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were on the whole low, and he must be regarded as having degraded
the Crown as no King had done since Edward II. In person he was
for that age a giant, being six feet three inches tall, and was
considered, although his portraits belie it, to have been of great
personal beauty. It is easy for kings to be thought handsome.




elder son of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville, was bom in the
Sanctuary at Westminster, to which during the brief Lancastrian
Restoration of 1470-1 his mother had fled. He was created Prince
of Wales after his father's victorious return and the murder of
Prince Edward of Lancaster. He seems to have spent his child-
hood principally at Ludlow, and he was there at the date of his
father's death and his own accession in April 1483, There was
immediately a struggle for the possession of his person between his
mother's relatives,, of the Grey and Woodville families, and his
paternal uncle, Richard, Duke of Gloucester. This ended in the
complete victory of the latter, and the execution of several members
of the former clans. Gloucester brought his nephew to London on
May 4 and ominously assigned for him the Tower as his residence ; he
then summoned a Parliament by means of which he hoped to further
his designs : whether these were at first merely for the Protectorate or
whether they were for the Crown itself, it is impossible to say. But
when he had got into his hands the little King's only brother,
Richard, Duke of York, and sent him to keep his brother company
in the Tower, and when he had cleared the way by executing Lord
Hastings, the Duke deferred the Parliament, trumped up a charge
of bastardy against the two boys, and, overawing the capital by
bodies of his own adherents, proceeded to claim the crown as King
Richard III. The two princes were shortly afterwards murdered in
the Tower, smothered, it has always been believed, by two assassins
in the pay of King Richard. Two skeletons of the stature of boys
of thirteen and eleven were discovered at the foot of a staircase in
the White Tower in the reign of King Charles II, and this discovery
left little doubt of the truth of the story.

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From the MS. of Dictes and Sayings of the Philosophers
at Lambeth Palace




the youngest son of Richard, Duke of York, and Cecily Neville,
was born at Fotheringhay and was only nine years old when the
crown fell to his eldest brother, Edward IV, who at his coronation
created him Duke of Gloucester. During Edward's reign the
young prince, in spite of being severely tempted by Warwick and his
second brother, Clarence, remained steadily loyal. He probably
first saw service in 1469, when Edward was fighting against Clarence
and Warwick : he accompanied Edward into exile in 1470 and
helped him to recover the Crown in 1471. There is some evidence
that he murdered the young Prince Edward of Lancaster at
Tewkesbury, and much better evidence that he murdered Henry VI
in the Tower — both of these bloody deeds are attributed to him
before he was twenty years of age. He married, probably against
her will, Anne Neville, the daughter of Richard Neville, Earl of
Warwick, who was already the widow of his reputed victim.
Prince Edward ; and he soon quarrelled, over the inheritance of
the said Earl of Warwick, with his brother Clarence, who had
married Anne's sister Isabel. As a vigorous and strenuous man,
who had considerable contempt for the sensuality and sloth of
his Kinig-brother, Richard protested against the Peace of Pecquigny,
by which Edward allowed Louis XI to buy off his invasion of
France in 1475. There is no direct proof that he had any hand
in Clarence's death in 1478, but all murders would naturally be
attributed to a mati such as Richard. In I480 he was sent to the
North, and in 1482 invaded Scotland in the interest of King
Edward and a Scottish traitor, the Duke of Albany ; and his success
there Seems to have cost him the jealousy of his brother, with whom
he was out of favour for the last two years of the reign.


Edward, however, left him guardian of his son Edward V, of
whose person he got hold a few days after the boy's accession to the
Crown. In conjunction with the Duke of Buckingham, he got
rid successively of the leading members of the families of Grey
and Woodville (the young King's maternal relatives), of Lord
Hastings and of other probable rivals : finally, while the young King
and his brother were practically prisoners in the Tower, he trumped
up a charge of bastardy against them and claimed the Crown. Some
packed assembly of London citizens, overawed by large bodies
of retainers from the North, where Richard was always popular,
seems to have given some sort of assent to this usurpation, and
Richard's reign is dated from June 26 : his coronation and that
of his Queen Anne followed ten days later. While on a progress in
the Midlands in August he probably gave the order for the murder
of the two sons of Edward IV; and it was probably this murder
which alienated from him his best adherent, the Duke of
Buckingham. From the day when it was known that the boys were
dead Richard's reign was never for a moment quiet. Buckingham,
urged on by John Morton, Bishop of Ely, raised the first flag of
rebellion on behalf of the exiled heir of the Lancastrian house, Henry,
Earl of Richmond, but was caught and beheaded. Richard met his
only Parliament in January 1484, and tried, by assuming a popular
and ' constitutional ' attitude, to bid for favour ; he even induced the
widowed Queen of Edward IV and her daughters to come out
of sanctuary, and proposed, to the horror of every one, to marry
his own niece, Elizabeth, afterwards the Queen of Henry VII ; his
own wife, Anne, was then ill, and it was not unnatural that people
should say that she was being poisoned, though she did not actually
die till March 1485: his own only son was already dead, and
he proclaimed as his heir his sister's son, John, Earl of Lincoln.
Meanwhile Henry of Richmond was preparing for an invasion,
and Richard moved uneasily about England, uncertain where the
landing would take place. Milford Haven was the spot finally


Prom the portrait in the National Portrait Gallery-
Painter unknown

Fact p, 24


selected, and with strong Welsh reinforcements the Lancastrians
advanced to meet Richard ; the armies when they finally met at
Bosworth in August 1485 were small, but Richard's was completely
defeated in spite of his own desperate valour, and the King himself
fell in the heat of the battle. The tradition that Richard was
humpbacked or in some way deformed is not unlikely to be true,
but it rests on no certain evidence and none of his portraits
confirm it. As for his character, though ridiculous attempts have
been made to whitewash it, martial valour is the only virtue to
which he could lay any claim.




son of Edmund Tudor, Earl of Richmond, and Margaret Beaufort, who
was heiress, after 1471, to the Lancastrian claim to the English Crown,
was born at Pembroke Castle. He was presented to King Henry VI
during the brief Lancastrian Restoration of 1470-1, and, after the
return of Edward IV in the latter year, found an asylum in Brittany.
Both Edward IV and Richard III made attempts to induce the
Duke of Brittany to surrender his guest, and one of these was very
nearly successful. When Buckingham rose against Richard III,
Henry was already off the English coast preparing to join him, but
was unable to land. After this failure Henry repaired to France, where
English exiles gathered round him in 1484-5 ; and on August i of
the latter year he sailed from Harfleur with about 2,000 men, landed
in Wales and defeated and slew Richard III at Bosworth three
weeks later. He was well received in London as King Henry VII
and was crowned in October ; Parliament entailed the Crown on him
and the heirs of his body. He had, however, solemnly sworn in
France to marry the Princess Elizabeth, now the undoubted heiress
of the Yorkist claims, and thus to unite the two rival houses. The
marriage took place at the beginning of i486, but Henry was always
careful to maintain that his title to the Crown was independent
of his wife's. Two successive pretenders to the throne, each
claiming to represent a Plantagenet prince, were easily disposed
of^Lambert Simnel at the battle of Stoke in 1487, and Perkin
Warbeck, who gave more trouble, by adroit diplomacy with the
various European Courts which had successively given him shelter,


From the portrait in the National Portrait Gallery
Painter unknown

Face p. 26


in 1497. When the French threatened in 1490 to absorb Brittany,
Henry felt it to be a necessary diplomatic move to get up an
expedition against France, and actually crossed the Channel and
laid siege to Boulogne two years later. But he was able to let
King Charles VIII understand that he was quite ready to treat,
and they made a treaty at Etaples. When Parkin Warbeck
finally left Scotland in 1497, Henry concluded with James IV a
truce which soon became a peace, and which was based upon the
marriage of his elder daughter, Margaret, to the Scottish King.
From 1499 to 1506 a real scion of the Plantagenet house, Edmund
de la Pole, Earl of Suffolk, gave the King some trouble, but Henry
at last got the Duke of Burgundy, who had protected Edmund, to
surrender him in the latter year. In 1501 he was able to marry his
elder son Arthur to Katharine, princess of Spain, and, when Arthur
died in the next year, Katharine was betrothed to Arthur's brother
Prince Henry, now heir to the Enghsh throne; Henry VII's friend-
ship with the crafty Spanish sovereigns, Ferdinand and Isabella, was
never a cordial one, but the alliance between England and Spain
remained fairly durable, and was perhaps the strongest card in
the English King's hand.

Two other points besides his adroit diplomacy are specially in-
teresting in Henry's career ; he was to a considerable extent a patron
of commerce and perhaps pioneer of the system of Navigation Acts ;
and he was unquestionably the founder of that system of strong
government which his son and grandchildren worked so much for
the benefit of England. But everything which he did was tentative,
and we feel, as we watch him, that he was never very sure of his
ground. Avarice often led him to abandon great plans of the
usefulness of which he probably felt no doubt ; but the poverty of
the Crown had been for over a century the greatest misfortune
of England, and Henry saw clearly that, if the country was to be
governed with any success, he must become a rich king. In private
life his tastes were simple and frugal, and his only great expenditure


was upon music and architecture. He seems to have had a good,
though not, considering his mother's great reputation for learning,
a specially learned education, but he was careful to bring up his
children to be really learned in the best sense of the word. Above
all things Henry was a patient and laborious king, and he died in
1509 at the age of 52, worn out from unceasing toil in the business
of state.




eldest son of James III and Margaret of Denmark, began his
political life in a rebellion against his father at the age of fifteen.
The rebellion was successful ; King James was killed at Sauchieburn,
and the young prince was crowned at Scone a few days afterwards
as James IV. It is fairly obvious that he had been a mere tool
of the ambitious nobles, and that he always repented the share he
had had in his father's death. He was evidently a young man ot
precocious talents, an excellent linguist, speaking, among other lan-
guages, the Gaelic, and writing excellent Latin: he was also devoted
to arts and letters. He was, moreover, an energetic administrator, a
great builder of ships, a favourer of commerce and of the rising
Scottish burghs. We find him constantly on the move even to the
remotest parts of his kingdom, and he did much, by his energetic
presidence of the judicial eyres of his kingdom, to bring both the
wilder feudal nobles of the border and the chieftains of the Islands
under royal control. The institution of a central Court of Justice
in Edinburgh in 1504 was his work, as was also the introduction
of the regular system of tenure of lands by feu. His devotion to
the science of artillery may have been as much due to his eager
interest in experiments as to his warlike designs, but he was for
ever casting big guns and making gunpowder. He was also a most
ostentatiously devout servant of the Church, and made yearly
pilgrimages to distant holy places in Scotland; he even talked of
a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

. At his Court foreign influences of every kind pulled him now


this way, now that, and Scotland became the focus of a diplomatic
struggle in which England, France and Spain played the leading parts.
James was distinctly ahead of his age and of the traditions of his
people in wishing to keep the peace with England, but no Scottish
King could at that time safely or honourably abandon the alliance
with France. James kept for some time at his Court the English
pretender Perkin Warbeck, whose tale he seems really to have
believed, gave him a lady of royal blood to wife and undertook small
warlike movements on his behalf; Perkin, however, was not a warlike
person, and on one occasion showed some disposition to cowardice.
This may have disgusted the King of Scots, who probably was
glad when his guest went off to Ireland in 1497. James thereon con-
cluded the treaty of Ayton with Henry VII and agreed to marry that
king's elder daughter, Margaret, who, in 1503, at the age of fourteen,
crossed the border as Queen of Scots : it is said that upon this
occasion the Order of the Thistle was instituted. Peace and amity
continued between England and Scotland until the death of Henry
VII, and the lesser country made great strides in prosperity. Henry
VIII's espousal of the cause of the Pope against the French King in
151 1 speedily put an end to this condition of peace, and it needed
little persuasion on the part of Louis XII to throw James back upon
the older traditional policy of Scotland. He prepared for a great
invasion of England and took with him to the border in 1513 the
whole force of Scotland. He was able to take Norham and cross the
Tweed, but was entirely outgeneralled by the prudent Earl of Surrey,
defeated and slain at Flodden, September 9, 1513. James's private
life was stained by flagrant immorality and he left many illegiti-
mate children ; but his zeal for good government and his patriotism
are indubitable.


From the drawing attributed to Jacques le Boucq of Artois in the
Library of the town of Arras

Face /, 30




second son of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, was born at
Greenwich. He became heir to the throne on the death of his
brother Arthur in 1502, and two years later a dispensation arrived
from the Pope to enable him to marry his brother's widow, Katharine
of Spain ; but he protested at the time against the dispensation, and,
until his own accession to the throne, it did not seem certain that
the marriage would take place. Henry received the most careful
and learned education, and became an accomphshed scholar in the
best sense of the term. He was also a fine athlete and of great
bodily strength. For almost fifteen years after his accession to the
throne in 1509 no one suspected that Henry was more than a
pleasure-loving monarch of great natural gifts and graces, but also
of much extravagance, who was content to pass his time in a series
of tournaments and revels, and to leave business to his ministers,
especially to Cardinal Wolsey. He married Katharine two months
after his accession and had by her several children, all of whom,
except Princess Mary, born 1516, died in infancy. He engaged in
two futile wars with France, 15 12 and 1522, and thus spoiled his
father's excellent understanding with the Scots. He professed
excessive devotion to the Holy See, and, even in after years, all the
doctrines and ritual of the old Church remained dear to him.
During this period taxation was heavy and was by no means
cheerfully borne.

Sometime between 1525 and 1529 a complete change came over
Henry's character and method of government : he may be said to


have awaked; and the results of his awakening, if on the

whole of enormous benefit to his country, were very terrible

to many of the old interests in that country. He desired, not

wholly for immoral reasons, a divorce from Katharine, for he

was anxious to secure the English succession to a son, and he

professed that his conscience was uneasy at the thought of his

long but unhallowed union with a brother's wife. Every man and

every interest that stood in the way of the royal will had now to be

swept from Henry's path. Among these interests was the Church

of Rome, as the Popes of that age understood it. Pope Clement VH

was ready to give Henry a dispensation to have two wives at once ;

but for political reasons he was unable to grant a divorce from

Katharine, for he was in the clutches of the Emperor Charles V,

who was Katharine's nephew. Henry turned in 1529 to the people

of England, that is to the upper classes who were represented in the

House of Commons. These had for two centuries or more hated

and despised the foreign-hearted Papal Church ; and, while not

wishing as yet for any innovations in doctrine, were quite ready to

join the King in the confiscation of clerical property and in the

wholesale abolition of the Papal authority in England. Though at

first the House of Lords, where bishops, abbots, and conservative

peers were strong, gave some trouble, Henry and his devoted

Houses of Commons ended by sweeping all before them. Cardinal

Wolsey, the Papal headship of the Church, the monasteries and the

monastic orders successively fell, and the Crown and the laity were

enriched with their spoils. All payments to Rome were forbidden,

and all appeals, and the supremacy of the Crown over the Church

was entirely established. This was not accomplished without much

resistance both from individuals and corporations, nor even without

an insurrection in the North, 1536, which at the time threatened to

^be serious. But each successive movement of resistance was

stamped out in blood and fire, and the numerous executions, which

might well have been avoided (for almost the whole force and

From the portrait by Holbein in possession of the Barber-Surgeons' Company of London (detail)

Fact i. 32


intelligence of his people was upon Henry's side), have left a
terrible stain on the King's name. Political exigencies occasionally
led the government into coquetry with the princes of Germany,
where the doctrinal reformation was in full blast, but, when the
Lutheran doctrines began to spread to England, Henry ruthlessly
stamped them out, and twenty-eight ' heretics ' were burned during
his reign. A terrible tyrant to his enemies, Henry was never in the
least a tyrant to the mass of his people, who loved, trusted and
honoured him to the end, and whom he also trusted and trained to
the use of arms and to a national self-consciousness and pride that
had been quite lost since the death of Henry V. He was the true
founder of our Navy and a devoted student of all matters connected
with the sea, and especially of naval construction and gunnery.
He was a true patron of English commerce, which he fostered and
protected as no one had done since Edward HI. He was a true
patron of learning, as his royal foundations at both Universities
testify. Finally, he was the King who first taught the House of
Commons to take its true place as the exponent of the will of
the intelligent classes of England.

In spite of his six successive marriages, Henry left but three
children : Mary, the daughter of Katharine of Spain ; Elizabeth, the
daughter of Anne Boleyn ; and Edward VI, the son of Jane Seymour.
By his last three wives, Anne of Cleves, Katharine Howard,
Katharine Parr, he had no children; he had one illegitimate son,
the Duke of Richmond, who died before himself. In spite of his
success and his noble patriotism, Henry'is private character must be
pronounced detestable : alone of his wives Jane Seymour was parted
from him by a natural death ; two of them he beheaded. He was
a cruel man who rejoiced in spilling the blood of his enemies;
he was wickedly and often uselessly extrayagant. And he made
all this appear worse in the eyes of posterity by his ostentatious
assumption of righteousness and his perpetual talk about his

M. r. D




Cardinal and Archbishop of York, the celebrated statesman of Henry
-Vni's reign, was probably born at Ipswich and was most likely the
son of a tradesman of some substance. He came to Oxford and took
his degree from Magdalen College at the age of fifteen, was elected
Eellow in 1497 and soon afterwards bursar and master of the choir
school. His first patron was the Marquis of Dorset, to whose sons
he wa;s tutor, and it was Dorset who gave him his first living in the
Church : but he began his career as a pluralist very early by getting
a dispensation in 1501 to hold two more benefices, and he sub-
sequently became one of the greatest pluralists that ever lived.
It would be futile to attempt to enumerate the livings and small
prefermients which he held at different times, but he does not appear
to have performed any ecclesiastical duty or office in any of them.
In 1507 he came to Court as Henry VII's chaplain and was
patronized by Richard Fox, the statesman Bishop of Winchester ;
he was employed on one or two diplomatic missions by Henry VII,
and, just before that King's death, became Dean of Lincoln, He
must have been known to Henry VIII before his accession to the
tl^one, for on that event he at once became the new King's almoner
and soon afterwards Canon • of' Windsor. From that moment till
1527 his influence with Henry was increasing and became supreme.
WolSey, or 'Wulcy', as he always wrote himself, appears to
have believed that he possessed a special genius for foreign politics,
and ihat he could make England, in virtue of the great treasures
accumulated by Henry VII and the riches which she derived


From the drawing attributed to Jacques le Boucq of Artois
in the Library of the town of Arras

Face /). 34


as a wool-exporting country, the arbiter of Europe, which was then
divided into two camps between the contending powers of France
and the Austro-Spanish House. It was an age of shameless
diplomacy, quick conclusions and as quick desertions of aUiances :
Wolsey's diplomacy was not more shameless than that of his
contemporaries, but we are driven to the conclusion that it was
somewhat more futile, for the monarchs of Western Europe were
enabled by him to bleed England of money for objects which were
quite un-EngUsh. Thus he engaged in two futile wars with France
(1512 and 1522) and a still more futile candidature of his sovereign
for the Imperial Crown (15 19), as well as in two successive attempts
to get the Papacy for himself; and in statecraft of this type he soon
wasted the treasure of the first Tudor King, and left Henry VIII in
financial embarrassments which lasted throughout his life. It may
well be imagined that Wolsey became profoundly unpopular with
such a shrewd commercial people as the English of that age;
his famous design to wring ;^8oo,ooo out of the Parliament of
1523 was a complete failure, while his attempt to raise a large forced
loan two years later almost provoked an Insurrection. That he took
large pensions and preferments from the Kings of Spain and France
is not so amazing as that he actually stipulated for thera in
the treaties which he drew up for the Crown of England, Mean-
while, to enumerate only his higher preferments in the English
Church, he became Dean of Hereford in 1512, Dean of York and
Precentor of London in 1513, Bishop of Lincoln and Archbishop
of York in 1514, Cardinal in 1515 and Lord Chancellor in the
same year. Bishop of Bath and Wells and Legate in 1518, Abbot
of St. Albans (the richest benefice in England) 1521, Bishop of

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