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trious barons were exterminated, or reduced to a shadow of their former greatness, the rival claims of the warring lines were united in the House of Tudor.
While the administration swerved continually into an irregular course, the restraint of Parliament grew more effectual, and notions of legal right acquired more precision, till the time of Henry VI, when the progress of constitutional liberty was arrested by the Wars of the Roses. To the restriction of suffrage succeeded the corruption of elections. The baronage wrecked, the Crown towered into solitary greatness, and by its overpowering influence practically usurped the legislative functions of the two Houses. The interests of self-preservation led the churchman, the squire, and the burgess to lay freedom at the foot of the throne. Without a standing army, however, it is impossible to oppress, beyond a certain point, an armed people. Governors could safely be tyrants within the precinct of the court, but any general and long-continued despotism was prevented by the awe in which they stood of the temper and strength of the governed. From the accession of Henry VII is to be dated a new era, which, if less distinguished by the spirit of freedom, is more prosperous in the diffusion of opulence and the preservation of order.
Society.-Brutal as was the strife of the Roses, its effects were limited, in fact, to the great lords and their feudal retainers. The trading and industrial classes appear, for the most part, to have stood wholly aloof. It was of this period that Comines, an accomplished observer of his age, wrote:
In my opinion, of all the countries in Europe where I was ever acquainted, the government is nowhere so well managed, the people nowhere less obnoxious to violence and oppression, nor their houses less liable to the desolations of war, than in England, for there the calamities fall only upon their authors.' Elsewhere:
• England has this peculiar grace, that neither the conntry, nor the people, nor the honses are wasted, destroyed, or demolished; but the calamities and misfortunes of the war fall only upon the soldiers, and especially the nobility.'? Orders were frequently issued, previous to a battle, to slay the
1 The complaint of the men of Kent in Cade's revolt, 1450, alleges: The people of the shire are not allowed to have their free election in the choosing of knights for the shire, but letters have been sent from divers estates to the great rulers of all the coun. try, the which enforceth their tenants and other people by force to choose other persons than the common will is.'
? The actual warfare in England from 1455 to 1485 included an aggregate space of about two years.
SOCIAL STATE - INDUSTRIES
nobles and spare the commoners. The civil war was the deathstruggle of feudalism. The consequent depression of the aristocracy was the elevation of the people. The words rent and wages, in familiar use, indicate the relations of class to class. The rude fidelity of vassalage was exchanged for the hard bargaining of tenancy.
There were no factories. Every manufacture - cloth-making the most important — was carried on, in its several branches, at the homes of the workmen. The natural resources of the country were very imperfectly operated. A Venetian traveller, speaking of the general aspect of the country in the time of Henry VII, says:
*England is all diversified by pleasant undulating hills and beautiful valleys, nothing being to be seen bat agreeable woods, or extensive meadows, or lands in cultivation,' But he adds:
* Agriculture is not practised in this island beyond what is required for the consumption of the people; because, were they to plough and sow all the land that was capable of cultivation, they might sell a quantity of grain to the surrounding countries.' Capital seems to have been more advantageously applied to the growth of sheep. By a statute of 1495, every laborer from mid March to mid September is to be at his work before five o'clock in the morning, nor leave it till between seven and eight in the evening, with a half hour for breakfast and an hour for dinner. Modern labor would not appear, in comparison, to be overtasked.
It was still a military community, with an excess of vigor and readiness to fight. The iron helmet hung upon the wall of the castle; and the long bows were at hand for the deadly flight of the arrow, or the practice of archery on Sundays and festival days. Parliaments, early in the century, were like armed camps. That of 1426 was called the 'Club Parliament,' from the circumstance that, when arms were prohibited, the retainers of the barons appeared with clubs on their shoulders. When clubs were forbidden, stones and balls of lead were concealed in the clothing. Later there is the story of a street-scuffle between two noblemen, in which several retainers were killed. A statute of restraint was enacted against Oxford scholars who hunted with dogs in parks and forests, threatened the lives of keepers, and liberated clerks convicted of felony. The harvest of highway robbery was abundant. 'If God,' said a French general, 'had
been a captain now-a-days, he would have turned marauder.' Says Fortescue, Chancellor under Henry VI:
'It is cowardise and lack of hartes and corage that kepeth the Frenchmen from rysyng, and not povertye; which corage no Frenche man hath like to the English man. It hath been often seen in England that iij or iv thefes, for povertie, hath sett upon vij or viij true men, and robbyd them al. But it hath not ben seen in Fraunce, that vij or viij thefes have ben hardy to robbe ijj or iv true men. Wherefor it is right seld that Frenchmen be hangyd for robberye, for that they have no hertys to do so terryble an acte. There be therfor mo men hangid in Englond, in a yere, for robberye and manslaughter, than ther be hangid in Fraunce for such cause of crime in vij yers.'
It was natural that the discharged retainer of a decayed house should rather incline to take a purse than wield a spade. Ballad story relates how King Edward IV on a hunt meets a bold tanner, and inquires the “readyest waye to Drayton Basset,
• To Drayton Basset woldst thou goe,
Violence and cruelty went hand in hand. In the reign of Henry IV, it was made felony to cut out any person's tongue, or put out his eyes,-crimes which, the act says, were very frequent. The Earl of Rutland carrying on a pole the severed head of his brother-in-law, presented it to this monarch in testimony of his loyalty. Two princes were smothered in the tower. Men were beheaded without appeal to law or justice. The gory head of a Lollard was welcomed into London, with psalms of thanksgiving, by a procession of abbots and bishops, who went out to meet it. The head of a Royalist, crowned in mockery with a diadem of paper, was impaled on the walls of York,
Now that the battle-axe and sword had destroyed the petty royalty of the feudal baron, the lords quitted their sombre castles - strong fortresses, but dreary abodes-and flocked into others uniting convenience and beauty with some power of defence. Vaulted roofs and turrets, the decorated gable and the spacious window, superseded in most instances the protecting parapet and the frowning embrasure. The distinguishing feature of the domestic arrangement was still the great hall with its central fire. In towns the upper stories projected over the lower, so that in narrow streets the opposite fronts were only a few feet apart. A Paston letter gives a curious insight into the construction of the ordinary manor-house:
• Patrick and his fellowship are sore afraid that ye would enter again upon them; and they have made great ordinance within the house; and it is told me they have made bars to bar the doors crosswise; and they have made wickets in every quarter of the house to shoot out at, both with bows and with hand-guns; and the holes that be made for hand-guns they be scarce knee-high from the plancher (floor); and of such holes be made five; there can no man shoot out at them with no band-bows.' Sleeping apartments were small. Mrs. Paston is puzzled to know how she can put her husband's writing-board and his coffer beside the bed, so that he may have space to sit. Beds were rarely used except by the most wealthy. It is poetry and history combined that presents the affecting spectacle of a care-worn and sieepless king asking,
•Why, rather, Sleep, liest thou in smoky cribs,
Aud lulld with sounds of sweetest melody?'? Common utensils were transmitted in wills from generation to generation,- tongs, bellows, pans, pewter dishes, 'a great earthen pot that was my mother's.'
From the scarcity of books, reading could be no common acquirement. From the dearness of parchment and the slowness of scribes, manuscripts were things purchasable only by princely munificence. News travelled slowly, borne for the most part, by traders and pilgrims. The result of the great battle of Towton was six days in reaching London. Posts - horsemen placed twenty miles apart — were now first used on the road from London to Scotland. No modern net-work of wires and rails broke the narrow circle of local influence in which men usually abode from childhood to age.
Amid monotonous cares and the endless inconvenience of climate, while kings are dethroned and princes assassinated, the spirit of enjoyment abides, reflected in the perilous combats of the lists, the masks and disguisings of the palace, the antique pageantry of Christmas, the merriments of Easter and May-day. Wrestlers contended before the mayor and aldermen, as their fathers had done; and the archers went out, as of old, into Finsbury Fields. Vaulters came tumbling about, jugglers bewitched the eye, and the ambulatory minstrel with his harp borne before him by his smiling page, who--
1 Shakespeare's Henry IV.
*Walken fer and wyde,
In many a diverse londe.' From the days of Henry III, the burning crests of the marching watch' had sent up their triumphant fires. The twilight hours of June and July witnessed the simple hospitalities of primitive London:
On the vigils of festival days, and on the same festival days after the sun setting, there were usually made bonfires in the streets, every man bestowing wood and labor toward them; the wealthier sort also, before their doors near to the said bonfire, would set out tables on the vigils, furnished with sweet bread and good drink, and on the festival days with meats and drinks plentifully, whereunto they would invite their neighbors and passengers also to sit and be merry with them in great familiarity, praising God for the benefits bestowed on them. Most beautiful of all — in its original simplicity so associated with the love of nature. was the custom of rising at dawn in the month of May,' and going forth, rich and poor, with one impulse, to the woods for boughs of hawthorn and laurel to deck the doorways of the street, as a joyful welcoming, amid feasting and dancing, of the sweet spring-time. Spontaneous and unconscious acknowledgment of the beauty of the Universe, as by men reared in the pathless forests, knowing Nature as a household friend that has entwined itself with their first affections; a thing of the nerves and animal spirits, yet impossible, alas ! to our present analytic and jaded civilization. We, all utilitarian and prosaic, mourn in vain the loss of that direct and unreflecting pleasure which the untutored imagination felt in habitual converse with earth and sky, talking to the wayside flowers of its love, and to the fading clouds of its ambition; or that earlier freshness of eye, which, in the first pencillings of dawn that struck some lonely peak or fell into some sequestéred dell, saw the Fairies retiring from their moonlight dances into the green knolls where they made their homes.
Religion.— It may be doubtful whether the belief in fairies had passed away. At least they lurked in the by-corners of our poets, and existed elsewhere under a new character, degraded by the church into imps of darkness, to inspire no doubt a horror of relapse into heathenish rites. Superstition was wide and dense, and riveted with theology. Christianity in its struggle with the barbarian world had been profoundly modified. The tendency to
1 The men of the watch were the voluntary police of the city.