"There are many things in the commonwealth of Nowhere, which I rather wish than hope to see adopted in our own." It was with these words of characteristic irony that More closed the first work which embodied the dreams of the New Learning. Destined as they were to fulfilment in the course of ages, its schemes of social, religious, and political reform broke helplessly against the temper of the time. At the very moment when More was pleading the cause of justice between rich and poor, social discontent was being fanned by exactions into a fiercer flame. While he aimed sarcasm after sarcasm at king-worship, despotism was being organized into a system. His advocacy of the two principles of religious toleration and Christian comprehension coincides almost to a year with the opening of the strife between the Reformation and the Papacy.
" That Luther has a fine genius," laughed Leo the Tenth, when he heard that a German Professor had nailed some Propositions denouncing the abuse of Indulgences, or of the Papal power to remit certain penalties attached to the commission of sins, against the doors of a church at Wittenberg. But the " Quarrel of Friars," as the controversy was termed contemptuously at Rome, soon took larger proportions. If at the outset Luther flung himself " prostrate at the feet" of the Papacy, and owned its voice as the voice of Christ, the sentence of Leo no sooner confirmed the doctrine of Indulgences than their opponent appealed to a future Council of the Church. Two years later the rupture was complete. A Papal Bull formally condemned the errors of the Reformer. The condemnation was met with defiance, and Luther publicly consigned the Bull to the flames. A second condemnation expelled him from the bosom of the Church, and the ban of the Empire was soon added to that of the Papacy. "Here stand I; I can none other," Luther replied to the young Emperor, Charles the Fifth, as he pressed him to recant in the Diet of Worms; and from the hiding-place in the Thuringian Forest where he was sheltered by the Elector of Saxony he denounced not merely, as at first, the abuses of the Papacy, but the Papacy itself.
[Authorities. - The chronicler Halle, who wrote under Edward the Sixth, has been copied for Henry the Eighth's reign by Grafton, and followed by Holin-shed. But for any real knowledge of Wolsey's administration we must turn to the invaluable prefaces which Professor Brewer has prefixed to the Calendars of State Papers for this period, and to the State Papers themselves. ]
The heresies of Wyclif were revived; the infallibility, the authority of the Roman See, the truth of its doctrines, the efficacy of its worship, were denied and scoffed at in vigorous pamphlets which issued from his retreat, and were dispersed throughout the world by the new printing-press. The old resentment of Germany against the oppression of Rome, the moral revolt in its more religious minds against the secularity and corruption of the Church, the disgust of the New Learning at the superstition which the Papacy now formally protected, combined to secure for Luther a widespread popularity and the protection of the northern princes of the Empire. In England however his protest found as yet no echo. England and Rome were drawn to a close alliance by the difficulties of their political position. The young King himself, a trained theologian and proud of his theological knowledge, entered the lists against Luther with an "Assertion of the Seven Sacraments," for which he was rewarded by Leo with the title of "Defender of the Faith." The insolent abuse of the Reformer's answer called More and Fisher into the field. As yet the New Learning, though scared by Luther's intemperate language, had steadily backed him in his struggle.
Erasmus pleaded for him with the Emperor; Ulrich von Hutten attacked the friars in satires and invectives as violent as his own. But the temper of the Renascence was even more antagonistic to the temper of Luther than that of Rome itself. From the golden dream of a new age, wrought peaceably and purely by the slow progress of intelligence, the growth of letters, the developement of human virtue, the Reformer of Wittemberg turned away with horror. He had little or no sympathy with the new culture. He despised reason as heartily as any Papal dogmatist could despise it. He hated the very thought of toleration or comprehension. He had been driven by a moral and intellectual compulsion to declare the Roman system a false one, but it was only to replace it by another system of doctrine just as elaborate, and claiming precisely the same infallibility. To degrade human nature was to attack the very base of the New Learning; but Erasmus no sooner advanced to its defence than Luther declared man to be utterly enslaved by original sin and incapable through any efforts of his own of discovering truth or of arriving at goodness.
Such a doctrine not only annihilated the piety and wisdom of the classic past, from which the New Learning had drawn its larger views of life and of the world; it trampled in the dust reason itself, the very instrument by which More and Erasmus hoped to regenerate both knowledge and religion. To More especially, with his keener perception of its future effect, this sudden revival of a purely theological and dogmatic spirit, severing Christendom into warring camps, and annihilating all hopes of union and tolerance, was especially hateful. The temper which hitherto had seemed so "endearing, gentle, and happy," suddenly gave way. His reply to Luther's attack upon the King sank to the level of the work it answered. That of Fisher was calmer and more argumentative; but the divorce of the New Learning from the Reformation was complete.
Nor were the political hopes of the " Utopia" destined to be realized by the minister who at the close of Henry's early war with France mounted rapidly into power. Thomas Wolsey was the son of a wealthy townsman of Ipswich, whose ability had raised him into notice at the close of the preceding reign, and who had been taken by Bishop Fox into the service of the Crown. His extraordinary powers hardly perhaps required the songs, dances, and carouses with his indulgence in which he was taunted by his enemies, to aid him in winning the favour of the young soverign. From the post of favourite he soon rose to that of minister. Henry's resentment at Ferdinand's perfidy enabled Wolsey to carry out a policy which reversed that of his predecessors. The war had freed England from the fear of French pressure. Wolsey was as resolute to free her from the dictation of Ferdinand, and saw in a French alliance the best security for English independence. In 1514 a treaty was concluded with Lewis. The same friendship was continued to his successor Francis the First, whose march across the Alps for the reconquest of Lombardy was facilitated by Henry and Wolsey, in the hope that while the war lasted England would be free from all fear of attack, and that Francis himself might be brought to inevitable ruin.