To appreciate the motives which led Henry VIII to attach such importance to a male heir, and to exclude his daughter by the Spanish marriage from the succession, we need only cast our eyes on what happened under her, when in spite of all she had become Queen. The idea with which the Tudors had ascended the throne, and administered the realm, that of founding a political power strong in itself and alike independent of home factions and foreign influence, was sacrificed by Mary to her preference for the nation from which her mother came and from which she chose her husband. The military power of England served to support the Spanish monarchy at a dangerous and doubtful moment in the course of its formation. And while Mary's father and brother had made it the object of their policy to deprive the hierarchy of all influence over England, she on the contrary reinstated it: she put the power and all the resources of the State at its disposal. Though historically deeply rooted, the Catholic tendency showed itself, through the reactionary rule which it brought about and through its alliance with the policy of Spain, pernicious to the country. We have seen what losses England suffered by it, not merely in its foreign possessions, but—what was really irreparable—in men of talent and learning, of feeling and greatness of soul; and into what a state of weakness abroad and dissolution at home it thereby fell. A new order of things must arise, if the national element, the creation of which had been the labour of centuries, was not to be crushed, and the mighty efforts of later ages were not to succumb to religious and political reaction.
During Mary's government, which had been endurable only because men foresaw its speedy end, all eyes were directed to her younger sister Elizabeth. She was the daughter of Anne Boleyn, who bore her under her heart when she was crowned as Queen. After many changes, Henry VIII, in agreement with Parliament, had recognised her right of inheritance; the people had risen against the enterprise of the Duke of Northumberland? for her as well as for Mary. And it had also been maintained against Mary herself. Once, in Wyatt's? conspiracy, letters were found, which pointed at Elizabeth's having a share in it: she was designated in them as the future Queen. The predominant Spanish-Catholic party had her examined and would have much wished to find her guilty, in order to rid themselves of her for ever. But Elizabeth was not so imprudent as to lend her hand to a movement, which if unsuccessful—a result not hard to foresee—must destroy her own good title. And moreover she, with her innate pride, could not possibly have carried out the wishes of the French by marrying Courtenay?, whom her sister had rejected. The letter, which she wrote to Mary at this crisis, is full of unfeignedly loyal submission to her Queen, before whom she only wishes to bend her knee, to pray her not to let herself be prejudiced by false charges against her sister; and yet at the same time it is highminded and great in the consciousness of innocence. Mary, who was now no longer her friend, did not vouchsafe her a hearing, but sent her to the Tower and subjected her to a criminal examination. But however zealously they sought for proofs against her, yet they found none: and they dared not touch her life unless she were first publicly found guilty. She was clearly the heiress to the throne appointed under the authorisation of Parliament: the people would not give up the prospects of the future which were linked with her. When she appeared in London at this moment of peril, surrounded by numerous attendants, in an open litter, with an expression in which hopeful buoyant youth mingled with the feeling of innocence and distress, pale and proud, she swayed the masses that crowded round her with no doubtful sympathy1. When she passed through the streets after her liberation, she was received with an enthusiasm which made the Queen jealous on her throne.
Yet Elizabeth was not merely the head of the popular opposition to her sister's policy: from the first moment onwards she was in collision with another female foe, whose pretensions would determine the relations of her life. If Henry VIII formerly in settling the succession passed over in silence the rights of his married sister? in Scotland, which had now come to her granddaughter Mary Stuart?, the memory of them was now all the more vividly revived by the Catholic party in the country. For with the religious reverence which men devoted to the Papacy it was not at all possible to reconcile the recognition of Elizabeth, whose very existence was as it were at variance with it. Nor was a political motive for preferring Mary Stuart wanting. That for which Henry VIII and Somerset had striven so zealously, the union of England and Scotland, would be thus attained at once. They were not afraid that Scotland might thus become predominant; Henry VII at the conclusion of the marriage, having his attention drawn to this possible risk, replied with the maxim, that the larger and more powerful part always draws the smaller after it. The indispensable condition for the development of the English power lay in the union of the whole island: this would have ensued in a Catholic, not in a Protestant, sense. Was not this union of political advantage and religious concord likely to influence the Privy Council of England, which under Mary was again zealously Catholic, and also to influence Queen Mary Tudor herself?
Great political questions however do not usually present themselves to men in such perfect clearness, but are seen under the modifying circumstances of the moment. It was at that time all important that Mary Stuart had married the Dauphin: she would have united England not merely with Scotland, but at the same time with France, thus bringing it for ever under the influence of that country. How revolting must such a prospect have been to all English feeling! England would have become a transmarine province of France, it would in time have been absorbed like Brittany. Above all, French policy would have completely gained the upper hand in Europe. This apprehension induced the Spanish statesmen—Elizabeth's eager enemies as long as they expected their King to have issue of Mary Tudor—when this hope failed, to give the princess sympathy and attention. Philip II?, when her troubles revived (for both Gardiner? and Pole? were her enemies), informed her through secret messengers, that he was her good friend and would not abandon her. Now that Mary was failing before all men's eyes, and every one was looking forward to her death, it was his evident interest to further Elizabeth's accession. In this sense spoke his ambassador Feria?, whom he sent at this moment to England, before the assembled Privy Council2; even Mary was urged to declare herself to the same effect. From an advice written for Elizabeth during the first moments of her reign we see that all still looked very dangerous: she was urged in it to possess herself of the Tower and there to receive the allegiance of the high officers of State, to allow no departure from the English ports, and so on. Men expected turbulent movements at home, and were not without apprehension of an attempt at invasion from France. The decision however followed without any commotion and on the spot. Though most of its members were Catholic, the Privy Council did not hesitate. A few hours after Mary's decease the Commons were summoned to the Upper House, to receive a communication there: it was, that Mary was dead, and that God had given them another Queen, My lady Elizabeth. The Parliament dissolved; the new Queen was proclaimed in Westminster and in London. Some days afterwards she made her entry into the capital amidst the indescribable rejoicings of the people, who greeted her accession as their deliverance and their salvation.
But if this, as we see, involved in its very essence a hostile attitude towards France and Scotland, on the other hand the question was at once laid before the Queen, and in the most personal way imaginable, how far she would unite herself with Spain, the great Power which was now on her side. Philip resolved, inasmuch as propriety in some measure allowed it, to ask for her hand—not indeed from personal inclination, of which there is no trace, but from policy and perhaps from religion: he hoped by this means to keep England firm to the Spanish alliance and to Catholicism3. And on the English side also much might be said for it. An ally was needed against France, even to obtain a tolerable peace: there was some danger that Philip, if rejected by the Queen, might perhaps marry a French princess; to be secure against the French claims the Queen seemed to need the support of Spain. Her first answer was not in the negative. She declared she must consult with Parliament as to the King's proposal: but he might be assured that, if she ever married, she would not give any one else the preference over him.
Well considered, these words announce at once her resolution not to marry. Between Mary Tudor who thought to bring the crown to the heir of Spain, and Mary Stuart similarly pledged to the heir of France, nothing was left for her—since she would not wish the husband of her choice to be of inferior rank—but to remain unmarried. From listening to Philip's wooing she was kept back by her sister's example, whose marriage had destroyed her popularity. And for Elizabeth there would have been yet another danger in this alliance. Was not her legitimacy dependent on the invalidity of her father's marriage with his brother's widow? It would be a very similar case if she were to marry her sister's husband. Besides she would have needed the Pope's dispensation for such a union—as Philip had already explained to her—while her birth and crown were the results of a Papal dispensation being declared a nullity. She would thus have fallen into a self-contradiction, to which she must have succumbed in course of time. When told that Philip II had done her some service, she acknowledged it: but when she meditated on it further, she found that neither this sovereign nor any other influence whatever would have protected her from her enemies, had not the people shown her an unlimited devotion4. This devotion, on which her whole existence depended, she would not forfeit. After a little delay she let Philip know that she felt some scruples as to the Papal dispensation. She gave weight to the point which had been under discussion, but added that she was altogether disinclined to marry. We may doubt whether this was her immoveably formed resolution, considering how often afterwards she negociated about her marriage. It might seem to her allowable, as an instrument of policy, to excite hopes which she did not mean to fulfil: or her views may in fact have again wavered: but these oscillations in her statements can mean nothing when set over against a great necessity: her actual conduct shows that she had a vivid insight into it and held firm to it with tenacious resolution. She was Henry's daughter, but she knew how to keep herself as independent as he had thought that only a son could possibly do. There is a deep truth in her phrase, that she is wedded to her people: regard to their interests kept her back from any other union.
But if she resolved to give up the relation of close union in which England had hitherto stood with Spain, it was indispensable to make peace with France. It was impossible to attain this if she insisted on the restoration of Calais; she resolved to give it up, at first for a term of years. Of almost the same date as her answer of refusal to Philip's ambassador is her instruction empowering her ambassador to let Calais go, as soon as he saw that the Spaniards would conclude their peace with France without stipulating for its restoration. She was able to venture this, for however deeply the nation felt the loss of the place, the blame for it could not be imputed to her. Without repeating what was then asserted, that her distinct aim was to turn the hatred of the nation against the late government and its alliance with Spain, we may still allow that this must have been the actual result, as it really proved to be. It was indeed said that Philip II, who not merely concluded peace with France but actually married a daughter of Henry II, would make common cause with him against England: but Elizabeth no more allowed herself to be misled by this possibility, which also had much against it, than Henry VIII had been under similar circumstances. Like him and like the founder of her family, she took up an independent position between the two powers, equally ready according to circumstances for war or peace with one or the other. Meanwhile she had already proceeded to measures which could never have been reconciled with the Spanish alliance, and to ecclesiastical changes which first gave her position its true character.
Her earliest intimation of again deviating from the Church was given by restoring, like a devoted daughter, her father's monument, which Mary had levelled with the ground. A second soon followed, which at once touched on the chief doctrine in dispute. Before attending a solemn high mass she required the officiating bishop to omit the elevation of the host. As he refused, she left the church at the moment the ceremony was being consummated. To check the religious strife which began to fill the pulpits she forbade preaching, like her predecessors; but she allowed the Sunday Lessons, the Litany, and the Creed to be read in English. Elizabeth had hitherto conformed to the restored Catholic ritual: it could not be quite said that she belonged to either of the existing confessions. She always declared that she had read no controversial writings. But she had occupied herself with the documents of the early Church, with the Greek and Latin Fathers, and was thoroughly convinced that the Romanism of the later centuries had gone far astray from this pattern. She had made up her mind, not as to every point of doctrine, but as to its general direction: she believed too that she was upheld and guarded by God, to carry out this change. 'How wonderful are God's ordinances,' she exclaimed, when she heard that the crown had fallen to her.
What course however was now to be taken was a question which, owing to the antagonism of the factions and the close connexion of all ecclesiastical and political matters, required the most mature consideration.
The Queen was advised simply to revert to Edward VI'S regulations, and to declare all things null and void that had been enacted under Mary, mainly on the ground that they had been enacted in violation of legal forms. A speech was laid before her, in which the validity of the last elections was disputed, since qualified members had been excluded from the sittings of both houses, although they were good Englishmen: the later proclamations of summons were held to be null, because in them the formula 'Supreme Head of the English Church' had been arbitrarily omitted, without a previous resolution of Parliament, though on this title so much depended for the commonwealth and people: but no one could give up a right which concerned a third person or the public interest; through these errors, which Mary had committed in her blindness, all that had then been determined lost its force and authority5. But the Queen and her counsellors did not wish to go so far. They remarked that to declare a Parliament invalid for some errors of form was a step of such consequence as to make the whole government of the nation insecure. But even without this it was not the Queen's purpose merely to revert to the forms which had been adopted under her brother. She did not share all the opinions and doctrines which had then obtained the upper hand: she held far more to ceremonies and outward forms than Edward VI or his counsellors: she wished to avoid a rude antagonism which would have called forth the resistance of the Catholics.
In the Parliament that met immediately after the coronation (which was still celebrated by a Catholic bishop), they began with the question which had most occupied the late assembly, namely, should the Church revenues that had been attached to the crown be restored to it. The Queen's proposal, that they should be left to the crown, was quite the view of the assembly and obtained their full consent.
The Parliamentary form of government however had also the greatest influence on religious affairs. Having risen originally in opposition to Rome, the Parliament, after the vicissitudes of the civil wars, first recovered its full importance when it took the side of the crown in its struggle with the Papacy. It did not so much concern itself with Dogma for its own sake: it had thought it possible to unite the retention of Catholicism with national independence. Under Mary every man had become conscious that this would be impossible. It was just then that the Parliament passed from its previous compliant mood into opposition, which was not yet successful because it was only that of the minority, but which prepared the way for the coming change of tone. It attached itself joyfully to the new Queen, whose birth necessarily made her adopt a policy which took away all apprehensions of a union with the Romish See injurious to the country.
The complete antagonism between the Papal and the Parliamentary powers, of which one had swayed past centuries and the other was to sway the future, is shown by the conduct of the Pope, when Elizabeth announced her accession to him. In his answer he reproached her with it as presumption, reverted to the decision of his predecessors by which she was declared illegitimate, required that the whole matter should be referred to him, and even mentioned England's feudal relation to the Papacy6: but Parliament, which had rejected this claim centuries before, acknowledged Elizabeth as legitimately sprung from the royal blood, and as Queen by the law of God and of the land; they pledged themselves to defend her title and right with their lives and property.
Owing to this the tendencies towards separation from Rome were already sure to gain the superiority: the Catholic members of the Privy Council, to whom Elizabeth owed her first recognition, could not contend effectively against them. But besides this, Elizabeth had joined with them a number of men of her own choice and her own views, who like herself had not openly opposed the existing system, but disapproved it; they were mainly her personal friends, who now took the direction of affairs into their hands; the change which they prepared looked moderate but was decided.
Elizabeth rejected the title of 'Supreme Head of the Church,' because it not merely aroused the aversion of the Catholics, but also gave offence to many zealous Protestants; it made however no essential difference when she replaced it by the formula 'in all causes as well ecclesiastical as civil, supreme.' Parliament declared that the right of visiting and reforming the Church was attached to the crown and could be exercised by it through ecclesiastical commissioners. The clergy, high and low, were to swear to the ecclesiastical supremacy, and abjure all foreign authority and jurisdiction. The punishment for refusing the oath was defined: it was not to be punished with death as under Henry VIII, but with the loss of office and property. All Mary's acts in favour of an independent legislation and jurisdiction of the spiritualty were repealed. The crown appropriated to itself, with consent of Parliament, complete supremacy over the clergy of the land.
The Parliament allowed indeed that it did not belong to it to determine concerning matters really ecclesiastical; but it held itself authorised, much like the Great-Councils of Switzerland, to order a conference of both parties, before which the most pressing questions of the moment, on the power of national Churches, and the nature of the Mass, should be laid.
The Catholic bishops disliked the whole proceeding, as may be imagined, since these points had been so long settled; and they disliked no less the interference of the temporal power, and lastly the presidency of a royal minister, Nicolas Bacon?. They had no mind to commit themselves to an interchange of writings: their declarations by word of mouth were more peremptory than convincing. In general they were not well represented since the deaths of Pole and Gardiner. On the other hand the Protestants, of whom many had become masters of the controverted questions during the exile from which they had now returned, put forward explicit statements which were completely to the point. They laid stress chiefly on the distinction between the universal, truly Catholic, Church and the Romish: they sought to reach firm ground in Christian antiquity prior to the hierarchic centuries. While they claimed a more comprehensive communion than that of Romanism, as that in which true Catholicity exists, they sought at the same time to establish a narrower, national, body which should have the right of independent decision as to ritual. Nearly all depended on the question, how far a country, which forms a separate community and thus has a separate Church, has the right to alter established ceremonies and usages; they deduced such an authority from this fact among others, that the Church in the first centuries was ruled by provincial councils. The project of calling a national council was proposed in Germany but never carried out: in England men considered the idea of a national decree, mainly in reference to ritual, as superior to all others. But we know how much the conception of ritual covered. The question whether Edward VI's Prayer-book should be restored or not, was at the same time decisive as to what doctrinal view should be henceforth followed7.
The Catholic bishops set themselves in vain against the progress of these discussions. They withdrew from the conference: but the Parliament did not let itself be misled by this: it adopted the popular opinion, that they did not know what to answer. At the division in the Upper House they held obstinately fast to their opinion: they were left however, though only by a few votes, in the minority8. The Act of Uniformity passed, by which the Prayer-book, in the form which should be given it by a new revision, was to be universally received from the following Midsummer. The bishops raised an opposition yet once more, at a sitting of the Privy Council, on the ground that the change was against the promises made by Mary to the See of Rome in the name of the crown. Elizabeth answered, her sister had in this exceeded her powers: she herself was free to revert to the example of her earlier predecessors by whom the Papal power was looked on as an usurpation. 'My crown,' she exclaimed, 'is subject only to the King of Kings, and to no one else:' she made use of the words, 'But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.' The Protestant bishops had perished at the stake, but the victory was theirs even in their graves.
The committee of revision consisted of men, who had then saved themselves by flight or by the obscurity of a secluded life. As under Edward men came back to the original tendencies prevalent under Henry VIII, so they now reverted to the settlement under Edward; yet they allowed themselves some alterations, chiefly with the view of making the book acceptable to the Catholics as well. Prayers in which the hostility of decided Protestantism came forward with especial sharpness, for instance that 'against the tyranny of the Bishop of Rome,' were left out. The chief alteration was in the formula of the Lord's Supper. Elizabeth and her divines were not inclined to let this stand as it was read in the second edition of Edward's time, since the mystical act there appeared almost as a mere commemorative repast9. They reverted to a form composed from the monuments of Latin antiquity, from Ambrose? and Gregory?, in which the real presence was maintained; this already existed in the first edition they united with the view of the second. As formerly in the Augsburg confession in Germany, so in England at the last recension of the Common Prayer-book an attempt was made to keep as near as possible to the traditional system. For the Queen this had also a political value: when Philip II sent her a warning, she explained that she was only kept back from joining in the mass by a few points: she too believed in God's presence in the Sacrament10.
She was of a similar mind in reference to other matters also. If at first, under pressure from zealous Protestants who saw in images an occasion for superstition, she ordered their removal, we perceive that in a short time she regretted it, especially as it made a bad impression in Wales and the Northern counties; in her chapel men again saw the cross and the lighted tapers, as before. The marriages entered into by priests had given much offence, and not unjustly, as they were often inferior unions, little honourable to them, and lowering the dignity of their order. Elizabeth would have gladly forbidden them altogether: she contented herself with setting limits to them by ordering that a previous permission should be requisite, but she always disliked them. She felt a natural pleasure in the splendour and order of the existing church service. For the future also the spiritualty were to be bound to appear—in the customary dress—in a manner worthy of God's service, with bent knees and with ceremonious devotion. When they proceeded to revise the confession drawn up by Cranmer, which two years afterwards was raised to a law in the shape of the 'Thirty-nine Articles,' they struck out the places that leant to Zwingli's special view; on the other hand they added some new propositions, which stated the right of the higher powers, and the authority of each kingdom to determine religious usages for itself11.
For in this consisted the essence of the alteration, that the Civil Authority, as it was then composed, decided the church questions that arose, and raised its decision into law.
The Statute was, that no person should hold a public office, whether spiritual or temporal, who did not conform to this law. Thirteen bishops, four-and-twenty deans, eighty rectors of parishes, and most of the heads of colleges resigned. It has been said that this number, about two hundred, is not very considerable, since the English clergy held 9000 benefices and offices; but it comprehended all those who held the government of the church and represented the prevalent opinion in it. The difficulty arose how to replace the bishops in conformity with the principles of the English church constitution as then retained: perhaps the difficulty was intentional. There were however two conforming bishops who had received the laying on of hands according to the Roman ritual, and two others according to the Reformed: these consecrated the new Archbishop of Canterbury. It was objected to this act that none of them was in actual possession of a bishop's see: the Queen declared every defect, whether as to the statutes of the realm or church-usages, since time and circumstances demanded it, to be nullified or supplied. It was enough that, generally speaking, the mystery of the episcopal succession went on without interruption. What was less essential she supplied by the prerogative of the crown, as her grandfather had done once before. The archbishop consecrated was Dr. Parker?, formerly chaplain to Anne Boleyn: a thoroughly worthy man, the father of learned studies on English antiquities, especially on the Anglo-Saxon times. By him the laying on of hands and consecration was bestowed on the other bishops who were now elected: they were called on to uphold at the same time the idea of episcopacy in its primitive import, and the doctrines of the Reformation.
In regard to the election of bishops also Elizabeth went back one step from her brother's system; she gave up the right of appointment, and restored her father's regulations, by which it is true a strong influence was still reserved for the Civil Power. Under her supreme authority she wished to see the spiritual principle recognised as such, and to give it a representation corresponding to its high destiny.
Thus it must needs be. The principle which comes forward for the first time, however strong it may appear, has yet to secure its future: it must struggle with the other elements of the world around it. It will be pressed back, perhaps beaten down: but in the vicissitude of the strife it will develope its inborn strength and establish itself for ever.
An Anglican church,—nationally independent, without giving up its connexion with the reformed churches of the continent, and reformed, without however letting fall the ancient forms of episcopacy,—in accordance with the ideal, as it was originally understood, was at length, after a hard schooling of trials, struggles, and disasters, really set on foot.
But now it is clear how closely such a thoroughgoing alteration affected the political position. Reckoning on the antipathies, which could not but hence arise against Elizabeth in the catholic world, and above all on the consent of the Roman See, the French did not hesitate to openly recognise the claims of the Dauphiness Mary Stuart to the English throne. She was hailed as Queen, when she appeared in public: the Dauphin's heralds bore the united arms of England, Ireland, and Scotland12. And this claim became still more important after the unexpected death of Henry II, when the Dauphin ascended the French throne as Francis II. The Guises, uncles of Mary the new Queen, who saw their own greatness in her success and were the very closest adherents of the church, got into their hands all the powers of government. The danger of their hostility lay above all in this, that the French already exercised a predominant influence over Scotch affairs, and hoped in a short time to become complete masters of that country in the Queen's right. She moreover had already by a formal document transferred to the French royal house an eventual right of inheritance to her crown. But if matters came to this, the old war of England and France would be transferred from the fields of Boulogne and Calais to the Scotch border. An invasion of the English territory from that side was the more dangerous, as the French would have brought thither, according to their custom, German and Swiss troops as well. England had neither fortresses, nor disciplined troops, nor even generals of name, who could face such an invasion. It was truly said, there was not a wall in England strong enough to stand a cannon shot13. How then if a defeat was sustained in the open field? The sympathies of the Catholics would have been aroused for France, and general ruin would have ensued.
It was a fortunate thing for Elizabeth that the King of Spain, after she had taken up a line of conduct so completely counter to his wishes and ideas, did not make common cause with the French as they requested him. But she could not promise herself any help from him. Granvella? told the English as emphatically as possible, that they must provide for themselves. Another Spanish statesman expressed his doubt to them whether they were able to do so: he really thought England would one day become an apple of discord between Spain and France, as Milan then was. It was almost a scoff, to compare the Island that had the power of the sea with an Italian duchy. But from this very moment she was to take a new upward flight. England was again to take her place as a third Power between the two great Powers; the opportunity presented itself to her to begin open war with one of them, without breaking with the other or even being exactly allied with it.
At first it was France that threatened and challenged her.
And to oppose the French, at the point where they might be dangerous, a ready means presented itself; England had but to form an alliance with those who opposed the French interests in Scotland. As these likewise were in opposition to their Queen, it was objected that one sovereign ought not to combine with the subjects of another. Elizabeth's leading statesman, William Cecil?, who stood ever by her side with his counsel in the difficulties of her earlier years, and had guided her steps hitherto, made answer that 'the duty of self preservation required it in this case, since Scotland would else be serviceable to France for war against England.'
Cecil took into his view alike the past and the future. It was France alone, he said, that had prevented the English crown from realising its suzerainty over Scotland: whereas the true interest of Scotland herself lay in her being united with England as one kingdom. This point of view was all the more important, since the religious interest coincided with the political. The Scots, with whom they wished to unite themselves, were Protestants of the most decided kind.
In its earliest period church reform was everywhere introduced or promoted by the temporal governments; in Germany by the government of the Empire, and by the Princes and towns which did not allow the authorisation, once given them through the Empire, to be again withdrawn; in the North by the new dynasties which took the place of the Union-Princes; in Switzerland itself by the Great-Councils which possessed the substance of the republican authority. After manifold struggles and vicissitudes this tendency had at last yet once more established itself in its full force under Queen Elizabeth in England.
But another tendency was also very powerful in the world. In South Europe, France, the Netherlands, and a part of the German territory, the state attached itself to the principles of the old Church. At this very time in Italy and Spain this led to the complete destruction of what was there analogous to the Reformation; it has had more influence on the later circumstances of these countries than it had then. But where the religious change had already obtained a more durable footing, as in France and the Netherlands, politico-religious variances of the most thoroughgoing nature arose almost of necessity: the Protestantism of Western Europe was pervaded by anti-monarchical ideas. We noticed how much everything was preparing for this under Queen Mary in England also: that it did not so happen was owing to the arrangements made by Elizabeth. But this tendency appeared in full force in Scotland, and in fact more strongly there than anywhere else.
In Scotland the efforts made by all the monarchic powers of this period in common were not so successful as in the rest of Europe. The kings of the house of Stuart, who had themselves proceeded from the ranks of the nobility, never succeeded in reducing the powerful lords to real obedience. The clannish national feeling, closely bordering on the old Keltic principle, procured the nobles at all times numerous and devoted followers: they fought out their feuds among themselves, and then combined anew in free confederacies. They held fast to the view that their sovereigns were not lords of the land (for they regarded their possessions as independent properties), not kings of Scotland but kings of the Scots, above all, kings of the great vassals, who had to pay them an obedience defined by laws. It gave the kings not a little superiority that they had obtained a decisive influence over the appointment to the high dignities in the Church, but this proved advantageous neither to the Church nor at last to themselves. Sometimes two vassals actually fought with each other for a rich benefice. The French abuses came into vogue here also: ecclesiastical benefices fell to the dependents of the court, to the younger sons of leading houses, often to their bastards: they were given or sold in commendam, and then served only for pleasure and gain: the Scotch Church fell into an exceedingly scandalous and corrupt state.
It was not so much disputed questions of doctrine as in Germany, nor again the attempt to keep out Papal influellce as in England, but mainly aversion to the moral corruption of the spiritualty which gave the first impulse to the efforts at reformation in Scotland. We find Lollard societies among the Scots much later than in England: their tendencies spread through wide circles owing to the anticlerical spirit of the century, and received fresh support from the doctrinal writings that came over from Germany. But the Scotch clergy was resolved to defend itself with all its might. Sometimes it had to sit in judgment on invectives against its disorderly and luxurious life, sometimes on refusals to pay established dues: or Lutheran doctrines had been preached: it persecuted all with equal severity as tending to injure the stability of holy Church, and awarded the most extreme penalties. To put suspected heretics to death by fire was the order of the day; happy the man who escaped the unrelenting persecution by flight, which was only possible amid great peril.
These two causes, an undeniably corrupt condition and relentless punishment of those who blamed it as it well deserved, gave the Reform movement in Scotland, which was repressed but not stifled, a peculiar character of exasperation and thirst for vengeance.
Nor was it without a political bearing in Scotland as elsewhere. In particular Henry VIII proposed to his nephew, King James V?, to remodel the Church after his example: and a part of the nobility, which was already favourably disposed towards England, would have gladly seen this done. But James preferred the French pattern to the English: he was kept firm in his Catholic and French sympathies by his wife, Mary of Guise?. Hence he became involved in the war with England in which he fell, and after this it occasionally seemed, especially at the time of the invasions by the Duke of Somerset?, as if the English, and in connexion with them the Protestant, sympathies would gain the ascendancy. But national feelings were still stronger than the religious. Exactly because England defended and recommended the religious change it failed to make way in Scotland. Under the regency of the Queen dowager, with some passing fluctuations, the clerical interests on the whole kept the upper hand. In spite of a general sympathy the prospects of Reform were slender. It could not reckon on any quarrel between the government and the higher clergy: foreign affairs rather exercised a hostile influence. It is remarkable how under these unfavourable circumstances the foundation of the Scotch Church was laid.
Most of the Scots who had fled from the country were content to provide for their subsistence in a foreign land and improve their own culture. But there was one among them who did not reconcile himself for one moment to this fate. John Knox? was the first who formed a Protestant congregation in the besieged fortress of S. Andrew's; when the French took the place in 1547 he was made prisoner and condemned to serve in the galleys. But while his feet were in fetters, he uttered his conviction in the fiery preface to a work on Justification, that this doctrine would yet again be preached in his fatherland14. After he was released, he took a zealous share in the labours of the English Reformers under Edward VI, but was not altogether content with the result; after the King's death he had to fly to the continent. He went to Geneva, where he became a student once more and tried to fill up the gaps in his studies, but above all he imbibed, or confirmed his knowledge of, the views which prevailed in that Church. Like the first Reformers of French Switzerland, Knox also lived in the opinion that the Romish service was an idolatry which should be destroyed from off the earth. And he was fully convinced of the dottrine of the independence of the spiritual principle side by side with the State, and believed that the new spiritualty also was authorised to exclude men from the Church, views for which Calvin was at that very time contending. Thus he was equally armed for the struggle against the Papacy and against the temporal power allied with it, when a transient relaxation of ecclesiastical control in Scotland made it possible for him to return thither. In the war between France and Spain the Regent took the side of France: she lighted bonfires to announce the capture of Calais; out of antipathy to Mary Tudor and her Spanish government she allowed the English fugitives to be received in Scotland. Knox himself ventured to return towards the end of 1555: without delay he set his hand to form a church-union, according to his ideas of religious independence, which was not to be again destroyed by any State power.
Among the devout Protestants who gathered together in secret the leading question was, whether it was consistent with conscience to go to mass, as most then did. Knox was not merely against any one doing wrong that good might come of it, but he went on further to restore the interrupted Protestant service of God. Sometimes in one and sometimes in another of the places of refuge which he found he administered the Communion to little congregations according to the Reformed rite; this was done with greater solemnity at Easter 1556 in the house of Lord Erskine of Dun?, one of those Scottish noblemen who had ever promoted literary studies and the religious movement as far as lay in his power. A number of people of consequence from the Mearns (Mearnshire) were present. But they were not content with partaking the Communion; following the mind of their preacher they pledged themselves to avoid every other religious community, and to uphold with all their power the preaching of the Gospel15. In this union we may see the origin of the Scotch Church properly so called. Knox had no doubt that it was perfectly lawful. From the power which the lords possessed in Scotland he concluded that this duty was incumbent on them. For they were not lords for themselves, but in order to protect their subjects and dependents against every violence. From a distance he called on his friends—for he had once more to leave Scotland, since the government recurred to its earlier severity—not again to prefer their own ease to the glory of God, but for very conscience's sake to venture their lives for their oppressed brethren. At Erskine's house met together also Lord Lorn, afterwards Earl of Argyle?, and the Prior of S. Andrews, subsequently Earl of Murray?; in December 1557 Erskine, Lorn, Murray, Glencairn? (also a friend of Knox), and Morton?, united in a solemn engagement, to support God's word and defend his congregation against every evil and tyrannical power even unto death16. When in spite of this another execution took place which excited universal aversion, they proceeded to an express declaration, that they would not suffer any man to be punished for transgressing a clerical law based on human ordinances.
What the influence of England had not been able to effect, was now produced by antipathy to France. The opinion prevailed that the King of France wished to add Scotland to his territories, and that the Regent gave him aid thereto. When she gathered the feudal array on the borders in 1557 (for the Scots had refused to contribute towards enlisting mercenaries) to invade England according to an understanding with the French, the barons held a consultation on the Tweed, in consequence of which they refused their co-operation for this purpose. The matrimonial crown was indeed even afterwards granted to the Dauphin, when he married Mary Stuart17; but thereupon misunderstandings arose with all the more bitterness. Meetings were everywhere held in a spirit hostile to the government.
It was this quarrel of the Regent with the great men of the country that gave an opportunity to the lords who were combined for the support of religion to advance with increasing resolution. Among their proposals there is none weightier than that which they laid before her in March 1559, just when the Regent had gathered around her a numerous ecclesiastical assembly. They demanded that the bishops should be elected for the future by the nobility and gentry of each diocese, the parish clergy by the parishioners, and only those were to be elected who were of 'esteemed life and possessed the requisite capacity: divine service was to be henceforth held in the language of the country. The assembled clergy rejected both demands. They remarked that to set aside the influence of the crown on the elections involved a diminution of its authority which could not be defended, especially during the minority of the sovereign. Only in the customary forms would they allow of any amendments.
But this assembly was not content with rejecting the proposals: they confirmed the usages and services stigmatised by their opponents as superstitious, and forbade the celebration of the sacraments in any other form than that sanctioned by the Church. The royal court at Stirling called a number of preachers to its bar for unauthorised assumption of priestly functions.
The preachers were ready to come: the lords in whose houses they sojourned were security for them. And already they had the popular sympathy as well as aristocratic protection. It was an old custom of the country that, in especially important judicial proceedings, the accused appeared accompanied by his friends. Now therefore the friends of the Reformation assembled in great numbers at Perth from the Mearns, Dundee, and Angus, that, by jointly avowing the doctrines on account of which their spiritual leaders were called to account, their condemnation might be rendered impossible.
As to the Regent we are assured that she was not in general firmer in her leaning towards the hierarchy than other Princes of the time, and had once even entertained the thought that the supreme ecclesiastical power belonged to her18; but, perhaps alarmed by the vehemence of the preachers, she had done nothing to obtain such a power. It now appeared to her that it would be a good plan to check the flow of the masses to the place of trial by some friendly words which she addressed to Erskine of Dun19. The Protestants saw in them the assurance of an interposition in the direction of lenity, and stayed away; but without regard to this and without delay the Justiciary at Stirling, Henry Levingstoune, proceeded to business on the day appointed, 20 May 1559. As the preachers did not appear, those who had become security for them were condemned to a money-fine, while they themselves were denounced as rebels20, as having withdrawn themselves from the royal jurisdiction; an edict followed which pronounced them exiled, and in the severest terms forbade any to give them protection or favour.
The news fell like a spark of fire among the inflammable masses of Protestants assembled at Perth. The sentence promulgated was an open act of hostility against the lords, who felt themselves bound by their word which they had given to the preachers and by their vow to each other. They considered that the Regent's promise had given them a right against her; Lord Erskine, whom the others had warned, declared that he had been deceived by her. While the Regent had prevented a collision between the two parties at Stirling, she had occasioned in one of them, at Perth, the outbreak of a popular storm against the hierarchy of the land, their representatives, and the monuments of their religion. John Knox, who had come, as he said, to be where men were striving against Satan, called on them in a fiery sermon to destroy the images which were the instruments of idolatry. The attempt of a priest, after the sermon, to proceed to high mass and open the tabernacle of the altar, was all that was needed to cause a tumult even in the church itself, in which the images of the saints were destroyed; and the outbreak spreading through the city directed itself against the monasteries and laid them too in ruins. How entirely different is Knox from Luther! The German reformer made all outward change depend on the gradual influence of doctrine, and did not wish to set himself in rebellious opposition to the public order under which he lived. The Scot called on men to destroy whatever contravened his religious ideas. The Lords of the Congregation, who became ever more numerous, declared themselves resolved to do all that God commands in Scripture, and destroy all that tended to dishonour his name. With these objects, and with their co-operation and connivance, the stormy movement once raised surged everywhere further over the country. The monasteries were also destroyed in Stirling, Glasgow, and S. Andrews; the abbeys of Melrose, Dunfermline, and Cambuskenneth fell: and the proud abbey of Scone, an incomparable monument of the hierarchic feeling of earlier ages, was, together with the bishop's palace, levelled to the ground. It may be that the popular fury went far beyond the original intentions of the leaders, but without doubt it was also part of their purpose, to make an end above all of the monasteries and abbeys, from which nothing but resistance could be expected21. It has been regarded even in our days as a measure of prudence, dictated by the circumstances, that they destroyed these monuments, which by their imposing size and the splendour of the service performed in them would have always produced an impression adverse to the Reformation. On the other hand the cathedrals and parish churches were to be preserved, and after being cleansed from images were to be devoted to Protestant worship. Everywhere the church-unions, which were at once formed and organised on Protestant principles, gained the upper hand. The Mass ceased: the Prayer-book of King Edward VI took its place.
So the reformed Scotch Church put itself in possession, in a moment, of the greatest part of the country. It was from the beginning a self-governed establishment: it found support in the union of some lords, whose power likewise rested on independent rights: but it first gained free play when the French policy of the Regent alienated the nobility and the nation from her. On the one side now stood the princess and the clergy, on the other the lords and the preachers. As their proposals were rejected and preparations made to defend the hierarchic system with the power of the State, the opposition also similarly arose, claiming to have an original right: revolt broke out; the church system of the Romish hierarchy was overthrown and a Protestant one put in its place. In the history of Protestantism at large the year 1559 is among the most important. During the very days in which the revised Common Prayer-book was restored in England (so definitely putting an end to the Catholic religion of the realm), the monuments of Roman Catholicism in Scotland were broken in pieces, and the unrevised Common Prayer-book introduced into the churches. But yet how great was the difference! In the one country all was done under the guidance of a Queen to whom the nation adhered, in consequence of Parliamentary enactments, the ancient forms being preserved as far as possible: here the whole transaction was completed in opposition to the Regent, under the guidance of an aristocracy engaged in conflict with her, amidst very great tumult, while all that was ancient was set aside.
At the beginning of July the Scotch lords had become masters of the capital as well, and had reformed it according to their own views, with the most lively sympathy of the citizens. They were resolved to uphold the change of religion now effected, cost what it would, and hoped to do so in a peaceful manner. When Perth again opened her gates to the Regent after the first tumult, under the condition that she should punish no one, she promised at the same time to put off the adjustment of all questions in dispute to the next Parliament. There they intended to carry at once the recognition of the Reformation in its whole breadth, and the removal of the French. We perceive that it was their plan in that case to obey the Regent as before, and to unite the abbey-lands to the possessions of the crown. 'But if your Grace does not agree to this,' so runs the letter of a confederate, 'they are resolved to reject all union with you.'
It was soon shown that the last was the only alternative. The regent collected so many French and Scotch troops that the lords did not venture to stop her return to Edinburgh. They came to an agreement instead, in which she promised to prosecute no member of the Congregation, and especially no preacher, and not to allow the clergy on the ground of their jurisdiction to undertake any annoying proceedings: in return for which the lords on their side pledged themselves not to disturb any of the clergy or destroy any more of the church buildings. It was a truce in which each party, sword in hand, reserved to itself the power of defending its partisans against the other. The two parties encountered in Edinburgh. The inhabitants had called Knox to be their preacher, and when he thought it unsafe to stay in the city after the Congregation withdrew, another champion of the Reformation, Willok?, filled his place with hardly less zeal and success. But on the other side the bishop of Amiens? appeared with some doctors of the Sorbonne at the Regent's court. Here and there the Protestant service was again discarded; the Paris theologians defended the old dogma among the Scotch scholars, and made even now some impression; the mass and the preaching contended with each other. As to the Regent's views there can be no doubt. She drew the attention of the French court to the frequent intercourse between the nobles of Protestant views in France and Scotland, and to the encouragement the Scots had from the French; but she gave the assurance that she would soon finish with the Scots if she received support. Some French companies had just landed at Leith, they had brought with them munitions of war and money: the Regent demanded four companies more, to make up twenty, and perhaps 100 hommes d'armes; if only four French ships were stationed at Leith to keep off foreign assistance, she pledged herself to put down the movement everywhere22
Then the Scots also decided that they must employ their utmost means of resistance. They had framed politico-religious theories, in virtue of which they believed in their right to do so. The substance of the whole is that they acknowledged indeed an obligation on the conscience which required obedience to the sovereign, but at the same time they held that the obligation came to an end as soon as the sovereign contravened the known will of God: an idolatrous sovereign, so said the preachers, could be deposed and punished:—should the supreme Head put off the reform which was required by God's law, the right and the duty of executing it falls on the subordinate authorities.
But the lords claimed also an authority based on the laws of the land. When the French troops began to fortify Leith, they held themselves justified in raising remonstrances against it: they demanded that the Regent should desist from the design. As she replied with a proclamation which sounded very offensive to themselves, they had no scruple in taking up arms. Each noble collected his men round him and appeared at their head in the field. Relying on the fine army which was thus brought together, they repeated their demand, with the remark, that in receiving foreign troops into the harbour-town there was involved a manifest attempt to enslave the land by force: if the Regent would not lend an ear to their remonstrances, they being the hereditary councillors of the crown, they would remember their oath which bound them to provide for the general welfare. The Regent expressed her astonishment to the lords through a herald that there should be any other authority in the realm than that of her daughter, the Queen. She already felt herself strong enough to order them and their troops to disperse, on pain of the punishment appointed for high treason. On this the great men met in the old council-house at Edinburgh, to consider the question whether it was obligatory to pay obedience to a princess, who was but regent, and who disregarded the opinion of the hereditary councillors of the crown. The consultation, at which some preachers supported the views of the lords with similar arguments, ended in the declaration that the Regent no longer possessed an authority which she was using to the damage of the realm. In the name of the King and Queen they announced to her that the commission she had received from them was at an end. 'And as your Grace,' so they continued, 'will not acknowledge us as your councillors, we also will no longer acknowledge you as our regent23.' To this pass matters had now come. The combined interests, on the one side of the crown and the clergy, on the other of the lords and the Protestants, came into open and avowed conflict. The Act of Suspension is but the proclamation of war in a form which would enable them to avoid directly breaking with their duties towards their born prince.
The lords' first enterprise was directed against the French troops which held Leith in their possession, and which were now first of all to be driven out of the country: but the hastily-constructed fortifications there proved stronger than was expected. And not merely were their assaults on Leith repelled, but the Lords soon saw themselves driven from their strongest positions, for instance from Stirling; their possessions were wasted far and wide; the war, which was transferred to Fife, took an unfortunate turn for them; to all appearance they were lost if they did not obtain help from abroad.
But to whom could they apply for it if not to their neighbour, just now rising in power, Elizabeth Queen of England?
They might have hesitated, as they had indeed repelled the influence of Henry VIII and of Somerset, even when it was united with reforming tendencies. But how entirely different were matters now from what they had been then! With their own hands they had already given themselves a Protestant church-system, which was national in a high degree, and somewhat opposite to the English one. So long as it existed, the influence England would gain by giving them help could never become the supremacy, at which it is certain attempts had previously been made.
We know too the objections which were made in England against a union with the Scots. To these were added the Queen's decided antipathies to the new form of church government and to its leaders: she could not bear the mention of Knox's name. But all these considerations disappeared before the pressing danger and the political necessity. In opposition to France, Protestant England and Protestant Scotland, however different the religious and even the political tendencies prevailing in each of them, held out their hands to each other.
Elizabeth had already at an earlier time privately given the Scots some support: the moment at which she gave them decisive assistance is worth noticing.
The Regent's French and Scotch troops were planning an attack on S. Andrews, and had made themselves masters of Dysarts; the lords, again retreating, marched along the coast, and the French were in pursuit when a fleet hove in sight in the distance. The French welcomed it with salvos of cannon, for they had no doubt that it was their own fleet, bringing them help from France, long expected, and now in fact known to be ready. But it soon appeared that they were English vessels, in advance of the larger fleet which had put to sea under Vice-admiral Winter?. Nothing remained for the French, when thus undeceived, but to give up their project and withdraw. But the whole state of things was thus altered. Soon after this the Scots, to whose assistance English troops had also come by land, were able to advance against Leith and resume the suspended siege.
Everything that is to come to pass in the world has its right time and hour. Incredible as it may seem, the champion of the strictest Catholicism, the King of Spain, was at this moment not merely for help being given to the Scots, but pressing for it; his ministers complained not that the Queen interfered, but that she did not do so more quickly. For in the union of Scotland and France, which was already complete in a military sense, they saw a danger for themselves. The enthusiastic Knox, who only lived and moved in religious ideas, was, more than he foresaw, a link in the chain of European affairs. Without the impulse which he gave to the minds of men, that resistance to the Regent, by which a complete union with France was hindered, would have been impossible.
A treaty was made in Berwick between Queen Elizabeth and the Scotch lords, by which they bound themselves to drive the French out of Scotland with their united strength. The lords promised to remain obedient to their Queen, but Elizabeth assented to the additional words, that this was not to be in such cases as might lead to the overthrow of the old Scottish rights and liberties. This was a very comprehensive clause, which placed the further attempts of the Scotch lords against the monarchical power under English protection.
While the siege of Leith was being carried on by land and sea, commissioners from France appeared on the part of Queen Mary Stuart and her husband, as they had now assumed the place of the Regent (who had died in the midst of these troubles), to attempt to bring about an agreement. The chief among them was Monluc, bishop of Valence, a well-meaning and moderate man even in religious matters, who, convinced of the impossibility of carrying on the war any further with success, gave way step by step before the inflexible purpose of the English plenipotentiary, William Cecil. He put his hand to the treaty of Edinburgh, in which the withdrawal of the French troops from Scotland and the destruction of the fortifications of Leith were stipulated for. This satisfied the chief demand of the lords, and at the same time agreed with the wish of the neighbouring Power. The King and Queen of France and Scotland were no longer to bear the title and arms of England and Ireland. For Scotland a provisional government was arranged on the basis of election by the Estates; it was settled that for the future also the Queen and King should decide on war and peace only by their advice. It is easy to see how much a limitation of the Scotch crown was connected with the interests of the Power that was injured by its union with the crown of France.
Religion was not expressly mentioned; Queen Elizabeth had purposely avoided it. But when the Scotch Parliament, to which the adjustment of the matters in dispute was once more referred in the treaty of Edinburgh, now met, nothing else could be expected than what in fact happened. The Protestant Confession was accepted almost without opposition, the bishops' jurisdiction declared to be abolished according to the view of the confederate lords, the celebration of the Mass not only forbidden, but, after the example of Geneva, prohibited under the severest penalties.
How mightily had the self-governing church-society, founded three years and a half before in the castle at Dun, secured its foothold! By its union with the claims of the aristocracy it had broken up the existing government not merely of the Church but also of the State. It was of unspeakable importance for the subsequent fortunes of England that this vigorous living element had been taken under the protection of the Queen of that country and supported by her.
But at the same time, if we may so say, it complicated her personal relations inextricably.
People were now fully satisfied that they had obtained something great, and had laid a firm foundation for secure relations throughout all future time: but it became clear at once that this was not the case. Francis II? and his wife seemed to have forgotten that they had promised on their royal word, in the instructions to their ambassadors, to accept whatever they should arrange: they refused to ratify the treaty of Edinburgh. For it was really concluded by the Queen of England with men in rebellion against them, by whom it was chiefly subscribed. They regarded it as an insult that the Scots deputed an embassy of great lords to England, whilst the request to confirm all that was arranged in Scotland was laid before them, their Queen and their King, by a gentleman of less distinguished birth. They felt themselves highly injured by a Parliament being called even before they had ratified the treaty, without any authorisation on their side. How were they to accept its resolutions? Francis II on the contrary said, he would prove to the Scots that they had no power to meet together in their own name, just as if they were a republic24. And as little was he inclined to give up the title and arms of England according to the treaty: he said he had hitherto borne them with good right, and saw no reason to give satisfaction to others, before he had received any himself.
Those were the days in which the French government, guided by the Queen's uncles, including the Cardinal of Lorraine?, had considerably repressed the Protestant movements which were stirring in France, had brought the insurgent princes into its power, and was occupied in establishing a strict system of obedience in ecclesiastical and political matters; with kindred aims it sought in Scotland also to revert to its earlier policy; all concessions made to the contrary it ignored. I see here, says the English ambassador Throckmorton?, more intention of vengeance than inclination to peace.
At this juncture occurred the unexpected event which gave French affairs another shape. King Francis II died at the beginning of December 1559 without issue; and the Guises could not maintain the authority they had hitherto possessed. The kingdom which, by the extent and unity of its power, was wont to exercise a dominant influence over all others, fell into religious and political troubles which engrossed and broke up its force.
Elizabeth took some part also in these movements within France itself: it was her natural policy to support the opponents of the Guises, who likewise stood so near her in their religious confession. With their consent she once occupied Havre, but allowed it without much hesitation to fall again into the hands of the French government which was then guided by Catharine Medici?, who for some time even made common cause with the leaders of the Huguenots. We cannot here follow out these relations any further, for to understand them fully would require us to go into the details of the changeful dissensions in France: for English history these are only so far important as they made it impossible for the French to act upon England.
On the other hand the entire sequel of English history turns on the relation to Scotland: Scotch affairs already form a constituent part of the English, and demand our whole attention.
At first sight it would not have seemed so impossible to bring about peace and even friendship between the Queen of Scotland and the Queen of England: for the former was of course no longer bound to the interests of the French crown. But this expectation also proved deceitful. A primary condition would have been the acceptance of the treaty of Edinburgh; Elizabeth demanded this expressly and as if it were obligatory on Mary, who would as little consent to it after, as before, the death of her husband. She ceased to bear the arms of England: all else she deferred till her arrival in Scotland. Immediately on this, at the first step, the mutual antipathy broke out25. In consequence of the refusal to ratify the treaty, Elizabeth declined Mary's request to be allowed to return home through England. Mary regarded this as an insult: it is worth while to hear her words. 'I was once,' so she said, 'brought to France in spite of all the opposition of her brother: I will return to Scotland without her leave. She has combined with my rebellious subjects: but there are also malcontents in England who would listen to a proposal from my side with delight: I am a Queen as well as she, and not altogether friendless, and perhaps I have as great a soul too.'
Few words, but they contain motives of jealousy rising out of the depths of her inmost heart and announce a stormy future. But at first Mary could not give effect to them.
Some Catholic lords did indeed request her to come to them in the northern counties, whence they would escort her to her capital with an armed force. But who could advise her to begin her government with a civil war? She would then have herself driven the Protestant lords over to the side of her foe. But she had connexions with them as well. Their leader, her half-brother James, Prior of S. Andrews, whom she now created Earl of Murray, a man of spirit, energy, and comprehensive views, appeared before her in France; his experience and caution and even the inner tie of blood-relationship always gave him a great influence over her resolutions. He showed her how it was possible to rule Scotland even under existing circumstances, so as to have a tolerable understanding with Elizabeth, but reserving all else for the future. These counsels she followed. Not with Elizabeth's help, but yet without hindrance from her, she arrived at Holyrood in August 1561. Murray succeeded in obtaining, though not without great opposition, and almost by personally keeping off opponents, that she should be allowed to have mass celebrated before her. He took affairs into his own hands; the Protestants had the ascendancy in the country and in the royal council.
Not that Queen Mary by this fully acquiesced in what had happened, or recognised the state of affairs in Scotland. She even now confirmed neither the treaty of Edinburgh, nor the resolutions of Parliament based on it: but in the first place took possession of her throne, reserving her dynastic rights.
A sight without a parallel, these two Queens in Albion, haughty and wondrous creatures of nature and circumstances!
They were both of high mental culture. From Mary we have French poems, of a truth of feeling and a simplicity of language, which were then rare in literature. Her letters are fresh and eloquent effusions of momentary moods and wishes: they impress us even if we know that they are not exactly true. She has pleasure in lively discussion, in which she willingly takes a playful, sometimes a familiar, tone; but always shows herself equal to the subject. From Elizabeth also we have some lines in verse, not exactly of a poetic strain, not very harmonious in expression, but full of high thoughts and resolves. Her letters are skilful but, owing to their allusions and antitheses, far from perspicuous products of reflection, although succinct and rich in matter. She was acquainted with the learned languages, had studied the ancient classics and translated one or two, had read much of the church-fathers: in her expressions there sometimes appears an insight into the inner connexion between history and ideas, which fills us with astonishment. In conversation she tried above all things to produce a sense of her gifts and accomplishments. She shone through a combination of grandeur and condescension which appeared like grace and sweetness, and sometimes awakened a personal homage, for which in the depths of her soul she cherished a longing. She did but toy with such feelings, to Mary they were a reality. Mary possessed that natural power of womanly charm which awakens strong, even if not lasting, passion. Her personal life fluctuates between the wish to find a husband who could advance her interests and those passionate ebullitions by which she is also herself overpowered. This however does not hinder her from devoting all her attention to the business of government. Both Queens work with like zeal in their Privy Council: and they only deliberate with men of intimate trust; the resolutions which are adopted are always their own. Elizabeth yields more to the wisdom of tried councillors, though even these are not sure of her favour for a moment, and have a hard place of it with her. Mary fluctuates between full devotion and passionate hate: she is almost always swayed by an unlimited confidence in the man who meets her wishes. Elizabeth lets things come to her: Mary is ever restless and enterprising26. Elizabeth appeared once in the field, to animate the courage of her troops in a great peril. Mary took a personal share in the local Scottish feuds: she was seen riding at the head of a small feudal army against the enemy, with pistols at her saddle-bow.
But we here discontinue this representation of the antitheses of character between them, which first acquired historical import through the differences of position in which the two sovereigns found themselves.
Elizabeth was mistress of her State, as well in its religious as its political constitution. She had revived the obedience once paid to her father; and remodelled the Church in the decidedly Protestant spirit which corresponded to her personal position; at first every man submitted to the new order of things, though many looked on its growth only with aversion. Mary on the contrary had to accommodate herself to a form of Church, and even of State, government, which was founded in opposition to the right of her predecessors, and above all to her own views. If she ever thought of making her own religion predominant, or of oppressing that which was newly established, open resistance was announced to her in threatening terms by its leader John Knox. However much this reaction against her religious belief straitened her on the one side, yet on another side it opened out to her a wider prospect. She already had numerous personally devoted partisans in Great Britain, both in Scotland where she could yet once more call them together, and in England where she was secretly regarded by not a few as the lawful Queen; but, besides this, she had many in Catholic Europe, which had become reunited during these years (the times when the Council of Trent was drawing to a close) around the Papal authority, and was preparing to bring back those who had fallen away. This great confederacy gave Mary a position which made her capable of confronting a neighbour in herself so much more powerful.
Elizabeth once touched on the old claims of England to supremacy over Scotland: the ambition of all the Scotch kings, to prove to the English that they were independent of them, still lived in Mary: when queen was set over against queen, it took a more sharply-expressed shape; any whisper of subjection seemed to her an outrage.
For the moment Mary had, as before mentioned, given up the title of 'Queen of England': but all her thoughts were directed towards the point of getting her presumptive hereditary right to that kingdom recognised, and of preparing for its realisation at a later time.
But now there were two ways by which she might gain her end. She might either get her claim to the English throne recognised by an agreement with its present possessor, which did not appear so unattainable, as Elizabeth was unmarried, and such a settlement would have been legally valid in England; or she might enter into a dynastic alliance with a neighbouring great power, so as to be enabled to carry her claims into effect one day through its military strength27.
With this last view negociations were during several years carried on for a marriage with Don Carlos? the son of the Spanish King. For in the same proportion that the union of Scotch and French interests dissolved, did the opposite alliance between Spain and England become looser. The most varied reasons made Philip II wish to enter into direct and close relations with Scotland. Immediately after the death of Francis II, a negociation was set on foot with a view to this alliance, on Mary's giving an audience to the Spanish ambassador, to the vexation of Queen Catharine? of France, who wished to see this richest of princes, and the one who seemed destined to the greatest power, reserved for her own youngest daughter. After Mary returned to Scotland similar rumours were renewed, and from time to time we meet with a negociation for this object. When her minister Lethington? was in London in the spring of 1563, he agreed with the Spanish ambassador that this marriage was the only desirable one: it was longed for by all Scotch and English Catholics. Soon afterwards the ambassador sent a young member of the embassy to Scotland, in the deepest secrecy, by a long circuit through Ireland; not without difficulty he obtained an interview with Mary Stuart, in which he assured himself of her inclination for the marriage. In the autumn of 1563 Catharine Medici showed herself well informed about this negociation and much disquieted by it28. It appeared to depend only on Philip's decision whether the marriage was concluded or not29. After some time the Scotch Privy Council sent the bishop of Ross? to Spain, to bring the matter about. The Queen herself corresponded on it with Cardinal Granvella? and the Duchess of Arschot?.
Don Carlos was too weak, too morbidly excited, to be married when young. King Philip, who did not wish to feed his ambition, at last gave the plan up, and recommended, instead of his son, his nephew the Archduke Charles of Austria?.
But the one was as disagreeable to the English court as the other. Elizabeth had announced eternal enmity to Queen Mary if she married a prince of the house of Austria. Besides, the Spanish influence in England troubled her: she now saw herself already under the necessity of demanding and enforcing the recall of the Spanish ambassador?, because he drew the Catholic party round him and incited them to oppose the laws of England. What might have come of it, if a prince of this house should now obtain rule over a part of the island itself?
But while Mary through these secret negociations tried to obtain the support of a great Catholic house for her claims, she neglected nothing that could contribute at the same time to make a good and friendly understanding with Queen Elizabeth possible, and to bring it about. In the company of her half-brother Murray?, who held the reins of government with a firm hand, supported by his religious and political friends, she undertook a campaign into the Northern counties (which inclined to Catholicism), to make them submit to the universal law of the land. Only one priest was allowed at court, from whom she heard mass; some of those who read the mass elsewhere were occasionally punished for it; clergymen who complained of the hardship they experienced were referred to Murray. This proceeding too was only temporary, it was intended to incline the Queen of England to her wishes. All quarrel was carefully avoided: on solemn festivals she drank to the English ambassador, to the health of his mistress. Besides, there were negociations for a meeting of the two Queens in person at York, where Mary hoped to be solemnly recognised as presumptive heiress of England30. However much it otherwise lies beyond the mental horizon of this epoch of firm and mutually opposed convictions, Mary was then thought capable of willingly adopting the forms of the English Church; to this even the Cardinal of Lorraine? had assented. She herself unceasingly declared that she wished to honour Elizabeth as a mother, as an elder sister. But the Queen of England, after all sorts of promises, preparations, and delays, declined the interview. She would hear absolutely nothing of any recognition of the claim of inheritance. With naive plainness she inferred that such a declaration would not lead 'to concord with her sister, the Queen of Scotland,' since naturally a sovereign does not love his heir;—how indeed could that be possible, since every one is wont to make the heir the object of his aim and hopes;—she might increase Mary's importance by the recognition, but at the same time she would undermine her own;—whether Mary had a right to the English throne, she did not know and did not even wish to know: for she was (and as she said this, she pointed to the ring on her finger in proof) married to the people of England; if the Queen of Scotland had a right to the English throne, that should be left to her unimpaired.
And none could deny that such a declaration as Mary required had its hazardous side for Elizabeth. Henry VIII's settlement of the succession, on which Elizabeth's own accession rested, excluded the Scotch line: in virtue of it the descendants of the younger sister, who were natives of England, possessed a greater right. And how if the Queen of Scots, when recognised as heir to England, afterwards gave her hand to a Catholic prince hostile to Elizabeth? The dangers indicated above would then be doubled, the followers of the ancient Church would have attached themselves to the royal couple, and formed a compact party in opposition to Elizabeth's arrangements, which would never have attained stability.
To meet this very objection, it was suggested that Mary might marry a Protestant, in fact Robert Dudley Earl of Leicester?, who was looked upon as the favourite of the Queen of England herself. Elizabeth could have been quite secure of him: she herself recommended him. Mary was at the first moment unpleasantly affected by the idea that she was expected to take as a husband one who was a born subject of England; but she was by no means decidedly against it, always supposing that in that case Elizabeth would recognise her right of inheritance in a valid form for herself and her issue by this marriage. Above all men Murray was in favour of this. He said, although his power must be diminished by the Queen's union with Leicester, yet he wished for it, in so far as it was bound up with the confirmation of the heirship; for that was the hope by which he had kept Mary firm to the existing system, and separated her from her old friends all these years past. Such was without doubt the case: it is this point of view that renders Mary's policy and conduct during the last years intelligible. If he, so Murray continued, could not make his promise good, Mary would think he had deceived her: should she afterwards marry a Catholic prince, what would be their position31? Once more was the request brought before Queen Elizabeth. But even under these circumstances she could not be induced to grant it. She said, if Mary trusted her and married Leicester, she should never repent it: but these words, which contained no definite engagement, had rather an opposite effect on Mary. In the hope of the recognition of her heirship she had hitherto endured the absolute constraint of her position: she would even have agreed to the choice of a husband by which she feared to be disparaged and controlled: for how could she have concealed from herself, that by it she would have fallen into a permanent dependence on the policy of England? With all her compliances and advances she had nevertheless gained nothing. Her vexation relieved itself by a violent outburst of tears: but during this inward storm she decided at the same time to drop her union with Elizabeth, and thus leave herself free for an opposite policy.
She had refused the Archduke because his possessions were too small to secure her ends, too distant for him to be able to help her. Then another suitor presented himself for her hand, who would not indeed bring her any increase of power, but would strengthen her claims, which seemed to her very desirable. This was the young Henry Lord Darnley?, through his mother likewise a descendant of Henry VII's daughter who had married in Scotland, and through his father Matthew Earl of Lennox? related to that family of the Stuarts which was descended from Alexander, a younger son of James Stuart the ancestor of the Scotch kings. In his descent there lay a double recommendation for him. It was remarked also that he had in his favour in Scotland itself the numerous and important Stuarts (Lord Athol? too belonged to them); but mainly that a scion of this marriage would not find in England any rival of similar claims, which might be easily the case if young Darnley should marry into a family of the English nobility and bring it his rights32. Darnley was a youth remarkable for his fine figure, tall and well built; he made a great impression on the Queen at his very first appearance. In July 1565 the marriage was celebrated and Henry Darnley proclaimed King: the heralds named his name first, when they delivered the royal proclamations. He had hitherto, at least publicly, held to the Protestant faith: even now he occasionally attended the preaching: but after a little wavering he avowed himself a Catholic and drew over a number of lords with him by his example. The Catholic interest thus obtained a complete ascendancy at court.
And now Mary did not delay a moment longer in making decisive advances to the Catholic powers. She had in fact no need to fear that the King of Spain would be offended at her refusing his nephew, if she attached herself to him in other matters. When she announced her marriage to him, she not merely requested him to interest himself for her and her husband's claims in England; she designated him as the man whom God had raised up above all others to defend the holy Catholic religion, and asked for his help to enable her to withstand the apostates in her kingdom: as long as she lived, she would join him against all and every enemy33. This quite fell in with the ideas which Philip himself cherished. From the park of Segovia in October 1565 he commissioned Cardinal Pacheco? to reassure the Pope with the declaration that he meant to support the Queen of Scots not less than the Pope himself. In this they must, he remarked, keep three points in view: first the subjugation of her rebellious subjects, which he thought not difficult, as Elizabeth would not support them; then the restoration of the Catholic Church in Scotland, than which nothing would give him greater satisfaction; lastly, the most difficult of all, the obtaining the recognition of her right to the English throne: in all this he would support the Queen with his counsel and with money: he could not however come forward himself, it could only be done in the Pope's name34.
The ordinary accounts of the conferences at Bayonne have proved erroneous, as the proposals which were certainly made there by the Spaniards were not accepted. But Philip II's resolutions seem not less comprehensive in this case; these were his hostility to Queen Elizabeth, still concealed from the world but fully clear to his own consciousness, and his resolve to do everything in his power to place Mary, if not now, yet at a future time on the English throne. The great movement he was designing was to begin from Scotland. Like the Guises at a later time, so now Mary and her partisans in England and Scotland, if he supported her, were to be instruments in his hand.
Mary had the good fortune to break up the seditious combination of some lords who opposed her marriage. Strengthened by this she prepared for quite a different state of things. She received money from Spain: Pope Pius V? had promised to support her as long as he had a single chalice to dispose of. She expected disciplined Italian troops from him: artillery and other munitions of war were brought together for her in the Netherlands. Leaning on Rome and Spain the spirited Queen hoped to become capable of any great enterprise35.
It was clearly to be expected that she would unite a political tendency with the religious one. In the letter quoted above, Philip reminds her how dangerous to monarchy were the doctrines of the pretended Gospellers36: opinions like those which Knox, regardless of all else, put before her personally, as to the limitations of royal power justified by religion, she as a matter of course would not endure. It is more surprising to find that she also called in question the rights which the nobility claimed as against the royal government, assigning a sort of theoretic ground for her view. The nobles base them, so she said, on the services of their ancestors; but if the children have renounced their virtue, neglect honour, care only for their families, despise the King and his laws and commit treason, must the sovereign even then still let his power be limited by theirs? How vast were the plans which this Queen entertained—to restore Catholicism in Scotland, to resume the war against the nobility in which her ancestors had failed, to overthrow the Protestant opinions, and therewith to become one day Queen of England!
Among those around her was an Italian, David Riccio? of Poncalieri in Piedmont, who had previously been secretary to the Archbishop of Turin, and then in the same capacity accompanied his brother-in-law, the Conte di Moretta, who went to Scotland as ambassador of the Duke of Savoy. He knew how to express himself well in Italian and French, and was besides skilful in music37. As he exactly supplied a voice which was wanting in the Queen's chapel, she asked the ambassador to let him enter her service. Riccio was not a blooming handsome man; though still young, he gave the impression of advanced years: he had something morose and repellent about him; but he showed himself endlessly useful and zealous, and won greater influence from day to day. He not merely conducted the foreign correspondence, on which all now depended and for which he was indispensable,—it became his office to lay everything before the Queen that needed her signature, and through this he attained the incalculable actual power of a confidential cabinet-secretary; he saw the Queen, who took pleasure in his company, as often as he wished, and ate at her table. James Melvil?, whom she had commissioned to warn her, if he saw her committing faults, did not neglect doing it in this case; he represented to her the ill effects which favouring a foreigner drew after it: but she thought she could not let her royal prerogative be so limited38. Riccio had promoted the marriage with Darnley: the latter seemed to depend on him39; it was even said that the secretary used at pleasure a signet bearing the King's initials. It was no wonder indeed if this influence created him enemies, especially as he took presents which streamed in on him abundantly: yet the real hostility came from quite another quarter.
The English Council of State did not fail to notice the danger which lay in a policy of estrangement on the part of Scotland. It was proposed to put an end to its progress once for all by an invasion of Scotland: or at least the wish was expressed to arm for defence, e. g. to fortify Berwick, and above all to renew the understanding with the Scotch lords; Murray, whom Mary had in vain tried to gain over by reminding him of the interest of their family and the views of their father, would most gladly have delivered Darnley at once into the hands of the English. By thus openly choosing his side he had been forced, together with his chief friends, Chatellerault?, Glencairn?, Rothes?, and some others, to leave Scotland: the Queen refused with violent words the demand of the English court that she should receive them again; she called a Parliament instead for the beginning of March, in which their banishment was to be confirmed and an attempt made to restore Catholicism. This was not so difficult, as the resolutions of 1560 had never yet been ratified. There appeared at court the Catholic lords, Huntley?, Athol?, and Bothwell? who was ever ready for fighting (he had returned from banishment); they came to an understanding with Riccio. But now it happened that the personal union (on which all rested) between the King, the Queen, and the powerful secretary changed to discord. Darnley, who wished not merely to be called King but to be King, demanded that the matrimonial crown should be conferred on him by the Parliament; this would have given him independent rights. The Queen on her side wished to keep the supreme power undiminished in her hands: and Riccio may well have confirmed her in this, as his own importance depended thereon: Darnley ascribed the opposition he met with from his wife not so much to her own decision as to the low-born foreigner against whom he now conceived a violent hatred. His father, Lennox, who cared little for the restoration of Catholicism in itself, entirely agreed with him as to this. They held it allowable to put out of the way the intruder who dared to hinder their house from mounting to the highest honours, and who by the confidential intimacy in which he stood with the Queen gave rise to all kinds of offensive rumours. With this object they—for the instigation came from them—joined in a union with the Protestant nobles. These regarded Riccio as their most thoroughgoing opponent: they too wished him to be got rid of; but his death alone could not content them. A Parliament was to meet at once, from which they expected nothing but a complete condemnation of their former friends, and absolutely ruinous resolutions against themselves. They made the overthrow of this system a condition of their taking a share in getting rid of Riccio. The King consented that Murray should be again placed at the head of the government, in return for which the matrimonial crown was promised him.
On the 7th March the Queen went to the old councilhouse of Edinburgh to make the necessary arrangements for the Parliament. The insignia of the realm, sword crown and sceptre, were borne before her by the Catholic lords, Huntley, Athol, and Crawford?, the heads of those houses which had once already, in France, offered her their alliance. The King had refused to take part in the ceremony. She named the Lords of Articles, who from of old exercised a decisive influence in the Scotch Parliaments, and restored the bishops to their place among them. As the Queen declares, her object was to promote the restoration of the old religion and to have the rebels sentenced by the assembled Estates. In Holyrood, besides Huntley and Athol, Bothwell, Fleming?, and James Balfour? had also found favour, all men who had taken an active part for the restoration of Catholicism or for the reestablishnlent of the power of the crown: how much it must have surprised men to find that the Queen granted Huntley and Bothwell, who had been declared traitors, admittance into the Privy Council. If the Parliament adopted resolutions in accordance with these preliminaries, it was to be expected that the work of political and religious reaction would begin at once, with the active participation not only of the Pope from whom some money had already come, but also of other Catholic powers with whom Riccio kept the Queen in communication.
A serious danger assuredly for the lords and for Protestantism; there was not a moment to lose if they wished to avert it; but the attempt to do so assumed, through the wild habits of the time and the country, that character of violence which has made it the romance of centuries. The event had such far-reaching results that we too must devote a discussion to it.
In the low, narrow, and gloomy rooms of Holyrood House there is a little chamber to which the Queen retired when she would be alone: it was connected by an inner staircase with the King's lodgings. Here Mary was sitting at supper on Saturday the 9th March 1566, with her natural sister the Countess of Argyle?, her natural brother the Laird of Creich?, who commanded the guard at the palace, and some other members of her household, among whom was also Riccio; when the King, who had been expected somewhat earlier, appeared and seated himself familiarly by his wife. But at the same moment other unexpected guests also entered. These were Lord Ruthven?, who had undertaken to execute the vengeance of King and country on Riccio, and his companions; under his fur-fringed mantle were seen weapons and armour: the Queen asked in affright what brought him there at that unwonted hour. He did not leave her long in doubt. 'I see a man here,' said Ruthven, 'who takes a place that does not become him; by a servant like this we in Scotland will not let ourselves be ruled40,' and so prepared to lay hands on him.
Riccio took refuge near her; the Queen declared that she would punish an attack on him as high treason, but swords were bared before her eyes, Riccio was wounded by a thrust over her shoulder, and dragged away: on the floor and on the steps he received more than fifty wounds: the King's own dagger was said to have been seen in the body of the murdered man. This may be doubted, as his jealousy was by no means so real; yet he said soon after that he was responsible for the honour of his wife. In the turmoil he had only just stretched out his hand, to guard her person from any accident. For the nobles, who though acting with the utmost violence yet did not wish to risk their whole future, it was enough that he was there: his presence would authorise their act and give it impunity. When the murder was done Ruthven returned to the Queen and declared to her that the influence she had given Riccio had been unendurable to them, as had been also his counsels for the restoration of the old religion, his enmities against the great men of the land, his connexions with foreign princes; he announced to her plainly the return of the banished lords, with whom the others would unite in an opposite policy. For they had not merely aimed at Riccio: at the same time the Lords Morton?, who had collected a number of trustworthy men, had advanced with them and beset the approaches to the palace-yard. Their plan was to get into their hands all their enemies who had gathered round the Queen. But while their attention was fastened on Riccio's murder, most of the threatened persons succeeded in escaping. All the rest who did not belong to the household, and were taken in the palace, were removed without distinction: the Queen was treated like a prisoner41. She still possessed a certain popularity, as being hereditary sovereign: a movement arose in the city in her favour, but this was counterbalanced by the antipathies of the Protestants, and a declaration of the King sufficed to still it. The next day a proclamation appeared in his name which directed the members of the Parliament, who had already arrived, to depart again.
It was at any rate secured that a restoration of Catholicism or a legal prosecution of the banished lords was not to be thought of; the original plan however was not completely carried out. As it appears, the temper of the country had not been so far prepared beforehand as to make it possible to deprive the Queen of her power. And the spirited princess did not let herself be so easily subdued. Above all she succeeded in gaining over her husband again, to whom the predominance of the lords was itself derogatory; he helped her to escape and accompanied her in her flight. When they were once safe in a strong place, her partisans gathered round her; she placed herself at the head of a force, small though it was, and occupied the capital; the chief accomplices in the attack of Holyrood, Morton and Ruthven, fled from the country. She did not however revert to her old plans: she resumed her earlier connexions instead, her half-brother Murray again obtained influence, the old members of the Privy Council stood by his side, after some time Morton was able to return. Foreigners found that Scotland was as quiet as before.
But this apparent quiet concealed a discord destined to produce still greater complications. The Queen had only learnt afterwards the share which Darnley had taken in Riccio's murder: it was her husband who had instigated this insult to her royal honour: how could she ever again repose confidence in him? And he no longer found support in the lords whom he had deserted at the moment of the crisis. He was very far now from obtaining the matrimonial crown or even any real influence: he saw himself excluded from affairs more than ever, and despised. When his son was baptised at Stirling, the father could not appear, though he was in the palace: he was afraid of being insulted in public. His condition filled him with shame: he often thought of leaving the kingdom, and made preparations for doing so. But he was not able to state and prove his grievances: he had to acknowledge before the assembled Privy Councll that he had no complaints worth mentioning.
The Queen on her side had sometimes let drop her wish to be rid of such a husband. She could not however think seriously of having her marriage with him dissolved, as this could only be done by declaring it null and void, and by that step her son, of whom she had just been delivered, and who was to inherit all her rights, would have been at the same time declared illegitimate. She was told that means would be found to carry the matter through without prejudice to her son. She warned her friends not to undertake anything which, though meant to help her, might prepare yet more trouble.
How men stood to each other is clear from the fact that on the one side Darnley and his father? linked themselves with the Catholic party—they were said to have adopted a plan of seizing the government, in the Queen's despite, in the name of her new-born son42—while on the other side the rest of the barons pledged themselves not to recognise him but only the Queen. A league was already concluded between some of them, originating with Sir James Balfour (who had been marked out for death by the halter in Holyrood), to rid the world by force of a tyrant and enemy of the nobility, against whom men must secure their lives.
Thus all was in preparation for a fresh catastrophe; a new personal relation of the Queen brought it to pass. Among the nobles of Scotland James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell, was especially distinguished for a fine figure, for youthful strength, intrepid manly courage, proved in a thousand adventures, and decided character. Though professedly a Protestant, he had attached himself to the Regent without wavering, and assured the Queen of his assistance while she was still in France. Can we wonder if Mary, under the pressure of the party combinations around, needing before all things a friend personally devoted to her, sought for support in this tried and energetic man? As she in general prized nothing more highly than bold and valiant deeds, she had often told him how much she admired him; but yet more than this,—we cannot doubt that she let herself be drawn into a passionate connexion with him. Who does not know the sonnets and the love-intoxicated letters she is believed to have addressed to him? I would not say that every word of the latter is genuine; through the several translations from the French original (which is lost) into the Scotch idiom, from this into Latin, and then back into French as we now have them—they may have suffered much alteration: we have no right to lay stress on every expression, and interpret it by the light of later events: but in the main they are without doubt genuine: they contain circumstances which no one else could then know and which have since been proved to be true; no human being could have invented them43. It does not seem as if Mary's fondness for Bothwell was returned by him in the same degree: in her letters and poems she is constantly combating a rival, to whom his heart seems to give the preference. This was Bothwell's own wife whom he had only shortly before married: she stayed with him for a time in the neighbourhood of the court, but he took care that the Queen knew nothing of her being there. As he was before all things ambitious and desirous of power, he only cared for the Queen's love and the possession of her person so far as it would enable him to share her authority and to obtain the supreme power in Scotland. But for this another thing was necessary; the King must be removed out of the way. As Darnley had once joined Riccio's political enemies in the Holyrood assassination, so Bothwell now united himself with Darnley's enemies with a view to his murder, for which they were already quite prepared. Morton was asked to join the enterprise this time also: but he demanded a declaration from the Queen that she was not against it: and this Bothwell could not obtain,
But, it may be said, was not the Queen in collusion with him? Did she not purposely bring back her husband, who had fallen sick at Glasgow, to Edinburgh, and did she not lodge him in a lonely house there not far from the palace under the pretence that the purer air would contribute to his recovery, but in fact to deliver him over all the more surely to destruction? Such has been always the general belief: even her partisans, the zealous Catholics, at that time inclined to believe that the Queen at least connived in the plot44. But there was yet another view taken at the time, according to which the better relations that had begun between husband and wife were not due to hypocrisy but were genuine, and a complete reconciliation and reunion was to have been expected: the returning inclination towards her husband was contending in the Queen with her passion for Bothwell; and he was driven on, by the apprehension that his prey and the prize of his ambition would escape him, to hasten the execution of his scheme45. And psychologically the event might be best explained in this way. But the statement has not sufficiently good evidence for it to be maintained historically. A poet might, I think, so apprehend it: for it is one of the advantages of poetic representation, that it can take up even a slightly supported tradition, and following it can infer the depths of the heart, those abysmal depths in which the storms of passion rage, and those actions are begotten which laugh laws and morality to scorn, and yet are deeply rooted in the souls of men. The informations on which our historical representation must be based do not reach so far: on a scrupulous examination they do not allow us to attain a definite conviction as to the degree of complicity. Only there can be no doubt as to the fact that this time too ambition and the lust of power played a great part. If Bothwell once said he would prevent Darnley from setting his foot on the necks of the Scotch, he thereby only expressed the feeling of the other nobles. Yet he executed his murderous plot without their joining in it and by means of his own servants46. In the house before mentioned he caused a quantity of gunpowder to be laid under the chamber in which Darnley slept, in order to blow him into the air: alarmed at the noise made by opening the door, the young sovereign sprang from his bed; while trying to save himself, he was strangled together with the page who was with him: the powder was then fired and the house laid in ruins47.
So the dreadful deed was done: the news of it filled men at first with that curiosity which always attaches to dark events that touch the highest circles; they then busied themselves with the question as to who would ascend the Scottish throne and give the Queen his hand,—among the other suitors Leicester now thought the time come for him, and for renewing good relations between England and Scotland:—but meanwhile to every man's astonishment and horror a rumour spread that the Queen would unite herself with the man to whom the murder of her husband was ascribed. Men fell on their knees before her, to represent the dishonour she would thus draw on herself, and even the danger into which she would bring her child. Letters from England were shown her in which the ruin of all her prospects as to the English throne was intimated, if she took this step: for it would strengthen the suspicion, which had arisen on the spot, that she had been an accomplice in her husband's murder. But she was already no longer her own mistress. Bothwell now did altogether what he would. He obtained from the lords, who feared him, a declaration that he was guiltless of any share in the King's murder, and even their consent to his marriage with the Queen. He said publicly he would marry the Queen, whoever might be against it, whether she would or not. And if Mary wished ever again to govern the country, and make the lords feel her vengeance, Bothwell might appear to her the only man who could assist her in this. Half of her free will, half by force, she fell into his power and thus into the necessity of giving him her hand. An archiepiscopal matrimonial court found in a near relationship between Bothwell and his wife a pretext for dissolving his previous marriage48. Bothwell was created Duke of Orkney: he began to exercise the royal power for his own objects; his friends, even the accomplices in the murder, were promoted49.
But how could it be expected that the Lords would tolerate in the much more dangerous hands of Bothwell a power they would not have endured in Darnley's? Against him they had the full support of the people; filled with moral aversion to the Queen for the guilt she had incurred, or which was attributed to her, they expressed their loyalty only in hostility to her; a general uneasiness showed itself as to the safety of her son who was likewise threatened by his father's murderers.
Under a banner on which were depicted the murdered King and his child the latter praying for help, a great army marched against the castle where the newly-married pair dwelt. Bothwell merely regarded the hostile lords as his rivals, who envied him the great position to which he had raised himself, and thought to rout them all with the feudal array which gathered round him at the Queen's summons. But at the decisive moment the feeling of the country infected his own people as well; instead of being able to fight he had to fly. He was forced to live as a pirate in the Northern Seas; for he could no longer remain in the country. The Queen fell into the power of the Lords, who placed her in the strong castle which the Douglas had built in the middle of Loch Leven, and detained her as a prisoner.
In France it was not wholly forgotten that she had once been the Queen of that realm; a fiery champion of the Catholics boasted that, if they would give him a couple of thousand arquebusiers, he would free her from custody in despite of the Scots; but Catharine Medici, who besides was no friend of hers, rejected this absolutely, as they had already so many irons in the fire50. On the other hand Elizabeth concerned herself for the interests of her endangered neighbour with a certain emphasis. But the Scots were already discontented with the conduct of England, and complained loudly that since the treaty of Leith nothing good had come to them from thence51; they were resolved to pay their neighbour no more attention, but to manage their own affiirs for themselves.
Their path was clearly marked out for them. They had murdered Riccio, conspired against Darnley, driven Bothwell away, and all for the special reason that they had tried to create a strong supreme power over them: they could not possibly allow the Queen, irritated and insulted as she was, to again obtain the exercise of her power. Mary therefore was forced to resign the Scotch crown in favour of her son, and to name her brother Murray regent during his minority. Immediately on this the ceremony of anointing and crowning the child was performed in an almost grotesque manner52. Two superintendents and a bishop set the crown on his head, which the Lords there present touched in token of their consent; two of them, Morton and Hume?, then swore in the name of the new King, James VI, that he would uphold the religion now prevailing in Scotland, and combat all its enemies.
When after this Murray, who had exiled himself to France, and had taken no share in the last catastrophe (which he foresaw), returned, he was in a position once more to conduct the government according to his old policy, only with greater independence. A Parliament was called which now for the first time confirmed the statutes made in 1560 in favour of the Kirk, and also came to such an arrangement about the confiscated church-property as made it possible for it to exist.
So ruinous for Mary were the results of her attempt to break through the combination which formed the condition of her government in Scotland, and to effect a restoration of the old ecclesiastical and political forms. Before the power which she wished to overthrow her own had gone down.
But she was not yet minded to submit to it. And mainly through a personal relation which she had entered into with the young George Douglas, who conceived hopes of her hand, she succeeded in escaping out of her prison and over the lake, bold and venturous as she always was. In the country there were many who thought themselves to stand so high above the bastard Earl of Murray, that they held it a disgrace to obey him: all these gathered round her; and as she then, the very day after her escape, revoked her abdication, they bound themselves together to replace her on the throne. In the league, at the head of which stood the Hamiltons, we find eight bishops and twelve abbots,—for the re-establishment of the Catholic Church was part of the plan: a considerable army was brought into the field with this object. Murray and his party were however the stronger of the two, they represented the organised power of the State, and their soldiers were the best disciplined. The Queen, who, at Langsyde, from a neighbouring eminence, looked on at the battle between the two armies, had to witness her own men being scattered without having done the enemy any damage,—Murray is said to have lost only one man. He himself put a stop to the slaughter of the fugitives. Still even now her affairs did not seem to those around her utterly lost, for all her friends had not yet appeared in the field, and there were still strong places to which she could retreat. But she aimed not merely at defence, but at overpowering her enemies. As what she had just seen left her no hope of this in Scotland, she adopted the idea of demanding help from the Queen of England. For the latter had in the strongest terms made known to the Scotch barons her displeasure at the treatment of their Queen, which was not in harmony with the laws of God or man, and had threatened to punish them for the wound thus inflicted on the royal dignity. She had once sent Mary herself a jewel as a pledge of her friendship. Mary was warned by those around her not to put full trust in these assurances. But she was quite accustomed to take her resolutions under passionate emotion, and could not then be dissuaded from her views. Through forests and woods, over stock and stone, without a single woman attendant, without any other food than the Scotch oatcake, day and night she kept on her way to the coast, from which she betook herself in a small boat to Carlisle. Her soul was thirsting to subdue the rebels: her firm trust was to draw Queen Elizabeth into the war against them: she came, not to seek a refuge, but to gain troops and assistance.
If we inquire into the reason why Philip II gave up his previous relations with England and sided with the Queen of Scots, we shall find it mainly in the fact that the victory of Protestant ideas in England exercised a counter-action which was insupportable for the government he had established in the Netherlands. But that he gave Mary no help in her troubles, though information was once collected as to how it might be done, may also be traceable to the disturbances that had broken out in the Netherlands, the suppression of which occupied all his attention and resources.
In 1568 the Duke of Alva? was master of the Netherlands: he was already able to send a considerable force to help the French government, which had once more broken an agreement forced upon it by the Hugenots; the stress of the religious war was transferred to France, and there too the Catholic military force by degrees gained the upper hand. It was under these circumstances that Mary Stuart appeared in England with a demand for help. If in the Netherlands the attempts of the nobles and the Protestant tendencies had been alike defeated, they had on the other hand, by a similar union, achieved a decisive victory in Scotland. Was Elizabeth to join Mary in combating them?
Elizabeth disliked the proceedings of the Scotch nobles towards their lawful Queen; the adherents of the Scotch church-system were already troublesome to her in England: but, however much she found to blame in them, in the great contest of the world they were her allies. Mary on the other hand held to that great system of life and thought with which the English Queen and her ministers had broken. Whatever Elizabeth might have previously promised, she did not mean to be bound by it under circumstances so completely altered53. Had she chosen to restore Mary, she would have opened the island to all the influences which she desired to exclude. Nor did she wish to let her retire to France, for while Mary had resided there previously, England had not had a single quiet day: without doubt the Catholic zeal prevailing there would have been at once excited in support of her claims to the English throne. An attempt was again made to reconcile the Scotch nobles with their Queen: but as this led to an enquiry respecting her share in the guilt of the King's murder—those letters of Mary to Bothwell now first came to the knowledge of the public—the dissension became rather greater and quite irreconcileable.
One now begins to feel sympathy with the Queen of Scots, especially as her share in the crime imputed to her is not quite clear. Of her own free will she had come to England to seek for assistance on which she thought she could reckon: but high considerations of policy not merely prevented its being given but also made it seem prudent to detain her in England54. Elizabeth and her ministers brought themselves to prefer the interests of the crown to what was in itself right and fit. Mary did not however on this account vanish from the stage of the world: rather she obtained an exceedingly important position by her presence in England, where one party acknowledged her immediate claim to the throne, the other at least her claim to the succession; and hence arose not merely inconveniences but very serious dangers for the English government. Even in 1569, at a moment when the Catholic military power had the superiority in France and the Netherlands, Mary's uncle, the Cardinal of Lorraine, proposed to the King of Spain an offensive alliance against Queen Elizabeth55. In the civil wars of France they had just won the victory in two great battles. Who could say what the result would have been if in the still very unprepared condition of England an invasion had been undertaken by the combined Catholic powers?
But the life and the destiny of Europe depend on the fact that the great general antagonisms are perpetually crossed by the special ones of the several states. Philip did not wish for an alliance with the French; it seemed to him untrustworthy, too extensive and, even if it led to victory, dangerous. He declared with the greatest distinctness, that he thought of nothing but of putting down his rebels (including at the time the Moriscoes/), and the complete pacification of the Netherlands; he would not hear of a declaration of war against England. The difficulty of this sovereign's position on all sides and his natural temperament were the determining element in the history of the second half of the sixteenth century. His great object, the re-establishment and extension of the Catholic religion, he never leaves out of sight for a moment; but yet he pursues it only in combination with his own special interests. He is accustomed to weigh all the chances, to proceed slowly, to pause when the situation becomes critical, to avoid dangerous enterprises. Open war is not to his taste, he loves secret influences.
In November 1569 a rebellion broke out in England, not without the connivance of the Spanish ambassador, but mainly under the impression made by the Catholic victories in France, as to which Mary Stuart also had let it be known that they rejoiced her inmost soul. It was mainly the Northern counties that rose, as had before been the case in 1536 and 1549. Where the revolt gained the upper hand, the Common Prayer-book and sometimes the English translation of the Bible as well were burnt, and the mass re-established. Many nobles, above all in the North itself, still held Catholic opinions. At the head of the present insurrection stood the Percies of Northumberland, the Nevilles of Westmoreland, the Cliffords of Cumberland; Richard Norton?, who rose for the Nevilles, venerable for his grey hair, and surrounded by a troop of sons in their prime, carried the Cross as a banner in front of his men. The nobility did not exactly want to overthrow the Queen, but it wished to force her to alter her government, to dismiss her present ministers, and above all to recognise Mary Stuart's claim to the succession—which would have given her an exceedingly numerous body of supporters in England and thus have seriously hampered the Queen. But now the government possessed a still more decided ascendancy than even in 1549. It had come upon the traces of the enterprise in time to quell it at its first outbreak, and had at once removed the Queen of Scots out of reach of the movement. The commander in the North, Thomas Ratcliffe?, Earl of Sussex, one of the Queen's heroes, who bore himself bravely and blamelessly in other spheres of action as well as in this, and has left behind him one of the purest of names, encountered the rebels with a considerable force, composed entirely of his own men; these the rebels were the less able to withstand, as they knew that still more troops were on the march. As the ballad of a northern minstrel says, the gold-horned bull of the Nevilles, the silver crescent of the Percies, vanished from the field: the chiefs themselves fled over the Scotch border, their troops dispersed, their declared partisans underwent the severest punishments. Many who knew themselves guilty passed over to the Queen's party in order to escape.
But at the very time of this victory the war against the Queen at home and abroad first received its most vivid impulse through the supreme head of the Catholic faith. Pope Pius V, who saw in Elizabeth the protectress of all the enemies of Catholicism, had issued the long prepared and hitherto withheld excommunication against her. In the name of Him who had raised him to the supreme throne of Right, he declared Elizabeth to have forfeited the realm of which she claimed to be Queen: he not merely released her subjects from the oath they had taken to her: 'we likewise forbid,' he added, 'her barons and peoples henceforth to obey this woman's commands and laws, under pain of excommunication'. It was a proclamation of war in the style of Innocent III?: rebellion was therein almost treated as a proof of faith.
The way in which the Queen opened her Parliament in 1571 forms as it were a conscious contrast to the Papal bull, and its declaration that she was deposed. She appeared in the robes of state, the golden coronal on her head. At her right sat the dignitaries of the English Church, at her left the lay lords, on the woolsack in the centre the members of the Privy Council, by the sides stood the knights and burgesses of the lower house. The keeper of the great seal reminded the Houses of the late years of peace, in which—a thing without example in England—no blood had been shed; but now peace seemed likely to perish through the machinations of Rome. All were of one accord that they must confront this attempt with the full force of the law. It was declared high treason to designate the Queen as heretical or schismatic, to deny her right to the throne, or to ascribe such a right to any one else. To proselytise to Catholicism, or to bring into England sacred objects consecrated by the Pope, or absolutions from him, was forbidden and treated as an offence against the State. What a decidedly antipapal character did the Church, which retained most of the hierarchic usages, nevertheless assume! The oath of supremacy became indispensable even for places at court and in the country districts, in which it had not hitherto been required. Men deemed the Queen's ecclesiastical power the palladium of the realm.
In this form the war of religion appeared in England. The Protestant exiles from the Netherlands and France sought and found a refuge here in large bodies; it has been calculated that they then composed one-twentieth of the inhabitants of London, and they were settled in many other places. But the fiery passions, which on the Continent led to the re-establishment of Catholicism, reacted on the old English families of the Catholic faith as well, and produced, under the influence of Spanish or Italian agitators, ever new attempts at overthrowing the government.
It was just then, there cannot be any doubt of it, that Thomas duke of Norfolk?, who might be regarded as almost the chief noble of the realm, became concerned in such an attempt. Somewhat earlier the idea had been entertained that his marriage with Mary Stuart might contribute to restore general quiet in both kingdoms: but Queen Elizabeth had abandoned this plan, and he had pledged himself to her under his hand and seal not to enter into any negotiation about it without her previous knowledge. Nevertheless he had allowed himself to be drawn by an Italian money-changer, Roberto Ridolfi?, who had lived long in England, not merely into a new agreement with this object in view but into treasonable designs. Norfolk possessed an immense following among the nobility of both religious parties: and, as he would not declare himself a Catholic at once, he thought to have the Protestant lords also on his side, if he married Mary Stuart, whom many of them regarded as the lawful heiress of the realm. He applied for the Pope's approval of his proceedings, and promised to come forward without reserve if a Spanish force landed in England: he affirmed that his views were not directed to his own advancement, but only to the purpose of uniting the island under one sovereign, and re-establishing the old laws and the Catholic religion. These thoughts hardly originated with the duke, they were suggested to him by Ridolfi, who himself drew up the instructions with which Norfolk and Mary despatched him to the Pope and the King of Spain57. Ridolfi had been sent to Mary with full powers from the Pope, and also well provided with money. When he now appeared again in Rome with his instructions, which really contained simply the acceptance of his proposals, he was, as may be imagined, received with joy: the Pope, who expected the salvation of the world from these enterprises, recommended them to King Philip. In Spain also they met with a good reception. We are astonished at the naiveté with which the Council of State proceeded to deliberate on the proposal of a sudden stroke by which an Italian partisan undertook to seize the Queen and her councillors at one of her country-houses. The King at last left the decision to the Duke of Alva. Alva would have been in favour of the plan itself, but he took into consideration that an unsuccessful attempt would provoke a general attack from all sides on the Netherlands, which were only just subdued and still full of ferment. He thought the King should not declare himself until the conspirators had succeeded in getting the Queen into their hands, alive or dead. If Norfolk made his rising contingent on the landing of a Spanish force in England, Alva on the other hand required that he should already have got the Queen into his power before his own master made his participation in the scheme known58.
But while letters and messages were being exchanged in this way (for Ridolfi held it necessary to be in communication with his friends in England and Scotland), Elizabeth's watchful ministers had already discovered all. Even before Ridolfi reached Spain, Elizabeth gave the French ambassador? an intimation of the commission with which the Queen of Scots had entrusted him59. The latter had not yet received any kind of answer from Spain when the Earl of Shrewsbury?, in whose custody she then was at Sheffield, reproached her with the schemes in which she was implicated, and announced to her a closer restriction of her liberty as a punishment for them: further Elizabeth would not at that time as yet proceed against her. In Spain and Italy they were still expecting the Duke of Norfolk to take up arms, when he was already a prisoner. Elizabeth struggled long against giving him over to the arm of the law, but her friends held an execution absolutely necessary for her personal security. On the scaffold in the Tower Norfolk said he was the first to die on that spot under Queen Elizabeth and trusted he would be the last. All people said Amen.
The scheme of this revolt proceeded more from Italy and Rome than from Spain: King Philip had taken no active part in it, the Duke of Alva had rather set himself against it: but we need only glance at their correspondence to perceive how completely nevertheless they were implicated in the matter. To carry on the war against Elizabeth not in his own name but in the name, and for the restoration of the rights, of the Queen of Scotland, would have exactly suited the policy of Philip II: he thought such an opportunity would never present itself again; they must avail themselves of it and finish the affair as quickly as possible, that France might not take part in it. If Alva counts up the difficulties which manifestly stood in the way of the scheme, yet he promises to execute the King's wishes with all the means in his power, with person and property: 'God will still send the King other favourable opportunities as a reward for his religious zeal60'.
Queen Elizabeth expelled the Spanish ambassador, Gueran de Espes, who had undeniably taken part in Ridolfi's schemes as well as in the last rising, from England; as soon as he reached Brussels, the English and Scotch fugitives gathered round him, and communicated to him many new schemes of invasion, to which his ear was more open than that of the Duke of Alva. An attack was to be tried, now on Scotland, now on Ireland, now on England itself.
We cannot suppose that in England they knew every word that was uttered about these plans, or that everything they did believe there was well grounded. But from year to year men's minds were more and more filled with the idea that Philip II was the great enemy of their religion and of their country. In the sphere of classical literature the translation of Demosthenes in 1570 is noteworthy in this respect. What Demosthenes says against Philip of Macedon, in regard to the Athenians, the translator finds applicable to Philip II; he calls the English to open war in the words of the ancient orator, 'for as it was then, so is it now, and ever will be.' But for this Elizabeth on her side did not feel inclined or prepared. Many acts of hostility took place at sea in a piratical war, in politics they stood sharply opposed to each other but they were not inclined on either side for an open contest, front to front.
Above all the English held it necessary now to come to a good understanding with the other of the two great neighbouring powers. It stood them in good stead that a tendency to moderate measures gained sway in France; the English ambassadors took a very vivid interest in the project of a marriage between Henry of Navarre? and Margaret of Valois. While the victory of Lepanto filled the hearts of the partisans of Spain with fresh hopes, the jealousy it awakened in the French contributed largely to their withdrawal from Spain and the Pope, and their readiness for an alliance with England. The two powers promised each other mutual support against any attack, on whatever ground it might at any time be undertaken. A later explanation of the treaty expressly confirmed its including the case of religion61.
Thus secured on this side the Queen proceeded to carry out an idea which had immense consequences. It is not a mere suspicion, partially derived from the result, to suppose that she thought King Philip's combining with her rebels gave her a right to combine with the King's revolted subjects: she herself said so once to the French ambassador: while talking with him, she one day dropped her voice, and said that as Philip kept her state disturbed, she did not hold herself any longer bound to treat him with the regard she had hitherto shewn him in the quarrels of the Netherlands.
It is not quite true that she supported with her own power the Gueux ('Beggars'), who had fled to the sea from Alva's persecutions, in the decisive attacks they now made on Brielle and Vliessingen (Brill and Flushing): but this was hardly needed, it was quite enough that her feeling was known, she merely let things take their way, she did not prevent the attack of the rebels against Philip II (powerful at sea as they were) being supported by the fugitive Walloons residing in England, and by Englishmen also. It was estimated that there were then in Vliessingen 400 Walloons and 400 English: 1500 English lay before the town, to keep off the attacks of the Spaniards. French troops gave aid in corresponding numbers. They were all recalled at a later time; but meanwhile the insurrection had gained a consistency which made it impossible for the Spaniards to subdue the Netherlands.
As formerly Elizabeth had joined the Scotch lords against the Regent and the Queen of Scotland, so now she helped the insurgents of the Netherlands against the King of Spain. In the first case she had Philip II himself on her side, in the second case France.
By this policy she found the means of securing herself at home, from the Spanish attacks. It was more than ever necessary for Philip to concentrate on the war in the Netherlands all the forces of which he could dispose. The Queen did not yet take direct part in it, and Philip had to avoid everything that could induce her to do so. It was not her object to bring about the independence of the Provinces: but she insisted on the departure of the Spanish troops, the observance of the provincial constitutions, and above all assured liberty for the Protestant faith. In 1575 she offered the King her mediation, not however without including one special English matter, namely the mitigation of the severe religious laws in reference to English merchants in the Spanish countries: the King took the opinion of the Grand Inquisitor on it. As if he could ever have been in its favour himself! The Pacification of Ghent in 1576 was quite in accordance with the Queen's views, since it established the supremacy of the Estates, and freedom of religion for the chief Northern provinces. To maintain this, she had no hesitation in concluding an alliance with the States, and in consequence despatching a body of English troops to the Netherlands. She informed the King himself of this, and requested him to recall the Stadtholder Don John, his half-brother (who was trying to break the peace), and to receive the Estates into his favour: she did not by this think to come to a breach with him.
The idea of entrusting Don John of Austria, the victor of Lepanto, with the restoration of Catholicism in West Europe had been at that time adopted in Rome. His was a fiery nature pervaded by Catholic principles, and seized with the most vivid ambition to be something in the world and to effect something. The Irish wished him to be their king; he was to free Mary Stuart from prison, vindicate her rights alike in Scotland and in England, and at her side ascend the throne of the British kingdoms now united in Catholicism. Mary gladly acceded to this, as she had already long wished for a marriage with the Spanish house. It was probably to give this combination a firmer basis that she proposed, in case her son did not prove to be a Catholic, to transfer her claims on the throne of England to the King of Spain, or to any of his relatives whom he should name in conjunction with the Pope62. But whom could she mean by these last words but Don John himself, who then stood in close connexion with the Guises, whom she also recommended most pressingly to the King. But she had at the same time directed her aim towards Scotland. There her enemies Murray and Lennox had perished by assassination; under the following regents, Mar? and Morton, Mary had still nevertheless so many partisans, that they never could have ventured, as they were requested to do from England, to allow Mary to come to Scotland and be put on her trial: their own power would have been endangered by it. Mary too believed herself to have prepared everything there so well for an enterprise by Don John that, as she says, an overthrow of the Scotch government would infallibly have ensued if Philip II had only put his hand to the work. And how closely were his interests bound up with it! Without a conquest of the island-kingdom, as his brother represented to him, the Netherlands could never be subdued. But even now he shunned an open rupture. Besides this his brother's restlessness and thirst for action, and his political intrigues which were already reacting on Spain, were disagreeable to him; he could not make up his mind to take a decisive step.
He had again and again been vainly entreated to interest himself in the population of Ireland, in which national and religious antagonism contended against the supremacy of England. One of the confidential agents secretly sent thither assured him that he was implored by nine-tenths of the inhabitants to take them under his protection and save their souls, that is restore them the mass, which they could no longer celebrate publicly: they appealed to their primeval relationship with the Iberian people, to ancient prophecies which looked forward to this, and to the great political interests at stake. Philip was not disinclined to attempt the enterprise; but he required the co-operation of France, without doubt to break the opposition of this power in the affairs of the Netherlands; a condition which could not be made acceptable to the French by any interposition of Rome.
And so, if Pope Gregory XIII? wished to undertake anything against Ireland, he had to do it himself. Men witnessed the singular spectacle of an expedition against Ireland being fitted out on the coasts of the States of the Church. A papal general from Bologna came to the assistance of the powerful Irish chief, Fitzmaurice?. They commanded the Irish districts far and wide, and made inroads into the English: for a long time they were very troublesome, although not really dangerous.
King Philip was then busied in an undertaking which interested him still more closely than even that of the Netherlands: he made good his hereditary claim to Portugal, without being obstructed in it either by the opposition of a native claimant or by the counter-working of the European powers.
In the face of this success, by which the Spanish monarchy became master of the whole Pyrenean peninsula and its many colonies in East and West, it was all the more necessary for the other two powers to hold together. Many causes of quarrel indeed arose between them. How could the shocking event of the night of St. Bartholomew fail to awaken all the antipathies of the English, and indeed of Protestantism in general! Elizabeth did not let herself be prevented by her treaty from supporting the French Protestants in the manner she liked, that is without its being possible to prove it against her. Under Charles IX she contributed to prevent them from succumbing, under Henry III she helped them in recovering a certain political position: for this very object the Palsgrave Casimir led into France German troops paid with English money. Catharine Medici often reproached her with observing a policy like that of Louis XI?.
But the common interest of the two kingdoms was always more powerful than these differences; frequent and long negociations were carried on for even a closer union. The marriage of Queen Elizabeth with Catharine's youngest son? was once held to be as good as certain: he actually appeared personally in England. We refrain from following the course of these negociations. The interest they awaken constantly ends in disappointment, for they are always moving towards their object without attaining it. But perhaps it will repay our trouble to consider the reasons which came into consideration for and against the proposed connexion.
The main reason for it was that England must hinder an alliance between Spain and France, especially one in favour of the Queen of Scots. And certainly nothing had stood the English policy in Scotland in such stead as the good understanding with France. But much more seemed attainable if France and England were united for ever. They would then be able to compel the King of Spain to conclude a peace with the Netherlands which would secure them their liberties; and, if he did not observe it, they would have grounds for a common occupation of a part of the Provinces. If there should be any issue of the marriage, this would put an end to all attacks on Elizabeth's life, and greatly strengthen the attachment of her subjects.
But against it was the fact that this marriage would bring the Queen into disagreeable personal relations; and the country would be as unwilling to see a French king as it had once a Spanish one. And how would it be, if a son sprung from the marriage, to inherit both the French and the English throne? was England to be ruled by a viceroy? What an opposition the world would raise to the union of these mighty kingdoms, into what complications might it not lead! Scotland would again attach itself to the French: the Netherlands and the German princes would be alienated.
The members of the Privy Council, after they had weighed all these considerations, at last pronounced themselves on the whole against it. They recommended the continuance of the present system,—the support of the Protestants, especially in France, a good understanding with the King of Scotland, and the maintenance of religion and justice in England: thus they would be a match for every threat of the King of Spain63.
But that sovereign had one ally against whom these precautions could not suffice, the Order of Jesuits and the seminaries of English priests under its guidance. Young exiles from England, who were studying in the Universities of the Netherlands, to prevent the Catholic priesthood from perishing among the English at home, had been already in Alva's? time brought together in a college at Douay, which was then removed to Rheims as the revolt spread in the Netherlands. Pope Gregory XIII? was not content with supporting this institution by a monthly subsidy; he was ambitious of imitating Gregory the Great? and exercising a direct influence on England: he founded in Rome itself a seminary for the reconversion of that country. He made over for this purpose the old English hospital which was also connected with the memory of Thomas Becket?. The first students however fell out with each other, and there was seen in Rome the old antagonism of the 'Welsh' and the 'Saxons'; in the end the latter gained the upperhand, it was mainly their doing that the institution was given over to the Jesuits. Not long after its activity began. Each student on his reception was bound to devote his powers to spreading the Catholic doctrines in England; by April 1580 a company of thirteen priests was ready, after receiving the Pope's blessing, to set out with this object. The chief among them were Robert Parsons?, who passed into England disguised as a soldier, and Edmund Campion? as a merchant. The first went to Gloucester and Hereford, the other to Oxford and Northampton: they and the friends who followed them found everywhere a rich harvest64. It was arranged so that they arrived in the evening at the appointed houses of their friends: there they heard confessions and gave advice to the faithful. Early in the morning they preached, and then broke up again; it was customary to provide them an armed escort to guard them from any mischance.
Withal the forms of the church-service in England had been so arranged that it might remain practicable for the Catholics also to take part in it. How many had done so hitherto, perhaps with a rosary or a Catholic book of prayers in their hands! The chief effort of the seminarist priests, on their return to the country, was to put an end to this: they dissuaded intercourse with the Protestants even on indifferent matters. The Queen's statesmen were astonished to find how much the number of recusants increased all at once; from secret presses proceeded writings of an aggressive, and exceedingly malignant, character; in many places Elizabeth was again designated as illegitimate, a usurper, no longer as Queen. On this the repressive system, which had been already set in motion in consequence of Pope Pius V's? bull, was made more stringent; this is what has brought on the Queen's government the charge of cruelty. The Catholics too began to compose their martyrologies. One of the first priests whose execution they describe, Cuthbert Mayne?, was condemned by the jury for bringing the Bull with him into other people's houses together with some Agnus Dei65. Young people were condemned for trying to make their way to the foreign seminaries. On the wish of the missionaries Pope Gregory XIII explained the bull so far, that the excommunication pronounced in it against all who should obey the Queen's commands was meant to be in suspense till it was possible to execute it against the Queen herself on whom it continued to weigh66. This limitation however rather increased the danger. The Catholics could remain quiet till rebellion was possible, then it became a duty. The lawcourts now sought above all to make the accused priests declare themselves as to the validity of the bull and its obligation. Men held themselves justified in extreme severity against those who 'slip into the country at the instigation of the great enemy, the Pope, and poison the hearts of the subjects with pernicious doctrines67.' On this ground Campion met his death; Parsons escaped. Assuredly there were not so many executed as the Catholic world wished to reckon, but yet probably more than the statesmen of England admitted. They persisted that it was not a persecution for religion: and in fact the controverted questions lay mainly in the region of the conflict between Papacy and Monarchy: those executed were not so much martyrs of Catholicism as of the idea of the Papal supremacy over monarchs. But how closely connected are these ideas with each other! The priests for their part believed that they were dying for God and the Church. But the effect which the English government had in view was, with all its severity, not produced. We are assured on Catholic authority that in 1585 there were yet several hundred priests actively engaged. From their reports it is clear that they were still always counting on a complete victory. They vigorously pressed for the attempt at an invasion, which they represented as almost sure of success; 'for two-thirds of the English are still Catholic; the Queen has neither strong places nor disciplined troops: with 16,000 men she might be overthrown.' This time also the house of the Spanish ambassador, Bernardino Mendoza?, formed the meeting-point for these tendencies; he kept up a constant communication with the emigrants who had been declared rebels, and with the discontented at home, with Mary Stuart and her friends in Scotland, with the zealous Catholics throughout the world, especially with the Guises, with whom Philip II himself now had an understanding. The increasing power of his sovereign gained him also an ever-increasing consideration. It was in these days that the Western and Southern Netherlands were again subdued by King Philip. After the death of his brother? of Parma had formed an army of unmixed Catholic composition, which had naturally from its inner unity gained the upper hand over the government of the States, which had called now a German and now a French prince to its head, and was composed of different religions and nationalities. First the seaports, then the towns of Flanders, and at last the wealthy Antwerp also, which by its mental activity and commercial resources had materially nourished the revolt, fell into the hands of the Spaniards. The Prince of Orange was assassinated by a fanatic. Alexander of Parma, who ascribed his victories to the Virgin Mary, pushed on his conquests gradually till they reached the Northern and Eastern Provinces.
The reaction of these events, even while they were still in progress, was first felt in Scotland. There the young King James VI after many vicissitudes had, while still under age, taken the reins of government into his own hands: and a son of his great uncle, Esme Stuart? (who exchanged the title Aubigny which he brought from France for the more famous name of Lennox, and was a great friend of the Guises and the Jesuits) obtained the chief credit with him. Lennox promoted catholicism, which was not so difficult, as part of the nobility still adhered to it, at least in secret; he too lived and moved in comprehensive plans for the re-establishment of the Church. Through the Guises he hoped to be placed in a position to invade England with a Catholic army of 15,000 men; if the English Catholics then did their duty, everything they wanted could be attained: for himself he was resolved to liberate Mary or die in the attempt. Mary was also to reascend the Scotch throne: her son was to be co-regent with her, provided that he himself returned to the bosom of the Catholic Church. Mary Stuart with her indestructible energy was involved in these designs also. She commended them warmly to the Pope and the King of Spain: for it was precisely in Scotland that the universal re-establishment could best be begun68. She wished only to know on what resources in men and money her friends there might reckon. We must remember the situation and the peril of these schemes and preparations, if we would understand to some degree the violent measures on which the Protestant lords in Scotland resolved. As in a similar case of an earlier time in Germany, they closed the castle, in which King James was received, against his attendants: Lennox had to leave Scotland. But the young King was shrewd enough, and sufficiently well advised, to rid himself of the lords almost in the same way that they had taken him. He succeeded, chiefly through the help of the French ambassador, a friend of the Guises. Hereupon too he seemed much inclined to favour the undertaking with which Henry Guise? occupied himself in 1583, a scheme for a revolution in the affairs of both countries. Guise hoped, with the support of the King of Spain, the Pope, and the Duke of Bavaria, to be able to effect something decisive. James VI let his uncle know his full agreement with the proposed schemes. But, in fact, it did not seem to matter much whether he agreed or not. It was reported to Queen Mary, that the Catholic party in Scotland reckoned on having the most powerful king of Christendom? on their side, with or against James' will; that Philip II was building so many vessels that in a short time he would become completely master of the Western ocean, and be able to invade whatever countries he pleased.
It is evident how dangerous for England these Scotch movements were in themselves: Queen Elizabeth thought herself most vulnerable on the side of Scotland: moreover she already saw herself directly threatened. A plan fell into her hands, in which the number of ships and men necessary for an invasion of England, the harbours where they were to land, the places they were to seize, even the men on whose help they could reckon, were enumerated69. She convinced herself that the plan came from Mendoza, who held out the prospect of his King's assistance for the purpose, as the attack was to be made simultaneously from the Netherlands and from Spain. This time too Elizabeth dismissed the hostile ambassador; but how could she flatter herself with having thus exorcised the threatening elements? Now that the foe, with whom she had been for fifteen years at war—though not an open war yet one of which both sides were conscious—had become very much stronger, she was forced to take up a decisive position against him, to save herself from being overpowered.
In 1584 her chief minister, William Cecil, now Lord Burleigh, High Treasurer of the kingdom, drew her attention to this necessity. He represented to her that she had nothing to fear from any one in the world except from Spain—but from Spain everything. King Philip had gained more victories from his cabinet, than his father in all his campaigns: he ruled a nation which was thoroughly of one mind in religion, ambitious, brave, and resolute; he had a most devoted party among the discontented in England. The question for the Queen was, whether she hoped to tame the lion or whether she wished to bind him. She could not build on treaties, for the enemy would not keep them. And, if he was allowed to subdue the Netherlands completely, no one in the world could avoid seeing to what object his power would be directed. He advises the Queen not to let things go so far—for those countries were the counterscarp of England's fortress—but to proceed to open war, to withstand the Spaniards in the Netherlands and attack them in the Indies. 'Better now,' he exclaims, 'while the enemy has only one hand free, than later when he can strike with both70.' In August 1585 Antwerp fell into the hands of the Spaniards; in the capitulation the case is already taken into consideration, that Holland and Zealand also might submit. The Northern Netherlands were threatened from yet another side, as Zutphen and Nimuegen had just been taken by the Spaniards. In this extreme distress of her natural ally she delayed no longer. The sovereignty they offered her she refused anew, but she engaged to give considerable assistance, in return for which, as a security for her advances, the fortresses Vliessingen and Briel were given up into her possession. To prove how much she was in earnest in this, she entrusted the conduct of the war in the Netherlands to Dudley, Earl of Leicester?, who was still accounted her favourite and was one of the chief confidants of her policy. In December 1585 Leicester reached Vliessingen; on the 1st of January 1586, Francis Drake? appeared before St. Domingo and occupied it. The war had broken out by land and by sea.
How completely the circumstances of these times are misunderstood, when they are measured by the rules of an age of peace! Rather they were filled with hostilities in which politics and religion were mingled; foreign war was at the same time a domestic one. The religious confessions were at the same time political programmes.
The Queen took up arms not to make conquests, but to secure her very existence against a daily growing power that openly threatened her, before it had become completely an overmatch for her: she provoked an open war: but she had not done enough when she now, as is necessary in such cases, took into consideration the training of soldiers, securing the harbours, fortifying strong places, improving the navy: the most pressing anxiety arose from the general Catholic agitation in the country.
Elizabeth's statesmen were well aware that the sharp prosecution of the seminarist priests was not enough to put an end to it. With reference to the laity, the Lord Treasurer, however strict in other respects, recommends to his sovereign quite a different mode of proceeding. We should never proceed to capital punishment of such men: we should rather mitigate the oath imposed on them: in particular we should never force the nobles to a final decision between their religious inclinations and their political duties, never drive them to despair. But at the same time he gives a warning against awakening any hope in them that their demands could ever be satisfied, for this would only make them more obstinate. And on no consideration should arms be put into their hands. 'We do not wish to kill them, we cannot coerce them, but we dare not trust them.' Nothing would be more dangerous than to assume a confidence which was not really felt.
Even before this the Privy Council had recommended the Queen to employ Protestants only in the government of her State, and to exclude all Catholics from a share in it71. The before-mentioned 'Advice' of Lord Burleigh is remarkable for extending the Protestant interest and adding a popular one to it. He thinks it intolerable that the copyholders and tenants of the Catholic lords, even when they fulfil their obligations in all other respects, experience bad treatment from them on account of religion: it is impossible to let many thousand true subjects be dependent on such as have hostile intentions. The plan Henry VIII had once entertained, of diminishing the authority of the Lords, is now brought by the High Treasurer at this crisis once more into vivid recollection. The Queen is to bind the Commons to herself, to win over their hearts. And Burleigh advises allowing the followers of dissenting Protestant Churches, especially the Puritans, to worship as they please: in preaching and catechising they are more zealous than the Episcopalians, very far more successful in converting the people, and indispensable for weakening the popish party. We see how the necessity of the war acts on home affairs. The chief minister favoured the elements which were forcing their way out through the existing forms of the state.
In this general strain on men's minds their eyes once more turned to the Queen of Scots in her captivity. What would there have been at all to fear at other times from a princess under strong custody and cut off from all the world? But in the excitement of that age she could even so be still an object of apprehension. Her personal friends had from the first not seen a great mischance in her enforced residence in England. For by blameless conduct she refuted the evil report which had followed her thither from Scotland; and her right as heiress of the crown came to the knowledge of the whole nation72. In the days at which we have arrived we know with certainty that her presence in the country formed a great lever for Catholic agitation. A report found in the papal archives has been published, by which it is clear how much support men promised themselves from her for every resolute undertaking73. This document says that since she has numberless partisans, and although in prison has uninterrupted communication with them, she will always find means, when the time comes, of giving them notice of the approaching opportunity: she is resolved to encounter every hardship, nay even death itself, for the great cause74.
Occupied with measures of defence on all sides, the English government had already long been considering how to meet this danger. This was the very reason why Elizabeth's marriage was so often spoken of with popular approbation: if she had children, Mary's claims would lose their importance. Gradually however every man had to confess to himself that this was not to be expected, and on other grounds hardly to be wished. Then men thought how to solve the difficulty in another way.
The chief danger was this: if an attempt on Elizabeth's life succeeded, the supreme authority would devolve on Mary, who was on the spot, who cherished entirely opposite views, and would have at once realised them:—the thought occurred as early as 1579 of declaring by formal act of parliament that all persons by whom the reigning Queen should be in any way endangered or injured should forfeit any claim they might have to the crown75; terms which though general were in reality directed only against the Queen of Scots; at that time the proposal was not carried into effect. The negociations are not yet completely cleared up which were carried on with Mary in 1582-3 for her restoration in Scotland. The English once more repeated their old demand, that Mary should even now ratify the treaty of Edinburgh, and annul all that had been done in violation of it by her first husband or by herself. She was further not merely to renounce every design against the security and peace of England, but to pledge herself to oppose it: and in general, as long as Elizabeth was alive, to put forward no claim to the English throne: whether she had such a right after Elizabeth's death the parliament of England was to decide76. Here too the old view came into the foreground: Parliament was to be made the judge of hereditary right. The negociation failed owing to the Scotch intrigues of these years, in which the intention rather was to assert the claim of inheritance with the strong hand.
And from day to day new attempts on Elizabeth's life came to light. In 1584 Francis Throckmorton?, who took part in these very schemes, was executed: in 1585 Parry? also, who confessed having been in connexion with Mary's plenipotentiary in France, and who had come over to assassinate Queen Elizabeth. Writings were spread abroad in which those about her were called on to imitate, against this female Holofernes, the example set in the book of Judith.
Protestant England in the danger of its sovereign saw its own. In all churches prayers were offered for her safety. The most remarkable proof of this temper is contained in an association of individuals for defending the Queen, which was at that time subscribed to far and wide through the country. It begins with a statement that, to promote certain claims on the crown, the Queen's life was threatened in a highly treasonable manner, and enters into a union in God's name, in which each man pledges himself to the others, to combat with word and deed, and even to pursue with arms, all who should make any attempt on the Queen's person; and not to rest till these wretches were completely destroyed. If the attempt was so far successful as to raise a claim to the crown, they pledged themselves never to recognise such a claim: whoever broke this oath and separated himself from the association should be treated by the other members as a perjurer77.
The main object of this association was to cut off all prospect of the succession from any attempt in favour of the Queen of Scots: a great part of the nation pledged itself to reject a claim made good in this manner as exceptionable in every respect. The Parliament of 1585, many of whose members belonged to the association, not merely confirmed it formally: it now also expressly enacted, that persons in whose favour a rebellion should be attempted, and an attack on the Queen undertaken, should lose their right to the crown: if they themselves took part in any such plots, they were to forfeit their life. The Queen was empowered to appoint a commission of at least twenty-four members to judge of this offence.
These resolutions and unions were of a compass extending far beyond the present occasion, however weighty. How important the ecclesiastical contest had become in all questions concerning the supreme temporal power! That the deposition of Queen Elizabeth, pronounced by the Pope, had no effect was due to the Protestant tendencies of the country, and to the fact that her hereditary claim had been hitherto unassailed. But now it was a similar hereditary claim, made by Queen Mary, not, it is true, formally recognised, but also not rejected, on which the partisans of this princess based their chief hope. Mary herself, who always combined the most vivid dynastic feelings with her religious inclinations, in her letters and statements does not lay such stress on anything as on the unconditional validity of her claim to inherit the throne. When for instance her son rejected the joint government which she proposed to him, she remarked with striking acuteness that this involved an infringement of the maxims of hereditary right; since he rejected her authorisation to share in the government, and recognised as legitimate the refusal of obedience she had experienced from her rebellious subjects. Once she read in a pamphlet that people denied Queen Elizabeth the power to name a successor who was not of the Protestant faith: she wrote to her that the supreme power was of divine right, and raised high above all these considerations, and warned her against opinions of that kind which were avowed by some near her, and which might lead to the elective principle and become dangerous to herself. This could not fail to have an exactly opposite effect on Elizabeth. She was again threatened through the strict dynastic right that she also enjoyed: she needed some other additional support. Despite all inclination to the contrary, she decided to look for it in the Parliament. She likewise aimed at making Mary submit the validity of her claim to its previous decision. She could not but be thankful that her subjects pledged themselves not to recognise any right to the succession which was to be asserted by an attack on her life; she ratified the act by which Parliament gave these feelings a legal form. It is obvious how powerfully the rights of Parliament were thus advanced as against the absolute claim of the hereditary monarchy. In the course of the development of events this was to be the case in a still higher degree.
Mary rejected with horror the suspicion that she could take part in an attempt on Elizabeth's life: she wished to enrol herself in the Association for her security78. And who could have failed to believe at least that the threats against her own right and life, in case of a second attempt at assassination, would deter her partisans as well as herself from any thought of it! For they well understood the energy with which the Parliament knew how to vindicate its laws.
But it is vain to try to bridle men's passions by showing them their results. If the attempt on the Queen's life succeeded, this Parliament of course would be annihilated as well as the Queen herself, and another order of things begin.
In the seminary at Rheims the priests persuaded an English emigrant, called Savage, who had served in the army of the Prince of Parma, that he could not better secure himself eternal happiness than by ridding the world of the enemy of religion who was excommunicated by the holy father. Another English emigrant, Thomas Babington?, a young man of education and ambition, in whom throbbed the pulse of chivalrous devotion to Mary, was informed of this design by a priest of the seminary, and was fired with a kind of emulation which has something highly fantastic about it. Thinking that so great an enterprise ought not to be confided to one man, he sought and found new confederates for it; when the murder was effected, and the Spanish troops landed, he was to be the man who with a hundred sturdy comrades would free his Catholic Queen from prison and lead her to her throne. Mendoza at that time (and indeed by Mary's recommendation, as she tells us) was Spanish ambassador in France: he was in communication with Babington and strengthened him in his purpose. Of all the distinguished men of the age Mendoza is perhaps the one who took up most heartily the idea of uniting the French and Spanish interests, and advocated it most fervently. King Philip II was also informed of the design. He now, as he had done fifteen years before, declared his intention, if it succeeded, of making the invasion simultaneously from Spain and Flanders. The Queen's murder, the rising of the Catholics, and at the same moment a twofold invasion with trained troops would have certainly been enough to produce a complete revolution. The League was still victorious in France: Henry III would have been forced to join it: the tendencies of the strictest Catholicism would have gained a complete triumph.
If we enquire whether Mary Stuart knew of these schemes, and had a full understanding with the conspirators, there can be no doubt at all of it. She was in correspondence with Babington, whom she designates as her greatest friend. The letter is still extant in which she strengthens him in his purpose of calling forth a rising of the Catholics in the different counties, and that an armed one, with reasons for it true and false, and tells him how he may liberate herself. She reckons on a fine army of horse and foot being able to assemble, and making itself master of some harbours in which to receive the help expected not merely from Flanders and Spain, but also from France. In the letter we even come upon one passage which betrays a knowledge of the plot against Elizabeth's life; there is not a word against it, rather an approbation of it, though an indirect one79.
And we have yet another proof of her temper and views at this time lying before us. As the zeal of the Catholics for her claim to the succession might be weakened by the fact that her son in Scotland, on whom it naturally devolved, after all the hopes cherished on his behalf, still remained Protestant, she reverted to an idea that had once before passed through her mind: she pledged herself to bring matters in Scotland to such a point that her son should be seized and delivered into the hands of the King of Spain: he was then to be instructed in the Catholic faith and embrace it; if James had not done so at the time of her death, her claim on England was to pass to Philip II. Day and night, so she said, she bewailed her son's being so stiffnecked in his false faith: she saw that his succession in England would be the ruin of the country.
So it stands written in her letters: it is undeniable: but was that really her last and well-considered word? Was it her real wish that Elizabeth should be killed, her son disinherited notwithstanding her dynastic feelings, and that Philip II should become King of England? Were the Catholic-Spanish tendencies of Elizabeth's predecessor, Queen Mary Tudor, so completely reproduced in her?
I think we can hardly maintain this with full historic certainty. Mary Stuart was not altogether animated by hot religious zeal: if she had been, how could she formerly have left the Protestant lords in possession of power so long as she did, and even have once thought of marrying Leicester? with his Protestant views? Her son affirmed that he possessed letters from her, in which she approved of his religious views and confirmed him in them. It was not religious conviction and the abhorrence of any other faith, as in Mary Tudor, but her dynastic right and her self-confidence as sovereign that were the active and predominant motives in all the actions of Mary Stuart. And if there are contradictions in her utterances, we cannot hold her capable, like Catharine Medici, of taking up and secretly furthering two opposite plans at the same time; her different tendencies appear consecutively, not simultaneously, in exact accordance with her impulses. For Mary Stuart was never quiet an instant: even in her prison she shared in the movement of the world; her brain never ceased working; she was brooding over her circumstances, her distress and her hope, how to escape the one and realise the other: sometimes indeed there came a moment of resignation, but only soon to pass away again. She throws all her thoughts into her letters which, even if they are aiming at some object close at hand, are at the same time ebullitions of the moment, passionate effusions, productions of the imagination rather than of the understanding. Who could think such a letter possible as that in which she once sought to inform Elizabeth of the evil reports about her which the Countess of Shrewsbury made, and recounted a mass of scandalous anecdotes she had heard from her. The communication was meant to ruin the countess: Mary did not remark that it must also draw down the Queen's hatred on herself. No one would have dared even to lay the letter before the Queen. Mary's was a passionate nature, endowed with literary gifts: she let her pen run on without saying anything she did not really think at the instant, but without remembering in the least what lay beyond her momentary mood. Who will hold women of this character strictly to what stands in their letters? These are often as inconsiderate and contradictory as their words.
While Mary was writing the above-mentioned letters, she was completely taken up with the proposals made to her. She guarded herself from inserting anything that could hinder their being carried into effect: by the eventual transfer of her son's claims to the foreign King, all opposition on the part of zealous Catholics would be done away. Her hopes and wishes hurried her away with them, so that she lost sight of the danger in which she thus placed herself. And was she not a Queen, raised above the law? Who would take it on himself to attack her?
Mary Stuart was then under the charge of a strict Puritan, Sir Amyas Paulet?, of whom she complained that he treated her as a criminal prisoner and not as a queen. The government now allowed a certain relaxation in the external circumstances of her custody, but not in the strictness of the superintendence. There hardly exists another instance of such a striking contrast between projects and facts. Mary composes these letters full of far-ranging and dangerous schemes in the deepest secrecy, as she thinks, and has them carefully re-written in cipher: she has no doubt that they reach her friends safely by a secret way: but arrangements are made so that every word she writes is laid before the man whose business it is to trace out conspiracies, Walsingham?, the Secretary of State. He knows her ciphers, he even sees the letters that come for her before she does: while she reads them with haste and in hope of better fortune at hand, he is only waiting for her answer to use it against her as a decisive proof of her guilt.
Walsingham now found himself in possession of all the threads of the conspiracy; as soon as that letter to Babington was in his hands, he delayed no longer to arrest the guilty persons: they confessed, were condemned and executed. By further odious means—the prisoner being removed from her apartments on some pretence and the rooms then searched—possession was obtained of other papers which witnessed against her. Then the question could be laid before the Privy Council whether she should now be brought to trial and sentenced in due form.
Who had given the English Parliament any right to make laws which should be binding on a foreign queen, and in virtue of which, if she transgressed them, she could be punished with death? In fact these doubts were raised at the time80. Against them it was alleged that Mary, who had been forced to abdicate by her subjects and deprived of her dignity, could not be regarded any longer as a queen: while a deposed sovereign is bound by the laws of the land in which he resides. If she was still a queen, yet she was subject to the feudal supremacy of England, and because of her claim to its crown also subject to its sovereignty—two arguments that contradict each other, one of a feudal, the other of a popular character and closely connected with the idea of popular sovereignty. Whether the one or the other convinced any person, we do not hear; it was moreover not a matter for argument any longer.
For how could anything else be expected but that the judicial proceedings prepared several years before would now be put in force? A law had been passed calculated for this case, if it should occur. The case had occurred, and was proved by legal evidence. It was necessary for the satisfaction of the country and Parliament—and Walsingham laid particular stress on this—that the matter should be examined with full publicity.
The commission provided for in the Act of Parliament was named: it consisted of the chief statesmen and lawyers of the country. In Fotheringhay, whither the prisoner had now been brought, the splendid ancestral seat of the princes of the house of York, at which many of them were buried, they met together in the Hall on the 14th October. Mary let herself be induced to plead by the consideration that she would be held guilty, if she did not make any defence: it being understood that it was with the reserve that she did not by this give up any of the rights of a free sovereign. Most of the charges against her she gradually admitted to be true, but she denied having consented to a personal attempt on Elizabeth's life. The court decided that this made no essential difference. For the rebellion which Mary confessed to having favoured could not be conceived of apart from danger to the Queen of England's life as well as her government81. The court pronounced that Mary was guilty of the acts for which the punishment of death had been enacted in the Parliamentary statute.
We cannot regard this as a regular criminal procedure, for judicial forms were but little observed; it was the decision of a commission that the case had occurred in which the statute passed by Parliament found its application. Parliament itself, then just summoned, had the proceedings of the Commission laid before it and approved their sentence. But this did not bring the affair to an end. Queen Elizabeth deferred the execution of the judgment. For in relation to such a matter she occupied quite a different position from that of Parliament.
From more than one quarter she was reminded that, by carrying out the sentence, she would violate the divine right of kings; since this implied that subjects could not judge, or lay their hands on, sovereigns. How unnatural if a queen like herself should set her hand to degrade the diadem82.
In the Privy Council some were of opinion that, as Mary could not be regarded as the author of the last plot, but only as privy to it, closer imprisonment would be a sufficient punishment for her. Elizabeth caught at this idea. The Parliament, she thought, might now formally annul Mary's claim to the English throne, declare it to be high treason to maintain it any longer, and high treason also to attempt to liberate her from prison: this would deter her partisans from an attempt then become hopeless, and also satisfy foreign nations. But it was urged in reply, that now to repudiate Mary Stuart's claim for the first time would be equivalent to recognising its original validity; and an English law would make no impression either on Mary or on her partisans. The remembrance of what had happened in Scotland revived again; of Darnley's murder, which men imputed to her without hesitation: she was compared to Johanna I of Naples? who had taken part in her husband's murder: it was said, Mary has doubled her old guilt by attempts against the sacred person of the Queen; after she had been forgiven, she has relapsed into the same crime, she deserves death on many grounds83.
Spenser, in the great poem which has made him immortal, has depicted the conflict of accusations and excuses which this cause called forth. One of his allegorical figures, Zeal, accuses the fair and splendid lady, then on her trial, of the design of hurling the Queen from her throne, and of inciting noble knights to join in this purpose. The Kingdom's Care, Authority, Religion, Justice, take part with him. On the other side Pity, Regard for her high descent and her family, even Grief herself, raise their voices, and produce a contrary impression. But Zeal once more renews his accusation: he brings forward Adultery and Murder, Impiety and Sedition, against her. The Queen sitting upon the throne in judgment recognises the guilt of the accused, but shrinks from pronouncing the word: men see tears in her eyes; she covers her face with her purple robe.
Spenser appears here, as he usually does, an enthusiastic admirer of his Queen. But neither should we see hypocrisy in Elizabeth's scruples, which sprang much more from motives which touched her very nearly. She kept away from all company: she was heard to break her solitary meditation by uttering old proverbs that applied to the present case. More than once she spoke with the deputation of Parliament which pressed for a decision. What she mainly represented to them was, how hard it was for her, after she had pardoned so many rebellions, and passed over so much treason in silence, to let a princess be punished, who was her nearest blood-relation: men would accuse her, the Virgin Queen, of cruelty: she prayed them to supply her with another means, another expedient: nothing under the sun would be more welcome to her. The Parliament firmly insisted that there was no other expedient; it argued in detailed representations that the deliverance of the country depended on the execution of the sentence. The Queen's own security, the preservation of religion and of the state, made it absolutely necessary. Mary's life was the hope of all the discontented, whose plots were directed only to the object of enabling her to ascend the throne of England, to destroy the followers of the true religion, and expel the nobility of the land—that is the Protestant nobility. And must not satisfaction be given to the Association which was pledged to pursue a new attempt against the Queen's life even to death? 'Not to punish the enemy would be cruel to your faithful subjects: to spare her means ruin to us.'
Meanwhile they came upon the traces of a new attempt. In presence of the elder French ambassador, Aubespine?, a partisan of the Guises, mention was made of the necessity of killing Elizabeth in order to save Mary at the last moment. One of his officers spoke with a person who was known in the palace, and who undertook to pile up a mass of gunpowder under Elizabeth's chamber sufficient to blow it into the air; he was led to hope for rewards from Guise and his brother Mayenne?, whose interests would have been greatly promoted by such a deed84. But this time too Elizabeth was made acquainted with the design before it came to maturity. She ascribed her new danger to the silence, if not to the instigation, of the ambassador, the friend of the Guises: in its discovery she saw the hand of God. 'I nourish,' she exclaims, 'the viper that poisons me;—to save her they would have taken my life: am I to offer myself as a prey to every villain85?' At a moment when she was especially struck with the danger which threatened her from the very existence of her rival, after a conversation with the Lord Admiral?, she had the long-prepared order for the execution brought to her, and signed it with quick and resolute strokes of the pen.
The observation of Parliament, that her safety and the peace of the country required her enemy's death, at last gained the upper hand with her as well. But this did not imply that her conflicting feelings were completely silenced. She was haunted in her dreams by the idea of the execution. She had once more recourse to the thought that some serviceable hand might spare her the last authorisation, by secretly executing the sentence of the judges—an act which seemed to be justified even by the words of the Association; the demand was made in due form to the Keeper of the prisoner, Sir Amyas Paulet; he rejected it—and how could anything else have been expected from the conscientious Puritan —with an expression of his astonishment and indignation. Elizabeth had commissioned Secretary Davison?, when she signed the order, to have it sealed with the Great Seal. Her idea seems to have been that, when all the forms had been duly complied with, she might the more easily get a secret execution, or that at some critical moment it might be at once performed; but she still meant to keep the matter in her own hand: for the custom was, before the last step, to once more ask her approval. But Davison, who marked her hesitation, did not think it advisable at this moment. Through Hatton? he acquainted Lord Burleigh with the matter, and Burleigh put the question to the other members of the Privy Council: they took it on themselves to despatch the order, signed and sealed as it now was, without further delay to Fotheringhay?86.
On the 8th of February 1557 it was executed on Mary in the very hall where the sittings of the court had been held. As compared with Elizabeth's painful disquiet, who shrank from doing what she held to be necessary, and when she at last did it wished it again undone and thought she could still recall it, the composure and quiet of soul, with which Mary submitted to the fate now finally decided, impresses us very deeply. The misfortune of her life was her claim to the English crown. This led her into a political labyrinth, and into those entanglements which were connected with her disastrous marriage, and then, through its combination with the religious idea, into all the guilt which is imputed to her more or less justly. It cost Mary her country and her life. Even on the scaffold she reminded men of her high rank which was not subject to the laws: she thought the sentence of heretics on her, a free queen, would be of service to the kingdom of God. She died in the royal and religious ideas in which she had lived.
It is undeniable that Elizabeth was taken by surprise at this news: she was heard sobbing as though a heavy misfortune had befallen herself. It may be that her grief was lightened by a secret satisfaction: who would absolutely deny it? But Davison had to atone for taking the power into his own hands by a long imprisonment: the indispensable Burleigh hardly obtained pardon. In the city on the other hand bells were rung and bonfires kindled. For the universal popular conviction agreed with the judgment of the court, that Mary had tried to deliver the kingdom into the hands of Spaniards.
At this moment the war with the Spaniards—the resistance which the English auxiliaries offered to them in the Netherlands, as well as the attack now being made on their coasts—occupied men's minds all the more, as the success of both the one and the other was very doubtful, and a most dangerous counter-stroke was to be expected. The lion they wished to bind had only become exasperated. The naval war in particular provoked the extreme of peril.
Hostilities had been going on a long while, arising at first from the privateering which filled the whole of the Western Ocean. The English traders held it to be their right to avenge every injustice done them on their neighbours' coasts—for man has, they said, a natural desire of procuring himself satisfaction—and so turned themselves into freebooters. Through the counter operations of the Spaniards this private naval war became more and more extensive, and then also gradually developed more glorious impulses, as we see in Francis Drake?, who at first only took part in the mere privateering of injured traders, and afterwards rose to the idea of a maritime rivalry between the nations. It was an important moment in the history of the world when Drake on the isthmus of Panama first caught sight of the Pacific, and prayed God for His grace that he might sail over this sea some day in an English ship—a grace since granted not merely to himself but also in the richest measure to his nation. Many companies were formed to resume the voyages of discovery already once begun and then again discontinued. And as the Spaniards based their exclusive right to the possession of the other hemisphere on the Pope's decision, Protestant ideas, which mocked at this supremacy of the Romish See over the world, now contributed also to impel men to occupy lands in these regions. This was always effected in the main by voluntary efforts of wealthy mercantile houses, or enterprising members of the court and state, to whom the Queen gave patents of authorisation. In this way Walter Ralegh, in his political and religious opposition to the Spaniards, founded an English colony on the transatlantic continent, in Wingandacoa: the Queen was so much pleased at it that she gave the district a name which was to preserve the remembrance of the quality she was perhaps proudest of: she called it Virginia87.
But at last she formally undertook the naval war; it was at the same time a motive for the league with the Hollanders, who could do excellent service in it: by attacking the West Indies she hoped to destroy the basis of the Spanish greatness.
Francis Drake was commissioned to open the war. When, in October 1585, he reached the Islas de Bayona on the Gallician coast, he informed the governor, Don Pedro Bermudez, that he came in his Queen's name to put an end to the grievances which the English had had to suffer from the Spaniards. Don Pedro answered, he knew nothing of any such grievances: but, if Drake wished to begin war, he was ready to meet him.
Francis Drake then directed his course at once to the West Indies. He surprised St. Domingo and Carthagena, occupied both one and the other for a short time, and levied heavy contributions on them. Then he brought back to England the colonists from Virginia, who were not yet able to hold their own against the natives. The next year he inflicted still more damage on the Spaniards. He made his way into the harbour of Càdiz, which was full of vessels that had either come from both the Indies or were proceeding thither: he sank or burnt them all. His privateers covered the sea. Often already had the Spaniards planned an invasion of England. The most pressing motive of all lay in these maritime enterprises. The Spaniards remarked that the stability and power of their monarchy did not rest so much on the strong places they possessed in all parts of the world as on the moveable instruments of dominion by which the connexion with them was kept up; the interruption of the communication, caused by Francis Drake and his privateers, between just the most important points on the Spanish and the Netherlandish coasts, seemed to them unendurable: they desired to rid themselves of it at any price. And to this was now added the general cry of vengeance for the execution of the Queen of Scots, which was heard from the pulpit in the presence of the King himself. But this was not the only result of that event. The life of Queen Mary and her claim to the succession had always stood in the way of Spanish ambition: now Philip II could think of taking possession of the English throne himself. He concluded a treaty with Pope Sixtus V?, under which he was to hold the crown of England as a fief of the Holy See, which would thus, and by the re-establishment of the Church's authority, have also attained to the revival of its old feudal supremacy over England88.
Once more the Spanish monarchy and the Papacy were closely united in their spiritual and political claims. Sixtus V excommunicated the Queen afresh, declared her deposed, and not merely released her subjects from their oath of allegiance, but called on every man to aid the King of Spain and his general the Duke of Parma? against her.
Negociations for peace however were still being carried on in 1587 between Spanish and English plenipotentiaries. It was mainly the merchants of London and Antwerp that urged it; and as the Spaniards at that time had manifestly the best of the struggle, were masters of the lower Rhine and the Meuse, had invaded Friesland, had besieged and at last taken Sluys in despite of all resistance, we can understand how the English plenipotentiaries were moved to unexpected concessions. They would have consented to the restoration of the Spanish supremacy over the northern Netherlands, if Philip would have granted the inhabitants freedom of conscience. Alexander of Parma brought forward a proposal, to make, it is true, their return to Catholicism obligatory, but with the assurance that no Inquisition should be set over them, nor any one punished for his deviation from the faith. Even if the negociation was not meant to be completely in earnest, it is worth remarking on what rock it was wrecked. Philip II would neither grant such an assurance, which in its essence involved freedom of conscience, nor grant this itself completely in a better form. His strength lay precisely in his maintaining the Catholic system with unrelenting energy: by this he secured the attachment of the priests and the zealous laity. And how could he, at a moment when he was so closely united with the Pope, and could reckon on the millions heaped up in the castle of St. Angelo for his enterprise, so completely deviate from the strictness of exclusive belief. He thought he was within his right when he refused any religious concession, seeing that every other sovereign issued laws prescribing the religion of his own territories89.
If the war was to be continued, Alexander of Parma would have wished that all his efforts should be first directed against Vliessingen [Flushing], where there was an English garrison; from the harbour there England itself could be attacked far more easily and safely. But it was replied in Spain that this enterprise was likewise very extensive and costly, while it would bring about no decisive result. And yet Alexander himself too held an invasion of England to be absolutely necessary; his reports largely contributed to strengthen the King in this idea; Philip decided to proceed without further delay to the enterprise that was needful at the moment and opened world-wide prospects for the future.
He took into consideration that the monarchy at this moment had nothing to fear from the Ottomans who were fully occupied with a Persian war, and above all that France was prevented from interfering by the civil strife that had broken out. This has been designated as the chief aim of Philip's alliance with the Guises, and it certainly may have formed one reason for it. Left alone, with only herself to rely on (so the Spaniards further judged), the Queen of England would no longer be an object of fear: she had no more than forty ships; once in an engagement off the Azores, in the Portuguese war, the English had been seen to give way for the first time: if it came to a sea-fight, the vastly superior Spanish Armada would without doubt prove victorious. But for a war on land also she was not prepared, she had no more than six thousand real soldiers in the country, with whom she could neither meet nor resist the veteran troops of Spain in the open field. They had only to march straight on London; seldom was a great city, which had remained long free from attack, able to hold out against a sudden assault: the Queen would either be forced to make a peace honourable to Spain, or would by a long resistance give the King an opportunity of forming out of the Spanish nobility, which would otherwise degenerate in indolence at home, a young troop of brave warriors. He would have the Catholics for him and with their help gain the upper hand, he would make himself master of the strong places, above all of the harbours; all the nations of the world could not take them from him again; he would become lord of the ocean, and thus lord and master of the continent90.
Philip II would have preferred to begin the work as early as the autumn of 1587. He hoped at that time that Scotland, where the Catholic lords and the people showed a lively sympathy with Queen Mary's fate, would be thrown open to him by her son, who was supposed to wish to avenge her death. But to others this seemed not so certain; in especial the experienced Admiral Santa Cruz? called the King's attention to the perils the fleet might incur in those seas: they would have to contend with contrary winds, and the disadvantage of short days and thick mists. Santa Cruz did not wish to endanger his fame, the only thing he had earned during a long life, by an ill-timed or very venturous undertaking. He held an invasion of England to be more difficult than most other enterprises, and demanded such preparations as would make the victory certain. While they were being made he died, after having lost his sovereign's favour. His successor, the duke of Medina Sidonia?, whom the King chose because he had distinguished himself at the last defence of Cadiz, did not make such very extensive demands; but the fleet, which was fitted out under him and by him, was nevertheless, though not in number of ships (about 130), yet in tonnage, size, and number of men on board (about 22,000) the most important that had ever been sent to sea by any European power. All the provinces of the Pyrenean peninsula had emulously contributed to it: the fleet was divided into a corresponding number of squadrons; the first was the Portuguese, then followed the squadrons of Castille, Andalusia, Biscay, Guipuzcoa, and then the Italian—for ships and men had come also in good number from Italy. The troops were divided like the squadrons; there was a 'Mass in time of war' for each province.
With not less zeal did men arm in the Netherlands; the drum beat everywhere in the Flemish and Walloon provinces, all roads were covered with military trains. In the Netherlands too there were a great number of Italians, Corsicans and inhabitants of the States of the Church and Neapolitans, in splendid accoutrements; there were the brothers of the grand duke of Tuscany and of the duke of Savoy: King Philip had even allowed the son of a Moorish prince to take part in the Catholic expedition. Infantry and cavalry also had come from Catholic Germany.
It was a joint enterprise of the Spanish monarchy and a great part of the Catholic world, headed by the Pope and the King, to overthrow the Queen who was regarded as the Head, and the State which was regarded as the main support, of Protestantism and the anti-Spanish policy.
We do not find any detailed and at the same time authentic information as to the plan of the invasion; a Spanish soldier and diplomatist however, much employed in the military and political affairs of the time, and favoured with the confidence of the highest persons, J. Baptista de Tassis?, gives us an outline, which we may accept as quite trustworthy. We know that in Antwerp, Nieuport, and Dunkirk, with the advice of Hanseatic and Genoese master-builders, transports had been got ready for the whole force: from Nieuport (to which place also were brought the vessels built at Antwerp) 14,000 men were to be conveyed across to England, and from Dunkirk 12,000. But where were they to effect a junction with each other and with the Spaniards? Tassis assures us that they had selected for this purpose the roadstead of Margate on the coast of Kent, a safe and convenient harbour91; there immediately after the Spanish armada had arrived, or as nearly as possible at the same time with it, the fleet of transports from the Netherlands also was to make the shore, and Alexander of Parma was then to assume the command in chief of the whole force and march straight on London.
All that Philip II had ever thought or planned was thus concentrated as it were into one focus. The moment was come when he could subdue England, become master of the European world, and re-establish the Catholic faith in the form in which he professed it. When the fleet (on the 22nd July 1588) sailed out of Corunna, and the long-meditated, long-prepared, enterprise was now set in action, the King and the nation displayed deep religious emotion: in all the churches of the land prayers were offered up for forty days; in Madrid solemn processions were arranged to our Lady of Atocha, the patroness of Spain: Philip II spent two hours each day in prayer. He was in the state of silent excitement which an immense design and the expectation of a great turn in a man's fortune call forth. Scarcely any one dared to address a word to him.
It was in these very days that people in England first really became conscious of the danger that threatened them. A division of the fleet under Henry Seymour? was watching, with Dutch assistance, the two harbours held by the prince of Parma: the other and larger division, just returned from Spain and on the point of being broken up, made ready at Plymouth, under the admiral, Howard of Effingham?, to receive the enemy. Meanwhile the land forces assembled, on Leicester's advice92, in the neighbourhood of London. The old feudal organisation of the national force was once more called into full activity to face this danger. Men saw the gentry take the field at the head of their tenants and copyholders, and rejoiced at their holding together so well. It was without doubt an advantage, that the threatened attack could no longer be connected with a right of succession recognised in the country; it appeared in its true character, as a great invasion by a foreign power for the subjugation of England. Even the Catholic lords came forward, among them Viscount Montague? (who had once, alone in the Upper House, opposed the Supremacy, and had also since not reconciled himself to the religious position of the Queen), with his sons and grandsons, and even his heir-presumptive who, though still a child, bestrode a war-horse; Lord Montague said, he would defend his Queen with his life, whoever might attack her, king or pope. No doubt that these armings left much to be desired, but they were animated by national and religious enthusiasm. Some days later the Queen visited the camp at Tilbury: with slight escort she rode from battalion to battalion. A tyrant, she said, might be afraid of his subjects: she had always sought her chief strength in their good will: with them she would live and die. She was everywhere received with shouts of joy: psalms were sung, and prayers offered up in which the Queen joined.
For, whatever may be men's belief, in great wars and dangers they naturally turn their eyes to the Eternal Power which guides our destiny, and on which all equally feel themselves dependent. The two nations and their two chiefs alike called on God to decide in their religious and political conflict. The fortune of mankind hung in the balance.
On the 31st July, a Sunday, the Armada, covering a wide extent of sea, came in sight of the English coast off the heights of Plymouth. On board the fleet itself it was thought most expedient to attempt a landing on the spot, since there were no preparations made there for defence and the English squadron was not fully manned. But this was not in the plan, and would, especially if it failed, have incurred a heavy responsibility. Medina Sidonia was only empowered and prepared to accept battle by sea if the English should offer it. His galleys, improved after the Venetian pattern, and especially his galleons (immense sailing ships which carried cannon on their different decks on all sides), were without doubt superior to the vessels of the English. When the latter, some sixty sail strong, came out of the harbour, he hung out the great standard from the fore-mast of his ship as a signal for all to prepare for battle. But the English admiral did not intend to let matters come to a regular naval fight. He was perfectly aware of the superiority of the Spanish equipment and had even forbidden boarding the enemies' vessels. His plan was to gain the weather-gauge of the Armada, and inflict damage on them in their course, and throw them into disorder. The English followed the track of the Armada in four squadrons, and left no advantage unimproved that might offer. They were thoroughly acquainted with this sea, and steered their handy vessels with perfect certainty and mastery: the Spaniards remarked with dissatisfaction that they could at pleasure advance, attack, and again break off the engagement. Medina Sidonia was anxious above all things to keep his Armada together: after a council of war he let a great ship which lagged behind fall into the hands of the enemy, as her loss would be less damaging than the breaking up of the line which would result from the attempt to save her: he sent round his sargentes mayores to the captains to tell them not to quit the line on pain of death93.
On the whole the Spaniards were not discontented with their voyage, when after a week of continuous skirmishing they, without having sustained any very considerable losses, had traversed the English channel, and on Saturday the 6th August passed Boulogne and arrived off Calais: it was the first point at which they had wished to touch. But now to cross to the neighbouring coast of England, as seems to have been the original plan, became exceedingly difficult, because the English fleet guarded it, and the Spanish galleons were less able in the straits than elsewhere to compete with those swift vessels. It was also being strengthened every moment; the young nobility emulously hastened on board. But neither could the admiral proceed to Dunkirk, as the harbour was then far too narrow to receive his large ships, and his pilots were afraid of being carried to the northward by the currents. He anchored in the roadstead east of Calais in the direction of Dunkirk.
He had already previously informed the Duke of Parma that he was on the way, and had then, immediately before his arrival at Calais, despatched a pilot to Dunkirk, to request that he would join him with a number of small vessels, that they might better encounter the English, and bring with him cannon balls of a certain calibre, of which he began to fall short94. It is clear that he still wished to undertake from thence, if supported according to his views, the great attempt at a disembarkation which he was commissioned to effect. But Alexander of Parma, whom the first message had found some days before at Bruges, had not yet arrived at Dunkirk when the second came: the preparations for embarking were only then just begun for the first time; and they could scarcely venture actually to embark, as English and Dutch ships of war were still ever cruising before the harbour.
Alexander Farnese's failure to effect a junction with Medina Sidonia has been always traced to personal motives; it was even said in England, at a later time, that Queen Elizabeth had offered him the hand of Lady Arabella Stuart?, which might open the way to the English throne for himself. It is true that his enterprises in the Netherlands appeared to lie closest to his heart; even Tassis, who was about his person, remarks that he carried on his preparations more out of obedience than with any zeal of his own. But the chief cause why the two operations were not better combined lay in their very nature. The geographical relation of the Spanish monarchy to England would have required two separate invasions, the one from the Pyrenean peninsula, the other from the Netherlands. The wish to combine the forces of such distant countries in a single invasion made the enterprise, especially when the means of communication of the period were so inadequate, overpoweringly helpless. Wind and weather had been little considered in the scheme. In both those countries immense materials of war had been collected with extreme effort; they had been brought within a few miles of sea of each other, but combine they could not. Now for the first time came to light the full superiority which the English gained from their corsair-like and bold method of war, and their alliance with the Dutch. It was seen that a sudden attack would suffice to break the whole combination in pieces: Queen Elizabeth was said to have herself devised the plan and its arrangement.
The Armada was still lying at anchor in line of battle, waiting for news from Alexander Farnese, when in the night between Sunday and Monday (7th to 8th August) the English sent some fireships, about eight in number, against it. They were his worst vessels which Lord Howard gave up for this purpose, but their mere appearance produced a decisive result. Medina Sidonia could not refuse his ships permission to slip their anchors, that each might avoid the threatening danger: only he commanded them to afterwards resume their previous order. But things wore a completely different appearance the following morning. The tide had carried the vessels towards the land, a direction they did not want to take; now for the first time the attacks of the English proved destructive to them: part of the ships had become disabled: it was completely impossible to obey the admiral's orders that they should return to their old position. Instead of this, unfavourable winds drove the Armada against its will along the coast; in a short time the English too gave up the pursuit of the enemy, who without being quite beaten was yet in flight, and abandoned him to his fate. The wind drove the Spaniards on the shoals of Zealand: once they were in such shallow water that they were afraid of running aground: some of their galleons in fact fell into the hands of the Dutch. Fortunately for them the wind veered round first to the W.S.W., then to the S.S.W., but they could not even then regain the Channel, nor would they have wished it; only by the longest circuit, round the Orkney Islands, could they return to Spain.
A storm fraught with ruin had lowered over England: it was scattered before it discharged its thunder. So completely true is the expression on a Dutch commemorative medal, 'the breath of God has scattered them ' (flavit et dissipati sunt).
Philip II saw the Armada, which he had hoped would give the dominion of the world into his hand, return home again in fragments without having, we do not say accomplished but even, attempted anything worth the trouble. He did not therefore renounce his design. He spoke of his wish to fit out lighter vessels, and entrust the whole conduct of the expedition to the Prince of Parma. The Cortes of Castille requested him not to put up with the disgrace incurred, but to chastise this woman: they offered him their whole property and all the children of the land for this purpose. But the very possibility of great enterprises belongs only to one moment: in the next it is already gone by.
First the Spanish forces were drawn into the complications existing in France. The great Catholic agitation, which had been long fermenting there, at last gained the upper hand, and was quite ready to prepare the way for Philip II's supremacy. But Queen Elizabeth thought that the day on which France fell into his hands would be the eve of her own ruin. She too therefore devoted her best resources to France, to uphold Philip II's opponent. When Henry IV, driven back to the verge of the coast of Normandy, was all but lost, he was by her help put in a position to maintain his cause. At the sieges of the great towns, in which he was still often threatened with failure, the English troops in several instances did excellent service. The Queen did not swerve from her policy even when Henry IV saw himself compelled, and found it compatible with his conscience, to go over to Catholicism. For he was clearly thus all the better enabled to re-establish a France that should be politically independent, in opposition to Spain and at war with it; and it was exactly on this opposition that the political freedom and independence of England herself rested. Yet as his change of religion had been disagreeable to the Queen, so was also the peace which he proceeded to make; she exerted her influence against its conclusion. But as by it the Spaniards gave up the places they occupied on the French coasts, which in their possession had menaced England as well, she could not in reality be fundamentally opposed to it.
These great conflicts on land were seconded by repeated attacks of the English and Dutch naval power, by which it sometimes seemed as if the Spanish monarchy would be shaken to its foundations. Elizabeth made an attempt to restore Don Antonio? to the throne from which Philip II had driven him. But the minds of the Portuguese themselves were very far from being as yet sufficiently prepared for a revolt: the enterprise failed, in an attack on the suburbs of Lisbon. The war interested the English most deeply. Parliament agreed to larger and larger grants: from two-fifteenths and a single subsidy (about £30,000), which was its usual vote, it rose in 1593 to three subsidies and six-fifteenths; the towns gladly armed ships at their own expense, and sailors enough were found to man them: the national energy turned towards the sea. And they obtained some successes. In the harbour of Corunna they destroyed the collected stores, which were probably to have served for renewing the expedition. Once they took the harbour of Cadiz and occupied the city itself: more than once they alarmed and endangered the West Indies. But with all this nothing decisive was effected; the Spanish monarchy maintained an undoubted ascendancy in Europe, and the exclusive possession of the other hemisphere: it was the Great Power of the age. But over against it England also now took up a strong and formidable position.
Events in France exercised a strong counter-action on the Netherlands; under their influence the reconquest of the United Provinces became impossible for Spain. Elizabeth also contributed largely to the victories by which Prince Maurice? of Orange secured a strong frontier. But these could not prevent a powerful Catholic government arising on the other side in the Belgian provinces: and though they were at first kept apart from Spain, yet it did not escape the Queen that this would not last for ever: she seems to have had a foreboding that these countries would become the battleground of a later age. However this might be, the antagonism of principle between the Catholic Netherlands (which were still ruled by the Austro-Spanish House) and the Protestant Netherlands (in which the Republic maintained itself), and the continued war between them, ensured the security of England, for the sake of which the Queen had broken with Spain. Burleigh's objects were in the main attained.
Every great historic existence has a definite purport; the life of Queen Elizabeth lies in the transactions already recorded, and their results in the change of policy which she brought about.
The issue of the war between the hierarchy, which had once swayed every act and thought of the West, and those who had fallen off from it was not yet decided as long as England with its power vacillated between the two systems. Then this Queen came forward, attaching herself to the new view as by a predetermined destiny; she carried it out in a form answering to the historical institutions of her kingdom, and with an energy by which she at the same time upheld that kingdom's power. It was against her therefore that the hierarchy, when it could renew the contest, mainly directed its most energetic efforts: an author of the period makes those leagued with the Pope against the Queen say to each other, 'come let us kill her, and the inheritance shall be ours.' The chief among these was the mighty King who had himself once ruled England. She maintained a war with this league, in which it was at each moment a question of existence for her. She was assailed with all the weapons of war and of treason; but she adopted corresponding means of defence against every assault: she not only maintained herself, but created in the neighbouring countries a powerful representation of the principle which she had taken up, without pressing the adoption of a form for it exactly like her own. Without her help the church-reformation in Scotland, and at that time in France, would have been probably suppressed, and in the Netherlands it would have never taken actual shape. The Queen is the champion of West-European Protestantism and of all the political growth that was attached to the new faith. She herself expresses her astonishment at her success in this: 'more at the fact,' she says once, 'that I am still alive, than that my enemies would not have me to live.' That Philip effected so little against her, she believes to be due above all to God's justice; for the King attacked her in an unkingly manner while negociations were still going on: she sees in this a proof that an ill beginning leads to a disgraceful end, despite all power and endeavour. 'What was to ruin me, has turned to my glory95.'
It is surely the greatest happiness that can be granted to any human being, while defending his own interest, to be maintaining the interests of all. Then his personal existence expands into a central part of the world's history.
That personal and universal interest was likewise a thoroughly English one. Commerce grew amidst arms: the maintenance of internal peace filled the country with wellbeing and riches; palaces were seen rising where before only huts had stood: as the philosophic Bacon? remarks, England now won her natural position in the world.
Elizabeth was one of those sovereigns who have beforehand formed an idea for themselves as to the duties of government. Four qualities, she says once, seemed to her necessary for it: justice and self-control, highmindedness and judgment; she might pride herself on the two first: never in a case of equal rights had she favoured one person more than another: never had she believed a first report, but waited for fuller knowledge: the two others she would not claim for herself, for they were men's virtues. But the world ascribed a high degree of these very virtues to her. Men descried her subtle judgment in the choice of her servants, and the directing them to the services for which they were best fitted. Her high heart was seen in her despising small advantages, and in her unshaken tranquillity in danger. While the storm was coming on from Spain, no cloud was seen on her brow: by her conduct she animated nobles and people, and inspirited her councillors. Men praised her for two things, for zealous participation in deliberation and for care in seeing that what was decided on was carried into effect96.
But we may not look for an ideal female ruler in Queen Elizabeth. No one can deny the severities which were practised under her government even with her knowledge. The systematic hypocrisy imputed to her may seem an invention of her enemies or of historians not thoroughly informed; she herself declares truthfulness a quality indispensable for a prince; but in her administration, as well as in that of most other rulers, reasonings appear which rather conceal the truth than express it; in each of her words, and in every step she took, we perceive a calculation of what is for her advantage; she displays striking foresight and even a natural subtlety. Elizabeth wass very accessible to flattery, and as easily attracted by an agreeable exterior as repelled by slight accidental defects; she could break out at a word that reminded her of the transitory nature of human affairs or of her own frailty: vanity accompanied her from youth to those advancing years, which she did not wish to remark or to think were remarked. She liked to ascribe successes to herself, disasters to her ministers: they had to take on themselves the hatred felt against disagreeable or doubtful regulations, and if they did not do this quite in unison with her mood, they had to fear her blame and displeasure. She was not free from the fickleness of her family: but on the other hand she displayed also the amiable attention of a female ruler: as when once during a speech she was making in a learned language to the learned men of Oxford, on seeing the Lord Treasurer? standing there with his lame foot, she suddenly broke off, ordered a chair to be brought him, and then continued; indeed it was said she at the same time wished to let it be remarked that no accident could discompose her. As Harrington?, who knew her from personal acquaintance, expresses himself: her mind might be sometimes compared to a summer morning sky, beneficent and refreshing: then she won the hearts of all by her sweet and modest speech. but she was repellent in the same degree in her excited state, when she paced to and fro in her chamber, anger in every look, rejection in every word: men hastened out of her way. Among other correspondence we learn to know her from that with King James of Scotland,—one side of her political relations, to which we shall return:—how does every sentence express a mental and moral superiority as well as a political one! not a superfluous word is there: all is pith and substance. From care for him and intelligent advice she passes to harsh blame and most earnest warning: she is kind and sharp, friendly and rough, but almost ever more repellent and unsparing than mild. Never had any sovereign a higher idea of his dignity, of the independence belonging to him by the laws of God and man, of the duty of obedience binding on all subjects. She prides herself on no external consideration influencing her resolutions, threats or fear least of all; when once she longs for peace, she insists on its not being from apprehension of the enemy, but only from abhorrence of bloodshed. The action of life does not develop merely the intellectual powers: between success and failure, in conflict and effort and victory, the character moulds itself and acquires its ruling tone. Her immense good fortune fills her with unceasing self-confidence, which is at the same time sustained by trust in the unfailing protection of Providence97. That she, excommunicated by the Pope, maintains herself against the attacks of half the world, gives her whole action and nature a redoubled impress of personal energy. She does not like to mention her father or her mother: of a successor she will not hear a word. The feeling of absolute possession is predominant in her appearance. It is noticeable how on festivals she moves in procession through her palace: in front are nobles and knights in the costume of their order, with bared heads; next the bearers of the insignia of royalty, the sceptre, the sword, and the great seal: then the Queen herself in a dress covered with pearls and precious stones; behind her ladies, brilliant in their beauty and rich attire: to one or two, who are presented to her, she reaches out her hand to kiss as she goes by in token of favour, till she arrives at her chapel, where the assembled crowd hails her with a 'God save the Queen,' she returning them thanks with gracious words. Elizabeth received the whole reverence, once more unbounded, which men paid to the supreme power. The meats of which she was to eat were set on the table with bended knee, even when she was not present. It was on their knees that men were presented to her98.
Between a sovereign like this and her Parliament points of contention could not be wanting. The Commons claimed the privilege of absolute freedom of speech, and repeatedly attacked the abuses which still remained in the episcopal Church, and the injurious monopolies which profited certain favoured persons. The Queen had members of the Lower House imprisoned for speeches disagreeable to her: she warned them not to interfere in the affairs of the Church, and even not in those of the State, and declared it to be her prerogative to summon and dissolve Parliament at her pleasure, to accept or reject its measures. But with all this she still did not on the other hand conceal that, in reference to the most important affairs of State, she had to pay regard to the tone of the two Houses: however much she might be loved, yet men's minds are easily moved and not thoroughly trustworthy. In its forms Parliament studied to express the devotion which the Queen claimed as Queen and Lady, while she tried to make amends for acts by which the assembly had been previously offended: for statements of grievances, as in the instance of the monopolies, she even thanked them, as for a salutary reminder. A French ambassador remarks in 1596 that the Parliament in ages gone by had great authority, but now it did all the Queen wished. Another? who arrived in 1597 is not merely astonished at its imposing exterior, but also at the extent of its rights. Here, says he, the great affairs are treated of, war and peace, laws, the needs of the community and the mode of satisfying them99. The one statement is perhaps as true as the other. The solution of the contradiction depends on this, that Queen and Parliament were united as to the general relations of the country and the world. The Queen, as is self-evident, could not have ruled without the Parliament: from the beginning of her government she supported herself by it in the weightiest affairs; but a simple consideration teaches us how much on the other hand Parliament owed precisely to that introduction into these great questions, which the Queen thought advisable. They avoided, and were still able to avoid, any enquiry into their respective rights and the boundaries of those rights. And besides Elizabeth guarded herself from troubling her Parliament too much by demands for money. She has been often blamed for her economy which sometimes became inconvenient in public affairs: as in most cases, nature and policy here also coincided. That she was sparing of money, and once was actually in a condition to decline a grant offered her, gave the administration an independence of any momentary moods of Parliament, which suited her whole nature, and without this might have been easily lost.
William Cecil, Lord Burleigh, her treasurer, as economical as herself, was likewise her first minister. He had assisted her with striking counsel even before her accession, and since lived and moved in her administration of the state. He was one of those ministers who find their calling in a boundless industry,—he needed little sleep, long banquets were not to his taste100: never was he seen inactive even for half an hour; he kept notes of everything great and small; business accompanied him even to his chamber, and to his retirement at S. Theobald's. His anxious thoughts were visible in his face, as he rode on his mule along the roads of the park; he only lost sight of them for a moment when he was sitting at table among his growing children: then his heavy eyebrows cleared up, light merriment even came from his lips. Every other charm of life lay far from him: for poetry and poets he had no taste, as Spenser was once made to feel: in literature he patronised only what was directly useful; he recommended no one except for his being serviceable. Magnanimous he was not; he was content with being able to say to himself, that he drew no advantage from any one's ill fortune. He was designated even then as the man who set the English state in motion: this he always denied, and sought his praise in the fact that he carried out the views of the Queen, as she adopted them after hearing the plans proposed or even after respectful remonstrances. He had to bear many a slander: most of the reproaches made against him he brought himself to endure quietly: but if, he said, it could be proved against him that he neglected the Queen's interest, the war against Spain, and the support of the Netherlands, then he was willing to become liable to eternal blame. He was especially effective also through a moral quality—he never lost heart. It was remarked that he worked with the greatest alacrity when others were most doubtful. For he too had an absolute confidence in the cause which he defended. When the enemies' fortune stood highest, he was heard to say with great tranquillity, 'they can do no more than God will allow101.'
By the side of this pilot of the state, Robert Dudley, who was promoted to be Earl of Leicester, drew all eyes on himself as the leading man at court. Burleigh was looked on as Somerset's? creation, Dudley was the youngest son of the Earl of Northumberland: for it was of advantage to Elizabeth, especially at first, to unite around her important representatives of the two parties which had composed her brother's government. One motive for her attachment to Leicester is said to have been the fact that he was born on the same day, and at the very same hour with herself: who at that time would not have believed in the ruling influence of the stars? But, besides this, the Earl dazzled by a fine person, attractive manners, and an almost irresistible charm of disposition. The confidential intimacy which Elizabeth allowed him caused scandalous rumours, probably without ground; for if they had been true, Leicester, who had his father's ambition, would have played a very different part. Elizabeth heard of them; she once actually brought a foreign ambassador into her apartments, to convince him how utterly impossible it would be for her to see any one whatever without witnesses; she censured a foreign writer for letting himself be deceived by a groundless rumour, but she would not on this account dismiss the favourite from court. She liked to have him about her, and to receive his homage which had a tinge of chivalry in it: his devotion satisfied a need of her heart. He could not however take any power to himself which would infringe on her own supreme authority; once, when such a case occurred, she reminded him that he was not in exclusive possession of her favour: she could bestow it on whom she would, and again recall it; at court, she exclaimed, there should be no Master, but only a Mistress102. Neither did Leicester display great mental gifts: in the campaigns of the Netherlands he did not at all answer even the moderate expectations that had been formed of him. If the Queen nevertheless put him at the head of her troops when the Spanish danger threatened, this was because he possessed her absolute personal confidence.
With Leicester the Sidneys were most closely allied. Henry Sidney?, his sister's husband, introduced civilisation and monarchic institutions into Wales, and was selected to extend them in Ireland. In his son Philip? the English ideal of noble culture seemed to have realised itself; he combined a very remarkable literary power peculiar to himself, and talents suited for the society of men of the world (which well fitted him for the duties of an ambassador), with disinterested kindness to others, and a chivalrous courage in war, which gained him universal admiration both at home and in presence of the enemy.
Leicester's good word is also said to have opened an entrance to court for young Walter Ralegh? and to have promoted his first successes. Ralegh combined in his own person the aspirations of the age in a most vivid manner. He was ambitious, fond of show, with high aims, deeply engaged in the factions of the court; but at the same time he had a spirit of noble enterprise, was ingenious and thoughtful. In everything new that was produced in the region of discoveries and inventions, of literature and art, he played the part of a fellow worker: he lived in the circle of universal knowledge, its problems and its progress. In his appearance he had something that announced a man of superior mind and nature.
Around Cecil were grouped the statesmen who had been promoted by him, and worked in sympathy with him: for instance Bacon? the Keeper of the Seals, whom the Queen regarded as the oracle of the laws, and who also amused her by many a witty word; Mildmay?, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who though adhering to the principles now adopted yet gladly favoured the claims of Parliament, and even the tendencies of the Puritans; Francis Walsingham?, Secretary of State, who had once suffered exile for his Protestantism and now supported it after his return with all the resources of the administration; it is said of him that he heard in London what was whispered in the ear at Rome; he met the crafty Jesuits with a network of secret counteraction which extended over the world; there has never been a man who more vigilantly and unrelentingly hunted down religious and political conspiracies; to pay his agents, in choosing whom he was not too particular, he expended his own property. Cecil and Bacon had married two daughters of that Antony Cooke, who had once taken part in Edward VI's education: the other sisters, wedded to Hobby? and Killigrew?, men who were engaged in the most important embassies, extended the connexion of these statesmen. Walsingham was allied by marriage with Mildmay, and with Randolph? the active ambassador in Scotland.
Once the Queen brought a man among them, who owed his rise only to her being pleased with his person and conversation, which likewise brought her much ill repute103: she promoted her vice-chamberlain Christopher Hatton? to be Lord Chancellor of England. The lawyers made loud and bitter complaints of this disregard of their claims and their order. Hatton had however been long on good terms with the leading statesmen: in all the late questions of difficulty as to Mary Stuart's trial he had held firm to them. His nephew and heir soon after married a grand-daughter of Burleigh.
The Queen's own relations on the mother's side had always some influence with her. Francis Knolles? who had married into this family, and was appointed by the Queen treasurer of her household, won himself a good name with his contemporaries and with posterity by his religious zeal and openness of heart. A still more important figure in this circle is Thomas Sackville?, who is also named with honour among the founders of English literature; the part of the 'Mirror for Magistrates' which was due to him witnesses to an original conception of the dark sides of man's existence, and to a creative imagination. But the poet likewise did excellent service to his sovereign: he makes his appearance when an important treaty is to be concluded, or the people are to be called on to defend the country, or even when any agitation is feared in the troubles at home. He was selected to inform the Queen of Scots that the sentence of death had been pronounced on her. He is the Lord Buckhurst from whom the dukes of Dorset are descended.
The distinguished family to which Anne Boleyn belonged, and which had such an important influence on her rise, that of the Howards, proved in its elder branch as little loyal to the daughter as it had once been to the mother. On the other hand Elizabeth had experienced the attachment of the younger line, that of Effingham, and had since repaid it with manifold favours. From this branch came the Admiral, who commanded the sea-force in the decisive attacks on the Spanish Armada?. We know that he was not himself a great seaman; but he understood enough of the matter to enable him to avail himself of those who understood more than he did. The Queen looked on him as the man marked out by Providence for the defence of herself and of the country.
General Norris?, who gained reputation for the English arms on the continent by the side of Henry IV, was also related to her though more distantly: besides this, she wished to repay him for the good treatment she had formerly received in her distress from his grandfather.
How predominantly the personal element once more manifests itself in this administration! As the Queen's own interest is also that of all, those who belong to her family or have won her favour and done her essential service, are the chiefs of the State and the leaders in war. The royal patronage extended this influence over the Church and the universities. But we find it no less in all other branches. Sir Thomas Gresham?, the Queen's agent in money-matters, was the founder of the Exchange of London, to which she at his request gave the name of the Royal Exchange.
In literature also we see the traces of her taste and her influence. Owing to the tone of good society the classics were studied by every one. The higher education was directed to them, as indeed the Queen herself found in them refreshment and food for the mind: many classical authors were translated, and the forms of the old poets revived or imitated. The Italians and Spaniards, who had led the way in similar attempts, further awoke the emulation of the English. In Edmund Spenser?, in whom the spirit of the age shows itself most vividly, we constantly meet with imitations of the Latin or Italian poets, which here and there aspire to be paraphrastic translations, and may be inferior to his originals, even to the modern ones, in delicacy of drawing, since he purposely selected their most successful passages: yet how thoroughly different a spirit do his works breathe in their total effect! What in the Italians is a play of fancy is in him a deep moral earnestness. The English nation has an inestimable possession in these works of a moral and religious grandeur, and a simple view of nature, which happily expressed in single stanzas stamp themselves on every man's memory. Spenser has assigned to allegory, as a style, a larger sphere than perhaps belongs to it, and one allegory is always interweaving itself with another; the heroes whom he takes from the old romances become to him representatives of the different virtues, but he possesses such an original power of vivid representation that even in this form he gains the reader's interest. But, if we ask what is the main thing which he celebrates, we find that it is precisely the course of the great war in which his nation is engaged against the Papacy and the Spaniards. The Faery Queen is his sovereign, whose figure under the manifold symbols of the qualities which she possessed, or which were ascribed to her, is always coming forward afresh in his verse. With wonderful power Elizabeth united around her all the aspiring minds and energies of the nation.
Not a few of the productions of the time have so strong an infusion of reverence for the Queen that we cannot help smiling: but it is true nevertheless that at her court the language formed itself, and all great aspirations found their central point. Elizabeth's statesmen, who had to deal with a Parliament that could not be led by mere authority, studied the rules of eloquence in the models of antiquity, and made their doctrines their own. On their table Quintilian? lay by the side of the Statutes.
The Queen, who loved the theatre and declared it a national institution by a proclamation, made it possible for Shakespeare? to develope himself; his roots lie deep in this epoch, he represents its manners and mode of life: but he spreads far out beyond it. We shall return to him in a more suitable place than this, in which we are treating of the Queen's influence.
It would contradict the nature of human affairs were we to expect that the general point of view, which swayed the State as a whole, could have induced every one who took part in its administration to move on to their common aim in one way. Of the great nobles of the court many rather supported the Puritans, as indeed the father of the Puritan Cartwright owed his position at Warwick to Leicester's protection; others inclined to favour the Catholics. The severity which the bishops thought themselves bound to exercise met with opposition among the leading statesmen: and to these again the soldiers were opposed. It was a society full of life, and highly gifted, but for that very reason in continual ferment and internal conflict.
We have still to grasp clearly the event in which these antagonisms and the Queen's temperament yet once more led to a great catastrophe.
The aged Burleigh, who had provoked the war with Spain, wished also to end it. From his past experience he concluded that he could not inflict any decisive blow on the Spanish monarchy, which still displayed a vast power of resistance; in 1597 it could again offer a high price for peace. The Spaniards, who had taken Calais from the French by a sudden attack, offered the Queen the restoration of this old English possession in exchange for the strong places in the Netherlands, entrusted to her in pledge104. For the Netherlands no other provision would have been thus made than was proposed in 1587: but England would have again won as strong a position on the Continent as it had before, and would have established its rule over the neighbouring seas: an open commerce would have been re-established, and Ireland freed from the hostile influence of the Spaniards: the Queen would have enjoyed peace in her advancing years. Burleigh saw as it were the conclusion of his life in this: he said that, if God granted him a good agreement with Spain, his soul would depart with joy.
But for this policy he could not possibly get the approval of the young, whose ambitious hopes were connected with the continuance of the war. They measured the power of the country by their own thirst for action. If the Queen, so they said, would only not do everything by halves and not follow her secretaries so much, she could, especially now she had the Dutch as allies, tear the Spanish monarchy in pieces. How could they fail, with some effort, in occupying the Isthmus of Panama? And then they would at one blow deprive the monarchy of all its resources. And above all, the man who then played the most brilliant part at court, Robert Devereux Earl of Essex?, was of this opinion. He was Leicester's stepson, introduced by him at court, and after his death his successor as it were in the Queen's favour. An attractive manly appearance, blooming youth, chivalrous manners, won him all hearts from the very first. With the Queen he entered into that rare relation, in which favour on the one side and homage on the other took the hues of mutual inclination, and even passion.
What Essex's idea of it was he once revealed at a dramatic festivity which he arranged for the Queen in honour of her accession. There he made a hermit, an officer of state, and a soldier come forward and address their exhortations to an esquire who was intended to represent himself. By the first the knight was desired to give up all feelings of love, by the second to devote his powers to State affairs, by the third to apply himself to war. The answer is: the knight cannot give up his passion for his lady, since she animates all his thoughts with divine fire, teaches him true policy, and at the same time qualifies him to lead an army. Essex had taken part in some campaigns of Henry IV, and afterwards commanded the squadron which was in possession of the harbour of Cadiz for a moment, but without being able to hold it: he also failed in another enterprise which was planned to seize the plate-fleet; but this did not prevent him from evermore designing fresh and comprehensive plans. His view in this matter he also once represented dramatically105. He brought forward a native American prince who utters the wish to be freed from the Castilians and their oppressive rule: an oracle refers him to the Queen whose kingdom lies between the old and the new world, and who is naturally inclined to come to the aid of all the oppressed.
The negociations for peace were wrecked mainly through their inherent difficulties: the Spaniards however had no hesitation in ascribing the ill result to the influence of the Queen's favourite, who had been won over by the King of France106. But the war could not after this be waged on the grand scale contemplated, because Henry IV himself now concluded peace, which freed the hands of the Spaniards to act against England, and even awoke once more their ideas of an invasion.
Under the double influence of English oppression and the instigation of both Spain and Rome a revolt broke out in Ireland, in which the English suffered a defeat on the Blackwater, which is designated as the greatest mishap they had ever suffered in that island. Ulster, Connaught, and Leinster were in arms: their chief, Tyrone?, who had learnt war in the English service, came forward as The O'Neal, and was already recognised by the Pope as sovereign of Ulster; the Irish reckoned on Spanish assistance, either in Ireland itself, or through an attack on England. Priests and Jesuits fed the Irish with hopes that this time they would free themselves, and destroy the very memory of the English rule.
The Queen decided, in order to keep her hold on the island, to send over an unusually strong armament of horse and foot: and Essex, who had always been the loudest in blaming the errors of previous commanders, could not avoid at last himself undertaking its direction, though he did not do it with complete alacrity.
Though Burleigh was dead, his son Robert Cecil? nevertheless maintained himself in possession of the secretaryship of state and was at the head of his father's old friends, joined as they were by others who were not indeed his friends but were enemies of Essex. It was unwillingly that Essex quitted the court and thus left the field open to them: especially as his personal relation to the Queen was no longer what it had been of old. Aspiring by nature, supported by the good opinion of the people (on which his grand appearance and his bold spirit of enterprise had made much impression), and by the devotion of brave officers who were ready to follow him in any undertaking by land or sea, he presumed to desire to be something for himself. He wished to be no longer absolutely dependent on the nod of his mistress. The story goes that she once, in a violent passion at his disrespectful conduct, gave him a box on the ear, and that he laid his hand on his sword. Even in his letters expressions indicating resistance break through his declarations of submission. His friends indeed advised him to return to absolute obedience: then the Queen would raise the man whom she honoured above all others. He rejected this advice because he held that the Queen was a woman, from whom one gets nothing but by superior authority. It almost appears as though he thought he might obtain such an authority by the Irish war.
But he found this expedition far harder than he had expected. Previously he had always said that the great rebel, Tyrone, must be tracked to Ulster, where were the roots of his power, and conquered there: then the rest of the country would return to obedience of itself. How great was the astonishment when he now nevertheless began with a march into Munster and Leinster, in which he wasted his resources without obtaining any great success! He maintained that the Privy Council of Ireland had urged him on to this: its members denied it. At last the campaign to the North was undertaken: but in this region the Irish were found to have the complete superiority: the Queen's newly levied troops on the other hand were neither adapted, nor quite willing, to venture on a decisive action: the officers signed a protest against it: and Essex saw himself obliged to enter into negociations with Tyrone.
The conditions which that chief demanded in return for his submission are exceedingly comprehensive: complete freedom of the Catholic church under the Pope, and a transfer of the dignities of state to the natives, so that only a viceroy, who should always belong to the high nobility, was to come from England: the chief Irish families were to be restored to their old possessions, and freed from the most oppressive laws, for instance that of wardship; and the Irish were to be allowed free trade with England107. These stipulations would have promised a free development to the Irish nation, and made the yoke of England exceedingly light. Essex accepted them, because the Spaniards were just now threatening an attack on England, and Tyrone could only be separated from them on these conditions; even then Tyrone begged that for the present they might be kept a profound secret, that he might not quarrel with the Spaniards too soon.
But how could such comprehensive concessions be expected from the proud Queen? How could her counsellors, who always preferred direct negociation with Spain, have accepted them?
The idea occurred to the Earl of Essex to return to England with a part of his troops, and at their head enforce the acceptance of his treaty, after which he would throw himself with all his might into the Spanish war. And without doubt this would have been the only way to carry out his plan, and become altogether master of the government.
But it was represented to him that this looked exactly like an attempt at rebellion. Essex was induced to give it up, and make everything yet once more depend on the influence which he was confident he could exercise on the Queen by appearing in person. Even this however was a great risk: he not merely had no leave to do so, but it had been expressly forbidden him just previously: he thought it however the only way of obtaining his end. Without even having announced his departure to the Queen, he suddenly appeared with slight attendance at Nonsuch, her country house108. He dismounted before the door, and did not even take time to change his dress: as he was, with the dust of the journey on his face and clothes, he hastened to the Queen: that he did not find her in the reception-room did not check him; he rushed on into her chamber, where he entered without being announced, and kissed her hand: her hair was still flying about her face. At the first moment she received him graciously—in a couple of hours he might see her again: when he returned to her at table, she began to reproach him. From minute to minute the Queen predominated in her over the friend: by evening his arrest was announced to him.
Already by his conduct in Ireland Essex had supplied food for the slander of his enemies: how much more must this have been the case through his selfwilled return! As he was fond of tracing his descent from royal blood, he was accused of even aspiring to the throne, after the example of Bolingbroke?: for this purpose he had leagued himself with Tyrone and the Irish grandees, whose loyalty he praised notwithstanding their revolt. We can say with certainty that the views of the Earl of Essex never went so far. In the question as to the Queen's successor, which occupied every one, he had taken his side for the rights of the King of Scotland: he imputed to his enemies the design of favouring on the other hand the claim of the Infant of Spain (which was at that time put forward in all seriousness in a book much read) with the view of purchasing peace by his recognition. He assigned, as the motive for his conduct, his inability to endure the atheists, papists, and Spanish partisans in the Queen's council: as a Christian he could not possibly look on while religion perished, and as an Englishman he would not stand aloof while his fatherland was being ruined109. He had never wished to be anything else than a subject—but 'only of his Queen, not the underling of an unworthy and low vassal.' So far as men saw, he stood in connexion with both the parties opposed to the prevailing system. He was prayed for in the churches of the Puritans: Cartwright was one of his friends; the Scotch doctrine, that the Supreme Power, if it showed itself negligent in matters of religion, could be compelled by those immediately under it to take them in hand, is said to have been preached with reference to him. As Earl Marshal of England, Essex indeed thought he possessed an independent right of interference. But the mitigation of the ecclesiastical laws would also have benefited the Catholics; and it was among them that he had perhaps the most decided allies. If we might combine his views into a whole, they were directed towards raising the natives of America against Spain, at the same time that by toleration both in England and Ireland he united all patriots in the war against that power, in which he discerned that the chief interest of the nation lay.
Essex remained a long while in the custody of the Keeper of the Seal?, who was favourably disposed towards him; then he was sentenced by the Star Chamber not to exercise any longer his high offices as member of the Privy Council, as Earl Marshal, and Master of the Ordnance, and to live as a prisoner in his own house during the Queen's pleasure. He seemed to reconcile himself to this fate, and behaved modestly for a considerable time: he was still flattering himself with the hope of regaining his sovereign's favour, when a monopoly was withdrawn from him which formed the chief part of his income. This new victory of his enemies was intolerable to him: he would not let himself be brought so low by them as to be forced to live like a poor knight, without influence and independence. The thought occurred to him that, if he could but see the Queen once more, he might effect a change in his own destiny and in that of England. The popularity he enjoyed in the capital, the continued attachment of his old companions in arms, the friendship of some considerable nobles, allowed him to entertain the hope that he could attain this in despite of those around her, could make himself master of the palace, and force her to summon a Parliament—in which the change of government and the succession of the King of Scotland should be alike confirmed. Essex was no longer the blooming man of times past, he was seen moving along with his neck bowed down, but he still had his mind fixed on wide-ranging and ambitious thoughts: from his youth up elevated by good fortune and favour, he held everything possible which he set his hand to do. On the 8th February 1601 an armed band assembled at his house under certain lords; the Keeper of the Seal and his attendant, whom the Queen despatched in order to inform herself of the cause of the agitation, were detained. Essex dared to march through the capital with his armed men, in order to raise it on his behalf. He reckoned on the desertion of the city militia to him, and the connivance of the city magistrates; but instead of finding support he only excited astonishment. No one stirred in his favour. He was scarcely able—for royal troops were soon in arms against him—to make his way back to his house: there was nothing left for him but to surrender at discretion.
At his trial the principle, which had already had so much weight in the proceedings against Mary Stuart, was expressly stated, that every attempt at rebellion must be looked on as directed against the life of the reigning sovereign110. A crisis had occurred which obliged Elizabeth to execute the man for whom among all men living she cherished the deepest and warmest feeling, just as formerly she had been forced to condemn one of the grandees connected with her by blood, and then her sister Queen of equal rights with herself—all of them for traitorous attempts against her government and person. She said she would gladly have saved Essex, but she was forced to let the laws of England take their course.
Essex is to be compared with his contemporary Biron? in so far as they both rebelled against sovereigns with whom they had stood in the closest relations. In both it was mainly injured self-esteem which goaded them on. As Biron had a portion of the lower French nobility for him, so Essex had the soldiers by profession and the officers of the army to a great extent on his side: they both appealed once more to religious antipathies. But above all they thought of again making room for the old independence of the warlike nobles: they both succumbed to the authority of the firmly-rooted power of the state.
At that time there were fresh negociations going on for a peace between Spain and England; but they could as little now as before agree on the great subjects in dispute, the question of the Netherlands, and the interests of commerce, which at the same time involved points of religion. And the Spaniards broke off negociations all the more readily, as exaggerated rumours of Essex's conspiracy resounded everywhere, making a revolt in England appear possible. They then instantly thought of a landing in an English harbour, and this the Catholics promised to support with considerable bodies of horse and foot. In Ireland, where the refusal of the concessions held out to them by Essex revived the national enmities, the Spaniards really effected a landing: under Don Juan d'Aguilar? they occupied Kinsale: and hoped not merely to become masters of Ireland but to cross from thence to their friends' assistance in England.
Hence Queen Elizabeth, who perceived the connexion of these hostilities, now reverted to the necessity of carrying on the war again on a larger scale. Her view was chiefly directed to a new enterprise against Portugal: its separation from Castile she held to be the greatest European success that was possible: but she hoped to bring about a change in Italy as well: there Venice was to attack the nearest Spanish territories. When she called the Venetians to aid—among other things she wished also to obtain a loan from the government—she put them in mind how much her resistance to the Spanish monarchy had benefited the European commonwealth: hence it was that Spain had been prevented from carrying out her tyrannical views throughout the world, in the Netherlands and in Germany, in France and Italy; the Republic, which loved freedom, would recognise this. Elizabeth thought to resume the war, if possible, at the head of all that part of Europe which was opposed to Spain, and in league with Henry IV, with whom she negociated on this subject. In the beginning of 1603 a squadron was fitted out under Sir Richard Lawson to attack the coasts of the Pyrenean peninsula. Men discussed the comparative forces which the two kingdoms could bring into the field.
But the Queen's days were already drawing to a close. In February 1603 the Venetian secretary Scaramelli had an audience of her, and gives a report of it from which we see that she still completely preserved her wonted demeanour. He found the whole court, the leading ecclesiastics and the temporal dignitaries, assembled around her: they had been entertained with music. When he entered, the Queen rose in her usual rich attire, with a diadem of precious stones, almost encircled with pearls: rubies hung from her neck; and in her mien no one could detect any decay of her powers. 'It is time at last,' she said to the secretary, who wished to throw himself on his knees before her, while she raised him with both hands, 'it is time at last for the Republic to send its representative to a Queen by whom it has been always honoured.' The letter of the Republic was handed to her, and she gave it to the Secretary of State; after he had opened it and given it back to her again, she sat down to read it: it contained a complaint that Venetian ships had been seized by the English privateers, who then made all seas unsafe. The English nation, she then said, is not so small but that evil and thievish men may be found in it: while she promised enquiry and justice, she nevertheless reverted to her main point that she had received nothing from the republic during the forty-four years of her government but grievances and demands,—even the loan had been refused;—Venice had hitherto, contrary to her custom, not sent any embassy to her; not, she thought, because she was a woman, but through fear of other powers. Scaramelli answered that no temporal or even spiritual sovereign had any influence on the Republic in such matters; he ascribed the neglect to circumstances which no one could control. The Queen broke off: I do not know, she added, whether I have expressed myself in good Italian: I learned the language as a child, and think I have not forgotten it. After that serious address she again. seemed gracious, and gave the secretary her hand to kiss, when she dismissed him. The next day commissioners were appointed to enquire into his grievances111.
At that time the affairs of Ireland were once more occupying the Queen. The Spaniards had been compelled by Lord Mountjoy to leave the island; he had beaten them together with the Irish in a decisive action: but, despite his victory, many further conflicts took place, and the rebellion was not suppressed; Tyrone still maintained himself in the hills and woods of Ulster; and, as a return of the Spaniards was feared, Mountjoy too was at last disposed to come to an agreement with him. The Queen was in her inmost soul against this, for only fresh rebellions would be occasioned by it; she required an absolute surrender at discretion: if she once allowed the rebels to have their lives secured to them, she soon after retracted the concession. She even spoke of wishing to go to Ireland in person; the impression produced by her presence would put an end to all revolt.
But at this moment a sudden alteration was remarked in her: she no longer appeared at the festivities before Lent, which went off in an insignificant style. At first her seclusion was explained by the death of one of her ladies whom she loved, the Countess of Nottingham?: but soon it could not be concealed that the Queen herself was seized with a dangerous illness: sleep and appetite began to fail her: she showed a deep melancholy. 'No,' she replied to one of the kinsmen of her mother's house, Robert Cary?, who at that moment had come back to court and addressed friendly words to her about her health, 'No Robin, well I am not, my heart has been for some time oppressed and heavy;' she broke off with painful groans and sighing, hitherto unwonted in her, now no longer suppressed. It was manifest that mental distress accompanied the bodily decay112.
Who has not heard of the ring which Elizabeth is said to have once given to the Earl of Essex with the promise that, if it were presented to her, she would show him mercy, whatever might have occurred: he had, so the tale runs, in his last distresses wished to send it her through the Countess of Nottingham: but she was prevented from giving it by her husband who was an enemy of Essex, and so he had to die without mercy: the Queen, to whom the Countess revealed this on her death bed, fell into despair over it. The ring is still shown, and indeed several rings are shown as the true one: as also the tradition itself is extant in two somewhat varying forms; attempts have been made to get rid of the improbabilities of the first by fresh fictions in the second113. They are both so late, and rest so completely on hearsay, that they can no longer stand before historical criticism.
Nevertheless we cannot deny, as the reports in fact testify in several places, that the remembrance of Essex weighed on the Queen's soul. It must certainly have reminded her of him, that she was now brought back exactly to the course he had insisted on, namely a friendly agreement with the invincible Irish chief. She had allowed less imperious, more compliant, declarations to reach Ireland. But was the man a traitor, who had recommended a policy to which they had been forced to have recourse after such repeated efforts? Had he deserved his fate at her hands?114 It was remarked that the anniversary of the day on which Essex two years before had suffered on the scaffold, Ash Wednesday, thrilled through her with heart-rending pain; the world seemed to her desolate, since he was no longer there; she imputed his guilt to the ambition, against which she had warned him, and which had misled him into steps, from the consequences of which she could not protect him. But had she not herself uttered the decisive word? She burst into self-accusing tears. Her distress may have been increased by finding that her statesmen no longer showed her the old devotion, the earlier absolute obedience. When they, as we know, had framed a formal theory for themselves, that they might act against an express command of the Queen, on the assumption of her general intention being directed to the public good, could the sharp-sighted, suspicious, sovereign fail to perceive it? Could she fail to remark the agitation as to her successor, which occupied all men's minds, while the reins were slipping from her hands? The people, on whose devotion she had from the first moment laid so much stress, and partly based her government, seemed after Essex' death to have become cold towards her.
In every great life there comes a moment when the soul feels that it no longer lives in the present world, and draws back from it.
Once more Elizabeth had the English Liturgy read in her room: there she sat afterwards day and night on the cushions with which it was covered, in deep silence, her finger on her mouth: she rejected physic with disdain115. Most said and believed she did not care to recover or to live any longer, that she wished to die. When she was at last got to bed, and had a moment left of consciousness and interest in the world, she had the members of her Privy Council summoned: she then either said to them directly that she held the King of Scotland to be her lawful and deserving successor, or she designated him in a way that left no doubt116.
Amidst the prayers of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who was kneeling by her bed, she breathed her last. It is not merely the business of History to point out how far great personages have attained the ideals which float before the mind of man, or how far they have remained below them. It is almost more important for it to ascertain how far the universal interests, in the midst of which eminent characters appear, have been advanced by them, whether their inborn force was a match for the opposing elements, whether it allowed itself to be conquered by them or not. There never was a sovereign who maintained a conflict of worldwide importance amidst greater dangers and with greater success than Queen Elizabeth. Her grandfather had begun a political emancipation from the ruling influences of the continent, her father an ecclesiastical one: Elizabeth took up their task and accomplished it victoriously against Rome and against Spain, while her people had an ever-increasing part in public affairs, and thus entered into a new stage of development. Her memory is inseparably connected with the independence and power of England.
1 'Ayant visage pale fier haultain et superbe pour desguyser le regret qu'elle a.' Renard to the Emperor 24 Feb. 1554, in Tytler ii 311. He adds, 'si pendant l'occasion s'adonne, elle (la reine) ne la punyt et Cortenay, elle ne sera jamais assurée.'
2 'Manifestò el contentamiento grande que tendria el rey de saber que se declara la sucesion en favor de ella (Isabel), cosa que S. M habia descado sempre.' In Gonzalez, Apuntamientos pars la historia del rey Don Felipe II. Memorias de la real academia de historia, Madrid, vii. 253.
3 One of the documents which Mackintosh (History of England iii. 25) missed, the commission for the proposal to Elizabeth, which gives its contents, was soon after printed in Gonzalez, Documentos I 405.
4 Feria: 'Dando a entender, que el pueblo la ha puesto en el estado que esta, y de esto no reconoce nada ni a V. M , ni a la nobleza del reino.'
5 An oration of John Hales to the Queen delivered by a certain nobleman, in Foxe, Martyrs iii 978. 'It most manifestly appeareth, that all their doings from the beginning to the end were and be of none effect force or autority '
6 P. Sarpi, Concilio di Trento, lib v, p. 420. confirmed by Paliavicum lib xiv.
7 Horne's papers for the reformed, in Collier ii 416.
8 Ribadeneyra: 'No fueron sino tres votos mas, los que determinaron en las cortes, que se mudasse la religion catolica, que los que pretendian que se conservasse.' Ribadeneyra says the Queen gained Arundel's vote by allowing him to hope for her hand, and then laughed at him; but Feria's despatches show that she mocked at his pretensions even before her entry on the government.
9 Soames iv 675, Liturgiae Brittanicae 417
10 From Feria's despatches, Apuntamientos 270.
11 In Heylin there is a comparison of the original forty-two with the later thirty-nine articles; but he did not venture at last to do what he proposed at first, give his opinion as to the reason and nature of the variations.
12 Leslaeus de rebus gestis Scotorum: Henricus Mariam Reginam Angliae Scotiae et Hlberniae declarandam curavit,—Angliae et Scotiae insignia in ipsius vasis aliisque utensilibus simul pingi fingique ac adeo tapetibus pulvinis intexi jussit. (In Jebb 1. 206.)
13 From one of Cecil's first notes, 'if they offered battle with Almains, there was great doubt, how England would be able to sustain it.' In Nares ii. 27.
14 Extract in M'Crie, Life of John Knox 36.
15 Knox, History of the Reformation,—a work which some later insertions have not deprived of its credit for trustworthiness, which it otherwise deserves,—p. 92. 'That they refussit all society with idolatri and band them selfes to the uttermost of their powery to manetein the trew preiching of the evangille, as God should offer unto thame preichers and opportunity.'
16 That we sall—apply our haill power substance and our verie lyves, to mantein set forward and establish the most blissit word of God, and his congregation shall labour—to have faithful ministeris, puirlie and trewlie to minister Christis evangell and sacramentis to his pepyll.'
17 According to Leslaeus 205, in this the promise was specially emphatic, that everything should be done, 'Ne regina nostra Angliae sceptro excluderetur.' This was during Mary Tudor's lifetime.
18 So King James said at the Conference of Hampton Court, State Trials ii. 85; negociations must have taken piace of which we know nothing.
19 Knox: 'That she wald tak sume better order:' and so in Calderwood. Buchanan xvi. 590: 'Se interea nihil adversus quemquam illius sectae molituram.' Spottiswood i. 271: That the diet should desert and nothing be done to the prejudice of the ministres.'
20 Praefati Paulus Methven, Joannes Cristesoun, Willielmus Harlaw et Joannes Willok denunciati sunt rebelles S. D. N. regis et reglnae. From the Justiciary records in M'Crie, Note GG 360.
21 Kirkaldy of Grange, one of the leaders of the Protestants, to Sir Henry Percy, Edinburgh, 1 July, in Tytler vi. 107. ' The manner of their proceeding in reformation is this. They pull down all manner of friaries and some abbeys, which willingly receive not the reformation: as to parish churches they cleanse them of images and other monuments of idolatry and command that no masses be said in them.' Even now M'Crie says: 'I look upon the destruction of those monuments as a piece of good policy.' Life of Knox 130.
22 I find this only in Lesley 215, who is in general the best informed as to the relations of the Regent with the French court..
23 'As your grace will not acknowledge us, our soverane lords and ladyis liegis for your subjectis and counssail, na mau will we acknowledge you for our regent.' Declaration of 23 Oct. 1559.
24 Throckmorton to Chamberlain, 11 Nov. 1560,in Wright, Elizabeth i. 52.
25 Throckmorton, In Tytler, History of Scotland vi. 194. In a memoir of Cecil, 'a note of indignaties and wrongs done by the Queen of Scots to the Queen's Majesty.' In Murdin 582, the greatest stress is justly laid on this refusal.
26 Castelnau, Mémoires iii. 13. 'Cette jeune princesse avoit un esprit grand et inquiète, comme celui du feu Cardinal de Lorraine son oncle, auxquels ont sneedé la pluspart des choses contraires à leurs délibérations.'
27 As it is once expressed in one of her letters: 'pour l'advanchement de mes affaires tant en ce pays (Scotland) qu'en celuy là, ou je pretends quelque droit (England).' In Labanoff, Lettres et Mémoires de Marie Stuart i. 247.
28 'Que la conveniencia publica, en especial la de la religlon aconsejaba que la reina su ama, se casase con el principe Don Carlos.' From the ambassador's reports in Gonzalez 299.
29 Qu'll ne tiendra, qu'au dit Espagne qu'll (ce mariage) se ne fasse.' Additions à Castelnau.
30 Compare Conaeus, Vita Mariae, in Jebb i 24.
31 Conversation with Randolph, in Tytler vi 316. Murray says to him: 'the Queen would dislike and suspect him, because he had deceived her with promises which he could not realise: he was the counsellor and devizer of that line of Policy, which for the last five years had been pursued towards England; he it was that had induced her to defer to Elizabeth.'
32 Spottiswood, History of the Church of Scotland ii. 25. 'If lt should fall him to marry with one of the great families of England, it was to be feared that some impediment might be made to her in the right of succession.'
33 Lislebourc (Edinburgh), 24 July 1565, in Labanoff vii. 430.
34 Compare Apuntamientos 312. The letter itself in Mignet ii. App. E.
35 Sacchinus, Historia societatis Jesu, pp ili, xiii, no. 166.
36 Fragment d'un Mémoire de Marle Stuart sur la noblesse. Labanoff vii. 297.
37 Mémoire adiessé à Cosme I, from the Archivio Medoceo at Florence, in Labanoff vii. 65.
38 James Melvil, Memoirs 59.
39 From a despatch of Randolph's in Mackintosh, History of England iii. 73. 'David is he that worketh all, chief secretary of the Queen of Scotland, only governor to her good man.' Can the date be right?
40 'Volemo quel galante la e non volemo esser governati per un servitor.' Letter to Cosimo I, in Tuscany, in Labanoff vii. 92.
41 Queen Mary to the Archbishop of Glasgow, 2 April 1566, in Keith and Labanoff. Of all the reports on this event the most important and trustworthy.
42 'That the king . . . suld take the prince our son and crown himm and being crownit as his father suld tak upon him the government ' Mary to the Archbishop of Glasgow, in Labanoff i. 396.
43 Compare Robertson, Dissertation on King Henry's murder, Works i , History of Scotland 243. From a letter of Thuanus to Camden (1606) it is clear how much trouble it already cost him to arrive at a decided opinion.
44 Monsenor de Moreta . . . anadio (to his narrative of the event) algunas particularidades, que en juicio del embajador probaban o inducian mucha sospecha que la reina avia sabido y aun permetido el suceso.' Apuntamientos 320. The affair has been very wrongly drawn into the sphere of religious controversy.
45 Account in the collection for the history of the times of the Emperor Maximilian II, which Simon Schardius embodied in the tomus rerum Germanicarum iv. not authentic, yet based on what was then held in Scotland to be true. It runs: 'Rex cum illa se accedente ita suaviter sermones commatat, ut reconciliatae annulum daret, hoc pacto, ut illa se in lectum conjugalem intra duos dies admitteret. Erant in aula, qui hanc offensionem placari minime vellent, unde, priusquam rex voti compos fieret, eum e medio tollere constituerunt.'
46 Trial of James Earl Bothwell. State trials.
47 Report of the Nuncio, which agrees fully with the statements in Schardius.
48 Mary's confessor told the Spanish ambassador in answer to his questions: 'Que el caso se habia consultado con los obispos catolicos y que unanimemente havian dicho que lo podia hacer (casarse) por que la muger de Bodwell era pariente sua en quarto grado.'
49 Memorandum of Cecil. 'She committed all autority to him and his compagnons, who exercised such cruelty as none of the nobility that were counsel of the realm durst abide about the Queen.'
50 Norris to Elizabeth 23 July 1567, in Wright i 260.
51 'They have observed such things in H. My's doings, as have tended to the danger of such as she had dealt withall.' Wright 251.
52 Calderwood ii. 384: 'Modo cha ha usato la regina di Scotia per liberarsi,' from the Florentine archives, in Labanoff vii. 135.
53 Randolph states that the promise was given before Darnley's death. Strype, Annals III i. 234.
54 That this was thought of from the first is not to be supposed; the Queen had once previously declared herself against it. 'We fynde her removing either into this our realm or into France not without great discommodlties to us.' Letter to Throckmorton, in Wright i. 253.
55 Gonzalez, Apuntamientos 338. From the 'short memoryall' of 1569 in Hayne's State Papers 585 (though much in it is incorrect), we see that men believed in the union of both crowns against England, with 'the ernest desyre to have the Quene of Scotts possess the crown of England'.
56 'Sentenza declaratoria contra Elizabetta, che si pretende reina d'Inghilterra.' In Catena, Vita di Pio V, 309. The agreement of the bull (e.g. as to the 'huomini heretici et ignobi1i,' who had penetrated into the royal privy council) with the manifesto of the last rebellion, is worth observing.
57 The instructions which Mary and Norfolk gave their Italian agent for the Roman See are preserved in the Vatican archives and printed in Labanoff iii 221. From Leslie's expression (Negociations, In Anderson iii. 152) that the duke negotiated with Ridolfi through a Mr. Backer, 'because he had the Italian tongue,' and that then all the plans were communicated to him ('the whole devises'), we might conclude that Norfolk was in general very much in foreign hands.
58 'Lo que se platico en consejo 7 Julio 1571. Some other weighty documents are in Appendix V to Mignet's Histoire de Marie Stuart, vol. ii.
59 Already on the 16th April the French ambassador, while speaking with Elizabeth on the conclusion of the treaty agreed on, remarks, 'qu'elle a quelque nouvelle offence contre la dite reyne d'Ecosse,' which could have been nothing else but the first news of the seizure of one of Ridolfi's servants at Dover on the 10th April, who then under torture had confessed all.
60 'Vendran otras ocasiones en tiempo di V. M. per pagarle dios el celo, con que tam caldamente abraza este su negocio.' Contestation del duque di Alba, In Gonzalez 450.
61 De la Mothe Fénélon au roi de France 22 Dec 1571. Correspondance diplomatique de Bertrand de Salignac de la Mothe Fénélon iv. 317.
62 Sketch of a will, in Labanoff iv. 354. 'Je cedde mes droits, que ye pretends et puis pretendre à la couronne d'Angleterre et autres seignuries et royaulmes en dependant au roy catholque ou autres des siens qu'll lui plaira, avesque l'advis et consentement de S. S.'
63 Conference at Westminster touching the Queen's marriage with the Duke of Anjou 1579 Egerton Papers 78. Sussex, who had previously given a somewhat different opinion, was one of those who signed.
64 Sacchinus, Historia societatis Jesu iii. 1; vii. 1; viii. 96.
65 'Perche contro alle leggi d'Inghilterra egli havesse portato seco una bollo papale, alcuni grani benedetti et agnus dei.' Martyrio di Cutberto Maino, in Pollini, Istoria eccl. delle rivolutioni d'Inghilterra p. 499. It is a pity that the eminent Hallam had not the first reports at hand.
66 Facultates concessae Rob. Personio et Edm. Campiano 14 April 1580. 'Catholicos tum demum obliget, quando publica ejusdem bullae executio fieri poterit.'
67 Execution of Justice in England. Somers Tracts i.
68 Lettre a Don Bernardino de Mendoza 6-8 Aprll 1582. 'La grande aparence, qu'il ha de pourvenir (parvenlr) mamtenant au dict restablissement de la religion en ceste isle, començant pour la Scotia ( par l'Ecosse).' In Mignet App. 522.
69 According to the Venetian accounts (Dispaccio di Spagna, Marzo 1584) the King had sent an experienced soldier as a spy to England to investigate the possibility of a landing, 'havendo pensato di concertarsi bene con il re di Scotia, perche ancora egli a un tempo medesimo si movesse da quella parte.'
70 The Lord Treasurers advise in matters of Religion and State. Somers Tracts i. 164.
71 Consultation at Greenwich 1579, in Murdin 340. 'Pluck down presently the strengthe and government of all your papists and deliver all the strengthe and government of your realm into the hands of wise assured and trusty protestants.'
72 Bishop Leslie's negociations, in Anderson iii. 235.
73 'De praesenti rerum statu in Anglia brevis annotatio,' in Theiner, Annales ecclesiastici iii. 480 (at the year 1583). As mention is made in this writing of the restoration of order in the States of the Church, 'per felicissima novi pontificis auspicia,' we must certainly attribute it to the first years of Sixtus V.
74 Tam ad hos (haereticos) quam ad catholicos omnes ad nostras partes trahendos supra modum valebit, licet in carcere, reginae Scotiae opera. Nam illa novit omnes secretos fautores suos et hactenus habuit viam praemonendi illos alque semper ut speramus habitura est, ut cum venerit tempus expeditionis, praesto sint. Sperat etiam—per amicos—et per corruptionem custodum personam suam ex Custodia liberare.' In Theiner, Annales ecclesiastici iii 482.
75 The means to assure Her Majesty of peace Egerton Papers 79.
76 'Jus successionis judicio ordinum Angliae subjecturam.' Camden, i. 360. Compare Strype, Annals iii, i. 131.
77 Association for the assecuration of the Queen, subscribed by the members of Lincoln's Inn (Egerton Papers 208). We may assume that this was the general idea.
78 In a pamphlet of the time it is stated that she had subscribed and sworn to the Association.
79 Tytler (History of Scotland viii App.) maintains that the passage was inserted by Mary's enemles, and brings forward some reasons for this view which are worth considering. But Mignet (ii. 348) has already remarked how many other improbable suppositlons this necessitates. And what would have been the use of it, as the letter even without the addltion would have sufficed to condemn her.
80 'Objections against bringing Maria Queen of Scots to trial, with answers thereunto.' In Strype, Annals iii, 2 397.
81 Evidence against the Queen of Scots. Hardwicke Papers i. 245. 'Invasion and destruction of Her Majesty are so linked together, that they cannot be single. For if the invader should prevail, no doubt they would not suffer Her Majesty to continue neither government nor her life: and in case of rebellion the same reason holdeth.'
82 The French ambassador began, according to Camden 480, with the maxim 'regum interesse ne princeps libera atque absoluta morte afficiatur.' What Camden quotes from a letter of James makes a certain impression; the words are still more characteristic in the original: Quho beingh supreme et immediate lieutenants of godd in heaven, cannot thairefore be judget by thaire aequallis in earth, quat monstruous thing is lt that souveraigne princes thaimeselfis shoulde be the exemple giveris of thaire own sacred diademes prophaining.' 27 Jan. 1584. In Nicolas, Life of Davison 70.
83 Reasons gathered by certain appointed in Parliament. In Strype iii. 1, 534.
84 According to the protocol of an interview with the ambassador (in Murdin, 579) there can be no doubt of the reality of the plot. The ambassador does not deny that he had been spoken to about it, he only excuses himself for not having had the Queen informed of it, but asserts that he had rejected it with abhorrence.
85 To James I, Letters of Elizabeth and James 42.
86 Arraignement of Mr Davison in the Star Chamber, State Trials 1230. In Nicolas, Life of William Davison, are printed the statements and memoranda of Davison as to his share in this matter. They are not without reserve, but, in what they contain, they bear the stamp of truth.
87 Oldys, Life of Sir W. Raleigh 38.
88 Spondanus, Continuatio Baronii ii. 847. The word ' dicitur,' which Spondanus uses, is omitted in Timpesti, Vita di Sisto V, ii. 51.
89 A letter of Philip's to the King of Denmark, in the Venetian Dispacci of this year, which in general would be of great value for a detailed account of the event.
90 The reports are in Herrera, Historia del mundo iii. 60 seq. In 1860 Mr. Motley (History of the United Netherlands ii. ch. xviii.) communicated extracts from the letters exchanged at that time between Alex. Farnese and Philip II, which reveal the wishes of each successive moment.
91 J. B. de Tassis Commentarii: 'eo consilio, ut cum adventasset classis et constitisset in Morgat, qui est prope Dormiram [I read Douvram, as the from which the printed text is taken is very defective] districtus maris qui portumque efficit satis securum, trajiceret Parmensis cum navigiis.' Analecta Belgica II. ii. 491. In Motley i. ch. viii we now see that Al. Farnese in his very first plan pointed out the coast between Dover and Margate as the most proper place for the landing. A junction of the whole transport fleet with the Armada before Calais has something too adventurous in it to have been contemplated from the beginning.
92 The Earl of Leicester to the Queen. Hardwicke State Papers i. 580. The dates given above are New Style.
93 Diario de los sucesos de armada Ilamada la invencible, in Salva, Collection de documentos meditos xvi. 449. essentially the same report as that used by Barrow, Life of Sir Francls Drake.
94 Diario 458: 'mandase sallr 40 filipotes luego para juntarse con esta armada para poder con ellos trabarse con los enemigos, que a causa de ser nuestros baseles muy pesados en comparacion de la ligereza de los enemigos no era posible en ninguna mamera venir a las manos con ellos.'
95 Elizabeth to James VI, August 1588, in Rymer and Bruce 53.
96 Molino 'Fu prudentissima nel governare deligente nel consultare, perche voleva assistere a tutti li negotii, perspicasissima nel provederere cose ed accuratissima perche le deliberationi fatte fossero eseginte.'
97 One of her expressions was: 'He that placed her in that seat would preserve her in it.' Contemporary notice in Ellis, Letters II. iii. 194.
98 Hentzner, Itinerarium 137.
99 De Maisse, in Prevost-Paradol, Mémoire sur Elizabeth et Henri IV. Séances et travaux de l'académie des sciences morales, tom. 34.
100 Ockland, in Strype iii. 2, 237: 'Somni perparcus, parce vinique cibique in mensa sumens, semper gravis atque modestus.'
101 Letter to a friend, in Strype iii 2, 379. Certain true general notes upon the actions of Lord Burleigh, in Strype iii 2, 505. A letter from Leicester is in existence, in which he tries to prove that William Cecil had obligations to his father and not merely to the Protector.
102 Naunton, Fragmenta regalia.
103 Sir H Nicolas, Life and Times of Christopher Hatton, communicates (p 30) fragments of the Queen's letters, which lead him to remark that the supposition of an immoral relation (which he elsewhere adopts) is refuted by them. The Queen inquires for instance, What is friendship? 'The union of two minds bound to each other by virtue. He is no more a friend who desires more than the other can reasonably grant.'
104 Herrera, Historia del mundo iii. 754.
105 Device made by the Earl of Essex: Devereux, Lives and Letters of the Devereux, Earls of Essex, ii App. F.
106 Herrera complains at first of the 'ministros infideles' of the Queen; among them he names Essex.
107 In Winwood, Memorials i.
108 Rowland Whyte to Sir Robert Sidney, Michaelmass Day 1599 (the day after the Earl's arrival). Sidney Papers ii 127.
109 'I could not but see and feel what misery was near unto my country by the great power of such as are known indeed to be atheists papists and pensioners of the mortal enemies of this kingdom.' Confession to Ashton, in Devereux ii. 165.
110 'As foreseeing that the rebel will never suffer the King to live or reign, who might permit or take revenge of the treason and rebellion.' In Campbell, Lives of the Lord Chancellors ii. 199.
111 Dispaccio di Carlo Scaramelli 19 Feb. 1603 (Venetian Archives).
112 Memoirs of Robert Cary 116.
113 The first appears in Aubery's Memoires pour servir à l'histoire de Hollande 1687, 214, with another apocryphal tale about finding the bones of Edward IV's children as early as Elizabeth's time. Aubery asserts that he heard the history of the ring from his father's mouth, who had heard it from Prince Maurice of Orange, to whom it had been communicated by the English ambassador Carleton. According to him the Queen then took to her bed, dressed as she was, sprang from it a hundred times during the night, and starved herself to death. Who does not, in reading this, feel himself in a sphere of wild romance? Lady Spelman has tried to clear away the improbability involved in it, that Essex should have applied to the wife of one of his enemles, by making Essex give the ring to a boy passing by, who was to give it, not to the Countess of Nottingham, but to her sister, and then mistook the two ladies.
114 Scaramelli, 27 March. 'per occasione del perdono finalmente fatto al conte di Tirone cadde in una consideratione, che il conte di Essex gia tanto suo intimo di cuore fosse morto innocente.'
115 Letter of the French ambassador from London, 3rd April 1603. 'C'est la verité que delors, qu'elle se sentit atteinte du mal, elle dit de vouloir mourir.' Villeroy, Mémoires d'état iii. 212. Cary: 'The Queen grew worse and worse, because she would be so.' Compare Sloane MS in Ellis iii. 194.
116 Scaramelli writes to his Signoria 7th April (New Style) what was said during those days: 'La regina nel fine della infirmita et della vita dopo haver dormito alcune poche hore ritornata di sana mente conoscendosi moribonda il primo di Aprile corr. fece chiamare i signori del regio consiglio—e commandava loro,—che la corona pervenisse al piu meritevole ch' ella ha trovato sempre nel suo secreto esser il Re di Scotia cosi per il dritto della successione, che per esserne piu degno che non è stata lei, poiche egli è nato re et ella privata—egli le portera un regno et ella non porta altro che se stessa donna.' Without quite accepting this. we must not pass it over. Winwood too writes to Tremouille: 'le jour avant son trespas elle declara pour son successeur le roy d'Escosse.' Memoires i. 461.