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1547. State of the regency.

CHA r. projected to reign even after his decease; and he XXXIV. imagined, that his minifters, who had always been fo obfequious to him during his life-time, would never afterwards depart from the plan, which he had traced out to them. He fixed the majority of the prince at the completion of his eighteenth year; and as Edward was then only a few months paft nine, he appointed fixteen executors; to whom, during the minority, he intrusted the government of the king and kingdom. Their names were, Cranmer, archbishop of Canterbury; lord Wriothesely, chancellor; lord St. John, great mafter; lord Ruffel, privy feal; the earl of Hertford, chamberlain; viscount Lifle, admiral; Tonftal, bishop of Durham; Sir Anthony Brown, master of horfe; Sir William Paget, fecretary of ftate; Sir Edward North, chancellor of the court of augmentations; Sir Edward Montague, chief juftice of the common pleas; judge Bromley, Sir Anthony Denny, and Sir William Herbert, chief gentlemen of the privy chamber; Sir Edward Wotton, treafurer of Calais; Dr. Wotton, dean of Canterbury. To thefe executors, with whom was intrufted the whole regal authority, were appointed twelve counsellors, who poffeffed no immediate power, and could only affist with their advice, when any affair was laid before them. The council was compofed of the earls of Arundel and Effex; Sir Thomas Cheyney, treasurer of the household; Sir John Gage, comptroller; Sir Anthony Wingfield, vicc.

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1547.

chamberlain; Sir William Petre, fecretary of ftate; c H A P, Sir Richard Rich, Sir John Baker, Sir Ralph xxxiv. Sadler, Sir Thomas Seymour, Sir Richard Southwel, and Sir Edmund Peckham. The ufual caprice of Henry appears fomewhat in this nomination; while he appointed feveral perfons of inferior station among his executors, and gave only the place of counsellor to a perfon of fuch high rank as the earl of Arundel, and to Sir Thomas Seymour the king's uncle.

gency.

BUT the first act of the executors and counfellors Innovations was to depart from the deftination of the late in the re king in a material article. No fooner were they met, than it was fuggefted, that the government would loofe its dignity, for want of fome head, who might reprefent the royal majefty, who might receive addreffes from foreign ambaffadors, to whom difpatches from English ministers abroad might be carried, and whofe name might be employed in all orders and proclamations: And as the king's will feemed to labor under a defect in this particular, it was deemed neceffary to fupply it, by chufing a protector; who, though he fhould poffefs all the exterior fymbols of royal dignity, fhould yet be bound, in every act of power, to follow the opinion of the executors'. This propofal was very difagreeable to chancellor Wriothefely. That magiftrate, a man of an active

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HAP. fpirit and high ambition, found himself, by his XXXIV. office, entitled to the first rank in the regency 1547. after the primate; and as he knew, that this prelate had no talent or inclination for ftate affairs, he hoped, that the direction of public business would of course devolve in a great measure upon himself. He oppofed, therefore, the propofal of chufing a protector; and reprefented that innovation as an infringement of the late king's will, which, being corroborated by act of parliament, ought in every thing to be a law to them, and could not be altered but by the fame authority, which had established it. But he feems to have stood alone in the oppofition. The executors and counsellors were moftly courtiers, who had been raised by Henry's favor, not men of high birth or great hereditary influence; and as they had been fufficiently accuftomed to fubmiffion during the reign of the late monarch, and had no pretenfions to govern the nation by their own authority, they acquiefced the more willingly in a proposal, which feemed calculated for preferving public peace and tranquillity. It being therefore agreed to name a protector, the choice fell of courfe on the earl of Hertford, who, as he was the king's maternal uncle, was ftrongly interested in his fafety; and poffeffing no claims to inherit the crown, could never have any feparate intereft, which might lead him to endanger Edward's person or his authority'. The public was informed by

Hertford protector.

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proclamation of this change in the adminiftration; CHA P. and difpatches were fent to all foreign courts to give xxxiv. them intimation of it. All those who were 2547. poffeffed of any office refigned their former commiffions, and accepted new ones in the name. of the young king. The bishops themselves were constrained to make a like fubmiffion. Care was taken to infert in their new commiffions, that they held their office during pleasure And it is there expressly affirmed, that all manner of authority and jurifdiction, as well ecclefiaftical as civil, is originally derived from the crown '.

THE executors, in their next measure, fhowed a more fubmiffive deference to Henry's will; because many of them found their account in it. The late king had intended, before his death, to make a new creation of nobility, in order to fupply the place of those peerages, which had fallen by former attainders, or the failure of iffue; and that he might enable the new peers to fupport their dignity, he had refolved, either to bestow eftates on them, or advance them to higher offices. He had even gone fo far as to inform them of this refolution, and in his will, he charged his executors to make good all his promifes. That they might afcertain his intentions in the most authentic manner, Sir William Paget, Sir Anthony Denny, and Sir William Herbert, with whom

4

Collier, vol. ii. p. 218. Burnet, vol. ii. p. 6. Strype's Mem. of Cranm. p. 141. Strype's Mem. of Cranm..

P. 141.

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Fuller, Heylin, and Rymer.

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XXXIV.

1547.

17th Feb.

CHAP. Henry had always converfed in a familiar manner, were called before the board of regency; and having given evidence of what they knew concerning the king's promifes, their teftimony was relied on, and the executors proceeded to the fulfilling of thefe engagements. Hertford was created duke of Somerset, marefchal and lord treasurer; Wriothefely, earl of Southampton; the earl of Effex, marquis of Northampton; viscount Lifle, earl of Warwic; Sir Thomas Seymour, lord Seymour of Sudley, and admiral; Sir Richard Rich, Sir William Willoughby, Sir Edward Sheffield accepted the title of Baron'. Several to whom the fame dignity was offered, refused it; because the other part of the king's promise, the bestowing of estates on these new noblemen, was deferred till a more convenient opportunity. Some of them, however, as alfo Somerset the protector, were, in the mean time, endowed with spiritual preferments, deanries and prebends. For among many other invafions of ecclefiaftical privileges and property, this irregular practice, of bestowing fpiritual benefices on laymen, began now to prevail.

The earl of Southampton had always been engaged in an oppofite party to Somerfet; and it was not likely that factions, which had fecretly prevailed, even during the arbitrary reign of Henry, fhould be fuppreffed in the weak adminiftration, that ufually attends a minority. The

7 Stowe's Annals, p. 594.

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