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The History of England in Three Volumes, Vol.I., Part C. From Henry VII. to Mary   By: (1711-1776)

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London: James S. Virtue, City Road and Ivy Lane New York: 26 John Street 1860


Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co. March 17, 1901

In Three Volumes:

VOLUME ONE: The History Of England From The Invasion Of Julius Cæsar To The End Of The Reign Of James The Second............ By David Hume, Esq.

VOLUME TWO: Continued from the Reign of William and Mary to the Death of George II........................................... by Tobias Smollett.

VOLUME THREE: From the Accession of George III. to the Twenty Third Year of the Reign of Queen Victoria............... by E. Farr and E.H. Nolan.


Part C.



[Illustration: 1 309 henry7.jpg HENRY VII.]


{1485.} THE victory which the earl of Richmond gained at Bosworth was entirely decisive; being attended, as well with the total rout and dispersion of the royal army, as with the death of the king himself. Joy for this great success suddenly prompted the soldiers, in the field of battle, to bestow on their victorious general the appellation of king, which he had not hitherto assumed; and the acclamations of "Long live Henry VII.," by a natural and unpremeditated movement, resounded from all quarters. To bestow some appearance of formality on this species of military election, Sir William Stanley brought a crown of ornament, which Richard wore in battle, and which had been found among the spoils; and he put it on the head of the victor. Henry himself remained not in suspense; but immediately, without hesitation, accepted of the magnificent present which was tendered him. He was come to the crisis of his fortune; and being obliged suddenly to determine himself, amidst great difficulties which he must have frequently revolved in his mind, he chose that part which his ambition suggested to him, and to which he seemed to be invited by his present success.

There were many titles on which Henry could found his right to the crown; but no one of them free from great objections, if considered with respect either to justice or to policy.

During some years, Henry had been regarded as heir to the house of Lancaster by the party attached to that family; but the title of the house of Lancaster itself was generally thought to be very ill founded. Henry IV., who had first raised it to royal dignity, had never clearly defined the foundation of his claim; and while he plainly invaded the order of succession, he had not acknowledged the election of the people. The parliament, it is true, had often recognized the title of the Lancastrian princes; but these votes had little authority, being considered as instances of complaisance towards a family in possession of present power; and they had accordingly been often reversed during the late prevalence of the house of York. Prudent men also, who had been willing for the sake of peace to submit to any established authority, desired not to see the claims of that family revived; claims which must produce many convulsions at present, and which disjointed for the future the whole system of hereditary right. Besides, allowing the title of the house of Lancaster to be legal, Henry himself was not the true heir of that family; and nothing but the obstinacy natural to faction, which never without reluctance will submit to an antagonist, could have engaged the Lancastrians to adopt the earl of Richmond as their head. His mother indeed, Margaret, countess of Richmond, was sole daughter and heir of the duke of Somerset, sprung from John of Gaunt, duke of Lancaster: but the descent of the Somerset line was itself illegitimate, and even adulterous. And though the duke of Lancaster had obtained the legitimation of his natural children by a patent from Richard II., confirmed in parliament, it might justly be doubted whether this deed could bestow any title to the crown: since in the patent itself all the privileges conferred by it are fully enumerated, and the succession to the kingdom is expressly excluded... Continue reading book >>

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