Part 9 out of 9
descended from Edward IV.'s brother, George of Clarence. But Philip of
Spain claimed the crown for himself as a descendant of John of Gaunt;
though, the union of the crowns of England and Spain being admittedly
impracticable, he was under promise to transfer his claim to a hitherto
unnamed nominee, presumably his sister. Virtually therefore Isabella ranked
as a possible though not very enthusiastic candidate.
[Sidenote: The last intrigues]
By this time, it was perfectly obvious that the Infanta could not be forced
upon England, though it was supposed that the Moderates would have favoured
her candidature provided she brought Flanders with her: whereas the
negotiations controlled by Cecil were not tending to bring about any such
result. As 1602 drew to a close, the ablest man in Spain, Olivares, was
emphasising the necessity for giving the English Catholics as a body a free
hand to nominate an English candidate instead of an alien. It is probable,
though it cannot be called certain, that there was a plot to unite the
claims of Arabella and Lord Beauchamp by marrying them, with an implication
that both were prepared in due time to declare themselves Catholics.
Meantime the Moderates were awaiting direction from Cecil; who ostensibly
was himself waiting on a hint from the Queen, but was privily keeping the
way clear for James, while seeking to implicate Raleigh and others in
language and actions which might at any rate be interpreted as hostile to
him. In this secret intriguing, Cecil's great ally was Lord Henry Howard, a
brother of the last Duke of Norfolk; and he had with him the Careys of the
Hunsdon family. Of the Moderates in general it can only be said that, while
there was no candidate in whose favour they could combine with any warmth,
James was rather more obnoxious to them than others. Yet they did not
combine against him, while if any of them sought to ingratiate themselves
with him Cecil was particularly careful to sow distrust of them in the
Scots King's mind, unless they happened to be partisans of his own or at
any rate probable allies. When Arabella tried to escape from what was
practically the custody of her grandmother the Dowager Countess of
Shrewsbury, the famous "Bess of Hardwick," the attempt was nipped in the
bud: and the Catholics were still without any declared candidate when the
lonely old Queen was seized in March with her last mortal illness.
[Sidenote: 1603 Death of the Queen]
As Elizabeth lay on her death-bed, her entourage consisted almost
exclusively of Cecil and his friends, among whom is to be numbered the old
Lord Admiral, though he was innocent of the intrigues going on. The ships
in the Thames, the troops in the North, were commanded by members of the
same group; almost before the breath was out of her body Robert Carey was
galloping North to hail James I. King of England: and the world was told
that Elizabeth's last conscious act was to ratify by a sign the succession
of her old-time rival's son. In her seventieth year, in the early hours of
March 24th, 1603, ended the long and glorious reign of the Virgin Queen.
ELIZABETH (xii), 1558-1603--LITERATURE
The Elizabethan Literature demands from the general Historian something
more than the incidental references which may suffice in other periods. In
earlier days, he may draw upon Piers Plowman or Chaucer for evidence and
illustrations of the prevalent social conditions; in the century following
he may appeal to Milton and Bunyan to elucidate aspects of Puritanism. But
the Elizabethan literature is in a degree quite unique, the expression of
the whole spirit of the time, its many-sidedness, its vigour, its creative
force; helping us to realise how it was that Elizabeth's Englishmen made
Elizabeth's England. And this of course is beside the other fact that for
the historian of literature _per se_ there is no period quite so
interesting and instructive, none of such vital importance in the evolution
of English Letters.
[Sidenote: Birth of a National Literature]
In the five centuries since the Norman Conquest, ending in 1566, England
had produced but one single poet of the front rank or anything approaching
it, Geoffrey Chaucer. From the time when Edmund Spenser in 1579 delighted
his contemporaries by the publication of the _Shepherd's Calendar_,
she has never been without writers whose claim to eminence among poets can
be at least plausibly maintained. Before very much the same date, English
prose as a consciously artistic medium of utterance had hardly begun to be
recognised; even Thomas More wrote his _Utopia_ in Latin, and it was
not translated into English till many years after his death. The
possibility of an English Prose Style--written prose as distinguished from
spoken oratory--had hardly presented itself except to the translators of
Scripture and the Liturgy. Before the century closed, the world was
enriched by the compact and pregnant sentences of Francis Bacon's
_Essays_ and the dignified simplicity of Hooker's _Ecclesiastical
Polity_. As with the Poets, so also the chain of masters of English
Prose is unbroken from that day forward. But most sudden and startling of
all the various developments was that of the Drama. It may be doubted if
any critical observer in 1579 would have ventured even to suspect that the
crowning glory of Elizabeth's reign was to be the work of playwrights; yet
before she died the genius of Marlowe had blazed and been quenched,
_Hamlet_ had appeared on the boards, Jonson's "learned sock" had
achieved fame; the men whose names we are wont to associate with the
"Mermaid" had most of them already begun their career, even if they had not
yet passed the stage of merely adapting, doctoring, and "writing up" for
managers the stock-plays in their repertory. The Drama, proving itself the
form of literary expression most perfectly adapted to the spirit of the
age, absorbed the available literary talent as it has never done since.
Sudden as the outburst was however, it had been made possible by many years
of wide and miscellaneous experiment, though little of any permanent
intrinsic value had been actually achieved.
[Sidenote: Prose: before 1579]
Except for Ascham's _Toxophilus_, very few passages [Footnote: Such as
may be lighted on for instance in "Sir John Mandeville," Mallory, and
Hall's _Chronicle_.] of English prose notable as prose--that is,
consciously essaying what is connoted by the term _style_--had been
produced before Elizabeth's accession, apart from the liturgical,
rhetorical, or controversial work of the clergy or clerical disputants. The
_Acts and Monuments_ of Foxe, popularly known as, the "Book of
Martyrs," published in the first decade of the reign, showed the
development of a power of vigorously dramatic narrative which should not be
overlooked. The enormous popularity however which that work achieved was at
least in part the outcome of the general sterility. Men had not yet learned
to write, but they were ready to read even voraciously. Culture was in
vogue. As things stood culture, in practice, meant and could mean little
else than the study of Latin and Italian authors--Greek being still
reserved for the learned--of whose works translations, some of notable
merit, were very soon beginning to appear on the market. It was inevitably
to these two literatures--the Latin and the Italian--that men turned in the
first instance to find the models and formulate the canons of literary art;
with only occasional divagations in the direction of France or Spain,
countries which were scarcely a generation in advance of England. We remark
that the old idea that for prose which was intended to live the true medium
was still the one international literary language, Latin, died exceedingly
hard; Bacon himself, great master though he was of his mother-tongue,
maintaining it quite definitely. This pedantic attitude however was not
involved in the idea of culture, and men welcomed with avidity an author
who made his appeal to the non-academic public in vigorous English. The
conversion even of the academic mind was close at hand.
The year 1579 is in the strictest sense an epoch in the history of English
Literature; as witnessing the first appearance of a new and original force
in English verse, and the first deliberate and elaborate effort in the
direction of artistically constructed English Prose. In that year, John
Lyly published his _Euphues: the Anatomy of Wit_, and Edmund Spenser
his _Shepherd's Calendar_.
_Euphues_, and its companion volume _Euphues and His England_
enjoyed a very remarkable if temporary vogue; running through numerous
editions in the course of the ensuing fifty years. After that, it dropped.
It is not surprising that it dropped. The work is tedious, prolix,
affected, abounding in pedantry and in intellectual foppery. But its whole
meaning and significance at the time when it was written are lost to us if
we pay attention only to the ridicule which very soon fell upon it, to the
mockery in Shakespeare's burlesques of Euphuism, or to Scott's later parody
of it in the character of Sir Piercie Shafton. The everlasting antitheses,
the perpetual playing with words, the alliterative trickery, the
accumulation of far-fetched similes, the endless and often most
inappropriate classical, mythological, and quasi-zoological allusions and
parallels, are indeed sufficiently absurd and wearisome; and when
"Euphuism" became a fashionable craze, its sillier disciples were a very
fit target for jesting and mirth, very much as in our own day the humorists
found abundant and legitimate food for laughter in the vagaries of what was
known as "aestheticism". In both cases, the extravagances were the
separable accidents, the superficial excrescences, of a real intellectual
movement with a quite healthy motive. _Euphues_ itself was a real and
serious if somewhat misdirected effort at making a moralised culture
fashionable, and at elevating; the English tongue into a medium of refined
and polished expression. If the Euphuists included Armados among them, they
numbered also their Birons and Rosalines. Though Lyly practised exuberances
of verbal jugglery, he was not their inventor; they were a vice of the
times, largely borrowed from foreign models; and Shakespeare himself, in
moments of aberrant ingenuity, produced--not for laughter--samples which
Lyly might have admired but could never have emulated.
[Sidenote: Sidney's prose works]
Lyly's work was a novel experiment in prose, without previous parallel;
critical judgments were no very long time in detecting and condemning his
extravagances. But the same intellectual motive was soon to find a more
chastened and artistic expression in the work of one who was still but a
literary experimentalist when he meet his death at Zutphen. When Sir Philip
Sidney, that "verray parfit gentil knight," scholar, soldier, and
statesman, if the unanimous appraisement of the best of his contemporaries
is worth anything, wrote his _Defence of Poesie_, he had not indeed
broken free from the trammels of academic theory; but it is a very often
acute and always charming piece of critical work in scholarly and graceful
language. More affected and generally inferior in style, but also still on
the whole scholarly and graceful in its language, is his _Arcadia_, an
example of the indefinitely constructed amorphous Romances out of which in
course of long time the novel was to be evolved. The dwellers in that
Arcady are as far removed from the nymphs and swains of Watteau's day as
from a primitive Greek population; they behave as no human beings ever did
or could behave; they belong in short to a particularly unconvincing kind
of fairy-land, of which the vogue happily died out at an early stage. The
_Arcadia_ is not intrinsically a great book, nor can it be read to-day
without a considerable effort; yet it must always be notable as not merely
an experiment but a positive achievement in English prose style. Neither of
these works was published till after 1590; but both must have been written
[Sidenote: Hooker 1594]
It was not till the last decade of the reign had begun that the first great
monument of English Prose appeared; nor is it surprising that, when it did
come, it was an example of the Ecclesiastical or politico-ecclesiastical
order. With the publication in 1594 of the first four books of Richard
Hooker's _Ecclesiastical Polity_, the full claims of English as a
great literary language were decisively established by his rhythmical,
stately, and luminous periods. In their own field, Poets and Dramatists had
already secured those claims; with the works of Marlowe, the earliest plays
of Shakespeare, and the opening books of the _Faerie Queene_.
[Sidenote: Verse; before 1579]
While the Eighth Henry was still ruling England, Surrey and Wyatt, heedful
of things Italian, had already discovered that verse-making was at any rate
a delectable pastime for a gentleman of wit, especially if he had a
love-affair on hand; a pastime certainly pleasing to himself and probably
agreeable to his mistress. They made metrical experiments, introducing both
the sonnet and blank verse. The example they set was followed by others,
and _Tottel's Miscellany_, published towards the end of Mary's reign,
shows that a considerable skill in this minor art had already been
acquired, and not only by the two principal contributors, though the
writers were still working within very narrow metrical limitations. In 1559
appeared the _Mirrour for Magistrates_, for the most part dull and
uninteresting but containing in the _Induction_ and the _Complaint
of Buckingham_ two contributions by Thomas Sackville (afterwards Lord
Buckhurst) which are a good deal more than clever verse-making. But after
one other experiment--the part-authorship of the first English Tragedy in
blank verse, _Gorboduc_--Sackville deserted the Muses, for public
affairs; in his later years becoming a leading member of Elizabeth's
Council. The little verse that he left is of a quality to make us wish that
he had written more: for there is in him at least a hint of some
possibilities which were actualised in Spenser. But twenty years passed
before the appearance of the _Shepherd's Calendar_, during which it is
probable enough that courtiers and lovers continued to practise, after the
school of Surrey and Wyatt; nothing however was published that has
survived, save the work of the universal experimentalist and pioneer George
Gascoigne, who tried his hand at most forms of literary production,
achieving distinction in none but a laudable respectability in all.
[Sidenote: 1579-90 Spenser and others ]
The _Shepherd's Calendar/_ by itself would give Spenser nothing more
than a high position among minor poets; but with him verse reappeared as
something more than an elegant exercise for courtiers, scholars or lovers.
Above all, the _Shepherd's Calendar_ gave unexpected proof of the
metrical capacities and verbal felicities of the English language, though
setting it forth to the accompaniment of an excessive use of archaic forms
and expressions. Even that excess had its value as a protest against the
pedantic precision of the Latinists, who were already indulging in a
grotesque attempt to displace natural English metres by Ovidian and
Horatian prosody. Spenser himself made some futile efforts in this
direction; so did Sidney--sundry more or less ingenious examples are
scattered about the _Arcadia_; but Sidney realised his error in time
to write the _Astrophel and Stella_ sonnets (about 1581-2), which
though still somewhat stiff and academic might well have been the
precursors of some noble poetry had the writer lived longer. As it is, his
life and death form the noblest poem he has bequeathed to us.
Those sonnets also remained unpublished till some years later. The first
three books of the _Faerie Queene_, which at once established Spenser
for all time as a true poet of the highest rank, did not appear till
1590. In the interval, the English Drama was finding itself, and some of
the dramatists were revealing that gift of song--in the restricted sense of
the word--which was bestowed in such unparalleled measure on the later
Elizabethans. To this decade belong songs by Lyly and Peele, Lodge and
Greene, which have already caught the delicate daintiness and the exquisite
lilt of Shakespeare's songs and a host of others found in the later
songbooks--qualities of which there is little more than a rare hint here
and there in the earlier Miscellanies, for all the bravery of such titles
as _A Paradise of Dainty Devises_ (1576): _A Gorgeous Gallery of
Gallant Inventions_ (1578): or _A Handefull of Pleasant
[Sidenote: The Drama before Elizabeth]
The definite triumph of Christianity over Paganism killed the Drama of the
old world, the Church deliberately setting its face against the
theatre. But primitive popular instincts, embodied in the continued
celebration, as holiday sports, of what had originally been pagan rites,
kept in existence crude and embryonic forms of dramatic representation at
the festival seasons; which after a time the ecclesiastics saw more
advantage in adapting to their own ends than in suppressing. Hence arose
the miracle plays or Mysteries (probably _ministerium_, not [Greek:
mystaerion]) of the middle ages--representations chiefly of episodes in the
Biblical narrative. These in turn suggested the Moralities, dialogues with
action in which the characters were personifications of virtues or vices
relieved, in consideration of the weakness of the flesh, by passages of
broad buffoonery. Lastly in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth
centuries came the representation of what were called "Interludes," for the
most part short farces of a very primitive order--probably the offspring of
the aforesaid passages of buffoonery. These did not constitute a literary
drama; but they kept the idea of dramatic representation in being, though
no such thing as a theatre or building constructed for the purpose existed
as yet. The performances were given either in Church, or, later, in a
nobleman's hall, or in the courtyard of an inn. The "masque" or pantomimic
pageant, without dialogue, was also a familiar spectacle of the later
times, and remained an occasional feature of the drama in its development.
The revival of interest in the classics caused some attention to be paid to
the Roman drama; and hence Italy led the way--as in all things literary--in
producing imitations of the plays then known. These however hardly got
beyond the stage of being mere imitations; though as models Terence and
Seneca were superior to the compilers of miracle plays, something more was
required than copying their works before a Drama worthy of the name could
be evolved. But from about the middle of the sixteenth century, the
dramatic instinct in England was struggling to find for itself new and
[Sidenote: Early Elizabethan Drama]
With the Educational revival, it would appear that schoolmasters
occasionally caused their pupils to act scenes, in Latin or perhaps at
times in a translated version, from Terence: and it is not surprising to
find that what is recognised as the first English Comedy was written by a
schoolmaster for his boys to perform. _Ralph Roister Doister_ derived
from the Latin model, and is in doggerel couplets. It was the work of
Nicholas Udall who was Master of Eton and afterwards of Westminster; but
whether it was produced in the earlier or later period is not certainly
known. At any rate it preceded the accession of Queen Mary. _Gammer
Gurton's Needle_, dated 1553, holds the second place in point of time;
and _Gorboduc_ otherwise known as _Ferrex and Porrex_, the first
English blank-verse tragedy, the work of Sackville and Norton, was acted in
1561. From this time, we have notices of the production of a considerable
number of plays of which it may be assumed that they were exceedingly
crude, being either very formless experiments derived from the interludes
or else direct imitations or translations of Latin or Italian plays; to
which Gascoigne contributed his share. A nearer approach to the coming
Comedy is found in the plays of John Lyly preceding his _Euphues_. By
this time dramatic performances had achieved such popularity that the City
Fathers were scandalised--not indeed without reason--by their encroachments
on the more solid but less inviting attractions of Church Services; and by
banishing them from the City precincts caused the first regularly
constructed theatres to be established outside the City bounds in
Shoreditch: a departure which no doubt tended to the more definite
organisation of the Actor's profession. As the Eighties progressed, a
higher standard of dramatic production was attained by the group of
"University" play wrights---Peele, Greene, Nash, and others; wild Bohemian
spirits for the most part, careless of conventions whether moral or
literary, wayward, clever, audacious; culminating with Marlowe, whose first
extremely immature play _Tamburlaine_, was probably acted in 1587 when
he was only three and twenty; his career terminating in a tavern brawl some
six years later. By that time (1593) it is certain that Shakespeare, born
in the same year as Marlowe, was writing for the managers; though none of
his known work can with confidence be dated earlier than the year of
Marlowe's death. The great age of the Drama had begun.
[Sidenote: The younger generation]
It will have become apparent from this survey that, although we talk with
very good reason of the Elizabethan Age of English Literature, the Queen
had been reigning for thirty years, the great political crisis of her rule
had been reached, the Armada had perished, before any single work had been
written, or at any rate published, which on its merits--judged by the
criteria of an established literature with established canons--would have
entitled its author to a position of any distinction on the roll of fame.
Up to 1589, the most remarkable productions had been: in prose, Foxe's
_Book of Martyrs_ and Lyly's _Euphues_; in verse, some lines of
Sackville, and the _Shepherd's Calendar_. Even when we have added to
these Sidney's _Sonnets_ and his _Arcadia_--written but not
published--the significant fact remains that he, as well as Spenser and
Lyly, was not born till the second half of the century had begun: and all
three were older than any of the group of dramatists who are named as
Shakespeare's precursors. Spenser was actually the eldest of all the men
whose writings shed lustre on the great Queen's reign: and Spenser himself
had not attained to the full maturity of his genius--had not, at least
given its fruits to the world--at the hour of England's triumph. Had he
died in the year of Zutphen, "Colin Clout" would have ranked little if at
all higher than "Astrophel." Further: save for Sidney and Marlowe, who were
both cut off prematurely, and Spenser himself who died at forty-six, the
work of all the greater Elizabethan writers--Shakespeare, and Ben Jonson,
Bacon, Hooker, Raleigh, Middleton, Drayton--lies as much in the time of
James as in that of Elizabeth; while a whole group of those to whom the
same general title is applied--Beaumont and Fletcher, Webster, Ford,
Massinger--belong in effect wholly to the later reign.
Broadly speaking therefore it is worth noting that state-craft, soldiering,
seamanship, affairs of a very practical character, absorbed the keen brains
and the abundant energies of the earlier generation; even for the men born
in the fifties, like Raleigh and Sidney, literature (except with Spenser)
held a quite secondary place. But no sooner is the National triumph ensured
than the younger generation displays in the literary field characteristics
essentially the same as those whereby their elders had raised England in
war and in politics to the first rank among the nations.
For years to come, for the first time certainly in English History,
literature in one form or another appropriates the best work of the best
brains. There are men of ability in politics, but no giants: or if one of
the giants, like Bacon, divides his attention between the two fields, the
best half of it goes to literature. Yet it is essentially the same spirit
which works in the great men of Elizabeth's closing years as in the great
men of her youth and of her maturity.
[Sidenote: Pervading Characteristics]
The quality which conditions the whole English character through the period
is an exuberant, often even a riotous energy, a vast imaginativeness, which
breeds in the first place an immense daring, saved from degenerating into
mere recklessness by a coolness of head in emergencies which is singularly
marked. Whether we look at Elizabeth, Cecil, and Walsingham, or at Hawkins
and Drake and Frobisher, or broadly at the actions of the rank and file,
these characteristics are apparent. They are no less patent in the poets.
[Sidenote: displayed in the Drama and other fields]
Thus if we consider the tragedies of the period, their tremendous audacity
is perhaps their most prominent feature. The stage reeks with blood and
reverberates thunder, to an extent which could not fail to become merely
grotesque but for the immense pervading vitality. These men could and did
venture upon extravagances and imbue them with a terrific quality, when in
weaker hands they would have become ridiculous. For anything less than the
vibrating energy of Marlowe, the final scene of his _Faustus_ would
have sunk to burlesque. A cold analysis of the plot of _Hamlet_ or
_Macbeth_ would suggest mere melodrama. A Shakespeare or a Marlowe had
no hesitation in facing tasks which offered no mean between great success
or great failure. Nor was the audacity in their choice of subjects more
remarkable than in their methods, their defiance of recognised canons. Just
as the seamen had ignored the convention of centuries, creating a new
system of naval tactics and a new type of navy, so the Tragedians brushed
aside the academic convention, creating new dramatic canons and a new type
of drama. The innovation in the structure of comedy was no less daring,
since it proceeded on parallel lines. And here again the same quality of
superabundant vitality is equally prominent. But it is to be noted that
while the Elizabethan vitality would have made the drama great in spite of
its audacity, the greatest productions are distinguished from the less
great precisely by that peculiar sanity which stamped the master-spirits of
the time. As it is with the dramatists, so is it with the rest. The same
fulness of life is apparent in the luxuriance of Spenser's imagination, and
in the spontaneity of half a hundred anonymous song-writers, the same
audacity in Raleigh, embarking on his History of the World, and in Bacon,
assuming all knowledge to be his province, while affirming and formulating
the principles of Inductive Reasoning in substitution for the Deductive
methods by which the Schools had lived for centuries. Wherever the critic
turns his glance, he can find no sign of the Decadent. In every field of
life, in politics, in war, in religion, in letters, the Elizabethan was
virile even in his vices. His offences against morals or against art were
essentially of the barbaric not the effete order; as the splendours of his
productions were the natural beauties of plants nurtured in the open, not
in the hothouse.
[Sidenote: Breadth of view]
Other aspects of the national character could be readily inferred from the
prevalent tone of this literature. Toleration as a political principle was
not yet recognised: tolerance as a private attitude of mind was very
prevalent. The Jesuit and the extreme Puritan, the doctrinal propagandists
who would endure no deviation from their own standard, were thoroughly
unpopular, and managed to put themselves outside the field of
consideration; the immense bulk of the nation was in sympathy with neither
the one nor the other, and it is only to the extremists that the men of
letters show a direct antipathy. Catholics can make a presentable case for
the theory that Shakespeare himself was a "crypto-Catholic," though the
case is not more than presentable. Rome is abhorrent to Spenser, yet it is
apparent that many of his ethical conceptions are infinitely nearer akin to
those of mediaeval Catholicism than of the current Puritanism. Hooker, most
earnest of Christians, was also the most liberal-minded of men. Jonson was
half a Catholic. All were manifestly men of deep religious feeling, but
none can be associated with any religious party. When England was pitted as
a Protestant Power against a Power aggressively determined on the
eradication of Protestantism, it was inevitable that the prevailing
sentiment should be increasingly Protestant; on the whole, it is surprising
that there should have been so little bigotry in it. The public inclination
was to be tolerant of all but the intolerant, and that attitude is
reflected in all the literature of the time, except the specifically
partisan writings of controversialists.
So also another note of the day was the general patriotism, national pride,
or insularity; the sentiment which made the Catholics themselves, even when
they were most under suspicion and had most cause to welcome an opportunity
for rebellion, ready and eager to fall into line and resist the invader who
was to liberate them. Again the poets gave voice to the national feeling,
none more emphatically or more admirably than Shakespeare himself.
Patriotic lines might of course be written for the sake of the gallery's
inevitable applause; but Shakespeare's panegyrics of England are absolutely
and unmistakably whole hearted, and it may be doubted if in all his plays
he presented any single character with a more thorough and convincing
sympathy and appreciation than his Henry V., the incarnation of English
[The Normal Types] Finally, what manner of men and women they were who
peopled the England that Shakespeare knew, we can see from the men and
women whom Shakespeare drew. The types manifest themselves; the normal and
the exceptional are readily distinguishable. The normal type is keen of
wit, impulsive; it is observable for instance that both men and women
habitually--almost invariably--fall in love unreservedly at first sight;
generous for the most part; in action prompt and more often than not
over-hasty, but resourceful--the women more resourceful than the men. It is
a commonplace of course to remark that his types are types for all time;
but different types are more prevalent at one time than another, and the
inference is that Shakespeare's prevalent types were the prevalent ones of
his own day. Hamlet, Brutus, Cleopatra, belonged to eternal but not to
normal types; Hotspur and Mercutio, Rosalind and Cordelia--even if the
latter were glorified examples--were obviously normal. For in play after
play, whether as leading or as minor characters, they recur again and
again; and more than that we find the same characteristics--presented no
doubt with less incisiveness and less brilliancy--reappearing in the
Dramatis Personae of the whole Elizabethan group. Such were the gentlemen
of England who fought the Spaniard and overthrew him; such were their
sisters and their wives.
ELIZABETH (xiii), 1558-1603--ASPECTS OF THE REIGN
[Sidenote: Features of the Reign]
The reign of Elizabeth may be said to have been distinguished primarily by
three leading features. The first is the development and establishment of
England as the greatest maritime power in the world, a process which has
been traced with some fulness. The second is that sudden and amazing
outburst of literary genius in the latter half, and mainly in the last
quarter, of the reign, for which there is no historical parallel except in
Athens, unless once again we find it in England two centuries later:
whereof the last few pages have treated. The third is the Ecclesiastical
settlement, on which it has hitherto been possible only to touch. This,
with certain other aspects of the reign, remain for discussion in this
[Sidenote: State and Church]
In this settlement, the primary fundamental fact, politically speaking--
for theological problems do not fall within our range--is the recognition
by the State of the Church as an aspect of the body politic, and of her
organisation as a branch of the body politic, subject to the control of the
Sovereign and maintained by the sanction of the Sovereign's supremacy;
precluding the interference of any external authority, and overriding any
claims to independent authority on the part of the organisation itself;
requiring from all members of the body politic conformity, under penalties,
to the institutions thus regulated, and rejection of any authority running
counter thereto. The secondary fact is that the State thus sanctioned such
institutions as, under a reasonable liberty of interpretation, might be
accepted without a severe strain of conscience by persons holding opinions
of considerable diversity; so that conformity should be possible to the
great bulk of the nation, including many who might not in theory admit the
right of the State to a voice in the matter at all.
The politicians, that is, deliberately chose a _via media_.
Theologically, the dividing line lay between those who desired the Mass and
reunion with Rome, and those who rejected the Mass and derived their dogmas
from Geneva. Under Mary, the Government had thrown itself on the side of
the former; under Edward, mainly on that of the latter. Elizabeth's
Government would have neither. It would not admit the papal claim to
override the secular authority, or the equally dictatorial claims of the
Genevan ministry as exemplified by John Knox; the first necessity for it
was to assert secular supremacy, the second to make its definitions of
dogma sufficiently ambiguous to be reconcilable with the dogmatic scruples
of the majority of both parties; with the result however of shutting out
both determined Romanists and determined Calvinists, while the Church thus
regulated contained two parties, one with conservative, the other with
The outward note of Conservative churchmen was insistence on ceremonial
observances, as that of the advanced men was dislike of them. But as the
reign advanced, another feature acquires prominence--the protest of the
Puritans against the Episcopalian system of Church Government, with the
correspondingly increased emphasis laid on the vital necessity of that
system by the Conservatives.
[Sidenote: The State and the Catholics]
The Queen's personal predilections were at all times on the Conservative
side; those of her principal advisers always leaned towards the Puritans--
at the first Cecil, Bacon, and Elizabeth's own kinsmen, Knollys and
Hunsdon; then Walsingham, drawing Leicester with him. But in the early
years of her rule, when it was imperative to minimise all possible causes
of discontent, the admission of the largest possible latitude in practice
was required, even if it was accompanied by legislation which gave
authority for restrictive action. It followed however from the political
conditions that direct hostility to the Queen was to be feared only from
the Catholics--the whole body of those who would have liked to see the old
religion restored in its entirety. This was emphasized by the Papal Bull
excommunicating Elizabeth in 1570--a political blunder on the part of the
Pope which greatly annoyed and embarrassed Philip at the time. The result,
joined with the Northern Rising, the Ridolfi plot, and the indignation
aroused by the day of St. Bartholomew, was to strengthen the hands of the
Puritans and to give open Catholicism the character of a political offence;
and to this an enormously increased force was added in 1581 by the Jesuit
mission. During these years, parliaments were all unfailingly and
increasingly Puritan, and Puritanism was steadily making way all over the
country, not without the favour of the leading divines. Elizabeth herself
viewed this tendency with extreme dislike, mercilessly snubbing bishops and
others who seemed to betray inclinations in this direction--Grindal in
particular, Parker's successor at Canterbury, suffered from her
displeasure; but she could not suppress it. She might--and did--say a good
deal; but she could not in act go nearly as far as she would have wished,
in opposition to subjects whose political loyalty was indisputable, as well
as extremely necessary to her security.
[Sidenote: The Church and the Puritans]
So long as the advanced movement concerned itself chiefly with the
"Vestiarian Controversy" and matters of ceremonial observance, it did not
assume primary importance in the eyes of politicians. But by the middle of
the reign the question of the form of Church Government had come to the
front, and the demand to substitute the Presbyterian system for the
Episcopalian was being put forward by Cartwright and his followers and had
even produced a Presbyterian organisation within the Church. Moreover the
school commonly called Brownists, who developed into the sect of
Independents, were propounding the theory that the Church consisted not of
the whole nation but only of the Elect. Puritanism was therefore
threatening to become directly subversive of the established order. Then
came the mission of Parsons and Campian. The effect of this in regard to
Catholics was twofold. It necessitated an increased severity in dealing
with any one who recognised papal authority: and made it more imperative
than ever to induce Catholics to be reconciled with the State Church, by
emphasizing the Catholic side of her institutions, and consequently by
checking Puritan developments. On the other side, it was so obviously
impossible for the Puritans to withdraw their loyalty from Elizabeth that
to conciliate them was superfluous; they were adopting an attitude
antagonistic to the approved constitution of the Church; and there was a
suggestion of rigid even-handed justice in waging war upon their propaganda
at the same time as on that of Rome. Whitgift, succeeding Grindal at
Canterbury in 1583, opened the campaign against Puritanism--not indeed with
the favour either of parliament or of the leading statesmen, whose personal
sympathies were with the advanced party, but manifestly with encouragement
from the Queen.
[Sidenote: Archbishop Whitgift]
Whitgift's own attitude was that of the Disciplinarian rather than of the
theologian. The method of operation was by the issue of Fifteen Articles to
which all the clergy were required to subscribe: the sanction thereof being
the authority of the Court of High Commission. Under the Act of Supremacy
of 1559, the appointment of a Commission to enforce obedience to the law in
matters ecclesiastical had been authorised. This Court was fully
constituted in December 1583, and proceeded by methods which Burghley
himself held to be too inquisitorial. A good deal of indignation was
aroused, and the Puritans were in effect made more aggressive, their
attacks on the existing system culminating in 1589 in the distinctly
scurrilous "Martin Mar-prelate" tracts, which were so violent as to
produce a marked reaction. This on the one side, coupled with the partly
genuine and partly mythical plots of the ultra-Catholics on the other,
brought about sharp legislation in 1593, resulting in an increased
persecution of the Catholics after that time, and in the compulsory
withdrawal of the extreme nonconformists to the more sympathetic atmosphere
of the Netherlands. At the same time the "High" theory of the Church's
authority was formulated by Bancroft (afterwards Archbishop), and what may
be called the Constitutional theory of Church Government was propounded in
the _Ecclesiastical Polity_ of Hooker. All of this was the prologue to
the great controversy which was to acquire such prominence under the
[Sidenote: The Persecutions]
In writing of the persecutions under Elizabeth alike of Catholics and of
Puritans, it is not uncommon to imply that the political argument in their
defence was a mere pretext with a theological motive. As a matter of fact
however, the distinction between Elizabeth's and Mary's persecutions is a
real one. Broadly speaking, it is now the universally received view that no
man ought to be penalised on the score of opinions conscientiously held,
however erroneous they may be; but that if those opinions find expression
in anti-social acts, the acts must be punished. Punishment of opinions is
rightly branded as persecution. Now although in effect not a few persons,
Puritans or Catholics, were put to death by Elizabeth, and many more
imprisoned or fined--as they would have said themselves, for Conscience'
sake--this was the distinction specifically recognised by her; which,
without justifying her persecutions, differentiates them from those of her
predecessors. Henry and Mary frankly and avowedly burnt victims for holding
wrong opinions--for Heresy. Anabaptism no doubt was accounted a social as
well as a theological crime; but no one ever dreamed of regarding Ann Ascue
or Frith as politically dangerous. Mary kindled the fires of Smithfield for
the salvation of souls, not for the safety of her throne. Whereas the
foundation of Elizabeth's persecutions was that _opinions_ as such
were of no consequence: but that people who would not conform their
_conduct_ to her regulations must either be potential traitors
politically or anarchists socially. Her proceedings are brought into the
category of persecutions, because she treated potential anarchism or
treason as implying overt anarchism or treason, though unless and until she
discovered such implication in a given opinion, any one was at liberty to
hold it or not as he chose; its truth or falsity was a matter of entire
indifference. To punish the implied intention of committing a wrong act is
sufficiently dangerous in principle; but it is to be distinguished from
punishment for holding an opinion because it is accounted a false one.
Finally, while we must condemn her persecution both of Puritans and of
Catholics alike, it is only fair, in comparing her with her predecessor, to
remember that, in the five and forty years of her reign, the whole number
of persons who suffered death as Catholics or as Anabaptists was
considerably less than the number of the Martyrs in four years of Mary's
[Sidenote: Economic progress]
By adopting Cecil's ecclesiastical policy of the _via media_,
Elizabeth saved England from the internecine religious strife which almost
throughout her reign made the political action of France so
inefficient. The constant wars of the Huguenots with the Leaguers or their
predecessors had their counterpart for Philip also, whose struggle with the
Netherlanders was to a great extent in the nature of a civil war. Fully
realising how seriously both France and Spain were hampered by these
complications, she was able to conduct her diplomatic manoeuvres with an
audacity quite as remarkable as her duplicity, gauging to a nicety the
carrying capacity of the very thin ice over which she was constantly
skating. Thus while both those Powers were perpetually exhausting their
resources and draining their exchequers with costly wars, England, free
from any similar strain, was rapidly growing in wealth; and while the
national expenditure was kept comparatively low, manufactures were
multiplied, and the commerce which was driven by the stress of war from the
great trade-centres of the Netherlands was being absorbed by English ports.
Moreover that forcible trading indulged in by John Hawkins in the earlier
ventures of the reign--giving place, as time went on to the process of
systematic preying upon Spanish treasure--provided very substantial
dividends for the Queen, as well as filling the pockets of her loyal
subjects. Thus again she was able to avoid making perpetual demands on her
parliaments, and when demands were made the parliaments could usually meet
them in a generous and ungrudging spirit.
[Sidenote: The currency; Retrenchment]
Nevertheless, no little financial skill and courage were required to
restore the public credit which had fallen to such disastrous depths in the
two preceding reigns; and this was done to a large extent by a policy of
determined financial honesty. The miserable system of debasing the coinage
was brought to an end; the current coins were called in and paid for at not
much under their actual value in silver, and the new coins issued were of
their face value. Debts contracted by Government were punctually paid, and
as an immediate consequence the Government soon found itself able to borrow
at reasonable instead of ruinous rates of interest. Private prosperity and
public confidence advanced so swiftly that before Elizabeth had been a
dozen years on the throne substantial loans could be raised at home without
applying to foreign sources. Elizabeth never spent a penny of public money
without good reason; sometimes--as in Ireland habitually, and to some
degree at the time of the Armada though not so seriously as is commonly
reputed--her parsimony amounted to false economy; often it took on a
pettifogging character in her dealings with the Dutch, with the Huguenots,
and with the Scots, though in the last case at least it must be admitted
that either party was equally ready to overreach the other if the chance
offered. But for very many years a very close economy was absolutely
essential if debts were to be paid. That economy was facilitated by the
lavish expenditure of prominent men on public objects; due partly to a
desire for display, partly--at least in the case of the buccaneering
enterprises--to bold speculation in the hope of large profits, but partly
also beyond question to a very live public spirit. Yet when every allowance
has been made for the assistance from such sources, it remains clear that
Elizabeth's resources were husbanded with great skill, and her government
carried on with a surprisingly small expenditure; that expenditure being on
the whole very judiciously directed--so that, for instance, the royal navy,
at least throughout the latter half of the reign, was maintained in a very
creditable state of efficiency; though the number of the ships was not
large, and the organisation proved inadequate, when the crisis came, to
meet all the demands of the seamen.
[Sidenote: Wealth and Poverty]
The general prosperity however was not due to any notable advance in
official Economics. What it owed to the Government was the immense
improvement in public credit brought about by the restored coinage, and the
punctual repayment of loans and settlement of debts, coupled with
confidence in a steady rule and freedom from costly wars. Trade did indeed
greatly benefit by the enlightened action of the State in encouraging the
settlement in England of craftsmen from the Netherlands, with the
consequent development of the industries they practised and taught. But the
vital fact of the enormously increased wealth of the country must be
attributed to the energy and initiative of the merchants and the
adventurers in taking advantage of the new fields opened to them, of the
displacement of trade by the wars on the Continent, and of the exposure of
foreign, especially but not exclusively Spanish, shipping to depredation.
How far this increased wealth benefited the labouring classes is a moot
question. It would seem on the whole that the process of converting arable
land into pasture which had been going on all through the century was
already becoming less active even in the first years of the reign, and had
reached its limit some while before the Armada. As the displacement of
labour diminished, fixity and regularity of employment increased, while the
labour already displaced was gradually absorbed by the rapid growth of
manufactures. This may perhaps in some degree explain the almost
unaccountably sudden cessation of laments over agricultural depression.
Still, the effective wage earned tended to drop: that is, although wages
rose when measured in terms of the currency, that rise did not keep pace
with the advance in prices, the influx of silver into Europe diminishing
its purchasing power. Hence the old problem of dealing with poverty in its
two forms--honest inability to work and dishonest avoidance of work--
remained acute. There was always a humane desire that the deserving poor
should be assisted, and an equally strong sentiment in favour of punishing
rogues and vagabonds--persons who declined to dig but were not ashamed to
beg; with perhaps an excessive inclination to assume that wherever there
was a doubt the delinquent should not have the benefit of it. The savagery
however of the earlier Tudor laws against vagabonds was mitigated, and
honest efforts were made to find a substitute for the old relief of genuine
poverty by the Monasteries. This took in the first place the form of
enactments for the local collection of voluntary contributions to
relief-funds; and culminated in the Acts of the last five years of the
reign, substituting compulsory for voluntary contribution, and establishing
that Poor-law system which remained substantially unchanged until its
reformation in the nineteenth century.
[Sidenote: Trade Restrictions and Development]
The idea that Governments do well not to interfere with the natural unaided
operation of economic laws had not yet come into being; and attempts,
mainly futile, to control wages and to force labour into particular
channels, continued. In one direction however the artificial encouragement
of one industry may have had a beneficial effect. Navigation laws tended,
_per se_, to check general commerce; but they gave a stimulus to the
English marine at a time when its rapid development was of the utmost
national importance; not directly increasing the interchange of commodities
as a whole, but encouraging the English carrying-trade, and advancing the
growth of the sea-power which made a more extended commerce possible; and
thus indirectly counterbalancing the direct ill effects. It is possible
even to find some defence for one aspect of Monopolies. The granting of a
monopoly of trade in particular regions--Russia, Guinea, the Levant, the
East Indies--to Companies of merchants, had a definite justification.
Individual private competitors could not conduct the trade on a large
scale; large corporations, secured against rivals, could face the risks and
the heavy expenditure requisite to success, and could be granted a liberty
of action, being left to their own responsibilities, which was
impracticable for the private trader. Amongst these, very much the most
notable is the great East India Company which was incorporated on the last
day of December 1600. Here, its birth only is to be chronicled; its history
belongs to the ensuing centuries. But the bestowal on individuals of the
monopoly of trade in particular articles by the Royal privilege was
manifestly bad in itself; it became so serious an abuse that a determined
parliamentary attack was made on the system in 1597; and even then
Elizabeth found it necessary to promise enquiry. Nothing practical however
was done, and the parliament of 1601 returned to the charge with such
obvious justification that the Queen very promptly and graciously promised
to abolish the grievance, and thanked the Commons for directing her
attention to the matter.
We have already in a previous chapter followed in the wake of adventurous
voyagers and explorers prior to the Armada, and recorded the first
disastrous experimental efforts towards colonisation; but, in dealing
specifically with the seamen, we passed by overland explorations such as
those of Jenkinson, who during the first decade of Elizabeth's reign
journeyed through Russia, and into Asia over the Caspian sea. More
momentous still in its results was the Eastern expedition of Newbery and
Fitch; who starting in 1583 went through Syria to Ormuz, and were thence
conveyed to Goa, the Portuguese head-quarters on the West coast of India.
Fitch remained longer than his chief, visiting Golconda, Agra (the seat of
the Great Mogul Akbar), Bengal, Pegu, Malacca, and Ceylon, and bringing
home in 1591 stories of India and its wealth, which were in no small degree
responsible for the formation, in 1599, of the Association which was next
year incorporated as the East India Company.
[Sidenote: Maritime expansion]
After the Armada, the sea-faring spirit was naturally even intensified. To
a great extent however it was absorbed in privateering--which combined with
its attractions in the way of mere adventure the advantages of being
profitable, patriotic, and pious. In connexion with the direct scheme of
colonial settlements, we have only Raleigh's two unsuccessful relief
expeditions to Virginia conducted by White and Mace, and the attempt, also
unsuccessful, to start a colony in what afterwards became New England,
under Bartholomew Gosnold in 1602. More striking, but belonging to a
somewhat different category, was Raleigh's own voyage to the Orinoco, in
search of Eldorado and the golden city of Manoa; disappointing in its
results, but ably conducted and from the point of view of explorers, as
such, by no means unfruitful. Equally noteworthy are the two great voyages
of James Lancaster, who was the first English captain to reach the Indian
seas by the Cape route (1592), and in 1601 sailed thither again in command
of the first fleet of the new Association of East India Merchants, and
opened up for his countrymen the trade with the Spice Islands. But except
for this second voyage of Lancaster's, a very real and definite achievement
in the history of commercial expansion, the voyages of the day, full of
brilliant exploits in the annals of seamanship and of adventure, and
collectively marking an epoch in England's oceanic development, were not
individually notable for specific results.
[Sidenote: The Constitution]
Constitutional theory does not appear to have differed in the reigns of
Henry VIII. and his great daughter. The monarch's will was supreme; but the
people could give expression to its will through Parliament when in
session. The practical rule, however, which prevented any collision between
the two forces, was that both monarchs kept a careful finger on the pulse
of the nation. Like her father, Elizabeth never allowed herself to set a
strong popular feeling at defiance. She desired that her people should be
prosperous and free, though she objected to their interference in the
conduct of political affairs; she desired that within the realm of England
order should be maintained and the law strictly administered. If practices
inconsistent with the liberty of the subject prevailed, they were applied
only to persons who were assumed by herself, her ministers, and the bulk of
their fellow-subjects, to have placed themselves outside the pale. The
ministers who carried out her will avoided the arbitrary methods of Wolsey
and Cromwell, whose master had preserved his own popularity by making
scape-goats of them when their unpopularity ran too high, squaring his
account with the People at their expense. Elizabeth never found it
necessary to square her account with the People, whose hearts vibrated in
sympathy with her essential loyalty to them. Few of them probably shared
her views on the sanctity of crowned heads as such, which amounted almost
to a superstition; but the country was pervaded with a passionate loyalty
to the person of its Queen. On the other side, the record of her
Parliaments shows that freedom of speech was making way, though she would
not formally admit the principle: while the Parliaments cared much less
about its formal admission than its practical prevalence. She snubbed the
persistent Puritans for their obstinate oratory on the ecclesiastical and
matrimonial questions, but they managed to have their say (which she
ostensibly ignored), without suffering more than sharp reprimands and
occasional detention in ward; and that contented them. Like Henry, she
recognised that the one thing Parliaments would not endure was taxation
without their own consent. On one occasion when she found she could do
without a grant she had asked for and obtained, she remitted it; the
harmony of mutual confidence ensured the readier co-operation.
Parliament under Elizabeth gave not infrequent proof that it was tenacious
of what it held to be its privileges: as the Queen showed that she was
tenacious of what she considered her prerogatives. But each, without
abating their right, or prejudicing their theoretical claim, was willing to
make practical concession to the other in action. It was only in the
closing years of the reign that abstract Theories of the State began to be
formulated--a process which became exceedingly active in the next century,
when kings and parliaments began to take diametrically conflicting views of
political exigencies. Under Elizabeth, all such discussions were purely
academic; under the Stuarts, they became actively practical. For the
Stuarts, unlike Elizabeth, recklessly challenged popular opposition
precisely on the points as to which popular opinion was most sensitive.
Harmony gave way to discord, co-operation to antagonism; collision and
disaster followed--"red ruin and the breaking up of laws".
[Sidenote: The Elizabethans]
The popular judgment which has glorified the reign of Elizabeth as perhaps
the most splendid period in the annals of England can be endorsed, without
ignoring the defects in the character of the Queen, her Ministers, her
Courtiers, or her People. A new day had dawned upon the world; new
possibilities, vast and undefined, were presenting themselves; new thoughts
were possessing the minds of men; new blood was throbbing in their veins.
The English race was awaking to a sense of its powers, grasping with a
splendid audacity at the mighty heritage whose full import was yet
unrealised. The Elizabethans were, as a nation, triumphing in the first
glow of exuberant and healthy youth: with the faults of youth as well as
its virtues. Sheer delight in the exercise of physical energies, in
perilous adventure for its own sake irrespective of ulterior ends, in the
keen encounter of wit, in the bold fabric-building of imagination,
characterised the Elizabethan as they characterised the
_Marathonomachoi_ two thousand years before; as the Athens of Salamis
was the mother of Aeschylus and Sophocles, so the England of the Armada was
the mother of Marlowe and Shakespeare and Spenser.
The typical Elizabethan, the man who presents in his own person the most
marked characteristics that belong to his time, is Sir Walter Raleigh. His
was the large imagination which conceived a new and expanding England
beyond the seas; the broad grasp of ideas which made him a leading exponent
of the theory of the Oceanic policy and the new naval methods; the ready
practicality which made him, after Drake's day, perhaps the ablest of
Elizabeth's captains; the versatility and culture, which place him securely
in the second flight of the writers of the time; the breadth of
intellectual outlook which caused his enemies to call him an atheist,
coupled with an actual sincerity of belief; boundless energy, daring,
ambition. His too were the fiery temper and the contemptuous arrogance
which made him at one time the best-hated man in England outside a narrow
circle of devoted admirers; while for all his pride he could match Hatton
himself in preposterous adulation of the Queen. He could be as chivalrous
as Sidney, and as merciless as an Inquisitor: he could be gorgeously
extravagant, or the veriest Spartan, as circumstances demanded. He was in
brief the epitome of Elizabeth's England: a figure assuredly very far from
godlike but no less assuredly heroic.
It may be doubted if ever the _joie de vivre_ was so generally
prevalent in England as in those spacious days. Such a national mood is in
danger of being followed by a lapse into an effeminate hedonism, from which
England as a whole was saved by the antagonistic development of the
essentially masculine if crude puritanism, whose vital spirit had already
begun to take possession of a large proportion of the population without as
yet evicting paganism. Under this at present secondary impulse,
attributable very largely to the new familiarity with the Old Testament
engendered by the translation of the Bible, men quickly learnt to look upon
themselves as the chosen people of the Lord of Sabaoth who gave them the
victory over their enemies, and to whom with entire sincerity they gave the
glory; while they found a satisfying warrant in the Scriptures for spoiling
the Egyptians and smiting the Amalekites, symbolising specifically the
Spaniards and the Irish. The particular aspect of Puritanism which belongs
to rigid Calvinism, in all its grim austerity, was confined so far to a
very limited section: for the majority an extensive biblical vocabulary was
consistent with a thorough appreciation of virile carnal enjoyments: the
dourness of John Knox hardly infected the neighbouring country. For the
most part, even the intolerance of the age was not that born of religious
fanaticism, but was the normal outcome of a full-blooded self-confidence.
The Elizabethans are apt to startle us by a display of apparently callous
cruelty at one moment, and an almost reckless generosity at the next. They
slaughtered the garrison of Smerwick in cold blood, and treated the
vanquished at Cadiz with a chivalrous consideration which amazed its
recipients. They kidnapped the sons of Ham from Africa for lucre; with the
"Indians" of South and Central America they were always on excellent terms,
and the Californians proffered divine honours to Francis Drake. These are
paradoxes precisely similar in kind to those which so often puzzle amiable
and mature observers of the British schoolboy to-day. Broadly, they were
governed by instincts and impulses rather than by reasoned ethical theory,
instincts occasionally barbaric but for the most part frank and generous;
and they were sturdily loyal to the somewhat primitive code of right and
wrong which was the outcome.
[Sidenote 1: The Queen's Ministers]
[Sidenote 2: The Queen]
These qualities, joined with an indomitable audacity and an eminently
practical shrewdness, were characteristic of the men who were the hand and
heart of England. Other qualities were needed for the brains which had to
direct her policy; the patient common sense of Burghley, the keen
penetration of Walsingham, the solid shrewdness of Nicholas Bacon, _vir
pietate gravis_. The craftiness of the younger Cecil, the time-serving
of Francis Bacon, mark a lower type of politician; not rare perhaps in
Elizabeth's time, but not generally characteristic among her servants. To
draw full value, however, from the capacities of those statesmen, a monarch
of exceptional ability was needed. It was the peculiar note of Elizabeth's
dealings with her ministers that having once realised their essential
merits, she never withdrew her confidence. She flouted, insulted and
browbeat them when their advice ran counter to her caprices; but no man
suffered in the long run for standing up to her, however she might be
irritated. Nor can we attribute this to such a loyalty of disposition on
her part as marked her rival Mary alone among Stuarts: to whom such
baseness as she displayed in her treatment of Davison would have been
impossible. Elizabeth had no sort of compunction in making scape-goats of
such men as he. But she knew the men who could not be replaced, a faculty
rare in princes; she would never have deserted a Strafford as did Mary's
grandson. She drove Burghley and Walsingham almost to despair by her
caprices; but if she overrode their judgment, it was not to displace them
for other advisers more congenial to her mood, but to take affairs into her
own hands, and manipulate them with a cool defiance of apparent
probabilities, a duplicity so audacious that it passed for a kind of
sincerity, which gave her successes the appearance of being due to an
almost supernatural good luck. Histrionics were her stock-in-trade: she was
eternally playing a part, and playing it with such zest that she habitually
cheated her neighbours, and occasionally, for the time being, even herself,
into forgetting that her role was merely assumed for ulterior purposes.
When a crisis was reached where there was no further use for play-acting,
she was again the shrewd practical ruler who had merely been masked as the
comedienne. Other queens have been great by the display of intellectual
qualities commonly accounted masculine, or of virtues recognised as the
special glories of their own sex; Elizabeth had the peculiar ingenuity
deliberately to employ feminine weakness, incomprehensibility, and caprice,
as the most bafflingly effective weapons in her armoury.
A noble woman she was not. The miracle of virtues and charms depicted by
courtiers and poets existed, if she did exist at all, entirely in their
exuberant imaginations. She could be indecently coarse and intolerably
mean; she could lie with unblushing effrontery; her vanity was inordinate.
But voracious as she was of flattery it never misled her; she could
appreciate in others the virtues she herself lacked; behind the screen of
capriciousness, an intellect was ever at work as cool and calculating as
her grandfather's, as hard and resolute as her father's. To understand her
People was her first aim, to make them great was her ultimate ambition. And
she achieved both.
i. Contemporary Rulers, 1475-1542.
ii. Do. do., 1542-1603.
iii. Genealogy of Lennox Stewarts.
iv. Genealogy of Howards and Boleyns.
v. House of Habsburg.
vi. Houses of Valois and Bourbon.
vii. House of Guise.
B. Claims to the English Throne.
C. The Queen of Scots.
CLAIMS TO THE THRONE
CLAIMANTS TO THE CROWN OF ENGLAND
ACTUAL OR POTENTIAL; FROM 1485 TO 1603
When Henry of Richmond was hailed king of England on Bosworth Field, the
principles and the practice of succession to the English throne were in a
state of chaos; as far as hereditary right is concerned, his claim could
hardly have been weaker. The titles both of his son and grandson were
indisputable. Those of Mary and of Elizabeth were both questionable. From
Elizabeth's accession to her death, it was uncertain who would succeed her.
Accordingly, in the reign of Henry VII. we find actual pretenders put
forward, and potential ones suspected and punished. No attempt was ever
made to challenge Henry VIII. or Edward VI.: but there were sundry
executions on the hypothesis of a treasonous intent to grasp at the crown,
in the reign of the former. Lady Jane Grey was set up against Mary, and
Elizabeth herself was under suspicion in that reign. Against Elizabeth,
Mary Stewart's title was constantly urged; after the death of the Queen of
Scots, Philip of Spain set up a claim on his own account; and at different
times, the claims to the succession of a large variety of candidates were
canvassed. It has seemed advisable therefore to give a complete
genealogical table, which appears at the beginning of this volume: and the
following summary, for convenient reference.
It was perfectly certain that whoever was rightful king or queen of England
in 1485, Richard III. was personally a usurper who had secured the throne
by murdering the king and his brother, and setting aside his other nieces
and nephew, the children of his elder brothers of the House of York. They
however were not in a position to assert themselves. If therefore the
representative of the rival House of Lancaster could succeed in deposing
the usurper, he would thereby create a claim for himself, beyond that of
heredity, as the man who had released the nation from the tyrant; as Henry
IV. had done. If he married the heiress of York, the two would unite the
hereditary claims of the rival Houses, and the title of their offspring
would be technically indisputable.
Through his mother, Henry Tudor was now the acknowledged representative of
the House of Lancaster. On the assumption--for which there was no
indisputable precedent--that a woman could succeed in person, his mother
had the prior title, but since she did not appear as a claimant that
technical difficulty could be passed over. On the like assumption, the
Princess Elizabeth represented the House of York. Henry thus stood for the
one House, the Princess Elizabeth for the other. Henry deposed and killed
Richard. As soon as Elizabeth was his wife, and while both he and she
lived, no one living could with much plausibility assert a prior
claim. Henry's own personal claim however would continue disputable (though
not his children's) in the event of his wife's demise; therefore, to
strengthen his position, he sought and obtained the ratification of his own
title by parliament before marrying Elizabeth, so as to have a sort of
legal claim independent of her.
Still, until the sons of this union should be old enough to maintain their
own rights in person, there remained the obvious possibility that the
claims of a male member of the House of York might be asserted: the male
members living being Warwick, and, through their mother, his De la Pole
Now the hereditary claim of the House of Lancaster, descending from John of
Gaunt, the fourth son of Edward III., required _ab initio_ the
assumption that descent must be in direct male line; for if succession
through the female line were recognised, the House of York had the prior
claim, as descending through females from Lionel of Clarence third son of
Edward III. But when Henry VI. and his son were both dead, there was left
no representative of John of Gaunt in direct male line. The only male
Plantagenet remaining was young Warwick, son of George of Clarence, of the
House of York; Plantagenet in virtue of his descent, in unbroken male line,
not from Lionel of Clarence but from Edmund of York, fifth son of Edward
Thus, except on the hypothesis that the settlement of 1399 had excluded the
entire House of York from the succession, no Lancastrian claim could hold
water, technically. Granting succession through females, Elizabeth was the
heir; denying it, Warwick was the heir.
Although accepted as the sole possible representative of John of Gaunt, and
therefore of the House of Lancaster, Henry Tudor's claim to that position
lay only in the female line, through his Beaufort blood. This title was the
more ineffective because the Beauforts themselves were the illegitimate
offspring of John of Gaunt by Katharine Swynford, and had only been
legitimated by Act of Parliament under Richard II.; while even that
legitimation had been rendered invalid, as concerned succession to the
throne, by the Act of Henry IV. which in other respects confirmed it.
Nevertheless although there were other indubitably legitimate descendants
of John of Gaunt living, no claim on behalf of any of them was put forward
till a full century had elapsed. The royal House of Portugal sprang from
the second and that of Castile from the third daughter of Lancaster; so
that after the death of Mary Stewart, Philip II. of Spain, posing as their
representative, claimed the inheritance, ignoring the superior title of his
cousin Katharine of Braganza. But in 1485, the title of any alien would
have been flatly repudiated by the whole country. There remained only in
England, descending through his mother from John of Gaunt's eldest
daughter, a young Neville who had just succeeded to the Earldom of
Westmorland; whose line was extinguished in the person of the Earl who took
part in the Northern rising of 1569. This branch however appears to have
been completely ignored from first to last.
The vital fact remained, that Henry was the representative, acknowledged on
all hands, of the House of Lancaster. He claimed the throne on that ground,
ratified the claim on the field of Bosworth, and confirmed it by a
Parliamentary title. The Plantagenet Princess, he married: their offspring
combined the titles of the two Houses. The Plantagenet Earl was shut up in
the Tower, and finally perished on the scaffold without offspring.
The accession of Henry was bound politically, in spite of his marriage, to
have the effect of a Lancastrian victory. The extreme Yorkist partisans,
who could always find asylum and encouragement with Margaret of Burgundy,
were not likely to be satisfied with such a result; but they had nothing
approaching a case for anyone except the young Earl of Warwick, a prisoner
in the Tower. Hence the first attempt was to put forward a fictitious
Warwick, Lambert Simnel. This scheme collapsed at the battle of Stoke. Then
it was that the Yorkists fell back on the resuscitation of Richard of York,
murdered in the Tower with Edward V. If he was alive, his title could not
be seriously challenged. So he was brought to life in the person of Perkin
Warbeck. When Warwick and Perkin were both dead, there was no one to fall
back on but the De la Poles of Suffolk; since at this stage the two senior
Yorkist branches--the Courtenays of Devon, and the Poles (a quite different
family from the De la Poles) could not be erected into dangerous
candidates. [See _Frontispiece._] The claims of the Courtenays would
derive from the younger daughter of Edward IV.: those of the Poles from the
Countess of Salisbury, Warwick's sister: those of the De la Poles from
Elizabeth, sister of Edward IV.
Under Henry VIII., there was no claim which could stand against the king's
own. But in the course of his reign, he found it convenient to put out of
the way Buckingham, who was not only (like the Tudors) of Beaufort blood
but also traced descent from Thomas, sixth son of Edward III.; and
twenty-five years later his grandson Surrey: also the heads of the De la
Poles, the Poles, and the Courtenays.
Edward succeeded his father as a matter of course, being his one
indubitably legitimate son. But who was to follow Edward? Henry had two
daughters, born ostensibly in wedlock. But the marriages of both mothers
had been pronounced void by the courts. _Prima facie_ therefore, the
succession went first to the offspring of Henry's eldest sister Margaret;
but these might be ruled out as aliens. Next it would go to the offspring
of his younger sister Mary, the Brandons, of whom the senior was Frances
Grey; who however gave place (as Margaret of Richmond had done for Henry
VII.) to her daughter Lady Jane. It will thus be seen that Lady Jane had
technically a respectable title. It left out of count however that the
Lennox Stewarts, the offspring of Margaret Tudor by her second marriage,
were English as well as Scottish subjects and therefore not barred as
But, in spite of the ruling of the Courts, no one who believed in the Papal
authority could admit that Mary Tudor was illegitimate. Again both she and
Elizabeth were the children of unions entered on in _bona fides,_ and
only invalidated subsequently on technical grounds: grounds, in the one
case, inadequate in the eyes of the Roman Church, and in the other never
made public. Hence; although it is perfectly clear that if Katharine was
Henry's lawful spouse, the marriage with Anne was bigamous and its
offspring illegitimate, whereas, if Anne was Henry's lawful spouse then the
marriage with Katharine was void from the beginning and its offspring
illegitimate--that is, while both Mary and Elizabeth might be illegitimate,
it was quite impossible that both should be legitimate--yet the advantages
of setting the whole problem on one side by acknowledging the right of each
to the succession, in order, were obvious. And this was done by the Will of
Henry VIII. to which Parliament by anticipation gave the validity of a
Mary then succeeded Edward, and Elizabeth succeeded Mary, in virtue of
their recognition under Henry's will.
On Elizabeth's accession then; the validity of Henry's Will being admitted,
no other title could stand against that instrument, and the Brandon branch
would succeed in priority to the Stewarts. But evidently it could be argued
that no instrument whatever could confer priority on an illegitimate heir
over a legitimate one; or on a junior over a senior branch; and since no
secular authority had power to annul the marriage between Henry and
Katharine, nothing after Mary Tudor's death could set aside the title of
Mary Stewart. Mary might accede to an arrangement as a matter of policy,
but she could not abrogate her right, or admit that she was barred as an
alien. On the other hand, the Greys might be pushed forward under the Will
as heirs, in opposition to Mary; but they could not be seriously upheld as
rivals to Elizabeth herself; and the same applied to the living
representatives of the Poles, the Earl of Huntingdon and Arthur Pole. There
were now no De la Poles, nor Courtenays.
With Mary Stewart as the only possible figure-head for a revolt, Elizabeth
had no disposition to strengthen her position by acknowledging her as heir
presumptive, since that would be an immediate incentive to her own
assassination by Mary's adherents, who would be anxious to secure their
candidate against the possible appearance of an heir apparent. It was safer
to leave the question of her successor an open one, so that any overt act
in favour of any particular candidate would be tolerably certain to recoil
on that candidate's head. Therefore Elizabeth would acknowledge neither
Mary nor another, though it can hardly be doubted that she did herself look
upon the royal Stewarts as the rightful claimants, throughout her reign.
But when the Queen of Scots was dead, the Catholics were at once in want of
a Catholic candidate. James of Scotland was a Protestant: so was Arabella,
representing the Lennox Stewarts; so were Katharine Grey and her husband
Lord Hertford (the son of the old Protector Somerset); so was their son.
Lord Beauchamp; Huntingdon, the Pole representative, was a Protestant too.
The Countess of Derby, like Katharine Grey, was a grandchild of Mary
Brandon; but the Stanleys, though Catholics, rejected all overtures. As
Elizabeth's end approached, various schemes were no doubt propounded for
marrying Arabella to a Catholic, even to Beauchamp on the understanding
that both were in due time to declare themselves Catholics. But the
immediate result of Mary Stewart's death was that Philip of Spain entered
the field as the Catholic candidate, as tracing descent from John of Gaunt
through both his father and his mother. Later, his daughter Isabella was
From the legitimist point of view however the title of James of Scotland
was indisputable. The stroke of deliberate policy by which Henry VII. had
mated his eldest daughter to the Scots King James IV. bore its fruit when,
precisely a hundred years later, the crowns of England and Scotland were
united by the accession of Margaret's great-grandson to the southern
THE QUEEN OF SCOTS
The life of Mary Tudor has been in its place described as supremely tragic;
that of Mary Stewart presents a tragedy not greater but more dramatic--
whatever view we may take of her guilt or innocence with regard to Darnley,
to Bothwell, to the conspirators who would fain have made her Queen of
England. Of the misdeeds laid to her charge, that of unchastity has no
colourable evidence except in the case of Bothwell, for whom it may be
considered certain that she had an overwhelming passion; and even there the
evidence is not more than colourable. That she was _cognisant_ of the
intended murder of Darnley can be doubted only by a very warm partisan: but
in weighing the criminality even of that, it must be remembered not only
that Darnley himself had murdered her secretary before her eyes, and had
insulted her past forgiveness, but that _political_ assassinations
were connived at by the morals of the times. Henry VIII. had preferred to
commit his murders through the forms of law, but had encouraged the
assassination of Cardinal Beton which John Knox applauded. In Italy, every
prominent man lived constantly on his guard against the cup and the dagger.
Philip, Parma, Alva, Mendoza, encouraged the murder of Elizabeth, and
incited or approved that of Orange. The royal House of France was directly
responsible for the slaughter of St. Bartholomew. Henry III. of France
assassinated Henry of Guise; the Guises in turn assassinated Henry. Many of
the Scottish nobility, including certainly Lethington and Morton, if not
Murray, were beyond question as deep as Mary, if not deeper, in the murder
of Darnley. And in England it may be said frankly that there was no
sentiment against political murder, but only against murder without
sanction of Law. Given a person whose life was regarded as possibly
dangerous to the State, the public conscience was entirely satisfied if any
colourable pretext could be found on which the legal authorities could
profess to find warrant for a death sentence, though the proof, on modern
theories of evidence, might be wholly inconclusive. In plain terms, if
Mary had not followed up the murder by marrying the "first murderer," the
deed would not have been regarded as particularly atrocious, or as placing
her in any way outside the pale. But that marriage was fatal. Darnley was
killed because while he lived his intellectual and moral turpitude were
perfectly certain to wreck his wife's political schemes; but the new
marriage was equally destructive politically and drove home the belief that
passion, not politics, was the real motive of the murder. Whether politics
or passion were the real motive, whether either would have sufficed without
the other, whether even together they would have sufficed without the third
motive of revenge for Rizzio, no human judgment can tell. But if under
stress of those three motives in combination, Mary connived at the murder,
it proves indeed that her judgment failed her, but not that according to
the standards of the day she was unusually wicked.
As to her conduct in England--whatever it was--in connexion with the
Ridolfi, Throgmorton, and Babington plots. In the first place, she owed
Elizabeth no gratitude. She was perfectly well aware that the Queen kept
her alive because--unlike her ministers and her people--she thought Mary
alive was on the whole more useful than dangerous. Mary always without any
sort of concealment asserted throughout the eighteen years of her captivity
her quite indisputable right to appeal to the European Powers for
deliverance. She always denied that she had any part in or knowledge of
schemes for Elizabeth's assassination. Those denials were never met by any
evidence [Footnote: Cf. Hume in _State Papers, Spanish,_ III., iii.]
more conclusive than alleged copies of deciphered correspondence, or the
confessions of prisoners on the rack or under threat of it. But assuming
that her denials were false, that in one or other instance or in all three
she was guilty, she did only what Valois and Habsburg and half the leading
statesmen in Europe were doing, with the approbation of Rome, and without
Mary's excuse. For they had the opportunity of overthrowing Coligny,
Orange, Henry of Guise, and Elizabeth herself in fair fight; Mary had not:
her crime therefore at the worst was infinitely less than theirs. To a
caged captive much may be forgiven which in those others could not be
And if in her prison she did assent to her own deliverance by
assassination, and condescend (as no doubt she did) to use in some of her
dealings with her captor some of that duplicity whereof that captor was
herself a past mistress--if she used on her own behalf the weapons which
were freely employed against her--she displayed at all times other
qualities which were splendidly royal. She never betrayed, never disowned,
never forgot a faithful servant or a loyal friend. If she bewitched the men
who came in contact with her, she was the object of a no less passionate
devotion on the part of all her women; not that transient if vehement
emotion which a fascinating fiend can arouse when she wills, but a devotion
persistent and enduring. And withal she dreed her weird with a lofty
courage, faced it full front with a high defiance, which must bespeak for
ever the admiration at least of every generous spirit.
All this we may say and yet do justice to the attitude towards her of the
people of England. For to them, her life was a perpetual menace. The idea
of her succession was to half of them unendurable, yet if Elizabeth died it
could be averted only at the cost of a fierce civil war, aggravated almost
certainly by a foreign invasion. About her, plots were eternally brewing
which if they came to a head must involve the whole nation in a bloody
strife. She engaged when she could in negotiations which could not do
otherwise than imperil the peace of the realm. If no law or precedent could
be found applicable to such a situation, there was clear moral
justification for removing such a public danger in the only possible way.
Mary's release would only have aggravated it; her death was the one
solution. England had no hesitation in assuming the grim responsibility
which the Queen of England was fain to evade at her servants' expense.
The works enumerated in this bibliography are such as may usually be found
in the larger public libraries, or are available to members of the London
Library. In most cases a few words of description are added, and the whole
list has been so classified that the reader--it is hoped--will be able
without much difficulty to pick out those volumes which will best help him
whether to a general view or in gathering detailed information on specific
* * * * *
To a student "taking up" the Tudor period, the best brief general
introduction, as a preliminary survey of the whole subject is to be found--
judging from the writer's early experiences--in two small volumes in the
"Epoch" Series (Longmans), Seebohm's _Era of the Protestant
Revolution,_ and Creighton's _Age of Elizabeth._
The continuous narrative, _in extenso,_ is presented consecutively in
_The Tudor Period,_ vol. i., by W. Busch (translated by A. M. Todd)
for Henry VII.: Brewer's _Henry VIII._ (2 vols.) for Henry VIII. to
the fall of Wolsey: Froude's _History of England_ (12 vols.) from the
fall of Wolsey to the Armada--cautious though the reader must be; with
Major Martin Hume's _Treason and Plot_ for Elizabeth's closing years.
Proceeding to the detailed list; the first division gives authorities
covering all sections of the Tudor Period. Then, under each reign, are the
authorities for that reign, selected as being on the whole the most
prominent or the most informing. These are divided into contemporary,
_i.e._ Tudor; Intermediate; and Modern, _i.e._ publications
(roughly) of the last half century. Further classification is introduced,
where it seems likely to be of assistance.
TUDOR PERIOD CONTEMPORARY
The _Carew Papers_ (Ireland).
_Four Masters, Chronicle of The:_ Celtic Chronicles, collated and
translated _circa_ 1632 by four Irish Priests. Hakluyt's
The _Hatfield Papers_ (Historical MSS. Commission). The period before
Elizabeth occupies only half of vol. i.; the rest of which, with the
following volumes of the series, is devoted to that reign. Rymer's
_Foedera_. Stow, _Annals_ and _Survey of London and
Hallam's _Constitutional History of England_. A valuable study of the
constitutional aspects of the period; and especially of the attitude of the
Government to the great religious sections of the community.
Hook's _Lives of the Archbishops_; a work somewhat coloured by the
author's ecclesiastical predilections.
Lingard's _History of England_; a fair-minded account written avowedly
from a Roman Catholic point of view. Valuable data have however been
brought to light since Lingard wrote.
Von Ranke's _Englische Geschichte_, translated as "_History of
England principally in the seventeenth century_": not a detailed history
of this period, but marked by the Author's keen historical insight.
------ _History of the Popes_, for those aspects of the period
suggested by the title: see also Macaulay's _Essay_ on this work.
Strype's _Ecclesiastical Memorials_, containing transcripts of many
important documents. The compiler however occasionally went astray; as in a
remarkable instance noted at p. 129.
Ashley, W. J., _Introduction to English Economic History_. Brown,
P. Hume, _History of Scotland_.
_Cambridge Modern History_: vol. ii., The Reformation. Useful for
reference, and containing a very full bibliography of the subject. Cc.
xiii.-xvi. deal more particularly with England. Also vol. iii., The Wars of
Chambers, _Cyclopaedia of English Literature_, containing useful
surveys, criticisms, and extracts. [New edition.]
Chambers, E. K., _The Mediaeval Stage_, invaluable prolegomena to a
History of the Elizabethan stage as yet unwritten. Clowes, Sir W. Laird,
_The Royal Navy_; vol. i.
Cunningham, W., _Growth of English Industry and Commerce_: the best
Economic Authority. _Dictionary of National Biography_.
Green, J. R., _Short History of the English People_, admirably
reproducing the atmosphere of the period.
Lang, Andrew, _History of Scotland_, vols. i. and ii.: a strong
corrective to the ordinary English treatment of Scottish relations.
Morley, Henry, _English Writers_; partly critical, partly
consisting of numerous and ample extracts.
Rait, J. S., _Relations between England and Scotland, 500 to 1707_. A
Rogers, Thorold, _Six Centuries of Work and Wages_, and _History of
Agriculture and Prices_.
_Social England_, edd. H. D. Traill and J. S. Mann. Contributions by
leading authorities, dealing at length with aspects commonly neglected in
Stubbs (Bishop), _Seventeen Lectures on the Study of Medieval and Modern
History_; and _Lectures on European History_ (pub. 1904, delivered
twenty-five years earlier); very useful to the student, from their
extremely lucid method.
HENRY VII CONTEMPORARY
Andr�, Bernard, _De Vita atque gestis Henrici Septimi_, and _Annales
Henrici Septimi_ (to be found in Gairdner's _Memorials,
infra_). Andr� was the court historiographer, and was blind. Honest, but
not altogether trustworthy, or adequate.
Fabyan, Robert, _New Chronicles of England and France_, (supplement),
ed. Ellis: and _London Chronicle_: both, in their present form,
probably summaries from the original record compiled by Fabyan as the
events took place; upon which original it would seem that both Hall and
Stow largely based their Chronicles of the reign.
Hall, Edward, _Chronicle_: compiled chiefly from Polydore Vergil, and
Fabyan for this reign. For Henry VIII., he is literally a contemporary.
_Italian Relation, An_, (Author unknown: ed. Camden Society), by an
Italian visitor to England.
_Letters and Papers, Richard III. and Henry VII._, ed. Gairdner.
_Letters and Papers Henry VIII._, (vols. i. and ii.) ed. Brewer.
_Letters, Despatches and State Papers_, from Simancas, ed.
Bergenroth. Spanish relations.
Lyndsay of Pitscottie, _Historie of Scotland_: picturesque but not too
Macchiavelli, N., _The Prince_. An interesting contrast to the
political philosophy of the _Utopia_.
_Memorials of Henry VII._, ed. Gairdner: contemporary records.
More, Sir T., _Utopia_, first book (illustrating social and economic
_Paston Letters_, ed. Gairdner; correspondence of the Paston
Polydore Vergil, _Historiae Anglicae Libri_. P. V. was an Italian who
came to England in 1502. For the earlier years of Henry VII. he had access
to good sources of information; for the latter years he was a witness, but
with the inevitable limitations of a foreign observer.
Bacon, Francis, _History of the Reign of King Henry VII._ This has
been the basis of all the popular histories, for the reign. It is often
referred to as "contemporary". But Bacon was not born till fifty years
after Henry's death, and did not write the history till he was over fifty
himself. His work contains much that is merely rhetorical amplification of
above named contemporary authorities, with occasional imaginative
variations and misreadings: nor does he appear to have had additional
sources of information.
Ware, _De Hibernia;_ a supplement to which contains annals of Irish
History in the reign of Henry VII.; written in the time of Charles I.
Busch, Wilhelm, _England under the Tudors,_ vol. i., Henry VII.
Translated by A. M. Todd. The one complete and thorough account of the
reign, with an exhaustive examination of the authorities: and notes by
Gairdner, J., _Henry VII._ (Twelve English Statesmen series), an
admirable study but with less detail; written before Busch's work was
Seebohm, F., _The Oxford Reformers,_ Colet, Erasmus and More: an
CONTEMPORARY: A. DOCUMENTARY
_Calendar of State Papers_
(1) _State Papers, Henry VIII._ A series of eleven volumes edited
before the commencement of the series next named. These are referred to in
this work as "S. P."; and the next series mentioned, as "L. & P."
(2) _Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, of the reign of Henry
VIII._ Vols. i.-iv. ed. Brewer, vols. v. ff. ed. J. Gairdner and
others. Dr. Brewer carried his work down to the fall of Wolsey, arranging
all available documents so far as possible chronologically, but without
other classification. His introductions have been edited as two solid
volumes (_v. infra_) by Dr. Gairdner. The subsequent editors were
restricted as to the length of introduction permitted but the same system
of arrangement is followed. Throughout, all documents of any importance are
transcribed with fulness.
(3) _State Papers, Venetian,_ (4) _State Papers, Ireland,_ (5)
(State Papers, Spanish;_ all official collections throwing some light on
(various aspects of the history. [2, 3, and 5 belong to the Rolls series.]
_Hamilton Papers_ (Scotland) 2 vols.: full transcriptions of the
Hamilton collection of Papers.
_Letters of Thomas Cromwell,_ ed. Merriman, a complete collection of
all the available letters of Cromwell, with a historical survey.
B. CHRONICLES AND OTHER PUBLICATIONS
Buchanan, G., _History of Scotland;_ the author was an excellent
scholar but a violent partisan with a rudimentary idea of evidence.
Cavendish, _Life of Cardinal Wolsey_. The author was a member of
Wolsey's household, from 1526, and regarded him with affection and
Fabyan: see under Henry VII.
Fish, Simon, _The Supplicacyon for the Beggers,_ a pamphlet
illustrating the most extravagant anti-clerical attitude, just before
Foxe, J., _Acts and Monuments,_ commonly known as the "_Book of
Martyrs_". The work of a strong but honest partisan and a good hater.
_Narratives of the Reformation_ by the same author.
Hall's Chronicle: see under Henry VII.
Holinshed, Raphael, _Chronicle_: compiled in the reign of
Elizabeth. It forms with Hall's Chronicle, the basis of the popular
impressions of English History down to Elizabeth, partly no doubt because
Shakespeare, drawing upon those works, has made those popular impressions
Knox, John, _History of the Reformation;_ less valuable perhaps as a
record of facts set forth with a strong bias than as a revelation of the
mental attitude of the great Reformer and his followers.
Latimer, Hugh, _Sermons_.
Lyndsay, Sir David, _Poetical Works,_ for Social and Ecclesiastical
conditions in Scotland.
Lyndsay of Pitscottie, _Historie of Scotland_. See under Henry VII.
More, Thomas, _Utopia_ (1516) expresses the ideas of an advanced
political thinker, and incidentally, directly or by implication, conveys
much information as to prevalent social economic and intellectual
Pole, Reginald (Cardinal), _Epistolae,_ illustrating the Cardinal's
Roper, W., _Life of Sir T. More,_ whose son-in-law the author was.
Sanders, Nicholas, _History of the Anglican Schism_ presented from the
extreme (contemporary) Catholic point of view.
Skelton, J., _Poems_.
Macchiavelli, N., _The Prince_.
Burnet, Gilbert, _History of the Reformation;_ painstaking,
liberal-minded and Orthodox, but requiring modification in the light of
Prescott, _Conquest of Mexico and Peru_: the classical work on the
Robertson, _Charles V_.
Strype, _Memorials of Cranmer_.
MODERN: A. GENERAL
Armstrong, E., _Charles V_., the best record of the Emperor's career.
Brewer, J. S., _The Reign of Henry VIII._: Introductions to the
vols. of "L. & P." to the fall of Wolsey: edited in 2 vols. by J.
Gairdner. Incomparable as an examination and exposition of the Cardinal's
Creighton (Bishop), _Wolsey_ (in the Twelve English Statesmen series),
practically an exposition of Brewer for the general reader.
Froude, J. A., _History of England_ from the fall of Wolsey to the
defeat of the Armada. An English classic, but an unsafe guide. Mr. Froude
studied and made use of an immense mass of evidence not before available;
but his transcriptions and summaries are not always distinguishable nor
always accurate. He was unable to describe otherwise than picturesquely and
impressively, and his colouring of events is frequently imaginative; he was
overpowered by an anti-clerical passion and an almost blind enthusiasm for
Oppenheim, M., _History of the Administration of the Royal Navy, etc._
Seebohm, F., _Era of the Protestant Revolution_ ("Epoch" series),
professedly for school use, but extremely useful to even advanced students.
Pollard, A. F., _Henry VIII.;_ a sumptuous study.
MODERN: B. REFORMATION
Dixon, R. W., _History of the English Church_ (vols. i. and ii.):
actually, of the Reformation in England, down to Elizabeth. Further volumes
have however been added. The author holds a brief against the
anti-clericals of every kind; his view may be summarised as Anglo-Catholic:
the precise antithesis of Froude. He is full and careful in his documentary
evidence, but is so persistently ironical as occasionally to convey
_prima facie_ an impression diametrically opposed to what was
Gairdner, J., _History of the English Church in the Sixteenth
Century,_ concluding with the death of Mary. An admirably judicial
survey, with a moderate predilection for the Conservative side.
Gasquet, F. A., _Henry VIII. and the English Monasteries,_ and _The
Eve of the Reformation_. Very able and judicial statements of the case
for Home and the loyal Roman Catholics.
Innes, A. D., _Cranmer and the English Reformation_ (in "The World's
Epoch Makers"): a short study.
Mason, A. J., _Thomas Cranmer_ (in "Leaders of Religion"): a short
Moore, Aubrey, _History of the Reformation_. This volume consists
almost entirely of notes, varying in fulness, for courses of lectures
delivered by Canon Moore. The student will find them of much assistance in
classifying and correlating events, and touched with flashes of
insight. The High Anglican position is taken for granted throughout.
Pollard, A. F., _Cranmer_ (in "Heroes of the Reformation" series);
somewhat fuller than the above-mentioned studies.
Seebohm, F., _The Oxford Reformers_. (See under Henry VII.)
Taunton, E., _Thomas Wolsey, Reformer and Legate_--from the Roman
point of view.
Westcott (Bishop), _History of the English Bible_.
CONTEMPORARY: A. DOCUMENTARY
_Calendar of State Papers, Edward VI., etc., Domestic;_ vol. i.
(Rolls.) Little more than a catalogue. Somewhat amplified by the Addenda in
_Calendar of State Papers, Edward VI., Foreign,_ 1 vol. (Rolls.)
_Calendar of Scottish State Papers,_ Ed. Bain.
_Hamilton Papers_ (Scotland).
B. CHRONICLES AND OTHER PUBLICATIONS
Buchanan, _History of Scotland_.
Foxe, _Acts and Monuments_.
Knox, _History of the Reformation_.
Lyndsay of Pitscottie, _Historie of Scotland_.
_Literary Remains of Edward VI.,_ Ed. Nichols.
Pole, Reginald, _Epistolae_.
Sanders, Nicholas, _History of the Anglican Schism_.
Smith, Sir T., _De Republica Anglorum_
As for Henry VIII.
MODERN: A. GENERAL
Armstrong, E., _Charles V._
Dicey, A. V., _The Privy Council_.
Froude, J. A., _History of England_. In this and the next reign,
Mr. Froude is much less erratic.
Oppenheim, M., _The Royal Navy, etc._
Pollard, A. F., _England under Protector Somerset_. The best work on
the time; though the impression given of Somerset is somewhat more
favourable than the facts quite warrant, the rehabilitation was to a great
extent necessary and justified. Much information as to authorities is given
in the bibliography.
Tytler, P. F., _England in the Reigns of Edward VI. and Mary_.
Dixon, _History of the English Church,_ vols. iii, iv.
Gairdner, J., _History of the English Church in the Sixteenth
Gasquet, F. A., _Edward VI. and the Book of Common Prayer_.
Innes, A. D., _Cranmer and the English Reformation_.
Mason, A. J., _Thomas Cranmer_.
Moore, Aubrey, _History of the Reformation_.
Pollard, A, F., _Cranmer_.
_Calendar of State Papers, Mary, Foreign,_ 1 vol.
Otherwise, the list of contemporary authorities is the same as for Edward
VI., with some omissions. The _Domestic Calendar, Edward VI., etc._
(vol. i.) extends on to 1580: and the remaining vols. to the end of
Elizabeth bear the same title.
As for Henry VIII.
Stone, J. M., _Mary I. Queen of England_ takes the place of _England
under Protector Somerset_ for Edward VI. The facts are fairly and
honestly stated; though the perspective differs considerably from that of
Protestant writers, the bias is not nearly so marked as in the same
writer's work on the _Renaissance_: and the portrait of Mary herself
is probably the truest we have.
Otherwise, the list for Edward VI. is practically repeated for Mary.
CONTEMPORARY: A. DOCUMENTARY
_Calendar of State Papers, Edward VI., etc., Domestic_: (Rolls).
Vol. i. 1547-80. A meagre catalogue. Vol. ii. 1580-90, somewhat less
meagre. Vols. iii.-vi. 1590-1603, generally full transcriptions; but the
Introductions are of much less use to the student than in _Henry VIII.
L. & P.,_ or the other "Rolls" series of Elizabeth. Vols. vi. and vii.,
addenda to vols. i. and ii.; the description, as for vols. iii-vi.
_Calendar of State Papers, Foreign, Elizabeth_: (Rolls). 14 vols.,
1558-81. Very full and informing; the introductions being very useful
guides to the contents.
_Calendar of State Papers, Irish_: (Rolls). Sufficiently full and
_Calendar of State Papers, Spanish_: (Rolls). 1558-1603. Selected and
translated by Major Martin Hume, chiefly from the Simancas archives. Very
valuable, and full for most of the period.
_Slate Papers relating to the Spanish Armada_: 2 vols.: ed. Professor
Laughton, whose Introduction is of great interest. _Sidle Papers:
Scotland and Mary Queen of Scots_. _Hamilton Papers_. _Hardwicke
Papers_. _Letters of Mary Queen of Scots_: ed. A. Strickland.
_Statutes and Constitutional Documents_: ed G. W. Prothero.
B. CHRONICLES AND OTHER PUBLICATIONS
Buchanan, _History of Scotland_. Camden, W., _Britannia_, a
survey of the realm, and _Annals of Queen_ _Elizabeth_. Foxe, J.,
_Book of Martyrs_. Holinshed, _Chronicle_. Knox, John,
_Works_. Lesley, John (Bishop of Ross), _History of Scotland_.
The Bishop was in constant diplomatic employment, on behalf of Mary.
Lyndsay of Pitscottie, _Historie of Scotland_, ending 1563.
_Marprelate_ Tracts. Sanders, N., _History of the Anglican
Schism_. Raleigh, Sir W., _Works;_ notably _The Discovery of
Guiana_, _The Fight at_ _the Azores_, and the _Relation of
the Cadiz Action_. But the works contain _passim_ discussions which
throw light on contemporary history. Spenser, E., _Faerie Queen_, Book
I.; the Elizabethan spirit embodied in poetry. Not less necessary to a
sympathetic understanding of the times than the Canterbury Tales, or
Milton's Poems, for other periods.
Burnet, _History of the Reformation_. Macaulay, Lord, Essay on
_Burleigh and his Times_, ostensibly a critique on the Nares
Biography. Nares, E., _Memoirs of Lord Burleigh_. Neal, D., _History
of the Puritans_. Strype, _Annals of the Reformation_; and _Lives
of Parker_, _Grindal_, and _Whitgift_. Wright, T., _Queen
Elisabeth and her Times_.
Beesley, E. S., _Queen Elizabeth_ in the Twelve English Statesmen
series. Rather a biography than a history; _i.e._ the Queen's
personality holds almost exclusive possession of the stage. Brown, P.
Hume, _Scotland in the Time of Queen Mary_; a study of social
conditions, not politics or persons, in Scotland; inferentially, useful to
the student of English social conditions.
Corbett, J., _Drake and the Tudor Navy_, 2 vols., the most complete
study of the Naval development under Elizabeth. Indispensable for this
subject. Also _Drake_ in the English Men of Action series.
Creighton (Bishop), _Queen Elizabeth_.
Dixon, _History of the English Church_.
Fleming, D. Hay, _Mary Queen of Scots; (to her captivity in England).
Frere, W. H., _History of the English Church_.
Froude, _History of England_, vols. vii.-xii.; closing with the
Armada. Mary Queen of Scots is the wicked heroine, Burghley the hero, the
dramatic presentation of other characters depending largely on--and varying
with--their relations to these two. These preconceptions must be borne in
mind, in following a most fascinating narrative. Mr. Froude accumulated an
unprecedented quantity of evidence, but does not always present it with
accuracy, or weigh its value. The _Elizabethan Seamen_ is also an
interesting and graphic study.
Harrison, F., _William the Silent_, in the "Foreign Statesmen" series.
Hosack, J., _Mary Queen of Scots and her Accusers_, a vigorous
presentation of the case on Mary's behalf.
Hume, Martin: (1) _The Courtships of Queen Elizabeth_--a special
aspect of the reign which called for a specific treatment. (2) _The Love
Affairs of Mary Queen of Scots_ treated from the political, not the
dramatic, point of view. (3) _The Great Lord Burghley_, a sympathetic
study. (4) _The Year after the Armada_, to be read in conjunction with
Corbett's _Drake_. (5) _Treason and Plot_, the best account of
the Queen's closing years. (6) _Life of Sir Walter Ralegh_. (7)
Introductions to the _State Papers, Spanish, Elizabeth_.
Jusserand, J. J., _The Elizabethan Novel_, a very interesting study,
by a Frenchman, of this particular literary development; and _A Literary
History of the English People_.
Lang, Andrew, _The Mystery of Mary Stewart_, a most ingenious
examination of a practically insoluble problem: performed in the true
spirit of historical investigation. The conclusions, with a less exhaustive
treatment of the evidence, are presented in the _History of
Scotland_--which is also a running criticism on English affairs as they
affected, or were affected by, Scotland.
Laughton, Introduction to the _State Papers relating to the Armada_.
Lee, Sidney, _Life of Shakespeare_; and _Great Englishmen of the
Moore, Aubrey, _History of the Reformation_.
Motley, J. R., _Rise of the Dutch Republic_, the classical work on the
Oppenheim, M., _History of the Administration of the Royal Navy, etc._
Procter, F., and Frere, W. H., _New History of the Book of Common
Rodd, Sir Rennell, _Raleigh_ in English Men of Action series.
Seeley, Sir J. R., _The Expansion of England_, lecture v.; and, _The
Growth of British Policy_ from Elizabeth to William III. (2 vols.).
Sichel, E., _Catherine de Medici_, etc.; an account of some leading
characters on the Continent.
Skelton, J., _Maitland of Lethington_, an able study of the "Scottish
Tomlinson, J. R., _The Prayer-Book, Articles, Homilies_--from a
strongly "Protestant" point of view.
[Illustration: Spanish America about 1580]