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WILLIAM STUBBS Seventeen lectures on the study of medieval and modern history and kindred subjects


Sir John Froissart's Chronicles of England, France, Spain and the Ajoining Countries from the latter part of the reign of Edward II to the coronation of Henry IV in 12 volumes 

Chronicles of Enguerrand De Monstrelet (Sir John Froissart's Chronicles continuation) in 13 volumes 

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Seventeen lectures on the study of medieval and modern history and kindred subjects
page 287

XI.] THE KING'S CHARACTER. 281 force of character there are few indeed that come near him ; if he seems to act upon pure self-will, he is able to give a reason for his acts, and that such a reason as we cannot on mere prejudice determine to be unreasonable ; he makes his way with good men and bad men alike, and, with a few notable exceptions, he is able to overrule all protest. On mature consideration, I am inclined to regard Henry himself as the main originator of the greatest and most critical changes of his reign; and I am sure that, after the fall of Wolsey, there is no minister, great or small, who can claim anything like an original share in determining the royal policy. He could keep More as his chancellor, and Warham as his archbishop, whilst he was pushing measures which they abhorred; he could send Cromwell to the block the moment he discovered that he was pursuing designs of a colour which did not recommend itself to him; and to Audley and Wriothesley no one would dream of giving the name of an independent or original minister. Cranmer and Gardiner he tolerated alike and in turn, but Cranmer kept his place by abstention from politics and by the facility with which Henry could use him when he wanted ; whilst Gardiner, on the other hand, sank the ecclesiastic in the politician until his time came. So, for all the critical years of the reign, Henry's strong will threw the advice or agency of any subordinate politician into the shade. Henry was every inch a king ; the king, the whole king, and nothing but the king. Another of our kings, George IV, I think, who also had matrimonial troubles, in writing to liis ministers used to employ an expressive phrase to describe aVontingency which it was useless to contemplate. ' If I were an individual,' he writes, ' I might, should, or would do so and so.' Now Henry VIII in that sense was never an individual : he was always a king, looking on himself as a thing apart from mankind, on kingship as an

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