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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 299



XI.] THE PRAEMUNIRE. 293 king's heart ; and, when he was tired of the second wife, he could obtain, from the archbishop he had made, an annulling of that marriage as easily as he could obtain a Bill of Attainder from the parliament ; and, when in time he married another woman whom he did not like, he could by a commission to the national synod obtain another judgment of nullity of marriage, and by negotiating with parliament another petition for another marriage. This wonderful Praemunire, of which the foreign residents at the English court speak with horror as a mystery of which the king alone possessed the key, might be a lash brandished over laity and clergy alike so long as the papal supremacy was admitted by either. Thus the desire of spoil, the ambition of uncontrolled sovereignty, and the facilities of gaining his own immediate ends in marriage, urged on the king in the line of doing, not what he ought, but what he could. In 1531, by the threat of Praemunire he compelled the clergy to recognise him as the supreme head on earth of the Church of England, and to pay him £118,840 by votes of Convocation: he tried the same policy with the Commons; endeavouring to compel them to purchase their exemption from the same sentence, if not by votes of money, at least by modifications of the land laws in the direction of wills and uses. In this he was for the moment defeated by the vigilance of the Commons, but he kept this line of legislation before his eyes, and with singular pertinacity; the Statute of Uses was delayed until 1536 and the Statute of Wills until 1540, but both statutes were promulgated in 1532, and formed part of a policy which we may compare, not favourably, with that of Edward I; but which has a special legal side of such importance, that only the superior importance of the ecclesiastical questions of the time can account for its being overlooked. It is true that, in their later results, the two statutes of which I have spoken


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