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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

Who had already obtained the title of Suffolk


[152]

Wheatly in Soames, History of the Reformation iii. 604.

[153] In the commission of 32 members (bishops, divines, civilians, lawyers) we find the names of Will. Cecil, Will Peters, Thomas Smith.

[154] Compare Heylin, History of the Reformation 50, 101.

CHAPTER VII.

TRANSFER OF THE GOVERNMENT TO A CATHOLIC QUEEN.

We can easily see how the power of the crown, founded by the first Tudor, and developed by the second through the emancipation from the Papacy, was further strengthened under the third. From Edward VI we have essays, in which he speaks about the spiritual and temporal government with the consciousness of a sovereign, whose actions depend only on himself. In the Homilies, which obtained legal sanction, there is found an express condemnation of resistance to the King, 'for Godes sake, from whom Kings are, and for orders sake.'

Whilst men were now expecting that Edward VI would arrive at manhood, and take the government completely into his own hands, and conduct it in the sense he had hitherto foreshadowed--not merely carrying out the Reformation thoroughly at home, but assuming the leadership of the Protestant world, symptoms appeared in him of the malady to which his half-brother Richmond had succumbed at an early age. But how

then if the same fate befell him? According to Henry VIII's arrangement Mary was then to ascend the throne who, through her descent from Queen Catharine and from an inborn disposition which had become all the more confirmed by her opposition to her father and brother, represented the Catholic and Spanish interest. Nothing else could be expected but that she would employ the whole power of the State in support of her own views, would, so far as it could possibly be done, bring back the church to its earlier form, would depress the men who had hitherto played a great part by the side of the King and subject them to the opposite faction. But were they quietly to acquiesce in their fate?

The ambition of the Duke of Northumberland associated itself with the great interests of religion, to prevent the threatening ruin. He persuaded the young King that it lay in his power to alter his father's settlement of the succession, as in itself not conformable to law, neither Mary nor the younger sister Elizabeth being entitled to the throne, as the two marriages from which they sprang had been declared illegal, and a bastard could not be made capable of wearing the English crown by any act of Parliament. Henry VIII had in his settlement of the succession passed over the descendants of his elder sister, married in Scotland, as foreigners, but acknowledged those of the younger, Mary of Suffolk, as the next heirs after his own children. Mary's elder daughter Frances had married Henry Grey of Dorset, who had already obtained the title of Suffolk, and had three daughters, the eldest of whom was Jane Grey. It was to her, whom the Duke of Northumberland married to one of his sons, that he now directed the King's attention, and induced him to prefer her to his sisters. Yet it was not so much to herself in person as to her male issue that Edward's attention was originally directed. Never yet had a Queen ruled in England in her own right, and even now there was a wish to avoid it. Edward arranged that, if he himself died without male heirs, the male heirs of Lady Frances, and if she too left none, then those of Lady Jane, should succeed. He hoped still to live till such an heir should be eighteen years old, in which case he could enter on the government immediately after himself. If his death occurred earlier, Jane was to conduct the administration during the interval, not as Queen but as Regent, and conjointly with a Council of government still to be named by him.[155] This Council of executors was to avoid all war, all other change, and especially not to alter the established religion in any point: rather it was to devote itself to completing the ecclesiastical legislation in conformity with that religion, and to the abolition of the Papal claims.[156] We see that Edward's view was, like that of many other sovereigns, to secure the continuance of his political and religious system of government for long years after his own death. The members of the Privy Council, before whom these arrangements were laid in the King's handwriting, promised on their oath and their honour to carry them out in every article, and to defend them with all their power.[157]


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