Category Archives: Royalty

The First Parliamentary War

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The First Parliamentary War – 1763

John WilkesParliament met on Tuesday, the 15th of November.  For many weeks the whole nation had been looking forward to this day, as though a decisive battle in foreign warfare was to be lost or won.  All were aware that there had been few contests in the history of England upon which graver issues had depended, since the fight between the Opposition and the Ministry over the body of John Wilkes would decide whether the king or Parliament was henceforth to control the destinies of the people.  Dense crowds were gathered in the courtyards outside the old Palace of Westminster.  Members of both Houses thronged the long corridors within, each party having mobilised its forces for the great fight. There was an atmosphere of unaccustomed excitement everywhere.  Each face was aglow with expectation; all hurried to and fro with quick eager footsteps.  

Long before the Speaker took his seat every bench was filled in the chapel of St. Stephen’s, where the Commons assembled, and members were standing along its panelled walls.  Although not as notable an assembly as some of the Parliaments that had gone before and came soon after, it still contained the most noble figure that ever entered those doors.  He sat amidst his colleagues of the Opposition this great William Pitt, grim and aloof, unconscious of the incessant glances that were cast upon him, a tall gaunt man in ill-fitting clothes, and though the shadow of pain and sickness rested upon his cheeks and he leant forward in his seat with the stoop of the valetudinarian, the gleam of his blue eyes revealed the unquenchable fire that glowed within his breast, and the fierce curved nose and stern mobile lips gave an impression of power and virility to his pale face.  Across the House his brother-in-law, the Premier, bent over a sheaf of notes, a silent, bloodless man with a hacking cough, his firm mouth and tilted nostrils indicating the proud Grenville obstinacy, and while he had none of Pitt’s fiery eloquence, his clear logical speeches made him one of the most formidable of debaters.

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John Wilkes

 

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John Wilkes – Liberty

‘North Briton’ No. 45 (23 April 1763) dealt with the speech from the throne preceding the recent adjournment, and characterised a passage in which the peace of Hubertsburg was treated as a consequence of the peace of Paris, as ‘the most abandoned instance of ministerial effrontery ever attempted to be imposed on mankind;’ nay, even insinuated that the king had been induced to countenance a deliberate lie.

The resentment of the king (George III) and the court knew no bounds, and the law officers advised that the article was a seditious libel.  Proceedings in the ordinary course were, however, precluded by the anonymity of the publication; and accordingly the two warrants which were issued by the secretaries of state (Egremont and Halifax) for the apprehension of the authors, printers, and publishers of the alleged libel and the seizure of their papers contained the names of the printers only.  The secretaries had no higher jurisdiction than justices of the peace, and as a justice’s warrant was valid only against the persons named therein, there was thus in fact no warrant under which Wilkes could be legally arrested. 

The printers were first apprehended, and, on the information of one of them, Wilkes was taken early in the forenoon of 30 April, on his way from the Temple to his house in Great George Street, Westminster.  The officers entered the house with him, and John Almon q. v. calling about the same time, the news was carried to Lord Temple, who at once applied for a habeas corpus.  Wilkes was meanwhile taken before the secretaries.   He parried their questions and protracted the examination until the habeas corpus had been granted.  There was, however, some delay in the actual issue of the writ, of which the secretaries took advantage by committing Wilkes to the Tower under a warrant which directed him to be kept close prisoner.

The direction was obeyed to the letter, neither his legal advisers nor the Duke of Grafton nor Lord Temple being permitted to see him.  Temple, as lord-lieutenant of Buckinghamshire, received the king’s express orders to cancel Wilkes’s commission in the militia.  He obeyed (5 May), and was then himself dismissed from the lieutenancy (7 May).  Wilkes’s house had meanwhile been thoroughly ransacked, and his papers, even the most private and personal, seized.

Excerpt from The Dictionary of National Biography Volume 21 1909

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Martin Luther writes to Henry VIII

The Life and Letters of Martin Luther

by Reserved Smith PH.D. 1911

Martin Luthers Letter to Henry VIII – September 1, 1525

September 1 he dispatched the following missive:

Martin LutherTO HENRY VIII OF ENGLAND
Wittenberg, September 1, 1525.

Grace and peace in Christ, our Lord and Saviour.  Amen.  Indeed, Most Serene and Illustrious King, I ought greatly to fear to address your Majesty in a letter, as I am fully aware that your Majesty is deeply offended at my pamphlet, which I published foolishly and precipitately, not of my own motion but at the hest of certain men who are not your Majesty’s friends.  But daily seeing your royal clemency, I take hope and courage; I will not believe that a mortal can cherish immortal hatred.  I have learned from credible authority that the book published over your Majesty’s name was not written by your Majesty, but by crafty men of guile who abused your name, especially by that monster detested of God and man, that pest of your kingdom, Cardinal Wolsey.  They did not see the danger of humiliating their king.  I am ashamed to raise my eyes to your Majesty because I allowed myself to be moved by this despicable work of malignant intriguers, especially as I am the offscouring of the world, a mere worm who ought only to live in contemptuous neglect.

What impels me to write, abject as I am, is that your Majesty has begun to favor the Evangelic cause and to feel disgust at the abandoned men who oppose us.  This news was a true gospel ie: tidings of great joy to my heart;  If your Serene Majesty wishes me to recant publicly and write in honor of your Majesty, will you graciously signify your wish to me and I will gladly do so….

Your Majesty’s most devoted,
MARTIN LUTHER, with his own hand.

Henry VIII

This letter naturally did no good.  Indeed, though Luther was certainly sincere in his desire to conciliate, he never displayed greater lack of tact than in dispraising the King’s book and favorite minister.  After a long delay, Henry replied in a fiercer work than before, printing Luther’s missive with mocking comments, and taunting him with having caused the Peasants’ Revolt and with living in wantonness with a nun.

The King sent his epistle, which reached the proportions of a small book, to Duke George, and it was promptly published in Germany at his instigation under the title, ‘Luther’s Offer to Recant in a letter to the King of England.’

Pilgrimage of Grace

 

The Pilgrimage of Grace from

The History of the Catholic Church Volume II- 1914

By Rev James MacCaffrey – Professor of Ecclesiastical History, St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth

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Monasteries of England and Wales in the time of Henry VIIIThe Pilgrimage of Grace in the north was destined to prove a much more dangerous movement. Early in October 1536 the people of York, determined to resist, and by the middle of the month the whole country was up in arms under the leadership of Robert Aske, a country gentleman and a lawyer well-known in legal services in London. Soon the movement spread through most of the counties of the north. York was surrendered to the insurgents without a struggle. Pomfret Castle, where the Archbishop of York and many of the nobles had fled for refuge, was obliged to capitulate, and Lord Darcy, the most loyal supporter of the king in the north, agreed to join the party of Aske. Hull opened its gates to the rebels, and before the end of October a well trained army of close on 40,000 men led by the principal gentlemen of the north lay encamped four miles north of Doncaster, where the Duke of Norfolk at the head of 8,000 of the king’s troops awaited the attack. The Duke, fully conscious of the inferiority of his forces and well aware that he could not count on the loyalty of his own soldiers, many of whom favoured the demands of the rebels, determined to gain time by opening negotiations for a peaceful settlement (27th Oct.). Two messengers were dispatched to submit their grievances to the king, and it was agreed that until an answer should be received both parties should observe the truce. The king met the demands for the maintenance of the old faith, the restoration of the liberties of the Church, and the dismissal of ministers like Cromwell by a long explanation and defence of his political and religious policy, and the messengers returned to announce that the Duke of Norfolk was coming for another conference. Many of the leaders argued that the time for peaceful remonstrances had passed, and that the issue could be decided now only by the sword. Had their advice been acted upon the results might have been disastrous for the king, but the extreme loyalty of both the leaders and people, and the fear that civil war in England would lead to a new Scottish invasion, determined the majority to exhaust peaceful means before having recourse to violence.

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Debasement of the Coinage

 

Debasement of the Coinage from

The Labor Problem

by Richard Theodore Ely, James A. Waterworth, Fred Woodrow – 1866

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The Coining ProcessDebasement of the Coinage – The infamous act which destroyed resistance to the enforcement of the statutory wages was the debasement of the coinage, begun under  Henry VIII and continued under the Protectorate. 

Debasing the currency is the last and gravest political crime a government can commit against its people. It is especially a crime against the laborer, whose margin of income over expenditure is of the smallest.  Up to this time the penny in which his wages were paid contained 11.1 grains of pure silver. In 1543 Henry debased it to 8.3 grains; in 1545 to 5 grains; in 1546 to 3.3 grains; and under Somerset’s protectorate it was further debased in 1551 to 1.6 grains!  In those days of slow and imperfect communication it was some time before the fraud began to operate on prices, and the laborer was the last to perceive how he was being robbed.  Slowly but surely, however, the workman found that his wages were losing their purchasing power. One can imagine the terror of the ignorant laborer as he saw the value of his money disappearing, till at last the vile trash which represented his week’s wages would not purchase two days provisions. This was an enemy be could not fight. The lately prosperous and independent workman found himself a beggar, and his children starving. Wherever he turned for relief he met only disappointment. The desolate halls of the monastery mocked his misery. Its hospitable ambry was empty, its hearth-stone cold.  In his cottage, lately so joyous, he saw only starvation and despair. Men who had hitherto been industrious and honest now roamed the country either as open robbers or as “sturdy beggars.”

Savage laws were enacted to repress these crimes.  By the first Edward VI. it was enacted that the landless and destitute poor be reduced to slavery, branded, and made to work in chains. An act was passed prohibiting “all confederacies, and promises of workmen concerning their work or wages, or the hours of the day when they should work.”  Any violation of this statute was to be punished: for a first offence by a fine of £10, or twenty days imprisonment; for a second offence by a fine of £20, or the pillory; for a third offence by a fine of £40, the pillory, the loss of the left ear, and judicial infamy. This statute was not repealed till 1824.

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The Oath of Supremacy

The Oath of Supremacy from

The History of the Catholic Church Volume II- 1914

By Rev James MacCaffrey – Professor of Ecclesiastical History, St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth

 

The Great Seal of Henry VIII

The Oath of Supremacy – In October 1536 the men of Lincoln took up arms in defence of their religion. Many of the noblemen were forced to take part in the movement, with which they sympathised, but which they feared to join lest they should be exposed to the merciless vengeance of the king. The leaders proclaimed their loyalty to the crown, and announced their intention of sending agents to London to present their petitions. They demanded the restoration of the monasteries, the removal of heretical bishops such as Cranmer and Latimer, and the dismissal of evil advisers like Cromwell and Rich. Henry VIII. returned a determined refusal to their demands, and dispatched the Earl of Shrewsbury and the Duke of Suffolk to suppress the rebellion. The people were quite prepared to fight, but the noblemen opened negotiations with the king’s commanders, and advised the insurgents to disperse. The Duke of Suffolk entered the city of Lincoln amidst every sign of popular displeasure, although since the leaders had grown fainthearted no resistance was offered. Those who had taken a prominent part in the rebellion were arrested and put to death; the oath of supremacy was tendered to every adult; and by the beginning of April 1537, all traces of the rebellion had been removed.

The Biography of Elizabeth I (1533-1603)

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The Biography of Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603) Queen of England and Ireland
From The Dictionary of National Biography – Volume 6, 1908

ELIZABETH I (1533-1603), queen of  England and  Ireland, was born at Greenwich on 7 Sept. 1533. She was the daughter of Henry VIII, by Anne Boleyn q. v., whose secret marriage had been celebrated in the previous January. Three days after her birth (10 Sept.) she was baptised at the church of the Grey Friars at Greenwich by Stokesley, bishop of London, Cranmer, who had been consecrated archbishop of Canterbury that same year, standing as her godfather. The ritual was that of the Roman church, and the ceremonial was conducted with great pomp and magnificence. Margaret, lady Bryan, mother of the dissolute but gifted Sir Francis Bryan q. v., was appointed governess to the young princess, as she had previously been to her sister, the Princess Mary. Lady Bryan proved herself to be a careful and affectionate guardian, who, under circumstances of extraordinary difficulty, consistently kept in view the interests of her ward. During the first two or three years of her infancy the princess was moved about from house to house. Sometimes she was at Greenwich, sometimes at Hatfield, sometimes at the Bishop of Winchester’s palace at Chelsea. On Friday, 7 Jan. 1536, Queen Catherine died at Kimbolton. On Friday, 19 May, Queen Anne Boleyn was beheaded. Next day the king married Jane Seymour. On 1 July the parliament declared that the Lady Mary, daughter of the first queen, and the Princess Elizabeth, daughter of the second, were equally illegitimate, and that ‘the succession to the throne be now therefore determined to the issue of the marriage with Queen Jane. Less than six months before (Sunday, 9 Jan.), Henry, in the glee of his heart at Queen Catherine’s death, ‘clad all over in yellow, from top to toe, except the white feather he had in his bonnet,’ had sent for the little princess, who was ‘conducted to mass with trumpets and other great triumphs,’ and after dinner, ‘carrying her in his arms, he showed her first to one and then to another.’

 

The Biography of Mary I (1516-1558)

Mary I

 

The Biography of Mary I (1516-1558)
From The Dictionary of National Biography – Volume 12, 1909

MARY I (1516-1558), queen of  England and Ireland, third but only surviving child of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, was born at four o’clock in the morning of Monday, 18 Feb. 1515-16 at Greenwich Palace. She was baptised with great solemnity on Wednesday, 20 Feb., in the monastery of Grey Friars, which adjoined Greenwich Palace. Margaret Pole, countess of Salisbury q. v., carried her to the font, assisted by the Dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk. The Princess Catherine Plantagenet, daughter of Edward IV, and the Duchess of Norfolk were her godmothers. Cardinal Wolsey stood godfather. The infant was named Mary, after her father’s favourite sister see Mary, 1496-1533, After baptism, the girl received the rite of confirmation, the Countess of Salisbury acting as sponsor. To the countess, a very pious catholic, the queen confided the general care of the child, while Catherine, wife of Leonard Pole (a kinsman of the countess’s husband, Sir Richard Pole), was appointed her nurse, and before she was a year old, Henry Rowte, a priest, became her chaplain and clerk of the closet. For her first year Mary chiefly lived under the same roof as her parents. The autumn of 1517 she spent at the royal residence of Ditton Park, Buckinghamshire, within easy reach of Windsor. In February 1518, when she was just two, Henry VIII, carrying her in his arms, introduced her to a crowd of courtiers, including Wolsey and Sebastian Giustinian, the Venetian ambassador. All kissed the child’s hand, but Mary suddenly cast her eyes on a Venetian friar, Dionisius Meno, the king’s organist, and calling out, ‘Priest, priest,’ summoned him to play with her (Giustinian, ii. 161; BREWER, i 232).  The childish cry – Mary’s first reported words – almost seems of prophetic import. About the same time Margaret, wife of Sir Thomas Bryan, was made governess to the princess, and there were added to her household a chamberlain (Sir Weston Browne) and a treasurer (Richard Sydnour).

The Biography of Edward VI (1537-1558)

The Biography of Edward VI (1537-1558)
From The Dictionary of National Biography – Volume 6, 1908

Edward VI
Edward VI

EDWARD VI (1537-1553), king of  England, was son of Henry VIII by his third wife, Jane Seymour, daughter of Sir John Seymour of Wolf Hall, Savernake, Wiltshire. His father married 19 May 1536, and the son was born at Hampton Court 12 Oct 1537. A letter under the queen’s signet announced the event to ‘the lord privy seal’ on the same day. The christening took place in the chapel at Hampton Court on 15 Oct Princess Mary was godmother, and Archbishop Cranmer and the Duke of Norfolk godfathers. The Marchioness of Exeter carried the infant in her arms during the ceremony. On 19 Oct. Hugh Latimer sent the minister Cromwell a characteristic letter, entreating that the child should be brought up in the protestant faith. Queen Jane Seymour died on 24 Oct., and the despatch sent to foreign courts to announce her death dwelt on the nourishing health of the prince. In his first year Holbein painted his portrait and that of his wet nurse,’ Mother lak.’ As early as March 1539 a separate household was established for the boy. Sir William Sidney became chamberlain, and Sir John Cornwallis steward. There were also appointed a comptroller, vice-chamberlain, almoner dean, lady-mistress, nurse, and rockers. Lady Bryan, who had brought up both the Princesses Mary and Elizabeth, received the office of lady-mistress, and Sybil Penne, sister of Sir William Sidneys wife, was nominated chief nurse in October 1538. George Owen was the prince’s physician from the first.

The Biography of Henry VIII (1491-1547)

Henry VIII
Henry VIII

The Biography of Henry VIII (1491-1547) King of England
From The Dictionary of National Biography – Volume 9, 1908

Henry VIIIHENRY VIII (1491-1547), king of  England, was the second son of  Henry VII, by his queen, Elizabeth of York q. v. He was born at Greenwich on 28 June 1491. When little more than three years of age he was, 12 Sept. 1494, appointed lieutenant of Ireland, with Poynings as his deputy. On 31 Oct. following his father dubbed him knight of the Bath, and next day created him Duke of York. In 1495 he was admitted into the order of the Garter, and installed on 17 May. In 1501 a marriage was proposed between him and Eleanor, daughter of the Archduke Philip, but the project was soon dropped. After the death of his brother Arthur (1486-1502) q. v. he was created Prince of Wales on 18 Feb. 1503, and soon after contracted to his brother’s widow, Catherine of Aragon q. v.  A dispensation was granted for the match by Julius II on 26 Dec. 1503, and was sent by Ferdinand of Spain to England in 1504. But on 27 June 1505, being then close upon the age of puberty, he protested that the contract made during his minority was against his mind, and that he would not ratify it (Collier, Exl Hist., ed. 1862, ix. 66). This, however, was merely a device of his father to keep himself free from any engagement to Ferdinand until the latter should send to England Catherine’s stipulated dowry, only part of which had been paid see under  Henry VII. Owing to the dispute on this subject,  Henry VII to the close of his reign would not allow his son to proceed to the completion of this marriage, and young Henry himself was not impatient for it. Rumours were even spread that his father intended to marry him to Margaret, sister of Francis, count d’Angouleme, afterwards Francis I, a match first suggested by Cardinal d’Amboise. In 1506 Philip, king of Castile, who was driven by storms to land in England on his way from the Netherlands to Spain, conferred upon young Henry the order of the Toison d’Or.

From his earliest boyhood he was carefully educated. Erasmus, who visited the royal household when he was nine (or more probably only eight) years old, was struck even then with a sort of royal precocity of intellect which he combined with a highly polished manner. Boy as he was, he wrote during dinner a note to the great scholar requesting to be favoured with some production of his pen, which Erasmus gave him three days after in the form of a Latin poem (Prefatory epistle to Botxheim, in Catalogo Erasmi Lucubrationum, Basle, 1523). Nor was he less devoted to bodily than to mental exercises. At seventeen he was daily to be seen tilting at the ring with friendly rivals. At twenty-nine, when he had been some years king, and was the handsomest prince in Europe, he could tire out eight or ten horses in the course of a day’s hunting, mounting each successively after one was exhausted. His tennis playing also excited the admiration of the Venetian ambassador Giustinian. Added to these gifts was a great delight in music, and a devout observance of religious ordinances.

On 22 April 1509 he was called to the throne by his father’s death, and on 11 June following he married Catherine of Arragon. They were both crowned together at Westminster on the 24th. His father had been on ill terms with his father-in-law for some time before his death. But now many things were changed. A general pardon had been proclaimed at his accession; many debtors of the crown were released from their engagements; Empson and Dudley were thrown into the Tower, and were next year beheaded. Young Henry was at peace with all the world, and the first two years of his reign went merrily in pageants and festivities.