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for something like martial law.

To quench the last fires of civil war, to quell the re-
mains of feudal anarchy, to bring forward the middle
class and attach it to the throne by fostering industry
and trade, to organize the nation thoroughly under a
monarchy practically abs'olute was the aim of Henry VI I.
He was the man for his part, a politician of the new era,
without a trace of the knight or crusader, the very
opposite of the founder of the Garter. In the sombre
and pertinacious industry with which his policy was


wrought out, he was a counterpart of Louis XI. His new
palace at Richmond was not like Plessis les Tours, where
Louis lived immured in an impregnable prison, with
crossbowmen on the walls to shoot at any one who ap-
proached ; but the inhabitant of Richmond, like the
inhabitant of Plessis les Tours, sat working assiduously
at the centre of a wide web of diplomacy and secret ser-
vice. Both of them, as well as Ferdinand of Aragon,
brought to perfection the espionage of which all three
had need. Henry was not, like Louis, treacherous or
cruel. He was only cold-blooded and unscrupulous. He
was ready to do what policy required ; to marry his son's
widow that he might not have to give back her dower, to
marry a lunatic that he might be master of Castile. If
he kidnapped the Earl of Suffolk it was because Suffolk
had a Yorkist claim. If he judicially murdered the Earl
of Warwick, it was because Warwick also had a Yorkist
claim, and Ferdinand of Aragon objected to giving his
daughter to Henry's heir while there was this cloud upon
the title. He treated Lambert Simnel with politic mag-
nanimity, making him a scullion in the royal kitchen,
where the pretender, as is said, would lie before the
fire like a dog among his dirty fellows. He would have
spared Perkin Warbeck if Warbeck would have remained
quiet in prison. For a king of those times he was mer-
ciful to the Cornish rebels and to defeated rebels in
1604 To prevent feudal mutiny from lifting its head again,
statutes were made against liveries, that is, the practice
of enlisting hosts of retainers with the badge of their
chief, such as Warwick's bear and ragged staff; and
against maintenance, or illicit combination for mutual


support in lawsuits and quarrels, by which a powerful
patron secured a following. These statutes were strictly
enforced, the more so as fines brought money to the
king's coffers. According to a story told by Bacon, the
king was leaving the house of the Earl of Oxford, whose
hospitality he had been tasting, when his eyes fell on
long rows of men in his host's livery drawn up to do him
honour at his departure. " These handsome gentlemen
and yeomen, my lord, whom I see on both sides of me are,
no doubt, your own servants ? " His host explained that
they were not, but most of them his retainers come to do
him service on the occasion, and chiefly to see the king.
'' By my faith, my lord," said the king, " I thank you for
my good cheer, but I may not endure to see my laws
broken in my sight. My attorney must speak with you."
The royal guest, according to the story, kept his word
and the host had to pay a heavy fine. The pecuniary
penalties of rebellion were exacted with the utmost
rigour. The less blood the king drew, says Bacon, the
more he took of treasure. Money, which might make
him independent of parliament, was his darling object, at
last his mania.

The Star Chamber, as it soon came to be called, has 1487
an evil name, and presently became an instrument of
tyranny. But as instituted or reorganized by Henry VII.
it may well have been a necessary instrument of order.
It was a court formed out of the council ; ultimately it
was the council itself sitting in the chamber which gave
it the name. It exercised a censorial guardianship of jus-
tice, the course of which at that time was obstructed and
overawed by local violence or influence too strong for the
courts, juries, and magistrates of the district. Its effect,


as Sir Thomas Smith, writing in the next generation, said,
was " To bridle such stout noblemen or gentlemen as
would offer wrong by force to any manner of men, and
would not be content to demand or defend the right by
order of the law." In the north especially, according to
the same writer, " It was marvellous necessary to repress
the insolency of noblemen or gentlemen, who, being far
from the king and the seat of justice, made almost, as it
were, an ordinary war among themselves, and made force
their law, binding themselves with their tenants and ser-
vants to do or avenge an injury among themselves as they
listed." Like martial law, the jurisdiction of the Star
Chamber might be warranted by the crisis. But it was
continued and extended as an engine of arbitrary and
reactionary government when the crisis was long past.
Juries were untrustworthy, they were packed, coerced, or
bribed ; and in facilitating appeals from their verdict in
criminal cases, or even superseding them by the royal
judges, which was the tendency of Henry's policy, a
king might think that he was promoting the interests of
justice. A law on this subject, however, which struck at
the life of jury trial, was allowed to lapse.

Unmixed good was assuredly done by the restriction of

1489 the impunity given by that clerical exemption from the
criminal law, of which Becket was the martyr, to clerical
crime, though the abuse was pared only, not abolished.
Not less laudable was the restriction of the privilege of

1487 asylum, now wholly mischievous, whatever it might have
been in the days of primeval violence and revenge. Such
measures were a proof at once of a bracing of the sinew
of public justice and of a disposition to curb ecclesiastical
power. The king, however, was orthodox and generally


devout. He bore himself like a dutiful son towards the
Father of Christendom, though the Father of Christen-
dom at the time was Alexander VI. ; he maintained the
heresy laws ; he sought canonization, though in vain, for
Henry VI. ; he contributed, though with reluctance and
sparingly, *to a crusade. The thaumaturgic power of the
church and her head, as keepers of the keys and dispen-
sers of the mystical sacl-aments, was sufficiently established
to survive their claim to moral respect and sustain at
least formal and ceremonial religion. Dispensations and
indulgences are still marketable. The price of relics has
not fallen. Pilgrimages are undertaken. Becket's shrine
is thronged with votaries. With the talk of voyages of
discovery is mingled the talk of crusades. Fine parish
churches are still being built, though they are perhaps
monuments of the growing wealth and the taste rather
than of the faith and piety of the towns. A church
was the great civic as well as religious edifice of those
days. For church architecture the parsimonious king
could open his coffers, as his beautiful chapel at West-
minster bears witness, though here with his religious feel-
ing would . be allied the love of art, which, it has been
remarked, was shown by him first of all the kings since
Henry III. He invited foreign artists to England.

Bacon has said of his model of kingcraft that Henry's
laws " were deep and not vulgar ; not made upon the
spur of a particular occasion for the present, but out of
providence for the future, to make the estate of his peo-
ple still more and more happy, after the manner of the
legislators in ancient and heroical times." Hallam will
not allow Henry this credit in the case of the statute of 1487
Fines, which is supposed to have given the power of


breaking the entails of land guarded by the enactment Be
Donis Conditionalihus of Edward I. The power of break-
ing the entails of land had already been given under
Edward IV., by a judgment which enabled a tenant in
tail, by means of a fictitious process called a common re-
covery, to divest his successors and become owner of the
fee simple. An estate tail was not forfeitable for trea-
son ; and the object of Edward's judges was probably to
remove that bar. Henry's Statute of Fines proves to be
only a transcript of a statute of Richard III. Hallam
holds that the real object was to quiet titles rendered
doubtful by troublous times. Yet any measure which
helped to break up the entailed estates of the great
nobles, whatever its immediate object, would fall in with
the policy of Henry VII., which was depression of the
old nobility. It would also increase the number of small
landowners and promote the growth of a yeomanry.

Henry could be a soldier. He commanded at Bosworth
and at Stoke. But his policy was diplomatic and pacific.
The foreign question of the day was that regarding
the duchy of Brittany, threatened with annexation and

1491 eventually annexed by Charles VIII. of France. The
spirit of the English people was stirred. They would
fain have saved an old ally, kept their foothold in
France, where they still dreamed of renewing the march
of conquest, and prevented the consolidation of that king-
dom. Henry used the outburst of national feeling to
raise money for war ; but while he retained the empty
title of king of France, he had no mind to repeat the
adventures of Edward III. and Henry V. His own
diplomacy was constantly directed to the preservation of

1492 peace. He made a show of war, but allowed himself to


be bought off by France. Thus, getting subsidies from
his subjects for war and indemnity from France for his
neutrality, he turned the situation both ways into cash.
The policy was not heroic, but it was better than a re-
newal of the feud with France and another diversion of
the national force to the wild pursuit of barren and short-
lived glories on an alien field. To prevent the consoli-
dation of France was hopeless. The counterpoise and
antidote was the consolidation of the island realm.
With Scotland, in spite of the reception of Perkin War-
beck by the Scottish king and Scottish raids on England,
Henry strove to make a lasting peace. The way was
opened by the sword ; but diplomacy at last prevailed and
the peace was sealed by the marriage of Henry's daughter 1^02
Margaret with the king of Scots, which paved the way
for the union of the crowns, and at last for the union of
the nations.

Diplomatic marriage was an art of statecraft not over-
looked by Henry, and in the case of the Scotch marriage
practised by him with good effect, though usually it is
weak, since when affection is sacrificed to policy, policy
will hardly be controlled by affection. Besides marrying
his daughter to the king of Scotland, Henry married his
son Arthur at fifteen to Catherine, a princess of Aragon, 1501
and when Arthur died he contracted her to his next son, 1501
Henry, then a boy of eleven ; rather than pay back her
dowry, it appears, he would have married her himself.

The Tudor monarchy rested on the middle classes,
which, in spite of the Wars of the Roses, had been all the
time gaining ground, and, being commercial and indus-
trial, welcomed after the civil war a strong government,
thinking less, for the time, of political liberty than of

VOL. I 19


liberty to ply the loom, speed the plough, grow the wool,
and spread the sail. A nation enriching itself in peace
and submissive to the fatherly rule of a wise king was
the ideal of the first Tudor. Rulers who pass for heroes
have had a worse.

The cities and towns had by this time fully bought or
found their way out of feudal thraldom ; they had won
the privilege of self-assessment to taxation, freedom from
feudal burdens, freedom from the tyranny of sheriffs,
the right of electing their own magistrates, govern-
ment by their own laws, judiciaries of their own, and the
status of little commonwealths each within its own walls.
Each wrought out for itself its own political salvation,
and was invested with political franchises, not, as in these
days, by a municipal reform Act but by a separate charter
of its own. Enfranchisement, it has been observed,
was won most easily from the crown, in whose do-
main the largest number and the most important of the
cities were, and which welcomed them as allies in its
struggle with the feudal nobility ; with greater difficulty
from the local lords, in whose eyes it was rather a ques-
tion of power and money than of policy ; with the great-
est difficulty from the ecclesiastical lords, who deemed
their properties and powers a sacred trust, and when
asked to part with them answered, like the pope at the
present day when asked to give up his temporal domin-
ions, with a pious non possumus. The vexatious and sor-
did litigation in which bishops and abbots were engaged
with citizens naturally of inquiring spirit contributed, in
fact, not a little to the doom now hanging over the
church. Each town formed its own municipal constitution
through a series of experiments, with struggles between


trade guilds and outsiders, between monopolists and in-
terlopers, between masters and workmen, between civic
oligarchies and democracies, resembling on a small scale
those which had made up the troublous and changeful
history of Florence. It was not in those days as it is in
these, when the leading traders live in villas out of the
city, or take no part in its government, which in
America is left to ward politicians. The Poles, Can-
nynges, and Whittingtons of the Plantagenet or Tudor era
lived in the city, sought its offices, guided its counsels,
led in its elections. A city now has little of unity ; it is
a densely peopled district requiring a scientific adminis-
tration. In those days it was a commonwealth with a
life and a patriotism of its own. Every citizen was
bound to the common service, in arms when the tocsin
called, in the duties of police, in public works, and in the
performance of official functions. Eustace De St. Pierre,
the heroic burgher of Calais, was more a patriot of his
city than of France, and when Calais had become English
was content to live under the conqueror. In England,
however, parliament kept the nation above the city in the
heart of the citizen. It is noted as a proof of the com-
parative facility with which in this free country the cities
won their franchises, that they never found it expedient,
like the cities in other countries, to form a confederation.
The only union was that of the Cinque Ports, which
formed a little maritime commonwealth specially charged
with naval defence, something like the counties palatine,
charged with defence against the Scotch and Welsh. The
town population had been swelled by the inflow of serfs,
on whom, by established custom, a year's residence within
the town's franchise conferred freedom. During the Wars


of the Roses the cities had perhaps received more drift of
this kind than they had desired. These additions helped
to form the commonalty with which a burgher aristocracy
contended for power. In most of the towns the aristo-
cracy had probably by this time gained the upper hand.
Apart from the mere influence of wealth, commerce was
the bread of these communities, and their affairs might
be best administered by the commercial chiefs, provided
those chiefs were honest men and could avoid the ten-
dency of oligarchies to corruption. There would thus be
a loss of public spirit and of local patriotism among the
citizens generally, and this would affect, through the
municipality, the political character of the nation. On
the other hand, there would be no municipal demagogism
to disturb the interests of industry and trade.

English manufactures and commerce were making way
and producing their effect on national character. England
was exporting cloth to the continental markets, especially
to those of northern Europe, chief among which was
the great fair of Novgorod. There were works of
iron, lead, tin, copper. There were budding manu-
factures of the finer kind, glass, carpets, lace. The
merchant navy was growing, and, instead of being
beholden to the Hanse, English goods were carried in
English bottoms. The sea in those days was still an
element outside law. Piracy was common and half
licensed. Mariners of different nations warred with
each other while their governments were at peace. To
trade in safety it was necessary to organize an associa-
tion strong enough to form a sea power. Such an asso-
ciation were the Merchant Adventurers of England, who,
not without displays of combative and irregular energy,


supplanted the old monopoly of the Staple and broke the
supremacy of the Hanse, which with its fortified quarter
in London had. long dominated English trade. The
foreign trader, through the middle ages, was treated
almost as an enemy, a deduction from the unity of papal

The king repaid the support which he received by
earnest attention to the interest of trade. He made
English policy the policy of a commercial and indus-
trial realm. His only wars were tariff wars, waged in
the spirit of medieval protectionism, but with the object
of pushing English trade, the cloth trade above all.
Instead of conquests he made commercial treaties, of
which this reign is a great epoch. Most renowned was
the commercial union with Flanders, the mart of English 1496
wool and unfinished cloth, called by grateful traders the
Intercursus Magnus. In this case diplomacy concurred
with commercial policy, Flanders being the breeding-
ground of Yorkist plots. But the same policy was
pursued towards the Scandinavian powers, and the
Spanish alliance brought freedom of trade with Spain.
Henry also framed for the encouragement of the mer-
chant navy the Navigation Act providing that English 1485,
goods should be carried in English ships. Attention
seems to have been turned to the opening of much needed
internal communication by the improvement of roads.
Henry at least left a legacy for the improvement of cer-
tain roads and bridges.

The king's policy was protectionist and vitiated by the
fallacies of that system, though he imported weavers to
teach the backward West their trade. It could not be
otherwise in those days. Yet with the growth of com-


merce, manufactures, and the desire of gain, competition
was gaining ground, and was beginning to loosen the
monopolist yoke of trade guilds. The decay of towns, of
which the preambles of statutes in the next reign com-
plain, has been ascribed to the flight of industry from
seats where it was not free.

In the voyages of discovery, which were a most memo-
rable feature of the age, the king took a frugal and
cautious part. He lent his countenance and a sparing
1496, measure of aid to the Cabots, who sailed on a voyage of
discovery from Bristol, the commercial capital of the
west. The application of John Cabot for Letters Patent
in favour of himself and his three sons, Louis, Sebastian,
and Sanctus, is the earliest document in the archives of
the colonial empire of Great Britain. The sunnier
regions had been pre-empted, but the Cabots discovered
probably the North American continent, certainly New-
foundland, which, wintry as it was, presented in its cod
fisheries a gold mine richer than those of Eldorado. It
is believed that the fisheries were frequented from the
time of the discovery by the mariners of Devonshire, a
venturous and half-piratical race, and that the trade built
up the prosperity of western England, while it must have
developed, by bracing effort, the masculine character of
the nation. Bristol, from which the Cabots sailed, was
the heart of maritime enterprise and discovery. The
cliief seat of trade was the east, with its estuary harbours
facing the continent. The seat of the iron trade was the
weald of Sussex, where there was wood in plenty to smelt
iron, which was not yet smelted with coal.

In the rural districts, as well as in the trading towns, a
middle class was gaining ground. Since the change in


the character of the manorial system from the feudal to
the proprietary, a yeomanry had grown up mainly of
tenant farmers, but in part of freeholders, like what has
been called the territorial democracy of the United States.
Villain tenure, though still " base " in the language of
law books and politically unenfranchised, had ceased to
be precarious. It had become a recognized tenure by
entry of the tenant's name in the rolls of the manorial
court, under the title of copyhold. In the next reign
Latimer in an often-quoted passage says of his father,
" My father was a yeoman, and had no lands of his own,
only he had a farm of three or four pound by year at the
uttermost, and hereupon he tilled so much as kept half-
a-dozen men. He had walk for a hundred sheep, and my
mother milked thirty kine. He was able and did find
the king a harness with himself and his horse. ... I
can remember that I buckled his harness when he went
unto Blackheath field. He kept me to school, or else I
had not been able to have preached before the king's
majesty now. He married my sisters with five pounds,
or twenty nobles apiece ; so that he brought them up in
godliness and fear of God. He kept hospitality for his
poor neighbours and some alms he gave to the poor ; and
all this he did of the said farm." To the king's policy of
material progress old Latimer's homestead was indebted
for its freedom from feudal violence and from feudal calls
to the battlefield, with leave to sow and reap in peace,
while the benefit of the Intercursus Magnus was felt by
the walk for a hundred sheep.

Though Edward IV. had been not less powerful than
the Tudor, his power ended with his life, and the usurper
who succeeded him had been fain to court the people.


The monarchy was placed by Henry VII. and by the
powerful minister who ruled during the first part of the
next reign on a firm and enduring basis. Absolute it
never was in form nor entirely in fact. Five checks have
been reckoned ; the control of parliament over taxa-
tion, its legislative authority, the security given to per-
sonal liberty by Habeas Corpus, the liability of royal
officers to suit or impeachment, and jury trial. With-
out parliament no regular tax was ever levied, and
the benevolences or forced loans to which kings had
recourse were evasions, not denials of the principle.
The fifth check, jury trial, was reduced to a form in
cases where the crown had an interest, especially in cases
of treason, by the practice of brow-beating and fining
juries. Habeas Corpus was set at naught by arbitrary
imprisonment. Prosecution or impeachment of royal
officers was hopeless unless the king gave the word. The
use of torture to extort confession had apparently been
introduced under the camarilla, in the reign of Henry VI.,
though the first recorded case is under Edward IV. It
became customary, though it was never legalized, in con-
nection with state trials before the privy council or the
Star Chamber under the Tudors. An independent judi-
ciary, the grand security for public and private right,
there could not be when the judges were appointed by
the crown, were paid by it, and held their offices during
its pleasure. Yet professional duty or spirit triumphed
in some degree over the servility of the legal placeman,
and the common law, that is, the custom of the realm
preserved and interpreted by the judges, may be reck-
oned among the checks upon arbitrary rule. Another
check was the absence of a standing army, or any regular


force except the yeomen of the guard and the garrisons
of Calais and the royal castles. The fact is remark-
able and shovA^s, no doubt, that in the main the Tudor
monarchy met the temporary need and commanded the
allegiance of the nation. This, indeed, is the birthday
of loyalty in the sense of personal devotion to the crown.
But it must be remembered that the crown had the sinews
of war in its hands, and could quickly raise forces ; that
it had commanders ready, and the only train of artillery
at its service ; while in the country generally, except
in the north, military feudalism was dead, its troops of
retainers had been disbanded, and the lord had subsided
into the land-owner with the phraseology of lordship in
his title-deeds. But the greatest check of all on despot-
ism was the spirit of the nation, still unextinguished, and
sustained by food and other material conditions which
English writers proudly contrast with the scanty fare

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