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England under the Tudors By Arthur D. Innes Characters: 41855

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:05


ELIZABETH (ii), 1561-68-QUEENS AND SUITORS

[Sidenote: 1561 The Situation]

On August 19th, 1561, Mary Stewart returned to Scotland; in May 1568, she left her kingdom for ever. During those seven years, what she did, what she was accused of doing, what she was expected to do, what she intended to do, formed the subject of the keenest interest and anxiety in England at the time; and the problems and mysteries of those years, never unravelled to this day, never with any certainty to be unravelled at all, continued to perplex English statesmen and to complicate the situation in England for nearly nineteen years more. We shall have to follow them therefore in much greater detail than would a priori seem justifiable in a volume ostensibly dealing not with Scottish but with English History.

During these same years it may be said that the great antagonisms were formulated, which were to rend the two great Continental monarchies for forty years to come. Thus in order to follow the subsequent story efficiently even from the purely English point of view, we must devote what may seem somewhat disproportionate attention to foreign affairs, which do not appear at first sight to have a very intimate connexion with events in England. For France these events may be summed up as the opening of the set struggle between Catholics and Huguenots; for Spain, as the preliminaries to the revolt of the Netherlands: while for all Europe, the effective sessions of the Council of Trent laid down finally the sharp dividing line between Protestant and Catholic-terms which have a well defined political meaning, in neither case identical with their original or correct theological import, in which latter sense half the Protestant world continued to assert its claim to membership in the Catholic Church.

[Sidenote: (1) The Council of Trent]

That Council reassembled under the auspices of Paul's successor, Pius IV., in January 1562. While the Protestants could not recognise it as a Catholic Council, in the sense of representing the whole Catholic Church, it claimed that character for itself, and those who maintained its authority appropriated the name, which thus became a party title. In the course of its sessions, it rejected doctrines, notably that of Justification by Faith, which had been strongly favoured even by such men as Pole and Contarini, so narrowing the bounds of orthodoxy. But while cutting off all possibility of reconciliation with the Protestants, it marked a strong tendency to reformation not of dogma but of practice; while an increased intolerance of what was stigmatised as error, an intensification of the spirit which demanded the most merciless repression of heresy, was accompanied in other respects by an elevation of the standard of ecclesiastical morals, and a zeal for the Faith more pure and less influenced by worldly considerations, if narrower, than in the past. From this time, as the exemplar both of the new discipline, and of the new warfare against heresy, the Order of Jesuits takes its place as the dominating force. The Council terminated in 1563; in 1566 the Pope died and was succeeded by Pius V., the nominee of the most rigid section of the Church.

[Sidenote: (2) France: Catholics, Huguenots, and Politiques]

In France, from the days of Francis I., the tendency had been to persecute the followers of the reformed doctrines, who were for the most part disciples of Calvin rather than of Luther. On the other hand, the political attraction of alliance with the German Lutherans had served to keep the mind of the court open, and throughout the sittings of the Council of Trent there had been and continued to be threats that the Gallican Church might follow the Anglican in claiming independence of the Pope. In France however the opposition lay between the Catholics and the Calvinists, who by 1561 had acquired the general name of Huguenots: in England, the Reformation was carried through under the auspices of a middle ecclesiastical party. In France the middle party was purely political, not aiming at a compromise tending to amalgamation, but rather at holding the two parties balanced.

Before the death of Henry II., the Guise brothers were recognised as the heads of the Catholic faction. The Duke, Francis, was the popular and successful soldier who won back Calais from England: his brother, the Cardinal of Lorraine, was one of the ablest of living ecclesiastics and statesmen. There were four more brothers, all men of mark; and their sister was the mother of Mary Stewart. On the other hand, the family came from Lorraine only in the time of Francis I., and though the first Duke of Guise married a daughter of the house of Bourbon, they were regarded with jealousy by a considerable body of the French nobility, who, partly in consequence, threw their weight in favour of the Protestants. At the head of these now were Anthony of Bourbon, nominal King of Navarre in right of his wife, his brother Condé, and Admiral Coligny, with his brother the Cardinal Chatillon. When Henry II. died, the Guises-uncles of the new Queen (Mary Stewart)-assumed unmistakable supremacy; but when Francis also died, and was succeeded by his younger brother Charles IX., the Queen-mother, Katharine de Medici, obtained for herself the regency, which would naturally have fallen to Navarre as next Prince of the Blood, and the control passed not to the Huguenots but to the "Politiques". [Footnote: The name for the "Middle" Party, which was not however generally adopted till a later date.] It may be remarked that this century is noteworthy for the number of women who made their mark in history as politicians; for Isabella of Castile was still living when it opened, and Elizabeth of England when it closed; Katharine de Medici and Mary Stewart were of ability not much inferior; while Mary of Guise, regent of Scotland, and Mary Tudor in England, were both striking figures; and the women of Charles V.'s family were conspicuous as Governors of the Netherlands.

[Sidenote: Religious war in France 1561-68]

The rule of the Politiques was, unlike that of the Guises, favourable to toleration-as a matter not of conscience but of policy. Katharine's was the controlling spirit, and her chief supporters in the policy were the Chancellor L'H?pital and the Constable Montmorency, a connexion of Coligny's but an orthodox Catholic. In January 1562 a large extension of toleration was granted to the Huguenots, which roused the fanaticism of the other party and drew the Constable over to their ranks. Navarre was induced to go over to the Catholics, leaving the Protestant leadership to Condé. Some of Guise's followers massacred a number of unarmed Huguenots at Vassy; Paris, frantically anti-Huguenot, gave a triumphal reception to Guise, who held Katharine and the boy-king practically prisoners. The Huguenots rose in arms; Navarre was killed, leaving a boy-afterwards Henry IV.-as his heir and the hope of the Huguenots; for his mother Jeanne of Navarre had not followed her husband in his apostasy. A great battle, indecisive in result, was fought at Dreux, in which each of the commanders, Condé and Montmorency, fell into the hands of their antagonists; and then, in February 1563, Francis of Guise was assassinated by the fanatic Poltrot. About the same time died two of his brothers, D'Aumale and the Grand Prior. The result was the termination of the war by the Peace of Amboise, practically confirming the recent edict of toleration. Katharine still refused to adopt the policy, urged on her by Spain as well as by the Guise faction, of suppressing the Huguenots by the sword. The Huguenots, however, believing that Katharine was merely actuated by motives of expediency, and would seek to crush them if a favourable opportunity offered, organised with a view to enforcing their demands in arms, and again took the field in 1567, thereby deciding the Regent in the policy which they had-up to this time perhaps erroneously-attributed to her. For the time being, however, the war was closed in the spring of 1568, by a treaty confirming the terms of the previous Peace of Amboise.

[Sidenote: The Netherlands and Spain]

The Netherlands or Low Countries was the general title of a group of provinces, corresponding in area roughly but not accurately to the modern States of Holland and Belgium. These provinces, originally independent States, but latterly associated in a loose federation, had owned allegiance to the Dukes of Burgundy, and so had passed in due course to Charles V., who in turn transferred them to Philip shortly before his own abdication of the Spanish crown. The institutions within the provinces varied, as did the character and race of their populations: but in general their industrial development was of a high standard, and their wealth was of great importance to the Spanish monarchy. At the hands of Charles, who was brought up as a Netherlander, they enjoyed considerable favour; but Philip, by instinct and training, was a Spaniard, who looked on them as a paying appanage of Spain, had no sympathy with them, and no regard for their political organisations, and did not set foot among them after 1559. Before that year, most of his time since his marriage with Mary had been spent there; but in 1559 he departed, leaving as Governor his sister Margaret of Parma, and ignoring the nobility of the country.

The Reformation doctrines had obtained a very extensive hold, more particularly in the Northern provinces; but had been suppressed with considerable rigour by Charles, who early established the Inquisition in the country. By Philip the severities were increased, and the government of Margaret of Parma was conducted on the like intolerant principles: her chief adviser being Philip's nominee, Cardinal Granvelle. The native nobles-at whose head were Egmont, Horn, and William (the Silent), Prince of Orange [Footnote: William was a Netherlander in virtue of the lordship of Breda.] and Count of Nassau-as well as the burghers, were indignant at the encroachment on the constitutional liberties of the provinces by the appointment of foreigners to offices of State, and by the presence of Spanish troops; and the removal of both was demanded. The multiplication of bishops and endowment of the new bishoprics constituted another grievance. The troops had to be withdrawn, and in 1564 Granvelle left the Netherlands to join his master in Spain; but Philip's determination to bring the whole country into the system of Spanish despotism remained unchanged: and whereas the whole population was in favour of general religious toleration, he insisted, in the face of remonstrance, on intensifying instead of relaxing the edicts against the Reformed doctrines. To avoid the persecution, multitudes of Flemish weavers left the country, to be welcomed by Elizabeth in England, which was rapidly supplanting the commercial supremacy of the Low Countries.

[Sidenote: 1566 Resistance in the Netherlands]

In 1565 it was generally believed that Katharine de Medici was concerting measures, with the Duke of Alva on behalf of Spain, for the suppression of heretics; and this brought matters in the Netherlands to a head. In 1566 a League, widespread though not openly supported by the greatest nobles, was formed for the abolition of the Inquisition, an institution, introduced forty years before by Charles V., which had worked as mercilessly as in Spain. The supporters of the league included Lewis of Nassau, brother of William of Orange; it was known as the Compromise, and its adherents were nick-named the Gueux, or beggars. The general ferment resulted in violent anti-"idolatry" riots, accompanied by great destruction of Church property. The disturbances were quieted down by the exertions of Egmont and William of Orange; the Governor, Margaret of Parma, promising the concessions they advised. Philip however was enraged, repudiated the concessions, and in 1567 sent Alva with an army of Spanish and Italian veterans to restore order. Margaret, finding herself virtually superseded, retired. Alva's conception of order was the enforcement of the worst type of combined military and ecclesiastical tyranny. Egmont (a Catholic), and Horn, though both had rendered the Government conspicuous assistance, were arrested; Orange escaped by retiring to his German dominions. Not Protestants only, but even Maximilian who now occupied the Imperial throne in succession to Ferdinand, remonstrated; yet Philip obstinately encouraged Alva to go on his way. William of Orange avowed himself a Protestant; and in the spring a mixed army of Netherlander, Huguenots, and Germans, took the field under Lewis of Nassau. The revolt of the Netherlands may be reckoned as dating from the first engagement, at Heiligerlee, in May 1568. The Spaniards were worsted, and as an immediate consequence, Egmont and Horn were sent to the block.

[Sidenote: Elizabeth, Mary, and their Suitors]

The arrival of Mary Stewart in Scotland brings her personality into more intimate relation with that of Elizabeth than before. The problem of finding bridegrooms politically and personally acceptable to the two queens becomes particularly prominent. Arran, flatly declined by Elizabeth, becomes for a time one of her cousin's actual suitors. The Archduke Charles becomes a possible candidate for either. Dudley, still looked upon as Elizabeth's favoured lover, is offered by her to Mary as a husband. Now, too, we first meet with Henry Stewart, Lord Darnley, [Footnote: See Appendix A, iii.] whose mother, Lady Lennox, was daughter of Margaret Tudor by her second husband, the young man himself being a possible successor to the English throne. Being an English as well as a Scottish subject, brought up in England and therefore not, like Mary-whatever her claims by descent-an alien, that technical ground for disputing her succession did not apply to him. He too was mentioned as a possible suitor both for Elizabeth's and for Mary's hand. Then there was Don Carlos, son of Philip of Spain by his first wife, to whom Mary had a political inclination; or again there was for her a possibility of marrying her dead husband's brother, the boy-king Charles IX. of France. Mary herself, it must be remembered, was still some months short of nineteen when she landed at Leith. And it was a matter of grave political importance to Elizabeth, who should be the man to share the Scottish throne.

[Sidenote: 1562 Mary in Scotland]

Mary's reception was austere not to say brutal on the part of Knox and his friends; but the Earl of Murray (as Lord James Stewart soon after became) and Maitland, confident now in the security of Protestantism, were not disposed to subordinate polities to zealotry. They were ready for a degree of toleration. Their ultimate goal was the union of the crowns; and they wished Mary to repose her confidence on them. They would not press her to ratify the Treaty of Edinburgh, at any rate unless she was formally recognised as heir presumptive of England. Mary, for her part, though holding by her own faith, was not slow to perceive that for the present at least she must not challenge the Reformers. Her first business was conciliation.

The year 1562 was not far advanced when the first Huguenot war broke out in France. Condé was soon making overtures to Elizabeth, and her Protestant counsellors, headed by Cecil, were zealous that she should lend his party active support, with the restoration of Calais to England as the price. Philip of Spain, bent on suppressing the Netherlands heretics, was strongly on the side of the Guises, and threatened Elizabeth if she should venture to intervene. The house of the Spanish Ambassador in London was the centre of much Catholic intriguing; and much of what was going on was betrayed to Cecil by a secretary. Elizabeth was angry enough, but could not afford an open rupture with Philip, who, now that Mary was no longer Queen of France, might find it in his interest to support her pretensions to the English throne. On the other hand, the French Queen-mother could not now view with complacency the succession of Mary with her Guise connexions, coupled with the possibility of her matrimonial alliance either with the Spanish Don Carlos or the Habsburg Archduke Charles. Elizabeth's own desire now was to be in amity with Mary, and to have her married to some one who would not be dangerous. For a long time she dallied with the idea of meeting Mary with a view to a settlement as to the ratification of the Edinburgh treaty and her recognition as heir presumptive; and Catholic hopes ran high. But the successes of the Guise party in France forced her hand by alarming the Protestants. She had to decline the meeting with Mary, and at least to make a show of enforcing the laws against attendance at Mass more energetically. She had, in fact, been letting herself believe that she could indulge her personal predilection for the more ceremonial worship of the old faith; but as usual when a crisis seemed, really imminent, her personal predilections were suppressed for the time.

[Sidenote: 1562-63 Elizabeth and the Huguenots]

As the year went on, the intrigue with Condé reached a point at which the Huguenot leader actually handed over Havre to the English, and promised the restitution of Calais; and before the autumn was far advanced, the town was garrisoned, and a troop of English-ignoring instructions from home-went to join Condé. The colour for Elizabeth's action was that the Guises had usurped the government, and that they palpably and avowedly directed their policy to the injury of England; also that she was entitled to take measures to ensure the restoration of Calais, promised by treaty. The fighting went steadily against the Huguenots, and Elizabeth made the mistake-in which the country supported her even with passion-of holding Condé to his promise as to Calais, instead of applying herself to the establishment of the Huguenots as a powerful Anglophil anti-Guise party. Throwing over the method which had so successfully cleared Scotland of the French, she staked everything on the recovery of Calais, forced half Condé's friends to look upon him as something very like a traitor, and alienated Huguenot sentiment completely. The battle of Dreux in December, followed early in the next year by the murder of Guise, led to the truce of Amboise, in April, between the warring factions; England was left in the lurch. A desperate effort was made to retain the grip on Havre, but an outbreak of the plague among the garrison ruined all chance of success. It fell, and with it the last hope of recovering Calais (July 1563). It was not till the spring of 1564 that the French war was formally terminated by the treaty of Troyes, when the English, after much vain haggling, found themselves obliged to accept the French terms.

[Sidenote: The English Succession]

Near the end of 1562 the Queen had been stricken with smallpox and her life all but despaired of; so that the grave problem of the Succession assumed a momentary prominence. Henry's Will had never been set aside; but no one would have viewed with favour the claims of the Greys. Mary of Scotland, the heir by inheritance, was an alien, and abhorrent to the Protestants. Darnley was the only remaining claimant of Tudor stock; [Footnote: Except the Clifford or Stanley branch, junior to the Greys. See Front.] while the House of York had still representatives living, in two grandsons of the old Countess of Salisbury executed by Henry-the Earl of Huntingdon and Arthur Pole, the latter of whom did actually become the centre of a still-born plot. What would have happened had the Queen died at this juncture it is impossible to guess: happily for England, she recovered. But the interest attaching to Mary's course was intensified.

The Scots Queen had in the meantime ostensibly given her support to Murray and Maitland, accompanying her half-brother on an expedition to crush Huntly, the head of the Catholic nobility. Murray and Maitland did their best during the early months of 1563 to force the recognition of their Queen as Elizabeth's heir by the menace of her marriage with the Prince of Spain; Elizabeth in turn did her own best to induce Mary to marry Dudley, whom she later on raised to the rank of Earl of Leicester. This union however was one which neither Mary herself nor any of her counsellors would accept; and when the year closed, Knox and the extreme Calvinists were grimly assimilating the to them portentous probability that she would end by marrying either Don Carlos or the young King of France-either event threatening the restoration of the Old Church in Scotland.

[Sidenote: 1564 Darnley and others]

The civil war in France ended, as we saw, in the triumph of the Politiques. The corollary was the treaty of Troyes with En

gland in the spring of 1564. The French court was now disposed to be friendly towards Elizabeth; the Guises had lost weight by the death of the Duke; Philip of Spain saw nothing to gain by further embroilments; so the chances of Mary's marriage either with his son or with Charles IX. were small. The Scots Queen began to give Darnley a leading place in her own mind, feeling that a marriage with him would give a double claim to the English succession, and one in favour of which the whole of the English Catholics would be united. So far Elizabeth had only urged her to marry an English nobleman, with an implication that Leicester [Footnote: Dudley was not in fact raised to the Earldom till the year was well advanced.] was intended. Mary tried to extract approval for Darnley, but with the result only that Leicester was definitely and explicitly nominated. Yet even on behalf of her favourite, the English Queen would not commit herself on the subject of the succession. On the other hand, with the exception of Maitland of Lethington who was not actually opposed to the Darnley marriage on condition of Elizabeth's public approval, the Scottish Protestants were very unfavourable to that solution. So the year passed in perpetual diplomatic fencing, Mary trying to draw Darnley to Scotland, while Elizabeth kept him at her own court, to which he with both his parents had been attached for many years past. It is not a little curious to find all this intriguing crossed by a proposal from Katharine de Medici that King Charles should marry not Mary but Elizabeth, who was eighteen years his senior: while Elizabeth herself was trying to revive the idea of her own marriage with the Archduke Charles, whose brother Maximilian had just succeeded Ferdinand as Emperor. In February 1565, Elizabeth found it no longer possible to prevent Darnley's return to Scotland, and in April it was tentatively announced that he was to be Mary's husband.

[Sidenote: 1565 The Darnley marriage]

It is not impossible [Footnote: The case for this view is effectively put in Lang, Hist. of Scotland, ii., pp. 136 ff.; and cf. Creighton, Queen Elizabeth, p. 87.] that privately Elizabeth had expected and desired that Mary should jeopardise her position precisely in this manner, counting on the animosity to the marriage not only of Knox's party but of all the adherents of the rival house of Hamilton. If so she was justified in the event. But publicly she expressed a strong disapproval, which took colour from the risk that the marriage might serve to rally the English Catholics in support of the joint Stewart succession. At any rate, whether Mary merely miscalculated the political forces; or, weary of the shackles which preachers and politicians sought to impose on her, determined to take her own way at last at any cost; or allowed herself to be swayed by an unaccountable fancy for the person of her young cousin, a spoilt, arrogant, and vicious boy; marry him she did, at the end of July: in defiance of the sentiment of all her Protestant subjects, half of whom were really afraid of the attempted revival of Catholic domination, while the rest foresaw, at the best, the gravest political complications, and the revival of internecine clan and family feuds and intrigues. Mary however had not taken the step until she was sure in the first place that there was no prospect of her marriage with Don Carlos, and had in the second place received assurances of support from Philip [Footnote: Cf. Hume, Love Affairs of Mary Queen of Scots, p. 262. Mary was aiming at a Catholic combination under Philip, with the active co-operation of Rome. Cecil and Elizabeth however had good reason from experience to count on Spain's immobility, and may very well have counted also on Darnley's imbecility. They knew him.] if she married Darnley. For a girl of two and twenty, working single handed, it was an exceedingly clever move-on the hypothesis that Philip was capable of taking open action, and Darnley of acting with common decency and common intelligence.

[Sidenote: Mary and Murray]

The Protestant lords however were not unanimous. Maitland and the Douglases did not join Murray and the Hamiltons who, even before the actual marriage, were practically in open rebellion. But Mary was now playing for her own hand; if she had any trusted counsellor it was her deformed Italian secretary, David Rizzio. She dropped diplomatic fencing. Elizabeth, who had been privately sending money to Murray, remonstrated on his behalf; but Mary asserted her right to deal with her own rebellious subjects. Now, as always, she maintained that she had no intention of subverting the Protestant religion, though she desired the same freedom for Catholics as for Calvinists. But she would not submit to dictation; and any promises she was willing to make were conditional on the recognition first of herself and her heirs and afterwards of Lady Lennox's heirs, as Elizabeth's successors. At the end of August she marched against Murray and the insurgents; they however avoided battle. On October 6th Murray and his principal adherents crossed the Border. A little later he was allowed to present himself at the English court, where Elizabeth [Footnote: Froude, viii., pp. 213 ff. (Ed. 1864): with which cf. Lang, Hist. Scotland, ii., pp. 150 ff., and authorities there cited.] publicly rated him, and declared that she would never assist rebels against their lawful sovereign. Murray, who had just written to Cecil that he would "never have enterprised the action but that he had been moved thereto by the Queen" of England, accepted Elizabeth's lecture without protest.

[Sidenote: The murder of Rizzio, 1566]

The expulsion of Murray from Scotland did not hinder the coming tragedy; perhaps it had the contrary effect. The lords round Mary were bitterly aggrieved by Rizzio's influence; Darnley long before he was six months married, chose to be jealous of the secretary, a sentiment carefully fostered by the lords. The common hatred united them in a "band" for the murder of Rizzio, of which Sadler, the English envoy, was cognisant; Murray probably knew just so much as he chose to know. The plot was carried out in March. The conspirators broke into Mary's room at Holyrood, and butchered Rizzio almost before her eyes.

[Sidenote: Kirk o' Field, 1567]

It may be doubted whether Mary ever forgave any one who was implicated or supposed to be implicated in that outrage. For her husband, as the offence in him was foulest and the insult from him to her deepest, she assuredly conceived and cherished a bitter loathing. But there was one man who had always been ready to champion her cause, the daring, reckless, ruffianly James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell, who nevertheless was no mere swash-buckler, but according to Scottish standards of the day, a man of education [Footnote: Lang, Hist. Scotland, ii., p. 168.] and even, it would seem, of some culture. From this time, Bothwell was her one ally. She had the policy and the self-control to profess a desire for reconciliation even with Darnley: to receive Murray and even Lethington into apparent favour. But Darnley's brief rapprochement with the lords was soon over; his intolerable arrogance was made the worse by his contemptibility. Three months after Rizzio's murder, the envy of the Virgin Queen of England was roused by the birth of a son to Mary. The history of the following months becomes a chaos of which there are a dozen conflicting versions. The one clear fact is that another "band" was formed to put Darnley out of the way. There were pretences at attempted reconciliation between Mary and Darnley, while the Queen's relations with Bothwell were so intimate as to produce rumours no less scandalous than those which had prevailed about Elizabeth and Dudley. Darnley fell ill; a better appearance than usual of reconciliation was patched up. The sick man was conveyed to Kirk o' Field, a house near Edinburgh, where Mary joined him. Thence one evening she went to Holyrood to attend a bridal masque. That night the house was blown up; Darnley's unscathed corpse was found in the garden.

From the tangled mass [Footnote: The evidence has been discussed in many volumes. The most judicial examination with which the present writer is acquainted is that in Mr. Lang's Mystery of Mary Stewart, summarised in his History of Scotland, ii., pp. 168 ff.] of letters, narratives, and confessions, it remains, and will for ever remain, impossible to ascertain more than a fragment of the real truth. As to many of the documents, it is hard to say whether the theory of their genuineness or of their forgery is the more incredible. For the confessions, every man had a dozen good reasons for sheltering some of the guilty, implicating some of the innocent, and garbling the actual facts. That the thing was done by Bothwell is absolutely certain; it is hardly less doubtful that both Maitland and Morion helped to hatch the plot; there is no conclusive proof that Mary was active in it. No single act can be brought home to her which was necessarily incompatible with innocence-or with guilt. It is the accumulation of suspicious circumstances which makes the presumption lean heavily to guilt; but it remains no more than a presumption; no jury would have been justified in convicting. Her accusers had a strong case; but they tried to strengthen it by inventing or suborning additional evidence palpably false, with the result of discrediting the whole-and her friends adopted the same tactics. That both Mary and Murray knew that some plot existed, and that neither of them stirred a finger to frustrate it, is hardly an open question.

Guilty in the fullest sense or not guilty, Mary's detestation of Darnley was notorious; and within three months of the murder she was the wife of the man whom the whole world accounted the murderer. Naturally, the whole world believed that she was Bothwell's accomplice in the act, and his mistress before it. There was a show at least of the marriage being brought about by force. A formal attempt at investigation into the murder had collapsed. Bothwell had his supporters; he kidnapped the Queen and Maitland-not one of his supporters-with her. A scandalous divorce was pronounced between him and his wife, and Mary wedded him. The only credible explanation is that she was over-mastered by a passion for the daring ruffian who at least had always stood by her. The lords-accomplices in the murder with the rest-were almost immediately in arms to "rescue" the Queen, who took the field by her husband's side. The opposing forces met at Carberry Hill; Bothwell, seeing the contest to be hopeless, fled; Mary surrendered.

[Sidenote: Mary made prisoner]

The Queen was forthwith imprisoned in Lochleven Castle; and just at this time the famous casket of letters from Mary to Bothwell was seized, in the custody of a servant of Bothwell's. Of the documents subsequently produced as having formed part of that collection, the experts are totally unable to prove decisively whether any or all are genuine, or forged, or a mixture of forgeries and transcripts from genuine originals; though on the whole the last hypothesis is the least incredible of the three.

[Sidenote 1: Murray made regent]

[Sidenote 2: 1568 Mary's escape to England]

All this took place in June. Elizabeth was now suggesting that the baby prince James should be sent to her safe-keeping: there were similar hints-mutatis mutandis-from France. The Scots lords played off French and English against each other, and kept the child in their own hands. There was a strong desire in some quarters that Mary should be put to death; she was actually compelled, at the end of July, to sign her abdication in favour of the infant James. Soon after Murray arrived from France, whither he had gone shortly after the murder, and she assented to his appointment as Regent-indeed begged him to undertake it, having virtually no other course open. Both he and Lethington probably desired to protect her. Meantime however, Elizabeth was demanding her release, the successful rebellion of subjects against their lawful prince being by no means to her liking. Murray, however, felt that such a course could only involve civil war, and if pressed would force him to have Mary executed on the strength of the evidence, genuine or forged, of her complicity in the murder of Darnley. Yet it was universally believed that many of the lords now with Murray were no less guilty; over their heads too the sword was hanging by a thread. Murray as Regent ruled with vigour; and his enforcement of the anti-Catholic laws soon roused the hostility of that section. After many months of imprisonment, the Queen succeeded in escaping from Lochleven in May (1568); but the attempt to rally her followers was desperate. There was a fight at Langside on May 13th; Mary's party were completely routed; she herself fled south; and on May 16th she crossed the Solway; becoming, and remaining from thenceforth, Elizabeth's prisoner.

Thus, in June 1568, there was in France an uneasy truce between Catholics and Huguenots; in the Netherlands, the struggle between the Prince of Orange and Alva was just commencing; in Britain, the Queen of Scots had just fallen into the power of her sister of England-disgraced in the eyes of the world by her marriage with Bothwell, and on almost all hands credited with the murder of Darnley; so that whatever might happen it was certain that no foreign Power would have either the will or the means to intervene on her behalf.

The affairs of Ireland will demand our attention; but, as they did not at the time directly influence English policy, it will be more convenient to treat of them consecutively in a later chapter. The same may be said of the great sea-going movement, which was now active and was in a few years' time to be revealed as a feature of the first importance in the development of "our island story". Here we will merely note that the consideration of these subjects is deferred. The progress however of the religious settlement, always a present factor in the relations of England with other Powers, requires to be treated pari passu with the other events of the period; as also do the relations between the Queen and her Parliament.

[Sidenote: England: Protestantism of the Government]

We have already observed that Elizabeth had personal predilections in favour of the ceremonial, if not the actual theological, position adopted by her father. The weightiest of her counsellors however, headed by Cecil and Bacon, succeeded in a more definite protestantising of the bench of bishops than the Queen herself would have desired. The formularies of the Church, confirmed by the Act of Uniformity, were very much easier to reconcile with Calvinism than with what Calvinists called idolatry, and in particular the abolition of the law of celibacy in itself had a very strong tendency to abolish the sense of differentiation between clergy and laity so essential to the old Catholic position. It may have been the consciousness of this which made Elizabeth feel and express with much freedom her own objection to married clerics. But Cecil and his party were alive to the fact that the religious cleavage was everywhere becoming intensified as a political cleavage also; that politically, England would be obliged to declare for one side or the other, or would be rent in twain; that danger to Elizabeth's throne-and this she fully recognised herself- was much more likely to arise from Catholic than from Protestant quarters. Being therefore determined that she should take the Protestant side-whether from genuine religious conviction or from motives of political expediency-they steadily encouraged moderate Protestants of the type of Archbishop Parker, and others who were still more under the influence of the Swiss, or at least the Lutheran, reformers; a course in which they were greatly aided by the direct hostility to Elizabeth of the Guise party in France. In that country, the Politiques found themselves driven into the Catholic camp; in England, the Queen, whose personal sentiments were not unlike those of Katharine de Medici, was reluctantly compelled by the force of circumstances to yield to her Protestant advisers.

[Sidenote: Religious parties]

Elizabeth's first Parliament was puritan in its tendencies, and only fell short of that which had approved the second prayer-book of Edward. The bulk of the clergy still no doubt favoured the old religion, but it was the followers of the new lights who received promotion, and it was they who were encouraged by the Act of Uniformity. In many parts of the country, however, and especially in the North, the magnates countenanced a hardly veiled disregard of the new laws: and the Queen's apparent inclination to find a way of recognising Mary as her successor, as well as her favour for crosses and disfavour for married clergy, raised the hopes of the Catholics. The Huguenot war in 1562 compelled her to change her tone, and enabled Cecil to enforce the law against attendance at Mass with greater vigour. The first Parliament had been dissolved in 1559; the second, which met in the beginning of 1563, was not less strenuously Protestant and opposed to the Stewart succession. It was only the determined stand of the Catholic peers which prevented sharp legislation against the Catholics in general; and even as it was, the application of the oath of Supremacy was widened. Then Parliament was prorogued, and the affair of Havre caused the Huguenot alliance to cool. By the winter of 1564-5, the English Queen was irritating the bishops and the clergy, the most capable of whom were increasingly identifying themselves with puritan views, by insistence not altogether successful on obedience to the Act of Uniformity in the matter of vestments; although it was notorious that there was strong feeling against some of the regulations, which in not a few instances were habitually ignored. The feeling was intensified by a lively suspicion that she really wished for the Darnley marriage which actually took place a few months later, though she was professedly urging Leicester's suit, and beyond all doubt encouraged Murray and the Scottish Protestants to rebellion.

[Sidenote: 1566-67 Parliament and the Queen's marriage]

It was not till the autumn of 1566 that Parliament reassembled; more than ever determined to get the Queen committed to a marriage which should end the menace of the Stewart succession. This desire was in some cases the cause and in others the effect of a zealous protestantism. A Bill was introduced, at the instance of the Bishops acting on a vote of Convocation, to compel the clergy to subscribe the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, a slight modification of Edward's Forty-two Articles; but this was withdrawn after passing the Commons. The Queen was enraged by the audacity of the Commons in discussing the question of her marriage and the succession, and she attempted to suppress debate; but was met with a stubborn insistence, headed by Cecil, on the constitutional rights of the House. Elizabeth had to give way; but while on the question of principle the Parliament was victorious, it did not press the victory and the Queen was enabled to evade the immediate issue. The house voted supplies generously, after which she succeeded in dissolving it with a sharp reprimand and without definitely committing herself on the subject either of her own marriage or of the succession. But this was hardly accomplished, when the murder of Darnley, for the time being at least, divided the party which had hitherto supported Mary's claim to the English throne.

[Sidenote: The Queen and the Archduke]

For some months, the question of Elizabeth's marriage was allowed to fall into abeyance; but the effect of the murder was in some degree counteracted by the imprisonment of Mary in Lochleven the appeal to chivalry of a deserted, helpless, and lovely woman, and the very unattractive character of most of the men now at the head of the Scottish Government. The Stewart cause seemed to be in some danger of reviving, and once again the English Council began to urge the marriage with the Archduke Charles. Elizabeth pretended concurrence, but when she refused to promise that Charles should be allowed the free exercise of his own religion in England, it was no longer possible to doubt that she was merely playing with the idea; while there were certainly a great many of her subjects who entirely sympathised with the ostensible grounds on which the negotiation was broken off. The prospect of a closer union with the House of Habsburg was dispelled, almost at the moment when the Scots Queen fell into Elizabeth's hands, and the standard of revolt against the Spanish system was being raised in the Netherlands.

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