H. D. (Henry Duff) Traill.

Social England; a record of the progress of the people in religion, laws, learning, arts, industry, commerce, science, literature and manners, from the earliest times to the present day (Volume 3) online

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Thus before 1547 Henry VIII. had completed an English
Bible and begun an English Prayer-Book ; in 1531 Wynkyn de
Worde printed the first collection of English carols, and soon
after this Miles Coverdale compiled the first English hymn-
book. The use of the vulgar tongue was one of the very few
matters that seemed to have really united the sympathies of
conservatives and Protestants in Henry's Council. Apparently
both parties would have also agreed on some revision of
ritual and popular religious custom, but they could not agree
where to stop.

Among the superstitions questioned or rejected thus early Relic
were pilgrimages and their objects the relics so vehemently
attacked by Colet, Erasmus, and More the older forms of
veneration of images, and of invocation of saints, pardons, in-
dulgences, and the purgatorial abuses. The shrine of St. Thomas
the Martyr at Canterbury, as the monument of a priest who
successfully defied a king and a Henry, and which for its wealth
and fame had become the great English religious spectacle, 1 was
plundered and razed, and the saint's name scratched out of the
service-books. The king gained twenty-six cartloads of treasure, "
and the long-deferred present of Pope Paul III.'s excom-
munication, drawn up in 1535, and suspended out of deference
to the French king, as Henry himself had suspended his anti-
Papal statutes, till all hope of reunion was passed.

By the time of Cranmer's catechism in 1548, pilgrimages cere-
had become a memory, with the more extreme abuses of
images and purgatory ; but nearly the whole of the liturgical
ceremonies were kept up to the end of the reign. In the year
of Latimer's disgrace, the king bids all his subjects " observe
the holy bread and water, creeping to the cross, setting up of
lights before the Corpus Christi, bearing of candles, offering of
crysomes, and the rest." The attempt of Cranmer's German

1 Cf. Chaucer, Prologue :

" But chiefely, from every Shire's ende
Of Engelond, to Canterbury they wende
The holy blissful martyr there to seeke."





friends in 1538 to interfere with these and their related
doctrines as superstitions, and the insults of the Protestant
"ribalds," provoked the Act of Six Articles, deferred the
English service-book, and made Henry maintain every jot of
the old ritual to his death. In 153S "at Hadley, in Suffolk,
and Stratford, in Essex," the mass and Te Deum had been
regularly said in English, and on August 23rd of the same
year, the "rood of the north door in Paul's" was taken
down by the king's commandment ; yet the English Order of
Communion did not appear till 1548. It was a premature
beginning. The parish registers, ordered by Cromwell in
September, 1538, had greater permanence, but this and the
transfer of about one-third of the tithe to laymen, with the
new diocesan and suffragan bishoprics, together with the lit-
urgical reforms already noticed, almost complete the list of
alterations in the usage of the ordinary Church system under
Henry VIII. The monasteries were an overgrowth, and were
cut off as such. The normal parish, deanery, archdeaconry,
and diocese, it was the avowed aim of the king's policy to
strengthen; the normal doctrine and ritual, apart from the
questions of power and income, it became his settled purpose
to support. The English Church, he insisted, had rejected
foreign tyranny and innovations and looked back to the first
Christians for its model, but without an)' dissent from other
national Churches, or any shadow of turning from the ancient
Catholic faith. For it was an Old Catholic or Anglo-Catholic
ideal which satisfied the first Reformers, though it was im-
patiently discarded by the Protestants, whose slow but steady
progress is proved by their irresistible strength at the beginning
of the new reign and the new Court favour.





of Classes


DURING Henry VIII.'s reign the tendencies which were visible
in his father's lifetime became still more strongly marked and
more fully developed. The centre of gravity in the great ship
of State permanently shifted. Henry VIII. won and established
a dictatorship; he permanently changed the balance between
the Church and State and between the Crown and the Estates
of the Realm in accordance with the lines laid down by
Henry VII.



The clergy, already dependent on the Crown, were forced
by circumstances to act in harmony with the will of the king,
and offered little or no resistance to the increase of the royal
power. But their subservience did not save them from spolia-
tion and loss of political influence. By his destruction of
the monastic system Henry threw out of Parliament nearly
two-thirds of the spiritual baronage, thus revolutionising the
balance of forces in the House of Lords. The Church had
been, at the time of the accession of the Tudors, the only
power which might have resisted the Crown. But, owing to
their loss of popularity, the clergy had been compelled to ally
themselves with royalty, and when the breach with Rome came,
they found that all possibility of taking up an independent
attitude was gone. At the same time, they had in no small
measure contributed to the growth of the monarchical idea.
For royalty had, in great measure through the action of the
clergy themselves, become invested with a spiritual influence
in the minds of the people, and this remained after the king
had dismissed his spiritual advisers and changed his religious
principles. The royal supremacy was established, and with
the adoption by Henry VIII. of an ecclesiastical headship a
gradual change can be observed coming over the composition of
the ecclesiastical body itself. After the breach Avith Rome the
clergy and bishops are often married men, taken generally
from the middle classes, with whom they sympathise and by
whom they are influenced. Thus a complete revolution was
effected in the condition and status of the clergy. The
ecclesiastical powers hitherto in the hands of the Pope were
transferred to the Crown, the episcopal office became for a
time subordinate to the king, and the Church, from being
an independent rival, sank into a position of subservience
from which she was unable to raise herself for many years
to come. At the beginning of Henry's reign the number of
spiritual peers was forty-nine ; after the dissolution of the
monasteries it fell to twenty-six.

But the growth of the royal supremacy was aided more Theoid
by the altered position of the nobles than by any other single NobUlt ^
circumstance. Henry VIII. found no strong baronage to thwart
him. The policy of proscription had destroyed all that was
dangerous in the old nobility. During the Middle Ages the



barons had borne the brunt of the conflict for English liberty,
and their impotence after the Wars of the Roses cleared the
\vav for the assertion of the monarchical principle. The nation,
in its anxiety for order and good government, was content to
leave the upper classes at the mercy of the king; and, taking-
advantage of this prevailing sentiment, Henry VII. had pursued
a policy of levelling class privileges. His Government, carried
on for the most part by capable officials whom he could trust,
did not necessarily exclude the old nobles from office, but they
were placed on the same level as the other officials, and when
Henry VIII. ascended the throne, the power of the old nobles
had practically passed away.

The New Henry VII. 's unbending rule had shown the remnant of the

lty ' old feudal nobility the folly of entering upon rebellion, and
his policy of founding a new race of nobles was adopted and
developed with characteristic energy by his son. And the
history of this policy of replacing the old by a new race of
nobles affords valuable illustrations of the changes taking
place in social life. Throughout his reign Henry VIII. had
numerous opportunities, which he readily seized, of creating
a new nobility, absolutely dependent on himself. The powers
of the Crown were enormous ; its patronage and revenues were
immense. The king had at his own immediate disposal " the
stewardships of forests, manors, chaces, castles, fisheries, and
mines ; the collectorships of customs in various ports ; appoint-
ments of ambassadors, commissions in the army and navy." By
confiscations and by the attainders of the de la Poles, the
Salisburys, the Empsons, and the Dudleys, the Crown lands,
already increased by the rebellions in Henry VII. 's reign, were
vastly augmented, and numerous lucrative posts connected
with the royal estates could be bestowed on the king's
favourites. Moreover, with the fall of the monasteries an
enormous amount of land lay at the disposal of the Crown,
and the greater part of it was handed over to Henry's
courtiers, who formed a new Court nobility, owing its rise
entirely to the king's favour, and disinclined, as long as Henry
lived, to show any political energy.

The exclusive road to promotion in the earlier portion of
the reign may be said to have lain in personal service to
the king. It has been accurately stated that " the Howards.




the Brandons, the Jerninghams, the Sidneys, the Plan-
tagenets, the Sherbornes, the Fitzwilliams, the Marneys were
or had all been Squires or Knights of the Body or Gentle-
men of the Chamber." Similarly, all the important offices


(By permission, from the painting in the possession of His Grace the Dale of

in the departments of the State and in the army and navy
were filled by men who had been in personal attendance
on the king, who were the servants of the Crown, and as
keenly interested in the extension of the royal prerogative as



was the kirn;- himself. An aristocracy was thus in part created
of a different, kind from the old feudal aristocracy and animated
with different sentiments. The latter was taken from the
upper ranks of society ; it owed its position, in great measure,
to vast territorial possessions, it kept a jealous watch over the
powers nf the Crown, it acted as a check upon the undue
extension of its prerogatives. The former was taken from a
lower class : it owed its elevation to personal services rendered
to the king, to whom it was completely subservient. It was
thus wholly unlike the old haughty nobility, " with its feudal
grandeur and its sumptuous living." A personal nobility,
"indebted for their rank, their emoluments, their importance,
and their employment to their personal services about the
king enriched by wardships, by marriages, by forfeitures, by
stewardships in the royal demesnes, continually augmented

/ J o

by impeachments of the older houses, owed everything to
the king."
Rise As time went on, the ranks of the nobility were opened to

of the . i ,.

Middle merchants, lawyers, borough magistrates, and manufacturers


men who, risen from small fortunes, had been enriched by the
confiscation of the monastic property. And thus it came
about that from the ranks of the courtiers and from the
middle classes arose a nobility which owed its position to
wealth or to the favour of the king a nobility which was
for many years utterly powerless to check the absolutism of
the Crown.

The rise and influence of the middle classes in the place of
the gentry of race was in itself a circumstance which con-
tributed to the change in the balance of the Constitution. It
Avas no longer race, but wealth, that made the gentleman.
Trade owed much to the Tudor kings. Henry VII. had en-
couraged the commercial classes; Henry Till, continued this
policy. The old gentry, already impoverished by the civil wars,
were, to a great extent, ruined by the extravagance of the
Court of Henry YITT. They fell into debt, pawned their
estates, and were succeeded by their tenants, or by the
opulent merchant class, which derived much of its new
importance from the discovery of the New World, from the
rapid extension of commerce, and from the increasing taste
for luxury.

(Never, Kent, 1538.)


THE OLD ORDER < ' H .\.\d I-:i>.

The New
Men and
the Land.



The old nobles and gentry being weak, and no longer
possessed of riches or of jmlitical influence, the middle
classes, with their ever-increasing wealth and importance,
naturally could not remain stationary. Their impelling spirit
may be described as a restless propensity towards material
progress which was determined at all costs to prevail. These
new men "scented out needy heirs," they "purchased wards
of noble birth " and married them to their sons and daughters.
They looked upon farming as a commercial speculation ; their
one object was to Avring from the land the highest possible
return. Henceforward men took rank and exercised authority
according to the amount of their incomes, while in con-
sequence of this new state of things the land changed hands
rapidly, and rich merchants possessed themselves of estates.
The ruin and spoliation of the feudal families and of the monas-
tic orders, in a similar, though in a less degree, benefited also
the yeomen. The improved methods of cultivation and en-
closures enabled the farmers to work their land in a profitable
manner, and the vigorous parochial system of the Tudors bears
evidence of the active part taken by the yeomen in public
business. The prosperity and number of the small landowners
is a marked feature ot rural England in Tudor times: and in
Henry VIII. 's reign the importance of the yeoman class was
clearly recognised. With the yeomen farmers and labourers the
pushing and covetous race ot new landlords were by no means
so popular as the old proprietors had been. Still, the growth of
the new squirearchy in the sixteenth century did not affect
the political equilibrium by doing away with the " yeomanry
or middle people, of a condition between gentlemen and
cottagers or peasantry." Both subsisted and flourished side
by side.

All these changes told in favour of the establishment of
a strong monarchical power. The country required a firm hand
to guide her through a religious as well as an agrarian revolu-
tion. Parliament was ready to carry out the king's wishes, even
at the risk of being accused of subservience. Engrossed in the
pursuit of wealth, and as yet unaccustomed to enforce con-
stitutional restraints upon a sovereign, the Commons, now
brought face to face with the power of the Crown, made no
attempt to step into the position vacated by the old feudal



nobility. They were satisfied with Henry's deference to their
advice whenever it agreed with his own wishes, and their
subservience contributed to complete the change in the
balance of the Constitution. The Crown was, in effect,
absolute. The spirit of feudalism had given way to the
mercantile spirit. The various parts of society Averc linked
together by a new principle ; the whole social life of the
nation was affected. The breach with Rome coincided in
point of time with the social and economic changes, and by
aiding in the successful assertion of the absolutist principle
rendered the position of the Crown enormously strong, and
enabled it to dominate all the remaining political forces in the
State. There was no proud baronage to thwart the king : the
clergy were defenceless against his hostility, and the higher
ranks were regarded with a jealous eye by the middle classes;
while the Commons, thrown out of working order by the
absence of political energy in the House of Lords, busied with
trade, and dreading a return of discord, were favoured and
conciliated. The labourers hoped to gain more from the
sovereign than from their extortionate landlords. Every
class looked to the king, and the royal power was accordingly

As a result of all these changes, English society in Henry society
YlII.'s reign begins to assume a modern form. The English
aristocracy has entirely changed. The development of wealth
as a class-test was superseding the old distinctions of birth,
and the highest elements of society became ready to receive
into their midst and to assimilate the lower elements. The
" anarchical autonomy of feudalism " was a thing of the past,
its place was being taken by the unity of the State and the
authority of law, and a revolution was being carried out
affecting every class in the country.

The variations in the balance of forces in the State during
the last hundred years had been excessive. At one time the
pendulum had swung to the side of the nobles, now it swung
to that of the king. Gradually the new nobles would assert
their independence, and the Commons would make good their
position. In this way a natural counterpoise would be again
set up against the overweening power of the Crown, and the
political balance would be more fairly adjusted.



c.w. c. [x the general history of the art of war, the period which
The Art commences with the great French invasion of Italy under
of war. Charles VIII. and ends with the peace of Cateau ( ambresis
1 14!).'}-155!)), is of the highest importance, comprising within
it the entire transition from medieval to modern forms of
warfare. But in England these years are of far less note, the
corresponding change on this side of the Channel having come
a full generation later. On the Continent the period ends with
the complete supremacy in war of disciplined standing armies,
in the discredit of the old belief in heavy armour, and in the
triumph of tire-arms, the musket being always combined with
the pike as the weapon of infantry. In England, as we shall
see, no approach to a standing army had been made indeed,
such a thing never existed till the "New Model" Army of
1645 came into being. Moreover, the national arms were still
the lance for the horseman and the bow and bill for the foot-
man. All through the days of Henry VIII. we still hear of
the old division into " spears " and " bows," which had been the
rule in the wars of Henry V. in France, and the strife of the
Two Roses.

The first half of the sixteenth century was neither a very
notable nor a very glorious epoch in English military history.
The two fights of Flodden and Pinkie and the "Battle of the
Spurs " are the only general engagements which it can show.
Henry VIII., it is true, made three serious invasions of France,
but his efforts were singularly unfruitful. The captures of
Tournay and Boulogne (pp. 2, 6) were not very striking or interest-
ing feats of arms, and the general impression made by these
campaigns on the reader is creditable neither to the leaders
nor the led. No disasters, it is true, were suffered ; but, on
the other hand, the invaders, who started with the idea of
emulating the deeds of Crecy and Agincourt, came home with
no laurels to show. They barely penetrated the outermost
defences of France, instead of being able to strike deep into
the land and sweep all before them as their ancestors had
done. Vet the armies of Henry VIII. were not smaller and
were far better equipped than those of the fourteenth and
fifteenth centuries. Nor can we explain their failures merely
by the increased strength of the French monarch}- and its




adoption of the use of a standing army. It seems as if some-
thing were lacking in the English armies of the day, and a
short examination soon shows what it was.

The strength of the old armies of Edward III. or Henry V.
lay in the close union between the leaders and the led. Though
these forces had been raised, not on feudal principles, but on the
system of " indentures " between the king and his knights and
nobles (Vol. II., pp. 448. 453), yet the rank and file had always
been the personal followers and retainers of the chiefs. The
men whom a Salisbury or a Warwick brought to the royal host
were their own tenants or household men, bound to their masters

of the Old


(By permission of the Kent Archaeological Society.)

by every tie of local loyalty and personal attachment. As long
as the old medieval baronage existed, it could always count on
the obedience and devotion of its tenantry. The men who wore
their master's badge on sleeve and helm, who looked to him for
maintenance in peace, and followed him as their born leader in
war, were a very trustworthy force. They were not prone to
mutiny or desertion, because disobedience to their lord in
the field meant social ruin at home. All the treachery of
the Wars of the Roses was on the part of the baronage against
their kings, not on the part of the retainers against their lords.

But Edward IV. and Henry VII. had put an end to the old weak-
order of things. Half the land of England had been confiscated tlie Ne ' w>
in the numberless attainders which followed Towton and
Hexham, Barnet, and Tewkesbury. Many of the old baronies


[1509 1547

had disappeared: others survived nominally, but had passed
into new lines. There had been a terrible breach in the
continuity of the old feudal relations between lord and vassal.
Of the old peerages of the highest rank and power we may
fairly say that those of Northumberland and Buckingham were
the only ones which survived into the time of Henry YIIL,
for the earldoms of Arundcl, Westmoreland, and Oxford, the
three other ancient titles which still existed, had never been
very rich or strong, and the Howards of Norfolk were not as
great as their predecessors the Mowbrays. Moreover, Henry VIZ,
by his stern repression of the practice of " livery and main-
tenance " (Vol. II., p. 667), had done his best to break the old
military tie between the baronage and their tenantry,
want of Hence it came that the new Court nobility, who were de-

scended from the men whom Henry VII. and Edward IV. had
raised to the peerage, had no such personal influence over their
followers as had been possessed by the old baronage. When war
was declared and a campaign over eea undertaken, armies were
raised as of old by the "indenture" system, but the system
no longer produced the steady and devoted bands which had
followed the great lords of old. The crying sin of the armies of
Henry VIII. was their abominable insubordination and dis-
obedience to their chiefs. Except where the stern king was
himself present to impose discipline by the power of the
sword, the English hosts of the early sixteenth century tended
to become unruly mobs at the first failure or the approach of
discomfort. In 1512 Dorset's unfortunate expedition to Spain
was entirely wrecked by mutin}'' ; the soldiers grumbled at the
bad food, at the inactivity of their Spanish allies, at the lack
of beer " because they had lever for to drink beer than
wines and eider, for hot wines doth harm them and cider
doth cast them into sickness." A strike of the strangest kind
broke out : the men refused to march out of St. Sebastian
unless their pay w r as increased from Gd. to Sd. a day. Shortly
after, the astonishing spectacle was seen of a whole army
deserting en masse. The soldiers seized shipping, baked a
week's biscuit, threatened with death the officers who en-
deavoured to stay their departure, and sailed off for England.
The king spoke of trying the Marquis of Dorset for treason,
because he had not been able to keep his men to their duty,

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but let the matter blow over, because he could not punish
the whole army.

Eleven years later much the same thing was seen when the
Duke of Suffolk took across the Channel an expedition which
\Yolsey called " the greatest army that hath been despatched
from these shores for an hundred years," a calculation in which
he was wrong, as Henry V., in 1422, and Edward IV. in 1475,
had both put a greater force than 13,000 men in the h'eld. In
November the weather grew cold, and the men, for want of
winter clothing and good harbourage, began to suffer severely.
At last the Welshmen in the camp set up a shout and cried

Online LibraryH. D. (Henry Duff) TraillSocial England; a record of the progress of the people in religion, laws, learning, arts, industry, commerce, science, literature and manners, from the earliest times to the present day (Volume 3) → online text (page 13 of 68)