England (Lat. Anglia; Fr. Angleterre), a country of Europe, forming with Wales the southern, larger, and more important division of the island of Great Britain, and the principal member of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. This division is bounded 1ST. by Scotland, E. by the North sea, S. by the English channel, separating it from France by distances increasing westward from 21 m. at the strait of Dover to 100 m., S. W. by the Atlantic, and W. by St. George's channel and the Irish sea, dividing it from Ireland, and having an average width of about 90 m. It lies between lat. 49° 57' and 55° 46' N., and Ion. 1° 46' E. and 5° 45' W.; its greatest length N. and S. is 365 m., and its greatest breadth 280 m. Its shape bears some resemblance to a triangle, the apex being at Berwick-on-Tweed, the northernmost point in England, and the extremities of the base at the South Foreland, near Dover, and the Land's End, at the S. W. point of Cornwall. The distance in a direct line from Berwick to the South Foreland is 345 m.; from the South Foreland to the Land's End, 317 m.; and from the Land's End to Berwick, 425 m.; making a total perimeter of 1,087 m., but following the sinuosities of the coast the perimeter is about 2,000 m.
The area of England is 50,922 sq. m.; that of Wales 7,398 sq. m. The divisions of England are very ancient, the counties being substantially the same now as they were ten centuries ago, though a few have been made in later times. Each county is subdivided into hundreds, and the hundreds into parishes. London is the metropolis of the United Kingdom, and among the other principal places are Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Sheffield, Bristol, Bradford, Stoke-upon-Trent, Newcastle, Hull, Portsmouth, Brighton, Southampton, and York. The following table shows the population of the counties in 1861 and 1871, and the county towns:
Great Seal of England.
York: East Riding.......
Wales, which was incorporated with the English monarchy in the time of Edward I., is divided into 12 counties, with an aggregate population in 1861 of 1,111,795, and in 1871 of 1,216,420. The aggregate population of England and Wales in 1871 was 22,704,108, of whom 11,040,403 were males and 11,663,705 females. The number of marriages registered in 1871 was 190,015; births, 797,143; deaths, 515,096; the mortality being thus a little less than 22.7 per 1,000, and the natural increase 282,047, or 12.9 per 1,000 nearly., The increase of the population in England and Wales from 1861 to 1871 was 2,637,884, or 13.15 per cent., being an average annual increase of 1.24 per cent. - The most important rivers are the Med-way, Thames, Stour, Orwell, Great Ouse, Nene, Welland, Witham, Humber (with its branches the Trent and Ouse), Tees, Wear, Tyne, and Tweed, flowing into the North sea; the Esk, Eden, Lune, Ribble, Mersey, Dee, Severn, Avon, Taw, and Torridge, which empty on the W. coast; and the Tamar, Exe, Frome, Avon (Hampshire), and Southampton water, which flow into the English channel. Many of these have broad estuaries and are navigable by large vessels. The English lakes, though few, are famed for their beauty.
The picturesque districts of Westmoreland and Cumberland, in which are Ullswater (9 m. long, and from 1/4 to 2 m. wide), Windermere, the largest lake in England (10 1/2 m. long, and from 1 to 2 m. wide), Bassenthwaitewater, Derwentwater, Butter-mere, Ennerdalewater, etc, are favorite summer resorts. The seacoast is much broken, and abounds in fine harbors and roadsteads. On the east are the estuaries of the Medway, Thames, and Humber, and the Wash, into which empty the Great Ouse, Nene, Witham, etc.; on the west the broad Solway frith, between England and Scotland, Morecambe bay, the Bristol channel, and the estuaries of the Dud-don, Ribble, Mersey, Dee, and Severn; and on the south Mount's bay, Falmouth harbor, Plymouth sound, Tor bay, the estuary of the Exe, Weymouth bay, Poole harbor, the Solent and Southampton water between Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, Portsmouth and Chichester harbors. Near the entrance of Dover strait into the North sea are the well known anchorage grounds called the Downs, opposite the towns of Deal and Sandwich. The E. coast presents an alternation of sandy beaches and chalk cliffs, hollowed out in many places into caves, and with several high promontories.
The Atlantic tides form a strong current, sweeping S. along this coast, and continually wearing away the limestone cliffs and headlands; the encroachments of the sea have already buried large tracts of land. A submarine forest has been traced along a great part of the coast of Lincolnshire. On the sandy portions of the seaboard the opposite phenomenon is observed; portions of land have here been gained from the water, the town of Norwich, which is now near the centre of the E. division of Norfolk, having stood in the 13th and 14th centuries on an arm of the sea. The S. coast, from the South Foreland to beyond Folkestone, is characterized by lofty chalk cliffs, which are continually diminishing in height. It then gradually subsides into Romney marsh, W. of which the shore becomes alternately precipitous and flat. The W. is by far the most irregular of the English coasts. It is high and rocky as far as Minehead bay on the Bristol channel. North of Wales the shore consists of wasting cliffs of red clay and marl, of peninsulas which were probably once more elevated than now, of abrupt headlands, and toward Solway frith of sands and marshes.
The most mountainous part of England lies N. of the rivers Humber and Mersey, and is traversed N. and S. by a range called the Pennine mountains or the northern range, connected with the Cheviot hills on the Scotch border, and terminating in Derbyshire. The highest summits rise to about 3,000 ft. West of this range are the Cumbrian mountains, occupying the central and southern portions of Cumberland, the larger part of Westmoreland, and the N. part of Lancashire. Their highest summits are Sea-fell (3,229 ft.), Helvellyn (3,055), and Skiddaw (3,022). The Devonian range extends from Somersetshire to the Land's End, and its highest summit, Yestor Beacon, reaches a height of 2,077 ft. Three cross ridges occupy the S. E. part of the kingdom, extending from Salisbury plain, one S. E. to Beachy head, another E. to the E. shore of Kent, and the third N. E. into Norfolk. The famous South Downs, 50 m. long and 5 or 6 m. wide, are in the first, and the Surrey hills or downs in the second, both being celebrated for their sheep pastures.
The Malvern hills extend over parts of the counties of Gloucester, Hereford, and Worcester. The Cotswold and Stroudwater hills are in Gloucester, and the Chiltern hills extend from Hertford, across Bucks, into Oxford. Between these ridges lie many beautiful vales; other parts of the country spread out in vast plains, such as the plain of York, which extends from the valley of the Tees to the confluence of the Ouse and Trent, 70 or 80 m., and others abound in rugged and picturesque scenery. Northumberland is largely occupied by moors, which also cover much of Lancashire, Yorkshire, Staffordshire, Cumberland, Westmoreland, and Durham. These are elevated tracts, in most places sterile, heath-grown, or gravelly. Those of the East Riding of Yorkshire alone cover an area of 400 or 500 sq. m. The wolds of Yorkshire, which closely resemble the chalk hills, of many other counties, occupy about 500 sq. m. - The distribution of the geological formations through England is closely connected with that of its inhabitants, their industrial pursuits, and physical condition; all which indeed are in great measure controlled by the nature of the mineral productions and of the soil.
Nearly all that portion of England lying E. of a line drawn from the mouth of the Tyne in Northumberland in a southerly direction through the towns of Nottingham and Leicester, thence S. W. nearly to Gloucester, and again S. to Bath and S. W. to Ex-mouth, consists of the upper secondary formations, including the oolite, lias, chalk, and greensand; and on both sides of the Thames, widening as the formation extends N. along the coast of Suffolk, is the tertiary group of clays and sands, which constitutes the London basin, and rests in the depression of the chalk. Similar strata hide the secondary rocks over a small area about Southampton and the northern part of the Isle of Wight. In Lincolnshire a strip of alluvial skirts the coast, and stretches S., constituting the boggy district of Huntingdonshire and Cambridgeshire. Over this region of secondary rocks the prevailing dip is toward the S. E., so that the lower members of the series are in general met with in passing from the eastern coast westward. They constitute narrow belts, which are traced with great uniformity in their line of bearing, or N. E. and S. W. Thus from Weymouth to the Humber one may continue on that bed of the middle oolite called the Oxford clay, the average thickness of which does not exceed 500 ft.
A little further west, from Bridport in Dorsetshire to Flamborough head on the coast of Yorkshire, the topography, rocks, and soil all designate the chalk formation of earlier date; but west of this, on the line from Lyme Regis to Whitby, the limestones of the lias appear in the general order of older rocks in a westerly direction. Over all this region no mines of coal or of metallic ores are found. The easily disintegrated strata present no bold hills, except in the cliffs of chalk abutting upon the coast, but are spread out in elevated plains, and gentle undulations and hills of smoothly rounded outlines. The calcareous nature of the strata secures fertility to the soil; and the region is distinguished for its agricultural character. West of this, occupying a belt not many miles wide, is the manufacturing district of England, made so by the mines of coal and iron ore along its range. They occur at intervals in isolated basins of moderate area, but remarkably productive in coal by the close grouping of the beds and the great depths to which they are carried by the steepness of the dip. These basins are often overlaid in part by the sandstones and marls of the new red sandstone formation, which rests upon the upturned edges of the strata of the coal formation.
The marls afford rock salt and strong brine springs, which have long been advantageously worked in Cheshire, and near Droit-wich in Worcestershire. Associated with the salt are valuable beds of gypsum. The coal fields are too numerous to be all particularly named. That of Newcastle extends from the N. E. extremity of England to the river Tees, along the coast of Northumberland and Durham; it is traced further S. to Leeds, but this portion has only the lowest beds, which are of little importance. The Yorkshire and Derbyshire extends S. from Leeds to near Derby, and covers in its northern portion a breadth of about 25 m. Some small but very productive coal basins lie S. W. of Derbyshire, of which that near Coventry is the most southern locality of coal in the midland counties. On the N. W. is the Cumberland and Whitehaven coal field, extending along the coast to the north of Maryport; some of its mines have been worked beyond low-water mark, and the convenience of shipping gives a high importance to their products. The Lancashire coal field lies W. of a range of hills that extends along the borders of this county and Yorkshire, separating the two coal fields by the underlying shales and millstone grit of which they are composed.
The strata of the coal formation on the W. side dip toward the west, and the margin of the field in this direction reaches to Prescot, near Liverpool, and extends N. E. toward Colne. A little beyond the southern extremity of the Lancashire coal field is that which supplies the potteries near Newcastle in Staffordshire, and which, with those referred to as lying S. W. of Derbyshire, makes up the central coal district as grouped by Conybeare and Phillips. These include the fields of Ashby de la Zouch and Warwickshire. In the South Stafford or Dudley coal field the coal has been worked in a single bed 30 ft. thick, and at one locality it has reached a thickness of more than 45 ft. The western coal district comprises the mines in North Wales, the island of Anglesea, and Flintshire. The middle western or Shropshire district comprises those of the Clee hills, Cole-brook dale, Shrewsbury, etc.; the southwestern district, those of the Forest of Dean, South Gloucester, and Somerset, on both sides of the river Avon, and the coal field of the S. coast of Wales, bordering the British channel for 100 m. E. and W., and stretching inland toward the north from 5 to 20 m.
This field is in convenient proximity to the copper mines of Cornwall, the ores from which are transported to the great smelting establishments on tide water near the coal mines. Much of the coal of this region is semi-anthracite, like that of the Cumberland coal field of Maryland, and some is true anthracite. The latter was first successfully applied upon a large scale to the smelting of iron ores in this district at the Crane iron works. Iron ores abound in the coal measures of this field as well as in many of the others, especially that of Dudley and Wolverhampton, near Birmingham. The same measures also yield fire clay and limestone, and the millstone grit which underlies and holds as in a cup the coal measures furnishes a most durable building stone. Besides the coal measures scattered over the area in which coal and iron are found, and the newer formations which here and there overlie them, there are frequent patches, like islands, of rocks of older date, which have intruded through the carboniferous strata and the later formations above them. These are of granite, syenite, and metamorphic slates.
Some are basaltic dikes, and one such of extraordinary extent appears from under the alluvium on the coast of the North sea, near Harwood dale, and is thence traced toward the N. W. across the Tees to the western part of Durham. It traverses strata of the lias, oolite, the coal measures, and of the metalliferous or mountain limestone of the lower carboniferous group. Its length is from 50 to 60 m., and in some places it is seen only 25 to 30 ft. thick, dipping at a steep angle. The mountain limestone is productive in lead, copper, and zinc ores in three districts of England. Veins of galena near Alston moor in Cumberland traverse adjoining beds of limestone and sandstone, yielding well in the former and poorly in the latter. Others are found in the same county, as also in Durham and Yorkshire, in the upper portions of the valleys of the Tyne, the Wear, and the Tees. Pyritous copper is obtained S. W. of Alston moor, and near Ulverstone beds of red hematite alternate with those of the same limestone. A second district is in Derbyshire and the contiguous parts of the neighboring counties.
Zinc blende is economically worked in this district, which also includes the copper mine of Ecton in Staffordshire. The third district is in the N. E. part of Wales, where mines of galena and calamine have long been profitably worked, lying partly in the mountain limestone and partly in older formations. Bordering the coal fields frequently are seen the strata of the old red sandstone and other rocks of the Devonian series; and from beneath these appear the older and lower fossiliferous strata of the Silurian and Cambrian formations; they produce little of economical importance. The metalliferous districts of Cornwall and Devonshire are noticed in the articles upon those counties. The granitic rocks and metamorphic slates, such as are seen in this portion of England, are repeated in North Wales, where the argillaceous slates are worked in the immense quarries near Bangor. The same rocks occur again in the N. W. part of Yorkshire and Lancashire, and are traced through Westmoreland and Cumberland into Scotland. The granite, often disintegrating rapidly, produces the white clay called kaolin, which is used in making fine porcelain; but it affords little good building stone, and there are no important quarries of this rock in England. Good building stone is not readily found in any of the formations; and the want of durable materials is the more sensibly felt because the humid atmosphere produces a rapid disintegration of stone exposed to it. • England is deficient in fine marbles and in good iron ores.
The best of the latter are the hematites; but those chiefly employed in the immense production of iron are the poor argillaceous ores of the coal formation. For making the excellent cast steel for which English manufacturers are celebrated, the better iron from the magnetic and specular ores of Norway and Sweden is largely imported. The annual produce of salt is over 1,000,000 tons, a large part of which is exported to America. - The climate is subject to considerable variations of heat and cold, and of dryness and moisture, but the winters are not severe for the latitude, and the heat of summer is often relieved by periods of cool weather. The atmosphere is chilly and damp, and particularly moist in the western counties, but the E. coast is the colder. The mean annual temperature of the S. W. at sea level is about 52°; at Greenwich, 49°; at Penzance, 51.8°. There is thus an increase of mean temperature from N. to S. and from E. to W. July and August are the hottest months; December and January are the coldest, the thermometer in the latter two near London having a mean height of 39.7°. The W. and S. W. are the most prevalent and constant winds, but a blighting N. E. wind blows in April and May on the E. coast, doing great damage to the crops and live stock of Norfolk and Kent. The dry parching character of the latter renders it deleterious to health, but the S. W. winds, which come from the Atlantic, are moist and genial, and it is on their greater frequency that the general salubrity of the climate depends.
Notwithstanding the humidity of the climate, the average fall of rain is less than in the northern United States. For the British islands it is given as 32 in., while at Cambridge, Mass., it is stated by Prof. Guyot to be 38 in., and at the Western Reserve college, Ohio, it was found by Prof. Loomis to be 36 in. - The general character of the soil is that of great fertility, and seven ninths of the land is available for cultivation. The principal cultivated crops are wheat, oats, beans, barley, rye, turnips, potatoes, clover, hops, and flax. Few of the forests are extensive, but the country is well wooded, most of the timber being found in small plantations belonging to private individuals. There are some very large forest lands, however, such as the New forest in Hampshire, Dean forest in Gloucestershire, and Sherwood in Nottinghamshire, which are the property of the crown. The principal trees are the oak, ash, mountain ash, fir, beech, sycamore, maple, poplar, elm, larch, pine, chestnut, horse chestnut, and willow. There are not many indigenous fruits; the pear, crab, medlar, wild cherry, bullace, raspberry, blackberry, gooseberry, currant, strawberry, and cranberry are the most important species.
Foreign fruits, however, except such as require a powerful sun to bring them to maturity, are found to thrive. Of the small herbaceous plants, besides the common grasses covering the country with verdure which the winter seldom destroys, may be mentioned the daisy, primrose, cowslip, violet, hyacinth, harebell, tamarisk, musk, gentian, foxglove, henbane, hemlock, and nightshade. - Many of the wild animals which formerly inhabited the forests, such as the bear, wolf, wild boar, and wild cat, have disappeared; and the stag, fallow deer, and roe have been preserved only by strict game laws. The other indigenous wild quadrupeds are the fox, badger, polecat, beech and pine martens, otter, weasel, stoat, hedgehog, mole, squirrel, hare, rabbit, dormouse, lemming, shrew, and several varieties of the rat and mouse. More than 270 species of land and water birds have been noticed, of which 20 are birds of prey and 80 are gallinaceous. The bustard seems to be the only bird which has become extinct. Of about 170 species of fish which frequent the coasts, rivers, and lakes, the chief are the herring, pilchard, mackerel, sprat, cod, and salmon.
The sea fisheries are chiefly of cod, mackerel, oysters, and lobsters. - The various improvements which modern science has introduced in agriculture are generally adopted in England, and under careful management the land, which once with difficulty supported a population of 10,000,000, now easily maintains more than double that number. The best systems of drainage are employed, not as formerly in marshy grounds alone, but on nearly all farms. Artificial manuring receives due attention, and steeps which a few generations ago would have been thought waste land are now under profitable culture. English husbandry, however, has risen to its present high state very slowly. The farms are small, averaging in England and Wales about 111 acres each, but there are comparatively few land owners, most of the farms being held by tenants at will or by lease. The best tilled counties are those of the E. coast. The capital used in agriculture is about £186,000,000; rent of farms, £60,000,000. Cattle raising is a most important branch of husbandry, and the country has been famous for live stock since the days of Caesar. Somewhat more than half the arable land is used for grazing, the best pastures being found in Buckinghamshire, Kent, Middlesex, and several of the western and midland counties.
In the last are bred good dray horses. Yorkshire is noted for carriage horses, and an excellent breed for farm labor is raised in Suffolk. The English race horse is renowned for speed and beauty. Lancashire is noted for its long-horned cattle; Northumberland, Durham, Devonshire, Herefordshire, and Sussex, for their short-horned breeds; and Suffolk for its duns. Essex, Cambridgeshire, and Dorsetshire are celebrated for good butter; Cheshire, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, other western counties, and Leicestershire, for cheese. The well known Stilton cheese is made in Leicestershire. The sheep are highly prized for the quality both of their flesh and of their wool. In 1872 there were in Great Britain 9,573,551 acres in grain crops, 3,616,383 in green and other crops, 4,513,451 in clover and grasses under rotation, and 12,575,606 in permanent pasture. There were 2,115,068 horses, 5,624,-994 cattle, 27,921,507 sheep, and 2,771,749 swine. - The manufactures of England are commensurate with her greatness in other respects. The most important is that of cotton, which employs more hands than any other in the kingdom, and furnishes about two fifths of the exports.
The principal seats of this manufacture are Lancashire, Cheshire, Derbyshire, and Yorkshire. The census of 1871 gives the statistics of the leading textile manufactures of England and Wales as follows :
No. of factories.
The imports of cotton for1871 were 1,778,139,-776 lbs.; exports, 368,234,160 lbs.; retained for home consumption, 1,409,905,616 lbs. The imports of wool for 1871 were 323,036,299 lbs.; exports, 135,089,794 lbs.; retained for home consumption, 187,946,505 lbs. The chief woollen and worsted manufactories are in Yorkshire, Lancashire, and Gloucestershire. The raw material is mostly domestic, though for some years past large quantities have been imported. The great centres of the hardware manufactures are Birmingham and Sheffield, the former having workshops of iron, steel, copper, and brass, and the latter being famous chiefly for cutlery, agricultural implements, grates, fire irons, etc. Linen is manufactured to some extent in Leeds and the counties of Lancaster, Dorset, Durham, and Salop. The silk manufacture made great progress under the tariff of 1826, before which date it was unable to compete with France and Italy. The glove trade of the midland and western counties is important, the principal establishments being at Woodstock, Worcester, Ludlow, Hereford, and Yeovil. The vast number of establishments engaged in the book and newspaper publishing business gives a strong impetus to the production of paper.
Distilling is carried on to much smaller extent than in Scotland and Ireland, but the breweries are very numerous, and many of them on the largest scale. The quantity of malt charged with duty in 1872 was 57,308,082 bushels; free of duty, 6,082,284; home consumption, 61,-608,569. Among other important manufactures are hats, glass, pottery, soap, lace, etc. Ship building is also a prominent branch of industry. - The commerce of England, until the rise of the trading and maritime power of the United States, had long been without a parallel. Her situation is in the highest degree favorable; the hardihood, industry, and enterprise of her people have turned her natural advantages to account, and there is no accessible part of the world with which she has not established commercial relations. With Ireland she has a trade in grain and provisions in exchange for manufactured goods; from N. Europe she receives timber, iron, flax, hemp, pitch, tallow, potash, and wheat; from central Europe, agricultural produce, silk, linen, lace, gloves, timber, flax, wine, and gin; from S. Europe, wine, brandy, fruit, drugs, silk, etc.; from the United States, cotton, tobacco, rice, grain, flour, and petroleum, the imports thence being considerably inferior in value to the exports; from South America, hides, skins, indigo, cochineal, and bullion; from Asia, tea, coffee, sugar, indigo, drugs, cotton, piece goods, and ivory; from Africa, drugs, ivory, teak wood, and hides.
Manufactured goods are the staples furnished by England in exchange for all these commodities. The following table shows the value of the commerce of the United Kingdom for four years ending with 1872 :
Produce and manufactures of the United Kingdom.
Foreign and colonial merchandise.
The following table shows the value of the imports of the United Kingdom from and exports to the chief British colonies and the principal foreign countries in 1872 :
Canada and North America.......
Cape and Natal.......
All other possessions.......
Total British possessions....
Sweden and Norway....
Turkey in Europe.......
Spanish West Indies.......
• • • • •
All other countries....
Total foreign countries.....
Total imports and exports......
The six principal articles of import into the United Kingdom, with their value in 1870-'72, were:
Corn and flour......
Sugar, raw and refin'd
Wool, sheep and oth'r
The six principal articles of export are :
Woollen and worsted manufactures.......
Iron and steel....
Coals, cinders, and culm.............
The total number and tonnage of sailing and steam vessels that entered and cleared at the ports of the United Kingdom in 1872 are exhibited in the following statement:
All other possess'ns
Total British possessions.......
2 542 679
2 616 901
Spanish W. Indies.
2 602 737
Peru and Chili.....
All other countries.
Total foreign countries ............
Total foreign and colonial.......
Of the total number of vessels that entered, 36,822 of 14,173,289 tons were British, and 27,906 of 6,842,126 tons were foreign; and of those that cleared, 37,149 of 14,545,801 tons were British, and 27,734 of 6,939,809 tons were foreign. The above statistics are for the United Kingdom. For England, the entrances were 49,150 vessels of 15,331,948 tons in the foreign, 4,821 of 2,582,485 tons in the colonial, and 91,831 of 11,105,245 tons in the coasting trade; clearances, 49,340 vessels of 15,662,006 tons in the foreign, 5,743 of 3,134,855 tons in the colonial, and 100,613 of 11,789,499 tons in the coasting trade. In addition to the above, 1,501 vessels of 107,556 tons in the colonial and foreign trade, and 1,344 of 114,354 tons in the coasting trade, entered the Channel islands and isle of Man, and 1,510 of 86,235 tons in the foreign and colonial, and 707 of 77,211 tons in the coasting trade cleared. The total number of vessels registered for England under merchant shipping acts in 1872 was 20,097, with a tonnage of 4,510,556, including 17,290 sailing vessels of 3,290,025 tons, and 2,807 steam vessels of 1,220,531 tons.
The total number of vessels built at ports of England, exclusive of vessels built for foreigners, was 687 of 236,871 tons, of which 345 of 34,159 tons were sailing, and 342 of 202,712 tons steam vessels. The ocean steam navigation of England is incomparable, and her lines of steam packets may be said to perform the mail service of the world. Steam vessels of iron are now extensively built. - The means of internal communication are superior to those of any other country. It is about a century since the English began to make good roads, though turnpikes were set up 100 years earlier. The total length of all roads in England and Wales, exclusive of paved streets and roads in towns, is about 100,000 m.; of the latter, 30,000. The canals of England are next in importance to those of Holland, and were commenced in the last century. The first railway was begun in 1825 and opened in 1830, and 6,621 m. of lines had been constructed in the United Kingdom in 1850, being at the rate of 265 m. per annum. At the end of 1860, 10,433 m. were open; at the end of 1872, 15,814. These lines had a total capital paid up at the end of 1872 of £569,047,346, had conveyed 422,874,-822 passengers, besides season-ticket holders, and had received during the year £51,304,114. Of these lines there were in England and Wales 11,136 m., in Scotland 2,587 m., and in Ireland 2,091 m.
The number of post offices in the United Kingdom at the beginning of 1873 was 12,200. The gross revenue of the post office department in 1872 was £5,208,922; cost of management, £2,754,764. The postal savings banks received £7,567,034, and paid out £5,402,644. The post office department was authorized by act of parliament, July 31, 1868, to buy up all the telegraph lines, and to charge the public a uniform rate irrespective of distance. A supplementary act was passed in 1869 making the telegraph a government monopoly like the post office. The purchases were made late in 1869, and possession obtained in February, 1870, when there were 2,933 telegraph offices. At the beginning of 1873 there were 5,400 offices, of which 3,593 were postal offices, and 1,807 railway telegraph offices. The latter slightly decreased in 1870-'7l, while the postal offices were greatly multiplied. Up to June, 1871, about £930,000 had been expended, besides the purchase money; 5,000 persons were employed, and the net receipts for about 14 months had been £798,580, at a current expense of £470,000. The investment of the government was thought to amount to a capital of £7,500,000, upon which it is believed that a reasonable interest is returned. - The public institutions of charity, of learning, of the arts, of education, and of religion are in great number and of high repute.
Every considerable town has its hospitals, many of which are liberally endowed, its free schools, mechanics' institutes, etc. The principal cities possess galleries of arts, and several have valuable libraries. Compulsory provision for the poor has long been established in England. The whole country is divided into poor-law unions, over which are guardians elected by the rate payers. On Jan. 1, 1873, there were 736,201 outdoor paupers in receipt of relief; indoor paupers, 154,171. The total amount expended by the poor-law boards in England and Wales during the year ending Jan. 1, 1873, was £8,007,403; a decrease from the preceding year in actual amount, and a decrease in rate upon the average of several years. The number of charitable institutions other than schools in London alone in 1874 was about 600. - England has done much for the cause of education, but not so much as should have been done by so old, wealthy, and humane a nation. Among the higher institutions of learning are the universities of Oxford, Cambridge, and Durham; University college and King's college, London (the last two founded for the purpose of cheapening and popularizing academical instruction); college of preceptors, London; Owen's college, Manchester; Manchester New college; Queen's colleges, Birmingham and Liverpool; St. David's college, Lampeter; royal agricultural college, Cirencester; besides good foundation schools at Winchester, Eton, Manchester, Great Berk-hamstead, Warrington, Shrewsbury, Birmingham, Tunbridge, Westminster, Highgate, Bedford, Ipswich, Repton, Rugby, Harrow, and London. The great public schools of Eton, Westminster, Harrow, Winchester, St. Paul's, the Charterhouse, and merchant tailors' school, are of the highest reputation, and have educated many of the distinguished men of England. Public education has made much progress within the last quarter of a century, though a great difference exists in the prevalence of elementary knowledge in different parts of the country.
The uneducated are found in greater numbers among the mining and manufacturing populations than in the agricultural portions of the kingdom. The latest returns show that one fifth of the adults in England are unable to write their names. By the school law of 1870 parliament ordered that sufficient accommodation in public elementary schools should be provided for all resident children, and that all children whose parents are unable to pay for their education shall be educated at the public expense, while the school boards shall have power to compel parents to give their children between the ages of 5 and 13 the advantages of education. The condition of the elementary schools in England and Wales subject to government inspection is shown in the following statement:
Year ending Aug. 31,
Estimated population at the middle of the year....
Number of schools, i. e., of departments under separate head teachers, inspected:
Receiving annual grants...........
In annual-grant schools.......
In simple-inspection schools........
Number of scholars in schools receiving annual grants:
Present at examination:
Average number attending:
Number of scholars in schools simply inspected: Present at examination:
Average number attending:
Number of teachers:
A large part of this work is under the care of the established church and other religious organizations, the state doing but a small proportion. The first education grant, of £20,000, was made in 1833. In 1872 the grants were raised to £1,551,560, of which about one tenth was spent in administration and building. This grant was an increase over that of the preceding year of £512,936. The total amount of education grants from 1833 to 1872 has been £14,553,262. The subject of national education is of increasing interest in England. The question of religion causes the chief difficulty. The rivalry of different religious organizations has stimulated them to great exertions for education, but a strong sentiment urges the separation of public education from all religious control. For a more complete account of the system of education in England, see Education. - The established religion is that of the church of England, which will be treated in a separate article. The dissenters constitute some of the most respectable religious bodies in the world. They consist of Presbyterians, Independents, Baptists, Friends, Methodists, Unitarians, Bible Christians, Moravians, and some others. The Presbyterians, Methodists, and Baptists are severally divided into a number of sects.
The Roman Catholics are not numerous, but among them are many old and wealthy families. The Jews are few, but since July 23, 1858, when they were permitted to sit in parliament, they have enjoyed all civil rights. - The government is a limited hereditary monarchy, the supreme power being vested in a king or queen and ministry, and a parliament composed of lords and commons, the former sitting chiefly by hereditary right and the latter by popular election. A previous knowledge of English history being required for a comprehension of the changes and present state of the English constitution, we shall refer the reader for an account of the latter to the concluding part of this article. The following tables show the revenue and expenditure of the United Kingdom for the year ending March 31, 1873:
Land tax and house duty......
Crown lands (net.).......
Military and naval, extra receipts and proceeds of old stores sold.....
Amount received from the revenues of India on account of British troops serving in that country.............
Allowance out of profits of bank of England per act 24 Victoria, c.3..........
Interest and management of the permanent debt................
Interest of exchequer bills.........
Charges on consolidated fund: Civil list...............,
Annuities and pensions............
Salaries and allowances...
Courts of justice..................
Telegraph sinking fund...........
Army purchase commission........
Miscellaneous civil services........
Supply services, continued: Customs and inland revenue......
Total ordinary expenditure....
Army expenses provided for by annuities.....
Excess of income over total expenditure.....
The public debt, March 31, 1873, was:
Estimated capital of terminable annuities...
The total debt at historical periods during the past century has been :
Capital of debt.
Interest and management.
Beginning of French wars.
Consolidation of English and Irish exchequers..
The army estimates for 1873-4 called for a total expenditure of £14,416,000, and gave the regular army at 125,000 men, including 63,000 home forces; besides militia 139,000, yeomanry 15,000, volunteers 161,000, first reserve 10,-000, and second reserve 20,000. The desertions from the regular forces in 1872 were 4,000. The navy estimates for 1873-'4 called for an expenditure of £9,704,985, and gave the following numbers of seamen and marines:
For the fleet:
For the coast guard (ashore).....
The total naval force in September, 1872, was: steam vessels, including 60 iron-clads, 167 in commission and 197 in reserve and building; coast-guard tenders, 25; sailing vessels, 38 in commission and 106 in reserve and building; total tonnage, 677,883; number of guns 5,080. The government has fine dockyards at Dept-ford, Woolwich, Chatham, Sheerness, Portsmouth, Devonport, and Pembroke, a naval academy at Portsmouth, a military academy at Woolwich, and a military college at Sandhurst. - The judicial system of England until recently comprised four superior courts: the high court of chancery, the court of exchequer, the court of king's (or queen's) bench, and the court of common pleas. The court of king's bench was the supreme court of common law, and took cognizance of both civil and criminal causes, and to it could be removed by writ of error the judgments of all other English courts of record. It consisted of a chief justice and four other justices. The court of common pleas likewise consisted of five justices, and took cognizance of civil cases between subjects. The court of exchequer consisted of a chief baron and four other barons; it was both a law and an equity court, trying all revenue questions and many other cases.
The judges of these three courts were called the fifteen judges of England. In August, 1873, by an act to take effect in November, 1874, the superior courts of England were united into a supreme court of judicature, divided into two parts, a high court of justice and a court of appeal. The judges of the old courts are retained in the new one, which is presided over by the lord chancellor. The forms of administering justice are simplified, while the former distinction between law and equity is not recognized. The high court is divided into sections named after the old courts. The court of appeal consists of the chancellor, the two chief justices, the chief baron, and master of the rolls, with not exceeding nine ordinary judges. By act of parliament in 1846, and by several subsequent acts, a system of county courts has been formed, giving increased facilities for the prompt and inexpensive collection of small debts. ♦ The judges of these courts are appointed by the lord chancellor, and must not exceed 60 in number. Demands not exceeding £50 are brought before these courts, the judges of which determine all questions whether of law or fact, unless a jury be summoned, which is done at the request of either party. The number of jurymen is five.
Acourt of general quarter sessions of the peace is held four times a year in every county, its jurisdiction extending to all felonies and trespasses, but the capital cases generally are remitted to the assize. The criminal code, which for a long time was excessively severe, has been i greatly improved. The commitments and con- victions from 1869 to 1873 were as follows:
Most of the convicts sentenced for long terms of detention were formerly transported to penal colonies, or confined on board hulks, but prisons are now established at home capable of receiving all. There are in England 121 county, borough, and "liberty" prisons (i. e., prisons for the districts so called). The com-mitments for 1872 to reformatory schools were 1,445; the number detained at the end of the year was 5,356, 4,322 males and 1,034 females. The average annual cost per head was, boys £18 19s. 9 1/2 d., girls £17 16s. 3 1/2d. There were also 2,050 commitments to industrial schools schools in the year, and detained at the close of the year 7,120, 5,443 boys and 1,677 girls. The police force of England and Wales in 1870 was 26,441, and the cost of maintaining it during the year was £2,182,522. - The history of England begins shortly before the commencement of the Christian era, when Caesar first invaded the island, landing near Deal or Walmer (55 B. C). Britannia and Albion were the names by which it was known to the Romans. The inhabitants, called Britons, were of Celtic race, kindred to the Gauls. The Phoenicians had known the island, and so had the Carthaginians and Massilians; and all of them are supposed to have traded with it directly or indirectly, the Phoenicians especially, for tin.
Yet at the time of Caesar's invasion little was really known concerning the country, and for a long period afterward it was regarded as cut off from the rest of the world. He made little impression on it, and his invasion probably met with more resistance than is commonly supposed. Augustus proposed an expedition to Britain, but never attempted it. Caligula also threatened an invasion without executing it. Claudius began the work of real conquest, A. D. 43. During the next 40 years the conquest of south Britain was completed, many generals being employed, including Aulus Plautius, Vespasian, Suetonius Paulinus, and Agricola. The main divisions of the country were Britannia Romana, embracing England and Wales, which had been entirely subdued, and Britannia Barbara, which at first included all the country to the north of the wall of Hadrian, but later only what was to the north of the wall built by Antoninus, from the frith of Clyde to the frith of Forth. This region defied all the efforts of the Roman arms.
The other was in a very flourishing condition, and at a later period was divided into five provinces, named Britannia Prima, Britannia Secunda, Maxima Caesariensis, Maxima Flaviensis, and Valentia. Christianity had been early introduced, and before the close of the 3d century a regular hierarchy was established. The country suffered with the rest of the empire from the invasions of barbarians, and was abandoned by the Romans before the middle of the 5th century. The Britons then became independent, and displayed much energy and spirit in contending with the invaders. They were less successful in their endeavors to establish a body politic, and the island was distracted by contentions and civil wars. The disturbed state of the country was favorable to the incursions of the Picts and Scots, tribes like the Britons of Celtic origin, when a few Saxons, said to have been exiles, arrived in the isle of Thanet. They were but 300, and were led by two brothers commonly called Hengist and Horsa. They were, it is probable, on a piratical excursion. The story that they came by invitation probably originated in the fact that other Saxons were subsequently invited to Britain. The British chiefs hired their visitors as soldiers, according to a not uncommon custom.
They chastised the Scottish invaders, and when the Saxon leaders proposed sending for more of their countrymen, in order that their defensive measures might be more extensive, the proposition was readily received, and numbers of Saxons, Angles, and Jutes arrived in the country. At first these strangers proved good friends to the Britons, but when they had conquered the other barbarians they took Britain for their reward. This, however, was not effected without a bloody contest, in which the Britons evinced great bravery, and at one time are said to have expelled their false allies. The history of these times is little better than fable, and the very names of Hengist and Horsa are perhaps as mythical as those of Romulus and Remus. The most that is known is, that certain Germanic invaders subdued the greater part of Britain, driving the Celtic natives into Wales and adjoining parts, and laid the foundation of that England which has occupied so large a space in the history of the world for so many centuries.
These invaders appear to have belonged substantially to one race, but they had strong points of difference, which were particularly prominent as between Saxons and Angles. One effect of this German conquest was to cause Britain to revert to heathenism; but in the pontificate of Gregory the Great the work of Saxon conversion commenced, under the guidance of the monk Augustin. Seven independent kingdoms, jointly called the heptarchy, had gradually been formed by the conquerors since the year 449, viz.: Kent, Sussex, Wessex, Essex, East Anglia, Mercia, and North-umbria. The last consisted of the two prior kingdoms of Deira and Bernicia, united by King Ethelfrid in 593. There was almost constant war among them, and two or more were frequently united under one head (in which case the monarch of the united kingdoms was called a bretwalda), until finally Egbert, king of Wessex, about 827, conquered them all, and first styled himself king of England. In his reign the Northmen first appeared in force in England; and it shows the vitality of the old British race that numbers of them joined the invaders. There had been previous attacks, but this was the most serious; it was unsuccessful, and the Britons who had risen were punished severely.
These invasions were constantly renewed, the Northmen and Danes being the terror of all peoples who could be reached from the sea. Large portions of England fell into their hands. . Much of Alfred's reign (871-901) was passed in contests with them. The fortune of these wars was various, but even the victories of the Anglo-Saxons cost them dear; yet it is probable that the general result was good, and that the infusion of new blood into England prevented the country from degenerating, and gave to it a new life. Much of what is called Saxon is of Danish origin; but the Danes and Saxons were substantially of the same race, the differ-ences being in favor of the former. A Danish dynasty was established in the early part of the 11th century, and the name of Canute, or Knut, is high on the list of England's sovereigns. The Saxon dynasty was restored in 1042, in the person of Edward the Confessor, on whose death the throne was conferred on Harold, son of Earl Godwin, a great Saxon statesman. But an event was impending over England which was to color her history for ever, The Normans, descendants of those Northmen who had settled in Neustria (N. W. France) and given it the name of Normandy, had obtained considerable influence in England in the Confessor's time, and were indeed the leading race of the West. William, duke of Normandy, claimed the throne of England through his great-aunt Emma, mother of Edward the Confessor; the latter favored his claim, although compelled to leave the crown to Harold. Neither William nor Harold had a strictly legitimate right to the throne, but Harold had the support of the English nation, and William assembled a powerful army to enforce his claim.
The support the duke received from his own subjects was reluctantly given, but the promises of spoil attracted many adventurers from different parts of Europe, so that he was enabled to land 60,000 men in England. Harold, who had just defeated an army of Norwegian invaders, met the Normans at Hastings, where he lost his life and his kingdom, Oct. 14, 10GG. William's victory was complete, and the Normans and other adventurers soon became masters of all England. Saxons and Danes were involved in common slavery. The victor introduced the feudal system into England. It is probable that the extent of the Norman spoliation has been much exaggerated, but that the natives were reduced to a state of political bondage admits of no doubt whatever. The very name of Englishman was made odious. A foreign rule was established over England, and it was not until seven generations had passed away that the distinction between Norman and Saxon was nearly obliterated. It did not disappear altogether till a much later period, but it ceased to influence legislation about the end of the 13th century.
The Norman line gave three sovereigns to England: William L, William II., and Henry I. The death of the last, in 1135, was followed by the reign of Stephen of Blois, his nephew, and by the wars between that king and the adherents of the old dynasty. Henry I. left an only daughter, Matilda, married first to the emperor of Germany, and then to Geoffrey, earl of Anjou, by whom she had that prince who became Henry II. of England in 1154. England suffered terribly in the contest between Stephen and Matilda, the rightful heiress to the crown, who was supported by a powerful party. Henry II. became king in consequence of an arrangement with Stephen, who had lost his only son Eustace, but the treaty was really the work of the barons, who had risen to high power during Stephen's reign. The young king was the founder of the royal family of Plantagenet, which held the English throne 330 years. He had Saxon blood, his great-grandmother being a Saxon princess, descended from Alfred. There have been few abler monarchs than Henry II. He was duke of Normandy and count of Anjou, and, having married Eleanor of Aquitaine, was also duke of Aquitaine and count of Poitou. Maine belonged to him.
He undertook the conquest of Ireland. Had it not been for his dispute with Becket, and domestic troubles at a later period, he might apparently have conquered the whole of France. The crusades, too, were prejudicial to his interests. He died in 1189, and was succeeded by Richard I. (Coeur de Lion). The English are proud of this chivalrous king, yet he was a Frenchman, could not speak the language of the island people, and kept out of England whenever he could. His brother and successor, John, who ascended the throne in 1199, was one of the weakest and most wicked of kings; he is one of the few men, eminent either from talent or position, who, after having been long regarded as monsters, have had nothing said in their favor by modern writers. His French rival, Philip Augustus, was an able statesman. Their contests were ruinous to John as a continental sovereign. Normandy, Brittany, and Anjou were lost, and the English Plantagenet had little more than England for his dominion. His continental possessions were all to the south of the Loire. The insular Normans were thus separated from the continental Normans, and were compelled to have the same interests with the mass of the people.
From this came the series of events that led to the concession of the great charter, June 15, 1215. John was involved in disputes with Pope Innocent III., to whom he afterward resigned his kingdom, and received it back on terms which made him a vassal. In a contest with France his troops shared in the loss of the battle of Bovines. The barons called Louis, the son of the king of France, to their aid, and he at first was successful; but evincing a partiality for his countrymen, he lost ground, many of his first supporters joining John, who was about to fight him, when he died, Oct. 19, 1216. He was succeeded by his eldest son, Henry III., then nine years old. The government was conferred on the earl of Pembroke, who compelled the French to make peace and to leave the country. On Pembroke's death power passed to the hands of Hubert de Burgh and the bishop of Winchester, but the former was soon compelled to resign it. The reign of Henry III. is the longest in English history save that of George III., and it was passed in constant troubles. The favor shown to foreigners caused much irritation. There were frequent disputes with the barons, which led to important consequences.
Under the lead of Simon de Montfort, earl of Leicester, the barons defeated the king at Lewes in 1264, and took him captive; and under Leicester's rule, the first English parliament in the modern sense was assembled in 1265. But in the same year the party of Leicester was overthrown, and the royal authority seemed firmly established. Prince Edward, the son of Henry, who had effected this, set out to join the last crusade. Henry's weakness encouraged his enemies, and the country was relapsing into confusion, when he died in 1272. Edward I. ascended the throne without opposition, and proved himself a good sovereign, founding permanent legal institutions which have ever since been spoken of with respect. He conquered Wales, annexed it to England, and conferred the title of prince of Wales on his son and heir, which has ever since been borne by the eldest son of the sovereign of England. He sought to conquer Scotland, and at one time appeared to have succeeded; but the resistance of the Scotch, first under Wallace, then under Comyn and Fraser, and finally under Bruce, saved their country from becoming an English dependency.
Edward was involved in a war with France, which had seized Guienne, one of the few remaining possessions of the English on the continent, but it was restored under papal mediation. His wars made him dependent on parliament, the power of which was much increased in his reign, the commons first sitting in a separate chamber in 1295. This has been considered the first session of the commons, though perhaps that distinction belongs to the parliament summoned by Simon de Montfort under Henry III. Ed-ward violated the great charter, and for a time showed every disposition to reign arbitrarily; but the opposition he experienced was not to be overcome, and he gave way before it. While marching to meet Bruce in Scotland, he died, July 7, 1307. His successor, Edward II., was unable to comprehend or to accomplish his father's designs. He was governed by favorites, whose insolence provoked the barons, by whom the chief favorite, Gaves-ton, was put to death in 1312. The king was induced to lead a great army to Scotland in 1314, which was completely defeated at Ban-nockburn, an event that established the Scottish nation and the throne of Bruce. At the instance of Edward's queen, Isabella of France, parliament deposed the king, who was soon afterward murdered, September, 1327. The government was now nominally in the hands of Edward III., a boy of 15, but in reality it was wielded by Isabella and Roger Mortimer, her paramour.
These rulers were unpopular, and their unpopularity was increased by a treaty which they made with Scotland in 1328, renouncing all claim to superiority over that country. Mortimer was able and unscrupulous, and the young king conspired against him. The queen mother and her lover were seized, and the latter was executed. The reign of Edward TIL is one of the most brilliant in English history. He repressed the lawless men who had had their way during his father's reign. Aiding Balliol in an attempt to obtain the crown of Scotland, he won over the Scotch the victory of Halidon Hill, July 19, 1333. He set up a claim to the crown of France, in right of his mother, which led to that rivalry of France and England which has endured to this day. He had numerous allies on the continent, and he led an army into France in 1338, which accomplished nothing. The great naval victory of Sluis was gained by the English in 1340. Troubles with parliament and want of money impeded the war, and it was not till 1346 that the battle of Crecy was won by the English. Calais was afterward taken, and the king then made a truce with the French. While he was absent, an army raised by his wife defeated the Scotch at the battle of Neville's Cross, and captured their king, David Bruce. A naval war with the Spaniards followed, and the latter were defeated in a great battle.
The pestilence that ravaged the world in the 14th century appeared in England in 1349. The renewal of the war with France led to the battle of Poitiers in 1356, in which Edward, prince of Wales, known as the Black Prince, defeated King John of France, and made him prisoner. In 1359 Edward III. again invaded France, and besieged Rheims, because he wished to be crowned king there. The next year peace was made between the two countries, Edward renouncing all claim to the French crown, but receiving large portions of French territory and an immense sum of money. The French king, finding himself unable to fulfil the terms of the treaty, went back to England a prisoner, and there died. The prince of Wales, from Guienne, interfered in the affairs of Spain, and won the battle of Najera in 1367, in behalf of Pedro the Cruel, and over the French, who under Du Guesclin were aiding Henry of Trastamare. The expense of this war made the prince unpopular, and his last days formed a miserable contrast with his early career. He died in 1376, a year before the death of his father. The latter years of the king were also embittered by failure in France, and by disputes with parliament. Much was done in this reign toward the development of English industry, and some constitutional questions were settled.
The new king, Richard II., son of the Black Prince, was only 11 years old, and a regency was appointed. The war with France languished. The peasantry, headed by Wat Tyler, rose in rebellion. The young king showed both tact and courage on this occasion, and gave greater promise of ability than was justified by his career. A war with Scotland led to no results. The ambition of the king's uncle, the duke of Gloucester, caused internal troubles. The king wasted on frivolous pleasures money that had been granted him for other purposes, and he completed his unpopularity by making a long truce with France, and by marrying the daughter of Charles VI., a child of seven years. Gloucester sought to avail himself of this unpopularity, but was seized, imprisoned, and put to death, and his party was destroyed. Parliament stood firmly by the king. Two of his supporters were the dukes of Hereford and of Norfolk, and they quarrelling, the king banished them both, the first for ten years, and the second for life. Hereford was son of John of Gaunt, the duke of Lancaster, and cousin of the king, and when on his father's death the king seized his cousin's estates, the new duke of Lancaster returned to England, and rapidly levied a force that placed him at the head of the country.
He compelled the king to resign the crown, and assembled a parliament, which made him king on the ground of his descent from Henry HI. According to the received ideas of succession, he had no claim to the throne, which, failing Richard and heirs of his body, belonged to the earl of March, descended from the duke of Clarence, third son of Edward III., the new king being son of Edward's fourth son. The reign of Henry IV. began Sept. 30, 1399. Richard was imprisoned and is supposed to have been murdered in Pontefract castle, but nothing is certainly known of his fate. Henry's reign was one of much interest. The followers of Wycliflfe had become very numerous, and the king's father, John of Gaunt, had supported Wycliffe; but the son proved a firm adherent of the church of Rome, and consented to an act for the punishment of heretics passed in 1401, and under which much cruelty was perpetrated for two centuries. The Lancastrian dynasty, by allying itself with the church, postponed the reformation for four generations. The reign of Henry IV. was short, but eventful. In a war with Scotland, the English won the victory of Homildon Hill. The rebellion of Glendower in Wales was successful for many years, and that chief was never formally subdued, though finally forced to remain quiet.
A rebellion headed by the earl of Northumberland broke out in 1403, but the victory of the king at Shrewsbury established his power. Other rebellions followed this, and the conspiracies were numerous. The French had insulted the English frequently, and Henry IV. was on the point of renewing the war, when illness compelled him to refrain; and soon after he died, March 20, 1413. His son and successor, Henry V., put down the Lollards with a vigorous hand, and renewed the war with France. In the summer of 1415 he reduced Harfleur. The battle of Agincourt, Oct. 25, 1415, was won by the English against great odds. The war was continued, and in 1420 it was settled by a treaty that Henry V. should marry Catharine, one of the daughters of Charles VI., and become heir to that king. Fortunately for England, which by its success would have been probably reduced to the condition of a province of France, this plan failed. Henry died Aug. 31, 1422, when apparently about to realize his scheme. He left but one child, a boy of nine months, who became Henry VI., and was soon the king of a large part of France, his French grandfather dying soon after his father. The king's uncle, the duke of Bedford, carried on the war, and the English were mostly victorious over the French and their Scotch allies.
A variety of events, however, among which the exploits of Joan of Arc are the most remarkable, led to a change in the fortunes of the contest, and the French had in 1451 recovered all their country except Calais and two other small places. Henry VI. proved to be a man of much amiability, but deficient in intellect and vigor. During his minority the court was the scene of intrigues and contentions; and when he had arrived at manhood, and married Margaret of Anjou, daughter of Rene, titular king of Sicily, Naples, and Jerusalem, that able princess became the real head of the state. The conflicts of parties were increased in fierceness, partly from the throwing of so many public men back upon England, who had lost all they had seized in France. That contest which is known as the war of the roses, or the contentions of the houses of York and Lancaster for the crown of England, commenced about 1452. Richard, duke of York, a descendant of the second son of Edward III., was the legitimate heir to the throne.
Had Henry VI. been an able monarch, Richard's claims would have been of little practical importance; but the weakness of the king and the fierceness of the party contests united to concentrate men's attention upon the duke, who had many strong points of character, and had served his country well in France and Ireland. He had married Cecily Neville, daughter of the earl of Westmoreland, a near connection of the earls of Salisbury and Warwick, two of the greatest nobles of the realm. The duke expected to succeed quietly to the crown on the king's death, as Henry had no children for many years after his marriage; but in 1453 Prince Edward was born. The king was reduced by illness to a state of imbecility, and York was made pro-tector; but when Henry in 1455 recovered his intellect, he resumed power, and showed such favor to the duke's enemies that the Yorkists assumed arms, and a civil war began which did not fully end until 40 years later. The first battle was fought at St. Albans, May 22, 1455, and was won by the Yorkists, or party of the white rose. The king was now in their power, and acceded to all the demands of York, who became protector again on the return of Henry's illness. The queen was less submissive, and nearly succeeded in her attempts to destroy the opposition chiefs.
War was resumed in 1459, with various fortune. After the battle of Northampton, July 10, 1460, it was arranged that Henry should remain king for life, but that York should succeed him. Margaret resisted, and on Dec. 30 defeated the Yorkists at Wakefield. York and his young son, the earl of Rutland, and his chief supporter, Salisbury, were put to death. The Yorkist claim now passed to Edward, earl of March, the duke's eldest son, a youth of 19, superior to his father in intellectual qualities, but his inferior in virtue and humanity. Edward marched against one of the Lancastrian armies and defeated it, and then proceeded to London, where the people and some of the parliament acknowledged his claims. He was proclaimed king, March 4, 1461; and so prompt were his movements that he met the Lancastrian army at Towton, a few miles from York, the 29th of the same month (Palm Sunday); 100,000 men joined battle, and after the most sanguinary conflict that ever occurred on English ground, victory declared for Edward IV. Margaret renewed the contest with French and Scottish aid, but was beaten at Hexham, May 15, 14G4. Henry fell into his rival's hands, and was imprisoned in the tower. The power of the Yorkists being established, they fell to quarrelling among themselves.
The Nevilles, at whose head stood the earl of Warwick, claimed more than the king could grant, and so became enemies of the royal house. The king's marriage with Elizabeth Woodville, widow of Sir John Grey, gave offence to Warwick. The duke of Clarence, a brother of the king, married the eldest daughter of Warwick, to the disgust of the monarch. In 1469 the Nevilles headed a rebellion, being aided by Clarence, and the king at one time was their prisoner. Released from confinement, Edward put down another rebellion, and conferred high favors on Clarence and Warwick; but the quarrel was renewed, and failing to seize the king, the rebel chiefs fled to France, where Warwick, under the mediation of Louis XL, joined the party of Margaret of Anjou. Landing in England, and proclaiming Henry VI. king, Warwick was everywhere successful, and Edward fled to Holland; but in a few months he returned, and was as successful as Warwick had been. In four weeks he entered London, having been joined by his brother Clarence. The battle of Barnet was fought April 14, 1471, and the Lancastrians were defeated, Warwick and his brother Montague falling on the field. On May 4 Edward again defeated the Lancastrians at Tewkesbury, Prince Edward, son of Henry VI., being taken prisoner, and at once put to death.
Margaret of Anjou was made prisoner, and sent to the tower, where her husband perished soon afterward. Edward was no more disturbed by the Lancastrians, but the dissensions at his court caused him great trouble. His brother Clarence he put to death. He invaded France at the head of a large force, but Louis XL bought peace of him, and he returned to England. He died in 1483. His successor, Edward V., was not quite 13 years old. The court was divided into two parties, the one consisting of the relatives of the. young king on the maternal side, and the other of the old nobility. Richard, duke of Gloucester, the king's uncle, an able and ambitious prince, seized the reins of government, was made protector, put to death several of the monarch's relatives and supporters, and finally made himself king. Edward V. and his brother, the duke of York, were placed in confinement, and soon disappeared, the general belief being that they were murdered by Richard's orders. The reign of Richard III. was brief, and much disturbed by conspiracies; he had offended the Yorkists, and had not conciliated the Lancastrians. A coalition was formed against him, at the head of which stood the earl of Richmond, who was the great-great-grandson of John of Gaunt, founder of the house of Lancaster, being descended from the earl of Somerset, son of that prince by Catharine Swynford, his mistress.
Somerset had been legitimated by parliament, but cut off from the line of succession to the crown. On his father's side Richmond belonged to the Welsh family of Tudor, his grandfather, Owen Tudor, having married Catharine of Valois, widow of Henry V. of England. Thus Richmond had no legitimate claim to the throne; but party exigencies overcame everything, and to satisfy the Yorkists it was agreed that Richmond should marry Elizabeth, eldest daughter of Edward IV. The first effort of the conspirators failed, and the duke of Buckingham, the chief of them in England, was beheaded. In 1485 they were more successful. Richmond landed in Wales at the head of a small force, marched into England, encountered Richard at Bosworth, Aug. 22, and defeated him, the king falling in the battle. The crown that he wore in the action was placed on the head of Richmond, who was hailed as Henry VII. This monarch, first of the Tudor line, bore himself as chief of the Lancastrian party, and depressed the Yorkists whenever he could do so, though he felt himself compelled to marry the princess Elizabeth. His reign was disturbed by many conspiracies, and by the appearance of pretenders to the crown.
The first of these was Lambert Simnel, who personated the earl of Warwick, son of the last duke of Clarence, and undoubted heir to the crown, failing children of Edward IV. The Irish supported this pretender, who was the son of an English baker, and he was aided by the duchess dowager of Burgundy, a sister of Henry IV., and notorious for her hatred of Henry VII. At the head of a miscellaneous force of Irish and foreign soldiers, the Yorkist leaders landed in England, and had they received any considerable English support would probably have succeeded; but they were left to fight unaided, and were totally defeated at Stoke, June 16, 1487. Among the slain was the earl of Lincoln, next to Warwick the chief member of the house of York. Simnel was taken prisoner and made a scullion in the king's kitchen. Another pretender was Perkin Warbeck, said to have been the son of a Tournay trader, but who claimed to be Richard Plantagenet, duke of York, second son of Edward IV., a claim which has found strong defenders. Henry regarded him as a much more important character than Simnel, and foreign potentates treated him as if they believed in his claim. James III. of Scotland gave him one of his relatives in marriage, and marched an army into England to aid him. But all his efforts failed.
A Cornish insurrection was put down by the king, at the battle of Blackheath; yet when the pretender entered Cornwall he was regarded as king, was joined by a large force, and laid siege to Exeter. On the approach of the royal army, however, he fled, and subsequently surrendered on condition that his life should be spared. Flying a second time, he again gave himself up on the same terms, but was set in the stocks, and made to read a confession that he was an impostor. Consigned to the tower, he sought to escape, and was hanged at Tyburn (1499). Henry at the same time caused the earl of Warwick, the last survivor of the legitimate male descendants of Edward III., to be put to death, on a groundless charge of conspiracy with Perkin. With these proceedings closed the contest between the houses of York and Lancaster, in the complete prostration of the former, though the latter was represented by an illegitimate member, who was not even descended from Henry IV., the founder of Lancastrian royalty. The last years of Henry VII. were more peaceably passed, and he became a powerful sovereign at home, while his influence was great abroad. Under him England entered upon her career of maritime discovery. His master passion was avarice.
He pretended to make war on France, but only that he might obtain money from his subjects, and then sold peace to the French monarch. He depressed the power of the high nobility in various ways. The law that no man should be held guilty of treason for adhering to the king de facto was passed in his reign. He died April 21, 1509. Henry VIII., his successor, was his second son, the first, Arthur, having died before his father. Arthur had married the princess Catharine of Aragon, daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella, and on his death his father had procured a dispensation from the pope allowing the marriage of Catharine and his second son, which was not solemnized until after the accession of Henry VIII. He was frequently engaged in hostilities with foreign countries, and the great victory of Flodden was won by one of his generals over James IV. of Scotland, husband of his sister Margaret. His policy was the result of his passions. That he was troubled concerning his marriage with his brother's widow, after that marriage failed to produce sons that could arrive at maturity, is easily believed, as he was singularly superstitious; but it required his passion for Anne Boleyn to give his scruples much force.
Had the court of Rome aided him to a divorce, he would have remained a Catholic; but that court refusing this, he threw off his allegiance to the pope, and became head of the church in England. He was six times married, and two of his wives were beheaded and two were repudiated. Much that was severe in Henry's treatment of his wives has been attributed to his desire to have heirs, the wars of the roses having made English sovereigns, statesmen, and people very sensitive on the subject of the succession. Henry interfered much in continental politics, and the European balance-of-power theory dates from his time. In his reign the scaffold was occupied by victims from every class of society, the number of whom, however, has been considerably exaggerated. The highest classes were the greatest sufferers, the king being impartial in the selection of his victims. He died Jan. 28, 1547, and was succeeded by his only son Edward VI., whose mother was Jane Seymour, Henry's third wife. Edward was in his 10th year, and the government was placed in the hands of a council of regency, the principal members of which were the earl of Hertford, the king's uncle, soon created duke of Somerset and protector, and Archbishop Cranmer. In this reign the church of England was established, and the nation placed on the Protestant side in the struggle then going on in Europe. In the contests for power that took place at court, Somerset was finally worsted, and then beheaded.
Dudley, duke of Northumberland, into whose hands all power passed, caused his fourth son, Lord Guildford Dudley, to marry Lady Jane Grey, great-granddaughter of Henry VII.; and when Edward VI. died, July 6, 1553, the duke made Lady Jane queen, to whom Edward had been persuaded to bequeath the crown. Her reign lasted but ten days, and her party was quickly dispersed. Mary, eldest daughter of Henry VIII., ascended the throne, and behaved mercifully toward most of those who had sought to prevent her succession. Northumberland and others were executed, but Lady Jane and her husband were spared till the next year, when they were executed, in consequence of the lady's father, the duke of Suffolk, having taken part in Wyatt's rebellion. Suffolk also was executed. Mary effected a reconciliation with Rome, and gave her hand to Philip II. of Spain. This marriage led to war between England and France, and an English army joined the Spanish force that invaded France, and took part in the battle of St. Quentin. The French succeeded in an attack on Calais, the loss of which shortened Mary's life. She was a devout Catholic, and caused Cranmer, Latimer, Ridley, and about 300 other Protestants, to be burned.
Her death, which occurred Nov. 17, 1558, left the throne to Elizabeth, who, somewhat against her own inclinations, sided with the Protestants for obvious reasons of policy. Her reign, which lasted nearly 45 years, is one of the most brilliant in English history. Sagacious in the selection of her counsellors, though her occasional folly gave them great trouble, she triumphed over her enemies, and raised her kingdom to the first place in Europe. She ruled over Scotland in fact, and put the sovereign of that country to death after having held her in captivity nearly 19 years. The Huguenots of France and Henry IV. received aid from her, and but for the assistance which she gave the Dutch they would have sunk under the power of Spain. She invited the Turks to join her in attacking the pope and Philip II.; and over both those potentates she achieved a great triumph in 1588, when the Spanish armada was destroyed. Some of the greatest names in the literature of England belong to the Elizabethan age.
The enterprise of Englishmen led them to circumnavigate the globe, to attempt colonization, to extend commerce, and to commence the trade with India. Elizabeth had not much to do directly with these things, but she was the central figure of a great nation in a great age, and all that was accomplished by her subjects increased the splendor of her glory. She died March 24, 1603, and with her terminated the Tudor dynasty, after an existence of nearly 118 years. She was succeeded by James VI. of Scotland, the son of her victim Mary Stuart, and first king of England of the Stuart line, who inherited the English crown in virtue of his descent from Margaret Tudor, eldest daughter of Henry VII., who had married his great-grandfather, James IV. The new king was hailed with much satisfaction by the English. The question of the succession to the throne had been one of vital interest since the successive wives of Henry VIII. had proved so unfruitful. Rulers and people alike had been deeply moved by the danger of a disputed succession, and from the death of Edward VI. to that of Elizabeth only two women of the main line were in existence, and for 44 years only one woman, Elizabeth herself.
The anxiety that was felt for the marriage of Elizabeth was owing to this dread; so that when the sceptre passed quietly to the hand of a monarch who was descended from their ancient kings, who was not yet at the period of middle life, and who was the father of several children, a weight was taken from the English mind. Had James been a man of common sense, he might have preserved this popularity, and laid deep the foundations of his dynasty; but he was a pedant and a tyrant, without the courage which is necessary to maintain a tyranny. His person, his manners, and his actions were all against him; and before he had reached London his popularity began to decline, and was quickly exhausted. He commenced that course of policy which was destined to cause his house to become extinct in exile. The divine right of kings, so abhorrent to reason and to English ideas of government, was the basis of his conduct. He perpetually claimed higher power than any Plantagenct or Tudor, but he invariably abandoned his ground when he was resisted. His first parliament, 1604, in reply to his assertion that all their privileges were derived from him, asserted in full, and in the plainest language, all those principles for which the English constitutionalists contended as facts not to be questioned.
Then began that civil contest which lasted down to 1689 in full force, and which was not utterly at an end till 1746. The foreign policy of James was as vicious as his home policy, and England became of less account in the European world than a second-rate German or Italian principality. James I. died in 1625, and was succeeded by his son Charles I., a monarch who had some elegant tastes, but who apparently could not conceive of any obligations on the part of a king to his subjects. He did not put forward his pretensions so offensively as his father, but he adhered to them with a courage and a tenacity that were utterly unknown to James. He set deliberately to work to introduce into England the system of government that prevailed in France, to do in England and Scotland what the Austro-Bur-gundian princes had done in Castile and Aragon. He had been educated in England from his early childhood, had good faculties, and had by his assent to the petition of right expressly agreed not to rule arbitrarily, for a full and solid consideration paid into his hands. Yet for 11 years (1629-'40) he called no parliament, and England was ruled as despotically as France; and had all his instruments been prudent and able men, it is possible he would have succeeded in his design.
His chief instruments were Went-worth, afterward earl of Stratford, and Laud, archbishop of Canterbury; the former one of the ablest men in an age singularly prolific in able men; the latter equally distinguished for his narrowness of mind. These two men seem to have been associated only that the wisdom of the one might be confounded by the folly of the other. Laud gave precedence to ecclesiastical tyranny, whereas Went worth, if he had had entire management of affairs, would have established political despotism, whence religious uniformity would soon have followed. It is very doubtful whether the people could have been stirred up to the fighting point if their religious sentiments had remained without serious disturbance until their political rights had been totally subverted. Laud sought to fasten the English church polity on Scotland, which was met by deep and determined resistance on the part of the Scotch. War between the Scotch people and the English government followed, and Charles was compelled to call a parliament, April, 1640. Thus were all Went-worth's sagacious plans set at naught. The parliament, known in history as the short parliament, lasted but a few days, when it was dissolved.
Six months later assembled the famous long parliament, which the king's necessity forced him to call. This parliament punished the king's tools, and forced him to admit that it should not be dissolved without its own consent. It then proceeded to divest the king of much of his power, demanding among other things the control of the militia. The parliamentary party went beyond the limits of the constitution in their desire to preserve the constitution; but their justification is to be found in the purpose and acts of the king, and in his incurable falsehood. The political leaders of 1640-'42 never counted upon the king's death or deposition, and at no time was it out of his power to have reigned in strength and peace, on the sole condition that he should rule as a constitutional sovereign. It was natural that Charles should refuse to part with power that was legally his; and it was equally natural that the parliament should refuse to allow it to remain in his hands. Both parties appealed to arms, and what is known as the great civil war began in the latter part of 1642. At first fortune favored the king, but his wrong-headedness rendered him unable to profit therefrom.
Gradually the radical party in parliament gained strength, and, under the lead of Vane, Cromwell, and others, rose to power. Cromwell was everywhere victorious in the field. Parliament was "purged" of all who showed any disposition to treat with the king. The army became the source of all power. The king was tried, condemned, and executed. Ireland was conquered by Cromwell, who was almost equally successful in Scotland. The battle of Worcester, Sept. 3, 1651, crushed the royalists for nearly nine years. In 1653 Cromwell dissolved the parliament by force, and was master of England for five years, ruling the country more wisely than it had been ruled by Charles or James, but still with an iron hand. He would have ruled constitutionally if he could, but by him the English would not be so ruled. He wished to become king, but this the army would not allow, for it was composed of sincere . republicans. Yet England then occupied the highest place she had ever known in the world's estimation; one in striking contrast with that which she had held during the 40 years of the rule of James I. and Charles I. The subjection of Ireland had now been consummated. After Cromwell's death, in 1658, dissensions broke out, and the military and civil republicans quarrelled.
Eichard, the son of the great protector, who had succeeded his father, but had little ability, resigned, and thus was prepared the way for the restoration of the Stuarts, effected by Gen. Monk in 1660. The reign of Charles II. dates in fact from that year (May 29, when he entered London), though in law it dates from the day of his father's decapitation. The change was prodigious. The austere Puritans were succeeded by profligate cavaliers. The Puritans had insisted upon ruling the nation into righteousness, and had caused that reaction which ended in the foulest licentiousness. Many of the reforms effected by the long parliament remained permanent. That body had swept away the court of star chamber, the high commission court, and the council of the north, all tremendous instruments of royal tyranny, and not one of these was it possible to revive. The nation had gone forward, and could not go backward, even under the reaction which caused sensible men to welcome back the profligate king. Had Charles been ambitious, he might have accomplished what his grandfather, his father, and after him his brother were unable to do; he might have established despotism in England, at least for a time.
But, though one of the ablest members of his family, he was singularly destitute of those feelings which ordinarily are found in monarchs. He loved his ease above all things, and if he could get pleasantly through the 24 hours, he was quite willing that other men should do so. He had many of those qualities which are popularly attributed to his grandfather, Henry IV. of France; but he probably laughed at his ancestor's daring in the field. His vices were of the popular kind, and such as men are ready to forgive in kings. From the 11th to the 30th year of his age his life had been passed amid civil disputes, wars, wanderings, and intrigues, and in poverty; and he had contracted from this experience a horror of everything like danger or business. Happen what might, he is reported to have said, he would not again go on his travels. From the personal selfishness of this easy voluptuary England derived almost as much good as from the tyranny of John or the cowardice of James I. He was content to rule as much through parliament as could be expected from a monarch under such little restraint. Several times, when persuaded to venture upon some despotic act, he was ready to give way when he found the opposition resolute.
He retreated from the ground assumed in his declaration of indulgence, and so weakened the royal power. His popularity soon declined, mainly on account of his foreign policy. England's honor, it may be said, was gibbeted with Cromwell's body at Tyburn. An unnecessary war with the Dutch produced much disgrace. The triple alliance with Sweden and Holland for a brief interval stayed the course of Louis XIV., but this was the solitary act of the kind that reflects honor on this reign. The king soon became the tool and pensioner of France. His forces assisted in the war on Holland made by Louis XIV. The unpopularity of this course, and the internal misgovernment of the cabal ministry, created a great change in English opinion, and finally assistance was sent to the Dutch. The peace of 1678 was followed by the excitement caused by the alleged popish plot, and for a time the king was almost as unpopular as his father had been in 1640. Parliament after parliament was elected, met, set itself in decided opposition to the government, and was dissolved. The leading object of the opposition was the exclusion of the duke of York, Charles's brother, from the line of succession; and even to this the king would finally have consented rather than fight.
But a reaction set in and saved him from the last disgrace; and when the Oxford parliament was dissolved, in 1681, the king found himself hardly less powerful than he had been in 1660. He never called another parliament, but was able to govern without one. The conspiracies that were formed by the whigs (the names of whig and tory had their definite political commencement in 1680) were detected, and many of the conspirators were punished. Others, men of whom the government wished to be rid, such as Russell and Sidney, were executed. Few kings have been more powerful than Charles II. was during the last three years of his reign, yet some marked advantages had been obtained by the constitutionalists, which have endured. The habeas corpus act of 1679 was among the greatest triumphs of the liberal party, not only in itself, but because it furnished a point of union between whigs and tories; for in the next reign it was found that the tories, even when most servilely loyal, could not be prevailed upon to repeal that act. Charles II. died suddenly in February, 1685. His brother James II. came to the throne without opposition, and for a brief period was popular.
Though an open and avowed Catholic, he was beloved by the priesthood of the church of England, which indeed had saved his inheritance in the days of the exclusion bill. Had he been content with persecuting the dissenters and whigs, and with destroying much of the civil liberty of his subjects, it is not unlikely that he would have made himself as powerful as Henry VIII. had been; but he wished to reestablish the ascendancy of his own church, which could not be done without overthrowing the Anglican church, and despoiling the aristocracy of much of their property; and thus he united church, aristocracy, and all the intelligent part of the people against him. The parliament which he summoned was most servile, but it could not satisfy the king. He was bent on the establishment of a despotism, and the destruction of the constitution in church and state. He punished Monmouth's rebellion with a vindictiveness to which there are few parallels in history. The king prorogued parliament in November, 1685, and that body never met again. For three years he governed despotically, and a perpetual contest was waged between him and his people; and the vigor displayed on the popular sideshows how well established was the English constitution.
The king at first sought the aid of the church against the dissenters, and received it until the church found he meant its own destruction, together with that of all other forms of Protestantism, when it revolted, in spite of its passive obedience doctrines. He then sought an alliance with the dissenters against the church, and though some of them were ready to aid him, the great majority remained true to the constitution. By the autumn of 1688 the king was opposed by almost all classes of his subjects, and could not procure the services of even third-rate lawyers in an age proverbial for the baseness of its legal men. William, prince of Orange, had watched the contest closely. He was the king's nephew, son of his sister Mary, and had married the king's eldest daughter Mary, heir apparent to the British crown. It is not probable that he cared much for the liberties of England, for he was the chief of that party in Holland which was opposed to the existing constitution, a polity in its spirit not unlike to that of England; but he was firmly opposed to Louis XIV., and desired to have the aid of England in thwarting his schemes; and James was the pensioner and ally of Louis, and so would remain so long as he should persist in governing England illegally.
While Mary of Orange stood next in succession to James, her husband could not do much in opposition to that king; but he let it be known that his sympathies and those of his wife were with the constitutionalists. James had married for his second wife Mary Beatrice, a princess of the house of Este, and from this union had proceeded four children, all of whom had died. It seems to have been taken for granted that this couple were to have no more children, and that in due course James would be succeeded by his daughter Mary; but in 1687 the queen was declared to be pregnant, and on June 10, 1688, was born that prince who was afterward known as the pretender. This incident precipitated matters, for the opinion was almost universal in England that a supposititious child had been placed in the position of heir apparent to the crown. On June 30, 1688, William was invited to invade England at the head of an army. This invitation was signed by the earls of Shrewsbury, Devonshire, and Danby, by Lord Lum-ley, by Henry Sidney and Admiral Russell, and by Compton, bishop of London; and it was accepted. A variety of circumstances favored the undertaking, and on Nov. 5 William landed at Torbay, at the head of a well appointed army, 15,000 strong, composed of men of several nations.
At first the people were slow to join him, and after advancing as far as Exeter he talked of returning to his ships; but men of note now began to repair to his standard, and it was found that James had no hold even on the great army which he had established in defiance of law. He was deserted by those upon whom he ought to have been able to rely, even his daughter Anne joining his enemies. He gave way to terror, hastened to undo all he had done, and fled. Brought back to London, he fled a second time, and reached France, whither he had sent his wife and son. All England was in the hands of William and his friends. The convention parliament that assembled conferred the crown on William and Mary, and in its declaration of right placed the vindication of the act on the ground of the "undoubted inheritance of Englishmen," the entire movement being conservative in its character, and not one of innovation. The events of 1688-'9 are known as the English revolution, but it would be more correct to call them the close of that revolution; for the contest that had commenced with the coming of the Stuarts to the throne, and which had lasted for 86 years, was virtually closed on the day that William and Mary were proclaimed king and queen of England. For almost two centuries the government of England has been constitutional without question, a circumstance totally without parallel in the history of great nations.
If we except the rebellions of 1715 and 1745, that country has been the scene of no serious outbreak against established authority for six generations. Faults there have been in both government and people, but not greater than are to be found in the corresponding annals of other European nations; while in no other country of the old world has the good that England has known had an existence. Liberty and law have gone hand in hand together, each sustaining the other, mutually imparting a portion of their spirit. Moral, intellectual, and material progress through six generations has placed England foremost among nations, and left her in some important respects without a rival. The greatness of England, her moral power, and in no small degree her literature, and the fact that she is the mother of nations destined perhaps to excel herself, are all due to the happy settlement that was effected in 1688-'9, which was the completion by one set of patriots of what other patriots had initiated or forwarded. William III. found his new throne anything but an agreeable seat, but it enabled him to combat Louis XIV. with ultimate success, though the war that England declared against France in 1689 was marked by many reverses.
It was terminated by the peace of Ryswick in 1697. Ireland was subdued almost as completely as she had been by Cromwell. Several conspiracies were formed against the new government, but they all failed. Mary died in 1694, and left William sole monarch. The freedom of the English press dates from 1695. Most of the legislation of this reign was liberal, and would have been more so if William's wishes could in all cases have prevailed. Much of the evil of those times grew out of religious intolerance, and William was singularly free from bigotry, though few men have been more devout. The toleration act, which has been said to illustrate most strikingly the peculiar vices and the peculiar excellences of English legislation, was adopted in 1689. During William's reign the bank of England was established (1694), and the modern system of finance introduced. He entered into two partition treaties with Louis XIV. to dispose of the immense dominions of the Spanish branch of the house of Austria, Charles II. being without heirs of his body.
Louis violated the second treaty in 1700, and William would have made war on him, but circumstances prevented; and there was every prospect that the entire Spanish monarchy would pass to Philip of Anjou without a serious struggle, when Louis threw the whole British nation into a rage by acknowledging the son of the exiled James II. king of Great Britain, James dying in 1V01. William was preparing for vigorous war when he died, March 8, 1702. The year before his death he had the satisfaction of seeing the finishing stroke put to the work of the revolution. In 1613 Elizabeth Stuart, daughter of James I., had wedded the elector palatine, Frederick V. The youngest child of this marriage was a daughter, Sophia, married to Ernest Augustus, first elector of Hanover. As early as 1689 William had been desirous of entailing the British crown on this lady, and the house of lords unanimously agreed to an amendment of the bill of rights to that effect. This bill declared that after the decease of both William and Mary, the crown should descend to the heirs of the body of Mary; or if she died without issue, to Anne of Denmark and the heirs of her body; or if she also was without issue, to the heirs of the body of William of Orange. The commons unanimously rejected the amendment.
While the two houses were conferring on the subject, a son, afterward known as duke of Gloucester, was born to the princess Anne. Neither house would give way, and the bill of rights was lost. But the duke of Gloucester died in 1700, and in 1701 William's old plan was adopted, and the crown was entailed on the electress Sophia. All the descendants of James II. and Charles I. were passed over, and the preference given to a granddaughter of James I., for the sole reason that she was a Protestant. There were then living 57 persons who had claims to the crown superior to those of the electress, according to the received ideas of the right of succession. William was succeeded by the sister of his wife, Anne, second daughter of James II. In May, 1702, war was declared against France, that war which was illustrated by the deeds of Peterborough and Marlborough, and which lasted 11 years, when it was concluded by the treaty of Utrecht, in which the English are thought to have thrown away nearly all the fruits of their many victories.
The war party had gone out of office in consequence of the hostility of the church, and their successors were supposed to aim at the restoration of the Stuarts. The union of England and Scotland was effected in 1707, the latter country being allowed 'to send 45 members to the house of commons, and 16 to the house of peers. Anne died Aug. 1, 1714, and the crown passed to the house of Hanover. The reign of George I. was by no means brilliant. The rebellion of 1715 in behalf of the Stuarts proved a failure, and the foreign movements for the same object were quite as useless. England allied herself with France, then ruled by the regent Orleans. The whigs returned to power, which they kept until the reign of George III. The South sea bubble caused great distress. Walpole's ascendancy began with its explosion, though he had been in office long before that date. England was involved in war with Spain, and in 1718 won the naval victory of Cape Passaro. George I. died in 1727, and was succeeded by his only son George II., between whom and himself there had been bitter hatred.
The new king, under the influence of his wife, Caroline of Anspach, continued Walpole in office, and that great minister was at the head of affairs. until the beginning of 1742, baffling for years all the exertions of a most able and unscrupulous opposition. His principle of action was "to let well alone;" but he thought things were well which badly needed improvement. He allowed himself to be forced into a war with Spain, which departure from his system was soon followed by his fall, though he retained his influence over the royal mind to the day of his death. His successors were whigs in principle, and there was no chance for the tories as a party under the first two monarchs of the Hanoverian line. War with France was added to that with Spain, growing out of the question of the Austrian succession. This war was one of the least glorious ever waged by England. In 1746 the contest between the reigning dynasty and the remains of the Stuart party was brought to an end at Culloden, where the duke of Cumberland defeated Charles Edward. The cruelties with which the Jacobites were punished reflect discredit on the English name. The treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748 restored peace to Europe for a few years.
The whigs continued to rule, headed by Henry Pelham, and after his death in 1754 by his brother the duke of Newcastle. The renewal of the war with France in 1755 led to considerable ministerial changes, and in 1757 was formed the celebrated Pitt-Newcastle ministry, which carried on the contest with great vigor; so that when George II. died, Oct. 25, 1760, his fleets and armies were everywhere triumphant. The foundation of the East Indian empire of England was laid at Plassey, June 23,1757. French America was conquered at Quebec, Sept. 13, 1759. The victories of Minden and Crefeld atoned for the days of Laffeldt and Fontenoy. Hawke's victory over Conflans was one of the noblest exploits of the British navy. The death of the king arrested the policy which had produced such results. The new king, George III. (the first English-born king of his house), grandson of George II., was by nature and education as despotic as the worst of the Stuarts, and resolved to attempt the restoration of the Stuart modes of government; and hence peace was his first object, that he might be at liberty for the work of internal change. He got rid of Pitt and made peace, but not until he had waged a brief war with Spain, that country joining the French in the last stage of the contest.
The treaty was held to be very disgraceful to England, and it certainly was unwise to give up such islands as Martinique, Cuba, and the Philippines. Scarcely more wise was it to retain Canada, whereby the English North American colonies were freed from any fear of French attacks, and any feelings of independence which they might have would be increased. Those colonies, however, would probably have been long in maturing the wish for separation from the parent country had they been well governed. With the exception of a few thoughtful men, the colonists were sincerely attached to the home government. The attempt of that government to tax them caused great indignation, and led to the American revolution. The English in the last years of the war had to fight the Americans, the French, the Spaniards, and the Dutch. The peace of 1783 left England in a low condition. She had been fortunate only in the East, where the ability and unscrupulousness of Warren Hastings increased her power. Shortly after the conclusion of the war George III. became popular, and saw the party which he hated excluded from office. The new phase of tory-ism which manifested itself under the rule of the younger Pitt became the ascendant political principle of England for more than 40 years.
When the French revolution broke out, the English ministry reluctantly engaged in the war that soon followed. A portion of the aristocratic whigs, headed by Burke, were more anxious for war than were Pitt and his immediate followers. The war lasted, with two brief intervals, down to the summer of 1815, ending in the complete triumph of England and her allies. The exertions made by England were vast. Her fleets, led by Nelson, Jervis, Howe, and Duncan, achieved splendid victories over the French and Spaniards, and in the last years of the war her armies were greatly distinguished under the lead of Wellington and others. In 1810 George III. lost his reason finally, and for more than nine years his eldest son, afterward George IV., was prince regent, succeeding to the throne in 1820. In 1812 England became involved in a war with the United States, growing out of • the impressment and right of search questions. The contest was terminated by the treaty of Ghent, Dec. 24, 1814. The colonial and Indian dominions were much extended during the contest with France. On the other hand, England found herself burdened with a debt of $4,000,000,000, and her expenditures had been on the most gigantic scale.
After the restoration of peace in 1815, England entered upon a career of reform which has been more or less steadily followed ever since. This reform at first related to commercial and legal matters, but soon reached to others more peculiarly political. The passage of the Catholic emancipation act in 1829, under direction of a ministry headed by Wellington and Peel, showed that religious bigotry was no longer to receive the direct countenance of government; and the proceeding was but the fulfilment of the spirit of the treaty by which Ireland had been united to Great Britain in 1801, and, her own parliament being abolished, allowed to send members to the imperial parliament. George IV., who had begun life as a liberal in politics, opposed this act, but was compelled to yield to the pressure brought to bear upon him by the tory chiefs. He died the next year, 1830, and, having no legitimate children, was succeeded by his brother the duke of Clarence as William IV., whose short reign was a time of more political agitation than had been known since the revolution.
Immediately after he became king happened the French revolution of July, 1830, which was followed by outbreaks in other parts of Europe, especially in Belgium and Poland. England felt these movements, and sympathized with the popular parties of the continent. In March, 1831, a bill for parliamentary reform was introduced into the house of commons by Lord John Russell, and after long debates in parliament and intense excitement in the country, caused by the opposition of the house of lords, a bill making extensive changes in the constitution of the house of commons finally passed in June, 1832, under the ministry of Earl Grey. The first reformed parliament, which met Jan. 29, 1833, contained an overwhelming majority of reformers. The dominant party, however, was too strong, and fell from its own weight. Irish troubles led to dissensions, and Lord Grey retired from office in 1834. He was succeeded by Lord Melbourne. Toward the close of the year Lord Althorp, chancellor of the exchequer, was obliged to vacate his office in consequence of his accession to the peerage as Earl Spencer. The king, who had been watching for an opportunity to get rid of the whigs, took this occasion to dismiss the ministry.
The government was committed to Sir Robert Peel, who formed a conservative ministry, and made a bold effort to retain power, though it is not probable he would have advised the king to the step he had taken in dismissing the Melbourne ministry, for there were not 200 men in the commons who would have preferred the conservatives to the whigs. Parliament was dissolved, and in the elections which followed the conservatives gained largely; but the reformers had a majority, so that, though 35 reformers voted for the Peel candidate for speaker of the house of commons, he was beaten by a majority of 10. Peel continued in office until April 8, 1835, when he retired, having been repeatedly beaten on Irish church questions. His ministry had only lasted four months. Lord Melbourne returned to office, with many of his old colleagues. The king found himself forced to submit to the whigs; but it is said he was prepared to do something against them when he was seized with the illness which proved fatal to him, June 20, 1837. He was succeeded by his niece Victoria, the only child of Edward, duke of Kent, fourth son of George III. This event led to the separation of the crowns of England and Hanover, which had been worn by the same persons since 1714, the Salic law prevailing in Hanover. The queen was very popular when she ascended the throne.
She favored the whig ministry, which remained in office four years after her accession, though often rudely shaken, and once compelled to resign for a few days. There was a near approach to war with France in 1840, in consequence of disputes on the eastern question. In 1841 the long contest between the conservatives and the whigs came to a crisis, and after the latter had been more than once defeated, the house of commons declared its want of confidence in them by a vote of 312 to 311. Shortly afterward parliament was dissolved, and the subsequent elections ended in a conservative triumph. When parliament met, the ministers were beaten by 91 majority in the commons, and by 72 in the lords. They immediately resigned, and Peel formed a conservative ministry. The whigs, just before they had been expelled, had adopted the part of corn-law reformers, and the voice of the country was beginning to make itself heard on this question of food. In many respects Peel showed himself a reformer. He freed many articles from duties, and in other ways approximated to the position of a free trader. The more intense conservatives were dissatisfied, but the course of events was too much for them.
The famine of 1845 compelled the ministry to discontinue their support of the protection policy, and the anti-corn-law league received much aid from the potato rot. The minister resigned, but was compelled to resume office, and to preside over the destruction of the corn laws, which were finally disposed of, June 26, 1846. The Peel ministry had from the first experienced much difficulty in the management of Irish affairs. The Melbourne ministry had pursued a liberal course toward Ireland, and received the support of Daniel O'Connell and his friends; but when the conservatives came into office, the Irish leader, between whom and the premier the utmost personal dislike existed, resumed the work of "agitation." He brought forward the repeal question, and meetings were held in various parts of Ireland, at which enormous numbers were present. Government interfered to prevent one of these meetings at Clontarf, Oct. 8,1843. O'Connell, one of his sons, and eight other persons were arrested on charges of conspiracy, sedition, and unlawful assembling. They were tried and convicted, and O'Connell was sentenced to a heavy fine and a year's imprisonment, and required to find high recognizances to keep the peace for seven years.
The case was carried before the house of lords, where the judgment of the lower court was reversed (Sept. 4,1844). Though nominally beaten, government was really victorious, as from that time O'Connell's influence was essentially diminished. , In 1846 the Peel ministry brought forward an act to protect life in Ireland, but it was defeated in the commons on the same day that the corn laws were repealed, and the ministry came to an end, being succeeded by one at the head of which was Lord John Russell, and which ruled England through the European crisis of 1848-'9. A weak attempt to get up an insurrection in Ireland was put down, and the chiefs in it were transported. The Russell ministry went out of office in 1852, and for several months the tories, led by Lord Derby and Mr. Disraeli, were at the head of affairs. This ministry was followed by one composed of coalesced whigs and Peel-ites, headed by Lord Aberdeen. In 1853 the troubles on the Turkish question began, and war was declared against Russia by France and England in March, 1854. Large fleets and armies were sent to the East, and fleets to the Baltic. The Crimea was invaded, the victory of the Alma won by the allies, and Sebastopol partially invested.
The Russians brought up large forces, lost the battles of Balaklava and Inkerman, but were more successful in defending Sebastopol. Winter set in, and great sufferings were experienced by the besiegers. Alarming accounts of the sanitary condition of the army reached London, and although the allies had destroyed Bo-marsund in the Aland islands, their expedition to the Baltic had failed. Much irritation existed in England, under the effect of which the Aberdeen ministry broke down, and was succeeded by one at the head of which was Lord Palmerston. The war was continued in the Crimea during the winter, but little progress was made in the siege. In the spring some brilliant successes were achieved; but on June 18 both French and English were repulsed in attempting to storm the Malakhoff and the Redan. Lord Raglan, the English commander, died soon after, and was succeeded by Gen. Simpson. On Sept. 8 the French stormed the Malakhoff, while the English failed before the Redan. The Russians immediately abandoned Sebastopol, and the war was now virtually at an end. Peace was restored by a congress of the great powers at Paris, in March, 1856; but England signed it reluctantly.
It was as well for her that peace was restored, for not much more than a year after, and while engaged in hostilities with Persia and China, a conspiracy was formed in her great Bengal army of sepoys, which broke out in January, 1857. Delhi fell into the hands of the sepoys, and the nominal Mogul emperor found himself once more a sovereign in reality. The mutiny spread rapidly, and in a short time the whole Bengal army had become hostile to the English. The contest that followed led to the complete reestablish-ment of the English ascendancy. The military reputation of England was greatly raised by the successes of her armies in India, achieved under the lead of Sir Henry Havelock, Sir Colin Campbell, and others. In eight months after the breaking out of the mutiny there were nearly 70,000 effective English troops there, and new native corps had replaced the sepoys. By the end of 1858 this formidable revolt was totally suppressed, and the few mutineers that remained were reduced to the condition of wandering brigands.
The rebellion resulted in the transfer of the immediate government of India from the East India company to the crown, the old directory sitting for the last time Sept. 1, 1858. But the ministry under which measures so thorough had been initiated became unpopular, because it was supposed to be too subservient to the policy of France. A hostile vote in the house of commons in February, 1858, drove the Palmerston ministry from office, and a new conservative ministry was formed, with the earl of Derby as premier, and Mr. Disraeli as chancellor of the exchequer. This ministry soon resigned, and Lord Palmerston resumed office in June, 1859. England made some ineffectual efforts to prevent the war in that year between Austria and Italy. In 1860 an important commercial treaty was made with France, chiefly through the agency of Mr. Cobden, the leader of the English free traders. In 1861 great efforts were made to stimulate the cultivation of cotton in India, in view of the cutting off of the ordinary supply by the civil war in America. On May 13 the queen recognized the belligerency of the insurgents in America and the blockade of their ports, and proclaimed neutrality between the contending parties.
In November Com. Wilkes, of the United States frigate San Jacinto, seized the confederate commissioners to England and France, from the British mail steamer Trent, then in the Bahama channel. This event created great excitement in England, but the commissioners were surrendered by the United States government. On Dec. 14 the prince consort Albert died. In the manufacturing counties there was great suffering from the cotton famine. In October, 1862, more than 150,000 operatives in Lancashire were entirely out of work, and 120,000 others were working only half time. This distress led some to urge the government to break the blockade of the cotton states; but it refused, and also declined the proposal of the emperor of the French for a joint mediation in American affairs. Government help was given to the distressed operatives, and private donations were made amounting to more than £1,000,000. Diplomatic correspondence with the United States in regard to the depredations of the privateer Alabama led to more settled feelings as to the American conflict, and on May 13, 1864, Mr. Cobden offered in parliament a petition for more practical efficiency in preventing violations of neutrality.
On March 10,1863, the prince of Wales was married to the princess Alexandra of Denmark. The throne of Greece was declined by Prince Alfred, and in 1864 the Ionian islands were finally ceded to Greece. In February of this year Denmark asked help of England against Prussia and Austria, and a conference in regard to Schleswig-Holstein met in London April 25; but nothing was done. The parliament elected in 1865 was strongly liberal. On Oct. 18 Lord Palmerston died, having been premier, except for a very short period, since 1855, and Earl Russell took his place; but a reform bill introduced by the ministry being rejected by parliament as insufficient, they resigned. The conservative ministry which now came into office, headed successively by the earl of Derby and Mr. Disraeli, proposed a measure of reform more liberal than that of the liberals; and a bill was passed which effected the greatest change in the constituency of the house of commons since the reform bill of 1832. The act of 1867-8, giving the suffrage to all householders, with certain limitations, increased the number of electors in England and Wales from 1,056,659 in 1866 to 2,012,631 in 1868. In 1868 an army organized at Bombay, under the command of Sir Robert Napier, and comprising 4,000 British and 8,000 sepoy troops, invaded and conquered Abyssinia, whose king Theodore had imprisoned and otherwise ill-treated a number of British subjects.
Mag-dala, the chief fortress of the country, was captured by storm on April 13, when Theodore committed suicide. The British captives being released and the king dead, the English retired from the country without delay. In 1868 Mr. Gladstone introduced a bill for the disestablishment of the Irish church, and after a sharp struggle carried it through the house of commons against the government. Parliament was dissolved Nov. 11, and a most exciting election resulted in a liberal majority of 112. The ministry resigned before the meeting of parliament, and Mr. Gladstone was called to form a new ministry, of which John Bright became a member. The Irish church disestablishment finally became a law in July, 1869. The diplomatic correspondence with the United States in regard to the depredations of the privateer Alabama was continued, and a treaty was negotiated by Reverdy Johnson, minister to England, but rejected by the United States senate. The endowed schools for elementary instruction formed the subject of a report to parliament in 1869, which showed that the income of these schools, amounting to £592,000, was mostly wasted. A bill was then passed to give these schools real efficiency.
In 1870 a general education act was passed, which aims to use all the old schools efficiently, organizes England and Wales into school districts, and provides for destitute regions by local taxation and by parliamentary grants. Education is not made free, but the school board of each district has power to remit school rates and to enforce attention to education. Under this act 300 school boards were at work in 1871, and included some of the most eminent and liberal men of the nation. Religious tests in the universities were abolished, as to all lay students, June 16, 1871. A bill for the abolition of the purchase and sale of commissions in the army was carried through the house of commons, but rejected by the lords, when the ministry took the unusual course of abolishing the purchase system by royal warrant issued July 20, 1871. A commission was appointed the same year to settle the Alabama claims and the questions growing out of the fisheries on the coast of the eastern provinces of British North America. The commission met in Washington, where a treaty was signed May 8, which was quickly ratified by both governments.
This treaty referred the Alabama claims to a board of arbitration to meet in Geneva, the northwestern boundary question to the emperor of Germany, and the other questions to a joint commission of three. The Geneva arbitration, after throwing out the claims of the United States for indirect damages, awarded an indemnification of $15,500,000, which was finally paid at Washington in September, 1873. The emperor of Germany decided the boundary question according to the claim of the United States. In the great war between France and Germany in 1870-'71 England took no part. - English Constitution. The English constitution is not any formal instrument, adopted by a convention, but is the growth of all English history. Its commencement must be looked for in the time of the Roman occupation, which not only was a grand civilizing agency, but had its effect on those Germanic conquerors whom we call Anglo-Saxons. The Saxons, while destroying the male Britons, probably spared and married their women. This gave to England an important Celtic element. The invaders probably occupied the Roman towns. The conversion of the Anglo-Saxons to Christianity was an important step toward their civilization, and developed their characteristic ideas of order and law.
They were gradually forming a Christian state, when the arrival of the Danes brought in a new element, favorable to the production of a free state. Both the aristocratic and the democratic element entered into the Saxon polity, the former attaining a decided predominance. The free classes were divided into thanes and ceorls, the former being nobles and gentry, and the latter the mass of the people. The possession of property determined the position and rights of the freemen. The thralls or slaves do not appear to have been very numerous. The local organizations regulated for the most part their own affairs. The country was divided into counties, the counties into hundreds, the hundreds into tithings. The county courts, and those of the hundreds, were popular tribunals. The witenagemote was the highest assembly, and was thoroughly aristocratic. The king presided in it, and it met by his summons. The earls, nobles by birth, as the thanes were from possession of property, attended it, and so did bishops and abbots. The thanes, too, had the right to sit in it. The local magistrates are supposed to have been occasionally present. The common people had no part in it, and were not represented. It made laws, and voted taxes when they were needed.
It controlled the king, and could elect him from among the members of the royal line. It was the highest court in all cases. The clerical influence in it was great, as it was throughout the country. The witenagemote had some of the elements of parliament, and its existence was not without effect in helping to form the polity that now exists. The Saxon aristocracy increased their power as time went on. The higher earls were fast becoming rulers of the state, when they and the people, Saxon and Danish, were all subdued by the Normans, another northern race, which had materially changed its character by a long residence in France. The conquest effected great changes in England. William I. introduced the feudal system into England, but with such modifications as prevented the sovereign from being enslaved by the nobility. The theory that the king of England is the supreme lord of all the land was established by the conqueror. This supremacy was directly and solemnly admitted by all the landed men of England in 1086, in an assembly at Salisbury. The lands which the king conferred on his followers were scattered over the country, so that it was impossible for his tenants in capite to increase into territorial potentates, as in France and elsewhere on the continent.
He kept up the Saxon courts, but withdrew from the county courts cognizance of ecclesiastical matters. These popular courts he made more popular. This judicial system tended to keep down the baronial courts, which, like the barons themselves, never attained such consequence in England as they did elsewhere. Half the people were slaves, living in villeinage. Those attached to the soil, like the late Russian serfs, were villeins regardant, while the others, who could be sold away from the land, were villeins en gros. The number of the latter was not large. This was the result of the Norman rule, the English peasants being reduced to the condition of those of Normandy. In the reign of Henry II. the work of redemption began. Judicial interpretation was favorable to the enslaved classes. At the beginning of the 13th century there was a class of free laborers in England, small in numbers, but embracing the humbler people of the towns, and some of the peasants. The free peasant, no matter how complete his poverty, was compelled to be enrolled in the dccenna, or subdivision of the hundred to which he belonged, and performed certain local political duties. He could act on inquests or juries.
The landowners were tenants in chivalry, or holders by military tenure, and included the barons and other great men holding immediately of the crown, whose burdens were as great as their honors; tenants in free socage, who have been compared with the modern yeomanry, and whose condition was as good as that of any class of men in that time; and tenants in villeinage, men who had been emancipated, and who continued to reside on their old places, rendering their old services, or freemen who had taken their places on the condition of discharging their obligations. There were not many of this last class of holders at the commencement of the 13th century. The conquered towns had passed into the hands of the Normans, but had obtained a certain degree of freedom by purchase, and also by charters, yet were liable to be specially taxed for the benefit of their lords. Such was the condition of England when John became king and carried the ordinary Norman tyranny to an extent that never was thought of by any of the preceding kings. A council of barons and prelates was held in 1213, at which Langton, archbishop of Canterbury, brought forward a charter of Henry I., which was well received. Another council was held in 1214-'15, which extorted Magna Charta from the king.
The charter itself is dated June 15,1215, but the conference was not concluded until the 19th. The great charter, one of the landmarks of the history of freedom, laid the foundation of the English constitution in its broad and definite sense. It was renewed, with some omissions, in the reign of Henry III., who also granted the charter of the forest, modifying the forest laws. These charters were renewed five times in the same reign. The charter of Henry III. has been 30 times confirmed. The most remarkable of these confirmations was in the 25th year of Edward I. The government, as established in the 13th century, provided for a hereditary monarch with limited powers, taxation by parliament, punishment to be inflicted only after lawful trial, the cessation of arbitrary fines and imprisonment, trial by jury, and justice without price or delay. Parliament attained the distinctive character which it has had for more than 600 years in 1265, when borough representation was created. Knights of the shire were earlier summoned to the great council, and it was the intention of those who framed Magna Charta that cities and boroughs should be represented; but 50 years elapsed before their plan was carried out.
Councils without burgesses continued to meet for some time after the establishment of parliament. That England obtained a symmetrical constitution in the 13th century, or that she has ever had anything of the kind, is not pretended by the most partial vindicators of her polity; but it is claimed, with strict justice, that then she became distinctly a free state, and that since that time she has been able to maintain liberty and order to an extent, and for a length of time, unknown to any other country. Monarchs and ministers frequently disregarded the restraints placed on them by the laws, but not even the most arbitrary of kings or the most reckless of ministers has ever gone beyond a certain line, save to be destroyed. The constitution continued to develop itself, and early in the 14th century we find the house of commons a great admitted power in the state. In the reign of Edward III. this body complained of the conduct of the king's ministers, and in 1376 the first impeachment by the commons took place. In the affairs of war and peace the commons were then often consulted.
It was provided that there should be frequent sessions of parliament, and 48 were held in the reign of Edward III. The minority of Richard II., and his weakness when he became of age, favored the growth of the power of the commons. That king sought to "pack" the house in 1398, a plain proof of its consequence. Parliament aided to depose Richard II., and to confer the crown on Henry IV., over the superior claim of the line of Clarence. Hallam, speaking of things as they were at the close of the 14th century, says: "Of the three capital points in contest while Edward III. reigned - 1, that money could not be levied; 2, or laws enacted without the commons' consent; and 3, that the administration of government was subject to their inspection and control - the first was absolutely decided in their favor, the second was at least perfectly admitted in principle, and the last was confirmed by frequent exercise." In the 9th year of Henry IV. it was recognized that all money bills must originate in the lower house, and that the king should not take cognizance of the subject of that body's deliberations until it had decided upon it, and brought its decision before him regularly.
Freedom of speech was reluctantly allowed by the sovereign, and Henry IV. did what he could to prevent it; and in the reign of Henry VI. a member of the commons was imprisoned because of a motion he had made; but as that motion related to the succession to the throne, and was made not long before the outbreak of the wars of the roses, perhaps the severity exercised toward him was owing to the jealousy which the Lancastrians felt toward the Yorkists. Members were then first privileged from arrest. Laws were passed to lessen the influence of the crown in elections, and to determine the qualifications of voters and representatives. At this time the desire to enter parliament was commonly felt, whereas in the preceding century it had been found necessary to enforce the election of representatives, while electors complained of the burden of paying members. The wars between the houses of York and Lancaster raised the consequence of the house of commons, as each party had to appeal to that body, and employ the power of parliament against its enemies. In 23 Henry VI. it was sought to provide that knights of the shire should be of gentle birth, but the law could not be enforced.
There was a strong hereditary aristocracy; "but," says Macaulay, "it was of all hereditary aristocracies the least insolent and exclusive. It had none of the invidious character of a caste. It was constantly receiving members from the people, and constantly sending down members to mingle with the people. Any gentleman might become a peer. The younger son of a peer was but a gentleman.
Grandsons of peers yielded precedence to newly made knights. The dignity of knighthood was not beyond the reach of any man who could by diligence and thrift realize a good estate, or who could attract notice by his valor in a battle or a siege. It was regarded as no disparagement for the daughter of a duke, nay, of a royal duke, to espouse a distinguished commoner. Thus Sir John [Sir Robert] Howard married the daughter of Thomas Mowbray, duke of Norfolk. Sir Richard Pole married the countess of Salisbury, daughter of George, duke of Clarence. Good blood was indeed held in high respect, but between good blood and the privileges of peerage there was, most fortunately for our country, no necessary connection. Pedigrees as long, and escutcheons as old, were to* be found out of the house of lords as in it. There were new men who bore the highest titles. There were untitled men well known to be descended from knights who had broken the Saxon ranks at Hastings, and scaled the walls of Jerusalem. . . . The yeoman was not inclined to murmur at dignities to which his own children might rise.
The grandee was not inclined to insult a class into which his own children must descend." It would be wrong to infer from the real power and great consideration of parliament, that the king was not a sovereign of the first rank. He was very powerful, and did many things difficult to reconcile with the idea of the chief of a constitutionally governed country. Much depended on personal character, but even the weakest of kings possessed great prerogatives, and found not much difficulty in occasionally evading or violating the law, without causing public commotion. With three or four exceptions, all the English sovereigns that reigned between the days of Hastings and Bosworth were men of distinguished talents and much energy; facts that explain why liberal principles made no greater progress, and also show the earnestness of the English for free institutions, which were gained by no ordinary means from monarchs of such abilities, who were naturally averse to everything that tended to lessen their authority. The Tudors made great changes in various respects. Yet, says Froude, " in the house of commons, then as much as now, there was in theory unrestricted liberty of discussion, and free right for any member to originate whatever motion he pleased.
But so long as confidence existed between the crown and the people, these rights were in great measure surrendered. The ministers prepared the business which was to be transacted; and the temper of the houses was usually so well understood that, except when there was a demand for money, it was rare that a measure was proposed the acceptance of which was doubtful, or the nature of which would provoke debate. So little jealousy, indeed, was in quiet times entertained of the power of the crown, and so little was a residence in London to the taste of the burgesses and the country gentlemen, that not only were their expenses defrayed by a considerable salary, but it was found necessary to forbid them absenting themselves from their duties by a positive enactment." Throughout the entire existence of the Tudor dynasty there were instances of the sovereigns retreating from positions they had assumed, when they found they had done what was unpopular; and they retreated so well as always to save their dignity, and to prevent their prerogatives from being called in question.
The resistance which the Tudors experienced when they endeavored to tax their subjects too highly can leave no doubt that the power of the people was as great as ever it had been, and that the new dynasty, whatever else it succeeded in changing, did not effect any change in the English character. They certainly bore hard upon the aristocracy, but this rather helped them with the people. The peerage was not then extensive. The first parliament of Henry VII. contained but 29 temporal peers, while in the parliament of 1451 there had been 53. The aristocracy had suffered immensely in the wars of the roses. The Tudors not only struck down many of its noblest members, but also elevated men from among the gentry and lawyers. The names of Russell and Seymour were not noble until the time of Henry VIII., or later. The Dudleys then rose to note. But whether new or old, the aristocracy were the true serviles of the Tudor times, not the people. Henry VIII., the most arbitrary of all the Tudors, says Bolingbroke, "by applying to his parliaments for the extraordinary powers which he exercised, and by taking these powers for such terms and under such restrictions as the parliament imposed, owned indeed sufficiently that they did not belong of right to the crown.
He owned likewise in effect, more than any prince who went before him, how absolutely the disposition of the crown of England belongs to the people of England, by procuring so many different and opposite settlements of it to be made in parliament." The increased weight of the commons in the Tudor reigns is proved by the desire of the government to obtain victories at elections. New boroughs were then created for the express purpose of adding to the government's influence in the house of commons, and to this action are attributed the irregularities that have existed in the popular representation of England. Government interfered in elections, and bribed members of the house. Henry's daughter, Mary, dissolved two parliaments because they would not do what she desired; and the third was not always compliant. The abbey lands could not be restored to the church, nor the English crown settled on Philip II., because of the hostility of parliament to both schemes. The reformation had great political effects, the chief of which was the increase of the power of the crown. Henry VIII. was pope of England for a time as well as king. His ecclesiastical supremacy "was exactly what the words mean; but this was owing to circumstances and to his personal character, and his system died with him.
When the Anglican church was finally established under Elizabeth, the sacerdotal character of the sovereign was disclaimed; but she held a vast power over the church, the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the crown being complete. "The act of supremacy," says Hallam, "empowered the queen to execute it by commissioners appointed under the great seal, in such manner and for such time as she should direct; whose power should extend to visit, correct, and amend all heresies, schisms, abuses, and offences whatever, which fall under the cognizance and are subject to the correction of spiritual authority." After several temporary commissions had sat under this act, the high commission court came into existence in 1583. A more arbitrary tribunal never existed. Burleigh opposed the procedure under it, but, influential as he was, his opposition availed nothing. The house of commons was hostile to the high ecclesiastical party, and its opposition was not that of a servile body. "The regiment of England," said Aylmer, afterward bishop of London, " is not a mere monarchy, as some for lack of consideration think, nor a mere oligarchy, nor democracy, but a rule mixed of all these, wherein each one of these has or should have like authority.
The image whereof, and not the image but the thing indeed, is to be seen in the parliament house, wherein you shall find these three estates: the king or queen which represented the monarchy, the noblemen which be the aristocracy, and the burgesses or knights, the democracy. If the parliament use their privileges, the king can ordain nothing without them; if he do, it is his fault in usurping it, and their fault in permitting it. Wherefore, in my judgment, those that in King Henry VIII.'s days would not grant him that his proclamation should have the force of a statute were good fathers of the country, and worthy commendation in defending their liberty." This was written in 1559, the first year of Elizabeth and the 74th of the Tudor rule; and it is not possible that it could have been written had England been despotically governed by the Tudors. To the same purport are the observations of a far greater writer of the Elizabethan time, made in its last days. " I cannot choose," says Hooker, " but commend highly their wisdom, by whom the foundation of the commonwealth hath been laid; wherein, though no manner of person or cause be un-subject unto the king's power, yet so is the power of the king over all and in all limited, that unto all his proceedings the law itself is a rule." The contest that commenced when the house of Stuart succeeded to that of Tudor, the opening scene of the English revolution, was the work of the government, and the revolutionary party consisted of that government and its adherents.
The "country party," as the opposition came to be called, was in the strictest sense of the word a conservative party; and if, in the course of the long struggle of 86 years, it had occasional resort to acts apparently revolutionary, it was because the security of liberty was found compatible only with the removal of that government which would have overthrown the last survivor of those constitutions of which there had formerly been so many in Europe. The divine right theory, which was so zealously preached in the reign of James I., was meant to prepare the way for the subjugation of the people, and for the concentration of all power in the hands of the central authority. Charles I. was bent upon not being a Venetian doge, and some able modern writers have written as if they believed there was a close resemblance between a king of England, who had only to rule according to law and his oath, and the shadowy phantom that did not even play at ruling on the Adriatic. A great power has always been wielded even by the most constitutionally inclined English monarchs, and popular feeling has often been with such kings against the aristocracy, but always on the condition that the king ruled according to law, a fact that it was impossible for Charles I. to comprehend.
The contest was for power over the purse; which secured, power over the sword followed as of course. The third parliament of Charles I. passed the petition of right, an instrument superior to Magna Charta itself, and to which the king gave his consent. In it are pointed out the breaches that had been made in the law, the constitutional rights of Englishmen are declared, and the king is prayed to rule le-gaily. Even if there had been a despotism in England previous to 1028, it ought then to have come to an end, after king and parliament had solemnly agreed upon the terms on which the government should thereafter be carried on. Yet the king violated the petition of right in the most flagrant manner, and did not call a parliament for 11 years, which was unprecedented. During that time England was as arbitrarily governed as France by Richelieu, without any of that glory which Richelieu's foreign policy was gaining for France. The machinery of despotism was found to be perfect within certain and by no means narrow limits.
The jurisdiction of the court of star chamber was very great, and the proceedings in that court were more numerous and violent than they had been under the Tudors. The objects aimed at appear to have been to accustom the people to the administration of justice by a court directly dependent upon the king, and uncontrolled by law or precedent, and to increase the royal revenue by penalties and forfeitures. The cruel, atrocious punishments inflicted by the star chamber are as well known as the sentences passed at the bloody assizes. The council of the north, which had been created by Henry VIII., but which for 96 years had comparatively limited powers and jurisdiction, was converted into a star chamber for all that part of England which lies between the Humber and the Tweed. Wentworth, the president of this council, contrived to make it even worse than it would have been under the presidency of any other man. Proclamations were frequently resorted to, and were made to have the force of law. They intermeddled with almost every department of life, to the great grievance of the subject. Yet nothing can be clearer than their unconstitutionality; and until the Stuart age they were but little known. James I. made them common, and his evil example was outdone by his successor.
The case of ship money has attracted extraordinary attention, which is in part due to the character of Hampden; but it was one then calculated to excite all men's attention in itself, for it showed that no dependence could be placed on the common-law courts, and that those tribunals were nearly as bad as the irregular tribunals which Charles, and Wentworth, and Laud employed to plunder the property, to restrict the liberty, and to mutilate the persons of Englishmen. " Ship money," says Ilallam, "was held lawful by Finch and several other judges, not on the authority of precedents, which must in their nature have some bounds, but on principles subversive of any property or privilege in the subject. These paramount rights of monarchy, to which they appealed to-day in justification of ship money, might to-morrow serve to supersede other laws, and maintain new exertions of despotic power. It was manifest by the whole strain of the court lawyers, that no limitations on the king's authority could exist but by the king's sufferance.
This alarming tenet, long bruited among the churchmen and courtiers, now resounded in the halls of justice." A reconciliation was sought with Rome, and Catholic troops were to be employed to control the Scotch and English. Even had there been no religious grievances to complain of, the political grievances were so vast and so various, that they would have justified a resort to arms on the part of all who cared for constitutional government. But there were religious grievances in abundance, though so "thorough" had been the repression exerted by Laud, that he could report to his master a most happy absence of nonconformity in 1639, "on the very eve of a revolution, in which primate and church, and monarch and monarchy, were to perish together." The religious element had much to do with bringing about the contest that commenced in 1640. The fourth parliament of Charles I. met in April, and was soon dissolved; and six months later met the most memorable parliament that ever assembled. That parliament fought the battle of the constitution, and fought it successfully. The entire machinery of despotism was broken down, most of it never to be rebuilt.
The star chamber, the council of the north, and the high commission court disappeared from England, the first two for ever, and the last to be only temporarily revived by James II. This would have ended the quarrel could the king have been trusted. But to trust him was quite out of the question, and parliament, to preserve the freedom of the country, resorted to measures which were not according to the letter of the constitution, though in keeping with its spirit. The king was forced to agree that parliament should not be dissolved without its own consent, which was an invasion of his prerogative; and later it was resolved that no minister should be appointed or peer created without the consent of parliament, and that the king should be made to resign the supreme military authority, which he justly held to be the very flower of the crown, and which was unquestionably one of its most ancient attributes. This conduct, indefensible on mere technical grounds, was proper in reference to the object in view, which was to put an end to illegal government by the king, who had repeatedly proved himself incapable of keeping his word.
War soon broke out, and the king was supported by a large number of constitutionalists, men who were prepared to maintain the government as it was after the early reforms of the long parliament had been accomplished, but who dreaded innovation. The Avar led to the suspension of the constitution, and the protectorate of Cromwell was mainly a government by the sword, in spite of the fact that the protector sincerely wished to rule as a constitutional monarch. In 1660 the house of Stuart was restored, without anything having been done to secure legal rule. The old polity came once more into full force. The government was what it had been, nominally, before Charles I. and parliament appealed to the sword, though the star chamber and high commission courts, and other institutions of tyranny, no longer had place in England. Tenures by knight service were abolished, and most of the soil of England was held under that tenure. The parliament of 1661, which lasted down to 1679, was fanatically attached to royalist principles, and to its fanaticism must the bad government of Charles II. in no small degree be attributed. His reign is one of the worst in English history, but his first parliament was as bad as the king. Yet in that reign much was done that had permanent effect on the constitution.
The dispensing power was condemned by parliament, and its illegality admitted by the king himself. The test act was passed. The habeas corpus act, which supplied a proper system of procedure to preserve the liberty of the subject, was adopted, and received the support of all Englishmen who were not anxious to see despotism established. Parliament made war or peace at its pleasure. It was now obvious not only that parliament had become the chief power in the state, but that the house of commons was virtually parliament. To counteract this, the king adopted a plan recommended by Sir William Temple. He created a new council, or extended the privy council to 30 members, 15 of whom were to be the chief ministers, while the others were to be nobles or gentlemen, without office, but of wealth and consideration. It was expected that this council would satisfy all parties, but it satisfied nobody, and failed from the commencement of its existence. The old form was soon restored. A tory reaction made the calling of parliament together unnecessary in the last years of Charles II. His successor, James II., not content with an amount of power such as no other sovereign of his line had possessed, entered upon a course of action that plainly showed he had in view the total overthrow of the constitution both in church and state; and as his stanchest supporters had been churchmen, all parties in England were soon arrayed against him, except a few Catholics and a small portion of the dissenters.
He had called a parliament immediately after his accession, and though it was the most servile body that had met for 80 years, and the king had said there were only 40 members of the house of commons whom he would not have named himself, he soon quarrelled with it. The ends which he had most at heart were, the repeal of the habeas corpus act, the establishment of a standing army, and the repeal of all laws that were directed against the Catholics. It so happened that these three things were precisely those which his own friends, the tories, were least inclined to grant. They were as much attached to the habeas corpus act as were the whigs; they associated the idea of a standing army with the military rule of Cromwell; and they saw ruin to the church of England in relief to the Catholics, and the one thing which they loved better than either monarch or monarchy was that church. For three years James carried on a warfare against the constitution, reviving the high commission court by his own act, and in defiance of acts of parliament, and in various other ways showing his utter contempt of all restraint. The events of 1688-'9 removed him from the throne, and placed the constitution on a firm basis, on which it has since rested without serious disturbance.
The government of parliament was then fairly acknowledged, and has never since been called in question. In the reign of William and Mary, and of William III., many things were done to settle the principles of the constitution. The declaration of rights adopted by the convention parliament was confirmed by the regular parliament, soon after; and the act of settlement passed in 1700 contains eight additional articles, further limiting the power of the crown, and protecting popular freedom. The most important of these articles is the seventh, by which judges were to hold their seats during good behavior, and their salaries were to be ascertained and established. The first mutiny bill was passed in 1C89, and has been renewed annually ever since, giving to parliament control of the sword. A triennial bill was passed in 1094, but septennial parliaments were established in 1717. As the law originally stood, the king could keep the parliament chosen immediately after his accession to the throne during the whole of his reign. The triennial act repealed this prerogative, and the septennial act confirmed that repeal, while it extended the time for which parliament might endure. No parliament, however, since that time has existed for seven years.
The laws relating to treason, to libel, and to toleration, passed in the year immediately following the revolution, and which became part of the constitution, were generally of a liberal character. After the accession of the house of Hanover, an attempt was made by a portion of the whigs to close the house of peers. George I. gave his consent to the introduction of a bill by which, after a few more creations, no additions were to be made to the peerage. For the 16 elective peers of Scotland, 25 hereditary peers were to be substituted. This measure succeeded in the house of peers, but the house of commons, under the lead of Walpole, threw it out. The government was strictly parliamentary down to the beginning of the reign of George III. That monarch attempted to rule parliament, and did not desist until he found that his best chance to accomplish his purpose would be through a union with that body. The demand for parliamentary reform commenced in the time of the American revolution, and was caused by the conviction that began to prevail among men of all classes that the existing abuses were owing to the vices of the electoral system.
The French revolution had the effect of delaying changes in England that were much demanded, as numerous members of the house of commons were returned by peers, or by rich individual commoners. The reform bill of 1832, and that of 1867-'8, though greatly enlarging the constituency of the house of commons in some respects, did not lessen the power of that body, which is more influential now than ever before. The exclamation of Mr. Roebuck in 1858, "The crown! it is the house of commons! " expresses the precise character of the government of the British empire. (See Parliament.) The sovereign, in theory, is almost as powerful as in early times, but in practice his power can hardly be said to exist. He can make war or peace, but the control of the purse and the sword by parliament neutralizes that prerogative. The money to pay the salaries of the officers he appoints must be voted by parliament. He cannot alter the standard of the money which it is his privilege to coin. The appointments he makes are virtually made by parliament, the ministers being only a committee of members of that body, selected from it by its consent, and responsible to it.
He is held to be incapable of doing wrong, and the ministers are responsible for all that is done in his name, which, whatever its justice in former times, is proper now, the king being capable of doing nothing, while his "advisers" do everything. He is head of the church, but he cannot alter the state religion, and should he become a Roman Catholic he would forfeit his crown. The succession to the crown is what is known as semi-Salic; that is, females can inherit and transmit the sovereignty. Females of a nearer consanguinity to the sovereign take precedence over males of a more remote degree; but in the same degree of consanguinity males, irrespective of order of birth, take precedence over females. The privy council is appointed by the king, and is bound to advise him to the best judgment of the members. With the advice of this body the king can publish proclamations, provided they are of a legal character. The council can inquire into all offences against government, and commit offenders for trial. The judicial committee of the council is a court of appeal in cases of lunacy and idiocy, and in admiralty and plantation causes, in questions between colonies, and all kindred questions.
It has an appellate jurisdiction over all parts of the empire, except Great Britain and Ireland, in the last resort. The executive government is in the hands of the ministry, which consists of the leading men of the dominant party. This has not always been the custom, for though there have always been ministers, a ministry was not formed till after the revolution, of which event it was one of the consequences. The cabinet, though now formed from the ministry, and often confounded with it, is not identical with it, and is indeed much older than the ministry. It originated in the custom, which was inevitable, of intrusting power to some few of the king's ministers. In the reign of Charles I. this knot of ministers, or "junto," as they were called, were in the habit of holding meetings in the cabinet of the queen consort, Henrietta Maria, whence the name came to have its present meaning. The word cabal had the same meaning for a time, but the unpopularity of the cabal ministry, in the reign of Charles II., caused it to become so odious that it has never since been employed in a respectful sense.
The cabinet, or rather the cabinet council, has never been recognized by the law, it has no legal existence now, the names of the persons who compose it are never officially published, and no record of its doings is kept. The difference between the cabinet and the ministry may, perhaps, be best stated by mentioning the composition of the existing English government. The ministry now consists of 31 persons, but the cabinet has only 16 members, viz.: the first lord of the treasury, chancellor of the exchequer, lord chancellor, president of the council, lord privy seal, secretaries of state for the home department, for foreign affairs, for the colonies, for war, and for India, first lord of the admiralty, first commissioner of works, chief secretary for Ireland, president of the local; government board, vice president of the education committee of the privy council, and the chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster. Among the ministers who are not of the cabinet are the commander of the forces and the postmaster general.
The post of prime minister, or premier, has generally been held by the first lord of the treasury since the accession of the house of Hanover. It was most commonly held by the lord treasurer in earlier times, but there has been no such officer since 1714, the office being in commission, and it was Sir Robert Walpole who first attached the place of prime minister to that of first lord commissioner of the treasury. Previous to that time a secretary of state . had higher official rank than the head of the treasury; and after Walpole's fall, Lord Carteret (Earl Granville) was the principal man of the ministry to which he belonged, and was a secretary of state. It has sometimes happen-ed that force of character has enabled a secretary of state to be premier in fact if not in name, as in the cases of the elder Pitt, Lord Castle-reagh, and Mr. Canning; but the rule is, that the first lord of the treasury is premier. The two offices of first lord of the treasury and chancellor of the exchequer have sometimes been held by the same person, as they were for a time by Mr. Gladstone in 1873. The king can call a privy councillor to the cabinet, though he hold no office; and eminent men have sat in that body merely as cabinet councillors. - The principal authorities for the general history of England are: the works of Turner, Palgrave, Kemble, and Lappenberg, on the Saxon times; Hallam's "Europe during the Middle Ages," and " Constitutional History of England;" Thierry's Conqaete de l'Angleterre par les Nor-mands; Freeman's "History of the Norman Conquest;" the works of Stephen, Creasy, May, and Raikes on the English constitution; the histories of England by Hume, Lingard, Knight, Mackintosh, Macaulay, and Froude, the last three being devoted to special portions of that history; and Pauli's continuation of Lappenberg.