The History of England in Three Volumes, Vol.I., Part D. - From Elizabeth to James I.
by David Hume
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The chief support of the kingdom seemed to consist in the vigor and prudence of the queen's conduct; who, undismayed by the present dangers, issued all her orders with tranquillity, animated her people to a steady resistance, and employed every resource which either her domestic situation or her foreign alliances could afford her. She sent Sir Robert Sidney into Scotland; and exhorted the king to remain attached to her, and to consider the danger which at present menaced his sovereignty no less than her own, from the ambition of the Spanish tyrant:[*] the ambassador found James well disposed to cultivate a union with England; and that prince even kept himself prepared to march with the force of his whole kingdom to the assistance of Elizabeth. Her authority with the king of Denmark, and the tie of their common religion, engaged this monarch, upon her application, to seize a squadron of ships which Philip had bought or hired in the Danish harbors:[**] the Hanse Towns, though not at that time on good terms with Elizabeth, were induced, by the same motives, to retard so long the equipment of some vessels in their ports, that they became useless to the purpose of invading England. All the Protestants throughout Europe regarded this enterprise as the critical event which was to decide forever the fate of their religion; and though unable, by reason of their distance, to join their force to that of Elizabeth, they kept their eyes fixed on her conduct and fortune, and beheld with anxiety, mixed with admiration, the intrepid countenance with which she encountered that dreadful tempest which was every moment advancing towards her.

* She made him some promises which she never fulfilled, to give him a dukedom in England, with suitable lands and revenue, to settle five thousand pounds a year on him, and pay him a guard, for the safety of his person. From a MS. of Lord Hoyston's.

** Strype, vol. iii. p. 524.

The queen also was sensible that, next to the general popularity which she enjoyed, and the confidence which her subjects reposed in her prudent government, the firmest support of her throne consisted in the general zeal of the people for the Protestant religion, and the strong prejudices which they had imbibed against Popery. She took care, on the present occasion, to revive in the nation this attachment to their own sect, and this abhorrence of the opposite. The English were reminded of their former danger from the tyranny of Spain: all the barbarities exercised by Mary against the Protestants were ascribed to the counsels of that bigoted and imperious nation: the bloody massacres in the Indies, the unrelenting executions in the Low Countries, the horrid cruelties and iniquities of the inquisition, were set before men's eyes: a list and description was published, and pictures dispersed, of the several instruments of torture with which, it was pretended, the Spanish armada was loaded: and every artifice, as well as reason, was employed, to animate the people to a vigorous defence of their religion, their laws, and their liberties.

But while the queen, in this critical emergence, roused the animosity of the nation against Popery, she treated the partisans of that sect with moderation, and gave not way to an undistinguishing fury against them. Though she knew that Sixtus Quintus, the present pope, famous for his capacity and his tyranny, had fulminated a new bull of excommunication against her, had deposed her, had absolved her subjects from their oaths of allegiance, had published a crusade against England, and had granted plenary indulgences to every one engaged in the present invasion, she would not believe that all her Catholic subjects could be so blinded as to sacrifice to bigotry their duty to their sovereign, and the liberty and independence of their native country. She rejected all violent counsels, by which she was urged to seek pretences for despatching the leaders of that party: she would not even confine any considerable number of them: and the Catholics, sensible of this good usage, generally expressed great zeal for the public service. Some gentlemen of that sect, conscious that they could not justly expect any trust or authority, entered themselves as volunteers in the fleet or army:[*] some equipped ships at their own charge, and gave the command of them to Protestants: others were active in animating their tenants, and vassals, and neighbors, to the defence of their country: and every rank of men, burying for the present all party distinctions, seemed to prepare themselves, with order as well as vigor, to resist the violence of these invaders.

* Stowe, p. 747.

The more to excite the martial spirit of the nation, the queen appeared on horseback in the camp at Tilbury; and riding through the lines, discovered a cheerful and animated countenance, exhorted the soldiers to remember their duty to their country and their religion, and professed her intention, though a woman, to lead them herself into the field against the enemy, and rather to perish in battle than survive the ruin and slavery of her people.[*] [28]

* See note BB, at the end of the volume.

By this spirited behavior she revived the tenderness and admiration of the soldiery: an attachment to her person became a kind of enthusiasm among them: and they asked one another, whether it were possible that Englishmen could abandon this glorious cause, could display less fortitude than appeared in the female sex, or could ever, by any dangers, be induced to relinquish the defence of their heroic princess.

The Spanish armada was ready in the beginning of May; but the moment it was preparing to sail, the marquis of Santa Croce, the admiral, was seized with a fever, of which he soon after died. The vice-admiral, the duke of Paliano, by a strange concurrence of accidents, at the very same time suffered the same fate; and the king appointed for admiral the duke of Medina Sidonia, a nobleman of great family, but unexperienced in action, and entirely unacquainted with sea affairs. Alcarede was appointed vice-admiral. This misfortune, besides the loss of so great an officer as Santa Croce, retarded the sailing of the armada, and gave the English more time for their preparations to oppose them. At last the Spanish fleet, full of hopes and alacrity, set sail from Lisbon; but next day met with a violent tempest, which scattered the ships, sunk some of the smallest, and forced the rest to take shelter in the Groine, where they waited till they could be refitted. When news of this event was carried to England, the queen concluded that the design of an invasion was disappointed for this summer; and being always ready to lay hold on every pretence for saving money, she made Walsingham write to the admiral, directing him to lay up some of the larger ships, and to discharge the seamen: but Lord Effingham, who was not so sanguine in his hopes, used the freedom to disobey these orders; and he begged leave to retain all the ships in service, though it should be at his own expense.[*] He took advantage of a north wind, and sailed towards the coast of Spain, with an intention of attacking the enemy in their harbors; but the wind changing to the south, he became apprehensive lest they might have set sail, and by passing him at sea, invade England, now exposed by the absence of the fleet. He returned, therefore, with the utmost expedition to Plymouth, and lay at anchor in that harbor.

Meanwhile all the damages of the armada were repaired; and the Spaniards with fresh hopes set out again to sea, in prosecution of their enterprise. The fleet consisted of a hundred and thirty vessels, of which near a hundred were galleons, and were of greater size than any ever before used in Europe. It carried on board nineteen thousand two hundred and ninety-five soldiers, eight thousand four hundred and fifty-six mariners, two thousand and eighty-eight galley slaves, and two thousand six hundred and thirty great pieces of brass ordnance. It was victualled for six months; and was attended by twenty lesser ships, called caravals, and ten salves with six oars apiece.[**]

The plan formed by the king of Spain was, that the armada should sail to the coast opposite to Dunkirk and Newport; and having chased away all English or Flemish vessels which might obstruct the passage, (for it was never supposed they could make opposition,) should join themselves with the duke of Parma, should thence make sail to the Thames, and having landed the whole Spanish army, thus complete at one blow the entire conquest of England. In prosecution of this scheme, Philip gave orders to the duke of Medina, that in passing along the Channel, he should sail as near the coast of France as he could with safety; that he should by this policy avoid meeting with the English fleet; and, keeping in view the main enterprise, should neglect all smaller successes which might prove an obstacle, or even interpose a delay, to the acquisition of a kingdom.[***]

* Camden, p. 545.

** Strype, vol. iii. Append. p. 221.

*** Monson, p. 1.

After the armada was under sail, they took a fisherman, who informed them that the English admiral had been lately at sea, had heard of the tempest which scattered the armada, had retired back into Plymouth and no longer expecting an invasion this season, had laid up his ships, and discharged most of the seamen. From this false intelligence the duke of Medina conceived the great facility of attacking and destroying the English ships in harbor; and he was tempted, by the prospect of so decisive an advantage, to break his orders, and make sail directly for Plymouth; a resolution which proved the safety of England. The Lizard was the first land made by the armada, about sunset; and as the Spaniards took it for the Ram Head near Plymouth, they bore out to sea with an intention of returning next day, and attacking the English navy. They were descried by Fleming, a Scottish pirate, who was roving in those seas, and who immediately set sail, to inform the English admiral of their approach;[*] another fortunate event, which contributed extremely to the safety of the fleet. Effingham had just time to get out of port, when he saw the Spanish armada coming full sail towards him, disposed in the form of a crescent, and stretching the distance of seven miles from the extremity of one division to that of the other.

The writers of that age raise their style by a pompous description of this spectacle; the most magnificent that had ever appeared upon the ocean, infusing equal terror and admiration into the minds of all beholders. The lofty masts, the swelling sails, and the towering prows of the Spanish galleons, seem impossible to be justly painted, but by assuming the colors of poetry; and an eloquent historian of Italy, in imitation of Camden, has asserted, that the armada, though the ships bore every sail, yet advanced with a slow motion; as if the ocean groaned with supporting, and the winds were tired with impelling, so enormous a weight.[**] The truth, however, is, that the largest of the Spanish vessels would scarcely pass for third-rates in the present navy of England; yet were they so ill framed, or so ill governed, that they were quite unwieldy, and could not sail upon a wind, nor tack on occasion, nor be managed in stormy weather by the seamen. Neither the mechanics of ship-building, nor the experience of mariners, had attained so great perfection as could serve for the security and government of such bulky vessels; and the English, who had already had experience how unserviceable they commonly were, beheld without dismay their tremendous appearance.

* Monson, p. 158.

** Bentivoglio, part ii. lib. iv.

Effingham gave orders not to come to close fight with the Spaniards; where the size of the ships, he suspected, and the numbers of the soldiers, would be a disadvantage to the English; but to cannonade them at a distance, and to wait the opportunity which winds, currents, or various accidents must afford him of intercepting some scattered vessels of the enemy. Nor was it long before the event answered expectation A great ship of Biscay, on board of which was a considerable part of the Spanish money, took fire by accident; and while all hands were employed in extinguishing the flames, she fell behind the rest of the armada: the great galleon of Andalusia was detained by the springing of her mast: and both these vessels were taken, after some resistance, by Sir Francis Drake. As the armada advanced up the Channel, the English hung upon its rear, and still infested it with skirmishes. Each trial abated the confidence of the Spaniards, and added courage to the English; and the latter soon found, that even in close fight the size of the Spanish ships was no advantage to them. Their bulk exposed them the more to the fire of the enemy; while their cannon, placed too high, shot over the heads of the English. The alarm having now reached, the coast of England, the nobility and gentry hastened out, with their vessels from every harbor, and reenforced the admiral. The earls of Oxford, Northumberland, and Cumberland, Sir Thomas Cecil, Sir Robert Cecil, Sir Walter Raleigh, Sir Thomas Vavasor, Sir Thomas Gerrard, Sir Charles Blount, with many others, distinguished themselves by this generous and disinterested service of their country. The English fleet, after the conjunction of those ships, amounted to a hundred and forty sail.

The armada had now reached Calais, and cast anchor before that place, in expectation that the duke of Parma, who had gotten intelligence of their approach, would put to sea and join his forces to them. The English admiral practised here a successful stratagem upon the Spaniards. He took eight of his smaller ships, and filling them with all combustible materials, sent them, one after another, into the midst of the enemy. The Spaniards fancied that they were fireships of the same contrivance with a famous vessel which had lately done so much execution in the Schelde near Antwerp; and they immediately cut their cables, and took to flight with the greatest disorder and precipitation. The English fell upon them next morning while in confusion; and besides doing great damage to other ships, they took or destroyed about twelve of the enemy.

By this time, it was become apparent, that the intention for which these preparations were made by the Spaniards was entirely frustrated. The vessels provided by the duke of Parma were made for transporting soldiers, not for fighting; and that general, when urged to leave the harbor, positively refused to expose his flourishing army to such apparent hazard; while the English not only were able to keep the sea, but seemed even to triumph over their enemy. The Spanish admiral found, in many rencounters, that while he lost so considerable a part of his own navy, he had destroyed only one small vessel of the English; and he foresaw, that by continuing so unequal a combat, he must draw inevitable destruction on all the remainder. He prepared, therefore, to return homewards; but as the wind was contrary to his passage through the Channel, he resolved to sail northwards, and making the tour of the island, reach the Spanish harbors by the ocean. The English fleet followed him during some time; and had not their ammunition fallen short, by the negligence of the offices in supplying them, they had obliged the whole armada to surrender at discretion. The duke of Medina had once taken that resolution, but was diverted from it by the advice of his confessor. This conclusion of the enterprise would have been more glorious to the English; but the event proved almost equally fatal to the Spaniards. A violent tempest overtook the armada after it passed the Orkneys; the ships had already lost their anchors, and were obliged to keep to sea: the mariners, unaccustomed to such hardships, and not able to govern such unwieldy vessels, yielded to the fury of the storm, and allowed their ships to drive either on the western isles of Scotland, or on the coast of Ireland, where they were miserably wrecked. Not a half of the navy returned to Spain; and the seamen as well as soldiers who remained, were so overcome with hardships and fatigue, and so dispirited by their discomfiture, that they filled all Spain with accounts of the desperate valor of the English and of the tempestuous violence of that ocean which surrounds them.

Such was the miserable and dishonorable conclusion of an enterprise which had been preparing for three years, which had exhausted the revenue and force of Spain, and which had long filled all Europe with anxiety or expectation. Philip, who was a slave to his ambition, but had an entire command over his countenance, no sooner heard of the mortifying event which blasted all his hopes, than he fell on his knees, and rendering thanks for that gracious dispensation of Providence expressed his joy that the calamity was not greater. The Spanish priests, who had so often blessed this holy crusade and foretold its infallible success, were somewhat at a loss to account for the victory gained over the Catholic monarch by excommunicated heretics and an execrable usurper: but they at last discovered, that all the calamities of the Spaniards had proceeded from their allowing the infidel Moors to live among them.[*] [29]

{1589.} Soon after the defeat and dispersion of the Spanish armada, the queen summoned a new parliament, and received from them a supply of two subsidies and four fifteenths, payable in four years. This is the first instance that subsidies were doubled in one supply; and so unusual a concession was probably obtained from the joy of the present success, and from the general sense of the queen's necessities. Some members objected to this heavy charge, on account of the great burden of loans which had lately been imposed upon the nation.[**] [30]

Elizabeth foresaw that this house of commons, like all the foregoing, would be governed by the Puritans; and therefore, to obviate their enterprises, she renewed, at the beginning of the session, her usual injunction, that the parliament should not on any account presume to treat of matters ecclesiastical. Notwithstanding this strict inhibition, the zeal of one Damport moved him to present a bill to the commons for remedying spiritual grievances, and for restraining the tyranny of the ecclesiastical commission, which were certainly great: but when Mr. Secretary Woley reminded the house of her majesty's commands, no one durst second the motion; the bill was not so much as read; and the speaker returned it to Damport without taking the least notice of it.[***] Some members of the house, notwithstanding the general submission were even committed to custody on account of this attempt.[****]

* See note CC, at the end of the volume.

** See note DD, at the end of the volume.

*** D'Ewes, p. 438.

**** Strype's Life of Whitgift, p. 280. Neal, vol. i. p. 500.

The imperious conduct of Elizabeth appeared still more clearly in another parliamentary transaction. The right of purveyance was an ancient prerogative, by which the officers of the crown could at pleasure take provisions for the household from all the neighboring counties, and could make use of the carts and carriages of the farmers; and the price of these commodities and services was fixed and stated. The payment of the money was often distant and uncertain; and the rates, being fixed before the discovery of the West Indies, were much inferior to the present market price; so that purveyance, besides the slavery of it, was always regarded as a great burden, and being arbitrary and casual, was liable to great abuses. We may fairly presume, that the hungry courtiers of Elizabeth, supported by her unlimited power, would be sure to render this prerogative very oppressive to the people; and the commons had, last session, found it necessary to pass a bill for regulating these exactions: but the bill was lost in the house of peers.[*] The continuance of the abuses begat a new attempt for redress; and the same bill was now revived, and again sent up to the house of peers, together with a bill for some new regulations in the court of exchequer. Soon after, the commons received a message from the upper house, desiring them to appoint a committee for a conference. At this conference, the peers informed them, that the queen, by a message delivered by Lord Burleigh, had expressed her displeasure that the commons should presume to touch on her prerogative. If there were any abuses, she said, either in imposing purveyance, or in the practice of the court of exchequer, her majesty was both able and willing to provide due reformation; but would not permit the parliament to intermeddle in these matters.[**]

* D'Ewes, p. 434.

** D'Ewes, p. 440.

The commons, alarmed at this intelligence, appointed another committee to attend the queen, and endeavor to satisfy her of their humble and dutiful intentions. Elizabeth gave a gracious reception to the committee: she expressed her great "inestimable loving care" towards her loving subjects; which, she said, was greater than of her own self, or even than any of them could have of themselves. She told them, that she had already given orders for an inquiry into the abuses attending purveyance, but the dangers of the Spanish invasion had retarded the progress of the design; that she had as much skill, will, and power to rule her household as any subjects whatsoever to govern theirs, and needed as little the assistance of her neighbors; that the exchequer was her chamber, consequently more near to her than even her house' bold, and therefore the less proper for them to intermeddle with; and that she would of herself, with advice of her council and the judges, redress every grievance in these matters, but would not permit the commons, by laws moved without her privity, to bereave her of the honor attending these regulations.[*] The issue of this matter was the same that attended all contests between Elizabeth and her parliaments.[**] She seems even to have been more imperious, in this particular, than her predecessors; at least her more remote ones: for they often permitted the abuses of purveyance[***] [31]to be redressed by law.[****] Edward III., a very arbitrary prince, allowed ten several statutes to be enacted for that purpose.

* D'Ewes, p. 444.

** Si rixa est, ubi tu pulsus, ego vapulo tantum. Juv.

*** See note EE, at the end of the volume.

**** See the statutes under the head of Purveyance.

In so great awe did the commons stand of every courtier, as well as of the crown, that they durst use no freedom of speech which they thought would give the least offence to any of them. Sir Edward Hobby showed in the house his extreme grief, that by some great personage, not a member of the house, he had been sharply rebuked for speeches delivered in parliament: he craved the favor of the house, and desired that some of the members might inform that great personage of his true meaning and intention in these speeches.[*] The commons, to obviate these inconveniencies, passed a vote that no one should reveal the secrets of the house.[**]

* D'Ewes, p. 432, 433.

** An act was passed this session, enforcing the former statute, which imposed twenty pounds a month on everyone absent from public worship: but the penalty was restricted to two thirds of the income of the recusant. 29 Eliz. c. 6.

The discomfiture of the armada had begotten in the nation a kind of enthusiastic passion for enterprises against Spain; and nothing seemed now impossible to be achieved by the valor and fortune of the English. Don Antonio, prior of Crato, a natural son of the royal family of Portugal, trusting to the aversion of his countrymen against the Castilians, had advanced a claim to the crown; and flying first to France, thence to England, had been encouraged both by Henry and Elizabeth in his pretensions. A design was formed by the people, not the court of England, to conquer the kingdom for Don Antonio: Sir Francis Drake and Sir John Norris were the leaders in this romantic enterprise: near twenty thousand volunteers[*] enlisted themselves in the service: and ships were hired, as well as arms provided, at the charge of the adventurers. The queen's frugality kept her from contributing more than sixty thousand pounds to the expense; and she only allowed six of her ships of war to attend the expedition.[**] There was more spirit and bravery than foresight or prudence in the conduct of this enterprise. The small stock of the adventurers did not enable them to buy either provisions or ammunition sufficient for such an undertaking; they even wanted vessels to stow the numerous volunteers who crowded to them; and they were obliged to seize by force some ships of the Hanse Towns, which they met with at sea; an expedient which set them somewhat at ease in point of room for their men, but remedied not the deficiency of their provisions.[***]

* Birch's Memoirs of Queen Elizabeth, vol. i. p. 61. Monson (p. 267) says that there were only fourteen thousand soldiers and four thousand seamen in the whole on this expedition: but the account contained in Dr. Birch is given by one of the most considerable of the adventurers.

** Monson, p. 267.

*** Monson, p. 159.

Had they sailed directly to Portugal, it is believed that the good will of the people, joined to the defenceless state of the country, might have insured them of success: but hearing that great preparations were making at the Groine for the invasion of England, they were induced to go thither, and destroy this new armament of Spain. They broke into the harbor; burned some ships of war, particularly one commanded by Recalde, vice-admiral of Spain; they defeated an army of four or five thousand men, which was assembled to oppose them; they assaulted the Groine, and took the lower town, which they pillaged; and they would have taken the higher, though well fortified, had they not found their ammunition and provisions beginning to fail them. The young earl of Essex, a nobleman of promising hopes, who, fired with the thirst of military honor, had secretly, unknown to the queen, stolen from England, here joined the adventurers; and it was then agreed by common consent to make sail for Portugal, the main object of their enterprise.

The English landed at Paniche, a seaport town twelve leagues from Lisbon, and Norris led the army to that capital, while Drake undertook to sail up the river, and attack the city with united forces. By this time, the court of Spain had gotten leisure to prepare against the invasion. Forces were thrown into Lisbon: the Portuguese were disarmed: all suspected persons were taken into custody: and thus, though the inhabitants bore great affection to Don Antonio, none of them durst declare in favor of the invaders. The English army, however, made themselves masters of the suburbs, which abounded with riches of all kinds; but as they desired to conciliate the affections of the Portuguese, and were more intent on honor than profit, they observed a strict discipline, and abstained from all plunder. Meanwhile they found their ammunition and provisions much exhausted; they had not a single cannon to make a breach in the walls; the admiral had not been able to pass some fortresses which guarded the river; there was no appearance of an insurrection in their favor; sickness, from fatigue, hunger, and intemperance in wine and fruits, had seized the army; so that it was found necessary to make all possible haste to reembark. They were not pursued by the enemy, and finding at the mouth of the river sixty ships laden with naval stores, they seized them as lawful prize; though they belonged to the Hanse Towns, a neutral power. They sailed thence to Vigo, which they took and burned; and having ravaged the country around, they set sail and arrived in England. Above half of these gallant adventurers perished by sickness, famine, fatigue, and the sword;[*] and England reaped more honor than profit from this extraordinary enterprise. It is computed, that eleven hundred gentlemen embarked on board the fleet, and that only three hundred and fifty survived those multiplied disasters.[**]

* Birch's Memoirs, vol. i. p. 61.

** Birch's Memoirs, vol. i. p. 61.

When these ships were on their voyage homewards, they met with the earl of Cumberland, who was outward bound, with a fleet of seven sail, all equipped at his own charge, except one ship of war which the queen had lent him. That nobleman supplied Sir Francis Drake with some provisions; a generosity which saved the lives of many of Drake's men, but for which the others afterwards suffered severely. Cumberland sailed towards the Terceras, and took several prizes from the enemy; but the richest, valued at a hundred thousand pounds, perished in her return, with all her cargo, near St. Michael's Mount, in Cornwall. Many of these adventurers were killed in a rash attempt at the Terceras: a great mortality seized the rest; and it was with difficulty that the few hands which remained were able to steer the ships back into harbor.[*]

Though the signal advantages gained over the Spaniards, and the spirit thence infused into the English, gave Elizabeth great security during the rest of her reign, she could not forbear keeping an anxious eye on Scotland, whose situation rendered its revolutions always of importance to her. It might have been expected that this high-spirited princess, who knew so well to brave danger, would not have retained that malignant jealousy towards her heir, with which, during the lifetime of Mary, she had been so much agitated. James had indeed succeeded to all the claims of his mother; but he had not succeeded to the favor of the Catholics, which could alone render these claims dangerous:[**] and as the queen was now well advanced in years, and enjoyed an uncontrolled authority over her subjects, it was not likely that the king of Scots, who was of an indolent, unambitious temper, would ever give her any disturbance in her possession of the throne. Yet all these circumstances could not remove her timorous suspicions; and so far from satisfying the nation by a settlement of the succession, or a declaration of James's title, she was as anxious to prevent every incident which might anywise raise his credit, or procure him the regard of the English, as if he had been her immediate rival and competitor. Most of his ministers and favorites were her pensioners; and as she was desirous to hinder him from marrying and having children, she obliged them to throw obstacles in the way of every alliance, even the most reasonable which could be offered him; and during some years she succeeded in this malignant policy.[***]

* Monson, p. 161.

** Winwood, vol. i. p. 41.

*** Melvil, p. 166, 177.

He had fixed on the elder daughter of the king of Denmark, who, being a remote prince and not powerful, could give her no umbrage; yet did she so artfully cross this negotiation, that the Danish monarch, impatient of delay, married his daughter to the duke of Brunswick. James then renewed his suit to the younger princess, and still found obstacles from the intrigues of Elizabeth, who, merely with a view of interposing delay, proposed to him the sister of the king of Navarre, a princess much older than himself, and entirely destitute of fortune. The young king, besides the desire of securing himself, by the prospect of issue, from those traitorous attempts too frequent among his subjects had been so watched by the rigid austerity of the ecclesiastics, that he had another inducement to marry, which is not so usual with monarchs. His impatience, therefore, broke through all the politics of Elizabeth: the articles of marriage were settled; the ceremony was performed by proxy; and the princess embarked for Scotland; but was driven by a storm into a port of Norway. This tempest, and some others which happened near the same time, were universally believed in Scotland and Denmark to have proceeded from a combination of the Scottish and Danish witches; and the dying confession of the criminals was supposed to put the accusation beyond all controversy.[*] James, however, though a great believer in sorcery, was not deterred by this incident from taking a voyage in order to conduct his bride home: he arrived in Norway; carried the queen thence to Copenhagen: and having passed the winter in that city, he brought her next spring to Scotland, where they were joyfully received by the people. The clergy alone, who never neglected an opportunity of vexing their prince, made opposition to the queen's coronation, on account of the ceremony of anointing her, which, they alleged, was either a Jewish or a Popish rite, and therefore utterly antichristian and unlawful. But James was as much bent on the ceremony as they were averse to it: and after much controversy and many intrigues, his authority, which had not often happened, at last prevailed over their opposition.[**]

* Melvil, p. 180.

** Spotswood, p. 381.



{1590.} After a state of great anxiety and many difficulties, Elizabeth had at length reached a situation where, though her affairs still required attention, and found employment for her active spirit, she was removed from all danger of any immediate revolution, and might regard the efforts of her enemies with some degree of confidence and security. Her successful and prudent administration had gained her, together with the admiration of foreigners, the affections of her own subjects; and, after the death of the queen of Scots, even the Catholics, however discontented, pretended not to dispute her title, or adhere to any other person as her competitor. James, curbed by his factious nobility and ecclesiastics, possessed at home very little authority; and was solicitous to remain on good terms with Elizabeth and the English nation, in hopes that time, aided by his patient tranquillity, would secure him that rich succession to which his birth entitled him. The Hollanders, though overmatched in their contest with Spain, still made an obstinate resistance; and such was their unconquerable antipathy to their old masters, and such the prudent conduct of young Maurice, their governor, that the subduing of that small territory, if at all possible, must be the work of years, and the result of many and great successes. Philip, who, in his powerful effort against England, had been transported by resentment and ambition beyond his usual cautious maxims, was now disabled, and still more discouraged, from adventuring again on such hazardous enterprises. The situation also of affairs in France began chiefly to employ his attention; but notwithstanding all his artifice, and force, and expense, the events in that kingdom proved every day more contrary to his expectations, and more favorable to the friends and confederates of England.

The violence of the league having constrained Henry to declare war against the Hugonots, these religionists seemed exposed to the utmost danger; and Elizabeth sensible of the intimate connection between her own interests and those of that party, had supported the king of Navarre by her negotiations in Germany, and by large sums of money, which she remitted for levying forces in that country. This great prince, not discouraged by the superiority of his enemies, took the field; and in the year 1587 gained at Coutras a complete victory over the army of the French king; but as his allies, the Germans were at the same time discomfited by the army of the league, under the duke of Guise, his situation, notwithstanding his victory, seemed still as desperate as ever. The chief advantage which he reaped by this diversity of success, arose from the dissensions which by that means took place among his enemies. The inhabitants of Paris, intoxicated with admiration of Guise, and strongly prejudiced against their king, whose intentions had become suspicious to them, took to arms and obliged Henry to fly for his safety. That prince, dissembling his resentment, entered into a negotiation with the league; and having conferred many high offices on Guise and his partisans, summoned an assembly of the states at Blois, on pretence of finding expedients to support the intended war against the Hugonots. The various scenes of perfidy and cruelty which had been exhibited in France, had justly begotten a mutual diffidence among all parties; yet Guise, trusting more to the timidity than honor of the king, rashly put himself into the hands of that monarch, and expected, by the ascendant of his own genius, to make him submit to all his exorbitant pretensions. Henry, though of an easy disposition, not steady to his resolutions, or even to his promises, wanted neither courage nor capacity; and finding all his subtleties eluded by the vigor of Guise, and even his throne exposed to the most imminent danger, he embraced more violent counsels than were natural to him, and ordered that prince and his brother, the cardinal of Guise, to be assassinated in his palace.

This cruel execution, which the necessity of it alone could excuse, had nearly proved fatal to the author, and seemed at first to plunge him into greater dangers than those which he sought to avoid by taking vengeance on his enemy. The partisans of the league were inflamed with the utmost rage against him: the populace every where, particularly at Paris, renounced allegiance to him: the ecclesiastics and the preachers filled all places with execrations against his name: and the most powerful cities and most opulent provinces appeared to combine in a resolution, either of renouncing monarchy, or of changing their monarch. Henry, finding slender resource among his Catholic subjects, was constrained to enter into a confederacy with the Hugonots and the king of Navarre: he enlisted large bodies of Swiss infantry and German cavalry: and being still supported by his chief nobility, he assembled, by all these means, an army of near forty thousand men, and advanced to the gates of Paris, ready to crush the league, and subdue all his enemies. The desperate resolution of one man diverted the course of these great events. Jaques Clement, a Dominican friar, inflamed by that bloody spirit of bigotry which distinguishes this century and a great part of the following beyond all ages of the world, embraced the resolution of sacrificing his own life, in order to save the church from the persecutions of an heretical tyrant; and being admitted, under some pretext, to the king's presence, he gave that prince a mortal wound, and was immediately put to death by the courtiers, who hastily revenged the murder of their sovereign. This memorable incident happened on the first of August, 1589.

The king of Navarre, next heir to the crown, assumed the government, by the title of Henry IV.; but succeeded to much greater difficulties than those which surrounded his predecessor. The prejudices entertained against his religion, made a great part of the nobility immediately desert him; and it was only by his promise of hearkening to conferences and instruction, that he could engage any of the Catholics to adhere to his undoubted title. The league, governed by the duke of Mayenne, brother to Guise, gathered new force; and the king of Spain entertained views, either of dismembering the French monarchy, or of annexing the whole to his own dominions, In these distressful circumstances, Henry addressed himself to Elizabeth, and found her well disposed to contribute to his assistance, and to oppose the progress of the Catholic league, and of Philip, her inveterate and dangerous enemies. To prevent the desertion of his Swiss and German auxiliaries she made him a present of twenty-two thousand pounds: a greater sum than, as he declared, he had ever seen before: and she sent him a reenforcement of four thousand men, under Lord Willoughby, an officer of reputation, who joined the French at Dieppe. Strengthened by these supplies, Henry marched directly to Paris; and having taken the suburbs sword in hand, he abandoned them to be pillaged by his soldiers. He employed this body of English in many other enterprises; and still found reason to praise their courage and fidelity. The time of their service being elapsed, he dismissed them with many high commendations. Sir William Drury, Sir Thomas Baskerville, and Sir John Boroughs acquired reputation this campaign, and revived in France the ancient fame of English valor.

The army which Henry, next campaign, led into the field, was much inferior to that of the league; but as it was composed of the chief nobility of France, he feared not to encounter his enemies in a pitched battle at Yvree, and he gained a complete victory over them. This success enabled him to blockade Paris, and he reduced that capital to the last extremity of famine; when the duke of Parma, in consequence of orders from Philip, marched to the relief of the league, and obliged Henry to raise the blockade. Having performed this important service, he retreated to the Low Countries; and, by his consummate skill in the art of war, performed these long marches in the face of the enemy, without affording the French monarch that opportunity which he sought, of giving him battle, or so much as once putting his army in disorder. The only loss which he sustained was in the Low Countries, where Prince Maurice took advantage of his absence, and recovered some places which the duke of Parma had formerly conquered from the states.[*] [32]

* See note FF, at the end of the volume.

{1591.} The situation of Henry's affairs, though promising, was not so well advanced or established as to make the queen discontinue her succors; and she was still more confirmed in the resolution of supporting him, by some advantages gained by the king of Spain. The duke of Mercoeur, governor of Brittany, a prince of the house of Lorraine, had declared for the league; and finding himself hard pressed by Henry's forces, he had been obliged, in order to secure himself, to introduce some Spanish troops into the seaport towns of that province. Elizabeth was alarmed at the danger; and foresaw that the Spaniards, besides infesting the English commerce by privateers, might employ these harbors as the seat of their naval preparations, and might more easily, from that vicinity, than from Spain or Portugal, project an invasion of England. She concluded, therefore, a new treaty with Henry, in which she engaged to send over three thousand men to be employed in the reduction of Brittany; and she stipulated that her charges should, in a twelvemonth, or as soon as the enemy was expelled, be refunded her.[*] These forces were commanded by Sir John Norris, and under him by his brother Henry, and by Anthony Shirley. Sir Roger Williams was at the head of a small body which garrisoned Dieppe: and a squadron of ships, under the command of Sir Henry Palmer, lay upon the coast of France, and intercepted all the vessels belonging to the Spaniards or the leaguers.

The operations of war can very little be regulated beforehand by any treaty or agreement; and Henry, who found it necessary to lay aside the projected enterprise against Brittany, persuaded the English commanders to join his army, and to take a share in the hostilities which he carried into Picardy.[**] Notwithstanding the disgust which Elizabeth received from this disappointment, he laid before her a plan for expelling the leaguers from Normandy, and persuaded her to send over a new body of four thousand men, to assist him in that enterprise. The earl of Essex was appointed general of these forces; a young nobleman, who, by many exterior accomplishments, and still more real merit, was daily advancing in favor with Elizabeth, and seemed to occupy that place in her affections, which Leicester, now deceased, had so long enjoyed. Essex, impatient for military fame, was extremely uneasy to lie some time at Dieppe unemployed; and had not the orders which he received from his mistress been so positive, he would gladly have accepted of Henry's invitation, and have marched to join the French army now in Champagne. This plan of operations was also proposed to Elizabeth by the French ambassador, but she rejected it with great displeasure; and she threatened immediately to recall her troops, if Henry should persevere any longer in his present practice of breaking all concert with her, and attending to nothing but his own interests.[***]

* Camden, p. 561.

** Rymer, vol. xiv. p. 116.

*** Birch's Negotiations, p. 5. Rymer, tom. xiv. p. 123, 140.

Urged by these motives, the French king at last led his army into Normandy, and laid siege to Rouen, which he reduced to great difficulties. But the league, unable of themselves to take the field against him, had again recourse to the duke of Parma, who received orders to march to their relief. He executed this enterprise with his usual abilities and success; and for the present frustrated all the projects of Henry and Elizabeth. This princess, who kept still in view the interests of her own kingdom in all her foreign transactions, was impatient under these disappointments, blamed Henry for his negligence in the execution of treaties, and complained that the English forces were thrust foremost in every hazardous enterprise.[*] It is probable, however, that their own ardent courage, and their desire of distinguishing themselves in so celebrated a theatre of war, were the causes why they so often enjoyed this perilous honor.

Notwithstanding the indifferent success of former enterprises, the queen was sensible how necessary it was to support Henry against the league and the Spaniards; and she formed a new treaty with him, in which they agreed never to make peace with Philip but by common consent; she promised to send him a new supply of four thousand men; and he stipulated to repay her charges in a twelvemonth, to employ these forces, joined to a body of French troops, in an expedition against Brittany, and to consign into her hands a seaport town of that province, for a retreat to the English.[**] Henry knew the impossibility of executing some of these articles, and the imprudence of fulfilling others; but finding them rigidly insisted on by Elizabeth, he accepted of her succors, and trusted that he might easily, on some pretence, be able to excuse his failure in executing his part of the treaty. This campaign was the least successful of all those which he had yet carried on against the league.

During these military operations in France, Elizabeth employed her naval power against Philip, and endeavored to intercept his West Indian treasures, the source of that greatness which rendered him so formidable to all his neighbors. She sent a squadron of seven ships, under the command of Lord Thomas Howard, for this service; but the king of Spain, informed of her purpose, fitted out a great force of fifty-five sail, and despatched them to escort the Indian fleet. They fell in with the English squadron; and, by the courageous obstinacy of Sir Richard Greenville, the vice-admiral, who refused to make his escape by flight, they took one vessel, the first English ship of war that had yet fallen into the hands of the Spaniards.[***] [33]The rest of the squadron returned safely into England frustrated of their expectations, but pleasing themselves with the idea that their attempt had not been altogether fruitless in hurting the enemy.

* Camden, p. 562.

** Rymer, vol. xvi. p. 151, 168, 171, 173

*** See note GG, at the end of the volume.

The Indian fleet had been so long detained in the Havana from the fear of the English, that they were obliged at last to set sail in an improper season, and most of them perished by shipwreck ere they reached the Spanish harbors.[*] The earl of Cumberland made a like unsuccessful enterprise against the Spanish trade. He carried out one ship of the queen's, and seven others equipped at his own expense; but the prizes which he made did not compensate the charges.[**]

The spirit of these expensive and hazardous adventures was very prevalent in England. Sir Walter Raleigh, who had enjoyed great favor with the queen, finding his interest to decline, determined to recover her good graces by some important undertaking; and as his reputation was high among his countrymen, he persuaded great numbers to engage with him as volunteers in an attempt on the West Indies.

{1592.} The fleet was detained so long in the Channel by contrary winds, that the season was lost: Raleigh was recalled by the queen: Sir Martin Frobisher succeeded to the command, and made a privateering voyage against the Spaniards. He took one rich carrack near the Island of Flores, and destroyed another.[***] About the same time, Thomas White, a Londoner, took two Spanish ships, which, besides fourteen hundred chests of quicksilver, contained above two millions of bulls for indulgences; a commodity useless to the English, but which had cost the king of Spain three hundred thousand florins, and would have been sold by him in the Indies for five millions.

{1593.} This war did great damage to Spain; but it was attended with considerable expense to England; and Elizabeth's ministers computed, that since the commencement of it, she had spent in Flanders and France, and on her naval expeditions, above one million two hundred thousand pounds;[****] a charge which, notwithstanding her extreme frugality, was too burthensome for her narrow revenues to support.

* Monson, p. 163.

** Monson, p. 169.

*** Monson, p. 165. Camden, p 569.

**** Strype, vol. iii.

She summoned, therefore, a parliament, in order to obtain supply: but she either thought her authority so established that she needed to make them no concessions in return, or she rated her power and prerogative above money: for there never was any parliament whom she treated in a more haughty manner, whom she made more sensible of their own weakness, or whose privileges she more openly violated. When the speaker, Sir Edward Coke, made the three usual requests, of freedom from arrests, of access to her person, and of liberty of speech, she replied to him by the mouth of Puckering, lord keeper, that liberty of speech was granted to the commons, but they must know what liberty they were entitled to; not a liberty for every one to speak what he listeth, or what cometh in his brain to utter; their privilege extended no further than a liberty of "aye" or "no:" that she enjoined the speaker, if he perceived any idle heads so negligent of their own safety as to attempt reforming the church, or innovating in the commonwealth, that he should refuse the bills exhibited for that purpose, till they were examined by such as were fitter to consider of these things, and could better judge of them: that she would not impeach the freedom of their persons; but they must beware lest, under color of this privilege, they imagined that any neglect of their duty could be covered or protected: and that she would not refuse them access to her person, provided it were upon urgent and weighty causes, and at times convenient, and when she might have leisure from other important affairs of the realm.[*]

Notwithstanding the menacing and contemptuous air of this speech, the intrepid and indefatigable Peter Wentworth, not discouraged by his former ill success, ventured to transgress the imperial orders of Elizabeth. He presented to the lord keeper a petition, in which he desired the upper house to join with the lower in a supplication to her majesty for entailing the succession of the crown; and he declared that he had a bill ready prepared for that purpose. This method of proceeding was sufficiently respectful and cautious; but the subject was always extremely disagreeable to the queen, and what she had expressly prohibited any one from meddling with: she sent Wentworth immediately to the Tower; committed Sir Thomas Bromley, who had seconded him, to the Fleet prison, together with Stevens and Welsh, two members, to whom Sir Thomas had communicated his intention.[**]

* D'Ewes, p. 460, 469. Townsend, p.37.

** D'Ewes, p. 470. Townsend, p. 54.

About a fortnight after, a motion was made in the house to petition the queen for the release of these members; but it was answered by all the privy counsellors there present, that her majesty had committed them for causes best known to herself, and that to press her on that head would only tend to the prejudice of the gentlemen whom they meant to serve: she would release them whenever she thought proper, and would be better pleased to do it of her own proper motion, than from their suggestion.[*] The house willingly acquiesced in this reasoning.

So arbitrary an act, at the commencement of the session, might well repress all further attempts for freedom: but the religious zeal of the puritans was not so easily restrained; and it inspired a courage which no human motive was able to surmount. Morrice, chancellor of the duchy, and attorney, of the court of wards, made a motion for redressing the abuses in the bishops' courts, but above all, in the high commission; where subscriptions, he said, were exacted to articles at the pleasure of the prelates; where oaths were imposed, obliging persons to answer to all questions without distinction, even though they should tend to their own condemnation; and where every one who refused entire satisfaction to the commissioners was imprisoned, without relief or remedy.[**]

* D'Ewes, p. 497.

** D'Ewes, p. 474. Townsend, p. 60.

This motion was seconded by some members; but the ministers and privy counsellors opposed it, and foretold the consequences which ensued. The queen sent for the speaker, and after requiring him to deliver to her Morrice's bill, she told him, that it was in her power to call parliaments, in her power to dissolve them, in her power to give assent or dissent to any determination which they should form: that her purpose in summoning this parliament was twofold, to have laws enacted for the further enforcement of uniformity in religion, and to provide for the defence of the nation against the exorbitant power of Spain: that these two points ought, therefore, to be the object of their deliberations: she had enjoined them already, by the mouth of the lord keeper, to meddle neither with matters of state nor of religion; and she wondered how any one could be so assuming, as to attempt a subject so expressly contrary to her prohibition: that she was highly offended with this presumption; and took the present opportunity to reiterate the commands given by the keeper, and to require that no bill, regarding either state affairs or reformation in causes ecclesiastical, be exhibited in the house: and that in particular she charged the speaker upon his allegiance, if any such bills were offered, absolutely to refuse them a reading, and not so much as permit them to be debated by the members.[*] This command from the queen was submitted to without further question. Morrice was seized in the house itself by a serjeant-at-arms, discharged from his office of chancellor of the duchy, incapacitated from any practice in his profession as a common lawyer, and kept some years prisoner in Tilbury Castle.[**]

The queen having thus expressly pointed out both what the house should and should not do, the commons were as obsequious to the one as to the other of her injunctions. They passed a law against recusants; such a law as was suited to the severe character of Elizabeth, and to the persecuting spirit of the age. It was entitled, "An act to retain her majesty's subjects in their due obedience;" and was meant, as the preamble declares, to obviate such inconveniencies and perils as might grow from the wicked practices of seditious sectaries and disloyal persons: for these two species of criminals were always, at that time, confounded together, as equally dangerous to the peace of society. It was enacted, that any person, above sixteen years of age, who obstinately refused during the space of a month to attend public worship, should be committed to prison; that if, after being condemned for this offence, he persist three months in his refusal, he must abjure the realm; and that, if he either refuse this condition, or return after banishment, he should suffer capitally as a felon, without benefit of clergy.[***] This law bore equally hard upon the Puritans and upon the Catholics; and had it not been imposed by the queen's authority, was certainly, in that respect, much contrary to the private sentiments and inclinations of the majority in the house of commons. Very little opposition, however, appears there to have been openly made to it.[****]

* D'Ewes, p. 474, 478. Townsend, p. 68.

** Heylin's History of the Presbyterians, p. 320.

*** 35 Eliz. c. 1.

**** After enacting this statute, the clergy, in order to remove the odium from themselves, often took care that recusants should be tried by the civil judges at the assizes, rather than by the ecclesiastical commissioners. Strype's Ann. vol. iv p. 264.

The expenses of the war with Spain having reduced the queen to great difficulties, the grant of subsidies seems to have been the most important business of this parliament; and it was a signal proof of the high spirit of Elizabeth, that, while conscious of a present dependence on the commons, she opened the session with the most haughty treatment of them and covered her weakness under such a lofty appearance of superiority. The commons readily voted two subsidies and four fifteenths; but this sum not appearing sufficient to the court, an unusual expedient was fallen upon to induce them to make an enlargement in their concessions. The peers informed the commons in a conference, that they could not give their assent to the supply voted, thinking it too small for the queen's occasions: they therefore proposed a grant of three subsidies and six fifteenths; and desired a further conference, in order to persuade the commons to agree to this measure. The commons, who had acquired the privilege of beginning bills of subsidy, took offence at this procedure of the lords, and at first absolutely rejected the proposal: but being afraid, on reflection, that they had by this refusal given offence to their superiors, they both agreed to the conference, and afterwards voted the additional subsidy.[*]

The queen, notwithstanding this unusual concession of the commons, ended the session with a speech, containing some reprimands to them, and full of the same high pretensions which she had assumed at the opening of the parliament. She took notice, by the mouth of the keeper, that certain members spent more time than was necessary by indulging themselves in harangues and reasonings: and she expressed her displeasure on account of their not paying due reverence to privy counsellors, "who," she told them, "were not to be accounted as common knights and burgesses of the house, who are counsellors but during the parliament; whereas the others are standing counsellors, and for their wisdom and great service are called to the council of the state."[**]

* D'Ewes, p. 483, 487, 488. Townsend, p. 66.

** D'Ewes, p. 466. Townsend, p. 17

The queen also, in her own person, made the parliament a spirited harangue; in which she spoke of the justice and moderation of her government, expressed the small ambition she had ever entertained of making conquests, displayed the just grounds of her quarrel with the king of Spain, and discovered how little she apprehended the power of that monarch, even though he should make a greater effort against her than that of his Invincible Armada. "But I am informed," added she, "that when he attempted this last invasion, some upon the sea-coast forsook their towns, fled up higher into the country, and left all naked and exposed to his entrance: but I swear unto you by God, if I knew those persons, or may know of any that shall do so hereafter, I will make them feel what it is to be so fearful in so urgent a cause."[*] By this menace, she probably gave the people to understand, that she would execute martial law upon such cowards; for there was no statute by which a man could be punished for changing his place of abode.

* D'Ewes, p. 466. Townsend, p. 48.

The king of France, though he had hitherto made war on the league with great bravery and reputation, though he had this campaign gained considerable advantages over them, and though he was assisted by a considerable body of English under Norris, who carried hostilities into the heart of Brittany, was become sensible that he never could, by force of arms alone, render himself master of his kingdom. The nearer he seemed by his military successes to approach to a full possession of the throne, the more discontent and jealousy arose among those Romanists who adhered to him; and a party was formed in his own court to elect some Catholic monarch of the royal blood, if Henry should any longer refuse to satisfy them by declaring his conversion. This excellent prince was far from being a bigot to his sect; and as he deemed these theological disputes entirely subordinate to the public good, he had secretly determined, from the beginning, to come some time or other to the resolution required of him. He had found, on the death of his predecessor, that the Hugonots, who formed the bravest and most faithful part of his army, were such determined zealots, that if he had at that time abjured their faith, they would instantly have abandoned him to the pretensions and usurpations of the Catholics. The more bigoted Catholics, he knew, particularly those of the league, had entertained such an unsurmountable prejudice against his person, and diffidence of his sincerity, that even his abjuration would not reconcile them to his title; and he must either expect to be entirely excluded from the throne, or be admitted to it on such terms as would leave him little more than the mere shadow of royalty. In this delicate situation, he had resolved to temporize; to retain the Hugonots by continuing in the profession of their religion; to gain the moderate Catholics by giving them hopes of his conversion; to attach both to his person by conduct and success; and he hoped, either that the animosity arising from war against the league would make them drop gradually the question of religion, or that he might in time, after some victories over his enemies, and some conferences with divines, make finally, with more decency and dignity, that abjuration which must have appeared at first mean, as well as suspicious, to both parties.

When the people are attached to any theological tenets merely from a general persuasion or prepossession, they are easily induced, by any motive or authority, to change their faith in these mysterious subjects; as appears from the example of the English, who, during some reigns, usually embraced, without scruple, the still varying religion of their sovereigns. But the French nation, where principles had so long been displayed as the badges of faction, and where each party had fortified its belief by an animosity against the other, were not found so pliable or inconstant; and Henry was at last convinced that the Catholics of his party would entirely abandon him, if he gave them not immediate satisfaction in this particular. The Hugonots also, taught by experience, clearly saw that his desertion of them was become absolutely necessary for the public settlement; and so general was this persuasion among them, that, as the duke of Sully pretends, even the divines of that party purposely allowed themselves to be worsted in the disputes and conferences, that the king might more readily be convinced of the weakness of their cause, and might more cordially and sincerely, at least more decently, embrace the religion which it was so much his interest to believe. If this self-denial, in so tender a point, should appear incredible and supernatural in theologians, it will, at least, be thought very natural, that a prince so little instructed in these matters as Henry, and desirous to preserve his sincerity, should insensibly bend his opinion to the necessity of his affairs, and should believe that party to have the best arguments, who could alone put him in possession of a kingdom. All circumstances, therefore, being prepared for this great event, that monarch renounced the Protestant religion, and was solemnly received by the French prelates of his party into the bosom of the church.

Elizabeth, who was herself attached to the Protestants chiefly by her interests and the circumstances of her birth, and who seems to have entertained some propensity during her whole life to the Catholic superstition, at least to the ancient ceremonies, yet pretended to be extremely displeased with this abjuration of Henry; and she wrote him an angry letter, reproaching him with this interested change of his religion. Sensible however, that the league and the king of Spain were still their common enemies, she hearkened to his apologies; continued her succors both of men and money; and formed a new treaty, in which they mutually stipulated never to make peace but by common agreement.

The intrigues of Spain were not limited to France and England: by means of the never-failing pretence of religion, joined to the influence of money, Philip excited new disorders in Scotland, and gave fresh alarms to Elizabeth. George Ker, brother to Lord Newbottle, had been taken while he was passing secretly into Spain; and papers were found about him, by which a dangerous conspiracy of some Catholic noblemen with Philip was discovered. The earls of Angus, Errol, and Huntley, the heads of three potent families, had entered into a confederacy with the Spanish monarch; and had stipulated to raise all their forces; to join them to a body of Spanish troops which Philip promised to send into Scotland; and after reestablishing the Catholic religion in that kingdom, to march with their united power in order to effect the same purpose in England.[*] Graham of Fintry, who had also entered into this conspiracy, was taken, and arraigned, and executed. Elizabeth sent Lord Borough ambassador into Scotland, and exhorted the king to exercise the same severity on the three earls, to confiscate their estates, and by annexing them to the crown, both increase his own demesnes, and set an example to all his subjects of the dangers attending treason and rebellion. The advice was certainly rational, but not easy to be executed by the small revenue and limited authority of James. He desired, therefore, some supply from her of men and money; but though she had reason to deem the prosecution of the three Popish earls a common cause, she never could be prevailed on to grant him the least assistance. The tenth part of the expense which she bestowed in supporting the French king and the states, would have sufficed to execute this purpose, more immediately essential to her security;[**] but she seems ever to have borne some degree of malignity to James, whom she hated, both as her heir, and as the son of Mary, her hated rival and competitor.

* Spotswood, p. 391. Rymer, tom. xvi. p. 190.

** Spotswood, p. 393. Rymer, tom. xvi. p. 235

So far from giving James assistance to prosecute the Catholic conspirators, the queen rather contributed to increase his inquietude, by countenancing the turbulent disposition of the earl of Bothwell,[*] a nobleman descended from a natural son of James V. Both well more than once attempted to render himself master of the king's person; and being expelled the kingdom for these traitorous enterprises, he took shelter in England, was secretly protected, by the queen, and lurked near the borders, where his power lay, with a view of still committing some new violence. He succeeded at last in an attempt on the king; and by the mediation of the English ambassador, imposed dishonorable terms upon that prince: but James, by the authority of the convention of states, annulled this agreement as extorted by violence, again expelled Bothwell, and obliged him to take shelter in England. Elizabeth, pretending ignorance of the place of his retreat, never executed the treaties, by which she was bound to deliver up all rebels and fugitives to the king of Scotland.

* Spotswood, p. 257, 258.

{1594.} During these disorders, increased by the refractory disposition of the ecclesiastics, the prosecution of the Catholic earls remained in suspense; but at last the parliament passed an act of attainder against them, and the king prepared himself to execute it by force of arms. The noblemen, though they obtained a victory over the earl of Argyle, who acted by the king's commission found themselves hard pressed by James himself, and agreed on certain terms to leave the kingdom. Bothwell, being defected in a confederacy with them, forfeited the favor of Elizabeth, and was obliged to take shelter, first in France, then in Italy, where he died some years after in great poverty.

The established authority of the queen secured her from all such attempts as James was exposed to from the mutinous disposition of his subjects; and her enemies found no other means of giving her domestic disturbance, than by such traitorous and perfidious machinations as ended in their own disgrace, and in the ruin of their criminal instruments. Roderigo Lopez, a Jew, domestic physician to the queen, being imprisoned on suspicion, confessed that he had received a bribe to poison her from Fuentes and Ibarra, who had succeeded Parma, lately deceased, in the government of the Netherlands; but he maintained, that he had no other intention than to cheat Philip of his money, and never meant to fulfil his engagement. He was, however, executed for the conspiracy; and the queen complained to Philip of these dishonorable attempts of his ministers, but could obtain no satisfaction.[*] York and Williams, two English traitors, were afterwards executed for a conspiracy with Ibarra, equally atrocious.[**]

Instead of avenging herself by retaliating in a like manner, Elizabeth sought a more honorable vengeance, by supporting the king of France, and assisting him in finally breaking the force of the league, which, after the conversion of that monarch, went daily to decay, and was threatened with speedy ruin and dissolution. Norris commanded the English forces in Brittany, and assisted at the taking of Morlaix, Quimpercorentin, and Brest, towns garrisoned by Spanish forces. In every action, the English, though they had so long enjoyed domestic peace, discovered a strong military disposition; and the queen, though herself a heroine, found more frequent occasion to reprove her generals for encouraging their temerity, than for countenancing their fear or caution:[***] Sir Martin Frobisher, her brave admiral, perished, with many others, before Brest. Morlaix had been promised to the English for a place of retreat; but the duke d'Aumont, the French general, eluded this promise, by making it be inserted in the capitulation that none but Catholics should be admitted into that city.

* Camden, p. 577. Birch's Negot. p. 15. Bacon, vol. iv. p. 381.

** Camden, p. 582.

*** Camden, p. 578.

Next campaign, the French king, who had long carried on hostilities with Philip, was at last provoked, by the taking of Chatelet and Dourlens, and the attack of Cambray, to declare war against that monarch. Elizabeth, being threatened with a new invasion in England, and with an insurrection in Ireland, recalled most of her forces, and sent Norris to command in this latter kingdom. Finding also that the French league was almost entirely dissolved, and that the most considerable leaders had made an accommodation with their prince, she thought that he could well support himself by his own force and valor; and she began to be more sparing in his cause of the blood and treasure of her subjects.

Some disgusts which she had received from the states, joined to the remonstrances of her frugal minister, Burleigh, made her also inclined to diminish her charges on that side, and she even demanded by her ambassador, Sir Thomas Bodley, to be reimbursed all the money which she had expended in supporting them. The states, besides alleging the conditions of the treaty, by which they were not bound to repay her till the conclusion of a peace, pleaded their present poverty and distress, the great superiority of the Spaniards, and the difficulty in supporting the war; much more in saving money to discharge their encumbrances. {1595.} After much negotiation, a new treaty was formed, by which the states engaged to free the queen immediately from the charge of the English auxiliaries, computed at forty thousand pounds a year; to pay her annually twenty thousand pounds for some years; to assist her with a certain number of ships; and to conclude no peace or treaty without her consent. They also bound themselves, on finishing a peace with Spain, to pay her annually the sum of a hundred thousand pounds for four years; but on this condition, that the payment should be in lieu of all demands, and that they should be supplied, though at their own charge, with a body of four thousand auxiliaries from England.[*]

Camden, p. 586.

{1596.} The queen still retained in her hands the cautionary towns, which were a great check on the rising power of the states; and she committed the important trust of Flushing to Sir Francis Vere, a brave officer, who had distinguished himself by his valor in the Low Countries. She gave him the preference to Essex, who expected so honorable a command; and though this nobleman was daily rising, both in reputation with the people, and favor with herself, the queen, who was commonly reserved in the advancement of her courtiers, thought proper on this occasion to give him a refusal. Sir Thomas Baskerville was sent over to France at the head of two thousand English, with which Elizabeth, by a new treaty concluded with Henry, engaged to supply that prince. Some stipulations for mutual assistance were formed by the treaty; and all former engagements were renewed.

{1597.} This body of English were maintained at the expense of the French king; yet did Henry esteem the supply of considerable advantage, on account of the great reputation acquired by the English, in so many fortunate enterprises undertaken against the common enemy. In the great battle of Tournholt, gained this campaign by Prince Maurice, the English auxiliaries under Sir Francis Vere and Sir Robert Sidney had acquired honor; and the success of that day was universally ascribed to their discipline and valor.

Though Elizabeth, at a considerable expense of blood and treasure, made war against Philip in France and the Low Countries, the most severe blows which she gave him, were by those naval enterprises which either she or her subjects scarcely ever intermitted during one season. In 1594, Richard Hawkins, son of Sir John, the famous navigator, procured the queen's commission, and sailed with three ships to the South Sea by the Straits of Magellan; but his voyage proved unfortunate, and he himself was taken prisoner on the coast of Chili. James Lancaster was supplied the same year with three ships and a pinnace by the merchants of London, and was more fortunate in his adventure. He took thirty-nine ships of the enemy; and not content with this success, he made an attack on Fernambouc, in Brazil, where he knew great treasures were at that time lodged. As he approached the shore, he saw it lined with great numbers of the enemy; but nowise daunted at this appearance, he placed the stoutest of his men in boats, and ordered them to row with such violence on the landing-place as to split them in pieces. By this bold action he both deprived his men of all resource but in victory, and terrified the enemy, who fled after a short resistance. He returned home with the treasure which he had so bravely acquired. In 1595, Sir Walter Raleigh, who had anew forfeited the queen's friendship by an intrigue with a maid of honor, and who had been thrown into prison for this misdemeanor, no sooner recovered his liberty, than he was pushed by his active and enterprising genius to attempt some great action. The success of the first Spanish adventurers against Mexico and Peru had begotten an extreme avidity in Europe; and a prepossession universally took place, that in the inland parts of South America, called Guiana, a country as yet undiscovered, there were mines and treasures far exceeding any which Cortes or Pizarro had met with. Raleigh, whose turn of mind was somewhat romantic and extravagant, undertook at his own charge the discovery of this wonderful country. Having taken the small town of St. Joseph, in the Isle of Trinidado, where he found no riches, he left his ship, and sailed up the River Oroonoko in pinnaces, but without meeting any thing to answer his expectations. On his return, he published an account of the country, full of the grossest and most palpable lies that were ever attempted to be imposed on the credulity of mankind.[*]

The same year, Sir Francis Drake and Sir John Hawkins undertook a more important expedition against the Spanish settlements in America; and they carried with them six ships of the queen's and twenty more, which either were fitted out at their own charge, or were furnished them by private adventurers. Sir Thomas Baskerville was appointed commander of the land forces which they carried on board. Their first design was to attempt Porto Rico, where, they knew, a rich carrack was at that time stationed; but as they had not preserved the requisite secrecy, a pinnace, having strayed from the fleet, was taken by the Spaniards, and betrayed the intentions of the English. Preparations were made in that island for their reception; and the English fleet, notwithstanding the brave assault which they made on the enemy, was repulsed with loss. Hawkins soon after died, and Drake pursued his voyage to Nombre di Dios, on the Isthmus of Darien; where, having landed his men, he attempted to pass forward to Panama, with a view of plundering that place, or, if he found such a scheme practicable, of keeping and fortifying it. But he met not with the same facility which had attended his first enterprises in those parts. The Spaniards, taught by experience, had every where fortified the passes, and had stationed troops in the woods, who so infested the English by continual alarms and skirmishes, that they were obliged to return, without being able to effect any thing. Drake himself, from the intemperance of the climate, the fatigues of his journey, and the vexation of his disappointment, was seized with a distemper of which he soon after died. Sir Thomas Baskerville took the command of the fleet, which was in a weak condition; and after having fought a battle near Cuba with a Spanish fleet, of which the event was not decisive, he returned to England. The Spaniards suffered some loss from this enterprise but the English reaped no profit.[**]

* Camden, p. 584

** Monson, p, 167.

The bad success of this enterprise in the Indies made the English rather attempt the Spanish dominions in Europe, where they heard Philip was making great preparations for a new invasion of England. A powerful fleet was equipped at Plymouth, consisting of a hundred and seventy vessels, seventeen of which were capital ships of war, the rest tenders and small vessels: twenty ships were added by the Hollanders. In this fleet there were computed to be embarked six thousand three hundred and sixty soldiers, a thousand volunteers, and six thousand seven hundred and seventy-two seamen besides the Dutch. The land forces were commanded by the earl of Essex; the navy by Lord Effingham, high admiral. Both these commanders had expended great sums of their own in the armament; for such was the spirit of Elizabeth's reign. Lord Thomas Howard, Sir Walter Raleigh, Sir Francis Vere, Sir George Carew, and Sir Coniers Clifford had commands in this expedition, and were appointed council to the general and admiral.[*]

The fleet set sail on the first of June, 1596; and meeting with a fair wind, bent its course to Cadiz, at which place, by sealed orders delivered to all the captains, the general rendezvous was appointed. They sent before them some armed tenders, which intercepted every ship that could carry intelligence to the enemy; and they themselves were so fortunate, when they came near Cadiz, as to take an Irish vessel, by which they learned that that port was full of merchant ships of great value, and that the Spaniards lived in perfect security without any apprehensions of an enemy. This intelligence much encouraged the English fleet, and gave them the prospect of a fortunate issue to the enterprise.

After a fruitless attempt to land at St. Sebastian's, on the western side of the Island of Cadiz, it was, upon deliberation, resolved by the council of war to attack the ships and galleys in the bay. This attempt was deemed rash; and the admiral himself, who was cautious in his temper, had entertained great scruples with regard to it: but Essex strenuously recommended the enterprise; and when he found the resolution at last taken, he threw his hat into the sea, and gave symptoms of the most extravagant joy. He felt, however, a great mortification, when Effingham informed him, that the queen, anxious for his safety, and dreading the effects of his youthful ardor, had secretly given orders that he should not be permitted to command the van in the attack.[**]

* Camden, p. 591.

** Monson, p. 196

That duty was performed by Sir Walter Raleigh and Lord Thomas Howard; but Essex no sooner came within reach of the enemy, than he forgot the promise which the admiral had exacted from him, to keep in the midst of the fleet; he broke through and pressed forward into the thickest of the fire. Emulation for glory, avidity of plunder, animosity against the Spaniards, proved incentives to every one; and the enemy was soon obliged to slip anchor, and retreat farther into the bay, where they ran many of their ships aground. Essex then landed his men at the fort of Puntal, and immediately marched to the attack of Cadiz, which the impetuous valor of the English soon carried sword in hand. The generosity of Essex, not inferior to his valor, made him stop the slaughter, and treat his prisoners with the greatest humanity, and even affability and kindness. The English made rich plunder in the city; but missed of a much richer by the resolution which the duke of Medina, the Spanish admiral, took of setting fire to the ships, in order to prevent their falling into the hands of the enemy. It was computed, that the loss which the Spaniards sustained in this enterprise amounted to twenty millions of ducats;[*] besides the indignity which that proud and ambitious people suffered from the sacking of one of their chief cities, and destroying in their harbor a fleet of such force and value.

Essex, all on fire for glory, regarded this great success only as a step to future achievements: he insisted on keeping possession of Cadiz; and he undertook, with four hundred men and three months' provisions, to defend the place, till succors should arrive from England; but all the other seamen and soldiers were satisfied with the honor which they had acquired; and were impatient to return home, in order to secure their plunder. Every other proposal of Essex to annoy the enemy met with a like reception; his scheme for intercepting the carracks at the Azores, for assaulting the Groine, for taking St. Andero and St. Sebastian; and the English, finding it so difficult to drag this impatient warrior from the enemy, at last left him on the Spanish coast, attended by very few ships[**] He complained much to the queen of their want of spirit in this enterprise; nor was she pleased, that they had returned without attempting to intercept the Indian fleet;[**] but the great success, in the enterprise on Cadiz, had covered all their miscarriages: and that princess, though she admired the lofty genius of Essex, could not forbear expressing an esteem for the other officers.[***] The admiral was created earl of Nottingham; and his promotion gave great disgust to Essex.[****]

* Birch's Memoirs, vol. ii. p. 97.

** Birch's Memoirs, vol. ii. p. 121.

*** Camden, p. 593.

**** Sidney Papers, vol. ii. p. 77.

In the preamble of the patent it was said, that the new dignity was conferred on him on account of his good services in taking Cadiz, and destroying the Spanish ships; a merit which Essex pretended to belong solely to himself: and he offered to maintain this plea by single combat against the earl of Nottingham, or his sons, or any of his kindred.

The achievements in the subsequent year proved not so fortunate; but as the Indian fleet very narrowly escaped the English, Philip had still reason to see the great hazard and disadvantage of that war in which he was engaged, and the superiority which the English, by their naval power and their situation, had acquired over him. The queen, having received intelligence that the Spaniards, though their fleets were so much shattered and destroyed by the expedition to Cadiz, were preparing a squadron at Ferrol and the Groine, and were marching troops thither, with a view of making a descent in Ireland, was resolved to prevent their enterprise, and to destroy the shipping in these harbors. She prepared a large fleet of a hundred and twenty sail, of which seventeen were her own ships, forty-three were smaller vessels, and the rest tenders and victuallers: she embarked on board this fleet five thousand new-levied soldiers, and added a thousand veteran troops, whom Sir Francis Vere brought from the Netherlands. The earl of Essex, commander-in-chief both of the land and sea forces, was at the head of one squadron; Lord Thomas Howard was appointed vice-admiral of another; Sir Walter Raleigh of the third: Lord Mouatjoy commanded the land forces under Essex: Vere was appointed marshal: Sir George Carew lieutenant of the ordnance, and Sir Christopher Blount first colonel. The earls of Rutland and Southampton, the Lords Grey, Cromwell, and Rich, with several other persona of distinction, embarked as volunteers. Essex declared his resolution either to destroy the new armada which threatened England, or to perish in the attempt.

This powerful fleet set sail from Plymouth; but were no sooner out of harbor than they met with a furious storm, which shattered and dispersed them; and before they could be refitted, Essex found that their provisions were so far spent, that it would not be safe to carry so numerous an army along with him. He dismissed, therefore, all the soldiers, except the thousand veterans under Vere; and laying aside all thoughts of attacking Ferrol or the Groine, he confined the object of his expedition to the intercepting of the Indian fleet which had at first been considered only as the second enterprise which he was to attempt.

The Indian fleet in that age, by reason of the imperfection of navigation, had a stated course, as well as season, both in their going out and in their return; and there were certain islands at which, as at fixed stages, they always touched, and where they took in water and provisions. The Azores being one of these places where about this time the fleet was expected, Essex bent his course thither; and he informed Raleigh, that he, on his arrival, intended to attack Fayal, one of these islands. By some accident, the squadrons were separated; and Raleigh, arriving first before Fayal, thought it more prudent, after waiting some time for the general, to begin the attack alone, lest the inhabitants should, by further delay, have leisure to make preparations for their defence. He succeeded in the enterprise; but Essex, jealous of Raleigh, expressed great displeasure at his conduct, and construed it as an intention of robbing the general of the glory which attended that action: he cashiered, therefore, Sidney, Bret, Berry, and others, who had concurred in the attempt: and would have proceeded to inflict the same punishment on Raleigh himself, had not Lord Thomas Howard interposed with his good offices, and persuaded Raleigh, though high-spirited, to make submissions to the general. Essex, who was placable, as well as hasty and passionate, was soon appeased, and both received Raleigh into favor, and restored the other officers to then commands.[*] This incident, however, though the quarrel was seemingly accommodated, laid the first foundation of that violent animosity which afterwards took place between these two gallant commanders.

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