William Stubbs.

The constitutional history of England in its origin and development, Volume 3 online

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KTievanoes rations; the great crisis of the constitutional history tamed,

dynMtic or seemed to turn, on points rather of dynastic than of social
importance. But whilst town and country, clergy, nobles, and
commons, were alike divided, house against house, family
against family, bishop against bishop, man against wife, we
can see in the attempts made by the two rival factions to turn
the social divisions to account, that the social divisions were
scarcely less deep and wide than they had been in the days
of Wat Tyler and Jack Straw. The anti-Lancastrian party in
the reign of Henry IV courted the Lollards in and out of
parliament; the Lancastrian House fortified itself in the support
of the clergy, until the duke of York, by appointing Bourcbier
to the primacy, divided the camp of the bishops. The Mortimer
interest was put forward as an excuse for popular disturbances
as well as for court intrigues and political conspiracies, in so
much that, even when the duke of York had united in his own
person the claims of indefeasible hereditary right and popular
championship, the name of Mortimer continued to be the
watchword of disafiPection. It is true that, like almost every-
thing else but dynastic hatred, the social causes worked with
diminished strength in the general attenuation and exhaustion
of national vitality. But they certainly subsisted, and exercised
a secondary influence, widening, perhaps, and deepening
unseen, in preparation for the ages in which they would
work with greater intensity and with fewer extrinsic incom-
brances. A nation that seems to be perishing takes less heed
of the minor causes of ruin, although they may be still acutely
felt by individuals and classes of sufferers.
Close of the 498. And here our survey, too general and too discursive
middle ages, p^^haps to have been wisely attempted, must draw to its close.
The historian turns his back on the middle ages with a brighter
hope for the future, but not without regrets for what he is
leaving. He recognises the law of the pn^press of this world,
in which the evil and debased elements are so closely inter-
mingled with the noble and the beautiful, that, in the assured
march of good, much that is noble and beautiful must needs

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XXI.] National Character. 613

share the fate of the evil and dehased. If it were not for the Marks of a
conviction that, however prolific and progressive the evil may tiSsition.
have been, the power of good is. more progressive and more pro-
lific, the chronicler of a system that seems to be vanishing might
lay down his pen with a heavy heart. The most enthusiastic
admirer of medieval life must grant that all that was good
and great in it was languishing even to death ; and the firmest
believer in progress must admit that as yet there were few
signs of returning health. The sun of the Plaatagenets went
down in clouds and thick darkness ; the coming of the Tudore
gave as yet no promise of light; it was 'as the morning spread
upon the mountains,' darkest before the dawn.

The natural inquiry, how the fifteenth century affected the Little light
development of national character, deserves an attempt at anoharaoter.
answer ; but it can be little more than an attempt ; for very little
light is thrown upon it by the life and genius of great men. With
the exception of Henry V, English history can show throughout
the age no man who even aspires to greatness ; and the greatness
of Henry V is not of a sort that is peculiar to the age or distinc-
tive of a stage of national life. His personal idiosyncrasy was
that of a hero in no heroic age. Of the best of the minor No sreat
workers none rises beyond mediocrity of character or achieve-
ment. Bedford was a wise and noble statesman, but his whole
career was a hopeless &ilure. Gloucester's character had no
element of greatness at all. Beaufort, by his long life, high
rank, wealth, experience and ability, held a position almost
unrivalled in Europe, but he was neither successful nor dis-
interested ; fair and honest and enlightened as his policy may
have been, neither at the time nor ever since has the world looked
upon him as a benefactor; he appears in history as a lesser
"Wolsey, — a hard sentence perhaps, but one which is justified by
the general condition of the world in which the two cardinals
had to play their part ; Beaufort was the great minister of an
expiring system, Wolsey of an age of grand transitions. Among
the other clerical administrators of the age, Kemp and Waynflete
were faithful, honest, enlightened, but quite unequal to the diffi-
4ailties of their position ; and besides them there are absolutely

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6x4 Constitutional History. [chap.

Warwick ^one that come within even the second class of greatness as
baromai usefdl men. It is the same with the harons : such greatness
^^^ as there is amongst them, — and the greatness of Warwick is the

climax and type of it, — is more conspicuous in evil than in good.
In the classes heneath the haronage, as we have them pourtrayed
in the Paston Letters, we see more of violence, chicanery and
greed, than of anything else. Faithful attachment to the feiction
which, from hereditary or personal liking, they have determined
to maintain, is the one redeeming feature, and it is one which
by itself may produce as much evil as good ; that nation is in
an evil plight in which the sole redeeming quality b one that
General owes its existence to a deadly disease. All else is languishing :
literature literature has reached the lowest depths of dulness; religion,
an reiigio ^ ^^^ ^ .^ chief results are traceable, has sunk, on the one
hand into a dogma fenced about with walls which its defenders
cannot pass either inward or outward, on the other hand into
a mere war cry of the cause of destruction. Between the two
lies a narrow borderland of pious and cultivated mysticism, £eu:
too fastidious to do much for the world around. Yet here, as
everywhere else, the dawn is approaching. Here, as everywhere
ebe, the evil is destroying itself, and the remaining good, lying
deep down and having yet to wait long before it reaches the
sur&ce, is already striving toward the sunlight that is to come.
The good is to come out of the evil ; the evil is to compel its
own remedy; the good does not spring from it, but is drawn
up through it. In the history of nations, as of men, every good
and perfect gift is from above ; the new life strikes down in the
old root ; there is no generation from corruption.
^■^^^p^^ 499. So we turn our hack on the age of chivalry, of ideal
history. heroism, of picturesque castles and glorious churches and
pageants, camps, and tournaments, lovely charity and gallant
self-sacrifice, with their dark shadows of dynastic faction, bloody
conquest^ grievous misgovemance, local tyrannies, plagues and
famines unhelped and unaverted, hoUowness of pomp, disease
and dissolution. The charm which the relics of medieval art
have woven around the later middle ages must be, resolutely, ruth*
lessly, broken. The attenuated life of the later middle ages is in

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XXI.] Age of Transition. 615

thorough discrepaDcj with the grand coneeptions of the earlier Featurea of
times. The thread of national life is not to be broken, but thetnuuntion.
earlier strands are to be sought out and bound together and
strengthened with threefold union for the new work. But it
will be a work of time ; the forces newly liberated by the shock
of the Beformation will not at once cast off the foulness of the
strata through which they have passed before they reached the
higher air : much will be destroyed that nught well have been
conserved, and some new growths will be encouraged that ought
to have been checked. In the new world, as in the old, the
tares are mingled with the wheat. In the destruction and in the
growth alike will be seen the great features of difference between
the old and the new.

The printing press is an apt emblem or embodiment of the niustration
change. Hitherto men have spent their labour on a few books, printinK
written by the few for the few, with elaborately chosen material, ^^^^
in consummately beautiful penmanship, painted and emblazoned
as if each one were a distinct labour of love, each manuscript
unique, precious, the result of most careful individual training,
and destined for the complete enjoyment of a reader educated up
to the point at which he can appreciate its beauty. Henceforth
books are to be common things. For a time the sanctity of the
older forms will hang about the printing press ; the magpuficent
volumes of Fust and Colard Mansion will still recal the beauty
of the manuscript, and art will lavish its treasures on the em-
bellishment of the libraries of the great. Before long printing
will be cheap, and the unique or special beauty of the early
presses will have departed ; but light will have come into every
house, and that which was the luxury of the few will have be-
come the indispensable requisite of every family.

With the multiplication of books comes the rapid exten- illustration
sion and awakening of mental activity. As it is with thetuiS^**""
form so with the matter. The men of the decadence, not
less than the men of the renaissance, were giants of leiun-
ing : they read and assimilated the contents of every known
book ; down to the very dose of the era the able theologian
would press into the service of his commentary or his summa

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6i6 Constitutional History. [chap.

Traiisitfon in every preceding commentary or eomma with gigantic labour,
and with an acuteness which, notwithstanding that it was ill-
trained and misdirected, is in the eyes of the desultory reader
of modem times little less than miraculous : the books were
rare, but the accomplished scholar had worked through them
all. Outside his little world all was comparatively dark. Here
too the change was coming. Scholarship was to take a new
form; intensity of critical power, devoted to that which was
worth criticising, was to be substituted as the characteristic of
a learned man for the indiscriminating voracity of the earlier
learning. The multiplication of books would make such scho-
larship as that of Vincent of Beauvais, or Thomas Aquinas, or
Gerson, or Torquemada, an impossibility. Still there would be
giants like Scaliger and Casaubon, men who culled the fair
flower of all learning, critical as the new scholars, comprehen-
sive as the old; reserved for the patronage of sovereigns and
nations, and periehing when they were neglected like the beau-
tiful books of the early printers. But they are a minor feature

Difftwon in the new picture. The real change is that by which every
man comes to be a reader and a thinker ; the Bible comes to
every family, and each man is priest in his own household. The
light is not so brilliant, but it is everywhere, and it shines more
and more unto the perfect day. It is a false sentiment that
leads men in their admiration of the unquestionable glory of
the old culture to undervalue the abundant wealth and growing
glory of the new.

iihistration The parallel holds good in other matters besides books.

tectureand He IB a rash man who would with one word of apology com-

inventiont. pare the noble architecture of the middle ages with the mean
and commonplace type of building into which by a steady
decline our churches, palaces, and streets had sunk at the
beginning of the present century. Here too the splendour of
the few has been exchanged for the comfort of the many ; and,
although perhaps in no description of culture has the break
between the old and the new been more conspicuous than in
this, it may be said that the many are now far more capable
of appreciating the beauty which they will try to rival, than ever

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XXI.] Lessons of History. ~ 617

the few were of comprehending the value of that which they were Emblemt of
losing. But it is needless to multiply illustrations of a truth ^^
which is exemplified by every new invention : the steam plough
and the sewing machine are less picturesque, and call for a less
educated eye than that of the ploughman and the sempstress,
but they produce more work with less waste of energy ; they
give more leisure and greater comfort ; they call out, in the
production and improvement of their mechanism, a higher and
more widely-spread culture. And all these things are growing
instead of decaying.

500. To conclude with a few of the commonplaces which Concluding
must be familiar to all who have approached the study ofthestudjof
history with a real desire to understand it, but which are apt to
strike the writer more forcibly at the end than at the beginning
of his work. However much we may be inclined to set aside
the utilitarian plan of studying our subject, it cannot be denied
that we must read the origin and development of our Con-
stitutional History chiefly with the hope of educating ourselves
into the true reading of its later fortunes, and so train ourselves
for a judicial examination of its evidences, a fair and equitable
estimate of the rights and wrongs of policy, dynasty, and party.
Whether we intend to take the position of a judge or the posi- a training
tion of an advocate, it is most necessary that both the critical of mn^trov^
insight should be cultivated, and the true circumstances of the* °^*^^^'
questions that arise at later stages should be adequately ex-
plored. The man who would rightly learn the lesson that the
seventeenth century has to teach, must not only know what
Charles thought of Cromwell and what Cromwell thought of
Charles, but must try to understand the real questions at issue,
not by reference to an ideal standard only, but by tracing the
historical growth of the circumstances in which those questions
arose : he must try to look at them as it might be supposed that
the great actors would have looked at them, if Cromwell had suc-
ceeded to the burden which Charles inherited, or if Charles had
taken up the part of the hero of reform. In such an attitude
it is quite unnecessary to exclude party feeling or personal
sympathy. Whichever way the sentiment may incline, the truths

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6i8 Constitutional History. [chap.

BMpeptftn* the whole truth and nothing but the truth, is what history
both liie^ would extract from her witnesses : the truth which leaves no
pitfalls for unwary advocates, and which is in the end the fairest
measure of equity to all. In the reading of that history we have
to deal with high-minded men, with zealous enthusiastic parties,
of whom it cannot be fairly said that one was less sincere in his
belief in his own cause than was the other. They called each
other hypocrites and deceivers, for each held his own views so
strongly that he could not conceive of the other as sincere. But to
us they are both of them true and sincere, whichever way our
Tnininff sympathies or our sentiments incline. We bring to the reading of
stui^y of ^ their acts a judgment which has been trained through the Refor-
1^^, mation history to see rights and wrongs on both sides, sometimes
to see the balance of wrong on that side whidi we believe, which
we know, to be the right. We come to the Beformation history
from the reading of the gloomy period to which the pres^it
volume has been devoted ; a worn-out helpless age, that calls for
pity without sympathy, and yet balances weariness with something
like regrets. Modem thought is a little prone to eclecticism in
history: it can sympathise with puritanism as an effort after
freedom, and put out of sight the fact that puritanism was itself
a grinding social tyranny, that wrought out its ends by un-
scrupulous detraction and by the profane handling of tilings which
should have been sacred even to the fanatic if he really believed
Two parties in the cause for which he raged. There is little real sympathy
ing of later' with the great object, the peculiar creed that was oppressed; as
a struggle for liberty the Quarrel of Puritanism takes its stand
besides the Quarrel on the Investitures ; yet like every other
stru^le for liberty, it ended in being a struggle for suprenuu^.
On the other hand, the system of Laud and of Charles seems to
many minds to contain so much that is good and sacred, that
the means by which it was maintained fall into the backgroozid.
We would not judge between the two theories which have been
nursed by the prejudices of ten generations. To one side
liberty, to the other law, will continue to outweigh all other
considerations of disputed and detailed right or wrong: it is
enough for each to look at them as the actors themselves looked

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XXI.] Conclusion, 619

at them, or as men look at party questions of their own day,
when much of private conviction and personal feeling most be
sacrificed to save those broader principles for which only great
parties can be made to strive.

The historian looks with actual pain upon many of these things. Pblitical
Especially in quarrels where religion is concerned, the hollowness
of the pretension to political honesty becomes a stumblingblock in
the way of fair judgment. We know that no other causes hav6
ever created so great and bitter struggles, have brought into the
field, whether of war or controversy, greater and more united
armies. Yet no truth is more certain than this, that the real
motives of religious action do not work on men in masses;
and that the enthusiasm which creates Crusaders, Inquisitors,
Hussites, Puritans, is not the result of conviction, but of
passion provoked by oppression or resistance, maintained by
seHwill, or stimulated by the mere desire of victory. And this
is a lesson for all time, and for practical life as well as historical
judgment. And on the other hand it is impossible to regard
this as an adequate solution of the problem : there must be
something, even if it be not religion or liberty, for which men
will make so great sacrifices.

The best aspect of an age of controversy must be sought inThelivMor
the lives of the best men, whose honesty carries conviction to iUurtmte
the understanding, whilst their zeal kindles the zeal, of theieMmof^
many. A study of the lives of such men will lead to the con-^^^*^*
elusion thaty in spite of intemeeine hostility in act, the real
and truB leaders had far more in common than they knew of;
they struggled, in the dark or in the twilight, against the evil
which was there, and which they hated with equal sincerity;
they fought for the good which was there, and whidi really was
strengthened by the issue of the strife. Their blows fell at
random: men perished in arms against one another whose
hearts were set on the same end and aim ; and that good end
and aim which neither of them had seen clearly was the in-
heritance they left to their children, made possible and realised
not so much by the victory of one as by the truth and self-
sacrifice of both.

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620 Constitutioial Hisiory.

At the close of so long a book, the author may be suffered to
moralise. His end will have been gained if he has succeeded
in helping to train the judgment of his readers to discern the
balance of truth and reality, and, whether they go on to further
reading with the aspirations of the advocate or the calmness of
the critic, to rest content with nothing less than the attainable
maximum of truth, to base their arguments on nothing leas
sacred than that highest justice which is found in the deepest
sympathy with erring and straying men.


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Abbots, in witenagemot, i. 125.

— in parliament, i. 569 ; iii. 403, 443-

— appointment of, ui. 317.

— homage of, ii. 201, 202.
Accounts, audit of^ ii. 560, 564-568 ;

iii. 54, 119, 267.

Acoursi, Fnmcesco, ii. 107, 262, 264.

Adalbard, his account ot the Frank
aenemblies, L 122, 123.

Adaling, i. 53.

Admiral, title of^ ii. 288; appoint-
ment of, ii. 288, 289.

Admiralty, origin of, ii. 289.

Adolf^ of Nassau, king of the Romans,
ii. 365. 366.

Adriui IV, pope, i. 558 ; iii. 292.

Aids, i. 382-384 ; regulated by
Magna Carta, i. 533, 534; by the
Confirmatio Cartarum, ii. 142 itq. ;
continuance of, during the fourteenth
century, ii. 521, 522.

Alemanni, i. 37, 59, 63, 127.

Alexander II, pope, i. 282, 287.

Alexander III, pope, iii. 292, 294, 304,


Alexander IV, his negotiations with
Henry HI, ii. 70, 84.

Alfred, his translation of Bede, i. 70
tq. ; the traditional creator of the
hundreds, i. 99 ; his legislation, i.
127, 195 ; his restoration of learn-
ing, L 238 ; his military system, i.
14, 191, 193 ; his peace with
Outhrum, i. 197, 199; his pro-
vincial jurisdiction, i. 391, 441 ;
reputed inventor of trial by jury,
L 612 ; proposal to canonise, iii.

AUenation of land, restrained, ii. 1 79 ;
by fine, ii. 370; restrictions on,
evaded, iii. 552.

Alien priories, iii. 47, 82.

Aliens, legislation against, ii. 78, 79 ;
iu. 43.

Aliens, taxation of, iii. 100, 124, 128,
143, 163, 219.

Alod, i. 53, 55, 74, 75. 76, 130, 189.

Amercements, regulated, i. 535 ; ii.
109 ; harshly inflicted, ii. 74.

Amiens, Mise of, ii. 87, 88.

Angel-cynn, i. 166.

Angli, in Germany, i. 39, 40; their
migration, i. 65.

Angliffi, rex, title assumed, i. 553. 563.

Anglii et Werini, i. 47.

Antrustion, i. 124, 154, 255.

Appeals to Bome, iii. 346-351.

Appropriation of grants of money,
ii. 565 ; iii. 264, 265.

Archbishops, secular power of, i. 221 ;
right of coining, ih.

Archdeacon, office o^ i. 233, 234, 244.

Armies, Anglo-Saxon, i. 189-194,
431-434, 587-592; of Henry II
and his sons, i. 589-592 ; of Ed-
ward T, ii. 276 aq. ; of Edward IV
and Richard III, iii. 278-2S0.

Arms, assize of, i. 488, 573, 585 ; its
importance, i. 591, 592; ii. 210,

Array, commissions of, ii. 284* 285,
370, 396. 4«>»» 539-543; iii- 262,

Arrest, freedom from, iii. 489-498.

Arundel, William of Albini, earl of,
i. 478, 569 ; of the county of Sussex,
i. 569.

— William, earl of, ii. 15.

— Edmund Fitzalan, earl ot ii> 337 ;
refuses to follow Edward II to war,
ii* 337 ; supports him in 1326, iL
359 ; beheaded, ii. 360.

— Richard Fitzalan, earl of, ii. 432,
442, 448 ; enmity of, to Barley, ii.
464 ; success at sea, ii. 465 ; joins
the baronial opposition, ii. 469;
a commissioner in 1 386, ii. 476 ;
attempt to arrest, ii. 478; one of
the appellants, ii. 479 ; of the coun-

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cil, ii. 486 ; liis quarrel with John
of Gaunt, ii. 489; with the king,
ii. 490; withdraws from court, ii.
493 ; arrested, ii. 494 ; tried and
beheaded, ii. 495.
Arundel, Thomas, earl of Arundel and
Surrey, iii. 16, 50; commands in
France, iii. 79 ; is lord treasurer,
iii. 76.

— Thomas, archbishop of Canterbury ;
bishop of Ely, ii. 470 ; remonstrates
with Richard, ii. 473 ; diancellor,
ii. 474 ; archbishop of York, ii.
481 ; archbishop of Ganterbuiy, ii.
485 ; impeached, ii. 495; transkted
to S. Andrew's, iL 497 ; returns,
ii' 501, 502 ; places Henry lY on
the throne, ii. 506 ; preaches on the
occasion, iii la, 14; discusses
Richard's fate, iii. ao; has damages
from Walden, iiL 33 ; restored by
a papal act, iii. 25 ; legislates
against the Lollards, iiL 31, 32 ;
repels the attacks of the knights,
iii. 42 ; urges the king against the
Iiollards, iii. 46; purges himself^
iii. 48 ; intercedes for Scrope,' iii.

! 50, 51 ; in parliament of 1406, iii.
53 ; his hostility to the Beauforts,
iii. 59 ; moves against the Lollards,
in convocation, iii. 62 ; forbids un-
authorised translations of the Bible,
6^» 63; chancellor again, iii. 69;
displaced, iiL 76; renews the per-
secution of the Lollards, iii. 78 aq. ;
dies, iii. 80; his constitutional
speeches, iii. 238, 239.

Ascough, William, bishop of Salis*
bury, murdered, iii. 152.

Assize, the great, L 511, 599, 615,

— of arms. L 488, 573, 585' 591,
592 ; iL 280.

— of Clarendon, L 103, 467-469, 484,
573. 574* 599. ^15. 618; iLio7.

— of Northampton, L 483, 573, 615,
618; iL 107.

— of Woodstock, L 489. 51 1, 573.

— of measures, L 509, 573.

— form of legislation bv, i. 573.

— procedure under, i. 016, 617.

— justices of, ii. 271 ; claim of the
commons to regulate, ii. 608; to
take cognisance of elections, iii.
257. 258. 433.

Athelstan, king, i, 87, 115, 125, 173,

205, 239 ; rex Anglorum, i. 173.
Attainder, bills o^ iii. 178, 196, 266,

Audley, Hugh o^ husband of one of
the Gloucester heiresses, iL 340,

Online LibraryWilliam StubbsThe constitutional history of England in its origin and development, Volume 3 → online text (page 63 of 68)