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the church; there was no middle class. The lower class belonged, in fact, to the barons and the church. It was after this period that a middle class was formed in towns, and that persons associated together for manufactures, or commerce, or for improving their condition in any other manner.

In these days no anxiety was manifested by the sovereigns to promote the welfare of the people. They undertook to wage war, not to ensure any political benefit, but either to find employment for the restless and savage spirit of the barons, or to gratify some imaginary pique or wounded vanity, or to be enabled to increase their military force, or as a pretext for applying to the clergy and to the barons for subsidies which otherwise could not be obtained. "In 1270, under Henry III., the laws were not executed; the barons oppressed the common people with impunity; they gave shelter to bands of robbers, whom they employed in committing ravages." The useless and buccaneering exploits, commencing at this period, and concluding with Henry the Eighth's attack on Boulogne in 1554, sufficiently attest the barbarism of those days, the profligacy of the sovereigns, the turbulent and warlike spirit of the nobles, and the utterly powerless state of the people, on whom the chief burden of the wars was imposed. To imagine there was any sort of similitude to a constitutional form of govern

* Chron. Dunst., vol. i. p. 404.

ment, or any of the requisites for civilisation spread among the community, would be a delusion.

Many of our historians (Hume in particular), when they commemorate the events of bygone days, commit a grievous error in confounding the sentiments of the barons and of the upper clergy with those of the nation at large. These two orders had certainly, in early times, much of the power, and nearly all the landed property, of the country. The former were ignorant, haughty, and tyrannical; the latter probably possessed all the learning of their age; but they were biassed by their attachment to, and lived under the influence of, the Church of Rome. The united voice of the barons and clergy could not therefore be responded to by the people, and was unlike in its influence to public opinion as we have defined it. Civilisation was not sufficiently extended at the time to create that sentiment.

Hume, who is not disinclined to support arbitrary power, but is usually correct in his statement of historical facts, says, in reference to the time of Edward III.,. "They mistake, indeed, much the genius of this reign who imagine it was not extremely arbitrary. All the high prerogatives of the crown were to the full exerted in it: such as the dispensing power, the extension of the forests, erecting monopolies, exacting loans, stopping justice by particular warrants, levying arbitrary and exorbitant fines, extending the authority of the privy council and the star chamber to the decision of pri

vate causes, and innumerable other acts of oppression. No abuse of arbitrary power was more frequently exercised than imposing taxes." Cotton's Abridgment of the Records gives similar instances of this kind in the first and subsequent years of Edward the Third's reign. Such, indeed, was the low state of civilisation in those early days. Little or no improvement took place in the subsequent reigns of the Tudor race, when arbitrary domination in the sovereign was augmented. The influence of the barons lay dormant in the reign of Edward the Third *; it rose again subsequently, and existed until the wars of the Roses, when the power of the barons, by the contests that took place in these civil wars, was much diminished by their destruction of each other. At the conclusion of these wars, by the prudence, discretion, and economy of Henry VII., the baronial influence was nearly annihilated, and the sway of the monarch strengthened in proportion; so that both Henry VII. and his successors of the Tudor race could be ranked among the most despotic monarchs in Europe. This power was handed down by them to the Stuarts, and continued until the Rebellion and consequent civil war.

"In so much better a condition were the privileges of the people, even in the arbitrary reign of Edward III., than during some subsequent reigns, particularly those of the Tudors, when no tyranny or abuse of power ever met with any check or oppoHume, 8vo edit.,

sition, or so much as a remonstrance."

vol. ii. p. 492.

There seems little necessity to dwell much on this period of our history: it would be of trifling service to the subject of our inquiry. The state of society in England appears to have ameliorated by a slow and imperceptible rise, and an equally slow and gradual increase in the elements of civilisation from these days to the Reformation, which was indeed a step of the greatest importance to the subject of our investigation.

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CHAPTER III.

WARS OF THE ROSES.

The Factions of York and Lancaster. - Great Part of the English Barons perished in these Wars.-Policy of Henry VII. -Legal Sanction given to the Feudal Chiefs to alienate their Lands. Great Advantage to the Cause of Civilisation. — Absolute Power of the Monarchs of England.

THE civil discords that took place in England, between the rival factions of York and Lancaster, denominated the wars of the Roses, by which much individual suffering was experienced by the people, and which nearly exterminated the baronial nobility of the Conquest, are styled by Milton the poet a "war fit for Cain to be the leader of— an abhorred, a cursed, a fraternal war."

The wars of the Roses were not the contests of

the people. They had their origin in a family dispute touching the succession to the throne, thus encouraging the ambition of two rival factions of barons. The chieftains were accordingly able to gratify their martial ardour, and to live with their followers at free quarters on their opponents. These civil wars were so far of service, that they accelerated the downfall of the feudal power of the barons,

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