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length to see the reign of Louis the Eleventh; to see her General Estates first become useless, and be afterwards abolished.
It was the destiny of Spain also to behold her several kingdoms united under one head; -she was fated to be in time ruled by Ferdinand and Charles the Fifth. *
And Germany, where an elective crown prevented the reunions, † was indeed to acquire a few free
• Spain was originally divided into twelve kingdoms, besides principalities, which, by treaties, and especially by conquests, were collected into three kingdoms; those of Castile, Arragon, and Granada. Ferdinand the Fifth, king of Arragon, married Isabella, queen of Castile; they made a joint conquest of the kingdom of Granada; and these three kingdoms, thus united, descended, in 1516, to their grandson Charles V., and formed the Spanish monarchy. At this æra, the kings of Spain began to be absolute; and the States of the kingdoms of Castile and Leon, “ assembled at Toledo, in the month of November, “ 1539, were the last in which the three orders met ; that “ is, the grandees, the ecclesiastics, and the deputies of “ the towns.” See the History of Spain, by Ferreras.
+ The kingdom of France, as it stood under Hugh Capet and his next successors, may, with a great degree of exactness, be compared with the German empire; but the imperial crown of Germany having, through a conjunction of circumstances, continued elective, the emperors, though vested with more high-sounding preroga tives than even the kings of France, laboured under very essential disadvantages : they could not pursue a plan of
cities ; but her people parcelled into so many different dominions, were destined to remain subject to the arbitrary yoke of such of her different sovereigns as should be able to maintain their power and independence. In a word, the feudal tyranny which overspread the continent did not compensate, by any preparation of distant advantages, the present calamities it caused ; nor was it to leave behind it, as it disappeared, any thing but a more regular kind of despotism.
But in England, the same feudal system, after having suddenly broken in like a flood, had deposited, and still continued to deposit, the noble seeds of the spirit of liberty, union, and sober resistance. So early as the time of Edward the tide was seen gradually to subside: the laws which protect the person and property of the individual began to make their appearance; that admirable constitution, the result of a threefold power, insensibly arose ; aggrandizement with the same steadiness as a line of hereditary sovereigns usually do; and the right to elect them, enjoyed by the greater princes of Germany, procured a sufficient power to these, to protect themselves, as well as the inferior lords, against the power of the crown.
• “Now, in my opinion,” says Philippe de Comines, in times not much posterior to those of Edward the First,
and the eye might even then discover the verdant summits of that fortunate region that was destined to be the seat of philosophy and liberty, which are inseparable companions:
The Subject continued.
The representatives of the nation, and of the whole nation, were now admitted into parliament: the great point therefore was gained, that was one day to procure them the great influence which they at present possess ; and the subsequent reigns afford continual instances of its successive growth.
Under Edward the Second, the commons began to annex petitions to the bills by which they granted subsidies; this was the dawn of their legislative authority.
Under Edward the Third, they declared they would not in future acknowledge any law to
and with the simplicity of the language of his times, “among all the sovereignties I know in the world, that “ in which the public good is best attended to, and the “ least violence exercised on the people, is that of Eng. « land." Mémoires de Comines, livre v. chap. xviii.
which they had not expressly assented. Soon after this, they exerted a privilege, in which consists, at this time, one of the great balances of the constitution : they impeached, and procured to be condemned, some of the first ministers of state. Under Henry the Fourth, they refused to grant subsidies before an answer had been given to their petitions. In a word, every event of any consequence was attended with an increase of the power of the commons ;-increases indeed but slow and gradual, but which were peaceably and legally effected, and were the more fit to engage the attention of the people, and coalesce with the ancient principles of the constitution.
Under Henry the Fifth, the nation was entirely taken up with its wars against France; and in the reign of Henry the Sixth began the fatal contests between the houses of York and Lancaster. The noise of arms alone was now to be heard : during the silence of the laws already in being, no thought was had of enacting new ones : and for thirty years together England presents a wide scene of slaughter and desolation.
At length, under llenry the Seventh, who, by his intermarriage with the house of York, united the pretensions of the two families, a
general peace was re-established, and the prospect of happier days seemed to open on the nation. But the long and violent agitation under which it had laboured was to be followed by a long and painful recovery. Henry, mounting the throne with sword in hand, and in great measure as a conqueror, had promises to fulól, as well as injuries to avenge. In the mean time, the people, wearied out by the calamities they had undergone, and longing only for repose, abhorred even the idea of resistance ; so that the remains of an almost exterminated nobility beheld themselves left defenceless, and abandoned to the mercy of the sovereign.
The commons, on the other hand, accustomed to act only a second part in public affairs, and finding themselves bereft of those who had hitherto been their leaders, were more than ever afraid to form, of themselves, an opposition. Placed immediately, as well as the lords, under the eye of the king, they beheld themselves exposed to the same dangers. Like them, therefore, they purchased their personal security at the expense of public liberty; and in reading the history of the two first kings of the house of Tudor, we imagine ourselves