Book 14 Reign of Henry VII

Book 14 Reign of Henry VII


Chapter I
A. D. 1485

THE battle of Bosworth being ended, as was said, by the flight of the royal army, and death of King Richard, Henry caused Te Deum to be sung upon the place, all the troops falling on their knees to return God thanks for his victory. Presently after, the whole army, as it were by inspiration, made the air re­sound with the cry of, long live King Henry! This was a sort of military election, which might have served him for foundation to pretend to the crown, .though he had no other title.

He had, however, three titles, or foundations, where­on he could ground his right. The first was, his de­scent from the house of Lancaster, by Margaret his mother, daughter of the Duke of Somerset. The house of Lancaster had been possessed of the crown above sixty years, and this possession had been confirmed by many acts of Parliament. But on the other hand, seve­ral Parliaments had afterwards condemned this posses­sion as a continual usurpation, and adjudged the crown to the house of York, as descending from Lionel, third son of Edward III.

This question, considered origi­nally, and independently of the circumstances which moved the Parliaments to come to such opposite deter­minations, could not have been decided in favour of the house of Lancaster, if the laws and customs of the realm had been followed. But if, setting aside the usual practice, it should be considered with respect to the acts of Parliament, it could not be doubtful, since the Pro and Con were equally supported by the same authority. It might also be objected to Henry, that indeed sundry Parliaments had decided the point in favour of the house of Lancaster, but it did not follow that the house of Somerset could receive any advantage from that decision.

The Somersets were indeed descended from the house of Lancaster, but by a bastard branch, which could pretend to the crown only by virtue of their legitimation. Now it was a question yet undecided, whether the Act of Legitimation, and Richard the Second’s subsequent letters patent, gave to that branch, .derived from a bastard born in adultery, the right to succeed to the crown, though mentioned nei­ther in the Act of Parliament, nor in King Richard’s letters. Besides, even upon supposition of this right, another query still arose, namely, whether the posterity of this

Book 15 Reign of Henry VIII

Book 15 Reign of Henry VIII

The Reign of Henry VIII; Containing the Space of Thirty Seven Years and Nine Months

Chapter I
His Education

HENRY VIII, SON AND SUCCESSOR OF HENRY VII, came to the Crown at the age of eighteen years, wanting a few months[1]. The Lord Herbert, his Historian, says, the King his Father designed him at first for the Archbishopric of Canterbury, because having an elder Son, there was no likelihood that this would ascend the Throne. And therefore, continues he, care was taken to instruct him in all the parts of Learning necessary for a Prince that was one day to be a Churchman.

He would have spoken more justly, if he had only said, that Henry VII had such a design when he first put him upon his studies. But as the young prince was become his heir apparent at the age of eleven years, it could not be with the same view, that he caused him to pursue the study of such parts of learning as were proper for a clergyman. It is more likely therefore, that the King his father kept him to his studies, for fear his active and fiery spirit should carry him to more dangerous employments.

He was only son of Queen Elizabeth, heiress of the House of York. Consequently he might have given the King his father some trouble, had he thought of asserting his right as heir to his mother. However this be, Henry having taken a relish for learning in his younger years, preserved it ever after.

He always delighted in perusing good books, and conversing with the learned, even when the multitude of his affairs seemed to divert him from such kind of employments. By this means he made advances in the sciences very uncommon to great Princes. Francis I, his contemporary, stiled by the French historians, the father of the muses, was in learning much his inferior. He spoke French and Latin very well and readily. He was perfectly skilled in music, as two entire Masses composed by himself, and often sung in his chapel, do abundantly witness. He was exercised in the most abstruse points of the Aristotelian Philosophy, which alone was in vogue in those days (1503). But he applied himself chiefly to the study of Divinity, as it was then taught in the universities, all stuffed with useless questions. Thomas Aquinas’s Summary was his favourite book.

Book 16 Reigns of Edward VI and Queen Mary

Book 16 Reigns of Edward VI and Queen Mary


The Reigns of Edward VI, and Queen Mary; Containing The Space of about Twelve Years

Chapter I

His disposition and good qualities. 1547

EDWARD VI, ONLY SON AND SUCCESSOR TO HENRY VIII, was nine years and three months old when he ascended the Throne by the death of the King his Father. His majority was fixed to the eighteenth year of his age, by the late King’s will, but he died before he came to it, after a short reign of six years and five months. The history therefore of these six years, as may be easily judged, will not be so much the history of the King himself, as of his Governors and Ministers.

There was reason to hope extraordinary things from this young Prince, had it pleased God to bless him with a longer life. He had an excellent memory, a wonderful solidity of mind, and withal, he was laborious, sparing no pains to qualify himself for the well governing of his Kingdom. At eight years of age, he wrote Latin letters to his father. French was as familiar to him as English. He learnt also Greek, Spanish, and Italian. After that, he applied himself to the liberal sciences, wherein he made an astonishing progress[1]. Cardan, who saw him in his fifteenth year, speaks of him as of the wonder of the age. The testimony of this (Italian) philosopher was the less suspicious, as it was after the young Prince’s death that he published his praises, and in Italy, where his memory was odious.

He Is Informed of His Father’s Death

As soon as Henry VIII, had resigned his last breath, the Earl of Hertford, and Sir Anthony Brown, were sent by the council, to give young Edward notice of it, and to bring him to London. He was then with his sister the Princess Elizabeth at Hertford, from whence the deputies conducted him to Enfield. Here they inform him of the King’s death (1547), and pay their respects to him as to their Sovereign. After that, they attended him to the Tower of London, where he was received by the council in a body, and proclaimed King the same date the 31st of January, 1547.

On the morrow, the Council met to settle the form of King Henry’s Government during the King’s minority. There was not much to be debated. The Parliament had empowered the late king, not only to settle the Succession by his will, but also to appoint what form of government he should think most proper, till his successor was capable of holding the reins himself. All therefore that was to be done, was to open his will and obey the contents.

Book 17 Reign of Queen Elizabeth I

Book 17 Reign of Queen Elizabeth I


The Reign of Queen Elizabeth: Containing The Space of Forty Four Years, And Four Months

Chapter I
Queen Elizabeth

Queen Mary’s Death Concealed For Some Time 1558

THE Death of Mary, though foreseen, struck the counsellors and ministers with astonishment. They were all of the prevailing religion; and had advised, or at least approved the persecution which the protestants lately groaned under, and now, in all likelihood, the protestants were going in their turn to govern.

Mary’s death was therefore concealed for some hours, to give time to consult what was to be done. But as the Parliament was sitting, it was not in their power to decide any thing concerning the succession, especially as it was clearly settled by the will of Henry VIII, authorised by an act of Parliament which had never been repealed. Their consultation therefore ended only in a message to inform the Parliament of the Queen’s death. This was all that could be done on this occasion.

The House of Lords Deliberate Upon The Succession

The news was first communicated to the House of Lords, who immediately considered the rights of the persons who might pretend to the crown. If this affair had been left, to the decision of the Civil or Common Law, there would have been no small difficulty, so much had Henry perplexed
it by his divorces, and by contradictory acts of Parliament. But in England, the Parliament, which includes the King, Lords, and Commons, is the supreme legislator, and, when force does not interpose, the validity of its laws are unquestionable.

Henry VIII. obtained an act, empowering him to settle the line of succession as he should think proper. He placed Elizabeth next to her sister Mary, though both had been declared bastards. This sufficed to give Elizabeth a right, which the Parliament could not contest, since it was a parliamentary right, as founded in the act to empower Henry to settle the succession.