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116. Edmund Dudley,
1.POLITICAL SERIES 246. Sir Henry Vane, the Younger, 45
214. Cecil, Earl of Salisbury, 343 250. Thomas, Lord Fairfax,
Termination of the struggle betwixt the houses of York and Lancaster-Foreign
relations of England - Commercial spirit of the times - State of the country- The Reformation - Its origin - Progress under Henry VIII. - Under Edward VI.-Religious struggles of Mary's reign-General view of Elizabeth's reign-Of English literature.
The year 1485 is remarkable in the history of England, as that in which the war betwixt the rival houses of York and Lancaster was terminated by the battle of Bosworth, and the earl of Richmond was seated as Henry VII. on the English throne. His accession, founded on a very disputable claim, was followed by attempts against his government from among the opposite party in the state, but his power and influence survived. By his marriage with a princess of the rival family of York, his son and successor Henry VIII. could advance a stronger hereditary claim; and under the latter monarch, and his three children, Edward, Mary, and Elizabeth—all of them, in course, his successors on the throne—there occurred in England some of the most remarkable transactions which its history records. So prominently, however, did almost all the reigning monarchs of this period act in the public matters that pertain to it, that these transactions are, to a great degree, involved in our sketches of the sovereigns themselves, and in this introductory sketch we shall only glance at certain prominent features in this memorable period of English history.
England was wont to stand in a side or central relation, as it were, to the contending interests and discordant politics of the great continental powers; and in the period under review we find its arms directed, now against France, and anon against Spain, that country's formidable enemy. War with France was declared early in the reign of Henry VII., and in 1522, hostilities against that country were renewed by his son and successor Henry VIII. which, at intervals, were continued afterwards. But the wars with Spain during this eventful period present a more imposing and memorable scene. It is not until the reign of Elizabeth, however, that they assume such peculiar interest, as of vast religious and national importance. In that reign, Philip II. and the English queen-separated
by character and religion-carried on a course of mutual hostility, in the progress of which, English influence was established in the revolted provinces of the Low countries, and English glory was swelled by the defeat of the boasted • Invincible Armada.' These circumstances may serve to explain the extent to which military and naval distinctions adorn the names of English nobles and English commoners in this period of British history. It may be added, that Scotland and Ireland were also the scenes of English warfare in the course of these busy times. In Elizabeth's reign, in particular, the wish to gratify a queen who set her heart on the success of naval and military enterprise, the sense of actual danger to the independence and religion of the country, from the bigotry and energy of Spain,the hopes inspired by prosperous efforts,—and the honour of engaging in the bold aad enterprising adventures of the time, are motives which may all have tended to render the court of Elizabeth so chivalrous a scene, and her reign so remarkable a period in the naval and military annals of the land.
But even in the 15th century, the foreign enterprise of England, corresponding to the parallel cases of Spain and Portugal, assumes the aspect rather of geographical discovery or commercial enterprise than of political hostility. The laws respecting trade, indeed, which were passed during this period, partook of that restrictive character to which, in later times, political economists have furnished formidable objections ; but the commercial spirit was abroad, and to this period belong some memorable facts in the history of our mercantile and maritime affairs. It was in 1487, that the cape of Good Hope was discovered by Bartholomew Diaz, and in 1492, that America was first explored by Christopher Columbus. Following in the train of these great events was a voyage of discovery which the English navigator Sebastian Cabot, undertook in 1495, by letters patent from Henry VII. who, by the erection of the celebrated ship, the Great Harry, may be said, according to Mr Hume, to have begun the English navy. This is not the place for a minute detail of the discoveries of Cabot, or the voyages of Drake, or other remarkable incidents in the naval or commercial history of England: but as symptomatic of the times, and as presenting important points in that history, it may here be noticed, that in the brilliant reign of Queen Elizabeth—the last in the period under reviewwe find established a trade with Muscovy and Turkey,—the Royal Exchange was built-interest was legalized,
,—a charter was granted to the East India company,—and, in the year 1582, there were upwards of 12,000 English ships, of which, however, only 217 were of more than 80 tons burden.
The well known energy of the Tudor princes, acting on the acknowledged powers and prerogatives of the English sovereign, renders the period of their successive reigns a scene of monarchical authority and parliamentary submission somewhat revolting perhaps to the modern freeman. But in the parliaments—at least of the two female sovereigns of the line-inere are discerned the risings of the sentiments and energy which produced such mighty changes in succeeding reigns. This period, however, has been remarked for the comparative order and quiet established in the country. “ In the disorderly state of England under the Plantagenets, who governed it froin about the middle of the