It is perhaps a matter rather for regret than for surprise that so few attempts have been made to describe, as a whole, the life and character of Henry VIII. No ruler has left a deeper impress on the history of his country, or done work which has been the subject of more keen and lasting contention. Courts of law are still debating the intention of statutes, the tenor of which he dictated; and the moral, political, and religious, are as much in dispute as the legal, results of his reign.
struggle between Church and State, in which kings and (p. 003) emperors had bitten the dust. With every epithet of contumely and scorn he trampled under foot the jurisdiction of him who was believed to hold the keys of heaven and hell. Borrowing in practice the old maxim of Roman law, cujus regio, ejus religio, he placed himself in the seat of authority in religion and presumed to define the faith of which Leo had styled him defender. Others have made themselves despots by their mastery of many legions, through the agency of a secret police, or by means of an organised bureaucracy. Yet Henry's standing army consisted of a few gentlemen pensioners and yeomen of the guard; he had neither secret police nor organised bureaucracy. Even then Englishmen boasted that they were not slaves like the French, and foreigners pointed a finger of scorn at their turbulence. Had they not permanently or temporarily deprived of power nearly half their kings who had reigned since William the Conqueror? Yet Henry
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