History of the Catholic Church - J. MacCaffrey

The Reformation in Great Britain and Ireland

In England

In England the Wars of the Roses had put an end to the power of the nobility, and Henry VII. (1485–1509) found himself in the peculiar position of being absolute ruler of the country. When he died (1509) he was succeeded by his son, Henry VIII., who was welcomed by the people, and who, though he made some concessions to popular opinion, still claimed an unlimited power. The parliament was but a machine for registering his decrees, and the bishops and the clergy were almost as subservient as the parliament. The great body of the people were supposed to have no mind of their own, and were expected to follow blindly the directions of the ruler. Without realising this point, it is difficult to understand how England was separated from the Catholic Church and plunged into schism merely at the whim of a clever, self-willed, sensual despot like Henry VIII.

During the preceding centuries many disputes had broken out between the king of England and the Holy See. But these disputes did not interfere with the recognition of the Pope as supreme head of the Church by both secular and ecclesiastical authorities. So well admitted was this fact, that such a keen lawyer as Sir Thomas More declared in the speech which he made in his own defence at his trial, that the unity of the Church and the authority of the Pope were so clearly established, that for England to refuse obedience to the Holy See was as unreasonable as if any English city were to cut itself off from the rest of the kingdom and refuse to recognise the authority of the king. Yet, undoubtedly, these disputes did much to complicate the issues at the beginning of the quarrel with Henry VIII., and prevented many people from seeing that the question at stake then was very different from those involved in earlier conflicts with the Pope.

Nor does it appear that at the time there were very grave abuses in the English Church. The great body of the bishops were worthy men; the clergy were attentive in the discharge of their duties, especially of the duty of preaching; schools had been established and provided with ample endowments; the Renaissance movement had, indeed, made great headway, but its greatest scholars and patrons were attached to Rome; and as a general rule the monasteries were free from any serious scandals, a fact which may be proved from the reports of the commission appointed by Henry VIII. to inquire into their working. Here and there, no doubt, there were complaints about the negligence of the clergy and the riches of the monasteries, and there were also some who favoured the Lutheran movement, but the attempts made to introduce the German heresy into the English Church were sternly repressed. In this work of repression Henry VIII. himself took a leading part, and when Luther began to assail the doctrines of the Catholic Church Henry wrote a learned defence of the seven Sacraments, for which he received the thanks of the Pope and the title of Defender of the Faith, a title to which he and his Protestant successors have clung with such tenacity.

The sole causes of the separation of England from the Holy See were the unbridled passion of Henry VIII., the utter subservience of parliament and clergy, and the general misunderstanding of the issues at stake. At the instigation of his father, Henry VIII. took as his wife Catherine of Aragon who had been married previously to Henry's deceased brother Arthur. For this second marriage a dispensation had been obtained from Pope Julius II. For close on twenty years Henry and Catherine lived together as man and wife, six children having been born to them, all of whom died, except one daughter, Mary, afterwards Queen Mary. Henry grew tired of Catherine and wished to marry a lady of the court, Anne Boleyn, with whose sister, if not with whose mother, he had already contracted illicit relations. He decided to apply to the Pope for a declaration that the marriage with Catherine was null and void on the ground, principally, that marriage with a deceased brother's wife was forbidden by divine law, and consequently, that the dispensation given by Julius II. was worthless. When this application was presented to the Pope he appointed Cardinal Campeggio and Cardinal Wolsey to try the case in England. The commission opened in 1529, but Catherine refused to plead in the presence of such judges, and before any definite sentence could be pronounced the Pope summoned both parties to submit the case to Rome.

The failure to procure a divorce led to the downfall of Cardinal Wolsey, whose place was taken by Thomas Cromwell, the man who first suggested to Henry VIII. the idea of making himself head of the English Church, and by Cranmer, afterwards archbishop of Canterbury. An appeal was made to the universities in England, France and Italy, and owing to the threats of Henry, the interference of his friend Francis I., and the shameless use of money made by his agents in Italy, several of the universities declared that the marriage with Catherine was invalid, or at least doubtful. While the case was pending, in order to frighten Rome into consenting to his views, Henry forced the Convocation of the clergy to accept him as Protector and, supreme head of the church of England "as far as the law of Christ allows" (1531). Various other measures were passed in quick succession, such as the statute of convocation, forbidding the clergy to legislate for their own body without the king's consent, and the act empowering Henry to withhold the payment of first fruits to the Holy See. Just at this critical moment the archbishopric of Canterbury became vacant and Henry determined to make Cranmer archbishop. Cranmer was a man who was already committed heart and soul to the Lutheran movement, and in his wanderings in Germany had taken to himself a wife; the existence of whom he carefully concealed from his master. Cranmer, having first made a secret declaration that he did not intend to observe the oath which he was going to take, went through the ceremony of consecration and swore allegiance to the Pope (1533). Seeing that Rome was unwilling to grant a divorce, Cranmer offered to try the case himself with Henry's permission, and Henry having graciously consented, Cranmer pronounced the marriage with Catherine of Aragon invalid. Anne Boleyn, who had been secretly married to Henry, was now crowned (1533), and an act of succession was passed by Parliament declaring that the children of Henry and Anne were the lawful heirs to the crown. Finally, in 1534 the rupture with Rome was completed when the Act of Supremacy was passed by which Henry was declared supreme head of the church in England. Clement VII., who had been delaying his decision in the hope that Henry might change his mind and might be induced to submit, declared the marriage with Catherine of Aragon to be a valid marriage from which no divorce was possible.

The great majority of the people of England did not realise the significance of the events that were taking place. They had been accustomed to disputes between the kings and the Popes and they thought that on this, as on other occasions, the trouble would soon pass. The same excuse, however, cannot be made for the bishops, clergy and lay leaders, most of whom were so afraid of Henry that they carefully concealed in their own minds the fears which they entertained. Bishop Fisher of Rochester and Sir Thomas More were brought to trial and were put to death for refusing to subscribe to the recent legislation, as were also numbers of the Carthusians and the Franciscans who were unwilling to bend the knee to the king and his mistress. Thomas Cromwell was appointed Vicar General, and to him was committed the task of forcing the bishops and the clergy to accept the new conditions. A commission was sent to examine into the working of the religious houses, but the commission had little fault to find with the greater monasteries, though it reported unfavourably of the lesser monasteries. A Bill was passed ordering the suppression of the less important monasteries, and the suppression was carried out with great severity (1536). This step brought it home to the minds of the English people that a great religious change was taking place, and immediately the North and West flew to arms (1537). Their leaders demanded the restitution of the monasteries, the dismissal of Cromwell and the extirpation of heresy, and it looked as if the insurrection were bound to succeed. But Henry sent against the rebels the Duke of Norfolk, who induced them to disband by promising that their wishes would be attended to. Once the danger was passed a frightful slaughter began of all those who were suspected of having taken part in the movement; the monasteries were entirely suppressed, and their property was handed over to the greedy English nobles.

Meanwhile, the ecclesiastical and civil leaders in England were divided into two sections. One party wished for a return to the Catholic Church, or at least wished to prevent any innovations of doctrine or worship, so that on the death of Henry the schism might be ended; the other party, led by Cranmer and Cromwell, aimed at throwing England entirely into the hands of Luther. Henry refused to agree with either party, and in 1539 he passed the famous Statute of the Six Articles which laid down the truth of Transubstantiation, the sufficiency of communion under one kind, clerical celibacy, the validity of vows of chastity, the utility of private masses, and the necessity for auricular confession. For the denial of Transubstantiation the penalty was death at the stake, and for a denial of the other articles, imprisonment and forfeiture. Till his death in 1547 Henry strove to enforce this statute, and the enemies of Transubstantiation were punished as harshly as the defenders of the Papacy.

Thomas Cromwell, the man who took such a part in the separation of England from the Church, was put to death in 1540, and Cranmer on more than one occasion had a narrow escape. Anne Boleyn, for whose sake England was separated from the Holy See, was charged with incest and adultery, and was executed, Cranmer having previously declared that the marriage with Henry was null and void. Of this marriage Elizabeth was the only child. Jane Seymour, Henry's third wife, and mother of Edward VI., died a natural death. Anne of Cleves, Henry's fourth wife, was divorced; the fifth, Catherine Howard, was executed for adultery; and the sixth and last, Catherine Parr, escaped with her life, though, on one occasion when she ventured to disagree with Henry's theological views, she nearly met the fate of the others. That the parliament submitted to such a tyrant and consented to change the succession to the throne at his bidding, is a proof of the power of Henry and of the want of spirit among the English nobles.

On the death of Henry in 1547 he was succeeded by his infant son, Edward VI. (1547–53). The power passed into the hands of the Protector, Hertford, and his, friends, who belonged to the reforming party, and wholesale religious changes were undertaken at once. The Statute of the Six Articles was repealed; a communion service in English was inserted in the Mass; a new prayer book was introduced; later on the Mass was abolished, the use of the Book of Common Prayer was made obligatory on all, and a new creed consisting of forty-two articles was drawn up as the official creed of the English Church (1552). During the lifetime of Edward VI. his ministers had left nothing undone to wipe out the Catholic religion in England, but, as events in the next reign showed, the great mass of the people had little sympathy with such changes.

On his death-bed, Edward VI. arranged that Lady Jane Grey should succeed him (1553). But the people wanted Mary, the daughter of Henry VIII. and of Catherine of Aragon. As soon as the news of the death of Edward and the proclamation of Lady Jane Grey had spread through England, volunteers flocked to Mary's standard from all sides, and at the head of a large army she entered London in triumph. Lady Jane Grey and her principal supporters were put to death.

Queen Mary was face to face with a difficult situation, and it is no wonder that her cousin, Charles V., advised prudence and moderation. Bishops Gardiner and Bonner, who had been imprisoned for their opposition to the Reformation, were rectored to their sees; the bishops who were known to have been against the changes made under Edward VI. were allowed to retain their bishoprics; Cranmer, Ridley and Latimer were arrested; the churches were reopened, and in a short time a stranger might have failed to notice that any change had taken place in England since the days of Henry VII.

Parliament had no difficulty in accepting Mary as Queen, and in abolishing all the religious reforms that had been introduced into England during the reign of Edward VI. The only thing that prevented a complete reconciliation with the Pope was the fear that the nobles, who had secured the lands of the monasteries and the Church, might be dispossessed. Negotiations were opened with Rome, and when an agreement was arrived at by which those who held the property were allowed to retain it, Cardinal Pole was sent into England as legate to absolve the country from censure and to restore it to communion with Rome. Both Lords and Commons voted for reunion, and on their bended knees they received absolution from the papal legate (1554). Against the wishes of Cardinal Pole, Mary determined to put down heresy with a strong hand. Ridley, Latimer and Cranmer, the 'latter of whom showed himself an arrant coward almost to the last, were put to death, as were also a large number of their friends. But, if we compare the number of those who suffered death in the reign of Mary with the number of those who met a similar fate in the reign of Henry or of Elizabeth, it is difficult to understand why Mary should have been singled out for the epithet "bloody." The marriage of the Queen with Philip II. of Spain, and the fear that England was going to become a Spanish province to be ruled by Philip II., for whom the English people entertained the greatest dislike, helped to turn the people against Mary and prepared the way for their acceptance of Elizabeth.

Elizabeth was proclaimed Queen on the death of Mary (1558). During the lifetime of her sister she had kept in close touch with the Protestant leaders, though in externals she lived as a Catholic. But hardly was she seated on the throne than she threw off the mask and followed in the footsteps of her father. All the legislation that had been passed against the Pope was renewed. By the Act of Supremacy, passed in 1559, the Queen was declared supreme governor in spiritual as well as in temporal matters. The Act of Uniformity was also enacted, which prescribed the use of the second Prayer Book of Edward VI., and ordered the attendance of the laity at divine service. Later on, in 1563, the Thirty Nine Articles were drawn up as the official creed of the church.

This time, however, the bishops were not so subservient. They realised that now at any rate they were face to face with heresy, and, like men, they refused to make any compromise. To every step taken in favour of heresy they offered the strongest resistance, and when they failed, they went to prison rather than submit. Kitchen, the bishop of Llandaff, was the only man of the English bishops who betrayed his trust. The Catholic bishops having been removed the next point was to fill the vacancies thus created. Parker was created archbishop of Canterbury, but none of the bishops would agree to consecrate him. Finally, Barlow, a bishop appointed by Henry VIII., and two Edwardine bishops were induced to perform the ceremony, and they employed at it the formula of consecration prescribed by Edward VI. It is from Parker the English clergy derive their orders, and it is because the form used on this and subsequent occasions was so completely corrupted by the reformers, that the Anglican Orders have been declared invalid. Many of the clergy refused to conform, and were dismissed, while a large body of the people that attended the English service also went secretly to Mass.

The Pope, who had hoped that Elizabeth would change her policy, refrained from taking any decisive action, but at last, in 1570 Pius V. published the bull of ex-communication. This served only to raise the anger of the queen who ordered a violent persecution of the Catholics, and great numbers, especially of the clergy, were put to death. The intrigues carried on by some of the Catholics with Spain, and the attempt made by Philip II. to invade England, served to strengthen the position of Elizabeth by rousing the national patriotism of her people, and enabled her to succeed in her policy of making England Protestant.

Yet, on the accession of James I. (1603), a large number of Catholics were still in England, and were ministered to by the priests who had come from Douai, where Cardinal Allen had established an English college, as well as by members of the religious orders. The Catholics hoped for some relief from the son of Mary Queen of Scots, but the Gunpowder Plot, which aimed at blowing up the Houses of Parliament and which was the work of a few desperate men with whose action the Catholic body had no sympathy, prepared the way for a new persecution. Many were put to death and large fines were exacted for non-attendance at Protestant service. During the closing years of the reign of James, his anxiety for the marriage of his son, Charles, to a Spanish princess, helped to put an end to the persecution.

Charles I. (1625–40) was not inclined to enforce the laws against Catholics so long as they were willing to pay for his protection. When the civil war broke out, almost to a man they ranged themselves on the side of the king, and they paid dearly for their loyalty by the punishments they were called upon to endure after the triumph of Cromwell and the Parliamentarians. On the restoration of Charles II. (1660), the Catholics who had done so much for him when his cause seemed hopeless, expected freedom of worship. Charles himself was personally favourable to them, but his advisers strongly objected, and Charles was not the man to take any risks for his friends. During the greater part of his reign, though the laws against Catholics remained on the statute book, and though proclamations were published from time to time yet they were really seldom enforced. In 1672 the king issued a declaration abolishing the penalties enacted against Catholics and Nonconformists; but Parliament objected strongly to this declaration, and passed a law requiring all who held any office under the Crown to subscribe a declaration against Transubstantiation and to receive the Eucharist according to the rites of the English church. His brother, James Duke of York, resigned his office of Lord High Admiral rather than submit to such a law. Later on, the infamous Titus Oates brought forward his story of a Catholic plot, and great numbers of Catholic clergy suffered death, the last victim being the Venerable Oliver Plunket, Archbishop of Armagh, When the first wave of panic and bigotry had passed, the English people began to realise that the plot existed only in the minds of Oates and his perjured assistants, and the persecution was abandoned. Charles II. died in 1685, having been reconciled to the Church before his death.

He was succeeded by his brother, James II. James was an ardent Catholic himself and sincerely anxious for the conversion of his countrymen, but was entirely wanting in the prudence and caution required for such a delicate situation. He was at first immensely popular, but the cruelties of his officers and judges, during and after the rebellion of Monmouth, his attempts to override the law by royal dispensations, and his unconcealed intention of reintroducing the Catholic religion, alienated a large body of his subjects. In 1688 he published the Declaration of Indulgence, abrogating the laws and tests against Catholics and Nonconformists. The clergy were ordered to read this declaration from their pulpits, but the archbishop of Canterbury and six of his suffragan bishops protested. For this protest they were imprisoned and brought to trial, but the king failed to secure a verdict against them. Their acquittal, and the birth of an heir, determined the Protestant party to revolt. They invited William of Orange, the son-in-law of James II., to invade the country, and James, instead of taking the necessary measures for his defence, fled to France (1688). Parliament conferred the crown on William III. and Mary. Personally, William was not in favour of persecution, but he was obliged to give way to Parliament, which passed the most violent measures against the Catholic clergy and laity. During this reign and the reign of Anne the situation of Catholics in England seemed to be desperate. Their lives and their property were at the mercy of the spy and the priest-hunter.

The Reformation in Scotland

Many causes favoured the Reformation movement in Scotland. The interference of the Crown in ecclesiastical affairs had led to the appointment of very unworthy men to the highest offices in the Church, and as a consequence, discipline had broken down badly, especially in the monasteries. Besides, the very wealth of the ecclesiastical institutions proved a source of danger by exciting the cupidity of the greedy Scottish nobles, who wished to enrich themselves by the plunder of the lands of the Church, and who, on account of the clan system then so strong in the country, could nearly always rely for support upon their people. Furthermore, the division in Scotland between those who favoured an alliance with France and those who advocated a union, or at least a good understanding with England, did much to promote the Reformation movement. It was good policy for England to raise up an English party in Scotland and to promote disunion by fomenting heresy; and Henry VIII. and the advisers of Queen Elizabeth were too clever statesmen not to take advantage of a line of action so favourable to their country and to their religious changes.

James V. of Scotland was a good Catholic and took stern measures to prevent the spread of the Lutheran teaching. He refused to follow the suggestions of his uncle, Henry VIII., who wished to involve Scotland in his own struggle with Rome. On account of this refusal Henry spared no pains to win over to his side the Earl of Arran and other Scottish nobles who had leanings towards heresy, and in this way Scotland was divided into two parties. Finally, it came to war, and James V., as might be expected, was completely routed at the battle of Solway Moss (1542).

Shortly after the battle he died, leaving as his successor an infant daughter, Mary, afterwards known as Mary Queen of Scots. Arran, who openly professed Protestantism, became regent, and for the moment the English party was triumphant in Scotland. Cardinal Beaton, as good an ecclesiastic as he was a patriotic Scotchman, was arrested on account of his opposition to their schemes, but the Pope promptly laid Scotland under interdict and the people insisted on his release. A plot was formed with the connivance, if not with the approval of Henry VIII., to murder the Cardinal, and unfortunately, it was successful (1546). The murderers fled to the castle of St. Andrews, where they were joined by John Knox who began his career as a reformer by his public approbation of the murder. With the aid of the French the castle of St. Andrews was taken, and Knox and his fellow conspirators were condemned to the galleys. The Protector, Somerset, hastened to the assistance of his allies, and the Scots were defeated at the battle of Pinkie (1547).

In spite of this defeat the English failed to get possession of the young Queen, who was sent to France for her education. Her mother, Mary of Guise, became regent, and made an honest effort to introduce measures of reform, but she was too weak to cope with her opponents, and the Protestant party continued to make great progress. The nobles favourable to England met in 1557 and formed the Solemn League and Covenant for the overthrow of the Catholic Church in Scotland. They demanded freedom of worship, but Parliament refused to make this concession.

In 1559 John Knox arrived in Scotland after he learned that there would be no danger in his return, because, as a rule, he was a man who took no risks. In his wanderings he had imbibed the doctrines of Geneva and he began to inveigh in the most violent terms against "Anti-Christ" and "Babylon." Where ever he went serious disturbances broke out. Finally, troops were despatched by the French to crush the rebellion, but the rebels were aided by men and money from England. A parliament was called in 1560 which proclaimed Protestantism as the State religion, abolished papal supremacy and the privileges of the clergy, and decreed very severe penalties against anybody found celebrating or assisting at Mass. Mary Queen of Scots, who had been married to Francis II. of France, determined to return to Scotland after the death of her husband. She arrived in 1561, and though she received a good welcome, she found it difficult to get permission to have Mass celebrated even in her own private chapel. The violence of fanatics like Knox and her own prudent policy soon secured for her, however, strong support.

But the question of her marriage created new troubles. Despite the advice of her friends, she married Lord Darnley who was a Catholic. Both Elizabeth and the Protestant lords were annoyed by this marriage, but an attempted rebellion was quickly extinguished. Darnley soon proved himself to be a worthless husband. Disappointed because the queen did not allow him to rule Scotland, he allied himself with her opponents who murdered Rizzio, her private secretary. Shortly afterwards he was taken ill of small pox, and the house in which he lodged was blown up. The Earl of Bothwell was supposed to have had a hand in his murder, but when he was brought to trial he was acquitted. A little later Bothwell seized the queen and she consented to marry him (1567). Whether or not she had any knowledge of the guilt of Bothwell is not clear, but at any rate she acted foolishly, and her marriage with Bothwell gave the greatest offence to the people of Scotland. The nobles rose against her, and both armies met at Carberry Hill, where Mary surrendered herself without a struggle into the hands of her opponents. She was imprisoned in the castle of Lochleven, from which having made her escape, she raised a new army, only to be defeated at the battle of Langside (1568). Against the wishes of her supporters she threw herself on the mercy of Queen Elizabeth, who refused to see her until she had cleared herself of any complicity in the murder of her husband. A commission was appointed to examine into the case, but the commission decided that the evidence was not sufficient to prove her guilt. After nineteen years of imprisonment in various places in England she was beheaded by orders of Queen Elizabeth at Fotheringay Castle in 1587.

Her son, James VI., had been baptised and crowned a Catholic, but having fallen into the hands of the Protestant regent and nobles he was reared a Protestant. When Mary, his mother, was put to death, he showed some little spirit, and it was hoped that with the help of France he might take the field, but fearing to endanger his chances of succession to the English throne he took no action. Some of the Highland lords who still remained Catholic, having seen that there was no hope from the king, rose in rebellion. But James marched against them, overthrew their forces, and Huntly and Errol, their leaders, were forced to go into exile (1595).

From this time the Catholics of Scotland were subjected to the most cruel persecution, notwithstanding which many of them, especially in the Highland glens, clung to the old faith. Under James, as well as under Charles I. and Charles II., the laws against Catholics were carried out with vigour by the Calvinist party in Scotland, and the children of Catholic parents were seized and brought up Protestants. For the three years of the reign of James II. the Scottish Catholics enjoyed comparative peace, but when he was driven from the throne the persecution became still more violent, notably after the unsuccessful rebellion of 1715 and the defeat Of the forces of the Pretender at Culloden (1745).

The Reformation in Ireland

In Ireland practically the same causes were at work to bring about a decline of religion as in the other countries of Europe. The interference of the State in ecclesiastical appointments, the nomination by the king of English clerics to most of the Irish sees, the limitation of episcopal authority owing to the claims of the lay and monastic patrons, the plurality of benefices by which one man held several offices to which the care of souls was attached, the want of good schools for the education of the clergy and the constant friction between the Irish and English ecclesiastics help to explain the downfall of religion that was so evident in the early years of the sixteenth century.

Yet, though there were abuses, there was hardly any trace of heresy. Individuals here and there had questioned certain doctrines but they found no following, and the people of Ireland, both Irish and Anglo-Irish, were thoroughly loyal to the Church and to Rome. Nor, even though the Irish schools had fallen; had learning entirely disappeared from the country, as is proved by the compilation of the Book of Ballymote, the Yellow Book of Lecan, the Book of Lecan, the Annals of Ulster, the Annals of Lough Ce, and the continuation of the Annals of Tighernach and of the Annals of Innisfallen, not to speak of many other literary treasures. At the time of the Reformation in England Henry VIII. determined to carry out the work that had been begun but never accomplished by his predecessors, namely, the complete subjugation of the country. The fact that England was then strong and united, with a well filled treasury, and with little if anything to fear from foreign invasion—for France and Germany were engaged in a life and death struggle—and the complete failure of the rebellion of Silken Thomas (1535) afforded him a good opportunity of making himself absolute ruler of Ireland, and of involving Ireland in his dispute with Rome.

He appointed Brown, an apostate Augustinian Friar, who had found favour by his support of the divorce proceedings, archbishop of Dublin (1534), and commissioned him to introduce the new teaching into Ireland; while about the same time he sent over Leonard Gray to reduce the country by force. On the arrival of Brown in Dublin he convoked a meeting of the clergy and announced the object of his mission, but Cromer, archbishop of Armagh, and the others present refused to accept the royal supremacy, and called upon the people to support them. Brown soon recognised that his work was a failure, and wrote to Cromwell suggesting that a parliament should be called.

The parliament met in Dublin in 1536. It was composed entirely of Anglo-Irish nobles, some of whom, as for instance the Earl of Ormond, had already accepted the royal supremacy in the hope of winning the favour of the king and of getting possession of the riches of the Church. The bill regulating the succession to the throne and the bill of royal supremacy were brought forward, but the representatives of the clergy offered such a determined opposition to the latter measure, that until they were deprived of their votes, it could not be carried. Lord Gray then undertook a campaign throughout Leinster to compel the chieftains to submit, and to acknowledge the jurisdiction of the king. For a time it appeared as if the Irish were about to unite in face of the danger that threatened themselves and their religion. O'Neill and O'Donnell joined their forces and marched southwards to the assistance of their allies, but the deputy met them and defeated them at the battle of Bellahoe (1538), and ravaged the territory of Tyrone. From Tyrone, Leonard Gray marched right through the south and west, receiving everywhere the submission of the Irish chiefs. All the heads of the great families, including O'Donnell, O'Brien of Thomond, and Burke of Connaught, submitted to the king, and renounced the authority of the Pope. A parliament was called in Dublin in which Irish and Anglo-Irish sat side by side, and Henry was proclaimed king of Ireland (1541). Those of the Irish not present agreed to this measure, and even Con O'Neill, after much hesitation, accepted the authority of Henry and renounced the jurisdiction of the Pope (1542).

But, though the princes proved themselves cowards by their ready submission, the bishops, with three or four exceptions, refused to accept the royal supremacy, and even though Brown went through the country in the wake of Leonard Gray, his preaching failed to produce any effect. War was declared upon the monasteries, the riches of which Henry and some of his Irish supporters were anxious to grasp. Most of the monasteries lying in the territory over which the English could exercise control were seized, and the monks were either put to death or dispersed, their only crime being, as far as reports go, their loyalty to the Pope. Many of the great shrines were plundered, and many of the priceless relics broken and destroyed. Yet, at the time of the death of Henry VIII. (1547), little if any change had been effected in the feelings of the people towards Rome,

During the reign of Edward VI. (1547–53), when an attempt was made to introduce heretical doctrines and to force the Book of Common Prayer on Ireland in place of the Mass, even those who misunderstood the aims of Henry, began to realise the danger. Dowdall, who had been appointed archbishop of Armagh by Henry VIII., took the lead in opposing the reformation, and was warmly supported by the great body of the clergy and people. Brown of Dublin, Staples, an Englishman who had been intruded into Meath, and Bale, an apostate Carmelite Friar who was appointed bishop of Ossory, were not the class of men from whom the Irish people were likely to receive a new religion. Their denunciations of one another did not make for the success of the work. Even in Dublin, Brown could make but little progress; the priests of Meath refused to listen to the preaching of Staples, whom they denounced as a heretic, and the inhabitants of Kilkenny, incensed by the blasphemies of Bale, determined to inflict punishment on him by their' own hands, but he was rescued by a troop of English soldiers. Grateful for his escape he left the country and never returned.

When Mary ascended the English throne in 1553 the persecution of the Catholics as such was stopped; Brown and Staples were deprived of their Sees; Dowdall, who had taken such a firm stand in the reign of Edward VI., was appointed archbishop of Armagh by the Pope; Curwin, an Englishman whose conduct was not above suspicion, was nominated by the advisers of the queen to the See of Dublin, and the rest of the bishops and clergy were restored. So little impression had heresy made on the country that after the short reign of Mary hardly a trace of it could be detected in Ireland, except that the Anglo-Irish nobles still clung to the lands of the Church. Nor was there any persecution of heresy in Ireland. On the contrary, many of the English Protestant refugees fled to Ireland to escape the laws and punishments which awaited them at home.

When Elizabeth became queen (1558) she determined to pursue the same policy in Ireland as she was pursuing in England. A parliament was called in 1560. The Act of Supremacy was renewed and its acceptance made obligatory upon all officials of the Crown. The Act of Uniformity of worship ordering the use of the Book of Common Prayer and decreeing punishments for those who refused to assist at Protestant service was also passed. But these measures could not make Ireland Protestant. The bishops, with one or two exceptions, offered their strongest resistance to the change of doctrine and worship. Outside the places where the English writ ran nobody paid any attention to the new laws, and even where the English had power, political reasons often prevented Elizabeth from going to extremes. The dangerous attitude of Shane O'Neill in the north, the rebellion of the Earl of Desmond in the south, and the determined attempt made by Hugh O'Neill to bring about a union of his countrymen to put an end to English rule in Ireland, engaged the earnest attention of the queen and her advisers, and left them little time to deal with the purely religious side of the question.

Yet the Reformation was not neglected. Protestant bishops were appointed, some of whom dared not venture to visit their dioceses, and others of whom, like Miler Magrath, would have done much more to promote their religion by their absence. The churches were handed over to Protestant service; the monasteries outside certain Irish districts were suppressed, and especially after 1570, a most violent persecution was carried on against the Catholic bishops and clergy. Dermot O'Hurley, archbishop of Cashel, was arrested and put to death after terrible torture; Patrick Hely, bishop of Mayo, Redmond O'Gallagher, bishop of Derry, and Cornelius O'Duane, bishop of Down and Conor, met a similar fate; Richard Creagh, archbishop of Armagh, was arrested and done to death in prison; Magauran, bishop of Kilmore, was killed while with the army of Maguire, and many of the other prelates were obliged to make their escape to the Continent. Hundreds of the clergy, both secular and regular, underwent martyrdom for the faith, but, notwithstanding the persecution, priests were still found to minister to the spiritual wants of the people, the Franciscans and the Dominicans being specially active. In order to keep up the supply of priests many Irish seminaries were established on the Continent, at this time and at a later period. France and Spain vied with each other in their generosity to Irish students. Colleges were established at Paris, Bordeaux, Nantes, Douai, Antwerp, Lisbon, Salamanca, Seville and Rome, while the services rendered to Ireland by the Franciscan College at Louvain and by the learned Irishmen who found a refuge there and who, did so much to preserve their country's history, should never be forgotten by the Irish people.

The accession of James I. (1603–25) gave the Catholics some cause for hope. The old religion was practised openly even in the cities of the Pale, but soon a royal proclamation was issued announcing that no toleration could be accorded to the Catholics. The northern princes, O'Neill and O'Donnell, aware of the plots that were being hatched against them, left the country and sought refuge at Rome, where they were welcomed by the Pope. After their flight a large portion of Ulster was confiscated, the Catholics being driven out to make way for Scotch and English planters. In order to insure a majority for the parliament called in 1612 there was a wholesale creation of parliamentary boroughs, The Catholics protested strongly at the opening of the parliament, but their protests were unheeded by the king. The English Lord Deputies, Chichester and Oliver St. John, spared no pains in order to destroy the Catholic religion in Ireland during their terms of office, but in the latter years of the reign of James I. his anxiety to stand well with Spain helped to put an end to the persecution in Ireland.

When Charles I. (1625–49) came to the throne, he let it be known that the Catholics might have his protection if only they would pay him a sufficient sum of money. In return for a large amount, subscribed mainly by Catholics, Charles promised the "Graces," but the promise was never fulfilled. In 1633 the deputy Wentworth arrived in Ireland, determined to raise money for his master at all costs, and by alleging defects of title he managed to confiscate a large portion of Connaught and Munster.

Meanwhile, the trouble in England between Charles I. and the parliament had begun. The Catholics of the North of Ireland, alarmed at the threats of total extirpation that had been thrown out by the Parliamentarians and the Calvinists, and incensed by the plantation of their lands by English and Scotch settlers, determined to rise on the night of the 23rd of October, 1641. Their plans were betrayed to the government in time to save Dublin Castle, but, under the leadership of Phelim O'Neill and others the North rose, and in a short time nearly every stronghold in the province was in the hands of the Irish forces. The Anglo-Irish lords of the Pale finally decided to throw in their lot with their co-religionists; the rest of the country showed signs of following their example, and in 1642 Owen Roe O'Neill and Colonel Preston arrived from the Continent to help their countrymen. The bishops approved of the war. In October, 1642, a general assembly, consisting of the bishops, lords and commons, representative of the Catholics of Ireland, met at Kilkenny and took charge of the affairs of the country. From the beginning there were two parties in the assembly, one in favour of Charles, anxious for nothing more than the toleration of their religion, and the other mindful only of Ireland.

The king opened negotiations with the assembly for a cessation of arms which was granted in 1643, and he sent over Glamorgan to arrange a peace in 1645, but the terms having been discovered, Charles with his usual duplicity disavowed his agent. Archbishop Rinuccini, representing the Pope, arrived in 1645 with supplies of money and arms, and did his best to preserve union between the two parties in the assembly. The splendid victory won by O'Neill at Benburb (1646) did something to put new life into the confederation, but later on it split up entirely over the peace with Inchiquin, and the Nuncio, having protested in vain against the peace, left the country (1649).

In the same year Oliver Cromwell arrived in Ireland. Unfortunately Owen Roe O'Neill, the only general who was capable of withstanding him, died, and his place was taken by Heber MacMahon, bishop of Clogher, who was taken prisoner and put to death. After the terrible slaughters inflicted by Cromwell on the people of Drogheda and Wexford, he left his generals to complete his work. The Catholics were once more subjected to the most violent persecution; the majority of the land-owners were deprived of their properties and banished into Connaught, and a great many of the children were shipped as slaves to the West Indies.

On the restoration of Charles II. (1660) the Catholics who had been deprived of their property—many of them for their loyalty to his father—expected some reward, but, generally speaking, they were disappointed. Charles was not a man accustomed to take any risks for the sake of his friends. The laws, however, were not enforced against them with much vigour, though, when the Titus Oates scare prevailed in England, the cry of Popish plots was raised in Ireland also, and for a time the chapels were closed and many of the clergy were arrested. Amongst those who were thrown into prison were Peter Talbot, archbishop Of Dublin, and the Venerable Oliver Plunket, archbishop of Armagh. The latter prelate was taken prisoner, and his enemies fearing that they could not obtain a verdict against him if he were tried in Ireland, determined to transfer him to London. Here, without being allowed time to prepare his defence or to summon witnesses, he was condemned as guilty of conspiracy on the evidence of a few perjured witnesses and was put to death at Tyburn (1681).

When James II., who was himself a Catholic, became king of England (1685), the laws against the Catholics were suspended and a Catholic was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. The Protestant party, alarmed for their ascendency in the country, determined to throw in their lot with the English rebels. Aided by the English soldiers and mercenaries brought into the country by William of Orange, they overcame the Catholic forces at the Boyne (1690) and at Athlone (1691); but before Sarsfield surrendered Limerick he insisted on a solemn treaty by which he thought that the rights and religion of his countrymen would be safeguarded. Hardly, however, had he and his army departed from the country than the very men who had professed to fight for "civil and religious liberty," forced William of Orange to break the terms of the treaty of Limerick, and set themselves deliberately to enslave three-fourths of the inhabitants of Ireland by depriving them of their civil and religious rights. With the year 1695 the era of the penal laws began. These laws probably reached their climax in the reign of Anne (1702–14), and continued in force till about the middle of the eighteenth century. According to these laws all Catholics were excluded from the two houses of parliament, from voting at parliamentary elections, from acting as jurymen, from holding any offices in the State, or from practising as lawyers or solicitors. No Catholic was allowed to teach a school or to send his children abroad to be educated; bishops, monks and friars were ordered to leave the country under the penalty of death, and rewards were held out to all who would give evidence about priests or schoolmasters. If the eldest son of a Catholic father turned Protestant he could claim his father's land; and, in order to weaken the Catholic families, the land was to be distributed equally amongst the sons. No Catholic was allowed to purchase freehold property or to secure a lease. These laws were made to put an end to the Catholic religion, and for a long time they were strictly enforced, but instead of succeeding in their object they succeeded only in impoverishing the Protestant landowners and the country generally, and in giving Catholicity a stronger hold than it ever had before on the great body of the people in Ireland.