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

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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 

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WILLIAM STUBBS
Seventeen lectures on the study of medieval and modern history and kindred subjects
page 292



286 HIS COUNCIL. [XI. design, which raises them above that common herd into which Empson and Dudley fall. Besides these ostensible ministers, Henry had a council, in which perhaps more influential advisers might be looked for : such as were his brother-in-law, friend, and boon companion Suffolk, who, worthless enough himself, still was no man's enemy; Cromwell, the greatest and most famous, whose character and career are even more mysterious than his master's; and the men who made their position and reputation by their share in the business of the divorce, such as Cranmer, of whom, in this aspect, the less said the better, and Gardiner, the rough and ready, faithful, skilful, imperious yet adroit minister, on whose back history has laid so great burdens. It is no doubt within the walls of the council chamber that we have to look for the suggestions of such parts of the royal policy as were not due to Henry himself: we can hardly, except in the cases of Wolsey and Cromwell, very distinctly lay our hand on the authorship of a particular scheme : and it is quite certain that, when a particular scheme that pleased the king was started, he adopted it as his own with an ardour and pertinacity fully in keeping with his own idea of his infallibility. So, although for a time Wolsey, and after him Norfolk, and after him Cromwell, and after him Norfolk again, seem to be the prime ministers of a country in which for at least two centuries such prime ministers had been constitutional facts, and although there was in the council a fertile seminary of politicians creeping into power, yet on the whole Henry was his own chief counsellor; in spite of his inconsistencies the most consistent, and in spite of his changes and caprices the most persistent, of all the men who changed, at this great critical juncture, the whole face and attitude of England. What more need be noted, in such a brief outline as I am now drawing of these things, of the vast industry and broad


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