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consequence of this attachment, in the first parliament under Edward IV. which began at Westminster, on the 4th of November, 1461, he was attainted of high treason, by the same act which likewise ordered the attainder of Henry VI. queen Margaret, and Edward, their son, with a number of other persons of distinction. On the flight of Henry into Scotland, it is generally believed, that he created Fortescue chancellor of England; and the latter, in his book De Laudibus Legum Anglia, stiles himself Cancellarius Angliæ.
In the April of 1463, he fled to Flanders, in company with queen Margaret, prince Edward, and other persons of rank, who followed the fortunes of the house of Lancaster. He continued exiled from his country during many years, moving from place to place, as the necessities of the royal family required; and finally returned with them to England, on a delusive prospect of retrieving their fortunes. · The time and other circumstances of his death are unknown; though it is certain he lived to the age of nearly ninety years, and probably died but a short time before the close of the 15th century.
His works are numerous, though two only, I
believe, have been printed. 1. His most celebrated production is the De Laudibus Legum · Anglia, before mentioned. It appears from the introduction, that his primary intention in writing this work, was to institute his young master, prince Edward, in the art of government, by instructing him in the laws of his country. He had observed the promising talents of that prince, who was eager to acquire expertness in all military exercises, with a view to accomplish himself for an able commander. He thought it of importance, therefore, to mingle with these laudable propensities, impressions of a different description, but of no less importance to a monarch. He was anxious to instil into his mind, just notions of the constitution of his country, and to inspire him with reverence for its laws; that (as he said, if Providence should favour his designs, he might govern as a king, and not as a tyrant or conqueror. His honourable solicitude, however, proved fruitless, with respect to the object which called it forth; the young prince, not long after, having been inhumanly murdered. But the work itself still remains as a monument of the author's talents, and of his love for his country. This eulogium upon our national laws, though received with high commendation by the professional men to whom it was communicated, was not published till the reign of Henry VIII. Several impressions have since appeared, with different titles. But the best editions are those in folio, Lond. 1732; and 1741, with a copious preface, annotations, and an accurate index,
2. “The difference between an absolute and limited Monarchy, as it more particularly regards the English Constitution ; being a Treatise written by Sir John Fortescue, Kt. Lord Chief Justice and Lord High Chancellor of England, under King Henry VI.; faithfully transcribed from the MS. copy in the Bodleian Library, and collated with three other MSS. Published with some Remarks, by John Fortesque Aland, of the Inner Temple, Esq. F.R.S. Lond. 1714, 8vo.”
The different effects resulting from an absolute and limited monarchy, which the author stiles Jus Regale and Jus Politicum et Regale, is well illustrated by the difference of condition in the people of France a'id of England at the period of his writing.
Chap. iii. And how so be it? that the French king reigneth upon his people dominio regali ; yet St. Lewis, sometime king there, ne any of his progenitors set never talys?, or other impositions upon the people of that land, without the assent of the three estates, which, when they may be assembled, are like to the court of parļiament in England. And this order kept many of his successors till late days, that Englishmen made such a war in France, that the three estates durst not come together. And then for that cause, and for great necessity which the French king had of goods, for the defence of that land, he took upon him to set talys and other impositions upon the commons, without the assent of the three estates ; but yet he would not set any such charges, nor hath set upon the nobles, for fear of rebellion. And because the commons, though they have grudged, have not rebelled, nor be hardy to rebel, the French kings have yearly sithen set such charges upon them, and so augmented the same charges, as the same commons be so impoverished and destroyed, that they may una neth live. They drink water, they eat apples, with bread right brown, made of rye. They eat no flesh, but if it be selden', a little lard, or of the entrails, or heads of beasts, slain for the nobles and mer
chants of the land. They wear no woollen, but if it be a poor coat, under their uttermost garment, made of great canvass, and passen not their knee. Wherefore, they be gartered and their thighs bare. Their wives and children gone bare-foot; they may in none otherwise live: for some of them, that was wont to pay to his lord for his tenement, which he hireth by the year, a scute', payeth now to the king over that scute, five scutes. Wherethro' they be artyd? by necessity, so to watch, labour, and grub in the ground for their sustenance, that their nature is much wasted, and the kind of them brought to nought. They gone crooked, and are feeble, not able to fight, nor to defend the realm ; nor they have weapon, nor money to buy them weapon withal ; but verily they live in the most extreme poverty and misery; and yet they dwell in one of the most fertile realm of the world. Wherethro the French king hath not men of his own realm, able to defend it, except his nobles, which beryn not such impositions; and therefore, they are right likely of their bodies, by which cause the said king is compelled to make his armies, and and retinues for the defence of his land, of strangers, as Scots, Spaniards, Arragonars“, men of Almayn”, and of other nations ; else, all his enemies might
of the value of 3s. 4d. a French gold coin, the same with their
escuts or ecus d'or, or gold crown piece. * pressed, constrained. 3 bear. Arragonians, 5 Gerniany.