Gateway to the Classics: The World's Story: England by Eva March Tappan
The World's Story: England by  Eva March Tappan

Cardinal Wolsey Going in Procession

by Sir John Gilbert

(English painter,  1817-1897)

CARDINAL WOLSEY devoted himself for many years to carrying out every wish of his master, Henry VIII. As a reward, Wolsey was made archbishop, and then lord chancellor, and finally cardinal. He lived in a beautiful palace, with the richest of carpets and silken tapestries. It is said that he had five hundred servants, and that some of them wore heavy chains of gold and garments of satin and velvet, as if they were noblemen. Cavendish thus describes the cardinal's going forth from his house: "He would issue out to them, appareled all in red, in the habit of a cardinal, with a tippet of sables about his neck; holding in his hand a very fair orange, whereof the meat or substance within was taken out and filled up again with the part of a sponge wherein was vinegar or other confections against the pestilent airs the which he commonly smelt when passing among the press—or else when he was pestered by many suitors. Then his gentlemen ushers cried out and said, 'Oh, my lords and masters, on before; make way for my lord's grace,' and thus he passed down from his chamber through the hall."

In the illustration, two churchmen precede the cardinal, bearing crosses, while behind them walks a noble carrying the cardinal's hat. All about are poor people kneeling to present petitions for one thing or another. One of them a guard is trying to restrain; but she knows well the kindness of the great man to the poor, and she pays no heed to the hand on her shoulder. At the left is borne the pillar of silver which typifies the cardinal's position as a pillar of the Church.

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