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XVII.

CHA P. England. Each pope, sensible, from this prevail

jing spirit among the people, that the kingdom 1399. which once embraced his cause would always ad

here to him, boldly maintained all the pretensions of his see, and stood not much more in awe of the temporal sovereigns, than if his authority had not been endangered by a rival.

We meet with this preamble to a law enacted at the very beginning of this reign: “ Whereas divers “ persons of small garrison of land or other pos

sessions, do make great retinue of people, as well “ of esquires as of others, in many parts of the realm, giving to them hats and other livery of «. one suit by year, taking again towards them the “ value of the same livery, or percase the double “ value, by such covenant and assurance that every “ of them should maintain other in all quarrels, be. “ they reasonable or unreasonable, to the great " mischief and oppression of the people, &c.''s. This preamble contains a true picture of the state of the kingdom. The laws had been so feebly executed, even during the long, active, and vigilant reign of Edward III. that no subject could trust to their protection. Men openly associated themselves, under the patronage of some great ba- . ron, for their mutual defence. They wore public badges, by which their confederacy was distinguished. They supported each other in all quarrels, iniquities, extortions, murders, robberies, and other crimes. Their chief was more their sovereignthan the king himself; and their own band was more connected with them than their country. Hence the perpetual turbulence, disorders, factions, and civil wars of those times : Hence the small regard paid to a character or the opinion of the public: Hence the large discretionary prerogatives of the crown, and the danger which might have

ensued Froissard, lib. ii. chap. 133, 134. Walsingham, p. 298, 299, 300, &c. Knyghton, p. 2671. 8 1 Richard II. chap. 7.

1399,

ensued from the too great limitation of them. Ifc H A P. the king had possessed, no arbitrary powers,

while

XVII. all the nobles assumed and exercised them, there must have ensued an absolute anarchy in the state,

ONE great mischief attending these confederacies, was the extorting from the king pardons for the most enormous crimes. The parliament often endeavoured, in the last reign, to deprive the prince of this prerogative; but, in the present, they were content with an abridgment of it. They enacted, that no pardon for rapes or for murder from malice prepense, should be valid, unless the crime were particularly specified in it." There were also some other circumstances required for passing any pardon of this kind : An excellent law; but ill observed, like most laws that thwart the manners of the

peo. ple, and the prevailing customs of the times.

It is easy to observe, from these voluntary asso, ciations among the people, that the whole force of the feudal system was in a manner dissolved, and that the English had nearly returned, in that particular, to the same situation in which they stood before the Norman conquest. It was, indeed, impossible that that system could long subsist under the perpetual revolutions to which landed property is every where subject. When the great feudal baronies were first erected, the lord lived in opulence in the midst of his vassals: He was in a situation to protect and cherish and defend them : The quality of patron naturally united itself to that of superior And these two principles of authority mutually supported each other. But when, by the various divisions and mixtures of property, a man's superior came to live at a distance from him, and could no longer give him shelter or countenance; the tie gradually became more fictitious than real: New connections from vicinity or other causes were formed:

Protection

► 13 Richard II. chap. 1.

1399.

CH A P. Protection was sought by voluntary services and atxvi. tachment: The appearance of valour, spirit, abili

ties in any great man, extended his interest very far: And if the sovereign were deficient in these qualities, he was no less, if not more exposed to the usurpations of the aristocracy, than even during the vigour of the feudal system.

The greatest novelty introduced into the civil government during this reign was the creation of peers by patent. Lord Beauchamp of Holt was the first peer

that was advanced to the house of lords in this manner. The practice of levying benevolences is also first mentioned in the present reign.

This prince lived in a' more magnificent manner than perhaps any of his predecessors or successors. His household consisted of 10,000 persons : He had 300 in his kitchen; and all the other offices were furnished in proportion.' It must be remarked, that this enormous train had tables supplied them at the king's expence, according to the mode of that age. Such prodigality was probably the source of many exactions by purveyors, and was one chief reason of the public discontents.

* Harding : This poet says, that he speaks from the authority of a clerk of the

green

cloth.

CHAP. XVIII.

HENRY IV.

Title of the king-An insurrection-An insurrection

in Wales-The earl of Northumberland rebelsBattle of Shrewsbury -State of Scotland-Parliamentary transactions-Death-and character of the king

1399.

THE English had so long been familiarised to CHA P.

1 the hereditary succession of their monarchs, the XVIIL instances of departure from it had always borne 7 such strong symptoms of injustice and violence, and Title of so little of a national choice or election, and the the king. returns to the true line had ever been deemed such fortunate incidents in their history, that Henry was afraid lest, in resting his title on the consent of the people, he sliould build on a foundation to which the people themselves were not accustomed, and whose solidity they would with difficulty be. brought to recognize. The idea too of choice seemed always to imply that of conditions, and a right of recalling the consent upon any supposed violation of them; an idea which was not naturally agreeable to a sovereign, and might, in England, be dangerous to the subjects, who, lying so much under the influence of turbulent nobles, had ever paid but an imperfect obedience even to their hereditary princes. For these reasons, Henry was dea termined never to have recourse to this claim; the only one on which his authority could consistently stand: He rather chose to patch up his title in the best manner he could from other pretensions :

And

stand: He which his secourse to this

1399

CH A P. And in the end, he left himself, in the eyes of men XVIII. of sensen

of sense, no ground of right but his present possession; a very precarious foundation, which by its very nature, was liable to be overthrown by every faction of the great, or prejudice of the people. He had indeed a present advantage over his competitor: The heir of the house of Mortimer, who had been declared, in parliament, heir to the crown, was a boy of seven years of age :( His friends consulted his safety, by keeping silence with regard to his title: Henry detained him and his younger brother in an honourable custody at Windsor castle: But he had reason to dread, that, in proportion as that nobleman grew to man's estate, he would draw to him the attachment of the people, and make them reflect on the fraud, violence, and injustice, by which he had been excluded from the throne. Many favourable topics would occur in his behalf: He was a native of England ; possessed an extensive interest from the greatness and alliances of his family ; however criminal the deposed monarch, this youth was entirely innocent; he was of the same religion, and educated in the same manners with the people, and could not be governed by any separate interest: These views would all concur to favour his claim; and though the abilities of the present prince might ward off any dangerous revolution, it was justly to be apprehended that his authority could with difficulty be brought to equal that of his predecessors.

HENRY, in his very first parliament, had reason to see the danger. attending that station which he had assumed, and the obstacles which he would meet within governing an unruly aristocracy, always divided by faction, and at present inflamed with the resentments consequent on such recent convulsions. The peers, on their assembling, broke out into violent animosities against each other;

forty k Dugdale, vol. i. p. 151.

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