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Events immediately after the death of Henry VIII.-Executors of his Will-Somerset chosen Protector-Character of the young King-War with Scotland-Scottish alliance with France Somerset's desire for union between England and Scotland--Invasion-Battle of Pinkie Progress of the Reformation-Parliament of 1547-Various Statutes in matters of religion-Proclamation against certain processions and ceremonies-The Act for the Uniformity of Service-Publication of the Book of Common Prayer.
On Friday, the 28th of January, 1547, Edward, the son of king Henry VIII., is sojourning at Hertford Castle. His father lies dead in the palace at Whitehall. Between one and two o'clock of the morning of Saturday, the 29th, the earl of Hertford, his uncle, is also at Hertford Castle. Not twentyour hours have elapsed since he was at the side of the dying king. He has left a confidential friend behind him, sir William Paget, one of the secretaries of state; and in answer to a despatch which has been forwarded to him, the earl writes, before day-break of that January morning, with regard to the late king's Will," that it might be well considered how much thereof were
WILL OF KING HENRY VIII.
[1547. necessary to be published;" adding, "for divers respects I think it not convenient to satisfy the world." The Will was in safe custody. Hertford had locked it up; but he confides in Paget, and says in this letter, "I have sent you the key of the Will." As the day advances, prince Edward and his uncle, with sir Anthony Brown, ride to Enfield. There, in the Manor House, dwells the lady Elizabeth. The son of Henry by Jane Seymour is a few months above nine years of age. Henry's daughter by Anne Boleyn has seen thirteen years and four months. This boy and girl are attached to each other. Their elder sister, Mary, who is now in her thirty-second year, has few sentiments in common with these young people. She clings to the principles and institutions which, since their births, have been rapidly perishing. They have been taught to believe that the new opinions to which she has been compelled to assent will go forward into a more complete and permanent revolution. Edward and Elizabeth are brought together at Enfield, before their father's death is declared to them. "Never," says Hayward, the historian of Edward VI., " was sorrow more sweetly set forth."
The parliament, which was sitting at the time of king Henry's decease, met on the 29th of January, and transacted business without receiving any intimation of the great change in the monarchy. On the 31st, on which day Edward was conducted to the Tower of London and proclaimed king, Wriothesley, the chancellor, announced to the lords and commons the death of "their late dread lord." A portion of the king's Will was then read, and the parliament was dissolved. That Will was dated the 30th of December; and under it sixteen executors were appointed, to exercise the powers of the crown during Edward's minority. To assist these executors in cases of doubt, a second council of twelve persons was also nominated. At the accession of Henry VI., at the age of nine months, the peers assembled and issued writs for a parliament. Henry V. had desired by his Will that his brother Gloucester should be regent; but the parliament declared that a king could not appoint a regent during the minority of his successor. They committed a limited power to Gloucester under the title of Protector. The Executors of Henry VIII. raised the earl of Hertford to that office. The very act of appointing executors was the assertion of the royal prerogative to deal with the kingdom as with a private estate. A servile parliament had passed a statute under which Henry thus attempted to supersede the ancient powers of the legislature. The solemn trust conferred upon numerous executors propitiated the ruling passion strong in death; but the administrative power of many would necessarily be usurped by one, or by a few. Wriothesley opposed the nomination of any one of the council with an authority superior to the rest. Hertford reasonably enough pointed out the difficulties of conducting a government with such a large executive. The chancellor was overruled. The influence of Hertford prevailed. He was soon after created duke of Somerset ; and Wriothesley was removed from office; having in his struggle for power committed a political offence. In these proceedings, the party of the Reformation was triumphant. Without the support of a powerful party Somerset could not have gone so direct to the object of his ambition. No one appears to have offered any resistance but the ex-chan
* Tytler, "Original Letters," vol. i. p. 15.