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History of the English People, Volume III The Parliament, 1399-1461; The Monarchy 1461-1540   By: (1837-1883)

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JOHN RICHARD GREEN, M.A. Honorary Fellow of Jesus College, Oxford

THE PARLIAMENT, 1399 1461 THE MONARCHY, 1461 1540

First Edition, Demy 8vo, November 1877; Reprinted December 1877, 1881, 1885, 1890. Eversley Edition, 1895. London MacMillan and Co. and New York 1896


Volume III

Book IV The Parliament 1399 1461

Chapter V The House of Lancaster 1399 1422

Chapter VI The Wars of the Roses 1422 1461

Book V The Monarchy 1461 1540

Authorities for Book V

Chapter I The House of York 1461 1485

Chapter II The Revival of Learning 1485 1514

Chapter III Wolsey 1514 1529

Chapter IV Thomas Cromwell 1529 1540


The Wars of the Roses

In Chapter I. some changes have been made which exactly follow corrections made by Mr. Green himself in the margin of his volume of the original edition.

A.S. Green.




[Sidenote: Henry the Fourth]

Once safe in the Tower, it was easy to wrest from Richard a resignation of his crown; and this resignation was solemnly accepted by the Parliament which met at the close of September 1399. But the resignation was confirmed by a solemn Act of Deposition. The coronation oath was read, and a long impeachment which stated the breach of the promises made in it was followed by a solemn vote of both Houses which removed Richard from the state and authority of king. According to the strict rules of hereditary descent as construed by the feudal lawyers by an assumed analogy with the rules which governed descent of ordinary estates the crown would now have passed to a house which had at an earlier period played a leading part in the revolutions of the Edwards. The great grandson of the Mortimer who brought about the deposition of Edward the Second had married the daughter and heiress of Lionel of Clarence, the third son of Edward the Third. The childlessness of Richard and the death of Edward's second son without issue placed Edmund Mortimer, the son of the Earl who had fallen in Ireland, first among the claimants of the crown; but he was now a child of six years old, the strict rule of hereditary descent had never received any formal recognition in the case of the Crown, and precedent suggested a right of Parliament to choose in such a case a successor among any other members of the Royal House. Only one such successor was in fact possible. Rising from his seat and crossing himself, Henry of Lancaster solemnly challenged the crown, "as that I am descended by right line of blood coming from the good lord King Henry the Third, and through that right that God of his grace hath sent me with help of my kin and of my friends to recover it: the which realm was in point to be undone by default of governance and undoing of good laws." Whatever defects such a claim might present were more than covered by the solemn recognition of Parliament. The two Archbishops, taking the new sovereign by the hand, seated him upon the throne, and Henry in emphatic words ratified the compact between himself and his people. "Sirs," he said to the prelates, lords, knights, and burgesses gathered round him, "I thank God and you, spiritual and temporal, and all estates of the land; and do you to wit it is not my will that any man think that by way of conquest I would disinherit any of his heritage, franchises, or other rights that he ought to have, nor put him out of the good that he has and has had by the good laws and customs of the realm, except those persons that have been against the good purpose and the common profit of the realm."

[Sidenote: Statute of Heresy]

The deposition of a king, the setting aside of one claimant and the elevation of another to the throne, marked the triumph of the English Parliament over the monarchy... Continue reading book >>

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