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Great Britain to 1688 : a modern history.

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113289

England was born. r

i

s

p A the

modern world

a Becket cut down in Canterbury by servants of his king, Richard III betrayed by Lord Stanley and killed by Henry Tudor at the Battle of Bosw j th Field, Charles I tried by his own people and executed for his crimes these are the vital beginnings. Under the guidance of her peers qi* ^-witted Alfred, controversial ^**g John, headstrong

Thomas

.

:

"

VIII, redheaded Elizabeth, ''Harry's daughter and England's Queen" the island grew to empire,

Henry

shaping by

literature,

language, and

deed her English-speaking heirs around the globe. From her parliaments came a tradition of democracy, from her courts a respect for law, from hec^jcommoners the right to liberty.

Yeomen as well as kings paved the way for democracy and the welfare state. What made them cheer John Lilburne at his

trials

or follow the

Duke of Monmouth into battle? Why had they rallied behind Wat Tyler or Robert Kett? How did the Norman Conquest change

their lives?

Were

continued on back flap

The

15- volume

UNIVERSITY OF MICHI-

GAN HISTORY OF THE MODERN WORLO is a global exploration of the recent past which makes intelligible the current upheavals of our shrinking world. These are books written for everyone who wants to understand modern history in the making.

This

is

a volume in

THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN HISTORY OF THE MODERN WORLD mil consist of the following volumes:

the series

Upon completion, The United

States to 1865

The United

States since 1865

Canada:

A

A

A

Great Britain since 1688:

Germany: Italy:

A

Bartlet Brebner

Modern History by

Great Britain to 1688:

A

by Foster Rhea Dulles

Modern History by John

Latin America:

France:

by Michael Kraus

J.

Fred Rippy

Modern History by Maurice Ashley

A Modem

History by K. B. Smellie

Modern History by Albert Guerard

A

Modern History by Marshall

Dill, Jr.

Modern History by Denis Mack Smith

Russia and the Soviet Union:

A

Modern History by Warren

The Near East:

A

Modern History by William Yale

The Far East:

A

Modern History by Nathaniel

India:

A

Modern History by

The Southwest Africa:

A

Pacific:

A

Peffer

Percival Spear

History by C. Hartley Grattan

Modern History by Ronald Robinson

B. Walsh

GREAT BRITAIN TO A Modem

1688

History

The

University of Michigan History of the

Edited by Allan Nevins and

Modern World

Howard M. Ehrmann

GREAT BRITAIN TO 1688 A Modern History

BY MAURICE ASHLEY

Ann Arbor: The

University of Michigan Press

by The University of Michigan 1961

Copyright

All rights reserved

Published

in the

United States of America by

The University of Michigan Press and simultaneously in Toronto Canada, by Ambassador Books Limited ,

Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 61-8033

Designed by George Lenox

Manufactured

in the

United States of America by

Vail-Ballou Press, Inc., Binghamton,

New York

Preface

Although I have written a number of history books and history has always been the occupation of my leisure and is my delight, I am not

by profession a teacher: indeed

1

belong to what

may be

I fear

a dying

class, that of the intellectual journalist. So in preparing this book I have felt as if my youth has been renewed and I have been allowed to return

old university of Oxford and study, as in happy bygone days thirty years ago, for the papers set in British history in the Honours School.

in spirit to

my

Alas! ghosts walk there. I have in mind in particular the Rt. Hon. H. A. L. Fisher, who was then Warden of my old college (New College called) and encouraged me in the art and science of historical not writing only by precept but by example; for he lectured and wrote more clearly and more attractively than any other Oxford historian of as

it

is

that time.

But

I also

cannot help paying tribute to

my

old friend and

who inspired Llewellyn Woodward, the joys of exploring the problems of modern history. I think he was disappointed that I never became a don or acquired donnish ways.

tutor, Sir in

still

active at Princeton,

me

But that was not his 1

fault.

have tried to recapitulate the early history of

my

country without

and without, I hope, whose books I have Mr. Edward Miller, and Mr. John's St. of Fellow Roger Schofield, College, Cambridge, B.A., of Clare College, Cambridge, for attempting to keep me on the rails, and to Professor Gerald Abraham of Liverpool University for helping me over my chapter on music. I have been struck, as I have been writing this book, how quickly assuming knowledge of the subject in my readers treading upon the corns of those many experts used and tried to understand. I am obliged to

ideas about British history have changed over thirty years. It is not merely that vast quantities of books and articles have been published

PREFACE it only that new generathroughout the English-speaking world. Nor is tions ask new questions. For it seems to me that the form of presentation has changed, that university historians are less sure of themselves than and that they once were, that old patterns are no longer being followed,

old shibboleths have been abandoned. also is important: we are now looking at matters in the the of Nuclear Age in which we live and are reading history books light written not in the buoyant, confident world before the first German war, but books written in what many of us in England regarded as the Age of Guilt. Thirty years ago we were brought up in the afterglow of Vic-

The focus

by Germanic systems.

those systems, of British history, I think, which have been most misleading to students I deal here. Scholars of which the with in my generaperiod especially torian optimism, supplemented

It is

were brought up to talk about the "feudal system," the "manorial system," the "mercantile system," and many other systems. It took me

tion,

a long time to realize that these scarcely existed outside the minds of was invented by antiquarians in the professional historians. Feudalism seventeenth century, when the wickedness of the a commonplace of advanced political argument.

Norman Conquest was We now know that the

"manorial system," which for a generation took pride of place in the textbooks of economic history, had no universal application. The "mersystem" derived from a rather patronizing attitude adopted toward government policies in the era of Free Trade, which died in cantile

in 1931. Thus I have become suspicious whenever I see the word "system" in a history book and I have tried here to leave out words and phrases that imply such a thing. If they have crept into this

England

book

at

all, it

must be blamed on the

historical education I received at

school.

have also

my use of the phrase book. For few scholars agree when they look at the broad continuity of British history what is meant by a medieval idea* It is true that I have given the title "Middle Ages" to the second book of I

"medieval" in

tried, as far as possible, to limit

this

volume, but only because it is admirably vague and I could think no more satisfactory way of describing the period between AngloSaxon times and the Tudor age. My personal view is that the outlook

this

of

of men changed perceptibly in the period when this volume ends, when the great mathematician and physicist Isaac Newton published his Prindpia. The sudden spurt in science and mathematics in the latter half of the seventeenth century, the publication of more sophisticated the birth of ideas, political nonconformity, and the dawn of religious toleration all suggest to me the beginnings of modern times. Yet one recalls that

Newton

himself

was often absorbed

in theology, while the

PREFACE Popish Plot showed impinging upon

how men

could

still

be agitated by religious causes

politics.

Again, the structure of British history thirty years ago was profoundly "constitutional." Economic history was still thought of as a new and rather doubtful subject; there

when

went

was no Professor of Economic History

But constitutional history was de rigueur. Both at school and at the university we were invited to learn volumes of constitutional documents almost by heart. My father did, and so did I. Sir Arthur Haselrig, M.P., said once in the second Protectorate ParI first

to Oxford.

liament: "Princes are mortal, but the Commonwealth lives forever." In the same way we were taught that constitutions had more historical significance than mortal men. The history of England, it seemed, swung between the two poles of the Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights. I was

not persuaded of that

an Oxford college

me

to

in St. Aldate's as

was more

was young, although the present head of me I remember his saying this

I

if it

were yesterday

that constitutional history

it was the embodiment and the history of political ideas was the very best kind. all, men and women who make history. I therefore offer

interesting than any other kind because

of political ideas,

But

when

at that time assured

it is,

after

no apology for pausing

in this book from time to time to give brief character sketches of the rulers of England from Alfred the Great to King James II. I do not believe with Thomas Carlyle that history is a

chain of biographies of great men, but certainly the personal character of rulers has always affected ideas and events. I have witnessed in my lifetime the age of Coolidge

and the age of Franklin D. Roosevelt;

I

have lived through the ages of Ramsay MacDonald, Stanley Baldwin, and Neville Chamberlain, on the one hand, and those of Sir Winston Churchill and Lord Attlee, on the other; and I refuse to consider that it

made no

difference

who our

leaders were.

know is how the government of kings or other rulers has influenced the lives of ordinary people in the past. Modern historical research, which properly concerns itself with social Yet what one would

and economic

affairs

and

like to

local history, as well as big political events

constitutional ideas or revolutions in thought, does this question.

But information,

its

and

utmost to answer

especially for the early period before the

invention of printing, is sparse and will always be incomplete. Only occasionally even in the seventeenth century, which was a prolific time for memoir and letter writers, can we obtain a straightforward insight into the lives of "the

Lilburne at his

why

How off

trials

common people." What made them cheer John or follow the Duke of Monmouth into battle? Or

in earlier times did they rally behind Wat Tyler or Robert Kett? affect their simple lives? Were they better did the Norman

Conquest under Queen Elizabeth I or under King Charles II?

I

have verv tenta-

viii

answer a few of these questions, but I am sure I shall b< told they are unanswerable. As G. K. Chesterton wrote, "We are tht Yet in our own Age o people of England that never have spoken yet." his ancestors speak to hear like we should the Common Man dearly My book, then, is an introduction into that modern world where tin historian of Britain can draw upon newspapers and accurate parliamen lively tried to

White Papers and Blue Books am tary reports, as well as on so many to read in hb cannot as he volumes of "lives and letters" possibly hope whole

life.

Before then there are few authentic

statistics

and much

guesswork. Nevertheless, looking back on our early history, as

I

must

i*

do.

from the vantage point of what we in Britain today call the Welfare State, I take an incurably optimistic view. I have reread what the experts have to say about early days and, having done 1 '

lieve

wholeheartedly either in "golden ages

so,

I

find

it

hard to be-

or in a "Mcrrie England."

To my mind

people as a whole are today better off in nearly every way, better fed, better clothed, better educated, more fully employed and yet with far ampler leisure and more freedom, than they have ever been before in British history. I know what has been said about the "myth of progress," about the benefits that have been conferred by the aristocracy or plutocracy of the past in patronizing the arts, in the pursuit of disinterested knowledge, and in the distribution of charity. I am aware that

material improvements are not everything, that spiritual values have changed, and that the professional classes, to which I belong, are in some respects worse off than they were in

my

father's

and grandfather's days.

Progress has not of course been evenly spaced or unchcckered. One of the first things my history master at St. Paul's School in London told me

when

I was a boy was not to be superior about the "Middle Ages/' Yet think that ordinary Englishmen were in fact happier under the Normans than they were under Alfred the Great and happier in the reign of King

I

Charles II than they were, say, under

But even as recently

as

Henry VI. 300 years ago the world was

for the few,

and

the very few. Slowly order replaced disorder. Gradually the standard of living

was

knowledge increased and became more and women became less inhibited and more in-

raised. Imperceptibly

widely spread.

Men

History itself ceased to be monkish chronicle or political controversy rehashed. It is to be hoped that our children will learn from the telligent.

study of history that men can improve themselves, can overcome war and superstition, as they seem to be overcoming want and ignorance. Their problem is to ensure that physical science is their servant and not their master.

Today

approach Britain.

we have left most of us the "kingdom Thomas Hobbes in The Leviathan. That by

at least

fairies" described

to history, as I see

it

today.

Now I shall begin to

tell

of the is

my

the story of

Contents BOOK

EARLY TIMES

I:

Chapter of Caesar

3

\

Prehistoric Britain to the

n

Britain under the

in

v

The Coming of the Anglo-Saxons 22 The Conversion of England to Christianity 26 The Rise of Wessex and Alfred the Great 32

vi

Origins of Wales, Scotland, and Ireland

vn

From Edward

iv

Coming Romans 8

the Elder to

English Society Before the

ix

The Foundation Confessor

BOOK x xi

II

:

the Confessor

47

Norman Conquest Normandy and the Reign of Edward

vin

of

Edward

41

55

61

MIDDLE AGES

The Norman Conquest 69 The Reigns of William II, Henry

I,

and Stephen 88

77

xni

The Reigns of Henry II and Richard I The Reign of John and Magna Carta

xiv

The Reign

xv

Wales, Scotland, Ireland in the Eleventh, Twelfth, and

xii

of

Henry

103

III

Thirteenth Centuries

96

110

xvi

English Life and Art in the Twelfth and Thirteenth 1 14 Centuries

xvn

The Reigns of Edward I and Edward The Reign of Edward III 128

xvin xix

xx xxi

xxn

England Richard

II

118

Century 135 and the Great Revolt 145

in the Fourteenth II

The Reigns of Henry IV and Henry V 151 The Loss of France and the Wars of the Roses

159

the

Wales, Scotland, and Ireland in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth

xxm

175

Centuries

xxiv

BOOK

180

Fifteenth-century England

III:

THE TUDOR AGE: THE REFORMATION

xxv

English Society in the Early Tudor

xxvi

The Reign

xxvii

Henry VIII and Cardinal Wolsey 203 The English Church on the Eve of the Reformation

xxvin

of

Henry VII

The Beginning

The Last Years

xxxi

The Reign The Reign

xxxn

xxxm

194

of

of

225

Henry VIII

Edward VI

Mary

232

240

I

John Knox and Mary, Queen of Scots The Early Years of Elizabeth I 253

xxxiv

247

xxxv

The Foreign

xxxvi

Elizabeth I and the

xxxvii

The Economic and

xxxvni

The Expansion

xxxix

Learning, Literature, and Art in the Tudor Age

XL

The Character

BOOK

IV

:

208

214

of the English Reformation

xxix

xxx

of

187

Age

Policy of Elizabeth

War

I

259

268

Against Spain

Social Life of the Elizabethan

Age

285

of England

293

300

of Elizabethan England

STUART TIMES: THE ENGLISH REVOLUTION

XLI

The Accession

XLII

The Last Years

XLIII

XLIV

The Reign of Charles I 321 The Coming of the Civil War 330

XLV

The

XLVI

The Execution

First Civil

of James I

309

of James I

War

316

341

of Charles I

349

XL VII

The Interregnum and

XL VIII

The Restoration

XLIX

Charles II and the Rise of Political Parties

L

Economic and England

the Protectorate

of Charles II

357

368

Social Life in Seventeenth

376 Century

382

LI

Education and Culture in the Seventeenth Century

LII

Music Through the Seventeenth Century

397

389

276

CONTENTS xi LIII

Scientific

and

Political Ideas

400

Century LIV

James

LV

toward

LVI

Britain in 1688: Conclusion

and the Revolution of 1688

II

a British Empire

412

420 427

433

Suggested Readings

443

List of Sovereigns

Index

Through the Seventeenth

i

MAPS Celtic

and Roman

Anglo-Saxon England Early Wales

30

42

44

Scotland Ireland

15

Britain

46

France: The Angevin Empire

90

France: The Hundred Years'

War

England and Wales

The World

in the

Tudor England

in

Wars

163

of the Roses

Reign of Queen Elizabeth 282

First British Settlements in

America

172

263

290

England, Wales, and Southern Scotland in the Seventeenth

Century

346

BOOK

I

EARLY TIMES

Prehistoric Britain to

the

Coming of Caesar

"Well," said an American visitor once, when he first saw the cliffs of southern England, "it is a little island and it has often been conquered." The history of Britain up to fewer than 1,000 years ago is that of repeated invasions, in which different tribes, peoples, or nations moved in

from the their

east, north,

own ways upon

and south of Europe to conquer,

settle,

and impose

a small but inviting land.

The invaders

usually crossed what were to be known as the English Channel and the North Sea and spread across the lowland zone of the island. Those who came from modern France or Belgium were again in familiar country indeed, upon the other side of a chalk ridge divided the ocean. Their advance was simplified by the slow-moving rivers by that led into the very heart of the country; alternatively they could

beach

their boats at the

many

excellent harbors

and

the south coast and stretched as far east as the

inlets

which dotted

mouth of the

river

Thames. In early times Britain was exceptionally vulnerable to assault by peoples hungry for land and was therefore in the end inhabited by an extremely mixed population. "Saxon and Norman and Dane are we": Iberian and Celtic, Roman and Jutish, Frisian and Norwegian too truly a melting pot of early Europe. one is certain about the origin of Britain's name. By the ancients the island was called "Albion," the White Land, and was supposed to be

No

A

Greek merchant, Pytheas of part of the lost continent of Atlantis. a of in the forerunner Columbus Marseilles, age of Alexander the Great and the first explorer known by name to have traveled to the island, deinhabitants as the "Pretanic" or painted people. Julius Caesar, following perhaps wrongly and obscurely the geographers of the Classical World, called the country which he invaded "Britannia"; and Britain it scribed

its

has remained.

The country was flourished

from the

first

famous for

earliest

its

tin in

recorded times.

which an export trade

Its forests

afforded timber

of many kinds; the damp, mixed, but never extreme, climate made the land green, wherever the forest was not king; it was lavishly watered and much of it was easy to cultivate with a primitive spade or plough.

Throughout the lowlands

it

was a gentle and welcoming country, and

it

4

possessed rich coal and iron ore deposits, to be enjoyed by future ger erations.

The lowland zone

of Britain extended across the south, middle, an

bounded, apart from the sea, by a where the city of Exeter now stands to the east,

zone was far

less attractive to invaders.

running north-east fror

line site

of

Durham. The

Broken by

the

highlani

Midland Gap

un
79 Stuart, a cousin of the king, arrived from France,~bis au-

fierce

and tough old

Kirk.

He overcame

when Esme thority was undermined and

1580 he was executed on a iromj^&Aip first Duke of Lennox, was a fasStuart* charge. cinating intriguer and proved to be an evil influence upon the boy-king. He exploited the king's profound affection for him, drawing him "into a carnal lust'* in sharp reaction against his Puritan upbringing by Buchanan^Lennox, though he declared himself to be converted to Prot-

Esme

in

who was

created

GREAT BRITAIN TO 1688 310 estantism, induced the king to enter into relations with France and other Catholic powers and to write affectionate letters to his mother, who then proposed that they should be associated together in the rule of Scotland.

Neither the Scottish Protestant nobility nor the Presbyterian clergy to acquiesce in the king's approaches to his mother and

was prepared

Roman Catholics. In 1582 James VI was kidnapped when hunting near Perth; Lennox was ordered to leave the country; the Scottish ministers trumpeted their conquest from the pulpits. Their victory was the

short-lived.

With the aid of James Stewart, Earl of Arran, and the Arch-

bishop of St. Andrews, the Protestant lords were in turn defeated; a Scottish parliament in 1584 put an end for the time being to the Presbyterian system, declaring King James VI to be head of the Church. Again the situation rapidly changed. Arran was now defeated; the Protestant leaders and ministers returned; but the king remained free. In

with England and accepted a pension from Queen Elizabeth. Thus when his mother was put to death for treason in February 1587 he had high hopes that if he were cautious 1586 he concluded an

alliance

and did not blot his copybook he would yet be Queen Elizabeth's successor in England. He weathered the storm of Scottish anger at the fate of Mary, Queen of Scots; he made it clear that in spite of public pleas and protests he had no intention of avenging his mother. And wisely he did not commit himself to the Spanish cause while King Philip II was preparing to invade England.

|

and conspiracies rent Scottish history in Complicated the 1590's; for a time the Catholics were in the ascendant and at anintrigues, plots,

James VI married

in 1589 a young blonde him Danish princess named Anne who gave several children, including Prince Charles, the future King Charles I of England, who was born in other, the Presbyteriana/iKing

1600. Gradually the king strengthened his own place in Scottish politics; he overthrew the Catholic lords in 1595, then in 1597 he attacked

first

the leaders of the Kirk and restored the bishops. He successfully frustrated fresh plans to kidnap, depose, or even kill hiny/When in 1598 and

1599 he published two books, The Trew Law of Free Monarchies and the Basilikon Down, in which he set out lofty claims for the divine right of kings, he could fairly assert that the

and shown

he knew more than most men about

He

of monarchy. had overcome a thousand intrigues himself to be a master of his many unruly subjects. Moreover

difficult art

he had kept out of trouble in his tricky relations with Queen Elizabeth. Therefore in the spring of 1603, when he left Edinburgh for London to claim his throne at Westminster,

he could

fairly

boast that at the age

of thirty-nine he was an old, experienced, and successful king/ King James was delighted with his heritage and his new subjects

THE ACCESSION OF JAMES

I

311

appeared pleased with him. They greeted him enthusiastically, and swarmed along the roads to meet him: they thought of him as a good Protestant rulert with adequate progeny to ensure a Protestant suc!

cession, .even

of golden

if

he was only a poor Scottish relative of the

late

queen

memory.iThe poet Dekker wrote: Blest

God, when we

for fear scarce

looked to have seen Peace's moonshine

Then

send'st from the North, past all our hopes, King James his glorious sunshine.

There was a pronounced dualism in the character of the man who I of -England. He was both uncouth and sophisticated,

ribald

man" who craved

and

philosophical, clever

love, but

and

was unlovable. In

foolish:

an "old young

his conduct of business

he was nervous and excitable, willful and /often lazy. Extravagant in his habits, he had a fine opinion of himselfejSoon tiring of his wife, he reverted to his normal homosexuality.! When Jie came to England he was dazzled by the opportunities that opened before himfJFreed from the bullying of the Scottish nobles and ministers, no longer poor or despised, he expected his will to prevail in this wealthy kingdom just as

Queen

Elizabeth's

had done. What he

failed to understand

was

that

England the nobility did not count for as much as it did in Scotland, that the middle classes represented in parliament were already insistin

ing upon their right to wider political authority than they had ever exand that it was only the skilled statecraft of his predeercised before/ cessor and her ministers that kept the government in command of events

and the Puritan movement, which corresponded roughly to the Scottish Presbyterian, under control. 'The House of Commons, for its part, when it met in 1604, contained a number of outstanding leaders in debate and committee who had also served in Queen Elizabeth I's last parliament, but very few privy coun-

new monarch/ it disclosed a nuand showed a determination to right

cilors to represent the interests of the

cleus of resistance to court policies

grievances of which many members had long been conscious. /Meanwhile the Puritans within the English Church hoped that their new ruler

with his Presbyterian upbringing and background would be sympathetic to their demands for reform, especially for the abolition of Catholic ritual

which the old queen had fought

himself naturally enough adhered to

to preserve) In fact, the king

Queen

Elizabeth's policies: he had no intention of abating the prerogatives of the Crown; he had no wish to enhance the strength of the House of Commons; and remembering his own painful experiences in Scotland, he found the extreme all

views of the Puritans repugnant. Like Elizabeth also, he regarded the

GREAT BRITAIN TO 1688 312

episcopacy as a bulwark of the monarchy.

He

coined the phrase "no

in its way, bebishop, no king." Thus the honeymoon, genuine enough tween him and his new subjects did not last for long. The conflict between the Crown and parliament, which had been looming up in the down by the early years of Queen Elizabeth but had been damped of King character The of war the exigencies against Spain, reappeared.

James I, whatever its weaknesses, was only one factor in a struggle which had begun before he arrived in London and was to continue throughout the whole of British history in the seventeenth century. '""When the first parliament of the reign met in March 1604 the memactive parliament. It

new

proved to be an extremely held four sessions averaging about 100 days in

bers crowded in to hear their

king. It

compared with the longest session of 76 days in the reign Queen Elizabeth I; it set up many committees; and the first "committee of the whole House" met in 1607/King4ames I rubbed it the

length, as

of

v

wrong way. \Whenite published a proclamation for the elections of members he ordered that all returns should be made into chancery, which was to decide upon their validity,] A case soon arose when an outlaw named Sir Francis Goodwin was returned; the House of Commons declared that he was properly elected and insisted that it was its right and not that of the court of

chancery

to decide

upon

the validity of the re-

turns of members.^ In the end/the king was obSged to give way, although a new writ was issued/Another constitutional case related to an M.P.

who was confined in the Fleet prison for debt. The House of Commons summoned the warder of the Fleet and committed him to the Tower of London for a breach of its privileges. Again the king was compelled to intervene and to .yield.

^House

'

an old grievance which had the namely prerogative right of the to exact to pre-empt for servants king "purveyance," enabling royal goods at low prices; the Commons also objected to the right of wardIn

its first

session this

been expressed in

also raised

earlier times,

ship whereby the king could draw profits from the properties of well-todo minors who were orphans of tenants-in-chief. These wardships, like

commercial and industrial patents, were usually conferred upon courtiers as rewards or perquisites. The king resented the complaints and scolded the

Commons

for ventilating them.

They now

retorted with an

"apology" which was one of the most outspoken statements ever to be published by the House: it was, in effect, a reminder to a "foreign" king of what the powers and privileges of an English parliament consisted: their privileges, it was asserted, were "more universally and dangerously impugned than ever before." firm: "let

The conclusion was

polite but

your Majesty be pleased to receive public information from

THE ACCESSION OF JAMES

I

313

your

Commons

as to the civil estate

and government" for "the voice of is said to be as the voice

the people, in the things of their knowledge, of God."

Before the parliament met for its next session an attempt was made by a group of Roman Catholic conspirators to blow up the king and

both houses of parliament in what was known as the Gunpowder Treason or Plot. The plot was betrayed and detected at the last moment.

Whatever the exact truth about shocked and

blown up,

it

its

origins

may have

been, the episode

The king explained that if he had been would have been in the best of company and in the most

thrilled the nation.

honorable place in the country, far better than, say, an ale house or a brothel. Gratified by this