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AUTHORITIES FOR BOOK V.

1461–1540.

Edward the Fifth is the subject of a work attributed to Sir Thomas More, and which almost certainly derives much of its importance from Archbishop Morton. Whatever its historical worth may be, it is remarkable in its English form as the first historical work of any literary value which we possess written in our modern prose. The “Letters and Papers of Richard the Third and Henry the Seventh," some " Memorials of Henry the Seventh," including his life by Bernard André of Toulouse, and a volume of “ Materials" for a history of his reign have been edited for the Rolls Series. A biography of Henry is among the works of Lord Bacon. The history of Erasmus in England must be followed in his own interesting letters ; the most accessible edition of the typical book of the revival, the “Utopia," is the Elizabethan translation, published by Mr. Arber. Mr. Lupton has done much to increase our scanty knowledge of Colet by his recent editions of several of his works. Halle's Chronicle extends from the reign of Edward the Fourth to that of Henry the Eighth ; for the latter he is copied by Grafton and followed by Holinshed. Cavendish has given a faithful and touching account of Wolsey in his later days, but for any real knowledge of his administration or the foreign policy of Henry the Eighth we must turn from these to the invaluable Calendars of State Papers for this period from the English, Spanish, and Austrian archives, with the prefaces of Professor Brewer and Mr. Bergenroth. Cromwell's early life as told by Foxe is a mass of fable, and the State Papers afford the only real information as to his ministry. For Sir Thomas More we have a touching life by his son-in-law, Roper. The more important documents for the religious history of the time will be found in Mr. Pocock's edition of Burnet's “ History of the Reformation ;” those relating to the dissolution of the monasteries in the collection of letters on that subject published by the Camden Society, and in the “ Original Letters” of Sir Henry Ellis. A mass of materials of very various value has been accumulated by Strype in his collections, which commence at this period.

CHAPTER I.

THE HOUSE OF YORK

1461—1485.

With the victory of Towton the war of the succession English came practically to an end. Though Margaret still freedom. struggled on the northern border and the treachery of Warwick for a while drove the new king from his realm, this gleam of returning fortune only brought a more fatal ruin on the House of Lancaster and seated the House of York more firmly on the throne. But the Wars of the Roses did far more than ruin one royal house or set up another. They found England, in the words of Commines, “among all the world's lordships of which I have knowledge, that where the public weal is best ordered, and where least violence reigns over the people.”. An English King—the shrewd observer noticed—“can undertake no enterprize of account without assembling his Parliament, which is a thing most wise and holy, and therefore are these kings stronger and better served” than the despotic sovereigns of the Continent. The English kingship, as a judge, Sir John Fortescue, could boast when writing at this time, was not an absolute but a limited monarchy; the land was not a land where the will of the prince was itself the law, but where the prince could neither make laws nor impose taxes save by his subjects' consent. At no time had Parliament played so constant and prominent a part in the government of the realm. At no time had the

14611485.

Roses.

CHAP. I. principles of constitutional liberty seemed so thoroughly

The understood and so dear to the people at large. The long House of Parliamentary contest between the Crown and the two

Houses since the days of Edward the First had firmly established the great securities of national liberty—the right of freedom from arbitrary taxation, from arbitrary legislation, from arbitrary imprisonment, and the responsibility of even the highest servants of the Crown to

Parliament and to the law. Results of But with the close of the struggle for the succession 18 of this liberty suddenly disappeared. If the Wars of the

Roses failed in utterly destroying English freedom, they succeeded in arresting its progress for more than a hundred years. With them we enter on an epoch of constitutional retrogression in which the slow work of the age that went before it was rapidly undone. From the accession of Edward the Fourth Parliamentary life was almost suspended, or was turned into a mere form by the overpowering influence of the Crown. The legislative powers of the two Houses were usurped by the royal Council. Arbitrary taxation reappeared in benevolences and forced loans. Personal liberty was almost extinguished by a formidable spy-system and by the constant practice of arbitrary imprisonment. Justice was degraded by the prodigal use of bills of attainder, by a wide extension of the judicial power of the royal Council, by the servility of judges, by the coercion of juries. So vast and sweeping was the change that to careless observers of a later day the constitutional monarchy of the Edwards and the Henries seemed suddenly to have transformed itself under the Tudors into a despotism as complete as the despotism of the Turk. Such a view is no doubt exaggerated and unjust. Bend and strain the law as he might, there never was a time when the most wilful of English rulers failed to own the restraints of law; and the obedience of the most servile among English subjects lay within bounds, at once political and religious, which no theory of King

The

1485,

worship could bring them to overpass. But even if we CHAP. I. make these reserves, the character of the monarchy from the days of Edward the Fourth to the days of Elizabeth House of remains something strange and isolated in our history. 1461It is hard to connect the kingship of the old English, the Norman, the Angevin, or the Plantagenet kings with the kingship of the House of York or of the House of Tudor.

The primary cause of this great change lay in the re- Neu: covery of its older strength by the Crown. Through the strength

of the last hundred and fifty years the monarchy had been ham- Crown pered by the pressure of the war. Through the last fifty it had been weakened by the insecurity of a disputed succession. It was to obtain supplies for the strife with Scotland and the strife with France that the earlier Plantagenets had been forced to yield to the ever-growing claims which were advanced by the Parliament. It was to win the consent of Parliament to its occupation of the throne and its support against every rival that the House of Lancaster bent yet more humbly to its demands. But with the loss of Guienne the war with France came virtually to an end. The war with Scotland died down into a series of border forays. The Wars of the Roses settled the question of the succession, first by the seeming extinction of the House of Lancaster, and then by the utter ruin of the House of York. The royal treasury was not only relieved from the drain which had left the crown at the mercy of the Third Estate; it was filled as it had never been filled before by the forfeitures and confiscations of the civil war. In the one bill of attainder which followed Towton twelve great nobles and more than a hundred knights and squires were stripped of their estates to the king's profit. Nearly a fifth of the land is said to have passed into the royal possession at one period or other of the civil strife. Edward the Fourth and Henry the Seventh not only possessed a power untrammelled by the difficulties which had beset the Crown since the days of Edward the First, but they

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