Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Last Cardinal Protector of England

On March 21, 1534 Lorenzo Cardinal Campeggio was deprived of his bishopric in Salisbury by the English Parliament. He had stripped of its revenues the year before and dismissed as Cardinal Protector of England by Henry VIII in May of 1531. Cardinal Campeggio had been named Cardinal Protector in 1523 and received the see of Salisbury in 1524. From 1527 on, he had been involved in the King's Great Matter, and both Henry VIII and Thomas Cardinal Wolsey had depended on him to get that annulment of Henry's marriage to Katherine of Aragon.

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia:

The next year (1528), at Wolsey's request, he was sent to England to form, jointly with Wolsey, a court to try the so-called divorce suit of Henry VIII. (For a complete account of the case see article HENRY VIII.) Here we need only refer to Campeggio's conduct in it. He did his best to escape the responsibility which the pope thrust upon him, for he knew well the difficulties both of law and fact connected with the case; and he thoroughly realized, from his intimate acquaintance with Henry and Charles (Catherine's nephew), that, whichever way it was decided, a great nation would be lost to the Church. His instructions were to proceed with extreme slowness and caution; to bring about if possible the reconciliation of Henry with Catherine; and under no circumstances to come to a final decision. In spite of all Wolsey's wiles and the bribes held out to him by the king, he refused to express any opinion and adhered strictly to the orders which he had received. He did, indeed, try his best to induce Catherine to enter a convent, but when she with much spirit declined to do so, he praised her conduct. In the trial (June-July, 1529), it should be noted, Campeggio treated Wolsey as a subordinate and as the king's advocate rather than as a judge. On the last day (23 July), when everyone expected the final decision, he boldly adjourned the court. Some days later the news arrived that Catherine's appeal had already been received in Rome and that the case was reserved to the Holy See. On his way back to Italy Campeggio was detained at Dover, while his baggage was searched by the king's officials in the hope of finding the decretal Bull defining the law of the divorce. But the prudent legate had already destroyed the document, and the search only proved that he left the country poorer than when he had entered it.

So thus he lost his title as Bishop of Salisbury, having disappointed Henry VIII. I reviewed this book last year, which described the office of the Cardinal Protector and its occupants during the reigns of Henry VII and Henry VIII: The Cardinal Protectors of England: Rome and the Tudors Before the Reformation by William E. Wilkie, published by Cambridge University Press in 1974.

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