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England under the Tudors By Arthur D. Innes Characters: 52984

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:05


ELIZABETH (x), 1588-98-BRITANNIA VICTRIX

[Sidenote: After the Armada]

The sceptre had passed. The world awoke suddenly to the truth of which the great debacle was only the unexpected testimony. The Spanish People were slow to realise the overwhelming fact-overwhelming, because for the best part of a century at least they had accounted themselves the nation favoured by Heaven, chosen for the crushing of the heathen and the heretic, assured of victory. So, for a few years, had the English thought of themselves; but with a difference; for their spirit was that expressed in the later Puritan adage, "Trust in God and keep your powder dry". The Spaniard had neglected to keep his powder dry. The nation which observes both injunctions is tolerably certain to defeat that which observes only one.

The sceptre had passed; but Spain would not acquiesce without a struggle, and, in his slow fashion, Philip set himself to adapt to his own navy the lesson taught by the fate of the Armada. England had won the lead, but she was not to hold it unchallenged, though she did maintain it convincingly. For her alertness did not leave her, and to her had been transferred not the power only but also the enormous prestige which Spain had hitherto enjoyed, and which counts for much in every struggle where it is recognised on both sides.

But the re-organisation of the Spanish Navy was a matter of time. For the moment, the result of the collision was absolutely to reverse the hypothetical though not the actual position of the two countries. Spain was reduced completely to the defensive. England no longer thought of guarding herself, but only of smiting her foe-a theory of the mutual relations on which, unofficially, the seamen had been acting for the last decade.

If during the closing ten years of his life Philip's strongest desire was to recover the lost supremacy, his energies were still divided by his extreme anxiety to prevent the Bourbon succession in France; while the conviction was proving day by day more irresistible that the Protestant Netherlands would be lost for ever to Spain. Yet the eternal series of abortive plots for restoring the old religion and placing either Philip or a tool of Philip on the English throne went on; not in fact ending till the death of Elizabeth joined England and Scotland under a single crown.

[Sidenote: A new phase]

Politically the dramatic climax of Elizabeth's reign is the dispersion of the Armada. The dragon has been fought and vanquished, and at this point, the curtain ought to ring down and leave the audience to imagine the Red-cross knight and his ladye-love living happy for ever afterwards. But in history no climax is more than an incident; at the most it is but the decisive entry on a new phase. The chain of causation, of the interdependence of events, is continuous.

The moment of the Armada then may be regarded as the conclusion of a phase. The work of the great statesmen, whose names are most intimately associated with that of Elizabeth, was accomplished. They had kept England united and at peace within her own borders through a long period of recurring crises. They had so fostered the national spirit and the national resources that she had finally proved herself a match for the mightiest Power in Europe. They had achieved for her the premier position upon the Ocean. They had defeated every attempt to entice or to force her back to the Roman obedience. They had secured a larger latitude of religious tolerance than prevailed in any other State of Europe. These things they had definitely won, though there was still need of keen brains, stout hearts, strong hands, and sturdy consciences to hold them. They had been responsible for the planting and watering. It was left mainly to others in the last years of Elizabeth to assure the beginnings of the increase.

[Sidenote: 1588 The Death of Leicester]

Of the counsellors who had played a prominent part in Elizabeth's reign, Nicholas Bacon had died in 1579. The rest still lived, but none of them for long. The next to disappear was Leicester, who survived the dispersion of the Armada by only a few weeks. So long as he had been an aspirant to the hand of his royal mistress, he existed chiefly to trouble the minds of statesmen-a piece of grit in the machinery; an apparently quite worthless person After he had settled down into the less ambiguous position of a mere personal favourite, with no chance of satisfying swelling ambitions, he became a definite partisan of the Walsingham school whose ideal lay in the advancement of protestantism and antagonism to Spain. When not warped by the vain imaginings of his earlier years, he would seem to have been a person of respectable abilities, little decision of character, decently loyal; an ornamental figurehead whose position enabled him to serve his friends; shallow; neither dangerous, nor conspicuously incapable; not entirely deserving of the extreme contempt which is usually poured upon him; but at best a poor creature whose importance was wholly adventitious.

[Sidenote: France, 1588-89]

Of infinitely more consequence in its influence on the political situation was the death on December 23rd, by the hands of assassins of the Duke of Guise. The murder, planned by Henry III., deprived the League of its head, and decisively forced the French King into the arms of his Protestant heir. Nine months later (August 1589), Henry III. was assassinated in turn, and Henry of Navarre laid claim to the crown, his uncle Charles, Cardinal of Bourbon, being proclaimed King by the Catholics. Hence in Philip's eyes a closer union than ever between himself and the League-now headed by Mayenne, brother of the murdered Guise-became imperative. A Huguenot king in France, a heretic queen in England, and heretic rebels in the Netherlands, threatened a combination which he was bound to try and paralyse. The attempt went far to thwart itself; for numbers of the French Catholics were ready to go a long way towards a compromise with Henry of Navarre when they felt the alternative to be a Spanish domination; while that astute prince hailed the opportunity which enabled him to claim the role of patriot, and to point to the Leaguers as the clients of the foreigner. On the other hand, Philip's energies during the remainder of his life were largely absorbed in futile efforts to redress on French soil the loss of Spanish supremacy on the seas.

[Sidenote: 1588 England aggressive]

Under the new conditions, the antagonism between the two schools of English statesmanship takes a slightly altered form. Walsingham among the ministers, Drake among the seamen, had always believed fervently in the theory of breaking the power of Spain to pieces. Elizabeth and (in the main) Burghley had clung to the theory of gradually making England so secure and so formidable that Spain and England alike should ultimately recognise a condition of amicable equality as the best for both. Spain would then become amenable to reason in matters ecclesiastical and commercial, the old intercourse would be restored in its fulness, and general prosperity would result. Against their wishes, matters had been by the inevitable trend of events forced to the arbitrament of battle. But even now, terrible as the disaster of the Armada had been, Spain was by no means shattered; in fact, though the English nation was more than jubilant, the seamen themselves were evidently disappointed that they had not in the encounter inflicted more complete ruin upon their rivals. They had found the Spaniards less easy to dispose of than they had anticipated.

[Sidenote: Alternative Naval policies]

The victory however had been won by the great captains of the aggressive party; it was followed almost immediately by the revolt of Henry III. from the Guise domination; all the conditions were in favour of an offensive campaign. For the time being, a peace-party had ceased to exist. The only question now was, how to strike. And at this stage we see the two rival theories of naval policy in war time beginning to be formulated, since naval policy on a large scale was only brought into being by the development of an oceanic field for it to work in. Of the one policy which has constantly prevailed with our great English admirals, that of making the destruction of the enemy's fighting fleet the primary object, with mere commerce-destroying secondary, Drake was in practice the father; of the other, that of concentrating on his trade-routes and menacing his commerce, not unusually favoured by France in her wars with England, John Hawkins was the advocate.

For the moment Drake, being undoubtedly the hero of the hour, appeared to triumph. His was the scheme of operations approved. But before it could be put in practice, its essential features were distorted; through no fault of his the plan failed of its full effect; disfavour followed; and war on Spanish commerce again became the prevalent policy. Its attractions for adventurers are obvious; and its inferiority as a method of transforming superiority into supremacy was not yet recognised.

[Sidenote: Don Antonio]

Drake's actual design, however, was not on this occasion a precise exemplification of the theory just associated with his name, although its failure brought the supporters of the opposing school to the front. The Armada disaster had already given the English for the time complete command of the sea, and his intention was to strike a crippling blow at the Spanish power by establishing the Pretender Don Antonio on the throne of Portugal and in control of the Azores. Ever since Philip had grasped the Portuguese crown in 1580, Elizabeth had played diplomatically with the notion of helping Don Antonio to challenge his title by force of arms, and Walsingham would have found a grim joy in turning the play into earnest. But Antonio could count upon no support worth mentioning from other quarters; Elizabeth's help had been in quality the same as and in quantity less than she had doled out to Huguenots and Netherlanders. The one real attempt in his favour, wherein there had hardly been a pretence of English participation, had been crushed by Santa Cruz at the naval battle of Terceira in the Azores in 1583. But what had been impracticable before the Armada was so no longer. With the command of the sea, Portugal might now be won; the loss in itself would be a grievous weakening to Spain; and in alliance with England. Portugal would be to her neighbour very much what Scotland would have been to England had Mary been restored-and accepted-by Spanish aid.

[Sidenote: Plan of the Lisbon Expedition, 1588-89] Such was Drake's idea, which was to be carried out after the method beloved by the Queen. It was not to be exactly a Government affair, but the enterprise of a Company, in which her Majesty was to hold shares, providing some money and half a dozen ships from her fleet, and various guarantees. It was to be a joint naval and military venture, with Drake and Norreys respectively in command of the two arms, with a free hand in the conduct of operations. All through the winter of 1588 Drake and Norreys were hard at work preparing this counter-Armada; but as spring came on, the Queen's passion for tying her servants' hands developed on the familiar lines. It was not till April that Drake succeeded in definitely starting, and he went with a very fine armament; but with only a month's commissariat, without the siege train promised, and fettered by instructions wholly inconsistent with his own plan of campaign.

The Spaniards acquired what purported to be a statement of the terms agreed on between Elizabeth and Don Antonio, under which Portugal, with the Azores, was to be reduced to a province of England. It does not appear however that this document was based upon facts; and the instructions [Footnote: Cf. Corbett, ii, ] issued to the expedition are quite inconsistent with the whole idea. The attempt to establish Antonio in Portugal was only to be made if the conditions were favourable; if it succeeded, the English were then to retire; if it were dropped, they were to make for the Azores. But in any case they were to begin by attacking the shipping in Biscayan and other Northern harbours of Spain-an entirely superfluous proceeding, as Spain for the time had no naval force which could give trouble.

[Sidenote: 1589 May: Corunna and Peniche]

Consequently the expedition-which was accompanied by Elizabeth's latest favourite, the young Earl of Essex, a runaway and from his Mistress-instead of making straight for Lisbon attacked Corunna. The troops were landed, the town stormed and sacked, and the shipping destroyed, the Spaniards being driven into the citadel. Immediate departure being prevented by the wind, after nearly a week's operations a fierce but unsuccessful attempt was made to storm the citadel also. This however was followed by a brilliant action, at the Bridge of El Burgo, in which Norreys decisively defeated a relieving force of greatly superior numbers, prodigies of valour being performed during the battle. But the capture of the citadel was unimportant; and the wind improving, the expedition proceeded-with many prizes and much spoil-to operate against Lisbon. On the way, for some not very intelligible reason, Peniche, some fifty miles from Lisbon, was stormed by the soldiers-as it would seem, against Drake's will. The whole army was here disembarked, to operate against Lisbon by land, while the fleet proceeded to the mouth of the Tagus.

[Sidenote: Failure at Lisbon]

Drake at once captured Cascaes, which commanded the entry. But he could do nothing more till the army was ready to co-operate. Norreys arrived presently: but he had no siege train, and resolved that unless the Portuguese rose, as Don Antonio had promised, the attempt on Lisbon must be abandoned. It is practically certain that had the attack been made, the resolute commandant and his slender garrison would have been easily overpowered, the mob favouring the assailants. But Norreys was unaware of the facts; the partisans of Don Antonio did not rise; and the English fell back to Cascaes to reimbark; having destroyed a considerable quantity of stores, and defied Spain on her own soil with a handful of men, but otherwise having failed to accomplish the purpose of the expedition. Drake however also captured a great convoy of store- ships. Contrary winds prevented the fleet from proceeding to the Azores, and nothing more was accomplished but the destruction of Vigo, while in the subsequent storms a number of ships were damaged or lost. The business was a failure, though it had given convincing proof that even in Spanish territory-much more on the seas-Spain was incapable of taking the offensive. The expedition found its way home about the end of June; a few weeks before the assassination of the French King, which transformed the Prince of Navarre into Henry IV., a legitimate monarch fighting for his throne against a threatened alien domination.

The ships had suffered; the booty was small; the crews and the troops had been wasted by sickness and sharp fighting. Consequently Drake and Drake's policy were generally discredited. It had in fact been quite clearly demonstrated that Spain was on her knees, and that nothing but inadequate armament and deficient supplies had prevented the admiral from reducing her to a condition still more desperate. But superficially, he had failed.

[Sidenote: Policies and Persons]

Now the policy of the forward school, of which Drake was the leading example and Walter Raleigh was to be the exponent both with sword and pen, was twofold; to prostrate Spain and her naval power, and to plant English colonies in direct competition with and open antagonism to the colonies of Spain. But the men who had grasped the whole conception were few. Walsingham, the one among the elder statesmen who was in touch with these ideas, had but a few months to live. The ordinary idea of the ordinary Anti-Spaniard was to damage Spain as much as possible; but the means to that end which he recognised lay mainly, if not entirely, in the raiding of Spanish commerce and the interception of treasure-fleets. This was avowedly the view of John Hawkins, which naturally appealed to the Adventurers of the day.

On the other side was the school of Burghley himself, and of Elizabeth; who had never wished, and did not now wish, to see Spain prostrate, and had never been without hopes of converting the rivalry into an alliance, though not averse to the bringing of severe pressure to bear for the recovery of commercial privileges and the suppression of political antagonism. Burghley had not by any means always approved of Elizabeth's methods; when it was only by those tortuous wiles that peace could be preserved he had joined with Walsingham and Leicester in counselling war; but if war could be with honour avoided, it had been his constant desire to avoid it; while he had consistently and honourably opposed Drake, condemned his buccaneering methods, and refused to profit by his daring ventures. Burghley's second son Robert, destined to be the old statesman's successor, already establishing his position, was the agent of his father's policy. The Queen's latest favourite, the young Earl of Essex-a son-in-law of Walsingham, and stepson of Leicester-was no statesman in fact, though he fancied himself one. His ambition was unlimited; and while, as an anti-Spaniard, he was a leader of the party opposed to the Cecils, he was not less hotly jealous of his rival within that party, Walter Raleigh (at an earlier period, and also afterwards, associated with the Cecils), whose large conceptions he could hardly appreciate. Finally the Queen herself, with the same political ideals as her old minister, had still never been able to resist the temptation of the profits accruing from the unauthorised raiding policy-a policy which dealt no blows from which it was impossible for Spain to recover, while it kept her in too bruised a condition to have any prospect of fighting again at an advantage.

It was Elizabeth who had ensured the failure of Drake's expedition, for which Drake himself was made responsible. Drake's policy was in consequence driven off the field, which was held by that of Essex and Hawkins-to which, as a policy, the Cecils were not vehemently opposed, while it satisfied the aroused bellicosity of the nation. Private enterprise was left to struggle with schemes of colonisation; and Spain held her trans-oceanic possessions.

[Sidenote: France, 1589-93]

But Spain's activity was crippled, her recuperation checked; and thus, indirectly, as well as with some direct assistance from England, Henry IV was enabled more than to hold his own in France, until in 1593, by accepting the Mass, he definitely won over to his side all but the extreme supporters of the League: from which time his ultimate triumph and that of at least limited toleration in France was secured: since Alexander of Parma, the one man whose military genius was more than a match for that of Henry, died in 1592.

[Sidenote: 1590 Death of Walsingham]

Here however we are anticipating. From the summer of 1589, Drake drops into the background. How matters might have gone if Walsingham or even Leicester had lived and retained their influence, it is not easy to say; both were staunch supporters of the admiral. But Leicester was already dead; and though the Queen had full confidence in the Secretary, she never liked him. Already he was practically in retirement; and in the following April he too died. With him, a very genuine puritanism and a determined antagonism to Spain had always been first principles. No man had expressed himself more openly in Council or more bitterly in private correspondence in condemnation of the tricks and the falsehoods which constituted-with a success which cannot be denied-the stock in trade of the Queen's diplomacy. He repeatedly risked favour and position by his outspokenness. His own policy and conduct had at all times been conducted in accordance with a standard of morals and of honour which was none the less strict though it does not always command sympathy. To Mary Stewart he was a relentless enemy. He had no compunctions in his system of espionage, and in his employment of traitors and of the agent provocateur. He, more than anyone else, was probably responsible for the extensive and extended application of torture as a means to extract information. These, in his eyes, were methods without which it was impossible to fight the enemy who must be fought at any cost. He was ready, even eager, to join battle openly with Spain in the cause of the Religion, which to him was a reality, while to Elizabeth, if not also to Burghley, it was only a political factor which it annoyed her to be obliged to recognise. And of his high personal integrity, the final proof is that when he died, he left means insufficient to provide a decent funeral. If his mantle may be said to have fallen on anyone, it was on Walter Raleigh; and Raleigh was not of the Council, while his favour with the Queen was at best an extremely fluctuating quantity.

[Sidenote: Operations in 1590]

It was not Drake then, but Hawkins and Frobisher who in 1590 commanded the armaments sent out to Spanish waters; with the primary intention of intercepting the annual convoy of treasure-ships. Disappointment was again in store, for the Spaniards had news of the expedition, the treasure-fleet did not sail, and the admirals returned home without spoils. Not, however, without hurting the enemy; for Spanish finance was dependent on the arrival of the bullion, Philip was crippled for want of it, and for the same reason Parma was almost paralysed. The Huguenot cause was advanced in France by Henry's victory at Ivry. In spite of his difficulties, however, Parma prevented the King from capturing Paris and so completing his triumph; but, with his resources so exhausted, even his genius was unable to accomplish more.

In the same year the splendid qualities developed by English seamen were illustrated by a valiant fight, in which twelve Spanish ships of war attacked a flotilla of ten English merchantmen, who fought so stubbornly that after six hours of conflict the Spaniards drew off, fairly defeated; the English having lost neither a ship nor a man.

[Sidenote: 1591 The "Revenge"]

In the meantime, however, Philip was making strenuous efforts to adapt his navy to the conditions of maritime warfare introduced by the English. In Havana, ships were being built of a greatly improved construction for fighting and manoeuvring, and the Spanish yards were busy. So when in 1591 a fleet sailed from England under Lord Thomas Howard [Footnote: Son of the Duke of Norfolk (executed in 1572) by his second wife; and half-brother of the Earl of Arundel, who died in the Tower in 1589.] and Richard Grenville, with much the same intent as that of Hawkins and Frobisher in 1590, they found themselves no longer in possession of the same complete command of the seas. Their squadron was a comparatively small one, including only six regular fighting ships; and as they lay in the Azores, in waiting for the treasure-fleet, tidings reached them that an armada of fifty-three vessels was hard at hand on its way to convoy that fleet. Howard put to sea at once, avoiding an action; but Grenville on the Revenge [Footnote: The Revenge was Drake's ship in the Armada conflict.] of set purpose allowed himself to be entangled in the Spanish fleet; and thereupon ensued that great fight, that glorious folly, which has been told in immortal prose and sung in immortal verse; in which for fifteen hours Drake's favourite vessel did battle, almost unaided, with fifty-three Spaniards. Not more splendid, not less irrational, were the great deeds of the three hundred at Thermopylae, of the six hundred at Balaclava. False moves in the game of war, all of them, from the scientific point of view; objectless, unreasoning, without possibility of material gain accruing; but for all that, deeds which for their sheer daring will ring for ever in the ears of men; of which the bare memory is an inspiration; whereof the fame in their own day roused the emulous courage of every Spartan and of every Englishman, making them ready to face any odds, and chilling the blood of their foes. Vain deeds, when we count the cost and the tangible gain-but very far from vain when we take into account the intangible moral effect.

Yet it was but the supreme example of that heroic spirit, shown times and again, at Zutphen, at the Bridge of El Burgo, in countless fights with Spaniards and with the elements, which in Elizabeth's day raised England to be the first among the nations. A deed therefore to be dwelt upon, if we would understand aright the history of those times, in which the historian must perforce discourse most frequently and at greatest length on doings of a less inspiring order. The craft of the statesman, the skill of the general, are the prominent factors in the making of history; but the character, the types, of the men of whom nations are constituted, are no less fundamental and vital.

[Sidenote: France, 1590-93]

In the meantime, the death in France of Henry IV.'s nominal rival, his uncle the titular Charles X., had increased the difficulties of the League, which was reduced to putting forward as its candidate the Infanta Isabella, the daughter of Philip and his third wife Elizabeth of Valois-whom also Philip destined as his nominee for the English throne when he should overthrow the heretic Queen. This involved the setting aside of the Salic law of succession, and an unmistakable Spanish ascendancy, which no conceivable marriage could make satisfactory to any one but Philip. Thus Elizabeth still found herself compelled to give Henry material assistance, and the English contingent before Rouen, which the French King was seeking to capture in the latter part of 1591, was commanded by Essex. Again however Parma intervened, compelling the siege to be raised: though his death a year later left no commander of equal ability to oppose Henry.

[Sidenote: Operations of 1592-94]

During the next three years, 1592-94, no attacks were made on a large scale. One was planned for the first year, to be commanded jointly by Raleigh and Frobish

er. But Raleigh was recalled; the men who had joined his flag were indisposed to serve under Frobisher; the squadron divided, and ultimately accomplished little beyond the capture of a single rich prize. Nevertheless, the process of raiding Spanish commerce by privateering ships or squadrons was carried on, with much injury to Spanish trade, and collection of considerable spoils; the chief of the raiders being perhaps the Earl of Cumberland, who never failed to conduct at least one such expedition annually. But though Philip's finances continued thereby to be materially crippled, he was not prevented from carrying on the work of reorganising his navy; while towards the end of 1593 he had secured more than one station at Blavet and elsewhere on the coast of Brittany, where he hoped to establish an advanced base from which he could constantly threaten the Channel and Ireland. This scheme however was frustrated at the end of 1594 by a successful joint attack of Frobisher by sea and Norreys by land on a position at Crozon which threatened to dominate Brest; and by the expulsion of the Spaniards from other points in that neighbourhood where they had sought to plant themselves. Frobisher however died from a wound he received in the fighting. The move was one that Raleigh had advocated zealously; and it proved thoroughly effective.

Important as was this blow to Philip's naval aspirations, the political situation was still more decisively affected during these three years by the death of Parma in December 1592, Henry's acceptance of the Mass in July 1593, and his consequent recognition by the bulk of the French Catholics early in 1594: although the extremists of the League continued their opposition to him, and their support of the Spanish Infanta, a course which secured the maintenance of the alliance between Henry and Elizabeth.

[Sidenote: 1589-94 A survey]

From 1589, when the English Queen had deliberately dislocated the plans of Drake's Lisbon expedition, changing it from a great political stroke into an unsatisfactory raid, till the closing months of 1594 when once again a decisively damaging blow was dealt to Philip's naval schemes, the war had given ample occasion for stirring deeds of valour and brilliant feats of arms, but the scheme of operations throughout had been narrow and shortsighted. Though the honours still lay unmistakably with England, Spain had in fact been gaining ground, slowly remedying those defects in her organisation which had been so glaringly exposed by the breakdown of the Armada: and when Frobisher fell at Crozon, she was more formidable than at any time since Medina Sidonia had sailed from Corunna But besides the main open contest, Philip throughout these years had been dallying after his old fashion with the factions outside of England which might be looked to as possible instruments for shaking the throne of Elizabeth.

These were to be found among the exiled English Catholics, in Scotland, and in Ireland.

[Sidenote: Spain and the English Catholics]

With the Catholic exiles however, there was little to be done. Those indeed who were closely associated with the Jesuits founded their hopes of a Catholic restoration on Spanish dominion, with the Infanta Isabella as Queen of England; but the fact by itself sufficed to keep the bulk of the party cold if not antagonistic. The price was too high to pay, for any but Parsons and his associates. English Catholics looked by preference to the succession possibly of the Catholic Stanleys of Derby [Footnote: See Front]-who unfortunately stood aloof-or of either James of Scotland or his cousin Arabella (representing the half-English Lennox Stewarts), both Protestants of whose conversion hopes were maintained. Patriotism, Nationality, held precedence over Religion: even although in 1593 fresh and harsh measures against Catholics as well as Puritans were adopted by Parliament. Under these conditions, plots for the removal of Elizabeth by methods which would make all the lukewarm elements in England actively hostile to Spain were not likely to receive encouragement from Philip. A variety of such plots were in fact concocted and duly revealed by informers or suspects under torture, and fathered on Philip or his ministers; but in every case the evidence connecting them with the Spaniards is of the weakest. Naturally, Essex and the war-party in England made the most of these stories, in order to inflame public opinion against Philip, and with no little success. Nevertheless, whatever element of truth they may have contained, they are too flimsy and unsubstantial to be seriously included in the indictments against Philip's character-which are indeed sufficiently grave without them. [Footnote: See Hume's Treason and Plot, cc. iv. v., where the evidence in a series of these plots is impartially set forth. The most notable of the group is that of Lopez, who was executed in 1594.]

[Sidenote: Scottish Intrigues]

Scottish intrigues with Philip were equally abortive. James, on the throne, played an unceasing game of chicane and double-dealing, perpetually playing off parties and persons against each other with that curious cunning which he designated "king-craft". The Catholic nobles alternated between hopes of capturing him, or of ejecting him, and fears of their own suppression. They tried to bargain with Philip, on the hypothesis of effecting James's conversion and placing him on the English throne; on the hypothesis of a Catholic restoration in Scotland; for one brief interval, on the hypothesis of giving Philip a free hand. But James had an ingenious trick of playing at friendship with his Catholic lords and introducing himself into these negotiations; whereas Philip had no idea of stirring a finger to help James to the English succession: and the Scottish Catholic lords themselves were by no means ready to relinquish the national aspiration to seat a Scots king on the throne of England. So that while these intrigues caused some perturbation in the English court, and led Elizabeth to lecture her young kinsman and disciple with a fine show of pained indignation, they never came within measurable distance of definite action.

[Sidenote: Ireland, 1583-92]

Ireland however offered a more promising field of operations. For a decade following the suppression of Desmond's rebellion, that country had lain in a state of exhaustion. English "under-takers" had been planted in the desolated and forfeited lands of Munster. In the North, Tyrconnel was loyal-that is, was not disposed to rebellion; Tirlough Lynagh, head of the O'Neills, was of a like mind; and Hugh O'Neill, the successor to the Earldom of Tyrone, had been brought up in England, and was a professed supporter of English rule: against which there was no one to make head. Even the coming of the Armada, while creating some nervousness, produced no disturbances, though the assistance given by a chief here and there to ship-wrecked Spaniards brought them into trouble. But this was the calm of exhaustion merely. The unvarying impression produced by the Irish letters of the time is that Englishmen regarded the native chiefs as a low type of savage, and the common folk as a noxious kind of vermin; and it is painfully clear that the standard of civilisation was of that debased type which must prevail where the governing powers have habitually set the example of distorting the first four commandments of the decalogue and ignoring the other six. The normal attitude of the bulk of the native Irish and Anglo-Irish was one of repressed hatred and veiled defiance towards the English, ready to break out openly whenever an opportunity should seem to present itself. That attitude would probably have been universal had not some of the chiefs, like Ormonde, been convinced that even the English system was preferable to the anarchy and strife of septs which would result from a temporarily successful rebellion: finding in friendly relations with the Government the best guarantee for the security of their own position.

Masterful and capable men however like the old Kildare and Shan O'Neill had demanded more. To Kildare the Henries had granted that more; Shan had come near to securing it in despite of Elizabeth. Now an abler man than either, Hugh O'Neill, Earl of Tyrone, dissatisfied with his treatment at the hands of the English was making up his mind to renew the contest.

[Sidenote: Tyrone, 1592-94]

Tyrone did not raise the standard of revolt. But in 1592-3, Tyrone, his brother in law Hugh Roe O'Donnell, [Footnote: Hugh O'Donnell had been trapped and held prisoner in Dublin as a hostage for Tyrconnell's good behaviour; but succeeded in making his escape.] Tyrconnell's son, his neighbours Maguire and O'Rourke, and the McWilliams or Burkes of Connaught-dwellers in the parts furthest from the Pale-were in active defiance of the Government. Tyrone was engaged in officially placating or repressing or remonstrating with them, ostensibly doing his best to serve the Queen; ready to hand over hostages, to present himself in person to the Deputy Fitzwilliam and demonstrate his loyalty, or to take the field against the rebels with the royal forces. The Deputy, and the President of Connaught, had information that he was in fact in collusion with the rebels, but none which could be brought home to him; and the royal forces-amounting only to between four and five thousand men-were as usual inadequate to doing more than march into disturbed districts, accomplish some burnings and hangings, enjoy one or two sharp skirmishes, and march out again. But by 1594 Tyrone and his friends were in communication with Spain, and Philip was again contemplating the expulsion of the English from Ireland as an effective line of operation in his war with Elizabeth.

[Sidenote: 1595 Drake's last voyage]

By this time the Queen was waking up to the fact that the Spanish sea- power was not diminishing but recovering: the attack on the Brittany ports points to the revival of a more far-seeing naval policy; Drake was returning to favour, and the younger Cecil was well-disposed towards him. It was decided that he and old John Hawkins should revive the past methods and conduct a grand attack on the Spanish Main and Panama. As usual however, fluctuating orders from the Queen delayed the start till some months after the intended date; the Plate fleet reached its destination in safety; the Spaniards got wind of the expedition; and when Drake and Hawkins at last put to sea they had instructions calculated effectively to prevent their accomplishing anything like a surprise. Porto Rico, the first main objective, had due warning, and so was able to offer a successful resistance to the attack, energetically as it was conducted. The death of Hawkins, who had grown too cautious to work well with Drake, relieved the expedition of divided counsels; but Drake had not realised that in the years of his inaction the Spaniards had profited by the lessons he had taught them. Though he sacked and burnt La Hacha, Santa Marta, and Nombre de Dios, the spoils were small; the enemy, prepared for his coming, had secured the passes through Darien to Panama, and it was found that there was no possibility of forcing them. Then came the final disaster; Drake himself was seized with dysentery, and on January 28th, 1598, the great seaman died. He found in the Ocean his fitting grave: and the expedition returned to England having failed to accomplish anything noteworthy, though it had to fight a not unsuccessful battle with a slightly superior fleet on the way home.

Six months before Drake sailed on his last voyage, Raleigh had gone on a notable exploring expedition to the Orinoco; the forerunner of not a few voyages in search of the fabled Eldorado. Beyond some extension of geographical knowledge however, the venture was unfruitful.

[Sidenote: 1596 The Cadiz expedition]

Although Drake's expedition had been spoilt, his theories were once more, in the main, in the ascendant; and in June 1598 a great attacking force was again organised, with Cadiz for its principal objective. An effective blow at Philip's navy was made all the more necessary at the moment, because the Archduke Albert, now in command in the Netherlands, had just succeeded in capturing Calais from the French. Howard of Effingham again commanded as admiral, with Essex as general in chief, a council which included Raleigh and Lord Thomas Howard, and a Dutch contingent which was under the orders of the English chief. The Spaniards had this time no suspicion of what was on foot. The harbour of Cadiz was full of shipping; which included however a number of ships of war in fighting trim. Thus it was not without a fierce conflict that the English drove their way in. Two ships only were captured, and transferred from the Spanish to the English navy, but numbers were sunk or burnt. The exploit was a brilliant one, owing its success largely to a change from the original plan of attack, for which that advocated by Raleigh was substituted. Cadiz itself was stormed, captured, and put to ransom; but the victors displayed what was in those days a singular and notable restraint and courtesy in their treatment of the vanquished. In spite, however, of the protests of Essex, who wished to remain in occupation of Cadiz, Lord Howard was content with the heavy spoils secured and the immense destruction wrought, and the expedition returned home.

[Sidenote: Ireland, 1595-96]

Tyrone in the meantime was playing his difficult game in Ireland with remarkable success. He consistently maintained his professions of loyalty, though by now calling himself "The O'Neill," like Shan, he fostered the belief that he was only waiting to declare himself anti- English; he continued to evade action against the more open rebels; he continued to correspond with Spain; and yet Sir John Norreys, now in command of the army in Ireland, could not resist the belief that he meant to be loyal and would be loyal and would make the other chiefs so, if his assistance were loyally accepted and his position frankly confirmed by the English. Whether such anticipations would have proved true if he had been treated as Henry VII. treated Kildare, it is impossible to say. But the Deputy Fitzwilliam, and his successor Russell, regarded him as a traitor at heart, and persistently provided him with palpable excuse for distrusting them [Footnote: Tyrone received a letter from Philip, which he showed the Deputy, as a proof of the tempting offers made to him and of his own loyalty, on condition that it should neither be copied nor retained. But it was kept by the English, and used by them to attack Philip, and others.] in turn. Under such conditions, loyal or not at bottom, it was no part of the Earl's policy to break with Philip, or on the other hand to commit himself too deeply till Philip should be also irrevocably committed to rendering real solid assistance.

So Norreys went on recommending conciliation, and Russell went on opposing that policy, while Elizabeth persistently abstained alike from effective conciliation and from the one practicable alternative policy of placing a really strong organised and orderly garrison in the country: maintaining instead only a few ill-paid ill-disciplined ill- behaved troops who might on occasion meet the raw Irish levies but were wholly unfitted to be the instruments of a firm government. And all the time from every officer in Ireland arose the perpetual petition to be recalled from service in a country where neither a soldier nor an administrator could possibly escape lowering any reputation he might have previously acquired. It was well for England that Drake's last expedition demanded the entire attention of the Spanish Fleet; and that, following thereon, the Cadiz expedition was even more destructive to the prospects of the new Armada which Philip was still seeking to organise, than Drake's former Cadiz expedition had proved itself to the Great Armada in 1587. Tyrone was thereby baulked of Spanish help, without which he would not plunge into such a rebellion as might threaten seriously to embarrass Elizabeth and benefit Philip.

[Sidenote: 1596 The second Armada]

So matters stood in the summer of 1596. One quality however Philip possessed with which Englishmen must sympathise; he never recognised that he was beaten. Crushing as the blow at Cadiz was, the northern ports were left alone, and there the laborious building up of a great fleet was in steady progress. Philip was stirred to deal a counterstroke, and late in October a huge new Armada of nearly a hundred vessels sailed from Vigo Bay, its destination unknown save to Philip, its very existence unrealised in England, where no one believed that a Spanish fleet would put to sea so late in the year. The Irish chiefs however had notice that an invading force was coming. But the old story was repeated. The preparations had been thrown out of gear by the disaster of the summer; all the provisions were incomplete; the ships were hopelessly ill-found; and the fleet had hardly started when a terrific storm fell on it and shattered it. Thirty or more of the vessels were lost at sea; when the rest of the battered armament struggled back to Ferrol, pestilence broke out, and the crews died and deserted by hundreds if not by thousands. The stars in their courses fought against Philip and ruined the second Armada-this time without the help of hostile man.

[Sidenote: 1597 The Island Voyage, etc.]

This was followed again in the next summer by another English expedition, known as the "Island Voyage," with Essex, Lord Thomas Howard, and Raleigh in command; with a score of ships from the Royal Navy, and a Dutch contingent as in the Cadiz expedition. [Footnote: The soldiers wanted an army to attack Calais. Raleigh's insistence however carried the day in favour of a naval blow. (Raleigh, Opinion on the Spanish Alarum.)] The affair however was mismanaged. From the start, there were adverse tempests. [Footnote: S. P. Dom. iv., p. 463.] Corunna and Ferrol, which it was intended to attack, were found warned and armed for defence; and the gales were unfavourable. The fleet made for the Azores, and captured Fayal, Graciosa, and St. Michael's; but the treasure-fleet by good fortune evaded the English and found safety at Terceira. Raleigh and Essex quarrelled violently; and the fleet returned home with little accomplished. It succeeded however in weathering a storm which once more had made havoc of still another Spanish Armada, which sought to seize the opportunity for making a raid on Cornwall with a view to seizing and holding some port, to be used as an advance post for operations in the Channel-a sufficiently wild scheme at the best, with Essex's fleet returning almost on the heels of the expedition.

The failure decided Tyrone that Spain was a thoroughly broken reed; and he succeeded in making terms with the English Government [Footnote: S. P. Irish, vi., pp. 477-479.] that winter, if only with a view to organising a more determined and independent rebellion in the near future.

[Sidenote: 1598 Spain]

It is abundantly evident in this the last year of Philip's life that he was beaten at every point, however his obstinate fanaticism might refuse to admit it. His designs on the throne of France were foiled; the negotiations were already far advanced for the Peace of Vervins which was to set the French King free from the war. The prospect of placing Isabella [Footnote: Philip was now arranging to bestow Flanders upon her as an independent sovereignty.] on the English throne was more visionary than ever. The Spanish party among the English Catholics were growing more and more out of favour; pride in the prestige of English arms, scorn that England should be dominated by a nation which could not match her in open fight, strengthened the patriotic section. The Scots would not stir a finger except to make their own monarch king of the neighbouring country. The Pope himself had no desire to see Spain so aggrandised as to be able to dictate to Christendom. The prospect of the Netherlands being reduced to submission had all but vanished. As for the maritime rivalry, all the Spanish efforts had been in vain. The ships had been improved; the defence of the trade-routes had been better organised. Several of the blows aimed by England had been more or less abortive; but one at least had been staggering, and every attempt at a counterstroke had ended in plain disaster. Moreover from first to last the Spaniards, valiant as they often proved themselves, had fought as beaten men, the English as assured victors; both alike with a perfect conviction that the latter were certain to win against any but overwhelming odds. Such a fight as that of the Revenge, with the nationalities of the combatants reversed, was unimaginable.

Yet even in 1598 Philip and some of his ecclesiastical counsellors were unconvinced, and a brief alarm was created when a Spanish flotilla dashed up the Channel and made its way to Calais, not yet restored to France. Completely unexpected as it was, however, English squadrons were on the seas almost at a day's notice. Half the flotilla was lost outside Calais, and immediately afterwards the Spanish ports were in a ferment at the report that Cumberland was hovering off their own coast -very sufficient evidence of the immense superiority of the English, both in organisation and morale.

[Sidenote: Death of Philip, Sept.]

In September, Elizabeth's great enemy breathed his last. He was not exactly the monster of iniquity that he has been painted; not a criminal for the love of criminality. He was a Tiberius rather than a Nero; a morbid influence, not a devouring pestilence. A perfectly sombre bigot; an example of what the Greeks would have called [Greek: hubris] of a very exceptional kind, who believed devoutly in himself as the instrument chosen by the Saints for the overthrow of heretics; convinced that his aims and interests were favoured by Heaven, ranking before those of the Papacy itself; without a qualm as to the righteousness of all means he could adopt to further those aims. Save in one slight instance, we seek in vain to find in him any sign of human affections-tenderness, sympathy, generosity. Infinitely laborious, his idea of government was to elaborate an enormous machinery, of which every portion should be under his personal control; eternally suspicious, he trusted no man, and kept the hands of his servants tied and bound; immovably cautious, he always waited to strike till he thought he could do so with overwhelming force, and he always waited till the time to strike had passed-till his opponent had crippled him by striking first. Forty years before, he was lord of the New World, lord of the seas, lord of Spain, of half Italy, of the Netherlands, and seemed destined to be lord of England, almost of Europe. Elizabeth and Cecil had seen where lay the weakness of his position; they had evaded, cajoled, finally had defied and triumphed over him. When he sank to the grave, the lordship of the sea had passed, the lordship of the Netherlands was passing, the lordship of the New World was tottering. His overweening egotism had sucked the life-blood of Spain. The Power which forty years before had threatened to dominate the world was no better than a decrepit giant; the form still loomed gigantic, but the substance was gripped with the chill paralysis wherewith Philip had smitten it, since he had entered like a poisonous blight upon his inheritance.

[Sidenote: Death of Burghley, Aug.]

Philip was seventy-one when he died. Six weeks earlier Lord Burghley, seven years his senior, passed away, leaving Elizabeth with none beside her of her own generation. For forty years too, he had been the Queen's first minister. However we read the enigma of Elizabeth's apparent frivolity, vacillation, trickery and success, he had been throughout the one man with whose counsel she would not dispense, even when she seemed to flout him. Essentially he was a master of compromise, of balance; a devotee of moderation, of the via media. Hardly less averse to war than his mistress, he would yet have preferred war to some of the ignominious shifts by which she evaded it; for he had a cool level-headed confidence in England's essential vitality and power of weathering the storm, if it should burst, even at times when outside observers imagined that that confidence was hurrying her to ruin. When obliged to lean to one side or the other in religious controversy, he adopted the cause of "his brethren in Christ" as Elizabeth dubbed them with a sneer, because that was more compatible with his via media than the other: but he had none of Walsingham's puritanic enthusiasm. His ideal for England was a prosperous respectability: breaches of political propriety shocked him. He would take no share in the profits of buccaneering exploits: but it was the same mental quality which kept him from any zeal for Causes which might drag the country into incalculable ventures. When it seemed to him that a vigorous support of European Protestantism was the only alternative to submission to Spain, he went with Walsingham, though Elizabeth found her own alternative in spite of them both: but he did it reluctantly, and always at bottom with the hope that Spain and England might yet attain mutual amity. After the death of Nicholas Bacon in 1579 he inclined more to believe in that possibility, and in proportion as the war-party was strengthened by the Armada his antagonism to it became the more marked. After his seventieth year his direct interference in politics had become less; but his astute son, Robert Cecil, represented him. All through his career, he was a consistent opportunist, using without scruple all currently admissible tools, never missing the chance of the half-loaf. The most industrious of men, a supremely shrewd judge of character and motive, he was rarely-save in the case of the Queen-misled by superficial appearances; though his own lack of sentiment prevented him from fully appreciating the sentimental factor in politics. Always at all risks he was loyal to Queen and Country; and habitually, even at some risk, to servants and colleagues. If he does not stand absolutely in the first rank of English statesmen, they are yet few who stand above him.

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