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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 313

XII.] NATIONAL PARTICIPATION. 307 of a divinely constituted dictator; a theory which involves the assumption, which is altogether groundless, that the · nation saw, or thought they saw, the existing circumstances to be such as demanded a dictatorship. I do not think they did, and I am persuaded that the theory is based on that process of reading history backward, which it has been my fate, in this Chair, to have constantly to struggle against. There was nothing in the circumstances of Europe during the whole life of Henry VIII, such as there was under Queen Elizabeth, which might persuade people then living of the need of such an extraordinary officer. We, looking back on the time, may see how dangerous a time it was, how full of pitfalls and snares, and how, in the result, a great advantage was gained by England having had such a hand as even the blood-stained hand of Henry to guide her through: but the critical character of the time was not apparent to the time, or to the leading men of England during it; and the later reading of it cannot be made to account for the condition of feeling and action that we are now contemplating. The opposite view, that Henry and" his advisers concocted the parliamentary acts and manifestos in such a way as to make them embody a national adhesion, sympathy, and even enthusiasm, by the simple process of falsification, is, on the other hand, too arbitrary, too shameful, for us to contemplate with equanimity: history may be, and ought to be, tested at every turn; acts of parliament, when they are tested, may, and often do, turn out very unsound and unsatisfactory in their statements of fact, and disputable and inconsistent in their statements of law; but, if we could believe in such a wholesale perversion of evidences as this theory involves, we must resign all theories of history at once, and relegate the inquiring world to a combination χ 2

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