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bishops "favour as much as they dare the Bishop of Rome's laws and his ways."1
Even the actual meaning attached to the formal acknowledgment of the king's Headship by the clergy was sufficiently ambiguous to be understood, by some at least, as aimed merely at the temporal jurisdiction of the Roman curia. It is true it is usually understood that Convocation, by its act acknowledging Henry as sole supreme Head of the Church of England, gave him absolute spiritual jurisdiction. Whatever may have been the intention of the king in requiring the acknowledgment from the clergy, it seems absolutely certain that the ruling powers in the Church considered that by their grant there was no derogation of the Pope's spiritual jurisdiction.
A comparison of the clauses required by Henry with those actually granted by Convocation makes it evident that any admission that the crown had any cure of souls, that is, spiritual jurisdiction, was specifically guarded against. In place of the clause containing the words, "cure of souls committed to his Majesty," proposed in the king's name to his clergy, they adopted the form, "the nation committed to his Majesty." The other royal demands were modified in the same manner, and it is consequently obvious that all the insertions proposed by the crown were weighed with the greatest care by skilled ecclesiastical jurists in some two and thirty sessions, and the changes introduced by them with the proposals made on behalf of the king throw considerable light upon the meaning which Convocation intended to give to the Supremum Caput clause. In one sense, perhaps not the obvious one, but one that had de facto been recognised during Catholic ages, the sovereign was the Protector— the advocatus—of the Church in his country, and to him the clergy would look to protect his people from the intro
1 Lancelot Ridley, Commentary in Englyshe on Sayncte Paule's to the Ephesians, L. 4.
duction of heresy and for maintenance in their temporalities. So that whilst, on the one hand, the king and Thomas Crumwell may well have desired the admission of Henry's authority over "the English Church, whose Protector and supreme Head he alone is," to cover even spiritual jurisdiction, on the other hand, Warham and the English bishops evidently did intend it to cover only an admission that the king had taken all jurisdiction in temporals, hitherto exercised by the Pope in England, into his own hands.
Moreover, looking at what was demanded and at what was granted by the clergy, there is little room for doubt that they at first deliberately eliminated any acknowledgment of the Royal jurisdiction. This deduction is turned into a certainty by the subsequent action of Archbishop Warhami. He first protested that the admission was not to be twisted "in derogation of the Roman Pontiff or the Apostolic See," and the very last act of his life was the drafting of an elaborate exposition, to be delivered in the House of Lords, of the impossibility of the king's having spiritual jurisdiction, from the very nature of the constitution of the Christian Church. Such jurisdiction, he claimed, belonged of right to the Roman See.1
That the admission wrung from the clergy in fact formed the thin end of the wedge which finally severed the English Church from the spiritual jurisdiction of the Holy See is obvious. But the "thin end" was, there can be hardly any doubt, the temporal aspect of the authority of the Roman See; and that its insertion at all was possible may be said in greater measure to be due to the fact that the exercise of jurisdiction in temporals by a foreign authority had long been a matter which many Englishmen had strongly resented.
1 This important paper was printed for the first time in the Dublin Review, April, 1894, pp. 390 420.
It is very generally asserted that on the eve of the Reformation the laity in England had no particular love or respect for churchmen. That there were grave difficulties and disagreements between the two estates is supposed to be certain. On the face of it, however, the reason and origin of what is frequently called "the grudge" of laymen against the ecclesiastics is obviously much misunderstood. Its extent is exaggerated, its origin put at an earlier date than should be assigned to it, and the whole meaning of the points at issue interpreted quite unnecessarily as evidence of a popular and deep-seated disbelief in the prevailing ecclesiastical system. To understand the temper of people and priest in those times, it is obviously necessary to examine into this question in some detail. We are not without abundant material in the literature of the period for forming a judgment as to the relations which then existed between the clerical and lay elements in the State. Fortunately, not only have we assertions on the one side and on the other as to the questions at issue, but the whole matter was debated at the time in a series of tracts by two eminent laymen. The discussion was carried on between an anonymous writer, now recognised as the lawyer, Christopher SaintGerman, and Sir Thomas More himself.
Christopher Saint-German, who is chiefly known as the writer of a Dialogue in English between a Student of Law •
and a Doctor of Divinity, belonged to the Inner Temple, and was, it has already been said, a lawyer of considerable repute. About the year 1532, a tract from his pen called A treatise concerning the division between the spiritualtie and temporaltie appeared anonymously. To this Sir Thomas More, who had just resigned the office of Chancellor, replied in his celebrated Apology, published in 1533. SaintGerman rejoined in the same year with A Dyalogue between two Englishmen, whereof one is called Salem and the other Bizance, More immediately retorting with the Debellacyon of Salem and Bizance. In these four treatises the whole matter of the supposed feud between the clergy and laity is thrashed out, and the points at issue are clearly stated and discussed.
Christopher Saint-German's position is at first somewhat difficult to understand. By some of his contemporaries he was considered to have been tainted by " the new teaching " in doctrinal matters, which at the time he wrote was making some headway in England. He himself, however, professes to write as a loyal believer in the teaching of the Church, but takes exception to certain ecclesiastical laws and customs which in his opinion are no necessary part of the system at all. In these he thinks he detects the cause of the " division that had risen between the spiritualtie and the temporaltie." Sir Thomas More, it may be remarked, is always careful to treat the writer as if he believed him to be a sincere Catholic, though mistaken in both the extent of the existing disaffection to the Church and altogether impracticable in the remedies he suggested. In some things it must, however, be confessed, granting Saint-German's facts, that he shows weighty grounds for some grievance against the clergy on the part of the laity.
The treatise concerning the division begins by expressing regret at the unfortunate state of things which the author pre-supposes as existing in England when he wrote in 1532, contrasting it with what he remembered before. "Who may remember the state of this realm now in these days," he writes, "without great heaviness and sorrow of heart? For whereas, in times past, there has reigned charity, meekness, concord, and peace, there now reigns envy, pride, division, and strife, and that not only between laymen and churchmen, but also between religious and religious, and between priests and religious, and what is more to be lamented also between priests and priests. This division has been so universal that it has been a great (cause of) disquiet and a great breach of charity through all the realm."1
It must be confessed that if this passage is to be taken as it stands, the division would appear to have been very widely spread at the time. Sir Thomas More, whilst denying that the difficulty was so great as Saint-German would make out, admits that in late years the spirit had grown and was still growing apace. He holds, however, that Saint-German's reasons for its existence are not the true ones, and that his methods will only serve to increase the spirit of division. As regards the quarrels between religious, at which Saint-German expresses his indignation, he says: "Except this man means here by religious folk, either women and children with whose variances the temporality is not very much disturbed, or else the lay brethren, who are in some places of religion, and who are neither so many nor so much esteemed, that ever the temporality was much troubled at their strife, besides this there is no variance between religious and religious with which the temporality have been offended."1 Again: "Of some particular variance among divers persons of the clergy I have indeed heard, as sometimes one against
1 A treatise concerning the division between the spiritiialtie and temporallie. London: Robert Redman, f. 2.
1 English Works, p. 871. In the quotations made from the works of Sir Thomas More and other old writings, for the sake of the general reader the modern form of spelling has been adopted, and at times the words transposed to ensure greater clearness.