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Edward

subsidies

life to

of the "ancient customs" and of the “new or small customs

were added, during the reign of Edward III., three distinct and additional separate kinds of customs revenue in the form of extraordinary subsidies ; subsidies granted by parliament to the king for the time being,

as opposed to the crown in perpetuity. They consisted (1) of export duties on wool, skins, and leather, with a complementary duty on exported cloth; (2) of tonnage, an import duty on the

tun of wine; and (3) of poundage, an ad valorem duty on goods custom and not specially enumerated, exported, or imported. “From the regularly twenty-third year of Edward III. the custom and subsidy, levied after levied as it was henceforth with scarcely any intermission, the 23d of

amounted on an average to some 33 per cent. in the case of III. ;

denizens, and 40 per cent. in that of aliens, upon the gross value of the commodity.” 2 When the new sources of customs

revenue known as the subsidies were granted in 1397 to Richgranted for ard II. for life, it was with the express proviso that the grant Richard II., “should not be made a precedent in the time of his succesHenry V.,

While in obedience to that principle no life grant Henry VI.

and

» 3

of the subsidies was made to Henry IV., such grants were made to Henry V. in 1415,4 and to Henry VI. in 1453. Thus before the fall of the house of Lancaster parliament had definitely secured, in addition to its other sovereign attributes, the exclusive control of every form of direct or indirect taxation. With its powers and privileges thus organized and consolidated, it did appear as if in the assembly of estates the English nation had at last found a defender strong enough and constant enough to maintain its liberties against the monarchy in all the years of struggle and of change that were yet to come. And yet the fact remains that the parliamentary system, whose too rapid growth had resulted in a premature development, gave way when it was subjected for the first time to the crucial test in the storm and stress of civil war.

The fall of the house of Lancaster synchronizes with the collapse of the parliamentary system. While the parliament

sors."

1 See Dowell, Hist. of Taxation, vol. claim it of right and custom.” — Ibid., i. p. 165.

104. 2 Hubert Hall, Hist. of the Custom 4 Ibid., v. 64. Revenue, p. 74.

5 Ibid., v. 228, 229. Like grants Par. Rolls, iii. 114, 368. In a prior were made to Richard III., to the Tudor renewal in 1381 a week was permitted sovereigns, and to James I. See Dowto intervene, “lest the king by continual ell, Hist. of Taxation, vol. i. pp. 172– possession of the said subsidy might 177, 182.

did not then cease to exist, its authority, during a long period Collapse of of time, suffered a very serious diminution. With the acces- ture parliasion of the house of York began that prolonged period of mentary reaction which reached its highest point under the house of Tudor, during whose sway the monarchy, released from the fetters with which the patriots and statesmen of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries had hedged it about, resumed in substance if not in form the exercise of that system of royal autocracy it had wielded before the charters were won. The emancipation of the monarchy from the restraints which the emancipagrowth of the law courts and the parliament had put upon monarchy it was the work of Edward IV., the prime object of whose by Edward policy it was to restore to the crown all of the despotic powers originally wielded by the king in council. The short reign of Richard III., so far as constitutional history is concerned, is a mere episode. The real successor of Edward IV., in a constitutional sense, is Henry VII. The despotic policy which Edward founded was continued by Henry and his successors, by whom it was systematized and enforced as a permanent system of government. The tide of reaction which thus set overthrow in in England was but a part of a general tendency that char- of parlia

mentary inacterized the politics of the sixteenth century. With the close stitutions of the Middle Ages every effort which had been made in the tinent ; direction of representative government upon the continent of Europe was brought to an end. Then it was that the free constitutions of Castile and Aragon were overthrown by Charles V. and Philip II. ; then it was that the States-General of France met for the last time (1614) before their final meeting (1789) upon the eve of the French Revolution. Such were the results of the formation in the French and Castilian monarchies of great military establishments — indispensable perhaps to their safety and dignity — without any new safeguards in favor of liberty. With the accession of the house of York the English character national assembly fairly began that prolonged struggle with gle in Eng the growing despotism of the monarchical system which upon the Continent proved strong enough either to sweep away or to reduce to empty forms all parliamentary institutions for nearly

Upon this whole subject, see Rob- book vi.; Sismondi, vol. xiii. p. 342 ; ertson's Charles V., vol. jii. p. 434; Macaulay, Hist. Eng., vol. i. pp. 46-48; Watson's Philip II., vol. iii. p. 223; Freeman, Growth of the Eng. Const., p. Prescott's Philip II., first chapter of 139.

land;

1

two centuries. In England, whose insular position obviated the necessity for standing armies, the monarchy, armed only with moral force, never attempted to end the existence of the parliament. The new system of absolutism reëstablished by the house of York and perpetuated by that of Tudor did not aim at the abolition of the older forms of legal and constitutional life by which the monarchy had been fettered for more than a century; it simply strove to extinguish forever the vital spirit which in the better days had made them actual restraints upon the royal authority.

In the brief review heretofore made of the reign of Edward IV.4 the fact was emphasized that the causes which at his accession led to the reëstablishment of the monarchy, and to the suspension of the system of parliamentary life by which it had been for so long a time held in bondage, must be found in the processes of dissolution and decay which by that time had not only undermined the corporate vitality of each of the three estates, but had also dissolved that spirit of union and interdependence which in the earlier days had bound them to each other. At the end of the civil war, the one political force that seems to have survived, the one force that stood out above the turbulence of the times with power to guarantee order, and to insure protection to all classes and conditions of men, was embodied in the royal authority. To permanently emancipate that authority from the control of the parliament, and at the same time to so systematize and incorporate its powers as to make it the one dominant and irresistible force in the state, was the prime object of Edward's policy. Without abolishing

Outline of the policy of Edward IV.;

1 “In the fourth period, on the Con- 3 Such a thing was threatened, howtinent, all efforts towards a represent- ever, by Charles I. ; and Carleton, ative system have failed or almost speaking in the king's behalf, told the entirely disappeared ; pure monarchy house in 1626: "In all Christian kingprevails. ... This epoch lasts from the doms you know that parliaments were sixteenth century to the French Revo- in use anciently until the monarchs belution.” — Guizot, Hist. Rep. Govt., p. gan to know their own strength: and, 258. See also p: 15.

seeing the turbulent spirit of their par2 Although Henry VII. at his ac- liaments, at length they by little and cession appointed a body of fifty men, little began to stand upon their preknown as yeomen of the guard, as a rogatives, and at last overthrew the necessary appendage to royalty (Hall, parliaments throughout Christendom, p. 3), no such thing as a standing army except here only with us.” He conexisted until the time of the Common- cluded by saying, “ This is a misery bewealth, and not until after the French yond expression, and that which yet we Revolution and the Peninsular War did are free from.” the nation finally become reconciled to 4 See vol. i. pp. 562-583. its existence.

nant force

the

the parliamentary system, without changing the outward form the royal of the system of legal administration, the York and Tudor becomes monarchy was content to overawe both, to manipulate both, the domiand to render both subservient to the despotic powers of the in the state; council in which the royal will was omnipotent. The vital its vital ororgan of the monarchy was the council, and the mainspring of

gan,

council ; the council was "the idea of an extraordinary dictatorial power residing in the king, which in any state crisis could thrust aside the self-imposed barriers, laws, and judicial constitution, and find a remedy by extraordinary measures, jurisdiction, and ordinances."1 In that way the history of the council became the history of the monarchy. Although he subsequently hereditary

right; sought recognition at the hands of parliament, Edward, was careful at the outset of his reign to base his claim to the throne solely on the self-sustaining theory of hereditary right, - a right which he claimed the Lancastrian parliaments had no power either to break or set aside. Thus secured against dangers growing out of a purely parliamentary title, he was also careful to resort to every expedient to protect the monarchy against that most dangerous of all the restraining measures to which the parliamentary system had given birth, - the power of the estates to coerce the crown through the withholding of supplies. The most potent safeguard which Edward erected Edward's against that danger was embodied in a policy of peace that re-policy; mained almost unbroken during a period of a hundred and fifty years. While his exchequer was thus saved from the drain of war on the one hand, his coffers were filled on the other by sweeping bills of attainder, and by a grant of tonnage and poundage for life. To these resources were added the proceeds of that most obnoxious form of royal taxation known as benevolences, the profits which the king derived from his ventures as a private trader, the fruits of numberless petty exactions drawn from the revival of dormant claims of the crown, and fines exacted for the breach of forgotten tenures. Thus rendered independent of grants from the estates, the crown

1 Gneist, The Eng. Const., p. 452 Prior to the accession of Edward (Ashworth's trans.).

IV. the only law officer of the crown 2 This grant was made after the bat was the king's attorney. In Edward's tle of Hexham, Par. Rolls, v. 508. first year Richard Fowler was made so

3 The enforcement of so many claims licitor to the king, and in his eleventh upon the part of the crown led to an William Hussey was appointed attorincrease in the number of its law offi- ney-general in England, the first to

cers.

tyranny.

infrequent soon began to ignore the long established right of the nation ineetings of parliament;

to express its will, at least once a year, through a national council. During the quarter of a century of Yorkist rule the nation was but seven times called upon to elect a new parliament. While Edward was thus emancipating the monarchy from the financial restraints which the growth of the parliamentary system had put upon it, he was careful to impart a fresh force to the judicial powers of the council which the growth of the law courts, and the rise of the equitable juris

diction of the chancellor, had contracted without exhausting. the council During the reign of Henry VI. the turbulent local magnates, becomes an engine of

with their liveried retainers at their backs, had so far disturbed and overawed the local administration of justice that it became necessary to authorize the council by statute (31 Hen. VI. c. 2) to draw before it all persons and all causes that could not be dealt with in the ordinary tribunals. The honest effort thus made to strengthen the hands of the council, in order to make it the defender of order against anarchy, was followed in the reign of Edward IV. by a deliberate attempt to convert the council into an irresponsible engine of tyranny. Although a break in its records deprives us of the memorials of its daily transactions from 1460 to 1520,1 it may be safely assumed from such facts as are accessible that from the accession of Edward IV. began that systematic and inquisitorial supervision upon the part of the council of all matters, great and small, public and private, which never ceased until the meeting

of the Long Parliament. Henry VII. 2. By his victory at Bosworth Henry VII., scarcely thirty

years old, was brought face to face with the double task of founding a dynasty and of maturing and expanding the new monarchical system which Edward. IV. had inaugurated. The difficulties which the undertaking involved can hardly be overestimated. By the fate of a single battle an attainted exile and adventurer was suddenly transformed into a king with a claim to the crown too vague and shadowy for precise definition. Lord Bacon, in his famous history of Henry's reign, tells

bear that title. The words of his patent, recordo." See Reeves, Hist. of Eng. which is still extant, are still inserted Law, vol. iv. p. 151; Campbell, Lives in the patent of the attorney-general: of the Chief Justices, vol. i. p. 159.* “Cum potestate deputanti clericos ac See Dicey, The Privy Council, p. officiarios sub se in qualibet curiâ de 76.

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