its vitality by existing through such troublous times, and by its activity in reforming its abuses. The civil power stepped in to aid it, and all the measures which it carried through received external confirmation from the king and the three estates of the realm in parliaThese changes were not made without occasioning some discontent and risings of the peasantry, who suffered severely from the suppression of monasteries; but the Protector, with all his ambition, was humane and gentle, and succeeded in quieting the excitement of the people.
Somerset was very desirous of obtaining for his nephew the hand of the young Queen of Scots, and led an army into Scotland to enforce his demand. This rough method of wooing was not very likely to succeed; and though he
5 The student is referred to Palmer's "Origines Liturgice," and Wheatly "On the Common Prayer;" but a plain and popular account of this interesting subject may be found in Archdeacon Berens' “History of the Prayer Book," published by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.
6 The three estates are, the Lords Spiritual, the Lords Temporal, and the Commons.
overthrew the Scots with great loss at Pinkie, near Edinburgh, the young queen was sent to France to be educated, and was there married to the dauphin.
The Protector's brother had been made high admiral, with the title of Lord Seymour. He had also married Queen Katharine Parr, but was jealous of Somerset, and tried to undermine his power. When his aim became too plain, he was tried and executed by his brother's order on a charge of treason. The influence, however, of the Protector began to decline. His concessions to the people had displeased the nobles; and his ambition led him to grasp at more power than any subject had enjoyed. He had also begun to build the palace in the Strand, which is still called Somerset House, by means which cannot be justified. His chief enemy was Dudley, who became Duke of Northumberland, and by his influence he was forced to give up his office, and was severely fined. Having afterwards unguardedly used some violent words, he was tried for high treason, and beheaded in the Tower, to the great grief of the people.
The health of the young king now rapidly declined, and Northumberland induced him to alter the succession to the throne, with a view to the aggrandizement of his own family. The Ladies Mary and Elizabeth had both been named in their father's will to succeed after their brother, but had previously been declared illegitimate by act of parliament; and as Mary was firmly attached to the Church of Rome, the young king was easily worked upon to take advantage of that act, and appoint a successor from the family of his aunt the Queen of France by the Duke of Suffolk. The person thus appointed was the Lady Jane Grey, whom Northumberland had contrived to marry to his son, Lord Guildford Dudley. The king required his councillors to sign the devise in Lady Jane's favour; and Cranmer, among the rest, reluctantly put his hand to it. Edward breathed his last July 6, 1553. Shortly before his death, he had been so moved by a sermon of Bishop Ridley on the duty of providing for the poor, that he sent for him, and with tears desired his advice in the fulfilment of that duty. The result of that advice was the foundation of Christ's Hospital, for the education of poor children; St. Thomas's and St. Bartholomew's, for the relief of the sick; and Bridewell, for the correction of the vicious.