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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

Once challenged the first Lancaster to a duel


the first Lancaster now undertook:

in full agreement with the Estates he a few days after his accession announced to Convocation that he purposed to destroy heretics and heresies to the best of his power.[65] In the next Parliament a statute was drawn up in which relapsed heretics were condemned to the flames. And still more remarkable than this mode of punishment, which was that of the Church-law, is the regulation of the procedure in this statute. In former times the sentence had been pronounced by the archbishop and the collective clergy of the province, and the King's consent had to be asked before it was executed. The decision was now committed to the bishop and his commissary, and the sheriff was instructed to inflict the punishment without further appeal, and to commit the guilty to the fire on the high grounds in the country, that terror might strike all the bystanders. It is clear how much the power of the bishops was thus extended. Soon after, on the proposal of the lay lords, at whose head the Prince of Wales is named, a further statute passed, in which to spread the rumour that King Richard was yet alive, and to teach that the prelates ought to be deprived of their worldly goods, are treated as offences of equal magnitude and threatened with a similar punishment; the object being alike in both,--to raise a tumult. And in fact, when Henry V himself had ascended the throne, an outbreak did occur, in which these causes co-operated. The Lollards were strengthened in their resistance to the government of
the house of Lancaster by the rumour that their rightful King was yet alive. Henry V was obliged to crush them in open battle, and then force them to remain quiet by a new statute, which enacted the confiscation of their goods as well.[66] His alliance and friendship with the Emperor Sigismund was based on the fact, that he regarded the Hussites as only the successors of the Lollards.

This orthodox tendency was now moreover combined with a strict Parliamentary government. Under the Lancasters there is no complaint as to illegal taxes; they allowed the moneys voted by the Parliament to be paid over to treasurers named by itself and accountable to it; that which earlier Kings had always rejected as an affront, the claim of Parliament to exercise a sort of supervision over the King's household, the Lancasters admitted; the royal officers were bound by oath to observe the statutes and the common law; the prerogative, hitherto exercised by the Kings, of softening the severity of the statutes by proclamations contravening their purpose was expressly abolished.

The Lancasters owed their rise to their alliance with the clergy and the Parliament: a fact which determined the character and manner of their government. The most manifold results might be expected, even beyond the borders of England, from their having by this very alliance won for themselves a great European position.

Nowhere was greater interest taken in Richard's fate than at the French court. Louis Duke of Orleans, whose voice was generally decisive there, once challenged the first Lancaster to a duel, and when he refused it pressed him hard with war. That Owen Glendower could once more maintain himself as Prince in Wales was entirely due to his French auxiliaries. That we find Henry IV more secure of his throne in his later years than in his earlier is a phenomenon the explanation of which we seek in vain in English affairs alone: it results from the fact that his powerful foe, Louis of Orleans, was murdered in the year 1407 at the instigation of John Duke of Burgundy, and that then the quarrel of the two parties, which divided France, burst out with increased violence, and remained long undecided. From the French there was no longer anything to fear: they emulously sought the alliance of the highest power in England; there even arose circumstances under which the Lancasters could think of renewing the claims of Edward III, from whom they too were descended.


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