Full Text for King Henry VIII Attacks Luther (Text)

r date. In order that his good people might not miss the Pope's indulgence, the bearded Duke George had a German trans- lation printed at Leipzig as early as 1522 and 1523. Why did Henry write~ "I cannot but think myself obliged to -defend my Mother, the Spouse of Ohrist." Henry Tudor was never troubled with an inferiority complex, but in this case he prayed, "Would to God my ability were equal to my good will!" Whom did he fight ~ "This friarlet, doctorlet, saintlet, eruditelet. What pest so pernicious ~ What serpent so poisonous ~ What a wolf 'of hell is he! What a limb of Satan! How rotten is his mind! A mad and raging dog! A trumpeter of prides, callumnies, and schisms; turns the name of the most Holy Bishop of Rome to that ,of Antichrist; tries to tear the Ohristian members of Ohrist from their Head!" How did Luther get that way ~ "Loss of faith comes from loss of morals." Oomes now a warning: - "Beware of the track of the serpent; walk on tiptoe; fear the thickets and caves in which he lies concealed and whence he will dart his poison on you. If he licks you, be careful! The cunning viper caresses only that he may bite." Follows a rousing bugle-blast to battle: - "Be of good cheer! Filled with the same valor that you would ,display against Turks, Saracens, and other infidels. March now against this friarlet, - a fellow apparently weak, but more formidable through the spirit that animates him than all infidels, Saracens, and 'Turks put together." After this preaching of the crusade against Luther, the learnedest King Henry VIII Attacks Luther. 427 prince in Christendom saves the tottering Papacy by such arguments: "If indulgences are impostures, then all the Popes are impostors, and it is easier to believe that one friarlet is a diseased sheep than that all Popes of old were perfidious shepherds." To-day candid Catholics deplore Tetzel's traffic in indulgences. The royal paragon of chastity is at his best when he eloquently discourses on marriage. "The insipid water of concupiscence is turned by the hidden grace of God unto wine of the finest flavor. Whom God has joined together let no man put asunder. 0 wonderful word, such as no man could have uttered save the Word which was made flesh 1 ... Who does not tremble when he considers how he should deal with his wife ~ For not only is he bound to love her, but so to live with her that he may return her to God pure and without stain when God, who gave, shall demand His own again." We are amazed, amused, confused. "The proper study of man- kind is man." The proud Tudor upheld the divine authority of the Pope. More demurred - "I think it best that place be amended and his authority be more slenderly touched." "Nay, that it shall not; for we are so much bounded to the See of Rome that we cannot do too much to honor it." Lawyer More reminded the king of praemunire and the good old English doctrine that "the kings of England in times past never had any superior but God." "Whatsoever impediment be, we will set forth that authority to the uttermost; for we receive from that See our crown imperial." More stood as Luther stood against Eck at Leipzig in 1519. Wolsey was not nearly as papal as the king and openly disap- proved of the royal opus. The Spanish declared, "All the learned men in England have taken part in its composition" - Fisher, Pace, Gardiner, Tunstall, Wolsey, More, and Lee. England's brain trust labored and brought forth this ridiculous gutter-snipe. Brewer says the king "reproduced, without novelty or energy, the old commonplaces of authority, tradition, and general consent. The cardinal principles of Luther's teaching the king did not understand and did not therefore attempt to confute. . .. The royal controver- sialist never travels beyond the familiar round and reproduces, with- out force, originality, or feeling, the weary topics he had picked up, without much thought or research, from the theological manuals of the day. Even his invective is as mean and feeble as his logic. Even when discussing the papal supremacy, he puts on the blinkers with his harness and is as docile and as orthodox as if he had never opposed the publication of a papal bull or refused admission to a papal nuncio." No friend of Luther, Erasmus had said to Cardinal-Archbishop- <428 King Henry VIII AttackB Luther. Elector Albrecht of Mainz, "I think it is their fault if Luther has 'Written too intemperately." In June 1522, the Saxon monk read the book of the Anglo-Saxon -king, Brewer says: "To the man who has grappled with Apollyon in tp.e Valley of the Shadow of Death any Goliath of Vanity Fair, how- -ever gigantic, must appear no better than an empty windbag. . . . The spirit of victory was strong upon him. In his reply, dated July 15, he shows the king no mercy. The king's book has been put forth to his everlasting disgrace. He was a fool for allowing his name to be abused by a parcel of empty-headed sophists and for ,stuffing his book with lies and virulence, reminding the world of noth- ing more than of Leo or his shadow and o:f such fat swine as are mewed in the sty o:f St. Thomas [Aquinas]. The Pharaoh o:f England, "like the tyrant of old, is not without his false prophets, J annes and .J ambres. Ii the king had been guilty of error such as is co=on to men, he might have been treated with indulgence. Now that- ·damnable rottenness and worm as he is - he knowlingly and wilfully sets himself to compose lies against the majesty of my King in heaven, it is only right that I, in the cause of my King, should bespat,ter his English majesty with his own mud and his own :filth and tread under 'my feet that crowned head which thus blasphemes against Christ." "The well-known Venetian," Paolo Sarpi, co=ents: "So great a name as that of the English Henry mixed up in the dispute and 'beaten, served to give eclat, to render it more curious, and to con- .ciliate general favor towards Luther." Force is the last reason of kings. The royal ruffian in rage wrote the rulers of Saxony: "I am compelled to admonish and exhort you that you give your attention at as early a date as possible to repressing that execrable sect of Luther, without the execution of anyone if it 'Can be done, or with blood if it cannot be otherwise accomplished." The Saxon princes were very polite, very sorry if their monk had really been rude; but, strange to say, they made no move to please the Anglo-Saxon king by burning their Luther. In 1523 Henry sent Edward Lee, the future Archbishop of York, with the Garter to Archduke Ferdinand of Austria to commend his 'zeal against the Lutherans. A burned child dreads the :fire, and Henry got More to reply to Luther. "The demigod of England, or rather of Europe," dipped his witty quill into the stink pot and under the pseudonym of William Rosse called Luther an ass, a liar, a cursed beast, a drunkard, an evil angel of Satan, a plain limb of the devil, a manifest messenger --of hell, an apostate, an open incestuous lecher, and mocked at "Friar Luther and Oate Oallate, his nun, lusking together in lechery." Luther and his counselors "disperse themselves throughout all the wagons, vehicles, and boats, the baths, the eating-houses, and barber King Henry VIII. Attacks Luther. 429 :'Shops, privies, and houses of ill .fame; in these places they diligently -observe, and write down on tablets, whatever the wagon-driver has said. basely, or the slave servilely, or the drunkard wickedly, or the parasite .scurrilously, or the harlot petulantly, or the bawd vilely, or the bath- man obscenely. . .. When they have done this for several months, they stuff the whole nasty mixture of reviling, scolding scurrility, jeers, petulance, filth, dirt, mud, mire, dung, into the fetid sewer of Luthers' breast," - and more that cannot nowadays be printed. This -:from England's greatest wit and saint. More's dear friend Erasmus was deeply disgusted with the "gutterals" of the filthy vulgarian. 'Brewer is not fair to Luther and deeply in love with More, yet he is :shocked and pained by More's "foul and scurrilous" language, his "vulgar and offensive raillery, destitute of all wit and humor." In 1521 More's daughter Margaret was married to William Roper, who was deeply impressed by Luther's Ohristian Liberty and Baby- ,lonian Oaptivity, and it was only by More's utmost pains that Roper was in time weaned away from Luther. More's brother-in-law, John 'Rastell, lawyer and printer, had a controversy with John Frith and became a convinced Protestant. On December 13, 1522, Thomas Hannibal wrote Wolsey: "Luther -of late hath written against the King's Grace; whyche Book I send ·to you: the book is full of raylynge against the Kyngs Grace. I soght ,all Rome to know whether ther wer more, but I coulde fynde non. If any mo cumme, the Pope hath commaundyde that non shall cumme in lyght. I shall tak them all and pay for them and brent them." Bishop Fisher, "a man of strict life," who "hated Wolsey for his -vices" and fiercely denounced the vices of the clergy, had attacked Luther on May 12, 1520, and now attacks him again, this time in A Oonfutation of the Lutheran Assertion, 1523; a third time in a Reply to Luther's "Babylonian Oaptivity;' 1523; a fourth time in ,a Defense of the Ohristian Priesthood, 1524; a fifth time in a Defense of King Henry's "Assertion of the Seven Sacraments," 1525. This ablest of bishops, according to the Oatholic Lord Acton, had these arguments: "Now Luther is become a big fox. What do I say, a fox ~ He is a mad dog, a ravening wolf, a cruel bear, or rather all those animals in one; for the monster includes many beasts within him." Thomas Murner of Strassburg, who had already attacked Luther, now also came to the defense of King Henry with a work entitled Whether the King of England Is a Liar or Luther, 1522. There is in the British Museum Antwort de'Murnar vff seine frag, ob der Kunig 1)0 Engellant ein liogner sey oder der gotlich doctor Martinus Luther. Datum ex Mithilena ins'/Ala Anno xxiij. This "cleverest, wittiest, and coarsest" of Luther's opponents went to England looking for a great reward from the king. More wrote Wolsey on August 26, 1529: "He hath now bene here a good while. 430 i)et Sdjriftgtunb fUt bie S3elJte bon bet satisfactio vicaria. Wherefore the Kynges Grace, pitying that he was so deceived, and! having tendre respect to the goode zele that he bereth toward the faith,. and his good hart and mynd toward His Highnes, requyreth Your' Grace that it may lyke you to causehym have in reward one hundred pownde, and that he may return home, wher his presence is very necessary; for he is one of the chiefe stays against the faction of Luther in that parties, agaynst whom he hath wrytten many bokis illc the Almayng tong." Milwaukee, Wis. WILLIAM DALLMANN. 4 ... 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