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Title: Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 9, Slice 5 - English History
Author: Various
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 9, Slice 5 - English History" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

Transcriber's notes:

(1) Characters following a carat (^) were printed in superscript.

(2) Side-notes were relocated to function as titles of their respective

(3) Macrons and breves above letters and dots below letters were not

(4) The following typographical errors have been corrected:

    ARTICLE ENGLISH HISTORY: "Though he disguised himself, he was
      detected by his old enemy and imprisoned." 'himself' amended from

    ARTICLE ENGLISH HISTORY: "Having so done they dispersed, not
      guessing that Lancaster had yielded so easily because he was set on
      undoing their work the moment that they were gone." 'Lancaster'
      amended from 'Lancester'.

    ARTICLE ENGLISH HISTORY: "... but purely and solely to attaint his
      brother, the duke of Clarence, whom he had resolved to destroy."
      'the duke' was missing.

    ARTICLE ENGLISH HISTORY: "... so as to appeal to the
      constituencies, which did not always share in the passions of their
      representatives." 'the' appeared twice.

    ARTICLE ENGLISH HISTORY: "The arrogant spirit of Englishmen made
      them contemptuous towards the colonists, and the desire to thrust
      taxation upon others than themselves made the new colonial
      legislation popular." 'contemptuous' amended from 'comtemptuous'.

    ARTICLE ENGLISH HISTORY: "... and was surprised by the Zulus while
      reconnoitering, created a deep and unfortunate impression."
      'reconnoitering' amended from 'reconnoitring'.



              ELEVENTH EDITION

             VOLUME IX, SLICE V

              English History



ENGLISH HISTORY.--The general account of English history which follows
should be supplemented for the earlier period by the article BRITAIN.


With the coming of Augustine to Kent the darkness which for nearly two
centuries had enwrapped the history of Britain begins to clear away.
From the days of Honorius to those of Gregory the Great the line of
vision of the annalists of the continent was bounded by the Channel. As
to what was going on beyond it, we have but a few casual gleams of
light, just enough to make the darkness visible, from writers such as
the author of the life of St Germanus, Prosper Tiro, Procopius, and
Gregory of Tours. These notices do not, for the most part, square
particularly well with the fragmentary British narrative that can be
patched together from Gildas's "lamentable book," or the confused story
of Nennius. Nor again do these British sources fit in happily with the
English annals constructed long centuries after by King Alfred's scribes
in the first edition of the _Anglo-Saxon Chronicle_. But from the date
when the long-lost communication between Britain and Rome was once more
resumed, the history of the island becomes clear and fairly continuous.
The gaps are neither broader nor more obscure than those which may be
found in the contemporary annals of the other kingdoms of Europe. The
stream of history in this period is narrow and turbid throughout the
West. Quite as much is known of the doings of the English as of those of
the Visigoths of Spain, the Lombards, or the later Merovingians. The 7th
century was the darkest of all the "dark ages," and England is
particularly fortunate in possessing the _Ecclesiastica historia_ of
Bede, which, though its author was primarily interested in things
religious, yet contains a copious chronicle of things secular. No
Western author, since the death of Gregory of Tours, wrote on such a
scale, or with such vigour and insight.

[Illustration: Map--Anglo-Saxon Britain 597-825.]

  Conversion of England.

The conversion of England to Christianity took, from first to last, some
ninety years (A.D. 597 to 686), though during the last thirty the
ancestral heathenism was only lingering on in remote comers of the land.
The original missionary impulse came from Rome, and Augustine is rightly
regarded as the evangelist of the English; yet only a comparatively
small part of the nation owed its Christianity directly to the mission
sent out by Pope Gregory. Wessex was won over by an independent
adventurer, the Frank Birinus, who had no connexion with the earlier
arrivals in Kent. The great kingdom of Northumbria, though its first
Christian monarch Edwin was converted by Paulinus, a disciple of
Augustine, relapsed into heathenism after his death. It was finally
evangelized from quite another quarter, by Irish missionaries brought by
King Oswald from Columba's monastery of Iona. The church that they
founded struck root, as that of Paulinus and Edwin had failed to do, and
was not wrecked even by Oswald's death in battle at the hands of Penda
the Mercian, the one strong champion of heathenism that England
produced. Moreover, Penda was no sooner dead, smitten down by Oswald's
brother Oswio at the battle of the Winwaed (A.D. 655), than his whole
kingdom eagerly accepted Christianity, and received missionaries, Irish
and Northumbrian, from the victorious Oswio. It is clear that, unlike
their king, the Mercians had no profound enthusiasm for the old gods.
Essex, which had received its first bishop from Augustine's hands but
had relapsed into heathenism after a few years, also owed its ultimate
conversion to a Northumbrian preacher, Cedd, whom Oswio lent to King
Sigeberht after the latter had visited his court and been baptized, hard
by the Roman wall, in 653.

Yet even in those English regions where the missionaries from Iona were
the founders of the Church, the representatives of Rome were to be its
organizers. In 664 the Northumbrian king Oswio, at the synod of Whitby,
declared his adhesion to the Roman connexion, whether it was that he saw
political advantage therein, or whether he realized the failings and
weaknesses of the Celtic church, and preferred the more orderly methods
of her rival. Five years later there arrived from Rome the great
organizer, Archbishop Theodore of Tarsus, who bound the hitherto
isolated churches of the English kingdoms into a well-compacted whole,
wherein the tribal bishops paid obedience to the metropolitan at
Canterbury, and met him frequently in national councils and synods.
England gained a spiritual unity long ere she attained a political
unity, for in these meetings, which were often attended by kings as well
as by prelates, Northumbrian, West Saxon and Mercian first learnt to
work together as brothers.

  The English church.

In a few years the English church became the pride of Western
Christendom. Not merely did it produce the great band of missionaries
who converted heathen Germany--Willibrord, Suidbert, Boniface and the
rest--but it excelled the other national churches in learning and
culture. It is but necessary to mention Bede and Alcuin. The first, as
has been already said, was the one true historian who wrote during the
dark time of the 7th-8th centuries; the second became the pride of the
court of Charles the Great for his unrivalled scholarship. At the coming
of Augustine England had been a barbarous country; a century and a half
later she was more than abreast of the civilization of the rest of

  Formation of the kingdoms.

But the progress toward national unity was still a slow one. The period
when the English kingdoms began to enter into the commonwealth of
Christendom, by receiving the missionaries sent out from Rome or from
Iona, practically coincides with the period in which the occupation of
central Britain was completed, and the kingdoms of the conquerors
assumed their final size and shape. Æthelfrith, the last heathen among
the Northumbrian kings, cut off the Britons of the North from those of
the West, by winning the battle of Chester (A.D. 613), and occupying the
land about the mouths of the Mersey and the Dee. Cenwalh, the last
monarch who ascended the throne of Wessex unbaptized, carried the
boundaries of that kingdom into Mid-Somersetshire, where they halted for
a long space. Penda, the last heathen king of Mercia, determined the
size and strength of that state, by absorbing into it the territories of
the other Anglian kingdoms of the Midlands, and probably also by
carrying forward its western border beyond the Severn. By the time when
the smallest and most barbarous of the Saxon states--Sussex--accepted
Christianity in the year 686, the political geography of England had
reached a stage from which it was not to vary in any marked degree for
some 200 years. Indeed, there was nothing accomplished in the way of
further encroachment on the Celt after 686, save Ine's and Cuthred's
extension of Wessex into the valleys of the Tone and the Exe, and Offa's
slight expansion of the Mercian frontier beyond the Severn, marked by
his famous dyke. The conquests of the Northumbrian kings in Cumbria were
ephemeral; what Oswio won was lost after the death of Ecgfrith.

  The "Bretwaldas."

That the conversion of the English to Christianity had anything to do
with their slackening from the work of conquest it would be wrong to
assert. Though their wars with the Welsh were not conducted with such
ferocious cruelty as of old, and though (as the laws of Ine show) the
Celtic inhabitants of newly-won districts were no longer exterminated,
but received as the king's subjects, yet the hatred between Welsh and
English did not cease because both were now Christians. The westward
advance of the invaders would have continued, if only there had remained
to attract them lands as desirable as those they had already won. But
the mountains of Wales and the moors of Cornwall and Cumbria did not
greatly tempt the settler. Moreover, the English states, which had
seldom turned their swords against each other in the 5th or the 6th
centuries, were engaged during the 7th and the 8th in those endless
struggles for supremacy which seem so purposeless, because the hegemony
which a king of energy and genius won for his kingdom always disappeared
with his death. The "Bretwaldaship," as the English seem to have called
it, was the most ephemeral of dignities. This was but natural: conquest
can only be enforced by the extermination of the conquered, or by their
consent to amalgamate with the conquerors, or by the garrisoning of the
land that has been subdued by settlers or by military posts. None of
these courses were possible to a king of the 7th or 8th centuries: even
in their heathen days the English were not wont to massacre their beaten
kinsmen as they massacred the unfortunate Celt. After their conversion
to Christianity the idea of exterminating other English tribes grew even
more impossible. On the other hand, local particularism was so strong
that the conquered would not, at first, consent to give up their natural
independence and merge themselves in the victors. Such amalgamations
became possible after a time, when many of the local royal lines died
out, and unifying influences, of which a common Christianity was the
most powerful, sapped the strength of tribal pride. But it is not till
the 9th century that we find this phenomenon growing general. A kingdom
like Kent or East Anglia, even after long subjection to a powerful
overlord, rose and reasserted its independence immediately on hearing of
his death. His successor had to attempt a new conquest, if he felt
himself strong enough. To garrison a district that had been overrun was
impossible: the military force of an English king consisted of his
military household of _gesiths_, backed by the general levy of the
tribe. The strength of Mercia or Northumbria might be mustered for a
single battle, but could not supply a standing army to hold down the
vanquished. The victorious king had to be content with tribute and
obedience, which would cease when he died, or was beaten by a competitor
for the position of Bretwalda.

  Supremacy of Northumbria.

  Supremacy of Mercia.

In the ceaseless strife between the old English kingdoms, therefore, it
was the personality of the king which was the main factor in determining
the hegemony of one state over another. If in the 7th century the
successive great Northumbrians--Edwin, Oswald, Oswio and Ecgfrith--were
reckoned the chief monarchs of England, and exercised a widespread
influence over the southern realms, yet each had to win his supremacy by
his own sword; and when Edwin and Oswald fell before the savage heathen
Penda, and Ecgfrith was cut off by the Picts, there was a gap of anarchy
before another king asserted his superior power. The same phenomenon
was seen with regard to the Mercian kings of the 8th century; the long
reigns of the two conquerors Æthelbald and Offa covered eighty years
(716-796), and it might have been supposed that after such a term of
supremacy Mercia would have remained permanently at the head of the
English kingdoms. It was not so, Æthelbald in his old age lost his
hegemony at the battle of Burford (752), and was murdered a few years
after by his own people. Offa had to win back by long wars what his
kinsman had lost; he became so powerful that we find the pope calling
him _Rex Anglorum_, as if he were the only king in the island. He
annexed Kent and East Anglia, overawed Northumbria and Wessex, both
hopelessly faction-ridden at the time, was treated almost as an equal by
the emperor Charles the Great, and died still at the height of his
power. Yet the moment that he was dead all his vassals revolted; his
successors could never recover all that was lost. Kent once more became
a kingdom, and two successive Mercian sovereigns, Beornwulf and Ludica,
fell in battle while vainly trying to recover Offa's supremacy over East
Anglia and Wessex.

  Supremacy of Wessex.

The ablest king in England in the generation that followed Offa was
Ecgbert of Wessex, who had long been an exile abroad, and served for
thirteen years as one of the captains of Charles the Great. He beat
Beornwulf of Mercia at Ellandune (A.D. 823), permanently annexed Kent,
to whose crown he had a claim by descent, in 829 received the homage of
all the other English kings, and was for the remainder of his life
reckoned as "Bretwalda." But it is wrong to call him, as some have done,
"the first monarch of all England." His power was no greater than that
of Oswio or Offa had been, and the supremacy might perhaps have tarried
with Wessex no longer than it had tarried with Northumbria or Mercia if
it had not chanced that the Danish raids were now beginning. For these
invasions, paradoxical as it may seem, were the greatest efficient cause
in the welding together of England. They seemed about to rend the land
in twain, but they really cured the English of their desperate
particularism, and drove all the tribes to take as their common rulers
the one great line of native kings which survived the Danish storm, and
maintained itself for four generations of desperate fighting against the
invaders. On the continent the main effect of the viking invasions was
to dash the empire of Charles the Great into fragments, and to aid in
producing the numberless petty states of feudal Europe. In this island
they did much to help the transformation of the mere Bretwaldaship of
Ecgbert into the monarchy of all England.

  Danish invasions.

Already ere Ecgbert ascended the throne of Kent the new enemy had made
his first tentative appearance on the British shore. It was in the reign
of Beorhtric, Ecgbert's predecessor, that the pirates of the famous
"three ships from Heretheland" had appeared on the coast of Dorset, and
slain the sheriff "who would fain have known what manner of men they
might be." A few years later another band appeared, rising unexpectedly
from the sea to sack the famous Northumbrian monastery of Lindisfarne
(793). After that their visits came fast and furious on the shore-line
of every English kingdom, and by the end of Ecgbert's reign it was they,
and not his former Welsh and Mercian enemies, who were the old monarch's
main source of trouble. But he brought his Bretwaldaship to a good end
by inflicting a crushing defeat on them at Hingston Down, hard by the
Tamar, probably in 836, and died ere the year was out, leaving the
ever-growing problem to his son Æthelwulf.

  Influence of viking sea-power.

The cause of the sudden outpouring of the Scandinavian deluge upon the
lands of Christendom at this particular date is one of the puzzles of
history. So far as memory ran, the peoples beyond the North Sea had been
seafaring races addicted to piracy. Even Tacitus mentions their fleets.
Yet since the 5th century they had been restricting their operations to
their own shores, and are barely heard of in the chronicles of their
southern neighbours. It seems most probable that the actual cause of
their sudden activity was the conquest of the Saxons by Charles the
Great, and his subsequent advance into the peninsula of Denmark. The
emperor seemed to be threatening the independence of the North, and in
terror and resentment the Scandinavian peoples turned first to strike at
the encroaching Frank, and soon after to assail the other Christian
kingdoms which lay behind, or on the flank of, the Empire. But their
offensive action proved so successful and so profitable that, after a
short time, the whole manhood of Denmark and Norway took to the pirate
life. Never since history first began to be recorded was there such a
supreme example of the potentialities of sea-power. Civilized Europe had
been caught at a moment when it was completely destitute of a war-navy;
the Franks had never been maritime in their tastes, the English seemed
to have forgotten their ancient seafaring habits. Though their ancestors
had been pirates as fierce as the vikings of the 9th century, and though
some of their later kings had led naval armaments--Edwin had annexed for
a moment Man and Anglesea, and Ecgfrith had cruelly ravaged part of
Ireland--yet by the year 800 they appear to have ceased to be a
seafaring race. Perhaps the long predominance of Mercia, an essentially
inland state, had something to do with the fact. At any rate England was
as helpless as the Empire when first the Danish and Norwegian galleys
began to cross the North Sea, and to beat down both sides of Britain
seeking for prey. The number of the invaders was not at first very
great; their fleets were not national armaments gathered by great kings,
but squadrons of a few vessels collected by some active and enterprising
adventurer. Their original tactics were merely to land suddenly near
some thriving seaport, or rich monastery, to sack it, and to take to the
water again before the local militia could turn out in force against
them. But such raids proved so profitable that the vikings soon began to
take greater things in hand; they began to ally themselves in
confederacies: two, six or a dozen "sea-kings" would join their forces
for something more than a desultory raid. With fifty or a hundred ships
they would fall upon some unhappy region, harry it for many miles
inland, and offer battle to the landsfolk unless the latter came out in
overpowering force. And as their crews were trained warriors chosen for
their high spirit, contending with a raw militia fresh from the plough,
they were generally successful. If the odds were too great they could
always retire to their ships, put to sea, and resume their predatory
operations on some other coast three hundred miles away. As long as
their enemies were unprovided with a navy they were safe from pursuit
and annihilation. The only chance against them was that, if caught too
far from the base-fort where they had run their galleys ashore, they
might find their communication with the sea cut off, and be forced to
fight for their lives surrounded by an infuriated countryside. But in
the earlier years of their struggles with Christendom the vikings seldom
suffered a complete disaster; they were often beaten but seldom
annihilated. Ere long they grew so bold that they would stay ashore for
months, braving the forces of a whole kingdom, and sheltering themselves
in great palisaded camps on peninsulas or islands when the enemy pressed
them too hard. On well-guarded strongholds like Thanet or Sheppey in
England, Noirmoutier at the Loire mouth, or the Isle of Walcheren, they
defied the local magnates to evict them. Finally they took to wintering
on the coast of England or the Empire, a preliminary to actual
settlement and conquest. (See VIKING.)

  Progress of Danish conquest.

King Ecgbert died long ere the invaders had reached this stage of
insolence. Æthelwulf, his weak and kindly son, would undoubtedly have
lost the titular supremacy of Wessex over the other English kingdoms if
there had been in Mercia or Northumbria a strong king with leisure to
concentrate his thoughts on domestic wars. But the vikings were now
showering such blows on the northern states that their unhappy monarchs
could think of nothing but self-defence. They slew Redulf--king of
Northumbria--in 844, took London in 851, despite all the efforts of
Burgred of Mercia, and forced that sovereign to make repeated appeals
for help to Æthelwulf as his overlord. For though Wessex had its full
share of Danish attacks it met them with a vigour that was not seen in
the other realms. The defence was often, if not always, successful; and
once at least (at Aclea in 851) Æthelwulf exterminated a whole Danish
army with "the greatest slaughter among the heathen host that had been
heard of down to that day," as the Anglo-Saxon chronicler is careful to
record. But though he might ward off blows from his own realm, he was
helpless to aid Mercia or East Anglia, and still more the distant

It was not, however, till after Æthelwulf's death that the attack of the
vikings developed its full strength. The fifteen years (856-871) that
were covered by the reigns of his three short-lived sons, Æthelbald,
Æthelbert and Æthelred, were the most miserable that England was to see.
Assembling in greater and ever greater confederacies, the Danes fell
upon the northern kingdoms, no longer merely to harry but to conquer and
occupy them. A league of many sea-kings which called itself the "great
army" slew the last two sovereigns of Northumbria and stormed York in
867. Some of the victors settled down there to lord it over the
half-exterminated English population. The rest continued their advance
southward. East Anglia was conquered in 870; its last king, Edmund,
having been defeated and taken prisoner, the vikings shot him to death
with arrows because he would not worship their gods. His realm was
annexed and partly settled by the conquerors. The fate of Mercia was
hardly better: its king, Burgred, by constant payment of tribute, bought
off the invaders for a space, but the eastern half of his realm was
reduced to a wilderness.

Practically masters of all that lay north of Thames, the "great army"
next moved against Wessex, the only quarter where a vigorous resistance
was still maintained against them, though its capital, Winchester, had
been sacked in 864. Under two kings named Halfdan and Bacsceg, and six
earls, they seized Reading and began to harry Berkshire, Surrey and
Hampshire. King Æthelred, the third son of Æthelwulf, came out against
them, with his young brother Alfred and all the levies of Wessex. In the
year 871 these two gallant kinsmen fought no less than six pitched
battles against the invaders. Some were victories--notably the fight of
Ashdown, where Alfred first won his name as a soldier--but the English
failed to capture the fortified camps of the vikings at Reading, and
were finally beaten at Marten ("Maeretun") near Bedwyn, where Æthelred
was mortally wounded.

  Alfred the Great.

He left young sons, but the men of Wessex crowned Alfred king, because
they needed a grown man to lead them in their desperate campaigning. Yet
his reign opened inauspiciously: defeated near Wilton, he offered in
despair to pay the vikings to depart. He must have known, from the
experience of Mercian, Northumbrian and Frankish kings, that such
blackmail only bought a short respite, but the condition of his realm
was such that even a moderate time for reorganization might prove
valuable. The enemy had suffered so much in the "year of the six
battles" that they held off for some space from Wessex, seeking easier
prey on the continent and in northern England. In 874 they harried
Mercia so cruelly that King Burgred fled in despair to Rome; the victors
divided up his realm, taking the eastern half for themselves, and
establishing in it a confederacy, whose jarls occupied the "five
boroughs" of Stamford, Lincoln, Derby, Nottingham and Leicester. But the
western half they handed over to "an unwise thegn named Ceolwulf," who
bought for a short space the precarious title of king by paying great

Alfred employed the four years of peace, which he had bought in 871, in
the endeavour to strengthen his realm against the inevitable return of
the raiders. His wisdom was shown by the fact that he concentrated his
attention on the one device which must evidently prove effective for
defence, if only he were given time to perfect it--the building of a
national navy. He began to lay down galleys and "long ships," and hired
"pirates"--renegade vikings no doubt--to train crews for him and to
teach his men seamanship. The scheme, however, was only partly completed
when in 876 three Danish kings entered Wessex and resumed the war. But
Alfred blockaded them first in Wareham and then in Exeter. The fleet
which was coming to carry them off, or to bring them reinforcements,
fought an indecisive engagement with the English ships, and was wrecked
immediately after on the cliffs of the Isle of Purbeck, where more than
100 galleys and all their crews perished. On hearing of this disaster
the vikings in Exeter surrendered the place on being granted a free

[Illustration: Map--England, 886, after Alfred & Guthrum's Peace.]

Yet within a few months of this successful campaign Alfred was attacked
at midwinter by the main Danish army under King Guthrum. He was
apparently taken by surprise by an assault at such an unusual time of
the year, and was forced to escape with his military household to the
isle of Athelney among the marshes of the Parrett. The invaders harried
Wiltshire and Hampshire at their leisure, and vainly thought that Wessex
was at last subdued. But with the spring the English rallied: a Danish
force was cut to pieces before Easter by the men of Devonshire. A few
weeks later Alfred had issued from Athelney, had collected a large army
in Selwood, and went out to meet the enemy in the open field. He beat
them at Edington in Wiltshire, blockaded them in their great camp at
Chippenham, and in fourteen days starved them into surrender. The terms
were that they should give hostages, that they should depart for ever
from Wessex, and that their king Guthrum should do homage to Alfred as
overlord, and submit to be baptized, with thirty of his chiefs. Not only
were all these conditions punctually fulfilled, but (what is more
astonishing) the Danes had been so thoroughly cured of any desire to try
their luck against the great king that they left him practically
unmolested for fourteen years (878-892). King Guthrum settled down as a
Christian sovereign in East Anglia, with the bulk of the host that had
capitulated at Chippenham. Of the rest of the invaders one section
established a petty kingdom in Yorkshire, but those in the Midlands were
subject to no common sovereign but lived in a loose confederacy under
the jarls of the "Five Boroughs" already named above. The boundary
between English and Danes established by the peace of 878 is not
perfectly ascertainable, but a document of a few years later, called
"Alfred and Guthrum's frith," gives the border as lying from Thames
northward up the Lea to its source, then across to Bedford, and then
along the Ouse to Watling Street, the old Roman road from London to
Chester. This gave King Alfred London and Middlesex, most of
Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire, and the larger half of Mercia--lands
that had never before been an integral part of Wessex, though they had
some time been tributary to her kings. They were now taken inside the
realm and governed by the ealdorman Æthelred, the king's son-in-law. The
Mercians gladly mingled with the West Saxons, and abandoned all memories
of ancient independence. Twenty years of schooling under the hand of the
Dane had taught them to forget old particularism.

Alfred's enlarged kingdom was far more powerful than any one of the
three new Danish states which lay beyond the Lea and Watling Street: it
was to be seen, ere another generation was out, that it was stronger
than all three together. But Alfred was not to see the happy day when
York and Lincoln, Colchester and Leicester, were to become mere
shire-capitals in the realm of United England.

  Alfred's reforms.

The fourteen years of comparative peace which he now enjoyed were
devoted to perfecting the military organization of his enlarged kingdom.
His fleet was reconstructed: in 882 he went out with it in person and
destroyed a small piratical squadron: in 885 we hear of it coasting all
along Danish East Anglia. But his navy was not yet strong enough to hold
off all raids: it was not till the very end of his reign that he
perfected it by building "long ships that were nigh twice as large as
those of the heathen; some had 60 oars, some more; and they were both
steadier and swifter and lighter than the others, and were shaped
neither after the Frisian nor after the Danish fashion, but as it seemed
to himself that they would be most handy." This great war fleet he left
as a legacy to his son, but he himself in his later campaigns had only
its first beginnings at his disposal.

His military reforms were no less important. Warned by the failures of
the English against Danish entrenched camps, he introduced the
long-neglected art of fortification, and built many "burhs"--stockaded
fortresses on mounds by the waterside--wherein dwelt permanent garrisons
of military settlers. It would seem that the system by which he
maintained them was that he assigned to each a region of which the
inhabitants were responsible for its manning and its sustentation. The
landowners had either to build a house within it for their own
inhabiting, or to provide that a competent substitute dwelt there to
represent them. These "burh-ware," or garrison-men, are repeatedly
mentioned in Alfred's later years. The old national levy of the "fyrd"
was made somewhat more serviceable by an ordinance which divided it into
two halves, one of which must take the field when the other was
dismissed. But it would seem that the king paid even more attention to
another military reform--the increase of the number of the professional
fighting class, the thegnhood as it was now called. All the wealthier
men, both in the countryside and in the towns, were required to take up
the duties as well as the privileges of membership of the military
household of the king. They became "of thegn-right worthy" by receiving,
really or nominally, a place in the royal hall, with the obligation to
take the field whenever their master raised his banner. The document
which defines their duties and privileges sets forth that "every ceorl
who throve so that he had fully five hides of land, and a helm, and a
mail-shirt, and a sword ornamented with gold, was to be reckoned
gesithcund." A second draft allowed the man who had the military
equipment complete, but not fully the five hides of land, to slip into
the list, and also "the merchant who has fared thrice over the high seas
at his own expense." How far the details of the scheme are Alfred's own,
how far they were developed by his son Edward the Elder, it is
unfortunately impossible to say. But there is small doubt that the
system was working to some extent in the later wars of the great king,
and that his successes were largely due to the fact that his army
contained a larger nucleus of fully armed warriors than those of his

Military reforms were only one section of the work of King Alfred during
the central years of his reign. It was then that he set afoot his
numerous schemes for the restoration of the learning and culture of
England which had sunk so low during the long years of disaster which
had preceded his accession. How he gathered scholars from the continent,
Wales and Ireland; how he collected the old heroic poems of the nation,
how he himself translated books from the Latin tongue, started schools,
and set his scribes to write up the _Anglo-Saxon Chronicle_, is told
elsewhere, as are his mechanical inventions, his buildings, and his
dealings with missionaries and explorers (see ALFRED).

The test of the efficiency of his work was that it held firm when, in
his later years, the Danish storm once more began to beat against the
shores of Wessex. In the years 892-896 Alfred was assailed from many
sides at once by viking fleets, of which the most important was that led
by the great freebooter Hasting. Moreover, the settled Danes of eastern
England broke their oaths and gave the invaders assistance. Yet the king
held his own, with perfect success if not with ease. The enemy was
checked, beaten off, followed up rapidly whenever he changed his base of
operation, and hunted repeatedly all across England. The campaigning
ranged from Appledore in Kent to Exeter, from Chester to Shoeburyness;
but wherever the invaders transferred themselves, either the king, or
his son Edward, or his son-in-law Ethelred, the ealdorman of Mercia, was
promptly at hand with a competent army. The camps of the Danes were
stormed, their fleet was destroyed in the river Lea in 895, and at last
the remnant broke up and dispersed, some to seek easier plunder in
France, others to settle down among their kinsmen in Northumbria or East

Alfred survived for four years after his final triumph in 896, to
complete the organization of his fleet and to repair the damages done by
the last four years of constant fighting. He died on the 26th of October
900, leaving Wessex well armed for the continuance of the struggle, and
the inhabitants of the "Danelagh" much broken in spirit. They saw that
it would never be in their power to subdue all England. Within a few
years they were to realize that it was more probable that the English
kings would subdue them.

  Edward the Elder.

The house of Wessex continued to supply a race of hard-fighting and
capable monarchs, who went on with Alfred's work. His son, Edward the
Elder, and his three grandsons, Æthelstan, Edmund and Edred, devoted
themselves for fifty-five years (A.D. 900-955) to the task of conquering
the Danelagh, and ended by making England into a single unified kingdom,
not by admitting the conquered to homage and tribute, in the old style
of the 7th century, but by their complete absorption. The process was
not so hard as might be thought; when once the Danes had settled down,
had brought over wives from their native land or taken them from among
their English vassals, had built themselves farmsteads and accumulated
flocks and herds, they lost their old advantage in contending with the
English. Their strength had been their mobility and their undisputed
command of the sea. But now they had possessions of their own to defend,
and could not raid at large in Wessex or Mercia without exposing their
homes to similar molestation. Moreover, the fleet which Alfred had
built, and which his successors kept up, disputed their mastery of the
sea, and ended by achieving a clear superiority over them. Unity of plan
and unity of command was also on the side of the English. The
inhabitants of the three sections of the Danelagh were at best leagued
in a many-headed confederacy. Their opponents were led by kings whose
orders were punctually obeyed from Shrewsbury to Dover and from London
to Exeter. It must also be remembered that in the greater part of the
land which they possessed the Danes were but a small minority of the
population. After their first fury was spent they no longer exterminated
the conquered, but had been content to make the Mercians and Deirans
their subjects, to take the best of the land, and exact tribute for the
rest. Only in Lincolnshire, East Yorkshire and parts of Nottinghamshire
and Leicestershire do they seem to have settled thickly and formed a
preponderating element in the countryside. In the rest of the Midlands
and in East Anglia they were only a governing oligarchy of scanty
numbers. Everywhere there was an English lower class which welcomed the
advent of the conquering kings of Wessex and the fall of the Danish

Edward the Elder spent twenty-five laborious years first in repelling
and repaying Danish raids, then in setting to work to subdue the
raiders. He worked forward into the Danelagh, building _burhs_ as he
advanced, to hold down each district that he won. He was helped by his
brother-in-law, the Mercian ealdorman Æthelred, and, after the death of
that magnate, by his warlike sister Æthelflæd, the ealdorman's widow,
who was continued in her husband's place. While Edward, with London as
his base, pushed forward into the eastern counties, his sister, starting
from Warwick and Stafford, encroached on the Danelagh along the line of
the Trent. The last Danish king of East Anglia was slain in battle in
918, and his realm annexed. Æthelflæd won Derby and Leicester, while her
brother reduced Stamford and Nottingham. Finally, in 921, not only was
the whole land south of the Humber subdued, but the Yorkshire Danes, the
Welsh, and even--it is said--the remote Scots of the North, did homage
to Edward and became his men.


In 925 Edward was succeeded by his eldest, son Æthelstan, who completed
the reduction of the Danelagh by driving out Guthfrith, the Danish king
of York, and annexing his realm. But this first conquest of the region
beyond Humber had to be repeated over and over again; time after time
the Danes rebelled and proclaimed a new king, aided sometimes by bands
of their kinsmen from Ireland or Norway, sometimes by the Scots and
Strathclyde Welsh. Æthelstan's greatest and best-remembered achievement
was his decisive victory in 937 at Brunanburh--an unknown spot, probably
by the Solway Firth or the Ribble--over a great confederacy of rebel
Danes of Yorkshire, Irish Danes from Dublin, the Scottish king,
Constantine, and Eugenius, king of Strathclyde. Yet even after such a
triumph Æthelstan had to set up a Danish under-king in Yorkshire,
apparently despairing of holding it down as a shire governed by a mere
ealdorman. But its overlordship he never lost, and since he also
maintained the supremacy which his father had won over the Welsh and
Scots, it was not without reason that he called himself on his coins and
in his charters _Rex totius Britanniae_. Occasionally he even used the
title _Basileus_, as if he claimed a quasi-imperial position.

  Edmund: Edred.

The trampling out of the last embers of Danish particularism in the
North was reserved for Æthelstan's brothers and successors, Edmund and
Edred (940-955), who put down several risings of the Yorkshiremen, one
of which was aided by a rebellion of the Midland Danes of the Five
Boroughs. But the untiring perseverance of the house of Alfred was at
last rewarded by success. After the expulsion of the last rebel king of
York, Eric Haraldson, by Edred in 948, we cease to hear of trouble in
the North. When next there was rebellion in that quarter it was in
favour of a Wessex prince, not of a Danish adventurer, and had no
sinister national significance. The descendants of the vikings were
easily incorporated in the English race, all the more so because of the
wise policy of the conquering kings, who readily employed and often
promoted to high station men of Danish descent who showed themselves
loyal--and this not only in the secular but in spiritual offices. In 942
Oda, a full-blooded Dane, was made archbishop of Canterbury. The
Danelagh became a group of earldoms, ruled by officials who were as
often of Danish as of English descent.

It is notable that when, after Edred's death, there was civil strife,
owing to the quarrel of his nephew Edwy with some of his kinsmen,
ministers and bishops, the rebels, who included the majority of the
Mercians and Northumbrians, set up as their pretender to the throne not
a Dane but Edwy's younger brother Edgar, who ruled for a short time
north of Thames, and became sole monarch on the death of his unfortunate


The reign of Edgar (959-975) saw the culmination of the power of the
house of Alfred. It was untroubled by rebellion or by foreign
invasions, so that the king won the honourable title of _Rex Pacificus_.
The minor sovereigns of Britain owned him as overlord, as they had owned
his grandfather Edward and his uncle Æthelstan. It was long remembered
"how all the kings of this island, both the Welsh and the Scots, eight
kings, came to him once upon a time on one day and all bowed to his
governance." The eight were Kenneth of Scotland, Malcolm of Strathclyde,
Maccus of Man, and five Welsh kings. There is fair authority for the
well-known legend that, after this meeting at Chester, he was rowed in
his barge down the Dee by these potentates, such a crew as never was
seen before or after, and afterwards exclaimed that those who followed
him might now truly boast that they were kings of all Britain.

Edgar's chief counsellor was the famous archbishop Dunstan, to whom no
small part of the glory of his reign has been ascribed. This great
prelate was an ecclesiastical reformer--a leader in a movement for the
general purification of morals, and especially for the repressing of
simony and evil-living among the clergy--a great builder of churches,
and a stringent enforcer of the rules of the monastic life. But he was
also a busy statesman; he probably had a share in the considerable body
of legislation which was enacted in Edgar's reign, and is said to have
encouraged him in his policy of treating Dane and Englishman with exact
equality, and of investing the one no less than the other with the
highest offices in church and state.

Edgar's life was too short for the welfare of his people--he was only in
his thirty-third year when he died in 975, and his sons were young boys.
The hand of a strong man was still needed to keep the peace in the
newly-constituted realm of all England, and the evils of a minority were
not long in showing themselves. One section of the magnates had
possession of the thirteen-year-old king Edward, and used his name to
cover their ambitions. The other was led by his step-mother Ælfthryth,
who was set on pushing the claims of her son, the child Æthelred. After
much factious strife, and many stormy meetings of the Witan, Edward was
murdered at Corfe in 978 by some thegns of the party of the
queen-dowager. The crime provoked universal indignation, but since there
was no other prince of the house of Alfred available, the magnates were
forced to place Æthelred on the throne: he was only in his eleventh
year, and was at least personally innocent of complicity in his
brother's death.

  Æthelred the Unready.

  Danish invasions.

With the accession of Æthelred, the "Redeless," as he was afterwards
called from his inability to discern good counsel from evil, and the
consistent incapacity of his policy, an evil time began. The retirement
from public life of Edgar's old minister Dunstan was the first event of
the new reign, and no man of capacity came forward to take his place.
The factions which had prevailed during the reign of Edward "the Martyr"
seem to have continued to rage during his brother's minority, yet
Æthelred's earliest years were his least disastrous. It was hoped that
when he came to man's estate things would improve, but the reverse was
the case. The first personal action recorded of him is an unjust
harrying of the goods of his own subjects, when he besieged Rochester
because he had quarrelled with its bishop over certain lands, and was
bribed to depart with 100 pounds of silver. Yet from 978 to 991 no
irreparable harm came to England; the machinery for government and
defence which his ancestors had established seemed fairly competent to
defend the realm even under a wayward and incapable king. Two or three
small descents of vikings are recorded, but the ravaging was purely
local, and the invader soon departed. No trouble occurred in the
Danelagh, where the old tendency of the inhabitants to take sides with
their pagan kinsmen from over the sea appears to have completely
vanished. But the vikings had apparently learnt by small experiments
that England was no longer guarded as she had been in the days of Alfred
or Æthelstan, and in 991 the first serious invasion of Æthelred's reign
took place. A large fleet came ashore in Essex, and, after a hard fight
with the ealdorman Brihtnoth at Maldon, slew him and began to ravage the
district north of the Thames. Instead of making a desperate attempt to
drive them off, the king bribed them to depart with 10,000 pounds of
silver, accepting it is said this cowardly advice from archbishop
Sigeric. The fatal precedent soon bore fruit: the invaders came back in
larger numbers, headed by Olaf Tryggveson, the celebrated adventurer who
afterwards made himself king of Norway, and who was already a pretender
to its throne. He was helped by Sweyn, king of Denmark, and the two
together laid siege to London in 994, but were beaten off by the
citizens. Nevertheless Æthelred for a second time stooped to pay
tribute, and bought the departure of Dane and Norwegian with 16,000
pounds of silver. There was a precarious interval of peace for three
years after, but in 997 began a series of invasions led by Sweyn which
lasted for seventeen years, and at last ended in the complete subjection
of England and the flight of Æthelred to Normandy. It should be noted
that the invader during this period was no mere adventurer, but king of
all Denmark, and, after Olaf Tryggveson's death in 1000, king of Norway
also. His power was something far greater than that of the Guthrums and
Anlafs of an earlier generation, and--in the end of his life at
least--he was aiming at political conquest, and not either at mere
plunder or at finding new settlements for his followers. But if the
strength of the invader was greater than that of his predecessors,
Æthelred also was far better equipped for war than his ancestors of the
9th century. He owned, and he sometimes used--but always to little
profit--a large fleet, while all England instead of the mere realm of
Wessex was at his back. Any one of the great princes of the house of
Egbert who had reigned from 871 to 975, would have fought a winning
fight with such resources, and it took nearly twenty years of Æthelred's
tried incapacity to lose the game. He did, however, succeed in undoing
all the work of his ancestors, partly by his own slackness and sloth,
partly by his choice of corrupt and treacherous ministers. For the two
ealdormen whom he delighted to honour and placed at the head of his
armies, Ælfric and Eadric Streona, are accused, the one of persistent
cowardice, the other of underhand intrigue with the Danes. Some of the
local magnates made a desperate defence of their own regions, especially
Ulfkytel of East Anglia, a Dane by descent; but the central government
was at fault. Æthelred's army was always at the wrong place--"if the
enemy were east then was the _fyrd_ held west, and if they were north
then was our force held south." When Æthelred did appear it was more
often to pay a bribe to the invaders than to fight. Indeed the
_Danegeld_, the tax which he raised to furnish tribute to the invaders,
became a regular institution: on six occasions at least Æthelred bought
a few months of peace by sums ranging from 10,000 to 48,000 pounds of


At last in the winter of 1013-1014, more as it would seem from sheer
disgust at their king's cowardice and incompetence than because further
resistance was impossible, the English gave up the struggle and
acknowledged Sweyn as king. First Northumbria, then Wessex, then London
yielded, and Æthelred was forced to fly over seas to Richard, duke of
Normandy, whose sister he had married as his second wife. But Sweyn
survived his triumph little over a month; he died suddenly at
Gainsborough on the 3rd of February 1014. The Danes hailed his son
Canute, a lad of eighteen, as king, but many of the English, though they
had submitted to a hard-handed conqueror like Sweyn, were not prepared
to be handed over like slaves to his untried successor. There was a
general rising, the old king was brought over from Normandy, and Canute
was driven out for a moment by force of arms. He returned next year with
a greater army to hear soon after of Æthelred's death (1016). The witan
chose Edmund "Ironside," the late king's eldest son, to succeed him, and
as he was a hard-fighting prince of that normal type of his house to
which his father had been such a disgraceful exception, it seemed
probable that the Danes might be beaten off. But Æthelred's favourite
Eadric Streona adhered to Canute, fearing to lose the office and power
that he had enjoyed for so long under Æthelred, and prevailed on the
magnates of part of Wessex and Mercia to follow his example. For a
moment the curious phenomenon was seen of Canute reigning in Wessex,
while Edmund was making head against him with the aid of the Anglo-Danes
of the "Five Boroughs" and Northumbria. There followed a year of
desperate struggle: the two young kings fought five pitched battles,
fortune seemed to favour Edmund, and the traitor Eadric submitted to him
with all Wessex. But the last engagement, at Assandun (Ashingdon) in
Essex went against the English, mainly because Eadric again betrayed the
national cause and deserted to the enemy.

Edmund was so hard hit by this last disaster that he offered to divide
the realm with Canute; they met on the isle of Alney near Gloucester,
and agreed that the son of Æthelred should keep Wessex and all the
South, London and East Anglia, while the Dane should have Northumbria,
the "five boroughs" and Eadric's Mercian earldom. But ere the year was
out Edmund died: secretly murdered, according to some authorities, by
the infamous Eadric. The witan of Wessex made no attempt to set on the
throne either one of the younger sons of Æthelred by his Norman wife, or
the infant heir of Edmund, but chose Canute as king, preferring to
reunite England by submission to the stranger rather than to continue
the disastrous war.

They were wise in so doing, though their motive may have been despair
rather than long-sighted policy. Canute became more of an Englishman
than a Dane: he spent more of his time in his island realm than in his
native Denmark. He paid off and sent home the great army with whose aid
he had won the English crown, retaining only a small bodyguard of
"house-carls" and trusting to the loyalty of his new subjects. There was
no confiscation of lands for the benefit of intrusive Danish settlers.
On the contrary Canute had more English than Danish courtiers and
ministers about his person, and sent many Englishmen as bishops and some
even as royal officers to Denmark. It is strange to find that--whether
from policy or from affection--he married King Æthelred's young widow
Emma of Normandy, though she was somewhat older than himself--so that
his son King Harthacnut and that son's successor Edward the Confessor,
the heir of the line of Wessex, were half-brothers. It might have been
thought likely that the son of the pagan Sweyn would have turned out a
mere hard-fighting viking. But Canute developed into a great
administrator and a friend of learning and culture. Occasionally he
committed a harsh and tyrannical act. Though he need not be blamed for
making a prompt end of the traitor Eadric Streona and of Uhtred, the
turbulent earl of Northumbria, at the commencement of his reign, there
are other and less justifiable deeds of blood to be laid to his account.
But they were but few; for the most part his administration was just and
wise as well as strong and intelligent.

As long as he lived England was the centre of a great Northern empire,
for Canute reconquered Norway, which had lapsed into independence after
his father's death, and extended his power into the Baltic. Moreover,
all the so-called Scandinavian colonists in the Northern Isles and
Ireland owned him as overlord. So did the Scottish king Malcolm, and the
princes of Wales and Strathclyde. The one weak point in his policy that
can be detected is that he left in the hands of Malcolm the Bernician
district of Lothian, which the Scot had conquered during the anarchy
that followed the death of Æthelred. The battle of Carham (1018) had
given this land to the Scots, and Canute consented to draw the border
line of England at the Tweed instead of at the Firth of Forth, when
Malcolm did him homage. Strangely enough it was this cession of a
Northumbrian earldom to the Northern king that ultimately made Scotland
an English-speaking country. For the Scottish kings, deserting their
native Highlands, took to dwelling at Edinburgh among their new
subjects, and first the court and afterwards the whole of their Lowland
subjects were gradually assimilated to the Northumbrian nucleus which
formed both the most fertile and the most civilized portion of their
enlarged realm.

The fact, that England recovered with marvellous rapidity from the evil
effects of Æthelred's disastrous reign, and achieved great wealth and
prosperity under Canute, would seem to show that the ravages of Sweyn,
widespread and ruthless though they had been, had yet fallen short of
the devastating completeness of those of the earlier vikings. He had
been more set on exacting tribute than on perpetrating wanton massacres.
A few years of peace and wise administration seem to have restored the
realm to a satisfactory condition. A considerable mass of his
legislation has survived to show Canute's care for law and order.

Canute died in 1035, aged not more than forty or forty-one. The crown
was disputed between his two sons, the half-brothers Harold and
Harthacnut; it was doubtful whether the birth of the elder prince was
legitimate, and Queen Emma strove to get her own son Harthacnut
preferred to him. In Denmark the younger claimant was acknowledged by
the whole people, but in England the Mercian and Northumbrian earls
chose Harold as king, and Wessex only fell to Harthacnut. Both the young
kings were cruel, dissolute and wayward, most unworthy sons of a wise
father. It was to the great profit of England that they died within two
years of each other, the elder in 1040, the younger in 1042.

  Edward the Confessor.


On Harthacnut's death he was succeeded not by any Danish prince but by
his half-brother Edward, the elder son of Æthelred and Emma, whom he had
entertained at his court, and had apparently designated as his heir, for
he had no offspring. There was an end of the empire of Canute, for
Denmark fell to the great king's nephew, Sweyn Estrithson, and Norway
had thrown off the Danish yoke. Engaged in wars with each other, Dane
and Norseman had no leisure to think of reconquering England. Hence
Edward's accession took place without any friction. He reigned, but did
not rule, for twenty-four years, though he was well on in middle age
before he was crowned. Of all the descendants of Alfred he was the only
one who lived to see his sixtieth birthday--the house of Wessex were a
short-lived race. In character he differed from all his ancestors--he
had Alfred's piety without his capacity, and Æthelred's weakness without
his vices. The mildest of men, a crowned monk, who let slip the reins of
government from his hands while he busied himself in prayer and church
building, he lowered the kingly power to a depth to which it had never
sunk before in England. His sole positive quality, over and above his
piety, was a love for his mother's kin, the Normans. He had spent his
whole life from 1013 to 1040 as an exile at the court of Rouen, and was
far more of a Norman than an Englishman. It was but natural, therefore,
that he should invite his continental relatives and the friends of his
youth to share in his late-coming prosperity. But when he filled his
court with them, made them earls and bishops, and appointed one of them,
Robert of Jumièges, to the archbishopric of Canterbury, his undisguised
preference for strangers gave no small offence to his English subjects.
In the main, however, the king's personal likes and dislikes mattered
little to the realm, since he had a comparatively small share in its
governance. He was habitually overruled and dominated by his earls, of
whom three, Leofric, Godwine and Siward--all old servants of Canute--had
far more power than their master. Holding respectively the great
earldoms of West Mercia, Wessex and Northumbria, they reigned almost
like petty sovereigns in their domains, and there seemed some chance
that England might fall apart into semi-independent feudal states, just
as France had done in the preceding century. The rivalries and intrigues
of these three magnates constitute the main part of the domestic
politics of Edward's reign. Godwine, whose daughter had wedded the king,
was the most forcible and ambitious of the three, but his pre-eminence
provoked a general league against him and in 1051 he was cast out of the
kingdom with his sons. In the next year he returned in arms, raised
Wessex in revolt, and compelled the king to in-law him again, to restore
his earldom, and to dismiss with ignominy the Norman favourites who were
hunted over seas. The old earl died in 1053, but was succeeded in power
by his son Harold, who for thirteen years maintained an unbroken mastery
over the king, and ruled England almost with the power of a regent.
There seems little doubt that he aspired to be Edward's successor: there
was no direct heir to the crown, and the nearest of kin was ah infant,
Edgar, the great-nephew of the reigning sovereign and grandson of
Edmund Ironside. England's experience of minors on the throne had been
unhappy--Edwy and Æthelred the Redeless were warnings rather than
examples. Moreover, Harold had before his eye as a precedent the
displacement of the effete Carolingian line in France, by the new house
of Robert the Strong and Hugh Capet, seventy years before. He prepared
for the crisis that must come at the death of Edward the Confessor by
bestowing the governance of several earldoms upon his brothers.
Unfortunately for him, however, the eldest of them, Tostig, proved the
greatest hindrance to his plans, provoking wrath and opposition wherever
he went by his high-handedness and cruelty.

Harold's governance of the realm seems to have been on the whole
successful. He put down the Scottish usurper Macbeth with the swords of
a Northumbrian army, and restored Malcolm III. to the throne of that
kingdom (1055-1058). He led an army into the heart of Wales to punish
the raids of King Griffith ap Llewelyn, and harried the Welsh so
bitterly that they put their leader to death, and renewed their homage
to the English crown (1063). He won enthusiastic devotion from the men
of Wessex and the South, but in Northumbria and Mercia he was less
liked. His experiment in taking the rule of these earldoms out of the
hands of the descendants of Siward and Leofric proved so unsuccessful
that he had to resign himself to undoing it. Ultimately one of Leofric's
grandsons, Edwin, was left as earl of Mercia, and the other, Morcar,
became earl of Northumbria instead of Harold's unpopular brother Tostig.
It was on this fact that the fortune of England was to turn, for in the
hour of crisis Harold was to be betrayed by the lords of the Midlands
and the North.

  Origin of the Norman Conquest.

Somewhere about the end of his period of ascendancy, perhaps in 1064,
Harold was sailing in the Channel when his ship was driven ashore by a
tempest near the mouth of the Somme. He fell into the hands of William
the Bastard, duke of Normandy, King Edward's cousin and best-loved
relative. The duke brought him to Rouen, and kept him in a kind of
honourable captivity till he had extorted a strange pledge from him.
William alleged that his cousin had promised to make him his heir, and
to recommend him to the witan as king of England. He demanded that
Harold should swear to aid him in the project. Fearing for his personal
safety, the earl gave the required oath, and sailed home a perjured man,
for he had assuredly no intention of keeping the promise that had been
extorted from him. Within two years King Edward expired (Jan. 5, 1066)
after having recommended Harold as his successor to the thegns and
bishops who stood about his death-bed. The witan chose the earl as king
without any show of doubt, though the assent of the Mercian and
Northumbrian earls must have been half-hearted. Not a word was said in
favour of the claim of the child Edgar, the heir of the house of Alfred,
nothing (of course) for the preposterous claim of William of Normandy.
Harold accepted the crown without a moment's hesitation, and at once
prepared to defend it, for he was aware that the Norman would fight to
gain his purpose. He endeavoured to conciliate Edwin and Morcar by
marrying their sister Ealdgyth, and trusted that he had bought their
loyal support. When the spring came round it was known that William had
begun to collect a great fleet and army. Aware that the resources of his
own duchy were inadequate to the conquest of England, he sent all over
Europe to hire mercenaries, promising every knight who would join him
broad lands beyond the Channel in the event of victory. He gathered
beneath his banner thousands of adventurers not only from France,
Brittany and Flanders, but even from distant regions such as Aragon,
Apulia and Germany. The native Normans were but a third part of his
host, and he himself commanded rather as director of a great joint-stock
venture than as the feudal chief of his own duchy. He also obtained the
blessing of Pope Alexander II. for his enterprise, partly on the plea
that Harold was a perjurer, partly because Stigand, the archbishop of
Canterbury, had acknowledged the late anti-pope Benedict.

All through the summer Harold held a fleet concentrated under the lee
of the Isle of Wight, waiting to intercept William's armament, while the
fyrd of Wessex was ready to support him if the enemy should succeed in
making a landing. By September the provisions were spent, and the ships
were growing unseaworthy. Very reluctantly the king bade them go round
to London to refit and revictual themselves. William meanwhile had been
unable to sail, because for many weeks the wind had been unfavourable.
If it had set from the south the fortune of England would have been
settled by a sea-fight. At this moment came a sudden and incalculable
diversion; Harold's turbulent brother Tostig, banished for his crimes in
1065, was seeking revenge. He had persuaded Harold Hardrada, king of
Norway, almost the last of the great viking adventurers, to take him as
guide for a raid on England. They ran into the Humber with a great
fleet, beat the earls Edwin and Morcar in battle, and captured York.
Abandoning his watch on the south coast Harold of England flew northward
to meet the invaders; he surprised them at Stamford Bridge, slew both
the Norse king and the rebel earl, and almost exterminated their army
(Sept. 25? 1066). But while he was absent from the Channel the wind
turned, and William of Normandy put to sea. The English fleet and the
English army were both absent, and the Normans came safely to shore on
the 28th of September. Harold had to turn hastily southward to meet
them. On the 13th of October his host was arrayed on the hill of Senlac,
7 miles from the duke's camp at Hastings. The ranks of his thegnhood and
house-carles had been thinned by the slaughter of Stamford Bridge, and
their place was but indifferently supplied by the hasty levies of
London, Wessex and the Home Counties. Edwin and Morcar, who should have
been at his side with their Mercians and Northumbrians, were still far
away--probably from treachery, slackness and jealousy.

Next morning (October 14) William marched out from Hastings and attacked
the English host, which stood at bay in a solid mass of spear and axemen
behind a slight breastwork on the hillside. After six hours of desperate
fighting the victory fell to the duke, who skilfully alternated the use
of archers and cavalry against the unwieldy English phalanx. (See
HASTINGS: _Battle of_.) The disaster was complete, Harold himself was
slain, his two brothers had fallen with him, not even the wreck of an
army escaped. There was no one to rally the English in the name of the
house of Godwine. The witan met and hastily saluted the child Edgar
Ætheling as king. But the earls Edwin and Morcar refused to fight for
him, and when William appeared in front of the gates of London they were
opened almost without resistance. He was elected king in the old English
fashion by the surviving magnates, and crowned on Christmas Day 1066.


  William the Conqueror.

When William of Normandy was crowned at Westminster by Archbishop Aldred
of York and acknowledged as king by the witan, it is certain that few
Englishmen understood the full importance of the occasion. It is
probable that most men recalled the election of Canute, and supposed
that the accession of the one alien sovereign would have no more
permanent effect on the realm than that of the other. The rule of the
Danish king and his two short-lived sons had caused no break in the
social or constitutional history of England. Canute had become an
Englishman, had accepted all the old institutions of the nation, had
dismissed his host of vikings, and had ruled like a native king and for
the most part with native ministers. Within twenty years of his
accession the disasters and calamities which had preceded his triumph
had been forgotten, and the national life was running quietly in its old
channels. But the accession of William the Bastard meant something very
different. Canute had been an impressionable lad of eighteen or nineteen
when he was crowned; he was ready and eager to learn and to forget. He
had found himself confronted in England with a higher civilization and a
more advanced social organization than those which he had known in his
boyhood, and he accepted them with alacrity, feeling that he was thereby
getting advantage. With William the Norman all was different: he was a
man well on in middle age, too old to adapt himself easily to new
surroundings, even if he had been willing to do so. He never even learnt
the language of his English subjects, the first step to comprehending
their needs and their views. Moreover, unlike his Danish predecessor, he
looked down upon the English from the plane of a higher civilization;
the Normans regarded the conquered nation as barbarous and boorish. The
difference in customs and culture between the dwellers on the two sides
of the Channel was sufficient to make this possible; though it is hard
to discern any adequate justification for the Norman attitude. Probably
the bar of language was the most prominent cause of estrangement. In
five generations the viking settlers of Normandy had not only completely
forgotten their old Scandinavian tongue, but had come to look upon those
who spoke the kindred English idiom not only as aliens but as inferiors.
For three centuries French remained the court speech, and the mark of
civilization and gentility.

  Progress of Norman Settlement.

Despite all this the Conquest would not have had its actual results if
William, like Canute, had been able to dismiss his conquering army, and
to refrain from a general policy of confiscation. But he had won his
crown not as duke of Normandy, but as the head of a band of cosmopolitan
adventurers, who had to be rewarded with land in England. Some few
received their pay in hard cash, and went off to other wars; but the
large majority, Breton and Angevin, French and Fleming, no less than
Norman, wanted land. William could only provide it by a wholesale
confiscation of the estates of all the thegnhood who had followed the
house of Godwine. Almost his first act was to seize on these lands, and
to distribute them among his followers. In the regions of the South,
which had supplied the army that fell at Hastings, at least four-fifths
of the soil passed to new masters. The dispossessed heirs of the old
owners had either to sink to the condition of peasants, or to throw
themselves upon the world and seek new homes. The friction and hatred
thus caused were bitter and long enduring. And this same system of
confiscation was gradually extended to the rest of England. At first the
English landowners who had not actually served in Harold's host were
permitted to "buy back their lands," by paying a heavy fine to the new
king and doing him homage. What would have happened supposing that
England had made no further stir, and had not vexed William by
rebellion, it is impossible to say. But, as a matter of fact, during the
first few years of his reign one district after another took up arms and
endeavoured to cast out the stranger. As it became gradually evident
that William's whole system of government was to be on new and
distasteful lines, the English of the Midlands, the North and the West
all went into rebellion. The risings were sporadic, ill-organized, badly
led, for each section of the realm fought for its own hand. In some
parts the insurrections were in favour of the sons of Harold, in others
Edgar Ætheling was acclaimed as king: and while the unwise earls Edwin
and Morcar fought for their own hand, the Anglo-Danes of the East sent
for Sweyn, king of Denmark, who proved of small help, for he abode but a
short space in England, and went off after sacking the great abbey of
Peterborough and committing other outrages. The rebels cut up several
Norman garrisons, and gave King William much trouble for some years, but
they could never face him in battle. Their last stronghold, the
marsh-fortress of Ely, surrendered in 1071, and not long after their
most stubborn chief, Hereward "the Wake," the leader of the fenmen, laid
down his arms and became King William's man (see HEREWARD).

The only result of the long series of insurrections was to provoke the
king to a cruelty which he had not at first shown, and to give him an
excuse for confiscating and dividing among his foreign knights and
barons the immense majority of the estates of the English thegnhood.
William could be pitiless when provoked; to punish the men of the North
for persistent rebellion and the destruction of his garrison at York, he
harried the whole countryside from the Aire to the Tees with such
remorseless ferocity that it did not recover its ancient prosperity for
centuries. The population was absolutely exterminated, and the great
Domesday survey, made nearly twenty years later, shows the greater part
of Yorkshire as "waste." This act was exceptional only in its extent:
the king was as cruel on a smaller scale elsewhere, and not contented
with the liberal use of the axe and the rope was wont to inflict his
favourite punishments of blinding and mutilation on a most reckless

The net result of the king's revenge on the rebellious English was that
by 1075 the old governing class had almost entirely disappeared, and
that their lands, from the Channel to the Tweed, had everywhere been
distributed to new holders. To a great extent the same horde of
continental adventurers who had obtained the first batch of grants in
Wessex and Kent were also the recipients of the later confiscations, so
that their newly acquired estates were scattered all over England. Many
of them came to own land in ten or a dozen counties remote from each
other, a fact which was of the greatest importance in determining the
character of English feudalism. While abroad the great vassals of the
crown generally held their property in compact blocks, in England their
power was weakened by the dispersion of their lands. This tendency was
assisted by the fact that even when the king, as was his custom,
transferred to a Norman the estates of an English landowner just as they
stood, those estates were already for the most part not conterminous.
Even before the Conquest the lands of the magnates were to a large
extent held in scattered units, not in solid patches. Only in two cases
did William establish lordships of compact strength, and these were
created for the special purpose of guarding the turbulent Welsh March.
The "palatine" earls of Chester and Shrewsbury were not only endowed
with special powers and rights of jurisdiction, but were almost the only
tenants-in-chief within their respective shires. These rare exceptions
prove the general rule: William probably foresaw the dangers of such
accumulation of territory in private hands. He made a complete end of
the old English system by which great earls ruled many shires: there
were to be no Godwines or Leofrics under the Norman rule. This
particular feudal danger was avoided: where earls were created, and they
were but few, their authority was usually restricted to a single shire.


It remains to speak of the most important change which William's
rearrangements made in the polity of England. It is of course untrue to
say--as was so often done by early historians--that he "introduced the
feudal system into England." In some aspects feudalism was already in
the land before he arrived: in others it may be said that it was never
introduced at all. He did not introduce the practice by which the small
man commended himself to the great man, and in return for his protection
divested himself of the full ownership of his own land, and became a
customary tenant in what later ages called a "manor." That system was
already in full operation in England before the Conquest. In some
districts the wholly free small landowner had already disappeared,
though in the regions which had formed the Danelagh he was still to be
found in large numbers. Nor did William introduce the system of great
earldoms, passing from father to son, which gave over-great subjects a
hereditary grip on the countryside. On the contrary, as has been already
said, he did much to check that tendency, which had already developed in

What he really did do was to reconstruct society on the essentially
feudal theory that the land was a gift from the king, held on conditions
of homage and military service. The duties which under the old system
were national obligations resting on the individual as a citizen, he
made into duties depending on the relation between the king as supreme
landowner and the subject as tenant of the land. Military service and
the paying of the feudal taxes--aids, reliefs, &c.--are incidents of the
bargain between the crown and the grantee to whom land has been given.
That grantee, the tenant-in-chief, has the right to demand from his
sub-tenants, to whom he has given out fractions of his estate, the same
dues that the king exacts from himself. As at least four-fifths of the
land of England had fallen into the king's hands between 1066 and 1074,
and had been actually regranted to new owners--foreigners to whom the
feudal system was the only conceivable organization of political
existence--the change was not only easy but natural. The few surviving
English landholders had to fall into line with the newcomers. England,
in short, was reorganized into a state of the continental type, but one
differing from France or Germany in that the crown had not lost so many
of its regalities as abroad, and that even the greater earls had less
power than the ordinary continental tenant-in-chief.

The English people became aware of this transformation in the "theory of
the state" mainly through the fact that the new tenants-in-chief,
bringing with them the ideas in which they had been reared, failed to
comprehend the rather complicated status of the rural population on this
side of the Channel. To the French or Norman knight all peasants on his
manor seemed to be villeins, and he failed to understand the distinction
between freemen who had personally commended themselves to his English
predecessor but still owned their land, and the mass of ordinary servile
tenants. There can be no doubt that the first effect of the Conquest was
that the upper strata of the agricultural classes lost the comparative
independence which they had hitherto enjoyed, and were in many cases
depressed to the level of their inferiors. The number of freemen began
to decrease, from the encroachments of the landowner, and continued to
dwindle for many years: even in districts where Domesday Book shows them
surviving in considerable numbers, it is clear that a generation or two
later they had largely disappeared, and became merged in the villein


In this sense, therefore, England was turned into a feudal state by the
results of the work of William the Conqueror. But it would be wrong to
assert that all traces of the ancient social organization of the realm
were swept away. The old Saxon customs were not forgotten, though they
might in many cases be twisted to fit new surroundings. Indeed William
and his successors not infrequently caused them to be collected and put
on record. The famous Domesday Book (q.v.) of 1086 is in its essential
nature an inquiry into the state of England at the moment of the
Conquest, compiled in order that the king may have a full knowledge of
the rights that he possesses as the heir of King Edward. Being primarily
intended to facilitate the levy of taxation, it dwells more on the
details of the actual wealth and resources of the country in 1066 and
1086, and less on the laws and customs that governed the distribution of
that wealth, than could have been wished. But it is nevertheless a
monument of the permanence of the old English institutions, even after
the ownership of four-fifths of the soil has been changed. The king
inquires into the state of things in 1066 because it is on that state of
things that his rights of taxation depend. He does not claim to have
rearranged the whole realm on a new basis, or to be levying his revenue
on a new assessment made at his own pleasure. Nor is it in the sphere of
taxation alone that William's organization of the realm stands on the
old English customs. In the military sphere, though his normal army is
the feudal force composed of the tenants-in-chief and the knights whom
they have enfeoffed, he retains the power to call out the _fyrd_, the
old national _levée en masse_, without regard to whether its members are
freemen or villeins of some lord. And in judicial matters the higher
rights of royal justice remain intact, except in the few cases where
special privileges have been granted to one or two palatine earls. The
villein must sue in his lord's manorial courts, but he is also subject
to the royal courts of hundred and shire. The machinery of the local
courts survives for the most part intact.

  Position of the Church.

William's dealings with the Church of England were no less important
than his dealings with social organization. In the earlier years of his
reign he set himself to get rid of the whole of the upper hierarchy, in
order to replace them by Normans. In 1070 Archbishop Stigand was deposed
as having been uncanonically chosen, and six or seven other bishops
after him. All the vacancies, as well as those which kept occurring
during the next few years, were immediately filled up with foreigners.
By the time that William had been ten years on the throne there were
only three English bishops left. At his death there was only one--the
saintly Wulfstan of Worcester. The same process was carried out with
regard to abbacies, and indeed with all important places of
ecclesiastical preferment. By 1080 the English Church was officered
entirely by aliens. Just as with the lay landholders, the change of
_personnel_ made a vast difference, not so much in the legal position of
the new-comers as in the way in which they regarded their office. The
outlook of a Norman bishop was as unlike that of his English predecessor
as that of a Norman baron. The English Church had got out of touch with
the ideals and the spiritual movements of the other Western churches. In
especial the great monastic revival which had started from the abbey of
Cluny and spread all over France, Italy and Germany had hardly touched
this island. The continental churchmen of the 11th century were brimming
over with ascetic zeal and militant energy, while the majority of the
English hierarchy were slack and easy-going. The typical faults of the
dark ages, pluralism, simony, lax observation of the clerical rules,
contented ignorance, worldliness in every aspect, were all too prevalent
in England. There can be no doubt that the greater part of William's
nominees were better men than those who preceded them; his great
archbishop, Lanfranc, though a busy statesman, was also an energetic
reformer and a man of holy life. Osmund, Remigius and others of the
first post-Conquest bishops have left a good name behind them. The
condition of the church alike in the matter of spiritual zeal, of hard
work and of learning was much improved. But there was a danger behind
this revival; for the reformers of the 11th century, in their zeal for
establishing the Kingdom of God on earth, were not content with raising
the moral and intellectual standards prevailing in Christendom, but
sought to bring the whole scheme of life under the church, by asserting
the absolute supremacy of the spiritual over the temporal power,
wherever the two came in contact or overlapped. The result, since the
feudal and ecclesiastical systems had become closely interwoven, and the
frontier between the religious and secular spheres must ever be vague
and undefined, was the conflict between the spiritual and temporal
powers which, for two centuries to come, was to tear Europe into warring
factions (see the articles CHURCH HISTORY; PAPACY; INVESTITURE). The
Norman Conquest of England was contemporaneous with the supreme
influence of the greatest exponent of the theory of ecclesiastical
supremacy, the archdeacon Hildebrand, who in 1073 mounted the papal
throne as Gregory VII. (q.v.). William, despite all his personal faults,
was a sincerely pious man, but it could not be expected that he would
acquiesce in these new developments of the religious reformation which
he had done his best to forward. Hence we find a divided purpose in the
policy which he pursued with regard to church affairs. He endeavoured to
keep on the best terms with the papacy: he welcomed legates and
frequently consulted the pope on purely spiritual matters. He even took
the hazardous step of separating ecclesiastical courts and lay courts,
giving the church leave to establish separate tribunals of her own, a
right which she had never possessed in Saxon England. The spiritual
jurisdiction of the bishop had hitherto been exercised in the ordinary
national courts, with lay assessors frequently taking part in the
proceedings, and mixing their dooms with the clergy's canonical
decisions. William in 1076 granted the church a completely independent
set of courts, a step which his successors were to regret for many a

At the same time, however, he was not blind to the possibilities of
papal interference in domestic matters, and of the danger of conflict
between the crown and the recently-strengthened clerical order. To guard
against them he laid down three general rules: (1) that no one should be
recognized as pope in England till he had himself taken cognizance of
the papal election, and that no papal letters should be brought into the
realm without his leave; (2) that no decisions of the English
ecclesiastical synods should be held valid till he had examined and
sanctioned them; (3) that none of his barons or ministers should be
excommunicated unless he approved of such punishment being inflicted on
them. These rules seem to argue a deeply rooted distrust of the possible
encroachments of the papacy on the power of the state. The question of
ecclesiastic patronage, which was to be the source of the first great
quarrel between the crown and the church in the next generation, is not
touched upon. William retained in his own hands the choice of bishops
and abbots, and Alexander II. and Gregory VII. seem to have made no
objection to his doing so, in spite of the claim that free election was
the only canonical way of filling vacancies. The Conqueror was allowed
for his lifetime to do as he pleased, since he was recognized as a true
friend of the church. But the question was only deferred and not

  William's later reign.

The political history of William's later years is unimportant; his main
energy was absorbed in the task of holding down and organizing his new
kingdom. His rather precarious conquest of the county of Maine, his long
quarrels with Philip I. of France, who suborned against him his
undutiful and rebellious eldest son Robert, his negotiation with
Flanders and Germany, deserve no more than a mention. It is more
necessary to point out that he reasserted on at least one occasion (when
King Malcolm Canmore did him homage) the old suzerainty of the English
kings over Scotland. He also began that encroachment on the borders of
Wales which was to continue with small interruptions for the next two
centuries. The advance was begun by his great vassals, the earls of
Chester, Shrewsbury and Hereford, all of whom occupied new districts on
the edge of the mountains of Powys and Gwynedd. William himself led an
expedition as far as St Davids in 1081, and founded Cardiff Castle to
mark the boundary of his realm north of the Bristol Channel.

Perhaps the most noteworthy event of the second portion of the
Conqueror's reign was a rebellion which, though it made no head and was
easily suppressed, marks the commencement of that feudal danger which
was to be the constant trouble of the English kings for the next three
generations. Two of the greatest of his foreign magnates, Roger, earl of
Hereford, and Ralph, earl of Norfolk, rose against him in 1075, with no
better cause than personal grievances and ambitions. He put them down
with ease; the one was imprisoned for life, the other driven into exile,
while Waltheof, the last of the English earls, who had dabbled in a
hesitating way in this plot, was executed. There was never any serious
danger, but the fact that under the new régime baronial rebellion was
possible, despite of all William's advantages over other feudal kings,
and despite of the fact that the rebels were hardly yet settled firmly
into their new estates, had a sinister import for the future of England.
With the new monarchy there had come into England the anarchic spirit of
continental feudalism. If such a man as the Conqueror did not overawe
it, what was to be expected in the reigns of his successors? William had
introduced into his new realm alike the barons, with their personal
ambition, and the clerics of the school of Hildebrand, with their
intense jealousy for the rights of the church. The tale of the dealings
of his descendants with these two classes of opponents constitutes the
greater part of English history for a full century.

  William Rufus.

William died at Rouen on the 7th of September 1087; on his death-bed he
expressed his wish that Normandy should pass to his elder son, Robert,
in spite of all his rebellions, but gave his second son William (known
by the nickname of Rufus) the crown of England, and sent him thither
with commendatory letters to archbishop Lanfranc and his other
ministers. There was at first no sign of opposition to the will of the
late king, and William Rufus was crowned within three weeks of his
father's decease. But the results of the Conquest had made it hard to
tear England and Normandy apart. Almost every baron in the duchy was now
the possessor of a smaller or a greater grant of lands in the kingdom,
and the possibility of serving two masters was as small in 1087 as at
any other period of the world's history. By dividing his two states
between his sons the Conqueror undid his own work, and left to his
subjects the certainty of civil war. For the brothers Robert and William
were, and always had been, enemies, and every intriguing baron had
before him the tempting prospect of aggrandizing himself, by making his
allegiance to one of the brothers serve as an excuse for betraying the
other. Robert was thriftless, volatile and easy-going, a good knight but
a most incompetent sovereign. These very facts commended him to the more
turbulent section of the baronage; if he succeeded to the whole of the
Conqueror's heritage they would have every opportunity of enjoying
freedom from all governance. William's private character was detestable:
he was cruel, lascivious, greedy of gain, a habitual breaker of oaths
and promises, ungrateful and irreligious. But he was cunning,
strong-handed and energetic; clearly the "Red King" would be an
undesirable master to those who loved feudal anarchy. Hence every
turbulent baron in England soon came to the conclusion that Robert was
the sovereign whom his heart desired.

The greater part of the reign of William II. was taken up with his fight
against the feudal danger. Before he had been six months on the throne
he was attacked by a league comprising more than half the baronage, and
headed by his uncles, bishop Odo of Bayeux and Robert of Mortain. They
used the name of the duke of Normandy and had secured his promise to
cross the Channel for their assistance. A less capable and unscrupulous
king than Rufus might have been swept away, for the rising burst out
simultaneously in nearly every corner of the realm. But he made head
against it with the aid of mercenary bands, the loyal minority of the
barons, and the shire-levies of his English subjects. When he summoned
out the fyrd they came in great force to his aid, not so much because
they trusted in the promises of good governance and reduced taxation
which he made, but because they saw that a horde of greedy barons would
be worse to serve than a single king, however hard and selfish he might
be. With their assistance William fought down the rebels, expelled his
uncle Odo and several other leaders from the realm, confiscated a
certain amount of estates, and then pardoned the remainder of the
rebels. Such mercy, as he was to discover, was misplaced. In 1095 the
same body of barons made a second and a more formidable rising, headed
by the earls of Shrewsbury, Eu and Northumberland. It was put down with
the same decisive energy that William had shown in 1088, and this time
he was merciless; he blinded and mutilated William of Eu, shut up
Mowbray of Northumberland for life in a monastery, and hanged many men
of lesser rank. Of the other rebels some were deprived of their English
estates altogether, others restored to part of them after paying
crushing fines. This second feudal rebellion was only a distraction to
William from his war with his brother Robert, which continued
intermittently all through the earlier years of his reign. It was raging
from 1088 to 1091, and again from 1093 to 1096, when Robert tired of the
losing game, pawned his duchy to his brother and went off on the First
Crusade. Down to this moment William's position had been somewhat
precarious; with the Norman war generally on hand, feudal rebellion
always imminent, and Scottish invasions occasionally to be repelled, he
had no easy life. But he fought through his troubles, conquered
Cumberland from the Scots (1092), in dealing with his domestic enemies
used cunning where force failed, and generally got his will in the end.
His rule was expensive, and he made himself hated by every class of his
subjects, baronage, clergy and people alike, by his ingenious and
oppressive taxation. His chosen instrument, a clerical lawyer named
Ranulf Flambard (q.v.), whom he presently made bishop of Durham, was
shameless in his methods of twisting feudal or national law to the
detriment of the taxpayer. William supported him in every device,
however unjust, with a cynical frankness which was the distinguishing
trait of his character; for he loved to display openly all the vices and
meannesses which most men take care to disguise. In dealing with the
baronage Ranulf and his master extorted excessive and arbitrary
"reliefs" whenever land passed in succession to heirs. When the church
was a landholder their conduct was even more unwarrantable; every clerk
installed in a new preferment was forced to pay a large sum down--which
in that age was considered a clear case of simony by all conscientious
men. But in addition the king kept all wealthy posts, such as
bishoprics and abbacies, vacant for years at a time and appropriated the
revenue meanwhile.


This policy, when pursued with regard to the archbishopric of
Canterbury, brought on Rufus the most troublesome of his quarrels. When
the wise primate Lanfranc, his father's friend, died in 1089, he made no
appointment till 1093, extracting meanwhile great plunder from the see.
In a moment of sickness, when his conscience was for a space troubling
him or his will was weak, he nominated the saintly Anselm (q.v.) to the
archbishopric. When enthroned the new primate refused to make the
enormous gift which the king expected from every recipient of
preferment. Soon after he began to press for leave to hold a national
synod, and when it was denied him, spoke out boldly on the personal
vices as well as the immoral policy of the king. From this time William
and Anselm became open enemies. They fought first upon the question of
acknowledging Urban II. as pope--for the king, taking advantage of the
fact that there was an antipope in existence, refused to allow that
there was any certain and legitimate head of the Western church at the
moment. Then, after William had reluctantly yielded on this point, the
far more important question of lay investitures cropped up. The council
of Clermont (Nov. 1095) had just issued its famous decree to the effect
that bishops must be chosen by free election, and not invested with
their spiritual insignia or enfeoffed with their estates by the hands of
a secular prince. Anselm felt himself obliged to accept this decision,
and refused to accept his own pallium from William when Urban sent it
across the sea by the hands of a legate. The king replied by harrying
him on charges of having failed in his feudal obligation to provide
well-equipped knights for a Welsh expedition, and imposed ruinous fines
on him. It was even said that his life was threatened, and he fled to
Rome in 1097, not to return till his adversary was dead. There was much
to be said for the theory of the king as to the relations between church
and state; he was indeed only carrying on in a harsh form his father's
old policy. But the fact that he was a tyrant and an evil-liver, while
Anselm was a saint, so much influenced public opinion that William was
universally regarded as in the wrong, and the sympathy of the laity no
less than the clergy was with the archbishop. For the remaining three
years of his life the Red King was considered to be in a state of
reprobation and at open strife with righteousness.

Yet so far as secular affairs went William seemed prosperous enough.
Since his brother had pawned the duchy of Normandy to him, so that he
reigned at Rouen no less than at London, the danger of rebellion was
almost removed. His foreign policy was successful: he installed a
nominee of his own, Edgar, the son of Malcolm Canmore, on the throne of
Scotland (1097); he reconquered Maine, which his brother Robert had
lost; he made successful war upon King Philip of France. His barons
subdued much of South Wales, though his own expeditions into North
Wales, which he had designed to conquer and annex, had a less fortunate
ending. He dreamed, we are told, of attacking Ireland, even of crowning
himself king at Paris. But on the 2nd of August 1100 he was suddenly cut
off in the midst of his sins. While hunting with some of his godless
companions in the New Forest, he was struck by an arrow, unskilfully
shot by one of the party. The knight Walter Tyrrell, who was
persistently accused of being the author of his master's death, as
persistently denied his responsibility for it; and whether the arrow was
his or no, it was not alleged that malice guided it. William's
favourites had all to lose by his death.

  Succession of Henry I.

The king's death was unexpected: he was only in his fortieth year, and
men's minds had not even begun to ponder over the question of who would
succeed him. The crown of England was left vacant for the boldest
kinsman to snatch at, if he dared. William had two surviving brothers,
beside several nephews. Robert's claim seemed the more likely to
succeed, for not only was he the elder, but England was full of barons
who desired his accession, and had already taken up arms for him in 1087
or 1095. But he was far away--being at the moment on his return journey
from Jerusalem--while on the spot was his brother Henry, an ambitious
prince, whose previous efforts to secure himself a territorial
endowment had failed more from ill-luck than from want of enterprise or
ability. Seeing his opportunity, Henry left his brother's body unburied,
rode straight off to Winchester with a handful of companions, and seized
the royal treasure. This and his ready tongue were the main arguments by
which he convinced the few magnates present, and persuaded them to back
him, despite the protests of some supporters of Robert. There was hardly
the semblance of an election, and the earl of Warwick and the chancellor
William Giffard were almost the only persons of importance on the spot.
But Henry, once hailed as king, rode hard for London and persuaded
bishop Maurice to crown him without delay at Westminster, since the
primate Anselm was absent beyond seas. He certainly lost no time: Rufus
was shot on Thursday, the 2nd of August--his successor was crowned on
Sunday the 5th of August! The realm heard almost by the same messengers
that it had lost one king and that it had gained another.

Henry at once issued a proclamation and charter promising the redress of
all the grievances with which his brother had afflicted his feudal
tenants, the clergy and the whole nation. He would keep the ancient laws
of King Edward, as amended by his father the Conqueror, and give all men
good justice. These promises he observed more faithfully than Norman
kings were wont to do; if the pledge was not redeemed in every detail,
he yet kept England free from anarchy, abandoned the arbitrary and
unjust taxation of his brother, and set up a government that worked by
rule and order, not by the fits and starts of tyrannical caprice. He was
a man of a cold and hard disposition, but full of practical wisdom, and
conscious that his precarious claim to the crown must be secured by
winning the confidence of his subjects. Almost the first and quite the
wisest of his inspirations was to wed a princess of the old English
line--Edith,[1] the niece of Edgar Ætheling, the child of his sister
Margaret of Scotland and Malcolm Canmore. The match, though his Norman
barons sneered at it, gave him the hearts of all his English subjects,
who supported him with enthusiasm, and not merely (as had been the case
with Rufus) because they saw that a strong king would oppress them less
than a factious and turbulent baronage. Henry won much applause at the
same time by filling up all the bishoprics and abbacies which his
brother had kept so long vacant, by inviting the exiled Anselm to return
to England, and by imprisoning William's odious minister Ranulf
Flambard. He had just time to create a favourable impression by his
first proceedings, when his brother Robert, who had returned from
Palestine and resumed possession of Normandy, landed at Portsmouth to
claim the crown and to rouse his partisans among the English baronage.
Henry bought him off, before the would-be rebels had time to join him,
by promising him an annual tribute of 3000 marks and surrendering to him
all his estates in Normandy (1101). His policy seemed tame and cautious,
but was entirely justifiable, for within a few months of Robert's
departure the inevitable feudal rebellion broke out. If the duke and his
army had been on the spot to support it, things might have gone hardly
with the king. The rising was led by Robert of Belesme, earl of
Shrewsbury, a petty tyrant of the most ruffianly type, the terror of the
Welsh marches. He was backed by his kinsmen and many other barons, but
proved unable to stand before the king, who was loyally supported by the
English shire levies. After taking the strong castles of Arundel,
Tickhill, Bridgnorth and Shrewsbury, Henry forced the rebels to submit.
He confiscated their estates and drove them out of the realm; they fled
for the most part to Normandy, to spur on duke Robert to make another
bid for the English crown. From the broad lands which they forfeited
Henry made haste to reward his own servants, new men who owed all to him
and served him faithfully. From them he chose the sheriffs, castellans
and councillors through whom he administered the realm during the rest
of his long reign.

This minor official nobility was the strength of the crown, and was
sharply divided in spirit and ambition from the older feudal aristocracy
which descended from the original adventurers who had followed William
the Conqueror. Yet the latter still remained strong enough to constitute
a danger to the crown whenever it should fall to a king less wary and
resolute than Henry himself.

Henry was by nature more of an administrator and organizer than of a
fighting man. He was a competent soldier, but his wish was rather to be
a strong king at home than a great conqueror abroad. Nevertheless he was
driven by the logic of events to attack Normandy, for as long as his
brother reigned there, and as long as many English barons retained great
holdings on both sides of the Channel and were subjects of the duke as
well as of the king, intrigues and plots never ceased. The Norman war
ended in the battle of Tenchebrai (Sept. 28, 1106), where Duke Robert
was taken prisoner. His brother shut him up in honourable confinement
for the rest of his life, though otherwise he was not ill-treated. For
the rest of his reign Henry was ruler of all the old dominions of the
Conqueror, and none of his subjects could cloak disloyalty by the
pretence of owing a divided allegiance to two masters. With this he was
content, and made no great effort to extend his dominions farther; his
desire was to reign as a true king in England and Normandy, rather than
to build up a loosely compacted empire around them.

  Henry's difficulties with the church.

Throughout the time of Henry's Norman war, he was engaged in a tiresome
controversy with the primate on the question of lay investitures, the
continuation of the struggle which had begun in his brother's reign.
Every English king for five generations had to face the danger from the
church, no less than the danger from the barons. Anselm had come back
from Rome confirmed in the theories for which he had contended with
Rufus--nay, taught to extend them to a further extreme. He now
maintained not only that it was a sin that kings should invest prelates
with their spiritual insignia, the pallium, the staff, the ring, but
claimed that no clerk ought to do homage to the king for the lands of
his benefice, though he himself seven years before had not scrupled to
make his oath to his earlier master. He now refused to swear allegiance
to the new monarch, though he had recalled him and had restored him to
the possession of his see. He also refused to consecrate Henry's
nominees to certain bishoprics and abbacies on the ground that they had
not been chosen by free election by their chapters or their monks. The
king was loath to take up the quarrel, for he highly respected the
archbishop; yet he was still more loath to surrender the ancient claims
and privileges of the crown. Anselm was equally reluctant to force
matters to an open breach, yet would not shift from his position. There
followed an interminable series of arguments, interrupted by truces,
till at last Anselm, at the king's suggestion, went to Rome to see if
the pope could arrange some _modus vivendi_. Paschal II. for some time
refused to withdraw from his fixed theory of the relation of church and
state, and Anselm, in despair, preferred to remain abroad rather than to
press matters to the rupture that seemed the only logical issue of the
controversy. But in 1107 the pope consented to a compromise, which
satisfied the king, and yet was acceptable to the church. Bishops and
abbots were for the future to be canonically elected by the clergy, and
were no longer to receive the ring and staff from lay hands. But they
were to do homage to the king for their lands, and since they thus
acknowledged him as their temporal lord Henry was content. Moreover, he
retained in practice, if not in theory, his power to nominate to the
vacant offices; chapters and monasteries seldom dared to resist the
pressure which the sovereign could bring to bear upon them in favour of
the candidate whom he had selected. The arrangement was satisfactory,
and served as the model for the similar compromise arrived at between
Pope Calixtus II. and the emperor Henry V. fifteen years later.

From 1107 onward Henry was freed from both the dangers which had
threatened him in his earlier years, and was free to develop his policy
as he pleased. He had yet twenty-eight years to reign, for he survived
to the age of sixty-seven, an age unparalleled by any of his
predecessors, and by all his successors till Edward I.

  Constitutional machinery.

It is to Henry, aided by his great justiciar, Roger, bishop of
Salisbury, that England owed the institution of the machinery of
government by which it was to be ruled during the earlier middle ages.
This may be described as a primitive kind of bureaucracy, which
gradually developed into a much more complicated system of courts and
offices. Around the sovereign was his _Curia Regis_ or body of
councillors, of whom the most important were the justiciar, the
chancellor and the treasurer, though the feudal officers, the constable
and marshal, were also to be found there. The bulk of the council,
however, was composed of knights and clerks selected by the king for
their administrative or financial ability. The Curia, besides advising
the king on ordinary matters of state, had two special functions. It
sat, or certain members of it sat, under the presidency of the king or
the justiciar, as the supreme court of justice of the realm. In this
capacity it tried the suits of tenants-in-chief, and all appeals from
the local courts. But Henry, not contented with this, adopted the custom
of sending forth certain members of the Curia throughout the realm at
intervals, to sit in the shire court, along with or in place of the
sheriff, and to hear and judge all the cases of which the court had
cognizance. From these itinerant commissioners (justices in eyre)
descend the modern justices of assize. The sheriff, the original
president of the shire court, was gradually extruded by them from all
important business.

But there were other developments of the Curia. The justiciar,
chancellor and treasurer sat with certain other members of the council
as the court of exchequer, not only to receive and audit the accounts of
the royal revenue, but to give legal decisions on all questions
connected with finance. Twice in every year the sheriffs and other royal
officials came up to the exchequer court, which originally sat at
Winchester, with their bags of money and their sheaves of accounts.
Their figures were subjected to a severe scrutiny, and the law was laid
down on all points in which the interests of the sheriff and the king,
or the sheriff and the taxpayer, came into conflict. In this way the
exchequer grew into a law court of primary importance, instead of
remaining merely a court of receipt. Though its members were originally
the same men who sat in the Curia Regis, the character of the question
to be tried settled the capacity in which they should sit, and two
separate courts were evolved. (See EXCHEQUER.)

Under the superintendence of the Curia Regis and the exchequer, the
sheriff still remained the king's factotum in local affairs. He led the
shire-levies, collected the royal revenues both feudal and non-feudal,
and presided in the shire-court as judge, till in the course of years
his functions in that sphere were gradually taken over by the itinerant
justices. On his fidelity the king had to rely both for military aid in
times of baronial revolt and for the collection of the money which
formed the sinews of war. Hence the position was one of the highest
importance, and Henry's new nobility, the men of ability whom he
selected and promoted, found their special occupation in holding the
office of sheriff. It was they who had to see that the shire court, and
in minor affairs the hundred court, did not allow cases to slip away
into the jurisdiction of the feudal courts of the baronage.

Henry I. must count not merely as the father of the English bureaucracy,
but as a fosterer of the municipal independence of the towns. He gave
charters of a very liberal character to many places, and in especial to
London, where the citizens were allowed to choose their own sheriff, and
to deal directly with the exchequer in matters of revenue. He even
farmed out to them the charge of the taxes of the whole shire of
Middlesex, outside the city walls. Such a grant was exceptional--though
Lincoln also seems to have been granted the privilege of dealing
directly with the exchequer. But in many other smaller towns the first
grants--the smaller beginnings of autonomy--may be traced back to this
period (see BOROUGH).

Though Henry was an autocrat, and governed through bureaucratic
officials who were entirely under his hand, yet a reign of law and order
such as his was indirectly favourable to the growth of constitutional
liberty. It was equally favourable to the growth of national unity: it
was in his time that Norman and English began to melt together:
intermarriage in all classes became common, and only thirty years after
his death a contemporary writer could remark that it was hard for any
man to call himself either Norman or English, so much had blood been

It is unnecessary to go into the very uninteresting and unimportant
history of Henry's later years. A long war with France, prosecuted
without much energy, led to no results, for the French king's attempts
to stir up rebellions in the name of William the Clito (q.v.), the son
of Duke Robert, came to an end with that prince's death in 1129. But the
extension of the English borders in South Wales by the conquests of the
lords marcher as far as Pembroke and Cardigan deserves a word of notice.

  Henry's heir.

The question of the succession was the main thing which occupied the
mind of the king and the whole nation in Henry's later years. It had a
real interest for every man in an age when any doubt as to the heir
meant the outbreak of civil war such as had occurred at the death of the
Conqueror and of Rufus. There was now a problem of some difficulty to be
solved. Henry's only son William had been drowned at sea in 1120. He had
no other child born in wedlock save a daughter, Matilda, who married the
emperor Henry V., but had no issue by him. On the emperor's decease she
wedded as her second husband Geoffrey of Anjou (1127), to whom during
her father's last years she bore two sons. But the succession of a woman
to the crown was as unfamiliar to English as to Norman ideas, nor did it
seem natural to either to place a young child on the throne. Moreover,
Matilda's husband Geoffrey was unpopular among the Normans; the Angevins
had been the chief enemies of the duchy for several generations, and the
idea that one of them might become its practical ruler was deeply
resented. The old king, as was but natural, had determined that his
daughter should be his successor; he made the great council do homage to
her in 1126, and always kept her before the eyes of his people as his
destined heir. But though he had forced or cajoled every leading man in
England and Normandy to take his oath to serve her, he must have been
conscious that there was a large chance that such pledges would be
forgotten at his death. The prejudice against a female heir was strong,
and there were too many turbulent magnates to whom the anarchy that
would follow a disputed succession presented temptations which could not
be resisted.

  Matilda, and Stephen.

Henry died suddenly on the 25th of November 1135, while he was on a
visit to his duchy of Normandy. The moment that his death was reported
the futility of oaths became apparent. A majority of the Norman barons
appealed to Theobald, count of Blois, son of the Conqueror's daughter
Adela, to be their duke, and to save them from the yoke of the hated
Angevin. His supporters and those of Matilda were soon at blows all
along the frontier of Normandy. Meanwhile in England another pretender
had appeared. Stephen, count of Boulogne, the younger brother of
Theobald, had landed at Dover within a few days of Henry's death,
determined to make a snatch at the crown, though he had been one of the
first who had taken the oath to his cousin a few years before. The
citizens of London welcomed him, but he was not secure of his success
till by a swift swoop on Winchester he obtained possession of the royal
treasure--an all-important factor in a crisis, as Henry I. had shown in
1100. At Winchester he was acknowledged as king by the bishop, his own
brother Henry of Blois, and by the great justiciar, Roger, bishop of
Salisbury, and the archbishop, William of Corbeil. The allegiance of
these prelates was bought by an unwise promise to grant all the demands
of the church party, which his predecessor had denied, or conceded only
in part. He would permit free election to all benefices, and free
legislation by ecclesiastical synods, and would surrender any claims of
the royal courts to have jurisdiction over clerks or the property of
clerks. It then remained necessary to buy the baronage, of which only a
few members had as yet committed themselves to his side. It was done by
grants of lands and privileges, the first instalment of a never-ending
crop of ruinous concessions which Stephen continued to make from the day
of his accession down to the day of his death.

The pretender was crowned at Westminster on the 22nd of December
1135--less than a month after his uncle's death. No one yet openly
withstood him, but he was well aware that his position was precarious,
and that the claims of Matilda would be brought forward ere long by the
section of the baronage which had not yet got from him all they desired.
Meanwhile, however, he was encouraged to persevere by the fact that his
brother Theobald had withdrawn his claim to the duchy of Normandy, and
retired in his favour. For a space he was to be duke as well as king;
but this meant merely that he would have two wars, not one, in hand ere
long. Matilda's adherents were already in the field in Normandy; in
England their rising was only delayed for a few months.

  Civil war.

Stephen, though he had shown some enterprise and capacity in his
successful snatch at the crown, was a man far below his three
predecessors on the throne in the matter of perseverance and foresight.
He was a good fighter, a liberal giver, and a faithful friend, but he
lacked wisdom, caution and the power to organize. Starting his career as
a perjurer, it is curious that he was singularly slow to suspect perjury
in others; he was the most systematically betrayed of all English kings,
because he was the least suspicious, and the most ready to buy off and
to forgive rebels. His troubles began in 1136, when sporadic rebellions,
raised in the name of Matilda, began to appear; they grew steadily
worse, though Stephen showed no lack of energy, posting about his realm
with a band of mercenary knights whenever trouble broke out. But in 1138
the crisis came; the baronage had tried the capacity of their new master
and found him wanting. The outbreak was now widespread and
systematic--caused not by the turbulence of a few wild spirits, but by
the deliberate conspiracy of all who saw their advantage in anarchy.
Matilda had a few genuine partisans, such as her half-brother Robert,
earl of Gloucester, the illegitimate son of Henry I., but the large
majority of those who took arms in her name were ready to sell their
allegiance to either candidate in return for lands, or grants of rank or
privilege. A long list of doubly and triply forsworn nobles, led by
Geoffrey de Mandeville, Aubrey de Vere and Ralph of Chester, made the
balance of war sway alternately from side to side, as they transferred
themselves to the camp of the highest bidder. It is hard to trace any
meaning in the civil war--it was not a contest between the principle of
hereditary succession and the principle of elective kingship, as might
be supposed. It was rather, if some explanation must be found for it, a
strife between the kingly power and feudal anarchy. Unfortunately for
England the kingly power was in the hands of an incapable holder, and
feudal anarchy found a plausible mask by adopting the disguise of
loyalty to the rightful heiress.

The civil war was not Stephen's only trouble; foreign invasion was
added. David I., king of Scotland, was the uncle of Matilda, and used
her wrongs as the plea for thrice invading northern England, which he
ravaged with great cruelty. His most formidable raid was checked by the
Yorkshire shire levies, at the battle of the Standard (Aug. 22, 1138).
Yet in the following year he had to be bought off by the grant of all
Northumberland (save Newcastle and Bamborough) to his son Earl Henry.
Carlisle and Cumberland were already in his hands. Some years later the
Scottish prince also got possession of the great "Honour of Lancaster."
It was not Stephen's fault that the boundary of England did not
permanently recede from the Tweed and the Solway to the Tyne and the

But the affairs of the North attracted little attention while the civil
war was at its height in the South. In 1139 Stephen had wrought himself
fatal damage by quarrelling with the ecclesiastical bureaucrats, the
kinsmen and allies of Roger of Salisbury, who had been among his
earliest adherents. Jealous of their power and their arrogance, and
doubting their loyalty, he imprisoned them and confiscated their lands.
This threw the whole church party on to the side of Matilda; even Henry,
bishop of Winchester, the king's own brother, disowned him and passed
over to the other side. Moreover, the whole machinery of local
government in the realm fell out of gear, when the experienced ministers
who were wont to control it were removed from power.

Matilda had landed in England in the winter of 1139-1140; for a year her
partisans made steady progress against the king, and on the 2nd of
February 1141 Stephen was defeated and taken prisoner at the battle of
Lincoln. All England, save the county of Kent and a few isolated castles
elsewhere, submitted to Matilda. She was hailed as a sovereign by a
great assembly at Winchester, over which Stephen's own brother Bishop
Henry presided (April 7, 1141) and entered London in triumph in June. It
is doubtful whether she would have obtained complete possession of the
realm if she had played her cards well, for there were too many powerful
personages who were interested in the perpetuation of the civil war. But
she certainly did her best to ruin her own chances by showing an unwise
arrogance, and a determination to resume at once all the powers that her
father had possessed. When she annulled all the royal acts of the last
six years, declared charters forfeited and lands confiscated, and began
to raise heavy and arbitrary taxes, she made the partisans of Stephen
desperate, and estranged many of her own supporters. A sudden rising of
the citizens drove her out of London, while she was making preparations
for her coronation. The party of the imprisoned king rallied under the
wise guidance of his wife Matilda of Boulogne and his brother Henry, and
many other of the late deserters adhered to it. Their army drove the
lately triumphant party out of Winchester, and captured its military
chief, Robert, earl of Gloucester. So much was his loss felt that his
sister exchanged him a few months later for King Stephen.

After this the war went on interminably, without complete advantage to
either side, Stephen for the most part dominating the eastern and
Matilda the western shires. It was the zenith of the power of the
baronial anarchists, who moved from camp to camp with shameless
rapidity, wresting from one or other of the two rival sovereigns some
royal castle, or some dangerous grant of financial or judicial rights,
at each change of allegiance. The kingdom was in the desperate state
described in the last melancholy pages of the _Anglo-Saxon Chronicle_,
when life and property were nowhere safe from the objectless ferocity of
feudal tyrants--when "every shire was full of castles and every castle
filled with devils and evil men," and the people murmured that "Christ
and his saints slept."

Such was England's fate till 1153, when Matilda had retired from the
strife in favour of her son, Henry of Anjou, and Stephen was grown an
old man, and had just lost his heir, Eustace, to whom he had desired to
pass on the crown. Both parties were exhausted, both were sick of the
incessant treachery of their more unscrupulous barons, and at last they
came to the compromise of Wallingford (October 1153), by which it was
agreed that Stephen should reign for the remainder of his life, but that
on his death the crown should pass to Henry. Both sides promised to lay
down their arms, to dismiss their mercenaries, and to acquiesce in the
destruction of unlicensed castles, of which it is said, with no very
great exaggeration, that there were at the moment over 1000 in the
realm. Henry then returned to Normandy, of which his mother had been in
possession since 1145, while Stephen turned his small remaining strength
to the weary task of endeavouring to restore the foundations of law and
order. But he had accomplished little when he died in October 1154. The
task of reconstruction was to be left to Henry of Anjou: his predecessor
was only remembered as an example of the evil that may be done by a weak
man who has been reckless enough to seize a throne which he is incapable
of defending. England has had many worse kings, but never one who
wrought her more harm. If his successor had been like him, feudal
anarchy might have become as permanent in England as in Poland.

  Henry II.

Fortunately the young king to whom Stephen's battered crown now fell was
energetic and capable, if somewhat self-willed and hasty. He was
inferior in caution and self-control to his grandfather Henry I., though
he resembled him in his love of strong and systematic governance. From
the point of view of his English subjects his main achievement was that
he restored in almost every detail the well-organized bureaucracy which
his ancestor had created, and with it the law and order that had
disappeared during Stephen's unhappy reign. But there was this essential
difference between the position of the two Henries, that the elder
aspired to be no more than king of England and duke of Normandy, while
the younger strove all his life for an imperial position in western
Europe. Such an ambition was almost forced upon him by the consequences
of his descent and his marriage. Besides his grandfather's Anglo-Norman
inheritance, he had received from his father Geoffrey the counties of
Anjou and Touraine, and the predominance in the valley of the Lower
Loire. But it was his marriage to Eleanor of Aquitaine, two years before
his accession to the English throne, which gave him the right to dream
of greatness such as his Norman forbears had never enjoyed. This lady,
the divorced wife of Louis VII. of France, brought to her second husband
the whole of the lands from Poitou to the Pyrenees, the accumulated
gains of many warlike ancestors. In wealth and fighting strength the
duchy of Aquitaine was a full third of France. Added to Anjou and
Normandy it made a realm far more important than England. Hence it came
that Henry's ambitions and interests were continental more than English.
Unlike his grandfather he dwelt for the greater part of his time beyond
seas. It must be remembered, too, that his youth had been spent abroad,
and that England only came to him when he was already a grown man. The
concerns of his island realm were a matter of high importance to him,
but only formed a part of his cares. Essentially he was an Angevin,
neither a Norman nor an Englishman, and his primary ambition was to make
the house of Anjou supreme in France. Nor did this seem impossible; he
owned a far broader and wealthier domain beyond the Channel than did his
nominal suzerain King Louis VII., and--what was of more importance--he
far excelled that prince both in vigour and in capacity.

On succeeding to the English crown, however, he came over at once to
take possession of the realm, and abode there for over a year,
displaying the most restless energy in setting to rights the governance
of the realm. He expelled all Stephen's mercenaries, took back into his
hands the royal lands and castles which his predecessor had granted
away, and destroyed hundreds of the "adulterine" castles which the
barons and knights had built without leave during the years of the
anarchy. Hardly a single magnate dared to oppose him--Bridgnorth, now a
castle of the Mortimers, was the only place which he had to take by
force. His next care was to restore the bureaucracy by which Henry I.
had been wont to govern. He handed over the exchequer to Nigel, bishop
of Ely, the nephew of the old justiciar Roger of Salisbury, and the heir
of his traditions. His chancellor was a young clerk, Thomas Becket, who
was recommended to him by archbishop Theobald as the most capable
official in the realm. A short experience of his work convinced the king
that his merits had not been exaggerated. He proved a zealous and
capable minister, and such a strong exponent of the claims of the crown
that no one could have foreseen the later developments by which he was
to become their greatest enemy.

The machine of government was beginning to work in a satisfactory
fashion, and the realm was already settling down into order, when Henry
was called abroad by a rebellion raised in Anjou by his brother
Geoffrey--the first of the innumerable dynastic troubles abroad which
continued throughout his reign to distract his attention from his duties
as an English king. He did not return for fifteen months; but when he
did reappear it was to complete the work which he had begun in 1155, to
extort from the greater barons the last of the royal fortresses which
still remained in their hands, and to restore the northern boundaries of
the realm. Malcolm IV., the young king of Scotland, was compelled to
give up the earldoms of Northumberland and Cumberland, which his father
Henry had received from Stephen. He received instead only the earldom of
Huntingdon, too far from the border to be a dangerous possession, to
which he had a hereditary right as descending from Earl Waltheof. He did
homage to the king of England, and actually followed him with a great
retinue on his next continental expedition. In the same year (1157)
Henry made an expedition into North Wales, and forced its prince Owen to
become his vassal, not without some fighting, in which the English army
received several sharp checks at the commencement of the campaign.

Yet once more Henry's stay on the English side of the Channel was but
for a year. In 1158 he again departed to plunge into schemes of
continental conquest. This time it was an attempt to annex the great
county of Toulouse, and so to carry the borders of Aquitaine to the
Mediterranean, which distracted him. Naturally Louis of France was
unwilling to see his great vassal striding all across his realm, and did
what he could to hinder him. Into the endless skirmishes and
negotiations which followed the raising of the question of Toulouse it
would be fruitless to enter. Henry did not achieve his purpose, indeed
he seems to have failed to use his strength to its best advantage, and
allowed himself to be bought off by a futile marriage treaty by which
his eldest son was to marry the French king's daughter (1160). This was
to be but the first of many disappointments in this direction; there was
apparently some fatal scruple, both in Henry's own mind and in that of
his continental subjects, as to pressing their suzerain too hard. But it
must also be remembered that a feudal army was an inefficient weapon for
long wars, and that the mercenaries, by whom alone it could be replaced,
were both expensive and untrustworthy. Henry developed as far as he was
able the system of "scutage" (q.v.) which his grandfather had apparently
invented; by this the vassal compounded for his forty days' personal
service by paying money, with which the king could hire professional
soldiers. But even with this help he could never keep a large enough
army together.

  Quarrel with the church.


Meanwhile England, though somewhat heavily taxed, was at least enjoying
quiet and strong governance. There is every sign that Henry's early
years were a time of returning prosperity. But there was also much
friction between the crown and its subjects. The more turbulent part of
the baronage, looking back to the boisterous times of Stephen with
regret, was reserving itself for a favourable opportunity. The danger of
feudal rebellion was not yet past, as was to be shown ten years later.
The towns did not find Henry an easy master. He took away from London
some of the exceptional privileges which his grandfather had granted,
such as the free election of sheriffs of Middlesex, and the right of
farming the shire at a fixed rent. He asserted his power to raise
"tallages"--arbitrary taxation--from the citizens on occasion. Yet he
left the foundations of municipal liberty untouched, and he was fairly
liberal in granting charters which contained moderate privileges to
smaller towns. His most difficult task, however, was to come to a
settlement with the Church. The lavish grants of Stephen had made an end
of the old authority which the Conqueror and Henry I. had exercised over
the clergy. Their successor was well aware of the fact, and was resolved
to put back the clock, so far as it was in his power. It was not,
however, on the old problems of free election, of lay investiture, that
his quarrel with the clerical body broke out, but on the comparatively
new question of the conflicting claims of ecclesiastical and secular
courts. The separate tribunals of the church, whose erection William I.
had favoured, had been developing in power ever since, and had begun to
encroach on the sphere of the courts of the state. This was more than
ever the case since Stephen had formally granted them jurisdiction over
all suits concerning clerics and clerical property. During the first few
years of his reign Henry had already been in collision with the
ecclesiastical authorities over several such cases; he had chafed at
seeing two clerks accused of murder and blackmailing claimed by and
acquitted in the church courts; and most of all at the frequency of
unlicensed appeals to Rome--a flagrant breach of one of the three rules
laid down by William the Conqueror. Being comparatively at leisure after
the pacification with France, he resolved to turn his whole attention to
the arrangement of a new _modus vivendi_ with the church. As a
preliminary move he appointed his able chancellor Thomas Becket to the
archbishopric of Canterbury, which fell vacant in 1162. This was the
greatest mistake of his reign. Becket was one of those men who, without
being either hypocrites or consciously ambitious, live only to magnify
their office. While chancellor he was the most zealous servant of the
crown, and had seemed rather secular than clerical in his habits and his
outlook on life. But no sooner had he been promoted to the archbishopric
than he put away his former manners, became the most formal and austere
of men, and set himself to be the champion of the church party in all
its claims, reasonable or unreasonable, against the state. The king's
astonishment was even greater than his indignation when he saw the late
chancellor setting himself to oppose him in all things. Their first
quarrel was about a proposed change in some details of taxation, which
seems to have had no specially ecclesiastical bearing at all. But Becket
vehemently opposed it, and got so much support when the great council
met at Woodstock that Henry withdrew his schemes. This was only a
preliminary skirmish; the main battle opened in the following year, when
the king, quite aware that he must for the future look on Thomas as his
enemy, brought forward the famous _Constitutions of Clarendon_, of which
the main purport was to assert the jurisdiction of the state over
clerical offenders by a rather complicated procedure, while other
clauses provided that appeals to Rome must not be made without the
king's leave, that suits about land or the presentation to benefices, in
which clerics were concerned, should be tried before the royal courts,
and that bishops should not quit the realm unless they had obtained
permission to do so from the king (see CLARENDON, CONSTITUTIONS OF).
Somewhat to the king's surprise, Becket yielded for a moment to his
pressure, and declared his assent to the constitutions. But he had no
sooner left the court than he proclaimed that he had grievously sinned
in giving way, suspended himself from his archiepiscopal functions, and
wrote to the pope to beg for pardon and absolution. He then made a
clandestine attempt to escape from the realm, but was detected on the
seashore and forced to return.

Incensed with Becket for his repudiation of his original submission,
Henry proceeded to open a campaign of lawsuits against him, in order to
force him to plead in secular courts. He also took the very mean step of
declaring that he should call him to account for all the moneys that had
passed through his hands when he was chancellor, though Becket had been
given a quittance for them when he resigned the office more than two
years before. The business came up at the council of Northampton
(October 1164), when the archbishop was tried for refusing to recognize
the jurisdiction of the king's courts, and declared to have forfeited
his movable goods. The sentence was passed by the lay members of the
Curia Regis alone, the bishops having been forbidden to sit, and
threatened with excommunication if they did so, by the accused primate.
When Becket was visited by the justiciar who came to rehearse the
judgment, he started to his feet, refused to listen to a word, declared
his repudiation of all lay courts and left the hall. That same night he
made a second attempt to escape from England and this time succeeded in
getting off to Flanders. From thence he fled to the court of the pope,
where he received less support than he had expected. Alexander III.
privately approved of all that he had done, and regarded him as the
champion of the Church, but he did not wish to quarrel with King Henry.
He had lately been driven from Rome by the emperor Frederick I., who had
installed an antipope in his place, and had been forced to retire to
France. If he sided with Becket and thundered against his persecutor,
there was small doubt that the king of England would adhere to the
schism. Accordingly he endeavoured to temporize and to avoid a rupture,
to the archbishop's great disgust. But since he also declared the
Constitutions of Clarendon uncanonical and invalid, Henry was equally
offended, and opened negotiations with the emperor and the antipope.
This conduct forced Alexander's hand, and he gave Becket leave to
excommunicate his enemies. The exile, who had taken refuge in a French
abbey, placed the justiciar and six other of the king's chief
councillors under the ban of the Church, and intimated that he should
add Henry himself to the list unless he showed speedy signs of
repentance (April 1166).

Thus the quarrel had come to a head. Church and State were at open war.
Henry soon found that Becket's threats had more effect than he liked.
Many of the English clergy were naturally on the side of the primate in
a dispute which touched their loyalty to the Church and their class
feeling. Several bishops declared to the king that, since his ministers
had been duly excommunicated, they did not see how they could avoid
regarding them as men placed outside the pale of Christendom.
Fortunately the pope interfered for a moment to lighten the friction;
being threatened with a new invasion by the emperor Frederick, he
suspended the sentences and sent legates to patch up a peace. They
failed, for neither the king nor the archbishop would give way. At this
juncture Henry was desirous of getting his eldest son and namesake
crowned as his colleague, the best mode that he could devise for
avoiding the dangers of a disputed succession at his death. He induced
the archbishop of York, assisted by the bishops of London and Salisbury,
to perform the ceremony. This was a clear invasion of the ancient rights
of the primate, and Becket took it more to heart than any other of his

Yet the next move in the struggle was a hollow reconciliation between
the combatants--a most inexplicable act on both sides. The king offered
to allow Becket to return from exile, and to restore him to his
possessions, without exacting from him any promise of submission, or
even a pledge that he would not reopen the dispute on his return.
Apparently he had made a wrong interpretation of the primate's mental
attitude, and thought him desirous of a truce, if not ready for a
compromise. He had wholly misjudged the situation; Becket made neither
promises nor threats, but three weeks after he reached Canterbury
publicly excommunicated the bishops of London and Salisbury for the part
that they had taken in the coronation of the young king, and suspended
from their functions the other prelates who had been present at the
ceremony. He then proceeded to excommunicate a number of his minor lay

  Becket's murder.

The news was carried overseas to Henry, who was then in Normandy. It
roused one of the fits of wild rage to which he was not unfrequently
liable; he burst out into ejaculations of wrath, and cursed "the
cowardly idle servants who suffered their master to be made the
laughing-stock of a low-born priest." Among those who stood about him
were four knights, some of whom had personal grudges against Becket, and
all of whom were reckless ruffians, who were eager to win their master's
favour by fair means or foul. They crossed the Channel with astonishing
speed; two days after the king's outburst they stood before Becket at
Canterbury and threatened him with death unless he should remove the
excommunications and submit to his master. The archbishop answered with
words as scornful as their own, and took his way to the minster to
attend vespers. The knights went out to seek their weapons, and when
armed followed him into the north transept, where they fell upon him and
brutally slew him with many sword-strokes (December 29, 1170). Thomas
had been given time to fly, and his followers had endeavoured to
persuade him to do so. It seems that he deliberately courted martyrdom,
anxious apparently that his death should deal the king the bitterest
blow that it was in his power to inflict (see BECKET).

  Its results.

Nothing could have put Henry in such an evil plight; the whole world
held him responsible for the murder, and he was forced to buy pardon for
it by surrendering many of the advantages over the Church which he had
hoped to gain by enforcing the Constitutions of Clarendon. Especially
the immunity of clerical offenders from the jurisdiction of lay courts
had to be conceded; for the rest of the middle ages the clerk guilty of
theft or assault, riot or murder, could plead his orders, and escape
from the harsh justice of the king's officers to the milder penalties of
the bishop's tribunal. "Benefit of clergy" became an intolerable
anomaly, all the more so because the privilege was extended in practice
not only to all persons actually in minor orders, but to all who claimed
them; any criminal who could read had a fair chance of being reckoned a
clerk. Another concession which Henry was forced to make was that the
appeals to Rome of litigants in ecclesiastical suits should be freely
permitted, provided that they made an oath that they were not
contemplating any wrong to the English crown or the English church, a
sufficiently easy condition. Such appeals became, and remained,
innumerable and vexatious. Pope Alexander also extorted from the king a
pledge that he would relinquish any customs prejudicial to the rights of
the Church which had been introduced since his accession. To the pope
this meant that the Constitutions of Clarendon were disavowed; to the
king, who maintained that they were in the main a mere restatement of
the customs of William I., it bore no such general interpretation. The
points were fought out in detail, and not settled for many years.
Practically it became the rule to regard suits regarding land, or
presentations to benefices, as pertaining to the king's court, while
those regarding probate, marriage and divorce fell to the ecclesiastical
tribunal. The question of election to bishoprics and abbacies went back
to the stage which it had reached in the time of Henry I.; the choice
was made in canonical form, by the chapters or the monasteries, but the
king's recommendation was a primary factor in that choice. When the
electors disregarded it, as was sometimes the case, there was friction;
a weak king was sometimes overruled; a strong one generally got his way
in the end.

Becket's death, then, gave a qualified triumph to the church party, and
he was rightly regarded as the successful champion of his caste. Hence
they held his death in grateful remembrance; the pope canonized him in
1173, and more churches were dedicated to him during the next two
centuries than to any other English saint. In the eyes of most men his
martyrdom had put the king so much in the wrong that the obstinacy and
provocative conduct which had brought it about passed out of memory. His
life of ostentatious austerity, and the courage with which he met his
death, had caused all his faults to be forgotten. Henry himself felt so
much the invidious position in which he was placed that even after
making his submission to the pope's legates at Avranches in 1172, he
thought it necessary to do penance before Becket's tomb in 1174, on
which occasion he allowed himself to be publicly scourged by the monks
of Canterbury, who inflicted on him three cuts apiece.

Between the outbreak of the king's quarrel with Becket at the council of
Woodstock and the compromise of Avranches no less than ten years had
elapsed--the best years of Henry's manhood. During this period his
struggle with the Church had been but one of his distractions. His
policy of imperial aggrandisement had been in progress. In 1163 he had
completed the conquest of South Wales; the marcher lords were now in
possession of the greater part of the land; the surviving Welsh princes
did homage for the rest. In 1166 Henry got practical possession of the
duchy of Brittany, the only remaining large district of western France
which was not already in his hands. Conan, the last prince of the old
Breton house, recognized him as his lord, and gave the hand of his
heiress Constance to Geoffrey, the king's third son. When the count died
in 1171 Henry did not transfer the administration of the land to the
young pair, who were still but children, but retained it for himself,
and clung to it jealously long after his son came of age. Intermittent
wars with France during these years were of small importance; Henry
never pushed his suzerain to extremity. But the Angevin dominions were
extended in a new direction, where no English king had yet made his
power felt.

  Conquest of Ireland.

The distressful island of Ireland was at this moment enjoying the
anarchy which had reigned therein since the dawn of history. Its state
had grown even more unhappy than before since the Danish invasions of
the 10th century, which had not welded the native kingdoms into unity
by pressure from without--as had been the case in England--but had
simply complicated affairs, by setting up two or three alien
principalities on the coastline. As in England, the vikings had
destroyed much of the old civilization; but they had neither succeeded
in occupying the whole country nor had they been absorbed by the
natives. The state of the island was much like that of England in the
days of the Heptarchy: occasionally a "High King" succeeded in forcing
his rivals into a precarious submission; more usually there was not even
a pretence of a central authority in the island, and the annals of
objectless tribal wars formed its sole history. King Henry's eyes had
been fixed on the faction-ridden land since the first years of his
reign. As early as 1155 he had asked and obtained the approval of Pope
Adrian IV., the only Englishman who ever sat upon the papal throne, for
a scheme for the conquest of Ireland. The Holy See had always regarded
with distaste the existence in the West of a nation who repudiated the
Roman obedience, and lived in schismatical independence, under local
ecclesiastical customs which dated back to the 5th century, and had
never been brought into line with those of the rest of Christendom.
Hence it was natural to sanction an invasion which might bring the Irish
within the fold. But Henry made no endeavour for many years to utilize
the papal grant of Ireland, which seems to have been made under the
preposterous "Donation of Constantine," the forged document which gave
the bishop of Rome authority over all islands. It was conveniently
forgotten that Ireland had never been in the Roman empire, and so had
not even been Constantine's to give away.

Not till 1168, thirteen years after the agreement with Pope Adrian, did
the interference of the English king in Ireland actually begin. Even
then he did not take the conquest in hand himself, but merely sanctioned
a private adventure of some of his subjects. Dermot MacMorrough, king of
Leinster, an unquiet Irish prince who for good reasons had been expelled
by his neighbours, came to Henry's court in Normandy, proffering his
allegiance in return for restoration to his lost dominions. The quarrel
with Becket, and the French war, were both distracting the English king
at the moment. He could not spare attention for the matter, but gave
Dermot leave to enlist auxiliaries among the turbulent barons of the
South Welsh Marches. The Irish exile enlisted first the services of
Maurice Fitzgerald and Robert Fitzstephen, two half-brothers, both noted
fighting men, and afterwards those of Richard de Clare, earl of
Pembroke, an ambitious and impecunious magnate of broken fortunes. The
two barons were promised lands, the earl a greater bribe--the hand of
Dermot's only daughter Eva and the inheritance of the kingdom of
Leinster. Fitzgerald and Fitzstephen crossed to Ireland in 1169 with a
mere handful of followers. But they achieved victories of an almost
incredible completeness over Dermot's enemies. The undisciplined hordes
of the king of Ossory and the Danes of Wexford could not stand before
the Anglo-Norman tactics--the charge of the knights and the arrow-flight
of the archers, skilfully combined by the adventurous invaders. Dermot
was triumphant, and sent for more auxiliaries, aspiring to evict Roderic
O'Connor of Connaught from the precarious throne of High King of
Ireland. In 1170 the earl of Pembroke came over with a larger force,
celebrated his marriage with Dermot's daughter, and commenced a series
of conquests. He took Waterford and Dublin from the Danes, and scattered
the hosts of the native princes. Early in the next spring Dermot died,
and Earl Richard, in virtue of his marriage, claimed the kingship of
Leinster. He held his own, despite the assaults of a great army gathered
by Roderic the High King, and of a viking fleet which came to help the
conquered jarls of Waterford and Dublin. At this moment King Henry
thought it necessary to interfere; if he let more time slip away, Earl
Richard would become a powerful king and forget his English allegiance.
Accordingly, with a large army at his back, he landed at Waterford in
1171 and marched on Dublin. Richard did him homage for Leinster,
engaging to hold it as a palatine earldom, and not to claim the name or
rights of a king. The other adventurers followed his example, as did,
after an interval, most of the native Irish princes. Only Roderic of
Connaught held aloof in his western solitudes, asserting his
independence. The clergy, almost without a murmur, submitted themselves
to the Roman Church.

Such was the first conquest of Ireland, a conquest too facile to be
secure. Four years later it appeared to be completed by the submission
of the king of Connaught, who did homage like the rest of the island
chiefs. But their oaths were as easily broken as made, and the real
subjection of the island was not to be completed for 400 years. What
happened was that the Anglo-Norman invaders pushed gradually west,
occupying the best of the land and holding it down by castles, but
leaving the profitless bogs and mountains to the local princes. The
king's writ only ran in and about Dublin and a few other harbour
fortresses. Inland, the intruding barons and the Irish chiefs fought
perpetually, with varying fortunes. The conquest hardly touched central
and western Ulster, and left half Connaught unsubdued: even in the
immediate vicinity of Dublin the tribes of the Wicklow Hills were never
properly tamed. The English conquest was incomplete; it failed to
introduce either unity or strong governance. After a century and a half
it began to recede rather than to advance. Many of the districts which
had been overrun in the time of the Angevin kings were lost; many of the
Anglo-Norman families intermarried with and became absorbed by the
Irish; they grew as careless of their allegiance to the crown as any of
the native chiefs. The "Lordship of Ireland" was never a reality till
the times of the Tudors. But as long as Henry II. lived this could not
have been foreseen. The first generation of the conquerors pushed their
advance with such vigour that it seemed likely that they would complete
the adventure. (See IRELAND: _History_.)

  Rebellion of Henry's sons.

It was in 1173, the year after his return from Ireland and his
submission to the papal legates at Avranches, that King Henry became
involved in the first of a series of troubles which were to pursue him
for the rest of his life--the rebellions of his graceless sons. His wife
Eleanor of Aquitaine had borne him many children. Henry, the eldest
surviving son, had already been crowned in 1170 as his father's
colleague and successor; not only he, but Richard the second, and
Geoffrey the third son, were now old enough to chafe against the
restraints imposed upon them by an imperious and strong-willed father.
The old king very naturally preferred to keep his dominions united under
his own immediate government, but he had designated his eldest son as
his successor in England and Normandy, while Richard was to have his
mother's heritage of Aquitaine, and Geoffrey's wife's dowry, the duchy
of Brittany, was due to him, now that he had reached the verge of
manhood. The princes were shamelessly eager to enter on their
inheritance, the king was loath to understand that by conferring a
titular sovereignty on his sons he had given them a sort of right to
expect some share of real power. Their grudge against their father was
sedulously fostered by their mother Eleanor, a clever and revengeful
woman, who could never forgive her husband for keeping her in the
background in political matters and insulting her by his frequent
amours. Her old subjects in Aquitaine were secretly encouraged by her to
follow her son Richard against his father, whom the barons of the south
always regarded as an alien and an intruder. The Bretons were equally
willing to rise in the name of Geoffrey and Constance against the
guardian who was keeping their prince too long waiting for his
inheritance. In England the younger Henry had built himself up a party
among the more turbulent section of the baronage, who remembered with
regret and longing the carnival of licence which their fathers had
enjoyed under King Stephen. Secret agreements had also been made with
the kings of France and Scotland, who were eager to take advantage of
the troubles which were about to break out.

In 1173 the plot was complete, and Henry's three elder sons all took
arms against him, collecting Norman, Breton and Gascon rebels in great
numbers, and being backed by a French army. At the same moment the king
of Scots invaded Northumberland, and the earls of Norfolk, Chester and
Leicester rose in the name of the younger Henry. This was in all
essentials a feudal rebellion of the old type. The English barons were
simply desirous of getting rid of the strong and effective governance of
the king, and the alleged wrongs of his sons were an empty excuse. For
precisely the same reason all classes in England, save the more
turbulent section of the baronage, remained faithful to the elder king.
The bureaucracy, the minor landholders, the towns, and the clergy
refused to join in the rising, and lent their aid for its suppression,
because they were unwilling to see anarchy recommence. Hence, though the
rebellious princes made head for a time against their father abroad, the
insurrection of their partisans in England was suppressed without much
difficulty. The justiciar, Richard de Lucy, routed the army of the earl
of Leicester at Fornham in Suffolk, the castles of the rebel earls were
subdued one after another, and William of Scotland was surprised and
captured by a force of northern loyalists while he was besieging Alnwick
(1173-1174). The war lingered on for a space on the continent; but Henry
raised the siege of Rouen, which was being attacked by his eldest son
and the king of France, captured most of Richard's castles in Poitou,
and then received the submission of his undutiful children. Showing
considerable magnanimity, he promised to grant to each of them half the
revenues of the lands in which they were his destined heirs, and a
certain number of castles to hold as their own. Their allies fared less
well; the rebel earls were subjected to heavy fines, and their
strongholds were demolished. The king of Scots was forced to buy his
liberty by doing homage to Henry for the whole of his kingdom. Queen
Eleanor, whom her husband regarded as responsible for the whole
rebellion, was placed in a sort of honourable captivity, or retirement,
and denied her royal state.

Henry appeared completely triumphant; but the fourteen years which he
had yet to live were for the most part to be times of trouble and
frustrated hopes. He was growing old; the indomitable energy of his
early career was beginning to slacken; his dreams of extended empire
were vanishing. In the last period of his life he was more set on
defending what he already enjoyed, and perfecting the details of
administration in his realms, than on taking new adventures in hand.
Probably the consciousness that his dominions would be broken up among
his sons after his death had a disheartening effect upon him. At any
rate his later years bear a considerable resemblance to the
corresponding period of his grandfather's reign. The machinery of
government which the one had sketched out the other completed. Under
Henry II. the circuits of the itinerant justices became regular instead
of intermittent; the judicial functions of the Curia Regis were
delegated to a permanent committee of that body which took form as the
court of king's bench (_Curia Regis in Banco_). The sheriffs were kept
very tightly in hand, and under incessant supervision; once in 1170
nearly the whole body of them were dismissed for misuse of their office.
The shire levies which had served the king so well against the feudal
rebels of 1173 were reorganized, with uniformity of weapons and armour,
by the _Assize of Arms_ of 1181. There was also a considerable amount of
new legislation with the object of protecting the minor subjects of the
crown, and the system of trial by jurors was advanced to the detriment
of the absurd old practices of trial by ordeal and trial by wager of
battle. The 13th-century jury was a rough and primitive institution,
which acted at once as accuser, witness and judge--but it was at any
rate preferable to the chances of the red-hot iron, or the club of the

The best proof that King Henry's orderly if autocratic régime was
appreciated at its true value by his English subjects, is that when the
second series of rebellions raised by his undutiful sons began in 1182,
there was no stir whatever in England, though in Normandy, Brittany and
Aquitaine the barons rose in full force to support the young princes,
whose success would mean the triumph of particularism and the
destruction of the Angevin empire. Among the many troubles which broke
down King Henry's strong will and great bodily vigour in those unhappy
years, rebellion in England was not one. For this reason he was almost
constantly abroad, leaving the administration of the one loyal section
of his realm to his great justiciar. Hence the story of the unnatural
war between father and sons has no part in English history. It is but
necessary to note that the younger Henry died in 1183, that Geoffrey
perished by accident at a tournament in 1186, and that in 1189, when the
old king's strength finally gave out, it was Richard who was leading the
rebellion, to which John, the youngest and least worthy of the four
undutiful sons, was giving secret countenance. It was the discovery of
the treachery of this one child whom he had deemed faithful, and loved
over well, that broke Henry's heart. "Let things go as they will; I have
nothing to care for in the world now," he murmured on his death-bed, and
turned his face to the wall to breathe his last.

  Richard I.

The death of the younger Henry had made Richard heir to all his father's
lands from the Tweed to the Bidassoa save Brittany, which had fallen to
Arthur, the infant son of the unlucky Geoffrey. John, the new king's
only surviving brother, had been declared "Lord of Ireland" by his
father in 1185, but Henry had been forced to remove him for persistent
misconduct, and had left him nothing more than a titular sovereignty in
the newly conquered island. In this Richard confirmed him at his
accession, and gave him a more tangible endowment by allowing him to
marry Isabella, the heiress of the earldom of Gloucester, and by
bestowing on him the honour of Lancaster and the shires of Derby, Devon,
Cornwall and Somerset. The gift was over-liberal and the recipient was
thankless; but John was distinctly treated as a vassal, not granted the
position of an independent sovereign.

Of all the medieval kings of England, Richard I. (known as Coeur de
Lion) cared least for his realm on the English side of the Channel, and
spent least time within it. Though he chanced to have been born in
Oxford, he was far more of a foreigner than his father; his soul was
that of a south French baron, not that of an English king. Indeed he
looked upon England more as a rich area for taxation than as the centre
of a possible empire. His ambitions were continental: so far as he had a
policy at all it was Angevin--he would gladly have increased his
dominions on the side of the upper Loire and Garonne, and was set on
keeping in check the young king of France, Philip Augustus, though the
latter had been his ally during his long struggle with his father.
Naturally the policy of Richard as a newly crowned king was bound to
differ from that which he had pursued as a rebellious prince. As regards
his personal character he has been described, not without truth, as a
typical man of his time and nothing more. He was at heart a chivalrous
adventurer delighting in war for war's sake; he was not destitute of a
conscience--his undutiful conduct to his father sat heavily on his soul
when that father was once dead; he had a strong sense of knightly honour
and a certain magnanimity of soul in times of crisis; but he was harsh,
thriftless, often cruel, generally lacking in firmness and continuity of
purpose, always careless of his subjects' welfare when it interfered
with his pleasure or his ambitions of the moment. If he had stayed long
in England he would have made himself hated; but he was nearly always
absent; it was only as a reckless and spasmodic extorter of taxation,
not as a personal tyrant, that he was known on the English side of the

  The Crusade.

At the opening of his reign Richard had one all-engrossing desire; he
was set on going forth to the Crusade for the recovery of Jerusalem
which had been proclaimed in 1187, partly from chivalrous instincts,
partly as a penance for his misconduct to his father. He visited England
in 1189 only in order to be crowned, and to raise as much money for the
expedition as he could procure. He obtained enormous sums, by the most
unwise and iniquitous expedients, mainly by selling to any buyer that he
could find valuable pieces of crown property, high offices and dangerous
rights and privileges. The king of Scotland bought for 15,000 marks a
release from the homage to the English crown which had been imposed upon
him by Henry II. The chancellorship, one of the two chief offices in
the realm, was sold to William Longchamp, bishop of Ely, for £3000,
though he was well known as a tactless, arrogant and incapable person.
The earldom of Northumberland, with palatine rights, was bought by Hugh
Puiset, bishop of Durham. Countless other instances of unwise bargains
could be quoted. Having raised every penny that he could procure by
legal or illegal means, Richard crossed the Channel, and embarked at
Marseilles with a great army on the 7th of August 1190. The only
security which he had for the safety of his dominions in his absence was
that his most dangerous neighbour, the king of France, was also setting
out on the Crusade, and that his brother John, whose shifty and
treacherous character gave sure promise of trouble, enjoyed a
well-merited unpopularity both in England and in the continental
dominions of the crown.

Richard's crusading exploits have no connexion with the history of
England. He showed himself a good knight and a capable general--the
capture of Acre and the victory of Arsuf were highly to his credit as a
soldier. But he quarrelled with all the other princes of the Crusade,
and showed himself as lacking in tact and diplomatic ability as he was
full of military capacity. The king of France departed in wrath, to
raise trouble at home; the army gradually melted away, the prospect of
recovering Jerusalem disappeared, and finally Richard must be reckoned
fortunate in that he obtained from Sultan Saladin a peace, by which the
coastland of Palestine was preserved for the Christians, while the Holy
City and the inland was sacrificed (Sept. 2, 1192). While returning to
his dominions by the way of the Adriatic, the king was shipwrecked, and
found himself obliged to enter the dominions of Leopold, duke of
Austria, a prince whom he had offended at Acre during the Crusade.
Though he disguised himself, he was detected by his old enemy and
imprisoned. The duke then sold him to the emperor Henry VI., who found
pretexts for forcing him to buy his freedom by the promise of a ransom
of 150,000 marks. It was not till February 1194 that he got loose, after
paying a considerable instalment of this vast sum. The main bulk of it,
as was to be expected, was never made over; indeed it could not have
been raised, as Richard was well aware. But, once free, he had no
scruple in cheating the imperial brigand of his blackmail.

  John's treachery.

For five years Richard was away from his dominions as a crusader or a
captive. There was plenty of trouble during his absence, but less than
might have been expected. The strong governance set up by Henry II.
proved competent to maintain itself, even when Richard's ministers were
tactless and his brother treacherous. A generation before it is certain
that England would have been convulsed by a great feudal rising when
such an opportunity was granted to the barons. Nothing of the kind
happened between 1190 and 1194. The chancellor William Longchamp made
himself odious by his vanity and autocratic behaviour, and was
overthrown in 1191 by a general rising, which was headed by Prince John,
and approved by Walter, archbishop of Rouen, whom Richard had sent to
England with a commission to assume the justiciarship if William should
prove impossible as an administrator. Longchamp fled to the continent,
and John then hoped to seize on supreme power, even perhaps to grasp the
crown. But he was bitterly disappointed to find that he could gather few
supporters; the justiciar and the bureaucrats of the Curia Regis would
give him no assistance; they worked on honestly in the name of the
absent king. Among the baronage hardly a man would commit himself to
treason. In vain John hired foreign mercenaries, garrisoned his castles,
and leagued himself with the king of France when the latter returned
from the Crusade. It was only the news of his brother's captivity in
Austria which gave the intriguing prince a transient hope of success.
Boldly asserting that Richard would never be seen alive again he went to
France, and did homage to King Philip for Normandy and Aquitaine, as if
they were already his own. Then he crossed to England with a band of
mercenaries, and seized Windsor and Wallingford castles. But no one rose
to aid him, and his garrisons were soon being besieged by loyal levies,
headed by the justiciar and by Hubert Walter, the newly elected
archbishop of Canterbury. At the same time King Philip's invasion of
Normandy was repulsed by the barons of the duchy. Richard's faithful
ministers, despite of all their distractions, succeeded in raising the
first instalment of his ransom by grinding taxation--a fourth part of
the revenue of all lay persons, a tithe from ecclesiastical land, was
raised, and in addition much church plate was seized, though the
officials who exacted it were themselves prelates. John and Philip wrote
to the emperor to beg him to detain his captive at all costs, but Henry
VI. pocketed the ransom money and set Richard free. He reached England
in March 1194, just in time to receive the surrender of the last two
castles which were holding out in his treacherous brother's name. With
astonishing, and indeed misplaced, magnanimity, Richard pardoned his
brother, when he made a grovelling submission, and restored him to his
lordship of Ireland and to a great part of his English lands.

The king abode for no more than three months in England; he got himself
recrowned at Winchester, apparently to wipe out the stain of his German
captivity and of an enforced homage which the emperor had extorted from
him. Then he raised a heavy tax from his already impoverished subjects,
sold a number of official posts and departed to France--never to return,
though he had still five years to live. He left behind Archbishop Hubert
Walter as justiciar, a faithful if a somewhat high-handed minister.

Richard's one ruling passion was now to punish Philip of France for his
unfriendly conduct during his absence. He plunged into a war with this
clever and shifty prince, which lasted--with certain short breaks of
truces and treaties--till his death. He wasted his considerable military
talents in a series of skirmishes and sieges which had no great results,
and after spending countless treasures and harrying many regions,
perished obscurely by a wound from a cross-bow-bolt, received while
beleaguering Châlus, a castle of a rebellious lord of Aquitaine, the
viscount of Limoges (April 6, 1199).

  English constitutional development.

During these years of petty strife England was only reminded at
intervals of her king's existence by his intermittent demands for money,
which his ministers did their best to satisfy. The machine of government
continued to work without his supervision. It has been observed that,
from one point of view, England's worst kings have been her best; that
is to say, a sovereign like Richard, who persistently neglected his
duties, was unconsciously the foster father of constitutional liberty.
For his ministers, bureaucrats of an orderly frame of mind, devised for
their own convenience rules and customs which became permanent, and
could be cited against those later kings who interfered more actively in
the details of domestic governance. We may trace back some small
beginnings of a constitution to the time of Henry II.--himself an
absentee though not on the scale of his son. But the ten years of
Richard's reign were much more fruitful in the growth of institutions
which were destined to curb the power of the crown. His justiciars, and
especially Hubert Walter, were responsible for several innovations which
were to have far-spreading results. The most important was an extension
of the use of juries into the province of taxation. When the government
employs committees chosen by the taxpayers to estimate and assess the
details of taxation, it will find it hard to go back to arbitrary
exactions. Such a practice had been first seen when Henry II., in his
last year, allowed the celebrated "Saladin Tithe" for the service of the
crusade to be assessed by local jurors. In Richard's reign the practice
became regular. In especial when England was measured out anew for the
great carucage of 1197--a tax on every ploughland which replaced the
rough calculation of Domesday Book--knights elected by the shires shared
in all the calculations then made for the new impost. Another
constitutional advance was that which substituted "coroners," knights
chosen by the county court, for the king's old factotum the sheriff in
the duty of holding the "pleas of the crown," i.e. in making the
preliminary investigations into such offences as riot, murder or injury
to the king's rights or property. The sheriff's natural impulse was to
indict every man from whom money could be got; the new coroners were
influenced by other motives than financial rapacity, and so were much
more likely to deal equitably with accusations. The towns also profited
in no small degree from Richard's absence and impecuniosity. One of the
most important charters to London, that which granted the city the right
of constituting itself a "commune" and choosing itself a mayor, goes
back to October 1191, the troubled month of Longchamp's expulsion from
England. It was given by Prince John and the ministers, who were then
supporting him against the arrogant chancellor, to secure the adherence
of London. Richard on his return seems to have allowed it to stand.
Lincoln was also given the right of electing its own magistrates in
1194, and many smaller places owe grants of more or less of municipal
privilege to Hubert Walter acting in the name of the absent king. The
English nation began to have some conception of a régime of fixed
custom, in which its rights depended on some other source than the
sovereign's personal caprice. The times, it may be remembered, were not
unprosperous. There had been no serious civil war since the baronial
rising of 1173. Prince John's turbulence had only affected the
neighbourhood of a few royal castles. Despite of the frequent and heavy
demands for money for the king's service, wealth seems to have been
increasing, and prosperity to have been widespread. Strong and regular
governance had on the whole prevailed ever since Henry II. triumphed
over baronial anarchy.


  Accession of John.

Richard's queen, Berengaria of Navarre, had borne him no children. At
the moment of his premature death his nearest kinsmen were his worthless
brother John, and the boy Arthur of Brittany, the heir of Geoffrey, the
third son of Henry II. On his death-bed the king had designated John as
his successor, holding apparently that a bad ruler who was at least a
grown man was preferable to a child. John's claim prevailed both in
Normandy and in England, though in each, as we are told, there were
those who considered it a doubtful point whether an elder brother's son
had not a better right than a younger brother. But the ministers
recognized John, and the baronage and nation acquiesced, though with
little enthusiasm. In the lands farther south, however, matters went
otherwise. The dowager duchess Constance of Brittany raised her son's
claim, and sent an army into Anjou, and all down the Loire many of the
nobles adhered to his cause. The king of France announced that he should
support them, and allowed Arthur to do him homage for Anjou, Maine and
Touraine. There would have been trouble in Aquitaine also, if the aged
Queen Eleanor had not asserted her own primary and indefeasible right to
her ancestral duchy, and then declared that she transferred it to her
best loved son John. Most of her subjects accepted her decision, and
Arthur's faction made no head in this quarter.

  War with Phillip Augustus.

  Loss of Normandy.

It seemed for a space as if the new king would succeed in retaining the
whole of his brother's inheritance, for King Philip very meanly allowed
himself to be bought off by the cession of the county of Evreux, and,
when his troops were withdrawn, the Angevin rebels were beaten down, and
the duchess of Brittany had to ask for peace for her son. But it had not
long been granted, when John proceeded to throw away his advantage by
acts of reckless impolicy. Though cunning, he was destitute alike of
foresight and of self-control; he could never discern the way in which
his conduct would be judged by other men, because he lacked even the
rudiments of a conscience. Ere he had been many months on the throne he
divorced his wife, Isabella of Gloucester, alleging that their marriage
had been illegal because they were within the prohibited degrees. This
act offended the English barons, but in choosing a new queen John gave
much greater offence abroad; he carried off Isabella of Angoulême from
her affianced husband, Hugh of Lusignan, the son of the count of la
Marche, his greatest vassal in northern Aquitaine, and married her
despite the precontract. This seems to have been an amorous freak, not
the result of any deep-laid policy. Roused by the insult the Lusignans
took arms, and a great part of the barons of Poitou joined them. They
appealed for aid to Philip of France, who judged it opportune to
intervene once more. He summoned John to appear before him as suzerain,
to answer the complaints of his Poitevin subjects, and when he failed to
plead declared war on him and declared his dominions escheated to the
French crown for non-fulfilment of his feudal allegiance. He enlisted
Arthur of Brittany in his cause by recognizing him once more as the
rightful owner of all John's continental fiefs save Normandy, which he
intended to take for himself. Philip then entered Normandy, while Arthur
led a Breton force into Anjou and Poitou to aid the Lusignans. The
fortune of war at first turned in favour of the English king. He
surprised his nephew while he was besieging the castle of Mirebeau in
Poitou, where the old Queen Eleanor was residing. The young duke and
most of his chief supporters were taken prisoners (August 1, 1202).
Instead of using his advantage aright, John put Arthur in secret
confinement, and after some months caused him to be murdered. He is said
also to have starved to death twenty-two knights of Poitou who had been
among his captives. The assassination of his nearest kinsman, a mere boy
of sixteen, was as unwise as it was cruel. It estranged from the king
the hearts of all his French subjects, who were already sufficiently
disgusted by many minor acts of brutality, as well as by incessant
arbitrary taxation and by the reckless ravages in which John's mercenary
troops had been indulging. The French armies met with little or no
resistance when they invaded Normandy, Anjou and Poitou. John sat inert
at Rouen, pretending to take his misfortunes lightly, and boasting that
"what was easily lost could be as easily won back." Meanwhile Philip
Augustus conquered all western Normandy, without having to fight a
battle. The great castle of Château Gaillard, which guards the Lower
Seine, was the only place which made a strenuous resistance. It was
finally taken by assault, despite of the efforts of the gallant
castellan, Roger de Lacy, constable of Chester, who had made head
against the besiegers for six months (September 1203-March 1204) without
receiving any assistance from his master. John finally absconded to
England in December 1203; he failed to return with an army of relief, as
he had promised, and before the summer of 1204 was over, Caen, Bayeux
and Rouen, the last places that held out for him, had been forced to
open their gates. The Norman barons had refused to strike a blow for
John, and the cities had shown but a very passive and precarious loyalty
to him. He had made himself so well hated by his cruelty and vices that
the Normans, forgetting their old hatred of France, had acquiesced in
the conquest. Two ties alone had for the last century held the duchy to
the English connexion: the one was that many Norman baronial families
held lands on this side of the Channel; the second was the national
pride which looked upon England as a conquered appendage of Normandy.
But the first had grown weaker as the custom arose of dividing family
estates between brothers, on the principle that one should take the
Norman, the other the English parts of a paternal heritage. By John's
time there were comparatively few landholders whose interests were
fairly divided between the duchy and the kingdom. Such as survived had
now to choose between losing the one or the other section of their
lands; those whose holding was mainly Norman adhered to Philip; those
who had more land in England sacrificed their transmarine estates. For
each of the two kings declared the property of the barons who did not
support him confiscated to the crown. As to the old Norman theory that
England was a conquered land, it had gradually ceased to exist as an
operative force, under kings who, like Henry II. or Richard I., were
neither Norman nor English in feeling, but Angevin. John did not, and
could not, appeal as a Norman prince to Norman patriotism.

  Loss of Anjou, Touraine and Poitou.

The successes of Philip Augustus did not cease with the conquest of
Normandy. His armies pushed forward in the south also; Anjou, Touraine
and nearly all Poitou submitted to him. Only Guienne and southern
Aquitaine held out for King John, partly because they preferred a weak
and distant master to such a strenuous and grasping prince as King
Philip, partly because they were far more alien in blood and language to
their French neighbours than were Normans or Angevins. The Gascons were
practically a separate nationality, and the house of Capet had no
ancient connexion with them. The kings of England were yet to reign at
Bordeaux and Bayonne for two hundred and fifty years. But the connexion
with Gascony meant little compared with the now vanished connexion with
Normandy. Henry I. or Henry II. could run over to his continental
dominions in a day or two days; Dieppe and Harfleur were close to
Portsmouth and Hastings. It was a different thing for John and his
successors to undertake the long voyage to Bordeaux, around the stormy
headlands of Brittany and across the Bay of Biscay. Visits to their
continental dominions had to be few and far between; they were long,
costly and dangerous when a French fleet--a thing never seen before
Philip Augustus conquered Normandy--might be roaming in the Channel. The
kings of England became perforce much more home-keeping sovereigns after

It was certainly not a boon for England that her present sovereign was
destined to remain within her borders for the greater part of his
remaining years. To know John well was to loathe him, as every
contemporary chronicle bears witness. The two years that followed the
loss of Normandy were a time of growing discontent and incessant
disputes about taxation. The king kept collecting scutages and tallages,
yet barons and towns complained that nothing seemed to be done with the
money he collected. At last, however, in 1206, the king did make an
expedition to Poitou, and recovered some of its southern borders. Yet,
with his usual inconsequence, he did not follow up his success, but made
a two years' truce with Philip of France on the basis of _uti
possidetis_--which left Normandy and all the territories on and about
the Loire in the hands of the conqueror.

  Quarrel with the Papacy.

It is probable that this pacification was the result of a new quarrel
which John had just taken up with a new enemy--the Papacy. The dispute
on the question of free election, which was to range over all the
central years of his reign, had just begun. In the end of 1205 Hubert
Walter, archbishop of Canterbury, had died. The king announced his
intention of procuring the election of John de Gray, bishop of Norwich,
as his successor; but, though his purpose was well known, the chapter
(i.e. the monks of Christ Church, Canterbury) met secretly and elected
their sub-prior Reginald as archbishop. They sent him to Rome at once,
to receive confirmation from Pope Innocent III., whom they knew to be a
zealous champion of the rights of the Church. But John descended upon
them in great wrath, and by threats compelled them to hold a second
meeting, and to elect his nominee Gray, in whose name application for
confirmation was also made to the pope. Innocent, however, seeing a
splendid chance of asserting his authority, declared both the elections
that had taken place invalid, the first because it had been clandestine,
the second because it had been held under _force majeure_, and proceeded
to nominate a friend of his own--Cardinal Stephen Langton, an Englishman
of proved capacity and blameless life, then resident in Rome. He was far
the worthiest of the three candidates, but it was an intolerable
invasion of the rights of the English crown and the English Church that
an archbishop should be foisted on them in this fashion. The
representatives of the chapter who had been sent to Rome were persuaded
or compelled to elect him in the pope's presence (Dec. 1206).

King John was furious, and not without good reason; he refused to accept
Langton, whom he declared (quite unjustly) to be a secret friend of
Philip of France, and sequestrated the lands of the monks of Canterbury.
On this the pope threatened to lay an interdict on himself and his
realm. The king replied by issuing a proclamation to the effect that he
would outlaw any clerk who should accept the validity of such an
interdict and would confiscate his lands. Despising such threats
Innocent carried out his threat, and put England under the ban of the
Church on the 23rd of March 1208.

In obedience to the pope's orders the large majority of the English
clergy closed their churches, and suspended the ordinary course of the
services and celebration of the sacraments. Baptism and extreme unction
only were continued, lest souls should be lost; and marriages were
permitted but not inside the walls of churches. Foreseeing the wrath of
the king against all who obeyed the mandate from Rome, the larger number
of the bishops and many others of the higher clergy fled overseas to
escape the storm. Those who were bold enough to remain behind had much
to endure. John, openly rejoicing at the plunder that lay before him,
declared the temporalities of all who had accepted the interdict,
whether they had exiled themselves or no, to be confiscated. His
treasury was soon so well filled that he could dispense with ordinary
taxation. He also outlawed the whole body of the clergy, save the timid
remnant who promised to disregard the papal commands.

  Character of John's rule.

Nothing proves more conclusively the strength of the Angevin monarchy,
and the decreasing power of feudalism, than that an unpopular king like
John could maintain his strife with the pope, and suppress the
discontents of his subjects, for nearly five years before the inevitable
explosion came. Probably his long immunity was due in the main to the
capacity of his strong-handed justiciar Geoffrey Fitz-Peter; the king
hated him bitterly, but generally took his advice. The crash only came
when Geoffrey died in 1213; his ungrateful master only expressed joy.
"Now by God's feet am I for the first time king of England," he
exclaimed, when the news reached him. He proceeded to fill the vacancy
with a mere Poitevin adventurer, Peter des Roches, whom he had made
bishop of Winchester some time before. Indeed John's few trusted
confidants were nearly all foreigners, such men as the mercenary
captains Gerard of Athies and Engelhart of Cigogné, whom he made
sheriffs and castellans to the discontent of all Englishmen. He spent
all his money in maintaining bands of hired _Brabançons_ and _routiers_,
by whose aid he for some time succeeded in terrorizing the countryside.
There were a few preliminary outbreaks of rebellion, which were
suppressed with vigour and punished with horrible cruelty. John starved
to death the wife and son of William de Braose, the first baron who took
arms against him, and hanged in a row twenty-eight young boys, hostages
for the fidelity of their fathers, Welsh princes who had dabbled in
treason. Such acts provoked rage as well as fear, yet the measure of
John's iniquities was not full till 1212. Indeed for some time his
persistent prosperity provoked the indignant surprise of those who
believed him to be under a curse. If his renewed war with Philip of
France was generally unsuccessful, yet at home he held his own. The most
astounding instance of his success is that in 1210 he found leisure for
a hasty expedition to Ireland, where he compelled rebellious barons to
do homage, and received the submission of more than twenty of the local
kinglets. It is strange that he came back to find England undisturbed
behind him.

  John does homage to the pope.

His long-deserved humiliation only began in the winter of 1212-1213,
when Innocent III., finding him so utterly callous as to the interdict,
took the further step of declaring him deposed from the throne for
contumacy, and handing over the execution of the penalty to the king of
France. This act provoked a certain amount of indignation in England,
and in the spring of 1213 the king was able to collect a large army on
Barham Down to resist the threatened French invasion. Yet so many of his
subjects were discontented that he dared not trust himself to the
chances of war, and, when the fleet of King Philip was ready to sail, he
surprised the world by making a sudden and grovelling submission to the
pope. Not only did he agree to receive Stephen Langton as archbishop, to
restore all the exiled clergy to their benefices, and to pay them
handsome compensation for all their losses during the last five years,
but he took the strange and ignominious step of declaring that he ceded
his whole kingdom to the pope, to hold as his vassal. He formally
resigned his crown into the hands of the legate Cardinal Pandulf, and
took it back as the pope's vassal, engaging at the same time to pay a
tribute of 1000 marks a year for England and Ireland. This was felt to
be a humiliating transaction by many of John's subjects, though to
others the joy at reconciliation with the Church caused all else to be
forgotten. The political effect of the device was all that John had
desired. His new suzerain took him under his protection, and forbade
Philip of France to proceed with his projected invasion, though ships
and men were all ready (May 1213). John's safety, however, was secured
in a more practical way when his bastard brother, William Longsword,
earl of Salisbury, made a descent on the port of Damme and burnt or sunk
a whole squadron of the French transports. After this John's spirits
rose, and he talked of crossing the seas himself to recover Normandy and
Anjou. But he soon found that his subjects were not inclined to follow
him; they were resigned to the loss of the Angevin heritage, whose union
with England brought no profit to them, however much it might interest
their king. The barons expressed their wish for a peace with France, and
when summoned to produce their feudal contingents pleaded poverty, and
raised a rather shallow theory to the effect that their services could
not be asked for wars beyond seas--against which there were conclusive
precedents in the reigns of Henry I. and Henry II. But any plea can be
raised against an unpopular king. John found himself obliged to turn
back, since hardly a man save his mercenaries had rallied to his
standard at Portsmouth. In great anger and indignation he marched off
towards the north, with his hired soldiery, swearing to punish the
barons who had taken the lead in the "strike" which had defeated his
purpose. But the outbreak of war was to be deferred for a space.
Archbishop Langton, who on assuming possession of his see had shown at
once that he was a patriotic English statesman, and not the mere
delegate of the pope, besought his master to hold back, and, when he
refused, threatened to renew the excommunication which had so lately
been removed. The old justiciar Geoffrey Fitz-Peter, now on his
death-bed, had also refused to pronounce sentence on the defaulters.
John hesitated, and meanwhile his enemies began to organize their

  Opposition of the barons.

A great landmark in the constitutional history of England was reached
when Langton assembled the leading barons, rehearsed to them the charter
issued by Henry I. on his accession, and pointed out to them the rights
and liberties therein promised by the crown to the nation. For the
future they agreed to take this document as their programme of demands.
It was the first of the many occasions in English history when the
demand for reform took the shape of a reference back to old precedents,
and now (as on all subsequent occasions) the party which opposed the
crown read back into the ancient grants which they quoted a good deal
more than had been actually conceded in them. To Langton and the barons
the charter of Henry I. seemed to cover all the customs and practices
which had grown up under the rule of the bureaucracy which had served
Henry II. and Richard I. A correct historical perspective could hardly
be expected from men whose constitutional knowledge only ran back as far
as the memory of themselves and their fathers. The Great Charter of 1215
was a commentary on, rather than a reproduction of, the old accession
pledges of Henry I.

  Alliance against France.

  Battle of Bouvines.

Meanwhile John, leaving his barons to discuss and formulate their
grievances, pushed on with a great scheme of foreign alliances, by which
he hoped to crush Philip of France, even though the aid of the feudal
levies of England was denied him. He leagued himself with his nephew the
emperor Otto IV. (his sister's son), and the counts of Flanders and
Boulogne, with many other princes of the Netherlands. Their plan was
that John should land in Poitou and distract the attention of the French
by a raid up the Loire, while the emperor and his vassals should
secretly mobilize a great army in Brabant and make a sudden dash at
Paris. The scheme was not destitute of practical ability, and if it had
been duly carried out would have placed France in such a crisis of
danger as she has seldom known. It was not John's fault that the
campaign failed. He sent the earl of Salisbury with some of his
mercenaries to join the confederates in Flanders, while he sailed with
the main body of them to La Rochelle, whence he marched northward,
devastating the land before him. Philip came out to meet him with the
whole levy of France (April 1214), and Paris would have been left
exposed if Otto and his Netherland vassals had struck promptly in. But
the emperor was late, and by the time that he was approaching the French
frontier Philip Augustus had discovered that John's invasion was but a
feint, executed by an army too weak to do much harm. Leaving a small
containing force on the Loire in face of the English king, Philip
hurried to the north with his main army, and on the 27th of July 1214
inflicted a crushing defeat on the emperor and his allies at Bouvines
near Lille. This was the greatest victory of the French medieval
monarchy. It broke up the Anglo-German alliance, and gave the conqueror
undisturbed possession of all that he had won from the Angevin house and
his other enemies.

  Magna Carta.

Indirectly Bouvines was almost as important in the history of England as
in that of France. John returned to England foiled, and in great anger;
he resolved to give up the French war, secured a truce with King Philip
by abandoning his attempt to reconquer his lost lands on the Loire, and
turned to attack the recalcitrant subjects who had refused to join him
in his late campaign beyond the Channel. Matters soon came to a head: on
hearing that the king was mobilizing his mercenary bands, the barons met
at Bury St Edmunds, and leagued themselves by an oath to obtain from the
king a confirmation of the charter of Henry I. (November 1214). At the
New Year they sent him a formal ultimatum, to which he would not assent,
though he opened up futile negotiation with them through the channel of
the archbishop, who did not take an open part in the rising. At Easter,
nothing having been yet obtained from the king, an army headed by five
earls, forty barons, and Giles Braose, bishop of Hereford, mustered at
Stamford and marched on London. Their captain was Robert FitzWalter,
whom they had named "marshal of the army of God and Holy Church." When
they reached the capital its gates were thrown open to them, and the
mayor and citizens adhered to their cause (May 17). The king, who had
tried to turn them back by taking the cross and declaring himself a
crusader, and by making loud appeals for the arbitration of the pope,
was forced to retire to Windsor. He found that he had no supporters save
a handful of courtiers and officials and the leaders of his mercenary
bands; wherefore in despair he accepted the terms forced upon him by the
insurgents. On the 15th of June 1215 he sealed at Runnymede, close to
Windsor, the famous _Magna Carta_, in face of a vast assembly among
which he had hardly a single friend. It is a long document of 63
clauses, in which Archbishop Langton and a committee of the barons had
endeavoured to recapitulate all their grievances, and to obtain redress
for them. Some of the clauses are unimportant concessions to
individuals, or deal with matters of trifling importance--such as the
celebrated weirs or "kiddles" on Thames and Medway, or the expulsion of
the condottieri chiefs Gerard d'Athies and Engelhart de Cigogné. But
many of them are matters of primary importance in the constitutional
history of England. The Great Charter must not, however, be overrated as
an expression of general constitutional rights; to a large extent it is
a mere recapitulation of the claims of the baronage, and gives redress
for their feudal grievances in the matters of aids, reliefs, wardships,
&c., its object being the repression of arbitrary exactions by the king
on his tenants-in-chief. One section, that which provides against the
further encroachments of the king's courts on the private manorial
courts of the landowners, might even be regarded as retrograde in
character from the point of view of administrative efficacy. But it is
most noteworthy that the barons, while providing for the abolition of
abuses which affect themselves, show an unselfish and patriotic spirit
in laying down the rule that all the concessions which the king makes to
them shall also be extended by themselves to their own sub-tenants. The
clauses dealing with the general governance of the realm are also as
enlightened as could be expected from the character of the committee
which drafted the charter. There is to be no taxation without the
consent of the Great Council of the Realm--which is to consist of all
barons, who are to be summoned by individual units; and of all smaller
tenants-in-chief, who are to be called not by separate letters, but by a
general notice published by the sheriff. It has been pointed out that
this provides no representation for sub-tenants or the rest of the
nation, so that we are still far from the ideal of a representative
parliament. John himself had gone a step farther on the road towards
that ideal when in 1213 he had summoned four "discreet men" from every
shire to a council at Oxford, which (as it appears) was never held. But
this would seem to have been a vain bid for popularity with the middle
classes, which had no result at the time, and the barons preferred to
keep things in their own hands, and to abide by ancient precedents. It
was to be some forty years later that the first appearance of elected
shire representatives at the Great Council took place. In 1215 the
control of the subjects over the crown in the matter of taxation is
reserved entirely for the tenants-in-chief, great and small.

There is less qualified praise to be bestowed on the clauses of Magna
Carta which deal with justice. The royal courts are no longer to attend
the king's person--a vexatious practice when sovereigns were always on
the move, and litigants and witnesses had to follow them from manor to
manor--but are to be fixed at Westminster. General rules of indisputable
equity are fixed for the conduct of the courts--no man is to be tried or
punished more than once for the same offence; no one is to be arrested
and kept in prison without trial; all arrested persons are to be sent
before the courts within a reasonable time, and to be tried by a jury of
their peers. Fines imposed on unsuccessful litigants are to be
calculated according to the measure of their offence, and are not to be
arbitrary penalties raised or lowered at the king's good pleasure
according to the sum that he imagined that the offender could be induced
to pay. No foreigners or other persons ignorant of the laws of England
are to be entrusted with judicial or administrative offices.

There is only a single clause dealing with the grievances of the English
Church, although Archbishop Langton had been the principal adviser in
the drafting of the whole document. This clause, "that the English
church shall be free," was, however, sufficiently broad to cover all
demands. The reason that Langton did not descend to details was that the
king had already conceded the right of free canonical election and the
other claims of the clerical order in a separate charter, so that there
was no need to discuss them at length.

The special clauses for the benefit of the city of London were
undoubtedly inserted as a tribute of gratitude on the part of the barons
for the readiness which the citizens had shown in adhering to their
cause. There are other sections for the benefit of the commons in
general, such as that which gives merchants full right of leaving or
entering the realm with their goods on payment of the fixed ancient
custom dues. But these clauses are less numerous than might have been
expected--the framers of the document were, after all, barons and not

The most surprising part of the Great Charter to modern eyes is its
sixty-first paragraph, that which openly states doubts as to the king's
intention to abide by his promise, and appoints a committee of
twenty-five guardians of the charter (twenty-four barons and the mayor
of London), who are to coerce their master, by force of arms if
necessary, to observe every one of its clauses. The twenty-five were to
hear and decide upon any claims and complaints preferred against the
king, and to keep up their numbers by co-optation, so that it would seem
that the barons intended to keep a permanent watch upon the crown. The
clause seems unnecessarily harsh and violent in its wording; but it must
be remembered that John's character was well known, and that it was
useless to stand on forms of politeness when dealing with him. It seems
certain that the drafters of the charter were honest in their
intentions, and did not purpose to set up a feudal oligarchy in the
place of a royal autocracy. They were only insisting on the maintenance
of what they believed to be the ancient and laudable customs of the

That the barons were right to suspect John is sufficiently shown by his
subsequent conduct. His pretence of keeping his promise lasted less
than two months; by August 1215 he was already secretly collecting money
and hiring more mercenaries. He wrote to Rome to beg the pope to annul
the charter, stating that all his troubles had come upon him in
consequence of his dutiful conduct to the Holy See. He also stated that
he had taken the cross as a crusader, but could not sail to Palestine as
long as his subjects were putting him in restraint. Innocent III. at
once took the hint; in September Archbishop Langton was suspended for
disobedience to papal commands, and the charter was declared
uncanonical, null and void. The "troublers of the king and kingdom" were
declared excommunicate.

  Civil War.

  Death of John.

Langton departed at once to Rome, to endeavour to turn the heart of his
former patron, a task in which he utterly failed. Many of the clergy who
had hitherto supported the baronial cause drew back in dismay at the
pope's attitude. But the laymen were resolute, and prepared for open
war, which broke out in October 1215. The king, who had already gathered
in many mercenaries, gained the first advantage by capturing Rochester
Castle before the army of the barons was assembled. So formidable did he
appear to them for the moment that they took the deplorable step of
inviting the foreign foe to join in the struggle. Declaring John deposed
because he had broken his oath to observe the charter, they offered the
crown to Louis of France, the son of King Philip, because he had married
John's niece Blanche of Castile and could assert in her right a claim to
the throne. This was a most unhappy inspiration, and drove into
neutrality or even into the king's camp many who had previously inclined
to the party of reform. But John did his best to disgust his followers
by adopting the policy of carrying out fierce and purposeless raids of
devastation all through the countryside, while refusing to face his
enemies in a pitched battle. He bore himself like a captain of banditti
rather than a king in his own country. Presently, when the French prince
came over with a considerable army to join the insurgent barons, he
retired northward, leaving London and the home counties to his rival. In
all the south country only Dover and Windsor castles held out for him.
His sole success was that he raised the siege of Lincoln by driving off
a detachment of the baronial army which was besieging it. Soon after,
while marching from Lynn towards Wisbeach, he was surprised by the tide
in the fords of the Wash and lost part of his army and all his baggage
and treasure. Next day he fell ill of rage and vexation of spirit,
contracted a dysenteric ailment, and died a week later at Newark (Oct.
19, 1216). It was the best service that he could do his kingdom. Owing
to the unwise and unpatriotic conduct of the barons in summoning over
Louis of France to their aid, John had become in some sort the
representative of national independence. Yet he was so frankly
impossible as a ruler that, save the earls of Pembroke and Chester, all
his English followers had left him, and he had no one to back him but
the papal legate Gualo and a band of foreign mercenaries. When once he
was dead, and his heritage fell to his nine-year-old son Henry III.,
whom none could make responsible for his father's doings, the whole
aspect of affairs was changed.

  Henry III.

The aged William Marshal, earl of Pembroke, by far the most important
and respectable personage who had adhered to John's cause, assumed the
position of regent. He at once offered in the name of the young king
pardon and oblivion of offences to all the insurgent barons. At the same
time he reissued the Great Charter, containing all the important
concessions which John had made at Runnymede, save that which gave the
control of taxation to the tenants-in-chief. Despite this and certain
other smaller omissions, it was a document which would satisfy most
subjects of the crown, if only it were faithfully observed. The youth of
the king and the good reputation of the earl marshal were a sufficient
guarantee that, for some years at any rate, an honest attempt would be
made to redeem the pledge. Very soon the barons began to return to their
allegiance, or at least to slacken in their support of Louis, who had
given much offence by his openly displayed distrust of his partisans
and his undisguised preference for his French followers. The papal
influence was at the same time employed in the cause of King Henry, and
Philip of France was forced to abandon open support of his son, though
he naturally continued to give him secret help and to send him succours
of men and money.

  Battle of Lincoln.

The fortune of war, however, did not turn without a battle. At Lincoln,
on the 20th of May 1217, the marshal completely defeated an Anglo-French
army commanded by the count of Perche and the earls of Winchester and
Hereford. The former was slain, the other two taken prisoners, with more
than 300 knights and barons. This was the death-blow to the cause of
Louis of France; when it was followed up by the defeat in the Dover
Straits of a fleet which was bringing him reinforcements (Aug. 17), he
despaired of success and asked for terms. By the treaty of Lambeth
(Sept. 11, 1217) he secured an amnesty for all his followers and an
indemnity of 10,000 marks for himself. Less than a month later he
quitted England; the victorious royalists celebrated his departure by a
second reissue of the Great Charter, which contained some new clauses
favourable to the baronial interest.

After the departure of Prince Louis and his foreigners the earl marshal
had to take up much the same task that had fallen to Henry II. in 1154.
Now, as at the death of Stephen, the realm was full of "adulterine
castles," of bands of robbers who had cloaked their plundering under the
pretence of loyal service to the king or the French prince, and of local
magnates who had usurped the prerogatives of royalty, each in his own
district. It was some years before peace and order were restored in the
realm, and the aged Pembroke died in 1219 before his work was completed.
After his decease the conduct of the government passed into the hands of
the justiciar Hubert de Burgh, and the papal legate Pandulf, to whom the
marshal had specially recommended the young king. Their worst enemies
were those who during the civil war had been their best friends, the
mercenary captains and upstart knights whom John had made sheriffs and
castellans. From 1219 to 1224 de Burgh was constantly occupied in
evicting the old loyalists from castles which they had seized or offices
which they had disgraced. In several cases it was necessary to mobilize
an army against a recalcitrant magnate. The most troublesome of them was
Falkes de Breauté, the most famous of King John's foreign _condottieri_,
whose minions held Bedford castle against the justiciar and the whole
shire levy of eastern England for nearly two months in 1224. The castle
was taken and eighty men-at-arms hanged on its surrender, but Falkes
escaped with his life and fled to France. It was not till this severe
lesson had been inflicted on the faction of disorder that the
pacification of England could be considered complete.

The fifty-six years' reign of Henry III. forms one of the periods during
which the mere chronicle of events may seem tedious and trivial, yet the
movement of national life and constitutional progress was very
important. Except during the stirring epoch 1258-1265 there was little
that was dramatic or striking in the events of the reign. Yet the
England of 1272 was widely different from the England of 1216. The
futile and thriftless yet busy and self-important king was one of those
sovereigns who irritate their subjects into opposition by injudicious
activity. He was not a ruffian or a tyrant like his father, and had
indeed not a few of the domestic virtues. But he was constitutionally
incapable of keeping a promise or paying a debt. Not being strong-handed
or capable, he could never face criticism nor suppress discontent by
force, as a king of the type of Henry I. or Henry II. would have done.
He generally gave way when pressed, without attempting an appeal to
arms; he would then swear an oath to observe the Great Charter, and be
detected in violating it again within a few months. His greatest fault
in the eyes of his subjects was his love of foreigners; since John had
lost Normandy the English baronage had become as national in spirit as
the commons. The old Anglo-Norman houses had forgotten the tradition of
their origin, and now formed but a small section of the aristocracy; the
newer families, sprung from the officials of the first two Henries, had
always been English in spirit. Unfortunately for himself the third
Henry inherited the continental cosmopolitanism of his Angevin
ancestors, and found himself confronted with a nation which was growing
ever more and more insular in its ideals. He had all the ambitions of
his grandfather Henry II.; his dreams were of shattering the
newly-formed kingdom of France, the creation of Philip Augustus, and of
recovering all the lost lands of his forefathers on the Seine and Loire.
Occasionally his views grew yet wider--he would knit up alliances all
over Christendom and dominate the West. Nothing could have been wilder
and more unpractical than the scheme on which he set his heart in
1255-1257, a plan for conquering Naples and Sicily for his second son.
Moreover it was a great hindrance to him that he was a consistent friend
and supporter of the papacy. He had never forgotten the services of the
legates Pandulf and Gualo to himself and his father, and was always
ready to lend his aid to the political schemes of the popes, even when
it was difficult to see that any English interests were involved in
them. His designs, which were always shifting from point to point of the
continent, did not appeal in the least to his subjects, who took little
interest in Poitou or Touraine, and none whatever in Italy. After the
troubled times which had lasted from 1214 to 1224 they desired nothing
more than peace, quietness and good governance. They had no wish to
furnish their master with taxation for French wars, or to follow his
banner to distant Aquitaine. But most of all did they dislike his
practice of flooding England with strangers from beyond seas, for whom
offices and endowments had to be found. The moment that he had got rid
of the honest and capable old justiciar Hubert de Burgh, who had
pacified the country during his minority, and set the machinery of
government once more in regular order, Henry gave himself over to
fostering horde after horde of foreign favourites. There was first his
Poitevin chancellor, Peter des Roches, bishop of Winchester, with a
numerous band of his relations and dependents. As a sample of the king's
methods it may be mentioned that he once made over nineteen of the
thirty-five sheriffdoms, within a fortnight, to Peter of Rivaux, a
nephew of the chancellor. Des Roches was driven from office after two
years (1234), and his friends and relatives fell with him. But they were
only the earliest of the king's alien favourites; quite as greedy were
the second family of his mother, Isabella of Angoulême, who after King
John's death had married her old betrothed, Hugh of Lusignan. Henry
secured great English marriages for three of them, and made the fourth,
Aymer, bishop of Winchester. Their kinsmen and dependents were equally
welcomed. Even more numerous and no less expensive to the realm were the
Provençal and Savoyard relatives of Henry's queen, Eleanor of Provence.
The king made one of her uncles, Boniface of Savoy, archbishop of
Canterbury--it was three years before he deigned to come over to take up
the post, and then he was discovered to be illiterate and unclerical in
his habits, an unworthy successor for Langton and Edmund of Abingdon,
the great primates who went before him. Peter of Savoy, another uncle,
was perhaps the most shameless of all the beggars for the king's bounty;
not only was he made earl of Richmond, but his debts were repeatedly
paid and great sums were given him to help his continental adventures.

  Simon de Monfort.

King Henry's personal rule lasted from 1232, the year in which he
deprived Hubert de Burgh of his justiciarship and confiscated most of
his lands, down to 1258. It was thriftless, arbitrary, and lacking in
continuity of policy, yet not tyrannical or cruel. If he had been a
worse man he would have been put under control long before by his
irritated subjects. All through these twenty-six years he was being
opposed and criticised by a party which embraced the wisest and most
patriotic section of the baronage and the hierarchy. It numbered among
its leaders the good archbishop, Edmund of Abingdon, and Robert
Grosseteste, the active and learned bishop of Lincoln; it was not
infrequently aided by the king's brother Richard, earl of Cornwall, who
did not share Henry's blind admiration for his foreign relatives. But it
only found its permanent guiding spirit somewhat late in the reign, when
Simon de Montfort, earl of Leicester, became the habitual mouthpiece of
the grievances of the nation. The great earl had, oddly enough,
commenced his career as one of the king's foreign favourites. He was the
grandson of Amicia, countess of Leicester, but his father, Simon the
Elder, a magnate whose French interests were greater than his English,
had adhered to the cause of Philip Augustus in the days of King John and
the Leicester estates had been confiscated. Simon, reared as a
Frenchman, came over in 1230 to petition for their restoration. He not
only obtained it, but to the great indignation of the English baronage
married the king's sister Eleanor in 1238. For some time he was in high
favour with his brother-in-law, and was looked upon by the English as no
better than Aymer de Valence or Peter of Savoy. But he quarrelled with
the fickle king, and adhered ere long to the party of opposition. A long
experience of his character and actions convinced barons and commons
alike that he was a just and sincere man, a friend of good governance,
and an honest opponent of arbitrary and unconstitutional rule. He had
become such a thorough Englishman in his views and prejudices, that by
1250 he was esteemed the natural exponent of all the wrongs of the
realm. He was austere and religious; many of his closest friends were
among the more saintly of the national clergy. By the end of his life
the man who had started as the king's unpopular minion was known as
"Earl Simon the Righteous," and had become the respected leader of the
national opposition to his royal brother-in-law.

  Condition of England under Henry III.

  Beginnings of Parliament.

Though Henry's taxes were vexatious and never-ending, though his
subservience to the pope and his flighty interference in foreign
politics were ever irritating the magnates and the people, and though
outbreaks of turbulence were not unknown during his long period of
personal rule, it would yet be a mistake to regard the central years of
the 13th century as an unprosperous period for England. Indeed it would
be more correct to regard the period as one of steady national
development in wealth, culture and unity. The towns were growing fast,
and extending their municipal liberties; the necessities of John and the
facile carelessness of Henry led to the grant of innumerable charters
and privileges. As was to be seen again during the first period of the
reign of Charles I., political irritation is not incompatible either
with increasing material prosperity or with great intellectual
development. The king's futile activity led to ever more frequent
gatherings of the Great Council, in which the theory of the constitution
was gradually hammered out by countless debates between the sovereign
and his subjects. Every time that Henry confirmed the Great Charter, the
fact that England was already a limited monarchy became more evident. It
is curious to find that--like his father John--he himself contributed
unconsciously to advances towards representative government. John's writ
of 1213, bidding "discreet men" from each shire to present themselves at
Oxford, found its parallel in another writ of 1253 which bids four
knightly delegates from each county to appear along with the
tenants-in-chief, for the purpose of discussing the king's needs. When
county members begin to present themselves along with the barons at the
national assembly, the conception of parliament is already reached. And
indeed we may note that the precise word "parliament" first appears in
the chroniclers and in official documents about the middle of Henry's
reign. By its end the term is universally acknowledged and employed.

  Intellectual life.

We may discern during these same years a great intellectual activity.
This was the time of rapid development in the universities, where not
only were the scholastic philosophy and systematic theology eagerly
studied, but figures appear like that of the great Roger Bacon, a
scientific researcher of the first rank, whose discoveries in optics and
chemistry caused his contemporaries to suspect him of magical arts. His
teaching at Oxford in 1250-1257 fell precisely into the years of the
worst misgovernance of Henry III. It was the same with law, an
essentially 13th-century study; it was just in this age that the
conception of law as something not depending on the pleasure of the
king, nor compiled from mere collected ancestral customs, but existing
as a logical entity, became generally prevalent. The feeling is
thoroughly well expressed by the partisan of Montfort who wrote in his
jingling Latin verse:--

  "Dicitur vulgariter 'ut rex vult lex vadit':
   Veritas vult aliter: nam lex stat, rex cadit."

Law has become something greater than, and independent of, royal
caprice. The great lawyers of the day, of whom Bracton is the most
celebrated name, were spinning theories of its origin and development,
studying Roman precedents, and turning the medley of half-understood
Saxon and Norman customs into a system.

  Religious life: the friars.

Intellectual growth was accompanied by great religious activity; it is
no longer merely on the old questions of dispute between church and
state that men were straining their minds. The reign of Henry III. saw
the invasion of England by the friars, originally the moral reformers of
their day, who preached the superiority of the missionary life over the
merely contemplative life of the old religious orders, and came,
preaching holy poverty, to minister to souls neglected by worldly
incumbents and political prelates (see MENDICANT MOVEMENT). The
mendicants, Dominican and Franciscan, took rapid root in England; the
number of friaries erected in the reign of Henry III. is astounding. For
two generations they seem to have absorbed into their ranks all the most
active and energetic of those who felt a clerical vocation. It is most
noteworthy that they were joined by thinkers such as Grosseteste, Adam
Marsh, Roger Bacon, Duns Scotus and William of Ockham. Still more
striking is the fact that the friars threw themselves energetically into
the cause of political reform, and that several of their leading
brothers were the close friends and counsellors of Simon de Montfort.

  Literature and art.

Architecture and art generally were making rapid strides during this
stirring time. The lofty Early English style had now completely
superseded the more heavy and sombre Norman, and it was precisely during
the years of the maladministration of Henry III. that some of the most
splendid of the English cathedrals, Salisbury (1220-1258) and Wells
(1230-1239), were built. The king himself, when rearing the new
Westminster Abbey over the grave of Edward the Confessor, spent for once
some of his money on a worthy object. It may be noted that he showed a
special reverence for the old English royal saint, and christened his
eldest son after him; while his second bore the name of Edmund, the East
Anglian martyr. These were the first occasions on which princes of the
Angevin house received names that were not drawn from the common
continental stock, but recalled the days before the Conquest. The
reappearance of these old English names bears witness to the fact that
the vernacular was reasserting itself. Though French was still the
language of the court and of law, a new literature was already growing
up in the native tongue, with such works as Layamon's _Brut_ and the
_Ormulum_ as its first fruits. Henry III. himself on rare occasions used
English for a state document.

All these facts make it sufficiently clear that England was irritated
rather than crushed by Henry's irregular taxation and thriftless
expenditure. The nation was growing and prospering, despite of its
master's maladministration of its resources. On several occasions when
he endeavoured to commit parliaments to back his bills and endorse his
policy, they refused to help him, and left him to face his debts as best
he might. This was especially the case with the insane contract which he
made with Pope Innocent IV. in 1254, when he bound the realm of England
to find 140,000 marks to equip an army for the conquest of Naples and
Sicily. Henry lacked the energy to attempt to take by force what he
could not obtain by persuasion, and preferred to break his bargain with
the pope rather than to risk the chance of civil war at home.

  Public discontent. The Provisions of Oxford.

It was over this Sicilian scheme, the crowning folly of the king, that
public opinion at last grew so hot that the intermittent criticism and
grumbling of the baronage and the nation passed into vigorous and
masterful action. At the "Mad Parliament," which met at Oxford, 1258,
the barons informed their master that his misgovernment had grown so
hopeless that they were resolved to put him under constitutional
restraints. They appointed a committee of twenty-four, in which Simon de
Montfort was the leading spirit, and entrusted it with the duty, not
only of formulating lists of grievances, but of seeing that they were
redressed. Henry found that he had practically no supporters save his
unpopular foreign relatives and favourites, and yielded perforce. To
keep him in bounds the celebrated "Provisions of Oxford" were framed.
They provided that he was to do nothing without the consent of a
permanent council of fifteen barons and bishops, and that all his
finances were to be controlled by another committee of twenty-four
persons. All aliens were to be expelled from the realm, and even the
king's household was to be "reformed" by his self-constituted guardians.
The inevitable oath to observe honestly all the conditions of the Great
Charter of 1215 was, as usual, extorted from him with special
formalities. Though Montfort and the barons voiced the public
discontent, the constitution which they thus imposed on the king had
nothing popular about it. The royal functions of which Henry was
stripped were to be exercised by a series of baronial committees. The
arrangement was too cumbersome, for there was nothing which would be
called a central executive; the three bodies (two of twenty-four members
each, the third of fifteen) were interdependent, and none of them
possessed efficient control over the others. It was small wonder that
the constitution established by the Provisions of Oxford was found
unworkable. They were not even popular--the small landholders and
subtenants discovered that their interests had not been sufficiently
regarded, and lent themselves to an agitation against the provisional
government, which was got up by Edward, the king's eldest son, who now
appeared prominently in history for the first time. To conciliate them
the barons allowed the "Provisions of Westminster" to be enacted in
1259, in which the power of feudal courts was considerably restricted,
and many classes of suit were transferred to the royal tribunals, a
sufficient proof that the king's judges did not share in the odium which
appertained to their master, and were regarded as honest and impartial.

The limited monarchy established by the Provisions of Oxford lasted only
three years. Seeing the barons quarrelling among themselves, and
Montfort accused of ambition and overweening masterfulness by many of
his colleagues, the king took heart. Copying the example of his father
in 1215, he obtained from the pope a bull, which declared the new
constitution irregular and illegal, and absolved him from his oath to
abide by it. He then began to recall his foreign friends and relatives,
and to assemble mercenaries. De Montfort answered by raising an army,
arresting prominent aliens, and seizing the lands which the king had
given them. Henry thereupon, finding his forces too weak to face the
earl, took refuge in the Tower of London and proposed an arbitration. He
offered to submit his case to Louis IX., the saintly king of France,
whose virtues were known and respected all over Europe, if the baronial
party would do the same. An appeal to the pope they would have laughed
to scorn; but the confidence felt in the probity of the French king was
so great that Montfort advised his friends to accede to the proposal.
This was an unwise step. Louis was a saint, but he was also an
autocratic king, and had no knowledge of the constitutional customs of
England. Having heard the claims of the king and the barons, he issued
the mise of Amiens (Jan. 23, 1264), so called from the city at which he
dated it, a document which stated that King Henry ought to abide by the
terms of Magna Carta, to which he had so often given his assent, but
that the Provisions of Oxford were wholly invalid and derogatory to the
royal dignity. "We ordain," he wrote, "that the king shall have full
power and free jurisdiction over his realm, as in the days before the
said Provisions." The pope shortly afterwards confirmed the French
king's award.

Simon de Montfort and his friends were put in an awkward position by
this decision, to which they had so unwisely committed themselves. But
they did not hesitate to declare that they must repudiate the mise.
Simon declared that it would be a worse perjury to abandon his oath to
keep the Provisions of Oxford than his oath to abide by the French
king's award. He took arms again at the head of the Londoners and his
personal adherents and allies. But many of the barons stood neutral, not
seeing how they could refuse to accept the arbitration they had courted,
while a number not inconsiderable joined the king, deciding that
Leicester had passed the limits of reasonable loyalty, and that their
first duty was to the crown.

  The barons' war: battle of Lewes.

Hence it came to pass that in the campaign of 1264 Simon was supported
by a minority only of the baronial class, and the king's army was the
larger. The fortune of war inclined at first in favour of the royalists,
who captured Northampton and Nottingham. But when it came to open
battle, the military skill of the earl sufficed to compensate for the
inferiority of his numbers. At Lewes, on the 14th of May, he inflicted a
crushing defeat on the king's army. Henry himself, his brother Richard
of Cornwall, and many hundreds of his chief supporters were taken
prisoners. His son Prince Edward, who had been victorious on his own
flank of the battle, and had not been caught in the rout, gave himself
up next morning, wishing to share his father's fate, and not to prolong
a civil war which seemed to have become hopeless.

  Montfort's parliament.

On the day that followed his victory Leicester extorted from the captive
king the document called the "mise of Lewes," in which Henry promised to
abide by all the terms of the Provisions of Oxford, as well as to uphold
the Great Charter and the old customs of the realm. Montfort was
determined to put his master under political tutelage for the rest of
his life. He summoned a parliament, in which four knights elected by
each shire were present, to establish the new constitution. It appointed
Simon, with his closest allies, the young earl of Gloucester and the
bishop of Chichester, as electors who were to choose a privy council for
the king and to fill up all offices of state. The king was to exercise
no act of sovereignty save by the consent of the councillors, of whom
three were to follow his person wherever he went. This was a far simpler
constitution than that framed at Oxford in 1258, but it was even more
liable to criticism. For if the "Provisions" had established a
government by baronial committees, the parliament of 1264 created one
which was a mere party administration. For the victorious faction,
naturally but unwisely, took all power for themselves, and filled every
sheriffdom, castellany and judicial office with their own firm friends.
Simon's care to commit the commons to his cause by summoning them to his
parliament did not suffice to disguise the fact that the government
which he had set up was not representative of the whole nation. He
himself was too much like a dictator; even his own followers complained
that he was over-masterful, and the most important of them, the young
earl of Gloucester, was gradually estranged from him by finding his
requests often refused and his aims crossed by the old earl's action.
The new government lasted less than two years, and was slowly losing
prestige all the time. Its first failure was in the repression of the
surviving royalists. Isolated castles in several districts held out in
the king's name, and the whole March of Wales was never properly
subdued. When Simon turned the native Welsh prince Llewelyn against the
marcher barons, he gave great offence; he was accused of sacrificing
Englishmen to a foreign enemy. The new régime did not give England the
peace which it had promised; its enemies maintained that it did not even
give the good governance of which Simon had made so many promises. It
certainly appears that some of his followers, and notably his three
reckless sons, had given good cause for offence by high-handed and
selfish acts. Much indignation was provoked by the sight of the king
kept continually in ward by his privy councillors and treated with
systematic neglect; but the treatment of his son was even more resented.
Edward, though he had given little cause of offence, and had behaved
admirably in refusing to continue the civil war, was deprived of his
earldom of Chester, and put under the same restraint as his father.
There was no good reason for treating him so harshly, and his state was
much pitied.

Montfort attempted to strengthen his position, and to show his
confidence in the commons, by summoning to his second and last
parliament, that of 1265, a new element--two citizens from each city and
two burgesses from each borough in the realm. It must be confessed that
his object was probably not to introduce a great constitutional
improvement, and to make parliament more representative, but rather to
compensate for the great gaps upon the baronial benches by showing a
multitude of lesser adherents, for the towns were his firm supporters.
The actual proceedings of this particular assembly had no great

  Battle of Evesham.

Two months later Prince Edward escaped from his confinement, and fled to
the earl of Gloucester, who now declared himself a royalist. They raised
an army, which seized the fords of the Severn, in order to prevent de
Montfort--who was then at Hereford with the captive king--from getting
back to London or the Midlands. The earl, who could only raise a
trifling force in the Marches, where the barons were all his enemies,
failed in several attempts to force a passage eastward. But his friends
raised a considerable host, which marched under his son Simon the
Younger and the earl of Oxford, to fall on the rear of the royalists.
Prince Edward now displayed skilful generalship--hastily turning
backward he surprised and scattered the army of relief at Kenilworth
(Aug. 1); he was then free to deal with the earl, who had at last
succeeded in passing the Severn during his absence. On the 4th of August
he beset Montfort's little force with five-fold numbers, and absolutely
exterminated it at Evesham. Simon fought most gallantly, and was left
dead on the field along with his eldest son Henry, his justiciar Hugh
Despenser, and the flower of his party. The king fell into the hands of
his son's followers, and was once more free.

It might have been expected that the victorious party would now
introduce a policy of reaction and autocratic government. But the king
was old and broken by his late misfortunes: his son the prince was wise
beyond his years, and Gloucester and many other of the present
supporters of the crown had originally been friends of reform, and had
not abandoned their old views. They had deserted Montfort because he was
autocratic and masterful, not because they had altogether disapproved of
his policy. Hence we find Gloucester insisting that the remnant of the
vanquished party should not be subjected to over heavy punishment, and
even making an armed demonstration, in the spring of 1267, to demand the
re-enactment of the Provisions of Oxford. Ultimately the troubles of the
realm were ended by the Dictum of Kenilworth (Oct. 31, 1266) and the
Statute of Marlborough (Nov. 1267). The former allowed nearly all of
Montfort's faction to obtain amnesty and regain their estates on the
payment of heavy fines; only Simon's own Leicester estates and those of
Ferrers, earl of Derby, were confiscated. The latter established a form
of constitution in which many, if not all, of the innovations of the
Provisions of Oxford were embodied. The only unsatisfactory part of the
pacification was that Llewelyn of Wales, who had ravaged the whole March
while he was Montfort's ally, was allowed to keep a broad region (the
greater part of the modern shire of Denbigh) which he had won back from
its English holders. His power in a more indirect fashion extended
itself over much of Mid-Wales. The line of the March was distinctly
moved backward by the treaty of 1267.

  Death of Henry III.

King Henry survived his restoration to nominal, if not to actual,
authority for seven years. He was now too feeble to indulge in any of
his former freaks of foreign policy, and allowed the realm to be
governed under his son's eye by veteran bureaucrats, who kept to the old
customs of the land. Everything settled down so peacefully that when the
prince took the cross, and went off to the Crusades in 1270, no trouble
followed. Edward was still absent in Palestine when his father died, on
the 16th of November 1272. For the first time in English history there
was no form of election of the new king, whose accession was quietly
acknowledged by the officials and the nation. It was nearly two years
after his father's death that he reached England, yet absolutely no
trouble had occurred during his absence. He had taken advantage of his
leisurely journey home to pacify the turbulent Gascony, and to visit
Paris and make a treaty with King Philip III. by which the frontiers of
his duchy of Aquitaine were rectified, to some slight extent, in his
favour. He, of course, did homage for the holding, as his father had
done before him.

  Edward I.

The reign which began with this unwonted quietness was perhaps the most
important epoch of all English medieval history in the way of the
definition and settlement of the constitution. Edward I. was a
remarkable figure, by far the ablest of all the kings of the house of
Plantagenet. He understood the problem that was before him, the
construction of a working constitution from the old ancestral customs of
the English monarchy plus the newer ideas that had been embodied in the
Great Charter, the Provisions of Oxford, and the scanty legislation of
Simon de Montfort. Edward loved royal power, but he was wise in his
generation, and saw that he could best secure the loyalty of his
subjects by assenting to so many of the new constitutional restraints as
were compatible with his own practical control of the policy of the
realm. He was prepared to refer all important matters to his parliament,
and (as we shall see) he improved the shape of that body by
reintroducing into it the borough members who had appeared for the first
time in Montfort's assembly of 1265. He would have liked to make
parliament, no doubt, a mere meeting for the voting of taxation with the
smallest possible friction. But he fully realized that this dream was
impossible, and was wise enough to give way, whenever opposition grew
too strong and bitter. He had not fought through the civil wars of
1263-66 without learning his lesson. There was a point beyond which it
was unwise to provoke the baronage or the commons, and, unlike his
flighty and thriftless father, he knew where that point came. The
constitutional quarrels of his reign were conducted with decency and
order, because the king knew his own limitations, and because his
subjects trusted to his wisdom and moderation in times of crisis. Edward
indeed was a man worthy of respect, if not of affection. His private
life was grave and seemly, his court did not sin by luxury or
extravagance. His chosen ministers were wise and experienced officials,
whom no man could call favourites or accuse of maladministration. He was
sincerely religious, self-restrained and courteous, though occasionally,
under provocation, he could burst out into a royal rage. He was a good
master and a firm friend. Moreover, he had a genuine regard for the
sanctity of a promise, the one thing in which his father had been most
wanting. It is true that sometimes he kept his oaths or carried out his
pledges with the literal punctuality of a lawyer, rather than with the
chivalrous generosity of a knight. But at any rate he always endeavoured
to discharge an obligation, even if he sometimes interpreted it by the
strict letter of the law and not with liberality. A conscientious man
according to his lights, he took as his device the motto _Pactum serva_,
"keep troth," which was afterwards inscribed on his tomb, and did his
best to live up to it. Naturally he expected the same accuracy from
other men, and when he did not meet it he could be harsh and unrelenting
in the punishment that he inflicted. To sum up his character it must be
added that he was a very great soldier. The headlong courage which he
showed at Lewes, his first battle, was soon tempered by caution, and
already in 1265 he had shown that he could plan a campaign with skill.
In his later military career he was the first general who showed on a
large scale how the national English weapon, the bow, could win fights
when properly combined with the charge of the mailed cavalry. He
inaugurated the tactics by which his grandson and great-grandson were to
win epoch-making victories abroad.

Edward's reign lasted for thirty-five years, and was equally important
in constitutional development and in imperial policy. The first period
of it, 1272-1290, may be defined as mainly notable for his great series
of legislative enactments and his conquest of Wales. The second,
1290-1307, contains his long and ultimately unsuccessful attempt to
incorporate Scotland into his realm, and his quarrels with his

  Constitutional changes. Statutes of Westminster and Gloucester.

The changes made by Edward in constitutional law by his great series of
statutes commenced very soon after his return to his kingdom in 1274. We
may trace in all of them the same purpose of strengthening the power of
the crown by judicious and orderly definition of its privileges. The
great enactments start with the First Statute of Westminster (1275), a
measure directed to the improvement of administrative details, which was
accompanied by a grant to the king of a permanent customs-revenue on
imports and exports, which soon became more valuable to the royal
exchequer than the old feudal taxes on land. In 1278 followed the
Statute of Gloucester, an act empowering the king to make inquiry as to
the right by which old royal estates, or exceptional franchises which
infringed on the royal prerogative of justice or taxation, had passed
into the hands of their present owners. This inquest was made by the
writ _Quo Warranto_, by which each landholder was invited to show the
charter or warrant in which his claims rested. The baronage were angry
and suspicious, for many of their customary rights rested on immemorial
and unchartered antiquity, while others were usurpations from the
weakness of John or Henry III. They showed signs of an intention to make
open resistance; but to their surprise the king contented himself with
making complete lists of all franchises then existing, and did no more;
this being his method of preventing the growth of any further trespasses
on his prerogative.

  Statute of Mortmain.

Edward's next move was against clerical encroachments. In 1279 he
compelled Archbishop Peckham to withdraw some legislation made in a
synod called without the royal permission--a breach of one of the three
great canons of William the Conqueror. Then he took the offensive
himself, by persuading his parliament to pass the Statute of Mortmain
(de religiosis). This was an act to prevent the further accumulation of
landed property in the "dead hand" of religious persons and communities.
The more land the church acquired, the less feudal taxation came into
the royal exchequer. For undying corporations paid the king neither
"reliefs" (death duties) nor fees on wardship and marriage, and their
property would never escheat to the crown for want of an heir. The
Statute of Mortmain forbade any man to alienate land to the church
without royal licence. It was very acceptable to the baronage, who had
suffered, on a smaller scale, the same grievance as the king, for when
their subtenants transferred estates to the church, they (like their
masters) suffered a permanent loss of feudal revenue. A distinct check
in the hitherto steady growth of clerical endowments began from this
time, though licences in mortmain were by no means impossible to obtain.

  Second Statute of Westminster.

The great group of statutes that date from Edward's earlier years ends
with the legislative enactments of 1285, the Second Statute of
Westminster and the Statute of Winchester. The former contains the
clause _De Donis Conditionalibus_, a notable landmark in the history of
English law, since it favoured the system of entailing estates. Hitherto
life-owners of land, holding as subtenants, had possessed large powers
of alienating it, to the detriment of their superior lords, who would
otherwise have recovered it, when their vassals died heirless, as an
"escheat." This custom was primarily harmful to the king--the greatest
territorial magnate and the one most prone to distribute rewards in land
to his servants. But it was also prejudicial to all tenants-in-chief. By
_De Donis_ the tenant for life was prevented from selling his estate,
which could only pass to his lawful heir; if he had none, it fell back
to his feudal superior. Five years later this legislation was
supplemented by the statute _Quia Emptores_, equally beneficial to king
and barons, which provided that subtenants should not be allowed to make
over land to other persons, retaining the nominal possession and feudal
rights over it, but should be compelled to sell it out and out, so that
their successor in title stood to the overlord exactly as the seller had
done. Hitherto they had been wont to dispose of the whole or parts of
their estates while maintaining their feudal rights over it, so that the
ultimate landlord could not deal directly with the new occupant, whose
reliefs, wardship, &c., fell to the intermediate holder who had sold
away the land. The main result of this was that, when a baron parted
with any one of his estates, the acquirer became a tenant-in-chief
directly dependent on the king, instead of being left a vassal of the
person who had passed over the land to him. Subinfeudation came to a
complete stop, and whenever great family estates broke up the king
obtained new tenants-in-chief. The number of persons holding immediately
of the crown began at once to multiply by leaps and bounds. As the
process of the partition of lands continued, the fractions grew smaller
and smaller, and many of the tenants-in-chief were ere long very small
and unimportant persons. These, of course, would not form part of the
baronial interest, and could not be distinguished from any other
subjects of the crown.

  Statute of Winchester.

The Statute of Winchester, the other great legislative act of 1285, was
mainly concerned with the keeping of the peace of the realm. It revised
the arming and organization of the national militia, the lineal
descendent of the old _fyrd_, and provided a useful police force for the
repression of disorder and robbery by the reorganization of _watch and
ward_. This was, of course, one more device for strengthening the power
of the crown.

  Welsh wars.

In the intervals of the legislation which formed the main feature of the
first half of his reign, Edward was often distracted by external
matters. He was, on the whole, on very good terms with his first cousin,
Philip III. of France; the trouble did not come from this direction,
though there was the usual crop of feudal rebellions in Gascony. Nor did
Edward's relations with the more remote states of the continent lead to
any important results, though he had many treaties and alliances in
hand. It was with Wales that his most troublesome relations occurred.
Llewelyn-ap-Gruffydd, the old ally of de Montfort, had come with profit
out of the civil wars of 1263-66, and having won much land and more
influence during the evil days of Henry III., was reluctant to see that
his time of prosperity had come to an end, now that a king of a very
different character sat on the English throne.

  Conquest of Wales.

Friction had begun the moment that Edward returned to his kingdom from
the crusade. Llewelyn would not deign to appear before him to render the
customary homage due from Wales to the English crown, but sent a series
of futile excuses lasting over three years. In 1277, however, the king
grew tired of waiting, invaded the principality and drove his
recalcitrant vassal up into the fastnesses of Snowdon, where famine
compelled him to surrender as winter was beginning. Llewelyn was
pardoned, but deprived of all the lands he had gained during the days of
the civil war, and restricted to his old North Welsh dominions. He
remained quiescent for five years, but busied himself in knitting up
secret alliances with the Welsh of the South, who were resenting the
introduction of English laws and customs by the strong-handed king. In
1282 there was a sudden and well-planned rising, which extended from the
gates of Chester to those of Carmarthen; several castles were captured
by the insurgents, and Edward had to come to the rescue of the
lords-marchers at the head of a very large army. After much checkered
fighting Llewelyn was slain at the skirmish of Orewyn Bridge near Builth
on the 11th of December 1282. On his death the southern rebels
submitted, but David his brother continued the struggle for three months
longer in the Snowdon district, till his last bands were scattered and
he himself taken prisoner. Edward beheaded him at Shrewsbury as a
traitor, having the excuse that David had submitted once before, had
been endowed with lands in the Marches, and had nevertheless joined his
brother in rebellion. After this the king abode for more than a year in
Wales, organizing the newly conquered principality into a group of
counties, and founding many castles, with dependent towns, within its
limits. The "statute of Wales," issued at Rhuddlan in 1284, provided for
the introduction of English law into the country, though a certain
amount of Celtic customs was allowed to survive. For the next two
centuries and a half the lands west of Dee and Wye were divided between
the new counties, forming the "principality" of Wales, and the "marches"
where the old feudal franchises continued, till the marcher-lordships
gradually fell by forfeiture or marriage to the crown. Edward's grip on
the land was strong, and it had need to be so, for in 1287 and 1294-1295
there were desperate and widespread revolts, which were only checked by
the existence of the new castles, and subdued by the concentration of
large royal armies. In 1301 the king's eldest surviving son Edward, who
had been born at Carnarvon in 1284, was created "prince of Wales," and
invested with the principality, which henceforth became the regular
appanage of the heirs of the English crown. This device was apparently
intended to soothe Welsh national pride, by reviving in form, if not in
reality, the separate existence of the old Cymric state. For four
generations the land was comparatively quiet, but the great rebellion of
Owen Glendower in the reign of Henry IV. was to show how far the spirit
of particularism was from extinction.

  Expulsion of the Jews.

Some two years after his long sojourn in Wales Edward made an even
longer stay in a more remote corner of his dominions. Gascony being, as
usual, out of hand, he crossed to Bordeaux in 1286, and abode in Guienne
for no less than three years, reducing the duchy to such order as it had
never known before, settling all disputed border questions with the new
king of France, Philip IV., founding many new towns, and issuing many
useful statutes and ordinances. He returned suddenly in 1289, called
home by complaints that reached him as to the administration of justice
by his officials, who were slighting the authority of his cousin Edmund
of Cornwall, whom he had left behind as regent. He dismissed almost the
whole bench of judges, and made other changes among his ministers. At
the same time he fell fiercely upon the great lords of the Welsh
Marches, who had been indulging in private wars; when they returned to
their evil practice he imprisoned the chief offenders, the earls of
Hereford and Gloucester, forfeited their estates, and only gave them
back when they had paid vast fines (1291). Another act of this period
was Edward's celebrated expulsion of the Jews from England (1290). This
was the continuation of a policy which he had already carried out in
Guienne. It would seem that his reasons were partly religious, but
partly economic. No earlier king could have afforded to drive forth a
race who had been so useful to the crown as bankers and money-lenders;
but by the end of the 13th century the financial monopoly of the Jews
had been broken by the great Italian banking firms, whom Edward had been
already employing during his Welsh wars. Finding them no less
accommodating than their rivals, he gratified the prejudices of his
subjects and himself by forcing the Hebrews to quit England. The
Italians in a few years became as unpopular as their predecessors in the
trade of usury, their practices being the same, if their creed was not.

  Edward I. and Scotland.

Meanwhile in the same year that saw the expulsion of the Jews, King
Edward's good fortune began to wane, with the rise of the Scottish
question, which was to overshadow the latter half of his reign.
Alexander III., the last male in direct descent of the old Scottish
royal house, had died in 1286. His heiress was his only living
descendant, a little girl, the child of his deceased daughter Margaret
and Eric, king of Norway. After much discussion, for both the Scottish
nobles and the Norse king were somewhat suspicious, Edward had succeeded
in obtaining from them a promise that the young queen should marry his
heir, Edward of Carnarvon. This wedlock would have led to a permanent
union of the English and Scottish crowns, but not to an absorption of
the lesser in the greater state, for the rights of Scotland were
carefully guarded in the marriage-treaty. But the scheme was wrecked by
the premature death of the bride, who expired by the way, while being
brought over from Norway to her own kingdom, owing to privations and
fatigue suffered on a tempestuous voyage.

She had no near relatives, and more than a dozen Scottish or
Anglo-Scottish nobles, distantly related to the royal line, put in a
claim to the crown, or at least to a part of the royal heritage. The
board of six regents, who had been ruling Scotland for the young queen,
seeing their own power at an end and civil war likely to break out,
begged Edward of England to arbitrate between the claimants. The history
of the next twenty years turned on the legal point whether the
arbitrator acted--as he himself contended--in the capacity of suzerain,
or--as the Scots maintained--in that of a neighbour of acknowledged
wisdom and repute, invited to settle a domestic problem. This question
of the relations between the English and the Scottish crowns had been
raised a dozen times between the days of Edward the Elder and those of
Henry III. There was no denying the fact that the northern kings had
repeatedly done homage to their greater neighbours. But, save during the
years when William the Lion, after his captivity, had owned himself the
vassal of Henry II. for all his dominions, there was considerable
uncertainty as to the exact scope of the allegiance which had been
demanded and given. And William's complete submission had apparently
been cancelled, when Richard I. sold him in 1190 a release from the
terms of the treaty of Falaise. Since that date Alexander II. and
Alexander III. had repeatedly owned themselves vassals to the English
crown, and had even sat in English parliaments. But it was possible for
patriotic Scots to contend that they had done so only in their capacity
as English barons--for they held much land south of Tweed--and to point
to the similarity of their position to that of the English king when he
did homage for his duchy of Guienne at Paris, without thereby admitting
any suzerainty of the French crown over England or Ireland. On the last
occasion when Alexander III. had owned himself the vassal of Edward I.,
there had been considerable fencing on both sides as to the form of the
oath, and, as neither sovereign at the moment had wished to push matters
to a rupture, the words used had been intentionally vague, and both
parties had kept their private interpretations to themselves. But now,
when Edward met the Scottish magnates, who had asked for his services as
arbitrator, he demanded that they should acknowledge that he was acting
as suzerain and overlord of the whole kingdom of Scotland. After some
delay, and with manifest reluctance, the Scots complied; their hand was
forced by the fact that most of the claimants to the crown had hastened
to make the acknowledgment, each hoping thereby to prejudice the English
king in his own favour.

This submission having been made, Edward acted with honesty and
fairness, handing over the adjudication to a body of eighty Scottish and
twenty-four English barons, knights and bishops. These commissioners,
after ample discussion and taking of evidence, adjudged the crown to
John Baliol, the grandson of the eldest daughter of Earl David, younger
brother of William the Lion. They ruled out the claim of Robert Bruce,
the son of David's second daughter, who had raised the plea that his
descent was superior because he was a generation nearer than Baliol to
their common ancestor. This theory of affinity had been well known in
the 12th century, and had been urged in favour of King John when he was
contending with his nephew Arthur. But by 1291 it had gone out of
favour, and the Scottish barons had no hesitation in declaring Baliol
their rightful king. Edward at once gave him seizin of Scotland, and
handed over to him the royal castles, which had been placed in his hands
as a pledge during the arbitration. In return Baliol did him homage as
overlord of the whole kingdom of Scotland.

This, unfortunately, turned out to be the beginning, not the end, of
troubles. Edward was determined to exact all the ordinary feudal rights
of an overlord--whatever might have been the former relations of the
English and Scottish crowns. The Scots, on the other hand, were resolved
not to allow of the introduction of usages which had not prevailed in
earlier times, and to keep the tie as vague and loose as possible.
Before Baliol had been many months on the throne there was grave
friction on the question of legal appeals. Scottish litigants defeated
in the local courts began to appeal to the courts of Westminster, just
as Gascon litigants were wont to appeal from Bordeaux to Paris. King
John and his baronage, relying on the fact that such evocation of cases
to a superior court had never before been known, refused to allow that
it was valid. King Edward insisted that by common feudal usage it was
perfectly regular, and announced his intention of permitting it. Grave
friction had already begun when external events precipitated an open
rupture between the king of England and his new vassal.

  Edward I. and Philip IV.

  The "model parliament" of 1295.

Philip III. of France, who had always pursued a friendly policy with his
cousin of England, had died in 1285, and had been succeeded by his son
Philip IV., a prince of a very different type, the most able and
unscrupulous of all the dynasty of Capet. In 1294 he played a most
dishonourable trick upon King Edward. There had been some irregular and
piratical fighting at sea between English and Norman sailors, in which
the latter had been worsted. When called to account for the doings of
his subjects, as well as for certain disputes in Gascony, the English
king promised redress, and, on the suggestion of Philip, surrendered, as
a formal act of apology, the six chief fortresses of Guienne, which were
to be restored when reparation had been made. Having garrisoned the
places, Philip suddenly changed his line, refused to continue the
negotiations, and declared the whole duchy forfeited. Edward was forced
into war, after having been tricked out of his strongholds. Just after
his first succours had sailed for the Gironde, the great Welsh rebellion
of 1294 broke out, and the king was compelled to turn aside to repress
it. This he accomplished in the next spring, but meanwhile hardly a
foothold remained to him in Gascony. He was then preparing to cross the
Channel in person, when Scottish affairs began to become threatening.
King John declared himself unable to restrain the indignation of his
subjects at the attempt to enforce English suzerainty over Scotland, and
in July 1295 leagued himself with Philip of France, and expelled from
his realm the chief supporters of the English alliance. Finding himself
involved in two wars at once, Edward made an earnest appeal to his
subjects to rise to the occasion and "because that which touches all
should be approved of all" summoned the celebrated "model parliament" of
November 1295, which exactly copied in its constitution Montfort's
parliament of 1265, members from all cities and boroughs being summoned
along with the knights of the shires, and the inferior clergy being also
represented by their proctors. This system henceforth became the normal
one, and the English parliament assumed its regular form, though the
differentiation of the two houses was not fully completed till the next
century. Edward was voted liberal grants by the laity, though the clergy
gave less than he had hoped; but enough money was obtained to fit out
two armies, one destined for the invasion of Scotland, the other for
that of Gascony.

  Invasion of Scotland.

The French expedition, which was led by the king's brother Edmund, earl
of Lancaster, failed to recover Gascony, and came to an ignominious end.
But Edward's own army achieved complete success in Scotland. Berwick was
stormed, the Scottish army was routed at Dunbar (April 27), Edinburgh
and Stirling were easily captured, and at last John Baliol, deserted by
most of his adherents, surrendered at Brechin. Edward pursued his
triumphant march as far as Aberdeen and Elgin, without meeting further
resistance. He then summoned a parliament at Berwick, and announced to
the assembled Scots that he had determined to depose King John, and to
assume the crown himself. The ease with which he had subdued the realm
misled him; he fancied that the slack resistance, which was mainly due
to the incapacity and unpopularity of Baliol, implied the indifference
of the Scots to the idea of annexation. The alacrity with which the
greater part of the baronage flocked in to do him homage confirmed him
in the mistaken notion. He appointed John, earl Warenne, lieutenant of
the realm, with Hugh Cressingham, an English clerk, as treasurer, but
left nearly all the minor offices in Scottish hands, and announced that
Scottish law should be administered. He then returned to England, and
began to make preparations for a great expedition to France in 1297.

  Disputes with the clergy and baronage.

His plan was something more ambitious than a mere attempt to recover
Bordeaux; succours were to go to Gascony, but he himself and the main
army were to invade France from the north with the aid of the count of
Flanders. Much money was, of course, needed for the double expedition,
and in raising it Edward became involved in two desperate constitutional
disputes. Though the barons and the commons voted a liberal grant at the
parliament of Bury (Nov. 1296) the clergy would give nothing. This was
owing to a bull--the celebrated _Clericis Laicos_, recently issued by
the arrogant and contentious pope Boniface VIII., which forbade the
clergy to submit to any taxation by secular princes. Robert Winchelsea,
the archbishop of Canterbury, an enthusiastic exponent of clerical
rights and grievances, declared himself in conscience bound to obey the
pontiff, and persuaded the representatives of the Church in the
parliament to refuse supplies. The king, indignant that an attempt
should be made to exempt the vast ecclesiastical lands from taxation at
a time of national crisis, sequestrated the estates of the see of
Canterbury, and copied John's conduct in 1208 by outlawing the whole
body of the clergy. Winchelsea in return excommunicated all those who
refused to recognize the authority of the pope's bull.

Scarcely was this quarrel developed when Edward found himself involved
in an equally hot dispute with the commons and the baronage. In his
eagerness to collect the sinews of war he had issued orders for the levy
of a heavy customs duty on wool, the main export of the land, and in
some cases laid hands on the wool itself, which lay ready for shipping,
though this had not been granted him by the late parliament. The
"maltolt"--or illegal tax--as his subjects called it, provoked the anger
of the whole body of merchants in England. At the same time the barons,
headed by the earls of Norfolk and Hereford, raised the old grievance
about feudal service beyond seas, which had been so prominent in the
time of King John. Norfolk, who had been designated to lead the
expedition to Guienne; declared that though he was ready to follow his
master to Flanders in his capacity of marshal, he would not be drafted
off to Gascony against his own will. Hereford and a number of other
barons gave him hearty support.

Harassed by these domestic troubles, the king could not carry out his
intention of sailing for Flanders in the spring, and spent the greater
part of the campaigning season in wrangles with his subjects. He was
obliged to come to a compromise. If the clergy would give him a
voluntary gift, which was in no way to be considered a tax, he agreed to
inlaw them. They did so, and even Winchelsea, after a time, was
reconciled to his master. As to the barons, the king took the important
constitutional step of conceding that he would not ask them to serve
abroad as a feudal obligation, but would pay them for their services, if
they would oblige him by joining his banner. Even then Norfolk and
Hereford refused to sail; but the greater part of the minor magnates
consented to serve as stipendiaries. The commons were conciliated by a
promise that the wool which the royal officers had seized should be paid
for, when a balance was forthcoming in the exchequer.

  Insurrection in Scotland. Wallace.

By these means Edward succeeded at last in collecting a considerable
army, and sailed for Flanders at the end of August. But he was hardly
gone when dreadful news reached him from Scotland. An insurrection, to
which no great importance was attached at first, had broken out in the
summer. Its first leader was none of the great barons, but a
Renfrewshire knight, Sir William Wallace; but ere long more important
persons, including Robert Bruce, earl of Carrick (grandson of Robert
Bruce of Annandale, one of the competitors for the crown of Scotland),
and the bishop of Glasgow, were found to be in communication with the
rebels. Earl Warenne, the king's lieutenant in Scotland, mustered his
forces to put down the rising. On the 11th of September 1297 he
attempted to force the passage of the Forth at Stirling Bridge, and was
completely beaten by Wallace, who allowed half the English army to pass
the river and then descended upon it and annihilated it, while Warenne
looked on helplessly from the other bank. Almost the whole of Scotland
rose in arms on hearing of this victory, but the barons showed less zeal
than the commons, owing to their jealousy of Wallace. Warenne retired to
Berwick and besought his master for aid.

  The "Confirmatio Cartarum."

Edward, who was just commencing an autumn campaign in Flanders which was
to lead to no results, sent home orders to summon a parliament, which
should raise men and money for the Scottish war. It was called, and made
a liberal grant for that purpose, but Archbishop Winchelsea and the
earls of Norfolk and Hereford took advantage of their master's needs,
and of his absence, to assert themselves. Taking up the position of
defenders of the constitution, they induced the parliament to couple its
grants of money with the condition that the king should not only confirm
Magna Carta--as had been so often done before--but give a specific
promise that no "maltolts," or other taxes not legally granted him,
should be raised for the future. Edward received the petition at Ghent,
and made the required oath. The document to which he gave his assent,
the _Confirmatio Cartarum_ (less accurately called the statute _De
Tallagio non concedendo_) marked a distinct advance beyond the theories
of Magna Carta; for the latter had been drawn up before England
possessed a parliament, and had placed the control of taxation in the
hands of the old feudal council of tenants-in-chief, while the
_Confirmatio_ gave it to the assembly, far more national and
representative, which had now superseded the Great Council as the
mouthpiece of the whole people of the realm.

The Scottish revolt had become so formidable that Edward was compelled
to abandon his unfruitful Flemish campaign; he patched up an
unsatisfactory truce with the king of France, which left four-fifths of
his lost Gascon lands in the power of the enemy, and returned to England
in the spring of 1298. In July he invaded Scotland at the head of a
formidable army of 15,000 men, and on the 22nd of that month brought
Wallace to action on the moors above Falkirk. The steady Scottish
infantry held their own for some time against the charge of the English
men-at-arms. But when Edward brought forward his archers to aid his
cavalry, as William I. had done at Hastings, Wallace's columns broke up,
and a dreadful slaughter followed. The impression made on the Scots was
so great that for some years they refused to engage in another pitched
battle. But the immediate consequences were not all that might have been
expected. Edward was able to occupy many towns and castles, but the
broken bands of the insurgents lurked in the hills and forests, and the
countryside as a whole remained unsubdued. Wallace went to France to
seek aid from King Philip, and his place was taken by John Comyn, lord
of Badenoch, a nephew of Baliol, who was a more acceptable leader to the
Scottish nobles than the vanquished knight of Falkirk. Edward was
detained in the south for a year, partly by negotiations with France,
partly by a renewed quarrel with his parliament, and during his absence
Comyn recovered Stirling and most of the other places which had received
English garrisons. It was not till 1300 that the king was able to resume
the invasion of Scotland, with an army raised by grants of money that he
had only bought by humiliating concessions to the will of his
parliament, formulated in the _Articuli super cartas_ which were drawn
up in the March of that year. Even then he only succeeded in recovering
some border holds, and the succeeding campaign of 1301 only took him as
far as Linlithgow. But in the following year his position was suddenly
changed by unexpected events abroad; the king of France became involved
in a desperate quarrel with the pope, and at the same moment his army
received a crushing defeat before Courtrai at the hands of the Flemings.
To free himself for these new struggles Philip made up his mind to
conclude peace with England, even at the cost of sacrificing his
conquests in Gascony. Bordeaux had already revolted from him, and he
gave up the rest of his ill-gotten gains of 1294 by the treaty of Paris
(May 20, 1303).

  Edward again invades Scotland, 1303.

Now that he had only a single war upon his hands Edward's position was
entirely changed. There was no more need to conciliate the magnates nor
the parliament. His displeasure fell mainly on the archbishop and the
earl of Norfolk, who had so long led the opposition. Winchelsea was put
in disgrace, and ultimately exiled. Norfolk, who was childless, was
forced to sign a grant by which his lands went to the king after his
death--a harsh and illegal proceeding, for he had collateral heirs. But
the Scots, as was natural, bore the brunt of the king's wrath. In June
1303, a month after the peace of Paris, he advanced from Roxburgh,
determined to make a systematic conquest of the realm, and not to return
till it was ended. He kept up his campaign throughout the winter,
reduced every fortress that held out, and carried his arms as far as
Aberdeen and Elgin. In February 1304 the regent Comyn and most of the
Scottish baronage submitted, on the promise that they should retain
their lands on doing homage. Wallace, who had returned from France, kept
up a guerilla warfare in the hills for a year more, but was captured in
July 1305, and sent to London to be executed as a traitor. Even before
his capture it seemed that Scotland was thoroughly tamed, and was
destined to share the fate of Wales.

Edward's arrangements for the administration of the conquered kingdom
were wise and liberal, if only the national spirit of the Scots could
have tolerated them. The Scottish parliament was to continue, though
representatives from beyond Tweed were also to be sent to the English
parliament. The sheriffdoms and most of the ministerial posts were left
in the hands of Scots, though the supreme executive authority was put in
the hands of John of Brittany, earl of Richmond, the king's nephew. The
land seemed for a time to be settling down, and indeed the baronage were
to such a large extent English in both blood and feeling, that there was
no insuperable difficulty in conciliating them. A considerable fraction
of them adhered consistently to the English cause from this time forth,
and ultimately lost their lands for refusing to follow the rest of the
nation in the next insurrection.

But the delusion that Scotland had been finally subdued was to last only
for a year, although in 1305 Edward seemed to have accomplished his
task, and stood triumphant, with the northern realm at his feet, his
domestic foes humbled, and France and the papacy defeated. His last
short interval of peaceful rule was distinguished by the passing of the
Statute of Trailbaston in the parliament of 1305. This was a measure for
the repression of local riots, empowering justices in every shire to
suppress clubmen (_trailbastons_), gangs of marauders who had been
rendering the roads unsafe.

  Robert Bruce.

In the first month of 1306, however, the weary Scottish war broke out
again, with the appearance of a new insurgent chief. Robert Bruce, earl
of Carrick, grandson of the claimant to the throne of 1292, had hitherto
pursued a shifty policy, wavering between submission and opposition to
the English invader. He had been in arms more than once, but had finally
adhered to the pacification of 1304, and was now entirely trusted by the
king. But he was secretly plotting rebellion, disgusted (as it would
seem) that Edward had not transferred the crown of Scotland to the line
of Bruce when the house of Baliol was found wanting. Though he found
himself certain of a considerable amount of support, he yet could see
that there would be no general rising in his favour, for many of the
magnates refused to help in making king a baron whom they regarded as no
more important than one of themselves. But the insurrection was
precipitated by an unpremeditated outrage. Bruce was conferring at
Dumfries with John Comyn, the late regent, whom he was endeavouring to
tempt into his plots, on the 10th of January 1306. An angry altercation
followed, for Comyn would have nothing to do with the scheme, and Bruce
and his followers finally slew him before the altar of a church into
which he had fled. After this crime, which combined the disgrace of
sacrilege with that of murder under tryst, Bruce was forced to take arms
at once, though his preparations were incomplete. He raised his banner,
and was hastily crowned at Scone on the 25th of March; by that time the
rising had burst out in many shires of Scotland, but it was neither
unanimous nor complete. Edward by no means despaired of crushing it, and
had raised a large army, when he was smitten with an illness which
prevented him from crossing the border. But his troops, under Aymer de
Valence, earl of Pembroke, pressed north, and surprised and routed Bruce
at Methven near Perth. The pretender's brother Nigel and many of his
chief supporters were taken prisoners, and he himself escaped with a
handful of followers and took refuge in the Western islands. Edward
ordered young Nigel Bruce and many other captives to be executed; for he
was provoked to great wrath by the rebellion of a magnate who had given
him every assurance of loyalty. He intended to follow de Valence to
Scotland, and to complete the suppression of the rising in person. But
this proved beyond his strength; he struggled as far as the border in
July, but could not shake off his disease, and was forced to linger, a
broken invalid, in the neighbourhood of Carlisle for many months.
Meanwhile his lieutenants failed to follow up with energy the victory
gained at Methven, and in the next spring Bruce reappeared in the
Lowlands, gathered new levies, and inflicted a defeat on de Valence at
Loudoun Hill. Roused to anger King Edward rose from his bed, mounted his
horse, and started for Scotland. But after struggling on for a few miles
he fell by the way, and died at Burgh-on-Sands, just inside the English
border, on the 7th of July 1307.

  Character of Edward I.'s rule.

Despite the chequered fortunes of his later years the reign of Edward
had been a time of progress and prosperity for England. He had given his
realm good and strong governance; according to his lights he had striven
to keep faith and to observe his coronation oath. He had on more than
one occasion quarrelled with his subjects, but matters had never been
pushed to an open rupture. The king knew how to yield, and even
opponents like Winchelsea and the earls of Norfolk and Hereford
respected him too much to drive him to an extremity. The nation, however
much it might murmur, would never have been willing to rebel against a
sovereign whose only fault was that he occasionally pressed his
prerogative too far. Edward's rule was seldom or never oppressive, the
seizure of the merchants' wool in 1297 was the only one of his acts
which caused really fierce and widespread indignation. For his other
arbitrary proceedings he had some show of legal justification in every
case. It would have been absurd to declare that his rule was tyrannical
or his policy disastrous. The realm was on the whole contented and even
flourishing. Population was steadily increasing, and with it commerce;
the intellectual activity which had marked the reign of Henry III. was
still alive; architecture, religious and military, was in its prime. He
was himself a great builder, and many of the perfected castles of that
concentric style, which later ages have called the "Edwardian type,"
were of his own planning. In ecclesiastical architecture his reign
represents the early flower of the "Decorated" order, perhaps the most
beautiful of all the developments of English art. In many respects the
reign may be regarded as the culmination and crowning point of the
middle ages. It certainly gave a promise of greatness and steady
progress which the 14th century was far from justifying.

  Edward II.

With the great king's death a sudden change for the worse was at once
visible. The individual character of the reigning king was still the
main factor in political history, and Edward II. was in every respect a
contrast to his father. He was incorrigibly frivolous, idle and
apathetic; his father had given him much stern schooling, but this seems
only to have inspired him with a deeply rooted dislike for official work
of any kind. He has been well described as "the first king since the
Conquest who was not a man of business." Even Stephen and Henry III. had
been active and bustling princes, though their actions were misguided
and inconsequent. But Edward II. hated all kingly duties; he detested
war, but he detested even more the routine work of administration. He
was most at his ease in low company, his favourite diversion was
gambling, his best trait a love for farming and the mechanical arts of
the smith and the gardener.

  Piers Gaveston.

His first acts on coming to the throne caused patriotic Englishmen to
despair. His father, on his death-bed, had made him swear to conduct the
Scottish expedition to its end. But he marched no further than Dumfries,
and then turned back, on the vain pretext that he must conduct his
parent's funeral in person. Leaving Bruce to gather fresh strength and
to commence the tedious process of reducing the numerous English
garrisons in Scotland, he betook himself to London, and was not seen on
the border again for more than three years. He then dismissed all his
father's old ministers, and replaced them by creatures of his own, for
the most part persons of complete incompetence. But his most offensive
act was to promote to the position of chief councillor of the crown, and
disperser of the royal favours, a clever but vain and ostentatious
Gascon knight, one Piers Gaveston, who had been the companion of his
boyhood, and had been banished by Edward I. for encouraging him in his
follies and frivolity. Piers was given the royal title of earl of
Cornwall, and married to the king's niece; when Edward went over to
France to do homage for Gascony, he even made his friend regent during
his absence, in preference to any of his kinsmen. It was his regular
habit to refer those who came to him on matters of state to "his good
brother Piers," and to refuse to discuss them in person.

  Baronial opposition.

It was of course impossible that the nation or the baronage should
accept such a preposterous régime, and Edward was soon involved in a
lively struggle with his subjects. Of the leaders of opposition in his
father's reign both Hereford and Norfolk were now dead. But Archbishop
Winchelsea had returned from exile in a belligerent mood, and the place
of Norfolk and Hereford was taken by an ambitious prince of the royal
house, Thomas, earl of Lancaster, the son of the younger brother of
Edward I. Thomas was selfish and incompetent, but violent and
self-assertive, and for some years was able to pose successfully as a
patriot simply because he set himself to oppose every act of the
unpopular king. He had several powerful baronial allies--the earls of
Warwick, Pembroke and Warenne, with Humphrey Bohun of Hereford, who had
succeeded to his father's politics, though he had married the king's own

  Progress of Bruce in Scotland.

  The "Lords Ordainers."

The annals of the early years of Edward II. are mainly filled by
contemporary chroniclers with details of the miserable strife between
the king and his barons on the question of Gaveston's unconstitutional
position. But the really important feature of the time was the gradual
reconquest of Scotland by Robert Bruce, during the continuance of the
domestic strife in England. Edward I. had laid such a firm grip on the
northern realm that it required many years to undo his work. A very
large proportion of the Scottish nobility regarded Bruce as a usurper
who had opened his career with murder and sacrilege, and either openly
opposed him or denied him help. His resources were small, and it was
only by constant effort, often chequered by failures, that he gradually
fought down his local adversaries, and reduced the English garrisons one
by one. Dumbarton and Linlithgow were only mastered in 1312. Perth did
not finally fall into his hands till 1313; Edinburgh, Roxburgh and
Stirling were still holding out in 1314. During all this time the
English king only once went north of the Border--in 1311--and then with
a very small army, for Lancaster and his friends had refused to join his
banner. Yet even under such conditions Bruce had to retire to the
mountains, and to allow the invaders to range unopposed through Lothian
and Fife, and even beyond the Tay. With ordinary capacity and
perseverance Edward II. might have mastered his enemy; indeed the Comyns
and Umfravilles and other loyalist barons of Scotland would have carried
out the business for him, if only he had given them adequate support.
But he spent what small energy he possessed in a wretched strife of
chicanery and broken promises with Thomas of Lancaster and his party,
dismissing and recalling Gaveston according to the exigencies of the
moment, while he let the Scottish war shift for itself. It must be
confessed that the conduct of his adversaries was almost as contemptible
and unpatriotic. They refused to aid in the war, as if it was the
king's private affair and not that of the nation. And repeatedly, when
they had Edward at their mercy and might have dictated what terms they
pleased to him, they failed to rise to the situation. This was
especially the case in 1311, when the king had completely submitted in
face of their armed demonstrations. Instead of introducing any general
scheme of reform they contented themselves with putting him under the
tutelage of twenty-one "lords ordainers," a baronial committee like that
which had been appointed by the Provisions of Oxford, fifty years back.
Edward was not to levy an army, appoint an official, raise a tax, or
quit the realm without their leave. He had also to swear an obedience to
a long string of constitutional limitations of his power, and to promise
to remove many practical grievances of administration. But there were
two great faults in the proceedings of Thomas of Lancaster and his
friends. The first was that they ignored the rights of the commons--save
indeed that they got their ordinances confirmed by parliament--and put
all power into the hands of a council which represented nothing but the
baronial interest. The second, and more fatal, was that this council of
"ordainers," when installed in office, showed energy in nothing save in
persecuting the friends of Edward and Gaveston; it neglected the general
welfare of the realm, and in particular made no effort whatever to end
the Scottish war. It was clearly their duty either to make peace with
Robert Bruce, or to exert themselves to crush him; but they would do

  Battle of Bannockburn.

Gaveston's unhappy career came to an end in 1312. After he had been
twice exiled, and had been twice recalled by the king, he was besieged
in Scarborough and captured by the earl of Pembroke. He was being
conducted to London to be tried in parliament, when his two greatest
enemies, Thomas of Lancaster and Guy, earl of Warwick, took him out of
the hands of his escort, and beheaded him by the wayside without any
legal authority or justification. The unhappy king was compelled to
promise to forget and forgive this offence, and was then restored to a
certain amount of freedom and power; the barons believed that when freed
from the influence of Gaveston he would prove a less unsatisfactory
sovereign. The experiment did not turn out happily. Bruce having at last
made an almost complete end of the English garrisons within his realm,
laid siege to Stirling, the last and strongest of them all, in the
spring of 1313. Compelled by the pressure of public opinion to attempt
its relief, Edward crossed the border in June 1314, with an army of
20,000 foot and 4000 men-at-arms. He found Bruce prepared to dispute his
advance on the hillside of Bannockburn, 2 m. in front of Stirling, in a
strong position with a stream in front and his flanks covered by rows of
pitfalls, dug to discomfit the English cavalry. The Scots, as at
Falkirk, were ranged in solid clumps of pikemen above the burn, with
only a small reserve of horse. The English king, forgetting his father's
experiences, endeavoured to ride down the enemy by headlong frontal
charges of his men-at-arms, and made practically no attempt to use his
archery to advantage. After several attacks had been beaten off with
heavy loss, the English host recoiled in disorder and broke up--the
king, who had kept in the rear all day, was one of the first to move
off. The flower of his knights had fallen, including his nephew, the
earl of Gloucester, who was the only one of the great magnates of the
realm who had shown loyalty to him during the last six years. The Scots
also made many prisoners; the disaster was complete, and the wrecks of
the beaten army dispersed before reaching the border. Bruce followed
them up, and spent the autumn in ravaging Northumberland and Cumberland.

  Thomas, earl of Lancaster.

Thomas of Lancaster, who had refused to join in the late campaign, took
advantage of its results to place the king once more in complete
tutelage. His household was dismissed, he was bidden to live as best he
could on an allowance of £10 a day, and all his ministers and officials
were changed. For more than three years Lancaster practically reigned in
his cousin's name; it was soon found that the realm got no profit
thereby, for Earl Thomas, though neither so apathetic nor so frivolous
as Edward, was not a whit more competent to conduct either war or
domestic administration. The Scots swept everything before them,
ravaging the north at their will, and capturing Berwick. They even made
a great expedition to Ireland, where Bruce's brother Edward was
proclaimed king by the rebellious Celtic septs, and rode across the
whole island, exterminating the Anglo-Irish population in many districts
(1315-1317). But the colonists rallied, and cut to pieces a great Irish
army at Athenry (1316), while in the next year Roger Mortimer, a
hard-handed baron of the Welsh march, crossed with reinforcements and
drove back Edward Bruce into the north. Resuming his advance after a
space, the rebel king was routed and slain at Dundalk (Oct. 14, 1318)
and the insurrection died out. But it had had the permanent result of
weakening the king's grip on the north and west of Ireland, where the
Englishry had been almost exterminated. From this time forth until the
reign of Henry VIII. the limit of the country in full subjection to the
crown was always shrinking, and the Irish chiefs of the inland continued
to pay less and less attention to orders issued from Dublin or London.

Though the Scottish expedition to Ireland had been beaten off, this was
not in the least to be ascribed to the credit of Lancaster, who was
showing the grossest incompetence as an administrator. He could neither
protect the Border, nor even prevent private civil wars from breaking
out, not only on the Welsh marches (where they had always been common),
but even in the heart of England. The most extraordinary symptom of the
time was a civic revolt at Bristol (1316), where the townsfolk expelled
the royal judges, and actually stood a siege before they would submit.
Such revolts of great towns were normal in Germany or Italy, but almost
unknown on this side of the Channel. All this unrest might well be
ascribed to Lancaster's want of ability, but he had also to bear--with
less justice--the discontent caused by two years of famine and
pestilence. In August 1318 he was removed from power by a league formed
by Pembroke, Warenne, Arundel and others of the lords ordainers, who put
a new council in power, and showed themselves somewhat less hostile to
the king than Earl Thomas had been. Edward was allowed to raise an army
for the siege of Berwick, and was lying before its walls, when the
Scots, turning his flank, made a fierce foray into Yorkshire, and routed
the shire-levy under Archbishop Melton at the battle of Myton. This so
disheartened the king and the council that controlled him that they
concluded a two years truce with Robert of Scotland, thus for the first
time acknowledging him as a regular enemy and no mere rebel (1319).

  The Despensers.

  Execution of Lancaster.

The time of comparative quiet that followed was utilized by the king in
an attempt to win back some of his lost authority. For a short space
Edward showed more capacity and energy than he had ever been supposed to
possess. Probably this was due entirely to the fact that he had come
under the influence of two able men who had won his confidence and had
promised him revenge for the murdered Gaveston. These were the two Hugh
Despensers, father and son; the elder was an ambitious baron who hated
Lancaster, the younger had been made Edward's chamberlain in 1318 and
had become his secret councillor and constant companion. Finding that
the king was ready to back them in all their enterprises, the Despensers
resolved to take the fearful risk of snatching at supreme power by using
their master's name to oust the barons who were now directing affairs
from their position. The task was the more easy because Lancaster was at
open discord with the men who had supplanted him, so that the baronial
party was divided; while the mishaps of the last six years had convinced
the nation that other rulers could be as incompetent and as unlucky as
the king. Indeed, there was a decided reaction in Edward's favour, since
Lancaster and his friends had been tried and found wanting. Moreover,
the Despensers felt that they had a great advantage over Gaveston in
that they were native-born barons of ancient ancestry and good estate:
the younger Hugh, indeed, through his marriage with the sister of the
earl of Gloucester who fell at Bannockburn, was one of the greatest
landowners on the Welsh border: they could not be styled upstarts or
adventurers. Edward's growing confidence in the Despensers at last
provoked the notice and jealousy of the dominant party. The barons
brought up many armed retainers to the parliament of 1321, and forced
the king to dismiss and to condemn them to exile. But their discomfiture
was only to last a few months; in the following October a wanton outrage
and assault on the person and retinue of Edward's queen, Isabella of
France, by the retainers of Lord Badlesmere, one of Pembroke's
associates, provoked universal reprobation. The king made it an excuse
for gathering an army to besiege Badlesmere's castle at Leeds; he took
it and hanged the garrison. He then declared the Despensers pardoned,
and invited them to return to England. On this Thomas of Lancaster and
the more resolute of his associates took arms, but the majority both of
the baronage and of the commons remained quiescent, public opinion being
rather with than against the king. The rebels displayed great
indecision, and Lancaster proved such a bad general that he was finally
driven into the north and beaten at the battle of Boroughbridge (March
16, 1322), where his chief associate, the earl of Hereford, was slain.
Next day he surrendered, with the wreck of his host. But the king, who
showed himself unexpectedly vindictive, beheaded him at once; three
other peers, Badlesmere, Clifford and Mowbray, were subsequently
executed, with a score of knights.

  Rebellion of Queen Isabella and Mortimer.

Such severity was most impolitic, and Lancaster was ere long hailed as a
saint and a martyr. But for the moment the king seemed triumphant; he
called a parliament which revoked the "ordinances" of 1311, and replaced
the Despensers in power. For the remaining four years of his reign they
were omnipotent; but able and unscrupulous as they were, they could not
solve the problem of successful governance. To their misfortune the
Scottish war once more recommenced, King Robert having refused to
continue the truce. The fortune of Edward II. now hung on the chance
that he might be able to maintain the struggle with success; he raised a
large army and invaded Lothian, but Bruce refused a pitched battle, and
drove him off with loss by devastating the countryside around him.
Thereupon Edward, to the deep humiliation of the people, sued for
another cessation of hostilities, and obtained it by conceding all that
Robert asked, save the formal acknowledgment of his kingly title. But
peace did not suffice to end Edward's troubles; he dropped back into his
usual apathy, and the Despensers showed themselves so harsh and greedy
that the general indignation only required a new leader in order to take
once more the form of open insurrection. The end came in an unexpected
fashion. Edward had quarrelled with his wife Isabella, who complained
that he made her the "handmaid of the Despensers," and excluded her from
her proper place and honour. Yet in 1325 he was unwise enough to send
her over to France on an embassy to her brother Charles IV., and to
allow his eldest son Edward, prince of Wales, to follow her to Paris.
Having the boy in her power, and being surrounded by the exiles of
Lancaster's faction, she set herself to plot against her husband, and
opened up communications with the discontented in England. It was in
vain that Edward besought her to return and to restore him his son; she
came back at last, but at the head of an army commanded by Roger, Lord
Mortimer, the most prominent survivor of the party of Earl Thomas, with
whom she had formed an adulterous connexion which they for some time
succeeded in keeping secret.

  Deposition and murder of Edward II.

When she landed with her son in Essex in September 1326, she was at once
joined by Henry of Lancaster, the heir of Earl Thomas, and most of the
baronage of the eastern counties. Even the king's half-brother, the earl
of Norfolk, rallied to her banner. Edward and the Despensers, after
trying in vain to raise an army, fled into the west. They were all
caught by their pursuers; the two Despensers were executed--the one at
Bristol, the other at Hereford. Several more of Edward's scanty band of
friends--the earl of Arundel and the bishop of Exeter and others--were
also slain. Their unhappy master was forced to abdicate on the 20th of
January 1327, his fourteen-year old son being proclaimed king in his
stead. He was allowed to survive in close prison some eight months
longer, but when his robust constitution defied all attempts to kill him
by privations, he was murdered by the orders of the queen and Mortimer
at Berkeley Castle on the 21st of September.

  Regency of Isabella and Mortimer.

The three years regency of Isabella, during the minority of Edward III.,
formed a disgraceful episode in the history of England. She was as much
the tool of Mortimer as her husband had been the tool of the Despensers,
and their relations became gradually evident to the whole nation. All
posts of dignity and emolument were kept for their personal adherents,
and a new and formidable dignity was conferred on Mortimer himself, when
he was made both justiciar of the principality of Wales, and also earl
of March, in which lay both his own broad lands and the estates of
Despenser and Arundel, which he had shamelessly appropriated. It is
surprising that the adulterous pair succeeded in maintaining themselves
in power for so long, since the ignominy of the situation was evident.
They were even able to quell the first attempt at a reaction, by seizing
and beheading Edmund, earl of Kent, the late king's half-brother, who
was betrayed while organizing a plot for their destruction. The one
politic act of Mortimer's administration, the conclusion of a permanent
peace with Scotland by acknowledging Bruce as king (1328), was not one
which made him more popular. The people called it "the shameful peace of
Northampton," and firmly believed that he had been bribed by the Scots.

  Edward III.

Yet Isabella and her paramour held on to power for two years after the
peace, and were only overthrown by a blow from an unexpected quarter.
When the young king had reached the age of eighteen he began to
understand the disgraceful nature of his own situation. Having secured
promise of aid from Henry of Lancaster, his cousin, and other barons, he
executed a _coup de main_, and seized Mortimer in his chamber at
midnight. The queen was also put under guard till a parliament could be
called. It met, and at the king's demand passed sentence on the earl for
the murder of Edward II. and other crimes. He was hanged at Tyburn (Nov.
1330); the queen suffered nothing worse than complete exclusion from
power, and lived for more than twenty years in retirement on the manors
of her dowry.

Edward III., who thus commenced his reign ere he was out of his boyhood,
was, as might have been foretold from his prompt action against
Mortimer, a prince of great vigour and enterprise. He showed none of his
father's weakness and much of his grandfather's capacity. He fell short
of Edward I. in steadiness of character and organizing power, but
possessed all his military capacity and his love of work. Unfortunately
for England his ambition was to be the mirror of chivalry rather than a
model administrator. He took up and abandoned great enterprises with
equal levity; he was reckless in the spending of money; and in times of
trouble he was careless of constitutional precedent, and apt to push his
prerogative to extremes. Yet like Edward I. he was popular with his
subjects, who pardoned him much in consideration of his knightly
virtues, his courage, his ready courtesy and his love of adventure. In
most respects he was a perfect exponent of the ideals and foibles of his
age, and when he broke a promise or repudiated a debt he was but
displaying the less satisfactory side of the habitual morality of the
14th century the chivalry of which was often deficient in the less showy
virtues. With all his faults Edward during his prime was a capable and
vigorous ruler; and it was not without reason that not England only but
all western Europe looked up to him as the greatest king of his

  Edward III. invades Scotland.

His early years were specially fortunate, as his rule contrasted in the
most favourable way with that of his infamous mother and his
contemptible father. The ministers whom he substituted for the creatures
of Mortimer were capable, if not talented administrators. He did much to
restore the internal peace of the realm, and put down the local
disorders which had been endemic for the last twenty years. Moreover,
when the war with Scotland recommenced he gave the English a taste of
victory such as they had not enjoyed since Falkirk. Robert Bruce was now
dead and his throne was occupied by the young David II., whose factious
nobles were occupied in civil strife when, in 1332, a pretender made a
snatch at the Scottish throne. This was Edward, the son of John Baliol,
an adventurous baron who collected all the "disinherited" Scots lords,
the members of the old English faction who had been expelled by Bruce,
and invaded the realm at their head. He beat the regent Mar at the
battle of Dupplin, seized Perth and Edinburgh, and crowned himself at
Scone. But knowing that his seat was precarious he did homage to the
English king, and made him all the promises that his father had given to
Edward I. The temptation was too great for the young king to refuse; he
accepted the homage, and offered the aid of his arms. It was soon
required, for Baliol was ere long expelled from Scotland. Edward won the
battle of Halidon Hill (July 19, 1333)--where he displayed considerable
tactical skill--captured Berwick, and reconquered a considerable portion
of Scotland for his vassal. Unfortunately for himself he made the
mistake of requiring too much from Baliol--forcing him to cede Lothian,
Tweeddale and the larger part of Galloway, and to promise a tribute.
These terms so irritated the Scots, who had shown signs of submission up
to this moment, that they refused to accept the pretender, and kept up a
long guerilla warfare which ended in his final expulsion. But the
fighting was all on Scottish ground, and Edward repeatedly made
incursions, showy if not effective, into the very heart of the northern
realm; on one occasion he reached Inverness unopposed. He held Perth
till 1339, Edinburgh till 1341, and was actually in possession of much
Scottish territory when his attention was called off from this minor war
to the greater question of the struggle with France. Meanwhile he had
acquired no small military reputation, had collected a large body of
professional soldiers whose experience was to be invaluable to him in
the continental war, and had taught his army the new tactics which were
to win Creçy and Poitiers. For the devices employed against the Scottish
"schiltrons" of pikemen at Dupplin and Halidon, were the same as those
which won all the great battles of the Hundred Years' War--the
combination of archery, not with cavalry (the old system of Hastings and
Falkirk), but with dismounted men-at-arms. The nation, meanwhile
prosperous, not vexed by overmuch taxation, and proud of its young king,
was ready and willing to follow him into any adventure that he might


  Causes of the Hundred Years' War.

Wars between England and France had been many, since William the
Conqueror first linked their fortunes together by adding his English
kingdom to his Norman duchy. They were bound to recur as long as the
kings who ruled on this side of the Channel were possessed of
continental dominions, which lay as near, or nearer, to their hearts
than their insular realm. While the kingdom of France was weak, monarchs
like Henry II. and Richard I. might dream of extending their transmarine
possessions to the detriment of their suzerain at Paris. When France had
grown strong, under Philip Augustus, the house of Plantagenet still
retained a broad territory in Gascony and Guienne, and the house of
Capet could not but covet the possession of the largest surviving feudal
appanage which marred the solidarity of their kingdom. There had been a
long interval of peace in the 13th century, because Henry III. of
England was weak, and Louis IX. of France an idealist, much more set on
forwarding the welfare of Christendom than the expansion of France. But
the inevitable struggle had recommenced with the accession of the
unscrupulous Philip IV. Its cause was simple; France was incomplete as
long as the English king ruled at Bordeaux and Bayonne, and far up the
valleys of the Garonne and the Adour. From 1293 onward Philip and his
sons had been striving to make an end of the power of the Plantagenets
in Aquitaine, sometimes by the simple argument of war, more frequently
by the insidious process of encroaching on ducal rights, summoning
litigants to Paris, and encouraging local magnates and cities alike to
play off their allegiance to their suzerain against that to their
immediate lord. Both in the time of Edward II. and in that of his son
active violence had several times been called in to aid legal chicanery.
Fortunately for the duke of Guienne the majority of his subjects had no
desire to become Frenchmen; the Gascons felt no national sympathy with
their neighbours of the north, and the towns in especial were linked to
England by close ties of commerce, and had no wish whatever to break off
their allegiance to the house of Plantagenet. The English rule, if often
weak, had never proved tyrannical, and they had a great dread of French
taxes and French officialism. But there were always individuals, more
numerous among the noblesse than among the citizens, whose private
interests impelled them to seek the aid of France.

The root of the Hundred Years' War, now just about to commence, must be
sought in the affairs of Guienne, and not in any of the other causes
which complicated and obscured the outbreak of hostilities. These,
however, were sufficiently important in themselves. The most obvious was
the aid which Philip VI. had given to the exiled David Bruce, when he
was driven out of Scotland by Edward and his ally Baliol. The English
king replied by welcoming and harbouring Robert of Artois, a cousin whom
Philip VI. had expelled from France. He also made alliances with several
of the dukes and counts of the Netherlands, and with the emperor Louis
the Bavarian, obviously with the intention of raising trouble for France
on her northern and eastern frontiers.

  Beginning of the war.

It was Philip, however, who actually began the war, by declaring Guienne
and the other continental dominions of Edward III. forfeited to the
French crown, and sending out a fleet which ravaged the south coast of
England in 1337. In return Edward raised a claim to the throne of
France, not that he had any serious intention of pressing it--for
throughout his reign he always showed himself ready to barter it away in
return for sufficient territorial gains--but because such a claim was in
several ways a useful asset to him both in war and in diplomacy. It was
first turned to account when the Flemings, who had scruples about
opposing their liege lord the king of France, found it convenient to
discover that, since Edward was the real king and not Philip, their
allegiance was due in the same direction whither their commercial
interests drew them. Led by the great demagogue dictator, Jacob van
Artevelde, they became the mainstay of the English party in the

  Edward III. and the French crown.

Edward's claim--such as it was--rested on the assertion that his mother,
Isabella, was nearer of kin to her brother Charles IV., the last king of
the main line of the house of Capet, than was Charles's cousin Philip of
Valois. The French lawyers ruled that heiresses could not succeed to the
crown themselves, but Edward pleaded that they could nevertheless
transmit their right to their sons. He found it convenient to forget
that the elder brother of Charles IV., King Louis X., had left a
daughter, whose son, the king of Navarre, had on this theory a title
preferable to his own. This prince, he said, had not been born at the
time of his grandfather's death, and so lost any rights that might have
passed to him had he been alive at that time. A far more fatal bar to
Edward's claim than the existence of Charles of Navarre was the fact
that the peers of France, when summoned to decide the succession
question nine years before, had decided that Philip of Valois had the
sole valid claim to the crown, and that Edward had then done homage to
him for Guienne. If he pleaded that in 1328 he had been the mere tool of
his mother and Mortimer, he could be reminded of the unfortunate fact
that in 1331, after he had crushed Mortimer, and taken the power into
his own hands, he had deliberately renewed his oath to King Philip.

Edward's claim to the French crown embittered the strife in a most
unnecessary fashion. It was an appeal to every discontented French
vassal to become a traitor under a plausible show of loyalty, and from
first to last many such persons utilized it. It also gave Edward an
excuse for treating every loyal Frenchman as guilty of treason, and, to
his shame, he did not always refrain from employing such a discreditable
device. Yet, as has been already said, he showed his consciousness of
the fallacy of his claim by offering to barter it again and again during
the course of the war for land or money. But he finally passed on the
wretched fiction as a heritage of his descendants, to cause untold woes
in the 15th century. It is seldom in the world's history that a hollow
legal device such as this has had such long enduring and deplorable

  Battle of Sluys.

In the commencement of his continental war Edward took little profit
either from his assumption of the French royal title, or from the
lengthy list of princes of the Low Countries whom he enrolled beneath
his banner. His two land-campaigns of 1339 and 1340 led to no victories
or conquests, but cost enormous sums of money. The Netherland allies
brought large contingents and took high pay from the king, but they
showed neither energy nor enthusiasm in his cause. When Philip of Valois
refused battle in the open, and confined his operations to defending
fortified towns, or stockading himself in entranched camps, the allies
drifted off, leaving the king with his English troops in force too small
to accomplish anything. The sole achievement of the early years of the
war which was of any profit to Edward or his realm was the great naval
triumph of Sluys (June 24, 1340), which gave the English the command of
the sea for the next twenty years. The French king had built or hired an
enormous fleet, and with it threatened to invade England. Seeing that he
could do nothing on land while his communications with the Low Countries
were endangered by the existence of this armada, Edward levied every
ship that was to be found, and brought the enemy to action in the
Flemish harbour of Sluys. After a day of desperate hand to hand
fighting--for the vessels grappled and the whole matter was settled by
boarding--the French fleet was annihilated. Henceforth England was safe
from coast raids, could conduct her commerce with Flanders without
danger, and could strike without difficulty at any point of the French
littoral. But it was not for some years that Edward utilized the
advantage that Sluys had given him. As long as he persevered in the
attempt to conduct the invasion of the northern frontier of France he
achieved nothing.

  Financial crisis. Trial of Archbishop Stratford.

Such schemes were finally abandoned simply because the king discovered
that his allies were worthless and that his money was all spent. On his
return from Flanders in 1340 he became involved in an angry controversy
with his ministers, whom he accused, quite unjustly, of wasting his
revenue and wrecking his campaign thereby. He imprisoned some of them,
and wished to try his late chancellor, Archbishop Stratford, for
embezzlement, in the court of the exchequer. But the primate contended
very vigorously for the right to be tried before his peers, and since
the king could get no subsidies from his parliament till he acknowledged
the justice of this claim, he was forced to concede it. Stratford was
acquitted--the king's thriftlessness and not the chancellor's
maladministration had emptied the treasury. Edward drifted on along the
path to financial ruin till he actually went bankrupt in 1345, when he
repudiated his debts, and ruined several great Italian banking houses,
who had been unwise enough to continue lending him money to the last.
The Flemings were also hard hit by this collapse of the king's credit,
and very naturally lost their enthusiasm for the English alliance. Van
Artevelde, its chief advocate, was murdered by his own townsmen in this
same year.

  War in Brittany.

The second act of the Hundred Years' War, after King Edward had
abandoned in despair his idea of invading France from the side of the
Netherlands, was fought out in another quarter--the duchy of Brittany.
Here a war of succession had broken out in which (oddly enough) Edward
took up the cause of the pretender who had male descent, while Philip
supported the one who represented a female line--each thus backing the
theory of heritage by which his rival claimed the throne of France. By
espousing the cause of John of Montfort Edward obtained a good foothold
on the flank of France, for many of the Breton fortresses were put into
his hands. But he failed to win any decisive advantage thereby over King
Philip. It was not till 1346, when he adopted the new policy of trusting
nothing to allies, and striking at the heart of France with a purely
English army, that Edward found the fortune of war turning in his

  Edward invades France.

  Battle of Creçy.

  Capture of Calais.

In this year he landed in Normandy, where the English banner had not
been seen since the days of King John, and executed a destructive raid
through the duchy, and up the Seine, till he almost reached the gates of
Paris. This brought out the king of France against him, with a mighty
host, before which Edward retreated northward, apparently intending to
retire to Flanders. But after crossing the Somme he halted at Creçy,
near Abbeville, and offered battle to the pursuing enemy. He fought
relying on the tactics which had been tried against the Scots at Dupplin
and Halidon Hill, drawing up his army with masses of dismounted
men-at-arms flanked on either side by archery. This array proved as
effective against the disorderly charges of the French noblesse as it
had been against the heavy columns of the Scottish pikemen. Fourteen
times the squadrons of King Philip came back to the charge; but mowed
down by the arrow-shower, they seldom could get to handstrokes with the
English knights, and at last rode off the field in disorder. This
astonishing victory over fourfold numbers was no mere chivalrous feat of
arms, it had the solid result of giving the victors a foothold in
northern France. For Edward took his army to beleaguer Calais, and after
blockading it for nearly a year forced it to surrender. King Philip,
after his experience at Creçy, refused to fight again in order to raise
the siege. From henceforth the English possessed a secure landing-place
in northern France, at the most convenient point possible, immediately
opposite Dover. They held it for over two hundred years, to their own
inestimable advantage in every recurring war.

  Battle of Neville's Cross.

The years 1345-1347 saw the zenith of King Edward's prosperity; in them
fell not only his own triumphs at Creçy and Calais, but a victory at
Auberoche in Périgord won by his cousin Henry of Lancaster, which
restored many long-lost regions of Guienne to the English suzerainty
(Oct. 21, 1345), and another and more famous battle in the far north. At
Neville's Cross, near Durham, the lords of the Border defeated and
captured David Bruce, king of Scotland (Oct. 17, 1346). The loss of
their king and the destruction of a fine army took the heart out of the
resistance of the Scots, who for many years to come could give their
French allies little assistance.

  Truce with France. The Black Death.

In 1347 Edward made a short truce with King Philip: even after his late
victories he felt his strength much strained, his treasury being empty,
and his army exhausted by the year-long siege of Calais. But he would
have returned to the struggle without delay had it not been for the
dreadful calamity of the "Black Death," which fell upon France and
England, as upon all Europe, in the years 1348-1349. The disease, on
which the 14th century bestowed this name, was the bubonic plague, still
familiar in the East. After devastating western Asia, it reached the
Mediterranean ports of Europe in 1347, and spread across the continent
in a few months. It was said that in France, Italy and England a third
of the population perished, and though this estimate may be somewhat
exaggerated, local records of unimpeachable accuracy show that it cannot
be very far from the truth. The bishop's registers of the diocese of
Norwich show that many parishes had three and some four successive
vicars admitted in eighteen months. In the manor rolls it is not
uncommon to find whole families swept away, so that no heir can be
detected to their holdings. Among the monastic orders, whose crowded
common life seems to have been particularly favourable to the spread of
the plague, there were cases where a whole community, from the abbot
down to the novices, perished. The upper classes are said to have
suffered less than the poor; but the king's daughter Joan and two
archbishops of Canterbury were among the victims. The long continuance
of the visitation, which as a rule took six or nine months to work out
its virulence in any particular spot, seems to have cowed and
demoralized society. Though it first spread from the ports of Bristol
and Weymouth in the summer of 1348, it had not finished its destruction
in northern England till 1350, and only spread into Scotland in the
summer of that year.

  Economic and social effects of the Black Death.

When the worst of the plague was over, and panic had died down, it was
found that the social conditions of England had been considerably
affected by the visitation. The condition of the realm had been stable
and prosperous during the earlier years of Edward III., the drain on its
resources caused by heavy war-taxation having been more than compensated
by the increased wealth that arose from growing commerce and developing
industries. The victory of Sluys, which gave England the command of the
seas, had been a great landmark in the economic no less than in the
naval history of this island. But the basis of society was shaken by the
Black Death; the kingdom was still essentially an agricultural
community, worked on the manorial system; and the sudden disappearance
of a third of the labouring hands by which that system had been
maintained threw everything into disorder. The landowners found
thousands of the crofts on which their villeins had been wont to dwell
vacant, and could not fill them with new tenants. Even if they exacted
the full rigour of service from the survivors, they could not get their
broad demesne lands properly tilled. The landless labourers, who might
have been hired to supply the deficiency, were so reduced in numbers
that they could command, if free competition prevailed, double and
triple rates of payment, compared with their earnings in the days before
the plague. Hence there arose, almost at once, a bitter strife between
the lords of manors and the labouring class, both landholding and
landless. The lords wished to exact all possible services from the
former, and to pay only the old two or three pence a day to the latter.
The villeins, as hard hit as their masters, resented the tightening of
old duties, which in some cases had already been commuted for small
money rents during the prosperous years preceding the plague. The
landless men formed combinations, disputed with the landlords, and asked
and often got twice as much as the old rates, despite of the murmurings
of the employer.

  The Statute of Labourers.

After a short experience of these difficulties the king and council,
whose sympathies were naturally with the landholders, issued an
ordinance forbidding workmen of any kind to demand more than they had
been wont to receive before 1348. This was followed up by the famous
Statute of Labourers of 1351, which fixed rates for all wages
practically identical with those of the times before the Black Death.
Those workmen who refused to accept them were to be imprisoned, while
employers who went behind the backs of their fellows and secretly paid
higher sums were to be punished by heavy fines. Later additions to the
statute were devised to terrorize the labourer, by adding stripes and
branding to his punishment, if he still remained recalcitrant or
absconded. And landowners were empowered to seize all vagrant
able-bodied men, and to compel them to work at the statutory wages. As
some compensation for the low pay of the workmen, parliament tried to
bring down the price of commodities to their former level, for (like
labour) all manufactured articles had gone up immensely in value.

Thirty years of friction followed, while the parliament and the ruling
classes tried in a spasmodic way to enforce the statute, and the
peasantry strove to evade it. It proved impossible to carry out the
scheme; the labourers were too many and too cunning to be crushed. If
driven over hard they absconded to the towns, where hands were needed as
much as in the countryside, or migrated to districts where the statute
was laxly administered. Gradually the landowners discovered that the
only practical way out of their difficulties was to give up the old
custom of working the manorial demesne by the forced labour of their
villeins, and to cut it up into farms which were rented out to free
tenants, and cultivated by them. In the course of two generations the
"farmers" who paid rent for these holdings became more and more
numerous, and demesne land tilled by villein-service grew more and more
rare. But enough old-fashioned landlords remained to keep up the
struggle with the peasants to the end of the 14th century and beyond,
and the number of times that the Statute of Labourers was re-enacted and
recast was enormous. Nevertheless the struggle turned gradually to the
advantage of the labourer, and ended in the creation of the sturdy and
prosperous farming yeomanry who were the strength of the realm for
several centuries to come.

  Renewal of the war with France.

  Battle of Poitiers.

One immediate consequence of the "Black Death" was the renewal of the
truce between England and France by repeated agreements which lasted
from 1347 to 1355. During this interval Philip of France died, in 1350,
and was succeeded by his son John. The war did not entirely cease, but
became local and spasmodic. In Brittany the factions which supported the
two claimants to the ducal title were so embittered that they never laid
down their arms. In 1351 the French noblesse of Picardy, apparently
without their master's knowledge or consent, made an attempt to surprise
Calais, which was beaten off with some difficulty by King Edward in
person. There was also constant bickering on the borders of Guienne. But
the main forces on both sides were not brought into action till the
series of truces ran out in 1355. From that time onward the English took
the offensive with great vigour. Edward, prince of Wales, ravaged
Languedoc as far as the Mediterranean, while his younger brother John of
Gaunt, duke of Lancaster, executed a less ambitious raid in Picardy and
Artois. In the south this campaign marked real progress, not mere
objectless plunder, for it was followed by the reconquest of great
districts in Périgord and the Agenais, which had been lost to England
since the 13th century. A similar double invasion of France led to even
greater results in the following year, 1356. While Lancaster landed in
Normandy, and with the aid of local rebels occupied the greater part of
the peninsula of the Côtentin, the prince of Wales accomplished greater
things on the borders of Aquitaine. After executing a great circular
sweep through Périgord, Limousin and Berry, he was returning to Bordeaux
laden with plunder, when he was intercepted by the king of France near
Poitiers. The battle that followed was the most astonishing of all the
English victories during the Hundred Years' War. The odds against the
prince were far heavier than those of Creçy, but by taking up a strong
position and using the national tactics which combined the use of
archery and dismounted men-at-arms, the younger Edward not merely beat
off his assailants in a long defensive fight, but finally charged out
upon them, scattered them, and took King John prisoner (Sept. 19, 1356).

  The English ravage France.

  Peace of Brétigny.

This fortunate capture put an enormous advantage in the hands of the
English; for John, a facile and selfish prince, was ready to buy his
freedom by almost any concessions. He signed two successive treaties
which gave such advantageous terms to Edward III. that the dauphin
Charles, who was acting as regent, and the French states-general refused
to confirm them. This drove the English king to put still further
pressure on the enemy; in 1359 he led out from Calais the largest
English army that had been seen during the war, devastated all northern
France as far as Reims and the borders of Burgundy, and then--continuing
the campaign through the heart of the winter--presented himself before
the gates of Paris and ravaged the Île de France. This brought the
regent Charles and his counsellors to the verge of despair; they
yielded, and on the 8th of May 1360, signed an agreement at Brétigny
near Chartres, by which nearly all King Edward's demands were granted.
These preliminaries were ratified by the definitive peace of Calais
(Oct. 24, 1360), which brought the first stage of the Hundred Years' War
to an end.

By this treaty King Edward formally gave up his claim to the French
throne, which he had always intended to use merely as an asset for
barter, and was to receive in return not only a sum of 3,000,000 gold
crowns for King John's personal ransom, but an immense cession of
territory which--in southern France at least--almost restored the old
boundaries of the time of Henry II. The duchy of Aquitaine was
reconstructed, so as to include not only the lands that Edward had
inherited, and his recent conquests, but all Poitou, Limousin,
Angoumois, Quercy, Rouergue and Saintonge--a full half of France south
of the Loire. This vast duchy the English king bestowed not long after
on his son Edward, the victor of Poitiers, who reigned there as a
vassal-sovereign, owing homage to England but administering his
possessions in his own right. In northern France, Calais and the county
of Guînes, and also the isolated county of Ponthieu, the inheritance of
the wife of Edward I., were ceded to the English crown. All these
regions, it must be noted, were to be held for the future free of any
homage or acknowledgment of allegiance to an overlord, "in perpetuity,
and in the manner in which the kings of France had held them." There was
to be an end to the power of the courts of Paris to harass the duke of
Aquitaine, by using the rights of the suzerain to interfere with the
vassal's subjects. It was hoped that for the future the insidious legal
warfare which had been used with such effect by the French kings would
be effectually prevented.

  Submission of David of Scotland.

To complete the picture of the triumph of Edward III. at this, the
culminating point of his reign, it must be mentioned that some time
before the peace of Calais he had made terms with Scotland. David Bruce
was to cede Roxburgh and Berwick, but to keep the rest of his dominions
on condition of paying a ransom of 100,000 marks. This sum could never
be raised, and Edward always had it in his power to bring pressure to
bear on the king of Scots by demanding the instalments, which were
always in arrear. David gave no further trouble; indeed he became so
friendly to England that he offered to proclaim Lionel of Clarence,
Edward's second son, as his heir, and would have done so but for the
vigorous opposition of his parliament.

  Economic progress in England.

The English people had expected that a sort of Golden Age would follow
the conclusion of the peace with Scotland and France. Freed from the
war-taxes which had vexed them for the last twenty years, they would be
able to repair the ravages of the Black Death, and to develop the
commercial advantages which had been won at Sluys, and secured by the
dominion of the seas which they had held ever since. In some respects
this expectation was not deceived; the years that followed 1360 seem to
have been prosperous at home, despite the continued friction arising
from the Statute of Labourers. The towns would seem to have fared better
than the countryside, partly indeed at its expense, for the discontented
peasantry migrated in large numbers to the centres of population where
newly-developed manufactures were calling for more hands. The weaving
industry, introduced into the eastern counties by the king's invitation
to Flemish settlers, was making England something more than a mere
producer of raw material for export. The seaports soon recovered from
their losses in the Black Death, and English shipping was beginning to
appear in the distant seas of Portugal and the Baltic. Nothing
illustrates the growth of English wealth better than the fact that the
kingdom had, till the time of Edward III., contrived to conduct all its
commerce with a currency of small silver, but that within thirty years
of his introduction of a gold coinage in 1343, the English "noble" was
being struck in enormous quantities. It invaded all the markets of
western Europe, and became the prototype of the gold issues of the
Netherlands, Scotland, and even parts of Germany. It is in the latter
years of Edward III. that we find the first forerunners of that class of
English merchant princes who were to be such a marked feature in the
succeeding reigns. The Poles of Hull, whose descendants rose in three
generations to ducal rank, were the earliest specimens of their class.
The poet Chaucer may serve as a humbler example of the rise of the
burgher class--the son of a vintner, he became the father of a knight,
and the ancestor, through female descents, of many baronial families.
The second half of the 14th century is the first period in English
history in which we can detect a distinct rise in the importance of the
commercial as opposed to the landed interest. The latter, hard hit by
the manorial difficulties that followed the plague of 1348-1349, found
their rents stationary or even diminishing, while the price of the
commodities from which the former made their wealth had permanently
risen. As to intellectual vigour, the age that produced two minds of
such marked originality in different spheres as Wycliffe and Chaucer
must not be despised, even if it failed to carry out all the promise of
the 13th century.

  English rule in France.

For a few years after the peace of 1360 the political influence of
Edward III. in western Europe seemed to be supreme. France, prostrated
by the results of the English raids, by peasant revolts, and municipal
and baronial turbulence, did not begin to recover strength till the
thriftless king John had died (1364) and had been succeeded by his
capable if unchivalrous son Charles V. Yet the state of the English
dominions on the continent was not satisfactory; in building up the vast
duchy of Aquitaine Edward had made a radical mistake. Instead of
contenting himself with creating a homogeneous Gascon state, which might
have grown together into a solid unit, he had annexed broad regions
which had been for a century and a half united to France, and had been
entirely assimilated to her. From the first Poitou, Quercy, Rouergue and
the Limousin chafed beneath the English yoke; the noblesse in especial
found the comparatively orderly and constitutional governance to which
they were subjected most intolerable. They waited for the first
opportunity to revolt, and meanwhile murmured against every act of their
duke, the prince of Wales, though he did his best to behave as a
gracious sovereign.

  The Black Prince in Spain.

The younger Edward ended by losing his health and his wealth in an
unnecessary war beyond the Pyrenees. He was persuaded by the exiled
Peter the Cruel, king of Castile, to restore him to the throne which he
had forfeited by his misgovernment. In 1367 he gathered a great army,
entered Castile, defeated the usurper Henry of Trastamara at the battle
of Najera, and restored his ally. But Peter, when once re-established as
king, forgot his obligations and left the prince burdened with the whole
expense of the campaign. Edward left Spain with a discontented and
unpaid army, and had himself contracted the seeds of a disease which was
to leave him an invalid for the rest of his life. To pay his debts he
was obliged to resort to heavy taxation in Aquitaine, which gave his
discontented subjects in Poitou and the other outlying districts an
excuse for the rebellion that they had been for some time meditating. In
1368 his greatest vassals, the counts of Armagnac, Périgord and
Comminges, displayed their disloyalty by appealing to the king of France
as their suzerain against the legality of Edward's imposts. The French
overlordship had been formally abolished by the treaty of 1360, so this
appeal amounted to open rebellion. And when Charles V. accepted it, and
cited Edward to appear before his parlement to answer the complaints of
the counts, he was challenging England to renewed war. He found a
preposterous excuse for repudiating the treaty by which he was bound, by
declaring that some details had been omitted in its formal ratification.

  Renewal of the war with France.

The Hundred Years' War, therefore, broke out again in 1369, after an
interval of nine years. Edward III. assumed once more the title of king
of France, while Charles V., in the usual style, declared that the whole
duchy of Aquitaine had been forfeited for treason and rebellion on the
part of its present holder. The second period of war, which was to last
till the death of the English king, and for some years after, was
destined to prove wholly disastrous to England. All the conditions had
changed since 1360. Edward, though only in his fifty-seventh year, was
entering into a premature and decrepit old age, in which he became the
prey of unworthy favourites, male and female. The men of the 14th
century, who commanded armies and executed _coups d'état_ at eighteen,
were often worn out by sixty. The guidance of the war should have fallen
into the hands of his eldest son, the victor of Poitiers and Najera, but
the younger Edward had never recovered from the fatigues of his Spanish
campaign; his disease having developed into a form of dropsy, he had
become a confirmed invalid and could no longer take the field. The
charge of the military operations of the English armies had passed to
John of Gaunt, duke of Lancaster, the king's younger son, a prince far
inferior in capacity to his father and brother. Though not destitute of
good impulses Lancaster was hasty, improvident and obstinate; he was
unfortunate in his choice of friends, for he allied himself to all his
father's unscrupulous dependents. He was destitute of military skill,
and wrecked army after army by attempting hard tasks at inappropriate
times and by mistaken methods. Despite of all checks and disasters he
remained active, self-confident and ambitious, and, since he had
acquired a complete control over his father, he had ample opportunity to
mismanage the political and military affairs of England.

  Character of the war.

Lancaster's strategy, in the early years of the renewed war, consisted
mainly of attempts to wear down the force of France by devastating
raids; he hoped to provoke the enemy to battle by striking at the heart
of his realm, but never achieved his purpose. Warned by the disasters of
Creçy and Poitiers, Charles V. and his great captain Bertrand du
Guesclin would never commit themselves to an engagement in the open
field. They let the English invaders pass by, garrisoning the towns but
abandoning the countryside. Since Lancaster, in his great circular
raids, had never the leisure to sit down to a siege--generally a matter
of long months in the 14th century--he repeatedly crossed France leaving
a train of ruined villages behind him, but having accomplished nothing
else save the exhaustion of his own army. For the French always followed
him at a cautious distance, cutting off his stragglers, and restricting
the area of his ravages by keeping flying columns all around his path.
But while the duke was executing useless marches across France, the
outlying lands of Aquitaine were falling away, one after the other, to
the enemy. The limit of the territory which still remained loyal was
ever shrinking, and what was once lost was hardly ever regained. Almost
the only reconquest made was that of the city of Limoges, which was
stormed in September 1370 by the troops of the Black Prince, who rose
from his sick-bed to strike his last blow at the rebels. His success did
almost as much harm as good to his cause, for the deliberate sack of the
city was carried out with such ruthless severity that it roused wild
wrath rather than terror in the neighbouring regions. Next spring the
prince returned to England, feeling himself physically unable to
administer or defend his duchy any longer.

  English reverses.

The greater part of Poitou, Quercy and Rouergue had been lost, and the
English cause was everywhere losing ground, when a new danger was
developed. Since Sluys the enemy had never disputed the command of the
seas; but in 1372 a Spanish fleet joined the French, and destroyed off
La Rochelle a squadron which was bringing reinforcements for Guienne.
The disaster was the direct result of the campaign of Najera--for Henry
of Trastamara, who had long since dethroned and slain his brother Peter
the Cruel, remained a consistent foe of England. From this date onward
Franco-Spanish fleets were perpetually to be met not only in the Bay of
Biscay but in the Channel; they made the voyage to Bordeaux unsafe, and
often executed descents on the shores of Kent, Sussex, Devon and
Cornwall. It was to no effect that, in the year after the battle of La
Rochelle, Lancaster carried out the last, the most expensive, and the
most fruitless of his great raids across France. He marched from Calais
to Bordeaux, inflicted great misery on Picardy, Champagne and Berry, and
left half his army dead by the way.

This did not prevent Bertrand du Guesclin from expelling from his
dominions John of Brittany, the one ally whom King Edward possessed in
France, or from pursuing a consistent career of petty conquest in the
heart of Aquitaine. By 1374 little was left of the great possessions
which the English had held beyond the Channel save Calais, and the coast
slip from Bordeaux to Bayonne, which formed the only loyal part of the
duchy of Guienne. Next year King Edward sued for peace--he failed to
obtain it, finding the French terms too hard for acceptance--but a
truce at least was signed at Bruges (Jan. 1375) which endured till a few
weeks before his death.

  Domestic strife.

  Agitation against the Church.


These two last years of Edward's reign were filled with an episode of
domestic strife, which had considerable constitutional importance. The
nation ascribed the series of disasters which had filled the space from
1369 to 1375 entirely to the maladministration of Lancaster and the
king's favourites, failing to see that it was largely due to the mere
fact that England was not strong enough to hold down Aquitaine, when
France was administered by a capable king and served by a great general.
Hence there arose, both in and out of parliament, a violent agitation
for the removal of Lancaster from power, and the punishment of the
favourites, who were believed, with complete justification, to be
misusing the royal name for their own private profit. Among the leaders
of this agitation were the clerical ministers whom John of Gaunt had
expelled from office in 1371, and chiefly William of Wykeham, bishop of
Winchester, the late chancellor; they were helped by Edmund Mortimer,
earl of March, a personal enemy of Lancaster, and could count on the
assistance of the prince of Wales when he was well enough to take a part
in politics. The greater part of the House of Commons was on their side,
and on the whole they may be regarded as the party of constitutional
protest against maladministration. But there was another movement on
foot at the same time, which cut across this political agitation in the
most bewildering fashion. Protests against the corruption of the Church
and the interference of the papacy in national affairs had always been
rife in England. At this moment they were more prevalent than ever,
largely in consequence of the way in which the popes at Avignon had made
themselves the allies and tools of the kings of France. The Statutes of
Praemunire and Provisors had been passed a few years before (1351-1365)
to check papal pretensions. There was a strong anti-clerical party,
whose practical aim was to fill the coffers of the state by large
measures of disendowment and confiscations of Church property. The
intellectual head of this party at the time was John Wycliffe, a famous
Oxford teacher, and for some time master of Balliol College. In his
lectures and sermons he was always laying stress on the unsatisfactory
state of the national church and the infamous corruption of the papacy.
The doctrine which first made him famous, and commended him to all
members of the anti-clerical faction, was that unworthy holders of
spiritual endowments ought to be dispossessed of them, because
"dominion" should depend on "grace." Churchmen, small and great, as he
held, had been corrupted, because they had fallen away from the early
Christian idea of apostolic poverty. Instead of discharging their proper
functions, bishops and abbots had become statesmen or wealthy barons,
and took no interest in anything save politics. The monasteries, with
their vast possessions, had become corporations of landlords, instead of
associations for prayer and good works. The papacy, with its secular
ambitions, and its insatiable greed for money, was the worst abuse of
all. A bad pope, and most popes were bad, was the true Antichrist, since
he was always overruling the divine law of the scriptures by his human
ordinances. Every man, as Wycliffe taught--using the feudal analogies of
contemporary society--is God's tenant-in-chief, directly responsible for
his acts to his overlord; the pope is always thrusting himself in
between, like a mesne-tenant, and destroying the touch between God and
man by his interference. Sometimes his commands are merely presumptuous;
sometimes--as when, for example, he preaches crusades against Christians
for purely secular reasons--they are the most horrible form of
blasphemy. Wycliffe at a later period of his life developed views on
doctrinal matters, not connected with his original thesis about the
relations between Church and State, and foreshadowed most of the leading
tenets of the reformers of the 16th century. But in 1376-1377 he was
known merely as the outspoken critic of the "Caesarean clergy" and the
papacy. He had a following of enthusiastic disciples at Oxford, and
scattered adherents both among the burghers and the knighthood, the
nucleus of the party that afterwards became famous as the Lollards. But
they had not yet differentiated themselves from the body of those who
were merely anti-clerical, without being committed to any theories of
religious reform.

  John of Gaunt and Wycliffe.

Since Wycliffe was, above all things, the enemy of the political clergy
of high estate, and since those clergy were precisely the leaders of the
attack upon John of Gaunt, it came to pass that hatred of a common foe
drew the duke and the doctor together for a space. There was a strange
alliance between the advocate of clerical reform, and the practical
exponent of secular misgovernment. The only point on which they were
agreed was that it would be highly desirable to strip the Church of most
of her endowments, in order to fill the exchequer of the state.
Lancaster hoped to use Wycliffe as his mouthpiece against his enemies;
Wycliffe hoped to see Lancaster disendowing bishops and monasteries and
defying the pope. Hence the attempt of the political bishops to get
Wycliffe condemned as a heretic became inextricably mixed with the
attempt of the constitutional party, to which the bishops belonged, to
evict the duke from his position of first councillor to the king and
director of the policy of the realm.

  The "Good Parliament."

  Overthrow of the king's favourites.

  Constitutional reforms.

The struggle began in the parliament of 1376, called by the
anti-Lancastrian party the "Good Parliament." Headed by the earl of
March, William Courtenay, bishop of London, and Sir Peter de la Mare,
the daring speaker of the House of Commons, the duke's enemies began
their campaign by accusing the king's ministers and favourites of
corruption. Here they were on safe ground, for the misdeeds of Lord
Latimer--the king's chamberlain, Lord Neville--his steward, Richard
Lyons--his financial agent, and Alice Perrers--his greedy and shameless
mistress, had been so flagrant that it was hard for Lancaster to defend
them. In face of the evidence brought forward the old king and his son
had to abandon their friends to the angry parliament. Latimer and Lyons
were condemned to imprisonment and forfeiture of their goods, Alice
Perrers was banished from court. Encouraged by this victory, the
parliament passed on to constitutional reforms, forced on the king a
council of twelve peers nominated by themselves, who were to exercise
over him much the same control that the lords ordainers had held over
his father, and compelled him to assent to a long list of petitions
which, if properly carried out, would have removed most of the practical
grievances of the nation. Having so done they dispersed, not guessing
that Lancaster had yielded so easily because he was set on undoing their
work the moment that they were gone.

  John of Gaunt re-establishes the royal power.

  Death of the Black Prince.

This, however, was the case; after the shortest of intervals the duke
executed something like a _coup d'état_. In his father's name he
released Latimer and Lyons, dismissed the council of twelve, imprisoned
Peter de la Mare, sequestrated the temporalities of Bishop Wykeham, and
sent the earl of March out of the realm. Alice Perrers took possession
again of the king, and all his corrupt courtiers came back to him. A
royal edict declared the statutes of the "Good Parliament" null and
void. Lancaster would never have dared to defy public opinion and
challenge the constitutional party to a life-and-death struggle in this
fashion, had it not been that his brother the prince of Wales had died
while the "Good Parliament" was sitting; thus the opposition had been
deprived of their strongest support. The prince's heir was a mere child,
Richard of Bordeaux, aged only nine. It was feared by some that Duke
John might carry his ambitions so far as to aim at the throne--he could
do what he pleased with his doting father, and flaws might have been
picked in the marriage of the Black Prince and his wife Joan of Kent,
who were cousins, and therefore within the "prohibited degrees." As a
matter of fact Lancaster was a more honest man than his enemies
suspected; he hastened to acknowledge his little nephew's rights,
acknowledged him as prince of Wales, and introduced him as his
grandfather's heir before the parliament of January 1377.

  Death of Edward III.

The character of this body was a proof of the great strength of the
royal name and power even in days when parliamentary institutions had
been long in existence, and were supposed to act as a check on the
crown. To legalize his arbitrary acts Duke John dared to summon the
estates together, after he had issued stringent orders to the sheriffs
to exclude his enemies and return his friends when the members for the
Commons were chosen. He obtained a house of the complexion that he
desired, and having a strong following among the peers actually
succeeded in undoing all the work of 1376. No sign of trouble or
rebellion followed, the opposition being destitute of a fighting leader.
March had left the realm; Bishop Wykeham showed an unworthy subservience
by suing for pardon through the mediation of Alice Perrers. Only Bishop
Courtenay refused to be terrorized; he chose this moment to open a
campaign against the duke's ally, John Wycliffe, who was arraigned for
heresy before the ecclesiastical courts. His trial, however, ended in a
scandalous fiasco. Lancaster and his friend Lord Percy came to St
Paul's, and so insulted and browbeat the bishop, that the proceedings
degenerated into a riot, and reached no conclusion (Feb. 19). Courtenay
dared not recommence them, and Lancaster ruled as he pleased till his
father, five months later, died. Deserted by his worthless courtiers and
plundered on his death-bed by his greedy mistress, the victor of Sluys
and Creçy sank into an unhonoured grave. It was a relief to the nation
that he was gone. Yet there was a general feeling that chaos might
follow. If Lancaster should justify the malevolent rumours that were
afloat by making a snatch at the crown, the last state of the realm
might be worse than the first.

  Richard II.

Duke John, however, was a better man than his enemies supposed. He was
loyal to the crown according to his lights, and showed a chivalrous
self-denial that had hardly been expected from him. He saluted his
little nephew as king without a moment's hesitation, though he was aware
that with the commencement of a new reign his own dictatorship had come
to an end. The princess of Wales, in whose hands the young Richard II.
was placed, had never been his friend, and was surrounded by adherents
of her deceased husband, who belonged to the constitutional party.
Disarmed, however, by the duke's frank submission they wisely resolved
not to push him to extremes, and the first council which was appointed
to act for the new monarch was a sort of "coalition ministry" in which
Lancaster's followers as well as his foes were represented. For that
very reason it was lacking in strength and unity of purpose, and proved
lamentably incapable of dealing with the problems of the moment.

  The French war.

Of these the most pressing was the renewal of the French war; the truce
had expired a few weeks before the death of Edward III., and the new
reign began with a series of military disasters. The French fleet landed
in great force in Sussex, burnt Rye and Hastings and routed the shire
levies. Simultaneously the seneschal of Aquitaine was defeated in
battle, and Bergerac, the last great town in the inland which remained
in English hands, was captured by the duke of Anjou.

  First parliament of Richard. Reforms.

The first parliament of Richard II. met in October under the most gloomy
auspices. It showed its temper by taking up the work of the "Good
Parliament." Lancaster's adherents were turned out of the council; the
persons condemned in 1376 were declared incapable of serving in it;
Alice Perrers was sentenced to banishment and forfeiture, and the little
king was made to repudiate the declaration whereby his uncle had quashed
the statutes of 1376 by declaring that "no act of parliament can be
repealed save with parliament's consent." John of Gaunt bowed before the
storm, retired to his estates, and for some time took little part in
affairs of state.

Unfortunately the new government proved wholly unable either to conduct
the struggle with France successfully or to pluck up courage to make a
humiliating peace--the only wise course before them. The nation was too
proud to accept defeat, and persevered in the unhappy attempt to reverse
the fortunes of war. An almost unbroken series of petty disasters
marked the first three years of King Richard. The worst was the failure
of the last great devastating raid which the English launched against
France. Thomas of Woodstock, the youngest son of Edward III., took a
powerful army to Calais, and marched through Picardy and Champagne, past
Orleans, and finally to Rennes in Brittany, but accomplished nothing
save the ruin of his own troops and the wasting of a vast sum of money.
Meanwhile taxation was heavy, the whole nation was seething with
discontent, and--what was worst--no way was visible out of the miserable
situation; ministers and councillors were repeatedly displaced, but
their successors always proved equally incompetent to find a remedy.

  The Great Revolt of 1381.

This period of murmuring and misery culminated in the Great Revolt of
1381, a phenomenon whose origins must be sought in the most complicated
causes, but whose outbreak was due in the main to a general feeling that
the realm was being misgoverned, and that some one must be made
responsible for its maladministration. It was actually provoked by the
unwise and unjust poll-tax of one shilling a head on all adult persons,
voted by the parliament of Northampton in November 1380. The last
poll-tax had been carefully graduated on a sliding scale so as to press
lightly on the poorest classes; in this one a shilling for each person
had to be exacted from every township, though it was provided that "the
strong should help the weak" to a certain extent. But in hundreds of
villages there were no "strong" residents, and the poorest cottager had
to pay his three groats. The peasantry defended themselves by the simple
device of understating the numbers of their families; the returns made
it appear that the adult population of England had gone down from
1,355,000 to 896,000 since the poll-tax of 1379. Thereupon the
government sent out commissioners to revise the returns and exact the
missing shillings. Their appearance led to a series of widespread and
preconcerted riots, which soon spread over all England from the Wash to
the Channel, and in a few days developed into a formidable rebellion.
The poll-tax was no more than the spark which fired the mine; it merely
provided a good general grievance on which all malcontents could unite.
In the districts which took arms two main causes of insurrection may be
differentiated; the first and the most widespread was the discontent of
the rural population with the landowners and the Statute of Labourers.
Their aim was to abolish all villein-service, and to wring from their
lords the commutation of all manorial customs and obligations for a
small rent--fourpence an acre was generally the sum suggested. But there
was a simultaneous outbreak in many urban districts. In Winchester,
London, St Albans, Canterbury, Bury, Beverley, Scarborough and many
other places the rioting was as violent as in the countryside. Here the
object of the insurgents was in most cases to break down the local
oligarchy, who engrossed all municipal office and oppressed the meaner
citizens; but in less numerous instances their end was to win charters
from lords (almost always ecclesiastical lords) who had hitherto refused
to grant them. But it must not be forgotten that there was also a tinge
of purely political discontent about the rising; the insurgents
everywhere proclaimed their intention to destroy "traitors," of whom the
most generally condemned were the chancellor, Archbishop Sudbury, and
the treasurer, Sir Robert Hailes, the two persons most responsible for
the levy of the poll-tax. Often the rebels added the name of John of
Gaunt to the list, looking upon him as the person ultimately responsible
for the mismanagement of the war and the misgovernment of the realm. It
must be added that though the leaders of the revolt were for the most
part local demagogues, the creatures of the moment, there were among
them a few fanatics like the "mad priest of Kent," John Ball, who had
long preached socialist doctrines from the old text:

  "When Adam delved and Eve span
   Who was then the gentleman?"

and clamoured for the abolition of all differences of rank, status and
property. Though many clerics were found among the rebels, it does not
seem that any of them were Wycliffites, or that the reformer's teaching
had played any part in exciting the peasantry at this time. No
contemporary authority ascribes the rising to the Lollards.

  Wat Tyler.

The riots had begun, almost simultaneously in Kent and Essex: from
thence they spread through East Anglia and the home counties. In the
west and north there were only isolated and sporadic outbreaks, confined
to a few turbulent towns. In the countryside the insurrection was
accompanied by wholesale burnings of manor-rolls, the hunting down of
unpopular bailiffs and landlords, and a special crusade against the
commissioners of the poll-tax and the justices who had been enforcing
the Statute of Labourers. There was more arson and blackmailing than
murder, though some prominent persons perished, such as the judge, Sir
John Cavendish, and the prior of Bury. In many regions the rising was
purely disorderly and destitute of organization. This was not, however,
the case in Kent and London. The mob which had gathered at Maidstone and
Canterbury marched on the capital many thousands strong, headed by a
local demagogue named Wat Tyler, whom they had chosen as their captain;
his most prominent lieutenant was the preacher John Ball. They announced
their intention of executing all "traitors," seizing the person of the
king, and setting up a new government for the realm. The royal council
and ministers showed grievous incapacity and cowardice--they made no
attempt to raise an army, and opened negotiations with the rebels. While
these were in progress the malcontent party in London, headed by three
aldermen, opened the gates of the city to Tyler and his horde. They
poured in, and, joined by the London mob, sacked John of Gaunt's palace
of the Savoy, the Temple, and many other buildings, while the ministers
took refuge with the young king in the Tower. It was well known that not
only the capital and the neighbouring counties but all eastern England
was ablaze, and the council in despair sent out the young king to parley
with Tyler at Mile End. The rebels at first demanded no more than that
Richard should declare villeinage abolished, and that all feudal dues
and services should be commuted for a rent of fourpence an acre. This
was readily conceded, and charters were drawn up to that effect and
sealed by the king. But, while the meeting was still going on, Tyler
went off to the Tower with a part of his horde, entered the fortress
unopposed, and murdered the unhappy chancellor, Archbishop Sudbury, the
treasurer, and several victims more. This was only the beginning of
massacre. Instead of dispersing with their charters, as did many of the
peasants, Tyler and his confederates ran riot through London, burning
houses and slaying lawyers, officials, foreign merchants and other
unpopular persons. This had the effect of frightening the propertied
classes in the city, who had hitherto observed a timid neutrality, and
turned public opinion against the insurgents. Next day the rebel leaders
again invited the king to a conference, in the open space of Smithfield,
and laid before him a programme very different from that propounded at
Mile End. Tyler demanded that all differences of rank and status should
cease, that all church lands should be confiscated and divided up among
the laity, that the game laws should be abolished, and that "no lord
should any longer hold lordship except civilly." Apparently he was set
on provoking a refusal, and thus getting an excuse for seizing the
person of the king. But matters went otherwise than he had expected;
when he waxed unmannerly, and unsheathed his dagger to strike one of the
royal retinue who had dared to answer him back, the mayor of London,
William Walworth, drew his cutlass and cut him down. The mob strung
their bows, and were about to shoot down the king and his suite. But
Richard--who showed astounding nerve and presence of mind for a lad of
fourteen--cantered up to them shouting that he would be their chief and
captain and would give them their rights. The conference was continued,
but, while it was in progress, the mayor brought up the whole civic
militia of London, who had taken arms when they saw that the triumph of
the rebels meant anarchy, and rescued the king out of the hands of the
mob. Seeing such a formidable body of armed men opposed to them, the
insurgents dispersed--without their reckless and ready-witted captain
they were helpless (June 15, 1381).

  Suppression of the rising.

This was the turning-point of the rebellion; within a few days the
council had collected a considerable army, which marched through Essex
scattering such rebel bands as still held together. Kent was pacified at
the same time; and Henry Despenser, the warlike bishop of Norwich, made
a separate campaign against the East Anglian insurgents, defeating them
at the skirmish of North Walsham, and hanging the local leader Geoffrey
Lister, who had declared himself "king of the commons" (June 25, 1381).
After this there was nothing remaining save to punish the leaders of the
revolt; a good many scores of them were hanged, though the vengeance
exacted does not seem to have been greater than was justified by the
numerous murders and burnings of which they had been guilty; the fanatic
Ball was, of course, among the first to suffer. On the 30th of August
the rough methods of martial law were suspended, and on the 14th of
December the king issued an amnesty to all save certain leaders who had
hitherto escaped capture. A parliament had been called in November; it
voted that all the charters given by the king at Mile End were null and
void, no manumissions or grants of privileges could have been valid
without the consent of the estates of the realm, "and for their own
parts they would never consent to such, of their own free will nor
otherwise, even to save themselves from sudden death."

  Decline of the manorial system.

The rebellion, therefore, had failed either to abolish villeinage in the
countryside or to end municipal oligarchy in the towns, and many lords
took the opportunity of the time of reaction in order to revindicate old
claims over their bondsmen. Nevertheless serfdom continued to decline
all through the latter years of the 14th century, and was growing
obsolete in the 15th. This, however, was the result not of the great
revolt of 1381, but of economic causes working out their inevitable
progress. The manorial system was already doomed, and the rent-paying
tenant farmers, who had begun to appear after the Black Death, gradually
superseded the villeins as the normal type of peasantry during the two
generations that followed the outbreak that is generally known as "Wat
Tyler's rebellion."

  Wycliffe and the Lollards.

King Richard, though he had shown such courage and ready resources at
Smithfield, was still only a lad of fourteen. For three years more he
was under the control of tutors and governors appointed by his council.
Their rule was incompetent, but the chief danger to the realm had passed
away when both Charles V. of France and his great captain Du Guesclin
died in 1380. The new king at Paris was a young boy, whose councils were
swayed by a knot of quarrelsome and selfish uncles; the vigour of the
attack on England began to slacken. Nevertheless there was no change in
the fortune of war, which continued to be disastrous, if on a smaller
scale than before. The chief domestic event of the time was the attack
of the clerical party on Wycliffe and his followers. The reformer had
begun to develop dogmatic views, in addition to his old theories about
the relations of Church and State. When he proceeded to deny the
doctrine of transubstantiation, to assert the all-sufficiency of the
Scriptures as a rule of life, to denounce saint-worship, pilgrimages,
and indulgences, and to declare the pope to be Antichrist, he frightened
his old supporter John of Gaunt and the politicians of the anti-clerical
clique. They ceased to support him, and his followers became a sect
rather than a political party. He and his disciples were expelled from
Oxford, and ere long the bishops began to arrest and try them for
heresy. Wycliffe himself, strange to say, was not molested. He survived
to publish his translation of the Bible and to die in peace in December
1383. But his followers were being hunted, and imprisoned or forced to
recant, all through the later years of Richard II. Yet they continued to
multiply, and exercised at times considerable influence; though they had
few supporters among the baronage, yet among the lesser gentry and still
more among the burgher class and in the universities they were strong.
It was not till the next reign, when the bishops succeeded in calling
in the crown to their aid, and passed the statute _De heretico
comburendo_, that Lollardy ceased to flourish.

  Richard's personal rule.

  Impeachment of the king's "favourites."

  The "lords appellant."

  Execution of the king's friends.

King Richard meanwhile had grown to man's estate, and had resolved to
take the reins of power into his own hands. He was wayward,
high-spirited and self-confident. He wished to restore the royal powers
which had slipped into the hands of the council and parliament during
his minority, and had small doubts of his capacity to restore it. His
chosen instruments were two men whom his enemies called his
"favourites," though it was absurd to apply the name either to an
elderly statesman like Michael de la Pole, who was made chancellor in
1384, or to Robert de Vere, earl of Oxford, a young noble of the oldest
lineage, who was the king's other confidant. Neither of them was an
upstart, and both, the one from his experience and the other from his
high station, were persons who might legitimately aspire to a place
among the advisers of the king. But Richard was tactless; he openly
flouted his two uncles, John of Gaunt and Thomas of Woodstock, and took
no pains to conciliate either the baronage or the commons. His
autocratic airs and his ostentatious preference for his confidants--of
whom he made the one earl of Suffolk and the other marquess of
Dublin--provoked both lords and commons. Pole was impeached on a
groundless charge of corruption and condemned, but Richard at once
pardoned him and restored him to favour. De Vere was banished to
Ireland, but at his master's desire omitted to leave the realm. The
contemptuous disregard for the will of parliament which the king
displayed brought on him a worse fate than he deserved. His youngest
uncle, Thomas of Woodstock, duke of Gloucester, was a designing and
ambitious prince who saw his own advantage in embittering the strife
between Richard and his parliament. John of Gaunt having departed to
Spain, where he was stirring up civil strife in the name of his wife,
the heiress of Peter the Cruel, Gloucester put himself at the head of
the opposition. Playing the part of the demagogue, and exaggerating all
his nephew's petulant acts and sayings, he declared the constitution in
danger, and took arms at the head of a party of peers, the earls of
Warwick, Arundel and Nottingham, and Henry, earl of Derby, the son of
John of Gaunt, who called themselves the lords appellant, because they
were ready to "appeal" Richard's councillors of treason. Public opinion
was against the king, and the small army which his confidant De Vere
raised under the royal banner was easily scattered by Gloucester's
forces at the rout of Radcot Bridge (Dec. 20, 1387). Oxford and Suffolk
succeeded in escaping to France, but the king and the rest of his
adherents fell into the hands of the lords appellant. They threatened
for a moment to depose him, but finally placed him under the control of
a council and ministers chosen by themselves, and to put him in a proper
state of terror, executed Lord Beauchamp, the judge, Sir Robert
Tressilian, and six or seven more of his chief friends. This was a piece
of gratuitous cruelty, for the king, though wayward and unwise, had done
nothing to justify such treatment.

  Richard rules constitutionally.

  Peace with France.

To the surprise of the nation Richard took his humiliation quietly. But
he was merely biding his time; he had sworn revenge in his heart, but he
was ready to wait long for it. For the next nine years he appeared an
unexceptionable sovereign, anxious only to conciliate the nation and
parliament. He got rid of the ministers imposed upon him by the lords
appellant, but replaced them by Bishop Wykeham and other old statesmen
against whom no objection could be raised. He disarmed Gloucester by
making a close alliance with his elder uncle John of Gaunt, who had been
absent in Spain during the troubles of 1387-1388, and was displeased at
the violent doings of his brother. His rule was mild and moderate, and
he succeeded at last in freeing himself from the incubus of the French
war--the source of most of the evils of the time, for it was the heavy
taxation required to feed this struggle which embittered all the
domestic politics of the realm. After two long truces, which filled the
years 1390-1395, a definitive peace was at last concluded, by which the
English king kept Calais and the coast-strip of Guienne, from Bordeaux
to Bayonne, which had never been lost to the enemy. To confirm the
peace, he married Isabella, the young daughter of Charles VI. (Nov.
1396); he had lost his first wife, the excellent Anne of Bohemia, two
years before.

  Richard reduces Ireland to obedience.

  His revenge on Gloucester and the lords appellant.

  Banishment of Bolingbroke and Norfolk.

The king seemed firmly seated on his throne--so much so that in 1395 he
had found leisure for a long expedition to Ireland, which none of his
ancestors had visited since King John. He compelled all the native
princes to do him homage, and exercised the royal authority in such a
firm manner as had never before been known in the island. But those who
looked forward to quiet and prosperous times both for Ireland and for
England were destined to be undeceived. In 1397 Richard carried out an
extraordinary and unexpected _coup d'état_, which he had evidently
premeditated for many years. Having lived down his unpopularity, and
made himself many powerful friends, he resolved to take his
long-deferred revenge on Gloucester and the other lords appellant. He
trumped up a vain story that his uncle was once more conspiring against
him, arrested him, and sent him over to Calais, where he was secretly
murdered in prison. At the same time Gloucester's two chief confederates
of 1387, the earls of Arundel and Warwick, were tried and sentenced to
death: the former was actually executed, the latter imprisoned for life.
The other two lords appellant, Mowbray, duke of Norfolk,[2] and Henry of
Bolingbroke, the son of John of Gaunt, were dealt with a year later.
Richard pretended to hold them among his best friends, but in 1398
induced Bolingbroke to accuse Norfolk of treasonable language. Mowbray
denied it, and challenged his accuser to a judicial duel. When they were
actually facing each other in the lists at Coventry, the king forbade
them to fight, and announced that he banished them both--Henry for six
years, Norfolk for life.

  Arbitrary rule of Richard.

Having thus completed his vengeance on those who had slain his friends
ten years before--their respective punishments were judiciously adapted
to their several responsibilities in that matter--Richard began to
behave in an arbitrary and unconstitutional fashion. He evidently
thought that no one would dare to lift a hand against him after the
examples that he had just made. This might have been so, if he had
continued to rule as cautiously as during the time when he was nursing
his scheme of revenge. But now his brain seemed to be turned by
success--indeed his wild language at times seemed to argue that he was
not wholly sane. He declared that all pardons issued since 1387 were
invalid, and imposed heavy fines on persons, and even on whole shires,
that had given the lords appellant aid. He made huge forced loans, and
employed recklessly the abuse of purveyance. He browbeat the judges on
the bench, and kept many persons under arrest for indefinite periods
without a trial. But the act which provoked the nation most was that he
terrified the parliament which met at Shrewsbury in 1398 into voting
away its powers to a small committee of ten persons, all creatures of
his own. This body he used as his instrument of government, treating its
assent as equivalent to that of a whole parliament in session. There
seemed to be an end to the constitutional liberties of England.

  Second expedition to Ireland.

  Henry of Bolingbroke lands in England_.

  Flight of Richard.

  Surrender and abdication of Richard.

Such violence, however, speedily brought its own punishment. In 1399
Richard sailed over to Ireland to put down a revolt of the native
princes, who had defeated and slain the earl of March, his cousin and
their lord-lieutenant. While he was absent Henry of Bolingbroke landed
at Ravenspur with a small body of exiles and mercenaries. He pretended
that he had merely come to claim the estates and title of his father
John of Gaunt, who had died a few months before. The adventurer was at
once joined by the earl of Northumberland and all the lords of the
north; the army which was called out against him refused to fight, and
joined his banner, and in a few days he was master of all England (July
1399). King Richard, hurrying back from Ireland, landed at Milford Haven
just in time to learn that the levies raised in his name had dispersed
or joined the enemy. He still had with him a considerable force, and
might have tried the fortune of war with some prospect of success. But
his conduct seemed dictated by absolute infatuation; he might have
fought, or he might have fled to his father-in-law in France, if he
judged his troops untrustworthy. Instead of taking either course, he
deserted his army by night, and fled into the Welsh mountains,
apparently with the intention of collecting fresh adherents from North
Wales and Cheshire, the only regions where he was popular. But
Bolingbroke had already seized Chester, and was marching against him at
the head of such a large army that the countryside refused to stir.
After skulking for three weeks in the hills, Richard surrendered to his
cousin at Flint, on the 19th of August 1399, having previously
stipulated that if he consented to abdicate his life should be spared,
his adherents pardoned, and an honourable livelihood assured to him.
This surrender put the crown to his career of folly. He should have
known that Henry would never feel safe while he survived, and that no
oaths could be trusted in such circumstances. At all costs he should
have endeavoured to escape abroad, a course that was still in his power.

  Accession of Henry IV.

Richard carried out his part of the bargain; he executed a deed of
abdication in which he owned himself "insufficient and useless." It was
read to a parliament summoned in his name on the 30th of September, and
the throne was declared vacant. There was small doubt as to the
personality of his successor; possession is nine points of the law, and
Henry of Bolingbroke for the moment had the whole nation at his back.
His hereditary title indeed was imperfect; though he was the eldest
descendant of Edward III. in the male line after Richard, yet there was
a whole family which stood between him and the crown. From Lionel of
Clarence, the second son of Edward III. (John of Gaunt was only the
third) descended the house of March, and the late king had proclaimed
that Edmund of March would be his heir if he should die childless.
Fortunately for Bolingbroke the young earl was only six years of age;
not a voice was raised in his favour in parliament. When Henry stood
forward and claimed the vacant throne by right of conquest and also by
right of descent, no one gainsaid him. Lords and commons voted that they
would have him for their king, and he was duly crowned on the 13th of
October 1399. No faith was kept with the unhappy Richard; he was placed
in close and secret confinement, and denied the ordinary comforts of
life. Moreover the adherents for whose safety he had stipulated were at
once impeached of treason.

  Position of the new king.

Henry of Lancaster came to the throne, for all intents and purposes as
an elective king; he had to depend for the future on his ability to
conciliate and satisfy the baronage and the commons by his governance.
For by his usurpation he had sanctioned the theory that kings can be
deposed for incapacity and maladministration. If he himself should
become unpopular, all the arguments that he had employed against Richard
might be turned against himself. The prospect was not reassuring; his
revenue was small, and parliament would certainly murmur if he tried to
increase it. The late king was not without partisans and admirers. There
was a considerable chance that the French king might declare
war--nominally to avenge his son-in-law, really to win Calais and
Bordeaux. Of the partisans who had placed Henry on the throne many were
greedy, and some were wholly unreasonable. But he trusted to his tact
and his energy, and cheerfully undertook the task of ruling as a
constitutional king--the friend of the parliament that had placed him on
the throne.

  Rebellion of the earls.

  Murder of Richard.

The problem proved more weary and exhausting than he had suspected. From
the very first his reign was a time of war, foreign and domestic, of
murmuring, and of humiliating shifts and devices. Henry commenced his
career by granting the adherents of Richard II. their lives, after they
had been first declared guilty of treason and had been deprived of the
titles, lands and endowments given them by the late king. Their reply to
this very modified show of mercy was to engage in a desperate conspiracy
against him. If they had waited till his popularity had waned, they
might have had some chance of success, but in anger and resentment they
struck too soon. The earls of Kent and Huntingdon, close kinsmen of
Richard on his mother's side, the earl of Salisbury--a noted
Lollard--and the lords Despenser and Lumley took arms at midwinter (Jan.
4, 1400) and attempted to seize the king at Windsor. They captured the
castle, but Henry escaped, raised the levies of London against them, and
beat them into the west. Kent and Salisbury were slain at Cirencester,
the others captured and executed with many of their followers. Their
rebellion sealed the fate of the master in whose cause they had risen.
Henry and his counsellors were determined that there should be no
further use made of the name of the "lawful king," and Richard was
deliberately murdered by privation--insufficient clothing, food and
warmth--in his dungeon at Pontefract Castle (Feb. 17, 1400). It is
impossible not to pity his fate. He had been wayward, unwise and
occasionally revengeful; but his provocation had been great, and if few
tyrants have used more violent and offensive language, few have
committed such a small list of actual crimes. It was a curious
commentary on Henry's policy, that Richard, even when dead, did not
cease to give him trouble. Rumour got abroad, owing to the secrecy of
his end, that he was not really dead, and an impostor long lived at the
Scottish court who claimed to be the missing king, and was recognized as
Richard by many malcontents who wished to be deceived.

  Welsh rising under Owen Glendower.

The rising of the earls was only the first and the least dangerous of
the trials of Henry IV. Only a few months after their death a rebellion
of a far more formidable sort broke out in Wales--where Richard II. had
been popular, and the house of March, his natural heirs, held large
estates. The leader was a gentleman named Owen Glendower, who had the
blood of the ancient kings of Gwynedd in his veins. Originally he had
taken to the hills as a mere outlaw, in consequence of a quarrel with
one of the marcher barons; but after many small successes he began to be
recognized as a national leader by his countrymen, and proclaimed
himself prince of Wales. The king marched against him in person in 1400
and 1401, but Glendower showed himself a master of guerrilla warfare; he
refused battle, and defied pursuit in his mountains, till the stores of
the English army were exhausted and Henry was forced to retire. His
prestige as a general was shaken, and his treasury exhausted by these
fruitless irregular campaigns.

  Discontent of the commons.

  Statute De heretico comburendo.

Meanwhile worse troubles were to come. The commons were beginning to
murmur at the king's administration; they had obtained neither the peace
nor the diminished taxation which they had been promised. Moreover,
among some classes at least, he had won desperate hatred by his policy
in matters of religion. One of his chief supporters in 1399 had been
Archbishop Arundel, an old enemy of Richard II. and brother to the earl
who had been beheaded in 1397. Arundel was determined to extirpate the
Lollards, and used his influence on the king to induce him to frame and
pass through parliament the detestable statute _De heretico comburendo_,
which recognized death by burning at the stake as the penalty of heresy,
and bound the civil authorities to arrest, hand over to the church
courts, and receive back for execution, all contumacious Lollards. Henry
himself does not seem to have been particularly enthusiastic for
persecution, but in order to keep the church party on his side he was
forced to sanction it. The burnings began with that of William Sawtré, a
London vicar, on the 2nd of March 1401; they continued intermittently
throughout the reign. The victims were nearly all clergy or citizens;
the king shrank from touching the Lollards of higher rank, and even
employed in his service some who were notoriously tainted with heresy.

  War with Scotland.

  Battle of Homildon Hill.

  Conspiracy of Northumberland with Glendower.

External troubles continued to multiply during Henry's earlier years.
The Scots had declared war, and there was every sign that the French
would soon follow suit, for the king's failure to crush Glendower had
destroyed his reputation for capacity. The rebel achieved his greatest
success in June 1402, when he surprised and routed the whole levy of the
marcher lords at Bryn G'las, between Pilleth and Knighton, capturing
(among many other prisoners) Sir Edmund Mortimer, the uncle and guardian
of the young earl of March, whom all malcontents regarded as the
rightful monarch of England. A few months after the king's fortune
seemed to take a turn for the better, when the Scots were defeated at
Homildon Hill by the earl of Northumberland and his son Henry Percy, the
celebrated "Hotspur." But this victory was to be the prelude to new
dangers: half the nobility of Scotland had been captured in the battle,
and Northumberland intended to fill his coffers with their ransoms; but
the king looked upon them as state prisoners and announced his intention
of taking them out of the earl's hands. Northumberland was a greedy and
unscrupulous Border chief, who regarded himself as entitled to exact
whatever he chose from his master, because he had been the first to join
him at his landing in 1399, and had lent him a consistent support ever
since. He had been amply rewarded by grants of land and money, but was
not yet satisfied. In indignation at the first refusal that he had met,
the earl conspired with Glendower to raise rebellion in the name of the
rightful heirs of King Richard, the house of March. The third party in
the plot was Sir Edmund Mortimer, Glendower's captive, who was easily
persuaded to join a movement for the aggrandizement of his own family.
He married Owen's daughter, and became his trusted lieutenant.
Northumberland also enlisted the services of his chief Scottish
prisoner, the earl of Douglas, who promised him aid from beyond Tweed.

  Insurrection in the north and west.

  Defeat of the rebels at Shrewsbury.

In July 1403 came the crisis of King Henry's reign; while Glendower
burst into South Wales, and overran the whole countryside as far as
Cardiff and Carmarthen, the Percies raised their banner in the North.
The old earl set himself to subdue Yorkshire; his son Hotspur and the
earl of Douglas marched south and opened communication with the Welsh.
All Cheshire, a district always faithful to the name of Richard II.,
rose in their favour, and they were joined by Hotspur's uncle, the earl
of Worcester. They then advanced towards Shrewsbury, where they hoped
that Glendower might meet them. But long ere the Welsh could appear,
King Henry was on the spot; he brought the rebels to action at Hately
Field, just outside the gates of Shrewsbury, and inflicted on them a
complete defeat, in which his young son Henry of Monmouth first won his
reputation as a fighting man. Hotspur was slain, Worcester taken and
beheaded, Douglas desperately wounded (July 23, 1403). On receiving this
disastrous news the earl of Northumberland sued for pardon; the king was
unwise enough to grant it, merely punishing him by fining him and taking
all his castles out of his hands.

  War with France renewed.

  Parliament assumes control of the finances.

By winning the battle of Shrewsbury Henry IV. had saved his crown, but
his troubles were yet far from an end. The long-expected breach with
France had at last come to pass; the duke of Orleans, without any
declaration of war, had entered Guienne, while a French fleet attacked
the south-west of England, and burnt Plymouth. Even more menacing to the
king's prosperity was the news that another squadron had appeared off
the coast of Wales, and landed stores and succours for Glendower, who
had now conquered the whole principality save a few isolated fortresses.
The drain of money to meet this combination of foreign war and domestic
rebellion was more than the king's exchequer could meet. He was driven
into unconstitutional ways of raising money, which recalled all the
misdoings of his predecessor. Hence came a series of rancorous quarrels
with his parliaments, which grew more disloyal and clamorous at every
new session. The cry was raised that the taxes were heavy not because of
the French or Welsh wars, but because Henry lavished his money on
favourites and unworthy dependents. He was forced to bow before the
storm, though the charge had small foundation: the greater part of his
household was dismissed, and the war-taxes were paid not to his
treasurer but to a financial committee appointed by parliament.

  Rising of 1405 in the North.

It was not till 1405 that the worst of Henry's troubles came to an end.
This year saw the last of the convulsions that threatened to overturn
him,--a rising in the North headed by the old earl of Northumberland, by
Richard Scrope, archbishop of York, and by Thomas Mowbray the earl
marshal. It might have proved even more dangerous than the rebellion of
1403, if Henry's unscrupulous general Ralph, earl of Westmorland, had
not lured Scrope and Mowbray to a conference, and then arrested them
under circumstances of the vilest treachery. He handed them over to the
king, who beheaded them both outside the gate of York, without any
proper trial before their peers. Northumberland thereupon fled to
Scotland without further fighting. He remained in exile till January
1408, when he made a final attempt to raise rebellion in the North, and
was defeated and slain at the battle of Bramham Moor.

  Suppression of the Welsh rising.

Long before this last-named fight Henry's fortunes had begun to mend.
Glendower was at last checked by the untiring energy of the king's
eldest son, Henry of Monmouth, who had been given charge of the Welsh
war. Even when French aid was sent him, the rebel chief proved unable to
maintain his grip on South Wales. He was beaten out of it in 1406, and
Aberystwyth Castle, where his garrison made a desperate defence for two
years, became the southern limit of his dominions. In the end of 1408
Prince Henry captured this place, and six weeks later Harlech, the
greatest stronghold of the rebels, where Sir Edmund Mortimer, Owen's
son-in-law and most trusted captain, held out till he died of
starvation. From this time onwards the Welsh rebellion gradually died
down, till Owen relapsed into the position from which he had started,
that of a guerrilla chief maintaining a predatory warfare in the
mountains. From 1409 onward he ceased to be a public danger to the
realm, yet so great was his cunning and activity that he was never
caught, and died still maintaining a hopeless rebellion so late as 1416.

  End of the French and Scottish wars.

The French war died down about the same time that the Welsh rebellion
became insignificant. Louis of Orleans, the head of the French war
party, was murdered by his cousin John, duke of Burgundy, in November
1407, and after his death the French turned from the struggle with
England to indulge in furious civil wars. Calais, Bordeaux and Bayonne
still remained safe under the English banner. The Scottish war had ended
even earlier. Prince James, the heir of Robert III., had been captured
at sea in 1406. The duke of Albany, who became regent when Robert died,
had no wish to see his nephew return, and concluded a corrupt agreement
with the king of England, by which he undertook to keep Scotland out of
the strife, if Henry would prevent the rightful heir from returning to
claim his own.[3] Hence Albany and his son ruled at Edinburgh for
seventeen years, while James was detained in an honourable captivity at

  Illness of the king. Faction in the court.

From 1408 till his death in 1413 Henry was freed from all the dangers
which had beset his earlier years. But he got small enjoyment from the
crown which no longer tottered on his brow. Soon after his execution of
Archbishop Scrope he had been smitten with a painful disorder, which his
enemies declared to be the punishment inflicted on him by heaven for
the prelate's death. It grew gradually worse, and developed into what
his contemporaries called leprosy--a loathsome skin disease accompanied
by bouts of fever, which sometimes kept him bedridden for months at a
time. From 1409 onwards he became a mere invalid, only able to assert
himself in rare intervals of convalescence. The domestic politics of the
realm during his last five years were nothing more than a struggle
between two court factions who desired to use his name. The one was
headed by his son Henry, prince of Wales, and his half-brothers John,
Henry and Thomas Beaufort, the base-born but legitimized children of
John of Gaunt. The other was under the direction of Archbishop Arundel,
the king's earliest ally, who had already twice served him as
chancellor, and had the whole church party at his back. Arundel was
backed by Thomas duke of Clarence, the king's second son, who was an
enemy of the Beauforts, and not on the best terms with his own elder
brother, the prince of Wales. The fluctuating influence of each party
with the king was marked by the passing of the chancellorship from
Arundel to Henry Beaufort and back again during the five years of
Henry's illness. The rivalry between them was purely personal; both were
prepared to go on with the "Lancastrian experiment," the attempt to
govern the realm in a constitutional fashion by an alliance between the
king and the parliament; both were eager persecutors of the Lollards;
both were eager to make profit for England by interfering in the civil
wars of the Orleanists and Burgundians which were now devastating

  Prince Hal.

The prince of Wales, it is clear, gave much umbrage to his father by his
eagerness to direct the policy of the crown ere yet it had fallen to him
by inheritance. The king suspected, and with good reason, that his son
wished him to abdicate, and resented the idea. It seems that a plot with
such an object was actually on foot, and that the younger Henry gave it
up in a moment of better feeling, when he realized the evil impression
that the unfilial act would make upon the nation. At this time the
prince gave small promise of developing into the model monarch that he
afterwards became. There was no doubt of his military ability, which had
been fully demonstrated in the long Welsh wars, but he is reputed to
have shown himself arrogant, contentious and over-given to loose-living.
There were many, Archbishop Arundel among them, who looked forward with
apprehension to his accession to the throne.

  English expedition to France.

The two parties in the council of Henry IV. were agreed that it would be
profitable to intervene in the wars of France, but they differed as to
the side which offered the most advantages. Hence came action which
seemed inconsistent, if not immoral; in 1411, under the prince's
influence, an English contingent joined the Burgundians and helped them
to raise the siege of Paris. In 1412, by Arundel's advice, a second army
under the duke of Clarence crossed the Channel to co-operate with the
Orleanists. But the French factions, wise for once, made peace at the
time of Clarence's expedition, and paid him 210,000 gold crowns to leave
the country! The only result of the two expeditions was to give the
English soldiery a poor opinion of French military capacity, and a
notion that money was easily to be got from the distracted realm beyond
the narrow seas.

  Accession of Henry V.

  His character.

On the 20th of March 1413, King Henry's long illness at last reached a
fatal issue, and his eldest son ascended the throne. The new king had
everything in his favour; his father had borne the odium of usurpation
and fought down the forces of anarchy. The memory of Richard II. had
been forgotten; the young earl of March had grown up into the most
harmless and unenterprising of men, and the nation seemed satisfied with
the new dynasty, whose first sovereign had shown himself, under much
provocation, the most moderate and accommodating of constitutional

Henry V. on his accession bade farewell to the faults of his youth. He
seems to have felt a genuine regret for the unfilial conduct which had
vexed his father's last years, and showed a careful determination to
turn over a new leaf and give his enemies no scope for criticism. From
the first he showed a sober and grave bearing; he reconciled himself to
all his enemies, gave up his youthful follies, and became a model king
according to the ideas of his day. There is no doubt that he had a
strong sense of moral responsibility, and that he was sincerely pious.
But his piety inspired him to redouble the persecution of the
unfortunate Lollards, whom his father had harried only in an
intermittent fashion; and his sense of moral responsibility did not
prevent him from taking the utmost advantage of the civil wars of his
unhappy neighbours of France.

  Persecution of the Lollards.

  Rising under Oldcastle.

The first notable event of Henry's reign was his assault upon the
Lollards. His father had spared their lay chiefs, and contented himself
with burning preachers or tradesmen. Henry arrested John Oldcastle, Lord
Cobham, their leading politician, and had him tried and condemned to the
stake. But Oldcastle escaped from the Tower before the day fixed for his
execution, and framed a wild plot for slaying or deposing his
persecutor. He planned to gather the Lollards of London and the Home
Counties under arms, and to seize the person of the king--a scheme as
wild as the design of Guy Fawkes or the Fifth Monarchy Men in later
generations, for the sectaries were not strong enough to coerce the
whole nation. Henry received early notice of the plot, and nipped it in
the bud, scattering Oldcastle's levies in St Giles' Fields (Jan. 10,
1414) and hanging most of his lieutenants. But their reckless leader
escaped, and for three years led the life of an outlaw, till in 1417 he
was finally captured, still in arms, and sent to the stake.

  Henry V. and France.

This danger having passed, Henry set himself to take advantage of the
troubles of France. He threatened to invade that realm unless the
Orleans faction, who had for the moment possession of the person of the
mad king Charles VI., should restore to him all that Edward III. had
owned in 1360, with Anjou and Normandy in addition. The demand was
absurd and exorbitant and was refused, though the French government
offered him the hand of their king's daughter Catherine with a dowry of
800,000 crowns and the districts of Quercy and Périgord--sufficiently
handsome terms. When he began to collect a fleet and an army, they added
to the offer the Limousin and other regions; but Henry was determined to
pick his quarrel, and declared war in an impudent and hypocritical
manifesto, in which he declared that he was driven into strife against
his will. The fact was that he had secured the promise of the neutrality
or the co-operation of the Burgundian faction, and thought that he could
crush the Orleanists with ease.

  Henry invades France.

  Battle of Agincourt.

  Effect of the battle.

He sailed for France in August 1415, with an army compact and
well-equipped, but not very numerous. On the eve of his departure he
detected and quelled a plot as wild and futile as that of Oldcastle. The
conspirators were his cousin, Richard, earl of Cambridge, Lord Scrope,
and Sir Thomas Grey, a kinsman of the Percies. They had planned to raise
a rebellion in the name of the earl of March, in whose cause Wales and
the North were to have been called to arms. But March himself refused to
stir, and betrayed them to the king, who promptly beheaded them, and set
sail five days later. He landed near the mouth of the Seine, and
commenced his campaign by besieging and capturing Harfleur, which the
Orleanists made no attempt to succour. But such a large number of his
troops perished in the trenches by a pestilential disorder, that he
found himself too weak to march on Paris, and took his way to Calais
across Picardy, hoping, as it seems, to lure the French to battle by
exposing his small army to attack. The plan was hazardous, for the
Orleanists turned out in great numbers and almost cut him off in the
marshes of the Somme. When he had struggled across them, and was
half-way to Calais, the enemy beset him in the fields of Agincourt (Oct.
25, 1415). Here Henry vindicated his military reputation by winning a
victory even more surprising than those of Creçy, and Poitiers, for he
was outnumbered in an even greater proportion than the two Edwards had
been in 1346 and 1356, and had to take the offensive instead of being
attacked in a strong position. The heavily armoured French noblesse,
embogged in miry meadows, proved helpless before the lightly equipped
English archery. The slaughter in their ranks was terrible, and the
young duke of Orleans, the head of the predominant faction of the
moment, was taken prisoner with many great nobles. However, so exhausted
was the victorious army that Henry merely led it back to Calais, without
attempting anything more in this year. The sole tangible asset of the
campaign was the possession of Harfleur, the gate of Normandy, a second
Calais in its advantages when future invasions were taken in hand. The
moral effects were more important. The Orleanist party was shaken in its
power; the rival Burgundian faction became more inclined to commit
itself to the English cause, and the terror of the English arms weighed
heavily upon both.

  England and the council of Constance.

It was not till the next year but one that Henry renewed his invasion of
France--the intervening space was spent in negotiations with Burgundy,
and with the emperor Sigismund, whose aid the king secured in return for
help in putting an end to the scandalous "great schism" which had been
rending the Western Church for so many years. The English deputation
lent their aid to Sigismund at the council of Constance, when
Christendom was at last reunited under a single head, though all the
reforms which were to have accompanied the reunion were postponed, and
ultimately avoided altogether, by the restored papacy.

  Henry's second invasion of France.

  Conquest of Normandy.

  Triumph of the Burgundians.

  Henry takes Rouen.

  Murder of John of Burgundy.

In July 1417 Henry began his second invasion of France, and landed at
the mouth of the Seine with a powerful army of 17,000 men. He had
resolved to adopt a plan of campaign very different from those which
Edward III. or the Black Prince had been wont to pursue, having in view
nothing more than the steady and gradual conquest of the province of
Normandy. This he was able to accomplish without any interference from
the government at Paris, for the constable Armagnac, who had succeeded
the captive Orleans at the head of the anti-Burgundian party, had no
troops to spare. He was engaged in a separate campaign with Henry's ally
John the Fearless, and left Normandy to shift for itself. One after
another all the towns of the duchy were reduced, save Rouen, the siege
of which, as the hardest task, King Henry postponed till the rest of the
countryside was in his hands. He sat down to besiege it in 1418, and was
detained before its walls for many months, for the citizens made an
admirable defence. Meanwhile a change had taken place in the domestic
politics of France; the Burgundians seized Paris in May 1418; the
constable Armagnac and many of his partisans were massacred, and John
the Fearless got possession of the person of the mad Charles VI., and
became the responsible ruler of France. He had then to choose between
buying off his English allies by great concessions, or taking up the
position of champion of French interests. He selected the latter rôle,
broke with Henry, and tried to relieve Rouen. But all his efforts were
foiled, and the Norman capital surrendered, completely starved out, on
the 19th of January 1419. On this Burgundy resolved to open negotiations
with Henry; he wished to free his hands for an attack on his domestic
enemies, who had rallied beyond the Loire under the leadership of the
dauphin Charles--from whom the party, previously known first as
Orleanists and then as Armagnacs, gets for the future the name of the
"Dauphinois." The English king, however, seeing the manifest advantage
of his position, tried to drive too hard a bargain; he demanded the old
boundaries of 1360, with his new conquest of Normandy, the hand of the
princess Catherine, and a great sum of ready money. Burgundy dared not
concede so much, under pain of alienating all his more patriotic
supporters. He broke off the conference of Meulan, and tried to patch up
a peace with the dauphin, in order to unite all Frenchmen against the
foreign invader. This laudable intention was wrecked by the treachery of
the young heir to the French throne; on the bridge of Montereau Charles
deliberately murdered the suppliant duke, as he knelt to do homage,
thinking thereby that he would make an end of the Burgundian party
(Sept. 9, 1419).

  The Burgundians acknowledge Henry as heir of France.

  Treaty of Troyes.

This abominable deed gave northern France for twenty years to an English
master. The young duke of Burgundy, Philip the Good, and his supporters
in Paris and the north, were so incensed with the dauphin's cruel
treachery that they resolved that he should never inherit his father's
crown. They proffered peace to King Henry, and offered to recognize his
preposterous[4] claim to the French throne, on condition that he should
marry the princess Catherine and guarantee the constitutional liberties
of the realm. The insane Charles VI. should keep nominal possession of
the royal title till his death, but meanwhile the Burgundians would do
homage to Henry as "heir of France." These terms were welcomed by the
English king, and ratified at the treaty of Troyes (May 21, 1420). Henry
married the princess Catherine, received the oaths of Duke Philip and
his partisans, and started forth to conquer the Dauphinois at the head
of an army of which half was composed of Burgundian levies. Paris,
Picardy, Champagne, and indeed the greater part of France north of the
Loire, acknowledged him as their sovereign.

  Death of Henry V.

Henry had only two years longer to live; they were spent in incessant
and successful campaigning against the partisans of his brother-in-law,
the dauphin Charles; by a long series of sieges the partisans of that
worthless prince were evicted from all their northern strongholds. They
fought long and bitterly, nor was this to be marvelled at, for Henry had
a custom of executing as traitors all who withstood him, and those who
had once defied him did well to fight to the last gasp, in order to
avoid the block or the halter. In the longest and most desperate of
these sieges, that of Meaux (Oct. 1421-March 1422), the king contracted
a dysenteric ailment which he could never shake off. He survived for a
few months, but died, worn out by his incessant campaigning, on the 31st
of August 1422, leaving the crown of England and the heirship of France
to his only child Henry of Windsor, an infant less than two years old.

  Effects of his conquests.

Few sovereigns in history have accomplished such a disastrous life's
work as this much-admired prince. If he had not been a soldier of the
first ability and a diplomatist of the most unscrupulous sort, he could
never have advanced so far towards his ill-chosen goal, the conquest of
France. His genius and the dauphin's murderous act of folly at Montereau
conspired to make the incredible almost possible. Indeed, if Henry had
lived five years longer, he would probably have carried his arms to the
Mediterranean, and have united France and England in uneasy union for
some short space of time. It is clear that they could not have been held
together after his death, for none but a king of exceptional powers
could have resisted their natural impulse to break apart. As it was,
Henry had accomplished just enough to tempt his countrymen to persevere
for nearly thirty years in the endeavour to complete the task he had
begun. France was ruined for a generation, England was exhausted by her
effort, and (what was worse) her governing classes learnt in the long
and pitiless war lessons of demoralization which were to bear fruit in
the ensuing struggle of the two Roses. It is a strange fact that Henry,
though he was in many respects a conscientious man, with a strong sense
of responsibility, and a sincere piety, was so blind to the
unrighteousness of his own actions that he died asserting that "neither
ambition nor vainglory had led him into France, but a genuine desire to
assert a righteous claim, which he desired his heirs to prosecute to the
bitter end."

  Henry VI.

The guardianship of the infant Henry VI. fell to his two uncles, John of
Bedford and Humphrey of Gloucester, the two surviving brothers of the
late king. Bedford became regent in France, and took over the heritage
of the war, in which he was vigorously aided by the young Philip of
Burgundy, whose sister he soon after married. Almost his first duty was
to bury the insane Charles VI., who only survived his son-in-law for a
few months, and to proclaim his little nephew king of France under the
name of Henry II. Gloucester, however, had personal charge of the child,
who was to be reared in England; he had also hoped to become protector
of the realm, and to use the position for his own private interests, for
he was a selfish and ambitious prince. But the council refused to let
him assume the full powers of a regent, and bound him with many checks
and restrictions, because they were well aware of his character. The
tiresome and monotonous domestic history of England during the next
twenty years consisted of little else than quarrels between Gloucester
and the lords of the council, of whom the chief was the duke's
half-uncle Henry Beaufort, bishop of Winchester, the last to survive of
all the sons of John of Gaunt. The duke and the bishop were both
unscrupulous; but the churchman, with all his faults, was a patriotic
statesman, while Gloucester cared far more for his own private ends than
for the welfare of the realm.

  Bedford's rule in France.

  Humphrey of Gloucester.

While these two well-matched antagonists were wrangling in England,
Bedford, a capable general and a wise administrator, was doing his best
to carry out the task which the dying Henry V. had laid upon him, by
crushing the dauphin, or Charles VII. as he now called himself since his
father's death. As long as the Burgundian party lent the regent their
aid, the limits of the land still unsubdued continued to shrink, though
the process was slow. Two considerable victories, Cravant (1423) and
Verneuil (1424), marked the early years of Bedford's campaigning; at
each, it may be noted, a very large proportion of his army was composed
of Burgundian auxiliaries. But after a time their assistance began to be
given less freely; this was due to the selfish intrigues of Humphrey of
Gloucester, who, regardless of the general policy of England, had
quarrelled with Philip the Good. He had married Jacoba (Jacquelaine),
countess of Hainaut and Holland, a cousin of the Burgundian duke, who
coveted and hoped to secure her lands. Pressing her claims, Gloucester
came to open blows with Philip in Flanders and Hainaut (1424). In his
anger the Burgundian ceased to support Bedford, and would have joined
Charles VII. if revenge on the murderers of his father had not still
remained his dominant passion. But Gloucester's attempt to seize Hainaut
failed, and Philip, when he had got possession of his cousin's person
and estates, allowed himself to be pacified by Bedford, who could prove
that he had no part in his brother's late intrigues.

  Siege of Orleans.

This quarrel having been appeased, the advance against the territories
of Charles VII. was resumed. It went slowly on, till in 1428 the tide of
war reached the walls of Orleans, how the only place north of the Loire
which remained unsubdued. The siege was long; but after the last army
which the Dauphinois could raise had been beaten at the battle of
Rouvray (Feb. 1429) it seemed that the end was near. Charles VII. was in
such a state of despair after this last check, that he was actually
taking into consideration a flight to Italy or Spain, and the
abandonment of the struggle. He had shown himself so incapable and
apathetic that his followers were sick of fighting for such a despicable

  Joan of Arc.

From this depth of despair the party which, with all its faults,
represented the national sentiment of France was rescued by the
astonishing exploits of Joan of Arc. Charles and his counsellors had no
great confidence in the mission of this prophetess and champion, when
she presented herself to them, promising to relieve Orleans and turn
back the English. But all expedients are worth trying in the hour of
ruin, and seeing that Joan was disinterested and sincere, and that her
preaching exercised a marked influence over the people and the soldiery,
Charles allowed her to march with the last levies that he put into the
field for the relief of Orleans. From that moment the fortune of war
turned; the presence of the prophetess with the French troops had an
immediate and incalculable effect. Under the belief that they were now
led by a messenger from heaven, the Dauphinois fought with a fiery
courage that they had never before displayed. Their movements were
skilfully directed--whether by Joan's generalship or that of her
captains it boots not to inquire--and after the first successes which
she achieved, in entering Orleans and capturing some of the besiegers'
forts around it, the English became panic-stricken. They were cowed, as
they said, "by that disciple and limb of the fiend called La Pucelle,
that used false enchantments and sorcery." Suffolk, their commander,
raised the siege, and sent to Bedford for reinforcements; but as he
retreated he was set upon by the victorious army, and captured with most
of his men at Jargeau and Beaugency (June 1429). The succours which were
coming to his aid from Paris were defeated by the Maid at Patay a few
days later, and for the most part destroyed.

  Coronation of Charles VII. at Reims.

The regent Bedford was now in a desperate position. His field army had
been destroyed, and on all sides the provinces which had long lain inert
beneath the English yoke were beginning to stir. When Joan led forth the
French king to crown him at Reims, all the towns of Champagne opened
their gates to her one after another. A large reinforcement received
from England only just enabled Bedford to save Paris and some of the
fortresses of the Île de France. The rest revolted at the sight of the
Maid's white banner. If Joan had been well supported by her master and
his counsellors, it is probable that she might have completed her
mission by expelling the English from France. But, despite all that she
had done, Charles VII. and his favourites had a profound disbelief in
her inspiration, and generally thwarted her plans. After an
ill-concerted attack on Paris, in which Joan was wounded, the French
army broke up for the winter. They had shaken the grip of the English on
the north, and reconquered a vast stretch of territory, but they had
failed by their own fault to achieve complete success. Nevertheless the
crucial point of the war had passed; after 1429 the Burgundian party
began to slacken in its support of the English cause, and to pass over
piecemeal to the national side. This was but natural: the partisans who
could remember nothing but the foul deed of Montereau were yearly
growing fewer, and it was clear that Charles VII., personally despicable
though he might be, represented the cause of French nationality.

  Capture and execution of Joan.

The natural drift of circumstances was not stayed even by the disastrous
end of the career of Joan of Arc in 1430. The king's ministers had
refused to take her counsels or to entrust her with another army, but
she went forth with a small force of volunteers to relieve the important
fortress of Compiègne. The place was saved, but in a sortie she was
captured by the Burgundians, who sold her for 10,000 francs to Bedford.
The regent handed her over for punishment as a sorceress to the French
clergy of his own party. After a long trial, carried out with elaborate
formality and great unfairness, the unhappy Joan was found guilty of
proclaiming as divine visions what were delusions of the evil one, or of
her own vain imagination, and when she persisted in maintaining their
reality she was declared a relapsed heretic, and burnt at Rouen on the
30th of May 1431. Charles VII. took little interest in her fate, which
he might easily have prevented by threatening to retaliate on the
numerous English prisoners who were in his power. Seldom had a good
cause such an unworthy figurehead as that callous and apathetic prince.

  Philip of Burgundy joins Charles. Treaty of Arras.

The movement which Joan had set on foot was in no way crushed by her
execution. For the next four years the limits of the English occupation
continued to recede. It was to no profit that Bedford brought over the
young Henry VI. and had him crowned at Paris, in order to appeal to the
loyalty of his French partisans by means of the king's forlorn youth and
simplicity. Yet by endless feats of skilful generalship the regent
continued to maintain a hold on Paris and on Normandy. The fatal blow
was administered by Philip of Burgundy, who, tired of maintaining a
failing cause, consented at last to forget his father's murder, and to
be reconciled to Charles VII. Their alliance was celebrated by the
treaty of Arras (Sept. 6, 1435), at which the English were offered peace
and the retention of Normandy and Guienne if they would evacuate Paris
and the rest of France. They would have been wise to accept the
agreement; but with obstinate and misplaced courage they refused to
acknowledge Charles as king of France, or to give up to him the capital.

  Death of Bedford. English defeats.

Bedford, worn out by long campaigning, died at Rouen on the 14th of
September 1435, just before the results of the treaty of Arras began to
make themselves felt. With him died the best hope of the English party
in France, for he had been well loved by the Burgundians, and many had
adhered to the cause of Henry VI. solely because of their personal
attachment to him. No worthy successor could be found--England had many
hard-handed soldiers but no more statesmen of Bedford's calibre. It was
no wonder that Paris was lost within six months of the regent's death,
Normandy invaded, and Calais beleaguered by an army headed by England's
new enemy, Philip of Burgundy. But the council, still backed by the
nation, refused to give up the game; Burgundy was beaten off from
Calais, and the young duke of York, the heir of the Mortimers, took the
command at Rouen, and recovered much of what had been lost on the Norman

  Truce with France.

The next eight years of the war were in some respects the most
astonishing period of its interminable length. The English fought out
the losing game with a wonderful obstinacy. Though every town that they
held was eager to revolt, and though they were hopelessly outnumbered in
every quarter, they kept a tight grip on the greater part of Normandy,
and on their old domain in the Bordelais and about Bayonne. They lost
nearly all their outlying possessions, but still made head against the
generals of Charles VII. in these two regions. The leaders of this
period of the war were the duke of York, and the aged Lord Talbot,
afterwards earl of Shrewsbury. The struggle only ceased in 1444, when
the English council, in which a peace party had at last been formed,
concluded a two-year truce with King Charles, which they hoped to turn
into a permanent treaty, on the condition that their king should retain
what he held in Normandy and Guienne, but sign away his claim to the
French crown, and relinquish the few places outside the two duchies
which were still in his power--terms very similar to those rejected at
Arras nine years before--but there was now much less to give up. To mark
the reconciliation of the two powers Henry VI. was betrothed to the
French king's niece, Margaret of Anjou. The two years' truce was
repeatedly prorogued, and lasted till 1449, but no definitive treaty was
ever concluded, owing to the bad faith with which both parties kept
their promises.

  Supremacy of the Beauforts in England.

  Character of Henry VI.

The government in England was now in the hands of the faction which
Bishop Beaufort had originally led, for after long struggles the
churchman had at last crushed his nephew Humphrey. In 1441 the duchess
of Gloucester had been arrested and charged with practising sorcery
against the health of the young king--apparently not without
justification. She was tried and condemned to imprisonment for life; her
guilt was visited on her husband, on whose behalf she was acting, for if
Henry had died his uncle would have come to the throne. For some years
he was constrained to take a minor part in politics, only emerging
occasionally to make violent and unwise protests against peace with
France. The bishop now ruled, with his nephew Edmund Beaufort, duke of
Somerset, and William de la Pole, earl of Suffolk, as his chief
instruments. As he grew older he let the power slip into their hands, as
it was they who were mainly responsible for the truce of 1444. King
Henry, though he had reached the age of 23 at the time of his marriage,
counted for nothing. He was a pious young man, simple to the verge of
imbecility; a little later he developed actual insanity, the heritage of
his grandfather Charles VI. He showed a blind confidence in Suffolk and
Somerset, who were wholly unworthy of it, for both were tricky and
unscrupulous politicians. His wife Margaret of Anjou, though she
possessed all the fire and energy which her husband lacked, was equally
devoted to these two ministers, and soon came to share their

  Death of Humphrey of Gloucester and Henry Beaufort.

The truce with France had offended the natural pride of the nation,
which still refused to own itself beaten. The evacuation of the French
fortresses in Maine and elsewhere, which was the price paid for the
suspension of arms, was bitterly resented. Indeed the garrisons had to
be threatened with the use of force before they would quit their
strongholds. A violent clamour was raised against Suffolk and Somerset,
and Humphrey of Gloucester emerged from his retirement to head the
agitation. This led to his death; he was arrested by the order of the
queen and the ministers at the parliament of Bury. Five days later he
died suddenly in prison, probably by foul play, though it was given out
that he had been carried off by a paralytic stroke. His estates were
confiscated, and distributed among the friends of Suffolk and the queen.
Six weeks later the aged Bishop Beaufort followed him to the grave--he
had no share in Gloucester's fate, having long before made over his
power and the leadership of his party to his nephew Edmund of Somerset

  Renewal of the war with France.

  Loss of Normandy.

The truce with France lasted for two years after the death of Duke
Humphrey, and came to an end partly owing to the eagerness of the French
to push their advantages, but much more from the treachery and bad faith
of Suffolk and Somerset, who gave the enemy an admirable _casus belli_.
By their weakness, or perhaps with their secret connivance, the English
garrisons of Normandy carried out plundering raids of the most impudent
sort on French territory. When summoned to punish the offenders, and to
make monetary compensation, Suffolk and Somerset shuffled and
prevaricated, but gave no satisfaction. Thereupon the French king once
more declared war (July 1449) and invaded Normandy. Somerset was in
command; he showed hopeless incapacity and timidity, and in a few months
the duchy which had been so long held by the swords of Bedford, York and
Shrewsbury was hopelessly lost. The final blow came when a small army of
relief sent over from England was absolutely exterminated by the French
at the battle of Formigny (April 15, 1450). Somerset, who had retired
into Caen, surrendered two months later after a feeble defence, and the
English power in northern France came to an end.

  Jack Cade's Rebellion.

Even before this final disaster the indignation felt against Suffolk and
Somerset had raised violent disturbances at home. Suffolk was impeached
on many charges, true and false; it was unfair to accuse him of treason,
but quite just to lay double-dealing and bad faith to his charge. The
king tried to save him from the block by banishing him before he could
be tried. But while he was sailing to Flanders his ship was intercepted
by some London vessels, which were on the look-out for him, and he was
deliberately murdered. The instigators of the act were never discovered.
But, though Suffolk was gone, Somerset yet survived, and their partisans
still engrossed the confidence of the king. To clear out the government,
and punish those responsible for the late disasters, the commons of Kent
rose in insurrection under a captain who called himself John Mortimer,
though his real name seems to have been John Cade. He was a soldier of
fortune who had served in the French wars, and claimed to be in the
confidence of the duke of York, the person to whom the eyes of all who
hated Somerset and the present régime were now directed.

Cade was not a social reformer, like his predecessor Wat Tyler, with
whom he has often been compared, but a politician. Though he called
himself "John Amend-all," and promised to put down abuses of every kind,
the main part of the programme which he issued was intended to appeal to
national sentiment, not to class feeling. Whether he was the tool of
other and more highly placed malcontents, or whether he was simply a
ready-witted adventurer playing his own game, it is hard to determine.
His first success was marvellous; he defeated the king's troops, made a
triumphant entry into London and held the city for two days. He seized
and beheaded Lord Saye, the treasurer, and several other unpopular
persons, and might have continued his dictatorship for some time if the
Kentish mob that followed him had not fallen to general pillage and
arson. This led to the same results that had been seen in Tyler's day.
The propertied classes in London took arms to suppress anarchy, and beat
the insurgents out of the city. Cade, striving to keep up the rising
outside the walls, was killed in a skirmish a month later, and his bands

  Richard, duke of York, heads the opposition.

But the troubles of England were only just beginning; the protest
against the misgovernment of Somerset and the rest of the confidants of
the king and queen was now taken up by a more important personage than
the adventurer Cade. Richard, duke of York, the heir to the claims of
the house of Mortimer--his mother was the sister of the last earl of
March--now placed himself at the head of the opposition. He had
plausible grounds for doing so; though he had distinguished himself in
the French wars, and was, since the death of Humphrey of Gloucester, the
first prince of the blood royal, he had been ignored and flouted by the
king's ministers, who had sent him into a kind of honourable banishment
as lord-lieutenant of Ireland, and had forbidden him to re-enter the
realm. When, in defiance of this mandate, he came home and announced his
intention of impeaching Somerset, he took the first step which was to
lead to the Wars of the Roses.

  Battle of Castillon. Loss of Guienne.

Yet he was a cautious and in the main a well-intentioned prince, and the
extreme moderation of his original demands seems to prove that he did not
at first aim at the crown. He merely required that Somerset and his
friends should be dismissed from office and made to answer for their
misgovernment. Though he backed his demands by armed demonstration--twice
calling out his friends and retainers to support his policy--he carefully
refrained for five long years from actual violence. Indeed in 1452 he
consented to abandon his protests, and to lend his aid to the other party
for a great national object, the recovery of Guienne. For in the previous
year Charles VII. had dealt with Bordeaux and Bayonne as he had already
dealt with Normandy, and had met with no better resistance while
completing the conquest. Six months' experience of French rule, however,
had revealed to the Bordelais how much they had lost when they
surrendered. Their old loyalty to the house of Plantagenet burst once
more into flame; they rose in arms and called for aid to England. For a
moment the quarrel of York and Somerset was suspended, and the last
English army that crossed the seas during the Hundred Years' War landed
in Guienne, joined the insurgents, and for a time swept all before it.
But there seemed to be a curse on whatever Henry VI. and Somerset took in
hand. On the 17th of July 1453 the veteran earl of Shrewsbury and the
greater part of his Anglo-Gascon host were cut to pieces at the
hard-fought battle of Castillon. Bordeaux, though left to defend itself,
held out for eighty days after Talbot's defeat and death, and then made
its final submission to the French. The long struggle was over, and
England now retained nothing of her old transmarine possessions save
Calais and the Channel Islands. The ambition of Henry V. had finally cost
her the long-loyal Guienne, as well as all the ephemeral conquests of his
own sword.

The last crowning disaster of the administration of the favourites of
Henry VI. put an end to the chance that a way out of domestic strife
might be found in the vigorous prosecution of the French war. For the
next twenty years the battles of England were to be fought on her own
soil, and between her own sons. It was a righteous punishment for her
interference in the unnatural strife of Orleanists and Burgundians that
the struggle between York and Lancaster was to be as bitter and as
bloody as that between the two French factions.

V. THE WARS OF THE ROSES (1453-1497)

  Origin of the Wars of the Roses.

The Wars of the Roses have been ascribed to many different causes by
different historians. To some their origin is mainly constitutional.
Henry VI., it is argued, had broken the tacit compact which the house of
Lancaster had made with the nation; instead of committing the
administration of the realm to ministers chosen for him by, or at least
approved by, his parliament, he persisted in retaining in office persons
like Suffolk and Somerset, who had forfeited the confidence of the
people by their many failures in war and diplomacy, and were suspected
of something worse than incapacity. They might not be so personally
odious as the favourites of Edward II. or of Henry III., but they were
even more dangerous to the state, because they were not foreign
adventurers but great English peers. In spite of the warnings given by
the assault on Suffolk in 1450, by Jack Cade's insurrection, and by the
first armed demonstrations of Richard of York in 1450 and 1452, the king
persisted in keeping his friends in office, and they had to be removed
by the familiar and forcible methods that had been applied in earlier
ages by the lords ordainers or the lords appellant. Undoubtedly there is
much truth in this view of the situation; if Henry VI., or perhaps we
should rather say, if his queen Margaret of Anjou, had been content to
accept ministries in which the friends of Richard of York were fairly
represented, it is probable that he might have died a king, and have
transmitted his crown to his natural heir. But this explanation of the
Wars of the Roses is not complete; it accounts for their outbreak, but
not for their long continuance.

  Claims of the duke of York to the crown.

  Birth of Edward, prince of Wales.

  Queen Margaret.

  Condition of the country.

According to another school the real key to the problem is simply the
question of the succession to the crown. If the wedlock of Henry VI. and
Margaret of Anjou had been fruitful during the first few years after
their marriage, no one would have raised the question of a change of
dynasty. But when they remained childless for seven years, and strong
suspicion arose that there was a project on foot to declare the
Beauforts heirs to the throne, the claim of Richard of York, as the
representative of the houses of Clarence and March, was raised by those
who viewed the possible accession of the incapable and unpopular
Somerset with terror and dislike. When once the claims of York had been
displayed and stated by his imprudent partisan, Thomas Yonge, in the
parliament of 1451, there was no possibility of hiding the fact that in
the strict legitimate line of succession he had a better claim than the
reigning king. He disavowed any pretensions to the crown for nine years;
it was only in 1460 that he set forth his title with his own mouth. But
his friends and followers were not so discreet; hence when a son was at
last born to Henry and Margaret, in 1453, the succession question was
already in the air and could no longer be ignored. If the claim of York
was superior to that of Lancaster in the eyes of a considerable part of
the nation, it was no longer possible to consider the problem solved by
the birth of a direct heir to the actual occupant of the throne. Though
Duke Richard behaved in the most correct fashion, acknowledged the
infant Edward as prince of Wales, and made no attempt to assert dynastic
claims during his two regencies in 1454 and 1455-1456, yet the queen and
her partisans already looked upon him as a pretender to the throne. It
is this fact which accounts for the growing bitterness of the Yorkist
and Lancastrian parties during the last years of Henry VI. Margaret
believed herself to be defending the rights of her son against a
would-be usurper. Duke Richard, on the other hand, considered himself as
wrongfully oppressed, and excluded from his legitimate position as a
prince of the blood and a chief councillor of the crown. Nor can there
be any doubt that the queen took every opportunity of showing her
suspicion of him, and deliberately kept him and his friends from sharing
in the administration of the realm. This might have been more tolerable
if the Lancastrian party had shown any governing power; but both while
Somerset was their leader, down to his death in the first battle of St
Albans, and while in 1456-1459 Exeter, Wiltshire, Shrewsbury and
Beaumont were the queen's trusted agents, the condition of England was
deplorable. As a contemporary chronicler wrote, "the realm was out of
all good governance--as it has been many days before: the king was
simple, and led by covetous councillors, and owed more than he was
worth. His debts increased daily, but payment was there none, for all
the manors and possessions that pertained to the crown he had given
away, so that he had almost nought to live on. For these misgovernances
the hearts of the people were turned from them that had the land in
rule, and their blessing was turned to cursing. The officers of the
realm, and especially the earl of Wiltshire the treasurer, for to enrich
himself plundered poor people and disinherited rightful heirs, and did
many wrongs. The queen was defamed, that he that was called the prince
was not the king's son, but a bastard gotten in adultery." When it is
added that the Lancastrian party avoided holding a parliament for three
years, because they dared not face it, and that the French were allowed
to sack Fowey, Sandwich and other places because there was no English
fleet in existence, it is not wonderful that many men thought that the
cup of the iniquities of the house of Lancaster was full. In the
military classes it was felt that the honour of the realm was lost; in
mercantile circles it was thought that the continuance for a few years
more of such government would make an end of English trade. Some excuse
must be found for getting rid of the queen and her friends, and the
doubtful legitimacy of the Lancastrian claim to the crown afforded such
an excuse. Hence came the curious paradox, that the party which started
as the advocates of the rights of parliament against the incapable
ministers appointed by the crown, ended by challenging the right of
parliament, exercised in 1399, to depose a legitimate king and
substitute for him another member of the royal house. For Richard of
York in 1460 and Edward IV. in 1461 put in their claim to the throne,
not as the elect of the nation, but as the possessors of a divine
hereditary right to the succession, there having been no true king of
England since the death of Richard II. Hence Edward assumed the royal
title in March 1461, was crowned in June, but called no parliament till
November. When it met, it acknowledged him as king, but made no pretence
of creating or electing him to be sovereign.

  Motives of the contending parties.

But putting aside the constitutional aspects of the Wars of the Roses,
it is necessary to point out that they had another aspect. From one
point of view they were little more than a great faction fight between
two alliances of over-powerful barons. Though the Lancastrians made much
play with the watchword of loyalty to the crown, and though the Yorkists
never forgot to speak of the need for strong and wise governance, and
the welfare of the realm, yet personal and family enmities had in many
cases more effect in determining their action than a zeal for King
Henry's rights or for the prosperity of England. It is true that some
classes were undoubtedly influenced in their choice of sides mainly by
the general causes spoken of above; the citizens of London and the other
great towns (for example) inclined to the Yorkist faction simply because
they saw that under the Lancastrian rule the foreign trade of England
was being ruined, and insufficient security was given for life and
property. But the leading men among the baronage were undoubtedly swayed
by ambition and resentment, by family ties and family feuds, far more
than by enlightened statesmanship or zeal for the king or the
commonweal. It would be going too far to seek the origin of the Yorkist
party--as some have done--in the old enmity of the houses of March,
Norfolk and Salisbury against Henry IV. But it is not so fantastic to
ascribe its birth to the personal hatred that existed between Richard of
York and Edmund of Somerset, to the old family grudge (going back to
1405) between the Percies and the Nevilles, to the marriage alliance
that bound the houses of York and Neville together, and to other less
well-remembered quarrels or blood-ties among the lesser baronage. As an
example of how such motives worked, it may suffice to quote the case of
those old enemies, the Bonvilles and Courtenays, in the west country.
While Lord Bonville supported the queen, the house of Courtenay were
staunch Yorkists, and the earl of Devon joined in the armed
demonstration of Duke Richard in 1452. But when the earl changed his
politics and fought on the Lancastrian side at St Albans in 1455, the
baron at once became a strenuous adherent of the duke, adhered firmly to
the white rose and died by the axe for its cause.

  The baronial party. The Nevilles.

Richard of York, in short, was not merely the head of a constitutional
opposition to misgovernment by the queen's friends, nor was he merely a
legitimist claimant to the crown, he was also the head of a powerful
baronial league, of which the most prominent members were his kinsmen,
the Nevilles, Mowbrays and Bourchiers. The Nevilles alone, enriched with
the ancient estates of the Beauchamps and Montagus, and with five of
their name in the House of Lords, were a sufficient nucleus for a
faction. They were headed by the two most capable politicians and
soldiers then alive in England, the two Richards, father and son, who
held the earldoms of Salisbury and Warwick, and were respectively
brother-in-law and nephew to York. It must be remembered that a baron of
1450 was not strong merely by reason of the spears and bows of his
household and his tenantry, like a baron of the 13th century. The
pernicious practice of "livery and maintenance" was now at its zenith;
all over England in times of stress the knighthood and gentry were wont
to pledge themselves, by sealed bonds of indenture, to follow the
magnate whom they thought best able to protect them. They mounted his
badge, and joined his banner when strife broke out, in return for his
championship of their private interests and his promise to "maintain"
them against all their enemies. A soldier and statesman of the ability
and ambition of Richard of Warwick counted hundreds of such adherents,
scattered over twenty shires. The system had spread so far that the
majority of the smaller tenants-in-chief, and even many of the lesser
barons, were the sworn followers of an insignificant number of the
greater lords. An alliance of half-a-dozen of these over-powerful
subjects was a serious danger to the crown. For the king could no longer
count on raising a national army against them; he could only call out
the adherents of the lords of his own party. The factions were fairly
balanced, for if the majority of the baronage were, on the whole,
Lancastrian, the greatest houses stood by the cause of York.

  Attitude of Richard of York.

  Suppression of York's rebellion. Executions and confiscations.

  The earl of Warwick defeats the Lancastrians at Northampton.

  Richard of York declared heir to the throne.

Despite all this, there was still, when the wars began, a very strong
feeling in favour of compromise and moderation. For this there can be no
doubt that Richard of York was mainly responsible. When he was twice
placed in power, during the two protectorates which followed Henry's two
long fits of insanity in 1454 and 1455-1456, he carefully avoided any
oppression of his enemies, though he naturally took care to put his own
friends in office. Most of all did he show his sincere wish for peace by
twice laying down the protectorate when the king was restored to sanity.
He was undoubtedly goaded into his last rebellion of 1459 by the queen's
undisguised preparations for attacking him. Yet because he struck first,
without waiting for a definite _casus belli_, public opinion declared so
much against him that half his followers refused to rally to his banner.
The revulsion only came when the queen, victorious after the rout of
Ludford, applied to the vanquished Yorkists those penalties of
confiscation and attainder which Duke Richard had always refused to
employ in his day of power. After the harsh doings at the parliament of
Coventry (1459), and the commencement of political executions by the
sending of Roger Neville and his fellows to the scaffold, the trend of
public opinion veered round, and Margaret and her friends were rightly
held responsible for the embittered nature of the strife. Hence came the
marvellous success of the Yorkist counterstroke in June 1460, when the
exiled Warwick, landing in Kent with a mere handful of men, was suddenly
joined by the whole of the south of England and the citizens of London,
and inflicted a crushing defeat on the Lancastrians at Northampton
before he had been fifteen days on shore (July 10, 1460). The growing
rancour of the struggle was marked by the fact that the Yorkists, after
Northampton, showed themselves by no means so merciful and scrupulous as
in their earlier days. Retaliatory executions began, though on a small
scale, and when York reached London he at last began to talk of his
rights to the crown, and to propose the deposition of Henry VI. Yet
moderation was still so far prevalent in the ranks of his adherents that
they refused to follow him to such lengths. Warwick and the other
leading men of the party dictated a compromise, by which Henry was to
reign for the term of his natural life, but Duke Richard was to be
recognized as his heir and to succeed him on the throne. They had
obviously borrowed the expedient from the terms of the treaty of Troyes.
But the act of parliament which embodied it did not formally disinherit
the reigning king's son, as the treaty of Troyes had done, but merely
ignored his existence.

  Battle of Wakefield. Richard slain.

  Battle of St Albans.

It would have been well for England if this agreement had held, and the
crown had passed peaceably to the house of York, after the comparatively
short and bloodless struggle which had just ended. But Duke Richard had
forgotten to reckon with the fierce and unscrupulous energy of Queen
Margaret, when she was at bay in defence of her son's rights. Marching
with a trifling force to expel her from the north, he was surprised and
slain at Wakefield (Dec. 30, 1460). But it was not his death that was
the main misfortune, but the fact that in the battle the Lancastrians
gave no quarter to small or great, and that after it they put to death
York's brother-in-law Salisbury and other prisoners. The heads of the
duke and the earl were set up over the gates of York. This ferocity was
repeated when Margaret and her northern host beat Warwick at the second
battle of St Albans (Feb. 17, 1461), where they had the good fortune to
recover possession of the person of King Henry. Lord Bonville and the
other captives of rank were beheaded next morning.

  Edward, earl of March, proclaimed as Edward IV.

After this it was but natural that the struggle became a mere record of
massacres and executions. The Yorkists proclaimed Edward, Duke Richard's
heir, king of England; they took no further heed of the claims of King
Henry, declared their leader the true successor of Richard II., and
stigmatized the whole period of the Lancastrian rule as a mere
usurpation. They adopted a strict legitimist theory of the descent of
the crown, and denied the right of parliament to deal with the
succession. This was the first step in the direction of absolute
monarchy which England had seen since the short months of King Richard's
tyranny in 1397-1399. It was but the first of many encroachments of the
new dynasty upon the liberties that had been enjoyed by the nation under
the house of Lancaster.

  Changed character of the war.

  Battle of Towton.

  Ruthless reprisals of the Yorkists.

  Personal rule of Edward IV.

The revenge taken by the new king and his cousin Richard of Warwick for
the slaughter at Wakefield and St Albans was prompt and dreadful. They
were now well supported by the whole of southern England; for not only
had the queen's ferocity shocked the nation, but the reckless plundering
of her northern moss-troopers in the home counties had roused the
peasantry and townsfolk to an interest in the struggle which they had
never before displayed. Up to this moment the civil war had been
conducted like a great faction fight; the barons and their liveried
retainers had been wont to seek some convenient heath or hill and there
to fight out their quarrel with the minimum of damage to the
countryside. The deliberate harrying of the Midlands by Margaret's
northern levies was a new departure, and one bitterly resented. The
house of Lancaster could never for the future count on an adherent south
of Trent or east of Chiltern. The Yorkist army that marched in pursuit
of the raiders, and won the bloody field of Towton under Warwick's
guidance, gave no quarter. Not only was the slaughter in that battle and
the pursuit more cruel than anything that had been seen since the day of
Evesham, but the executions that followed were ruthless. Ere Edward
turned south he had beheaded two earls--Devon and Wiltshire--and
forty-two knights, and had hanged many prisoners of lesser estate. The
Yorkist parliament of November 1461 carried on the work by attainting
133 persons, ranging from Henry VI. and Queen Margaret down through the
peerage and the knighthood to the clerks and household retainers of the
late king. All the estates of the Lancastrian lords, living or dead,
were confiscated, and their blood was declared corrupted. This brought
into the king's hands such a mass of plunder as no one had handled since
William the Conqueror. Edward IV. could not only reward his adherents
with it, so as to create a whole new court noblesse, but had enough over
to fill his exchequer for many years, and to enable him to dispense with
parliamentary grants of money for an unexampled period. Between 1461 and
1465 he only asked for £37,000 from the nation--and won no small
popularity thereby. For, in their joy at being quit of taxation, men
forgot that they were losing the lever by which their fathers had been
wont to move the crown to constitutional concessions.

  Civil war in the north and west.

  Battle of Hexham. Imprisonment of Henry VI.

After Towton peace prevailed south of the Tyne and east of the Severn,
for it was only in Northumberland and in Wales that the survivors of the
Lancastrian faction succeeded in keeping the war alive. King Edward, as
indolent and pleasure-loving in times of ease as he was active and
ruthless in times of stress and battle, set himself to enjoy life,
handing over the suppression of the rebels to his ambitious and untiring
cousin Richard of Warwick. The annals of the few contemporary
chroniclers are so entirely devoted to the bickerings in the extreme
north and west, that it is necessary to insist on the fact that from
1461 onwards the civil war was purely local, and nine-tenths of the
realm enjoyed what passed for peace in the 15th century. The campaigns
of 1462-63-64, though full of incident and bloodshed, were not of
first-rate political importance. The cause of Lancaster had been lost at
Towton, and all that Queen Margaret succeeded in accomplishing was to
keep Northumberland in revolt, mainly by means of French and Scottish
succours. Her last English partisans, attainted men who had lost their
lands and lived with the shadow of the axe ever before them, fought
bitterly enough. But the obstinate and hard-handed Warwick beat them
down again and again, and the old Lancastrian party was almost
exterminated when the last of its chiefs went to the block in the series
of wholesale executions that followed the battle of Hexham (May 15,
1464). A year later Henry VI. himself fell into the hands of his
enemies, as he lurked in Lancashire, and with his consignment to the
Tower the dynastic question seemed finally solved in favour of the house
of York.

  Richard Neville, earl of Warwick.

The first ten years of the reign of Edward IV. fall into two parts, the
dividing point being the avowal of the king's marriage to Elizabeth
Woodville in November 1464. During the first of these periods Edward
reigned but Warwick governed; he was not only the fighting man, but the
statesman and diplomatist of the Yorkist party, and enjoyed a complete
ascendancy over his young master, who long preferred thriftless ease to
the toils of personal monarchy. Warwick represented the better side of
the victorious cause; he was no mere factious king-maker, and his later
nickname of "the last of the barons" by no means expresses his character
or his position. He was strong, not so much by reason of his vast
estates and his numerous retainers, as by reason of the confidence which
the greater part of the nation placed in him. He never forgot that the
Yorkist party had started as the advocates of sound and strong
administration, and the mandatories of the popular will against the
queen's incapable and corrupt ministers. "He ever had the goodwill of
the people because he knew how to give them fair words, and always spoke
not of himself but of the augmentation and good governance of the
kingdom, for which he would spend his life; and thus he had the goodwill
of England, so that in all the land he was the lord who was held in most
esteem and faith and credence." As long as he remained supreme,
parliaments were regularly held, and the house of York appeared to be
keeping its bargain with the nation. His policy was sound; peace with
France, the rehabilitation of the dwindling foreign trade of England,
and the maintenance of law and justice by strong-handed governance were
his main aims.

But Warwick was one of those ministers who love to do everything for
themselves, and chafe at masters and colleagues who presume to check or
to criticise their actions. He was surrounded and supported, moreover,
by a group of brothers and cousins, to whom he gave most of his
confidence, and most of the preferment that came to his hands. England
has always chafed against a family oligarchy, however well it may do its
work. The Yorkist magnates who did not belong to the clan of the
Nevilles were not unnaturally jealous of that house, and Edward IV.
himself gradually came to realize the ignominious position of a king who
is managed and overruled by a strong-willed and arbitrary minister.

  Edward IV. marries Elizabeth Woodville.

  Breach between Warwick and the king.

His first sign of revolt was his secret marriage to Elizabeth Woodville,
a lady of decidedly Lancastrian connexions, for her father and her first
husband were both members of the defeated faction. Warwick was at the
moment suing for the hand of Louis XI.'s sister-in-law in his master's
name, and had to back out of his negotiations in a sudden and somewhat
ridiculous fashion. His pride was hurt, but for two years more there was
no open breach between him and his master, though their estrangement
grew more and more marked when Edward continued to heap titles and
estates on his wife's numerous relatives, and to conclude for them
marriage alliances with all the great Yorkist families who were not of
the Neville connexion. In this way he built up for himself a personal
following within the Yorkist party; but the relative strength of this
faction and of that which still looked upon Warwick as the true
representative of the cause had yet to be tried. The king had in his
favour the prestige of the royal name, and a popularity won by his
easy-going affability and his liberal gifts. The earl had his
established reputation for disinterested devotion to the welfare of the
realm, and his brilliant record as a soldier and statesman. In districts
as far apart as Kent and Yorkshire, his word counted for a good deal
more than that of his sovereign.

  Warwick organizes a rebellion.

  Rising of "Robin of Redesdale."

Unhappily for England and for himself, Warwick's loyalty was not
sufficient to restrain his ambition and his resentment. He felt the
ingratitude of the king, whom he had made, so bitterly that he stooped
ere long to intrigue and treason. Edward in 1467 openly broke with him
by dismissing his brother George Neville from the chancellorship, by
repudiating a treaty with France which the earl had just negotiated, and
by concluding an alliance with Burgundy against which he had always
protested. Warwick enlisted in his cause the king's younger brother
George of Clarence, who desired to marry his daughter and heiress
Isabella Neville, and with the aid of this unscrupulous but unstable
young man began to organize rebellion. His first experiment in treason
was the so-called "rising of Robin of Redesdale," which was ostensibly
an armed protest by the gentry and commons of Yorkshire against the
maladministration of the realm by the king's favourites--his wife's
relatives, and the courtiers whom he had lately promoted to high rank
and office. The rebellion was headed by well-known adherents of the
earl, and the nickname of "Robin of Redesdale" seems to have covered the
personality of his kinsman Sir John Conyers. When the rising was well
started Warwick declared his sympathy with the aims of the insurgents,
wedded his daughter to Clarence despite the king's prohibition of the
match, and raised a force at Calais with which he landed in Kent.

  Battle of Edgecott. Edward a prisoner.

  Execution of the queen's relatives.

But his plot was already successful before he reached the scene of
operations. The Yorkshire rebels beat the royalist army at the battle of
Edgecott (July 6, 1469). A few days later Edward himself was captured at
Olney and put into the earl's hands. Many of his chief supporters,
including the queen's father, Lord Rivers, and her brother, John
Woodville, as well as the newly-created earls of Pembroke and Devon,
were put to death with Warwick's connivance, if not by his direct
orders. The king was confined for some weeks in the great Neville
stronghold of Middleham Castle, but presently released on conditions,
being compelled to accept new ministers nominated by Warwick. The earl
supposed that his cousin's spirit was broken and that he would give no
further trouble. In this he erred grievously. Edward vowed revenge for
his slaughtered favourites, and waited his opportunity. Warwick had lost
credit by using such underhand methods in his attack on his master, and
had not taken sufficient care to conciliate public opinion when he
reconstructed the government. His conduct had destroyed his old
reputation for disinterestedness and honesty.

  King Edward drives Warwick into exile.

In March 1470 the king seized the first chance of avenging himself. Some
unimportant riots had broken out in Lincolnshire, originating probably
in mere local quarrels, but possibly in Lancastrian intrigues. To
suppress this rising the king gathered a great force, carefully calling
in to his banner all the peers who were offended with Warwick or, at any
rate, did not belong to his family alliance. Having scattered the
Lincolnshire bands, he suddenly turned upon Warwick with his army, and
caught him wholly unprepared. The earl and his son-in-law Clarence were
hunted out of the realm before they could collect their partisans, and
fled to France; Edward seemed for the first time to be master in his own

  Warwick takes up the cause of Henry VI.

  He lands in England.

  King Edward in exile.

But the Wars of the Roses had one more phase to come. Warwick's name was
still a power in the land, and his expulsion had been so sudden that he
had not been given an opportunity of trying his strength. His old enmity
for the house of Lancaster was completely swallowed up in his new grudge
against the king that he had made. He opened negotiations with the
exiled Queen Margaret, and offered to place his sword at her disposition
for the purpose of overthrowing King Edward and restoring King Henry.
The queen had much difficulty in forcing herself to come to terms with
the man who had been the bane of her cause, but finally, was induced by
Louis XI. to conclude a bargain. Warwick married his younger daughter to
her son Edward, prince of Wales, as a pledge of his good faith, and
swore allegiance to King Henry in the cathedral of Angers. He then set
himself to stir up the Yorkshire adherents of the house of Neville to
distract the attention of Edward IV. When the king had gone northward to
attack them, the earl landed at Dartmouth (Sept. 1470) with a small
force partly composed of Lancastrian exiles, partly of his own men. His
appearance had the effect on which he had calculated. Devon rose in the
Lancastrian interest; Kent, where the earl's name had always been
popular, took arms a few days later; and London opened its gates. King
Edward, hurrying south to oppose the invader, found his army melting
away from his banner, and hastily took ship at Lynn and fled to Holland.
He found a refuge with his brother-in-law and ally Charles the Bold, the
great duke of Burgundy.

  Restoration of Henry VI.

  Edward returns to England.

  Battle of Barnet. Death of Warwick.

King Henry was released and replaced on the throne, and for six months
Warwick ruled England as his lieutenant. But there was bitterness and
mistrust between the old Lancastrian faction and the Nevilles, and Queen
Margaret refused to cross to England or to trust her son in the
king-maker's hands. Her partisans doubted his sincerity, while many of
the Yorkists who had hitherto followed Warwick in blind admiration found
it impossible to reconcile themselves to the new régime. The duke of
Clarence in particular, discontented at the triumph of Lancaster,
betrayed his father-in-law, and opened secret negotiations with his
exiled brother. Encouraged by the news of the dissensions among his
enemies, Edward IV. resolved to try his fortune once more, and landed
near Hull on the 15th of March 1471 with a body of mercenaries lent him
by the duke of Burgundy. The campaign that followed was most creditable
to Edward's generalship, but must have been fatal to him if Warwick had
been honestly supported by his lieutenants. But the duke of Clarence
betrayed to his brother the army which he had gathered in King Henry's
name, and many of the Lancastrians were slow to join the earl, from
their distrust of his loyalty. Edward, dashing through the midst of the
slowly gathering levies of his opponents, seized London, and two days
later defeated and slew Warwick at the battle of Barnet (April 13,

  Battle of Tewkesbury. Death of Edward, prince of Wales.

  Capture of Queen Margaret and murder of Henry VI.

On that same day Queen Margaret and her son landed at Weymouth, only to
hear that the earl was dead and his army scattered. But she refused to
consider the struggle ended, and gathered the Lancastrians of the west
for a final rally. On the fatal day of Tewkesbury (May 3, 1471) her army
was beaten, her son was slain in the flight, and the greater part of her
chief captains were taken prisoner. She herself was captured next day.
The victorious Edward sent to the block the last Beaufort duke of
Somerset, and nearly all the other captains of rank, whether
Lancastrians or followers of Warwick. He then moved to London, which was
being threatened by Kentish levies raised in Warwick's name, delivered
the city, and next day caused the unhappy Henry VI. to be murdered in
the Tower (May 21, 1471).

  Edward IV.

The descendants of Henry IV. were now extinct, and the succession
question seemed settled for ever. No one dreamed of raising against King
Edward the claims of the remoter heirs of John of Gaunt--the young earl
of Richmond, who represented the Beauforts by a female descent, or the
king of Portugal, the grandson of Gaunt's eldest daughter. Edward was
now king indeed, with no over-powerful cousin at his elbow to curb his
will. He had, moreover, at his disposal plunder almost as valuable as
that which he had divided up in 1461--the estates of the great Neville
clan and their adherents. A great career seemed open before him; he had
proved himself a fine soldier and an unscrupulous diplomatist; he was in
the very prime of life, having not yet attained his thirty-first year.
He might have devoted himself to foreign politics and have rivalled the
exploits of Edward III. or Henry V.--for the state of the continent was
all in his favour--or might have set himself to organize an absolute
monarchy on the ruins of the parliament and the baronage. For the
successive attainders of the Lancastrians and the Nevilles had swept
away many of the older noble families, and Edward's house of peers
consisted for the main part of new men, his own partisans promoted for
good service, who had not the grip on the land that their predecessors
had possessed.

  Character of the reign.

  Murder of the duke of Clarence.

But Edward either failed to see his opportunity or refused to take it.
He did not plunge headlong into the wars of Louis XI. and Charles of
Burgundy, nor did he attempt to recast the institutions of the realm. He
settled down into inglorious ease, varied at long intervals by outbursts
of spasmodic tyranny. It would seem that the key to his conduct was that
he hated the hard work without which a despotic king cannot hope to
assert his personality, and preferred leisure and vicious
self-indulgence. In many ways the later years of his reign were marked
with all the signs of absolutism. Between 1475 and 1483 he called only
one single parliament, and that was summoned not to give him advice, or
raise him money, but purely and solely to attaint his brother, the duke
of Clarence, whom he had resolved to destroy. The duke's fate (Feb. 17,
1478) need provoke no sympathy, he was a detestable intriguer, and had
given his brother just offence by a series of deeds of high-handed
violence and by perpetual cavilling. But he had committed no act of real
treason since his long-pardoned alliance with Warwick, and was not in
any way dangerous; so that when the king caused him to be attainted, and
then privately murdered in the Tower, there was little justification for
the fratricide.

    Fiscal policy.

Edward was a thrifty king; he was indeed the only medieval monarch of
England who succeeded in keeping free of debt and made his revenue
suffice for his expenses. But his methods of filling his purse were
often unconstitutional and sometimes ignominious. When the resources
drawn from confiscations were exhausted, he raised "benevolences"--forced
gifts extracted from men of wealth by the unspoken threat of the royal
displeasure--instead of applying to parliament for new taxes. But his
most profitable source of revenue was drawn from abroad. Having allied
himself with his brother-in-law Charles of Burgundy against the king of
France, he led an army into Picardy in 1475, and then by the treaty of
Picquigny sold peace to Louis XI. for 75,000 gold crowns down, and an
annual pension (or tribute as he preferred to call it) of 50,000 crowns
more. It was regularly paid up to the last year of his reign. Charles the
Bold, whom he had thus deliberately deserted in the middle of their joint
campaign, used the strongest language about this mean act of treachery,
and with good cause. But the king cared not when his pockets were full.
Another device of Edward for filling his exchequer was a very stringent
enforcement of justice; small infractions of the laws being made the
excuse for exorbitant fines. This was a trick which Henry VII. was to
turn to still greater effect. In defence of both it may be pleaded that
after the anarchy of the Wars of the Roses a strong hand was needed to
restore security for life and property, and that it was better that
penalties should be over-heavy rather than that there should be no
penalties at all. Another appreciable source of revenue to Edward was his
private commercial ventures. He owned many ships, and traded with great
profit to himself abroad, because he could promise, as a king, advantages
to foreign buyers and sellers with which no mere merchant could compete.

During the last period of Edward's rule England might have been
described as a despotism, if only the king had cared to be a despot. But
except on rare occasions he allowed his power to be disguised under the
old machinery of the medieval monarchy, and made no parade of his
autocracy. Much was pardoned by the nation to one who gave them
comparatively efficient and rather cheap government, and who was
personally easy of access, affable and humorous. It is with little
justification that he has been called the "founder of the new monarchy,"
and the spiritual ancestor of the Tudor despotism. Another king in his
place might have merited such titles, but Edward was too careless, too
unsystematic, too lazy, and too fond of self-indulgence to make a real
tyrant. He preferred to be a man of pleasure and leisure, only awaking
now and then to perpetrate some act of arbitrary cruelty.

  Condition of the country.

  Commercial development.

  Manufactures and wool trade.

England was not unprosperous under him. The lowest point of her fortunes
had been reached under the administration of Margaret of Anjou, during
the weary years that preceded the outbreak of the civil wars in 1459. At
that time the government had been bankrupt, foreign trade had almost
disappeared, the French and pirates of all nations had possession of the
Channel, and the nation had lost heart, because there seemed no way out
of the trouble save domestic strife, to which all looked forward with
dismay. The actual war proved less disastrous than had been expected. It
fell heavily upon the baronage and their retainers, but passed lightly,
for the most part, over the heads of the middle classes. The Yorkists
courted the approval of public opinion by their careful avoidance of
pillage and requisitions; and the Lancastrians, though less scrupulous,
only once launched out into general raiding and devastation, during the
advance of the queen's army to St Albans in the early months of 1461. As
a rule the towns suffered little or nothing--they submitted to the king
of the moment, and were always spared by the victors. It is one of the
most curious features of these wars that no town ever stood a siege,
though there were several long and arduous sieges of baronial castles,
such as Harlech, Alnwick and Bamborough. Warwick, with his policy of
conciliation for the masses and hard blows for the magnates, was mainly
responsible for this moderation. In battle he was wont to bid his
followers spare the commons in the pursuit, and to smite only the
knights and nobles. Towton, where the Yorkist army was infuriated by the
harrying of the Midlands by their enemies in the preceding campaign,
was the only fight that ended in a general massacre. There were, of
course, many local feuds and riots which led to the destruction of
property; well-known instances are the private war about Caister Castle
between the duke of Norfolk and the Pastons, and the "battle of Nibley
Green," near Bristol, between the Berkeleys and the Talbots. But on the
whole there was no ruinous devastation of the land. Prosperity seems to
have revived early during the rule of York; Warwick had cleared the seas
of pirates, and both he and King Edward were great patrons of commerce,
though the earl's policy was to encourage trade with France, while his
master wished to knit up the old alliance with Flanders by adhering to
the cause of Charles of Burgundy. Edward did much in his later years to
develop interchange of commodities with the Baltic, making treaties with
the Hanseatic League which displeased the merchants of London, because
of the advantageous terms granted to the foreigner. The east coast ports
seem to have thriven under his rule, but Bristol was not less
prosperous. On the one side, developing the great salt-fish trade, her
vessels were encompassing Iceland, and feeling their way towards the
Banks of the West; on the other they were beginning to feel their way
into the Mediterranean. The famous William Canynges, the patriarch of
Bristol merchants, possessed 2500 tons of shipping, including some ships
of 900 tons, and traded in every sea. Yet we still find complaints that
too much merchandize reached and left England in foreign bottoms, and
King Edward's treaty with the Hansa was censured mainly for this reason.
Internal commerce was evidently developing in a satisfactory style,
despite of the wars; in especial raw wool was going out of England in
less bulk than of old, because cloth woven at home was becoming the
staple export. The woollen manufactures which had begun in the eastern
counties in the 14th century were now spreading all over the land,
taking root especially in Somersetshire, Yorkshire and some districts of
the Midlands. Coventry, the centre of a local woollen and dyeing
industry, was probably the inland town which grew most rapidly during
the 15th century. Yet there was still a large export of wool to
Flanders, and the long pack-trains of the Cotswold flockmasters still
wound eastward to the sea for the benefit of the merchants of the staple
and the continental manufacturer.

  State of the rural population.

As regards domestic agriculture, it has been often stated that the 15th
century was the golden age of the English peasant, and that his
prosperity was little affected either by the unhappy French wars of
Henry VI. or by the Wars of the Roses. There is certainly very little
evidence of any general discontent among the rural population, such as
had prevailed in the times of Edward III. or Richard II. Insurrections
that passed as popular, like the risings of Jack Cade and Robin of
Redesdale, produced manifestos that spoke of political grievances but
hardly mentioned economic ones. There is a bare mention of the Statute
of Labourers in Jack Cade's ably drafted chapter of complaints. It would
seem that the manorial grudges between landowner and peasant, which had
been so fierce in the 14th century, had died down as the lords abandoned
the old system of working their demesne by villein labour. They were now
for the most part letting out the soil to tenant-farmers at a moderate
rent, and the large class of yeomanry created by this movement seem to
have been prosperous. The less popular device of turning old manorial
arable land into sheep-runs was also known, but does not yet seem to
have grown so common as to provoke the popular discontents which were to
prevail under the Tudors. Probably such labour as was thrown out of work
by this tendency was easily absorbed by the growing needs of the towns.
Some murmurs are heard about "enclosures," but they are incidental and
not widely spread.


One of the best tests of the prosperity of England under the Yorkist
rule seems to be the immense amount of building that was on hand.
Despite the needs of civil war, it was not on castles that the builders'
energy was spent; the government discouraged fortresses in private
hands, and the dwellings of the new nobility of Edward IV. were rather
splendid manor-houses, with some slight external protection of moat and
gate-house, than old-fashioned castles. But the church-building of the
time is enormous and magnificent. A very large proportion of the great
Perpendicular churches of England date back to this age, and in the
cathedrals also much work was going on.

  Religious condition of the country.

Material prosperity does not imply spiritual development, and it must be
confessed that from the intellectual and moral point of view
15th-century England presents an unpleasing picture. The Wycliffite
movement, the one phenomenon which at the beginning of the century
seemed to give some promise of better things, had died down under
persecution. It lingered on in a subterranean fashion among a small
class in the universities and the minor clergy, and had some adherents
among the townsfolk and even among the peasantry. But the Lollards were
a feeble and helpless minority; they no longer produced writers,
organizers or missionaries. They continued to be burnt, or more
frequently to make forced recantations, under the Yorkist rule, though
the list of trials is not a long one. Little can be gathered concerning
them from chronicles or official records. We only know that they
continued to exist, and occasionally produced a martyr. But the
governing powers were not fanatics, bent on seeking out victims; the
spirit of Henry V. and Archbishop Arundel was dead. The life of the
church seems, indeed, to have been in a more stagnant and torpid
condition in this age than at any other period of English history. The
great prelates from Cardinal Beaufort down to Archbishops Bourchier and
Rotherham, and Bishop John Russell--trusted supporters of the Yorkist
dynasty--were mere politicians with nothing spiritual about them.
Occasionally they appear in odious positions. Rotherham was the ready
tool of Edward IV. in the judicial murder of Clarence. Russell became
the obsequious chancellor of Richard III. Bourchier made himself
responsible in 1483 for the taking of the little duke of York from his
mother's arms in order to place him in the power of his murderous uncle.
It is difficult to find a single bishop in the whole period who was
respected for his piety or virtue. The best of them were capable
statesmen, the worst were mean time-servers. Few of the higher clergy
were such patrons of learning as many prelates of earlier ages. William
Grey of Ely and James Goldwell of Norwich did something for scholars,
and there was one bishop in the period who came to sad grief through an
intellectual activity which was rare among his contemporaries. This was
the eccentric Reginald Pecock of Chichester, who, while setting himself
to confute Lollard controversialists, lapsed into heresy by setting
"reason" above "authority." He taught that the organization and many of
the dogmas of the medieval church should be justified by an appeal to
private judgment and the moral law, rather than to the scriptures, the
councils, or the fathers. For taking up this dangerous line of defence,
and admitting his doubts about several received articles of faith, he
was attacked by the Yorkist archbishop Bourchier in 1457, compelled to
do penance, and shut up in a monastery for the rest of his life. He
seems to have had no school of followers, and his doctrines died with

  The monasteries.

In nothing is the general stagnation of the church in the later 15th
century shown better than by the gradual cessation of the monastic
chronicles. The stream of narrative was still flowing strongly in 1400;
by 1485 it has run dry, even St Albans, the mother of historians,
produced no annalist after Whethamstede, whose story ceases early in the
Wars of the Roses. The only monastic chronicler who went on writing for
a few years after the extinction of the house of York was the "Croyland
continuator." For the last two-thirds of the century the various "London
chronicles," the work of laymen, are much more important than anything
which was produced in the religious houses. The regular clergy indeed
seem to have been sunk in intellectual torpor. Their numbers were
falling off, their zeal was gone; there is little good to be said of
them save that they were still in some cases endowing England with
splendid architectural decorations. But even in the wealthier abbeys we
find traces of thriftless administration, idleness, self-indulgence and
occasionally grave moral scandals. The parochial clergy were probably in
a healthier condition; but the old abuses of pluralism and non-residence
were as rampant as ever, and though their work may have been in many
cases honourably carried out, it is certain that energy and intelligence
were at a low ebb.

  Moral decay of the nation.

  The "Paston Letters."

  Influence of the Italian Renaissance.

The moral faults of the church only reflected those of the nation. It
was a hard and selfish generation which witnessed the Wars of the Roses
and the dictatorship of Edward IV. The iniquitous French war, thirty
years of plunder and demoralization, had corrupted the minds of the
governing classes before the civil strife began. Afterwards the constant
and easy changes of allegiance, as one faction or the other was in the
ascendant, the wholesale confiscations and attainders, the never-ending
executions, the sudden prosperity of adventurers, the premium on
time-serving and intrigue, sufficed to make the whole nation cynical and
sordid. The claim of the Yorkists to represent constitutional opposition
to misgovernment became a mere hypocrisy. The claim of the Lancastrians
to represent loyalty soon grew almost as hollow. Edward IV. with his
combination of vicious self-indulgence and spasmodic cruelty was no
unfit representative of his age. The _Paston Letters_, that unique
collection of the private correspondence of a typical family of
_nouveaux riches_, thriftless, pushing, unscrupulous, give us the true
picture of the time. All that can be said in favour of the Yorkists is
that they restored a certain measure of national prosperity, and that
their leaders had one redeeming virtue in their addiction to literature.
The learning which had died out in monasteries began to flourish again
in the corrupt soil of the court. Most of Edward's favourites had
literary tastes. His constable Tiptoft, the "butcher earl" of Worcester,
was a figure who might have stepped out of the Italian Renaissance. A
graduate of Pavia, a learned lawyer, who translated Caesar and Cicero,
composed works both in Latin and English, and habitually impaled his
victims, he was a man of a type hitherto unknown in England. Antony,
Lord Rivers, the queen's brother, was a mere adventurer, but a poet of
some merit, and a great patron of Caxton. Hastings, the Bourchiers, and
other of the king's friends were minor patrons of literature. It is
curious to find that Caxton, an honest man, and an enthusiast as to the
future of the art of printing, which he had introduced into England,
waxes enthusiastic as to the merits of the intelligent but unscrupulous
peers who took an interest in his endeavours. Of the detestable Tiptoft
he writes that "there flowered in virtue and cunning none like him among
the lords of the temporalty in science and moral virtue"! And this is no
time-serving praise of a patron, but disinterested tribute to a man who
had perished long before on the scaffold.

  Death of Edward IV.

  Richard, duke of Gloucester.

The uneventful latter half of the reign of Edward IV. ended with his
death at the age of forty-one on the 9th of April 1483. He had ruined a
splendid constitution by the combination of sloth and evil living, and
during his last years had been sinking slowly into his grave, unable to
take the field or to discharge the more laborious duties of royalty.
Since Clarence's death he had been gradually falling into the habit of
transferring the conduct of great matters of state to his active and
hard-working youngest brother, Richard, duke of Gloucester, who had
served him well and faithfully ever since he first took the field at
Barnet. Gloucester passed as a staid and religious prince, and if there
was blood on his hands, the same could be said of every statesman of his
time. His sudden plunge into crime and usurpation after his brother's
death was wholly unexpected by the nation. Indeed it was his previous
reputation for loyalty and moderation which made his scandalous _coup
d'état_ of 1483 possible. No prince with a sinister reputation would
have had the chance of executing the series of crimes which placed him
on the throne. But when Richard declared that he was the victim of
plots and intrigues, and was striking down his enemies only to defend
his own life and honour, he was for some time believed.

  Gloucester proclaims himself protector.

At the moment of King Edward's death his elder son by Elizabeth
Woodville, Edward, prince of Wales, was twelve; his younger son Richard,
duke of York, was nine. It was clear that there would be a long
minority, and that the only possible claimants for the regency were the
queen and Richard of Gloucester. Elizabeth was personally unpopular, and
the rapacity and insolence of her family was well known. Hence when
Richard of Gloucester seized on the person of the young king, and
imprisoned Lord Rivers and Sir Richard Grey, the queen's brother and
son, on the pretence that they were conspiring against him, his action
was regarded with equanimity by the people. Nor did the fact that the
duke took the title of "protector and defender of the realm" cause any
surprise. Suspicions only became rife after Richard had seized and
beheaded without any trial, Lord Hastings, the late king's most familiar
friend, and had arrested at the same moment the archbishop of York,
Morton, bishop of Ely, and Lord Stanley, all persons of unimpeachable
loyalty to the house of Edward IV. It was not plausible to accuse such
persons of plotting with the queen to overthrow the protector, and
public opinion began to turn against Gloucester. Nevertheless he went on
recklessly with his design, having already enlisted the support of a
party of the greater peers, who were ready to follow him to any length
of treason. These confidants, the duke of Buckingham, the lords Howard
and Lovel, and a few more, must have known from an early date that he
was aiming at the crown, though it is improbable that they suspected
that his plan involved the murder of the rightful heirs as well as mere

  Richard III. crowned.

On the 16th of June, Richard, using the aged archbishop Bourchier as his
tool, got the little duke of York out of his mother's hands, and sent
him to join his brother in the Tower. A few days later, having packed
London with his own armed retainers and those of Buckingham and his
other confidants, he openly put forward his pretensions to the throne.
Edward IV., as he asserted, had been privately contracted to Lady
Eleanor Talbot before he ever met Queen Elizabeth. His children
therefore were bastards, the offspring of a bigamous union. As to the
son and daughter of the duke of Clarence, their blood had been corrupted
by their father's attainder, and they could not be reckoned as heirs to
the crown. He himself, therefore, was the legitimate successor of Edward
IV. This preposterous theory was set forth by Buckingham, first to the
mayor and corporation of London, and next day to an assembly of the
estates of the realm held in St Paul's. Cowed by the show of armed
force, and remembering the fate of Hastings, the two assemblies received
the claim with silence which gave consent. Richard, after a hypocritical
show of reluctance, allowed himself to be saluted as king, and was
crowned on the 6th of July 1483. Before the coronation ceremony he had
issued orders for the execution of the queen's relatives, who had been
in prison since the beginning of May. He paid his adherents lavishly for
their support, making Lord Howard duke of Norfolk, and giving Buckingham
enormous grants of estates and offices.

  Murder of the princes.

Having accomplished his _coup d'état_ Richard started for a royal
progress through the Midlands, and a few days after his departure sent
back secret orders to London for the murder of his two nephews in the
Tower. There is no reason to doubt that they were secretly smothered on
or about the 15th of July by his agent Sir James Tyrrell, or that the
bones found buried under a staircase in the fortress two hundred years
after belonged to the two unhappy lads. But the business was kept dark
at the time, and it was long before any one could assert with certainty
that they were dead or alive. Richard never published any statement as
to their end, though some easy tale of a fever, a conflagration, or an
accident might have served him better than the mere silence that he
employed. For while many persons believed that the princes still
existed there was room for all manner of impostures and false rumours.

  Buckingham's rebellion.

The usurper's reign was from the first a troubled one. Less than three
months after his coronation the first insurrection broke out; it was
headed--strangely enough--by the duke of Buckingham, who seems to have
been shocked by the murder of the princes; he must have been one of the
few who had certain information of the crime. He did not take arms in
his own cause, though after the house of York the house of Buckingham
had the best claim to the throne, as representing Thomas of Woodstock,
the youngest son of Edward III. His plan was to unite the causes of York
and Lancaster by wedding the Lady Elizabeth, the eldest sister of the
murdered princes, to Henry Tudor, earl of Richmond, a young exile who
represented the very doubtful claim of the Beauforts to the Lancastrian
heritage. Henry was the son of Margaret Beaufort, the daughter of John,
first duke of Somerset, and the niece of Edmund, second duke, who fell
at St Albans. All her male kinsmen had been exterminated in the Wars of
the Roses.

  Execution of Buckingham.

This promising scheme was to be supported by a rising of those Yorkists
who rejected the usurpation of Richard III., and by the landing on the
south coast of Henry of Richmond with a body of Lancastrian exiles and
foreign mercenaries. But good organization was wanting, and chance
fought for the king. A number of scattered risings in the south were put
down by Richard's troops, while Buckingham, who had raised his banner in
Wales, was prevented from bringing aid by a week of extraordinary rains
which made the Severn impassable. Finding that the rest of the plan had
miscarried, Buckingham's retainers melted away from him, and he was
forced to fly. A few days later he was betrayed, handed over to the
king, and beheaded (Nov. 2, 1483). Meanwhile Richmond's little fleet was
dispersed by the same storms that scattered Buckingham's army, and he
was forced to return to Brittany without having landed in England.

Here King Richard's luck ended. Though he called a parliament early in
1484, and made all manner of gracious promises of good governance, he
felt that his position was insecure. The nation was profoundly disgusted
with his unscrupulous policy, and the greater part of the leaders of the
late insurrection had escaped abroad and were weaving new plots. Early
in the spring he lost his only son and heir, Edward, prince of Wales,
and the question of the succession to the crown was opened from a new
point of view. After some hesitation Richard named his nephew John de la
Pole, earl of Lincoln, a son of his sister, as his heir. But he also
bethought him of another and a most repulsive plan for strengthening his
position. His queen, Anne Neville, the daughter of the kingmaker, was on
her death-bed. With indecent haste he began to devise a scheme for
marrying his niece Elizabeth, whose brothers he had murdered but a year
before. Knowledge of this scheme is said to have shortened the life of
the unfortunate Anne, and many did not scruple to say that her husband
had made away with her.

  Henry of Richmond lands at Milford.

  Battle of Bosworth.

When the queen was dead, and some rumours of the king's intentions got
abroad, the public indignation was so great that Richard's councillors
had to warn him to disavow the projected marriage, if he wished to
retain a single adherent. He yielded, and made public complaint that he
had been slandered--which few believed. Meanwhile the conspirators of
1483 were busy in organizing another plan of invasion. This time it was
successfully carried out, and the earl of Richmond landed at Milford
Haven with many exiles, both Yorkists and Lancastrians, and 1000
mercenaries lent him by the princess regent of France. The Welsh joined
him in great numbers, not forgetting that by his Tudor descent he was
their own kinsman, and when he reached Shrewsbury English adherents also
began to flock in to his banner, for the whole country was seething with
discontent, and Richard III. had but few loyal adherents. When the
rivals met at Bosworth Field (Aug. 22, 1485) the king's army was far the
larger, but the greater part of it was determined not to fight. When
battle was joined some left the field and many joined the pretender.
Richard, however, refused to fly, and was slain, fighting to the last,
along with the duke of Norfolk and a few other of his more desperate
partisans. The slaughter was small, for treason, not the sword, had
settled the day. The battered crown which had fallen from Richard's
helmet was set on the victor's head by Lord Stanley, the chief of the
Yorkist peers who had joined his standard, and his army hailed him by
the new title of Henry VII.

  Henry VII.

No monarch of England since William the Conqueror, not excluding Stephen
and Henry IV., could show such a poor title to the throne as the first
of the Tudor kings. His claim to represent the house of Lancaster was of
the weakest--when Henry IV. had assented to the legitimating of his
brothers the Beauforts, he had attached a clause to the act, to provide
that they were given every right save that of counting in the line of
succession to the throne. The true heir to the house of John of Gaunt
should have been sought among the descendants of his eldest legitimate
daughter, not among those of his base-born sons. The earl of Richmond
had been selected by the conspirators as their figure-head mainly
because he was known as a young man of ability, and because he was
unmarried and could therefore take to wife the princess Elizabeth, and
so absorb the Yorkist claim in his own. This had been the essential part
of the bargain, and Henry was ready to carry it out, but he insisted
that he should first be recognized as king in his own right, lest it
might be held that he ruled merely as his destined wife's consort. He
was careful to hold his first parliament and get his title acknowledged
before he married the princess. When he had done so, he had the triple
claim by conquest, by election and by inheritance, safely united. Yet
his position was even then insecure; the vicissitudes of the last thirty
years had shaken the old prestige of the name of king, and a weaker and
less capable man than Henry Tudor might have failed to retain the crown
that he had won. There were plenty of possible pretenders in existence;
the earl of Lincoln, whom Richard III. had recognized as his heir, was
still alive; the two children of the duke of Clarence might be made the
tools of conspirators; and there was a widespread doubt as to whether
the sons of Edward IV. had actually died in the Tower. The secrecy with
which their uncle had carried out their murder was destined to be a sore
hindrance to his successor.

  Early years of the reign.

  Insurrections and plots.

Bosworth Field is often treated as the last act of the Wars of the
Roses. This is an error; they were protracted for twelve years after the
accession of Henry VII., and did not really end till the time of
Blackheath Field and the siege of Exeter (1497). The position of the
first Tudor king is misconceived if his early years are regarded as a
time of strong governance and well-established order. On the contrary he
was in continual danger, and was striving with all the resources of a
ready and untiring mind to rebuild foundations that were absolutely
rotten. Phenomena like the Cornish revolt (which recalls Cade's
insurrection) and the Yorkshire rising of 1489, which began with the
death of the earl of Northumberland, show that at any moment whole
counties might take arms in sheer lawlessness, or for some local
grievance. Loyalty was such an uncertain thing that the king might call
out great levies yet be forced to doubt whether they would fight for
him--at Stoke Field it seems that a large part of Henry's army
misbehaved, much as that of Richard III. had done at Bosworth. The
demoralization brought about by the evil years between 1453 and 1483
could not be lived down in a day--any sort of treason was possible to
the generation that had seen the career of Warwick and the usurpation of
Gloucester. The survivors of that time were capable of taking arms for
any cause that offered a chance of unreasonable profit, and no one's
loyalty could be trusted. Did not Sir William Stanley, the best paid of
those who betrayed Richard III., afterwards lose his head for a
deliberate plot to betray Henry VII.? The various attempts that were
made to overturn the new dynasty seem contemptible to the historian of
the 20th century. They were not so contemptible at the time, because
England and Ireland were full of adventurers who were ready to back any
cause, and who looked on the king of the moment as no more than a
successful member of their own class--a base-born Welshman who had been
lucky enough to become the figurehead of the movement that had
overturned an unpopular usurper. The organizing spirits of the early
troubles of the reign of Henry VII. were irreconcilable Yorkists who had
suffered by the change of dynasty; but their hopes of success rested
less on their own strength than on the not ill-founded notion that
England would tire of any ruler who had to raise taxes and reward his
partisans. The position bore a curious resemblance to that of the early
years of Henry IV., a king who, like Henry VII., had to vindicate a
doubtful elective title to the throne by miracles of cunning and
activity. The later representative of the house of Lancaster was
fortunate, however, in having less formidable enemies than the earlier;
the power of the baronage had been shaken by the Wars of the Roses no
less than the power of the crown; so many old estates had passed rapidly
from hand to hand, so many old titles were represented by upstarts
destitute of local influence, that the feudal danger had become far
less. Risings like that of the Percies in 1403 were not the things which
the seventh Henry had to fear. He was lucky too in having no adversary
of genius of the type of Owen Glendower. Welsh national spirit indeed
was enlisted on his own side. Yet leaderless seditions and the plots of
obvious impostors sufficed to make his throne tremble, and a ruler less
resolute, less wary, and less unscrupulous might have been overthrown.

  Lambert Simnel.

The first of the king's troubles was an abortive rising in the north
riding of Yorkshire, the only district where Richard III. seems to have
enjoyed personal popularity. It was led by Lord Lovel, Richard's
chamberlain and admiral; but the insurgents dispersed when Henry marched
against them with a large force (1486), and Lovel took refuge in
Flanders with Margaret of York, the widow of Charles the Bold of
Burgundy, whose dower towns were the refuge of all English exiles, and
whose coffers were always open to subsidize plots against her niece's
husband. Under the auspices of this rancorous princess the second
conspiracy was hatched in the following year (1487). Its leaders were
Lovel and John, earl of Lincoln, whom Richard III. had designated as his
heir. But the Yorkist banner was to be raised, not in the name of
Lincoln, but in that of the boy Edward of Clarence, then a prisoner in
the Tower. His absence and captivity might seem a fatal hindrance, but
the conspirators had prepared a "double" who was to take his name till
he could be released. This was a lad named Lambert Simnel, the son of an
Oxford organ-maker, who bore a personal resemblance to the young
captive. The conspirators seem to have argued that Henry VII. would not
proceed to murder the real Edward, but would rather exhibit him to prove
the imposition; if he took the more drastic alternative Lincoln could
fall back on his own claim to the crown.

  Battle of Stoke.

In May 1487 Lincoln and Lovel landed in Ireland accompanied by other
exiles and 2000 German mercenaries. The cause of York was popular in the
Pale, and the Anglo-Irish barons seem to have conceived the notion that
Henry VII. was likely to prove too strong and capable a king to suit
their convenience. The invading army was welcomed by almost all the
lords, and the spurious Clarence was crowned at Dublin by the name of
Edward VI. A few weeks later Lincoln had recruited his army with 4000 or
5000 Irish adventurers under Thomas Fitzgerald, son of the earl of
Kildare, and had taken ship for England. He landed in Lancashire, and
pushed forward, hoping to gather the English Yorkists to his aid. But
few had joined him when King Henry brought him to action at Stoke, near
Newark, on the 17th of July. Despite the doubtful conduct of part of the
royal army, and the fierce resistance of the Germans and Irish, the
rebel army was routed. Lincoln and Fitzgerald were slain; Lovel
disappeared in the rout; the young impostor Simnel was taken prisoner.
Henry treated him with politic contempt, and made him a cook boy in his
kitchen. He lived for many years after in the royal household. The Irish
lords were pardoned on renewing their oaths of fealty; the king did not
wish to entangle himself in costly campaigns beyond St George's Channel
till he had made his position in England more stable.

  Foreign alliances.

  Treaty of Étaples.

The Yorkist cause was crushed for four years, till it was raised again
by Margaret of Burgundy, with an imposture even more preposterous than
that of Lambert Simnel. In the intervening space, however, while Henry
VII. was comparatively undisturbed by domestic rebellion, he found
opportunity for a first tentative experiment at interfering in European
politics. He allied himself with Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain and
with Maximilian of Austria, who was ruling the Netherlands in behalf of
his young son, Philip, the heir of the Burgundian inheritance, for the
purpose of preventing France from annexing Brittany, the last great fief
of the crown which had not yet been absorbed into the Valois royal
domain. This struggle, the only continental war in which the first of
the Tudors risked his fortunes, was not prosecuted with any great
energy, and came to a necessary end when Anne, duchess of Brittany, in
whose behalf it was being waged, disappointed her allies by marrying
Charles VIII. of her own free will (Dec. 1491). Henry very wisely
proceeded to get out of the war on the best terms possible, and, to the
disgust of Maximilian, sold peace to the French king for 600,000 crowns,
as well as an additional sum representing arrears of the pension which
Louis XI. had been bound to pay to Edward IV. This treaty of Étaples
was, in short, a repetition of Edward's treaty of Picquigny, equally
profitable and less disgraceful, for Maximilian of Austria, whom Henry
thus abandoned, had given more cause of offence than had Charles of
Burgundy in 1475. Domestic malcontents did not scruple to hint that the
king, like his father-in-law before him, had made war on France, not
with any hope of renewing the glories of Creçy or Agincourt, still less
with any design of helping his allies, but purely to get first grants
from his parliament, and then a war indemnity from his enemies. In any
case he was wise to make peace. France was now too strong for England,
and both Maximilian and Ferdinand of Spain were selfish and shifty
allies. Moreover, it was known that the one dominating desire of Charles
VIII. was to conquer Italy, and it was clear that his ambitions in that
direction were not likely to prove dangerous to England.

  Yorkist plots. Perkin Warbeck.

  Cornish rebellion.

In the year of the treaty of Étaples the Yorkist conspiracies began once
more to thicken, and Henry was fortunate to escape with profit from the
French war before his domestic troubles recommenced. Ever since 1483 it
had been rumoured that one or both of the sons of Edward IV. had
escaped, not having been murdered in the Tower. Of this widespread
belief the plotters now took advantage; they held that much more could
be accomplished with such a claim than by using that of the unfortunate
Edward of Clarence, whose chances were so severely handicapped by his
being still the prisoner of Henry VII. The scheme for producing a false
Plantagenet was first renewed in Ireland, where Simnel's imposture had
been so easily taken up a few years before. The tool selected was one
Perkin Warbeck, a handsome youth of seventeen or eighteen, the son of a
citizen of Tournai, who had lived for some time in London, where Perkin
had actually been born. There is a bare possibility that the young
adventurer may have been an illegitimate son of Edward IV.; his likeness
to the late king was much noticed. When he declared himself to be
Richard of York, he obtained some support in Ireland from the earl of
Desmond and other lords; but he did not risk open rebellion till he had
visited Flanders, and had been acknowledged as her undoubted nephew by
Duchess Margaret. Maximilian of Austria also took up his cause, as a
happy means of revenging himself on Henry VII. for the treaty of
Étaples. There can be small doubt that both the duchess and the German
King (Maximilian had succeeded to his father's crown in 1493) were
perfectly well aware that they were aiding a manifest fraud. But they
made much of Perkin, who followed the imperial court for two years,
while his patron was intriguing with English malcontents. The emissaries
from Flanders got many promises of assistance, and a formidable rising
might have taken place had not Henry VII. been well served by his
spies. But in the winter of 1494-1495 the traitors were themselves
betrayed, and a large number of arrests were made, including not only
Lord Fitzwalter and a number of well-known knights of Yorkist families,
but Sir William Stanley, the king's chamberlain, who had been rewarded
with enormous gifts for his good service at Bosworth, and was reckoned
one of the chief supports of the throne. Stanley and several others were
beheaded, the rest hanged or imprisoned. This vigorous action on the
part of the king seems to have cowed all Warbeck's supporters on English
soil. But the pretender nevertheless sailed from Flanders in July 1495
with a following of 2000 exiles and German mercenaries. He attempted to
land at Deal, but his vanguard was destroyed by Kentish levies, and he
drew off and made for Ireland. Suspecting that this would be his goal,
King Henry had been doing his best to strengthen his hold on the Pale,
whither he had sent his capable servant Sir Edward Poynings as lord
deputy. Already before Warbeck's arrival Poynings had arrested the earl
of Kildare, Simnel's old supporter, cowed some of the Irish by military
force, and bought over others by promises of subsidies and pensions. But
his best-remembered achievement was that he had induced the Irish
parliament to pass the ordinances known as "Poynings' Law," by which it
acknowledged that it could pass no legislation which had not been
approved by the king and his council, and agreed that all statutes
passed by the English parliament should be in force in Ireland. That
such terms could be imposed shows the strength of Poynings' arm, and his
vigour was equally evident when Warbeck came ashore in Munster in July
1495. Few joined the impostor save the earl of Desmond, and he was
repulsed from Waterford, and dared not face the army which the lord
deputy put into the field against him. Thereupon, abandoning his Irish
schemes, Warbeck sailed to Scotland, whose young king James IV. had just
been seduced by the emperor Maximilian into declaring war on England. He
promised the Scottish king Berwick and 50,000 crowns in return for the
aid of an army. James took the offer, gave him the hand of his kinswoman
Catherine Gordon, daughter of the earl of Huntly, and took him forth for
a raid into Northumberland (1496). But a pretender backed by Scottish
spears did not appeal to the sympathies of the English borderers. The
expedition fell flat; not a man joined the banner of the white rose, and
James became aware that he had set forth on a fool's errand. But Warbeck
soon found other allies of a most unexpected sort. The heavy taxation
granted by the English parliament for the Scottish war had provoked
discontent and rioting in the south-western counties. In Cornwall
especially the disorders grew to such a pitch that local demagogues
called out several thousand men to resist the tax-collectors, and
finally raised open rebellion, proposing to march on London and compel
the king to dismiss his ministers. These spiritual heirs of Jack Cade
were Flammock, a lawyer of Bodmin, and a farrier named Michael Joseph.
Whether they had any communication with Warbeck it is impossible to say;
there is no proof of such a connexion, but their acts served him well. A
Cornish army marched straight on London, picking up some supporters in
Devon and Somerset on their way, including a discontented baron, Lord
Audley, whom they made their captain.

  Battle of Blackheath.

  Execution of Warbeck and Edward of Clarence.

So precarious was the hold of Henry VII. on the throne that he was in
great danger from this outbreak of mere local turbulence. The rebels
swept over five counties unopposed, and were only stopped and beaten in
a hard fight on Blackheath, when they had reached the gates of London.
Audley, the farrier and the lawyer were all captured and executed (June
18, 1497). But the crisis was not yet at an end. Warbeck, hearing of the
rising, but not of its suppression, had left Scotland, and appeared in
Devonshire in August. He rallied the wrecks of the west country rebels,
and presently appeared before the gates of Exeter with nearly 8000 men.
But the citizens held out against him, and presently the approach of the
royal army was reported. The pretender led off his horde to meet the
relieving force, but when he reached Taunton he found that his
followers were so dispirited that disaster was certain. Thereupon he
absconded by night, and took sanctuary in the abbey of Beaulieu. He
offered to confess his imposture if he were promised his life, and the
king accepted the terms. First at Taunton and again at Westminster,
Perkin publicly recited a long narrative of his real parentage, his
frauds and his adventures. He was then consigned to not over strict
confinement in the Tower, and might have fared no worse than Lambert
Simnel if he had possessed his soul in patience. But in the next year he
corrupted his warders, broke out from his prison, and tried to escape
beyond seas. He was captured, but the king again spared his life, though
he was placed for the future in a dungeon "where he could see neither
moon nor sun." Even this did not tame the impostor's mercurial
temperament. In 1499 he again planned an escape, which was to be shared
by another prisoner, the unfortunate Edward of Clarence, earl of
Warwick, whose cell was in the storey above his own. But there were
traitors among the Tower officials whom they suborned to help them, and
the king was warned of the plot. He allowed it to proceed to the verge
of execution, and then arrested both the false and the true Plantagenet.
Evidence of a suspicious character was produced to show that they had
planned rebellion as well as mere escape, and both were put to death
with some of their accomplices. Warbeck deserved all that he reaped, but
the unlucky Clarence's fate estranged many hearts from the king. The
simple and weakly young man, who had spent fifteen of his twenty-five
years in confinement, had, in all probability, done no more than scheme
for an escape from his dungeon. But as the true male heir of the house
of Plantagenet he was too dangerous to be allowed to survive.

  Establishment of the Tudor dynasty.

The turbulent portion of the reign of Henry VII. came to an end with
Blackheath Field and the siege of Exeter. From that time forward the
Tudor dynasty was no longer in serious danger; there were still some
abortive plots, but none that had any prospect of winning popular
support. The chances of Warbeck and Clarence had vanished long before
they went to the scaffold. The Yorkist claim, after Clarence's death,
might be supposed to have passed to his cousin Edmund, earl of Suffolk,
the younger brother of that John, earl of Lincoln, who had been declared
heir to the crown by Richard III., and had fallen at Stoke field. Fully
conscious of the danger of his position, Suffolk fled to the continent,
and lived for many years as a pensioner of the emperor Maximilian.
Apparently he dabbled in treason; it is at any rate certain that in 1501
King Henry executed some, and imprisoned others, of his relatives and
retainers. But his plots, such as they were, seem to have been futile.
There was no substratum of popular discontent left in England on which a
dangerous insurrection might be built up. It was to be forty years
before another outbreak of turbulence against the crown was to break


  Commercial treaties.

The last twelve years of the reign of Henry VII. present in most
respects a complete contrast to the earlier period, 1485-1497. There
were no more rebellions, and--as we have already seen--no more plots
that caused any serious danger. Nor did the king indulge his unruly
subjects in foreign wars, though he was constantly engaged in
negotiations with France, Scotland, Spain and the emperor, which from
time to time took awkward turns. But Henry was determined to win all
that he could by diplomacy, and not by force of arms. His cautious, but
often unscrupulous, dealings with the rival continental powers had two
main ends: the first was to keep his own position safe by playing off
France against the Empire and Spain; the second was to get commercial
advantages by dangling his alliance before each power in turn. Flanders
was still the greatest customer of England, and it was therefore
necessary above all things to keep on good terms with the archduke
Philip, the son of Maximilian, who on coming of age had taken over the
rule of the Netherlands from his father. The king's great triumphs were
the conclusion of the _Intercursus Magnus_ of 1496 and the _Intercursus
Malus_ (so called by the Flemings, not by the English) of 1506. The
former provided for a renewal of the old commercial alliance with the
house of Burgundy, on the same terms under which it had existed in the
time of Edward IV.; the rupture which had taken place during the years
when Maximilian was backing Perkin Warbeck had been equally injurious to
both parties. The _Malus Intercursus_ on the other hand gave England
some privileges which she had not before enjoyed--exemption from local
tolls in Antwerp and Holland, and a licence for English merchants to
sell cloth retail as well as wholesale--a concession which hit the
Netherland small traders and middlemen very hard. Another great
commercial advantage secured by Henry VII. for his subjects was an
increased share of the trade to the Scandinavian countries. The old
treaties of Edward IV. with the Hanseatic League had left the Germans
still in control of the northern seas. Nearly all the Baltic goods, and
most of those from Denmark and Norway, had been reaching London or Hull
in foreign bottoms. Henry allied himself with John of Denmark, who was
chafing under the monopoly of the Hansa, and obtained the most ample
grants of free trade in his realms. The Germans murmured, but the
English shipping in eastern and northern waters continued to multiply.
Much the same policy was pursued in the Mediterranean. Southern goods
hitherto had come to Southampton or Sandwich invariably in Venetian
carracks, which took back in return English wool and metals. Henry
concluded a treaty with Florence, by which that republic undertook to
receive his ships in its harbours and to allow them to purchase all
eastern goods that they might require. From this time forward the
Venetian monopoly ceased, and the visits of English merchant vessels to
the Mediterranean became frequent and regular.

  English navigators.

Nor was it in dealing with old lines of trade alone that Henry Tudor
showed himself the watchful guardian of the interests of his subjects.
He must take his share of credit for the encouragement of the
exploration of the seas of the Far West. The British traders had already
pushed far into the Atlantic before Columbus discovered America; fired
by the success of the great navigator they continued their adventures,
hoping like him to discover a short "north-west passage" to Cathay and
Japan. With a charter from the king giving him leave to set up the
English banner on all the lands he might discover, the Bristol Genoese
trader John Cabot successfully passed the great sea in 1497, and
discovered Newfoundland and its rich fishing stations. Henry rewarded
him with a pension of £20 a year, and encouraged him to further
exploration, in which he discovered all the American coastline from
Labrador to the mouth of the Delaware--a great heritage for England, but
one not destined to be taken up for colonization till more than a
century had passed.

  Foreign policy of Henry VII.

Henry's services to English commerce were undoubtedly of far more
importance to the nation than all the tortuous details of his foreign
policy. His chicanery need not, however, be censured over much, for the
princes with whom he had to deal, and notably Ferdinand and Maximilian,
were as insincere and selfish as himself. Few diplomatic hagglings have
been so long and so sordid as that between England and Spain over the
marriage treaty which gave the hand of Catherine of Aragon first to
Henry's eldest son Arthur, and then, on his premature death in 1502, to
his second son Henry. The English king no doubt imagined that he had
secured a good bargain, as he had kept the princess's dowry, and yet
never gave Ferdinand any practical assistance in war or peace. It is
interesting to find that he had for some time at the end of his reign a
second Spanish marriage in view; his wife Elizabeth of York having died
in 1503, he seriously proposed himself as a suitor for Joanna of
Castile, the elder sister of Catherine, and the widow of the archduke
Philip, though she was known to be insane. Apparently he hoped thereby
to gain vantage ground for an interference in Spanish politics, which
would have been most offensive to Ferdinand. Nothing came of the
project, which contrasts strangely with the greater part of Henry's
sober and cautious schemes.

  Marriage of James IV. of Scotland and Margaret Tudor.

On the other hand a third project of marriage alliance which Henry
carried out in 1503 was destined to be consummated, and to have
momentous, though long-deferred, results. This was the giving of the
hand of his daughter Margaret to James IV. of Scotland. Thereby he
bought quiet on the Border and alliance with Scotland for no more than
some ten years. But--as it chanced--the issue of this alliance was
destined to unite the English and the Scottish crowns, when the male
line of the Tudors died out, and Henry, quite unintentionally, had his
share in bringing about the consummation, by peaceful means, of that end
which Edward I. had sought for so long to win by the strong hand.

  Character of Henry's internal rule.

All the foreign politics of the reign of Henry VII. have small
importance compared with his work within the realm. The true monument of
his ability was that he left England tamed and orderly, with an obedient
people and a full exchequer, though he had taken it over wellnigh in a
state of anarchy. The mere suppression of insurrections like those of
Simnel and Warbeck was a small part of his task. The harder part was to
recreate a spirit of order and subordination among a nation accustomed
to long civil strife. His instruments were ministers of ability chosen
from the clergy and the gentry--he seems to have been equally averse to
trusting the baronage at the one end of the social scale, or mere
upstarts at the other, and it is notable that no one during his reign
can be called a court favourite. The best-known names among his servants
were his great chancellor, Archbishop Morton, Foxe, bishop of
Winchester, Sir Reginald Bray, and the lawyers Empson and Dudley. These
two last bore the brunt of the unpopularity of the financial policy of
the king during the latter half of his reign, when the vice of avarice
seems to have grown upon him beyond all reason. But Henry was such a
hard-working monarch, and so familiar with all the details of
administration, that his ministers cannot be said to have had any
independent authority, or to have directed their master's course of

  The Star Chamber.

The machinery employed by the first of the Tudors for the suppression of
domestic disorder is well known. The most important item added by him to
the administrative machinery of the realm was the famous Star Chamber,
which was licensed by the parliament of 1487. It consisted of a small
committee of ministers, privy councillors and judges, which sat to deal
with offences that seemed to lie outside the scope of the common law, or
more frequently with the misdoings of men who were so powerful that the
local courts could not be trusted to execute justice upon them, such as
great landowners, sheriffs and other royal officials, or turbulent
individuals who were the terror of their native districts. The need for
a strong central court directly inspired by the king, which could
administer justice without respect of persons, was so great, that the
constitutional danger of establishing an autocratic judicial committee,
untrammelled by the ordinary rules of law, escaped notice at the time.
It was not till much later that the nation came to look upon the Star
Chamber as the special engine of royal tyranny and to loathe its name.
In 1500 it was for the common profit of the realm that there should
exist such a court, which could reduce even the most powerful offender
to order.

  Suppression of livery and maintenance.

One of the most notable parts of the king's policy was his
long-continued and successful assault on the abuse of "livery and
maintenance," which had been at its height during the Wars of the Roses.
We have seen the part which it had taken in strengthening the influence
of those who were already too powerful, and weakening the ordinary
operation of the law. Henry put it down with a strong hand, forbidding
all liveries entirely, save for the mere domestic retainers of each
magnate. His determination to end the system was well shown by the fact
that he heavily fined even the earl of Oxford, the companion of his
exile, the victor of Bosworth, and the most notoriously loyal peer in
the realm, for an ostentatious violation of the statute. Where Oxford
was punished, no less favoured person could hope to escape. By the end
of the reign the little hosts of badged adherents which had formed the
nucleus for the armies of the Wars of the Roses had ceased to exist.

  Personal rule.

Edward IV., as has been already remarked, had many of the opportunities
of the autocrat, if only he had cared to use them; but his sloth and
self-indulgence stood in the way. Henry VII., the most laborious and
systematic of men, turned them to account. He formed his personal
opinion on every problem of administration and intervened himself in
every detail. In many respects he was his own prime minister, and
nothing was done without his knowledge and consent. A consistent policy
may be detected in all his acts--that of gathering all the machinery of
government into his own hands. Under the later Plantagenets and the
Lancastrian kings the great check on the power of the crown had been
that financial difficulties were continually compelling the sovereign to
summon parliaments. The estates had interfered perpetually in all the
details of governance, by means of the power of the purse. Edward IV.,
first among English sovereigns, had been able to dispense with
parliaments for periods of many years, because he did not need their
grants save at long intervals. Henry was in the same position; by strict
economy, by the use of foreign subsidies, by the automatic growth of his
revenues during a time of peace and returning prosperity, by
confiscation and forfeitures, he built himself up a financial position
which rendered it unnecessary for him to make frequent appeals to
parliament. Not the least fertile of his expedients was that regular
exploitation of the law as a source of revenue, which had already been
seen in the time of his father-in-law. This part of Henry's policy is
connected with the name of his two extortionate "fiscal judges" Empson
and Dudley, who "turned law and justice into rapine" by their minute
inquisition into all technical breaches of legality, and the nice
fashion in which they adapted the fine to the wealth of the
misdemeanant, without any reference to his moral guilt or any regard for
extenuating circumstances. The king must take the responsibility for
their unjust doings; it was his coffers which mainly profited by their
chicane. In his later years he fell into the vice of hoarding money for
its own sake; so necessary was it to his policy that he should be free,
as far as possible, from the need for applying to parliament for money,
that he became morbidly anxious to have great hoards in readiness for
any possible day of financial stress. At his death he is said to have
had £1,800,000 in hard cash laid by. Hence it is not strange to find
that he was able to dispense with parliaments in a fashion that would
have seemed incredible to a 14th-century king. In his whole reign he
only asked them five times for grants of taxation, and three of the five
requests were made during the first seven years of his reign. In the
eyes of many men parliament lost the main reason for its existence when
it ceased to be the habitual provider of funds for the ordinary expenses
of the realm. Those who had a better conception of its proper functions
could see that it had at any rate been stripped of its chief power when
the king no longer required its subsidies. There are traces of a want of
public interest in its proceedings, very different from the anxiety with
which they used to be followed in Plantagenet and Lancastrian times.
Legislation, which only incidentally affects him, is very much less
exciting to the ordinary citizen than taxation, which aims directly at
his pocket. It is at any rate clear that during the latter years of his
reign, when the time of impostures and rebellions had ended, Henry was
able to dispense with parliaments to a great extent, and incurred no
unpopularity by doing so. Indeed he was accepted by the English people
as the benefactor who had delivered them from anarchy; and if they
murmured at his love of hoarding, and cursed his inquisitors Empson and
Dudley, they had no wish to change the Tudor rule, and were far from
regarding the times of the "Lancastrian experiment" as a lost golden
age. The present king might be unscrupulous and avaricious, but he was
cautious, intelligent and economical; no one would have wished to
recall the régime of that "crowned saint" Henry VI.

  Henry VIII.

Nevertheless when the first of the Tudors died, on the 21st of April
1509, there were few who regretted him. He was not a monarch to rouse
enthusiasm, while much was expected from his brilliant, clever and
handsome son Henry VIII., whose magnificent presence and manly vigour
recalled the early prime of Edward IV. Some years later England realized
that its new king had inherited not only the physical beauty and
strength of his grandfather, but also every one of his faults, with the
sole exception of his tendency to sloth. Henry VIII. indeed may be said,
to sum up his character in brief, to have combined his father's brains
with his grandfather's passions. Edward IV. was selfish and cruel, but
failed to become a tyrant because he lacked the energy for continuous
work. Henry VII. was unscrupulous and untiring, but so cautious and wary
that he avoided violent action and dangerous risks. Their descendant had
neither Edward's sloth nor Henry's moderation; he was capable of going
to almost any lengths in pursuit of the gratification of his ambition,
his passions, his resentment or his simple love of self-assertion. Yet,
however far he might go on the road to tyranny, Henry had sufficient
cunning, versatility and power of cool reflection, to know precisely
when he had reached the edge of the impossible. He had his father's
faculty for gauging public opinion, and estimating dangers, and though
his more venturous temperament led him to press on far beyond the point
at which the seventh Henry would have halted, he always stopped short on
the hither side of the gulf. It was the most marvellous proof of his
ability that he died on his throne after nearly forty years of
autocratic rule, during which he had roused more enmities and done more
to change the face of the realm than any of the kings that were before

But it was long before the nation could estimate all the features of the
magnificent but sinister figure which was to dominate England from 1509
to 1547. At his accession Henry VIII. was only eighteen years of age,
and, if his character was already formed, it was only the attractive
side of it that was yet visible. His personal beauty, his keen
intelligence, his scholarship, his love of music and the arts, his
kingly ambition, were all obvious enough. His selfishness, his cruelty,
his ingratitude, his fierce hatred of criticism and opposition, his
sensuality, had yet to be discovered by his subjects. A suspicious
observer might have detected something ominous in the first act of his
reign--the arrest and attainder of his father's unpopular ministers,
Empson and Dudley, whose heads he flung to the people in order to win a
moment's applause. Whatever their faults, they had served the house of
Tudor well, and it was a grotesque perversion of justice to send them to
the scaffold on a charge of high treason. A similar piece of cruelty was
the execution, some time later, of the earl of Suffolk, who had been
languishing long years in the Tower; he was destroyed not for any new
plots, but simply for his Yorkist descent. But in Henry's earlier years
such acts were still unusual; it was not till he had grown older, and
had learnt how much the nation would endure, that judicial murder became
part of his established policy.

  Continental projects of Henry VIII.

  Treaty of Étaples.

Henry's first outburst of self-assertion took the form of reversing his
father's thrifty and peaceful policy, by plunging into the midst of the
continental wars from which England had been held back by his cautious
parent. The adventure was wholly unnecessary, and also unprofitable. But
while France was engaged in the "Holy War" against the pope, Venice, the
emperor, and Ferdinand of Spain, Henry renewed the old claims of the
Plantagenets, and hoped, if not to win back the position of Edward III.,
at least to recover the duchy of Aquitaine, or some parts of it. He lent
an army to Ferdinand for the invasion of Gascony, and landed himself at
Calais with 25,000 men, to beat up the northern border of France. Little
good came of his efforts. The Spanish king gave no assistance, and the
northern campaign, though it included the brilliant battle of the Spurs
(August 16th, 1513), accomplished nothing more than the capture of
Tournai and Thérouanne. It was soon borne in upon King Henry that
France, even when engaged with other enemies, was too strong to be
overrun in the old style. Moreover, his allies were giving him no aid,
though they had eagerly accepted his great subsidies. With a sudden
revulsion of feeling Henry offered peace to France, which King Louis
XII. gladly bought, agreeing to renew the old pension or tribute that
Henry VII. had received by the treaty of Étaples. Their reconciliation
and alliance were sealed by the marriage of the French king to Henry's
favourite sister Mary, who was the bridegroom's junior by more than
thirty years. Their wedlock and the Anglo-French alliance lasted only
till the next year, when Louis died, and Mary secretly espoused an old
admirer, Charles Brandon, afterwards duke of Suffolk, King Henry's
greatest friend and confidant.

  War with Scotland. Battle of Flodden.

While the French war was still in progress there had been heavy fighting
on the Scottish border. James IV., reverting to the traditionary policy
of his ancestors, had taken the opportunity of attacking England while
her king and his army were overseas. He suffered a disaster which
recalls that of David II. at Neville's Cross--a fight which had taken
place under precisely similar political conditions. After taking a few
Northumbrian castles, James was brought to action at Flodden Field by
the earl of Surrey (September 9th, 1513). After a desperate fight
lasting the greater part of a day, the Scots were outmanoeuvred and
surrounded. James IV.--who had refused to quit the field--was slain in
the forefront of the battle, with the greater part of his nobles; with
him fell also some 10,000 or 12,000 of his men. Scotland, with her
military power brought low, and an infant king on the throne, was a
negligible quantity in international politics for some years. The queen
dowager, Margaret Tudor, aided by a party that favoured peace and
alliance with England, was strong enough to balance the faction under
the duke of Albany which wished for perpetual war and asked for aid from

  Thomas Wolsey.

With the peace of 1514 ended the first period of King Henry's reign. He
was now no longer a boy, but a man of twenty-three, with his character
fully developed; he had gradually got rid of his father's old
councillors, and had chosen for himself a minister as ambitious and
energetic as himself, the celebrated Thomas Wolsey, whom he had just
made archbishop of York, and who obtained the rank of cardinal from the
pope in the succeeding year. Wolsey was the last of the great clerical
ministers of the middle ages, and by no means the worst. Like so many of
his predecessors he had risen from the lower middle classes, through the
royal road of the church; he had served Henry VII.'s old councillor
Foxe, bishop of Winchester, as secretary, and from his household had
passed into that of his master. He had been an admirable servant to
both, full of zeal, intelligence and energy, and not too much burdened
with scruples. The young king found in him an instrument well fitted to
his hand, a man fearless, ingenious, and devoted to the furtherance of
the power of the crown, by which alone he had reached his present
position of authority. For fourteen years he was his master's chief
minister--the person responsible in the nation's eyes for all the more
unpopular assertions of the royal prerogative, and for all the heavy
taxation and despotic acts which Henry's policy required. It mattered
little to Henry that the cardinal was arrogant, tactless and
ostentatious; indeed it suited his purpose that Wolsey should be saddled
by public opinion with all the blame that ought to have been laid on his
own shoulders. It was convenient that the old nobility should detest the
upstart, and that the commons should imagine him to be the person
responsible for the demands for money required for the royal wars. As
long as his minister served his purposes and could execute his behests
Henry gave him a free hand, and supported him against all his enemies.
It was believed at the time, and is still sometimes maintained by
historians, that Wolsey laid down schemes of policy and persuaded his
master to adopt them; but the truth would appear to be that Henry was in
no wise dominated by the cardinal, but imposed on him his own wishes,
merely leaving matters of detail to be settled by his minister. Things
indifferent might be trusted to him, but the main lines of English
diplomacy and foreign policy show rather the influence of the king's
personal desires of the moment than that of a statesman seeking national

It has often been alleged that Henry, under the guidance of Wolsey,
followed a consistent scheme for aggrandizing England, by making her the
state which kept the balance of power of Europe in her hands. And it is
pointed out that during the years of the cardinal's ascendancy the
alliance of England was sought in turn by the great princes of the
continent, and proved the make-weight in the scales. This is but a
superficial view of the situation. Henry, if much courted, was much
deceived by his contemporaries. They borrowed his money and his armies,
but fed him with vain promises and illusory treaties. He and his
minister were alternately gulled by France and by the emperor, and the
net result of all their activity was bankruptcy and discontent at home
and ever-frustrated hopes abroad. It is hard to build up a reputation
for statecraft for either Henry or Wolsey on the sum total of English
political achievement during their collaboration.

  Henry VIII. and the rivalry of Francis I. and Charles V.

  Failure of Henry's diplomacy.

During the first few years of the cardinal's ascendancy the elder race
of European sovereigns, the kings with whom Henry VII. had been wont to
haggle, disappeared one after the other. Louis of France died in 1515,
Ferdinand of Aragon in 1516, the emperor Maximilian--the last survivor
of his generation--in 1519. Louis was succeeded by the active, warlike
and shifty Francis I.; the heritage of both Ferdinand and
Maximilian--his maternal and paternal grandfathers--fell to Charles of
Habsburg, who already possessed the Netherlands in his father's right
and Castile in that of his mother. The enmity of the house of Valois and
the house of Habsburg, which had first appeared in the wars of Charles
VIII. and Maximilian, took a far more bitter shape under Francis I. and
Charles V., two young princes who were rivals from their youth. Their
wars were almost perpetual, their peaces never honestly carried out.
Their powers were very equally balanced; if Charles owned broader lands
than Francis, they were more scattered and in some cases less loyal. The
solid and wealthy realm of France proved able to make head against Spain
and the Netherlands, even when they were backed by the emperor's German
vassals. Charles was also distracted by many stabs in the back from the
Ottoman Turks, who were just beginning their attack on Christendom along
the line of the Danube. To each of the combatants it seemed that the
English alliance would turn the scale in his own favour. Henry was much
courted, and wooed with promises of lands to be won from the other side
by his ally of the moment. But neither Charles nor Francis wished him to
be a real gainer, and he himself was a most untrustworthy friend, for he
was quite ready to turn against his ally if he seemed to be growing too
powerful, and threatened to dominate all Europe; the complete success of
either party would mean that England would sink once more into a
second-rate power. How faithless and insincere was Henry's policy may be
gauged from the fact that in 1520, after all the pageantry of the "Field
of the Cloth of Gold" and his vows of undying friendship for Francis, he
met Charles a few weeks later at Gravelines, and concluded with him a
treaty which pledged England to a defensive alliance against the king's
"good brother" of France. Such things happened not once nor twice during
the years of Wolsey's ministry. It was hardly to be wondered at,
therefore, if Henry's allies regularly endeavoured to cheat him out of
his share of their joint profits. What use was there in rewarding a
friend who might become an enemy to-morrow? The greatest deception of
all was in 1522, when Charles V., who had made the extraordinary promise
that he would get Wolsey made pope, and lend Henry an army to conquer
northern France, failed to redeem his word in both respects. He caused
his own old tutor, Adrian of Utrecht, to be crowned with the papal
tiara, and left the English to invade Picardy entirely unassisted. But
this was only one of many such disappointments.

  Beginnings of parliamentary resistance.

  Execution of the duke of Buckingham.

The result of some twelve years of abortive alliances and ill-kept
treaties was that Henry had obtained no single one of the advantages
which he had coveted, and that he had lavished untold wealth and many
English lives upon phantom schemes which crumbled between his fingers.
His subjects had already begun to murmur; the early parliaments of his
reign had been passive and complaisant; but by 1523 the Commons had been
goaded into resistance. They granted only half the subsidies asked from
them, pleading that three summers more of such taxation as the cardinal
demanded for his master would leave the realm drained of its last penny,
and reduced to fall back on primitive forms of barter, "clothes for
victuals and bread for cheese," out of mere want of coin. Fortunately
for the king his subjects laid all the blame upon his mouthpiece the
cardinal, instead of placing it where it was due. On Wolsey's back also
was saddled the most iniquitous of Henry's acts of tyranny against
individuals--the judicial murder of the duke of Buckingham, the highest
head among the English nobility. For some hasty words, amplified by the
doubtful evidence of treacherous retainers, together with a foolish
charge of dabbling with astrologers, the heir of the royal line of
Thomas of Woodstock had been tried and executed with scandalous haste.
His only real crime was that, commenting on the lack of male heirs to
the crown--for after many years of wedlock with Catherine of Aragon
Henry's sole issue was one sickly daughter--he had been foolish enough
to remark that if anything should happen to the king he himself was
close in succession to the crown. The cardinal bore the blame, because
he and Buckingham had notoriously disliked each other; but the deed had
really been of the king's own contriving. He was roused to implacable
wrath by anyone who dared to speak on the forbidden topic of the
succession question.

  Question of the king's divorce.

In the later years of Wolsey's ascendancy, nevertheless, that same
question was the subject of many anxious thoughts. From Henry's own mind
it was never long absent; he yearned for a male heir, and he was growing
tired of his wife Catherine, who was some years older than himself, had
few personal attractions, and was growing somewhat of an invalid.
Somewhere about the end of 1526 those who were in the king's intimate
confidence began to be aware that he was meditating a divorce--a thing
not lightly to be taken in hand, for the queen was the aunt of the
emperor Charles V., who would be vastly offended at such a proposal. But
Henry's doubts had been marvellously stimulated by the fact that he had
become enamoured of another lady--the beautiful, ambitious and cunning
Anne Boleyn, a niece of the duke of Norfolk, who had no intention of
becoming merely the king's mistress, but aspired to be his consort.

  England and the Reformation.

The question of the king's divorce soon became inextricably confused
with another problem, whose first beginnings go back to a slightly
earlier date. What was to be the attitude of England towards the
Reformation? It was now nearly ten years since Martin Luther had posted
up his famous theses on the church door at Wittenberg, and since he had
testified to his faith before the diet of Worms. All Germany was now
convulsed with the first throes of the revolt against the papacy, and
the echoes of the new theological disputes were being heard in England.
King Henry himself in 1521 had deigned to write an abusive pamphlet
against Luther, for which he had been awarded the magnificent title of
_Fidei Defensor_ by that cultured sceptic Pope Leo X. About the same
time we begin to read of orders issued by the bishops for the discovery
and burning of all Lutheran books--a clear sign that they were reaching
England in appreciable quantities. Hitherto it had been only the works
of Wycliffe that had merited this attention on the part of inquisitors.
In the Wycliffite remnant, often persecuted but never exterminated,
there already existed in England the nucleus of a Protestant party. All
through the reign of Henry VII. and the early years of Henry VIII. the
intermittent burning of "heretics," and their far more frequent
recantations, had borne witness to the fact that the sect still
lingered on. The Wycliffites were a feeble folk, compelled to
subterraneous ways, and destitute of learned leaders or powerful
supporters. But they survived to see Luther's day, and to merge
themselves in one body with the first English travelling scholars and
merchants who brought back from the continent the doctrines of the
German Reformation. The origins of a Protestant party, who were not mere
Wycliffites, but had been first interested in dogmatic controversy by
coming upon the works of Luther, can be traced back to the year 1521 and
to the university of Cambridge. There a knot of scholars, some of whom
were to perish early at the stake, while others were destined to become
the leaders of the English Reformation, came together and encouraged
each other to test the received doctrines of contemporary orthodoxy by
searching the Scriptures and the works of the Fathers. The sect spread
in a few years to London, Oxford and other centres of intellectual life,
but for many years its followers were not numerous; like the old
Lollardy, Protestantism took root only in certain places and among
certain classes--notably the lesser clergy and the merchants of the
great towns.

King Henry and those who wished to please him professed as great a
hatred and contempt for the new purveyors of German doctrines as for the
belated disciples of Wycliffe. But there was another movement, whose
origins went back for many centuries, which they were far from
discouraging, and were prepared to utilize when it suited their
convenience. This was the purely political feeling against the tyranny
of the papacy, and the abuses of the national church, which in early
ages had given supporters to William the Conqueror and Henry II., which
had dictated the statutes of Mortmain and of Praemunire. Little had been
heard of the old anti-clerical party in England since the time of Henry
IV.; it had apparently been identified in the eyes of the orthodox with
that Lollardy with which it had for a time allied itself, and had shared
in its discredit. But it had always continued to exist, and in the early
years of Henry VIII. had been showing unmistakable signs of vitality.
The papacy of the Renaissance was a fair mark for criticism. It was not
hard to attack the system under which Rodrigo Borgia wore the tiara,
while Girolamo Savonarola went to the stake; or in which Julius II.
exploited the name of Christianity to serve his territorial policy in
Italy, and Leo X. hawked his indulgences round Europe to raise funds
which would enable him to gratify his artistic tastes. At no period had
the official hierarchy of the Western Church been more out of touch with
common righteousness and piety. Moreover, they were sinning under the
eyes of a laity which was far more intelligent and educated, more able
to think and judge for itself, less the slave of immemorial tradition,
than the old public of the middle ages. In Italy the Renaissance might
be purely concerned with things intellectual or artistic, and seem to
have little or no touch with things moral. Beyond the Alps it was
otherwise; among the Teutonic nations at least the revolt against the
scholastic philosophy, the rout of the obscurantists, the eager pursuit
of Hellenic culture, had a religious aspect. The same generation which
refused to take thrice-translated and thrice-garbled screeds from
Aristotle as the sum of human knowledge, and went back to the original
Greek, was also studying the Old and New Testaments in their original
tongues, and drawing from them conclusions as unfavourable to the
intelligence as to the scholarship of the orthodox medieval divines.
Such a discovery as that which showed that the "False Decretals," on
which so much of the power of the papacy rested, were mere 9th-century
forgeries struck deep at the roots of the whole traditional relation
between church and state.

The first English scholars of the Renaissance, like Erasmus on the
continent, did not see the logical outcome of their own discoveries, nor
realize that the campaign against obscurantism would develop into a
campaign against Roman orthodoxy. Sir Thomas More, the greatest of them,
was actually driven into reaction by the violence of Protestant
controversialists, and the fear that the new doctrines would rend the
church in twain. He became himself a persecutor, and a writer of abusive
pamphlets unworthy of the author of the _Utopia_. But to the younger
generation the irreconcilability of modern scholarship and medieval
formulae of faith became more and more evident. One after another all
the cardinal doctrines were challenged by writers who were generally
acute, and almost invariably vituperative. For the controversies of the
Reformation were conducted by both sides, from kings and prelates down
to gutter pamphleteers, in language of the most unseemly violence.

But, as has been already said, the scholars and theologians had less
influence in the beginning of the English Reformation than the mere lay
politicians, whose anti-clerical tendencies chanced to fit in with King
Henry's convenience when he quarrelled with the papacy. It is well to
note that the first attacks of parliament on the church date back to two
years before Luther published his famous theses. The contention began in
1515 with the fierce assault by the Commons on the old abuse of benefit
of clergy, and the immunity of clerical criminals from due punishment
for secular crimes--a question as old as the times of Henry II. and
Becket. But the discussion spread in later years from this particular
point into a general criticism of the church and its relations to the
state, embracing local grievances as well as the questions which turned
on the dealings of the papacy with the crown. The old complaints which
had been raised against the Church of England in the days of Edward I.
or Richard II. had lost none of their force in 1526. The higher clergy
were more than ever immersed in affairs of state, "Caesarean" as
Wycliffe would have called them. It was only necessary to point to the
great cardinal himself, and to ask how far his spiritual duties at York
were properly discharged while he was acting as the king's prime
minister. The cases of Foxe and Morton were much the same; the former
passed for a well-meaning man, yet had been practically absent from his
diocese for twenty years. Pluralism, nepotism, simony and all the other
ancient abuses were more rampant than ever. The monasteries had ceased
to be even the nurseries of literature; their chronicles had run dry,
and secular priests or laymen had taken up the pens that the monks had
dropped. They were wealthier than ever, yet did little to justify their
existence; indeed the spirit of the age was so much set against them
that they found it hard to keep up the numbers of their inmates.
Truculent pamphleteers like Simon Fish, who wrote _Beggars'
Supplication_, were already demanding "that these sturdy boobies should
be set abroad into the world, to get wives of their own, and earn their
living by the sweat of their brows, according to the commandment of God;
so might the king be better obeyed, matrimony be better kept, the gospel
better preached, and none should rob the poor of his alms." It must be
added that monastic scandals were not rare; though the majority of the
houses were decently ordered, yet the unexceptionable testimony of
archiepiscopal and episcopal visitations shows that in the years just
before the Reformation there was a certain number of them where chastity
of life and honesty of administration were equally unknown. But above
all things the church was being criticized as an _imperium in imperio_,
a privileged body not amenable to ordinary jurisdiction, and subservient
to a foreign lord--the pope. And it was true that, much as English
churchmen might grumble at papal exactions, they were generally ready as
a body to support the pope against the crown; the traditions of the
medieval church made it impossible for them to do otherwise. That there
would in any case have been a new outbreak of anti-clerical and
anti-papal agitation in England, under the influence of the Protestant
impulse started by Luther in Germany, is certain. But two special causes
gave its particular colour to the opening of the English Reformation;
the one was that the king fell out with the papacy on the question of
his divorce. The other was that the nation at this moment was chafing
bitterly against a clerical minister, whom it (very unjustly) made
responsible for the exorbitant taxation which it was enduring, in
consequence of the king's useless and unsuccessful foreign wars. The
irony of the situation lay in the facts that Henry was, so far as
dogmatic views were concerned, a perfectly orthodox prince; he had a
considerable knowledge of the old theological literature, as he had
shown in his pamphlet against Luther, and though he was ready to repress
clerical immunities and privileges that were inconvenient to the crown,
he had no sympathy whatever with the doctrinal side of the new revolt
against the system of the medieval church. Moreover, Wolsey, whose fall
was to synchronize with the commencement of the reforming movement, was
if anything more in sympathy with change than was his master. He was an
enlightened patron of the new learning, and was inclined to take
vigorous measures in hand for the pruning away of the abuses of the
church. It is significant that his great college at Oxford--"Cardinal's
College" as he designed to call it, "Christ Church" as it is named
to-day--was endowed with the revenues of some score of small monasteries
which he had suppressed on the ground that they were useless or
ill-conducted. His master turned the lesson to account a few years
later; but Henry's wholesale destruction of religious houses was carried
out not in the interests of learning, but mainly in those of the royal
exchequer.     (C. W. C. O.)


  Fall of Wolsey.

Wolsey did not fall through any opposition to reform; nor was he opposed
to the idea of a divorce. Indeed, both in France and Spain he was
credited with the authorship of the project. But he differed from Henry
on the question of Catherine's successor. Wolsey desired a French
marriage to consummate the breach upon which he was now bent with the
emperor; and war, in fact, was precipitated with Spain in 1528. This is
said to have been done without Henry's consent; he certainly wished to
avoid war with Charles V., and peace was made after six months of
passive hostility. Nor did Henry want a French princess; his affections
were fixed for the time on Anne Boleyn, and she was the hope of the
anti-clerical party. The crisis was brought to a head by the failure of
Wolsey's plan to obtain a divorce. Originally it had been suggested that
the ecclesiastical courts in England were competent without recourse to
Rome. Wolsey deprecated this procedure, and application was made to
Clement VII. Wolsey relied upon his French and Italian allies to exert
the necessary powers of persuasion; and in 1528 a French army crossed
the Alps, marched through Italy and threatened to drive Charles V. out
of Naples. Clement was in a position to listen to Henry's prayer; and
Campeggio was commissioned with Wolsey to hear the suit and grant the

  Question of the divorce.

No sooner had Campeggio started than the fortunes of war changed. The
French were driven out of Naples, and the Imperialists again dominated
Rome; the Church, wrote Clement to Campeggio, was completely in the
power of Charles V. The cardinal, therefore, must on no account
pronounce against Charles's aunt; if he could not persuade Henry and
Catherine to agree on a mutual separation, he must simply pass the time
and come to no conclusion. Hence it was June 1529 before the court got
to work at all, and then its proceedings were only preparatory to an
adjournment and revocation of the suit to Rome in August. Clement VII.
had, in his own words, made up his mind to live and die an imperialist;
the last remnants of the French army in Italy had been routed, and the
pope had perforce concluded the treaty of Barcelona, a sort of family
compact between himself and Charles, whereby he undertook to protect
Charles's aunt, and the emperor to support the Medici dynasty in
Florence. This peace was amplified at the treaty of Cambrai (August
1529) into a general European pacification in which England had no
voice. So far had it fallen since 1521.

In every direction Wolsey had failed, and his failure involved the
triumph of the forces which he had opposed. The fate of the papal system
in England was bound up with his personal fortunes. It was he and he
alone who had kept parliament at arm's length and the enemies of the
church at bay. He had interested the king, and to some extent the
nation, in a spirited foreign policy, had diverted their attention from
domestic questions, and had staved off that parliamentary attack on the
church which had been threatened fifteen years before. Now he was
doomed, and both Campeggio and Cardinal du Bellay were able to send
their governments accurate outlines of the future policy of Henry VIII.
The church was to be robbed of its wealth, its power and its privileges,
and the papal jurisdiction was to be abolished. In October Wolsey was
deprived of the great seal, and surrendered many of his ecclesiastical
preferments, though he was allowed to retain his archbishopric of York
which he now visited for the first time. The first lay ministry since
Edward the Confessor's time came into office; Sir Thomas More became
lord chancellor, and Anne Boleyn's father lord privy seal; the only
prominent cleric who remained in office was Stephen Gardiner, who
succeeded Wolsey as bishop of Winchester.

  Attack on the church in parliament.

  Henry VIII. marries Anne Boleyn.

  The Act of Supremacy.

Parliament met in November 1529 and passed many acts against clerical
exactions, mortuaries, probate dues and pluralities, which evoked a
passionate protest from Bishop Fisher: "Now, with the Commons," he cried
in the House of Lords, "is nothing but 'Down with the Church.'" During
1530 Henry's agents were busy abroad making that appeal on the divorce
to the universities which Cranmer had suggested. In 1531 the clergy in
convocation, terrified by the charge of _praemunire_ brought against
them for recognizing Wolsey's legatine authority, paid Henry a hundred
and eighteen thousand pounds and recognized him as supreme head of the
church so far as the law of Christ would allow. The details of this
surrender were worked out by king and Commons in 1532; but Gardiner and
More secured the rejection by the Lords of the bill in which they were
embodied, and it was not till 1533, when More had ceased to be
chancellor and Gardiner to be secretary, that a parliamentary statute
annihilated the independent legislative authority of the church. An act
was, however, passed in 1532 empowering the king, if he thought fit, to
stop the payment of annates to Rome. Henry suspended his consent in
order to induce the pope to grant Cranmer his bulls as archbishop of
Canterbury where he succeeded Warham late in 1532. The stratagem was
successful, and Henry cast off all disguise. The act of annates was
confirmed; another prohibiting appeals to Rome and providing for the
appointment of bishops without recourse to the papacy was passed; and
Cranmer declared Henry's marriage with Catherine null and void and that
with Anne Boleyn, which had taken place about January 25, 1533, valid.
Anne was crowned in June, and on the 7th of September the future Queen
Elizabeth was born. At length in 1534 Clement VII. concluded the case at
Rome, pronouncing in favour of Catherine's marriage, and drawing up a
bull of excommunication against Henry and his abettors. But he did not
venture to publish it; public opinion in England, while hostile to the
divorce, was not in favour of the clergy or the pope, and the rivalry
between Charles V. and Francis I. was too bitter to permit of joint, or
even isolated, action against Henry. Charles was only too anxious to
avoid the duty of carrying out the pope's commands, and a year later he
was once more involved in war with France. Henry was able to deal
roughly with such manifestations as Elizabeth Barton's visions, and in
the autumn of 1534 to obtain from parliament the Act of Supremacy which
transferred to him the juridical, though not the spiritual, powers of
the pope. No penalties were attached to this act, but another passed in
the same session made it treason to attempt to deprive the king of any
of his titles, of which supreme head of the church was one, being
incorporated in the royal style by letters patent of January 1535.
Fisher and More were executed on this charge; they had been imprisoned
in the previous year for objecting to take the form of oath to the
succession as vested in Anne Boleyn's children which the commissioners
prescribed. But their lives could only be forfeit on the supposition
that they sought to deprive the king of his royal supremacy. Many of the
friars observant of Greenwich and monks of the Charterhouse were
involved in a similar fate, but there was no general resistance, and
Henry, now inspired or helped by Thomas Cromwell, was able to proceed
with the next step in the Reformation, the dissolution of the

  Dissolution of the monasteries.

It was Cecil's opinion twenty-five years later that, but for the
dissolution, the cause of the Reformation could not have succeeded. Such
a reason could hardly be avowed, and justification had to be sought in
the condition of the monasteries themselves. The action of Wolsey and
other bishops before 1529, the report of a commission of cardinals
appointed by Paul III. in 1535, the subsequent experience of other, even
Catholic, countries give collateral support to the conclusions of the
visitors appointed by Cromwell, although they were dictated by a desire
not to deal out impartial justice, but to find reasons for a policy
already adopted in principle. That they exaggerated the evils of
monastic life hardly admits of doubt; but even a Henry VIII. and a
Thomas Cromwell would not have dared to attack, or succeeded in
destroying, the monasteries had they retained their original purity and
influence. As it was their doubtful reputation and financial
embarrassments enabled Henry to offer them as a gigantic bribe to the
upper classes of the laity, and the Reformation parliament met for its
last session early in 1536 to give effect to the reports of the visitors
and to the king's and their own desires.

  Execution of Queen Anne Boleyn.

But it had barely been dissolved in April when it became necessary to
call another. In January the death of Catherine had rejoiced the hearts
of Henry and Anne Boleyn, but Anne's happiness was short-lived. Two
miscarriages and the failure to produce the requisite male heir linked
her in Henry's mind and in misfortune to Catherine; unlike Catherine she
was unpopular and not above suspicion. The story of her tragedy is still
one of the most horrible and mysterious pages in English history. It is
certain that Henry was tired and wanted to get rid of her; but if she
were innocent, why were charges brought against her which were not
brought against Catherine of Aragon and Anne of Cleves? and why were
four other victims sacrificed when one would have been enough? The peers
a year before could acquit Lord Dacre; would they have condemned the
queen without some show of evidence? and unless there was suspicious
evidence, her daughter was inhuman in making no effort subsequently to
clear her mother's character. However that may be, Anne was not only
condemned and executed, but her marriage was declared invalid and her
daughter a bastard. Parliament was required to establish the succession
on the new basis of Henry's new queen, Jane Seymour. It also empowered
the king to leave the crown by will if he had no legitimate issue; but
the illegitimate son, the duke of Richmond, in whose favour this
provision is said to have been conceived, died shortly afterwards.

  The Pilgrimage of Grace.

Fortunately for Henry, Queen Jane roused no domestic or foreign
animosities; Charles V. and Francis I. were at war; and the pope's and
Pole's attempt to profit by the Pilgrimage of Grace came too late to
produce any effect except the ruin of Pole's family. The two risings of
1536 in Lincolnshire and Yorkshire were provoked partly by the
dissolution of the monasteries, partly by the collection of a subsidy
and fears of fresh taxation on births, marriages and burials, and partly
by the protestantizing Ten Articles of 1536 and Cromwell's
_Injunctions_. They were conservative demonstrations in favour of a
restoration of the old order by means of a change of ministry, but not a
change of dynasty. The Lincolnshire rising was over before the middle of
October, the more serious revolt in Yorkshire under Aske lasted through
the winter. Henry's lieutenants were compelled to temporize and make
concessions. Aske was invited to come to London and hoodwinked by Henry
into believing that the king was really bent on restoration and reform.
But an impatient outburst of the insurgents and a foolish attempt to
seize Hull and Scarborough gave Henry an excuse for repudiating the
concessions made in his name. He could afford to do so because England
south of the Trent remained stauncher to him than England north of it
did to the Pilgrimage. Aske and other leaders were tried and executed,
and summary vengeance was wreaked on the northern counties, especially
on the monasteries. The one satisfactory outcome was the establishment
of the Council of the North, which gave the shires between the Border
and the Trent a stronger and more efficient government than they had
ever had before.

  The "Six Articles."

  Fall of Thomas Cromwell.

Probably the Pilgrimage had some effect in moderating Henry's progress.
The monasteries did not benefit and in 1538-1539 the greater were
involved in the fate which had already overtaken the less. But no
further advances were made towards Protestantism after the publication
and authorization of the "Great" Bible in English. The Lutheran divines
who came to England in 1538 with a project for a theological union were
rebuffed; the parliament elected in 1539 was Catholic, and only the
reforming bishops in the House of Lords offered any resistance to the
Six Articles which reaffirmed the chief points in Catholic doctrine and
practice. The alliance between pope, emperor and French king induced
Henry to acquiesce in Cromwell's scheme for a political understanding
with Cleves and the Schmalkaldic League, which might threaten Charles
V.'s position in Germany and the Netherlands, but could not be of much
direct advantage to England. Cromwell rashly sought to wed Henry to this
policy, proposed Anne of Cleves as a bride for Henry, now once more a
widower, and represented the marriage as England's sole protection
against a Catholic league. Henry put his neck under the yoke, but soon
discovered that there was no necessity; for Charles and Francis were
already beginning to quarrel and had no thought of a joint attack on
England. The discovery was fatal to Cromwell; after a severe struggle in
the council he was abandoned to his enemies, attainted of treason and
executed. Anne's marriage was declared null, and Henry found a fifth
queen in Catherine Howard, a niece of Norfolk, a protégée of Gardiner,
and a friend of the Catholic church.

Nevertheless there was no reversal of what had been done, only a check
to the rate of progress. Cranmer remained archbishop and compiled an
English Litany, while Catherine Howard soon ceased to be queen; charges
of loose conduct, which in her case at any rate were not instigated by
the king, were made against her and she was brought to the block; she
was succeeded by Catherine Parr, a mild patron of the new learning. The
Six Articles were only fitfully put in execution, especially in 1543 and
1546: all the plots against Cranmer failed; and before he died Henry was
even considering the advisability of further steps in the religious
reformation, apart from mere spoliation like the confiscation of the
chantry lands.

  Policy in Ireland and Scotland.

But Scotland, Ireland and foreign affairs concerned him most. Something
substantial was achieved in Ireland; the papal sovereignty was abolished
and Henry received from the Irish parliament the title of king instead
of lord of Ireland. The process was begun of converting Irish chieftains
into English peers which eventually divorced the Irish people from their
natural leaders; and principles of English law and government were
spread beyond the Pale. In Scotland Henry was less fortunate. He failed
to win over James V. to his anti-papal policy, revived the feudal claim
to suzerainty, won the battle of Solway Moss (1542), and then after
James's death bribed and threatened the Scots estates into concluding a
treaty of marriage between their infant queen and Henry's son. The
church in Scotland led by Beaton, and the French party led by James V.'s
widow, Mary of Guise, soon reversed this decision, and Hertford's heavy
hand was (1544) laid on Edinburgh in revenge. France was at the root of
the evil, and Henry was thus induced once more to join Charles V. in war
(1543). The joint invasion of 1544 led to the capture of Boulogne, but
the emperor made peace in order to deal with the Lutherans and left
Henry at war with France. The French attempted to retaliate in 1545, and
burnt some villages in the Isle of Wight and on the coast of Sussex. But
their expedition was a failure, and peace was made in 1546, by which
Henry undertook to restore Boulogne in eight years' time on payment of
eight hundred thousand crowns. Scotland was not included in the
pacification, and when Henry died (January 28, 1547) he was busy
preparing to renew his attempt on Scotland's independence.

  Edward VI.

  Progress of the Reformation.

He left a council of sixteen to rule during his son's minority. The
balance of parties which had existed since Cromwell's fall had been
destroyed in the last months of the reign by the attainder of Norfolk
and his son Surrey, and the exclusion of Gardiner and Thirlby from the
council of regency. Men of the new learning prevailed, and Hertford
(later duke of Somerset), as uncle to Edward VI., was made protector of
the realm and governor of the king's person. He soon succeeded in
removing the trammels imposed upon his authority, and made himself king
in everything but name. He used his arbitrary power to modify the
despotic system of the Tudors; all treason laws since Edward III., all
heresy laws, all restrictions upon the publication of the Scriptures
were removed in the first parliament of the reign, and various
securities for liberty were enacted. The administration of the sacrament
of the altar in both elements was permitted, the Catholic interpretation
of the mass was rendered optional, images were removed, and English was
introduced into nearly the whole of the church service. In the following
session (1548-1549) the first Act of Uniformity authorized the first
Book of Common Prayer. It met with strenuous resistance in Devon and in
Cornwall, where rebellions added to the thickening troubles of the

  Administration of the protector Somerset.

His administration was singularly unsuccessful. In 1547 he won the great
but barren victory of Pinkie Cleugh over the Scots, and attempted to
push on the marriage and union by a mixture of conciliation and
coercion. He made genuine and considerable concessions to Scottish
feeling, guaranteeing autonomy and freedom of trade, and suggesting that
the two realms should adopt the indifferent style of the empire of Great
Britain. But he also seized Haddington in 1548, held by force the
greater part of the Lowlands, and, when Mary was transported to France,
revived the old feudal claims which he had dropped in 1547. France was,
as ever, the backbone of the Scots resistance; men and money poured into
Edinburgh to assist Mary of Guise and the French faction. The
protector's offer to restore Boulogne could not purchase French
acquiescence in the union of England and Scotland; and the bickerings on
the borders in France and open fighting in Scotland led the French to
declare war on England in August 1549. They were encouraged by
dissensions in England. Somerset's own brother, Thomas Seymour, jealous
of the protector, intrigued against the government; he sought to secure
the hand of Elizabeth, the favour of Edward VI. and the support of the
Suffolk line, secretly married Catherine Parr, and abused his office as
lord high admiral to make friends with pirates and other enemies of
order. Foes of the family, such as Warwick and Southampton, saw in his
factious conduct the means of ruining both the brothers. Seymour was
brought to the block, and the weak consent of the protector seriously
damaged him in the public eye. His notorious sympathy with the peasantry
further alienated the official classes and landed gentry, and his
campaign against enclosures brought him into conflict with the strongest
forces of the time. The remedial measures which he favoured failed; and
the rising of Ket in Norfolk and others less important in nearly all the
counties of England, made Somerset's position impossible. Bedford and
Herbert suppressed the rebellion in the west, Warwick that in Norfolk
(July-August 1549). They then combined with the majority of the council
and the discontented Catholics to remove the protector from office and
imprison him in the Tower (October).

  Administration of the duke of Northumberland.

  Establishment of Protestantism.

The Catholics hoped for reaction, the restoration of the mass, and the
release of Gardiner and Bonner, who had been imprisoned for resistance
to the protector's ecclesiastical policy. But Warwick meant to rely on
the Protestant extremists; by January 1550 the Catholics had been
expelled from the council, and the pace of the Reformation increased
instead of diminishing. Peace was made with France by the surrender of
Boulogne and abandonment of the policy of union with Scotland (March
1550); and the approach of war between France and the emperor, coupled
with the rising of the princes in Germany, relieved Warwick from foreign
apprehensions and gave him a free hand at home. Gardiner, Bonner, Heath,
Day and Tunstall were one by one deprived of their sees; a new ordinal
simplified the ritual of ordination, and a second Act of Uniformity and
Book of Common Prayer (1552) repudiated the Catholic interpretation
which had been placed on the first and imposed a stricter conformity to
the Protestant faith. All impediments to clerical marriage were removed,
altars and organs were taken down, old service books destroyed and
painted windows broken; it was even proposed to explain away the
kneeling at the sacrament. The liberal measures of the protector were
repealed, and new treasons were enacted; Somerset himself, who had been
released and restored to the council in 1550, became an obstacle in
Warwick's path, and was removed by means of a bogus plot, being executed
in January 1552; while Warwick had himself made duke of Northumberland,
his friend Dorset duke of Suffolk, and Herbert earl of Pembroke.

But his ambition and violence made him deeply unpopular, and the failing
health of Edward VI. opened up a serious prospect for Northumberland. He
was only safe so long as he controlled the government, and prevented the
administration of justice, and the knowledge that not only power but
life was at stake drove him into a desperate plot for the retention of
both. He could trade upon Edward's precocious hatred of Mary's religion,
he could rely upon French fears of her Spanish inclinations, and the
success which had attended his schemes in England deluded him into a
belief that he could supplant the Tudor with a Dudley dynasty. His son
Guilford Dudley was hastily married to Lady Jane Grey, the eldest
granddaughter of Henry VIII.'s younger sister Mary. Henry's two
daughters, Mary and Elizabeth, the descendants of his elder sister
Margaret, and Lady Jane's mother, the duchess of Suffolk, were all to be
passed over, and the succession was to be vested in Lady Jane and her
heirs male. Edward was persuaded that he could devise the crown by will,
the council and the judges were browbeaten into acquiescence, and three
days after Edward's death (July 6, 1553), Lady Jane Grey was proclaimed
queen in London. Northumberland had miscalculated the temper of the
nation, and failed to kidnap Mary. She gathered her forces in Norfolk
and Suffolk, Northumberland rode out from London to oppose her, but
defection dogged his steps, and even in London Mary was proclaimed queen
behind his back by his fellow-conspirators. Mary entered London amid
unparalleled popular rejoicings, and Northumberland was sent to a
well-deserved death on the scaffold.

  Queen Mary. Restoration of the old religion.

  Unpopularity of the Spanish marriage. Philip II.

Mary was determined from the first to restore papalism as well as
Catholicism, but she had to go slowly. The papacy had few friends in
England, and even Charles V., on whom Mary chiefly relied for guidance,
was not eager to see the papal jurisdiction restored. He wanted England
to be first firmly tied to the Habsburg interests by Mary's marriage
with Philip. Nor was it generally anticipated that Mary would do more
than restore religion as it had been left by her father. She did not
attempt anything further in 1553 than the repeal of Edward VI.'s
legislation and the accomplishment of the Spanish marriage. The latter
project provoked fierce resistance; various risings were planned for the
opening months of 1554, and Wyat's nearly proved successful. Only his
arrogance and procrastination and Mary's own courage saved her throne.
But the failure of this protest enabled Mary to carry through the
Spanish marriage, which was consummated in July; and in the ensuing
parliament (Oct.-Jan. 1554-1555) all anti-papal legislation was
repealed; Pole was received as legate; the realm was reconciled to Rome;
and, although the holders of abbey lands were carefully protected
against attempts at restitution, the church was empowered to work its
will with regard to heresy. The Lollard statutes were revived, and
between February 1555 and November 1558 some three hundred Protestants
were burnt at the stake. They began with John Rogers and Rowland Taylor,
and Bishops Ferrar of St Davids and Hooper of Gloucester. Ridley and
Latimer were not burnt until October 1555, and Cranmer not till March
1556. London, Essex, Hertfordshire, East Anglia, Kent and Sussex
provided nearly all the victims; only one was burnt north of the Trent,
and only one south-west of Wiltshire. But in the Protestant districts
neither age nor sex was spared; even the dead were dug up and burnt. The
result was to turn the hearts of Mary's people from herself, her church
and her creed. Other causes helped to convert their enthusiastic loyalty
into bitter hatred. The Spanish marriage was a failure from every point
of view. In spite of Mary's repeated delusions, she bore no child, and
both parliament and people resisted every attempt to deprive Elizabeth
of her right to the succession. Philip did all he could to conciliate
English affections, but they would not have Spanish control at any
price. They knew that his blandishments were dictated by ulterior
designs, and that the absorption of England in the Habsburg empire was
his ultimate aim. As it was, the Spanish connexion checked England's
aspirations; her adventurers were warned off the Spanish Main, and even
trade with the colonies of Philip's ally Portugal was prohibited. They
had to content themselves with the Arctic Ocean and Muscovy; and they
soon found themselves at war in Philip's interests. Philip himself
refused to declare war on Scotland on England's behalf, but he induced
Mary to declare war on France on his own (1557). The glory of the war
fell to the Spaniards at St Quentin (1557) and Gravelines (1558), but
the shame to England by the loss of Calais (Jan. 1558). Ten months later
Mary died (Nov. 17), deserted by her husband and broken-hearted at the
loss of Calais and her failure to win English hearts back to Rome.

  Accession of Elizabeth. English national struggle with Spain.

The Spanish and Venetian ambassadors in London were shocked at what they
regarded as the indecent rejoicings over Elizabeth's accession. The
nation, indeed, breathed a new life. Papal control of its
ecclesiastical, and Spanish control of its foreign policy ceased, and it
had a queen who gloried in being "mere English." There was really no
possible rival sovereign, and no possible alternative policy. The
English were tugging at the chain and Elizabeth had to follow; her
efforts throughout were aimed at checking the pace at which her people
wanted to go. She could not have married Philip had she wished to, and
she could not have kept her sea-dogs off the Spanish Main. They were
willing to take all the risks and relieve her of all responsibility;
they filled her coffers with Spanish gold which they plundered as
pirates, knowing that they might be hanged if caught; and they fought
Elizabeth's enemies in France and in the Netherlands as irregulars,
taking their chance of being shot if taken prisoners. While Elizabeth
nursed prosperity in peace, her subjects sapped the strength of
England's rivals by attacks which were none the less damaging because
they escaped the name of war.

  Triumph of the new religion. The Act of Uniformity.

It required all Elizabeth's finesse to run with the hare and hunt with
the hounds; but she was, as Henry III. of France said, _la plus fine
femme du monde_, and she was ably seconded by Cecil who had already
proved himself an adept in the art of taking cover. Nevertheless,
English policy in their hands was essentially aggressive. It could not
be otherwise if England was to emerge from the slough in which Mary had
left it. The first step was to assert the principle of England for the
English; the queen would have no foreign husband, though she found
suitors useful as well as attractive. Spanish counsels were applauded
and neglected, and the Spaniards soon departed. Elizabeth was glad of
Philip's support at the negotiations for peace at Cateau Cambrésis
(1559), but she took care to assert the independence of her diplomacy
and of England's interests. At home the church was made once more
English. All foreign jurisdiction was repudiated, and under the style
"supreme governor" Elizabeth reclaimed nearly all the power which Henry
VIII. had exercised as "supreme head." The Act of Uniformity (1559)
restored with a few modifications the second prayer-book of Edward VI.
The bishops almost unanimously refused to conform, and a clean sweep was
made of the episcopal bench. An eminently safe and scholarly archbishop
was found in Matthew Parker, who had not made himself notorious by
resistance to authority even under Mary. The lower clergy were more
amenable; the two hundred who alone are said to have been ejected should
perhaps be multiplied by five; but even so they were not one in seven,
and these seven were clergy who had been promoted in Mary's reign, or
who had stood the celibate and other tests of 1553-1554. Into the
balance must be thrown the hundreds, if not thousands, of zealots who
had fled abroad and returned in 1558-1559. The net result was that a few
years later the lower house of convocation only rejected by one vote a
very puritanical petition against vestments and other "popish dregs."

  Elizabeth and Scotland.

  Struggle against the Spanish dominion at sea.

The next step was to expand the principle of England for the English
into that of Britain for the British, and Knox's reformation in
1559-1560 provided an opportunity for its application. By timely and
daring intervention in Scotland Elizabeth procured the expulsion of the
French bag and baggage from North Britain, and that French avenue to
England was closed for ever. The logic of this plan was not applied to
Ireland; there it was to be Ireland for the English for many a
generation yet to come; and so Ireland remained Achilles' heel, the
vulnerable part of the United Kingdom. The Protestant religion was
forced upon the Irish in a foreign tongue and garb and at the point of
foreign pikes; and national sentiment supported the ancient faith and
the ancient habits in resistance to the Saxon innovations. In other
directions the expansion of England, the third stage in the development
of Elizabeth's policy, was more successful. The attractions of the
Spanish Main converted the seafaring folk of south-west England into
hardy Protestants, who could on conscientious as well as other grounds
contest a papal allocation of new worlds to Spain and Portugal. Their
monopoly was broken up by Hawkins, Drake, Frobisher, Raleigh, and scores
of others who recognized no peace beyond the line; and although, as far
as actual colonies went, the results of Elizabeth's reign were
singularly meagre, the idea had taken root and the ground had been
prepared. In every direction English influence penetrated, and
Englishmen before 1603 might be found in every quarter of the globe,
following Drake's lead into the Pacific, painfully breaking the ice in
search of a north-east or a north-west passage, hunting for slaves in
the wilds of Africa, journeying in caravans across the steppes of Russia
into central Asia, bargaining with the Turks on the shores of the Golden
Horn, or with the Greeks in the Levant, laying the foundations of the
East India Company, or of the colonies of Virginia and Newfoundland.

  Mary, queen of Scots.

This expansion was mainly at the expense of Spain; but at first Spain
was regarded as Elizabeth's friend, not France. France had a rival
candidate for Elizabeth's throne in Mary Stuart, the wife of the dauphin
who soon (1559) became king as Francis II.; and Spanish favour was
sought to neutralize this threat. Fortunately for Elizabeth, Francis
died in 1560, and the French government passed into the hands of
Catherine de' Medici, who had no cause to love her daughter-in-law and
the Guises. France, too, was soon paralysed by the wars of religion
which Elizabeth judiciously fomented with anything but religious
motives. Mary Stuart returned to Scotland with nothing but her brains
and her charms on which to rely in her struggle with her people and her
rival. She was well equipped in both respects, but human passions spoilt
her chance; her heart turned her head. Elizabeth's head was stronger and
she had no heart at all. When Mary married Darnley she had the ball at
her feet; the pair had the best claims to the English succession and
enjoyed the united affections of the Catholics. But they soon ceased to
love one another, and could not control their jealousies. There followed
rapidly the murders of Rizzio and Darnley, the Bothwell marriage, Mary's
defeat, captivity, and flight into England (1568). It was a difficult
problem for Elizabeth to solve; to let Mary go to France was presenting
a good deal more than a pawn to her enemies; to restore her by force to
her Scottish throne might have been heroic, but it certainly was not
politics; to hand her over to her Scottish foes was too mean even for
Elizabeth; and to keep her in England was to nurse a spark in a
powder-magazine. Mary was detained in the hope that the spark might be
carefully isolated.

  Rebellion of 1569 and excommunication of Elizabeth.

  Plots against Elizabeth. Relations with France and Spain.

But there was too much inflammable material about. The duke of Norfolk
was a Protestant, but his convictions were weaker than his ambition, and
he fell a victim to Mary's unseen charms. The Catholic north of England
was to rise under the earls of Westmorland and Northumberland, who
objected to Elizabeth's seizure of their mines and jurisdictions as well
as to her proscription of their faith; and the pope was to assist with a
bull of deposition. Norfolk, however, played the coward; the bull came
nearly a year too late, and the rebellion of the earls (1569) was easily
crushed. But the conspiracies did not end, and Spain began to take a
hand. Elizabeth, partly in revenge for the treatment of Hawkins and
Drake at San Juan de Ulloa, seized some Spanish treasure on its way to
the Netherlands (Dec. 1569). Alva's operations were fatally handicapped
by this disaster, but Philip was too much involved in the Netherlands to
declare war on England. But his friendship for Elizabeth had received a
shock, and henceforth his finger may be traced in most of the plots
against her, of which the Ridolfi conspiracy was the first. It cost
Norfolk his head and Mary more of her scanty liberty. Elizabeth also
began to look to France, and in 1572, by the treaty of Blois, France
instead of Spain became England's ally, while Philip constituted himself
as Mary's patron. The massacre of St Bartholomew placed a severe strain
upon the new alliance, but was not fatal to it. A series of prolonged
but hollow marriage negotiations between Elizabeth and first Anjou
(afterwards Henry III.) and then Alençon (afterwards duke of Anjou)
served to keep up appearances. But the friendship was never warm;
Elizabeth's relations with the Huguenots on the one hand and her fear of
French designs on the Netherlands on the other prevented much
cordiality. But the alliance stood in the way of a Franco-Spanish
agreement, limited Elizabeth's sympathy with the French Protestants, and
enabled her to give more countenance than she otherwise might have done
to the Dutch.

  The Jesuit missions.

  Execution of Mary, queen of Scots, 1587.

  The Great Armada, 1588.

Gradually Philip grew more hostile under provocation; slowly he came to
the conclusion that he could never subdue the Dutch or check English
attacks on the Spanish Main without a conquest of England.
Simultaneously the counter-Reformation began its attacks; the "Jesuit
invasion" took place in 1580, and Campion went to the block. A papal and
Spanish attempt upon Ireland in the same year was foiled at Smerwick.
But more important was Philip's acquisition of the throne of Portugal
with its harbours, its colonies and its marine. This for the first time
gave him a real command of the sea, and at least doubled the chances of
a successful attack upon England. But Philip's mind moved slowly and
only on provocation. It took a year or two to satisfy him that Portugal
was really his; not until 1583 was the fleet of the pretender Don
Antonio destroyed in the Azores. The victor, Santa Cruz, then suggested
an armada against England, but the English Catholics could not be
brought into line with a Spanish invasion. The various attempts to
square James VI. of Scotland had not been successful, and events in the
Netherlands and in France disturbed Philip's calculations. But his
purpose was now probably fixed. After the murder of William the Silent
(1584) Elizabeth sided more openly with the Dutch; the Spanish
ambassador Mendoza was expelled from England for his intrigues with
Elizabeth's enemies (1586); and on the discovery of Babington's plot
Elizabeth yielded to the demand of her parliament and her ministers for
Mary's execution (1587); her death removed the only possible centre for
a Catholic rebellion in case of a Spanish attack. It also removed
Philip's last doubts; Mary had left him her claims to the English
throne, and he might, now that she was out of his path, hope to treat
England like Portugal. Drake's "singeing of Philip's beard" in Cadiz
harbour in 1587 delayed the expedition for a year, and a storm again
postponed it in the early summer of 1588. At length the armada sailed in
July under the incompetent duke of Medina Sidonia; its object was to
secure command of the narrow seas and facilitate the transport of
Parma's army from the Netherlands to England. But Philip after his
twenty years' experience in the Netherlands can hardly have hoped to
conquer a bigger and richer country with scantier means and forces. He
relied in fact upon a domestic explosion, and the armada was only to be
the torch. This miscalculation made it a hopeless enterprise from the
first. Scarcely an English Catholic would have raised a finger in
Philip's favour; and when he could not subdue the two provinces of
Holland and Zeeland, it is absurd to suppose that he could have
simultaneously subdued them and England as well. English armies were not
perhaps very efficient, but they were as good as the material with which
William of Orange began his task. Philip, however, was never given the
opportunity. His armada was severely handled in a week's fighting on its
way up the Channel, and was driven off the English ports into the German
Ocean; there a south-west gale drove it far from its rendezvous, and
completed the havoc which the English ships had begun. A miserable
remnant alone escaped destruction in its perilous flight round the north
and west of Scotland.

The defeat of the armada was the beginning and not the end of the war;
and there were moments between 1588 and 1603 when England was more
seriously alarmed than in 1588. The Spaniards seized Calais in 1596; at
another time they threatened England from Brest, and the "invisible"
armada of 1599 created a greater panic than the "invincible" armada of
1588. It was not till the very end of the reign that what was in some
ways the most dangerous of Spanish aggressions was foiled at Kinsale.
Nor were the English counter-attacks very happy; the attempt on Portugal
in 1589 under Drake and Norris proved a complete failure. The raid on
Cadiz under Essex and Raleigh in 1596 was attended with better results,
but the "Islands" voyage to the Azores in 1597 was a very partial
success. Still it was now a war upon more or less equal terms, and there
was little more likelihood that it would end with England's than with
Spain's loss of national independence. The subjection of the Netherlands
was now almost out of the question, and although Elizabeth's help had
not enabled the Protestant cause to win in France, Henry IV. built up a
national monarchy which would be quite as effectual a bar to the
ambitions of Spain.

  Last years of Elizabeth.

Elizabeth had in fact safely piloted England through the struggle to
assert its national independence in religion and politics and its claim
to a share in the new inheritance which had been opened up for the
nations of Europe; and the passionate loyalty which had supported her as
the embodiment of England's aspirations somewhat cooled in her declining
years. She herself grew more cautious and conservative than ever, and
was regarded as an obstacle by the hotheads in war and religion. She
sided with the "scribes," Burghley and Sir Robert Cecil, against the men
of war, Essex and Raleigh; and she abetted Whitgift's rigorous
persecution of the Puritans whose discontent with her _via media_ was
rancorously expressed in the Martin Marprelate tracts. Essex's folly and
failure to crush Hugh O'Neill's rebellion (1599), the most serious
effort made in the reign to throw off the English yoke in Ireland,
involved him in treason and brought him to the block. Parliament was
beginning to quarrel with the royal prerogative, particularly when
expressed in the grant of monopolies, and even Mountjoy's success in
Ireland (1602-1603) failed to revive popular enthusiasm for the dying
queen. Strange as it may seem, the accession of James I. was hailed as
heralding a new and gladder age by Shakespeare, and minor writers (March
24, 1603).     (A. F. P.)


  James I. 1603-1625.

The defeat of the Spanish armada in 1588 had been the final victory
gained on behalf of the independence of the English church and state.
The fifteen years which followed had been years of successful war; but
they had been also years during which the nation had been preparing
itself to conform its institutions to the new circumstances in which it
found itself in consequence of the great victory. When James arrived
from Scotland to occupy the throne of Elizabeth he found a general
desire for change. Especially there was a feeling that there might be
some relaxation in the ecclesiastical arrangements. Roman Catholics and
Puritans alike wished for a modification of the laws which bore hardly
on them. James at first relaxed the penalties under which the Roman
Catholics suffered, then he grew frightened by the increase of their
numbers and reimposed the penalties. The gunpowder plot (1605) was the
result, followed by a sharper persecution than ever (see GUNPOWDER

The Puritans were invited to a conference with the king at Hampton Court
(1604). They no longer asked, as many of them had asked in the beginning
of Elizabeth's reign, to substitute the presbyterian discipline for the
episcopal government. All they demanded was to be allowed permission,
whilst remaining as ministers in the church, to omit the usage of
certain ceremonies to which they objected. It was the opinion of Bacon
that it would be wise to grant their request. James thought otherwise,
and attempted to carry out the Elizabethan conformity more strictly than
it had been carried out in his predecessor's reign.

  James I. and the Commons.

In 1604 the Commons agreed with Bacon. They declared that they were no
Puritans themselves, but that, with such a dearth of able ministers, it
was not well to lose the services of any one who was capable of
preaching the gospel. By his refusal to entertain their views James
placed himself in opposition to the Commons in a matter which touched
their deeper feelings. As a necessary consequence every dispute on
questions of smaller weight assumed an exaggerated importance. The king
had received a scanty revenue with his crown, and he spent freely what
little he had. As the Commons offered grudging supplies, the necessity
under which he was of filling up the annual deficit led him to an action
by which a grave constitutional question was raised.

From the time of Richard II. to the reign of Mary no attempt had been
made to raise duties on exports and imports without consent of
parliament. But Mary had, under a specious pretext, recommenced to a
slight extent the evil practice, and Elizabeth had gone a little further
in the same direction. In 1606 a merchant named John Bates (q.v.)
resisted the payment of an imposition--as duties levied by the sole
authority of the crown were then called. The case was argued in the
court of exchequer, and was there decided in favour of the crown.
Shortly afterwards new impositions were set to the amount of £70,000 a
year. When parliament met in 1610 the whole subject was discussed, and
it was conclusively shown that, if the barons of the exchequer had been
right in any sense, it was only in that narrow technical sense which is
of no value at all. A compromise attempted broke down, and the
difficulty was left to plague the next generation. The king was always
able to assert that the judges were on his side, and it was as yet an
acknowledged principle of the constitution that parliament could not
change the law without the express consent of the crown, even if, which
was not the case in this matter, the Lords had sided with the Commons.
James's attempt to obtain further supplies from the Commons by opening a
bargain for the surrender of some of his old feudal prerogatives, such
as wardship and marriage, which had no longer any real meaning except as
a means of obtaining money in an oppressive way, broke down, and early
in 1611 he dissolved his first parliament in anger. A second parliament,
summoned in 1614, met with the same fate after a session of a few weeks.

The dissolution of this second parliament was followed by a short
imprisonment of some of the more active members, and by a demand made
through England for a benevolence to make up the deficiency which
parliament had neglected to meet. The court represented that, as no
compulsion was used, there was nothing illegal in this proceeding. But
as the names of those who refused to pay were taken down, it cannot be
said that there was no indirect pressure.

  Attempted union with Scotland.

  The colonization of Ulster.

The most important result of the breach with the parliament of 1614,
however, was the resolution taken by James to seek refuge from his
financial and other troubles in a close alliance with the king of Spain.
His own accession had done much to improve the position of England in
its relation with the continental powers. Scotland was no longer
available as a possible enemy to England, and though an attempt to bind
the union between the two nations by freedom of commercial intercourse
had been wrecked upon the jealousy of the English Commons (1607), a
legal decision had granted the status of national subjects to all
persons born in Scotland after the king's accession in England. Ireland,
too, had been thoroughly overpowered at the end of Elizabeth's reign,
and the flight of the earls of Tyrone and Tyrconnel in 1607 had been
followed by the settlement of English and Scottish colonists in Ulster,
a measure which, in the way in which it was undertaken, sowed the seeds
of future evils, but undoubtedly conduced to increase the immediate
strength of the English government in Ireland.

  The Spanish alliance.

Without fear of danger at home, therefore, James, who as king of
Scotland had taken no part in Elizabeth's quarrel with Philip II., not
only suspended hostilities immediately on his accession, and signed a
peace in the following year, but looked favourably on the project of a
Spanish marriage alliance, so that the chief Protestant and the chief
Catholic powers might join together to impose peace on Europe, in the
place of those hideous religious wars by which the last century had been
disfigured. In 1611 circumstances had disgusted him with his new ally,
but in 1614 he courted him again, not only on grounds of general policy,
but because he hoped that the large portion which would accompany the
hand of an infanta would go far to fill the empty treasury.

In this way the Spanish alliance, unpopular in itself, was formed to
liberate the king from the shackles imposed on him by the English
constitution. Its unpopularity, great from the beginning, became greater
when Raleigh's execution (1618) caused the government to appear before
the world as truckling to Spain. The obloquy under which James laboured
increased when the Thirty Years' War broke out (1618), and when his
daughter Elizabeth, whose husband, the elector palatine, was the unhappy
claimant to the Bohemian crown (1619), stood forth as the lovely symbol
of the deserted Protestantism of Europe. Yet it was not entirely in pity
for German Protestants that the heart of Englishmen beat. Men felt that
their own security was at stake. The prospect of a Spanish infanta as
the bride of the future king of England filled them with suspicious
terrors. In Elizabeth's time the danger, if not entirely external, did
not come from the government itself. Now the favour shown to the Roman
Catholics by the king opened up a source of mischief which was to some
extent real, if it was to a still greater extent imaginary. Whether the
danger were real or imaginary, the consequence of the distrust resulting
from the suspicion was the reawakening of the slumbering demand for
fresh persecution of the Roman Catholics, a demand which made a complete
reconciliation between the crown and the Lower House a matter of the
greatest difficulty.

  Parliament and the monopolies.

In 1621 the third parliament of James was summoned to provide money for
the war in defence of his son-in-law's inheritance, the Palatinate,
which he now proposed to undertake. But it soon appeared that he was not
prepared immediately to come to blows, and the Commons, voting a small
sum as a token of their loyalty, passed to other matters. Indolent in
his temper, James had been in the habit of leaving his patronage in the
hands of a confidential favourite, and that position was now filled by
George Villiers, marquess and afterwards duke of Buckingham. The
natural consequence was that men who paid court to him were promoted,
and those who kept at a distance from him had no notice taken of their
merits. Further, a system of granting monopolies and other privileges
had again sprung up. Many of these grants embodied some scheme which was
intended to serve the interests of the public, and many actions which
appear startling to us were covered by the extreme protectionist
theories then in vogue. But abuses of every kind had clustered round
them, and in many cases the profits had gone into the pockets of
hangers-on of the court, whilst officials had given their assistance to
the grantors even beyond their legal powers. James was driven by the
outcry raised to abandon these monopolies, and an act of Parliament in
1624 placed the future grant of protections to new inventions under the
safeguard of the judges.

  Fall of Bacon.

The attack on the monopolies was followed by charges brought by the
Commons before the Lords against persons implicated in carrying them
into execution, and subsequently against Lord Chancellor Bacon as guilty
of corruption. The sentence passed by the Lords vindicated the right of
parliament to punish officials who had enjoyed the favour of the crown,
which had fallen into disuse since the accession of the house of York.
There was no open contest between parliament and king in this matter.
But the initiative of demanding justice had passed from the crown to the
Commons. It is impossible to overestimate the effect of these
proceedings on the position of parliament. The crown could never again
be regarded as the sum of the governmental system.

When the Commons met after the summer adjournment a new constitutional
question was raised. The king was at last determined to find troops for
the defence of the Palatinate, and asked the Commons for money to pay
them. They in turn petitioned the crown to abandon the Spanish alliance,
which they regarded as the source of all the mischief. James told them
that they had no right to discuss business on which he had not asked
their opinion. They declared that they were privileged to discuss any
matter relating to the commonwealth which they chose to take in hand,
and embodied their opinion in a protest, which they entered on their
journals. The king tore the protest out of the book and dissolved

Then followed a fresh call for a benevolence, this time more sparingly
answered than before. A year of fruitless diplomacy failed to save the
Palatinate from total loss. The ill-considered journey to Madrid, in
which Prince Charles, accompanied by Buckingham, hoped to wring from the
Spanish statesmen a promise to restore the Palatinate in compliment for
his marriage with the infanta, ended also in total failure. In the
autumn of 1623 Charles returned to England without a wife, and without
hope of regaining the Palatinate with Spanish aid.

  The French alliance.

He came back resolved to take vengeance upon Spain. The parliament
elected in 1624 was ready to second him. It voted some supplies on the
understanding that, when the king had matured his plans for carrying on
the war, it should come together in the autumn to vote the necessary
subsidies. It never met again. Charles had promised that, if he married
a Roman Catholic, he would grant no toleration to the English Catholics
in consideration of the marriage. In the autumn he had engaged himself
to marry Henrietta Maria, the sister of the king of France, and had
bound himself to grant the very conditions which he had declared to the
Commons that he never would concede. Hence it was that he did not
venture to recommend his father to summon parliament till the marriage
was over. But though there was but little money to dispose of, he and
Buckingham, who, now that James was sick and infirm, were the real
leaders of the government, could not endure to abstain from the
prosecution of the war. Early in 1625 an expedition, under Count
Mansfeld, was sent to Holland that it might ultimately cut its way to
the Palatinate. Left without pay and without supplies, the men perished
by thousands, and when James died in March the new king had to meet his
first parliament burthened by a broken promise and a disastrous

  Charles I. 1625-1649.

When parliament met (1625) the Commons at first contented themselves
with voting a sum of money far too small to carry on the extensive
military and naval operations in which Charles had embarked. When the
king explained his necessities, they intimated that they had no
confidence in Buckingham, and asked that, before they granted further
supply, the king would name counsellors whom they could trust to advise
him on its employment. Charles at once dissolved parliament. He knew
that the demand for ministerial responsibility would in the end involve
his own responsibility, and, believing as he did that Buckingham's
arrangements had been merely unlucky, he declined to sacrifice the
minister whom he trusted.

  The Petition of Right.

Charles and Buckingham did their best to win back popularity by
strenuous exertion. They attempted to found a great Protestant alliance
on the continent, and they sent a great expedition to Cadiz. The
Protestant alliance and the expedition to Cadiz ended in equal failure.
The second parliament of the reign (1626) impeached Buckingham for
crimes against the state. As Charles would not dismiss him simply
because the Commons were dissatisfied with him as a minister, they fell
back on charging him with criminal designs. Once more Charles dissolved
parliament to save Buckingham. Then came fresh enterprises and fresh
failures. A fleet under Lord Willoughby (afterwards earl of Lindsey) was
almost ruined by a storm. The king of Denmark, trusting to supplies from
England which never came, was defeated at Lutter. A new war in addition
to the Spanish war, broke out with France. A great expedition to Ré,
under Buckingham's command (1627), intended to succour the Huguenots of
La Rochelle against their sovereign, ended in disaster. In order to
enable himself to meet expenditure on so vast a scale, Charles had
levied a forced loan from his subjects. Men of high rank in society who
refused to pay were imprisoned. Soldiers were billeted by force in
private houses, and military officers executed martial law on civilians.
When the imprisoned gentlemen appealed to the king's bench for a writ of
_habeas corpus_, it appeared that no cause of committal had been
assigned, and the judges therefore refused to liberate them. Still
Charles believed it possible to carry on the war, and especially to send
relief to La Rochelle, now strictly blockaded by the forces of the
French crown. In order to find the means for this object he summoned his
third parliament (1628). The Commons at once proceeded to draw a line
which should cut off the possibility of a repetition of the injuries of
which they complained. Charles was willing to surrender his claims to
billet soldiers by force, to order the execution of martial law in time
of peace, and to exact forced loans, benevolences, or any kind of
taxation, without consent of parliament; but he protested against the
demand that he should surrender the right to imprison without showing
cause. It was argued on his behalf that in case of a great conspiracy it
would be necessary to trust the crown with unusual powers to enable it
to preserve the peace. The Commons, who knew that the crown had used the
powers which it claimed, not against conspirators, but against the
commonwealth itself, refused to listen to the argument, and insisted on
the acceptance of the whole Petition of Right, in which they demanded
redress for all their grievances. The king at last gave his consent to
it, as he could obtain money in no other way. In after times, when any
real danger occurred which needed a suspension of the ordinary
safeguards of liberty, a remedy was found in the suspension of the law
by act of parliament; such a remedy, however, only became possible when
king and parliament were on good terms of agreement with one another.

  Crown and parliament.

That time was as yet far distant. The House of Commons brought fresh
charges against Buckingham, whose murder soon after the prorogation
removed one subject of dispute. But when they met again (1629) they had
two quarrels left over from the preceding session. About a third part of
the king's revenue was derived from customs duties which had for many
generations been granted by parliament to each sovereign for life.
Charles held that this grant was little more than a matter of form,
whilst the Commons held that it was a matter of right. But for the other
dispute the difficulty would probably have been got over. The strong
Protestantism of Elizabeth's reign had assumed a distinctly Calvinistic
form, and the country gentlemen who formed the majority of the House of
Commons were resolutely determined that no other theology than that of
Calvin should be taught in England. In the last few years a reaction
against it had arisen especially in the universities, and those who
adopted an unpopular creed, and who at the same time showed tendencies
to a more ceremonial form of worship, naturally fell back on the support
of the crown. Charles, who might reasonably have exerted himself to
secure a fair liberty for all opinions, promoted these unpopular divines
to bishoprics and livings, and the divines in turn exalted the royal
prerogative above parliamentary rights. He now proposed that both sides
should keep silence on the points in dispute. The Commons rejected his
scheme, and prepared to call in question the most obnoxious of the
clergy. In this irritated temper they took up the question of tonnage
and poundage, and instead of confining themselves to the great public
question, they called to the bar some custom-house officers who happened
to have seized the goods of one of their members. Charles declared that
the seizure had taken place by his orders. When they refused to accept
the excuse, he dissolved parliament, but not before a tumult took place
in the House, and the speaker was forcibly held down in his chair whilst
resolutions hostile to the government were put to the vote.

For eleven years no parliament met again. The extreme action of the
Lower House was not supported by the people, and the king had the
opportunity, if he chose to use it, of putting himself right with the
nation after no long delay. But he never understood that power only
attends sympathetic leadership. He contented himself with putting
himself technically in the right, and with resting his case on the
favourable decisions of the judges. Under any circumstances, neither the
training nor the position of judges is such as to make them fit to be
the final arbiters of political disputes. They are accustomed to declare
what the law is, not what it ought to be. These judges, moreover, were
not in the position to be impartial. They had been selected by the king,
and were liable to be deprived of their office when he saw fit. In the
course of Charles's reign two chief justices and one chief baron were
dismissed or suspended. Besides the ordinary judges there were the
extraordinary tribunals, the court of high commission nominated by the
crown to punish ecclesiastical offenders, and the court of star chamber,
composed of the privy councillors and the chief justices, and therefore
also nominated by the crown, to inflict fine, imprisonment, and even
corporal mutilation on lay offenders. Those who rose up in any way
against the established order were sharply punished.


The harsh treatment of individuals only calls forth resistance when
constitutional morality has sunk deeply into the popular mind. The
ignoring of the feelings and prejudices of large classes has a deeper
effect. Charles's foreign policy, and his pretentious claim to the
sovereignty of the British seas, demanded the support of a fleet, which
might indeed be turned to good purpose in offering a counterpoise to the
growing navies of France and Holland. The increasing estrangement
between him and the nation made him averse from the natural remedy of a
parliament, and he reverted to the absolute practices of the middle
ages, in order that he might strain them far beyond the warrant of
precedent to levy a tax under the name of ship-money, first on the port
towns and then on the whole of England. Payment was resisted by John
Hampden, a Buckinghamshire squire; but the judges declared that the king
was in the right (1638). Yet the arguments used by Hampden's lawyers
sunk deeply into the popular mind, and almost every man in England who
was called on to pay the tax looked upon the king as a wrong-doer under
the forms of law.

  The Church.

In his ecclesiastical policy Charles was equally out of touch with the
feelings of his people. He shared to the full his father's dislike and
distrust of the Puritans, and he supported with the whole weight of the
crown the attempt of William Laud (q.v.), since 1633 archbishop of
Canterbury, to enforce conformity to the ritual prescribed by the Prayer
Book. At the same time offence was given to the Puritans by an order
that every clergyman should read the Declaration of Sports, in which the
king directed that no one should be prevented from dancing or shooting
at the butts on Sunday afternoon. Many of the clergy were suspended or
deprived, many emigrated to Holland or New England, and of those who
remained a large part bore the yoke with feelings of ill-concealed
dissatisfaction. Suspicion was easily aroused that a deep plot existed,
of which Laud was believed to be the centre, for carrying the nation
over to the Church of Rome, a suspicion which seemed to be converted
into a certainty when it was known that Panzani and Conn, two agents of
the pope, had access to Charles, and that in 1637 there was a sudden
accession to the number of converts to the Roman Catholic Church amongst
the lords and ladies of the court.

  Charles and Scotland.

In the summer of 1638 Charles had long ceased to reign in the affections
of his subjects. But their traditionary loyalty had not yet failed, and
if he had not called on them for fresh exertions, it is possible that
the coming revolution would have been long delayed. Men were ready to
shout applause in honour of Puritan martyrs like Prynne, Burton and
Bastwick, whose ears were cut off in 1637, or in honour of the lawyers
who argued such a case as that of Hampden. But no signs of active
resistance had yet appeared. Unluckily for Charles, he was likely to
stand in need of the active co-operation of Englishmen. He had attempted
to force a new Prayer Book upon the Scottish nation. A riot at Edinburgh
in 1637 quickly led to national resistance, and when in November 1638
the general assembly at Glasgow set Charles's orders at defiance, he was
compelled to choose between tame submission and immediate war. In 1639
he gathered an English force, and marched towards the border. But
English laymen, though asked to supply the money which he needed for the
support of his army, deliberately kept it in their pockets, and the
contributions of the clergy and of official persons were not sufficient
to enable him to keep his troops long in the field. The king, therefore,
thought it best to agree to terms of pacification. Misunderstandings
broke out as to the interpretation of the treaty, and Charles having
discovered that the Scots were intriguing with France, fancied that
England, in hatred of its ancient foe, would now be ready to rally to
his standard. After an interval of eleven years, in April 1640 he once
more called a parliament.

  The Short Parliament.

  The Scottish invasion.

The Short Parliament, as it was called, demanded redress of grievances,
the abandonment of the claim to levy ship-money, and a complete change
in the ecclesiastical system. Charles thought that it would not be worth
while even to conquer Scotland on such terms, and dissolved parliament.
A fresh war with Scotland followed. Wentworth, now earl of Strafford,
became the leading adviser of the king. With all the energy of his
disposition he threw himself into Charles's plans, and left no stone
unturned to furnish the new expedition with supplies and money. But no
skilfulness of a commander can avail when soldiers are determined not to
fight. The Scots crossed the Tweed, and Charles's army was well pleased
to fly before them. In a short time the whole of Northumberland and
Durham were in the hands of the invaders. Charles was obliged to leave
these two counties in their hands as a pledge for the payment of their
expenses; and he was also obliged to summon parliament to grant him the
supplies which he needed for that object.

  The Long Parliament.

  Attainder of Strafford.

When the Long Parliament met in November 1640 it was in a position in
which no parliament had been before. Though nominally the Houses did not
command a single soldier, they had in reality the whole Scottish army at
their back. By refusing supplies they would put it out of the king's
power to fulfil his engagements to that army, and it would immediately
pursue its onward march to claim its rights. Hence there was scarcely
anything which the king could venture to deny the Commons. Under Pym's
leadership, they began by asking the head of Strafford. Nominally he was
accused of a number of acts of oppression in the north of England and in
Ireland. His real offence lay in his attempt to make the king absolute,
and in the design with which he was credited of intending to bring over
an Irish army to crush the liberties of England. If he had been a man of
moderate abilities he might have escaped. But the Commons feared his
commanding genius too much to let him go free. They began with an
impeachment. Difficulties arose, and the impeachment was turned into a
bill of attainder. The king abandoned his minister, and the execution of
Strafford left Charles without a single man of supreme ability on his
side. Then came rapidly a succession of blows at the supports by which
the Tudor monarchy had been upheld. The courts of star chamber and high
commission and the council of the north were abolished. The raising of
tonnage and poundage without a parliamentary grant was declared illegal.
The judges who had given obnoxious decisions were called to answer for
their fault and were taught that they were responsible to the House of
Commons as well as the king. Finally a bill was passed providing that
the existing House should not be dissolved without its own consent.

It was clearly a revolutionary position which the House had assumed. But
it was assumed because it was impossible to expect that a king who had
ruled as Charles had ruled could take up a new position as the exponent
of the feelings which were represented in the Commons. As long as
Charles lived he could not be otherwise than an object of suspicion; and
yet if he were dethroned there was no one available to fill his place.
There arose therefore two parties in the House, one ready to trust the
king, the other disinclined to put any confidence in him at all. The
division was the sharper because it coincided with a difference in
matters of religion. Scarcely any one wished to see the Laudian
ceremonies upheld. But the members who favoured the king, and who formed
a considerable minority, wished to see a certain liberty of religious
thought, together with a return under a modified Episcopacy to the forms
of worship which prevailed before Laud had taken the church in hand. The
other side, which had the majority by a few votes, wished to see the
Puritan creed prevail in all its strictness, and were favourable to the
establishment of the Presbyterian discipline. The king by his unwise
action threw power into the hands of his opponents. He listened with
tolerable calmness to their Grand Remonstrance, but his attempt to seize
the five members whom he accused of high treason made a good
understanding impossible. The Scottish army had been paid off some
months before, and civil war was the only means of deciding the quarrel.

  The civil war.

  Presbyterians and Independents.

At first the fortune of war wavered. Edgehill was a drawn battle (1642),
and the campaign of 1643, though it was on the whole favourable to the
king, gave no decisive results. Before the year was at an end parliament
invited a new Scottish army to intervene in England. As an inducement,
the Solemn League and Covenant was signed by all Parliamentarian
Englishmen, the terms of which were interpreted by the Scots to bind
England to submit to Presbyterianism, though the most important clauses
had been purposely left vague, so as to afford a loophole of escape. The
battle of Marston Moor, with the defeat of the Royalist forces in the
north, was the result. But the battle did not improve the position of
the Scots. They had been repulsed, and the victory was justly ascribed
to the English contingent. The composition of that contingent was such
as to have a special political significance. Its leader was Oliver
Cromwell. It was formed by men who were fierce Puritan enthusiasts, and
who for the very reason that the intensity of their religion separated
them from the mass of their countrymen, had learnt to uphold with all
the energy of zeal the doctrine that neither church nor state had a
right to interfere with the forms of worship which each congregation
might select for itself (see CONGREGATIONALISM and CROMWELL, OLIVER).
The principle advocated by the army, and opposed by the Scots and the
majority of the House of Commons, was liberty of sectarian association.
Some years earlier, under the dominion of Laud, another principle had
been proclaimed by Chillingworth and Hales, that of liberty of thought
within the unity of the church. Both these movements conduced to the
ultimate establishment of toleration, but for the present the
Independents were to have their way.

  The second civil war.

  Execution of the king.

The Presbyterian leaders, Essex and Manchester, were not successful
leaders. The army was remodelled after Cromwell's pattern, and the king
was finally crushed at Naseby (1645). The next year (1646) he
surrendered to the Scots. Then followed two years of fruitless
negotiation, in which after the Scots abandoned the king to the English
parliament, the army took him out of the hands of the parliament, whilst
each in turn tried to find some basis of arrangement on which he might
reign without ruling. Such a basis could not be found, and when Charles
stirred up a fresh civil war and a Scottish invasion (1648) the leaders
of the army vowed that, if victory was theirs, they would bring him to
justice. To do this it was necessary to drive out a large number of the
members of the House of Commons by what was known as Pride's Purge, and
to obtain from the mutilated Commons the dismissal of the House of
Lords, and the establishment of a high court of justice, before which
the king was brought to trial and sentenced to death. He was beheaded on
a scaffold outside the windows of Whitehall (1649).[5]

  The Commonwealth.

  Cromwell's protectorate.

The government set up was a government by the committees of a council of
state nominally supporting themselves on the House of Commons, though
the members who still retained their places were so few that the council
of state was sufficiently numerous to form a majority in the House.
During eleven years the nation passed through many vicissitudes in its
forms of government. These forms take no place in the gradual
development of English institutions, and have never been referred to as
affording precedents to be followed. To the student of political
science, however, they have a special interest of their own, as they
show that when men had shaken themselves loose from the chain of habit
and prejudice, and had set themselves to build up a political shelter
under which to dwell, they were irresistibly attracted by that which was
permanent in the old constitutional forms of which the special
development had of late years been so disastrous. After Cromwell had
suppressed resistance in Ireland (1649), had conquered Scotland (1650),
and had overthrown the son of the late king, the future Charles II., at
Worcester (1651), the value of government by an assembly was tested and
found wanting. After Cromwell had expelled the remains of the Long
Parliament (1653), and had set up another assembly of nominated members,
that second experiment was found equally wanting. It was necessary to
have recourse to one head of the executive government, controlling and
directing its actions. Cromwell occupied this position as lord
protector. He did all that was in his power to do to prevent his
authority from degenerating into tyranny. He summoned two parliaments,
of only one House, and with the consent of the second parliament he
erected a second House, so that he might have some means of checking the
Lower House without constantly coming into personal collision with its
authority. As far as form went, the constitution in 1658, so far as it
differed from the Stuart constitution, differed for the better. But it
suffered from one fatal defect. It was based on the rule of the sword.
The only substitute for traditional authority is the clearly expressed
expression of the national will, and it is impossible to doubt that if
the national will had been expressed it would have swept away Cromwell
and all his system. The majority of the upper and middle classes, which
had united together against Laud, was now reunited against Cromwell. The
Puritans themselves were but a minority, and of that minority
considerable numbers disliked the free liberty accorded to the sects.
Whilst the worship of the Church of England was proscribed, every
illiterate or frenzied enthusiast was allowed to harangue at his
pleasure. Those who cared little for religion felt insulted when they
saw a government with which they had no sympathy ruling by means of an
army which they dreaded and detested. Cromwell did his best to avert a
social revolution, and to direct the energies of his supporters into the
channels of merely political change. But he could not prevent, and it
cannot be said that he wished to prevent, the rise of men of ability
from positions of social inferiority. The nation had striven against the
arbitrary government of the king; but it was not prepared to shake off
the predominance of that widely spreading aristocracy which, under the
name of country gentlemen, had rooted itself too deeply to be easily
passed by. Cromwell's rule was covered with military glory, and there
can be no doubt that he honestly applied himself to solve domestic
difficulties as well. But he reaped the reward of those who strive for
something better than the generation in which they live is able to
appreciate. His own faults and errors were remembered against him. He
tried in vain to establish constitutional government and religious
toleration (see CROMWELL, OLIVER). When he died (1658) there remained
branded on the national mind two strong impressions which it took more
than a century to obliterate--the dread of the domination of a standing
army, and abhorrence of the very name of religious zeal.

  The anarchy.

The eighteen months which followed deepened the impression thus formed.
The army had appeared a hard master when it lent its strength to a wise
and sagacious rule. It was worse when it undertook to rule in its own
name, to set up and pull down parliaments and governments. The only
choice left to the nation seemed to be one between military tyranny and
military anarchy. Therefore it was that when Monk advanced from Scotland
and declared for a free parliament, there was little doubt that the new
parliament would recall the exiled king, and seek to build again on the
old foundations.

  The Restoration.

The Restoration was effected by a coalition between the Cavaliers, or
followers of Charles I., and the Presbyterians who had originally
opposed him. It was only after the nature of a great reaction that the
latter should for a time be swamped by the former. The Long Parliament
of the Restoration met in 1661, and the Act of Uniformity entirely
excluded all idea of reform in the Puritan direction, and ordered the
expulsion from their benefices of all clergymen who refused to express
approval of the whole of the Book of Common Prayer (1662). A previous
statute, the Corporation Act (1661), ordered that all members of
corporations should renounce the Covenant and the doctrine that subjects
might in any case rightfully use force against their king, and should
receive the sacrament after the forms of the Church of England. The
object for which Laud had striven, the compulsory imposition of
uniformity, thus became part of the law of the land.

Herein lay the novelty of the system of the Restoration. The system of
Laud and the system of Cromwell had both been imposed by a minority
which had possessed itself of the powers of government. The new
uniformity was imposed by parliament, and parliament had the nation
behind it. For the first time, therefore, all those who objected to the
established religion sought, not to alter its forms to suit themselves,
but to gain permission to worship in separate congregations. Ultimately,
the dissenters, as they began to be called, would obtain their object.
As soon as it became clear to the mass of the nation that the dissenters
were in a decided minority, there would be no reason to fear the utmost
they could do even if the present liberty of worship and teaching were
conceded to them. For the present, however, they were feared out of all
proportion to their numbers. They counted amongst them the old soldiers
of the Protectorate, and though that army had been dissolved, it always
seemed possible that it might spring to arms once more. A bitter
experience had taught men that a hundred of Oliver's Ironsides might
easily chase a thousand Cavaliers; and as long as this danger was
believed to exist, every effort would be made to keep dissent from
spreading. Hence the Conventicle Act (1664) imposed penalties on those
taking part in religious meetings in private houses, and the Five Mile
Act (1665) forbade an expelled clergyman to come within five miles of a
corporate borough, the very place where he was most likely to secure
adherence, unless he would swear his adhesion to the doctrine of

  Doctrine of non-resistance.

  The first Dutch war.

The doctrine of non-resistance was evidently that by which, at this
time, the loyal subject was distinguished from those whom he stigmatized
as disloyal. Yet even the most loyal found that, if it was wrong to take
up arms against the king, it might be right to oppose him in other ways.
Even the Cavaliers did not wish to see Charles II. an absolute
sovereign. They wished to reconstruct the system which had been
violently interrupted by the events of the autumn of 1641, and to found
government on the co-operation between king and parliament, without
defining to themselves what was to be done if the king's conduct became
insufferable. Openly, indeed, Charles II. did not force them to
reconsider their position. He did not thrust members of the Commons into
prison, or issue writs for ship-money. He laid no claim to taxation
which had not been granted by parliament. But he was extravagant and
self-indulgent, and he wanted more money than they were willing to
supply. A war with the Dutch broke out, and there were strong suspicions
that Charles applied money voted for the fleet to the maintenance of a
vicious and luxurious court. Against the vice and luxury, indeed, little
objection was likely to be brought. The over-haste of the Puritans to
drill England into ways of morality and virtue had thrown at least the
upper classes into a slough of revelry and baseness. But if the vice did
not appear objectionable the expense did, and a new chapter in the
financial history of the government was opened when the Commons, having
previously gained control over taxation, proceeded to vindicate their
right to control expenditure.

  The Commons aim at control over expenditure.

As far, indeed, as taxation was concerned, the Long Parliament had not
left its successor much to do. The abolition of feudal tenures and
purveyance had long been demanded, and the conclusion of an arrangement
which had been mooted in the reign of James I. is only notable as
affording one instance out of many of the tendency of a single class to
shift burdens off its own shoulders. The predominant landowners
preferred the grant of an excise, which would be taken out of all
pockets, to a land-tax which would exclusively be felt by those who were
relieved by the abolition of the tenures. The question of expenditure
was constantly telling on the relations between the king and the House
of Commons. After the Puritan army had been disbanded, the king resolved
to keep on foot a petty force of 5000 men, and he had much difficulty in
providing for it out of a revenue which had not been intended by those
who voted it to be used for such a purpose. Then came the Dutch war,
bringing with it a suspicion that some at least of the money given for
paying sailors and fitting out ships was employed by Charles on very
different objects. The Commons accordingly, in 1665, succeeded in
enforcing, on precedents derived from the reigns of Richard II. and
Henry IV., the right of appropriating the supplies granted to special
objects; and with more difficulty they obtained, in 1666, the
appointment of a commission empowered to investigate irregularities in
the issue of moneys. Such measures were the complement of the control
over taxation which they had previously gained, and as far as their
power of supervision went, it constituted them and not the king the
directors of the course of government. If this result was not
immediately felt, it was because the king had a large certain revenue
voted to him for life, so that, for the present at least, it was only
his extraordinary expenses which could be brought under parliamentary
control. Nor did even the renewal of parliamentary impeachment, which
ended in the banishment of Lord Chancellor Clarendon (1667), bring on
any direct collision with the king. If the Commons wished to be rid of
him because he upheld the prerogative, the king was equally desirous to
be rid of him because he looked coldly on the looseness of the royal

  Charles II. and Louis XIV.

The great motive power of the later politics of the reign was to be
found beyond the Channel. To the men of the days of Charles II., Louis
XIV. of France was what Philip II. of Spain had been to the men of the
days of Elizabeth. Gradually, in foreign policy, the commercial
emulation with the Dutch, which found vent in one war in the time of the
Commonwealth, and in two wars in the time of Charles II., gave way to a
dread, rising into hatred, of the arrogant potentate who, at the head of
the mightiest army in Europe, treated with contempt all rights which
came into collision with his own wishes. Louis XIV., moreover, though
prepared to quarrel with the pope in the matter of his own authority
over the Gallican Church, was a bigoted upholder of Catholic orthodoxy,
and Protestants saw in his political ambitions a menace to their
religion. In the case of England there seemed a special danger to
Protestantism; for whatever religious sympathies Charles II. possessed
were with the Roman Catholic faith, and in his annoyance at the
interference of the Commons with his expenditure he was not ashamed to
stoop to become the pensioner of the French king. In 1670 the secret
treaty of Dover was signed. Charles was to receive from Louis £200,000 a
year and the aid of 6000 French troops to enable him to declare himself
a convert, and to obtain special advantages for his religion, whilst he
was also to place the forces of England at Louis's disposal for his
purposes of aggression on the continent of Europe.

  Second Dutch war, and declaration of indulgence.

Charles had no difficulty in stirring up the commercial jealousy of
England so as to bring about a second Dutch war (1672). The next year,
unwilling to face the dangers of his larger plan, he issued a
declaration of indulgence, which, by a single act of the prerogative,
suspended all penal laws against Roman Catholics and dissenters alike.
To the country gentlemen who constituted the cavalier parliament, and
who had long been drifting into opposition to the crown, this was
intolerable. The predominance of the Church of England was the prime
article of their political creed; they dreaded the Roman Catholics; they
hated and despised the dissenters. Under any circumstances an indulgence
would have been most distasteful to them. But the growing belief that
the whole scheme was merely intended to serve the purposes of the Roman
Catholics converted their dislike into deadly opposition. Yet the
parliament resolved to base its opposition upon constitutional grounds.
The right claimed by the king to suspend the laws was questioned, and
his claim to special authority in ecclesiastical matters was treated
with contempt. The king gave way and withdrew his declaration. But no
solemn act of parliament declared it to be illegal, and in due course of
time it would be heard of again.

  The Test Act.

The Commons followed up their blow by passing the Test Act, making the
reception of the sacrament according to the forms of the Church of
England, and the renunciation of the doctrine of transubstantiation, a
necessary qualification for office. At once it appeared what a hold the
members of the obnoxious church had had upon the administration of the
state. The lord high admiral, the lord treasurer, and a secretary of
state refused to take the test. The lord high admiral was the heir to
the throne, the king's brother, the duke of York.

  Danby's ministry.

  The Popish plot.

Charles, as usual, bent before the storm. In Danby (see LEEDS, 1ST DUKE
OF) he found a minister whose views answered precisely to the views of
the existing House of Commons. Like the Commons, Danby wished to silence
both Roman Catholics and dissenters. Like the Commons, too, he wished to
embark on a foreign policy hostile to France. But he served a master who
regarded Louis less as a possible adversary than as a possible
paymaster. Sometimes Danby was allowed to do as he liked, and the
marriage of the duke of York's eldest daughter Mary to her cousin the
prince of Orange was the most lasting result of his administration. More
often he was obliged to follow where Charles led, and Charles was
constantly ready to sell the neutrality of England for large sums of
French gold. At last one of these negotiations was detected, and Danby,
who was supposed to be the author instead of the unwilling instrument of
the intrigue, was impeached. In order to save his minister, Charles
dissolved parliament (1678). He could not have chosen a more unlucky
time for his own quiet. The strong feeling against the Roman Catholics
had been quickened into a flame by a great imposture. The inventors of
the so-called popish plot charged the leading English Roman Catholics
with a design to murder the king. Judges and juries alike were maddened
with excitement, and listened greedily to the lies which poured forth
from the lips of profligate informers. Innocent blood was shed in

  The Exclusion Bill.

The excitement had its root in the uneasy feeling caused by the
knowledge that the heir to the throne was a Roman Catholic. Three
parliaments were summoned and dissolved. In each parliament the main
question at issue between the Commons and the crown was the Exclusion
Bill, by which the Commons sought to deprive the duke of York of his
inheritance; and it was notorious that the leaders of the movement
wished the crown to descend to the king's illegitimate son, the duke of

  Whigs and Tories.

The principles by which the Commons were guided in these parliaments
were very different from those which had prevailed in the first
parliament of the Restoration. Those principles, to which that party
adhered which about this time became known as the Tory party, had been
formed under the influence of the terror caused by militant Puritanism.
In the state the Tory inherited the ideas of Clarendon, and, without
being at all ready to abandon the claims of parliaments, nevertheless
somewhat inconsistently spoke of the king as ruling by a divine and
indefeasible title, and wielding a power which it was both impious and
unconstitutional to resist by force. In the church he inherited the
ideas of Laud, and saw in the maintenance of the Act of Uniformity the
safeguard of religion. But the hold of these opinions on the nation had
been weakened with the cessation of the causes which had produced them.
In 1680 twenty years had passed since the Puritan army had been
disbanded. Many of Cromwell's soldiers had died, and most of them were
growing old. The dissenters had shown no signs of engaging in plots or
conspiracies. They were known to be only a comparatively small minority
of the population, and though they had been cruelly persecuted, they had
suffered without a thought of resistance. Dread of the dissenters,
therefore, had become a mere chimaera, which only those could entertain
whose minds were influenced by prejudice. On the other hand, dread of
the Roman Catholics was a living force. Unless the law were altered a
Roman Catholic would be on the throne, wielding all the resources of the
prerogative, and probably supported by all the resources of the king of
France. Hence the leading principle of the Whigs, as the predominant
party was now called, was in the state to seek for the highest national
authority in parliament rather than in the king, and in the church to
adopt the rational theology of Chillingworth and Hales, whilst looking
to the dissenters as allies against the Roman Catholics, who were the
enemies of both.

  Tory reaction.

Events were to show that it was a wise provision which led the Whigs to
seek to exclude the duke of York from the throne. But their plan
suffered under two faults, the conjunction of which was ruinous to them
for the time. In the first place, their choice of Monmouth as the heir
was infelicitous. Not only was he under the stain of illegitimacy, but
his succession excluded the future succession of Mary, whose husband,
the prince of Orange, was the hope of Protestant Europe. In the second
place, drastic remedies are never generally acceptable when the evil to
be remedied is still in the future. When, in the third of the short
parliaments held at Oxford the Whigs rode armed into the city, the
nation decided that the future danger of a Roman Catholic succession was
incomparably less than the immediate danger of another civil war. Loyal
addresses poured in to the king. For the four remaining years of his
reign he ruled without summoning any parliament. Whigs were brought
before prejudiced juries and partial judges. Their blood flowed on the
scaffold. The charter of the city of London was confiscated. The reign
of the Tories was unquestioned. Yet it was not quite what the reign of
the Cavaliers had been in 1660. The violence of the Restoration had been
directed primarily against Puritanism, and only against certain forms of
government so far as they allowed Puritans to gain the upper hand. The
violence of the Tories was directed against rebellion and disorder, and
only against dissenters so far as they were believed to be the fomenters
of disorder. Religious hatred had less part in the action of the ruling
party, and even from its worst actions a wise man might have predicted
that the day of toleration was not so far off as it seemed.

  James II., 1685-1688.

The accession of James II. (1685) put the views of the opponents of the
Exclusion Bill to the test. A new parliament was elected, almost
entirely composed of decided Tories. A rebellion in Scotland, headed by
the earl of Argyll, and a rebellion in England, headed by the duke of
Monmouth, were easily suppressed. But the inherent difficulties of the
king's position were not thereby overcome. It would have been hard, in
days in which religious questions occupied so large a space in the field
of politics, for a Roman Catholic sovereign to rule successfully over a
Protestant nation. James set himself to make it, in his case,
impossible. It may be that he did not consciously present to himself any
object other than fair treatment for his co-religionists. On the one
hand, however, he alienated even reasonable opponents by offering no
guarantees that equality so gained would not be converted into
superiority by the aid of his own military force and of the assistance
of the French king; whilst on the other hand he relied, even more
strongly than his father had done, on the technical legality which
exalted the prerogative in defiance of the spirit of the law. He began
by making use of the necessity of resisting Monmouth to increase his
army, under the pretext of the danger of a repetition of the late
rebellion; and in the regiments thus levied he appointed many Roman
Catholic officers who had refused to comply with the Test Act. Rather
than submit to the gentlest remonstrance, he prorogued parliament, and
proceeded to obtain from the court of king's bench a judgment in favour
of his right to dispense with all penalties due by law, in the same way
that his grandfather had appealed to the judges in the matter of the
post-nati. But not only was the question put by James II. of far wider
import than the question put by James I., but he deprived the court to
which he applied of all moral authority by previously turning out of
office the judges who were likely to disagree with him, and by
appointing new ones who were likely to agree with him. A court of high
commission of doubtful legality was subsequently erected (1686) to
deprive or suspend clergymen who made themselves obnoxious to the court,
whilst James appointed Roman Catholics to the headship of certain
colleges at Oxford. The legal support given him by judges of his own
selection was fortified by the military support of an army collected at
Hounslow Heath; and a Roman Catholic, the earl of Tyrconnel, was sent as
lord-deputy to Ireland (1687) to organize a Roman Catholic army on which
the king might fall back if his English forces proved insufficient for
his purpose.

  James's declaration of indulgence.

  Trial of the seven bishops.

Thus fortified, James issued a declaration of indulgence (1687) granting
full religious liberty to all his subjects. The belief, that the grant
of liberty to all religions was only intended to serve as a cloak for
the ascendancy of one, was so strong that the measure roused the
opposition of all those who objected to see the king's will substituted
for the law, even if they wished to see the Protestant dissenters
tolerated. In spite of this opposition, the king thought it possible to
obtain a parliamentary sanction for his declaration. The parliament to
which he intended to appeal was, however, to be as different a body from
the parliament which met in the first year of his reign as the bench of
judges which had approved of the dispensing power had been different
from the bench which existed at his accession. A large number of the
borough members were in those days returned by the corporations, and
the corporations were accordingly changed. But so thoroughly was the
spirit of the country roused, that many even of the new corporations
were set against James's declaration, and he had therefore to abandon
for a time the hope of seeing it accepted even by a packed House of
Commons. All, however, that he could do to give it force he did. He
ordered the clergy to read it in all pulpits (1688). Seven bishops, who
presented a petition asking him to relieve the clergy from the burthen
of proclaiming what they believed to be illegal, were brought to trial
for publishing a seditious libel. Their acquittal by a jury was the
first serious blow to the system adopted by the king.

  Revolution of 1688.

Another event which seemed likely to consolidate his power was in
reality the signal of his ruin. The queen bore him a son. There was thus
no longer a strong probability that the king would be succeeded at no
great distance of time by a Protestant heir. Popular incredulity
expressed itself in the assertion that, as James had attempted to gain
his ends by means of a packed bench of judges and a packed House of
Commons, he had now capped the series of falsifications by the
production of a supposititious heir. The leaders of both parties
combined to invite the prince of Orange to come to the rescue of the
religion and laws of England. He landed on the 5th of November at
Brixham. Before he could reach London every class of English society had
declared in his favour. James was deserted even by his army. He fled to
France, and a convention parliament, summoned without the royal writ,
declared that his flight was equivalent to abdication, and offered the
crown in joint sovereignty to William and Mary (1689).


  William III. and Mary II., 1689.

The Revolution, as it was called, was more than a mere change of
sovereigns. It finally transferred the ultimate decision in the state
from the king to parliament. What parliament had been in the 15th
century with the House of Lords predominating, that parliament was to be
again in the end of the 17th century with the House of Commons
predominating. That House of Commons was far from resting on a wide
basis of popular suffrage. The county voters were the freeholders; but
in the towns, with some important exceptions, the electors were the
richer inhabitants who formed the corporations of the boroughs, or a
body of select householders more or less under the control of some
neighbouring landowner. A House so chosen was an aristocratic body, but
it was aristocratic in a far wider sense than the House of Lords was
aristocratic. The trading and legal classes found their representation
there by the side of the great owners of land. The House drew its
strength from its position as a true representative of the effective
strength of the nation in its social and economical organization.

Such was the body which firmly grasped the control over every branch of
the administration. Limiting in the Bill of Rights the powers assumed by
the crown, the Commons declared that the king could not keep a standing
army in time of peace without consent of parliament; and they made that
consent effectual, as far as legislation could go, by passing a Mutiny
Act year by year for twelve months only, so as to prevent the crown from
exercising military discipline without their authority. Behind these
legal contrivances stood the fact that the army was organized in the
same way as the nation was organized, being officered by gentlemen who
had no desire to overthrow a constitution through which the class from
which they sprung controlled the government. Strengthened by the
cessation of any fear of military violence, the Commons placed the crown
in financial dependence on themselves by granting a large part of the
revenue only for a limited term of years, and by putting strictly in
force their right of appropriating that revenue to special branches of

  Causes in favour of liberty.

  The Toleration Act.

Such a revolution might have ended in the substitution of the despotism
of a class for the despotism of a man. Many causes combined to prevent
this result. The landowners, who formed the majority of the House, were
not elected directly, as was the case with the nobility of the French
states-general, by their own class, but by electors who, though
generally loyal to them, would have broken off from them if they had
attempted to make themselves masters of their fellow citizens. No less
important was the almost absolute independence of the judges, begun at
the beginning of the reign, by the grant of office to them during good
behaviour instead of during the king's pleasure, and finally secured by
the clause in the Act of Settlement in 1701, which protected them
against dismissal except on the joint address of both Houses of
Parliament. Such an improvement, however, finds its full counterpart in
another great step already taken. The more representative a government
becomes, the more necessary it is for the well-being of the nation that
the expression of individual thought should be free in every direction.
If it is not so, the government is inclined to proscribe unpopular
opinion, and to forget that new opinions by which the greatest benefits
are likely to be conferred are certain at first to be entertained by a
very few, and are quite certain to be unpopular as soon as they come
into collision with the opinions of the majority. In the middle ages the
benefits of the liberation of thought from state control had been
secured by the antagonism between church and state. The Tudor sovereigns
had rightfully asserted the principle that in a well-ordered nation only
one supreme power can be allowed to exist; but in so doing they had
enslaved religion. It was fortunate that, just at the moment when
parliamentary control was established over the state, circumstances
should have arisen which made the majority ready to restore to the
individual conscience that supremacy over religion which the medieval
ecclesiastics had claimed for the corporation of the universal church.
Dissenters had, in the main, stood shoulder to shoulder with churchmen
in rejecting the suspicious benefits of James, and both gratitude and
policy forbade the thought of replacing them under the heavy yoke which
had been imposed on them at the Restoration. The exact mode in which
relief should be afforded was still an open question. The idea prevalent
with the more liberal minds amongst the clergy was that of
comprehension--that is to say, of so modifying the prayers and
ceremonies of the church as to enable the dissenters cheerfully to enter
in. The scheme was one which had approved itself to minds of the highest
order--to Sir Thomas More, to Bacon, to Hales and to Jeremy Taylor. It
is one which, as long as beliefs are not very divergent, keeps up a
sense of brotherhood overruling the diversity of opinion. It broke down,
as it always will break down in practice, whenever the difference of
belief is so strongly felt as to seek earnestly to embody itself in
diversity of outward practice. The greater part of the clergy of the
church felt that to surrender their accustomed formularies was to
surrender somewhat of the belief which those formularies signified,
while the dissenting clergy were equally reluctant to adopt the common
prayer book even in a modified form. Hence the Toleration Act, which
guaranteed the right of separate assemblies for worship outside the pale
of the church, though it embodied the principles of Cromwell and Milton,
and not those of Chillingworth and Hales, was carried without
difficulty, whilst the proposed scheme of comprehension never had a
chance of success (1689). The choice was one which posterity can
heartily approve. However wide the limits of toleration be drawn, there
will always be those who will be left outside. By religious liberty
those inside gain as much as those who are without. From the moment of
the passing of the Toleration Act, no Protestant in England performed
any act of worship except by his own free and deliberate choice. The
literary spokesman of the new system was Locke. His _Letters concerning
Toleration_ laid down the principle which had been maintained by
Cromwell, with a wider application than was possible in days when the
state was in the hands of a mere minority only able to maintain itself
in power by constant and suspicious vigilance.

One measure remained to place the dissenters in the position of full
membership of the state. The Test Act excluded them from office. But
the memory of the high-handed proceedings of Puritan rulers was still
too recent to allow Englishmen to run the risk of a reimposition of
their yoke, and this feeling, fanciful as it was, was sufficient to keep
the Test Act in force for years to come.

  Liberty of the press.

The complement of the Toleration Act was the abolition of the censorship
of the press (1695). The ideas of the author of the _Areopagitica_ had
at last prevailed. The attempt to fix certain opinions on the nation
which were pleasing to those in power was abandoned by king and
parliament alike. The nation, or at least so much of it as cared to read
books or pamphlets on political subjects, was acknowledged to be the
supreme judge, which must therefore be allowed to listen to what
counsellors it pleased.

This new position of the nation made itself felt in various ways. It was
William's merit that, fond as he was of power, he recognized the fact
that he could not rule except so far as he carried the goodwill of the
nation with him. No doubt he was helped to an intelligent perception of
the new situation by the fact that, as a foreigner, he cared far more
for carrying on war successfully against France than for influencing the
domestic legislation of a country which was not his own, and by the
knowledge that the conduct of the struggle which lasted till he was able
to treat with France on equal terms at Ryswick (1697) was fairly trusted
to his hands. Nevertheless these years of war called for the united
action of a national government, and in seeking to gain this support for
himself, he hit upon an expedient which opened a new era in
constitutional politics.

  Beginning of cabinet government.

The supremacy of the House of Commons would have been an evil of no
common magnitude, if it had made government impossible. Yet this was
precisely what it threatened to do. Sometimes the dominant party in the
House pressed with unscrupulous rancour upon its opponents. Sometimes
the majority shifted from side to side as the House was influenced by
passing gusts of passion or sympathy, so that, as it was said at the
time, no man could foretell one day what the House would be pleased to
do on the next. Against the first of these dangers William was to a
great extent able to guard by the exercise of his right of dissolution,
so as to appeal to the constituencies, which did not always share in the
the passions of their representatives. But the second danger could not
be met in this way. The only cure for waywardness is responsibility, and
not only was this precisely what the Commons had not learned to feel,
but it was that which it was impossible to make them feel directly. A
body composed of several hundred members cannot carry on government with
the requisite steadiness of action and clearness of insight. Such work
can only fitly be entrusted to a few, and whenever difficult
circumstances arise it is necessary that the action of those few be kept
in harmony by the predominance of one. The scheme on which William hit,
by the advice of the earl of Sunderland, was that which has since been
known as cabinet government. He selected as his ministers the leading
members of the two Houses who had the confidence of the majority of the
House of Commons. In this way, the majority felt an interest in
supporting the men who embodied their own opinions, and fell in turn
under the influence of those who held them with greater prudence or
ability than fell to the lot of the average members of the House. All
that William doubtless intended was to acquire a ready instrument to
enable him to carry on the war with success. In reality he had
refounded, on a new basis, the government of England. His own personal
qualities were such that he was able to dominate over any set of
ministers; but the time would come when there would be a sovereign of
inferior powers. Then the body of ministers would step into his place.
The old rude arrangements of the middle ages had provided by frequent
depositions that an inefficient sovereign should cease to rule, and
those arrangements had been imitated in the cases of Charles I. and
James II. Still the claim to rule had, at least from the time of Henry
III., been derived from hereditary descent, and the interruption,
however frequently it might occur, had been regarded as something
abnormal, only to be applied where there was an absolute necessity to
prevent the wielder of executive authority from setting at defiance the
determined purpose of the nation. After the Revolution not only had the
king's title been so changed as to make him more directly than ever
dependent on the nation, but he now called into existence a body which
derived its own strength from its conformity with the wishes of the
representatives of the nation.

For the moment it seemed to be but a temporary expedient. When the war
came to an end, the Whig party which had sustained William in his
struggle with France split up. The dominant feeling of the House of
Commons was no longer the desire to support the crown against a foreign
enemy, but to make government as cheap as possible, leaving future
dangers to the chances of the future. William had not so understood the
new invention of a united ministry as binding him to take into his
service a united ministry of men whom he regarded as fools and knaves.
He allowed the Commons to reduce the army to a skeleton, to question his
actions, and to treat him as if he were a cipher. But it was only by
slow degrees that he was brought to acknowledge the necessity of
choosing his ministers from amongst the men who had done these things.

  The Spanish succession.

The time came when he needed again the support of the nation. The death
of Charles II., the heirless king of the huge Spanish monarchy, had long
been expected. Since the peace of Ryswick, William and Louis XIV. had
come to terms by two successive partition treaties for a division of
those vast territories in such a way that the whole of them should not
fall into the hands of a near relation either of the king of France or
of the emperor, the head of the house of Austria. When the king of Spain
actually died in 1700, William seemed to have no authority in England
whatever; and Louis was therefore encouraged to break his engagements,
and to accept the whole of the Spanish inheritance for his grandson, who
became Philip V. of Spain. William saw clearly that such predominance of
France in Europe would lead to the development of pretensions unbearable
to other states. But the House of Commons did not see it, even when the
Dutch garrisons were driven by French troops out of the posts in the
Spanish Netherlands which they had occupied for many years (1701).

  The Act of Settlement.

William had prudently done all that he could to conciliate the Tory
majority. In the preceding year (1700) he had given office to a Tory
ministry, and he now (1701) gave his assent to the Act of Settlement,
which secured the succession of the crown to the electress Sophia of
Hanover, daughter of James I.'s daughter Elizabeth, to the exclusion of
all Roman Catholic claimants, though it imposed several fresh
restrictions on the prerogative. William was indeed wise in keeping his
feelings under control. The country sympathized with him more than the
Commons did, and when the House imprisoned the gentlemen deputed by the
freeholders of Kent to present a petition asking that its loyal
addresses might be turned into bills of supply, it simply advertised its
weakness to the whole country.

  The Grand Alliance.

The reception of this Kentish petition was but a foretaste of the
discrepancy between the Commons and the nation, which was to prove the
marked feature of the middle of the century now opening. For the present
the House was ready to give way. It requested the king to enter into
alliance with the Dutch. William went yet further in the direction in
which he was urged. He formed an alliance with the emperor, as well as
with the Netherlands, to prevent the union of the crowns of France and
Spain, and to compel France to evacuate the Netherlands. An unexpected
event came to give him all the strength he needed. James II. died, and
Louis acknowledged his son as the rightful king of England. Englishmen
of both parties were stung to indignation by the insult. William
dissolved parliament, and the new House of Commons, Tory as it was by a
small majority, was eager to support the king. It voted men and money
according to his wishes. England was to be the soul of the Grand
Alliance against France. But before a blow was struck William was thrown
from his horse. He died on the 8th of March 1702. "The man," as Burke
said of him, "was dead, but the Grand Alliance survived in which King
William lived and reigned."

  Queen Anne, 1702-1714.

Upon the accession of Anne, war was at once begun. The Grand Alliance
became, as William would have wished, a league to wrest the whole of the
Spanish dominions from Philip, in favour of the Austrian archduke
Charles. It found a chief of supreme military and diplomatic genius in
the duke of Marlborough. His victory at Blenheim (1704) drove the French
out of Germany. His victory of Ramillies (1706) drove them out of the
Netherlands. In Spain, Gibraltar was captured by Rooke (1704) and
Barcelona by Peterborough (1705). Prince Eugene relieved Turin from a
French siege, and followed up the blow by driving the besiegers out of

  Union with Scotland.

The influence of Marlborough at home was the result partly of the
prestige of his victories, partly of the dominating influence of his
strong-minded duchess ("Mrs Freeman") over the queen (see ANNE, queen of
England). The duke cared little for home politics in themselves; but he
had his own ends, both public and private, to serve, and at first gave
his support to the Tories, whose church policy was regarded with favour
by the queen. Their efforts were directed towards the restriction of the
Toleration Act within narrow limits. Many dissenters had evaded the Test
Act by partaking of the communion in a church, though they subsequently
attended their own chapels. An Occasional Conformity Bill, imposing
penalties on those who adopted this practice, twice passed the Commons
(1702, 1703), but was rejected by the House of Lords, in which the Whig
element predominated. The church was served in a nobler manner in 1704
by the abandonment of first-fruits and tenths by the queen for the
purpose of raising the pittances of the poorer clergy (see QUEEN ANNE'S
BOUNTY). In 1707 a piece of legislation of the highest value was carried
to a successful end. The Act of Union, passed in the parliaments of
England and Scotland, joined the legislatures of the two kingdoms and
the nations themselves in an indissoluble bond.

  United Whig ministry.

The ministry in office at the time of the passing of the Act of Union
had suffered important changes since the commencement of the reign. The
Tories had never been as earnest in the prosecution of the war as the
Whigs; and Marlborough, who cared above all things for the furtherance
of the war, gradually replaced Tories by Whigs in the ministry. His
intention was doubtless to conciliate both parties by admitting them
both to a share of power; but the Whigs were determined to have all or
none, and in 1708 a purely Whig ministry was formed to support the war
as the first purely Whig ministry had supported it in the reign of
William. The years of its power were the years of the victories of
Oudenarde (1708) and of Malplaquet (1709), bringing with them the entire
ruin of the military power of Louis XIV.

Such successes, if they were not embraced in the spirit of moderation,
boded no good to the Whigs. It was known that even before the last
battle Louis had been ready to abandon the cause of his grandson, and
that his offers had been rejected because he would not consent to join
the allies in turning him out of Spain. A belief spread in England that
Marlborough wished the endless prolongation of the war for his own
selfish ends. Spain was far away, and, if the Netherlands were safe,
enough had been done for the interests of England. The Whigs were
charged with refusing to make peace when an honourable and satisfactory
peace was not beyond their reach.

  Tory Ministry.

As soon as the demand for a vigorous prosecution of the war relaxed, the
Whigs could but rely on their domestic policy, in which they were
strongest in the eyes of posterity but weakest in the eyes of
contemporaries. It was known that they looked for the principle on which
the queen's throne rested to the national act of the Revolution, rather
than to the birth of the sovereign as the daughter of James II., whilst
popular feeling preferred, however inconsistently, to attach itself to
some fragment of hereditary right. What was of greater consequence was,
that it was known that they were the friends of the dissenters, and
that their leaders, if they could have had their way, would not only
have maintained the Toleration Act, but would also have repealed the
Test Act. In 1709 a sermon preached by Dr Sacheverell (q.v.) denounced
toleration and the right of resistance in tones worthy of the first days
of the Restoration. Foolish as the sermon was, it was but the reflection
of folly which was widely spread amongst the rude and less educated
classes. The Whig leaders unwisely took up the challenge and impeached
Sacheverell. The Lords condemned the man, but they condemned him to an
easy sentence. His trial was the signal for riot. Dissenting chapels
were sacked to the cry of High Church and Sacheverell. The queen, who
had personal reasons for disliking the Whigs, dismissed them from office
(1710), and a Tory House of Commons was elected amidst the excitement to
support the Tory ministry of Harley and St John.

  Peace of Utrecht.

  Occasional Conformity Act and the Schism Act.

After some hesitation the new ministry made peace with France, and the
treaty of Utrecht (1713), stipulating for the permanent separation of
the crowns of France and Spain, and assigning Milan, Naples and the
Spanish Netherlands to the Austrian claimant, accomplished all that
could reasonably be desired, though the abandonment to the vengeance of
the Spanish government of her Catalan allies, and the base desertion of
her continental confederates on the very field of action, brought
dishonour on the good name of England. The Commons gladly welcomed the
cessation of the war. The approval of the Lords had been secured by the
creation of twelve Tory peers. In home politics the new ministry was in
danger of being carried away by its more violent supporters. St John,
now Viscount Bolingbroke, with unscrupulous audacity placed himself at
their head. The Occasional Conformity Bill was at last carried (1711).
To it was added the Schism Act (1714), forbidding dissenters to keep
schools or engage in tuition. Bolingbroke went still farther. He engaged
in an intrigue for bringing over the Pretender to succeed the queen upon
her death. This wild conduct alienated the moderate Tories, who, much as
they wished to see the throne occupied by the heir of the ancient line,
could not bring themselves to consent to its occupation by a Roman
Catholic prince. Such men, therefore, when Anne died (1714) joined the
Whigs in proclaiming the elector of Hanover king as George I.


  Accession of the House of Hanover.

  Repeal of Occasional Conformity Act and Schism Act.

The accession of George I. brought with it the predominance of the
Whigs. They had on their side the royal power, the greater part of the
aristocracy, the dissenters and the higher trading and commercial
classes. The Tories appealed to the dislike of dissenters prevalent
amongst the country gentlemen and the country clergy, and to the
jealousy felt by the agricultural classes towards those who enriched
themselves by trade. Such a feeling, if it was aroused by irritating
legislation, might very probably turn to the advantage of the exiled
house, especially as the majority of Englishmen were to be found on the
Tory side. It was therefore advisable that government should content
itself with as little action as possible, in order to give time for old
habits to wear themselves out. The landing of the Pretender in Scotland
(1715), and the defeat of a portion of his army which had advanced to
Preston--a defeat which was the consequence of the apathy of his English
supporters, and which was followed by the complete suppression of the
rebellion--gave increased strength to the Whig government. But they were
reluctant to face an immediate dissolution, and the Septennial Act was
passed (1716) to extend to seven years the duration of parliaments,
which had been fixed at three years by the Triennial Act of William and
Mary. Under General Stanhope an effort was made to draw legislation in a
more liberal direction. The Occasional Conformity Act and the Schism Act
were repealed (1719); but the majorities on the side of the government
were unusually small, and Stanhope, who would willingly have repealed
the Test Act so far as it related to dissenters, was compelled to
abandon the project as entirely impracticable. The Peerage Bill,
introduced at the same time to limit the royal power of creating peers,
was happily thrown out in the Commons. It was proposed, partly from a
desire to guard the Lords against such a sudden increase of their
numbers as had been forced on them when the treaty of Utrecht was under
discussion, and partly to secure the Whigs in office against any change
in the royal councils in a succeeding reign. It was in fact conceived by
men who valued the immediate victory of their principles more than they
trusted to the general good sense of the nation. The Lords were at this
time, as a matter of fact, not merely wealthier but wiser than the
Commons; and it is no wonder that, in days when the Commons, by passing
the Septennial Act, had shown their distrust of their own constituents,
the peers should show, by the Peerage Bill, their distrust of that House
which was elected by those constituencies. Nevertheless, the remedy was
worse than the disease, for it would have established a close oligarchy,
bound sooner or later to come into conflict with the will of the nation,
and only to be overthrown by a violent alteration of the constitution.

  Walpole's ministry.

The excitement following on the bursting of the South Sea Bubble (q.v.),
and the death or ruin of the leading ministers, brought Sir Robert
Walpole to the front (1721). As a man of business when men of business
were few in the House of Commons, he was eminently fit to manage the
affairs of the country. But he owed his long continuance in office
especially to his sagacity. He clearly saw, what Stanhope had failed to
see, that the mass of the nation was not fitted as yet to interest
itself wisely in affairs of government, and that therefore the rule must
be kept in the hands of the upper classes. But he was too sensible to
adopt the coarse expedient which had commended itself to Stanhope, and
he preferred humouring the masses to contradicting them.

The struggle of the preceding century had left its mark in every
direction on the national development. Out of the reaction against
Puritanism had come a widely-spread relaxation of morals, and also, as
far as the educated class was concerned, an eagerness for the discussion
of all social and religious problems. The fierce excitement of political
life had quickened thought, and the most anciently received doctrines
were held of little worth until they were brought to the test of reason.
It was a time when the pen was more powerful than the sword, when a
secretary of state would treat with condescension a witty pamphleteer,
and when such a pamphleteer might hope, not in vain, to become a
secretary of state.

It was in this world of reason and literature that the Whigs of the
Peerage Bill moved. Walpole perceived that there was another world which
understood none of these things. With cynical insight he discovered that
a great government cannot rest on a clique, however distinguished. If
the mass of the nation was not conscious of political wants, it was
conscious of material wants. The merchant needed protection for his
trade; the voters gladly welcomed election days as bringing guineas to
their pockets. Members of parliament were ready to sell their votes for
places, for pensions, for actual money. The system was not new, as Danby
is credited with the discovery that a vote in the House of Commons might
be purchased. But with Walpole it reached its height.

Such a system was possible because the House of Commons was not really
accountable to its constituents. The votes of its members were not
published, and still less were their speeches made known. Such a silence
could only be maintained around the House when there was little interest
in its proceedings. The great questions of religion and taxation which
had agitated the country under the Stuarts were now fairly settled. To
reawaken those questions in any shape would be dangerous. Walpole took
good care never to repeat the mistake of the Sacheverell trial. When on
one occasion he was led into the proposal of an unpopular excise he at
once drew back. England in his days was growing rich. Englishmen were
bluff and independent, in their ways often coarse and unmannerly. Their
life was the life depicted on the canvas of Hogarth and the pages of
Fielding. All high imagination, all devotion to the public weal, seemed
laid asleep. But the political instinct was not dead, and it would one
day express itself for better ends than an agitation against an excise
bill or an outcry for a popular war. A government could no longer employ
its powers for direct oppression. In his own house and in his own
conscience, every Englishman, as far as the government was concerned,
was the master of his destiny. By and by the idea would dawn on the
nation that anarchy is as productive of evil as tyranny, and that a
government which omits to regulate or control allows the strong to
oppress the weak, and the rich to oppress the poor.

  George II. 1727-1760.

Walpole's administration lasted long enough to give room for some feeble
expression of this feeling. When George I. was succeeded by George II.
(1727), Walpole remained in power. His eagerness for the possession of
that power which he desired to use for his country's good, together with
the incapacity of two kings born and bred in a foreign country to take a
leading part in English affairs, completed the change which had been
effected when William first entrusted the conduct of government to a
united cabinet. There was now for the first time a prime minister in
England, a person who was himself a subject imposing harmonious action
on the cabinet. The change was so gradually and silently effected that
it is difficult to realize its full importance. So far, indeed, as it
only came about through the incapacity of the first two kings of the
house of Hanover, it might be undone, and was in fact to a great extent
undone by a more active successor. But so far as it was the result of
general tendencies, it could never be obliterated. In the ministries in
which Somers and Montagu on the one hand and Harley and St John on the
other had taken part, there was no prime minister except so far as one
member of the administration dominated over his colleagues by the force
of character and intelligence. In the reign of George III., even North
and Addington were universally acknowledged by that title, though they
had little claim to the independence of action of a Walpole or a Pitt.

The change was, in fact, one of the most important of those by which the
English constitution has been altered from an hereditary monarchy with a
parliamentary regulative agency to a parliamentary government with an
hereditary regulative agency. In Walpole's time the forms of the
constitution had become, in all essential particulars, what they are
now. What was wanting was a national force behind them to set them to
their proper work.

  The Opposition.

  War with Spain.

The growing opposition which finally drove Walpole from power was not
entirely without a nobler element than could be furnished by personal
rivalry, or ignorant distrust of commercial and financial success. It
was well that complaints that a great country ought not to be governed
by patronage and bribery should be raised, although, as subsequent
experience showed, the causes which rendered corruption inevitable were
not to be removed by the expulsion of Walpole from office. But for one
error, indeed, it is probable that Walpole's rule would have been still
further prolonged. In 1739 a popular excitement arose for a declaration
of war against Spain. Walpole believed that war to be certainly unjust,
and likely to be disastrous. He had, however, been so accustomed to give
way to popular pressure that he did not perceive the difference between
a wise and timely determination to leave a right action undone in the
face of insuperable difficulties, and an unwise and cowardly
determination to do that which he believed to be wrong and imprudent. If
he had now resigned rather than demean himself by acting against his
conscience, it is by no means unlikely that he would have been recalled
to power before many years were over. As it was, the failures of the war
recoiled on his own head, and in 1742 his long ministry came to an end.

  Ministry of Henry Pelham.

After a short interval a successor was found in Henry Pelham. All the
ordinary arts of corruption which Walpole had practised were continued,
and to them were added arts of corruption which Walpole had disdained
to practise. He at least understood that there were certain principles
in accordance with which he wished to conduct public affairs, and he had
driven colleague after colleague out of office rather than allow them to
distract his method of government. Pelham and his brother, the Thomas
Pelham, duke of Newcastle, had no principles of government whatever.
They offered place to every man of parliamentary skill or influence.
There was no opposition, because the ministers never attempted to do
anything which would arouse opposition, and because they were ready to
do anything called for by any one who had power enough to make himself
dangerous; and in 1743 they embarked on a useless war with France in
order to please the king, who saw in every commotion on the continent of
Europe some danger to his beloved Hanover.

  The Rebellion of 1745.

At most times in the history of England such a ministry would have been
driven from office by the outcry of an offended people. In the days of
the Pelhams, government was regarded as lying too far outside the
all-important private interests of the community to make it worth while
to make any effort to rescue it from the degradation into which it had
fallen; yet the Pelhams had not been long in power before this serene
belief that the country could get on very well without a government in
any real sense of the word was put to the test. In 1745 Charles Edward,
the son of the Pretender, landed in Scotland. He was followed by many of
the Highland clans, always ready to draw the sword against the
constituted authorities of the Lowlands; and even in the Lowlands, and
especially in Edinburgh, he found adherents, who still felt the sting
inflicted by the suppression of the national independence of Scotland.
The British army was in as chaotic a condition as the British
government, and Charles Edward inflicted a complete defeat on a force
which met him at Prestonpans. Before the end of the year the victor, at
the head of 5000 men, had advanced to Derby. But he found no support in
England, and the mere numbers brought against him compelled him to
retreat, to find defeat at Culloden in the following year (1746). The
war on the continent had been waged with indifferent success. The
victory of Dettingen (1743) and the glorious defeat of Fontenoy (1745)
had achieved no objects worthy of English intervention, and the peace of
Aix-la-Chapelle put an end in 1748 to hostilities which should never
have been begun. The government pursued its inglorious career as long as
Henry Pelham lived. He had at least some share in the financial ability
of Walpole, and it was not till he died in 1754 that the real
difficulties of a system which was based on the avoidance of
difficulties had fairly to be faced.

  Moral and religious atmosphere.

  Wesley and Whitefield.

The change which was needed was not any mere re-adjustment of the
political machine. Those who cared for religion or morality had
forgotten that man is an imaginative and emotional being. Defenders of
Christianity and of deism alike appealed to the reason alone. Enthusiasm
was treated as a folly or a crime, and earnestness of every kind was
branded with the name of enthusiasm. The higher order of minds dwelt
with preference upon the beneficent wisdom of the Creator. The lower
order of minds treated religion as a kind of life assurance against the
inconvenience of eternal death. Upon such a system as this human nature
was certain to revenge itself. The preaching of Wesley and Whitefield
appealed direct to the emotions, with its doctrine of "conversion," and
called upon each individual not to understand, or to admire, or to act,
but vividly to realize the love and mercy of God. In all this there was
nothing new. What was new was that Wesley added an organization,
Methodism (q.v.), in which each of his followers unfolded to one another
the secrets of their heart, and became accountable to his fellows. Large
as the numbers of the Methodists ultimately became, their influence is
not to be measured by their numbers. The double want of the age, the
want of spiritual earnestness and the want of organized coherence, would
find satisfaction in many ways which would have seemed strange to
Wesley, but which were, nevertheless, a continuance of the work which he

  Ministry of Newcastle.

  Ministry of Pitt and Newcastle.

As far as government was concerned, when Henry Pelham died (1754) the
lowest depth of baseness seemed to have been reached. The duke of
Newcastle, who succeeded his brother, looked on the work of corruption
with absolute pleasure, and regarded genius and ability as an awkward
interruption of that happy arrangement which made men subservient to
flattery and money. Whilst he was in the very act of trying to drive
from office all men who were possessed of any sort of ideas, he was
surprised by a great war. In America, the French settlers in Canada and
the English settlers on the Atlantic coast were falling to blows for the
possession of the vast territories drained by the Ohio and its
tributaries. In India, Frenchmen and Englishmen had striven during the
last war for authority over the native states round Pondicherry and
Madras, and the conflict threatened to break out anew. When war began in
earnest, and the reality of danger came home to Englishmen by the
capture of Minorca (1756), there arose a demand for a more capable
government than any which Newcastle could offer. Terrified by the storm
of obloquy which he aroused, he fled from office. A government was
formed, of which the soul was William Pitt. Pitt was, in some sort, to
the political life of Englishmen what Wesley was to their religious
life. He brought no new political ideas into their minds, but he ruled
them by the force of his character and the example of his purity. His
weapons were trust and confidence. He appealed to the patriotism of his
fellow-countrymen, to their imaginative love for the national greatness,
and he did not appeal in vain. He perceived instinctively that a large
number, even of those who took greedily the bribes of Walpole and the
Pelhams, took them, not because they loved money better than their
country, but because they had no conception that their country had any
need of them at all. It was a truth, but it was not the whole truth. The
great Whig families rallied under Newcastle and drove Pitt from office
(1757). But if Pitt could not govern without Newcastle's corruption,
neither could Newcastle govern without Pitt's energy. At last a
compromise was effected, and Newcastle undertook the work of bribing,
whilst Pitt undertook the work of governing (see CHATHAM, WILLIAM PITT,

  The Seven Years' War.

The war which had already broken out, the Seven Years' War (1756-1763),
was not confined to England alone. By the side of the duel between
France and England, a war was going on upon the continent of Europe, in
which Austria--with its allies, France, Russia and the German
princes--had fallen upon the new kingdom of Prussia and its sovereign
Frederick II. England and Prussia therefore necessarily formed an
alliance. Different as the two governments were, they were both alike in
recognizing, in part at least, the conditions of progress. Even in
Pitt's day England, however imperfectly, rested its strength on the
popular will. Even in Frederick's day Prussia was ruled by
administrators selected for their special knowledge. Neither France nor
Austria had any conception of the necessity of fulfilling these
requirements. Hence the strength of England and of Prussia. The war
seemed to be a mere struggle for territory. There was no feeling in
either Pitt or Frederick, such as there was in the men who contended
half a century later against Napoleon, that they were fighting the
battles of the civilized world. There was something repulsive as well in
the enthusiastic nationalism of Pitt as in the cynical nationalism of
Frederick. Pitt's sole object was to exalt England to a position in
which she would fear no rival. But in so doing he exalted that which, in
spite of all that had happened, best deserved to be exalted. The habits
of individual energy fused together by the inspiration of patriotism
conquered Canada. The unintelligent over-regulation of the French
government could not maintain the colonies which had been founded in
happier times. In 1758 Louisburg was taken, and the mouth of the St
Lawrence guarded against France. In 1759 Quebec fell before Wolfe, who
died at the moment of victory. In the same year the naval victories of
Lagos and Quiberon Bay established the supremacy of the British at sea.
The battle of Plassey (1757) had laid Bengal at the feet of Clive; and
Coote's victory at Wandiwash (1760) led to the final ruin of the relics
of French authority in southern India. When George II. died (1760)
England was the first maritime and colonial power in the world (see
SEVEN YEARS' WAR; CANADA: _History_; INDIA: _History_).

  George III., 1760-1820.

  Pitt's resignation.

In George III. the king once more became an important factor in English
politics. From his childhood he had been trained by his mother and his
instructors to regard the breaking down of the power of the great
families as the task of his life. In this he was walking in the same
direction as Pitt. If the two men could have worked together, England
might have been spared many misfortunes. Unhappily, the king could not
understand Pitt's higher qualities, his bold confidence in the popular
feeling, and his contempt for corruption and intrigue. And yet the
king's authority was indispensable to Pitt, if he was to carry on his
conflict against the great families with success. When the war came to
an end, as it must come to an end sooner or later, Pitt's special
predominance, derived as it was from his power of breathing a martial
spirit into the fleets and armies of England, would come to an end too.
Only the king, with his hold upon the traditional instincts of loyalty
and the force of his still unimpaired prerogative, could, in ordinary
times, hold head against the wealthy and influential aristocracy.
Unfortunately, George III. was not wise enough to deal with the
difficulty in a high-minded fashion. With a well-intentioned but narrow
mind, he had nothing in him to strike the imagination of his subjects.
He met influence with influence, corruption with corruption, intrigue
with intrigue. Unhappily, too, his earliest relations with Pitt involved
a dispute on a point on which he was right and Pitt was wrong. In 1761
Pitt resigned office, because neither the king nor the cabinet were
willing to declare war against Spain in the midst of the war with
France. As the war with Spain was inevitable, and as, when it broke out
in the following year (1762), it was followed by triumphs for which Pitt
had prepared the way, the prescience of the great war-minister appeared
to be fully established. But it was his love of war, not his skill in
carrying it on, which was really in question. He would be satisfied with
nothing short of the absolute ruin of France. He would have given
England that dangerous position of supremacy which was gained for France
by Louis XIV. in the 17th century, and by Napoleon in the 19th century.
He would have made his country still more haughty and arrogant than it
was, till other nations rose against it, as they have three times risen
against France, rather than submit to the intolerable yoke. It was a
happy thing for England that peace was signed (1763).

  Bute and Grenville.

Even as it was, a spirit of contemptuous disregard of the rights of
others had been roused, which would not be easily allayed. The king's
premature attempt to secure a prime minister of his own choosing in Lord
Bute (1761) came to an end through the minister's incapacity (1763).
George Grenville, who followed him, kept the king in leading strings in
reliance upon his parliamentary majority. Something, no doubt, had been
accomplished by the incorruptibility of Pitt. The practice of bribing
members of parliament by actual presents in money came to an end, though
the practice of bribing them by place and pension long continued. The
arrogance which Pitt displayed towards foreign nations was displayed by
Grenville towards classes of the population of the British dominions. It
was enough for him to establish a right. He never put himself in the
position of those who were to suffer by its being put in force.

  The American colonies.

The first to suffer from Grenville's conception of his duty were the
American colonies. The mercantile system, which had sprung up in Spain
in the 16th century, held that colonies were to be entirely prohibited
from trading, except with the mother country. Every European country had
adopted this view, and the acquisition of fresh colonial dominions by
England, at the peace of 1763, had been made not so much through lust of
empire as through love of trade. Of all English colonies, the American
were the most populous and important. Their proximity to the Spanish
colonies in the West Indies had naturally led to a contraband trade. To
this trade Grenville put a stop, as far as lay in his power. Obnoxious
as this measure was in America, the colonists had acknowledged the
principle on which it was founded too long to make it easy to resist it.
Another step of Grenville's met with more open opposition. Even with all
the experience of the century which followed, the relations between a
mother country and her colonies are not easy to arrange. If the burthen
of defence is to be borne in common, it can hardly be left to the mother
country to declare war, and to exact the necessary taxation, without the
consent of the colonies. If, on the other hand, it is to be borne by the
mother country alone, she may well complain that she is left to bear
more than her due share of the weight. The latter alternative forced
itself upon the attention of Grenville. The British parliament, he held,
was the supreme legislature, and, as such, was entitled to raise taxes
in America to support the military forces needed for the defence of
America. The act (1765) imposing a stamp tax on the American colonies
was the result.

  The Rockingham ministry.

As might have been expected, the Americans resisted. For them, the
question was precisely that which Hampden had fought out in the case of
ship-money. As far as they were concerned, the British parliament had
stepped into the position of Charles I. If Grenville had remained in
office he would probably have persisted in his resolution. He was driven
from his post by the king's resolve no longer to submit to his
insolence, and a new ministry was formed under the marquess of
Rockingham, composed of some of those leaders of the Whig aristocracy
who had not followed the Grenville ministry. They were well-intentioned,
but weak, and without political ability; and the king regarded them with
distrust, only qualified by his abhorrence of the ministry which they

  The Declaratory Act and repeal of Stamp Act.

As soon as the bad news came from America, the ministry was placed
between two recommendations. Grenville, on the one hand, advised that
the tax should be enforced. Pitt, on the other, declared that the
British parliament had absolutely no right to tax America, though he
held that it had the right to regulate, or in other words to tax, the
commerce of America for the benefit of the British merchant and
manufacturer. Between the two the government took a middle course. It
obtained from parliament a total repeal of the Stamp Act, but it also
passed a Declaratory Act, claiming for the British parliament the
supreme power over the colonies in matters of taxation, as well as in
matters of legislation.

  Burke's political theory.

It is possible that the course thus adopted was chosen simply because it
was a middle course. But it was probably suggested by Edmund Burke, who
was then Lord Rockingham's private secretary, but who for some time to
come was to furnish thought to the party to which he attached himself.
Burke carried into the world of theory those politics of expediency of
which Walpole had been the practical originator. He held that questions
of abstract right had no place in politics. It was therefore as absurd
to argue with Pitt that England had a right to regulate commerce, as it
was to argue with Grenville that England had a right to levy taxes. All
that could be said was, that it was expedient in a widespread empire
that the power of final decision should be lodged somewhere, and that it
was also expedient not to use that power in such a way as to irritate
those whom it was the truest wisdom to conciliate.

  Arguments of Pitt and Burke.

The weak side of this view was the weak side of all Burke's political
philosophy. Like all great innovators, he was intensely conservative
where he was not an advocate of change. With new views on every subject
relating to the exercise of power, he shrank even from entertaining the
slightest question relating to the distribution of power. He recommended
to the British parliament the most self-denying wisdom, but he could not
see that in its relation to the colonies the British parliament was so
constituted as to make it entirely unprepared to be either wise or
self-denying. It is true that if he had thought out the matter in this
direction, he would have been led further than he or any other man in
England or America was at that time prepared to go. If the British
parliament was unfit to legislate for America, and if, as was
undoubtedly the case, it was impossible to create a representative body
which was fit to legislate, it would follow that the American colonies
could only be fairly governed as practically independent states, though
they might possibly remain, like the great colonies of our own day, in a
position of alliance rather than of dependence. It was because the
issues opened led to changes so far greater than the wisest statesman
then perceived, that Pitt's solution, logically untenable as it was, was
preferable to Burke's. Pitt would have given bad reasons for going a
step in the right direction. Burke gave excellent reasons why those who
were certain to go wrong should have the power to go right.

  Ministry of Lord Chatham.

Scarcely were the measures relating to America passed when the king
turned out the ministry. The new ministry was formed by Pitt, who was
created earl of Chatham (1766), on the principle of bringing together
men who had shaken themselves loose from any of the different Whig
cliques. Whatever chance the plan had of succeeding was at an end when
Chatham's mind temporarily gave way under stress of disease (1767).
Charles Townshend, a brilliant, headstrong man, led parliament in the
way which had been prepared by the Declaratory Act, and laid duties on
tea and other articles of commerce entering the ports of America.

  Wilkes and "The North Briton."

It was impossible that the position thus claimed by the British
parliament towards America should affect America alone. The habit of
obtaining money otherwise than by the consent of those who are required
to pay it would be certain to make parliament careless of the feelings
and interests of that great majority of the population at home, which
was unrepresented in parliament. The resistance of America to the
taxation imposed was therefore not without benefit to the people of the
mother country. Already there were signs of a readiness in parliament to
treat even the constituencies with contempt. In 1763, in the days of the
Grenville ministry, John Wilkes, a profligate and scurrilous writer, had
been arrested on a general warrant--that is to say, a warrant in which
the name of no individual was mentioned--as the author of an alleged
libel on the king, contained in No. 45 of _The North Briton_. He was a
member of parliament, and as such was declared by Chief Justice Pratt to
be privileged against arrest. In 1768 he was elected member for
Middlesex. The House of Commons expelled him. He was again elected, and
again expelled. The third time, the Commons gave the seat to which
Wilkes was a third time chosen to Colonel Luttrell, who was far down in
the poll. Wilkes thus became the representative of a great
constitutional principle, the principle that the electors have a right
to choose their representatives without restriction, save by the
regulations of the law.

For the present the contention of the American colonists and of the
defenders of Wilkes at home was confined within the compass of the law.
Yet in both cases it might easily pass beyond that compass, and might
rest itself upon an appeal to the duty of governments to modify the law,
and to enlarge the basis of their authority, when law and authority have
become too narrow.

  Lord North's ministry.

As regards America, though Townshend died, the government persisted in
his policy. As resistance grew stronger in America, the king urged the
use of compulsion. If he had not the wisdom of the country on his side,
he had its prejudices. The arrogant spirit of Englishmen made them
contemptuous towards the colonists, and the desire to thrust taxation
upon others than themselves made the new colonial legislation popular.
In 1770 the king made Lord North prime minister. He had won the object
on which he had set his heart. A new Tory party had sprung up, not
distinguished, like the Tories of Queen Anne's reign, by a special
ecclesiastical policy, but by their acceptance of the king's claim to
nominate ministers, and so to predominate in the ministry himself.

Unhappily the opposition, united in the desire to conciliate America,
was divided on questions of home policy. Chatham would have met the new
danger by parliamentary reform, giving increased voting power to the
freeholders of the counties. Burke from principle, and his noble patrons
mainly from lower motives, were opposed to any such change. As Burke had
wished the British parliament to be supreme over the colonies, in
confidence that this supremacy would not be abused, so he wished the
great landowning connexion resting on the rotten boroughs to rule over
the unrepresented people, in confidence that this power would not be
abused. Amid these distractions the king had an easy game to play. He
had all the patronage of the government in his hands, and beyond the
circle which was influenced by gifts of patronage, he could appeal to
the ignorance and self-seeking of the nation, with which, though he knew
it not, he was himself in the closest sympathy.

  The American War of Independence.

No wonder resistance grew more vigorous in America. In 1773 the
inhabitants of Boston threw ship-loads of tea into the harbour rather
than pay the obnoxious duty. In 1774 the Boston Port Bill deprived
Boston of its commercial rights, whilst the Massachusetts Government
Bill took away from that colony the ordinary political liberties of
Englishmen. The first skirmish of the inevitable war was fought at
Lexington in 1775. In 1776 the thirteen colonies united in the
continental congress issued their Declaration of Independence. England
put forth all its strength to beat down resistance; but the task, which
seemed easy at a distance, proved impossible. It might have been so even
had the war been conducted on the British side with greater military
skill and with more insight into the conditions of the struggle, which
was essentially a civil contest between men of the same race. But the
initial difficulties of the vast field of operations were greatly
increased by the want of skill of the British leaders in adapting
themselves to new conditions, while even loyalist sentiment was shocked
by the employment of German mercenaries and Red Indian savages against
men of English blood. Even so, the issue of the struggle was for long
doubtful, and there were moments when it might have ended by a policy of
wise concession; but the Americans, though reduced at times to desperate
straits, had the advantage of fighting in their own country, and above
all they found in George Washington a leader after the model of the
English country gentleman who had upheld the standard of liberty against
the Stuarts, and worthy of the great cause for which they fought. In
1777 a British army under Burgoyne capitulated at Saratoga; and early in
1778 France, eager to revenge the disasters of the Seven Years' War,
formed an alliance with the revolted colonies as free and independent
states, and was soon joined by Spain.

Chatham, who was ready to make any concession to America short of
independence, and especially of independence at the dictation of France,
died in 1778. The war was continued for some years with varying results;
but in 1781 the capitulation of a second British army under Cornwallis
at Yorktown was a decisive blow, which brought home to the minds of the
dullest the assurance that the conquest of America was an impossibility.

Before this event happened there had been a great change in public
feeling in England. The increasing weight of taxation gave rise in 1780
to a great meeting of the freeholders of Yorkshire, which in turn gave
the signal for a general agitation for the reduction of unnecessary
expense in the government. To this desire Burke gave expression in his
bill for economical reform, though he was unable to carry it in the
teeth of interested opposition. The movement in favour of economy was
necessarily also a movement in favour of peace; and when the surrender
of Yorktown was known (1782), Lord North at once resigned office.

  The second Rockingham ministry.

The new ministry formed under Lord Rockingham comprised not only his own
immediate followers, of whom the most prominent was Charles Fox, but the
followers of Chatham, of whom Lord Shelburne was the acknowledged
leader. A treaty of peace acknowledging the independence of the United
States of America was at once set on foot; and the negotiation with
France was rendered easy by the defeat of a French fleet by Rodney, and
by the failure of the combined forces of France and Spain to take

  The coalition.

Already the ministry on which such great hopes had been placed had
broken up. Rockingham died in July 1782. The two sections of which the
government was composed had different aims. The Rockingham section,
which now looked up to Fox, rested on aristocratic connexion and
influence; the Shelburne section was anxious to gain popular support by
active reforms, and to gain over the king to their side. Judging by past
experience, the combination might well seem hopeless, and honourable men
like Fox might easily regard it with suspicion. But Fox's allies took
good care that their name should not be associated with the idea of
improvement. They pruned Burke's Economical Reform Bill till it left as
many abuses as it suppressed; and though the bill prohibited the grant
of pensions above £300, they hastily gave away pensions of much larger
value to their own friends before the bill had received the royal
assent. They also opposed a bill for parliamentary reform brought in by
young William Pitt. When the king chose Shelburne as prime minister,
they refused to follow him, and put forward the incompetent duke of
Portland as their candidate for the office. The struggle was thus
renewed on the old ground of the king's right to select his ministers.
But while the king now put forward a minister notoriously able and
competent to the task, his opponents put forward a man whose only claim
to office was the possession of large estates. They forced their way
back to power by means as unscrupulous as their claim to it was
unjustifiable. They formed a coalition with Lord North, whose politics
and character they had denounced for years. The coalition, as soon as
the peace with America and France had been signed (1783), drove
Shelburne from office. The duke of Portland became the nominal head of
the government, Fox and North its real leaders.

  The India Bill.

Such a ministry could not afford to make a single blunder. The king
detested it, and the assumption by the Whig houses of a right to
nominate the head of the government without reference to the national
interests, could never be popular. The blunder was soon committed.
Burke, hating wrong and injustice with a bitter hatred, had descried in
the government of British India by the East India Company a disgrace to
the English name. For many of the actions of that government no
honourable man can think of uttering a word of defence. The helpless
natives were oppressed and robbed by the company and its servants in
every possible way. Burke drew up a bill, which was adopted by the
coalition government, for taking all authority in India out of the hands
of the company, and even placing the company's management of its own
commercial affairs under control. The governing and controlling body was
naturally to be a council appointed at home. The question of the
nomination of this council at once drew the whole question within the
domain of party politics. The whole patronage of India would be in its
hands, and, as parliament was then constituted, the balance of parties
might be more seriously affected by the distribution of that patronage
than it would be now. When, therefore, it was understood that the
government bill meant the council to be named in the bill for four
years, or, in other words, to be named by the coalition ministry, it was
generally regarded as an unblushing attempt to turn a measure for the
good government of India into a measure for securing the ministry in
office. The bill of course passed the Commons. When it came before the
Lords, it was thrown out in consequence of a message from the king, that
he would regard any one who voted for it as his enemy.

  Ministry of the younger Pitt.

The contest had thus become one between the influence of the crown and
the influence of the great houses. Constitutional historians, who treat
the question as one of merely theoretical politics, leave out of
consideration this essential element of the situation, and forget that,
if it was wrong for the king to influence the Lords by his message, it
was equally wrong for the ministry to acquire for themselves fresh
patronage with which to influence the Commons. But there was now, what
there had not been in the time of Walpole and the Pelhams, a public
opinion ready to throw its weight on one side or the other. The county
members still formed the most independent portion of the
representation, and there were many possessors of rotten boroughs, who
were ready to agree with the county members rather than with the great
landowners. In choosing Pitt, the young son of Chatham, for his prime
minister, as soon as he had dismissed the coalition, George III. gave
assurance that he wished his counsels to be directed by integrity and
ability. After a struggle of many weeks, parliament was dissolved
(1784), and the new House of Commons was prepared to support the king's
minister by a large majority.

As far as names go, the change effected placed the new Tory party in
office for an almost uninterrupted period of forty-six years. It so
happened, however, that after the first eight years of that period had
passed by, circumstances occurred which effected so great a change in
the composition and character of that party as to render any statement
to this effect entirely illusive. During eight years, however, Pitt's
ministry was not merely a Tory ministry resting on the choice of the
king, but a Liberal ministry resting on national support and upon
advanced political knowledge.

  Material progress.

The nation which Pitt had behind him was very different from the
populace which had assailed Walpole's Excise Bill, or had shouted for
Wilkes and liberty. At the beginning of the century the intellect of
thoughtful Englishmen had applied itself to speculative problems of
religion and philosophy. In the middle of the century it applied itself
to practical problems affecting the employment of industry. In 1776 Adam
Smith published the _Wealth of Nations_. Already in 1762 the work of
Brindley, the Bridgewater canal, the first joint of a network of inland
water communication, was opened. In 1767 Hargreaves produced the
spinning-jenny; Arkwright's spinning machine was exhibited in 1768;
Crompton's mule was finished in 1779; Cartwright hit upon the idea of
the power-loom in 1784, though it was not brought into profitable use
till 1801. The Staffordshire potteries had been flourishing under
Wedgwood since 1763, and the improved steam-engine was brought into
shape by Watt in 1768. During these years the duke of Bedford, Coke of
Norfolk, and Robert Bakewell were busy in the improvement of stock and

The increase of wealth and prosperity caused by these changes went far
to produce a large class of the population entirely outside the
associations of the landowning class, but with sufficient intelligence
to appreciate the advantages of a government carried on without regard
to the personal interests and rivalries of the aristocracy. The mode in
which that increase of wealth was effected was even more decisive on the
ultimate destinies of the country. The substitution of the organization
of hereditary monarchy for the organization of wealth and station would
ultimately have led to evils as great as those which it superseded. It
was only tolerable as a stepping-stone to the organization of
intelligence. The larger the numbers admitted to influence the affairs
of state, the more necessary is it that they respect the powers of
intellect. It would be foolish to institute a comparison between an
Arkwright or a Crompton and a Locke or a Newton. But it is certain that
for one man who could appreciate the importance of the treatise _On the
Human Understanding_ or the theory of gravitation, there were thousands
who could understand the value of the water-frame, or the power-loom.
The habit of looking with reverence upon mental power was fostered in no
slight measure by the industrial development of the second half of the
18th century.

  Pitt's India Bill.

The supremacy of intelligence in the political world was, for the time,
represented in Pitt. In 1784 he passed an India Bill, which left the
commerce and all except the highest patronage of India in the hands of
the East India Company, but which erected a department of the home
government, named the board of control, to compel the company to carry
out such political measures as the government saw fit. A bill for
parliamentary reform was, however, thrown out by the opposition of his
own supporters in parliament, whilst outside parliament there was no
general desire for a change in a system which for the present produced
such excellent fruits. Still more excellent was his plan of legislation
for Ireland. Irishmen had taken advantage of the weakness of England
during the American War to enforce upon the ministry of the day, in 1780
and 1782, an abandonment of all claim on the part of the English
government and the English judges to interfere in any way with Irish
affairs. From 1782, therefore, there were two independent legislatures
within the British Isles--the one sitting at Westminster and the other
sitting in Dublin. With these political changes Fox professed himself to
be content. Pitt, whose mind was open to wider considerations, proposed
to throw open commerce to both nations by removing all the restrictions
placed on the trade of Ireland with England and with the rest of the
world. The opposition of the English parliament was only removed by
concessions continuing some important restrictions upon Irish exports,
and by giving the English parliament the right of initiation in all
measures relating to the regulation of the trade which was to be common
to both nations. The Irish parliament took umbrage at the superiority
claimed by England, and threw out the measure as an insult, though, even
as it stood, it was undeniably in favour of Ireland. The lesson of the
incompatibility of two coordinate legislatures was not thrown away upon

In 1786 the commercial treaty with France opened that country to English
trade, and was the first result of the theories laid down by Adam Smith
ten years previously. The first attack upon the horrors of the
slave-trade was made in 1788; and in the same year, in the debates on
the Regency Bill caused by the king's insanity, Pitt defended against
Fox the right of parliament to make provision for the exercise of the
powers of the crown when the wearer was permanently or temporarily
disabled from exercising his authority.

When the king recovered, he went to St Paul's to return thanks on the
23rd of April 1789. The enthusiasm with which he was greeted showed how
completely he had the nation on his side. All the hopes of liberal
reformers were now with him. All the hopes of moral and religious men
were on his side as well. The seed sown by Wesley had grown to be a
great tree. A spirit of thoughtfulness in religious matters and of moral
energy was growing in the nation, and the king was endeared to his
subjects, as much by his domestic virtues as by his support of the great
minister who acted in his name. The happy prospect was soon to be
overclouded. On the 4th of May, eleven days after the appearance of
George III. at St Paul's, the French states-general met at Versailles.

  The French Revolution; English feeling.

By the great mass of intelligent Englishmen the change was greeted with
enthusiasm. It is seldom that one nation understands the tendencies and
difficulties of another; and the mere fact that power was being
transferred from an absolute monarch to a representative assembly led
superficial observers to imagine that they were witnessing a mere
repetition of the victory of the English parliament over the Stuart
kings. In fact, that which was passing in France was of a totally
different nature from the English struggle of the 17th century. In
England, the conflict had been carried on for the purpose of limiting
the power of the king. In France, it was begun in order to sweep away an
aristocracy in church and state which had become barbarously oppressive.
The French Revolution was not, therefore, a conflict for the reform of
the political organization of the state, but one for the reorganization
of the whole structure of society; and in proportion as it turned away
from the path which English ignorance had marked out for it, Englishmen
turned away from it in disgust. As they did not understand the aims of
the French Revolutionists, they were unable to make that excuse for even
so much of their conduct as admits of excuse. Three men, Fox, Burke and
Pitt, however, represented three varieties of opinion into which the
nation was very unequally divided.

Fox, generous and trustful towards the movements of large masses of men,
had very little intellectual grasp of the questions at issue in France.
He treated the struggle as one simply for the establishment of free
institutions; and when at last the crimes of the leaders became patent
to the world, he contented himself with lamenting the unfortunate fact,
and fell back on the argument that though England could not sympathize
with the French tyrants, there was no reason why she should go to war
with them.

Burke, on the other hand, while he failed to understand the full
tendency of the Revolution for good as well as for evil, understood it
far better than any Englishman of that day understood it. He saw that
its main aim was equality, not liberty, and that not only would the
French nation be ready, in pursuit of equality, to welcome any tyranny
which would serve its purpose, but would be the more prone to acts of
tyranny over individuals. This would arise from the remodelling of
institutions, with the object of giving immediate effect to the will of
the masses, which was especially liable to be counterfeited by designing
and unscrupulous agitators. There is no doubt that in all this Burke was
in the right, as he was in his denunciation of the mischief certain to
follow when a nation tries to start afresh, and to blot out all past
progress in the light of simple reason, which is often most fallible
when it believes itself to be most infallible. Where he went wrong was
in his ignorance of the special circumstances of the French nation, and
his consequent blindness to the fact that the historical method of
gradual progress was impossible where institutions had become so utterly
bad as they were in France, and that consequently the system of starting
afresh, to which he reasonably objected, was to the French a matter not
of choice but of necessity. Nor did he see that the passion for
equality, like every great passion, justified itself, and that the
problem was, not how to obtain liberty in defiance of it, but how so to
guide it as to obtain liberty by it and through it.

Burke did not content himself with pointing out speculatively the evils
which he foreboded for the French. He perceived clearly that the effect
of the new French principles could no more be confined to French
territory than the principles of Protestantism in the 16th century could
be confined to Saxony. He knew well that the appeal to abstract reason
and the hatred of aristocracy would spread over Europe like a flood,
and, as he was in the habit of considering whatever was most opposed to
the object of his dislike to be wholly excellent, he called for a
crusade of all established governments against the anarchical principles
of dissolution which had broken loose in France.

Pitt occupied ground apart from either Fox or Burke. He had neither
Fox's sympathy for popular movements, nor Burke's intellectual
appreciation of the immediate tendencies of the Revolution. Hence,
whilst he pronounced against any active interference with France, he was
an advocate of peace, not because he saw more than Fox or Burke, but
because he saw less. He fancied that France would be so totally occupied
with its own troubles that it would cease for a long time to be
dangerous to other nations.

  Beginning of the revolutionary wars.

This view was soon to be stultified by the effect of the coalition
against France in 1792 of Prussia and Austria. The proclamation of the
allies calling on the French to restore the royal authority was answered
by a passionate outburst of defiance. The king himself was suspected of
complicity with the invaders of his country, and the rising of the 10th
of August was followed by the proclamation of the republic and by the
awful "September massacres" of helpless prisoners, guilty of no crime
but noble birth, and therefore presumably of attachment to the old
régime, and treason towards the new. This passionate attachment to the
Revolution, which in France displayed itself in a carnival of insane
suspicion and cruelty, inspired on the frontiers an astonishing
patriotic resistance. Before the end of the year the invasion was
repulsed, and the ragged armies of the Revolution had overrun Savoy and
the Austrian Netherlands, and were threatening the aristocratic Dutch

  Change of feeling in England.

Very few governments in Europe were so rooted in the affections of their
people as to be able to look without terror on the challenge thus thrown
out to them. The English government was one of those very few. No mere
despotism was here exercised by the king. No broad impassable line here
divided the aristocracy from the people. The work of former generations
of Englishmen had been too well done to call for that breach of
historical continuity which was a dire necessity in France. There was
much need of reform. There was no need of a revolution. The whole of the
upper and middle classes, with few exceptions, clung together in a
fierce spirit of resistance; and the mass of the lower classes,
especially in the country, were too well off to wish for change. The
spirit of resistance to revolution quickly developed into a spirit of
resistance to reform, and those who continued to advocate changes, more
or less after the French model, were treated as the enemies of mankind.
A fierce hatred of France and of all that attached itself to France
became the predominating spirit of the nation.

  Division of the Whig party.

Such a change in the national mind could not but affect the constitution
of the Whig party. The reasoning of Burke would, in itself, have done
little to effect its disruption. But the great landowners, who
contributed so strong an element in it, composed the very class which
had most to fear from the principles of the Revolution. The old
questions which had divided them from the king and Pitt in 1783 had
dwindled into nothing before the appalling question of the immediate
present. They made themselves the leaders of the war party, and they
knew that that party comprised almost the whole of the parliamentary

What could Pitt do but surrender? The whole of the intellectual basis of
his foreign policy was swept away when it became evident that the
continental war would bring with it an accession of French territory. He
did not abandon his opinions. His opinions rather abandoned him. A wider
intelligence might have held that, let France gain what territorial
aggrandizement it might upon the continent of Europe, it was impossible
to resist such changes until the opponents of France had so purified
themselves as to obtain a hold upon the moral feelings of mankind. Pitt
could not take this view; perhaps no man in his day could be fairly
expected to take it. He did not indeed declare war against France; but
he sought to set a limit to her conquests in the winter, though he had
not sought to set a limit to the conquests of the allied sovereigns in
the preceding summer. He treated with supercilious contempt the National
Convention, which had dethroned the king and proclaimed a republic.
Above all, he took up a declaration by the Convention, that they would
give help to all peoples struggling for liberty against their respective
governments, as a challenge to England. The horror caused in England by
the trial and execution of Louis XVI. completed the estrangement between
the two countries, and though the declaration of war came from France
(1793), it had been in great part brought about by the bearing of
England and its government.     (S. R. G.)


  The government and the "revolutionary" agitation.

In appearance the great Whig landowners gave their support to Pitt, and
in 1794 some of their leaders, the duke of Portland, Lord Fitzwilliam,
and Windham, entered the cabinet to serve under him. In reality it was
Pitt who had surrendered. The ministry and the party by which it was
supported might call themselves Tory still; but the great reforming
policy of 1784 was at an end, and the government, unconscious of its own
strength, conceived its main function to be at all costs to preserve the
constitution, which it believed to be in danger of being overwhelmed by
the rising tide of revolutionary feeling. That this belief was idle it
is now easy enough to see; at the time this was not so obvious. Thomas
Paine's _Rights of Man_, published in 1791, a brilliant and bitter
attack on the British constitution from the Jacobin point of view, sold
by tens of thousands. Revolutionary societies with high-sounding names
were established, of which the most conspicuous were the Revolution
Society, the Society for Constitutional Information, the London
Corresponding Society, and the Friends of the People. Of these, indeed,
only the two last were directly due to the example of France. The
Revolution Society, founded to commemorate the revolution of 1688, had
long carried on a respectable existence under the patronage of cabinet
ministers; the Society for Constitutional Information, of which Pitt
himself had been a member, was founded in 1780 to advocate parliamentary
reform; both had, however, developed under the influence of the events
in France in a revolutionary direction. The London Corresponding
Society, composed mainly of working-men, was the direct outcome of the
excitement caused by the developments of the French Revolution. Its
leaders were obscure and usually illiterate men, who delighted to
propound their theories for the universal reformation of society and the
state in rhetoric of which the characteristic phrases were borrowed from
the tribune of the Jacobin Club. Later generations have learned by
repeated experience that the eloquence of Hyde Park orators is not the
voice of England; there were some even then--among those not immediately
responsible for keeping order--who urged the government "to trust the
people";[6] but with the object-lesson of France before them it is not
altogether surprising that ministers refused to believe in the
harmlessness of societies, which not only kept up a fraternal
correspondence with the National Convention and the Jacobin Club, but,
by attempting to establish throughout the country a network of
affiliated clubs, were apparently aiming at setting up in Great Britain
the Jacobin idea of popular control.

The danger, of course, was absurdly exaggerated; as indeed was proved by
the very popularity of the repressive measures to which the government
thought it necessary to resort, and which gave to the vapourings of a
few knots of agitators the dignity of a widespread conspiracy for the
overthrow of the constitution. On the 1st of December 1792 a
proclamation was issued calling out the militia on the ground that a
dangerous spirit of tumult and disorder had been excited by
evil-disposed persons, acting in concert with persons in foreign parts,
and this statement was repeated in the king's speech at the opening of
parliament on the 13th. In spite of the protests of Sheridan and other
members of the opposition, a campaign of press and other prosecutions
now began which threatened to extinguish the most cherished right of
Englishmen--liberty of speech. The country was flooded with government
spies and informers, whose efforts were seconded by such voluntary
societies as the Association for preserving Liberty and Property against
Republicans and Levellers, founded by John Reeves, the historian of
English law. No one was safe from these zealous and too often credulous
defenders of the established order; and a few indiscreet words spoken in
a coffee house were enough to bring imprisonment and ruin, as in the
case of John Frost, a respectable attorney, condemned for sedition in
March 1793. In Scotland the panic, and the consequent cruelty, were
worse than in England. The meeting at Edinburgh of a "convention of
delegates of the associated friends of the people," at which some
foolish and exaggerated language was used, was followed by the trial of
Thomas Muir, a talented young advocate whose brilliant defence did not
save him from a sentence of fourteen years' transportation (August 30,
1793), while seven years' transportation was the punishment of the Rev.
T. Fyshe Palmer for circulating an address from "a society of the
friends of liberty to their fellow-citizens" in favour of a reform of
the House of Commons. These sentences and the proceedings which led up
to them, though attacked with bitter eloquence by Sheridan and Fox, were
confirmed by a large majority in parliament.

It was not, however, till late in the session of 1794 that ministers
laid before parliament any evidence of seditious practices. In May
certain leaders of democratic societies were arrested and their papers
seized, and on the 13th a king's message directed the books of certain
corresponding societies to be laid before both Houses. The committee of
the House of Commons at once reported that there was evidence of a
conspiracy to supersede the House of Commons by a national convention,
and Pitt proposed and carried a bill suspending the Habeas Corpus Act.
This was followed by further reports of the committees of both Houses,
presenting evidence of the secret manufacture of arms and of other
proceedings calculated to endanger the public peace. A series of state
prosecutions followed. The trials of Robert Watt and David Downie for
high treason (August and September 1794) actually revealed a treasonable
plot on the part of a few obscure individuals at Edinburgh, who were
found in the possession of no less than fifty-seven pikes of home
manufacture, wherewith to overthrow the British government. The
execution of Watt gave to this trial a note of tragedy which was absent
from that of certain members of the Corresponding Society, accused of
conspiring to murder the king by means of a poisoned arrow shot from an
air-gun. The ridicule that greeted the revelation of the "Pop-gun Plot"
marked the beginning of a reaction that found a more serious expression
in the trials of Thomas Hardy, John Horne Tooke and John Thelwall
(October and November 1794). The prisoners were accused of high treason,
their chief offence consisting in their attempt to assemble a general
convention of the people, ostensibly for the purpose of obtaining
parliamentary reform, but really--as the prosecution urged--for
subverting the constitution. This latter charge, though proved to the
satisfaction of the committees of both Houses of Parliament, broke down
under the cross-examination of the government witnesses by the counsel
for the defence, and could indeed only have been substantiated by a
dangerous stretching of the doctrine of constructive treason. Happily
the jury refused to convict, and its verdict saved the nation from the
disgrace of meting out the extreme penalty of high treason to an attempt
to hold a public meeting for the redress of grievances.

The common sense of a British jury had preserved, in spite of parliament
and ministry, that free right of meeting which was to be one of the
strongest instruments of future reform. The government, however, saw
little reason in the events of the following months for reversing their
coercive policy. The year 1795 was one of great suffering and great
popular unrest; for the effect of the war upon industry was now
beginning to be felt, and the distress had been aggravated by two bad
harvests. The sudden determination of those in power, who had hitherto
advocated reform, to stereotype the existing system, closed the avenues
of hope to those who had expected an improvement of their lot from
constitutional changes, and the disaffected temper of the populace that
resulted was taken advantage of by the London Corresponding Society,
emboldened by its triumph in the courts, to organize open and really
dangerous demonstrations, such as the vast mass meeting at Copenhagen
House on the 26th of October. On the 29th of October the king, on his
way to open parliament, was attacked by an angry mob shouting, "Give us
bread," "No Pitt," "No war," "No famine,"; and the glass panels of his
state coach were smashed to pieces.

The result of these demonstrations was the introduction in the House of
Lords, on the 4th of November, of the Treasonable Practices Bill, the
main principle of which was that it modified the law of treason by
dispensing with the necessity for the proof of an overt act in order to
secure conviction; and in the House of Commons, on the 10th, of the
Seditious Meetings Bill, which seriously limited the right of public
meeting, making all meetings of over fifty persons, as well as all
political debates and lectures, subject to the previous consent and
active supervision of the magistrates. In spite of the strenuous
resistance of the opposition, led by Fox, and of numerous meetings of
protest held outside the walls of parliament, both bills passed into law
by enormous majorities. The inevitable result followed. The London
Corresponding Society and other political clubs, deprived of the right
of public meeting, became secret societies pledged to the overthrow of
the existing system by any means. United Englishmen and United Scotsmen
plotted with United Irishmen for a French invasion, and sedition was
fomented in the army and the navy. Their baneful activities were exposed
in the inquiries that followed the Irish rebellion of 1798, and the
result was the Corresponding Societies Bill, introduced by Pitt on the
19th of April 1799, which completed the series of repressive measures
and practically suspended the popular constitution of England. The right
of public meeting, of free speech, of the free press had alike ceased
for the time to exist.

  The Revolutionary War.

The justification of the government in all this was the life and death
struggle in which Great Britain was engaged with the power of republican
France in Europe. Yet Pitt's conduct of the war, so far as the continent
was concerned, had hitherto led to nothing but failure after failure. In
1794, in spite of the presence of an English army under the duke of
York, the Austrian Netherlands had been finally conquered and annexed to
the French republic; in 1795 the Dutch republic was affiliated to that
of France, and the peace of Basel between Prussia and the French
republic left Austria to continue the war alone with the aid of British
subsidies. On the sea Great Britain had been more successful, Howe's
victory of the 1st of June 1794 being the first of the long series of
defeats inflicted on the French navy, while in 1795 a beginning was made
of the vast expansion of the British Empire by the capture of Ceylon and
the Cape of Good Hope from the Dutch (see FRENCH REVOLUTIONARY WARS).
The war, however, had become so expensive, and its results were
evidently so small, that there was a growing feeling in England in
favour of peace, especially as the Reign of Terror had come to an end in
1794, and a regular government, the Directory, had been appointed in
1795. At last Pitt was forced to yield to the popular clamour, and in
1796 Lord Malmesbury was sent to France to treat for peace. The
negotiation, however, was at once broken off by his demand that France
should abandon the Netherlands.

  Hoche's expedition to Ireland.

The French government, assured now of the assistance of Spain and
Holland, and freed of the danger from La Vendée, now determined to
attempt the invasion of Ireland. On the 16th of December a fleet of 17
battle-ships, 13 frigates and 15 smaller vessels set sail from Brest,
carrying an expeditionary force of some 13,000 men under General Hoche.
The British fleet, under Lord Bridport, was wintering at Spithead; and
before it could put to sea the French had slipped past. Before it
reached the coast of Ireland, however, the French fleet had already
suffered serious losses, owing partly to the attacks of British frigate
detachments, partly to the bad seamanship of the French crews and the
rottenness of the ships. Only a part of the fleet succeeded in reaching
Bantry Bay on the 20th of December, and of these a large number were
scattered by a storm on the 23rd. Hoche himself, with the French
admiral, had been driven far to the westward in an effort to avoid
capture; the attempt of Grouchy, in his absence, to land a force was
defeated by the weather, and by the end of the month the whole
expedition was in full retreat for Brest. A French diversion on the
coast of Pembroke was even less successful; a force of 1500 men, under
Colonel Tate, an American adventurer, landed in Cardigan Bay on the 22nd
of February 1797, but was at once surrounded by the local militia and
surrendered without a blow.

  Mutinies at Spithead and the Nore.

  Battle of Camperdown.

A more serious attempt was now made to renew the enterprise by means of
a junction of the French, Spanish and Dutch fleets. The victory of
Jervis over the Spanish fleet at St Vincent on the 14th of February
postponed the imminence of the danger; but this again became acute owing
to the general disaffection in the fleet, which in April and May found
vent in the serious mutinies at Spithead and the Nore. The mutiny at
Spithead, which was due solely to the intolerable conditions under which
the seamen served at the time, was ended on the 17th of May by
concessions: an increase of pay, the removal of officers who had abused
their power of discipline, and the promise of a general free pardon.
More serious was the outbreak at the Nore. The disaffection had spread
practically to the whole of Admiral Duncan's fleet, and by the beginning
of June the mutineers were blockading the Thames with no less than 26
vessels. The demands of the seamen were more extensive than at Spithead;
their resistance was better organized; and they were suspected, though
without reason, of harbouring revolutionary designs. The return of the
Channel fleet to its duty emboldened the admiralty to refuse any
concessions, and the vigorous measures of repression taken proved
effective. One by one the mutinous crews surrendered; and the arrest of
the ringleader, Richard Parker, on board the "Sandwich," on the 14th of
June, brought the affair to an end.[7] The seamen regained their
reputation, and those who had been imprisoned their liberty, by Duncan's
victory over the Dutch fleet at Camperdown (October 11), by which the
immediate danger was averted. Though the French attempt at a concerted
invasion had failed, however, the Directory did not abandon the
enterprise, and commissioned Bonaparte to draw up fresh plans.

At the close of the year 1797 the position of Great Britain was indeed
sufficiently alarming. On the 18th of April, during the very crisis of
the mutiny at Spithead, Austria had signed with Bonaparte the
humiliating terms of the preliminary peace of Leoben, which six months
later were embodied in the treaty of Campo Formio (October 17). On the
10th of August Portugal had concluded a treaty with the French Republic;
and Great Britain was left without an ally in Europe. The mutiny at the
Nore, the threat of rebellion in Ireland, the alarming fall in consols,
argued strongly against continuing the war single-handed, and in July
Lord Malmesbury had been sent to Lille to open fresh negotiations with
the plenipotentiaries of France. The negotiations broke down on the
refusal of England to restore the Cape of Good Hope to the Dutch. But
though forced, in spite of misgivings, to continue the struggle, the
British government in one very important respect was now in a far better
position to do so. For though Great Britain was now isolated and her
policy in Europe advertised as a failure, the temper of the British
people was less inclined to peace in 1798 than it had been three years
before. The early enthusiasm of the disfranchised classes for French
principles had cooled with the later developments of the Revolution; the
attempted invasions had roused the national spirit; and in the public
imagination the sinister figure of Bonaparte, the rapacious conqueror,
was beginning to loom large to the exclusion of lesser issues.
Henceforth, in spite of press prosecutions and trials for political
libel, the government was supported by public opinion in its vigorous
prosecution of the war.

  The Act of Union with Ireland.

  Resignation of Pitt.

If the danger of French invasion was a reality, it was so mainly owing
to the deplorable condition of Ireland, where the natural disaffection
of the Roman Catholic majority of the population--deprived of political
and many social rights, and exposed to the insults and oppression of a
Protestant minority corrupted by centuries of ascendancy--invited the
intervention of a foreign enemy. The full measure of the intolerable
conditions prevailing in the country was revealed by the horrors of the
rebellion of 1798, and after this had been suppressed Pitt decided that
the only way to deal with the situation was to establish a union between
Great Britain and Ireland, similar to that which had proved so
successful in the case of England and Scotland. He saw that to establish
peace in Ireland the Roman Catholics would have to be enfranchised; he
realized that to enfranchise them in a separated Ireland would be to
subject the proud Protestant minority to an impossible domination, and
to establish not peace but war. The Union, then, was in his view the
necessary preliminary to Catholic emancipation, which was at the same
time the reward held out to the majority of the Irish people for the
surrender of their national quasi-independence. It was a bribe little
likely to appeal to the Protestant minority which constituted the Irish
parliament, and to them other inducements had to be offered if the
scheme was to be carried through. These inducements were not all
corrupt. Those members who stood out were, indeed, bought by a lavish
distribution of money and coronets; but the advantages to Ireland which
might reasonably be expected from the Union were many and obvious; and
if all the promises held out by the promoters of the measure have even
now not been realized, the fault is not theirs. The Act of Union was
placed on the statute-book in 1800; Catholic emancipation was to have
been accomplished in the following session, the first of the united
parliament. But Pitt's policy broke on the stubborn obstinacy of George
III., who believed himself bound by his coronation oath to resist any
concession to the enemies of the Established Church. The disadvantage of
the possession of too strait a conscience in politics was never more
dismally illustrated. To the Irish people it was the first breach of
faith in connexion with the Union, and threw them into opposition to a
settlement into which they believed themselves to have been drawn under
false pretences. Pitt, realizing this, had no option but to resign.

  Bonaparte breaks up the coalition.

The resignation of the great minister who had so long held the reins of
power coincided with a critical situation in Europe. The isolation of
Bonaparte in Egypt, as the result of Nelson's victory of the Nile
(1798), had enabled the allies to recover some of the ground lost to
France. But this had merely increased Bonaparte's prestige, and on his
return in 1799 he found no difficulty in making himself master of France
by the _coup d'état_ of the 18th Brumaire. The campaign of Marengo
followed (1800) and the peace of Lunéville, which not only once more
isolated Great Britain, but raised up against her new enemies, to the
list of whom she added by using her command of the sea to enforce the
right of search in order to seize enemies' goods in neutral vessels.
Russia joined with Sweden and Denmark, all hitherto friendly powers, in
resistance to this claim.

  Addington ministry.

  The peace of Amiens.

Such was the position when Addington became prime minister. He was a man
of weak character and narrow intellect, whose main claim to succeed Pitt
was that he shared to the full the Protestant prejudices of king and
people. His tenure of power was, indeed, marked by British successes
abroad; by Nelson's victory at Copenhagen, which broke up the northern
alliance, and by Abercromby's victory at Alexandria, which forced the
French to evacuate Egypt; but these had been prepared by the previous
administration. Addington's real work was the peace of Amiens (1802), an
experimental peace, as the king called it, to see if the First Consul
could be contented to restrain himself within the very wide limits by
which his authority in Europe was still circumscribed.

  Renewal of the war.

  Pitt returns to office.

In a few months Great Britain was made aware that the experiment would
not succeed. Interference and annexation became the standing policy of
the new French government; and Britain, discovering how little intention
Bonaparte had of carrying out the spirit of the treaty, refused to
abandon Malta, as she had engaged to do by the terms of peace. The war
began again, no longer a war against revolutionary principles and their
propaganda, but against the boundless ambitions of a military conqueror.
This time the British nation was all but unanimous in resistance. This
time its resistance would be sooner or later supported by all that was
healthy in Europe. The news that Bonaparte was making preparations on a
vast scale for the invasion of England roused a stubborn spirit of
resistance in the country. Volunteers were enrolled, and the coast was
dotted with Martello towers, many of which yet remain as monuments of
the time when the "army of England" was encamped on the heights near
Boulogne within sight of the English cliffs. To meet so great a crisis
Addington was not the man. He had been ceaselessly assailed, in and out
of parliament, by the trenchant criticism, and often unmannerly wit, of
"Pitt's friends," among whom George Canning was now conspicuous. Pitt
himself had remained silent; but in view of the seriousness of the
crisis and of a threatened illness of the king, which would have
necessitated a regency and--in view of the prince of Wales's dislike for
him--his own permanent exclusion from office, he now put himself forward
once more. The government majorities in the House now rapidly dwindled;
on the 26th of April 1804, Addington resigned; and Pitt, after his
attempt to form a national coalition ministry had broken down on the
king's refusal to admit Fox, became head of a government constructed on
a narrow Tory basis. Of the members of the late government Lord Eldon,
the duke of Portland, Lord Westmorland, Lord Castlereagh and Lord
Hawkesbury retained office, the latter surrendering the foreign office
to Lord Harrowby and going to the home office. Dundas, now Lord
Melville, became first lord of the admiralty, and the cabinet further
included Lord Camden, Lord Mulgrave and the duke of Montrose. Canning,
Huskisson and Perceval were given subordinate offices.

  Battle of Trafalgar.


Save for the commanding personality of Pitt, the new government was
scarcely stronger than that which it had replaced. It had to face the
same Whig opposition, led by Fox, who scoffed at the French peril, and
reinforced by Addington and his friends; and the whole burden of meeting
this opposition fell upon Pitt; for Castlereagh, the only other member
of the cabinet in the House of Commons, was of little use in debate.
Nevertheless, fresh vigour was infused into the conduct of the war. The
Additional Forces Act, passed in the teeth of a strenuous opposition,
introduced the principle of a modified system of compulsion to
supplement the deficiencies of the army and reserve, while the navy was
largely increased. Abroad, Pitt's whole energies were directed to
forming a fresh coalition against Bonaparte, who, on the 14th of May
1804, had proclaimed himself emperor of the French; but it was a year
before Russia signed with Great Britain the treaty of St Petersburg
(April 11, 1805), and the accession to the coalition of Austria, Sweden
and Naples was not obtained till the following September. In the
following month (October 21) Nelson's crowning victory at Trafalgar over
the allied fleets of France and Spain relieved England of the dread of
invasion. It served, however, to precipitate the crisis on the continent
of Europe; the great army assembled at Boulogne was turned eastwards; by
the capitulation of Ulm (October 19) Austria lost a large part of her
forces; and the last news that reached Pitt on his death-bed was that of
the ruin of all his hopes by the crushing victory of Napoleon over the
Russians and Austrians at Austerlitz (December 2).

  Death of Pitt. "Ministry of all the Talents."

  Abolition of the slave-trade.

Pitt died on the 23rd of January, and the refusal of Lord Hawkesbury to
assume the premiership forced the king to summon Lord Grenville, and to
agree to the inclusion of Fox in the cabinet as secretary for foreign
affairs. Several members of Pitt's administration were admitted to this
"Ministry of all the Talents," including Addington (now Lord Sidmouth),
who had rejoined the ministry in December 1804 and again resigned, owing
to a disagreement with Pitt as to the charges against Lord Melville
(q.v.) in July 1805. The new ministry remained in office for a year, a
disastrous year which saw the culmination of Napoleon's power: the
crushing of Prussia in the campaign of Jena, the formation of the
Confederation of the Rhine and the end of the Holy Roman Empire. In the
conduct of the war the British government had displayed little skill,
frittering away its forces on distant expeditions, instead of
concentrating them in support of Prussia or Russia, and the chief title
to fame of the Ministry of all the Talents is that it secured the
passing of the bill for the abolition of the slave-trade (March 25,

  Catholic question.

The death of Fox (September 13, 1806) deprived the ministry of its
strongest member, and in the following March it fell on the old question
of concessions to the Roman Catholics. True to his principles, Fox had
done his best to negotiate terms of peace with Napoleon; but the
breakdown of the attempt had persuaded even the Whigs that an
arrangement was impossible, and in view of this fact Grenville thought
it his duty to advise the king that the disabilities of Roman Catholics
and dissenters in the matter of serving in the army and navy should be
removed, in order that all sections of the nation might be united in
face of the enemy. The situation, moreover, was in the highest degree
anomalous; for by an act passed in 1793 Roman Catholics might hold
commissions in the army in Ireland up to the rank of colonel, and this
right had not been extended to England, though by the Act of Union the
armies had become one. The king, however, was not to be moved from his
position; and he was supported in this attitude not only by public
opinion, but by a section of the ministry itself, of which Sidmouth made
himself the mouthpiece. The demand of George III. that ministers should
undertake never again to approach him on the subject of concessions to
the Catholics was rejected by Grenville, rightly, as unconstitutional,
and on the 18th of March 1807 he resigned.

  Portland ministry.

  The continental system.

  The Orders in Council.

  War with America.

The new ministry, under the nominal headship of the valetudinarian duke
of Portland, included Perceval as chancellor of the exchequer, Canning
as foreign secretary and Castlereagh as secretary for war and the
colonies. It had given the undertaking demanded by the king; those of
its members who, like Canning, were in favour of Catholic emancipation,
arguing that, in view of greater and more pressing questions, it was
useless to insist in a matter which could never be settled so long as
the old king lived. Of more importance to Great Britain, for the time
being, than any constitutional issues, was the life-and-death struggle
with Napoleon, which had now entered on a new phase. Defeated at sea,
but master now of the greater part of the continent of Europe, the
French emperor planned to bring Great Britain to terms by ruining her
commerce with the vast territories under his influence. In November 1806
he issued from Berlin the famous decree prohibiting the importation of
British goods and excluding from the harbours under his control even
neutral ships that had touched at British ports. The British government
replied by the famous Orders in Council of 1807, which declared all
vessels trading with France liable to seizure, and that all such vessels
clearing from France must touch at a British port to pay customs duties.
To this Napoleon responded with the Milan decree (December 17),
forbidding neutrals to trade in any articles imported from the British
dominions. The effects of these measures were destined to be
far-reaching. The Revolution had made war on princes and privilege, and
the common people had in general gained wherever the Napoleonic régime
had been substituted for their effete despotisms; but the "Continental
System" was felt as an oppression in every humble household, suddenly
deprived of the little imported luxuries, such as sugar and coffee,
which custom had made necessaries; and from this time date the
beginnings of that popular revolt against Napoleon that was to culminate
in the War of Liberation. Great Britain, too, was to suffer from her own
retaliatory policy. The Americans had taken advantage of the war to draw
into their own hands a large part of the British carrying trade, a
process greatly encouraged by the establishment of the Continental
System. This brought them into conflict with the British acting under
the Orders in Council, and the consequent ill-feeling culminated in the
war of 1812.

  Treaty of Tilsit.

  French Invasion of Spain and Portugal.

  Peninsular War.

It was not only the completion of the Continental System, however, that
made the year 1807 a fateful one for Great Britain. On the 7th of July
the young emperor Alexander I. of Russia, fascinated by Napoleon's
genius and bribed by the offer of a partition of the world, concluded
the treaty of Tilsit, which not only brought Russia into the Continental
System, but substituted for a coalition against France a formidable
coalition against England. A scheme for wresting from the British the
command of the sea was only defeated by Canning's action in ordering the
English fleet to capture the Danish navy, though Denmark was still
nominally a friendly power (see CANNING, GEORGE). Meanwhile, in order to
complete the ring fence round Europe against British commerce, Napoleon
had ordered Junot to invade Portugal; Lisbon was occupied by the French,
and the Portuguese royal family migrated to Brazil. In the following
year Napoleon seized the royal family of Spain, and gave the crown,
which Charles VI. resigned on behalf of himself and his heir, to his
brother Joseph, king of Naples. The revolt of the Spanish people that
followed was the first of the national uprisings against his rule by
which Napoleon was destined to be overthrown. In England it was greeted
with immense popular enthusiasm, and the government, without realizing
the full import of the step it was taking, sent an expedition to the
Peninsula. It disembarked, under the command of Sir Arthur Wellesley, at
Figueras on the 1st of August. It was the beginning of the Peninsular
War, which was destined not to end until, in 1814, the British troops
crossed the Pyrenees into France, while the Allies were pressing over
the Rhine. The political and military events on the continent of Europe
do not, however, belong strictly to English history, though they
profoundly affected its development, and they are dealt with elsewhere

  Walcheren expedition. Cabinet crisis.

  Perceval ministry.

  The regency.

The war, while it lasted, was of course the main preoccupation of
British ministers and of the British people. It entailed enormous
sacrifices, which led to corresponding discontents; and differences as
to its conduct produced frequent friction within the government itself.
A cabinet crisis was the result of the outcome of the unfortunate
Walcheren expedition of 1809. It had been Castlereagh's conception and,
had it been as well executed as it was conceived, it might have dealt a
fatal blow at Napoleon's hopes of recovering his power at sea, by
destroying his great naval establishments at Antwerp. It failed, and it
became the subject of angry dispute between Canning and Castlereagh, a
dispute embittered by personal rivalry and the friction due to the
ill-defined relations of the foreign secretary to the secretary for war;
the quarrel culminated in a duel, and in the resignation of both
duke of Portland resigned at the same time, and in the reconstruction of
the ministry, under Perceval as premier, Lord Wellesley became foreign
secretary, while Lord Liverpool, with Palmerston as his under-secretary,
succeeded Castlereagh at the war office. The most conspicuous member of
this government was Wellesley, whose main object in taking office was to
second his brother's efforts in the Peninsula. In this he was, however,
only partially successful, owing to the incapacity of his colleagues to
realize the unique importance of the operations in Spain. In November
1810 the old king's mind gave way, and on the 11th of February 1811, an
act of parliament bestowed the regency, under certain restrictions, upon
the prince of Wales. The prince had been on intimate terms with the Whig
leaders, and it was assumed that his accession to power would mean a
change of government. He had, however, been offended by their attitude
on the question of the restriction of his authority as regent, and he
continued Perceval in office. A year later, the king's insanity being
proved incurable, the regency was definitively established (February
1812). Lord Wellesley took advantage of the reconstruction of the
cabinet to resign a position in which he had not been given a free hand,
and his post of foreign secretary was offered to Canning. Canning,
however, refused to serve with Castlereagh as minister of war, and the
latter received the foreign office, which he was to hold till his death
in 1822. A month later, on the 11th of May, Perceval was assassinated in
the lobby of the House of Commons, and Lord Liverpool became the head of
a government that was to last till 1827.

  Liverpool ministry.

  Foreign policy of Castlereagh.

The period covered by the Liverpool administration was a fateful one in
the history of Europe. The year 1812 saw Napoleon's invasion of Russia,
and the disastrous retreat from Moscow. In the following year
Wellington's victory at Vitoria signalled the ruin of the French cause
in Spain; while Prussia threw off the yoke of France, and Austria,
realizing after cautious delay her chance of retrieving the humiliations
of 1809, joined the alliance, and in concert with Russia and the other
German powers overthrew Napoleon at Leipzig. The invasion of France
followed in 1814, the abdication of Napoleon, the restoration of the
Bourbons and the assembling of the congress of Vienna. The following
year saw the return of Napoleon from Elba, the close of the congress of
Vienna, and the campaign that ended with the battle of Waterloo. The
succeeding period, after so much storm and stress, might seem dull and
unprofitable; but it witnessed the instructive experiment of the
government of Europe by a concert of the great powers, and the first
victory of the new principle of nationality in the insurrection of the
Greeks. The share taken by Great Britain in all this, for which
Castlereagh pre-eminently must take the praise or blame, is outlined in
the article on the history of Europe (q.v.). Here it must suffice to
point out how closely the development of foreign affairs was interwoven
with that of home politics. The great war, so long as it lasted, was the
supreme affair of moment; the supreme interest when it was over was to
prevent its recurrence. For above all the world needed peace, in order
to recover from the exhaustion of the revolutionary epoch; and this
peace, bought at so great a cost, could be preserved only by the honest
co-operation of Great Britain in the great international alliance based
on "the treaties." This explains Castlereagh's policy at home and
abroad. He was grossly attacked by the Opposition in parliament and by
irresponsible critics, of the type of Byron, outside; historians, bred
in the atmosphere of mid-Victorian Liberalism, have re-echoed the cry
against him and the government of which he was the most distinguished
member; but history has largely justified his attitude. He was no friend
of arbitrary government; but he judged it better that "oppressed
nationalities" and "persecuted Liberals" should suffer than that Europe
should be again plunged into war. He was hated in his day as the
arch-opponent of reform, yet the triumph of the reform movement would
have been impossible but for the peace his policy secured.

  Character of the Tory party.

To say this is not to say that the attitude of the Tory government
towards the great issues of home politics was wholly, or even mainly,
inspired by a far-sighted wisdom. It had departed widely from the
Toryism of Pitt's younger years, which had sought to base itself on
popular support, as opposed to the aristocratic exclusiveness of the
Whigs. It conceived itself as the trustee of a system of government
which, however theoretically imperfect, alone of the governments of
Europe had survived the storms of the Revolution intact. To tamper with
a constitution that had so proved its quality seemed not so much a
sacrilege as a folly. The rigid conservatism that resulted from this
attitude served, indeed, a useful purpose in giving weight to
Castlereagh's counsels in the European concert; for Metternich at least,
wholly occupied with "propping up mouldering institutions," could not
have worked harmoniously with a minister suspected of an itch for
reform. At home, however, it undoubtedly tended to provoke that very
revolution which it was intended to prevent. This was due not so much to
the notorious corruption of the representative system as to the fact
that it represented social and economic conditions that were rapidly
passing away.

  Parliament and the industrial revolution.

  Corn Laws and Enclosure Acts.

  Repressive legislation.

Both Houses of Parliament were in the main assemblies of aristocrats and
landowners; but agriculture was ceasing to be the characteristic
industry of the country and the old semi-feudal relations of life were
in process of rapid dissolution. The invention of machinery and the
concentration of the working population in manufacturing centres had all
but destroyed the old village industries, and great populations were
growing up outside the traditional restraints of the old system of class
dependence. The distress inevitable in connexion with such an industrial
revolution was increased by the immense burden of the war and by the
high protective policy of the parliament, which restricted trade and
deliberately increased the price of food in the interests of the
agricultural classes. Between 1811 and 1814 bands of so-called
"Luddites," starving operatives out of work, scoured the country,
smashing machinery--the immediate cause of their misfortunes--and
committing every sort of outrage. The fault of the government lay, not
in taking vigorous measures for the suppression of these disorders, but
in remaining obstinately blind to the true causes that had produced
them. Ministers saw in the Luddite organization only another conspiracy
against the state; and, so far from seeking means for removing the
grievances that underlay popular disaffection, the activity of
parliament, inspired by the narrowest class interests, only tended to
increase them. The price of food, already raised by the war, was still
further increased by successive Corn Laws, and the artificial value thus
given to arable land led to the passing of Enclosure Bills, under which
the country people were deprived of their common rights with very
inadequate compensation, and life in the village communities was made
more and more difficult. In the circumstances it is not surprising that
the spirit of unrest grew apace. In 1815 the passing of a new Corn Law,
forbidding the importation of corn so long as the price for home-grown
wheat was under 80s. the quarter, led to riots in London. An attack made
on the prince regent at the opening of parliament on the 28th of January
1817 led to an inquiry, which revealed the existence of an elaborate
organization for the overthrow of the existing order. The repressive
measures of 1795 and 1799 were now revived and extended, and a bill
suspending the Habeas Corpus Act for a year was passed through both
Houses by a large majority. On the 27th of March Lord Sidmouth opened
the government campaign against the press by issuing a circular to the
lords-lieutenants, directing them to instruct the justices of the peace
to issue warrants for the arrest of any person charged on oath with
publishing blasphemous or seditious libels. The legality of this
suggestion was more than doubtful, but it was none the less acted on,
and a series of press prosecutions followed, some--as in the case of the
bookseller William Hone--on grounds so trivial that juries refused to
convict. William Cobbett, the most influential of the reform leaders, in
order to avoid arbitrary imprisonment, "deprived of pen, ink and paper,"
suspended the _Political Register_ and sailed for America. A disturbance
that was almost an armed insurrection, which broke out in Derbyshire in
June of this year, seemed to justify the severity of the government; it
was suppressed without great difficulty, and three of the ringleaders
were executed.

  Agitation for reform.

  The "Manchester Massacre."

It was, however, in 1819 that the conflict between the government and
the new popular forces culminated. Distress was acute; and in the
manufacturing towns mass meetings were held to discuss a remedy, which,
under the guidance of political agitators, was discovered in universal
suffrage and annual parliaments. The right to return members to
parliament was claimed for all communities; and since this right was
unconstitutionally withheld, unrepresented towns were invited to
exercise it in anticipation of its formal concession. At Birmingham,
accordingly, Sir Charles Wolseley was duly elected "legislatorial
attorney and representative" of the town. Manchester followed suit; but
the meeting arranged for the 9th of August was declared illegal by the
magistrates, on the strength of a royal proclamation against seditious
meetings issued on the 30th of July. Another meeting was accordingly
summoned for the undoubtedly legal purpose of petitioning parliament in
favour of reform. On the appointed day (August 16) thousands poured in
from the surrounding districts. These men had been previously drilled,
for the purpose, as their own leaders asserted, of enabling the vast
assemblage to be conducted in an orderly manner; for the purpose, as the
magistrates suspected, of preparing them for an armed insurrection. An
attempt was made by a party of yeomanry to arrest a popular agitator,
Henry Hunt; the angry mob surged round the horsemen, who found
themselves powerless; the Riot Act was read, and the 15th Hussars
charged the crowd with drawn swords. The meeting rapidly broke up, but
not before six had been killed and many injured. The "Manchester
Massacre" gave an immense impetus to the movement in favour of reform.
The employment of soldiers to suppress liberty of speech stirred up the
resentment of Englishmen as nothing else could have done, and this
resentment was increased by the conviction that the government was
engaged with the "Holy Alliance" in an unholy conspiracy against
liberty everywhere. The true tendency of Castlereagh's foreign policy
was not understood, nor had he any of the popular arts which would have
enabled Canning to carry public opinion with him in cases where a frank
explanation was impossible. The Liberals could see no more than that he
appeared to be committed to international engagements, the logical
outcome of which might be--as an orator of the Opposition put it--that
Cossacks would be encamped in Hyde Park for the purpose of overawing the
House of Commons.

  The "Six Acts."

The dangerous agitation that gave expression to this state of feeling
was met by the government in the session of November 1819 by the passing
of the famous Six Acts. The first of these deprived the defendant of the
right of traversing, but directed that he should be brought to trial
within a year; the second increased the penalties for seditious libel;
the third imposed the newspaper stamp duty on all pamphlets and the like
containing news; the fourth (Seditious Meetings Act) once more greatly
curtailed the liberty of public meetings; the fifth forbade the training
of persons in the use of arms; the sixth empowered magistrates to search
for and seize arms.

  Accession of George IV.

The apparent necessity for the passing of these exceptional measures was
increased by the imminent death of the old king, the tragic close of
whose long reign had won for him a measure of popular sympathy which was
wholly lacking in the case of the prince regent. On the 23rd of February
1820 George III. died, and the regent became king as George IV. This was
the signal for an outburst of popular discontent with the existing order
of a far more ominous character than any that had preceded it. The king
was generally loathed, not so much for his vices--which would have been,
in this case as in others, condoned in a more popular monarch--but for
the notorious meanness and selfishness of his character. Of these
qualities he took the occasion of his accession to make a fresh display.
He had long been separated from his wife, Caroline of Brunswick; he now
refused her the title of queen consort, forbade the mention of her name
in the liturgy, and persuaded the government to promote an inquiry in
parliament into her conduct, with a view to a divorce. Whatever grounds
there may have been for this action, popular sympathy was wholly with
Queen Caroline, who became the centre round which all the forces of
discontent rallied. The failure of the Bill of Pains and Penalties
against the queen, which was dropped after it had passed its third
reading in the Lords by a majority of only seven, was greeted as a great
popular triumph. The part played by the government in this unsavoury
affair had discredited them even in the eyes of the classes whose fear
of revolution had hitherto made them supporters of the established
system; and the movement for reform received a new stimulus.

  Beginnings of reform.

The Tory government itself realized the necessity for some concessions
to the growing public sentiment. In 1821 a small advance was made. The
reform bill (equal electoral districts) introduced by Lambton
(afterwards Lord Durham) was thrown out; but the corrupt borough of
Grampound in Cornwall was disfranchised and the seats transferred to the
county of York. Even more significant was the change in the cabinet,
which was strengthened by the admission of some of the more conservative
section of the Opposition, Lord Sidmouth retiring and Robert Peel
becoming home secretary. A bill for the removal of Catholic
disabilities, too, was carried in the Commons, though rejected in the
Lords; and the appointment of Lord Wellesley, an advocate of the
Catholic claims, to the lord-lieutenancy of Ireland marked yet another
stage in the settlement of a question which, more than anything else at
that time, kept Ireland and Irishmen in a state of chronic discontent
and agitation.

  George Canning.

It is not without significance that this modification of the policy of
the Tory government at home coincided with a modification of its
relations with the European powers. The tendency of Metternich's system
had long been growing distasteful to Castlereagh, who had consistently
protested against the attempt to constitute the Grand Alliance general
police of Europe and had specially protested against the Carlsbad
Decrees (q.v.). The first steps towards the inevitable breach with the
reactionary powers had already been taken before Castlereagh's tragic
death on the eve of the congress of Verona brought George Canning into
office as the executor of his policy. With Canning, foe of the
Revolution and all its works though he was, the old liberal Toryism of
Pitt's younger days seemed once more to emerge. It might have emerged in
any case; but Canning, with his brilliant popular gifts and his frank
appeal to popular support, gave it a revivifying stimulus which it would
never have received from an aristocrat of the type of Castlereagh.

  Changed tendency of British policy.

The new spirit was most conspicuous in foreign affairs; in the protest
of Great Britain against the action of the continental powers at Verona
(see VERONA, CONGRESS OF), in the recognition of the South American
republics, and later in the sympathetic attitude of the government
towards the insurrection in Greece. This policy had been foreshadowed in
the instructions drawn up by Castlereagh for his own guidance at Verona;
but Canning succeeded in giving it a popular and national colour and
thus removing from the government all suspicion of sympathy with the
reactionary spirit of the "Holy Alliance." In home affairs, too, the
government made tentative advances in a Liberal direction. In January
1823 Vansittart was succeeded as chancellor of the exchequer by Robinson
(afterwards Lord Goderich), and Huskisson became president of the Board
of Trade. The term of office of the latter was marked by the first
tentative efforts to modify the high protective system by which British
trade was hampered, especially by the Reciprocity of Duties Act (1823),
a modification of the Navigation Acts, by which British and foreign
shipping were placed on an equal footing, while the right to impose
restrictive duties on ships of powers refusing to reciprocate was
retained. In spite, however, of the improvement in trade that ultimately
resulted from these measures, there was great depression; in 1825 there
was a financial crisis that caused widespread ruin, and in 1826 the
misery of the labouring poor led to renewed riots and machinery
smashing. It became increasingly clear that a drastic alteration in the
existing system was absolutely inevitable. As to this necessity,
however, the ministry was in fact hopelessly divided. The government was
one of compromise, in which even so burning a question as Catholic
emancipation had been left open. Among its members were some--like the
lord chancellor Eldon, the duke of Wellington, and the premier, Lord
Liverpool, himself--whose Toryism was of the type crystallized under the
influence of the Revolution, adamant against change. Such progressive
measures as it had passed had been passed in the teeth of its own
nominal supporters, even of its own members. In 1826 Lord Palmerston,
himself a member of the government, wrote: "On the Catholic question, on
the principles of commerce, on the corn laws, on the settlement of the
currency, on the laws relating to trade in money, on colonial slavery,
on the game laws...; on all these questions, and everything like them,
the government will find support from the Whigs and resistance from
their self-denominated friends." It was, in fact, only the personal
influence of Liverpool that held the ministry together, and when, on the
17th of February 1827, he was seized with an apoplectic fit, a crisis
was inevitable.

  Catholic Emancipation and Corn Laws.

The crisis, indeed, arose before the nominal expiration of the Liverpool
administration. Two questions were, in the view of Canning and his
supporters, of supreme importance--Catholic emancipation and the reform
of the Corn Laws. The first of these had assumed a new urgency since the
formation in 1823 of the Catholic Association, which under the brilliant
leadership of Daniel O'Connell established in Ireland a national
organization that threatened the very basis of the government. In March
1826 Sir Francis Burdett had brought in a Catholic Relief Bill, which,
passed in the Commons, was thrown out by the Lords. A year later
Burdett's motion that the affairs of Ireland required immediate
attention, though supported by Canning, was rejected in the Commons. A
bill modifying the Corn Laws, introduced by Canning and Huskisson,
passed the House of Commons on the 12th of April 1827, but was rejected
by the Lords.

  Canning ministry.

  Wellington ministry.

  Catholic emancipation passed. Revolution of 1830.

Meanwhile (April 10) Canning had become prime minister, his appointment
being followed by the resignation of all the most conspicuous members of
the Liverpool administration: Wellington, Eldon, Melville, Bathurst,
Westmorland and Peel, the latter of whom resigned on account of his
opposition to Catholic emancipation. The new government had perforce to
rely on the Whigs, who took their seats on the government side of the
House, Lord Lansdowne being included in the cabinet. Before this
coalition could be completed, however, Canning died (August 8). The
short-lived Goderich administration followed; and in January 1828 the
king, weary of the effort to arrange a coalition, summoned the duke of
Wellington to office as head of a purely Tory cabinet. Yet the logic of
facts was too strong even for the stubborn spirit of the Iron Duke. In
May 1828, on the initiative of Lord John Russell, the Test and
Corporation Acts were repealed; in the same session a Corn Bill,
differing but little from those that Wellington had hitherto opposed,
was passed; and finally, after a strenuous agitation which culminated in
the election of O'Connell for Clare, and in spite of the obstinate
resistance of King George IV., the Catholic Emancipation Bill was passed
(April 10, 1829) by a large majority. On the 26th of June 1830 the king
died, exactly a month before the outbreak of the revolution in Paris
that hurled Charles X. from the throne and led to the establishment of
the Liberal Monarchy under Louis Philippe; a revolution that was to
exert a strong influence on the movement for reform in England.

  William IV.

  Whig ministry under Lord Grey.

  The great Reform Bill.

King William IV. ascended the throne at a critical moment in the history
of the English constitution. Everywhere misery and discontent were
apparent, manifesting themselves in riots against machinery, in
rick-burning on a large scale, and in the formation of trades unions
which tended to develop into organized armies of sedition. All the
elements of violent revolution were present. Nor was there anything in
the character of the new king greatly calculated to restore the damaged
prestige of the crown; for, if he lacked the evil qualities that had
caused George IV. to be loathed as well as despised, he lacked also the
sense of personal dignity that had been the saving grace of George,
while he shared the conservative and Protestant prejudices of his
predecessors. Reform was now inevitable. The Wellington ministry, hated
by the Liberals, denounced even by the Tories as traitorous for the few
concessions made, resigned on the 16th of November; and the Whigs at
last came into office under Lord Grey, the ministry also including a few
of the more Liberal Tories. Lord Durham, perhaps the most influential
leader of the reform movement, became privy seal, Althorp chancellor of
the exchequer, Palmerston foreign secretary, Melbourne home secretary,
Goderich colonial secretary. Lord John Russell, as paymaster-general,
and Stanley (afterwards Lord Derby), as secretary for Ireland, held
office outside the cabinet. With the actual House of Commons, however,
the government was powerless to effect its purpose. Though it succeeded
in carrying the second reading of the Reform Bill (March 21, 1831), it
was defeated in committee, and appealed to the country. The result was a
great governmental majority, and the bill passed the Commons in
September. Its rejection by the Lords on the 8th of October was the
signal for dangerous rioting; and in spite of the opposition of the
king, the bill was once more passed by the Commons (December 12). A
violent agitation marked the recess. On the 14th of April 1832 the bill
was read a second time in the Lords, but on the 7th of May was again
rejected, whereupon the government resigned. The attempt of Wellington,
at the king's instance, to form a ministry failed; of all the Tory
obstructionists he alone had the courage to face the popular rage. On
the 15th Lord Grey was in office again; the demand was made for a
sufficient creation of peers to swamp the House of Lords; the king, now
thoroughly alarmed, used his influence to persuade the peers to yield,
and on the 4th of June the great Reform Bill became law. Thus was
England spared the crisis of a bloody revolution, and proof given to the
world that her ancient constitution was sufficiently elastic to expand
with the needs of the times.

The effect of the Reform Bill, which abolished fifty-six "rotten"
boroughs, and by reducing the representation of others set free 143
seats, which were in part conferred on the new industrial centres, was
to transfer a large share of political power from the landed aristocracy
to the middle classes. Yet the opposition of the Tories had not been
wholly inspired by the desire to maintain the political predominance of
a class. Canning, who had the best reason for knowing, defended the
unreformed system on the ground that its very anomalies opened a variety
of paths by which talent could make its way into parliament, and thus
produced an assembly far more widely representative than could be
expected from a more uniform and logical system. This argument, which
the effect of progressive extensions of the franchise on the
intellectual level of parliament has certainly not tended to weaken, was
however far outweighed--as Canning himself would have come to see--by
the advantage of reconciling with the old constitution the new forces
which were destined during the century to transform the social
organization of the country. Nor, in spite of the drastic character of
the Reform Bill, did it in effect constitute a revolution. The 143 seats
set free were divided equally between the towns and the counties; and in
the counties the landowning aristocracy was still supreme. In the towns
the new £10 household franchise secured a democratic constituency; in
the counties the inclusion of tenants at will (of £50 annual rent), as
well as of copyholders and lease-holders, only tended to increase the
influence of the landlords. There was as yet no secret ballot to set the
voter free.

The result was apparent in the course of the next few years. The first
reformed parliament, which met on the 29th of January 1833, consisted in
the main of Whigs, with a sprinkling of Radicals and a compact body of
Liberal Tories under Sir Robert Peel. Its great work was the act
emancipating the slaves in the British colonies (August 30). Other
burning questions were the condition of Ireland, the scandal of the
established church there, the misery of the poor in England. In all
these matters the House showed little enough of the revolutionary
temper; so little, indeed, that in March Lord Durham resigned. To the
Whig leaders the church was all but as sacrosanct as to the Tories, the
very foundation of the constitution, not to be touched save at imminent
risk to the state; the most they would adventure was to remedy a few of
the more glaring abuses of an establishment imposed on an unwilling
population. As for O'Connell's agitation for the repeal of the Union,
that met with but scant sympathy in parliament; on the 27th of May 1834
his repeal motion was rejected by a large majority.

  Melbourne ministry.

  The "Conservative" party.

In July the Grey ministry resigned, and on the 16th Lord Melbourne
became prime minister. His short tenure of office is memorable for the
passing of the bill for the reform of the Poor Law (August). The
reckless system of outdoor relief, which had pauperized whole
neighbourhoods, was abolished, and the system of unions and workhouses
established (see POOR LAW). An attempt to divert some of the revenues of
the Irish Church led in the autumn to serious differences of opinion in
the cabinet; the king, as tenacious as his father of the exact
obligations of his coronation oath, dismissed the ministry, and called
the Tories to office under Sir Robert Peel and the duke of Wellington.
Thus, within three years of the passing of the Reform Bill, the party
which had most strenuously opposed it was again in office. Scarcely less
striking testimony to the constitutional temper of the English was given
by the new attitude of the party under the new conditions. In the
"Tamworth manifesto" of January 1835 Peel proclaimed the principles
which were henceforth to guide the party, no longer Tory, but
"Conservative." The Reform Bill and its consequences were frankly
accepted; further reforms were promised, especially in the matter of the
municipal corporations and of the disabilities of the dissenters. The
new parliament, however, which met on the 19th of February, was not
favourable to the ministry, which fell on the 8th of April. Lord
Melbourne once more came into office, and the Municipal Corporations Act
of the 7th of September was the work of a Liberal government. This was
the last measure of first-rate importance passed before the death of
King William, which occurred on the 20th of June 1837.

It is impossible to exaggerate the importance, not only for England but
for the world at large, of the epoch which culminated in the passing of
the Reform Bill of 1832. All Europe, whether Liberal or reactionary, was
watching the constitutional struggle with strained attention; the
principles of monarchy and of constitutional liberty were alike at
stake. To foreign observers it seemed impossible that the British
monarchy could survive. Baron Brunnow, the Russian ambassador in London,
sent home to the emperor Nicholas I. the most pessimistic reports.
According to Brunnow, King William, by using his influence to secure the
passage of the Reform Bill, had "cast his crown into the gutter"; the
throne might endure for his lifetime, but the next heir was a young and
inexperienced girl, and, even were the princess Victoria ever to mount
the throne--which was unlikely--she would be speedily swept off it again
by the rising tide of republicanism. The course of the next reign was
destined speedily to convince even Nicholas I. of the baselessness of
these fears, and to present to all Europe the exemplar of a progressive
state, in which the principles of traditional authority and democratic
liberty combined for the common good.     (W. A. P.)


  Queen Victoria's accession.

The death of William IV., on the 20th of June 1837, placed on the throne
of England a young princess, who was destined to reign for a longer
period than any of her predecessors. The new queen, the only daughter of
the duke of Kent, the fourth son of George III., had just attained her
majority. Educated in comparative seclusion, her character and her
person were unfamiliar to her future subjects, who were a little weary
of the extravagances and eccentricities of her immediate predecessors.
Her accession gave them a new interest in the house of Hanover. And
their loyalty, which would in any case have been excited by the
accession of a young and inexperienced girl to the throne of the
greatest empire in the world, was stimulated by her conduct and
appearance. She displayed from the first a dignity and good sense which
won the affection of the multitude who merely saw her in public, and the
confidence of the advisers who were admitted into her presence.

The ministry experienced immediate benefit from the change. The Whigs,
who had governed England since 1830, under Lord Grey and Lord Melbourne,
were suffering from the reaction which is the inevitable consequence of
revolution. The country which, in half-a-dozen years, had seen a radical
reform of parliament, a no less radical reform of municipal
corporations, the abolition of slavery, and the reconstruction of the
poor laws, was longing for a period of political repose. The alliance,
or understanding, between the Whigs and the Irish was increasing the
distrust of the English people in the ministry, and Lord Melbourne's
government, in the first half of 1837, seemed doomed to perish. The
accession of the queen gave it a new lease of power. The election,
indeed, which followed her accession did not materially alter the
composition of the House of Commons. But the popularity of the queen was
extended to her government. Taper's suggestion in _Coningsby_ that the
Conservatives should go to the country with the cry, "Our young queen
and our old institutions," expressed, in an epigram, a prevalent idea.
But the institution which derived most immediate benefit from the new
sovereign was the old Whig ministry.

  Lord Melbourne's difficulties.

The difficulties of the ministry, nevertheless, were great. In the
preceding years it had carried most of the reforms which were demanded
in Great Britain; but it had failed to obtain the assent of the House
of Lords to its Irish measures. It had desired (1) to follow up the
reform of English corporations by a corresponding reform of Irish
municipalities; (2) to convert the tithes, payable to the Irish Church,
into a rent charge, and to appropriate its surplus revenues to other
purposes; (3) to deal with the chronic distress of the Irish people by
extending to Ireland the principles of the English poor law. In the year
which succeeded the accession of the queen it accomplished two of these
objects. It passed an Irish poor law and a measure commuting tithes in
Ireland into a rent charge. The first of these measures was carried in
opposition to the views of the Irish, who thought that it imposed an
intolerable burden on Irish property. The second was only carried on the
government consenting to drop the appropriation clause, on which Lord
Melbourne's administration had virtually been founded.

  The bed-chamber question.

It was not, however, in domestic politics alone that the ministry was
hampered. In the months which immediately followed the queen's accession
news reached England of disturbances, or even insurrection in Canada.
The rising was easily put down; but the condition of the colony was so
grave that the ministry decided to suspend the constitution of lower
Canada for three years, and to send out Lord Durham with almost
dictatorial powers. Lord Durham's conduct was, unfortunately, marked by
indiscretions which led to his resignation; but before leaving the
colony he drew up a report on its condition and on its future, which
practically became a text-book for his successors, and has influenced
the government of British colonies ever since. Nor was Canada the only
great colony which was seething with discontent. In Jamaica the
planters, who had sullenly accepted the abolition of slavery, were
irritated by the passage of an act of parliament intended to remedy some
grave abuses in the management of the prisons of the island. The
colonial House of Assembly denounced this act as a violation of its
rights, and determined to desist from its legislative functions. The
governor dissolved the assembly, but the new house, elected in its
place, reaffirmed the decision of its predecessor; and the British
ministry, in face of the crisis, asked parliament in 1839 for authority
to suspend the constitution of the island for five years. The bill
introduced for this purpose placed the Whig ministry in a position of
some embarrassment. The advocates of popular government, they were
inviting parliament, for a second time, to suspend representative
institutions in an important colony. Supported by only small and
dwindling majorities, they saw that it was hopeless to carry the
measure, and they decided on placing their resignations in the queen's
hands. The queen naturally sent for Sir Robert Peel, who undertook to
form a government. In the course of the negotiations, however, he stated
that it would be necessary to make certain changes in the household,
which contained some great ladies closely connected with the leaders of
the Whig party. The queen shrank from separating herself from ladies who
had surrounded her since she came to the throne, and Sir Robert
thereupon declined the task of forming a ministry. Technically he was
justified in adopting this course, but people generally felt that there
was some hardship in compelling a young queen to separate herself from
her companions and friends, and they consequently approved the decision
of Lord Melbourne to support the queen in her refusal, and to resume
office. The Whigs returned to place, but they could not be said to
return to power. They did not even venture to renew the original Jamaica
Bill. They substituted for it a modified proposal which they were unable
to carry. They were obviously indebted for office to the favour of the
queen, and not to the support of parliament.

  Penny postage.

Yet the session of 1839 was not without important results. After a long
struggle, in which ministers narrowly escaped defeat in the Commons, and
in the course of which they suffered severe rebuffs in the Lords, they
succeeded in laying the foundation of the English system of national
education. In the same session they were forced against their will to
adopt a reform, which had been recommended by Rowland Hill, and to
confer on the nation the benefit of a uniform penny postage. No member
of the cabinet foresaw the consequences of this reform. The
postmaster-general, Lord Lichfield, in opposing it, declared that, if
the revenue of his office was to be maintained, the correspondence of
the country, on which postage was paid, must be increased from
42,000,000 to 480,000,000 letters a year, and he contended that there
were neither people to write, nor machinery to deal with, so prodigious
a mass of letters. He would have been astonished to hear that, before
the end of the century, his office had to deal with more than
3,000,000,000 postal packets a year, and that the net profit which it
paid into the exchequer was to be more than double what it received in

  Fiscal policy.

In 1840 the ministry was not much more successful than it had proved in
1839. After years of conflict it succeeded indeed in placing on the
statute book a measure dealing with Irish municipalities. But its
success was purchased by concessions to the Lords, which deprived the
measure of much of its original merit. The closing years of the Whig
administration were largely occupied with the financial difficulties of
the country. The first three years of the queen's reign were memorable
for a constantly deficient revenue. The deficit amounted to £1,400,000
in 1837, to £400,000 in 1838, and to £1,457,000 in 1839. Baring, the
chancellor of the exchequer, endeavoured to terminate this deficiency by
a general increase of taxation, but this device proved a disastrous
failure. The deficit rose to £1,842,000 in 1840. It was obvious that the
old expedient of increasing taxation had failed, and that some new
method had to be substituted for it. This new method Baring tried to
discover in altering the differential duties on timber and sugar, and
substituting a fixed duty of 8s. per quarter for the sliding duties
hitherto payable on wheat. By these alterations he expected to secure a
large increase of revenue, and at the same time to maintain a sufficient
degree of protection for colonial produce. The Conservatives, who
believed in protection, at once attacked the proposed alteration of the
sugar duties. They were reinforced by many Liberals, who cared very
little for protection, but a great deal about the abolition of slavery,
and consequently objected to reducing the duties on foreign or
slave-grown sugar. This combination of interests proved too strong for
Baring and his proposal was rejected. As ministers, however, did not
resign on their defeat, Sir Robert Peel followed up his victory by
moving a vote of want of confidence, and this motion was carried in an
exceptionally full house by 312 votes to 311.

  Sir R. Peel forms a ministry.

Before abandoning the struggle, the Whigs decided on appealing from the
House of Commons to the country. The general election which ensued
largely increased the strength of the Conservative party. On the meeting
of the new parliament in August 1841, votes of want of confidence in the
government were proposed and carried in both houses; the Whigs were
compelled to resign office, and the queen again charged Sir Robert Peel
with the task of forming a government. If the queen had remained
unmarried, it is possible that the friction which had arisen in 1839
might have recurred in 1841. In February 1840, however, Her Majesty had
married her cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. She was,
therefore, no longer dependent on the Whig ladies, to whose presence in
her court she had attached so much importance in 1839. By the management
of the prince--who later in the reign was known as the prince
consort--the great ladies of the household voluntarily tendered their
resignations; and every obstacle to the formation of the new government
was in this way removed.

Thus the Whigs retired from the offices which, except for a brief
interval in 1834-1835, they had held for eleven years. During the
earlier years of their administration they had succeeded in carrying
many memorable reforms: during the later years their weakness in the
House of Commons had prevented their passing any considerable measures.
But, if they had failed in this respect, Lord Melbourne had rendered
conspicuous service to the queen. Enjoying her full confidence,
consulted by her on every occasion, he had always used his influence for
the public good; and perhaps those who look back now with so much
satisfaction at the queen's conduct during a reign of unexampled length,
imperfectly appreciate the debt which in this respect is owed to her
first prime minister. The closing years of the Whig government were
marked by external complications. A controversy on the boundary of
Canada and the United States was provoking increasing bitterness on both
sides of the Atlantic. The intervention of Lord Palmerston in Syria,
which resulted in a great military success at Acre, was embittering the
relations between France and England, while the unfortunate expedition
to Afghanistan, which the Whigs had approved, was already producing
embarrassment, and was about to result in disaster. Serious, however, as
were the complications which surrounded British policy in Europe, in the
East, and in America, the country, in August 1841, paid more attention
to what a great writer called the "condition of England" question. There
had never been a period in British history when distress and crime had
been so general. There had hardly ever been a period when food had been
so dear, when wages had been so low, when poverty had been so
widespread, and the condition of the lower orders so depraved and so
hopeless, as in the early years of the queen's reign. The condition of
the people had prompted the formation of two great associations. The
Chartists derived their name from the charter which set out their
demands. The rejection of a monster petition which they presented to
parliament in 1839 led to a formidable riot in Birmingham, and to a
projected march from South Wales on London, in which twenty persons were
shot dead at Newport. Another organization, in one sense even more
formidable than the Chartist, was agitating at the same time for the
repeal of the corn laws, and was known as the Anti-Corn Law League. It
had already secured the services of two men, Cobden and Bright, who, one
by clear reasoning, the other by fervid eloquence, were destined to make
a profound impression on all classes of the people.

  Budget reforms.

The new government had, therefore, to deal with a position of almost
unexampled difficulty. The people were apparently sinking into deeper
poverty and misery year after year. As an outward and visible sign of
the inward distress, the state was no longer able to pay its way. It was
estimated that the deficit, which had amounted to £1,842,000 in 1840,
would reach £2,334,000 in 1841. It is the signal merit of Sir Robert
Peel that he terminated this era of private distress and public
deficits. He accomplished this task partly by economical
administration--for no minister ever valued economy more--and partly by
a reform of the financial system, effected in three great budgets. In
the budget of 1842 Sir Robert Peel terminated the deficit by reviving
the income tax. The proceeds of the tax, which was fixed at 7d. in the
£, and was granted in the first instance for three years, were more than
sufficient to secure this object. Sir Robert used the surplus to reform
the whole customs tariff. The duties on raw materials, he proposed,
should never exceed 5%, the duties on partly manufactured articles 12%,
and the duties on manufactured articles 20% of their value. At the same
time he reduced the duties on stage coaches, on foreign and colonial
coffee, on foreign and colonial timber, and repealed the export duties
on British manufactures. The success of this budget in stimulating
consumption and in promoting trade induced Sir Robert Peel to follow it
up in 1845 with an even more remarkable proposal. Instead of allowing
the income tax to expire, he induced parliament to continue it for a
further period, and with the resources which were thus placed at his
disposal he purged the tariff of various small duties which produced
little revenue, and had been imposed for purposes of protection. He
swept away all the duties on British exports; he repealed the duties on
glass, on cotton wool, and still further reduced the duties on foreign
and colonial sugar. This budget was a much greater step towards free
trade than the budget of 1842. The chief object in his third budget in
1846--the reduction of the duty on corn to 1s. a quarter--was
necessitated by causes which will be immediately referred to. But it
will be convenient at once to refer to its other features. Sir Robert
Peel told the house that, in his previous budgets, he had given the
manufacturers of the country free access to the raw materials which they
used. He was entitled in return to call upon them to relinquish the
protection which they enjoyed. He decided, therefore, to reduce the
protective duties on cotton, woollen, silk, metal and other goods, as
well as on raw materials still liable to heavy taxation, such as timber
and tallow. As the policy of 1842 and 1845 had proved unquestionably
successful in stimulating trade, he proposed to extend it to
agriculture. He reduced the duties on the raw materials which the
farmers used, such as seed and maize, and in return he called on them to
give up the duties on cattle and meat, to reduce largely the duties on
butter, cheese and hops, and to diminish the duty on corn by gradual
stages to 1s. a quarter. In making these changes Sir Robert Peel avowed
that it was his object to make the country a cheap one to live in. There
is no doubt that they were followed by a remarkable development of
British trade. In the twenty-seven years from 1815 to 1842 the export
trade of Great Britain diminished from £49,600,000 to £47,280,000; while
in the twenty-seven years which succeeded 1842 it increased from
£47,280,000 to nearly £190,000,000. These figures are a simple and
enduring monument to the minister's memory. It is fair to add that the
whole increase was not due to free trade. It was partly attributable to
the remarkable development of communications which marked this period.

Two other financial measures of great importance were accomplished in
Sir Robert Peel's ministry. In 1844 some £250,000,000 of the national
debt still bore an interest of 3½%. The improvement in the credit of the
country enabled the government to reduce the interest on the stock to
3¼% for the succeeding ten years, and to 3% afterwards. This conversion,
which effected an immediate saving of £625,000, and an ultimate saving
of £1,250,000 a year, was by far the most important measure which had
hitherto been applied to the debt; and no operation on the same scale
was attempted for more than forty years. In the same year the necessity
of renewing the charter of the Bank of England afforded Sir Robert Peel
an opportunity of reforming the currency. He separated the issue
department from the banking department of the bank, and decided that in
future it should only be at liberty to issue notes against (1) the debt
of £14,000,000 due to it from the government, and (2) any bullion
actually in its coffers. Few measures of the past century have been the
subject of more controversy than this famous act, and at one time its
repeated suspension in periods of financial crises seemed to suggest the
necessity of its amendment. But opinion on the whole has vindicated its
wisdom, and it has survived all the attacks which have been made upon


  Free trade.

The administration of Sir Robert Peel is also remarkable for its Irish
policy. The Irish, under O'Connell, had constantly supported the Whig
ministry of Lord Melbourne. But their alliance, or understanding, with
the Whigs had not procured them all the results which they had expected
from it. The two great Whig measures, dealing with the church and the
municipalities, had only been passed after years of controversy, and in
a shape which deprived them of many expected advantages. Hence arose a
notion in Ireland that nothing was to be expected from a British
parliament, and hence began a movement for the repeal of the union which
had been accomplished in 1801. This agitation, which smouldered during
the reign of the Whig ministry, was rapidly revived when Sir Robert Peel
entered upon office. The Irish contributed large sums, which were known
as repeal rent, to the cause, and they held monster meetings in various
parts of Ireland to stimulate the demand for repeal. The ministry met
this campaign by coercive legislation regulating the use of arms, by
quartering large bodies of troops in Ireland, and by prohibiting a great
meeting at Clontarf, the scene of Brian Boru's victory, in the immediate
neighbourhood of Dublin. They further decided in 1843 to place O'Connell
and some of the leading agitators on their trial for conspiracy and
sedition. O'Connell was tried before a jury chosen from a defective
panel, was convicted on an indictment which contained many counts, and
the court passed sentence without distinguishing between these counts.
These irregularities induced the House of Lords to reverse the
judgment, and its reversal did much to prevent mischief. O'Connell's
illness, which resulted in his death in 1847, tended also to establish
peace. Sir Robert Peel wisely endeavoured to stifle agitation by making
considerable concessions to Irish sentiment. He increased the grant
which was made to the Roman Catholic College at Maynooth; he established
three colleges in the north, south and west of Ireland for the
undenominational education of the middle classes; he appointed a
commission--the Devon commission, as it was called, from the name of the
nobleman who presided over it--to investigate the conditions on which
Irish land was held; and, after the report of the commission, he
introduced, though he failed to carry, a measure for remedying some of
the grievances of the Irish tenants. These wise concessions might
possibly have had some effect in pacifying Ireland, if, in the autumn of
1845, they had not been forgotten in the presence of a disaster which
suddenly fell on that unhappy country. The potato, which was the sole
food of at least half the people of an overcrowded island, failed, and a
famine of unprecedented proportions was obviously imminent. Sir Robert
Peel, whose original views on protection had been rapidly yielding to
the arguments afforded by the success of his own budgets, concluded that
it was impossible to provide for the necessities of Ireland without
suspending the corn laws; and that, if they were once suspended, it
would be equally impossible to restore them. He failed, however, to
convince two prominent members of his cabinet--Lord Stanley and the duke
of Buccleuch--that protection must be finally abandoned, and considering
it hopeless to persevere with a disunited cabinet he resigned office. On
Sir Robert's resignation the queen sent for Lord John Russell, who had
led the Liberal party in the House of Commons with conspicuous ability
for more than ten years, and charged him with the task of forming a new
ministry. Differences, which it proved impossible to remove, between two
prominent Whigs--Lord Palmerston and Lord Grey--made the task
impracticable, and after an interval Sir Robert Peel consented to resume
power. Sir Robert Peel was probably aware that his fall had been only
postponed. In the four years and a half during which his ministry had
lasted he had done much to estrange his party. They said, with some
truth, that, whether his measures were right or wrong, they were opposed
to the principles which he had been placed in power to support. The
general election of 1841 had been mainly fought on the rival policies of
protection and free trade. The country had decided for protection, and
Sir R. Peel had done more than all his predecessors to give it free
trade. The Conservative party, moreover, was closely allied with the
church, and Sir Robert had offended the church by giving an increased
endowment to Maynooth, and by establishing undenominational
colleges--"godless colleges" as they were called--in Ireland. The
Conservatives were, therefore, sullenly discontented with the conduct of
their leader. They were lashed into positive fury by the proposal which
he was now making to abolish the corn laws. Lord George Bentinck, who,
in his youth, had been private secretary to Canning, but who in his
maturer years had devoted more time to the turf than to politics, placed
himself at their head. He was assisted by a remarkable man--Benjamin
Disraeli--who joined great abilities to great ambition, and who,
embittered by Sir Robert Peel's neglect to appoint him to office, had
already displayed his animosity to the minister. The policy on which Sir
Robert Peel resolved facilitated attack. For the minister thought it
necessary, while providing against famine by repealing the corn laws, to
ensure the preservation of order by a new coercion bill. The financial
bill and the coercion bill were both pressed forward, and each gave
opportunities for discussion and, what was then new in parliament, for
obstruction. At last, on the very night on which the fiscal proposals of
the ministers were accepted by the Lords, the coercion bill was defeated
in the Commons by a combination of Whigs, radicals and protectionists;
and Sir R. Peel, worn out with a protracted struggle, placed his
resignation in the queen's hands.

  Peel's foreign policy.

Thus fell the great minister, who perhaps had conferred more benefits on
his country than any of his predecessors. The external policy of his
ministry had been almost as remarkable as its domestic programme. When
he accepted office the country was on the eve of a great disaster in
India; it was engaged in a serious dispute with the United States; and
its relations with France were so strained that the two great countries
of western Europe seemed unlikely to be able to settle their differences
without war. In the earlier years of his administration the disaster in
Afghanistan was repaired in a successful campaign; and Lord
Ellenborough, who was sent over to replace Lord Auckland as
governor-general, increased the dominion and responsibilities of the
East India Company by the unscrupulous but brilliant policy which led to
the conquest of Sind. The disputes with the United States were
satisfactorily composed; and not only were the differences with France
terminated, but a perfect understanding was formed between the two
countries, under which Guizot, the prime minister of France, and Lord
Aberdeen, the foreign minister of England, agreed to compromise all
minor questions for the sake of securing the paramount object of peace.
The good understanding was so complete that a disagreeable incident in
the Sandwich Islands, in which the injudicious conduct of a French agent
very nearly precipitated hostilities, was amicably settled; and the
ministry had the satisfaction of knowing that, if their policy had
produced prosperity at home, it had also maintained peace abroad.

  The Spanish marriages.

On Sir R. Peel's resignation the queen again sent for Lord John Russell.
The difficulties which had prevented his forming a ministry in the
previous year were satisfactorily arranged, and Lord Palmerston accepted
the seals of the foreign office, while Lord Grey was sent to the
colonial office. The history of the succeeding years was destined,
however, to prove that Lord Grey had had solid reasons for objecting to
Lord Palmerston's return to his old post; for, whatever judgment may
ultimately be formed on Lord Palmerston's foreign policy, there can be
little doubt that it did not tend to the maintenance of peace. The first
occasion on which danger was threatened arose immediately after the
installation of the new ministry on the question of the Spanish
marriages. The queen of Spain, Isabella, was a young girl still in her
teens; the heir to the throne was her younger sister, the infanta
Fernanda. Diplomacy had long been occupied with the marriages of these
children; and Lord Aberdeen had virtually accepted the principle, which
the French government had laid down, that a husband for the queen should
be found among the descendants of Philip V., and that her sister's
marriage to the duc de Montpensier--a son of Louis Philippe--should not
be celebrated till the queen was married and had issue. While agreeing
to this compromise, Lord Aberdeen declared that he regarded the Spanish
marriages as a Spanish, and not as a European question, and that, if it
proved impossible to find a suitable consort for the queen among the
descendants of Philip V., Spain must be free to choose a prince for her
throne elsewhere. The available descendants of Philip V. were the two
sons of Don Francis, the younger brother of Don Carlos, and of these the
French government was in favour of the elder, while the British
government preferred the younger brother. Lord Palmerston strongly
objected to the prince whom the French government supported; and, almost
immediately after acceding to office, he wrote a despatch in which he
enumerated the various candidates for the queen of Spain's hand,
including Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg, a near relation of the prince
consort, among the number. Louis Philippe regarded this despatch as a
departure from the principle on which he had agreed with Lord Aberdeen,
and at once hurried on the simultaneous marriages of the queen with the
French candidate, and of her sister with the duc de Montpensier. His
action broke up the _entente cordiale_ which had been established
between Guizot and Lord Aberdeen.

  Don Pacifico.

The second occasion on which Lord Palmerston's vigorous diplomacy
excited alarm arose out of the revolution which broke out almost
universally in Europe in 1848. A rising in Hungary was suppressed by
Austria with Russian assistance, and after its suppression many leading
Hungarians took refuge in Turkish territory. Austria and Russia
addressed demands to the Porte for their surrender. Lord Palmerston
determined to support the Porte in its refusal to give up these exiles,
and actually sent the British fleet to the Dardanelles with this object.
His success raised the credit of Great Britain and his own reputation.
The presence of the British fleet, however, at the Dardanelles suggested
to him the possibility of settling another long-standing controversy.
For years British subjects settled in Greece had raised complaints
against the Greek government. In particular Don Pacifico, a Jew, but a
native of Gibraltar, complained that, at a riot, in which his house had
been attacked, he had lost jewels, furniture and papers which he alleged
to be worth more than £30,000. As Lord Palmerston was unable by
correspondence to induce the Greek government to settle claims of this
character, he determined to enforce them; and by his orders a large
number of Greek vessels were seized and detained by the British fleet.
The French government tendered its good offices to compose the dispute,
and an arrangement was actually arrived at between Lord Palmerston and
the French minister in London. Unfortunately, before its terms reached
Greece, the British minister at Athens had ordered the resumption of
hostilities, and had compelled the Greek government to submit to more
humiliating conditions. News of this settlement excited the strongest
feelings both in Paris and London. In Paris, Prince Louis Napoleon, who
had acceded to the presidency of the French republic, decided on
recalling his representative from the British court. In London the Lords
passed a vote of censure on Lord Palmerston's proceedings; and the
Commons only sustained the minister by adopting a resolution approving
in general terms the principles on which the foreign policy of the
country had been conducted.

  Palmerston dismissed.

In pursuing the vigorous policy which characterized his tenure of the
foreign office, Lord Palmerston frequently omitted to consult his
colleagues in the cabinet, the prime minister, or the queen. In the
course of 1849 Her Majesty formally complained to Lord John Russell that
important despatches were sent off without her knowledge; and an
arrangement was made under which Lord Palmerston undertook to submit
every despatch to the queen through the prime minister. In 1850, after
the Don Pacifico debate, the queen repeated these commands in a much
stronger memorandum. But Lord Palmerston, though all confidence between
himself and the court was destroyed, continued in office. In the autumn
of 1851 the queen was much annoyed at hearing that he had received a
deputation at the foreign office, which had waited on him to express
sympathy with the Hungarian refugees, and to denounce the conduct of
"the despots and tyrants" of Russia and Austria, and that he had, in his
reply, expressed his gratification at the demonstration. If the queen
had had her way, Lord Palmerston would have been removed from the
foreign office after this incident. A few days later the _coup d'état_
in Paris led to another dispute. The cabinet decided to do nothing that
could wear the appearance of interference in the internal affairs of
France; but Lord Palmerston, in conversation with the French minister in
London, took upon himself to approve the bold and decisive step taken by
the president. The ministry naturally refused to tolerate this conduct,
and Lord Palmerston was summarily removed from his office.

  Irish famine.

The removal of Lord Palmerston led almost directly to the fall of the
Whig government. Before relating, however, the exact occurrences which
produced its defeat, it is necessary to retrace our steps and describe
the policy which it had pursued in internal matters during the six years
in which it had been in power. Throughout that period the Irish famine
had been its chief anxiety and difficulty. Sir Robert Peel had attempted
to deal with it (1) by purchasing large quantities of Indian corn, which
he had retailed at low prices in Ireland, and (2) by enabling the grand
juries to employ the people on public works, which were to be paid out
of moneys advanced by the state, one-half being ultimately repayable by
the locality. These measures were not entirely successful. It was
found, in practice, that the sale of Indian corn at low prices by the
government checked the efforts of private individuals to supply food;
and that the offer of comparatively easy work to the poor at the cost of
the public, prevented their seeking harder private work either in
Ireland or in Great Britain. The new government, with this experience
before it, decided on trusting to private enterprise to supply the
necessary food, and on throwing the whole cost of the works which the
locality might undertake on local funds. If the famine had been less
severe, this policy might possibly have succeeded. Universal want,
however, paralysed every one. The people, destitute of other means of
livelihood, crowded to the relief works. In the beginning of 1847 nearly
750,000 persons--or nearly one person out of every ten in Ireland--were
so employed. With such vast multitudes to relieve, it proved
impracticable to exact the labour which was required as a test of
destitution. The roads, which it was decided to make, were blocked by
the labourers employed upon them, and by the stones, which the labourers
were supposed to crush for their repair. In the presence of this
difficulty the government decided, early in 1847, gradually to
discontinue the relief works, and to substitute for them relief
committees charged with the task of feeding the people. At one time no
less than 3,000,000 persons--more than one-third of the entire
population of Ireland--were supported by these committees. At the same
time it decided on adopting two measures of a more permanent character.
The poor law of 1838 had made no provision for the relief of the poor
outside the workhouse, and outdoor relief was sanctioned by an act of
1847. Irish landlords complained that their properties, ruined by the
famine, and encumbered by the extravagances of their predecessors, could
not bear the cost of this new poor law; and the ministry introduced and
carried a measure enabling the embarrassed owners of life estates to
sell their property and discharge their liabilities. It is the constant
misfortune of Ireland that the measures intended for her relief
aggravate her distress. The encumbered estates act, though it
substituted a solvent for an insolvent proprietary, placed the Irish
tenants at the mercy of landlords of whom they had no previous
knowledge, who were frequently absentees, who bought the land as a
matter of business, and who dealt with it on business principles by
raising the rent. The new poor law, by throwing the maintenance of the
poor on the soil, encouraged landlords to extricate themselves from
their responsibilities by evicting their tenants. Evictions were made on
a scale which elicited from Sir Robert Peel an expression of the deepest
abhorrence. The unfortunate persons driven from their holdings and
forced to seek a refuge in the towns, in England, or--when they could
afford it--in the United States, carried with them everywhere the seeds
of disease, the constant handmaid of famine.

  Rebellion of 1848.

Famine, mortality and emigration left their mark on Ireland. In four
years, from 1845 to 1849, its population decreased from 8,295,000 to
7,256,000, or by more than a million persons; and the decline which took
place at that time went on to the end of the century. The population of
Ireland in 1901 had decreased to 4,457,000 souls. This fact is the more
remarkable, because Ireland is almost the only portion of the British
empire, or indeed of the civilized world, where such a circumstance has
occurred. We must go to countries like the Asiatic provinces of Turkey,
devastated by Ottoman rule, to find such a diminution in the numbers of
the people as was seen in Ireland during the last half of the 19th
century. It was probably inevitable that the distress of Ireland should
have been followed by a renewal of Irish outrages. A terrible series of
agrarian crimes was committed in the autumn of 1847; and the ministry
felt compelled, in consequence, to strengthen its hands by a new measure
of coercion, and by suspending the Habeas Corpus Act in Ireland. The
latter measure at once brought to a crisis the so-called rebellion of
1848, for his share in which Smith O'Brien, an Irish member of
parliament, was convicted of high treason. The government, however, did
not venture to carry out the grim sentence which the law still applied
to traitors, and introduced an act enabling it to commute the death
penalty to transportation. The "insurrection" had from the first proved
abortive. With Smith O'Brien's transportation it practically terminated.


In the meanwhile the difficulties which the government was experiencing
from the Irish famine had been aggravated by a grave commercial crisis
in England. In the autumn of 1847 a series of failures in the great
commercial centres created a panic in the city of London, which forced
consols down to 78, and induced the government to take upon itself the
responsibility of suspending the Bank Charter Act. That step, enabling
the directors of the Bank of England to issue notes unsecured by
bullion, had the effect of gradually restoring confidence. But a grave
commercial crisis of this character is often attended with other than
financial consequences. The stringency of the money market increases the
distress of the industrial classes by diminishing the demand for work;
and, when labour suffers, political agitation flourishes. Early in 1848,
moreover, revolutions on the continent produced a natural craving for
changes at home. Louis Philippe was driven out of Paris, the emperor of
Austria was driven out of Vienna, the Austrian soldiery had to withdraw
from Milan, and even in Berlin the crown had to make terms with the
people. While thrones were falling or tottering in every country in
Europe, it was inevitable that excitement and agitation should prevail
in Great Britain. The Chartists, reviving the machinery which they had
endeavoured to employ in 1839, decided on preparing a monster petition
to parliament, which was to be escorted to Westminster by a monster
procession. Their preparations excited general alarm, and on the
invitation of the government no less than 170,000 special constables
were sworn in to protect life and property against a rabble. By the
judicious arrangements, however, which were made by the duke of
Wellington, the peace of the metropolis was secured. The Chartists were
induced to abandon the procession which had caused so much alarm, and
the monster petition was carried in a cab to the House of Commons. There
it was mercilessly picked to pieces by a select committee. It was found
that, instead of containing nearly 6,000,000 signatures, as its
originators had boasted, less than 2,000,000 names were attached to it.
Some of the names, moreover, were obviously fictitious, or even absurd.
The exposure of these facts turned the whole thing into ridicule, and
gave parliament an excuse for postponing measures of organic reform
which might otherwise have been brought forward.

  Navigation Acts.

If the ministry thus abstained from pressing forward a large scheme of
political reform, it succeeded in carrying two measures of the highest
commercial and social importance. In 1849 it supplemented the free trade
policy, which Sir Robert Peel had developed, by the repeal of the
Navigation Acts. Briefly stated, these acts, which had been originated
during the Protectorate of Cromwell, and continued after the
Restoration, reserved the whole coasting trade of the country for
British vessels and British seamen, and much of the foreign trade for
British vessels, commanded and chiefly manned by British subjects. The
acts, therefore, were in the strictest sense protective, but they were
also designed to increase the strength of Great Britain at sea, by
maintaining large numbers of British seamen. They had been defended by
Adam Smith on the ground that defence was "of much more importance than
opulence," and by the same reasoning they had been described by John
Stuart Mill as, "though economically disadvantageous, politically
expedient." The acts, however, threw a grave burden on British trade and
British shipowners. Their provisions by restricting competition
naturally tended to raise freights, and by restricting employment made
it difficult for shipowners to man their vessels. Accordingly the
government wisely determined on their repeal; and one of the last and
greatest battles between Free Trade and Protection was fought over the
question. The second reading of the government bill was carried in the
House of Lords by a majority of only ten: it would not have been carried
at all if the government had not secured a much larger number of proxies
than their opponents could obtain.

  Ten Hours Bill.

If the repeal of the Navigation Acts constituted a measure of the
highest commercial importance, the passage of the Ten Hours Bill in 1847
marked the first great advance in factory legislation. Something,
indeed, had already been done to remedy the evils arising from the
employment of women and very young children in factories and mines. In
1833 Lord Ashley, better known as Lord Shaftesbury, had carried the
first important Factory Act. In 1842 he had succeeded, with the help of
the striking report of a royal commission, in inducing parliament to
prohibit the employment of women and of boys under ten years of age in
mines. And in 1843 Sir James Graham, who was home secretary in Sir
Robert Peel's administration, had been compelled by the pressure of
public opinion to introduce a measure providing for the education of
children employed in factories, and for limiting the hours of work of
children and young persons. The educational clauses of this bill were
obviously framed in the interests of the Church of England, and raised a
heated controversy which led to the abandonment of the measure; and in
the following year Sir James Graham introduced a new bill dealing with
the labour question alone. Briefly stated, his proposal was that no
child under nine years of age should be employed in a factory, and that
no young person under eighteen should be employed for more than twelve
hours a day. This measure gave rise to the famous controversy on the ten
hours clause, which commenced in 1844 and was protracted till 1847. Lord
Ashley and the factory reformers contended, on the one hand, that ten
hours were long enough for any person to work; their opponents
maintained, on the contrary, that the adoption of the clause would
injure the working-classes by lowering the rate of wages, and ruin the
manufacturers by exposing them to foreign competition. In 1847 the
reform was at last adopted. It is a remarkable fact that it was carried
against the views of the leading statesmen on both sides of the House.
It was the triumph of common sense over official arguments.

  Death of Peel.

During the first four years of Lord John Russell's government, his
administration had never enjoyed any very large measure of popular
support, but it had been partly sustained by the advocacy of Sir Robert
Peel. The differences which estranged Sir Robert from his old supporters
were far greater than those which separated him from the Whigs, and the
latter were therefore constantly able to rely on his assistance. In the
summer of 1850, however, a lamentable accident--a fall from his
horse--deprived the country of the services of its great statesman. His
death naturally affected the position of parties. The small remnant of
able men, indeed, who had been associated with him in his famous
administration, still maintained an attitude of neutrality. But the bulk
of the Conservative party rallied under the lead of Lord Stanley
(afterwards Derby) in the House of Lords, and gradually submitted to,
rather than accepted, the lead of Disraeli in the House of Commons.

  Oxford movement.

In the autumn which succeeded Sir Robert Peel's death, an event which
had not been foreseen agitated the country and produced a crisis. During
the years which had succeeded the Reform Bill a great religious movement
had influenced politics both in England and Scotland. In England, a body
of eminent men at Oxford--of whom J. H., afterwards Cardinal, Newman was
the chief, but who numbered among their leaders Hurrell Froude, the
brother of the historian, and Keble, the author of the _Christian
Year_--endeavoured to prove that the doctrines of the Church of England
were identical with those of the primitive Catholic Church, and that
every Catholic doctrine might be held by those who were within its pale.
This view was explained in a remarkable series of tracts, which gave
their authors the name of Tractarians. The most famous of these, and the
last of the series, Tract XC., was published three years after the
queen's accession to the throne. In Scotland, the Presbyterian
Church--mainly under the guidance of Dr Chalmers, one of the most
eloquent preachers of the century--was simultaneously engaged in a
contest with the state on the subject of ecclesiastical patronage. Both
movements had this in common, that they indicated a revival of
religious energy, and aimed at vindicating the authority of the church,
and resisting the interference of the state in church matters. The
Scottish movement led to the disruption of the Church of Scotland and
the formation of the Free Church in 1843. The Tractarian movement was
ultimately terminated by the secession of Newman and many of his
associates from the Church of England, and their admission to the Church
of Rome. These secessions raised a feeling of alarm throughout England.
The people, thoroughly Protestant, were excited by the proofs--which
they thought were afforded--that the real object of the Tractarians was
to reconcile England with Rome; and practices which are now regarded as
venial or even praiseworthy--such as the wearing of the surplice in the
pulpit, and the institution of the weekly offertory--were denounced
because they were instituted by the Tractarians, and were regarded as
insidious devices to lead the country Romewards. The sympathies of the
Whigs, and especially of the Whig prime minister, Lord John Russell,
were with the people; and Lord John displayed his dislike to the
Romanizing tendencies of the Tractarians by appointing Renn Dickson
Hampden--whose views had been formally condemned by the Hebdomadal Board
at Oxford--to the bishopric of Hereford. The High Church party
endeavoured to oppose the appointment at every stage; but their attempts
exposed them to a serious defeat. The courts held that, though the
appointment of a bishop by the crown required confirmation in the
archbishop's court, the confirmation was a purely ministerial act which
could not be refused. The effort which the High Church party had made to
resist Dr Hampden's appointment had thus resulted in showing
conclusively that authority resided in the crown, and not in the
archbishop. It so happened that about the same time this view was
confirmed by another judicial decision. The lord chancellor presented
the Rev. G. C. Gorham to a living in Devonshire; and Dr Phillpotts, the
bishop of Exeter, declined to institute him, on the ground that he held
heretical views on the subject of baptism. The court of arches upheld
the bishop's decision. The finding of the court, however, was reversed
by the privy council, and its judgment dealt a new blow at the
Tractarian party. For it again showed that authority--even in
doctrine--resided in the crown and not in the church. Within a few
months of this famous decision the pope--perhaps encouraged by the
activity and despondency of the High Church party--issued a brief "for
re-establishing and extending the Catholic faith in England," and
proceeded to divide England and Wales into twelve sees. One of
them--Westminster--was made an archbishopric, and the new dignity was
conferred on Nicholas Patrick Stephen Wiseman, who was almost
immediately afterwards created cardinal. The publication of this brief
caused much excitement throughout the country, which was fanned by a
letter from the prime minister to the bishop of Durham, condemning the
brief as "insolent and insidious" and "inconsistent with the queen's
supremacy, with the rights of our bishops and clergy, and with the
spiritual independence of the nation." Somewhat unnecessarily the prime
minister went on to condemn the clergymen of the Church of England who
had subscribed the Thirty-nine Articles, "who have been the most forward
in leading their own flocks, step by step, to the very edge of the

  Ecclesiastical Titles Bill.

In accordance with the promise of Lord John Russell's letter, the
ministry, at the opening of the session of 1851, introduced a measure
forbidding the assumption of territorial titles by the priests and
bishops of the Roman Catholic Church, declaring all gifts made to them
and all acts done by them under these titles null and void, and
forfeiting to the crown all property bequeathed to them. The bill
naturally encountered opposition from many Liberals, while it failed to
excite any enthusiasm among Conservatives, who thought its remedies
inadequate. In the middle of the debates upon it the government was
defeated on another question--a proposal to reduce the county
franchise--and, feeling that it could no longer rely on the support of
the House of Commons, tendered its resignation. But Lord Stanley, whom
the queen entrusted with the duty of forming a new administration, was
compelled to decline the task, and Lord John resumed office. Mild as the
original Ecclesiastical Titles Bill had been thought, the new edition of
it, which was introduced after the restoration of the Whigs to power,
was still milder. Though, after protracted debates, it at last became
law, it satisfied nobody. Its provisions, as was soon found, could be
easily evaded, and the bill, which had caused so much excitement, and
had nearly precipitated the fall of a ministry, remained a dead letter.
The government, in fact, was experiencing the truth that, if a defeated
ministry may be occasionally restored to place, it cannot be restored to
power. The dismissal of Lord Palmerston from the foreign office in 1851
further increased the embarrassments of the government. In February 1852
it was defeated on a proposal to revive the militia, and resigned.

  French scare.

The circumstances which directly led to the defeat of the Whigs were, in
one sense, a consequence of the revolutionary wave which had swept over
Europe in 1848. The fall of Louis Philippe in that year created a panic
in Great Britain. Men thought that the unsettled state of France made
war probable, and they were alarmed at the defenceless condition of
England. Lord Palmerston, speaking in 1845, had declared that "steam had
bridged the Channel"; and the duke of Wellington had addressed a letter
to Sir John Burgoyne, in which he had demonstrated that the country was
not in a position to resist an invading force. The panic was so great
that the ministry felt it necessary to make exceptional provisions for
allaying it. Lord John Russell decided on asking parliament to sanction
increased armaments, and to raise the income tax to 1s. in the pound in
order to pay for them. The occasion deserves to be recollected as one on
which a prime minister, who was not also chancellor of the exchequer,
has himself proposed the budget of the year. But it was still more
memorable because the remedy which Lord John proposed at once destroyed
the panic which had suggested it. A certain increase of the income tax
to a shilling seemed a much more serious calamity than the uncertain
prospect of a possible invasion. The estimates were recast, the budget
was withdrawn, and the nation was content to dispense with any addition
to its military and naval strength. Events in France, in the meanwhile,
moved with railway speed. Louis Napoleon became president of the French
Republic: in 1852 he became emperor of the French. The new emperor,
indeed, took pains to reassure a troubled continent that "the empire was
peace." The people insisted on believing--and, as the event proved,
rightly--that the empire was war. Notwithstanding the success of the
Great Exhibition of 1851, which was supposed to inaugurate a new reign
of peace, the panic, which had been temporarily allayed in 1848, revived
at the close of 1851, and the government endeavoured to allay it by
reconstituting the militia. There were two possible expedients. An act
of 1757 had placed under the direct authority of the crown a militia
composed of men selected in each parish by ballot, liable to be called
out for active service, and to be placed under military law. But the act
had been supplemented by a series of statutes passed between 1808 and
1812, which had provided a local militia, raised, like the regular
militia, by ballot, but, unlike the latter, only liable for service for
the suppression of riots, or in the event of imminent invasion. Lord
John Russell's government, forced to do something by the state of public
opinion, but anxious--from the experience of 1848--to make that
something moderate, decided on reviving the local militia. Lord
Palmerston at once suggested that the regular and not the local militia
should be revived; and, in a small house of only 265 members, he
succeeded in carrying a resolution to that effect. He had, in this way,
what he called his "tit for tat" with Lord John; and the queen,
accepting her minister's resignation, sent for Lord Derby--for Lord
Stanley had now succeeded to this title--and charged him with the task
of forming a ministry.

  Lord Derby.

The government which Lord Derby succeeded in forming was composed almost
exclusively of the men who had rebelled against Sir Robert Peel in 1845.
It was led in the House of Commons by the brilliant, but somewhat
unscrupulous statesman who had headed the revolt. With the exception of
Lord Derby and one other man, its members had no experience of high
office; and it had no chance of commanding a majority of the House of
Commons in the existing parliament. It owed its position to the
divisions of its opponents. Profiting by their experience, it succeeded
in framing and passing a measure reconstituting the regular militia,
which obtained general approval. It is perhaps worth observing that it
maintained the machinery of a ballot, but reserved it only in case
experience should prove that it was necessary. Voluntary enlistment
under the new Militia Bill was to be the rule: compulsory service was
only to be resorted to if voluntary enlistment should fail. This
success, to a certain extent, strengthened the position of the new
ministry. It was obvious, however, that its stability would ultimately
be determined by its financial policy. Composed of the men who had
resisted the free trade measures of the previous decade, its fate
depended on its attitude towards free trade. In forming his
administration Lord Derby had found it necessary to declare that, though
he was still in favour of a tax on corn, he should take no steps in this
direction till the country had received an opportunity of expressing its
opinion. His leader in the House of Commons went much further, and
declared that the time had gone by for reverting to protection. The view
which Disraeli thus propounded in defiance of his previous opinions was
confirmed by the electors on the dissolution of parliament. Though the
new government obtained some increased strength from the result of the
polls, the country, it was evident, had no intention of abandoning the
policy of free trade, which by this time, it was clear, had conferred
substantial benefits on all classes. When the new parliament met in the
autumn of 1852, it was at once plain that the issue would be determined
on the rival merits of the old and the new financial systems. Disraeli
courted the decision by at once bringing forward the budget, which
custom, and perhaps convenience, would have justified him in postponing
till the following spring. His proposal--in which he avowedly threw over
his friends on the ground that "he had greater subjects to consider than
the triumph of obsolete opinions"--was, in effect, an attempt to
conciliate his old supporters by a policy of doles, and to find the
means for doing so by the increased taxation of the middle classes. He
offered to relieve the shipping interest by transferring some of the
cost of lighting the coasts to the Consolidated Fund; the West India
interest by sanctioning the refining of sugar in bond; and the landed
classes by reducing the malt tax by one-half, and by repealing the old
war duty on hops. He suggested that the cost of these measures should be
defrayed by extending the income tax to Ireland to industrial incomes of
£100 and to permanent incomes of £50 a year, as well as by doubling the
house tax, and extending it to all £10 householders. The weight,
therefore, of these measures was either purposely or unintentionally
thrown mainly on persons living in houses worth from £10 to £20 a year,
or on persons in receipt of incomes from £50 to £150 a year. This defect
in the budget was exposed in a great speech by Gladstone, which did much
to ensure the defeat of the scheme and the fall of the ministry.

  Coalition, 1853.

On the resignation of Lord Derby, the queen, anxious to terminate a
period of weak governments, decided on endeavouring to combine in one
cabinet the chiefs of the Whig party and the followers of Sir Robert
Peel. With this view she sent both for Lord Aberdeen, who had held the
foreign office under Sir Robert, and for Lord Lansdowne, who was the
Nestor of the Whigs; and with Lord Lansdowne's concurrence charged Lord
Aberdeen with the task of forming a government. In the new ministry Lord
Aberdeen became first lord of the treasury, Gladstone chancellor of the
exchequer, Lord John Russell foreign minister--though he was almost
immediately replaced in the foreign office by Lord Clarendon, and
himself assumed the presidency of the council. Lord Palmerston went to
the home office. One other appointment must also be mentioned. The
secretary of state for the colonies was also at that time secretary of
state for war. No one in 1852, however, regarded that office as of
material importance, and it was entrusted by Lord Aberdeen to an amiable
and conscientious nobleman, the duke of Newcastle.

  Budget of 1853.

The first session of the Aberdeen administration will be chiefly
recollected for the remarkable budget which Gladstone brought forward.
It constituted a worthy supplement to the measures of 1842, 1845 and
1846. Gladstone swept away the duty on one great necessary of
life--soap; he repealed the duties on 123 other articles; he reduced the
duties on 133 others, among them that on tea; and he found means for
paying for these reforms and for the gradual reduction and ultimate
abolition of the income tax, which had become very unpopular, by (1)
extending the tax to incomes of £100 a year; (2) an increase of the
spirit duties; and (3) applying the death duties to real property, and
to property passing by settlement. There can be little doubt that this
great proposal was one of the most striking which had ever been brought
forward in the House of Commons; there can also, unhappily, be no doubt
that its promises and intentions were frustrated by events which proved
too strong for its author. For Gladstone, in framing his budget, had
contemplated a continuance of peace, and the country was, unhappily,
already drifting into war.

  The holy places.

For some years an obscure quarrel had been conducted at Constantinople
about the custody of the holy places at Jerusalem. France, relying on a
treaty concluded in the first half of the 18th century, claimed the
guardianship of these places for the Latin Church. But the rights which
the Latin Church had thus obtained had practically fallen into disuse,
while the Greek branch of the Christian Church had occupied and repaired
the shrines which the Latins had neglected. In the years which preceded
1853, however, France had shown more activity in asserting her claims;
and the new emperor of the French, anxious to conciliate the church
which had supported his elevation to the throne, had a keen interest in
upholding them. If, for reasons of policy, the emperor had grounds for
his action, he had personal motives for thwarting the tsar of Russia;
for the latter potentate had been foolish enough, in recognizing the
second empire, to address its sovereign as "Mon Cher Ami," instead of,
in the customary language of sovereigns, as "Monsieur Mon Frère." Thus,
at the close of 1852, and in the beginning of 1853, Russia and France
were both addressing opposite and irreconcilable demands to the Porte,
and France was already talking of sending her fleet to the Dardanelles,
while Russia was placing an army corps on active service and despatching
Prince Menshikov on a special mission to Constantinople. So far the
quarrel which had occurred at the Porte was obviously one in which Great
Britain had no concern. The Aberdeen ministry, however, thought it
desirable that it should be represented in the crisis by a strong man at
Constantinople; and it selected Lord Stratford de Redcliffe for the
post, which he had filled in former years with marked ability. Whatever
merits Lord Stratford possessed--and he stands out in current diplomacy
as the one strong man whom England had abroad--there was no doubt that
he had this disqualification: the emperor Nicholas had refused some
years before to receive him as ambassador at St Petersburg, and Lord
Stratford had resented, and never forgiven, the discourtesy of this
refusal. Lord Stratford soon discovered that Prince Menshikov was the
bearer of larger demands, and that he was requiring the Porte to agree
to a treaty acknowledging the right of Russia to protect the Greek
Church throughout the Turkish dominions. By Lord Stratford's advice the
Porte--while making the requisite concession respecting the holy
places--refused to grant the new demand; and Prince Menshikov thereupon
withdrew from Constantinople.

The rejection of Prince Menshikov's ultimatum was followed by momentous
consequences. Russia--or rather her tsar--resolved on the occupation of
the Danubian principalities; the British ministry--though the quarrel
did not directly concern Great Britain--sent a fleet to the Dardanelles
and placed it under Lord Stratford's orders. Diplomacy, however, made a
fresh attempt to terminate the dispute, and in July 1853 a note was
agreed upon by the four neutral powers, France, Great Britain, Austria
and Prussia, which it was decided to present to Constantinople and St
Petersburg. This note, the adoption of which would have ensured peace,
was accepted at St Petersburg; at Constantinople it was, unfortunately,
rejected, mainly on Lord Stratford's advice, and in opposition to his
instructions from home. Instead, however, of insisting on the adoption
of the note to which it had agreed, Lord Aberdeen's ministry recommended
the tsar to accept some amendments to it suggested by Lord Stratford,
which it was disposed to regard as unimportant. It then discovered,
however, that the tsar attached a meaning to the original note differing
from that which it had itself applied to it, and in conjunction with
France it thereupon ceased to recommend the Vienna note--as it was
called--for acceptance. This decision separated the two western powers
from Austria and Prussia, who were disposed to think that Russia had
done all that could have been required of her in accepting the note
which the four powers had agreed upon.

It was obvious that the control of the situation was passing from the
hands of the cabinet at home into those of Lord Stratford at
Constantinople. The ambassador, in fact, had the great advantage that he
knew his own mind; the cabinet laboured under the fatal disadvantage
that it had, collectively, no mind. Its chief, Lord Aberdeen, was
dominated by a desire to preserve peace; but he had not the requisite
force to control the stronger men who were nominally serving under him.
Lord John Russell was a little sore at his own treatment by his party.
He thought that he had a claim to the first place in the ministry, and
he did not, in consequence, give the full support to Lord Aberdeen which
the latter had a right to expect from him. Lord Palmerston, on the other
hand, had no personal grudge to nurture, but he was convinced that the
first duty of England was to support Turkey and to resist Russia. He
represented in the cabinet the views which Lord Stratford was enforcing
at Constantinople, and step by step Lord Stratford, thus supported,
drove the country nearer and nearer to war.

  Crimean War.

In October the Porte, encouraged by the presence of the British fleet in
the Bosporus, took the bold step of summoning the Russians to evacuate
the principalities. Following up this demand the Turkish troops attacked
the Russian army, and inflicted on it one or two sharp defeats. The
Russians retaliated by loosing their squadron from Sevastopol, and on
the 30th of November it attacked and destroyed the Turkish fleet at
Sinope. The massacre of Sinope--as it was rather inaccurately called in
Great Britain, for it is difficult to deny that it was a legitimate act
of a belligerent power--created an almost irresistible demand for war
among the British people. Yielding to popular opinion, the British
ministry assented to a suggestion of the French emperor that the fleets
of the allied powers should enter the Black Sea and "invite" every
Russian vessel to return to Sevastopol. The decision was taken at an
unfortunate hour. Diplomatists, pursuing their labours at Vienna, had
succeeded in drawing up a fresh note which they thought might prove
acceptable both at St Petersburg and at Constantinople. This note was
presented almost at the moment the tsar learned that the French and
British fleets had entered the Black Sea, and the Russian government,
instead of considering it, withdrew its ministers from London and Paris;
the French and British ambassadors were thereupon withdrawn from St
Petersburg. An ultimatum was soon afterwards addressed to Russia
requiring her to evacuate the principalities, and war began. In deciding
on war the British government relied on the capacity of its fleet, which
was entrusted to the command of Sir Charles Napier, to strike a great
blow in the Baltic. The fleet was despatched with extraordinary
rejoicings, and amidst loud and confident expressions of its certain
triumph. As a matter of fact it did very little. In the south of Europe,
however, the Turkish armies on the Danube, strengthened by the advice of
British officers, were more successful. The Russians were forced to
retire, and the principalities were evacuated. A prudent administration
might possibly have succeeded in stopping the war at this point. But the
temper of the country was by this time excited, and it was loudly
demanding something more than a preliminary success. It was resolved to
invade the Crimea and attack the great arsenal, Sevastopol, whence the
Russian fleet had sailed to Sinope, and in September 1854 the allied
armies landed in the Crimea. On the 20th the Russian army, strongly
posted on the banks of the Alma, was completely defeated, and it is
almost certain that, if the victory had been at once followed up,
Sevastopol would have fallen. The commanders of the allied armies,
however, hesitated to throw themselves against the forts erected to the
north of the town, and decided on the hazardous task of marching round
Sevastopol and attacking it from the south. The movement was
successfully carried out, but the Allies again hesitated to attempt an
immediate assault. The Russians, who were advised by Colonel Todleben,
the only military man who attained a great reputation in the war, thus
gained time to strengthen their position by earthworks; and the Allies
found themselves forced, with scanty preparations, to undertake a
regular siege against an enemy whose force was numerically superior to
their own. In the early days of the siege, indeed, the allied armies
were twice in great peril. A formidable attack on the 25th October on
the British position at Balaklava led to a series of encounters which
displayed the bravery of British troops, but did not enhance the
reputation of British commanders. A still more formidable sortie on the
5th of November was with difficulty repulsed at Inkerman. And the
Russians soon afterwards found, in the climate of the country, a
powerful ally. The allied armies, imperfectly organized, and badly
equipped for such a campaign, suffered severely from the hardships of a
Crimean winter. The whole expedition seemed likely to melt away from
want and disease.

  Palmerston's ministry.

The terrible condition of the army, vividly described in the letters
which the war correspondents of the newspapers sent home, aroused strong
feelings of indignation in Great Britain. When parliament met Roebuck
gave notice that he would move for a committee of inquiry. Lord John
Russell--who had already vainly urged in the cabinet that the duke of
Newcastle should be superseded, and the conduct of the war entrusted to
a stronger minister--resigned office. His resignation was followed by
the defeat of the government, and Lord Aberdeen, thus driven from power,
was succeeded by Lord Palmerston. In selecting him for the post, the
queen undoubtedly placed her seal on the wish of the country to carry
out the war to the bitter end. But it so happened that the formation of
a new ministry was accompanied by a fresh effort to make terms of peace.
Before the change of administration a conference had been decided on,
and Lord Palmerston entrusted its management to Lord John Russell. While
the latter was on his way to Vienna an event occurred which seemed at
first to facilitate his task. The tsar, worn out with disappointment,
suddenly died, and was succeeded by his son Alexander. Unfortunately the
conference failed, and the war went on for another year. In September
1855 the allied troops succeeded in obtaining possession of the southern
side of Sevastopol, and the emperor of the French, satisfied with this
partial success, or alarmed at the expense of the war, decided on
withdrawing from the struggle. The attitude of Napoleon made the
conclusion of peace only a question of time. In the beginning of 1856 a
congress to discuss the terms was assembled at Paris; in February
hostilities were suspended; and in April a treaty was concluded. The
peace set back the boundaries of Russia from the Danube to the Pruth; it
secured the free navigation of the first of these rivers; it opened the
Black Sea to the commercial navies of the world, closing it to vessels
of war, and forbidding the establishment of arsenals upon its shores.
The last condition, to which Great Britain attached most importance,
endured for about fourteen years. Peace without this provision could
undoubtedly have been secured at Vienna, and the prolongation of the war
from 1855 to 1856 only resulted in securing this arrangement for a
little more than one decade.

  Wars with Persia and China.

The Crimean War left other legacies behind it. The British government
had for some time regarded with anxiety the gradual encroachments of
Russia in central Asia. Russian diplomacy was exerting an increasing
influence in Persia, and the latter had always coveted the city of
Herat, which was popularly regarded as the gate of India. In 1856 the
Persian government, believing that England had her hands fully occupied
in the Crimea, seized Herat, and, in consequence, a fresh war--in which
a British army under Sir James Outram rapidly secured a victory--broke
out. The campaign, entered upon when parliament was not in session, was
unpopular in the country. A grave constitutional question, which was
ultimately settled by legislation, was raised as to the right of the
government to undertake military operations beyond the boundaries of
India without the consent of parliament. But the incidents of the
Persian war were soon forgotten in the presence of a still graver
crisis; for in the following year, 1857, the country suddenly found
itself involved in war with China, and face to face with one of the
greatest dangers which it has ever encountered--the mutiny of the sepoy
army in India. The Chinese war arose from the seizure by the Chinese
authorities of a small vessel, the "Arrow" commanded by a British
subject, and at one time holding a licence (which, however, had expired
at the time of the seizure) from the British superintendent at Hongkong,
and the detention of her crew on the charge of piracy. Sir John Bowring,
who represented Great Britain in China, failing to secure the reparation
and apology which he demanded, directed the British admiral to bombard
Canton. Lord Palmerston's cabinet decided to approve and support Sir
John Bowring's vigorous action. Cobden, however, brought forward a
motion in the House of Commons condemning these high-handed proceedings.
He succeeded in securing the co-operation of his own friends, of Lord
John Russell, and of other independent Liberals, as well as of the
Conservative party, and in inflicting a signal defeat on the government.
Lord Palmerston at once appealed from the House to the country. The
constituencies, imperfectly acquainted with the technical issues
involved in the dispute, rallied to the minister, who was upholding
British interests. Lord Palmerston obtained a decisive victory, and
returned to power apparently in irresistible strength. Lord Elgin had
already been sent to China with a considerable force to support the
demand for redress. On his way thither he learned that the British in
India were reduced to the last extremities by the mutiny of the native
army in Bengal, and, on the application of Lord Canning, the
governor-general, he decided on diverting the troops, intended to bring
the Chinese to reason, to the more pressing duty of saving India for the
British crown.

  Indian mutiny.

During the years which had followed the accession of the queen, the
territories and responsibilities of the East India Company had been
considerably enlarged by the annexation of Sind by Lord Ellenborough,
the conquest of the Punjab after two desperate military campaigns under
Lord Dalhousie, the conquest of Pegu, and the annexation of Oudh. These
great additions to the empire had naturally imposed an increased strain
on the Indian troops, while the British garrison, instead of being
augmented, had been depleted to meet the necessities of the Russian war.
Several circumstances, moreover, tended to propagate disaffection in the
Indian army. Indian troops operating outside the Company's dominions
were granted increased allowances, but these were automatically reduced
when conquest brought the provinces in which they were serving within
the British pale. The Sepoys again had an ineradicable dislike to serve
beyond the sea, and the invasion of Pegu necessitated their transport by
water to the seat of war. Finally, the invention of a new rifle led to
the introduction of a cartridge which, though it was officially denied
at the moment, was in fact lubricated with a mixture of cow's fat and
lard. The Sepoys thought that their caste would be destroyed if they
touched the fat of the sacred cow or unclean pig; they were even
persuaded that the British government wished to destroy their caste in
order to facilitate their conversion to Christianity. Isolated mutinies
in Bengal were succeeded by much more serious events at Cawnpore in
Oudh, and at Meerut in the North-West Provinces. From Meerut the
mutineers, after some acts of outrage and murder, moved on Delhi, the
capital of the old Mogul empire, which became the headquarters of the
mutiny. In Oudh the native regiments placed themselves under a Mahratta
chief, Nana Sahib, by whose orders the British in Cawnpore, including
the women and children, were foully murdered. In the summer of 1857
these events seemed to imperil British rule in India. In the autumn the
courage of the troops and the arrival of reinforcements gradually
restored the British cause. Delhi, after a memorable siege, was at last
taken by a brilliant assault. Lucknow, where a small British garrison
was besieged in the residency, was twice relieved, once temporarily by
Sir James Outram and General Havelock, and afterwards permanently by Sir
Colin Campbell, who had been sent out from England to take the chief
command. Subsequent military operations broke up the remnants of the
revolt, and in the beginning of 1858 the authority of the queen was
restored throughout India. The mutiny, however, had impressed its lesson
on the British people, and, as the first consequence, it was decided to
transfer the government from the old East India Company to the crown.
Lord Palmerston's administration was defeated on another issue before it
succeeded in carrying the measure which it introduced for the purpose,
though Lord Derby's second ministry, which succeeded it, was compelled
to frame its proposals on somewhat similar lines. The home government of
India was entrusted to a secretary of state, with a council to assist
him; and though the numbers of the council have been reduced, the form
of government which was then established has endured.


The cause which led to the second fall of Lord Palmerston was in one
sense unexpected. Some Italian refugees living in London, of whom Orsini
was the chief, formed a design to assassinate the emperor of the French.
On the evening of 14th January 1858, while the emperor, accompanied by
the empress, was driving to the opera, these men threw some bombs under
his carriage. The brutal attempt happily failed. Neither the emperor nor
the empress was injured by the explosion, but the carriage in which they
were driving was wrecked, and a large number of persons who happened to
be in the street at the time were either killed or wounded. This
horrible outrage naturally created indignation in France, and it
unfortunately became plain that the conspiracy had been hatched in
England, and that the bombs had been manufactured in Birmingham. On
these facts becoming known, Count Walewski, the chief of the French
foreign office, who was united by ties of blood to the emperor, called
on the British government to provide against the danger to which France
was exposed. "Ought the right of asylum to protect such a state of
things?" he asked. "Is hospitality due to assassins? Ought the British
legislature to continue to favour their designs and their plans? And can
it continue to shelter persons who by these flagrant acts place
themselves beyond the pale of common rights?" Lord Clarendon, the head
of the British foreign office, told the French ambassador, who read him
this despatch, that "no consideration on earth would induce the British
parliament to pass a measure for the extradition of political refugees,"
but he added that it was a question whether the law was as complete and
as stringent as it should be, and he stated that the government had
already referred the whole subject to the law officers of the crown for
their consideration. Having made these remarks, however, he judged it
wise to refrain from giving any formal reply to Count Walewski's
despatch, and contented himself with privately communicating to the
British ambassador in Paris the difficulties of the British government.
After receiving the opinion of the law officers the cabinet decided to
introduce a bill into parliament increasing in England the punishment
for a conspiracy to commit a felony either within or without the United
Kingdom. The first reading of this bill was passed by a considerable
majority. But, before the bill came on for a second reading, the
language which was being used in France created strong resentment in
England. The regiments of the French army sent addresses to the emperor
congratulating him on his escape and violently denouncing the British
people. Some of these addresses, which were published in the _Moniteur_,
spoke of London as "an assassins' den," and invited the emperor to give
his troops the order to destroy it. Such language did not make it easier
to alter the law in the manner desired by the government. The House of
Commons, reflecting the spirit of the country, blamed Lord Clarendon for
neglecting to answer Count Walewski's despatch, and blamed Lord
Palmerston for introducing a bill at French dictation. The feeling was
so strong that, when the Conspiracy Bill came on for a second reading,
an amendment hostile to the government was carried, and Lord Palmerston
at once resigned.

  Lord Derby's second ministry.

For a second time Lord Derby undertook the difficult task of carrying on
the work of government without the support of a majority of the House of
Commons. If the Liberal party had been united his attempt would have
failed immediately. In 1858, however, the Liberal party had no cohesion.
The wave of popularity which had carried Lord Palmerston to victory in
1857 had lost its strength. The Radicals, who were slowly recovering the
influence they had lost during the Crimean War, regarded even a
Conservative government as preferable to his return to power, while many
Liberals desired to entrust the fortunes of their party to the guidance
of their former chief, Lord John Russell. It was obvious to most men
that the dissensions thus visible in the Liberal ranks could be more
easily healed in the cold shade of the opposition benches than in the
warmer sunlight of office. And therefore, though no one had much
confidence in Lord Derby, or in the stability of his second
administration, every one was disposed to acquiesce in its temporary
occupation of office.

  Jews in parliament.

Ministries which exist by sufferance are necessarily compelled to adapt
their measures to the wishes of those who permit them to continue in
power. The second ministry of Lord Derby experienced the truth of this
rule. For some years a controversy had been conducted in the legislature
in reference to the admission of the Jews to parliament. This dispute
had been raised in 1847 into a question of practical moment by the
election of Baron Lionel Nathan Rothschild as representative of the City
of London, and its importance had been emphasized in 1851 by the return
of another Jew, Alderman Salomons, for another constituency. The Liberal
party generally in the House of Commons was in favour of such a
modification of the oaths as would enable the Jews so elected to take
their seats. The bulk of the Conservative party, on the contrary, and
the House of Lords, were strenuously opposed to the change. Early in
1858 the House of Commons, by an increased majority, passed a bill
amending the oaths imposed by law on members of both Houses, and
directing the omission of the words "on the true faith of a Christian"
from the oath of abjuration when it was taken by a Jew. If the
Conservatives had remained in opposition there can be little doubt that
this bill would have shared the fate of its predecessors and have been
rejected by the Lords. The lord chancellor, indeed, in speaking upon the
clause relieving the Jews, expressed a hope that the peers would not
hesitate to pronounce that our "Lord is king, be the people never so
impatient." But some Conservative peers realized the inconvenience of
maintaining a conflict between the two Houses when the Conservatives
were in power; and Lord Lucan, who had commanded the cavalry in the
Crimea, suggested as a compromise that either House should be authorized
by resolution to determine the form of oath to be administered to its
members. This solution was reluctantly accepted by Lord Derby, and Baron
Rothschild was thus enabled to take the seat from which he had been so
long excluded. Eight years afterwards parliament was induced to take a
fresh step in advance. It imposed a new oath from which the words which
disqualified the Jews were omitted. The door of the House of Lords was
thus thrown open, and in 1885 Baron Nathan Mayer Rothschild, raised to
the peerage, was enabled to take his seat in the upper chamber.

  Reform Bill, 1859.

This question was not the only one on which a Conservative government,
without a majority at its back, was compelled to make concessions. For
some years past a growing disposition had been displayed among the more
earnest Liberals to extend the provisions of the Reform Act of 1832.
Lord John Russell's ministry had been defeated in 1851 on a proposal of
Locke King to place £10 householders in counties on the same footing as
regards the franchise as £10 householders in towns, and Lord John
himself in 1854 had actually introduced a new Reform Bill. After the
general election of 1857 the demand for reform increased, and, in
accepting office in 1858, Lord Derby thought it necessary to declare
that, though he had maintained in opposition that the settlement of
1832, with all its anomalies, afforded adequate representation to all
classes, the promises of previous governments and the expectations of
the people imposed on him the duty of bringing forward legislation on
the subject. The scheme which Lord Derby's government adopted was
peculiar. Its chief proposal was the extension of the county franchise
to £10 householders. But it also proposed that persons possessing a 40s.
freehold in a borough should in future have a vote in the borough in
which their property was situated, and not in the county. The bill also
conferred the franchise on holders of a certain amount of stock, on
depositors in savings banks, on graduates of universities, and on other
persons qualified by position or education. The defect of the bill was
that it did nothing to meet the only real need of reform--the
enfranchisement of a certain proportion of the working classes. On the
contrary, in this respect it perpetuated the settlement of 1832. The £10
householder was still to furnish the bulk of the electorate, and the
ordinary working man could not afford to pay £10 a year for his house.
While the larger proposals of the bill were thus open to grave
objection, its subsidiary features provoked ridicule. The suggestions
that votes should be conferred on graduates and stockholders were
laughed at as "fancy franchises." The bill, moreover, was not brought
forward with the authority of a united cabinet. Two members of the
government--Spencer Walpole and Henley--declined to be responsible for
its provisions, and placed their resignations in Lord Derby's hands. In
Walpole's judgment the bill was objectionable because it afforded no
reasonable basis for a stable settlement. There was nothing in a £10
franchise which was capable of permanent defence, and if it was at once
applied to counties as well as boroughs it would sooner or later be
certain to be extended. He himself advocated with some force that it
would be wiser and more popular to fix the county franchise at £20 and
the borough franchise at £6 rateable value; and he contended that such a
settlement could be defended on the old principle that taxation and
representation should go together, for £20 was the minimum rent at which
the house tax commenced, and a rateable value of £6 was the point at
which the householder could not compound to pay his rates through this
landlord. Weakened by the defection of two of its more important
members, the government had little chance of obtaining the acceptance of
its scheme. An amendment by Lord John Russell, condemning its main
provisions, was adopted in an unusually full house by a substantial
majority, and the cabinet had no alternative but to resign or dissolve.
It chose the latter course. The general election, which almost
immediately took place, increased to some extent the strength of the
Conservative party. For the first time since their secession from Sir
Robert Peel the Conservatives commanded more than three hundred votes in
the House of Commons, but this increased strength was not sufficient to
ensure them a majority. When the new parliament assembled, Lord
Hartington, the eldest son of the duke of Devonshire, was put forward to
propose a direct vote of want of confidence in the administration. It
was carried by 323 votes to 310, and the second Derby administration
came to an end.

  Palmerston's second ministry.

It was plain that the House of Commons had withdrawn its support from
Lord Derby, but it was not clear that any other leading politician would
be able to form a government. The jealousies between Lord John Russell
and Lord Palmerston still existed; the more extreme men, who were
identified with the policy of Cobden and Bright, had little confidence
in either of these statesmen; and it was still uncertain whether the
able group who had been the friends of Sir Robert Peel would finally
gravitate to the Conservative or to the Liberal camp. The queen, on the
advice of Lord Derby, endeavoured to solve the first of these
difficulties by sending for Lord Granville, who led the Liberal party in
the Lords, and authorizing him to form a government which should
combine, as far as possible, all the more prominent Liberals. The
attempt, however, failed, and the queen thereupon fell back upon Lord
Palmerston. Lord John Russell agreed to accept office as foreign
minister; Gladstone consented to take the chancellorship of the
exchequer. Cobden was offered, but declined, the presidency of the Board
of Trade; and the post which he refused was conferred on a prominent
free trader, who had associated himself with Cobden's fortunes, Milner
Gibson. Thus Lord Palmerston had succeeded in combining in one ministry
the various representatives of political progress. He had secured the
support of the Peelites, who had left him after the fall of Lord
Aberdeen in 1855, and of the free traders, who had done so much to
defeat him in 1857 and 1858. His new administration was accordingly
based on a broader bottom, and contained greater elements of strength
than his former cabinet. And the country was requiring more stable
government. The first three ministries of the queen had endured from the
spring of 1835 to the spring of 1852, or for very nearly seventeen
years; but the next seven years had seen the formation and dissolution
of no less than four cabinets. It was felt that these frequent changes
were unfortunate for the country, and every one was glad to welcome the
advent of a government which seemed to promise greater permanence. That
promise was fulfilled. The administration which Lord Palmerston
succeeded in forming in 1859 endured till his death in 1865, and with
slight modifications, under its second chief Lord John (afterwards Earl)
Russell, till the summer of 1866. It had thus a longer life than any
cabinet which had governed England since the first Reform Act. But it
owed its lasting character to the benevolence of its opponents rather
than to the enthusiasm of its supporters. The Conservatives learned to
regard the veteran statesman, who had combined all sections of Liberals
under his banner, as the most powerful champion of Conservative
principles; a virtual truce of parties was established during his
continuance in office; and, for the most part of his ministry, a tacit
understanding existed that the minister, on his side, should pursue a
Conservative policy, and that the Conservatives, on theirs, should
abstain from any real attempt to oust him from power. Lord John Russell,
indeed, was too earnest in his desire for reform to abstain from one
serious effort to accomplish it. Early in 1860 he proposed, with the
sanction of the cabinet, a measure providing for the extension of the
county franchise to £10 householders, of the borough franchise to £6
householders, and for a moderate redistribution of seats. But the
country, being in enjoyment of considerable prosperity, paid only a
languid attention to the scheme; its indifference was reflected in the
House; the Conservatives were encouraged in their opposition by the lack
of interest which the new bill excited, and the almost unconcealed
dislike of the prime minister to its provisions. The bill, thus steadily
opposed and half-heartedly supported, made only slow progress; and at
last it was withdrawn by its author. He did not again attempt during
Lord Palmerston's life to reintroduce the subject. Absorbed in the work
of the foreign office, which at this time was abnormally active, he
refrained from pressing home the arguments for internal reform.

  Gladstone's budgets.

  Paper duties repealed.

In one important department, however, the ministry departed from the
Conservative policy it pursued in other matters. Gladstone signalized
his return to the exchequer by introducing a series of budgets which
excited keen opposition at the time, but in the result largely added to
the prosperity of the country. The first of these great budgets, in
1860, was partly inspired by the necessity of adapting the fiscal system
to meet the requirements of a commercial treaty which, mainly through
Cobden's exertions, had been concluded with the emperor of the French.
The treaty bound France to reduce her duties on English coal and iron,
and on many manufactured articles; while, in return, Great Britain
undertook to sweep away the duties on all manufactured goods, and
largely to reduce those on French wines. But Gladstone was not content
with these great alterations, which involved a loss of nearly £1,200,000
a year to the exchequer; he voluntarily undertook to sacrifice another
million on what he called a supplemental measure of customs reform. He
proposed to repeal the duties on paper, by which means he hoped to
increase the opportunities of providing cheap literature for the people.
The budget of 1860 produced a protracted controversy. The French treaty
excited more criticism than enthusiasm on both sides of the Channel. In
France the manufacturers complained that they would be unable to stand
against the competition of English goods. In England many people thought
that Great Britain was wasting her resources and risking her supremacy
by giving the French increased facilities for taking her iron, coal and
machinery, and that no adequate advantage could result from the greater
consumption of cheap claret. But the criticism which the French treaty
aroused was drowned in the clamour which was created by the proposed
repeal of the paper duties. The manufacture of paper was declared to be
a struggling industry, which would be destroyed by the withdrawal of
protection. The dissemination of cheap literature and the multiplication
of cheap newspapers could not compensate the nation for the ruin of an
important trade. If money could be spared, moreover, for the remission
of taxation, the paper duties were much less oppressive than those on
some other articles. The tax on tea, for example, which had been raised
during the late war to no less than 1s. 5d. a lb., was much more
injurious; and it would be far wiser--so it was contended--to reduce the
duty on tea than to abandon the duties on paper. Notwithstanding the
opposition which the Paper Duties Bill undoubtedly excited, the proposal
was carried in the Commons; it was, however, thrown out in the Lords,
and its rejection led to a crisis which seemed at one time to threaten
the good relations between the two houses of parliament. It was argued
that if the Lords had the right to reject a measure remitting existing
duties, they had in effect the right of imposing taxation, since there
was no material difference between the adoption of a new tax and the
continuance of an old one which the Commons had determined to repeal.
Lord Palmerston, however, with some tact postponed the controversy for
the time by obtaining the appointment of a committee to search for
precedents; and, after the report of the committee, he moved a series of
resolutions affirming the right of the Commons to grant aids and
supplies as their exclusive privilege, stating that the occasional
rejection of financial measures by the Lords had always been regarded
with peculiar jealousy, but declaring that the Commons had the remedy in
their own hands by so framing bills of supply as to secure their
acceptance. In accordance with this suggestion the Commons in the
following year again resolved to repeal the paper duties; but, instead
of embodying their decision in a separate bill, they included it in the
same measure which dealt with all the financial arrangements of the
year, and thus threw on the Lords the responsibility of either accepting
the proposal, or of paralysing the whole machinery of administration by
depriving the crown of the supplies which were required for the public
services. The Lords were not prepared to risk this result, and they
accordingly accepted a reform which they could no longer resist, and the
bill became law. In order to enable him to accomplish these great
changes, Gladstone temporarily raised the income tax, which he found at
9d. in the £, to 10d. But the result of his reforms was so marked that
he was speedily able to reduce it. The revenue increased by leaps and
bounds, and the income tax was gradually reduced till it stood at 4d. in
the closing years of the administration. During the same period the duty
on tea was reduced from 1s. 5d. to 6d. a lb.; and the national debt was
diminished from rather more than £800,000,000 to rather less than
£780,000,000, the charge for the debt declining, mainly through the
falling in of the long annuities, by some £2,600,000 a year. With the
possible exception of Sir Robert Peel's term of office, no previous
period of British history had been memorable for a series of more
remarkable financial reforms. Their success redeemed the character of
the administration. The Liberals, who complained that their leaders
were pursuing a Conservative policy, could at least console themselves
by the reflection that the chancellor of the exchequer was introducing
satisfactory budgets. The language, moreover, which Gladstone was
holding on other subjects encouraged the more advanced Liberals to
expect that he would ultimately place himself at the head of the party
of progress. This expectation was the more remarkable because Gladstone
was the representative in the cabinet of the old Conservative party
which Sir Robert Peel had led to victory. As lately as 1858 he had
reluctantly refused to serve under Lord Derby; he was still a member of
the Carlton Club; he sat for the university of Oxford; and on many
questions he displayed a constant sympathy with Conservative traditions.
Yet, on all the chief domestic questions which came before parliament in
Lord Palmerston's second administration, Gladstone almost invariably
took a more Liberal view than his chief. It was understood, indeed, that
the relations between the two men were not always harmonious; that Lord
Palmerston disapproved the resolute conduct of Gladstone, and that
Gladstone deplored the Conservative tendencies of Lord Palmerston. It
was believed that Gladstone on more than one occasion desired to escape
from a position which he disliked by resigning office, and that the
resignation was only averted through a consciousness that the ministry
could not afford to lose its most eloquent member.

  China war, 1859-60.

While on domestic matters, other than those affecting finance, the
Liberal ministry was pursuing a Conservative policy, its members were
actively engaged on, and the attention of the public was keenly directed
to, affairs abroad. For the period was one of foreign unrest, and the
wars which were then waged have left an enduring mark on the map of the
world, and have affected the position of the Anglo-Saxon race for all
time. In the far East, the operations which it had been decided to
undertake in China were necessarily postponed on account of the
diversion of the forces, intended to exact redress at Peking, to the
suppression of mutiny in India. It was only late in 1858 that Lord Elgin
and Baron Gros, the French plenipotentiary (for France joined England in
securing simultaneous redress of grievances of her own), were enabled to
obtain suitable reparation. It was arranged that the treaty, which was
then provisionally concluded at Tientsin, should be ratified at Peking
in the following year; and in June 1859 Mr (afterwards Sir Frederick)
Bruce, Lord Elgin's brother, who had been appointed plenipotentiary,
attempted to proceed up the Peiho with the object of securing its
ratification. The allied squadron, however, was stopped by the forts at
the mouth of the Peiho, which fired on the vessels; a landing party,
which was disembarked to storm the forts, met with a disastrous check,
and the squadron had to retire with an acknowledged loss of three
gunboats and 400 men. This reverse necessitated fresh operations, and in
1860 Lord Elgin and Baron Gros were directed to return to China, and, at
the head of an adequate force, were instructed to exact an apology for
the attack on the allied fleets, the ratification and execution of the
treaty of Tientsin, and the payment of an indemnity for the expenses of
the war. The weakness of the Chinese empire was not appreciated at that
time; the unfortunate incident on the Peiho in the previous summer had
created an exaggerated impression of the strength of the Chinese arms,
and some natural anxiety was felt for the success of the expedition. But
the allied armies met with no serious resistance. The Chinese, indeed,
endeavoured to delay their progress by negotiation rather than by force;
and they succeeded in treacherously arresting some distinguished persons
who had been sent into the Chinese lines to negotiate. But by the middle
of October the Chinese army was decisively defeated; Peking was
occupied; those British and French prisoners who had not succumbed to
the hardships of their confinement were liberated. Lord Elgin determined
on teaching the rulers of China a lesson by the destruction of the
summer palace; and the Chinese government was compelled to submit to the
terms of the Allies, and to ratify the treaty of Tientsin. There is no
doubt that these operations helped to open the Chinese markets to
British trade; but incidentally, by regulating the emigration of
Chinese coolies, they had the unforeseen effect of exposing the
industrial markets of the world to the serious competition of "cheap
yellow" labour. A distinguished foreign statesman observed that Lord
Palmerston had made a mistake. He thought that he had opened China to
Europe; instead, he had let out the Chinese. It was perhaps a happier
result of the war that it tended to the continuance of the Anglo-French
alliance. French and British troops had again co-operated in a joint
enterprise, and had shared the dangers and successes of a campaign.

  Unification of Italy.

War was not confined to China. In the beginning of 1859 diplomatists
were alarmed at the language addressed by the emperor of the French to
the Austrian ambassador at Paris, which seemed to breathe the menace of
a rupture. Notwithstanding the exertions which Great Britain made to
avert hostilities, the provocation of Count Cavour induced Austria to
declare war against Piedmont, and Napoleon thereupon moved to the
support of his ally, promising to free Italy from the Alps to the
Adriatic. As a matter of fact, the attitude of northern Germany, which
was massing troops on the Rhine, and the defenceless condition of
France, which was drained of soldiers for the Italian campaign, induced
the emperor to halt before he had carried out his purpose, and terms of
peace were hastily concerted at Villafranca, and were afterwards
confirmed at Zurich, by which Lombardy was given to Piedmont, while
Austria was left in possession of Venice and the Quadrilateral, and
central Italy was restored to its former rulers. The refusal of the
Italians to take back the Austrian grand dukes made the execution of
these arrangements impracticable. Napoleon, indeed, used his influence
to carry them into effect; but Lord John Russell, who was now in charge
of the British foreign office, and who had Lord Palmerston and Gladstone
on his side in the cabinet, gave a vigorous support to the claim of the
Italians that their country should be allowed to regulate her own
affairs. The French emperor had ultimately to yield to the determination
of the inhabitants of central Italy, when it was backed by the arguments
of the British foreign office, and Tuscany, Modena, Parma, as well as a
portion of the states of the Church, were united to Piedmont. There was
no doubt that through the whole of the negotiations the Italians were
largely indebted to the labours of Lord John Russell. They recognized
that they owed more to the moral support of England than to the armed
assistance of France. The French emperor, moreover, took a step which
lost him the sympathy of many Italians. Before the war he had arranged
with Count Cavour that France should receive, as the price of her aid,
the duchy of Savoy and the county of Nice. After Villafranca, the
emperor, frankly recognizing that he had only half kept his promise,
consented to waive his claim to these provinces. But, when he found
himself unable to resist the annexation of central Italy to Piedmont, he
reverted to the old arrangement. The formation of a strong Piedmontese
kingdom, with the spoliation of the papal dominion, was unpopular in
France; and he thought--perhaps naturally--that he must have something
to show his people in return for sacrifices which had cost him the lives
of 50,000 French soldiers, and concessions which the whole Catholic
party in France resented. Count Cavour consented to pay the price which
Napoleon thus exacted, and the frontier of France was accordingly
extended to the Alps. But it is very doubtful whether Napoleon did not
lose more than he gained by this addition to his territory. It certainly
cost him the active friendship of Great Britain. The Anglo-French
alliance had been already strained by the language of the French
colonels in 1858 and the Franco-Austrian War of 1859; it never fully
recovered from the shock which it received by the evidence, which the
annexation of Savoy and Nice gave, of the ambition of the French
emperor. The British people gave way to what Cobden called the last of
the three panics. Lord Palmerston proposed and carried the provision of
a large sum of money for the fortification of the coasts; and the
volunteer movement, which had its origin in 1859, received a remarkable
stimulus in 1860. In this year the course of events in Italy emphasized
the differences between the policy of Great Britain and that of France.
Garibaldi, with a thousand followers, made his famous descent on the
coast of Sicily. After making himself master of that island, he crossed
over to the mainland, drove the king of Naples out of his capital, and
forced him to take refuge in Gaeta. In France these events were regarded
with dismay. The emperor wished to stop Garibaldi's passage across the
strait, and stationed his fleet at Gaeta to protect the king of Naples.
Lord John Russell, on the contrary, welcomed Garibaldi's success with
enthusiasm. He declined to intervene in the affairs of Italy by
confining the great liberator to Sicily; he protested against the
presence of the French fleet at Gaeta; and when other foreign nations
denounced the conduct of Piedmont, he defended it by quoting Vattel and
citing the example of William III. When, finally, Italian troops entered
the dominions of the pope, France withdrew her ambassador from the court
of Turin, and England under Lord John Russell's advice at once
recognized the new kingdom of Italy.

  Schleswig-Holstein question.

In these great events--for the union of Italy was the greatest fact
which had been accomplished in Europe since the fall of the first
Napoleon--the British ministry had undoubtedly acquired credit. It was
everywhere felt that the new kingdom owed much to the moral support
which had been steadily and consistently given to it by Great Britain.
Soon afterwards, however, in the autumn of 1863, the death of the king
of Denmark led to a new revolution in the north of Europe, in which Lord
Palmerston's government displayed less resolution, and lost much of the
prestige which it had acquired by its Italian policy. The duchies of
Schleswig and Holstein had been for centuries united to the kingdom of
Denmark by the golden link of the crown; in other respects they had been
organically kept distinct, while one of them--Holstein--was a member of
the German confederation. The succession to the crown of Denmark,
however, was different from that in the duchies. In Denmark the crown
could descend, as it descends in Great Britain, through females. In the
duchies the descent was confined to the male line; and, as Frederick
VII., who ascended the Danish throne in 1848, had no direct issue, the
next heir to the crown of Denmark under this rule was Prince Christian
of Glücksburg, afterwards king; the next heir to the duchies being the
duke of Augustenburg. In 1850 an arrangement had been made to prevent
the separation of the duchies from the kingdom. As a result of a
conference held in London, the duke of Augustenburg was induced to
renounce his claim on the receipt of a large sum of money. Most of the
great powers of Europe were parties to this plan. But the German
confederation was not represented at the conference, and was not
therefore committed to its conclusions. During the reign of Frederick
VII. the Danish government endeavoured to cement the alliance between
the duchies and the kingdom, and specially to separate the interests of
Schleswig, which was largely Danish in its sympathies, from those of
Holstein, which was almost exclusively German. With this object, in the
last year of his life, Frederick VII. granted Holstein autonomous
institutions, and bound Schleswig more closely to the Danish monarchy.
The new king Christian IX. confirmed this arrangement. The German diet
at Frankfort at once protested against it. Following up words with acts,
it decided on occupying Holstein, and it delegated the duty of carrying
out its order to Hanover and Saxony. While this federal execution was
taking place, the duke of Augustenburg--regardless of the arrangements
to which he had consented--delegated his rights in the duchies to his
son, who formally claimed the succession. So far the situation, which
was serious enough, had been largely dependent on the action of Germany.
In the closing days of 1863 it passed mainly into the control of the two
chief German powers. In Prussia Bismarck had lately become prime
minister, and was animated by ambitious projects for his country's
aggrandizement. Austria, afraid of losing her influence in Germany,
followed the lead of Prussia, and the two powers required Denmark to
cancel the arrangements which Frederick VII. had made, and which
Christian IX. had confirmed, threatening in case of refusal to follow up
the occupation of Holstein by that of Schleswig. As the Danes gave only
a provisional assent to the demand, Prussian and Austrian troops entered
Schleswig. These events created much excitement in England. The great
majority of the British people, who imperfectly understood the merits of
the case, were unanimous in their desire to support Denmark by arms.
Their wish had been accentuated by the circumstance that the marriage in
the previous spring of the prince of Wales to the daughter of the new
king of Denmark had given them an almost personal interest in the
struggle. Lord Palmerston had publicly expressed the views of the people
by declaring that, if Denmark were attacked, her assailants would not
have to deal with Denmark alone. The language of the public press and of
Englishmen visiting Denmark confirmed the impression which the words of
the prime minister had produced; and there is unfortunately no doubt
that Denmark was encouraged to resist her powerful opponents by the
belief, which she was thus almost authorized in entertaining, that she
could reckon in the hour of her danger on the active assistance of the
United Kingdom. If Lord Palmerston had been supported by his cabinet, or
if he had been a younger man, he might possibly, in 1864, have made good
the words which he had rashly uttered in 1863. But the queen, who, it is
fair to add, understood the movement which was tending to German unity
much better than most of her advisers, was averse from war. A large
section of the cabinet shared the queen's hesitation, and Lord
Palmerston--with the weight of nearly eighty summers upon him--was not
strong enough to enforce his will against both his sovereign and his
colleagues. He made some attempt to ascertain whether the emperor of the
French would support him if he went to war. But he found that the
emperor had not much fancy for a struggle which would have restored
Holstein to Denmark; and that, if he went to war at all, his chief
object would be the liberation of Venice and the rectification of his
own frontiers. Even Lord Palmerston shrank from entering on a campaign
which would have involved all Europe in conflagration and would have
unsettled the boundaries of most continental nations; and the British
government endeavoured thenceforward to stop hostilities by referring
the question immediately in dispute to a conference in London. The
labours of the conference proved abortive. Its members were unable to
agree upon any methods of settlements, and the war went on. Denmark,
naturally unable to grapple with her powerful antagonists, was forced to
yield, and the two duchies which were the subject of dispute were taken
from her.

The full consequences of this struggle were not visible at the time. It
was impossible to foresee that it was the first step which was to carry
Prussia forward, under her ambitious minister, to a position of
acknowledged supremacy on the continent. But the results to Great
Britain were plain enough. She had been mighty in words and weak in
deeds. It was no doubt open to her to contend, as perhaps most wise
people consider, that the cause of Denmark was not of sufficient
importance to justify her in going to war. But it was not open to her to
encourage a weak power to resist and then desert her in the hour of her
necessity. Lord Palmerston should not have used the language which he
employed in 1863 if he had not decided that his brave words would be
followed by brave action. His conduct lowered the prestige of Great
Britain at least as much as his Italian policy had raised it.
Continental statesmen thenceforward assumed that Great Britain, however
much she might protest, would not resort to arms, and the influence of
England suffered, as it was bound to suffer, in consequence.

  American civil war.

Meanwhile, in this period of warfare, another struggle was being fought
out on a still greater scale in North America. The election of Abraham
Lincoln to the presidency of the United States emphasized the fact that
the majority of the inhabitants of the Northern States were opposed to
the further spread of slavery; and, in the beginning of 1861, several of
the Southern States formally seceded from the union. A steamer sent by
the Federal government with reinforcements to Fort Sumter was fired
upon, and both parties made preparations for the civil war which was
apparently inevitable. On the one side the Confederate States--as the
seceding states were called--were animated by a resolution to protect
their property. On the other side the "conscience" of the North was
excited by a passionate desire to wipe out the blot of slavery. Thus
both parties were affected by some of the most powerful considerations
which can influence mankind, while the North were further actuated by
the natural incentive to preserve the union, which was threatened with
disruption. The progress of the great struggle was watched with painful
attention in England. The most important manufacturing interest in
England was paralysed by the loss of the raw cotton, which was obtained
almost exclusively from the United States, and tens of thousands of
workpeople were thrown out of employment. The distress which resulted
naturally created a strong feeling in favour of intervention, which
might terminate the war and open the Southern ports to British commerce;
and the initial successes which the Confederates secured seemed to
afford some justification for such a proceeding. In the course of 1862
indeed, when the Confederate armies had secured many victories,
Gladstone, speaking at Newcastle, used the famous expression that
President Jefferson Davis had "made a nation"; and Lord Palmerston's
language in the House of Commons--while opposing a motion for the
recognition of the South--induced the impression that his thoughts were
tending in the same direction as Mr Gladstone's. The emperor Napoleon,
in July of the same year, confidentially asked the British minister
whether the moment had not come for recognizing the South; and in the
following September Lord Palmerston was himself disposed in concert with
France to offer to mediate on the basis of separation. Soon afterwards,
however, the growing exhaustion of the South improved the prospects of
the Northern States: an increasing number of persons in Great Britain
objected to interfere in the interests of slavery; and the combatants
were allowed to fight out their quarrel without the interference of

  The "Trent" incident.

At the beginning of the war, Lord John Russell (who was made a peer as
Earl Russell in 1861) acknowledged the Southern States as belligerents.
His decision caused some ill-feeling at Washington; but it was
inevitable. For the North had proclaimed a blockade of the Southern
ports; and it would have been both inconvenient and unfair if Lord
Russell had decided to recognize the blockade and had refused to
acknowledge the belligerent rights of the Southern States. Lord
Russell's decision, however, seemed to indicate some latent sympathy for
the Southern cause; and the irritation which was felt in the North was
increased by the news that the Southern States were accrediting two
gentlemen to represent them at Paris and at London. These emissaries,
Messrs Mason and Slidell, succeeded in running the blockade and in
reaching Cuba, where they embarked on the "Trent," a British mail
steamer sailing for England. On her passage home the "Trent" was stopped
by the Federal steamer "San Jacinto"; she was boarded, and Messrs Mason
and Slidell were arrested. There was no doubt that the captain of the
"San Jacinto" had acted irregularly. While he had the right to stop the
"Trent," examine the mails, and, if he found despatches for the enemy
among them, carry the vessel into an American port for adjudication, he
had no authority to board the vessel and arrest two of her passengers.
"The British government," to use its own language, "could not allow such
an affront to the national honour to pass without due reparation." They
decided on sending what practically amounted to an ultimatum to the
Federal government, calling upon it to liberate the prisoners and to
make a suitable apology. The presentation of this ultimatum, which was
accompanied by the despatch of troops to Canada, was very nearly
provoking war with the United States. If, indeed, the ultimatum had been
presented in the form in which it was originally framed, war might have
ensued. But at the prince consort's suggestion its language was
considerably modified, and the responsibility for the outrage was thrown
on the officer who committed it, and not on the government of the
Republic. It ought not to be forgotten that this important modification
was the last service rendered to his adopted country by the prince
consort before his fatal illness. He died before the answer to the
despatch was received; and his death deprived the queen of an adviser
who had stood by her side since the earlier days of her reign, and who,
by his prudence and conduct, had done much to raise the tone of the
court and the influence of the crown. Happily for the future of the
world, the government of the United States felt itself able to accept
the despatch which had been thus addressed to it, and to give the
reparation which was demanded; and the danger of war between the two
great branches of the Anglo-Saxon race was averted. But, in the
following summer, a new event excited fresh animosities, and aroused a
controversy which endured for the best part of ten years.

  The "Alabama."

The Confederates, naturally anxious to harass the commerce of their
enemies, endeavoured from the commencement of hostilities to purchase
armed cruisers from builders of neutral nations. In June 1862 the
American minister in London drew Lord Russell's attention to the fact
that a vessel, lately launched at Messrs Laird's yard at Birkenhead, was
obviously intended to be employed as a Confederate cruiser. The
solicitor to the commissioners of customs, however, considered that no
facts had been revealed to authorize the detention of the vessel, and
this opinion was reported in July to the American minister, Charles
Francis Adams. He thereupon supplied the government with additional
facts, and at the same time furnished them with the opinion of an
eminent English lawyer, R. P. Collier (afterwards Lord Monkswell), to
the effect that "it would be difficult to make out a stronger case of
infringement of the Foreign Enlistment Act, which if not enforced on
this occasion is little better than a dead letter." These facts and this
opinion were at once sent to the law officers. They reached the queen's
advocate on Saturday the 26th of July; but, by an unfortunate mischance,
the queen's advocate had just been wholly incapacitated by a distressing
illness; and the papers, in consequence, did not reach the attorney- and
solicitor-general till the evening of the following Monday, when they at
once advised the government to detain the vessel. Lord Russell thereupon
sent orders to Liverpool for her detention. In the meanwhile the
vessel--probably aware of the necessity for haste--had put to sea, and
had commenced the career which made her famous as the "Alabama."
Ministers might even then have taken steps to stop the vessel by
directing her detention in any British port to which she resorted for
supplies. The cabinet, however, shrank from this course. The "Alabama"
was allowed to prey on Federal commerce, and undoubtedly inflicted a
vast amount of injury on the trade of the United States. In the autumn
of 1862 Adams demanded redress for the injuries which had thus been
sustained, and this demand was repeated for many years in stronger and
stronger language. At last, in 1871, long after Lord Palmerston's death
and Lord Russell's retirement, a joint commission was appointed to
examine into the many cases of dispute which had arisen between the
United States and Great Britain. The commissioners agreed upon three
rules by which they thought neutrals should in future be bound, and
recommended that they should be given a retrospective effect. They
decided also that the claims which had arisen out of the depredations of
the "Alabama" should be referred to arbitration. In the course of 1872
the arbitrators met at Geneva. Their finding was adverse to Great
Britain, which was condemned to pay a large sum of money--more than
£3,000,000--as compensation. A period of exceptional prosperity, which
largely increased the revenue, enabled a chancellor of the exchequer to
boast that the country had drunk itself out of the "Alabama" difficulty.

  Lord Russell's second ministry.

In October 1805 Lord Palmerston's rule, which had been characterized by
six years of political inaction at home and by constant disturbance
abroad, was terminated by his death. The ministry, which had suffered
many losses from death during its duration, was temporarily
reconstructed under Lord Russell; and the new minister at once decided
to put an end to the period of internal stagnation, which had lasted so
long, by the introduction of a new Reform Bill. Accordingly, in March
1866 Gladstone, who now led the House of Commons, introduced a measure
which proposed to extend the county franchise to £14 and the borough
franchise to £7 householders. The bill did not create much enthusiasm
among Liberals, and it was naturally opposed by the Conservatives, who
were reinforced by a large section of moderate Liberals, nicknamed, in
consequence of a phrase in one of Bright's speeches, Adullamites. After
many debates, in which the Commons showed little disposition to give the
ministry any effective support, an amendment was carried by Lord
Dunkellin, the eldest son of Lord Clanricarde, basing the borough
franchise on rating instead of rental. The cabinet, recognizing from the
division that the control of the House had passed out of its hands,
resigned office, and the queen was compelled to entrust Lord Derby with
the task of forming a new administration.

  Lord Derby's third ministry.

For the third time in his career Lord Derby undertook the formidable
task of conducting the government of the country with only a minority of
the House of Commons to support him. The moment at which he made this
third attempt was one of unusual anxiety. Abroad, the almost
simultaneous outbreak of war between Prussia and Austria was destined to
affect the whole aspect of continental politics. At home, a terrible
murrain had fallen on the cattle, inflicting ruin on the agricultural
interest; a grave commercial crisis was creating alarm in the city of
London, and, in its consequences, injuring the interests of labour;
while the working classes, at last roused from their long indifference,
and angry at the rejection of Lord Russell's bill, were assembling in
their tens of thousands to demand reform. The cabinet determined to
prohibit a meeting which the Reform League decided to hold in Hyde Park
on the 23rd of July, and closed the gates of the park on the people. But
the mob, converging on the park in thousands, surged round the railings,
which a little inquiry might have shown were too weak to resist any real
pressure. Either accidentally or intentionally, the railings were
overturned in one place, and the people, perceiving their opportunity,
at once threw them down round the whole circuit of the park. Few acts in
Queen Victoria's reign were attended with greater consequences. For the
riot in Hyde Park led almost directly to a new Reform Act, and to the
transfer of power from the middle classes to the masses of the people.

  Reform, 1867.

Yet, though the new government found it necessary to introduce a Reform
Bill, a wide difference of opinion existed in the cabinet as to the form
which the measure should take. Several of its members were in favour of
assimilating the borough franchise to that in force in municipal
elections, and practically conferring a vote on every householder who
had three years' residence in the constituency. General Peel,
however--Sir Robert Peel's brother--who held the seals of the war
office, objected to this extension; and the cabinet ultimately decided
on evading the difficulty by bringing forward a series of resolutions on
which a scheme of reform might ultimately be based. Their success in
1858, in dealing with the government of India in this way, commended the
decision to the acceptance of the cabinet. But it was soon apparent that
the House of Commons required a definite scheme, and that it would not
seriously consider a set of abstract resolutions which committed no one
to any distinct plan. Hence on the 23rd of February 1867 the cabinet
decided on withdrawing its resolutions and reverting to its original
bill. On the following day Lord Cranborne--better known afterwards as
Lord Salisbury--discovered that the bill had more democratic tendencies
than he had originally supposed, and refused to be a party to it. On
Monday, the 25th, the cabinet again met to consider the new difficulty
which had thus arisen; and it decided (as was said afterwards by Sir
John Pakington) in ten minutes to substitute for the scheme a mild
measure extending the borough franchise to houses rated at £6 a year,
and conferring the county franchise on £20 householders. The bill, it
was soon obvious, would be acceptable to no one; and the government
again fell back on its original proposal. Three members of the cabinet,
however, Lord Cranborne, Lord Carnarvon and General Peel, refused to be
parties to the measure, and resigned office, the government being
necessarily weakened by these defections. In the large scheme which the
cabinet had now adopted, the borough franchise was conferred on all
householders rated to the relief of the poor, who had for two years
occupied the houses which gave them the qualification; the county
franchise was given to the occupiers of all houses rated at £15 a year
or upwards. But it was proposed that these extensions should be
accompanied by an educational franchise, and a franchise conferred on
persons who had paid twenty shillings in assessed taxes or income tax;
the taxpayers who had gained a vote in this way being given a second
vote in respect of the property which they occupied. In the course of
the discussion on the bill in the House of Commons, the securities on
which its authors had relied to enable them to stem the tide of
democracy were, chiefly through Gladstone's exertions, swept away. The
dual vote was abandoned, direct payment of rates was surrendered, the
county franchise was extended to £12 householders, and the
redistribution of seats was largely increased. The bill, in the shape in
which it had been introduced, had been surrounded with safeguards to
property. With their loss it involved a great radical change, which
placed the working classes of the country in the position of
predominance which the middle classes had occupied since 1832.

  Disraeli prime minister.

The passage of the bill necessitated a dissolution of parliament; but it
had to be postponed to enable parliament to supplement the English
Reform Act of 1867 with measures applicable to Scotland and Ireland, and
to give time for settling the boundaries of the new constituencies which
had been created. This delay gave the Conservatives another year of
office. But the first place in the cabinet passed in 1868 from Lord
Derby to his lieutenant, Disraeli. The change added interest to
political life. Thenceforward, for the next thirteen years, the chief
places in the two great parties in the state were filled by the two men,
Gladstone and Disraeli, who were unquestionably the ablest
representatives of their respective followers. But the situation was
also remarkable because power thus definitely passed from men who,
without exception, had been born in the 18th century, and had all held
cabinet offices before 1832, to men who had been born in the 19th
century, and had only risen to cabinet rank in the 'forties and the
'fifties. It was also interesting to reflect that Gladstone had begun
life as a Conservative, and had only gradually moved to the ranks of the
Liberal party; while Disraeli had fought his first election under the
auspices of O'Connell and Hume, had won his spurs by his attacks on Sir
Robert Peel, and had been only reluctantly adopted by the Conservatives
as their leader in the House of Commons.

  Irish Church.

The struggle commenced in 1868 on an Irish question. During the previous
years considerable attention had been paid to a secret conspiracy in
Ireland and among the Irish in America. The Fenians, as they were
called, actually attempted insurrection in Ireland, and an invasion of
Canada from the United States. At the beginning of 1866 Lord Russell's
government thought itself compelled to suspend the Habeas Corpus Act in
Ireland; and in 1867 Lord Derby's government was confronted in the
spring by a plot to seize Chester Castle, and in the autumn by an attack
on a prison van at Manchester containing Fenian prisoners, and by an
atrocious attempt to blow up Clerkenwell prison. Conservative
politicians deduced from these circumstances the necessity of applying
firm government to Ireland. Liberal statesmen, on the contrary, desired
to extirpate rebellion by remedying the grievances of which Ireland
still complained. Chief among these was the fact that the Established
Church in Ireland was the church of only a minority of the people. In
March 1868 John Francis Maguire, an Irish Catholic, asked the House of
Commons to resolve itself into a committee to take into immediate
consideration the affairs of Ireland. Gladstone, in the course of the
debate, declared that in his opinion the time had come when the Irish
Church, as a political institution, should cease; and he followed up his
declaration by a series of resolutions, which were accepted by
considerable majorities, pledging the House to its disestablishment.
Disraeli, recognizing the full significance of this decision, announced
that, as soon as the necessary preparations could be made, the
government would appeal from the House to the country. Parliament was
dissolved at the end of July, but the general election did not take
place till the end of the following November. The future of the Irish
Church naturally formed one of the chief subjects which occupied the
attention of the electors, but the issue was largely determined by wider
considerations. The country, after the long political truce which had
been maintained by Lord Palmerston, was again ranged in two hostile
camps, animated by opposing views. It was virtually asked to decide in
1868 whether it would put its trust in Liberal or Conservative, in
Gladstone or Disraeli. By an overwhelming majority it threw its lot in
favour of Gladstone; and Disraeli, without even venturing to meet
parliament, took the unusual course of at once placing his resignation
in the queen's hands.

  Abyssinian war.

The Conservative government, which thus fell, will be chiefly
recollected for its remarkable concession to democratic principles by
the passage of the Reform Act of 1867; but it deserves perhaps a word of
praise for its conduct of a distant and unusual war. The emperor of
Abyssinia had, for some time, detained some Englishmen prisoners in his
country; and the government, unable to obtain redress in other ways,
decided on sending an army to release them. The expedition, entrusted to
Sir Robert Napier, afterwards Lord Napier of Magdala, was fitted out at
great expense, and was rewarded with complete success. The prisoners
were released, and the Abyssinian monarch committed suicide.
Disraeli--whose oriental imagination was excited by the
triumph--incurred some ridicule by his bombastic declaration that "the
standard of St George was hoisted upon the mountains of Rasselas." But
the ministry could at least claim that the war had been waged to rescue
Englishmen from captivity, that it had been conducted with skill, and
that it had accomplished its object. The events of the Abyssinian war,
however, were forgotten in the great political revolution which had
swept the Conservatives from office and placed Gladstone in power. His
government was destined to endure for more than five years. During that
period it experienced the alternate prosperity and decline which nearly
forty years before had been the lot of the Whigs after the passage of
the first Reform Act. During its first two sessions it accomplished
greater changes in legislation than had been attempted by any ministry
since that of Lord Grey. In its three last sessions it was destined to
sink into gradual disrepute; and it was ultimately swept away by a wave
of popular reaction, as remarkable as that which had borne it into

  Gladstone's first ministry.

  Irish land.

  Elementary education.

It was generally understood that Gladstone intended to deal with three
great Irish grievances--"the three branches of the upas tree"--the
religious, agricultural and educational grievances. The session of 1869
was devoted to the first of these subjects. Gladstone introduced a bill
disconnecting the Irish Church from the state, establishing a synod for
its government, and--after leaving it in possession of its churches and
its parsonages, and making ample provision for the life-interest of its
existing clergy--devoting the bulk of its property to the relief of
distress in Ireland. The bill was carried by large majorities through
the House of Commons; and the feeling of the country was so strong that
the Lords did not venture on its rejection. They satisfied themselves
with engrafting on it a series of amendments which, on the whole,
secured rather more liberal terms of compensation for existing
interests. Some of these amendments were adopted by Gladstone; a
compromise was effected in respect of the others; and the bill, which
had practically occupied the whole session, and had perhaps involved
higher constructive skill than any measure passed in the previous
half-century, became law. Having dealt with the Irish Church in 1869,
Gladstone turned to the more complicated question of Irish land. So far
back as the 'forties Sir R. Peel had appointed a commission, known from
its chairman as the Devon commission, which had recommended that the
Irish tenant, in the event of disturbance, should receive some
compensation for certain specified improvements which he had made in his
holding. Parliament neglected to give effect to these recommendations;
in a country where agriculture was the chief or almost only occupation,
the tenant remained at his landlord's mercy. In 1870 Gladstone proposed
to give the tenant a pecuniary interest in improvements, suitable to the
holding, which he had made either before or after the passing of the
act. He proposed also that, in cases of eviction, the smaller tenantry
should receive compensation for disturbance. The larger tenantry, who
were supposed to be able to look after their own interests, were
entirely debarred, and tenants enjoying leases were excluded from
claiming compensation, except for tillages, buildings and reclamation of
lands. A special court, it was further provided, should be instituted to
carry out the provisions of the bill. Large and radical as the measure
was, reversing many of the accepted principles of legislation by giving
the tenant a _quasi_-partnership with the landlord in his holding, no
serious opposition was made to it in either House of Parliament. Its
details, indeed, were abundantly criticized, but its principles were
hardly disputed, and it became law without any substantial alteration of
its original provisions. In two sessions two branches of the upas tree
had been summarily cut off. But parliament in 1870 was not solely
occupied with the wrongs of Irish tenantry. In the same year Forster, as
vice-president of the council, succeeded in carrying the great measure
which for the first time made education compulsory. In devising his
scheme, Forster endeavoured to utilize, as far as possible, the
educational machinery which had been voluntarily provided by various
religious organizations. He gave the institutions, which had been thus
established, the full benefit of the assistance which the government was
prepared to afford to board schools, on their adopting a conscience
clause under which the religious susceptibilities of the parents of
children were protected. This provision led to many debates, and
produced the first symptoms of disruption in the Liberal party. The
Nonconformists contended that no such aid should be given to any school
which was not conducted on undenominational principles. Supported by the
bulk of the Conservative party, Forster was enabled to defeat the
dissenters. But the victory which he secured was, in one sense, dearly
purchased. The first breach in the Liberal ranks had been made; and the
government, after 1870, never again commanded the same united support
which had enabled it to pursue its victorious career in the first two
sessions of its existence.

  Black Sea neutrality.

  Army purchase.

Towards the close of the session of 1870 other events, for which the
government had no direct responsibility, introduced new difficulties.
War unexpectedly broke out between France and Prussia. The French empire
fell; the German armies marched on Paris; and the Russian government, at
Count Bismarck's instigation, took advantage of the collapse of France
to repudiate the clause in the treaty of 1856 which neutralized the
Black Sea. Lord Granville, who had succeeded Lord Clarendon at the
foreign office, protested against this proceeding. But it was everywhere
felt that his mere protest was not likely to affect the result; and the
government at last consented to accept a suggestion made by Count
Bismarck, and to take part in a conference to discuss the Russian
proposal. Though this device enabled them to say that they had not
yielded to the Russian demand, it was obvious that they entered the
conference with the foregone conclusion of conceding the Russian claim.
The attitude which the government thus chose to adopt was perhaps
inevitable in the circumstances, but it confirmed the impression, which
the abandonment of the cause of Denmark had produced in 1864, that Great
Britain was not prepared to maintain its principles by going to war. The
weakness of the British foreign office was emphasized by its consenting,
almost at the same moment, to allow the claims of the United States, for
the depredations of the "Alabama," to be settled under a rule only
agreed upon in 1871. Most Englishmen now appreciate the wisdom of a
concession which has gained for them the friendship of the United
States. But in 1871 the country resented the manner in which Lord
Granville had acted. Whatever credit the government might have derived
from its domestic measures, it was discredited, or it was thought to be,
by its foreign policy. In these circumstances legislation in 1871 was
not marked with the success which had attended the government in
previous sessions. The government succeeded in terminating a long
controversy by abolishing ecclesiastical tests at universities. But the
Lords ventured to reject a measure for the introduction of the ballot at
elections, and refused to proceed with a bill for the abolition of
purchase in the army. The result of these decisions was indeed
remarkable. In the one case, the Lords in 1872 found it necessary to
give way, and to pass the Ballot Bill, which they had rejected in 1871.
In the other, Gladstone decided on abolishing, by the direct authority
of the crown, the system which the Lords refused to do away with by
legislation. But his high-handed proceeding, though it forced the Lords
to reconsider their decision, strained the allegiance of many of his
supporters, and still further impaired the popularity of his
administration. Most men felt that it would have been permissible for
him, at the commencement of the session, to have used the queen's
authority to terminate the purchase system; but they considered that, as
he had not taken this course, it was not open to him to reverse the
decision of the legislature by resorting to the prerogative. Two
appointments, one to a judicial office, the other to an ecclesiastical
preferment, in which Gladstone, about the same time, showed more
disposition to obey the letter than the spirit of the law, confirmed the
impression which the abolition of purchase had made. Great reforming
ministers would do well to recollect that the success of even liberal
measures may be dearly purchased by the resort to what are regarded as
unconstitutional expedients.


In the following years the embarrassments of the government were further
increased. In 1872 Bruce, the home secretary, succeeded in passing a
measure of licensing reform. But the abstainers condemned the bill as
inadequate; the publicans denounced it as oppressive; and the whole
strength of the licensed victuallers was thenceforward arrayed against
the ministry. In 1873 Gladstone attempted to complete his great Irish
measures by conferring on Ireland the advantage of a university which
would be equally acceptable to Protestants and Roman Catholics. But his
proposal again failed to satisfy those in whose interests it was
proposed. The second reading of the bill was rejected by a small
majority, and Gladstone resigned; but, as Disraeli could not form a
government, he resumed office. The power of the great minister was,
however, spent; his ministry was hopelessly discredited. History, in
fact, was repeating itself. The ministry was suffering, as Lord Grey's
government had suffered nearly forty years before, from the effect of
its own successes. It had accomplished more than any of its supporters
had expected, but in doing so it had harassed many interests and excited
much opposition. Gladstone endeavoured to meet the storm by a
rearrangement of his crew. Bruce, who had offended the licensed
victuallers, was removed from the home office, and made a peer and
president of the council. Lowe, who had incurred unpopularity by his
fiscal measures, and especially by an abortive suggestion for the
taxation of matches, was transferred from the exchequer to the home
office, and Gladstone himself assumed the duties of chancellor of the
exchequer. He thereby created a difficulty for himself which he had not
foreseen. Up to 1867 a minister leaving one office and accepting another
vacated his seat; after 1867 a transfer from one post to another did not
necessitate a fresh election. But Gladstone in 1873 had taken a course
which had not been contemplated in 1867. He had not been transferred
from one office to another. He had accepted a new in addition to his old
office. It was, to say the least, uncertain whether his action in this
respect had, or had not, vacated his seat. It would be unfair to suggest
that the inconvenient difficulty with which he was thus confronted
determined his policy, though he was probably insensibly influenced by
it. However this may be, on the eve of the session of 1874 he suddenly
decided to dissolve parliament and to appeal to the country. He
announced his decision in an address to his constituents, in which,
among other financial reforms, he promised to repeal the income tax. The
course which Gladstone took, and the bait which he held out to the
electors, were generally condemned. The country, wearied of the ministry
and of its measures, almost everywhere supported the Conservative
candidates. Disraeli found himself restored to power at the head of an
overwhelming majority, and the great minister who, five years before,
had achieved so marked a triumph temporarily withdrew from the
leadership of the party with whose aid he had accomplished such
important results. His ministry had been essentially one of peace, yet
its closing days were memorable for one little war in which a great
soldier increased a reputation already high. Sir Garnet Wolseley
triumphed over the difficulties which the climate of the west coast of
Africa imposes on Europeans, and brought a troublesome contest with the
Ashantis to a successful conclusion.

  Disraeli's second ministry.

  Bulgarian "atrocities."

  Berlin treaty.

The history of Disraeli's second administration affords an exact reverse
to that of Gladstone's first cabinet. In legislation the ministry
attempted little and accomplished less. They did something to meet the
wishes of the publicans, whose discontent had contributed largely to
Gladstone's defeat, by amending some of the provisions of Bruce's
licensing bill; they supported and succeeded in passing a measure,
brought in by the primate, to restrain some of the irregularities which
the Ritualists were introducing into public worship; and they were
compelled by the violent insistence of Plimsoll to pass an act to protect
the lives of merchant seamen. Disraeli's government, however, will be
chiefly remembered for its foreign policy. Years before he had propounded
in _Tancred_ the theory that England should aim at eastern empire.
Circumstances in his second term of office enabled him to translate his
theory into practice. In 1875 the country was suddenly startled at
hearing that it had acquired a new position and assumed new
responsibilities in Egypt by the purchase of the shares which the khedive
of Egypt held in the Suez Canal. In the following spring a new surprise
was afforded by the introduction of a measure authorizing the queen to
assume the title of empress of India. But these significant actions were
almost forgotten in the presence of a new crisis; for in 1876
misgovernment in Turkey had produced its natural results, and the
European provinces of the Porte were in a state of armed insurrection. In
the presence of a grave danger, Count Andrassy, the Austrian minister,
drew up a note which was afterwards known by his name, declaring that the
Porte had failed to carry into effect the promises of reform which she
had made, and that some combined action on the part of Europe was
necessary to compel her to do so. The note was accepted by the three
continental empires, but Great Britain refused in the first instance to
assent to it, and only ultimately consented at the desire of the Porte,
whose statesmen seem to have imagined that the nominal co-operation of
England would have the effect of restraining the action of other powers.
Turkey accepted the note and renewed the promises of reform, which she
had so often made, and which meant so little. The three northern powers
thereupon agreed upon what was known as the Berlin Memorandum, in which
they demanded an armistice, and proposed to watch over the completion of
the reforms which the Porte had promised. The British government refused
to be a party to this memorandum, which in consequence became abortive.
The insurrection increased in intensity. The sultan Abdul Aziz, thought
unequal to the crisis, was hastily deposed; he was either murdered or led
to commit suicide; and insurrection in Bulgaria was stamped out by
massacre. The story of the "Bulgarian atrocities" was published in Great
Britain in the summer of 1876. Disraeli characteristically dismissed it
as "coffee-house babble," but official investigation proved the
substantial accuracy of the reports which had reached England. The people
regarded these events with horror. Gladstone, emerging from his
retirement, denounced the conduct of the Turks. In a phrase which became
famous he declared that the only remedy for the European provinces of the
Porte was to turn out the Ottoman government "bag and baggage." All
England was at once arrayed into two camps. One party was led by
Disraeli, who was supposed to represent the traditional policy of England
of maintaining the rule of the Turk at all hazards; the other, inspired
by the example of Gladstone, was resolved at all costs to terminate
oppression, but was at the same time distrusted as indirectly assisting
the ambitious views by which the Eastern policy of Russia had always been
animated. The crisis soon became intense. In June 1876 Servia and
Montenegro declared war against Turkey. In a few months Servia was
hopelessly beaten. Through the insistence of Russia an armistice was
agreed upon; and Lord Beaconsfield--for Disraeli had now been raised to
the peerage--endeavoured to utilize the breathing space by organizing a
conference of the great powers at Constantinople, which was attended on
behalf of Great Britain by Lord Salisbury. The Constantinople conference
proved abortive, and in the beginning of 1877 Russia declared war. For
some time, however, her success was hardly equal to her expectations. The
Turks, entrenched at Plevna, delayed the Russian advance; and it was only
towards the close of 1877 that Plevna at last fell and Turkish resistance
collapsed. With its downfall the war party in England, which was led by
the prime minister, increased in violence. From the refrain of a song,
sung night after night at a London music hall, its members became known
as Jingoes. The government ordered the British fleet to pass the
Dardanelles and go up to Constantinople; and though the order was
subsequently withdrawn, it asked for and obtained a grant of £6,000,000
for naval and military purposes. When news came that the Russian armies
had reached Adrianople, that they had concluded some arrangement with the
Turks, and that they were pressing forward towards Constantinople, the
fleet was again directed to pass the Dardanelles. Soon afterwards the
government decided to call out the reserves and to bring a contingent of
Indian troops to the Mediterranean. Lord Derby,[8] who was at the foreign
office, thereupon retired from the ministry, and was succeeded by Lord
Salisbury. Lord Derby's resignation was everywhere regarded as a proof
that Great Britain was on the verge of war. Happily this did not occur.
At Prince Bismarck's suggestion Russia consented to refer the treaty
which she had concluded at San Stefano to a congress of the great powers;
and the congress, at which Great Britain was represented by Lord
Beaconsfield and Lord Salisbury, succeeded in substituting for the treaty
of San Stefano the treaty of Berlin. The one great advantage derived from
it was the tacit acknowledgment by Russia that Europe could alone alter
arrangements which Europe had made. In every other sense it is doubtful
whether the provisions of the treaty of Berlin were more favourable than
those of the treaty of San Stefano. On Lord Beaconsfield's return,
however, he claimed for Lord Salisbury and himself that they had brought
back "peace with honour," and the country accepted with wild delight the
phrase, without taking much trouble to analyse its justice.

  Afghan wars.

If Lord Beaconsfield had dissolved parliament immediately after his
return from Berlin, it is possible that the wave of popularity which had
been raised by his success would have borne him forward to a fresh
victory in the constituencies. His omission to do so gave the country
time to meditate on the consequences of his policy. One result soon
became perceptible. Differences with Russia produced their inevitable
consequences in fresh complications on the Indian frontier. The Russian
government, confronted with a quarrel with Great Britain in eastern
Europe, endeavoured to create difficulties in Afghanistan. A Russian
envoy was sent to Kabul, where Shere Ali, who had succeeded his father
Dost Mahommed in 1863, was amir; and the British government, alarmed at
this new embarrassment, decided on sending a mission to the Afghan
capital. The mission was stopped on the frontier by an agent of Shere
Ali, who declined to allow it to proceed. The British government refused
to put up with an affront of this kind, and their envoy, supported by an
army, continued his advance. Afghanistan was again invaded. Kabul and
Kandahar were occupied; and Shere Ali was forced to fly, and soon
afterwards died. His successor, Yakub Khan, came to the British camp and
signed, in May 1879, the treaty of Gandamak. Under the terms of this
treaty the Indian government undertook to pay the new amir a subsidy of
£60,000 a year; and Yakub Khan consented to receive a British mission at
Kabul, and to cede some territory in the Himalayas which the military
advisers of Lord Beaconsfield considered necessary to make the frontier
more "scientific." This apparent success was soon followed by disastrous
news. The deplorable events of 1841 were re-enacted in 1879. The new
envoy reached Kabul, but was soon afterwards murdered. A British army
was again sent into Afghanistan, and Kabul was again occupied. Yakub
Khan, who had been made amir in 1879, was deposed, and Abdur Rahman Khan
was selected as his successor. The British did not assert their
superiority without much fighting and some serious reverses. Their
victory was at last assured by the excellent strategy of Sir Donald
Stewart and Sir Frederick (afterwards Lord) Roberts. But before the
final victory was gained Lord Beaconsfield had fallen. His policy had
brought Great Britain to the verge of disaster in Afghanistan: the
credit of reasserting the superiority of British arms was deferred till
his successors had taken office.

  Zulu War.

It was not only in Afghanistan that the new imperial policy which Lord
Beaconsfield had done so much to encourage was straining the resources
of the empire. In South Africa a still more serious difficulty was
already commencing. At the time at which Lord Beaconsfield's
administration began, British territory in South Africa was practically
confined to Cape Colony and Natal. Years before, in 1852 and 1854
respectively, the British government, at that time a little weary of the
responsibilities of colonial rule, had recognized the independence of
the two Dutch republics, the Transvaal and the Orange Free State.
Powerful native tribes occupied the territory to the north of Natal and
the east of the Transvaal. War broke out between the Transvaal Republic
and one of the most powerful of these native chieftains, Sikukuni; and
the Transvaal was worsted in the struggle. Weary of the condition of
anarchy which existed in the republic, many inhabitants of the Transvaal
were ready to welcome its annexation to Great Britain--a proposal
favoured by the colonial secretary, Lord Carnarvon, who wished to
federate the South African states, after the manner in which the North
American colonies had become by confederation the Dominion of Canada.
Sir Theophilus Shepstone, who was sent to inquire into the proposal,
mistook the opinion of a party for the verdict of the republic, and
declared (April 1877) the Transvaal a part of the British Empire. His
policy entailed far more serious consequences than the mission to
Afghanistan. The first was a war with the Zulus, the most powerful and
warlike of the South African natives, who under their ruler, Cetewayo,
had organized a formidable army. A dispute had been going on for some
time about the possession of a strip of territory which some British
arbitrators had awarded to the Zulu king. Sir Bartle Frere, who had won
distinction in India, and was sent out by Lord Beaconsfield's government
to the Cape, kept back the award; and, though he ultimately communicated
it to Cetewayo, thought it desirable to demand the disbandment of the
Zulu army. In the war which ensued, the British troops who invaded Zulu
territory met with a severe reverse; and, though the disaster was
ultimately retrieved by Lord Chelmsford, the war involved heavy
expenditure and brought little credit to the British army, while one
unfortunate incident, the death of Prince Napoleon, who had obtained
leave to serve with the British troops, and was surprised by the Zulus
while reconnoitering, created a deep and unfortunate impression.
Imperialism, which had been excited by Lord Beaconsfield's policy in
1878, and by the prospect of a war with a great European power, fell
into discredit when it degenerated into a fresh expedition into
Afghanistan, and an inglorious war with a savage African tribe. A
period of distress at home increased the discontent which Lord
Beaconsfield's external policy was exciting; and, when parliament was at
last dissolved in 1880, it seemed no longer certain that the country
would endorse the policy of the minister, who only a short time before
had acquired such popularity. Gladstone, emerging from his retirement,
practically placed himself again at the head of the Liberal party. In a
series of speeches in Midlothian, where he offered himself for election,
he denounced the whole policy which Lord Beaconsfield had pursued. His
impassioned eloquence did much more than influence his own election. His
speeches decided the contest throughout the kingdom. The Liberals
secured an even more surprising success than that which had rewarded the
Conservatives six years before. For the first time in the queen's reign,
a solid Liberal majority, independent of all extraneous Irish support,
was returned, and Gladstone resumed in triumph his old position as prime

  Gladstone's second ministry.

  Boer War, 1881.

The new minister had been swept into power on a wave of popular favour,
but he inherited from his predecessors difficulties in almost every
quarter of the world; and his own language had perhaps tended to
increase them. He was committed to a reversal of Lord Beaconsfield's
policy; and, in politics, it is never easy, and perhaps rarely wise,
suddenly and violently to change a system. In one quarter of the world
the new minister achieved much success. The war in Afghanistan, which
had begun with disaster, was creditably concluded. A better
understanding was gradually established with Russia; and, before the
ministry went out, steps had been taken which led to the delimitation of
the Russian and Afghan frontier. In South Africa, however, a very
different result ensued. Gladstone, before he accepted office, had
denounced the policy of annexing the Transvaal; his language was so
strong that he was charged with encouraging the Boers to maintain their
independence by force; his example had naturally been imitated by some
of his followers at the general election; and, when he resumed power, he
found himself in the difficult dilemma of either maintaining an
arrangement which he had declared to be unwise, or of yielding to a
demand which the Boers were already threatening to support in arms. The
events of the first year of his administration added to his difficulty.
Before its close the Boers seized Heidelberg and established a republic;
they destroyed a detachment of British troops at Bronkhorst Spruit; and
they surrounded and attacked the British garrisons in the Transvaal.
Troops were of course sent from England to maintain the British cause;
and Sir George Colley, who enjoyed a high reputation and had experience
in South African warfare, was made governor of Natal, and entrusted with
the military command. The events which immediately followed will not be
easily forgotten. Wholly miscalculating the strength of the Boers, Sir
George Colley, at the end of January 1881, attacked them at Laing's Nek,
in the north of Natal, and was repulsed with heavy loss. Some ten days
afterwards he fought another action on the Ingogo, and was again forced
to retire. On the 26th February, with some 600 men, he occupied a high
hill, known as Majuba, which, he thought, dominated the Boer position.
The following day the Boers attacked the hill, overwhelmed its
defenders, and Sir George Colley was himself killed in the disastrous
contest on the summit. News of these occurrences was received with
dismay in England. It was, no doubt, possible to say a good deal for
Gladstone's indignant denunciation of his predecessor's policy in
annexing the Transvaal; it would have been equally possible to advance
many reasons for reversing the measures of Lord Beaconsfield's cabinet,
and for conceding independence to the Transvaal in 1880. But the great
majority of persons considered that, whatever arguments might have been
urged for concession in 1880, when British troops had suffered no
reverses, nothing could be said for concession in 1881, when their arms
had been tarnished by a humiliating disaster. Great countries can afford
to be generous in the hour of victory; but they cannot yield, without
loss of credit, in the hour of defeat. Unfortunately this reasoning was
not suited to Gladstone's temperament. The justice or injustice of the
British cause seemed to him a much more important matter than the
vindication of military honour; and he could not bring himself to
acknowledge that Majuba had altered the situation, and that the terms
which he had made up his mind to concede before the battle could not be
safely granted till military reputation was restored. The retrocession
of the Transvaal was decided upon, though it was provided that the
country should remain under the suzerainty of the queen. Even this great
concession did not satisfy the ambition of the Boers, who were naturally
elated by their victories. Three years later some Transvaal deputies,
with their president, Kruger, came to London and saw Lord Derby, the
secretary of state for the colonies. Lord Derby consented to a new
convention, from which any verbal reference to suzerainty was excluded;
and the South African republic was made independent, subject only to the
condition that it should conclude no treaties with foreign powers
without the approval of the crown. (For the details and disputes
concerning the terms of this convention the reader is referred to the


Gladstone's government declined in popularity from the date of the
earliest of these concessions. Gladstone, in fact, had succeeded in
doing what Lord Beaconsfield had failed to accomplish. Annoyance at his
foreign policy had rekindled the imperialism which the embarrassments
created by Lord Beaconsfield had done so much to damp down. And, if
things were going badly with the new government abroad, matters were not
progressing smoothly at home. At the general election of 1880, the
borough of Northampton, which of late years has shown an unwavering
preference for Liberals of an advanced type, returned as its members
Henry Labouchere and Charles Bradlaugh. Bradlaugh, who had attained some
notoriety for an aggressive atheism, claimed the right to make an
affirmation of allegiance instead of taking the customary oath, which he
declared was, in his eyes, a meaningless form. The speaker, instead of
deciding the question, submitted it to the judgment of the House, and it
was ultimately referred to a select committee, which reported against
Bradlaugh's claim. Bradlaugh, on hearing the decision of the committee,
presented himself at the bar and offered to take the oath. It was
objected that, as he had publicly declared that the words of the oath
had no clear meaning for him, he could not be permitted to take it; and
after some wrangling the matter was referred to a fresh committee, which
supported the view that Bradlaugh could not be allowed to be sworn, but
recommended that he should be permitted to make the affirmation at his
own risk. The House refused to accept the recommendation of this
committee when a bill was introduced to give effect to it. This decision
naturally enlarged the question before it. For, while hitherto the
debate had turned on the technical points whether an affirmation could
be substituted for an oath, or whether a person who had declared that an
oath had no meaning for him could properly be sworn, the end at which
Bradlaugh's opponents were thenceforward aiming was the imposition of a
new religious test--the belief in a God--on members of the House of
Commons. The controversy, which thus began, continued through the
parliament of 1880, and led to many violent scenes, which lowered the
dignity of the House. It was quietly terminated, in the parliament of
1886, by the firm action of a new speaker. Mr Peel, who had been elected
to the chair in 1884, decided that neither the speaker nor any other
member had the right to intervene to prevent a member from taking the
oath if he was willing to take it. Parliament subsequently, by a new
act, permitted affirmations to be used, and thenceforward religion, or
the absence of religion, was no disqualification for a seat in the House
of Commons. The atheist, like the Roman Catholic and the Jew, could sit
and vote.


The Bradlaugh question was not the only difficulty with which the new
government was confronted. Ireland was again attracting the attention of
politicians. The Fenian movement had practically expired; some annual
motions for the introduction of Home Rule, made with all the decorum of
parliamentary usage, had been regularly defeated. But the Irish were
placing themselves under new leaders and adopting new methods. During
the Conservative government of 1874, the Irish members had endeavoured
to arrest attention by organized obstruction. Their efforts had
increased the difficulties of government and taxed the endurance of
parliament. These tactics were destined to be raised to a fine art by
Parnell, who succeeded to the head of the Irish party about the time of
the formation of Gladstone's government. It was Parnell's determination
to make legislation impracticable, and parliament unendurable, till
Irish grievances were redressed. It was his evident belief that by
pursuing such tactics he could force the House of Commons to concede the
legislation which he desired. The Irish members were not satisfied with
the legislation which parliament had passed in 1869-1870. The land act
of 1870 had given the tenant no security in the case of eviction for
non-payment of rent; and the tenant whose rent was too high or had been
raised was at the mercy of his landlord. It so happened that some bad
harvests had temporarily increased the difficulties of the tenantry, and
there was no doubt that large numbers of evictions were taking place in
Ireland. In these circumstances, the Irish contended that the relief
which the act of 1870 had afforded should be extended, and that, till
such legislation could be devised, a temporary measure should be passed
giving the tenant compensation for disturbance. Gladstone admitted the
force of this reasoning, and a bill was introduced to give effect to it.
Passed by the Commons, it was thrown out towards the end of the session
by the Lords; and the government acquiesced--perhaps could do nothing
but acquiesce--in this decision. In Ireland, however, the rejection of
the measure was attended with disastrous results. Outrages increased,
obnoxious landlords and agents were "boycotted"--the name of the first
gentleman exposed to this treatment adding a new word to the language;
and Forster, who had accepted the office of chief secretary, thought it
necessary, in the presence of outrage and intimidation, to adopt
stringent measures for enforcing order. A measure was passed on his
initiation, in 1881, authorizing him to arrest and detain suspected
persons; and many well-known Irishmen, including Parnell himself and
other members of parliament, were thrown into prison. It was an odd
commentary on parliamentary government that a Liberal ministry should be
in power, and that Irish members should be in prison; and early in 1882
Gladstone determined to liberate the prisoners on terms. The new
policy--represented by what was known as the Kilmainham Treaty--led to
the resignation of the viceroy, Lord Cowper, and of Forster, and the
appointment of Lord Spencer and Lord Frederick Cavendish as their
successors. On the 6th of May 1882 Lord Spencer made his entry into
Dublin, and on the evening of the same day Lord Frederick, unwisely
allowed to walk home alone with Burke, the under-secretary to the Irish
government, was murdered with his companion in Phoenix Park. This gross
outrage led to fresh measures of coercion. The disclosure, soon
afterwards, of a conspiracy to resort to dynamite still further
alienated the sympathies of the Liberal party from the Irish nation.
Gladstone might fairly plead that he had done much, that he had risked
much, for Ireland, and that Ireland was making him a poor return for his



In the meanwhile another difficulty was further embarrassing a harassed
government. The necessities of the khedive of Egypt had been only
temporarily relieved by the sale to Lord Beaconsfield's government of
the Suez Canal shares. Egyptian finance, in the interests of the
bondholders, had been placed under the dual control of England and
France. The new arrangement naturally produced some native resentment,
and Arabi Pasha placed himself at the head of a movement which was
intended to rid Egypt of foreign interference. His preparations
eventually led to the bombardment of Alexandria by the British fleet,
and still later to the invasion of Egypt by a British army under Sir
Garnet, afterwards Lord Wolseley, and to the battle of Tell-el-Kebir,
after which Arabi was defeated and taken prisoner. The bombardment of
Alexandria led to the immediate resignation of Bright, whose presence
in the cabinet had been of importance to the government; the occupation
of Egypt broke up the dual control, and made Great Britain responsible
for Egyptian administration. The effects of British rule were, in one
sense, remarkable. The introduction of good government increased the
prosperity of the people, and restored confidence in Egyptian finance.
At the same time it provoked the animosity of the French, who were
naturally jealous of the increase of British influence on the Nile, and
it also threw new responsibilities on the British nation. For south of
Egypt lay the great territory of the Sudan, which to some extent
commands the Nile, and which had been added to the Egyptian dominions at
various periods between 1820 and 1875. In 1881 a fanatic sheikh--known
as the mahdi--had headed an insurrection against the khedive's
authority; and towards the close of 1883 an Egyptian army under an
Englishman, Colonel Hicks, was annihilated by the mahdi's followers. The
insurrection increased the responsibilities which intervention had
imposed on England, and an expedition was sent to Suakin to guard the
littoral of the Red Sea; while, at the beginning of 1884, General
Gordon--whose services in China had gained him a high reputation, and
who had had previous experience in the Sudan--was sent to Khartum to
report on the condition of affairs. These decisions led to momentous
results. The British expedition to Suakin was engaged in a series of
battles with Osman Digna, the mahdi's lieutenant; while General Gordon,
after alternate reverses and successes, was isolated at Khartum. Anxious
as Gladstone's ministry was to restrict the sphere of its
responsibilities, it was compelled to send an expedition to relieve
General Gordon; and Lord Wolseley, who was appointed to the command,
decided on moving up the Nile to his relief. The expedition proved much
more difficult than Lord Wolseley had anticipated. And before it reached
its goal, Khartum was forced to surrender, and General Gordon and his
few faithful followers were murdered (January 1885). General Gordon's
death inflicted a fatal blow on the Liberal government. It was thought
that the general, whose singular devotion to duty made him a popular
hero, had been allowed to assume an impossible task; had been feebly
supported; and that the measures for his relief had been unduly
postponed and at last only reluctantly undertaken. The ministry
ultimately experienced defeat on a side issue. The budget, which
Childers brought forward as chancellor of the exchequer, was attacked by
the Conservative party; and an amendment proposed by Sir Michael
Hicks-Beach, condemning an increase in the duties on spirits and beer,
was adopted by a small majority. Gladstone resigned office, and Lord
Salisbury, who, after Lord Beaconsfield's death, had succeeded to the
lead of the Conservative party, was instructed to form a new

  Reform Act, 1884.

It was obvious that the new government, as its first duty, would be
compelled to dissolve the parliament that had been elected when
Gladstone was enjoying the popularity which he had lost so rapidly in
office. But it so happened that it was no longer possible to appeal to
the old constituencies. For, in 1884, Gladstone had introduced a new
Reform Bill; and, though its passage had been arrested by the Lords,
unofficial communications between the leaders of both parties had
resulted in a compromise which had led to the adoption of a large and
comprehensive Reform Act. By this measure, household franchise was
extended to the counties. But counties and boroughs were broken up into
a number of small constituencies, for the most part returning only one
member each; while the necessity of increasing the relative weight of
Great Britain, and the reluctance to inflict disfranchisement on
Ireland, led to an increase in the numbers of the House of Commons from
658 to 670 members. This radical reconstruction of the electorate
necessarily made the result of the elections doubtful. As a matter of
fact, the new parliament comprised 334 Liberals, 250 Conservatives and
86 Irish Nationalists. It was plain beyond the possibility of doubt that
the future depended on the course which the Irish Nationalists might
adopt. It they threw in their lot with Gladstone, Lord Salisbury's
government was evidently doomed. If, on the contrary, they joined the
Conservatives, they could make a Liberal administration impracticable.

  Home Rule.

In the autumn of 1885 it was doubtful what course the Irish Nationalists
would take. It was generally understood that Lord Carnarvon, who had
been made viceroy of Ireland, had been in communication with Parnell;
that Lord Salisbury was aware of the interviews which had taken place;
and it was whispered that Lord Carnarvon was in favour of granting some
sort of administrative autonomy to Ireland. Whatever opinion Lord
Carnarvon may have formed--and his precise view is uncertain--a greater
man than he had suddenly arrived at a similar conclusion. In his
election speeches Gladstone had insisted on the necessity of the country
returning a Liberal majority which could act independently of the Irish
vote; and the result of the general election had left the Irish the
virtual arbiters of the political situation. In these circumstances
Gladstone arrived at a momentous decision. He recognized that the system
under which Ireland had been governed in the past had failed to win the
allegiance of her people; and he decided that it was wise and safe to
entrust her with a large measure of self-government. It was perhaps
characteristic of Gladstone, though it was unquestionably unfortunate,
that, in determining on this radical change of policy, he consulted few,
if any, of his previous colleagues. On the meeting of the new parliament
Lord Salisbury's government was defeated on an amendment to the address,
demanding facilities for agricultural labourers to obtain small holdings
for gardens and pasture--the policy, in short, which was described as
"three acres and a cow." Lord Salisbury resigned, and Gladstone resumed
power. The attitude, however, which Gladstone was understood to be
taking on the subject of Home Rule threw many difficulties in his way.
Lord Harrington, and others of his former colleagues, declined to join
his administration; Mr Chamberlain, who, in the first instance, accepted
office, retired almost at once from the ministry; and Bright, whose
eloquence and past services gave him a unique position in the House,
threw in his lot in opposition to Home Rule. A split in the Liberal
party thus began, which was destined to endure; and Gladstone found his
difficulties increased by the defection of the men on whom he had
hitherto largely relied. He persevered, however, in the task which he
had set himself, and introduced a measure endowing Ireland with a
parliament, and excluding the Irish members from Westminster. He was
defeated, and appealed from the House which had refused to support him
to the country. For the first time in the queen's reign two general
elections occurred within twelve months. The country showed no more
disposition than the House of Commons to approve the course which the
minister was taking. A large majority of the members of the new
parliament were pledged to resist Home Rule. Gladstone, bowing at once
to the verdict of the people, resigned office, and Lord Salisbury
returned to power.


The new cabinet, which was formed to resist Home Rule, did not succeed
in combining all the opponents to this measure. The secessionists from
the Liberal party--the Liberal Unionists, as they were called--held
aloof from it; and Lord Salisbury was forced to form his cabinet out of
his immediate followers. The most picturesque appointment was that of
Lord Randolph Churchill, who was made chancellor of the exchequer and
leader of the House of Commons. But before many months were over, Lord
Randolph--unable to secure acceptance of a policy of financial
retrenchment--resigned office, and Lord Salisbury was forced to
reconstruct his ministry. Though he again failed to obtain the
co-operation of the Liberal Unionists, one of the more prominent of
them--Goschen--accepted the seals of the Exchequer. W. H. Smith moved
from the war office to the treasury, and became leader of the House of
Commons; while Lord Salisbury himself returned to the foreign office,
which the dramatically sudden death of Lord Iddesleigh, better known as
Sir Stafford Northcote, vacated. These arrangements lasted till 1891,
when, on Smith's death, the treasury and the lead of the Commons were
entrusted to Lord Salisbury's nephew, Mr Arthur Balfour, who had made a
great reputation as chief secretary for Ireland.

  Nationalist split.

The ministry of 1886, which endured till 1892, gave to London a county
council; introduced representative government into every English county;
and made elementary education free throughout England. The alliance with
the Liberal Unionists was, in fact, compelling the Conservative
government to promote measures which were not wholly consistent with the
stricter Conservative traditions, or wishes. In other respects, the
legislative achievements of the government were not great; and the time
of parliament was largely occupied in devising rules for the conduct of
its business, which the obstructive attitude of the Irish members made
necessary, and in discussing the charges brought against the Nationalist
party by _The Times_, of complicity in the Phoenix Park murders. Under
the new rules, the sittings of the House on ordinary days were made to
commence at 3 P.M., and opposed business was automatically interrupted
at midnight, while for the first time a power was given to the majority
in a House of a certain size to conclude debate by what was known as the
closure. Notwithstanding these new rules obstructive tactics continued
to prevail; and, in the course of the parliament, many members were
suspended for disorderly conduct. The hostility of the Irish members was
perhaps increased by some natural indignation at the charges brought
against Parnell. _The Times_, in April 1887, printed the facsimile of a
letter purporting to be signed by Parnell, in which he declared that he
had no other course open to him but to denounce the Phoenix Park
murders, but that, while he regretted "the accident" of Lord Frederick
Cavendish's death, he could not "refuse to admit that Burke got no more
than his deserts." The publication of this letter, and later of other
similar documents, naturally created a great sensation; and the
government ultimately appointed a special commission of three judges to
inquire into the charges and allegations that were made. In the course
of the inquiry it was proved that the letters had emanated from a man
named Pigott, who had at one time been associated with the Irish
Nationalist movement, but who for some time past had earned a precarious
living by writing begging and threatening letters. Pigott, subjected to
severe cross-examination by Sir Charles Russell (afterwards Lord Russell
of Killowen), broke down, fled from justice and committed suicide. His
flight practically settled the question; and an inquiry, which many
people had thought at its inception would brand Parnell as a criminal,
raised him to an influence which he had never enjoyed before. But in the
same year which witnessed his triumph, he was doomed to fall. He was
made co-respondent in a divorce suit brought by Captain O'Shea--another
Irishman--for the dissolution of his marriage; and the disclosures made
at the trial induced Gladstone, who was supported by the Nonconformists
generally throughout the United Kingdom, to request Parnell to withdraw
from the leadership of the Irish party. Parnell refused to comply with
this request, and the Irish party was shattered into fragments by his
decision. Parnell himself did not long survive the disruption of the
party which he had done so much to create. The exertions which he made
to retrieve his waning influence proved too much for his strength, and
in the autumn of 1891 he died suddenly at Brighton. Parnell's death
radically altered the political situation. At the general elections of
1885 and 1886 the existence of a strong, united Irish party had
exercised a dominating influence. As the parliament of 1886 was drawing
to a close, the dissensions among the Irish members, and the loss of
their great leader, were visibly sapping the strength of the
Nationalists. At the general election of 1892 Home Rule was still the
prominent subject before the electors. But the English Liberals were
already a little weary of allies who were quarrelling among themselves,
and whose disputes were introducing a new factor into politics. The
political struggle virtually turned not on measures, but on men.
Gladstone's great age, and the marvellous powers which he displayed at a
time when most men seek the repose of retirement, were the chief causes
which affected the results. His influence enabled him to secure a small
Liberal majority. But it was noticed that the majority depended on
Scottish, Irish and Welsh votes, and that England--the "predominant
partner," as it was subsequently called by Lord Rosebery--returned a
majority of members pledged to resist any attempt to dissolve the union
between the three kingdoms.

  Home Rule Bill, 1893.

On the meeting of the new parliament Lord Salisbury's government was
defeated on a vote of want of confidence, and for a fourth time
Gladstone became prime minister. In the session of 1893 he again
introduced a Home Rule Bill. But the measure of 1893 differed in many
respects from that of 1886. In particular, the Irish were no longer to
be excluded from the imperial parliament at Westminster. The bill which
was thus brought forward was actually passed by the Commons. It was,
however, rejected by the Lords. The dissensions among the Irish
themselves, and the hostility which English constituents were displaying
to the proposal, emboldened the Peers to arrive at this decision. Some
doubt was felt as to the course which Gladstone would take in this
crisis. Many persons thought that he should at once have appealed to the
country, and have endeavoured to obtain a distinct mandate from the
constituencies to introduce a new Home Rule Bill. Other persons imagined
that he should have followed the precedent which had been set by Lord
Grey in 1831, and, after a short prorogation, have reintroduced his
measure in a new session. As a matter of fact, Gladstone adopted neither
of these courses. The government decided not to take up the gauntlet
thrown down by the Peers, but to proceed with the rest of their
political programme. With this object an autumn session was held, and
the Parish Councils Act, introduced by Mr Fowler (afterwards Lord
Wolverhampton), was passed, after important amendments, which had been
introduced into it in the House of Lords, had been reluctantly accepted
by Gladstone. On the other hand, an Employers' Liability Bill,
introduced by Mr Asquith, the home secretary, was ultimately dropped by
Gladstone after passing all stages in the House of Commons, rather than
that an amendment of the Peers, allowing "contracting out," should be

  Lord Rosebery.

Before, however, the session had quite run out (3rd March 1894),
Gladstone, who had now completed his eighty-fourth year, laid down a
load which his increasing years made it impossible for him to sustain
(see the article GLADSTONE). He was succeeded by Lord Rosebery, whose
abilities and attainments had raised him to a high place in the Liberal
counsels. Lord Rosebery did not succeed in popularizing the Home Rule
proposal which Gladstone had failed to carry. He declared, indeed, that
success was not attainable till England was converted to its expediency.
He hinted that success would not even then be assured until something
was done to reform the constitution of the House of Lords. But if, on
the one hand, he refused to introduce a new Home Rule Bill, he
hesitated, on the other, to court defeat by any attempt to reform the
Lords. His government, in these circumstances, while it failed to
conciliate its opponents, excited no enthusiasm among its supporters. It
was generally understood, moreover, that a large section of the Liberal
party resented Lord Rosebery's appointment to the first place in the
ministry, and thought that the lead should have been conferred on Sir W.
Harcourt. It was an open secret that these differences in the party were
reflected in the cabinet, and that the relations between Lord Rosebery
and Sir W. Harcourt were too strained to ensure either the harmonious
working or the stability of the administration. In these circumstances
the fall of the ministry was only a question of time. It occurred--as
often happens in parliament--on a minor issue which no one had foreseen.
Attention was drawn in the House of Commons to the insufficient supply
of cordite provided by the war office, and the House--notwithstanding
the assurance of the war minister (Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman) that
the supply was adequate--placed the government in a minority. Lord
Rosebery resigned office, and Lord Salisbury for the third time became
prime minister, the duke of Devonshire, Mr Chamberlain and other
Liberal Unionists joining the government. Parliament was dissolved, and
a new parliament, in which the Unionists obtained an overwhelming
majority, was returned.

The government of 1892-1895, which was successively led by Gladstone and
Lord Rosebery, will, on the whole, be remembered for its failures. Yet
it passed two measures which have exercised a wide influence. The Parish
Councils Act introduced electoral institutions into the government of
every parish, and in 1894 Sir W. Harcourt, as chancellor of the
exchequer, availed himself of the opportunity, which a large addition to
the navy invited, to reconstruct the death duties. He swept away in
doing so many of the advantages which the owner of real estate and the
life tenant of settled property had previously enjoyed, and drove home a
principle which Goschen had tentatively introduced a few years before by
increasing the rate of the duty with the amount of the estate. Rich men,
out of their superfluities, were thenceforward to pay more than poor men
out of their necessities.

  The two jubilees.

The Unionist government which came into power in 1895 lasted, with
certain changes of _personnel_, till 1905, with a break caused by the
dissolution of 1900. History may hereafter conclude that the most
significant circumstance of the earlier period is to be found in the
demonstration of loyalty and affection to which the sixtieth anniversary
of Queen Victoria's accession led in 1897. Ten years before, her jubilee
had been the occasion of enthusiastic rejoicings, and the queen's
progress through London to a service of thanksgiving at Westminster had
impressed the imagination of her subjects and proved the affection of
her people. But the rejoicings of 1887 were forgotten amid the more
striking demonstrations ten years later. It was seen then that the
queen, by her conduct and character, had gained a popularity which has
had no parallel in history, and had won a place in the hearts of her
subjects which perhaps no other monarch had ever previously enjoyed.
There was no doubt that, if the opinion of the English-speaking races
throughout the world could have been tested by a plebiscite, an
overwhelming majority would have declared that the fittest person for
the rule of the British empire was the gracious and kindly lady who for
sixty years, in sorrow and in joy, had so worthily discharged the duties
of her high position. This remarkable demonstration was not confined to
the British empire alone. In every portion of the globe the sixtieth
anniversary of the queen's reign excited interest; in every country the
queen's name was mentioned with affection and respect; while the people
of the United States vied with the subjects of the British empire in
praise of the queen's character and in expressions of regard for her
person. Only a year or two before, an obscure dispute on the boundary of
British Venezuela had brought the United States and Great Britain within
sight of a quarrel. The jubilee showed conclusively that, whatever
politicians might say, the ties of blood and kinship, which united the
two peoples, were too close to be severed by either for some trifling
cause; that the wisest heads in both nations were aware of the
advantages which must arise from the closer union of the Anglo-Saxon
races; and that the true interests of both countries lay in their mutual
friendship. A war in which the United States was subsequently engaged
with Spain cemented this feeling. The government and the people of the
United States recognized the advantage which they derived from the
goodwill of Great Britain in the hour of their necessity, and the two
nations drew together as no other two nations had perhaps ever been
drawn together before.

  Omdurman, Fashoda.

  Jameson Raid.

If the jubilee was a proof of the closer union of the many sections of
the British empire, and of their warm attachment to their sovereign, it
also gave expression to the "imperialism" which was becoming a dominant
factor in British politics. Few people realized the mighty change which
in this respect had been effected in thought and feeling. Forty years
before, the most prominent English statesmen had regarded with anxiety
the huge responsibilities of a world-wide empire. In 1897 the whole
tendency of thought and opinion was to enlarge the burden of which the
preceding generation had been weary. The extension of British influence,
the protection of British interests, were almost universally advocated;
and the few statesmen who repeated in the 'nineties the sentiments
which would have been generally accepted in the 'sixties, were regarded
as "Little Englanders." It is important to note the consequences which
these new ideas produced in Africa. Both in the north and in the south
of this great and imperfectly explored continent, memories still clung
which were ungrateful to imperialism. In the north, the murder of Gordon
was still unavenged; and the vast territory known as the Sudan had
escaped from the control of Egypt. In the south, war with the Transvaal
had been concluded by a British defeat; and the Dutch were elated, the
English irritated, at the recollection of Majuba. In 1896 Lord
Salisbury's government decided on extending the Anglo-Egyptian rule over
the Sudan, and an expedition was sent from Egypt under the command of
Sir Herbert (afterwards Lord) Kitchener to Khartum. Few military
expeditions have been more elaborately organized, or have achieved a
more brilliant success. The conquest of the country was achieved in
three separate campaigns in successive years. In September 1898 the
Sudanese forces were decisively beaten, with great slaughter, in the
immediate neighbourhood of Omdurman; and Khartum became thenceforward
the capital of the new province, which was placed under Lord Kitchener's
rule. Soon after this decisive success, it was found that a French
expedition under Major Marchand had reached the upper Nile and had
hoisted the French flag at Fashoda. It was obvious that the French could
not be allowed to remain at a spot which the khedive of Egypt claimed as
Egyptian territory; and after some negotiation, and some irritation, the
French were withdrawn. In South Africa still more important events were
in the meanwhile progressing. Ever since the independence of the South
African Republic had been virtually conceded by the convention of 1884,
unhappy differences had prevailed between the Dutch and British
residents in the Transvaal. The discovery of gold at Johannesburg and
elsewhere in 1885-1886 had led to a large immigration of British and
other colonists. Johannesburg had grown into a great and prosperous
city. The foreign population of the Transvaal, which was chiefly
English, became in a few years more numerous than the Boers themselves,
and they complained that they were deprived of all political rights,
that they were subjected to unfair taxation, and that they were hampered
in their industry and unjustly treated by the Dutch courts and Dutch
officials. Failing to obtain redress, at the end of 1895 certain persons
among them made preparations for a revolution. Dr Jameson, the
administrator of Rhodesia, accompanied by some British officers,
actually invaded the Transvaal. His force, utterly inadequate for the
purpose, was stopped by the Boers, and he and his fellow-officers were
taken prisoners. There was no doubt that this raid on the territory of a
friendly state was totally unjustifiable. Unfortunately, Dr Jameson's
original plans had been framed at the instance of Cecil Rhodes, the
prime minister at the Cape, and many persons thought that they ought to
have been suspected by the colonial office in London. England at any
rate would have had no valid ground of complaint if the leaders of a
buccaneering force had been summarily dealt with by the Transvaal
authorities. The president of the republic, Kruger, however, handed over
his prisoners to the British authorities, and parliament instituted an
inquiry by a select committee into the circumstances of the raid. The
inquiry was terminated somewhat abruptly. The committee acquitted the
colonial office of any knowledge of the plot; but a good many suspicions
remained unanswered. The chief actors in the raid were tried under the
Foreign Enlistment Act, found guilty, and subsequently released after
short terms of imprisonment. Rhodes himself was not removed from the
privy council, as his more extreme accusers demanded; but he had to
abandon his career in Cape politics for a time, and confine his energies
to the development of Rhodesia, which had been added to the empire
through his instrumentality in 1888-1889.

  Boer War, 1899.

In consequence of these proceedings, the Transvaal authorities at once
set to work to accumulate armaments, and they succeeded in procuring
vast quantities of artillery and military stores. The British government
would undoubtedly have been entitled to insist that these armaments
should cease. It was obvious that they could only be directed against
Great Britain; and no nation is bound to allow another people to prepare
great armaments to be employed against itself. The criminal folly of the
raid prevented the British government from making this demand. It could
not say that the Transvaal government had no cause for alarm when
British officers had attempted an invasion of its territory, and had
been treated rather as heroes than as criminals at home. Ignorant of the
strength of Great Britain, and elated by the recollection of their
previous successes, the Boers themselves believed that a new struggle
might give them predominance in South Africa. The knowledge that a large
portion of the population of Cape Colony was of Dutch extraction, and
that public men at the Cape sympathized with them in their aspirations,
increased their confidence. In the meantime, while the Boers were
silently and steadily continuing their military preparations, the
British settlers at Johannesburg--the Uitlanders, as they were
called--continued to demand consideration for their grievances. In the
spring of 1899, Sir Alfred Milner, governor of the Cape, met President
Kruger at Bloemfontein, the capital of the Orange Free State, and
endeavoured to accomplish that result by negotiation. He thought, at the
time, that if the Uitlanders were given the franchise and a fair
proportion of influence in the legislature, other difficulties might be
left to settle themselves. The negotiations thus commenced unfortunately
failed. The discussion, which had originally turned on the franchise,
was enlarged by the introduction of the question of suzerainty or
supremacy; and at last, in the beginning of October, when the rains of
an African spring were causing the grass to grow on which the Boer
armies were largely dependent for forage, the Boers declared war and
invaded Natal. The British government had not been altogether happy in
its conduct of the preceding negotiations. It was certainly unhappy in
its preparations for the struggle. It made the great mistake of
underrating the strength of its enemy; it suffered its agents to commit
the strategical blunder of locking up the few troops it had in an
untenable position in the north of Natal. It was not surprising, in such
circumstances, that the earlier months of the war should have been
memorable for a series of exasperating reverses. These reverses,
however, were redeemed by the valour of the British troops, the spirit
of the British nation, and the enthusiasm which induced the great
autonomous colonies of the empire to send men to support the cause of
the mother country. The gradual arrival of reinforcements, and the
appointment of a soldier of genius--Lord Roberts--to the supreme
command, changed the military situation; and, before the summer of 1900
was concluded, the places which had been besieged by the
Boers--Kimberley, Ladysmith and Mafeking--had been successively
relieved; the capitals of the Orange Free State and of the Transvaal had
been occupied; and the two republics, which had rashly declared war
against the British empire, had been formally annexed.

  The close of 1900.

The defeat and dispersal of the Boer armies, and the apparent collapse
of Boer resistance, induced a hope that the war was over; and the
government seized the opportunity in 1900 to terminate the parliament,
which had already endured for more than five years. The election was
conducted with unusual bitterness; but the constituencies practically
affirmed the policy of the government by maintaining, almost unimpaired,
the large majority which the Unionists had secured in 1895.
Unfortunately, the expectations which had been formed at the time of the
dissolution were disappointed. The same circumstances which had
emboldened the Boers to declare war in the autumn of 1899, induced them
to renew a guerilla warfare in the autumn of 1900--the approach of an
African summer supplying the Boers with the grass on which they were
dependent for feeding their hardy horses. Guerilla bands suddenly
appeared in different parts of the Orange River Colony and of the
Transvaal. They interrupted the communications of the British armies;
they won isolated victories over British detachments; they even invaded
Cape Colony. Thus the last year of the century closed in disappointment
and gloom. The serious losses which the war entailed, the heavy
expenses which it involved, and the large force which it absorbed,
filled thoughtful men with anxiety.

  The death of the queen.

No one felt more sincerely for the sufferings of her soldiers, and no
one regretted more truly the useless prolongation of the struggle, than
the venerable lady who occupied the throne. She had herself lost a
grandson (Prince Christian Victor) in South Africa; and sorrow and
anxiety perhaps told even on a constitution so unusually strong as hers.
About the middle of January 1901 it was known that she was seriously
ill; on the 22nd she died. The death of the queen thus occurred
immediately after the close of the century over so long a period of
which her reign had extended.

The queen's own life is dealt with elsewhere (see VICTORIA, QUEEN), but
the Victorian era is deeply marked in English history. During her reign
the people of Great Britain doubled their number; but the accumulated
wealth of the country increased at least threefold, and its trade
sixfold. All classes shared the prevalent prosperity. Notwithstanding
the increase of population, the roll of paupers at the end of the reign,
compared with the same roll at the beginning, stood as 2 stands to 3;
the criminals as 1 to 2. The expansion abroad was still more remarkable.
There were not 200,000 white persons in Australasia when the queen came
to the throne; there were nearly 5,000,000 when she died. The great
Australian colonies were almost created in her reign; two of
them--Victoria and Queensland--owe their name to her; they all received
those autonomous institutions, under which their prosperity has been
built up, during its continuance. Expansion and progress were not
confined to Australasia. The opening months of the queen's reign were
marked by rebellion in Canada. The close of it saw Canada one of the
most loyal portions of the Empire. In Africa, the advance of the red
line which marks the bounds of British dominion was even more rapid;
while in India the Punjab, Sind, Oudh and Burma were some of the
acquisitions added to the British empire while the queen was on the
throne. When she died one square mile in four of the land in the world
was under the British flag, and at least one person out of every five
persons alive was a subject of the queen.

Material progress was largely facilitated by industry and invention. The
first railways had been made, the first steamship had been built, before
the queen came to the throne. But, so far as railways are concerned,
none of the great trunk lines had been constructed in 1837; the whole
capital authorized to be spent on railway construction did not exceed
£55,000,000; and, five years after the reign had begun, there were only
18,000,000 passengers. The paid-up capital of British railways in 1901
exceeded £1,100,000,000; the passengers, not including season
ticket-holders, also numbered 1,100,000,000; and the sum annually spent
in working the lines considerably exceeded the whole capital authorized
to be spent on their construction in 1837. The progress of the
commercial marine was still more noteworthy. In 1837 the entire
commercial navy comprised 2,800,000 tons, of which less than 100,000
tons were moved by steam. At the end of the reign the tonnage of British
merchant vessels had reached 13,700,000 tons, of which more than
11,000,000 tons were moved by steam. At the beginning of the reign it
was supposed to be impossible to build a steamer which could either
cross the Atlantic, or face the monsoon in the Red Sea. The development
of steam navigation since then had made Australia much more accessible
than America was in 1837, and had brought New York, for all practical
purposes, nearer to London than Aberdeen was at the commencement of the
reign. Electricity had even a greater effect on communication than steam
on locomotion; and electricity, as a practical invention, had its origin
in the reign. The first experimental telegraph line was only erected in
the year in which Queen Victoria came to the throne. Submarine
telegraphy, which had done so much to knit the empire together, was not
perfected for many years afterwards; and long ocean cables were almost
entirely constructed in the last half of the reign.     (S. W.)

  Reign of Edward VII.

On the death of Queen Victoria, the prince of Wales succeeded to the
throne, with the title of Edward VII. (q.v.). The coronation fixed for
June in the following year was at the last moment stopped by the king's
illness with appendicitis, but he recovered marvellously from the
operation and the ceremony took place in August. His excellent health
and activity in succeeding years struck every one with astonishment. The
Boer War had at last been brought to an end in May 1902 (see TRANSVAAL),
and the king had the satisfaction of seeing South Africa settle down and
eventually receive self-government. The political history of his reign,
which ended with his death in May 1910, is dealt with in detail in
separate biographical and other articles in this work (see especially
those on Lord Salisbury, Mr A. J. Balfour, Mr J. Chamberlain, Lord
Rosebery, Sir H. Campbell-Bannerman, Mr H. H. Asquith, Mr D. Lloyd
George, and on the history of the various portions of the British
Empire); and in this place only a summary need be given. The king
himself (see EDWARD VII.), who nobly earned the title of Edward the
Peacemaker, played no small part in the domestic and international
politics of these years; and contemporary publicists, who had become
accustomed to Victorian traditions, gradually realized that, within the
limits of the constitutional monarchy, there was much more scope for the
initiative of a masculine sovereign in public life than had been
supposed by the generation which grew up after the death of his father
in 1862. Edward VII. made the Crown throughout all classes of society a
popular power which it had not been in England for long ages. And while
the growing rivalry between England and Germany, in international
relations, was continually threatening danger, his influence in
cementing British friendship on all other sides was of the most marked
description. His sudden death was felt, not only throughout the empire
but throughout the world, with even more poignant emotion than that of
Queen Victoria herself, for his personality had been much more in the

  The Crisis of 1910.

The end of his reign coincided with a domestic constitutional crisis, to
which party politics had been working up more and more acutely for
several years. The Tariff Reform propaganda of Mr Chamberlain (q.v.) in
1903 convulsed the Conservative party, and the long period of Unionist
domination came to an end in November 1905. Mr Balfour (q.v.), who
became prime minister in 1902 on Lord Salisbury's retirement, resigned,
and was succeeded by Sir H. Campbell-Bannerman (q.v.), as head of the
Liberal party; and the general election of January 1906 resulted in an
overwhelming victory for the Liberals and their allies, the Labour party
(now a powerful force in politics) and the Irish Nationalists. Just
before Sir H. Campbell-Bannerman's death in April 1908 he was succeeded
as prime minister by Mr Asquith, a leader of far higher personal ability
though with less hold on the affections of his party. The Liberals had
long arrears to make up in their political programme, and their
supremacy in the House of Commons was an encouragement to assert their
views in legislation. In several directions, and notably in
administration, they carried their policy into effect; but the House of
Lords (see PARLIAMENT) was an obvious stumbling-block to some of their
more important Bills, and the Unionist control of that House speedily
made itself felt, first in wrecking the Education Bill of 1906, then in
throwing out the Licensing Bill of 1908, and finally (see LLOYD GEORGE,
D.) in forcing a dissolution by the rejection of the budget of 1909,
with its novel proposals for the increased taxation of land and licensed
houses. The Unionist party in the country had, meanwhile, been
recovering from the Tariff Reform divisions of 1903, and was once more
solid under Mr Balfour in favour of its new and imperial policy; but the
campaign against the House of Lords started by Mr Lloyd George and the
Liberal leaders, who put in the forefront the necessity of obtaining
statutory guarantees for the passing into law of measures deliberately
adopted by the elected Chamber, resulted in the return of Mr Asquith's
government to office at the election of January 1910. The Unionists came
back equal in numbers to the Liberals, but the latter could also count
on the Labour party and the Irish Nationalists; and the battle was fully
arrayed for a frontal attack on the powers of the Second Chamber when
the king's death in May upset all calculations. This unthought-of
complication seemed to act like the letting of blood in an apoplectic

  Accession of George V.

The prince of Wales became king as George V. (q.v.), and a temporary
truce was called; and the reign began with a serious attempt between the
leaders of the two great parties, by private conference, to see whether
compromise was not possible (see PARLIAMENT). Apart from the
parliamentary crisis, really hingeing on the difficulty of discovering a
means by which the real will of the people should be carried out without
actually making the House of Commons autocratically omnipotent, but also
without allowing the House of Lords to obstruct a Liberal government
merely as the organ of the Tory party, the new king succeeded to a noble
heritage. The monarchy itself was popular, the country was prosperous
and in good relations with the world, except for the increasing naval
rivalry with Germany, and the consciousness of imperial solidarity had
made extraordinary progress among all the dominions. However the
domestic problems in the United Kingdom might be solved, the future of
the greatness of the English throne lay with its headship of an empire,
loyal to the core, over which the sun never sets.     (H. Ch.)


The attempt here made to combine a bibliography of English history with
some account of the progress of English historical writing is beset with
some difficulty. The evidential value of what a writer says is quite
distinct from the literary art with which he says it; the real sources
of history are not the works of historians, but records and documents
written with no desire to further any literary purpose. Domesday Book is
unique as a source of medieval history, but it does not count in the
development of English historical writing. That is quite a secondary
consideration; for there was much English history before any Englishman
could write; and even after he could write, his compositions constitute
a minor part of the evidence.

Our earliest information about the land and its people is derived from
geological, ethnological and archaeological studies, from the remains in
British barrows and caves, Roman roads, walls and villas, coins,
place-names and inscriptions. The writings of Caesar and Tacitus, and a
few scattered notices in other Roman authors, supplement this evidence.
But the scientific accuracy of Tacitus' _Germania_ is not beyond
dispute, and that light fails centuries before the Anglo-Saxon conquest
of Great Britain. The history of that conquest itself is mainly
inferential; there is the _flebilis narratio_ of Gildas, vague and
rhetorical, moral rather than historical in motive, and written more
than a century after the conquest had begun, and the narrative of the
Welsh Nennius, who wrote two and a half centuries after Gildas, and
makes no critical distinction between the deeds of dragons and those of
Anglo-Saxons. The Anglo-Saxons themselves could not write until
Christian missionaries had reintroduced the art at the end of the 6th
century, and history was not by any means the first purpose to which
they applied it. It was first used to compile written statements of
customs and dooms which were their nearest approach to law, and these
codes and charters are the earliest written materials for Anglo-Saxon
history. The remarkable outburst of literary culture in Northumbria
during the 7th and 8th centuries produced a real historian in Bede;
Bede, however, knows little or nothing of English history between 450
and 596, and he is valuable only for the 7th and early part of the 8th
centuries. Almost contemporary is the _Vita Wilfridi_ by Eddius, but
more valuable are the letters we possess of Boniface and Alcuin. The
famous Anglo-Saxon Chronicle was probably started under the influence of
Alfred the Great towards the end of the 9th century. Its chronology is
often one, two or three years wrong even when it seems to be a
contemporary authority, and the value of its evidence on the conquest
and the first two centuries after it is very uncertain. But from
Ecgbert's reign onwards it supplies a good deal of apparently
trustworthy information. For Alfred himself we have also Asser's
biography and the _Annals of St Neots_, a very imaginative compilation,
while most of the stories which have made Alfred's name a household word
are fabulous. Even the Chronicle becomes meagre a few years after
Alfred's death, and its value depends largely upon the ballads which it
incorporates; nor is it materially supplemented by the lives of St
Dunstan, for hagiologists have never treated historical accuracy as a
matter of moment; and our knowledge of the last century of Anglo-Saxon
history is derived mainly from Anglo-Norman writers who wrote after the
Norman Conquest. Some collateral light on the Danish conquest of England
is thrown by the _Heimskringla_ and other materials collected in
Vigfusson and Powell's _Corpus Poeticum Boreale_, and for the reign of
Canute and his sons there is the contemporary _Encomium Emmae_, which is
a dishonest panegyric on the widow of Æthelred and Canute. For Edward
the Confessor there is an almost equally biased biography.

For the Norman Conquest itself strictly contemporary evidence is
extremely scanty, and historians have exhausted their own and their
readers' patience in disputing the precise significance of some phrases
about the battle of Hastings used by Wace, a Norman poet who wrote
nearly a century after the battle. One version of the Anglo-Saxon
Chronicle goes down to 1079 and another to 1154, but their notices of
current events are brief and meagre. The Bayeux tapestry affords,
however, valuable contemporary evidence, and there are some facts
related by eye-witnesses in the works of William of Poitiers and William
of Jumièges. A generation of copious chroniclers was, moreover,
springing up, and among them were Florence of Worcester, Henry of
Huntingdon, Simeon of Durham and William of Malmesbury. Their ambition
was almost invariably to write the history of the world, and they
generally begin with the Creation. They only become original and
contemporary authorities towards the end of their appointed tasks, and
the bulk of their work is borrowed from their predecessors. Frequently
they embody materials which would otherwise have perished, but their
transcription is marred by an amount of conscious or unconscious
falsification which seriously impairs their value. All the
above-mentioned writers lived in the half-century immediately following
the Norman Conquest, but their critical acumen and their literary art
vary considerably. William of Malmesbury, Eadmer and Ordericus Vitalis
attain a higher historical standard than had yet been reached in England
by any one, with the possible exception of Bede. They are not mere
annalists; they practise an art and cultivate a style; history has
become to them a form of literature. They have also their philosophy and
interpretation of history. It is mainly a theological conception, blind
to economic influences, and attaching excessive importance to the
effects of the individual action of emperors and popes, kings and
cardinals. Even their characters are painted in different colours
according to their action on quite irrelevant questions, as, for
instance, their benefactions to the monastery, to which the historian
happens to belong, or to rival houses; and the character once determined
by such considerations, history is made to point the moral of their
fortunes, or their fate. It is regarded as the record of moral judgments
and the proof of orthodox doctrine, and it is long before ecclesiastical
historians expel the sermon from their text.

The line of monastic historians stretches out to the close of the middle
ages. Most of the great monasteries had their official annalists, who
produced such works as the Annals of Tewkesbury, Gloucester, Burton,
Waverley, Dunstable, Bermondsey, Oseney, Winchester (see _Annales
Monastici_, 5 vols., ed. Luard, and other volumes in the Rolls series).
Some of them are mainly local chronicles; others are almost national
histories. In particular, St Albans developed a remarkable school of
historians extending over nearly three centuries to the death of
Whethamstede in 1465 (see _Chronica Monasterii S. Albani_, Rolls series,
7 vols., ed. Riley). Only a few of the 235 volumes published under the
direction of the master of the Rolls, and called the Rolls series, can
here be mentioned. Other medieval writers have been edited for the
earlier English Historical Society; some of them have been re-edited
without being superseded in the Rolls series. For the reign of Stephen
we have the anonymous _Gesta Stephani_ in addition to the writers
already mentioned, several of whom continue into Stephen's reign. For
Henry II. we have William of Newburgh, who reaches the highest point
attained by historical composition in the 12th century; the so-called
Benedict of Peterborough's _Gesta Henrici_, which Stubbs tentatively and
without sufficient authority ascribed to Richard Fitznigel; Robert of
Torigni; and seven volumes of "Materials for the History of Thomas
Becket," which contain some of the best and worst samples of
hagiological history. For Richard and John the chronicles of Roger of
Hoveden, Ralph de Diceto (Diss), Gervase of Canterbury, Ralph of
Coggeshall, and a later continuation of Hoveden, known under the name of
Walter of Coventry, are the best narrative authorities.

With the accession of Henry III., Roger of Wendover, the first of the St
Albans school whose writings are extant, becomes our chief authority. He
was re-edited and continued after 1236 by Matthew Paris, the greatest of
medieval historians. His work, which goes down to 1259, is picturesque,
vivid, and marked by considerable breadth of view and independence of
judgment. The story is carried on by a series of jejune compilations
known as the _Flores historiarum_ (ed. Luard). Better authorities for
Edward I. are Rishanger, Trokelowe and Blaneforde, Wykes, Walter of
Hemingburgh, Nicholas Trevet, Oxnead and Bartholomew Cotton, and others
contained in Stubbs's _Chronicles of Edward I. and Edward II._ In the
14th century there is a significant deterioration in the monastic
chroniclers, and their place is taken by the works of secular clergy
like Adam Murimuth, Geoffrey the Baker, Robert of Avesbury, Henry
Knighton and the anonymous author of the _Eulogium historiarum_.
Monastic history is represented by Higden's voluminous _Polychronicon_,
which succeeds the _Flores historiarum_. A brief revival of the St
Albans school towards the end of the century is seen in the _Chronicon
Angliae_ and the works of T. Walsingham, which continue into the reign
of Henry V. For Richard II. we have also Malverne and the Monk of
Evesham; for the early Lancastrians, Capgrave, Elmham, Otterbourne, Adam
of Usk; and for Henry VI., Amundesham, Whethamstede, William of
Worcester and John Hardyng, as well as a number of anonymous briefer
chronicles, edited, though not in the Rolls series, by J. Gairdner, C.
L. Kingsford, N. H. Nicolas and J. S. Davies.

These are the principal English historical writers for the middle ages;
but as the connexion between England and the continent grew closer, and
international relations developed, an increasing amount of light is
thrown on English history by foreign writers. Of these authorities one
of the earliest is the _Histoire des ducs de Normandie et des rois
d'Angleterre_ (ed. Michel); briefer are the _Chronique de l'Anonyme de
Béthune_ and the _Histoire de Guillaume le Maréchal_. A large number of
French and Flemish chronicles illustrate the history of the H