Rapin’s History of England Book 22

Rapin’s History of England Book 22

TO understand the revolutions in England after the death of Charles I. we are necessarily to remember some material things which have already appeared in the foregoing reign, and of which it will not be amiss to make here a short recapitulation.

A Recapitulation of Some Important Matters

First, The Parliament now sitting consisted properly but of a House of Commons, who refused to acknowledge the negative voice of the Peers, This they had manifestly shewed in erecting a Court of Justice to try the King without the concurrence of the Lords, whose consent was voted unnecessary.

Secondly, This House of Commons was composed of a final number of members, all Independents, Anabaptists, or other sectaries. All the Presbyterian members who sat in the House the 6th of December were expelled by the army; and the absent, whose Principles agreed not with those of the Independents, durst not resume their places. If ever there was an usurpation, it was this maimed Parliament’s Government, founded only in violence, and wholly supported by the army. For though the House of Commons pretended to represent the people of England, it is very certain, the nation afforded but few persons, who were pleased to see the sovereign power lodged in the hands of such representatives.

Thirdly, The Independents, of whom this House was chiefly composed, were distinguished by two principles, one relating to the civil, the other to the Ecclesiastical Government. By the first, they asserted, that the Republican Government was not only the most perfect, but also absolutely necessary for England, after so many oppressions from her Kings, who had changed the Government into a real tyranny.

Rapin’s History of England Book 21 – Reign of King Charles I – Part 3

Rapin’s History of England Book 21 – Reign of King Charles I – Part 3

Containing The Third and Last Part of The Reign of Charles I.
1642 AD August 2
Condition of The King at Nottingham

THE King had imagined, that the setting up of his standard would draw great numbers of people to Nottingham, who would come and
offer him their service: but he was very much disappointed. He had
with him but three hundred foot, and some trained-bands drawn together by Sir John Digby, Sheriff of the county.

His cavalry consisted only of eight hundred horse, and his artillery was still at York, from whence it was difficult to bring it, many things being yet wanted to prepare and form it for marching, and besides, there were no foot to guard it. Nevertheless, as he had given out many commissions, and ordered his forces to repair to Nottingham, he expected them in that town, though not without danger, the Parliament having at Coventry five thousand foot, and fifteen hundred horse.

Thus the King was in a very melancholy state before the war was well begun. He had appointed Robert Bartu Earl of Lindsey for General; but had yet no army. The Princes Rupert and Maurice his nephews, brothers of the Elector Palatine, being come to offer him their service in the beginning of September, he made Prince Rupert General of his horse, quartered at Leicester, whither the Prince went and took upon him the command. The King, it is certain, was in extreme danger at Nottingham.

That town was not in condition to make a long resistance, and the King having scarce any forces, if the Parliament’s troops, which were within twenty miles of the place, had marched directly to him, he must have been forced to retire with dishonour to York, unless he would have hazarded his being made prisoner.

Rapin’s History of England Book 20 – Reign of King Charles I – Part 2

Rapin’s History of England Book 20 – Reign of King Charles I – Part 2

Chapter I
The Second Part of the Reign of Charles I

November 3rd 1640
The State of The King’s Affairs

THE KING’S AFFAIRS, AT THE MEETING PARLIAMENT, were in a very ill situation. Instead of subduing the Scots, as he flattered himself, he had the mortification to see them enter England, force the passage of the Tine, defeat a considerable body of his army, and render themselves masters of Newcastle.

Moreover, he saw his own troops not very ready to serve him. They consisted, for the most part, of soldiers listed against their wills, in the several counties, and prejudiced, like the rest of the nation, against the government. Besides, the valour of the Scots being magnified by those who had been routed, and by the King’s private enemies, inspired the English troops with some terror. Moreover, the King wanted money to pay them. His whole resource was the two hundred thousand pounds borrowed of the city of London, till it should please the Parliament to furnish him with the necessary supplies. But he could hardly expect that the Parliament would be favourable to him. It was universally believed, he had called it against his inclination, and because he could find no other way to free himself from his present circumstances.
What had passed in the four Parliaments held since the beginning of his reign, the dissolutions of these Parliaments, with heat and animosity, the imprisonment of their members, the discontinuance of Parliaments for twelve years, the taxes imposed by the King’s sole authority during that space, the monopolies upon all sorts of goods and commodities, the decay of trade; the open protection granted by the King to the Papists and Armenians, the severities exercised upon the Presbyterians, the innovations in religion, the almost universal suspicion of a design to introduce Popery, the excessive authority usurped by the Council and Star-Chamber, the corruption of the Judges, in a word, the principles of arbitrary power asserted by the Court, bred a general discontent.

Rapin’s History of England – Book 19 – King Charles I (Part 1)

Rapin’s History of England – Book 19 – King Charles I (Part 1)

CHARLES I. SON AND SUCCESSOR OF JAMES I. was tinctured from his infancy with the principles concerning the regal authority and prerogative Royal, which were so much improved by the deceased King during his life. He had the same favourite, the same council, the same ministers, and all the places at court, and in the Kingdom, continued in the hands of the Duke of Buckingham’s creatures.

Buckingham is Favourite to The New King

So, there was nothing new but the King’s person. Charles’s journey to Spain had so endeared the Duke of Buckingham to him, that King James’s affection for that favourite was nothing, as I may say, in comparison of the new King’s. It was thought, and it is

not unlikely, if James had lived, he would have discarded the Duke, with whom he was displeased for several reasons:–

1. Because of the journey to Spain, of which he was the sole adviser, and which had exposed the King to the censure of all Europe.

2. On account of the breach of the Spanish match without any just cause.

3. For the Duke’s engaging him, as it were against his will, to break with Spain.

4. For causing, by the Prince’s credit, and his interest with the Parliament, the Lord Treasurer Middlesex to be condemned, in spite of the King himself, who did his utmost to save him, and even sued to the Prince and Duke for his pardon, without being able to obtain it.

The Duke is Suspected of King James I Death

Thus James died very seasonably, for the favourite, who, probably, to support himself, must have set the Prince at variance with his father, which might have had terrible consequences. This raised strong suspicions of the Duke, which were farther confirmed by his presuming to apply a plaster to the King’s side, and giving him, with his own hand, a potion to drink, without the advice of his physicians.

Indeed, the Duke could not be directly accused of hastening the King his benefactor’s death, by the remedies he gave him. But when the time and circumstances of this unexpected death, caused by a tertian ague, not usually very dangerous in the spring, were jointly considered, with the embarrassments it delivered the favourite from, and the advantages it procured him, it was difficult not to suspect him.

And yet, on the other hand, when the new King was seen to have an entire affection for the Duke, it could not be imagined that he doubted his innocence in that respect. However this be, this Duke of Buckingham was the son’s favourite, as he had been the father’s, with still greater power and credit than he had enjoyed in the foregoing reign.


Rapin’s English History Book 8 Reigns of King John and Henry III

Rapin’s English History Book 8 Reigns of King John and Henry III

AD 1199

THOUGH Richard made the prince his brother heir to all his dominions, John’s right was not thereby rendered incontestable. In the affair of the succession, two queries presented themselves not easy to be decided. The first was, whether, according to law, Arthur duke of Bretagne, as representing his father Geoffrey, elder brother of John, had as much or more right than his uncle John, who was one degree nearer.

In the second query, the business was to know, whe­ther in case the laws favoured the nephew, Richard had power to dispose of his dominions by a will contrary to custom.

Two things rendered the decision of these queries ex­ceedingly difficult: first, the diversity between the laws of the several states, to which this succession related. Secondly, in the kingdom of England, the largest and most considerable part, the right of primogeniture was neither correctly understood, nor regularly acted upon; consequently, there was no settled law concerning the succession to the crown, by which the kings were al­lowed or debarred the power of disposing of it as they pleased.

The strongest argument in favour of John was, that, there being no established law, his title was as good as Arthur’s; and moreover, he had for him king Richard’s will. But on the other hand, in most of the provinces possessed by the English in France, the right of representation in the lineal descent was generally re­ceived. This affair would have been liable to great discussions, had it been to be determined in a court of justice, or in the general assembly of the states; but John, not thinking proper to commit his right to the decision of any tribunal, took a course, which to him seemed not so uncertain.

Rapin’s History of England – Book Seven

Rapin’s History of England – Book Seven

Chapter I
HENRY II Sirnamed Plantagenet
A. D. 1154

THE English were too weary of the civil wars, which had so long afflicted the kingdom, willingly to run the hazard of seeing them renewed. Though the death of Stephen might have easily furnished an occa­sion for fresh commotion, they peaceably waited for the duke of Normandy, who could not come into England, till six weeks after he had received the news[1]. During this interval, not a man offered to dispute his title. Be­sides that prince William, son of the deceased king, was a prince of little merit, the late proceedings of most of the barons against the king his father kept them from adhering to the fortune of the young prince, for fear of putting it in his power to be revenged. Moreover, Henry was not only powerful beyond sea, but had also a great party in the kingdom, and the strongest places were in the hands of his creatures. And, therefore, supposing William had been willing to try to place himself on the throne, he would have wanted the necessary assistance to accomplish his de­sign.

A. D. 1155] Henry was crowned[2] the next day after his arrival, pursuant to the agreement made with Stephen, of which all the barons of the realm were guarantees. It was with extreme satisfaction, that the English beheld on the throne a prince descended by his mother from their ancient kings, and who gave the crown a brighter lustre than ever. He added to it, as so many new gems, Poictou, Guienne, Saintonge, Maine, Anjou, Touraine, and Normandy, of which he was in actual possession. Meantime, England, the most consider­able part of his dominions, had endured such violent shocks in the late reign, that in order to recover its an­cient splendour, some rest was necessary.

The most proper means to that end, was the putting it out of the power of the factious to excite new troubles. Accord­ingly Henry made that his chief business from the first hour of his reign. He began with demolishing the great number of castle’s that had been fortified in Ste­phen’s reign, and served only for sanctuaries to robbers, and disturbers of the public[3]. The bishop of Win­chester alone had six of the most considerable, which he forfeited for going out of the kingdom without leave.

Rapin’s History of England Book 6

Rapin’s History of England Book 6


WILLIAM the Conqueror was two and forty years old at the time of the battle of Hast­ings, and had now been three and thirty years duke of Normandy. It will be necessary, there­fore, before we enter upon his reign, to consider by what degrees Providence raised him to the throne of England, of which his birth seemed to give him no manner of prospect.

Normandy, one of the largest and most considerable provinces of France, was possessed by the Normans ever since the forced grant made by Charles the Simple to Rollo the Dane, the first duke. Rollo and his im­mediate successors, content with this noble acquisition, were less solicitous about enlarging their bounds, than securing the possession to their posterity. By means of numerous colonies of their own nation, who by reci­procal marriages were incorporated with the natives, they soon caused the two nations to become one people, under the common name of Normans; as the French called the foreigners lately settled in Neustria, which from them took also the name of Normandy. The first dukes made it their principal care to gain the affection of their subjects, by causing them to enjoy, as much as possible, the sweets of peace, and governing them with justice and equity. By this prudent conduct they not only destroyed the seeds of rebellion, which might lurk in the hearts of the ancient inhabitants; but also screen­ed themselves from the secret practices of the kings of France, who grieved to see so noble a province torn from their monarchy.

From Rollo to William the Bastard there were seven dukes, among whom Richard II. who was the fourth, was one of the most illustrious. His first wife was Judith of Bretagne, by whom he had three sons, Richard, Robert, and William. After the death of Judith, he made a double alliance with Canute the Great, giving him his sister Emma, widow to Ethelred II. king of England, and taking himself Estrith sister to that prince. How honourable soever this match might be, his love of a young damsel called Pavia, caused him to divorce Estrith and marry his mistress. By this second wife he had William earl of Argues, and Manger archbishop of Rouen.

After the death of this prince, his son Richard III succeeded him, notwithstanding the endeavours of his younger brother Robert to supplant him. Robert, not being able to accomplish his designs, was forced to desist; or rather, as some affirm, went a surer and a more ready way to work. It is said, he procured his brother to be poisoned, who, after a reign of two years, left him the possession of the dukedom, he had so ardently wish­ed for. Whether duke Robert’s crime was never fully proved, or his just government blotted out the remem­brance of it, he found means to gain the affection of his people at home by his justice and liberality, whilst his valour made him respected abroad. By his aid, it was that Henry I. king of France, took possession of the throne,

Rapin’s History of England Book 5 – Appendix

Rapin’s History of England Book 5 – Appendix


THE revolution which happened in Europe, about the beginning of the fifth century, is one of the most remarkable events in history. The Roman empire, which was almost of equal extent with the known world, was then divided into two empires, one containing the eastern, the other the western provinces.

The western empire was so harassed by the continual invasions of the northern nations, that loos­ing by degrees all its provinces, it was reduced to no­thing, and the very name of emperor of the west, vanished with that empire. This great revolution quite altered the state of Europe, by introducing new inhabitants, who, raising new kingdoms upon the ruins of the Roman Empire, brought at the same time new laws and customs into the conquered countries.

Spain was peopled with colonies of Visigoths, Catti, Alani, and Suevi. Gallia was overwhelmed with a deluge of Visigoths, Burgundians, and Francs. Italy was so exposed to the successive invasions of the Heruli, Ostrogoths, and Lombards, that the ancient inhabitants, in­stead of preserving the superiority of number, made no figure at all. The Saxons, Suevi, and Bavarians, spread themselves over all Germany, and became masters over that vast tract of land. In a word, Great-Britain was so over-run with Saxons, Angles, and Jutes, that hardly could any remains of the ancient Britons be discovered. It was very natural for these conquerors to establish in their new erected kingdoms their own country customs. And therefore it may be advanced for certain, that the laws now in force, through­out the greatest part of Europe, are derived from the laws these ancient conquerors brought with them from the north.

In the second book of this history we have seen that the Saxons were no sooner arrived in Great Britain than they formed a design of settling there, and at length succeeded after a war of 150 years. This long war bred such enmity between them and the Britons, that there is no probability the Saxons, who in the end proved victorious, should borrow from the vanquished the form of government, established in their conquests. If therefore we would trace the origin of the laws and customs of the Anglo-Saxons, we must search for it in Germany and the other northern countries, rather than among the ancient Britons. And indeed, such is the resemblance between the laws of the Saxons, Francs, Suevi, Lombards, and the other northern nations, that it must necessarily be concluded, they had all the same origin, of an older date than the separation of these peo­ple.

Rapin’s History of England Book 5

Rapin’s History of England Book 5


AD 978

AFTER the murder of Edward, there was not the least pretence to refuse the crown to his brother Ethelred, who was the only prince of the royal family, and too young to be accused of partaking in his mother’s crime. Accordingly, Dunstan could not help crowning him[1], being then but twelve years of age, though he plainly foresaw it would prove fatal to his whole party.

It is affirmed, that Dunstan at his coronation foretold, by the spirit of prophecy, the calamities which England would be exposed to in his reign. But predictions of this na­ture are always to be suspected, when attributed to saints, such as Dunstan, by authors who wrote after the event. The people, however, flattered themselves, they were about to enjoy a state of tranquillity, under a prince who had already given an instance of his good nature, in bitterly lamenting the death of the king his brother, though it procured him the crown. His tears, we are told, appeared so unseasonable to his mother, that catching up a wax taper in a passion, she beat him so unmercifully with it, that he could not endure the sight of a wax light ever after.

The first thing Ethelred did after his coronation, was to remove the body of the late king to Shaftsbury church. Hardly had he performed this office, but he found him­self attacked by the Danes, who suffered him to enjoy no repose during the residue of his life. If this prince had followed the steps of his predecessors, perhaps he would have caused these old invaders to lay aside all thoughts of any new attempts upon England. But his natural cowardice, joined to an extreme sluggishness, an insatiable avarice, and many other failings, soon let them see, he was not likely to prove a very formida­ble enemy.

Rapin’s History of England – Book 4

Rapin’s History of England – Book 4


Origin of The Danes

ENGLAND, now grown more powerful by the union of the seven kingdoms, seemed to be better secured than ever from foreign invasions. Yet, shortly after this union it was, that the Danes commenced their descents with fury, equal to that wherewith the English themselves had formerly attacked the Britons. For above two hundred years these new enemies were so obstinately bent upon the ruin of the island, that it can­not be conceived either how their country could supply them with troops sufficient for so long and bloody a war, or how the English could hold out against so many rei­terated attacks. Before we enter upon particulars, how­ever, it will be necessary to premise some account of these Danes, who in the IXth century became so formidable to all Europe, and especially to England.

Scandia, or Scandinavia[1] situated in the north of Eu­rope, contains a tract of land in length from north to south about four hundred leagues, and in breadth from east to west about one hundred and fifty. According to tradition, this country was peopled soon after the flood, by two nations, or rather two branches of the same nation, the Goths and Swedes, who founded two large kingdoms in this part of the world. From these two nations, who were sometimes united and sometimes divided, sprang, as they say, all those colonies, which after the decline of the Roman empire, over ran the rest of Europe.

In the reign of Eric the sixth king of the Goths[2], Gothland had become so exceedingly populous, that the country was unable to maintain its inhabitants. To remedy this inconvenience, which daily increased, Eric was compelled to send away part of his subjects to seek their fortune in the neighbouring isles. These colonies at length not only peopled the island, but also Jutland on the Continent, formerly known by the name of Cimbrica Chersonesus. The people thus spread over the isles and the Chersonese, acknowledged above seven hundred years the kings of Gothland for their sovereigns. Humel, the sixteenth king of the Goths, first made them independent, by letting them have for their king Dan[3] his son, from whom Denmark received its name. Norway also very probably was peopled by Gothic colonies, since it remained a long while under the dominion of the kings of Gothland. In process of time, and after many revolutions, Norway was governed by judges indepen­dent of Gothland, till about the end of the IXth century, when it became subject to a king.