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England under the Tudors By Arthur D. Innes Characters: 38194

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:05


EDWARD VI (i), 1547-49-THE PROTECTOR SOMERSET

[Sidenote: 1547 Jan.-Feb. The New Government]

In accordance with the extraordinary powers granted to him, Henry VIII. laid down in his will both the order of succession to the throne and the method of government to be followed during his son's minority. Under this instrument he nominated sixteen "executors," forming virtually a Council of Regency, giving precedence to none. Superficially, the list represented both the progressive and the reactionary parties. Cranmer was balanced by Tunstal of Durham; Wriothesly the Lord Chancellor was a strong Catholic. But as a matter of fact, the influential men belonged for the most part to the advanced section. Edward Seymour, Lord Hertford, was their leader: but Paget, Dudley (Lord Lisle), Russell, and Herbert, were all of the same way of thinking. None of the rest were of the same weight as these; while Norfolk, the natural head of the conservative nobility was a prisoner in the Tower, and Gardiner, the ablest of the ecclesiastics, was omitted from the list.

Henry died in the early morning on January 28th; the fact was not made public till the 31st; and in the meantime, Hertford had carried the Council, which forthwith nominated him Lord Protector. The next step was a distribution of honours: Hertford was made Duke of Somerset; his brother, the Lord Admiral, (not an executor), Lord Seymour of Sudeley; Dudley became Earl of Warwick, Wriothesly Earl of Southampton, and Parr, brother of the late King's widow, Earl of Northampton. A couple of months later, that lady-who had succeeded in surviving two husbands including Henry-herself wedded Seymour of Sudeley,

Southampton was the one man whose opposition on the Council was to be feared; and he gave himself into his enemies' hands by an act of indiscretion. He issued a commission appointing four judges to act in the Court of Chancery, under the Great Seal, on his own responsibility: and was promptly declared to have forfeited his office which was bestowed upon Rich. This was immediately followed by the granting of new powers to the Protector, enabling him to act virtually without consulting the Executors: while he was already guardian of the King's person. In effect, Somerset meant himself, as representing Edward, to exercise all those powers which had been surrendered to the formidable Henry. In the meantime, the trend of the ecclesiastical policy to be anticipated was shown by the treatment of the bishops; who-with the approval of Cranmer-were required to receive their commissions anew from the new King as though they had been Civil servants. Cranmer, in the Coronation sermon, made pointed references to Josiah, which could only be regarded as precursors of a war against "images," and the more advanced among the clergy began to express themselves with a freedom which would have been very promptly and unpleasantly dealt with by the late King. Ecclesiastical conventions received a startling shock when it was made known that the Primate himself was openly eating meat in Lent.

To carry the Reformation beyond the stage at which it had been left by Henry in a tolerably peaceful manner was a sufficient task in itself; but the situation which the new Government found that it had to face, by the time Somerset had secured his position, towards the end of March, was complicated by many additional problems-not least among these being the lack of funds.

[Sidenote: Relations with France]

The recent peace with France had given the English Boulogne for eight years as security for the payment of a substantial annual sum. But while this might be looked upon as a valuable diplomatic asset-a means to graceful concession in return for adequate benefits-it remained an incitement to French hostility; the more so when Francis I. followed his great contemporary to the grave after less than two months, and was succeeded by Henry II.; with whom the retention of Boulogne was a particularly sore point, as he had failed in an attempt to recapture it. If England found herself in difficulties it was tolerably certain that France would try to recover Boulogne without waiting the eight years for its restitution.

[Sidenote: with Scotland]

France was not unlikely to find her opportunity in Scotland. There the group who had murdered Cardinal Beton in the previous summer retained the castle of St. Andrews in defiance of the weak government, at whose head were the regent Arran and the queen-mother Mary of Guise, whose family was now the most influential in France. The one means by which an English party could be maintained in Scotland was the giving active support to the "Castilians" as the St. Andrews faction was called; whereas French interference on behalf of the Government would immensely strengthen the anti-English party.

[Sidenote: with Charles V.]

The German situation was more complicated. The Emperor, supported by Maurice of Saxony, was at war with the Lutheran League. As yet the issue of that contest was doubtful; the League had at least a chance of success, but had appealed to England for aid. Charles on the other hand, not wishing for war with England, had declined the Pope's suggestion that he should enforce the substitution of Mary for Edward on the English throne: the Pope was annoyed, because the Schmalkaldic war was being fought on a political and not a theological issue; and he was alienating Charles by withdrawing the Council of Trent from that city, which was within Imperial territory, to Bologna where Italian influences would be predominant. If then England intervened on behalf of the League, she would reconcile the Pope and the Emperor, and possibly unite them with France against herself. If she stood aside, she would lose the chance of creating a powerful Protestant League, while experience had shown that any gratitude Charles might feel would count for less than nothing in determining his future policy. The Government hesitated; and while they temporised, the Emperor by a sudden blow became master of the situation. At the end of April, crossing a river by night, he fell upon the unexpectant army of the League at Mühlberg, crushed it, and secured its chiefs. The League of Schmalkald was irrevocably shattered. No effective counterpoise to his power was apparent within the Empire. Now however the task before Charles was to organise the supremacy which had at last become convincingly actual. This, and his quarrel with the Pope over Trent and Bologna, was likely to keep his hands full for some time. Thus the important thing for the Protector was more emphatically than before to conciliate France and gain over a strong party in Scotland to support the policy of friendly relations with England; whereof the chief corner stone was still the marriage of Edward who was about ten years old to the four-year-old Queen of Scots.

[Sidenote: Somerset's Scottish policy]

But Somerset did not conciliate France, which had recently been further irritated by the construction of so-called harbour works at Boulogne which were evidently intended to be fortified, contrary to the treaty; while in Scotland he was meditating a step which could only drive that country into the arms of France.

Somerset in fact was one of those visionaries who are the despair of more clear-sighted persons who are in sympathy with their objects. He suffered from a permanent incapacity for realising the immense difficulties in his way, and the infinite tact necessary to the accomplishment of his aims. Hence the methods he adopted were invariably calculated to bring into full play every conceivable force that could act in opposition. Sincerely anxious to alleviate the lot of the rural population, he went out of his way to irritate the landlord class into more effective combination. Almost alone in a desire for the widest religious toleration, the moderation of his ecclesiastical laws was discounted by the licence of speech and action allowed to the progressives. In like manner, his theory of Scottish policy was admirable, his practice absurd. The Union of England and Scotland was his ideal, as it was to be the ideal in later years of that most acute of Scottish politicians, Lethington. But he could not appreciate the absolute necessity that the Union should be by consent; and even while endeavouring to procure it by consent, for which he appealed in noble language whereof the sincerity is apparent, he adopted methods which aroused the hostility even of those Scots who were most favourably disposed to Union in the abstract. By making common cause with the Reformers, he might have check-mated France; yet he neglected his opportunity. His own solution of the problem was the marriage of Edward and Mary, which he might have brought about by diplomatic persuasion, or by carrying the Reformers with him. Yet he could see nothing for it but to dictate his terms at the sword's point, the one quite certain way of making sure that they would be rejected, by setting even the Reformers against him. To make matters worse, it was in his mind to re-assert the English sovereignty; to which Henry had indeed audaciously affirmed his claim, though only as a right held in reserve. This intention he had already conveyed not to the Scots but to the French who warned him that they would stand by their old allies: while the mere suspicion of such an insult in Scotland was enough to rouse the fiercest hostility of the whole nation.

[Sidenote: Pinkie (Sept.)]

The natural result was that while Somerset was contenting himself with border raids, instead of espousing the cause of the Castilians, Prance was acting. About the beginning of July a French fleet appeared off St. Andrews; at the end of the month the castle surrendered. English ships might have prevented this, but the Protector elected instead to prepare a great invasion. In September he was over the border, in command of a considerable army, supported by a large fleet. The Scots of all parties mustered in force and were lying between the advancing English and Edinburgh in a strong defensive position not far from the spot made memorable two hundred years later by the rout of Prestonpans. The English ships were in the Forth hard by. The Scots in essence repeated the blunder of Flodden before and of Dunbar later. A successful attack by Somerset, who had the smaller army, was almost impossible; they thought that he was delivered into their hand, and mistook a tactical movement for a retreat to the ships. Abandoning their position and racing to cut him off, their leading troops received and broke a charge of horse; but the mass of the English, who were greatly superior in cavalry and artillery, and whose advance had been concealed by the formation of the ground, were already at hand and fell upon them. The Scottish army was completely shattered; ten thousand dead or dying men were left on the field of Pinkie Cleugh. The English loss was small.

[Sidenote: Effect of Pinkie]

Somerset however merely did very much what he had done before when he sacked Edinburgh in the last reign, ravaging and retiring. Pillage and destruction were arguments which invariably stiffened Scottish defiance, and it was now absolutely certain that the Scots would not consent on any terms to the English marriage. Dictation from England by force of arms was the one method of minimising the internal warring of factions in the Northern Country. Had Somerset been prepared to follow up his campaign by an effective military occupation, his plans might have been dignified with the name of a policy. In practice, they amounted almost to a negation of policy. A month after the battle the only effective result for Scotland was a renewed and intensified bitterness of hatred to England, and a corresponding inclination to amity with France. The practical reply to the invasion was the proposal to France of a marriage between the Queen of Scots and the Dauphin.

For the Protector himself however, the victory of Pinkie was a personal triumph. He returned to England in a halo of military glory and popularity, to receive new compliments and honours, and to assume the r?le of beneficent dictator with self-complacent confidence when Parliament met for the first time in the beginning of November.

[Sidenote: The Progressive Reformers]

In the meantime the progressive Reformers, increasingly guided by Swiss rather than Lutheran ideas, were already hurrying forward with their schemes, acting upon Royal proclamations under the authority of the Council. Injunctions were issued for the destruction of "abused" images which term was liberally interpreted so as to cover stained glass, paintings, and carvings which might conceivably be regarded as objects of idolatry-that is to say, become in themselves objects of worship instead of being recognised as mere symbols: a process which unless conducted with the most studied moderation and caution was absolutely certain to give the rein not only to passionate zealotry but to wanton irreverence. Cranmer obtained an order for the reading in churches of the "Book of Homilies," for the most part in lieu of all other preaching. The Paraphrase of Erasmus, done into English, was ordered to be set up in the churches. A commission was issued for a Royal Visitation, superseding the authority of the bishops, though some months elapsed before this was fairly at work. Paget, having the instincts of statesmanship, endeavoured to warn Somerset against keeping too many irons in the fire; but Paget was guided solely by political expediency, not by principle. The one man who did boldly take up his stand on principle was Gardiner. His remonstrances were open. He urged that the intentions of the dead King should be carried out; that no revolutionary changes should be introduced during Edward's minority; that arbitrary proclamations by the Council had no sanction of law; that the personal powers bestowed upon Henry remained in abeyance until the young King should be of age; that aggressive measures in Scotland ought to be similarly deferred. The introduction of the Homilies, he argued, to which authorisation had been refused in the last reign, was in itself unjustifiable in the circumstances; the more so as-mainly by their omissions-they were inconsistent with the doctrinal attitude affirmed by Henry's legislation. Gardiner's remonstrances, supported by Bonner, bishop of London, were of no effect. Matters came to a head when the two bishops refused to submit without qualification to the injunctions. Both were imprisoned in the Fleet, while Somerset was in Scotland.

[Sidenote: Nov. Repeal of more stringent laws; Social legislation]

In November, Parliament met, and began its career of benign legislation. Since Cromwell's day, the land had lain under the grip of ruthless laws. Of these the sternest were repealed as no longer necessary. The Treasons Act disappeared; so did the old Acts against the Lollards; so did the Act of the Six Articles. A curious attempt was made to deal with the problem of vagrancy, the outcome of prevalent economic conditions, which the penalties of flogging and hanging had failed to repress. The vagrant was to be brought before the magistrates, branded, and handed over to some honest person as a "slave" for two years. If he attempted to escape from servitude, he was to be branded again and made a slave for life; if still refractory he could be sentenced as a felon. The intention of the Act was merciful, its effect probably more degrading than that of the superseded statutes. At any rate, it failed entirely of its purpose and was repealed after two years.

[Sidenote: Ecclesiastical legislation]

In matters ecclesiastical, Parliament on its own account abolished the form of the congé d'élire, giving the appointments directly into the King's hands. Also the chantries and other foundations which had been conferred on Henry, but had not been suppressed by him, were now-despite the strong opposition of Cranmer, Tunstal, and a few of the bishops- formally subjected to the Council and for the most part abolished. It is to be noted however that of the Church property acquired by the crown in this reign a comparatively respectable though still niggardly proportion was re-appropriated to educational purposes. [Footnote: In most cases, only in the way of restoring pre-existing endowments.]

[Sidenote: 1548]

Convocation, sitting concurrently with Parliament, presented petitions for representation of the clergy in parliament, for the administration of the Communion in both kinds to the laity, for the suppression of irreverent language about the Sacrament, and for sanctioning the marriage of the clergy. The first was ignored; the two next were embodied in Acts of Parliament; the last was deferred for a year. The session was rounded off in January by a general pardon, except for the graver offences; with the result that the imprisoned bishops were for a time released.

[Sidenote: Progress of Reformation]

Between this and the next session of Parliament, in November, the arbitrary method of proceeding by proclamations was in full force. The Reformers did not as yet press advanced doctrinal views. There was a proclamation for the observance of the Lenten Fast-expressly for the sake of the fisheries. Another enforced a new Communion Office, pending the completion of a new Prayer-book; but in this the service of the Mass remained unaltered and in Latin: no doctrinal change was implied, though the Communion in both kinds was ordered to be administered to the laity, in accordance with the recent Act and the recommendation of Convocation. More significant was a further proclamation for the destruction of "images," in which the distinction between "abused" images and others, previously laid down, was cancelled. In the meantime no unauthorised innovations were to be permitted. Cranmer was still striving vainly after his ideal of a conference between leading continental and English reformers, who should come to an agreement upon a common body of doctrine. It was prima facie reasonable that while awaiting the new authoritative formularies, now avowedly in course of preparation by a commission on which the Catholic party was not unrepresented, partisan preaching should be discouraged, and all but licensed preachers be confined to the Homilies; it was however unfortunate that the licences for preaching should have been systematically granted both by Somerset and Cranmer-to whom the power was restricted-only to keen and sometimes extravagant partisans of the "New Learning"; a term at that time appropriated to the advocates of Protestantism at large. It is not surprising that Gardiner so far placed himself in opposition as to be called upon to express publicly his approval of these proceedings, nor that he should have found himself unable to do so in terms satisfactory to the Council. Before the summer was over the Bishop of Winchester was relegated to the Tower. More unfortunate still was the encouragement

to sacrilegious irreverence given by the personal conduct of the Protector, who pulled down one chapel and began to lay hands on another in order to build himself a new palace.

[Sidenote: Somerset's ideas]

Nor were Somerset's activities confined to the campaign against "idolatry," a term conveniently used to include any observances which, in the eyes of the Swiss school, savoured of superstition. With no sense of the limitations of his own intelligence, no suspicion of the subtle skill in adjustment needed at all times to impose ideals on a materially minded community, unable to realise that though his object might be excellent the methods adopted in achieving it might be fruitful of unexpected evils, he conceived in his arrogant self-confidence that he had but to say the word and difficulties would vanish. He resolved to appear as the Poor Man's Friend, establishing a Court of Requests in his own house so that appeal might be made personally to him from the normal processes of the Law; also, he appointed a commission to investigate and deal with that evasion of the agricultural statutes which he imagined to be the actual cause of the prevailing distress. The end in view was admirable, the method high-handed and unconstitutional: the policy won him popularity for the time among the depressed classes, but roused the enmity of nobility and gentry without achieving useful results.

[Sidenote: The French in Scotland]

Meanwhile, affairs in Scotland were aggravating the tension with France, where the proposal to marry the Scots Queen to the French Dauphin was approved. English troops harried the borders, and in the course of the spring captured and garrisoned Haddington. French troops were landed in Scotland, and the marriage proposal was formally ratified; in spite of a belated offer from the Protector to leave Scotland alone and postpone his own marriage scheme till Edward and Mary were old enough to have views of their own, provided that Scotland would hold aloof from France. French ships, evading the English by sailing round the Orkneys, took Mary on board on the west coast and carried her off in safety to France. A diplomatist would have seized the chance of reviving an English party, when it was found that a violent animosity was growing up between the Scots and the French troops; but the opportunity was allowed to pass, and the animosities were reconciled by some minor successes of Scots and French together against the English: while privateering operations-in other words, authorised piracy-were going on in and near the Channel, which amounted to something not far removed from a state of war between France and England.

[Sidenote: The Augsburg Interim]

It was fortunate that affairs in Germany continued to preclude that union of the Catholic Powers against England which the Pope desired; since neither Charles nor Paul would bend to the other. Charles, with no one to fear since Mühlberg had witnessed the destruction of the League of Schmalkald, was preparing future disaster by his high-handed attitude within the Empire. Deeming his position absolutely secure, his tone to the Pope was peremptory and dictatorial. The French King encouraged Paul to be equally peremptory. In May 1548, Charles, repudiating the authority of the Council, or section of the Council, sitting at Bologna, took the law in his own hands and imposed the "Interim of Augsburg" on the Germans. It was one of those compromises which satisfies no one; schismatical in the eyes of the Catholics, in the eyes of the Protestants an insignificant concession. Many of the latter, including the moderate and conciliatory Bucer, withdrew to England rather than accept it. The Protector however was secured against any present danger of a coalition between Henry II. and Charles; while the incursion of foreign Protestants of extreme views, especially those of the Swiss school, had a marked influence on the ecclesiastical movement in England.

[Sidenote: Nov. Parliament]

At the end of November, Parliament again met-to reject a first, a second, and a third Enclosures Bill, based on the report of the Agricultural Commission; for the labouring classes were unrepresented in the House. Making the rough places smooth proved not so simple a process as the Protector had imagined. The petition of the clergy for the legalisation of their marriages, deferred from the last session, was given effect, and fasting was again enjoined on economic grounds. The real business of the session, however, was the discussion of the new Prayer-book and the first Act of Uniformity.

[Sidenote: 1549 A New Liturgy]

Hitherto, there had been no uniform Order of Service: a variety of "Uses" being sanctioned. The idea however was by no means new, and had in fact long been theoretically approved, though never pressed with sufficient fervour to pass the stage of theoretical approbation. Cranmer had expended an infinity of learning and labour on the work now to be issued, and to him we owe chiefly the solemn harmonies, the gracious tenderness, of its language. To him too in chief, but partly also to the composite character of the "Windsor Commission" under whose auspices [Footnote: Cf. Moore, 183.] it was prepared, is due that conscious ambiguity of phraseology which enables persons of opinions so diverse on points so numerous to find in it a sufficiently satisfactory expression or recognition of their own views. It was possible alike for Day and for Ridley, even for Tunstal and for Hooper, to conform to it. Whether it was actually submitted to Convocation is a moot question, [Footnote: Moore, 186,187.] as to which the evidence is inconclusive, but informally, if not formally, it is clear that it received the imprimatur of general clerical opinion. In the discussions, the Archbishop-generally regarded by the Swiss school as sadly backward-won from that section unexpected approval; but his other utterances continued to be so difficult to reconcile with their attitude that it is at least doubtful whether he went so far with them as they supposed. At any rate the book known as the Prayer-book of 1549 was accepted, and in January the Act of Uniformity was passed, compelling the clergy throughout the kingdom to adopt it uniformly under severe pains and penalties for recalcitrance. The Act was to come into force at Whitsuntide. Eight of the bishops however opposed the Bill, including some who had been on the Commission. It may be inferred that while they gave the book itself their sanction, they resisted its imposition on the clergy by lay authority.

[Sidenote 1: 1547-49 The treason of the Lord Admiral]

[Sidenote 2: 1549 Fall of the Lord Admiral]

One other matter was to occupy the attention of Parliament before the close of the session, namely the treason of the Protector's brother, the Admiral, Lord Seymour of Sudeley. He was the King's uncle; he had taken to wife the late King's widow on being refused the hand of the Princess Elizabeth; he was violently jealous of his brother and angry at not having the guardianship of the King entrusted to him-an office which in his opinion ought to be separated from that of Protector of the realm. After marrying Katharine Parr he did obtain from the Council the guardianship of Elizabeth, and from Lord Dorset that of his daughter Lady Jane Grey, who, under Henry's will, stood next in succession to the throne after his own offspring. As Admiral, he had refused to take command of the fleet which accompanied the march to Pinkie; and had entered into secret relations with the pirates who infested the Channel. It had long been palpable that he was intriguing for power, but no one was disposed to take part with him, and Somerset was lenient to him. His principal ally was one Sharington, master of the mint at Bristol, who abused his office by debasing the coinage and pocketing or sharing his nefarious profits: Dorset and probably his brother-in-law Northampton (Parr) favoured him. Thus supported, he had money enough in hand to maintain a considerable armed following should occasion arise, and had established a private cannon foundry. When his wife died, he renewed his pretensions to the hand of Elizabeth, and was not unnaturally suspected of having hastened Katharine's end with that intention. Trusting to the soreness of Southampton (Wriothesly) at his deprivation of the Chancellorship, he tried to win him over, and also Rutland. The attempt failed, and was reported to the Protector; who summoned him to give an account of himself before the Council. Seymour refused to attend, using defiant language; and on January 17th he was arrested. Practically there is no doubt of his treason, and had he then been fairly brought to trial, Somerset would have been free from reproach. But the question was debated in parliament whether the Admiral should be so tried, or attainted, and attainder was decided on after he had refused to answer to the Council; as he was entitled to do. He was allowed to plead before a committee of both Houses in his own defence, but did not take advantage of the permission: virtually he was denied the right of an open trial, and was condemned without such defence as he had to make being heard. Cranmer signed the death-sentence: Latimer defended it. The fact is significant of the chaos into which English ideas of justice and fair play had fallen. The Protector's brother was executed at the end of March.

[Sidenote: Troubles in the Provinces]

From April to September, Somerset's troubles thickened. Formidable insurrections took place both in the western and eastern counties, and the hostilities with France, not yet openly at war, were assuming an aggravated form. The one piece of good fortune for England was that the antagonism between Charles and the French King in other fields still prevented any rapprochement between them.

[Sidenote: The Western Rising]

In the country districts there were two exciting causes of disturbance -one, the general agricultural distress due to the selfish policy of the landowners, the extension of sheep-farming and consequent displacement of labour, the enclosure of common lands and evictions from small holdings; the other, the innovations in religion and interference with immemorial practices to which the people were attached with the persistent conservatism of rural folk. The two types of grievance were associated by the recent abolition of the monasteries, and the transfer of their lands to the most obnoxious class of landlord-a class in the nature of the circumstances popularly identified with the enemies of the old ecclesiastical system, since it was they who conspicuously profited by the change. The North and the West, then and for more than a century to come, were the strongholds of traditional faiths and traditional ideals, as Yorkshire had shown by the Pilgrimage of Grace. Now the main trouble arose in the West. The introduction of the new Service Book at Whitsuntide was met with violent opposition; the men of Cornwall and Devon rose, and demanded the redress of grievances. They would have the religious houses reinstated, and at least half their lands restored. They would have the old services, not the new one which was "like a Christmas play". They would not have it in English which the Cornishmen "did not understand". Elsewhere there had already been disturbances, the peasants anticipating Somerset's efforts to remedy the agricultural grievances by a commission to enforce what was actually the law, and assembling in mobs to level fences and enclosures; whereat the Council was wrath, but the Protector as Friend of the People was disposed to applaud them. A religious revolt however was an attack on the Protector's own policy, and must be put down. Foreign mercenaries were called in, to embitter the quarrel. The insurgents besieged Exeter, and had been for some months in arms before they were at last crushed by the Government forces, in August, after desperate fighting.

[Sidenote: Ket's insurrection]

In the meantime a separate rising came to a head in the Eastern counties, where however the religious question was not involved. In that part of the country, destined to be the head-quarters of puritanism, the new ideas had made early way with the population; and Ket, the leader of the rising, conducted it on the hypothesis that his followers were merely enforcing legal rights because the agents of the Government neglected to do so. A great camp was formed at Mousehold Hill near Norwich; order was strictly maintained; morning and evening the new services were read. There was so much to be said in favour of the insurgents that they were offered a free pardon if they would disperse; but unfortunately Ket cavilled at the word "Pardon" on the ground that no offence had been committed, whereupon the herald called him a traitor. The indignant insurgents, ready enough to disperse before, thereupon changed their tone, assaulted and captured Norwich, and carried off the guns and ammunition. Northampton was sent down in command of the Government forces, but the rebels attacked him with such determination that he had to fly-the insurgents maintaining their policy of abstaining from robbery and violence generally. At last however, at the end of August, Warwick, who replaced Northampton, succeeded by the aid of German and Italian mercenaries in inflicting a crushing defeat on them; Ket himself being taken and hanged soon after.

[Sidenote: Somerset's attitude]

Another rising was also attempted in Yorkshire, but this was easily quelled by the local authorities. It is however of interest to note that the nobility regarded Somerset as the real cause of these troubles, on account of the open sympathy he expressed for the grievances of the rural population, and his public admonitions to the landowners urging them to amend their ways. He was driving the country faster than it was prepared to go in the direction of religious innovations; he was attacking the privileges which the new landowners had usurped; his Scottish policy had been upset, in spite of Pinkie, by the young Queen's escape to France; he was further alienating all but a few of the nobility by his increasing arrogance of demeanour and disregard of advice, as well as by an assumption of powers which had no precedent; he was giving a handle to his enemies by the profusion of his own household, his appropriations of clerical lands and even of the fabric of consecrated buildings to his own use; and finally his conduct of foreign affairs had been so incompetent that while the Emperor declined an English alliance, the position of Boulogne-which remained quite inefficiently garrisoned-was becoming critical, and a French squadron, ostensibly in pursuit of English pirates, attacked the island of Jersey. By the end of September war was declared with France.

[Sidenote 1: The Council attacks the Protector]

[Sidenote 2: Fall of Somerset (Sept.)]

The lords of the Council, headed by Warwick, made up their minds that it was time the protectorate should end, and that one vain-glorious nobleman should not absorb so undue a share of power and profit. Somerset, discovering that there was a cabal on foot, attempted to stir up popular feeling against the Council, and retired hurriedly to Windsor with the King, accompanied by Cranmer and Paget; a journey which is said to have materially shaken the health of Edward, who was in a very delicate condition. But the people did not rise in Somerset's favour; the Council had so far taken no improper action, whereas the Protector had evidently incited to violence by the steps into which panic had led him; Herbert and Russell, returning from the West with the troops employed there to put down the insurrection, declared in favour of the Council; who were of course forced-very much to their own satisfaction-to stand on their right to control the Government, and call the Protector to account, at the same time promising him life and declaring that they had never sought his personal injury. By mid-October, Somerset had fully realised that he was without effective support; he surrendered to the Council, and was sent to the Tower. His deposition from the Protectorate was confirmed by Parliament three months later, and a substantial portion of his estates was forfeited, after which he was again set at liberty. But his control in politics was at an end.

[Sidenote 1: Ireland, 1547-49]

[Sidenote 2: Bellingham Deputy]

Before proceeding to the second division of Edward's reign, it remains to deal with affairs in Ireland, where Sir Anthony St. Leger held sway, with general approval, during the closing years of Henry's life. St. Leger embodied the policy of conciliation by the method of converting Irish chiefs into responsible supporters of the government in return for honours gilded with spoils of the Church. The method worked well, but the condoning-almost, it might be said, the rewarding-of treason, initiated by Henry VII., carried risks which are obvious. Whether it was that the extension to Ireland of the energetic iconoclasm of the English Reformation in 1547 excited new hostility; or that a repressive policy was anticipated from the new Government; or that death withdrew the loyal influence of the old Earl of Ormonde, whose young heir was in England; or that the chiefs were tired of behaving peaceably after six years; or that all these causes combined: signs of disturbance and rumours of French intrigues arose. St. Leger was recalled, and replaced by Sir Edward Bellingham, a stern and rigorous soldier, who ruled autocratically with a strong hand. Fortresses and garrisons were established up and down the country outside the Pale, among the tribes which had been in the habit of raiding or levying blackmail-very much after the fashion of various Highland clansmen in Scotland; while O'Connor and O'More, two chiefs whose lands lay between the English Pale and the Shannon, were attached for treason. In short, Bellingham asserted the authority of the English government, not, it would seem, unjustly, but certainly with severity, and in a dictatorial fashion which thoroughly re-awakened the normal rebellious instincts of a population never really subjugated. While he was present, his power was feared and respected; but if St. Leger's policy had been taking real effect, that effect was thoroughly cancelled. Bellingham died in 1549, and Desmond told Allen the Chancellor, that the Deputy's methods had reduced all Ireland to despair. [Footnote: A phrase expanded by Mr. Froude, v., 421 (Ed. 1864)-perhaps legitimately-into "despair of being able to continue their old habits".] In any case, no long time elapsed after Bellingham's death before the country was again in a ferment. The fall of Somerset left the new Government, controlled by Warwick, with a normally distracted Ireland on its hands as well as an abnormally distracted England. So long, however, as ferment did not mean active rebellion, the English rulers were not greatly troubled.

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