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A History of England Principally in the Seventeent

The ancestor of the Lancasters


it was owing to the internal discord of the ruling family that throughout the course of its history a path was made for political and national development, and so it was now: these crimes opened a way out of the disorders of the time. For as Richard, while continuing to persecute the house of Lancaster, struck still harder blows against the chief members of that of York, he gave occasion to the principal persons of both parties, who were equally threatened, and had the same interest in opposing the usurper, to draw nearer to each other.

The widowed Queen Elizabeth, who was lingering out her life in a sanctuary, was brought into secret connexion through the mediation of distinguished friends with the mother of the man who now came forward as head of the Lancasters, Henry Earl of Richmond, and it was determined that Henry and Elizabeth's daughter, in whom the claims of both lines were united, should marry each other, a prospect which might well prepare the way for the immediate combination of the two parties. Henry of Richmond at their head was then to confront the usurper and chase him from the throne. The fugitives scattered about in the sanctuaries and churches called him to be their captain.[72]

The question arises--it has been often answered in the negative--whether Henry was rightfully a Lancaster, and whether he had any well-grounded claims on the English crown. He loved to derive his family from the hero

of the Welsh, the fabulous Arthur. His grandfather, Owen Tudor, a Welshman, was brought into connexion with the royal house by his marriage with Henry V's widow, Catharine of France: for unions of royal ladies with distinguished gentlemen were then not rare. And Owen Tudor of course obtained by this a higher position, but there could be no question of any claim to the crown. This was derived simply from the fact that the son of this marriage, Edmund Tudor Earl of Richmond, married a lady of the house of Somerset, descended by her father from John of Gaunt, the ancestor of the Lancasters, by his third marriage with Catharine Swynford. It has been said that this marriage, in itself of an irregular nature, was only recognised as legitimate by Richard II on the condition that the issue from it should have no claim to the succession--and so it is in fact stated in the often printed Patent. But the original of the document still exists, and that in two forms, one of which is in the Rolls of Parliament, the other on the Patent Rolls. In the first the limitation is wanting, in the second it exists, but as an interpolation by a later hand. It may be taken as admitted that Richard II in legitimising the marriage did not make this condition, and that it was first inserted by Henry IV (who took offence at the legitimisation of his half-brothers) at the ratification. But the legitimisation once effected could not possibly be limited in a one-sided manner by a later sovereign. I think no objection can be made to the legality of Henry VII's claim, which then passed over to his successors.[73] The limitation belonged to those proceedings of one-sided caprice by which Henry IV tried to secure for his direct descendants the perpetual possession of the crown. It was not from him, but from his father, the founder of the family, that the Earls of Richmond derived their claim.

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