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PUBLIC LIBRARY

ASTOR, LENOI

TILDEN FOUNDATIONS

England-Exactions of Henry VII.

1033 lences," and with the aid of his chief minister, Cardinal Morton, wrung large sums from the rich, so that it was not long before his coffers overflowed.

The rapacious monarch also took other methods of raising money, of which, indeed, he could never get enough to satisfy him. He accepted bribes for pardoning rebels, sold offices of church and state, and, under the pretence of needing money to put down fancied insurrections, obtained liberal grants from Parliament, which he hoarded in his bloated treasury. The most oppressive system, however, was that put in force by two of his lawyers, who went through the country mousing among old and forgotten laws, which they revived, and thereby reaped a prodigious harvest of wealth. The rapacity of these two scamps earned for them the nickname of the King's "skin-shearers."

One ancient statute thus brought to life imposed immense fines upon every nobleman who equipped his followers in military costume, or used a badge for the purpose of designating them. The court which was organized to enforce this statute met in a room whose ceiling was ornamented with stars, because of which the body was known as the Court of the Star Chamber. The original purpose of this court was to punish such crimes as were committed by influential families, whom the minor courts were afraid to deal with. The Star Chamber was not permitted to inflict the penalty of death, but could impose exorbitant fines and terms of imprisonment. In one instance, when the Earl of Oxford had his retainers drawn up in uniform to do honor to the King, who had dined with him, the King had him fined, more than half a million dollars for violating the Livery Law.

Gunpowder was coming gradually into use, and the introduction of artillery added immensely to the power of the monarch, for he was shrewd enough to keep the valuable invention in his own possession. In short, no means was neglected that could add to his strength, which became so great that the groaning barons saw the uselessness of making protest or resistance.

The reign of the first of the Tudor line was marked by the appearance of two pretenders to the crown. One of these was Lambert Symnel, who claimed to be Edward V., the dead nephew of Richard III. Symnel was readily quashed, and was held in such contempt by the King that he declined to punish him, except by giving him employment as a scullion in his kitchen. Perkin Warbeck boldly declared he was Richard, Duke of York, who was supposed to have been murdered in the Tower by his uncle, Richard III. There are some even at this late day who are inclined to believe he was not an impostor. He first appeared at Cork, and was warmly welcomed. Then he passed over to France and Flanders, where he was also accepted as being what he claimed to be. He He went to Scotland in 1496, and King James IV. gave him his kinswoman, Katharine Gordon, in marriage. Warbeck raised an army; but in

Cornwall, upon the approach of the royal troops, he withdrew from his men and took refuge in a sanctuary, surrendering a few days later on the promise that his life should be spared. He was hanged at Tyburn in 1499, after being held

prisoner for nearly two years.

Henry VII. greatly advanced his own interests through the marriages he arranged. That of his daughter Margaret with James IV. of Scotland opened the way for the union of the two kingdoms, while the marriage of his eldest son Arthur to Catharine of Aragon, daughter of the King of Spain, secured not only an enormously valuable marriage portion to the prince, but the alliance of Spain against France. When Arthur died a few months later, his father obtained a dispensation from the Pope which permitted him to marry his younger son Henry to Arthur's widow, and it was this son who became Henry VIII. of England. The rapacity of the King enabled him, when he died in 1509, to leave a vast fortune to Henry VIII., who was scarce eighteen years. old when he succeeded to the throne.

The century which had just drawn to a close was a memorable one, for it had seen great advances in discovery, art, and science. Columbus had found a. new world, Copernicus the astronomer had discovered a new heaven, and men had learned that it was the earth which circled about the sun, instead of the other way, as had been universally believed, and that the earth instead of being a flat plain, was a globe. The Cabots had coasted a portion of North America, and established the claim of England to the greater part of the American con-tinent. The explosive gunpowder had been invented and brought into general use. An extraordinary revival of learning had taken place at Oxford, and Erasmus, the renowned preacher, was establishing schools and hewing the path for Luther the Reformer. It has been shown, too, that printing had brought about the greatest of all revolutions.

The highest hopes centred in Henry VIII. He was handsome, frank, goodhumored, strongly in sympathy with the revival of learning, and everybody liked him. He was fond of talking with the wise men who brought the "new learning" from Florence to Oxford, and who longed to make the English wiser and better. The most zealous of these new scholars were the Dutchman Erasmus, the young clergyman John Colet, and Thomas More, who afterward became Lord Chancellor. They were ardent in the study of Greek, for the knowledge thus gained brought students in direct communication with the profoundest thinkers of the past.

As is always the case, a good many opposed the innovation advocated by these scholars, but Henry stood by them and was their staunch friend. Colet was made Dean of St. Paul's Cathedral, London, and Erasmus was appointed professor of Greek at Cambridge, where he began the work of preparing an

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