chapter  6
16 Pages


It was unfortunate for Thomas Cromwell that, whilst many men looked to him as the King's chief minister for favours, he did not create a faction around him. In 1539, Henry VIII, after several years of mild flirtation with the reformed religion which Cromwell patronised, reverted to a hard-line Catholic position with the Act of six articles. This laid down a corpus of Catholic dogma, together with harsh penalties for nonconformity. When the measure was introduced, Cromwell was taken by surprise and his arch-enemy, Norfolk, steered it through the Lords. This exposed the minister's dangerously isolated position. He had guided his royal master into a distasteful marriage with Anne of Cleves. Norfolk and Gardiner seized their opportunity and convinced a susceptible king that Cromwell had heretical leanings. In 1539 Parliament was used to defeat the detested upstart minister, and in 1540 to destroy him by Act of attainder, without a trial. In other words, factions resorted to parliaments to achieve their ends, but they did so in a discreet manner, embodying their victories in statutes which were couched in formal and legal language, with the occasional obsequious touch. To all appearances parliamentary harmony remained.