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factions which presently became a set of blood feuds, Clif-
ford slaying Rutland because Rutland's father had slain
the father of Clifford, while the blood of Rutland is
avenged by murders on the other side. In the north it
was a conflict between the great houses of Percy and
Neville, which had before its outbreak been in arms
against each other ; in the west it was a conflict between
the houses of Bonville and Devon. When Devon who
has been Yorkist turns Lancastrian, Bonville who has been
Lancastrian turns Yorkist. The group of magnates
which had risen out of the grave of the feudal nobility
killed by the great Plantagenets, was here divided against
itself in a struggle of its houses for supreme power, and it
ended in self-destruction. Livery and badges as means
of factious organization play no small part in the frivo-
lous politics of the time. The chief of the group was
Warwick, whose estates, spread over the kingdom, ex-
ceeded the domain of the crown ; whose badge, the bear
and ragged staff, was borne by a host of retainers ; who,
when he came to London, kept such a house that six oxen
were eaten at a breakfast, while all comers were bribed


with largesses of food. Warwick was the head of a
strong family connection. The last of the barons he has
been called; but he has been more truly described as
a colossal land-owner and an arch-politician with a
private army and a private park of artillery. The aris-
tocratic factions, or connections as they were styled, of
the Hanoverian era fought for power and pelf with politi-
cal weapons, and the vanquished lost their places. The
aristocratic factions of the fifteenth century fought for
power with their swords, and the vanquished lost their
heads. The factions grouped themselves under the rival
Houses and Roses ; but all were playing their own game,
all were fighting for spoils, and, as the fray went on, for
vengeance, which glutted itself not only in the butchery
of prisoners, but in insults to the dead. This is a moral
interregnum ; it is an age of unscrupulous ambition, con-
spiracy, and treachery, the age of the Borgias and
Machiavel. In some of the actors of the Wars of the
Roses is seen the union of crime with culture which
marks the Italian Renaissance. Tiptoft, Earl of Worces-
ter, surnamed the Butcher, who impales the corpses of his
victims, has studied at Italian universities, is a liter-
ary man, and a patron of letters. Edward IV. is also a
patron of letters, while he is almost as cruel as an Italian
tyrant. In lowly places Lollardism still kept a con-
science and from time to time produced a martyr.

The people at large seem not to have cared for
either side. The seamen, who displayed some par-
tisanship, probably thought themselves betrayed to
France by Henry's government. The retainers mechani-
cally followed their lords to the field, but the people
stood at gaze like a herd of deer while the stags are


fighting for tlie mastery. Wliat the sensible part, and,
above all, the commercial part of the nation wanted, was
a strong government. General feeling at the outset
probably was on Henry's side. But the Lancastrians had
no leader ; the Yorkists had a leader of at least tolerable
capacity in York and had a first-rate general in his son.
The outrages committed by Margaret's savage northern
army are likely to have determined the cities which at
Towton fought on the Yorkist side.

The life of the period, rough as it was, seems not to
have been much disturbed by war. Even the judges of
assize appear to have gone their circuits, though they
probably had special need of the sheriff's guard. Col-
leges were being founded. Magdalen College, Oxford,
rose in its beauty amid the storm. A town, such as St.
Albans, in or close to which a battle took place, felt the
fury of the victor, and towns were sacked by Margaret's
northern hordes ; but there was no general sacking or
havoc. Each faction slew men of rank, of whom many
were taken prisoners fighting on foot and impeded by
their heavy armour. The common people seem to have
been spared. The armies were not kept on foot and
quartered on the country, like the brigand hosts of Tilly
and Wallenstein ; they were called out for the battle and
sent home when it was over. Nor do they seem to have
been large. Medieval numbers are always untrustworthy,
and sometimes monstrous exaggerations. At Towton,
the greatest as well as the fiercest and bloodiest of these
battles, one authority finds that the probable position of the
Lancastrians would hold about five thousand men. There
were man}^ breaks in the thirty years during which the
Wars of the Roses lasted.


The natural result of a military revolution was the
prostratiou of law and liberty before the victor. A
despot Edward IV. was not. He put to death with cer-
tain judicial forms any one who even by light words
aroused his suspicions. He put to death on suspicion his

1478 own brother Clarence ; though the story of drowning in
a butt of malmsey is at least so far true that Edward did
not venture on a public execution. He broke the law
against arbitrary taxation by extorting what were ironi-

1473 cally called benevolences. But he did not dare to change
the law or to raise a general tax without consent of
parliament. He gratified his lust by seduction, not by
force. A despot he might have made himself had not
the energy which by decisive strokes of war had won so
many fields sunk when war was over into the torpor of
the debauchee. Royalty now dons full state. Ceremonious
etiquette is fully born. A Nuremberger, in the suite of a
Bohemian nobleman, was allowed the privilege of seeing
the queen dine. She sat on a golden stool alone at her
table, her mother and the king's sisters standing far
below her. When she spoke to either of them they knelt
down and remained kneeling till she drank water. All
her ladies, and even her lords in waiting, had to kneel
during the whole of her dinner, which lasted three hours.
After dinner there was dancing, but the queen remained
seated with her mother kneeling before her. This out-does
the court of Louis XIV.

1483 The boy Edward V. was proclaimed only to die and
make way for the daring usurper, whose brief reign forms
the last and not the least tragic scene of the long and
bloody drama of the Wars of the Roses.



Born 1450; Succeeded 1483; Died 1485

The historical school which prefers the scipntific to the
moral treatment of character has a good subject in
Richard III. Rehabilitation of him is not only a paradox
but a platitude. Charges may have been heaped upon
his memory by his victorious foes. His deformity was
exaggerated; so may have been his crimes. Born in a
depraved era, he had been bred amid treachery and
murder. His boyish eyes had feasted on civil bloodshed.
At Tewkesbury, where he commanded a division at nine-
teen, if he did not stab Prince Edward, he must have
borne a part in the butchery of a number of prisoners,
taken, as Lancastrians averred, after promise of pardon,
in a church. He was in the Tower, and we may be sure
in command, when Henry VI. was murdered. It is a
moot point whether his brother Clarence, standing in his
path, was helped by his intrigue to a better world. No
one doubts that he slaughtered Hastings, Rivers, Grey,
and Vaughan. He wanted them out of his way and
removed them without remorse. We may acquit him
of murdering his wife; but it seems he wished her dead,
and desired as a stroke of policy to marry his niece in
her room. Evidently he was a man of intellect. His
features, if his portrait can be trusted, were refined and
pensive. He was at the same time full of energy, and
flattery could tell him that never had nature enclosed
so great a spirit in so small a frame. Nor is it at all
unlikely that, after winning his power by crimes, and
cementing it by an unnatural murder, he would have
used it well. The tendency of his legislation appears

VOL. 1 вАФ 18


to Have been liberal. He condemned benevolences,
though he was fain to resort to them. By a statute
freely admitting books he marked the age and did credit
to himself. The weakness of his title would have com-
pelled him to make friends of the people. He had
tried to tune public opinion through the. pulpit, the
feeble precursor of the press. His usurpation, though
effected by villainy and masked by pretexts transparently
false, including one which traduced the character of his
own mother, does not seem to have greatly shocked
opinion. The nation, with its moral sensibilities blunted
as they must have been by the long carnival of crime and
blood, might well prefer the rule of a very able though
unprincipled man to another minority with an irrespon-
sible camarilla. Richard appears to have been well
received on progress through the country, especially at
York and in the north. Bishop Wayneflete, the pious
founder of Magdalen College, came to entertain him
there, and had exercises performed before him in the
College Hall. Another bishop, with substantial reasons
it is true, hails him as the paragon of kings. Without
the murder of the princes it would not be easy to under-
stand the storm which overturned his throne. We might
suppose that it was merely the last blast of the elements
which had been raging so long. An hereditary claim
no stronger than that of his rival would hardly have
fired a heart or strung a bow. But Grafton may well
be right in saying that the murder of Richard's nephews,
generally known or suspected, turned national feeling
against the murderer. The commons were probably not
so lost to humanity as the aristocratic factions. To
witnessing the slaughter of any number of political


enemies thej were accustomed. This they would have
taken as a matter of course. But the murder of two
royal boys by the uncle who had them in his trust was
an outrage on human nature which appealed to every
heart. Some have thought that Richard was a man more
of impulse than of foresight. His foresight certainly
failed him when he rushed into this crime. His guilt
can hardly be doubted. In whose keeping were the boys
when they disappeared? Who had an interest in their
removal ? What became of them ? Why, when the storm
of public indignation arose and might have been allayed
by producing them, were they not produced ? Whose were
the two skeletons, corresponding to the ages of the boys,
which in the reign of Charles II. were found in a place 1674
indicated by the confession of the reputed murderers ?
The story of Perkin Warbeck admits the murder of the
elder brother, pretending only that the younger escaped.

In the insurrection of Buckingham, which had appar- 1483
ently no cause but the magnate's pique, and in the
crafty wavering of Stanley on the field of Bos worth, is 1485
displayed once more the spirit of aristocratic faction,
while the furies of the dynastic and family war were
seen to concentrate themselves in the demoniacal fierce-
ness with which Richard was seeking his adversary's life
when he lost his own.

Through all this parliament had lived. It had been
packed, of course, by the victors of the hour, sometimes
shamelessly, and used as the instrument of party policy,
of party murders and confiscations in the guise of Acts
of Attainder, of party settlements and resettlements
of the crown. Still it had lived and held its place in
the constitution. Neither party had dared to legislate


or attaint without it. It had even shown a spark of
independence when York after his first successes laid his
hand upon the throne. Free election to it had been a
popular demand put forward in the manifesto of the
1430 insurgents under Cade. By an Act of Henry VI. the
qualification for the electors of the knights of the shire
had been regulated and fixed at the forty-shilling free-
hold, at which it was kept by English conservatism
down to the reform of 1832. All the powers which
parliament now possesses, and in some respects more
than it legally and theoretically now possesses, it had
acquired, chiefly by taking advantage of the king's
financial necessities; legislation, taxation, appropriation
of supplies, auditing of accounts, inquiry into expendi-
ture, impeachment of ministers, together with the neces-
sary privilege of freedom of members from arrest. It had
besides been formally taken into counsel by the crown
on questions of war and peace, which at present are
beyond its formal competence, and it had interfered
directly with the composition of the royal council, over
which it has at present only an indirect control. It had
disposed of the regency. It had settled the succession
to the crown. The Commons had established, as against
the Lords, their right to the sole origination of money
grants, with the power attendant on that right. Eng-
land was a commonwealth, and a commonwealth in form
and principle it remained, though, through the temporary
failure of the forces by which parliament had been
created and sustained, a period of practical autocracy
wa,s at hand. Fortescue, Chief Justice of the King's
Bench under Henry VI., and governor of the Prince of
Wales, could say, "A king of England cannot at his


pleasure make any alterations in the laws of the land,
for the nature of his government is not only regal but
political. Had it been merely regal, he would have a
power to make what innovations and alterations he
pleased in the laws of the kingdom, impose tallages and
other hardships upon the people whether they would or
no, without their consent, which sort of government the
civil laws point out when they declare quod prineipi
placuit, legis habet vigor em. But it is much otherwise
with a king whose government is political, because he
can neither make any alteration nor change in the laws
of the realm without the consent of the subjects, nor
burden them against their wills with strange imposi-
tions; so that a people governed by such laws as are
made by their own consent and approbation enjoy their
properties securely and without the hazard of being de-
prived of them either by the king or any other. The
same things may be effected under an absolute prince,
provided he do not degenerate into the tyrant. Of such
a prince Aristotle, in the third of his Politics, says, 'It
is better for a city to be governed by a good man than
by bad laws.' But because it does not always happen
that the person presiding over a people is so qualified,
St. Thomas, in the book which he writ to the king of
Cyprus, De Regimine Principum^ wishes that a kingdom
could be so instituted as that the king might not be at
liberty to tyrannize over his people, which only comes to
pass in the present case; that is, when the sovereign
power is restrained by political laws. Rejoice, therefore,
my good Prince, that such is the law of the kingdom which
you are to inherit, because it will afford, both to your-
self and subjects, the greatest security and satisfaction."

278 THE UNITED KINGDOM chap, xiv

That the House of Commons, however, was far from
democratic, is shown by the enactment of reiterated
statutes of Labourers, to keep down wages, and Vagrant
Acts, to bind the labourer to the manor. The forty-
shilling freehold was a qualification which, allowing for
the difference in the value of money, would be high at
the present day. Of the borough elections most would
be in the hands of municipal oligarchies. Besides, there
were the irregular influences of the crown through its
sheriffs and of local magnates. Annual parliaments,
which had been ordained under Edward II., and payment
of members, were different things in those days from
what they would be now. So was membership of the
House of Commons. We hear of members elected but
refusing to serve, absconding, and pursued with hue and
cry. Itv was necessary to pay representatives for their
services in those days, whereas in the present day they
are glad to pay dearly for being allowed to serve.
There were sometimes considerable intervals between
sessions, with no political press to fill the gap. Nor
were the members trained parliamentary hands, though
they would be trained in some measure for public life by
local legislation and the administration of local justice.
Government was still in the crown, and in the croAvn
there was need that it should be when the representatives
of the nation were so uninformed and so little capable
of taking the helm. Political landmarks were not fixed,
nor were principles defined as they are at the present
day. Much was still in a state of flux and varied with
the shifting forces of the hour.


Born 1456; Succeeded 1485; Died 1509

T^E have now fairly come to the end of the catholic
middle age. Its starlight yields to the flush of dawn.
Classical literature and art, revived in Italy, have been
substituting the Greek and Roman for the ecclesiastical
ideal. Asceticism, treating the body as the prison of the
soul, and seeking by mortification to subdue it, is being
supplanted by the sense of beauty, apt to slide into
sensuality. The architecture of the Gothic cathedral is
giving place to that of the Parthenon and the Pantheon.
Painting, even when ostensibly religious, is becoming
really human. From sculptured forms of macerated
saints adoration is turning to the beauty of heathen
gods. If in England medieval art still lingers, it will
not linger long. Colleges are founded, but monasteries
no longer. In place of the School philosophy the hufnani-
ties reign. Aquinas, Duns Scotus, and the Master of the
Sentences give up their thrones to Plato and Cicero. In-
stead of the monkish Latin of the middle ages, classical
Latin is the language of the learned. Education becomes
classical. At the same time the vernacular languages are
cultivated and national literatures grow. Above all,
printing is born. Caxton has introduced it into England. 1476
Between the morality of Catholicism and the protestant



morality which is to succeed it, there is, especially in
courts and among the governing classes, an interregnum,
which gives birth to the papacy of Alexander VI., and
the statecraft of Machiavelli. Our generation may look
upon such a period with interest, since it is itself threat-
ened with an interregnum between Christian morality
and the morality of science.

Feudalism, in the most advanced countries, has
breathed its last. In England it has fallen upon its own
sword. True chivalry, the chivalry of the crusades, has
long been dead. In its later travesty, the chivalry of the
fantastic orders, little life is left. The castle, its walls
not being proof against the cannon, is replaced by the
battlemented and moated mansion, which again will soon
be replaced by the mansion unbattlemented and with the
pleasure-ground in place of the moat. The military
revolution holds its course. Artillery sweeps the field
of battle. Firearms prevail over the bows of Crecy and
Agincourt. War has thoroughly become a trade and a
science, with captains of mercenaries, such as the Italian
condottieri, for its masters.

Throughout Europe there is the stir of a new life.
Commerce is growing more active, navigation is spread-
ing its sails, discovery is opening new realms. Portu-
guese mariners have made the passage round the Cape to
India ; Columbus is about to set sail. In Italy commerce
and industry have long gained the upper hand of the
nobility. In England they are gaining a place beside it.
Under Henry VI. De la Pole, the origin of whose family
was commercial, stood at the head of the state and almost
within reach of the crown. - Cannynge, a merchant of
Bristol, entertained Edward IV. in a palace.


Feudal aristocracy having wrecked itself and the
church being drugged, there is scarcely any political force
in the field but monarchy, which in France and Spain
becomes permanently and completely, in England less
completely and for the time, absolute. This is the age of
kingcraft, of which the three masters are Louis XI. of
France, Ferdinand of Spain, and Henry VII. of England.
Csesar Borgia, in Italy, was its fiendish incarnation. He
was the model of Machiavelli. Henry VII. was the
model of Bacon, in whom there is a Machiavellian

Sir Thomas More's narrative of the reigns of Edward
V. and Richard III. is a political history. The day of the
monkish chronicler is past, that of the historian is at hand.
In More's " Utopia " comes political speculation. 1516

On the field of Bosworth, Henry Tudor put on the 1485
circlet taken from the head of the slain Richard. This
was his real coronation. His title was victory, though in
deference to the principle of inheritance by this time
deeply rooted, he entwined with it that of succession from
a legitimated bastard of Lancaster, and that of marriage
with the heiress of York ; the marriage after a delay
which betrayed his hatred of the house of York and his
fear of seeming to owe the crown to his wife. General
weariness of the civil strife and general prostration
made his victory decisive. The axe of aristocratic fac-
tion had deprived the middle classes of political leaders ;
they turned from politics to the acquisition, in agriculture
or trade, of the wealth which was to make them politi-
cally powerful at a later day.

A statute declaring the allegiance of the subject due 1495
to the sovereign in possession, whatever might be his


title, reassured, so far as an Act of Parliament could re-
assure, all who might fear that in adhering to a Lancas-
trian king they were laying up for themselves wrath
against the return of the house of York. The spectre of
indefeasible right was thus laid, and obedience was based
upon reasonable grounds.

Henry had, however, still to buffet the billows of a sea
which, having been swept by storms for thirty years,
could not at once become calm. The Duchess of Bur-
gundy, a daughter of York, sister of Edward IV. and
Richard III., earned the title of Henry's Juno by the
pertinacity of her intrigues against him. Twice she
raised up pretenders against the hated Lancastrian.

14^7 Lambert Simnel, who personated the Earl of Warwick,
Clarence's son, brought on the stage a new force in the
shape of the German hackbuteers, Almains, as they were
called, under a soldier of fortune, Martin Schwarz. That
Lambert Simnel was an impostor is undoubted. Few
now believe the story of Perkin Warbeck, who gave him-
self out as Richard, Duke of York, younger son of
Edward IV. But he played his part with skill, and he is
notable as a low-born adventurer who, in that age of
social caste, could bear himself with dignity in courts and
win the heart of a high-born wife. Ford has painted him

1487 well. From the field of Stoke, where, under the rebel
banner of Simnel, Lincoln, the heir designate of Richard
III. fell, Lovel, the other Yorkist leader, disappeared and
was heard of no more. But in the eighteenth century,

1708 in a vault beneath Minster Lovel, the mansion of the
family, was found the body of a man in rich clothing
seated in a chair with a table and mass-book before
him, which was yet entire when the vault was opened.


but, being exposed to the air, crumbled to dust. It was
conjectured that this was the body of Lovel, who had
fled thither, trusted himself to a dependent, and been im-
mured through neglect or accident. Such was the last
relic of the Wars of the Roses. Intrigue and conspiracy,
however, were long in djdng. Sir William Stanley, who
had betrayed Richard to Henry at Bosworth, betrayed
Henry in turn, and met a traitor's doom.

Nor was it with aristocratic conspiracy and mutiny
alone, but with general turbulence, that Henry had to
cope. The rough and warlike north rebelled against 1488
taxation. It was speedily put down. Not so speedy was
the suppression of a rising among the fierce miners of
Cornwall, who, being stung to wrath by the taxgatherers, 1497
and having found a noble to head them in the person of
Lord Audley, marched to Blackheath, and fought, almost 1497
under the walls of the capital, a pitched battle, in which
the royal park of artillery gave the victory to the crown.
The country, when Henry came to the throne, was still
generally unsettled.. Vagabondage, highway robbery,
and abduction of women were still rife. The guardian of
order and civilization had excuse for strong measures and

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