..[Transcriber's note: Obvious printer's errors have been corrected. The original spelling has been retained.]
BY THE SAME AUTHOR.
FROM THE ACCESSION OF EDWARD VI. TO THE DEATH OF ELIZABETH (1547-1603). (Political History of England, Vol. VI.). With 2 Maps.
THE COMMONWEALTH AT WAR. 8vo.
THE WAR: ITS HISTORY AND MORALS. 8vo.
THE REIGN OF HENRY VII. FROM CONTEMPORARY SOURCES. Selected and arranged with an Introduction. Crown 8vo.
Vol. I. Narrative Extracts. Vol. II. Constitutional, Social, and Economic History. Vol. III. Diplomacy, Ecclesiastical Affairs and Ireland.
* * * * *
UNIVERSITY OF LONDON INTERMEDIATE SOURCE-BOOKS OF HISTORY.
ILLUSTRATIONS OF CHAUCER'S ENGLAND. Edited by MISS DOROTHY HUGHES. With a Preface by A.F. POLLARD, M.A., Litt.D., Fellow of All Souls, and Professor of English History in the University of London. Crown 8vo.
ENGLAND UNDER THE YORKISTS. 1460-1485. Illustrated from Contemporary Sources by ISOBEL D. THORNLEY, M.A., Assistant in the Department of History, University College, London. With a Preface by A.F. POLLARD, M.A., Litt.D. Crown 8vo.
LONGMANS, GREEN AND CO., LONDON, NEW YORK, BOMBAY, CALCUTTA, AND MADRAS.
A.F. POLLARD, M.A.
Professor Of Constitutional History At University College, London; Examiner In Modern History In The Universities Of Oxford And London; Author Of "A Life Of Cranmer," "England Under Protector Somerset," Etc., Etc.
LONGMANS, GREEN AND CO 39 PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON FOURTH AVENUE & 30th STREET, NEW YORK BOMBAY, CALCUTTA, AND MADRAS 1919
First published by Messrs. Goupil & Co. in June, 1902, with numerous illustrations. New Edition, May, 1905. Reprinted, January, 1913, and October, 1919.
PREFACE. (p. v)
It is perhaps a matter rather for regret than for surprise that so few attempts have been made to describe, as a whole, the life and character of Henry VIII. No ruler has left a deeper impress on the history of his country, or done work which has been the subject of more keen and lasting contention. Courts of law are still debating the intention of statutes, the tenor of which he dictated; and the moral, political, and religious, are as much in dispute as the legal, results of his reign. He is still the Great Erastian, the protagonist of laity against clergy. His policy is inextricably interwoven with the high and eternal dilemma of Church and State; and it is well-nigh impossible for one who feels keenly on these questions to treat the reign of Henry VIII. in a reasonably judicial spirit. No period illustrates more vividly the contradiction between morals and politics. In our desire to reprobate the immorality of Henry's methods, we are led to deny their success; or, in our appreciation of the greatness of the ends he achieved, we seek to excuse the means he took to achieve them. As with his policy, so with his character. (p. vi) There was nothing commonplace about him; his good and his bad qualities alike were exceptional. It is easy, by suppressing the one or the other, to paint him a hero or a villain. He lends himself readily to polemic; but to depict his character in all its varied aspects, extenuating nothing nor setting down aught in malice, is a task of no little difficulty. It is two centuries and a half since Lord Herbert produced his Life and Reign of Henry VIII. The late Mr. Brewer, in his prefaces to the first four volumes of the Letters and Papers of the Reign of Henry VIII., published under the direction of the Master of the Rolls, dealt adequately with the earlier portion of Henry's career. But Mr. Brewer died when his work reached the year 1530; his successor, Dr. James Gairdner, was directed to confine his prefaces to the later volumes within the narrowest possible limits; and students of history were deprived of the prospect of a satisfactory account of Henry's later years from a writer of unrivalled learning.
[Footnote 1: The edition cited in the text is that of 1672.]
Henry's reign, from 1530 onwards, has been described by the late Mr. Froude in one of the most brilliant and fascinating masterpieces of historical literature, a work which still holds the field in popular, if not in scholarly, estimation. But Mr. Froude does not begin until Henry's reign was half over, until his character had been determined by influences and events which lie outside the scope of Mr. (p. vii) Froude's inquiry. Moreover, since Mr. Froude wrote, a flood of light has been thrown on the period by the publication of the above-mentioned Letters and Papers; they already comprise a summary of between thirty and forty thousand documents in twenty thousand closely printed pages, and, when completed, will constitute the most magnificent body of materials for the history of any reign, ancient or modern, English or foreign. Simultaneously there have appeared a dozen volumes containing the State papers preserved at Simancas, Vienna and Brussels and similar series comprising the correspondence relating to Venice, Scotland and Ireland; while the despatches of French ambassadors have been published under the auspices of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs at Paris. Still further information has been (p. viii) provided by the labours of the Historical Manuscripts Commission, the Camden, the Royal Historical, and other learned Societies.
[Footnote 2: This series, unlike the Calendars of State Papers, includes documents not preserved at the Record Office; it is often inaccurately cited as Calendar of State Papers, but the word "Calendar" does not appear in the title and it includes much besides State papers; such a description also tends to confuse it with the eleven volumes of Henry VIII.'s State papers published in extenso in 1830-51. The series now extends to Dec., 1544, and is cited in the text as L. and P..]
[Footnote 3: Cited as Spanish Calendar; the volume completing Henry's reign was published in 1904.]
[Footnote 4: Cited as Ven. Cal.; this correspondence diminishes in importance as the reign proceeds, and also, after 1530, the documents are epitomised afresh in L. and P..]
[Footnote 5: Three series, viz., that edited by Thorp (2 vols., 1858), a second edited by Bain (2 vols., 1898) and the Hamilton Papers (2 vols., 1890-92).]
[Footnote 6: Vol. i. of the Irish Calendar, and also of the Carew MSS.; see also the Calendar of Fiants published by the Deputy-Keeper of Records for Ireland.]
[Footnote 7: Correspondance de MM. Castillon et Marillac, edited by Kaulek, and of Odet de Selve, 1888.]
[Footnote 8: The most important of these is vol. i. of Lord Salisbury's MSS.; other papers of Henry VIII.'s reign are scattered up and down the Appendices to a score and more of reports.]
[Footnote 9: E.g., Wriothesley's Chronicle, Chron. of Calais, and Greyfriars Chron.]
[Footnote 10: E.g., Leadam, Domesday of Inclosures, and Transactions, passim.]
These sources probably contain at least a million definite facts relating to the reign of Henry VIII.; and it is obvious that the task of selection has become heavy as well as invidious. Mr. Froude has expressed his concurrence in the dictum that the facts of history are like the letters of the alphabet; by selection and arrangement they can be made to spell anything, and nothing can be arranged so easily as facts. Experto crede. Yet selection is inevitable, and arrangement essential. The historian has no option if he wishes to be intelligible. He will naturally arrange his facts so that they spell what he believes to be the truth; and he must of necessity suppress those facts which he judges to be immaterial or inconsistent with the scale on which he is writing. But if the superabundance of facts compels both selection and suppression, it counsels no less a restraint of judgment. A case in a court of law is not simplified by a cloud of witnesses; and the new wealth of contemporary evidence (p. ix) does not solve the problems of Henry's reign. It elucidates some points hitherto obscure, but it raises a host of others never before suggested. In ancient history we often accept statements written hundreds of years after the event, simply because we know no better; in modern history we frequently have half a dozen witnesses giving inconsistent accounts of what they have seen with their own eyes. Dogmatism is merely the result of ignorance; and no honest historian will pretend to have mastered all the facts, accurately weighed all the evidence, or pronounced a final judgment.
The present volume does not profess to do more than roughly sketch Henry VIII.'s more prominent characteristics, outline the chief features of his policy, and suggest some reasons for the measure of success he attained. Episodes such as the divorce of Catherine of Aragon, the dissolution of the monasteries, and the determination of the relations between Church and State, would severally demand for adequate treatment works of much greater bulk than the present. On the divorce valuable light has recently been thrown by Dr. Stephan Ehses in his Roemische Dokumente. The dissolution of the monasteries has been exhaustively treated from one point of view by Dr. Gasquet; but an adequate and impartial history of what is called the Reformation still remains to be written. Here it is possible to deal with (p. x) these questions only in the briefest outline, and in so far as they were affected by Henry's personal action. For my facts I have relied entirely on contemporary records, and my deductions from these facts are my own. I have depended as little as possible even on contemporary historians, and scarcely at all on later writers. I have, however, made frequent use of Dr. Gairdner's articles in the Dictionary of National Biography, particularly of that on Henry VIII., the best summary extant of his career; and I owe not a little to Bishop Stubbs's two lectures on Henry VIII., which contain some fruitful suggestions as to his character. A.F. POLLARD. PUTNEY, 11th January, 1905.
[Footnote 11: Paderborn, 1893; cf. Engl. Hist. Rev., xix., 632-45.]
[Footnote 12: Henry VIII. and the English Monasteries, 2 vols., 1888.]
[Footnote 13: Of these the most important are Polydore Vergil (Basel, 1534), Hall's Chronicle (1548) and Fabyan's Chronicle (edited by Ellis, 1811). Holinshed and Stow are not quite contemporary, but they occasionally add to earlier writers on apparently good authority.]
[Footnote 14: I have in this edition added references to those which seem most important; for a collected bibliography see Dr. Gairdner in Cambridge Modern History, ii., 789-94. I have also for the purpose of this edition added references to the original sources—a task of some labour when nearly every fact is taken from a different document. The text has been revised, some errors removed, and notes added on special points, especially those on which fresh light has recently been thrown.]
[Footnote 15: In Lectures on Mediaeval and Modern History, 1887.]
CONTENTS. (p. xi)
CHAPTER I. Page The Early Tudors 1
Prince Henry and His Environment 15
The Apprenticeship of Henry VIII. 43
The Three Rivals 78
King and Cardinal 108
From Calais to Rome 136
The Origin of the Divorce 173
The Pope's Dilemma 195
CHAPTER IX. (p. xii)
The Cardinal's Fall 228
The King and His Parliament 249
"Down with the Church" 278
"The Prevailing of the Gates of Hell" 302
The Crisis 331
Rex et Imperator 362
The Final Struggle 397
CHAPTER I. (p. 001)
THE EARLY TUDORS.
In the whole range of English history there is no monarch whose character has been more variously depicted by contemporaries or more strenuously debated by posterity than the "majestic lord who broke the bonds of Rome". To one historian an inhuman embodiment of cruelty and vice, to another a superhuman incarnation of courage, wisdom and strength of will, Henry VIII. has, by an almost universal consent, been placed above or below the grade of humanity. So unique was his personality, so singular his achievements, that he appears in the light of a special dispensation sent like another Attila to be the scourge of mankind, or like a second Hercules to cleanse, or at least to demolish, Augean stables. The dictates of his will seemed as inexorable as the decrees of fate, and the history of his reign is strewn with records of the ruin of those who failed to placate his wrath. Of the six queens he married, two he divorced, and two he beheaded. Four English cardinals lived in his reign; one perished by the executioner's axe, one escaped it by absence, and a third (p. 002) by a timely but natural death. Of a similar number of dukes half were condemned by attainder; and the same method of speedy despatch accounted for six or seven earls and viscounts and for scores of lesser degree. He began his reign by executing the ministers of his father, he continued it by sending his own to the scaffold. The Tower of London was both palace and prison, and statesmen passed swiftly from one to the other; in silent obscurity alone lay salvation. Religion and politics, rank and profession made little difference; priest and layman, cardinal-archbishop and "hammer of the monks," men whom Henry had raised from the mire, and peers, over whose heads they were placed, were joined in a common fate. Wolsey and More, Cromwell and Norfolk, trod the same dizzy path to the same fatal end; and the English people looked on powerless or unmoved. They sent their burgesses and knights of the shire to Westminster without let or hindrance, and Parliament met with a regularity that grew with the rigour of Henry's rule; but it seemed to assemble only to register the royal edicts and clothe with a legal cloak the naked violence of Henry's acts. It remembered its privileges only to lay them at Henry's feet, it cancelled his debts, endowed his proclamations with the force of laws, and authorised him to repeal acts of attainder and dispose of his crown at will. Secure of its support Henry turned and rent the spiritual unity of Western Christendom, and settled at a blow that perennial struggle between Church and State, in which kings and (p. 003) emperors had bitten the dust. With every epithet of contumely and scorn he trampled under foot the jurisdiction of him who was believed to hold the keys of heaven and hell. Borrowing in practice the old maxim of Roman law, cujus regio, ejus religio, he placed himself in the seat of authority in religion and presumed to define the faith of which Leo had styled him defender. Others have made themselves despots by their mastery of many legions, through the agency of a secret police, or by means of an organised bureaucracy. Yet Henry's standing army consisted of a few gentlemen pensioners and yeomen of the guard; he had neither secret police nor organised bureaucracy. Even then Englishmen boasted that they were not slaves like the French, and foreigners pointed a finger of scorn at their turbulence. Had they not permanently or temporarily deprived of power nearly half their kings who had reigned since William the Conqueror? Yet Henry VIII. not only left them their arms, but repeatedly urged them to keep those arms ready for use. He eschewed that air of mystery with which tyrants have usually sought to impose on the mind of the people. All his life he moved familiarly and almost unguarded in the midst of his subjects, and he died in his bed, full of years, with the spell of his power unbroken and the terror of his name unimpaired.
[Footnote 16: Bainbridge, Wolsey, Fisher, Pole. Bainbridge was a cardinal after Julius II's own heart, and he received the red hat for military services rendered to that warlike Pope (Ven. Cal., ii., 104).]
[Footnote 17: There were two Dukes of Norfolk, the second of whom was attainted, as was the Duke of Buckingham; the fourth Duke was Henry's brother-in-law, Suffolk.]
[Footnote 18: Empson and Dudley.]
[Footnote 19: "Sua cuique civitati religio est, nostra nobis." Cicero, Pro Flacco, 28; cf. E. Bourre, Des Inequalites de condition resultant de la religion en droit Romain, Paris, 1895.]
[Footnote 20: Cf. Bishop Scory to Edward VI. in Strype, Eccl. Mem., II., ii., 482; Fortescue, ed. Plummer, pp. 137-142.]
[Footnote 21: E.g., L. and P., i., 679.]
What manner of man was this, and wherein lay the secret of his (p. 004) strength? Is recourse necessary to a theory of supernatural agency, or is there another and adequate solution? Was Henry's individual will of such miraculous force that he could ride roughshod in insolent pride over public opinion at home and abroad? Or did his personal ends, dictated perhaps by selfish motives and ignoble passions, so far coincide with the interests and prejudices of the politically effective portion of his people, that they were willing to condone a violence and tyranny, the brunt of which fell after all on the few? Such is the riddle which propounds itself to every student of Tudor history. It cannot be answered by paeans in honour of Henry's intensity of will and force of character, nor by invectives against his vices and lamentations over the woes of his victims. The miraculous interpretation of history is as obsolete as the catastrophic theory of geology, and the explanation of Henry's career must be sought not so much in the study of his character as in the study of his environment, of the conditions which made things possible to him that were not possible before or since and are not likely to be so again.
* * * * *
It is a singular circumstance that the king who raised the personal power of English monarchy to a height to which it had never before attained, should have come of humble race and belonged to an upstart dynasty. For three centuries and a half before the battle of Bosworth one family had occupied the English throne. Even the usurpers, Henry of Bolingbroke and Richard of York, were directly descended in unbroken male line from Henry II., and from 1154 to 1485 all the sovereigns of England were Plantagenets. But who were the Tudors? They were a (p. 005) Welsh family of modest means and doubtful antecedents. They claimed, it is true, descent from Cadwallader, and their pedigree was as long and quite as veracious as most Welsh genealogies; but Henry VII.'s great-grandfather was steward or butler to the Bishop of Bangor. His son, Owen Tudor, came as a young man to seek his fortune at the Court of Henry V., and obtained a clerkship of the wardrobe to Henry's Queen, Catherine of France. So skilfully did he use or abuse this position of trust, that he won the heart of his mistress; and within a few years of Henry's death his widowed Queen and her clerk of the wardrobe were secretly, and possibly without legal sanction, living together as man and wife. The discovery of their relations resulted in Catherine's retirement to Bermondsey Abbey, and Owen's to Newgate prison. The Queen died in the following year, but Owen survived many romantic adventures. Twice he escaped from prison, twice he was recaptured. Once he took sanctuary in the precincts of Westminster Abbey, and various attempts to entrap him were made by enticing him to revels in a neighbouring tavern. Finally, on the outbreak of the Wars of the Roses, he espoused the Lancastrian cause, and was beheaded by order of Edward IV. after the battle of Mortimer's Cross. Two sons, Edmund and Jasper, were born of this singular match between Queen and clerk of her wardrobe. Both enjoyed the favour of their royal half-brother, Henry VI. Edmund, the elder, was first knighted and then created Earl of Richmond. In the Parliament of 1453, he was formally declared legitimate; he was enriched by the grant of broad estates and enrolled among the members of Henry's council. (p. 006) But the climax of his fortunes was reached when, in 1455, he married the Lady Margaret Beaufort. Owen Tudor had taken the first step which led to his family's greatness; Edmund took the second. The blood-royal of France flowed in his veins, the blood-royal of England was to flow in his children's; and the union between Edmund Tudor and Margaret Beaufort gave Henry VII. such claim as he had by descent to the English throne.
[Footnote 22: Archaeologia Cambrensis, 1st ser., iv., 267; 3rd ser., xv., 278, 379.]
The Beauforts were descended from Edward III., but a bar sinister marred their royal pedigree. John of Gaunt had three sons by Catherine Swynford before she became his wife. That marriage would, by canon law, have made legitimate the children, but the barons had, on a famous occasion, refused to assimilate in this respect the laws of England to the canons of the Church; and it required a special Act of Parliament to confer on the Beauforts the status of legitimacy. When Henry IV. confirmed this Act, he introduced a clause specifically barring their contingent claim to the English throne. This limitation could not legally abate the force of a statute; but it sufficed to cast a doubt upon the Beaufort title, and has been considered a sufficient explanation of Henry VII.'s reluctance to base his claim upon hereditary right. However that may be, the Beauforts played no little part in the English history of the fifteenth century; their influence was potent for peace or war in the councils of their royal half-brother, Henry IV., and of the later sovereigns of the House of Lancaster. One was Cardinal-Bishop of Winchester, another was Duke of Exeter, and a third was Earl of Somerset. Two of the sons of the Earl became Dukes of Somerset; the younger fell at St. Albans, the (p. 007) earliest victim of the Wars of the Roses, which proved so fatal to his House; and the male line of the Beauforts failed in the third generation. The sole heir to their claims was the daughter of the first Duke of Somerset, Margaret, now widow of Edmund Tudor; for, after a year of wedded life, Edmund had died in November, 1456. Two months later his widow gave birth to a boy, the future Henry VII.; and, incredible as the fact may seem, the youthful mother was not quite fourteen years old. When fifteen more years had passed, the murder of Henry VI. and his son left Margaret Beaufort and Henry Tudor in undisputed possession of the Lancastrian title. A barren honour it seemed. Edward IV. was firmly seated on the English throne. His right to it, by every test, was immeasurably superior to the Tudor claim, and Henry showed no inclination and possessed not the means to dispute it. The usurpation by Richard III., and the crimes which polluted his reign, put a different aspect on the situation, and set men seeking for an alternative to the blood-stained tyrant. The battle of Bosworth followed, and the last of the Plantagenets gave way to the first of the Tudors.
For the first time, since the Norman Conquest, a king of decisively British blood sat on the English throne. His lineage was, indeed, English in only a minor degree; but England might seem to have lost at the battle of Hastings her right to native kings; and Norman were succeeded by Angevin, Angevin by Welsh, Welsh by Scots, and Scots by Hanoverian sovereigns. The Tudors were probably more at home on the English throne than most of England's kings; and their humble and British origin may have contributed to their unique capacity for (p. 008) understanding the needs, and expressing the mind, of the English nation. It was well for them that they established their throne in the hearts of their people, for no dynasty grasped the sceptre with less of hereditary right. Judged by that criterion, there were many claimants whose titles must have been preferred to Henry's. There were the daughters of Edward IV. and the children of George, Duke of Clarence; and their existence may account for Henry's neglect to press his hereditary claim. But there was a still better reason. Supposing the Lancastrian case to be valid and the Beauforts to be the true Lancastrian heirs, even so the rightful occupant of the throne was not Henry VII., but his mother, Margaret Beaufort. England had never recognised a Salic law at home; on occasion she had disputed its validity abroad. But Henry VII. was not disposed to let his mother rule; she could not unite the Yorkist and Lancastrian claims by marriage, and, in addition to other disabilities, she had a second husband in Lord Stanley, who might demand the crown matrimonial. So Henry VII.'s hereditary title was judiciously veiled in vague obscurity. Parliament wisely admitted the accomplished fact and recognised that the crown was vested in him, without rashly venturing upon the why or the wherefore. He had in truth been raised to the throne because men were weary of Richard. He was chosen to vindicate no theory of hereditary or other abstract right, but to govern with a firm hand, to establish peace within his gates and give prosperity to his people. That was the true Tudor title, and, as a rule, they remembered the fact; they were de facto kings, and they left the de jure arguments to the Stuarts.
Peace, however, could not be obtained at once, nor the embers of (p. 009) thirty years' strife stamped out in a moment. For fifteen years open revolt and whispered sedition troubled the rest of the realm and threatened the stability of Henry's throne. Ireland remained a hot-bed of Yorkist sympathies, and Ireland was zealously aided by Edward IV.'s sister, Margaret of Burgundy; she pursued, like a vendetta, the family quarrel with Henry VII., and earned the title of Henry's Juno by harassing him as vindictively as the Queen of Heaven vexed the pious AEneas. Other rulers, with no Yorkist bias, were slow to recognise the parvenu king and quick to profit by his difficulties. Pretenders to their rivals' thrones were useful pawns on the royal chess-board; and though the princes of Europe had no reason to desire a Yorkist restoration, they thought that a little judicious backing of Yorkist claimants would be amply repaid by the restriction of Henry's energies to domestic affairs. Seven months after the battle of Bosworth there was a rising in the West under the Staffords, and in the North under Lovell; and Henry himself was nearly captured while celebrating at York the feast of St. George. A year later a youth of obscure origin, Lambert Simnel, claimed to be first the Duke of York and then the Earl of Warwick. The former was son, and the latter was nephew, of Edward IV. Lambert was crowned king at Dublin amid the acclamations of the Irish people. Not a voice was raised in Henry's favour; Kildare, the practical ruler of Ireland, earls and archbishops, bishops and barons, and great officers of State, from Lord Chancellor downwards, swore fealty to the reputed son of an Oxford tradesman. Ireland was only the volcano which gave vent to the subterranean flood; (p. 010) treason in England and intrigue abroad were working in secret concert with open rebellion across St. George's Channel. The Queen Dowager was secluded in Bermondsey Abbey and deprived of her jointure lands. John de la Pole, who, as eldest son of Edward IV.'s sister, had been named his successor by Richard III., fled to Burgundy; thence his aunt Margaret sent Martin Schwartz and two thousand mercenaries to co-operate with the Irish invasion. But, at East Stoke, De la Pole and Lovell, Martin Schwartz and his merry men were slain; and the most serious of the revolts against Henry ended in the consignment of Simnel to the royal scullery and of his tutor to the Tower.
[Footnote 23: See the present writer in D.N.B., lii., 261.]
Lambert, however, was barely initiated in his new duties when the son of a boatman of Tournay started on a similar errand with a less congenial end. An unwilling puppet at first, Perkin Warbeck was on a trading visit to Ireland, when the Irish, who saw a Yorkist prince in every likely face, insisted that Perkin was Earl of Warwick. This he denied on oath before the Mayor of Cork. Nothing deterred, they suggested that he was Richard III.'s bastard; but the bastard was safe in Henry's keeping, and the imaginative Irish finally took refuge in the theory that Perkin was Duke of York. Lambert's old friends rallied round Perkin; the re-animated Duke was promptly summoned to the Court of France and treated with princely honours. When Charles VIII. had used him to beat down Henry's terms, Perkin found a home with Margaret, aunt to all the pretenders. As usual, there were traitors in high places in England. Sir William Stanley, whose brother had married Henry's mother, and to whom Henry himself owed his victory at (p. 011) Bosworth, was implicated. His sudden arrest disconcerted the plot, and when Perkin's fleet appeared off the coast of Kent, the rustics made short work of the few who were rash enough to land. Perkin sailed away to the Yorkist refuge in Ireland, but Kildare was no longer deputy. Waterford, to which he laid siege, was relieved, and the pretender sought in Scotland a third basis of operations. An abortive raid on the Borders and a high-born Scottish wife were all that he obtained of James IV., and in 1497, after a second attempt in Ireland, he landed in Cornwall. The Cornishmen had just risen against Henry's extortions, marched on London and been defeated at Blackheath; but Henry's lenience encouraged a fresh revolt, and three thousand men flocked to Perkin's standard. They failed to take Exeter; Perkin was seized at Beaulieu and sent up to London to be paraded through the streets amid the jeers and taunts of the people. Two years later a foolish attempt at escape and a fresh personation of the Earl of Warwick by one Ralf Wulford led to the execution of all three, Perkin, Wulford, and the real Earl of Warwick, who had been a prisoner and probably the innocent centre of so many plots since the accession of Henry VII. Warwick's death may have been due to the instigation of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain, who were negotiating for the marriage of Catherine of Aragon with Prince Arthur. They were naturally anxious for the security of the throne their daughter was to share with (p. 012) Henry's son; and now their ambassador wrote triumphantly that there remained in England not a doubtful drop of royal blood. There were no more pretenders, and for the rest of Henry's reign England enjoyed such peace as it had not known for nearly a century. The end which Henry had sought by fair means and foul was attained, and there was no practical alternative to his children in the succession to the English throne.
[Footnote 24: Perkin was the first of Lady Catherine Gordon's four husbands; her second was James Strangways, gentleman-usher to Henry VIII., her third Sir Matthew Cradock (d. 1531), and her fourth Christopher Ashton, also gentleman-usher; she died in 1537 and was buried in Fyfield Church (L. and P., ii., 3512).]
[Footnote 25: See the present writer in Dict. Nat. Biog., lxiii., 172.]
[Footnote 26: Sp. Cal., i., No. 249; see below, p. 179.]
But all his statecraft, his patience and labour would have been writ in water without children to succeed him and carry on the work which he had begun; and at times it seemed probable that this necessary condition would remain unfulfilled. For the Tudors were singularly luckless in the matter of children. They were scarcely a sterile race, but their offspring had an unfortunate habit of dying in childhood. It was the desire for a male heir that involved Henry VIII. in his breach with Rome, and led Mary into a marriage which raised a revolt; the last of the Tudors perceived that heirs might be purchased at too great a cost, and solved the difficulty by admitting its insolubility. Henry VIII. had six wives, but only three children who survived infancy; of these, Edward VI. withered away at the age of fifteen, and Mary died childless at forty-two. By his two mistresses he seems to have had only one son, who died at the age of eleven, and as far as we know, he had not a single grandchild, legitimate or other. His sisters were hardly more fortunate. Margaret's eldest son by James IV. died a year after his birth; her eldest daughter died at birth; her second son lived only nine months; her second daughter died at (p. 013) birth; her third son lived to be James V., but her fourth found an early grave. Mary, the other sister of Henry VIII., lost her only son in his teens. The appalling death-rate among Tudor infants cannot be attributed solely to medical ignorance, for Yorkist babies clung to life with a tenacity which was quite as inconvenient as the readiness with which Tudor infants relinquished it; and Richard III., Henry VII. and Henry VIII. all found it necessary to accelerate, by artificial means, the exit from the world of the superfluous children of other pretenders. This drastic process smoothed their path, but could not completely solve the problem; and the characteristic Tudor infirmity was already apparent in the reign of Henry VII. He had three sons; two predeceased him, one at the age of fifteen years, the other at fifteen months. Of his four daughters, two died in infancy, and the youngest cost the mother her life. The fruit of that union between the Red Rose and the White, upon which so much store had been set, seemed doomed to fail.
[Footnote 27: There is no definite evidence that he had more.]
[Footnote 28: Ven. Cal., i., 833.]
[Footnote 29: Cf. Skelton, Works, ed. Dyce. vol. i., pp. ix-xi.]
The hopes built upon it had largely contributed to the success of Henry's raid upon the English throne, and before he started on his quest he had solemnly promised to marry Elizabeth, eldest daughter of Edward IV., and heiress of the House of York. But he was resolute to avoid all appearance of ruling in her right; his title had been recognised by Parliament, and he had been five months de facto king before he wedded his Yorkist wife (18th January, 1486). Eight months and two days later, the Queen gave birth, in the priory of St. Swithin's, at Winchester, to her first-born son. Four days later, on Sunday, (p. 014) 24th September, the child was christened in the minster of the old West Saxon capital, and given in baptism the name of Arthur, the old British king. It was neither Yorkist nor Lancastrian, it evoked no bitter memories of civil strife, and it recalled the fact that the Tudors claimed a pedigree and boasted a title to British sovereignty, beside the antiquity of which Yorkist pretentions were a mushroom growth. Duke of Cornwall from his birth, Prince Arthur was, when three years old, created Prince of Wales. Already negotiations had been begun for his marriage with Catherine, the daughter of Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile. Both were cautious sovereigns, and many a rebellion had to be put down and many a pretender put away, before they would consent to entrust their daughter to the care of an English king. It was not till 2nd October, 1501, that Catherine landed at Plymouth. At her formal reception into England, and at her marriage, six weeks later, in St. Paul's, she was led by the hand of her little brother-in-law, Prince Henry, then ten years old. Against the advice of his council, Henry VII. sent the youthful bride and bridegroom to live as man and wife at Ludlow Castle, and there, five and a half months later, their married life came to a sudden end. Prince Arthur died on 2nd April, 1502, and was buried in princely state in Worcester Cathedral.
[Footnote 30: L. and P., Henry VII., i., 413-415; L. and P., Henry VIII., iv., 5791.]
CHAPTER II. (p. 015)
PRINCE HENRY AND HIS ENVIRONMENT.
The Prince, who now succeeded to the position of heir-apparent, was nearly five years younger than his brother. The third child and second son of his parents, he was born on 28th June, 1491, at Greenwich, a palace henceforth intimately associated with the history of Tudor sovereigns. The manor of Greenwich had belonged to the alien priory of Lewisham, and, on the dissolution of those houses, had passed into the hands of Henry IV. Then it was granted to Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, who began to enclose the palace grounds; on his death it reverted to the Crown; and Edward IV., many of whose tastes and characteristics were inherited by his grandson, Henry VIII., took great delight in beautifying and extending the palace. He gave it to his Queen, Elizabeth, and in her possession it remained until her sympathy with Yorkist plots was punished by the forfeiture of her lands. Henry VII. then bestowed it on his wife, the dowager's daughter, and thus it became the birthplace of her younger children. Here was the scene of many a joust and tournament, of many a masque and revel; here the young Henry, as soon as he came to the throne, was wedded to Catherine of Aragon; here Henry's sister was married to the Duke of Suffolk; and here were born all future Tudor sovereigns, Edward VI., Mary, (p. 016) and Elizabeth. At Greenwich, then, through the forfeit of his grandmother, Henry was born; he was baptised in the Church of the Observant Friars, an Order, the object first of his special favour, and then of an equally marked dislike; the ceremony was performed by Richard Fox, then Bishop of Exeter, and afterwards one of the child's chief advisers. His nurse was named Ann Luke, and years afterwards, when Henry was King, he allowed her the annual pension of twenty pounds, equivalent to about three hundred in modern currency. The details of his early life are few and far between. Lord Herbert, who wrote his Life and Reign a century later, records that the young Prince was destined by his father for the see of Canterbury, and provided with an education more suited to a clerical than to a lay career. The motive ascribed to Henry VII. is typical of his character; it was more economical to provide for younger sons out of ecclesiastical, than royal, revenues. But the story is probably a mere inference from the excellence of the boy's education, and from his father's thrift. If the idea of an ecclesiastical career for young Henry was ever entertained, it was soon abandoned for secular preferment. On 5th April, 1492, before the child was ten months old, he was appointed to the ancient and important posts of Warden of the Cinque Ports and Constable of Dover Castle. A little later he received the still more honourable office of Earl Marshal; the duties were performed by deputy, but a goodly portion of the fees was doubtless (p. 017) appropriated for the expenses of the boy's establishment, or found its way into the royal coffers. Further promotion awaited him at the mature age of three. On 12th September, 1494, he became Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland; six weeks later he was created Duke of York, and dubbed, with the usual quaint and formal ceremonies, a Knight of the Bath. In December, he was made Warden of the Scottish Marches, and he was invested with the Garter in the following May.
[Footnote 31: L. and P., i., 4871.]
[Footnote 32: Fox's own statement, L. and P., iv., 5791.]
[Footnote 33: Herbert gives Paolo Sarpi as his authority.]
[Footnote 34: G.E.C [okayne], Complete Peerage, s.v. Cornwall.]
[Footnote 35: L. and P., Henry VII., Rolls Ser., ii., 374.]
[Footnote 36: Ib., i., 388-404; Paston Letters, iii., 384-85.]
[Footnote 37: L. and P., Henry VII., ii., 57.]
The accumulation of these great offices of State, any one of which might have taxed the powers of a tried administrator, in the feeble hands of a child appears at first sight a trifle irrational; but there was always method in Henry's madness. In bestowing these administrative posts upon his children he was really concentrating them in his own person and bringing them directly under his own supervision. It was the policy whereby the early Roman Emperors imposed upon Republican Rome the substance, without the form, of despotism. It limited the powers of mischief which Henry's nobles might otherwise have enjoyed, and provided incomes for his children without increasing taxation or diminishing the privy purse. The work of administration could be done at least as effectively, much more economically, and with far less danger to internal peace by deputies of lower rank than the dukes and earls and barons who had been wont to abuse these high positions for the furtherance of private ends, and often for the levying of (p. 018) private war. Nowhere were the advantages of Henry's policy more conspicuous than in his arrangements for the government of Ireland. Ever since Richard, Duke of York, and George, Duke of Clarence, had ruled as Irish viceroys, Ireland had been a Yorkist stronghold. There Simnel had been crowned king, and there peers and peasants had fought for Perkin Warbeck. Something must be done to heal the running sore. Possibly Henry thought that some of Ireland's loyalty might be diverted from Yorkist channels by the selection of a Tudor prince as its viceroy; but he put his trust in more solid measures. As deputy to his infant son he nominated one who, though but a knight, was perhaps the ablest man among his privy council. It was in this capacity that Sir Edward Poynings crossed to Ireland about the close of 1494, and called the Parliament of Drogheda. Judged by the durability of its legislation, it was one of the most memorable of parliaments; and for nearly three hundred years Poynings' laws remained the foundation upon which rested the constitutional relations between the sister kingdoms. Even more lasting was the precedent set by Prince Henry's creation as Duke of York; from that day to this, from Henry VIII. to the present Prince of Wales, the second son of the sovereign or of the heir-apparent has almost invariably been invested with that dukedom. The original selection of the title was due to substantial reasons. Henry's name was distinctively Lancastrian, his title was no less distinctively Yorkist; it was adopted as a concession to Yorkist prejudice. (p. 019) It was a practical reminder of the fact which the Tudor laureate, Skelton, celebrated in song: "The rose both red and white, in one rose now doth grow". It was also a tacit assertion of the death of the last Duke of York in the Tower and of the imposture of Perkin Warbeck, now pretending to the title.
[Footnote 38: See the present writer in D.N.B., xlvi., 271.]
[Footnote 39: An exception was made in the case of the late Duke of Edinburgh. It was designed if Henry VIII. had a second son, to make him Duke of York (L. and P., vii., 1364).]
But thoughts of the coercion of Ireland and conciliation of Yorkists were as yet far from the mind of the child, round whose person these measures were made to centre. Precocious he must have been, if the phenomenal development of brow and the curiously mature expression attributed to him in his portrait are any indication of his intellectual powers at the age at which he is represented. Without the childish lips and nose, the face might well be that of a man of fifty; and with the addition of a beard, the portrait would be an unmistakable likeness of Henry himself in his later years. When the Prince was no more than a child, says Erasmus, he was set to study. He had, we are told, a vivid and active mind, above measure able to execute whatever tasks he undertook; and he never attempted anything in which he did not succeed. The Tudors had no modern dread of educational over-pressure when applied to their children, and the young Henry was probably as forward a pupil as his son, Edward VI., his daughter, Elizabeth, or his grand-niece, Lady Jane Grey. But, fortunately for Henry, a physical exuberance corrected his mental precocity; and, (p. 020) as he grew older, any excessive devotion to the Muses was checked by an unwearied pursuit of bodily culture. He was the first of English sovereigns to be educated under the new influence of the Renaissance. Scholars, divines and poets thronged the Court of Henry VII. Margaret Beaufort, who ruled in Henry's household, was a signal benefactor to the cause of English learning. Lady Margaret professors commemorate her name in both our ancient universities, and in their bidding prayers she is to this day remembered. Two colleges at Cambridge revere her as their foundress; Caxton, the greatest of English printers, owed much to her munificence, and she herself translated into English books from both Latin and French. Henry VII., though less accomplished that the later Tudors, evinced an intelligent interest in art and letters, and provided for his children efficient instructors; while his Queen, Elizabeth of York, is described by Erasmus as possessing the soundest judgment and as being remarkable for her prudence as well as for her piety. Bernard Andre, historian and poet, who had been tutor to Prince Arthur, probably took no small part in the education of his younger brother; to him he dedicated, after Arthur's death, two of the annual summaries of events which he was in the habit of compiling. Giles D'Ewes, apparently a Frenchman and the author of a notable French grammar, taught that language to Prince Henry, as many (p. 021) years later he did to his daughter, Queen Mary; probably either D'Ewes or Andre trained his handwriting, which is a curious compromise between the clear and bold Italian style, soon to be adopted by well-instructed Englishmen, and the old English hieroglyphics in which more humbly educated individuals, including Shakespeare, concealed the meaning of their words. But the most famous of Henry's teachers was the poet Skelton, the greatest name in English verse from Lydgate down to Surrey. Skelton was poet laureate to Henry VII. Court, and refers in his poems to his wearing of the white and green of Tudor liveries. He celebrated in verse Arthur's creation as Prince of Wales and Henry's as Duke of York; and before the younger prince was nine years old, this "incomparable light and ornament of British Letters," as Erasmus styles him, was directing Henry's studies. Skelton himself writes.—
The honor of England I learned to spell, I gave him drink of the sugred well Of Helicon's waters crystalline, Acquainting him with the Muses nine.
[Footnote 40: This is an anonymous portrait of Henry at the age of eighteen months or two years belonging to Sir Edmund and Lady Verney.]
[Footnote 41: Erasmus, Epist., p. 1182; L. and P., iv., 5412.]
[Footnote 42: This testimonial was written in 1528 before Henry VIII. had given the most striking demonstrations of its truth.]
[Footnote 43: See D.N.B., i., 398. Erasmus, however, described Andre as being "of mean abilities" (L. and P., iv., 626).]
[Footnote 44: D.N.B., xiv., 449; cf. L. and P., i., 513. On Henry VIII's accession D'Ewes was appointed keeper of the King's library at Richmond with a salary of L10 per year.]
[Footnote 45: Skelton, Works, ed. Dyce, vol. i., p. xiii.; the white and green still survive as the colours of Jesus College, Oxford, founded by Queen Elizabeth.]
[Footnote 46: Ib., p. xxi.; a copy of the latter, which Dyce could not find, is in Brit. Mus. Addit. MS. 26787.]
The coarseness of Skelton's satires and his open disregard of the clerical vows of chastity may justify some doubt of the value of the poet's influence on Henry's character; but he so far observed the conventional duties of his post as to dedicate to his royal pupil, in 1501, a moral treatise in Latin of no particular worth. More deserving of Henry's study were two books inscribed to him a (p. 022) little later by young Boerio, son of the King's Genoese physician and a pupil of Erasmus, who, according to his own account, suffered untold afflictions from the father's temper. One was a translation of Isocrates' De Regno, the other of Lucian's tract against believing calumnies. The latter was, to judge from the tale of Henry's victims, a precept which he scarcely laid to heart in youth. In other respects he was apt enough to learn. He showed "remarkable docility for mathematics," became proficient in Latin, spoke French with ease, understood Italian, and, later on, possibly from Catherine of Aragon, acquired a knowledge of Spanish. In 1499 Erasmus himself, the greatest of the humanists, visited his friend, Lord Mountjoy, near Greenwich, and made young Henry's acquaintance. "I was staying," he writes, "at Lord Mountjoy's country house when Thomas More came to see me, and took me out with him for a walk as far as the next village, where all the King's children, except Prince Arthur, who was then the eldest son, were being educated. When we came into the hall, the attendants not only of the palace, but also of Mountjoy's household, were all assembled. In the midst stood Prince Henry, now nine years old, and having already something of royalty in his demeanour in which there was a certain dignity combined with singular courtesy. On his right was Margaret, about eleven years of age, afterwards married to James, King of Scots; and on his left played Mary, a child of four. Edmund was an infant in arms. More, with his companion Arnold, after (p. 023) paying his respects to the boy Henry, the same that is now King of England, presented him with some writing. For my part, not having expected anything of the sort, I had nothing to offer, but promised that, on another occasion, I would in some way declare my duty towards him. Meantime, I was angry with More for not having warned me, especially as the boy sent me a little note, while we were at dinner, to challenge something from my pen. I went home, and in the Muses' spite, from whom I had been so long divorced, finished the poem within three days." The poem, in which Britain speaks her own praise and that of her princes, Henry VII. and his children, was dedicated to the Duke of York and accompanied by a letter in which Erasmus commended Henry's devotion to learning. Seven years later Erasmus again wrote to Henry, now Prince of Wales, condoling with him upon the death of his brother-in-law, Philip of Burgundy, King of Castile. Henry replied in cordial manner, inviting the great scholar to continue the correspondence. The style of his letter so impressed Erasmus that he suspected, as he says, "some help from others in the ideas and expressions. In a conversation I afterwards had with William, Lord Mountjoy, he tried by various arguments to dispel that suspicion, and when he found he could not do so he gave up the point and let it pass until he was sufficiently instructed in the case. On another occasion, when we were talking alone together, he brought out a number of the Prince's letters, some to other people and some to himself, and among them one which answered to mine: in these letters were manifest signs of (p. 024) comment, addition, suppression, correction and alteration—You might recognise the first drafting of a letter, and you might make out the second and third, and sometimes even the fourth correction; but whatever was revised or added was in the same handwriting. I had then no further grounds for hesitation, and, overcome by the facts, I laid aside all suspicion." Neither, he adds, would his correspondent doubt Henry VIII's authorship of the book against Luther if he knew that king's "happy genius". That famous book is sufficient proof that theological studies held no small place in Henry's education. They were cast in the traditional mould, for the Lancastrians were very orthodox, and the early Tudors followed in their steps. Margaret Beaufort left her husband to devote herself to good works and a semi-monastic life; Henry VII. converted a heretic at the stake and left him to burn; and the theological conservatism, which Henry VIII. imbibed in youth, clung to him to the end of his days.
[Footnote 47: Brit. Mus. Add. MS. 26787.]
[Footnote 48: Brit. Mus. Add. MS. 19553.]
[Footnote 49: F.M. Nichols, Epistles of Erasmus, i., 201.]
[Footnote 50: Printed in 1500 at the end of Erasmus's Adagia.]
[Footnote 51: F.M. Nichols, pp. 423-24; L. and P., iv., 5412.]
[Footnote 52: Cotton MS., Vitellius, A., xvi., f. 172.]
Nor were the arts neglected, and in his early years Henry acquired a passionate and lifelong devotion to music. Even as Duke of York he had a band of minstrels apart from those of the King and Prince Arthur; and when he was king his minstrels formed an indispensable part of his retinue, whether he went on progress through his kingdom, or crossed the seas on errands of peace or war. He became an expert performer on the lute, the organ and the harpsichord, and all the cares of State could not divert him from practising on those instruments both day (p. 025) and night. He sent all over England in search of singing men and boys for the chapel royal, and sometimes appropriated choristers from Wolsey's chapel, which he thought better provided than his own. From Venice he enticed to England the organist of St. Mark's, Dionysius Memo, and on occasion Henry and his Court listened four hours at a stretch to Memo's organ recitals. Not only did he take delight in the practice of music by himself and others; he also studied its theory and wrote with the skill of an expert. Vocal and instrumental pieces of his own composition, preserved among the manuscripts at the British Museum, rank among the best productions of the time; and one of his anthems, "O Lorde, the Maker of all thyng," is of the highest order of merit, and still remains a favourite in English cathedrals.
[Footnote 53: Hist. MSS. Comm., 5th Rep., App., p. 549.]
[Footnote 54: L. and P., i., 4314.]
[Footnote 55: L. and P., ii., 410, 4024.]
[Footnote 56: Ven. Cal., ii., 780; L. and P., ii., 2401, 3455.]
[Footnote 57: E.g., Add. MS. 31922.]
In April, 1502, at the age of ten, Henry became the heir-apparent to the English throne. He succeeded at once to the dukedom of Cornwall, but again a precedent was set which was followed but yesterday; and ten months were allowed to elapse before he was, on 18th February, 1503, created Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester, the dukedom of York becoming void until a king or an heir apparent should again have a second son. The first sign of his increased importance was his implication in the maze of matrimonial intrigues which formed so large a part of sixteenth-century diplomacy. The last thing kings (p. 026) considered was the domestic felicity of their children; their marriages were pieces in the diplomatic game and sometimes the means by which States were built up. While Duke of York, Henry had been proposed as a husband for Eleanor, daughter of the Archduke Philip; and his sister Mary as the bride of Philip's son Charles, who, as the heir of the houses of Castile and of Aragon, of Burgundy and of Austria, was from the cradle destined to wield the imperial sceptre of Caesar. No further steps were taken at the time, and Prince Arthur's death brought other projects to the front.
[Footnote 58: The next prince to hold the title was Charles, afterwards Charles I., who was created Duke of York on 6th Jan., 1605.]
[Footnote 59: Afterwards Queen of Portugal and then of France. L. and P., Henry VII., i., 285, 425.]
Immediately on receiving the news, and two days before they dated their letter of condolence to Henry VII., Ferdinand and Isabella commissioned the Duke of Estrada to negotiate a marriage between the widowed Catherine and her youthful brother-in-law. No doubt was entertained but that the Pope would grant the necessary dispensation, for the spiritual head of Christendom was apt to look tenderly on the petitions of the powerful princes of this world. A more serious difficulty was the question of the widow's dower. Part only had been paid, and Ferdinand not merely refused to hand over the rest, but demanded the return of his previous instalments. Henry, on the other hand, considered himself entitled to the whole, refused to refund a penny, and gave a cold reception to the proposed marriage between Catherine and his sole surviving son. He was, however, by no means blind to the advantages of the Spanish matrimonial and political alliance, and still less to the attractions of Catherine's dower; (p. 027) he declined to send back the Princess, when Isabella, shocked at Henry VII.'s proposal to marry his daughter-in-law himself, demanded her return; and eventually, when Ferdinand reduced his terms, he suffered the marriage treaty to be signed. On 25th June, 1503, Prince Henry and Catherine were solemnly betrothed in the Bishop of Salisbury's house, in Fleet Street.
[Footnote 60: Sp. Cal., i., 267.]
The papal dispensation arrived in time to solace Isabella on her death-bed in November, 1504; but that event once more involved in doubt the prospects of the marriage. The crown of Castile passed from Isabella to her daughter Juana; the government of the kingdom was claimed by Ferdinand and by Juana's husband, Philip of Burgundy. On their way from the Netherlands to claim their inheritance, Philip and Juana were driven on English shores. Henry VII. treated them with all possible courtesy, and made Philip a Knight of the Garter, while Philip repaid the compliment by investing Prince Henry with the Order of the Golden Fleece. But advantage was taken of Philip's plight to extort from him the surrender of the Earl of Suffolk, styled the White Rose, and a commercial treaty with the Netherlands, which the Flemings named the Malus Intercursus. Three months after his arrival in Castile, Philip died, and Henry began to fish in the troubled waters for a share in his dominions. Two marriage schemes occurred to him; he might win the hand of Philip's sister Margaret, now Regent of the Netherlands, and with her hand the control of those provinces; or he might marry Juana and claim in her right to administer Castile. On the acquisition of Castile he set his mind. If he could not gain (p. 028) it by marriage with Juana, he thought he could do so by marrying her son and heir, the infant Charles, to his daughter Mary. Whichever means he took to further his design, it would naturally irritate Ferdinand and make him less anxious for the completion of the marriage between Catherine and Prince Henry. Henry VII. was equally averse from the consummation of the match. Now that he was scheming with Charles's other grandfather, the Emperor Maximilian, to wrest the government of Castile from Ferdinand's grasp, the alliance of the King of Aragon had lost its attraction, and it was possible that the Prince of Wales might find elsewhere a more desirable bride. Henry's marriage with Catherine was to have been accomplished when he completed the age of fourteen; but on the eve of his fifteenth birthday he made a solemn protestation that the contract was null and void, and that he would not carry out his engagements. This protest left him free to consider other proposals, and enhanced his value as a negotiable asset. More than once negotiations were started for marrying him to Marguerite de Valois, sister of the Duke of Angouleme, afterwards famous as Francis I.; and in the last months of his father's reign, the Prince of Wales was giving audience to ambassadors from Maximilian, who came to suggest matrimonial alliances between the prince and a daughter of Duke Albert of Bavaria, and between Henry VII. and the Lady Margaret of Savoy, Regent of the Netherlands. Meanwhile, Ferdinand, threatened on all sides, first came to terms (p. 029) with France; he married a French princess, Germaine de Foix, abandoned his claim to Navarre, and bought the security of Naples by giving Louis XII. a free hand in the north of Italy. He then diverted Maximilian from his designs on Castile by humouring his hostility to Venice. By that bait he succeeded in drawing off his enemies, and the league of Cambrai united them all, Ferdinand and Louis, Emperor and Pope, in an iniquitous attack on the Italian Republic. Henry VII., fortunately for his reputation, was left out of the compact. He was still cherishing his design on Castile, and in December, 1508, the treaty of marriage between Mary and Charles was formally signed. It was the last of his worldly triumphs; the days of his life were numbered, and in the early months of 1509 he was engaged in making a peace with his conscience.
[Footnote 61: L. and P., Henry VII., ii., 158; Ven. Cal., i., 867.]
[Footnote 62: Sp. Cal., i., 458; L. and P., iv., 5791.]
[Footnote 63: L. and P., Henry VII., i., 241-47; ii. 342-43.]
[Footnote 64: Sp. Cal., Suppl., p. 23.]
* * * * *
The twenty-four years during which Henry VII. had guided the destinies of England were a momentous epoch in the development of Western civilisation. It was the dawn of modern history, of the history of Europe in the form in which we know it to-day. The old order was in a state of liquidation. The mediaeval ideal, described by Dante, of a universal monarchy with two aspects, spiritual and temporal, and two heads, emperor and pope, was passing away. Its place was taken by the modern but narrower ideal of separate polities, each pursuing its own course, independent of, and often in conflict with, other societies. Unity gave way to diversity of tongues, of churches, of states; and the cosmopolitan became nationalist, patriot, separatist. Imperial monarchy shrank to a shadow; and kings divided the emperor's power (p. 030) at the same time that they consolidated their own. They extended their authority on both sides, at the expense of their superior, the emperor, and at the expense of their subordinate feudal lords. The struggle between the disruptive forces of feudalism and the central power of monarchy ended at last in monarchical triumph; and internal unity prepared the way for external expansion. France under Louis XI. was first in the field. She had surmounted her civil troubles half a century earlier than England. She then expelled her foreign foes, crushed the remnants of feudal independence, and began to expand at the cost of weaker States. Parts of Burgundy, Provence, and Brittany became merged in France; the exuberant strength of the new-formed nation burst the barriers of the Alps and overflowed into the plains of Italy. The time of universal monarchy was past, but the dread of it remained; and from Charles VIII.'s invasion of Italy in 1494 to Francis I.'s defeat at Pavia in 1525, French dreams of world-wide sovereignty were the nightmare of other kings. Those dreams might, as Europe feared, have been realised, had not other States followed France in the path of internal consolidation. Ferdinand of Aragon married Isabella of Castile, drove out the Moors, and founded the modern Spanish kingdom. Maximilian married Mary, the daughter of Charles the Bold, and joined the Netherlands to Austria. United France found herself face to face with other united States, and the political system of modern Europe was roughly sketched out. The boundaries of the various kingdoms were fluctuating. There still remained minor principalities and powers, chiefly in Italy and Germany, which offered an easy prey to their ambitious neighbours; for both nations had (p. 031) sacrificed internal unity to the shadow of universal dominion, Germany in temporal, and Italy in spiritual, things. Mutual jealousy of each other's growth at the expense of these States gave rise to the theory of the balance of power; mutual adjustment of each other's disputes produced international law; and the necessity of watching each other's designs begat modern diplomacy.
[Footnote 65: Cf. A.O. Meyer, Die Englische Diplomatie, Breslau, 1901.]
Parallel with these developments in the relations between one State and another marched a no less momentous revolution in the domestic position of their sovereigns. National expansion abroad was marked by a corresponding growth in royal authority at home. The process was not new in England; every step in the path of the tribal chief of Saxon pirates to the throne of a united England denoted an advance in the nature of kingly power. Each extension of his sway intensified his authority, and his power grew in degree as it increased in area. So with fifteenth-century sovereigns. Local liberties and feudal rights which had checked a Duke of Brittany or a King of Aragon were powerless to restrain the King of France or of Spain. The sphere of royal authority encroached upon all others; all functions and all powers tended to concentrate in royal hands. The king was the emblem of national unity, the centre of national aspirations, and the object of national reverence. The Renaissance gave fresh impetus to the movement. Men turned not only to the theology, literature, and art of the early Christian era; they began to study anew its political organisation and its system of law and jurisprudence. The code of Justinian was as much a revelation as the original Greek of the (p. 032) New Testament. Roman imperial law seemed as superior to the barbarities of common law as classical was to mediaeval Latin; and Roman law supplanted indigenous systems in France and in Germany, in Spain and in Scotland. Both the Roman imperial law and the Roman imperial constitution were useful models for kings of the New Monarchy; the Roman Empire was a despotism; quod principi placuit legis habet vigorem ran the fundamental principle of Roman Empire. Nor was this all; Roman emperors were habitually deified, and men in the sixteenth century seemed to pay to their kings while alive the Divine honours which Romans paid to their emperors when dead. "Le nouveau Messie," says Michelet, "est le roi."
[Footnote 66: The conclusion of the maxim utpote cum lege regia quae de imperio ejus lata est, populus ei et in eum omne suum imperium et potestatem conferat (Ulpian, Digest, I., iv., 1), was conveniently forgotten by apologists for absolutism, though the Tudors respected it in practice.]
[Footnote 67: Hist. de France, ed. 1879, ix., 301.]
Nowhere was the king more emphatically the saviour of society than in England. The sixty years of Lancastrian rule were in the seventeenth century represented as the golden age of parliamentary government, a sort of time before the fall to which popular orators appealed when they wished to paint in vivid colours the evils of Stuart tyranny. But to keen observers of the time the pre-eminent characteristic of Lancastrian rule appeared to be its "lack of governance" or, in modern phrase, administrative anarchy. There was no subordination in the State. The weakness of the Lancastrian title left the king at the mercy of Parliament, and the limitations of Parliament were never (p. 033) more apparent than when its powers stood highest. Even in the realm of legislation, the statute book has seldom been so barren. Its principal acts were to narrow the county electorate to an oligarchy, to restrict the choice of constituencies to resident knights and burgesses, and to impair its own influence as a focus of public opinion. It was not content with legislative authority; it interfered with an executive which it could hamper but could not control. It was possessed by the inveterate fallacy that freedom and strong government are things incompatible; that the executive is the natural enemy of the Legislature; that if one is strong, the other must be weak; and of the two alternatives it vastly preferred a weak executive. So, to limit the king's power, it sought to make him "live of his own," when "his own" was absolutely inadequate to meet the barest necessities of government. Parliament was in fact irresponsible; the connecting link between it and the executive had yet to be found. Hence the Lancastrian "lack of governance"; it ended in a generation of civil war, and the memory of that anarchy explains much in Tudor history.
[Footnote 68: Fortescue, Governance of England, ed. Plummer, 1885.]
The problems of Henry VIII.'s reign can indeed only be solved by realising the misrule of the preceding century, the failure of parliamentary government, and the strength of the popular demand for a firm and masterful hand. It is a modern myth that Englishmen have always been consumed with enthusiasm for parliamentary government and with a thirst for a parliamentary vote. The interpretation of history, like that of the Scriptures, varies from age to age; and present political theories colour our views of the past. The political development of the nineteenth century created a parliamentary legend; and civil and religious liberty became the inseparable stage (p. 034) properties of the Englishman. Whenever he appeared on the boards, he was made to declaim about the rights of the subject and the privileges of Parliament. It was assumed that the desire for a voice in the management of his own affairs had at all times and all seasons been the mainspring of his actions; and so the story of Henry's rule was made into a political mystery. In reality, love of freedom has not always been, nor will it always remain, the predominant note in the English mind. At times the English people have pursued it through battle and murder with grim determination, but other times have seen other ideals. On occasion the demand has been for strong government irrespective of its methods, and good government has been preferred to self-government. Wars of expansion and wars of defence have often cooled the love of liberty and impaired the faith in parliaments; and generally English ideals have been strictly subordinated to a passion for material prosperity.
Never was this more apparent than under the Tudors. The parliamentary experiment of the Lancastrians was premature and had failed. Parliamentary institutions were discredited and people were indifferent to parliamentary rights and privileges: "A plague on both your Houses," was the popular feeling, "give us peace, above all peace at home to pursue new avenues of wealth, new phases of commercial development, peace to study new problems of literature, religion, and art"; and both Houses passed out of the range of popular imagination, and almost out of the sphere of independent political action. Parliament played during the sixteenth century a modester part than it had played since its creation. Towards the close of the period (p. 035) Shakespeare wrote his play of King John, and in that play there is not the faintest allusion to Magna Carta. Such an omission would be inconceivable now or at any time since the death of Elizabeth; for the Great Charter is enshrined in popular imagination as the palladium of the British constitution. It was the fetish to which Parliament appealed against the Stuarts. But no such appeal would have touched a Tudor audience. It needed and desired no weapon against a sovereign who embodied national desires, and ruled in accord with the national will. References to the charter are as rare in parliamentary debates as they are in the pages of Shakespeare. The best hated instruments of Stuart tyranny were popular institutions under the Tudors; and the Star Chamber itself found its main difficulty in the number of suitors which flocked to a court where the king was judge, the law's delays minimised, counsel's fees moderate, and justice rarely denied merely because it might happen to be illegal. England in the sixteenth century put its trust in its princes far more than it did in its parliaments; it invested them with attributes almost Divine. By Tudor majesty the poet was inspired with thoughts of the divinity that doth hedge a king. "Love for the King," wrote a Venetian of Henry VIII. in the early years of his reign, "is universal with all who see him, for his Highness does not seem a person of this world, but one (p. 036) descended from heaven." Le nouveau Messie est le Roi.
[Footnote 69: Magna Carta may almost be said to have been "discovered" by the parliamentary opponents of the Stuarts; and in discovering it, they misinterpreted several of its clauses such as the judicium parium. Allusion was, however, made to Magna Carta in the proceedings against Wolsey for Praemunire (Fox, vi., 43).]
[Footnote 70: Ven Cal., ii., 336.]
Such were the tendencies which Henry VII. and Henry VIII. crystallised into practical weapons of absolute government. Few kings have attained a greater measure of permanent success than the first of the Tudors; it was he who laid the unseen foundations upon which Henry VIII. erected the imposing edifice of his personal authority. An orphan from birth and an exile from childhood, he stood near enough to the throne to invite Yorkist proscription, but too far off to unite in his favour Lancastrian support. He owed his elevation to the mistakes of his enemies and to the cool, calculating craft which enabled him to use those mistakes without making mistakes of his own. He ran the great risk of his life in his invasion of England, but henceforth he left nothing to chance. He was never betrayed by passion or enthusiasm into rash adventures, and he loved the substance, rather than the pomp and circumstance of power. Untrammelled by scruples, unimpeded by principles, he pursued with constant fidelity the task of his life, to secure the throne for himself and his children, to pacify his country, and to repair the waste of the civil wars. Folly easily glides into war, but to establish a permanent peace required all Henry's patience, clear sight and far sight, caution and tenacity. A full exchequer, not empty glory, was his first requisite, and he found in his foreign wars a mine of money. Treason at home was turned to like profit, and the forfeited estates of rebellious lords accumulated in the hands of the royal family and filled the national coffers. Attainder, the characteristic instrument of Tudor policy, was employed to (p. 037) complete the ruin of the old English peerage which the Wars of the Roses began: and by 1509 there was only one duke and one marquis left in the whole of England. Attainder not only removed the particular traitor, but disqualified his family for place and power; and the process of eliminating feudalism from the region of government, started by Edward I., was finished by Henry VII. Feudal society has been described as a pyramid; the upper slopes were now washed away leaving an impassable precipice, with the Tudor monarch alone in his glory at its summit. Royalty had become a caste apart. Marriages between royal children and English peers had hitherto been no uncommon thing; since Henry VII.'s accession there have been but four, two of them in our own day. Only one took place in the sixteenth century, and the Duke of Suffolk was by some thought worthy of death for his presumption in marrying the sister of Henry VIII. The peerage was weakened not only by diminishing numbers, but by the systematic depression of those who remained. Henry VII., like Ferdinand of Aragon, preferred to govern by means of lawyers and churchmen; they could be rewarded by judgeships and bishoprics, and required no grants from the royal estates. Their occupancy of office kept out territorial magnates who abused it for private ends. Of the sixteen regents nominated by Henry VIII. in his will, not one could boast a peerage of twelve years' standing; and all the great Tudor ministers, Wolsey and (p. 038) Cromwell, Cecil and Walsingham, were men of comparatively humble birth. With similar objects Henry VII. passed laws limiting the number of retainers and forbidding the practice of maintenance. The courts of Star Chamber and Requests were developed to keep in order his powerful subjects and give poor men protection against them. Their civil law procedure, influenced by Roman imperial maxims, served to enhance the royal power and dignity, and helped to build up the Tudor autocracy.
[Footnote 71: The Duke was Buckingham, and the Marquis was Dorset.]
[Footnote 72: See a description of Ferdinand's court by John Stile, the English envoy, in L. and P., i., 490.]
[Footnote 73: See the present writer's England under Protector Somerset, p. 38.]
* * * * *
To the office of king thus developed and magnified, the young Prince who stood upon the steps of the throne brought personal qualities of the highest order, and advantages to which his father was completely a stranger. His title was secure, his treasury overflowed, and he enjoyed the undivided affections of his people. There was no alternative claimant. The White Rose, indeed, had languished in the Tower since his surrender by Philip, and the Duke of Buckingham had some years before been mentioned as a possible successor to the throne; but their claims only served to remind men that nothing but Henry's life stood between them and anarchy, for his young brother Edmund, Duke of Somerset, had preceded Arthur to an early grave. Upon the single thread of Henry's life hung the peace of the realm; no other could have secured the throne without a second civil war. It was small wonder if England regarded Henry with a somewhat extravagant loyalty. Never had king ascended the throne more richly endowed with mental and physical gifts. He was ten weeks short of his eighteenth year. (p. 039) From both his parents he inherited grace of mind and of person. His father in later years was broken in health and soured in spirit, but in the early days of his reign he had charmed the citizens of York with his winning smile. His mother is described by the Venetian ambassador as a woman of great beauty and ability. She transmitted to Henry many of the popular characteristics of her father, Edward IV., though little of the military genius of that consummate commander who fought thirteen pitched battles and lost not one. Unless eye-witnesses sadly belied themselves, Henry VIII. must have been the desire of all eyes. "His Majesty," wrote one a year or two later, "is the handsomest potentate I ever set eyes on; above the usual height, with an extremely fine calf to his leg; his complexion fair and bright, with auburn hair combed straight and short in the French fashion, and a round face so very beautiful that it would become a pretty woman, his throat being rather long and thick.... He speaks French, English, Latin, and a little Italian; plays well on the lute and harpsichord, sings from the book at sight, draws the bow with greater strength than any man in England, and jousts marvellously." Another foreign resident in 1519 described him as "extremely handsome. Nature could not have done more for him. He is much handsomer than any other sovereign in Christendom; a great deal handsomer than the King of France; very fair and his whole frame admirably proportioned. On hearing that Francis I. wore a beard, he allowed his own to grow, and as it is (p. 040) reddish, he has now got a beard that looks like gold. He is very accomplished, a good musician, composes well, is a capital horseman, a fine jouster, speaks French, Latin, and Spanish.... He is very fond of hunting, and never takes his diversion without tiring eight or ten horses which he causes to be stationed beforehand along the line of country he means to take, and when one is tired he mounts another, and before he gets home they are all exhausted. He is extremely fond of tennis, at which game it is the prettiest thing in the world to see him play, his fair skin glowing through a shirt of the finest texture."
[Footnote 74: L. and P., Henry VII., i., 180, 233, 319.]
[Footnote 75:L. and P., ii., 395.]
[Footnote 76: Giustinian, Despatches, ii., 312; Ven. Cal., ii., 1287; L. and P., iii., 402.]
The change from the cold suspicious Henry VII. to such a king as this was inevitably greeted with a burst of rapturous enthusiasm. "I have no fear," wrote Mountjoy to Erasmus, "but when you heard that our Prince, now Henry the Eighth, whom we may well call our Octavius, had succeeded to his father's throne, all your melancholy left you at once. For what may you not promise yourself from a Prince, with whose extraordinary and almost Divine character you are well acquainted.... But when you know what a hero he now shows himself, how wisely he behaves, what a lover he is of justice and goodness, what affection he bears to the learned, I will venture to swear that you will need no wings to make you fly to behold this new and auspicious star. If you could see how all the world here is rejoicing in the possession of so great a Prince, how his life is all their desire, you could not contain your tears for joy. The heavens laugh, the earth exults, all things are full of milk, of honey, of nectar! Avarice is expelled the country. Liberality scatters wealth with a bounteous hand. Our (p. 041) King does not desire gold or gems or precious metals, but virtue, glory, immortality." The picture is overdrawn for modern taste, but making due allowance for Mountjoy's turgid efforts to emulate his master's eloquence, enough remains to indicate the impression made by Henry on a peer of liberal education. His unrivalled skill in national sports and martial exercises appealed at least as powerfully to the mass of his people. In archery, in wrestling, in joust and in tourney, as well as in the tennis court or on the hunting field, Henry was a match for the best in his kingdom. None could draw a bow, tame a steed, or shiver a lance more deftly than he, and his single-handed tournaments on horse and foot with his brother-in-law, the Duke of Suffolk, are likened by one who watched them to the combats of Achilles and Hector. These are no mere trifles below the dignity of history; they help to explain the extraordinary hold Henry obtained over popular imagination. Suppose there ascended the throne to-day a young prince, the hero of the athletic world, the finest oar, the best bat, the crack marksman of his day, it is easy to imagine the enthusiastic support he would receive from thousands of his people who care much for sport, and nothing at all for politics. Suppose also that that prince were endowed with the iron will, the instinctive insight into the hearts of his people, the profound aptitude for government that Henry VIII. displayed, he would be a rash man who would guarantee even now the integrity of parliamentary power or the continuance of cabinet rule. In those days, with thirty years of civil war and fifteen more of conspiracy fresh in men's minds, with no alternative to anarchy save Henry VIII., with a peerage fallen (p. 042) from its high estate, and a Parliament almost lost to respect, royal autocracy was not a thing to dread or distrust. "If a lion knew his strength," said Sir Thomas More of his master to Cromwell, "it were hard for any man to rule him." Henry VIII. had the strength of a lion; it remains to be seen how soon he learnt it, and what use he made of that strength when he discovered the secret.
[Footnote 77: F.M. Nichols, Epistles of Erasmus, i., 457.]
CHAPTER III. (p. 043)
THE APPRENTICESHIP OF HENRY VIII.
Quietly and peacefully, without a threat from abroad or a murmur at home, the crown, which his father had won amid the storm and stress of the field of battle, devolved upon Henry VIII. With an eager profusion of zeal Ferdinand of Aragon placed at Henry's disposal his army, his fleet, his personal services. There was no call for this sacrifice. For generations there had been no such tranquil demise of the crown. Not a ripple disturbed the surface of affairs as the old King lay sick in April, 1509, in Richmond Palace at Sheen. By his bedside stood his only surviving son; and to him the dying monarch addressed his last words of advice. He desired him to complete his marriage with Catherine, he exhorted him to defend the Church, and to make war on the infidel; he commended to him his faithful councillors, and is believed to have urged upon him the execution of De la Pole, Earl of Suffolk, the White Rose of England. On the 22nd he was dead. A fortnight later the funeral procession wended its way from Sheen to St. Paul's, where the illustrious John Fisher, cardinal and martyr, preached the eloge. Thence it (p. 044) passed down the Strand, between hedges and willows clad in the fresh green of spring, to
That acre sown indeed With the richest, royallest seed That the earth did e'er drink in.
There, in the vault beneath the chapel in Westminster Abbey, which bears his name and testifies to his magnificence in building, Henry VII. was laid to rest beside his Queen; dwelling, says Bacon, "more richly dead in the monument of his tomb than he did alive in Richmond or any of his palaces". For years before and after, Torrigiano, the rival of Buonarotti, wrought at its "matchless altar," not a stone of which survived the Puritan fury of the civil war.
[Footnote 78: Sp. Cal., ii., 4.]
On the day of his father's death, or the next, the new King removed from Richmond Palace to the Tower, whence, on 23rd April, was dated the first official act of his reign. He confirmed in ampler form the general pardon granted a few days before by Henry VII.; but the ampler form was no bar to the exemption of fourscore offenders from the act of grace. Foremost among them were the three brothers De la Pole, Sir Richard Empson and Edmund Dudley. The exclusion of Empson and Dudley from the pardon was more popular than the pardon itself. If anything could have enhanced Henry's favour with his subjects, it was the condign punishment of the tools of his father's extortion. Their death was none the less welcome for being unjust. They were not merely refused pardon and brought to the block; a more costly concession was made when their bonds for the payment of loans were cancelled. Their victims, so runs the official record, had been "without (p. 045) any ground or matter of truth, by the undue means of certain of the council of our said late father, thereunto driven contrary to law, reason and good conscience, to the manifest charge and peril of the soul of our said late father".
[Footnote 79: L. and P., i., 2, 12.]
[Footnote 80: Cf. L. and P., i., 1004.]
If filial piety demanded the delivery of his father's soul from peril, it counselled no less the fulfilment of his dying requests, and the arrangements for Catherine's marriage were hurried on with an almost indecent haste. The instant he heard rumours of Henry VII.'s death, Ferdinand sent warning to his envoy in England that Louis of France and others would seek by all possible means to break off the match. To further it, he would withdraw his objections to the union of Charles and Mary; and a few days later he wrote again to remove any scruples Henry might entertain about marrying his deceased brother's wife; while to Catherine herself he declared with brutal frankness that she would get no other husband than Henry. All his paternal anxiety might have been spared. Long before Ferdinand's persuasions could reach Henry's ears, he had made up his mind to consummate the marriage. He would not, he wrote to Margaret of Savoy, disobey his father's commands, reinforced as they were by the dispensation of the Pope and by the friendship between the two families contracted by his sister Mary's betrothal to Catherine's nephew Charles. There were other reasons besides those he alleged. A council trained by Henry VII. was loth to lose the gold of Catherine's dower; it was of the utmost importance to strengthen at once the royal line; and a full-blooded youth of Henry's temperament was not likely to repel a comely (p. 046) wife ready to his hand, when the dictates of his father's policy no longer stood between them. So on 11th June, barely a month after Henry VII.'s obsequies, the marriage, big with destinies, of Henry VIII. and Catherine of Aragon was privately solemnised by Archbishop Warham "in the Queen's closet" at Greenwich. On the same day the commission of claims was appointed for the King's and Queen's coronation. A week then sufficed for its business, and on Sunday, 24th June, the Abbey was the scene of a second State function within three months. Its splendour and display were emblematic of the coming reign. Warham placed the crown on the King's head; the people cried, "Yea, yea!" in a loud voice when asked if they would have Henry as King; Sir Robert Dymock performed the office of champion; and a banquet, jousts and tourneys concluded the ceremonies.
[Footnote 81: Sp. Cal., ii., 3.]
[Footnote 82: Ibid., ii., 8, 15.]
[Footnote 83: L. and P., i., 224.]
[Footnote 84: L. and P., iv., 5774.]
* * * * *
Though he had wedded a wife and been crowned a king, Henry was as yet little more than a boy. A powerful mind ripens slowly in a vigorous frame, and Henry's childish precocity had given way before a youthful devotion to physical sports. He was no prodigy of early development. His intellect, will and character were of a gradual, healthier growth; they were not matured for many years after he came to the throne. He was still in his eighteenth year; and like most young Englishmen of means and muscle, his interests centred rather in the field than in the study. Youth sat on the prow and pleasure at the helm. "Continual feasting" was the phrase in which Catherine described their early married life. In the winter evenings there were masks and comedies, romps (p. 047) and revels, in which Henry himself, Bessie Blount and other young ladies of his Court played parts. In the spring and summer there were archery and tennis. Music, we are told, was practised day and night. Two months after his accession Henry wrote to Ferdinand that he diverted himself with jousts, birding, hunting, and other innocent and honest pastimes, in visiting various parts of his kingdom, but that he did not therefore neglect affairs of State. Possibly he was as assiduous in his duties as modern university athletes in their studies; the neglect was merely comparative. But Ferdinand's ambassador remarked on Henry's aversion to business, and his councillors complained that he cared only for the pleasures of his age. Two days a week, said the Spaniard, were devoted to single combats on foot, initiated in imitation of the heroes of romance, Amadis and Lancelot; and if Henry's other innocent and honest pastimes were equally exacting, his view of the requirements of State may well have been modest. From the earliest days of his reign the general outline of policy was framed in accord with his sentiments, and he was probably consulted on most questions of importance. But it was not always so; in August, 1509, Louis XII. acknowledged a letter purporting to come from the English King with a request for friendship and peace. "Who wrote this letter?" burst out Henry. "I ask peace of the King of France, who dare not look me in the face, still less make war on me!" His pride at the age of eighteen was not less than his ignorance of what passed in his name. He had (p. 048) yet to learn the secret that painful and laborious mastery of detail is essential to him who aspires not merely to reign but to rule; and matters of detail in administration and diplomacy were still left in his ministers' hands.
[Footnote 85: L. and P., vol. ii., p. 1461.]
[Footnote 86: Sp. Cal., ii., 19.]
[Footnote 87: Ibid., ii., 44, 45.]
[Footnote 88: Ven. Cal., ii., 11.]
With the exception of Empson and Dudley, Henry made little or no change in the council his father bequeathed him. Official precedence appertained to his Chancellor, Warham, Archbishop of Canterbury. Like most of Henry VII.'s prelates, he received his preferment in the Church as a reward for services to the State. Much of the diplomatic work of the previous reign had passed through his hands; he helped to arrange the marriage of Arthur and Catherine, and was employed in the vain attempt to obtain Margaret of Savoy as a bride for Henry VII. As Archbishop he crowned and married Henry VIII., and as Chancellor he delivered orations at the opening of the young King's first three Parliaments. They are said to have given general satisfaction, but apart from them, Warham, for some unknown reason, took little part in political business. So far as Henry can be said at this time to have had a Prime Minister, that title belongs to Fox, his Lord Privy Seal and Bishop of Winchester. Fox had been even more active than Warham in politics, and more closely linked with the personal fortunes of the two Tudor kings. He had shared the exile of Henry of Richmond; the treaty of Etaples, the Intercursus Magnus, the marriage of Henry's elder daughter to James IV., and the betrothal of his younger to Charles, were largely the work of his hands. Malicious gossip described him as willing to consent to his own father's death to serve the turn of his king, (p. 049) and a better founded belief ascribed to his wit the invention of "Morton's fork". He was Chancellor of Cambridge in 1500, as Warham was of Oxford, but won more enduring fame by founding the college of Corpus Christi in the university over which the Archbishop presided. He had baptised Henry VIII. and advocated his marriage to Catherine; and to him the King extended the largest share in his confidence. Badoer, the Venetian ambassador, called him "alter rex," and Carroz, the Spaniard, said Henry trusted him most; but Henry was not blind to the failings of his most intimate councillors, and he warned Carroz that the Bishop of Winchester was, as his name implied, a fox indeed. A third prelate, Ruthal of Durham, divided with Fox the chief business of State; and these clerical advisers were supposed to be eager to guide Henry's footsteps in the paths of peace, and counteract the more adventurous tendencies of their lay colleagues.
[Footnote 89: L. and P., i., 811, 2082; ii., 114.]
[Footnote 90: D.N.B., xx., 152.]
[Footnote 91: Ven. Cal., ii., 63.]
[Footnote 92: Sp. Cal., ii., 44.]
At the head of the latter stood Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey, soon to be rewarded for his victory at Flodden by his restoration to the dukedom of Norfolk. He and his son, the third duke, were Lord High Treasurers throughout Henry's reign; but jealousy of their past, Tudor distrust of their rank, or personal limitations, impaired the authority that would otherwise have attached to their official position; and Henry never trusted them as he did ministers whom he himself had raised from the dust. Surrey had served under Edward IV. and Richard III.; he had fought against Henry at Bosworth, been attainted and sent to the Tower. Reflecting that it was better to (p. 050) be a Tudor official at Court than a baronial magnate in prison, he submitted to the King and was set up as a beacon to draw his peers from their feudal ways. The rest of the council were men of little distinction. Shrewsbury, the Lord High Steward, was a pale reflex of Surrey, and illustrious in nought but descent. Charles Somerset, Lord Herbert, who was Chamberlain and afterwards Earl of Worcester, was a Beaufort bastard, and may have derived some little influence from his harmless kinship with Henry VIII. Lovell, the Treasurer, Poynings the Controller of the Household, and Harry Marney, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, were tried and trusty officials. Bishop Fisher was great as a Churchman, a scholar, a patron of learning, but not as a man of affairs; while Buckingham, the only duke in England, and his brother, the Earl of Wiltshire, were rigidly excluded by dynastic jealousy from all share in political authority.
[Footnote 93: He is a link in the hereditary chain which began with Beauforts, Dukes of Somerset and ended in Somersets, Dukes of Beaufort.]
The most persistent of Henry's advisers was none of his council. He was Ferdinand the Catholic, King of Aragon; and to his inspiration has been ascribed the course of foreign policy during the first five years of his son-in-law's reign. He worked through his daughter; the only thing she valued in life, wrote Catherine a month after her marriage, was her father's confidence. When Membrilla was recalled because he failed to satisfy Catherine's somewhat exacting temper, she was herself formally commissioned to act in his place as (p. 051) Ferdinand's ambassador at Henry's Court; Henry was begged to give her implicit credence and communicate with Spain through her mediation! "These kingdoms of your highness," she wrote to her father, "are in great tranquillity." Well might Ferdinand congratulate himself on the result of her marriage, and the addition of fresh, to his already extensive, domains. He needed them all to ensure the success of his far-reaching schemes. His eldest grandson, Charles, was heir not only to Castile and Aragon, Naples and the Indies, which were to come to him from his mother, Ferdinand's imbecile daughter, Juana, but to Burgundy and Austria, the lands of his father, Philip, and of Philip's father, the Emperor Maximilian. This did not satisfy Ferdinand's grasping ambition; he sought to carve out for his second grandson, named after himself, a kingdom in Northern Italy. On the Duchy of Milan, the republics of Venice, Genoa and Florence, his greedy eyes were fixed. Once conquered, they would bar the path of France to Naples; compensated by these possessions, the younger Ferdinand might resign his share in the Austrian inheritance to Charles; while Charles himself was to marry the only daughter of the King of Hungary, add that to his other dominions, and revive the empire of Charlemagne. (p. 052) Partly with these objects in view, partly to draw off the scent from his own track, Ferdinand had, in 1508, raised the hue and cry after Venice. Pope and Emperor, France and Spain, joined in the chase, but of all the parties to the league of Cambrai, Louis XII. was in a position to profit the most. His victory over Venice at Agnadello (14th May, 1509), secured him Milan and Venetian territory as far as the Mincio; it also dimmed the prospects of Ferdinand's Italian scheme and threatened his hold on Naples; but the Spanish King was restrained from open opposition to France by the fact that Louis was still mediating between him and Maximilian on their claims to the administration of Castile, the realm of their daughter and daughter-in-law, Juana.