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England under the Tudors By Arthur D. Innes Characters: 36379

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:05


ELIZABETH (iv), 1572-78-VARIUM ET MUTABILE

[Sidenote: The Queen's diplomacy]

The picture of Elizabeth and of her surroundings hitherto presented in these pages has been one which rouses rather a reluctant admiration for a combination of good fortune and dexterity than a moral enthusiasm. Statesmen, in fact, had to pick their way with such extreme wariness through such a labyrinth of intrigues that little play was permitted to their more generous instincts; and it is undeniable that Elizabeth herself loved intricate methods, and made it quite unnecessarily difficult for her ministers to pursue a straightforward course. This is the aspect of the national life which is inevitably forced on our attention-the diplomatic aspect in an age when diplomacy was playing an immense part in public affairs. For England, it might almost be said that diplomatic methods had been created by Henry VII., maintained by Wolsey, dropped again for thirty years, and then re-created by Elizabeth. As Wolsey had played France and the Empire against each other, to make England the arbiter of Europe, so Elizabeth played France and Spain against each other, so that neither could afford to go beyond empty threats against her in her own territory; while both governments had recalcitrant Protestant subjects who were a good deal more hampering and disquieting to them than were Elizabeth's Catholic subjects to her. In Scotland, Elizabeth's policy, like her father's, was that of maintaining factions which kept the country divided.

Now the persons with whom Elizabeth had to deal were for the most part perfectly unscrupulous. The Queen-mother in France, the Scots lords, Philip of Spain, and the Spanish ambassadors with the exception of De Silva, were as ready to make and ignore promises and professions as was Elizabeth herself. If they found her fully a match for them at their own game, we can hardly reproach her if we cannot applaud. But it is notable that in England, the arch-dissembler is Elizabeth herself. It is she who manages the undignified but eminently successful trickery of the marriage negotiations. It is she who evades committing herself irrevocably to the Huguenots or to the Prince of Orange. It is she who preserves Mary's restoration as a possibility, to be held in terrorem over Scotland after publishing her accusers' evidence against her.

[Sidenote: The Queen's subjects]

But the success of this supreme wiliness, a quality in which perhaps Elizabeth's one rival was Lethington, was due to the presence in her ministers and in her people of moral qualities which she did not herself display. First and foremost was their loyalty to her. They acted boldly on secret instructions, with entire certainty that they must take the whole responsibility upon themselves; that to be pardoned for success was the highest official recognition they could hope for; that flat repudiation and probable ruin would follow failure. Burghley in particular repeatedly risked favour to save the Queen from herself, when her vacillation, calculated or not, was on the verge of being carried too far; nor was he alone in speaking his mind; yet in spite of merciless snubs his fidelity was unimpaired; none of her enemies ever dreamed for an instant that he could be tampered with. Nor did it ever appear that more than a very few even among the most discontented of her subjects would lend themselves to open disloyalty. In England, there were almost none who would have anything to say to the political assassinations which repeatedly stained the annals of the nations of the Continent and of Scotland: a peculiarity remarked on in the Spanish correspondence.

Again, the religious tone and temper of the country were in striking contrast to those prevailing where the Reformation assumed the Calvinistic model. In France and in Scotland, Protestants and Catholics were ready to fly at each other's throats; in England that inclination was confined to extremists of either party. The bulk of the population was quite content with conformity to a compromise, and was tolerant of a very considerable theoretical disagreement, and even of actual nonconformity, so long as it was not actively aggressive. It was not till Jesuits on one side, and ultra-puritans on the other, developed an active propaganda directed against the established order, that there was any general desire to strike hard at either; nor did even the puritan parliaments display any violent anti-Catholic animus till roused by the insult to the nation of the Bull of Deposition.

[Sidenote: Development of Protestantism]

While the characteristically English love of compromise and devotion to conventions kept the bulk of the population loyal to the established Forms of religion, acquiescent but not enthusiastic, their normal conservatism also disposed them more favourably to teachers of the old than of the innovating school; but other forces were at work, which encouraged the growth of what may be called the Old Testament spirit of militant religiosity directed against Rome and all that savoured of Rome. Stories of the doings of the Inquisition, the enormities perpetrated by Alva in the Netherlands, the fate of English sailors who might, not without justice, have been punished for piracy, but were in fact made to suffer on the ground of heresy, the crowning horror of St. Bartholomew, appealed luridly to the popular imagination. The country was threatened with internal discord by the presence of a Catholic aspirant to the throne, which concentrated the forces of disorganisation on the Catholic side. Protestantism, thereby at once extended and intensified, took its colour from the most active and energetic of the religious teachers, and developed a vehement popular sympathy with the French Huguenots and the revolting Netherlanders; and however politicians might evade official entanglement, English sentiment-at any rate after St. Bartholomew-was always ready to take arms openly in the Protestant cause.

[Sidenote: Katharine de Medici]

When Katharine and the Guises let the Paris mob loose on the Huguenots, they had doubtless no intention of perpetrating so vast a slaughter. They found that it was one thing to cry "Havoc" and quite another to cry "Halt". When the thing was done, they could not have disavowed it wholly, even if they would. Katharine however made desperate efforts to minimise her own responsibility, and to justify what she had done by charges of treason against the murdered admiral and his associates. She had in fact meant to cripple the Huguenots by destroying their leaders, yet to provide a defence sufficiently plausible to prevent a breach with England. Her object had been to recover her own ascendancy in France, not to replace Coligny by the Guises. What she succeeded in doing was to turn France into two hostile camps; since the massacres had not sufficed to destroy the Huguenot power of offering an organised defence and defiance. On the other hand Alva was prompt, and Philip as prompt as his nature permitted, to realise that some capital might be made out of the revulsion in England against the French Government.

[Sidenote: The aim of Elizabeth]

Walsingham, the English Ambassador in Paris, was a sincere Puritan; Burghley's sympathies, personal as well as political, were strongly Protestant. For some time past, both had desired on the mere grounds of political expediency to bid defiance to Spain and frankly avow the cause of the Prince of Orange. They believed that England was already strong enough to face the might of Philip. The moral incentive was now infinitely stronger. That this would be the generous and the courageous course was manifest. Now, too, the English people would have adopted it with a stern enthusiasm worth many ships and many battalions. The course Elizabeth adopted was less heroic, more selfish, safer for the interests of England. That sooner or later a duel with Spain was all but inevitable she must have recognised; but she had seen the power and wealth of England growing year by year, the stability of the Government becoming ever more assured; if an immediate collision could be averted, she calculated that the process would continue, whereas the strain of repressing and holding down the Netherlanders would tell adversely on the power of Spain. The longer, therefore, that the struggle could be staved off, the better.

Fortune favoured her: for the resistance of the Netherlands was very much more stubborn than could have been anticipated. The Protestant fervour in her people, aroused by St. Bartholomew, was kept alive and intensified, as time went on, by other events, and was moreover concentrated upon animosity to Spain. When the great conflict took place, sixteen years later, its result was decisive. It cannot be affirmed with confidence that it would have been so now. From the prudential point of view, Elizabeth was justified by the event. But it is at least possible that the victory would have been equally decisive at the earlier date, and its moral value in that case would undoubtedly have been greater.

[Sidenote: 1572 England and St. Bartholomew]

At the first moment when intelligence of the massacre at Paris was brought to England, the Queen as well as her ministers believed that it was simply the prelude to a Romanist crusade. It was imagined that the plot had been concocted in collusion with Philip and Alva, the outcome of the suspected Catholic League of 1565. Instant preparations were made for war; the musters were called out, the fleet was manned, troops were raised in readiness to embark for Flushing; and immediate overtures were made to Mar-the second Regent in Scotland since the murder of Murray-for handing Mary over to him to be executed. The popular indignation was expressed in bold and uncompromising terms by Walsingham in Paris, in answer to the attempts of the French Government to excuse itself. In England, it was long before the Queen would admit the French Ambassador to audience; when she did so, her Council was in presence; all were clad in mourning; Elizabeth spoke in terms of the most formal frigidity; on her withdrawal, Burghley, speaking for the Council, expressed their sentiments in very plain language. It is abundantly clear that the whole nation from the Queen down was grimly and confidently prepared for war if war should come.

[Sideline: Spain seeks amity]

But war was not to come. Katharine was not in collusion with Philip; she knew well enough that as things stood, in such an alliance France would begin in a subordinate position, and success would only accentuate and render overwhelming the predominance of Spain. Her one desire was to patch up a reconciliation with England. Alva had no illusions about a Catholic crusade; he only rejoiced that the danger of an Anglo-French coalition was scotched; and only desired to make sure that Elizabeth, left to herself, should not make his task in the Netherlands more difficult. Therefore he strove strenuously, and with ultimate success, to impress the same view of affairs on the slowly moving mind of his master at Madrid, who was at first bitten with the idea of effecting a Catholic revolution in England and marrying Mary to Anjou.

So when Mons, with Lewis of Nassau in it, was forced to capitulate, Alva, by way of contrast to the massacre at Paris, allowed the Huguenots to march out with the honours of war-ostentatiously reversing his usual merciless policy: and he pointedly adopted the most conciliatory attitude towards England.

[Sidenote: 1573]

Elizabeth for her part was ready enough to respond. A renewal of the commercial relations in the Netherlands was eminently desirable. The war going on in that country was not to her own taste; politically and theologically she thought the example of the Netherlanders dangerous- one of the real reasons which helped to make her hold back from espousing their cause-and she offered to mediate between Alva and William of Orange, expressing readiness for her own part to have a settlement of all the outstanding grievances between Spain and England. She even went so far as to revive the suggestion of a really representative Council, for the purpose of arriving at a general religious settlement--a suggestion so entirely impracticable that it was quite safe to make it. Also with regard to some of the grievances, it was tolerably certain that no solution could be offered in which both the parties would acquiesce. But the fundamental thing, both in her eyes and in Alva's, was to revive the old status of amity, officially if also superficially.

[Sidenote: April: A Spanish alliance]

Finally, in spite of the remonstrances of the Pope and the protests of the English Catholic exiles of the Northern Rebellion, who had found an asylum in the Netherlands under the aegis of Spain, a provisional alliance was effected, to last for two years, in April 1573. Spain deserted the English revolutionary Catholics; Elizabeth recalled the English volunteers from Flanders; and commerce was restored. There was a brief lull in the piratical activity of English sailors; and the French were officially left alone to settle the domestic hostilities which afforded them a quite sufficient occupation.

[Sidenote: Scotland: End of the Marians]

By this time, too, the last serious struggle of the Marian party in Scotland was entering on its final stage. There, after Murray's death, the Hamiltons, joined by Lethington and Kirkcaldy of Grange, refused to acknowledge the young King, or the authority of the Regency--an office in which Murray was succeeded first by the incompetent Lennox, and afterwards by Mar, Lennox being killed in the course of a fight. Finally Lethington and Grange were shut up in Edinburgh Castle, where they continued to bid defiance to the Government. When however overtures were made by England for the delivery of Mary to Mar for execution, the negotiation broke down on the question of Responsibility. Mar would not carry out the extreme measure, unless supported by English troops and by the presence of high English officials. Elizabeth as usual insisted, in effect, that she must be able to repudiate complicity. As the fear of a combined Catholic attack melted away, the English Queen lost her anxiety to be rid of her rival. Mar died; Morton was nominated to the regency. Then also died John Knox, the last of the men who had seen the Reformation through from its commencement; grim to the end.

[Sidenote: The Netherlands, France, and Spain]

When the new year, 1573, came in, Elizabeth, fearing that the Scots lords might, unless they received something besides vague promises, turn to France after all, at length acknowledged the Regent and the King. A compromise was accepted by the Marian lords with the exception of Lethington and Grange in the Castle. But while these held out, the conflagration might be renewed at any time. Elizabeth then reluctantly yielded to the pressure on her from every side. Money, troops, siege- guns, and Drury in command, were sent in April to the help of Morton. After a stubborn resistance, the siege artillery proved too much for the garrison; their outworks were carried, their water-supply cut off, and they were forced to surrender in the last days of May. Lethington survived only a few days; rumour had it that he died by his own act. The craftiest brain in Scotland was stilled but a few months after her sincerest and fiercest tongue was silenced. With Maitland's death, all prospect of reconstructing an organised Queen's-party vanished. It was not many months after these events that Alva, in accordance with his own wishes, was recalled. Conquest did not mean pacification. Haarlem after a prolonged and desperate resistance, fell in July, and the garrison was put to the sword; but there was no hint of yielding on the part of the Hollanders. When the Spaniards advanced on Alkmaar, they were threatened with the opening of the dykes.

Hardly less significant of the determination of Orange and his following never to submit, at whatever cost, is the fact that they were prepared in the last resort to receive Anjou as their Protector--Anjou, who was regarded as a ring-leader in the Paris massacre. The same fact is convincing evidence of the overwhelming antagonism of French and Spanish political interests. Had the French been capable of arranging their religious quarrels on the basis of a fairly inclusive compromise, like that in England, so that the moderates could have worked together, such a league as Walsingham had hoped for before St. Bartholomew would have been entirely in the interest both of France and of England. The advantage of it to France was so obvious that, even after the massacre, it was possible for the perpetrators to contemplate friendly relations with foreign Protestants, and for foreign Protestants to regard such relations as possible. Still it was only in the last resort that the Anjou scheme could have been embraced, and perhaps it was now propounded more by way of forcing Elizabeth's hand than for any other purpose. At any rate the project did not deter Anjou from accepting the crown of Poland--only to drop it and hurry back to assume the sceptre of France as Henry III. when King Charles IX. sank to the grave in 1574.

[Sidenote: 1573-74 The Netherlands, Spain, and England]

Requescens, Alva's successor, adopted a comparatively conciliatory policy. The restoration of the constitutional Government of the States of the Netherlands was offered, on condition of acceptance of Catholicism. In the eyes of Elizabeth, who regarded religious observances as falling entirely to the supreme government to settle, while she could not understand a conscientious objection to outward conformity, the refusal of those terms by Orange seemed quite unreasonable; even Burghley was detached from Walsingham and from those who, thinking with him, still counted the maintenance of Protestantism, and as a necessary corollary hostility to Spain, as the first object which ought to be pursued. This attitude of England, coupled with the irreconcilable character of

French religious animosities, which made the prospects of effective French interference a mere will-o'-the-wisp, reduced Orange and his party to a condition verging on desperation.

[Sidenote: 1574 Spain amicable]

Requescens, however, made no haste to crush the stubborn remnant. It was his policy rather to achieve a modus vivendi in which the bulk of the Netherlands would concur, and to conciliate England. Alva before him had realised the true danger of the island-nation's hostility. As we shall presently see in more detail, the growth of the English marine had rendered it extremely formidable. Not only had English rovers for years past been giving unspeakable trouble on the Spanish Main and the Ocean highways, but the English fleets also practically controlled the narrow seas: and could make it impossible for any ordinary convoys, whether of transports, or merchantmen, or treasure-ships, to pass up-channel. In other words, England could block the lines of communication between Spain and the Netherlands. Until Spain should bestir all her might, rise up, and annihilate the English shipping, Elizabeth must be kept neutral; whereas, if Orange were pressed too hard, she might be forced even against her will to support him vigorously, if only to prevent France from doing so single-handed, and perhaps thereby capturing the Netherlands for herself.

[Sidenote: Reciprocal Concessions; 1575]

So the Spaniard was polite to Elizabeth, Elizabeth was polite to the Spaniard, and in France the factions fought furiously round Rochelle or rested in temporary truce. The politeness was carried to very considerable lengths. Allen's seminary at Douay, where young English Catholics had been trained to go forth as missionaries and seek martyrdom in their native land, was ordered to remove itself. The refugees who had found shelter at Louvain and elsewhere were required to depart across Philip's borders. Claims on either side for the seizure of merchandise or treasure were balanced against each other. In the spring of 1575, Elizabeth fell upon certain anabaptists with ostentatious severity, by way of demonstrating how narrow after all was the division between Anglican and Catholic in their fundamental ideas. Yet there remained one serious difficulty to adjust; one point, or perhaps we should say two points, on which neither side could or would give way.

[Sidenote: A Deadlock]

On the soil of Spain the dominating force was the Inquisition. Within his own dominions, Philip was absolutely committed to the rigid enforcement of orthodoxy, as understood by the Holy Office. The Holy Office claimed, and the claim was endorsed by Philip, that its jurisdiction extended over vessels in Spanish waters, and it was in the habit of haling English sailors from their ships into its dungeons, as heretics. In this Elizabeth declined to acquiesce; and Sir Henry Cobham was sent to Madrid to demand recognition of the English view, and to propose that resident Ambassadors should again be established, the Englishman to be privileged-as the Spaniard should be in England-to enjoy the Services of his own Church. Further, inasmuch as fortune had so far smiled upon Orange of late that Leyden had triumphantly resisted a determined siege, Elizabeth offered friendly mediation; emphasising the suggestion by a hint that unless Spain could see her way to a pacification, Orange could now appeal with a prospect of success to France; and England could not afford to decline the preferable alternative of an appeal to herself.

On Spanish soil, however, Catholic zealotry was too strong. Alva would fain have made diplomatic concessions, which could be revoked when convenient; Philip was dominated by the extremists, who were scandalised by the presence of a heretic envoy, who in his turn was furious at being called a heretic. The proffered mediation was declined; Philip flatly refused to concede religious privileges to an Ambassador, suggesting only that the difficulty could be got over by sending a Catholic; as to the action of the Inquisition, he was pledged not to interfere.

[Sidenote: 1576 Attitude of the Nation]

With this message Cobham returned, to find that the revolted States were on their part offering the sovereignty of the Provinces to Elizabeth. Walsingham and his allies were supporting the proposal, and under present conditions Burghley too inclined to it. Elizabeth, confident that Spain would not declare war, was ready to carry what we can only call bluff to the extreme limit, though she scolded her Council with energy. The Spaniards took the opportunity to render the Council most effective support, by seizing the crew of another English ship. Elizabeth sent warnings or threats to Requescens; and in February (1576), Parliament was summoned to vote supplies; which it did without hesitation. If the action of Parliament was any sort of index to popular sentiment, the idea that there was any widespread or deep- rooted feeling in the country against a war of religion is certainly fallacious; while there can be no question that the entire sea-going population-which had attracted into its ranks all that was most adventurous, most daring, most energetic, and most capable in the country-was heart and soul hostile to Spain. How much of that feeling was due to enthusiastic Protestantism, and how much to the fact that men hankered after the Spanish El Dorado may be matter of debate; but that the feeling was there is patent. That the attitude of Parliament was not due to any subserviency is emphasised by the open attack in this session on the granting of Monopolies to the Queen's favourites, which sent Wentworth who made it to the Star-Chamber-and found for him early and popular pardon instead of severe punishment.

[Sidenote: The Queen evades war]

Evidently, the force which did really operate against war was the Queen herself. From beginning to end of her reign, she never entered upon any war at all, so long as any possible means could be found for evading it without surrendering some right or claim vital in her eyes either to the nation's interests or her own. On such points she was never prepared to yield: in the last resort she would fight, but at the same time make the most of her reluctance, and relieve her feelings by roundly rating her ministers. Yet repeatedly she went as far as it was possible to go without actually declaring war, relying securely on the certainty that the irrevocable step would not be taken by the other party, and that she could find some plausible though perhaps undignified excuse for not taking it herself.

So it was now. So long as France could be deterred from espousing the cause of Orange, she saw no necessity for her own intervention. If the Inquisition maltreated some of her sailors, others might be relied on to effect reprisals and to collect compensation, on their own responsibility, without her actually applying the grievance as a casus belli: it could always be employed to that end, if occasion should arise. Requescens died suddenly, a few days before the prorogation of the English Parliament in March. Elizabeth dismissed the States' envoys, refused all assistance, and threatened open hostility if they appealed to France. The Spanish arms were prospering again, and as the summer advanced, Orange was reduced to such straits that he seriously contemplated a wholesale emigration to the New World, from the two States which remained stubborn, Holland and Zeeland.

[Sidenote: 1575-76 The Huguenots and Alen?on]

The involved state of French parties probably accounts for Elizabeth's action. Since the death of Charles IX., the middle party or Politiques had been revived, and with this, for some time, both Henry of Navarre and Alen?on-now heir presumptive to the French throne-were associated. In the autumn of 1575 however Alen?on betook himself to the Huguenots at Dreux. Being thus openly supported by the heir presumptive, the Huguenot position was considerably strengthened. Once more the English Queen resolved to employ matrimonial negotiations, as a means for keeping others inactive and evading action herself. The idea that she should marry Alen?on was revived, and found favour at least with the Politiques. The French King approved. In May 1576, a peace was patched up which promised to give neither party undue ascendancy. The great danger of the winter months-that Alen?on and the Huguenots would make common cause with the Netherlanders-had passed; and Elizabeth thought she could now afford to decline both the marriage and the entreaties of the revolted States.

[Sidenote: 1576 The States and Don John]

But the impending collapse of the Hollanders was averted. Before a successor to Requescens arrived, the Spanish troops, whose pay was heavily in arrear, mutinied, took the law into their own hands, pillaged in the States which had submitted, and finally perpetrated the sack of Antwerp, known as "the Spanish Fury," when some thousands of the inhabitants were wantonly slaughtered. The result was that the States General, meeting at Ghent, were so alarmed and angered that all the Provinces again united and by the Pacification of Ghent, resolved unanimously to demand the total withdrawal of the Spanish troops before they would admit the new Governor, Don John of Austria, Philip's illegitimate brother, the victor of Lepanto. Vehemently Catholic as were the Southern Provinces, they were even ready to demand freedom of worship for the Protestants, for the sake of political unity in the face of the Spaniard.

[Sidenote: Attitude of Elizabeth]

Don John's military reputation stood exceedingly high; he was known to entertain very ambitious ideas; his brother was gloomily jealous of him. It was more than suspected that in his own mind Don John wished to invade England, raise the Catholics, marry Mary, set her on the throne, and from that vantage ground secure the erection of the Netherlands into a separate kingdom for himself. It was Elizabeth's policy to retain the good-will of Philip, who would certainly hold Don John in check, unless she provoked him beyond endurance. Therefore, while she was ready to lend money but no troops to the States, it was on condition that they would yield on the question of religion; so that she could impress upon Philip that while she must support them in the demands which, after the recent outrages, were obviously reasonable, her influence was being exerted to make them in turn submit to what she did and some of them did not consider reasonable terms.

[Sidenote: The Political Kaleidoscope]

When the new year (1577) opened, Don John saw nothing for it but to accede to the bulk of the States' demands, reserving the question of freedom of worship for Philip. The Catholic Provinces accepted the compromise, and the others had to follow suit. The new Governor was admitted into the Netherlands. Elizabeth sent to Spain a new Ambassador, Sir John Smith, to demand again that the Inquisition should recognise the rights of English sailors. Sir John asserted himself with energy; forced his way into the presence of the Grand Inquisitor, when the two stormed at each other with picturesque vigour; carried his point with the King; and, so far as promises went, returned successful towards the end of the year. In the meantime, the Spanish troops were paid and withdrawn from the Netherlands: but letters to Spain from Escobeda, Don John's Secretary, were intercepted, which showed that the Governor meant after all to reconquer the Provinces, though desiring to postpone that operation to his schemes in England. Also in the meantime, Alen?on had been won over to the Guises, and there was a danger of France reviving an aggressively Catholic policy. Once more, circumstances were forcing Elizabeth towards a Protestant alliance, to counteract the schemes not so much of Philip as of Don John.

[Sidenote 1: The Archduke Matthias]

[Sidenote 2: 1577-78 Diverse Measures]

Yet fortune again enabled Elizabeth to put off the evil day. The discovery of Don John's intentions again set the whole of the Provinces against him, but they were divided on the question of leadership. The Catholics of the south, disliking the sovereignty of Elizabeth or the dictatorship of Orange, turned to the Catholic Archduke Matthias, brother of the Emperor Rudolf. The Archduke favoured the proposal; and though the English Queen began by promising help in men and money, before the year was out she had made up her mind that Matthias must look after his own affairs, and that she could afford to continue an interested spectator. Nor did her views change materially when, in January 1578, Don John-having reassembled a number of the recently withdrawn troops-moved suddenly against the forces of the Southern States and shattered them at Gemblours (January 29th). She did indeed send Orange some money, and promised to increase the loan, but declined to do more. Her public policy, however, had not prevented her from privately sanctioning, in November 1577, the departure of Francis Drake on that famous voyage, wherein he circumnavigated the globe, and incidentally wrought much detriment to Spain. Of that voyage, which reached its triumphant conclusion almost three years later, in September 1580, we shall hear more in another chapter.

[Sidenote: 1578 Mendoza]

Since the expulsion of Don Guerau de Espes there had been no regular Spanish Ambassador in England. Now, in accordance with the arrangements effected by Sir John Smith, the complete restoration of friendly relations was to be sealed by accrediting Don Bernardino de Mendoza to England. In March Mendoza arrived. The English Council was as usual much more inclined to war than its mistress. But the Ambassador's instructions were entirely conciliatory. As concerned the Netherlands, Philip could not give way on the point of allowing religious freedom-for which Elizabeth cared nothing -but he would concede all the political demands, even to the withdrawal of Don John in favour of a substitute less dangerous to England.

[Sidenote: Orange and Alen?on]

Elizabeth would have been satisfied; but the Protestant provinces were as resolute as Philip on the religious question. The plan of calling in the Archduke had collapsed at Gemblours; but the sovereignty of the Netherlands was still a bait which would tempt Alen?on from the Guise alliance; though no one could tell what he might ultimately do if he were received by the States, even that desperate remedy was preferable to submission. Nevertheless, Elizabeth still tried, in despite of her ministers, to force Orange's hand by the singular process of with-holding the bonds by which her last loan to him had been effected. Walsingham, who was sent to overcome Orange's scruples was so disgusted that he thought of giving up his position; naturally his negotiation was a failure. It was announced that Orange would wait no longer and that the arrangement with Alen?on would be carried through. Also at this time Don John met with a defeat at Rymenant, mainly owing to the obstinate valour of a battalion of English volunteers commanded by Sir John Norreys. For a moment the Queen was carried away, but immediately reverted to her antagonistic attitude. All she could be induced to do was at last to issue the bonds. The old trick, which had so often served her purpose of suspending action, was to do duty once more. The matrimonial shadow was more alluring to Alen?on than the Netherland bone.

[Sidenote: Sept. Death of Don John]

The persistence of happy accidents-of unforeseen events which saved Elizabeth from the disasters which her ministers anticipated, giving her tortuous policy an undeserved success and thereby in the eyes of some historians discrediting the more honourable and straightforward courses which Walsingham and Burghley habitually advocated-is one of the most remarkable features of Elizabeth's reign. Her good fortune did not desert her now. Don John died suddenly, not without the usual suspicions of foul play. The peculiar danger of his association with Mary Stewart, disappeared with his death. No wild schemes were likely to be conceived or encouraged by his successor Alexander of Parma, one of the ablest statesmen and probably the ablest soldier of the day. Moreover about the same time, King Sebastian of Portugal was killed-as was also the English adventurer Thomas Stukely who had been diverted from invading Ireland to take part in this affair-in an expedition against Morocco. Dying without issue, Sebastian was succeeded by his great-uncle Henry, a cardinal whose Orders precluded the possibility of his leaving an heir. Philip of Spain therefore was now, through his mother, claimant to the position of heir apparent. [Footnote Philip claimed as the son of Isabella, sister of Henry and of John III., Sebastian's grandfather. The prior right however really lay with the daughters of their younger brother Edward, of whom the elder, Katharine, was married to John of Braganza and the younger, Mary, to Alexander of Parma. Parma's title was invalidated by Braganza's, and Braganza did not push his own claim. Don Antonio of Crato who did come forward as a pretender was himself the illegitimate son of another brother, Luis. Thus when, later on, Philip claimed the English throne as the lineal descendant of John of Gaunt, his title, such as it was, was inferior to that of either Braganza or Parma.] The prospect of this further accession to his dominions, and increase of his power and resources, made it more than ever necessary for France to hold aloof from any alliance with him, in which she must play an entirely subordinate part, and to court the friendship of England. The stars in their courses seemed to fight for Elizabeth's policy.

Down to this point the course of events in Ireland does not appear as materially influencing English policy; and it has seemed better, for the sake of clearness to defer its history for consecutive treatment. To this we now turn in the chapter following; after which Irish affairs will be dealt with in the regular progress of the general narrative.

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