CHAPTER I. RELIGIOUS CONDITION OF ENGLAND BEFORE THE REFORMATION

  Wilkins, Concilia Magnae Britanniae, iii., 1737. Historia Regis 
  Henrici Septimi a Bernardo Andrea Thosolate
 (André of Toulouse), 
  edited by J. Gairdner, 1858. Capella-Sneyd, A Relation or True 
  Account of the Isle of England ... under Henry VII.
 (written by 
  Capella, the Venetian Ambassador, 1496-1502, and edited by C. A. 
  Sneyd, 1847). A London Chronicle during the reigns of Henry VII. 
  and Henry VIII.
 (Camden Miscellany, vol. iv., 1859). Sir Thomas 
  More's Utopia (written 1516, edited by E. Arber, 1869). More's 
  English works, edited by William Rastell, 1557. Bridgett, Life 
  and Writings of Sir Thomas More
, 1891. Busch-Todd, England under 
  the Tudors
, 1892-95. Gasquet, The Eve of the Reformation , 1900; 
  Henry VIII. and the English Monasteries, 1888; The Old English 
  Bible
, etc., 1897; The Great Pestilence, 1893; Parish Life in 
  Mediaeval England
, 1906; English Monastic Life, 1904. Capes, A 
  History of the English Church in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth 
  Centuries
, 1909. Seebohm, Oxford Reformers (3rd edition), 1877. 
  Stone, Reformation and Renaissance Studies, 1904. Gairdner, 
  Lollardy and the Reformation, vol. i., 1908. Lilly, Renaissance 
  Types
, 1901. Bridgett, History of the Holy Eucharist in Great 
  Britain
 (new edition, 1908). Rivington, Rome and England , 1897. 
  Lingard, History of England, 10 vols., 1849. Hunt-Poole, 
  Political History of England, v., 1910. Cambridge Modern 
  History
, vol. i., 1902.

With the advent of Henry VII. to the throne (1485) a new era opened in the history of England. The English nation, weakened by the Wars of the Roses and tired of a contest that possessed little interest for the masses, was not unwilling to submit itself without reserve to the guidance of a strong ruler provided he could guarantee peace both at home and abroad. Practically speaking, hitherto absolutism had been unknown. The rights that had been won by the barons on the plains of Runnymede were guarded jealously by their descendants, and as a result the power of the king, more especially in regard to taxation, was hedged round by several restrictions. But during the long struggle between the houses of Lancaster and York many of the great feudal barons had fallen on the field of battle or by the hands of the executioner, and the power of the nobles as a body had been undermined. While the Lords could muster their own retainers under their standard and put into the field a strong army almost at a moment's notice, it was impossible for the sovereign to rule as an absolute monarch. It was because he recognised this fact that Henry VII. took steps to enforce the Statute of Liveries passed by one of his predecessors, and to provide that armies could be levied only in the king's name.