As we turn over the pages of universal history, and follow the shifting course of events, we perceive almost at the first glance one comprehensive process of change going on, which, more than any other, governs the external fortunes of the world. Through long periods of time the historic life of the human race was active in Western Asia and in the lands bordering on the Mediterranean which look towards the East: there it laid the foundations of its higher culture. We may rightly regard as the greatest event that meets us in the whole course of authentic history, the fact that the seats of the predominant power and culture have been transplanted to the Western lands and the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. Not merely the abodes of the ancient civilised nations, but even the capitals which were the medium of communication between East and West, have fallen into barbarism; even the great metropolis, from which first political, and then spiritual, dominion extended itself in both directions over widespread territories, has not maintained its rank[7]. It was due to this tendency of things, combined with a certain geographical cause[8], that neither could the medieval Empire attain its full development, nor the Papacy continue to subsist with unimpaired authority. From age to age the political and intellectual life of the world transferred itself ever more and more to the nations dwelling further West, especially since a new hemisphere was opened up to their impulses of activity and extension. So it was that the chief interests of the Pyrenean peninsula? drew towards its ocean coasts; that there grew up on either side of the Channel which separates the Continent from Britain, the two great capitals in which modern activity is chiefly concentrated[9]; that Northern Germany, together with the races which touch on the North Sea and the Baltic, developed a life and a system of their own; it is in these regions latterly that the universal spirit of the human race chiefly works out its task, and displays its activity in moulding states, creating ideas, and subjugating nature.

Yet this transmission, this transplanting, is not the work of a blind destiny. While civilisation in the East succumbed and died out before the advance of races incapable of culture, it was welcomed in the West by races possessing the requisite capacity, which by their inborn force gave it new forms and indestructible bases for its outward existence. Nor have the nations and kingdoms arisen each from its mother earth, as it were in obedience to some inward impulse of inevitable necessity, but amid constant assimilation and rejection, ever repeated wars to secure their future, and a ceaseless struggle with opposing elements that threatened their ruin.

The object of universal history is to place before our eyes the leading changes, and the conflicts of nations, together with their causes and results. Our purpose is to depict the history of one of the chief of the Western nations, the English, and that too in an age which decisively modified both its inner constitution and its outward position in the world, but it cannot be understood unless we first pourtray, with a few quick touches, the historical events under the influence of which it became civilised and great.


The history of Western Europe in general opens with the struggle between Kelts, Romans, and Germans, which determined out of what elements modern nations should be formed.

Just as it is supposed that Albion in early times was connected with the Continent, and only separated from it by the raging sea-flood which buried the intermediate lands in the abyss[10], so in ethnographic relations it would seem as if the aboriginal Keltic tribes of the island had been only separated by some accident from those which occupied Gaul and the Netherlands. The Channel is no national boundary. We find Belgians in Britain, Britons in Eastern Gaul, and very many names of peoples common to both coasts; there were tribes which, though separated by the sea, yet acknowledged the same prince. Without being able to prove how far natives of the island took part in the expeditions of conquest, which pouring forth from Gaul inundated the countries on the Danube and Italy, Greece and Western Asia, we yet can trace the affinity of names and tribes as far as these expeditions extend. This island was the home of the religion that gave a certain unity to the populations[11], which, though closely akin, nevertheless contended with each other in ceaseless discord. It was that Druidic discipline which combined a priestly constitution with civil privileges, and with a very peculiar doctrine of a political and even moral purport. We might be tempted to suppose that the atrocity of human sacrifice was first introduced among them by the Punic race. For they were from primeval times connected with the Carthaginians and Phoenicians, who were the first to traverse the outer sea, and sought in the island a metal which was very valuable for the wants of the ancient world. Distant clans might retain in the mountains their original wildness, but the southern coasts ranked in the earliest times as rich and civilised. They stood within the circle of the relations that had been created by the expeditions of the Keltic tribes, by the mixture of peoples thence arising, by the war and commerce of the earliest age.

In the great war between Rome and Carthage[12], which decided the destiny of the ancient world, the Keltic tribes took part as allies of the Punic race. If Carthage had conquered, they would have maintained in most, if not all, the lands they had occupied, and especially in their own homes, their old manners and customs, and their religion in its existing form. It was not merely the supremacy of the one city or the other, but the future of Western Europe that was at stake when Hannibal? attacked the Romans in Italy. Rome, which had already grown strong in warring against the Gauls, won the victory over the Carthaginians. Thenceforth one after another of the Keltic nations succumbed to the superiority of the Roman arms, which at last invaded Transalpine Gaul, and struck its military power to the ground.

From this point the reaction against the Keltic enterprises necessarily extended itself also to Britain.

The great general who conquered Gaul did not feel sure of being able to accomplish his task unless he also obtained influence over the British tribes, from which those of the Continent constantly received help and encouragement, unless he established among them the authority of the Roman name. It was an important moment in the world's history, well worthy of remembrance, when Caesar? first trod the soil of Albion. Already repulsed from the steep chalk cliffs of the island, he found the flat shore on which he hoped to disembark occupied by the enemy, some in their warchariots, others on horseback and on foot; his ships could not reach the shore; the soldiers hesitated, encumbered with their armour as they were, to throw themselves into a sea with they were not familiar, in presence of an enemy acquainted with the ground, active, brave, and superior in numbers; the general's order had no effect on them; when however an eagle-bearer, calling on the gods of Rome, threw himself into the flood, the men would have thought themselves traitors had they allowed the war-standard, to which an almost divine worship was paid, to fall into the hands of the enemy; fired by the danger that threatened their honour, and by the religion of arms, from one ship after another they followed him to the fight; in the hand-to-hand combat in the water which ensued they gained the superiority, supported most skilfully by their general wherever it was necessary; the moment they reached the land, the victory was won1.

We cannot reckon it a slight matter, that Caesar, though not at the first, yet at the second and better prepared expedition, succeeded in carrying away with him hostages from the chief tribes. For this very form was the one customary in that century and among those tribes, by which he bound them and their princes to himself[13].

It was the first step towards the Roman supremacy. But Gaul and West Germany had first to be subdued, and the Empire securely concentrated in one hand, before—a century later—the conquest of the island could be really attempted. Even then the Britons still fought without helmet or shield, as did the Gauls of old before Rome. In Britain, just as on the Lombard plains, the war-chariot was their best arm; their defective mode of defence necessarily yielded to the organised tactics of the legion. How easily did the Romans, pushing forward under cover of their mantelets?, clear away the rude entrenchments by which the Britons used formerly to secure themselves against attack. The Druids on Mona[14] trusted in their gods, whose will they thought to ascertain from the quivering fibres of human sacrifices; and for a moment the sight of the crowd of fanatics collected around them checked the attack, but only for a moment: as soon as they came to blows they were instantly scattered, and their holy places perished with them. For this is the greatest result of the Roman wars, that they destroyed the rites which contradicted the idea of Humanity. Yet once more an injured princess—Boadicea?—united all the sympathies which the old constitution and religion could awaken. Dio has depicted her, doubtless according to the reports which reached Rome. A tall form, with the national decoration of the golden necklace and the checquered mantle, over which her rich yellow hair flowed down below her waist. She called on her peoples to defend themselves at any risk, since what could befall those to whom each root gave nourishment, each tree supplied shelter: and on her gods, not to let the land pass into the possession of that insatiable, unjust foe of foreign race. So truly does she represent the innate characteristics of the British race, when oppressed and engaged in a desperate defence. She is earnest, rugged, and terrible; the men who gathered round her were reckoned by hundreds of thousands. But the Britons had not yet learnt the art of war. A single onslaught of the Romans sufficed to scatter their disorderly masses with a fearful butchery. It was the last day of the old British independence. Boadicea would not, any more than Cleopatra?, adorn a Roman triumph; she fell by her own hand.

Within a few dozen years the Roman eagles were masters of Britain as far as the Highlands: the Keltic clan-life and the religion of the Druids withdrew into the Caledonian mountains, and the large islands off that coast; in the conquered territory the religion of the arms that had won the victory, and the might of the Great Empire, were supreme. The work which was begun by superiority in war was completed by pre-eminence in civilisation. It seemed an advantage and an improvement to the sons of the British princes, to adopt the Roman language, and knowledge, and mode of life; they delighted in the luxury of colonnades, baths, feasts, and city life. Men like Agricola? used these modes of Romanising Britain by preference. Just as the Britons exchanged their rude shipbuilding and their leathern sails for the discoveries of a more advanced art of navigation, so they learnt to carry on their agriculture in Roman fashion; in later times Britain was considered as the granary of the legions in Germany. Most of the cities in the land betray by their very names their Roman origin; London, though it existed earlier, owes its importance to this connexion. It was the emporium destined as it were by nature for the peaceful commerce that now arose between the Western provinces of the Empire. Once in the third century an attempt was made to make the island independent, but it failed the moment the marts on the opposite coast fell into the hands of the Emperor who was universally recognised. Britain seemed an integral part of the Roman Empire. It was from York that Constantine? marched forth to unite its Eastern and Western halves once more under one government.

But soon after him an epoch began in which the third great nationality, at first thought to be part of the Keltic race, then driven back or taken into service by the Romans, but always maintaining its peculiar original independence—the German, rose to supremacy in the West. In the fifth century it had become everywhere master in the militarily-organised Roman frontier districts: encouraged by the embarrassments of the authorities it advanced into the peaceful provinces.

It is of importance to remark what the fate of Britain was in these struggles.

From the Romanised territory an Augustus, called Constantine?, set up by the revolted legions, invaded Gaul, not merely to check the inroads of the barbarians, but at the same time to possess himself of the Empire. He at one time held a great position, when the legions of Gaul and Aquitaine also took his side, and Spain saluted him Emperor. But the authority of Honorius? the generally recognised Emperor could not be so easily set aside: discontented followers of the new Augustus again went over to the old one: before them and the barbarians combined Constantine fell, and soon after paid for his attempt with his life.

The result, then, was that Honorius restored his authority to a certain extent everywhere on the Continent, but not in Britain. To the towns which had taken up arms while Constantine was there he gave the right of self-defence—he could do nothing for them. The Roman Empire was not exactly overthrown in Britain—it ceased to be2.

At this time, when the connexion between Rome and Roman Britain was broken off, the Germans possessed themselves of the latter country.

The Anglo-Saxons and Christianity.

Germans had been long ago settled in this as in so many other provinces of the Western and Eastern Empires. Antoninus? had brought over German tribes from the Danube, Probus? others from the Rhineland. In the legions we find German cohorts, and very many others joined them as free allies. In the civil wars between the Emperors we hear of one side relying on the Franks, the other on the Alemanni in their service; Constantine the Great? is called to be Caesar by help of the chiefs of the Alemanni. But besides this, German seafarers, who appeared under the name of Saxons?, after they had learnt shipbuilding and navigation from the Romans, settled on the opposite coasts of Britain and Gaul, and gave their name to both. Not then for the first time, nor at the invitation of the Britons, as the Saga declares3, did the descendants of Wodan make their first trial of the sea in light vessels. Alternating between piracy and alliance—now with a usurper and now with the lawful Emperor, between independence and subjection, German seafarers had long ago filled all seas and coasts with the terror of their name. In the North too they are mentioned together with Scots and Attacotti. When now the Roman rule over the island and the surrounding seas came to an end, to whom could it pass? To the peaceful Provincials, if they could indeed gird on the sword, or to the old companions in arms to the Romans? There is no doubt that the same general impulse which urged on the German peoples, in the great revolution of affairs, into the Roman provinces, led the enterprising inhabitants of the German and Northern coasts, Frisians, Angles, and Jutes, as well as Saxons, into Britain. A fearful war broke out, in it may be true to say the ruined towns became the sepulchres of their inhabitants, but no man found the quiet time necessary for depicting its details. After it had filled a century and a half with its horrors, and men again lifted up their eyes, they found the island divided between two great nationalities, which had separated themselves as opposing forces. The natives had as good as abandoned the civilisation they had learnt from Rome, and leant on their kinsfolk in North Gaul, and the Scots in Ireland and the Highlands; they occupied the west of the island. The Germans were settled in the east, in the greatest part of the south, and in the north, in most of the old Roman settlements,—but they were far from forming a united body. Not seven or eight merely, but a large number of little tribal kingdoms, occupied or fought for the ground. If we wish to point out in general the distinction between the Anglo-Saxon and other German settlements, it lies in this, that they rested neither on the Emperor's authorisation whether direct or indirect, nor on any agreement with the natives of the land. In Gaul Chlodwig? assumed and carried on the authority of the Roman Empire;—in Britain it went wholly to the ground. Hence it was that here the German ideas could develop in their full purity, more so than in Germany itself, over which the Frankish monarchy, which had also adopted Roman tendencies, had gained influence. Just as the natives who would not submit were driven out of the German settlements, so within their boundaries the Germs of Christianity, which had already spread in the island, were as good as annihilated. Among the victorious Germans the Northern heathenism existed in full strength. In many of places, at the water-springs, the watersheds, in the designations of the days of the week, the names of the gods Germany and the North appear; the kings trace their descent directly from them as their immediate ancestors; the Sagas and poems about them symbolise those battles with the elements, the storm, the sea, and the powers of nature, which are peculiarly characteristic of the Northern mythology. With this, however, arose the question, so important for the history of the world, whether the great territory already won for the ideas of the universal culture and religion of mankind should be again lost.

Towards the end of the 6th century the epoch began in which, as the German invaders of Gaul had already done, so, now those of Spain and Italy, whether Arians[15] or heathens, came over to the Catholic faith of the Provincials. This took place under the mediation of the chief Pontiff, who had raised the city, from which the Empire took its name, to be the metropolis of the Faith. Lombards? and Visigoths? became as good Catholics as the Franks already were. The relationship of the royal families, which held all Germans in close connexion, and the zeal of Rome, which could not possibly suffer the loss of a province that it had once possessed, now combined to call forth a similar movement among the Anglo-Saxons, yet one which worked itself out in a very different way. Since among the natives a peculiar form of church-life, not unconnected with the Druidic discipline, had arisen, with which Rome would hold no communion, and which rejected all demands of submission, the spiritual enmity of the missionary was united to the national enmity of the conqueror. When a king still heathen, while attacking the Britons, directed his weapons against the monks of Bangor, who (collected on a height) were offering up prayers against him, and massacred them to the number of twelve hundred, the followers of the Roman Mission saw in this a punishment decreed by God for apostacy, and the fulfilment of the prophecies of their apostle2a.[16] On the other hand British Christian kings also made common cause with the heathen Angles, and wasted with fire and sword the provinces that had been converted by Rome. Had not in the vicissitudes of internal war the native church organisation of the North won influence over the Anglo-Saxons, heathenism would never have been conquered; it would have always found support among the Britons.

When this however had once taken place, the whole Anglo-Saxon name attached itself to the Roman ritual. Among the motives for this change those which corresponded to the naive superstition of the time may have been the most influential, yet there were other motives also which touched the very essence of the matter. Men wished to belong to the great Church Communion which then in still unbroken freedom comprehended the most distant nations4. They preferred the bishops whom the kings appointed (with the authorisation of the Roman See), to those over whom the abbot of the great monastery on the island of Iona[17] exercised a kind of supremacy. Here there was no question of any agreement between the German king and the bishops of the land, as under the Merovingians? in Gaul; they even avoided restoring the bishops' sees which had flourished in the old Roman times in Britain. The primitive and independent element manifests itself in the decision of the princes and their great men. In Northumberland, Christianity was introduced by a formal resolution of the King and his Witan?: a heathen high priest girt himself with the sword, and even with his own hand threw down his idols. The Anglo-Saxon tribes in fact passed over from the popular religion and mythology of the North and of Germany, which would have kept them in barbarism, to the communion of the universal religion, to which belonged the civilisation of the world. Never did a race show itself more susceptible of such an influence: it presents the most remarkable example of how the old German ideas, which had now taken living root in this soil, and the Roman ecclesiastical culture, which was vigorously embraced, met and became intertwined. The first German who made the universal learning, derived from antiquity, his own, was an Anglo-Saxon, the Venerable Beda?; the first German dialect in which men wrote history and drew up laws, was likewise the Anglo-Saxon. Despite all their reverence for the threshold of the Apostles they admitted foreign priests no longer than was indispensable for the foundation of the new church: in the gradual progress of the conversion they were no longer needed, we soon find Anglo-Saxon names everywhere in the church: the archbishops and leading bishops are as closely related to the royal families, as the heathen high priests had been before. It was exactly through the co-operation of both principles, originally so foreign to one another, that the Anglo-Saxon nature took firm and lasting form.

The Kelts had formerly lived under a clan system which, extending over vast districts, yet displayed in each spot characteristic weaknesses which the hostility of every neighbour rendered fatal. Then the Romans had introduced a military administrative constitution, which displaced this tribal system, while it also subjected Britain to the universal Empire, of which it formed only an unimportant province. A characteristic form of life was first built up in Britain by the Anglo-Saxons on the ruins of the Roman rule. The union into which they entered with the civilised world was the freely chosen one of the religion of the human race; they had no other connexion to control them. Their whole energies being concentrated on the island, they gave it for the first time, though continually at war with each other, an independent position.

Their constitution combines the ideas of the army and the tribe: it is the constitution of armies of colonists bringing with them domestic institutions which had been theirs from time immemorial. A society of freemen of the same stock, who divided the soil among themselves in such a manner that the number of the hides corresponded to that of the families[18] (for among no people was there a stronger conception of separate ownership), they composed the armed array of the country, and by their union maintained that peace at home which again secured each man's life and property. At their head stands a royal family, of the highest nobility, which traces its origin to the gods, and has by far the largest possessions; from it, by birth and by election combined, proceeds the King; who then, sceptre in hand, presides in the court of justice, and in the field has the banner carried before him; he is the Lord, to whom men owe fidelity; the Guardian, to whom the public roads and navigable rivers belong, who disposes of the undivided land. Yet he does not stand originally so high above other men that his murder cannot be expiated by a wergeld[19], of which one share falls to his family—not a larger one than for any other of its members,—and the other to the collective community, since the prince belongs to the former by birth, to the latter by his office. Between the simple freeman and the prince appear the eorls, caldormen, and thanes, in some instances raised above the mass by noble birth or by larger possessions, natural chiefs of districts and hundreds, in others promoted by service in the King's court and in the field, sometimes specially bound to him by personal allegiance: they are the Witan who have elected him out of his family (in a few instances they depose him); they concur in giving laws, they take part in making peace. Now the bishops take place by their side. They appear with the ealdormen in the judicial meetings of the counties: if the Gerefa [reeve] neglects his duty, it is for them to step in; yet they have also their own spiritual jurisdiction. It is a spiritual and temporal organisation of small extent, yet of a certain self-sufficing completeness. Many of the present shires correspond to the old kingdoms, and bear their names to this day. The bishops' sees often coincide with the seats of royalty; for the kings wished each to have a bishop to himself in his little territory, since they had to endow the bishopric. How many regulations still in force date from these times!

The Anglo-Saxons always had an immediate and near relation to the kingdom of the Franks.

It was with the daughter of a Frankish prince that the first impulse towards conversion came into a Saxon royal house[20]. By the Anglo-Saxons again the conversion of inner Germany was carried out, in opposition to the same Scoto-Irish element which they withstood in Britain. Carl the Great? thought it expedient to inform the Mercian King Offa? of the progress Christianity among the Saxons in Germany: he looked on him as his natural ally. Both kingdoms had moreover a common interest as against the free British populations on their western marches, who were allied with each other across the sea: decisive campaigns of Carl the Great and King Egbert? of Wessex coincide in point of time, and may have supported each other.

Similarly, we may suppose that Egbert, who lived a number of years as an exile at Carl's court, and could not have remained uninfluenced by his mode of government and improved military tactics, was then also incited and enabled, after his return, to subdue the little kingdoms and unite them with Wessex: by the side of the 'Francia' of the continent he created in the island a united 'Anglia.' But still there subsisted a yet greater difference. Sprung from the stock of Cerdic?, Egbert belonged to the popular royalty which we find throughout at the head of the invading Germans; he is, so far, more like the Merovingians whom Carl's predecessors overthrew[21], than like Carl himself; and he was almost entirely destitute of that strong groundwork of military institutions on which the Carolingians supported themselves. His rise depended much more on the fact that the old families in Mercia, Northumbria, and Kent had disappeared, and the succession in general had become doubtful; after Egbert had conquered the claimants to the throne in a great and bloody battle, he was recognised by the Witans of the several kingdoms as their common prince, and his family as that which in fact it now was,—the leading one of all. After the example of Pipin's? family, whose alliance with the Papacy was the most important historical event of the epoch and founded Western Christendom, the descendants of Cerdic also got themselves anointed by the popes—for the religious movement still had the predominance over every other. The amalgamation of the tribes and kingdoms found its expression in the Church, through the prestige and rank of the Archbishop of Canterbury, almost earlier than it did in the State; the unity of the Church broke down the antipathies of the tribes, and prepared the way for that of the kingdoms. In the midst of this work of construction, so incomplete as yet, but so full of hope, of these birthpangs of a new life, the very existence of the country was threatened by the rise of a new Great Power. For so may we well designate the influence which the Scandinavian North exercised by land over Eastern Europe, and at the same time over all the Western coasts by sea.

Only a part of the German peoples had been influenced by the idea of the Empire or the Church; the inborn heathenism of the rest, irritated by the losses it had sustained and the dangers that continually threatened it, roused itself for the most formidable onslaught that the civilised world has ever had to withstand from the heroic and barbarous children of Nature.

The mischief they wrought in Britain, from the middle of the ninth century onwards, is indescribable. The Scoto-Irish schools, then in their most flourishing state (they trained John Scotus Erigena?, of all the scholars of that time the man who had the widest intellectual range), fell before the Danish, not the Anglo-Saxon assaults; an element of intellectual activity which might have been of the greatest importance was thus lost to the Western world. But the Northmen persecuted the Romano-English forms as bitterly as they did the Irish. In the places where those Anglo-Saxon scholars had been trained, who then enlightened the West, the Northmen planted the banner which announced utter destruction; with twofold rapacity they threw themselves on the more remote abbeys which seemed to derive protection from their inaccessibility, and to guarantee it by their dignity; in searching for the treasures which they believed had been placed in them for security, they destroyed the monuments and means of instruction which were really there; in Medeshamstede?, where there was a rich library, the flames raged for fourteen days. The half-formed union of the various districts into one kingdom seems to have crippled rather than strengthened the power of local resistance: the Danes became masters of Kent and of East-Anglia, of Northumberland, and even of Mercia; at last Wessex too, after already suffering many losses, was invaded; from both sides at the moment, from the inland and from the coast, the deluge of robber-hordes poured over its whole extent.

Things had come to such a point that the Anglo-Saxon community seemed inevitably devoted to the same ruin which had overtaken first the Britons and then the Romans, they seemed doomed to make way for another reconstruction. Britain would have become an outpost of the restored heathenism, which could then have been with difficulty repulsed from the Eastern and Western Frankish empires, afflicted as they were by similar attacks, and governed by the discordant and weak princes who then ruled them. At this moment of peril King Alfred? appeared. It was not merely for his own interests, nor merely for those of England, but for those of the world, that he fought. He is rightly called 'the Great;' a title fairly due only to those who have maintained great universal interests, and not merely those of their own country. The distress of the moment, and the deliverance from it, have been kept in imperishable remembrance by popular sagas and church legends. It is well worth the trouble to trace out in the authenticated traditions, brief as they are, the causes that decided the event. We may state them as follows:—Since the attacks of the Vikings were especially ruinous, from their occupation of the strong places whence they could command and plunder the open country, one step in the work of liberation was taken when Alfred, for the first time, wrested from them a stronghold which they had seized, deep in the west. Then he, too, occupied strong positions, and knew how to defend them. With the bravest and most devoted of his nobles, and of the population that had not yet submitted, he established a hill-fortress on a height rising like an island out of the standing waters and marshlands in the still only slightly cultivated land of Somersetshire; this not only served him as an asylum, but also as a central point from which he too ranged through the land far and wide, like the enemy, except that his object was to guard it, and make it ring once more with the already forgotten name of the King. Around his banners gathered, with reviving courage, the population of the neighbouring districts also: the Saxons could again appear in the open field; from their advancing shield-wall the disorderly onsets of the Vikings recoiled, the victory was theirs. Hereupon, moreover, as if the decision between the two religions depended on the result of the war, the leader of the heathens came over to Christianity, and took an Anglo-Saxon name. The Danes attached themselves to the principles and the powers which they had come forth to destroy.[22]

King Alfred is a marvellous phenomenon: suffering from a disease [Crohn's] which sometimes broke out with violence, and which he never ceased to feel for a single day of his life, he not merely withstood the extreme of peril at that moment so big with ruin, but also founded a system of resistance throughout the kingdom, in which his arms so worked together by sea and land that each new band of Vikings betook themselves again to their ships, and those that had already penetrated into the country, gave way step by step. We remark with interest how, under Alfred and his children, his son who succeeded him [Edward the Elder], and his manlike daughter, the protecting fortresses advance from place to place, and provide free space for the Anglo-Saxon community. The culture already existing, the whole future of which had been saved by Alfred, attained in him its fullest development. How many years had passed since the hour when an illuminated initial letter gave him his first taste for a book, before he could master even the elementary branches of knowledge! then he devoted his whole efforts to instil new life into the studies that had almost perished, and to give them a national character. He not merely translated a number of the later authors of antiquity, whose works had contributed most to the transmission of scientific culture; in the episodes which he interweaves in them he shows a desire for knowledge that reaches far beyond them; but especially we find in them a reflective and thoughtful mind, solid sense at peace with itself, a fresh way of viewing the world, a lively power of observation. This King introduced the German mind with its learning and reflection into the literature of the world; he stands at the head of the prose-writers and historians in a German tongue—the people's King of the most primeval kind, who is also the teacher of his people. We know his laws, in which extracts from the books of Moses are combined with restored legal usages of German origin; in him the traditions antiquity are interpenetrated by the original tendencies of the German mind. We completely weaken the impression made on us by this great figure, so important in his first limited and arduous efforts, by comparing him with the brilliant names of antiquity. Each man is what he is in his own place.

Though the Anglo-Saxon monarchy wanted that element of authority which the kings of other German tribes drew from the Roman government by transmission or succession, yet it had strengthened itself, like the others, by union with the Church. Alfred, too, was at Rome in his boyhood: it stood him in good stead that he had been anointed, and, as men said, adopted by a Roman pope. In the reconquest of the land, Church ideas had played an important part. It was impossible to drive out the invading foes, they could only be held in check; never would they have submitted to the Anglo-Saxon commonwealth had they not at the same time been converted to Christianity. Nothing, moreover, contributed more to this than the effort, which was then the order of the day in the Christian world, to base the organisation of the Church on monasticism: from Italy this tendency spread to Germany, from South France to North, from thence to England, where it produced its greatest effect. Now the power of conversion is inherent only in sharply defined doctrines; and it was precisely this tendency that penetrated the Northern natures: the sons of the Vikings became the champions of monachism; to the fury with which the fathers had destroyed the monasteries succeeded in the sons a zeal to restore them. And in what good stead this stood the Anglo-Saxon kings! The kingly power obtained, through the splendour which the union with religion bestowed on its victorious arms, a reverential recognition by the old native population as well as by the invaders.

Alfred's grandson? had regained Northumbria by a somewhat doubtful title[23], and had then maintained his right in a great battle [Brunanburgh], renowned in song; his great-grandson, Edgar?, in one of his charters thanks the grace of God which had permitted him to extend his rule further than his predecessors, over the islands and seas as far as Norway, and over a great part of Ireland. We are not to look on it as a mere piece of vanity, when he seeks after new titles for his power, when he calls himself Basileus and Imperator; the former is the title of the Eastern, the latter of the Western emperors; he will not yield the precedence to either the one or the other, though the latter are so closely related to him by blood. We cannot express the feeling of a supreme power, independent of men, derived from the grace of God, the King of kings, more strongly than it was expressed by Edgar under Dunstan's? influence; the ruling motives of life in Church and State make it conceivable that a monkish hierarch, such as Dunstan, shared, as it were, the King's power, and the course of the authority of the state.

It was still the ancestral Anglo-Saxon crown which glittered on Edgar's head, but, if we may so say, its splendour had at the same time received a monkish and hierarchic colouring[24].


In the families of German national kings we not unfrequently find among the women a hideous mixture of ambition, revenge, and bloodthirstiness, which brings kings and kingdoms to ruin. In England it appears, despite of Christianity and monastic discipline, in its most atrocious form after the death of Edgar. His eldest son, for some years his successor, was treacherously murdered by his stepmother[25] (who wished to advance her own son to the throne), at a visit which he paid her as he returned from hunting. It was that Edward whose innocence and leaning towards the Church have gained him the name of Martyr. The son of the murderess did ascend the throne, but the guilt of blood seemed to cleave to the crown; he met with the obedience of his father's times no more. The Anglo-Saxon magnates seized the occasion which this crime, or the subsequent vacillation of the government between violence and weakness, offered them, to aim at an independent position, and to indulge in a personal policy, each man for himself.

At this very moment the Danes renewed their invasions.

Little did Edgar and those around him understand their position, when they attributed the peace they enjoyed to their own military power, in the splendid and extensive display of which they took delight. In reality it was the state of the world at large that brought this peace about. First of all, it was due to the settlement of the Normans in North Gaul, under the condition that they should be of one religion and one realm, and should fulfill the natural duty of keeping off fresh incursions: the current of Northern invasion thus lost its aim and direction. But it was of still more decisive effect at the first that the energetic family which arose in North Germany, and even assumed the imperial authority, not content with warding off the Danes, sought them out in their own country instead, and carried the war against heathenism into the North. The Saxons beyond the sea were indebted for the peace which they enjoyed chiefly to the great and splendid deeds of arms of their kindred on the mainland. How much all depended on this became very clear when Otto II?, in the full glow of great enterprises, met with an unlooked for and early death. Within the empire two able women and their advisers succeeded in maintaining peace[26]; but in Denmark, as in other neighbouring countries, the hostile elements got the upper hand. The Danish king's son, Sven Otto?, abandoned the religion which he regarded as a yoke laid on him by the German conquerors; he could not destroy the order of things established in Denmark, but he revived the old sea-king's life, and threw himself with the old superiority of the Viking arms on the English coasts.

Ethelred? on this attack fell into the greatest distress, mainly because he was not sure of his great nobles. How often did the commanders of the fleet desert it at the moment of action, and the leaders of the inland levies go over to the enemy! Ethelred sought for safety by an alliance with the Duchy of Normandy, then daily rising to greater power. Thus supported, he proceeded to unjustifiable outrages against his domestic as well as his foreign foes. The great nobles whom he suspected were mercilessly killed or exiled, and their children blinded. The Danes who remained in the land he caused to be murdered all on one day. The consequences of this deed necessarily recoiled upon himself. When Sven some years after again landed with redoubled enmity, which was to a certain extent justified, he experienced no effectual resistance whatever; Ethelred had to fly before him and quit the island. But now that Sven too, who had been already saluted by many as King, died in the first enjoyment of his victory, a question arose which extended far beyond the personal relations and embarrassments of the moment.

The influence always exercised by the Witans of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms in determining the succession to the throne remained much the same when they were all fused into a single kingdom; even among the descendants of Alfred, the great men designated the sovereign. In the disturbed state of things in which they now found themselves, the lawful King having fled, and the other, who had put himself into actual possession of the supreme authority, being dead, they framed the largest conception of their right. They formally made conditions with Ethelred for his return, and he consented to their demands through his son?. Since he, however, did not fulfil his promise—for how could he have altered his nature?—they held themselves released from their engagement to maintain this family on the throne. Sven's son, Canute?, had taken his father's place among the Danes; he had been long ago baptized, he was of a character which commanded confidence, and possessed at the time overwhelming power. After Ethelred's death the lay and spiritual chiefs of England decided to abandon the house of Cerdic for ever, and to recognise Canute as their King. How many jarls and thanes of Danish origin do we find around the kings under all the last governments. Edgar was especially blamed for the very reason that he took them under his protection. But they had been subjected only by war; no hereditary sentiment of natural loyalty attached them to the West Saxon royal house. The ecclesiastical aristocracy was besides determined by religious considerations; to them these disasters and crimes seemed sufficient proof of the truth of those prophecies of coming woe which Dunstan was believed to have uttered. They repaired to Canute at Southampton, and concluded a peace with him, the conditions of which were that they would abandon the descendants of Ethelred for ever, and recognise Canute as their King; he, on the other hand, promised to fulfil the duties of a King truly, in both spiritual and temporal relations5. Yet once more, Ethelred's eldest son, Edmund Ironsides?, who was himself half a Dane by birth[27], roused himself to a vigorous resistance: London and a part of the nobility took his side; he gained through force of arms a settlement by which, though indeed he lost the best part of the land and the capital itself, he maintained the crown; he died, however, soon after, and then the whole country recognised Canute as King. The last scion of the royal house in the land was banished[28], and all the claims of the family to the crown again declared void. The Anglo-Saxon magnates undertook to make a money payment to the Danish host; in return they received the pledge from the King's hand, and the oath by his soul taken by his chiefs6. It was a treaty between the Anglo-Saxon and the Danish chiefs, by which the former received the King of the latter as also their own.

This extremely important event links the centuries together, and determines the future fortunes of England. The kingly house, whose right and pre-eminence was connected with the earliest settlements, which had completed the union of the realm and delivered it from the worst distress, was at a moment of moral deterioration and disaster excluded by the spiritual and temporal chiefs, of Anglo-Saxon and Danish origin. They had first tried to limit it, to bind it by its own promise; when this led to nothing, they annihilated its right by a formal resolution of the realm, and procured peace by raising to the throne another sovereign who had no right by birth. Canute did not owe the crown to conquest, though his greater power contributed to the result, but to election, which now appeared as the superior right: hitherto the Witan had always exercised it within the limits of the royal family; this time they disregarded that family altogether.

Canute decreed or allowed some bloody acts of violence, in order to strengthen the power that had fallen to his lot; but afterwards he administered it with a noble spirit answering to his position. He became the leading sovereign of the North: men reckoned five or six kingdoms as subject to him. England was the chief of them all, even for him; it was in possession of the culture and religion which he wished should prevail in the rest: the missionaries of the North went forth from Canterbury. England itself, however, gained a higher position in the world by its union with a power which ruled as far as Norway and North America[29], and carried on commerce with the East by the Baltic. In Gothland the great emporium of the West, Arabic as well as Anglo-Danish coins are found; the former were carried from the North as far as England. Canute favoured the Anglo-Saxon mode of life; he liked to be designated the 'successor of Edgar;' he confirmed his legislation; and it was his intention, at least, to rule according to the laws: as he even submitted himself to the military regulations of the Huskarls[30], so he commanded right and law to be administered in civil matters without respect to his own person.

But a union of such different kingdoms could only be a transitory phenomenon. Canute himself thought of leaving England again independent under one of his sons. With this object he had married Ethelred's widow Emma. For, according to Anglo-Saxon ideas, the Queen was not merely the King's wife, but also sovereign of the land, in her own right. It was settled that the children of this marriage should succeed him in England. Probably Canute did not wish the inheritance of the crown in his house to depend merely on the goodwill of the Witan.

After Canute's death we can observe a wavering between the principles of election and birthright. The magnates again elected, but limited their choice to the King's house. After the extinction of the Danish-Norman family, they came back to the English-Norman one; they called the son of Ethelred and Emma, Edward the Confessor?, to the throne of his fathers, though, it is true, without leaving him much power. This lay rather in the hands of the Earls Godwin of Kent? and Leofric of Mercia?; especially in the former, whose wife was related to Canute, did the Anglo-Saxon spirit of independence energetically manifest itself. He was once banished, but returned and recovered all his offices. When, however, Edward too died without issue, the dynastic question once more came before the English magnates. It might have seemed most consistent to recall the Aetheling[31] Edgar a member of the house of Cerdic from exile, and to carry on the previous form of government under his name. But the thoughts of the English chiefs no longer turned in that direction. Not very long before a king from the ranks of the native nobility had ascended the throne of the Carolingians in the West Frank empire; in the East Frank, or German empire, men had seen first the mightiest duke, then one of the most distinguished counts, attain the imperial dignity. Why should it not be possible for something similar to happen in England also ? The very day on which Edward the Confessor died, Godwin's son, Harold, was elected by the magnates of the kingdom, and crowned without delay7 (Jan. 5, 1066). The event now happened which was wholly implied in what occurred at Canute's accession: the house of Cerdic was abandoned, and the further step taken of raising another native family to its throne.

It was not this time a pressing necessity that brought it about; but we cannot deny that, if carried through, it opened out an immeasurable prospect.

For such would have been the case, if the attempt to found a Germanic Anglo-Saxon kingdom under Harold, and maintain it free from any preponderating foreign influence had been successful. By recalling Edgar the influence of Normandy, against which the antipathies of the nation had been awakened under the last government[32], would have been renewed. But just as little were those claims to be recognised which the Northern kings put forward for the re-establishment of their supremacy. Even as regards the Papacy, the government began to adopt an independent line of conduct.

The question now was, whether the Anglo-Saxon nation would be unanimous and strong enough to maintain such a haughty position on all sides.

The first attack came from the North; it was all the more dangerous, from the fact that an ambitious brother of the new King supported it: only by an extreme effort were these enemies repelled[33]. But, at the same moment, an attack was threatened from another enemy of infinitely greater importance—Duke William of Normandy. It was not only this sovereign, and his land, but a new phase of development in the history of the world, with which England now entered into conflict.

The Conquest.

Out of the antagonism of nationalities, of the Empire and the Church, of the overlord and the great chiefs, in the midst of invasions of foreign peoples and armies, the local resistance to them and their occupations of territory, a new world had, as it were, been forming itself in Southern Europe, and especially in Gaul. Still more decidedly than in England had the invading Vikings in France attached themselves to the national element, even in the second generation they had given up their language; they discovered at the same time a form which reconciled the membership in the kingdom, and the recognition of the common faith, with provincial freedom. In France no native power successfully opposed and checked the advancing Normans, such as that which the Danes had encountered in England. On the contrary they exercised the greatest influence over the foundation of a new dynasty. A system developed itself over the whole realm, in which, both in the provincial authorities and in the lower degrees of rank, the possession of land and share in public office, feudalism and freedom, interpenetrated each other, and made a commonweal which yet harmonised with all the inclinations that lend charm and colouring to individual life. The old migratory impulse and spirit of warlike enterprise set before itself religious aims also, which lent it a higher sanction; war for the church, and conquest (which meant for each man a personal occupation of land) were combined in one. Starting from Normandy, where great warlike families were formed that found no occupation at home (for these young populations are wont to multiply quickest), North French love of war and habits of war transplanted themselves to Spain and to Italy. How must it have elevated their spirit of enterprise when in the latter country the Papacy, which had just thrown off the supremacy of the emperor, and entered on a new stage in the development of its power, made common cause with their arms, and a practised Norman warrior, Robert Guiscard, appeared as Duke of Apulia and Calabria 'by grace of God and of S. Peter and, under his protection, of Sicily also in time to come'!8 The Pope gave him lands in fief, which had hitherto belonged to the Greek Empire, and which the Germans had been unable to conquer; he promised, in return, to defend the prerogatives of S. Peter. Between the hierarchy which was striving to perfect its supremacy, and the warlike chivalry of the 11th century, an alliance was formed like that once concluded with the leaders of the Frankish host[34]. The ideas were already stirring from which proceeded the Crusades, the foundation of the Spanish kingdoms, and the creation of the Latin Empire at Constantinople. In the princely fiefs of the French Crown, and above all in Normandy, they seized on men's minds. Chivalrous life and hierarchic institutions, dialectic and poetry, continual war at home and ceaseless aspirations abroad, were here fused into a living whole.

In the Germanic countries also this close alliance of hierarchy and chivalry now sought to win influence, but here it met with a strenuous resistance. In England, Edward the Confessor had tried to prepare the way for it: Godwin and his house opposed it. And when the former named the Norman Robert? Archbishop of Canterbury, and the latter drove him out, the English quarrels became connected with those of Rome; Stigand?, the archbishop put in by Godwin, received his Pallium? from Pope Benedict X, who had been elected in the old tumultuous manner once more by the neighbouring Roman barons, but had to succumb to Hildebrand's zeal for a regular election by the cardinals, on which the emancipation of the Papacy depended. It seemed, then, intolerable at Rome that there should be a primate of the English Church, connected by his Church position with a phase of the supreme priesthood now condemned and abolished: it is very intelligible that this priesthood in its present form took up a hostile position towards the England of that time. In this, moreover, it found an ally ready to act in Duke William of Normandy, who wished to be regarded as the born champion of the Anglo-Saxon dynasty, and as the natural successor to its rights. Once already his father had collected a fleet to restore the exiled Aethelings, and was only kept back from an invasion by unfavourable weather. There had often since been rumours, that Edward had destined Duke William to be his successor[35]; men asserted that Harold had previously recognised this right[36], and that in return William's daughter, and a part of the land as an independent possession, had been promised him9. In his own position William had cleared the ground for himself with a strong hand. He had beaten his feudal lord in the open field[37], and thus not only recovered a frontier fortress lost during his minority, but also strengthened the independence of the duchy. At the same time William had vanquished his rebellious vassals in arms, banished them, deprived them of their possessions, and got rid, with the Pope's consent, of an archbishop who was allied with them[38]. Death freed him from another mighty opponent, the Duke of Brittany, who threatened him with a great maritime expedition [39]. It throws a certain light on his policy, to see how he made himself master of the county of Maine in 1062. On the ground that Count Heribert, whom he had supported in his quarrel with Anjou, had become his vassal and made him his heir10, he overran Maine, and put his adherents in possession of the fortresses which commanded the land. However we may decide as to the details told us about his relations to Edward and Harold, it seems undeniable that William had received provisional promises from both—for Harold loved to side with Edward. He was not the man to put up with their being broken. The system, however, which through Harold's accession gained the upper hand in England, was in itself hostile to the Norman one: and that a king of England like the present might some day become dangerous to the duke, amidst all the other hostilities which threatened him, is clear. To these motives was now added the approbation of the Roman See. The Pope's chief Council deliberated on the enterprise, above all did the archdeacon of the Church, Hildebrand?, declare himself in its favour. He was reproached—then or at a later time—with being the author of bloodshed; he declared that his conscience acquitted him, since he knew well, that the higher William mounted, the more useful he would be to the Church11. Alexander II? now sent the duke the banner of the Church. As a few years before Robert Guiscard had become duke, so now a Norman duke was to become king, in the service of the Church. The Normans were still divided in their views as to the enterprise, but when this news arrived, all opposition ceased, for in the service of S. Peter and the Church men believed themselves secure of success; then lay and spiritual vassals emulously armed ships and men; in the harbour of S. Valery, which belonged to one of those who had been last gained over, the Count of Ponthieu?, the fleet and the troops gathered together12. The Count of Flanders?, the duke's father-in-law, secretly favoured the enterprise; another of his nearest relations, Count Odo of Champagne, brought up his troops in person; Count Eustace of Boulogne armed, to avenge on Godwin's house an affront he had once suffered at Dover[40]; a number of leading Breton counts and lords attached themselves to William in opposition to their duke?, who cherished wholly different projects. To the lords and knights of North France were joined many of lower rank, whose names show that they came from Gascony, Burgundy, the duchy of France, or the neighbouring districts belonging to the German Empire. Of their own free will they ranged themselves round William, to vindicate the right which he claimed to the English crown, but each man naturally entertained brilliant hopes also for himself. William is depicted as a man of vast bodily strength, which none could surpass or weary out, with a strong hardy frame, a cool head, an expression in his features which exactly intimated the violence with which he followed up his enemies, destroyed their states, and burnt their houses. Yet all was not passionate desire in him. He honoured his mother?, he was true to his wife?. Never did he undertake a quarrel without giving fair notice, and certainly never without having well prepared for it beforehand. He knew how to keep up a warlike spirit in his vassals: there were seen with him only splendid men and able leaders; he kept strict discipline. So also he had seized the moment for his enterprise, at which the political relations of Europe were favourable to him. The two great realms, which might otherwise have well interposed, the East Frank (or the Roman-German) as well as the West Frank, were under kings not yet of age[41]: the guardianship of the latter lay with the Count of Flanders?, who thought he did enough in not standing openly by his son-in-law, of the former with great bishops devoted heart and soul to the hierarchic system13. Harold, on the other hand, had no friend or ally, in North or East, in South or in West. To encounter the combined efforts of a great European coalition he had only himself and his Anglo-Saxons to rely on. Harold is depicted as coming forth perfect from the hands of nature, without blemish from head to foot, personally brave before the enemy, gentle among his own people, and endowed with natural eloquence. His enemy's passion for, and knowledge of, war were not in him; the taste of the Anglo-Saxons was directed more to peaceful enjoyments than to ceaseless wars. At this moment too they were weakened by great losses in the last bloody war; many of the most trustworthy and bravest had fallen, others wavered in their fidelity; Harold had not been able to put even the coasts in a state of defence; William landed without resistance, to demand his crown from him. When reminded of his promise Harold was believed to have answered in the very spirit of Anglo-Saxon independence, that he had no right to make any such promise without the consent of the Anglo-Saxon chiefs and people. And not to meet the invading foe instantly at the sword's point would have seemed to him disgraceful cowardice. And so William and Harold, the North French knights and the national war-array of the Anglo-Saxons, encountered at Hastings. Harold fell at the very beginning of the fight. The Normans, according to their wont, knew how to separate their enemies by a pretended flight, and then by a sudden return to surround and destroy them in isolated bodies. It was the iron-clad, yet rapidly moving cavalry, which decided the battle 14.

William expected, now that his rival had fallen, to be recognised by the Anglo-Saxons as their King. Instead of this the chiefs and the capital raised Edgar the Aetheling?, grandson of Edmund Ironsides?, to the throne: as though William would retire before a scion of the old West-Saxon house, of which he professed to be the champion. He held firmly to the transfer made to him by the last king without regard to any third person, ratified as it was by the Roman See, and marched on the capital.

Edgar was a boy [about 6 years old], and the magnates were at variance as to who should have the authority to exercise guardianship over him. When William appeared before the city, and threatened the walls with his siege-machines, it too lost courage. The embassy which it sent him was amazed at the grandeur and splendour of his appearance, was convinced as to the right which King Edward had transferred to him15, and penetrated by the danger which a resistance, in itself hopeless, would bring on the city. Aldermen and people abandoned Edgar, and recognised William as King. There is an old story, that the county of Kent, on capitulating, made good conditions for itself. To the nobles also, who submitted by degrees, similar terms may have been accorded, but their position was almost entirely altered. We need notice only this one point. Their chief right, which they exercised to a perhaps unauthorised extent, was that of electing the King; they had now elected twice, but the first election was annulled by defeat in the open field, the second by increasing superiority in arms; they had to recognise the Conqueror, who claimed by inheritance, as their King, whether they would or no. There is something almost symbolic of the resulting state of things in the story of William's coronation, which was now celebrated by the tomb of Edward the Confessor at Westminster. For the first time the voices of the Anglo-Saxons and the Normans were united to greet him as King, but the discordant outcry of the two languages seemed a sign of conflict to the troops gathered outside, and made the warlike fury, so hardly kept under control, boil up again in them; they set the houses of London on fire. Whilst all hurried from the church, the ceremony it is said was completed by shuddering priests in the light of the flames: the new King himself, who at other times did not know what fear was, trembled16.

By this coronation-acclaim, two constituent elements of the world, which had been fundamentally at conflict with each other, became indissolubly united.

That against which the Anglo-Saxons had set themselves to guard with all their strength during the last period, the inroad of the Norman-French element into their Church and their State, was now accomplished in fullest measure. William's maxim was, that all who had taken arms against him and his right had forfeited their property; those who escaped, and the heirs of those who had fallen, were deprived alike. In a short time we find William's leading comrades in the war as earls of Hereford, Buckingham, Shrewsbury, Cornwall; his valiant brothers were endowed with hundreds of fiefs; and when the insurrection which quickly broke out led to new outlawries and new confiscations, all the counties were filled with French knights. From Caen came over the blocks of freestone to build castles and towers, by which they hoped to bridle the towns and the country. It is an exaggeration to assume a complete transfer of property from the one people to the other; among the tenants in chief about half the names are still Anglo-Saxon. At first, those who from any even accidental cause had not actually met William in arms were left in possession of their lands, though without hereditary right: later, after they had conducted themselves quietly for some time, this too was given back to them. In the next century it excited surprise that so many great properties should have remained in the hands of the Anglo-Saxons17. It would have been altogether against William's plan, to treat the Anglo-Saxons as having no rights. He wished to appear as the rightful successor of the Anglo-Saxon kings: by their laws he would abide, only adding the legal usages of the Normans to those of the Danes, Mercians, and West Saxons; and it was not merely through his will, but also by its higher form, and connexion with the ideas of the century, that the Norman law gained the upper hand. But however much we may deduct from the usual exaggerations, this fact remains, that the change of ownership which took place, like the change in the constitution and the general state of things, was of enormous extent: the military and judicial power passed entirely into the hands of the victors in the war. And in the Church alterations no less thoroughgoing ensued. Under the authority of Papal legates, the great office-holders of the English Church, who had been opposed to the newly arisen hierarchic system, were mercilessly deprived of their places. The King was afterwards personally on tolerably good terms with Stigand?, the Archbishop of Canterbury, but was not inclined on his account to oppose the Church. The archbishopric, and with it the primacy of England, passed to the man in whom the union of the Church authority and orthodoxy of that which we may call the especially hierarchic century was most vividly represented, the man who had been the chief agent in establishing the dogma of Transubstantiation, the great teacher of Bec, Lanfranc?. In most of the bishoprics and abbeys we find Normans of kindred tendency. It was precisely in the enterprise against England that the hierarchy concluded its compact with the hereditary feudal state, which was all the more lasting in that they were both still in process of formation.

In this way was England attached by the strongest ties to the Continent, and to the new system of life and ecclesiastico-political constitution which had then gained the upper hand in Latin Europe. Under the next three successors[42] of the Conqueror, none of whom enjoyed a completely legal recognition[43], it sometimes appeared as though England would again tear herself away from Normandy: such variances were not without influence on home affairs[44]: in the general relations of the country they wrought no change at all. On the contrary, these were developed on a still larger scale, owing to the complicated family connexions which so peculiarly characterise that epoch. From the county of Anjou which, like the dominion of the Capets, had been formed in the struggle against the invasion of the Normans, a sovereign arose who had the right to rule the Norman conquests, the son of the Conqueror's granddaughter, Henry Plantagenet?. He had become, though not without appeal to the sword, which his father? wielded powerfully on his behalf, master of Normandy, and had then married Eleanor of Poitou?, who brought him a great part of France: he then succeeded more by fair means than by force in establishing his right to the throne of England. Henry was the first to establish in France the power of the great vassals, by which the crown was long in danger of being overthrown. The Kings of Castille and Navarre submitted to his arbitration. And under a sovereign whose grandfather had been King of Jerusalem?, and one of the mightiest rulers of that Western kingdom established in the East, the tendencies, which had led so far, could not fail to extend themselves to the utmost in all their spheres of action? The hierarchic and chivalrous spirit of Continental Europe, which under the Normans had seized on England, was much strengthened by the accession of the Plantagenets. It thus came to pass that after the disastrous loss of Jerusalem[45], the knights of Anjou and of Guienne, from Brittany (for Henry had added this province also to his family possessions) and from Normandy, gathered together in London, and took the Cross in company with the English[46]. England formed a part of the Plantagenet Empire—if we may apply this word to so anomalous a state—and contributed to its extension, even though no interest of its own was involved. But towards such a result the relations which this alliance established between England and Southern Europe had long tended. Not seldom was the military power of the provinces over the sea employed for enterprises that aimed at the direct advantage of England itself. Whether and when the German element without this influence would have become master of the British group of islands none could say. The English dominion over Ireland in particular is derived from Henry II, and his alliance at that time with the Papacy; he crossed thither under the Pope's authorisation: at the Pope's word the native kings did homage to him as their lord18. And the foreign-born Plantagenets struck living root in England itself. As Henry II's mother? was the daughter of a princess? descended from the West-Saxon house, he was hailed by the natives as their lawfully-descended King; in accordance with Edward the Confessor's prophecy, that from the severed bough should spring up a new tree: they traced his descent without scruple back to Wodan. This King, moreover, has impressed his mark deeply on English life; to this day justice is administered in England under forms established by him.

The will of destiny cannot be gainsaid. Just as Germany without its connexion with Italy, so England without its connexion with France, would never have been what it is. More than all, the great commonwealth of the western nations, whose life pervades and determines the history of each separate state, would never have come into existence. But on this ground first, amidst continual warfare, was gradually accomplished the formation of the nationalities.


Highly as we may estimate the due appreciation and expression of those objective ideas, which are bound up with the culture of the human race, still the spiritual life of man is built up not so much on a devout and docile receptivity of these ideas as on their free and subjective recognition, which modifies while it accepts, and necessarily passes through a phase of conflict and opposition.

In England the authority both of Church and State now came forward with far more strength than before. The royal power was a continuation of the sovereignty inherited from Anglo-Saxon times, but, leaning on its continental resources, and supported by those who had taken part in the Conquest, it developed itself much more durably. The clergy of the land were far more closely and systematically bound to the Papacy; thus it had become more learned and more active. The one sword helped the other; just at this very time, the King and the Archbishop of Canterbury were depicted as the two strong steers that drew the plough of England[47].

But yet, below all this there existed a powerful element of opposition. After the new order of things had existed more than eighty years, among a portion of the Anglo-Saxon population the design was started of putting a violent end to it, of destroying at one blow all those foreigners who seemed its representatives, just as the Danes had all been murdered on one day[48].

It was an evil thought, and all the more atrocious because manifold ties had been already gradually formed between the two populations. How could they ever become fused into one nation if the one was always plotting the destruction of the other?

It was not merely by alliances of blood and family, but even still more by great common political and ecclesiastical interests that the English nationality, which contains both elements, was founded. And, in truth, the leading impulse towards it was that the conquerors, no less than the conquered, felt themselves oppressed by the yoke which the two supreme authorities laid on them, and hence both combined to oppose them. But centuries elapsed before this could be effected. The first occasion for it was given when the two authorities quarrelled with each other, and alternately called on the population to give its voluntary aid [i.e. the 16th century].

For, as the authorities which represent the objective ideas are of different origin, they have never in our Western Europe remained more than a short time in complete harmony with each other. Each retains its natural claim to be supreme, and not to endure the supremacy of the other. The one has always more before its eyes the unity of the whole, the other the needs and rights of the several kingdoms and states. Amidst their antagonism European life has moulded itself and made progress.

Close as their union was at the time of the Conquest of England, yet even then their quarrel broke out. Though the Conqueror pledged himself again to pay a tribute which the Anglo-Saxon kings had formerly charged themselves with, and which had been long unpaid, yet this was not sufficient for the Roman See: Gregory VII? demanded to be recognised as feudal lord of England. But this was not what William understood, when he had allowed the papal banner to wave over the fleet that brought him to England. It was not from the Pope's authorization that he derived his claim to the English crown, as if this had been merely transferred to him by the Papal See, but from the Anglo-Saxon kings, as whose heir and legal successor he wished to be regarded. He answered the Pope that he could enter into no other relation to him than that in which his predecessors in England had stood to previous popes.

For the first time the popes had to give up altogether the attempt to make kings their feudal dependents; they attempted, however, an almost deeper encroachment into the very heart of the royal power, when they then formed the plan of severing the spiritual body corporate, which already possessed the most extensive temporal privileges, from their feudal obligation to the sovereigns. The English kings opposed them in this also with resolution and success. Under the influence of the father of scholasticism?, Anselm? of Canterbury, Primate of England, a satisfactory agreement was arranged long before the Concordat[49] was obtained in Germany. In general there was little to fear, as long as the Archbishop of Canterbury had a good understanding with the Crown; and this was the case in the first half of the 12th century, if not on all points, yet, at least on all leading questions. Far-reaching differences did not appear until the higher ecclesiastics embraced the party of the Papacy, which happened in England through Thomas Becket?.

Henry II and Becket.

It was precisely from him that this would have been least expected. He had been the King's Chancellor, or if we may avail ourselves of a somewhat remote equivalent expression, his most trusted cabinet minister, and had as such, in both home and foreign affairs, rendered the most valuable services. The introduction of scutage? is attributed to him, and he certainly had a large share in the acquisition of Brittany. It was through the direct influence of the King that he was elected archbishop. But from that hour he seemed to have become another man. As he had hitherto rivalled the courtiers in splendour, pleasure, and pomp, so would he now by strictness of life equal the sanctity of the saints; as hitherto to the King, so did he now attach himself to the interests of the Church. It might, so we may suppose, be some satisfaction to his self-esteem, that he could now confront his stern and mighty sovereign as Archbishop 'also by the grace of God,' for so he designates himself in his letter to the King; or he might feel himself bound to recover the possessions of his Church, which had been wrested from it by the Crown or the high nobility. But, as spiritually-minded men are moved more by universal ideas than by special interests, so for Becket the determining impulse without doubt lay above all in the sympathy which he devoted to the hierarchic movement in general.

Those were the times in which the attempt of the Emperor Frederic I? to call a council[50], and in it to decide on a contested papal election, had created general excitement among the peoples and churches of Southern Europe, which would only consent to be led by a pope independent of the empire. Driven from Italy, Alexander III?, the Pope rejected by the Emperor, found a cordial reception in France; and here he now collected on his side a papal council in opposition to the imperial one, in which the cardinals, whose election the Emperor was trying to annul, and the bishops of Spain and South Italy, and those of the collective Gaulish dioceses (more than a hundred in number), and the English bishops also, gathered around him, and laid the Pope elected by the Emperor under the anathema. It was inevitable that the idea of the Church, as independent of the temporal power, should here find its strongest expression. Some canons were passed which prohibited the usurpation of ecclesiastical property by the laity, and made it a crime in the bishops to allow it19. Thomas Becket was welcomed in this council with a seductive kindness; but besides this, what is harder than to set oneself against the common feeling of one's own order, when moderation already appears to be apostasy? He returned to England filled with the ideas of hierarchic independence; in preparing to carry it through, he necessarily brought on the conflict which had hitherto been avoided. The Plantagenet King, whose whole heart was in the work of securing the obedience of the manifold provinces that had fallen to his lot; who hastened ceaselessly from one to the other (when people thought him far away in South France, he had already recrossed the sea to England), ever occupied in extending his inherited power by institutions of a legal and administrative nature, was not inclined to give way to the Church in this attempt. He would neither make the election of the higher clergy free, nor allow their excommunication to be valid without State control; he not only maintained the right of the lay courts to try ecclesiastics for heinous offences, which else often remained unpunished; but, even in the sphere of spiritual jurisdiction, he claimed to hear appeals in the last instance without regard to the pope. In all this the lay and spiritual nobility agreed with him; in a Council at Clarendon they framed 'constitutions,' in which they declared these rules to be the law of the realm, as it had always been observed, and ought to be observed henceforth20.

Becket did not possess the inflexible obstinacy which distinguishes most of the champions of the hierarchy. As the accordant voice of Europe moved him to take up the hierarchic principles, so now the accordant voice of his country's rulers made an impression on him: he listened to the ecclesiastics who entreated him not to draw the King's displeasure on them, and to the laymen, who prayed him not to bring on them the necessity of executing it on the ecclesiastics: he virtually accepted the Constitutions of Clarendon. But then again he could not prevail on himself to observe them. Only when his vacillation endangered him personally, so that he could expect nothing else to follow but a condemnation by a new assembly of the royal court, did he come to a decision. Then he took the hierarchic side resolutely; in contradiction to the Constitutions, he appealed to the Pope. It is a remarkable day in English history, that 14th October 1164, on which Thomas Becket, after reading mass, appeared before the court without his archiepiscopal dress, but cross in hand. He forbade the earl, who wished to announce the judgment to him, to speak, since no layman had power to sit in judgment on his spiritual father21; he again put himself under the protection of God and the Roman Church, and then passed from the court, no man venturing to lay hands on him, still armed with his cross, to a church close by, from whence he escaped to the Continent. By this he brought into England the war of the two powers, which had already burst into flame in Italy and Germany. The archbishop and primate rejected the supreme judicial authority of the Curia Regis; only in the chief pontiff at Rome did he recognise his rightful judge: by undertaking to bring into full view the complete independence of the spiritual principle on this ground also, he broke down that unity of authority, which had been hitherto maintained in the English realm, and entered into open war with his King.

Henry II was, like most of the sovereigns of that age, above all things a warrior; you could see by his stride that he spent his days on horseback; and he was an indefatigable hunter. But yet he found time besides for study; he took pleasure in solving, in the company of scholars, the difficulties of the theologico-philosophical problems which then largely occupied men's minds; there is no doubt that he also fully understood these politico-ecclesiastical questions. He was by no means a good husband, rather the contrary, but, in other things, he could control himself; he was moderate in eating and drinking. Success did not make him overweening, but all the more prudent: ill-success found him resolute; yet it was remarked that he was more severe in success, milder in adversity. If contradicted, he showed all the excitability of the Southern French nature; he passed from promises to threats, from flatteries to outbursts of wrath, until he met with compliance. His administration at home witnesses to a noble conception of his mission and to a practical understanding; from his lion-like visage shone forth a pair of quiet eyes, but how suddenly did they flame up with wild fire, if the passion was roused that slumbered in the depths of his soul! It was the passion of unlimited power; an ambition for which, as he once said, the world appeared to be too small. He never forgave an opponent; he never reconciled himself with an enemy or took him again into favour.

He would of himself have been much inclined to abandon Alexander III, and attach himself to the Pope set up by the Emperor: his ambassadors took part in a German diet at which the most extreme steps were approved of. But Henry was not sufficiently master of his clergy nor, above all, of his people for this; the solemn curse of Thomas Becket wrought on men from far away. Was there really any foundation for what men then said, that the King thought it better that his foe should be in the country rather than out of it? An apparent reconciliation was brought about, which, however, left the main questions undecided, each side only consenting generally to a peace with the other. Becket did not allow himself to be hindered by it, on his return to England, from excommunicating leading ecclesiastics who had supported the King's party. But at this Henry's deepseated wrath awoke. Beset by the exiles with cries for protection, he let the complaint escape him in the presence of his knights, that among so many to whom he had shown favour there was not one who had courage enough to avenge the insults offered to him. As opposed to the Church sympathies which through the clergy wrought on all people, the temporal state was mainly kept together by the reciprocal relations of the feudal lord and sovereign to his vassals and knights, and of them to him: to spiritual reverence was opposed personal devotion. But these feelings, too, as they have their justification, so they have their moral limitations; they are as capable of exaggeration and excess as all others. Enflamed by the King's words which seemed to touch the honour of knighthood, four of his knights hastened to Canterbury, and sought out the man, who dared to bid the King defiance in his own kingdom; as Becket refused to recall the excommunication, they murdered him horribly in the cathedral. When required to obey the King, Becket was wont to reserve the rights of the Church and the priesthood; for this reservation he died.

Henry II by calling forth, intentionally or not, this brutal act of violence in the ecclcsiastical strife, drew on himself the catastrophe of his life.

By Becket's murder the ideas of Church independence gained what was yet wanting to them, a martyr: his death was more advantageous to them than his life could ever have been. The belief that the victim wrought miracles, which were ascribed to him in increasing measure, at first slight, then more and more surprising ones, viz. cures of incurable diseases,—who does not know the resistless nature of this illusion, bound up as it is with the nearest needs of man in every form?—made him the idol of England. Henry II had to live to see the man who had refused him the old accustomed obedience, reverenced among his people with almost divine honors as one of the greatest saints that had ever lived. The great Hohenstaufen? in the unsuccessful struggle with the Papacy was at last brought to declare that all he had hitherto done rested on an error[51]; and in like manner, but one far more humiliating and painful, Henry II had to do penance[52], and receive the discipline of the scourge, at the tomb of the man who had been murdered by his loyal subjects. On a hasty glance it seems as though his Constitutions[53] were established, but a more accurate inquiry shows that the articles which displeased the Pope were left out. The hierarchic ideas gained the day in England also.

It was precisely the Church quarrel that fed the discords which broke out in the King's own house[54]. His eldest son found a pretence for his revolt, and essentially promoted it, by alleging that the murderers of the glorious martyr were unpunished; he on his side promised the clergy to make good all existing injuries, since what belonged to the Church should not serve man's ostentation. The example of the elder wrought on the younger sons too, to withstand their father, recognised the supremacy of King of France. Henry's last years were filled with depression, and even with despair; when dying he was believed to have bequeathed his curse to his children. In the cloisters his death was ascribed to the intercession and merits of S. Thomas.

For with the acceptance of the hierarchic ideas the prestige of their martyr grew day by day. In the crusade of 1189 men saw him appear in dreams, and declare that he was appointed to protect the fleet, to calm the storms. It was under these auspices that the chivalry of the Plantagenet realm took part in the Third Crusade: King Richard? (in whom the ideas of Church and Chivalry attained their highest splendour) at their head gave back to the already lost kingdom of Jerusalem, in despite of a very powerful foe, a certain amount of stability: as he served the hierarchic views with all his power, there was no question under him as to any dispute between Church and State. But this power itself could not be increased owing to his absence. Whilst he fought for the Church far away, elements of resistance were stirring in his realm which had been there long ago, and soon after his death came to the most violent outbreak.

John Lackland? and Magna Charta.

Despite all the community of interests between the sovereigns of the Conquest and their vassals, grounds of hostility between them had never been altogether wanting. The Conqueror's sons had to make concessions to the great lords, because their succession was not secure; they needed a voluntary recognition, the price of which consisted in a relaxation of the harsh laws with which the monarchy had at first fettered every department of life. But when the great nobles had managed, or decided, contests for the throne, were they likely to feel bound unconditionally to obey the man whom they had raised? Besides Henry II in ecclesiastical quarrel needed the consent of his vassals; his court-assemblies were no longer confined to proclamations of ordinances from the one side only; consultations were held, leading to decisions that concerned them all.

But what is now surprising is the fact, that even the associates in the Conquest, and much more their descendants, claimed the rights which the Anglo-Saxon magnates had once possessed. They, too, appealed incessantly to the Laga, the laws of Edward the Confessor, by which was meant the collection of old legal customs, the observation of which had been promised from the first. Following the precedent of their kings, the families that had risen through the Conquest regarded themselves as the heirs of the fallen Anglo-Saxon chiefs, into whose place they had stepped. The rights of the old Witan and of the vassals of the new feudal state became fused together.

We must now lay greater weight than is commonly done on the incidents that occurred during King Richard's absence. He had entrusted the administration of the realm to a man of low origin, William?, bishop of Ely, who carried it on with great energy, and not without the pomp and splendour, which grace authority, but arouse jealousy. Hence lay and spiritual chiefs combined against him: with Earl John, the brother of the absent King, at their head, they banished the hated bishop by the strong hand, and of their own authority set another in his place. The city of London, which had been already allowed the election of its own magistrates by Henry II, had then formed a so-called Communia after the pattern of the Flemish and North French towns; bishops, earls, and barons, swore to support the city in it22.

These first attempts at an opposition by the estates obtained fresh weight when on Richard's death a contest again arose about the succession. Earl John claimed it for himself, but Arthur?, an elder brother's son, seemed to have a better right, and had been moreover recognised at once in the South French provinces. The English nobles fortified their castles, and for some time assumed an almost threatening position; they only acknowledged John on the assurance that each and all should have their rights23. John's possession of the crown therefore derived not merely from right of inheritance, but from their election.

A strong territorial confederacy had thus gradually grown up, confronting the royal power with a claim to independent rights; events now happened that roused it into full life. King John incurred the suspicion of having murdered Arthur, who had fallen into his hands, to rid himself of his claims; he was accused of it by the peers of France, and pronounced guilty; on which the Plantagenet provinces which were fiefs of the French crown went over to the King of France at the first attack. The English nobility would at least not fight for a sovereign on whom such a heinous suspicion lay: on another pretence [taxes] it abandoned him. But then broke out a new quarrel with the Church. The most powerful pontiff that ever sat in the Roman See, Innocent III?, thought good to decide a disputed election at Canterbury by passing over both candidates, including the King's, and caused the election of, or rather himself named, one of his friends from the great school at Paris, Stephen Langton?. As King John did not acknowledge him, Innocent laid England under an Interdict.

Alike careless and cruel, naturally hasty and untrustworthy, of doubtful birthright, and now rejected by the Church, John must have rather expected resistance than support from the great men of the realm. He tried to assure himself of those he suspected by taking hostages from their families; he confiscated the property of the ecclesiastics who complied with the Pope's orders, and took it under his own management; he employed every means which the still unlimited extent of the supreme authority allowed, to obtain money and men; powerfully and successfully he used the sword. But in the long run he could not maintain himself by these means. When a revolt broke out in Wales at the open instigation of the Pope, and the King's vassals were summoned to put it down, even among them a general discontent was perceptible; John had reason to dread that if he came near the enemy with such an army he might be delivered into their hands or killed: he did not venture to carry out the campaign. And meanwhile he saw himself threatened from abroad also. King Philip Augustus? of France armed, to attack his old opponent at home (whom he had already driven from those provinces over which he himself was feudal sovereign), and to carry out the Pope's excommunication against him. He boasted, probably with good grounds, of having the English barons' letters and seals, promising that they would join him. He would have restored all the fugitives and exiles; the Church element would have raised itself all the more strongly, in proportion to its previous depression; a general revolt would have accompanied his attack, the English government according to all appearance would have been lost.

King John knew this well: to avoid immediate ruin he seized on a means of escape which was completely unexpected, but quite decisive—he gave over his kingdom in vassalage to the Pope.

What William I had so expressly rejected was now accepted in a moment of extreme pressure, from which such a step was the only means of escape. The moment the Pope was recognised as feudal lord of England, not only must his hostility cease, but he would be bound to take the realm under his protection. He now forbade the King of France, whom he had before urged on to its conquest, to carry out the invasion, which was already prepared.

It appears as if the barons had originally agreed with the King's proceeding, although they did not entirely approve its form. They maintained that they had risen up for the Church's rights24, and saw in the Pope a natural ally. They thought to gain their own purpose all the more surely now that Stephen Langton received the see of Canterbury, a man who, while he represented the Papal authority, at the same time zealously made their interests his own. At the very moment when the archbishop absolved the King from the excommunication, he made him swear that he would restore the good laws, especially those of King Edward, and would do all according to the legal decisions of his courts. It may be regarded as the first time that a Norman-Plantagenet king's administration was acted on by an obligatory engagement, when King John, on the point of taking the field against some barons whom he regarded as rebels, was hindered by the archbishop who reminded him that he would thus be breaking his last oath, which bound him to take judicial proceedings. The tradition that a forgotten charter of Henry I[55] was produced by the archbishop (who was certainly, as his writings show, a scholar of research), and recognised as a legal document which gave them a firm footing, may admit of some doubt; there is no doubt that it was Stephen Langton who gathered around him the great nobles and bound them by a mutual engagement, to defend, even at the risk of life, the old liberties and rights which they derived from Anglo-Saxon times.

It was, in fact, of considerable importance that the primate, on whose co-operation with the King the Norman state originally rested, united himself in this matter as closely as possible with the nobles; among all alike, without regard to their origin, whether from France or from England, had arisen the wish to limit the crown, as it had been limited in the Anglo-Saxon period.

Here, however, they had to discover that the Pope was minded to protect the King, his vassal, not only against attacks from abroad, but also against movements at home. The engagements which the barons had formed, when he released them from their oath of fidelity to the King, he now declared to be invalid and void. The legate in England [Nicholas of Tusculum] reported unfavourably on their proceedings, and it was seen that he was intimately allied with the King. The war was still raging on the continent, and the King had been again defeated, at Bouvines, July 27, 1214; he had returned disheartened, but not without bodies of mercenaries, both horse and foot, which excited anxiety in the allied nobles. This feeling was strengthened by the fact that, after the death of a chancellor[56] connected with them by family, and on good terms with them, he raised a foreigner, Peter des Roches?, to that dignity, and it was believed that this foreigner would lend a hand to any attempt at restoring the previous state of things. Acts of violence of the old sort, and the King's lusts, which brought dishonour into their families, added to their indignation. In short, the barons, far from breaking up their alliance, confirmed it with new oaths. While they pressed the King to accept the demands which they laid before him, they sent one of the chief of their number, Eustace de Vescy?, to Rome, to win the Pope to their cause, by reminding him of the gratitude due to them for their services in the cause of the Church. As lord of England, for they did not hesitate to designate him as such, he might admonish King John, and, if necessary, force him to restore unimpaired the old rights guaranteed them by the charters of earlier Kings25.

But not so did Innocent understand his right of supreme lordship in England; he did not side with those who had helped to win the victory for him over the King, but with the King himself, to whose sudden decision he owed its fruits—the acknowledgment of his feudal superiority. He blamed the archbishop? for concealing the movements of the barons from him, and for having, perhaps, even encouraged them, though knowing their pernicious nature: with what view was he stirring questions of which no mention had been made either under the King's father or brother? He censured the barons for refusing the scutage?, which had been paid from old times, and for their threat of proceeding sword in hand. He repeated his command to them to break up their confederacy, under threat of excommunication.

As one step lower the primate and nobles, so in the highest sphere Innocent? and John were in alliance. The Papacy, then in possession of supremacy over the world, made common cause with royalty. Would not the nobles, some from reverence for the supreme Pontiff's authority, others from a sense of religious obligation, yield to this alliance? Such was not their intention26.

The king proffered the barons an arbitration, the umpire to be the Pope, or else an absolute reference of the whole matter to him, who then by his apostolic power could settle what was right and lawful. They could not possibly accept either the one or the other, after the known declarations of the Pope. As they persevered in their hostile altitude, the King called on the archbishop to carry out the instructions of a Papal brief, and pronounce the barons excommunicated. Stephen Langton answered that he knew better what was the true intention of the holy father. The Pope's name this time remained quite powerless. Rather it was preached in London that the highest spiritual power should not encroach on temporal affairs; Peter, in the significant phrase of the time, could not be Constantine as well27.

Only among the lower citizens was there a party favourable to the King, but they were put down at a blow by the great barons and the rich citizens. The capital threw its whole weight on the side of the barons. They rose in arms and formally renounced their allegiance to the King; they proclaimed war against him under the name of the 'army of God.' Thus confronted by the whole kingdom, in which there appeared to be only one opinion, the King had no means of resistance remaining, no choice left.

He came down—15th June, 1215—from Windsor to the meadow at Runnemede, where the barons lay encamped, and signed the articles laid before him, happy enough in getting some of them softened. The Great Charter came into being, truly the 'Magna Charta,' which throws not merely all earlier, but also the later charters into the shade[57].

It is a document which, more than any other, links together the different epochs of English history. With a renewal of the earliest maxims of German personal freedom it combines a settlement of the rights of the feudal Estates: on this twofold basis has the proud edifice of the English constitution been erected. Before all things the lay nobles sought to secure themselves against the misuse of the King's authority in his feudal capacity, and as bound up with the supreme jurisdiction; but the rights of the Church and of the towns were also guaranteed. It was especially by forced collections of extraordinary aids that King John had harassed his Estates: since they could no longer put up with this, and yet the crown could not dispense with extraordinary resources, a solution was found by requiring that such aids should not be levied except with the consent of the Great Council, which consisted of the lords spiritual and temporal. They tried to set limits to the arbitrary imprisonments that had been hitherto the order of the day, by definite reference to the law of the land and the verdict of sworn men. But these are just the weightiest points on which personal freedom and security of property rest; and how to combine them with a strong government forms the leading problem for all national constitutions.

Two other points in this document deserve notice. In other countries also at this epoch emperors and kings made very comprehensive concessions to the several Estates: the distinctive point in the case of England is, that they were not made to each Estate separately, but to all at the same time. While elsewhere each Estate was caring for itself, here a common interest of all grew up, which bound them together for ever. Further, the Charter was introduced in conscious opposition to the supreme spiritual power also; the principles which lay at the very root of popular freedom breathed an anti-Romish spirit.

Yet it was far from possible to regard them as being fully established. There were also conditions contained in the Charter, by which the legal and indispensable powers of the King's government were impaired: the barons even formed a controlling power as against the King. It could not be expected that King John, or any of his successors, would let this pass quietly. And besides, was not the Pope able to do away with the obligation of which he disapproved? We still possess the first draft of the Charter, which presents considerable variations from the document in its final form, among others the following. According to the draft the King was to give an assurance that he would never obtain from the Pope a revocation of the arrangements agreed on; the archbishop, the bishops, and the Papal plenipotentiary, Master Pandulph?, were to guarantee this assurance. We see to what quarter the anxieties of the nobles pointed, how they wished above all to obtain security against the influences of the Papal See. yet this they were not able to obtain. There was no mention in the document either of the bishops or of Master Pandulph; the King promised in general, not to obtain such a revocation from any one; they avoided naming the Pope28.

In reality it made no difference, whatever might be promised or done in this respect. Innocent III was not the man to accept quietly what had taken place against his declared will, or to yield to accomplished facts. On the authority of the words 'I have set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms,' which seemed to him a sufficient basis for his Paramount Right, he gave sentence rejecting the whole contents of the Charter; he suspended Stephen Langton, excommunicated the barons and the citizens of London, as the true authors of this perverse act, and forbade the king under pain of excommunication to observe the Charter which he had put forth.

And even without this King John had already armed, to annul by force of arms all that he had promised. A war broke out which took a turn especially dangerous to the kingdom, because the barons called the heir of France? to the English throne and did him homage. So little were the feelings of nationality yet developed, that the barons fought out the war against their King, supported by the presence and military Power of a foreign prince. For the interests of the English Crown it was perhaps an advantage that King John died in the midst of the troubles, and his rights passed to his son Henry, a child to whom his father's iniquity could not be imputed29. In his name a royalist party was formed by the joint action of Pembroke?, the Marshal of the kingdom, and the Papal Legate, which at last won such advantages in the field, that the French prince was induced to surrender his claim, which he himself hardly held to be a good one—the English were designated as traitors by his retinue,—and give back to the barons the homage they had pledged him. But he did so only on the condition that not merely their possessions, but also the lawful customs and liberties of the realm should be secured to them30. At a meeting between Henry III? and the French prince at Merton in Surrey, it was agreed to give Magna Charta a form, in which it was deemed compatible with the monarchy. In this shape the article on personal freedom occurs; on the other hand everything is left out that could imply a power of control to be exercised against the King; the need of a grant before levying scutage is also no longer mentioned. The barons abandoned for the time their chief claims. It is, properly speaking, this charter which was renewed in the ninth year of Henry III as Magna Charta, and was afterwards repeatedly confirmed. As we see, it did not include the right of approving taxes by a vote.

Whether men's union in a State in general depends on an original contract [58], is a question for political theorists, and to them we leave its solution. On the other hand, however, it might well be maintained that the English constitution, as it gradually shaped itself, assumed the character of a contract. So much is already involved in the first promises which William the Conqueror made at his entry into London and in his agreement with the partisans of Harold. The same is true of the assurances given by his sons, especially the second one: they were the price of a very definite equivalent. More than any that had gone before however does Magna Charta bear this character. The barons put forward their demands: King John negociates about them, and at last sees himself forced to accept them. It is true that he soon takes arms to free himself from the obligation he has undertaken. It comes to a struggle, in which, however, neither side decidedly the upper hand, and they agree to a compromise. It is true the barons did not expressly stipulate for the new charter when they submitted to John's son (for with John himself they could certainly have never been reconciled), but yet it is undeniable that without it their submission would never have taken place, nor would peace have been concluded.

As, however, is generally the case, the agreement had in it the germs of a further quarrel. The one side did not forget what it had lost, the other what it had aimed at and failed to attain. Magna Charta does not contain a final settlement, by which the sovereign's claims to obedience were reconciled with the security of the vassals; it is less a contract that has attained to full validity, than the outline of a contract, to fill up which would yet require the struggles of centuries.


There is a very accurate correspondence in this epoch also between the general history of the Western world and events in England: these last form but a part of the great victory of the hierarchy and its advance in power, which marks the first half of the 13th century. By combining with the vassals the Popes had overcome the monarchy, and had then in turn overcome the vassals by combining with the monarchy and its endangered rights. It must not be regarded as a mere title, an empty word, if the Pope was acknowledged to be feudal Lord of England: his legates, Gualo?, Pandulph?, Otho?, and with them some native prelates, devoted to him (above all that Peter des Roches?, who, by his conduct when Bishop of Winchester, through the mistrust awakened, incurred almost the chief responsibility of the earlier troubles), spoke the decisive word in the affairs of the kingdom and crushed their opponents. It was reported that Innocent IV? was heard to say, 'Is not the King of England my vassal, my servant? At my nod he will imprison and punish'31. Under this influence the best benefices in the kingdom were given away without regard to the freedom of election or the rights of patrons, and in fact mostly to foreigners. The Pope's exchequer drew its richest revenues from England; there was no end to the exactions of its subordinate agents, Master Martin, Master Marin, Peter Rubeo, and all the rest of them. Even the King surrounded himself with foreigners. To his own relations and to the relations of his Provençal wife? fell the most profitable places, and the advantages arising from his paramount feudal rights; they too exercised much influence on public affairs, and that in the interests of the Papal power, with which they were allied. Riotous movements occasionally took place against this system, but they were suppressed: men suffered in silence as long as it was only the exercise of rights once acknowledged. But now it happened that the Popes in their war with the last of the Hohenstaufen?, whom they had resolved to destroy, proposed to employ the resources of England and in a very different manner than before. They awoke Henry III's dynastic ambition by promoting the elevation of his brother? to be King of the Romans, and destining his younger son? Edmund for the crown of Naples and Sicily. King Henry pledged himself in return to the heaviest money-payments. It began to appear as if England were no longer a free kingdom, using its resources for its own objects: the land and all its riches was at the service of the Pope at Rome; the King was little more than a tool of the hierarchy.

It was at this crisis that the Parliaments of England, if they did not actually begin, yet first attained to a definite form and efficiency.

The opposition of the country to the ecclesiastico-temporal government became most conspicuous in the year 1257, when Henry, happy beyond measure in his son's being raised to royal rank by the Apostolic See, presented his son to the Great Council of the nation, already wearing the national costume of Naples, and named the sum, to the payment of which he had pledged himself in return. The Estates at once refused their consent to his accepting the crown, which they considered could not be maintained owing to the untrustworthiness of the Italians, and of the Romish See itself, and the distance of the country; the moneypledge excited loud displeasure. Since they were required to redeem it, they reasonably enough gave it to be understood that they ought to have been consulted first. It was precisely the alliance of the Pope and the King that they had long felt most bitterly; they said truly, England would by such a joint action be as it were ground to dust between two millstones. As, however, despite all remonstrances, the demands were persevered with,—for the King had taken on himself the debts incurred by Pope Alexander IV? in the Neapolitan war, and the Pope had already referred to England the bankers entrusted with the payments,—a storm of opposition broke out, which led to what was equivalent to an overthrow of the government. The King had to consent to the appointment of a committee for reforming the realm, to be named in equal proportions by himself and by the barons; from this, however, was selected a council of fifteen members, in which the King's opponents had a decisive majority. They put forth Statutes, at Oxford[59], which virtually stripped the King of his power; he had to swear to them with a lighted taper in his hand. The Pope without hesitation at once condemned these ordinances; King Louis IX of France also, who was called in as arbiter, decided against them: and some moderate men drew back from them: but among the rest the zeal with which they held to them was thus only inflamed to greater violence. They had the King in their power, and felt themselves strong enough to impose their will on him as law.

Without doubt they had the opinion of the country on their side. For the first time since the Conquest the insular spirit of England, which was now shared even by the conquerors themselves, manifested itself in a natural opposition to all foreign influence. The King's half-brothers with their numerous dependents were driven out without mercy, their castles occupied, their places given to the foremost Englishmen. The Papal legate Guido?, one of the most distingished members of the Curia, who himself became Pope at a later time, was forbidden to enter England. Most foreigners, it mattered not of what station or nationality, were forced to quit the realm: it went hard with those who could not speak English. The leader of the barons, Simon de Montfort?, was solemnly declared Protector of the kingdom and people; he had in particular the lower clergy, the natural leaders of the masses, on his side. When he was put under the ban of the Church his followers retorted by assuming the badge of the cross, since his cause appeared to them just and holy32.

At this very juncture it was that the attempt was made to form a Parliamentary Assembly corresponding to the meaning of that word.

The Statutes or Provisions of Oxford contain the first attempt to effect this, by enacting that thrice every year the newly formed royal Council should meet together with twelve men elected by the Commonalty of England, and consult on the affairs of the kingdom. There is no doubt that these twelve belonged to the nobles and were to represent them: the decisive point lies in the fact that it was not a number of nobles summoned by the King, but a committee of the Estates chosen by themselves that was placed by the side of the Council. The Council and the twelve persons elected formed for some years an association that united the executive and legislative powers.

But this continued only as long as the King acquiesced in it. When he had the courage to resist, it is true that in the first encounter which ensued, he was himself taken prisoner: but his partisans were not crushed by this; and soon after his wife?, who had collected about her a considerable body of mercenaries, in concert with the Pope and the King of France, thought herself strong enough to invade England. Simon felt that he needed a greater, in other words, a broader, basis of support. And the design he then conceived has secured him an imperishable memory. He summoned first of all representatives of the knights of the shires, and directly afterwards representatives of the towns and the Cinque Ports, to form a Parliament in conjunction with the nobles of the realm. This was not an altogether new thing in the European world; we know that in the Cortes of Aragon, as early as the 12th century, by the side of the high nobility and the ecclesiastics there appeared also the Hidalgos and the deputies of the Commons; and Simon de Montfort might well be aware of this, since his father? had been in so many ways connected with Aragon. In England itself under King John men had come very near it without however carrying it through: not till afterwards did the innovation appear a real necessity. In opposition to the one-sided power exercised by the foreigners, nothing was so much insisted on in daily talk and in the popular ballads as the propriety of calling the natives of the land to counsel, since to them its laws were best known. This justifiable wish met with adequate satisfaction now that the Commons were summoned; the public feeling against the foreigners, on which Simon de Montfort necessarily relied, thus found expression. The assembly which he called together doubtless sympathised with his party views. As he invited only those nobles to it who remained true to him (they were not more than twenty-three in number), so he appears to have summoned those only of the towns which adhered to him unconditionally. But the arrangement involved more than was contemplated from his point of view.

Amid the storms he had called forth Simon de Montfort perished: the King was freed, the royal authority reestablished. A new Papal legate entered London in the full splendour of his office, Cardinal Ottoboni?; Guido having meanwhile himself obtained the tiara, and using every means to subdue the unbending spirits, from which danger even to the Church was dreaded33. Yet the old state of things was not restored: neither the rule of foreigners, nor the absolute dependence on the Papal policy. The later government of Henry III has a different character from the earlier: the legate himself confirmed Magna Charta in the shape finally accepted. It is not merely at the great national festivals that we find representatives of the towns present, whom the King has summoned; it is beyond a doubt that one of the most important statutes of the time was passed with their consent34. Yet regulations for the summons of representatives from the towns were as little fixed by law as those for voting the taxes. It would by no means harmonise with the constitution of Romano-German states, that organic institutions should come into full force in mere antagonism to the highest authority. They must coincide with the interests of that authority, as was the case in England under Henry's warlike son Edward I?.

Without doubt Edward, who once more revived in the East the reputation of the Plantagenet Kings for personal valour, would have preferred to fight there for the interests of Christendom, he even speaks of it in his will; or eke he would have wished to recover from the French crown the lands which his father had inherited, and which had passed into French possession; but neither the one nor the other was possible; another object was assigned to his energy and his ambition, one more befitting an English king: he undertook to unite the whole island under his sceptre.

In Wales, the conquest of which had been so often attempted and so often failed, there lived at this time Prince Llewellyn?, whose personal beauty, cunning, and high spirit fitted him to be a brilliant representative of the old British nationality. The bards, reviving the old prophecies, promised him the ancient crown of Brutus; but when he ventured out of the mountains, he was overpowered and fell in a hand-to-hand conflict. The English crown was not to fall to his lot, but Edward transferred the title of Prince of Wales to his own son. The great cross of the Welsh, the crown of Arthur, fell into his hands: he no longer tolerated the bards: their age passed away with the Crusades.

From Wales Edward turned his arms against Scotland. There Columban had in former days anointed as king a Scottish prince, who was also of Keltic descent; how the German element nevertheless got the upper hand not merely in the greatest part of the country, but also in the ruling family, is the great problem of early Scottish history: a thoroughly Germanic monarchy had arisen, but one which after it had once given a home to the Anglo-Saxons who fled before the Normans, thought its honour concerned in repelling all English influences. A disputed succession[60] gave Edward I an opportunity of reviving the claims of his predecessors to the overlordship of Scotland: he gave the Scotch a king, whom the Scotch rejected simply because he was the English King's nominee. The war, which sometimes seemed ended—there were times at which Edward could regard himself as the Lord of all Albion,—ever blazed out again; above all, the support the Scotch received from the King of France brought about complications which filled all Western Europe with trouble and war; but it was in the home politics of England that their effect was destined to be greatest.

Compelled to make incessant efforts, which exhausted the resources of the crown, Edward appealed to the voluntary assistance of his subjects. He laid down to them the principle, that their common perils should be met with their united strength, that what concerns all must also be borne by all. In the war against Wales he had gathered together the representatives of the counties and the towns, to hear his demands and to act accordingly; chiefly to vote him subsidies. After the victory he had called an assembly of nobles, knights, and towns, to take counsel with them about the treatment of the captives and the country. Similarly he drew together the representatives of the towns in order to decide the affairs of Scotland. With especial emphasis did he call for their united help against Philip the Fair of France, who thought to destroy the English tongue from off the earth[61]: knights and towns were pledged to help in carrying out the resolutions thus adopted by common consent.

In spite of all this appealing to free participation in public matters, Edward I did not refrain from the arbitrary imposition of taxes, and those the most oppressive[62]: the eighth, even the fifth part of men's income. For the campaign in Flanders he summoned the under-tenants as well as the tenants in chief. We find instances of arbitrary seizure of whatever was necessary for the war.

King Edward excused this by his maxim that the interests of the land must be defended with the resources of the land35, but we can conceive how, on the boundary line between two different systems, acts of violence, which combined the arbitrariness of the one with the principles of the other, caused a general agitation. In the year 1297 the spiritual lords under their archbishop, as well as the temporal ones (who denied the obligation to serve beyond the sea) under the Constable? and Marshal?, set themselves energetically to oppose the King. The people, which had the most to suffer from the arbitrary exactions, took their side with cordial approval. They set forth all the grievances of the country, and insisted on their immediate and final redress.

To avoid the pressure, the King had already quitted England, to carry on his campaign in Flanders: the demand was laid before the Councillors whom he had left behind as assessors to his son?, who was named Regent. They however were in great perplexity, partly from the trouble of this agitation itself, but mainly from the revolt in Scotland which had broken out in a formidable manner. William Walays?, like one of those Heyduck? chiefs who rise in Turkey against the established order of things, the right of which they do not recognise, had come down from the hill country, at the head of the fugitives and exiles, a robber-patriot, of gigantic bodily strength and innate talent for war. His successes soon increased his band to the size of an army; he beat the English in a pitched battle[at Stirling Bridge], and then swept over the borders into the English territory. If the royal commissioners would oppose a strong resistance to this inroad, they must needs ratify a provisional concession of the demands brought forward. The King, who had meanwhile reached Flanders, which the French had entered from two sides, could not possibly yield to the Scottish movement—whether he wished to carry on the war or make a truce: nothing therefore remained to him but to confirm the concessions made by his councillors.

It is not absolutely certain how far these had gone; one word of discussion may be allowed on the matter. The historians of the time have maintained that the right of voting the taxes was granted to the Estates, and in fact conjointly to the nobles whether spiritual or temporal, and the representatives of the counties and towns: the copy of a statute is extant, in which this is very expressly stated36. But since the statute does not exist in an authentic shape, and is not to be found in the Rolls of the Realm, we cannot safely base any conclusion on it. As to the date too at which it may have been passed, our statements waver between the twenty-eighth and the thirty-fourth year of Edward [1300-1306]. On the other hand we find in the collection of charters an undoubted charter of confirmation given at Ghent and dated 5 November 1297, in which not merely are the Great Charter of Henry III and the Forest Charter[63] confirmed, but also some new arrangements of much importance guaranteed, and confirmed by ecclesiastico-judicial regulations37. According to it the grants of taxes and contributions which had been hitherto made to the King for his wars were not to be regarded as binding for the future. He reserves only the old customary taxes: to the higher clergy, the nobility, and the commons of the land the assurance is given, that under no circumstances, however pressing, should any tax or contribution or requisition—not even the export duty on wool—be levied except by their common consent and for the interests of all38. In the Latin text all sounds more open and less reserved: but even the words of the authentic document include a very essential limitation of the prerogative of the crown, which hitherto had alone exercised the right of estimating what the state needed and of fixing the payments by this standard. The King was averse at heart to the limitation even in this form. When he came back from Flanders after concluding a truce with France, and army and people were met together at York, to carry out a great campaign against Scotland, he was pressed to confirm on English soil the concessions which he had granted on foreign ground39. He held it advisable that the campaign should be first carried through; four of his confidential friends swore in his stead (since an oath in person was thought unbecoming to the King), that, the campaign ended, the confirmation should not be wanting. The enterprise was most successful, it led to a great victory over the Scots [at Falkirk, 1298], and it was the leaders of the English aristocracy who did the best service there; nevertheless, when they met together next Lent (1299) in London, the King strove to avoid an absolute promise: he wished to expressly reserve the undefined 'rights of the crown.' But this delay aroused a general storm: and as he was quite convinced that he could not, under this condition, reckon on further support in the war which still continued, he at last submitted to what was unavoidable, and allowed his clause to drop40.

I do not know whether I am mistaken in ascribing to these concessions a different character from that of the earlier ones. It was not a sovereign defeated and reduced to the deepest humiliation who made them, nor did the barons obtain articles which aimed at securing their own direct supremacy: the concessions were the result of the war, which could not be carried on with the existing means. When Edward I laid stress on the necessity of greater common efforts, the counter-demand which was made on him, and to which he yielded, merely implied that a common resolution should be previously come to. His concessions included a return for service already done, and a condition for future service. It did not abase the royal authority; it brought into clear view the unity of interests between the crown and the nation. Another great crisis united them for the second time. As Edward led the forces of England year by year across the Tweed, to compel the Scots to acknowledge his overlordship by the edge of the sword, the Pope who assumed himself to be the Suzerain of the kingdoms of the world, Boniface VIII?, met him with the assertion that Scotland belonged to the Church of Rome, the King therefore was violating the rights of that Church by his invasions. To confront the Pope, King Edward thought it best, as did Philip the Fair of France about the same time, to call in his Estates to his aid, since without them no answer to the claim was possible. The Estates then in a long letter not merely maintain the right of the English crown, but also reject the Pope's claim to decide respecting it as arbiter, as incompatible with the royal dignity: even if the King wished it, yet they would never lend a hand to anything so unseemly and so unheard of41. The King, without regard to the Pope, continued his campaigns against Scotland with unabated energy.

It marks the character of Edward I that he nevertheless did not break with the Papacy on this account; so too he still raised taxes that had not been voted, and held Parliaments in the old form: when representatives of the counties and towns were summoned it is not always clear whether they were elected or named42. Edward I could not free himself from the habits of arbitrary rule and the old ideas connected with them. But with all this it is still undeniable that under him the monarchy took a far more national position than before; it no longer stood in a hostile attitude as against the community of the land, but belonged to it.

And his successors soon saw themselves forced to complete still further the foundations of a new state of things, which had been thus laid.

Under Edward II the old ambition of the barons to take a preponderant part in the government reappeared once more with the greatest violence. The occasion was afforded by the weakness of this sovereign, who allowed his favourite, the Gascon Gaveston?, a disastrous influence on affairs. Discontented with this, the King's nearest cousin, Thomas of Lancaster?, placed himself at the head of the great nobles, as indeed he was believed to have sworn to his father in law? (whose rich possessions passed to him, and who feared a return of the foreign influences), that he would adhere to the interest of the barons, which was also that of the country. In the fourth year of his government Edward was obliged to accept all the regulations made by a Committee of the Nobles called the 'Ordainers?.'

Without advice of the nobles he was forbidden either to begin a war, or to fill up high offices of State, or even to leave the country: the officers of the crown were to be responsible to them. Gaveston had to pay for his short possession of influence by death without mercy.

It was long before the King found men who had the ' courage to defend the lawful authority of the crown. At last the two Hugh Despencers? undertook it: under their leadership the barons were defeated, and Thomas of Lancaster in his turn paid for his enterprises with his life. For in England, if anywhere, the assumption of power led inevitably to the scaffold.

It is hardly needful to say that the regulations of the Ordainers were now revoked. But must not some means be also thought of, to prevent similar acts of violence for the future? It was deemed necessary to declare even the form, under cover of which they had been ratified, invalid for all time. And so an enactment was now made, in which the first definite idea of the Parliamentary Monarchy becomes visible. It was declared that never for the future should any ordinance affecting the King's power and proceeding from his subjects be valid, but only that should be law which was discussed, agreed on, and enacted in Parliament by the King with the consent of the prelates, the earls and barons, and the commonalty of the realm43. For it was above all things necessary to withdraw the legislative authority for ever from the turbulent grandees. The monarchy opposed to them its alliance with the commonalty of the realm, as it was expressed by the representatives of the Knights and the commons. Among the founders of the English constitution these Hugh Despencers, through whom the legislative power was first transferred to the united body of King, Lords and Commons, take a very important position.

This thought was however rather one left for the future to carry out, than one which swayed or contented the English world at the time. Edward II fell before a new attack of the revolted barons, with whom even his wife? was allied: he had to think it a piece of good fortune that, on the ground of his own abdication, his son? was acknowledged as his successor. The latter however could only obtain real possession of the royal power by overthrowing the faction to which his father had succumbed. While he restored the memory of the two Despencers, who had been condemned and executed by the barons, he also decided to carry on a Parliamentary government; it is the first that existed in England.

For the general course of the development it is significant that the rights of Parliament in relation to the voting of taxes, and now also to legislation as a whole, were acknowledged before an appropriate form was found for its consultations. In the first years of Edward III its four constituent parts, prelates, barons, knights, and town deputies, held their debates in four different assemblies; but gradually the two first were fused into an Upper, the two last into a Second House, without any definite law being laid down to that effect: the nature of things led to the custom, the custom in course of time became law.

That which had been already preparing under the first Edward came under the third for the first time into complete operation, viz. the participation of the Estates in the management of foreign affairs and of war.

In the year 1333 the Parliament advised the King to break the peace with Scotland, which the barons had concluded of their own authority according to their own views, not to put up with any more outrages, and not merely to take back the lost border-fortress of Berwick, but to force the Scots to acknowledge the supremacy of England.

In the year 1337 and afterwards the Parliament more than once approved the King's plan of asserting the claim he had through his mother on the French throne by force of arms and through alliances with foreign princes 44, and promised to support him in it with their lives and properties; it was all the more ready for this, as France had been repeatedly threatening England with a new Conquest. In the year 1344 the Peers, each in his own name, called on the King to cross the sea and not let himself be hindered by any one, not even by the Pope, from appealing to the judgment of God by battle. The clergy imposed on themselves a three-years' tenth, the counties a fifteenth, the towns two tenths; the great nobles followed him in person with their squires and horsemen, without even alluding to their old remonstrances. So that splendid army made its appearance in France, in which the weapons of the yeomen vied with those of the knights, and which, thanks chiefly to the former, won the victory of Cressy. Whilst the King made conquests over the French, his heroic Queen? repelled the Scotch. In these wars the now united nation, which put forth all its strength, came for the first time to the feeling of its power, to a position of its own in the world and to the consciousness of it. The King of Scotland at that time, and the King of France some years later, became prisoners in England[65].

A period followed in which England seemed to have obtained the supremacy in Western Europe. The Scots purchased their King's freedom by a truce which bound them to long and heavy payments, for which hostages were given as a security. A peace was made with the French by which Guienne, Gascony, Poitou, and such important towns as Rochelle and Calais were surrendered to the English. The Prince of Wales, who took up his residence at Bordeaux, mixed in the Spanish quarrels with the view of uniting Biscay to his territories in South France. As the result of these circumstances and of the well-calculated encouragement of Edward III, we find that English commerce prospered immensely and, in emulous alliance with that of Flanders, began to form another great centre for the general commerce of the world. It was still chiefly in the hands of foreigners, but the English made great profits by it. Their riches gained them almost as much prestige in the world as their bravery45. The more money-resources the towns possessed, and the more they could and did support the King, the greater became their influence on the affairs of the realm. No language could be more humble than that of these 'poor and simple Commons,' when they address themselves to 'their glorious and thrice gracious King and lord.45a' But for all that their representations are exceedingly comprehensive and pressing; their grants are not to take effect, unless their grievances are redressed; they never leave out of sight the interests of their staple; they assail the exactions of the officials or the clergy with great zeal. The regard paid to them gives the whole government a popular character.

On an attempt of the King to exercise the legislative power in his great council, they remonstrated; they had no objection to the ordinances themselves, but insisted that valid statutes could only proceed from the lawfully assembled Parliament.

Now too the relations to the Papal See came again into consideration. Seated at Avignon[66] under the influence of the French crown, the Popes were natural opponents of Edward III's claims and enterprises; they sometimes thought of directing the censures of the Church against him. On the other hand, the complaints in England against the encroachments and pecuniary demands of the Curia were louder than ever, without however coming to a rupture on these points. But at last Urban V? renewed the old claim to the vassalage of England; he demanded the feudal tribute first paid by King John, and threatened King and kingdom, in case they were not willing to pay it, with judicial proceedings46. We know the kings had seen in the connexion with Rome a last resource against the demands of the Estates: on the King's side it required some resolution to renounce it. But the very nature of the Parliamentary government, as Edward III had settled it, involved a disregard of these considerations for the future. It was before the Parliament itself that he laid the Papal demands for their consent and counsel. The Estates consulted separately: first the spiritual and lay lords framed their resolution, then the town deputies assented to it. The answer they gave the Pope was that King John's submission was destitute of all validity, since it was against his coronation-oath, and was made without the consent of the Estates; should the Pope try to enforce satisfaction of his demand by legal process or in any other manner, they would all—dukes, earls, barons and commons—oppose him with their united force47. The clergy only assented to the declaration of invalidity; to threaten the holy father with their resistance, they considered unbecoming. But the declaration of the lay Estates was in itself sufficient for the purpose: the claim was never afterwards raised again.[67]

The Estates had often been obliged to contend against the King and the Roman See at the same time; now the King was allied with them against the Papacy. Now that the Parliamentary constitution was established in its final stage, it is clear how much the union of the Crown and the Estates in opposition to external influence had contributed to it. It was destined however shortly to undergo other tests.


England did not long maintain herself in the dominant position she then occupied; the plan of extending her rule into Spain proved ruinous to the Prince of Wales?. Not merely was his protegé overpowered by the French 'Free Companies,' which had gathered round his opponent: a Castilian warfleet succeeded in destroying the English one in sight of the harbour of Rochelle. On this, their natural inclination towards the King of France awoke in the nobles and towns of South France; without great battles, merely by the revolt of vassals tired of his rule, Edward III again lost all the territories conquered with such great glory, except a few coast towns. Then a gloom settled down around the aged conqueror. He saw his eldest son, who, though obliged to quit France, in England enjoyed the fullest confidence and had every prospect of a great future, sicken away and die. And he too experienced, what befalls so many others, that misfortune abroad raised him up opponents at home. In the increasing weakness of old age, which gave rise to many wellgrounded grievances, he could not maintain the independence of the royal power, with the re-establishment of which he had begun his reign. He was forced to receive into his council men whom he did not like. He was still able to effect thus much, that the succession to the kingdom came to the son of the Prince of Wales, Richard II?. But would he, a boy of eleven, be able to take the helm of the proud ship? Men saw factions arise that grouped themselves round the king's uncles[68], who were not fully disposed to defend his aurhority.

The great question of England's history now was, whether the parliamentary constitution, whilst it limited the King's prerogative, would also give him security. For the Commons had been at last admitted into the King's Council chiefly in that they might withstand the violence of the factions. The situation however was not without its complications, for with the political movement one of yet wider aim was connected.

When the kingdom was at the very height of its power there arose in a college at Oxford the man who began that contest against the Papal supremacy which has never ceased. John Wyclif? attached himself first of all to the political movements of his time. One of his earliest writings was directed against the feudal supremacy of the Popes over England. He supported the Parliament's complaints of Romish Provisions and exactions of money, with great learning and at great length. Had his activity confined itself to these subjects, he would be hardly more remembered than Marsilius of Padua?. What gave him quite a special significance was the fact that he brought into clear view the contradiction betwcen the ruling form of the Church and the original documents of the Faith. From the claim of the Popes to be Christ's representatives, he drew the conclusion that they ought also to observe the Gospel which comes from the God-Man, follow His example, and give up their worldly power48. The leading Church dogma, that most closely connected with the hierarchic system, the dogma of Transubstantiation, he attacked as being one which equally contradicted Scripture and Reason. He urges his proofs with the acuteness of a skillful Schoolman, but throughout he shows a deep inner religious feeling. We may distinguish in him two separate tendencies. His appeal to Scripture, his attempt to make it accessible to the people, his treatment of dogmatic and religious questions which he will allow to be decided only by Revalation,--all this makes him an evangelic man, one of the chief forerunners of the German Reformation. But, as he himself felt, his strength lay rather in destruction than in construction. In asserting the doctrine that the title to office depends for its validity on personal worth, that even the rule of temporal lords rests on the favour in which they stand with God, and in raising subjects to be the judges over their oppressive masters, he entered on a path like that which the Taborites[69] and the leaders of the peasants in Germany afterwards took49.

And these were precisely the doctrines for which his scholars, who traversed the land to make them known, found a well prepared soil in the people of England. How could the rise of popular elements fail to call forth a kindred effort also among the lower classes? The belief arose that Nature intended all men to be equal. The country people spoke of their primitive rights, traces of which were found in the memorials of the Conqueror's times, and which had then been taken from them. When now, instead of seeing these respected, they were subjected to new impositions, and this with harshness and insolence, they rose in open revolt. So overpowering was the attack which they directed against the capital and the King's palace, that Richard II found himself forced to grant them a charter which secured them personal freedom.[70] Had they contented themselves with this, they might have done best for themselves and perhaps for the crown, but when they demanded yet further and more extreme concessions, they roused against themselves the whole power of the organised State, for which they were as yet no match. The Mayor of London? himself struck down with his dagger the leader of the bands, Wat Tyler?, because he seemed to threaten the King; the Bishop of Norwich? was not hindered by his spiritual character from levelling his lance against the insurgents50; after which he accompanied the leaders, who were taken and condemned to death, to the scaffold, with words of comfort; in other places the lay nobles did their best. When therefore in the next Parliament the King brought forward the proposal to declare the serfs free by a united resolution,—for the previous charter that had been wrung from him was considered invalid,—both Lords and Commons rejected it, as tending to disinherit them and prove pernicious to the kingdom.

It is not to be supposed that a movement like this, which the lower class of citizens in the towns had joined, just as in the German peasant war, and which was mainly directed against the landed gentry, could be stifled by one defeat: it continued to ferment uninterruptedly in men's hearts.

Still less did the condemnation passed by Convocation on the deviations from the teaching of the Church effect their suppression. On the basis of Wiclif's doctrines grew up the sect of the Lollards?, which condemned the worship of images, pilgrimages, and other external church ceremonies, designated the union of judicial authority with spiritual office as unnatural—'hermaphiroditism'—rejected excommunication with abhorrence, and made secret and systematic war against the whole Church establishment.

But further besides these feuds there was one within the State system itself which now became most conspicuous.

In the midst of the general ferment how necessary had a strong and resolute hand become! But Richard's government had shown itself somewhat weak; by many it was suspected of having meant to turn the disturbances to its own advantage. The commons, who mainly represented the lower gentry and the upper citizens, abandoned him, and attached themselves to the nobles, just as these revived their old jealousy against the crown. For the almost inevitable result of success in suppressing a popular agitation is to heighten the self-confidence of an aristocracy[71]. Impatient at being excluded from all share in the government, and strengthened in his ambition by the military disasters of the last years, the youngest of Richard's uncles, Thomas of Gloucester?, put himself at the head of the grandees, whose plans the commons, instead of opposing, now on the contrary adopted as their own. The great questions arose, which have often since then convulsed the European world, as to the relation of a Parliamentary assembly to the Monarchy, and their respective rights.

The first demand of the English Parliament was that the ministers of State should be named by it, or at least should be responsible to it. Much as this demand itself implies, yet even more extensive views were behind. The Peers told the King plainly that if he would not rule according to the common law and with their advice, it was competent for them to depose him, with consent of the people, and to raise another of the royal house to the throne51; they threatened him openly with the fate of Edward II[72].

Richard could do nothing but submit. Eleven lords were appointed to restore order in the country; Richard had to swear to carry out all they should ordain (November 1386). There remained but one way, by which to oppose this open violence: the King collected the chief judges at Nottingham, and laid the question before them, whether the Commission now forced upon him did not contravene the royal power and his prerogative. The judges were far from so interpreting the Constitution of England as to allow that the King is unconditionally bound by the commands of Parliament. They affirmed under their hand and seal that the appointment of that Commission against the King's will contravened his legal prerogative; those by whom he had been forced to accept it, and who had revived the recollection of the statute against Edward II, they declared to be guilty of high treason. But Parliament itself saw in this sentence not a judgment but an intolerable outrage. At its next sitting it summoned the judges before its tribunal, and in its turn declared them to be themselves guilty of high treason. Chief Justice Tresilian? died a shameful death at Tyburn. The King lived to find yet harsher laws laid upon him: his uncle Gloucester was more powerful than he was himself.

He was not however disposed to bear this yoke for ever. He first freed himself from the war with France, which tied his hands; by his marriage with Charles VI's young daughter he sought to win that king over as an ally on his own side; at home too he gained himself friends; when all was prepared, he struck a sudden blow (July 1397), which no one would have expected from him. He removed his leading opponents (above all his uncle Gloucester, and Arundel Archbishop of Canterbury?), banished them or threw them into prison: then he succeeded in getting together a Parliament in which his partisans had the upper hand. It moreover completely adopted the ideas of the judges as to the Constitution; it revoked the statutes which had been forced on the King52, and gave effect to the sentence of Nottingham?. By making the King a very considerable grant for his lifetime, it freed him from the necessity of summoning it anew; he rose at once to a high pitch of self-confidence: he was believed to have said that the laws of England consisted in his word of mouth.

In England, just as in France at the same epoch, political opinions and parties ebbed and flowed in ceaseless antagonism. Richard's success was only momentary. He too, like so many of his ancestors, had incurred a grievous suspicion; the crime laid to his charge was that his uncle?, who died in prison, had been murdered there by his command. Besides his absolute rule was not free from arbitrary acts of many kinds; among the great nobles each trembled for his own safety; the clergy, never on good terms with Richard, were impatient at being deprived of their Primate?, who was to them 'the tower in the protecting bulwark of the Church.' In the capital too men were against a rule which seemed to put an end to popular influence; it needed only the return of an exile, the young Henry of Lancaster? (whom the King would not allow to take possession of his inheritance by deputy, and who in conformity with the feeling of the time broke his ban to do himself right); all men then deserted the King; the nobles could now think of carrying out the threat which they had once hurled against him.

Richard was compelled to call a Parliament, and at the moment it met to pronounce his own abdication. The Parliament was not contented with accepting this; it wished to put an end to all doubt for the future, and to establish its own right for ever.

A long list of articles was drawn up, from which it was concluded that the King had broken his coronation oath and forfeited his crown; the assembled Estates, when severally and conjointly consulted, held them sufficient to justify them in proceeding to the King's deposition. They named Proctors, two for the clergy, two for the high nobility—one for the earls and dukes, the other for the barons and bannerets, two for the knights and commons—one for the Northern, the other for the Southern counties. They sat as a court of justice before the vacant throne, with the Chief Justice? in their midst: then the first spiritual commissioner, the Bishop of S. Asaph?, rose, and in the place and name and under the authority of the Estates of the realm announced the sentence of deposition against the late King, and forbade all men to receive any further commands from him.

Some opposition was raised; it is said that the Bishop of Carlisle? very expressly denied the right of subjects to sit in judgment on their hereditary sovereign53; but how could this have had any effect against the Parliament's claim which had been formulated so long?

As the crown was now regarded as vacant, Henry of Lancaster? arose,—in the name of God, as he said, whilst he made the sign of the cross on his forehead and breast,—to claim it for himself, in virtue of his birth and the right which accrued to him through God and the help of his friends.

It was not properly speaking an election that now took place: the spiritual and lay lords, as well as the other members of the Parliament, were asked what their opinion of his claim was: the answer of all was that the Duke should be their King. When, conducted by the two archbishops, he ascended the vacant throne, he was greeted with the joyous acclaim of those assembled. The Archbishop of Canterbury? made a speech full of unction, the drift of which was, that henceforth it would not be a child, such as the late sovereign had been, selfwilled and void of understanding, but a Man that would rule over them, in the full maturity of his understanding, and resolved to do not so much his own will as the will of God54.

Thus did the spiritual and lay nobility, in and with the parliament, make good their claim to dispose of the crown. They went to work against Richard II with less reserve than Edward II. In the latter case the Queen had taken part in the movement; they had set the son in his father's stead. But this time they did not wait for the actual consummation of the King's marriage; they raised a prince to the throne who had openly opposed him in the field, and was not even the next in succession. For there were still the descendants of an elder brother left, who according to English usage had a prior right. The Parliament held itself competent to settle on its own authority even the succession to the crown. It enacted that it should belong to the King's eldest son, and after him to his male issue, and on their failure to his brothers and their issue. The proposal formally to exclude succession in the female line did not pass; but for a long while to come the actual practice had that effect[73].

Besides the motives involved in the extension of the Power of the Estates in and for itself there was yet another reason for such a proceeding. And this arose out of the growth, and increasing urgency, of the religious divisions. The Lollards? preached, and taught in schools, according to their views: in the Year 1396 in a petition to Parliament[74] they traced all the moral evils and defects of the world to the fact that the clergy were endowed with worldly goods, and showed the advantage which would arise from the application of these to the service of the state and the prosecution of war55. They seem to have flattered themselves that by this they would win over the lay lords, but they were completely mistaken. For these remarked on the contrary that their own property had no better legal foundation than that of the clergy56, and only attached themselves to the rights of the Church all the more zealously.

That which would have been impossible under Richard II's vacillating government, the first Lancaster now undertook: in full agreement with the Estates he a few days after his accession announced to Convocation that he purposed to destroy heretics and heresies to the best of his power57. In the next Parliament a statute was drawn up in which relapsed heretics were condemned to the flames. And still more remarkable than this mode of punishment, which was that of the Church-law, is the regulation of the procedure in this statute. In former times the sentence had been pronounced by the archbishop and the collective clergy of the province, and the King's consent had to be asked before it was executed. The decision was now committed to the bishop and his commissary, and the sheriff was instructed to inflict the punishment without further appeal, and to commit the guilty to the fire on the high grounds in the country, that terror might strike all the bystanders. It is clear how much the power of the bishops was thus extended. Soon after, on the proposal of the lay lords, at whose head the Prince of Wales? is named, a further statute passed, in which to spread the rumour that King Richard was yet alive, and to teach that the prelates ought to be deprived of their worldly goods, are treated as offences of equal magnitude and threatened with a similar punishment; the object being alike in both,—to raise a tumult. And in fact, when Henry V himself had ascended the throne, an outbreak did occur, in which these causes co-operated[75]. The Lollards were strengthened in their resistance to the government of the house of Lancaster by the rumour that their rightful King was yet alive. Henry V was to crush them in open battle, and then force them to remain quiet by a new statute, which enacted the confiscation of their goods as well58. His alliance and friendship with the Emperor Sigismund? was based on the fact, that he regarded the Hussites? as only the successors of the Lollards.

This orthodox tendency was now moreover combined with a strict Parliamentary government. Under the Lancasters there is no complaint as to illegal taxes; they allowed the moneys voted by the Parliament to be paid over to treasurers named by itself and accountable to it; that which earlier Kings had always rejected as an affront, the claim of Parliament to exercise a sort of supervision over the King's household, the Lancasters admitted; the royal officers were bound by oath to observe the statutes and the common law; the prerogative, hitherto exercised by the Kings, of softening the severity of the statutes by proclamations contravening their purpose was expressly abolished.

The Lancasters owed their rise to their alliance with the clergy and the Parliament: a fact which determined the character and manner of their government. The most manifold results might be expected, even beyond the borders of England, from their having by this very alliance won for themselves a great European position.

Nowhere was greater interest taken in Richard's fate than at the French court. Louis Duke of Orleans, whose voice was generally decisive there, once challenged the first Lancaster to a duel, and when he refused it pressed him hard with war. That Owen Glendower? could once more maintain himself as Prince in Wales was entirely due to his French auxiliaries. That we find Henry IV more secure of his throne in his later years than in his earlier is a phenomenon the explanation of which we seek in vain in English affairs alone: it results from the fact that his powerful foe, Louis of Orleans?, was murdered in the year 1407 at the instigation of John Duke of Burgundy?, and that then the quarrel of the two parties, which divided France, burst out with increased violence, and remained long undecided. From the French there was no longer anything to fear: they emulously sought the alliance of the highest power in England; there even arose circumstances under which the Lancasters could think of renewing the claims of Edward III[76], from whom they too were descended.

At the time that Henry V ascended the English throne, the Orleanists had again gained the preponderance in France: they unfurled the Oriflamme? against the Duke of Burgundy, who was now in fact hard pressed. Henry negociated with them both. But while the Orleanists made difficulties about granting him the independent possession of the old English provinces, Burgundy declared himself ready to acknowledge him as King59. The common interests moreover of home politics allied him with this house.

Henry could reckon on the sympathies of a part of the population of France, when he led the power of England across the sea. A successful battle in which he destroyed the flower of the French nobility[77] gave him an undoubted superiority. The vengeance which the Orleanists wreaked even under these circumstances on the Duke of Burgundy, who was now murdered in his turn, brought the Burgundian party over completely to his side, together with the greater part of the nation. Things went so far that Charles VI? of France decided to marry his daughter? to the victorious Lancaster and to acknowledge him, as his heir after his death, as his representative during his life.

It was a very extraordinary position which Henry V now occupied. The two great kingdoms, each of which by itself has earlier or later claimed to sway the world, were (without being fused into one) to remain united for ever under him and his successors. Philip the Good of Burgundy? was bound to him by ties of blood and by hostility to a common foe: as heir of France Henry sat in the Parliament by which the murderers of the last duke, who were also the chief opponents of the new state of things, were prosecuted. Another promising connexion was opened to him by the marriage of the youngest of his brothers[78] with Jaqueline of Holland and Hainault, who possessed still more extensive hereditary claims. Henry recommended the eldest to Queen Johanna of Naples to be adopted as her son and heir. The King of Castile and the heir of Portugal were descended from his father's sisters. The pedigrees of Southern and Western Europe alike met in the house of Lancaster, the head of which thus seemed to be the common head of all.

In England Henry did not neglect to guard the rights of the National Church; but at the same time no one exerted himself more energetically to close the schism: the solemn condemnation of Wiclif's doctrines by the General Council of Constance[79] served to vouch for his attitude in religious matters: the English Church obtained in it a place among the great National Churches.

Henry V found himself in the advantageous position of a potentate raised to power by a usurpation for which he was not however personally responsible. He could spare and reinstate Richard II's memory, as much as in him lay, though he owed the crown to his overthrow. That he furthered and advanced also in France the municipal and parliamentary interests, which were his mainstay in England, procured him the obedience which was there paid him, and a European influence. In his moral character Henry ranks above most of the Plantagenets. He had no favourites and let no unjust acts be imputed to him. He was stern towards the great and careful for the common people; at his first word men could tell what they had to expect from him. The French were frightened at the keenness of his expression, but they reverenced his high spirit, his bravery and truthfulness. 'He transacts all his affairs himself; he considers them well before he undertakes them; he never does anything fruitlessly. He is free from excesses, and truthful: he never makes himself too familiar. On his face are visible dignity and supreme power.'60 He possessed in full measure the bold impulses of his ancestors, their attention to the general affairs of Western Christendom. In the war with the Lollards he was once wounded; that he recovered from his wound was designated as the work of divine Providence, which had destined him to be the conqueror of the Holy Land. He informed himself about its state as it was then constituted under the Mameluke? rule: a Chronicle of Jerusalem and a History of Godfrey of Bouillon? were two of the books he loved most to read. And without doubt such an undertaking would have been the true means, if any such means were possible, of uniting more closely, by common undertakings successes and interests, the realms already bound together under one sceptre. The Ottomans[80] had not yet extended themselves in the East with their full force: something might yet have been effected there; for the King of France and England, who was yet young in years, a great future seemed to be at hand.

Sometimes it seems as though fortune were specially making a mock of man's frailty. In this fulness of power and of expectations, Henry V was attacked by a disease[81] which men did not yet know how to cure and to which he succumbed. His heir was a boy, nine months old.

Of the two surviving brothers of the deceased King, the younger [Gloucester] ruled England under the already established predominance of the Estates of the Realm, while the elder [Bedford] governed France with an increased participation on the part of the Estates: their efforts could only be directed towards preserving these kingdoms for their nephew Henry VI. We might almost wonder that this succeeded so well for a time: in the long run it was impossible. The feeling of French nationality, which had already met the victor himself with secret warnings, found its most wonderful expression in the Maid? who revived in the French their old attachment to their native King and his divine right; the English, when she fell into their hands, with ungenerous hate inflicted on her the punishment of the Lollards: but the Valois King? had already gained a firm footing. It was Charles VII who understood how to appease the enmity of Burgundy, and in unison with the great men of his kingdom to give his power a peculiar organisation corresponding to its character, so that he was able to oppose to the English troops better armed than their own, and make the restoration of a firm peace even desirable for them. But this reacted on England in two ways. The government, which was inclined for peace, fell into as bitter a quarrel as any that had hitherto taken place with the national bodies politic, which either did not recognise this necessity, or attributed the disasters incurred to bad management. The man most trusted by the King? fell a victim to the public hate. But, besides this, there arose—awakened by these events and in a certain analogy with what happened in France—the recollection of the rights which had been set aside by the accession of the house of Lancaster. Their representative, Richard Duke of York?, had hitherto kept quiet; for he was fully convinced that a right cannot perish merely because it lies dormant. Cautiously and step by step, while letting others run the first risk, he at last came forward openly with his claim to the crown. Great was the astonishment of Henry VI, who as far as his memory reached had been regarded as King, to find his right to the highest dignity doubted and denied. But such was now the case. The nation was split into two parties, one of which held fast to the monarchy established by the Parliament, while the other wished to recur to the principle of legitimate succession then violated. Not that political conviction was the leading motive for their quarrel. First of all we find that the opponents of the government—though themselves of Parliamentary views—rallied round the banners of the hitherto forgotten right of birth. Every man fought, less for the prince whose device he bore, the red or the white rose, than for his own share in the enjoyment of political power. On both sides there arose chiefs of almost independent power, who clad their partisans in their own colours, at whose call those partisans were ready any moment to take arms: they appointed the sheriffs in the counties and were lords of the land. But when blood had once been shed, no reconciliation of the parties was possible. Ha, cried the victor to the man who begged for mercy, thy father slew mine, thou must die by my hand. In vain did men turn to the judges: for the statutes contradicted each other, and they could no longer decide where the right lay. From the Parliaments no solution of these questions could be expected; each served the victorious party, whose summons it obeyed, and condemned its opponent. As the resources on each side were tolerably equal, even the battles were not decisive: the result depended less upon real superiority than on accidental desertions or accessions, and most largely on foreign help. After the English had failed, during the antagonism of Valois and Burgundy, in establishing their supremacy on the Continent, the quarrel—quieted for a moment—which broke out again between Louis XI? and Charles the Bold? in the most violent manner, reacted on them with all the more vehemence. King Louis would not endure that a good understanding should exist between Edward IV? and Duke Charles, to whom Edward had married his sister?: he drew the man who had hitherto done the most for the Yorkist interests, the Earl of Warwick?, over to his own side; and scarcely had the latter appeared in England when Edward IV was forced to fly and Henry VI was reinstated. Louis had prepared church-thanksgivings to God for having given the English a king of the blood of France and a friend to that country. But meanwhile Edward was helped by Charles the Bold, to whom he had fled, though not openly in arms, yet with ships which he hired for him, with considerable sums of money, and even with troops which he allowed to join him61. To these, his Flemish and Easterling troops, it was chiefly attributed that Edward gained the upper hand in the field and recovered his throne. But what a state of things was this! The glorious crown of the Plantagenets, who a little while before strove for the supremacy of the world, was now—stained with blood and powerless as it was—tossed to and fro between the rival parties.

1   The words of some MSS. in Caesar's Commentaries, iv. 25, 'deserile, milites, si vultis, aquilam, atque hostibus prodite,' might well be taken for the genuine words, originally noted down in his Ephemerides (journal).

2   Brettanian mentoi oi Romaoi anasosasthai oiketi eschon, all oysa ipi tyrannois ap auton smene. Procop. de bello Vand. I. No. 2. p. 318 ed. Bonn. Compare Zosimus, vi. 4. on, we may assume, the better authority of Olympiodorus.

2a   Beda, Hist. Eccl. ii. 2. Some have wished to consider the remark, that Augestine had been then long dead, as a later interpretation, 'ad tollendam labem caed Bangorensis;' this, however, is against the spirit of that age.

3   The simplest form of the Saga occurs in Gildas, with very few historical ingredients. Nennius enlarges it with Anglo-Saxon traditions. Beda has combined both with some notices from the real history. Since the departure of the Romans was rightly fixed about 409, and Gildas said the Britons had rest for forty years, Beda settled that the Saxons arrived in 449.

4   Omnem orbem, quocunque ecclesia Christi diffusa est per diversas nationes et lingaus uno temporis ordine.' Beda, Hist Eccl. iii. 14.

4a   Se in omnibus eorum voluntati consensurum, consiliis acquieturum.

5   'Florentius Wigorniensis: 'Post cujus (Aethelredi) mortem episcopi abbates duces et quique nobiliores Angliae, in unum congregati pari consensu in dominum et regem Canutum sibi elegere—ille juravit, quod et secundum deum et secundum Seculum fidelis eis esse vellet dominus.' The oath which Ethelred had taken was only 'secundum deum.'

6   {Florentius, 593: 'Accepto pignore de manu sua nuda cum juramentis a principibus Danorum, fratres et filios Eadmundi omnino despexerunt eosque esse Reges negaverunt.'

7   In Ingulphus (Savile Scriptt 511) it is said expressly: per Archiepiscopum Eboracae, Aedredum (Aldredum). But it is surprising that the Bayeux Tapestry names Stigand (Lancelot: Description de Tapisserie de Bayeux, in Thierry, 1). Yet Harold could not possibly have meant, by passing over the Archbishop of Canterbury, to declare him to be incompetent, since he had been appointed by his party.

8   Juramentum fidelltatis Roberti Guiscardi: 1059 in Baronius, Annales Eccles. ix. 350

9   The simplest statement occurs in the Carmen de bello Hastingensi, p. 352, according to which Edward promised the succession, and sent ring and sword to the duke by Harold; but as early as in William of Jumièges we have the tale of Harold's captivity in Ponthieu, and the promise made him, and the chief outlines of what in Guilielmus Pictaviensis, and Ordericus Vitalis, lies before us with further embelishments, and to which the Bayeux Tapestry (itself, too, a kind of historical memorial of the time) adds some further traits.

10  Gullielmus Pictaviensis, Gesta Wilhelmi ducis, in Duchesne 189 already relates this in reference to the English affair.

11   Gregorii Registrum, vii. 23; Mansi, xx. 306.

12   William of Jumièges, Hist. vii 34. 'Ingentem exercitum ex Normannis et Flandrensibus ac Francis ac Britonibus aggregavit.'

13   Guilielmus Pictaviensis 197 assures us that help was promised from Germany in the name of Henry IV.

14   William of Malmesbury, Gesta Regum, iii. 5 245. 'Magis temeritate et furore praecipitati quam scientia militari Wilhelmo congressi.'

15   'Contulit Eguardus quod rex donum sibi regni Monstrat et adfirmat vosque probasse refert.' So Guido (Carmen de bello Hastingensi, 737) makes Ansgard on his return speak to the citizens.

16   Ordericus Vitalis 503. In Guido the ceremony is described with the greatest calmness, as though it passed undisturbed; but the conclusion of his work seems wanting.

17   Dialogus de Scaccario, i. 10. 'Minor singularis excellentiae principem, in subactam et sibi suspectam Anglorum gentem hac usum misericordia, ut non solum colonos indempnes scivaret, verum ipsis regni majoribus feudos suos et amplas possessiones relinqueret.' In Madox, History of the Exchequer, ii. 391. In Domesday Book the memory of Edward the Confessor is always treated with the greatest respect. Ellis, Introduction to Domesday Book, i. 303.

18   'Ut illius terrae populus te sicut dominum vencietur.' Breve of Hadrian IV.

19   Cantones Concilii Tutonensis, Article III, 'ut laici ecclesiastica non usurpent,' and Article I of those previously omited in Mansi, XXI. 1178 seq.

20   Concilium Clarendoniae, 8 Cal. Febr. MCLXIV, Article VIII, de appellationibus. Si archiepiscopus defucrit in justitia exhibenda, ad dominum regem Pervelliendum est postremo; ita quod non debeat ultra procedi absque assensu domini regis.' Wilkins, i. 43.5.

21   Roger de Hoveden Annales ed. Savile, 293. G. 'Prohibeo vobis, ex parte omnipotentes del et sub anathemate ne faciatus hodie de me judicium, quia appellavi ad praesentiam domini papae.' None, however, of the accounts we have can be looked on as quite accurate.

22   'Episcopi comites et barones regni—juraverunt quod ipsi eam communialll et dignitatem civitatis Londinensis custodirent.'

23   Hoveden, p. 450, 'quod redderet unicuique illorum ius suum, si ipsi illi fidem servaverint et pacem.'

24   'Quod ipsi audacter pro libertate ecclesiae ad mandatum suum se opposuerint,—honores quos ei (Papae) et romanae ecclesiae exhibuistis, id per eos coactus fecistis.'—Mauclerc, literae ad regem, in Rymer, Foedera, I.

25   Mauclerc, literae de negotio Baronum, in Rymer, Foedera, I. 185: ' Magnates Angliae—instanter domino Papae supplicant, quod cum lpse sit dominus Angliae vos—compellat, antiquas libertates suas—eas illaesas conservate.

26   Literae Johannis regis, quibus quae sit baronum contumacla narrat. Apud Odiham, 29 die Maii.

27   In Matthew Paris 'Quod non pertinet ad papam ordinatior rerum laicarum.'

28   Articuli magnae cartae liberatum, P.49. Magna carta regis Johnnnis in Blackstone, the Great Charter 9, 23.

29   Matthew Paris. 'Nobiles universi et castellani ei multo facilius adhaeserunt, quia propria patris iniquitas filio non debuit imputari.'

30   Forma pacis inter Henricum et Ludovicum, in Rymer, I 221. ' Coadiutores sui habeant terras suas—et rectas consueludines et libertates regni Angliae.'

31   Matthew Paris, Historia major ann. 1253, p. 730.

32   In Henr. Knyghton, 2445. According to Matthew Paris they swore not to let themselves be held back by anything—'quin regnum, in quo sunt nati homilies geniales et eorum progenitores, ab ingenerosis et alienigenis emundarent.'

33   Letter of Clement IV to Louis IX, in Rainaldus, 1265, p. 167, 'Quid putas—per talia machinamenta quaeri? Nisi ut de regno illo regium nomen aboleatur omnino: nisi ut Christianus populus a devotione matris ecclesiae et observantia fidei orthodoxae avertatur.'

34   Convocatis discretioribus regni tam ex majoribus quam minoribus.' Statute of Marleberge, 1267.

35   'Nostrae voluntatis fuit ut de bonis terrae ipsa tella conservaretur.' In Knyghton, ii. 2501.

36   Statutum de tallagio non concederdo, or Nova additio cartarum; in Henlingburgh, articuli inserti in magna charta.

37   "Carta confirmationis regis Edwardi I," in the collection of charters prefixed to the collection of the Statutes in the 'Statutes of the Realm,' p. 37.

38   'Avuns graunte—as Arceevesques etc. e as Countes—e a toute la cornmunauté de la terre que mes pur nule busoigne tieu manere des aydes mises ne prises de nre Roiaume ne prendrums fors ke par commun assent cle tout de Roiaume e a commun profist de meismes de Roiaume, sauve les auncienes aydes e prises due e acoustumees.' The Articulus insertus in Magna Charta, according to the other statements, runs, 'nullum Tallagium vel auxilium imponatur seu levetur sine voluntate atque assensu communi Archiepiscoporum Epiacoporum et aliorum liberorem hominum in regno nostro.'

39   Henlingburgh: Es quod confirmaverat eas in terra aliena.

40   Matthew of Westminster, 433. 'Procrastinatis quampluribus diebus denium videus rex quod non desisterent ab inceptis nec adquiesceient sibi in necessitatibus, respondit se esse paratum concedere et ratificare petita.'

41   At Lincoln 21 Feb 1301. III Kynler, Rainaldus, Spondarius.

42   Report 183; Italiam, Additional Note, 332.

43   Revocatio novarum ordinationum 1323, 29 May, Statutes of the Realm I. 189, 'Les choses, qui serount à establlr—soient tretées accordees et establies en parlaments par notre Si le Roi et par lassent des Prelats Countes et Barouns et la Communalte de o roialme.'

44   Speech of W. Shareshall, 1351, Parliamentary History (1762) I 295.

45   We know the letter of the Duke of Guelders, in which he praised equally 'lanae commoda—divitias in comparatione ad alios reges centuplas,' and the 'probitas militatis, arcuum asperitas,' in Twysden II 1739.

45a   Report 234.

46   Est en volunté de fane proces devers le roy et son roialme pur le dit service et cens recoverii.

47   'Qu'ils resistoront et contre esteront ove tout leur puissance ' Edw Coke first published the document, Institutes iv. 13. In Urban V's letter to Edward. In Rainaldus 1365, 13, the demand is not so clearly expressed, but mention is made in it of the Nuntio's overtures; it is to these that the resolution of the Parliament referred.

48   'I take it as a holesome counsell, that the Pope leeve his worldly lordship to the worldy lords as Christ gafe him and move all his clerks to do so.' Wickliffe. Beleve, in Collier I, Rec. 47.

49   'Quod nullus est dominus civilis, nullus est episcopus, nullus est prelatus, dum est in mortali peccato—quod domini temporales possunt auferre bona temporalia ab ecclesia habitualiter delinquente vel quod populares possunt ad eorum arbitrium dominos delinquentes corrigere.'

50   Walsingham: ' Antistes belliger velut aper frendens dentibus.'

51   Si rex ex maligno consilio-se alienaverit a populo suo nec voluent per jura regni et statuta et laudabiles ordinationes cum salubri consilio dominorum et procurum regni gubernate et regulari—extunc licitum est eis dum communi assensu et consensu populi regem ipsum de regali solio abrogare et proqunquiorem aliquem de stirpe regia loco eius sublimare.' In Knyghton ii. 2683.

52   'Comme chose fait traitoirousement et encontre sa regalie, sa coronne et sa dignitée roy de lassent de touts les et sis et coes ad ordeine et esabli que null tiel Commission ne autre sembleable jammes ne soit purchacez pursue ne faite en temps advenir.' Statutes of the Realm II 98.

53   Hayward, Life of King Henry IV, gives a detailed copy of this speech, which however cany possess no more claim to authenticity than the words that Shakespeare puts into the Bishop's mouth.

54   ' Le record et procès de la renonciation du roi Richard avec la deposition. Twysden, ii 2473.

55   Conclusiones Lollardorum porrectae pleno parliamento. Wilkins iii. 222. Frum the document in 229 we see that these doctrines had penetrated into Oxford.

56   The temporal possessions with which the prelates are as rightly endowed as it has been or might he best advised by the laws and customs of our kingdom; and which they are as surely possessed as the lords temporal are of their inheritances

57   Convocatio 6 die Oct 1389 . . . modus procedendi contra haereticos. Wilkins iii. 238, 254

58   He imputes to them, 'l'entent de adnuller la foie chretienne auxi a destiuei le roi mesme et tous maners estates dicell royaume et auxi toute politie et les leies de la terre.'

59   Treaty of 23rd May 1414. Certainly Duke John in September 1414 concluded the treaty of Arras which is based on the assumption of his having no understanding with England; but he never ratified it.

60   'De diligence portoit le gonphanon de ses besoignes.' Chastellain, Chronique du duc Philippe, ch. 93.

61   Chastellain, Chronique des derniers ducs de Bourgogne, ch 191. 'Le duc cognossoit bien, que ceste mutacion en Angleterre étoit pratiquée pour le desfaire et non pour autre fin.'