All who have meditated on the art of governing mankind have been convinced that the fate of empires depends on the education of youth. — Aristotle

Story of the English - Helene Guerber

Death of Wolsey

Although sent away from court in disgrace, Wolsey led so gay a life at York, and made such a display, that he won many admirers. This made Henry more jealous than ever, and as he needed more money, he suddenly sent officers to arrest his former favourite and bring him to the Tower.

This arrest broke Wolsey's heart, and as they journeyed on to London he became so ill that they had to stop at Leicester Abbey and lift him off his mule. Wolsey was by this time so feeble that he said to the abbot who came to greet him: "My father, I am come to lay my bones among you."

He was right; for, instead of getting better, he steadily sank, and died a few days later. His last words were: "Had I only served my God as diligently as I have served my king, he would not have left me alone in my gray hairs." You see, at the very end, Wolsey regretted that he had not always done what was right, regardless of the wishes of an ungrateful king.

All Wolsey's treasures fell, at his death, into the hands of the king, and the beautiful jewels he had collected became the ornaments of Anne Boleyn, who was the real cause of his sudden downfall.

In the meantime the king, who had not given up the idea of divorcing Catherine, overheard two of his officers discussing the matter with a clever young Oxford doctor named Thomas Cranmer. This young man, who belonged to the Oxford reformers, frankly said that if he were in the king's place he would not wait for the pope's decision, but would ask the universities what they thought about it.

The eavesdropping king was so delighted with this suggestion that he hired Cranmer to write a book in favour of the divorce, gave him more and more of his confidence, and finally made him Archbishop of Canterbury. As soon as he became Primate of England, Cranmer declared that the king's marriage was against the law, that he had the right to take another wife, and that Princess Mary had no claim to the crown.

A few days after this, Henry, who had made a great pretence of being very sorry to part with Catherine, had Anne Boleyn crowned as his queen. But when the news of his divorce reached Rome the pope was very angry. He said that Cranmer had no right to decide the question, and that Catherine was still Henry's wife.

The pope's refusal to agree to the divorce made Henry so furious that he now called Parliament together, and made it declare that he was head of the church within his kingdom, as well as head of the kingdom itself. Henry also asked all his subjects to sign a paper to this effect, or take the oath of supremacy, as it was called.

Now, good Roman Catholics consider the pope head of the church, so some of them refused to sign the paper or take the oath. Among these were two great and good men, Fisher, the Bishop of Rochester, and Sir Thomas More, who had been named chancellor after Wolsey.

Thomas More  and daughter

Besides being a good and noble man, Sir Thomas More was a man of genius. He had read the letters of Americus Vespucci as soon as they were printed, and had put his ideas about politics into a little story. In this book, he said that one of the companions of Vespucci had gone to the New World, where he had founded an ideal state called "Utopia"(Nowhere). Here all the people were equal, all were well educated, all were happy and healthy and good, and all had the right to worship God as they pleased.

The people of his time thought this story so absurd that Utopia was used and is still as we now use the word "fairyland." But since then a republic has been founded in the New World, where, as you know, people have the right to practise any religion they please, and we hope that some day it may become a real Utopia.

As Sir Thomas More and Fisher would not say that they accepted Henry as the head of the church, they were accused of treason, locked up in the Tower, tried, convicted, and sentenced to death. More was allowed a last parting with his favourite child, Margaret, who, after he had suffered death with great courage, bore away his remains to bury them.


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
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