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career that were associated with Hampton Court, did not deter him from returning there again soon after Catherine Howard's execution; and it was at Hampton Court, also, that he passed his sixth honeymoon, having married Catherine Parr, widow of Lord Latimer, in the Queen's closet adjoining to the chapel, on July 12th, 1543, proclaiming her Queen the same day. As Henry VIII.'s reign drew towards its close, and he

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HENRY VIII.'S PRIVATE STAIRS, IN THE CLOCK COURT, LEADING

TO HIS PRIVY CHAMBER.

increased in age and corpulence, he spent more and more of his time in the retirement of his riverside palace; where, now that his aggravated infirmities were gradually compelling him to give up all the more active sports, he could find plenty of agreeable indoor amusements. In the winter, especially, when the weather was too rough for him to walk in his garden, he could exercise his unwieldy frame with bowls or a quiet game of tennis, or by pacing up and down

HENRY VIII.'S DOMESTIC LIFE.

III

the vast cloisters and galleries of the palace, which, if placed on end, would have extended to a total continuous length of no less than a mile.

At the same time, as he came to lead a more retired and sedentary life, his old pastimes of backgammon, shovelboard and cards, and his taste for theology, literature, and music were great resources to him. In particular, he still continued to keep up his music; and if he gave up singing

[graphic]

HENRY VIII. PLAYING ON THE LUTE; WITH HIS JESTER, WILL

SOMERS, SINGING. (From his illuminated Psalter, preserved in the British Museum.)

himself, there was nothing he delighted in more, in his later years, than accompanying the songs of his jester, Will Somers, on the lute.

But Henry's health, which had long been very indifferent, was now beginning rapidly to decline. The ulcer in his leg, from which he had suffered for many years, had latterly grown worse and worse, and rendered him, in the last few months of his life, so helpless, that his enormous and unwieldy body could not be moved from one room in the palace to another without the aid of machinery. This, combined with the frenzy of irritability in which his ailments kept him, and the suspicion and jealousy with which he regarded everyone who came near him, rendered the closing scenes of his career a terrible contrast to its bright beginning. Hampton Court, however, was not to witness his last hours, for he left this palace for London before the end of 1546, to die on the 28th of January of the following year, at Westminster, uttering with his last breath, according to one account, the awful words “ All is lost!”

CHAPTER VII.

EDWARD VI. AND THE PROTECTOR SOMERSET.

The first visit which Edward VI. made as sovereign to the place of his birth was in June, 1547, six months after his accession to the throne. This was the period of the Duke of Somerset's greatest influence and power. In addition to his title of “Lord Protector," his style now ran- “Edward, by the

grace of God, Duke of Somerset, Protector of the Realm”; and he sat, on all occasions, not only in the Presence Chamber, but also in Parliament, on the righthand of the youthful King. In the meanwhile Edward was not only reduced to a state of impotence and insignificance, but stripped of even the commonest privileges and amusements, kept in a state almost of subjection, and surrounded with little of the external splendour of royalty.

But the career of the proud Protector was to be short-lived. His magnificence and his wealth, and the extravagance that pervaded every branch of the administration, were beginning to excite the murmurs of the people, who contrasted them with the impoverished condition of the country and the confusion in its finances. Nor was the political aspect of affairs less threatening. The successes that marked the beginning of his administration were slight and transient, the disasters that followed were, on the contrary, prolonged and severe.

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At last, as we learn from Holinshed, “many Lords of the Realm as well as Councillors, misliking the government of the Protector, began to withdraw themselves from Court, and resorting to London fell to secret consultation for redress of things." This was towards the end of September, 1549. Somerset and his party, Cranmer, Sir John Thynne, his secretary, Cecil, Paget, and Petre in the meanwhile remained at Hampton Court.

It would seem that at the outset the Lords in London did not design any severe action against him, but intended rather to remonstrate with him for the shortcomings of his administration, and the failure of his enterprises, and to urge that the late King's will should be carried out, and that the executors whom he had nominated should be appointed to act as guardians of the kingdom during the minority of the King.

But the news of what was brewing in London being secretly conveyed to the Protector, and doubtless in an exaggerated form, filled him with vague alarm. He conjured up in his imagination that the Lords were not only seeking his overthrow, but perhaps plotting against his life. He accordingly drew up a commission, or proclamation, for the King's signature, copies of which were sent out in all directions, imploring his loving subjects to repair to Hampton Court to defend “his most royal person, and his entirely beloved uncle," while at the same time printed handbills were disseminated in the neighbouring towns and villages, calling on them "in the name of God and King Edward, to rise to defend him and the Lord Protector against those who would depose the Lord Protector, and so endanger the King's royal person,' and urging them to do so because he was the friend of the people, and the enemy of those who injured the poor commons by extortion and oppression. To the Lord Mayor and Corporation of London he sent a command to despatch a thousand men to his assistance, and to the Lieutenant of the Tower to admit no member of the Council within the gates.

The next day, the 6th of October, preparations were made to put Hampton Court in a state of defence, and for once in its history the old palace assumed the aspect of a fortress.

The moat, which on ordinary occasions was allowed to run low, was hastily filled; the gates were fortified, and on the battlements and towers and turrets every preparation was

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