Classic History Books


The History of England by A. E. Pollard

give Ireland a really efficient government, but the extent of the danger in 1598-1602 stimulated an effort
which resulted in the first real conquest of Ireland; and Englishmen set themselves to do the same work,

with about the same amount of benevolence, for the Irish that the Normans had done for the

Anglo-Saxons.

So far Tudor monarchy had proved an adequate exponent of English nationalism, because nationalism
had been concerned mainly with the external problems of defence against foreign powers and

jurisdictions. But with the defeat of the Spanish Armada, the urgency of those problems passed away;

and during the last fifteen years of Elizabeth's reign national feelings found increasing expression in

parliament and in popular literature. In all forms of literature, but especially in the Shakespearean drama,

the keynote of the age was the evolution of a national spirit and technique, and their emancipation from

the influence of classical and foreign models. In domestic politics a rift appeared between the monarchy

and the nation. For one thing the alliance, forged by Henry VIII between the crown and parliament,

against the church, was being changed into an alliance between the crown and church against the

parliament, because parliament was beginning to give expression to democratic ideas of government in

state and church which threatened the principle of personal rule common to monarchy and to episcopacy.

"No Bishop, no King," was a shrewd aphorism of James I, which was in the making before he reached

the throne. In other respects - such as monopolies, the power of the crown to levy indirect taxation

without consent of parliament, to imprison subjects without cause shown, and to tamper with the

privileges of the House of Commons - the royal prerogative was called in question. Popular acquiescence

in strong personal monarchy was beginning to waver now that the need for it was disappearing with the

growing security of national independence. People could afford the luxuries of liberty and party strife

when their national existence was placed beyond the reach of danger; and a national demand for a greater

share of self-government, which was to wreck the House of Stuart, was making itself heard before, on

March 24, 1603, the last sovereign of the line which had made England a really national state passed

away.

 

CHAPTER V. THE STRUGGLE FOR SELF-GOVERNMENT

1603-1815

National independence and popular self-government, although they were intimately associated as the two
cardinal dogmas of nineteenth-century liberalism, are very different things; and the achievement of

complete national independence under the Tudors did not in the least involve any solution of the question

of popular self-government. Still, that achievement had been largely the work of the nation itself, and a

nation which had braved the spiritual thunders of the papacy and the temporal arms of Philip II would not

be naturally submissive under domestic tyranny. Perhaps the fact that James I was an alien hastened the

admonition, which parliament addressed to him in the first session of the reign, to the effect that it was

not prepared to tolerate in him many things which, on account of her age and sex, it had overlooked in

Elizabeth.

Parliament began the constitutional conflict thus foreshadowed with no clear constitutional theory; and
its views only crystallized under pressure of James I's pretensions. James possessed an aptitude for

political speculation, which was rendered all the more dangerous by the facilities he enjoyed for putting

his theories into practice. He tried to reduce monarchy to a logical system, and to enforce that system as

practical politics. He had succeeded to the English throne in spite of Henry VIII's will, which had been

given the force of a parliamentary statute, and in spite of the common law which disabled an alien from

 

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