1902 Encyclopedia > England > [English History] Lancaster and York: Henry IV-VI; Edward IV; Richard III.

England
(Part 25)




SECTION II: HISTORY (cont.)

Part 25: Lancaster and York: Henry IV-VI; Edward IV; Richard III.


The short and troubled reign of Henry IV. has commonly led to forgetfulness of his earlier fame as a gallant and popular prince, a pilgrim to Jerusalem, a crusader in Africa and Prussia. The fourteen years of his reign are almost wholly filled with plots, civil wars, and the endless warfare in Scotland and France. Now again Wales becomes of importance, through the union of a Welsh pretender with the discontented party in England. In the early insurrections, as in that of 1400, the name of the late king Richard was used. The fate of the deposed king was never certainly known ; but there seems no just ground of doubting that he either died or was murdered soon after this first revolt. That a pretended Richard appeared, that he was made use of by Henry’s French and Scottish enemies, was simply what commonly happens in such cases. The revolt of 1400 was hardly suppressed when it was followed by the more dangerous revolt of Owen Glyndwr, who restored for a while the old independence of North Wales, and acted in concert with the French, the Scots, and the English rebels. In fact, down to his death in 1415, he was never fully subdued. His English allies, the Percies and Mortimers were defeated at Shrewsbury in 1403 ; and other plots and revolts, in all of which the house of Percy had a hand, were crushed in 1405 and 1408. At the time of Henry’ death, in 1413, there was a truce with Scotland ; but the war in France, which had gone on during the whole of his reign, was being waged with a greater vigour than usual.

In 1406 the crown was settled by parliament on Henry and his sons ; and on his death his eldest son Henry succeeded without opposition. A new area in the French war at once began. France, under its weak or rather mad king Charles VI.,was torn in pieces by the factions of Orleans and Burgundy. Henry IV. had, in the latter years of his reign, employed the policy of playing off one partly against the other, and had given help to each in turn. The war, which had gone on, though mostly in a desultory way, ever since the return of the Black Prince to England in 1370, now began again in earnest under a king who was one of the greatest of warriors and statesmen. The character of Henry’s enterprise is often misunderstood. It is said that whatever claim Edward III. might have had to the crown of France, Henry V. could have none. It is said that according to Edward III.’s doctrine, by which the right to the crown might pass through females to their male representatives, the rights of Edward III. had passed to Roger of March. So, as matter of genealogy, they certainly had ; and as a matter of genealogy, there was doubtless an inconsistency in the use of the French title by Henry IV. and Henry V. But the true way of looking at the matter is that both the peace of Bretigny and the trace made in the latter years of Richard II. had been broken by the French, that the war going on at Henry’s accession, that it was just then being more vigorously pressed than it had been for some time, and that all that Henry V. did was to throw the whole national power, guided by his own genius, into its vigorous prosecution. At his accession, his only continental possessions were Calais and its small territory, and a small part of Aquitaine, including, Bourdeaux and Bayonne. In Henry’s policy, Southern Gaul, which had been so nearly lost, becomes secondary. He puts forwards the treaty of Bretigny, as he also puts forward his claim to the French crown ; but his real object seems to have been the conquest of as large a continental territory as possible, but in any case the conquest of Normandy. At this distance of time, we see that such a scheme was neither just nor politic. His own age did not condemn it on either ground. He was checked for a moment, first by a Lollard revolt, them by a conspiracy on behalf either of Richard or of the earl of March. But in 1415 he was able to begin his great enterprise. A negotiation, in which Henry claimed, first the crown of France, them the whole continental possessions of the Angevin kings, and lastly the territory ceded at Bretigny, naturally failed. He then crossed the sea in 1415, took Harfleur, and won the battle of Agincourt. The three next year saw his alliance with Duke John of Burgundy, and completed the conquest of Normandy. In 1419 the murder of Duke John by the partisans of the dauphin Charles drove Philip, the new duke of Burgundy, and the whole Burgundian partly, altogether to the English side. Paris itself received Henry. Next year (1420), by the treaty of Troyes, Henry gave up his title of King of France. Charles VI. was to keep to French crown for life ; Henry was to marry his daughter Katharine, to be declared his heir, and to to be meanwhile regent of the kingdom. But the party of the disinherited still held out, and the war went on in the centre of France, while the rule of Henry was established in the north and south. On August 31, 1422, Henry V. died, revealing the true object of his policy by his last injunction that in no case should peace be made, unless Normandy was ceded to England in full sovereignty. The infant son of Henry and Katherine, Henry VI., succeeded to the kingdom of England and the heirship of France. Two months later, by the death of his grandfather the french king, the succeeded, according to the provisions of the treaty, to the crown of France. His two kingdoms were intrusted to the regency of his two paternal uncles, England to Humfrey duke of Gloucester, and France to John, the great duke of Bedford. The babe was king at Rouen and Paris, and either king of sovereign lord at Bourdeaux;_ but in the intermediate land he had a rival in a third uncle, his mother’s brother, Charles VII.

A time of thirty years follows, in which the English were gradually driven out of France and Aquitaine, till nothing was left of the old heritage except the Norman islands, and nothing was left of the new conquests except Calais and its small territory. Even after Henry was dead, the great regent was far stronger than the French claimant ; but several causes, one after the other, joined to break the English power on the continent. The mainstay to England was the Burgundiank alliance. This was first put in jeopardy by the marriage of Duke Humfrey, the regent of England, with Jacqueline, countess of Holland and Hainault, and his attempt to get possession of her dominions. Then, in 1429, came the wonderful career of the Maid, Joan of Arc. She raised the siege of Orleans ; she led Charles to be crowned at Rheims, a ceremony which gave him a certain advantage over his uncrowned rival. Her intervention turned the tide for a while on the French side; but Charles seemed quite unable to press his advantage, and he did absolutely nothing for the deliverance of the Maid when in 1430 she was taken prisoner, and was the next year burned as a heretic and sorceress. Meanwhile Henry was crowned in England in 1429 and in Paris in 1431. In the next year the death of the duchess of Bedford, sister of the duke of Burgundy, broke the tie between her husband and her brother. At last, in 1435, at the peace of Arras, Philip altogether forsook the English alliance. Almost at the same moment the duke of Bedford died, and from this time the English power in France gradually fell back. Paris was lost in 1436. Presently comes a time of truces and negotiations ; and in 1445, on the king’s marriage with Margaret of Anjon, Maine and Anjou were surrendered. In 1449 Rouen was lost, and the second French conquest of Normandy was completed in the next year. In 1451 the French conquered all that was left to England in the south, Bourdeaux being the last town to hold out. But here the tide once more changed for a moment. The Aquitanian cities found that they had gained nothing by their transfer to the nearer instead of the more distant master. In 1453 John Talbot, the great earl of Shrewsbury, came with an English force, and was welcomed as a deliverer. He was slain at Castillon in July; Bourdeaux was again taken by the French in October, and the tie of three hundred years which united England and Aquitaine was broken for ever. Less striking in the history of the world, the French conquest of Aquitaine is, in the history of Western Europe, almost as marked an epoch as the Turkish conquest of Constantinople which happened nearly at the same moment. Two great questions were decided by it. The Norman Conquest first made England a continental power ; the succession of the Angevins greatly increased her continental position. That position now wholly passed away. England is now again shut up within her own four seas. From this time she constantly takes a part is continental affairs ; but she holds no continental possessions save such outlying posts as Calais, Boulogne, Dunkirk, or Gibraltar. Calais she kept for another century, partly no doubt because the cessions made by France to Burgundy at Arras cut off Calais from the French territory, and made Burgundy the one continental neighbour of England. Again, the French conquest of Aquitaine is no less an epoch in the history of France itself. It completed the formation of France in the modern sense. Ever since the twelfth century, the French kings had been striving after dominion south of the Loire, that is, after the union of Southern with Northern Gaul. They gained their point for a moment by the marriage of Lewis and Eleanor. They gained it again for a moment by the surrender at Aquitaine of Philip the Fair. They now gained it for ever. The whole relations between England and France were now changed. There were to be many later was between the two kingdoms, and for a while the old claims of England were always remembered and were now and the asserted. But any serious hope of an English conquest of France, or even of an English conquest of Normandy or Aquitaine, passed away when Bourdeaux opened its gates to the French in 1453. From that day the modern relations between England and France begin.

The period of the Hundred Years’ War was the time in which what we may call the growth of England came to an end. The nation in its later shape was fully at formed at the end of the thirteenth century. The great lines of its later law and constitution have been already drawn. During the following period law and constitution have to take their perfect shape at home, and the nation, now fully formed, has to take its final position among the powers of Europe. During this time England and the English people became essentially all that they have been ever since. The changes in later times have been great and important ; but they have been changes of detail. In the thirteenth century it was still by no means clear what was to be the final shape of English institutions, what was to be the final position of the English people at home and abroad. In the fifteenth century all this had been fixed. The constitution, the laws, the language, the national character, of Englishmen had all taken a shape from which in their main points they were never again to change. The island realm, with the character of islander impressed upon its people, with its political constitution and its social state differing from that of any other European nation, was by the end of this period fully formed. When we have reached the end of this period, we know what England is. The personal character of the nation is now fixed. Up to this time the history of the nation has been the record of its growth ; our study has had somewhat of a physical character. From this time our study is rather biographical ; our history ceases to be the record of the growth of a nation ; it becomes the record of the arts of a nation after it has taken its final shape.

In a specially constitutional aspect, the reign of Edward III., the central time of the period with which we are dealing, is hardly less important than the reign of Edward I. But its importance is of a different king. The earlier reign fixed the constitution of parliament; it decreed that in an English parliament certain elements should always be present. It laid down as a matter of broad principle what the essential powers of parliament were. In the later reign, the essential, the elements of parliament finally arrange themselves in their several places and relations to one anther. The power, rights, and privileges of each element in the state, and the exact manner of exercising them, were now fixed and defined. The Commons are now fully established as an essential element in parliament. It is further established that knights, citizens, and burgesses are to form another. That is to say, as the attempt to make the clergy act as a parliamentary estate came to nothing, parliament now definitely took its modern form of an assembly of two houses, Lords and Commons. A statute of Edward II. in 1322 distinctly asserted the right of the Commons to a share in all acts which touched the general welfare of the kingdom. But a distinction was for a long time drawn between the older and the newer element in the assembly. For a long time the doctrine was that the Commons petitioned, and that their petitions were granted by the king with the assent of the Lords. This position of the Commons as a petitioning body is of the deepest importance, and looks both forwards and backwards. Looking backwards, it was an almost necessary result of the way in which parliament had grown up. The Lords were, and the Commons were not representatives by direct succession of the ancient sovereign assemblies of the land. It was for them by immemorial right to advise the king and to consent to his acts. The Commons had been called into being along side of them ; they had no such traditional powers ; they could win them step by step. Looking forwards, the position of the Commons as a petitioning body was a source they simply petitioned; not only might their petitions be refused, but, if they were granted, they had no control over the shape in which they were granted. If the king granted a petition which involved any change in the law, it was by royal officers that the petition was put into the form of a statute after the representatives of the Commons had gone back to their homes. Such a practice gave opportunity for many tricks. It was a frequent subject of complaint that the petitions which were said to be granted, and the statutes which were enacted in answer to them, were something quite different from what the Commons had really asked for. This evil was first seriously checked in the reign of Henry VI., when the practice was established which still prevails, that of bringing in, instead of a mere petitions, a still drawn in the form which the proposed statute was intended to take. Again, as long as the Commons were mere petitioners at whose request a law was enacted, it might be held that the king was equally able to enact at the request of some other petitioning body. Thus we still find statutes sometimes enacted, without the petition of the Commons, sometimes, for instance, at the petition of the clergy. So again, this same position of the Commons as a petitioning body led to one distinction between them and the Lord which has gone on to our own times. In one chief function of the ancient assemblies the Commons never obtained a direct share. Parliament, like those ancient assemblies, has always been the highest court of justice. But its strictly judicial powers have always been exercised by the Lords only. The Commons, by virtue of their petitioning power, have become denouncers and accusers; but they have never become judges. By virtue of their petitioning power, they began, as early as the reign of Edward III., to denounce the ministers of the king, and to demand their dismissal. In the Good Parliament of 1376, and again in the parliament of Richard ten years later, this power grows into a regular impeachment of the offenders, which is brought by the Commons as accusers before the Lords as judges. Whenever the Commons have taken part in action which was practically judicial, it has always been under some other form. They have exercised a somewhat arbitrary and anomalous in defence of their own privileges. They have passed bills of attainder and bills of pains and penalties ; but these take the form of legislative acts. Strictly judicial functions like those of the Lords they have never claimed.

One effect of the growth of the Commons was to give a more definite position to the Lords. As long as there was only one body, and that a fluctuating body, membership of the assembly could not be looked on as of any definite status. None but the bishops and earls had any definite status. None but the bishops and earls barons, were undoubted personal claim. Some abbots, some barons, were always summoned; but for a long time they were not always the same abbots or the same barons, and the memory of the old right of attendance on the part of the whole free population had not altogether died away. So long as this state of things lasted, no definite line could be drawn between those who were members of the assembly and those who were not. It only when a new body arose by the side of the old one, a body which confessedly represented all persons who had no place in the elder body, that membership of the elder body became a definite personal privilege. The vague and fluctuating gathering of the great men of the realm now grew into a peerage of known members, and possessing defined rights. The very change which made the Lords, as we may now call them, sharers in their powers in every way raised the position of the Lords as a class. The peerage, with its several ranks and its defined privileges, grew up in the reigns from Edward III. to Henry VI. It was gradually established that the king’s writ of summons, by which he called this or that man to give his attendance in parliament, conveyed a perpetual right, not only to himself but to his heirs. And now that the peerage has taken this more definite character, we hear of new and more solemn ways of admission to its ranks, such as creations in parliament and by letters patent. New titles of peerage of foreign origin were devised. Edward III. first created dukes, beginning with his own sons. The duchy of Cornwall has ever since belonged of right to the eldest son of the sovereign. Under Richard dukes became more common ; under him too title of marchio or marquess, properly the lord or guardian of a march of frontier, came to denote another honorary rank of peerage. Under Henry VI. anther new rank of peerage first appears, that of vicecomes or viscount, a word which had hitherto meant the sheriff of a country. All these new titles were, as titles, purely honorary ; they expressed mere rank, with no rights or duties but such as were common to the whole peerage. The creation of these new titles completed the change in the position of the earls, about whom some trace of their original official character long hung. The earldom now became a mere rank in the peerage, like any other. The new dukes and marquesses were set above the earls, while the vicounts were thrust in between the earls and the barons. But both the old titles and the new kept the same position as ranks in an official peerage, in a body of legislators and judges, the temporal portion of which held their seats by genealogical succession._ But no nobility in the foreign sense was, or could be, created. Because the peer was raised above other men as hereditary legislator and hereditary judge, therefore his children remained, like other men, members of the general body of the Commons.

As the growth of the Commons at once raised and defined the position of the Lords, so the general growth of the power of parliament at once defined, and by defining strengthened, the king’s prerogative. It now became a question what acts were lawful to the king without the consent of parliament, and what acts needed that consent. It is clear that, whenever prerogative was defined, it was at once limited and strengthened. But the very strengthening was of the nature of a limitation. A power which was directly or indirectly bestowed by parliament ceased to be a power inherent in the crown. The Struggle was therefore a hard one. The kings strove to hold their ground at every point, and the escape from the fetters which the nation strove to lay upon them. When the Commons tried to make the king dismiss evil counsellors or moderate the expenses of his household, when they tried to regulate the oppressive right of purveyance, the king was apt to find a loop-hole in some protest or reservation or saving clause. So the kings strove to keep the power of arbitrary taxation in their own hands by drawing distinctions between customs and other sources of revenue. So they strove to keep the power of legislation without the consent of parliament, by drawing a distinction between statutes and ordinances, and by pretending to a right to suspend the operation of statutes. The claim to legislate by ordinance is closely connected with the way in which all our legislative and judicial bodies arose. The parliament, the privy council, the courts of justice, have all grown out of the ancient assembly. For some while after the Conquest it is not always easy to see whether the words curia regis mean the great council of the nation or the smaller council of the king’s immediate advisers. The greater and the smaller council were alike fragments of the national assembly, and both alike derived their special shape from the practice of personal summons. If one body so formed had the right of legislation, it might be argued that the body so formed had it also. So again, as the Commons grew, the form of their petitions, praying that such and such an enactment might be made by the king with the consent of the lords, seemed to recognize the king as the only real lawgiver. It might suggest the thought that he could, if he would exercise his legislative powers, even though the Commons did not petition, and though Lords did not assent. A crowd of loop-holes were thus opened for irregular doings of all kinds—for attempts on the part of the kings to evade every constitutional fetter—for attempts to reign without parliaments, to impose taxes by their own authority, or to legislative with the consent only of the their own council or of some other body other than a regular parliament. Every point had to be struggled for over and over again. But by the end of the fourteenth century we may say that the constitution and the powers of parliament were, as far as the letter of the law went, much the same as they are now. But it took three hundred years more to secure the observance of the letter of the law, while the two hundred years that have followed have, by the side of the written law, developed the unwritten constitution.





For the peculiar character of that unwritten constitution, for the system by which a crowd of powers which the Commons shrink from directly exercising are now exercised by them indirectly, we have to wait for some ages. In those days a power was either exercised directly or it was not exercised at all. Thus one most important power which was freely exercised by our most ancient assemblies, but which modern parliaments shrink from directly exercising, the power of making peace and war, was in the fourteenth century in a very irregular state. Sometimes parliament claims a voice in such matter ; sometimes the king seems to thrust a control over them on an unwilling parliament. That is to say, the kings wished to make parliament share the responsibility of their acts. A parliament could hardly refuse to support the king in a war which it had itself approved. The wars of Edward III., and his constant calls for money, made frequent parliaments needful. Perhaps no other series of events in our history did so much to strengthen and define every parliamentary power. But it was mainly by the petitioning of the Commons that all power has thus been drawn into the hands of parliament. Any matter might become the subject of a petition of the Commons. It followed that, as their petitions gradually grew into demands which could not be resisted, every matter become the subject of legislation by the Commons. In their position as petitioners lay their strength. They petitioned, while the king enacted and the Lords assented. But the humbler position gave them the first word. The enacting power of the King gradually came to be a mere power of refusing to enact, a power which has long ceased to be exercised. The humble petitioners came to be the proposers of everything, and so to be the masters of everything. They had the privilege of the praerogation tribus.

The power of parliament to settle the succession to the crown, that, the ancient right of election in another shape, comes more largely into play at a later period. We have however one of the greatest instances of its exercise in the deposition of Richard and the settlement of the crown on Henry IV. and his heirs. And twelve years before the ancient doctrine was carried out in practice, it was solemnly declared by Bishop Arundel and Thomas duke of Gloucester, speaking in the name of parliament, that, by an ancient statute, parliament, with the common consent of the nation, had a right to depose a king who failed to govern according to the laws and by the advice of his peers, and to call to the throne some other member of the royal family in his stead. Most certainly there never was such a statute in the form of a statute; but the doctrine simply expressed the immemorial principle on which the nation had always acted whenever it was needful. And the statement of that there was a statute to that effect was perhaps simply an instance of the growth of the doctrines of the professional lawyers. Men were beginning to forget that the earliest written law was nothing more than immemorial custom committed to writing. They were beginning to think that, wherever there was law or even custom, it must have had its beginning in some written, even if forgotten, enactment.

After all, nothing better shows the power of parliament than the attempts which were often made by those in power to procure a packed House of Commons. Complaints were made that the sheriffs returned knights of the shire who were not really the choice of the electors, and that they summoned, or failed to summon, boroughs to send burgesses, according to their arbitrary will. Lastly, in the early days of Henry VI., we find the rights of the electors restricted by parliament itself. The constitution of the House of Commons was clearly growing too popular for the ruling power, and it was thought needful to legislate in the interests of oligarchy. By the statute of 1429 the electors of "small substance and of no value" were disfranchised, and the right of voting was confined to those who had a freehold of forty shillings yearly, a not inconsiderable amount at that time. By another statute of the same reign (1444-45) it is enacted that the knights chosen shall be " notable knights or notable esquires, gentlemen by birth." This enactment is instructive in many ways. It shows, what we find to have been the case almost from the beginning, that the knights of the shire were not always knights in the strict sense. The electors were clearly trying to break down all distinctions of rank and birth, and an attempt is made to enforce these distinctions by law. Happily no definition of "gentlemen by birth" was or could be attempted. This backsliding statue has therefore become a dead letter, as its fellow had no less through the change in the value of money.

The powers of parliament in this age, and the external influences under which parliaments acted, cannot be better illustrated than by a comparison of the last two parliaments of Edward III. The parliament of 1376, which lived in men’s memories by the name of the Good Parliament, had the full support of the prince of Wales. It was able to overthrow the king’s ministers, to remove his favourite Perrers from court, and to encumber him with a council. A crowd of petitions of various kinds were presented, some of them insisting on freedom of election. The houses separated ; the prince died ; all the acts of the parliament were set at nought ; most of them were reversed by a packed parliament the next year. Yet even this packed parliament established some wholesome doctrines, and amongst other enacted that no statute should be made at the petition of the clergy without the consent of the Commons. The same alternation of reforming and reactionary parliaments is found under Richard II. There is no surer witness to the importance of any assembly or other institution than the fact that the ruling powers find it convenient to corrupt or pervent it.

When we turn to the religious, the social and the literary aspect of this period, we may be amazed at the way in which the three are all intertwined together, and in which they all gather round a single man. We cannot write the history of the fourteenth century in any of these aspects, we cannot write the history of the fifteenth as affected by caused which had their beginning in the fourteenth, without was employed in important negotiations with foreign powers, he has earned his place in any minute record even of the outward political history of his time. But it is in these other three branches that he stand out as the foremost figure of his time. But, while he is prominent in all three alike, it is his religious position which is primary. His influence on our social and literary is secondary, and acts wholly through his religious position. Wickliffe, a removed schoolman and doctor of Oxford, a well beneficed secular priest, and not unknown in the political world, made himself the centre and the mouth-piece of the great of his time. The fourteenth century saw the beginning of a cry for a religious reformation in a wider sense than a mere reform of the abuses of the moment. Reforms of that kind have been demanded, promised, and indeed partly attempted, in almost every age. The day of the monks was past when the day of the friars began ; and now the day of the friars was past also. They too had fallen from their first love, and the abuses of the mendicant orders formed one of the chief subjects of declaration for the reformers of the time. The bounty of founders now took another form. The foundation of colleges in the universities went on briskly all though the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Schools and hospitals, chantries and colleges of priests attached to parish churches, were largely founded ; but the foundation of monasteries was now rare. The great foundations of William of Wykeham at Winchester and Oxford, followed by those of Henry VI. at Eton and Cambridge, form an area in the history of education in England.

It is singular that this new class of foundations was largely helped by an act of legislation which might well pass for spoliation of the Church. The fourteenth century and the beginning of the fifteenth was a busy time of legislation on ecclesiastical matters. The political strife with the Roman see went on in full vigour, with all the more vigour because the Roman see had in some sort ceased to be a Roman see. In the fourteenth century the popes were no longer the common fathers of Christendom, ruling from the centre of Christendom. They had forsaken Rome for Avignon, a city to he French border, and where they were the tools of the king of the neighbouring realm. The popes of Rome had been oppressors and spoilers of England ; the popes of Avignon were her political enemies, the allies of her rivals in Britain and on the continent. When, later in the century, Rome and Avignon became the seats of rival popes, England was naturally found on the side of the pope of Rome, France and Scotland on the side of the pope of Avignon. But, whether at Rome or a Avignon, the foreign ecclesiastical power had to be kept in check. A series of statutes designed to check papal encroachments marks the reign of Edward III., and still more conspicuously marks the reign of Richard II. The statute of provisors checked the interference of the popes with the disposal of English benefices. The statute of praemunire denounced the heaviest penalties against the unauthorized introduction of papal bulls into the kingdom. Legislation of this kind was indeed only repressing innovations ; it was bringing the law back to what it had been in the days of king Edward and King William. Under the house of Lancaster, the spirit of opposition to the papal claims grew fainter, at all events on the part of the kings. In the appointment of bishoprics especially, pope and king found it easy to play into one another’s hands, at the expense of the ecclesiastical electors. Meanwhile, from the reign of Edward III. onwards, opposition to the aggressions of the head of the Church abroad grew into a dangerous hankering after the possessions of the Church at home. In the later days of Edward a strong party of the baronage, headed by John of Gaunt, were zealous for ecclesiastical reform, in the sense of confiscation of ecclesiastical property and of the exclusion of churchmen from political office. In the reign of Henry IV. a scheme was proposed in the Commons for the general confiscation revenues. This storm was turned aside, but the hand of disendowment fell heavily in the next reign on one class of ecclesiastical foundations, though, as it turned out, greatly to the profit of another class. The new colleges and other foundations were largely endowed out of the revenues of the alien priories. These were monasteries in England which were dependent on greater monasteries in Normandy or elsewhere beyond the sea. During the wars with France these alien houses were looked on as outposts of the enemy, an in the reign of Henry V. they were finally suppressed. By far the greater part of their revenues went to the educational and secular foundations which were growing up at Oxford, Cambridge, and elsewhere. A king and a primate, both of them of a piety unusual in that age, Henry V. and Archbishop Chicheley, were the chief actors in this alienation of ecclesiastical revenues by the secular power.

But changes of this kind were not religious reformation they were hardly ecclesiastical reform. It is plain that the corruptions of the Church were growing ; everything shows the prevalence of a hard, secular, grasping spirit in ecclesiastical relations. The primates of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries are, if we except the momentary primacy of Thomas Bradwardine , an inferior race to those of the thirteenth. Men cried, as they had ever cried, for the reform of practical evils, and they now began to go much further. They began to attack the whole ecclesiastical system, and even the received doctrines of the Church. It was held that heresy was a crime at common law ; but, as a matter of fact, religious dissent of any kind was rarely heard of in England from the earliest times till the fourteenth century. The most remarkable case in earlier times was in the reign of Henry II., when a company of foreigners, belonging to some of the sects of Southern Europe, succeeded in making a single English proselyte. But the teaching of Wickliffe in the fourteenth century was the beginning of the religious changes of the sixteenth century. Wickliffe, the founder of a sect which suffered much persecution, can hardly be said to have been persecuted himself. His doctrines led directly to the unlawfulness of the whole ecclesiastical system, and specially to the unlawfulness of ecclesiastical property. Those doctrines he sent forth his poor priests to teach; but he himself lived and died in quiet possession of the rectory of lutterworth. A reformer, theological, moral, and political, he allied himself with John of Gaunt, as the Puritans did in after times with Robert Dudley, though the duke’s schemes of reform were certainly of a more earthly kind than those of the doctor. But this union came to an end when another side of Wickliffe’s teaching, one which was doubtless not designed by Wickliffe himself, came into notice. This age was beyond all others the age of social change, or at least of events which led to the greatest social change. Causes which had doubtless been working long before came to a head under the joint influence of a fearful physical stroke and of the new religious teaching.

We may safely set down the great plague of 1349, known as the Black Death, as the greatest of all social landmarks in English history. While the chivalrous king was keeping the feast of the foundation of the Order of the Garter, half the inhabitants of his kingdom were swept away by the pestilence. The natural results followed. We have seen that one of the gradual results of the Norman Conquest was to fuse together the churls, the lowest class of freemen, along with the slaves in the intermediate class of villain. By t this time personal slavery had pretty well died out ; but villainage was still in full force. But various causes—among them the frequent emancipation of the villains—had called into being a class of free labourers alongside of the villains. When the cut off so large a proportion of the whole people, labour became scarcer, and higher wages were naturally demanded. Parliament after parliament, beginning in the very year of the Black Death, tried, in the interests of the employers of labour, to keep wages at their old rate. The Good Parliament itself did not shrink from this selfish and impossible attempt. The discontent ceased by these statutes, the general stirring of men’s minds of which Wickliffe and the Vision of the Ploughman are alike witnesses, led, under the preaching of some of Wickliffe’s wilder and fiercer disciples, to the great peasant outbreak of 1381, the insurrection which has chiefly become famous through the story of Wat Tyler. The young king, undoubtedly outstripping his legal powers, promised freedom to all the villains. This promise the next parliament not unnaturally refused to confirm. Two results followed. Though the villains were not at once emancipated, yet from this time villainage gradually died out, as slavery had died out. Neither institution was ever abolished by law ; but all the slaves gradually became villains, all the villains gradually became freemen. By the end of the fifteenth century, villainage was hardly, except here and there on ecclesiastical estates. The clergy had always preached the emancipation of the villains as a good work. Yet they were the slowest of all landowners to emancipate their own villains. In this is no real inconsistency. The layman might do what he would with his own; he might dispence with services owing to himself. Those who were at any moment the members of an ecclesiastical corporation might be held not to have the same toe emancipate their villains, that, is, to make away with the rights of the corporation itself.

The other great result of the peasant uprising was to associate in men’s minds the two ideas of religious reformation and political, or rather social, revolution. Wickliffe was himself as guiltless of the revolt of the villains as Luther was the of the Peasants’ War or of the reign of the Anabaptists. But in both cases the teaching of the more moderate reformer had a real connexion with the doings of the reformers who outstripped him. From this time Lollardy, as the teaching of Wickliffe was called, was under a cloud. It was held to be all one, not only with heresy, but with revolution. Wickliffe himself died in peace ; but for the few years that he outlived the revolt, he lost all political influence and political support. The reign of Richard was hostile to the ecclesiastical order at home and abroad. Yet it produced in 1382 the first statute against heresy, the penalties of which did not go beyond imprisonment. It was regularly passed ; yet the Commons in the next parliament expressly demanded that it should be declared null. The first statute for the burning of heretics dates from the reign of Henry IV., from which time the stake was their legal doom. But the number of heretics to burn was not great. The most famous victim was sir John Oldcastle, Lord Cobham, who was hanged and burned under Henry V. on a combined charge of treason and heresy. Thus far the political character of Lollardy shows itself. But through the rest of the fifteenth century, though we ever and anon hear of a martyrdom, religious dissent was so thoroughly discredited as to be of no political importance.

Wickliffe was thus the direct author of a religious change. He was indirectly, if not the author, at least the unintentional abettor, of a social and political change. His place in the history of English literature is at least equal to his place in religious and political history. He was the father of later English prose writing. Since the sudden close of the Peterborough Chronicle, English prose writing had never quite died out, but it had remained something quite secondary by the side of English verse. But in the fourteenth century the English language again won back its own place. Not that the English nation had been formed again in its new shape, it was needful to proclaim the fact to the world by some unmistakable outward sign. That sign was found in the restoration of the national language to its rights as the acknowledged speech of the land, and that restoration was brought about by the same cause which first showed the regenerate English nation in the character of a great European power. It was the French war which completed the triumph of the English tongue. The men who had overcome the French enemy on his own soil could endure that the French tongue should remain in use on the soil of England even as the speech of fashion. In the course of Edward III.’s reign English displaced French as the speech of education and as the speech of the courts of law. Statutes are still drawn up in French, but speeches in parliament are now in English. The ministers of the crown address the houses, and Henry of Lancaster claims the crown, in the native speech of the land. At last, under Henry V., negotiations were carried on with France by ambassadors who knew not the French tongue. From this time the use of French in public documents, an use which still lingered till the end of the fifteenth century, was as mere a survival as the two or three formulae which are couched in French still.





Thus after the ups and downs of three hundred years, English was now again the acknowledge speech of England the one common speech of Englishmen of all ranks. But the ancient tongue, in winning back it ancient place, had greatly changed it ancient character. The two great changes in language which the effects of the Norman Conquest had rather strengthened than begun, the loss of inflexions and the constant introduction of foreign words, had had more and more effect as the speakers of the two tongues grew closer together, as the use of one or the other marked no longer a national but merely a social dinstinction. The English tongue which thus, in the course of the fourteenth century, won back its place from French, was a form of English which had lost or corrupted most of the old grammatical forms, which had adopted a crowd of foreign words, and which had even displaced many English words to make way for them. Still the unbroken continuity. The personal being as it were, of the native tongue remained untouched. We may say that in one age French displaced English, that in another ago English displaced French. But the English tongue always remained the English tongue. The tongue of Chaucer did not displace the tongue of Beowulf ; the elder form of the language changed into the younger by gradual and imperceptible shades. The fourteenth century was one of the great periods of English literature. The devotional vein which had begun—most likely begun again—in the thirteenth century, flowed together in the fourteenth to form the great work, religious, moral, and social, of William Langland, the Vision of Piers the Ploughman. And after the English poet, of the people soon came the English poet of more courtly life and more courtly speech in the person of Geoffrey Chancer. And alongside of these more famous names we have a considerable mass of verse, political and satirical, on the events of the times. But while a hundred years earlier compositions of this kind were written indifferently in three languages, we have them now in two only ; they are written in Latin and in English, but never in French. We have indeed one French chronicle of this time, that which records the deposition and death of Richard ; but it is the work of a Frenchman. But it is now that English prose comes to the front in the hands of Wickliffe, in the form of his translation of the Bible and of his countless popular tracts. From his time a series of prose writers has never failed us. The English version of the travels of Sir John Mandeville in the fourteenth century, the theological writings of Bishop Reginald Peacock in the fifteenth, carry on the series from the days of the great master. Prose history in English does not appear in the fourteenth century, and it is of small importance in the fifteenth. But that is the case with our history generally. The old series of the Latin historians of England is but feebly represented in the fourteenth century, and it can hardly be said to be represented at all in the fifteenth. The great school of St Albans comes down to Thomas of Walsingham and Abbot Whethamstead. But we now look in vein at St Albans for successors of Matthew Paris, as we look in vain elsewhere for successor of William of Malmesbury or William of Newburgh.

It is therefore not to much to say that, in the course of this period, the period of the Hundred Years’ War. England finally took its modern shape. The essence of the constitution, the main points of the law, the dominant language, all took a shape which has since been changed only in detail. In all these things the formation of the England that was to be was brought to perfection in this age. And if the remaining distinctive characteristic of England was not brought of perfection in this age, the first steps to it were already taken. The papal claims were alienated by authority of parliament ; if strictly religious reformation obtained no legal sanction, yet its seeds were now for the first time sown in the heart of the people. And if this was the age when the main features of English political life put on their present form, it was no less so with the main features of English social life. The distinguishing elements of English society, the peer as distinguished from the continental noble, the country gentleman, the farmer, the free labourer—all of them elements so specially English—all take nearly their present shape during this time. Villainage, if not abolished, received its death-blow. The mingling of classes is shown even by the oligarchic statutes which tried in some measure to hinder it. Esquires had long represented shires as well as actual knights. The rich citizen could buy a landed estate, and in a generation or two his children counted as esquires. The towns were growing in wealth and political importance, but their internal constitution were getting narrower. The law was administered by nearly the same courts as it is now, and the abundance of lawsuits kept all courts, great and small fully supplied with business. This growth of the law the specially English law, statute and common, led to the rapid growth and increasing importance of the class of professional lawyers, men who practised the statute and common law of England, as distinguished from the professors of the law of Rome, civil and canon. Their importance is shown in the fourteenth century, by a petition of the Commons that the practitioners of the law might not be returned as knights of the shire ; it was more terribly shown towards the end of that century in the bitter bastred towards the whole lawyer class which was shown in the peasant revolt. But notwithstanding both laws and lawyers, we find that powerful, men to say nothing of the king himself, were often able to interfere with the due administration of the law. But this fault is common to all lands. What is specially English is that, though the law was often broken, yet the law remained to rebuke those who broke it, and to triumph over them in the end.

Thus, on the whole practical peace and order, as well as constitutional freedom, steadily advanced during this age. Not the smallest sign of its advance is the marked improvement in domestic architecture. The style which came in with the latter half of the fourteenth century and went on in use during the fifteenth, is commonly looked on as a decline from the style of the thirteenth and early fourteenth century. Yet, even as applied to churches, this style is not without its own merits, and it is the characteristic domestic style of England. Up to the end of the thirteenth century, we have but small remains of houses, houses as distinguished form castles and not built within the walls of a town. But in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries England was covered with houses of all classes, manor-houses, parsonages, houses of substantial yeomen, of wood or stone according to their district often excellent examples of the architecture of the time, and witnessing to the general state of security in the greater part of the country. We at once contrast them with the houses of the same and of a much later date on the Scottish border and in Ireland, where the esquire and the priest still had to live for safety’s sake in pele-tower. This last is in truth nothing but a continuation of the square Norman keep in a smaller and ruder form. In short, in England security, liberty, and political rights were spread over the whole country. They were not, as in most other lands, confined to the inhabitants either of fortified towns or of private strongholds.

There hundred and fifty years of struggle had thus made England once more fully herself after the great overthrow of the Norman Conquest narrative of English history, our tale would now, as it draws nearer and nearer to our own time, be fittingly told in greater detail at each stage. In a sketch like the present the opposite process would seem to be no less fitting. We now know what England is. She has made herself ; she has won her rights ; she has now to defend, to secure, when needful to reform ; she has no longer any need to create. The only exception is with regard to her religious history. In other respects all that has henceforth to be done is to keep what has already been gained. In the religious department alone, there is still something to be gained, something, if not to be created, at least to be put into a wholly new shape. This great period of three hundred fifty years, broken, as we have dealt with it, into several smaller periods, this period of creative struggle, is followed by another great period of about two hundred and fifty years. This is still a time of struggle, but in political matters of mainly defensive struggle, is still, in a lower sense, creative. This long period again falls into three periods. The first is the time of the civil wars of York and Lancaster, a time during which the fabric of freedom which had been built up with so much toil begins to yield, in outward appearance at least, to the growth of an almost despotic power in the crown. Then comes the time of Tudor dominion, the time which, while it saw the greatest development of royal power, saw also the great religious change which was needed to complete the later character of England. Lastly, there is the time of renewed struggle, political and religious alike, against the feebler despotism of the Stewarts. Of these three periods, the first answering nearly to the second half of the fifteenth century, has little religions interest. In the second, answering nearly to the sixteenth century, though the political interest is great, the religious interest surpasses it. In the third period, answering nearly to the seventeenth century, the religious and the political interest go side by side. But through the whole both of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, it is the importance of the religious interest which gives the period its special character While, political matters, men are simply striving to preserve or to win back an old freedom, in religious matters they are striving to establish a wholly new freedom.

Beginning then, as before, with the most prominent outward characteristics of the several periods, the feature which first strikes us is that t he hundred years of foreign war are followed by a period of about half the length, the chief feature of which is the great civil strife of fifteenth century, the strife between the houses of York and Lancaster, commonly known as the Wars of the Roses It would seem as if the failure of schemes of continental dominion on the part of England had driven Englishmen to spend their energies in biting and devouring one another at home. The fifty years after the fall loss of Aquitaine form a time which, especially towards its end, is of much importance in other ways. But this feature of constant civil war, war waged to settle the disputed succession to the crown, is that which gives to the time its most distinguishing character. Wars with Scotland and with France go on very much as before. One year there is a raid ; the next year there is a truce. But warfare of this kind is of little importance in a general view of the period. All hope of the conquest or serious dismemberment of either of the hostile countries has passed away. The origin of this great civil strife was to appearance purely genealogical. The claim of Roger earl of March to succeed Richard II., by virtue of descent in the female line from an elder son of Edward III., showed the new doctrines in their extremest form. But all claim on this score had been set aside by the repeated acts of parliament which gave the crown to Henry IV. and his heirs. No title could be better than taht of the Lancastrian kings ; and, amid the glories of the reign of Henry V., the genealogical fancy which was all that could be pleaded for the other family seems gradually to have been forgotten. But, just about the time of the loss of Aquitaine, a number of circumstances joined together to give a renewed importance to their claims. Those claims had now passed to Richard duke of York, who in the male line represented a son of Edward III. younger than John of Gaunt, but who in the female line represented the elder brother Lionel. The weakness of Henry VI., sometimes growing into absolute imbecility, was now manifest. His foreign queen and his ministers, the dukes of Suffork and Somerset, were unpopular on various grounds, specially on account of the losses in France. Duke Richard, on the other hand, was an able popular nobleman, who had won reputation both in France and in Ireland. As long as Henry was childless, he might be looked on as heir-presumptive to the crown. The only possible competitor was the duke of Somerset himself. Somerset represented a branch of the royal family which was of doubtful legitimacy, that of the natural children of John of Gaunt, who had been legitimated by Parliament, but whose position as regarded the royal succession was not clear._ In 1450 a popular insurrection under Jack Cade, who called himself Mortimer, might pass for a sign that the claims of that family were not forgotten. The duke of Suffolk, impeached by the Commons, but not sentenced by the Lords, had been irregularly put to death. Somerset now remained as the unpopular minister, while Richard of York was the leader of a popular opposition. The birth of the king’s only son in 1453 took away the duke’s hope of a peaceful succession and in 1455 the civil war began.

The war of York and Lancaster, like the great war with France, with its occasional lulls and truces, must be looked on as really lasting, notwithstanding reconciliations, restorations, and momentary reigns, from the time when the sword was first drawn against Henry VI. to the time when it was last drawn against Henry VII. One thing is to be noted throughout, that, after every revolution, a parliament was always found ready to condemn the defeated side, and to acknowledge the rights of the conqueror. Thus, in the early stage of the war, the duke of York was attainted in 1459. In 1460 the victory of Northampton put him in a position to make good his claim to the crown. A compromise was brought about by the Lords, which sounds as if it had been suggested by the treaty of Troyes. By their award it was agreed that Henry should keep the crown for life, but that the duke should displace the king’s son in the rank of their apparent. Such an award implied the admission of the new doctrine of absolute hereditary right in its extremest form. At the same time, it saved the personal rights of the crowned king to whom the claimant had sworn allegiance. But this settlement on paper had no practical effect. The queen and the lords of her partly disregarded it. In 1460 Duke Richard fell at Wakefield, and his claims passed to his son Edward. The compromise was now set aside on both sides. Henry had joined, or had been made to join, the queen’s forces after the victory of Wakefield. The Yorkist doctrine was that, by so doing, he had broken the award, and had thereby forfeited the crown, which therefore passed to Edward. The claims of Edward were confirmed by a kind of popular election in London. After his crowning victory at Towton followed his coronation, and a fresh parliamentary settlement, which declared the victor of Agincourt an usurper. The reign of Edward IV. is now held to begin ; but the war was not yet over. Margaret south help in Scotland and France, and Scottish help was bought by the surrender of Berwick. The war began again in 1463, and this stage of it may be looked on as ended by the Yorkist victory at Hexham in 1464. The next year Henry was captured. But by this time Edward had taken a step which led to the estrangement of his most powerful supporters. His marriage with one of his subjects, Elizabeth Grey, and the growing influence of her family, the Woodvilles, began to offend the house of Neville, and its head Richard earl of Warwick. After a series of almost unintelligible intrigues and insurrections, Edward was in 1470 driven out of the kingdom by an union between Warwick and the king’s own brother, George duke of Clarence. Henry VI. was now taken from prison and again declared king. The crown was settled by parliament on him and his son, with remember to Clarence. But in the next year Edward came back ; Clarence changed sides, and the crown was secured to Edward by the fights of Barnet and Tewkesbury. At Tewkesbury Edward the son of Henry was killed ; the death—we may feel sure that it was the murder—Henry himself followed. The legitimate male line of Lancaster was now extinct ; no descendant of any one of the sons of Henry IV. survived. There were foreign princes descended from of Gaunt in the female line, and among them the famous Charles duke of Burgundy, who seems, among the other objects of his ambition, to have sometimes of the English crown for himself. Such claims were not likely to meet with any support in England ; and Edward, by a stroke of real policy, won Charles to his side by the hand of his sister Margaret, and found shelter at his brother-in-law’s court during his exile. In England the hopes of the Lancastrian party now turned in a new direction, to legitimated descendants of John of Gaunt of the house of Somerset. That house also was extinct in the male line ; its representative was Margaret, countess of Richmond. Her young son, Henry Tudor, earl of Richmond, was now, in the lack of any better claimant, looked on as the heir of Lancaster. It is needless to say that no genealogical subtlety could be held to give him any share on the line of Henry IV. But something of the sentiment of royal descent might be held to have come to Henry in a strange way through his father’s mother. She was no other than Katherine of France, the widow of Henry V., who married a Welshman named Owen tudor, in whose descendants the crown of England passed, by a stranger genealogical accident, to the ancient stock of Britain.

For the remaining twelve years of his life Edward IV. reigned without any important disturbance at home. But the members of the house of York had already begun to turn one against another. The validity of Edwars’s marriage, and therefore the legitimacy of his children, was doubtful. Clarence was in any case the next in succession after them, while, by the statute passed during Henry’s second reign, he had a claim before Edward himself. In 1478 this dangerous brother was condemned in parliament on a vague charge of treason; and he presently died, though not by any public execution. The latter years of Edward IV. were taken up chiefly with foreign policy and foreign war, both of which were on rather a small scale. A Scottish war from 1480 to 1482 is remarkable for the recovery of Berwick. In continental politics Edward was specially busy. His policy took largely the form of planning foreign marriages for his children, none of which were carried into effect. Even before he was driven out in 1470, he was trying to form alliances against France, especially with Charles of Burgundy. But, though Charles sheltered Edward in his exile, he gave him no real support when in 1475 he actually began an invasion of France. Edward, as well as Charles, was outwitted by Lewis XI. The king and his counsellors went home, without glory or conquest but with large bribes of French money.

The death of Edward in 1483 again, nominally at least, gave the crown to a minor, Edward, the eldest son of the late king. The suspicions which had been vaguely raised against John of Gaunt during the minority of Richard II. became realities in the case of the ambitious uncle of Edward V. This was Richard duke of Gloucester, the youngest son of Richard duke of York, who was declared protector of the young king. His protectorate was marked by the illegal slaughter of several of the lords of the party of the queen mother. Presently Richard’s own adherents claimed the crown for him. The claim was based on the alleged invalidity of Edward IV.’s marriage. Some ventured alleged invalidity of Edward IV.’s marriage. Some ventured on the more improbable scandal that neither Edward nor Clarence was really a son of Duke Richard, and that Richard of Gloucester was his only real representative. A more decent argument was found in the attainder or George of Clarence, which, it was held, shut out his children from the succession. An irregular kind of election, which however professed to be made by the estates of the realm, called on Richard to assume the crown. He was crowned instead of his nephew ; and there can be little doubt that both Edward and his brother Richard duke of York were made away with, like Arthur in earlier days, days, at the bidding of their uncle. The ancient custom of England would have spared all these crimes. Richard, who had in other respects many of the qualities of a good ruler, would doubtless have been chosen on the death of his brother. As it was, his crown was at once threatened by Henry of Richmond, who now passed for the representative of the house of Lancaster. The aim of his party was to marry him to Elizabeth, daughter of Edward IV., who now represented the more regular succession of the house of York. Richmond was in banishment in Bretanny. The first attempts of himself and his partisans were crushed. At this stage of our history everything turns on marriages and genealogies. The deaths of Richard’s queen Anne Neville and his son Edward open a new stage in the tale. John earl of Lincoln, the son of the king’s sister Elizabeth duchess of Suffolk, was now declared the presumptive heir. But Richard now designed a marriage with his own niece Elizabeth, to which she and her mother seem to have consented. This plan hastened the schemes of Richmond. He landed, raised in army, and, helped by the treachery of the Stanleys and Percies, he overthrew Richard at Bosworth, August 22, 1485. Henry was crowned, and a parliament settled the crown on him and the heirs of his body, and none other. The new clearly wished that his claims should be in no way dependent on his intended marriage with Elizabeth. Parliament, on the other hand, was clearly unwilling to give its formal sanction either to a right of conquest or to Henry’s strange hereditary claim. Henry, in short, reigned by a parliamentary title, by an election which followed his coronation. In the next year however he carried out his promise of marrying Elizabeth ; and, before the end of the year 1486, the birth of his eldest son, who, as the son of the first British king of England, received the name of Arthur, seemed to put the succession on a sure ground.

We are apt to look on Henry VII. as the founder of a dynasty, and on his reign as marking the beginning of a new area. Both views are true ; but must not be allowed to put out of sight the fact that, till quite the end of his reign, his throne was as insecure as that of that of any of his predecessor. The civil wars were not yet ended ; in foreign lands Henry was looked on as a mere adventurer, who had won the crown by the chances of one battle, and who was likely to lose what he had won by the chances of another. Hence he was, like Edward IV. in the same case specially anxious to establish his position among foreign princes. The obtain, as he did at last, an infants for his son, even to give his daughter to the king of Scots, were in his view important objects of policy. But those objects were not attained till after he had strengthened his position at home by successfully withstanding more than one enemy.

The revolts against Henry began early. Before the birth of his son, he had to crush the first insurrection of Lord Lovell. The next year enemies arose him in Ireland. There the rule of the elder duke of York had been popular, and the Yorkist party had always been the stronger. A claimant appeared, one Lambert Simnel, who professed to be Edward earl of Warwick, son of George duke of Clarence, the male of representative of the house of York. Edward was indeed alive in the Tower, and was shown in public to prove the imposture. Yet Simnel was crowned Ireland, and was presently supported by John earl of Lincoln, who had been himself declared heir presumptive under Richard. The impostor and his partisans landed in England, and were overthrown at Stoke-upon-Trent. In 1492 another and more dangerous claimant, who professed to be Richard duke of York, the son of Edward IV., and whose real name was understood to be Perkin Warbeck, appeared also in Ireland. His cause was taken up by more than one foreign potentate, by James IV., king of Scots, and by Margaret, the duchess dowager of Burgundy, who, if he was what he pretended to be, was his own aunt. He made more than one attempt at invasion, some of them in company with the king of Scots. Meanwhile, early in 1497, the men of Cornwall rose and marched as far as Blackheath, close to London. There were defeated; but when, a few months later, Perkin landed in Cornwall, he found enough support there to besiege Exeter. But he shrank from a battle with the royal army ; he submitted to the king, and was put to death in the next year, 1499. Immediately afterwards followed the beheading of Edward of Warwick. Form this, for time, for the last ten years of his reign, Henry reigned in safey.

The wars with France still lingered on, and in 1492 Henry had actually undertaken the siege of Boulogne. The enterprise was however ended by a treaty of peace. After Henry’s throne was secured by the deaths of Perkins and of Edward of Warwick, his European position speedily rose. In 1501 Katherine of Aragon was married to Arthur, and, on his death in the next year, she was contracted to his younger brother Henry. Earlier in this year, 1502, a treaty of peace was concluded with Scotland, which was followed in 1503 by the marriage of James king of Scots and Henry’s elder daughter Margaret. This marks an area in the relations between England and Scotland. Up to this time, ever since the enterprise of Edward Balliol, there had been constant warfare, interrupted only by truces. Now, for the first time, a peace, strictly so called, was concluded. All claims either to the crown of Scotland or to a superiority over it on the part of England must be looked on as being finally given up. There was still more than one war between England and Scotland before the union of the crowns ; but the state of constant warfare broken only by truces now comes to an end.

In 1509 Henry VII. died. His eldest son, Henry VIII., who now united the claims of York and Lancaster, succeeded without a breath of opposition. He was the first king since Richard II. who reigned by an undisputed title ; and he was, strangely enough, the last king who was formally elected in ancient fashion in the ceremony of his coronation. With him, rather than with his father, a new period opens ; or, more accurately still, the new period opens with the second of Henry VII.’s reign, after all opposition to his title had passed away. When the first Tudor king felt himself safe, the Tudor despotism began. Under the second Tudor king that despotism allied itself with ecclesiastical change, and the sixteenth century put on its most characteristics aspects.

It was during the period that England came within the range of those general causes of change which were now beginning to affect all Europe. The revival of learning, as it is called, was now spreading from Italy into other lands. The three great inventions which in the course of the fifteenth century affected the general state of mankind, gunpowder, printing, and the compass, began it the course of the second half of that century to do their work on England also. The Wars of the Roses differ widely, in their military character, from the civil wars of earlier times. The personal displays of chivalry in the field, as well as the older style of fortification, both became useless before the neew engines of destruction. But, above all things, it was during this time that, in most parts of Europe, the chief steps were taken towards that general overthrow of ancient liberties which reached its highest growth in the sixteenth century. Europe was massing itself into a system of powers, greater in extent and smaller in number, than heretofore. The masters of these powers were learning a more subtle policy in foreign affairs than those who went before them, and they were beginning to rest their trust at home on standing armies. We have reached the times of Lewis XI. And of Ferdinand of Aragon. While France had grown by the annexations of nearly all its vassal states, and of some state which were not its vassals, the new power of Spain was Spain was growing up, to develop in the next period into the gigantic dominion of the house of Austria. Italy, with the mass of its small common wealths grouped together among a few larger states, some princely, some republican, becomes during this age the battlefield of the rival powers. This new state of things was not without its influence on England, though our insular position saved us from being so completely carried away as the continental nations. The power of the crown grew to a pitch which was altogether unknown at any earlier time except under the Conqueror and his immediate successors. Parliaments become more servile ; sometimes they are dispensed with altogether. Arbitrary acts on the part of the crown are perhaps not more common than in earlier times ; but they take a new character. When law a generally weak and is easily broken, the king’s breaches of the law do not seem very different from branches of the law on the part of other men. When the king had became powerful enough o enforce the law on other men, but fails to observe the law in his own acts, the fault is of another kind. It is no longer general lawlessness, but deliberate arbitrary rule.


Footnotes

FOOTNOTE (p. 320)
1 Lionel was strictly the third son of Edward III. ; but he was the second of those who left descendants. As all the three elder sons Edward died before their father, John of Gaunt was the eldest was the eldest surviving son of Edward at his father’s death.

FOOTNOTE (p. 321)
1 After the peace of Bretigny, Edward III. changed his style of Duke of Aquitaine to Lord. He was "Dominus Hiberniae et Aquitaniae." When he again took up the title of King of France, it might have been doubted whether Aquitaine remained a distinct sovereign lordship or was merged in the kingdom.

FOOTNOTE (p.322)
1 "Genealogical succession," because the phrase "hereditary succession" is, in the older use of the word, applicable alike to the spiritual and the temporal peers, at least as both classes stood till the union with Scotland. In other language "jus hereditarium" means a right handed on from one holder to another, whether the successor be the son of the last holder, or a person chosen or appointed to succeed him after his death. In this sense, the seats attached to the sees of Canterburry, York, London, Durham, and Winchester, are still as strictly hereditary as any earldom or barony. But that name cannot apply to various modern forms of peerage, such as the elective peers of Scotland and Ireland, to the rotatory bishops of Ireland now abolished, to these bishops of England who succeed only by seniority or to the last newly created judicial peerages

FOOTNOTE (p.327)
1 The case of the Beaufort family, earls and dukes of Somerset, is clearly stated by Lingard, iii. 357. The original patent of 1397 did not in so many words except the succession to the crown, but it did so by implication, by making the persons legitimated capable of all dignities short of the crown, but making no mention of the crown itself. In the later copies the crown was expressly excepted.


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