THE TUDOR PERIOD, 1485-1603
[Sidenote: An era of Revolutions]
The historian of the future will, perhaps, affirm that the nineteenth century, with the last years of the eighteenth, has been a period more fraught with momentous events in the development of the nations than any equal period since the Christian era commenced. Yet striking as are the developments witnessed by the last four generations, the years when England was ruled by Princes of the House of Tudor have a history hardly if at all less momentous. For though what we call the Tudor period, from 1485 to 1603, is determined by a merely dynastic title affecting England alone, the reign of that dynasty happens to coincide in point of time with the greatest territorial revolution on record, a religious revolution unparalleled since the rise of Mohammed, and an intellectual activity to match which we must go back to the great days of Hellas, or forward to the nineteenth century: revolutions all of them not specifically English, but affecting immediately every nation in Europe; while one of them extended itself to every continent on the globe. Moreover, the accompanying social revolution, though comparatively superficial, was only a little less marked than the others. Nor was there any country in Europe more influenced by the general Revolution in any one of its aspects than England.
Nihil per saltum is no doubt as true of historical movements as of physical evolution. Before Columbus sighted Hispaniola, Portuguese sailors had told tales of some vast island seen by them far in the west. Botticelli had passed out of Filippo Lippi's school, and Leonardo was thirty, before Raphael was born; the printing press had reached England, and Greek had been re-discovered, in the last years of the previous "period"; the Byzantine Empire had fallen; the power of the old Baronage in England and France had been broken before Richard fell on Bosworth field. There were Lollards at home and Hussites abroad before Luther came into the world. The changes did not begin in 1485, or in any particular year. In Italy the intellectual movement had already long been active, and had indeed produced its best work; outside of Italy, its appearances had been quite sporadic. At that date, the Ocean movement was in its initial stages. There had been foreshadowings of the Reformation; and, to speak metaphorically, the castles which had maintained the power of the nobility, overshadowing the gentry and the burghers, were already in ruins. But the fame of every one of the great English names which are landmarks in every one of these great movements belongs essentially to the years after 1485. And every one of those movements had definitely and decisively set its mark on the world before Elizabeth was laid in her grave.
[Sidenote: The Intellectual Movement]
The intellectual movement to which we apply the name Renaissance in its narrower sense [Footnote: In the more inclusive sense the Renaissance of course began in the time of Cimabue and Dante, but it was not till the latter half of the fifteenth century that it became a pervading force outside of Italy.] has many aspects....