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2. A large number of the nobles were slain.

3. The people were heavily taxed.

The common people gained in power because, first, the use of gunpowder made knighthood of decreasing value; and, secondly, the money needed for this warfare could be obtained only by vote of the House of Commons.

From the common folk came the most interesting literature of the time, the ballads. They have no introduction; they are definite; their metre is usually 4, 3, 4, 3; they generally show a Celtic touch. A ballad is often the work of many hands.

The miracle plays were at their best. They were acted first by the clergy; then by members of guilds. They were followed by the moralities, of which Everyman is the best example.

Toward the end of the century, there were two notable events which aroused and stimulated the people. They

were:

1. The introduction of printing into England by William Caxton, followed by a decrease in the price of books and a much more general circulation of them.

2. Foreign discoveries by Columbus, Da Gama, the Cabots, and others.

The distinguishing mark of the age was the increasing importance of the common people.

CHAPTER V

CENTURY XVI

SHAKESPEARE'S CENTURY

39. Revival of learning in Europe. For three hundred years after the Norman Conquest, English writers were inclined to follow French models. Then came Chaucer, who, thoroughly English as he was, retold Italian stories, and was for some years greatly influenced by Italian literature. Italy was looked upon as ary position the land of knowledge and light, and it was the custom for Englishmen who wished for better educational advantages than Oxford or Cambridge could afford, to go to that country to study in some one of the great universities.

The liter

of Italy.

The Re

Italian scholars were deeply interested in the writings of the Greeks and Romans. For many years they had been collecting ancient manuscripts, and in naissance. 1453 an event occurred which brought more of them to Italy than ever before. This event was the capture of Constantinople by the Turks. Constantinople had been the home of many Greek scholars, who now fled to Italy and brought the priceless manuscripts with them. Then there was study of the classics indeed. More and more students went from other countries to Italy. More and more copies of those manuscripts were carried to different parts of Europe. Among the ancient writings was clear, concise prose, so carefully finished that every word seemed to be in its own

proper niche; there were beautiful epics and much other poetry; there were essays, histories, biographies, and orations. Printing had come at just the right time to spread this new ancient knowledge over the Continent and England. All western Europe was aroused. People felt a new sense of boldness and freedom. They felt as if in the years gone by they had been slow and stupid. Now they became daring and fearless in their thought. They were eager to learn, to do, to understand. This movement was so marked that a name was given to it, the Renaissance, or new birth, for people felt as if a new life had come to them. The Renaissance did not affect all countries alike. In Italy, the minds of men turned toward sculpture and painting; in Germany, to a bold investigation of religious teachings; in England, toward religion and literature.

of the

A second influence that helped to arouse and inspire was the increased knowledge of the western Increased world. Columbus died in 1506, but now that knowledge the way had been pointed out, one explorer western after another crossed the western seas. South continent. America was rounded and found to be a vast continent. North America was a group of islands, people thought; and men set out boldly to find a channel through them, to discover a "Northwest Passage." Finally, Magellan's ship went around the world; and, behold, the world. was much larger than had been supposed. Before the wonder of this had faded from the minds of men, there came another amazing discovery, for Coperni- The teachcus declared, "The earth is not the centre of ings of Copernicus. the universe; it is only a satellite of the sun." This was not accepted at once as truth, but the mere suggestion of it broadened men's thoughts. There was good reason why the world should begin to awake.

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40. Henry VIII and the men about him. The influence of the Renaissance was not strongly felt in England before the time of Henry VIII, who came to the throne in 1509. Around him centred the literature of the early part of the century. attempted verse more than once. Company is ascribed to him.

Indeed, he himself Pastime with Good

Pastime with good company

I love, and shall until I die,
Gruche so will,' but none deny,
So God be pleased, so live will I.
For my pastance,2

Hunt, sing, and dance,

My heart is sett;

All goodly sport

To my comfort,

Who shall me let? 3

Henry VIII was no great poet, but he liked literaJohn Skel- ture, and he liked to appear as its patron. His early tutor was one of the most prominent literary men of the day, the poet John Skelton. Skelton says:

ton, about 1460-1529.

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The honor of Englond I lernyd to spelle
In dygnite roialle that doth excelle.

Skelton was a fine classical scholar, and was perfectly able to write smooth, easily flowing verses, but he deliberately chose a rough, tumbling, headlong metre. He hated Cardinal Wolsey, and of him he wrote:

So he dothe vndermynde,

And suche sleyghtes dothe fynde,
That the Kynges mynde

By hym is subuerted,

And so streatly coarted

I

grudge whoso will.

2 pastime.

3 hinder.

In credensynge his tales,
That all is but nutshales
That any other sayth:

He hath in him suche fayth.

Little wonder is it that Wolsey cordially returned the poet's dislike.

This harsh, scrambling metre

adapt to more poetical thoughts.

Skelton knew how to

His best known poem

is on "Phyllyp Sparowe," the pet bird of a young schoolgirl. It is of the mistress that he writes:

Soft and make no din,

For now I will begin
To have in remembrance
Her goodly dalliance
And her goodly pastaunce
So sad and so demure,
Behaving her so sure,
With words of pleasure
She would make to the lure
And any man convert

To give her his whole heart.

Skelton was a witty man, and many of the "good stories" of his day were ascribed to him. It Influence is easy to see how Henry VIII would be in- of Skelton. fluenced even as a child by the careless boldness, poetical ability, and rollicking good nature of this man who was as brilliant as he was learned. No one knows how much of Henry's interest in poetry was due to the guidance of his tutor. Elizabeth closely resembled her father, and must have been influenced by his love of literature. It may be that we owe some generous part of the literary glory of the Elizabethan age to the half-forgotten John Skelton with his "jagged" rhymes.

41. Sir Thomas More, 1480-1535. Another friend of Henry VIII was Sir Thomas More. Sir Thomas

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