By Charles Matthews

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

18. "Wolf Hall," by Hilary Mantel, pp. 294-310

Part IV, II, "'Alas, What Shall I Do for Love?'" Spring 1532, continued, from "On April 14, 1532, the king appoints him Keeper of the Jewel House...."through "...Call-Me laughs so hard he has to lean against the wall."
Cromwell's appointment as Keeper of the Jewel House gives him financial power. Meanwhile, Thomas More is continuing to torture and execute heretics, and Cromwell tells Hugh Latimer that he won't visit one of them, Bainham, in the Tower because it would "give ammunition to the Lord Chancellor." A Franciscan, William Peto, preaches a sermon in the king's presence, about Ahab and Jezebel. "Anne says, 'I am Jezebel. You, Thomas Cromwell, are the priests of Baal.'"

Thomas Avery returns from Europe and Cromwell continues to train him in his financial religion: "The page of an accounts book is ... like the scriptures: it's there for you to think about, and initiate action. Love your neighbor. Study the market. Increase the spread of benevolence. Bring in better figures next year." Religion and the rise of capitalism.

James Bainham is burned at the stake. "Wrapped in his sheet of flames, the dying man calls out, 'The Lord forgive Sir Thomas More.'"

"On May 15, the bishops sign a document of submission to the king." More is no longer Lord Chancellor. Cromwell encounters More:
"Sir Thomas?" He offers his hand. More turns away. Then he thinks better of it; he turns back and takes it. His fingertips are ashy cold.

"What will you do now?"

"Write. Pray."

"My recommendation would be to write only a little, and pray a lot."

"Now, is that a threat?" More is smiling.

"It may be. My turn, don't you think?"
Cromwell tells Stephen Gardiner that the king has requested he find a country house for Anne Boleyn, and that Cromwell's suggestion is Gardiner's house at Hanworth which was leased to him when Gardiner became Master Secretary.

Wriothesley (known as "Call-Me Risley") intercepts a letter from Eustache Chapuys to the Emperor with comments about Cromwell: "He says your antecedents are obscure, your youth reckless and wild, that you are a heretic of long standing, a disgrace to the office of councillor; but personally, he finds you a man of good cheer, liberal, openhanded, gracious..."

Cromwell is summoned to Anne Boleyn's because she has just heard that Harry Percy wants a divorce from his wife, Mary Talbot, because he claims that their marriage is illegal because he was married to Anne. Wolsey had persuaded Percy to forget his claims, but as Anne says, "most unfortunately the cardinal is dead." Cromwell says, "Lady Anne, if the Pope cannot stop you becoming queen, and I do not think he can, Harry Percy should not be in your way." Cromwell leaves to see Percy, followed by Francis Bryan, who says "I thought I would go with you. I want to learn what you do." Cromwell "checks his stride, slaps his hand flat into Bryan's chest, spins him sideways and hears the thud of his skull against the wall. 'In a hurry,' he says."

Cromwell suspects that Anne's opponents, including Charles Brandon, have put Percy up to the claim. Wriothesley has tracked Percy to an inn, where Cromwell confronts him. He tells Percy that he knows he's in debt and threatens to arrange to have his debts called in if he doesn't drop the claim.
How can he explain to him? The world is not run from where he thinks. Not from his border fortresses, not even from Whitehall. The world is run from Antwerp, from Florence, from places he has never imagined; from Lisbon, from where the ships with sails of silk drift west and are burned up in the sun. Not from castle walls, but from countinghouses, not by the call of the bugle but by the click of the abacus, not by the grate and click of the mechanism of the gun but by the scrape of the pen on the page of the promissory note that pays for the gun and the gunsmith and the powder and the shot.
He also threatens him with the political power of the Howards and the Boleyns, "and as for the Duke of Norfolk, if he hears the slightest imputation against his nieces honor he will drag you out of whatever hole you are cowering in and bite your bollocks off."

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