BRITAIN UNDER JAMES I.
By the late Professor S. R. GARDINER, D.C.L., LL.D., F.B.A., Fellow
of Merton College and Hon. Student of Christ Church, Oxford.
Importance of the accession of James I to the English throne. Political and ecclesiastical changes in Scotland in the reign of James VI . 549
The Kirk and the King . 550
Outbreak of the quarrel between them, 1596 . 551
Accession of James in England, 1603 ; peace with Spain, 1604. James I, the Church of England, and Calvinism . 552
The Hampton Court Conference . 553
James I and the English Catholics . 554
The Gunpowder Plot. 555
Attempted Union with Scotland. Finance. Salisbury Lord Treasurer . 556
The Great Contract and its abandonment. Dissolution of Parliament., 1610 ; beginning of the struggle between Crown and Commons. . 557
James I's foreign policy and Spain .558
The Palatine marriage, 1613 . 559
Dissolution of Parliament, 1614. Ascendancy of Somerset . 560
His fall. Rise of Villiers. The Spanish marriage question . 561
Last voyage, and execution of Ralegh. Colonisation of Virginia and New England .- 562
Chief Justice Coke and the supremacy of the law . 563
Conflict between Coke and Bacon. Dismissal of Coke . 565
Ascendancy of Buckingham . 566
His naval and other reforms. Cranfield . 567
Buckingham's abuses. Bohemia and the Palatinate, 1619-21. . 568
Patents of monopoly 569
Fall of Bacon. Official irregularities . 571
The Palatinate. Digby at Vienna . 572
The House of Commons against Spain . 573
Dissolution of Parliament, 1622. Gondomar . 574
The Spanish marriage-scheme. Digby at Madrid. Spanish occupation of the Palatinate. Mission of Endymion Porter . 575
Prince Charles and Buckingham in Spain. Their return. Dissolution of the Spanish marriage-treaty . 576
Buckingham in Paris. French marriage-treaty. . 577
Failure of the war policy. Death of James I, 1625 . 578
BRITAIN UNDER JAMES I.
THE accession of James I to the English throne was an event of greater importance than anything that he accomplished in the course of his reign. For the first time the whole of the British Isles were, for practical purposes, united under one government. Ireland, indeed, fell into James1 hands by conquest, and for some time to come would have to be dealt with by the masters of English power, without contributing anything to the common objects of the three kingdoms. It was otherwise with Scotland, which had maintained its independence through a prolonged struggle, waged with the resources of a scanty but hardy population, upheld by the knowledge that the interest of the continental enemies of England, especially of France, was to support a nation whose alliance gave them the opportunity of attacking England in the rear. This danger was now at an end, though the connexion between the two peoples was as yet only a personal one.
Scotland too imposed a burden on England by giving her a King whose character had been moulded by thirty-five years of kingship. Placed as an infant upon the throne from which his mother had been excluded, James had grown up amidst scenes of war and slaughter. Of the four Regents who did their best to govern in his name, the first two, Moray and Lennox, had been murdered, and the fourth, Morton, had suffered death on the scaffold. Only the third, Mar, had died in peace. Sometimes under the pretext of a war of principle, in which a King's party strove against a Queen's party, sometimes without any pretext at all, the ambitions and the hatreds of the great families found vent in mutual slaughter, clothed at times under the form of law, but quite ready to dispense with this if it were not readily forthcoming. Scotland was a prey to feudal anarchy in all its unbridled cruelty. The greatness of the evil roused the indignation of the preachers of the Kirk-of whom John Knox was unmistakably the foremost-to testify against bloodshedding and the more insidious forms of immorality which followed in its train. It was only too probable that in the tremendous struggle which these men had undertaken their voices should
It is said, probably with truth, that the Massacre of St Bartholomew later in the same year not only destroyed the Queen's party, but, by the feeling it aroused, gave to the new clergy a far larger basis of popularity than they had before enjoyed. Morton, who was still Regent, found his advantage in their growing strength, and kept order among the nobility as it had seldom been kept before. But he was no friend to clerical pretensions ; and, without support from the powers which divided Scotland amongst them, he was driven in 1577 to resign his office. In 1581 he was condemned to death and executed. Such help as the boy-King could give was thrown into the scale against him. James had fallen under an influence hostile to more than the late Regent. Amenable, to the end of his life, to personal flattery, especially when it proceeded from one superior to himself in daring and self-reliance, he was now under the yoke of his father's cousin, Esmé Stewart, who had been sent from France expressly to win him to the policy of the Guises and of the Catholic party in Europe. In 1581 the stranger became Duke of Lennox. The new favourite was necessarily detested, not only by the clergy, but by the nobles, who saw a stranger preferred before them ; and in August, 1582, Lord Ruthven and other nobles seized on the King's person, hoping to control the government in his name. They appealed to the Protestant sentiments of the Kirk as Morton had never done, and before the end of winter Lennox was driven out of the country. This task accomplished, the lords of the old Queen's party, Huntly and the Earl Marischal from the north and Argyll from the west, rose against the knot of men who had monopolised power, and in 1583 James was liberated, only to fall under the dominion of a new favourite, James Stewart, a man of blood and iron, whom he created Earl of Arran. In 1584 the Earl of Gowrie, who had taken a leading part in the Raid of Ruthven, was condemned and executed as a traitor. In the following year there was another transformation, and Arran was driven from Court by the party of the Ruthvens. Meanwhile the Kirk had been organising herself under Andrew Melville, who, since Knox's death, had been the clerical leader. In 1581 she put forth the Second Book of Discipline, claiming for herself the right to inflict ecclesiastical penalties, and demanding that the State should see them executed.
It made for the strength of the Kirk that her assemblies were not composed of ministers alone. In the Kirk sessions in parishes, in the presbyteries, and in the General Assemblies themselves laymen sat as deacons or lay-elders. In those days no line could be exactly drawn between politics and religion, and in testifying against the young King's favourites the Kirk was expressing her abhorrence of a policy which would bring Scotland under the influence of the Catholic Powers and so endanger her Protestantism. James himself not unnaturally wished to free himself from both nobles and clergy, and did his best to play off the one against the other. In 1584 he obtained from Parliament an Act striking at the independence of the Assemblies of the Kirk, and placing its government in the hands of bishops. The crisis of Elizabeth's struggle with Spain was, however, drawing near ; and when, towards the end of 1585, the Ruthven party regained power, a league with England placed Scotland on the Protestant side. The execution of Mary in 1587 did not disturb the alliance ; and when the Armada appeared in 1588 Spain could count on no help from the Scottish government. In the year before that of the Armada James reached his majority. In 1589 he married Anne of Denmark.
However exaggerated were the pretensions of the Kirk, it was only with her support that James could make the turbulent nobles feel his hand, and in 1592 he consented to an Act reestablishing the full Presbyterian system. In 1593 he defeated, with the support of the clergy, a conspiracy of the Catholic Earls Huntly, Errol, and Angus, who had risen not so much against the King as against the harshness of the clergy. This victory brought him into collision with the ministers, who called for the forfeiture of the rebels' lands and the sternest measures against all who shared their faith. In 1596 the quarrel broke out. Melville told James to his face that he was but " God's silly vassal," and charged him with attempting to balance Protestants and Papists that he might keep them both in check. There was enough of truth in this to sting; and a pretext for attacking the clergy was found in a political sermon of David Black. When the ministers supported Black, on the ground that, in the pulpit, he was free to say what he pleased, James banished him beyond the Tay. Edinburgh rose in support of the clergy, but was brought to submission by James' removal of the law Courts to Linlithgow. The ministers beyond the Forth had little sympathy with Melville's opinions ; and by holding Assemblies in the north James succeeded in obtaining their assent to measures intended to reduce the clergy to political obedience. His plan was to bring certain of the clergy into connexion with the government, with the intention of using them to control their brethren. Before the end of 1597 an Assembly had agreed that clerical commissioners should be appointed to confer from time to time with the King's representatives ; and in 1598 another Assembly resolved that fifty-one representatives of the clergy might vote
The next few years were occupied by James in securing his position as the heir of Elizabeth; and when she died in 1603 he was accepted by all parties in England as their rightful sovereign. He took with him the consciousness that he had succeeded in so making use of the circumstances of his time as to secure for the Crown in Scotland a position which it had not held for many a year. The nobles were no longer ready to rebel on the slightest pretext, and the clergy had been driven to abate the claims of their leaders to the right of interfering in politics. This James had accomplished rather by dexterous management than by supreme wisdom. It was natural that he should fancy himself equally capable of solving the problems awaiting him in England. Unfortunately he had little knowledge of those problems, and still less of the weaknesses of his own character, the impatience of opposition, the carelessness about details, and the reluctance to take trouble, which rendered nugatory his broader views of policy, often in advance of the peoples with which he had to deal. If he was, as he was called by Henry IV, " the wisest fool in Christendom," it is well to remember the wisdom as well as the folly.
So far as foreign policy was concerned, hostilities with Spain were suspended on James' accession ; for he held that, as in his capacity of King of Scotland he was not at war with that Power, he could not be at war with her in his capacity of King of England. The first note struck in the reign was the predominance of the dynastic over the national interest-a predominance which was to characterise the whole of the foreign policy of his family. The suspension of hostilities was, in 1604, followed by a treaty of peace. By coming to terms with Spain, now that England was safe from attack, James was but carrying out the wish of Elizabeth. Nor was he diverging from the path traced by her in leaving the Republic of the Netherlands to continue its resistance without open aid ; though it is probable that, had Elizabeth been still on the throne, she would have taken care, as Henry IV did after the Peace of Vervins, that the Republic, whose independence was so valuable to the maritime defence of the country, was in some underhand way supported against absorption by Spain.
Of more immediate importance was the question how James would deal with those ecclesiastical problems which in that age constituted a great part of politics. The Church of England had, under the Tudors, been in the main moulded by two influences-in the first place by the spirit of learning and enquiry which attached itself to the European Renaissance, and in the second place by the more specially Protestant individualism of religious life which had steadied itself through the
One result of this activity of parties in the English Church was the weakening of the hold of the Church of Rome on cultivated Englishmen, who were no longer left with the Puritan system as the only possible alternative to that of Rome. Men of thought were now found who refused to consider the doctrines of that Church as of diabolical origin, and who yet rejected them as fettering human intelligence, and subjected them to the searching investigation of historical study. So far as political danger from Rome was concerned, it was far less than it had been when Spain had been formidable and the spirit of domestic faction ran high ; and it might seem that the time had come to relax the penal laws against recusants. Effects, however, long outlast their causes, and the ordinary Englishman was persuaded that the danger from Rome was as great as it had been twenty years before. It is to James' credit that he aimed at relieving the tension by contenting himself with civil obedience. He had given good words to the Catholics before leaving Scotland, which he was too indolent to translate into practice in defiance of the opposition of his ministers,-especially of Sir Robert Cecil, to whom he gave a leading place in the Council. A few hot-headed Catholics, led by a priest named Watson, formed a plot to capture the King ; and their detection was followed by a promise from James to remit the recusant fines, while an underhand negotiation was carried on with Pope Clement VIII, in the hope of inducing him to appoint a representative in England with orders to excommunicate Catholics believed by the government to be dangerous to the peace of the realm. The traditions of the Papacy forbade the acceptance of a plan which would have virtually given to the civil power a voice in the issue of excommunications; and early in 1604 James learnt that the modus vivendi from which he had hoped much had failed to be accepted on the other side. His fears were also excited by discovering that, as might have been expected, the number of recusants had largely increased since the remission of the fines. Imagining that this portended a vast increase of Catholics of whose loyalty he could not be assured, and wishing to conciliate the Parliament that was shortly to meet, he
Between James and a House of Commons filled with country gentlemen and lawyers misunderstandings soon declared themselves. A claim by the King to have disputed elections referred to Chancery was defeated under the semblance of a compromise. James was however eager for a complete Union with Scotland, which the Commons were too conservative to accept, and for an increase of financial resources, which had been scarcely sufficient for the frugal Elizabeth, but had been further impaired by his own extravagance, especially through the gifts he had lavished on Scottish favourites. The Commons desired the removal of evils connected with wardship and purveyance, the removal of ceremonies obnoxious to the Puritan clergy, and the enforcement of the recusancy laws. In the end little or nothing was done, and James prorogued Parliament after administering a sharp rebuke to the House of Commons.
One of the Bills which had received the royal assent reinforced the laws against Catholics ; and to this after some hesitation James gave his consent. At the common assizes the judges put the law in force, and several executions took place. Furthermore, towards the end of the year, the recusancy fines were again required from a few of the richer Catholics, though James sent a messenger, Sir James Lindsay, to Rome, to endeavour to come to an understanding with the Pope. Either Lindsay or the authorities at Rome mistook the royal intentions ; and early in 1605 it was noised abroad that the King was about to abandon his religion. James took offence, and on February 10, 1605, announced his purpose that the penal laws should again be put in force. His good intentions had broken down partly because he could not obtain the Pope's cooperation in the enforcement of obedience ; partly because he shared the anxieties of those around him lest the Catholics, if suffered to increase, should prove a danger to his throne. The Gunpowder-plotters were naturally even more exasperated than before, and previously to November 5, 1605, the day fixed for the opening of the second session of Parliament, they had conveyed a large quantity of gunpowder to a room under the House of Lords. The government, however, got wind of their enterprise. Before long the conspirators were either killed or executed; Father Garnet, the Provincial of the Jesuits, being also executed on a charge of having a guilty knowledge of the plot.
The second session of Parliament (1605-6) was given up to the passing of a sharper law against recusants, accompanied by a new oath
The Gunpowder Plot had delayed James1 attempt to bring about a closer Union between England and Scotland. Parliament, in its first session, had contented itself with authorising the appointment of Commissioners to consider the question ; but it was only upon the opening of the third session in November, 1606, that the report of the Commissioners was made. They recommended the repeal of laws passed in each country to repel hostile attacks from its neighbour, legislation for the mutual extradition of criminals, freedom of trade, and the naturalisation in each kingdom of the natives of the other. The first two suggestions were adopted by Parliament, but the opposition to the last two was strong. Englishmen feared lest the more economical Scots might undersell them, and they were alarmed lest James' Scottish favourites might compete with them in other ways. Those whom James had brought with him had received large donations in land and money, and did not scruple to sell their influence with their master. In the end, the Bills proposed to give effect to these two measures were talked out, and the session was brought to a close. Some effect was given to one of these measures by a judgment delivered in the Exchequer Chamber in 1608, by which the post-nati, or subjects of the King born in Scotland after James' accession to the English Crown, were declared to be natural subjects of the King of England.
Partly through the narrowness of the means on which Elizabeth had contrived to subsist, but still more through his own extravagance, James found himself in grave financial difficulties. In 1606 he had added a debt of £261,000 to one of ,£400,000 bequeathed him by Elizabeth, while the excess of ordinary expenditure over revenue was £51,000, to say nothing of extraordinary expenses, amounting to an average of nearly £35,000 a year in his first three years. In the enthusiasm caused by the discovery of Gunpowder Plot Parliament voted subsidies amounting to £370,000. Such liberality could not however be reckoned on as a constant source of supply; and when in 1608, Cecil, now Earl of Salisbury, became Treasurer, it was incumbent on him to find some means of replenishing the exhausted Treasury. Elizabeth had laid an imposition upon imported currants, that is to say a duty additional to the tonnage and poundage voted to each sovereign for
The fifth session of James1 first Parliament was of short duration. The members after consulting their constituents returned under the impression that the sum of £200,000 a year was too much to grant. James, on the other hand, thought it too little. The Great Contract was dropped, and the House in an ill-temper not only refused to grant supply in any form, but fell foul of the King's Scottish favourites. James angrily prorogued Parliament, and on February 9, 1610, dissolved it. The struggle with the Commons which was to end with the decapitation of his son had begun. As yet, however, it was want of sympathy rather than any definite variance of principle or practice, which separated the two authorities. Building his theory upon Elizabethan practice, Bacon held that the strength of a ruler was to be found in his representative character, and that financial support would not be withheld from a King who set himself to lead his people in the paths in which they would willingly go. "The voice of the people," said the House of Commons, in words which probably flowed from Bacon's pen, "in things of their knowledge is said to be as the voice of God.1"
James' foreign policy was, in principle at least, as unexceptionable as was his desire to bind together his own kingdoms. Though religious antagonism was still powerful in Europe, the attempt of Spain to establish her own predominance as the champion of the Papacy had signally failed ; and, when James made peace with her in 1604, there seemed to be a chance that religious wars might be brought to a close. James having therefore recognised that this was so, his foreign policy was marked out for him by the facts of the case as well as by his own temperament. He had but to discountenance all efforts to revive the past strife, from whichever side they proceeded, and to transfer conflicts, if conflicts arose, from the domain of religion to that of politics. If Spain under Philip III was prepared to keep the peace, there was no reason to count her as an enemy. If Henry IV of France was nursing designs of future aggrandisement at the expense of Spain, there was no reason to support him. The point of danger during the early years of the reign lay in the Netherlands, where Spain was winning ground from the Dutch Republic. Spain was, however, financially exhausted, and in 1608 a conference opened at the Hague, in which England and France took part. This resulted in 1609 in the Truce of Antwerp, which put a stop to hostilities for twelve years. Later in the same year, a disputed succession in Cleves and Jiilich seemed on the point of being seized by Henry IV as a pretext for attacking the Spanish monarchy ; but his murder in 1610 put an end for the time to the danger of a European war. His widow, acting as Regent in the name of Louis XIII, was prepared to rescue Jiilich from the Archduke Leopold, who had occupied it in the Emperor's name. She was, however, in no hurry to act ; and the place was besieged and taken by a force to which James and the Dutch Republic had jointly contributed. Whether rightly or wrongly applied, James' principle was that the peace should be kept by leaving each Power in possession of what was already its own. Unfortunately for his popularity, he tried to carry his impartiality into his family relationships. Three of his children had escaped death in infancy-Henry, Elizabeth, and Charles. Since the treaty with Spain in 1604 James had been hoping to secure the hand of an Infanta for his eldest son, regarding the alliance partly as likely to bring personal credit to his family, and partly as placing in his hands an instrument by which he might in conjunction with Philip secure the peace of Europe. It seemed to him that a union of the chief Protestant State with the chief Catholic State of the day would be irresistible. The question
James, indeed, had no desire for an exclusively Protestant alliance. He wanted to have a foot in both camps ; and in February, 1613, he married his daughter to Frederick V, Elector Palatine, leader of the Union, an aggressive combination of the Protestant Princes of Germany. The Spanish government replied by despatching to England the ablest of its diplomatists, Diego Sarmiento d'Acuna, afterwards known as the Count of Gondomar, to bring James, if it were still possible, into strict conformity with Spanish policy. For the present, however, Sarmiento thought best to watch the situation till he was able to master it. It was in his favour that after Salisbury's death James fell more completely into the hands of the Howard family, the Earl of Northampton and his nephew, the Earl of Suffolk, together with the old Earl of Nottingham, who had commanded the fleet which defeated the Armada. Northampton was secretly a Roman Catholic, though he conformed ostensibly to the Established Church ; and both he and the other members of his family were favourable to the Spanish alliance, and to the detachment from Protestant interests on the Continent which it implied. Their hold upon James was strengthened in 1613 by the marriage of Suffolk's daughter, Frances-who had been divorced from the Earl of Essex under disgraceful conditions-with the King's Scottish favourite Carr, created successively Viscount Rochester and Earl of Somerset. Yet, for all that, financial necessity compelled James at least to attempt a more popular course. The deficit was increasing, and the
The dissolution necessarily threw power into the hands of the Howards. Northampton having died in this year, Suffolk was appointed Treasurer, and his son-in-law, Somerset, Lord Chamberlain. The Spanish alliance was now taken up more seriously. Before dissolving Parliament James had consulted Sarmiento as to the likelihood of the King of Spain's consent being given to a marriage between Prince Charles and the Infanta Maria. The ambassador's reply was vague, but on the whole favourable ; and Digby, James' ambassador in Spain, was instructed to make the proposal at Madrid, where it was resolved to open the negotiations on the ground that it might be a means of converting England. When the proposed articles reached England in 1615, it was found that they included a demand not only for the suspension of the penal laws against Roman Catholics, but for the education of all children born of the marriage, up to the age of twelve, by their mother, whose household was to be exclusively composed of persons of her own religion. James hesitated, but in the end offered to empower Somerset to treat on the matter with Sarmiento.
So marked a danger to the Protestantism of the future King brought on a fierce conflict in the Council between Somerset and the Howards on the one side, and the supporters of the Elizabethan tradition, headed by Archbishop Abbott and Lord Chancellor Ellesmere, on the other; the main attack was directed against Somerset, whose position was known to be shaken. Spoiled as he was by good fortune, his arrogance had shown itself in rudeness even towards the master who had raised him from obscurity. His enemies had been doing their best to induce-James to accept in his place a new favourite, young George Villiers. A discovery was opportunely made that the Countess of Somerset, two years before, had poisoned Sir Thomas Overbury, who had remonstrated with her present husband against his marriage with her; and, rightly or wrongly, Somerset was implicated in her crime. The pair were put-
The marriage question was financial as well as political. In 1614, after the dissolution of Parliament, the Council had sent out letters to persons of means asking for a benevolence, holding it justifiable to ask for money, on the ground that the Statute of Benevolences condemned the exacting of gifts to the Crown, not the simple request. Informal pressure was however used; and a gentleman named St John was fined in the Star Chamber-not, however, for refusing payment, but for stirring up others to refuse. The whole sum collected was little more than .£66,000. It was not a remedy to be repeated ; and in the spring of 1617, when the opening of a formal negotiation for the marriage treaty was discussed, it was a powerful argument that, whereas the portion of a French princess would be but .£200,000, the Spaniards offered ,£600,000 with the Infanta. To a body of commissioners selected out of the Council to advise him on the business James declared that the state of his affairs was such as might give him cause to make the best use of his son, thereby to get some good portion towards the payment of his debts, adding an assurance that Sarmiento had assured him that no alteration in the Prince's religion was required by the King of Spain, nor any liberty or toleration for his subjects. The Spaniards were doubtless promising more than they intended to fulfil, in the hope that by dragging James a step in advance he would ultimately be induced to go as far as they desired. At all events, in May, 1618, when Digby returned to England with the Spanish terms, it appeared that, though toleration was not asked for in the articles themselves, it was expected that James should agree to the repeal of the penal laws. James, who was obviously incompetent to do anything of the sort, refused to make the promise required of him. The negotiation, though not absolutely broken off, was suspended, and Gondomar-as Sarmiento was now styled-left England in July.
It was probably in consequence of the same financial distress which made James so eager for the Spanish marriage that he had sanctioned an enterprise which, if successful, could hardly fail to bring him into collision with Spain. One of his first acts on his arrival in England at the commencement of the reign had been to deprive Ralegh-the
It was not by the acquisition of gold-mines that English influence was to grow beyond the sea. Commerce was advancing steadily in the midst of political complications. The East India Company was driving a lucrative trade, though it received but scanty support from the Crown in its resistance to the overbearing interference of its Dutch rivals. In the West an attempt to colonise Virginia was made in 1607, and the new settlement proved successful after some years of struggle. In 1620 a more remarkable body found a home in the New World. A party of Separatists who had fled from persecution to Holland, finding themselves ill at ease hi their new surroundings, crossed the Atlantic and established themselves at Plymouth in New England. The foundations of the Empire were laid in strenuous labour.
At home attention was little fixed on these seeds of future greatness. The minds of men, so far as they were bent at all on matters outside the domain of private life, were drawn to the constitutional struggles which were to render the mother-country worthy of her offspring.
The strife between the Crown and the House of Commons which had twice culminated in a breach between them, had given increased importance to certain questions which arose as to the functions and limitations of various branches of the judiciary. So long as the Parliamentary system was in working order, legislation might be called in to redress any defects in the existing system. Now that it was out of gear, a conflict of jurisdiction could only be ended by the direct interposition of the Crown-a result of little importance so far as the rights of private individuals were concerned, but one which, by rendering the judges subservient to the King, might lead to evils of no slight magnitude if his claims encroached on the subjects' rights. If, on the other hand, this undue influence of the Crown was to be resisted, it could only be opposed, under existing circumstances, by exalting the judiciary into a position in which it would have to decide between the rights of the King and his subjects, thus placing the final control in political disputes in the hands of lawyers, a class of men inclined to lay down hard and fast rules more suitable for a Court of justice than for political life.
It so happened that Coke, who had become Chief Justice of the Common Pleas in 1606, was the very man to claim this high position for himself and his colleagues. Ambitious and overbearing by nature, he was ever prone to overvalue his immense stores of legal knowledge, and to undervalue those broader perceptions and sympathies which enter into the making of a statesman. Whatever might have been his office, he would have been sure to do his best to magnify it, and as a judge of a Common Law Court he was determined, so far as in him lay, to exalt the authority of the Common Law Courts above all others. Even before he became a judge, these Courts had been accustomed to issue prohibitions to the ecclesiastical judges, stopping cases before them till they had shown that the matter in hand rightly fell under their jurisdiction. The clergy, on the other hand, held that the ecclesiastical Courts derived their jurisdiction immediately from the Crown, and that their powers could only be defined by the King. In 1605 Bancroft, then Archbishop of Canterbury, presented to James a statement of their case, entitled Articuli cleri, and asked that the disputes about jurisdiction might be decided by the Court of Chancery. In 1606, after Coke's appointment, the judges gave in their answer, contending that the points at issue could be settled by Act of Parliament alone. The smaller dispute between two sets of judges was thus brought into connexion with the large one between Parliament and the Crown. In 1607 a further question arose. A lawyer named Fuller appeared before the Court of King's Bench to ask for a prohibition forbidding the Court of High Commission to tender to two of his clients an oath, known as the ex officia oath, which bound the person taking it to reveal all he knew, even against himself. The High Commission proceeded to summon .Fuller before it, on a charge of schism and erroneous opinions ; upon
Another question in which the jurisdiction of the Common Law Courts was disputed arose otat of an attempt made to reform the navy. Nottingham who, as Lord Howard of Effingham, had commanded the fleet which foiled the Armada, was now growing old, and was altogether destitute of organising capacity. Since 1604 the administration of the navy had fallen into the hands of Sir Robert Mansell, a man whose inefficiency was only equalled by his dishonesty; and under such control the navy, which had been handed down in admirable order by Elizabeth to her successor, was falling into ruin. In 1608 a commission of enquiry was appointed and ended in a speech by James, who contented himself with hoping that those who had misbehaved themselves would see the error of their ways. Bribery and corruption were hardly to be checked by so feeble an intervention, and in 1613, after a fresh commission of enquiry had been issued, Mansell obtained from James Whitelocke, a lawyer who in 1610 had taken a part adverse to the claim of the Crown in the matter of the impositions, an opinion that the commission was illegal as containing a clause authorising the Commissioners to "give order for the due punishment of offenders." Whitelocke and Mansell were forced to acknowledge before the Council that they had been in the wrong ; but no further attempt was made at this time to-reform the navy.
Two conceptions of government were thus confronted with one another-that of confining the royal authority strictly within the limits of the law, thus bringing in the judges as the arbiters of the constitution ; and that which left considerable latitude to the prerogative, hoping to find in the King a centre of reforming activity. The former view was championed by Coke, the latter by Bacon. Bacon no doubt had acquired through his long experience of Courts much of the suppleness of the courtier; but there was at the bottom of his heart a warm and ever-active patriotism, never allowing him to lose hope that the wearer of the Crown would stand forth as the leader of the nation and at last prove himself acceptable to the Parliament by which the nation was
In 1614 the conflict between Coke and Bacon was emphasised by the proceedings arising out of the case of a clergyman named Peacham, who was charged with a libellous attack on the King, in which he had suggested that the people might rise in rebellion. In 1615, in order to discover whether he had acted in collusion with others, Peacham was tortured by order of the Council ; and, when nothing was discovered by this means, it was resolved to ask the judges whether Peacham was a fit subject for prosecution on the charge of treason. Bacon, then Attorney-General, was employed to ascertain the opinion of the judges of the King's Bench, and, dreading lest Coke should overawe his brethren, resolved to put the question to each of them separately. Coke, as might have been expected, was highly indignant. " Such particular and auricular taking of opinions," he said, " is not according to the customs of the realm."
The conflict between Coke and Bacon came to a head in 1615. In a case in which the King was interested Bacon produced before the King's Bench a writ De non procedendo rege ïnconsulto, directing the judges to proceed no further till the question had been referred to Chancery, and till the King's leave to proceed further had been obtained. Bacon appears to have thought that the Chancellor as a political as well as a judicial officer would be a fitting mediator between the Crown and the judges. The case however was compromised out of Court, and it was on another point that the final struggle took place. Embittered against the Court of Chancery, Coke took up the case of two swindlers whose victims had obtained in Chancery justice which had been denied them in a Common Law Court, and, on their application to himself, declared all who had taken part in the Chancery proceedings to be liable to the penalties imposed by the statute of Praemunire. In another case -a case of Common Law-Coke and the other judges of his Court refused to take notice of an order from the King to suspend action, inasmuch as the matter was one in which the Crown was interested. On this the twelve judges were summoned before James. Eleven of them gave way, acknowledging that they were bound to consult with the King before deciding a question in which he was concerned. Coke alone held out, and was dismissed from his office (November 15, 1616). "This," said James, " is a thing regal and proper, to keep every Court within his own bounds. As for the absolute power of the Crown, that is no subject for the tongue of a lawyer, nor is it lawful to be disputed. It is atheism and blasphemy to dispute what God can do-good Christians content themselves with His Will revealed in His Word: so it is
For the present there was no House of Commons in which Coke could find a seat, and he therefore strove to climb back into power by the only means available. In 1617, James having set out to revisit his old kingdom, Coke sought to curry favour by supporting a marriage between his daughter and a brother of the favourite, a marriage which was strongly opposed by her mother, Coke's wife. At once the Court split into factions, Bacon, who had just been made Lord Keeper, taking part against Coke, in whose return to influence he recognised a grave political danger. Buckingham however, always eager to have as many dependents as possible, vehemently encouraged the marriage, and it was only by a profound apology that Bacon succeeded in warding off the danger which threatened him from the favourite's displeasure.
The position now assumed by Buckingham was, in fact, a greater danger to the Crown than anything that could arise from the pretensions of lawyers. As yet, indeed, the favourite claimed no more than to be the mouthpiece of the policy of the King; but he was allowed to be the master of the patronage of the Crown. Welcomed at first for the friendliness and good nature which distinguished him from the overbearing Somerset, he soon developed an impatience of opposition, and an insistence on personal submission by all who sought his favour, which might gain him obsequious idolaters for the present, but were certain in the end to cost him the good opinion of those standing outside the circle of the Court. Day by day he grew more self-confident, taking increased delight in the flattery of those who sought his favour. Brilliant in conversation and affable of demeanour towards his inferiors-and there was no man at Court whom he did not regard as such-he made the path easy to flatterers, and hard to those who respected themselves too highly to pay him the extravagant court that he demanded. His intervention in the question of his brother's marriage led to Coke's restoration to the Council Board ; and though Coke gained little in real influence thereby, the interference of the favourite was significant of the weight which personal considerations were now to have over politics.
It was unlikely that a youth so constituted would long be content to remain a mere Court favourite. Somerset had risen to power in conjunction with the Howards, and Buckingham now set his heart on
The more economical handling of the expenses of the navy was paralleled by financial reforms in other directions. Buckingham's eagerness to lift the Crown out of financial embarrassments had found an instrument in Sir Lionel Cranfield, who, having been bred as a London merchant, brought his commercial experience to bear on the public revenue. The time had come when, unless something were done to check the outflow of expenditure, James would be compelled to surrender at discretion to the House of Commons. The deficit for the year 1617 reached £150,000 ; and a loan of £100,000, obtained with difficulty from the City, had been swallowed up. The Crown debts amounted to £726,000, and this in spite of the fact that the revenue was automatically rising through the growth of commerce, so that the customs, which at James1 accession had brought in £86,000, were now leased for £140,000. In 1619 Gondomar estimated the growth of the trade of London since the peace with Spain at £7,500,000. It was Cranfield's task to battle with officials whose perquisites were threatened. Yet in spite of all opposition he reduced the annual expenditure of the Household by £23,000. In 1618 he was himself named Master of the Wardrobe, with the expectation that he would be able to reduce expenditure in that department ; and in the same year, with a similar object, he was appointed Master of the Wards. He was looking forward to a seat in the Council, when he was threatened with a loss of favour, till he
If, as was not unlikely, an actual balance could be reached, it would be on the sole condition that James should abstain from expensive entanglements in foreign politics. Yet this condition was becoming increasingly difficult of observance. In 1618 a revolution broke out in Bohemia ; and in 1619 James' son-in-law, Frederick V, Elector Palatine, was elected King by the revolutionary Estates of that country, in opposition to Ferdinand, who claimed to be the legitimate King, and who was himself elected Emperor, under the title of Ferdinand II, two days later. The conflict which followed the Bohemian Revolution, usually known as the Thirty Years' War, was partly a war of religion, partly also a war in which the Imperial authority was pitted against the territorial authority of the Princes. James had no reason to take sides on the latter issue, and no wish to plunge into war on the former. What was wanting in him was the capacity for understanding the sentiments of those who were actuated by motives different from his own ; and he only succeeded in making himself the laughing-stock of Europe by sending one diplomatic mission after another to urge the parties to a peaceable compromise which was detested by each. In the circumstances, it is impossible to blame him for refusing to send aid to his son-in-law in Bohemia ; but it is difficult to overestimate his folly in consenting, when Gondomar returned to England in 1620, to take up once more the thread of the negotiation for the Spanish marriage. He was swayed by the vain hope that Spain, whose whole foreign policy was and must be based on her position as chief leader of Roman Catholic Europe, would join him in an effort to mediate between Protestant and Catholic, and would subordinate the interests of her Church to the petty question whether the King of England's son-in-law should retain his territorial dominions in the Palatinate.
No doubt James' means of making war were defective. England had no standing army ready to take the field, and it was only by permitting Vere to carry a regiment of volunteers in July to the defence of the Palatinate that he was able to signify his intention to secure that
The postponement of the final decision gave an opportunity to Parliament to turn its attention to domestic affairs. Complaints had of late been rife against the issue of patents of monopoly. Elizabeth indeed had cancelled some of those against which an outcry had been raised, and James soon after his accession had cancelled many more. Fresh grants however had taken the place of those which had been recalled ; and the public disposition was such as to cry out against them not merely as evil in themselves, but as having been launched for the sole purpose of diverting money into the pockets of the favourites of the favourite. Yet this latter belief, though justified to some extent, was not nearly so well founded as was supposed. The claim of the Crown to grant patents of monopoly had never been abandoned ; and it was held by James1 advisers, long before Buckingham had been heard of at Court, that it was desirable to exercise the King's powers when the public advantage could thereby be secured. It is true that it was held in those days that the public was benefited not only by protective measures, but by other expedients which would now be rejected. A patent for instance was granted in 1611 for the manufacture of glass by means of coal furnaces ; and in 1613 all manufacture of this article by other persons was prohibited on the ground that the use of wood in their furnaces would be injurious to ship-building. Another patent for the manufacture of gold and silver thread was issued and enforced on the plea that the patentees pledged themselves to import the bullion they consumed, whereas it was exceedingly likely that private persons would melt down the gold and silver within the realm-a process which, according to the economic doctrine of the time, signified the consumption of the wealth of England for purposes of display. The manufacture was so easily carried on surreptitiously that stringent-perhaps illegal -measures were taken to maintain the patentees in the rights conferred on them ; and these measures brought the greater obloquy on those
Another patent, not strictly to be termed a monopoly, brought even greater obloquy on the government. There was as good reason then as now for keeping inns under special supervision, and in 1617 a project of one of Buckingham's kinsmen, Sir Giles Mompesson, having been adopted, all innkeepers were forced to receive a licence from certain commissioners, of whom Mompesson was one, which licences would be forfeited through overcharge or ill-treatment of travellers. A somewhat similar method was adopted with alehouses, Christopher Villiers and other courtiers receiving a share of the forfeitures expected to accrue. The mischief was that the commissioners had an interest in gathering in fines and forfeitures, but had no local knowledge to enable them to deal justly with the keepers of inns and alehouses, even if they had had any interest in so doing ; and several cases were adduced in which the agents of the commissioners had extorted undue payments.
When therefore the Commons turned to domestic affairs, it was on these patents that they fell. They found a leader in Coke, who had been elected a member, and, being always prepared to magnify his own office, urged the House to limit the powers of the Crown to interfere with the ordinary process of law. Sir Francis Michell, as a Middlesex justice, had supported the patent for alehouses, and the House, without hearing his defence, ordered him to the Tower. Mompesson was thereupon ordered into custody. He, however, succeeded in making his escape, and the Commons discovered that they had no right to inflict punishment without the consent of the House of Lords. These intemperate proceedings show that the Commons were hardly fit to be trusted with unchecked power. Buckingham, at all events, was thoroughly frightened, and explained that if anything had gone wrong it was all the fault of the referees-the Privy Councillors who had recommended the adoption of the patents, on the ground either of legality or of the public interest. James had naturally no wish to see his chief officers brought to book for advice given by them in the exercise of their duty as councillors ; but he soon found that he could only gain his point by throwing over less important personages, and in this view he acted with the concurrence of Buckingham, now under the influence of Williams, the worldly-wise Dean of Westminster. On March 13, 1621, Buckingham announced his
Among the names of the referees, that of Bacon, now Lord Chancellor and Earl of St Albans, was conspicuous. When therefore a charge of bribery in the execution of his office was brought against him, it seemed at first as if those who brought it merely sought to punish him in an indirect way for his share in the enforcement of the monopolies. Other charges, however, followed in quick succession, and were referred by the Commons to the consideration of the Lords. In the end Bacon acknowledged himself to have been guilty of corruption, and was sentenced to deprivation of office together with fine and imprisonment, the latter two penalties being ultimately remitted by the King. Subsequent investigation makes it almost certain that Bacon committed corrupt acts without corrupt intention ; but it is impossible to blame the Commons for accusing him or the Lords for sentencing him.
Bacon's case was, indeed, but an indication of a widely-spread disease. The royal, or, as we should now say, the public revenue, was insufficient for the due payment of services rendered. Add to this that there was no line drawn between the public and the private revenue of the Crown, and it is obvious that not only officials who ought to have been paid in proportion to their services, but also Court favourites, who, if they rendered services at all, rendered them only to the King in his individual capacity, would seek to benefit themselves in irregular ways. Though the system did not originate with James, it undoubtedly flourished under him with increased vigour. Persons in office expected to be paid by those who sought their aid ; and courtiers were not remiss in following suit. Occasionally, as when Suffolk was sentenced in the Star Chamber, an attempt was made to distinguish between legitimate gratuities and illegitimate bribery ; but the attempt could not properly be crowned with success, especially as James was himself an offender in the matter. It is true that in 1611, when James created the Order of Baronets, and required the payment of ,£1080 from each recipient of the new title, he at first expended that sum upon the maintenance of cavalry in Ireland and afterwards took care to return the money to each payer ; but in 1618 he openly sold four earldoms, and in 1620 he took, either for himself or for Buckingham, £20,000 from Chief Justice Montague for creating him a Viscount and conferring on him the Lord Treasurer's staff.
The causes which had wrecked Bacon's career had also frustrated the success of his political expectations. Looking as he did to the Crown
When the usual time for the close of the session arrived James had come to no definite conclusion on the subject of the Palatinate. His negotiation with the King of Denmark had failed, because Christian IV -though ready to join England in an active alliance for the support of the Palatinate-had no patience with James1 continued trust in negotiation unbacked by military force James, who persisted in renewing his attempt to turn aside the Emperor's wrath by argument, despatched Digby to Vienna, and commanded the adjournment of the House, in the hope that it might be ready to take warlike measures should Digby's report prove unsatisfactory. On June 4, in the last sitting before the adjournment, a declaration was moved in the Commons to the effect that, if the negotiation failed, they would be ready to the uttermost of their powers both with their lives and fortunes to assist the King, so that he might " be able to do that by his sword which, by peaceable courses, shall not be effected." Waving their hats in the air the members accepted the declaration with resolute shouts. But James did not use his opportunities well. In the course of the same month he ordered the arrest of Southampton and two members of the House of Commons ; and, though he had it given out that they were not under restraint for anything done by them in Parliament, it was difficult to persuade his subjects of the truth of the
Unfortunately for James, neither the passions nor interests of the German Princes were likely to bring about such a consummation. The Emperor Ferdinand desired to establish the authority of his Crown and his religion in Germany, while the Duke of Bavaria craved Frederick's electorate and at least part of his territory. When Parliament met in November, it was to hear from Digby's lips that the Upper Palatinate had been overrun by Tilly and that the Lower was in danger. Digby was himself a warm supporter of the policy of an understanding with the Catholic Powers-a warm opponent of the policy which assumed that Protestant States must in every case be in the right. Yet he knew what James never perceived-that a Power which aims at an understanding with others must begin by inspiring respect ; and he proposed that, as winter was coming on, sufficient money should be voted to pay the Elector's troops in the Lower Palatinate under Mansfeld, including the English volunteers who garrisoned the fortified towns. In this way only would it be possible to hinder these troops from plundering in the neighbouring Catholic States, and thus irritating the enemy into hostile resolutions. Before the summer arrived, there would be time enough to obtain from the Emperor a final declaration of his intentions as to Frederick's retention of his hereditary dominions. As to his retention of Bohemia there could be no longer any question.
The Commons voted that the supply required should be granted ; but they coupled their vote with a petition complaining that the King of Spain was aiming at universal monarchy, and that, in England itself, the expectation of the Spanish marriage and the favour of the Spanish ambassador had elated the spirits of the recusants. They therefore asked that the King should pursue a purely Protestant policy at home and abroad, enforce the necessary Acts, make war upon Spain, and marry the Prince to one of his own religion. Against this petition James protested as derogatory to his rights ; and the Commons admitted that they had no power to control him, especially as regarded the marriage of his son, but insisted on their right to debate all matters relating to the welfare of the kingdom, and to bring their sentiments humbly before the throne, without demanding an answer. No assertion by James that
The dissolution of James' third Parliament was a triumph for Gondomar. Without a Parliament behind him, James' plan of mediating between the Powers in collision on the Continent had been reduced to a shadow. A benevolence, to which he again had recourse, produced no more than ^88,000-a sum that, if it had come in at once instead of in driblets, would have gone but a little way to meet the expenses of war. In the meantime, the blow which James dreaded had fallen upon his son-in-law. Mansfeld, receiving no money from England, was under the necessity of plundering the neighbours of the Palatinate, and the excuse was eagerly seized by the armies which sought his downfall. In spite of fresh English embassies pleading for time to negotiate, the armies of Frederick were defeated, and the Lower Palatinate was overrun before the summer of 1622 had far advanced. Three fortresses only, Heidelberg, Mannheim, and Frankenthal, held out for the Elector. So completely had James played his part in bringing about the ruin of his own policy, that Gondomar had been able to leave England in May, safe in the consciousness that nothing that England could now do would rob the Catholic Powers of their supremacy on the Continent.
Even then, James could not see how complete his failure was. Starting from the simple proposition that both the Upper and the Lower Palatinate were the property of his son-in-law, and that everyone with a sense of justice ought to be ready to give effect to claims so well-founded, he persisted in believing that the Spanish government of Philip IV would not only recognise that his demands were just, but would also consent to renounce the solidarity of its religious and political interests with those of the Emperor, in order to restore to his inheritance a Prince who was the enemy of the religion professed by
There is no doubt that the Spanish government at this time desired to effect the marriage, if only to avert the danger of war with England. Yet it was morally impossible to assure James of the results which he expected from the marriage. The invaders of the Palatinate could not be held back. Heidelberg surrendered in September, 1622; Mannheim in November. The news of the first disaster brought about the mission of Endymion Porter to summon the King of Spain to obtain the restitution of Heidelberg within seventy days, and to engage to take the field against the Emperor, if he refused to make peace on terms agreed on by Spain and England. Buckingham, with the Prince in his train, threw himself on the side which was in favour of warlike measures.
Before Porter left England, the control of Spanish affairs had fallen into the hands of Olivares, a minister anxious to stave off financial ruin by keeping, if possible, out of war, and yet resolved to do nothing derogatory to Spain's position as a great-perhaps still the greatest-of the Catholic Powers. His position was moreover hampered by a declaration of the Infanta to her brother that she would never marry a heretic, and by Philip's consequent resolution that the marriage must be broken off in such a way as to give no offence to James. Porter therefore could but carry back a dilatory answer in regard to the Palatinate. At the same time more stringent demands were made in regard to the marriage articles; and these were accepted by James and his son on January, 1623. If Philip took no step to reveal his determination to break off the marriage, it was doubtless because Porter had brought a secret message revealing Charles' wish to come to Madrid in person, such a message being in the eyes of the Spanish ministers equivalent to an offer to change his religion; in which case, the repugnance of the Infanta to the marriage would be readily overcome.
By Buckingham, and also by Charles, whose irresolute mind had surrendered itself absolutely into the keeping of the strong-willed favourite, the proposed visit to Madrid was regarded from a very different
Charles at once put pressure on the King, not merely to break off the marriage negotiations, but to declare war against Spain. Naturally, the old man hesitated to abandon the policy to which he had clung during so many years; but the logic of facts was against him as well as the petulant insistency of his favourite and his son. The Spanish alliance was one thing, and the restoration of the Palatinate was another, and there was no way possible by which the two could be combined. Step by step he yielded to the inevitable, till at last he was driven to summon Parliament ; and Parliament, which met in February, 1624, at once recommended the dissolution of the treaty of the marriage and an attempt to recover the Palatinate. It was by this time obvious even to James that his double object was unattainable, and with a heavy heart he directed that effect should be given to the wishes of Parliament. Not only had his diplomacy broken down, but the policy behind that diplomacy. It was none the less a noble object that he had had in view -the object of smoothing away the differences arising from the great religious struggle of the last century and of bringing Catholic and Protestant governments to work together upon the lines of civil justice. But even if the scheme had not been in itself too far in advance of his age to have a chance of success, James was too deficient in skill or firmness to have averted its disastrous failure.
From that time onward the true ruler of England was Buckingham ; and for the time being he saw his advantage in the cooperation of Parliament. He steered for war, not in the spirit of the statesman, but in the spirit of a rash youth eager to revenge the slights put on him, and careless of measuring his designs by the powers at his command. However warlike her sons might be, England was unorganised for military operations outside her own territory. Nor, even if such an
By that time Buckingham had discovered that he could not dispose of foreign governments at his pleasure. Louis XIII called Richelieu to his counsels, and through him refused his sister's hand, unless she were to take with her to her new home concessions to the English Catholics at least equal to those which had been promised to Spain. Buckingham, to save his house of cards from falling to pieces, persuaded James and Charles to throw over the promise made by them to Parliament; and in December the marriage treaty was ratified by James;
Never had an English government been more thoroughly discredited. James had shown himself incapable of making peace. Buckingham and Charles had shown themselves incapable of making war. On March 27 James died, and Charles and his favourite were left to bear the brunt of the struggle in which they had heedlessly engaged.