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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1540, before the king and queen with their Court, and twice
subsequently at Cupar and Greenside.




LINDSAY AS LYON
KING-AT-ARMS.

(Jascuy's eil., 1'urL-, 1558.)



UNDER the Tudor Dynasty, the Art of Music made more rapid, w. i s

. , ROCKSTRO.

as well as more satisfactory, progress than at any previous Music
period in the history of the English Schools. At no time, ^^ r the

1 First published in shorter form with the title "Ane Dialog betuix Ex-
perience and ane Courteour."



148 Till-: OUt ORDER CHANGED.

I1509 1547

before or since, have our English composers so successfully
held their own, in face of the brilliant triumphs achieved in
Italy, in Germany, or in the Low Countries. And reasons for
this marked advance are not far to seek. Not only had the
love of music been long sown broadcast among the people :
not only was the art of singing cultivated, with equal zeal and
discernment, in every grade of social rank ; but the monaivlis
themselves were among its most ardent admirers, and deservedly
took rank among the best musicians of the day. Under the




HENRY VIII. AS A MUSICIAN (MS. Roy. 2 A. xvi.).

personal supervision of King Henry VIII., the music in the
Chapel Royal was openly acknowledged, by Ambassadors from
other countries, to be the best in Europe. Queen Elizabeth
was a noted performer upon the virginals. Her victim, Queen
Mary Stuart, was at least her equal in proficiency. What
wonder, then, that examples so illustrious led to triumphant
success in other quarters ?

The Fifth Eiujlixh School is, happily, much more fully
represented than the third and fourth. When the Wars
of the Roses were over, and the union of the Houses of
York and Lancaster once more left the kingdom at peace,
the progress of Art. which had been fatally interrupted







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!">< 77/7? OLD ORDER CHANGED.

[1509

by the disturbed state of the country, was resumed with
success so complete that the works produced in England
during the earlier half of the sixteenth century will un-
deniably bear comparison with the best contemporaneous
compositions produced either in Italv or the Netherlands.
The leader of the Fifth School was John Red ford, organist of
Old St. Paul's. His most distinguished colleagues were
Richard Edmondes, John Shepherde, John Taverner, George,
Etheridge, Robert Johnson, Robert Parsons, John Thome, John
Merbecke, Mark Smcaton, Thomas Abel, and, by no means
the least accomplished of the number, King Henry \lll.
Not a feAv of these composers were noted for reasons quite
unconnected with their art, John Merbecke, the author of
" The Booke of Common Praier Noted," was a zealous reformer,
and suffered severely for his opinions. Mark Smeaton and
Thomas Abel were executed for treason ; the former in 1536,
and the latter in 1540. All were men of undoubted talent.
Bedford's anthem, " Rejoice in the Lord alway," is one of the
finest compositions of its kind in existence. Edmondes'
charming madrigal, " In going to my naked bedde," may be
fearlessly compared with the most beautiful secular composition,
of the period, whether produced in the Roman or the Flemish
School. King Henry VIII. wrote with the skill of a thoroughly
accomplished musician. His anthem, " Lorde, the Maker of
all thyng," is of the highest order of merit ; and other com-
positions by him, preserved in the library of the British
Museum and other public collections, rank among the best
productions of the time (p. 204). Fortunately, the works of
most of these composers escaped the consequences of the first
spoliation of the cathedral and monastic libraries; but a vast
number were destroyed by the Puritans during the progress of
the Great Rebellion ; and the beauty of those that remain
: only makes the loss of the rest- seem the more deplorable.



w. J. AGRICULTURALLY the reign of Henry VIII. is marked, like

CORBETT that of his predecessors, bv a further extension of enclosures
Agricul- ' . . - , .

ture. for the purpose of sheep-farming. During its course this move-

ment, in fact, reached its climax. For everyone was now con-
vinced from experience that the foot of the sheep would turn



AGRICULTURE.



151



1547',

sand into gold ; and so not only the lords of the manors and
their " fermours," but also the free tenants, and it would appear
the copyholders, if they had land enough, were all equally
anxious to make as much as possible out of their estates by
rooting up tillage and taking to grazing, regarding, as the mal-
contents said, " their own singular lucre and profit more than
the common weal of the realm." In a fashion, as we can see
from the Statute-book, Henry VIII. and his ministers set




TENANT PAYING RENT.

(Fitsherbert, " Bolx of Surveying," 1523.)

themselves all through the reign to oppose the current tendency,
and they were supported by all the preachers and thinkers of
the day. But, whatever the efforts made, they were all finally
counterbalanced by the king's action in 1536 in suppressing the
monasteries and regranting their estates to a new class of owners
drawn from the ranks of the merchants. For they, wishing
either " to live like lords in the towns " or " to keep riot in their
manors for a fortnight or a month," at most, were yet greedier



I.VJ THE OLD ORDER C1IAXHKD.

[1509

Enclosure, for lucre than thoir predecessors, and less hani])ered in the
pursuit of it by any sentimental feeling towards their tenants.
It is to this class, in fact, that Sir Thomas More alliules as
"covetous and insatiable cormorants"; for they had begun to
buy up farms even before the dissolution of monasteries put
nearly a fifteenth part of all the land of England into their
hands, and were all along as a body disliked by the rural popu-
lations, who contrasted their slender houses and hungry hospi-
tality with the good and continual houses of the honest folk
they superseded. This, of course, was quite natural, for they
regarded land as a commodity to be dealt with, like any other,
for the profit to be gained, and not merely as a source of sus-
tenance a view which has since become so universal that
we can hardly appreciate the storm of anger that greeted its
first introduction at this period.

Attempted As in his father's reign, Henry VIII. and his advisers seem
at first to have been more impressed with the political dangers
which might arise from the depopulation of the country than
with the social grievances which were obviously being fomented
by the continued increase of grazing. The weakening of the
realm for defence against the foreign powers who formerly had
" much feared its force and puissance," was the side of the
matter that seemed to them to call most urgently for interfer-
ence; and so in 1514, the king issued a proclamation against
the "engrossers" of farms, forbidding them to hold more farms
than one, and ordering that all the houses of husbandry decayed
since the beginning of his father's reign should be once more
' put in tillage, and inhabited and dwelt in by husbandmen
and labourers according as it was before the engrossing of
the said houses."

This was followed up in the succeeding year by an Act em-
bodying the same policy, and practically a repetition of the
special Act passed by Henry VII., in 1488, for the Isle of Wight.
As this was disregarded, further legislation in 1516 authorised
the lords of the fees to seize the moiety of all lands decayed
until the husbandry should be re-established. These Acts, it
is interesting to note, are almost contemporaneous with
the publication of Sir Thomas More's " Utopia," with its
denunciations of sheep-farming, and no doubt they were
popular. But the Government soon found that to have any



AGR 1C UL TURE. 153

1547]

effect they must be followed up, and so in 1517 a Commission The com-
of Enquiry was issued to the various counties to obtain accurate
information, both of the persons who defied the Acts and of the
extent of the evil to be dealt with.

The returns to this inquiry still exist for portions of some
rifteen counties, and they enable us to see that the enclosing for
sheep that was going on, though pretty general, was not in most
places on a very large scale. Occasionally we read of whole
hamlets destroyed and their inhabitants driven elsewhere ; but
on the whole enclosures of over 100 acres are rare, and the great
majority are of areas of 30, 40, 60, and SO acres. This looks as
if it was the holdings of the smaller customary tenants that
were being absorbed, but whether as the result of eviction or by
their own action, or by their submitting to the bullying and
bribery which their richer neighbours could no doubt inflict on
them, does not appear. Many entries, of course, relate to en-
closures of the demesnes either by the lords or by their
farmers ; but with regard to this part of the manors it would
seem that generally their owners had enclosed them, if it was
worth doing so at all, long before this, and without their right
to do so being disputed ; for Fitzherbert, writing in 1523, says
that at that time most of the demesnes were enclosed, and does
not speak of it as a recent innovation. What the returns of
1517 do v not tell us, and what we should particularly like to
know, is, How far the lords of the manors appropriated the com-
mons of the villages to themselves or shared them with their
more important tenants for it was this form of enclosing that,
carried to excess, must have affected the poorer kinds of tenants
most particularly, its tendency being to drive them down into
the class of the sturdy beggar and the vagrant, whose increasing
numbers were beginning to be a nuisance both to the country
and to the Government (pp. 159, 354).

As a sequel to the inquiry we find Wolsey, as a judge in
Chancery, in the next year decreeing that those who had ad-
mitted infringements of the Acts should pull down their
enclosures within forty days. But the effect of this, even if it
was obeyed, must have been very temporary, for only a few years
later we hear of thirty ploughs that were still decayed, which
had existed in Oxfordshire in Henry VII.'s time, while in 1534 the
Government were once more driven to begin legislating on the



154



TIIK OLD ORDER CHANGED.



Further
Legisla-
tion.




[1509

subject. The recitals to the statute of this year show well the
kind of grievances that were alleged to be caused by the sheep,
and so they may as well be partly quoted. They run thus :

" Forasmuch as divers persons, to whom God in His goodness hath
disposed great plenty, now of late have daily studied and invented ways

how they might accumulate

CInKrtoc.uourc*bc3mwasmiDfa..fl.a?. into . few lum<ls ' !ls wel1 " rcat

multitude of farms as great

plenty of cattle, and in especial
sheep, putting such laud to
pasture and not tillage ; whei-e-
by they have not only pulled
down churches and towns, and
enhanced the rents and lines
of land so that no poor man
may meddle with it, but also
have raised the prices of all
manner of agricultural com-
modities almost double above
the prices which hath been
accustomed, by reason whereof
a marvellous number of the
people of this realm be not
able to provide for themselves,
their wives and children, but
be so discouraged with misery
and poverty that they fall
daily to theft and robbery, or
pitifully die for hunger and
cold."



AGRICULTURAL LABOURERS.

(Dan-hill, " Ftftc Efjlog," 1509.)



To remedy all these evils, it was enacted that no one should
keep more than 2,000 sheep ; while two years later, after the
monasteries had been dissolved, another Act was passed binding
the new grantees who obtained their lands " to cause to be kept
on them honest and continual houses, and to occupy yearly as
much of the demesnes in plowing as had been commonly used."
As before, disobedience to the Acts was punishable by forfeiture
of the land till the neglect was made good, and by a new Act,
also passed about this time, the king was given the right to
seize the lands into his hands for this purpose instead of the
lords of the fee. The Government, therefore, cannot be charged
with doing nothing to stop the growth of the evil. But all they
did was in vain, for the very persons who had to see that the



AGRICULTURE.



155



C$ctc bonnet!)* netbetracte 01

tpfemoo$.?fi>tab!e fc.z all iwtoaDc mett'ant)

n:\wl}>



1547]

Acts were enforced were the justices of the peace, who were Their
themselves probably the worst offenders. These Acts, then, like Failure -
the former ones, remained a dead letter, being either ignored or
evaded : as, for instance, by running a single furrow across
a Held and declaring that it was ploughed, or by " fathering
sheep on children and servants," as John Hales mentions, and so
getting within the 2,000 limit. On the whole the Government
seem to have recognised their failure, for they attempted no
more legislation till the next reign. The new landowners, there-
fore, were left to do much as they liked with the monastic lands,
and bv the growth of the

j

discontents and by the
frequent references to
pasture farms as griev-
ances in the riots and
rebellions at the close of
Henry's reign, we are led
to infer that they made
the best use of their
opportunity. Nothing,
in fact, that the Govern-
ment could do could
reallystop them. Latimer
might ciy, " You land-
lords, you rent-raisers
I may say you step-lords,
you unnatural lords, you
have for your possessions
yearly too much ! " But
he was really struggling
against the spirit of the
times, which not only into
agriculture, but every-
where, was introducing
the modern idea of com-
petition and the theory that the weakest must go to the wall.
The germ of this idea had been introduced into the country with
the new growth of trade in the previous century, and the struggle
over the enclosures only marks one of the stages by which
England gradually transformed itself into a commercial country.




PLOUGHING AX OPEN FIKLD.

(Fitzherbert, "Bake of Husband rie," 1.V2.Y)



156



THE OLD ORDER CHANGED.



[1509



J. E.

SYMES.
Commerce
and Cur-
rency.



Royal
Extrava-
gance and
its Effect.



Foreign
Trade.



THE accession of Henry VIII. was followed by important
changes in the policy of the English ( lovernment. Chief among
these was the change from economy to extravagance. One of
the main objects of the old king had been to accumulate wealth.
The now king seemed to set himself to squander it as fast as
possible. ' The time is spent," wrote Queen Katherine to her
father Ferdinand of Aragon, "in continual feasting." Revels,
masks, tiltings, and other sports were conducted on a scale of
unprecedented magnificence (p. 204). A taste for fantastic
splendour Avas one of the characteristics of the Renaissance
period : and in this, as in many other respects, the young
Henry VIII. was a true son of the age. In 1515 he spent
5,000 on silks and velvets, and 1,500 on plate and jewellery.
Other branches of the Court expenditure were conducted on
the same luxurious scale, and it must be remembered that the
purchasing power of money was then far greater than it is at
present. The 5,000 spent in a year on silks and velvets
would have supported a thousand families in rude comfort
for the same length of time.

The king's extravagance tended at first to stimulate trade.
It raised prices, and encouraged many branches of industry ; but,
even at first, it probably injured the mass of the Avage-earners,
by raising the cost of living more than it raised average w-ages.
And, in the long run. it was certainly disastrous to the nation.
Taxes had to be levied in order to pay for the king's luxuries,
and the war in which he soon got involved (1511) added to
the national burdens, and interrupted the growing commerce.
Moreover, by persistent reckless expenditure, Henry was led on
to the great confiscations and the debasement of the currency
which produced, as we shall see, terrible social evils and dis-
order. In fact, England passed, during the reign of Homy VIII,
from a state of remarkable prosperity and content into one of
the utmost industrial misery and confusion.

The early years of Henry's reign were, however, on the
whole tolerably prosperous. Our foreign trade continued to
grow. The successful rounding of the Cape of Good Hope by
the Portuguese (1498) opened to Europe a new route to India,
free from the dangers and exactions which had surrounded the
overland trade. Henry took a great interest in the Navy. His



COMMERCE AND CURRENCY.



157



1547]

fine ship, the Great Harry, with its seven tiers of guns one over
the other (p. 103), was the wonder of his contemporaries ; and he
used to insist upon his admirals sending him full particulars as
to how each ship worked. But Henry did not adhere to his
father's policy of strengthening the Merchant Navy. He
suspended the Navigation Acts whenever it suited his con-
venience to do so often preferring his own private interest to
the encouragement of English shipping. After 1539, however,
he fell back upon the policy of his predecessor in this respect,
and his interest in foreign trade was also shown by his Charter




CHARTER GRANTED BY HENRY VIII. TO TRINITY HOUSE.

(By permission of the Elder Dri'tltri'it.)

to the Fraternit} 7 of the Holy Trinity at Deptford, which prac-
tically incorporated the Thames pilots into a guild, and gave
them considerable control over " the science and art of mariners."
The strong position of England after the peace of 1515 was
partly used to promote trade. Henry's alliance was eagerly
desired by the rival powers of France and Spain, and the king
was thus enabled to secure many privileges for English mer-
chants, especially in the Netherlands.

This illustrates a great change that was taking place in the
foreign policy of England. For centuries past our kings had
desired to extend their dominions on the Continent ; but this



158



Till-: OLD OEDER CHANGED.



"Expan-
sion."



The Pro-
blem of
Pauper-
ism.



Disorder.



(1509

ambition was now to be abandoned. At the beginning of his
i vign Henry was dazzled by the traditional ideas of the Hundred
Yrurs' \Vur; but after 1515 his policy, so far as Europe was
concerned, was practically limited to holding the balance
between France and Spain ; and the national love of conquest
soon began to take the form of a desire to acquire possessions in
distant lands. Lord Herbert of Cherbury represents some of
Henry VIII.'s advisers as arguing : " When we would enlarge
ourselves, let it be ... by sea. The Indies are discovered,
and vast treasures brought from thence every day. Let us
therefore bend our endeavours thitherward." This advice may
be mythical; but it correctly enough represents the new
tendency, the growth of the commercial spirit.

We have said that, on the whole, the early years of
Henry VIII. were tolerably prosperous. Yet there were soon
some ominous signs. The efforts of Parliament to regulate
wages, to punish vagabondage, and to repress unlicensed begging
indicate the growth of social evils ; and the spirit of free inquiry
aroused by the Renaissance made it certain that these evils
would not be quietly acquiesced in. The treatment of beggars
was especially severe (p. 358). Those who were incompetent to
work were indeed licensed to beg in specified districts ; but
able-bodied men found begging were whipped and sent home,
and the overseers were bound to find work for them to do. On
a second conviction their ears were to be cropped, and on a third
they were actually to bo put to death. 1 From a quite early
period in the reign of Henry VIII. we have distinct signs of
growing disorder and discontent. In 1514 the royal treasure
waggons were attacked and robbed, and eighty of those con-
cerned in the attack were executed; and in 1517 a London
preacher named Bell denounced the aliens who competed with
Englishmen on English soil, and in the ferment which his
action caused a plot was hatched to massacre the obnoxious
foreigners. The scheme was discovered, and when the appointed
night drew near, the municipal authorities ordered the citizens
to keep within doors between the hours of nine o'clock at night
and nine o'clock on the following morning. But the apprentices,
armed with clubs, sallied out in great numbers and plundered

1 The death penalty for the third offence is first enacted in a statute of
ir>:{() (27th Henry VIII. c. 25).



COMMERCE AND CURRENCY. 159

1547]

large districts of London, especially the houses inhabited by
foreigners (p. 210). The Government succeeded in suppressing
the rising ; but it evidently shared the ill-feeling towards aliens
which had prompted it; and an Act was passed in 1523 forbid-
ding foreigners to take apprentices, and bringing them under the
authority of the English Craft Guilds. The general policy of THe GOV-

6rnin6nt

Henry's Government, of which this Act was one manifestation, a nd the
was to strengthen the Craft Guilds, but, at the same time, to Guilds,
brinsf them under the direct control of the central or local

O

authorities. Acts of Parliament with this object were passed in
1521, 1523, 1533, and 1534. These Acts, though dealing with
different trades, have the common object of strengthening the
power and influence of the Guilds ; but, on the other hand, the
Act of 1531 is directed against attempts on the part of the Guilds
to prevent journeymen and others who had served their appren-
ticeships from starting in business on their own account. The
Guild system was evidently in danger of breaking down, and it
was necessary to bolster it up by Acts of Parliament, while, at
the same time, preventing it from putting excessive hindrances
in the way of competition and individual enterprise. Com-
plaints of the " decay of towns " still continued (Vol. II., p. 750),
and this decay was still to a great extent due to the tendency of
labour and capital to escape from those places where Guild
regulations were in full force.

This tendency is illustrated by the growth of manufacturing New in-
villages. Whilst the old " corporate " towns were decaying, the centre*!
" Villages " of Manchester, Birmingham, and Sheffield were
growing in importance, partly, no doubt, because they were
comparatively free from vexatious restrictions. Parliament
vainly endeavoured to compel people to work in the old towns.
Economic forces were too strong for the Government; in fact, the



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 18 of 68)