The History of England in Three Volumes, Vol.I., Part D. - From Elizabeth to James I.
by David Hume
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* Haynes, p. 471.

** Camden, p. 423.

The admiral, constrained by the impatience of his troops, and by the difficulty of subsisting them, fought with the duke of Anjou the battle of Moncontour in Poictou, where he was wounded and defeated. The court of France, notwithstanding their frequent experience of the obstinacy of the Hugonots, and the vigor of Coligny, vainly flattered themselves that the force of the rebels was at last finally annihilated; and they neglected further preparations against a foe, who, they thought, could never more become dangerous. They were surprised to hear, that this leader had appeared, without dismay, in another quarter of the kingdom; had encouraged the young princes, whom he governed to like constancy; had assembled an army; had taken the field; and was even strong enough to threaten Paris. The public finances, diminished by the continued disorders of the kingdom, and wasted by so many fruitless military enterprises, could no longer bear the charge of a new armament, and the king, notwithstanding his extreme animosity against the Hugonots, was obliged, in 1570, to conclude an accommodation with them, to grant them a pardon for all past offences, and to renew the edicts for liberty of conscience.

Though a pacification was seemingly concluded, the mind of Charles was nowise reconciled to his rebellious subjects, and this accommodation, like all the foregoing, was nothing but a snare, by which the perfidious court had projected to destroy at once, without danger, all its formidable enemies. As the two young princes, the admiral, and the other leaders of the Hugonots, instructed by past experience, discovered an extreme distrust of the king's intentions, and kept themselves in security at a distance, all possible artifices were employed to remove their apprehensions, and to convince them of the sincerity of the new counsels which seemed to be embraced. The terms of the peace were religiously observed to them; the toleration was strictly maintained; all attempts made by the zealous Catholics to infringe it were punished with severity; offices, and favors, and honors were bestowed on the principal nobility among the Protestants; and the king and council every where declared that, tired of civil disorders, and convinced of the impossibility of forcing men's consciences, they were thenceforth determined to allow every one the free exercise of his religion.

Among the other artifices employed to lull the Protestants into a fatal security, Charles affected to enter into close connections with Elizabeth; and as it seemed not the interest of France to forward the union of the two kingdoms of Great Britain, that princess the more easily flattered herself that the French monarch would prefer her friendship to that of the queen of Scots. The better to deceive her, proposals of marriage were made her with the duke of Anjou; a prince whose youth, beauty, and reputation for valor might naturally be supposed to recommend him to a woman who had appeared not altogether insensible to these endowments. The queen immediately founded on this offer the project of deceiving the court of France; and being intent on that artifice, she laid herself the more open to be deceived. Negotiations were entered into with regard to the marriage; terms of the contract were proposed; difficulties started and removed; and the two courts, equally insincere, though not equally culpable, seemed to approach every day nearer to each other in their demands and concessions. The great obstacle seemed to lie in adjusting the difference of religion; because Elizabeth, who recommended toleration to Charles, was determined not to grant it in her own dominions, not even to her husband; and the duke of Anjou seemed unwilling to submit, for the sake of interest, to the dishonor of an apostasy.[*]

* Camden, p. 433. Davila, lib. v. Digger's Complete Ambassador p. 84, 110, 111

The artificial politics of Elizabeth never triumphed so much in any contrivances as in those which were conjoined with her coquetry; and as her character in this particular was generally known, the court of France thought that they might, without danger of forming any final conclusion, venture the further in their concessions and offers to her. The queen also had other motives for dissimulation. Besides the advantage of discouraging Mary's partisans by the prospect of an alliance between France and England, her situation with Philip demanded her utmost vigilance and attention; and the violent authority established in the Low Countries made her desirous of fortifying herself even with the bare appearance of a new confederacy.

The theological controversies which had long agitated Europe, had from the beginning penetrated into the Low Countries; and as these provinces maintained an extensive commerce, they had early received, from every kingdom with which they corresponded, a tincture of religious innovation. An opinion at that time prevailed, which had been zealously propagated by priests, and implicitly received by sovereigns, that heresy was closely connected with rebellion, and that every great or violent alteration in the church involved a like revolution in the civil government. The forward zeal of the reformers would seldom allow them to wait the consent of the magistrate to their innovations: they became less dutiful when opposed and punished; and though their pretended spirit of reasoning and inquiry was in reality nothing but a new species of implicit faith, the prince took the alarm, as if so institutions could be secure from the temerity of their researches. The emperor Charles, who proposed to augment his authority under pretence of defending the Catholic faith, easily adopted these political principles; and notwithstanding the limited prerogative which he possessed in the Netherlands, he published the most arbitrary, severe, and tyrannical edicts against the Protestants; and he took care that the execution of them should be no less violent and sanguinary. He was neither cruel nor bigoted in his natural disposition; yet an historian, celebrated for moderation and caution, has computed, that in the several persecutions promoted by that monarch, no less than a hundred thousand persons perished by the hands of the executioner.[*] But these severe remedies; far from answering the purposes intended, had rather served to augment the numbers as well as zeal of the reformers; and the magistrates of the several towns, seeing no end of those barbarous executions, felt their humanity rebel against their principles, and declined any further persecution of the new doctrines.

* Grotii Annal. lib. i. Father Paul, another great authority, computes, in a passage above cited, that fifty thousand persons were put to death in the Low Countries alone.

When Philip succeeded to his father's dominions, the Flemings were justly alarmed with new apprehensions, lest their prince, observing the lenity of the magistrates, should take the execution of the edicts from such remiss hands, and should establish the inquisition in the Low Countries, accompanied with all the iniquities and barbarities which attended it in Spain. The severe and unrelenting character of the man, his professed attachment to Spanish manners, the inflexible bigotry of his principles; all these circumstances increased their terror; and when he departed the Netherlands, with a known intention never to return, the disgust of the inhabitants was extremely augmented, and their dread of those tyrannical orders which their sovereign, surrounded with Spanish ministers, would issue from his cabinet at Madrid. He left the duchess of Parma governess of the Low Countries, and the plain good sense and good temper of that princess, had she been intrusted with the sole power, would have preserved the submission of those opulent provinces, which were lost from that refinement of treacherous and barbarous politics on which Philip so highly valued himself. The Flemings found, that the name alone of regent remained with the duchess; that Cardinal Granville entirely possessed the king's confidence; that attempts were every day made on their liberties; that a resolution was taken never more to assemble the states; that new bishoprics were arbitrarily erected, in order to enforce the execution of the persecuting edicts; and that, on the whole, they must expect to be reduced to the condition of a province under the Spanish monarchy. The discontents of the nobility gave countenance to the complaints of the gentry, which encouraged the mutiny of the populace; and all orders of men showed a strong disposition to revolt. Associations were formed, tumultuary petitions presented, names of distinction assumed, badges of party displayed; and the current of the people, impelled by religious zeal, and irritated by feeble resistance, rose to such a height, that in several towns, particularly in Antwerp, they made an open invasion on the established worship, pillaged the churches and monasteries, broke the images, and committed the most unwarrantable disorders.

The wiser part of the nobility, particularly the prince of Orange, and the counts Egmont and Horn, were alarmed at these excesses, to which their own discontents had at first given countenance; and seconding the wisdom of the governess, they suppressed the dangerous insurrections, punished the ringleaders, and reduced all the provinces to a state of order and submission. But Philip was not contented with the reestablishment of his ancient authority: he considered that provinces so remote from the seat of government could not be ruled by a limited prerogative; and that a prince who must entreat rather than command, would necessarily, when he resided not among the people, feel every day a diminution of his power and influence. He determined, therefore, to lay hold of the late popular disorders as a pretence for entirely abolishing the privileges of the Low Country provinces, and for ruling them thenceforth with a military and arbitrary authority.

In the execution of this violent design, he employed a man who was a proper instrument in the hands of such a tyrant. Ferdinand of Toledo, duke of Alva, had been educated amidst arms; and having attained a consummate knowledge in the military art, his habits led him to transfer into all government the severe discipline of a camp, and to conceive no measures between prince and subject but those of rigid command and implicit obedience. This general, in 1568, conducted from Italy to the Low Countries a powerful body of veteran Spaniards; and his avowed animosity to the Flemings, with his known character, struck that whole people with terror and consternation. It belongs not to our subject to relate at length those violences which Alva's natural barbarity, steeled by reflection and aggravated by insolence, exercised on those flourishing provinces. It suffices to say, that all their privileges, the gift of so many princes, and the inheritance of so many ages, were openly and expressly abolished by edict; arbitrary and sanguinary tribunals erected; the counts Egmont and Horn, in spite of their great merits and past services, brought to the scaffold; multitudes of all ranks thrown into confinement, and thence delivered over to the executioner; and notwithstanding the peaceable submission of all men, nothing was heard of but confiscation, imprisonment, exile, torture, and death.

Elizabeth was equally displeased to see the progress of that scheme laid for the extermination of the Protestants, and to observe the erection of so great a military power in a state situated in so near a neighborhood. She gave protection to all the Flemish exiles who took shelter in her dominions; and as many of these were the most industrious inhabitants of the Netherlands, and had rendered that country celebrated for its arts, she reaped the advantage of introducing into England some useful manufactures, which were formerly unknown in that kingdom. Foreseeing that the violent government of Alva could not long subsist without exciting some commotion, she ventured to commit an insult upon him, which she would have been cautious not to hazard against a more established authority. Some Genoese merchants had engaged, by contract with Philip, to transport into Flanders the sum of four hundred thousand crowns; and the vessels on which this money was embarked, had been attacked in the Channel by some privateers equipped by the French Hugonots, and had taken shelter in Plymouth and Southampton. The commanders of the ships pretended that the money belonged to the king of Spain; but the queen, finding upon inquiry that it was the property of Genoese merchants, took possession of it as a loan; and by that means deprived the duke of Alva of this resource in the time of his greatest necessity. Alva, in revenge, seized all the English merchants in the Low Countries, threw them into prison, and confiscated their effects. The queen retaliated by a like violence on the Flemish and Spanish merchants; and gave all the English liberty to make reprisals on the subjects of Philip.

These differences were afterwards accommodated by treaty, and mutual reparations were made to the merchants; but nothing could repair the loss which so well-timed a blow inflicted on the Spanish government in the Low Countries. Alva, in want of money, and dreading the immediate mutiny of his troops, to whom great arrears were due, imposed, by his arbitrary will, the most ruinous taxes on the people. He not only required the hundredth penny, and the twentieth of all immovable goods; he also demanded the tenth of all movable goods on every sale; an absurd tyranny, which would not only have destroyed all arts and commerce, but even have restrained the common intercourse of life. The people refused compliance; the duke had recourse to his usual expedient of the gibbet; and thus matters came still nearer the last, extremities between the Flemings and the Spaniards.[*]

All the enemies of Elizabeth, in order to revenge themselves for her insults, had naturally recourse to one policy, the supporting of the cause and pretensions of the queen of Scots; and Alva, whose measures were ever violent, soon opened a secret intercourse with that princess. There was one Rodolphi, a Florentine merchant, who had resided about fifteen years in London, and who, while he conducted his commerce in England, had managed all the correspondence of the court of Rome with the Catholic nobility and gentry.[**]

* Bentivoglio, part. i. lib. v. Camden, p. 416.

** Lesley, p. 123. State Trials, vol. i. p. 87.

He had been thrown into prison at the time when the duke of Norfolk's intrigues with Mary had been discovered; but either no proof, was found against him, or the part which he had acted was not very criminal; and he soon after recovered his liberty. This man, zealous for the Catholic faith, had formed a scheme, in concert with the Spanish ambassador, for subverting the government, by a foreign invasion and a domestic insurrection; and when he communicated his project by letter to Mary, he found, that as she was now fully convinced of Elizabeth's artifices, and despaired of ever recovering her authority, or even her liberty, by pacific measures, she willingly gave her concurrence. The great number of discontented Catholics were the chief source of their hopes on the side of England and they also observed that the kingdom was at that time full of indigent gentry, chiefly younger brothers, who, having at present, by the late decay of the church, and the yet languishing state of commerce, no prospect of a livelihood suitable to their birth, were ready to throw themselves into any desperate enterprise.[*] But in order to inspire life and courage into all these malecontents, it was requisite that some great nobleman should put himself at their head; and no one appeared to Rodolphi, and to the bishop of Ross, who entered into all these intrigues, so proper, both on account of his power and his popularity, as the duke of Norfolk.

This nobleman, when released from confinement in the Tower, had given his promise, that he would drop all intercourse with the queen of Scots;[**] but finding that he had lost, and, as he feared, beyond recovery, the confidence and favor of Elizabeth, and being still in some degree restrained from his liberty, he was tempted, by impatience and despair, to violate his word, and to open anew his correspondence with the captive princess.[***] A promise of marriage was renewed between them; the duke engaged to enter into all her interests; and as his remorses gradually diminished in the course of these transactions, he was pushed to give his consent to enterprises still more criminal. Rodolphi's plan was, that the duke of Alva should, on some other pretence, assemble a great quantity of shipping in the Low Countries; should transport a body of six thousand foot and four thousand horse into England; should land them at Harwich, where the duke of Norfolk was to join them with all his friends; should thence march directly to London, and oblige the queen to submit to whatever terms the conspirators should please to impose upon her.[****] Norfolk expressed his assent to this plan; and three letters, in consequence of it, were written in his name by Rodolphi; one to Alva, another to the pope, and a third to the king of Spain; but the duke, apprehensive of the danger, refused to sign them.[v]

* Lesley, p. 123.

** Haynes, p. 571.

*** State Trials, vol. i. p. 102.

**** Lesley, p. 155., State Trials, vol. i. p. 86, 87.

v Lesley, p. 159., 161. Camden, p. 432.

He only sent to the Spanish ambassador a servant and confidant, named Barker, as well to notify his concurrence in the plan, as to vouch for the authenticity of these letters; and Rodolphi, having obtained a letter of credence from the ambassador, proceeded on his journey to Brussels and to Rome. The duke of Alva and the pope embraced the scheme with alacrity: Rodolphi informed Norfolk of their intentions;[*] and every thing seemed to concur in forwarding the undertaking.

Norfolk, notwithstanding these criminal enterprises, had never entirely forgotten his duty to his sovereign, his country, and his religion: and though he had laid the plan both of an invasion and an insurrection, he still flattered himself, that the innocence of his intentions would justify the violence of his measures, and that, as he aimed at nothing but the liberty of the queen of Scots, and the obtaining of Elizabeth's consent to his marriage, he could not justly reproach himself as a rebel and a traitor.[**] It is certain, however, that, considering the queen's vigor and spirit, the scheme, if successful, must finally have ended in dethroning her; and her authority was here exposed to the utmost danger.

The conspiracy hitherto had entirely escaped the vigilance of Elizabeth, and that of Secretary Cecil, who now bore the title of Lord Burleigh. It was from another attempt of Norfolk's that they first obtained a hint, which, being diligently traced, led at last to a full discovery. Mary had intended to send a sum of money to Lord Herreis and her partisans in Scotland; and Norfolk undertook to have it delivered to Bannister, a servant of his, at that time in the north, who was to find some expedient for conveying it to Lord Herreis.[***] He intrusted the money to a servant who was not in the secret, and told him, that the bag contained a sum of money in silver, which he was to deliver to Bannister with a letter: but the servant, conjecturing from the weight and size of the bag that it was full of gold, carried the letter to Burleigh; who immediately ordered Bannister, Barker, and Hicford, the duke's secretary, to be put under arrest, and to undergo a severe examination. Torture made them confess the whole truth; and as Hicford, though ordered to burn all papers, had carefully kept them concealed under the mats of the duke's chamber, and under the tiles of the house, full evidence now appeared against his master.[****]

* State Trials, vol. i. p. 93.

** Lesley, p. 158.

*** Lesley, p. 169. State Trials, vol. i. p. 87. Camden, p. 434. Digges, p. 134, 137, 140. Strype, vol. ii. p. 82.

**** Lesley, p. 173.

Norfolk himself, who was entirely ignorant of the discoveries made by his servants, was brought before the council; and though exhorted to atone for his guilt by a full confession, he persisted in denying every crime with which he was charged. The queen always declared, that if he had given her this proof of his sincere repentance, she would have pardoned all his former offences;[*] but finding him obstinate, she committed him to the Tower, and ordered him to be brought to his trial. The bishop of Ross had, on some suspicion, been committed to custody before the discovery of Norfolk's guilt; and every expedient was employed to make him reveal his share in the conspiracy. He at first insisted on his privilege: but he was told, that as his mistress was no longer a sovereign, he would not be regarded as an ambassador, and that, even if that character were allowed, it did not warrant him in conspiring against the sovereign at whose court he resided.[**] As he still refused to answer interrogatories, he was informed of the confession made by Norfolk's servants; after which he no longer scrupled to make a full discovery; and his evidence put the guilt of that nobleman beyond all question.

{1572.} A jury of twenty-five peers unanimously passed sentence upon him. The trial was quite regular, even according to the strict rules observed at present in these matters; except that the witnesses gave not their evidence in court, and were not confronted with the prisoner; a laudable practice, which was not at that time observed in trials for high treason.

The queen still hesitated concerning Norfolk's execution; whether that she was really moved by friendship and compassion towards a peer of that rank and merit, or that, affecting the praise of clemency, she only put on the appearance of these sentiments. Twice she signed a warrant for his execution, and twice revoked the fatal sentence;[***] and though her ministers and counsellors pushed her to rigor, she still appeared irresolute and undetermined.

* Lesley, p. 175.

** Lesley, p. 189. Spotswood.

*** Carte, p. 527, from Fenelon's Despatches. Digges, p. 166. Strype, vol. ii. p. 83.

After four months' hesitation, a parliament was assembled; and the commons addressed her in strong terms for the execution of the duke; a sanction which, when added to the greatness and certainty of his guilt, would, she thought, justify, in the eyes of all mankind, her severity against that nobleman. Norfolk died with calmness and constancy; and though he cleared himself of any disloyal intentions against the queen's authority, he acknowledged the justice of the sentence by which he suffered.[*] That we may relate together affairs of a similar nature, we shall mention, that the earl of Northumberland, being delivered up to the queen by the regent of Scotland, was also, a few months after, brought to the scaffold for his rebellion.

The queen of Scots was either the occasion or the cause of all these disturbances; but as she was a sovereign princess and might reasonably, from the harsh treatment which she had met with, think herself entitled to use any expedient for her relief, Elizabeth durst not, as yet, form any resolution of proceeding to extremities against her. She only sent Lord Delawar, Sir Ralph Sadler, Sir Thomas Bromley, and Dr. Wilson, to expostulate with her, and to demand satisfaction for all those parts of her conduct, which, from the beginning of her life, had given displeasure to Elizabeth: her assuming the arms of England, refusing to ratify the treaty of Edinburgh, intending to marry Norfolk without the queen's consent, concurring in the northern rebellion,[**] practising with Rodolphi to engage the king of Spain in an invasion of England,[***] procuring the pope's bull of excommunication, and allowing her friends abroad to give her the title of queen of England. Mary justified herself from the several articles of the charge, either by denying the facts imputed to her, or by throwing the blame on others.[****] But the queen was little satisfied with her apology; and the parliament was so enraged against her, that the commons made a direct application for her immediate trial and execution. They employed some topics derived from practice, and reason, and the laws of nations; but the chief stress was laid on passages and examples from the Old Testament,[v] which, if considered as a general rule of conduct, (an intention which it is unreasonable to suppose,) would lead to consequences destructive of all principles of humanity and morality. Matters were here carried further than Elizabeth intended; and that princess, satisfied with showing Mary the disposition of the nation, sent to the house her express commands not to deal any further at present with the affair of the Scottish queen.v

* Camden, p. 440. Strype, vol. ii. App. p. 23.

** Digges, p. 16, 107. Strype, vol. ii. p. 51, 52.

*** Digges, p. 194, 208, 209. Strype, vol. ii. p. 40, 51.

**** Camden, p. 442.

v D'Ewes, p. 207, 208, etc.

v* D'Ewes, p. 219, 241.

Nothing could be a stronger proof that the puritanical interest prevailed in the house, than the intemperate use of authorities derived from Scripture, especially from the Old Testament; and the queen was so little a lover of that sect, that she was not likely to make any concession merely in deference to their solicitation. She showed, this session, her disapprobation of their schemes in another remarkable instance. The commons had passed two bills for regulating ecclesiastical ceremonies; but she sent them a like imperious message with her former ones; and by the terror of her prerogative, she stopped all further proceeding in those matters[*]

But though Elizabeth would not carry matters to such extremities against Mary as were recommended by the parliament, she was alarmed at the great interest and the restless spirit of that princess, as well as her close connections with Spain; and she thought it necessary both to increase the rigor and strictness of her confinement, and to follow maxims different from those which she had hitherto pursued in her management of Scotland.[**] That kingdom remained still in a state of anarchy. The Castle of Edinburgh, commanded by Kirkaldy of Grange, had declared for Mary; and the lords of that party, encouraged by his countenance, had taken possession of the capital, and carried on a vigorous war against the regent. By a sudden and unexpected inroad, they seized that nobleman at Stirling; but finding that his friends, sallying from the castle, were likely to rescue him, they instantly put him to death. The earl of Marre was chosen regent in his room, and found the same difficulties in the government of that divided country. He was therefore glad to accept of the mediation offered by the French and English ambassadors; and to conclude, on equal terms, a truce with the queen's party.[***] He was a man of free and generous spirit, and scorned to submit to any dependence on England; and for this reason Elizabeth, who had then formed intimate connections with France, yielded with less reluctance to the solicitations of that court, still maintained the appearance of neutrality between the parties, and allowed matters to remain on a balance in Scotland.[****]

* D'Ewes, p. 213, 238.

** Digges, p. 152.

*** Spotswood, p. 263.

**** Digges, p. 156, 165, 169.

But affairs soon after took a new turn: Marre died of melancholy, with which the distracted state of the country affected him: Morton was chosen regent; and as this nobleman had secretly taken all his measures with Elizabeth, who no longer relied on the friendship of the French court, she resolved to exert herself more effectually for the support of the party which she had always favored. She sent Sir Henry Killegrew ambassador to Scotland, who found Mary's partisans so discouraged by the discovery and punishment of Norfolk's conspiracy, that they were glad to submit to the king's authority, and accept of an indemnity for all past offences.[*] The duke of Chatelrault and the earl of Huntley, with the most considerable of Mary's friends, laid down their arms on these conditions. The garrison alone of the Castle of Edinburgh continued refractory. Kirkaldy's fortunes were desperate; and he flattered himself with the hopes of receiving assistance from the kings of France and Spain, who encouraged his obstinacy, in the view of being able, from that quarter, to give disturbance to England. Elizabeth was alarmed with the danger; she no more apprehended making an entire breach with the queen of Scots, who, she found, would not any longer be amused by her artifices; she had an implicit reliance on Morton; and she saw, that by the submission of all the considerable nobility, the pacification of Scotland would be an easy, as well as a most important undertaking. She ordered, therefore, Sir William Drury, governor of Berwick, to march with some troops and artillery to Edinburgh, and to besiege the castle.[**]

* Spotswood, p. 268.

** Camden, p, 443.

The garrison surrendered at discretion: Kirkaldy was delivered into the hands of his countrymen, by whom he was tried, condemned, and executed; Secretary Lidington, who had taken part with him, died, soon after, a voluntary death, as is supposed; and Scotland submitting entirely to the regent, gave not, during a long time, any further inquietude to Elizabeth.

The events which happened in France were not so agreeable to the queen's interests and inclinations. The fallacious pacifications, which had been so often made with the Hugonots, gave them reason to suspect the present intentions of the court; and after all the other leaders of that party were deceived into a dangerous credulity, the sagacious admiral still remained doubtful and uncertain. But his suspicions were at last overcome, partly by the profound dissimulation of Charles, partly by his own earnest desire to end the miseries of France, and return again to the performance of his duty towards his prince and country. He considered, besides, that as the former violent conduct of the court had ever met with such fatal success, it was not unlikely that a prince, who had newly come to years of discretion, and appeared not to be rivetted in any dangerous animosities or prejudices, would be induced to govern himself by more moderate maxims. And as Charles was young, was of a passionate, hasty temper, and addicted to pleasure,[*] such deep perfidy seemed either remote from his character, or difficult and almost impossible to be so uniformly supported by him. Moved by these considerations, the admiral, the queen of Navarre, and all the Hugonots, began to repose themselves in full security, and gave credit to the treacherous caresses and professions of the French court. Elizabeth herself, notwithstanding her great experience and penetration, entertained not the least distrust of Charles's sincerity; and being pleased to find her enemies of the house of Guise removed from all authority, and to observe an animosity every day growing between the French and Spanish monarchs, she concluded a defensive league with the former,[**] and regarded this alliance as an invincible barrier to her throne. Walsingham, her ambassador, sent her over, by every courier, the most satisfactory accounts of the honor, and plain dealing, and fidelity of that perfidious prince.

* Digges, p. 8, 39.

** Camden, p. 443.

The better to blind the jealous Hugonots, and draw their leaders into the snare prepared for them, Charles offered his sister, Margaret, in marriage to the prince of Navarre; and the admiral, with all the considerable nobility of the party, had come to Paris, in order to assist at the celebration of these nuptials, which, it was hoped, would finally, if not compose the differences, at least appease the bloody animosity of the two religions. The queen of Navarre was poisoned by orders from the court; the admiral was dangerously wounded by an assassin: yet Charles, redoubling his dissimulation, was still able to retain the Hugonots in their security; till, on the evening of St. Bartholomew, a few days after the marriage, the signal was given for a general massacre of those religionists, and the king himself in person led the way to these assassinations. The hatred long entertained by the Parisians against the Protestants, made them second, without any preparation, the fury of the court; and persons of every condition, age, and sex, suspected of any propensity to that religion, were involved in an undistinguished ruin. The admiral, his son-in-law Teligni, Soubize, Rochefoucault, Pardaillon, Piles, Lavardin, men who, during the late wars, had signalized themselves by the most heroic actions, were miserably butchered without resistance; the streets of Paris flowed with blood; and the people, more enraged than satiated with their cruelty, as if repining that death had saved their victims from further insult, exercised on their dead bodies all the rage of the most licentious brutality. About five hundred gentlemen and men of rank perished in this massacre; and near ten thousand of inferior condition.[*] Orders were instantly despatched to all the provinces for a like general execution of the Protestants; and in Rouen, Lyons, and many other cities, the people emulated the fury of the capital. Even the murder of the king of Navarre, and prince of Conde, had been proposed by the duke of Guise; but Charles, softened by the amiable manners of the king of Navarre, and hoping that these young princes might easily be converted to the Catholic faith, determined to spare their lives, though he obliged them to purchase their safety by a seeming change of their religion.

Charles, in order to cover this barbarous perfidy, pretended that a conspiracy of the Hugonots to seize his person had been suddenly detected; and that he had been necessitated, for his own defence, to proceed to this severity against them. He sent orders to Fenelon, his ambassador in England, to ask an audience, and to give Elizabeth this account of the late transaction. That minister, a man of probity, abhorred the treachery and cruelty of his court, and even scrupled not to declare that he was now ashamed to bear the name of Frenchman;[**] yet he was obliged to obey his orders, and make use of the apology which had been prescribed to him. He met with that reception from all the courtiers which he knew the conduct of his master had so well merited. Nothing could be more awful and affecting than the solemnity of his audience. A melancholy sorrow sat on every face: silence, as in the dead of night, reigned through all the chambers of the royal apartment: the courtiers and ladies, clad in deep mourning, were ranged on each side, and allowed him to pass without affording him one salute or favorable look, till he was admitted to the queen herself.[***]

* Davila, lib. v.

** Digges, p. 24[**?]

*** Carte, vol. iii. p. 522,

That princess received him with a more easy, if not a more gracious countenance; and heard from Fenelon's Despatches, his apology, without discovering any visible symptoms of indignation. She then told him, that though, on the first rumor of this dreadful intelligence, she had been astonished that so many brave men and loyal subjects, who rested secure on the faith of their sovereign, should have been suddenly butchered in so barbarous a manner, she had hitherto suspended her judgment, till further and more certain information should be brought her: that the account which he had given, even if founded on no mistake or bad information, though it might alleviate, would by no means remove the blame of the king's counsellors, or justify the strange irregularity of their proceedings: that the same force which, without resistance, had massacred so many defenceless men, could easily have secured their persons, and have reserved them for a trial, and for punishment by a legal sentence, which would have distinguished the innocent from the guilty: that the admiral in particular, being dangerously wounded, and environed by the guards of the king, on whose protection he seemed entirely to rely, had no means of escape, and might surely, before his death, have been convicted of the crimes imputed to him: that it was more worthy of a sovereign to reserve in his own hands the sword of justice, than to commit it to bloody murderers, who, being the declared and mortal enemies of the persons accused, employed it without mercy and without distinction: that if these sentiments were just, even supposing the conspiracy of the Protestants to be real, how much more so if that crime was a calumny of their enemies, invented for their destruction? that if, upon inquiry, the innocence of these unhappy victims should afterwards appear, it was the king's duty to turn his vengeance on their defamers, who had thus cruelly abused his confidence, had murdered so many of his brave subjects, and had done what in them lay to cover him with everlasting dishonor: and that for her part, she should form her judgment of his intentions by his subsequent conduct; and in the mean time should act as desired by the ambassador and rather pity than blame his master for the extremities to which he had been carried.[*]

* Digges, p. 247, 248.

Elizabeth was fully sensible of the dangerous situation in which she now stood. In the massacre of Paris, she saw the result of that general conspiracy formed for the extermination of the Protestants; and she knew that she herself, as the head and protectress of the new religion, was exposed to the fury and resentment of the Catholics. The violence and cruelty of the Spaniards in the Low Countries was another branch of the same conspiracy; and as Charles and Philip, two princes nearly allied in perfidy and barbarity, as well as in bigotry, had now laid aside their pretended quarrel, and had avowed the most entire friendship,[*] she had reason, as soon as they had appeased their domestic commotions, to dread the effects of their united counsels. The duke of Guise also, and his family, whom Charles, in order to deceive the admiral, had hitherto kept at a distance, had now acquired an open and entire ascendant in the court of France; and she was sensible that these princes, from personal as well as political reasons, were her declared and implacable enemies. The queen of Scots, their near relation and close confederate, was the pretender to her throne; and though detained in custody, was actuated by a restless spirit, and, besides her foreign allies, possessed numerous and zealous partisans in the heart of the kingdom. For these reasons Elizabeth thought it more prudent not to reject all commerce with the French monarch, but still to listen to the professions of friendship which he made her. She allowed even the negotiations to be renewed for her marriage with the duke of Alencon, Charles's third brother:[**] those with the duke of Anjou had already been broken off. She sent the earl of Worcester to assist in her name at the baptism of a young princess, born to Charles; but before she agreed to give him this last mark of condescension, she thought it becoming her dignity to renew her expressions of blame, and even of detestation, against the cruelties exercised on his Protestant subjects.[***] Meanwhile, she prepared herself for that attack which seemed to threaten her from the combined power and violence of the Romanists: she fortified Portsmouth, put her fleet in order, exercised her militia, cultivated popularity with her subjects, acted with vigor for the further reduction of Scotland under obedience to the young king, and renewed her alliance with the German princes, who were no less alarmed than herself at these treacherous and sanguinary measures, so universally embraced by the Catholics.

* Digges, p. 268, 282.

** Digges, passim. Camden, p. 447.

*** Digges, p. 297, 298. Camden, p. 447.

But though Elizabeth cautiously avoided coming to extremities with Charles, the greatest security that she possessed against his violence was derived from the difficulties which the obstinate resistance of the Hugonots still created to him.

{1573.} Such of that sect as lived near the frontiers, immediately, on the first news of the massacres, fled into England, Germany, or Switzerland; where they excited the compassion and indignation of the Protestants, and prepared themselves, with increased forces and redoubled zeal, to return into France, and avenge the treacherous slaughter of their brethren. Those who lived in the middle of the kingdom took shelter in the nearest garrisons occupied by the Hugonots; and finding that they could repose no faith in capitulations, and expect no clemency, were determined to defend themselves to the last extremity. The sect which Charles had hoped at one blow to exterminate, had now an army of eighteen thousand men on foot, and possessed, in different parts of the kingdom, above a hundred cities, castles, or fortresses;[*] nor could that prince deem himself secure from the invasion threatened him by all the other Protestants in Europe. The nobility and gentry of England were roused to such a pitch of resentment, that they offered to levy an army of twenty-two thousand foot and four thousand horse, to transport them into France, and to maintain them six months at their own charge: but Elizabeth, who was cautious in her measures, and who feared to inflame further the quarrel between the two religions by these dangerous crusades, refused her consent, and moderated the zeal of her subjects.[**] The German princes, less political, or more secure from the resentment of France, forwarded the levies made by the Protestants; and the young prince of Conde, having escaped from court, put himself at the head of these troops, and prepared to invade the kingdom. The duke of Alencon, the king of Navarre, the family of Montmorency, and many considerable men even among the Catholics, displeased, either on a private or public account, with the measures of the court, favored the progress of the Hugonots; and every thing relapsed into confusion.

{1574.} The king, instead of repenting his violent counsels, which had brought matters to such extremities, called aloud for new violences;[***] nor could even the mortal distemper, under which he labored, moderate the rage and animosity by which he was actuated. He died without male issue, at the age of twenty-five years; a prince, whose character, containing that unusual mixture of dissimulation and ferocity, of quick resentment and unrelenting vengeance, executed the greatest mischiefs, and threatened still worse, both to his native country and to all Europe.

* Digges, p. 343.

** Digges, p. 335, 341.

*** Davila, lib.

Henry, duke of Anjou, who had some time before been elected king of Poland, no sooner heard of his brother's death, than he hastened to take possession of the throne of France; and found the kingdom not only involved in the greatest present disorders, but exposed to infirmities for which it was extremely difficult to provide any suitable remedy.

{1575.} The people were divided into two theological factions, furious from their zeal, and mutually enraged from the injuries which they had committed or suffered; and as all faith had been violated and moderation banished, it seemed impracticable to find any terms of composition between them. Each party had devoted itself to leaders whose commands had more authority than the will of the sovereign; and even the Catholics, to whom the king was attached, were entirely conducted by the counsels of Guise and his family. The religious connections had, on both sides, superseded the civil; or rather, (for men will always be guided by present interest,) two empires being secretly formed in the kingdom, every individual was engaged by new views of interest to follow those leaders to whom, during the course of past convulsions, he had been indebted for his honors and preferment.

Henry, observing the low condition of the crown, had laid a scheme for restoring his own authority, by acting as umpire between the parties, by moderating their differences, and by reducing both to a dependence upon himself. He possessed all the talents of dissimulation requisite for the execution of this delicate plan; but being deficient in vigor, application, and sound judgment, instead of acquiring a superiority over both factions, he lost the confidence of both, and taught the partisans of each to adhere still more closely to their particular leaders, whom they found more cordial and sincere in the cause which they espoused.

{1576.} The Hugonots were strengthened by the accession of a German army under the prince of Conde and Prince Casimir; but much more by the credit and personal virtues of the king of Navarre, who, having fled from court, had placed himself at the head of that formidable party. Henry, in prosecution of his plan, entered into a composition with them; and being desirous of preserving a balance between the sects, he granted them peace on the most advantageous conditions. This was the fifth general peace made with the Hugonots, but though it was no more sincere on the part of the court than any of the former, it gave the highest disgust to the Catholics; and afforded the duke of Guise the desired pretence of declaiming against the measures, and maxims, and conduct of the king.

That artful and bold leader took thence an occasion of reducing his party into a more formed and regular body; and he laid the first foundations of the famous "league," which, without paying any regard to the royal authority, aimed at the entire suppression of the Hugonots. Such was the unhappy condition of France, from the past severities and violent conduct of its princes, that toleration could no longer be admitted; and a concession for liberty of conscience, which would probably have appeased the reformers, excited the greatest resentment in the Catholics.

{1577.} Henry, in order to divert the force of the league from himself, and even to elude its efforts against the Hugonots, declared himself the head of that seditious confederacy, and took the field as leader of the Romanists. But his dilatory and feeble measures betrayed his reluctance to the undertaking; and after some unsuccessful attempts, he concluded a new peace, which, though less favorable than the former to the Protestants, gave no contentment to the Catholics. Mutual diffidence still prevailed between the parties; the king's moderation was suspicious to both; each faction continued to fortify itself against that breach, which, they foresaw, must speedily ensue; theological controversy daily whetted the animosity of the sects; and every private injury became the ground of a public quarrel.

{1578.} The king, hoping by his artifice and subtlety to allure the nation into a love of pleasure and repose, was himself caught in the snare; and sinking into a dissolute indolence, wholly lost the esteem, and, in a great measure, the affections, of his people. Instead of advancing such men of character and abilities as were neuters between these dangerous factions, he gave all his confidence to young, agreeable favorites, who, unable to prop his falling authority, leaned entirely upon it, and inflamed the general odium against his administration. The public burdens, increased by his profuse liberality, and felt more heavy on a disordered kingdom, became another ground of complaint: and the uncontrolled animosity of parties, joined to the multiplicity of taxes, rendered peace more calamitous than any open state of foreign or even domestic hostility.

{1579.} The artifices of the king too refined to succeed, and too frequent to be concealed; and the plain, direct, and avowed conduct of the duke of Guise on one side, and that of the king of Navarre on the other, drew by degrees the generality of the nation to devote themselves without reserve to one or the other of those great leaders.

The civil commotions of France were of too general importance to be overlooked by the other princes of Europe; and Elizabeth's foresight and vigilance, though somewhat restrained by her frugality, led her to take secretly some part in them. Besides employing on all occasions her good offices in favor of the Hugonots, she had expended no inconsiderable sums in levying that army of Germans which the prince of Conde and Prince Casimir conducted into France;[*] and notwithstanding her negotiations with the court, and her professions of amity, she always considered her own interests as connected with the prosperity of the French Protestants, and the depression of the house of Guise. Philip, on the other hand, had declared himself protector of the league; had entered into the closest correspondence with Guise; and had employed all his authority in supporting the credit of that factious leader. This sympathy of religion, which of itself begat a connection of interests, was one considerable inducement; but that monarch had also in view the subduing of his rebellious subjects in the Netherlands; who, as they received great encouragement from the French Protestants, would, he hoped, finally despair of success, after the entire suppression of their friends and confederates.

* Camden, p 452.

The same political views which engaged Elizabeth to support the Hugonots would have led her to assist the distressed Protestants in the Low Countries; but the mighty power of Philip, the tranquillity of all his other dominions, and the great force which he maintained in these mutinous provinces, kept her in awe, and obliged her, notwithstanding all temptations and all provocations, to preserve some terms of amity with that monarch. The Spanish ambassador represented to her, that many of the Flemish exiles, who infested the seas, and preyed on his master's subjects, were received into the harbors of England, and were there allowed to dispose of their prizes; and by these remonstrances the queen found herself under a necessity of denying them all entrance into her dominions.

But this measure proved in the issue extremely prejudicial to the interests of Philip. These desperate exiles, finding no longer any possibility of subsistence, were forced to attempt the most perilous enterprises; and they made an assault on the Brille, a seaport town in Holland, where they met with success, and after a short resistance became masters of the place.[*]

* Camden, p. 443.

The duke of Alva was alarmed at the danger; and stopping those bloody executions which he was making on the defenceless Flemings, he hastened with his army to extinguish the flame, which, falling on materials so well prepared for combustion, seemed to menace a general conflagration. His fears soon appeared to be well grounded. The people in the neighborhood of the Brille, enraged by that complication of cruelty, oppression, insolence, usurpation, and persecution, under which they and all their countrymen labored, flew to arms; and in a few days almost all the whole province of Holland and that of Zealand had revolted from the Spaniards, and had openly declared against the tyranny of Alva. This event happened in the year 1572.

William, prince of Orange, descended from a sovereign family of great lustre and antiquity in Germany, inheriting the possessions of a sovereign family in France, had fixed his residence in the Low Countries; and on account of his noble birth and immense riches, as well as of his personal merit, was universally regarded as the greatest subject that lived in those provinces. He had opposed, by all regular and dutiful means, the progress of the Spanish usurpations; and when Alva conducted his army into the Netherlands, and assumed the government, this prince, well acquainted with the violent character of the man, and the tyrannical spirit of the court of Madrid, wisely fled from the danger which threatened him, and retired to his paternal estate and dominions in Germany. He was cited to appear before Alva's tribunal, was condemned in absence, was declared a rebel, and his ample possessions in the Low Countries were confiscated. In revenge, he had levied an army of Protestants in the empire, and had made some attempts to restore the Flemings to liberty; but was still repulsed with loss by the vigilance and military conduct of Alva, and by the great bravery as well as discipline of those veteran Spaniards who served under that general.

The revolt of Holland and Zealand, provinces which the prince of Orange had formerly commanded, and where he was much beloved, called him anew from his retreat; and he added conduct, no less than spirit, to that obstinate resistance which was here made to the Spanish dominion. By uniting the revolted cities in a league, he laid the foundation of that illustrious commonwealth, the offspring of industry and liberty, whose arms and policy have long made so signal a figure in every transaction of Europe. He inflamed the inhabitants by every motive which religious zeal, resentment, or love of freedom could inspire. Though the present greatness of the Spanish monarchy might deprive them of all courage, he still flattered them with the concurrence of the other provinces, and with assistance from neighboring states; and he exhorted them, in defence of their religion, their liberties, their lives, to endure the utmost extremities of war. From this spirit proceeded the desperate defence of Harlem; a defence which nothing but the most consuming famine could overcome, and which the Spaniards revenged by the execution of more than two thousand of the inhabitants.[*] This extreme severity, instead of striking terror into the Hollanders, animated them by despair; and the vigorous resistance made at Alemaer, where Alva was finally repulsed, showed them that their insolent enemies were not invincible. The duke, finding at last the pernicious effects of his violent counsels, solicited to be recalled; Medinaceli, who was appointed his successor, refused to accept the government: Requesens, commendator of Castile, was sent from Italy to replace Alva; and this tyrant departed from the Netherlands in 1574; leaving his name in execration to the inhabitants; and boasting in his turn, that, during the course of five years, he had delivered above eighteen thousand of these rebellious heretics into the hands of the executioner.[**]

* Bentivoglio, lib. vol.1.*

** Grotius, lib. ii.

Requesens, though a man of milder dispositions, could not appease the violent hatred which the revolted Hollanders had conceived against the Spanish government; and the war continued as obstinate as ever. In the siege of Leyden, under taken by the Spaniards, the Dutch opened the dikes and sluices, in order to drive them from the enterprise: and the very peasants were active in ruining their fields by an inundation, rather than fall again under the hated tyranny of Spain. But notwithstanding this repulse, the governor still pursued the war; and the contest seemed too unequal between so mighty a monarchy and two small provinces, however fortified by nature, and however defended by the desperate resolution of the inhabitants. The prince of Orange, therefore, in 1575, was resolved to sue for foreign succor, and to make applications to one or other of his great neighbors, Henry or Elizabeth. The court of France was not exempt from the same spirit of tyranny and persecution which prevailed among the Spaniards; and that kingdom, torn by domestic dissensions, seemed not to enjoy, at present, either leisure or ability to pay regard to foreign interests. But England, long connected both by commerce and alliance with the Netherlands, and now more concerned in the fate of the revolted provinces by sympathy in religion, seemed naturally interested in their defence; and as Elizabeth had justly entertained great jealousy of Philip, and governed her kingdom in perfect tranquillity, hopes were entertained that her policy, her ambition, or her generosity, would engage her to, support them under their present calamities. They sent, therefore, a solemn embassy to London, consisting of St. Aldegonde, Douza, Nivelle, Buys, and Melsen; and after employing the most humble supplications to the queen, they offered her the possession and sovereignty of their provinces, if she would exert her power in their defence.

There were many strong motives which might impel Elizabeth to accept of so liberal an offer. She was apprised of the injuries which Philip had done her, by his intrigues with the malecontents in England and Ireland:[*] she foresaw the danger which she must incur from a total prevalence of the Catholics in the Low Countries: and the maritime situation of those provinces, as well as their command over the great rivers, was an inviting circumstance to a nation like the English, who were beginning to cultivate commerce and naval power.

* Digges, p. 73.

But this princess, though magnanimous, had never entertained the ambition of making conquests, or gaining new acquisitions; and the whole purpose of her vigilant and active politics was to maintain, by the most frugal and cautious expedients, the tranquillity of her own dominions. An open war with the Spanish monarchy was the apparent consequence of her accepting the dominion of these provinces; and after taking the inhabitants under her protection, she could never afterwards in honor abandon them, but, however desperate their defence might become, she must embrace it, even further than her convenience or interests would permit. For these reasons, she refused, in positive terms, the sovereignty proffered her; but told the ambassadors, that, in return for the good will which the prince of Orange and the states had shown her, she would endeavor to mediate an agreement for them, on the most reasonable terms that could be obtained.[*]

* Camden, p. 453, 454.

She sent accordingly Sir Henry Cobham to Philip; and represented to him the danger which he would incur of losing entirely the Low Countries, if France could obtain the least interval from her intestine disorders, and find leisure to offer her protection to those mutinous and discontented provinces. Philip seemed to take this remonstrance in good part; but no accord ensued, and war in the Netherlands continued with the same rage and violence as before.

It was an accident that delivered the Hollanders from their present desperate situation. Requesens, the governor, dying suddenly, the Spanish troops, discontented for want of pay, and licentious for want of a proper authority to command them, broke into a furious mutiny, and threw every thing into confusion. They sacked and pillaged the cities of Maestricht and Antwerp, and executed great slaughter on the inhabitants: they threatened the other cities with a like fate: and all the provinces, excepting Luxembourg, united for mutual defence against their violence, and called in the prince of Orange and the Hollanders as their protectors. A treaty, commonly called the Pacification of Ghent, was formed by common agreement; and the removal of foreign troops, with the restoration of their ancient liberties, was the object which the provinces mutually stipulated to pursue. Don John of Austria, natural brother to Philip, being appointed governor, found, on his arrival at Luxembourg, that the states had so fortified themselves, and that the Spanish troops were so divided by their situation, that there was no possibility of resistance; and he agreed to the terms required of him. The Spaniards evacuated the country; and these provinces seemed at last to breathe a little from their calamities.

But it was not easy to settle entire peace, while the thirst of revenge and dominion governed the king of Spain, and while the Flemings were so strongly agitated with resentment of past, and fear of future injuries. The ambition of Don John, who coveted this great theatre for his military talents engaged him rather to inflame than appease the quarrel; and as he found the states determined to impose very strict limitations on his authority, he broke all articles, seized Namur, and procured the recall of the Spanish army from Italy. This prince, endowed with a lofty genius, and elated by the prosperous successes of his youth, had opened his mind to vast undertakings; and looking much beyond the conquest of the revolted provinces, had projected to espouse the queen of Scots, and to acquire in her right the dominion of the British kingdoms.[*] Elizabeth was aware of his intentions; and seeing now, from the union of all the provinces, a fair prospect of their making a long and vigorous defence against Spain, she no longer scrupled to embrace the protection of their liberties, which seemed so intimately connected with her own safety. After sending them a sum of money, about twenty thousand pounds, for the immediate pay of their troops, she concluded a treaty with them; in which she stipulated to assist them with five thousand foot and a thousand horse, at the charge of the Flemings; and to lend them a hundred thousand pounds, on receiving the bonds of some of the most considerable towns of the Netherlands, for her repayment within the year. It was further agreed, that the commander of the English army should be admitted into the council of the states; and nothing be determined concerning war or peace, without previously informing the queen or him of it; that they should enter into no league without her consent; that if any discord arose among themselves, it should be referred to her arbitration; and that, if any prince, on any pretext, should attempt hostilities against her, they should send to her assistance an army equal to that which she had employed in their defence. This alliance was signed on the seventh of January, 1578.[**]

* Camden, p. 466. Grotius, lib. iii.

** Camden, p. 466.

One considerable inducement to the queen for entering into treaty with the states, was to prevent their throwing themselves into the arms of France; and she was desirous to make the king of Spain believe that it was her sole motive. She represented to him, by her ambassador, Thomas Wilkes, that hitherto she had religiously acted the part of a good neighbor and ally; had refused the sovereignty of Holland and Zealand when offered her, had advised the prince of Orange to submit to the king; and had even accompanied her counsel with menaces, in case of his refusal. She persevered, she said, in the same friendly intentions; and, as a proof of it, would venture to interpose with her advice for the composure of the present differences: let Don John, whom she could not but regard as her mortal enemy, be recalled; let some other prince more popular be substituted in his room; let the Spanish armies be withdrawn; let the Flemings be restored to their ancient liberties and privileges; and if, after these concessions, they were still obstinate not to return to their duty, she promised to join her arms with those of the king of Spain, and force them to compliance. Philip dissembled his resentment against the queen, and still continued to supply Don John with money and troops. That prince, though once repulsed at Rimenant by the valor of the English, under Norris, and though opposed, as well by the army of the states as by Prince Casimir, who had conducted to the Low Countries a great body of Germans paid by the queen, gained a great advantage over the Flemings at Gemblours; but was cut off in the midst of his prosperity by poison, given him secretly, as was suspected, by orders from Philip, who dreaded his ambition. The prince of Parma succeeded to the command; who, uniting valor and clemency, negotiation and military exploits, made great progress against the revolted Flemings, and advanced the progress of the Spaniards by his arts as well as by his arms.

During these years, while Europe was almost every where in great commotion, England enjoyed a profound tranquillity; owing chiefly to the prudence and vigor of the queen's administration, and to the wise precautions which she employed in all her measures. By supporting the zealous Protestants in Scotland, she had twice given them the superiority over their antagonists, had closely connected their interests with her own, and had procured herself entire security from that quarter whence the most dangerous invasions could be made upon her. She saw in France her enemies, the Guises, though extremely powerful, yet counterbalanced by the Hugo*nots, her zealous partisans, and even hated by the king, who was jealous of their restless and exorbitant ambition. The bigotry of Philip gave her just ground of anxiety; but the same bigotry had happily excited the most obstinate opposition among his own subjects, and had created him enemies whom his arms and policy were not likely soon to subdue. The queen of Scots, her antagonist and rival, and the pretender to her throne, was a prisoner in her hands; and, by her impatience and high spirit, had been engaged in practices which afforded the queen a pretence for rendering her confinement more rigorous, and for cutting off her communication with her partisans in England.

Religion was the capital point on which depended all the political transactions of that age; and the queen's conduct in this particular, making allowance for the prevailing prejudices of the times, could scarcely be accused of severity or imprudence. She established no inquisition into men's bosoms; she imposed no oath of supremacy, except on those who received trust or emolument from the public; and though the exercise of every religion but the established was prohibited by statute, the violation of this law, by saying mass, and receiving the sacrament, in private houses, was in many instances connived at;[*] while, on the other hand, the Catholics, in the beginning of her reign, showed little reluctance against going to church, or frequenting the ordinary duties of public worship. The pope, sensible that this practice would by degrees reconcile all his partisans to the reformed religion, hastened the publication of the bull which excommunicated the queen, and freed her subjects from their oaths of allegiance; and great pains were taken by the emissaries of Rome, to render the breach between the two religions as wide as possible, and to make the frequenting of Protestant churches appear highly criminal in the Catholics.[**] These practices, with the rebellion which ensued, increased the vigilance and severity of the government; but the Romanists, if their condition were compared with that of the nonconformists in other countries, and with their own maxims where they domineered, could not justly complain of violence or persecution.

* Camden, p. 459.

** Walsingham's Letter in Burnet, vol. ii. p. 418. Cabala, p. 406.

The queen appeared rather more anxious to keep a strict hand over the Puritans; who, though their pretensions were not so immediately dangerous to her authority, seemed to be actuated by a more unreasonable obstinacy, and to retain claims, of which, both in civil and ecclesiastical matters, it was as yet difficult to discern the full scope and intention. Some secret attempts of that sect to establish a separate congregation and discipline, had been carefully repressed in the beginning of this reign;[*] and when any of the established clergy discovered a tendency to their principles, by omitting the legal habits or ceremonies, the queen had shown a determined resolution to punish them by fines and deprivation;[**] though her orders to that purpose had been frequently eluded, by the secret protection which these sectaries received from some of her most considerable courtiers.

But what chiefly tended to gain Elizabeth the hearts of her subjects, was her frugality, which, though carried sometimes to an extreme, led her not to amass treasures, but only to prevent impositions upon her people, who were at that time very little accustomed to bear the burdens of government. By means of her rigid economy, she paid all the debts which she found on the crown, with their full interest; though some of these debts had been contracted even during the reign of her father.[***] Some loans, which she had exacted at the commencement of her reign, were repaid by her; a practice in that age somewhat unusual;[****] and she established her credit on such a footing, that no sovereign in Europe could more readily command any sum which the public exigencies might at any time require.[v] During this peaceable and uniform government, England furnishes few materials for history; and except the small part which Elizabeth took in foreign transactions, there scarcely passed any occurrence which requires a particular detail.

* Strype's Life of Parker, p. 342. Strype's Life of Grindal, p. 315.

** Heylin, p. 165, 166.

*** D'Ewes, p. 245. Camden, p. 446.

**** D'Ewes, p. 245.

v D'Ewes, p. 246.

The most memorable event in this period was a session of parliament, held on the eighth of February, 1576; where debates were started which may appear somewhat curious and singular. Peter Wentworth, a Puritan, who had signalized himself in former parliaments by his free and undaunted spirit, opened this session with a premeditated harangue, which drew on him the indignation of the house, and gave great offence to the queen and the ministers. As it seems to contain a rude sketch of those principles of liberty which happily gained afterwards the ascendant in England, it may not be improper to give, in a few words, the substance of it. He premised, that the very name of liberty is sweet; but the thing itself is precious beyond the most inestimable treasures and that it behoved them to be careful, lest, contenting themselves with the sweetness of the name, they forego the substance, and abandon what of all earthly possessions was of the highest value to the kingdom. He then proceeded to observe, that freedom of speech in that house,—a privilege so useful both to sovereign and subject,—had been formerly infringed in many essential articles, and was at present exposed to the most imminent danger: that it was usual, when any subject of importance was handled, especially if it regarded religion, to surmise, that these topics were disagreeable to the queen, and that the further proceeding in them would draw down her indignation upon their temerity: that Solomon had justly affirmed the king's displeasure to be a messenger of death; and it was no wonder if men, even though urged by motives of conscience and duty, should be inclined to stop short when they found themselves exposed to so severe a penalty: that by the employing of this argument, the house was incapacitated from serving their country, and even from serving the queen herself, whose ears, besieged by pernicious flatterers, were thereby rendered inaccessible to the most salutary truths: that it was a mockery to call an assembly a parliament, yet deny it that privilege which was so essential to its being, and without which it must degenerate into an abject school of servility and dissimulation: that as the parliament was the great guardian of the laws, they ought to have liberty to discharge their trust, and to maintain that authority whence even kings themselves derive their being: that a king was constituted such by law, and though he was not dependent on man, yet was he subordinate to God and the law, and was obliged to make their prescriptions, not his own will, the rule of his conduct: that even his commission, as God's vicegerent, enforced, instead of loosening this obligation; since he was thereby invested with authority to execute on earth the will of God, which is nothing but law and justice: that though these surmises of displeasing the queen by their proceedings, had impeached, in a very essential point, all freedom of speech,—a privilege granted them by a special law,—yet was there a more express and more dangerous invasion made on their liberties, by frequent messages from the throne: that it had become a practice, when the house was entering on any question, either ecclesiastical or civil, to bring an order from the queen, inhibiting them absolutely from treating of such matters, and debarring them from all further discussion of these momentous articles: that the prelates, emboldened by her royal protection, had assumed a decisive power in all questions of religion, and required that every one should implicitly submit his faith to their arbitrary determinations: that the love which he bore his sovereign forbade him to be silent under such abuses, or to sacrifice, on this important occasion, his duty to servile flattery and complaisance; and that, as no earthly creature was exempt from fault, so neither was the queen herself; but, in imposing this servitude on her faithful commons, had committed a great and even dangerous fault against herself and the whole commonwealth.[*]

It is easy to observe from this speech, that, in this dawn of liberty, the parliamentary style was still crude and unformed; and that the proper decorum of attacking ministers and counsellors, without interesting the honor of the crown, or mentioning the person of the sovereign, was not yet entirely established. The commons expressed great displeasure at this unusual license; they sequestered Wentworth from the house, and committed him prisoner to the serjeant at arms. They even ordered him to be examined by a committee, consisting of all those members who were also members of the privy council; and a report to be next day made to the house. This committee met in the star chamber, and, wearing the aspect of that arbitrary court, summoned Wentworth to appear before them, and answer for his behavior. But though the commons had discovered so little delicacy or precaution in thus confounding their own authority with that of the star chamber, Wentworth better understood the principles of liberty, and refused to give these counsellors any account of his conduct in parliament, till he were satisfied that they acted, not as members of the privy council, but as a committee of the house.[**] He justified his liberty of speech by pleading the rigor and hardship of the queen's messages; and notwithstanding that the committee showed him, by instances in other reigns, that the practice of sending such messages was not unprecedented, he would not agree to express any sorrow or repentance. The issue of the affair was, that after a month's confinement, the queen sent to the commons, informing them, that, from her special grace and favor, she had restored him to his liberty and to his place in the house.[***]

* D'Ewes, p. 236, 237, etc.

** D'Ewes, p. 244.

*** D'Ewes, p. 241.

By this seeming lenity, she indirectly retained the power which she had assumed, of imprisoning the members and obliging them to answer before her for their conduct in parliament. And Sir Walter Mildmay endeavored to make the house sensible of her majesty's goodness, in so gently remitting the indignation which she might justly conceive at the temerity of their member; but he informed them, that they had not the liberty of speaking what and of whom they pleased; and that indiscreet freedoms used in that house, had, both in the present and foregoing ages, met with a proper chastisement. He warned them, therefore, not to abuse further the queen's clemency, lest she be constrained, contrary to her inclination, to turn an unsuccessful lenity into a necessary severity.[*]

The behavior of the two houses was, in every other respect, equally tame and submissive. Instead of a bill, which was at first introduced,[**] for the reformation of the church, they were contented to present a petition to her majesty for that purpose; and when she told them, that she would give orders to her bishops to amend all abuses, and, if they were negligent, she would herself, by her supreme power and authority over the church, give such redress as would entirely satisfy the nation, the parliament willingly acquiesced in this sovereign and peremptory decision.[***]

Though the commons showed so little spirit in opposing the authority of the crown, they maintained, this session, their dignity against an encroachment of the peers, and would not agree to a conference which, they thought, was demanded of them in an irregular manner. They acknowledged, however, with all humbleness, (such is their expression,) the superiority of the lords: they only refused to give that house any reason for their proceedings; and asserted, that where they altered a bill sent them by the peers, it belonged to them to desire a conference, not to the upper house to require it.[****]

* D'Ewes, p. 259.

** D'Ewes, p. 252.

*** D'Ewes, p. 257.

**** D'Ewes, p. 263.

The commons granted an aid of one subsidy and two fifteenths. Mildmay, in order to satisfy the house concerning the reasonableness of this grant, entered into a detail of the queen's past expenses in supporting the government, and of the increasing charges of the crown, from the daily increase in the price of all commodities. He did not, however, forge to admonish them, that they were to regard this detail as the pure effect of the queen's condescension, since she was not bound to give them any account how she employed her treasure.[*]

* D'Ewes, p. 246.



{1580.} The greatest and most absolute security that Elizabeth enjoyed during her whole reign, never exempted her from vigilance and attention; but the scene began now to be more overcast, and dangers gradually multiplied on her from more than one quarter.

The earl of Morton had hitherto retained Scotland in strict alliance with the queen, and had also restored domestic tranquility to that kingdom; but it was not to be expected, that the factitious and legal authority of a regent would long maintain itself in a country unacquainted with law and order; where even the natural dominion of hereditary princes so often met with opposition and control. The nobility began anew to break into factions; the people were disgusted with some instances of Morton's avarice; and the clergy, who complained of further encroachments on their narrow revenue, joined and increased the discontent of the other orders. The regent was sensible of his dangerous situation; and having dropped some peevish expressions, as if he were willing or desirous to resign, the noblemen of the opposite party, favorites of the young king, laid hold of this concession, and required that demission which he seemed so frankly to offer them. James was at this time but eleven years of age; yet Morton, having secured himself, as he imagined, by a general pardon, resigned his authority into the hands of the king, who pretended to conduct in his own name the administration of the kingdom. The regent retired from the government, and seemed to employ himself entirely in the care of his domestic affairs; but either tired with this tranquillity, which appeared insipid after the agitations of ambition, or thinking it time to throw off dissimulation, he came again to court, acquired an ascendant in the council, and though he resumed not the title of regent, governed with the same authority as before. The opposite party, after holding separate conventions, took to arms, on pretence of delivering their prince from captivity, and restoring him to the free exercise of his government: Queen Elizabeth interposed by her ambassador, Sir Robert Bowes, and mediated an agreement between the factions: Morton kept possession of the government; but his enemies were numerous and vigilant, and his authority seemed to become every day more precarious.

The count d'Aubigney, of the house of Lenox, cousin-german to the king's father, had been born and educated in France; and being a young man of good address and a sweet disposition, he appeared to the duke of Guise a proper instrument for detaching James from the English interest, and connecting him with his mother and her relations. He no sooner appeared at Stirling, where James resided, than he acquired the affections of the young monarch; and joining his interests with those of James Stuart, of the house of Ochiltree, a man of profligate manners, who had acquired the king's favor, he employed himself, under the appearance of play and amusement, in instilling into the tender mind of the prince new sentiments of politics and government. He represented to him the injustice which had been done to Mary in her deposition, and made him entertain thoughts either of resigning the crown into her hands, or of associating her with him in the administration.[*] Elizabeth, alarmed at the danger which might ensue from the prevalence of this interest in Scotland, sent anew Sir Robert Bowes to Stirling; and accusing D'Aubigney, now created earl of Lenox, of an attachment to the French, warned James against entertaining such suspicious and dangerous connections.[**]

* Digges, p. 412, 428. Melvil, p. 130.

** Spotswood, p. 309.

The king excused himself by Sir Alexander Hume, his ambassador; and Lenox, finding that the queen had openly declared against him, was further confirmed in his intention of overturning the English interest, and particularly of ruining Morton, who was regarded as the head of it. That nobleman was arrested in council, accused as an accomplice in the late king's murder, committed to prison, brought to trial, and condemned to suffer as a traitor. He confessed that Bothwell had communicated to him the design, had pleaded Mary's consent, and had desired his concurrence; but he denied that he himself had ever expressed any approbation of the crime; and in excuse for his concealing it, he alleged the danger of revealing the secret, either to Henry, who had no resolution nor constancy, or Morton, who appeared to be an accomplice in the murder.[*]

* Spotswood, p. 314, Crawford, p. 333. Moyse's Memoirs, Spotswood, p. 312. t Digge, p. 359. 373.

Sir Thomas Randolph was sent by the queen to intercede in favor of Morton; and that ambassador, not content with discharging this duty of his function, engaged, by his persuasion, the earls of Argyle, Montrose, Angus, Marre, and Glencairne, to enter into a confederacy for protecting, even by force of arms, the life of the prisoner. The more to overawe that nobleman's enemies, Elizabeth ordered forces to be assembled on the borders of England; but this expedient served only to hasten his sentence and execution. Morton died with that constancy and resolution which had attended him through all the various events of his life; and left a reputation which was less disputed with regard to abilities than probity and virtue. But this conclusion of the scene happened not till the subsequent year.

Elizabeth was, during this period, extremely anxious on account of every revolution in Scotland; both because that country alone, not being separated from England by sea, and bordering on all the Catholic and malecontent counties, afforded her enemies a safe and easy method of attacking her; and because she was sensible that Mary, thinking herself abandoned by the French monarch, had been engaged by the Guises to have recourse to the powerful protection of Philip, who, though he had not yet come to an open rupture with the queen, was every day, both by the injuries which he committed and suffered, more exasperated against her. That he might retaliate the assistance which she gave to his rebels in the Low Countries, he had sent, under the name of the pope; a body of seven hundred Spaniards and Italians into Ireland; where the inhabitants, always turbulent, and discontented with the English government, were now more alienated by religious prejudices, and were ready to join every invader. The Spanish general, San Josepho, built a fort in Kerry; and being there besieged by the earl of Ormond, president of Munster, who was soon after joined by Lord Gray, the deputy, he made a weak and cowardly defence. After some assaults, feebly sustained, he surrendered at discretion; and Gray, who commanded but a small force, finding himself encumbered with so many prisoners, put all the Spaniards and Italians to the sword without mercy, and hanged about fifteen hundred of the Irish; a cruelty which gave great displeasure to Elizabeth.[*]

When the English ambassador made complaints of this invasion, he was answered by like complaints of the piracies committed by Francis Drake, a bold seaman, who had assaulted the Spaniards in the place where they deemed themselves most secure—in the new world. This man, sprung from mean parents in the county of Devon, having acquired considerable riches by depredations made in the Isthmus of Panama, and having there gotten a sight of the Pacific Ocean, was so stimulated by ambition and avarice, that he scrupled not to employ his whole fortune in a new adventure through those seas, so much unknown at that time to all the European nations.[**] By means of Sir Christopher Hatton, then vice-chamberlain, a great favorite of the queen's, he obtained her consent and approbation; and he set sail from Plymouth in 1577, with four ships and a pinnace, on board of which were one hundred and sixty-four able sailors.[***] He passed into the South Sea by the Straits of Magellan; and attacking the Spaniards, who expected no enemy in those quarters, he took many rich prizes, and prepared to return with the booty which he had acquired. Apprehensive of being intercepted by the enemy, if he took the same way homewards by which he had reached the Pacific Ocean, he attempted to find a passage by the north of California; and failing in that enterprise, he set sail for the East Indies, and returned safely this year, by the Cape of Good Hope. He was the first Englishman who sailed round the globe; and the first commander-in-chief; for Magellan, whose ship executed the same adventure, died in his passage. His name became celebrated on account of so bold and fortunate an attempt; but many, apprehending the resentment of the Spaniards, endeavored to persuade the queen, that it would be more prudent to disavow the enterprise, to punish Drake, and to restore the treasure. But Elizabeth, who admired valor, and who was allured by the prospect of sharing in the booty, determined to countenance that gallant sailor: she conferred on him the honor of knighthood, and accepted of a banquet from him at Deptford, on board the ship which had achieved so memorable a voyage.

* Camden, p. 475. Cox's Hist, of Ireland, p. 368.

** Camden, p. 478. Stowe, p. 689.

** Camden, p. 478. Hakluyt's Voyages, vol. iii. p. 750 Purchas's Pilgrim, vol. i. p. 46.

When Philip's ambassador, Mendoza, exclaimed against Drake's piracies, she told him, that the Spaniards, by arrogating a right to the whole new world, and excluding thence all other European nations who should sail thither, even with a view of exercising the most lawful commerce, naturally tempted others to make a violent irruption into those countries.[*] To pacify, however, the Catholic monarch, she caused part of the booty to be restored to Pedro Sebura, a Spaniard, who pretended to be agent for the merchants whom Drake had spoiled. Having learned afterwards that Philip had seized the money, and had employed part of it against herself in Ireland, part of it in the pay of the prince of Parma's troops she determined to make no more restitutions.

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