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ILLUSTRATIONS

FACING PAGE

DELILAH'S TREACHERY TO SAMSON

Fac-simile Illumination of the Fourteenth Century

Frontispiece

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A PAGE FROM THE CHRONICUM ABBATIS USPERGENSIS

Fac-simile example of Printing and Engraving in the Sixteenth Century

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LORD SAYE AND SELE BROUGHT BEFORE JACK CADE

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CHARLES I AND VAN DYCK AT HAMPTON COURT

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THE BRITISH EMPIRE

Map of the World, showing British Territory. .

A SHORT HISTORY

OF

THE ENGLISH PEOPLE

CHAPTER VII.

THE REFORMATION.

A

Section 1.--The Protestants, 1540—1553.*
T Cromwell's death the success of his policy was com-

plete. The Monarchy had reached the height of its

power. The old liberties of England lay prostrate at the feet of the King. The Lords were cowed and spiritless; the House of Commons was filled with the creatures of the Court and degraded into an engine of tyranny. Royal proclamations were taking the place of parliamentary legislation; benevolences were encroaching more and more on the right of parliamentary taxation. Justice was prostituted in the ordinary courts to the royal will, while the boundless and arbitrary powers of the royal Council were gradually superseding the slower processes of the Common Law. The new religious changes had thrown an almost sacred character over the

majesty " of the King. Henry was the Head of the Church. From the primate to the meanest deacon every minister of it derived from him his sole right to exercise spiritual powers. The voice of its preachers was the echo of his will. He alone

* Authorities. For the close of Henry's reign and for that of Edward, we have a mass of material in Strype's “ Memorials,” and his lives of Cranmer, Cheke, and Smith, in Mr. Pocock's edition of “Burnet's History of the Reformation,” in Hayward's Life of Edward, and Edward's own Journal, in Holinshed's Chronicle," and Machyn's “ Diary” (Camden Society). For the Protectorate see the correspondence published by Mr. Tytler in his “ England under Edward VI. and Mary; much light is thrown on its close by Mr. Nicholls in the

VOL. II.-1

I

could define orthodoxy or declare heresy. The forms of its worship and belief were changed and rechanged at the royal caprice. Half of its wealth went to swell the royal treasury, and the other half lay at the King's mercy. It was this unprecedented concentration of all power in the hands of a single man that overawed the imagination of Henry's subjects. He was regarded as something high above the laws which govern common men. The voices of statesmen and of priests extolled his wisdom and power as more than human. The Parliament itself rose and bowed to the vacant throne when his name was mentioned. An absolute devotion to his person replaced the old loyalty to the law. When the Primate of the English Church described the chief merit of Cromwell, it was by asserting that he loved the King “no less than he loved God.”

It was indeed Cromwell, as we have seen, who more than any man had reared this fabric of king-worship; but he had hardly reared it before it began to give way. The very success of his measures indeed brought about the ruin of his policy. One of the most striking features of his system had been his revival of Parliaments. The great assembly which the Monarchy, from Edward the Fourth to Wolsey, had dreaded and silenced, was called to the front again by Cromwell, and turned into the most formidable weapon of despotism. He saw nothing to fear in a House of Lords whose nobles cowered helpless before the might of the Crown, and whose spiritual members his policy was degrading into mere tools of the royal will. Nor could he find anything to dread in a House of Commons which was crowded with members directly or indirectly nominated by the royal Council. With a Parliament such as this Cromwell might well trust to make the nation itself through its very representatives an accomplice in the work of absolutism. It was by parliamentary statutes that the Church was prostrated at the feet of the Monarchy. It was by bills of attainder that

“ Chronicle of Queen Jane” (Camden Society). Among outer observers, the Venetian Soranzo deals with the Protectorate; and the despatches of Giovanni Michiel, published by Mr. Friedmann, with the events of Mary's reign. In spite of endless errors, of Puritan prejudices and deliberate suppressions of the truth (many of which will be found corrected by Dr. Maitland's “ Essay on the Reformation"), its mass of facts and wonderful charm of style will always give a great importance to the “ Book of Martyrs” of Foxe. The story of the early Protestants has been admirably wrought up by Mr. Froude (“ History of England," chap. vi.).

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