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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

While Cranfield denied all guilt


This

was an intestine struggle between the different powers in the state, as well as a question of policy. Parliament and the favourite made common cause against the Privy Council, which was on the side of Spain.

Among his opponents in the Privy Council, Buckingham hated none so much as the Lord Treasurer Cranfield, then Earl of Middlesex, for Cranfield, although raised from a humble station by Buckingham himself, had the courage to resist him on the Spanish question.[440] By his strict and successful management of business, Cranfield had won the favour of the King, who believed that he had found in him a second Sully. It seems that Cranfield himself had intended to effect the ruin of Buckingham: but Buckingham was too strong for him. Certain accusations, which were partly well founded, were made available in bringing him to trial by Parliamentary means, and in removing him from his office like Bacon; for he had incurred the enmity of many by his strictness and incorruptibility. The King professed to regard this case as even worse than the former, because Bacon had acknowledged his guilt, while Cranfield denied all guilt. The doctrine of the responsibility of ministers was by this means advanced still further, for it was now becoming more dangerous to fall out with Parliament than with the King.

The authority of Parliament in general made important strides. It now threw paramount weight into those deliberations which

concerned the general affairs of the kingdom, war and peace, and the royal family. What became of the principle on which the King had hitherto taken his stand, that the decision of these matters must be left exclusively to his discretion? Parliament again assumed the attitude which three years before had led to its dissolution.

It was not possible that James I could look on all this without displeasure and uneasiness. Sometimes the thought occurred to him that Buckingham had not been the right man to conduct the negotiations with Spain. The words escaped him that, if he had sent the Lord Keeper Williams with his son instead of Buckingham, his honour would then have been saved, and his heart would now beat more lightly. He did not approve of the decided turn which was being given to foreign politics. He was once heard to say that he was a poor old man, who in former times had known something about politics, but who now knew nothing more about them.

It seems indeed that he had fancied that he could still continue to hold the balance between parties: so at least those who knew James understood him. He had no intention of allowing Buckingham's fall, as the enemies of that nobleman wished, but he perhaps thought of finding a counterpoise for him: he did not wish to let him become lord and master of affairs. On the other hand Buckingham, by his connexion with the leading men of the Lower House, had already won an independent position, in which he was no longer at the mercy of the King. He may perhaps be set down as the first English minister who, supported by Parliament and by public opinion, induced or compelled the King to adopt a policy on which of his own accord he would not have resolved. In conjunction with his new friends Buckingham succeeded in breaking up the Spanish party, with which he now for the first time came into conflict: his adherents congratulated him on his success.[441] In court and state a kind of reaction against the previous importance of this party set in. The offices which were vacated by the fall of Cranfield were conferred on men of the other party, the kind of men who had formerly been displaced under the influence of Gondomar. Seamen were acquitted who had shown the same disregard for orders as Walter Ralegh had once done, and preparations were made to indemnify Ralegh's posterity for the loss of property which they had suffered. The Spanish ambassadors at court availed themselves of a moment of ill humour on the part of the King, to whom indeed they had again obtained access, to call his attention to the loss of authority which threatened him on account of Buckingham's combination with the leading men in the Parliament. But in what they said they mingled so much falsehood with the truth that they could be easily refuted; and Buckingham successfully resisted this attack also.


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