The Earlier Tudors, 1485-1558

By J. D. Mackie | Go to book overview

VII
THE ACHIEVEMENT OF HENRY VII

T HE achievement of Henry VII was that he rescued England from the disorder of civil war and set her upon the way of prosperity in a difficult world where the new jostled with the old in a strange confusion. The disorder of the fifteenth century was great, but it should not be exaggerated. For many Englishmen life must have gone on in the ordinary way. The machinery of government remained intact. The crown was in dispute between rival parties, but it was still the crown, and though it had passed strangely from head to head, always it had carried with it a royal authority; all men knew that England must have a king, that the king should govern through his servants, that he was enxtitled to hold land and privileges, and that when his 'own' did not suffice for the work of government, he should receive aid from the contributions of his subjects. Yet, as Fortescue had so stoutly asserted, the king of England was not absolute; he must govern according to the law. Whence the law came is not entirely clear. Fortescue had derived it conveniently from the contract made by ' Brute and his fellowship' when the realm of Britain was founded, but for most men the argument ab origine was not necessary. Their feeling was expressed in the words of Augustine, quoted more than once by the clerical orator who opened parliament, 'Sublata justicia quid aliud sunt regna quam magna latrocinia'.1 Law was made by God; the law of nature was an expression of the divine law; and the civil law must be derived from the divine law either directly or through the law of nature. Neither king nor parliament could 'make' law; they might 'declare' it and appoint penalties for its breach, but, in theory at least, their pronouncements were invalid unless in accord with divine justice. There was a body of law, long tried and found good, administered after set forms and generally accepted. Its machinery, not distinguished clearly from administration or government generally,

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1
Rot. Parl. vi. 520, 409. But see Statutes and their Interpretation in the Fourteenth Century ( T. F. T. Plucknett), pp. 26-31. A statute might make 'new' law over existing common law.

-189-

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The Earlier Tudors, 1485-1558
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents vii
  • List of Maps xxii
  • I- The New Monarchy 1
  • II - The Face of England 25
  • III - The New King and His Rivals 46
  • IV - Foreign Policy 81
  • V - Perkin Warbeck 112
  • VI - Foreign Affairs 151
  • VII - The Achievement of Henry VII 189
  • VIII - Splendour of Youth 231
  • IX - The Cardinal 286
  • X - Royal Supremacy 335
  • XI - The Fall of the Monasteries 370
  • XII - Imperium Merum 402
  • XIII - Economic Development 444
  • XIV - The Young Josiah 478
  • XV - The Reign of Mary 526
  • XVI - The Achievement of the Age 562
  • Appendix - Tudor Coinage from Henry Vii. To Elizabeth 604
  • Bibliography 609
  • List of Holders of Offices 645
  • Key to Genealogical Table I 655
  • Index 659
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