By Charles Matthews

Thursday, April 22, 2010

26. "Wolf Hall," by Hilary Mantel, pp. 435-458

Part VI, I, "Supremacy," 1534, through "...He flounces over in the feather bed, and falls asleep again."
Cromwell argues theology with Henry:
Christ did not make Popes. He did not give his followers the power to make laws or levy taxes, both of which churchmen have claimed as their right.

Henry says, "I never remember the cardinal spoke of this."

"Would you, if you were a cardinal?"
Cromwell is trying "to gentle him toward an intricate legal process of dispossession, repossession: the assertion of ancient sovereign rights, the taking back of what was always yours." He urges the king to fill his coffers with what he can get back from the church -- "His guess is, the clergy own a third of England." Henry gives him the go-ahead, but Cromwell imagines what Wolsey would say: "he will take the credit for your good ideas, and you the blame for his bad ones."

Cromwell and Gardiner meet with the king "to secure the succession of Anne's children." She's there too, and takes offense at the fact that the bill says that if she dies, "he can put another queen in my place." And if that queen bears him a son, she wants to know "what happens to my daughter and her claim?" She also wants the bill to declare Mary illegitimate. They gentle her out of all these problems. Cromwell also pushes for an oath from the king's subjects "to uphold the succession to the throne." Gardiner objects, but is overruled.

The king expresses disappointment with Thomas More, and Anne says, "When you write your bill against the false prophetess Barton, put More in it, besides Fisher." Cromwell objects that More put not stock in Elizabeth Barton, but Anne insists, "I want him frightened. Fright may unmake a man. I have seen it occur."

Cromwell meets with Fisher to get him to apologize for supporting Elizabeth Barton. Fisher objects that she never plotted against the king. Cromwell replies, "Ah, but she never foresaw anything that she didn't hope would happen. She sat down with the king's enemies and told them how it would be." Fisher protests that he is being hounded because he gave council to Katherine. When Cromwell says that Fisher is seen as being in the camp of the enemy, Fisher says, "I see why Wolsey retained you. You are a ruffian and so was he. I have been a priest forty years, and I have never seen such ungodly men as those who flourish today. Such evil councillors."

Fisher's name is in the bill against Elizabeth Barton, "and so, at Henry's command, is More's." Cromwell goes to see her before she is executed, and tells her that six others will also be executed with her.

Cromwell goes to see Princess Elizabeth and Mary Tudor. Lady Bryan, in charge of Elizabeth, says, "you could show her at a fair as a pig-baby." She doesn't resemble Henry at all, and Gregory Cromwell, who has come with his father, says, "She could be anybody's." Cromwell rebukes him: "People have gone to the Tower for saying less." Mary, they discover, does not take her meals with the others, "because she will not sit below the little princess." Cromwell finds her sitting beside a small fire: "The man who brings the wood will not give me my title of princess." Cromwell "thinks: make life as hard as possible for yourself." She says Reginald Pole says Cromwell is Satan.
He says softly, "I am not Satan. Your lord father is not a heretic."

"And I am not a bastard, I suppose."

"Indeed no." 
Cromwell is of the opinion that because Henry and Katherine believed themselves to be married, Mary is not illegitimate. He advises her to make "an outward show" of respect for Anne. Mary says Anne is frightened that she will marry and have sons who will challenge her children's claim to the throne." Cromwell knows of the plot to marry her to Pole: "marry the half-Spanish Tudor back into the Plantagenet line." He advises her against it. She complains of poor eyesight and that they read Tyndale's translation of the gospel to her. "It is more heretical than the holy book of the Moslems."

When they leave Mary, "'She likes you,' Gregory says. 'That's strange.'"

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