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judges were the only authorised exponents of the law, and the judges had decided that James's claim was legal. Against this there was nothing to allege but a resolution of the House of Commons, and a resolution of the House of Commons could not change the law. Only an Act of Parliament could do that, and in those days an Act of Parliament was not to be had without the real assent of King, Lords, and Commons. In this case, however, the assent of King and Lords was not to be had.
When the national will is strongly asserted, some way is certain to be found, in spite of all constitutional difficulties, to change the law. It is not to be supposed that any such assertion was likely to be made in 1610 or in 1614. Members of the House of Commons were dissatisfied but were not as yet disaffected to the Crown, and even their dissatisfaction was not fully shared by the nation at large.
Nor were difficulties about religion likely, at this stage of our history, to incite to resistance. The Church of England during the Middle Ages had been to a great extent national, and when Henry VIII threw off the Papal jurisdiction she became entirely national. More than any other Church, indeed, she retained a connection with the past historical development of Catholic Christianity, and she claimed that in casting off the innovations of the Middle Ages she appealed to the Scriptures, and, in cases of doubt to their interpretation by the Christian writers of the early centuries. Basing herself on this foundation, she retained the Episcopal office, which could be shown to have been in existence at least in very early times.
In theory a descendant of the Church of the first ages of Christianity, the Church of England cut off from Papal authority could not fail to be subjected to the influences of an age of religious change. On the one hand she was subjected to the Crown, because the nation was subjected to the Crown, and on the other hand her clergy and people were liable to be drawn this way and that by tides of opinion flowing in from the perturbed Continent. To enter into these
matters in detail would be to write the religious history of the England of the sixteenth century, and it is enough to say that at the end of Elizabeth's reign, whilst the Queen had succeeded in maintaining Episcopacy and to a great extent the use of the Common Prayer Book as it had been settled soon after her accession, the doctrine taught and accepted by the vast majority of that part of the clergy which was in any real sense of the word religious was Calvinistic. Elizabeth was, however, slow to mark offences, and though she had insisted on the complete use of the Prayer Book and on conformity to the rubrics in important places such as Cathedrals and College Chapels, she had winked at refusals by the incumbents of country parishes to wear the surplice and to carry out certain other ceremonial rules. After the abortive Hampton Court Conference in 1604 James resolved to enforce conformity, and a considerable number of the clergy were deprived of their benefices for refusing to conform. These Puritans, as they were called, found support in the House of Commons on the ground that it would be well at a time when there was a dearth of good preachers to retain the services of men who were notoriously conscientious, and who were morally and intellectually qualified for the fulfilment of their ministerial office. The position of the non-conforming Puritans and of their lay supporters may at this time be easily defined. Both accepted the Episcopal constitution of the Church and its relations with the Crown. Both accepted the Prayer Book as a whole, and the Calvinistic doctrine commonly taught in the pulpits. On the other hand, whilst the laymen did not offer any direct opposition to such ceremonies as the use of the surplice, some of the clergy resigned their cures rather than conform to them. Obviously the temper of the laity who sympathised with the non-conforming clergy was still less likely to to resistance than the temper roused in them by the levy of the new Impositions. Yet, though internal peace was maintained, there was a rift between the Crown and the House of Commons, and the rift was widened during the latter part of James's reign by difference of opinion on foreign politics. The proposed marriage of the Prince of Wales with a Spanish Infanta, and James's desire to settle the troubles on the Continent caused by the outbreak of the Thirty Years' War by means of the Spanish alliance, was received with disapprobation by all classes of Englishmen; and when, in the Parliament of 1621, the Commons petitioned the King to abandon the Spanish marriage, James denied the right of the House to treat of matters other than those on which he asked their advice. On this the Commons drew up a Protestation, claiming the right to discuss all matters relating to the affairs of the kingdom. James dissolved Parliament, and tore the Protestation out of the Journal Book.
In 1624 another Parliament met, which at first seemed likely to come to terms with the King; as after the failure of his negotiations with Spain he was about to take arms for the restoration of his son-in-law, the Elector Palatine. Differences of opinion, however, soon arose between James and the House of Commons as to the principles on which the war was to be conducted. An expedition sent out under Count Mansfeld ended in desperate failure. Under these circumstances James died in 1625. His successor, Charles I, was anxious to carry on war with Spain, but he was completely under the influence of the Duke of Buckingham, and all that went wrong was naturally attributed to Buckingham's mismanagement. Accordingly, the Commons in the first Parliament of Charles, which met in 1625, after showing their reluctance to grant supplies for the war, proceeded to ask that the King should take the advice of counsellors in whom Parliament could confide. They did not indeed propose that he should dismiss Buckingham, but the granting of their request would have been a long step towards the establishment of a responsible ministry, and would have cut at the root of the Tudor system, under which the supremacy of the Crown was secured by the responsibility of ministers to itself alone. Charles, seeing
the diminution of his authority which would result from the change, dissolved Parliament.
Charles's second Parliament met in 1626. An expedition to Cadiz had in the interval failed to accomplish anything, and there were reasons for believing that Buckingham was about to pick a quarrel with France in addition to the quarrel with Spain. All Buckingham's misdeeds were imputed to the most sordid motives, and the Commons had every inducement to believe the worst of his motives. Charges of crime in order to obtain the dismissal of a minister would commend themselves to a House which had no power to dismiss by simple resolution or petition. Charles, however, again interfered and dismissed his second Parliament as sharply as he had dissolved the first.
In the autumn of 1626 Charles, finding his financial necessities pressing, levied a forced loan from his subjects. In 1627 he engaged in a war with France, and sent out a fleet and army under Buckingham to relieve the Huguenot stronghold of Rochelle which was being besieged by the King of France. This expedition, like the preceding one, ended in failure, and public opinion was even more excited against Buckingham than before. In the meanwhile the execution of the forced loan had been resisted, and Charles had imprisoned leading personages who had refused payment. Five of their number had applied for a writ of Habeas Corpus, and the King's claim to imprison without showing cause, and thus by stating no issue which could go before a jury, to prevent the imprisoned person from obtaining a trial-was argued before the Court of King's Bench in what is known as The Five Knights' Case. In the end the five knights were remanded to prison, but the judges expressed so much doubt as to the King's right permanently to imprison that Charles's authority in the matter was considerably shaken. The general result was that the judges treated the King's power as something exceptional, to be employed in special crises, and though they were willing to trust the King to judge when such a crisis existed, they were unable to regard
arbitrary imprisonment as an ordinary instrument of government.
Meanwhile, the soldiers who had returned from Rhé were billeted in private houses in order that they might be kept in readiness for a fresh expedition in the following year, and were subjected to the discipline of Martial Law. Complaints were soon heard of the oppressive nature of the system. The Courts Martial too did not content themselves with the punishment of soldiers, but also punished civilians upon the complaint of soldiers.
When Charles's third Parliament met in 1628, it immediately occupied itself with these grievances. After a long struggle, Charles consented to the Petition of Right (No. 1, p. 1), which declared to be illegal the exaction of any gift, loan, benevolence, tax, or such like charge, without common consent by Act of Parliament,' all imprisonment without cause shown, all billeting of soldiers in private houses, and all exercise of Martial Law.
The Petition of Right is memorable as the first statutory restriction of the powers of the Crown since the accession of the Tudor dynasty. Yet, though the principles laid down in it had the widest possible bearing, its remedies were not intended to apply to all questions which had arisen or might arise between the Crown and the Parliament, but merely to those which had arisen since Charles's accession. Parliament had waived, for the present at least, the consideration of Buckingham's misconduct. It had also waived the consideration of the question of Impositions. That this was so appears by a comparison of the language of the Petition of Right with that of the Tonnage and Poundage Act of 1641 (No. 22, p. 88). The prohibition from taking without Parliamentary consent extends in the former to any gift, loan, benevolence, tax, or such like charge,' in the latter to any 'subsidy, custom, impost, or charge whatsoever.' The framers of the Petition of Right were the first lawyers of the day, and it can hardly have been through inadvertence that they omitted the decisive words necessary to include Impositions if they