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most vehemently against them; but fortunately for England, the persecutions and misgovernment of the continental states rendered other countries still more insecure than England, so that commerce and industry continued to advance, although by slow degrees.
The English merchants, emulating the example of the Spaniards and Portuguese, began to extend the sphere of their commerce and to build more substantial vessels: the discovery of the compass, and the passage to India by the Cape of Good Hope, had been attended by the happiest consequences, and although England did not participate immediately in these discoveries, the abundance of the precious metals brought into Europe, and the stimulus given to enterprise, was sufficient to counterbalance any temporary evils arising from unwise legislation. But the great work of Henry's reign, which had more influence than even the discoveries of Columbus and the Portuguese in developing the resources of England, was the Reformation; it infused a new life and energy into the nation, and although brought about, not as in Scotland and Germany, by the religious convictions of the people, but by the intrigues of the court, yet failed not in producing a lasting influence on the character of the people.
EDWARD VI. A. D. 1547-1553.
While the reformation in England was going on under the auspices of the duke of Somerset, who had been chosen regent during the minority of his nephew Edward VI., a similar movement was agitating almost the whole of Europe, although not with equal success. In England the young and pious king had been brought up in the reformed religion, and most of the council, through various motives, partly pure, partly interested, were favourable to its adoption, so that every encouragement was given to the preachers of the new doctrines. The better to secure the acknowledgement of the king's supremacy and to show his obedience to the civil authority, Cranmer, who as archbishop of Canterbury placed himself at the head of the reformed party, resigned his ecclesiastical jurisdiction into the hands of the council, and petitioned them to renew it, arguing that since he had received it originally from the crown, it was held during royal pleasure, and consequently must have expired with the death of the late king. The provincial bishops, who were obliged to follow the example of their metropolitan, were thus led to acknowledge the supremacy of the crown in religious matters, and a royal commission was shortly afterwards issued, causing a visitation to be made of every diocese in the kingdom, and suppressing all Romish ceremonies and superstitious observances: but every precaution was taken to shock as little as possible the religious prejudices of the people; even the images and shrines which had not been objects of pilgrimage were suffered to remain in the churches, and the clergy were still prohibited from marriage. The compilation of a new service-book to supersede the mass was intrusted to Cranmer, and he in conjunction with several other learned divines prepared and submitted for the approval of the council a form of public prayer, which has ever since been retained as the basis of the liturgy of the church of England.
The first parliament which met in Edward's reign was favourable to protestantism; it likewise made several important reforms in the administration of government; it revoked the arbitrary laws of Henry VIII., extending the punishments of treason and felony to trivial offences against the crown, and added the important provision to the original statute of 25 Edward III.* requiring the evidence of two witnesses to convict in cases of treason," the
* 5 & 6 Edward VI. c. 11, § 12.
only constitutional gift," says lord Brougham, "of the Tudor race."
The heavy weight of the royal prerogative in the two last reigns produced a tendency to reaction in the government, and under the milder administration of the regency, the commons regained much of their independent action. Instead of cowering before the dictates of a minister of the crown, we find them taking an active part in the administration of affairs, and on more than one occasion thwarting the views of the executive.
In the following spring, parliament granted an aid to the protector to enable him to carry on the war with Scotland; for the queen-mother, who was regent, having refused to sanction the marriage of the young queen of Scots to the heir of the English throne, a measure evidently advantageous to both countries, on account of religious objections, Somerset determined to see if he could not compel the Scots by force to consent to the match, and with this object crossed the borders at the head of a numerous and well-disciplined army: the Scots gave him battle at Pinkie, near Musselburgh, and lost 20,000 of their best men; but this victory brought with it no decisive effect, and only removed further than ever the main object in view by rousing the national enmities of the two nations. "I dislike not," said lord Huntley, "the match, but I approve not the manner of wooing Somer
set soon returned to England: the queen of Scots was sent to France, to prevent the possibility of any future attempt to carry her off by violence, and was soon after espoused to the dauphin, who succeeded to the French throne in 1559 by the title of Francis II.
More effectual measures were now taken to establish the protestant form of worship in the parochial churches; mass was entirely prohibited, and the clergy were permitted to marry; but the laws against heresy were not entirely repealed, and two unfortunate victims, Joan Bocher, a respectable woman of Kent, and Van Parr, a Dutchman, were sent to the stake, the former for maintaining that Christ was not truly incarnate of the Virgin, and the latter for Arianism. Happy would it have been for the promoters of the Reformation if they had restrained themselves from violence, but the true doctrine of religious liberty was but imperfectly understood, and Cranmer and Ridley, who had narrowly escaped persecution themselves, were the foremost to recommend the same cruel system to the young king.
The council, notwithstanding the repeal of the statute giving to the king's proclamations the force of law, issued a notice declaring the circulation of libels against the government an offence punishable with imprisonment and labour at the galleys: this was,
however, an exception to the general character of the protector's government, which was mild and especially favourable to the poorer classes; yet notwithstanding that he enjoys in history the enviable character of having been the only nobleman in those times who really cared for the interests of the people, some of his measures met with strong opposition. He was an earnest favourer of protestantism, and in the rural districts the people were still attached to the religion of their fathers, and looked with jealousy on any change which tended to alter the established order of society, especially as it brought with it some temporary inconvenience, besides the competition which was created in the labour market by the numbers of people thrown on society by the dissolution of the religious foundations. The estates of the church, which were bestowed on upstart men, were frequently neglected, and the poorer classes found less employment, as many of the lands which had formerly been devoted to tillage were turned into pasture, which required less care and cultivation : the subtenants too, who occupied the farms, were averse to the change of masters, as the monks, whatever their faults, were in general good landlords, and paid special attention to farming and husbandry. The enclosure of the commons and waste lands, which was at this time extensively undertaken by the large landholders, still further increased the popular discontent, and an insurrection broke out in the western and eastern counties. In Berkshire and Oxford the risings (of the peasantry) were easily repressed, but in Devonshire and Norfolk they assumed a more serious aspect. The earl of Northampton and other lords were intrusted with the raising of troops; but a great difference of opinion prevailed in the cabinet concerning the course of policy to be pursued: the landed proprietors and gentry were for enforcing obedience by severely chastising any attempts which might be made by the peasantry to disturb the peace; Somerset on the other hand preferred a milder course, and issued a commission, in opposition to the advice of the council, to inquire into the titles of the newly enclosed lands, and where they should be found defective, to restore the woods and commons as pasturage to the people; but this measure of relief was not thought sufficient by the suffering peasantry, while it drew down on the protector the ill-will of the landowners, who accused him of sacrificing their interests for his own vulgar popularity. The discontents therefore increased, and when the earl of Northampton marched against the insurgents in Norfolk, he was defeated, and the royal troops compelled to retreat; while in the west the insurgents had laid siege to Exeter, and were levelling the fences and burning the mansions of the nobility. At length lord Russell and the earl of Warwick succeeded in dispersing them, and some of the ring
leaders were executed. It however required very stringent laws to maintain order and security in the country; the manumission of the peasantry, and the dissolution of the monasteries in the two preceding reigns, had thrown the labouring population on their own resources, and in periods of scarcity, as there were no means of obtaining relief, many men were driven to resort to pillage and robbery. To suppress this serious evil, which in ancient days had caused our Saxon ancestors to institute the system of frankpledge, parliament passed the statute of mendicity, providing that food and shelter should be afforded to the aged and infirm by the voluntary contributions of the parishioners, but that sturdy beggars and persons found living idle for the space of three days should be brought before a magistrate and summarily punished by scourging, and then delivered over to a master to be worked as if bondmen, for a term of years: another remarkable clause also provided that the children of beggars were to be held as common property, and any one who would undertake to feed them might have the value of their services till they attained the age of
21 or 23.
As a subordinate punishment, whipping-posts were set up in every parish, and even respectable persons when travelling from one village to another, if they were not furnished with a magistrate's certificate, were liable to be flogged: many distressing examples of the severity with which these laws were executed are to be met with in the original records of the time; but, however barbarous the legislation which condemned misfortune as a crime, it had the effect of greatly lessening the number of offences and increasing the general security. These laws naturally pressed with great severity on the working classes, by restricting their personal liberty and preventing them from seeking the highest market for their labour, which kept down wages, while the influx of the precious metals from the Indies, and the scarcity of the seasons, rendered the ordinary necessaries of life dear, so that after a period of great prosperity like the two preceding reigns, the people were discontented and restless.
These disturbances gave Somerset's enemies in the council an opportunity of undermining his authority, which was more extensive than had ever before been possessed by a subject: Dudley, earl of Warwick, more especially designed his overthrow, and plotted with Southampton, St. John, and lord Arundel, against him. The wars in Scotland and France languished for want of supplies: the unfortunate signing of the warrant for his brother's execution, and the means resorted to for building his mansion in the Strand, likewise hastened his fall. The council held an extraordinary meeting at Ely house, 6th of October,