The Tudor Revolution in Government: Administrative Changes in the Reign of Henry VIII

By G. R. Elton | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VI
THE KING'S HOUSEHOLD

As the administration of England was slipping away from the king's household and transferring itself to national bureaucratic offices and departments, the household itself was left behind and had to be put in order. Up to this time it had played a double part, taking care of the king's person and court, and also supplying officials and even departments for purposes of national government. Though it was deprived of this second of its activities, it retained the first; until the establishment of the civil list in 1782 -- the final separation between service for the king and service for the crown -- the royal household remained one of the institutions of the king's government. If the term be permitted, we might say that in the 1530's it became a department of state, a department specializing in the administration of the king's court. It is well known that throughout, at any rate, the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries the mainspring of government lay in the immediate entourage of the king -- in his household, whose officers, high and low, were the real ministers and executive servants of the royal will. It is as well known that, if one wishes to discover the administrative history of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, it is useless to look to the household whose officers were the notorious sinecurists, those men whose support in parliament was indiscriminately at the disposal of anyone who controlled patronage, and who were mown down in their hundreds by the economic reform of 1782. No contrast could be stronger than that between the hard-working and none too well rewarded clerks and laici litterati of the medieval household, and the clouds of place and fortune hunters who beset a duke of Newcastle or a Lord North. To narrow it down: there is a change from the household described in Tout's pages to the household which emerges from Sir E. K. Chambers's exhaustive description,1 a change from the household of wardrobe and chamber

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1
E. K. Chambers, The Elizabethan Stage ( Oxford, 1923), 1, ch. 2. This detailed and lucid account of the household under Elizabeth makes it unnecessary for this chapter to

-370-

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The Tudor Revolution in Government: Administrative Changes in the Reign of Henry VIII
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Patr I Matrique v
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Abbreviations xi
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter I - The Last Phase of Medieval Government 10
  • Chapter II - The Bureaucrat Minister 66
  • Chapter III - The Reform Of The Agencies of Finance 160
  • Chapter IV - Privy Seal, Signet, and Secretary 259
  • Chapter V - The Privy Council 316
  • Chapter VI - The King's Household 370
  • Chapter VII - The Administrative Revolution 415
  • Appendix I - Cromwell and the Mastership Of the King's Wards 428
  • Appendix II - Documents 431
  • Index 443
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