Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

plained of. Many just reproaches were thrown upon the financial administration. Notwithstanding the sequestration of the estates of the Monasteries and enormously large receipts, yet so much had been given and squandered away, nay, the King was so repeatedly cheated and robbed by his first Barons, that he was forced to sellcrown lands, and yet to borrow money at home and abroad, on the most ruinous terms, (even at fourteen per cent.) and often to receive goods instead of money. In this distress without regard to Cranmer's opposition, the Churches were again plundered, and all the silver, vestments, ornaments, and other property, which it was found convenient to call superfluous, was taken away. Under such circumstances, Somerset was justly right in desiring to conclude peace with Scotland and France, and to restore Boulogne for a large sum; but this step, which was called unworthy, was made use of by his enemies as the groundwork of their plan for his ruin. The Nobles hated him as an upstart and friend of the people, and all the Catholics considered him as their most dangerous enemy. Some members of the Council who did not conditionally assent to his plans, complained of being unjustly disregarded; many found fault with the magnificence of his establishment, his excessive irritability, and that he had pulled down some Churches to make room for a palace. Lastly, Southampton and Warwick (the latter a son of Dudley, the notorious Minister of Henry VII.,(*) and father of the Earl of Leicester, so famous in the reign of Elizabeth,) were far superior to him in ability, dissimulation, and dexterity for the regular conduct of a hostile plan. Externally, says a contemporary writer, Warwick appeared affable, gentle,communicative; but in reality he was as restless, proud, and ambitious a man as ever was seen. In his household, and in every action, he displayed love of splendour and munificence; this, however, was not the natural result of a generous disposition; but he gave solely from interested motives, and only to those whose favour he wished to gain, because they could either injure or serve him. In his youth he was the most skilful in all the exercises, both on foot and horseback, fencing, wrestling, and archery. He had inspired the King with such an opinion of him, that the latter honoured him as if he had been the Earl's subject, and did whatever he might desire.(*) Warwick, and his associates, now wrote to the City of London, that the King must be delivered out of the hands of Somerset, because he had excited dissensions among the nobility, thrown the Government into confusion, promoted insurrection and treason, by carelessness or treachery occasioned the loss of several places on the Continent, had never listened to advice, depreciated the coin, lavished treasures on the building of palaces, and in every thing regarded only his own interests. Upon this, London deserted the Protector; and as the people in other places did not declare in his favour, he resigned the Regency, on the 14th of October, 1549, rather than take any measures to excite a civil war. He was notwithstanding confined in the Tower, where he submissively made a confession of many errors, and only denied the accusation of wilful dereliction of duty. This great humility, which many called cowardice, saved indeed his life, but the Lords sentenced him to the loss of his offices and estates. After the fall of Somerset, the Catholics hoped to gain the upper hand, but Warwick, to whom all religious opinions were indifferent, declared for the Protestants, because they were favoured by Edward, and he thus had an opportunity of setting aside Southampton, who was a zealous Catholic. On the other hand he was so far from considering the humble Somerset as dangerous, that he not only set him at liberty on the 6th of February, 1550, but even allowed him a seat in the Privy Council, and married his own son to his daughter, on the 3d of June, 1550.

The Parliament not only declared itself satisfied with all these regulations, but even drew up all the laws that might appear necessary in consequence of the abolition of the ancient ecclesiastical laws, without reserving to itself any participation or confirmation of them.

With respect to the foreign relations, Warwick and his party were now obliged to do what he had so severely censured in Somerset,_that is, to conclude in March, 1550, a peace with France and Scotland, by which Boulogne was abandoned by the English for the sum of 400,000 crowns. This not only placed the deposed Protector in a more favorable light, but gave him new courage and influence, for which reason, Warwick, who had in the meantime obtained the title of Duke of Northumberland, resolved upon his final ruin. On the 16th of October, 1551, he caused him and several of his friends to be impeached and arrested, on the charge of having designed to excite insurrections and dethrone the King. These accusations, of which the latter, in particular, was absurd, because Somerset could have no influence except through Edward, proved to be wholly unfounded, and there appeared to be nothing to his charge, except some complaints against the present Administration, and some expressions, uttered in the heat of passion, that Warwick and some of his adherents ought to be killed. For these expressions, twenty-seven Lords pronounced sentence of death upon Somerset; but it is true that all his enemies, even Warwick, were among his judges, and that he was not once confronted either with the accusers or witnesses.(*). When on the scaffold, Somerset said, “I am innocent with respect to the King, and have to the best of my ability promoted religion and justice; yet I submit to the sentence of the law, and I thank God that he has not called me away suddenly, but given me time and opportunity for repentance: I exhort all to be obedient to the Government, and I entreat pardon of all to whom I have done any wrong.” After he had uttered this and similar sentiments, in a noble and dignified manner he calmly received the fatal blow on the 22d of January, 1552. Four of his friends shared his fate at the same time, and his widow remained in confinement till the accession of Mary: all the others were removed. Northumberland now stood and governed alone, but with his power, his vengeance, hatred, and dan- ger also increased. Having experienced much opposition from the Parliament, he was anxious to find the new one as compliant as possible. For this reason it was stated in the royal writs that only able men should be chosen, and particularly such as the Privy Council should recommend for their wisdom and knowledge. This direction, which at that time was not thought singular, was so strictly followed, that the new Parliament, for the most part, agreed to whatever Northumberland required, and even granted supplies, which at that time was the greatest proof of good will. The Parliament was in the mean time occupied about many trifling regulations, and passed laws on the prices of wine and wood;

« EdellinenJatka »