By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: A History of England - Eleventh Edition
Author: Oman, Charles William Chadwick
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 "A History of England - Eleventh Edition" ***

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

      file which includes the original maps.
Transcriber's note:

      Text enclosed by underscores is in italics (_italics_).

      Text enclosed by equal signs is in bold face (=bold=).

      Superscripted text is enclosed by curly brackets
      (example: 8{TH}).

      An asterism appears on page 8 of the advertisements. It is
      shown as [***].                                                  |




Fellow of All Souls' College,
and Deputy-Professor of Modern History in the University of Oxford;

Author of
"Warwick the Kingmaker;" "England in the Nineteenth Century;"
"A History of Greece;" "The Art of War in the Middle Ages;"
"The History of the Peninsular War," etc.

Eleventh Edition.

Edward Arnold.

Printed by
William Clowes and Sons, Limited,
London and Beccles.


When adding one more to the numerous histories of England which have
appeared of late years, the author feels that he must justify his
conduct. Ten years of teaching in the Honour School of Modern History
in the University of Oxford have convinced him that there may still be
room for a single-volume history of moderate compass, which neither
cramps the earlier annals of our island into a few pages, nor expands
the last two centuries into unmanageable bulk. He trusts that his
book may be useful to the higher forms of schools, and for the pass
examinations of the Universities. The kindly reception which his
_History of Greece_ has met both here and in America, leads him to hope
that a volume constructed on the same scale and the same lines may be
not less fortunate.

He has to explain one or two points which may lead to criticism. In
Old-English names he has followed the correct and original forms,
save in some few cases, such as Edward and Alfred, where a close
adherence to correctness might savour of pedantry. He wishes the maps
to be taken, not as superseding the use of an atlas, but as giving
boundaries, local details, and sites in which many atlases will be
found wanting.

Finally, he has to give his best thanks to friends who were good
enough to correct certain sections of the book--especially to Sir
William Anson, Warden of All Souls' College, Mr. C. H. Turner of
Magdalen College, and Mr. F. Haverfield of Christ Church. But most of
all does he owe gratitude to the indefatigable compiler of the Index,
whose hands made a burden into a pleasure.

  _January 25, 1895_.


The fact that this book has passed through nine editions in seven years
seems to show that it was not altogether written in vain, and has
answered the purpose for which it was written.

The first edition carried the history of Great Britain to the year
1885. I have now prolonged it to the year 1902. The termination
of the long reign of Queen Victoria, the end of the century, and
the long-delayed pacification of South Africa, appeared to provide
landmarks to which the narrative ought to be extended.

I have to thank many kind correspondents for corrections and
suggestions made during the last seven years. They will note that their
hints have not been neglected. A special word of thanks is due to the
Rev. A. Beaven of Leamington, for a very copious and useful list of
_corrigenda_, of which I have made full use.

  _September 15, 1902_.


  CHAPTER                                                     PAGE

  I.       CELTIC AND ROMAN BRITAIN                              1

  II.      THE COMING OF THE ENGLISH                            14

             WESSEX. 597-836                                    23

             OF WESSEX, 836-975                                 33


  VI.      THE NORMAN CONQUEST, 1066-1087                       67

  VII.     WILLIAM THE RED--HENRY I.--STEPHEN. 1087-1154        81

  VIII.    HENRY II. 1154-1189                                  97

  IX.      RICHARD I. AND JOHN. 1189-1216                      114

  X.       HENRY III. 1216-1272                                134

  XI.      EDWARD I. 1272-1307                                 148

  XII.     EDWARD II. 1307-1327                                171

  XIII.    EDWARD III. 1327-1377                               180

  XIV.     RICHARD II. 1377-1399                               202

  XV.      HENRY IV. 1399-1413                                 213

  XVI.     HENRY V. 1413-1422                                  220

  XVII.    THE LOSS OF FRANCE. 1422-1453                       231

  XVIII.   THE WARS OF THE ROSES. 1454-1471                    245

  XIX.     THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF YORK. 1471-1485            260

  XX.      HENRY VII. 1485-1509                                272

  XXI.     HENRY VIII., AND THE BREACH WITH ROME. 1509-1536    282

  XXII.    THE ENGLISH REFORMATION. 1536-1553                  296

  XXIII.   THE CATHOLIC REACTION. 1553-1558                    314

  XXIV.    ELIZABETH. 1558-1603                                322

  XXV.     JAMES I. 1603-1625                                  350

             OF THE CIVIL WAR. 1625-1642                       362

  XXVII.   THE GREAT CIVIL WAR. 1642-1651                      380

  XXVIII.  CROMWELL. 1651-1660                                 406

  XXIX.    CHARLES II. 1660-1685                               420

  XXX.     JAMES II. 1685-1688                                 436

  XXXI.    ENGLAND AFTER THE REVOLUTION. 1688-1702             445

  XXXII.   ANNE. 1702-1714                                     461

  XXXIII.  THE RULE OF THE WHIGS. 1714-1739                    482

             OF BRITAIN. 1739-1760                             498

             WAR. 1760-1783                                     532

             ENGLISH PROSPERITY. 1782-1793                      554


  XXXVIII. ENGLAND AND BONAPARTE. 1802-1815                     598

  XXXIX.   REACTION AND REFORM. 1815-1832                       633

  XL.      CHARTISM AND THE CORN LAWS. 1832-1852                652

  XLI.     THE DAYS OF PALMERSTON. 1852-1865                    673

  XLII.    DEMOCRACY AND IMPERIALISM. 1865-1885                 700

             SOUTH AFRICAN WAR. 1899-1902                       718

  XLIV.    INDIA AND THE COLONIES. 1815-1902                    734

  INDEX                                                         757




  ROMAN BRITAIN                                                  10

  ENGLAND IN THE YEAR 570                                        18

  ENGLAND IN THE EIGHTH CENTURY                                  30

  ENGLAND IN THE YEAR 900                                        41

  FRANCE IN THE REIGN OF HENRY II.                               98

  THE BATTLE OF LEWES                                           142

  THE BATTLE OF EVESHAM                                         145

  WALES IN 1282                                                 154

  THE BATTLE OF BANNOCKBURN                                     174

  THE BATTLE OF CRÉCY                                           188

  THE BATTLE OF POICTIERS                                       191

  FRANCE AFTER THE TREATY OF BRETIGNY                           194

  THE BATTLE OF AGINCOURT                                       223

  THE BATTLE OF EDGEHILL                                        384

  ENGLAND AT THE END OF 1643                                    388

  THE BATTLE OF MARSTON MOOR                                    390

  THE BATTLE OF NASEBY                                          394

  THE SPANISH NETHERLANDS, 1702                                 466

  THE BATTLE OF BLENHEIM                                        467

  SCOTLAND IN THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY                            506

  ENGLAND AND FRANCE IN AMERICA, 1756                           521

  THE BATTLE OF QUEBEC                                          527

  INDIA IN THE TIME OF WARREN HASTINGS                          570

  SPAIN AND PORTUGAL, 1803-1814                                 616

  EUROPE IN 1811-1812                                           620

  THE BATTLE OF WATERLOO                                        629

  SEBASTOPOL, 1854                                              686

  THEATRE OF THE SOUTH AFRICAN WAR OF 1899-1902                 730

  INDIA, 1815-1890                                              736



  THE HOUSE OF ECGBERT                                           66

  THE HOUSE OF WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR                             80

  THE SCOTTISH SUCCESSION, 1292                                 160

  THE FRENCH SUCCESSION, 1337                                   184

  THE DESCENDANTS OF EDWARD III.                                201

  THE KIN OF CHARLES V.                                         286

  THE SPANISH SUCCESSION, 1699                                  457

  The HOUSE OF STUART                                           481

  The HOUSE OF HANOVER                                          497




In the dim dawn of history our island was a land of wood and marsh,
broken here and there by patches of open ground, and pierced by
occasional track-ways, which threaded the forest and circled round
the edges of the impassable fen. The inhabited districts of the
country were not the fertile river-bottoms where population grew
thick in after-days; these were in primitive times nothing but sedgy
water-meadows or matted thickets. Men dwelt rather on the thinly
wooded upland, where, if the soil was poor, it was at any rate free
from the tangled undergrowth that covered the valleys. It was on the
chalk ridges of Kent or Wilts, or the moorland hills of Yorkshire or
Cornwall, rather than on the brink of the Thames or Severn, that the
British tribes clustered thick. Down by the rivers there were but small
settlements of hunters and fishers perched on some knoll that rose
above the brake and the rushes.

The earliest explorers from the south, who described the inhabitants of
Britain, seem to have noticed little difference between one wild tribe
and another. But as a matter of fact the islanders were divided into
two or perhaps three distinct races, who had passed westward into our
island at very different dates. First had come a short dark people, who
knew not the use of metals, and wielded weapons of flint and bone. They
were in the lowest grade of savagery, had not even learnt to till the
soil, and lived by fishing and hunting. They dwelt in rude huts, or
even in the caves from which they had driven out the bear and the wolf.

[Sidenote: =The Celts, Gael, and Britons.=]

Long after these primitive settlers, the first wave of the Celts,
seven or eight centuries before Christ, came flooding all over Western
Europe, and drove the earlier races into nooks and corners of the
earth. They crossed over into Britain after overrunning the lands
on the other side of the Channel, and gradually conquered the whole
island, as well as its neighbour, Erin. The Celts came in two waves;
the first, composed of the people who were called Gael, seem to have
appeared many generations before the second, who bore the name of

The Gael are the ancestors of the people of Ireland and the Scotch
Highlands, while the Britons occupied the greater part of England and
Wales, and are the progenitors of the Welsh of to-day. The old savage
race who held the islands before the Celts appeared, were partly
exterminated and partly absorbed by the new-comers. The Celts on the
eastern side of the island remained unmixed with their predecessors;
but into the mountainous districts of the west they penetrated in less
numbers, and there the ancient inhabitants were not slain off, but
became the serfs of their conquerors. Thus the eastern shore of Britain
became a purely Celtic land; but in the districts along the shore of
the Irish Sea, where the Gael bore rule, the blood of the earlier
race remained, and the population was largely non-Celtic. There are
to this day regions where the survival of the ancient inhabitants can
be traced by the preponderance of short stature and dark hair among
the inhabitants. Many such are to be found both in South Wales and in
the Highlands of Scotland. The Gael, therefore, were of much less pure
blood than the later-coming Britons.

The Britons and their Gaelic kinsmen, though far above the degraded
tribes whom they had supplanted, still showed many signs of savagery.
They practised horrid rites of human sacrifice, in which they burnt
captives alive to their gods, cramming them into huge images of
wicker-work. But the barbarous practice which most astonished the
ancient world was their custom of marking themselves with bright blue
patterns painted with the dye of woad, and this led the Romans to give
the northern tribes, who retained the custom longest, the name of the
_Picti_, or "painted men."

[Illustration: GAEL AND BRITON.]

The Celts were a tall, robust, fair-haired race, who had reached a
certain stage of civilization. They tilled the fields and sailed the
seas, but their chief wealth consisted in great herds of cattle, which
they pastured in the forest-clearings which then constituted inhabited
Britain. They wore armour of bronze, and used brazen weapons, to which
in a later time they added iron weapons also. They delighted to adorn
their persons with "torques" or necklaces of twisted gold. Their chiefs
went out to war in chariots drawn by small shaggy horses, but alighted,
like the ancient Greeks of the Heroic Age, when the hand-to-hand
fighting began.

Like all Celtic tribes in all ages, the Britons and the Gael showed
small capacity for union. They dwelt apart in many separate tribes,
though sometimes a great and warlike chief would compel one or two
of his neighbours to do him homage. But such kingdoms usually fell
to pieces at the death of the warrior who had built them up. After
the kings and chiefs, the most important class among the Celts was
that of the Druids, a caste of priests and soothsayers, who possessed
great influence over the people. They it was who kept up the barbarous
sacrifices which we have already mentioned. Although tribal wars were
incessant, yet the Britons had learnt some of the arts of peace, and
traded with each other and with the Celts across the Channel. For
the tin of Cornwall it would seem that they made barter with the
adventurous traders who pushed their way across Gaul from the distant
Mediterranean to buy that metal, which was very rare in the ancient
world. The Britons used money of gold and of tin, on which they stamped
a barbarous copy of the devices on the coins of Philip, the great King
of Macedonia, whose gold pieces found their way in the course of trade
even to the shores of the Channel. The fact that they had discovered
the advantages of a coinage proves sufficiently that they were no
longer mere savages.

[Sidenote: =Invasion of Julius Cæsar.=]

We have no materials for constructing a history of the ancient Celtic
inhabitants of Britain till the middle of the first century before
Christ, when the great Roman conqueror, Julius Cæsar, who had just
subdued northern Gaul, determined to cross the straits and invade
Britain. He wished to strike terror into its inhabitants, for the
tribes south of the Thames were closely connected with their kinsmen
on the other side of the Channel, and he suspected them of stirring up
trouble among the Gauls. Cæsar took over two legions and disembarked
near Romney (B.C. 55). The natives thronged down to the shore to oppose
him, but his veterans plunged into the shallows, fought their way to
land, and beat the Britons back into the interior. He found, however,
that the land would not be an easy conquest, for all the tribes of the
south turned out in arms against him. Therefore he took his legions
back to Gaul as the autumn drew on, vowing to return in the next year.

In B.C. 54 he brought over an army twice as large as his first
expedition, and boldly pushed into the interior. Cassivelaunus, the
greatest chief of eastern Britain, roused a confederacy of tribes
against him; but Cæsar forced the passage of the Thames, and burnt
the great stockaded village in the woods beyond that river, where his
enemy dwelt. Many of the neighbouring princes then did him homage; but
troubles in Gaul called him home again, and he left the island, taking
with him naught save a few hostages and a vague promise of tribute and
submission from the kings of Kent.

[Sidenote: =Commerce with Europe.=]

Nearly a hundred years passed before Britain was to see another Roman
army. The successors of Julius Cæsar left the island to itself, and
it was only by peaceful commerce with the provinces of Gaul that the
Britons learnt to know of the great empire that had come to be their
neighbour. But there grew up a considerable intercourse between Britain
and the continent: the Roman traders came over to sell the luxuries of
the South to the islanders, and British kings more than once visited
Rome to implore the aid of the emperor against their domestic enemies.

[Sidenote: =Invasion of Claudius, A.D. 43.=]

But such aid was not granted, and the island, though perceptibly
influenced by Roman civilization, was for long years not touched by the
Roman sword. At last, in A.D. 43, Claudius Cæsar resolved to subdue the
Britons. The island was in its usual state of disorder, after the death
of a great king named Cunobelinus--Shakespeare's "Cymbeline"--who had
held down south-eastern Britain in comparative quiet and prosperity
for many years. Some of the chiefs who fared ill in the civil wars
asked Claudius to restore them, and he resolved to make their petition
an excuse for conquering the island. Accordingly his general, Aulus
Plautius, crossed the Channel, and overran Kent and the neighbouring
districts in a few weeks. So easy was the conquest that the unwarlike
emperor himself ventured over to Britain, and saw his armies cross the
Thames, and occupy Camulodunum (Colchester), which had been the capital
of King Cymbeline, and now was made a Roman colony, and re-named after
Claudius himself.

[Sidenote: =South-eastern Britain subdued.=]

The emperor returned to Rome after sixteen days spent in the island,
there to build himself a memorial arch, and to celebrate a triumph in
full form for the conquest of Britain. Aulus Plautius remained behind
with four legions, and completed the subjection of the lands which
lie between the Wash and Southampton Water, and thus formed the first
Roman province in the island. There does not seem to have been very
much serious fighting required to reduce the tribes of south-eastern
Britain; the conquerors consented to accept as their vassals those
chiefs who chose to do homage, and only used their arms against such
tribes as refused to acknowledge the emperor's suzerainty.

[Sidenote: =Rebellion of Boadicea.=]

Under successive governors the size of the province of Britain
continued to grow, till in the reign of Nero it had advanced up to
the line of the Severn and Humber, and included all the central and
southern counties of modern England. But the wild tribes of the Welsh
mountains and the Yorkshire moors opposed a determined resistance to
the conquerors, and did not yield till a much later date. While the
governor Suetonius Paulinus was engaged in a campaign on the Menai
Straits, against the tribe of the Ordovices, there burst out behind
him the celebrated rebellion of Queen Boudicca (Boadicea). This rising
began among the Iceni, the tribe who dwelt in what is now Norfolk and
Suffolk. They had long been governed by a vassal king; but when he
died sonless, the Romans annexed his dominions and cruelly ill-treated
his widow Boudicca and her daughters. Bleeding from the Roman rods,
the indignant queen called her tribesmen to arms, and massacred all
the Romans within her reach. All the tribes of eastern Britain rose to
aid her, and the rebels cut to pieces the Ninth Legion, and sacked the
three towns of Londinium, Verulamium, and Camulodunum,[1] slaying, it
is said, as many as 70,000 persons in their wild cruelty. But presently
the governor Paulinus returned from his campaign in Wales at the head
of his army, and in a great battle defeated and destroyed the British
hordes. Boudicca, who had led them to the field in person, slew herself
when she saw the battle lost (A.D. 61).

[Sidenote: =Agricola Governor of Britain, A.D. 78-85.=]

Southern Britain never rose again, but the Romans had great trouble
in conquering the Silurians and Ordovices of Wales, and the Brigantes
beyond the Humber. They were finally subdued by the great general
Agricola, who governed the British province from 78 to 85. This good
man was the father-in-law of the historian Tacitus, who wrote his
life--a document from which great part of our knowledge of Roman
Britain is derived. After conquering North-Wales and Yorkshire,
Agricola marched northward against the Gaelic tribes of Scotland. He
overran the Lowlands, and then pushed forward into the hills of the
Highlands. At a spot called the Graupian Mountain (_Mons Graupius_)
somewhere in Perthshire, he defeated the Caledonians, the fierce race
who dwelt beyond the Forth and Clyde, with great slaughter. It was
his purpose to conquer the whole island to its northernmost cape, and
even to subdue the neighbouring Gaels of Ireland. But ere his task was
complete the cruel and suspicious emperor Domitian called him home,
because he envied and feared his military talents.

The province of Britain remained very much as Agricola had left it,
stopping short at the Forth, and leaving the Scottish Highlands outside
the Roman pale. It was held down by three Roman legions, each of
whom watched one of the three most unruly of the British tribes; one
at Eboracum (York) curbed the Brigantes; a second at Deva (Chester)
observed the Ordovices; and a third at Isca (Caerleon-on-Usk) was
responsible for the good behaviour of the Silurians.

Agricola did much to make the Roman rule more palatable to the Britons
by his wise ordinances for the government of the province. He tried to
persuade the Celtic chiefs to learn Latin, and to take to civilized
ways of life, as their kinsmen in Gaul had done. He kept the land so
safe and well guarded that thousands of settlers from the continent
came to dwell in its towns. His efforts won much success, and for the
future, southern Britain was a very quiet province.

[Sidenote: =The Wall of Hadrian.=]

But the Caledonians to the north retained their independence, and
often raided into the Lowlands, while the Brigantes of Yorkshire still
kept rising in rebellion, and once in the reign of Hadrian massacred
the whole legion that garrisoned York. It was perhaps this disaster
that drew Hadrian himself to Britain in the course of his never-ending
travels. The emperor journeyed across the isle, and resolved to fix
the Roman boundary on a line traced across the Northumbrian moors
from Carlisle to Newcastle. There was erected the celebrated "Wall
of Hadrian," a solid stone wall drawn in front of the boundary-ditch
that marked the old frontier, and furnished with forts at convenient
intervals. This enormous work, eighty miles long, reached from sea
to sea, and was garrisoned by a number of "auxiliary cohorts,"
or regiments drawn from the subject tribes of the empire--Moors,
Spaniards, Thracians, and many more--for the Romans did not trust
British troops to hold the frontier against their own untamed kinsmen.
The legion at York remained behind to support the garrison of the wall
in case of necessity.

[Sidenote: =The Wall of Antoninus.=]

A few years later the continued trouble which the northern parts
of Britain suffered from the raids of the Caledonians, caused the
governors of the province to build another wall in advance of that
of Hadrian. This outer line of defence, a less solid work than that
which ran from Newcastle to Carlisle, was composed of a trench, and an
earthern wall of sods, drawn from the mouth of the Forth to the mouth
of the Clyde, at the narrowest part of the island. It is generally
called the Wall of Antoninus, from the name of the emperor who was
reigning when it was erected.

[Sidenote: =Campaign of Severus in Caledonia.=]

Only once more did the Romans make any endeavour to complete the
subjection of Britain by adding the Gaelic tribes of the Scottish
Highlands to the list of their tributaries. In 208-9-10 the warlike
emperor Severus led the legions north of the Wall of Antoninus, and
set to work to tame the Caledonians by felling their forests, building
roads across their hills, and erecting forts among them. He overran
the land beyond the Firth of Forth, and might perchance have ended
by conquering the whole island, but he died of disease at York early
in 211. His successors drew back, abandoned his conquests, and never
attempted again to subjugate the Caledonians.

[Sidenote: =Roman civilization in Britain.=]

Altogether the Romans abode in Britain for three hundred and sixty
years (A.D. 43 to A.D. 410). Their occupation of the land was mainly
a military one, and they never succeeded in teaching the mass of the
natives to abandon their Celtic tongue, or to take up Roman customs and
habits. The towns indeed were Romanized, and great military centres
like Eboracum and Deva, or commercial centres like London, were filled
with a Latin-speaking population, and boasted of fine temples, baths,
and public buildings. But the villagers of the open country, and the
Celtic landholders who dwelt among them, were very little influenced
by the civilization of the town-dwellers, and lived on by themselves
much in the way of their ancestors, worshipping the same Celtic gods,
using the same rude tools and vessels, and dwelling in the same low
clay huts, though the townsmen were accustomed to build stone houses
after the Roman fashion, to employ all manner of foreign luxuries, and
to translate into Minerva, or Apollo, or Mars, the names of their old
Celtic deities Sul, or Mabon, or Belucatadrus.

[Illustration: ROMAN BRITAIN



The Romans greatly changed the face of Britain by their great
engineering works. They drew broad roads from place to place, seldom
turning aside to avoid forest or river. Their solidly-built causeways
were carried across the marshy tracts, and pierced through the midst
of the densest woods. Where the road went, clearings on each side were
made, and population sprang up in what had hitherto been trackless
wilderness. The Romans explored the remotest corners of Wales and
Cornwall in their search after mineral wealth; they worked many tin,
lead, and copper mines in the island, and exported the ores to Gaul
and Italy. They developed the fisheries of Britain, especially the
oyster fishery; not only did they prize British pearls, but the oysters
themselves were exported as a special luxury to the distant capital of
the world. They improved the farming of the open country so much that
in years of scarcity the corn of Britain fed northern Gaul. In the
more pleasant corners of the land Roman officials or wealthy merchants
built themselves fine villas, with floors of mosaic, and elaborate
heating-apparatus to guard them against the cold of the northern
winter. Hundreds of such abodes are to be found: they clustered
especially thick along the south coast and in the vale of Gloucester.

Gauls, Italians, Greeks, and Orientals came to share in the trade
of Britain, and at the same time many of its natives must have
crossed to the continent, notably those who were sent to serve in the
auxiliary cohorts of Britons, which formed part of the Roman army,
and were quartered on the Rhine and Danube. But in spite of all this
intercourse, the Celts did not become Romanized like the Gauls or
Spaniards; the survival of their native tongue to this day sufficiently
proves it. In all the other provinces of the West, Latin completely
extinguished the old native languages. In the towns, however, the
Britons often took Roman names, and men of note in the countryside did
the same. Many of the commonest Welsh names of to-day are corrupt forms
of Latin names: Owen, for example, is a degradation from Eugenius, and
Rhys from Ambrosius, though they have lost so entirely the shape of
their ancient originals.

[Sidenote: =Britain harassed by barbarians.=]

Britain shared with the other provinces in the disasters which fell
upon the empire in the third century, in the days of the weak usurpers
who held the imperial throne after the extinction of the family of
Severus. Three races are recorded as having troubled the land: the
first was the ancient enemy, the Caledonians from beyond the wall,
whom now the Chronicles generally style _Picts_, "the painted men,"
because they alone of the inhabitants of Britain still retained the
barbarous habit of tattooing themselves. The second foe was the race
of the Saxons, the German tribes who dwelt by the mouths of the Elbe
and Weser. They were great marauders by sea, and so vexed the east of
Britain by their descents that the emperors created an officer called
"The Count of the Saxon Shore,"[2] whose duty was to guard the coast
from the Wash as far as Beachy Head by a chain of castles on the
water's edge, and a flotilla of war-galleys. The third enemy was the
Scottish race, a tribe who then occupied northern Ireland, and had not
yet moved across to the land which now bears their name. They infested
the shores of the province which lay between the Clyde and the Severn.

[Sidenote: =Carausius.=]

Attacked at once by Pict and Scot and Saxon, the province declined in
prosperity, and gained little help from the continent where emperors
were being made and remade at the rate of about one every three years.
Britain seems to have first recovered herself in the time of Carausius,
a "Count of the Saxon Shore," who proclaimed himself emperor, and
reigned as an independent sovereign on our side of the Channel (287).
His fleet drove off the Saxons, and his armies held back the Pict and
Scot as long as he lived. But after a reign of seven years the rebel
emperor was murdered, and three years later the province was reunited
to the empire.

[Sidenote: =Constantius and Constantine.=]

For the next twenty years Britain was under the rule of the emperors
Constantius and Constantine, both of whom dwelt much in the island, and
paid attention to its needs. Constantius died at York, and his son,
Constantine the Great, the first Christian emperor, went forth from
Britain to conquer all the Roman world. But with the extinction of
this great man's family in 362, evil days began once more. Barbarians
were thronging round every frontier of the empire, greedy for the
plunder of its great cities, while within were weak rulers, vexed
by constant military rebellions. The Pict, the Scot, and the Saxon
returned to Britain in greater force than before, and pushed their
raids into the very heart of the province. Meanwhile, the soldiery who
should have defended the island were constantly being drawn away by
ambitious generals, who wished to use them in attempts to seize Italy,
and win the imperial diadem. The ruin of Britain must be attributed to
this cause more than to any other: twice the whole of its garrison was
taken across the Channel by the rebellious governors, who had staked
their all on the cast for empire. It was after the second of these
rebels had failed, in 410, that the feeble Honorius, the legitimate
emperor of the West, refused to send back any troops to guard the
unprotected island, and bade the dismayed provincials do their best to
defend themselves, because he was unable to give them any assistance.

[Sidenote: =Britain deserted by the Romans.=]

Britain therefore ceased to belong to the Roman empire, not because it
wished to throw off the yoke, but because its masters declared that
they could no longer protect it. Its inhabitants were by no means
anxious to shift for themselves, and more than once they sent pathetic
appeals to Rome to ask for aid against the savage Picts and Saxons.
One of these appeals was written more than thirty years after Honorius
abandoned the province. It was called "The Groans of the Britons," and
ran thus: "The barbarians drive us into the sea, the sea drives us back
on to the barbarians. Our only choice is whether we shall die by the
sword or drown: for we have none to save us" (446).

In spite of these doleful complaints, Britain made a better fight
against her invaders than did any other of the provinces which
the Romans were constrained to abandon in the fifth century. But,
unfortunately for themselves, the Britons were inspired by the usual
Celtic spirit of disunion, and fell asunder into many states the moment
that the hand of the master was removed. Sometimes they combined under
a single leader, when the stress of invasion was unusually severe, but
such leagues were precarious and temporary. The list of their princes
shows that some of them were Romanized Britons, others pure Celts. By
the side of names like Ambrosius, Constantine, Aurelius, Gerontius,
Paternus, we have others like Vortigern, Cunedda, Maelgwn, and Kynan.
Arthur, the legendary chief under whom the Britons are said to have
turned back the Saxon invaders for a time, was--if he ever existed--the
bearer of a Roman name, a corruption of Artorius. But Arthur's name and
exploits are only found in romantic tales; the few historians of the
time have no mention of him.

[Sidenote: =Christianity in Britain.=]

Celtic Britain, when the Romans abandoned it, had become a Christian
country. Of the details of conversion of the land, we have only a few
stories of doubtful authenticity; but we know that British bishops
existed, and attended synods and councils on the continent, and that
there were many churches scattered over the face of the land. The
Britons were even beginning to send missionaries across the sea in
the fifth century. St. Patrick, the apostle of the Irish Gael, was a
native of the northern part of Roman Britain, who had been stolen as
a slave by Scottish pirates, and returned after his release to preach
the gospel to them, somewhere about the year 440. His name (Patricius)
clearly shows that he was a Romanized Briton. A less happy product of
the island was the heretical preacher Pelagius, whose doctrines spread
far over all Western Europe, and roused the anger of the great African
saint, Augustine of Hippo.

Here we must leave Celtic Britain, as the darkness of the fifth century
closes over it. For a hundred and fifty years our knowledge of its
history is most vague and fragmentary, and when next we see the island
clearly, the larger half of it has passed into the hands of a new
people, and is called England, and no longer Britain.


[1] London, St. Albans, Colchester.

[2] Comes Littoris Saxonici.



In the early half of the fifth century it seemed likely that Britain
would become the prey of its old enemies the Picts and Scots, rather
than of the more distant Saxons. But the wild tribes of the North came
to plunder only, while the pirates from the Elbe and Eider had larger

The conquest of Britain by the Angles and Saxons differed in every way
from that of the other Western provinces of the Roman empire by the
kindred tribes of the Goths, the Franks, and the Lombards. The Goths
and the Franks had dwelt for two hundred years on the borders of the
empire; they had traded with its merchants, served as mercenaries in
its armies, and learnt to appreciate its luxuries. Many of them had
accepted Christianity long before their conquest of the provinces which
they turned into Teutonic kingdoms. But the Saxons were plunged in the
blackest heathendom and barbarism, dwelling as they did by the Elbe
and Eider, far at the back of the tribes that had any touch with or
knowledge of the empire and its civilization. The Goth and the Frank
came to enslave, and to enjoy; the Angle and the Saxon were bent purely
on a work of destruction. Hence it came that, instead of contenting
themselves with overthrowing the provincial government, and enthralling
the inhabitants of the land, they swept away everything before them,
and replaced the old civilization of Britain by a perfectly new social
organization of their own.

[Sidenote: =Hengist and Horsa, 449.--Kingdom of Kent.=]

If the Welsh legends speak truly, the first settlement of the Saxons
on British soil was caused by the unwisdom of the native kings. We
are told that Vortigern, the monarch who ruled Kent and south-eastern
Britain, was so harried by the Picts and Scots that he sent in despair
to hire some German chiefs to fight his battles for him. The story
may be true, for in the decaying days of the Roman empire the Cæsars
themselves had often hired one barbarian to fight another, and the
British king may well have followed their example. The legend then
proceeds to tell how Vortigern's invitation was accepted by Hengist and
Horsa, two chiefs of Jutish blood, who came with their war-bands to
the aid of the Britons, and drove away the Picts and Scots. But when
the king of Kent wished to pay them their due and get them out of the
country, Hengist and Horsa refused to depart: they seized and fortified
the Isle of Thanet, which was then separated from the mainland by
a broad marshy channel, and defied the Britons to drive them away
(449). Then began a long war between the two sea-kings and their late
employer, which, after many vicissitudes, ended in the conquest of
the whole of Kent by Hengist. Horsa had been slain in the battle of
Aylesford, which gave the invaders full possession of the land between
the forest of the Weald and the estuary of the Thames. Hengist was
saluted as king by his victorious followers, and was the ancestor of a
long line of Kentish monarchs.

We cannot be sure that the details of the story of the conquest of Kent
are correct, but they are not unlikely, and it is quite probable that
this kingdom was the first state which the Germans built up on British

[Sidenote: =Aella, 477.--Kingdom of the South Saxons.=]

Hengist and Horsa's warriors were not Saxons, but members of the tribe
of the Jutes, who dwelt north of the Saxons in the Danish peninsula,
where a land of moors and lakes still bears the name of Jutland. But
the next band of invaders who seized on part of Britain were of Saxon
blood. An "alderman" or chief called Aella brought his war-band to the
southern shore of Britain in 477, and landed near the great fortress of
Anderida (Pevensey), one of the strongholds that had, in old days, been
under the care of the Roman "count of the Saxon shore." The followers
of Aella sacked this town, and slew off every living thing that was
therein. They went on to conquer the narrow slip of land between the
sea and the forest of the Weald, as far as Chichester and Selsea, and
made the chalky downs their own. Settling down thereon, they called
themselves the South Saxons, and the district got from them the name
of Sussex (Suth Seaxe). There Aella reigned as king, and many of his
obscure descendants after him.

[Sidenote: =Cerdic, 495.--Kingdom of the West Saxons.=]

Twenty years later, another band of Saxon adventurers, led by the
alderman Cerdic, landed on Southampton Water, west of the realm
of Aella (495), and, after a hard fight with the Britons, won the
valleys of the Itchen and the Test with the old Roman town of Venta
(Winchester). Many years after his first landing, Cerdic took the title
of king, like his neighbours of Kent and Sussex, and his realm became
known as the land of the West Saxons (Wessex). Gradually pushing onward
along the ridges of the downs, successive generations of the kings of
Wessex drove the Britons out of Dorsetshire and Wiltshire till the
line of conquest stopped at the forest-belt which lay east of Bath.
Here the advance stood still for a time, for the British kings of the
Damnonians, the tribes of Devon and Cornwall, made a most obstinate
defence. So gallant was it that the Celts of a later generation
believed that the legendary hero of their race, the great King Arthur,
had headed the hosts of Damnonia in person, and placed his city of
Camelot and his grave at Avilion within the compass of the western

[Sidenote: =Kingdom of the East Saxons.=]

While Cerdic was winning the downs of Hampshire for himself, another
band of Saxon warriors had landed on the northern shore of the Thames,
and subdued the low-lying country between the old Roman towns of
Camulodunum and Londinium, from the Colne as far as the Stour. This
troop of adventurers took the name of the East Saxons, and were the
last of their race to gain a footing on the British shores.

[Sidenote: =Kingdom of East Anglia, 520.=]

North of Essex it was no longer the Saxons who took up the task of
conquest, but a kindred tribe, the Angles or English, who dwelt
originally between the Saxons and the Jutes, in the district which is
now called Schleswig. They were closely allied in blood and language
to the earlier invaders of Britain, and very probably their chiefs
may have aided in the earlier raids. About the year 520 the Angles
descended in force on the eastern shore of Britain, and two of their
war-bands established themselves in the land where the Celtic tribe of
the Iceni had dwelt. These two bands called themselves the North Folk
and South Folk, and from them the counties of Norfolk and Suffolk get
their names. The kingdom formed by their union was known as that of the
East Angles.

[Sidenote: =The Northumbrian kingdoms, 547-550.=]

Still further to the north new Anglian bands seized on the lands north
of the Humber, whence they obtained the name of Northumbrians. They
built up two kingdoms in the old region of the Brigantes. One, from
Forth to Tees, was called Bernicia, from Bryneich, the old Celtic name
of the district. It comprised only a strip along the shore, reaching
no further inland than the forest of Selkirk and the head-waters of
the Tyne; its central stronghold was the sea-girt rock of Bamborough.
The second Northumbrian kingdom was called Deira, a name derived, like
that of Bernicia, from the former Celtic appellation of the land. Deira
comprised the North and East Ridings of Yorkshire, and centred round
the old Roman city of Eboracum, whose name the Angles corrupted into
Eofervic. The origin of Bernicia and Deira is ascribed to the years
547-550, so that northern Britain was not subdued by the invaders till
a century after Kent had fallen into their hands.

[Sidenote: =The kingdom of Mercia.=]

Last of the English realms was established the great midland state of
Mercia--the "March" or borderland. It was formed by the combination
of three or four Anglian war-bands, who must have cut their way into
the heart of Britain up the line of the Trent. Among these bodies of
adventurers were the Lindiswaras--the troop who had won the old Roman
city of Lindum, or Lincoln,--the Mid-Angles of Leicester, and the
Mercians strictly so-called, who held the foremost line of advance
against the Celts in the modern counties of Derby and Stafford. The
Britons still maintained themselves at Deva and Uriconium (Chester and
Wroxeter), two ancient Roman strongholds, and the Mercians had not yet
reached the Severn at any point.

[Sidenote: =The Britons in the west.=]

About 570, therefore, after a hundred and twenty years of hard
fighting, the Angles and Saxons had conquered about one-half of
Britain, but they were stopped by a line of hills and forests running
down the centre of the island, and did not yet touch the western sea at
any point. Behind this barrier dwelt the unsubdued Britons, who were
styled by the English the "Welsh," or "foreigners," though they called
themselves the Kymry, or "comrades." They were, now as always, divided
into several kingdoms whose chiefs were perpetually at war, and failed
most lamentably to support each other against the English invader. The
most important of these kingdoms were Cumbria in the north, between the
Clyde and Ribble, Gwynedd in North Wales, and Damnonia in Devon and
Cornwall. Now and again prominent chiefs from one or other of these
three realms succeeded in forcing their neighbours to combine against
the Saxon enemy, and styled themselves lords of all the Britons, but
the title was precarious and illusory. The Celts could never learn
union or wisdom.

[Illustration: LIMIT OF THE



ABOUT A.D. 570.]

[Sidenote: =Battle of Deorham, 577.=]

The line of the British defence was at last broken in two points, and
the Saxons and Angles pushed through till they touched the Irish Sea
and the Bristol Channel. The first of the conquerors of Western Britain
was Ceawlin, king of Wessex. After winning the southern midlands by
a victory at Bedford in 571 he pushed along the upper Thames, and
attacked the Welsh of the lower Severn. At a great battle fought at
Deorham, in Gloucestershire, in 577, he slew the kings of Glevum,
Corinium, and Aquae Sulis (Gloucester, Cirencester, and Bath). All
their realms fell into his hands, and so the West Saxons won their
way to the Severn and the Bristol Channel, and cut off the Celts of
Damnonia from the Celts of South Wales.

[Sidenote: =Battle of Chester, 613.=]

A generation later, in the year 613, Aethelfrith the Northumbrian, king
of Bernicia and Deira, made a similar advance westward. In a great
battle at Deva (Chester) he defeated the allied princes of Cumbria and
North Wales. This fight was long remembered because of the massacre of
a host of monks who had come to supplicate Heaven for the victory of
the Celts over the pagan English. "If they do not fight against us with
their arms, they do so with their prayers," said the Northumbrian king,
and bade his warriors cut them all down. The city of Deva was sacked,
and remained a mere ring of mouldering Roman walls for three centuries.
The district round it became English, and thus the Cumbrians were
separated from the North Welsh by a belt of hostile territory.

The battles of Chester and Deorham settled the future of Britain; the
Celts became comparatively helpless when they had been cut into three
distinct sections, in Cumbria, Wales, and Damnonia. The future of the
island now lay in the hands of the English, not in that of the ancient
inhabitants of Britain.

[Sidenote: =The invaders and the natives.=]

The states which the invaders had built up were, as might have been
inferred from their origin, small military monarchies. The basis of
each had been the war-band that followed some successful "alderman,"
for the invaders were not composed of whole tribes emigrating _en
masse_, but of the more adventurous members of the race only. The bulk
of the Saxons and Jutes remained behind on the continent in their
ancient homes, and so did many of the Angles. When the successful chief
had conquered a district of Britain and assumed the title of king, he
would portion the land out among his followers, reserving a great share
for his own royal demesne. Each of the king's sworn companions, or
_gesiths_ as the old English called them, became the centre of a small
community of dependents--his children, servants, and slaves. At first
the invaders often slew off the whole Celtic population of a valley,
but ere long they found the convenience of reducing them to slavery and
forcing them to till the land for their new masters. In eastern Britain
and during the first days of the conquest the natives were often wholly
extirpated, but in the central and still more in the western part of
the island they were allowed to survive as serfs, and thus there is
much Celtic blood in England down to this day. But this native element
was never strong enough to prevail over and absorb the conquerors, as
happened to the Goths of Spain and the Franks of Gaul, who finally lost
their language and their national identity among the preponderant mass
of their own dependents.

As the conquest of Britain went on, many families who had not been
in the war-band of the original invader came in to join the first
settlers, and to dwell among them, so that the king had many English
subjects besides his original _gesiths_. Some of the villages in his
dominions would therefore be inhabited by the servile dependents of
one of these early-coming military chiefs, others by the free bands
of kinsmen who had drifted in of their own accord to settle in the
land. When we see an English village with a name like Saxmundham, or
Edmonton, or Wolverton, we may guess that the place was originally the
homestead of a lord named Saxmund, or Eadmund, or Wulfhere, and his
dependents. But when it has a name like Buckingham, or Paddington, or
Gillingham, we know that it was the common settlement of a family, the
Buckings or the Paddings or the Gillings, for the termination _-ing_
in old English invariably implied a body of descendants from common

[Sidenote: =Administration--Aldermen and shire-reeves.=]

The early English states were administered under the king by aldermen,
or military chiefs, to each of whom was entrusted the government of
one of the various regions of the kingdom, and by _reeves_, who were
responsible for the royal property and dues, each in his own district.
The larger kingdoms, such as Wessex, were soon cut up into _shires_,
each with its alderman and shire-reeve (sheriff), and many of these
shires exist down to our own day.

[Sidenote: =The king and the witan.=]

The supreme council of the realm was formed by the king, the aldermen,
and a certain number of the greater _gesiths_ who served about the
king's person. The king and great men discussed subjects of national
moment, while the people sat round and shouted assent or dissent
to their speeches. The king did not take any measure of importance
without the advice of his councillors, who were known as the _Witan_,
or Wise-men. When a king died, or ruled tyrannically, or became
incompetent, it was the Witan who chose a new monarch from among the
members of the royal family, for there was as yet no definite rule of
hereditary succession, and the kingship was elective, though the Witan
never went outside the limits of the royal house in their nominations.

[Sidenote: =The shire-moot and tun-moot.=]

The smaller matters of import in an old English kingdom were settled
at the _shire-moot_, or meeting of all the freemen of a shire. There,
once a month, the aldermen and reeve of the district called up the
freeholders who dwelt in it, and by their aid settled disputes and
lawsuits. Each freeman had his vote, so the shire-court was a much more
democratic body than the Witan, where only great lords and officials
could speak and give their suffrages.

Matters too small for the _shire-moot_ were settled by the meeting of
the villagers in their own petty _tun-moot_, which every freeman would
attend. Here would be decided disputes between neighbours, as to their
fields and cattle. Such cases would be numerous because, in the early
settlements of the English, the ploughed fields and the pasture grounds
of the village were both great unenclosed tracts with no permanent
boundaries. Every man owned his house and yard, but the pasture and the
waste land and woods around belonged to the community, and not to the

[Sidenote: =Gradual growth of towns.=]

The early English were essentially dwellers in the open country. They
did not at first know how to deal with the old Roman towns, but simply
plundered and burnt them, and allowed them to crumble away. They
thought the deserted ruins were the homes of ghosts and evil spirits,
and were not easily induced to settle near them. Even great towns like
Canterbury and London and Bath seem to have lain waste for a space,
between their destruction by the first invaders and their being again
peopled. But ere long the advantages of the sites, and the abundance
of building material which the old Roman buildings supplied, tempted
the English back to the earlier centres of population. We can trace the
ancient origin of many of our towns by their names: the English added
the word -chester or -caster to the name of the places which were built
on Roman sites--a word derived, of course, from the Latin _castra_. So
Winchester and Rochester and Dorchester and Lancaster are shown to be
old Roman towns rebuilt, but not founded by the new-comers.

[Sidenote: =Religion.=]

In religion the old English were pure polytheists, worshipping the
ancient gods of their German ancestors, Woden, the wise father of
heaven, and Thunder (Thor), the god of storm and strength, and Balder,
the god of youth and spring, and many more. But they were not an
especially religious people; they had few temples and priests, and did
not allow their superstition to influence their life or their politics
to any great extent. We shall see that in a later age most of them
deserted their pagan worship without much regret and after but a short
struggle. It was more a matter of ancestral custom to them than a very
fervent belief. It is noticeable that very few places in England get
their names from the old gods; but we find a few, such as Wednesbury
(Woden's-burh) or Thundersfield, or Balderston, scattered over the face
of the country.




After the battles of Deorham and Chester had broken the strength of
the Britons, and all central Britain had fallen into English hands,
the victorious invaders did not persevere in completing the conquest
of the island, but turned to contend with each other. For the next two
hundred years the history of England is the history of the conflict of
the three larger kingdoms--Northumbria, Mercia, and Wessex--for the
supremacy and primacy in the island. First one, then the other obtained
a mastery over its rivals, but the authority of an English king who
claimed to be "Bretwalda," or paramount lord of Britain, was as vague
and precarious as that of the Celtic chiefs who in an earlier age had
asserted a similar domination over their tribal neighbours.

Both Ceawlin the victor of Deorham, and Aethelfrith the victor of
Chester, were great conquerors in their own day, and are said to have
claimed an over-lordship over their neighbours. But about the year 595,
when the one was dead and the other had not yet risen, the chief king
of Britain was Aethelbert of Kent, a warlike young monarch who subdued
his neighbours of Sussex and Essex, and aspired to extend his influence
all over the island.

[Sidenote: =Augustine, 597.--Conversion of Kent.=]

To the court of this King Aethelbert there came, in the year 597,
an embassy from beyond the high seas, which was destined to change
the whole course of the history of England. It was led by the monk
Augustine, and was composed of a small band of missionaries from Rome,
who had set out in the hope of converting the English to Christianity.
Twenty years before there had been a pious abbot in Rome named Gregory,
who had earnestly desired to go forth to preach the gospel to the
English. The well-known legend tells how he once saw exposed in the
market for sale some young boys of a fair countenance. "Who are these
children?" he asked of the slave-dealer. "Heathen Angles," was the
reply. "Truly they have the faces of angels," said Gregory. "And whence
have they been brought?" "From the kingdom of Deira," he was told.
"Indeed, they should be brought _de ira Dei_, out from the land of the
wrath of God," was the abbot's punning rejoinder. From that day Gregory
strove to set forth for Britain, but circumstances always stood in his
way. At last he became pope, and when he had gained this position of
authority, he determined that he would send others, if he could not go
himself, to care for the souls of the pagan English.

So in 596 he sent out the zealous monk Augustine, with a company of
priests and others, to seek out the land of England. Augustine landed
in Kent, both because King Aethelbert was the greatest chief in
Britain, and because he had taken as his queen a Christian lady from
Gaul, Bertha, the daughter of Charibert, king of Paris. So Augustine
and his fellows came to Canterbury to the court of the king, and when
Aethelbert saw them he asked his wife what manner of men they might
be. When she had pleaded for them, he looked upon them kindly, and
gave them the ruined Roman church of St. Martin outside the gates
of Canterbury, and told them that they might preach freely to all
his subjects. So Augustine dwelt in Kent, and taught the Kentishmen
the truths of Christianity till many of them accepted the gospel and
were baptized. Ere long King Aethelbert himself was converted, and
when he had declared himself a Christian most of his _gesiths_ and
nobles followed him to the font. Then Augustine was made Archbishop of
Canterbury, and his companion Mellitus Bishop of Rochester, and the
kingdom of Kent became a part of Christendom once more.

Ere very long the kings of the East Saxons and East Angles, who were
vassals to Aethelbert, declared that they also were ready to accept
the gospel. They were baptized with many of their subjects, but
Christianity was not yet very firmly rooted among them. When King
Aethelbert died, and was succeeded by his son, who was a heathen
and an evil liver, a great portion of the men who so easily accepted
Christianity fell back into paganism again. They had conformed to
please the king, not because they had appreciated the truths of the
gospel. East Anglia and Essex relapsed almost wholly from the faith,
and had to be reconverted a generation later; but in Kent Augustine's
work had been more thorough, and after a short struggle the whole
kingdom finally became Christian.

[Sidenote: =Conversion and prosperity of Eadwine of Northumbria.=]

From Kent the true faith was conveyed to the English of the North.
Eadwine, King of Northumbria, married a daughter of Aethelbert
and Bertha. She was a Christian, and brought with her to York a
Roman chaplain named Paulinus, one of the disciples of Augustine.
By the exhortations of this Paulinus, King Eadwine was led toward
Christianity. He was a great warrior, and while he was doubting as to
the faith, it chanced that he had to set forth on an expedition against
his enemy, the King of Wessex. Then he vowed that if the God of the
Christians gave him victory and he should return in peace, he would be
baptized. The campaign was successful, and Eadwine went joyfully to
the baptismal font. It was long remembered how he held council with
his Witan, urging them to leave darkness for light, and doubt for
certainty. Then, because they had found little help in their ancient
gods, and because the heathen faith gave them no good guidance for
this life, and no good hope of a better life to come, the great men of
Northumbria swore that they would follow their king. Coifi, the high
priest, was the first to cast down his own idols and destroy the great
temple of York, and with him the nobles and _gesiths_ of Eadwine went
down to the water and were all baptized (627).

For some time King Eadwine prospered greatly; he became the chief king
of Britain, and made the East Angles and East Saxons his vassals. He
destroyed the Welsh kingdom of Leeds, and added the West Riding of
Yorkshire to the Northumbrian kingdom. He also smote the Picts beyond
the Forth, and built a fleet on the Irish sea with which he reduced the
isles of Man and Anglesea.

[Sidenote: =Defeat and death of Eadwine.--Reaction against

Eadwine's conquests roused all his neighbours against him, and in their
common fear of the Northumbrian sword, English and Welsh princes were
for the first time found joining in alliance. Penda, King of Mercia,
an obstinate heathen and a great foe of the gospel, leagued himself
with Cadwallon, King of Gwynedd, the greatest of the Christian chiefs
of Wales. Together they beset the realm of Eadwine, and the great King
of Northumbria fell in battle with all his host, at Heathfield, near
Doncaster (632).

The Welsh and Mercians overran Northumbria after slaying its king,
and Cadwallon took York and burnt it. The Northumbrians thought that
Eadwine's God had been found wanting in the day of battle, and most of
them relapsed into paganism in their despair. Paulinus, who had become
the first Bishop of York, had to flee away into Kent, the only kingdom
where Christians were safe for the moment.

[Sidenote: =The Irish missionaries.--Columba.=]

But ere very long the Northumbrians were saved from their despair.
Eadwine and the ancient stock of the kings of Deira were swept away,
but there were two princes alive of the royal house of Bernicia. Their
names were Oswald and Oswiu, and during Eadwine's reign they had been
living in exile. Their abode had been among those of the Scots who
had crossed over from Ireland and settled on the coast of northern
Britain, in the land which now bears their name. There the two brethren
had fallen in with the disciples of the good Abbot Columba, the
founder of the great monastery of Iona, and from them they had learnt
the Christian faith. Columba, whose successors were to convert all
the north of England, had been a man of great mark. He was an Irish
monk who had left his own land in self-imposed exile, because he had
been the cause of a tribal war among his countrymen. Crossing to the
Argyleshire coast, he built a monastery on the lonely island of Iona,
and from thence laboured for the conversion of the Picts and Scots.

[Sidenote: =Oswald, King of Northumbria.--Christianity restored.=]

When Oswald heard of the desperate condition of Northumbria after
Eadwine's death, he resolved to go to the aid of his countrymen against
the Welsh and Mercians. So he went southward with a few companions,
and raised the Bernicians against their oppressors, setting up as his
standard the cross that he had learnt to reverence in Iona. His effort
was crowned with success, and at the Heavenfield, near the Roman wall,
he completely defeated the Welsh and slew their king Cadwallon. Penda
the Mercian was driven out of Northumbria also, and for eight years
(634-642) Oswald maintained himself as king of all the land between
Forth and Trent. He used his power most zealously for the propagation
of Christianity. He sent to Iona for two pious monks, Aidan and Finan,
who were successively bishops of York under him, and by their aid he
so drew his people toward the faith of Christ that they never swerved
from it again, as they had done after the death of Eadwine. Oswald also
encouraged missionaries to go into the other English kingdoms. It was
by his advice that Birinus went from Rome to Wessex, where he converted
King Cynegils, and founded the bishopric of Dorchester-on-Thames.

[Sidenote: =Penda, King of Mercia.--Battle of Maserfield, 642.=]

But Oswald was not strong enough to put down his heathen neighbour,
Penda, the King of Mercia, a mighty warrior who united all the English
of central Britain under his sceptre, slaying the kings of the East
Angles, and tearing away Gloucester and all the land of the Hwiccas[3]
from the kings of Wessex. Penda and Oswald were constantly at war, and
at last the Mercian slew the Northumbrian at the battle of Maserfield,
in Shropshire, near Oswestry (642).

[Sidenote: =Oswiu, King of Northumbria.--Conversion of Mercia.=]

But the good King Oswald left a worthy successor in his brother Oswiu,
as zealous a Christian and as vigorous a ruler as himself. Oswiu
defeated Penda at the battle of the Winweed, and by slaying the slayer
became the over-king of all England. He conquered the Picts between
Forth and Tay, made the Welsh and the Cumbrians pay him tribute, and
annexed northern Mercia, giving the rest of the kingdom over to Peada,
Penda's son, only when he became a Christian. It was all over with
the cause of heathenism when Penda fell, and the Mercians and their
king bowed to the conquering faith, and listened to the preaching of
Ceadda, one of the Northumbrian monks who had been taught by the Irish
missionaries Aidan and Finan.

[Sidenote: =Dissensions of Irish and Roman clergy.--Council at Whitby,

Mercia and Northumbria, therefore, owed their conversion to the
disciples of Columba, and looked to the monastery of Iona as the source
of their Christianity, while Kent and Wessex looked to Rome, from
whence had come Augustine and Birinus. Unhappily there arose dissension
between the clergy of the two churches, for the converts of the Irish
monks thought that the South English paid too much deference to Rome,
and differed from them on many small points of practice, such as the
proper day for keeping Easter, and the way in which priests should cut
their hair. King Oswiu was grievously vexed at these quarrels, and
held a council at Whitby, or Streonshalch as it was then called, to
hear both sides state their case before him. He made his decision in
favour of the Roman observance, and many of the Irish clergy withdrew
in consequence from his kingdom, rather than conform to the ways of
their Roman brethren. This submission of the English to the Papal see
was destined to lead to many evils in later generations, but at the
time it was far the better alternative. If they had decided to adhere
to the Irish connection, they would have stood aside from the rest of
Western Christendom, and sundered themselves from the fellowship of
Christian nations, and the civilizing influences of which Rome was then
the centre (664).

[Sidenote: =Archbishop Theodore.--Unification of the Church in

The English Church, being thus united in communion with Rome, received
as Archbishop of Canterbury a Greek monk named Theodore of Tarsus,
whom Pope Vitalian recommended to them. It was this Theodore who first
organized the Church of England into a united whole; down to his day
the missionaries who worked in the different kingdoms had nothing to do
with each other. But now all England was divided into bishoprics, which
all paid obedience to the metropolitan see of Canterbury; and in each
bishopric the countryside was furnished with clergy to work under the
bishop. Some have said that Theodore cut up England into parishes, each
served by a resident priest, but things had not advanced quite so far
by his day. Under Theodore and his successors the bishops and clergy of
all the kingdoms frequently met in councils and synods, so that England
was united into a spiritual whole long before she gained political
unity. It was first in these church meetings that Mercian, West Saxon,
and Northumbrian learnt to meet as friends and equals, to work for the
common good of them all.

[Sidenote: =Prosperity of the Church.--Winfrith.--Baeda-Alcuin.=]

The English Church was vigorous from the very first. Ere it had been
a hundred years in existence it had begun to produce men of such
wisdom and piety, that England was considered the most saintly land of
Western Christendom. It sent out the missionaries who rescued Germany
from heathenism--Willibrord, the apostle of Frisia; Suidbert, who
converted Hesse; above all the great Winfrith (or Boniface), the
first Archbishop of Mainz. This great man, the friend and adviser of
the Frankish ruler Charles Martel, spread the gospel all over Central
Germany, and organized a national church in the lands on the Main and
Saal, where previously Woden and his fellows alone had been worshipped.
He died a martyr among the heathen of the Frisian Marshes in 733.

Nor was the English Church less noted for its men of learning. Not only
were they well versed in Latin, which was the common language of the
clergy all over Europe, but some of them were skilled in Greek also,
for the good Archbishop Theodore of Tarsus had instructed many in his
native tongue. Among the old English scholars two deserve special
mention: one is the Northumbrian Baeda (the Venerable Bede), a monk
of Jarrow, who translated the Testament from Greek into English, and
also wrote an ecclesiastical history of England which is our chief
source for the knowledge of his times (d. 735); the second was another
Northumbrian, Alcuin of York, whose knowledge was so celebrated all
over Europe that the Emperor Charles the Great sent for him to Aachen,
the Frankish capital, and made him his friend and tutor; for Charles
ardently loved all manner of learning, and could find no one like
Alcuin among his own people.

[Sidenote: =Reign of Ecgfrith.--Decline of Northumbria.=]

As long as Oswiu and his son Ecgfrith lived, Northumbria held the
foremost place among the English kingdoms, and its rulers were
accounted the chief kings of Britain. Ecgfrith conquered Carlisle and
Cumbria from the Welsh, and even invaded Ireland, but in an attempt to
add the highlands beyond the Forth to his realm, he was slain in battle
by the Picts at Nechtansmere (685). With his death the greatness of
Northumbria passed away, for his successors were weak men, and after a
while grew so powerless that the kingdom was vexed by constant civil
wars, and became the prey of its neighbours, the Mercians on the
south, and the Picts and Scots on the north.

[Illustration: ENGLAND

in the 8{TH} CENTURY.]

[Sidenote: =Supremacy of Mercia, 675-796.--Reign of Offa.=]

The supremacy that had once been in the hands of the Northumbrians
now passed away to the kings of Mercia, the largest and most central
of the English kingdoms. Three great kings of that realm, Aethelred,
Aethelbald and Offa, whose reigns occupied almost the whole of the
period from 675 to 796, were all in their day reckoned as supreme lords
of England. The rulers of East Anglia, Essex, and Kent were counted as
their vassals, and they deprived Wessex of its dominions north of the
Thames, and Northumbria of all that it had held south of the Trent and
the Ribble. Offa pushed his boundary far to the west, into the lands
of the Welsh; and, after conquering the valleys of the Wye and the
upper Severn, drew a great dyke from sea to sea, reaching from near
Chester on the north to Chepstow on the south; it marked the boundary
between the English and the Cymry for three hundred years. Offa was the
greatest king whom England had yet seen, and corresponded on equal
terms with Charles the Great, the famous King of the Franks, who was
his firm friend and ally (757-796).

[Sidenote: =Decline of Mercia.=]

Nevertheless, after Offa's day the sceptre passed away from Mercia,
and his successors saw their vassal kings rebel and disown the Mercian
allegiance. To maintain subject states in obedience was always a very
hard task for the old English kings, because they had no standing
armies, and no system of fortification. When a neighbouring realm was
overrun by the tumultuary army of a victorious king, he had to be
satisfied with the homage of its people, because he could not build
fortresses in it, or leave a standing force to hold it down. The only
way of keeping a conquest was to colonize it, as was done with the
lands taken from the Welsh; but the English kings shrank from evicting
their own kinsfolk, and seldom or never employed this device against
them. Hence it always happened that, when a great king died, his
vassals at once rebelled, and unless his successor was a man of ability
he was unable to reconquer them.

[Sidenote: =Supremacy of Wessex.--Ecgbert, 800-836.=]

From Mercia the primacy among the English states passed to Wessex, a
state which had hitherto kept much to itself, and had busied itself in
conquering land from the Welsh of Damnonia, rather than in striving
with its English neighbours for the supremacy in mid-Britain. Wessex,
indeed, had lost to the Mercians all its territory north of the Thames,
and was now a purely south-country state. Its borders reached to the
Tamar and the Cornish moors, since the days when Taunton in 710 and
Exeter in 705 had fallen into the hands of its kings.

The West-Saxon king who succeeded to the power of Offa was Ecgbert,
the ancestor of all the subsequent monarchs of Britain down to our
own day.[4] He was a prince who had seen many troubles in his youth,
having been driven over sea by his kinsman and forced to take refuge
with Charles the Great. He spent some years in the court and army of
the Frankish monarch, but was called to the throne of Wessex in 800, on
the death of his unfriendly cousin. In a long reign that lasted for
thirty-six years, Ecgbert not only subdued the small kingdoms of Kent
and Sussex, and made the Welsh princes of Cornwall do him homage, but
he even dared at last to attack his powerful neighbours the Mercians.
At the battle of Ellandun, in Wiltshire (823), he defeated and slew
King Beornwulf, the unworthy heir of Offa's greatness. Shortly after
Mercia did him homage, and the Northumbrians, sorely vexed by civil
wars, soon followed the example of their southern neighbours.

Thus Ecgbert became over-lord of Britain, in the same sense that
Eadwine and Offa had previously held the title. But the dominion of
the kings of Wessex was destined to be of a more enduring nature than
that of their predecessors. This was not so much due to their own
abilities as to the changed condition of the state of England. Not
only were there strong tendencies arising towards unity within the
English realms--due most especially to the influence of their common
Church--but pressure from without was now about to be applied in a way
that forced the English to combine.

Before Ecgbert had come to the throne, and even before Offa was dead,
the first signs had been seen of the coming storm that was to sweep
over England in the second half of the ninth century. The Danes had
already begun to appear off the coasts of the island.


[3] The Hwiccas held the lands conquered by Ceawlin on the lower
Severn, the modern counties of Worcester and Gloucester.

[4] All kings, both Anglo-Saxon and Norman, since 820, descend from
Ecgbert save Cnut, the two Harolds, and William I. The Conqueror's
wife, Matilda of Flanders, had English blood in her veins, so William
is the only exception in his line.



The English chronicles have accurately fixed for us the date of the
first raid of the Northmen. In 787, three strange ships were seen off
the Dorsetshire coast. From them landed a small band of marauders,
who sacked the port of Wareham, and then hastily put to sea and
vanished from sight. This insignificant descent was only the first of
a series of dreadful ravages. A few years later, in 793, a greater
band descended on Lindisfarne, the holy island of St. Cuthbert off
the Bernician coast, the greatest and richest monastery of northern
England. Thenceforth raids came thick and fast, till at last the sword
of the invaders had turned half England into a desert.

[Sidenote: =The Vikings.=]

The people of Scandinavia were at this moment in much the same state
of development in which the English had been three centuries before,
ere yet they left the shores of Saxony and Schleswig. The Danes and
Norwegians were a hardy seafaring race, divided into many small
kingdoms, always at war with each other. They were still wild heathens,
and practised piracy as the noblest occupation for warriors and
freemen. Just as Hengist and Aella had sailed out with their war-bands
in search of plunder and land in the fifth century, so the chiefs of
the Northmen were now preparing to lead out their followers into the
western seas. For two centuries the onslaughts of the Vikings--as
these piratical hordes were called--were fated to be the curse of
Christendom. The Vikings in their early days were led, not by the
greater kings of Denmark and Norway, but by leaders chosen by the
pirate bands for their military abilities. Such chiefs were obeyed on
the battle-field alone; off it they were treated with small respect by
their comrades. There were dozens of these sea-kings on the water, each
competing with the others for the largest following that he could get

[Sidenote: =Their raids grow more permanent.=]

The Northmen were at first seeking for nothing more than plunder.
Western Christendom offered them a great field, because the Franks,
English, and Irish of the ninth century almost all dwelt in open towns,
had very few forts and castles, and had built enormous numbers of rich
defenceless monasteries and churches. The Dane landed near a wealthy
port or abbey, sacked it, and hastily took to sea again, before the
countryside had time to muster in arms against him.

But after a time the continued successes of their first raids
encouraged the Northmen to take the field in much greater numbers, so
that fleets of a hundred ships, with eight or ten thousand men aboard
them, were found sailing under some noted sea-king. When they grew so
strong they took to making raids deeper into the land, boldly facing
the force of an English shire or a Frankish county if they were brought
to bay. When numbers were equal they generally had the advantage in
the fray, for they were all trained warriors, and were fighting for
their lives. Against them came only a rustic militia fresh from the
plough. If beset by the overwhelming strength of a whole kingdom,
they fortified themselves on a headland, an island, or a marsh-girt
palisade, and held out till the enemy melted homeward for lack of

[Sidenote: =Sufferings of Northumbria and Mercia.--Reign of

As long as Ecgbert lived he kept the Danes away from his kingdom
of Wessex, dealing them heavy blows whenever they dared to march
inland. The greatest of these victories was one gained at Hengistesdun
(Hingston Down), near Plymouth, over the combined forces of the Danes
and the revolted Welsh of Cornwall (835). But though he was able to
protect his own realm, Ecgbert was unable to care for his Mercian and
Northumbrian vassals; they were too far off, and his authority over
them was too weak. So northern England was already suffering fearfully
from the Viking raids even before Ecgbert died. His son Aethelwulf, who
succeeded him as king of Wessex, was a pious easy-going man, destitute
of his father's strength and ability. If the Mercians and Northumbrians
had not been so desperately afflicted at the moment by the ravages of
the Vikings, they would have undoubtedly taken the opportunity to throw
off the yoke of the Wessex kings. But their troubles made them cautious
of adding civil war to foreign invasion, and so Aethelwulf was allowed
to keep his father's nominal suzerainty over the whole of England.
More than once he led a West-Saxon army up to aid the Mercians, but he
could not be everywhere at the same time, and while he was protecting
one point, the Danes would slip round by sea and attack another. Wessex
itself was no longer secure from their incursions, and the chronicles
record several disastrous raids carried out on its coast.

All through King Aethelwulf's reign (836-858) the state of England
was growing progressively worse. Commerce was at a standstill, many
of the larger towns had been burnt by the Danes, the greatest of the
monasteries had been destroyed, and their monks slain or scattered;
with them perished the wealth and the learning which had made the
English Church the pride of Western Christendom. The land was beginning
to sink back into poverty and barbarism, and there seemed to be no hope
left to the English, for the Viking armies grew larger and bolder every

[Sidenote: =The Danes threaten permanent occupation.=]

After a time the invaders began to aim at something more than
transitory raids; they took to staying over the winter in England,
instead of returning to Norway or Denmark. Fortifying themselves in
strong posts like the isles of Thanet or Sheppey, they defied King
Aethelwulf to dislodge them. In a very short time it was evident that
they would think of permanently occupying Britain, just as the Saxons
and Angles had done three centuries back.

Aethelwulf, in great distress of mind, made a pilgrimage to Rome,
and obtained the Pope's blessing for his efforts. But he fared none
the better for that. It was equally in vain that he tried to concert
measures for common defence with his neighbour across the Channel, King
Charles the Bald, whose daughter Judith he took to wife. The Frankish
king was even more vexed by the pirates than Aethelwulf himself, and no
help was got from him.

[Sidenote: =Deposition of Aethelwulf, 856.--Winchester burnt, 864.=]

The men of Wessex at last grew so discontented with Aethelwulf's weak
rule that the Witan deposed him, and elected his son Aethelbald king in
his stead (856). But they left the small kingdoms of Kent and Sussex to
the old man for the term of his natural life, to maintain him in his
royal state. Aethelwulf died two years later, and after him reigned his
three short-lived sons--Aethelbald (856-860), Aethelbert (860-866), and
Aethelred (866-871).

The fifteen years, during which they ruled, proved a time of even
greater misery and distress than the latter days of their father's
troubled reign. The Danes not only penetrated into every nook and
corner of Mercia and Northumbria, but even struck at the heart of
Wessex, and burnt its capital, the ancient city of Winchester (864).

[Sidenote: =Conquest of Northumbria by the Danes.=]

But the sorest trial came two years later, in the time of King
Aethelred. A vast confederacy of many Viking bands, which called itself
the "Great Army," leagued themselves together and fell on England, no
longer to plunder, but to subdue and occupy the whole land. Under two
chiefs, called Ingwar and Hubba, they overran Northumbria in 867. The
Northumbrians were divided by civil war, but the rival kings, Osbercht
and Aella, joined their forces to resist the oncoming storm. Yet both
of them were slain by the Danes in a great battle outside the gates
of York, and the victors stormed and sacked the Northumbrian capital
after the engagement. They then proceeded to divide up the land among
themselves, and settled up all the old kingdom of Deira, from Tees to
Trent. The English population was partly slain off, partly reduced to
serfdom. So, after being for two hundred years a Christian kingdom,
Deira became once more a community of wild heathen; the work of Oswald
and Aidan seemed undone.

[Sidenote: =Conquest of East Anglia.=]

But the whole of the Danes of the "Great Army" could not find land in
Deira. One division of them went off against the East Angles, under
Jarl Ingwar, and fought a great battle with Edmund, the brave and
pious king of that race. They took him prisoner, and when he would
not do them homage or worship their gods, they shot him to death with
arrows. His followers secretly buried his body, and raised over it a
shrine which became the great abbey of St. Edmundsbury. East Anglia
was then divided up among the victorious Danes, just as Yorkshire had
been; but they did not settle down so thickly in the eastern counties
as in the north, and the share of Danish blood in those districts is
comparatively small (869).

[Sidenote: =The Danes checked in Wessex.--Battle of Ashdown, 870.=]

King Aethelred of Wessex had not been able to afford any practical
help to his Northumbrian and East Anglian neighbours. It was now his
own turn to face the storm which had overwhelmed the two northern
realms. In 870 the "Great Army," now under two kings, Guthrum and
Bagsaeg, sailed up the Thames and threw itself upon Surrey and Berks,
the northern border of Wessex. Aethelred came out in haste against
them, and with him marched his younger brother Alfred, the youngest
of the four sons of the old Aethelwulf, a youth of eighteen, who now
entered on his first campaign. The men of Wessex made a far sterner
defence than had the armies of the other English kingdoms. The two
warrior-brothers Aethelred and Alfred fought no less than six battles
with the "Great Army" in the single year 871. The war raged all along
the line of the chalk downs of Berkshire, as the Danes strove to force
their way westward. At last the men of Wessex gave them a thorough
beating at Ashdown, where the Etheling Alfred won the chief honour of
the day. The defeated Vikings sought refuge in a stockaded camp at
Reading, between the waters of the Thames and the Kennet. Aethelred
could not dislodge them from this stronghold, and in a skirmish with
one of their foraging parties at Merton, in Surrey, he received a
mortal wound (871).

[Sidenote: =Alfred, King of Wessex, 871.=]

Wearied with six battles, the army of Wessex broke up, and the thegns
sadly bore King Aethelred home, to bury him at Wimborne. His young
brother, the Etheling Alfred, succeeded him, and took up the task of
defending Wessex in its hour of sore distress. It was fortunate that
such a great man was at hand to bear the burden, for never was it
more likely than now that the English name would be utterly swept off
the face of the earth. In spite of his youth Alfred was quite capable
of facing any difficulty or danger. From his boyhood upward he had
always shown great promise; when a young child, he had been sent by
his father, Aethelwulf, to Rome, and there had attracted the notice of
Pope Leo, who anointed him, and predicted that he should one day be a
king. He was able and brave, like most of the descendants of Ecgbert,
but he was also far above all men of his day in his desire for wisdom
and learning, and from his earliest years was known as a lover of books
and scholars. Seldom, if ever, did any king combine so much practical
ability in war and governance with such a keen taste for literature and

[Sidenote: =He makes peace with, the Danes.--Conquest of Mercia.=]

Alfred had short space to mourn his dead brother. The "Great Army"
soon forced its way up from the Thames into Wiltshire, and beat the
men of Wessex at Wilton. Then Alfred gave them great store of treasure
to grant him peace, and they--since they found that the winning of
Wessex cost so many hard blows--consented to turn aside for a space.
But it was only in order to throw themselves on the neighbouring realm
of Mercia. They dealt with it as they had already done with Deira and
East Anglia. They defeated Burgred, its king, who fled away over sea
and died at Rome; and then they took eastern Mercia and parcelled it
out among themselves, while they gave its western half to an unwise
thegn called Ceolwulf, who consented to be their vassal and proffered
them a great tribute. It was not long, however, before they chased
away him also. Now it was that there arose the great Danish towns in
Mercia--Derby, Stamford, Leicester, Lincoln, and Nottingham, which,
under the name of the "Five Boroughs," played a considerable part in
English history for the next two centuries (876).

[Sidenote: =Renewed invasion of Wessex.=]

When Mercia had fallen, the Vikings turned once more against their old
foes in Wessex. If only they could break down King Alfred's defences,
they saw that the whole isle of Britain would be their own. So under
the two kings, Guthrum and Hubba, they once more pushed southward
beyond the Thames. There followed two years of desperate fighting
(877-878). At first the invaders swept all before them. They took
London, the greatest port of England, and Winchester, the capital of
Wessex. Alfred, repeatedly beaten in battle, was forced westward,
and driven to take refuge almost alone in the isle of Athelney, a
marsh-girt spot in Somersetshire, between the Tone and the Parret. This
was the scene of the celebrated legend of the burnt cakes. A curious
memorial of Alfred's stay in Athelney is to be seen at Oxford--a gold
and enamel locket bearing his name,[5] which was dug up in the island
some nine hundred years after it was dropped by the wandering king.

[Sidenote: =Defeat of the Danes.--Treaty of peace.=]

While Alfred was in hiding, the Danes ranged all over Wessex; King
Guthrum settled down at a fortified camp at Chippenham, in Wiltshire,
while King Hubba ravaged Devon. But when all seemed in their power,
they were suddenly disconcerted by a new gathering of the stubborn
West Saxons. The men of Devon slew Hubba and took his raven banner,
and then Alfred, issuing from Athelney, put himself at the head of the
levies of Devon, Somerset, and Dorset, and made a desperate assault
on Guthrum and the main body of the Danes. The king was victorious at
Ethandun (Eddington), and drove the army of Guthrum into its stockade
at Chippenham. There the Vikings were gradually forced by starvation
to yield themselves up. Alfred granted them easy terms: if they would
promise to quit Wessex for ever, and would swear homage to him as
over-lord, and become Christians, he would grant them the lands of the
East Angles and East Saxons to dwell in. Guthrum was fain to accept,
so he was baptized, and received at Alfred's hands the new name of
Aethelstan. Many of his host followed him to the font, and then they
retired to East Anglia and dwelt therein, save those roving spirits who
could not settle down anywhere. These latter went off to harry France,
but King Guthrum and the majority abode in their new settlement, and
were not such unruly or unfaithful subjects to Alfred as might have
been expected from their antecedents.

In such troublous times it was not likely that Alfred would be free
from other wars, but he came out of them all with splendid success.
When new bands of Vikings assailed him in later years, he smote them
again and again, and drove them out of the land. As a Norse poet once

    "They got hard blows instead of shillings,
    And the axe's weight instead of tribute;"

so they betook themselves elsewhere, to strive with less valiant kings
beyond the seas.

[Sidenote: =Division of Britain.=]

By Alfred's agreement with Guthrum, England was divided into two
halves, of which one was Danish and the other English. The old document
called _Alfred's and Guthrum's Frith_ gives the boundary of the
Danelagh, or Danish settlement, thus: "Up the Lea and then across to
Bedford, up the Ouse to Watling Street, and so along Watling Street to
Chester." That is to say, that Northumbria and East Anglia and Essex,
and the eastern half of Mercia, were left to the Danes, while Alfred
reigned directly, not only over his own heritage of Wessex, Sussex,
and Kent, but over western Mercia also. The nine counties[6] west of
Watling Street became part of Wessex, so that Alfred's own kingdom came
out of the Danish war much increased. Beyond its bounds he now had a
nominal suzerainty over three Danish states, instead of four English
ones. Guthrum reigned in the East, another Danish king at York, and
between them lay the "Five Boroughs," which were independent of both
kings, and were ruled by their own "jarls," as the Danes called their

[Sidenote: =Danish rule in England.=]

The Danish rule in North-Eastern England was made comparatively light
to the old inhabitants of the land when Guthrum and his men embraced
Christianity. Instead of killing the people off or reducing them to
slavery, the Danes now were content to take tribute from them, and to
occupy a certain portion of their lands. The limit and extent of the
Danish settlement can be well traced by studying the names of places in
the northern counties. Wherever the invaders established themselves we
find the Danish termination _by_ in greater or less abundance. We find
such names strewn thick about Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire,
and Leicestershire, less freely in Derbyshire, Northamptonshire, and
the eastern counties. Rugby, close to the line of Watling Street, is
the Danish settlement that lies furthest into the heart of Mercia.
The Viking blood, therefore, is largely mixed with the English in the
valleys of the Trent and Ouse, and close to the eastern coast, and
grows proportionately less as Watling Street is approached. The Danes
took very easily to English manners; they had all turned Christians
within a very few years, and their language was so like Old English
that their speech soon became assimilated to that of their subjects,
and could only be told from that of South England by differences of
dialect that gradually grew less. In the end England gained rather than
suffered by their invasion, for they brought much hardy blood into the
land, and came to be good Englishmen within a very few generations.

[Illustration: ENGLAND


[Sidenote: =Effects of the Danish wars.=]

But meanwhile, when they were but just settled down, and the land was
still black with their burnings, England appeared in a sorry state,
and Alfred the king had a hard task before him when he set to work to
reform and reorganize his wasted realm. Well-nigh every town had been
sacked and given to the flames at one time or another, during fifty
years of war: the churches lay in ruins, the monasteries were deserted.
Riches and learning had fled from the wasted land. "There was not
one priest south of Thames," writes King Alfred himself, "who could
properly understand the Latin of his own church-books, and very few in
the whole of England." Moreover, the social condition of the people was
rapidly becoming what we may style "feudalized"; that is, the smaller
freeholders all over the country, unable to defend themselves from
the Danes, were yielding themselves to be the "men" of their greater
neighbours. This phrase implied that they surrendered their complete
independence, and consented to pay the great men certain dues, and to
follow them to the wars, and seek justice at their hands instead of
from the free meeting of the village moot. The land still remained the
peasant's own, but, instead of being personally free, he was now a
dependent. It is noticeable that a similar state of things grew up from
the same cause in every part of Western Europe during the ninth century.

[Sidenote: =Reforms of Alfred.--The royal power.--The army.=]

Finding himself confronted with this new condition of affairs, Alfred
strengthened the royal power by compelling all these great lords to
become his own sworn followers--_gesiths_, as they would have been
called in an earlier age. But now the word was _thegn_, though the
status was much the same. So all the great landholders of England
became the king's "men," just as the villagers had become the men of
the great landholders. The thegns served the king in bower and hall,
and had to follow him in person whenever he took the field, as the old
gesiths had followed the leaders of the first Saxon war-bands. They
were a numerous body, and constituted a kind of standing army, since
it was their duty to serve whenever their master went out to battle.
The _fyrd_, or local militia of the villages, Alfred divided into two
parts, one of which was always left at home to till the fields when the
other half went out to war. It was at the head of his thegns and this
reorganized fyrd that Alfred smote the Danes when they dared to invade
his realm in his later years.

[Sidenote: =The laws.=]

Alfred has a great name as a law-giver, but he did more in the way of
collecting and codifying the laws of the kings who were before him than
in issuing new ordinances of his own. But since he made everything
clear and orderly, the succeeding generations used to speak of the
"laws of Alfred," when they meant the ancient statutes and customs of
the realm.

[Sidenote: =Learning and civilization.=]

The most noteworthy, however, of Alfred's doings, if we consider
the troublous times in which he lived, were his long-sustained and
successful endeavours to restore the civilization of England, at which
the Danish wars had dealt such a deadly blow. He collected scholars of
note from the Continent, from Wales and Ireland, and founded schools
to restore the lost learning for which England had been famed in the
last century. His interest in literature of all kinds was very keen.
He collected the old heroic epics of the English, all of which, save
the poem of "Beowulf," have now perished, or survive only in small
fragments. He compiled the celebrated "Anglo-Saxon Chronicle," and left
it behind him as a legacy to be continued by succeeding ages--as indeed
it was for nearly three hundred years. He also translated Baeda's Latin
history of England into the vernacular tongue, as well as Orosius'
general history of the world. Nor was history the only province in
which he took interest; he also caused Pope Gregory the Great's
"Pastoral Care," and other theological works, to be done into English.

[Sidenote: =The navy.=]

Alfred may also be reckoned the father of the English navy. In order to
cope with the ships of the Vikings, he built new war-vessels of larger
size than any that had yet been seen in Western Europe, and provided
that they should be well manned. He encouraged sailors to go on long
voyages, and sent out the captain Othere, who sailed into the Arctic
seas and discovered the North Cape. He was a friend of merchants, and
it was probably to him that we may attribute the law which allowed any
trader who fared thrice over-sea in his own ship to take the rank and
privileges of a thegn.

We have no space to tell of the many other spheres of Alfred's
activity, such as his church-building, his mechanical inventions, and
his zeal in almsgiving and missionary work, which was so great that he
even sent contributions to the distant Christians of St. Thomas in
India. What heightens our surprise at the many-sided activity of the
man is, that he was of a weakly constitution, and was often prostrated
by the attacks of a periodical illness which clung to him from his
youth up.

[Sidenote: =Renewed prosperity.--Alfred's successors.=]

Alfred lived till 901 in great peace and prosperity. He had increased
the bounds of Wessex, saved England from the Dane, and brought her
back to the foremost place among the peoples of Western Europe, for
his Frankish contemporaries were sinking lower and lower amid the
attacks of the Vikings, while England, under his care, was so rapidly
recovering her strength. Even the Welsh, hostile hitherto to all who
bore the English name, had done homage to him in 885, because they saw
in him their only possible protection against the Dane.

Alfred's son and his three grandsons followed him on the throne in
succession between the years 901 and 955. They were all brave, able,
hard-working princes, the worthy offspring of such a progenitor. They
carried out to the full the work that he had begun; while Alfred had
checked the Danes and made them his vassals, his descendants completely
subdued and incorporated them with the main body of the realm, so
that they were no longer vassals, but direct subjects of the crown.
And while Alfred had been over-king of England, his successors became
over-kings of the whole isle of Britain, the suzerains of the Scots and
the Welsh of Strathclyde, as well as of all the more southern peoples
within the four seas.

[Sidenote: =Edward the Elder, 901-925.--Incorporation of central
England with Wessex.=]

Alfred's eldest son and successor was Edward, generally called Edward
the Elder to distinguish him from two later kings of his line. He was
a wise and powerful king, whose life-work was the incorporation of
central England, south of the Humber, with his realm of Wessex, by the
complete conquest of the Danes of East Anglia and the Five Boroughs.
When Alfred was dead, his Danish vassals tried to stir up trouble by
raising up against Edward his cousin Aethelwulf, son of Aethelred. This
pretender the new king drove out, and then, turning on the eastern
Danes, slew their king Euric, the son of Guthrum-Aethelstan, and made
them swear homage to him again.

But a few years later the Danes broke out again into rebellion, and
Edward then took in hand their complete subjection. His chief helper
was the great ealdorman Aethelred of western or English Mercia, his
brother-in-law. When this chief died, Edward found his widowed sister
Aethelflaed, in whose hands he left the rule of the Mercian counties,
no less zealous and able an assistant than her husband had been. It was
with her co-operation that he started on his long series of campaigns
against the Danes of central and eastern England. While Edward,
starting forward from London, worked his way into Essex and East
Anglia, Aethelflaed was at the same time urging on the Mercians against
the Danes of the Five Boroughs. They moved forward systematically,
erecting successive lines of "burghs," or moated and palisaded
strongholds, opposite the centres of Danish resistance, and holding
them with permanent garrisons.

The Danes were now much more easy to deal with than in the old days,
for they had given hostages to fortune, and were the possessors of
towns and villages which could be plundered, farmsteads that could
be burned, and cattle that could be lifted. So when they found that
they could not storm the "burghs" of Edward and Aethelflaed, or drive
off the garrisons which raided on their fields, they began one after
the other to submit. The last Danish king of East Anglia was slain
in battle at Tempsford, near Bedford, in 921, and his realm was
incorporated with Wessex. Then, while Aethelflaed compelled Derby and
Leicester to yield, her brother subdued Stamford and Lincoln. So all
England south of the Humber was won and cut up into new shires, like
those of Wessex. Having accomplished her share in this great work, the
Lady Aethelflaed died, and the great ealdormanry which she had ruled
was absorbed into her brother's kingdom.

[Sidenote: =Edward over-lord of all England.=]

In their terror at Edward's ceaseless advance and never-ending
successes, not only did the Danes of Northumbria do him homage, but
even the distant kings of the Scots and the Strathclyde Welsh "took him
to father and lord" in a great meeting held at Dore in 924.

[Sidenote: =Aethelstan, 925-941.--Subjection of Northumbria.--Battle of

Having thus become the over-lord of all Britain, Edward died in 925,
leaving the throne to his son Aethelstan. This prince was his worthy
successor, and carried out still further the process of annexing
all England to the Wessex inheritance. His great achievement was the
complete subjection and annexation of Northumbria. When Sihtric the
Danish King of York died, Aethelstan seized on his kingdom, and drove
his sons over sea. The dispossessed princes stirred up enemies against
their conqueror, and formed a great league against him. Anlaf, the king
of the Danes of Ireland, brought over a great host of Vikings, while
Constantine, king of the Scots, and Owen, king of Cumbria, came down
from the north to join him. The Danes of Yorkshire at once rose in
rebellion to aid the invaders. Against this league Aethelstan marched
forth at the head of the English of Mercia and Wessex. He met them at
Brunanburgh, a spot of unknown site, somewhere in Lancashire. There
Aethelstan smote them with a great slaughter, so that Anlaf returned
to Ireland with but a handful of men, and Constantine--who lost his
son and heir in the fight--fled away hastily to his own northern
deserts. The fight of Brunanburgh, the greatest battle that the house
of Alfred had yet won, finally settled the fact that Danish England
was to be incorporated with the realm of the Wessex over-kings, and
that there was to be one nation, not two, from the borders of Scotland
to the British Channel. This great victory drew from an unknown poet
the famous "Song of Brunanburgh" which has been inserted in the
"Anglo-Saxon Chronicle." It tells of the glories of Aethelstan, and

              "Never was yet such slaughter
    In this island, since hitherward
    English and Saxons came up from the east,
    Over the broad seas, and won this our land."

The fight made Aethelstan once more lord of all Britain. The Scot king
hastened to renew his submission, the Welsh and Cornish did him homage,
the turbulent Northumbrian Danes bowed before him. He was considered
so much the most powerful monarch in Western Europe, that all the
neighbouring kings sought his alliance, and asked for the hands of
ladies of his house. Of his sisters, one was married to the Emperor
Otto I., one to Charles the Simple, King of the West Franks, others to
the King of Arles and the Counts of Paris and Flanders.

[Sidenote: =Edmund. 941-946.--Strathclyde granted as a fief to the
Scotch king.=]

Aethelstan died young, and left no son. He was followed on the throne
by his two brothers Edmund and Eadred, who were equally unfortunate
in being cut off in the flower of their age. Edmund suppressed more
than one rebellion of the Northumbrian Danes, and completely conquered
the Welsh kingdom of Strathclyde. Instead of incorporating it with
England, he bestowed it as a fief on his vassal, Malcolm, King of the
Scots, "on condition that he should be his faithful fellow-worker by
sea and land." This was the first extension of Scotland to the south
of the Clyde and Forth. Up to this time the Scots and the Picts, with
whom they had become blended since the Scot Kenneth McAlpine had been
elected king of the Picts in 836, had only ruled in the Highlands.
Edmund came to a strange and bloody end. As he feasted in his hall at
Pucklechurch, in Gloucestershire, he saw to his anger and surprise
a notorious outlaw named Leofa enter the hall and seat himself at a
table. The servants tried to turn him out, but he held his place, and
Edmund grew so wrathful that he sprang from his high seat and rushed
down to drag the intruder out with his own hands. He seized Leofa by
the hair and threw him down, but the outlaw drew a knife and stabbed
him to the heart.

[Sidenote: =Eadred. 946-955.=]

Eadred, the next king, was a prince of weak health, fonder of the
church than the battle-field. Nevertheless he carried on his brother's
policy, and kept a firm hand over the whole island of Britain. He put
down the last rising of the Danes of Yorkshire, who had proclaimed
Eric-with-the-bloody-axe as their king, and made one last attempt to
assert their independence. After this he cut up Northumbria into two
earldoms, and gave them both to an Englishman named Oswulf, to be ruled
as separate provinces.

[Sidenote: =Rise of Dunstan.=]

Eadred was the patron and protector of the wise abbot Dunstan, the
first of the great clerical statesmen who made a mark on the history
of England. He was a man of great ability and learning, who had risen
to be abbot of Glastonbury under Edmund, and became one of the chief
advisers of the pious Eadred, who was attracted to him as much by
his asceticism as by his eminent mental qualities. Dunstan was a
man with a purpose. He wished to reform the English Church in the
direction of monastic asceticism, and was most especially anxious
to make compulsory the celibacy of the clergy, a practice which had
not hitherto been enforced in England. There was undoubtedly much
ignorance and a certain amount of ill-living among the secular clergy,
and Dunstan, not content with warring against this, tried also to
reform the monasteries all over the face of the land, and to enforce
the rule of St. Benedict, "poverty, chastity, and obedience," in every
place. Dunstan's method of carrying out his views was by winning
court influence, which he was very fitted to obtain, for he was the
cleverest, most versatile, and most learned man of his day.

[Sidenote: =Eadwig, 955-959.--Quarrel with Dunstan.=]

When the pious Eadred died, he was succeeded by his nephew Eadwig
(Edwy), the son of his brother Edmund. This prince had been a child
when Leofa the outlaw slew his father, and the Witan had put him
aside in favour of his uncle, because the rule of a minor was always
disliked by the English. But now he was seventeen, and a very rash and
headstrong youth.

Eadwig very soon quarrelled with Dunstan and with Oda, Archbishop of
Canterbury, because he insisted on taking to wife the Lady Aelfgyfu
(Elgiva), who was his near kinswoman, and within the "prohibited
degrees" of the mediaeval Church. The churchmen declared her to be no
true wife of the king, and treated the royal pair with such insult that
Eadwig grew furious. The tale is well known how, when Eadwig at a high
feast had retired betimes to his wife's chamber, Oda and another bishop
followed him and dragged him back by force to the board where the
thegns were feasting.

[Sidenote: =Triumph of the Church party.=]

The king, as was natural, quarrelled with the Church party, and drove
Dunstan out of England. But his clerical opponents were too much for
him: they conspired with the Anglo-Danes of Northumbria, and with many
discontented thegns, and set up against Eadwig his younger brother
Eadgar, whom Archbishop Oda crowned as King of England. There followed
civil war, in which Eadwig had the worst; his wife fell into the hands
of Oda, who cruelly branded her with hot irons and shipped her to
Ireland. Only Wessex adhered to the cause of Eadwig, and he was at last
compelled to bow before his enemies. He acknowledged his brother as
King of all England north of Thames, and died almost immediately after

[Sidenote: =Eadgar, 959-975.--Ascendency of Dunstan.=]

His death put the whole realm into the hands of Eadgar, or rather of
Eadgar's friends of the Church party, for the new king was still very
young. He recalled Dunstan from exile to make him his chief councillor;
and when Archbishop Oda died, he gave the see of Canterbury to him. For
the seventeen years of Eadgar's rule Dunstan was his prime minister,
and much of the character of the earlier years of the king's reign must
be attributed to the prelate.

Dunstan's policy had two sides: he used his secular powers to enforce
his religious views, and everywhere he and his friends began reforming
the monasteries by forcing them to adopt the Benedictine rule. They
expelled the secular canons, many of whom were married men, from the
cathedrals, and replaced them with monks. They also dealt severely
with the custom of lay persons receiving church preferment, one of the
commonest abuses of the time.

[Sidenote: =Complete conciliation of the Danes.--Power of Eadgar.=]

But Dunstan was not only an ecclesiastical reformer. His activity had
another and a more practical side. To him, in conjunction with Eadgar,
is to be attributed the complete unification of the Anglo-Danes and the
English. Instead of being treated as subjects of doubtful loyalty, the
men of the Danelagh were now made the equals of the men of Wessex, by
being promoted to ealdormanries and bishoprics, and admitted as members
of the Witan. Eadgar kept so many of them about his person that he even
provoked the thegns of Wessex to murmuring. But the policy of trust and
conciliation had the best effects, and for the future the Anglo-Danes
may be regarded as an integral part of the English nation.

When he came to years of maturity, Eadgar proved to be a capable
prince. His power was so universally acknowledged in Britain that his
neighbours never dared attack him, and he became known as the _rex
pacificus_ in whose time were known no wars. All the kings of the
island served him with exact obedience; the story is well known how he
made his six chief vassals--the kings of Scotland, Cumbria, Man, and
three Welsh chiefs--row him across the Dee, and then exclaimed that
those who followed might now in truth call themselves kings of Britain.

[Sidenote: =Legislation.--The Ordinance of the Hundred.=]

Eadgar was a firm ruler, and the author of a very considerable body
of laws. To him is attributable the first organization of local police
in England, by the issue of the "Ordinance of the Hundred," which
divided the shires into smaller districts after the Frankish model,
and made the inhabitants of each hundred responsible for the putting
down of theft, robbery, and violence in their own district. He allowed
the Danish half of England to keep a code of laws of its own, but
assimilated it, as much as he was able, to that which prevailed in the
rest of the land, making Dane and Englishman as equal in all things as
he could contrive.

To the misfortune of his realm, Eadgar died in 975, before he had
attained his fortieth year, leaving behind him two young sons, neither
of whom had yet reached his majority. When he was gone, it was soon
seen how much the prosperity of England had depended on the personal
ability of the house of Alfred. Under weak kings there began once more
to arise great troubles for the land.


[5] The inscription reads "AELFRED MEC HEHT GEWYRCAN," or "Alfred had
me made."

[6] Gloucester, Worcester, Hereford, Shropshire, Warwickshire,
Oxfordshire, Bucks, Middlesex, Hertfordshire.



For a full century (871-975) England had been under the rule of
a series of kings of marked ability. Only the short reign of the
unfortunate Eadwig interrupts the succession of strong rulers. We have
seen how in that century England fought down all her troubles, and,
after appearing for a time to be on the brink of destruction, emerged
as a strong and united power. But on the death of Eadgar a new problem
had to be faced--the kingdom passed to two young boys, of whom the
second proved to be one of the most unworthy and incompetent monarchs
that England was ever to know.

[Sidenote: =Edward the Martyr. 975-978.--Insubordination of the great

Edward the Younger, or the Martyr, as after-generations called him,
only sat for three years on his father's throne. He endeavoured to
follow in Eadgar's steps, and retained Dunstan as his chief councillor.
But he found the great ealdormen unruly subjects; they would not obey
a young boy as they had obeyed the great Eadgar. Dunstan was made
the chief mark of their envy, because he represented the policy of a
firm central government and a strong monarchical power. Probably they
would have succeeded in getting him dismissed at the Witan held at
Calne, if a supposed miracle had not intervened to save him. While his
adversaries were pleading against him, the floor of the upper chamber
where the Witan was sitting gave way, owing to the breaking of a beam,
and they were precipitated into the room below, some being killed and
others maimed. But the piece of flooring where Dunstan stood did not
fall with the rest, so that he remained unharmed amid the general
destruction, wherefore men deemed that God had intervened to bear
witness to his innocence.

But Dunstan was not to rule much longer. In 978 his young master was
cruelly murdered by his step-mother, Queen Aelfthryth, who knew that
the crown would fall to her own son if Edward died. For one day the
king chanced to ride past her manor of Corfe, and, stopping at the
door, craved a cup of wine. She brought it out to him herself, and
while he was drinking it to her health, one of her retainers stabbed
him in the back. His horse started forward, and he lost his seat and
was dragged some way by the stirrup ere he died. The queen's friends
threw the body into a ditch, and gave out that he had perished by an
accidental fall, but all the realm knew or suspected the truth.

[Sidenote: =Aethelred the Redeless, 978-1016.--Decline of the kingly

Nevertheless, Aelfthryth's boy Aethelred got the profit of his mother's
wicked deed, for the Witan crowned him as the sole heir to King Eadgar.
His long reign was worthy of its evil commencement, for it proved one
unbroken series of disasters, and brought England at last to the feet
of a foreign conqueror. He ruled for thirty-eight years of misery and
trouble, for which he was himself largely responsible, for he was a
selfish, idle, dilatory, hard-hearted man, and let himself be guided by
unworthy flatterers and favourites, who sought nothing but their own
private advantage. Wherefore men called him Aethelred the Redeless,
that is the ill-counselled, because he would always choose the evil
counsel rather than the good. Yet the king was not wholly to blame for
the misfortunes of his reign, for the great ealdormen had their share
in the guilt. Freed from the strong hand of Dunstan, who was soon
driven away from the court, they acted as independent rulers, each in
his own ealdormanry, quarrelled with each other, and disobeyed the
king's commands. It was their divisions and jealousies and selfishness
that made the king's weakness and idleness so fatal, for, when they
refused to obey, he neither could nor would coerce them.

[Sidenote: =Viking invasions.--The Danegelt.=]

The curse of the reign of Aethelred the Redeless was the second coming
of the Danes and Northmen to England. For many years they had avoided
this island, because they knew that only hard blows awaited them there.
But they swarmed all over the rest of Europe, won Normandy from the
kings of the West Franks, and pushed their raids as far as the distant
shores of Andalusia and Italy. But the news that a weak young king,
with disobedient nobles to rule under him, sat on Eadgar's seat,
soon brought them back to England. First there came mere plundering
bands, as in the old days of the eighth century; but Aethelred did
not deal with them sharply and strongly. He bade the ealdormen drive
them off; but they were too much occupied with their own quarrels to
stir. Then the invaders came in greater numbers, and Aethelred thought
to bribe them to go away by giving them money, and raised the tax
called the _Danegelt_ to satisfy their rapacity. But it seemed that
the more that gold was given the more did Danes appear, for the news
of Aethelred's wealth and weakness flew round the North, and brought
swarm after swarm of marauders upon him. Then followed twenty miserable
years of desultory fighting and incessant paying of tribute. Sometimes
individual ealdormen fought bravely against the Danes, and held them
at bay for a space; sometimes the king himself mustered an army and
strove to do something for the realm; sometimes he tried to hire one
band of Vikings to fight against another, with the deplorable results
that might have been expected. His worst and most unwise action was the
celebrated massacre of St. Brice's Day, in 1002, when he caused all
the Danes on whom he could lay hands to be killed. In this case it was
not open enemies whom he slew, for it was a time of truce, but Danish
merchants and adventurers who had settled down in England and done him
homage. By this cruel deed Aethelred won the deadly hatred of Swegen,
King of Denmark, whose sister and her husband had been among the slain.

[Sidenote: =Ravages of Swegen of Denmark.--Eadric "the Grasper."=]

Swegen became Aethelred's bitterest foe, and repeatedly warred against
him, not with mere Viking bands, but with the whole force of Denmark
at his back, a great national army bent on serious invasion of the
land, not on transient raiding. The English were driven to despair by
Swegen's ravages, and the king did nothing to save them. He had now
fallen entirely into the hands of an unscrupulous favourite, named
Eadric Streona, or _the Grasper_, and was guided in all things by this
low-born adventurer. He even created him Ealdorman of Mercia, and
made him the second person in the land. Eadric cared only for ruining
any noble who could possibly be his rival, and for enlarging his
ealdormanry; of the defence of England he took no more thought than did
his master.

[Sidenote: =Swegen chosen king by the Witan.=]

At last, in 1013, there came a Danish invasion of exceptional severity.
The marauders dashed through the country from end to end; they took
Canterbury and slew the good Archbishop Elfheah (St. Alphege), because
he refused to pay them an exorbitant ransom. Then Eadric gathered
together the Witan, without the king's presence, and, with infamous
treachery to his benefactor, proposed to them to submit entirely to
the Danes. So when Swegen came over again in the next year, the whole
realm bowed before him, and the great men, headed by the traitor
Eadric, offered him the crown. Only London held out for King Aethelred,
and stood a long siege, till its citizens learnt that their master
had deserted them and fled over sea to the Duke of Normandy, whose
sister Emma he had married. Then they too yielded, and the Witan of
all England took Swegen as their king. But the Dane died immediately
after his election, and then the majority of the English refused to
choose his son Cnut as his successor. They sent to Normandy for their
old king, and did homage once more to Aethelred; but the traitor Eadric
resolved to adhere to Cnut, because he had lately murdered the thegns
of the Five Boroughs, and dreaded the wrath of their followers. So
Eadric's Mercian subjects and some of the men of Wessex joined the
Danes, and there was civil war once more in England, till Aethelred the
Ill-counselled died in 1016.

[Sidenote: =Edmund Ironside and Cnut, 1016.=]

Then his followers chose in his stead his brave son Edmund II., who
was called Ironside because of his prowess in war. The new king was
a worthy descendant of Alfred, and would have made no small mark in
better times, but he spent his short reign in one unceasing series of
combats with Cnut, a man as able and as warlike as himself. The two
young kings fought five pitched battles with each other, and fortune
swayed to Edmund's side; but in the sixth, at Assandun (Ashington, in
Essex), he was defeated, owing to the treachery of the wretched Eadric
the Grasper, who first joined him with a large body of Mercian troops,
and then turned against him in the heat of the battle (1016).

Then Edmund and Cnut, having learnt to respect each other's courage,
met in the Isle of Alney, outside the walls of Gloucester, and agreed
to divide the realm between them. Cnut took, as was natural, the
Anglo-Danish districts of Northumbria and the Five Boroughs, together
with Eadric's Mercian ealdormanry. Edmund kept Wessex, Kent, London,
and East Anglia. But this partition was not destined to endure. Ere
the year was out the foul traitor Eadric procured the murder of King
Edmund, and then the Witan of Wessex chose Cnut as king over the south
as well as the north. The late king's young brothers and his two little
sons fled to the Continent.

[Sidenote: =The empire of Cnut.=]

So Cnut the Dane became King of all England, and ruled it wisely and
well for nineteen years (1016-35). He proved a much better king than
people expected, for, being a very young man and easily impressed,
he grew to be more of an Englishman than a Dane in all his manners
and habits of thought. He ruled in Denmark and Norway as well as in
this island, but he made England his favourite abode, and regarded
it as the centre and heart of his empire. The moment that he was
firmly established on the throne, he took measures for restoring the
prosperity of the land, which had been reduced to an evil plight
by forty years of ill-governance and war. He swept away the great
ealdormen who had been such a curse to the land, slaying the traitor
Eadric the Grasper, and Uhtred the turbulent governor of Northumbria.
Then he divided England into four great earldoms, as these provinces
began to be called, for the Danish name _jarl_ (earl) was beginning
to supersede the Saxon name ealdorman. Of these he entrusted the two
Anglo-Danish earldoms, Northumbria and East Anglia, to men of Danish
blood, while he gave Wessex and Mercia to two Englishmen who had served
him faithfully, the earls Godwine and Leofric. The confidence in the
loyalty of his English subjects which Cnut displayed was very marked:
he sent home to Denmark the whole of his army, save a body-guard of
two thousand or three thousand _house-carles_, or personal retainers,
and did not divide up the lands of England among them. He kept many
Englishmen about his person, and even sent them as bishops or royal
officers to Denmark, a token of favour of which the Danes did not
altogether approve. He endeavoured to connect himself with the old
English royal house, by marrying Emma of Normandy, the widow of King
Aethelred, though she was somewhat older than himself, so Cnut's
younger children were the half-brothers of Aethelred's.

[Sidenote: =He gives Lothian to the King of Scotland.=]

Cnut gave England the peace which she had not known since the death
of Eadgar, for no one dared to stir up war against a king who was not
only Lord of Britain, but ruled all the lands of the Northmen, as far
as Iceland and the Faroes and the outlying Danish towns in Ireland.
The Welsh and Scots served Cnut as they had served Aethelstan and
Eadgar, and were his obedient vassels. In reward of the services of
Malcolm of Scotland Cnut gave him the district of Lothian, the northern
half of Bernicia, to hold as his vassal. This was the first piece of
English-speaking land that any Scottish king ruled, and it was from
thence that the English tongue and manners afterwards spread over the
whole of the Lowlands beyond the Tweed.

The rapid recovery of prosperity which followed on Cnut's strong and
able government is the best testimony to his wisdom. The wording of the
code of laws which he promulgated is a witness to his good heart and
excellent purposes. His subjects loved him well, and many tales survive
to show their belief in his sagacity, such as the well-known story of
his rebuke to the flattering courtiers who ascribed to him omnipotence
by the incoming waves of Southampton Water.

[Sidenote: =The sons of Cnut, 1035-1042.=]

Cnut died in 1035, before he had much passed the boundary of middle
age. He left two sons, Harold and Harthacnut, the former the child of
a concubine, the latter the offspring of Queen Emma. With his death
his empire broke up, for Norway revolted, and the Danes of Denmark
chose Harthacnut as their king, while those of England preferred the
bastard Harold. Only Godwine, the great Earl of Wessex, declared for
Harthacnut, and made England south of the Thames swear allegiance to
him. So Harold reigned for a space in Northumbria and Mercia, while
Denmark and Wessex obeyed his younger brother. The two sons of Cnut
were rough, godless, unscrupulous young men, and hated each other
bitterly, for each thought that the other had robbed him of part of his
rightful heritage. Moreover, Harold enraged Harthacnut by catching and
slaying his elder half-brother Alfred, the son of Aethelred and Emma,
whom he enticed over to England by fair words, and then murdered by
blinding him with hot irons.

After a space Harold overran Wessex, which Earl Godwine surrendered
to him because Harthacnut sent no aid from Denmark, where he tarried
over-long. But just after he had been saluted as ruler of all England,
Harold died, and his realm fell to his absent brother. Harthacnut
then came over with a large army, and took possession of the land. He
ruled ill for the short space of his life; it was with horror that men
saw him exhume his half-brother's corpse and cast it into a ditch. He
raised great taxes to support his Danish army, and dealt harshly with
those who did not pay him promptly. But just as all England was growing
panic-stricken at his tyranny, he died suddenly. He was celebrating the
marriage of one of his followers, Osgood Clapa, at the thegn's manor
of Clapham, in Surrey, when, as he raised the wine-cup to drink the
bridegroom's health, he fell back in an apoplectic fit, and never spoke
again (1042).

[Sidenote: =Edward the Confessor, 1042-1066.=]

The English Witan had now before them the task of choosing a new
king. Cnut's house was extinct, and with it died all chance of the
perpetuation of a northern empire in which England and Denmark should
be united. It was natural that the council should cast their eyes back
on the old royal house of Alfred, for its eldest member was at this
time in England. Harthacnut had called over from Normandy Edward, his
mother's second son by King Aethelred, the younger brother of that
Etheling Alfred whom Harold had murdered five years before.

It was with little hesitation, therefore, that the Witan, led by Earl
Godwine, the greatest of the rulers of the realm, elected Edward to
fill the vacant throne. The prince's virtues were already known and
esteemed, and his failings had yet to be learnt. Edward was now a man
of middle age, mild, pious, and well-meaning, but wanting in strength
and vigour, and needing some strong arm on which to lean. He had spent
his whole youth in Normandy, at the court of Duke Richard, his mother's
brother, and had almost forgotten England and the English tongue during
his long exile. Just as Cnut had become an Englishman, so Edward had
become for all intents and purposes a Norman.

[Sidenote: =Godwine, Earl of Wessex.--The king's Norman favourites.=]

During the first few years of his reign in England, the new king
was entirely in the hands of Godwine, the great Earl of Wessex. He
married the thegn's daughter Eadgyth (Edith), and entrusted him with
the greater part of the administration of the realm. But Edward and
Godwine were not likely to remain friends; there were several causes
of dispute between them. The most important was the fact that the king
secretly believed that Godwine had been a consenting party to the
murder of his brother Alfred by King Harold. But the most obvious was
Godwine's dislike for the Norman favourites of the king. For Edward
sent for all the friends of his youth from Normandy, and gave them
high preferment in England, making Robert of Jumièges Archbishop of
Canterbury, and bestowing bishoprics on other Norman priests, and an
earldom on Ralf of Mantes, his own nephew. He also showed high favour
to two more of his continental kinsmen, Eustace, Count of Boulogne, and
William the Bastard, the reigning duke of Normandy. William declared
that Edward had even promised to leave the crown of England to him at
his death; and it is possible that the king may have expressed some
such wish, but he had not the power to carry it out, for the election
of the English kings lay with the Witan, and not with the reigning

[Sidenote: =Exile and return of Godwine.=]

The troubles of Edward's reign began in 1050, starting from a chance
affray at Dover. Eustace of Boulogne was landing to pay a visit to the
king, when some of his followers fell into a quarrel with some of the
citizens. Men were slain on both sides, and the count was chased out of
the town with hue and cry. The king took this ill, and bade Godwine--in
whose earldom Dover lay--to punish the men who had insulted his noble
kinsman. But Godwine refused, saying--what was true enough--that the
count's followers were to blame, and the burghers in the right. Edward
was angry at the earl's disobedience, and called to him in arms those
of the English nobles who were jealous of Godwine, especially Leofric,
the Earl of Mercia, and Siward, the Earl of Northumbria. Godwine also
gathered a host of the men of Wessex, and it seemed that civil war
would begin. But the earl was unwilling to fight the king, and when
the Witan outlawed him, he fled over seas to Flanders with his sons,
Harold, Swegen, and Tostig. Edward then fell entirely into the hands
of his Norman favourites. He sent his wife, Godwine's daughter, to a
nunnery, and disgraced all who had any kinship with the exiled earl.
But the governance of the Norman courtiers was hateful to the English,
and when Godwine and his sons came back a year later, and sailed up
the Thames with a great fleet, the whole land was well pleased. No
one would fight against him, and the Norman bishops and knights about
the king's person had to fly in haste to save their lives. Then the
Witan inlawed Godwine again, and Edward was obliged to give him back
his ancient place (1052). So the great earl once more ruled England,
holding Wessex himself, while his second son Harold ruled as earl in
East Anglia, and his third son Tostig became the king's favourite
companion, though he was a reckless, cruel man, very unlike the mild
and pious Edward.

[Sidenote: =Death of Godwine.--His son Harold takes his place.=]

The house of Godwine kept a firm control over the realm during the last
fourteen years of Edward's reign. When Godwine died suddenly at a great
feast at Winchester,[7] his son Harold succeeded both to his earldom of
Wessex and to his preponderant power in England. The years of Harold's
governance were on the whole a time of prosperity, for he was a busy,
capable man, much liked by all the English of the south, though the
Mercians and Northumbrians did not love him so well.

Harold knew how to make the authority of the King of England over
his smaller neighbours respected. It was during his tenure of power
that Siward, earl of Northumbria, was sent into Scotland to put down
Macbeth, the lord of Moray, who had murdered King Duncan and seized his
crown. Siward slew Macbeth in battle at Lumphanan, and restored to the
throne of Scotland Malcolm, the eldest son of the late king (1054). A
little later Harold himself took the field to put down Gruffyd, the
King of North Wales, who had risen in rebellion. He drove the Welsh up
into the crags of Snowdon, and besieged them there till they slew their
own king and laid his head at the earl's feet.

[Sidenote: =Harold's detention in Normandy.=]

It was somewhere about this time that a misfortune fell upon Harold.
He was sailing in the Channel, when a storm arose and drove his ship
ashore on the coast of Ponthieu, near the Somme-mouth. Wido, the Count
of Ponthieu, an unscrupulous and avaricious man, threw the earl into
prison, and held him to ransom. But William, Duke of Normandy, who
was Wido's feudal superior, delivered him from bonds, and brought him
to his court at Rouen. Harold abode with the duke for some time, half
as guest, half as hostage, for William would not let him depart. He
went on an expedition against Brittany with the Normans, and received
knighthood at the duke's hands. After a time he was told that he
might return home if he would engage to use all his endeavours to get
William elected King of England at the death of Edward. The duke said
that he had gained such a promise from Edward himself, and thought he
could make sure of the prize with Harold's aid. Thus tempted, the earl
consented to swear this unwise and unjust oath, and in presence of the
whole Norman court vowed to aid William's candidature. When he had
sworn, the duke showed him that the shrine at which he had pledged his
faith was full of the bones of all the saints of Normandy, which had
been secretly collected to make the oath more solemn.

[Sidenote: =Dissensions in England.--Eadwine and Morcar.=]

So Harold returned to England, and--as it would appear--soon forgot
his oath altogether, or thought of it only as extorted by force and
fear. He had anxieties enough to distract his mind to other subjects.
First Mercia gave trouble, because Aelfgar, the son of Earl Leofric,
was jealous of Harold's predominance in the realm. He twice took arms
and was twice outlawed for treason. Nevertheless, Harold confirmed his
son Eadwine in the possession of the Mercian earldom. Next, Northumbria
broke out into armed rebellion. The king had made his favourite Tostig,
Harold's younger brother, earl of the great northern province when
the aged Siward, the conqueror of Macbeth, died. But Tostig ruled so
harshly and so unjustly, that the Anglo-Danes of Yorkshire rose in
rebellion, put Morcar, the son of Aelfgar of Mercia, at their head,
and drove Tostig away. When Harold investigated the matter, he found
that Tostig was so much in the wrong that he advised the king to
banish his brother, and to confirm Morcar in the Northumbrian earldom.
This resolve, though just and upright, weakened Harold's hold on the
land, for Mercia and Northumbria were thus put in the hands of the two
brothers, Eadwine and Morcar, who worked together in all things and
were very jealous of the great Earl of Wessex, in spite of his kindly
dealings with them (1065).

[Sidenote: =Death of King Edward.=]

Less than a year after Tostig's deposition King Edward died. The
English mourned him greatly, for, in spite of his weakness and his
tendency to favour the Normans over-much, he was an upright, kindly,
well-intentioned man, whom none could hate or despise. Moreover, his
sincere piety made the English revere him as a saint; it was said that
he had divine revelations vouchsafed to him, and that St. Peter had
once appeared to him in a vision and given him a ring. It is, at any
rate, certain that he built the Abbey of Westminster in St. Peter's
honour, and lavished on it a very rich endowment. The English looked
back to Edward's reign as a kind of golden age in the evil times that
followed, and worshipped him as a saint; but the good governance of the
realm owed far more to Godwine and Harold than to the gentle, unworldly

[Sidenote: =Harold elected king by the Witan.=]

On Edward's death the Witan had to choose them a king. The next heir of
the house of Alfred was a child, Eadgar the Etheling, the great-nephew
of the deceased monarch. He was only ten years of age, and there was
no precedent for electing so young a boy to rule England. Outside the
royal line there were two persons who were known to desire the crown:
the first was the man who had for all practical purposes governed
England for the last fourteen years, Earl Harold of Wessex, the late
king's brother-in-law; the other was William the Norman. It was said
that Edward had once promised to use his influence in his Norman
cousin's favour, but it is certain that on his death-bed he recommended
Harold to the assembled thegns and bishops. The Witan did not waver
for a minute in their decision; they chose Harold, and he accepted
the crown without any show of hesitation. Yet it was certain that his
elevation would bring on him the bitter jealousy of the young Earls of
Mercia and Northumbria, who regarded themselves as his equals, in every
respect. And it was equally clear that William of Normandy, who had
counted on Harold's assistance in his candidature for the throne, would
vent his wrath and disappointment on the new king's head (Jan., 1066).

[Sidenote: =Claim of William of Normandy to the crown.=]

Harold attempted to conciliate the sons of Aelfgar by paying them every
attention in his power, and by marrying their sister Ealdgyth. But to
appease the stern Duke of Normandy he knew was impossible, and he
looked for nothing but war from that quarter. Indeed, he was hardly
mounted on the throne before William sent over ambassadors to formally
bid him fulfil his oath and resign the crown, or take the consequences.
It need hardly be added that Harold replied that the Witan's choice was
his mandate, and that his oath had been extorted by force.

[Sidenote: =He prepares to invade England.=]

The Duke of Normandy was firmly resolved to assert his baseless claim
to the throne by force of arms. He had a large treasure and many bold
vassals, but he knew that his own strength was insufficient for such
an enterprise as the invasion of England. Accordingly, he proclaimed
his purpose all over Western Europe, and offered lands and spoil in
England to every adventurer who would take arms in his cause. William's
military reputation was so great, that he was able to enlist thousands
of mercenaries from France, Brittany, Flanders, and Aquitaine. Of the
great army that he mustered at the port of St. Valery, only one-third
were native Normans. William took six months for his preparation; he
had to build a fleet, since Harold had a navy able to keep the Channel,
and to beat up every freelance that could be hired to take service with
him. Nor did he neglect to add spiritual weapons to temporal: he won
over the Pope to give his blessing on the invasion of England, because
Harold had broken the oath he swore on the bones of all the saints, and
had become a perjurer. There were other reasons for Pope Alexander's
dislike for the English. Stigand, Harold's Archbishop of Canterbury,
had acknowledged an anti-Pope, and Rome never forgave schism; moreover,
the house of Godwine had not been friendly to the monks, but had been
patrons of Dunstan's old foes, the secular canons. Alexander therefore
sent William his blessing, and a consecrated banner to be unfurled when
he should land in England.

Hearing of William's vast preparations, Harold arrayed a fleet to
guard the narrow seas, and bade the fyrd of all England to be ready to
muster on the Sussex coast. He was prepared to defend himself, and only
wondered at the delay in his adversary's sailing, a delay which was
caused by north-westerly winds, which kept the Normans storm-bound.

[Sidenote: =Harald Hardrada invades Northumbria.=]

Suddenly there came to Harold disastrous and unexpected news from the
north. His exiled brother Tostig had chosen this moment to do him an
ill turn. He had gone to the north, and persuaded Harald Hardrada, the
King of Norway, to invade England. Hardrada was the greatest Viking
that ever existed, the most celebrated adventurer by sea and land of
his age. When Tostig offered him the plunder of England, he took ship
with all his host and descended on Northumbria. Morcar, the young earl
of that region, came out to meet him, with his brother Eadwine at his
side. But Hardrada defeated them with fearful slaughter before the
gates of York, and took the city.

[Sidenote: =Harold marches northward.--Battle of Stamford Bridge.=]

When Harold of England heard this news he was constrained to leave the
south, and risk the chance of William's landing unopposed. He took with
him his house-carles, the great band of his personal retainers, and
marched in haste on York, picking up the levies of the midland shires
on the way.

So rapidly did Harold move, that he caught the Northmen quite
unprepared, and came upon them at Stamford Bridge, close to York, when
they least expected him. There he defeated the invaders in a great
battle. Its details are unfortunately lost, for the noble Norwegian
saga that gives the story of Hardrada's fall was written too long after
to be trusted as good history. It tells how the English king rode
forward to the invading army, and, calling to his brother, offered him
pardon and a great earldom. But Tostig asked what his friend Harald of
Norway should receive. "Seven feet of English earth, seeing that he is
taller than other men," answered Harold of England. Then Tostig cried
aloud that he would never desert those who had helped him in his day
of need, and the fight began. We know that both the rebel earl and the
Norse king fell, that the raven banner of the Vikings was taken, and
that the remnant only of their host escaped. It is said that they came
in three hundred ships, and fled in twenty-four.

[Sidenote: =Landing of the Normans.=]

Harold of England was celebrating his victory at York by a great feast
a few nights after the battle of Stamford Bridge, when a message was
brought him that William of Normandy had crossed the Channel and
landed in Sussex with a hundred thousand men at his back. Harold
hurried southward with his house-carles, bidding the Earls Eadwine
and Morcar bring on the levies of Mercia and Northumbria to his aid
as fast as they might. But the envious sons of Aelfgar betrayed their
brother-in-law, and followed so slowly that they never overtook
him. Harold marched rapidly on London, and gathered up the fyrd of
East Anglia, Kent, and Wessex, so that he reached the coast with
a considerable army, though it was one far inferior in numbers to
William's vast host. Not a man from Mercia or Northumbria was with him;
but the levies of the southern shires, where the house of Godwine was
so well loved, were present in full force.

[Sidenote: =The battle of Hastings.=]

William had now been on shore some ten or twelve days, and had built
himself a great intrenched camp at Hastings. But the King of England,
as befitted the commander of the smaller host, came to act on the
defensive, not on the offensive. He took post on the hill of Senlac,
where Battle Abbey now stands, and arrayed his army in a good position,
strengthened with palisades. He was resolved to accept battle, though
his brother Gyrth and many others of his council bade him wait till
Eadwine and Morcar should come up with the men of the north, and
meanwhile, to sweep the land clear of provisions and starve out
William's army. The Norman duke desired nothing more than a pitched
battle; he knew that he was superior in numbers, and believed that he
could out-general his adversary. When he heard that Harold had halted
at Senlac, he broke up his camp at Hastings, and marched inland. The
English were found all on foot, for they had not yet learnt to fight
on horseback, drawn up in one thick line on the hillside, around the
dragon-banner of Wessex and the standard of the Fighting Man, which was
Harold's private ensign. The king's house-carles, sheathed in complete
mail, and armed with the two-handed Danish axe, were formed round the
banners; on each flank were the levies of the shires, an irregular
mass where well-armed thegns and yeomen were mixed with their poorer
neighbours, who bore rude clubs and instruments of husbandry as their
sole weapons.

William's army was marshalled in a different way. The flower of the
duke's host was his cavalry, and the Norman knights were the best
horse-soldiery in Europe. His army was drawn up in three great bodies,
the two wings composed of his French, Flemish, and Breton mercenaries,
the centre of the native Normans. In each body the mounted men were
preceded by a double line of archers and troops on foot.

The two hosts joined in close combat, and for some hours the fighting
was indecisive. Neither the arrows of the Norman bowmen, nor the
charges of their knights, could break the English line of battle. The
invaders were driven back again and again, and the axes of the men of
Harold made cruel gaps in their ranks, cleaving man and horse with
their fearful blows. At last William bade his knights draw off for a
space, and bade the archers only continue the combat. He trusted that
the English, who had no bowmen on their side, would find the rain of
arrows so insupportable that they would at last break their line and
charge, to drive off their tormentors. Nor was he wrong; after standing
unmoved for some time, the English could no longer contain themselves,
and, in spite of their king's orders and entreaties, the shire-levies
on the wings rushed down the hill in wild rage and fell upon the
Normans. When they were scattered by their fiery charge, the duke let
loose his horsemen upon them, and the disorderly masses were ridden
down and slain or driven from the field. The house-carles of Harold
still stood firm around the two standards, from which they had not
moved, but the rest of the English army was annihilated. Then William
led his host against this remnant, a few thousand warriors only,
but the pick of Harold's army. Formed in an impenetrable ring, the
king's guards held out till nightfall, in spite of constant showers of
arrows, alternating with desperate cavalry charges. But Harold himself
was mortally wounded by an arrow in the eye, and one by one all his
retainers fell around him, till, as the sun was setting, the Normans
burst through the broken shield-wall, hewed down the English standards,
and pierced the dying king with many thrusts. With Harold there fell
his two brothers Gyrth and Leofwine, his uncle Aelfwig, most of the
thegnhood of Wessex, and the whole of his heroic band of house-carles.


           |               |               |               |
        855-860.        860-866.        866-871.        871-901.
                       |                           |
                 EDWARD THE ELDER,            Aethelflaed, = Aethelred.
                    901-925.                 Lady of Mercia.
      |                |                |
   925-940.         940-946.         946-955.
              |                 |
           EADWIG,           EADGAR,
           955-959.          959-975.
                  |                           |
          EDWARD THE MARTYR,             AETHELRED II.,
               975-979.                    979-1016.
               |                  |                     |
           EDMUND II.,     Alfred the Etheling,     EDWARD III.,
             1016.             slain 1036.         the Confessor,
               |                                     1042-1066.
      Edward the Etheling.
       |               |
  Eadgar the        Margaret = Malcolm, King
   Etheling.                     of Scots.


[7] The Norman historians of a later generation made a very impressive
scene of Godwine's death. The king and the earl were dining together,
it was said, when Edward spoke out his suspicion that Godwine had been
concerned in his brother Alfred's murder. "May the crust that I am
eating choke me," cried the earl, "if I had any hand in his death."
Forthwith he swallowed it, was seized with a fit, and died on the spot.



William pitched his tents among the dead and dying where the English
standards had stood. Next day he could judge of the greatness of his
success, and see that the English army had been well-nigh annihilated.
He vowed to build a great church on the spot, in memory of his victory,
and kept his resolve, as Battle Abbey shows to this day. At first he
wished to cast out his fallen rival's body on the sea-shore, as that of
a perjurer and an enemy of the Church; but better counsels prevailed,
and he finally permitted the canons of Waltham to bury Harold's corpse
in holy ground. It is said that no one was able to identify the king
among the heaps of stripped and mutilated slain except Edith with the
Swan's Neck, a lady whom he had loved and left in earlier days.

[Sidenote: =William elected and crowned in London.=]

William expected to encounter further resistance, and marched slowly
and cautiously on London by a somewhat circuitous route, crossing the
Thames as high up as Wallingford. But he met with no enemy. Dover,
Canterbury, Winchester, and the other cities of the south yielded
themselves up to him. In fact, Wessex had been so hard hit by the
slaughter at Hastings, that scarce a thegn of note survived to organize
resistance. Every grown-up man of Godwine's house had fallen, and of
the whole race there remained but two young children of Harold's.
Meanwhile the Witan met at London to elect a new king. The two sons of
Aelfgar, whose treacherous sloth had ruined England, had hoped that
one of them might be chosen to receive the crown; but their conduct
had been observed and noted, and rather than take Eadwine or Morcar as
lord, the Witan chose the last heir of the house of Aelfred, the boy
Eadgar, great-nephew to St. Edward. This choice was hopelessly bad when
a victorious enemy was thundering at the gates. Eadwine and Morcar
disbanded their levies, and went home in wrath to their earldoms. The
south could raise no second army to replace that which had fallen at
Hastings, and when William pressed on toward London the followers
of Eadgar gave up the contest. As he lay at Berkhamstead, the chief
men of London and Ealdred, the Archbishop of York, came out to him,
and offered to take him as lord and master. So he entered the city,
and there was crowned on Christmas Day 1066, after he had been duly
elected in the old English fashion. A strange accident attended the
coronation: when the Archbishop Ealdred proposed William's name to the
assembly, and the loud shout of assent was given, the Norman soldiery
without thought that a riot was beginning, and cut down some of the
spectators and fired some houses before they discovered their mistake.
So William's reign began, as it was to continue, in blood and fire.

[Sidenote: =Confiscations in south-east England.=]

Eadwine and Morcar and the rest of the English nobles soon did homage
to William; but the realm was only half subdued, for, save in the
south-east, where the whole manhood of the land had been cut off at
Hastings, the English had submitted more for want of leaders and union
than because they regarded themselves as conquered. It remained to be
seen how the new king would deal with his realm, whether he would make
himself well loved by his subjects, as Cnut had done, or whether he
would become a tyrant and oppressor. William, though stern and cruel,
was a man politic and just according to his lights. He wished to govern
England in law and order, and not to maltreat the natives. But he was
in an unfortunate position. He knew nothing of the customs and manners
of the English, and could not understand a word of their language.
Moreover, he could not, like Cnut, send away his foreign army, and rely
on the loyalty of the people of the land. For his army was a rabble of
mercenaries drawn from many realms outside his own duchy, and he had
promised them land and sustenance in England when they enlisted beneath
his banner. Accordingly, he had to begin by declaring the estates
of all who had fought at Hastings, from Harold the king down to the
smallest freeholder, as forfeited to the crown. This put five-sixths of
the countryside in Wessex, Essex, Kent, and East Anglia into the king's
hands. These vast tracts of land were distributed among the Norman,
French, Flemish, and Breton soldiery, in greater and smaller shares, to
be held by feudal tenure of knight-service from the king's hands.

[Sidenote: =Other freeholders become tenants of the crown.=]

In the rest of England, those of the native landowners who had not
fought at Hastings were allowed to "buy back their lands." That is,
they paid William a fine, made him a formal surrender of their estates,
and then received them back from him under the new feudal obligations,
becoming _tenants-in-chief_ of the crown; agreeing to hold their manors
directly from the king as his personal dependents and vassals. So there
was no longer any land in England held by the old German freehold
tenure, where every man was the sole proprietor of his own soil.

[Sidenote: =Risings in the west and north.=]

If things had stopped here, northern England would have remained in the
hands of the old landholders, while southern England passed away to
Norman lords. But the rapacious followers of the Conqueror were soon
to get foot in the north also. William went back to Normandy in 1067,
leaving his brother Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, regent in his stead. The
moment that he was gone, the new settlers began to treat the English
with a contempt and cruelty which they had not dared to show in their
master's presence, and Odo rather encouraged than rebuked them. There
followed the natural result, a widespread rising in those parts of
England which had not yet felt the Norman sword. Unfortunately for
themselves, the English rose with no general plan, and with no unity
of purpose, every district fighting for its own hand. The western
counties sent for the two sons of Harold, who came to Exeter, and
were there saluted as hereditary chiefs of Wessex. But in Northumbria
the insurgents proclaimed the Etheling Eadgar as king; and in Mercia
there arose a thegn, Eadric the Wild, who was descended from the
wicked Eadric Streona, and wished to reassert hereditary claims to his
ancestor's earldom.

[Sidenote: =The rebels subdued.--Further confiscations.=]

William immediately returned to England, and attacked the rebels. They
gave each other no aid; each district was subdued without receiving
any succour from its neighbour. William first marched against Exeter,
took it after a long siege, and drove the young sons of Harold over
sea to Ireland. Then he moved into Mercia, and chased Eadric the Wild
into Wales, clearing Gloucestershire and Worcestershire of insurgents.
The North made a perfunctory submission, and a Norman earl, Robert de
Comines, was set over it. These abortive insurrections led to much
confiscation of landed property in the west and north, which was at
once portioned out among William's military retainers (1068).

[Sidenote: =Second rising in Northumbria.--Yorkshire desolated.=]

But there was hard fighting to follow. In the spring of 1069 a second
and more serious rising broke out in Northumbria. The insurgents took
Durham, slew Earl Robert, and sent to ask the aid of the Kings of
Scotland and Denmark. They were headed by Waltheof, Earl of Northampton
and Huntingdon, the son of that Siward who had vanquished Macbeth. Both
the monarchs who had been asked for aid consented to join the rebels.
Malcolm Canmore of Scotland had married Margaret, the sister of the
Etheling Eadgar, and thought himself bound to aid his brother-in-law.
Swegen of Denmark, on the other hand, had hopes of the English crown,
to which, as Cnut's successor, he thought he might lay some claim.
Waltheof and his army ere long took York, and killed or captured the
whole Norman garrison. But after this success the allies drifted apart;
Swegen did not care to make Eadgar King of England, and Eadgar's party
were angry with the Danes for ravaging and plundering on their own
account. When William came up against York with a great host, the Danes
took to their ships and left the English unaided. William was too
strong for the Northumbrians; he routed them, retook York, and then
set to work to punish the country for its twice repeated rebellion.
He harried the whole of the fertile Yorkshire plain, from the Humber
to the Tees, with fire and sword. The entire population was slain,
starved, or driven away. Many fled to Scotland and settled there;
others took to the woods and lived like savages. Several years passed
before any one ventured forth again to till the wasted lands, and when
the great _Domesday Book_ was compiled--nearly twenty years after--it
recorded that Yorkshire was still an almost unpeopled wilderness. While
William was venting his wrath on the unfortunate Northumbrians, the
Danish king, instead of aiding the insurgents, sailed up the Nen to
Peterborough, and sacked its great abbey, the pride of the Fenland;
this act completely ruined the already failing cause of the English,
who would not trust the Danes any longer.

[Sidenote: =Final subjugation of the west--Hereward the Wake.=]

Meanwhile William marched at mid-winter through the snow-covered
heights of the Peakland, from York to Chester, to crush out the last
smouldering fires of the insurrection on the North-Welsh border.
Cheshire and Shropshire bowed before him, and there was then nothing
left of the English hosts, save a few scattered bands of fugitives.
Waltheof, the leader of the rebellion, submitted to the king, and, to
the surprise of all men, was pardoned and restored to his earldom.
The Danes returned to Denmark, bribed by William to depart (1070).
But the last remnants of the English gathered themselves together in
the Fenland under Hereward the Wake, a Lincolnshire man, the most
active and undaunted warrior of his day, Hereward fortified himself
in an entrenched camp on the Isle of Ely, in the heart of the Fens,
and defied the king to reduce him. For more than a year he held his
own, and beat off every attack, though William brought up thousands of
men and built vast causeways across the marshes in order to approach
Hereward's camp of refuge.

[Sidenote: =End of Eadwine and Morcar.--Hereward pardoned.=]

It was at this moment, when the Isle of Ely was the only spot in
England that was not in William's hands, that the foolish and selfish
earls Eadwine and Morcar thought proper to rebel and take arms against
the Normans. They had long lost all influence, even among their own
followers, and were crushed with ease. Eadwine fell in a skirmish;
Morcar escaped almost alone to Hereward's camp. Soon afterwards that
stronghold fell, betrayed to William by the monks of Ely (1071).
Hereward escaped, but most of his followers were captured. The king
blinded or mutilated many of them, and put Morcar in close prison for
the rest of his life. But he offered pardon to Hereward, as he had to
Waltheof, for he loved an open foe. The "Last of the English" accepted
his terms, was given some estates in Warwickshire, and is found serving
with William's army in France a year later.

The English never rose again; their spirit was crushed; ruined by their
own disunion and by the selfishness of their leaders, they felt unable
to cope any longer with the stern King William. Any trouble that he
met in his later years was not due to native rebellions, but to the
turbulence and disloyalty of his own Norman followers. Those of the
English who could not bear the yoke patiently, fled to foreign lands,
many to the court of Scotland, where Queen Margaret, the sister of the
Etheling Eadgar, made them welcome; some even as far as Constantinople,
to enlist in the "Varangian guard" of the Eastern emperor.

[Sidenote: =The monarchy feudalized.--Villeinage.=]

In the fifteen years that followed, William recast the whole fabric
of the English society and constitution, changing the realm into a
feudal monarchy of the continental type. Even before the Conquest the
tendency of the day had been towards feudalism, as is shown by the
excessive predominance of the great earls in the days of Aethelred
the Ill-counselled and Edward the Confessor, and by the decreasing
importance of the smaller freeholders. As early as Eadgar's time a law
bade all men below the rank of thegn to "find themselves a lord, who
should be responsible for them;" that is, to commend themselves to
one of their greater neighbours by a tie of personal homage. But the
old-English tie of vassalage, though it placed the small freeholders in
personal dependence on the thegns, left them their land as their own,
and allowed a man to transfer his allegiance from one lord to another.
When, however, the English thegnhood had fallen on Senlac Hill, or had
lost their manors for joining in the rebellion of 1069, the condition
of their former dependents was much changed for the worse. The Norman
knights, who replaced the thegns, knew only the continental form of
feudal tenure, where the land, as well as the personal obedience of
the vassal, was deemed to belong to the lord. So the English _ceorls_,
who had been the owners of their own land, though they did homage to
some thegn for their persons, were reduced to the lower condition of
_villeinage_--that is, they were regarded as tilling the lord's land as
tenants, and receiving it from him, in return for a rent in service or
in money due to him. And instead of the land being considered to belong
to the farmer, the farmer was now considered to belong to the land;
that is, he was bound to remain on it and till it, unless his lord gave
him permission to depart, being _glebae ascriptus_, bound to the soil,
though he could not, on the other hand, be dispossessed of his farm,
or sold away like a slave. The condition of the _villein_ was at its
very worst in William's reign, because the burden was newly imposed,
and because the Norman masters, who had just taken possession of the
English manors, were foreigners who did not comprehend a word of their
tenants' speech, or understand their customs and habits. They felt
nothing but contempt for the conquered race, whom they regarded as mere
barbarians; and hard as was the letter of the feudal law, they made it
worse by adding insult to mere oppression. They crushed their vassals
by incessant _tallages_, or demands for money over and above the rent
in money or service that was due, and allowed their Norman stewards and
underlings to maltreat the peasantry as much as they chose. It should
be remembered also that, evil though the plight of the villein might
be, there were others even more unhappy than he, since there were many
among the peasantry who were actually slaves, and could be bought and
sold like cattle. These were the class who represented the original
_theows_ or slaves of the old English social system.

[Sidenote: =Predominance of the crown.=]

Feudalism, then, so far as it meant the complete subjection of the
peasant, both in body and in land, to the lord of his manor, was
perfected in England by the Norman conquest. But there was another
aspect of the feudal system, as it existed on the continent, which
England was fortunate enough to escape. The crowning misery of the
other lands of Western Europe was that the king's power in them had
grown so weak, that he could not protect his subjects against the earls
and barons who were their immediate lords. In France, for example, the
king could not exercise the simplest royal rights in the land of his
greater vassals, such as the Duke of Normandy or the Count of Anjou.
All regal functions, from the coining of money to the holding of
courts of justice, had passed to the great vassals. Even when a count
or duke rebelled and declared war against the king, his liegemen were
considered bound to follow their master and take part in his treason.
Now William was determined that this abuse should never take root in
England. He was careful not to allow any of his subjects to grow too
strong; in distributing the lands of England he invariably scattered
the possessions of each of his followers, so that no one man had any
great district entirely in his hands. He gave his favourites land in
eight or ten different counties, but in each they only possessed a
fraction of the whole. There were only three exceptions to this rule.
He created "palatine earls" in Cheshire, Shropshire, and Durham, who
had the whole shire in their hands, and were allowed to hold their own
courts of justice and raise the taxation of the district, like the
counts of the continent. These exceptional grants were made because
they were frontier shires, and the earls were intended to be bulwarks
against the king's enemies--Chester and Shropshire against the Welsh,
and Durham against the Scots.

[Sidenote: =The sheriffs.=]

In the rest of England the king kept the local government entirely
in his own hands, using the sheriffs (shire-reeves), who had existed
since the early days of the kings of Wessex, as his deputies. It was
the sheriff who raised the taxes, led the military levy of the shire
to war, and presided in the law courts of the district. The sheriffs,
whom the king nominated as men whom he could completely trust, were the
chief check on the earls and barons. Their office was not hereditary;
they were purely dependent on the king, and he displaced them at his
pleasure. By their means, William kept the government of England
entirely in his own hands, and never allowed his greater vassals to
trench upon his royal rights.

[Sidenote: =Doctrine of direct allegiance to the crown.=]

William also enunciated a most important doctrine, which clashed with
the continental theory of feudalism. He insisted that every man's duty
to the king outweighed that to his immediate feudal suzerain. If any
lord opposed the king and bade his vassals follow him, the vassals
would be committing high treason if they consented to do so. Their
allegiance to the crown was more binding than that which they owed to
their local baron or earl.

Although, then, the Norman conquest turned England into a feudal
hierarchy, where the villein did homage to the knight, the knight to
the earl, the earl to the king, yet the strength of the royal power
gained rather than lost by the change. William was far more the master
of his barons than was St. Edward of his great earls like Godwine or
Siward. And this was not merely owing to the fact that William was
a strong and Edward a weak man, but much more to the new political
arrangements of the realm. William never allowed an earl to rule more
than one shire, while Godwine or Leofric had ruled six or seven.
William's sheriffs were a firm check on the local magnates, while
Edward's had been no more than the king's local bailiffs. Moreover,
there were many counties where William made no earl at all, and where
his sheriff was therefore the sole representative of authority.

[Sidenote: =The Great Council.=]

The kingly power, too, was as much strengthened in the central as in
the local government. The Saxon Witan had represented the nation as
opposed to the king: it had an existence independent of him, and we
have even seen it depose kings. The Norman "Great Council," on the
other hand, which superseded the Witan,[8] was simply the assembly of
the king's vassals called up by him to give him advice. Though the
class of persons who were summoned to it was much the same as those
who had appeared at the Witan--bishops, earls, and so forth--yet they
now came, not as "the wise men of England," but as the king's personal
vassals, his "tenants-in-chief." All who held land directly from the
crown might appear if they chose, but as a matter of fact it was only
the greater men who came; the knights and other small freeholders would
not as a rule visit an assembly where their importance was small and
their advice was not asked.

[Sidenote: =William and the Church.--Ecclesiastical Courts.=]

William's hand was felt almost as much by the Church as by the State.
He began by clearing away, one after another, all the English bishops;
Wulfstan of Worcester, a simple old man of very holy life, was ere
long the sole survivor of the old hierarchy. Their places were filled
by Normans and other foreigners, the primatial seat of Canterbury
being placed in the hands of Lanfranc of Pavia, a learned Italian
monk who had long been a royal chaplain, and had afterwards been
made Abbot of Bec; he was always the best and most merciful of the
king's counsellors. William and Lanfranc brought England into closer
touch with the continental Church than had been known in earlier
days. This was but natural when we remember that it was with the
Pope's blessing and under his consecrated banner that the land had
been conquered. The new Norman bishops continued Dunstan's old policy
of favouring the monks at the expense of the secular clergy, and of
establishing everywhere strict rules of clerical discipline. Their
stern asceticism was not without its use, for the English clergy had
of late grown somewhat lax in life, and unspiritual and worldly in
their aims. It was with Lanfranc's aid that William took a step in the
organization of the Church that was destined to be a sore trouble to
his successors in later days. Hitherto offences against the law of the
Church had been tried in the secular courts, and this was not felt
to be a grievance by the clergy, because the bishops and abbots both
sat in the Witan and attended the meetings of the local shire courts,
where such offences--bigamy, for example, or perjury, or witchcraft,
or heresy--were tried. But William and Lanfranc now gave the bishops
separate Church courts of their own, and withdrew the inquiry into
all ecclesiastical cases from the king's court. Though William did
not grasp the fact, he was thus erecting an institution which might
easily turn against the royal power, as the ecclesiastical judges in
their new courts were not under the control of the crown, and had no
reason to consult the king's interests. But in William's own time the
Church-courts gave no trouble, for they had not yet learnt their power,
and the bishops dreaded the king's arm too much to offend him. For
William was no slave of the Church; when Pope Gregory VII. bade him do
homage to the papacy for his English crown, because he had won England
under the papal blessing, he sturdily refused. He announced also that
he would outlaw any cleric who carried appeals or complaints to Rome
without his permission, and he forbade the clergy to excommunicate any
one of his knights for any ecclesiastical offence, unless the royal
permission were first obtained.

[Sidenote: =Rebellion of Earls of Norfolk and Hereford.--Execution of

We have already mentioned the fact that in the last fifteen years of
his reign William had little or no trouble with his English subjects.
But his life was far from being an easy one; he had both foreign
enemies to meet and a turbulent baronage to keep down. Many of the
new earls and barons were not born subjects of William, but Flemings,
French, or Bretons, who looked upon him as merely the chief partner
in their common enterprise of the conquest of England; even among
the Normans themselves many were turbulent and disloyal. Within ten
years of the Conquest, the king had to take arms against a rebellion
of some of his own followers. Ralf, Earl of Norfolk, and Roger, Earl
of Hereford, took counsel against him, and tried to enlist in their
plot Waltheof, the last surviving English Earl. "Let one of us be
king, and the two others great dukes, and so rule all England," was
their suggestion to him, when they had gathered all their friends
together under the pretence of Earl Ralf's marriage feast. Waltheof
refused to join the rebellion, but thought himself in honour bound not
to disclose the conspiracy to the king. When the two earls took arms
they soon found that William was too strong for them. Ralf fled over
sea; Roger was taken and imprisoned for life. Of their followers, some
were blinded and some banished. But the hardest measure was dealt out
to Earl Waltheof, whose only crime had been his silence. William was
anxious to get rid of the last great English territorial magnate; he
tried Waltheof for treason before the Great Council, and, when he was
condemned, had him at once executed at Winchester (1076). His earldoms
of Northampton and Huntingdon were, however, allowed to pass to his
daughter, who married a Norman, Simon of St. Liz.

[Sidenote: =Rebellion of William's son Robert.=]

Some few years after the abortive rising of Ralf and Roger, the king
found worse enemies in his own household. His eldest son and heir,
Robert, began to importune him to grant him some of his lands to rule,
and begged for the duchy of Normandy. But William was wroth, and drove
him away with words of sarcastic reproof. The headstrong young man
fled from his father's court and took refuge with Philip, the French
king, William's nominal suzerain. Supported by money and men from
France, Robert made war upon his father, and defeated him at the fight
of Gerberoi (1079). Both father and son rode in the forefront of the
battle. They met without knowing each other, and William was unhorsed
and wounded by his son's lance. Only the courage of an English thegn,
Tokig of Wallingford, who gave his horse to his fallen master, and
received a mortal wound while helping him to make off, saved William
from death. It must be added that Robert was deeply moved when he
learnt how near he had been to slaying his own father, and then he
immediately after sought pardon, and received it. But he had lost the
first place in the king's heart, which was given to his second son
William, whose fidelity was always unshaken. Robert was not the only
kinsman of the Conqueror who justly incurred his wrath. His brother
Bishop Odo angered him sorely by his cruel and oppressive treatment
of Northumbria, and still more by raising a private army to make war
over-seas; William seized him and kept him shut up in prison as long as
he lived.

[Sidenote: =Threatened Danish invasion.=]

Disputes with foreign powers also arose to vex William's later years.
In 1084, Cnut, King of Denmark, threatened to invade the island, and
such a heavy _Danegelt_ was raised to pay the mercenary army which the
king levied against him, that it is said that no such grievous tax had
ever before been raised in England. Yet Cnut never came, being slain by
his own people ere he sailed. Less threatening, but more perpetually
troublesome than the danger of a Danish invasion, were William's
broils with Philip of France, who even in time of peace was always
stirring up strife. But Philip, though nominally ruler of all France,
was practically too weak to cope with William, since his authority was
quietly disregarded by most of the counts and dukes who owned him as
liege lord.

[Sidenote: =Domesday Book.=]

It was probably the difficulty that had been found in raising men and
money to resist the expected Danish invasion of 1084, that led William
to order the compilation of the celebrated _Domesday Book_ in 1085.
This great statistical account of the condition of England was drawn up
by commissioners sent down into every shire to make inquiry into its
resources, population, and ownership. Therein was set down the name
of every landholder, with the valuation of his manors, and an account
of the service and money due from him to the king. It did not give
merely a rent-roll of the estates, but a complete enumeration of the
population, divided up by status into tenants-in-chief of the crown,
sub-tenants who held under these greater landowners, burgesses of
towns, free "_sokmen_," villeins, and serfs of lower degrees. Under
each manor was given not only the name of its present holder and its
actual value, but also a notice of its proprietor in the time of King
Edward the Confessor, and of its value at Edward's death. This enables
us to form an exact estimate of the change in the ownership of the
lands of England brought about by the Conquest. We see that of the
great English earls and magnates not a single one survived; all their
lands had been confiscated and given away at one time or another. Of
the thegns of lower degree some still retained their land, and had
become the king's tenants-in-chief; many had sunk into sub-tenants of a
Norman baron, instead of holding their estate directly from the crown;
but still more had lost their heritage altogether. In some counties,
especially in the south-east, where the whole thegnhood had fallen at
Hastings, hardly a single English proprietor survived. In others, such
for example as Wiltshire or Nottingham, a large proportion of the old
owners remained; but, on the whole, we gather that three-quarters of
the acreage of England must have changed masters between 1066 and 1085.
We discover also that while some parts of England had suffered little
in material prosperity from the troublous times of the Conquest, others
had been completely ruined. Yorkshire shows the worst record, a result
of William's cruel harrying of the land in 1070; manor after manor is
recorded as "waste," and the whole county shows a population less by
far than that of the small shire of Berks.

[Sidenote: =The great Moot of Salisbury.=]

Having ascertained by the completion of Domesday Book the exact names,
status, and obligations of all the landholders of England, William
used his knowledge to bid them all come to the Great Moot of Salisbury
in 1086, where every landed proprietor, whether tenant-in-chief or
sub-tenant, did personal homage to the king, and swore to follow him in
all wars, even against his own feudal superior if need should so arise.

[Sidenote: =Death of William.=]

Two years after the compilation of the Domesday survey, and one year
after the Great Oath of Salisbury, the troubled and busy reign of
William came to an end. The king died, as he had lived, amid the alarms
of war. He was always at odds with his suzerain, the King of France,
since Philip had done him the evil turn of encouraging the rebellion
of his son Robert. In 1087, William was lying ill at Rouen, when
the report of a coarse jest that Philip had made on his increasing
corpulence raised him in wrath from his sick-bed. He headed in person a
raid into France, and sacked the town of Mantes, but while he watched
his men burn the place, the king came to deadly harm. His horse,
singed by a blazing beam, reared and plunged so that William received
severe internal injuries from being thrown against the high pommel of
his saddle. He was borne back to Rouen, and died there, deserted by
well-nigh all his knights and attendants, who had rushed off in haste
when they saw his death draw near. Even his burial was unseemly: when
his corpse was borne to the abbey at Caen, which he had founded, a
certain knight withstood the funeral procession, crying that the ground
where the abbey stood had been forcibly taken from him by the king. Nor
would he depart till the estimated value of the land had been paid over
to him.

Thus ended King William, a man prudent, untiring, and brave, and one
who was pious and just according to his own lights, for he governed
Church and State as one who deemed that he had an account to render
for his deeds. But he was so unscrupulous in his ambition, so ruthless
in sweeping away all who stood in his path, so much a stranger to pity
and mercy, that he was feared rather than loved by his subjects, Norman
as well as English. No man could pardon such acts as his harrying of
Yorkshire, or forget his cruel forest laws, which inflicted death or
mutilation on all who interfered with his royal pleasure of the chase.
"He loved the tall deer as if he was their father," it was said, and
ill did it fare with the unhappy subject who came between him and the
favoured beasts. England has had many kings who were worse men than
William the Bastard, but never one who brought her more sorrow, from
the moment that he set foot on the shore of Sussex down to the day of
his death.


                        WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR,
      |            |           |                       |
   Robert,   WILLIAM II.,  HENRY I., = Matilda of    Adela = Stephen of
   Duke of    1087-1100.  1100-1135. | Scotland.           |   Blois.
  Normandy.                          |                     |
      |                              |                     |
   William                           |                     |
    Clito.                           |                     |
         +--------+------------------+                 +---+-----+
         |        |                                    |         |
      William.  Matilda = (1) Henry V., Emperor.   STEPHEN,    Henry,
                        | (2) Geoffrey of Anjou.  1135-1154.  Bishop of
                        |                             |      Winchester.
                        |                       +-----+----+
        Eleanor of = HENRY II.,                 |          |
        Aquitaine. | 1154-1189.              Eustace.   William.
     |             |           |                         |
  Henry the   RICHARD I.,  Geoffrey = Constance of     JOHN,
  Younger.    1189-1199.            |  Brittany.     1199-1216.
                                    |                    |
                            Arthur of Brittany.          |
                            |                    |
                        HENRY III.,     Richard of Cornwall,
                        1216-1272.      King of the Romans.
                            |                    |
                         EDWARD I.       Henry of Cornwall.


[8] The native English writers, for some time after the Conquest,
continued to call it the Witan, merely because they had as yet found no
other name for it.




The eighty years which followed the death of William the Conqueror
were spent in the solution of the problem which he had left behind
him. William had brought over to England two principles of conflicting
tendency--the one that of strong monarchical government, where
everything depends on the king; the other that of feudal anarchy.
He himself had been able to control the turbulent horde of military
adventurers among whom he had distributed the lands of England, but
would his sons be equally successful? We have now to see how two
strong-handed kings kept down the monster of feudal rebellion; how one
weak king's reign sufficed to put the monarchy in the gravest danger;
and how, finally, William's great-grandson quelled the unruly baronage
so that it was never again a serious danger for the rest of England's
national life.

[Sidenote: =William's sons.=]

William had left behind him three sons. To Robert the eldest, the rebel
of 1079, he had bequeathed, not the English crown, but his own ancient
heritage of Normandy. William the Red, the second son, who had always
been his father's loyal helper, was to be King of England. Henry, the
youngest son, was left only a legacy of £5000; the Conqueror would not
parcel out his dominions any further, but said that his latest-born was
too capable a man not to make his own way in the world.

[Sidenote: =Risings of the barons.--Loyalty of the English.=]

William the Red hurried over to England the moment that the breath
was out of his father's body, and was duly crowned by Lanfranc
the archbishop. But it was no easy heritage that he took up; the
Conqueror's death was the instant signal for the outbreak of feudal
anarchy. All the more turbulent of the Norman barons and bishops,
headed by Odo of Bayeux, who had just been released from prison, took
arms, garrisoned their castles, and began to harass their neighbours.
They made it their pretext that Duke Robert, as the eldest son, ought
to succeed his father in all his dominions; but their true reason
for espousing his cause was that Robert was known to be a weak and
shiftless personage, under whose rule every great man would be able to
do whatever he might please. In order to defeat this rising William
the Red took the bold step of throwing himself upon the loyalty of the
native English. He summoned out the militia of the shires, proclaiming
that every man who did not follow his king to the field should be held
_nithing_, a worthless coward, and promising that he would lighten his
father's heavy yoke and rule with a gentle and merciful hand. The fyrd
turned out in unexpected strength and loyalty, and with its aid William
put down all the Norman rebels, and drove them out of the realm. Duke
Robert, who had prepared to come to their aid, was too late, and had to
return to his duchy foiled and shamed.

[Sidenote: =Character and policy of William II.=]

William's promise that he would be a good and easy lord to his subjects
was not kept for long. The new king was in all things an evil copy
of his father: he had William's courage and ability, but none of
his better moral qualities; he had no sense of justice, and was not
restrained by any religious scruples. He was, indeed, an open atheist,
and scoffed at all forms of religion, scornfully observing that he
would become a Jew if it was made worth his while. Moreover, his
private life was infamous, and no man who cared for honour or purity
could abide at his court.

Nevertheless, his government was far more tolerable than the anarchy
of baronial rule would have been. If he sheared his subjects close
himself, he took care that no one else should molest them, and one bad
master is always better than many. Under him England was cruelly taxed,
and many isolated acts of oppression were committed, but he put down
civil war, overcame his foreign enemies, and ruled victoriously for all
his days.

[Sidenote: =War with Scotland.--Cumberland finally becomes English.=]

Of William's exploits, those which were the most profitable for the
peace of England were his enterprises against the Scots and the Welsh.
Malcolm Canmore, though he had done homage to William I., repeatedly
led armies into England against William's son. In this first Scottish
war the Red King, though his fleet was destroyed by a storm, compelled
Malcolm to submit, and took from him the city of Carlisle and the
district of Cumberland. This land, the southern half of the old Welsh
principality of Strathclyde, had been tributary to the Scots ever since
King Edmund granted it to Malcolm I. in 945. It now became an English
county and bishopric, and the border of England was fixed at the
Solway, and no longer at the hills of the Lake District (1092). Only a
year later the Scottish king again invaded England, but was slain at
Alnwick. He ran into an ambush which the Earl of Northumberland laid
for him, and fell; with him died his son Edward and the best of his
knights. The Scottish crown passed, after much fighting and contention,
to Eadgar, Malcolm's second son by his English wife Margaret, the
sister of Eadgar the Etheling. This prince, trained up by his pious
and able mother, and aided and counselled by his uncle the Etheling,
was the first King of Scotland who spoke English as his native tongue,
and made the Lowlands his favourite abode. He surrounded himself
with English followers, and ceased to be a mere Celtic lord of the
Highlands, as his fathers had been.

[Sidenote: =South Wales partly occupied by the Normans.=]

William the Red's arms were as successful against Wales as against
Scotland. During his reign the southern half of the land of the Cymry
was overrun by Norman barons, who won for themselves new lordships
beyond the Wye and Severn, and did homage for them to the king. Many of
these adventurers married into the families of the South Welsh princes,
and became the inheritors of their local power. In North Wales the
Normans pushed across the Dee, and built great castles at Rhuddlan and
Flint and Montgomery, but they could not win the mountainous districts
about Snowdon, where the native chiefs still maintained a precarious

[Sidenote: =William obtains possession of Normandy.=]

Beyond the British seas William waged constant war with his brother
Robert, and always had the better of his elder, for the duke, though a
brave soldier, was a very incapable ruler, and lost by his shiftless
negligence all that he gained by his sword. He was forced in 1091
to cede several of his towns to William, and to promise to make him
his heir if he should die without male issue. But in 1096 the king
gained possession of the whole, and not a mere fraction, of the Norman
duchy. For Robert, seized with a sudden access of piety and a spirit
of wandering and unrest, vowed to go off to the First Crusade, which
was then being preached. In order to get the money to fit out a large
army, he unwisely mortgaged the whole of his lands to his grasping
brother for the very moderate sum of £6666. So William ruled Normandy
for a space, and Robert went off with half the baronage of Western
Christendom, to deliver the Holy Sepulchre from the Turks, and to
set up a Christian kingdom in Palestine. Among his companions were
the Etheling Eadgar, and many Englishmen more. The duke fought so
gallantly against the infidel that the Crusaders offered him the crown
of Jerusalem; but he would have none of it, and set his face homeward
after four years of absence (1099).

[Sidenote: =William's extortions.--Quarrel with the Church.--Anselm.=]

King William meanwhile had been ruling both England and Normandy with
a high hand. He and his favourite minister, Ralf Flambard, had been
devising all manner of new ways for raising money. When a tenant of
the crown died, they would not let his son or heir succeed to his
estate till he had paid an extortionate fine to the king. When a
bishop or an abbot died, they kept his place empty for months--or
even for years--and confiscated all the revenues of the see or abbey
during the vacancy. It was on this question that there broke out the
celebrated quarrel between William the Red and Archbishop Anselm. When
Lanfranc, his father's wise counsellor, died in 1089, the king left the
see of Canterbury unfilled for nearly four years, and embezzled its
revenues. But, being stricken with illness in 1093, he had a moment
of compunction, and filled up the archbishopric by appointing Anselm,
Abbot of Bec. Anselm, like his predecessor Lanfranc, was a learned
and pious Italian monk, who had governed his Norman abbey so well
that he won the respect of all his neighbours. He was only persuaded
with difficulty to accept the position of head of the English Church.
"Will you couple me, a poor weak old sheep, to that fierce young
bull the King of England?" he asked, when the bishops came to offer
him the primacy. But they forced the pastoral staff into his hands,
and hurried him off to be installed. When William recovered from his
sickness he began to ask large sums of money from Anselm, in return
for the piece of preferment that he had received. The king called
this exacting his feudal dues, but the archbishop called it _simony_,
the ancient crime of Simon Magus, who offered gold to the apostles
to buy spiritual privileges. He sent £500, but when the king asked
for more, utterly refused to comply. From this time forth there was
constant strife between William and Anselm, the first beginning of that
intermittent war between the crown and the Church which was to last
for more than two centuries. The archbishop was always withstanding
the king. When two popes disputed the tiara at Rome, William refused
to acknowledge either; but Anselm would not allow that there was
any doubt, did homage to Urban, and thus forced the king's hand by
committing England to one side in the dispute. When Urban sent over to
Anselm the _pall_,[9] the sign of his metropolitan jurisdiction over
the island, the king wished to deliver it to the archbishop with his
own hands. But Anselm vowed that this was receiving spiritual things
from a secular master, and would not take it save with his own hands
and from the high altar of Canterbury Cathedral. Nor did he cease
denouncing the ill living of the king and his courtiers, till William
grew so wrath that he would have slain him, had not all England revered
the fearless archbishop as a saint. At last he found a way of molesting
Anselm under form of law: he declared that the lands of the see of
Canterbury had not sent an adequate feudal contingent to his Welsh
wars, and imposed enormous fines on the archbishop for a breach of his
duties as a tenant-in-chief of the crown. Soon afterwards Anselm left
the realm, abandoning the king to his own devices as incorrigible, and
took his way to Pope Urban at Rome; nor did he return till William was

[Sidenote: =Death of William II.=]

The end of the Red King was sudden and tragic. He was hunting in the
New Forest--the great tract in Hampshire which his father had cleared
of its inhabitants and turned into one vast deer-park--and he had
chanced to draw apart from all his followers save Walter Tyrrel, one
of his chief favourites. A great hart came bounding between them. The
king loosed an arrow at it, and missed; "Shoot, Walter, shoot in the
devil's name!" he cried. Tyrrel shot in haste, but missed the stag and
pierced his master to the heart. Leaving William dead on the ground, he
galloped off to the shore and took ship for the continent. William's
corpse lay lost in the wood till a charcoal-burner came upon it next
day, and bore it in his cart to Winchester. Such was the strange
funeral procession of the lord of England and Normandy. William's death
grieved none save his favourites and boon companions, for his manner of
living was hateful to all good men, and his taxes and extortions had
turned from him the hearts of all his subjects (August 2, 1100).

[Sidenote: =Election of Henry I.--His charter.=]

When the throne of England was thus suddenly left vacant, it remained
to be seen who would become William's successor. His elder brother
Robert, whom the baronage would have preferred, because of his
slackness and easy ways, was still far away, on his return journey
from the Crusade. But Henry, his younger brother, was on the spot, and
knew how to take advantage of the opportunity. Hastily assembling the
few members of the Great Council who were near at hand, he prevailed
upon them by bribes or promises to elect him king, and was proclaimed
at Winchester only three days after William's death, and long before
the news that the throne was vacant had reached the turbulent barons
of the North and West. After his proclamation at Winchester, Henry
moved to London, and there was crowned. He did his best to win the good
opinion of all his subjects by issuing a charter of promises to the
nation, wherein he bound himself to abide by "the laws of Edward the
Confessor," that is, the ancient customs of England, and not to ask of
any man more than his due share of taxation--agreeing to abandon the
arbitrary and illegal fines on succession to heritages which William
II. had always exacted. He then proceeded to fill up all the abbeys and
bishoprics which William had kept vacant for his own profit, to recall
Anselm from his exile, and to cast into prison Ralf Flambard,[10] the
chief instrument of his brother's oppression and extortions.

[Sidenote: =War with the baronage.=]

Henry's conciliatory measures were not taken a moment too soon. He had
but just time to announce his good intentions, and to give some earnest
of his desire to carry them out, when he found himself involved in a
desperate civil war. The barons had broken loose, headed by Robert
of Belesme, the turbulent Earl of Shrewsbury, and they were set on
making Duke Robert King of England. Robert, indeed, had just returned
from Palestine, and had retaken possession of his duchy shortly after
his brother's death. He planned an invasion of England to assist his
partisans, and began to collect an army.

But the new king was too much for his shiftless brother. When Robert
landed at Portsmouth, he bought him off for a moment by offering him a
tribute of £3000, an irresistible bribe to the impecunious duke, and
then used his opportunity to crush the rebellious barons. The fate
of the rising was settled by the next summer. Gathering together the
English shire levies and those of the baronage who were faithful to
him, the king marched against Robert of Belesme and his associates.
The successful sieges of Arundel and Bridgenorth decided the war:
Robert was forced to surrender, and granted his life on condition of
forfeiting his estates and leaving the realm. "Rejoice, King Henry, for
now may you truly say that you are lord of England," cried the English
levies to their monarch, "since you have put down Robert of Belesme,
and driven him out of the bounds of your kingdom" (1101).

[Sidenote: =Marriage of Henry to Matilda of Scotland.=]

So Henry retained the crown that he had seized, and set to work to
strengthen his position in the land. He did his best to conciliate
the native English by marrying, five months after his accession, a
princess of the old royal house of King Alfred. The lady was Eadgyth,
or Matilda as the Normans re-named her, the daughter of Malcolm, the
King of Scotland and of Margaret, the sister of Eadgar the Etheling.
So the issue of King Henry, and all his descendants who sat on the
English throne, had the blood of the ancient kings of Wessex in their
veins. Some of the Normans mocked at this marriage, and at the anxiety
which Henry showed to please his native-born subjects, and nicknamed
him "Godric," an English name which sounded uncouth to their own ears.
But the king heeded not, when he got so much solid advantage from his
conduct, and the prosperity of his reign justified his wisdom.

[Sidenote: =Fusion of English and Norman races.=]

Henry showed himself his father's true son, reproducing the good as
well as the evil qualities of the Conqueror. He had the advantage
over his father of having been born in England, and of living in
a generation when the first bitterness of the strife of races was
beginning to be assuaged. If he was selfish and hard-hearted and often
cruel, yet he dispensed even-handed justice, curbed all oppressors,
and kept to the letter of the law. He made so little difference
between Norman and Englishman that the two races soon began to melt
together: intermarriage between them became common in all classes save
the highest nobility; the English thegns and yeomen began to christen
their children by Norman names, while the Anglo-Normans began to learn
English, and to draw apart from their kindred beyond the sea in the
old duchy. Thirty years after Henry's death, it was remarked by a
contemporary writer that no man could say that he was either Norman
or English, so much had the two races become intermingled. Much of
the benefit of this happy union must be laid to the credit of Henry
himself, who both set the example of wedding a wife of English blood,
and treated all his men of either race as equal before his eyes. Nor
was he averse to granting a larger measure of liberty to his subjects:
his charter to the city of London, issued in 1100, was a very liberal
grant of self-government to the burghers of his capital, and served
as a model ever after to his successors when they gave privileges to
their town-dwelling liegemen. He allowed the Londoners to raise their
own taxes, to choose their own sheriffs, and to make bye-laws for their
municipal government.

[Sidenote: =Character of Henry.=]

But Henry's character had a bad side: he was at times as ruthlessly
cruel as his father; he punished not only rebellion, but theft and
offences against the forest laws, by death, or blinding, or mutilation.
Once, when he found that the workmen of his mints had conspired
together to issue base coins, he struck off the right hand of every
moneyer in England. We shall see that he was capable of holding his
own brother in close prison for thirty years. He was as grasping
and avaricious as his predecessor William, though he was much less
arbitrary and harsh in his exactions. His private life, though not a
patent scandal like that of the Red King, was open to grave reproach.
Above all things he was selfish; his own advantage was his aim, and
if he governed the land wisely and justly, it was mainly because he
thought that wisdom and justice were the best policy for himself.

[Sidenote: =Strength of the monarchy.--=]

Henry's long reign (1100-1135) was more noteworthy for the tendencies
which were at work in it, than for the particular events which mark
its individual years. It is mainly important as the time of the silent
growth together of Norman and English, and the stereotyping of the
constitution on a strong monarchical basis. In his day the king was
everything, and the Great Council of tenants-in-chief was no check on
him, and did little more than register his decrees. If his successors
had all been like himself, England might have become a pure despotism,
though one well ordered and--considering the lights of the times--not
oppressively administered.

[Sidenote: =Fresh disputes with the Church.=]

The strife between the monarchy and the Church, which had first taken
shape in the quarrel of William Rufus and Anselm, continued in Henry's
time, but raged on a new point of issue. When the archbishop returned
from exile, he refused to take the usual oath of homage, and to be
reinvested in his see by the new king, alleging that, as a spiritual
person, he owed fealty to God alone, and received all his power and
authority from God, and not from the king. This new and strange
doctrine he had picked up in Rome during his exile: the papacy was at
this time putting forth those monstrous claims to dominion over kings
and princes with which it had been inspired a few years before by the
imperious Hildebrand (Pope Gregory VII.). Henry could only reply that,
though the archbishop was a spiritual person, he was also a great
tenant-in-chief, holding vast estates, and that for them he must do
homage to the crown, like all other feudal landowners. Anselm refused,
and there the matter stood still, for neither would yield, though they
treated each other courteously enough, and did not indulge in the
angry recrimination which had been wont to take place when Rufus was
in Henry's place. Anselm even went into exile again for a space. But
at last he and the king met at Bec, in Normandy, in 1106, and hit on a
wise compromise, which they agreed to apply both to Anselm's case and
to all future investitures of bishops. The newly elected prelate was to
do homage, as a feudal tenant, for the estates of his see; but he was
not to receive the symbols of his spiritual authority from the king,
but was to take up his ring and crozier from the high altar of his
cathedral, as direct gifts from God. This decision served as a model
for the agreement between the Pope and the empire, when fourteen years
later the "Contest about Investiture," as this widespread dispute was
called, was brought to an end on the continent.

[Sidenote: =Wars with Duke Robert.--Partial conquest of Normandy.=]

The chief incidents in the foreign relations of Henry's reign are
his long wars with his shiftless brother Robert, and afterwards with
Robert's son, William Clito. He had never forgiven the duke for his
attempt to dethrone him by the aid of rebels in 1099; nor did the duke
ever forgive him for having so promptly seized England at the moment
of the death of William II. The peace which they had made in 1100 did
not endure, and a long series of hostilities at last culminated in the
battle of Tinchebrai (1106). Here Henry, who had invaded Normandy,
completely defeated his brother and took him prisoner. He sent the
unfortunate Robert to strict confinement in Cardiff Castle, and kept
him there all the days of his life. For the rest of his reign Henry
ruled Normandy as well as England, but his dominion in the duchy was
very precarious. The baronage hated his strong hand and his strict
enforcement of the law. They often rebelled against him, but he never
failed to subdue them. When William, surnamed Clito, the son of the
imprisoned duke, grew towards man's estate, he had no difficulty in
finding partisans in Normandy who would do their best to win him
back his father's heritage. Aided by the King of France, who was one
of Henry's most consistent enemies, William Clito made several bold
attempts to deprive his uncle of Normandy. He did not succeed, but
presently he became Count of Flanders, to which he had a claim through
his grandmother Matilda, the wife of William the Conqueror. Possessed
of this rich country, he grew to be a more serious danger to the
English king, but he fell in battle in 1128, while striving with some
Flemish rebels, and by his death Henry's position became unassailable.

[Sidenote: =Marriage of Princess Matilda to Geoffrey of Anjou.=]

The King of England was troubled with many other enemies beside William
Clito. Lewis VI. of France, and Fulk, Count of Anjou, were always
molesting him. But he gained or lost little by his long and dreary
border wars with them. The one noteworthy consequence of this strife
was that, to confirm a peace with Count Fulk, the king married his two
children to the son and daughter of the lord of Anjou. First, his son
William was wedded to the count's daughter (1119), and some years later
the Lady Matilda was married to Geoffrey, the count's son and heir

[Sidenote: =Death of Henry's son.--Matilda heiress to the throne.=]

The importance of this latter marriage lay in the fact that Prince
William had died in the intervening space, and that Matilda--a widowed
princess whose first husband had been the Emperor Henry V.--was now the
King of England's sole heiress. The end of her brother had been strange
and tragic: he was following his father from Normandy to England, when
a drunken skipper ran his vessel upon the reef of Catteville, only five
miles from the Norman shore. The prince was hurried by his followers
into the only boat that the ship possessed, and might have escaped, had
he not seen that his half-sister, the Countess of Perche,[11] had been
left behind. He bade the oarsmen put back, but when they reached the
ship, a crowd of panic-stricken passengers sprang down into the boat
and swamped it. The prince was drowned, and with him his half-brother
Richard, his half-sister the Countess of Perche, the Earl of Chester,
and many of the chief persons of the realm. Only one sailor-lad
survived to tell the sad tale of the White Ship. When the news of the
death of his only legitimate son reached the king, he was prostrated
by it for many days, and it was said that he was never seen to smile
again, though he lived for fifteen years after the disaster. But, if
the chronicles speak true, the death of William was more of a loss to
his father than to the realm, for they report him to have been a proud
and cruel youth, who bid fair to reproduce some of the evil qualities
of his uncle William Rufus.

Henry was determined that his realm should pass at his death to his
daughter Matilda, and not to any of his nephews, the sons of William
the Conqueror's daughters. But he knew that it would be a hard matter
to secure her succession, for England had never been ruled by a
queen-regnant, and it was very doubtful if the Great Council would
elect a woman. Moreover, the barons grudged that she should have been
married to a foreign count, for they had hoped that the king would have
given her hand to one of his own earls. Henry endeavoured to support
Matilda's cause by constraining all the chief men of the realm, and
his own kinsfolk, to take an oath to choose her as queen after his
death. But he well knew that oaths sworn under compulsion are lightly
esteemed, and must have foreseen that on his death his daughter would
have great difficulty in asserting her claims.

[Sidenote: =Complete conquest of South Wales.--Scotland.=]

But, trusting his daughter's fate to the future, Henry persevered
in his life's work, and left his kingdom behind him at his death in
1135 with a full treasury, an obedient baronage, and largely extended
borders. Not only had he won Normandy, but he had completed the
conquest of South Wales, and established large colonies of English and
Flemings about Pembroke and in the peninsula of Gower. With his three
brothers-in-law, who reigned in Scotland one after another, he dwelt
on friendly terms; they did him homage, and he left them unmolested.
They were wise princes who knew the value of peace, and under them the
Scotch kingdom advanced in civilization and wealth, and grew more and
more assimilated to its great southern neighbour.

On the 1st of December, 1135, King Henry died. Though a selfish and
unscrupulous man, he had been a good king, and the troubles which
followed his death soon taught the English how much they had owed to
his strong and ruthless hand.

[Sidenote: =Stephen elected king.=]

Immediately on the arrival of the news of his death, the Great Council
met at London. It was soon evident that many of its members thought
little of the oath that they had sworn ten years before. One after
another they declared that the reign of a queen would be unprecedented
and intolerable, and that a man must be chosen to rule over England.
Of the male members of the royal house the one who was best known in
England was Stephen of Blois, one of the late king's nephews, and the
son of Adela, a daughter of William I., who had wedded the Count of
Blois and Champagne. He had been the late king's favourite kinsman,
and had taken the oath to uphold Matilda's rights before any of the
lay members of the council. Now he lightly forgot his vow, and stood
forward as a candidate for the crown. Matilda was absent abroad, and
her husband Geoffrey of Anjou was much disliked, so that it was not
difficult for Henry, Bishop of Winchester, Stephen's younger brother,
to prevail on the majority of the magnates of the realm to reject her
claim. In spite of the murmurings of a large minority, Stephen was
chosen as king, and duly crowned at London, whose citizens liked him
well, and hailed his accession with shouts of joy.

[Sidenote: =Aims of the baronage.--Civil war begins.=]

They were soon to change their tone, for ere long Stephen began to
show that he was too weak for the task that he had undertaken. He was
a good-natured, impulsive, volatile man, who could never refuse a
friend's request, or keep an unspent penny in his purse. Save personal
courage, he had not one of the qualities of a successful king. The
baronage soon took the measure of Stephen's abilities, and saw that the
time had come for them to make a bold strike for that anarchical feudal
independence which was their dream. The name and cause of Matilda gave
them an excellent excuse for throwing up their allegiance, and doing
every man that which was right in his own eyes. The king put down a few
spasmodic rebellions, but more kept breaking out, till in the third
year of his reign a general explosion took place (1138). The cause of
the Lady Matilda was taken up by two honest partisans, her uncle David,
King of Scotland, and her half-brother Robert, Earl of Gloucester;[12]
but these two were aided by a host of turbulent self-seeking barons,
who craved nothing save an excuse for defying the king and plundering
their neighbours.

[Sidenote: =The Scottish invasion.--Battle of the Standard.=]

The Scot was the first to move; he crossed the Tweed with a great
army, giving out that he came to make King Stephen grant him justice
in the matter of the counties of Huntingdon and Northampton, which he
claimed as the heir of the long-dead Earl Waltheof.[13] But the wild
Highland clans that followed David ravaged Northumbria so cruelly that
the barons and yeomen of Yorkshire turned out in great wrath to strike
a blow for King Stephen. At Northallerton they barred the way of the
invaders, mustering under Thurstan, Archbishop of York, and the two
sheriffs of the county. They placed in their midst a car bearing the
consecrated standards of the three Yorkshire saints--St. Peter of York,
St. Wilfred of Ripon, and St. John of Beverley. Around it they stood
in serried ranks, and beat off again and again the wild charges of the
Highlanders and Galloway men who formed the bulk of King David's army.
More than 10,000 Scots fell, and Yorkshire was saved; but the war was
only just beginning (1138).

A few months after the Battle of the Standard the English partisans
of Matilda took arms, headed by her brother, Earl Robert. Gloucester,
Bristol, Hereford, Exeter, and most of the south-west of England at
once fell into their hands. Stephen did his best to make head against
them, by the aid of such of the baronage as adhered to him, and of
great bodies of plundering mercenaries raised in Flanders and France.
He bought off the opposition of the Scots by ceding Northumberland and
Cumberland to Henry, the son of King David, who was to hold them as his
vassal, and for the rest of Stephen's reign the two northern counties
were in Scottish hands.

[Sidenote: =Victory of Matilda at Lincoln.=]

But at this critical moment the king ruined his own cause by a quarrel
with the Church. He threw into prison the Bishops of Salisbury
and Lincoln, because they refused to surrender their castles into
his keeping, and treated them so roughly that every ecclesiastic
in the realm--even including his own brother, Henry, Bishop of
Winchester--took part against him (1139). Soon afterward Matilda landed
in Sussex, and all the southern counties fell away to her. After
much irregular fighting, the two parties came to a pitched battle
at Lincoln. In spite of the feats of personal bravery which Stephen
displayed, he was utterly defeated, and fell into the hands of his
enemies (1141).

The cause of Matilda now seemed triumphant. She had captured her enemy,
and most of the realm fell into her hands. She was saluted as "Lady of
England" at Winchester, and there received the homage of the Archbishop
of Canterbury, and most of the barons and bishops of the land. She
then moved to London, to be crowned; but in the short space since her
triumph she had shown herself so haughty, impracticable, and vindictive
that men's minds were already turning against her. Most especially did
she provoke Stephen's old partisans, by refusing to release him on
his undertaking to quit the kingdom and formally resign his claims to
the crown. This refusal led to the continuation of the war: Maud of
Boulogne, Stephen's wife, rallied the wrecks of his party and continued
to make resistance, and on the news of her approach the Londoners
commenced to stir. Their new mistress had celebrated her advent by
imposing a crushing _tallage_, or money-fine, on the city, and in wrath
at her extortion the citizens rose in arms and chased her out of the
place, before she had even been crowned.

[Sidenote: =Reverses of Matilda.--Feudal anarchy.=]

The unhappy civil war--which for a moment had seemed at an end--now
commenced again. Matilda steadily lost ground, and had to release
Stephen in exchange for her brother, Robert of Gloucester, who had
fallen into the hands of the king's party. She was besieged first at
Winchester, then at Oxford, and on each occasion escaped with great
difficulty from her adversaries. At Oxford she had to be let down by
a rope at night from the castle keep, to thread her way through the
hostile outposts, and then to walk on foot many miles over the snow.

The baronage were so well content with the practical independence
which they enjoyed during the civil war, that they had no desire to
see it end. They changed from side to side with the most indecent
shamelessness, only taking care that at each change they got a full
price for their treachery. Geoffrey de Mandeville, the wicked Earl of
Essex, was perhaps the worst of them; he sold each party in turn, and
finally fought for his own hand, taking no heed of king or queen, and
only seeking to plunder his neighbours and annex their lands. He had
many imitators; the last pages of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, which
finally comes to an end in Stephen's reign, are filled with a picture
of the hopeless misery of the land. Every shire, it laments, was full
of castles, and every castle was filled with devils and evil men. The
lords took any weaker neighbours who were thought to have money, and
put them in dungeons, and tortured them with unutterable devices.
"The ancient martyrs were not so ill treated, for they hanged men by
the thumbs, or by the head, and smoked them with foul smoke; they
put knotted strings about their heads, and twisted them till they bit
into the brain. They put them in dungeons with adders and toads, or
shut them into close boxes filled with sharp stones, and pressed them
there till their bones were broken. Many thousands they killed with
hunger and torment, and that lasted the nineteen winters while Stephen
was king. In those days, if three or four men came riding towards a
township, all the township fled hastily before them, believing them to
be robbers."

[Sidenote: =Treaty of Wallingford.--Death of Stephen.=]

So fared England for many years, till in 1153 a peace was patched up at
Wallingford. Matilda had quitted England long before, and her party was
now led by her young son, Henry of Anjou, who had come over in 1152 to
take her place. Stephen was now old and broken by constant campaigning;
he had lately lost his son Eustace, whom he had destined to succeed
him; and when it was proposed to him that he should hold the crown for
his own life, but make Count Henry his heir, he closed with the offer.
Less than a year later he died, leaving England in the worst plight
that ever she knew since the days of Aethelred the Ill-counselled. For
the king's mandate no longer ran over the land, and every baron was
ruling for himself. Northumberland and Cumberland were in the hands of
the Scots, the Welsh were harrying the border counties, and Yorkshire
had been ravaged in 1153 by the last Viking raid recorded in English
history. It was time that a strong man should pick up the broken
sceptre of William the Conqueror.


[9] A narrow tippet of white wool, fastened by four black cross-headed
pins, such as we see in the shield of arms of the see of Canterbury.

[10] William had made Ralf Bishop of Durham in reward for his evil
doing--a typical instance of his cynical disregard for public and
private morality.

[11] This lady was a natural daughter of the king, and not his
legitimate issue by Queen Matilda.

[12] One of the late king's illegitimate sons, to whom he had given the
earldom of Gloucester.

[13] See p. 77.




When Henry of Anjou, now a young man of twenty-one years, succeeded to
Stephen's crown, he found the country in a most deplorable condition.
The regular administration of justice had ceased, many of the counties
had no sheriffs or other royal officers, the revenue had fallen off
by a half, and the barons were exercising all the prerogatives of the
king, even to the extent of coining money in their own names. A weak
man would have found the position hopeless; a strong man, like Henry,
saw that it required instant and unflinching energy, but that it was
not beyond repair.

[Sidenote: =Undisputed accession of Henry.--His continental dominions.=]

Henry started with the advantage of an undisputed title; his mother,
Matilda, had ceded all her rights to him, and Stephen's surviving son,
William of Boulogne, never attempted to lay any claim to the crown.
Moreover, the king had enormous resources from abroad to aid him.
His father was long dead, so that he was himself Count of Anjou and
Touraine. He had his mother's lands of Normandy and Maine already in
his hands. But he had become the ruler of a still larger realm by his
marriage. He had taken to wife Eleanor, the Duchess of Aquitaine, whose
enormous inheritance stretched from the Loire to the Pyrenees. This was
a marriage of pure policy; Eleanor was an ill-conditioned, unprincipled
woman, the divorced wife of King Lewis VII. of France, and she gave her
second husband almost as much trouble as she had given her first. But
by aid of her possessions Henry dominated the whole of France; indeed,
he held much more French territory under him than did King Lewis VII.
himself, and for the political gain he was prepared to endure the
domestic trouble.

[Illustration: FRANCE,



The continental dominions of Henry were, indeed, so large that they
quite outweighed England in his estimation. He was himself Angevin born
and bred, and looked upon his position more as that of a French prince
who owned a great dependency beyond sea, than as that of an English
king who had possessions in France. He spent the greater part of his
time on the continent, so that England was generally governed by the
successive _Justiciars_, or prime ministers, who acted as regents while
he was abroad. Henry's absence and his absorption in foreign politics
were perhaps not a very grave misfortune for England; he was such a
strong and able ruler, that when he had once put the realm to rights
in the early part of his reign, the danger to be feared was no longer
feudal anarchy, but royal despotism.

[Sidenote: =Feudal anarchy put down.--Northumberland and Cumberland

Henry's first measures, on succeeding to the throne, were very drastic.
He began by ordering the barons to dismantle all the castles which
had been built in the troublous times of Stephen, and enforced his
command by appearing at the head of a large army. It is said that he
levelled to the ground as many as 375 of these "adulterine castles,"
as they were called, because they had been erected without the king's
leave. Very few of the barons ventured to resist; those who did were
crushed without difficulty. Henry also resumed all the royal estates
and revenues which Stephen and Matilda had lavished on their partisans
during the civil war, annulling all his mother's unwise grants as
well as those of her enemy. He filled up the vacant sheriffdoms, and
commenced the despatch of itinerant justices round the country, to
sit and decide cases in the shire courts; this custom, which became
permanent, was the origin of our modern Assizes. After he had set
England in order, Henry demanded the restoration of Northumberland and
Cumberland from Malcolm of Scotland, the heir of King David. They were
given back, after being seventeen years in Scottish hands. At the same
time, Malcolm did homage to Henry for his remaining earldom in England,
that of Huntingdon, which had descended to him from Waltheof. Owen,
Prince of North Wales, submitted himself to the king in the same year,
but not without some fighting, in which Henry met with checks at first.

Thus England was pacified, brought under firm and regular rule, and
restored to her ancient frontiers. Henry even thought at this time
of invading Ireland, and got a Bull from Pope Adrian IV., the only
Englishman who ever sat upon the papal throne, to authorize him to
subdue that country. The pretexts alleged were, that the Irish church
was schismatic, inasmuch as it refused to acknowledge the papal
authority, and also that Ireland was infamous for its slave-trading
in Christian men. But no attempt was made to enforce the Bull
_Laudabiliter_ for many years to come.

[Sidenote: =The War of Toulouse.--Scutage.=]

Ireland might rest secure, because the king had turned aside into
schemes for the augmentation of his continental dominions. Long and
fruitless bickerings and negotiations with Lewis VII., the shifty King
of France, ended in 1159 in the _War of Toulouse_. Henry laid claim
to the great south-French county of Toulouse, as owing fealty to his
wife's duchy of Aquitaine. He led against it the greatest army that
had been seen for many years, in which the King of Scotland and the
Prince of Wales served as his chief vassals. But when Lewis of France
threw himself into Toulouse, Henry turned aside, moved, it is said,
by the curious feudal scruple that it did not befit him as Duke of
Normandy and Count of Anjou to make a personal attack on his suzerain,
the King of France. He ravaged the county, but did not proceed with
the siege of Toulouse itself. Next year he patched up a peace with
his feudal superior, which was to be confirmed by the marriage of his
five-year-old son and heir, Prince Henry, with Margaret, the French
king's daughter (1160). The chief interest of the very fruitless war of
Toulouse was that Henry employed in it a new scheme of taxation, which
was an indirect blow at the feudal system. As Toulouse was so very far
from England, he allowed those of the English knighthood who preferred
to stay at home, to pay him instead of personal service a composition
called _scutage_ (shield-money). The money thus received was used to
hire a great body of mercenary men-at-arms, whom the king knew to be
both more obedient and more efficient soldiers than the unruly feudal

[Sidenote: =Quarrel with the Church.--Thomas Becket.=]

The interest of Henry's reign now shifts round to another point--the
question of the relations between State and Church, which we have
already seen cropping up in the reigns of Rufus and Henry I. In 1162
he appointed Thomas Becket Archbishop of Canterbury, and rued the
choice ever after, for now his troubles began. Thomas, the son of a
wealthy merchant of London, had been the king's chief secretary or
_Chancellor_ for the last eight years. He was a clever, versatile, not
very scrupulous man, with a devouring ambition: hitherto he had been
a devoted servant, and a genial companion to the king, and had lived
much more like a layman than a cleric. In spite of his priesthood, he
had borne arms in the war of Toulouse, and even distinguished himself
in a single combat with a French champion. Henry thought that Thomas
would be no less obliging and useful as archbishop than he had been as
Chancellor. He was woefully deceived. No sooner was Thomas consecrated,
than his whole conduct and manner of life suddenly changed. His
ambition--now that he had become a great prelate--was to win the
reputation of a saint. Casting away all his old habits, he began to
practise the most rigid austerity, wearing a hair shirt next his skin,
stinting himself in food and drink, and washing the feet of lepers and
mendicants; from a supple courtier he had become the most angular and
impracticable of saints. But it was not merely to mortify his own body
that Becket had accepted the archbishopric; his real object was to
claim for the head of the Church in England what the Popes of his day
were claiming for themselves in Western Christendom--complete freedom
from the control of the State. His dream was to make the English Church
_imperium in imperio_, and to rule it himself as an absolute master.
Without the reputation of a saint, he could not dare to compass this
monstrous end, so a saint he had to become. The moment that he was
consecrated, he opened his campaign against the king; he threw up the
Chancellorship, which Henry had asked him to retain, and commenced
at once to "vindicate the rights of the see of Canterbury," that is,
to lay claim to a number of estates now in the hands of various lay
owners, as being Church land. When his demands were withstood, he
in some cases went to law with the owners, but in others used the
arbitrary clerical punishment of excommunicating his adversaries. But
this was only the beginning of troubles; in 1163 he began to oppose
the king in the Great Council, taking up the ever-popular cry that the
taxes were over-heavy. Henry, surprised at meeting opposition from such
an unexpected quarter, withdrew his proposals, which seem indeed to
have been intended rather to limit the profits of the sheriffs than to
raise more money.

[Sidenote: =Claims of the Ecclesiastical Courts.=]

But the growing estrangement between the king and the archbishop did
not come to a full head till the end of 1163, when they engaged in
a desperate quarrel on the question of the rights and immunities of
the clergy. We have mentioned in an earlier chapter how William the
Conqueror had established separate courts for the trial of clerical
offences, and had put them under the control of the bishops. Since his
day, these courts had been steadily growing in importance, and putting
forth wider and wider claims of jurisdiction. The anarchical reign
of Stephen, when all lay courts of justice came to a standstill, had
been especially favourable to their growth. The last development of
their demands had been the extraordinary assertion that they ought to
try, not only all ecclesiastical offences, but all offences in which
ecclesiastics were concerned. That is, not only were such crimes as
bigamy or heresy or perjury to come before them, but if a member of the
clerical body committed theft or assault or murder, or, again, if a
layman robbed or assaulted or murdered a cleric, the cases were to be
taken out of the king's court, and to be brought before the bishop's.
The most monstrous absurdity of this claim was that the ecclesiastical
tribunal had no power to impose any but ecclesiastical punishments,
that is to say, penance, excommunication, or deprivation of orders.
So if a clergyman committed the most grievous crimes, he could not
receive any greater penalty than suspension from his clerical duties,
or penances which he might or might not perform. It had come to be a
regular trick with habitual criminals to claim that they were in holy
orders--which included not only the priesthood, but sacristans and
sub-deacons and other minor church officers--and so to exchange death
or blinding for the milder ecclesiastical punishments.

[Sidenote: =The Constitutions of Clarendon.=]

A very bad case of murder by a priest, which Becket punished merely
by ordering the murderer to abstain from celebrating the Sacraments
for two years, called King Henry's attention to the usurpation of the
Church courts. When he found that their claims were quite modern, and
had been unknown to the old English law, he resolved at once to take
in hand the settlement of the whole question of the ecclesiastical
courts. At a Great Council held at Westminster, he proposed to appoint
a committee to investigate the matter, and to draw up a statement of
the true law of the land with regard, not only to "criminous clerks,"
but to all the disputes between lay and clerical personages which could
arise. Becket opposed the proposal as an invasion of the rights of the
Church, and by his advice the other bishops, when asked if they would
undertake to abide by the decision of the committee, replied that they
would do so in so far as it did not impugn their rights--which meant
not at all.

The statement of the laws of England was prepared by the committee,
drawn up by the Justiciar, Richard de Lucy, and laid before the Great
Council at Clarendon[14] early in the next year (1164), whence the
document is known as the _Constitutions of Clarendon_. The king in
it proposed a compromise--that the Church court should try whether a
"criminous clerk" was guilty or innocent, and, if it pronounced him
guilty, should hand him over to the king's officers to suffer the same
punishment that a layman who had committed a similar offence would
suffer. In other matters, where a layman and a cleric went to law on
secular matters, the case was to be tried in the king's court. No
layman was to be punished for spiritual offences, or excommunicated,
without the king's leave, and the clergy were strictly prohibited from
making appeals to Rome, or going thither, unless they had the royal

[Sidenote: =Opposition of Becket.=]

Becket declared that the Constitutions of Clarendon violated the
immunities of the Church, but for a moment he yielded and consented to
sign them. Next day, however, to the surprise of all men, he asserted
that his consent had been a deadly sin, that he withdrew it, and that
nothing should induce him to sign the constitutions. Henry vehemently
urged him to do so, and pointed out that the Archbishop of York and the
rest of the bishops were ready to accept the arrangement as just and
fair. But Thomas took the attitude of a martyr, refused to move, and
even sent to the Pope to get absolution for his so-called sin in giving
a momentary consent to the king's proposals.

[Sidenote: =He leaves England.=]

Seriously angry at the archbishop for binding up his cause with that
of the criminous clerks and the usurpation of the Church courts, Henry
took the rather unworthy step of endeavouring to bend Thomas to his
will by allowing several of his courtiers to bring lawsuits against
him, and by threatening to rake up and go through the accounts of all
the public monies that had passed through his hands during the eight
years that he had been Chancellor. But Becket was not a man to be
bullied; he made himself yet more stiff-necked, and assumed the pose
of a martyr for the rights of the Church. It was in vain that the
other bishops urged him to yield; he attended the Great Council at
Northampton in October, 1164, faced the king, refused to submit, and
then, pretending that his life was in danger, fled by night and sailed
over to Flanders. For the next six years Becket was on the continent,
generally under the protection of Henry's suzerain and enemy, the King
of France. He was regarded by the continental clergy as the champion
of the rights of their order, and treated with the highest respect
wherever he went. He did his best to stir up the King of France and
his vassals against Henry II., and to induce the Pope Alexander III.
to excommunicate him. But Alexander, deep in a quarrel with the great
emperor Frederic Barbarossa, did not wish to make an enemy of the
strongest king in Western Europe, and refused to do Becket's behest. On
his own account, however, the exiled archbishop laid the sentence of
excommunication on most of Henry's chief counsellors. As the great body
of the bishops sided with the king, Becket's fulminations from over sea
had little effect. In England he was treated as non-existent.

[Sidenote: =An interdict threatened.--Return of Becket.=]

But in 1170 a new complication brought about a change in affairs. King
Henry's eldest son and namesake, Henry the younger, was now a lad of
fifteen, and his father wished to crown him and take him as colleague
in his kingdom. The right to crown an English king was undoubtedly
one of the prerogatives of the Archbishop of Canterbury. But Henry
left Becket out of account, and caused the ceremony to be performed by
Roger of York. This invasion of his privileges wrought Thomas to such
fury that he sought out the Pope, and won him over by his vehemence
to threaten to lay all England under interdict--to cut it off from
Christendom, and forbid the celebration of the Sacraments within its

King Henry, who was engaged in a troublesome war with the French king,
was afraid of the consequences of the papal interdict; its enforcement,
he thought, would make him too unpopular. So he humbled himself to
patching up a truce with Becket, though they could not even yet come to
any agreement on the question of the Constitutions of Clarendon. In the
autumn of 1170 the king allowed him to return to England, on a tacit
agreement that bygones were to be bygones.

But Becket had hidden his true purpose from the king. He returned
to England bent, not on peace, but on war. Either because his anger
carried him away, or because he was deliberately aiming at martyrdom
and wished to provoke his enemies to violence, he proceeded to the most
unheard-of measures. He first excommunicated the Archbishop of York and
the Bishops of London and Lincoln, who had taken part in the crowning
of the younger Henry. Then he laid a similar sentence on those of the
king's courtiers whom he accused of encroaching on the estates of the
see of Canterbury.

[Sidenote: =Murder of Becket.=]

The king was still over-sea in Normandy when the news of Becket's
declaration of war was brought him. Henry was a man of violent
passions, and the tale moved him to a sudden outbreak of fury. "Of all
the idle servants that I maintain," he cried, "is there not one that
will avenge me on this pestilent priest?" The words were wrung from
him by the excitement of the moment, and soon forgotten, but they had
a disastrous result. Among those who heard them were four reckless
knights, some of whom had personal grudges against Becket, and all of
whom were ready to win the king's favour by any means, fair or foul.
Their names were Reginald Fitzurse, Hugh de Morville, William de Tracy,
and Richard the Breton. These four took counsel with each other,
secretly stole away from the court, and crossed the stormy December
seas to England. They rode straight to Canterbury, sought audience
with the archbishop, and bade him remove the excommunication of Roger
of York and the rest, or face the king's wrath. Thomas met their words
with a fierce refusal; thereupon they withdrew after defying him and
warning him that his blood was on his own head. While they were girding
on their coats of mail in the cathedral close, the monks of Canterbury
besought the archbishop to fly. He had plenty of time to do so, but
flight was not his purpose. Far from hiding himself, he called for his
robes and his attendants, and went to join in the Vesper service at the
cathedral. The knights were soon heard thundering at the door; Becket
threw it open with his own hands, and asked their purpose. "Absolve the
bishops or die," cried Fitzurse. "Never till they have done penance for
their sin," was the reply. Tracy cast his arms about the archbishop
and tried to drag him outside the cathedral; but Thomas cast him down.
Then Fitzurse drew his sword and cut at Becket's head, and the others
felled him with repeated strokes, while he kept crying that he died for
the cause of God and the Church. So ended the great archbishop, slain
by lawless violence on the consecrated stones of his own cathedral.
The splendid courage with which he met his death, and the brutality
of his assailants, persuaded most men that he must have been in the
right. The clergy looked upon him as their knight and champion, and
were only too ready to make capital out of his troubles and heroic end.
The poor remembered his indiscriminate almsgiving, his austerities, his
opposition to the Danegelt. Every class of men felt some respect for
one who had suffered exile and death for loyal adhesion to a cause, and
few, except the king, thoroughly realized that the cause had really
been that of ill government and clerical tyranny. Hence it came that
a man whose main characteristics were his ambition and his obstinacy,
and whose saintliness was artificial and deliberately assumed, took his
place in the English calendar as the favourite hero of the Church. The
Pope made him a saint in 1174, a magnificent shrine was erected over
his remains, and for 350 years pilgrims thronged in thousands to do
homage to his bones. To relate how many hysterical persons or impostors
gave out that they had been healed of their diseases by a visit to his
sanctuary would be tedious. The thing which would have given Becket
most pleasure, could he have lived again to view it, was the sight of
Henry II. doing penance at his tomb in 1174, and baring his back to be
scourged by the monks of Canterbury, as a slight reparation for the
hasty words that had brought about his servants' deed of murder.

There is no doubt that Henry was sincerely shocked and horrified by the
news of the archbishop's death. He sent instant messages to the Pope
to clear himself of the accusation of having been privy to the crime,
and offered any satisfaction that Alexander might demand. Meanwhile he
undertook what might be considered a kind of crusade to Ireland, with
the avowed purpose of reducing it to obedience to the papacy as well as
to subjection to himself.

[Sidenote: =Henry in possession of Brittany.=]

For during the times of Becket's exile (1164-70) two important series
of events had been occurring, one of which put Henry in possession of
Brittany, while the other had led to his interference in Ireland. The
Dukes of Normandy had always claimed a feudal supremacy over Brittany.
This claim Henry found an opportunity for asserting and turning to
account, by forcing Conan, the Breton duke, to marry his infant heiress
Constance to his own third son Geoffrey, a boy of seven years old
(1166). When Conan died five years later, Henry ruled the whole duchy
as guardian of his young son and daughter-in-law. Thus his power was
extended over the whole western shore of France from the Somme to the

[Sidenote: =Ireland.--Expedition of Strongbow.=]

Henry's interference in Ireland sprang from more complicated causes.
Ireland in the twelfth century was--as it had been since the first dawn
of history--a group of Celtic principalities, always engaged in weary
tribal wars with each other. Sometimes one king gained a momentary
superiority over the rest, but his power ceased with his life. In the
ninth century the island had been overrun by the Danes; they had not
succeeded in occupying a broad _Danelagh_ such as they won in England,
but had built up a number of small kingdoms on the coast, round their
fortified strongholds of Dublin, Wexford, Waterford, and Limerick.
These principalities still existed in Henry's time, while the interior
was held by the five kings of Ulster, Munster, Connaught, Meath, and
Leinster. At this moment Roderic O'Connor of Connaught claimed and
occasionally exercised authority as suzerain over the other kings. But
he had no real power over the land, which lay half desolate, had become
altogether barbarous, and teemed with cruel and squalid tribal wars.
The introduction of this distressful country into English politics
may be laid at the door of Dermot McMorrough, King of Leinster. This
prince had been driven out of his realm by his suzerain, Roderic,
King of Connaught, because he had carried off the wife of Roderic's
vassal, O'Rourke, Lord of Breffny. Dermot came to England, and asked
aid of Henry II., who, as we have already seen, had long possessed a
papal Bull, authorizing the conquest of Ireland.[15] Henry would not
stir himself, being in the midst of troubles with the King of France,
but gave the exiled king leave to obtain what help he could from the
English barons. Dermot placed himself in the hands of Richard de Clare,
nicknamed Strongbow, Earl of Pembroke, a warlike but impecunious peer
who had great influence in South Wales. Richard raised a small army
of Anglo-Norman knights and Welsh archers--less than 2000 men in
all--and landed in Ireland to restore Dermot to his throne. He met with
quite unexpected success, sweeping Dermot's enemies out of Leinster,
and conquering the Danish princes of Wexford and Dublin. He married
Dermot's heiress Eva, and on the king's death in 1171 succeeded him
as ruler in his kingdom. Other barons and knights from South Wales
came over to join him, and they obtained a complete mastery over the
native Irish, whose light-armed bands could not resist the charge of
the mail-clad knights or stand before the archers, even when they were
in overwhelming numerical superiority. In a battle before the gates of
Dublin, a few hundred followers of Strongbow routed the whole host of
Roderic of Connaught, though he was supported by a considerable body of
Danish Vikings.

[Sidenote: =Henry invades Ireland in person.=]

Now, Henry did not wish to see one of his vassals building up a great
kingdom in Ireland, independent of his authority. So, taking advantage
of the papal authorization that he had so long kept by him, he crossed
himself in 1171 with a great army and fleet, landed at Waterford,
and marched to Dublin. He had no trouble in getting his authority
recognized. Not only did Strongbow do him homage for the kingdom of
Leinster, but, one after another, most of the native Irish kings came
to his court and paid allegiance to him. From henceforth the Kings of
England might call themselves "Lords of Ireland," but their power in
the island was not very easy to exercise, nor did it extend to the
remoter corners of the land. About half the soil of Ireland was seized
by English and Norman adventurers, who built themselves castles and
held down the Celts around them. The other half, mostly consisting of
the more rugged and barren districts, remained in the hands of the
native chiefs. But the settlers in the course of time intermarried
with the Irish, and adopted many of their customs, so that they
became tribal chiefs themselves. A century later the grudge between
the settlers and the natives was still bitter, but they had become so
closely assimilated that it was hard for a stranger to distinguish
them. The one were as turbulent, clannish, fierce, and barbarous as the
other. Only on the east coast round Dublin, in the district that was
afterwards known as the English 'Pale,' did the Anglo-Irish dwell in a
settled and civilized manner of life, and obey the King of England's
mandates. The larger part of the island had to be reconquered four
centuries after.

Perhaps the only permanent and immediate result of Henry's visit to
Ireland was the submission of the Irish Church to the Pope. In a synod
held at Cashel in 1172, all the bishops of the land acknowledged
the papal supremacy, and abandoned the old customs of their Church.
Thus the papal yoke was the first and most unhappy gift of England to

[Sidenote: =Reconciliation with the Pope.=]

It was on his return from Dublin that King Henry met the legates of
Alexander III. at Avranches, in Normandy, and, on swearing that he had
neither planned nor consented to the murder of Becket, was taken into
the Pope's favour, and received complete absolution. In return, he
promised to go on a crusade, and swore that he would support Alexander
against his enemy the Emperor Frederic I. He also consented to annul
the Constitutions of Clarendon, but did not make any formal surrender
of the principles on which they rested--the right of the State to deal
with ecclesiastical persons guilty of secular offences. Thus ended the
tragedy of Becket's strife with the king; the archbishop had obtained
by his death what he could never win in his life, and the question
between Church and State was left open, instead of being settled, as
had at first seemed likely, in favour of the king.

[Sidenote: =Conspiracy of Princes Henry and Richard.=]

In less than a year after the penance at Avranches, Henry was plunged
into a new sea of troubles, in which the Church party saw the vengeance
of Heaven for the fate of Becket. All these troubles sprang from the
undutiful conduct of Henry's sons, four graceless youths who had been
brought up in the worst of schools by their able but unprincipled
mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine. Henry, the eldest son, was now in his
nineteenth year; Richard, the second son, in his seventeenth. But, in
spite of their youth, the two boys, encouraged and supported by their
mother, conspired against their father and king. In 1173 Henry fled to
the court of Lewis of France, alleging as his grievance the fact that
the king would not grant him a great appanage--England or Normandy--to
rule in his own right. With the aid of Louis VII, the young Henry
stirred up all the discontented elements in his father's dominions.
He arranged for a simultaneous rising of the discontented barons of
Brittany, Anjou, and Poitou, for a rebellion in England to be headed
by the earls of Leicester, Derby, and Norfolk, and for an invasion of
Northumbria by William, the King of the Scots.

[Sidenote: =Suppression of the rebels.--Moderation of Henry.=]

This widespread conspiracy actually came to a head; but its outbreak
only served to show King Henry's strength and activity. He was
himself in France when the storm burst: taking in hand the work that
lay nearest to him, he put down the Bretons and Angevins, and forced
the King of France to conclude a truce. Then in the winter of 1173-4
he turned upon his son Richard's partisans in Poitou, and, after much
fighting, pacified the land. Meanwhile the king's representative in
England, the Justiciar Richard de Lucy, had called out the levies of
the shires against the revolted barons. The campaign was settled by a
battle at Fornham, in Suffolk, where the rebels were scattered and the
Earl of Leicester taken prisoner. One after another the castles of the
disloyal barons fell, and when England was pacified, Ralf de Glanville
led a force against the Scots, surprised them at Alnwick, and took
their king William the Lion prisoner (1174).

Thus Henry had triumphed over all his foes. In the moment of victory he
showed extraordinary moderation. He neither executed any of the rebels
nor confiscated their lands, but only insisted that all their castles
should be demolished. He gave his sons a full pardon, and restored them
to his favour; with their mother he was far more wroth, and never would
live with her again. The King of the Scots was only released on doing
homage to the English crown, not merely for his earldoms of Huntingdon
and Lothian, which had always been reckoned English fiefs, but for his
whole kingdom of Scotland (1175).

This was Henry's greatest triumph: the danger of feudal anarchy had
once more assailed him, and he had beaten it down with such a firm
hand that England was never troubled again with a purely selfish and
anarchic baronial rising for more than two centuries. But this victory
did not win the king a quiet and glorious end to his reign. His wicked
and ungrateful sons were to be the bane of his elder years.

[Sidenote: =Prosperity and Legislation.--Itinerant justices.--The

The effect of the blow that he had dealt his disloyal subjects lasted
about eight years, a period of quiet and prosperity on both sides
of the Channel, during which Henry passed many excellent laws, and
more especially dealt with the administration of justice, arranging
permanent circuits for the itinerant justices who sat in the county
courts to hold the assizes. He also issued regulations for the uniform
arming and mustering of the shire-levies, the old English fyrd which
had served him so well against the rebels in 1173. Abroad he was
universally recognized as the greatest king of the West. He was chosen
as the fairest arbitrator in several disputes between contemporary
princes--even by the distant Kings of Spain. He married his daughters
to the Kings of Castile and Sicily and the great Duke of Saxony, the
chief vassal of the German crown. To each of his sons he promised a
great inheritance: Henry was to have England, Normandy, and Anjou;
Richard was to take his mother's portion in Aquitaine; Geoffrey was
already provided for with his wife's duchy of Brittany: John, the
youngest son, was to be King of Ireland, and the Irish chiefs were made
to do homage to him.

[Sidenote: =Second rebellion of Henry and Geoffrey.=]

All this prosperity lasted till 1183, when Henry was fifty-two, and
his four sons respectively twenty-eight, twenty-six, twenty-four, and
sixteen. Tired of waiting any longer for his inheritance, and forgetful
of the warning that he had received in 1174, Henry the younger once
more took arms against his father: his aider and abettor was the new
King of France, Philip Augustus, the son of Lewis VII., as bitter an
enemy of the Angevin house as his predecessor had been. Henry also
persuaded his brother Geoffrey to bring in the Bretons to his aid.
Richard and John, the king's second and fourth sons, were for the time
being faithful to their father; indeed, the actual _casus belli_, which
Henry the younger published as his justification, was that the king had
unfairly favoured Richard against him. This time the fighting was all
on the continent; the English baronage were too much cowed to stir.

Henry the younger had only been a few months in rebellion when he
died, stricken down by a fever (1183). But the civil war in Aquitaine
did not end with his death; it dragged on its path till Geoffrey, his
accomplice in the rebellion, was accidentally killed at a tournament
three years later (1186). Henry had no issue, but Geoffrey left an
infant heir, the unfortunate Arthur of Brittany, whose sad end was to
shock the succeeding generation.

[Sidenote: =The Third Crusade.--The Saladin tithe.=]

Henry's two rebellious sons being dead, peace was for a time restored
in his continental dominions. Men's minds were turned away for a time
from civil strife by dire news from the East. The Saracens had just
routed the Christian King of Palestine, and recaptured Jerusalem. The
work of the First Crusade was undone, and the Holy Sepulchre and
the True Cross had fallen back into the hands of the infidels. The
nations of the West were profoundly shocked; King Henry, his eldest
surviving son Richard, and his great enemy Philip of France, all swore
to take the cross and go forth to save the wrecks of the kingdom of
Jerusalem from Saladin, the victorious lord of Syria and Egypt. All
their baronage vowed to follow them, and the Great Council of England
voted for the support of the new crusade a heavy tax, the "Saladin
tithe," as it was called, which was to be a tenth of every man's goods
and chattels. This was the first impost levied on personal property,
that is, property other than land, which was ever raised in England.
Previously, the Danegelt and the other taxes that had been raised, were
calculated on landed property alone.

[Sidenote: =Third rebellion of Richard and John.--Death of Henry II.=]

It would have been well for the King of England if his son and his
French neighbour had sailed for the Holy Land in the year that they
made their vow. For another and crowning grief was about to fall upon
Henry. Richard, now his heir, revolted against him, even as Henry
the younger and Geoffrey had done four years before. Like his elder
brother, Richard alleged that his father would not give him enough;
he complained that the king did not allow him to be crowned as his
colleague, and that he made too much of John, the youngest and best
loved of his four sons. The ungrateful conduct of Richard broke Henry's
heart; though only fifty-six years of age, he began visibly to fail
in health and mind. He made little endeavour to resist his son, and
allowed him to overrun Anjou and Maine unopposed. Instead of calling
out all his energies and appealing to the loyalty of his English and
Norman subjects, he cast himself upon his couch and gave himself up to
passionate grief. Rather than take arms against Richard, he determined
to give him all that he asked. So, rising from, his bed, he dragged
himself to Colombières, where he met Richard and the King of France,
and swore to grant all they claimed. It was noticed that his bodily
weakness was so great that his servants had to hold him on his horse
while the interview was taking place. Two days later he expired; the
final death-blow that prostrated him was the discovery of the fact that
his youngest son, John, whom he had believed to the last to be faithful
to him, had secretly aided Richard and joined in the rebellion. For
when he swore to pardon all Richard's accomplices, and was given the
list of their names, he found that of John set at the head of the
catalogue of traitors. "Let things go as they will; I have nothing to
care for in the world now," he said; and, turning his face to the wall,
gave up his spirit (July 7, 1189).

[Sidenote: =Character of Henry II.=]

So died Henry of Anjou, whom after-ages styled Plantagenet.[16] He was
an Englishman neither by birth nor by breeding, and the greater part
of his reign was spent abroad--two years was the longest continuous
stay that he ever made on this side of the Channel. But, foreigner as
he was, he was the best king that England had known since Eadgar, or
that she was to know till Edward I. That he ended the awful anarchy
which had prevailed since the accession of Stephen, was a merit that
should never be forgotten. When the feudal danger was at its greatest,
he boldly faced it, ended private wars, pulled down illegal castles,
and reduced the baronage to its due obedience. And when the land was
subdued beneath his hand he ruled it justly, not as a grasping tyrant,
but as a wise and merciful master. Among the kings of his day he was
conspicuous for two rare virtues, a willingness to pardon and forget,
and a determination to stand firm by the letter of his promise. He
had his faults--a hasty temper, a far-reaching ambition, a tendency
to deal with men as if they were merely counters in the great game of
politics; nor was his private life entirely free from blame. But he
loved order and justice so well, and gave them in such good measure to
his subjects, that his virtues must always outweigh in English minds
his occasional lapses from the right path.


[14] A royal manor near Salisbury.

[15] See p. 99.

[16] From the sprig of broom (_planta genista_) that his father,
Geoffrey of Anjou, is said to have worn as a badge.




When Henry of Anjou died broken-hearted at Chinon, his eldest surviving
son Richard succeeded him in all his vast dominions, save in the duchy
of Brittany, which fell to the child Arthur, the son of Richard's
brother Geoffrey. John, the late king's youngest-born, received a fit
reward for his treachery to his father in losing the appanage that had
been destined for him. He did not obtain any independent principality
of his own, but Richard made him Earl of Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, and

From the moment of his accession the new king began to busy himself
with preparations for going to the Crusade. He had taken the Cross
in 1187, and his penitence for lingering in Europe and troubling his
father, when he should have been over-seas fulfilling his vow, seems to
have had a real influence upon him. But the mere love of adventure must
be allowed to have had a far larger share in turning his steps to the
East. Richard had the habits and instincts of a turbulent feudal baron,
not those of a king. He had spent his life up to this time in petty
wars with his father, his brothers, and his vassals in Aquitaine; such
an existence pleased him well, and he dreamed of more exciting warfare
on a larger stage in the lands of the Infidel, as the highest ambition
that he could conceive.

[Sidenote: =Preparations for the Crusade.--Sale of lands and offices.=]

The moment that he had been crowned, Richard set to work to scrape
together every penny that he could procure, in order to provide against
the expenses of the forthcoming Crusade. He began by selling every
office and dignity that was vacant, with a gross disregard for the
interests of the crown and the welfare of his subjects. He took £3000
from William Longchamp, the haughty and quarrelsome Bishop of Ely, and
appointed him both Chancellor and Justiciar; that is, he made regent in
his absence the most unsuitable man that could have been found. He sold
the earldom of Northumberland to Hugh, Bishop of Durham, for £1000. A
still greater bargain was obtained by William, King of Scotland, who
for the sum of 10,000 marks (£6666) was let off the homage to the crown
of England, which Henry II. had imposed upon him after the battle of
Alnwick. Richard jestingly said that "he would have sold London itself
if he could have found a rich enough buyer." But every town that wanted
a charter, every baron who coveted a slice of crown land, every knight
who wished to be made a sheriff, obtained the desired object at a cheap

[Sidenote: =The Jews in England.--Outbreak of persecution.=]

Richard's reign began with an outburst of turbulence which illustrated
his careless governance well enough. Among the many classes of subjects
to whom his father had given peace and protection was the Jewish colony
in England, a body which had been rapidly growing in numbers as England
recovered from its ills under Henry's firm hand. The Jews were much
hated by their neighbours, partly as rivals in trade of the native
merchant, and as usurers who lent money at exorbitant interest, but
most of all because of their race and religion. But they had settled
under the king's protection, and in return for the heavy tribute which
they paid him, obtained security for their life and goods. They were
often called the "king's property," because he kept the right of taxing
and managing them entirely in his own hands.

At Richard's coronation a deputation of Jewish elders came to bear him
a gift. They were set upon by the king's foreign servants and cruelly
beaten, in mere fanatical spite. The news spread, and on a false rumour
that the king had approved the deed, the London mob rose and sacked
the Jews' quarter. Nor was this all; the excitement spread over all
England, and at Norwich, Stamford, Lincoln, York, and other places,
there were riots in which many Jews were slain. At the last-named city
a fearful tragedy occurred; all the Jews of York took refuge in the
castle, and when they were beset by a howling mob who cried for their
blood, they by common consent slew their wives and children, and then
set fire to the castle and burnt themselves, rather than fall into the
hands of their enemies. No adequate punishment was ever inflicted for
these disgraceful riots; even at York only a fine was imposed on the

[Sidenote: =The third Crusade.--Quarrel of Richard and Philip of

Richard left England in December, 1189, and, after raising additional
forces and stores of money in his continental dominions, sailed from
Marseilles for the East. Richard was one of three sovereign princes
who engaged in the third Crusade; the other two were the Emperor
Frederic Barbarossa and Philip Augustus, King of France. The emperor
led the troops of Germany by the land route through Constantinople and
Asia Minor, but Richard and Philip had wisely resolved to go by sea.
Frederic lost three-fourths of his army in forcing his way through the
Turkish sultanate in Asia Minor, and was accidentally drowned himself
ere he crossed the borders of Syria. Only a small remnant of the German
host ever reached the Holy Land. Richard and Philip fared much better,
and gained the Levant in safety, after halting in Sicily for the winter
of 1190-91. It was during their stay at Messina that the two kings
became bitter personal enemies; in his father's time Richard had been
the friend of the French, and he did not realize for some time the
fact that in succeeding to Henry's dominions he had also succeeded to
the jealous hatred which Philip nourished for his over-great vassal,
the Duke of Aquitaine and Normandy. But in Sicily Richard detected the
French king plotting and intriguing against him, and for the future
regarded him as a secret enemy, and viewed all his acts with suspicion.

[Sidenote: =Richard conquers Cyprus.=]

If we were relating the personal acts of Richard rather than the
history of England, there would be much to tell of his feats in
the East. He began by subduing the isle of Cyprus, whose ruler,
Isaac Comnenus--a rebel against the Emperor of Constantinople--had
ill-treated the shipwrecked crews of some English vessels. After
conquering the whole island, he took formal possession of it, and with
great pomp married there his affianced bride, Berengaria of Navarre,
who had come out from Europe to join him. He then sailed for the Holy
Land, and landed near Acre, in the centre of the seat of war.

[Sidenote: =Capture of Acre, 1191.=]

Acre was at this moment beset by those of the Crusaders who had arrived
before Richard. But their camp was itself being besieged by a great
Saracen host under Sultan Saladin, who had raised all the levies of
Syria, Mesopotamia, and Egypt, to relieve the beleaguered city. The
landing of the hosts of England and France soon turned the tide of war,
and ere long Acre fell. Richard earned and obtained the whole credit
of the success by his energy and courage, while his rival Philip, by
his jealous bickering with the English, merited a name for disloyalty
and lukewarm zeal. It must be confessed that Richard won himself many
enemies by his haughtiness and hasty temper; not only did he quarrel
with Philip, but he mortally offended Leopold of Babenberg, the Duke of
Austria. The German had planted his banner upon the walls of Acre as if
he had taken the town himself, and Richard had it hewn down and cast
into the ditch.

[Sidenote: =Return of Philip.--Richard fails to reach Jerusalem.=]

Less than three weeks after Acre fell, the King of France suddenly
announced his intention of returning home, though nothing had yet been
done to defeat Saladin or recapture Jerusalem. He left part of his army
behind him under the Duke of Burgundy, and sailed off, after making a
vain promise that he would not molest Richard's dominions so long as he
was at the Crusade.

Thus left to himself, Richard led the crusading host southward along
the coast, and defeated Saladin at a pitched battle at Arsouf. He
forced his way to within a few miles of Jerusalem, but, before
attacking it, turned back to secure himself a base on the sea, through
which he could get stores and provisions from his ships. He took
Ascalon, therefore, and garrisoned it, and afterwards captured many
neighbouring forts, and intercepted a great caravan which was bringing
arms and stores for Saladin across the desert from Egypt. But when
he wished to start again for Jerusalem, dissensions broke out in the
crusading camp. The subject of dispute was the succession to the throne
of Jerusalem. Richard supported Guy of Lusignan, one of his Poitevin
vassals, while the French and the bulk of the other Crusaders wished
to elect an Italian prince, Conrad of Montferrat. The quarrel kept
the army idle till the hot season of 1092 arrived, and endured till
Conrad was slain by a Saracen fanatic; then Richard moved forward, but
when he had arrived within four hours' march of Jerusalem, the French
portion of the army, worn out by thirst and exhaustion, refused to
advance any further. Richard was forced to fall back when at the very
goal, and refused even to look upon the Holy City. "My eyes shall never
behold it, if my arm may not reconquer it," he cried, and, muffling his
face in his cloak, he turned back towards the coast.

[Sidenote: =Richard leaves Palestine.=]

After defeating the Saracens in another fight near Jaffa, Richard
patched up a truce for three years with Saladin, and resolved to return
home. It was obvious that with thinned ranks and disloyal allies he
could not retake Jerusalem, and he had received such news from England
as to the doings of his brother John and his neighbour King Philip,
that he was anxious to get home as soon as possible. So he made terms
with the sultan, by which Acre and the other places that he had
conquered were left to the Christians, and permission was given them to
make pilgrimages to Jerusalem without let or hindrance. Then, without
waiting for his fleet or his army, he started off in wild haste on a
private ship, intending to land at Venice and make his way overland
through Germany, for he could not trust himself in France after the
news that he had just received (1193).

[Sidenote: =Richard imprisoned in Germany.=]

But more haste proved less speed, in this as in so many other cases.
Richard's ship was wrecked in the Adriatic, and he had to land at
Ragusa. His path took him through the duchy of Leopold of Austria,
whom he had so grievously offended at the siege of Acre. Although he
was travelling in disguise, he was recognized at Vienna, and promptly
cast into prison by the revengeful duke. After keeping him awhile in
chains, Leopold sold him to his suzerain, the Emperor Henry VI. That
monarch, being thus placed by chance in possession of the person of
a sovereign with whom he was not at war, had the meanness to trump
up charges against Richard in order to have some excuse for making
him pay a ransom. So he accused his captive of having murdered Conrad
of Montferrat, of having unjustly deprived the rebel Isaac of Cyprus
of his realm, and of having insulted Leopold the Austrian. He was in
prison more than a year, and no one in England knew what had become of
him, since he had been travelling disguised and almost alone when he
was taken.

[Sidenote: =Discontent and intrigues in England.=]

Meanwhile, during the three years of Richard's absence England had
been much disturbed. William Longchamp, the haughty and tactless
bishop whom he had left behind him as Justiciar, made himself so much
disliked by his pride, his despotism, and his violence that there
was a general rising against him. The king's brother John, the Earl
of Cornwall, put himself at the head of the malcontents, and began
seizing all the royal castles on which he could lay hands. Longchamp
was at last forced to resign his place and fled over-sea, hardly
escaping the fury of the people at Dover, where he was caught in the
disguise of a huckster-woman and nearly pulled to pieces. His place as
Justiciar was taken by Archbishop Walter of Rouen, whom Richard sent
home from the Crusade for the purpose. Walter was a prudent and able
man, but found a hard task before him, for Earl John was set on making
himself a party in England, and aimed at the crown. When the news of
Richard's captivity reached London, John openly avowed his intention,
and allied himself with Philip of France. That prince had begun to
intrigue against the King of England the moment that he got back from
the Crusade. He had a claim on the Vexin, a district on the Norman
border, which he had once ceded to Henry II. on the understanding that
it should be the dowry of a French princess whom Richard was to marry.
As the marriage had never taken place, and the English king had chosen
another bride, Philip had much show of reason on his side. But he aimed
not only at recovering the Vexin, but at winning as much of his absent
neighbour's land as he could seize. With this object he offered to
support Earl John in his attempt to seize the English throne, in return
for some territorial gains. John was ready enough to agree, did homage
to him, and gave him up the Vexin and the city of Tours. Meanwhile they
both sent secret messages to the Emperor Henry, to beg him to detain
Richard in prison as long as possible.

[Sidenote: =Richard's ransom.=]

But Henry thought more of screwing money out of his prisoner than of
keeping him for ever in his grasp. He offered to release Richard on
receiving the enormous ransom of 150,000 marks (£100,000). It was a
huge sum for England to raise, but so anxious was the nation to get
back its king, that no hesitation was made in accepting the bargain.
Meanwhile John and Philip, knowing that their enemy would soon be
loose, were stirred up to hasty action. Philip raised his host and
attacked Normandy, but was beaten off with loss from Rouen. John hired
mercenary soldiers, gathered his friends, and seized a number of the
royal castles in England. But only a small number of discontented
barons backed him, and he was held in check by the loyal majority, led
by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Hubert Walter, who put himself at the
head of the king's party. Even while this civil war was in progress,
the money for Richard's ransom was being raised, by the imposition of a
crushing tax of "one-fourth on all movable goods, and twenty shillings
on every knight's fee."

[Sidenote: =Return of Richard.=]

In the spring of 1194 the emperor gave Richard his liberty, after
receiving the stipulated sum and making his prisoner swear an oath of
homage to him for his kingdom of England. But this preposterous vow
of allegiance was not taken seriously by Richard or by England, being
wrung by force from a helpless captive. On reaching England, the king
put himself at the head of the army which was operating against the
rebels, and took Nottingham and Tickhill, the two last strongholds
which held out. John himself fled over-sea; some months later he was
pardoned by his long-suffering brother.

Thus Richard was once more a free man, and in full possession of
his realm. There was much in the state of England that required the
master's eye, but the king was far more set on punishing his neighbour,
King Philip, than on attending to the wants of his subjects. After
appointing new officials to take charge of the kingdom, and raising
great sums of money, he hurried over to Normandy to plunge into
hostilities with the French.

[Sidenote: =War with France.--Taxation and discontent.=]

England never saw Richard again; indeed, in the whole course of his
ten years' reign, he only spent seven months on this side of the
channel. His heart was always in France, where he had been bred up, and
not in England, though he had been born in the palace of Beaumont, in
Oxford, not fifty yards from the spot where these lines are written.
The remaining six years of Richard's reign were entirely occupied in
fruitless and weary border wars with the French king. It was a war of
sieges and skirmishes, not of great battles. Richard held his own,
in spite of the rebellions stirred up by Philip among his vassals
in Aquitaine; but he did not succeed in crushing his adversary, as
might have been expected from his superior military skill. In England
the struggle was only felt through the heavy taxation which the king
imposed on the land, to keep up his large mercenary army over-sea.
Archbishop Hubert Walter ruled as Justiciar with considerable wisdom
and success, and as long as Richard was sent the money that he craved,
he left the realm to itself. Hubert's rule was not altogether a quiet
one, but the very troubles that arose against him show the growing
strength of national feeling and liberty in England. In 1198, the
Great Council, headed by Hugh, Bishop of Lincoln, refused the king's
newest and most exorbitant schemes of taxation, and Hubert could not
force them to pay. London in the same year was disturbed by a great
democratic rising of the poorer citizens, headed by one William
Fitz-Osbert, called Longbeard, who rose in riot to compel the aldermen
to readjust the taxes of the city, and the Justiciar had to take arms
to put it down. Fitz-Osbert fortified himself in Bow Church, but was
wounded, taken, and hung.

[Sidenote: =Death of Richard.=]

An obscure and unworthy end was reserved for the restless and reckless
son of the great Henry. He heard that Widomar, Viscount of Limoges, one
of his vassals in Aquitaine, had found a great treasure-trove of gold,
and bade him give it up. The viscount would not surrender all his find,
so Richard laid siege to his castle of Chaluz. The place was taken, but
while directing the attack the king received a wound from a crossbow
bolt in his shoulder. His unskilful surgeons could not cure him, the
wound gangrened, and Richard saw that his days were numbered. When the
castle fell, Bertrand de Gourdon, the archer who had discharged the
fatal bolt, was sought out and brought to his bedside. "What had I done
that you should deal thus with me?" asked the king. "You slew my father
and my two brothers with your own hands," replied the soldier, "and now
I am ready to bear any torture since I know that you have to die." The
fierce answer touched a chord to which Richard could respond. He bade
his officers send the man away unharmed, but Mercadet, the chief among
his mercenary captains, kept Gourdon in bonds till the king breathed
his last, and then flayed him alive (April 6, 1199).

[Sidenote: =Rule of the Justiciar.--Coroners.=]

Of all the kings who ever ruled in this land Richard cared least for
England, and paid least attention to its needs. But his reign was not
therefore one that was harmful to his realm. The yoke of an absent
king, even if he be a spendthrift, is not so hard as that of a tyrant
who dwells at home, and England has known much worse days than those
of the later years of Richard Coeur de Lion. His ministers kept up the
traditions of the administration of Henry II., and ruled the land with
law and order, duly summoning the Great Council, assessing taxation
with its aid, and levying it with as little oppression as they could,
through agents selected by the nation. One considerable advance in
the direction of liberty was granted by Richard, when he allowed the
shire-moots to choose for themselves "_coroners_," officials who were
to take charge of the royal prerogatives in the counties in place of
the sheriff; they were to investigate such matters as murder, riot, or
injury to the king's lands or revenues, and the other offences which
were called "the pleas of the crown." Thus an officer chosen by the
people was substituted for one chosen by the crown, a great advantage
to those who were to come under his hand. The "coroner" still survives
in England, but all his duties save that of inquiring into cases of
suspicious death have long been stripped from him.

[Sidenote: =John and Arthur of Brittany.--War in France.=]

Richard the Lion-hearted left two male kinsmen to dispute about his
vast dominions. These were Arthur of Brittany, the son of his next
brother Geoffrey, and John of Cornwall, his false and turbulent
youngest brother. The English Great Council chose John as king without
any hesitation; they would not take Arthur, a mere boy of twelve, who
had never been seen in England; they preferred John in spite of his
great and obvious faults. But in the continental dominions of Richard
there was no such unanimity: the unruly barons of Anjou and Aquitaine
thought they would gain through having a powerless boy to reign over
them, rather than the unscrupulous and grasping Earl John. If it
had not been for the old queen dowager, Eleanor of Aquitaine, who
came forward to defend her best-loved son's claims, and to persuade
her Gascon vassals to adhere to his cause, John would never have
obtained any hold on the continent. By Eleanor's aid he triumphed for
a moment, but baron after baron rose against him, using Arthur's name
as his pretence, and civil war never ceased from the moment of John's
accession. Philip of France, who now, as always, had his own ends to
serve, feigned to espouse the cause of Arthur, and acknowledged him as
his uncle's heir alike in Normandy, Anjou, and Aquitaine. Thus the war
between France and England, which had dragged on through the reign of
Richard, continued in a new form all through the time of John. There
was a partial pacification in 1200, when Philip was bought off from
Arthur's cause by the cession of the county of Evreux; but he took arms
again in 1202, on the flimsy pretext that John, as Duke of Normandy,
refused to plead in French law courts against his own vassals.

[Sidenote: =Character and policy of John.=]

Philip was induced to resume the struggle mainly because of his rival's
growing unpopularity in all parts of his dominion. As king, John
displayed on a larger scale all the faults that he had shown before his
accession. All the vices of the Angevin house reached their highest
development in him; he was as hot-tempered as his father, as false as
his mother, as ungrateful as his brother Henry, as cruel, extravagant,
and reckless as his brother Richard. His own special characteristic
was a crooked and short-sighted cunning, which brought him through
the troubles of one moment only to involve him in deeper vexations in
the next. His reign in England had begun with heavy taxation for the
French war. He had irritated the baronage by divorcing his wife Hawise,
the heiress of the great earldom of Gloucester, without any cause or
reason. Then he had carried off by violence Isabella of Angoulême from
her affianced husband, the Count of La Marche, one of his greatest
vassals in Aquitaine, and married her in spite of the threats of the

[Sidenote: =Murder of Arthur of Brittany.=]

It was Count Hugh of La Marche who in revenge led the next rising of
the unruly French vassals of John. He sent for Arthur of Brittany,
who came to his aid with a great band of King Philip's knights, and
together they invaded Aquitaine and laid siege to Mirebeau, where lay
the old Queen Eleanor, John's one trusty supporter in the south. Roused
by the news of his mother's danger, the King of England made a hasty
dash on Mirebeau, surprised the rebel camp, and captured Arthur of
Brittany with all his chief supporters. This success was fated to be
his ruin, for when he found his nephew in his hands, John could not
resist the temptation to murder him. After keeping him in prison for
some months, he had him secretly slain in the castle of Rouen (April,
1203). The poor lad had only just reached the age of sixteen when he
was thus cut off.

[Sidenote: =Loss of John's continental dominions.=]

Arthur's murder profoundly shocked John's subjects on both sides of the
sea, but it was absolutely fatal to his cause in France. His rebellious
subjects, unable to use Arthur's name against their master any longer,
threw themselves into the hands of the King of France, and took him
as their direct lord and sovereign. Philip went through a solemn form
of summoning John, as Duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, to present
himself at Paris, and there be tried for slaying his nephew. When John
failed--as was natural--to appear, he was condemned in his absence, and
adjudged to have forfeited all the fiefs that he held from the French

To give effect to his sentence, Philip invaded Normandy and began to
lay siege to its fortresses. John crossed to Normandy, but did not
take the field; his conduct was so strange that men thought that some
infatuation from heaven had fallen upon him as a judgment for having
slain his nephew. He lay at Rouen for many months, giving great feasts,
and boasting that when he chose he would drive King Philip out of the
duchy. But, instead of sallying out to make his vaunts good, he quietly
looked on, while Philip took town after town with little resistance.
The Normans did not love John, and fought feebly or not at all. Only
Château Gaillard, a great castle which Richard I. had built to guard
the valley of the lower Seine, made any serious defence. Instead of
opposing the enemy, John fled from Normandy and took refuge in England.
After his departure, Rouen and the remaining cities of the duchy
threw open their gates to the French. In the following year Philip
pursued his victorious career, and completed the conquest of Anjou and
Touraine. In 1206 he fell upon Aquitaine, and conquered Poitou and
Northern Guienne. Only the great ports of Bordeaux and La Rochelle,
with the southern half of Guienne, remained true to John.

Thus passed away, not only the great but ephemeral continental empire
which Henry II. had built up, but also the Norman duchy itself, whose
fortunes had been united to those of England for nearly a century and
a half. For the future the Plantagenet kings owned only a corner of
southern France, and were no longer great continental sovereigns. The
monarch's loss was the nation's gain. England's kings were no longer
foreigners; they did not spend half their time abroad, or devote their
whole energy to schemes of aggrandisement in France. The Anglo-Norman
barons, too, were compelled to become wholly English, since their
estates over-sea fell into the hands of the enemy and passed away
from them. In this way John's cruelty and shiftlessness did more for
England's good than the wisdom and strength of his father.

But in the mean while John, being deprived of his continental
dominions, was constrained to reside in England, and proved a most
undesirable neighbour to his unhappy subjects. After an unsuccessful
attempt to reconquer Poitou in 1206, he made peace with King Philip,
on such terms as he could obtain. Bordeaux and the duchy of Guienne
remained with him, but he was compelled to acquiesce in the loss of all
his other provinces.

[Sidenote: =Quarrel with Innocent III.--Stephen Langton.=]

John was barely quit of his disastrous French war when he became
involved in a quarrel with the papacy, of which the issue was even
more disgraceful than that of his strife with King Philip. In 1205
died Archbishop Hubert Walter, who had served King Richard so well
as Justiciar. In ordinary times his successor would have been duly
nominated by the king and elected by the monks of Canterbury, who
formed the cathedral chapter of that see. But John was in evil plight
at the time; he was universally disliked, and the clergy all over
Europe were being spurred on by the example of the bold and arrogant
Pope Innocent III. to assert new and unheard-of claims and privileges.
When the news of Hubert's death was brought, a majority of the monks
of Canterbury met in secret conclave and elected Reginald, their
sub-prior, as archbishop, without asking the king's leave. Reginald
at once started off for Rome to get his appointment confirmed by Pope
Innocent. When John heard what had been done, he came to Canterbury in
great wrath, and by threats and menaces compelled the monks to proceed
to a second election, and to chose his favourite, John de Grey, Bishop
of Norwich, to fill Hubert Walter's place. He then sent an embassy to
Rome to submit this election to the Pope. But Innocent III. would have
neither Reginald nor John for archbishop; he said that the first had
been secretly and illegally chosen, while the second had been imposed
on the chapter by force and threats. Then he took the unprecedented
step of appointing to the see himself; he made the representatives
of both John and Reginald come before him, and frightened or cajoled
them into accepting his nominee, Stephen Langton, a worthy and learned
English cardinal who resided with him at Rome. Langton was personally
all that could be desired, but it was a flagrantly illegal usurpation
that the Pope should impose him on the English king and nation without
their consent.

[Sidenote: =The interdict.=]

John was driven to fury by this arrogant claim of the Pope. He refused
to accept the nomination, or to allow Langton to enter England. In
return Innocent laid an interdict on the realm, suspending on his own
authority the celebration of divine service, closing the churches, and
even prohibiting the dead from being buried in consecrated ground. If
the English Church had stood by the king and refused to take notice
of this harsh decree, it would have been of little effect. But the
clergy always followed the Pope; they looked upon themselves as a
great international guild depending on the Roman see, and disregarded
all their rights and sympathies as Englishmen. The majority of the
bishops published the interdict, and bade their flocks observe it. Many
of them, fearing John's inevitable wrath, fled over-sea the moment
that they had promulgated the sentence (1208). They were wise to do
so, for the king raged furiously against the whole body of clergy; he
exiled the monks of Canterbury, seized the estates and revenues of the
absconding bishops, and declared that, till the interdict was removed,
all ecclesiastical persons should be outside the pale of the law. They
should not be allowed to appear in the courts, and no one who molested
them should be punished. John set the example of seizing clerical
property himself, and many of his courtiers and officers followed his

[Sidenote: =The Pope deposes John.=]

Thus began a long struggle between the power of the Pope and that
of the king. For five years it continued, to the great misery of
England, for the nation was deeply religious, and felt most keenly the
deprivation of all its spiritual privileges. Yet for a long time the
people stood by the king, for it was generally felt that the Pope's
arbitrary conduct was indefensible. John himself cared nought for
papal censures, as long as nothing more than spiritual pressure was
brought to bear on him. He filled his coffers with Church money, and
laughed at the interdict. But presently Innocent found a more effective
way of bending the king's will. He proclaimed that he would depose John
for contumacy, and give his kingdom to another. The mandate to drive
him out was entrusted to John's old and active foe, Philip of France,
who at once began to prepare a great fleet and army in Normandy (1213).

[Sidenote: =John's surrender.=]

The English barons and people were more angered than frightened, and
a great army mustered on Barham Down, in Kent, to oppose the French
landing. But the king himself was much cowed by the Pope's threat. He
knew that he was disliked and despised by his subjects, and he did not
trust them in the hour of danger. Instead of fighting the quarrel out,
he made secret proffers of submission. So the Pope's envoy, Pandulf,
came to Dover, and received John's abject surrender. Not only did he
agree to acknowledge Langton as archbishop, and to restore all the
lands and revenues of which he had robbed the Church, but he stooped to
win Innocent's favour by doing homage to him, and declaring the kingdom
of England a fief of the Holy See. He gave his crown into Pandulf's
hands, and then took it back from him as a gift from the Pope. In
return the papal mandate to Philip was withdrawn, and Pandulf bade the
French king dismiss his fleet and army, and cease to make war on the
vassal of the Church (May, 1213).

John's gift of the English crown to the Pope had been done secretly and
privately, without any summoning or consulting of the Great Council;
it had been accomplished behind the back of the nation. When it became
known, the baronage and the people were alike disgusted at the king's
grovelling submission. He had induced them to suffer untold miseries in
his cause, and had then left them in the lurch and surrendered all that
they had been fighting for.

[Sidenote: =Destruction of the French fleet.=]

For the moment, however, John's intrigue had its success. The papal
approval was withdrawn from the King of France, and--what was of more
importance--an English fleet under William Longsword, the Earl of
Salisbury fell upon the French invasion-flotilla as it lay in the
Port of Damme, and took or sunk well-nigh every vessel. The king was
free from danger again, and talked of taking the offensive against the
French and crushing his enemy Philip.

[Sidenote: =The baronage and Archbishop Langton.=]

The last act of John's troubled reign was now beginning. While the king
was dreaming of nothing but war in France, the nation was preparing
to put a stop to his erratic and tyrannical rule by armed force. When
Archbishop Langton was received in England, he proved himself no mere
creature of the Pope, but a good Englishman. One of his first acts
was to propose to the baronage, at a great assembly in St. Paul's
Cathedral, that the king should be asked to ratify and reissue the
charter that his great-grandfather Henry I. had granted to the English
people, binding himself to abstain from all vexatious and oppressive
customs, and abide by the ancient customs of the realm. This proposal
was accepted at once by the great majority of the barons as the wisest
and most constitutional means of bringing pressure on the king.

[Sidenote: =Invasion of France.--Defeat and return of John.=]

John meanwhile had called out the whole military force of the nation
for an invasion of France. But all the barons of the North refused to
follow him, and so great was the discontent of the English that he had
mainly to depend on foreign mercenaries. He staked all his fortunes on
the ensuing campaign, believing that if he could reconquer his lost
continental dominions, he would afterwards win his way to complete
control in England. His schemes were very far-reaching: Philip was to
be attacked from north and south at once; while John was to land in
Poitou and march on the Loire, a great confederacy of John's allies
were to assail France from the north. This league was headed by John's
nephew, Otho of Saxony, who claimed the title of emperor, but had
been withstood in Germany by competitors whom Philip of France had
supported. In revenge Otho gathered a North-German army, supported
by the Dukes of Brabant and Holland, and the Counts of Boulogne and
Flanders. John sent a mercenary force under the Earl of Salisbury to
join him, and the combined host entered France and met King Philip at
Bouvines, near Lille. John had trusted that his own attack on southern
France would have distracted the French king's attention, but Philip
left him almost unopposed, and gathered the whole force of France to
oppose the Germans and Flemings. While John was overrunning Poitou and
storming Angers, Philip was crushing his confederates. At the battle
of Bouvines the combined army was scattered to the winds; the emperor
was put to flight, and the Earl of Salisbury and the Count of Boulogne
captured (July 27, 1214). Otho of Saxony was ruined by the fight, and
never raised his head again; nor did any German host invade France for
the next three hundred years. John, though he had not been present at
the fight, was as effectually crushed as Otho. Free from danger from
the north, the French king turned upon him, and drove him out of his
ephemeral conquests in Poitou, so that he had to return to England
completely foiled and beaten.

[Sidenote: =The barons take up arms.=]

But in England John had now to face his angry baronage. When he came
home in wrath, and began to threaten to punish every man who had not
followed him to the invasion of France, the barons drew together
and prepared for armed resistance. In earlier days we have seen the
English nobility withstanding the king in the cause of feudal anarchy.
In the time of Stephen or of Henry II., the crown had represented
the interests of the nation, and the barons those of their own class
alone. It was then for England's good that the king should succeed in
establishing a strong central government by putting down his turbulent
vassals. But now things were changed. Henry II. had made the crown so
strong that the nation was in far greater danger of misgovernment by
a tyrannical king than of anarchy under a mob of feudal chiefs. The
barons did not any longer represent themselves alone; they were closely
allied both with the Church and with the people for the defence of the
common rights of all three against a grasping and unscrupulous monarch.
In the present struggle the baronage were headed by the Archbishop of
Canterbury, their wisest counsellor, and they were everywhere supported
both by the towns and by the smaller freemen of the whole realm.
We shall see that in the oncoming struggle they demanded, not new
privileges for themselves, but law and liberty for every subject of the
English crown.

The first meeting of the barons was held at Bury St. Edmunds, in
November, 1214: it was attended mainly by the lords of the North; the
majority of the nobility had not yet moved. They formulated their
demand that the king should give England a charter of liberties, drew
up a list of the points which were to be insisted on, and determined
to go in arms to the king at Christmas to lay their requests before
him. John was seriously frightened; he asked the Pope's aid, took the
vows of a crusader in order to get the sympathy of the Church on his
side, and collected an army of mercenaries. But when he sounded the
intentions of those of his vassals who had not yet taken arms, he found
that one and all approved of the demands of the insurgent barons, and
refused to aid him against them.

[Sidenote: =Meeting at Runnymede.=]

John was always lacking in moral courage; instead of taking the field
at the head of his mercenaries, he began to treat with the rebels,
resolved to grant all they asked, and then to bide his time and
repudiate his promises at the earliest possible opportunity. So befell
the famous meeting at Runnymede, where the king solemnly swore to grant
all the provisions of the "Great Charter," which had been drawn up for
his signature by Archbishop Langton and a committee composed of an
equal number of the insurgent barons and of those who had not taken up

[Sidenote: =The Great Charter.=]

The Great Charter was signed on the 15th of June, 1215, in the presence
of the archbishop, the whole of the baronage, and a vast assembly of
all ranks. It is a document of sixty-three clauses, of which many were
quite trivial and related to purely personal or local grievances. But
the important part of its provisions may be summed up under six heads.

Firstly, the king promises that "the English Church shall be
free"--free, that is, from violent interference in the election of its
prelates, and from illegal taxation.

Secondly, the feudal rights of the king over his tenants-in-chief are
defined. He is only to raise the customary "aids" and dues, and their
amount is laid down. His rights of wardship over widows and orphans are
stated and limited. In a similar way the tenants-in-chief promise to
exercise only these same rights over their own vassals.

Thirdly, there is to be no taxation without the consent of the Great
Council--the first indication of the control of Parliament over the
national revenues.

Fourthly, the administration of justice is to be strengthened and
purified. No one is to be tried or punished more than once for the same
offence. No one is to be imprisoned on the king's private fiat, but if
arrested he must be at once put on trial, and that before a jury of
his peers. Fines for every sort of offence are to be fixed and made
proportionate to the crime, not to the king's idea of the amount he
could extract from the criminal.

Fifthly, the king is not to put foreigners, ignorant of the laws of
England, in any judicial or administrative post, and he is at once to
dismiss all his foreign mercenary troops.

Sixthly, the city of London, and all other cities which enjoy rights
and privileges under earlier royal charters, are to be fully confirmed
in them.

The Great Charter then plunges into a mass of smaller grievances, where
we need not follow it. But it ends with a most peculiar and important
clause, which shows how little the baronage trusted the king. A body of
twenty-five guardians of the Charter is appointed, who undertake to see
that the king carries it out, and they are authorized to constrain him
to observe it by force of arms if he swerves from his plighted word.
These guardians include seven earls, fourteen barons, three sons of
great lords whose fathers still survived, and the Mayor of London.

The character of _Magna Carta_ is very noticeable; it is rather
unsystematic in shape, being mainly composed of a list of grievances
which are to be remedied. It does not purport to be a full statement of
the English constitution, but only a recapitulation of the points on
which the king had violated it. But it is not merely a check on John's
evil doings, but a solemn engagement between the king, the barons,
the Church, and the people that each shall respect the rights of the
other. Wherever it is stated that the king is to abstain from using
any particular malpractice against his vassals, it is also added that
his vassals will on their part never use that same form of oppression
against their own tenants. Thus it guarantees the rights of the small
man against the great, no less than those of the great man against the
king. It is in this respect that the Charter differs from many grants
of privileges exacted by foreign nobles from foreign kings. Abroad the
barons often curbed the royal power, but they did it for their own
selfish ends alone, not for the common good of the nation.

[Sidenote: =John's faithlessness.--Attitude of the Pope.=]

John had signed the Charter in a moment of fear and depression of
spirits. He did not intend to observe it a moment longer than he could
help, and called its provisions "mere foolishness." When the barons
dispersed, he violated his engagements by gathering another great horde
of mercenaries, and sent to Rome to his suzerain Innocent III., to get
absolution from the oath he had sworn. As he had once utilized the
nation against the Pope, so he would now utilize the Pope against the

[Sidenote: =Civil war.=]

Innocent, who cared nothing for the rights or wrongs of England,
resolved to support his obedient vassal. He censured Archbishop Langton
for siding with the barons, and summoned him to Rome to answer for his
conduct. He freed the king from his oath, and he swore that he would
excommunicate any man who took arms against him. But John had taught
his barons to despise ecclesiastical thunders. They flew to arms, and
war broke out. The king at first had the advantage; his mercenaries
were all at hand, and the barons were scattered and unorganized. The
king took Rochester, and hung the garrison who held out against him,
and then started northward, harrying the land with fire and sword as
far as Berwick.

[Sidenote: =Lewis of France elected king by the barons.=]

Provoked beyond endurance, the majority of the barons swore that they
would cast away John and all his house. They declared him deposed,
and resolved to choose a new king. But they made a great mistake in
their choice, for they offered the crown to Lewis, the Prince-royal
of France, who had married Blanche, one of John's nieces. Any other
candidate would have been better, for Lewis was the son of King Philip,
the great enemy of England, and by calling him in, the barons seemed to
be allying themselves with the national foe. Many who would have gladly
served against John in another cause, refused to take arms in that of
the Frenchman (1216).

[Sidenote: =Lewis in England.--Death of John.=]

Meanwhile Prince Lewis landed in Kent, was received into London, and
became master of all eastern England. But he soon found that he was the
king of a faction, not of the whole nation. Many of the barons joined
John rather than serve a foreigner; many more remained neutral. The
whole realm was divided; here and there castles and towns held out
against the new king, and in especial the seamen and merchants of the
Cinque Ports refused to open their gates to a Frenchman. John resolved
to try the ordeal of battle; he took Lincoln, and marched southward.
But while his army was crossing the sea-marshes of the Wash it was
overtaken by a high tide, and all his baggage and treasure, with many
of his men, were swept away. John himself escaped with difficulty,
and fell ill next day, of rage and grief and overexertion, as is most
probable, though contemporary writers thought he had been poisoned. To
the great benefit of England, he died within a week of his seizure, at
Newark Castle (October 19, 1216). No man had a good word to say for
him; cruel, perjured, rash and cowardly by turns, an evil-liver, a
treacherous son and brother, he was loathed by every one who knew him.




The moment that John was dead, the insurgent barons began to be
conscious of the huge mistake that they had made in calling over Lewis
of France to their aid. John's successor was his eldest son Henry,
a young boy of nine, against whom no one could feel any personal
objection. But the rebels had committed themselves to the cause of
Lewis, and could not go back. The civil war therefore continued, but
the supporters of Lewis were without heart or enthusiasm in his cause.

[Sidenote: =William, Earl of Pembroke.--Henry crowned.=]

The young Henry was in the hands of William the Marshal, Earl of
Pembroke, one of the great barons who had refused to join Lewis.
Pembroke at once crowned the young king at Gloucester, and made him
declare his adherence to the Great Charter, and solemnly republish it.
This act cut away the ground from under the feet of Lewis's party, as
they could not any longer pretend that they were fighting merely to
recover their constitutional rights. One after another they began to
drop away, and go over to Henry's side.

[Sidenote: =Defeat of Lewis.--English naval victory.=]

The fortune of the civil war soon began to turn in favour of the young
king. It was decided by two great battles. Lincoln castle was being
besieged by the followers of Lewis, French and English. To relieve it
William the Marshal set out with a small army, and, surprising the
enemy in the streets of the town, while they were busied in the siege,
he inflicted a great defeat upon them. Most of the great English barons
of Lewis's party were taken prisoners in the fray. Shortly after a
second decisive engagement completely shattered Lewis's hopes. He was
expecting great reinforcements from France, which were to be brought
to him by a fleet commanded by Eustace the Monk, a cruel pirate captain
whom he had hired to serve him because of his naval skill. But Hubert
de Burgh, the Justiciar of King Henry, put to sea from Dover with a
small squadron of ships raised from the Cinque Ports, and met the
French in mid-channel off Sandwich. The English had the better, most
of the hostile vessels were captured, and Eustace the Monk was taken
and hung for his former piracies. This was the first great naval battle
which an English fleet ever won.

Deprived of hope of succour from France, and seeing most of his
English supporters captives in Pembroke's hands, Prince Lewis resolved
to abandon his enterprise and leave England. He proffered terms to
Pembroke and de Burgh, who eagerly accepted them. So by the treaty of
Lambeth he undertook to depart and give up his claim to the crown,
while the Earl Marshal and Justiciar on their part consented to grant
an amnesty to all Lewis's partisans, and to restore them to possession
of their estates. To facilitate Lewis's quick retreat he was given a
sum of 10,000 marks (September 17, 1217).

[Sidenote: =Hubert de Burgh Justiciar.=]

Thus the civil war came to an end, but its evil effects long endured,
William of Pembroke, who acted till his death in 1219 as regent of the
realm, did all that he could to quiet matters down; but there was much
trouble left to his successor, Hubert de Burgh, the great Justiciar,
who bore sway in England for all the remaining years of King Henry's
minority. Hubert conferred many and signal benefits on the realm.
He discomfited an attempt of the Pope to govern England through his
legates, under the plea that John's homage of 1213 made the kingdom the
property of the Holy See. He put down the turbulence of many of John's
old courtiers and mercenaries, who, presuming on their fidelity in the
civil war, refused obedience to the law of the land. The leaders of
these persons were Peter des Roches, an intriguing Poitevin whom John
had made Bishop of Winchester, and Fawkes de Bréauté, who had been the
chief captain of the late king's Gascon soldiers. Peter was compelled
to go on a Crusade, and Fawkes was crushed by force of arms when he
presumed to refuse to give up the king's castle of Bedford, and had
the impudence to seize and imprison a justice of assize who had given
a legal decision against him. Fawkes himself escaped over-seas, but
de Burgh took Bedford Castle, and hung William de Bréauté, the rebel's
brother, because he had dared to hold out against the king's name

[Sidenote: =Character of Henry.--His foreign favourites.=]

Hubert's wise and salutary rule endured till the king came of age
(1227), and for some years after he was still retained as Justiciar.
But Henry, on coming to maturity, soon showed himself jealous of the
great man who had protected his helpless boyhood. The new king was
a strange mixture of good and evil. He was a handsome, courteous
youth, blameless in his private life, and kind and liberal to his
friends. He proved a good father and husband, and a great friend to
the Church. He loved the fine arts, and built many stately edifices,
of which the famous abbey of Westminster is the best known. But he
had many serious faults: he was an incorrigible spendthrift; he was
quite incapable of keeping any promise for more than a few days. He
was of a busy volatile disposition, always vaulting from project to
project, and never carrying to its end any one single plan. Being full
of self-confidence he much disliked any one who gave him unpalatable
counsel, or strove to keep him from any of his wild ephemeral schemes.
This was the secret of his ingratitude to Hubert de Burgh, who never
shrank from opposing his young master when the occasion demanded it.
Moreover, Henry had the great fault of loving foreigners over-much; he
surrounded himself with a horde of his relatives from the continent.
His wife Eleanor of Provence brought a host of brothers and uncles
from Savoy and southern France, and his mother sent over to England
her children by her second marriage with her old lover, the Count of
La Marche.[17] On these kinsmen Henry lavished not only great gifts of
money, but earldoms, baronies, and bishoprics, to the great vexation
of the English. His strangest act was to confer the archbishopric of
Canterbury on his wife's uncle, Boniface of Savoy, a flighty young man
of most unclerical habits. Henry was not cruel or malicious, like his
father, and personally he was not disliked by his subjects, a fact
which explains the patience with which they bore his vagaries for many
years. But his actions were nearly always unwise, and his undertakings
were invariably unsuccessful, so that his long-suffering vassals were
at last constrained to take the reins of government out of his hands.

[Sidenote: =Dismissal of Hubert de Burgh.--Personal government.=]

For thirty years, however, Henry worked his will on England (1228-58)
before drawing down the storm on his head. For the first five of them
he was still somewhat restrained by the influence of Hubert de Burgh.
But in 1232 the old Justiciar was not only dismissed, but thrown into
prison, because Henry was wroth with him for frustrating an unwise and
unnecessary war with France. But the king's ingratitude provoked such
angry opposition that Hubert was ultimately released, and suffered to
dwell in peace on his own lands.

After dismissing Hubert, Henry threw himself into the hands of Peter
des Roches, the Bishop of Winchester, one of John's old courtiers.
Peter knew or cared nothing about English laws and customs, and led the
king into so many illegal and unconstitutional acts, that the whole
nation called for his banishment. At last the Great Council, led by
Edmund of Abingdon, the saintly Archbishop of Canterbury, frightened
the king into dismissing him (1234).

But England did not profit very much by Peter's fall. Henry resolved
to become his own prime minister; he did not appoint any one to the
office of Justiciar, and a little later he abolished that of Chancellor
also. He thought that he would act as his own chief justice and private
secretary, but, as he was no less volatile than busy, he only succeeded
in getting all public business into hopeless arrears.

[Sidenote: =War with France.=]

Henry's personal government endured for the weary time of twenty-four
years. The events of the period were very insignificant, and only call
for very brief mention. The sole foreign war was a brief struggle with
Lewis IX. of France. One of Henry's many ephemeral schemes was the idea
of winning back the continental dominions that his father had lost.
So in 1241 he picked a quarrel with the good King Lewis, and invaded
Poitou. He was disgracefully beaten at the battle of Taillebourg
(1242), and was forced to make peace. The mild and pious King of France
contented himself with leaving things as they had been before the
war, though if he had chosen he might have forced Henry to surrender
Bordeaux and Guienne, the last possessions of the English crown beyond
the seas.

[Sidenote: =Henry's servility to the pope.--Exasperation of the

Far worse for England than Henry's abortive invasion of France were his
dealings with the papacy. Henry was a devoted servant of the Church,
and whenever the Popes tried to lay any burden on England, Henry did
his best to make the nation submit. Rome was at this time deep in a
struggle with the brave and brilliant Emperor Frederic II., and the
Popes were always wanting money to keep up the war against him. In
1238 Gregory IX. sent over to England his legate, Cardinal Otho, who
pretended to come to reform the clergy, but really did little more
than extort great sums of money from them, on all possible excuses.
When he left the realm it was said that he took more English Church
treasure with him than he left behind, and he had thrust 300 Italian
priests into English benefices by the aid of the king's patronage. A
few years later Henry allowed himself to be made the Pope's tool in
an even more disgraceful way. Alexander IV. was trying to wrest the
kingdom of Sicily from the heirs of the Emperor Frederic II., and,
as he could not succeed by his own strength, determined to make the
docile King of England do the work for him. So he offered to make
Henry's younger son Edmund, a boy of ten, King of Sicily, if Henry
would undertake the expense of conquering that country. The scheme was
just one of the wild adventurous plans that took the flighty monarch's
fancy, so he eagerly accepted the Sicilian crown for his son, and
promised the Pope that he would find the money to raise a great army.
But as he had never any gold in his own treasury--since he spent it all
on his buildings and his wife's relatives--he had to raise the great
sums required for the invasion of Sicily out of the nation. In 1257,
therefore, he summoned the Great Council, and told them that he must at
once have liberal grants from them, because he had pledged England's
credit to the Pope, and had made the realm responsible to Alexander
IV. for 140,000 marks. The baronage were full of rage and disgust, for
the conquest of Sicily was no concern of England's, but a matter of
private spite on the part of the papacy. And, moreover, the king had
not the least right to pledge the revenues of England to Alexander
without having consulted the Great Council. Instead, therefore, of a
grant of 140,000 marks, Henry received the outpourings of thirty years
of suppressed indignation and discontent. He was told that he could
no longer be allowed to rule the realm without the aid and counsel of
his barons; that his interference in distant wars was foolish; that his
foreign relations were a flight of locusts eating up the land; that
his ministers and favourites were unjust, greedy, and extortionate.
The king was seriously frightened, and consented to call another Great
Council together at Oxford, to provide for the better governance of the
realm, and not merely for the payment of his own debts.

[Sidenote: =Simon de Montfort.=]

The sudden outburst of wrath on the part of the baronage in 1258 is
explained not only by the fact that all men had lost patience with King
Henry, for that had been the case for many years, but much more by the
fact that the baronage had at last found a champion and mouthpiece in
Simon de Montfort, the great Earl of Leicester. Simon was not one who
might have been expected to prove a wise and patriotic statesman and a
good Englishman, for he had originally come into notice as one of the
king's foreign favourites. His grandmother had been the heiress of the
earldom of Leicester, but she had married a Frenchman, the Count of
Montfort. Their child was Simon the elder, a great crusading chief and
a cruel persecutor of heretics. He was a bitter enemy of King John,
and had never been permitted to get hold of the Leicester estates. In
1232 his son Simon the younger came across to England, to beg King
Henry to make over to him the confiscated lands of his grandmother's
earldom. Henry could never resist a petitioner, especially when he was
a foreigner; he not only took Simon into favour and granted him the
earldom of Leicester, but he married him to his sister, the Princess
Eleanor, and for a time made him his confidant. But the king's sudden
friendship did not endure, and ere very long he tired of Simon, and
sent him over to govern Guienne, which was always in a state of chronic
insurrection. Simon put down rebellion with a strong hand, and made
himself unpopular with the Gascons, who sent many complaints of him
to the king. But the fatal cause of estrangement between him and the
earl was a money matter: Simon had expended large sums in the king's
service, using his own money and borrowing more. When he sent in his
accounts to Henry, the latter could not or would not pay, and very
meanly allowed the loss to fall on Simon (1250).

Simon then settled down into opposition to the king, though he was
ready enough to serve the realm in all times of danger. He had now been
living for many years in England, and his neighbours found him a just
and sincere man, and one who had done his best to accustom himself to
English ways of life and thought. He was especially beloved by the
clergy, who admired his fervent piety and pure life. So it came to pass
that the man who had once been known only as the king's favourite, was
called Earl Simon the Righteous, and looked upon as the most patriotic
and trustworthy of the nobles of the realm.

Great men had been singularly wanting among the ranks of the English
baronage, since William of Pembroke died and Hubert de Burgh was
disgraced. It was not till Simon came to the front as the king's
opponent that the nation's discontent with Henry was adequately

[Sidenote: =The Provisions of Oxford.=]

The Great Council--or Parliament as we may now call it, since that
word was just coming into use--met at Oxford in June, 1258, to take
counsel for the better administration of England. Some called it the
"Mad Parliament," because of the anger of the barons, and their desire
to make hasty and sweeping changes. Henry, when he met it, found that
he had no supporters save his foreign kinsmen and a few personal
dependents, so that he was forced to submit to all the conditions which
the barons imposed upon him.

So were ratified the "Provisions of Oxford," which provided for the
government of England, not by the king, but by a group of committees.
Henry was to do nothing without the consent of a privy council of
fifteen members, which was now imposed upon him. Another committee
of twenty-four was to investigate and right all the grievances of
the realm; and a third, also of twenty-four, was to take charge of
the financial side of the government, pay off the king's debts, and
administer his revenues. Henry was forced to make a solemn oath to
abide by the rules stated in Magna Carta, which he had often before
promised to keep, but had always evaded or disregarded after a time.

By the Provisions of Oxford the governance of the realm was taken
altogether out of the hands of the king, and handed over to those of
the three committees. But the new scheme was far too cumbersome, for
neither of the three bodies had any authority over the others, and it
was difficult to keep them together. There were many who were jealous
of Simon de Montfort, who sat in each of the three, and was the ruling
spirit of the whole government. It was said that he took too much upon
himself, and that the nation had not muzzled the king merely in order
to hand itself over to be governed by the earl.

[Sidenote: =Counter-efforts of Henry.--The Mise of Amiens.=]

In spite of these murmurings, and in spite of the king's attempts to
shake off the control which had been imposed on him, the Provisions of
Oxford were observed for four years. But Henry was preparing to tear
himself free as soon as possible. He sent privately to Rome and got
absolved from his oath by the Pope. He courted those who were jealous
of Earl Simon, and he encouraged many of his foreign relatives and
dependents to creep back to England. In 1261 he felt strong enough to
break loose, seized the Tower of London, and raised an army. But he
found himself too weak, dared not come to blows with the adherents of
the Provisions of Oxford, and again consented to place himself in the
hands of the guarantors. But as disputes about his conduct continued to
arise, he offered to submit his rights, and those of the barons, to the
arbitration of his neighbour, St. Lewis of France, whose probity was
recognized by all the world. Simon and his friends consented--an unwise
act, for they might have remembered that the French king was not well
acquainted with the constitution or the needs of England. By a decision
called the _Mise of Amiens_, from the city at which it was proclaimed,
St. Lewis announced that Henry ought to abide by the customs stated in
Magna Carta, but that he need not keep the Provisions of Oxford, which
were dishonourable to his crown and kingly dignity (1263).

[Sidenote: =Civil war breaks out.=]

The Mise of Amiens precipitated the outbreak of civil war, for Simon
and his party refused to accept the decision which had been given
against them, though they had promised to abide by it. This flinching
from their word alienated from them many who would otherwise have taken
the side of reform, and it was felt that a grave responsibility lay
on Simon for striking the first blow. Hence it came to pass that the
king was supported by a larger party than might have been expected. His
own brother and son, Richard of Cornwall and Prince Edward, who had
hitherto usually leaned to the party of reform and striven to guide
him towards moderation, now supported him with all their power. The
Earls of Norfolk and Hereford and many other great barons also took
arms in his favour. Earl Simon, on the other hand, was helped by the
Earls of Gloucester and Derby, and enthusiastically supported by the
citizens of London, who had been maddened by the king's arbitrary taxes.

[Illustration: BATTLE OF LEWES.]

[Sidenote: =Battle of Lewes.--The Mise of Lewes.=]

When, after much preliminary fighting, the armies of Henry and Simon
faced each other in Sussex for a decisive battle, it was found that the
king had much the larger army. He drew up his host outside the walls
of Lewes, while Simon, who had marched from London, lay on the downs
beyond it. When the shock came, the fiery Prince Edward, who led the
right wing of the royalists, fell furiously on Simon's left wing, which
was mainly composed of the levies of London, and drove them far off the
field. But, carried away by his pursuit, he never thought of returning
to help his father, and meanwhile Earl Simon had beaten the king's
division, and rolled the royalist army back against the town wall of
Lewes, where those of them who could not enter the gate at once were
taken prisoners. Among the captives were the king himself, his brother
Richard of Cornwall, and most of the chiefs of the royalist party.
Prince Edward, rather than continue the civil war, gave himself up to
the insurgents on the following day, to share his father's fate (May,

The immediate result of the battle was the issue of a document called
the _Mise of Lewes_, by which King Henry promised to keep the charter,
to dismiss all his foreign relatives and dependents, and to place
himself under the control of a privy council, whom Parliament should
choose to act as his ministers and guardians.

[Sidenote: =Rule of Simon de Montfort.--Captivity of the king and
Prince Edward.=]

A Parliament was hastily summoned and delegated three electors
to nominate this privy council, namely, Earl Simon, the Earl of
Gloucester, and the Bishop of Chichester. The electors, naturally but
unwisely, appointed none but their own trusted supporters. Thus England
came under the rule of a party, and a party whose violent action had
been disliked by a great portion of the nation. The king was but a
puppet in their hands; he was practically their prisoner, for three
of the council always attended his steps and kept him in sight. Now,
Henry, irritating and faithless as his conduct had always been, was
not personally disliked, and the sight of their monarch led about
like a captive and forced to obey every behest of his captors, was
very displeasing to many who had formerly felt no sympathy for him.
It was felt, too, that his son Edward was being very hardly treated
by being kept in honourable captivity and deprived of all share in
the government; for the prince had taken the side of reform till the
outbreak of the civil war, had only joined his father when Simon took
arms, and had behaved with great patriotism and self-denial in refusing
to continue the struggle after Lewes.

For two years Earl Simon governed England, and the king was kept under
close guard. This period was not one of peace or prosperity; the land
was still troubled by the echoes of the civil war, and in his anxiety
to maintain his dominant position the earl incurred many accusations of
harshness and rapacity. He was especially blamed for depriving Prince
Edward of his earldom of Chester, for favouring Llewellyn Prince of
North Wales in his quarrel with Roger Mortimer, a great lord of the
Welsh marches who had been on the king's side at Lewes, but most of
all for giving too much trust and power to his own sons. The young
Montforts were rash and arrogant men, who harmed the people's cause
more by their turbulence than they aided it by their courage and
fidelity. In short, they were as Samuel's sons of old, and wrought
their father no small damage and discredit.

[Sidenote: =The Parliament of 1265.--Representation of Shires and

The chief event for which Earl Simon's tenure of power is remembered
is his summons of the celebrated Parliament of 1265. This incident is
noteworthy, not so much for anything that the Parliament did, as for
the new system on which it was constructed. Hitherto the Great Council
had usually been composed only of the barons and bishops, though on
two or three occasions in the thirteenth century the smaller vassals
of the crown had been represented by the summons of two knights from
each shire, chosen in the county court by all the freeholders of
the district. But de Montfort not only called these "knights of the
shire" to his Parliament of 1265, but also summoned two citizens
or two burgesses from each of the chief cities and boroughs of the
realm. Thus he was the first to give the towns representation, and to
put together the three elements, lords, borough members, and county
members, which form the Parliament of to-day. It must be confessed that
Simon's immediate object was probably to strengthen his own side in the
assembly, rather than to initiate a scheme for the reform of the Great
Council in a democratic direction. Many barons were against him, and
them he did not summon at all. Many more were jealous or distrustful
of him, and it was mainly in order to swamp their opposition that he
called up the great body of knights of the shire and members for the
towns,--for London and the rest of the chartered cities were strongly
in favour of his cause.

This Parliament confirmed all Simon's acts; outlawed those of the
king's party who had fled over-seas, and refused to accept the terms
of the Mise of Lewes; imposed a three-years exile in Ireland on some
of those who had made only a tardy submission, and put all the royal
castles into the hands of trusty partisans of the earl. It made few
regulations for the better governance of the realm, but left everything
in Simon's hands and at his discretion.

[Sidenote: =Prince Edward escapes.=]

It was impossible that the regency of the great earl should last
for long. There were too many men in England who felt that it was
unseemly that the king and his son should live in close restraint,
while one who, in spite of all his merits, was still a foreigner and
an adventurer, ruled the realm. The beginning of Simon's troubles
came from a quarrel with his own chief supporter, the young Earl of
Gloucester. Gilbert de Clare thought that he was not admitted to a
sufficient share in the government of the kingdom, and soon fell into
a bitter feud with Simon's sons. His anger led him into conspiring
against the great earl. By his counsel Prince Edward escaped from his
keepers, by an easy stratagem and a swift horse. Once free, the prince
called his party to arms, and was joined by Gloucester, Mortimer, and
many of the barons of the Welsh marches.

[Illustration: BATTLE OF EVESHAM.]

On hearing of this rising in the west, Montfort hurried to the Welsh
border with a small army, taking the king in his train. He bade Simon,
the second of his sons, to collect a larger army and follow him.
But Edward and Gloucester seized the line of the Severn, and threw
themselves between father and son. The earl retraced his steps, slipped
back across the Severn, and reached Evesham, while his son had marched
as far as Kenilworth, so that a few miles only separated them. But
Edward lay between, and was eager for the fight.

[Sidenote: =Battle of Evesham.--Death of Simon de Montfort.=]

By a sudden and unexpected attack the prince surprised and scattered
young Montfort's army under the walls of Kenilworth; he then hurried
off to attack Simon. The earl lay in Evesham town, which is girt round
by a deep loop of the river Avon. Edward and Gloucester seized the
narrow neck of this loop, while another royalist force, under Mortimer,
crossed the river and watched the only bridge which leads southward out
of the town. Simon awoke to find himself surrounded. "God have mercy
on our souls," he cried, "for our bodies are our enemy's." Gathering
his little army in a compact mass, he dashed at the prince's superior
force, and tried to cut his way through. But the odds were against
him, and after a short sharp fight he was slain, with his eldest son
Henry, Hugh Despencer the Justiciar of England, and many of the best
knights of the baronial party. King Henry almost shared their fate: he
had been compelled to put on his armour and ride in the earl's host,
and was wounded and almost slain before he was recognized by his son's
victorious soldiery.

Thus died Earl Simon the Righteous, a man much loved by those who knew
him well, courteous and kindly, pious and honest, wise and liberal. But
it cannot be denied that he was touched by an overweening ambition, and
that when England fell beneath his hand, he ruled her more as a king
than a regent, and forgot that he was but the deputy and representative
of the nation. His rise and success freed England from the thriftless
rule of Henry, and set a boundary to the use of the royal prerogative.
His short tenure of power gave the realm the valuable gift of the full
and representative Parliament. His fall was sad but not disastrous to
the English, for his work was done, and he was fast drifting into the
position of the autocratic leader of a party, and ceasing to be the
true exponent of the will of the whole nation.

[Sidenote: =Ascendency of Prince Edward.=]

The best testimony to the benefits that Simon had conferred on England
was the fact that Henry III. never fell back into his old ways. He
was now an elderly man, and in his captivity had lost much of his
self-confidence and restless activity. He had been freed, not by his
own power, but by his son and the Earl of Gloucester, both of whom had
been friends of reform, though enemies of Simon. Edward had now won an
ascendency over his father which he never let slip, and his voice had
for the future a preponderant share in the royal council. It is to his
influence that we may ascribe the wise moderation with which the relics
of Simon's party were treated.

[Sidenote: =End of the civil war.=]

Evesham fight did not end the war, for the three surviving sons of
Simon, with the Earl of Derby and some other resolute friends, still
held out. It took two years more to crush out the last sparks of civil
strife, for the vanquished party fortified themselves in the castle
of Kenilworth and the marshy isles of Ely and Axholme. But Edward
gradually beat down all opposition, and the end of the war is marked by
the _Dictum of Kenilworth_ (October, 1266), in which the king solemnly
confirms the Great Charter, and pardons all his opponents, on condition
of their paying him a fine. Only the heirs of the Earls of Leicester
and Derby were disinherited. The younger Montforts went into exile in
Italy, where a little later they revenged themselves on the king by
cruelly murdering his nephew Henry of Cornwall, as he was praying in
Viterbo cathedral.

There is little to tell about the last five years of the reign of Henry
III. The land gradually settled down into tranquillity, and we hear
little more of the misgovernment which had rendered his early years so
unbearable. Prince Edward went on a Crusade, when he saw that the realm
was pacified. He greatly distinguished himself in the Holy Land, and
took Nazareth from the infidels. He was still beating back the Saracen,
when he was called home by the news of his father's decease. After a
stormy life the old king had a peaceful ending, dying quietly in his
bed on the 16th of November, 1272.


[17] See p. 123.




[Sidenote: =Immediate accession of Edward.=]

The confidence and admiration which the English nation felt for
Prince Edward were well shown by the fact that he was proclaimed
king on the day of his father's death without any form of election
by the Parliament. This was the first time that the English crown
was transferred by strict hereditary succession, and that the old
traditions of the solemn choice by the Great Council were neglected.
Edward was still absent in Palestine, but the government was carried on
in his name without trouble or friction till he landed in England on
August 2, 1274. It was nineteen months since his father had died, yet
nothing had gone amiss in the interval, so great was the belief of the
English in the wisdom and justice of the coming king.

[Sidenote: =His character.=]

Edward was probably the best and greatest ruler, save Alfred, that
England has ever known. He was a most extraordinary contrast to his
shifty father, and his cruel, treacherous grandsire. His private life
was a model to all men; nothing could have shown a better conception
of the respective claims of patriotism and of filial duty than his
conduct during the civil war. His court was grave and virtuous, and his
faithful wife, Eleanor of Castile, was the object of his chivalrous
devotion. Edward was religious without superstition, liberal without
unthriftiness, resolute without obstinacy. But the most striking
feature of his character was his love of good faith and justice. His
favourite device was _Pactum serva_, "Keep your promise," and in all
his doings he strove to carry it out. It was this that made him such
an admirable king for a country where constitutional liberty was just
beginning to develop itself. If he promised his Parliament to abandon
any custom or introduce any reform, he might be trusted honestly to do
his best to adhere to his engagement. It must not be supposed that he
never fell out with his subjects; his conceptions of the rights and
duties of a king were so high that it was impossible for him to avoid
collisions with Parliament. But when such collisions occurred, though
he fought them out with firmness, yet, if beaten, he accepted his
defeat without rancour. His justice was perhaps too severe: he could
pardon on occasion, but he had a stern way of dealing with those whom
he regarded as traitors or oath-breakers; the chief blots on his reign
are instances of merciless severity to conquered rebels. Edward has
been accused of having some times adhered too closely to the letter of
the law, when it told in his own favour, but there seems little reason
to doubt that he was honestly following his own lights. Compared with
any contemporary sovereign, he was a very mirror of justice and equity.

[Sidenote: =Edward as a general.=]

In addition to showing great merits as administrator, Edward was
notable both as a good soldier and a wise general. His tall and robust
frame and dauntless courage made him one of the best knights of his
day. Yet he was no mere fighting man, but a skilled tactician. He had
long forgotten the reckless impulsiveness that lost the day at Lewes,
and had become one of the best captains of his age. He deserves a
prominent place in the history of the art of war for being the first
who discovered the military value of the English long-bowmen, and
turned them to good account in his battles. Hitherto English generals,
like continental, had been trusting entirely to the charge of their
mailed cavalry. Edward, as we shall see at Falkirk, had learnt that the
bowman was no less effective than the knight in the deciding of battles.

The years of Edward's long and eventful reign are full of interest and
importance both within and without the bounds of England. The history
of his legislation and of the development of the power of Parliament
under him deserve close observation no less than his successful
dealings with Wales, and his almost successful scheme for the conquest
of Scotland. Nor can his relations with France be left without remark.

[Sidenote: =Edward and the Church.--Statute of Mortmain.=]

His legislation, most of which falls into the earlier years of his
reign, requires the first notice. Throughout the whole of it we trace
a consistent purpose of strengthening the crown by restricting the
rights both of the Church and the baronage. His first collision with
the Church dates from 1279, when Archbishop Peckham made an attempt to
reassert some of Becket's old doctrines as to the complete independence
and wide scope of ecclesiastical jurisdiction. When Peckham summoned
a national council of clergy at Reading in 1279, and issued certain
"canons" in support of the independence of the Church courts, Edward
replied not merely by compelling him to withdraw the objectionable
document, but by passing the celebrated _Statute of Mortmain_, or _De
Religiosis_, as it is sometimes called. This was a measure destined to
prevent the further accumulation of estates in the "dead hand" (_in
mortua manu_) of the Church. It was estimated that a fourth of the
surface of England was already in the possession of the clerical body,
and this land no longer paid its fair proportion of the taxes of the
realm. For a large share of the king's revenue came from _reliefs_, or
death-duties, and _escheats_, or resumption of lands to which there
was no heir, and as a monastery or bishopric never died, the king got
neither reliefs nor escheats from them. The statute prevented any man
from alienating his land to the monasteries, and specially forbade
the fraudulent practice of making ostensible gifts to the Church and
receiving them back. For landholders had sometimes pretended to make
over their estates to a monastery, in order to escape the taxation due
on feudal fiefs, while really, by a corrupt agreement with the monks,
they kept the property in their own power, and so enjoyed it tax-free.
For the future land rarely fell into the "dead hand," since it could
not be given away without the king's consent. Very few new monasteries
were built or endowed after the passing of this statute, but the crown
not unfrequently relaxed the rule in favour of the colleges in the
universities, which were just now beginning to spring up.

[Sidenote: =Edward and the baronage.--Writ of Quo Warranto.=]

Edward's dealings with the baronage are even more important in the
history of the English constitution than his contest with the clerical
body. He showed a consistent purpose of defending the rights of the
crown against the great feudal lords, and of bringing all holders of
land into close dependence on himself. His first attempt of the kind
was the issue of the writ _Quo Warranto_ in 1278. This writ was a royal
mandate ordering an inquiry "by what warrant" many of the old royal
estates had come into private hands, for the king thought that much
state property had passed illegally out of the possession of the crown,
by the thriftlessness of his father and the disorder of the civil wars
of 1262-65. This project for an inquiry into old rights and documents
both vexed and frightened the baronage. They murmured loudly. The
tale is well known how John de Warenne, Earl of Surrey, when asked to
produce the evidence of his right to certain lands, dashed down an old
rusty sword before the commissioners, crying, "This is my title-deed.
My ancestors came over with King William, and won their lands by the
sword, and with this same sword I will maintain them against any one
who tries to take them from me." The whole baronage showed such a
hostile feeling against Edward's proposal that he finally contented
himself with making a complete list of the still remaining crown lands,
but did not raise the question of the resumption of long-alienated

Another device of the king's for binding the landholders of the realm
more closely to himself, was his scheme for making knights of all
persons who held estates worth more than £20 a year. His object was not
so much to gain the fees due from those who received knighthood, as to
bring all the middle class of landholders, who held under the great
feudal lords, into closer relation with himself through the homage and
oath which they made to him after receiving the honour (1278).

[Sidenote: =The statute "De Donis."=]

In subsequent legislation Edward took care to conciliate the baronage
by strengthening not only his rights over them, but their rights over
their vassals. The most important of these was "_escheat_," the right
of resuming possession of land when its holder died without an heir.
This right was always liable to be defeated by the tenant selling his
land; and its value was yet more diminished if he could dispose of part
of the land, in such a way that the buyer became his own sub-tenant.
A clause in Magna Charta had restricted this process, but the barons
wished to limit even more their tenants' power of parting with land. On
the other hand, as society became more industrial, and less warlike,
it became more desirable that land should pass freely from man to
man These conflicting interests resulted in two enactments, which
are landmarks in English History. The first, the _Second Statute of
Westminster_, contains the famous clauses '_De Donis Conditionalibus_.'
It forbade the alienation of land granted to a person and his actual
lineal descendants, or to use a modern phrase, it made possible the
creation of perpetual entails. The barons soon saw that it enabled
them to settle their lands on their own families, and it was regularly
employed for this purpose for about 200 years, till at last a legal
fiction was invented which greatly cut down the power of tying up land.

[Sidenote: =The statute "Quia Emptores."=]

On the other hand, the statute _Quia Emptores_ (1290), far from
restricting the power of alienation, expressly allowed it in all cases
not coming within the statute _De Donis_: but at the same time it
enacted that the purchaser, whether of the whole or part of an estate,
should become the tenant, not of the seller, but of the seller's lord;
in other words, it put an end to subinfeudation. This led, in the end,
to the enormous multiplication of the lesser vassals of the crown, and
tended to the ultimate extinction of all subtenancies, so that the
king was the gainer in the long run, since whenever a great estate was
broken up, he became the immediate lord of all those among whom it was

[Sidenote: =The Statute of Winchester.=]

Besides the great statutes we have already named, several other items
of King Edward's legislation demand a word of notice. _The Statute of
Winchester_ (1285) reorganized the national militia, the descendant
of the old fyrd, ordaining what arms each man, according to his rank
and wealth, should furnish for himself. It also provided for the
establishment of a _watch_ or local police for the suppression of
robbers and outlaws.

[Sidenote: =Expulsion of the Jews.=]

But all the king's doings were not so wise; to his discredit must be
named his intolerant edict for the expulsion of the Jews from England
in 1290. Edward seems to have picked up in his crusading days a blind
horror of infidels of all sorts. He disliked the Jews, somewhat for
being inveterate clippers and debasers of the coinage, more for being
usurers at extortionate rates in days when usury was held to be a
deadly sin, but most of all for the mere reason that they were not
Christians. To his own great loss--for the taxes of the Jews were a
considerable item in his revenues--he banished them all from the land,
giving them three months to sell their houses and realize their debts.
It was 360 years before they were again allowed to return to the realm.

[Sidenote: =Parliamentary representation.=]

The same years that are notable for the passing of the statutes of
Mortmain and Quia Emptores, and for the expulsion of the Jews, were
those in which the English Parliament was gradually growing into
its permanent shape. We have already told how Simon de Montfort
summoned in 1265 the first assembly which corresponds to our modern
idea of a Parliament, by containing representatives from shires and
boroughs, as well as a muster of the great barons and bishops who
were tenants-in-chief of the crown. As it chanced Edward did not
call a Great Council in exactly that same form till 1295, but in the
intervening years he generally summoned knights of the shire to attend
the deliberation of his lords, and consent to the granting of money.
On two occasions in 1283 the cities and boroughs were also bidden to
send their representatives, but these were not full Parliaments, for at
the first, held at Northampton, no barons were present, while at the
second, which sat at Acton-Burnell, the clergy had not been summoned.
It was not till 1295 that Edward, then in the thick of his Scotch
and French wars, summoned barons, clergy, knights of the shire, and
citizens, all to meet him, "because that which touches all should be
approved by all." But the complete form of Parliament was found to work
so well that it was always summoned in that shape for the future.

[Sidenote: =Condition of Wales.=]

We may now turn to Edward's political doings. The affairs of Wales
require the first notice. We have already mentioned in earlier chapters
how the southern districts of that country had long ago passed, partly
by conquest, partly by intermarriage with the families of native
chiefs, into the hands of various Anglo-Norman barons. These nobles
of the Welsh Marchland, or _Lords Marchers_ as they were called, had
as their main duty the task of overawing and restraining the princes
of North Wales, where Celtic anarchy still reigned supreme. Anglesea,
the mountain lands of Snowdon, Merioneth, and the valley of the Dee
were the last home of the native Welsh. In this land of Gwynedd native
princes still ruled, and proved most unruly vassals to the English
crown. Whenever England was vexed by civil war, the Welsh descended
from their hills, attacked the Lords Marchers, and pushed their
incursions into Cheshire and Shropshire. Sometimes they pushed even
further afield; in 1257 they ravaged as far as Cardiff and Hereford. If
it had not been that the princes of North Wales were even more given to
murderous family feuds than to raids on the English border, they would
have been an intolerable pest; but their interminable petty strife with
each other generally kept them quiet.

[Illustration: WALES IN 1282.]

[Sidenote: =Invasion of Wales.=]

In 1272, the ruler of North Wales was Llewellyn-ap-Gruffyd, a bold
and stirring prince, who had put down all his rebellious brothers and
cousins, and united the whole of Gwynedd under his sword. Following
the example of his ancestors, Llewellyn had plunged with alacrity
into the English civil wars of the time of Henry III. He had allied
himself with Simon de Montfort, and under cover of this alliance had
made cruel ravages on the lands of the Lords Marchers in South Wales.
He held out long after Simon fell at Evesham, and only made peace
in 1267, when he was admitted to very favourable terms and confirmed
in the full possession of his principality. When Edward ascended his
father's throne, he bade Llewellyn come to his court and do him homage,
such as the ancient princes of Wales had been accustomed to offer. But
he was met with repeated refusals; six times he summoned the Welshman
to appear, and six times he was denied, for Llewellyn said that he
would not leave his hills unless he was given as hostages the king's
brother, Edmund of Lancaster, and the Justiciar Ralph of Hengham.
He feared for his life, he said, and would not trust himself in his
suzerain's hands. Edward was not accustomed to have his word doubted,
and, being conscious of his own honest intentions, was bitterly angered
at his vassal's distrust and contumacious answers. But the king's wrath
reached its highest pitch in 1275, when he found that Llewellyn had
put himself in communication with France, and sent to the French court
for Eleanor de Montfort, Earl Simon's daughter, to take her to wife.
The ship that carried the bride was captured off the Scilly Isles by a
Bristol privateer, and she with her brother, Amaury of Montfort, fell
into Edward's hands. After Llewellyn had made one further refusal to do
homage, Edward raised a great army and invaded Wales. The prince and
his wild tribesmen took refuge in the fastnesses of Snowdon, but Edward
blockaded all the outlets from the hills, and in a few months the
Welsh were starved into submission. Llewellyn was forced to surrender
himself into his suzerain's hands, but received better terms than
might have been expected. He was made to do homage, and to give up the
land between Conway and the Dee, the modern shire of Denbigh, but was
allowed to retain the rest of his dominions, and received his bride
from Edward's hands. He was also reconciled to his brothers, whom he
had long before driven away from Wales, and David--the eldest of these
exiles--was given a great barony cut out of the ceded lands on the Dee

[Sidenote: =Rebellion of Llewellyn and David of Wales.=]

Though he had felt the weight of Edward's hand, the Prince of Wales was
unwise enough to provoke his suzerain the second time. Finding that
there was much discontent in the ceded districts of Wales, because the
king was systematically substituting English laws and customs for the
old Celtic usages, Llewellyn resolved to make a sudden attempt to free
them and to throw off his allegiance. His brother David joined in the
plot, though he had always been protected by Edward, and owed all that
he possessed to English aid. On Palm Sunday, 1282, the two brothers
secretly took arms without any declaration of war. David surprised
Hawarden Castle, captured the chief justice of Wales, and slew the
garrison, while Llewellyn swept the whole coast-land as far as the
gates of Chester with fire and sword.

This treacherous and unprovoked rebellion deeply angered the king; he
swore that he would make an end of the troublesome principality, and
raised an army and a fleet greater than any that had ever been sent
against the Welsh. After some slight engagements, the English once more
drove Llewellyn and his host into the crags of Snowdon. Convinced of
his folly, the prince sent to ask for peace; but Edward would not again
grant the easy terms that he had given in 1277. Llewellyn should become
an English earl, he said, and be granted lands worth £1000 a year; but
the independent principality of North Wales had been tried and found
wanting--it should be abolished and annexed to England.

[Sidenote: =Death of Llewellyn.--Execution of David.=]

Llewellyn, though in the sorest straits, refused these terms. By a
dangerous night march he slipped through the English lines with a few
chosen followers, and hastened into mid-Wales, to stir up rebellion in
Brecknock. But near Builth he fell in with a small party of English,
and was slain in the skirmish which followed by an esquire named
Adam of Frankton, who knew not with whom he was fighting. David, his
brother, now proclaimed himself Prince of Wales, and held out in
Snowdon for some months longer. But he was ultimately betrayed to the
king by his own starving followers. He was taken over the border to be
tried before the English Parliament, which met at Acton Burnell, just
outside the walls of Shrewsbury. There was far more dislike felt for
him than for his brother. Llewellyn had always been an open enemy, but
David had long served at the English court, and had been granted his
barony by Edward's special favour. Hence it came that the Parliament
passed the death-sentence for treason on the last Prince of Wales, and
he was executed at Shrewsbury, with all the horrid details of hanging,
drawing, and quartering, which were the traitor's lot in those days.
The harshness of his punishment almost makes us forget the provocation
that he had given the king; mercy for traitors was not characteristic
of Edward's temper (1283).

[Sidenote: =Settlement of Wales.=]

Edward stayed for nearly two years in Wales after the fighting had
ended; he devoted himself to reorganizing the principality, on the
English model. Llewellyn's dominions were cut up into the new counties
of Anglesea, Merioneth, and Carnarvon. Strong castles were built at
Conway, Beaumaris, Carnarvon, and Harlech, to hold them down, and
colonies of English were tempted by liberal grants and charters to
settle in the towns which grew up at points suitable for centres of
commerce. For the future governance of the land Edward drew up the
"Statute of Wales," issued at Rhuddlan in 1284; he allowed a certain
amount of the old Celtic customary law to survive, but introduced
English legal usages to a much larger extent. The Welsh murmured
bitterly against the new customs, but found them in the end a great
improvement. Edward endeavoured to solace their discontent by placing
many of the administrative posts in Welsh hands, and their national
pride by reviving the ancient name of the principality. For in 1301
he gave his heir Edward, who had been born at Carnarvon, the title
of Prince of Wales, solemnly invested him with the rule of the
principality at a great meeting of all the Welsh chiefs, and set him
to govern the land. Later kings of England have followed the custom,
and the title of Prince of Wales has become stereotyped as that of the
heir to the English crown. It must not be supposed that Wales settled
down easily and without friction beneath Edward's sceptre. There were
three or four risings against his authority, headed by chiefs who
thought that they had some claim to inherit the old principality. One
of these insurrections was a really formidable affair; in 1294, Madoc,
the son of Llewellyn, raised half North Wales to follow him, beat the
Earl of Lincoln in open battle, and ravaged the English border. The
king himself, though sorely vexed at the moment by wars in Gascony and
Scotland, marched against him at mid-winter, but had to retire, foiled
by the snows and torrents of the Welsh mountains. But next spring Madoc
was pursued and captured, and sent to spend the rest of his life as a
captive in the Tower of London (1295).

[Sidenote: =Foreign affairs.=]

For a few years after the annexation of Wales, the annals of England
are comparatively uneventful. Some of Edward's legislation, with which
we have already dealt, falls into this period, but the king's attention
was mainly taken up with foreign politics, into which he was drawn
by his position as Duke of Aquitaine. He spent some time in Guienne,
succeeded by careful diplomacy in keeping out of the wars between
France and Aragon, which were raging near him, and introduced a measure
of good government among his Gascon subjects. But more important events
nearer home were soon to attract his attention.

[Sidenote: =Scotland.--Accession of Margaret of Norway.=]

In 1286 perished Alexander III., King of Scotland, cast over the cliffs
of Kinghorn by the leap of an unruly horse. He was the last male of the
old royal house that descended from Malcolm Canmore and the sainted
Queen Margaret. Three children, two sons and a daughter, had been born
to him, but they had all died young, and his only living descendant was
his daughter's daughter, a child of four years. Her mother had wedded
Eric, King of Norway, and it was at the Norwegian court that the little
heiress was living when her grandfather died. Though Scotland had
never before obeyed a queen-regnant, her nobles made no difficulty in
accepting the child Margaret, the "maid of Norway" as they called her,
for their sovereign. A regency was appointed in her name, and the whole
nation accepted her sway.

[Sidenote: =Scheme for uniting the two crowns.=]

Now Edward of England saw, in the accession of a young girl to the
Scottish throne, a unique opportunity for bringing about a closer
union of England and Scotland. There was no rational objection to the
scheme: a century had elapsed since the two countries had been at
war, their baronages had become united by constant intermarriage; the
Lowlands--the more important half of the Scotch realm--were English in
speech and manners. Most important of all, there were as yet few or no
national grudges between the races on either bank of the Tweed. Of the
rancorous hostility which was to divide them in the next century no man
had any presage.

When the little Queen of Scotland had reached her seventh year, the
king proposed to the Scots' regents that she should be married to his
own son and heir, Edward of Carnarvon. He pledged himself that the
kingdoms should not be forcibly united; Scotland should keep all
its laws and liberties and be administered by Scots alone, without
any interference from England. The regents did not mislike the
scheme; they summoned the Parliament of the northern realm to meet at
Brigham-on-Tweed, and there Edward's offers were accepted and ratified
with the consent of the whole realm (July, 1290).

[Sidenote: =Death of Margaret.=]

The next step was to send to Norway for the young queen, for she had
been living at her father's court till now, and had never visited her
own kingdom. She set sail for Scotland in the autumn of the year 1290,
but adverse winds kept her vessel tossed for weeks in the wild North
Sea. The strain was too much for the frail child; when at last she came
ashore at Kirkwall in the Orkneys, it was only to die. With her life
ended the fairest opportunity of uniting the two realms on equal terms
that had ever been known.

[Sidenote: =Extinction of the royal line.--Rival claimants.=]

Edward's scheme had fallen through, and his grief was great; but much
greater was the dismay in Scotland, where the regents found themselves
face to face with the calamity of the extinction of the whole royal
house. There was no longer any king or queen in whose name the law
of the realm could run, or the simplest duties of government be
discharged. Gradually claimants for the crown began to step forward,
basing their demands on ancient alliances with the old kingly line,
but the nearest of these connections went back more than a hundred
years, to female descendants of King David, who had died in 1153. In
this strait the Scots determined to appeal to King Edward as arbitrator
between the pretenders, whose rivalry seemed likely to split the
kingdom up into a group of disorderly feudal principalities. Edward
readily consented, seeing that in the capacity of arbitrator he could
find an opportunity of making more real the old English right of
suzerainty over the kingdom of Scotland. It will be remembered that
as far back as the tenth century, the kings of the Scots had done
homage to Edward the elder, and that they held the more important
half of their realm, Lothian and Strathclyde, which together form the
Lowlands, as grants under feudal obligations from the English crown.
But the exact degree of dependence of Scotland on England had never
been accurately fixed, though Scottish kings had often sat in English
Parliaments, and sometimes served in the English armies. It might
be pleaded by a patriotic Scot that, as Earl of Lothian, his king
had certain obligations to the English sovereign, but that for his
lands north of the Forth and Clyde he was liable to no such duties.
This depended on the nature of the discharge given by Richard I. to
William the Lion in 1190, when he sold the Scottish king a release
of certain duties of homage in return for the sum of 10,000 marks.
But the agreement of Richard and William had been drawn up in such an
unbusiness-like manner that no one could say exactly what it covered.

[Sidenote: =Edward's arbitration.--Balliol and Bruce.=]

King Edward was determined to put an end to this uncertainty, and,
as a preliminary to accepting the post of arbitrator in the Scottish
succession dispute, required that the regents and all the nobles of
the northern realm should acknowledge his complete suzerainty over the
whole kingdom. After some hesitation they consented. Edward made a tour
through Edinburgh, Stirling, and St. Andrews, and there received the
homage of the whole nobility of Scotland. He then appointed a court
of arbitration to sit at Berwick, and adjudicate on the rights of the
thirteen claimants to the crown; it consisted of eighty Scots and
twenty-four Englishmen.

The court found that of serious claims to the crown there were only
two--those of John Balliol and Robert Bruce, each of whom descended
in the female line from the old King David I., who had died in 1153.
The positions of Balliol and Bruce were closely similar: they were
descended from two Anglo-Norman barons of the north country, who had
married two sisters, Margaret and Isabella, the great-granddaughters
of David I. Both of them were as much English as Scotch in blood and
breeding. Balliol was Lord of Barnard Castle, in Durham; Bruce had been
Sheriff of Cumberland, and had long served King Edward as chief justice
of the King's Bench. Like so many of the Scottish barons, they were
equally at home on either side of the border. The point of difficulty
to decide between them was that, while Balliol descended from the elder
of the two co-heiresses, Bruce was a generation nearer to the parent
stem, and claimed to have a preference on this account by Scottish


                     DAVID I., =        Matilda,
                   1124-1153.  |  daughter of Waltheof,
                               |   Earl of Huntingdon.
             Earl of Northumberland and Huntingdon,
                           died 1152.
       |                |                       |
  MALCOLM IV.,   WILLIAM THE LION,            David,
   1153-1165.       1165-1214.          Earl of Huntingdon.
                        |                        |
          +-------------+                  +-----+-----+
          |                                |           |
     ALEXANDER II.,           Alan,   = Margaret.  Isabella =  Robert
      1214-1249.             Lord of  |                     |  Bruce,
          |                 Galloway. |                     |  Lord of
     ALEXANDER III.,                  |                     | Annandale.
      1249-1286.                      |                     |
          |                           |                     +----+
          |                           |                          |
          |                       Devorguilla, =  John         Robert
          |                        heiress of  | Balliol,      Bruce,
          +-----+------------+      Galloway.  | Lord of     [Claimant
                |            |                 | Barnard     in 1292]
  Eric of = Margaret,    Alexander,            | Castle.     died 1295.
  Norway  | died 1283.   died 1283.            |                  |
          |                                    |                  |
          |                +----------+--------+         +--------+
          |                |          |                  |
      MARGARET,          JOHN      Margaret = John    Robert = Margaret,
      the Maid          BALLIOL,   Balliol. | Comyn.  Bruce  | Countess
      of Norway,         king               |          died  |   of
      1286-1290.       1292-1296.           |          1305. | Carrick.
                           |                |                |
                        EDWARD            John,         ROBERT BRUCE,
                        BALLIOL,     "The Red Comyn,"  king 1306-1329.
                         king          slain 1306.           |
                       1332-1334.                        DAVID II.,

[Sidenote: =Edward's decision.--His claims of suzerainty.=]

The court of arbitration decided that this plea of Bruce's was unsound,
and that his rival's right was undoubted. Edward therefore decided
in favour of Balliol, who straightway did him homage as King of all
Scotland, and was duly crowned at Scone (1292). So far the King of
England's conduct had been unexceptionable; he had acted as an honest
umpire, and had handed over the disputed realms to the rightful heir.
But Edward's legal mind saw further consequences in the acknowledgment
of allegiance which Balliol had made. This soon became evident when
he began to allow persons who had been defeated in the Scottish law
courts to appeal for a further decision to those of England, in virtue
of the suzerainty of the latter country. Such a claim was valid in
feudal law, and Edward as Duke of Aquitaine had often seen his Gascon
subjects make an appeal from the courts of Bordeaux to those of Paris.
But to the Scots the idea was new, for no such custom had prevailed
between England and Scotland, and they complained that Edward was
breaking the promise which he had made at the time of the arbitration,
to respect all the old privileges of the Scotch crown. In this they
were practically right, for ancient usage was on their side. Balliol
was a weak man, and might have yielded to Edward's demand; but his
barons refused to hear of it, and bound him to do nothing save with
the consent of a council of twelve advisers, who were to determine his
course of action. The discontent of the Scots was soon to have most
deplorable consequences for both realms.

[Sidenote: =War with Philip of France.=]

At this time Edward was just becoming involved in a bitter quarrel with
Philip the Fair, the young King of France. Philip coveted Aquitaine,
and was determined to have it. He picked a quarrel with the King of
England about the piratical doings of certain English seamen in the
Channel. The mariners of the Cinque Ports and of Normandy had long
been sworn foes; they fought whenever they met, without any concern
as to whether England and France were at war or not. In 1293 there
was a regular pitched battle between them, off St. Mahé, in Brittany;
the Normans had the worse, and many of them were slain. This affray
seemed to King Philip an admirable excuse for attacking his neighbour.
He summoned Edward to Paris, as Duke of Aquitaine, to answer before
his feudal lord for the misdoings of the English seamen. The King of
England was not averse to giving satisfaction, and sent to offer to
submit to an arbitration, in which the damages done by his subjects
should be assessed. But Philip was not seeking damages, but an excuse
for war; he at once declared Edward contumacious for not appearing in
person, and proclaimed the forfeiture of the whole duchy of Aquitaine.
Hardly realizing the French king's intentions, Edward despatched his
brother Edmund, Earl of Lancaster, to endeavour to satisfy his offended
suzerain. Philip then declared that he would consider himself satisfied
if Edward surrendered into his hand, as a token of submission, the
chief fortresses of Gascony: they should be restored the moment that
compensation had been made for the doings at St. Mahé. Earl Edmund
accepted the offer, and the castles were duly placed in Philip's hands.
Then, with a barefaced effrontery that disgusted even his own nobles,
the French king repudiated the agreement, and declared that he should
retain Guienne permanently. Edward was thus committed to an unexpected
war, while all his strongholds in Aquitaine were already in the enemy's
hands. He began to arm in great wrath, and sent ambassadors abroad
to gather allies among Philip's continental foes, chief of whom were
the Emperor Adolf of Nassau and the Counts of Brabant, Holland, and

[Sidenote: =Alliance of Philip with the Welsh and Scots.=]

But Philip also had looked about him for allies. At this moment
Madoc-ap-Llewellyn rose in rebellion in North Wales, relying on French
aid, and, what was of far greater importance, the discontent of the
Scots took the form of open war with England. John Balliol embraced the
French alliance, promised to wed his son to Philip's daughter, and sent
raiding bands across the border to harry Cumberland and Northumberland.

[Sidenote: =Edward invades Scotland.--Balliol gives up his crown.=]

Edward resolved at once to ward off the nearer dangers before taking
in hand the reconquest of Guienne. How he put down the dangerous
rebellion of Madoc the Welshman, we have related in an earlier page.
That campaign had taken up the best part of the year 1295; in the next
spring the turn of Balliol came. He was summoned to appear before his
suzerain at Newcastle, and when he did not obey, Edward crossed the
Tweed with a great host. Berwick, the frontier fortress and chief port
of Scotland, was stormed after a very short siege, and three weeks
later the Scottish king was completely routed at the battle of Dunbar
(April 27, 1296). So unskilfully did the Scots fight, that they were
beaten by Edward's vanguard under John de Warenne--the hero of the
rusty sword at the _Quo Warranto_ inquest--before the king and the
main body of the English army came upon the field. One after another,
Edinburgh, Perth, Stirling, and all the chief towns of Scotland
yielded themselves, and ere long the craven-spirited king of the north
surrendered himself, and gave up his crown into Edward's hands, asking
pardon as one who had been misled and coerced by evil counsellors.

Edward then held a Parliament of all the Scottish barons, and received
their homage, being resolved to reign himself as king north as well as
south of the Tweed. He told the assembled nobles that none of the old
laws of Scotland should be changed, and issued an amnesty to Balliol's
late partisans. It seemed that all resistance was at an end, and that
the union of the crowns was to take place with no further trouble
or bloodshed. John de Warenne--the victor of Dunbar--was appointed
guardian of the realm, and Edward turned southward in triumph, taking
with him the Scottish regalia, and the Holy Stone of Scone, on which
the Kings of Scotland were wont to be crowned. That famous relic still
remains at Westminster, where Edward placed it, and serves as the
pedestal of the coronation chair of the Kings of England to this day.

[Sidenote: =The expedition to Guienne.=]

The king thought that Scotland was tamed even as Wales had been,
forgetting that the Scots had hardly tried their strength against him,
and had yielded so easily mainly because their craven king had deserted
them. Dismissing northern affairs from his mind, he now turned to the
long-deferred expedition to Guienne. The greater part of that duchy
was still in King Philip's greedy hands, and only Bayonne and a few
other towns were holding out against him. Edward determined to land
in Flanders himself, and there to stir up his German allies against
France, but to send the great bulk of the English levies to Gascony,
under the Marshal, Roger Bigod, Earl of Norfolk.

[Sidenote: =Illegal taxation.--Conflict with the Church.=]

But the expedition was not to take place without much preliminary
trouble and difficulty. Edward was in grave need of money to furnish
forth his great army, and tried to levy new taxes without any formal
grants from Parliament. This at once brought him into conflict
with the clergy and the baronage. The arrogant Pope Boniface VIII.
had just published a bull named _Clericis Laicos_, from its opening
words. It forbade the clergy to pay any taxes to the crown from their
ecclesiastical revenues. Archbishop Winchelsey thought himself bound
to carry out the Pope's command, and refused, in the name of all his
order, to assent to any portion of the national taxation falling
on Church land. The king, who was in no mood to stand objections,
was moved to great wrath at this unreasonable claim. He copied the
behaviour of his grandfather, King John, in a similar crisis, and by
his behest the judges proclaimed that no cleric should have law in
the king's courts till the refusal to pay taxes was rescinded. Edward
himself sequestrated the lands of the see of Canterbury, and intimated
to all tenants on the estates of the clergy that nothing should be done
against them if they refused to pay their rents. Many ecclesiastics
thereupon withdrew their refusal to contribute to the national
expenses; but the archbishop held out, and the quarrel ran on for some
time. At last Boniface VIII. was induced to so far modify his bull as
to admit that the Church might make voluntary grants for the purpose
of national defence. Winchelsey therefore promised the king that he
would endeavour to induce the clergy to make large contributions of
their own free will, if Edward on his side would confirm the Great
Charter, and swear to take no further measures against Church property.
To this offer Edward could not refuse his consent; he was in urgent
need of money, and, although it was a bad precedent to allow the clergy
to assess their own taxation outside Parliament, and on a different
scale from the contributions of the rest of the realm, he accepted
Winchelsey's compromise.

[Sidenote: =Conflict with Parliament.--Confirmatio Cartarum.=]

But this struggle of the king and the Church was but one important
episode of a contention between the king and the whole nation, which
filled the years 1296-7. Edward had provoked the barons and the
merchants of England no less than the clergy--the former by bidding
them sail for Gascony in the winter, and pay him a heavy tax; the
latter by seizing all their wool--England's greatest export--as it lay
in harbour, and forcing them to pay a heavy fine, the _mal-tolt_, or
evil tax, as it was called, before he would let it be sent over-sea.
All this had been done without the consent of Parliament. The barons,
headed by Roger Bigod, who had been told off to head the expedition
to Guienne, refused to go abroad unless the king himself should lead
them, urging that their feudal duty was only to defend the kingdom, and
not to wage wars beyond it. Bigod flatly refused to set out unless the
king went with him. "By God, Sir Earl, thou shalt either go or hang!"
exclaimed Edward, irritated at the contumacy of one who, as Marshal of
England, was bound to hold the most responsible post in the army that
he was striving to raise. "And by God, Sir King, I will neither go nor
hang!" shouted the equally enraged Earl Marshal. He flung himself out
of the king's presence, and with the aid of his friend Bohun, the Earl
of Hereford, gathered a great host, and prepared to withstand the king,
if he should persist in endeavouring to carry out his design. Edward,
however, sailed himself for the continent without forcing the barons to
follow him. When he was gone, a Parliament met. Archbishop Winchelsey
and the Earls of Norfolk and Hereford took the lead in protesting
against the king's late arbitrary action, and by their council a
recapitulation of the Great Charter was drawn up, with certain articles
added at the end which expressly stipulated that the king should never
raise any tax or impost without the consent of lords and commons in
Parliament assembled--so that such an exaction as the late _mal-tolt_
would be in future illegal. The document, which is generally known as
the _Confirmatio Cartarum_, was sent over-sea to the king. He received
it at Ghent, and after much doubting signed it, for he always wished to
have the good-will of the nation, and knew that a persistence in the
exercise of his royal prerogative would bring on a rebellion such as
that which had overturned his father in 1263. From this moment dates
the first practical control of the Parliament over the royal revenue,
for the clause in Magna Carta which stipulates for such a right had
been so often violated both by Henry III. and his son, that it required
to be fully vindicated by the _Confirmatio Cartarum_ before it was
recognized as binding both by king and people.

Meanwhile Edward got little aid in Flanders from his German allies,
and found that he had small chance of punishing King Philip by their
arms. He saw Bruges and Lille taken by the French, and finally returned
foiled to England, called thither by evil news from the north.

[Sidenote: =Rising of the Scots.--William Wallace.=]

Scotland was once more up in arms. Though the Anglo-Norman lords who
formed the bulk of the baronage had readily done homage to the English
monarch, the mass of the nation were far less satisfied with the new
condition of affairs. They felt that their king and nobles had betrayed
them to the foreigner--for to many of them, notably the Highlanders,
the Galloway men, and the Welsh of Strathclyde, the Englishman still
seemed foreign. Edward had not made a very wise choice in the ministers
whom he left behind in Scotland; Ormesby, the chief justice, and
Cressingham, the treasurer, both made themselves hated by their harsh
and unbending persistence in endeavouring to introduce English laws
and English taxes. In the spring of 1297 an insurrection broke out
in the West Lowlands, headed by a Strathclyde knight, named William
Wallace (or le Walleys, _i.e._ the Welshman). He had been wronged by
the Sheriff of Lanark, took to the hills, and was outlawed. His small
band of followers soon swelled to a multitude, and the regent, John
de Warenne, was obliged to march against him in person. Despising
the tumultuary array of the rebels, who got no real help from the
self-seeking barons of Scotland, the earl marched carelessly out of
Stirling to attack Wallace, who lay on the hill across the river,
beyond Cambuskenneth bridge. Instead of waiting to be attacked, Wallace
charged when a third of the English host had crossed the stream. This
vanguard was overwhelmed and driven into the Forth, while de Warenne
could not bring up his reserves across the crowded bridge. He withdrew
into Stirling, leaving several thousand dead on the field, among them
the hated treasurer Cressingham, out of whose skin the victorious Scots
are said to have cut straps and belts.

This unexpected victory caused a general rising: some of the barons
and many of the gentry joined the insurgents. Wallace, Andrew Murray,
and the Seneschal of Scotland, were proclaimed wardens of the realm in
behalf of the absent John Balliol, and their authority was generally
acknowledged. Warenne could do nothing against them, and prayed his
master to come over-sea to his help. Meanwhile, Wallace crossed
the Tweed at the head of a great band of marauders, and harried
Northumberland with a wanton cruelty which was to lead to bitter
reprisals later on.

[Sidenote: =Edward in Scotland.--Battle of Falkirk.=]

It was not till 1298 that Edward returned to England, and took in hand
the suppression of the rebellion. He crossed the border with the whole
feudal levy of England, twenty thousand bowmen, and a great horde of
Welsh light infantry; soon he was joined by many Scots of the English
faction. Wallace burnt the Lothians behind him, and retired northward
for some time without fighting. Edward's great host was almost forced
to retire for want of provisions, but when the news was brought him
that Wallace had pitched his camp at Falkirk, he pressed on to bring
the Scots to action. He found them drawn up behind a morass, formed
in four great clumps of pikemen, with archers in the intervals, and a
few cavalry in the reserve. The first charge of the English horse was
checked by the bog; the second was beaten back by the steady infantry
of the Scots. Then Edward brought forward his archers, and bade them
riddle the heavy masses of the enemy with ceaseless arrow-flights, till
a gap was made. Then the English horse charged again; the Scottish
knights in reserve fled without attempting to save the day, and the
greater part of the squares of pikemen were ridden down and cut to
pieces. Wallace fled to the hills, and the English cruelly ravaged all
the Lowlands. But the Scots did not yet submit; the barons deposed
Wallace, of whom they had always been jealous, and named a regency to
supersede him, under John Comyn, the nephew of their exiled king. The
struggle lingered on for several years more, for Edward was hindered
from completing his work by the continual pressure of the French war.
It was not till 1301-2 that he resumed and finished the conquest of
the Lowlands. But in 1303 he was at length able to make a definitive
peace with Philip IV., who restored to him all the lost fortresses
of Guienne. Free at last from his continental troubles, Edward swept
over Scotland from end to end, carrying his arms into the north as
far as Elgin and Banff. The regent Comyn and all the barons of the
land submitted to him, and by the capture of Stirling in 1304 the last
embers of resistance were quenched.

[Sidenote: =Subjection of Scotland.--Wallace executed.=]

Scotland was apparently crushed: the king reorganized the whole
country, cutting it up into counties and sheriffdoms like England,
providing for its representation in the English Parliament, and setting
up new judges and governors throughout the land. The administration
was, for the most part, left in the hands of Scots, though the king's
nephew, John of Brittany, was appointed regent and warden of the land.
The last hope of the survival of Scottish independence seemed to vanish
in 1305, when Wallace, who had maintained himself as an outlaw in the
hills long after the rest of his countrymen had submitted, fell into
the hands of the English. He was betrayed by some of his own men to Sir
John Menteith, one of Edward's Scottish officials. Menteith sent him
to London, where he was executed as a traitor, with all the cruelties
that were prescribed for men guilty of high treason. It would have been
better for the king's good name if he--like so many other Scots--had
been pardoned; but Edward could not forgive the prime mover of the
insurrection, and the cruel waster of the English border.

[Sidenote: =Robert Bruce.--Murder of John Comyn.=]

For some two years Scotland was governed as part of Edward's realm,
but the nation submitted from sheer necessity, not from any good
will. In 1306 the troubles broke out again, owing to the ambition of
a single man. Robert Bruce, the grandson of the Bruce who had striven
with Balliol in 1292, was the leader in the new rising. Like his
grandfather, he was more of an English baron than a pure Scot. He had
taken Edward's side in the civil wars, and seems to have hoped that
his fidelity might be rewarded by the gift of the Scottish crown when
the Balliols were finally dismissed. Receiving no such guerdon, he
conspired with some of his kinsfolk and a few of the Scottish earls,
and endeavoured to get John Comyn, the late regent of Scotland, to join
him. But when Comyn refused--at an interview in the Greyfriars Kirk at
Dumfries--to break his newly sworn faith to King Edward, Bruce slew
him with his own hand before the altar, and fled to the north. There
was method in this murder, for, after the Balliols, Comyn had the best
hereditary claim to the Scottish throne.[18]

[Sidenote: =Severity of Edward.=]

Gathering his followers at Scone, Bruce had himself crowned King of
Scotland. But his royalty was of the most ephemeral nature; few of the
Scots would join one whose past record was so unsatisfactory, and his
army was beaten and dispersed by de Valence, Earl of Pembroke, whom
King Edward sent against him. Bruce had to take to the hills almost
alone, and for many months was chased about the woods and lochs of
Perthshire and Argyleshire by Highland chiefs eager to earn the price
that Edward had set upon his head. His kinsmen, Nigel, Alexander, and
Thomas, with most of his chief followers, were captured, tried and
executed, for Edward was driven to wild anger by the unprovoked rising
of one who had hitherto been his hot partisan. Even the ladies of
Bruce's house were cast into dungeons, and the Countess of Buchan, who
had crowned him at Scone, was shut up in an iron cage. The king's hand
fell far more heavily on Scotland than before: the lands of Bruce's
partisans were confiscated and given to Englishmen, and all who had
favoured him were slain or outlawed.

[Sidenote: =Death of Edward.=]

Unhappily for the king, these harsh measures had a very different
result from that which he had expected. The hangings and confiscations
gave Bruce many new partisans, and his misfortunes made him the
nation's favourite. When he left his island refuge in Argyleshire
in the spring of 1307 and landed in Carrick, he was joined by a
considerable force. Edward, though now an old man, and stricken down by
disease, swore that he would make an end of the traitor. He mounted his
horse for the last time at Carlisle, and rode as far as Burgh-on-Sands,
where bodily weakness forced him to stop. Feeling the hand of death
upon him, he made his son Edward of Carnarvon swear to persevere in the
expedition against Bruce. He even bade him bear his coffin forward into
Scotland, for his very bones, he said, would make the Scots quake. Four
days of illness ended his laborious life (July 17, 1307). His unworthy
son at once broke up the army, leaving Bruce to make head unopposed,
and used his father's funeral as an excuse for returning home. Edward
was buried under a plain marble slab at Westminster, with the short



[18] See table on p. 160.




[Sidenote: =Character of Edward II.=]

Seldom did a son contrast so strangely with his father as did Edward
of Carnarvon with Edward the Hammer of the Scots. The mighty warrior
and statesman begot a shiftless, thriftless craven, who did his best
to bring to wrack and ruin all that his sire had built up. The younger
Edward's character had been the cause of much misgiving to the old
king during the last years of his life. He had already shown himself
incorrigibly idle and apathetic, refusing to bear his share of the
burdens of royalty, and wasting his time with worthless favourites. The
chief of his friends was one Piers de Gaveston, a young Gascon knight,
whom his father--much to his own sorrow--had made one of his household.
Piers was a young man of many accomplishments, clever, brilliant,
and showy, who kept a bitter tongue for all save his master, and had
an unrivalled talent for making enemies. He kept the listless prince
amused, and in return Edward gave him all he asked, which was no small
grant, for Piers was both greedy and extravagant.

The new king was neither cruel nor vicious, but he was inconceivably
obstinate, idle, and thriftless. It has been happily said of him that
he was "the first King of England since the Conquest who was not a
man of business." Hitherto the descendants of William the Norman had
retained a share of their ancestor's energy; even the weak Henry III.
had been a busy, bustling man, ready to meddle and muddle with all
affairs of state, great or small. But Edward II. took no interest in
anything; the best thing that his apologists find to say of him is that
he showed some liking for farming.

[Sidenote: =The Scottish expedition abandoned.=]

The moment that his father was dead, Edward broke up the
great army that had been mustered at Carlisle, and returned home. If
the campaign had been pursued, there was every chance of crushing
Bruce, whose position was still most precarious, for all the fortresses
of the land were held by the English, and most of the Scottish nobles
still refused to join the pretender. But Edward only sent north a small
force under the Earl of Pembroke, which made no head against the forces
of Bruce.

[Sidenote: =Ascendency of Piers Gaveston.=]

When Edward settled down in his kingship, the English nation found
itself confronted by a new problem--how to deal with a king who
altogether refused to trouble himself about the governance of the
realm. He referred all men who came to him to his "good brother Piers,"
and went about his pleasures without further concern. When, a few
months after his accession, he was to wed Isabel, the daughter of the
King of France, he went over-sea, leaving the regency in the hands of
the Gascon upstart, whom he created Earl of Cornwall, granting him the
old royal earldom that had been held by the descendants of Richard,
the brother of Henry III. He also gave him in marriage his niece, the
daughter of the Earl of Gloucester, and lavished upon him a number of
royal estates.

Baronage and people alike were moved to wrath by seeing the king hand
over the governance of the realm to his favourite. The proud nobles who
had been content to bend before Edward's father, would not for a moment
yield to a king who was but the creature of Gaveston. Troubles began
almost immediately on the young king's accession; he was besought,
in and out of Parliament, to dismiss the Gascon. He bowed before the
storm, and sent him out of England for the moment--but only to give
him higher honours by making him Lord Deputy of Ireland. When the king
recovered from his fright, Gaveston was recalled, and returned more
powerful and more arrogant than before (1309).

[Sidenote: =The Scottish war.=]

Meanwhile the war in Scotland was going very badly. Many of the nobles,
after long doubting, joined Bruce, because they saw that they were
likely to get little protection from the feeble king whom they had
hitherto served. Several important places fell into the insurgents'
hands, and it was universally felt that only a great expedition headed
by the king himself could stay Bruce's progress.

Edward, however, was enduring too much trouble at home to think of
reconquering Scotland. The barons were moving again, headed by three
personal enemies of Gaveston's, whom he is said to have mortally
offended by the nicknames he had bestowed on them. The first was the
king's cousin,[19] Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, a turbulent, ambitious
man, who covered a scheming love of power by an affectation of
patriotism and disinterestedness. The other two were Aymer de Valence,
Earl of Pembroke,[20] and Guy Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick. Gaveston's
name for Lancaster was "The Actor," which, indeed, well hit off his
pretence of unreal virtue. Pembroke he called "Joseph the Jew," and
Warwick "The Black Dog of Arden."

[Sidenote: =The Lords Ordainers.=]

It was these three lords who in 1310 led an attack in Parliament on
the king and his favourite, and drew up a scheme for taking the direct
rule of the realm out of their hands. Following the precedent of the
Provisions of Oxford,[21] the Parliament named a committee of regency,
or body of ministers, composed of twenty-one members, who were called
the Lords Ordainers, and were to draw up a scheme for the reform of all
the abuses of the kingdom. The twenty-one comprised the Archbishop of
Canterbury and all the leading men of England, but Thomas of Lancaster
and his friends had the ascendency among them. The king complained that
he was treated like a lunatic, and deprived of the right that every
man owns, of being allowed to manage his own household. He resolved
by way of protest, to show that he could do something useful, and,
taking Gaveston with him, made an incursion into Scotland. Bruce was
cautious, and retired northward, burning the country behind him. The
king struggled on as far as the Forth, and then turned back without
having accomplished anything. On his return he was forced to sign a
promise to redress many administrative grievances which the Lords
Ordainers laid before him--to consent to banish Gaveston, choose all
his ministers with the counsel and consent of his baronage, disallow
all customs and taxes save such as Parliament should grant, and reform
the administration of justice. Edward signed everything readily, but
immediately departed into the north, bade Gaveston return to England
and join him, and published a repudiation of the new ordinances, as
forced on him by threats and violence (1311).

[Sidenote: =Murder of Gaveston.=]

This contumacy brought matters to a head. Lancaster and his friends
took arms and laid siege to Scarborough, where the favourite lay.
Gaveston surrendered on a promise that he should have a fair trial in
Parliament. But while he was being taken southward, the Earl of Warwick
came upon his keepers, drove them away, and took Piers out of their
hands. Without trial or form of justice, "The Black Dog of Arden" bade
his retainers behead the favourite by the wayside on Blacklow Hill
(May, 1312). Thomas of Lancaster approved by his presence this gross
and faithless violation of the terms on which Gaveston had surrendered
at Scarborough.

[Sidenote: =Progress of Bruce.=]

This outburst of lawless baronial vengeance removed Edward's favourite,
but did the realm no other good. The king was compelled to pardon
Gaveston's murderers, but he could not be forced to forget what they
had done, and even his slow and craven heart conceived projects of
revenge. But these had to be postponed for a time to the pressing
needs of the Scotch war. Bruce had taken Perth in 1312, Edinburgh
and Roxburgh fell to him in the following year, and he was besieging
Stirling, the last important stronghold still in English hands. Even
Edward was stirred: he bade all England arm, and vowed to march to the
relief of Stirling in the next spring. A great host mustered under the
royal banner, but Thomas of Lancaster factiously refused to appear, on
the plea that the ordinances of 1311 forbade the king to go out to war
without the consent of Parliament. This act alone is a sufficient proof
that Thomas was a mere self-seeking politician, and not the patriot
that he would fain have appeared.


June 24{TH} 1314.]

[Sidenote: =Battle of Bannockburn.=]

King Edward, with an army that is rated at nearly 100,000 men by the
chronicler, pushed on to relieve Stirling, and met no opposition till
he reached the burn of Bannock, two miles south of that town. There he
found Bruce and his host of 40,000 men posted on a rising ground, with
the brook and a broad bog in his front. On their flanks the Scots had
protected themselves by digging many pits lightly covered with earth
and brushwood, so as to break the charge of the English horse. Edward
displayed all the marks of a bad general: instead of endeavouring to
use his superior numbers to turn or surround the enemy, he flung them
recklessly on the Scottish front. When his archers, who by themselves
might have settled the battle, had been driven away by the Scots horse,
he pushed his great array of mailed knights against the solid masses of
Bruce's infantry. After struggling through brook and bog, the English
came to a standstill before the steady line of spears. Charge after
charge was made, but the knights could not break through the sturdy
pikemen, and at last recoiled in disorder. At this moment a mass of
Scottish camp-followers came rushing over the hill on the left, and
were taken by the exhausted English for a new army. Edward's great
host broke up and fled, the king himself outstripping his followers,
and never halting till he reached Dunbar. The Earl of Gloucester, six
other barons, two hundred knights, and many thousand men of lower rank
were left upon the field. The Earls of Hereford and Angus, and seventy
knights were taken prisoners.

The fight of Bannockburn completely did away with the last chance of
the union of England and Scotland. The English garrisons surrendered,
and the Scots of the English party yielded themselves to Bruce, save
a few who, with the Earls of Athole and Buchan, took refuge south of
the border. For the future Bruce was undisputed king beyond the Tweed,
and, instead of acting upon the defensive, was able to push forward
and attack England. His ambition was completely satisfied, and his
long toils and wanderings ended in splendid success. His whole career,
however, was that of a hardy adventurer rather than that of a patriotic
king, and his triumph estranged two nations which had hitherto been
able to dwell together in amity, and plunged them for nearly three
centuries into bloody border wars. It was from the atrocities committed
by Englishman on Scot and Scot on Englishman during the fatal years
1306-14 that the long national quarrel drew its bitterness, and for all
this Bruce, who commenced his reign by treason, murder, and usurpation,
is largely responsible, Edward I. must take his full share of blame
for his hard hand and heart, but Bruce's ambition masquerading as
patriotism must bear as great a load of guilt.

[Sidenote: =Rule of Thomas, Earl of Lancaster.=]

The shame which King Edward brought home from the ignominious day
of Bannockburn, lowered him yet further in his subjects' eyes. The
Earl of Lancaster, who had avoided participating in the defeat by his
unpatriotic refusal to go forth with the king, was now able to take the
administration of affairs into his hands. He dismissed all Edward's
old servants, put him on an allowance of £10 a day for his household
expenses, and for some years was practically ruler of the realm.

[Sidenote: =War in Ireland.=]

Lancaster might have passed for an able man if he had not laid his
hand on the helm of the state; but he guided matters so badly that he
soon wrecked his own reputation both for ability and for patriotism
(1314-18). The generals of the Scottish king crossed the border and
ravaged the country as far as York and Preston, and at the same time
Edward Bruce, the brother of Robert, sailed over to Ireland with an
army and began to raise the native Irish against their rulers. The
great tribes of the O'Neils and the O'Connors joined him, in the hope
of completely expelling the English, and by their aid Edward Bruce was
crowned King of Ireland, and swept over the whole country from Antrim
to Kerry, burning the towns and castles of the English settlers. It is
from these unhappy years (1315-17) that we may date the weakening of
the royal authority in Ireland, and the restriction of English rule
to the eastern coast--"the Pale" about Dublin, Dundalk, and Wicklow.
When the war seemed over, and the victory of Edward Bruce certain,
the dissensions of the Irish ruined his cause. Lord Mortimer routed
Edward's allies the O'Connors at Athenree in 1317, and the King of
Ireland himself and his Scottish followers were cut to pieces at
Dundalk, a year later, by the Chief Justice, John de Birmingham. Dublin
and the Pale were thus saved, but little or no progress was made in
restoring the King of England's authority in the rest of the land.

[Sidenote: =Bruce invades England.--Edward recovers power.=]

Though victorious in Ireland, the English under Lancaster's rule were
unable to keep their own borders safe. Bruce took Berwick, ravaged
Durham, and cut the whole shire-levy of Yorkshire to pieces at Mytton
bridge. In despair, Lancaster asked for a truce, and obtained it
(1320). But the temporary cessation of the Scottish war only gave the
opportunity for the English to come to blows in civil strife. Thomas
of Lancaster had by this time made so many enemies, that the king was
able to gather together a party against him: though slow and idle,
Edward was unforgiving, and well remembered that he had Gaveston's
blood to avenge. He found his chief supporters in the two Despensers,
West-country barons, the son and grandson of that Despenser who had
been Simon de Montfort's Justiciar, and had fallen at Evesham. Taking
advantage of the times, Edward assembled an army under the plea that he
must chastise a baron named Baddlesmere, who had rudely excluded Queen
Isabella from Leeds Castle, in Kent, when she wished to enter. Having
taken Leeds and hung its garrison, the king with a most unexpected
show of energy suddenly turned on Lancaster. Earl Thomas called out
his friends, and the Earl of Hereford, Lord Mortimer, and many of the
barons of the Welsh Marches rose in his favour. He was forced, however,
to fly north when the king pursued him, and had made his way as far as
Boroughbridge, in Yorkshire, when he found himself intercepted by the
shire-levies of the north, headed by Harclay, the Governor of Carlisle.
A battle followed, in which Hereford was slain and Lancaster taken

[Sidenote: =Vengeance of Edward. 1322.=]

The king was now able to wreak his long-delayed vengeance for
Gaveston's murder. He sent Earl Thomas to the block, and hung or
beheaded eight barons and thirty knights of his party. Lord Mortimer
and the rest were stripped of their lands and banished. These wholesale
executions and confiscations not only provoked the baronage, but caused
the nation to look on Earl Thomas as a martyr, though he was in fact
nothing better than a selfish and turbulent adventurer.

[Sidenote: =Rule of the Despensers, 1322-26.=]

Edward, having taken his revenge, subsided into his former listlessness
and sloth, handing over the whole conduct of affairs to his new
ministers, the two Despensers. Father and son alike were unwise,
greedy, and arrogant; they used the king's name for their own ends,
and soon made themselves as well hated as Gaveston had been ten years
before. Yet for four years they maintained themselves in power, even
after they had advised the king to take the necessary but unpopular
step of acknowledging Bruce as King of Scotland, and concluding a truce
for thirteen years with him.

[Sidenote: =Queen Isabella and Mortimer.--Fall of the Despensers.=]

The slothful Edward and the arrogant Despensers soon tired out the
patience of England, and they fell before the first blow levelled
against them. The blow came from an unexpected quarter. Edward's
wife, Isabella of France, was visiting the court of her brother,
Charles IV., on a diplomatic mission concerning some frontier feuds
in Guienne. At Paris she met and became desperately enamoured of the
exiled Marcher-baron, Roger Mortimer. He drew her into a conspiracy
against her husband; by his advice she induced her young son Edward,
the heir of England, to cross over and join her. When the boy was
safely in her hands, she sent to King Edward to bid him dismiss the
Despensers, because they had wronged and insulted her. When he refused,
she and Mortimer gathered a force of Flemish mercenaries and crossed
to England. They had already enlisted the support of the kinsmen and
friends of Lancaster, Hereford, Baddlesmere, and the other barons who
had been slain in 1322. On landing in Suffolk, Isabella was at once
joined by them, and found herself at the head of a large army. Edward
and his unpopular ministers fled towards Wales; but the elder Despenser
was caught at Bristol and promptly hanged. His son Hugh and the king
were captured three weeks later; the former was executed, while his
master was taken under guard to London (November, 1326).

[Sidenote: =Edward deposed.--His son proclaimed king.=]

The queen then summoned a Parliament in the name of her son, Prince
Edward. Articles were placed before it, accusing the king of breaking
his coronation oath, of wilfully neglecting the right governance of the
land, of promoting unworthy favourites, of losing Scotland and Ireland,
and of slaying his enemies without just cause or a fair trial. The
Parliament pronounced him unfit to reign, deposed him, and elected his
young son to fill his throne in his stead.

[Sidenote: =Death of Edward.=]

Edward was constrained by force to resign his crown, and at once
thrown into prison. He was first consigned to the charge of Henry of
Lancaster, the brother of Earl Thomas; but Henry kept him safely, and
there were those who did not desire his safety. Presently the queen and
Mortimer took him from Lancaster's hands and removed him to Berkeley
Castle. There he was treated with gross neglect and cruelty, in the
deliberate design of ending his life; but when his constitution proved
strong enough to resist all privations, his keepers secretly put him to
death (September 21, 1327).

Thus ended the unhappy son of Edward I., the victim of an unfaithful
wife, and a knot of barons bent on revenging an old blood-feud. That he
deserved his fate it would be hard to say, but that he owed it entirely
to his own unwise choice of favourites it is impossible to deny.


[19] Son of Edward I.'s brother Edmund, Earl of Lancaster.

[20] A grandson of one of Henry III.'s foreign relatives.

[21] See p. 140.




Shameful as the state of the realm had been under the rule of Edward of
Carnarvon and his favourites, a yet more disgraceful depth was reached
in the years of minority of his son. The young king was only fourteen,
and the government fell into the hands of those who had set him on the
throne, his mother and her paramour, Roger Mortimer. A council, headed
by Henry Earl of Lancaster, was supposed to guide the king's steps,
but as a matter of fact he was in Queen Isabella's power, while she
was entirely ruled by Mortimer. They were surrounded by a guard of 180
knights, and acted as they pleased in all things. It was only gradually
that the nation realized the state of affairs, for the murder of
Edward II. was long kept concealed, and the relations of the queen and
Mortimer were not at first generally known.

[Sidenote: =Second Scottish invasion.--"The Shameful Peace."=]

The first blow to the new government was the renewal of the Scottish
war. In 1328, Robert Bruce broke the truce that he had made six years
before. He was now growing advanced in age, and was stricken by
leprosy, but he sent out, under James "the Black Douglas," a great
host, 4000 knights and squires, and 20,000 moss-troopers, all horsed
on shaggy Galloway ponies. They harried England as far as the Tees,
and successfully eluded Mortimer, who went out against them, taking
the young king with him. Outmarching the English day by day, Douglas
retired before them across the Northumbrian fells, occasionally
harassing his pursuers by night-attacks; he returned home with much
plunder, leaving not a cow unlifted nor a house unburnt in all
Tynedale. The English host came back foiled and half starved, and
Mortimer, not daring to face another campaign, advised the queen to
make terms with the Scots. Accordingly "the Shameful Peace" was signed
at Northampton, by which England resigned all claims of suzerainty over
the Scotch realm, sent back the crown and royal jewels, which Edward I.
had carried off to London, and gave the king's sister Joanna to be wed
to Bruce's eldest son (1328).

[Sidenote: =Risings against Mortimer.=]

Mortimer's failure led to insurrections against him; but they were mere
baronial risings, not efforts of the whole people. Henry of Lancaster,
who headed the first, was put down and heavily fined for his pains.
Edmund, Earl of Kent, then took up the same plan, announcing that he
would free his half-brother Edward II., who, as he was persuaded, still
survived. But he fell into Mortimer's hands, and was beheaded.

[Sidenote: =The king asserts himself--Mortimer executed.=]

It was the young king himself who was destined to put an end to the
misrule of his mother and her minion. When he reached the age of
eighteen, and realized the shameful tutelage in which he was being
held, he resolved to free himself from it by force. While the court
lay at Nottingham Castle in October, 1330, he gathered a small band of
trustworthy adherents, and at midnight entered the queen's lodgings by
a secret stair and seized Mortimer, in spite of his mother's tears and
curses. The favourite was sent before his peers, tried, and executed;
Isabella was relegated to honourable confinement at Castle-Rising,
where she lived for many years after.

[Sidenote: =Character of Edward III.=]

King Edward now himself assumed the reins of government; he was still
very young, but in the middle ages men ripened quick if they died
early, and Edward at nineteen was thought both by others and himself
old enough to take charge of the policy of the realm. He was in his
youth a very well-served and well-loved sovereign, for he had all
the qualities that attract popularity--a handsome person, pleasant
and affable manners, a fluent tongue, and an energy that contrasted
most happily with the listless indolence of his miserable father.
It was many years before the world discovered that he was selfish,
thriftless, reckless of his country's needs, and set on gratifying his
personal ambition and love of warlike feats to the sacrifice of every
other consideration. He was a knight-errant of the type of Richard
Coeur-de-Lion, not a statesman and warrior like his grandfather Edward
I. In his later years his faculties showed a premature decay, and he
fell into the hands of favourites, male and female, who were almost as
offensive as the Gavestons and Despensers of the previous generation.

Edward's reign falls into three well-marked periods: the first,
1330-39, is that of his Scottish wars; the second, 1339-60, is that
in which he began the famous and unhappy "Hundred Years' War" with
France, and himself conducted it up to the brilliant but unwise Peace
of Bretigny; the third, 1360-77, that of his declining years, is a time
of trouble and misgovernment gradually increasing till Edward sank
unregretted into his grave.

[Sidenote: =War with Scotland.--Battle of Halidon Hill.=]

Robert Bruce, the terror of the English, had died in 1329, leaving his
throne to his son David II., a child of five years. The government
fell into the hands of regents, who ill supplied the place of the dead
king, and their weakness tempted the survivors of the English party in
Scotland to strike a blow. Edward Balliol, the son of the long-dead
John Balliol, accordingly made secret offers to Edward III., that
he would do homage to him for the Scottish crown, and reign as his
vassal, if he were helped to win the land. With Edward's connivance the
young Balliol gathered together the Earls of Buchan and Athole, and
many other Scottish refugees in England, and took ship to Scotland.
He landed in Fife, was joined by his secret friends, beat the regent,
the Earl of Mar, and seized the greater part of Scotland. He was
crowned at Scone, and forced the young David Bruce to flee over-sea
to France to save his life. But soon the national party rose against
Balliol, expelled him, and chased him back to England. Edward then
took the field in his favour, and met the Scots at Halidon Hill, near
Berwick. Here he inflicted on them a crushing defeat, which the English
celebrated as a fair revenge for the blow of Bannockburn, for the
regent Archibald Douglas, four earls, and many thousand men were left
on the field. They fell mainly by the arrows of the English archery,
for, having drawn themselves out on a hillside behind a marsh, they
stood as a broad target for the bowmen, whom they were unable to reach.
The intervening marshy ground prevented their heavy columns of pikemen
from advancing, and they were routed without even the chance of coming
to handstrokes (July, 1333). This victory made Edward Balliol King of
Scotland for a second time; he did homage to his champion, and ceded to
him Tweeddale and half Lothian. But the crown won by English help sat
uneasily on Balliol's brow. After several years of spasmodic fighting,
he was finally driven out of his realm, and took refuge again in
England. This time he found less help, for Edward III. was now plunged
deep in schemes of another kind.

Nine years of comparative quiet had done much to recover England from
the misery it had known in the last reign. The baronage and people were
serving the young king loyally, taxation had not yet been heavy, and
the success of Halidon Hill had restored the nation's self-respect.
Edward himself was flushed by victory and burning for fresh adventures.
Hence it came that, neglecting the nearer but less showy task of
restoring the English suzerainty over Scotland, he turned to wars

[Sidenote: =Quarrel with France.--The Hundred Years' War begins.=]

One of the usual frontier-quarrels between French and Gascons had
broken out in 1337 on the borders of Aquitaine. In consequence, Philip
VI. of France had, like so many of his predecessors, taken measures
to support Edward's Scottish enemies, and given shelter to the exiled
boy-king, David Bruce. War between England and France was probably
inevitable, but Edward chose to make it a life and death struggle,
by laying claim to the throne of France and branding Philip VI. as a

[Sidenote: =The French succession.--The Salic Law.=]

The question of the French succession dated from some years back. In
1328 died Edward's uncle, King Charles IV., the last of the direct male
descendants of Philip IV. The problem then cropped up for the first
time whether the French crown could descend to females, or whether the
next male heir must be chosen, although he was but the cousin of the
late king. The peers of France adjudged that by the _Salic Law_, an old
custom ascribed to the ancient Franks, only male descent counted in
tracing claims to the throne. Accordingly they adjudged the kingdom to
Philip of Valois, who was crowned as Philip VI. Edward, as own nephew
through his mother to Charles IV., had protested at the time; but he
had practically withdrawn his protest by doing homage to Philip for the
Duchy of Aquitaine, and thereby acknowledging the justice of the award.


                             PHILIP III.,
                       |                           |
                   PHILIP IV.,                  Charles,
                   1285-1314.               Count of Valois.
                       |                           |
      +-----------+----+------+------------+       +-----------+
      |           |           |            |                   |
  LOUIS X.,   PHILIP V.,  CHARLES IV.,  Isabella.     PHILIP of Valois,
  1314-1316.  1316-1322.  1322-1328.       |           king 1328-1350.
      |                                    |                  |
      +--+                                 |                  |
         |                                 |                  |
        Jane,                          Edward III.           JOHN,
  Queen of Navarre.                                        1350-1364.
  King of Navarre.

Now, in 1337 Edward began to think of reviving his dormant pretensions
to the French crown, though they had two fatal defects. The first was
that there had never been any precedent in France for a claim through
the female line. The second was that, even if such descents could be
counted, one of his mother's brothers had left a daughter, the Queen of
Navarre, and the son of that princess had a better female claim than
Edward himself. The only way in which this defect could be ignored was
by pleading, like Bruce in 1292, that Edward was a generation nearer to
the old royal stock than his cousin, Charles, King of Navarre.

[Sidenote: =Edward claims the French crown.=]

On this rather futile plea Edward laid solemn claim to the French
crown, and declared Philip of Valois a usurper. Perhaps there may be
truth in the story which tells that he did not do so from any strong
belief in his own theory, but because the Flemings, vassals to the
French crown, had declared that they could not aid him, though willing
to do so, on account of oaths of fealty sworn to the King of France. If
Edward claimed to be king himself, they said, their allegiance and help
would be due to him. Whether the tale be true or not, he at any rate
made the claim.

In reliance on the assistance of the Flemings, and of their neighbours
the Dukes of Brabant and Holland, and with the countenance of the
Emperor, Lewis of Bavaria, King Edward determined to land in the
Low Countries and attack France from the north. He called out great
bodies of soldiery, and took advantage of the devotion that the nation
felt for him to raise illegal taxes for their pay. Violating his
grandfather's engagements, he took a "tallage" from the towns, and
levied a "_mal-tolt_" or extra customs-duty on the export of wool.
In the excitement of the moment, little opposition was made to these
high-handed measures.

[Sidenote: =First campaign.--Naval victory off Sluys.=]

But Edward's campaign against France proved utterly unsuccessful; his
Netherland allies were of little use to him, King Philip refused to
risk a battle in the field, and an attack on Cambray was defeated.
Edward had to return to England to raise more money; while at home, he
heard that a great French fleet had been collected for the conquest of
Flanders and a subsequent attack on England. Hastily raising all the
ships he could gather from London and the Cinque Ports, the king set
sail to seek the enemy. He found them in harbour at the Flemish port of
Sluys, and there brought them to action. They had chained their ships
in three lines and built up barricades upon them; but, by pretending
to fly, Edward induced them to cast loose and follow him, and, when
they had got out to sea, turned and attacked. The English archery swept
the enemy's decks, and then the king and his knights clambered up, and
boarded vessel after vessel till well-nigh the whole French fleet was
taken (1340). No such glorious day had been seen since Hubert de Burgh
won the battle off Dover 120 years before.

[Sidenote: =Contest with Parliament.=]

The victory of Sluys freed England from the danger of invasion, but did
nothing more. For when the king landed in Flanders, and pushed forward
against France, he again failed to break through the line of strong
towns that guarded Philip's frontier, and had to return home foiled. On
coming to England he fell into a bitter strife with his Parliament, who
were far from contented with the repeated checks in Flanders. Edward
began by charging his failure on his ministers and dismissed them
all, from the Chancellor and the Archbishop of Canterbury downwards,
accusing them of having misappropriated the taxes. He announced that he
would bring them to trial, and appointed a special commission for the
purpose. This led to a vindication of the ancient right of trial by a
man's equals, for John de Stratford, the archbishop, insisted on being
tried in Parliament by the barons his peers, and carried his point
against the king's strenuous opposition. He was of course acquitted,
as nothing could be found against him. The Parliament only consented
to grant the king fresh supplies when he swore (1) to let them appoint
a committee to audit the accounts of the money; (2) to take no further
_maltolts_ or tallages, but confine himself to the duly voted supplies;
(3) to choose his ministers only with Parliament's consent, and make
them answerable to Parliament for malfeasance in their office (1341).
If these conditions had been kept, the crown would have been completely
under control of the national council, but Edward shamelessly broke
them when fortune turned in his favour.

[Sidenote: =Edward invades Normandy.--Battle of Crécy.=]

England had now been five years at war with France, and had gained
nothing thereby save the destruction of the French navy at Sluys.
France had fared equally badly, and in a lucid moment the kings signed
a truce. But both Edward and Philip and their subjects had come to
dislike each other so bitterly, that no end could be put to the war
till one or other had gained a decisive victory. The struggle was
soon renewed on fresh ground--the duchy of Brittany, where a disputed
succession had occurred. With strange want of logic, Philip VI. backed
the claimant whose pretensions were based on a female descent, and
Edward the one who claimed as next male heir under the Salic Law. Thus
each supported in Brittany the theory of descent which he repudiated
in France. After much indecisive fighting, both in Brittany and on
the Gascon border, Edward determined on a new invasion of France in
1345. Giving out that he would sail to Bordeaux, he really landed
near Cherbourg, in Normandy, where the enemy was not expecting him.
He had determined to fight the campaign with English forces alone,
and no longer to rely on untrustworthy continental friends. With 4000
men-at-arms, 10,000 bowmen, and 5000 light Welsh and Irish infantry,
he pushed boldly through the land, sacking St. Lo and Caen, and
driving the local levies of Normandy before him. But he had cut himself
loose from the sea, and as his course drew him into the interior, the
French began to muster on all sides of him in great numbers and in high
wrath. It was evident that he ran great danger of being surrounded,
and would certainly have to fight for his life. When he reached the
Seine, King Philip broke down all the bridges to prevent his escape,
and it was more by chance than good generalship that the English army
succeeded in forcing a passage. Hearing of the vast numbers that were
coming against him, Edward now turned north, but he was again checked
by the river Somme, and only got across by fighting his way over the
dangerous sea-swept ford of Blanchetaque, near the river's mouth, in
face of the levies of Picardy. Three days later he was overtaken by the
French at Crécy, in the county of Ponthieu, and had to turn and fight.
King Philip had brought up a vast army, some 12,000 men-at-arms and
60,000 foot-soldiers, including several thousand Genoese cross-bowmen,
who were reckoned the best mercenary troops in Europe. Edward drew up
his host on a hillside, north of Crécy, placing his archers in front,
with bodies of dismounted men-at-arms to support them; two-thirds of
the army were arrayed in the front line, under the nominal command of
Edward, Prince of Wales, the fifteen-year-old son and heir of the king.
Edward kept the rest in reserve higher up the hill, under his own hand.

[Sidenote: =The English archers.=]

Crécy was the first fight which taught the rulers of the continent
the worth of the English bowman. When the vast French army came up
against them, they easily repelled every attack. First, they riddled
with arrows the Genoese cross-bowmen, who could make no stand against
them, for the archer could shoot six times before the Genoese could
wind up their clumsy arbalests for a second discharge. Then when the
French chivalry advanced, they shot down men and horses so fast that
it was only at a few points that the enemy ever succeeded in reaching
their line, and coming to handstrokes with the Prince of Wales and his
dismounted knights. At evening the French fled, routed by less than a
third of their numbers, before King Edward and his reserve had occasion
to strike a single blow. Edward knighted his son on the field--the
first victory of the celebrated "Black Prince," who was to prove as
good a soldier as his father. When the French dead were counted, it
was discovered that the English archery had slain 11 dukes and counts,
83 barons, 1200 knights, and more than 20,000 of the French soldiery.
John, King of Bohemia, who had come to help Philip VI., though he was
old and weak of sight, was also among the slain. On the other hand, the
English had lost less than a thousand men (August 26, 1346).

[Illustration: BATTLE OF CRÉCY, 1346.]

After this splendid victory, King Edward was able to march unmolested
through the land. He resolved to end the campaign by taking Calais, the
nearest French seaport to the English coast, and one which, if held
permanently, would give him an ever-open door into France.

[Sidenote: =Capture of Calais.=]

Accordingly, he sat down before Calais, and beleaguered it for
many months, till it fell by famine in the next year. The King of
France could do nothing to relieve it, and the town had to yield at
discretion. The men of Calais had made many piratical descents on
England, and Edward was known to bear them a grudge for this. Therefore
seven chief burgesses of the place gallantly came forward to bear the
brunt of his wrath, and offered themselves to him with halters round
their necks, begging him to hang them, but spare the rest of their
townsmen. Edward was at first inclined to take these patriotic citizens
at their word, but his wife Queen Philippa urged him to gentler
counsels, and he let them go. But he drove out of Calais every man who
would not own him as king and swear him fealty, and filled their places
with English colonists. Thus Calais became an English town, and so
remained for more than 200 years, a thorn in the side of France, and an
open gate for the invader from beyond the Channel.

[Sidenote: =Scottish invasion.--Battle of Neville's Cross.=]

While the siege of Calais had been in progress, the Scots had made a
bold attempt to invade the north of England. The young king, David
Bruce, grateful for the shelter which Philip VI. had given him in the
days of his exile, had crossed the Tweed, in the hope of drawing Edward
home, and so robbing him of the results of his campaign in France. But
Queen Philippa summoned to her aid all the nobles who had not gone
over-sea, and mustered them at Durham. David Bruce pushed forward to
meet them, but at Neville's Cross he met with a crushing defeat. Once
more it was found that the Scottish pikemen could not stand against
the English archery. They were beaten with terrible loss, and the king
himself and many of his nobles were taken prisoners and sent to London
(October, 1346).

[Sidenote: =The Black Death.=]

Edward came back from Calais to England laden with glory and spoil, but
all his plunder could not pay for the exhaustion which his heavy taxes
and levies of men had brought upon his realm. The nation, however, was
blinded to its loss by the glory of Crécy, and the war would probably
have been continued with increased energy but for a fearful disaster
which befell the land in the year after the fall of Calais. A great
plague which men called "the Black Death" came sweeping over Europe
from the East, and in the awful havoc which it caused wars were for a
time forgotten. England did not suffer worse than France or Italy, yet
it is calculated that a full half of her population was stricken down
by this unexampled pestilence. Manor-rolls and bishops' registers bear
out by their lists in detail the statements which the contemporary
chroniclers make at large. We note that in this unhappy year, 1348-9,
many parishes had three, and some four successive vicars appointed
to them in nine months. We see how, in small villages of 300 or 400
inhabitants, thirty or forty families, from their oldest to their
youngest member, were swept away, so that their farms reverted to the
lord of the land for want of heirs. We find monasteries in which every
soul, from the prior to the youngest novice, died, so that the house
was left entirely desolate. And thus we realize that the chroniclers
are but telling us sober, unexaggerated facts, when they speak of
this as a pestilence such as none had ever seen before, and none is
ever like to see again. It seems to have been an eruptive form of
that oriental plague which still lingers in Syria and the valley of
the Euphrates. It began with great boils breaking out on the groin or
under the armpits, culminated in sharp fever and violent retching, and
generally carried off its victims within two days.


It is probable that England did not recover the loss of population
which it now sustained for a couple of centuries. But if the nation
was dreadfully thinned, the results of the plague were not all in
the direction of evil. It certainly raised the position of the lower
classes by making labour more scarce, and therefore more valuable.
The surviving agricultural labourers were able to demand much higher
wages than before, and it was in vain that Parliament, by the foolish
_Statute of Labourers_ (1349), tried to prescribe a maximum rate of
wages for them, and to prevent employers giving more. Legislation
is unable to prevent the necessary working of the laws of political
economy, and in spite of the statute the peasant got his advantage.

[Sidenote: =Renewal of the French war.--The Black Prince.=]

About the time of the outbreak of the Black Death, the kings of England
and France had signed a truce, being moved to turn their thoughts far
from war by the terrible havoc that was going on around them. It was
six years before they and their peoples could find heart to forget the
plague, and once more resumed their reckless struggle. In 1355 Edward
made proposals for a definitive peace to King John--Philip VI. had died
in 1350--on the terms that he should give up his claims to the French
crown, but receive Aquitaine free from all burden of homage to the
King of France as suzerain. John refused this reasonable offer, and
Edward recommenced his attacks on France. He himself landed at Calais
and invaded Picardy, but was ere long recalled home by the news that
the Scots also had renewed the war, and were over the Tweed. Edward
spent the summer in beating them back and cruelly ravaging the whole
of Lothian. Meanwhile, his son, the Black Prince, now a young man of
twenty-five, started from Bordeaux and plundered the French province of

In the following year, the Black Prince made a similar incursion into
Central France, and swept through the whole country from Limoges to
Tours with a small army of 4000 mounted men and 3000 archers. When
he turned his face homeward, however, he found that King John with a
host of 40,000 men had blocked his road, by getting between him and
Bordeaux. Thus intercepted, Prince Edward posted himself on the hill
of Maupertuis, near Poictiers, and took up a defensive position. It is
probable that the French, with their vastly superior numbers, could
have completely surrounded him and starved him into surrender without
any need of fighting. But King John, a fierce and reckless prince with
none of a general's ability, preferred to take the English by force of
arms, and, when they refused to surrender to him, prepared to storm
their position.

[Illustration: BATTLE OF POICTIERS, SEP. 1356.]

[Sidenote: =The Battle of Poictiers.=]

Edward's small army was drawn up behind a tall hedgerow and a ditch on
the slope of a ridge, with the archers in front lining the hedgerow,
and the men-at-arms behind them. All the latter save 300 were
dismounted, as at Crécy. The Earls of Salisbury and Warwick had command
of the two divisions which formed the front line, while the prince
himself stayed behind with the reserve. John of France, remembering the
disaster of Crécy, where the English arrows had slain so many horses,
dismounted all his knights save a few hundred, and led them on foot
up the hill in three divisions. Only a picked body of horsemen, under
the two marshals, D'Audrehem and Clermont, pushed forward in front, to
endeavour to ride down the English archers, as the Scottish cavalry had
done so successfully at Bannockburn.

[Sidenote: =Rout of the French.--King John a prisoner.=]

But, whether on foot or on horse, the French made little way with their
attack. The cavalry in advance were all shot down as they tried to push
through gaps in the hedge. The first division of the dismounted knights
then climbed the slope, but, after severe fighting with the front line
of the English, recoiled, unable to force their way over the ditch.
They fell back on to the second line behind them, and put it into
disorder before it could come near the English. Seeing two-thirds of
the French army in this plight, the Prince of Wales resolved to strike
a bold blow: he brought up his reserve to the front, and bade his whole
army charge downhill on to the huddled mass below them. His quick eye
had caught the right moment, for the whole of the French van and second
division fled right and left without fighting. Only King John, with the
rear line of his army, stood firm. With this body, one more numerous
than the whole of his own host, Prince Edward had a fierce fight in
the valley. But the French were broken in spirit by the sight of the
rout of their van, and gave way when they were charged in the flank by
a small body of troops whom Edward had detached to his right for that
purpose. They all fled save the king and his young son Philip, who
stood their ground for a long time with a small company of faithful
vassals, and maintained the fight when all the rest had vanished.
John's courageous obstinacy had the natural result: he, his son, and
the faithful few about him were all surrounded and taken prisoners.
When the English came to reckon up the results of the battle, they
found that they had slain 2 dukes, 17 barons, and 2800 knights and
men-at-arms, and taken captive a king, a prince, 13 counts, 15 barons,
and 2000 knights and men-at-arms. Their own loss did not reach 300 men
(September 19, 1356).

Edward returned in triumph to Bordeaux, and afterwards crossed to
England, to present his all-important prisoner to the king his father.
The prince treated John with great gentleness and courtesy, and did
all that he could to avoid wounding his feelings. Nevertheless, he saw
that in the pressure that could be brought to bear upon his captive,
lay the best hope of winning an honourable and profitable peace from
the French. John chafed bitterly at his detention in custody, and got
little consolation from finding himself in the company of his ally
David, King of Scotland, who had been a prisoner in England for ten
years, ever since the battle of Neville's Cross.

[Sidenote: =Misery and anarchy in France.--The Jacquerie.=]

The difficulty in negociating a peace did not come from King John, but
from the regency which replaced him at Paris. The French did not see
why they should sign a humiliating treaty merely in order to deliver
a harsh and not very popular king from confinement. But a series of
disasters at last forced them to submit. The three years 1357-60 were
almost the most miserable that France ever knew. The young Dauphin
Charles, a mere lad, proved quite unable to keep order in the land;
the barons did what they pleased; hordes of disbanded mercenary
soldiers, whom the government could not pay, roamed plundering over the
countryside side. The people of Paris broke out into sedition, under
a bold citizen named Etienne Marcel, and put the Dauphin himself in
durance for a time. Last and worst of all, the peasantry of Central
France, driven to despair by the general misery of the times, rose in
rebellion against all constituted authority, slew every man of gentle
blood that they could lay hands on, and roamed about in huge bands,
burning castles and manors, and plundering towns and villages. The
horrors of the Jacquerie,[22] as this anarchic revolt was called,
bid fair to destroy all government in France, and it was only by a
desperate rally that those who had anything to lose succeeded in
banding themselves together and crushing the insurgents.

[Sidenote: =Edward again invades France.--Treaty of Bretigny.=]

When France had suffered so bitterly from its foes within, Edward of
England took a great army across the Channel, and in 1359-60 wasted
the whole land as far as Paris and Rheims. But as the French refused
to meet him in the field, he won no battles, took few towns, and got
little profit from his destructive raid. It was at this juncture that
he and the Dauphin at last came to terms. To end the war the French
were ready to grant whatever conditions Edward chose to exact. He asked
for a ransom of 3,000,000 gold crowns for the person of King John, and
for the whole of the duchy of Aquitaine, as Duchess Eleanor had held it
in 1154. In return, he would give up his claim on the crown of France,
and be content to be independent Duke of Aquitaine only. So all the
lands in Southern France which John and Henry III. had lost--Poitou,
Saintonge, Perigord, Limoges, Quercy, and the rest,--were restored to
the Plantagenets, after being 150 years in French hands. Calais and
Ponthieu in the north were also formally ceded to King Edward by this
celebrated treaty of Bretigny (May, 1360).

[Illustration: FRANCE 1380.




It appeared for a moment as if a permanent peace between England and
France had been established. King Edward, in return for giving up a
claim on the whole of France, which no one had taken very seriously,
had won the long-lost lands which his ancestors had never hoped to
retake. He had also made an advantageous peace with Scotland, releasing
King David for a ransom of 90,000 marks, and the fortresses of Berwick
and Roxburgh.

[Sidenote: =Development of trade.--The Flemish weavers.=]

Edward's fortune was now at its highest, and his reign promised to have
a prosperous and peaceful end. He had reached the age of fifty, and was
surrounded by a band of sons who should have been the strength of his
old age. Edward the Black Prince he made Duke of Aquitaine; Lionel
of Clarence, his second son, was married to the heiress of the great
Irish family of de Burgh; John of Gaunt, the third son, was wedded
to the heiress of Lancaster; Thomas of Woodstock, his fifth son, to
one of the co-heiresses of the earldom of Hereford. Thus he trusted
to identify by intermarriage the interests of the royal house and the
greater baronage, not seeing that there was as much probability of his
younger sons becoming leaders of baronial factions as of the barons
forgetting their old jealousy of the royal house. Meanwhile, however,
things went fairly well for some years after the peace of Bretigny. In
spite of the vast expenditure of money on the war, and in spite of the
ravages of the Black Death, the country was in many ways prosperous.
England had enjoyed internal quiet for thirty years; her commerce
with Flanders and Gascony was developing; her fleet, in spite of much
piracy, was dominant in all the Western seas. The increase of wealth is
shown by the fact that Edward III. first of all English monarchs issued
a large currency of gold money (1349), and that his "nobles," as the
broad thin pieces were called, became the favourite medium of exchange
in all North-Western Europe, and formed the model for the gold coins of
the Netherlands, part of Germany, and Scotland. Manufactures as well
as foreign trade were beginning to grow important; the reign of Edward
is always remembered for the development of the weaving industry in
Eastern England. He induced many Flemish weavers to settle in Norwich
and elsewhere, moved, it is said, by the advice of his Netherlandish
queen, Philippa of Hainault. But the main exports of England were
still raw material--especially wool and metals--and not manufactured
goods. The English trader did not usually sail beyond Norway on the
one hand, and North Spain on the other; intercourse with more distant
countries was carried on mainly by companies of foreign merchants, of
whom the men of the Hanse Towns were the most important. These Germans
had a factory in London called the Steelyard, where they dwelt in a
body, under strict rules and regulations. It was by them that English
goods were taken to the more distant markets on the Baltic or the

[Sidenote: =Desultory fighting in Brittany.--Spanish war.=]

The reasons why the treaty of Bretigny failed to give a permanent
settlement of the quarrel between England and France were many. The
English pleaded that the French never fulfilled their obligations,
for King John found his people very unwilling to raise his huge
ransom, and never paid half of it. He returned to England in 1364 to
surrender himself in default of payment--for he had a keen sense of
honour in such things--and then died. His son, Charles V., at once
refused--as was natural--to pay the arrears. But a more fruitful source
of quarrelling was the civil war in Brittany, which still lingered
on after twenty years of fighting; English and French succours came
to help the two rival dukes, and fought each other on Breton soil,
though peace reigned elsewhere. The same thing was soon after seen in
Spain: Pedro the Cruel, the wicked King of Castile, was attacked by
his bastard brother, Henry of Trastamara, who enlisted a great host of
French mercenaries, under Bertrand du Guesclin, the best professional
soldier in France. Driven out of Castile by the usurper and his
allies, Pedro fled to Bordeaux, where the Black Prince was reigning
as Duke of Aquitaine. He enlisted the help of the English, who were
jealous of French influence in Spain, and bought the aid of Edward's
younger brothers, John of Gaunt, who was now a widower, and Edmund of
Cambridge, by marrying his two daughters to them. Edward raised a great
army of English and Gascons, and crossed the Pyrenees to restore King
Pedro. At Najara[23] he routed the French and Castilians, took Bertrand
du Guesclin prisoner, and drove Henry of Trastamara out of the land
(1367). But the ungrateful Pedro then refused to repay the large sums
which Edward had spent in raising his army, and the prince withdrew in
wrath to Aquitaine. He took back with him an intermittent fever which
he had caught in Spain, and never recovered his health. Left to his
own resources, Pedro was soon beset for a second time by his brother
and the French; he was captured by treachery, and slain by Henry of
Trastamara's own hand.

[Sidenote: =Rebellion in Aquitaine.--Massacre at Limoges.=]

Edward had raised vast sums of money from Aquitaine for his Spanish
expedition by heavy taxation which sorely vexed his new subjects. For
the Poitevins and other French, who had become the unwilling vassals
of an English lord by the treaty of Bretigny, were entirely without
any sympathy for Edward and his plans. When the prince returned,
broken in health and penniless, from Spain, they plotted rebellion
against him, with the secret approval of the young King of France. It
soon appeared that Edward III. had been unwise in annexing so many
districts of purely French feeling and blood to the Gascon duchy. For
in 1369-70 Poitou, Limoges, and all the northern half of Aquitaine
broke out into rebellion, and Charles V. openly sent out his armies to
aid them. The Black Prince took the field in a litter, for he was too
weak to ride, and stormed Limoges, where he ordered a horrid massacre
of the rebellious citizens, a deed that deeply stained his hitherto
untarnished fame. But his strength could carry him no further; he
returned helpless to Bordeaux, and presently resigned the duchy of
Aquitaine and returned to England, thereto languish for some years, and
die at last of his lingering disorder.

[Sidenote: =Premature decay of the king.=]

The king himself, though not yet sixty years of age, had fallen into a
premature decay both of mind and body, so that his son's early decease
was doubly unfortunate. After losing his excellent wife Queen Philippa
in 1369, he had sunk into a deep depression, from which he only
recovered to fall into the hands of unscrupulous favourites. In private
he was governed by his chamberlain, Lord Latimer, and by a lady named
Alice Perrers, who had become his mistress; both abused their influence
to plunder his coffers and make market of his favour. The higher
governance of the realm was mainly in the hands of John of Gaunt, the
king's eldest surviving son, a selfish and headstrong prince, who made
himself the head of the war-party, and hoped to gather laurels that
might vie with those of his elder brother, the Black Prince.

[Sidenote: =Loss of possessions in France.=]

The last seven years of Edward's reign (1370-77) were full of disasters
abroad and discontent at home. In France the successors of the Black
Prince proved utterly unable to maintain their grasp on Aquitaine. Town
by town and castle by castle, all the districts that had been won by
the treaty of Bretigny passed into the hands of King Charles V. His
skilful general Bertrand du Guesclin won his way to success without
risking a single pitched battle with the invincible English archery.
When John of Gaunt took a great host over to Calais in 1373, the French
retired before him by their king's order, and shut themselves up behind
stone walls, after sweeping the country bare of provisions. The Duke
of Lancaster marched up to the gates of Paris, and then all through
Central France down to Bordeaux; but, though he did much damage to the
open country, he could not halt to besiege any great town for want
of food, and finally reached Guienne with an army half-starved and
woefully reduced in numbers. Before King Edward was in his grave his
dominions in France had shrunk to a district far smaller than he had
held before the "Hundred Years' War" had commenced. Nothing was left
save the ports of Bordeaux and Bayonne, with the strip of Gascon coast
between them; in the north, however, the all-important fortress of
Calais was firmly and successfully maintained.

[Sidenote: =Discontent and intrigue in England.--The Lollards.=]

Meanwhile there was bitter strife in Parliament at home, for ill
success without always brings on discontent within. John of Gaunt,
since he was known to sway his father's councils, was forced to bear
the brunt of the popular displeasure. It was he who was considered
responsible for the misconduct of the French war, the peculations of
the king's favourites, and the demands of the crown for increased
taxation. The party opposed to him in Parliament counted as its head
the good bishop William of Wykeham, who had been Chancellor from 1367
to 1371, and had been driven from office by Lancaster's command. He was
supported by the clergy, and by most of the "knights of the shires,"
who formed the more important half of the House of Commons. It was
probably the fact that the clergy were unanimously set against him that
led John of Gaunt to seek allies for himself by giving countenance to
an attack on the Church, which was just then beginning to develop.
This was the anti-papal movement of the _Lollards_, or Wicliffites,
as they were called after their leader John Wicliffe--the "Morning
Star of the Reformation." The state of the Papacy and of the Church
at large was at this moment very scandalous. The Pope was living no
more at Rome, but at Avignon, under the shadow of the French king,
and the power of the Papacy was being shamelessly misused for French
objects. England had never loved the papal influence, and had still
less reason to love it when it was employed for the benefit of her
political enemies. The tale of the simony, corruption, and evil living
of the papal court had gone forth all over Europe, and provoked even
more wrath in England than elsewhere. The English Church itself was
far from blameless: there were bishops who were mere statesmen and
warriors, and neglected their diocesan work; there were secular clergy
who never saw their parishes, and monasteries where religion and
sound learning were less regarded than wealth and high living. It was
especially the great wealth of the monasteries, and the small profit
that it brought the nation, which provoked popular comment. Since the
days of the Statute of Mortmain the spirit of the times was changed,
and benefactors who desired to leave a good work behind them founded
and endowed schools and colleges, and not abbeys as of old. It was John
Wicliffe, an Oxford Doctor of Divinity, and sometime master of Balliol
College, who gave voice to the popular discontent with the state of
the Papacy and the national Church. He taught that the Pope's claim to
be God's vicegerent on earth and to guide the consciences of all men
was a blasphemous usurpation, because each individual was responsible
to Heaven for his own acts and thoughts. "All men," he said in feudal
phraseology, "are tenants-in-chief under God, and hold from him all
that they are and possess: the Pope claims to be our mesne-lord, and to
interfere between us and our divine suzerain, and therein he grievously
errs." Wicliffe also held that the Church was far too rich; he thought
that her virtue was oppressed by the load of wealth, and advocated a
return to apostolic poverty, in which the clergy should surrender the
greater part of their enormous endowments. At a later date he developed
doubts on the Real Presence and other leading doctrines of the mediaeval
Church, but it was mainly as a denouncer of the power of the Papacy
and the riches and luxury of the clergy that he became known.

[Sidenote: =Policy of John of Gaunt.--The Good Parliament.=]

John of Gaunt's object in favouring Wicliffe was purely political; with
the reformer's religious views he can have had little sympathy. But he
wished to turn the seething discontent of England into the channel of
an attack on the Church, and to keep it from his own doors. For the
last twenty years legislation against ecclesiastical grievances had
been not infrequent. In 1351 the _Statute of Provisors_ had prohibited
the Pope from giving away English benefices to his favourites. In 1353
the _First Statute of Praemunire_ had forbidden English litigants
to transfer their disputes to the Church courts abroad. Duke John's
attempt to distract the attention of the nation to the reform of
matters ecclesiastic was partly successful; we find many proposals in
Parliament to strip the Church of part of her overgrown endowments,
and utilize them for the service of the state. On this point clerk and
layman had many a bitter wrangle. But Lancaster could not altogether
keep the storm from beating on himself and his father; in 1376 the
"Good Parliament" impeached Latimer and Neville, Edward's favourites
and ministers, and removed and fined them. Alice Perrers, the old
king's mistress, was at the same time banished. In the following year
Lancaster reasserted himself, packed a Parliament with his supporters,
and cancelled the condemnation of Latimer, Neville, and Alice Perrers.
The Bishop of London in revenge arrested Lancaster's _protégé_
Wicliffe, and began to try him for heresy; but the duke appeared in the
court, and so threatened and browbeat the bishop that he was fain to
release his prisoner.

But new complications were now at hand; the aspect of affairs was
suddenly changed by the death of the old king on January 2, 1377, and
political affairs took a new complexion on the accession of his young
grandson, Richard II., the only surviving child of the Black Prince.


              EDWARD III. = Philippa of Hainault. (1)
     |           |                                        |
    Edward    John of = (1)Blanche of                   Thomas,
  the Black   Gaunt  |     Lancaster.                   Duke of
   Prince.           | (2) Constance                   Gloucester.
     |               |     of Castile.                         |
  RICHARD II.,       | (3) Catherine          Edmund Earl = Anne of
  1377-1399.         |     Swinford.         of Stafford. | Gloucester.
                     |                                    |
                     |                             Humphrey, Duke
            (1)      | (3)       (3)               of Buckingham,
            +--------+--+-------------+               killed at
            |           |             |            Northampton, 1460.
        HENRY IV.,   Henry           John                 |
        1399-1413.  Beaufort,      Beaufort,       Humphrey, Earl
            |       Cardinal,      Earl of          of Stafford.
            |       died 1447.     Somerset.              |
            |                             |         Henry, Duke of
       +----+-----+---------+---------+   +----+     Buckingham,
       |          |         |         |        |    executed 1483.
       |          |         |         |        |          |
   HENRY V.,   Thomas    John of   Humphrey    |    Edward, Duke of
   1413-1422.    of      Bedford.     of       |      Buckingham,
       |      Clarence.           Gloucester.  |     executed 1521.
       |                                       |
   HENRY VI.,                                  |
   1422-1461.                                  |
            |                                     |
        John of                                Edmund of
        Somerset,                              Somerset,
        died 1444.                             killed at
            |                                  St. Albans.
            |                                      |
            +----------+                    +------+------+
                       |                    |      |      |
    Edmund Tudor, = Margaret              Henry, Edmund, John
    Earl of     |   Beaufort.             killed in the Wars
    Richmond.   |                            of the Roses.
    HENRY VII.  =  Elizabeth,
    1485-1509.     Daughter of
                   Edward IV.

                 EDWARD III. = Philippa of Hainault. (2)
           |                                        |
       Lionel of = Elizabeth                     Edmund,
       Clarence  | De Burgh.                   Duke of York.
                 |                                    |
                 +------+                    +--------+
                        |                    |        |
    Edmund       =  Philippa              Edmund   Richard  =  Anne
   Mortimer,     |  of Clarence.        of York,      of    |  Mortimer.
  Earl of March. |                      killed at Cambridge.|
                 |                      Agincourt.          |
                 |                                          |
                 |                                          +---+
                 |                                              |
           Roger of March,            Cicely Neville. = Richard, Duke of
       killed in Ireland, 1398.                       | York, killed at
                 |                                    | Wakefield, 1460.
                 |                                    |
      +----------+                        +-----------+-----------+
      |          |                        |           |           |
   Edmund       Anne    = Richard,    EDWARD IV.,  George of   RICHARD
  of March,   Mortimer. | Earl of     1461-1483.   Clarence.     III.,
  died 1425.            | Cambridge.      |           |       1483-1485.
                        |                 |           |
              _See opposite, among        |           +-----------+
              descendants of Edmund,      |           |           |
                 Duke of York_.           |       Edward of  Margaret of
                                          |       Warwick,   Salisbury,
                                          |       executed   executed
                                          |         1499.      1541.
                             |            |               |
                          EDWARD V.,   Richard  Elizabeth = HENRY VII.
                           1483.       of York.


[22] So called from Jacques Bonhomme, the nickname of the typical
French peasant.

[23] Sometimes also called Navarette; it lies beyond the Ebro, near




The little King Richard II. was a boy ten years old, born in the year
when his father went on his ill-fated expedition to Spain to help Don
Pedro. Richard's mother was Joan, Countess of Kent, the heiress of that
unfortunate Earl Edmund, whom Mortimer beheaded in 1330. She had been a
widow when the Black Prince wedded her, and had two sons by her first
husband, Sir Thomas Holland. These two half-brothers of King Richard
were ten years his seniors, and were destined to be not unimportant
figures in the history of his reign; their names were Thomas Holland,
Earl of Kent, and John Holland, Earl of Huntingdon.

[Sidenote: =The regency.--Disasters abroad.=]

The helplessness of the young king, the son of the deeply mourned Black
Prince, at first touched the hearts of all men, and the parties which
were represented by John of Gaunt and William of Wykeham reconciled
themselves, and agreed to join in serving the king faithfully. A
council of regency was appointed, in which both were represented, and
it was agreed that Parliament alone should choose and dismiss the
king's ministers. This happy concord, however, was not to last for
long. The conduct of the foreign affairs of the nation was left in John
of Lancaster's hands, and the continued misfortunes in the French war
were laid to his charge. The troops of Charles V. were still carrying
everything before them; they conquered all Aquitaine save Bordeaux and
Bayonne, and overran the duchy of Brittany, the sole ally of England
on the continent. Moreover, fleets of Norman privateers had begun to
appear in the Channel. They landed boldly on the English coast, and
burnt Winchelsea, Portsmouth, and Gravesend.

[Sidenote: =Heavy taxation.=]

To restore the fortune of war, money was urgently needed, and Duke John
kept asking for more and more, to the discontent both of the Parliament
and the nation. He was granted in 1379 a poll-tax, wherein every man
was assessed according to his estate, from dukes and archbishops who
paid £6 13_s._ 4_d._ to agricultural labourers who paid 4_d._ In 1380
followed another tax graduated from £1 to 1_s._ on every grown man or

[Sidenote: =Discontent of labouring classes.=]

It was the collection of this very unpopular tax that precipitated
the violent outbreak of a discontent that had been smouldering among
the lower classes for the last thirty years. Ever since the Black
Death a silent but bitter contention had been in progress between the
landholding classes and their tenants, more especially those who were
still villeins, and bound to the soil. The main stress of the struggle
had come from the fact that the dearth of labourers, and the rise in
wages which resulted from the Black Death, had caused the lords of
the manors to press more hardly on their tenants. They tried to get
all the labour they could out of the villeins, and refused to take
money payments for their farms instead of days of labour on the lord's
fields. It seems, too, that they strove to claim as villeins many who
were, or wished to be, free rent-paying copyhold or leasehold tenants.
Moreover, when forced to hire free labour, they tried to under-pay it,
relying on the scale of wages fixed by the Statute of Labourers in
1350, instead of abiding by the laws of supply and demand. The pressure
on the part of the lords led to combinations in secret clubs and
societies among the tenants, who agreed to refuse the statutory wages,
and determined to agitate for the removal of all the old labour-rents.
Their idea was to commute all such service due on their little holdings
into money-rents, at the rate of 4_d._ for every acre.

[Sidenote: =Communist doctrines of the Lollards.=]

But the rising of 1380 was due to many other causes beside the
grievance of the villeins. Much discontent can be traced to the
mismanagement of the French war, which was all laid on John of Gaunt's
shoulders. Much more was due to the filtering down of the teaching of
the Lollards to the lower strata of the nation. Wicliffe had always
preached that unjust and sinful rulers, whether clerks or laymen, were
cut off from the right to use their authority by their own manifest
unworthiness, and had no just dominion over their fellow-men. He had
especially protested against the wealth and pomp of the clergy, and
urged that they ought to return to apostolic poverty. The wilder and
more headstrong of his followers had pressed his teaching to the
advocacy of pure communism, saying that riches were in themselves evil,
and that all men should be equal in all things. John Ball, the best
known of these fanatical preachers, was wont to perambulate the country
delivering sermons on his favourite text--

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

Wherever men were oppressed and discontented, they listened eagerly to
these discourses, and began to talk of putting an end to all difference
between man and man, and dividing all things equally between them. But
it was only the wilder spirits who were imbued with these doctrines;
the majority--like most discontented Englishmen in all ages--were
only set on the practical task of endeavouring to redress their own
particular grievances and to better their condition.

[Sidenote: ="Wat Tyler's rebellion."--March upon London.=]

It was in June, 1381, that the rising broke out simultaneously in
almost the whole of Eastern England, from Yorkshire to Hants. It has
gained its name of "Wat Tyler's Rebellion" from Walter the Tyler of
Maidstone, who was chief of the insurgents of Kent. Curiously enough,
four other men bearing or assuming the name of "the Tyler" were
prominent in the troubles. The main incidents of the rising took place
round London, towards which the insurgents flocked from all quarters.
Simultaneously the men of Essex, under a chief who called himself Jack
Straw, marched to Hampstead, those of Hertfordshire to Highbury, and
those of Kent to Blackheath. On their way they had done much damage;
the Essex rioters had caught and murdered the Chief Justice of England,
and the Kentishmen had slain several knights and lawyers who fell into
their hands. Everywhere they pillaged the houses of the gentry, and
sought out and burnt the manor-rolls which preserved the records of the
duties and obligations of the villeins to the lord of the manor.

[Sidenote: =Demands of the rioters.=]

The king's council at London was quite helpless, for the sudden rising
had taken them by surprise, and they had no troops ready. Seeing the
city surrounded by the rioters, they shut its gates and sent to ask
what were the grievances and demands of the mob. The claims that were
formulated by the leaders of the rising were more moderate than might
have been expected, for the wilder spirits were still kept in order by
the cooler ones. They asked that villeinage should be abolished, and
all lands held on villein-tenure be made into leasehold farms rated
at 4_d._ an acre, that the tolls and market dues which heightened the
price of provisions should be abolished, and that all who had been
engaged in the rising should receive a full pardon for the murders and
pillage that had taken place.

[Sidenote: =Attitude of the King.--Progress of the riot.=]

These demands were not too violent to be taken into consideration.
While the regency hesitated, the young king, who displayed a spirit
and resource most unusual in a boy of fourteen, announced that he
would himself go to meet the rioters and try to quiet them, for as yet
they had not said or done anything implying disrespect for the royal
name. But meanwhile the Kentish insurgents had crossed the Thames and
burnt John of Gaunt's great palace, the Savoy, which lay in the Strand
outside the walls of London. Presently the mob in the city rose and
opened the gates, so that Wat Tyler and his host were able to enter.
They slew some foreign merchants and some lawyers, the two classes
whom they seem most to have hated, but wrought no general pillage or

On the 13th of June, Richard, persisting in his resolve of bringing
the insurgents to reason, rode out of Aldgate, and met the Essex men
at Mile End. After hearing their petitions, he declared that they
contained nothing impossible, and that he would undertake that they
should be granted. But while the king was parleying with the eastern
insurgents, the Kentishmen burst into the Tower, where the regency
had been sitting, and committed a hideous outrage. They caught Simon
of Sudbury, the Archbishop of Canterbury--he was also Chancellor--Sir
Robert Hales, the High Treasurer, and Legge, who had farmed the
obnoxious poll-tax, dragged them forth to Tower Hill, and there slew

[Sidenote: =The king meets the rioters.--Tyler slain.=]

Notwithstanding these murders, the young king persisted in his
design of treating with the insurgents. He bade Tyler and his host
meet him next day in Smithfield, outside the city gates. They came,
but Tyler, who had throughout shown himself the most violent of the
insurgents, began wrangling with the king's suite instead of keeping
to the business in hand. This so enraged William Walworth, the Mayor
of London, that he drew a short sword and hewed the rebel down from
his horse. Then one of the king's squires leapt down and stabbed him
as he lay. Walworth's act was likely to have cost the king and his
whole party their lives, for the insurgents bent their bows and shouted
that they would avenge their captain there and then. But Richard,
with extraordinary presence of mind in one so young, pushed his horse
forward and bade them stand still, for they should have their demands
granted, and he himself would be their captain since Tyler was dead. So
there in Smithfield he had a charter drawn up, conceding all that the
insurgents asked, and pardoning them for their treason. Satisfied with
this, the Kentishmen dispersed to their homes.

[Sidenote: =Punishment of the leaders.--Richard's concessions

Richard returned to London in triumph, as he well deserved, vowing that
he had that day won back the realm of England, which had been as good
as lost. Soon the nobles and their armed retainers began to gather to
London, and when they found themselves in force, they began to discuss
the legality of the king's concessions to the peasants. He had not, it
was urged, the right to give away other men's property--namely, their
feudal rights over their vassals--without the consent of Parliament. It
was shocking, too, that the murderers of the archbishop, the lord chief
justice, and the treasurer, should go unpunished. So Richard's charter
was annulled and his general pardon cancelled; all the leaders of the
revolt were caught one after another and hanged; even John Ball's
priest's robe did not save him from the gallows, though clergymen were
so seldom executed in the Middle Ages.

[Sidenote: =Decay of villeinage.=]

When Parliament met, the king proposed to them that his promise to the
insurgents should stand firm so far as the abolition of villeinage
was concerned, since this had been the main cause of the rising.
But the barons and knights of the shire were loth to give up their
feudal rights, and refused to confirm the king's grant; they replied
that the trouble had really had its origin in the evil governance of
the ministers, and turned them all out of office. Nevertheless, the
rising had not failed in its object, for in future the lords of the
manors were afraid to enforce the full letter of their claims over the
peasants, and villeinage gradually sank into desuetude.

[Sidenote: =Richard assumes the government.=]

King Richard had shown his high spirit in the days of the rising,
and four years later, when he had attained the age of eighteen, he
endeavoured to take the reins of power into his own hands. His uncle of
Lancaster did not gainsay him, for he felt himself to be unpopular with
the nation, so he departed over-sea on a vain errand. In right of his
wife Constance, the daughter of Pedro the Cruel, he had a claim to the
crown of Castile, and trusted to get aid from the Portuguese, to set
him on the throne which Henry of Trastamara had usurped. So he gathered
his retainers and many hired soldiers, and sailed away to Spain; nor
was his face seen in England for more than four years.

[Sidenote: =His ministers.=]

Meanwhile the young king had placed his friends in office, and strove
to rule for himself. His chief minister was Michael de la Pole, son of
a rich merchant at Hull, whom he made Earl of Suffolk, to the disgust
of many of the barons. He also favoured greatly Robert de Vere, whom
he made Lord-Deputy of Ireland, and created Marquis of Dublin. In them
and in his two half-brothers, Thomas and John Holland, he placed his

Richard was now twenty; he had been married some years back to Anne
of Bohemia, the daughter of the Emperor Charles IV., and might have
expected that all the world would have counted him old enough to
administer the kingdom.

[Sidenote: =Schemes of Thomas, Duke of Gloucester.=]

But he had reckoned without one man's ambition and jealousy. His
youngest uncle, Thomas, Duke of Gloucester, was an unscrupulous and
domineering prince, who had hoped to succeed to John of Gaunt's
position, and to have the chief part in ruling his nephew's realm.
Richard knew him well, and had no intention of employing him. Seeing
this, Duke Thomas began to gather a party among the greater nobles,
persuading them that the king was putting the rule of England into
the hands of mere upstarts and favourites, and that de la Pole and
de Vere were no better than Gaveston or the Despensers. Gloucester
drew into his designs many of the most important barons; the Earls
of Warwick, Arundel, and Nottingham, and Henry of Bolingbroke, the
son and heir of John of Gaunt, were the chief plotters. They stirred
up the people and Parliament by complaints of the maladministration
of the ministers, and used a threatened invasion of the French as a
lever against those entrusted with the conduct of the long unhappy war
with France. When they had excited public opinion, they had Suffolk
impeached in Parliament for maladministration of the revenue. Though
almost certainly guiltless, he was condemned and imprisoned. But when
Parliament had dispersed, the king took him out of confinement, and
restored him to favour, declaring that he had a full right to choose
his own ministers.

[Sidenote: =The "Lords Appellant."=]

There followed, shortly after, the armed rising of Thomas of Gloucester
and his accomplices. Proclaiming that they wished only to free the
king from evil councillors, Gloucester, Warwick, Arundel, Nottingham,
and the young Henry of Bolingbroke marched on London with a great body
of retainers. They called themselves the "_Lords Appellant_," because
they _appealed_ or accused of treason the king's ministers. Richard
was taken by surprise at this very unjustifiable raising of civil war.
He bade his friends arm, but de Vere, who had raised some levies in
Oxfordshire, was beaten by the rebels at Radcot Bridge, and no one else
tried to resist. De Vere and de la Pole succeeded in flying to France,
where they both died shortly after in exile. But the king and the rest
of his friends and ministers fell into the hands of the Lords Appellant.

[Sidenote: =The Merciless Parliament.=]

Under the eyes of Gloucester and his accomplices the _Merciless
Parliament_ was summoned to London. Awed by the armed men around them,
the members declared Suffolk and de Vere outlaws, and condemned to
death seven of the king's minor ministers. So Tresilian the Chief
Justice, Sir Simon Burley who had been the king's tutor, and five more
were hanged (February, 1388). This disgraceful Parliament ended by
voting £20,000 as a gift to the Lords Appellant for their services, and
then dispersed.

Gloucester and his friends were in office for something more than a
year, a period long enough to show the world that they were grasping
self-seekers, and not patriots. The only service they did the country
was to negociate truces with Scotland and France, which stopped for a
time the lingering "Hundred Years' War."

[Sidenote: =Dismissal of Gloucester.=]

By 1389 Richard had passed his majority. In a session of the royal
council, he suddenly asked his uncle Gloucester how old he was. The
duke replied that he was now in his twenty-second year. "Then," said
the king, "I am certainly old enough to manage my own affairs." So,
formally thanking Gloucester and the rest for their past services,
he dismissed them from office. If he had replaced them by his own
favourites the civil war would have broken out again, but Richard
wisely called in the good bishop William of Wykeham, and other ancient
councillors of his grandfather's, against whom no one had a word to
say. He made no attempt to punish the Lords Appellant, and acted with
such self-restraint and moderation that all the realm was soon full of
his praises. Yet all the time he was dissembling, and biding his time
for revenge on the men who had murdered his friends in 1388.

[Sidenote: =Moderation of Richard.--Growth of Lollardry.=]

Richard's wise and moderate rule lasted for eight years, 1389-97.
They were a prosperous time: the French war was suspended, and the
king seemed to have put a permanent end to it, by marrying a French
princess, Isabella, the daughter of Charles VI., after his first wife
Anne of Bohemia had died. Perhaps the most important feature of the
time was the growth of the Wicliffite movement. John Wicliffe himself
had died, at a good old age, in 1384, but his disciples the Lollards
continued to increase and multiply. We find them so powerful that
in the Parliament of 1394 their representatives in the Commons had
begun to agitate for a national declaration against some of the most
prominent doctrines of the Roman Church--such as image-worship, the
efficacy of pilgrimages, the celibacy of the clergy, and even the
Real Presence in the Lord's Supper. They were only stopped by Richard
himself, who hurried home from Ireland to rebuke them. He told them
that he would hear nothing of such changes, but he did not molest
or persecute them, and let the movement take its course. The "Great
Schism" was at this time at its height, and the Church presented
the disgraceful spectacle of two rival popes, at Rome and Avignon,
anathematizing each other, and preaching a crusade against each other's
adherents. When such was the state of affairs, and no one knew who
was orthodox and who heretical, it was natural enough that the new
doctrines should flourish.

[Sidenote: =Richard's revenge on the Lords Appellant.=]

In 1397 Richard thought himself so firmly seated on his throne that
he could venture to execute his long-cherished vengeance on the Lords
Appellant. He had won over two of them to himself, Mowbray, Earl of
Nottingham, and Henry of Bolingbroke, the heir of the old Duke of
Lancaster. On the others his vengeance suddenly fell; he accused
Gloucester, Arundel, and Warwick, of plotting a new rebellion. They
were seized and thrown into prison: Arundel was tried and executed;
Gloucester was secretly murdered at Calais; Warwick was banished
for life to the Isle of Man. Nor was this all: for a time Richard
professed the greatest affection for Nottingham and Bolingbroke, the
two survivors of the plotters of 1388. He even made them Dukes of
Norfolk and Hereford. But in 1398 his vengeance fell on them also. He
induced Hereford to accuse Norfolk of treasonable conversation, and
when Mowbray denied it, proposed that they should meet in judicial
combat in the lists at Coventry. They consented, but when the champions
came ready armed before him, Richard suddenly stopped the duel, and
announced to the astonished dukes that he had determined to banish them
both from the realm--Norfolk for life, Hereford for ten years.

[Sidenote: =Tyranny of Richard.=]

Having thus wreaked his vengeance on the last of the Lords Appellant,
Richard proceeded to rule in a far more arbitrary manner than before,
and decidedly outstepped his constitutional rights. He thought that
there was no one left in the realm who would dare to oppose him,
and that he could do all that he chose. His most flagrantly illegal
step was to increase his revenue by raising forced loans from men of
wealth, an ingenious means of getting money without having to apply
to Parliament for it. But he kept up a considerable standing army of
archers, to overawe discontent, and thought himself quite secure.
When John of Gaunt died in 1399, he seized upon all the great estates
of the duchy of Lancaster, and refused to allow the exiled Henry of
Bolingbroke to claim his father's title and heritage. This roused much
sympathy for Henry, since he had been promised that his banishment
should make no difference to his rights of inheritance.

[Sidenote: =Condition of Ireland.--Richard's Irish expedition.=]

Richard's nearest kinsman and heir at this time was his cousin Roger,
Earl of March, the grandson of Lionel of Clarence, the Black Prince's
next brother. The king had sent him over to Ireland and entrusted
him with the government of that country, for he paid more attention
to Irish affairs than any of his ancestors, and had already made
one expedition across St. George's Channel in 1394. Ireland had
been in a state of complete anarchy ever since Edward Bruce broke
up the foundations of English rule eighty years before, and both
the Anglo-Norman lords of the Pale and the Irish chiefs of the west
showed an utter disregard for the royal authority. Roger of March was
killed by rebels in a skirmish at Kenlys-in-Ossory in 1398, and this
so provoked Richard that he resolved to go over himself, with all his
personal retainers and hired guards, and put an end to the anarchy.

[Sidenote: =Return of Bolingbroke.=]

Accordingly, early in 1399 the king sailed for Dublin, leaving England
in charge of his one surviving uncle, Edmund, Duke of York, a weak
old man who had always shown himself very loyal, but very incapable.
When Richard was lost to sight in the Irish bogs, all his enemies
began to take counsel against him. The barons began to murmur at his
arbitrary rule, the citizens of London at his forced loans, the clergy
at his tolerance for the Lollards. At the critical moment Henry of
Bolingbroke landed unexpectedly at Ravenspur, in Yorkshire, proclaiming
that he had only come to claim his father's duchy, which had been so
wrongfully withheld from him. He was immediately joined by Percy, Earl
of Northumberland, and many other northern lords. The regent Edmund of
York gathered an army to withstand him, but when Bolingbroke explained
to him that he came with no treasonable purpose, but only to plead for
his forfeited estates, the simple old man dismissed his troops and went
home. Thus unexpectedly freed from opposition, Bolingbroke soon showed
his real mind by catching and hanging Richard's ministers, Scrope, Earl
of Wiltshire, Bushey, and Greene.

[Sidenote: =Richard returns from Ireland--is overpowered.=]

The news of Duke Henry's landing had soon got to Ireland, and the
king at once prepared to return and resist him. But for four weeks
persistent easterly winds kept him storm-bound at Dublin. At last the
wind turned, and Richard could cross, but he came too late. York's
army had dispersed, and some Welsh levies, whom the Earl of Salisbury
had raised, had also gone home, after waiting in vain for the king's
landing. When Richard reached Flint Castle with the small following
that he had brought with him, he was surrounded by troops under the
Earl of Northumberland, who had been awaiting his arrival. Nothing but
surrender was possible, so Richard yielded himself up, trusting that
his cousin aimed merely at seizing the governance of the realm, and not
at his master's life or crown.

[Sidenote: =Richard abdicates.--Election of Henry.=]

Henry, however, had other views: he put Richard in strict custody,
and took him to London. There the Parliament assembled, overawed
by the armed retainers of the duke and his partisans. Richard was
forced by threats to abdicate, and thought that he had thus secured
his life. Then Henry caused the Parliament to accept his cousin's
resignation, and claimed the crown for himself. This was in manifest
disregard of the rights of Edmund of March, the young son of that Roger
who had fallen in Ireland a year before. The Parliament, however,
formally elected the duke to fill his cousin's throne, and saluted
him as king by the name of Henry IV. Constitutionally, no doubt, they
were acting within their rights; but it is only fair to say that
Richard--headstrong and arbitrary though he had been--had scarcely
deserved his fate. Nor was there any adequate reason for setting aside
the clear hereditary claim of Edmund of March (1399).

[Sidenote: =Murder of Richard.=]

Henry had grasped the crown, but he knew that his position was
insecure. He had only a Parliamentary title, and what one Parliament
had done another could undo. The late king had many faithful partisans,
and was not misliked by the nation at large. Therefore the unscrupulous
usurper determined to make away with him. Richard was sent to
Pontefract Castle, and never seen again; undoubtedly he was murdered,
but no one save Henry and his confidants knew how the deed was done.
The details of the dark act have never come to light.




[Sidenote: =Position and title of Henry.=]

Henry of Bolingbroke had small comfort all his days on the throne which
he had usurped. He was only the king of a faction, the nominee of the
party which had once supported the Lords Appellant; if one half of
the baronage was friendly to him for that reason, the other half was
always estranged from him. It might almost be said that the "Wars of
the Roses," the strife of the two great factions who adhered the one to
the house of Lancaster and the other to the house of March, began on
Henry's accession.

Richard's deposition had been the work, not of the whole nation, but
of Henry's friends, the Percies of Northumberland, the Nevilles of
Westmoreland, the Arundels--son and brother to the Arundel whom Richard
had beheaded in 1397--and the Staffords[24] who represented the line of
Thomas, Duke of Gloucester. The Parliament had acquiesced in Henry's
usurpation rather because it had been discontented with Richard's
arbitrary rule, than because it had any very great liking for his
cousin. Perhaps the more far-sighted of its members had concluded that
the accession of a king whose only title rested on election would be
favourable to the development of constitutional liberties, since Henry
would--at least for a time--be very much dependent on the good-will of
the body which had chosen him, and which might some day choose another
ruler if he proved unpliable.

[Sidenote: =Rebellion of the Hollands.=]

Before Henry had been two months on the throne, civil war had
broken out. The insurgents were Richard's kinsmen and favourites.
The two Hollands--Earls of Kent and Huntingdon, who were Richard's
half-brothers--conspired with Montacute, Earl of Salisbury, and Lord
Despenser, who had been his trusted friends. They plotted to seize King
Henry, as he lay at Windsor keeping the festivities of Christmas, to
slay or imprison him, and to release their old master from Pontefract
Castle. Unfortunately for themselves, they took into their counsels
Edward Earl of Rutland, the son of the old Duke of York. The cowardly
prince, finding that he was suspected, informed the king of the plot
before the conspirators were ready. Henry escaped from Windsor, and
called his friends together at London. The rebel earls set out in
various directions to endeavour to raise their retainers, but they were
all overtaken. Kent and Salisbury fell into their enemies' hands at
Cirencester, Huntingdon was caught in Essex, Despenser at Bristol. All
were beheaded without any delay or form of trial. Henry's grim reply to
this insurrection was the production of the dead body of King Richard,
which was brought from Pontefract to London, and publicly displayed to
prove his death. Nevertheless, many men refused to credit his decease,
and for years after there were some who maintained that the body
exposed in St. Paul's was not that of the late king, but that of his
chaplain, who bore an extraordinary personal resemblance to him. They
believed, or tried to believe, that Richard had escaped and was alive
in Scotland. Trading on this notion, an impostor presented himself at
the Scotch court, and was long entertained there as the true King of
England by the simple Robert III.

[Sidenote: =Rebellion in Wales.--Owen Glendower.=]

Hardly was the rebellion of the Hollands put down before a second
civil war arose. The Welsh had always been devoted to King Richard,
and had taken his deposition very ill. In 1400, a gentleman named
Owen-ap-Griffith, of Glendower, who had been one of Richard's squires,
put himself at the head of a rising in North Wales. Owen was of the
old princely blood of the house of Llewellyn, and proclaimed himself
Prince of North Wales under the suzerainty of his master Richard, whom
he declared to be still alive in Scotland. He was a guerilla captain
of marked ability, and completely baffled the efforts that King Henry
made to put him down. He swept all over North Wales, captured many
of its castles, and extended his sway over the whole countryside. To
the day of his death Owen maintained himself in independence, ravaging
the English border when he was left alone, and retiring into the
recesses of Snowdon when a great force took the field against him. His
incursions penetrated as far as Worcester and Shrewsbury, and no man
west of the Severn was safe from his plundering bands.

[Sidenote: =England harassed by Scotland and France.=]

As if the Welsh trouble was not enough to keep King Henry employed,
other wars broke out around him. The Scots under the Earl of Douglas
crossed the border to harry Northumberland, and Lewis of Orleans, the
uncle of Richard's queen Isabella, began to stir up the French court to
attack England, and encouraged many descents of Norman privateers on
the coasts of the Channel.

[Sidenote: =Henry and the Parliament.--Persecution of the Lollards.=]

Henry's only resource was to keep the nation in good temper by a
rigorous and punctual obedience to all the petitions and requests of
his Parliament. Accordingly, he showed himself the most constitutional
of sovereigns, and both now and for many years to come made himself
the dutiful servant of the Commons. He also did his best to enlist
the favour of Churchmen on his side by a cruel persecution of the
Lollards. The disciples of Wicliffe had always favoured King Richard,
who had shown them complete tolerance, and Henry felt that he was not
estranging any of his own partisans when he handed over the Lollards
to the mercy of the harsh and fanatical Archbishop Arundel.[25] It was
under this prelate's guidance that the king assented to the infamous
statute _De Heretico Comburendo_ (1401), which condemned all convicted
schismatics to the stake and fire. The first victim burnt was William
Sawtree, a London clergyman, and others followed him at intervals all
through Henry's reign.

[Sidenote: =Battle of Homildon Hill.=]

The Scotch war came to a head in 1402, at the battle of Homildon Hill.
There Murdoch of Albany, the son of the Scotch regent, was completely
defeated by Percy of Northumberland and his son Harry Percy, whom the
Borderers nicknamed Hotspur for his speed and energy. But the victory
of Homildon was fated to do England more harm than any defeat, since
it was to cause a renewal of the civil war. The Percies had taken
many prisoners, including Murdoch himself, and three other Scots
Earls, Douglas, Moray, and Orkney. From the ransoms of these peers
they trusted to get great profit; but King Henry, who was at his
wits' end to scrape money together without troubling Parliament, took
the prisoners out of the Percies' hands and claimed the ransoms for
himself. This mortally offended Northumberland, a proud and greedy
chief, who had been Henry's main support at the time of his usurpation,
and thought that in return the king ought to refuse nothing to him.

[Sidenote: =Rebellion of the Percies.=]

In sheer lawless wrath at the king's refusal to hear him,
Northumberland resolved to dethrone Henry. He secretly concerted
measures with Owen Glendower for a joint attack on the king, and
released his captive, the Earl of Douglas, who in return brought him a
band of Scottish auxiliaries. By Owen's counsel, aid was sought from
France also, and it was settled that the young Earl of March should be
proclaimed king, if Richard II. proved to be really dead.

[Sidenote: =Battle of Shrewsbury.--Death of Hotspur.=]

In July, 1403, the Percies rose, and were joined by their kinsman the
Earl of Worcester, and many more. Hotspur rapidly led his army towards
Shrewsbury, where Glendower had promised to join him with a Welsh
host. But King Henry was too quick for his foes; he threw himself
between them, and caught the young Percy before the Welsh came up. The
desperately fought battle of Shrewsbury (July 23, 1403) ended in the
victory of the royal host. Hotspur was slain by an arrow, while Douglas
and Worcester were taken, and the latter executed for treason. It was
at this field that the king's eldest son, Henry of Monmouth, destined
in later years to be the conqueror of France, first looked upon the
face of war.

[Sidenote: =Second Rebellion.--Execution of Scrope.=]

The Earl of Northumberland, who had not been present at Shrewsbury, but
had kept at home in the north, was allowed to make his peace with the
king on the payment of a great fine. But Henry was wrong in thinking
that the crafty and resentful old earl was no longer dangerous. Though
his brave son was dead, Percy stirred up a second rebellion two years
later, by the aid of Mowbray, Earl of Nottingham, son of Henry's old
opponent in the lists of Coventry,[26] and of Scrope, Archbishop of
York, brother of that Scrope, Earl of Wilts, whom the Lancastrians had
hung in 1399. But Neville, Earl of Westmoreland, who commanded for
the king in the North, induced Scrope and Mowbray to lay down their
arms and come to a conference, and there he seized them as traitors.
They were at once put on trial, not before their peers as they claimed,
but before two of the king's justices, who condemned them to death.
Scrope's execution sent a thrill of horror throughout England, for no
archbishop had ever before been slain by a king, save Thomas Becket,
and many men counted him a martyr even as Becket. So Henry lost as much
love of the clergy by this act as he had gained by his assent to the
statute _De Heretico Comburendo_.

Northumberland escaped to Scotland in 1405, and lurked there for two
years; but in 1407 he crossed the Tweed, raised his vassals, and made a
dash for York. But he was intercepted at Bramham Moor, and there slain,
fighting hard in spite of his seventy years.

After this King Henry was no more vexed with civil war in England, but
his Welsh troubles showed no sign of ending. Owen Glendower eluded
Henry, Prince of Wales, and all the other leaders who came against him,
with complete success, and the English armies suffered so severely from
storms among the Welsh hills that they swore that Owen was a magician
and had conjured the elements against them.

[Sidenote: =Henry's submission to Parliament .--The Beauforts.=]

It was the constant drain of money for this interminable war that
kept the king in strict submission to his Parliament, so that he was
obliged to allow them to audit all his accounts, and even to dismiss
his servants when they thought that he kept too large and wasteful a
household. Henry much disliked this control, but he always bowed before
it. His health was failing, though he was still in middle age, and
bodily weakness seems to have bent his will. From 1409 to 1412 he was
so feeble that the government was really carried on by his son, the
Prince of Wales, and his half-brothers, the Beauforts, Henry, Bishop of
Winchester, and Thomas, the Chancellor. Of the Beaufort clan we shall
hear much in the future; they were the sons of John of Gaunt's old
age. After the death of his wife, Constance of Castile, a lady named
Katharine Swinford became his mistress and bore him several sons. He
afterwards married her, and the children were legitimatized by Act of
Parliament. Of these the eldest was now Earl of Somerset, and the
youngest Bishop of Winchester.

[Sidenote: =Detention of Prince James of Scotland.=]

It was fortunate for England in these years, when the realm was
ruled by a bedridden king and a very young Prince of Wales, that her
neighbours to north and south had fallen on evil days. Neither Scot nor
Frenchman was dangerous at this time. The Scots were bridled by the
fact that the heir of the kingdom was in Henry's hands. For it chanced
that King Robert III. was sending his son James to France, and that
the ship was taken by an English privateer. "Why did they not send him
straight to me?" said King Henry; "I could have taught him French as
well as any man at Paris." So Prince James was kept at Windsor as a
hostage for the good behaviour of Scotland. His jealous uncle Albany,
the regent of that kingdom, did not want him released, and was quite
content to leave him in Henry's power and keep the peace.

[Sidenote: =Civil War in France.--Armagnacs and Burgundians.=]

The cause of the quiescence of France was very different. King Charles
VI. had become insane, and no longer ruled. A desperate civil war had
been raging there ever since the king's brother, the Duke of Orleans,
had been murdered by his cousin, the Duke of Burgundy, in 1407. The
partisans of the murdered duke, who were called the Armagnacs from
their leader, Bernard, Count of Armagnac, were always endeavouring
to revenge his death on Burgundy. They mustered most of the feudal
nobility of France in their ranks, while their opponent was supported
by the burghers of Paris and many of the towns of the north. John of
Burgundy was lord of Flanders as well as of his own duchy, and was well
able to hold his own even though his French partisans were outnumbered
by the Armagnacs. Both factions sought the help of England, and King
Henry was able to play a double game, and to negociate with each
of them on the terms that he should be given back some of the lost
districts of Aquitaine in return for his aid. In the end he closed with
the offers of the Armagnacs, and sent over a small army to Normandy
under his second son, Thomas, Duke of Clarence. Clarence accomplished
little, but the fact that his troops were able to march across France
to Bordeaux with little hindrance taught the English that the French
were too helpless and divided to be formidable (1412). The lesson was
taken to heart, as we shall see in the next reign.

[Sidenote: =Prince Henry of Monmouth.=]

While King Henry lay slowly dying of leprosy, his son, the Prince of
Wales, was gaining the experience which was to serve him so well a
few years later. Henry of Monmouth was a warrior from his youth up;
at the age of fifteen he had been present at Shrewsbury field, and in
the succeeding years he toiled in the hard school of the Welsh wars,
leading expedition after expedition against Glyndower. The legendary
tales which speak of him as a debauched and idle youth, who consorted
with disreputable favourites, such as Shakespeare's famous "Sir John
Falstaff," are entirely worthless. Of all these fables the only one
that seems to have any foundation is that which tells how Henry was
suspected by his father of over-great ambition and of aiming at the
crown. It appears that the prince's supporters, the two Beauforts,
suggested to King Henry that he should abdicate, and pass on the
sceptre to his son. The king was much angered at the proposal, turned
the Beauforts out of office, and was for a time estranged from the
Prince of Wales. This was the reason why he sent Clarence rather than
his elder brother to conduct the war in France. He even removed Prince
Henry from his position as head of the royal council. But this outburst
of anger was the king's last flash of energy. He died of his lingering
disease on March 20, 1413.


[24] Thomas of Gloucester's only daughter had married Edmund, Earl of

[25] Brother of the Arundel whom Richard II. beheaded.

[26] See p. 210.




Henry of Monmouth had a far easier task before him, when he ascended
the throne, than his father had been forced to take in hand. He had
the enormous advantage of succeeding to an established heritage, and
was no mere usurper legalized by parliamentary election. So firm did
he feel himself upon his seat, that he began his reign by releasing
the young Earl of March, the legitimate heir of Richard II., whom
Henry IV. had always kept in close custody. For he knew that none of
the odium of his father's usurpation rested upon himself, and that he
was well liked by the nation. Nor was his popularity ill deserved;
though only twenty-five years of age, he was already a tried warrior
and an able statesman. His life was sober and orderly, inclining
rather toward Spartan rigour than display and luxury. He was grave
and earnest in speech, courteous in all his dealings, and an enemy of
flatterers and favourites. His sincere piety bordered on asceticism. If
he had a fault, it was that he was somewhat overstern with those who
withstood him, like his great ancestor Edward I. His enemies called him
hard-hearted and sanctimonious.

[Sidenote: =Persecution of the Lollards.=]

Henry's piety and his love of order and orthodoxy were a source of
much trouble to the unhappy Lollards. From the moment of his accession
he bore very hardly upon them, and redoubled the severity of the
persecution which his father had begun. He did not spare even his own
friends, but arrested for heresy Sir John Oldcastle, Lord Cobham, who
had been one of his most trusted servants. When accused of holding the
doctrines of Wicliffe, Oldcastle boldly avowed his sympathy for them,
spoke scornfully of the Papacy and its claims, and taunted his judge,
Archbishop Arundel, with all the sins and failings of the clergy. He
was condemned to be burnt, but escaped from the Tower and hid himself
in the Marches of Wales. Long afterwards he was retaken, and suffered
bravely for his opinions.

Henry's ill-treatment of the Lollards drove the unfortunate sectaries
to despair. Some of the more reckless of them planned to put an end to
their sufferings, by seizing the king's person, and compelling him to
relax the persecution. They tried to stir up a popular rising, like
that of Wat Tyler, but Henry got timely notice of their plot. When they
began to assemble by night in St. Martin's fields, outside the gates
of London, he came suddenly upon them with a great body of horse, and
scattered them all. Forty were hung next day as traitors, and for the
future they were treated as guilty of treason as well as of heresy.

[Sidenote: =Henry and the French crown.=]

Fortunately for England, Henry had other things in his mind besides the
suppression of the Wicliffites. He knew that nothing serves so well
to quiet down internal troubles as a successful and glorious foreign
war. He believed himself, and rightly, to be capable of leading the
national forces to victory, and he knew that England's old neighbour
and enemy across the Channel was weak and divided. Accordingly, from
the moment of his accession Henry began to prepare for an assault on
France. He was determined to claim not merely the restoration of the
lost provinces of Guienne, but the crown of France itself, as Edward
III. had done in the days before the treaty of Bretigny. It is hard
to discover how a sincerely religious and right-minded man, for such
Henry of Monmouth undoubtedly was, could persuade his conscience that
it was permissible to vamp up once more these antiquated claims. It
would seem that he regarded himself as a divinely appointed guardian
of law, order, morality, and religion, and had come to look upon the
French factions with their open wickedness, their treason, treachery,
murder, and rapine, as emissaries of Satan handed over to him for
punishment. Moreover, Henry was, as we have said, a very zealous
servant of the Church, and the Church did its best to egg him on to
the war. Chicheley, the Archbishop of Canterbury, was one of the chief
supporters of it, partly because he wished to distract attention from
the persecution of the Lollards, and partly because Parliament had
been talking of a proposal to confiscate some Church land, and the
archbishop thought that he had better give them some other and more
exciting subject of discussion. In his old age, Chicheley bitterly
regretted his advice to King Henry, and built his college of All Souls
at Oxford, to pray for the repose of those who had fallen in the great
war which he had set going.

[Sidenote: =Preparations for war.=]

Before he had been a year upon the throne, Henry had broken with
France. It was in vain that the Dauphin and the Armagnac faction,
who were at this time predominant, endeavoured to turn him from his
purpose. They offered him the hand of the Princess Catherine, the
daughter of their mad king Charles VI., and with her the lost provinces
of Aquitaine and a dowry of 600,000 gold crowns. But Henry only replied
by asking for all that his ancestors had ever held in France, the
ancient realm of Henry II., extending from Normandy to the Pyrenees.
When this preposterous demand was refused, he summoned Parliament and
laid before it his scheme for an invasion of France. The proposal was
received with enthusiasm, partly from old national jealousy, partly
because the English resented the doings of the French in the time of
Henry IV., when Norman privateers had vexed the Channel ports, and
French succour had been lent to Owen Glyndower and the Scots. The
Commons and the clergy gave the king very liberal grants of money,
which he increased by seizing the estates of the "alien priories," that
is, the religious houses that were mere branches and dependencies of
continental abbeys.

[Sidenote: =Conspiracy of Cambridge and Scrope.=]

By spending every shilling that he could raise, and even pawning the
crown jewels, the king collected and equipped a considerable army.
He assembled at Southampton some 2500 men-at-arms and 7000 archers
for the invasion. Just before he embarked, however, he found himself
exposed to a deadly peril, which showed him how precarious was the hold
of the Lancastrian dynasty on the throne. A plot had been formed by
his cousin, Richard of Cambridge, the younger brother of that Edmund
of Rutland who betrayed the rebels of 1399. It had as its object the
murder of Henry and the coronation of Edmund, Earl of March, whose
sister Richard had married. In the plot were implicated Lord Scrope,
a kinsman of the archbishop whom Henry IV. had executed and several
others who had grievances against the house of Lancaster. The king sent
them all to the block, and would not delay his sailing for a moment.

[Sidenote: =Siege of Harfleur.=]

He landed in Normandy late in the summer of 1415, and laid siege to
Harfleur, which then occupied the position that Havre enjoys to-day,
and was the chief commercial port at the mouth of the Seine. On the
news of Henry's approach, the French factions for once suspended their
hostilities, and many of the Burgundians, though not Duke John himself,
agreed to assist the Armagnacs in repelling the invaders. But they were
so long in gathering that Harfleur fell, after five weeks of siege. The
capture, however, had cost the English dear; not only had they lost
many men in the trenches, but a pestilence had broken out among them,
and a third of the army were down with camp-fever. After shipping off
his sick to Southampton, and providing a strong garrison for Harfleur,
King Henry found that he had no more than 6000 men left, with whom to
take the field against the oncoming French. But he would not withdraw
ingloriously by sea, and resolved to march home to Calais across
Northern France. This enterprise savoured of rashness, for the whole
countryside was swarming with the levies of the enemy. They had placed
the Constable of France, John d'Albret, in command: with him were
the young Duke of Orleans and all the rest of the Armagnac leaders.
Anthony of Brabant, brother to the Duke of Burgundy, was hurrying to
their aid from the north. By rapid movements--his whole army, archers
as well as men-at-arms, had been provided with horses taken from the
countryside--Henry reached the Somme. But he lost time in trying to
force a passage, and when at last he crossed the river high up, near
Peronne, the Constable and his host had outmarched him and thrown
themselves across the road to Calais. They were at least 30,000
strong, five times the force that Henry could put in line, and were
in excellent condition, while the English were worn out by their long
travel, amid violent October rains, and over bad country crossroads.

[Illustration: BATTLE OF AGINCOURT. 1415.]

[Sidenote: =Battle of Agincourt.=]

When King Henry reached Agincourt, he found the French army drawn up
across his path, and was forced to halt. The Constable, like King John
at Poictiers, was confident that he had the English in a trap, for
they had exhausted all their provisions, and had the flooded Somme in
their rear. Henry, however, was determined to fight, and put his hope
in the bad management which always characterized the disorderly armies
of feudal France. He was not disappointed: the Constable dismounted
all his knights and bade them fight on foot, for fear of the effect of
the archery on their horses. Only a few hundred mounted men formed a
forlorn hope in front. He arranged his army in three heavy columns, one
behind another, and formed the front entirely of mailed men-at-arms;
the cross-bowmen and light troops were placed in the rear, where they
could be of no possible use. The week had been rainy, and the space in
front of the French was a newly ploughed field sodden with water, and
hemmed in with woods and villages on either hand. At its further end
the English were waiting. Henry had drawn them up in a single four-deep
line, in order to make a front equal to that of the enemy. So arranged
they just filled the space between the woods. The archers were on the
wings, protected by _chevaux-de-frise_ of pointed stakes which they had
planted in front. The king with his men-at-arms formed the centre; a
small flanking force of archers had also been sent into the woods on
the right.

The Constable led his men straight on the English front, but they had
a mile to go across the greasy mud of the fields. To men arrayed in
the full knightly panoply, which had vastly increased in weight since
the days of Edward III., the ploughland was almost impassable. After a
space they began to sink as far as their ankles, and presently as far
as their knees, in the mud. The mounted men struggled on, and gradually
drew near the English, but they were shot down one after another as
they slowly forced themselves up to the stakes of the archery. The
main body of the first column never won its way so far; it literally
stuck fast in the tenacious clay and stood a few score yards from the
English line, as a target into which the archers emptied whole sheaves
of arrows. The crowded mass was soon full of dead and dying, for at
such short range armour could not protect its wearers. The whole column
reeled and wavered. Then King Henry, seeing the moment was come, bade
his whole line charge. The lightly equipped archers could cross with
ease the ploughland where the men-at-arms had found themselves unable
to move. They flung themselves upon the French knights, and by the
force and fury of their assault completely rolled them over. Though
unprotected by mail, they obtained a complete ascendency over the
enemy, dashing them down with their axes and maces till they lay in
heaps two or three deep. Henry and the band of men-at-arms around him
seem to have met with the only stubborn resistance: the king had to
fight hard for his life, and was nearly slain by the Duke of Alençon,
who had already struck down his younger brother Humphrey, Duke of
Gloucester. Alençon, however, was slain, and after his fall the whole
of his column was destroyed or captured.

Without a moment's hesitation, the English pushed on to attack the
second column, which was slowly advancing through the mud to aid the
van. Incredible as it may appear, their second charge was as successful
as the first, though the victors were exhausted and thinned in numbers
by the previous fighting, and did not muster half their adversaries'
force. Just after he had routed this second column, Henry received an
alarm that a detached body of the French had assailed his camp in the
rear, and were coming up to surround him. He at once bade his men slay
the prisoners they had taken, a harsh and, as it proved, an unnecessary
order, for the French in the rear only plundered the camp, and then
dispersed with their booty. Although the king had completely scattered
or destroyed the second French column, the third still remained in
order before him; but, cowed by the fate of their comrades, they turned
and retired hastily from the field, though they should by themselves
have been more than enough to overwhelm the exhausted band of English.

In this astonishing victory, Henry's small army had slain a much larger
number of men than they mustered in their own ranks. The Constable of
France, Anthony, Duke of Brabant--brother of John of Burgundy--the
Dukes of Bar and Alençon, and a whole crowd of counts and barons, had
fallen; it is said that no less than 10,000 French were slain, of whom
more than 8000 were men of gentle blood. In spite of the massacre of
captives in the midst of the fighting, there were still some prisoners
surviving. They included the young Duke of Orleans--the titular head
of the Armagnac faction--the Duke of Bourbon, the Counts of Eu and
Vendôme, and 1500 knights and nobles more. The English in this terrible
fight had lost less than 200 men, but among them were two great peers,
the Duke of York--the Edward of Rutland of whom we read in 1399--and
the Earl of Suffolk.

[Sidenote: =Henry returns to England.=]

Henry retraced his way to Calais, and crossed to England with his
prisoners and his booty, there to be received with splendid festivities
by his people, who regarded the glory of Agincourt as a sufficient
compensation for the losses of a costly campaign which had added
nothing save the single town of Harfleur to the possessions of the
English crown. The ransoms of a host of noble captives were relied upon
to replenish the exchequer, and the fearful losses of the Armagnac
party, who saw half their leaders slain at Agincourt, would evidently
weaken the strength of France in the remainder of the war.

[Sidenote: =End of the Great Schism.--Council of Constance.=]

Henry did not cross the Channel again in the year 1416, which he spent
partly in negotiations with the Duke of Burgundy, whose help he wished
to secure against the Armagnacs, partly in treating with the Emperor
Sigismund about the common welfare of Christendom. Sigismund was
hard at work endeavouring to put an end to the "Great Schism," the
scandalous breach in the unity of the Church caused by the misconduct
of the rival Popes at Rome and Avignon. He visited England, and
won Henry's aid for his plans, which brought about the reunion of
Christendom at the Council of Constance--a reunion under evil auspices,
since it was marked by the burning of the great Bohemian teacher
John Huss, who had made the doctrines of Wicliffe popular among his
Slavonic countrymen in the far East. Moreover, it restored the unity
of Christendom, but did not reform either the papacy or the national
Churches. As this was not done, the general outbreak of religious
ferment was made inevitable in a later generation; after the failure
at Constance to reform the Church from within, it became necessary to
reform her from without.

[Sidenote: =Second invasion of France.--Conquest of Normandy.=]

Having come to an agreement with the Duke of Burgundy, and obtained
from him a promise of neutrality, Henry invaded France for the second
time in the summer of 1417. He took with him an army of somewhat over
16,000 men, landed in Normandy, and began to reduce one after another
all the fortresses of that province. Utterly humbled by the memory of
Agincourt, the Armagnacs made no attempt to meet him in the open field.
Some of the Norman towns held out gallantly enough, but they got no aid
from without. At the end of a year the whole duchy, save its capital,
the city of Rouen, was in English hands. Henry then assumed the state
of Duke of Normandy, and put the whole land under orderly government, a
boon it had not enjoyed for twenty years. He gave Norman baronies and
earldoms to many of his English followers, and handed over the control
of the cities to burghers of the Burgundian faction, who served the
English readily enough, out of their hatred for the Armagnacs. For
thirty years Normandy was to remain English. Rouen was added to the
rest of the duchy after a long siege of six months, in which half the
population perished by hunger. Irritated by this long resistance, Henry
imposed on it the harsh terms of a ransom of 300,000 crowns, and hung
Alain Blanchart, the citizen who had been the soul of the obstinate
defence (January, 1419).

While the conquest of Normandy was in progress, the French factions had
been more bitterly at strife than ever. In 1418 the Burgundian party in
Paris rose against their rivals, and massacred every man on whom they
could lay hands, including Bernard of Armagnac himself. The control
of the party of the feudal noblesse then passed into the hands of the
young dauphin Charles, the heir of France.

[Sidenote: =Murder of the Duke of Burgundy.=]

The fall of Rouen, however, frightened John of Burgundy, and unwilling
that France should fall wholly into the power of his ally King Henry,
he made proposals for a reconciliation with the Dauphin and his
Armagnac followers. The treacherous young prince accepted the overtures
with apparent cordiality, and invited Duke John to meet him on the
bridge of Montereau to settle terms of peace. But when Burgundy came to
the conference, he was deliberately slain by the Armagnac captains, in
the presence and with the consent of the Dauphin (August, 1419).

[Sidenote: =Treaty of Troyes.=]

The murder of Montereau was destined to make Henry master of France.
When Philip of Burgundy, the son of Duke John, heard of his father's
death, he vowed unending war against the Dauphin and his faction,
and took the field to help the English to complete the conquest of
France. Nor was Philip of Burgundy the only helper that Henry secured:
the Queen of France, Isabella of Bavaria, bitterly hated her son
the Dauphin, and was glad to do him an evil turn. She proposed that
Charles should be disinherited, and that the crown should pass with
her favourite daughter Catherine to the hands of the English king.
So at Troyes, in Champagne, Henry, Philip of Burgundy, and Queen
Isabella concluded a formal treaty by which Henry received Catherine
to wife, and was to succeed to the French throne on the death of his
father-in-law, the old King Charles VI., who still lingered on in
complete imbecility (June 2, 1420).

[Sidenote: =Henry master of Northern France.=]

The treaty of Troyes put Paris and the greater part of Northern France
into Henry's hands. Casting national feeling aside in their bitter
partisan spirit, the Burgundian faction everywhere accepted the King
of England as the lawful regent and governor of France. South of the
Loire the Dauphin and his Armagnac friends still held their own, but
north of it they only possessed scattered fortresses dotted about in
Picardy, the Isle-de-France, and Champagne, from Boulogne in the north
to Orleans in the south.

After taking formal possession of Paris and holding a great meeting of
the Estates of the French realm at Rouen, Henry returned in triumph
to England with his young wife. He had reached a pitch of success in
war such as no English king had ever attained before, and the nation,
blinded by the personal merits of its king and gorged with the plunder
of France, forgave him all his faults. The waste of life and money,
the never-ending persecution of the Lollards, the precarious tenure of
the conquests in France--due, in sober truth, merely to the aid of the
Burgundian faction--were all forgotten.

[Sidenote: =Defeat of the English at Beaugé.=]

Henry had not long been in England, when bad news crossed the Channel
after him. He had left his brother Thomas, Duke of Clarence, with a
small army, to hold Maine against the Dauphin's adherents. But the
Armagnac bands had lately been strengthened by succours from Scotland,
under the Earl of Buchan, the son of the regent Albany. For, although
the King of Scots had been a prisoner in English hands for ten years
and more, his subjects and his uncle the regent were not thereby
constrained to keep the peace with England. Pushing forward rashly
to attack the Scots and Armagnacs, Clarence was routed and slain at
Beaugé (1421). The enemy at once overran Maine, and began to infest the
borders of Normandy.

[Sidenote: =Henry's third expedition.=]

This compelled the king to cross once more over the sea in order to
repair his brother's disastrous defeat. In a campaign extending from
the summer of 1421 to that of the following year, he cleared the
Dauphin's army out of their foothold north of the Loire, and then
proceeded to starve out one by one their isolated strongholds in the
north of France, the chief of which were Dreux and Meaux.

[Sidenote: =Siege of Meaux.--Death of Henry.=]

It was during the siege of Meaux, which continued all the winter of
1421 and spring of 1422, that Henry's health began to give dangerous
signs of breaking up. He had been campaigning from his boyhood, and
had never hitherto shown any weakness of constitution. But the winter
colds of 1421-2, or the camp-fever bred in the trenches during the
long siege of Meaux, had brought him very low. He was carried back
toward Paris in a desperate state of weakness from ague and dysentery.
Soon after, to the horror and dismay of the English and their French
partisans, he died at the castle of Vincennes on August 31, 1422,
before he had attained his thirty-fifth year.




England had never yet had a sovereign of such tender age as the infant
king who succeeded to the heritage of Henry V. It was under the rule
of a child of less than twelve months old that the long and wearisome
French war had to be continued. Yet at first the prospects of the reign
did not look very dark. The struggle in France was not going ill, and
seldom has any orphan had so zealous and capable a guardian by his
cradle as John of Bedford, the little king's eldest uncle. He had,
moreover, no domestic intrigues to fear; Edmund, Earl of March, the
legitimate heir of Richard II., was the most unenterprising and loyal
of men, and never gave any trouble.

[Sidenote: =The Regency.=]

On his death-bed Henry V. had not appointed his eldest and most capable
brother, John of Bedford, to be the regent in England, as might have
been expected. His ruling passion was strong in death, and he thought
above all things of the maintenance of the English ascendency in
France. Therefore he named Duke John to take charge of the government
of that country. As Regent of England he designated his younger brother
Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, a man of far less worth and weight.
The Parliament, however, held that the king could not dispose of the
regency by will; and though they named Gloucester Protector, placed
many limitations on his power. Unfortunately, they could not remedy his
reckless and flighty disposition.

[Sidenote: =James I. of Scotland released.=]

During the whole of the long minority of Henry VI. the varying fortunes
of the French war were almost the only topic that stirred the interest
of the nation. The internal history of England is well-nigh a blank;
no period since the Conquest is left so bare by the chroniclers, who
seem to have no eyes or ears for anything save the fate of our armies
across the Channel. The quarrels of Duke Humphrey with his colleagues
in the regency are the only other topic on which they touch. The
council carried out the policy of the late king, so far as any body
of statesmen of average ability can continue the work of a single
man of high military and political genius. They strained every nerve
to keep up the war in France, and subordinated every other end to
that purpose. Their wisest act was the release of the young King of
Scots, after seventeen years of captivity. Seeing that his kinsman
Albany was helping the French, they set James I. free, and sent him
home. He married, ere he departed, Joan Beaufort, daughter of the
Earl of Somerset, and granddaughter of John of Gaunt, a lady for whom
he had formed a romantic attachment in the days of his captivity. By
her influence it was hoped that he would be kept firm in the English
alliance. In some degree this hope was fulfilled: James promptly slew
his cousins of Albany, and devoted himself to pacifying and bringing
back into order the country from which he had been so long exiled.

[Sidenote: =Death of Charles VI.--Henry proclaimed King of France.=]

We must now turn to the aspect of affairs beyond the Channel, the
subject which seemed all-important to the English nation at this
time. The old mad King of France had died only two months after his
son-in-law, Henry V. (October, 1422). Bedford had, therefore, to
proclaim his little nephew as king at Paris, and to rule in his name,
no longer in that of the unhappy Charles VI. The Dauphin also assumed
the title of King of France, and was acknowledged as monarch in all
the lands south of the Loire. But he was an indolent and apathetic
young man, governed entirely by his favourites, and wholly unskilled in
and averse to military enterprises. He did so little for himself, and
seemed so contented with his unsatisfactory position, that men called
him in scorn "the King of Bourges"--his residence for the time--rather
than the King of France.

There still appeared to be some chance that the English might maintain
themselves in possession of Northern France. But this hope rested
entirely on the firm and continued fidelity of the Burgundian party
to their English allies. It was only by their help that success could
be won, for ten or fifteen thousand English scattered from Calais to
Bordeaux could not hold down a hostile France. For some time the Duke
of Burgundy aided Bedford, and the Burgundian citizens in each town
maintained their loyalty to King Henry.

[Sidenote: =Victories of Bedford.=]

Bedford's regency commenced with two victories, at Cravant (July, 1423)
and Verneuil (August, 1424), which so tamed the Dauphin's partisans
that the English were able to work slowly west and south, subduing the
land. More would have been done, but for a sudden risk of a breach with
Burgundy, caused by the reckless selfishness of the Duke of Gloucester.

[Sidenote: =Gloucester's expedition to Hainault.=]

Tired of long bickerings with his uncle, Bishop Beaufort of Winchester,
and the other members of the council of regency, Humphrey had resolved
to go off on an enterprise of his own. There was at this moment a
distressed princess in the Netherlands, Jacquelaine, Duchess of Holland
and Countess of Hainault. She had married Philip of Burgundy's cousin,
the Duke of Brabant, a stupid debauchee who treated her very ill.
Escaping from his court, she fled to London, and offered herself and
her lands to Duke Humphrey, if he would take her under his protection.
Of course, a divorce from her husband had first to be procured; but
the pope refused to grant it. In spite of this trifling difficulty,
Gloucester performed a ceremony of marriage with Jacquelaine, though
both of them were well aware that it was a rank case of bigamy. They
then crossed to the continent to take possession of her dominions,
which were held by her husband, John of Brabant. This, of course,
meant war; and not only war with Brabant, but with Burgundy also, for
Duke Philip was the close ally of Duke John, and had no wish to see
Gloucester established in his neighbourhood as ruler of Hainault and

[Sidenote: =Threatened breach with Burgundy.=]

Both Bedford and the English council of regency completely disavowed
Gloucester's doings, but it was hard to persuade Burgundy that
England had not determined to break with him. If Gloucester had been
successful, there is no doubt that Burgundy would have joined the
French and driven the English out of France. But fortunately for
Bedford, his brother proved singularly unlucky in Hainault. Seeing
himself outnumbered and surrounded by the Brabanters and Burgundians,
Humphrey left his quasi-wife in the lurch, and fled back to England.
The bigamous duchess fell into the hands of her enemies, and was placed
in confinement. Gloucester took the news with equanimity, and consoled
himself by marrying Eleanor Cobham, a lady of damaged reputation, whom
he had known long before.

[Sidenote: =Siege of Orleans.=]

Owing to Gloucester's failure in Hainault, the breach between England
and Burgundy did not widen into open disruption, but Duke Philip never
again supported his allies with such vigour as in the earlier days of
the war. It was not till 1428 that the English felt strong enough to
make a fresh advance against the lands beyond the Loire. In that year
the regent Bedford succeeded in equipping a small field army of five
or six thousand men--half English, half French partisans of England.
Placing them under Thomas Montacute, Earl of Salisbury, one of the best
captains who had served Henry V., he sent them southward. Salisbury at
first aimed at taking Angers, but turned aside to besiege Orleans, the
key of the central valley of the Loire, and the one place of importance
beyond that river which the French still held. On the 7th of October,
1428, he took post in front of it, and built strong redoubts facing
each of its gates, for he had not a large enough army to surround so
great a city. Thus Orleans was blockaded rather than besieged, since it
was always possible for the French to get in or out in small parties
between the fortified positions of the English.

[Sidenote: =Jeanne d'Arc.=]

Orleans held out long and stubbornly, and while its siege still
dragged on, a new factor was suddenly introduced into the struggle.
The widespread misery and devastation caused by thirteen years of
uninterrupted war had moved the hearts of the French to despair; the
people lay inert and passive, hating the English, but caring little for
the despicable Charles and his Armagnac court at Bourges. It was left
for a simple peasant girl to turn this apathy into energy, and to send
forth the whole people of France on a wild crusade against the invader.

Jeanne d'Arc was the daughter of a villager of Domrémy, on the borders
of Champagne. She was from her youth a girl of a mystic, visionary
piety, who believed herself to be visited by dreams and visions from
on high, which guided her in all the actions of her life. At the age
of eighteen her "voices," as she called them, began to give her the
strange command to go forth and deliver France from the English, whose
arrogance and cruelty had moved the wrath of Heaven. Jeanne doubted
the meaning of these hard sayings, but in repeated visions she thought
that she saw St. Michael and St. Catherine appear to her, and bid her
go to the Dauphin Charles and cause him to place her at the head of
his armies. She resolved to obey their behests, and betook herself
to Chinon, where she presented herself before the prince. Charles at
first treated her slightingly, and his courtiers and captains laughed
her to scorn. But she vehemently insisted on the importance of her
mission, and at last made some impression on the Dauphin's weak and
wavering mind. Apparently she revealed to him a secret known to himself
alone, by some sort of clairvoyance. Charles resolved to give her
mission a trial, and his captains agreed that perchance the company of
an inspired prophetess might put heart into their dispirited troops.
Jeanne's "voices" bade her clothe herself in knightly armour, display
a white banner before her, and ride at the head of the Dauphin's men
to the relief of Orleans. They promised her complete success in the
enterprise, and prophesied that she should lead the prince in triumph
to Rheims, and there crown him King of France.

[Sidenote: =Jeanne enters Orleans.--The siege raised.=]

In April, 1429, Jeanne entered Orleans with a convoy of food and a
small troop of men-at-arms. The townsmen needed her encouragement,
but their English foes outside were also in evil case. The task was
too great for the little army of the besiegers, who had already lost
many men, and had seen their leader, Thomas of Salisbury, slain by a
cannon-shot as he was reconnoitering the walls. The Earl of Suffolk,
who succeeded him, still held his ring of fortified posts round the
city, on both sides of the Loire, but was quite unable to prevent
food and reinforcements from entering it. Nevertheless the men of
Orleans sorely needed the aid that Jeanne brought; for the Dauphin
seemed to have abandoned them, and they had begun to despair. The
success of Jeanne's mission was settled from the moment when the
burghers of Orleans hailed her as a deliverer, and placed themselves
at her disposal. If they had doubted and sneered, like the Dauphin's
courtiers at Chinon, she could have done nothing. But the moment that
she was within the walls, she bade the garrison arm and sally forth
to attack the English redoubts that ringed them in. Her first effort
was crowned with success; a sudden assault carried the nearest fort
before succour could reach it from Suffolk's camp. The men of Orleans
cried that Jeanne was indeed a prophetess and a deliverer sent by God,
and henceforth followed her with a blind devotion which nothing could
turn back or repel. It was in vain that the mercenary captains of the
Dauphin's host endeavoured to moderate the reckless vigour of Jeanne's
movements. After her first success she bade the garrison go on and
conquer, and on four continuous days of fighting led them against the
entrenchments of the English. One after another they fell, for the
French were now fighting with a force and fury which nothing could
resist. "Before that day," says the chronicler, "two hundred English
would drive five hundred French before them. But now two hundred French
would beat and chase four hundred English." The invaders came to dread
the approach of Jeanne's white standard with a superstitious fear;
they declared that she was a witch, and that the powers of hell fought
behind her. At last Suffolk was fain to burn his camp, and to withdraw
northwards with the remnant of his host.

But the disasters of the English were not yet ended. Jeanne had no
intention of allowing them to remain unmolested; the troops who had
already fought under her were ready to follow her anywhere, and the
peasants and burghers all over France were beginning to take up arms,
"now that the Lord had shown himself on the side of the Dauphin." With
a host largely increased by fresh levies, Jeanne went to seek the
English, and caught them up at Patay. There she charged them suddenly,
"before the archers had even time to fix their stakes," and destroyed
almost the whole force, taking captive Lord Talbot, its commander.

[Sidenote: =The Dauphin crowned at Rheims.=]

Jeanne now bade the Dauphin come forth from his seclusion and follow
her to Rheims, the old crowning-place of the French kings. He obeyed,
and brought a great host with him. At the approach of "the Maid
of Orleans," as Jeanne was now styled, fortress after fortress in
Champagne yielded. The regent Bedford was too weak in men to quit
Paris, and so Jeanne was able to fulfil her promise by leading Charles
to Rheims and there witnessing his coronation (July 17, 1429).

She then declared that her mission was ended, and asked to be allowed
to return home to her father's house. But Charles would not suffer it,
because of the enormous advantage that her presence gave to the French
arms. She then bade him strike at Paris, the heart of the English
possessions in France. For the first time in her career she failed;
the Burgundian citizens manned their walls too well, and served their
faction rather than their country. Jeanne was wounded in a fruitless
assault on the city, and had to withdraw. But her campaign was not
fruitless; Soissons, Laon, Beauvais, Senlis, Compiègne, Troyes, and
well-nigh the whole of Isle-de-France and Champagne, were recovered
from the English. The land which Bedford ruled as regent was now
reduced to a triangular patch, with the sea as its base and Paris as
its apex, and included little more than Normandy, Picardy, and Maine.

[Sidenote: =Successes and capture of Jeanne.=]

In spite of her failure at Paris, the prestige of the Maid of Orleans
was still unbroken; she went on winning place after place for King
Charles, though he supported her very grudgingly, and left her to
depend on the enthusiasm of the people rather than the royal arm. But
her career came suddenly to an end; while endeavouring to relieve
Compiègne, then besieged by a Burgundian army, she was unhorsed in a
skirmish, and fell into the hands of the enemy. Philip of Burgundy
would not slay the maid himself, but he meanly sold her for ten
thousand crowns to the English, though he knew that Bedford regarded
her as a witch, and was resolved to punish her as such.

[Sidenote: =Jeanne burnt.=]

The cruel tragedy which followed will always leave a deep stain on the
character of the regent, who in all other matters showed himself a just
and righteous man. Jeanne was kept for many months in prison, subjected
to cruel and ribald treatment, and examined again and again by bigoted
ecclesiastics who were determined to prove her a witch. She constantly
withstood them with a firm piety which moved their wrath, maintaining
that her visions and voices were from God, and that all her acts had
been done with His aid. After much quibbling, cross-examination, and
persecution, a tribunal of French clergy, headed by the Bishop of
Beauvais, pronounced her a sorceress and heretic, and handed her over
to the secular arm for execution; the English, therefore, burnt her
alive in the market-place of Rouen (May, 1431). Her callous master,
Charles VII., made no attempt to save her, and seems to have viewed her
fate with complete indifference.

[Sidenote: =Weakness of the English.=]

Though Jeanne had met a martyr's death, her cause continued to prosper.
The spell of the invincibility of the English had been broken, and with
their inferior numbers they could no longer resist the French assaults,
in which nobles, burghers, and peasants now all united with a single
heart. It was in vain that Bedford brought over the little ten-year-old
Henry VI. from England, and crowned him at Paris (1431). The ceremony
was attended by hardly a single Frenchman; even the Burgundian faction
in the capital were beginning to doubt and draw apart from their old

[Sidenote: =Dissensions in the Regency.=]

Meanwhile in England the continued ill-success of the war was leading
to the growth of a peace party, at whose head was Henry Beaufort, the
Bishop of Winchester, who had lately become a cardinal. That Beaufort
supported any scheme was a sufficient reason for Gloucester to oppose
it, and Humphrey made himself the mouthpiece of those who pleaded for
perpetual war. The cardinal and the duke quarrelled in and out of
Parliament, their followers were always brawling, and the action of the
council of regency grew weak and divided.

[Sidenote: =Peace proposals.--Burgundy joins the French.=]

At last Beaufort prevailed on the council to submit proposals for
peace to the French court. At Arras the ambassadors of Henry VI.,
Charles VII., and Philip of Burgundy met, and strove to come to terms
(1435). But the English still insisted on claiming the pompous style
of King of France for their young master, and on retaining Paris and
all the North for him. The French were only ready to grant Normandy
and Guienne, and insisted on the renunciation of Henry's French title.
It cannot be doubted that these terms were quite reasonable, but they
were rejected, with the most disastrous results. Philip of Burgundy
was now tired of the struggle, and thought that he had sufficiently
revenged his father's murder by fifteen years of war with the murderer.
On the ground that the English had rejected fair conditions of peace,
he broke off his alliance with them, and made terms with Charles of
France. He got Picardy and the counties of Macon and Auxerre as the
price of his change of alliance.

[Sidenote: =Death of Bedford.--Fall of Paris.=]

Just as the Congress of Arras was breaking up, John of Bedford died,
worn out before his time by his fourteen years of toilsome government
in France. The breach with the Duke of Burgundy and the death of
Bedford had the results that might have been expected. With one common
accord the last French partisans of England threw off their allegiance
to Henry VI. Paris itself opened its gates to the troops of Charles
VII., and the English had soon to stand on the defensive in Normandy
and Maine, their last foothold in Northern France (1437).

[Sidenote: =Struggle for Normandy.--Richard, Duke of York.=]

Nothing is more astonishing than the obstinate way in which the English
government clung to the last remnants of the conquests of Henry V. By
desperate and unremitting exertions the war was kept up in Normandy
for no less than twelve years after Paris fell (1437-49). The heroes
of this struggle were the veteran Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, and the
young Richard, Duke of York, who had just begun to come to the front.
This prince was the son of that Richard Earl of Cambridge, who had
paid with his life for his attempt to overturn Henry V. He was Duke of
York as successor to his uncle Edmund, who fell at Agincourt, and Earl
of March in right of his mother, the sister of the childless Edmund
Mortimer, the last male of his house. York was governor in Normandy
during the most important years of the struggle for the retention of
the duchy, and gained much credit for repeatedly driving back the
invasions which the French launched against it. He grew intoxicated
with success, and made himself a prominent supporter of the unwise
war-policy which Humphrey of Gloucester continued to advocate.

[Sidenote: =Treaty of Tours.--Marriage of Henry.=]

Meanwhile Cardinal Beaufort and the party which opposed Duke
Humphrey--its chief members were Beaufort's nephews John and Edmund,
successively Earls of Somerset, and William de la Pole, Earl of
Suffolk--were always watching for an opportunity of concluding a
peace with France. Whenever they took negotiations in hand they were
denounced by Gloucester as the hirelings of Charles VII., but they
persisted in their purpose. In 1444 they thought that they had
achieved it, for the French king, wearied by constant repulses in
Normandy, consented to make a truce for two years, and to treat for
a definite peace. He signed the compact at Tours, and ratified it
by giving the hand of his kinswoman Margaret of Anjou to the young
king Henry VI.; in consideration of the treaty, the English were to
surrender Maine and its fortresses, while retaining Normandy entire.

[Sidenote: =Indignation in England.=]

Gloucester and Richard of York saluted this wise marriage and treaty
with loud cries of wrath. They said that the Earl of Suffolk, who
negotiated it, must have been sold to France, and spoke of the
surrender of the fortresses of Maine as treason to the English crown.
The greater part of the nation believed them to be right, for Humphrey
and Richard were both popular with the masses, and it soon became a
matter of faith that the Beauforts and Suffolk had betrayed their young

[Sidenote: =Feebleness of Henry.=]

A strong king might have crushed this unwise opposition to peace. But
Henry VI., who had now reached his majority, was anything but a strong
king. He was frail and feeble both in body and mind, a simple soul much
given to exercises of piety and to quiet study. He always sought some
stronger arm on which to lean, and when he had chosen his friends,
wisely or unwisely, he clung to them with the obstinacy that so often
accompanies weakness. Worst of all, he had inherited a taint of madness
from his grandfather, the insane Charles VI. of France, and from time
to time his brain was clouded by fits of apathetic melancholy. Henry
had learnt to trust his great-uncle Cardinal Beaufort and his minister
Suffolk; he would never listen to any accusation against them. His
views were shared by the fiery young queen, who soon began to rule him
by dint of her stronger will.

[Sidenote: =Death of the Duke of Gloucester and Cardinal Beaufort.=]

The truce of Tours lasted for some three years. During this space the
factions in England grew fiercer than ever, and in 1447 came to a head.
At a Parliament at Bury St. Edmunds, Gloucester was suddenly arrested
by order of Suffolk and the queen, and charged with treason. He died
within a few days, probably from an apoplectic seizure, and not from
any foul play. But it was natural that the rumour should get abroad
that Suffolk had secretly murdered him.

Gloucester was only outlived for a few weeks by his lifelong rival,
the old Cardinal Beaufort. Their deaths cleared the way for the rise
of new men: the Cardinal's place at the head of the peace party was
taken by Suffolk and Edmund Beaufort, Duke of Somerset, men of far
lower stamp than the old churchman, who, though proud and worldly,
had always done his best to serve England. Suffolk and Somerset were
busy, self-important, self-seeking men, and coveted power and office
for their own private ends. The Duke of York, who succeeded to Duke
Humphrey's position, was a far more capable man, but he was committed
to the hopelessly unpractical programme of perpetual war with France.
His position, too, was rendered difficult by the fact that Duke
Humphrey's death had made him next heir to the throne after the feeble
young king, for there was now no other male of the house of Lancaster
surviving. The queen, Suffolk, and Somerset began to look on him with
suspicion, and he had to walk warily lest charges of treason should be
brought against him, as they had been against his cousin of Gloucester.
Meanwhile he was fain to accept the position of Lord Deputy of Ireland,
which kept him out of harm's way.

[Sidenote: =Renewal of the war.=]

In 1449 the truce with France which had accompanied the king's marriage
was broken, by the gross fault of his minister Suffolk. Some of the
Norman garrisons were left so long unpaid that they broke into mutiny,
crossed the border, and sacked the rich Breton town of Fougéres.
Failing to get satisfaction from Suffolk for this outrage, Charles VII.
declared war. Normandy was now in the charge of Somerset, a man of very
different calibre from Richard of York, who had held it against such
odds in the days before the truce of Tours. The French, on invading
the duchy, swept the English before them with an ease that astonished
even themselves. The peasants and townsfolk rose against their masters
on every side, and gave the invaders their best help. Town after town
fell; Rouen, the capital of the duchy, was betrayed by traitors within
the gates; and the unhappy Somerset had to fall back on Caen. That
town, with Cherbourg and Harfleur, was soon all that remained to the
English on Norman soil.

[Sidenote: =Battle of Formigny.=]

This terrible news stirred up great wrath and indignation in England
against Suffolk and Somerset. An army was hastily got ready at
Portsmouth, and sent over to Cherbourg, with orders to join Somerset
at Caen. But the French threw themselves between, and forced the army
of succour to give them battle at Formigny. At this disastrous fight
well-nigh the whole English force was destroyed, overwhelmed by an
attack from the rear at a moment when it was already engaged with a
superior French army in front. Only its general, Sir Thomas Kyriel,
and 400 men were granted quarter, while no less than 3000 were slain
(April, 1450).

[Sidenote: =Loss of Normandy.=]

This disaster settled the fate of Normandy. Somerset was compelled to
surrender Caen, and returned, covered with ignominy, to England. The
other garrisons yielded one after another, and nothing remained of all
the mighty conquests of Henry V. in Northern France.

[Sidenote: =The Commons attack the Earl of Suffolk.--His death.=]

Even before Formigny had been fought, or Caen had fallen, grave
troubles had broken out in England. Suffolk had always been unpopular
ever since he gave up Maine and signed the truce of Tours. The news
of the loss of Rouen, and the other Norman towns, sufficed to ruin
him. In spite of the king's continued assurance of his confidence in
his minister, the House of Commons began to send up petitions against
Suffolk, accusing him not only of losing Maine and Normandy, but of
having sold himself for bribes to the King of France. Seditious riots
in Kent and London gave point to the Commons' accusation. Cowed by
such signs of danger, the feeble king removed Suffolk from office.
The Commons then formally passed a bill of attainder against him for
treasonable misconduct of the king's affairs during the last five
years. But Henry would not allow his trusted servant to be harmed,
gave him a formal pardon, and bade him go beyond seas till the trouble
should blow over. Suffolk sailed for Calais, but in the Dover Straits
his vessel was beset and captured by some London ships, which had been
lying in wait for him. He was caught and beheaded after a mock trial,
and his body was cast ashore on Dover Sands. The guilty parties in this
extraordinary crime were never traced or convicted.

[Sidenote: =Cade's rebellion.=]

But the death of Suffolk did not imply the removal of Suffolk's
friends from office. The king kept his ministry unchanged, a piece
of obstinacy which provoked a fresh burst of popular indignation. In
June, 1450, occurred the great political insurrection known as "Jack
Cade's Rebellion." John Aylmer or Cade was a soldier of fortune, who
had served under the Duke of York in France and Ireland. He gave out
that he was akin to the house of Mortimer, and that he was acting by
the consent of his cousin, Duke Richard. His programme was the removal
and punishment of the king's ministers, and the restoration of strong
government and even-handed justice. His rising, in short, was political
in its objects, and did not aim at redressing social evils only, like
that of Wat Tyler. Possibly, Richard of York may have had some hand in
the business, but we have no actual proof that he had egged Cade on.

All Kent and Sussex rose to join Cade, who advanced to Blackheath, and
boldly sent in his demands to the king. Many of the Londoners favoured
him, and the gates of the city opened at his approach. For a moment
he was in possession of the capital. Smiting London Stone with his
drawn sword, he cried, "Now is Mortimer Lord of London." He exercised
his lordship by seizing and beheading Lord Say, the treasurer, and
Crowmere, Sheriff of Kent, two friends of Suffolk. He would have done
the same with others of the king's servants if he could have caught
them. But this violence and the plundering of houses and shops by his
disorderly followers provoked the citizens, who closed the gates and
came to blows with the rebels. The king brought up armed retainers
to help the Londoners, and after a space Cade's men dispersed on the
promise of a royal pardon. Their leader, however, refused to take
advantage of the amnesty, fled to the woods, and was tracked down and
slain a few weeks later. His rising had failed mainly because he was a
mere adventurer, and could not keep his followers in order.

[Sidenote: =The Dukes of York and Somerset.=]

But hardly had Cade fallen, when the Duke of York, whose name he had
been using so freely, suddenly came over in person from Ireland to put
himself at the head of the opposition. His first demand was a change
of ministry, and especially the dismissal of Somerset, who had now
returned from Normandy, and had been placed at the head of the king's
council, as if he had come back covered with glory instead of with
dishonour. But Henry and his queen were set on keeping their cousin
of Beaufort in power, and York had for the time to hold back, lest he
should be accused of open treason.

[Sidenote: =Loss of Guienne.--The Duke of York takes up arms.=]

His opportunity of speaking with effect was not long in coming. In
1451 the French attached Guienne, the last province over-sea where the
English banner was still displayed. The loyal Gascons made a stout
defence, but the king and Somerset sent them no aid, and Bordeaux was
finally compelled to surrender. The loss of Guienne added the last
straw to the burden of Somerset's misdeeds. York, aided by several
other peers, took up arms to compel the king to send away his shiftless
minister. Henry called out an army, and faced York in Kent; but both
were unwilling to strike the first blow, and on receiving a promise
that Somerset should be dismissed, and tried before his peers, the duke
sent his men home.

[Sidenote: =Last expedition against France.=]

The king, however, with a want of faith that he rarely displayed,
refused to put Somerset on trial, and retained him as his minister.
He endeavoured to distract the attention of the nation from his
favourite's misdoings, by proposing that a vigorous attempt should
be made to recover Guienne. The Gascons hated the French conqueror,
and had sent secret messages to London offering to rise if assured of
English aid. No one could refuse their appeal, and with the consent
of all parties a new army was enrolled for the recovery of Bordeaux.
It was given to the charge of Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, the last
survivor of the old captains of Henry V. The gallant veteran landed
near Bordeaux with 5000 men, retook the city by the aid of its
citizens, and overran the neighbouring districts. But fortune had
definitely turned against England: in the next year he was slain and
his army cut to pieces at the bloody battle of Castillon (July, 1453).
Bordeaux held out for three months more, but was forced to yield to
starvation before the year was out.

Thus was lost the last remnant of the great inheritance of Eleanor
of Aquitaine, after it had remained just 300 years in the hands of
the Plantagenets (1154-1453). England now retained none of her old
possessions beyond sea save Calais and the Channel Islands, a strange
surviving fragment of the duchy of Normandy.

The house of Lancaster and the English nation had sinned in company
when they embarked so eagerly in 1415 on the wanton invasion of France.
They had already paid for their crime by lavish expenditure of life and
treasure on foreign battle-fields: they were now to incur the worse
penalty of a savage and murderous civil war.




In mediaeval England there was but one way of getting rid of political
grievances which the king refused to redress--the old method of armed
force, the means which we have seen used in the cases of Gaveston, the
Despensers, and the favourites of Richard II. Henry VI. was not idle
and vicious like Edward the Second, nor did he yearn for autocratic
power like the second Richard. He was merely a simple, feeble,
well-intentioned young man, who always required some prop to lean upon,
who chose his servants unwisely, and adhered to them obstinately.

A wise king would have dismissed Somerset after the disasters in
Normandy and Guienne, and taken a more profitable helper in the hard
task of governing England. York was the obvious man to choose; he
was an able general, and the first prince of the blood. But Henry
distrusted York, and Henry's young queen viewed him with keen and
unconcealed dislike. The thought that, if any harm should come to her
husband, Duke Richard must succeed him, filled Margaret of Anjou with
wrath and bitterness.

[Sidenote: =Policy of the Duke of York.=]

There are no signs that York yet entertained any disloyal designs on
the throne, but he undoubtedly knew that, as the heir of the house of
Mortimer, he owned a better hereditary claim to the throne than any
member of the line of Lancaster. He was contented, however, to bide his
time and wait for the succession of the childless king.

Meanwhile he took care to keep his party together, and steadfastly
persevered in his very justifiable desire to evict the incapable
Somerset from office. But it was the misfortune of England that
Somerset was not friendless and unsupported, as Gaveston or the
Despensers had been. He was the chief of a considerable family
combination among the nobility, who were ready to aid him in keeping
his place. There were, too, many others who disapproved of him
personally, but were prepared to support him, some out of sheer loyalty
to King Henry, some because they had old personal or family grudges
against York or York's chief friends and supporters.

[Sidenote: =Power of the nobility.=]

The chief misfortunes of the unhappy time that was now to set in, had
their source in the swollen importance of the great noble houses, and
the bitterness of their feuds with each other. For the last hundred
years the landed wealth of England had been concentrating into fewer
and fewer hands. The House of Lords contained less than a third of the
numbers that it had shown in the days of Edward I. The greater peers
had piled up such vast masses of estates that they were growing to be
each a little king in his own district. The weak government of Henry
VI. had allowed their insolence to come to a head, and for the last
twenty years private wars between them had been growing more and more
frequent. They found the tools of their turbulence in the hordes of
disbanded soldiers sent home from France, who knew no other trade but
fighting, and would sell themselves to be the household bullies of the
highest bidder.

[Sidenote: =The rival factions.--The Yorkists.=]

England was already honeycombed with family feuds, now ready to burst
out into open violence. If we examine the lists of the supporters of
York and of Somerset, we find that to a very large extent the politics
of the English magnates were personal, and not national. With York
were linked a great group of peers who were allied to him by blood.
The chief of them were the younger branch of the Nevilles, represented
by the two Earls of Salisbury and Warwick, a father and son who had
each made his fortune by marrying the heiress of a great earldom. The
Nevilles of the elder line, represented by the head of the house,
the Earl of Westmoreland, had always been at feud with their cousins
of the younger stock, and, since they were strong Lancastrians, the
younger branch would probably have favoured York in any case. But their
adhesion to him was rendered certain by the fact that Duke Richard had
married Salisbury's sister. Another sister of the earl's was wedded to
the next greatest supporter of York, John Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk. He
was a nephew of that Mowbray whom Henry IV. had beheaded in 1405, in
company with Archbishop Scrope, and so had his private grudge against
the house of Lancaster. Among the other chiefs of the Yorkist party we
can trace in almost every instance an old feud or a family alliance
which seems to have determined their policy.

[Sidenote: =The Lancastrians.=]

It was the same with the party that stood by the king and Somerset. It
comprised, first of all, the houses which were allied in blood to the
Lancastrian line--the king's cousins the Beauforts, the legitimized
descendants of John of Gaunt, and his half-brothers Edmund and Jasper
Tudor, Earls of Richmond and Pembroke.[27] After them came the Percies
of Northumberland, the Westmoreland Nevilles, and the Staffords of
Buckingham--the three houses which had been prominent in aiding the
usurpation of Henry IV. The Earls of Northumberland and Westmoreland
were certainly confirmed in their loyalty to the king by their bitter
quarrel with their kinsmen, the younger Nevilles, the strongest
supporters of York.

[Sidenote: =Character of the Wars of the Roses.=]

But the "Wars of the Roses,"--as historians have chosen to name them,
from the white rose which was the badge of York, and the red rose which
was assumed long after as the emblem of Lancaster--were much more than
a faction fight between two rival coteries of peers. At the first
they were the attempt of the majority of the English nation to oust
an unpopular minister from power by force of arms. There is no doubt
that the greater part of England sided with York in this endeavour. The
citizens and freeholders of London, Kent, the South, and the Midlands,
where lay all the wealth and political energy of the nation, were
strongly Yorkist. Henry, on the other hand, got his support from a
group of great nobles who controlled the wild West and North, and the
still wilder Wales.

Unfortunately for the nation, the constitutional aspect of the struggle
was gradually obscured by the increasing bitterness of family
blood-feuds. "Thy father slew mine, and now will I slay thee," was the
cry of the Lancastrian noble to the enemy who asked for quarter,[28]
and it expresses well enough the whole aspect of the later years of
the struggle. The war commenced with an attempt to set right by force
the government of the realm, but it ended as a mere series of bloody
reprisals for slain kinsfolk. It left England in a far worse state,
from the political and constitutional point of view, than it had
known since the days of John. It began with the comparatively small
affliction of a weak, well-intentioned king, who persisted in retaining
an unpopular minister in power; it ended by leaving the realm in the
hands of an arbitrary self-willed king, who ruled autocratically for
himself, with no desire or intention of consulting the nation's wishes
as to how it should be governed.

We might place the beginning of the Wars of the Roses at the moment
of Cade's insurrection, but it was not till five years later that the
struggle broke out in its bitterer form.

[Sidenote: =Madness of the king.--Birth of his son.=]

Strangely enough, the commencement of the strife was preceded by a
time in which it seemed almost certain that the troubles of the realm
would blow over. In 1453 the king went mad; the peers and commons
unanimously called upon York, as the first prince of the blood, to
take up the place of Protector of the realm. He did so to the general
satisfaction of the nation, cast Somerset into the Tower, and replaced
the old ministers by more capable men. But just as all seemed settled,
and York's ultimate succession to the crown appeared inevitable, the
whole aspect of affairs was altered by the queen giving birth to a son,
after nine years of unfruitful wedlock. This completely cut away York's
prospect of succession; but he accepted the situation with loyalty,
and swore allegiance to the infant Prince of Wales. But after eighteen
months, Henry VI. suddenly and unexpectedly recovered his sanity. At
once, at Queen Margaret's behest, he dismissed York and his friends
from office, and drew Somerset out of the Tower to make him minister
once more.

[Sidenote: =Outbreak of war.--First battle of St. Albans.=]

This action drove Duke Richard to sudden violence. He hastily gathered
his retainers from the Welsh Marches, called his kinsmen the two
Neville earls to his aid, and marched on London. Somerset and the
king had only the time to collect a few of their friends, when York
came upon them at St. Albans. He laid before the king his ultimatum,
requiring that Somerset should be given up to be tried, and, when
it was rejected, attacked the town, in which the royal troops had
barricaded themselves. After a short skirmish, the young Earl of
Warwick, Richard Neville, burst his way into the streets and won the
day for his uncle Duke Richard. The king was taken prisoner, while
Somerset, the cause of all the trouble, was slain in the fray with
several other lords of his party (May, 1455).

The first battle of St. Albans put the control of the king's person
into the hands of York, who again assumed the management of the realm.
But he only kept it for less than a year; in 1456 the king asserted
his constitutional power of changing his ministers, and turned Duke
Richard's friends out of office. As his foe Somerset was now dead,
York was fairly contented to leave matters in the king's own control.
But after the blood shed at St. Albans, there could be no true
reconciliation between the friends of the king and the friends of York.
The fierce and active young Queen Margaret put herself at the head of
the party which Suffolk and Somerset had formerly led. She feared for
her infant son's right of succession to the throne, and was determined
to crush York to make his path clear. Throughout the years 1457-8,
while a precarious peace was still preserved, Margaret was journeying
up and down the land, enlisting partisans in her cause, and giving
them her son's badge of the white swan to wear, in token of promised

[Sidenote: =Renewal of the war.--Rout of Ludford.=]

The inevitable renewal of the war came in 1459. Its immediate cause was
an attempt by some of the Queen's retainers to slay the young Earl of
Warwick, York's ablest and most energetic supporter. Then Salisbury,
Warwick's father, raised his Yorkshire tenants in arms; the queen
sent against them a force under Lord Audley, whom the elder Neville
defeated and slew at Bloreheath. After this skirmish, all England flew
to arms to aid one party or the other. York, Salisbury, and Warwick met
at Ludlow, on the Welsh border, while the king gathered a great army
at Worcester, taking the field himself, with a vigour which he never
before or afterwards displayed. It seems that York's adherents were
moved by the vehement appeals which King Henry made to their loyalty,
and cowed by the superior forces that he mustered. At the Rout of
Ludford they broke up without fighting, leaving their leaders to escape
as best they might. York fled to Ireland, Salisbury and Warwick to
Calais, of which the younger Neville was governor.

[Sidenote: =Harsh measures of the queen.=]

But surprising and sudden vicissitudes of fortune were the order of the
day all through the Wars of the Roses. The queen and her friends ruled
harshly and unwisely after they had driven York out of the land. They
assembled a Parliament at Coventry, which dealt out hard measures of
attainder and confiscation against all who had favoured Duke Richard.
They sacked the open town of Newbury because it was supposed to favour
York, and hung seven citizens of London of the duke's party. These
cruel actions turned the heart of the nation from the king and the
ruthless Queen Margaret.

Hearing of this state of affairs, Warwick and Salisbury suddenly made a
descent from Calais, landed at Sandwich, and pushed boldly inland. The
whole of Kent rose to join them, and they were able to march on London.
The Yorkist partisans within the city were so strong that they threw
open the gates, and the Nevilles seized the capital. The Londoners
armed in their favour, and the Yorkist lords of the South flocked in
to aid them; soon they were strong enough to strike at their enemies,
whose forces were not yet concentrated. The queen had gathered at
Northampton the loyalists of the Midland counties, but her friends of
the North and West were not yet arrived.

[Sidenote: =Battle of Northampton.=]

Warwick, on July 10, 1460, stormed the entrenched camp of the
Lancastrians in front of Northampton, and took the king prisoner. The
queen escaped to Wales, but the greater part of the chiefs of her army
were left dead on the field, for Warwick had bidden his men to spare
the common folk, and slay none save knights and nobles. There fell the
Duke of Buckingham, the Earl of Shrewsbury, and many other leading men
of the king's party.

The Duke of York had crossed from Ireland too late to take any share
in the fight of Northampton, but in time to reap the fruits of
his nephew's victory. He advanced to London, and there summoned a
Parliament. It then appeared that the vicissitudes of the last year
had so embittered him that he was no longer content to act as regent
for Henry VI. He fell back on his undisputed hereditary claim as the
eldest heir of Richard II., and began to talk of deposing his cousin
and assuming the crown. But his own partisans set their faces against
this plan, for Henry was still personally popular, and all the blame
of his misgovernment was laid on the queen and her friends. The Earl
of Warwick openly told his uncle that he must be content to be regent,
and York had to accept a compromise, by which Henry VI. was to retain
the crown as long as he lived, but to leave it to Duke Richard on his
death. The rights of the little Prince of Wales were ignored, and many
of the Yorkists swore that he was a supposititious child, and no true
son of King Henry.

[Sidenote: =Battle of Wakefield.--Slaughter of Yorkist leaders.=]

But in making this arrangement the duke's party had reckoned without
Queen Margaret, who was still free and busy. She had fled to the North,
and there had gathered to her the Percies, the elder Nevilles, and the
barons of the Border, all staunch Lancastrians. Hearing of this muster,
Duke Richard marched northward, with his second son Edmund, Earl of
Rutland, and his brother-in-law, the Earl of Salisbury. He underrated
the queen's forces, and rashly engaged with them under the walls of
Sandal Castle, close to Wakefield. There, overwhelmed by numbers, he
and his whole army were destroyed. Burning to avenge the slaughter of
Northampton, the Lancastrians refused all quarter. The Earl of Rutland,
a lad of seventeen, fell at the knees of Lord Clifford and asked for
his life. "Thy father slew mine, and now will I slay thee," answered
the rough Borderer, and stabbed him as he knelt. The Earl of Salisbury
was captured and beheaded next day. Queen Margaret set the heads of the
slain lords above the gate of York, Duke Richard's in the midst crowned
in derision with a diadem of paper.

Thus perished Richard of York, a man who had always displayed great
abilities, and down to the last year of his life had shown much
self-control and moderation. His death was a great loss to England,
as the headship of his house and his party now passed to his son, a
selfish and hard-hearted--though very able--young man of eighteen.

[Sidenote: =Second Battle of St. Albans.=]

The event of the battle of Wakefield came as a thunderclap to the
Yorkists, who had hitherto despised the queen and her northern
followers. Edward, Earl of March, Duke Richard's heir, was absent in
the west, where he was striving with the Lancastrians of Wales. Only
Richard of Warwick was in time to reach London before the northern
army approached its walls. He rallied the Yorkists of the South, and
led them to St. Albans, where Queen Margaret attacked him. Again the
Northerners were victorious; they rescued King Henry from his captors,
and scattered Warwick's army to the winds. The rancorous queen made her
little seven-year old son sit in judgment on the prisoners, and bade
him choose the form of death by which they each should die.

[Sidenote: =London saved by Edward of York.=]

If Margaret had pushed on next day, the capital would have fallen into
her hands; but her gentle and kindly spouse feared that the northern
moss-troopers would sack and burn the city, and persuaded her to wait,
in order that London might surrender in due form, and not be taken by
assault. The short delay was fatal to him and his cause. While London
was negotiating the terms on which it should yield, a new Yorkist army
suddenly appeared on the scene.

Not many days before the second battle of St. Albans, the young
Edward of York had routed the Lancastrians of Wales at the battle of
Mortimer's Cross, in Herefordshire. He had then set out to march on
London; on the way he was met by Warwick, who brought the news of his
own defeat, and of the queen's approach to the capital. But, learning
that she had not yet entered its walls, they marched night and day,
and threw themselves into the city just as its gates were opening for

[Sidenote: =Retreat of the queen.=]

The arrival of the heir of York and his victorious troops turned the
fortune of the war. Margaret's army had in great part dispersed to
plunder the Midlands, for the Northerners had vowed to treat every man
south of the Trent as an enemy. When Duke Edward advanced they gave way
before him, and retreated towards York, wasting the country behind them
on all sides.

[Sidenote: =Edward proclaims himself king.=]

The slaughter of Wakefield and St. Albans, and more especially the
ruthless execution of prisoners which had followed each battle, had
driven the Yorkists to a pitch of anger which they had not felt
before. There was no longer any talk of making terms with Henry VI.,
and leaving him the crown. Warwick and the other nobles of his party
besought the young duke to claim the crown, as the true heir of Richard
II., and to stigmatize the three Lancastrian kings as usurpers. Edward
readily consented, and proclaimed himself king at Westminster on
his hereditary title, and without any form of election or assent of

[Sidenote: =Battle of Towton.=]

But the new king had to fight for his crown before he could wear it. He
and Warwick pursued the queen's army over the Trent, and caught it up
at Towton, near Tadcaster, in Yorkshire. Here was fought the greatest
and fiercest of the battles of the Wars of the Roses. Both parties
were present in full force; the South and Midlands had rallied round
Edward IV. in their wrath at the plundering of the Northumbrians. The
Lancastrians of Wales and the Midlands had joined the queen during her
retreat. The chroniclers assert that the two armies together mustered
nearly a hundred thousand men--an impossible figure, but one which
vouches for the fact that Towton saw the largest hosts set against each
other that ever met on an English battle-field.

[Sidenote: =Slaughter of Lancastrian leaders.=]

This desperate and bloody fight was waged on a bleak hillside during
a blinding snow-storm, which half hid the combatants from each other.
It lasted for a whole March day from dawn to dusk, and ended in the
complete rout of the queen's army. Thousands of the Lancastrians were
crushed to death or drowned at the passing of the little river Cock,
which lay behind their line of battle. There fell on the field the Earl
of Northumberland, the Lords Clifford, Neville, Dacre, Welles, and
Mauley--all the chiefs of the Lancastrian party in the north. Courtney,
Earl of Devon, and Butler, Earl of Wilts, were captured, and beheaded
some time after the fight. No less than forty-two men of knightly rank
shared their fate, so savage were King Edward and Warwick in avenging
their fathers and brothers who had died at Wakefield.

Henry VI., with his wife and son, and the young Duke of Somerset,
escaped from the field and fled into Scotland, where they were kindly
received by the regents who ruled that land for the little King James

[Sidenote: =Rule of Edward.--Warwick the King-maker.=]

The carnage in and after Towton assured the crown to the house of
York. Edward IV. was able to return to London and summon a Parliament,
which formally acknowledged him as king, recognizing his hereditary
right, and not going through any form of election. At his command they
attainted the whole of the leaders of the Lancastrian party, both
those who had fallen at Towton, and those who yet lived. Thinking his
position sure, the young king then gave himself over to feasting and
idleness, entrusting the completion of the war and the pacification of
England to his cousin, the Earl of Warwick, whom men from this time
forward called "the King-maker," because he had twice settled the fate
of England, by winning the rule of the land for the house of York, at
Northampton in 1460, and at Towton in 1461.

Edward IV. showed a strange mixture of qualities. On the battle-field
he was a great commander, and in times of danger he was alert and
dexterous. But when no perils were at hand, he became a reckless,
heartless voluptuary, given to all manner of evil living and idle
luxury, and letting affairs shift for themselves. For the first four
years of his reign he handed over all cares of state to his cousin of
Warwick, a busy capable man, who loved work and power, and strove not
unsuccessfully to make himself the most popular man in England. Warwick
called himself the friend of the commons, and used the vast wealth
which he enjoyed as heir of all the broad lands of the Beauchamps,
Nevilles, and Montacutes, to make himself partisans all over the
country. He was self-confident and ambitious in the highest degree,
and thoroughly enjoyed his position of chief minister to an idle and
careless master. When he was at last deprived of it, we shall see that
wounded pride could lead him to intrigue and treason.

[Sidenote: =Last efforts of the Lancastrians.=]

The four years 1461-64 were occupied by the final crushing out of the
civil war by the strong hand of the King-maker. The task proved longer
than might have been expected, owing to the desperate efforts which
Queen Margaret made to maintain her son's cause. After Towton nothing
remained to her but some castles in Northumberland and Wales, but she
bought the aid of the Scots by ceding Berwick, and obtained men and
money from Lewis XI., the young King of France. That astute prince
thought that a weak and divided England was the best security for
the safety of France, and doled out occasional help to the queen in
consideration of a promise to surrender Calais.

Warwick captured all the Northumbrian strongholds of the house of
Percy,--Bamborough, Alnwick, and Dunstanborough--in 1462. But the
North was thoroughly disaffected to the new king, and they were twice
retaken by treachery when the queen, with her French and Scottish
friends, appeared before them. In her third campaign she was aided by
a rising of all the Lancastrians who had submitted to King Edward and
been pardoned by him, headed by the Duke of Somerset, the son of him
who fell at St. Albans. But the two battles of Hedgeley Moor and Hexham
(April-May, 1464) crushed the last desperate effort of the northern
Lancastrians: at the former fell Sir Ralph Percy, the last chief of
the Percy clan who clung to the lost cause; at the second the Duke of
Somerset was taken and executed. Both fights were won by Lord Montagu,
the younger brother and lieutenant of the great Earl of Warwick. By
June, 1464, Warwick himself stamped out the last embers of resistance
by the second capture of Bamborough, the sole surviving Lancastrian
stronghold in England.

The King-maker returned in triumph to London, and could report to his
master that he had completely pacified England, and had also concluded
an advantageous treaty with the Scots. He proposed to finish his work
by making terms with the King of France, the last supporter of the
Lancastrian cause, with whom Margaret and her young son had sought
refuge. For this purpose he advised King Edward to endeavour to ally
himself with some princess among the kinswomen of Lewis XI.

[Sidenote: =Marriage of Edward.=]

It was from this point that the breach between Edward and his great
minister began. When pressed to marry, the king announced--to the great
surprise and annoyance of Warwick and the rest of his council--that he
was married already. He had secretly espoused Elizabeth, daughter of
Richard Woodville, Lord Rivers, a staunch Lancastrian, and widow of Sir
John Grey, another Lancastrian, who had fallen at St. Albans. She was
some years older than Edward, and had a family by her first husband.
But her beauty had captivated the susceptible young king, and he had
married her in secret, in order to avoid the opposition of his family
and his councillors.

[Sidenote: =Breach between Warwick and Edward.=]

When compelled to acknowledge this unwise match, Edward made the best
of the matter, brought his wife to court, conferred an earldom on her
father, and showered patronage upon her brothers and sisters. When
Warwick ventured to remonstrate, he showed that he had no mind to be
ruled any more by his too-powerful cousin, and redoubled his favours to
the Woodvilles. He gave his wife's sisters as brides to the greatest
peers of the realm, and made her father his Lord Treasurer. This was
not pique, but policy, for Edward had come to the conclusion that the
Neville clan was too strong, and had resolved to surround himself by
another family connection which should owe everything to his protection

For a time an open breach between the king and the King-maker was
delayed, and Edward's throne seemed firmly set. His position was
made surer by the capture of the old King Henry VI., who was caught
in Lancashire, where he had been lurking obscurely for some time.
When Edward had placed him in the Tower of London, he thought that
all his troubles were over. He forgot the unhealthy condition of the
realm, the blood-feuds that reigned in every county, and the general
disorganization of society that had resulted from six years of civil
war and from the wholesale transference of lands and property that had
accompanied it. Above all, he overlooked the vast power that had fallen
into the hands of the great military peers, and especially of his
ambitious cousin Warwick.

In 1467 Edward put his strength to the trial by dismissing all the
King-maker's friends from office, and by ignominiously disavowing an
embassy to France on which he had sent his cousin. From sheer desire
to humiliate the great earl, he concluded an alliance with Charles the
Rash, Duke of Burgundy, the deadly enemy of France, because he knew
that Warwick was opposed to such a tie. He gave his sister Margaret to
be the duke's wife, and made Warwick escort her on her embarkation for

[Sidenote: =Conspiracy of Warwick.=]

The earl replied by setting treasonable intrigues on foot. He leagued
himself with the king's younger brother George, Duke of Clarence,
Shakespeare's "false, fleeting, perjured Clarence," a discontented
young man of a very unamiable character. Warwick agreed to give his
eldest daughter, the heiress of his vast estates, to the duke, and they
swore to compel Edward to drive away the Woodvilles, and rule only
under their guidance.

[Sidenote: =Defeat and capture of Edward.=]

Warwick and Clarence were completely successful in their plot. They
secretly suborned a rebellion in Yorkshire, under Sir John Conyers,
one of Warwick's relatives, who was aided by the Neville retainers, as
well as by the discontented Lancastrians of the North. Conyers called
himself "Robin of Redesdale," and gave himself out as the champion of
the poor and the redresser of grievances--much as Cade had done fifteen
years before. He beat the king's army at Edgecote Field, near Banbury,
and then Warwick and Clarence appeared upon the scene and apprehended
Edward at Olney. They beheaded Earl Rivers, the father of all the
Woodvilles, and Herbert, Earl of Pembroke, the king's chief confidant.
After keeping Edward some months in durance, they released him, on his
undertaking to govern according to their desires (1469).

[Sidenote: =Warwick driven from England.=]

But the spirit of Edward always rose in times of trouble; he cast
off his sloth, and plotted against the plotters. Taking advantage of
an ill-planned Lancastrian rising in Lincolnshire, he raised a great
army, and suddenly turned it against his disloyal brother and cousin.
Warwick and Clarence were chased all across England, from Manchester to
Dartmouth, and barely escaped with their lives by taking ship to France.

[Sidenote: =He joins the Lancastrians.=]

Furious at his failure, the King-maker resolved to sacrifice all his
prejudices and predispositions to revenge. He met the exiled Queen
Margaret at Angers, and proposed to her to restore Henry VI. to the
throne, and make an end of the ungrateful Edward. After long doubting,
Margaret resolved to take his offer, though she hated him bitterly,
and never trusted him. To bind the alliance, Edward, Prince of Wales,
the queen's young son, was married to Anne Neville, the earl's second

[Sidenote: =Henry again king.=]

Then Warwick and Margaret joined to foment a rising in England. The
numerous clan of the Nevilles were prepared to follow their chief, and
the surviving Lancastrians were still ready to risk themselves in a
new plan of insurrection. In the autumn of 1470, Warwick and Clarence
landed in Devonshire and raised the standard of the imprisoned Henry
VI. Their success showed the deep roots of the earl's popularity, and
the precarious nature of King Edward's power. Simultaneous risings
broke out all over England, and Edward, betrayed by most of his
supporters, had to take ship and fly to Flanders. Henry VI. was drawn
from his dungeon, and was for a few months again King of England.

[Sidenote: =Return of Edward.--Battle of Barnet.=]

But one more change of fortune was yet to come. Edward IV. borrowed
men and money from his brother-in-law, Charles of Burgundy, and boldly
returned to England in the spring of 1471. He landed in Yorkshire,
called his partisans about him, and marched on London. Edward, when
his mettle was up, was a captain of no mean ability. He completely
out-generalled his enemy, and got between him and the capital. The Duke
of Clarence, who had been entrusted with Warwick's western forces,
betrayed his father-in-law, and joined his brother with the men whom
he should have led to the earl's aid. London and the person of Henry
VI. fell into King Edward's hands. Warwick came up too late, and had
to fight the Yorkists at Barnet, a few miles north of the city. There
he was completely defeated and slain, losing the battle mainly by the
accident of a fog, which caused two divisions of his troops to attack
one another. With Warwick fell his brother Lord Montagu, and most of
the personal adherents on whom his power rested.

[Sidenote: =Battle of Tewkesbury.--End of the war.=]

But Edward was not yet secure. On the very day of Barnet, Queen
Margaret landed at Portsmouth to raise the Lancastrians of the South
in Warwick's aid. Hearing of his fall, she turned westward, gathering
up a considerable force of adherents as she fled. But Edward rapidly
pursued her, and by dint of superior pace in marching, caught her up
at Tewkesbury. The queen's army was intercepted, and penned up with
its back to the Severn, then destitute of a bridge. Unable to fly,
the Lancastrians had to turn, and fought a desperate battle outside
Tewkesbury. But King Edward never suffered a defeat in all his days;
his courage and skill carried all before it, and the queen's army
was annihilated. Her young son Edward, Prince of Wales, was slain in
the pursuit, though he cried for quarter to "his brother Clarence."
The last Duke of Somerset, the Earl of Devon, and all the surviving
Lancastrian magnates fell on the field, or were beheaded next day
by the victor. Queen Margaret was taken prisoner and thrown into

[Sidenote: =Murder of Henry.=]

On the death of Prince Edward, the old king Henry VI. was left the only
survivor of the house of Lancaster. The ruthless heir of York resolved
that he too should die, and on his return to London had the feeble and
saintly prince murdered, by the hands of his young brother Richard,
Duke of Gloucester (1471).

Thus ended the wars of the Roses, in the complete victory of York, and
the extinction of the line of John of Gaunt, after it had sat for three
generations on the English throne.


[27] The sons of Catherine of France, the widow of Henry V., by her
second marriage with a Welsh knight named Owen Tudor.

[28] See p. 251.




[Sidenote: =The Lancastrian line.--Henry, Earl of Richmond.=]

All the males of the house of Lancaster had now fallen by the sword
or the dagger, not only the last representatives of the elder and
legitimate branch which had occupied the throne, but also the whole
family of the Beauforts, the descendants of the natural sons of John
of Gaunt, who had been legitimized by the grant of Richard II. Even in
the female line there remained no one who showed any signs of disputing
the claim of Edward IV. to the throne. The only descendants of John of
Gaunt's first family who survived were the Kings of Spain and Portugal,
who traced themselves back to John's eldest daughter; while the
Beauforts were represented by Lady Margaret Beaufort, daughter of that
Duke of Somerset who had died in 1444, the elder brother of the man who
lost Normandy and fell at St. Albans. The Lady Margaret had married
Edmund Tudor, Earl of Richmond, the half-brother of Henry VI., and by
him had a single child, Henry, now Earl of Richmond by his father's
decease. In Henry the Beaufort line had its last representative, but he
was but a boy of fourteen, and was over-sea in Brittany, whither his
mother had sent him for safety, while she herself had wedded as her
second spouse Lord Stanley, a peer of strong Yorkist proclivities.

[Sidenote: =Secure rule of Edward IV.=]

Neither the distant Spaniards nor the boy Henry of Richmond were
seriously thought of--even by themselves--as claimants to the English
crown, and King Edward might for the rest of his life repose on the
laurels of Tewkesbury and Barnet, and take his ease without troubling
himself about further dynastic troubles.

He reigned for twelve years after his restoration in 1471, and did
little that was noteworthy in that time. His love of ease gradually
sapped all his energy; his life grew more and more extravagant and
irregular, as he sank into all the grosser forms of self-indulgence. He
completely ruined a handsome person and a robust constitution, and by
the age of forty-two had declined into an unwieldy and bloated invalid.

[Sidenote: =Parliament rarely summoned.--Benevolences.=]

Edward's rule was not so bad for England as might have been expected
from his very unamiable character. His second reign was comparatively
free from bloodshed--if we except one dreadful crime committed on the
person of his own brother. Perhaps he deserves little praise on this
score, for both the Lancastrians and the partisans of Warwick had been
practically exterminated by the slaughters of 1471. It is more to his
credit that he bore lightly on the nation in the matter of taxation.
His pockets were full of the plunder of the house of Neville and the
old Lancastrian families, and, though self-indulgent, he was not a
spendthrift. Indeed, he lived within his means, and seldom asked for a
subsidy from Parliament. This moderation, however, does not imply that
he was a constitutional sovereign. He ruled through a small clique of
ministers and personal dependents, mostly members of his wife's family.
He disliked parliamentary control so much that he seldom summoned a
Parliament at all. For one whole period of five years (1478-82), he was
rich enough to be able to refrain from calling one together. When he
did want money, however, he did not shrink from raising it in the most
objectionable manner, by compelling rich men to pay him forced loans,
called "benevolences." It is fair to add that he generally paid his
debts, and only owed £13,000 when he died. On the whole it may be said
that his rule, though selfish and autocratic, was not oppressive. He
gave the land peace in his later years, and any kind of quiet was an
intense relief after the anarchy of the Wars of the Roses.

[Sidenote: =Revival of industry.=]

Commerce and industry began slowly to rally, and the wealth of the
land seems to have suffered less than might have been expected. The
bloodshed and confiscations of the unhappy years between 1455 and 1471
had fallen almost entirely on the nobles and their military retainers,
and the cities and the yeomen had fared comparatively well. England
had never been left desolate like France at the end of the Hundred
Years' War.

[Sidenote: =Treaty of Picquigny.=]

Edward's foreign policy was feeble and uncertain. At first, after
his restoration, he intended to attack France in alliance with his
brother-in-law, Charles the Rash of Burgundy, who had given him shelter
and succour during his day of exile. He raised an army and crossed the
Channel, talking of recovering Normandy, and of asserting his right to
the French crown. But Lewis XI., the wily King of France, offered to
buy him off, proffering him a great sum down and an annual subsidy,
if he would abandon the cause of Duke Charles. Edward was selfish and
ungrateful enough to accept the offer with delight. He met King Lewis
in a formal interview at Picquigny, in Picardy, and bargained to retire
and remain neutral for 75,000 gold crowns paid down, and an annuity
of 50,000 more so long as he lived. He also wrung a second 50,000 out
of Lewis as a ransom for the unfortunate Queen Margaret of Anjou, a
prisoner since the day of Tewkesbury, and stipulated that the Dauphin
was to be married to his eldest daughter, the Princess Elizabeth (1475).

Edward came home with money in his purse, and found that the French
annuity, which was punctually paid him, was most useful in enabling
him to avoid having to call Parliaments. His betrayal of Charles of
Burgundy was deeply resented by that prince, but Edward took no heed,
and the duke was slain not long after, while waging war on the Swiss
and the Duke of Lorraine.

[Sidenote: =Death of the Duke of Clarence.=]

Two years after the treaty of Picquigny occurred a tragedy which
showed that Edward could still on occasion burst out into his old fits
of cruelty. His brother George, Duke of Clarence, had been received
back into his favour after betraying Warwick in 1471, and had been
granted half the King-maker's estates as the portion of his wife,
Isabel Neville. But Clarence presumed on his pardon, and seems to have
thought that all his treachery to his brother in 1468-70 had been
forgotten as well as forgiven. He was always a turbulent, unwise, and
reckless young man, and provoked the king by his insolent sayings and
open disobedience. Edward had twice to interfere with him, once for
illegally seizing, and causing to be executed, a lady whom he accused
of bewitching his wife Isabel, who died in childbirth; a second
time for trying to wed without his brother's leave Mary of Burgundy,
the heiress of Charles the Rash. When Clarence was again detected in
intrigues with a foreign power--this time with Scotland--the king
resolved to make an end of him. Suddenly summoning a Parliament, he
appeared before it, and accused his brother of treason, though he gave
no clear or definite account of Clarence's misdeeds. Awed by Edward's
wrath and vehemence, the two houses passed a bill declaring the duke
convicted of high treason. The king then condemned him, cast him into
the Tower, and there had him secretly slain (1478).

[Sidenote: =Richard, Duke of Gloucester.=]

Edward for the future placed all his confidence in his youngest
brother, Richard, Duke of Gloucester, who had served him faithfully
all his life, had fled with him to Flanders in 1470, and had fought
gallantly at Barnet and Tewkesbury. Gloucester had always been at odds
with Clarence. He had married Anne Neville, the King-maker's younger
daughter, widow of Edward Prince of Wales, who fell at Tewkesbury.
In her right he claimed half the Neville lands, but Clarence had
endeavoured to keep them from him, and had only been compelled to
disgorge them under the king's stringent pressure. After 1478,
Gloucester acted as his brother's chief councillor and representative,
and showed himself a very capable and zealous servant.

[Sidenote: =Scottish war.--Recovery of Berwick.=]

It was Gloucester who was entrusted with the conduct of a campaign
against Scotland, which was undertaken in 1482, and was the last
important event of Edward's reign. This was a war not at all creditable
to Edward, who intrigued with the rebellious brothers of James III.,
and picked a quarrel with the Scots on frivolous grounds. His real
object was the recovery of Berwick, which had been in Scottish hands
since Queen Margaret surrendered it in the year of Towton. Gloucester
took Berwick, which after being lost for twenty years again became
an English town. He also harried the Merse and Lothian, the Scots
retiring before him without a battle. Soon after they made peace,
ceding Berwick, and promising that their king's eldest son should marry
Edward's daughter Cecily.

[Sidenote: =Death of Edward IV.=]

In the year following this treaty the king died, worn out in early
middle age by his evil living and intemperance. He left a large
family--two sons, Edward aged twelve and Richard aged nine, and five
daughters, of whom Elizabeth, the eldest, had reached her eighteenth

The decease of Edward, though he was little regretted for himself,
threw the nation into great fear and perplexity, for it was confronted
with the dangerous problem of a minority, and no one knew who would
succeed in grasping power as regent for the little king Edward V. It
was almost inevitable that there should be a struggle for the post,
for the late king's court had contained elements which were jealous of
each other, and had only been kept from collision by Edward's personal

[Sidenote: =Claimants for the Regency.=]

There were two persons to whom the regency might have fallen--the
queen-dowager, Elizabeth Woodville, and the late king's brother,
Richard of Gloucester. Elizabeth's ascendency implied that England
would be ruled by her brothers and the sons of her first marriage--the
lords Rivers and Dorset, Sir John Grey, and Sir Edward Woodville,
all uncles or half-brothers to the little Edward V. Their rule would
mean the banishment or suppression of Gloucester, with whom they were
already at secret feud. In the same way, the rise of Gloucester to
power would certainly mean a like fall for the Woodville clan.

[Sidenote: =Seizure of Earl Rivers.=]

At the moment of his accession the young king was in Shropshire, in
charge of his uncle, Earl Rivers, a fact which put the queen's party at
a great advantage. Rivers at once proceeded to bring his little nephew
toward London, for his coronation, guarding him with a considerable
armed force. On their way Edward and his cavalcade were encountered at
Stony Stratford by Richard of Gloucester, who had also brought with him
a considerable body of retainers from his Yorkshire estates.

The two parties met with profuse protestations of mutual friendship and
esteem, but when Rivers' suspicions were lulled to sleep, Gloucester
suddenly seized him, flung him into fetters, and sent him a prisoner
to the north. Rivers' fate was shared by Sir Richard Grey, the little
king's half-brother, and several more of their party.

[Sidenote: =Gloucester takes charge of the young king.=]

Gloucester then took charge of his nephew's person, and brought him up
to London, where he summoned a Parliament to meet. The queen-dowager,
on hearing that her brother Rivers and her son Richard Grey were cast
into prison, knew that her chance of power was gone, and hastily took
sanctuary at Westminster, with her youngest son, the little Duke of
York, and her five daughters.

[Sidenote: =Schemes of Gloucester.=]

The nation was not displeased to learn that the regency would fall into
the hands of Duke Richard, who was known as a good soldier, and had
served his brother very faithfully; it much preferred him to the Queen
and her relatives, who had a bad reputation for greed and arrogance.
But it soon became evident that there was something more in the air
than a mere transference of the regency. Gloucester not only filled
all the places about the king with his own friends, but commenced to
pack London with great bodies of armed men raised on his own estates, a
precaution quite unnecessary when all his enemies were crushed. He also
made the council of regency confer gifts of money, land, and offices,
on a most unprecedented scale, upon his two chief confidants, Henry,
Duke of Buckingham, and John, Lord Howard. They were evidently being
bought for some secret purpose.

[Sidenote: =Execution of Lord Hastings.=]

Gloucester and his nephew the king had been in London more than a
month, and the day of the young king's coronation was at hand, when
suddenly Duke Richard showed his real intentions by a sharp and bloody
stroke. On the 13th of June the Privy Council was meeting in the Tower
of London on business of no great importance, and the duke showed
himself smooth and affable as was his wont. After a space he withdrew,
but ere long returned with a changed countenance and an aspect of gloom
and anger. "What shall be done," he suddenly asked, "to them that
compass the destruction of me, being so near of blood to the king,
and Protector of this realm?" He was answered by Lord Hastings, the
late king's best friend, a man of great courage and experience, who
had shared in the victories of Barnet and Tewkesbury, and had held
the highest offices ever since. "They are worthy of death," said the
unsuspicious baron, "whoever they may be." Then Gloucester burst out,
"It is my brother's wife," and baring his left arm--which all men knew
to be somewhat deformed since his earliest years--he cried, "Look
what yonder sorceress and Shore's wife and those who are of their
council have done unto me with their witchcrafts." Hastings started
at the mention of Shore's wife, for Jane Shore was his own mistress,
and an accusation of witchcraft against her touched him nearly. "If
they have so done, my lord," he faltered, "they are worthy of heinous
punishment." "Answeredst thou me with _ifs?_" replied Duke Richard. "I
tell thee they _have_ done it, and that I will prove upon thy body,
thou traitor." Then he smote upon the table, and armed men, whom he
had posted without, rushed into the council chamber. Richard bade them
seize Hastings, Lord Stanley, the Archbishop of York, and the Bishop of
Ely, all firm and loyal friends of Edward IV.

Hastings was borne out to the court of the Tower and beheaded then and
there; the others were placed in bonds. This sudden blow at the young
king's most faithful adherents dismayed the whole city; but Gloucester
hastened to give out that he had detected Hastings and his friends in a
plot against his life, and, as he had hitherto been always esteemed a
loyal and upright prince, his words were half believed.

[Sidenote: =Gloucester gets possession of the Duke of York.=]

Richard's real object was to free himself from men whom he knew to
be faithful to the young king, and unlikely to join in the dark plot
which he was hatching. He next went with a great armed following to
Westminster, where lay the queen-dowager and her children. Surrounding
the sanctuary with guards, and then threatening to break in if he
was resisted, he sent Cardinal Bourchier, the aged Archbishop of
Canterbury, to persuade Elizabeth to give up her young son, Richard of
York. Half in terror, half persuaded by the smooth prelate, who pledged
his word that no harm should befall the boy, the Queen placed him in
Bourchier's hands. Richard at once sent him to join his brother in the
Tower (June 16).

Having both his brother's sons in his power, and having crushed his
brother's faithful friends, Richard now proceeded to show his real
intent. He was aiming at the crown, and had been preparing to seize
it from the moment that his brother died. This was the meaning of the
gifts that he had been showering around, and of the masses of armed men
that he had gathered.

[Sidenote: =Doctor Shaw's sermon.=]

On the 22nd of June he laid his purpose open. His chaplain, Doctor
Shaw, was set up to preach to the people at St. Paul's Cross a
marvellous sermon, in which he argued that Richard was the rightful
king, though both Edward IV. and Clarence, his two elder brothers, had
left sons behind them. The Londoners were told to their great surprise
that the late king's marriage with Elizabeth Woodville had been
invalid. Not only had they been secretly and unlawfully married in an
unconsecrated place, but Edward had been betrothed long before to Lady
Eleanor Talbot, the daughter of the Earl of Shrewsbury. He had never
been given any clerical dispensation from this bond, and therefore he
was not free to wed, and his sons were bastards. As to Clarence, he had
been attainted, and the blood of his heir was corrupted by his father's

[Sidenote: =Gloucester declared king.=]

The Londoners were astonished at this strange argument; they kept
silence and so disappointed Gloucester, who had come to the sermon
in hopes to meet an enthusiastic reception. But two days later, a
stranger scene was enacted at the Guildhall: the Duke of Buckingham,
Gloucester's chief confederate, summoned together the mayor and council
of London, and, repeating all the arguments that Doctor Shaw had
urged, bade them salute Richard as king. A few timid voices shouted
approval, and then Buckingham declared that he recognized the assent
and good-will of the people. Next day there met the Parliament which
should have witnessed the coronation of Edward V. They were summoned
to St. Paul's, where Buckingham presented to them a long document,
setting forth the evil government of Edward IV., denouncing his sons
as bastards, and ending with a petition to Richard of Gloucester to
take upon him as his right the title and estate of king. The Lords
and Commons yielded their silent assent, apparently without a word of
discussion or argument, and Buckingham then led a deputation to Duke
Richard, who, with much feigned reluctance, assented to the petition
and declared himself king. The only excuse for this lamentable weakness
shown by the Houses is that they were quite unprepared for the _coup
d'état_, and were overawed by the thousands of men-at-arms in the
livery of Gloucester and Buckingham, who packed every street.

[Sidenote: =Execution of Rivers and Grey.=]

So Richard was crowned with great pomp if with little rejoicing,
and thought that he had attained the summit of his desires. But his
position was from the first radically unsound. He had seized the throne
so easily because his antecedents had not prepared men for such sudden
and unscrupulous action, so that there had been no time to organize any
opposition to him. But the pious and modest duke had suddenly blossomed
forth into a bloodthirsty tyrant. On the very day of his accession he
had the unfortunate Rivers and Grey beheaded at Pontefract, and six
weeks later he wrought a much darker deed.

[Sidenote: =Murder of the young princes.=]

After starting on a festal progress through the midlands, he sent
back a secret mandate to London, authorizing the murder of his little
nephews, Edward and Richard. They were smothered at dead of night
in their prison in the Tower, and secretly buried by the assassins.
Their graves were never discovered till 1674, when masons repairing
the building came upon the bones of two young boys thrust away under a
staircase. The murder took place between the 7th and 14th of August,
1483, but its manner and details were never certainly known.

[Sidenote: =Buckingham heads a rebellion.=]

The horror which the disappearance of the harmless, unoffending, young
princes caused all over England, was far more dangerous to Richard than
their survival could possibly have been. It turned away from him the
hearts of all save the most callous and ruffianly of his supporters.
Within two months of their death a dangerous rebellion had broken out.
It was headed by Buckingham, the very man who had appeared with such
shameful prominence at the time of Richard's usurpation. No one can
say whether he was shocked by the murder, or whether he was merely
discontented with the vast bribes that the new king had given him, and
craved yet more. But we find him conspiring with the queen's surviving
kindred, the wrecks of the Lancastrian party, and some faithful
adherents of Edward IV., to overturn the usurper. They proposed to call
over the Earl of Richmond, and to marry him to the princess Elizabeth,
the eldest sister of the murdered princes, so blending the claims of
Lancaster and York (October, 1483).

[Sidenote: =Defeat and death of Buckingham.=]

The insurrection broke out in a dozen different districts all over
England, but it was foiled by King Richard's untiring energy and great
military talent. He smote down his enemies before they were able to
unite, and caught Buckingham, who had been separated from the bulk of
his fellow-conspirators by a sudden rising of the Severn. The duke was
executed at Salisbury, with such of his party as were taken, but the
majority escaped over-sea and joined the Earl of Richmond.

This was destined to be the last gleam of success that Richard was to
see. The rest of his short reign (1483-85) was a period of unrelieved
gloom. No protestations of his good-will to England, and no attempts,
however honest, to introduce just and even-handed government, availed
him aught. He summoned a Parliament in 1484, and caused it to pass
several laws of excellent intention, but he was not able to observe
them himself, much less to enforce them on others. After having with
great solemnity abolished the custom of raising benevolences, or forced
loans, such as his brother Edward IV. had loved, Richard was compelled
by the emptiness of his treasury to have recourse to them again, in
less than a twelvemonth after he had disavowed the practice.

[Sidenote: =Death of the king's wife and son.=]

Personal misfortunes came upon the king in a way which seemed to
mark the judgment of Heaven. Less than a year after he had slain his
nephews, his only son Edward, Prince of Wales, died suddenly in the
flower of his boyhood (1484). Eleven months later his wife, Queen
Anne, the daughter of the King-maker, followed his son to the grave.
His enemies accused him of having poisoned her, for all charges were
possible against one who had proved himself so cruel and treacherous.

It is said that Richard thought for a moment, after his wife's death,
of compelling his niece Elizabeth, Edward IV.'s eldest daughter, to
marry him, in order to merge her claim to the crown in his own. But
the mere rumour of the intention so shocked the people that all his
own partisans urged him to disavow it, which he accordingly did. Being
wifeless and childless, he nominated as his heir his nephew, John de la
Pole, Earl of Lincoln, the son of his eldest sister.

[Sidenote: =Renewal of the rebellion.=]

Meanwhile the conspiracy which had failed to overthrow Richard in the
autumn of 1483, was again gathering head. The Earl of Richmond had
obtained loans of men and money from France, and was only waiting
for the news that his friends were ready, to make a second attempt
on England. With him were all the enemies of King Richard who had
escaped death--Dorset, the son of Queen Elizabeth, Edward Woodville,
Morton Bishop of Ely, and the few surviving Lancastrian exiles headed
by the Earls of Pembroke and Oxford. They relied, not on their French
soldiery, but on the secret allies who were to join them in England,
and especially on Lord Stanley, the Earl of Richmond's father-in-law.
That noble, though he had been arrested in company with the unfortunate
Hastings, had been pardoned by King Richard, and entrusted by him with
much power in Lancashire and Cheshire. Richard's court was honeycombed
with treason: his own Attorney-General, Morgan of Kidwelly, kept
Richmond informed of his plans and actions. Of all those about the king
only a very few were really faithful to him.

Richard knew that treason was abroad, though he could not identify the
traitors. He struck cruelly and harshly at all that he could reach; his
ferocity may be gauged from the fact that he actually hung a Wiltshire
gentleman named Collingbourn for no more than a copy of verses. The
unfortunate rhymester had scoffed at Richard's three favourites, Lord
Lovel, Sir William Catesby, and Sir Richard Ratcliffe, in the lines--

    "The Cat, the Rat, and Lovel our Dog
    Rule all England under a Hog."

The Hog was Richard himself, whose favourite badge was a white boar.

[Sidenote: =Richmond lands in Wales.=]

In August, 1485, Henry of Richmond landed at Milford Haven, and was
joined by many of the Welsh, among whom he was popular because of his
own Welsh blood, that came from his father, Edmund Tudor. Advancing
into England, he met with aid from the Talbots of Shrewsbury and many
other midland gentry. Lord Stanley gathered a considerable army in
Lancashire and Cheshire, but did not openly join the earl, because his
son, Lord Strange, was in the king's hands, and would have been slain
if Richard had been certain of his father's treachery.

[Sidenote: =Battle of Bosworth Field.=]

Advancing still further into the midlands, Henry met the king at
Bosworth Field, near Leicester. Richard's army was twice the size of
that of the earl. He must have conquered if his men had fought honestly
for him. But when the battle was joined, the Earl of Northumberland,
who led one wing of Richard's host, drew aside and would not fight, and
presently Lord Stanley appeared with his contingent and charged the
king in flank. The Yorkists began to disperse and fly, for they fought
with little heart for their cruel master. But Richard himself would not
turn back, though his attendants brought him his horse and besought him
to save himself. He plunged into the thick of the fray, cut his way to
Richmond's banner, and was there slain, fighting desperately to the
last. With him fell his most faithful adherent, John Lord Howard, whom
he had made Duke of Norfolk, and a few more of his chief captains. His
favourite, Sir William Catesby, was taken prisoner and executed when
the battle was over.

Richard's crown, beaten off his helmet by hard blows, was found in
a hawthorn bush, and placed on Richmond's head by Lord Stanley, who
then saluted him as king by the name of Henry VII. The dead monarch's
body was taken to Leicester, and exposed naked before the people, but
ultimately given honourable burial in the church of the Grey Friars.

[Sidenote: =Character of Richard III.=]

Thus ended the prince who had wrought so much evil, and won his
way to power by such unscrupulous cunning and cruelty. He was only
thirty-three when he was cut off. There have been worse kings in
history, and had his title been good and his hands clean of the blood
of his kinsmen, he might have filled the English throne not unworthily.
But the consequences of his first fatal crime drove him deeper and
deeper into wickedness, and he left a worse name behind him than any
of his predecessors. The historians of the next generation drew his
portrait even darker than he deserved, making him a hideous hunchback
with a malignant distorted countenance. As a matter of fact, his
deformity was only that his left arm was somewhat withered, and his
left shoulder consequently lower than his right. His portraits show a
face not unlike that of his brother Edward, but thinner and set in a
nervous and joyless look of suspicion.




Henry Tudor had the good fortune to appear upon the scene as the
avenger of all wrongs, those of the injured heirs of York no less than
those of the long-exiled partisans of Lancaster. His victory had been
won by the aid of Yorkists like Stanley, Dorset, and Edward Woodville,
no less than by that of Oxford, Pembroke, the Courtenays, the Talbots,
and other old Lancastrian names. It had been settled, long before he
started, that he should blend the claims of the two rival houses by
marrying the Princess Elizabeth, the eldest child of Edward IV. Thus he
was able to pose as the reconciler of parties, and the bringer-in of
peace and quiet. He proved his moderation by abstaining from bloodshed;
he spared all the prisoners of Bosworth save three alone, and though
he caused a bill of attainder to be passed against King Richard's
chief partisans, no more executions followed. Henry's wise view of the
situation was set forth by a law which he caused one of his Parliaments
to approve at a subsequent date, to the effect that no man should ever
be accused of treason for supporting the king _de facto_ against the
king _de jure_.

[Sidenote: =Title of Henry VII. to the throne.=]

It required all Henry's moderation and ability, however, to make
firm his seat upon the throne. His title to it was very weak--only
that of conquest in fact--for the legitimacy of the Beaufort line as
representatives of John of Gaunt was more than doubtful. Henry refused
to rest his claim to the crown merely on his marriage to Elizabeth of
York; he would be no mere king-consort, and he deliberately put off the
wedding until he had been crowned at Westminster, and had been saluted
by Parliament as king in his own right. Having thus made his position
clear, he married Elizabeth, six months after the day of Bosworth Field.

[Sidenote: =Character of Henry.=]

Henry Tudor was precisely the sovereign that England required to put an
end to the general unrest and unruliness that were the legacy of the
Wars of the Roses. He had not an amiable character; he was reserved
and suspicious, a master of plot and intrigue, selfish in act and
thought, prone to hoard money in and out of season, and ready to strike
unmercifully when a stroke seemed necessary. But his brain ruled his
passions, and from policy, if not from natural inclination, he was
clement and slow to anger. He had some turn for art and letters, and
was religious in his own self-centred way. His ministers were wisely
chosen; the two chief of them, Bishops Morton and Foxe, were prudent
and blameless men. If Empson and Dudley, his two financial advisers,
were much hated by the people for their extortions, it was because
their master bade them fill his coffers, and was content that they
should bear the unpopularity which must otherwise have fallen on
himself. He deliberately chose to have scapegoats, lest he should have
to take the responsibility for the harsher side of his policy.

[Sidenote: =Lovel's rising.=]

[Sidenote: =Lambert Simnel.=]

The earlier years of Henry's reign were much disturbed by petty
rebellions, the last ground-swell of discontent and lawlessness which
lingered on after the great tempest of the Wars of the Roses had
abated. Richard III. had left behind him a few devoted partisans who
had resolved never to submit; the chief were John de la Pole, Earl of
Lincoln, who had been declared heir to the throne by the late king,
and Lord Lovel, the sole survivor of the three favourites who had
"ruled all England under the Hog." They were bold reckless men, ready
to risk all for ambition and revenge. Before Henry had been a year on
the throne, Lovel secretly collected a band of desperate friends, and
tried to kidnap him while he was visiting York. Foiled in this scheme,
Lovel fled to Flanders, where he was sheltered by Margaret, Duchess
of Burgundy, the widowed sister of King Edward IV. With her and with
Lincoln he concerted a second plan of rebellion. They resolved to try
to rouse the wrecks of the Yorkist party in the name of Edward, Earl
of Warwick, the son of Clarence, who had been put to death in 1478,
and the only male heir of the house of York. This prince was in King
Henry's hands, safely kept in custody in the Tower of London. Till they
could liberate him they resolved to make an impostor assume his name
and title. So they instructed a clever boy named Lambert Simnel, the
son of an organ-maker at Oxford, to act the part of the young Clarence,
reasoning that Henry would not dare to put the real prince to death,
but would keep him alive in order to make the imposture clear, and so
they could free the real Clarence if they succeeded, and dismiss the
false one when he was no longer needed.

[Sidenote: =Battle of Stoke.=]

Ireland had always been friendly to the house of York, and there was no
one there who knew the young prince or could detect his counterfeit.
So Lambert Simnel was first sent thither, to try the temper of the
Irish, giving out that he had just escaped from the Tower. The Earl of
Kildare and other prominent Anglo-Irish barons were wholly cozened by
the young impostor, and saluted him as king. Four thousand men under
Lord Thomas Fitzgerald were raised to aid him; Lincoln and Lovel joined
him with 2000 veteran German mercenaries under a captain named Martin
Schwartz. They crossed to England and landed in Lancashire, where a few
desperate Yorkists joined them. Then advancing inland, they met King
Henry at Stoke, near Newark. But their ill-compacted army was routed,
the Germans and Irish were cut to pieces, and Lincoln, Schwartz, and
Fitzgerald all slain. Lovel escaped to his manor of Minster Lovel,
in Oxfordshire, and lurked in a secret chamber, where he was starved
to death in hiding. Lambert Simnel fell into the hands of the king,
who treated him with contempt instead of slaying him. He lived many
years after as a cook in the royal kitchen. The rebels in Ireland were
pardoned on submission, for Henry was loth to stir up further troubles
in that distressful country (1488).

[Sidenote: =French war.--Brittany united to France.=]

Thinking perhaps to turn the attention of the nation from domestic
troubles by the old expedient of a war with France, the king in the
next year joined in a struggle which was raging in Brittany. Charles
VIII., the son of Lewis XI., was trying to annex the duchy, whose
heiress was a young girl, the Duchess Anne. Henry agreed to aid this
ancient ally of England, and sent over troops both to Brittany and to
Calais. The war went not unprosperously at first, and the garrison of
Calais won a considerable victory at Dixmuide, in Flanders. But after
a time the Bretons grew weary of the struggle, and the Duchess Anne
surrendered herself to King Charles, and became his wife (1491). Thus
the last of the great French feudal states was united to the crown.
For the future the English could get no support from them, and as a
consequence all English invasions of France in the ensuing age met with
little good fortune. There was never again any chance of dismembering
a divided France, such as that with which Edward III. and Henry V.
had to deal. The king recognized his powerlessness, and gladly made
peace with Charles VIII. on receiving a subsidy of 745,000 crowns, a
better bargain than Edward IV. had made under similar circumstances at
Picquigny (1492).

[Sidenote: =Perkin Warbeck.=]

Henry was wise to make an early and profitable peace, for new troubles
were brewing for him at home. News came from Ireland that a young man
was secretly harboured at Cork, who gave himself out to be Richard
of York, the younger of the two princes smothered in the Tower nine
years before. When Henry ordered his arrest, he fled to Flanders and
took refuge with Duchess Margaret, who at once recognized him as her
true nephew, and gave him a royal reception and a safe refuge for two
years. There is no doubt, however, that he was really Perkin Warbeck,
the son of a citizen of Tournay, who had plunged very young into a life
of adventure, and hoped to gain something by fishing in the troubled
waters of English politics. By Margaret's help Perkin engaged in secret
intrigues with the few Yorkists who yet survived in England. But King
Henry traced out all his plots, and beheaded Lord Fitzwalter and Sir
William Stanley, who had listened to his tempting. Stanley's case was
a bad one: he had betrayed Richard III. at Bosworth--like his brother
Lord Stanley--and had been lavishly rewarded by Henry VII., yet would
not keep faithful to his new master because he was refused an earldom

Though his friends had been detected, the pretender persisted in
venturing an attack on England. With 2000 men raised with money lent
him by Duchess Margaret, he tried to land in Kent; but the Kentishmen
rose and drove him off. He then sailed to Ireland, where--like his
predecessor Lambert Simnel--he met with some support. But hearing that
James IV. of Scotland was on the brink of war with the English, he soon
passed over to the Scottish court, where he was received with royal
state. James IV. married him to his cousin, Lady Catherine Gordon, and
placed him at the head of an expedition with which he was to try and
raise rebellion in Yorkshire, where the supporters of the house of
York were still supposed to be numerous. But when Perkin crossed the
Border, not an Englishman would join him, and he was obliged to return
ignominiously to Scotland. From thence the restless adventurer soon set
out on a new quest.

[Sidenote: =Cornish rising.=]

The heavy taxation which King Henry raised from his subjects to pay for
an army to resist the Scots had provoked much murmuring in some parts
of England. Most of all had it been resented in the remote shire of
Cornwall, where the local discontent took the form of armed gatherings
to resist the taxes. Flammock, a lawyer, and Michael Joseph, a farrier
of Bodmin, two turbulent demagogues, put themselves at the head of the
rioters, and persuaded them to march on London, there to expostulate
with the king. Lord Audley, an unwise south-country baron, joined their
company, and led them as far as Blackheath, close to the gates of
London. From thence they sent the king messages, bidding him to dismiss
his extortionate ministers, and remove his taxes. Henry was taken by
surprise, as he had just sent off his army against the Scots, but he
promptly recalled the expedition and gave battle to the Cornishmen.
The fight of Blackheath ended in their complete discomfiture: Audley,
Flammock, and Joseph were taken and executed, but the king let the rest
go away unharmed, as mere deluded tools of their leaders (June, 1497).

[Sidenote: =Failure of Warbeck.=]

Warbeck had heard of the rising of the Cornishmen, and thought that
he discerned in it his best opportunity of making head against King
Henry. He landed at Whitesand Bay, but found that he was too late, as
the insurgents had already been defeated and scattered. But he rallied
around him the wrecks of their bands, and made an attack on Exeter.
Being foiled by the stout resistance of the citizens, and hearing
that the king was coming against him with a great host, the pretender
suddenly lost heart, left his men in the lurch, and fled away to take
sanctuary in the abbey of Beaulieu (August, 1497).

[Sidenote: =Warbeck and the Earl of Warwick executed.=]

King Henry showed extraordinary moderation in dealing with the
insurgents: he fined Cornwall heavily, but ordered no executions. He
promised Warbeck his life if he would leave his sanctuary, and when the
impostor gave himself up, he was merely placed in honourable custody in
the Tower. He was only made to publish the confession of his fraud, and
to give a full account of his real life and adventures. Perkin might
have lived to old age, like Lambert Simnel, if he had been content to
keep quiet. But he made two attempts to escape from England, which
roused the king's wrath. On the second occasion he persuaded another
State prisoner, Edward of Clarence, the true heir of York, to fly with
him; but they were detected, and the king, provoked at last, executed
Warbeck, and made the unfortunate Prince Edward share his fate (1499).
Perkin had merited his end, but it is impossible to pardon Henry's
dealings with the unlucky heir of Clarence, who had been a prisoner
ever since Richard III. sent him to the Tower sixteen years before.
There is no doubt that Henry was glad of the excuse to lop off another
branch from the stem of York. Noting this fact, the next heir of that
line, Edmund de la Pole, brother of the Earl of Lincoln who fell at
Stoke, wisely fled from England, lest his royal blood should be his

[Sidenote: =Suppression of livery and maintenance.=]

After Warbeck's failure, King Henry was for the future free from the
danger of dynastic risings against the house of Tudor. He was able to
develop his policy both at home and abroad without any further danger
of insurrections. In domestic matters he strove very successfully to
put an end to the turbulence which had been left behind from the times
of the civil war. His chief weapon was legislation against "livery and
maintenance," the evil custom by which a great lord gave his badge to
his neighbours, and undertook to support them in their quarrels and
lawsuits. This abuse of local influence was sternly suppressed, and no
man, however great, was permitted to keep about him more than a limited
number of liveried retainers. It is on record that Henry punished his
oldest friend and supporter, the Earl of Oxford, for breaking this
rule. On the occasion of a royal visit to his castle of Hedingham,
Oxford received the king at the head of many hundreds of his followers,
all clad in the de Vere livery, and was promptly made to pay a heavy
fine for his ostentation.

[Sidenote: =The Star Chamber founded.=]

Henry established a special tribunal for dealing with the offences
of men, whose power and influence might foil and divert the ordinary
course of justice. This was the new and unconstitutional "Court of Star
Chamber," a committee of trusted members of the Privy Council, which
met in a room at Westminster whose roof was decorated with a pattern
of stars. The court was useful at the time, but grew to be a serious
grievance in later days, because it stood over and above the ordinary
law of the land, and was used to carry out any illegal punishment that
the king might devise.

[Sidenote: =Reduction of the surviving barons.=]

By these arbitrary means, Henry Tudor succeeded in taming the survivors
of the baronage, and in reducing them to such a state of subjection to
the crown as England had never before seen. Their spirit had already
been broken by the endless slaughters and confiscations of the Wars of
the Roses, and the majority of them were well content to surrender the
anarchical independence which they had enjoyed of late, in return for a
quiet and undisturbed security for life and land. It is to be noticed
that many of the oldest and most powerful houses had now disappeared.
By the year 1500 there only survived of the older and greater peerages
those of Northumberland, Westmoreland, Arundel, Buckingham, Devon, and
Oxford, to which may be added the duchy of Norfolk, afterwards restored
to the Howards by Henry VIII. If we find other ancient titles borne
by men of the Tudor time, we must remember that the holders were not
the heirs of the lines whose names they bore, and did not possess the
vast estates that had made those titles all-important. The Warwicks or
Somersets, the Suffolks or Herefords of the sixteenth century are the
mere creatures of Tudor caprice.

[Sidenote: =Foreign policy of Henry.=]

A few words are necessary to explain the tiresome and difficult subject
of the foreign policy of Henry VII. We have seen that his venture of
war with France in 1491 proved unfortunate, and he never repeated
it. For the future he preferred to hoard money at home, rather than
to lavish it on continental wars. But if he never fought again, he
was always threatening to fight, winning what advantage he could by
the menace of joining one or other of the parties which then divided
Europe. The main troubles of continental politics in his period were
caused by the restless ambition of the Kings of France. Freed from the
lingering wars with England which had previously been their bane, the
French monarchs had turned southward, and were striving to conquer
Italy. Charles VIII. and Lewis XII., the two contemporaries of King
Henry, spent all their energy in the attempt to annex the kingdom of
Naples and the duchy of Milan, to which they had some shadowy claim
of succession. Their schemes called into the field the sovereigns
whose position would have been imperilled by the French conquest of
Italy--the Emperor, Maximilian of Austria, and Ferdinand and Isabella,
the sovereigns of Aragon and Castile, whose marriage had created the
united kingdom of Spain.

[Sidenote: =The Netherlands.=]

If the struggle had raged in Italy alone, Henry VII. might have
viewed it with a philosophic indifference. But it also involved the
Netherlands, the near neighbour of England, and the chief market for
English trade. The Netherlands were at this moment in the hands of
Philip of Austria, the son of the emperor, for Maximilian had married
Mary of Burgundy, the heiress of the great dukes who had ruled in the
Low Countries, and Philip was their only son.[29] Henry wished to keep
on good terms with his neighbours in Flanders, more especially because
it was there that the Yorkist refugees found shelter. Not only had the
dowager Duchess Margaret aided them from thence, but Maximilian, while
acting as regent in the Netherlands for his young son Philip, had given
Perkin Warbeck much assistance.

[Sidenote: =The "Great Intercourse."=]

Henry's policy was rendered difficult by the incurable perverseness of
the emperor and his son, the Duke Philip, but he managed to keep out
of war with them, and even obtained from them the "Great Intercourse,"
a commercial treaty with the Low Countries which was of much use to
England, as it provided for the free entry of English goods into
Flanders, and of Flemish goods into England, and stipulated that the
king and the duke should join together to put down piracy in the
Narrow Seas. Some years later Henry was enabled to wring some further
advantages out of Duke Philip, in a not very honourable way. The duke
was sailing to Spain, when his ship was driven into Weymouth by a
storm. The king made him welcome and entertained him royally, but would
not suffer him to depart till he had promised to surrender the Yorkist
refugee, Edmund de la Pole,[30] who was then staying in Flanders, and
to still further extend the terms of the "Great Intercourse" to the
benefit of English merchants (1506).

[Sidenote: =Marriage of the Prince of Wales to Catherine of Aragon.=]

With Ferdinand of Aragon, the astute and unscrupulous King of Spain,
Henry was able to get on better terms than with his capricious
neighbour in Flanders, since both were guided purely by self-interest.
The two wily kings understood and respected each other, and resolved
to ally themselves by a marriage. Accordingly Arthur, Prince of Wales,
Henry's eldest son, was wedded to Catherine, the younger daughter of
Ferdinand and Isabella. They were both mere children, and the prince
died before he had reached the age of seventeen. But Ferdinand resolved
that the alliance should not drop through, and the Princess Catherine
was passed on to Henry, Arthur's younger brother and successor in the
title of Prince of Wales. He was some years younger than his bride, and
the marriage, as we shall presently see, was a most unhappy one. With
his son's wife the English king received a large but unpunctually paid

[Sidenote: =Scotland and Ireland.=]

King Henry's long diplomatic intrigues with Spain and the Emperor
brought him no very great profit in the end. But it was otherwise with
his dealings with his neighbours in the British Isles. After the defeat
of Perkin Warbeck, he made an advantageous peace with James IV. of
Scotland, who married his daughter Margaret, and became his firm ally.
For the last ten years of his reign Scotland gave no trouble. The still
more difficult task of pacifying Ireland was also carried out with
considerable success. Henry dealt very gently with the Irish chiefs,
in spite of the treasonable support that they had given both to Simnel
and to Warbeck. His plan of ruling the country was to enlist in his
favour the Earl of Kildare, the most powerful of the Irish barons, by
making him Lord Deputy, and entrusting him with very full control over
the rest. "All Ireland cannot rule the Earl of Kildare," it had been
said; but the king answered, "Then the Earl of Kildare shall rule all

[Sidenote: =Poynings' Act.=]

This policy was attended by a fair measure of success; if turbulent
himself, the earl at least put down all other riotous chiefs. Henry's
reign was also notable in Ireland for the passing of _Poynings' Act_ at
the Parliament of Drogheda. This put the Irish legislature in strict
subordination to England, by providing that all laws brought before it
must previously receive the assent of the king and his English Privy
Council (1495).

Henry Tudor died before his time in 1509, having not yet reached the
age of fifty-four. He left behind him a land peaceful and orderly, a
nobility tamed and reduced to obedience, and a treasury filled with
£1,800,000 in hard cash--the best possible witness to his wisdom and
ability, for no king of England had ever built up such a hoard before.
If his aims had been selfish and his hand hard, he had at any rate
given England "strong governance," and saved her from sinking into


[29] See table on p. 287.

[30] Seven years later, Henry VIII. executed this unhappy prisoner in
cold blood, and for no new offence.




The young king who succeeded to the cautious and politic Henry VII. was
perhaps the most remarkable man who ever sat upon the English throne.
He guided England through the epoch of change and unrest which lay
between the middle ages and modern history, and his guidance was of
such a peculiar and personal stamp that he left an indelible mark on
the land for many succeeding generations. All Europe was transformed
during his time, and that the transformation in England differed from
that on the continent in almost every respect, was due to his own
strange combination of qualities.

[Sidenote: =Character of Henry VIII.=]

Henry's character was a very complex one, mingling qualities good and
bad in strange confusion. In many things he showed the traits of his
grandfather Edward IV., his selfishness, his love of display, his
sensuality, his outbursts of ruthless cruelty. But Edward had been
nothing more than a soldier and a man of pleasure; he had no love of
work, no power to read the character of others. Henry VIII. was a
student, a statesman, a deep plotter, a keen observer of other men. He
chose his servants--or rather his tools--with a clear-headed sagacity
which no king ever surpassed, and he could break them or fling them
away when they became useless, with a coolness that was all his own.
Love of power, love of work, love of pleasure, love of show and pomp,
did not distract him the one from the other, but blended closely
together into one complex impulse--the determination to have his own
will in all things. Such a state of mind bespeaks the tyrant, and a
tyrant Henry became; but a tyrant whose brain was as strong as his
will--who knew the possible from the impossible, who could discern
how far it was safe to go, and could check himself on the edge of any
dangerous precipice of foreign or internal politics. He kept, as it
were, a finger on the nation's pulse, and could restrain himself for
a space if ever it began to beat too excitably. He did his best to
court popularity with the English by an affable bearing and a regard
for their prejudices. He strove to make them look on him as the
nation's representative, and to flatter them into believing that his
resolves were really in accordance with their own will and interests.
He represented to them not only law and order, but national feeling
and national pride. It was this clever acting that made it possible
for him to manipulate England according to his wishes. He appeared to
take the people into his confidence, and they replied by believing
his statements even when they were most unfounded and misleading.
Thus it was that Henry was able to rule despotically for forty years
without having a serious quarrel with his Parliament, and without being
compelled to raise a standing army--the tool which all contemporary
despots were forced to employ.

[Sidenote: =His popular qualities.=]

Henry VIII. was very young when he came to the throne--he had only
reached the age of eighteen. His character was still undeveloped,
though he was known to be both clever and active. All that the nation
knew of him was that he was a bright, handsome youth, fond of horse
and hound, but equally fond of his books and his lute. He had from the
first an eye for popularity, and did all that he could to please the
people by shows and pageants that forced him to dip deeply into his
father's hoarded money.

[Sidenote: =Executions of Empson and Dudley.=]

Yet the first act of Henry's reign was ominous of future cruelty and
ruthlessness. Knowing the unpopularity of his father's harsh and
extortionate but faithful servants, Empson and Dudley, he cast them
into prison, and had them attainted by Parliament on a preposterous
charge of treason. They were well hated, and the people saw their
heads fall with joy, not reflecting on the character of a king who
could deliberately slay his father's councillors merely to win popular

[Sidenote: =Foreign policy.--The Holy League.=]

Henry retained most of his father's old ministers in office, but he
instantly reversed his father's policy of non-intervention in the wars
of the continent. He had not long been seated on the throne when he
joined the "Holy League," a confederacy formed against France by Pope
Julius II., in which both those old intriguers, the Emperor Maximilian
and King Ferdinand of Aragon, were already enlisted (1511). Henry might
have left them to fight their own battles for the mastery of Italy and
Flanders, but he was burning to assert his power in Europe and to win
military distinction. His arms were fairly fortunate. A first attack
on the south of France failed, but he met with considerable success
in 1513, when he landed at Calais with 25,000 men, took the towns of
Tournay and Térouanne, and routed the French army of the North at an
engagement called "the Battle of the Spurs," from the haste with which
the French knights urged their horses out of the fray. Finding his
armies losing ground both in Italy and in Flanders, King Lewis XII.
sought peace from Henry, and obtained it at the cheap price of paying
100,000 crowns, and marrying the Princess Mary, the young English
monarch's favourite sister (1514). These easy terms were granted
because Henry found that his two wily allies, Ferdinand and Maximilian,
had no intention of helping him, and were bent purely on their own
aggrandisement. The alliance with Lewis was not to have much duration,
for within a year he was dead--killed, as the chroniclers assert,
by the late hours and high living which his gay young English queen
persuaded him to adopt. His widow soon dried her tears, and married Sir
Charles Brandon, one of her brother's favourite companions, whom Henry,
to grace the match, decorated with the ill-omened title of Duke of
Suffolk, the spoil of the unhappy de la Poles. From this union sprang
one who was to sit for a brief moment on the English throne.[31]

[Sidenote: =Scottish war.=]

Ere the French treaty had been made, a short stirring episode of war
had taken place on England's northern frontier. King James IV. of
Scotland had certain border feuds to settle with the English, and
thought he might best take his revenge while Henry and his army were
over-seas in Flanders. So he suddenly declared war, and crossed the
Tweed into Northumberland.

[Sidenote: =Battle of Flodden.=]

Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey, son of John of Norfolk, who fell at
Bosworth, was in charge of the Border at the time. He raised the levies
of the northern counties, and marched to meet the Scots. By throwing
himself between King James and his retreat on Scotland, he forced the
enemy to fight. On Flodden Field, between the Till and the Tweed, the
armies met and fought a fierce and doubtful battle which lasted far
into the night. Though victorious on one wing, the Scots were beaten in
the centre, and their king and most of his nobles fell in a desperate
struggle around the royal banner. In the darkness the survivors of the
struggle dispersed and fled home. The death of their warlike sovereign,
and the slaughter which had thinned their fighting men, kept the Scots
quiet for many a day. During the long and troublous minority of James
V. King Henry need fear no danger from the north. As a reward for his
victory, Surrey was restored to his father's dukedom of Norfolk (1513).

[Sidenote: =Wolsey.=]

In these early years of his reign, King Henry had already taken as his
chief minister the able statesman who was for twenty years to be the
second personage in England. Thomas Wolsey, Dean of Lincoln, was the
son of a butcher of Ipswich, who had sought advancement in the Church,
the easiest career for an able man of low birth. He had served Foxe,
Bishop of Winchester, one of Henry VII.'s chief advisers, and from his
service passed into that of the king. He was an active, untiring man,
with a great talent for work and organization of all sorts. Henry made
him Bishop of Tournay, then Archbishop of York, and finally Chancellor.
In this capacity he served for no less than fourteen years, and was
the chosen instrument of all his master's schemes. His dignity was
increased when, in 1515, the Pope made him a cardinal, and afterwards
appointed him his legate in England--an office which seemed to trench
over-much on the authority of the Archbishop of Canterbury as head and
primate of the English Church.

It suited King Henry to have a minister who could relieve him of
much of the toil and drudgery of government, who did not fear
responsibility, and who was entirely dependent on his master. As
long as he was well served, and granted plenty of spare time for his
pleasures and enjoyments, he allowed Wolsey a very free hand. The
cardinal's head was somewhat turned by his elevation, and he indulged
in a pomp and state such as almost befitted a king, never moving about
without a sumptuous train of attendants. This arrogance made him much
disliked, especially by the old nobility; but the king tolerated it
with all the more ease because he preferred that his minister should be
less popular than himself. It was always convenient to have some one
on whom the blame of royal failures might be laid, and Wolsey, with
his ostentation of power and pride, made an admirable shield for his
master. Henry allowed him, therefore, the prominence in which his soul
delighted, gave him his way in things indifferent, but was ready to
check him sharply when he began to develop any tendency to act contrary
to his own royal will.

[Sidenote: =Charles V. and Francis I.=]

In the earlier days of Wolsey's ministry, the face of Europe was
profoundly changed by the deaths of the three old monarchs who had
been the contemporaries of Henry VII. Lewis XII. of France died in
1515, Ferdinand of Aragon in 1516, the Emperor Maximilian in 1519.
The successors of these old diplomatists were two young men, each
slightly junior to the young King of England. In France the reckless
and warlike Francis I. succeeded his cousin Lewis XII. In Spain and in
the dominions of the house of Hapsburg, Ferdinand and Maximilian were
followed by their grandson, Charles V., the child of the emperor's son
and the king's daughter. Charles, being already King of Spain, Duke of
Burgundy, and Archduke of Austria, was elected Emperor by the Germans
in succession to his grandfather Maximilian.

[Sidenote: =Policy of Henry.=]

Now Francis of France and Charles of Austria were rivals from their
youth, and their rivalry was the main source of trouble in European
politics for a whole generation. England had to choose between them
when she sought an ally, but Henry found it by no means easy to make
up his mind. France was his hereditary enemy, but, on the other hand,
Charles, by uniting Spain, the Netherlands, and Austria, and acquiring
in addition the position of Emperor, had built up such a vast power
that he overshadowed Europe, and seemed dangerous by reason of his
over-great dominions and wealth.


   Charles the Rash,    = (1) Isabel of Portugal.
   Duke of Burgundy,    | (2) Margaret of York.
  Holland, and Brabant, |
   Count of Flanders,   |
  Luxemburg, and Namur, |
      slain 1477.       |
  Mary of  =   Maximilian of       Ferdinand, =    Isabella,
  Burgundy | Hapsburg, Archduke     King of   | Queen of Castile,
           |  of Austria, and       Aragon,   |   1474-1504.
           | Emperor, 1493-1519.   1479-1516. |
           |                                  |
           |             +--------------------+--+
           |             |                       |
         Philip,    = Joanna.                Catherine = (1) Arthur,
         Archduke   |                                  |  Prince of
        of Austria, |                                  |    Wales.
        died 1506.  |                                  | (2) Henry VIII.
                    |                                  |
       +------------+-------------+                  Mary,
       |                          |             Queen of England,
    Charles,                  Ferdinand I.,        1553-1558.
  King of Spain,                Emperor,
  1516; Emperor,               1556-1564.
   Philip II.,   =      Mary,
  King of Spain,   Queen of England.

[Sidenote: =The balance of power.=]

Henry and Wolsey, therefore, fell back on the idea that a balance
of power in Europe was the best thing for England. It would be a
misfortune if either Francis I. or Charles V. should grow so powerful
as to dominate the whole continent. England accordingly would do well
to see that neither obtained complete success, and to make a rule of
helping the weaker party from time to time. For the next ten years,
therefore, Henry was always trimming the scales, and transferring his
weight from one side to the other. Such a policy made him much courted
by both parties, and won him much flattery, and an occasional subsidy
or treaty of commerce. But, on the other hand, it prevented either
Francis or Charles from looking upon him as a trustworthy ally, or
dealing fairly with him in the hours of their success. For they argued
that there was no object in serving a friend who might turn into an
enemy at the shortest notice. Thus Henry and Wolsey, with all their
astuteness, got no profit for England or for themselves, for they
were never trusted, and promises made to them in the hour when their
help was needed were never fulfilled when their aid was no longer
necessary. There was something false, insincere, and degrading in
this trimming policy. It is disgusting to read how Henry greeted his
neighbour Francis in 1520 at the celebrated "Field of the Cloth of
Gold" near Calais, with all manner of pomp and pageantry, and profuse
protestations of brotherly love, and then within a month had met
Charles at Gravelines, and concluded a secret treaty of alliance with
him against the friend whose kiss was yet upon his cheek.

[Sidenote: =Heavy taxation.--Benevolences.=]

From all the negotiations and fighting which accompanied the changes
of English policy, only one definite result was reached--England was
beginning to grow poorer and more discontented. The hoarded treasure
of Henry VII. had long been exhausted, and the taxation which his
son was compelled to levy was growing more and more heavy. Henry had
fallen into the evil habit of dispensing with parliamentary grants;
from 1515 to 1523, and again in 1527 and 1528, he never summoned the
two Houses to assemble. The money which he ought to have asked from
them, he raised by the illegal devices of "benevolences" and forced
loans. Wolsey got the credit of advising this tyrannous extortion, and
gained no small hatred thereby, but his master was in truth far more
responsible for it than he.

[Sidenote: =Wolsey aims at becoming Pope.=]

The cardinal, however, bore the blame, and it was said that all the
chaotic changes in England's policy were inspired by Wolsey's desire to
attain the position of Pope, by the aid of whichever of the two powers
of France and Austria had the advantage for the moment. There is no
doubt that there was some truth in the charge; the cardinal's ambition
was overweening, and he would gladly have become Pope, because he had
conceived great schemes of Church reform which the possession of the
papacy alone would have enabled him to carry out. It is certain that
Charles V. twice deluded Wolsey into aiding him, by the tempting bait
of the papal tiara. But on each occasion the Emperor used his influence
at Rome to get some surer partisan elected.

[Sidenote: =Condition of the Church.=]

[Sidenote: =Depravity of the Popes and Clergy.=]

Wolsey's scheme of reforming the Church was no doubt suggested to him
by the discontent against the clergy which was at this moment beginning
to break out all over Europe. Since the days of Wicliffe, religious
matters had not been taking any very prominent place in English
politics, but a storm was now at hand far more terrible than that which
had swept over the land in the days of the Lollards. The condition of
the church of Western Christendom had become more and more deplorable
of late. The worst example was set at head-quarters: bad as the Popes
of the fourteenth century had been, those who were contemporary
with the Tudors were far worse. Rome had seen in succession three
scandalous Popes, the first of whom--Alexander VI., the celebrated
Rodrigo Borgia--was a monster of depravity, a murderer given up to
the practice of the foulest vices; the second--Julius II.--was a mere
secular statesman with no piety, but a decided talent both for intrigue
and for hard fighting; the third--Leo X.--was a cultured atheist, of
artistic tastes, who used to tell his friends that "Christianity was a
profitable superstition for Popes." Under such pontiffs all the abuses
of the mediaeval Church came to a head. Ill living, corruption, open
impiety, reckless interference in secular politics, non-residence,
neglect of all spiritual duties, greed for money, were more openly
practised by the clergy than in any previous age. Even the better sort
of ecclesiastics could see no harm in obvious abuses;--Foxe, Bishop of
Winchester, a man of great virtue, absented himself for twenty years
from his see. Wolsey held three sees at once, and never went near any
of them.

[Sidenote: =The Renaissance.--Printing.=]

The lamentable state of the Church would have provoked murmuring in
any age, but in the sixteenth century it led to open rebellion in
all those countries of Europe which still retained some regard for
religion and morals. The revival of arts and letters, which men call
the Renaissance, was now at its height, and Europe was for the first
time full of educated laymen who could criticize the Church from
outside, and compare its teaching with its practice. The multiplication
of books, owing to the discovery of printing, had placed the means of
knowledge in every man's hands, and the revived study of Hebrew and
Greek was setting the learned to read the Scriptures in their original
tongues. All the elements of a violent outbreak against the papacy, its
superstitions and its enormities, were ready to combine.

[Sidenote:=Martin Luther.=]

In 1517 a German friar, Martin Luther, had first given voice to the
universal discontent, by opposing the immoral practice of selling
"indulgences," or papal letters remitting penances for sins, in return
for money. He had followed this up by preaching against many other
papal abuses, and, when Leo X. replied by excommunicating him, he began
to attack the whole system of the mediaeval Church--inveighing against
the Pope's spiritual supremacy, the invocation of saints, the celibacy
of the clergy, the adoption of the monastic life, and many other
matters. He was supported by his prince, Frederick, Elector of Saxony,
and a great part of Germany at once declared in his favour (1517-21).

[Sidenote: =The Church in England.=]

England was not at first very much affected by the revolt of Germany
against the papacy. The English Church was far less corrupt than those
of France or Italy, and though full of abuses, was not really unpopular
with the nation. It still retained much of the old national spirit,
and was not the mere slave of the Pope. Neither king nor people showed
any signs of following the lead of the Germans. Henry wrote a book to
prove Luther's views heretical, and received in return from Leo X.
the title of Defender of the Faith, which English sovereigns still
display on their coinage. Wolsey devoted himself to practical reforms,
leaving doctrine alone. His first measure was to suppress many small
and decayed monasteries, and to build with their plunder his great
foundation of Cardinal's College, afterwards known as Christ Church, in
the University of Oxford.

[Sidenote: =Henry and Queen Catherine.=]

It was not till about 1527 that England began to be drawn into the
struggle which was convulsing all continental Europe, and then the
cause of quarrel came from the king's private affairs, and not from any
doctrinal dispute. It will be remembered that Henry had been affianced
by his father to Catherine of Aragon, the widow of his brother,
Arthur Prince of Wales. Marriage with a deceased brother's wife being
illegal, a papal dispensation had been procured to remove the bar,
and Henry had married Catherine on his accession, so that he could
not plead compulsion on the part of his father. The marriage was not
a wise one, for the queen, though a very gentle and virtuous woman,
was six years older than her husband, had no personal attractions,
and was delicate in health. All the children whom she bore to Henry
died in infancy--except one, the Princess Mary. By 1527 Catherine was
a confirmed invalid, and showed all the signs of premature old age,
though she was only forty-two.

[Sidenote: =Henry desires a divorce.=]

Now Henry VIII. was morbidly anxious for a son to succeed him; he was
the only surviving male of the house of Tudor, and could not bear the
thought of leaving the throne to a sickly girl. It was obvious that
Catherine would bear him no more children, and, regardless of the duty
and respect that he owed to her, he began to think of obtaining a
divorce, and marrying a younger wife. His project took a definite shape
when his eye was caught by the beautiful Anne Boleyn, a niece of the
Duke of Norfolk, and one of the maids of honour. Becoming desperately
enamoured of her, he resolved to press for a divorce at once. Wolsey,
who saw that the kingdom needed a male heir, undertook to procure the
Pope's consent to the repudiation of Catherine.

[Sidenote: =Attitude of the Pope.=]

But this task proved more difficult than he had expected. Popes were
generally indulgent enough to kings who would pay handsomely for their
heart's desire. But the reigning pontiff, Clement VII., was in an
unhappy position: he was completely at the mercy of the Emperor Charles
V., whose troops had lately taken and sacked Rome. Charles was resolved
that his aunt Catherine should not be divorced, and Pope Clement was
mortally afraid of offending him. Instead, therefore, of granting the
demand of Henry VIII., he temporized, and appointed two cardinals,
Wolsey himself and Campeggio, the Italian bishop of Salisbury, to
investigate the question. Henry and Wolsey hoped to force on a prompt
decision: but Campeggio deliberately hung back, and the Pope finally
recalled him, and summoned the king to send his case to be tried at
Rome (1528). Henry wrongly thought that this check was due to some
bungling or reluctance on the part of Wolsey, not seeing that the
Pope's fears of the Emperor were the real cause.

[Sidenote: =Unpopularity of Wolsey.=]

He at once withdrew his support from the great minister, though Wolsey
needed it more at this moment than ever before, for he was in great
disfavour with the nation, both for his arrogance and for the heavy
taxation which he had imposed on the land. He had actually demanded
from Parliament the unprecedented tax of 4_s._ in the pound on all
men's lands and incomes, and, though the House plucked up courage to
resist this extortionate claim, had obtained as much as 2_s._ In 1529
the cardinal, fearing to meet another Parliament, had recourse to the
old device of benevolences, on a larger scale than ever. This led to
rioting and open resistance. Then the king, to the surprise of all men,
suddenly declared that Wolsey's action was taken without his knowledge
and consent, and dismissed him from the office of Chancellor, which he
had held since 1515.

[Sidenote: =His disgrace and death.=]

His place as the king's chief counsellor fell to the Duke of Norfolk,
the uncle of Anne Boleyn. The king immediately proceeded to treat the
cardinal with great ingratitude. Wolsey's harsh deeds had always been
wrought for his master's benefit rather than his own, but Henry chose
to ignore this fact, and to win a cheap popularity by persecuting his
old and faithful servant. Probably Anne Boleyn and her uncle Norfolk,
exasperated by the delay in the king's divorce, stirred up Henry to the
attack. The cardinal was impeached for having accepted the title of
legate from Rome, without the king's formal leave, many years before.
Henry had made no objection at the time, and it was pure hypocrisy
to pretend indignation now. But Wolsey was declared to have incurred
penalties under the Statute of Praemunire, which forbad dealings with
Rome conducted without royal leave. He was condemned, deprived of all
his enormous personal property, and sent away from court, to live in
his archbishopric of York. A year later Henry again commenced to molest
him, and he was on his way to London, to answer a preposterous charge
of treason, when he died at Leicester, as much of a broken heart as of
any disease. He had been arrogant and harsh in his day of power, but
had served his master so faithfully that nothing can excuse Henry's
ingratitude. Unfortunately for England, he had taught the king the
dangerous lesson that he could go very far in the direction of absolute
and tyrannical government, and escape from the consequent unpopularity
by throwing over his ministers. Henry used this knowledge to the full
during the rest of his reign.

[Sidenote: =Cromwell and Cranmer.=]

Meanwhile Wolsey's disgrace, and the complete failure of the attempt to
win a divorce from the Pope, had been leading the king into new paths.
He had taken to himself two new councillors. In secular matters he gave
his confidence to Thomas Cromwell, a clever, low-born adventurer, whom
Wolsey had discovered and brought to court. In matters religious he
was beginning to listen to his chaplain, Thomas Cranmer, a man with a
curious mixture of piety and weakness, one of the few Englishmen who
had as yet been touched by the doctrines of the Continental Reformers.
It was not, however, as a Reformer that Cranmer commended himself
to his master; indeed, he kept his Lutheran opinions very secret.
But he had suggested to the king a new method of dealing with the
divorce question, which Henry considered not unpromising. It might be
urged that marriage with a deceased brother's wife was so strictly
and definitely forbidden in the Scriptures, that the Pope had no
authority to sanction it, and so the permissory bull of Julius II.
might be scouted as so much waste paper. Henry eagerly swallowed the
idea, and sent round the question, stated as a moot point, to all the
universities of Europe. About half of them answered, as he wished, that
the marriage was illegal from the first. Armed with this authority, he
resolved to go further.

[Sidenote: =Attack on the clergy.=]

But first Henry was resolved to show the English clergy that he was
determined to stand no opposition from them on this point. He opened
a campaign against all manner of Church abuses, with the object of
winning for himself popularity with the nation, by the cheap expedient
of a pretended zeal for purity and piety. He told the Convocation of
the clergy that they had all made themselves liable to the penalties of
Praemunire, for recognizing Wolsey as legate without the royal leave.
They only got pardon by voting the king the large fine of £118,000.
He also caused Convocation to address him as "Supreme Head, as far as
the law of Christ will allow, of the English Church and clergy," thus
casting a slur on the Pope's universal authority. Convocation was also
forced to submit to an Act of Parliament which swept away two ancient
abuses, the right to claim "benefit of clergy" when accused of felony,
and so to escape the king's justice, and the power of evading the
Statute of Mortmain, by receiving legacies under trust instead of in
full proprietorship. The Pope still proving recalcitrant in the matter
of the divorce, Henry took the further step of threatening to cut off
the main contribution which England sent to Rome--the _annates_ or
first-fruits, paid by all benefices when they changed hands.

[Sidenote: =Henry divorces Catherine.=]

This menace did not bring Clement VII. to reason, and Henry at last
took the step which involved a fatal breach with Rome. He appointed the
pliant Cranmer Archbishop of Canterbury, and bade him try the question
of the divorce in an English ecclesiastical court, without any further
application to Rome. Queen Catherine refused to appear before such a
tribunal, and formally appealed to the Pope's justice. But Cranmer
proceeded with the trial, declared the marriage contrary to the law
of God, and pronounced the king free from all his ties and able to
wed again. Even before the decision was announced, Henry had secretly
married Anne Boleyn (January, 1533), and the moment that the court had
given judgment he presented her to the nation as Queen of England. The
unhappy Catherine retired into privacy at Kimbolton, where she survived
nearly three years.

[Sidenote: =Final rupture with the Pope.=]

The Pope at once declared the new marriage illegal, and threatened
Henry with an excommunication. Many good men were scandalized to see
the king repudiate a wife who had lived as his faithful spouse for
twenty years. Murmurings and prophecies of ill filled the air, and
Henry felt that trouble was brewing. But he only hardened his heart,
and caused Parliament to pass a bill for cutting short the Pope's
spiritual authority over England, unless he should acknowledge the
validity of the new marriage within three months. Clement refused to be
bullied into compliance, and the rupture came (1533).

[Sidenote: =Act of Supremacy.--More and Fisher executed.=]

Queen Anne soon bore the king a daughter, the famous Queen Elizabeth,
and Henry then ordered all his subjects to take an oath repudiating
all obedience to papal orders, and acknowledging the child as rightful
heiress of the realm, to the prejudice of his elder daughter Mary.
This oath many persons refused to take, since it openly disavowed
the Pope's authority over the English Church. The chief of them were
Sir Thomas More, a learned and virtuous statesman who had succeeded
Wolsey as Chancellor, and Fisher, Bishop of Rochester. Henry cast them
into prison, and soon after caused Parliament to pass the "Act of
Supremacy," which declared him "Supreme Head of the Church of England,"
and pronounced any one who denied him this title guilty of high
treason. Under this ferocious edict More and Fisher were beheaded, and
many other minor personages suffered with them.

[Sidenote: =Henry excommunicated and deposed.=]

Pope Paul III., who had just succeeded to Pope Clement's tiara, now
caused a Bull to be drawn up against his enemy (Dec. 15, 1535). He not
only pronounced King Henry an excommunicated person, but declared him
to be deposed from his throne. It was now war to the knife between the
king and the papacy, and the rest of Henry's reign was to be taken up
with the struggle. During the twelve years that he had still to live,
he spent all his energies in severing every link that still bound
England to Rome.


[31] Lady Jane Grey, granddaughter and heiress of Charles and Mary.




The breach between England and Rome had become irreparable when
Henry executed More and Fisher, and when Pope Paul had declared the
king deposed. The Church of England had now seceded from the Roman
obedience, and organized herself as an independent body with the
sovereign as her Supreme Head. The secession had been carried out
entirely on the king's initiative, but the nation had acquiesced in
it because of the old and long-felt abuses of which the papacy had
always been the maintainer. King and people alike wished to make an end
of the customs by which the Pope had profited,--his vast gains from
the _annates_ of English sees and benefices; his habit of appointing
non-resident Italians to the richest English preferments; his power
of summoning litigants on ecclesiastical matters before the distant,
costly, and corrupt Church courts at Rome. It was generally thought
that when England freed herself from the Roman obedience, she would be
able to reform in peace all the faults and abuses which disfigured her
ecclesiastical system. Further than this the majority of the nation did
not at first wish to go; they had not ceased to be Catholics, though
they were no longer Roman Catholics. Only a comparatively small section
of the English people had yet been affected by the later developments
of Continental Protestantism.

[Sidenote: =German Protestantism.=]

But the conditions of the English and the Germans at the moment when
both threw off the yoke of Rome, were sufficiently similar to make
it inevitable that the theories of the Continental Reformers would
ere long begin to act upon English minds. The German protest against
the papacy had taken shape in the declaration that the Bible alone
was the rule by which Christian men should order their lives--that
the tradition of the mediaeval Church, which supplemented the teaching
of the Gospels, was dangerous, full of errors and superstitions, and
often directly opposed to scriptural precept. Mediaeval traditions
were the bulwark of the Roman see, and ere long we find King Henry and
his bishops following the Germans into this position, and basing the
reform of the English Church on the Bible, and the Bible alone. But
when tradition was rejected and the Scriptures taken as the sole test
of all doctrines, further development became inevitable. There soon
arose Reformers in England, as on the Continent, who could not find
in their Bibles any justification for some of the doctrines to which
King Henry clung most obstinately, and most of all for the dogma of
Transubstantiation, round which the Roman Church had built up its main
claim to rule the souls of men.

[Sidenote: =Doctrine of transubstantiation.=]

This doctrine concerning "the Sacrifice of the Mass," as commonly held
at this time in the Western Church, taught that, at the celebration of
the Holy Communion, when the priest had consecrated the sacramental
bread and wine, the very flesh and blood of Christ became carnally
and corporeally present in the chalice and patten--that the bread and
wine were no longer bread and wine, but had been transubstantiated
into Christ's own body, which was day by day offered up in sacrifice
for the sins of the world. The Pope and the priesthood, by their
power of granting or refusing the sacrament to the laity, stood as
the sole mediators between God and man. The Continental Protestants,
cut off from the main body of the Western Church by the Pope's ban,
had formulated theories which struck at the roots of the power of the
clergy. Many of them treated the sacrament of the Lord's Supper as no
more than a solemn ceremony, denying any sacramental character to the
rite. The majority of the early English Protestants fell into this
extreme view.

[Sidenote: =Attitude of the king.=]

Now Henry VIII. to the end of his days stood firm to the mediaeval
doctrine of the sacrament, and fully accepted Transubstantiation,
though he denied the deduction which the Roman Church had drawn from
it--that by it the Pope and clergy are the despotic masters of the
souls of men. He merely desired to place himself in the position
which the Pope had hitherto held, as head of the spiritual hierarchy
of England. With the pliant Cranmer and other bishops of his own to
serve him, he wished to become as despotic a sovereign over the souls
of Englishmen as he already was over their bodies. To a great extent
he succeeded, and for the last twelve years of his reign he exercised
a hateful spiritual tyranny over his subjects, drawing a hard-and-fast
line of submission to his own views, which no man was allowed to
overstep in either direction. Roman Catholics who denied his power to
supersede the Pope's authority were hung as traitors. Protestants who
refused to accept his theory of the Sacraments were burnt as heretics.

[Sidenote: =The monasteries.=]

The turning-point of Henry's reign was the turbulent and boisterous
year 1536-7. In pursuance of his plan of a campaign against the papacy,
disguised under the shape of a reform of abuses, Henry had resolved to
attack the monasteries. The monks had long been an unpopular class: the
impulse towards monasticism, which had been so vigorous in the twelfth
and thirteenth centuries, had long died away, and ever since the time
of Wicliffe men had been asking each other what was the use of the
monasteries? There were no less than 619 of them in England. They were
enormously wealthy, and they did little to justify their existence;
they had long ceased to be centres of learning or of teaching. Beyond
going through their daily round of mechanical Church services, their
inmates did absolutely nothing. Their wealth had led to much luxury,
both of splendid building and of high living. To this day the traveller
who measures the ruins of enormous and sumptuous abbeys planted in the
wilderness--like Tintern or Fountains--and learns that they served
no public or spiritual end save the sheltering of a few dozen monks,
wonders at the magnificence of the husk which contained so small and
withered a kernel. But the monasteries were worse than useless--they
were absolutely harmful; their worst habit was to acquire rich country
livings, draw all the tithes from them, and work them with a vicar
on starvation wages. If we see a poor living in modern England, we
generally find that the monks sucked the marrow out of it in the Middle
Ages, to rear their colossal chapels and their magnificent refectories.
It was the monasteries, too, which by their indiscriminate doles and
charities, reared and fostered the horde of itinerant beggars who,
under the name of pilgrims, tramped from abbey to abbey all the year
round. Worse than this, there is no doubt that a considerable amount
of evil living prevailed in some of the monasteries. Before the
Reformation had been heard of, we find Archbishop Warham and Cardinal
Wolsey storming at the immorality of certain religious houses. It was
but natural that idleness, luxury, and high living should breed such
results among the grosser souls in the monastic corporations. In public
esteem the better houses suffered for the sins of the worse.

[Sidenote: =Inquiry into their condition.=]

The monks had always been the faithful allies of the Popes, and
Henry determined to suppress this "papal militia," as they have been
called, and at the same time to fill his pockets from their plunder.
Accordingly, he sent commissioners round England, to report on the
state of the religious houses. These officials--as the king had
wished--drew up a very gloomy report. They declared that they found
nothing but idleness and corruption among the smaller monasteries, and
that many of the greater were no better. There can be no doubt that
they grossly exaggerated the blackness of the picture, knowing that the
king would welcome all possible justification for the action which he
was meditating. But it is equally certain that in most parts of England
the monks were deservedly unpopular, and that the commissioners' report
only reflected the nation's belief.

[Sidenote: =The lesser monasteries suppressed.=]

Henry laid the report before his Parliament, and at his suggestion an
act was passed suppressing the lesser monasteries--all such as had an
income of less than £200 per annum. Their goods were confiscated to the
Crown, but an allowance was made to such of the monks as did not find
places in the surviving monasteries of the larger sort (1536).

[Sidenote: =Henry and Anne Boleyn.=]

The year of the dissolution of small monasteries was notable for a
tragedy in the palace, which shows Henry's unlovely character at its
worst. He had been growing cold to the fair and ambitious queen who had
brought on him his quarrel with Rome. She had disappointed his hope of
a male heir--only the Princess Elizabeth had sprung from the marriage.
Henry had tired of her voluptuous airs and graces, and was beginning
to feel vexed at the want of dignity and decorum which she displayed
among his courtiers. Anne's light words and unseemly familiarity with
many of the gentlemen of his household roused his anger. But what was
most fatal to the unfortunate queen was that his eye had caught another
face about the court, which now seemed to him more attractive than his

[Sidenote: =Anne's execution.--Marriage with Jane Seymour.=]

Suddenly and unexpectedly the storm burst. On May 2, 1536, the king
sent Anne to the Tower, and charged her with misconduct with several
members of his household. Protesting her innocence and amazement to
the last, the unhappy young wife was tried, condemned, and executed,
within a space of less than three weeks from her arrest. Her own father
and uncle sat on the bench of peers which declared her an adulteress;
but the fact witnesses to their shame and cowardice rather than to her
criminality. In all probability she was guilty of nothing more than
unwise levity; her real crime was not adultery, but standing in the
way of Henry's lawless desires. With the most unseemly haste, the king
wedded Jane Seymour, the lady who had already attracted his notice, the
moment that his wretched second wife had breathed her last.

[Sidenote: =Rebellion in Ireland and the North.=]

But he had small leisure to spend on his wedding, for the year 1536
was one of great peril to him. A rebellion in Ireland, led by the
Fitzgeralds, the greatest of the Anglo-Irish nobles, was already in
progress. A still more dangerous phenomenon was the stir which was
arising in the North of England. The Northern counties were always a
generation behind the rest of England in their politics. There the
monks were more powerful and less disliked than in any other part
of the land, and the nobles still retained much of their old feudal
power over their vassals, and some of their old turbulence. The North
had beheld the breach with Rome with dismay and dislike, and remained
strongly Papist in its sympathies. The dissolution of the monasteries
moved it to an active protest against the king's religious action.

[Sidenote: =The Pilgrimage of Grace.=]

Rioting suddenly broke out in Lincolnshire, and then in Yorkshire. The
insurgents gathered in great bands, and at last no less than 30,000
men mustered at Doncaster, under Robert Aske, a lawyer, and Lord
Darcy. They called themselves the army of the Church, raised a banner
displaying the five wounds of Christ as their standard, and demanded a
reconciliation with the Pope, the restoration of the religious houses,
and the dismissal of the king's impious minister Cromwell, and the
"heretic bishops" who had favoured the breach with Rome. The gentry of
the North and the priors and abbots of the great abbeys of Yorkshire
joined the rising, which men called "the Pilgrimage of Grace," because
the rebels wished to go to meet the king, and to submit their demands
to his personal judgment. Henry was caught unprepared, but he managed
to extricate himself from the peril by his unscrupulous double-dealing.
He sent the Duke of Norfolk, whose dislike of Protestantism was well
known, to treat with the rebels. Norfolk pledged his word that the king
would pardon the insurgents, and take all their demands into favourable
consideration. The simple Northerners dispersed, trusting to Henry's
good faith; but the king employed the time he had gained in raising an
army, and getting together a great train of artillery. He then marched
into Yorkshire as an invader, and made no further pretence of listening
to the claims of the insurgents. In consequence, the more vehement
of the partisans of the old faith again took arms. This was as Henry
desired, for he wanted an excuse to terrorize the North. He easily put
down the second rising, and hung all the leaders of the Pilgrimage
of Grace: Aske, Lord Darcy, Lord Hussey, and the abbots of all the
greatest monastic establishments of the North--Whalley, Fountains,
Jervaulx, Barlings, and Sawley (March-May, 1537).

[Sidenote: =Execution of the Marquis of Exeter and Henry Pole.=]

This fearful blow cowed most of the partisans of the papacy, and no
more open revolts followed. But a little later the last representatives
of the house of York were detected in paths which the king suspected
to be treasonable. They thought, it seems, that the indignation
of the Catholics against the king's doings might be turned into a
dynastic revolution in favour of the old royal line. Edward Courtenay,
Marquis of Exeter, a grandson of Edward IV., and Henry Pole, Lord
Montagu, a grandson of George of Clarence, were the persons implicated
in this intrigue, which never got beyond the stage of treasonable
talk. Nevertheless, the king beheaded them both, though the evidence
against them was most imperfect; but Henry never stayed his hand
for want of legal proof, and slew all whom he suspected. He even
imprisoned, and some years afterwards executed, the aged mother of Lord
Montagu--Margaret of Clarence, Countess of Salisbury, sister of the
unfortunate Edward of Clarence, whom his father had slain forty-one
years back.

[Sidenote: =The Irish rebellion crushed.=]

The insurrection in Ireland, which had been raging at the same time
as the Pilgrimage of Grace, ended in a way no less profitable to the
king. Not only did he capture and hang well-nigh the whole family of
the Fitzgeralds of Kildare, the heads of the rising, but his armies,
under Lord-Deputy Grey, pushed out from the English Pale, and compelled
most of the chiefs of Munster and Connaught to do homage to the
Crown, though the king's writ had not run in those provinces for two
centuries. This was the first step towards the conquest of Ireland
afterwards carried out by Queen Elizabeth.

[Sidenote: =Growth of Protestantism. Tyndale's Bible.=]

Meanwhile Henry's determination to strike at all the roots of papal
power in England, had been carrying him further than he himself
realized on the road towards Protestantism. The "Articles of 1536,"
drawn up by his own hand, declared that all doctrines and ceremonies
for which authority could not be found in the Bible, were superstitious
and erroneous. As a logical consequence of this declaration, the
Bible itself, translated into English, was issued to the people by
royal order in 1538, and ordered to be placed in every church. The
translation used was that made by a zealous Protestant, William
Tyndale, who had printed it in Antwerp some years before; the
unfortunate translator had been caught and burnt by the Emperor Charles
V., only a short time before his book became the rule of life for

[Sidenote: =The greater monasteries suppressed.=]

When the Bible had once been placed in the hands of the people,
Protestantism in England began to advance by leaps and bounds. It was
secretly favoured both by Archbishop Cranmer and by the king's great
minister Cromwell. The latter, more logical than his master, wished to
see all traces of Roman Catholicism removed from England, and tried to
guide the king towards a frank recognition of Protestantism, and an
alliance with the Lutheran princes of Germany. But it was dangerous
work to endeavour to govern or persuade Henry, as Cromwell was to
find to his cost. One more step at least he did induce his master to
take--the final destruction of all the remaining monasteries. The
plunder of the lesser houses had been so profitable, that Henry was
easily induced to doom the greater to the same fate. In the course of
1538-9-40 all were swept away; in many cases, the abbots and monks were
induced to surrender their estates peaceably into the king's hands,
in return for pensions or promotion. But where persuasion failed,
force was used; an Act of Parliament was passed by Henry's submissive
Commons, bestowing on him the lands of all monastic foundations. Then
they were suppressed--the harmless and well-ordered ones no less
than the worst and most corrupt. When the monks offered obstinate
resistance, the king dealt very cruelly with them--the wealthy abbots
of Glastonbury, Reading, and Colchester, were all hung, really for
reluctance to surrender their houses, nominally for treason in refusing
to acknowledge the king's complete spiritual supremacy as head of the
Church. The enormous plunder of the monasteries brought the king little
permanent good; he had promised to use it for ecclesiastical purposes,
and had broached a scheme for founding many new churches and schools,
and creating twenty fresh bishoprics. But in the end he lavished most
of the lands of the religious houses upon those of the nobles and
gentry whom he thought worth bribing. The Church only benefited by the
endowing of the six new bishoprics--Oxford, Chester, Peterborough,
Bristol, Gloucester, and the short-lived see of Westminster.

[Sidenote: =The Six Articles.=]

But Henry was resolved to show the Protestants that they must not
expect his countenance, in spite of the blows which he was dealing at
the Roman Catholics. In the very year in which the majority of the
greater monasteries fell, he forced his Parliament to pass the cruel
"Bill of the Six Articles." This odious measure condemned to forfeiture
on the first offence, and to death on the second, all who should write
or speak against certain of the ancient doctrines of the mediaeval
Church, of which Transubstantiation in the Sacrament, the celibacy of
the clergy, and auricular confession were the chief (1539).

[Sidenote: =Birth of a son. Death of Jane Seymour.=]

Meanwhile the king had at last obtained the male heir for whom he had
so much longed. His third wife, Jane Seymour, bore him a son, Prince
Edward, in 1537, though she died at the child's birth. On this boy
all Henry's fondness was lavished: he was to be the sole heir to the
throne, and his sisters, Mary and Elizabeth, were both stigmatized as

[Sidenote: =Marriage with Anne of Cleves.=]

After he had mourned Queen Jane for two years, Henry wished to marry
again. By Cromwell's persuasion he sought a wife among the Protestant
princes of Germany, thinking so to strengthen himself against the
Emperor Charles, who never to his death forgave him the matter of
Catherine of Aragon's divorce. To his own ruin, Cromwell persuaded the
king to choose Anne, sister of Duke William of Cleves, as his fourth
spouse. The lady was plain and stupid--facts which Cromwell carefully
concealed from his master till she had been solemnly betrothed to him
and brought over to England. Henry was bitterly provoked when he was
confronted with his new queen, and could not behave with ordinary
civility to her. When he learnt that the German alliances which he
was to buy with his marriage had fallen through, he repudiated the
unfortunate Anne. She was fortunately of a philosophic mood, and
readily consented to be bought off for a large annual pension and a
handsome residence at Chelsea.

[Sidenote: =Execution of Cromwell.=]

Henry at once wreaked his vengeance on Cromwell for deceiving him as
to Anne and for failing in his negotiations with the German princes.
He had him arrested, and accused him of receiving bribes and of having
favoured the Protestants by "dispersing heretical books and secretly
releasing heretics from prison." Both charges were probably true,
but they form no excuse for Henry's cruel treatment of the faithful
and intrepid minister who had helped him through all the troubles of
1536-40. Cromwell was attainted and beheaded, to the great joy of the
Roman Catholics, who thought that he had been the king's tempter and
evil genius, whereas in truth he had been no more than his tool.

[Sidenote: =Marriages with Catherine Howard and Catherine Parr.=]

Cromwell's end greatly encouraged the Roman Catholic party, and they
were still more elated when the king married a lady known to incline
towards the old faith. This was Catherine Howard, a cousin of Anne
Boleyn and, like her, a niece of the Duke of Norfolk (1540). Henry
had been caught by her beauty, and had not discovered that she was a
person of abandoned manners, whose amours were known to many persons
about the court. Within eighteen months of her marriage, she was
detected in misconduct with one of her old lovers, and sent to the
block. In her case Henry had much more excuse for his ruthless cruelty
than in that of Anne Boleyn; but what kind of wives could a monarch
of such manners expect to find? He was undeservedly fortunate in his
sixth marriage, with Catherine Parr, the dowager Lady Latimer, whom
he wedded a year after Catherine Howard's execution. She was a young
widow of twenty-six, a person of piety and discretion, who gave no
opportunity of offence to the king, and nursed him faithfully through
the infirmities of his later years. For Henry, who had now reached
the age of fifty-two, was growing grossly corpulent and developing a
complication of diseases which racked him fearfully during the last
five years of his life, and partly explain the frantic exhibitions of
cruelty to which he often gave way.

[Sidenote: =Scottish war.--Battle of Solway Moss.=]

The time was a very evil one for England. Not only was the king
persecuting Romanist and Protestant indifferently, but he had added
external to internal troubles. A war with Scotland had broken out in
1540, and was always keeping the northern frontier unquiet, though the
English had the better in the fighting. James V. allied himself to
France, and Henry had to keep guard against attacks on the south as
well as the north. The victory of Solway Moss (November, 1542) put an
end to any danger from Scotland; the news of it killed King James, who
left his throne to his infant daughter Mary, the celebrated "Queen of
Scots." Her minority gave rise to factious struggles among the Scottish
nobles, and Henry, by buying over one party, was able to keep the rest
in check. In 1544 a great English army, under the Earl of Hertford,
Jane Seymour's brother, laid waste the whole of the Lowlands and burnt
Edinburgh, but did not succeed in driving the enemy to sue for peace.

[Sidenote: =War with France.=]

The French war was far more dangerous. King Francis collected a great
fleet in Normandy, and threatened an invasion of England. Henry
was forced to arm and pay a vast array of shire levies to meet the
attack, but when it came (1545) the French were only able to land and
make a raid in the Isle of Wight. They drew back after fruitlessly
demonstrating against Portsmouth and burning a few English ships.
The balance of gain in the war was actually in favour of Henry, who
had taken Boulogne (1544), and proved able to retain it against all
attempts, till it was ceded to him by France at the peace of 1546.

[Sidenote: =Debasement of the currency.=]

But the struggles with France and Scotland had the most disastrous
effects on the finances of the realm. Henry had wasted all the wealth
that he had wrested from the monasteries, and now, to fill his pockets,
tried the unrighteous expedient of debasing the currency. English
money, which had been hitherto the best and purest in Europe, was
horribly misused by him. He put one-sixth of copper into the gold
sovereign, and one-half and afterwards two-thirds of copper into the
silver shilling, to the lamentable defrauding of his subjects, who
found that English money would no longer be accepted by Continental
traders, though previously it had been more esteemed than that of any
other country.

[Sidenote: =Growth of pauperism.=]

The debasement of the coinage was only one of the many symptoms of
misgovernment which embittered the end of Henry's reign. The general
upheaval of society caused by the overthrow of the monasteries, and
the sudden transfer of their enormous estates to new holders, had
given rise to much distress. Not only were the paupers who had lived
on the monks' doles, and the pilgrims who had been wont to wander
from abbey to abbey, thrown on the world to beg, but many of the old
tenant farmers were displaced. For the new owners often preferred
sheep-breeding to agriculture, and drove out the cottiers who had
been wont to hold a few acres under the old-fashioned management
of the monastic bodies. Contemporary writers speak bitterly of the
plague of "sturdy and valiant beggars" who flooded the land--unfrocked
monks, pilgrims whose trade was over, disbanded soldiers, and evicted
peasantry. The king and his Parliament issued the most ferocious laws
against these vagrants--when apprehended they were to be branded, and
given as serfs for two years to any one who chose to ask for their
services. If caught a second time, they were liable to be hung as

[Sidenote: =Execution of the Earl of Surrey.=]

To complete this gloomy picture, there only remains to be added the
story of the king's last outburst of suspicion and cruelty. Conceiving
that the Duke of Norfolk and his son, the Earl of Surrey, were counting
on his approaching death to make an attempt to seize the regency, he
had them both apprehended, though nothing definite could be alleged
against them, save that of late they had taken to quartering the royal
arms in their family shield--a distinction to which they were entitled
as descended from Edward III. Surrey, a soldier of great promise and
a poet of considerable power, was beheaded; his father was doomed to
follow him, had not the king's death intervened. It is even said that
Henry, in one of his more irritable moods, was threatening to try his
blameless wife, Queen Catherine, for concealed Protestantism.

[Sidenote: =Death of Henry.--Condition of England.=]

But to the general relief of England, Henry died before this last
crime could be consummated (January 28, 1547). He left his realm in a
condition of great misery, and for all its troubles he was personally
responsible. His breach with the papacy had been the result of
private pique, not of conscience or principle. When committed to the
anti-Roman cause, he had refused to move forward with the one half
of his subjects, or to remain behind with the other. He had anchored
the English Church for a time in a middle position, intolerable
alike to Protestant Reformers and to the Partisans of the Papacy and
subjection to Rome. If the nation owed him a certain debt of gratitude
for not committing England to some of the excesses of Continental
Protestantism, yet it owed him no thanks for officering the Church
with a hierarchy of bishops, some of whom, like Cranmer, were meanly
timid and pliant, while others were men of low ideals and unworthy
lives, the mere creatures of court favour. Nor is it possible to view
with equanimity the way in which Henry wasted on pageants, foreign
intrigues, and fawning courtiers, the vast sums which the State had
acquired by the very proper and necessary abolition of the monasteries.

Of Henry's unbounded selfishness, of his ingratitude to those who had
served him best, of his ruthless cruelty to all who stood in his way,
we need not further speak. The story of his reign develops each of
these traits in its own particular blackness.

[Sidenote: =Henry's foreign policy.=]

Some historians have endeavoured to justify Henry's wavering foreign
policy, and all his forcible-feeble wars with Continental powers, by
the plea that, if he got no gain in land or gold thereby, yet he raised
England to a higher place among European nations than she had held in
his father's day. But this statement seems unwise. Henry, though much
flattered and courted at times, was in fact the mere dupe of Francis I.
and Charles V., each of whom cheated him again and again, and left him
hopelessly in the lurch. England's growing wealth and power would have
won her back her proper place in Europe far better than Henry's chaotic
intrigues. His whole foreign policy was a mistake and a tangle from
first to last.

[Sidenote: =The regency.--The Duke of Somerset Protector.=]

It remained to be seen who would now sway the sword and sceptre that
the dead tyrant had gripped so firmly. In his last years Henry had
surrounded himself by ministers less notable and less capable than
Wolsey or Cromwell. The chief place was held by his brother-in-law,
Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford, the brother of the unfortunate Queen
Jane, and the uncle of Prince Edward, the heir to the crown. It was
natural that the charge of the young king--a bright and promising, but
delicate lad, now in his tenth year--should fall to his uncle; but the
late king, distrusting Hertford's wisdom, had left the regency, not
to him individually, but to a council of sixteen members, of which he
was but the president. Seymour, however, succeeded in getting a more
complete control over his colleagues than had been intended, mainly
by bribing them to consent with titles and large gifts of money. They
allowed him to make himself "Protector of the realm and of the king's
person," and to create himself Duke of Somerset. In return he made
the two chief members of the council earls; Wriothsley, head of the
Anglo-Catholic party, became Earl of Southampton; Dudley--son of that
Dudley who had paid with his head for serving Henry VII. too well--was
created Earl of Warwick.

[Sidenote: =Protestantism of Somerset.--First English Prayer-book.=]

Having seized the reins of power, the Duke of Somerset soon showed
himself a man of a character very different from the late king's
expectation. Instead of pursuing the middle course of Anglo-Catholic
policy which Henry had always marked out, he threw himself at once into
the hands of the Protestants. His first actions were directed towards
the completion of the Reformation, by sweeping away all those remnants
of the old faith which the late king had retained himself and imposed
upon his subjects. Henry VIII. had issued the Bible in English, and
caused the Litany and certain other parts of the Church service to be
said in the national tongue. But Somerset abolished the use of the
Latin language altogether, and caused the Communion Service and all the
rest of the rites of the Church to be celebrated in English. By the
end of 1548 he had authorized the issue of the "First Book of Common
Prayer," the earliest form of our own Anglican Prayer-book. Cranmer had
the chief part in its compilation, and his great gifts of expression
are borne witness to by many of the most spiritual and beautiful
prayers of our splendid and sonorous liturgy. When the fear of Henry
had been removed from his mind, Cranmer showed himself an undoubted
Protestant; but he was a moderate man, and spared many old rites and
customs, harmless in themselves, from a love of conservatism. The
Prayer-book was well received by all save the extreme Romanists, and
the few partisans of Continental Protestantism who complained that it
did not go far enough.

If the introduction of the English Prayer-book was both popular and
necessary, it was far otherwise with the measures which accompanied it.
Somerset's first year of rule was the time of the demolition of all the
old church ornaments and furniture, which the Protestants condemned as
mere idols and lumber. Not only were the images and pictures removed,
but much beautiful carved work and stained glass was ruthlessly broken
up. This was done with an irreverence and violence which deeply shocked
the majority of the nation, and Somerset's agents made no distinction
between monuments of superstition and harmless works of religious art.
Two of the bishops, Bonner of London and Gardiner of Winchester, who
ventured to oppose the Protector's doings, were placed in honourable

[Sidenote: =Invasion of Scotland.--Battle of Pinkie.=]

While England was disturbed with these changes, many of them rational
and necessary, but all of them hasty and rash, Somerset had succeeded
in plunging the realm into two foreign wars. The English party north
of the Tweed had promised the hand of their little five-year-old Queen
Mary to King Edward, but when they proved unable to fulfil their
promise, owing to the hatred of the majority of the Scots for England,
the Protector resolved to use coercive measures. He declared war, and
invaded the Lowlands in the autumn of 1547, wasting the country before
him till he was met by the whole levy of Scotland on the hillside
of Pinkie, near Musselborough. There he inflicted on them a bloody
defeat, but gained no advantage thereby; for the Scots sent their
child-queen over to France, to keep her safe from English hands, and
when she reached the court of Henry II. she was wedded to his son,
the Dauphin Francis. Thus Somerset entirely lost the object of his
campaign, and only earned the desperate hate of the Scots for the
carnage of Pinkie.

[Sidenote: =Plots and Rebellions in England.=]

The war with Scotland brought about a war with France, in which the
Protector wasted much money. The struggle went against the English,
and ultimately led to the loss of Boulogne, the sole conquest of
Henry VIII. While this war was in progress, Somerset was involved in
serious troubles within the bounds of England itself. He detected his
own brother, Lord Seymour of Sudely, plotting to marry the Princess
Elizabeth, and oust him from the regency. Seymour was pardoned once,
but, on renewing his conspiracy, was apprehended and beheaded. But
domestic plots were less to be feared than popular risings. In 1548-49
two dangerous rebellions broke out in West and East. In Devonshire the
old Catholic party rose in arms, clamouring for the restoration of the
Mass and the suppression of Protestantism. In the Eastern Counties an
insurrection of another sort was seen; the peasantry banded themselves
together under the tanner Robert Ket, who called himself the "King of
Norfolk and Suffolk." They dreamed of a social revolution such as that
which Wat Tyler had demanded in an earlier age, though their grievances
were not the same as those of the fourteenth century. They complained
of the rapacity of the new landholders who had superseded the old
monastic bodies, and who were evicting the old peasantry right and
left, and turning farms into sheep-runs, because wool paid better than
corn. The enclosure of common lands, the debasement of the coinage, and
the slowness and inefficacy of the law when used by the poor man, were
also denounced. Ket and his fellows began seizing and trying unpopular
landholders, and spoke of making a clean sweep of the upper classes.

[Sidenote: =Ket's rebellion put down.=]

Now, the Protector had no scruple in putting down the rising of the
Devonshire Papists with great severity, but he felt that the Norfolk
men had great excuses for their anger, and did not deal promptly and
sternly with them. Ket's rising became very dangerous, and it seemed
as if anarchy would set in all over the Eastern Counties. The rebels
defeated the Marquis of Northampton, and stormed Norwich; they were
only dispersed at last by Dudley, the Earl of Warwick, who marched
against them with a mercenary force which had been collected for the
Scottish war, and routed them on Mousehold Heath. Ket was then hung,
and the rebellion subsided.

[Sidenote: =Deposition of Somerset.=]

Somerset's mismanagement and weakness had so disgusted his colleagues
in the regency that, after the eastern rebellion, they resolved to
depose him from the Protectorship. Finding that he could count on small
support, and that the council would be able to turn against him the
armies which had pacified Norfolk and Devon, he wisely laid down his
power. He was sent for a short time to the Tower, but soon the council
released him, and gave him a place among them (1550).

[Sidenote: =Earl of Warwick Protector.=]

Somerset's place was taken by John Dudley, the Earl of Warwick, son
of the extortionate minister of Henry VII. The new Protector was far
more unscrupulous and corrupt than his predecessor. Somerset had been
a well-meaning if an incapable ruler. Warwick was purely self-seeking,
and cared nothing for national ends. He showed himself not much more
competent as a ruler than the man he had overthrown, but he kept his
power more firmly than Somerset, because he never hesitated to strike
down all who opposed him, without any regard for justice or mercy.

[Sidenote: =His religious policy.--Second Book of Common Prayer.=]

Warwick, finding the Protestant party in the ascendant, used them
for his own ends, though in reality he was perfectly indifferent to
religion. His tendencies were shown by the appointment of several
bishops of ultra-Protestant views, and by the issuing of the "Second
Book of Common Prayer," to supersede the first. In this volume strong
signs of the influence of Continental Protestantism are found, and the
many traces of the pre-Reformation ritual were swept away.

Warwick's administration (1550-53) was no happier than Somerset's. He
was forced to make a humiliating peace with France, and to surrender
Boulogne. Though he began to reform the coinage by issuing good silver
money, yet he made the change harmful to the people by refusing to take
back the old base money at the rate at which it had been issued,[32]
and by actually uttering a considerable amount of debased money himself.

[Sidenote: =Marriage of his son and Lady Jane Grey.=]

But reckless self-seeking was the main key-note of Warwick's rule.
He employed his power unscrupulously to enrich both himself and his
family. He took for himself the title of Duke of Northumberland, and
ere long allied himself to the royal house by marrying his younger
son, Guildford Dudley, to the king's cousin, Lady Jane Grey, the
granddaughter of the Princess Mary, the favourite sister of Henry VIII.
This alliance led him into schemes which were to prove his ruin. The
young king was a bright and precocious boy, showing signs of capacity
and strength of will beyond his years. If he had lived, he would have
been a man of mark, for already in his sixteenth year he was showing
a keen interest in politics and religion, and a tendency to think for
himself. But he was incurably delicate, and by 1553 was obviously
falling into consumption.

[Sidenote: =The succession to the crown.--Will of Henry VIII.=]

Dudley saw that his power was bound to vanish on the king's death, if
the law of succession was maintained, and the king's eldest sister
Mary, the child of Catherine of Aragon, allowed to succeed. The late
king had drawn up a will, in which he indicated that, if Edward died,
he should be followed first by Mary, and then by her younger sister
Elizabeth, the daughter of Anne Boleyn. Henry had then added that,
if all his children died heirless, he left the crown to the issue of
his favourite sister Mary, the Duchess of Suffolk, and not to the
descendants of his elder sister, Margaret of Scotland.

[Sidenote: =Edward VI. bequeaths the crown to Lady Jane Grey.=]

Now, Lady Jane Grey, the heiress of Mary of Suffolk, was in
Northumberland's hands, through her marriage with his son. Accordingly,
the duke resolved to persuade the young king to cut his sisters out of
the succession, and leave the crown by will to his cousin. The pretext
used was that both Mary and Elizabeth were illegitimate, the marriages
of Catherine and of Anne to Henry VIII. having both been declared void
at different times by the obsequious Parliaments of the last reign. It
was, of course, utterly absurd that a boy of sixteen should have the
power to make a will transferring the crown, for by English usage the
king's title depended on hereditary right and Parliamentary sanction,
not on the arbitrary decision of his predecessor. It was entirely
unconstitutional to think of disinheriting the two princesses by a mere
private document drawn up by their brother. But the young king was
persuaded to grant his guardian's request, mainly because he feared
the Romanist reaction which he knew would follow on the accession of
his elder sister, who had always remained an obstinate adherent of the

[Sidenote: =Execution of Somerset.=]

Long before the king's death, Northumberland had taken all the measures
which he thought necessary for carrying out this arbitrary change in
the succession. He had packed the council with his hired partisans,
and swept away the only man that he feared, his predecessor Somerset.
For noting that the late Protector was regaining popularity, and might
prove a check upon him, he suddenly laid against him charges of treason
and felony, alleging that he was plotting to regain the regency by
force of arms. The unfortunate Somerset was condemned and executed,
to the great indignation of the people, who esteemed his good heart,
though they had doubted his judgment (1552).

All through the following year King Edward's health was failing, and
Dudley was perfecting his plans. In the summer of 1553 the young king
wasted away, and slowly sank into his grave. His cousin, Lady Jane, was
at once proclaimed queen by the unscrupulous Protector.


[32] He would only take back as sixpences the base testoons (or
shillings) which Somerset had paid out from the treasury at full value,
alleging truly enough that they had but 4-1/2_d._ of good silver in




[Sidenote: =England loyal to Princess Mary.=]

The death of Edward VI. gave the signal for the outbreak of trouble all
over England. The nation had acquiesced in the selfish and unscrupulous
government of Northumberland solely because of its loyalty to the
young king. When Edward passed away, it became at once evident that
the Protector's power had no firm base, and that his attempt to change
the succession would be fruitless. For every man, the Protestant no
less than the Catholic, was fully persuaded that the Princess Mary was
the true heir to the crown, and there was no party in the state--save
the personal adherents of Dudley--who were prepared to strike a blow
against her.

[Sidenote: =Lady Jane Grey proclaimed queen.=]

Meanwhile, however, the Protector proclaimed his daughter-in-law queen
in London, though citizens and courtiers alike maintained an attitude
of cold disapproval. The Lady Jane was personally well liked; she was
an innocent girl of seventeen, who loved her husband and her books, and
had no knowledge or skill in affairs of state. But every one knew that
she was a usurper--a fact which no personal merits could gloze over.

[Sidenote: =Collapse and execution of Northumberland.=]

Northumberland directed his first efforts to seize the person of the
Princess Mary. He sent his son, the Earl of Warwick, to lay hands
on her, but she escaped and fled into the Eastern Counties, where
the gentry of Norfolk and Suffolk, the most Protestant shires in the
kingdom, hailed her as queen, and armed to defend her. Warwick's troops
dispersed when he strove to induce them to attack the followers of
the rightful heiress. This alarming symptom startled the Protector
out of his security; he raised a larger force and set out at once to
suppress the rising. But the moment that he had left London there was
an outbreak in the capital itself. The majority of the royal council,
when Northumberland's eye was off them, threw in their lot with the
rioters, and London fell into the hands of Mary's partisans. Nor was
this all. The whole of the shires from north to south rose in Mary's
favour, and the Protector, who had marched as far as Cambridge, saw his
army melt away from him. When the Earl of Arundel came against him in
the name of the rightful queen, he was constrained to give up his sword
and yield himself a prisoner. He was brought back to London, tried,
and condemned for high treason. His last days showed the meanness
of his character; for, in the hope of propitiating the queen, he
declared himself a Catholic, heard Mass, and made fulsome and degrading
protestations of contrition and humility. They did not save his life,
for he was beheaded, to the great joy of all England, only six weeks
after the death of Edward VI. (August 22, 1553). Mary cast into prison
all Northumberland's tools: the unfortunate Lady Jane--queen for just
thirteen days--her husband Lord Guildford Dudley, her father the Duke
of Suffolk, and most of the Dudley kin. For the present they suffered
no further harm.

[Sidenote: =The fanaticism of Mary.=]

The rightful heiress was now set upon the throne, and England
had leisure to look on her and learn her moods. Mary was in her
thirty-ninth year. Ever since her unfortunate mother's divorce she
had been living in neglect and seclusion; her father had stigmatized
her as a bastard, and her brother had kept her from court. For twenty
years she had been nursing her own and her mother's wrongs in lonely
country manors, denied all the state and deference that were her due,
and closely supervised by the underlings of the Crown. It was small
wonder that she had grown up discontented, suspicious, and morose. One
help had sustained her through all her troubles--her intense faith
in the old creed, which she believed to be true, and therefore bound
to triumph in the end. _Veritas temporis filia_ was her favourite
motto.[33] Mary's Catholicism was something more than earnest; it was
a devouring flame, ready to consume all that stood in its way. She was
set on avenging all the blood that had been shed by her father, all
the insults to the old faith that had been inflicted by the ministers
of her brother. She thought that she had come with a mission not merely
to reconcile England to the papacy, but to scourge her for her past

The nation did not yet know of the habits of mind which its mistress
harboured. The Protestants were ready to acquiesce in her rule; the
majority, who were neither Protestants nor Papists, trusted that she
was about to take up the middle course that her father had chosen; the
Romanist minority hardly expected more than this from her at the first.
But Mary's actions soon showed that she was set on a more violent
reaction; not only did she release from bonds the imprisoned bishops,
Bonner and Gardiner, the old Duke of Norfolk--a captive since 1547--and
all others who had suffered under her father and brother, but she
began to molest those who had taken a prominent part in the religious
doings of the late reign. Proceedings were begun against ten Protestant
bishops, including Cranmer, the Primate of England, before she had been
two months on the throne. Some of them fled over seas; the others were
caught and put into confinement. The restoration of the Latin Mass was
everywhere commanded. All married clergy were threatened with removal
from their benefices. Mary began to speak openly of placing her realm
under the supremacy of the Pope, and even of restoring to the Church
all the monastic estates that her father had appropriated, an idea
which filled every landowner with dismay.

[Sidenote: =Projected marriage with Philip of Spain.=]

Meanwhile, another project was filling Mary's brain. She was determined
to marry, and to rear up a Catholic heir to the throne; for she hated
her half-sister, the Princess Elizabeth--Anne Boleyn's child--and
utterly refused to acknowledge her legitimacy, or to own her as her
next of kin. Mary had conceived a romantic affection on hearsay
evidence for her cousin, Philip of Spain, the son and heir of the
Emperor Charles V., a young prince twelve years her junior, whose
charms and merits had been grossly overpraised to her by interested
persons. The prospect of winning England for his son allured the
Emperor, and he warmly pressed the marriage, though Philip did not view
with satisfaction the pursuit of such an elderly bride.

[Sidenote: =Unpopularity of the Spanish match.=]

When the queen's intention of wedding Philip of Spain began to be
known, it led to great discontent, for such a match implied not only a
close union with the papal party on the Continent, but the resumption
of the war with France, which had brought so much loss and so little
gain under Henry VIII. and Edward VI.; for Spain and France were still
involved in their standing struggle for domination on the Continent,
and alliance with the one meant war with the other.

[Sidenote: =Wyatt's rebellion.=]

When the queen's betrothal to Philip was announced, trouble at once
followed. The Protestant party had viewed with dismay the restoration
of the Mass, and foresaw persecution close at hand; many who were
not Protestants were anxious to stop the Spanish marriage and the
renewal of the foreign war. Hence came the breaking out of a dangerous
rebellion, aiming at Mary's deposition, and the substitution for her of
her sister Elizabeth, who was, however, kept in ignorance of the plot.
The conspirators intended her to marry Edward Courtenay, Earl of Devon,
son of the Courtenay, Marquis of Exeter, whom Henry VIII. had beheaded
in 1539, and last heir of the house of York. Courtenay himself, a vain
and incapable young man, was not the real head of the conspiracy, which
was mainly guided by the Duke of Suffolk--the father of Lady Jane
Grey--and by Sir Thomas Wyatt, a young knight of Kent. Courtenay's
babbling folly betrayed the plot too soon, and the conspirators had to
rise before they were ready. Their armed bands were easily crushed in
all parts of England save in Kent; Wyatt raised 10,000 men in that very
Protestant county, and boldly marched on London. The Government had no
sufficient force ready to hold him back, and he nearly succeeded in
seizing the capital and the queen's person, for many of the Londoners
were ready to throw open the gates to him. But the queen induced him
to halt for a day by sending offers for an accommodation, and when he
reached London Bridge he found it so strongly held that after some
heavy fighting he gave up the passage as impossible, and started
westward to cross the Thames at Kingston. This delay saved Mary. She
displayed great courage and activity, hurried up to London all the
trustworthy gentry within her reach, persuaded many of the citizens to
arm in her favour, and was able to offer a firm resistance when Wyatt
at last appeared in Middlesex and pressed on into the western suburbs
of the city. The queen's troops and the insurgents fought a running
fight from Knightsbridge to Charing Cross; Wyatt, with the head of his
column, cut his way down the Strand as far as Ludgate Hill, but his
main body was broken up and dispersed, and he himself, after a gallant
struggle, was taken prisoner at Temple Bar.

[Sidenote: =Harsh measures of Mary.=]

Mary had much excuse for severity against the conquered rebels, but
her vengeance went far beyond the bounds of wisdom. Wyatt was cruelly
tortured to make him implicate the Princess Elizabeth in the plot,
but died protesting that he had acted without her knowledge. Suffolk
and his brother, Sir Thomas Grey, were beheaded; eighty of the more
important rebels were hung; but in addition the unpardonable crime of
slaying Lady Jane Grey was committed. She and her husband had been
prisoners all the time of the rising, but Mary thought the opportunity
of getting rid of her too good to be lost, and beheaded both her
and Lord Guildford Dudley, on the vain pretence that they had been
concerned in the conspiracy. The young ex-queen suffered with a dignity
and constancy that moved all hearts, affirming to the last her firm
adherence to the Protestant faith, and her innocence of all treasonable
intent against her cousin (February 12, 1554). There seems little
doubt that the queen's own sister, the Princess Elizabeth, would have
shared Lady Jane's fate, if only sufficient evidence against her could
have been procured. The incapable Earl of Devon owed his life to his
insignificance, and was banished after a long sojourn in the Tower.

[Sidenote: =Marriage with Philip.--Submission to Rome.=]

Victorious over her enemies, Queen Mary was now able to carry out
her unwise plans without hindrance. In July, 1554, Philip of Spain
came over from Flanders, and wedded her at Winchester. In the same
autumn a Parliament, elected under strong royal pressure, voted in
favour of reconciliation with Rome, and a complete acknowledgment
of the papal supremacy. In the capacity of Legate to England, there
appeared Reginald Pole, a long-exiled English cardinal of Yorkist
blood, brother of that Lord Montagu whom Henry VIII. had slain in
1539. He solemnly absolved the two Houses of Parliament from the
papal excommunication which so long had lain upon the land. Shortly
afterwards the submission of the realm to the papacy was celebrated
in the most typical way by the solemn re-enacting of the cruel statute
of Henry IV., _De Heretico Comburendo_, which made the stake once more
the doom of all who refused to obey the Pope. Mary herself, a fanatical
party among her bishops, of whom Bonner of London was the worst, and
the Legate must all take their share of the responsibility for this
crime. The queen had her wrongs to revenge; the bishops had suffered
long in prison under King Edward; Pole had been accused by his enemies
of Lutheranism, and was anxious to vindicate his orthodoxy by showing a
readiness to put Protestants to death.

[Sidenote: =Persecution of the Protestants--Latimer and Ridley.=]

From the moment of the enacting of the laws against heresy (January,
1555), the history of Mary's reign became a catalogue of horrors. Even
the callous Philip of Spain, moved by policy if not by pity, besought
his wife to hold her hand. But Mary was inflexible. The burnings began
with those of Hooper, Bishop of Gloucester, and Rogers, Prebendary of
St. Paul's, in February, 1555. They went steadily on at the rate of
about ten persons a month, till the queen's death. The persecution
raged worst in London, the see of the rough and harsh Bishop Bonner; in
Canterbury, where Pole succeeded Cranmer; and in the Eastern Counties;
there were comparatively few victims in the West and North. As cautious
men fled over-sea, and weak men conformed to the queen's faith, it was
precisely the most fervent and pious of the Protestants who suffered.
The sight of so many men of godly life and blameless conversation
going to the stake for their faith, achieved the end that neither the
sternness of Henry VIII. nor the violence of Northumberland had been
able to secure--it practically converted England to Protestantism. The
bigoted queen was always remembered by the English as "Bloody Mary;"
her victims as "the Martyrs." A few of them deserve special mention:
Latimer, Bishop of Worcester, and Ridley, Bishop of London, were burnt
together under the walls of Oxford, on September 7, 1555, after being
kept in prison for two years. They had been well known as the best
of the Protestant bishops, and Latimer's fearless sermons had often
protested, in the presence of the late king and the Protectors, against
the self-seeking and corruption of the court. "Play the man, Master
Ridley," said Latimer, when he and his companion stood at the stake;
"for we shall this day light such a candle in England, as by the grace
of God shall never be put out."

[Sidenote: =Cranmer burnt.=]

Six months later there suffered a man of weaker and more vacillating
faith, Archbishop Cranmer, against whom the queen was especially
bitter, because he had pronounced her mother's divorce. Cranmer was a
man of real piety, but wholly destitute of moral courage. His jailors
forced him to witness the burning of Ridley and Latimer, in order to
shake his courage, and subjected him to many harassing trials and
cross-examinations, under which his spirit at last broke down. Yielding
to a moment of weakness, and lured by a false hint that he might save
his life by recantation, he consented to be received back into the
Roman Communion. But when he found that his enemies were set upon his
death, he refused to conform, bade the multitude assembled in St.
Mary's Church at Oxford "beware of the Pope, Christ's enemy, a very
Antichrist with all his false doctrine," and went with firmness to the
stake, thrusting first into the flames the right hand with which he had
written his promise to recant (March, 1556).

Altogether there suffered in the Marian persecution five bishops and
about 300 others, among whom were included several women and even
children. Mary looked upon her wicked doings not merely as righteous
in themselves, but as a means of moving Heaven in her favour for the
great end that she had in view--the raising up of a Catholic heir. Her
heart was set on bearing a son, and when this was denied her, she fell
into a state of gloomy depression. Her morbid and hysterical temper
rendered her insufferable to her husband Philip, who betook himself
to the Continent, where his father, Charles V., was about to abdicate
in his favour. After he became King of Spain (1556) he only paid one
short visit to his English realm and his jealous wife, and escaped as
quickly as he might. Mary remained a prey to melancholy and disease,
and obstinately persisted in "working out her salvation" by faggot and
stake. The country grew more and more discontented; conspiracy was
rife, fostered by the exiled Protestants, who had gathered in Paris,
and tried to excite rebellion by the aid of the King of France. Their
efforts nearly cost the life of the Princess Elizabeth, whom the queen
kept in confinement, and would have slain if her cautious sister had
not been wise enough to avoid all suspicion of offence.

[Sidenote: =War with France.--Loss of Calais.=]

The war with France, which was the necessary consequence of the Spanish
match, proved very disastrous for England. Mary's ministers gave Philip
no very useful help, while, on the other hand, they contrived to
lose the last Continental possession of the Crown. Calais, which had
remained in English hands ever since Edward III. captured it in 1346,
was suddenly invested by the Duke of Guise, who commanded the French
army of the North. The garrison was caught unprepared, and was very
weak in numbers. After a few days' siege it was forced to yield, before
any help could come either from England or Spain (January, 1558). This
disgrace told heavily on the queen's health; she cried that when she
died "Calais" would be found written on her heart, and fell into a
deeper melancholy than before.

Yet her miserable life was protracted ten months longer, and she
survived till November, 1558, racked by disease, and calling in vain
for her absent husband, yet persecuting vigorously to the last. Her
cousin and adviser, Cardinal Pole, died within three days of her.

So ended Mary Tudor, who in five years had rendered Romanism more
hateful in the eyes of Englishmen than five centuries of papal
aggression had availed to make it, and who had by her persecutions
caused the adoption of Protestantism under her successor to become


[33] For example, she chose it for her coinage.




When Mary Tudor had passed away unwept and unregretted, all England
heaved a sigh of relief, and turned to do homage to her sister
Elizabeth. The daughter of Anne Boleyn was now a young woman of
twenty-five. She had been living for the last five years in almost
continual peril of her life, and had required all her caution to
keep herself from the two snares which lay about her--the dangers of
being accused of treason on the one hand and of heresy on the other.
Fortunately for herself, Elizabeth was politic and cautious even to
excess--all through her reign her most trusted ministers were often
unable to discern her real thoughts and wishes--so that she came
unharmed through her sister's reign of terror.

[Sidenote: =The religious crisis.=]

But when the lords of the council came flocking to Hatfield--the place
of her honourable confinement--to salute her as queen, Elizabeth knew
that her feet were still set in slippery places. The ultra-Catholic
party was still in power, and the large majority of the nation were
professing Romanists; on the other hand, she knew that her sister had
made the name of Rome hateful, and there was a powerful and active band
of Protestants, some in exile and some at home, who were ready to rush
in and violently reverse all that Mary had done, if the new sovereign
would give them any encouragement. Moreover, there was grave danger
abroad: England was in the midst of war with France, yet Philip of
Spain, the late queen's husband, was likely to be more dangerous than
even the King of France, for it was obvious that he would be loth to
let England out of his grasp, after he had profited by her alliance for
four years.

[Sidenote: =The queen's attitude.=]

Elizabeth's personal predilections, like those of her father, were in
favour neither of Romanism nor of Protestantism. She did not wish to be
the slave of the Pope, nor did she intend to be the tool of the zealots
who had picked up in their Continental exile the newest doctrines of
the Swiss and German Reformers. At the same time, she wished to offend
neither the Catholic nor the Protestant, but to lead them both into
the _via media_ of an English National Church, which should be both
orthodox and independent. She was not a woman of much spiritual piety
or fervent zeal, and, judging from her own feelings, argued that it
would be possible to make others conform, without much difficulty, to
the Church which offered the happy mean.

[Sidenote: =The extreme Romanists.=]

Her position, however, was settled for her by the obstinacy of the
extreme Romanists. The bishops whom Mary had appointed behaved in the
most arrogant and insulting manner to her. When she had been duly
saluted as queen by the nation and the Parliament, they tacitly denied
her right to the throne; for with one accord they refused to be present
at her coronation, much more to place the crown upon her head. In the
view of the strict Papist, she was a bastard and a usurper. It was with
great difficulty that a single bishop--Oglethorpe, of Carlisle--was at
last persuaded to officiate at the ceremony. This senseless obstinacy
on the part of the prelates drove Elizabeth further in the direction
of Protestantism than she had intended to go. She was constrained
to send for the exiled Protestant bishops of King Edward's making,
and to replace them in their sees. The disloyal Romanist prelates
were deposed, and in their places new men were consecrated by the
restored Protestant bishops. Elizabeth took care that they should be
moderate personages, who might be trusted not to give trouble; the most
important of them was the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Matthew Parker,
a wise and pious man, who guided the Church of England through the
crisis with singular discretion.

[Sidenote: =Protestant reforms.--Adhesion of the moderate Catholics.=]

As it was impossible to conciliate the extreme Romanists, the queen
resolved to take up her father's position, with some modifications in
the direction of Protestantism. Unlike Henry VIII., she did not call
herself Supreme Head of the Church, but all her subjects were summoned
to take the oath of spiritual obedience to her. Only a few hundred
persons refused it, though among them were all the old bishops. But
the moderate Catholics accepted her, though they did not sacrifice
their faith to their loyalty. Elizabeth then issued a new Liturgy to
be the standard of the Creed of the English Church: it was a revision
of the Second Prayer-book of Edward VI., amended in such a way as to
make it less expressive of the views of the extreme Protestants. The
Latin Mass was forbidden, and all the old ceremonies, which Mary had
restored, were again swept away. There was, however, no attempt at
enforcing obedience by persecution. Elizabeth had taken warning by
the fate of her brother's and her sister's measures, and trusted to
loyalty and national feeling, not to prison or stake. She was wise in
her generation, for in ten years well-nigh all the moderate Catholics
had conformed to the Anglican formularies, rallying to the national
church when they saw that it was not to become ultra-Protestant. Their
adhesion was the more easily effected because the Pope, on purely
political grounds, did not excommunicate Elizabeth, or declare her
deposed, so that to hold to the old faith was not yet inconsistent with
loyalty to the Crown.

[Sidenote: =Philip of Spain.=]

Ere Elizabeth's religious bent had been clearly ascertained, her
widowed brother-in-law, Philip of Spain, had proposed that she should
marry him, for he was much set on maintaining his hold on England.
Elizabeth detested him, and steadfastly refused the offer, but with a
show of politeness, lest she might bring war on herself. Fearing that
when foiled Philip might become dangerous, she made peace and alliance
with his enemy, the King of France, and left Calais in his hands,
receiving instead a sum of 500,000 crowns.

[Sidenote: =Character of the queen.=]

Thus Elizabeth had tided over the first difficulties of her reign, and
felt her throne growing firmer beneath her, though there were still
dangers on every side. But her character was well suited to cope with
the situation. Though marred by many failings peculiarly feminine, she
had a man's brain and decision. She was vain of her handsome person,
and loved to be flattered and worshipped; but her vanity was not great
enough to induce her to put herself under the hand of a husband. She
listened to suitor after suitor, but said them nay in the end. Only one
of them ever seems to have touched her heart--this was Robert Dudley,
Earl of Leicester, the son of Protector Northumberland. Though much
taken with his comely face, the queen had strength of mind to deny him
her hand, seeing that marriage with a subject would bring too many
feuds and jealousies in its train. She consoled herself with pageants
and pleasures, for which she retained a curious zest even far into her
old age. Every one has heard of her elaborate toilette and her thousand
gowns, and of how she danced before foreign ambassadors after she had
passed the age of sixty.

But the vanity and love of pleasure which she inherited from her
mother, Anne Boleyn, were of comparatively little moment in the
ordering of the queen's life, because her clear and cold brain
dominated her desires. Elizabeth was as cautious, as suspicious, and
as secretive, as her grandfather Henry VII. She was very unscrupulous
in her diplomacy, and did not stick at a lie when an evasion would no
longer serve. Though she had plenty of courage for moments of danger,
yet she always put off the struggle as long as possible, holding
that every day of respite that she gained might chance to give some
unexpected end to the crisis. It is undoubted that she missed many
opportunities owing to this cautious slowness, but she also saved
herself from many traps into which a more hasty politician would have
fallen. We shall have to notice, again and again, her reluctance
to interfere in the wars of the Continent, even when it had become
inevitable that she must ultimately choose her side. This same caution
made her a very economical ruler. She grudged every penny that was
spent--except, indeed, the outgoings of her own privy purse--and often
pushed parsimony to the most unwise extreme. The very fleet that
defeated the Spanish Armada ran short both of powder and provisions
before the fighting was quite over.

[Sidenote: =Her popularity.=]

The English much admired their politic, unscrupulous, and parsimonious
queen. They saw only that she gave them good and cheap governance,
kept the kingdom out of unnecessary wars, and was, on the whole, both
tolerant and merciful. As they watched her pick her way successfully
through so many snares and perils, they came to look upon her as a
sort of second Providence, and credited her with an almost superhuman
sagacity and omniscience, which she was far from possessing. But they
were not altogether wrong in their confidence; she was, in spite of her
faults and foibles, a patriotic, clear-headed, hard-working sovereign,
who did her best for her people as well as for herself. Above all, she
had the invaluable gift of choosing her servants well; her two great
ministers, Cecil and Walsingham, were the most capable men in England
for their work, and she seldom failed to appreciate merit when once she
cast her eye upon it.

[Sidenote: =Renewed peace and prosperity.=]

For the first twelve years of Elizabeth's rule, England was occupied
in slowly settling down after the storms of the last two reigns. The
English Church was gradually absorbing the moderate men from both the
Protestant and the Romanist ranks. Quiet times were repairing the
wealth of the land, and the restoration of the purity of the coinage,
which was the queen's earliest care, had put trade once more on a
healthy basis. Foreign war was easily avoided; in France Henry II. died
ere Elizabeth had reigned a year, and his weak sons had occupation
enough in their civil wars with the Huguenots. Philip of Spain was ere
long to find a similar distraction, from the stirring of discontent
among his much-persecuted Protestant subjects in the Netherlands.

[Sidenote: =Mary Queen of Scots.=]

The chief troubles of the period 1558-68 came from another quarter--the
turbulent kingdom of Scotland. Elizabeth's natural heir was her cousin,
Mary Stuart, the Queen of Scots, who represented the line of Henry
VII.'s eldest daughter. Unless Elizabeth should marry and have issue,
Mary stood next her in the line of succession. The Queen of Scots,
however, was a most undesirable heiress. She had been brought up in
France, had married the eldest son of Henry II. and hated England. She
was a zealous Romanist, and ready to work hard for her faith. Moreover,
she was greatly desirous of being recognized as Elizabeth's next of
kin, and openly laid claim to the position. Though very young, she was
clever and active, and possessed charms of person and manner which bent
many men to her will.

[Sidenote: =The Scottish Reformation.=]

Mary returned from France in 1561, having lost her husband, the
young French king, after he had reigned but a single year. She found
Scotland, as usual, in a state of turmoil and violence. The Parliament
had, in her absence, followed the example of England, by casting off
the Roman yoke, and declaring Protestantism the religion of the land.
But a strong party of Romanist lords refused obedience, and with them
the queen allied herself on her arrival.

[Sidenote: =Darnley and Bothwell.=]

For the seven turbulent years of Mary's stay in Scotland, she was a
grievous thorn in the side of Elizabeth. She was always laying claim
to be acknowledged as heiress to the English crown, and her demand
was secretly approved by the surviving Romanists to the south of the
Tweed. Elizabeth replied by intriguing with the Protestant nobles
of Scotland, and stirred up as much trouble as she could for her
cousin, while outwardly professing the greatest love and esteem for
her. The results of their machinations against each other were still
uncertain, when Mary spoilt her own game by twice allowing her passion
to overrule her judgment. She was fascinated by the handsome person of
her first-cousin, Henry Lord Darnley,[34] and most unwisely married
him, and made him king-consort. Darnley was a vicious, ill-conditioned
young man, and soon made himself unbearable to his wife, by striving
to get the royal power into his hands, and at the same time treating
her with gross cruelty and neglect. His crowning offence was causing
the assassination of Mary's private secretary, Rizzio, in her actual
presence, under circumstances of the greatest brutality. After this,
Mary completely lost her head. She lent her sanction to a plot for
her husband's murder, framed by the Earl of Bothwell, a great lord of
the Border. Bothwell slew the young king and blew up his residence
with gunpowder, but disavowed the deed, and induced the queen to
have him declared guiltless after a mock trial. Mary was well rid of
her husband, and, her complicity in the plot not having been proved,
she might have escaped the consequences of her crime but for a
second fit of infatuation. She had become violently enamoured of the
murderer Bothwell, and suffered him to carry her off to the castle of
Dunbar, and there to marry her. No one now doubted her complicity in
Darnley's murder, and the whole kingdom rose against her in righteous
indignation. The army which Bothwell raised in her defence refused
to strike a blow, and melted away when faced by the levies of the
Protestant lords. The queen herself fell into their hands, was forced
to abdicate, and was condemned to lifelong prison in Lochleven Castle.
In Mary's place, her young son by Darnley, James VI., was proclaimed
as king, the regency being given by the Parliament to James, Earl of
Murray, an illegitimate son of James V. (June, 1567).

Queen Mary being thus imprisoned and discredited, Elizabeth thought
that her troubles on the side of Scotland were over, and closely allied
herself with the Regent Murray. But the struggle was not yet ended. The
Romanist party in Scotland saw that the new Protestant rulers of the
country would crush their faith, and determined on a desperate rising
in favour of their old religion and their old sovereign.

[Sidenote: =Mary flees to England.=]

Mary escaped by night from Lochleven, and joined the insurgents.
The Regent gave chase, and caught her army up at Langside, near
Glasgow. The queen's friends were routed in the fight that followed,
and she herself, riding hard out of the fray, fled for the English
border. After a moment's hesitation, she resolved to throw herself on
Elizabeth's mercy, rather than to face the almost certain death which
awaited her at the hands of her son's adherents. There was no time to
wait for any promise of safe conduct or shelter, and she arrived at
Carlisle, unprotected by any engagement on the part of the Queen of
England (May, 1568).

[Sidenote: =Mary confined In England.--The Casket Letters.=]

Elizabeth's most dangerous enemy had thus fallen into her hands, but
the position was not much simplified by the fact. It had to be decided
whether the royal refugee should be allowed to proceed to France, as
she herself wished; or handed over to the Scots, as the Regent Murray
demanded; or kept in custody in England, as Elizabeth's self-interest
seemed to require. To let her go to France would be generous, but
dangerous; once arrived there, she would conspire with her cousins,
the powerful family of Guise, against the peace of England. To send
her back to Scotland would have some savour of legality about it, but
would be equivalent to pronouncing her death-sentence; and from this
Elizabeth shrank. To keep her captive in England seemed harsh, and even
treacherous; for what right had one sovereign princess to imprison
another? The politic Elizabeth resolved to take a cautious middle
course. She protested to the Queen of Scots that she was willing to
restore her to her throne, if she found that the accusations which her
subjects made against her were untrue. This was practically putting her
guest upon her trial for the murder of Darnley; for when the Regent and
the Scots lords were informed of the decision, they came forward to
accuse their exiled mistress. They laid before Elizabeth's commission
of inquiry the famous "Casket Letters," a series of documents which
had passed between Mary and Bothwell. If genuine--and it seems almost
certain that they were--they proved the guilt and infatuation of the
Queen of Scots up to the hilt. Mary protested that they were forgeries,
and her followers down to this day have believed her. But she refused
to stand any trial; declared that she, a crowned queen and no subject
of England, would never plead before English judges, and demanded leave
to quit the realm. Satisfied with the effect on English and Scottish
public opinion which the "Casket Letters" had produced, Elizabeth
now took the decisive step of consigning Mary to close custody; thus
practically treating her as a criminal, though no decision had been
given against her (January, 1569).

[Sidenote: =Romanist intrigues in Mary's favour.=]

For nearly twenty years the unfortunate Queen of Scots was doomed to
spend a weary life, moved about from one manor or castle to another,
under the care of guardians who were little better than gaolers.
But she soon began to revenge herself. As long as she lived she was
undoubtedly Elizabeth's heiress, if hereditary right counted for
anything. Using this fact as her weapon, she began to intrigue with
English malcontents. She offered her hand to the Duke of Norfolk, an
ambitious young man, who was dazzled by the prospect of succeeding to
Elizabeth's throne. She stirred up the Catholic lords of the North, by
promising to restore the old faith if they would overthrow her cousin.
But Elizabeth's ministers were wary and suspicious; Norfolk's designs
were discovered, and he was cast into the Tower. The news of his
imprisonment led to the immediate outbreak of the Northern Romanists;
Thomas Percy, Earl of Northumberland, and Charles Neville, Earl of
Westmoreland, raised their retainers, and made a dash on Tutbury, where
Mary was confined, intending to rescue her and proclaim her as queen.

[Sidenote: =The "Rising in the North."=]

But the days of the Wars of the Roses were past; the retainers of the
northern lords could do nothing against the royal power, and the
"Rising in the North," as the plot was called, came to an ignominious
end. The two earls failed to seize the person of the Queen of Scots,
and were easily driven away. They fled--the one to Scotland, the other
to Spain,--and gave Elizabeth little further trouble. This was the last
insurrection of the old feudal type in the pages of English history
(October and November, 1569). Elizabeth showed herself more merciful
than might have been expected to the plotters. Norfolk was released
after a short captivity; the Queen of Scots suffered no further
aggravation of her imprisonment. For this she gave her cousin small
thanks, and without delay recommenced plotting to secure her liberty.

[Sidenote: =Religious wars in Europe.=]

Meanwhile the aspect of affairs on the Continent was beginning to
engage more and more of Elizabeth's attention. By this time civil
wars were alight both in France and in the Netherlands. The French
Protestants, or Huguenots, as they were called, had taken arms to
secure themselves toleration as early as 1562. The Protestants of the
Netherlands, after long suffering under the grinding tyranny of Philip
of Spain and the Inquisition, had been driven to revolt in 1568. In
both countries the insurgents appealed for help to Elizabeth; they
implored the queen to save them from the triumph of popery, and pointed
out that if they themselves failed, the victorious Romanists would
inevitably turn against England, the only power in Western Europe which
denied the Pope's supremacy. They might have added that the Queen of
Scots was closely allied with the Guises, the heads of the Catholic
party in France, and that she was also intriguing for the aid of Philip
of Spain.

[Sidenote: =Elizabeth's foreign policy.=]

In her dealings with the Continental Protestants Elizabeth showed
herself at her worst. Vacillation and selfishness marked her actions
from first to last. She felt that the civil wars kept France and Spain
from being dangerous to her. She knew also that if they ended in the
suppression of the rebels, England would be in grave danger. But she
hated rebellion, she could not understand religious enthusiasm, and
she detested the violent Calvinism which both the Huguenots and the
Netherlanders professed. All wars too, she knew, were expensive, and
their issues doubtful. Hence it came that she displayed a reluctance to
commit herself to one side or the other, which involved her in much
double-dealing and even treachery. She refused to declare war either on
Philip of Spain or on Charles of France, and allowed their ministers
to remain at her court. But she several times sent the Huguenots help,
both secretly and openly, and she allowed the Netherland Protestants to
take shelter in England, and recruit themselves in her ports. She made
no effort to prevent hundreds of English volunteers passing the Channel
to aid the insurgents. For if the queen had doubts as to taking her
side, the people had none; they sympathized heartily with the Huguenots
and the Netherlanders, and did all that private persons could to bring
them succour.

[Sidenote: =The Bull of Deposition.=]

Yet Elizabeth refused to assume the position of the champion of
Protestantism, even when the inducement to do so became more pressing.
In 1570 Pope Pius V. formally excommunicated her, and declared
her deposed, and her kingdom transferred to her cousin Mary. This
declaration turned all the more violent and fanatical Romanists into
potential traitors; if they believed in their Pope's decision, they
were bound to regard Elizabeth as a bastard and a usurper, and to look
upon Mary as the true queen. Most of the English Catholics steadily
refused to take up this position, and remained loyal in spite of the
many vexations to which their religion exposed them. But a violent
minority accepted the papal decree, and spent their time in scheming
to depose or even to murder their sovereign. The knowledge of their
designs made Elizabeth doubly cautious and wary, but did not drive her
into a crusade against Catholicism. Her Parliament, however, passed
bills, making the introduction of papal bulls into the realm, as also
the perversion of members of the Church of England to Romanism, high
treason. But no attempt was made to save the Continental Protestants
from their oppressors, or to put England at the head of a league
against the Pope.

[Sidenote: =The Ridolfi Plot.=]

Meanwhile, the Bull of Deposition bore its first-fruits in a new
conspiracy of the English Romanists, generally known as the "Ridolfi
Plot," from the name of an Italian banker, who served as the go-between
of the English malcontents and the King of Spain. The Duke of Norfolk,
ungrateful for his pardon two years before, took the lead in the
conspiracy, undertaking to seize or even to murder Elizabeth, and
then to marry the Queen of Scots. Philip of Spain promised Norfolk's
agent, Ridolfi, that the duke should have the aid of Spanish troops the
moment that he took arms. But the plan came to Cecil's ears, some of
Norfolk's papers fell into the minister's power, and he was able to lay
his hands on all concerned in the plot. Norfolk lost his head, as he
well deserved, and it was expected that the Queen of Scots would share
his fate. But though the nation and the Parliament clamoured for Mary's
blood, Elizabeth refused to touch her; she was left unharmed in her
captivity. Nor did the queen declare war on Spain, though there was the
clearest proof that Philip had been implicated in the plot. Her only
wish seems to have been to put off the crisis as long as possible.

[Sidenote: =Progress of the struggle abroad.=]

If her own danger could not tempt Elizabeth to interfere in Continental
affairs, it was not likely that anything else would make her take up
the sword. Not even the fearful Massacre of St. Bartholomew provoked
her to take up arms against the Catholics--though on that one night the
weak King of France, egged on by his wicked mother and brother, ordered
the slaughter of 20,000 Protestants who had come up to Paris, relying
on his good will and promised patronage (1572). Elizabeth stormed at
the treacherous French court, but made no attempt to aid the surviving
Huguenots in their gallant struggle against their persecutors. So
great was her determination to keep the peace, that she even offered
to mediate between Philip of Spain and the revolted provinces of
the Low Countries, though it is fair to add that she--perhaps
designedly--proposed conditions to them which it was unlikely that
either would accept.

It was fortunate for England that both the Huguenots in France and the
Dutch in the North displayed a far greater power of resistance than
might have been expected. The former held their own, and even forced
King Charles to come to terms and grant them toleration. The latter,
though reduced to great straits, persevered to the end under their wise
leader, William, Prince of Orange, and beat back the terrible Duke of
Alva, King Philip's best general, from the walls of Alkmaar, when their
fortunes seemed at the lowest (1573). Next year they forced Alva's
successor, Requesens, to retire from Holland, after the gallant defence
and relief of Leyden (October, 1574).

[Sidenote: =Commercial and maritime gains of England.=]

Elizabeth, therefore, escaped the danger that the triumph of the King
of Spain and the Catholic party in France would have brought upon
her, though her safety came from no merit of her own. It was not
till ten years more had passed that she was finally forced to draw
the sword and fight for her life and crown. Meanwhile, it cannot be
denied that her cautious and selfish policy did much for the material
prosperity of England. In twenty years of peace the one country of
Western Europe which enjoyed quiet and good government was bound to
profit at the expense of its unfortunate neighbours. England became a
land of refuge to all the Continental Protestants: to her shores the
artisans of France transferred their industries, and the merchants of
Antwerp their hoarded wealth. The new settlers were kindly received, as
men persecuted in behalf of the true faith, and became good citizens
of their adopted country. But most of all did the maritime trade of
England prosper. Her seamen got the advantage that comes to the neutral
flag in time of war, and began to take into their hands the commerce
that had once been the staple of the Hanseatic Towns, the French ocean
ports, and the cities of the much-vexed Low Countries. English ships
had seldom been seen in earlier days beyond Hamburg or Lisbon, but now
they began to push into the Baltic, to follow the Mediterranean as far
as Turkey, and even to navigate the wild Arctic Ocean, as far as the
ports of Northern Russia.

[Sidenote: =Exploration in the West.--Hawkins--Drake--Frobisher.=]

But the attention of the English seamen was directed most of all to
the West, whither the reports of the vast wealth of America drew
adventurous spirits as with a magnet. The gold which the Spaniards had
plundered from the ancient empires of Mexico and Peru dazzled the eyes
of all men, and the English seamen hoped to find some similar hoard on
every barren shore from Newfoundland to Patagonia. But the Spaniards
arrogated to themselves the sole right to America and its trade, basing
their claim on a preposterous grant made them by Alexander VI., the
notorious Borgia Pope. They treated all adventurers who pushed into
the Western waters not only as intruders, but as pirates. Sir John
Hawkins, the pioneer of English trade to America, was always coming
into collision with them (1562-64). That more famous sea-captain,
Sir Francis Drake, a cousin of Hawkins, spent most of his time in
bickering in a somewhat piratical way with the Spanish authorities
beyond the ocean. His second voyage to the West was a great landmark
in English naval history. Starting in 1577 with the secret connivance
of Elizabeth, he sailed round Cape Horn and up the coasts of Chili and
Peru, capturing numberless Spanish ships, and often sacking a wealthy
port. His greatest achievement was the seizing of the great Lima
galleon, which was taking home to King Philip the annual instalment
of American treasure--a sum of no less than £500,000. After taking
this splendid booty, Drake reached England by crossing the Pacific
and Indian Oceans, and rounding the Cape of Good Hope, thus making
the first circumnavigation of the globe which an Englishman had
accomplished. While Drake was gathering treasure in South America,
other seamen pushed northward, endeavouring to find the "North-West
Passage"--a navigable route which was supposed to exist round the
northern shore of North America. There Frobisher discovered Labrador
and Hudson's Bay, but brought back little profit from his adventures in
the frozen Arctic seas.

[Sidenote: =Jesuit intrigues.=]

While the emissaries of England were invading the Spanish waters,
England herself was suffering from another kind of invasion at the
hands of the friends of the King of Spain. Since the bull of 1570,
Elizabeth was considered fair game by every fanatical Romanist on
the Continent. Accordingly, there began to land in England many
secret missionaries of the old faith, generally exiled Englishmen
trained abroad in the "English colleges" at Rheims and Douay, where
the banished Catholics mustered strongest. It was their aim not only
to keep wavering Romanists in their faith, but to organize them in
a secret conspiracy against the queen. They taught that all was
permissible in dealing with heretics; their disciples were to feign
loyalty, and even conformity with the English Church, but were to be
ready to take up arms whenever the signal was given from the Continent.
These Jesuits and seminary priests constituted a very serious
danger, but they did not escape the eyes of Walsingham and Burleigh,
Elizabeth's watchful ministers. Their plans were discovered, and
several were caught and hung; yet the conspiracy went on, and was soon
to take shape in overt action.

[Sidenote: =Throckmorton's Plot.--War with Spain declared.=]

Its first working was seen in "Throckmorton's Plot," a widely spread
scheme for an attack on England by all the Catholic powers combined
(1583). The Duke of Guise prepared an army in France, the King of
Spain another in the Netherlands, which were to unite for an invasion.
Meanwhile, the English Romanists were to rise in favour of the Queen
of Scots, and welcome the foreign armies. Throckmorton and a few more
fanatics undertook to make the whole plan easier by assassinating the
queen. But Walsingham's spies got scent of the matter, Throckmorton was
caught and executed, and Elizabeth, convinced at last that dallying
with Spain was no longer possible, dismissed King Philip's ambassador,
and prepared for open war (1584).

[Sidenote: =Leicester's expedition to Holland.=]

The struggle which had so long been fought out by intrigue and
unauthorized buccaneering, was now to be settled by honest hard
fighting. It proved perilous enough, but far less formidable than
the cautious queen had feared. Elizabeth was at last forced to lend
open aid to the Protestants of the Continent, and 7000 men, under her
favourite, the Earl of Leicester, sailed for Holland to aid the Dutch
against King Philip. They won no great battles, but their presence was
invaluable to the Netherlanders, who had begun to despair when their
great leader, William of Orange, had been assassinated by a fanatic
hired by Spanish gold. Leicester was an incapable general, but his men
fought well, and learnt to despise the Spaniards. Even a defeat which
they suffered at Zutphen encouraged them, for 500 English there made
head against the whole Spanish army, and retired without great harm,
though they lost Sir Philip Sidney, the most popular and accomplished
young gentleman in England, well known as the author of a curious
pastoral romance called "The Arcadia" (1586).

[Sidenote: =English successes at sea.=]

Far more important than the fighting in the Netherlands were the
maritime exploits of the English seamen. The moment that they were
let loose upon the Spaniards they asserted a clear supremacy at sea.
Drake took and sacked Vigo, a great port of Northern Spain, and then,
crossing the Atlantic, captured the chief cities of the West Indies and
the Spanish main--St. Iago, Cartagena, and St. Domingo (1586).

[Sidenote: =Last plot of Mary Queen of Scots.=]

Meanwhile, Mary Queen of Scots was playing her last stake. From
her prison she made over to King Philip her rights to the throne of
England, and besought him to despatch his armies to rescue her. But she
also gave her approval to one more assassination-plot hatched by the
English Catholics. Instigated by a Jesuit priest named Ballard, Anthony
Babington, a gentleman of Derbyshire, and a handful of his friends
agreed to murder Elizabeth in her own palace. But there were spies of
the lynx-eyed Walsingham among the conspirators, and when the Queen of
Scots and the would-be murderers were just prepared to strike, hands
were laid upon them. Babington and his friends were executed, but this
was not enough to appease the cry for blood which arose from the whole
nation when the conspiracy was divulged. Urged on by her ministers,
Elizabeth at last allowed the Queen of Scots to be put on her trial for
this, the fourth attempt to strike down her cousin. Mary was tried by
a commission of peers, and clearly convicted, not only of encouraging
a Catholic rising and a Spanish invasion, but of having approved
Babington's murderous plan. She was found guilty (October 25, 1586),
and the Parliament, which met soon after, besought the queen to have
her beheaded without delay.

[Sidenote: =Mary executed.=]

But Elizabeth still hesitated. She hated Mary, but her high ideas of
royal prerogative made her shrink from slaying a sovereign princess,
and she still dreaded the explosion of wrath which she knew must follow
all over Catholic Europe. The young King of Scotland might resent
his mother's execution, and the Guises in France would never pardon
their cousin's death. She lingered for more than three months before
she would issue Mary's death-warrant; but at last she gave the fatal
signature. Her ministers at once caused the warrant to be carried
out, without allowing their mistress time to repent. The Queen of
Scots was executed in her prison at Fotheringay Castle. She died with
great dignity and courage, asserting on the scaffold that she was a
martyr for her religion, not a criminal. Many both in her own day and
since have believed her words, but it is impossible to read her story
through from first to last, and then to conclude that she was only the
victim of circumstances and the prey of unscrupulous enemies. Though
much sinned against, she was far more the worker of her own undoing
(February 8, 1587).

Elizabeth expressed great wrath against her ministers for hurrying
on the execution. She fined and imprisoned Davison, the Secretary of
State, who had sent off Mary's death-warrant, and pretended that she
had wished to pardon her. Perhaps her anger was real, but no one save
the unfortunate Davison took it very seriously. The people felt nothing
but satisfaction and relief, and rejoiced that there was no longer a
Catholic heiress to trouble the realm. The King of Scots contented
himself with a formal protest, and the Guises in France were too busy
in their civil wars with King Henry III. and the Huguenots to think of
assailing England.

[Sidenote: =The Spanish Armada.=]

Only Philip of Spain, who accepted in sober earnest the legacy of her
rights which Mary had left him, took up the task of revenge, and he had
already so many causes to hate Elizabeth, that he did not need this
additional provocation to spur him on to attack her. He had already
begun to prepare for a great naval expedition against England. All
through the spring and summer of 1587 the ports of Spain, Portugal,
Naples, and Sicily, were busy in manning and equipping every war-ship
that the king could get together. The Duke of Parma, the Spanish
viceroy in the Netherlands, was also directed to draw off every man
that could be spared from the Dutch War, and to be ready to lead them
across the Channel the moment that the king's fleet should have secured
the Straits of Dover.

But the great flotilla, the _Invincible Armada_, as the Spaniards
called it, was long in sailing. Ere it was ready, Drake made a bold
descent on Cadiz, and burnt no less than 10,000 tons of shipping which
lay in its harbour. He called this exploit "singeing the King of
Spain's beard." This disaster caused so much delay that the expedition
had to be put off till the next year.

In the spring of 1588, however, the Armada was at last ready to start.
It comprised 130 vessels, half of which were great "galleons" of the
largest size that were known to the sixteenth century, and carried
8000 seamen and nearly 20,000 soldiers. But the crews were raw, the
ships were ill-found and ill-provisioned, and, what was most fatal of
all, the admiral, the Duke of Medina Sidonia, was a mere fair-weather
sailor, who hardly knew a mast from an anchor. It may be added that the
vessels were overcrowded with the 20,000 soldiers whom they bore, and
for the most part were armed with fewer and smaller cannons than their
great bulk would have been able to carry.

[Sidenote: =Comparison of Spanish and English fleets.=]

Nevertheless, the Armada was an imposing force, and in strong hands
ought to have achieved success. For Elizabeth had a very small
permanent royal navy, and had to rely for the defence of her realm
mainly on privateers and merchantmen hastily equipped for war service.
Moreover, her parsimony had depleted the royal arsenals to such an
extent, that in provisioning and arming their fleet the English were at
much the same disadvantage as their enemies. But, unlike the Spaniards,
they had excellent crews, and were led by old captains who had learnt
their trade in long years of exploring and buccaneering across the
Atlantic--men like Drake, Hawkins, Frobisher, and others whose names
we have no space to mention. The command of the whole was given to
Lord Howard of Effingham, a capable and cautious officer, who showed
himself worthy of the queen's confidence--confidence that appeared
all the more striking because he was suspected by many to be a Roman
Catholic. In the mere number of ships the English fleet which mustered
at Plymouth somewhat exceeded the Armada, but in size the individual
vessels were far smaller than the Spanish galleons. But they were much
more seaworthy, and were armed so heavily with artillery that it was
found that an English ship could throw a broadside of the same weight
of metal as a Spaniard of almost double its size.

[Sidenote: =Defeat and dispersion of the Armada.=]

The Armada left Corunna, the northernmost port of Spain, on July 22,
and appeared off the Lizard on July 28. On the news of its approach,
the English fleet put out of Plymouth, and the beacons summoned the
militia to arms all over the land from Berwick to Penzance. The Duke of
Medina Sidonia had resolved not to fight the English at once, but to
pass up the Channel to the Dover Straits, and get into communication
with his colleague Parma in Flanders, before engaging in a decisive
battle. This unwise resolve gave the English a splendid opportunity.
As the Armada slowly rolled eastward, it was beset on all sides by
Lord Howard's lighter fleet, and for a whole week was battered and
hustled along without being able to induce the enemy to close. The
great galleons were so slow and unwieldy, that they could not come
up with the English, who sailed around and about them, plying them
with distant but effective artillery fire, and cutting off every
vessel which was disabled or fell behind. By the time that the
Spaniards reached Calais, they were thoroughly demoralized; they had
lost comparatively few ships, but every one of the fleet was more or
less shattered by shot, and the crews had suffered terribly from the
cannonade. At Calais Medina Sidonia received the unwelcome news that
Parma could not join him. A Dutch fleet was blockading the Flemish
ports, and the viceroy was unable to get his transports out to sea.
Thus brought to a check, the duke moored his fleet off Calais, to
pause a moment and recruit (August 6). But that night the English sent
fire-ships among his crowded vessels, and to escape them the Spaniards
had to put off hastily in the darkness. This manoeuvre proved fatal.
Some vessels ran ashore on the French coast, others were burnt, others
cut off by the enemy. A final engagement, on August 8-9, so shattered
the fleet that Medina Sidonia lost heart, and fled away into the German
Ocean, before a strong gale from the south which had sprung up. His
vessels were dispersed, and each made its way out of the fight as best
it could. Some were taken, many driven on to the Dutch coast, the rest
passed out of sight of England, steering northward before the gale.

Lord Howard's fleet was therefore able to sail victorious into the
Thames, and report the rout of the enemy. It was none too soon,
for the English ammunition was well-nigh exhausted after ten days'
continuous fighting. They were welcomed by the queen, who had gathered
a great force of militia at Tilbury, in Essex, to fight Parma, if he
should succeed in crossing. Elizabeth had behaved splendidly during
the crisis; she had organized a strong army, and put herself at its
head, inspiring every man by the cheerful and resolute spirit which
she displayed. Even had the Armada swept away the English fleet, it is
unlikely that Parma would have been successful against the numerous and
enthusiastic levies which were ready to fight him.

But the Armada was now a thing of naught. Forced to return round the
north of Scotland, it was utterly shattered in the unknown seas of the
West. The cliffs of the Orkneys, the Hebrides, Connaught, and Kerry,
were strewn with the wrecks of Spanish galleons, and only 53 ships out
of the 130 that had started straggled back to the ports of northern

The great crisis of the century was now past; queen and nation had
been true to themselves and to each other, and the days of plots and
invasions were over. For the future, Elizabeth could not only sleep
secure of life and crown, but could feel that she might pose as the
arbitress of Western Europe, since the domination of Spain was at an

[Sidenote: =Half-hearted foreign policy of Elizabeth.=]

But she was now too far gone in years--she had attained the age of
fifty-six--to be able to start on a new and vigorous line of policy.
Her old passion for caution and intrigue could not be shaken off,
though they were no longer necessary. Hence it came to pass that,
though England was strong, healthy, wealthy, and vigorous, she did not
take up the dominant position that might have been expected. The queen
persisted in her old policy of helping the Continental Protestants
only by meagre doles of money, and small detachments of troops. By a
vigorous effort she might have thrust the Spaniards completely out of
the Low Countries, or enabled the Huguenots to make themselves supreme
in France. But she refused to fit out any great expeditions; the
expense appalled her parsimonious soul, and she dreaded the chances
of war. Hence it came that in the Low Countries the Dutch established
their independence in the "Seven United Provinces," but Spain continued
to hold Belgium. Hence, too, French parties were condemned to six
years more of civil war, which only ended when Henry of Navarre, the
Protestant heir to the throne of France, abjured his religion in order
to get accepted by the Catholics. "Paris is well worth a Mass," he
cynically observed, and swore all that was required of him (1593).
But he granted the Huguenots complete peace and toleration by the
celebrated _Edict of Nantes_, and put an end to the civil war which had
devastated his unhappy land for thirty years.

[Sidenote: =Naval war with Spain continued.=]

The chief efforts of Elizabeth's foreign policy during the last fifteen
years of her reign were naval expeditions against the Spaniards. They
caused King Philip much loss and much vexation of spirit, but they did
not inflict any very crushing blow on him. The queen would never spend
enough money on them, and generally allowed her subjects to carry on
the war with squadrons of privateers. But the English adventurers very
naturally sought plunder rather than solid political advantages--a fact
which accounts for their failure to do anything great. A considerable
expedition sent out in 1589 sacked Corunna and Vigo, but failed in
an attempt to set upon the Portuguese throne a pretender hostile to
King Philip. This was followed by a series of smaller expeditions
to South America and the West Indies, in which Drake, and a younger
adventurer, Sir Walter Raleigh, Elizabeth's favourite courtier, did
Spain considerable harm, but England no great good. A larger armament
sailed in 1596 against Cadiz, under the Earl of Essex and Lord Howard
of Effingham. This force took the town, and destroyed Spain's largest
naval arsenal and a great part of her fleet: a mere naval expedition
could do no more.

[Sidenote: =Colonial enterprise.--Raleigh in Virginia.=]

These successive blows at Spain gave England the complete command
of the seas. Hence it is not strange that we find the beginnings of
colonial enterprise appearing. An attempt to found a settlement on
the bleak shore of Newfoundland was a failure. But Sir Walter Raleigh
planted a promising colony in the more clement district about the
river Roanoke, which he named _Virginia_, after his mistress, the
"Virgin-Queen," as she loved to be called. The first Virginian scheme
came to naught--the Indians were hostile, and the improvident settlers
planted tobacco instead of corn, and so starved themselves (1590). It
was not till seventeen years later that the colony was founded for the
second time, and began to flourish. It was from thence that Raleigh
brought to England the two products that are always connected with his
name, tobacco and potatoes.

[Sidenote: =Growth of foreign trade.--Chartered companies.=]

Colonial enterprise was accompanied by increased trade with distant
lands. The English ships began to appear as far afield as India,
China, and even Japan. The merchants who worked the more difficult
and dangerous routes, banded themselves into chartered companies, of
which the Turkey Company, founded in 1581, the Russian Company, dating
from 1566, and the far more famous East India Company (1600) were the
most important. By the end of the queen's reign, English commerce had
doubled and tripled, and the steady stream of wealth which it poured
into the land had done much to end the social troubles and dangers
which had marked the middle years of the century.

[Sidenote: =Rural distress.=]

But nearly all the profit went to the town populations. Ports and
markets flourished, merchants and skilled artisans grew rich, and a
certain proportion of the wretched vagrant hordes, which had been
the terror of the middle years of the century, were absorbed into
the new employments which were springing up in the towns. But in the
countryside, neither the landholder nor the peasant had nearly such a
good position as in the days before the Reformation. The prices both
of food and of manufactured goods had gone up about threefold, but
rents had not risen perceptibly, and the wages of agricultural labour
had only increased about 50 percent. The country gentleman, therefore,
was no longer so opulent in comparison to the town-dwelling merchant,
and the peasant stood far worse compared with the artisan than in the
previous century. We may place in the time of Elizabeth the beginning
of that rise of the importance of the urban as compared with the rural
population, which has been going on ever since, till, in our own day,
England is entirely dominated by her towns. It will be noticed that in
the great political struggle of the next century, under the Stuarts,
the party which represented the wealth and activity of the cities
completely beat that which drew its strength from the peerage and
gentry of the purely agricultural districts.

[Sidenote: =The Poor Law.=]

It would be wrong to leave the field of social change without
mentioning the celebrated Poor Law of Queen Elizabeth (1601). All
attempts to cope with pauperism by voluntary charity having failed, it
was finally resolved to make the maintenance of the aged and invalid
poor a statutory burden on the parishes. The new law provided that
the able-bodied vagrant should be forced to work, and, if he refused,
should be imprisoned, but that the impotent and deserving should be
fed and housed by overseers, who were authorized to levy rates on the
parish for their support. The system seems to have worked well, and we
hear no complaints on the subject for three or four generations.

[Sidenote: =Growth of poetry and philosophy.=]

It is most noteworthy to mark the way in which the expansion of England
in the spheres of political and commercial greatness was accompanied by
a corresponding growth in the realms of intellect. The second half of
Elizabeth's reign, a mere period of twenty years, was more fertile in
great literary names than the two whole centuries which had preceded
it. The excitement of the long religious wars, the sudden opening up of
the dark places of the world by the great explorers, the free spirit
of individual inquiry which accompanied the growth of Protestantism,
all conspired to stir and develop men's minds. The greatest English
dramatist, William Shakespeare, born in 1564, and the greatest English
philosopher, Francis Bacon, born in 1561, were both children of the
days of the long struggle with Spain, and had watched the final crisis
of the Armada in their early manhood. Edmund Spenser, a few years older
than his mightier contemporaries, shows even more clearly the spirit
of the times. All through his lengthy epic of the _Faërie Queene_ he
is inspired by the enthusiasm of the struggles of England, and tells
in allegory the glories of the great Elizabeth. We have but space to
allude to Sir Philip Sydney and his pastoral romances, to Hooker's
works on political philosophy, to Marlowe and other dramatists whose
fame is half eclipsed by Shakespeare's genius. Never before or since
has England produced in a few short years such a crop of great literary

The two main subjects of domestic importance in the last years of
Elizabeth were the development of fresh forms of division in the
English Church, and the troubles caused by the new conquest of Ireland.
Both of these movements had begun in the earlier years of the reign,
but did not fully expand till its end.

[Sidenote: =Dangers from the Romanists at an end.=]

Elizabeth's chief problem in matters religious had for thirty years
been that of dealing with the Roman Catholics. But after the death of
Mary of Scotland and the defeat of the Armada this question retired
somewhat into the background. The vast majority of the Romanists had
conformed to the Anglican Church; of the remainder many were loyal,
and were therefore tacitly left unharmed by the Government, save when
they came into conflict with the Recusancy Laws, as the acts directed
against them were called. The small but violent minority who listened
to the Jesuits, and were still plotting against the queen, were, on the
other hand, treated with the most vehement harshness. At one time and
another, a very considerable number of them came to the gallows, though
always, as Elizabeth was careful to explain, not as Papists, but as
traitors. They were so hated by the nation, who identified them with
nothing but assassination plots and intrigues with Spain, that they no
longer constituted any danger.

[Sidenote: =Rise of Puritanism.=]

But a new religious problem was growing up. Many of the Protestants who
had conformed to the English Church system in Elizabeth's earlier years
were growing out of touch with the National Establishment. Constant
intercourse with the Huguenots and the Dutch, both of whom professed
violent forms of Calvinism, had made them discontented with the ritual
and organization of the English Church. Like their Continental friends,
they came to hate bishops and canons, vestments and ritual, even things
that seem to us parts of the common decencies of church service, such
as the surplice in the reading-desk, the usage of kneeling at Holy
Communion, the employment of the ring in marriage, and the sign of the
cross at baptism. All these remnants of common Christian practice they
considered to be "rags of Popery," vain survivals of the old Romanist
days. And since they wished to sweep everything away, they were called
in derision "Puritans," in allusion to their constant citation of "the
pure Gospel."

[Sidenote: =Harsh treatment of the Puritans.=]

Elizabeth detested the Puritan habit of mind. She loved decency
and order, and she liked the pomp and splendour of the old church
services; indeed, she would have gladly kept much that the Anglican
Establishment has rejected. She was proud of her position as head and
defender of the national Church, and looked upon the bishops as high
and important state officials under her. The Puritan desire to abolish
the episcopate, to do away with all ritual, to whitewash the churches
and break down all their ornaments, seemed to her to savour of anarchic
republicanism and rank disloyalty. She was determined that the Puritan,
no less than the Romanist, should suffer if he refused to conform to
the usages of the national Church. Hence it came that she dealt very
hardly with the Puritans, suppressing their religious meetings for
"prophesying"--as they called extempore preaching--and treating their
pamphlets as seditious. One very scurrilous set of tracts, issued
under the name of _Martin Mar-prelate_, provoked her wrath so much
that John Penry, who was responsible for them, was actually hung for
treasonable libel. Puritans who kept quiet did not suffer, any more
than the Romanists who kept quiet, but those who resisted the queen
were treated with a rigour that showed that the day of freedom of
conscience was still far away. The discontented admirers of Calvinism
still kept within the Church of England,--it was their ambition to
change its doctrine, not to quit it; but already in Elizabeth's reign
it was obvious that schism between the moderate and the violent parties
was inevitable.

[Sidenote: =Irish policy of Elizabeth.=]

The most miserable and melancholy page of the history of Elizabeth's
reign is that which is covered by the records of Ireland. We have
already mentioned how Henry VIII. had extended the English influence
beyond the borders of "the Pale," and done something towards subduing
the whole island to obedience. But the most important share of the work
was reserved for Elizabeth. Her intent was shown by her Act of 1569,
for dividing the whole land into shires, to be ruled by sheriffs on
the English plan--a device for destroying the patriarchal authority of
the tribal chiefs, who from time immemorial had governed their clans
according to old Celtic law. It was not to be expected that any such
scheme could be carried out without causing friction with the natives.
They were wholly unaccustomed to obey or respect the royal mandate, and
acknowledged no authority higher than that of their own chief: English
laws and English manners were alike hateful to them. In many districts
they were little better than savages; the "wild Irish," as the more
uncivilized tribes were called, dwelt in low huts of mud, wore no shoes
or head-gear, and were clothed only in a rough kilt and mantle of
frieze. They wore their hair long over neck and eyes, went everywhere
armed to the teeth, and looked on tribal war and plundering as the sole
serious business of life.

[Sidenote: =Resistance of the Irish clans.=]

To teach such a race to live under the strict English law was an
almost impossible task, requiring the utmost patience, and Elizabeth's
ministers and officials were not patient. When the chiefs withstood
their orders, they declared them traitors, confiscated the lands of
whole tribes, and attempted to settle up the annexed districts with
English colonists. This, of course, drove the Irish to desperation, and
the incomers were soon slain or driven away. In return, the Lord-Deputy
of Ireland or one of the "Presidents" of its four provinces would
march against the rebels, slay every male person they met, armed or
unarmed, and leave the women and children to starve. In this ruthless,
devastating war, whole counties were depopulated and left waste, a
few survivors only escaping into woods, bogs, or mountains. The worst
feature of the struggle was the cruel double-dealing employed against
the Irish chiefs; they were often induced to surrender by false
promises of pardon, they were caught and slain by treachery, sometimes
they were even poisoned. The intractable nature of the rebels explains,
but does not excuse, the conduct of the English rulers. The Irish would
never keep an oath or observe a peace; they plundered and murdered
whenever the Lord-Deputy's eye was not on them, and they were always
trying to get aid from Spain.

[Sidenote: =The conflict partly a religious one.=]

At first the struggle between English and Irish was purely a matter
of race, but the religious element was soon introduced. Protestantism
made no head in the country, and in 1579 a Papal Legate, Nicholas
Sanders, came over to organize the tribes to unite in defence of the
old religion. No man could ever persuade Irish parties to join for
long, and Sanders's mission was in that respect a failure. But for the
future the war was embittered by religious as well as racial hatred. In
1580 the Pope sent over a body of Italian and Spanish mercenaries to
aid the rebels; but this force was blockaded by Lord Grey in its camp
at Smerwick, a harbour in Kerry, and every man was put to the sword. At
a later date Philip of Spain sent similar and equally ineffective help.

[Sidenote: =Desmond's Rebellion.=]

The two chief struggles of the Irish against the establishment of the
English rule were that of the tribes of Munster in 1578-83, and that
of the tribes of Ulster in 1595-1601. The former was led by Garrett
Fitzgerald, Earl of Desmond, the greatest lord of the South, the
descendant of one of those Anglo-Norman families which had become
more Irish than the Irish themselves. In his desperate struggle with
Lord-Deputy Grey and the English colonists in Munster, he saw all the
land from Galway to Waterford harried into a wilderness, and was killed
at last as a fugitive in the hills.

[Sidenote: =Tyrone's Rebellion.--Expedition of Essex.=]

The Ulster rebellion of Hugh O'Neil, Earl of Tyrone, the head of the
greatest of the native Irish septs, was far more formidable than that
of the Fitzgeralds. The English could for a long time do nothing
against him. In 1598 he defeated an army of 5000 men on the Blackwater
and slew its leader, Sir Henry Bagenal, and most of his followers.
Tyrone sent for aid to Spain, and so moved Queen Elizabeth's fears that
she despatched against him the largest English force that ever went
over-sea in her reign. An army of 20,000 men was placed under Robert
Devereux, the young Earl of Essex, whom the queen loved most of all men
in her later years, and sent over to Dublin. Essex, though he had won
much credit for courage in Holland, and at the capture of Cadiz, was
not a great general. He pacified Central and Southern Ireland, but did
not succeed in crushing Tyrone. It would seem that he was disgusted
at the cruelty and treachery of his predecessors in the government of
Ireland, and wished to admit the rebels to submission on easy terms. At
any rate, he made a truce with Tyrone in 1600, promising that the queen
should grant him toleration in matters of religion, and leave him his
earldom. Essex returned to England to get these terms ratified, but was
received very coldly by his mistress and her council, who had sent him
to Ireland to suppress, not to condone, the rebellion. His treaty was
not confirmed, and the war with Tyrone went on. The earl got 7000 men
from Spain, and ravaged all Central Ireland, till he was defeated by
Lord Montjoy in an attempt to raise the siege of Kinsale (1601). In the
next year he made complete submission to the queen, and was pardoned
and given back most of his Ulster lands. But the eight years of war had
made Northern Ireland a desert, and the power of the O'Neils was almost

[Sidenote: =Intrigues and execution of Essex.=]

Meanwhile the short stay of Essex in Ireland had led to a strange
tragedy in London. The young earl had been so much favoured by the
queen in earlier years, that he could not brook the rebuke that fell
upon him for his dealings with Tyrone. Presuming on the almost doting
fondness which his sovereign had shown for him, the headstrong young
man plunged into seditious courses. He swore that his enemies in the
council had calumniated him to the queen, and that he would be revenged
on them and drive them out of office. With this object he gathered many
of the Puritan party about him--for he was a strong Protestant--and
resolved to overturn the ministry by force. He caught the Lord
Chancellor, and locked him up, and then sallied out armed into the
streets of London with a band of his friends, calling on the people to
rise and deliver the queen from false councillors. But he had counted
too much on his popularity; no one joined him, and he was apprehended
and put in prison.

Elizabeth was much enraged with her former favourite, and allowed his
enemies to persuade her into permitting him to be tried and executed
for treason. When he was dead she bitterly regretted him (February,

[Sidenote: =Last years of Elizabeth.=]

The great queen was now near her end. All her contemporaries, both
friends and foes, had passed away already. Philip of Spain had died,
a prey to religious melancholy, and racked by a loathsome disease, in
1598. That same year saw the end of the great minister, William Cecil,
Lord Burleigh. His colleague Walsingham had sunk into the grave some
years earlier, in 1590. Leicester, whom the queen had loved till his
death-day, had perished of a fever in 1588, the year of the Armada.
A younger generation had arisen, which only knew Elizabeth as an old
woman, and forgot her brilliant youth. To them the vivacity and love of
pleasure which she displayed on the verge of her seventieth year seemed
abnormal and even unseemly.

[Sidenote: ="Monopolies" declared illegal.=]

To the last she kept her talent for dealing with men. There was no
greater instance of her cleverness shown in all her life than her
management of her Parliament in 1601. The Commons had been growing
more resolute and strong-willed as the queen grew older, and though
Elizabeth often chid them, and sometimes even imprisoned members who
displeased her, yet she knew when to yield with a good grace. The
Parliament of 1601 was raging against "monopolies"--grants under the
royal seal to individuals, permitting them to be the sole vendors or
manufacturers of certain articles of trade. Seeing their resolution,
Elizabeth came down in person to the House, and addressed the members
at length, so cleverly that she persuaded them that she was as much
opposed to the abuse as they themselves, and won enormous applause when
she announced that all monopolies were at once to be withdrawn and made

[Sidenote: =Death of Elizabeth.=]

Eighteen months after this strange scene Elizabeth died, in her
seventy-first year. On her death-bed she assented to the designation
of James of Scotland as her successor--a thing she would never suffer
before, for she held that "an expectant heir is like a coffin always in

[Sidenote: =The Elizabethan age.=]

In spite of the many unamiable points in her character, Elizabeth was
always liked by her subjects, and well deserved their liking. She had
guided England through forty-five most troublous years, and left her
subjects wealthy, prosperous, and contented. Her failures had always
been upon the side of caution, and such mistakes are the easiest to
repair and the soonest forgotten. Both in her own day and in ages to
come, she received the credit for all the progress and prosperity of
her reign. The nation, groaning under the unwisdom of the Stuarts,
cried in vain for a renewal of "the days of good Queen Bess." The
modern historian, when he recounts the great deeds of the Englishmen
of the latter half of the sixteenth century, invariably speaks of the
"Elizabethan age." Nor is this wrong. When we reflect on the evils
which a less capable sovereign might have brought upon the realm in
that time of storm and stress, we may well give her due meed of thanks
to the cautious, politic, unscrupulous queen, who left such peace and
prosperity behind her.



  James IV. = Margaret of England = Earl of Angus.
            |                     |
          James V.            Margaret Countess of Lennox.
            |                     |
         Mary Queen of Scots.    Henry Lord Darnley.




With the death of Elizabeth the greatness of England departed. From
1603 to 1688 she counted for little in the Councils of Europe, save
indeed during the ten years of Cromwell's rule. She became the tool
of foreign powers, sometimes because her rulers were duped, sometimes
because they deliberately sold themselves to the stranger.

[Sidenote: =Character of James I.=]

James of Scotland, the old queen's legitimate heir, was a man of
thirty-seven when the throne fell to him. He had lived an unhappy
life in his northern realm, buffeted to and fro by unruly nobles and
domineering ministers of the Scottish Kirk. But most of his troubles
had been the results of his own failings. Of all the kings who ever
ruled these realms, he is almost the only one of whom it can be said
that he was a coward. From this vice sprang his other defects. Like all
cowards, he was suspicious, capable of any cruelty against those whom
he dreaded, prone always to lean on some stronger man, who would bear
his responsibility for him. He chose these favourites with the rankest
folly: Arran and Lennox, who were the minions of his youth while yet
he reigned in Scotland alone, and Rochester and Buckingham, who ruled
his riper age, were--all four--arrogant, vicious, scheming adventurers.
They had nothing to recommend them save a handsome person and a fluent
and flattering tongue. Each in his turn domineered over his doting
master, and made himself a byword for insolence and self-seeking.

James was unfortunate in his outer man. He was ill-made, corpulent,
and weak-kneed; though his face was not unpleasing, his speech was
marred by a tongue too large for his mouth. But he was grossly and
ridiculously vain and conceited. He possessed a certain cleverness
of a limited kind, and he was well versed in book-learning. But he
imagined that learning was wisdom, and loved to pose as the wisest of
mankind--the British Solomon, as his favourites were wont to call him.

This stuttering, shambling pedant now mounted the throne of the politic
Elizabeth, and in a reign of twenty-two years contrived to wreck the
strong position which the royal power held in England, and to make a
revolution inevitable. The crash would have come in his own day, but
for one thing--James, as we have said before, was a coward, and had not
the courage to fight when affairs came to a crisis.

[Sidenote: =Doctrine of the dispensing power.=]

James based his preposterous claims to override the nation's will and
the rights of Parliament on two theories, which represented to him the
true foundations of all royal power. The first was his "prerogative,"
or power to dispense with ordinary laws and customs at his good
pleasure. He saw that the Tudors had often gone beyond the letter of
the mediaeval constitution, and thought that their action gave him a
full precedent for similar encroachment. He forgot two things: first,
that Henry VIII. and Elizabeth had lived in times of storm and stress,
when firm governance was all-important, and much would be forgiven to
a strong ruler; and secondly, that the two great Tudors had always
taken the people into their confidence, and been careful to get popular
support for their doings. He himself tried to impose an unpopular
policy on an unwilling people, and never condescended to explain his

[Sidenote: =The "Divine Right" of kings.=]

The second pillar of the king's policy was the theory of "divine
hereditary kingship"--a notion entirely opposed to the old English idea
that the crown was elective. James chose to ignore such precedents
as the elections of Henry IV. or Henry VII., where the natural heir
had been passed over, and wished his subjects to believe that strict
hereditary succession was the only title to the throne, and that
nothing could justify or legalize any divergence from it. He claimed
that kings derived their right to rule from Heaven, not from any
choice by their subjects; hence it was impious as well as disloyal
to criticize or disobey the king's commands. James found many of the
clergy who were ready to accept this theory, partly because they
thought they could justify it from the Scriptures, partly because
they felt that the orderly governance of the Anglican Church was bound
up with the royal supremacy. In Elizabeth's time it had been the
queen's guiding and restraining hand which had prevented the nation
from lapsing into the anarchical misgovernment which characterized
Continental Protestantism.

[Sidenote: =Hopes of the three religious parties.=]

When the new king crossed the Tweed in April, 1603, he was well
received in England, where his weaknesses were as yet little known.
Every one was glad to see the succession question settled without a
war, and every party hoped to gain his favour. The Puritans trusted
that a prince reared in the Calvinism of the Scotch Kirk would do
much for them. The Romanists dreamed that the son of Mary of Scotland
would tolerate his mother's faith. The supporters of the Anglican
establishment thought that the king must needs become a good Churchman
when he realized the position that awaited him as Defender of the
Faith and Supreme Governor of the spiritual hierarchy that embraced
nine-tenths of the nation.

[Sidenote: =James supports the Established Church.=]

James himself had no doubt as to his future behaviour. There was
nothing that pleased him better than the idea of becoming the head of
the English Church. In Scotland he had learnt to hate the dictatorial
manners of the presbyters of the Kirk, and their constant interference
in politics. The well-ordered and obedient organization which he found
south of the Tweed, where every cleric, from the archbishop to the
curate, looked for guidance to the sovereign, filled him with joy and
admiration. He soon became the zealous patron of the Establishment; he
looked upon it as the bulwark of the throne, the best defence against
disloyalty and anarchy. "No bishop, no king," was his answer to the
Puritans, who strove to persuade him into abolishing episcopacy, and
establishing a Presbyterian form of Church government.

[Sidenote: =The Hampton Court Conference.= ]

Before James had been for a year on the English throne, he had shown
his intentions in the matter of Church government. On his first arrival
the Puritan party, both the Dissenters and the Conformists within the
National Church, presented him with the "Millenary Petition,"[35] in
which they complained that they were "overburdened with human rites
and ceremonies" prescribed in the Prayer-book, and besought him to
abolish episcopacy and purify the land from the remnants of Popish
superstition. James invited representative Puritan ministers to meet
him at the Hampton Court Conference (January, 1604), where they were
to dispute with some of his bishops. But the Conference was a mere
farce; the king browbeat and hectored the ministers, and declared
himself wholly convinced by the arguments of the Anglican clergy. He
announced his full approval of the existing Church system, and that he
would have "one doctrine, one discipline, one religion in substance
and ceremony." The Puritans went away in sore displeasure, and from
that moment the large number of them who had hitherto continued in the
body of the National Church, began to desert it and to form various
schismatic sects. We find it hard to-day to realize the fanatical
scruples which made them see snares in a ring or a surplice, or deem
that Episcopacy was a Romish invention; but we can understand that the
real bent of their minds was directed against dictation in matters of
conscience, and the denial of the right of private judgment. With their
theory we may sympathize, but the actual points on which they chose to
secede from the ancient Church of the land were miserably inadequate
to justify schism. It is fair to add, however, that there was much to
repel men of conscience and piety in the condition of the National
Church. The bishops showed an unworthy subservience to the throne,
which seemed peculiarly disgusting when the crown was worn by such a
self-satisfied pedant as King James. A glance at the fulsome praises
heaped upon him in the preface to the Authorized Version of the Bible
will sufficiently serve to make this plain.

[Sidenote: =Administration of the younger Cecil.=]

Almost the only sign of sagacity which the new king showed was that
he kept in office, as his chief minister, Robert, the younger Cecil,
son of the great Lord Burleigh. James made him Earl of Salisbury, and,
first as Secretary of State and afterwards as Lord Treasurer, Cecil
kept a firm hand on the reins of power, and restrained many of his
master's follies. It was not till he died, in 1612, that the king was
able to display his own unwisdom in its full development.

[Sidenote: =Cobham's Plot.=]

Hence it comes that the nine years 1602-1611 are comparatively
uneventful, and show little of the king's worst foibles. A few
incidents only deserve mention in this period. _Cobham's Plot_, which
followed almost immediately on the king's accession, was a most
mysterious business. It was said that Lord Cobham, Lord Grey, Sir
Walter Raleigh the explorer, and certain others, all enemies of Robert
Cecil, had formed a plot to kidnap the king, and force him to dismiss
his minister--perhaps, even to depose him in favour of his cousin,
Arabella Stuart, the child of his father's brother.[36] The whole
matter is so dark that it is hard to make out what the conspirators
desired, or even whether they conspired at all. Both extreme Puritans
and fanatical Roman Catholics are said to have been engaged in the
plot, and the wildest aims were ascribed to them. It is only certain
that James and Cecil used the affair as a means for crushing those whom
they feared. The unfortunate Arabella Stuart was put in confinement for
the rest of her life; Raleigh languished twelve years in the Tower; and
Grey and Cobham also suffered long imprisonment.

[Sidenote: =The Gunpowder Plot.=]

A clearer but not less strange matter was the famous _Gunpowder
Treason_ of 1605. A band of fanatical Catholics, disgusted that the
king refused to grant the toleration they had expected, or to repeal
the Recusancy laws, formed a diabolical scheme for murdering, not only
James himself, but his sons and all the chief men of the realm. Their
chiefs were Thomas Percy, a relative of the Earl of Northumberland,
Catesby, Guy Fawkes, and Sir Everard Digby. Their plan was to hire a
cellar which lay under the Houses of Parliament, fill it with barrels
of gunpowder, and fire the train when the king was opening Parliament
on the 5th of November. Lords, Commons, princes, and king would thus
perish in a common disaster, while a Catholic rising and a Spanish
invasion were to follow. Garnet, the Provincial of the Jesuits, was
informed of the scheme by the conspirators, and kept it secret.

A mere chance saved king and Parliament. When all was ready, and the
cellar was charged with its murderous contents, one of the conspirators
wrote an anonymous letter to his cousin, Lord Monteagle, a Catholic
peer, imploring him not to attend on the 5th of November, on account
of a great blow that was impending. Monteagle sent the letter to the
king, whose suspicious mind--it will be remembered that his own father
had perished by gunpowder--soon read the secret. The cellars were
searched on the night of November 4, and Guy Fawkes, who was to fire
the train, was discovered lurking there with his great hoard of powder.
On the news of his arrest the other conspirators took arms, but their
preparations had been ridiculously inadequate for their end, and they
were easily hunted down and slain. Fawkes and Garnet the Jesuit were
tortured, and then hung, drawn, and quartered. The only result of the
Gunpowder Treason was to make the lot of the English Romanists much
harder than before, for the nation thought that most of them had been
implicated in the plot, and Parliament greatly increased the harshness
of the Recusancy laws.

[Sidenote: =Strife between king and Parliament.=]

The persecuting of Romanists, however, was about the only point on
which the king and Parliament could agree. From the very first, James
and the House of Commons were at odds on almost every matter which
they had to discuss. When peace was made with Spain in 1604, the House
was ill pleased; for a whole generation of Englishmen had grown up who
looked upon war with King Philip as one of the natural conditions of
life, and thought that the Spanish colonies in America existed solely
for the purpose of being plundered by English buccaneers. James, on
the other hand, hated all wars with a coward's hatred, and had a great
respect for the ancient greatness and autocratic sovereignty of the
Spanish kings. Taxation furnished another fertile source of dispute:
the court was numerous, profligate, and wasteful, and, in spite of
Cecil's economy, the king piled up a mountain of debts, and exceeded
his revenue year by year. To fill his purse, he raised the scale of
the customs-duties without the consent of Parliament (1608), and then
refrained from calling the Houses together for two years. But in 1610
his increasing necessities forced him to summon them, and a sharp
dispute about the legality of the increased customs at once began. It
grew so bitter that the king dismissed the Parliament without having
obtained the money that he wanted, and was constrained to go on
accumulating unpaid debts (1611).

[Sidenote: =Death of Cecil.--Rise of Rochester.=]

Next year the great minister, Robert Cecil, died, and James was
left to govern for himself as best he might. A great change was at
once apparent. Its chief symptom was the beginning of the system of
government by royal favourites. Hitherto James had heaped wealth
and favour on his minions, but had not dared to entrust them with
affairs of state, so great was his fear of his able Lord Treasurer.
When Salisbury was gone, the king fell entirely into the hands of the
favourite of the hour, a young Scot named Robert Ker, who had been
his page. James made him Viscount Rochester, put him in the Privy
Council, and entrusted him with all his confidential business. Ker was
a worthless adventurer, whose good looks and ready tongue were his only
stock-in-trade. He used his influence purely for personal ends--to fill
his pocket and indulge his taste for ostentation. When he meddled in
politics, it was to encourage the king in courses which were hateful
to the nation--in forming an alliance with Spain, and in persisting in
illegal taxation.

[Sidenote: =Murder of Sir T. Overbury.--Fall of Rochester.=]

Ker's domination in the king's council lasted about three years, and
was ended by a shocking crime, which did more to lower the court and
the king in the eyes of the people than anything which had yet occurred
since James's accession. Ker had become enamoured of Frances Howard,
the wife of the young Earl of Essex, son of Elizabeth's unfortunate
favourite. The countess returned his passion, became his paramour, and
agreed to procure her divorce from her husband by bringing scandalous
and indelicate accusations against Essex. But a certain Sir Thomas
Overbury, an unscrupulous courtier, who was in the secret of this
wicked plot, set himself to hinder the marriage, and threatened to make
public what he knew. Rochester got him thrown into the Tower, and there
he was poisoned by the revengeful countess, with or without the guilty
knowledge of the favourite. Lady Essex brought her suit against her
husband, and as the king interfered with the course of justice in her
favour, the divorce was accomplished. The guilty pair were married with
great state, and James raised Rochester to the earldom of Somerset to
celebrate the occasion. But murder will out. Two years later the tale
of Overbury's assassination got abroad, and the king learnt the story
of his favourite's dishonour. James was not quite dead to all feelings
of right and wrong, the revelation greatly shocked him, and, moreover,
he was growing tired of Somerset's arrogance and dictatorial ways.
Hence it came about that he suffered the law to take its course. The
earl and countess were tried and convicted of having poisoned Overbury;
their lives were spared, but they suffered long imprisonment, and
disappeared into obscurity. It is said that Somerset saved his neck by
threatening to reveal some disgraceful secret of the king's, of which
he was possessed (1616).

[Sidenote: =Ascendency of Buckingham.=]

It might have been supposed that Ker's scandalous end would have
weaned King James from his propensity for favourites. But this was
not so. He replaced the Earl of Somerset by another minion, George
Villiers, the son of a Leicestershire squire. Villiers was as handsome
and insinuating as Ker, and possessed far greater ability. He not
only acquired an entire ascendency over James himself, but mastered
as completely the heir to the throne, Prince Charles. The king's
elder son, Henry, Prince of Wales, had died four years before, during
Somerset's day of power. He had been a very promising youth, and hated
his father's ways; hence some suspected that Somerset had poisoned him,
though there seems to have been no foundation for the charge.

For the nine years which James had yet to live, he was completely in
the hands of Villiers. The young favourite was vain, arrogant, and
ambitious; but worse men than he have lived; he had the saving vice
of pride, which kept him from many of the meaner sins. He was not
cruel, avaricious, or revengeful, as his predecessor Somerset had been.
But his influence on the realm was all in the direction of evil; in
his headstrong self-confidence, he thought that he was a Heaven-sent
statesman, and led his weak and doting master into many follies.

[Sidenote: =James's subservience to Spain.=]

The days of his domination are filled with the miserable story of the
"Spanish Marriage." King James, as we have already had to remark,
was filled with a great respect for the ancient power and wealth of
Spain, and never realized how much the foundations of its strength had
been sapped by the long and ruinous Dutch and English wars of Philip
II. Spain was at this moment represented by a very able ambassador,
Sarmiento, Count of Gondomar, who systematically misled the king as
to the views and intentions of his master, Philip III. His influence
induced James to look to Spanish aid for a solution of all his
financial troubles, for he thought that, in return for his alliance,
Spain would lend or give him money to cover his annual deficits.

[Sidenote: =Execution of Raleigh.=]

This beginning of subservience to Spain is marked by one of the
blackest spots in the reign of James--the execution of Sir Walter
Raleigh. The old explorer had now lingered for twelve years in the
Tower, but got a temporary release by persuading James that he knew
of rich gold-mines in Guiana, on the banks of the Orinoco, from which
he could bring back a great ransom. He was permitted to sail, but the
king informed Gondomar of the matter. Now, the Spaniards still looked
on any interference in America as a trespass on their monopoly of the
trade of the West. The ambassador sent news of Raleigh's approach to
the governors of the West Indies, and preparations were made to give
him a hot reception. When he reached South America, Sir Walter was
easily drawn into hostilities with the Spaniards, and had to return,
after failing to force his way up the Orinoco. When he reached England
he was arrested, at Gondomar's request, for having engaged in fighting
with a friendly power. But instead of trying him for this misdemeanour,
the dastardly king beheaded him without giving him a hearing or an
opportunity of defence, on the old charge of having been engaged in
Cobham's Plot[37] fifteen years before. He fell a victim to Spanish
resentment, not to any crime committed against his own king (1618).

[Sidenote: =Marriage of Princess Elizabeth.--The Thirty Years' War.=]

The year of Raleigh's death saw the opening of a new set of troubles
for King James. He had married his daughter Elizabeth to Frederic of
the Palatinate, the most rash and venturesome of the Protestant princes
of Germany. When the great religious struggle known as the Thirty
Years' War broke out, Frederic took the lead among the Protestants, and
seized the kingdom of Bohemia, one of the possessions of the Emperor
Ferdinand, the bigoted and fanatical head of the Romanist party (1619).
Frederic, however, was beaten, and lost not only Bohemia, but his own
dominions in the Palatinate (1620). Concerned to see his favourite
daughter lose her crown and lands, King James conceived a hope that
he might induce his Spanish friends to restore his son-in-law to his
Rhenish electorate. He forgot that Philip III., as a devout Catholic,
was much pleased to see the headstrong Frederic stripped of house and
home. But while intriguing with Spain, James, with great duplicity,
tried to persuade his subjects that he was ready to make war on the
Emperor, in order to restore the elector by force of arms.

[Sidenote: =Impeachment of Bacon.=]

A Parliament was again summoned. It gave the king a liberal grant for
the proposed war in Germany, but it then proceeded to investigate
abuses. The most notable scandal which it discovered was that the Lord
Chancellor--the great philosopher, Francis Bacon, Lord Verulam--had
been accepting gifts from corrupt suitors in his court--a misdemeanour
so flagrant that it struck at the roots of all justice. Bacon pleaded
guilty, and was removed from office (1621). The Parliament then began
to discuss internal politics, praying for a more rigorous suppression
of the Jesuits, and petitioning the king to marry his heir to a
Protestant princess; for it was already rumoured that a Spanish match
was being proposed for Prince Charles. After much angry debating on
what he considered an invasion of his prerogative, James had to dismiss
the two Houses (1622).

[Sidenote: =The Spanish Marriage.=]

The reports which had reached the ears of the Commons about the
marriage of the Prince of Wales were quite correct. The king and
Villiers, who had lately been created Earl of Buckingham, had formed a
chimerical plan for persuading the King of Spain to restore the elector
to the Palatinate, by means of a marriage treaty. If Prince Charles
were to offer to wed one of the Infantas, the sisters of Philip IV.,
they thought that the Spaniard would interfere in Germany in order to
oblige his brother-in-law. Moreover, the rich dowry of the princess
would serve to pay some of James's debts. They forgot that the King
of Spain had no interest or inducement to attack the Emperor, his own
cousin and co-religionist, and that the only thing which Philip really
wanted to secure by a treaty with England, was toleration for the
English Catholics.

[Sidenote: =Buckingham and Prince Charles in Spain.=]

From this foolish plan sprang the rash expedition of Buckingham
and Prince Charles to Madrid. Thinking to win the consent of the
Spanish king by appearing in person, and using the weight of his own
attractions, Buckingham persuaded the prince to accompany him, and
crossed the Channel. Charles seems to have formed a romantic affection,
on hearsay evidence, for the Infanta, and followed his mentor with
enthusiasm. They travelled rapidly and in disguise, and were able to
present themselves at Madrid before the Spanish court had any idea
of their having started. Their presence put Philip IV. in no small
perplexity, for he had not really intended to complete the match.
His sister, the Infanta Maria, was dismayed at the prince's arrival,
and threatened to retire into a nunnery rather than marry him. There
followed an interminable series of negotiations, in which the Spaniards
attempted to scare off the unwelcome suitor, by proposing hard
conditions to him. But Charles at once accepted every proposal made,
even offering to grant complete toleration to Catholics in England,
which he knew that the nation and Parliament would never permit.
Buckingham, meanwhile, made himself much hated by the haughty Spanish
court, owing to his absurd arrogance and self-complacency. At last,
discovering that the Spaniards did not mean business, he persuaded
the prince to take a ceremonious leave of King Philip, and brought
him back to England. When they were well out of Spain, they sent back
an intimation that nothing more could be done till the king promised
to recover the Palatinate for the Elector Frederic--a polite way of
breaking off the match.

[Sidenote: =Alliance with France.=]

Highly indignant with the Spanish court for its blindness to his own
charms and attractions, the headstrong Buckingham resolved to revenge
himself on them. This was most easily done by forming an alliance
with France, the eternal enemy of Spain. Accordingly, the favourite,
on his return to England, began to urge the king and the prince to
declare war on Philip IV., and to take up the cause of Lewis XIII. For
once Buckingham had public opinion on his side, for war with Spain
was always popular in England. The Parliament voted liberal subsidies
for an army to be sent to Germany, and a French alliance was easily
concluded. Prince Charles, quite cured of his infatuation for the
Infanta, offered his hand to Henrietta Maria, the sister of Lewis XIII.
She was at once betrothed to him, and the preliminaries for marriage
were in progress when the old king suddenly died--worn out by slothful
living and hard drinking, to which he had grown much addicted of late
years (February, 1625).

[Sidenote: =Commercial and colonial expansion.=]

In two spheres only was the inglorious reign of James I. redeemed by
some measure of success. The first was the realm of trade and colonial
expansion. All through the early years of the century, English commerce
was steadily growing, especially with the remote regions of Africa,
China, India, and the Spice Islands. At the same time, the first
successful English colonies were planted. The second plantation of
Virginia was completed in 1607, the Bermudas were settled in 1616,
Barbados in 1605. The far more important New England colonies date from
1620-28; they were founded by groups of nonconformist Puritans, who
left their native country to escape the harassing laws against schism
to which they found themselves subject. It is only fair to add that,
when they had settled down in North America, they established a church
system quite as intolerant and oppressive as that from which they had

[Sidenote: =Ireland.--Ulster colonized.=]

The other sphere in which the reign of James showed a certain success
was Ireland. When O'Neil, Earl of Tyrone, the old adversary of Queen
Elizabeth, rebelled for a second time in 1607, his dominions in Ulster
were confiscated, and carefully portioned out among English and Scotch
settlers, who undertook never to resell them to natives. Many thousands
of colonists crossed St. George's Channel, and by 1625 Ulster had a
large and firmly rooted Protestant population, though its prosperity
was founded on the systematic oppression of the native Irish.


[35] So called because it was supposed to be signed by 1000 ministers.
As a matter of fact, it bore less than 800 names.


                   Margaret, Countess of Lennox.
          |                                                |
  Henry, Lord Darnley = Mary Queen of Scots.   Charles, Earl of Lennox.
                      |                                    |
                James VI. and I.                  Arabella Stuart.

[37] See p. 354.




The accession of Charles I. made a profound change in the destinies
of England, for though the new king had the same policy and the
same notions of government in Church and State as his father, yet
his personal character was wholly different. James had been before
all things a coward: he seldom dared to translate his theories into
action, and hence it came that he died peacefully in his bed. His son,
on the other hand, was not lacking in courage, and he was recklessly
obstinate; nothing could bend his will or teach him submission;
therefore he died on the scaffold.

[Sidenote: =Character of Charles I.=]

Yet Charles was in every way superior to his father. He was a man of
handsome face and stately carriage; though reared in a profligate
and vicious court, he had grown up with all the private virtues; as
a father and husband, he was admirable. He was sincerely religious,
and ardently loved the Church of England. He was a wise and judicious
patron of art and letters, but his tastes never led him into personal
extravagance. If he had been born a peer instead of a prince, he
would have been one of the best men of his day. But, unfortunately
for England and for himself, he inherited a crown and not a coronet.
He came to the helm of State fully persuaded of the truth of the two
maxims that his father had taught him--that the royal prerogative
overrode all the ancient national rights, and that the king ought to
judge for himself in all things, and follow his own ideas, not the
advice of his Parliament.

The accession of Charles was saluted with joy on all sides. The nation
thought that the young, chivalrous, and enterprising prince would
reverse all his father's policy--he would cast away the hated Spanish
alliance, and place England at the head of the Protestant powers of
Europe, the position that she had held in Elizabeth's day. It was hoped
that he would relegate the upstart Buckingham to the background, and
rule for himself, but in accordance with the wishes and aspirations of
the nation.

[Sidenote: =Continued ascendency of Buckingham.=]

The first jarring note was struck when it became evident that the king
was still under the control of his father's favourite. Villiers had
somehow contrived to master the mind of the staid and firm Charles
no less than that of the timid and irresolute James. When the first
Parliament of the new reign was summoned, it found him in full
possession of the king's ear, and dictating all his enterprises.

[Sidenote: =Demands for money refused by the Commons.=]

The enormous demands for money which Charles laid before the Commons
were enough to dash their spirits. The late king had left some
£800,000 of debts, and in addition to the sum required to discharge
them, £1,000,000 more was asked for purposes of war with Spain and
the Emperor. To the disgust of Charles and Buckingham, Parliament
voted only two subsidies, about £150,000, and granted "Tunnage and
Poundage"--the customs revenue of the kingdom--for one year only,
though it had been usual, in late reigns, to give it for the whole term
of the king's life.

[Sidenote: =Expedition against Cadiz.=]

The want of confidence which the Commons showed in Buckingham's
administrative capacity was thoroughly justified. His first military
adventure was a great expedition against the Spanish arsenal of Cadiz.
A large fleet was sent out, but the generals were incapable, and the
armament returned in a few months, without having accomplished anything
save the capture of a single Spanish fort (1625).

[Sidenote: =Loan of ships for the siege of La Rochelle.=]

Meanwhile a new trouble was brewing. Charles had carried out
Buckingham's scheme for an alliance with France, and had taken to wife
the Princess Henrietta Maria, sister of Lewis XIII., the moment that
the mourning for his father was over. Shortly after, his brother-in-law
asked him for the loan of eight men-of-war, for the French navy was
small and weak. The request was granted, and the French government
then proceeded to use the ships against the rebellious Huguenots of La
Rochelle, who were in arms against the king.

Now, the English nation had always felt much sympathy with the French
Protestants, their old companions-in-arms in the days of Elizabeth, and
the news that the royal navy was being used to coerce the Huguenots
caused a great outcry throughout the country. All the blame was laid on
Buckingham, as was but natural. He had also to face another accusation.
Unable to get enough money from Parliament to fit out the unhappy
expedition to Cadiz, the king had raised large sums by "benevolences"
and forced loans--the old expedient of Edward IV.

[Sidenote: =Parliament attacks Buckingham.=]

When, therefore, the second Parliament of the reign assembled in 1626,
it proceeded, not to grant subsidies for the war, but to petition
against Buckingham. The king took the matter in the most haughty and
high-handed manner. "I must let you know," he exclaimed, "that I will
not let any of my servants be questioned by you--much less those
that are of eminent place, and near to me." He denied, in short, the
ancient right of the House to petition against unpopular ministers--a
right which it had used fifty times in the fourteenth and fifteenth
centuries. But the Commons hardened their hearts, and proceeded to
impeach the duke for having raised illegal taxes, sold public offices
to unworthy persons, and lent the ships to France contrary to the
interests of the realm and the Protestant faith. The king's reply was
to dissolve them (June, 1626).

[Sidenote: =The French alliance broken off.=]

But the king and the duke had been seriously moved by the outcry
against the loan of the ships to King Lewis. In a vain attempt to
conciliate public opinion, and put themselves right with the nation,
they suddenly reversed their policy of the last two years, and resolved
to break with France, even though the Spanish war was still on their
hands. With inconceivable frivolity and thoughtlessness, Buckingham
proceeded to pick a quarrel with the French government, and to announce
his intention of aiding the Huguenot rebels in La Rochelle against
their sovereign.

[Sidenote: =Expedition in aid of La Rochelle.=]

War was declared against France, and Buckingham undertook to lead in
person a great armament which was to raise the siege of La Rochelle,
now closely beleaguered by the royal armies. This expedition came to a
bad end, like everything else which the headstrong and incapable duke
took in hand. He landed on the Isle of Rhé, opposite La Rochelle, to
drive off the French troops which shut the city in on the side of the
sea. But there he suffered a fearful disaster: part of his army was cut
to pieces, part compelled to surrender, and, after losing 4000 men, the
duke hastily re-embarked for England (October, 1627).

[Sidenote: =Buckingham assassinated.=]

But Buckingham was as obstinate as he was incompetent. He swore that
he would still save La Rochelle, and began to gather a second army at
Portsmouth to renew his attempt to raise the siege. While employed in
organizing his new troops, he was stabbed and mortally wounded by John
Felton, a discontented officer who had served under him in Rhé, and
wished to avenge his private wrongs and free the country of a tyrant by
this single blow (August, 1628).

By the death of his arrogant minister, the king obtained a splendid
opportunity of setting himself right with the nation and turning over
a new leaf. For men had agreed to consider Buckingham personally
answerable for the disasters and illegalities of the two last years,
and to hold the king guilty of nothing more than a misplaced confidence
in his favourite.

[Sidenote: =The Parliament of 1628.=]

Charles soon showed that he was not wiser nor more teachable than the
duke. He took no new favourite into his confidence, and proceeded
to act as his own prime minister, so that he made himself clearly
responsible for all that followed. He had summoned his third Parliament
early in 1628, hoping to extract from it the sums necessary to defray
Buckingham's projected second expedition to La Rochelle. The Commons
met in no pleasant mood, and were far more set on protesting against
the doings of Buckingham than on granting money. The new House
contained many men who were to be notable in after-years as the chief
opponents of the king's misrule: Oliver Cromwell appeared for the
first time to represent Huntingdon; Hampden, Pym, and Eliot were also
numbered among the members--all three considerable personages, who had
already protested against the methods of the king's administration.

[Sidenote: =The Petition of Right.=]

Instead of waiting to be attacked, the Parliament of 1628 took
the initiative, by presenting to the king the celebrated Petition
of Right--a document which demanded that certain ancient rights of
Englishmen should be formally conceded by the king, namely, that no
benevolences or forced loans should be demanded, no soldiers billeted
on citizens without payment, no man imprisoned except on a specified
and definite charge, and no martial law proclaimed in time of peace.
Unless this petition was granted, they intimated that no supplies
of money should be forthcoming (May 28). After some quibbling and
hesitation, Charles gave his assent; money was absolutely necessary to
him, and he was determined to have it. The subsidies were granted, and
then in a few months he proceeded to break his plighted word.

[Sidenote: =Parliament dissolved.=]

When the Parliament met after its adjournment in January, 1629, it
found that the king had already begun raising Tunnage and Poundage,
which had not yet been legally granted him, and was imprisoning those
who refused to pay. Their indignation was thoroughly roused, and they
displayed such a combative spirit, that Charles determined to dissolve
them at once. While his messenger was knocking at the door of the
House, the Commons passed a hasty resolution, "that any one who should
countenance Popery, or advise the levying of subsidies not granted
by Parliament, should be reputed a capital enemy to the kingdom and
commonwealth." This declaration had hardly been carried, when the
notice of dissolution was proclaimed (March 10, 1629).

[Sidenote: =Personal government.=]

After waging such bitter war with three successive Parliaments,
Charles resolved to try the unprecedented experiment of governing
without Parliaments at all. For eleven years he refused to summon the
two Houses, and ruled autocratically without any check on his will
(1629-1640). He marked his sense of the late Parliament's conduct by
apprehending several of its members, and sending three of them to the
Tower. Sir John Eliot, the most prominent of these captives, and one
of the best men of his day, languished to death in his prison, after a
confinement of no less than three years.

After this cruel and unconstitutional beginning, Charles persevered in
his evil ways. He chose a body of ministers who would obey his every
command, displaced such judges and officials as showed any regard for
the old customs of the realm, and governed like a Continental tyrant.
He was not a vicious or a malevolent man, but he was fully convinced
that his prerogative covered every illegal act that he might commit,
and he was persuaded that all who opposed him must be not only foolish
but evil-disposed persons. As to the Petition of Right, he managed to
forget that he had ever signed it.

[Sidenote: =Archbishop Laud.=]

The two chief councillors of the king in this unhappy period were
William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Thomas Wentworth, Lord
Strafford. The former was an honest but narrow-minded man, who had
made a great reputation at Oxford as President of St. John's College,
and had grown to note as the head of the High Church party in the
University. He was a good scholar and an excellent organizer, but a
martinet to the backbone. He accepted the archbishopric with the fixed
idea of suppressing and crushing the Puritan party in and out of the
Church of England. He hated the Puritan ideal of Church government on
republican lines without king or bishop, and he equally detested the
Calvinistic doctrine of predestination,[38] which was the shibboleth
of Puritan theology. The king was a good Churchman, and gave Laud
his full confidence; Laud, in return, became the zealous servant of
Charles in secular no less than in religious matters. Not only did
he teach consistently that it was a subject's duty to submit without
question to a divinely ordained king, not only did he devote himself
to molesting and harassing Puritans in the Church Courts, but he made
himself the most prominent personage among the king's ministers.
His name is signed at the top of every unwise ordinance that the
Privy Council ever produced. He sat regularly in the two ancient
but unconstitutional courts, the Star Chamber and the Court of High
Commission, which punished those who had offended King Charles in
matters secular or spiritual. Hence it came that he was hated, not only
as an ecclesiastical tyrant, but as a temporal oppressor. Yet at bottom
he was an honest and well-meaning man, who did but follow the dictates
of his somewhat pedantic conscience.

[Sidenote: =The Earl of Strafford.--"Thorough."=]

It is difficult to give even this moderate praise to the other great
minister who served King Charles. Sir Thomas Wentworth had been a
great enemy of Buckingham in Parliament, but after the duke's death
he suddenly went over to the king, and enlisted in his service.
Wentworth loved power above all things, and sold himself to Charles
for high promotion. It was this desertion of his old party that made
him so well hated by the friends of liberty. The king gave him the
title of Strafford, and entrusted him first with the "Presidency of
the North"--the government of the counties beyond the Humber; and
afterwards with the Lord-Deputyship of Ireland. Strafford was a very
capable man, with a hard hand and a great talent for organization.
He called his system the policy of "_Thorough_," by which he meant a
resolute persistence in ignoring all checks of custom or constitutional
usage which might restrain the king's action, and a determination to
crush all who dared to stand in his way.

[Sidenote: =Strafford's Irish policy.=]

The tale of Strafford's government in Ireland best illustrates what
"Thorough" implied. He reduced the island to a more perfect obedience
than it had ever known before, made its revenue and expenditure
balance, kept up a large and efficient army, and encouraged trade and
manufactures. But this was done at the cost of a ruthless disregard
alike for law and morality. Strafford bullied and cheated the Irish
Parliament; he set up illegal courts of justice; he dragooned the
Scottish settlers in Ulster into accepting episcopacy. His worst
measures, however, were reserved for the native Irish. On the
preposterous plea that the landlords of Connaught could show no valid
title-deeds for their estates, he proposed to confiscate the whole of
that province, and settle it up with English. As a matter of fact,
Connaught was mostly in the hands of ancient Celtic houses, who could
show a tenure of many centuries, but had never consigned their claims
to parchment. Strafford proposed to take heavy fines from a few of
the unfortunate landholders, and to wholly evict the rest from their
ancestral estates. And he would have done it, if troubles in England
had not called him away from his task.

[Sidenote: =Tyrannous measures of the king.=]

To enumerate all the unconstitutional acts of Charles I. in his
eleven years of tyranny would be tedious. He had resolved to raise a
sufficient revenue without Parliamentary grants, and to secure it he
discovered the most monstrous devices. He established monopolies in
the commonest products of trade, such as soap, linen, and leather. He
declared whole districts of England to be under forest law, though the
forests had disappeared centuries before, and took heavy fines from the
inhabitants. He revived the old law of Edward I., which compelled all
owners of £40 a year in land to receive knighthood, and made them pay
exorbitant fees for the honour. The arbitrary Star Chamber was set to
inflict heavy fines on rich men for offences which did not come under
the letter of any law, it strained angry words into libel or treason,
and made family broils or personal quarrels a fruitful source of
revenue. The fines ran up as high as £20,000.

[Sidenote: =Ship-Money.=]

Another invention of the king was the celebrated Ship-Money. In ancient
times sea-coast districts had been wont to pay a special contribution
in time of war, to provide vessels for the royal navy. Charles, in full
time of peace, proposed to raise this tax from every county in England,
as an annual imposition. John Hampden, the member for Buckinghamshire
in the last Parliament, refused to pay the twenty shillings at which he
was assessed, and took the case before the courts. But the subservient
judges decided in the king's favour, and Hampden was rigorously fined

[Sidenote: =The Repression of Puritans.--Bastwick's case.=]

Beside financial extortion, the king countenanced much oppression
of other sorts. Laud and his spiritual courts were always at work
against the Puritans. The net result of their work was that the whole
Calvinistic party in the Church of England went over to Nonconformity,
and became for the most part Presbyterians. Few but the "Arminian"[39]
High Churchmen remained in the Establishment. It is probable that these
eleven years tripled the number of schismatics in the country. To
illustrate the dealings of the Government with clamorous Puritans, the
case of Dr. John Bastwick may be taken as an example. He accused the
bishops of a tendency to Popery in a tract called "The New Litany." For
this he was sentenced to lose both his ears, to stand in the pillory,
to be fined £5000, and to be imprisoned till his death (1637).

[Sidenote: =The Star Chamber.--Prynne's case.=]

Such sentences, however, were not uncommon in the Court of Star
Chamber; nor were they reserved for offenders against spiritual peers
only. A case may be quoted even more astonishing than that of Bastwick.
A lawyer named William Prynne wrote a book called "Histriomastix,"
protesting against the growing immorality of the stage. It contained
words supposed to reflect on Queen Henrietta Maria, who was very fond
of plays, and had sometimes acted in masques herself. For this Prynne
was condemned to the same penalty as Bastwick--the pillory, the loss of
his ears, and a fine of £5000.

It is not unnatural that England grew more and more disloyal as the
years went by. The whole country was seething with discontent. Yet it
was not south but north of the Tweed that the first blow was to be
struck; it seemed that English wrath needed a Parliament to make its
voice articulate. The Scots, on the other hand, found their centre of
resistance in the strong local organization of their Kirk.

[Sidenote: =Attempt to force Episcopacy on Scotland.=]

The cause of the Scottish outbreak was the king's attempt to force
Episcopal government and High Church doctrine on the Kirk of Scotland,
which was deeply attached to its Presbyterian constitution, and wholly
committed to Calvinistic theology. Both James I. and Charles in his
earlier years had made spasmodic attempts to bring the northern Church
up to the same level of faith and ritual as that which prevailed in the
south. They had been sturdily resisted, but the struggle had not grown
quite desperate till 1637, when Charles and Laud seriously took in hand
the conversion of Scotland. The first grievance was the issue, by royal
authority alone, of a set of "canons"--or Church rules--drawn up by
Laud (1636). They were universally disregarded, but in the following
year matters came to a head when the king ordered a new Book of Common
Prayer, drawn up on an Anglican model, to be taken into use in all the
churches of Scotland. The attempt to introduce it led to the celebrated
riot in St. Giles's, Edinburgh, where (as the story goes) the turmoil
was started by an old woman hurling her stool at the dean's head, with
the war-cry, "Will you say the Mass in my lug?" (ear). All the clergy
who attempted to use the new Service-book were hustled and driven away
(July, 1637).

[Sidenote: =The National Covenant.=]

It was evident that Charles would bitterly resent this national
outburst, and in self-defence the Scots--nobles, ministers, and
burgesses alike--entered into the "National Covenant," a solemn sworn
agreement to stand by each other to resist tyranny and Popery. Soon
after, the General Assembly of the Kirk met at Glasgow, declared the
Scottish bishops tainted with Romanism, condemned the king's new canons
and Book of Prayer, and proclaimed that Episcopacy was altogether
opposed to the rules of faith.

[Sidenote: =The Scots take up arms.=]

This was open rebellion in the king's eyes, and he immediately began
to make preparations for a military expedition against Scotland. The
whole country was in the hands of the Covenanters, save some of the
wild Highland districts, and it was evident that a national war was
impending. At the first news of the king's movements, the Scots raised
an army of more than 20,000 men, led by veteran officers who had served
on the Protestant side in the wars of Germany. This formidable force
advanced to Dunse Law, in Berwickshire, and prepared to defend the
line of the Tweed. The king had no standing army, save the troops whom
Strafford had organized in Ireland: he was therefore compelled to call
out the gentry and militia of the northern counties. It soon became
apparent that he would not be able to rely on any willing service from
these levies. Half England thought the Scots in the right; the men
came in unwillingly and in inadequate numbers; and Charles found at
York only a raw discontented force, quite unready to take the field.
Dismayed at his weakness, he began to negotiate with the insurgents
(June, 1639), but they would take no compromise, and as neither men nor
money were forthcoming, the king was forced to take the desperate step
of summoning a Parliament to grant him supplies.

[Sidenote: =The Short Parliament.=]

The two Houses met in the spring of 1640, in no placable frame of
mind. Eleven years of tyranny had maddened the nation, and now that
England had found her voice again, it spoke with no uncertain sound.
Her mood was quickly shown. Led by John Pym, the member for Tavistock,
the Commons at once announced that they were come together to discuss
grievances before thinking of grants of supply. Charles immediately
dissolved the Parliament ere it had sat three weeks. Hence it is known
as the "Short Parliament" (April-May, 1640).

[Sidenote: =The Rout of Newburn.=]

Hardening his heart, Charles raised a few thousand pounds by
ship-money and other illegal devices, and launched his disaffected and
undisciplined army against the Scots. But the men disbanded themselves
at the first shot, and, after the disgraceful rout of Newburn, the
Covenanters were able to occupy Northumberland and Durham, and
established their head-quarters at Newcastle (August, 1640). The king
had already summoned Strafford from Ireland, and the great Lord-Deputy
had come over, but without his army. He was now given command of the
wrecks of the levies in the north; but even he could not compel that
discontented host to stand or fight. In despair, the king saw that
he must make concessions to the nation, and called a new Parliament
(November 3, 1640).

[Sidenote: =The Long Parliament.=]

For the fifth time Charles found himself confronted with the angry
representatives of the nation that he had wronged. But this time the
engagement was to be no short skirmish, but a long and desperate
battle, destined to endure for eight years, and to end only with his
overthrow and death. The "Long Parliament," unlike its predecessors,
was to exist for many years. With it the king was to fight out the
great dispute for the "sovereignty" of England--to settle whether, for
the future, the royal prerogative or the will of the Commons was to be
the stronger factor in the governance of the realm. In the existing
crisis Charles felt that he was, for the moment, entirely at the mercy
of the two Houses. The exchequer was empty, the army disloyal, an
active enemy was in possession of the Northern counties. He shrank from
playing his last stake by bringing over Strafford's troops from Ireland
to resist the Scots, though the stern Lord-Deputy strongly urged him to
take that measure.

[Sidenote: ="King Pym."=]

When Parliament met, the same men who had been seen as members in
1628, and in the "Short Parliament" of the last spring, stood forward
to confront the king. Pym at once marshalled all the forces of
discontent into a compact host; so great was the power over them which
he displayed, that he soon was nicknamed "King Pym" by the friends of
Charles. He and his confidants were already in secret communication
with the Scots, and spoke all the more boldly, because they knew that
they could call down the Covenanting host on London, if the king should
dare to withstand them.

[Sidenote: =Arrest of Strafford and Laud.=]

The "Long Parliament" met on November 3. It at once proceeded to
business. Eight days later, Pym moved that Strafford should be
impeached for treason, and, in the following month, Laud was also
arraigned on the same charge. Both were arrested, and sent to the
Tower. The king made no attempt to defend them. Apparently, he was so
conscious of his helplessness, and so dismayed by the riotous mob of
London, and the fierce words of the Commons, that he had completely
lost his head. It is certain that, if he had resisted, none but a few
courtiers would have backed him. He sank in the most extraordinary way,
in six months, from an autocrat into a nerveless, hunted creature,
amazed at the wrath he had roused, and quite unable to defend himself.

[Sidenote: =Trial and execution of Strafford.=]

The dealings of the Parliament with the two great ministers, the
archbishop and the Lord-Deputy, were summary and harsh, even to
injustice. It is true that both Laud and Strafford had been cruel
enemies of the liberties of England, but it would have been well, in
punishing them, to proceed on the best constitutional precedents, and
to let the course of justice be clear and calm. Strafford was impeached
before the peers, and there was brought against him a vast weight of
evidence to prove that, both as President of the North and as Governor
of Ireland, he had committed scores of illegal, arbitrary, and cruel
acts. But that the acts amounted to treason was not evident, and Pym
and his friends were determined to find Strafford guilty of nothing
less. After fourteen days' sittings, the accusers suddenly determined
to change their procedure. Dropping the method of impeachment,
they determined to crush Strafford by a simple declaratory bill of
attainder, which stated that he had committed treason, and was worthy
of death. This bill was brought into the House of Commons on April
10, and all its three readings were carried in eleven days. The main
point on which the charge of treason was founded, was Strafford's
advice to the king to bring over the Irish army, and the only proof of
that advice was a paper of notes made in the Privy Council, which had
surreptitiously come into Pym's hands.[40] Strafford had said, "Your
Majesty has an army in Ireland, that you may employ to reduce this
kingdom to obedience." It was not even certain that "this kingdom"
meant England, and not Scotland, but on that evidence Strafford was
convicted of plotting to levy war against the State. The vast majority
of the Commons were determined to have his blood; 204 members voted for
the bill, only 59 against it, and the names of the minority were soon
placarded all over London as traitors to the commonwealth. The House
of Lords approved the bill of attainder, and it was sent to the king.
Charles had secretly given Strafford a pardon for all his acts, and
promised to save his life. But in a moment of alarm, with the angry
shouts of the Londoners ringing in his ears, he gave his assent to the
bill. It was an inexcusably selfish and cowardly act, the one deed in
all his life which we must stamp as mean and perfidious, as well as
unwise. Strafford suffered on Tower Hill, with the stern courage that
had marked all his acts, muttering, "Put not your trust in princes"
with his last breath (May 12, 1641).

[Sidenote: =Impeachment of Laud and others.=]

It was now the turn of the old archbishop. He was impeached on the 15th
of December, both for illegal acts in the Star Chamber and the Court
of High Commission, of which he was undoubtedly guilty, and for secret
encouragement of Popery, of which he was as undoubtedly innocent. The
articles drawn up against him were approved by the vote of both Houses,
but he was not at once tried, but allowed to linger in the Tower, where
he was to spend more than two years. Several minor ministers of the
Crown were also impeached--Windebank, the secretary of state; Finch,
the lord keeper; and the judges who had given the unrighteous decision
in the ship-money case. The more prominent of these tools of the king
saved themselves by flying over-sea.

[Sidenote: =Measures of reform.=]

But while bent on vengeance for the past, the Long Parliament was also
desirous of securing good governance for the future. The spring and
summer of 1641 saw the abolition of most of the machinery which Charles
had used to carry out his tyranny. The two great unconstitutional
courts, the Star Chamber and the Court of High Commission, were
abolished by a law passed in July. By another, carried in February, it
was provided that Parliaments should be triennial, and that, if the
king refrained for three years from calling the two Houses together,
they should have the right to meet without his summons. In June a
bill was drawn up, declaring illegal the exaction of ship-money,
benevolences, and the rest of the king's favourite forms of extortion.
An excellent device for keeping the law-courts free from royal
interference was found by making the judges hold their office, not
during the king's pleasure, but "_dum se bene gesserint_"--as long as
they faithfully discharged their office. This swept away the power
which the Stuarts had habitually used, of displacing every judge who
gave decisions against the prerogative.

[Sidenote: =The "Root-and-Branch" Bill.=]

If the Long Parliament had halted here, we should owe it nothing but
thanks and praise. Unfortunately, however, it soon began to press on
from redressing national grievances to pandering to party animosities.
Most of its leading members were Puritans, and of them a majority was
formed by those who had left the Church and taken to Presbyterianism.
These Nonconformists were burning to revenge themselves on the Church
of England for the tyranny which Laud and the Court of High Commission
had exercised over them. The first symptom of their wrath was a bill
for excluding the bishops from the House of Lords; this was afterwards
enlarged into a scheme for abolishing the bishops altogether, and
reorganizing the Church on a Presbyterian basis. In this form it was
popularly known as the "Root-and-Branch" Bill, from a term used in a
great London petition in its favour.

[Sidenote: =Split in the Parliamentary party.=]

This sweeping party measure at once threw all the moderate men in
the House, who remained loyal Churchmen, though they were also
constitutional reformers, into a violent opposition to the majority.
After much fierce debating, Pym and his friends passed the second
reading by a small majority (138 to 105) in May, 1641. The third
reading was bitterly debated all through the summer, but never carried
through; in face of the danger of splitting the party of reform, the
promoters of the bill wisely dropped it (August, 1641). But they
never succeeded in reuniting the Churchmen to themselves in the firm
alliance that had existed before. Men like Lord Falkland, Edward Hyde,
John Colepepper, and others of equally liberal views, began to doubt
the wisdom of continuing to act with a party which was tending to
appear more like a synod of fanatics than a committee of constitutional

[Sidenote: =Position of the king.=]

It was the appearance of this split in the Parliament that first
brought some comfort to the disconsolate Charles. After giving a weak
and insincere assent to every bill that was sent up to him in the
summer, he began to pluck up his heart in the autumn of 1641. It was
now his cue to assume the position of a constitutional king, and to
accept the present position of affairs. But in his heart he was, no
doubt, beginning to dream of ridding himself of his oppressors by the
aid of the Church party and the moderate men. He spent the autumn in a
visit to Scotland, where he endeavoured to conciliate the Covenanters
by granting every request that they laid before him. But, at the same
time, he was in secret negotiation with those of the Scottish nobles
who disliked the domination of the Kirk, and was endeavouring to build
up a Royalist party in the land.

[Sidenote: =The Irish Rebellion.=]

It was while Charles lay in the north that there burst out troubles
in Ireland, which were fated to do him no small harm. The iron hand
of Strafford had kept the Irish down for a space, in spite of all the
wrongs and injustice which he had committed. When Strafford, however,
was gone, the wrath of the oppressed natives boiled over, with all the
more vigour because of this cruel repression. In October, 1641, there
broke out a great national and religious rebellion, such as had not
been seen since the days of Elizabeth. The old Irish clans rose to
cast out and slay the English colonists. The Anglo-Irish Catholics of
the Pale took arms at the same time, not to make Ireland independent,
but to compel the king to take off all laws against Romanism, and turn
the island into a Catholic country. In the North of Ireland, where the
plantation of Ulster had worked the cruelest wrongs, the rising was
attended with horrible atrocities. The natives, headed by Sir Phelim
O'Neil, a distant kinsman of the old Earls of Tyrone, slew some 5000 of
the unarmed colonists in cold blood. Many thousands more died from cold
and starvation, being cast out of their dwellings and hunted away naked
in the cold autumn weather. Unhappily for the king, the rebels thought
it wise to give out that they acted by his permission in taking arms,
and that they only struck at the English Parliament and the Protestant
religion. Phelim O'Neil even showed a letter purporting to come from
Charles, and bearing the royal seal of Scotland, where the king at that
moment was staying. It was a forgery, and the seal was taken from an
old deed; but the English Puritans would believe anything of Charles,
and jumped to the conclusion that he was guilty of fostering the
rising, and therefore of authorizing the massacre.

[Sidenote: =The Grand Remonstrance.=]

Under the stress of the news from Ireland, the Long Parliament
reassembled in the winter of 1641-42, in no amiable frame of mind. They
signalized their reassembly by putting forth the "Grand Remonstrance,"
a kind of historical summary of all the illegalities which Charles had
committed since his accession, followed by a list of their own reforms
already carried out, and a scheme for further reforms to come. These
last were to include a bill to make the king choose no ministers or
officials save such as Parliament should recommend to him, another for
the complete suppression of Romanism, and a third for the "reformation"
of the Church of England in the direction of pure Protestantism,
that is, of extreme Puritanism. The first half of the "Remonstrance"
passed the Commons with little opposition, but the last clauses,
which practically bound the House to abolish Episcopacy and turn the
Established Church into a Presbyterian Kirk, were hotly opposed by
all the moderate party. In the end they passed by a narrow majority
of eleven. But the victory of the Puritans involved a complete schism
in the House. All the Church party now resolved that they would go no
further; they would rather trust the king, in spite of all his faults,
than the fanatical Presbyterians. For the first time in his life,
Charles found himself allied to a powerful party in the Lower House.

[Sidenote: =Attempted arrest of the five members.=]

He might have regained much of his authority if he had now played his
cards wisely. But unwisdom was always his characteristic. Taking heart
at the divisions among the Commons, he resolved to attempt a _coup
d'état_. On January 4, 1642, he suddenly came down to the House, with a
great armed retinue of three or four hundred men, intending to arrest
the five chiefs of the Puritan party--Pym, Hampden, Holles, Hazelrig,
and Strode. They had received warning of his approach, and fled to the
City, where the London militia armed in thousands to protect them.
The king looked round the House, and noted that the five members were
not present. "I see the birds are flown," he exclaimed, and, after an
awkward speech of apology, left the House.

[Sidenote: =Charles leaves London.=]

The plan had completely failed. The Puritans were warned that the king
was ready to resume his old illegal habits, and had not learnt his new
position as a constitutional ruler. Charles himself was so mortified
at the frustration of his scheme, that he hastily decamped, abandoning
his capital to the Parliament and its enthusiastic supporters, the
merchants and burgesses of the City.

[Sidenote: =Preparations for war.--The Royalist party.=]

The die was now cast. The next six months were occupied by both sides
in preparations for war, which was evidently at hand. Every man had
now to choose his side and make up his mind. The king went round the
Midlands, holding conferences with all whom he thought might be induced
to support him. He found more encouragement than he had expected. A
large majority of the peerage were on his side. They objected to being
ruled by a House of Commons which had grown violent and fanatical.
Almost the whole body of Churchmen all over the kingdom were also ready
to join him. When forced to choose between a king who had been guilty
of oppression and unwisdom, but who was undoubtedly a good Churchman
like themselves, and a Parliament ruled by schismatics who wished to
wreck the old Church, they reluctantly but firmly threw in their lot
with Charles. There were whole shires where the Puritans were few and
the Church was strong, and in these the king found promise of steady
support. There were thousands who were moved by the old instinct
of loyalty, and thousands more who hoped--unwisely perhaps, but
whole-heartedly--that their master had learnt moderation, and would, if
triumphant, never return to his old courses. Meanwhile Charles took a
step which showed that he was preparing for the worst. He sent his wife
over-sea, with all the money he could collect, and his crown jewels,
bidding her spend the whole in buying munitions of war in France and

[Sidenote: =The Commons claim control of the militia.=]

The Parliamentarians also were making their preparations. They were
determined to get possession of the armed force of the nation--the
militia, or "train-bands" of the shires and boroughs. With this object
they sent the king proposals, which they could hardly expect him to
accept, that for the future the right to call out and officer the
militia should be vested in the two Houses, and not in the Crown. The
negative answer was promptly sent them back from Newmarket. They then
proceeded to pass an ordinance, arrogating to themselves the right to
nominate the lord-lieutenants, the official commanders of the militia,
and ordering military authorities to look for their orders to the
Houses, and not to the king. This ordinance never received the royal
sanction, and was, of course, illegal in form; nevertheless, it was
acted upon.

[Sidenote: =Charles at Hull.=]

The crisis began when, in April, the king called on Sir John Hotham,
governor of Hull, to admit him within the walls of that town, and make
over to him a store of arms and munitions which lay there. Hotham shut
the gates, and answered that he took orders from the Parliament alone.

The next two months were spent by both parties in gathering armies.
In June the king sent "commissions of array" to trustworthy persons
in every county, bidding them muster men in his name. The Parliament
replied, not only by putting the militia under arms, but by raising new
levies for permanent service in the field, under officers whom they
could trust. They gave the supreme command to the Earl of Essex, the
man who thirty years before had been so cruelly wronged by James I. and
his favourite Somerset.

On August 22 the king set up his standard at Nottingham, and bade all
his friends come to meet him. At the same time, Essex marched north
from London. The war had begun.


[38] The theory that all men are born to salvation or perdition,
according to God's will, and have no share or responsibility in their
own fate.

[39] Arminius was a Dutch divine who violently opposed the doctrine of
predestination; hence those who denied it were often called Arminians.

[40] The notes were made by Sir H. Vane, one of the council, and a
strong Royalist. But they came into the hands of his son, a bitter
opponent of the king, who gave them to Pym.




Nine years of almost continuous war, broken by only one short interval
in 1647-48, followed the raising of the royal standard at Nottingham,
on the 22nd of August, 1642. The first half of the contest (1642-46)
may be defined as the struggle against the person of Charles, the
second as the struggle against the principle of kingly government after
Charles himself had fallen.

[Sidenote: =Principles of the two parties.--The king.=]

When the war began there was hardly a man on either side who did not
believe that he was fighting in behalf of constitutional monarchy. The
king and his party disavowed all intention of restoring autocratic
government. On the royal standard and the royal coinage Charles bade
the motto be placed, "I will defend the laws of England, the liberties
of Parliament, and the Protestant religion." He declared that he was
in arms to protect the old constitution against the encroachments of a
Parliamentary faction who wished to degrade the crown and to destroy
the Church.

[Sidenote: =The Parliamentarians.=]

The followers of Pym and Hampden, on the other hand, were equally
loud in protesting that they were in arms only to protect the ancient
liberties of the realm, not to set up a new polity. They professed the
greatest respect for the Crown, used the king's name in all their acts
and documents, and stated that they were only anxious to come to terms
with him on conditions which should give sufficient guarantees for the
future welfare of the realm.

[Sidenote: =Mutual mistrust.=]

But there was a fatal weakness in the programme, both of the royal
and the Parliamentary party. The king's friends could never trust the
Parliament's professions, because they believed it to be led by a
band of fanatical schismatics. The Parliamentarians could never bring
themselves to confide in the ruler against whom there stood the evil
record of the years 1629-1640, and the even more discreditable incident
of the attempt to seize the five members. When two enemies cannot trust
each other's plighted word, they can do nothing but fight out their
quarrel to the bitter end.

[Sidenote: =Local distribution of the parties.=]

At the moment when Charles marched from Nottingham, and Lord Essex
from London, in August, 1642, neither party had yet any correct notion
as to its own or its enemy's strength. In every county and borough
of England each side had a following; as to which following was the
stronger in each case, it was hard to make a guess. One thing only was
clear--rural England was, on the whole, likely to cleave to the king;
urban England to oppose him. Wherever the towns lay thick, Puritanism
was strong; London, the populous Eastern Counties, Kent, the cluster of
growing places on the borders of Yorkshire and Lancashire, from Leeds
to Liverpool, were all Parliamentarian strongholds. On the other hand,
in the West and the North, and among the Welsh hills, the Church was
still omnipotent, and Nonconformity was weak. These districts were led
by the local peers, and still more by the county gentry, and of both
those classes a large majority held to the king.

But no general rule could be drawn. There were towns like Worcester,
York, Oxford, Exeter, where for various local reasons the king's party
was the stronger. Similarly, there were many peers--about a third
of the House of Lords--who adhered to the Parliamentary interest,
and where they dominated the countryside it stood by the cause of
the Commons. We need only mention the local influence of the Earl of
Warwick in his own district of the Midlands, of the Earl of Manchester
in Huntingdonshire, of Lord Fairfax in Mid-Yorkshire, as examples of
the fact that the Parliamentary cause could draw much assistance from
the magnates of the land. Still more was this the case among the lesser
landholders. In the east of England a very large proportion of the
gentry and all the yeomanry were zealous Puritans; even in the west
there was a sprinkling of "Roundheads"[41] among the Royalist majority.

[Sidenote: =Humane character of the war.=]

It was the saddest feature of the war, therefore, that every man had to
draw the sword against his nearest neighbour, and that the opponents
differed from each other, not so much on principle as on a point of
judgment--the doubt whether the king or the Parliamentary majority
could best be trusted to defend the old constitution. On each side
there were many who armed with a doubting heart, not fully convinced
that they had chosen their side wisely. This, at any rate, had one
good effect--the war was, on the whole, mercifully waged; there were
few executions, no massacres, very little plundering. If we compare
it with the civil wars of France or Germany, we are astonished at the
moderation and self-restraint of our ancestors.

[Sidenote: =The king's forces.=]

It was in August, 1642, as we have already mentioned, that King Charles
bade his followers meet him at Nottingham. The Royalists of the
Northern Midlands came to him in numbers far less than he had expected,
wherefore he moved west to Shrewsbury, to rally his partisans from
Lancashire, Cheshire, and Wales, where he knew that they were many and
loyal. They came forward in great strength, and Charles was able to
begin to organize his army into regiments and brigades. The cavalry was
very numerous, if wholly untrained; the nobles and gentry turned out
in vast throngs, and brought every tenant and servant that could sit a
horse. The infantry were the weaker arm; the squires preferred to serve
among the cavalry; the townsfolk and peasantry, who should have swelled
the foot-levies, were often apathetic where they were not disloyal.
It was only in certain limited districts--Wales, Cornwall, and the
North were the most noted--that the king could raise a trustworthy
foot-soldiery. In the army that mustered at Shrewsbury he had 6000
cavalry to 8000 infantry--far too large a proportion of the former. Nor
was it easy to arm the foot; pikes and muskets were hard to procure,
as compared with the trooper's sword. The king gave the command of the
army to Lord Lindsey, but made his nephew, Rupert of the Palatinate,
general of the horse.

[Sidenote: =The Parliamentary forces.=]

Among the troops which Essex was enrolling and drilling at Northampton,
the exact reverse was the case. The infantry were numerous and willing;
the artisans of London and the men of the Eastern Counties had
volunteered in thousands. But the cavalry was weak; the admixture of
gentry and yeomen in its ranks did not suffice to leaven the mass; many
were city-bred men, unaccustomed to riding, many more were wastrels who
had enlisted to get the better pay of the horse-soldier. Cromwell, who
served in one of these regiments, denounced them to Hampden as "mostly
old decayed tapsters and serving-men," and asked, "How shall such base
and mean fellows be able to encounter gentlemen of honour and courage
and resolution?"

[Sidenote: =Charles moves towards London.=]

In September the two raw armies were both moving westward, but
when Charles had filled his ranks and got his men into some order,
he determined to advance on London. Marching by Bridgenorth and
Birmingham, he reached the slopes of Edgehill, on the borders of
Warwickshire and Oxfordshire, on October 23. He had slipped round the
flank of Lord Essex, who was waiting for him at Worcester, and the
Parliamentary army only overtook him by hard marching. When he saw the
enemy approaching, Charles ranged his order of battle on the hillside,
and charged down on Essex, who was getting into array on the plain

[Sidenote: =Battle of Edgehill.=]

The incidents of Edgehill were typical of the whole struggle. On each
flank the king's gallant horsemen swept off the Parliamentarian cavalry
like chaff before the wind; and a third of the infantry of Essex was
also carried away in the disaster. But the reckless Cavaliers, headed
by Prince Rupert, were so maddened by the joy of victory, that they
rode on for miles, driving the fugitives before them, and gave no
thought to the main battle. Meanwhile, in the centre, Lord Essex, at
the head of the two-thirds of his infantry which had stood firm, had
encountered the king's foot with very different results. After a short
struggle, he burst through the Royalist centre, and captured the king's
standard and the whole of his artillery. A few hundred Parliamentary
horse--Oliver Cromwell was among them--had escaped from the general
flight of their comrades, and by their aid Essex cut several regiments
of the Royalists to pieces, and thrust the rest in disorder up the
slopes of Edgehill.

[Illustration: EDGEHILL

Sept. 1642.]

[Sidenote: =Charles at Brentford.=]

When Rupert and his horse returned at eventide, they found to their
surprise that they had taken part in a drawn battle, not in a victory.
Both sides were left in the same position as before the fight, but
the king had one advantage--he was the nearer to London, and was able
to march off in the direction of the capital. Essex, with his cavalry
gone and his infantry much mauled, could not detain him, and was
constrained to make for London by the long route of Warwick, Towcester,
and St. Albans, while the king moved by a shorter line through Oxford
and Reading. But Charles lingered on the way, and the travel-worn
troops of the earl reached the goal first. Even now, if Charles had
struck desperately at London, he might perhaps have taken it. But his
irresolute mind was cowed by a strong line of earthworks at Turnham
Green, behind which lay not only Essex, but the whole train-bands of
the capital, 20,000 strong. Instead of assaulting the lines, he drew
back to Reading, and sent proposals of peace to the Parliament, hoping
that their confidence was sufficiently shaken to make them listen to
his offers (November 11).

[Sidenote: =Charles retires to Oxford.=]

This retrograde movement was his ruin. The City had trembled while
the host of the Cavaliers lay at Brentford and Kingston; but when it
withdrew without daring an assault, the spirits of leaders and people
rose again, and there was no talk of surrender or compromise. For
the rest of the winter, however, the operations languished in front
of London. The king retired to Oxford, which he made his arsenal and
base of operations; the Parliamentarians remained quiet, guarding the

[Sidenote: =Local contests throughout England.=]

While the campaign of Edgehill and Brentford was in progress, there
was fighting going on all over England. In each district the local
partisans of king and Commons were striving for the mastery. In the
East the Roundheads carried the day everywhere; the whole coast from
Portsmouth to Hull, with all the seaboard counties, fell into their
hands. In the West and North the result was very different; Sir Ralph
Hopton beat the king's enemies out of Cornwall and the greater part
of Devon. The whole of Wales, except the single port of Pembroke, was
won for Charles. In Yorkshire there was fierce fighting between two
local magnates, the Marquis of Newcastle on the royal, Lord Fairfax
on the Parliamentary side. By the end of the winter Newcastle had
got possession of the whole county except Hull, and the cluster of
manufacturing towns in the West Riding and on the Lancashire border. He
had raised an army of 10,000 men, and controlled the whole countryside
from the borders of the Scots as far as Newark-on-Trent. But in the
Midlands the first campaign settled nothing; districts that held for
the king and districts that held for the Parliament were intermixed
in hopeless confusion. It would obviously need much further fighting
before any definite result could be secured.

[Sidenote: =Charles in want of money.=]

After futile negotiations had filled the winter months, the spring
of 1643 saw the renewal of operations all over the face of the land.
The negotiations, indeed, were but a foolish waste of time. It was
not likely that the king would accept the two conditions which the
Parliament made a _sine quâ non_--the grant to them of the power of
the sword by the Militia Bill, and of the right to "reform" the Church
by turning it into a Presbyterian Kirk. The struggle had to proceed,
though both parties found it extremely hard to maintain. The king more
especially had the greatest difficulty in finding the "sinews of war."
The sale of the crown jewels was but a temporary expedient; the loyal
offerings of the Oxford Colleges, who sent all their gold and silver
plate to be melted down at the mint which the king had set up in their
midst, could not last for long. The Royalist gentry soon stripped
their sideboards and strong boxes bare. The want of a regular supply of
money was always checking the king's movements. He called together a
Parliament at Oxford, to which came a majority of the House of Lords,
and nearly a third of the House of Commons, and this body granted him
the right to raise forced loans under his privy seal, and to take
excise duties all over the realm; but as the richest part of England
was not in his hands, this financial scheme was not very successful.
Charles was always on the verge of seeing his army disband for want
of pay. The Parliamentarians were somewhat better off, owing to their
control of London and the other chief ports of the kingdom, but even
they were often in dire straits for money, and heard unpaid regiments
clamouring in vain for food and raiment.

[Sidenote: =1643. Royalist successes--(1) in the West.=]

The events of the campaign of 1643 were no more decisive than those
of the previous autumn. In the centre the king and Essex watched each
other all through the summer without coming to a pitched battle. The
only event of note in these months was the death of Hampden, the
second man in importance among the Parliamentary leaders, in a cavalry
skirmish at Chalgrove Field. But on the two flanks the Royalists gained
important successes. Hopton, with the army of the West, swept over
Somerset and Wilts, routing Sir William Waller--an enterprising but
very unlucky general--at Lansdown (July 5), and afterwards at Roundway
Down near Devizes (July 13). In consequence of these victories,
Bristol, the second town in the kingdom, fell into Royalist hands
(July 26). A further advance put the army of the West in possession
of Hampshire and Dorsetshire, so the Roundheads retained nothing in
the South, except the ports of Plymouth and Portsmouth, with a few
scattered garrisons more.

[Sidenote: =(2) in the North.--The "Associated Counties."=]

At the same time, the Marquis of Newcastle beat Lord Fairfax and
his son Sir Thomas, the mainstays of the Parliamentary cause in
the North--at Adwalton Moor (June 30)--a victory which enabled him
to conquer the Puritan stronghold in the West Riding, and to drive
the last wrecks of the enemy into Hull. Newcastle would have won
Lincolnshire also, but for the resistance made by a new force, the levy
of the "Associated Counties." The shires of Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex,
Cambridge, and Huntingdon, had banded themselves together to raise a
local army. It was a zealous and well-disciplined force, commanded by
Lord Manchester, under whom Oliver Cromwell served as general of horse.
It was Cromwell's ability as a cavalry leader which saved Lincolnshire
to the Parliament, by the winning of the hard-fought engagements of
Gainsborough (July 28) and Winceby (October 11).

[Sidenote: =Siege of Gloucester.--First Battle of Newbury.=]

Charles should now have called in Hopton and Newcastle to his aid,
and marched straight on London. But both the West-country and the
Yorkshire Royalists disliked leaving their own districts. Hopton's and
Newcastle's men protested against being called up to Oxford before
they had made a complete end of their own local enemies. Charles was
weak enough to yield to their wish, and meanwhile resolved to take
Gloucester, the one great Roundhead stronghold left in the West. He
laid siege to it on August 10; but on the news of his march westward,
the Parliament gave Lord Essex peremptory orders to attempt its relief
at all costs. Reinforced by six strong regiments of London train-bands,
zealous but new to war, he marched with 15,000 men into the West. When
he approached the besiegers, Charles resolved not to fight in his
siege-lines, but to attack Essex in the open. He therefore raised the
siege, allowed the earl to revictual Gloucester, but placed himself
across the line of retreat to London. At Newbury, in Berkshire, Essex
found the king's army arrayed on both sides of the London road, and
ready to receive him (September 19). There followed a fierce fight
among lanes and hedges, as Essex strove to pierce or outflank the royal
line. Prince Rupert threw away the best of his horsemen in attempts
to break the solid masses of the London train-bands, who showed a
steady power of resistance very admirable in such young soldiers. In
one of these desperate charges fell Lord Falkland, the wisest and most
moderate of the king's councillors, who is said to have deliberately
thrown away his life because of his sorrow at the long continuance
of the war. After a hard day's work, the earl had partly cut his way
through; and in the night the king, alarmed at the fact that his
infantry and artillery had exhausted all their powder, ordered his army
to retreat on Oxford. Then the Parliamentarians were able to force
their way to Reading without further molestation.

[Illustration: ENGLAND

AT THE END OF 1643.]

[Sidenote: =The Solemn League and Covenant.=]

Thus the end of the campaign of 1643 left matters in the centre much
as they had been nine months before. But on the flanks, in Yorkshire
and the south-west, the Royalists had won much ground, and were in
full communication with the king through their strong posts in Bristol
and Newark. While arms had proved unable to settle the struggle, both
sides had been trying to gain help from without--the Parliament in
Scotland, the king in Ireland. The zealous Covenanters of the North,
before consenting to give armed support to the Roundheads, insisted
on receiving pledges from their allies. Accordingly, the Parliament
swore a Solemn League and Covenant, "to preserve the Kirk of Scotland
in doctrine, worship, and governance, and to reform religion in the
Church of England according to God's Holy Word." The second clause
implied the destruction of Episcopacy, and the introduction of
Presbyterianism into the southern kingdom (September 25). In return for
this pledge the Scots promised to send an army of 10,000 or 15,000 men
over the Tweed in the following spring. The conclusion of this treaty
was the last work of Pym, the king of the Commons, who died six weeks
later. No civilian came forward among the ranks of the Parliamentarians
to take up his mantle.

[Sidenote: =Charles seeks aid from Ireland.=]

Meanwhile the king had sought aid from Ireland. Ever since the massacre
of 1641, the Irish rebels had been fighting with the Marquis of
Ormonde, Strafford's successor in the governance of that unruly realm.
They had occupied six-sevenths of the country, and held Ormonde's men
pinned up in Dublin, Cork, and a few other strongholds. Charles now
conceived a scheme for patching up a peace with the rebels, and thus
making it possible to bring over Ormonde's army, Strafford's veteran
regiments, to join in the English war. With this end he negotiated a
truce called "the Cessation" with the Irish (September 15), leaving the
"Catholic Confederates" to govern all the districts that were in their
hands, and promising to devise a scheme of toleration for Romanists.
This truce enabled Ormonde to begin sending over his troops to England;
it was also arranged that native Irish levies should be lent to the
king by the "Catholic Confederates," and Lord Taaffe, one of the
leading rebels, promised to make a beginning by bringing over 2000 men.
This alliance with the fanatical Romanists of Ireland, the perpetrators
of the Ulster Massacre of 1641, did Charles much harm. The Puritans
began to dream of England dragooned by wild Irish Papists, and thought
that the fires of Smithfield would ere long be relighted. They grew
fiercer than ever against the king.

[Sidenote: =1644. Rout of the Irish levies.--The Scots in England.=]

In December, 1643, Ormonde's first regiments began to pass the Channel
and arrive at Chester. In January, 1644, the Scots crossed the Tweed
under the Earl of Leven. Before winter was over the strife had begun,
and the new forces on each side were engaged. In January Sir Thomas
Fairfax, with the Yorkshire Parliamentarians, had slipped out of Hull,
whose siege had been raised by the Marquis of Newcastle, and fell
suddenly upon the Irish army at Nantwich, near Chester. He completely
routed it, and dispersed or took almost the whole. Meanwhile the Scots
were slowly pushing southward, driving the marquis before them through
Durham and the North Riding. In April they joined Fairfax at Selby,
near York, and the united forces so much outnumbered Newcastle's
force, that he sent in haste to the king at Oxford, to say that all
the North would be lost if he were not promptly aided by troops
from the Midlands. Charles, though he could ill spare men, gave his
nephew Rupert a large force of cavalry, and bade him march rapidly
on York, picking up on his way all the reinforcements he could raise
in Shropshire, Cheshire, and Lancashire. In June the prince reached
York with nearly 10,000 men, and joined Newcastle's army. Even before
his arrival the enemy received a corresponding reinforcement: Lord
Manchester and Oliver Cromwell, with the army of the "Associated
Counties," had crossed the Trent and entered Yorkshire to join Fairfax
and the Scots. A great battle was imminent, and one that would be
fought by forces far larger than had yet met in line during the war,
for each side mustered more than 20,000 men.

[Illustration: MARSTON MOOR

July 2, 1644.]

[Sidenote: =Battle of Marston Moor.--The North lost to Charles.=]

The fate of the Northern Counties was settled by the meeting of
the two armies at Marston Moor, near York, on the 2nd of July. The
Parliamentarians and their Scottish allies had drawn themselves up on
a hillside overlooking the moor, Fairfax and his Yorkshiremen on the
right, the Scots in the centre, Manchester and the men of the Eastern
Counties on the left. Rupert marched out from York to meet them, and
ranged his men on the moor below--he himself taking the right wing,
while Newcastle's northern levies had the left. Before the prince's
host was fully arrayed, the enemy charged down the hill, and the two
armies clashed all along the line. On the Royalist left, Lord Goring
with the northern horse completely routed the troops of Fairfax, and
then turned against the Scots, and broke their flank regiments to
pieces. Then, thinking the day their own, the Cavaliers rushed on in
pursuit, and swept off the field. But on the Royalist right the matter
had gone very differently. Cromwell, with the eastern horse, had there
met the fiery Rupert in person; the struggle was long and fierce, but
at last Cromwell's men, godly yeomen of Norfolk and Cambridgeshire,
whom their general had picked and trained with long care, showed that
religious fervour was even better in battle than the reckless courage
of the Cavaliers. Rupert's regiments were driven off the field, and
then the cool-headed Cromwell, instead of flying in pursuit, led his
troopers to aid the much-tried Scots in the centre. By his charge
the Royalist foot was broken, and Goring's horse dispersed when it
straggled back to the battle. The day, which had begun so doubtfully,
ended in a complete victory for the Parliament. Rupert rallied 6000
horse, and took them back to Oxford, but the rest of the Royalist army
was lost. Four thousand had fallen, many dispersed, the rest fell back
into York, and there surrendered a few days later. Lord Newcastle,
angry at Rupert's rashness before the fight and his mismanagement in
it, took ship to Holland, and never struck another blow for the king.
Meanwhile Manchester and the Scots overran all the North, and the land
beyond Humber was wholly lost to the king. The northern Royalists had
been utterly destroyed.

[Sidenote: =Battle of Lostwithiel.--Essex's army destroyed.=]

This disaster would have been completely ruinous to the king, if he
had not partly preserved the balance of strength by winning a great
victory in the south. The Parliament had hoped to do great things
with their home army, and had started the campaign successfully, for
Sir William Waller had beaten the west-country troops of Lord Hopton
at Cheriton in March, and driven the Royalists out of Hampshire. But
calamity followed this good fortune; in the summer the Earl of Essex
led a great host into Wilts and Somerset, to complete Waller's success
by recovering the whole of the South-Western Counties. But the king
dropped down from Oxford with his main army, and placed himself between
Essex and London. The position was much the same as it had been a
year before at Newbury Field. But this time the earl displayed great
indecision, and grossly mishandled his men. Instead of forcing his
way home, at any cost, he retreated westward before Charles, and was
gradually driven into Cornwall, where the country was bitterly hostile.
After some ill-fought skirmishes, he was surrounded at Lostwithiel.
His cavalry cut their way out, and got back to Hampshire; he himself
escaped in a boat to Plymouth. But the whole of his infantry, guns, and
stores were taken by the king. The Parliamentarian army of the South
was as completely wiped out in September as the Royalist army of the
North had been in July. But there was one important difference in the
cases--Marston Moor stripped Charles not only of an army, but of six
fair counties; Lostwithiel saw the troops of Essex annihilated, but did
not give the king an inch of new ground. On the whole, the balance of
the campaign of 1644 was against him.

[Sidenote: =Second battle of Newbury.=]

To cover London from the king, the Parliament hastily summoned down
Manchester's victorious army from Yorkshire, and added to it Sir
William Waller's force. Their united hosts fought the indecisive second
battle of Newbury with the royal troops on the 22nd of October. Here
Manchester, by his sloth and indecision, left Waller to do all the
fighting, and almost lost the day. But in the end Charles withdrew to
Oxford, leaving the field to his enemies.

[Sidenote: =Execution of Laud.=]

The winter of 1644-5 was fraught with events of deep importance. The
Parliament made one final attempt to negotiate with the king, only
to receive the answer, "I will not part with these three things--the
Church, my crown, and my friends, and you will yet have much ado
to get them from me." Irritated at the king's unbending attitude,
they took a step which they knew must render all further attempts
at peace impossible. Drawing out of prison the old Archbishop of
Canterbury, they proceeded to pass a bill of attainder against him,
and condemned him to death. Laud went piously and resolutely to the
scaffold, asserting, and truly, that he died the martyr of the Church
of England, not the victim of his political doings. This execution was
an unpardonable act of cruelty and spite. The old man had lingered
three years in prison, was perfectly harmless, and was slain partly
to vex the king, partly to satiate the religious bigotry of the
Presbyterians--a sect quite as intolerant as Laud himself.

[Sidenote: =The "Self-denying Ordinance."=]

But while Laud's attainder was passing, another important matter
was in hand. The campaign of the previous year had been fatal to
the reputation of the two chief Parliamentary generals, Essex and
Manchester--the one for losing his army at Lostwithiel, the other for
his perverse malingering at Newbury. Waller and several more were in
little better odour. Cromwell, who had long served as Manchester's
second in command, led a crusade against his chief, and accused him of
deliberately protracting the war. It was generally felt that the armies
of the Parliament would fare much better if they were entrusted to
professional soldiers, and not to great peers or prominent politicians.
Hence came the celebrated "Self-denying Ordinance," by which the
members of the two Houses pledged themselves to give up their military
posts, and confine their activity to legislative and administrative
work. One exception was made--Oliver Cromwell, whom all acknowledged to
be the best cavalry officer in the Parliamentary army, was permitted
to keep his military post. But Essex, Manchester, and the rest retired
into civil life.

[Sidenote: =The "New-Model Army."=]

At the same time, the Parliament resolved to remodel its army. Much
inconvenience had arisen from the miscellaneous nature of the forces
which took the field. County militia, London train-bands, voluntary
levies, "pressed men" forced to the front, local organizations like
the army of the "Associated Counties," had served side by side in some
confusion. The conscripts were wont to desert, the militia protested
against crossing their county boundary, the train-bands melted back
to their shops if they were kept too long under arms. To do away with
these troubles, the Parliament now created the "New-Model Army," a
standing force of some 20,000 picked men, to be led by Sir Thomas
Fairfax, with Cromwell as his second in command. This proved a very
formidable host. The troops were mainly veterans, all were zealous
and willing, and the officers were most carefully selected. The
horsemen more especially were vastly superior to the old Parliamentary
troopers. Cromwell modelled them on his own East-country regiment,
filled the ranks with "men of religion," who looked upon the war as a
crusade against Popery and tyranny, and drilled his cuirassiers--the
"Ironsides," as they were called--into the highest state of efficiency.

[Illustration: NASEBY


[Sidenote: =1645. Battle of Naseby.--The Midlands lost to Charles.=]

Next spring the "New-Model" was sent out to try its fortune against the
Cavaliers. The king had led his army northward to restore the fortunes
of his party in the valley of the Trent, where Newark was now his most
advanced post. On his way he stormed the important Parliamentary town
of Leicester, but his progress was then stayed by the news of the
approach of Fairfax. Despising the "New-Model," the Cavaliers turned
fiercely to attack it, though the royal host was the smaller by several
thousands. They seem to have put only 9000 men into the field against
13,000. Charles and Fairfax met at Naseby, in Northamptonshire, and
there fought out the decisive battle of the first civil war. Once more
it was Rupert who lost the day, and Cromwell who won it. The prince,
with the right wing of the royal horse, routed his immediate opponents,
and rode off the field in reckless pursuit of them. But on the king's
left Cromwell and his Ironsides broke to pieces the Cavaliers of the
North, and then steadied their ranks and rode against the flank of the
Royalist infantry. Charles sent in his reserve to aid his flagging
centre, and prepared to charge himself at the head of his body-guard.
"Will you go to your death?" cried the Earl of Carnwath, who seized the
royal rein, and turned his master out of the press. Charles yielded,
and rode back. Far better would it have been for him and for England
if he had gone on to make his end among the pikes. Cromwell's charge
settled the day; the Royalist foot were ridden down or captured; the
wrecks of the horse joined the late-returning Rupert, and escorted
their master back to Oxford (June 14, 1645).

[Sidenote: =Charles a fugitive.--Career of Montrose.=]

Naseby decided the fate of the war. The king could never raise another
army in the Midlands. His whole infantry force was gone, and for the
next eight months he rode helplessly about the shires with 2000 or
3000 horse, vainly trying to elude his pursuers and scrape together
a new body of foot. His only hope was in an ally who had arisen in
Scotland. James Graham, Marquis of Montrose, a Scottish peer who had
grown discontented with the Covenant, had raised the royal standard
in the Highlands in the preceding year. He was a born leader of men,
and, though at first followed by a mere handful of wild clansmen, soon
made his power felt in the war. After routing two small armies in the
north-east, he turned upon Argyleshire, and almost extirpated the
whole Covenanting clan of the Campbells at Inverlochy (January, 1645).
Then, descending upon the Lowlands, he cut to pieces a large army at
Kilsyth (August 15), seized Glasgow, and mastered the greater part of
Scotland. Charles resolved on joining him, and trusted to turn the fate
of the war by his aid. But Montrose's Highland levies melted home to
stow away their plunder, and he was left at the head of a comparatively
small force for the moment. Then Leslie led back across the Tweed the
Scottish army which had been serving in England, and surprised and
routed Montrose at Philiphaugh (September, 1645).

[Sidenote: =1645-6. End of the war in the West.=]

There was no further hope for Charles from Scotland, and his sole
remaining army, the force in the West, under Hopton and Goring,
was also doomed. After Naseby, Fairfax led the "New-Model" into
Somersetshire, beat Goring at Langport, and captured Bristol
(September, 1645). The Royalists were driven westward towards the
Land's End. In the next spring Fairfax followed them, took Exeter, beat
Hopton at Torrington, and steadily drove the wrecks of the enemy onward
till their back was to the Cornish sea. Escape was impossible, and the
king's army of the West laid down its arms (March, 1646).

[Sidenote: =Charles gives himself up to the Scots.=]

The king had now lost all hope, and when the Roundhead armies began
to muster for the siege of Oxford, his last stronghold, he took a
desperate measure. He thought that the Scottish Covenanters were
less bitterly hostile to him than the English Parliamentary party,
and resolved to give himself up to them rather than to his English
subjects. Slipping out of Oxford in disguise, he rode to the Scottish
camp at Newark, and there surrendered himself (April, 1646). He was
not without hope that he might yet save his crown by coming to terms
with his subjects; for he had an overweening belief in his own power
of diplomacy, and did not understand how deeply his old evasions and
intrigues had shaken men's confidence in his plighted word. Yet he had
his better side; he sincerely believed in his own good intentions and
his hereditary rights, and there were two things which he would never
give up under any pressure--his crown and his adherence to the Church
of England.

[Sidenote: =The Scots deliver him to the Parliament.=]

The Scots were delighted to have Charles in their hands, and proposed
to restore him to his throne if he would promise to take the Covenant
and impose Presbyterianism on England. This demand hit the king on a
point where his conscience was fixed and firm; he would never sell
the Church to its foes, so he temporized and dallied with the Scots'
proposals, but would not accept them. Disgusted at his refusal, the
Covenanters resolved to surrender him to the English Parliament. After
stipulating for the payment of all the arrears of the subsidies which
were owed them for their services in England, they gave up the king to
his enemies--a proceeding which contemporary opinion called "selling
their master for £400,000" (January, 1647).

[Sidenote: =Presbyterians and Independents.=]

Even yet Charles had not abandoned all hope; he knew that his
victorious enemies were much divided among themselves, and thought
that by embroiling them with one another he might yet secure good
terms for himself. The two parties which split the Parliament were
the Presbyterians and the Independents. The former, of whom we have
heard so much already, were desirous of organizing all England into
a Calvinistic Church on the model of the Scottish Kirk; they were as
intolerant as Laud himself in the matter of conformity, and intended
to force the whole nation into their new organization. Papists,
Episcopalians, and Nonconformists of every kind were all to be driven
into the fold. This plan did not please the "Independents"--a party
who consisted of men of all sorts and conditions, who only agreed
in disliking a State Church and a compulsory uniformity. Some of
the Independents were wild sectaries--Anabaptists, Levellers, and
Fifth-Monarchy-men, who held the strangest doctrines of an immediate
Millennium. Others were men who merely insisted on the responsibility
of the individual for his own conscience, and thought that the State
Church, with its compulsory powers, was a mistake, coming between God
and man where no mediator was required. Hence the watchword of the
Independents was the toleration of all sects, and they steadfastly
resisted the Presbyterian doctrine of forced conformity. The
Independents were very strong in the army, and Cromwell, the coming
man, was a pillar of their cause. On the other hand, the Presbyterians
had a decided majority among the members of the Parliament.

[Sidenote: =Parliament offers terms to Charles.=]

As representing the party of toleration, the Independents were quite
prepared to leave Episcopalians alone, and it was therefore with them,
rather than with the rigid and bigoted Presbyterians, that the king
hoped to be able to ally himself. But it was the Presbyterians who
swayed the House, and had possession of Charles's person; with them,
therefore, he had to treat. The Parliamentary majority did not yet
dream of abolishing the monarchy; they were bent on two things--on
tying the present king's hands so tightly that he should never again
be a danger to the common weal, and on forcing him to consent to the
establishment of Presbyterianism as the State religion. The former
was a rational end enough, for Charles could never be trusted; the
latter was a piece of insane bigotry, for the Presbyterians were a mere
minority in the nation, far outnumbered by the Episcopalians and the
Independents. The "Propositions" of the Parliament took the form of a
demand that Charles should surrender all claim to control the militia,
the fleet, and taxation, for twenty years; that he should take the
Covenant himself, assent to its being forced on all his subjects, and
order the persecution of all Romanists.[42] He was also to assent to
the outlawing of his own chief supporters in the civil war.

Now Charles had declared long ago that he would never sacrifice his
crown, his Church, or his friends, and in captivity he did his best
to keep his vow. But his method was not to give a steady refusal, and
bid his enemies do their worst. He answered their demands by long
counter-propositions, flagrant evasions, and endless hair-splitting on
every disputed point. Where he might have appeared a martyr, he chose
to stand as a quibbling casuist. The Parliament kept him in easy and
honourable confinement at Holmby House, in Northamptonshire, while
the negotiations were in progress, and he was so carelessly guarded
that he was able to keep up secret correspondence with all kinds of
possible allies--the King of France, the Scots, and the chiefs of the
Independent party.

[Sidenote: =Parliament and the army.=]

But while king and Commons were haggling for terms, a new difficulty
arose. The Presbyterian majority in Parliament were anxious to
disband the army, both because of the expense of its maintenance, and
still more because they knew it to be a stronghold of their enemies,
the Independents. In March, 1647, they issued an ordinance for the
dismissal of the whole force save a few regiments destined to suppress
the Irish rebellion. But the "New-Model" refused to be dismissed; it
hated Presbyterians, and it had learnt to look upon itself as a truer
representative of the Puritan party than an out-of-date House which
had been sitting more than seven years. Instead of disbanding, the
army began to organize itself for resistance, and each regiment named
two deputies, or "agitators," as they were called, to form a central
military committee. This was done with the approval of Fairfax and
Cromwell, the leaders of the host. The movement was natural, but quite
unconstitutional; still more so was the next step of the soldiery. An
officer named Joyce, with the secret sanction of the agitators and of
Cromwell also, rode to Holmby with 500 men, seized the king's person,
and took him to Newmarket, where the head-quarters of the army lay.

[Sidenote: =The Independents offer terms to Charles.=]

Next the army marched on London, and encamped before its gates (June
16, 1647). Many Presbyterian members fled in dismay from the House
of Commons, and the Independents got for a moment a majority in
Parliament. The victorious party then proceeded to treat with the king,
offering him liberal terms--the complete toleration of all sects, the
restriction of the royal power over the armed force of the realm for
ten years only, and a pardon for all exiled Royalists except five.

[Sidenote: =Charles's intrigues.=]

In a moment of evil inspiration the king refused this moderate offer.
Encouraged by the quarrel of the Presbyterians and the army, he had
formed a secret plot for freeing himself from both. His old partisans
all over England had agreed on a simultaneous rising, and they had
obtained a promise of aid from the Scots; for those stern Presbyterians
so hated the Independents and the English army, that they were prepared
to join the king against them. On the 11th of November, 1647, Charles
slipped away from his military captors, and succeeded in escaping to
the Isle of Wight. Hammond, the governor of the island, kept him in
security at Carisbrooke, but did not send him back to the army. From
Carisbrooke, the king sent new offers of terms of accommodation both to
the army and the Parliament, but he was merely trying to gain time for
his friends to take arms.

[Sidenote: =Renewal of the war.=]

On the 28th of April, 1648, he saw his plot begin to work. A body of
north-country Royalists seized Berwick, and raised the royal standard.
A few days later the Scots took arms and raised a large force, which
was placed under the Duke of Hamilton, and ordered to cross the
Border. At the same time a committee of Scots lords sent to France
for the young Prince of Wales, and invited him to come among them
and put himself at the head of his father's friends. The movement in
Scotland was a signal for the general rising of the English Royalists.
Insurrections broke out in May and June all over the land--in Wales,
Kent, Essex, Cornwall, and even among the Eastern Counties of the
"Association," where Puritanism was so strong.

[Sidenote: =English Royalists suppressed.=]

For a moment it looked as if the king would win. It seemed that the
army would be unable to cope with so many simultaneous risings.
But Charles had not calculated on the military skill which Fairfax
and Cromwell could display in the hour of danger. In less than
three months' hard fighting the two generals had put down the whole
insurrection. Fairfax routed the Kentishmen--the most dangerous body
of insurgents in the South--by storming their stronghold of Maidstone.
Then, crossing the Thames, he pacified the Eastern Counties, and drove
all the insurgents of those parts into Colchester. In Colchester he
met a vigorous resistance; the town held out for two months, and only
yielded to starvation (August 27, 1648).

[Sidenote: =Battle of Preston.--The Scottish army dispersed.=]

Meanwhile Cromwell had first struck down the Welsh Royalists, and then
ridden north to oppose the Scots. The Duke of Hamilton had already
crossed the Tweed, and had been joined by 4000 or 5000 Yorkshiremen. He
moved southward, intending to reach Wales, but in Lancashire Cromwell
caught him on the march, with his army spread out over many miles of
road. Falling on the scattered host, Cromwell beat its rear at Preston
(August 17); then, pressing on, he scattered or captured the whole army
in three days of fierce fighting, though his force was far inferior
in numbers to that of the enemy. But the imbecile Hamilton had so
dispersed his men that he never could concentrate them for a battle. On
August 25 the duke, with the last wrecks of his army, surrendered at

[Sidenote: =Execution of Royalist leaders.=]

The second civil war thus ended in utter disaster to the king's
friends. Moreover, it had sealed the fate of Charles himself. There
arose a large party among the victors who were determined that he
should be punished for the reckless intrigue by which he had stirred
up the dying embers of strife, and set the land once more aflame. The
temper of the army was so fierce that, for the first time since the war
began, numerous executions followed the surrender of the vanquished
Royalists. The Duke of Hamilton, who had led the Scots; Lucas and
Lisle, who had defended Colchester; Lord Holland, who had been
designated to command the Royalists of the south, all suffered death.
Hundreds of prisoners of inferior rank were sent to serve as bondmen in
the plantations of Barbados.

[Sidenote: =Pride's Purge.--The Rump.=]

Charles himself was removed from Carisbrooke--he had made two
unsuccessful attempts to escape from its walls--and put under strict
guard at Hurst Castle. The Parliament still continued to negotiate with
him, only making its terms more rigorous. But the army did not intend
that any such agreement should be concluded. While the House of Commons
was still treating, it was subjected to a sudden military outrage.
Colonel Pride, a leading Independent officer, marched his regiment to
Westminster on the 6th of December, 1648, and, as the members began to
muster, seized one by one all the chiefs of the Presbyterian party.
Forty-one were placed in confinement, ninety-six were turned back and
warned never to come near the House again. Only sixty Independent
members were allowed to enter, a body which was for the future known by
the insulting name of "the Rump," as being the "sitting part" of the

Thus ended the famous Long Parliament, destroyed by the military
monster which it had itself created. The "Rump," a ridiculous remnant,
the slave of the soldiery, was alone left to represent the civil power
in England.

[Sidenote: =Trial of the king.=]

The king's fate was now settled. The army had resolved to punish him,
and the Parliament was to be the army's tool. On December 23, the
members of the Rump passed a bill for trying the king. On January 1,
1649, they voted that "to levy war against the Parliament and realm of
England was treason," and appointed a High Court of Justice to try the
king for that offence. When it was seen that the king's life as well as
his crown was aimed at, many of the leaders of the Independents, both
military men and civilians, began to draw back. Fairfax, the chief of
the whole army, refused to sit in the High Court, and of 135 persons
designated to serve in it, only some seventy or eighty appeared. But
the majority of the army, and Cromwell, the guiding spirit of the
whole, were determined to go through with the business. The High
Court met, with an obscure lawyer named Bradshaw as its president;
its ranks were packed with military men, who were blind to all legal
considerations, and had come merely to condemn the king. Charles was
brought before the court, but refused to plead. Such a body, he said,
had no right to try a King of England--it was a mere illegal meeting,
deriving its sole authority from a factious remnant of a mutilated
House of Commons. This was undoubtedly true, and, considering the
temper of his judges, the king knew that all defence was useless.
The course that he took was the only one that suited his dignity and
conscience. While he stood dumb before his judges, they passed sentence
of death upon him (January 26, 1649).

[Sidenote: =His execution.=]

Four days later he was led to execution on a scaffold placed before
the windows of Whitehall Palace. He died with a calm dignity that
amazed the beholders. He was suffered to make a short speech, in which
he bade the multitude remember that he died a victim to the "power of
the sword," that the nation was now a slave to the army, and that it
would never be free again till it remembered its duty to its God and
its king. He must suffer, he said, because he would not assent to the
handing Church and State over to "an arbitrary sway;" it was this that
his captors had required of him. Finally, he said, he died a Christian
according to the profession of the Church of England, which he had
always striven to maintain. Then he laid his head upon the block and
met the axe with unflinching courage, amid the groans of the people.

[Sidenote: =Was his fate deserved?=]

The hateful illegality of the king's trial, the violence of his
enemies, and the dignity of his end have half redeemed his memory.
In our dislike for those who slew him we almost forget his offences.
But when we condemn his slayers we must not forget their provocation.
Charles had ground the nation under his heel for eleven years of
tyranny. He had involved it in a bitter civil war that lasted four
years more. Then, when he fell into the victors' hands, he wasted two
years in shifty and evasive negotiations, which he never intended to
bring to an end. Finally, from his prison he had stirred up a second
and wholly unnecessary civil war. Contemplating these acts, we must
allow that he brought his evil end upon himself; violent and illegal as
it was, we cannot say that it was undeserved.

[Sidenote: =The Commonwealth.=]

The king's execution was immediately followed by the proclamation
of a republic. The Independents and the army wished to be rid of
the monarchy, no less than of the person of Charles. Accordingly a
sweeping series of bills, passed in February, 1649, declared England a
"Commonwealth," and vested its government in a single House of Commons
and a Council of State. The House of Lords was abolished; of late it
had been little more than a farce, for not a dozen peers had been wont
to attend. But the "Rump," which now assumed to be the representative
of the Commonwealth of England, was itself hardly more than a mockery.
It never permitted the victims of "Pride's purge" to return to its
benches, so that it was nothing better than a factious minority,
depending on the swords of the army.

[Sidenote: =Scotland and Ireland.=]

The Rump and the army were masters of England, but in Scotland and
Ireland they were as yet powerless. Ireland was entirely in the
hands of the Catholic confederates, save the two towns of Dublin and
Londonderry. Scotland had never laid down its arms after Preston; there
was no republican party north of the Tweed, and when the news of the
king's execution arrived, it only led the Scots to proclaim his son the
Prince of Wales, under the name of Charles II.

[Sidenote: =Preparations for war.--Mutiny of the Levellers.=]

Unless England, Scotland, and Ireland were to part company, and relapse
into separate kingdoms, it was obvious that the new government must try
its sword upon the lesser realms. This it was fully prepared to do.
In the spring of 1649 an expedition for the conquest of Ireland was
ordered, and the command of it was given to the formidable Cromwell,
who since the king's death had become more and more the recognized
chief of the army, Fairfax having stepped into the background. Before
the expedition sailed, however, Cromwell had no small trouble with
his soldiery. The bad example which the generals and colonels had set
in driving out the Long Parliament and overturning the monarchy, had
turned the rank and file to similar thoughts. There had grown up among
them a body of extreme democratic republicans, called the Levellers,
from their wish to make all men equal; they were mostly members of
obscure and fanatical sects, who looked for the triumph of the saints
and the coming of the millennium. While the army was preparing for the
Irish war, the Levellers broke out into open insurrection, demanding
the dismissal of the "Rump," the introduction of annual Parliaments,
the abolition of the Council of State, and the grant of "true and
perfect freedom in all things spiritual and temporal." The zealots,
however, were weaker than they imagined, and their mutiny was easily
put down. Cromwell shot three or four of their leaders, and pardoned
the rest of the band.

[Sidenote: =Cromwell subdues Ireland.=]

In August, 1649, Cromwell took over a powerful army to Ireland,
where the civil war had never ceased since the rebellion eight years
before. The remnant of the Anglo-Irish Royalists, under the Marquis of
Ormonde, joined with the Romanists to oppose him, but their combined
efforts were useless. So strong a man had never before laid his hand
on Ireland. Starting from Dublin, the only large town in Parliamentary
hands, he began by the conquest of Leinster. From the first he had
determined to strike terror into the enemy. His stern veterans were
capable of any extreme of cruelty against Romanists and rebels. But
Cromwell is personally responsible for the two horrible blows that
broke the Irish resistance. The enemy had made himself strong in the
two towns of Drogheda and Wexford. Cromwell stormed them both, and
forbade the giving of quarter, so that the whole garrison was in each
case slaughtered to a man. Eight or nine thousand Irish perished, and
such terror was struck into the rebels by these massacres that they
made little more resistance. Cromwell had overrun half the island, when
pressing need recalled him to England. He left part of his army under
his son-in-law Ireton to complete the conquest, and hastily returned
with the remainder (May, 1650).

[Sidenote: =Prince Charles in Scotland.=]

The new danger was the Scottish war. Charles, Prince of Wales, had
crossed to Scotland and put himself at the head of the national forces
of the country. The unscrupulous young man had taken the "Covenant,"
and professed himself a Presbyterian to bind the Scots more closely
to him. He suffered the execution of the gallant Marquis of Montrose,
who had tried to raise a purely Royalist revolt in the Highlands,
to pass without rebuke, and allied himself with the slayers of his
friend. Charles was resolved to rouse the English royalists in his
aid, and it was the news that he was proposing to cross the Tweed that
called Cromwell home, for Fairfax had refused to lead an army against
the Scots. Since the tragedy of January, 1649, he had lost his old
confidence in the justice of the Puritan cause.

[Sidenote: =Battles of Dunbar and Worcester.=]

Cromwell entered Scotland in July, 1650, and beat a very superior
army at Dunbar, owing to the bad generalship of his opponents Leven
and Leslie (September 3). He then took Edinburgh, slowly and steadily
conquered the whole of the Lowlands, and pushed on into the interior of
Scotland. But next year, when he had won his way to Perth, he learnt
that Prince Charles and the Scots army had slipped past him and entered
England, trusting to rouse Lancashire and Wales to their aid. Cromwell
followed with fiery speed, and caught the invaders at Worcester
(September 3, 1651). His iron veterans once more carried the day; the
Scots were beaten and dispersed. Prince Charles barely escaped, and
wandered for many days in peril of his life, till faithful friends
enabled him to cross England and take ship at Brighton. From thence he
came safely to France.

[Sidenote: =End of the civil war.=]

The battle of Worcester, which Cromwell called "the crowning mercy,"
put a final end to the civil war. Scotland submitted, Ireland was
thoroughly conquered by Ireton, and the Rump and the army stood
victorious over the last of their foes. It now remained to be seen
whether the three kingdoms could settle down into a united Commonwealth
under their new conditions.


[41] The term "Roundhead," alluding to the close-cropped hair of the
Puritans, which contrasted so strongly with the long locks which were
then the fashion, is first found in use in the end of 1641.

[42] The children of the Romanists were to be taken forcibly from them,
and educated as Presbyterians.




[Sidenote: =Power of Cromwell.=]

After the "crowning mercy" of Worcester fight, the rule of England
lay nominally in the hands of its mutilated and discredited House of
Commons, the representative of a mere fraction of the nation. But
really the power to move the realm was in the hands of the army, which
had made, and could as easily unmake, the mockery of representative
government which sat at Westminster. And in the army Cromwell was
growing more and more supreme; his old colleague Fairfax had sunk back
into civil life; his mutinous subordinates the Levellers had been
crushed; the colonels and generals who held power under him were for
the most part his humble servants.

Cromwell had as yet no official post corresponding to his real
omnipotence. He was commander of the army, and a member of the Council
of State, but nothing more. His will, nevertheless, was the main factor
in the governance of England.

[Sidenote: =His character and aims.=]

It is time to say a few words of the character of this extraordinary
man, whom we have hitherto seen merely as the heaven-sent leader of the
Parliamentary armies, and the guiding spirit of the Independent party.
Oliver was a county gentleman of Huntingdonshire, a man of religion
from his youth up, and a prominent member of the Parliaments of 1628
and 1640. He was more than forty years old before he ever drew sword
or put a squadron in battle array. No general save Julius Cæsar ever
started on a great military career so late in life. Cromwell himself
aimed at being a reformer of the life and faith of the nation much more
than a soldier. He had taken to war because the times required it, but
military power and military glory was not his end in life. He wished to
see England orderly, prosperous, and free, according to his ideas of
freedom in things spiritual and temporal. In religion his ideal was the
Independent system, in which the state tolerated most forms of worship,
and was itself committed to none. In things temporal he wished to see
the realm ruled by a truly representative House of Commons, where every
district should be represented according to its population. He had no
patience for the existing House, in which a haphazard arrangement,
dating back from the middle ages, gave no fair representation to
England--where the vanished boroughs of Dunwich or Sarum had as many
members as Yorkshire or Norfolk. If Cromwell had found a House of
Commons that agreed with his views, he would have worked smoothly with
them, and lived and died no more than their first servant.

[Sidenote: =Cromwell driven into illegality.=]

Unfortunately, however, Cromwell's views did not happen to be shared
by any large proportion of the nation. Half England was secretly
Episcopalian; a large proportion of the rest was Presbyterian; among
his own Independent party there were numberless sects and factions.
In the constitution of England, then as now, there was no place for
an over-great personality backed by a strong military force. But such
a personage existed in Cromwell. The question now arose whether he
would consent to see the land governed by men whom he despised, in ways
of which he disapproved, or whether he would proceed to interfere.
Interference would be unconstitutional; but everything had been
unconstitutional in England for ten years, and the temptation to use
force was irresistible to a man who had strong political theories, a
self-reliant temper, and 20,000 formidable veterans at his back. He
could never forget that the "Rump" was the army's creature, and that
it had been created to carry out the army's views. His very energy
and conscientiousness were certain to drive him into illegalities. It
is customary to reproach Cromwell with dissimulation and ambition, to
make his whole career turn on a settled desire to make himself despot
of England. This view entirely misconceives the man. It is far more
correct to look upon him as a man of strong principles and prejudices,
who was carried away by his desire to work out his programme, and who
struck down--often with great violence and illegality--all that stood
in his way. If he finally seized autocratic power, it was because he
found that in no other way could he put his plans in practice. Power,
in short, was for him the means, not the end. Unfortunately for his
reputation, England has always objected to being dragooned into the
acceptance of any programme or set of views, and if she would not
accept the theories of a Stuart, the child of a hundred kings, it was
hardly likely that she would acquiesce tamely in those of a simple
country gentleman of Huntingdonshire; the fact that he was the finest
general of the seventeenth century did not make him an infallible

[Sidenote: =Pretensions of the "Rump."=]

When Cromwell came back victorious from Worcester field, the small
and one-sided House of Commons which had ruled England since Pride's
purge was still supreme in the state. Before he had been three weeks
in London, Oliver hinted to the members that it was time that they
should dissolve themselves, and give place to a freely elected house,
where every shire and borough should be represented. Such a house had
not been seen since 1642, when the Royalist third of the Commons had
seceded at the king's command. But the "Rump" had enjoyed its two years
of power, and had no wish to disperse. It was gradually growing to
believe itself to be an irresponsible oligarchy with no duties to the
nation, and to forget that it purported to represent England. When the
question of dissolution was mooted, it proceeded to fix a date three
years off as a suitable time for its own suppression, making the excuse
that it must recast the constitution of the realm before it dispersed.
This gravely vexed Cromwell and all the friends of reform; still more
was their anger raised when the members proceeded to waste month after
month in fruitless legal discussions, without succeeding in passing any
bill of importance.

[Sidenote: =Foreign relations.--Rivalry with the Dutch.=]

Meanwhile the country had become involved in a foreign war. All the
powers of Europe looked unkindly upon the regicide Commonwealth of
England, and its envoys were maltreated at more than one court. Two
were actually murdered--Anthony Ascham at Madrid, Isaac Dorislaus, at
the Hague; in each case the slayers were exiled English Royalists,
and the foreign government gave little or no satisfaction for the
crime. While English relations with Spain remained strained, those
with Holland gradually grew to an open rupture. The Dutch had been
interested in the Royalist cause because their stadtholder, William
II., Prince of Orange, had married Mary, the eldest daughter of Charles
I., and had sheltered the Prince of Wales at his court for many months.
It was from Holland, too, that the Royalists had received their
supplies of arms during the war. But there was more than this recent
grudge in the ill-feeling between English and Dutch. They had grown of
late to be rivals in the trade of East and West. Their merchants in
the Spice Islands had come to blows as early as 1623, and in America
the Dutch had planted the colony of "New Amsterdam," so as to cut the
connection between Virginia and New England, as far back as 1625. At
present they were competing for the carrying trade both of the Baltic
and the Mediterranean.

[Sidenote: =The Navigation Act.=]

Hence it was that when the indignation of the Parliament against the
Dutch came to a head, it found vent in the celebrated Navigation Act
(1651). This bill provided that goods brought to England from abroad
must be carried either in English ships, or in the ships of the actual
country that grew or manufactured them. Thus the Dutch carrying trade
would be severely maimed. It was not a wise bill, or one in accordance
with the laws of political economy, but it suited the spirit of the
times, and even the usually clear-headed Cromwell gave it his support.
This obvious blow at Dutch interests led, as was intended, to war
(July, 1652).

[Sidenote: =Dutch War.--Blake and Van Tromp.=]

In the struggle which followed, the English fleets were generally
successful. Led by Robert Blake, a colonel of horse who became for the
nonce an admiral, and showed no mean capacity in his new employment,
they obtained several victories. The conflict was not without its
vicissitudes, and on one occasion the Dutch Admiral Van Tromp won a
battle, and sailed down the Channel with a broom at his masthead, to
show that he had swept the seas clean. But his triumph was not for
long; next spring Blake beat him in a fight off the North Foreland
(June 3, 1653), and a final victory off the coast of Holland, in which
the gallant Dutchman was slain, completed the success of the English
fleet. A treaty followed in which the vanquished enemy accepted
the bitter yoke of the Navigation Act, and promised to banish the
Stuarts from Holland. This they did with the better grace because the
republican party among them had just succeeded in excluding the House
of Orange from the stadtholdership. The Orange interest, therefore,
could no longer be exerted in favour of the exiled royal family of
England (1654).

[Sidenote: =Discontent with Parliament.=]

But ere the Dutch war had come to an end, there had occurred a sweeping
political change in England. The "Rump" Parliament had persevered
in its unwise courses; it had carried no reforms, either in Church
or State, but spent all its time in profitless debating. Nor had it
improved its popularity in the country by raising taxes by a new system
which recalled the "tallages" of John or Henry III. Making lists of
all who had taken the Royalist side in the old civil war, it imposed
heavy fines on them, for offences of six or seven years ago. The army
began to grow desperately impatient with the Parliament that it had
made. In August, 1653, a great body of officers petitioned Cromwell, as
their chief, to insist on the Commons dissolving themselves. Somewhat
frightened, the House passed a bill for a dissolution, but with the
extraordinary and preposterous claim that all sitting members should
appear again in the next Parliament without having to seek re-election
by their constituents.

[Sidenote: =Cromwell dissolves Parliament by force.=]

This strange attempt to perpetuate themselves for ever provoked
Cromwell's wrath to boiling-point. He resolved to take a step even
more drastic than Pride's purge. On April 20, 1653, he went down to
Westminster with a guard of musketeers, whom he left outside the door.
Taking his seat as a private member, he presently arose and addressed
his colleagues in a fiery harangue, in which he told them that they
were a set of worthless talkers with no zeal for religion or reform.
When shouted down by the angry Commons, he bade his soldiers enter,
and thrust the dismayed politicians out of the door. The Speaker was
hustled from his chair and Cromwell bade his men "take away that
bauble," the great mace, which lay on the table and represented the
dignity of the Commons of England.

Thus perished the last remnant of the mighty "Long Parliament,"
dissolved by the mere fiat of the great general. Nor did its fall
cause much murmuring, for the nation had long ceased to regard it as
anything more than a body of garrulous and self-seeking oligarchs.

[Sidenote: =The "Barebones'" Parliament.=]

For the moment there was no legal government in England, for Cromwell's
position was quite unconstitutional. He felt this himself, and was
anxious to create a new House, which should work with him and carry
out his ideas of reform; as yet he had no intention of becoming an
autocrat. Accordingly, he summoned in June an assembly which differed
from all that had been before it, since the members were not elected
by the shires and boroughs, but named by a committee of selection, at
which Cromwell presided. This illegally created body was called the
"Nominee Parliament," or more frequently "Barebones' Parliament," from
a London merchant with the extraordinary name of Praise-God Barebones,
who was one of its prominent members.

But Cromwell was to find by repeated experiments that it was impossible
for him to discover any body of men who could work with him on exactly
the lines that he chose. For his own opinions were not those of the
majority of the nation, and hence any assembly that he called was
bound, sooner or later, to quarrel with him. And since he possessed in
his army a weapon able to dissolve any number of parliaments, he was
tempted to bring every quarrel to an end by abruptly dismissing the
recalcitrant House. A less self-confident man, or one who did not think
that he possessed a mandate from above to reform England, might have
learnt to co-operate with a Parliament. But Cromwell was so sure of his
own good intentions, and so convinced that those who questioned them
must be wrong-headed and factious, that he drove away three parliaments
in succession with words of rebuke and of righteous anger.

Barebones' Parliament, a body full of stiff-backed and fanatical
Independents, soon proved too restive for its creator. Cromwell
smiled on their first efforts, when they began to codify the laws
and abolished the Court of Chancery. But he began to frown when this
conclave of "the Saints," as they called themselves, commenced to speak
of confiscating Church-tithes--the maintenance of the clergy--and the
rights both of state and of private patronage to livings. It is even
said that they wished to substitute the Mosaic law from the Book of
Deuteronomy for the ancient law of England. This drew down a rebuke
from Cromwell, whereupon the House very honestly gave their power back
into the hands from whence they had taken it, and dissolved themselves
(December, 1653).

[Sidenote: =The "Instrument of Government."=]

The dispersion of this unconstitutional assembly was followed
by another experiment in illegality. Cromwell published a
paper-constitution drawn up by himself, called the "Instrument of
Government." This provided that England should be governed by a "Lord
Protector" and a House of Commons. Cromwell himself, of course, took
the post of Protector, which was to be held for life, and had a
quasi-royal character, for it was he who was to summon and dissolve
Parliaments, and his assent was required to all bills; but it was
stipulated that "the Protector should have no power to reject such
laws as were themselves in accordance with the constitution of the
commonwealth"--a vague check, since he himself would have to decide
on the legality of each enactment. The new House of Commons was a
fairly constituted body, for it included members from Scotland and
Ireland, and among the English seats all the "rotten boroughs" were
disfranchised, while their members were distributed among the rising
towns, such as Leeds, Liverpool, and Halifax, and the more populous
counties. The Protector was to have no power of dissolving the Commons
till they had sat five months at least (December 16, 1653).

[Sidenote: =Cromwell Lord Protector.--His reforms.=]

For nine months Cromwell ruled as "Lord Protector" without any check
on his power, for the Parliament was not to assemble till September,
1654. Pending its arrival, the Protector began to introduce many
reforms; he recast the Courts of Justice, and introduced his favourite
scheme for the government of the Church. This was the toleration of
all Protestant sects, and the distribution of Church patronage among
them by a committee of selection called "Triers." This body was only to
inquire whether the candidate for a living was of a good life, and held
the essential doctrines of Christianity. It was not to inquire whether
he was Presbyterian, Independent, or Episcopalian; only Romanists were
formally excluded. But, unfortunately for the content of the land,
Cromwell's ordinance that the old Church of England Prayer-book was not
to be used, effectually prevented any conscientious Episcopalian from
applying to the "Triers." The Churchmen could only meet by stealth to
celebrate their sacraments, and they formed at least half the nation.
Cromwell's well-meant arrangements were gall and bitterness to them,
and discontent was always rife.

[Sidenote: =The New-Model Parliament.=]

Cromwell's New-Model Parliament met on September 3, 1654, the third
anniversary of Worcester fight. It was a body that well expressed the
wishes of the Puritan half of the nation, but the Royalists were, of
course, excluded. The sense that it was a strong and representative
body made it confident and haughty; it at once began to discuss
the legality of the "Instrument of Government," and to pass bills
restricting the Protector's power. Cromwell with some difficulty
kept his temper for the statutory five months, and then dissolved it
(January 22, 1655).

[Sidenote: =Autocracy of Cromwell.--Attempted assassination.=]

Once more the Lord Protector was left alone as autocrat of Great
Britain. He was not happy in the position; the dissolution of the
New-Model Parliament had angered Independents and Presbyterians alike.
They murmured that a despotic Protector was no better than a despotic
King. Conspiracies began to be formed against Cromwell, both by
Royalists and extreme republicans. Some were for open rebellion, some
for secret murder, for autocrats are easy to make away with. No one
save Guy Fawkes ever tried to slay a whole Parliament, but the power
of the individual despot is often tempered by assassination. Cromwell
promptly got the better of a few wild spirits who tried to raise open
war, for the army was still devotedly loyal to him. But his spirit was
sorely tried by the assassination plots; the pamphlet which Colonel
Sexby, the Leveller, published, under the title of _Killing no Murder_,
especially incensed him. For the future he went on his way resolute,
but nervously expecting a pistol-shot from every dark corner.

[Sidenote: =Military despotism established.=]

For eighteen months after the dissolution of the New-Model Parliament
Cromwell ruled as autocrat without any House of Commons to check
him (January, 1655, to September, 1656). This time he tried another
unconstitutional experiment for the governance of the realm. He
divided England into twelve districts, and set over them twelve
major-generals picked from the army, whose despotic power replaced
that of lords-lieutenant and sheriffs. This expedient made even
more evident than before the fact that the army was holding down the
nation by force, and provoked much adverse comment. As a matter of
fact, Cromwell's rule, though utterly illegal, was very efficient.
He gathered around him many capable men: the poet Milton--though a
convinced republican--served as his foreign secretary; Thurlow, a very
able man, was his Secretary of State. Both Monk, who governed Scotland,
and Henry Cromwell, the Lord-Deputy of Ireland, the Protector's
youngest son, were skilled administrators; and Blake, who had charge
of the fleet, was the greatest admiral that England had yet seen. But
no amount of good governance suffices to content a nation held down
by armed force against its will, and Cromwell's rule could never be

[Sidenote: =Scotland and Ireland.=]

It was, however, successful and glorious, both in neighbouring lands
and far abroad, if it was hated at home. Scotland was orderly and
prosperous; Cromwell had much in common with the Covenanters, though
he had suppressed them so sternly, and after 1651 there was not
much opposition to him. In Ireland the matter was very different;
Cromwell loathed Romanists with the hatred of the old Protestants of
the Elizabethan age. His scheme of government for that realm was the
drastic and cruel expedient of thrusting all the native Irish into
the single province of Connaught, and of dividing up the rest of the
land among English and Scots settlers, just as Ulster had been treated
in the time of James I. The expulsion was carried out with merciless
rigour, and thousands of Cromwell's discharged veterans and other
colonists were planted in Munster and Leinster. But the settlement was
only to be a very partial success; the old soldiers did not make good
farmers in a pastoral country, and the native Irish gradually crept
back to act as the servants and labourers of the conquerors, so that a
homogeneous English and Protestant colony was never established. When
the Protector died a few years later, many of the colonists departed,
others were merged in the Irish masses, and only in limited districts
did traces of his cruel work survive. But the "curse of Cromwell"
remained the bitterest oath in the Irish peasant's mouth.

[Sidenote: =Cromwell's foreign policy.=]

Master of Great Britain, the Lord Protector resolved that this country
should resume the great place in the counsels of Europe which it had
held in the time of Elizabeth. His foreign policy was the same as
that of the great queen--resolute opposition to Spain as the foe of
Protestantism and the monopolist of the trade of the Indies. In 1655
Cromwell declared war on Philip IV., and sent forth his fleets under
Blake to prey on the Spaniards. The great admiral stormed the strongly
fortified harbour of Teneriffe, in the Canary Islands, and sent home
several silver-laden galleons from America which were lying therein
(April, 1656). After several other successes he died at sea, just as he
was returning to England. Another expedition under Venables captured
the fertile island of Jamaica, in the West Indies, though it failed to
get possession of the larger and stronger island of San Domingo. On the
European continent Cromwell allied himself with France, the eternal
enemy of Spain, and sent a strong brigade of his formidable regulars to
aid the troops of the young Lewis XIV. This force much distinguished
itself in the war, and won the ports of Dunkirk and Mardyke in Flanders
(1657-58), which by agreement with the French were kept as English
possessions. At this time Cromwell's arm reached so far that he was
even able to interfere to prevent the Duke of Savoy from persecuting
his Protestant subjects the Waldenses (1655), an event which called
forth Milton's celebrated sonnet, commencing--

    "Avenge, O Lord, thy slaughtered saints, whose bones
    Lie scattered o'er the Alpine valleys cold."

[Sidenote: =Constitutional experiments.--A House of Lords.=]

But though victorious abroad, the Lord Protector was still vexed
that he could not build up a stable constitution at home. In the
midst of his successes he summoned his third and last Parliament in
September, 1656. He had now resolved to experiment in the direction
of restoring many of the time-honoured arrangements of the monarchy.
He had determined to create a second chamber, like the old House of
Lords, and to assimilate his own position as Protector to that of the
old kings. By excluding from election about a hundred persons who had
been active in the Parliaments of 1653 and 1654, he obtained a House of
Commons somewhat more docile than either of his earlier assemblies. In
an address called "the humble Petition and Advice," they besought him
to assume all the old prerogatives of royalty, and even the name of
king. The last he refused, knowing the discontent it would arouse among
his sternly republican followers in the army. But he accepted a status
which gave him all that the regal name would have implied. At the same
time he endeavoured to make his position less unconstitutional, by
abolishing the major-generals, and giving the Commons complete control
over taxation. But even with this loyal and obedient house the Lord
Protector could not long agree. They fell out upon the question of
the setting up of his new House of Lords, a body whose authority they
utterly refused to acknowledge. On this point the Commons proved so
recalcitrant that Oliver dissolved them after they had sat sixteen
months (January, 1658).

[Sidenote: =Death of Cromwell.=]

This would not have been the last of his constitutional experiments if
his life had been spared. But in the summer of the same year, while
designs for a new Parliament were already being mooted, he was taken
ill. His health had been broken by the constant nervous strain of
facing perpetual assassination plots, and wrangling with refractory
Parliaments. He died on September 3, 1658, the seventh anniversary of
the "crowning mercy" of Worcester.

He left England great and prosperous, but discontented and unhappy.
An autocrat, however well meaning, is never pardoned if he fails to
understand and obey the feeling of the nation. Oliver was so much out
of sympathy with the majority that he could not escape bitter hatred.
Therefore all his work was built on the sand, and all that he had
accomplished vanished with his death, save the mere material gains
of commerce and colonies that he had won for England. His name, very
unjustly, became a byword for ambition and religious cant. A whole
generation had to pass before men dared speak well of him.

[Sidenote: =Richard Cromwell Protector.=]

The moment that Cromwell died, his system began to break up; in six
months it had disappeared; in eighteen months England once more was
ruled by a Stuart king. The Lord Protector had named no successor, but
the Council of State took the step of nominating his son Richard to his
place, as being the man who would divide parties the least. Richard
Cromwell was an easy-going country gentleman, without any of his
father's characteristics. He was neither self-confident, nor a soldier,
nor a man of fervent religion. When saluted as Protector, he observed
that he would never make anything more than a fair chief-constable.
He bore himself modestly and discreetly, and proceeded at once to
endeavour to put himself right with the nation by calling a Parliament.
It met in January, 1659, and was found to contain many concealed
Royalists, and many more stiff republicans of the old Presbyterian
type, who objected on principle to the protectorship. Such a body was
bound to fall into internal quarrels; all parties in it concurred in
treating the unfortunate Richard with disregard.

[Sidenote: =Richard and the army.--He resigns.=]

But it was not the Parliament which was to upset the new Lord
Protector. The army saw that with Oliver's death their old power was
gone, for neither Richard nor the two Houses had any sympathy with
them. A council of officers met, and resolved to seize control of
affairs. They petitioned for the appointment of a general-in-chief who
should represent them and act as their leader. When this was refused, a
deputation of colonels called on the weak Richard, and hectored him, by
threats of violence, into dissolving Parliament (April, 1659). Equally
unwilling and unable to become a military autocrat, the Lord Protector
immediately after resigned his office, and went off in joy to his quiet
country seat of Hursley. He lived there as an obscure squire for more
than forty years, and survived till the reign of Queen Anne.

[Sidenote: =Revival of the "Rump."=]

England was now without a Protector and without a Parliament, left in
the hands of a ring of ambitious and fanatical military men. Looking
round for the fittest tool to serve their purposes, the committee of
officers resolved on restoring the old "Rump Parliament" which had
disappeared so ignominiously six years before. Accordingly, they sought
out the Independent members who had once sat in that body, and restored
them to Westminster Hall. Forty survivors under Speaker Lenthall took
their old places, and claimed to be the governing power of England (May

[Sidenote: =Quarrels of the military leaders.=]

Of all the bodies which had ever ruled England, the "Rump" had been the
most incapable and the most despised. The whole nation was indignant at
seeing its miserable remnant replaced in power. Meanwhile the officers
began to fall out with each other: Lambert, Fleetwood, Desborough, had
each his party among the soldiery, and aspired to fill Oliver's vacant
place. Eight months of anarchy followed; the various generals bullied
the Parliament and intrigued against each other. Royalist risings took
place in Cheshire and the West. Finally Lambert, the most vigorous of
the military men, entered London with his regiments and drove out the
Parliament, just as Oliver had done six years before. But Lambert was
no Cromwell; he only ruled a fraction of the soldiery, and had no party
among the people (October, 1659).

[Sidenote: =Popular wish for a Restoration.=]

The divisions of the army had at last broken the formidable military
power which had so long repressed the wishes of the nation.
Commonwealths and Protectors had been tried in the balance and found
wanting. There was a general feeling that the only way out of anarchy
was the restoration of the old constitution of England, with King,
Lords, and Commons. The majority even of the original Parliamentarians
of 1642 were ready to acknowledge that they had done unwisely, in
breaking up the foundations of law and order by abolishing the
monarchy. Calvinistic fervour had worked itself out; the majority of
the old Puritans of the days of Charles I. had come to realize that
Levellers, Fifth-monarchy men, and military saints were even more
objectionable and impracticable than the Episcopalians whom they had
once hated so sorely.

[Sidenote: =Monk marches to London.=]

Meanwhile there was a man who saw clearly the one way to restore a
stable government and to content the nation. George Monk, a calm,
self-reliant soldier who commanded the army in Scotland, had resolved
to use his regiments, on whose obedience he could implicitly count, to
restore legal and constitutional rule. His own private ambition lay in
the direction of a quiet and assured competence, not of an unsteady
grasp on supreme power. He put himself secretly in communication with
the exiled Prince of Wales and the chiefs of the English Royalists.
No one else knew his design. Crossing the Tweed with 7000 men, he
scattered the troops of Lambert and seized London. Then he summoned
all the surviving members of the old "Long Parliament," as it had sat
in 1642, to meet at Westminster, on the ground that it had been the
last undoubtedly legal and constitutional government that England had
possessed. The members met, now for the most part elderly men, cured
of their old fanaticisms by ten years of military despotism, and ready
for any reasonable compromise. By Monk's direction they issued writs
for a new Parliament, and then formally dissolved themselves.

[Sidenote: =The Convention Parliament.--Declaration of Breda.=]

The new or Convention Parliament met on April 26, 1660; it was full
of Royalists, who for the first time since the civil war dared show
themselves and avow their opinions. Monk now openly began to negotiate
with Prince Charles for a restoration of the monarchy, on the basis of
oblivion of the past, and toleration and constitutional government for
the future. The exiled Stuart promised these things in his "Declaration
of Breda," though there were in his promises certain reservations,
which cautious men regarded with distrust.

[Sidenote: =Return of Charles II.=]

But the realm was yearning for repose and peace, and the Parliament
accepted Charles's offer with haste and effusion. Lambert and a few
fanatical regiments vainly attempted to struggle against the popular
will, but Monk crushed them with ease. In May 1660, the Prince of Wales
was formally invited to return and resume his hereditary rights. On the
29th of the month he landed at Dover, and was saluted as Charles II. by
the unanimous voice of a rejoicing nation.




[Sidenote: =Character of Charles.=]

Charles Stuart, who now returned to fill the English throne, was a
young man of thirty. He had spent the last fourteen years of his life
in exile, the penniless guest of many unwilling hosts in Holland,
France, and Germany. Save eighteen uncomfortable months passed in the
camp of the Scottish Covenanters, none of the days of his manhood
had been spent on this side of the sea. He was continental in his
manners, thoughts, and life. He had picked up his personal morals at
the French court, and his political morals from the group of intriguing
exiles who had formed his wandering and impecunious court. He laughed
at purity in women and honesty in men. He was grossly selfish and
ungrateful. Knowing by long experience how bitter is the bread doled
out by the exile's host, "how steep to climb another's stair," he had
one fixed idea--"he would never," as he phrased it, "go on his travels
again." He had resolved to stay in England at all costs, to enjoy
the Promised Land, now, contrary to all expectation, fallen into his
hands. Accordingly, he wished to get as much out of his kingdom as was
compatible with the necessity of never offending the majority of the
nation. His personal leanings lay in the direction of absolute power
and Right Divine, but he was perfectly ready to sacrifice them to his
prudence. If he had any religious bias, it led him in the direction of
Romanism--a comfortable creed for kings--but he was quite prepared to
pose as a zealous Anglican, just as during his stay in Scotland he had
become a conforming Presbyterian.

Charles, though destitute of personal beauty--his features were thin
and harsh--had an affable address, a lively wit, and perfect manners.
Supple and suave, he could make himself agreeable among any company. He
had the careless good-humour that so often accompanies selfishness, and
his character was too light and easy to make him a good hater. He was
quite prepared to take to himself any allies who might appear, and to
sell himself to any bidder whose terms were high enough.

[Sidenote: =Charles and the Convention Parliament.=]

Charles appeared in England as the representative of legality and
constitutional rule, as the saviour of society who was to lay once
more the foundations of peace and order, after ten years of military
despotism. He was ready to accept just so much power as might be
offered him, with the full intention of ultimately gaining as much more
as he could safely assume. The "Convention Parliament," with which he
had at first to deal, was a cautious body, containing many elderly men,
who had fought against Charles I. and only accepted his son because
of the dismal experience of ten years of rule by military "saints."
The new king was therefore bound to be careful at first. Any unwise
movement of opposition might upset his still unsteady throne.

The Parliament, however, was prepared to deal very liberally with
Charles. They disbanded the old Cromwellian standing army. They
granted him an annual revenue of £1,200,000 for life, to be raised
from customs and excise. In return, the old vexatious feudal dues of
the crown from reliefs, wardships, alienations, etc., were abolished.
An amnesty was voted to all who had fought against the king in the
old wars, with the single exception of those who had sat in the "High
Court of Justice" of 1649, and been concerned in the execution of
Charles I. Eighty-seven persons, of whom twenty-four were dead, came
under this category. Of the survivors some score fled over-seas; the
remainder were tried before a court of High Commission. Thirteen were
executed,[43] twenty-five imprisoned for life, the rest punished
with less rigour; at the same time the Earl of Argyle, the chief of
the Scottish Covenanters, was executed at Edinburgh. The bodies of
Cromwell, Bradshaw, and Ireton were ordered to be disinterred and
gibbeted--an unworthy and uncomely act for which the spirit of the time
is no sufficient excuse.

An "Act of Oblivion and Indemnity" was passed to cover acts of the
governments of the last twelve years. It stipulated that Crown and
Church lands which the Commonwealth had granted away should be restored
by their present holders, who were not, however, to suffer any other
penalty. Private lands were to be restored if they had been actually
confiscated by the government, but not if they had been sold by the
Cavalier owners under pressure of war or debt. Thus many who had served
Charles I. to the best of their ability got no compensation from his
son. Gratitude was not the new king's strong point.

[Sidenote: =The Church question.=]

There was a third problem on which the Convention Parliament found
the gravest difficulty in arriving at an agreement--the settlement of
the Church. The benefices of England were at the moment in the hands
of Presbyterian and Independent ministers of various shades of creed.
Many of them had replaced incumbents of the Church of England thrust
out by the Long Parliament. Others had succeeded in more peaceful wise.
On the other hand, the extruded clergy of the old Church were claiming
restoration to the cures from which they had been so ruthlessly
ejected. What was to be done between the old holders and the new? Was
the Church of England to be restored in all its ancient organization,
and to become Anglican and Episcopal once more, or was it to be a lax
organization including all manner of beliefs within its fold? The
Parliament included many who were for "comprehension," and many who
were pledged to a rigid restoration of the old order. It had been
unable to come to any conclusion when it was dissolved in December,
1660. The king, however, had issued a declaration that a conference
should be held between an equal number of Presbyterian and Episcopal
divines, with the object of arriving at a compromise.

[Sidenote: =The Cavalier Parliament.=]

The new House of Commons which met in the spring of 1661 was a very
different body from the "Convention." Elected in the full flush of
Royalist enthusiasm at the restoration of law and order, it contained
a very small proportion of the old Roundhead party. Its members, young
and old, were for the most part such zealous adorers of Church and
King, that they received the name of the "Cavalier Parliament." Charles
was ready to take all they cared to give him, while his prime minister
Clarendon was a High Churchman, and an advocate of hereditary divine
right; but even they found it necessary to restrain from time to time
the exuberant loyalty of the Commons.

The "Cavalier Parliament" showed the blindest confidence in the king,
whose real character his subjects had not yet discovered. They passed
bills asserting the incompetency of the two Houses to legislate without
the sovereign's consent, declaring that under no circumstances was
it lawful to levy war against the king, and placing all the military
and naval forces of the realm in his hands. The "Solemn League and
Covenant," which had been the shibboleth of the old Roundheads, they
ordered to be burnt by the common hangman.

[Sidenote: =The Act of Uniformity.=]

These comparatively harmless beginnings were followed by a series
of bills prompted by a spirit of unwise rancour against the men who
had ruled England from 1648 to 1660. The Cavaliers had twelve years
of spiritual and temporal oppression to revenge, and were determined
to do as they had been done by. The Church settlement, which had
been left pending by the Convention, they carried out in the most
summary way. The king had promised that a meeting between divines of
the old Church and Presbyterian ministers should be held, in order
to endeavour to bring about a union. But the scheme came to nothing;
at the "Savoy Conference" of 1661, each side refused to move an inch
from its position. The Parliament then proceeded to pass the "Act
of Uniformity," to force the Puritans either to conform or to leave
the Church. The Book of Common Prayer, slightly revised, and the
Thirty-nine Articles were to be the rule of faith, and every minister
was ordered to use and abide by them. Every incumbent was to declare
his assent to them by August 24, 1662, or to vacate his benefice;
such was also to be the fate of all who refused to accept Episcopal
ordination. This left the Puritan ministers three months to choose
between conformity and expulsion--a longer shrift than they had allowed
the Anglican clergy in the days of the triumph of Presbyterianism.
The large majority of them conformed, and accepted Episcopacy and
the Book of Common Prayer; these men became the parents of the "Low
Church" party of the succeeding age. The more stubborn souls refused
obedience; about 2000 of them were expelled from their livings on St.
Bartholomew's Day, 1662. They and their followers are the original
progenitors of the dissenting sects of modern England. The extrusion of
the Puritans was most thoroughly carried out, not only in the case of
beneficed clergy, but in the Universities and schools. No University
professor and no schoolmaster was to be allowed to teach, unless he got
a certificate of orthodoxy from his bishop.

[Sidenote: =The Corporation Act.=]

Not content with thrusting out the Puritan ministers from the livings
they had held, the Parliament went on to legislate against the Puritan
laity. The "Corporation Act" of 1661 enacted that all mayors, aldermen,
and other office-holders in the cities and boroughs of England should,
on assuming their functions, abjure the Covenant, take the oath of
supremacy and allegiance to the king, and receive the Holy Communion
according to the rites of the Anglican Church. Thus the Sacrament was
made into a political test, a scandalous perversion of the Holy Table.
This bill excluded all sectarians of the more conscientious and honest
sort from municipal authority, but it also produced the unsatisfactory
class of "occasional conformists," dissenters who took the oaths and
the Communion according to law, but remained outside the Church.

[Sidenote: =The Conventicle Act and the Five-Mile Act.=]

Before passing on to matters outside the sphere of things
ecclesiastical, we must mention two other persecuting bills passed, at
a somewhat later date, by the "Cavalier Parliament." The "Conventicle
Act" of 1664 forbade religious meetings of dissenters. Family worship
was to be allowed, but if any number of persons more than five were
present, beyond the members of the family, such a gathering was to
be held a "conventicle," and the hearers to be punished. Lastly, the
"Five-Mile Act" of 1665 forbade any minister who had refused to sign
the "Act of Uniformity" to dwell within five miles of any city or
corporate borough. It also prohibited such men from acting as tutors or
schoolmasters, unless they took an oath "to attempt no alteration of
the constitution in Church or State." These acts were purely vexatious
and spiteful, as the Nonconformists were now completely crushed and
harmless. Their numbers were already rapidly dwindling, and by the end
of the century they did not number a fifth of the population of the
realm. The vast majority of them had gone to swell the Low Church party
within the Anglican establishment.

[Sidenote: =Clarendon.=]

For the first seven years of the reign of Charles II., the days of
the "Cavalier Parliament," the chief minister of the realm was Edward
Hyde, Lord Clarendon. He was a survivor from the days of the Long
Parliament, being one of the original reforming members of that body
who had gone over to the royal side when the Puritan majority commenced
to attack the Church. He had been one of the wiser and more moderate
councillors of Charles I., and had followed Charles II. all through the
days of his exile. His daughter, Anne Hyde, had married James, Duke of
York, the king's brother. Fourteen years of exile had put him somewhat
out of touch of English politics, and his political ideals were more
like those of the Elizabethan monarchy than those of his own day. He
was an honest and capable, but not a very strong man. All through his
life he preserved the theories which had guided him in the early days
of the Long Parliament, wishing to keep a balance between the royal
Prerogative and the power of the two Houses. Of course he failed to
satisfy either king or Parliament, Charles thought that he was not
so zealous a servant as he might have been; while the advocates of
stringent checks on the monarchy thought him too subservient to his
master. Clarendon was a strong Churchman, and must bear his share of
the responsibility for the iniquitous "Conventicle" and "Five-Mile"
acts. In secular matters he was more judicious; he always opposed the
attempts of the king or Parliament to slur over the "Act of Oblivion
and Indemnity" and hunt down the adherents of the Commonwealth. In
foreign affairs he was a strong advocate of the old Elizabethan policy
of war with Spain and friendship with France, a system which was
rapidly becoming very dangerous, owing to the growing preponderance
of France under the vigorous and ambitious young king, Lewis XIV.
The first sign of his views was the sale of Dunkirk, Cromwell's old
conquest, to the French for 5,000,000 francs.

[Sidenote: =Profligacy of the court.=]

Clarendon's great fault was that he had no influence over his master,
the king. He allowed Charles to develop his unworthy personal habits
without remonstrance. The king filled both his palace and the public
service with disreputable favourites. He neglected his amiable but
unattractive wife, Catherine of Portugal,[44] and filled his court with
a perfect harem of mistresses, whose sons he made dukes and earls.
England had never seen shameless immorality in high places so rampant
in any previous age. The king's companions and servants were, as might
have been expected, men of scandalous life, and quite unfit for the
offices into which he thrust them. The tone of the court had a profound
and unhappy influence on the manners of the day. Never were the private
vices displayed so unblushingly; as if in protest against the formal
piety and bleak austerity of the days of the Puritans, England--or at
least its governing classes--plunged into extravagance and evil living
of all sorts. Drunkenness, profanity, thriftless luxury, gambling,
duelling, shameless lust, were accounted no discredit. The literature,
and more especially the drama, of the Restoration is coarse and foul
beyond belief. Even great poets like Dryden felt constrained to be
scurrilous when they wished to please. The days of the great civil war
had brought out the sterner virtues of Englishmen; the Restoration and
the reign of domestic peace were marked by the outburst of all the
folly and lewd frivolity which had so long been dormant beneath the

[Sidenote: =The Dutch war.--1665-67.=]

The chief political event of Clarendon's administration was the second
Dutch war, a struggle into which the minister was forced somewhat
against his will. It was an unwise war, for, in spite of the fact that
their commercial interests often clashed, England and Holland needed
each other's aid against the dangerous and restless power of France.
Narrow trade jealousy, however, sufficed to bring on a conflict which
ended with little credit to England. The fleet was very unsuccessful at
sea, not so much owing to its own fault, as to the unskilful hands of
its admirals. Charles gave the command to two old military men--General
Monk, the author of the Restoration, and Prince Rupert. These gallant
cavalry officers were wholly unable to handle a fleet; they led their
ships into battle, whatever the odds against them, and then left the
day to be decided by hard fighting. At a great three-days' engagement
in the Downs (January 1-2-3, 1666) Monk was totally defeated by the
Dutch admiral, De Ruyter, and his ill-success was very insufficiently
revenged by some predatory descents on the coast of Holland in the next

[Sidenote: =The Plague--1665.=]

The days of the Dutch war were some of the most unhappy that England
has ever known. In the summer and autumn of 1665, the land was smitten
with the worst outbreak of pestilence that it has ever suffered. The
"Great Plague" raged in London with awful severity. The crowded and
ill-built city, utterly destitute of any sanitary appliances, and
foul with the accumulated filth of centuries, became a very hotbed
of contagion. Whole streets and parishes were swept clear of their
inhabitants by death or desertion; the clergy fled from their cures,
the physicians from their patients. All who could escape removed into
the country, and London in the late autumn looked like a city of the
dead, the grass growing high in its streets. The great plague-pits
by St. Martin's-in-the-Fields and Mile-end had been filled one after
another, as fast as they could be opened, with huddled bodies gathered
in the dreaded death-cart. At least a hundred thousand persons
perished; contemporary rumour named an even greater figure.

[Sidenote: =The Fire in London.--1666.=]

London had hardly recovered from the Plague, when in the next year it
suffered a fresh calamity, the Great Fire. A chance conflagration,
bursting out in the heart of the city, was carried west and north by
a strong wind, and swept away two-thirds of the inhabited houses of
the capital. All the great buildings of mediaeval London perished in
the flames, the old Gothic Cathedral of St. Paul's, eighty-eight other
churches, the Guildhall, the historic mansions of the nobility, the
halls of the rich City Companies, hospitals, old monastic remains,
all were swept away. Hence it comes that central London is poorer in
ancient architectural monuments than many a country town. The popular
dismay at such an unexampled catastrophe was so great that a rumour
went abroad that the conflagration was no accident, but had been
planned and spread by the Papists, who were believed capable of any
enormity since the wild attempt of Guy Fawkes. The Great Fire was
not without its benefits; it swept away for ever a thousand mediaeval
fever-dens, and allowed of the rebuilding of the city with wider
streets and more direct communications. Perhaps we may add that it
gave a unique opportunity to the great architect Christopher Wren, to
display his talents in the new St. Paul's and the many other churches
which he was commissioned to rebuild.

[Sidenote: =The Peace of Breda.=]

London was hardly beginning to rise again from its ashes, when the
Dutch war ended, in some disgrace, but no loss to England. The English
fleet had not recovered from the disaster in the Downs, for Charles
II. had squandered on his palace and harem the liberal grants which
Parliament made him to repair his navy. While the seas were unguarded,
a Dutch squadron slipped up the Thames, burnt the English dockyard
and ships at Chatham, and held the port of London blockaded for some
days. But negotiations were already on foot before this disaster was
suffered, and the Peace of Breda (1667) put an end to the war. The
terms were less unfavourable than might have been expected; England
modified the Navigation Act of Cromwell's day in favour of Holland, but
kept the valuable conquest of New Amsterdam, a Dutch colony in North
America, which lay between New England and Virginia. The settlement
changed its name, and was called in the future New York, after the
king's brother, James, Duke of York.

[Sidenote: =Fall of Clarendon.=]

Just after the Peace of Breda, Clarendon lost his place as the king's
chief minister. The disasters and mismanagement of the war were,
very unjustly, imputed to him rather than to his master. The Commons
impeached him for permitting corruption among the public servants,
and for wilfully misconducting the war. Bowing to the storm, he left
England and dwelt in exile till his death.

[Sidenote: =The Cabal.=]

No one was more glad than the king at Clarendon's departure. He filled
the place of his well-intentioned, if narrow-minded, minister with a
clique of his disreputable friends. This administration was called
the "Cabal" (from _Cabala_, the Hebrew word for strange and occult
knowledge), as being the depository of the king's secrets. The name
became popular because it chanced that the initials of the names of
the five men who formed it spelt the word "Cabal." They were Clifford,
Arlington, Buckingham, Ashley, and Lauderdale. Lord Clifford and the
Earl of Arlington were Romanists, a fact which brought much odium and
suspicion on their doings. George, Duke of Buckingham, the son of the
favourite of Charles I., a volatile, insincere man--

    "Stiff in opinion, always in the wrong,
    Was everything by starts, and nothing long,"

as Dryden wrote. He was the most profligate and unscrupulous man
in England. Lauderdale, an ambitious Scottish peer, was a renegade
Covenanter who had sold himself to the king for power. Anthony Ashley,
Lord Shaftesbury, was also an old Roundhead, whose love of office and
preferment had overcome his principles. He was an active, unscrupulous
man, whose ready talents were only prevented from achieving greatness
by his want of honesty and clear judgment.

[Sidenote: =Policy of Charles.=]

In replacing Clarendon by the "Cabal," Charles had two objects. So
far as he cared for anything beyond his own pleasures, he was set on
attaining two ends which he knew to be hateful to the nation: one was
to render himself independent of Parliamentary control; the other
to secure toleration, and if possible predominance, in England for
Romanism. He thought that his new ministers were sufficiently free from
scruples to aid him in his projects.

[Sidenote: =Schemes of Lewis XIV.=]

His main helper in the scheme was to be his cousin Lewis XIV., the
zealous champion of Roman Catholicism on the continent, and the
most busy and ambitious monarch that France had ever known. Lewis
had already started on his long career of aggression against Spain,
Holland, and Austria. He was set on seizing for himself the frontier
of the Rhine, the dream of all French statesmen since his day. To
achieve this, he wished to conquer the Spanish Netherlands--the modern
Belgium--and the petty principalities of the middle and lower Rhine.
At the same time he was set on striking a blow against Protestantism,
whenever he had the chance, and most especially against the Protestant
power of Holland--for the "United Provinces" were both republican and
Calvinist, the two things that he hated most in the world.

[Sidenote: =The Treaty of Dover.=]

After diverting suspicions from his object for a moment, by concluding
a treaty of alliance with Holland and Sweden, which met with universal
approval, the king began to broach his scheme. It was worked out in the
iniquitous "Treaty of Dover" (May, 1670). By this Charles undertook
to join Lewis in destroying Holland and dividing up the Spanish
Netherlands. In return for this service he was to receive a subsidy
of £200,000 a year from France, and to have the aid of 6000 French
troops to crush any rebellion that might arise in England when he took
in hand the great project of restoring Catholic predominance in the
realm. This last clause was only known to the king, and to Arlington
and Clifford, the Romanist members of the Cabal. It was concealed from
Lauderdale, Buckingham, and Shaftesbury, who only knew of the plan for
the partition of Holland and the Spanish dominions.

[Sidenote: =Second Dutch war.=]

Having concluded this iniquitous agreement with his cousin, Charles
prorogued Parliament--he kept it from meeting for two years--and
declared war on the Dutch, without any ostensible cause or reason. At
the same time the French king launched a great army over his northern
frontier, overran the Spanish Netherlands, and penetrated far into
Holland. The Dutch were only saved from destruction by their desperate
resistance. Their fleet fought a drawn battle with the English at
Southwold, and staved off a naval invasion. Meanwhile the young William
of Orange, the heir of the old stadtholders, saved Amsterdam from the
French by breaking down the dykes and inundating South Holland. Driven
back by the floods, the French had to evacuate their Dutch conquests

[Sidenote: =The Declaration of Indulgence.=]

Meanwhile Charles began to carry out his agreement with Lewis for
restoring Romanism, by issuing his "Declaration of Indulgence,"
suspending all the penal laws which imposed penalties on Roman
Catholics. To cloak his design, he made the proclamations cover
Protestant Nonconformists, as well as dissidents belonging to the older

[Sidenote: =Popular indignation.--The Test Act.=]

But the king had miscalculated the feeling of England. The "Declaration
of Indulgence" raised a storm about his ears which he dared not face.
So wrathful were the Churchmen, Low Church and High Church alike,
that he felt in serious danger of deposition. The Parliament met in
February, 1673, and passed an address requiring the king to withdraw
the "Declaration." Charles felt his nerve give way; instead of standing
his ground, and calling in his French auxiliaries, he yielded, and
withdrew his edict of toleration. The Parliament then passed the "Test
Act," which excluded all Nonconformists, Protestant and Romanist alike,
from all official positions. This made it impossible for Charles to
retain his Catholic ministers, Arlington and Clifford, and caused the
downfall of the Cabal, which went out of office in the end of 1673.
The Test Act also drove from his place as Lord High Admiral the king's
brother James, who had become an avowed Romanist.

[Sidenote: =Peace with Holland.--Danby chief minister.=]

The failure of the king's schemes was still further marked by the
conclusion of peace with Holland in February, 1674, and the appointment
as chief minister of Thomas Osborne, Lord Danby, a good Churchman
and an enemy of France. Determined "not to go on his travels again,"
Charles gave way on all points, to the deep disgust of his cousin of
France, who despised him greatly for his craven desertion of the cause
of Romanism.

[Sidenote: =Marriage of Princess Mary and William of Orange.=]

But the king had not really given up his design. He was quite ready
to renew his alliance with France when the times should be more
favourable. Meanwhile he was compelled to profess an attachment to
Holland, and married his heiress, the Princess Mary, his brother
James's daughter, to the young Prince of Orange, the sworn foe of
France (1677). By such means he was able to keep himself safe, and to
laugh at the efforts of the Low Church party in Parliament.

[Sidenote: =Shaftesbury and the "country party."=]

This faction, the "country party," as it called itself, was now
headed by the unscrupulous adventurer Shaftesbury, who from being a
minister had become the king's deadly enemy, and was trying to stir up
trouble by warning the nation to beware of the Romanist and absolutist
tendencies of his old master--of whose reality none had a better
knowledge than himself.

[Sidenote: Fall of Danby.]

Danby was driven from office in 1678, owing to the discovery of
some of the king's secret negotiations with France, to which he had
been weak enough to give his assent for the moment, though his own
views were opposed to the alliance with Lewis XIV. The French king
knew this fact, and treacherously made the negotiations known, in
order that Danby might be discredited, and replaced by a minister
more suited to his tastes. His wily scheme was successful; Danby was
hounded from office, impeached, and condemned to imprisonment in the
Tower, though he produced the king's warrant for all he had done.
But the Parliament voted that the king could do no wrong, and that a
minister was responsible for all his acts, even when he acted under the
strongest pressure from his master. Thus the theory of "ministerial
responsibility" was fixedly and unequivocally proclaimed as part of the

[Sidenote: =Shaftesbury's schemes.=]

The fact that secret treaties with France were again in the air, gave
Shaftesbury and his friends, the ultra-Protestants, a fine opportunity
for a demonstration. Soon after Danby's fall, they raised a cry that
the kingdom was in danger from a plot to restore Romanism by the aid of
armed force from France. This was true enough, and the criminal was the
King of England. But Shaftesbury did not strike at the king; he feared
the loyalty of the Churchmen to the heir of Charles I., and thought
that his sovereign was so supple and weak that he might be terrorized
into becoming his instrument. The king was to be reduced to nullity,
not removed.

[Sidenote: =The Popish Plot.=]

When the cry against the Romanists was growing strong, there came
forward a certain depraved clergyman named Titus Oates, who had been
for a time perverted to Romanism, and had dwelt much with the Jesuits.
He made himself Shaftesbury's tool, by declaring that he had gained
knowledge of a great conspiracy against the peace of the realm. This
"Popish Plot" was, he said, an agreement by a number of English
Catholics to slay the king and introduce a French army into the realm
in order to place James of York, the king's Romanist brother, on the
throne. Now, it is probable enough that some of the accused were in
correspondence with France, and letters were discovered from Coleman,
secretary to the Duchess of York, written to friends abroad, which
spoke of an approaching blow to the Protestant cause. But the blow was
really to be dealt by Charles, not against him. It was he who was in
truth conspiring to bring over the French and conquer his own realm by
their aid.

[Sidenote: =Popular panic.=]

Oates, however, perjured himself up to the hilt, bringing forward
accusations against all the leading English Romanists, and hinting that
even Queen Catherine herself was privy to a plot to murder her husband.
Many minor informers also sprang up to corroborate the venomous tale of
Oates. The nation was seriously alarmed. A perfect outburst of frenzy
followed, and every Romanist in England was denounced as a disciple
of Guy Fawkes. Charles, to his shame, pretended to take the story
seriously, though none knew better than he its folly.

[Sidenote: =The Exclusion Bill.--The Habeas Corpus Act.=]

A new Parliament met in March, 1679; it was elected in the full flood
of indignation against the "Plot," and Shaftesbury found that he could
command a clear majority of its votes. He used his power to bring in
a bill excluding the Duke of York, as an avowed Romanist, from the
throne. To save his brother's rights, Charles dissolved the Commons
before they could pass it. The only work that this Parliament had
succeeded in carrying through was the _Habeas Corpus Act_, a very
important enactment prohibiting arbitrary imprisonment without a trial.
No man was to be kept in gaol untried, and penalties were imposed on
the gaoler who should detain him, and the judge who should refuse to
hear him plead. This principle required to be explicitly reasserted
under the later Stuarts, though it is found formulated in Magna Carta

[Sidenote: =Pretensions of the Duke of Monmouth.=]

The second Parliament of 1679 was, to the king's disgust, almost as
much under the influence of Shaftesbury and the alarmists as the
first. The nation was still in a ferment; month after month prominent
Catholics were imprisoned on the evidence of Oates and his gang, tried,
and condemned to death. So great was the fear felt of the Romanist Duke
of York, that a preposterous plan was formed by Shaftesbury and his
friends to replace him as heir to the throne by the Duke of Monmouth,
the eldest of the natural sons of King Charles. This was a manifest
injustice to the Princess Mary, the Protestant daughter of Duke James.
Her father's religion could not vitiate her rights. But Monmouth was a
popular youth, of fair parts and abilities. He had won some military
reputation by putting down a dangerous rebellion of the Scottish
Covenanters, who had murdered the Archbishop of St. Andrews, risen in
arms, and got possession of the Western Lowlands. After routing them at
Bothwell Brig (June, 1679), Monmouth was saluted as a conquering hero,
and rumours were put about that his mother, Lucy Walters, had been
secretly married to the king. Charles himself hastened to deny this
lie, but it had its effect, and a serious effort was made to substitute
Monmouth for his uncle.

[Sidenote: =Shaftesbury loses ground.=]

All through 1680 the struggle was at its height, though Shaftesbury
was gradually losing ground, owing to the unwise violence of his
conduct, and the growing disrepute of his tool, Titus Oates, whose
reckless falsehoods were beginning to be detected by sober men. The
contest turned on the fate of the Exclusion Bill, which declared James
incapable of reigning, and transferred his rights to his daughter Mary,
the Princess of Orange, though many suspected that Shaftesbury intended
to substitute Monmouth for the princess.

[Sidenote: ="Petitioners and Abhorrers."--Whigs and Tories.=]

It is at this moment that the famous political names which were to rule
England for the next century and a half come into sight. At first the
opponents of the Exclusion Bill, the supporters of the divine right
of hereditary succession, and the defenders of the Duke of York, were
called "Abhorrers," from the numerous addresses which they sent to the
king declaring their abhorrence of the Exclusion Bill. On the other
hand, the supporters of Shaftesbury, and the believers in the Popish
Plot, were called "Petitioners," from the petitions which they kept
signing in favour of the bill. But soon two less cumbrous, if stranger,
names were found for the two parties. The "Abhorrers" were nicknamed
"Tories" by their enemies, from the appellation of a horde of banditti,
who lurked in the bogs of Ireland. The Petitioners, on the other hand,
were christened "Whigs" by their rivals, after the name of a fanatical
sect of Scottish Covenanters. These titles, bestowed in ridicule
at first, were finally accepted in earnest, and became the usual
denomination of the two great parties.

The Exclusion Bill was passed by Shaftesbury and his majority of Whigs
in the Commons, once in 1679, and once in 1680. But the House of Lords
threw it out, and Charles dissolved the Parliament once and again,
till in 1681 the fear of the Popish Plot began to blow over, and the
violence of Shaftesbury to disgust the moderate members of his own
party. The cruel execution, in December, 1680, of Lord Stafford, an old
Romanist peer of blameless life, whose innocence was known to all, was
the last and most damaging triumph of the Whigs. Its injustice caused
many of Shaftesbury's supporters to fall away. His intrigues in favour
of Monmouth, and the open support which he gave to the lying Oates, had
ruined him.

[Sidenote: =Fall of Shaftesbury.--The Rye-House Plot.=]

In 1681 the king accused him of high treason for collecting armed
followers to overawe Parliament. A London jury refused to convict him,
and he plunged into still more desperate courses. Conspiring with Lord
William Russell and Algernon Sydney to raise rebellion, he was detected
and fled over-sea to escape punishment. Some of his more desperate
followers went on with his plot, which they developed into a plan for
assassinating Charles as he passed the Rye House in Hertfordshire, on
his way to Newmarket. The disclosure of this reckless conspiracy ruined
the Whigs; the whole party was believed to have been privy to it,
though it was in truth the work of a very small clique, headed by one
Colonel Rumbold, an old Cromwellian officer (1682).

[Sidenote: =Execution of Russell and Sydney.=]

The king, finding that public opinion was veering round to his side,
was emboldened to strike a blow at the whole Whig faction. Mixing up
the Rye-House Plot with Shaftesbury's abortive plans, he seized all
their chief leaders, and had them tried for high treason. Subservient
judges and a packed jury made their fall easy. Lord William Russell and
Algernon Sydney were beheaded; Lord Essex committed suicide in prison.
The evidence connecting Russell and Sydney with the assassination plot
was trivial, and their execution little else than a judicial murder

[Sidenote: =Death of Charles.=]

Charles was now in a better position to carry out his long-concealed
plan for the restoration of arbitrary government and the furthering of
Romanism than at any previous time in his reign. He left Parliament
unsummoned for more than two years, prepared to renew his alliance with
France, endeavoured to collect a body of ministers who would second
his views, and largely increased his standing army. He made several
unconstitutional encroachments on the liberty of his subjects--such as
forfeiting the charters of many cities, including London itself--and
was cautiously feeling his way towards more decisive measures. But
on February 6, 1685, his plans were suddenly interrupted by a fatal
apoplectic stroke, which carried him off before he had attained the age
of fifty-five. On his death-bed he had himself openly received into the
Roman Catholic faith, of which he had so long been the secret partisan.
It was fortunate that his schemes were brought to such an untimely end,
for if a cautious foe to the liberties of England, he was a very clever
and insidious one. Of the stubborn folly which ruined his successor, he
would never have been guilty.


[43] General Harrison and nine other members of the court, Colonels
Axtell and Hacker, who had superintended the execution, and Sir Henry
Vane, though he was not an actual regicide.

[44] Only notable in British history because she brought the isle of
Bombay as her dowry.




No greater testimony to the caution and cleverness of Charles II. can
be given than the fact that, after a reign of twenty-five stormy years,
he died in possession of a very considerable measure of absolute power,
having lived down his troubles, secured the devotion of the larger half
of the nation, strengthened himself with a standing army, and dispensed
for three years with any summons of Parliament.

His successor was to prove that a man without tact and pliability,
pursuing the same schemes for the restoration of arbitrary government
and Romanism, might wreck himself in three years and die an exile.

[Sidenote: =Character of James.=]

Yet James of York was in many ways a stronger and a better man than
Charles II. He possessed conscience and courage in a far greater
measure than his brother. His life was not an open scandal; his
word could be relied upon; his attachment to his faith was devoted
and sincere. But he had three ruinous faults: he was obstinate
to blindness; long after a fact had become patent to all men, he
would refuse to recognize its existence. He was full of a bigoted
self-sufficiency that arose from an overweening belief in his own
good intentions and wisdom. Lastly, he was a man unable to forgive
or forget; there was no drop of mercy in his composition; he could
understand nothing but the letter of the law. Blind, conceited,
pitiless, he was bound to win the hatred of all who differed from him,
and it was soon to be discovered that nine-tenths of the English nation
were numbered in that class.

James was a man of business and method, as well as a man of action.
He had commanded a fleet with credit in the Dutch war; he had presided
with success at the Admiralty till he was compelled to resign that
office by the Test Act. He had ruled Scotland for a time with a very
firm, if a rigid, hand. But no amount of mere administrative ability
could make up for his entire want of judgment, foresight, and geniality.

[Sidenote: =The Tory party.=]

Yet on his accession, the new king had everything in his favour. The
Tory party was still in the ascendency which it had enjoyed ever since
the Whigs had been discredited by the Rye-House Plot. It was resolved
to trust and support James as long as he behaved in a constitutional
manner, and had a strong confidence in his honesty. Accordingly, the
king's first Parliament granted him the liberal income of £1,900,000
a year, and protested its complete reliance on his wisdom and good
intentions. Nor was any objection made when James sought out and
punished the informers who had fabricated the Popish Plot, though their
chastisement was very barbarous. Oates, their chief, received 1700
lashes twice within forty-eight hours, yet survived, in spite of a
sentence which had obviously been intended to kill him.

[Sidenote: =Rebellion of Monmouth and Argyle.=]

The first real shock to the confidence of the nation in the king was
caused by the cruelty with which he put down an insurrection which
broke out against him in the summer that followed his accession.
The late king's bastard son, James, Duke of Monmouth, the tool of
Shaftesbury in 1680, was living in exile in Holland, along with many
violent Whigs, who were charged, truly or falsely, with participation
in the Rye-House Plot. Monmouth, a vain and presumptuous young man,
could not read the signs of the times, and thought that all England
would rise to overturn a Romanist king, if only a Protestant leader
presented himself to lead the people. Without securing any tangible
promises of support from the chiefs of the Whig party in England, he
resolved to attempt an invasion. He was to be aided by Archibald, Earl
of Argyle, the exiled chief of the Scottish Covenanters, who undertook
to stir up a rising among his clansmen in the Highlands.

[Sidenote: =Argyle taken and executed.=]

Argyle landed in Scotland in May, 1685; Monmouth came ashore at Lyme,
in Dorsetshire, in June. Each had brought a very small force with him,
and relied wholly on the support he hoped to find at home. Argyle
raised the Campbells, but found none else to join him; after a few days
his men dispersed, and he was taken and beheaded.

[Sidenote: =Battle of Sedgemoor.--Monmouth executed.=]

Monmouth was at first more fortunate. He was well known and popular in
Dorset and Somerset, and some thousands of countrymen came flocking to
his banner, though none of the gentry would adhere to such a reckless
adventurer. The duke appealed to all Protestants to aid him against
a Papist king, declared that his mother had been the lawful wife of
Charles II., and claimed the crown of England. But his proclamation
did him no good, and his army of ploughmen and miners was but a
half-armed rabble. Nevertheless, they fought bravely enough against
James's regulars at Sedgemoor (July 5, 1685), and only dispersed when
their leader fled in craven fear from the field. Monmouth was caught
in disguise, and taken to London. He grovelled at the feet of James,
and offered to submit to any indignity if his life might be spared. But
the pitiless king, after chiding him for half an hour, sent him to the

[Sidenote: =Kirke and Jeffreys.--"The Bloody Assize."=]

His fate provoked little sympathy, for he had clearly brought his
trouble on his own head. But the cruel punishment that was dealt out
to the poor ignorant peasants who had followed him shocked the whole
nation. Hundreds of rebels taken in arms were hung, or shot after a
summary court-martial by the brutal Colonel Kirke, a veteran who had
learnt ferocity by serving against the Moors in Africa. After the
summary executions were over, Judge Jeffreys, a clever but worthless
lawyer, whom the king made the chief instrument of his cruelties,
descended on the south-western counties. In the "Bloody Assize," as his
circuit was called, he put to death more than 300 persons, after the
barest mockery of a trial, and sent 1000 more to work as slaves on the
plantations of Jamaica and Barbados. Of all Jeffreys' judicial murders,
the worst was that of the aged Lady Lisle. For having sheltered a
fugitive from Sedgemoor, she was sentenced by this barbarian to be
burnt, and he thought it an act of clemency when he commuted the
penalty to beheading (September, 1685).

[Sidenote: =The king's Romanist schemes.=]

The ease with which he had crushed the rising of Monmouth and Argyle
emboldened James to take seriously in hand the great project of his
life, the restoration of Romanism. His plan was to fill all offices
in Church and State with open or secret Papists, and to overawe
discontent by the muskets of a large standing army. That such a plan
was dangerous, and even impossible, when nine-tenths of the nation was
devotedly attached to Protestantism, he does not seem to have realized.
He relied on his observations of the men about his own person, for many
of the demoralized courtiers of Charles II. were quite ready to become
Romanists if only it brought them preferment. They would probably have
become Jews or Moslems if it had been made worth their while. The
basest of these degraded opportunists was James's chief minister, Lord
Sunderland, the tool of all his worst acts of tyranny and folly. With
such a man as his chief adviser, and the infamous Jeffreys--now made
Lord Chancellor--as his chief executioner, the king was likely to go to
any lengths. Of his other councillors the chief were Richard Talbot,
Earl of Tyrconnel, a bigoted Irish Romanist of very depraved manners,
and Father Petre, a Jesuit priest.

[Sidenote: =The Test Act and the dispensing power.=]

James commenced his campaign against Protestantism in 1686. The chief
bar to the admission of Papists to office in the public service and
the army was the Test Act of 1673, which excluded all save English
Churchmen from any post in the state. Knowing that no Parliament would
repeal this act, James resolved to annul it on his own authority. One
of the oldest weapons of the Stuarts was the claim to a "dispensing
power," a right of the king to grant immunity on his own authority for
offences against the law of the land. This was the tool which he had
now resolved to employ against the Test Act. He appointed a Romanist
named Sir Edward Hales colonel of one of the new regiments which he
was busily employed in raising. Hales was prosecuted for illegally
accepting the commission, and pleaded in defence that the king had
dispensed him from taking the test. The case was brought before a bench
of judges carefully packed by the orders of James, and they gave the
wholly unconstitutional decision that the king's dispensation covered
Hales from all penalties. Armed with this opinion of the judges, James
began to give place and office to Romanists right and left; they were
made judges, officers, sheriffs, lord-lieutenants, mayors, all by
virtue of the king's dispensing power. None but Catholics could for the
future hope for any preferment.

[Sidenote: =Attack on the Church and Oxford University.=]

The king next proceeded to attack the Church of England; once more
pleading his dispensing power, he began to give Papists office in the
Church. Not only did he make over crown livings to them, but he filled
two vacant headships of Oxford colleges with notorious Romanists,
showing thereby his intention to put the control of education into
the hands of his own co-religionists. Somewhat later, he expelled the
whole body of Fellows and Scholars of Magdalen College, for refusing
to receive the President whom he had chosen for them [1687], herein
following the example of Charles, who had deprived the philosopher John
Locke of his studentship at Christ Church, for holding Whig opinions.
To deal with things religious, James revived the Court of High
Commission, one of the old despotic courts which the Long Parliament
had abolished forty years before; he placed Jeffreys at its head, and
used it for the oppression of all clergy who showed signs of opposing
him. Meanwhile a large army, including several Irish regiments, was
concentrated at Hounslow to overawe London.

The nation, though sorely tried by these exhibitions of James's
high-handed bigotry, required still further provocation before it rose
against him. The Tory party were so deeply committed to the doctrine
of divine right and passive obedience, that it required an even more
desperate attack on the Church of England to set them in arms against
the king. The Whigs were so crushed and depressed, that they had not
the heart to rebel. It may be added that the fact that the king was an
elderly man, while his heiress Mary, Princess of Orange, was a firm
Protestant, kept many men quiet. They held that the king must die ere
long, and that his wild schemes would die with him.

[Sidenote: =The Declaration of Indulgence.=]

James began to embark on his last fatal measures of arbitrary power
in the spring of 1688. Without calling or consulting a Parliament, he
determined to issue on his own authority a "Declaration of Indulgence,"
which was to suspend all laws that were directed against Romanists. To
partly cloak his plan, he added that the Declaration was also to free
the Protestant Dissenters from the penal code of 1664-5. Toleration in
itself is good, but toleration imposed by an autocratic and illegal
mandate is a suspicious boon. The Dissenters themselves repudiated
the gift, when given from such doubtful hands. To show his complete
mastery over the Church of England, James ordered that the Declaration
should be publicly read from the pulpit by every beneficed minister in
the land.

[Sidenote: =The trial of the seven bishops.=]

This command provoked even the loyal Tories to resistance. When the
appointed day came round, the clergy, almost without exception, refused
to read the Declaration. The archbishop, William Sancroft, and six
of his suffragans,[45] addressed a petition to the king begging that
they might be excused from having to issue such a document. James was
furious, and in his rage declared his intention of putting the bishops
on trial for publishing a seditious libel--a most absurd description of
their modestly worded plea. The seven prelates were arrested and sent
as prisoners to the Tower. A month later they were brought before the
Court of King's Bench. The whole nation was in agony as to their fate,
but the preposterous nature of the prosecution abashed even the king's
subservient judges. The charge was pressed in a half-hearted way, and
the jury returned a verdict of "Not guilty." James's vexation at this
acquittal was only surpassed by his outburst of wrath when he saw the
universal demonstration of joy with which the news was received. Even
his own soldiery in the camp at Hounslow lighted bonfires to celebrate
the event.

[Sidenote: =Birth of "the Old Pretender."=]

In the very month of the acquittal of the seven bishops, an event
happened which profoundly affected the king's prospects. His young
second wife, Mary of Modena, bore him a son, the prince afterwards
known as "the Old Pretender" (June 10, 1688). The birth of this child
gave the king a Romanist heir, and cut the Princess of Orange out of
the succession to the throne. This unexpected news filled England
with dismay; it was evident that the king's schemes were no longer
to be terminated with his own life; a dynasty of Romanists loomed
on the horizon. In their wrath many men asserted that the child was
supposititious, a changeling foisted on the nation by the king's
malice. This groundless tale received much credit, for anything was
believed possible in such a bigot as James.

[Sidenote: =Invitation to William of Orange.=]

The birth of the Prince of Wales was immediately followed by the
formation of a serious conspiracy to overthrow the king. The Tories
forgot their loyalty and joined the Whigs. The first sketch of the
plot was drawn up by the old Tory minister, Danby, in conjunction with
the Earl of Devonshire, the chief of the Whigs, and Henry Sydney and
Edward Russell, the kinsmen of the two Whig leaders of those names who
had been beheaded by Charles II. in 1683. Their plan was to call over
to England the Princess Mary and her husband the Prince of Orange,
and set them up against the king. William of Orange, the champion of
Protestantism on the continent, and the deadly foe of James's ally,
the King of France, was known to be ready to strike any blow that
would bring England over to his side. He had long been in secret
communication with many leading men among the Whigs, and welcomed the
appearance of a definite invitation with joy. On receiving satisfactory
assurances of support, he consented to raise every man that he could
put into the field, and to cross to England.

James at first received the news of suspicious warlike preparations
in Holland with indifference. He relied on the fact that William was
at war with France, and reasoned that while the Low Countries were
threatened by French troops, his son-in-law would never dare to leave
his own country unprotected and invade England. But the French king was
more set on an invasion of Germany than on the conquest of Holland,
and when Lewis sent his armies across the Upper Rhine, William was
left unwatched, and was able to make his preparations at leisure. Many
Englishmen of mark, Tories as well as Whigs, slipped over to join him,
and bade him strike as quickly as possible. Though the storms of autumn
were already raging, the Prince set sail from Helvoetsluys on the 2nd
of November, and steered down the Channel, with fifty men-of-war, and
transports carrying some 13,000 men.

James had a much larger force garrisoning the south of England.
Combining his regular army with a number of newly raised regiments
of Irish Romanists, he had quite 40,000 men under arms. But he soon
discovered that the temper of the greater part of them was very bad;
except the numerous Catholic officers to whom he had given commissions,
there was hardly a man who could be trusted.

[Sidenote: =James reverses his policy.=]

When the news of William's final preparations reached England,
James was suddenly struck by a panic as irrational as his previous
over-confidence. He fell from blind arrogance into extreme depression,
when he at last realized the universal discontent which his acts had
created. With a craven and useless haste he suddenly began to endeavour
to undo his policy of the last three years. He abolished the Court of
High Commission, cancelled the appointments of many Romanist officials,
recalled the Fellows whom he had banished from Oxford, and made the
most profuse promises to respect all the rights and privileges of the
Church of England for the future. But such conduct could not restore
confidence; he could not make men forget the cruelties of the Bloody
Assize, or the indignities which he had heaped on the seven bishops.
Such a repentance at the eleventh hour deceived nobody.

[Sidenote: =Landing of William of Orange.--James deserted.=]

On the 5th of November, 1688, William of Orange landed at Torbay,
and three days later he seized Exeter. James, who had looked for an
invasion on the Eastern coast, at once began to march his numerous
army towards Devonshire. There was a moment's pause ere the opponents
met. For some days no one of note joined the Prince of Orange, and it
seemed doubtful if those who had pledged themselves to his cause were
about to keep their promise. But the hesitation was not for long. Ere
a shot had been fired in the west, insurrections began to break out in
all the parts of England where the king had no armed force in garrison.
Lord Danby seized York and the Earl of Devonshire Nottingham. But this
was not the worst; as James advanced westward, first single officers,
then whole companies and regiments, began to slink away from his host
and join the enemy. Even those whom he most trusted left him; his
own son-in-law, Prince George of Denmark, the husband of his younger
daughter Anne, was one of those who absconded. Another was one of his
most trusted officers, John Churchill, afterwards the famous Duke of
Marlborough. With abominable treachery, Churchill tried to kidnap his
master before deserting, and almost succeeded in the attempt.

[Sidenote: =James flies to France.=]

Seeing his whole army melting away, James hastily returned to London,
strove in vain to gain time by negotiating with the Prince of Orange,
and then sent off his wife and son to France, and endeavoured to follow
them himself. He was stopped by a mob at Faversham, in Kent, and forced
back to the capital. But no one wished to keep him a prisoner, and,
with the secret connivance of William of Orange, he was allowed to
escape a second time, and to get clear away to France (December 18,

Thus ended in ignominious flight the preposterous attempt of a blind
and arrogant king to coerce England into surrendering its constitution
and its religion. The edifice which James had so laboriously reared,
crumbled to pieces at the first touch of force from without.


[45] Their names were Ken of Bath and Wells, White of Peterborough,
Lloyd of St. Asaph, Trelawney of Bristol, Lake of Chichester, and
Turner of Ely.




James II. had believed that by absconding to France he would plunge
England into anarchy, and leave no constituted power behind him. With a
childish worship of forms, he flung the Great Seal into the Thames as
he fled, that no state document might be issued in due shape. His slow
and pedantic mind conceived that the nation would be nonplussed by the
loss of king and seal at once!

[Sidenote: =The Convention.=]

But Englishmen can always show a wise disregard for formulae when it
is necessary. Though there was no king to summon a Parliament, yet
a "Convention" at once met on the invitation of William of Orange.
It consisted of the peers, and a lower House formed of all surviving
members of the Commons who had sat under Charles II., together with the
Aldermen and Common Councillors of London.

[Sidenote: =William and Mary to be joint sovereigns.=]

This body, though not a regularly constituted meeting of the two
Houses, proceeded to deal at once with the question of the succession.
There were three alternatives open--to make the Princess Mary queen
in her father's room, or to crown both her and her husband William,
or to declare them merely regents in the absence of the exiled king.
The last alternative commended itself to many of the Tories, who still
held strong theories about the divine right of kings, and were loath to
surrender them by consenting to a deposition. But when the proposal was
broached to William of Orange, he answered that he would never consent
to be the mere _locum tenens_ of his father-in-law. He would leave
England if nothing more than the power of regent were granted him. It
was then proposed that the Princess Mary should be queen regnant; but
this too the prince refused--he would not become his wife's servant and
minister. When the Tories showed signs of insisting on this project,
William began to make preparations for returning to Holland. This
brought the Convention to reason; they knew that they could not get
on for a moment without the prince's guiding hand. Accordingly they
were constrained to take the third course, and to offer the crown to
William and Mary, as joint sovereigns with equal rights. No one spoke
a word for Mary's infant brother, the Prince of Wales: not only was he
over-seas in France, but most men believed him to be no true son of
James II.

[Sidenote: =The Declaration of Rights.=]

Before the throne was formally offered to William and Mary, the
Convention proceeded to draw up the famous Declaration of Rights. This
document contained a list of the main principles of the constitution
which had been violated by James II., with a statement that they were
ancient and undoubted rights of the English people. It stigmatised
the powers claimed by the late king to dispense with or suspend laws
as illegal usurpations. It stated that every subject had a right to
petition the king, and should not be molested for so doing--an allusion
to the case of the seven bishops. It stipulated for the frequent
summoning of Parliaments, and for free speech and debate within the
two Houses. The raising and maintenance of a standing army without the
permission of Parliament was declared illegal. In a clause recalling
the most famous paragraph of Magna Carta, it was stated that all
levying of taxes or loans without the consent of the representatives of
the nation was illegal. The Declaration then proceeded to provide for
the succession: William and Mary, or the survivor of them, were first
to rule; then any children who might be born to them. If Mary died
childless, the Princess Anne and her issue were to inherit her sister's
rights. Finally, any member of the royal house professing Romanism, or
even marrying a Romanist, was to forfeit all claim to the crown. The
Declaration was afterwards confirmed and made permanent as the "Bill of

William and Mary swore to observe the Declaration, and were proclaimed
on February 13, 1689, after an interregnum which had lasted two months
since the flight of James II. to France.

[Sidenote: =Character of William.=]

The new king and queen were not a well-matched pair, though, owing
to Mary's amiable and tactful temper, they agreed better than might
have been expected. The queen was lively, kind-hearted, and genial,
well loved by all who knew her. William was a morose and unsociable
invalid, who only recovered his spirits when he left the court for
the camp. In spite of his wretched health, he was a keen soldier, and
had the reputation of being one of the best, if also one of the most
unlucky, generals of his time. His talent chiefly showed itself in
repairing the consequences of his defeats, which he did so cleverly
that his conquerors seldom drew any advantage from their success. In
private life William was cold, suspicious, and reticent. He reserved
his confidence for his Dutch friends, openly saying that the English,
who had betrayed their natural king, could not be expected to be true
to a foreigner. He knew that he was a political necessity for them, and
nothing more. Hence he neither loved them nor expected them to love him.

[Sidenote: =William and Lewis XIV.=]

William had expelled his father-in-law, not from a disinterested wish
to put down his tyranny, nor merely from zeal against Romanism, but
because he wished to see England drawn into the great European alliance
against France, which it was his life's work to build up. He had spent
all the days of his youth in opposing the ambition of the bigoted Lewis
XIV., and all his thoughts were directed towards the construction of
a league of states strong enough to keep the French from the Rhine.
For Lewis was set on annexing the Spanish Netherlands, the Palatinate,
and the duchy of Lorraine, so as to bring his frontier up to the great
river. He had already made several steps towards securing his end, by
seizing Alsace, the Franche Comté, and part of Flanders. If William had
not hindered him, he would probably have accomplished his whole desire.
But the Prince of Orange had induced the old enemies Spain and Holland
to combine, and had enlisted the Emperor Leopold of Austria in his
league. With the aid of England he thought that Lewis could be crushed
beyond a doubt.

[Sidenote: =War with France declared.=]

On the 13th of May, 1689, William had his wish, for England declared
war on Lewis. It was already made inevitable by the conduct of the
French monarch, who had not only received the fugitive James, but had
lent him men and money to aid him in recovering his lost realms.

But William was not to be able to divert the strength of England into
the continental war quite so soon as he had expected. He was forced to
fight for his new crown for nearly two years, before he was able to
turn off again to lead the armies of the coalition against Lewis.

[Sidenote: =English opposition.--The Non-jurors.=]

The proclamation of William and Mary proved the beginning of new
troubles both in England, Scotland, and Ireland. In England things
were not serious: a certain portion of the Tory party declined to
accept William as king, though they had been ready to take him
as regent. For refusing to take the oath of allegiance to him,
Archbishop Sancroft--the hero of the trial of the seven bishops--four
other prelates, and four hundred clergy had been removed from their
preferments. Some Tory laymen of scrupulous conscience gave up their
offices. But these "Non-jurors," as they were called, made no open
resistance, though many of them began to correspond secretly with the
exiled king.

[Sidenote: =Scotland.--Career of Claverhouse.=]

In Scotland, the crisis was far more serious. Both Charles II. and
James II. had governed that realm with an iron hand. They had placed
the rule of the land in the hands of the Scottish Episcopalians, who
formed a very small minority of the nation. The Covenanters had been
sternly repressed, and their ineffective rising, ending in the fight of
Bothwell Brig, had been put down with the most rigorous harshness.[46]
When James was overturned, the persecuted Presbyterians rose in high
wrath, and swept all his friends out of office. They followed the
example of the English in offering the crown to William and Mary,
and began to revenge their late oppression by very harsh treatment
of their former rulers, the Scottish Episcopalians. But James II.
had a following in Scotland; though not a very large one, it had an
exceedingly able man at its head--John Graham of Claverhouse, Viscount
Dundee, who had commanded the royal forces in the realm for the last
ten years. Dundee succeeded in rousing a number of the Highland chiefs
to take arms for James II., not so much because they loved the king as
because they hated the great clan of the Campbells, now, as always, the
mainstay of the Covenanting interest north of Clyde and Forth. The new
government collected an army under General Mackay, and sent it against
Dundee. But the Jacobite leader retired before it till Mackay's men had
pushed up the long and narrow pass of Killiecrankie. When the Lowland
troops were just emerging from the northern end of the pass, Dundee
fell on from an ambush. The wild rush of his Highlanders swept away the
leading battalions,[47] and Mackay's entire force fled in disgraceful
rout back to Dunkeld. The Jacobite general, however, fell in the
moment of victory, and when his strong and able hand was removed, the
rebel clans dropped asunder, and ceased to endanger the stability of
William's throne (June 17, 1689). The insurrection, however, continued
to linger on in the remoter recesses of the Highlands for two years

[Sidenote: =Ireland.--Tyrconnel and the Catholic army.=]

In Ireland the struggle was far longer and more bitter than in
Scotland. In that country the old quarrel between the natives and the
English settlers broke out under the new form of loyalty to James or
William. In the time of Charles II., the old Irish or Anglo-Irish
proprietors had been restored to about one-third of the lands from
which they had been evicted by the Cromwellian settlement of 1652.
They hoped, now that they had a king of their own faith, to recover
the remaining two-thirds from the English planters. From the moment
of his accession, James had done his best for the Irish Romanists. He
had decreed the revocation of Cromwell's settlement, he had filled all
places of trust and emolument with natives, and had raised an Irish
army in which no Protestant was admitted to serve either as soldier or
officer. His Lord-Deputy was Talbot, Earl of Tyrconnel, a violent and
unscrupulous man, who was prepared to go even further than his master
in the direction of suppressing Protestantism.

When the news of the landing of William of Orange at Torbay reached
Ireland, the Lord-Deputy kept faith with James, and began arming the
whole nation in his cause, till he is said to have had nearly 100,000
undisciplined levies under his orders. At the same time he summoned
all Protestants in Ireland to give up their arms. The English settlers
saw that the predominance of Tyrconnel and his hordes meant danger to
themselves, and promptly fled by sea, or took refuge in the few towns
where the Protestants had a majority, leaving their houses and property
to be plundered by the Lord-Deputy's "rapparees." In Ulster, where they
mustered most strongly, they shut themselves up in the towns of Derry
and Enniskillen, proclaimed William and Mary as king and queen, and
sent to implore instant aid from England.

[Sidenote: =James II. in Dublin.=]

In March, 1689, James II. landed in Ireland, convoyed by a Fre