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Title: Queen Elizabeth
Author: Beesly, Edward Spencer
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Queen Elizabeth" ***

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                       Twelve English Statesmen

                            QUEEN ELIZABETH

                       [Illustration: colophon]

                            QUEEN ELIZABETH


                         EDWARD SPENCER BEESLY

    _Sine ira et studio, quorum causas procul habeo._
           TACITUS, Ann. I. 1.

                      MACMILLAN AND CO., LIMITED

                         _All rights reserved_


          REPRINTED MARCH 1892; 1895; 1897; 1900; 1903; 1906.




EARLY LIFE, 1533-1558                                                  1


THE CHANGE OF RELIGION, 1559                                           6


FOREIGN RELATIONS, 1559-1563                                          18


ELIZABETH AND MARY STUART, 1559-1568                                  38


ARISTOCRATIC PLOTS, 1568-1572                                         78


FOREIGN AFFAIRS, 1572-1583                                           101


THE PAPAL ATTACK, 1570-1583                                          128


PROTECTORATE OF THE NETHERLANDS, 1584-1586                           156


EXECUTION OF THE QUEEN OF SCOTS: 1584-1587                           174


WAR WITH SPAIN, 1587-1603                                            188


DOMESTIC AFFAIRS, 1588-1601                                          211


LAST YEARS AND DEATH, 1601-1603                                      230




C.--PRINCIPAL BOLEYN RELATIONS OF ELIZABETH                          245


EARLY LIFE: 1533-1558

I have to deal, under strict limitations of space, with a long life,
almost the whole of its adult period passed in the exercise of
sovereignty--a life which is in effect the history of England during
forty-five years, abounding at the same time in personal interest, and
the subject, both in its public and private aspects, of fierce and
probably interminable controversies. Evidently a bird’s-eye view is all
that can be attempted: and the most important episodes alone can be
selected for consideration.

The daughter of Henry VIII. and Anne Boleyn was born on September 6,
1533. Anne was niece of Thomas, third Duke of Norfolk, and all the great
Howard kinsmen attended at the baptism four days afterwards. Elizabeth
was two years and eight months old when her mother was beheaded, and she
herself was declared illegitimate by Act of Parliament. It is not
recorded that in after years she expressed any opinion about her mother
or ever mentioned her name. She never took any steps to get the Act of
attainder repealed; but perhaps she indirectly showed her belief in
Anne’s innocence by raising the son of Norris, her alleged paramour, to
the peerage, and by the great favour she always showed to his family.

During her father’s life Elizabeth lived chiefly at Hatfield with her
brother Edward, under a governess. Henry had been empowered by
Parliament in 1536 to settle the succession by his will. In 1544 he
caused an Act to be passed placing Mary and Elizabeth next in order of
succession after Edward. By his will, made a few days before his death,
he repeated the provisions of the Act of 1544, and placed next to
Elizabeth the daughters of his younger sister, the Duchess of Suffolk,
tacitly passing over his elder sister, the Queen of Scotland.

After her father’s death (Jan. 1547) Elizabeth, then a girl of thirteen,
went to reside with the Queen Dowager Catherine, who had not been many
weeks a widow before she married her old lover Thomas Seymour, the Lord
Admiral, brother of the Protector Somerset, described as “fierce in
courage, courtly in fashion, in personage stately, in voice magnificent,
but somewhat empty of matter.” The romping that soon began to go on
between this dangerous man and Elizabeth was of such a nature that early
in the next year Catherine found it necessary to send her away somewhat
abruptly. From that time she resided chiefly at Hatfield.

In August 1548 Catherine died, and the Admiral at once formed the
project of marrying Elizabeth. This and other ambitious designs brought
him to the scaffold (March 1549). It does not appear that Elizabeth saw
or directly corresponded with him after he was a widower. But she
listened to his messages, and dropped remarks of an encouraging kind
which she meant to be repeated to him. She knew perfectly well that the
marriage would not be permitted. She was only flirting with a man old
enough to be her father just as she afterwards flirted with men young
enough to be her sons. We already get a glimpse of the utter absence
both of delicacy and depth of feeling which characterised her through
life. When she heard of the Admiral’s execution she simply remarked,
“This day died a man with much wit and very little judgment.” With
Elizabeth the heart never really spoke, and if the senses did, she had
them under perfect control. And this was why she never loved or was
loved, and never has been or will be regarded with enthusiasm by either
man or woman. For some time after this scandal she was evidently
somewhat under a cloud. She lived at her manor-houses of Ashridge,
Enfield, and Hatfield, diligently pursuing her studies under the
celebrated scholar Ascham.

When Edward died (July 6, 1553) Elizabeth was nearly twenty. Although
Mary’s cause was her own, she remained carefully neutral during the
short queenship of Jane. On its collapse she hastened to congratulate
her sister, and rode by her side when she made her entry into London.
During the early part of Mary’s reign her life hung by a thread. The
slightest indiscretion would have been fatal to her. Wyatt’s
insurrection was made avowedly in her favour. But neither to that nor
any other conspiracy did she extend the smallest encouragement. Her
prudent and blameless conduct gave her the more right in after years to
deal severely with Mary Stuart, whose behaviour under precisely similar
circumstances was so very different.

Renard, the Spanish ambassador, demanded her execution as the condition
of the Spanish match, and Mary assured him that she would do her best to
satisfy him. In the time of Henry VIII. such an intention on the part of
the sovereign would have been equivalent to a sentence of death. But
Mary was far from being as powerful as her father. The Council had to be
reckoned with, and in the Council independent and even peremptory
language was now to be heard. It was not without strong protests on the
part of some of the Lords that Elizabeth was sent to the Tower. Sussex,
a noble of the old blood, who was charged to conduct her there, took
upon him to delay her departure, that she might appeal to the Queen for
an interview. Mary was furious: “For their lives,” she said, “they durst
not have acted so in her father’s time; she wished he was alive and
among them for a single month.” But it was useless to storm. The
absolute monarchy had seen its best days. Sussex, fearing foul play,
warned the Lieutenant of the Tower to keep within his written
instructions. Howard of Effingham, the Lord Admiral, had done more than
any one else to place Mary on the throne. But he was Elizabeth’s
great-uncle, and he angrily insisted that her food in the Tower should
be prepared by her own servants. A proposal in Parliament to give the
Queen the power to nominate a successor was received with such disfavour
that it had to be withdrawn. Finally the judges declared that there was
no evidence to convict Elizabeth. Sullenly therefore the Queen had to
give way. Elizabeth was sent to Woodstock, where she resided for about
a year under guard. This was only reasonable. An heir to the throne, in
whose favour there had been plots, could not expect complete freedom. In
October 1555 she was allowed to go to Hatfield under the surveillance of
Sir Thomas Pope. During the rest of the reign she escaped molestation by
outward conformity to the Catholic religion, and by taking no part
whatever in politics. But as it became clear that her accession was at
hand there can be no doubt that she was engaged in studying the problems
with which she would have to deal. She was already in close intimacy
with Cecil, and it is evident that she mounted the throne with a policy
carefully thought out in its main lines.

When Mary was known to be dying, the Spanish ambassador, Feria, called
on Elizabeth, and told her that his master had exerted his influence
with the Queen and Council on her behalf, and had secured her
succession. But she declined to be patronised, and told him that the
people and nobility were on her side.



Mary died on the 17th of November 1558. Parliament was then sitting,
and, in communicating the event to both Houses, Archbishop Heath frankly
took the initiative in recognising Elizabeth, “of whose most lawful
right and title in the succession of the Crown, thanks be to God, we
need not to doubt.” He was a staunch Catholic, and two months later
refused to officiate at her coronation. But he was an Englishman, and
even the most convinced Catholics, though looking forward with
uneasiness to the religious policy of the new Queen, were sincerely glad
that there was no danger of a disputed succession. Besides, it was by no
means clear that Elizabeth would not accept the ecclesiastical
constitution as established in the late reign. That there would be an
end of burnings, and of the harassing tyranny of the bishops, every one
felt certain; but it seemed quite upon the cards that Elizabeth would
continue to recognise the headship of the Pope in a formal way and
maintain the Mass. It must be remembered that the religious changes had
only begun some thirty years before. All middle-aged men could remember
the time when the ecclesiastical fabric stood to all appearance
unbroken, as it had stood for centuries. Only twenty-four years had
passed since the Act of Supremacy had transferred the headship of the
Church from the Pope to the King; only eleven since the Protestant
doctrine and worship had been forced on the country by the Protector
Somerset, to the horror and disgust of the great majority of Englishmen.
The nation had sorrowed for the death of Edward VI., because it darkened
the prospects of the succession, and seemed likely sooner or later to
bring on a civil war. But apart from the hot Protestant minority,
chiefly to be found in London, the mass of the nation was conservative,
and welcomed the re-establishment of the old religion as a return to
order and common sense after a short and bitter experience of
revolutionary anarchy. There was a rooted objection to restore the old
meddlesome tyranny of the bishops, and the nobles and squires who had
got hold of the abbey lands would not hear of giving them up. But the
return to communion with the Catholic Church and the recognition of the
Pope as its head gave satisfaction to three-fourths, perhaps to
five-sixths, of the nation, and to a still larger proportion of its most
influential class, the great landed proprietors. Mary’s accession was
the great and unique opportunity for the old Church. If Mary and Pole
had been cool-headed politicians instead of excitable fanatics, if they
had contented themselves with restoring the old worship, depriving the
few Protestant clergy of their benefices, and punishing only outrageous
attacks on the State religion, Elizabeth would not have had the power,
it may be doubted whether she would have had the inclination, to undo
her sister’s work.

This great opportunity was thrown away. Mary’s bishops came back
brooding over the long catalogue of humiliations and indignities which
their Church had suffered, and thirsting to avenge their own wrongs. For
six years they had their fling, and contrived to make the country forget
the period of Protestant mis-government. England had never before known
what it was to be governed by clergymen. It was a sort of rule as
hateful to most Catholic laymen as to Protestants. Catholics therefore
for the most part, as well as Protestants, hailed the accession of
Elizabeth. At any rate there would be an end of the clerical tyranny.
Nor were they without hope that she would maintain the old worship. She
had conformed to it for the last five years, and Philip had given the
word that she was to be supported.

We are now accustomed to the Papal _non possumus_. No nation or Church
can hope that the smallest deviation from Roman doctrine or discipline
will be tolerated. But in 1558 the hard and fast line had not yet been
drawn. France was still pressing for such changes as communion in both
kinds, worship in the vulgar tongue, and marriage of priests. The
Council of Trent, it is true, had already in 1545 decided that Catholic
doctrine was contained in the Bible _and tradition_, and in 1551 had
defined transubstantiation and the sacraments. But in 1552 the Council
was prorogued, and it did not resume till 1562. Doctrine and discipline
therefore might be, and were still considered to be, in the melting-pot,
and no one could be certain what would come out. If Elizabeth had
contented herself with the French programme, and had joined France in
pressing it, the other sovereigns, who really cared for nothing but
uniformity, would probably have forced the Pope to compromise. The
Lutheran doctrine of consubstantiation might have been tolerated. The
Anglican formulæ have been held by many to be compatible with a belief
in the Real Presence. The formal severance of England from Catholic
unity might thus have been postponed--possibly avoided--in the same
sense that it has been avoided in France. After the completion of the
Council of Trent (1562-3) it was too late.

Two years after her accession Elizabeth told the Spanish ambassador, De
Quadra, that her belief was the belief of all the Catholics in the
realm; and on his asking her how then she could have altered religion in
1559, she said she had been compelled to act as she did, and that, if he
knew how she had been driven to it, she was sure he would excuse her.
Seven years later she made the same statement to De Silva. Elizabeth was
habitually so regardless of truth that her assertions can be allowed
little weight when they are improbable. No doubt, as a matter of taste
and feeling, she preferred the Catholic worship. She was not pious. She
was not troubled with a tender conscience or tormented by a sense of
sin. She did not care to cultivate close personal relations with her
God. A religion of form and ceremony suited her better. But her training
had been such as to free her from all superstitious fear or prejudice,
and her religious convictions were determined by her sense of what was
most reasonable and convenient. There is not the least evidence that she
was a reluctant agent in the adoption of Protestantism in 1559. Who was
there to coerce her? The Protestants could not have set up a Protestant
competitor. The great nobles, though opposed to persecution and desirous
of minimising the Pope’s authority, would have preferred to leave
worship as it was. But upon one thing Elizabeth was determined. She
would resume the full ecclesiastical supremacy which her father had
annexed to the Crown. She judged, and she probably judged rightly, that
the only way to assure this was to make the breach with the old religion
complete. If she had placed herself in the hands of moderate Catholics
like Paget, possessed with the belief that she could only maintain
herself by the protection of Philip, they would have advised her to be
content with the practical authority over the English Church which many
an English king had known how to exercise. That was not enough for her.
She desired a position free from all ambiguity and possibility of
dispute, not one which would have to be defended with constant vigilance
and at the cost of incessant bickering.

From the point of view of her foreign relations the moment might seem to
be a dangerous one for carrying out a religious revolution, and many a
statesman with a deserved reputation for prudence would have counselled
delay. But this disadvantage was more than counterbalanced by the
unpopularity which the cruelties and disasters of Mary’s last three
years had brought upon the most active Catholics. Again, Elizabeth no
doubt recognised that the Catholics, though at present the strongest,
were the declining party. The future was with the Protestants. It was
the young men who had fixed their hopes upon her in her sister’s time,
and who were ready to rally round her now. By her natural disposition,
and by her culture, she belonged to the Renaissance rather than to the
Reformation. But obscurantist as Calvinism essentially was, the
Calvinists, as a minority struggling for freedom to think and teach what
they believed, represented for a time the cause of light and
intellectual emancipation. Was she to put herself at the head of
reaction or progress? She did not love the Calvinists. They were too
much in earnest for her. Their narrow creed was as tainted with
superstition as that of Rome, and, at bottom, was less humane, less
favourable to progress. But whom else had she to work with? The
reasonable, secular-minded, tolerant sceptics are not always the best
fighting material; and at that time they were few in number and
tending--in England at least--to be ground out of existence between the
upper and nether millstones of the rival fanaticisms. If she broke with
Catholicism she would be sure of the ardent and unwavering support of
one-third of the nation; so sure, that she would have no need to take
any further pains to please them. As for the remaining two-thirds, she
hoped to conciliate most of them by posing as their protector against
the persecution which would have been pleasing to Protestant bigots.

In the policy of a complete breach with Rome, Cecil was disposed to go
as far as the Queen, and further. Cecil was at this time thirty-eight.
For forty years he continued to be the confidential and faithful
servant of Elizabeth. One of those new men whom the Tudors most
trusted, he was first employed by Henry VIII. Under Edward he rose to be
Secretary of State, and was a pronounced Protestant. On the fall of his
patron Somerset he was for a short time sent to the Tower, but was soon
in office again--sooner, some thought, than was quite decent--under his
patron’s old enemy, Northumberland. He signed the letters-patent by
which the crown was conferred on Lady Jane Grey; but took an early
opportunity of going over to Mary. During her reign he conformed to the
old religion, and, though not holding any office, was consulted on
public business, and was one of the three commissioners who went to
fetch Cardinal Pole to England. Thoroughly capable in business, one of
those to whom power naturally falls because they know how to use it, a
shrewd balancer of probabilities, without a particle of fanaticism in
his composition and detesting it in others, though ready to make use of
it to serve his ends, entirely believing that “what-e’er is best
administered is best,” Cecil nevertheless had his religious
predilections, and they were all on the side of the Protestants.
Moreover he had a personal motive which, by the nature of the case, was
not present to the Queen. She might die prematurely; and if that event
should take place before the Protestant ascendancy was firmly
established his power would be at an end, and his very life would be in
danger. A time came when he and his party had so strengthened
themselves, if not in absolute numerical superiority, yet by the hold
they had established on all departments of Government from the highest
to the lowest, that they were in a condition to resist a Catholic
claimant to the throne, if need were, sword in hand. But during the
early years of the reign Cecil was working with the rope round his neck.
Hence he could not regard the progress of events with the imperturbable
_sang-froid_ which Elizabeth always displayed; and all his influence was
employed to push the religious revolution through as rapidly and
completely as possible.

The story that Elizabeth was influenced in her attitude to Rome by an
arrogant reply from Pope Paul IV. to her official notification of her
accession, though refuted by Lingard and Hallam in their later editions,
has been repeated by recent historians. Her accession was notified to
every friendly sovereign except the Pope. He was studiously ignored from
the first. Equally unsupported by facts are all attempts to show that
during the early weeks of her reign she had not made up her mind as to
the course she would take about religion. All preaching, it is true, was
suspended by proclamation; and it was ordered that the established
worship should go on “until consultation might be had in Parliament by
the Queen and the three Estates.” In the meantime she had herself
crowned according to the ancient ritual by the Catholic Bishop of
Carlisle. But this is only what might have been expected from a strong
ruler who was not disposed to let important alterations be initiated by
popular commotion or the presumptuous forwardness of individual
clergymen. The impending change was quite sufficiently marked from the
first by the removal of the most bigoted Catholics from the Council and
by the appointment of Cecil and Bacon to the offices of Secretary and of
Lord Keeper. The new Parliament, Protestant candidates for which had
been recommended by the Government, met as soon as possible (Jan. 25,
1559). When it rose (May 8th) the great change had been legally and
decisively accomplished.

The government, worship, and doctrine of the Established Church are the
most abiding marks left by Elizabeth on the national life of England.
Logically it might have been expected that the settlement of doctrine
would precede that of government and worship. It is characteristic of a
State Church that the inverse order should have been followed. For the
Queen the most important question was Church government; for the people,
worship. Both these matters were disposed of with great promptitude at
the beginning of 1559. Doctrine might interest the clergy; but it could
wait. The Thirty-nine Articles were not adopted by Convocation till
1563, and were not sanctioned by Parliament till 1571.

The government of the Church was settled by the Act of Supremacy (April
1559). It revived the Act of Henry VIII., except that the Queen was
styled Supreme Governor of the Church instead of Supreme Head, although
the nature of the supremacy was precisely the same. The penalties were
relaxed. Henry’s oath of supremacy might be tendered to any subject, and
to decline it was high treason; Elizabeth’s oath was to be obligatory
only on persons holding spiritual or temporal office under the Crown,
and the penalty for declining was the loss of such office. Those who
chose to _attack_ the supremacy were still liable to the penalties of
treason on the third offence.

Worship was settled with equal expedition by the Act of Uniformity
(April 1559), which imposed the second or more Protestant Prayer-book of
Edward VI., but with a few very important alterations. A deprecation in
the Litany of “the tyranny of the Bishop of Rome and all his detestable
enormities,” and a rubric which declared that by kneeling at the
Communion no adoration was intended to any real and essential presence
of Christ, were expunged. The words of administration in the present
communion service consist of two sentences. The first sentence, implying
real presence, belonged to Edward’s first Prayer-book; the second,
implying mere commemoration, belonged to his second Prayer-book. The
Prayer-book of 1559 simply pieced the two together, with a view to
satisfy both Catholics and Protestants. Lastly, the vestments prescribed
in Edward’s first Prayer-book were retained till further notice. These
alterations of Edward’s second Prayer-book, all of them designed to
propitiate the Catholics, were dictated by Elizabeth herself. In all
this legislation Convocation was entirely ignored. Both its houses
showed themselves strongly Catholic. But their opinion was not asked,
and no notice was taken of their remonstrances.

While determining that England should have a purely national Church, and
for that reason casting in her lot with the Protestants, Elizabeth, as
we have seen, made very considerable sacrifices of logic and consistency
in order to induce Catholics to conform. Like a strong and wise
statesman, she did not allow herself to be driven into one concession
after another, but went at once as far as she intended to go. At the
same time the coercion applied to the Catholics, while sufficient to
influence the worldly-minded majority, was, during the early part of her
reign, very mild for those times. She wished no one to be molested who
did not go out of his way to invite it. Outward conformity was all she
wanted. And of this mere attendance at church was accepted as sufficient
evidence. The principal difficulty, of course, was with the clergy. From
them more than a mere passive conformity had to be exacted. To sign
declarations, take oaths, and officiate in church was a severer strain
on the conscience. It is said that less than 200 out of 9400 sacrificed
their benefices rather than conform, and that of these about 100 were
dignitaries. The number must be under-stated; for the chief difficulty
of the new bishops, for a long time, was to find clergymen for the
parish churches. But we cannot doubt that the large majority of the
parish clergy stuck to their livings, remaining Catholics at heart, and
avoiding, where they could, and as long as they could, compliance with
the new regulations. It must not be supposed that the enactment of
religious changes by Parliament was equivalent, as it would be at the
present day, to their immediate enforcement throughout the country;
especially in the north where the great proprietors and justices of the
peace did not carry out the law. A certain number of the ejected priests
continued to celebrate the ancient rites privately in the houses of the
more earnest Catholics; for which they were not unfrequently punished by
imprisonment. Of course this was persecution. But according to the
ideas of that day it was a very mild kind of persecution; and where it
occurred it seems to have been due to the zeal of some of the bishops,
and to private busybodies who set the law in motion, rather than to any
systematic action on the part of the Government.



The successful wars waged by Edward III. and Henry V. are apt to cause
an exaggerated estimate of the strength of England under the Tudors. The
population--Wales included--was probably not much more than four
millions. That of France was perhaps four times as large, and the
superiority in wealth was even greater.[1] Before the reign of Louis
XI., France, weakened by feudal disunion, had been an easy prey to her
smaller but better-organised neighbour. The work of concentration
effected by the greatest of French kings towards the close of the
fifteenth century, and the simultaneous rise of the great Spanish
empire, caused England to fall at once into the rank of a second-rate
power. Such she really was under Henry VIII., notwithstanding the rather
showy figure he managed to make by adhering alternately to Charles V.
and Francis I. Under the bad government of Edward and Mary the fighting
strength of England declined not only relatively, but absolutely, until
in the last year of Mary it touched the lowest point in our history.
Although we were at war with France, there were no soldiers, no
officers, no arms, no fortresses that could resist artillery, few ships,
a heavy debt, and deep discouragement. The loss of Calais, which had
been held for 200 years, was the simple and natural consequence of this
prostration. Justice will not be done to the great recovery under
Elizabeth unless we understand how low the country had sunk when she
came to the throne.

During the early years of her reign, it was the universal opinion at
home and abroad that without Spanish protection she could not preserve
her throne against a French invasion in the interests of Mary Stuart.
Henry II. meant that, by the marriage of the Dauphin Francis with Mary,
the kingdoms of England and Scotland should be united to one another and
eventually to France. Philip would thus lose the command of the sea
route to the Netherlands, and the hereditary duel with the House of
Austria would be decided. This scheme could not seem fantastic in a
century which had seen such immense agglomerations of territory effected
by political marriages. Philip, on the other hand, made sure that the
danger from France must necessarily throw Elizabeth and England into his
arms. Notwithstanding the warnings he received from his ambassador Feria
that Elizabeth was a heretic, he felt certain that she would not venture
to alter religion at the risk of offending him. The only question with
him was whether he should marry her himself or bestow her on some sure
friend of his house. That she would refuse both himself and his nominee
was a contingency he never contemplated.

Elizabeth, from the first, made up her mind that the cards in her hand
could be played to more advantage than Philip supposed. England, no
doubt, needed his protection for the present. But could he please
himself about granting it? Her bold calculation was that his own
interests would compel him, in any case, to prevent the execution of the
Stuart-Valois scheme, and that consequently she might settle religion
without reference to his wishes.

The offer of marriage came in January 1559. In his letter to Feria,
Philip spoke as if Elizabeth would of course jump at it. After dwelling
on its many inconveniences, he said he had decided to make the sacrifice
on condition that Elizabeth would uphold the Catholic religion; but she
must not expect him to remain long with her; he would visit England
occasionally. Feria foolishly allowed this letter to be seen, and the
contents were reported to Elizabeth. She was as much amused as piqued.
Their ages were not unsuitable. Philip was thirty-two, and Elizabeth was
twenty-five. But she was as fastidious about men as her father was about
women; and for no political consideration would she have tied herself to
her ugly, disagreeable, little brother-in-law. After some fencing, she
replied that she did not mean to marry, and that she was not afraid of

Before the death of Mary, negotiations for a peace between France,
Spain, and England had already begun. Calais was almost the only
difficulty remaining to be settled. Our countrymen have never been able
to understand how their possession of a fortress within the natural
boundaries of another country can be disagreeable to its inhabitants.
Elizabeth shared the national feeling, and she wanted Philip to insist
on the restitution of Calais. He would have done so if she had pleased
him as to other matters. Even as it was, the presence of a French
garrison in Calais was so inconvenient to the master of the Netherlands
that he was ready to fight on if England would do her part. But
Elizabeth would only promise to fight Scotland--a very indirect and,
indeed, useless way of supporting Philip. When once this point was made
clear, peace was soon concluded between the three powers at Câteau, near
Cambray (March 1559); appearances being saved by a stipulation that
Calais should be restored in eight years, or half a million of crowns be

In thus giving way Elizabeth showed her good sense. To have fought on
would have meant deeper debt, terrible exhaustion, and, what was worse,
dependence on Philip. Moreover, Calais could only have been recovered by
reducing France to helplessness, which would have been fatal to the
balance of power on which Elizabeth relied to make herself independent
of both her great neighbours. The peace of Câteau Cambresis was attended
with a secret compact between Philip II. and Henry II., that each
monarch should suppress heresy in his own dominions and not encourage it
in those of his neighbour. By the accession of Elizabeth, and the Scotch
Reformation which immediately followed, Protestantism reached its
high-water mark in Europe. The long wars of Charles V. with France had
enabled it to spread. Francis I. had intrigued with the Protestant
princes of the Empire, and Charles had been obliged to humour them.
Protestantism was victorious in Britain, Scandinavia, North Germany, the
Palatinate, and Swabia. It had spread widely in Poland, Hungary, the
Netherlands, and France. This rapid growth was now about to be checked.
In some of these countries the new religion was destined to succumb; in
some entirely to disappear. Men who could remember the first preachings
of Luther lived to see not only the high-water, but the ebb, of the
Protestant tide. The revolutionary tendencies inherent in Protestantism
began to alarm the sovereigns; and all the more because the Church in
Catholic, hardly less than in Protestant, countries was becoming a
department of the State. Kings had been jealous of the spiritual power
when it belonged to the Popes. They became jealous for it when it was
annexed to the throne.

Notwithstanding its secret stipulations, the peace of Câteau Cambresis
relieved England from the most pressing and immediate perils by which
she was threatened. Neither French nor Spanish troops had made their
appearance on our soil. A breathing-time at least had been gained,
during which something might be done towards putting the country in a
state of defence, and restoring the finances.

But the danger from France was by no means at an end. In the treaty with
England, the title of Elizabeth had been acknowledged. But in that with
Spain, the Dauphin had styled himself “King of Scotland, England, and
Ireland.” He and Mary had also assumed the English arms. If a French
army invaded England, it would come by way of Scotland. The English
Catholics, who had for the most part frankly accepted the succession of
Elizabeth, were disappointed and irritated by the change of religion. If
Mary should go to Scotland with a French force, it was to be apprehended
that a rebellion would immediately break out in the northern counties.
Philip, no doubt, would land in the south to drive out the Dauphiness.
But the remedy would be worse than the disease. For he was deeply
discontented with the conduct of Elizabeth, and would probably take the
opportunity of deposing her. To establish, therefore, her independence
of both her powerful neighbours, Elizabeth had to begin by destroying
French influence in Scotland.

The wisest heads in Scotland had long seen the advantage of uniting
their country to England by marriage. The blundering and bullying policy
of the Protector Somerset had driven the Scotch to renew their ancient
alliance with France. But the attempts of the Regent Mary of Guise to
increase French influence, and to establish a small standing army, in
order at once to strengthen her authority, and to serve the designs of
Henry II. against England, had again made the French connection
unpopular, and caused a corresponding revival of friendly feeling
towards England.

Nowhere was the Church so wealthy, relatively to the other estates, as
in Scotland. It was supposed to possess half the property of the
country. Nowhere were the clergy so immoral. Nowhere was superstition
so gross. But the doctrines of the Reformation were spreading among the
common people, and in 1557 some of the nobles, hungering for the wealth
of the Church, put themselves at the head of the Protestant movement.
They were known as the “Lords of the Congregation.”

The Scotch Reformation began not from the Government, as in England, but
from the people. Hence, while change of supremacy was the main question
in England, change of doctrine and worship took the lead in Scotland.
The two parties were about equal in numbers, the Protestants being
strongest in the Lowlands. But, with the exception of the murder of
Beaton in 1546, there had, as yet, been no appeal to force, nor any
attempt to procure a public change of religion. The accession of
Elizabeth emboldened the Protestants. At Perth they took possession of
the churches and burnt a monastery. On the other hand, after the peace
of Câteau Cambresis, Henry II. directed the Regent to put down
Protestantism, both in pursuance of the agreement with Philip, and in
order to prepare for the Franco-Scottish invasion of England. The result
was that the Protestants rose in open rebellion (June 1559). The Lords
of the Congregation occupied Perth, Stirling, and Edinburgh. All over
the Lowlands abbeys were wrecked, monks harried, churches cleared of
images, the Mass abolished, and King Edward’s service established in its
place. In England the various changes of religion in the last thirty
years had always been effected legally by King and Parliament. In
Scotland the Catholic Church was overthrown by a simultaneous popular
outbreak. The catastrophe came later than in England; but popular
feeling was more prepared for it; and what was now cast down was never
set up again.

It seemed at first as if the Regent and her handful of regular troops,
commanded by d’Oysel, would be swept away. But d’Oysel had fortified
Leith, and was even able to take the field. A French army was expected.
The tumultuary forces of the needy Scotch nobles could not be kept
together long, and it became clear that, unless supported by Elizabeth,
the rebellion would be crushed as soon as the French reinforcements
should arrive, if not sooner.

Thus early did Elizabeth find herself confronted by the Scottish
difficulty, which was to cause her so much anxiety throughout the
greater part of her reign. The problem, though varying in minor details,
was always essentially the same. There was a Protestant faction looking
for support to England, and a Catholic faction looking to France. Two or
three of the Protestant leaders--Moray, Glencairn, Kirkaldy--did really
care something about a religious reformation. The rest thought more of
getting hold of Church lands and pursuing old family feuds. In the
experience of Elizabeth, they were a needy, greedy, treacherous crew,
always sponging on her treasury, and giving her very little service in
return for her money. Besides, the whole Scotch nation was so touchy in
its patriotism, so jealous of foreign interference, that foreign
soldiers present on its soil were sure to be regarded with an evil eye,
no matter for what purpose they had come, or by whom they had been

The Lords of the Congregation invoked the protection of Elizabeth. They
suggested that she should marry the Earl of Arran, and that he and she
should be King and Queen of Great Britain. Arran was the eldest son of
the Duke of Chatelherault, who, Mary being as yet childless, was
heir-presumptive to the Scottish crown. There were many reasons why
Elizabeth should decline interference. It was throwing down the glove to
France. Interference in Scotland had always been disastrous. It might
drive the English Catholics to despair, as cutting off the hope of
Mary’s succession to the English crown. To make a Protestant match would
irritate Philip. He might invade England to forestall the French. Almost
all her Council--even Bacon--advised her to leave Scotland alone, marry
the Archduke Charles, and trust to the Spanish alliance for the defence
of England.

These were serious considerations; and to them was to be joined another
which with Elizabeth always had great weight--more, naturally, than it
had with any of her advisers. She shrank from doing anything which might
have the practical effect of weakening the common cause of monarchs. She
felt instinctively that with Protestants reverence for the religious
basis of kingship must tend to become weaker than with Catholics. She
did not desire to encourage this tendency or to familiarise her own
subjects with it. Knox’s _First Blast of the Trumpet against the
Monstrous Regimen of Women_ had been directed against Mary. The Blasts
that were to follow had been dropped; but the first could not be treated
as unblown. And the arrogant preacher did not mend matters by writing to
Elizabeth that she was to consider her case as an exception “contrary
to nature,” allowed by God “for the comfort of His kirk,” but that if
she based her title on her birth or on law, “her felicity would be

Nevertheless Elizabeth adopted the bolder course. The Lords of the
Congregation were assured that England would not see them crushed by
French arms. A small supply of money was sent to them. As to the
marriage with Arran, no positive answer was given; but he was sent for
to be looked at. When he came, he was found to be even a poorer creature
than his father; at times, indeed, not quite right in his mind. It was
hard upon the Hamiltons, among whom were so many able and daring men,
that, with the crown almost in their grasp, their chiefs should be such
incapables. To Elizabeth it was no doubt a relief to find that Arran was
an impossible husband.

In the meantime 2000 French had arrived, and the Lords were urgent in
their demands for help. But Elizabeth determined, and rightly, that they
must do their own work if they could. She was willing to give them such
pecuniary help as was necessary. But the demand for troops was
unreasonable. Fighting men abounded in Scotland. Why should English
troops be sent to do their fighting for them, with the certainty of
earning black looks rather than thanks? If a large army was despatched
from France, she would attack it with her fleet. If it landed, she would
send an English army. But if the Lords of the Congregation did not beat
the handful of Frenchmen at Leith it must be because they were either
weak or treacherous. In either case Elizabeth might have to give up the
policy she preferred, leave Scotland alone, and fall back upon an
alliance with Philip.

In order therefore to preserve this second string to her bow, and to let
the Scotch Anglophiles see that she possessed it, she reopened
negotiations for the Austrian marriage. Charles, in his turn, was
invited to come and be looked at. Much as she disliked the idea of
marriage, she knew that political reasons might make it necessary. But,
come what would, she would never marry a man who was not to her fancy as
a man. She would take no one on the strength of his picture. She had
heard that Charles was not over-wise, and that he had an extraordinarily
big head, “bigger than the Earl of Bedford’s.”

The Scotch Lords, finding that Elizabeth was determined to have some
solid return for her money, went to work with more vigour. They
proclaimed the deposition of the Regent, drove her from Edinburgh, and
besieged her and her French garrison in Leith. But this burst of energy
was soon over. The Protestants were more ready to pull down images and
harry monks than make campaigns. Leith was not to be taken. In three
weeks their army dwindled away, and the little disciplined force of
Frenchmen re-entered Edinburgh.

The position had become very critical for Elizabeth. A French army of
15,000 men was daily expected at Leith. If once it landed, the
Congregation would be crushed; the Hamiltons would make their peace; and
the disciplined army of d’Elbœuf, swelled by hordes of hungry
Scotchmen, would pour over the Border and proclaim Mary in the midst of
the Catholic population which ten years later rose in rebellion under
the northern Earls.

In this difficulty the Spanish Ministers in the Netherlands were
consulted. If Elizabeth expelled the garrison at Leith, and so brought
upon herself a war with France, could she depend on Philip’s assistance?
The reply was menacing. Their master, for his own interest, could not
allow the Queen of France and Scotland to enforce her title to the
throne of England. But he would oppose it in his own way. If a French
army entered England from the north, a Spanish army would land on the
south coast. Turning to her own Council for advice, Elizabeth found no
encouragement. They recommended her to take Philip’s advice, and even to
retrace some of her steps in the matter of religion in order to
propitiate him. She made a personal appeal to the Duke of Norfolk to
take the command of the forces on the Border. But he declined to be the
instrument of a policy which he disapproved.

We need not wonder if Elizabeth hesitated for a while. Some of these
councillors were not too well affected to her. But most of them were
thoroughly loyal, and there was really much to be said for the more
cautious policy. She herself was an eminently cautious politician,
inclined by nature to shrink from risky courses. Never, therefore, in
her whole career did she give greater proof of her large-minded
comprehension of the main lines of policy which it behoved her to follow
than when she determined to override the opinions of so many prudent
advisers, and expel the French force from the northern kingdom.

England was not quite in the helpless, disabled position that it pleased
the Spaniards to believe. Twelve months of careful and energetic
administration had already done wonders. There had been wise economy and
wise expenditure. Money had been scraped together, and, though there was
still a heavy debt, the legacy of three wasteful reigns, the confidence
of the Antwerp money-lenders had revived, and they were willing to
advance considerable sums. A fleet had been equipped and manned;
shiploads of arms had been imported; forces had been collected on the
south coasts. The Border garrisons had been quietly raised in strength
till they were able to furnish an expeditionary force at a moment’s

The smallest energy on the part of the Congregation might have finished
the war without the presence of an English force. Elizabeth had a right
to be angry. The Scotch Protestants expected to have the hardest part of
the work done for them, and to be paid for executing their own share of
it. Lord James and a few of the leaders were in earnest, but others were
selfish time-servers. As for the lower class, their Calvinism was still
new. It had not yet bred that fierce spirit of independence which before
long was to outweigh the force of nobles and gentry. But if the weakness
of the Anglophile party was disappointing, it had at all events shown
that Elizabeth must depend upon herself to ward off danger on that side;
and after some reasonable hesitation she decided to put through the work
she had begun.

It says much for the patriotism of Elizabeth’s Council that when they
found she had made up her mind they did not stand sulkily aloof, but
co-operated heartily and vigorously in carrying out the policy they had
opposed. Norfolk himself accepted the command of the Border army, and
acted throughout the affair with fidelity and diligence. He was not a
man distinguished by ability of any kind, and the actual fighting was to
be done by Lord Grey, a firm and experienced, though not brilliant,
commander. But that the natural leader of the Conservative nobility
should be seen at the head of Elizabeth’s army was a useful lesson to
traitors at home and enemies abroad, who were telling each other that
her throne was insecure.

An agreement between the English Queen and the Lords of the Congregation
was drawn up (February 27), with scrupulous care to avoid the appearance
of dictation and encroachment which had gathered all Scotland to Pinkie
Cleugh eleven years before. It set forth that the English troops were
entering Scotland for no other object than to assist the Duke of
Chatelherault, the heir-presumptive to the throne, and the other nobles,
to drive out the foreign invaders. They would build no fortress. There
was no intention to prejudice Mary’s lawful authority. Cecil appears to
have wanted to add something about “Christ’s true religion;” but
Elizabeth struck it out. Circumstances might compel her to be the
protector of foreign Protestants; but neither then nor at any other time
did she desire to pose in that character.

A month later (March 28th) Lord Grey crossed the Border, and marched to
Leith. The siege of that place proved to be tedious. The Lords of the
Congregation gave very insufficient assistance; and, when an assault
had been repulsed with heavy loss, the citizens of Edinburgh would not
receive the wounded into their houses. At last, when food was running
short in the town, an envoy from France arrived with power to treat on
behalf of the Queen of Scots. Her mother, the Regent, had died during
the siege. After much haggling a treaty was signed. No French troops
were in future to be kept in Scotland. Offices of State were to be held
only by natives. The government during Mary’s absence was to be vested
in a Council of twelve noblemen; seven nominated by her and five by the
Estates. Elizabeth’s title to the kingdoms of England and Ireland was
recognised (July 1560).

Such was the Treaty of Edinburgh, or of Leith, as it is sometimes
called, one of the most successful achievements of a successful reign.
It was gained by wise counsel and bold resolve; and its fruits, though
not completely fulfilling its promise, were solid and valuable. It was
not ratified by Mary. But her non-ratification in the long-run injured
no one but herself, besides putting her in the wrong, and giving
Elizabeth a standing excuse for treating her as an enemy. England was
permanently free from the menace of a disciplined French army in the
northern kingdom. Nothing was settled in the treaty about religion. But
this was equivalent to a confirmation of the violent change that had
recently taken place; in itself a guarantee of security to England.

The moral effect of this success was even greater than its more tangible
results. It had been very generally believed, at all events abroad, that
Elizabeth was tottering on her throne; that the large majority were on
the point of rising to depose her; that, wriggle as she might, she would
find she was a mere _protégée_ of Philip, with no option but to follow
his directions and square her policy to his. Whatever small basis of
fact underlay this delusive estimate had been ridiculously exaggerated
in the reports sent to Philip by his ambassador De Quadra, a man who
evidently paid more attention to hole-and-corner tattle than to the
broad forces of English politics.

All these imaginings were now proved to be vain. Elizabeth had shown
that she could protect herself by her own strength and in her own way.
She had civilly ignored Philip’s advice, or rather his injunctions. She
had thrown down the glove to France, and France had not taken it up. She
had placed in command of her armies the very man whom she was supposed
to fear, and he had done her bidding, and done it well. England once
more stood before Europe as an independent power, able to take care of
itself, aid its friends, and annoy its enemies.

It is true that, as far as Elizabeth personally is concerned, her Scotch
policy had not always in its execution been as prompt and firm as could
be desired. Those who follow it in greater detail than is possible here
will find much in it that is irresolute and even vacillating. This
defect appears throughout Elizabeth’s career, though it will always be
ignored, as it ought to be ignored, by those who reserve their attention
for what is worth observing in the course of human affairs.

In her intellectual grasp of European politics as a whole, and of the
interests of her own kingdom, Elizabeth was probably superior to any of
her counsellors. No one could better than she think out the general
idea of a political campaign. But theoretical and practical
qualifications are seldom, if ever, combined in equal excellence. Not
only are the qualities themselves naturally opposed, but the constant
exercise of either increases the disparity. Her sex obliged Elizabeth to
leave the large field of execution to others. Her practical gifts
therefore, whatever they were, deteriorated rather than advanced as she
grew older. In men, who every day and every hour of the day are engaged
in action, the habit of prompt decision and persistence in a course once
adopted, even if it be not quite the best, is naturally formed and
strengthened. It is a habit so valuable, so indispensable to continued
success, that in practice it largely compensates for some inferiority in
conception and design. Elizabeth’s irresolution and vacillation were
therefore a consequence of her position--that of an extremely able and
well-informed woman called upon to conduct a government in which so much
had to be decided by the sovereign at her own discretion. The abler she
was, the more disposed to make her will felt, the less steadiness and
consistency in action were to be expected from her. As the wife of a
king, upon whom the final responsibility would have rested--her inferior
perhaps in intellect and knowledge, but with the masculine habit of
making up his mind once for all, and then steering a straight
course--she would have been a wise and enlightened adviser, not afraid
of consistently maintaining principles, when the time, mode, and degree
of their application rested with another. As it was, Cecil and other
able statesmen who served her had not only to take their general course
of policy from their mistress--a wise course upon the whole, wiser
sometimes than they would have selected for themselves--but they were
embarrassed, in their loyal attempts to steer in the direction she had
prescribed, by her nervous habit of catching at the rudder-lines
whenever a new doubt occurred to her ingenious mind, or some private
feeling of the woman perverted the clear insight of the sovereign.

The rivalry between France and Spain had hitherto been the safety of
England. Nothing but reasons of religion could bring those two powers to
suspend their political quarrel. This danger seemed to be averted for
the moment by the temporary ascendant of the Politiques after the death
of Francis II. But the fanaticism of both Catholics and Huguenots was
too bitter, and the nobles on both sides were too ambitious, to listen
to the dictates of reason and patriotism. The immense majority of the
nation, except in some districts of the south and south-west, was
profoundly Catholic. The Huguenots, strongest amongst the aristocracy
and the upper bourgeoisie, daring and intolerant like the Calvinists
everywhere, had no sooner received some countenance from Catherine than
they began to preach against the mass, to demand the spoliation of the
Church, the suppression of monasteries, the destruction of images, and
the expulsion of the Guises. Where they were strong enough they began to
carry out their programme. The Guises, on the other hand, forgetting the
glory they had won in the wars against Spain, were soliciting the
patronage of Philip, and urging him to put himself at the head of a
crusade against the heretics of all countries. To this appeal he
replied by formally summoning Catherine to put down heresy in France. An
accidental collision at Vassy, in which a number of Huguenots were
slain, brought on the first of those wars of religion which were to
desolate France for the next thirty years (March 1562). Both factions,
equally dead to patriotism, opened their country to foreigners. The
Guises called in the forces of Spain and the Pope. Condé applied to
Elizabeth and the Protestant princes of Germany.

It was necessary to give the Huguenots just so much help as would
prevent them from being crushed. Aggressive in appearance, such
interference was in reality legitimate self-defence. But unfortunately
neither Elizabeth nor her Council had forgotten Calais, and they
extorted from Condé the surrender of Havre as a pledge for its
restoration. In the case of Scotland they had come, as we have seen, to
recognise that to establish a permanent war by holding fortified posts
on the territory of another nation is poor statesmanship. The possession
of Calais was of little military value as against France. It is true
that it would enable England to make sea communication between Spain and
the Netherlands very insecure, and would thus give Philip a powerful
motive for desiring to stand well with this country. But such a
calculation had less weight with Englishmen at that moment than pure
Jingoism--the longing to be again able to crow over their French enemy.

The occupation of Havre (October 1562) gave to the Huguenot cause the
minimum of assistance, and brought upon it the maximum of odium. A
hollow reconciliation was soon patched up between the rival factions
(March 1563), and Elizabeth was summoned to evacuate Havre. She refused,
loudly complaining of the Huguenots for deserting her. She “had come to
the quiet possession of Havre without force or any other unlawful means,
and she had good reason to keep it.” Up to this time the fiction of
peace between the two nations had been maintained. It was now open war.
It is only fair to Elizabeth to say that all her Council and the whole
nation were even hotter than she was. The garrison of Havre, with their
commander Warwick, were eager for the fray. They would “make the French
cock cry Cuck,” they would “spend the last drop of their blood before
the French should fasten a foot in the town.” The inhabitants were all
expelled, and the siege began, Condé as well as the Catholics appearing
in the Queen-mother’s army. After a valiant defence the English, reduced
to a handful of men by typhus, sailed away (July 28, 1563). Peace was
concluded early in the next year (April 1564). Elizabeth did not repeat
her mistake. Thenceforward to the end of her reign we shall find her
carefully cultivating friendly relations with every ruler of France.



When Elizabeth mounted the throne, it was taken for granted that she was
to marry, and marry with the least possible delay. This was expected of
her, not merely because in the event of her dying without issue there
would be a dispute whether the claim of Mary Stuart or that of Catherine
Grey was to prevail, but for a more general reason. The rule of an
unmarried woman, except provisionally during such short interval as
might be necessary to provide her with a husband, was regarded as quite
out of the question. It was the custom for the husbands of heiresses to
step into the property of their wives and stand in the shoes, so to
speak, of the last male proprietor, in order to perform those duties
which could not be efficiently performed by a woman. Elizabeth’s sister,
while a subject, had no thought of marrying. But her accession was
considered by herself and every one else to involve marriage. If the
nobles of England could have foreseen that Elizabeth would elude this
obligation, she would probably never have been allowed to mount the
throne. Her marriage was thought to be as much a matter of course, and
as necessary, as her coronation.

Accordingly the House of Commons, which met a month after her accession,
immediately requested her to select a husband without delay. Her
declaration that she had no desire to change her state was supposed to
indicate only the real or affected coyness to be expected from a young
lady. There was no lack of suitors, foreign or English. The Archduke
Charles, son of the Emperor and cousin of Philip, would have been
welcomed by all Catholics and acquiesced in by political Protestants
like Cecil. The ardent Protestants were eager for Arran, and Cecil, till
he saw it was useless, worked his best for him, regardless of the
personal sacrifice his mistress must make in wedding a man who was not
always quite sane and eventually became a confirmed lunatic.

Not many months of the new reign had passed before it began to be
suspected that Elizabeth’s partiality for Lord Robert Dudley had
something to do with her evident distaste for all her suitors. To her
Ministers and the public this partiality for a married man became a
cause of great disquietude. They not unnaturally feared that with a
young woman who had no relations to advise and keep watch over her, it
might lead to some disastrous scandal incompatible with her continuance
on the throne. Marriage with Dudley at this time was out of the
question. But within four months of her accession, the Spanish
ambassador mentions a report that Dudley’s wife had a cancer, and that
the Queen was only waiting for her death to marry him.

About the humble extraction of Elizabeth’s favourite much nonsense was
talked in his lifetime by his ill-wishers, and has been duly repeated
since. He was as well born as most of the peerage of that time; very few
of whom could show nobility of any antiquity in the male line. The Duke
of Norfolk being the only Duke at Elizabeth’s accession, and in
possession of an ancient title, was looked on as the head of his order.
Yet it was only seventy-five years since a Howard had first reached the
peerage in consequence of having had the good fortune to marry the
heiress of the Mowbrays. Edmund Dudley, Minister of Henry VII. and
father of Northumberland, was grandson of John, fourth Lord Dudley; and
Northumberland, by his mother’s side, was sole heir and representative
of the ancient barony of De L’Isle, which title he bore before he
received his earldom and dukedom. In point of wealth and influence,
indeed, the favourite might be called an upstart. The younger son of an
attainted father, he had not an acre of land or a farthing of money
which he did not owe either to his wife or to the generosity of
Elizabeth. This it was that moved the sneers and ill-will of a people
with whom nobility has always been a composite idea implying, not only
birth and title, but territorial wealth. Moreover his grandfather,
though of good extraction, was a simple esquire, and had risen by
helping Henry VII. to trample on the old nobility. After his fall his
son had climbed to power under Henry VIII. and Edward VI. in the same
way. Lord Robert Dudley, again, had to begin at the bottom of the

No one will claim for Elizabeth’s favourite that he was a man of
distinguished ability or high character. He had a fine figure and a
handsome face. He bore himself well in manly exercises. His manners
were attractive when he wished to please. To these qualities he first
owed his favour with Elizabeth, who was never at any pains to conceal
her liking for good-looking men and her dislike of ugly ones. Finding
himself in favour, and inheriting to the full the pushing audacity of
his father and grandfather, he professed for the Queen a love which he
certainly did not feel, in order to serve his soaring ambition.
Elizabeth, it is my firm conviction, never loved Dudley or any other
man, in any sense of the word, high or low. She had neither a tender
heart nor a sensual temperament. But she had a more than feminine
appetite for admiration; and the more she was, unhappily for herself, a
stranger to the emotion of love, the more restlessly did she desire to
be thought capable of inspiring it. She was therefore easily taken in by
Dudley’s professions, and, though she did not care for him enough to
marry him, she liked to have him as well as several other handsome men,
dangling about her, “like her lap-dog,” to use her own expression.
Further she believed--and here came in the mischief--that his devotion
to her person would make him a specially faithful servant.

We know, though Elizabeth did not, that in 1561, Dudley was promising
the Spanish ambassador to be Philip’s humble vassal, and to do his best
for Catholicism, if Philip would promote his marriage with the Queen;
that, in the same year, he was offering his services to the French
Huguenots for the same consideration; that at one time he posed as the
protector of the Puritans, while at another he was intriguing with the
captive Queen of Scots; whom, again, later on, he had a chief share in
bringing to the block. But we must remember that very few statesmen,
English or foreign, in the sixteenth century could have shown a record
free from similar blots. Those who, like Elizabeth and Cecil, were
undeniably actuated on the whole by public spirit, or by any principle
more respectable than pure selfishness, never hesitated to lie or play a
double game when it seemed to serve their turn. William of Orange is the
only eminent statesman, as far as I know, against whom this charge
cannot be made. When this was the standard of honour for consistent
politicians and real patriots, what was to be expected of lower natures?
Dudley’s conduct on several occasions was bad and contemptible; and he
must be judged with the more severity, because he sinned not only
against the code of duty binding on the ordinary man and citizen, but
against his professions of a tender sentiment by means of which he had
acquired his special influence. I have said that he was not a man of
great ability. But neither was he the empty-headed incapable trifler
that some writers have depicted him. He was not so judged by his
contemporaries. That Elizabeth, because she liked him, would have
selected a man of notorious incapacity to command her armies, both in
the Netherlands and when the Armada was expected, is one of those
hypotheses that do not become more credible by being often repeated.
Cecil himself, when it was not a question of the marriage--of which he
was a determined opponent--regarded him as a useful servant of the
Queen. I do not doubt that Elizabeth estimated his capacity at about its
right value. What she over-estimated was his affection for herself, and
consequently his trustworthiness. Sovereigns--and others--often place a
near relative in an important post, not as being the most capable person
they know, but as most likely to be true to them. Elizabeth had no near
relatives. If we grant--as we must grant--that she believed in Dudley’s
love, we cannot wonder that she employed him in positions of trust. A
female ruler will always be liable to make these mistakes, unless her
Ministers and captains are to be of her own sex.

On the 3rd of September 1560, two months after the Treaty of Leith,
Elizabeth told De Quadra that she had made up her mind to marry the
Archduke Charles. On the 8th, Lady Robert Dudley died at Cumnor Hall. On
the 11th, Elizabeth told De Quadra that she had changed her mind. Dudley
neglected his wife, and never brought her to court. We cannot doubt that
he fretted under a tie which stood in the way of his ambition. Her death
had been predicted. It is not strange, therefore, that he should have
been suspected of having caused it. Nevertheless, not a particle of
evidence pointing in that direction has ever been produced, and it seems
most probable that the poor deserted creature committed suicide. A
coroner’s jury investigated the case diligently, and, it would seem,
with some animus against Foster, the owner of Cumnor Hall, but returned
a verdict of accidental death.

Anyhow, Dudley was now free. The Scotch Estates were eagerly pressing
Arran’s suit, and the English Protestants were as eagerly backing them.
The opportunity was certainly unique. Though nothing was said about
deposing Mary, yet nothing could be more certain than that, if this
marriage took place, the Queen of France would never reign in Scotland.

At her wits’ end how to escape a match so desirable for the Queen, so
repulsive to the woman, Elizabeth had announced her willingness to
espouse the Archduke in order to gain a short breathing-time. Vienna was
at least further than Edinburgh, and difficulties were sure to arise
when details began to be discussed. At this moment, by the sudden death
of his wife, Dudley became marriageable. If Elizabeth had been free to
marry or not, as she pleased, it seems to me in the highest degree
improbable that she would ever have thought of taking Dudley. But
believing that a husband was inevitable, and expecting that she would be
forced to take some one who was either unknown to her or positively
distasteful, it was most natural that she should ask herself whether it
was not the least of evils to put this cruel persecution to an end by
choosing a man whom at least she admired and liked, who loved her, as
she thought, for her own sake, and would be as obedient “as her
lap-dog.” When nations are ruled by women, and marriageable women,
feelings and motives which belong to the sphere of private life, and
should be confined to it, are apt to invade the domain of politics. If
Elizabeth’s subjects expected their sovereign to suppress all personal
feelings in choosing a consort, they ought to have established the Salic
law. No woman, queen or not queen, can be expected voluntarily to make
such a sacrifice. Her happiness is too deeply involved.

In the autumn, then, of 1560, when Elizabeth had been not quite two
years on the throne, she seriously thought of marrying Dudley. It is
difficult to say how long she continued to think of it seriously. With
him, as with other suitors, she went on coquetting when she had
perfectly made up her mind that nothing was to come of it. Perhaps we
shall be right in saying that, as long as there was any question of the
Archduke Charles, she looked to Dudley as a possible refuge. This would
be till about the beginning of 1568. It seems to be always assumed, as a
matter of course, that Cecil played the part of Elizabeth’s good genius
in persistently dissuading her from marrying Dudley. I am not so sure of
this. If she had been a wife and a mother many of her difficulties would
have at once disappeared, and the weakest points in her character would
have no longer been brought out. It ended in her not marrying at all. I
am inclined to think that another enemy of Dudley, the Earl of Sussex,
showed more good sense and truer patriotism when he wrote in October

     “I wish not her Majesty to linger this matter of so great
     importance, but to choose speedily; and therein to follow so much
     her own affection as [that], by the looking upon him whom she
     should choose, _omnes ejus sensus titillarentur_; which shall be
     the readiest way, with the help of God, to bring us a blessed
     prince which shall redeem us out of thraldom. If I knew that
     England had other rightful inheritors I would then advise
     otherwise, and seek to serve the time by a husband’s choice [seek
     for an advantageous political alliance]. But seeing that she is
     _ultimum refugium_, and that no riches, friendship, foreign
     alliance, or any other present commodity that might come by a
     husband, can serve our turn, without issue of her body, if the
     Queen will love anybody, let her love where and whom she lists, so
     much thirst I to see her love. And whomsoever she shall love and
     choose, him will I love, honour, and serve to the uttermost.”

Perhaps I may be excused for expressing the opinion that the ideal
husband for Elizabeth, if it had been possible, would have been Lord
James Stuart, afterwards Earl of Moray. Of sufficient capacity, kindly
heart, undaunted resolution, and unswerving rectitude of purpose, he
would have supplied just those elements that were wanting to correct her
defects. King of Scotland he perhaps could not be. Regent of Scotland he
did become. If he could, at the same time, have been Elizabeth’s
husband, the two crowns might have, in the next generation, been worn by
a Stuart of a nobler stock than the son of Mary and Darnley.

When Mary Stuart, on the death of her husband Francis II., returned to
her own kingdom (August 1561), she found the Scotch nobles sore at the
rejection of Arran’s suit. Bent on giving a sovereign to England, in one
way or another, they were now ready, Protestants as well as Catholics,
to back Mary’s demand that she should be recognised as Elizabeth’s
heir-presumptive. To this the English Queen could not consent, for the
very sufficient reason, that not only would the Catholic party be
encouraged to hold together and give trouble, but the more bigoted and
desperate members of it would certainly attempt her life, lest she
should disappoint Mary’s hopes by marrying. “She was not so foolish,”
she said, “as to hang a winding-sheet before her eyes or make a funeral
feast whilst she was alive,” but she promised that she would neither do
anything nor allow anything to be done by Parliament to prejudice Mary’s
title. To this undertaking she adhered long after Mary’s hostile
conduct had given ample justification for treating her as an enemy.

Openly Mary was claiming nothing but the succession. In reality she
cared little for a prospect so remote and uncertain. What she was
scheming for was to hurl Elizabeth from her throne. This was an object
for which she never ceased to work till her head was off her shoulders.
Her aims were more sharply defined than those of Elizabeth, and she was
remarkably free from that indecision which too often marred the action
of the English Queen. In ability and information she was not at all
inferior to Elizabeth; in promptitude and energy she was her superior.
These masculine qualities might have given her the victory in the bitter
duel, but that, in the all-important domain of feeling, her sex
indomitably asserted itself, and weighted her too heavily to match the
superb self-control of Elizabeth. She could love and she could hate;
Elizabeth had only likes and dislikes, and therefore played the cooler
game. When Mary really loved, which was only once, all selfish
calculations were flung to the winds; she was ready to sacrifice
everything, and not count the cost--body and soul, crown and life,
interest and honour. When she hated, which was often, rancour was apt to
get the better of prudence. And so at the fatal turning-point of her
career, when mad hate and madder love possessed her soul, she went down
before her great rival never to rise again. Here was a woman indeed. And
if, for that reason, she lost the battle in life, for that reason too
she still disputes it from the tomb. She has always had, and always will
have, the ardent sympathy of a host of champions, to whom the “fair
vestal throned by the west” is a mere politician, sexless, cold-blooded,
and repulsive.

In 1564 Mary, as yet fancy-free, was seeking to match herself on purely
political grounds. She was not so fastidious as Elizabeth, for she does
not seem to have troubled herself at all about personal qualities, if a
match seemed otherwise eligible. The Hamiltons pressed Arran upon her.
But he was a Protestant. He was not heir to any throne but that of
Scotland; and, though a powerful family in Scotland, the Hamiltons could
give her no help elsewhere. Philip, who, now that the Guises had become
his _protégés_, was less jealous of her designs, wished her to marry his
cousin, the Archduke Charles of Austria. But this prince, whom Elizabeth
professed to find too much of a Catholic, was, in the eyes of Mary and
her more bigoted co-religionists, too nearly a Lutheran; and she doubted
whether Philip cared enough for him to risk a war for establishing him
and herself upon the English throne. For this reason the husband on whom
she had set her heart was Don Carlos, Philip’s own son, a sort of wild
beast. But Philip received her overtures doubtfully; the fact being that
he could not trust Don Carlos, whom he eventually put to death.
Catherine de’ Medici loved Mary as little as she did the other Guises,
but the prospect of the Spanish match filled her with such terror that
she proposed to make the Scottish Queen her daughter-in-law a second
time by a marriage with Charles IX., a lad under thirteen, if she would
wait two years for him.

On the other hand, Elizabeth impressed upon Mary that, unless she
married a member of some Reformed Church, the English Parliament would
certainly demand that her title to the succession, whatever it was,
should be declared invalid. The House of Commons was strongly
Protestant, and had with difficulty been prevented from addressing the
Queen in favour of the succession of Lady Catherine Grey. Apart from
religion there was deep irritation against the whole Scotch nation. Sir
Ralph Sadler, who had been much employed in Scotland, denounced them as
“false, beggarly, and perjured, whom the very stones in the English
streets would rise against.” When Elizabeth was dangerously ill in
October 1562, the Council discussed whom they should proclaim in the
event of her death. Some were for the will of Henry VIII. and Catherine
Grey. Others, sick of female rulers, were for taking the Earl of
Huntingdon, a descendant of the Duke of Clarence. None were for Mary or
Darnley. Mary’s chief friends--Montagu, Northumberland, Westmoreland,
and Derby--were not on the Council.

Parliament and the Council being against her, Mary could not afford to
quarrel with the Queen. Elizabeth told her that she would regard a
marriage with any Spanish, Austrian, or French prince as a declaration
of war. Help from those quarters was far away, and at the mercy of winds
and waves: the Border fortresses were near, and their garrisons always
ready to march. Besides, whichever of the two she might obtain--Charles
IX. or the Archduke--she drove the other into the arms of Elizabeth.

But there was another possible husband who had crossed her mind from
time to time; not a prince indeed, yet of royal extraction in the
female line, and, what was more, not without pretensions to that very
succession which she coveted. Henry Lord Darnley, son of Matthew Stuart,
Earl of Lennox, was, by his father’s side, of the royal family of
Scotland, while his mother was the daughter of Margaret Tudor, sister of
Henry VIII., by her second husband, the Earl of Angus. Born and brought
up in England, where his father had been long an exile, he was reckoned
as an Englishman, which, in the opinion of many lawyers, was essential
as a qualification for the crown. He was also a Catholic, and if
Elizabeth had died at this time, it was perhaps Darnley, rather than
Mary, whom the Catholics would have tried to place on the throne.
Elizabeth had promised that, if Mary would marry an English nobleman,
she would do her best to get Mary’s title recognised by Parliament. To
Elizabeth, therefore, Mary now turned, with the request that she would
point out such a nobleman, not without a hope that she would name
Darnley (March 1564). But, to Mary’s mortification, she formally
recommended Lord Robert Dudley.

This recommendation has often been treated as if it was a sorry joke
perpetrated by Elizabeth, who had never any intention of furthering, or
even permitting, such a match. But nothing is more certain than that
Elizabeth was most anxious to bring it about; and it affords a decisive
proof that her feeling for Dudley, whatever name she herself may have
put to it, was not what is usually called love. Cecil and all her most
intimate advisers entertained no doubt that she was sincere. She
undertook, if Mary would accept Dudley, to make him a duke; and, in the
meantime, she created him Earl of Leicester. She regarded him, so she
told Mary’s envoy Melville, as her brother and her friend; if he was
Mary’s husband she would have no suspicion or fear of any usurpation
before her death, being assured that he was so loving and trusty that he
would never permit anything to be attempted during her time. “But,” she
said, pointing to Darnley, who was present, “you like better yonder long
lad.” Her suspicion was correct. Melville had secret instructions to
procure permission for Darnley to go to Scotland. However, he answered
discreetly that “no woman of spirit could choose such an one who more
resembled a woman than a man.”

How was Elizabeth to be persuaded to let Darnley leave England? There
was only one way to disarm suspicion: Mary declared herself ready to
marry Leicester (January 1565). Darnley immediately obtained leave of
absence for three months ostensibly to recover the forfeited Lennox
property. In Scotland the purpose of his coming was not mistaken, and it
roused the Protestants to fury. The Queen’s chapel, the only place in
the Lowlands where mass was said, was beset. Her priests were mobbed and
maltreated. Moray, who till lately had supported his sister with such
loyalty and energy that Knox had quarrelled with him, prepared, with the
other Lords of the Congregation, for resistance. Elizabeth, and Cecil
also, had been completely overreached. A prudent player sometimes gets
into difficulties by attributing equal prudence to a daring and reckless
antagonist. Elizabeth, as a patriotic ruler, desired nothing but peace
and security for her own kingdom. If she could have that, she had no
wish to meddle with Scotland. Mary, caring nothing for the interests of
her subjects, was facing civil war with a light heart; and, for the
chance of obtaining the more brilliant throne, was ready to risk her

Undeterred by Elizabeth’s threats, Mary married Darnley (July 29, 1565).
Moray and Argyll, having obtained a promise of assistance from England,
took arms; but most of the Lords of the Congregation showed themselves
even more powerless or perfidious than they had been five years before.
Morton, Ruthven, and Lindsay, stoutest of Protestants, were related to
Darnley, and were gratified by the elevation of their kinsman. Moray
failed to elicit a spark of spirit out of the priest-baiting citizens of
Edinburgh, and the Queen, riding steel cap on head and pistols at
saddle-bow, chased him into England. Lord Bedford, who was in command at
Berwick, could have stepped across the Border and scattered her
undisciplined array without difficulty. He implored Elizabeth to let him
do it; offered to do it on his own responsibility, and be disavowed. But
he found, to his mortification, that she had been playing a game of
brag. She had hoped that a threatening attitude would stop the marriage.
But as it was an accomplished fact she was not going to draw the sword.

This was shabby treatment of Moray and his friends, and to some of her
councillors it seemed not only shameful but dangerous to show the white
feather. But judging from the course of events, Elizabeth’s policy was
the safe one. The English Catholics--some of them at all events, as
will be explained presently--were becoming more discontented and
dangerous. The northern earls were known to be disaffected. Mary
believed that in every county in England the Catholics had their
organisation and their leaders, and that, if she chose, she could march
to London. No doubt she was much deceived. In reluctance to resort to
violence and respect for constituted authority, England, even north of
the Humber, was at least two centuries ahead of Scotland, and, if she
had come attended by a horde of savage Highlanders and Border ruffians,
“the very stones in the streets would have risen against them.” It was
Elizabeth’s rule--and a very good rule too--never to engage in a war if
she could avoid it. From this rule she could not be drawn to swerve
either by passion or ambition, or that most fertile source of fighting,
a regard for honour. All the old objections to an invasion of Scotland
still subsisted in full strength, and were reinforced by others. It was
better to wait for an attack which might never come than go half-way to
meet it. An invasion of Scotland might drive the northern earls to
declare for Mary, which, unless compelled to choose sides, they might
never do. Some people are more perturbed by the expectation and
uncertainty of danger than by its declared presence. Not so Elizabeth.
Smouldering treason she could take coolly as long as it only smouldered.
As for the betrayal of the Scotch refugees, Elizabeth never allowed the
private interests of her own subjects, much less those of foreigners, to
weigh against the interests of England. Moray one of the most
magnanimous and self-sacrificing of statesmen, evidently felt that
Elizabeth’s course was wise, if not exactly chivalrous. He submitted to
her public rebuke without publicly contradicting her, and waited
patiently in exile till it should be convenient for her to help him and
his cause. Mary, too, though elated by her success, and never abandoning
her intention to push it further, found it best to halt for a while.
Philip wrote to her that he would help her secretly with money if
Elizabeth attacked her, but not otherwise, and warned her against any
premature clutch at the English crown. Elizabeth’s seeming tameness
could hardly have received a more complete justification.

Mary had determined to espouse Darnley, before she had set eyes on him,
for purely political reasons. There is no reason to suppose she ever
cared for him. It is more likely, as Mr. Froude suggests, that for a
great political purpose she was doing an act which in itself she
loathed. A woman of twenty-two, already a widow, mature beyond her
years, exceptionally able, absorbed in the great game of politics, and
accustomed to admiration, was not likely to care for a raw lad of
nineteen, foolish, ignorant, ill-conditioned, vicious, and without a
single manly quality. One man we know she did love later on--loved
passionately and devotedly, no slim girl-faced youngster, but the
fierce, stout-limbed, dare-devil Bothwell; and Bothwell gradually made
his way to her heart by his readiness to undertake every desperate
service she required of him. What Mary admired, nay envied, in the other
sex was the stout heart and the strong arm. She loved herself to rough
it on the war-path. She surprised Randolph by her spirit:--“Never
thought I that stomach to be in her that I find. She repented nothing
but, when the Lords and others came in the morning from the watches,
that she was not a man, to know what life it was to lie all night in the
fields or to walk upon the causeway with a jack and a knapscap, a
Glasgow buckler and a broadsword.” “She desires much,” says Knollys, “to
hear of hardiness and valiancy, commending by name all approved hardy
men of her country, although they be her enemies; and she concealeth no
cowardice even in her friends.” Valuable to Mary as a man of action,
Bothwell was not worth much as an adviser. For advice she looked to the
Italian Rizzio, in whom she confided because, with the detachment of a
foreigner, he regarded Scotch ambitions, animosities, and intrigues only
as so much material to be utilised for the purpose of the combined
onslaught on Protestantism which the Pope was trying to organise.
Bothwell was at this time thirty, and Rizzio, according to Lesley,

In spite of all the prurient suggestions of writers who have fastened on
the story of Mary’s life as on a savoury morsel, there is no reason
whatever for thinking that she was a woman of a licentious disposition,
and there is strong evidence to the contrary. There was never anything
to her discredit in France. Her behaviour in the affair of Chastelard
was irreproachable. The charge of adultery with Rizzio is dismissed as
unworthy of belief even by Mr. Froude, the severest of her judges.
Bothwell indeed she loved, and, like many another woman who does not
deserve to be called licentious, she sacrificed her reputation to the
man she loved. But the most conclusive proof that she was no slave to
appetite is afforded by her nineteen years’ residence in England, which
began when she was only twenty-five. During almost the whole of that
time she was mixing freely in the society of the other sex, with the
fullest opportunity for misconduct had she been so inclined. It is not
to be supposed that she was fettered by any scruples of religion or
morality. Yet no charge of unchastity is made against her.

When Darnley found that his wife, though she conferred on him the title
of King, did not procure for him the crown matrimonial or allow him the
smallest authority, he gave free vent to his anger. No less angry were
his kinsmen, Morton, Ruthven, and Lindsay. They had deserted the
Congregation in the expectation that when Darnley was King they would be
all-powerful. Instead of this they found themselves neglected; while the
Queen’s confidence was given to Catholics and to Bothwell, who, though
nominally a Protestant, always acted with the Catholics. The Protestant
seceders had in fact fallen between two stools. It was against Rizzio
that their rage burnt fiercest. Bothwell was only a bull-headed,
blundering swordsman. Rizzio was doubly detestable to them as the brain
of the Queen’s clique and as a low-born foreigner. Rizzio, therefore,
they determined to remove in the time-honoured Scottish fashion. Notice
of the day fixed for the murder was sent to the banished noblemen in
England, so that they might appear in Edinburgh immediately it was
accomplished Randolph, the English ambassador, and Bedford, who
commanded on the Border, were also taken into the secret, and they
communicated it to Cecil and Leicester.

It is unnecessary here to repeat the well-known story of the murder of
Rizzio. It was part of a large scheme for bringing back the exiled
Protestant lords, closing the split in the Protestant party, and
securing the ascendancy of the Protestant religion. At first it appeared
to have succeeded. Bedford wrote to Cecil that “everything would now go
well.” But Mary, by simulating a return of wifely fondness, managed to
detach her weak husband from his confederates. By his aid she escaped
from their hands. Bothwell and her Catholic friends gathered round her
in arms. In a few days she re-entered Edinburgh in triumph, and Rizzio’s
murderers had to take refuge in England.

But if the Protestant stroke had failed, Mary was obliged to recognise
that her plan for re-establishing the Catholic ascendancy in Scotland
could not be rushed in the high-handed way she had proposed as a mere
preliminary to the more important subjugation of England. At the very
moment when she seemed to stand victorious over all opposition, the
ground had yawned under her feet, and, while she was dreaming of
dethroning Elizabeth, she had found herself a helpless captive in the
hands of her own subjects. The lesson was a valuable one, and if she
could profit by it her prospects had never been so good. The barbarous
outrage of which, in the sixth month of pregnancy, she had been the
object could not but arouse wide-spread sympathy for her. She had
extricated herself from her difficulties with splendid courage and
cleverness. The loss of such an adviser as Rizzio was really a stroke
of luck for her. All she had to do was to abandon, or at all events
postpone, her design of re-establishing the Catholic religion in
Scotland, and to discontinue her intrigues against Elizabeth.

Her prospects in England were still further improved when she gave birth
to a son (June 19, 1566). Once more there was an heir-male to the old
royal line, and, as Elizabeth continued to evade marriage, most people
who were not fierce Protestants began to think it would be more
reasonable and safe to abide by the rule of primogeniture than by the
will of Henry VIII., sanctioned though it was by Act of Parliament.
There can be no doubt that this was the opinion and intention of
Elizabeth, though she strongly objected to having anything settled
during her own lifetime. But she had herself gone a long way towards
settling it by her treatment of Mary’s only serious competitor.
Catherine Grey had contracted a secret marriage with the Earl of
Hertford, son of the Protector Somerset. Her pregnancy necessitated an
avowal. The clergyman who had married them was not forthcoming, and
Hertford’s sister, the only witness, was dead. Elizabeth chose to
disbelieve their story, though she would not have been able to prove
when, where, or by whom her own father and mother had been married. She
had a right to be angry; but when she sent the unhappy couple to the
Tower, and caused her tool, Archbishop Parker, to pronounce the union
invalid and its offspring illegitimate, she was playing Mary’s game. The
House of Commons elected in 1563 was still undissolved. It was strongly
Protestant, and it favoured Catherine’s title even after her disgrace.
In its second session, in the autumn of 1566, it made a determined
effort to compel Elizabeth to marry, and in the meanwhile to recognise
Catherine as the heir-presumptive. The zealous Protestants knew well
that the Peers were in favour of the Stuart title, and they feared that
a new House of Commons might agree with the Peers. To get rid of their
pertinacity Elizabeth dissolved Parliament, not without strong
expressions of displeasure (Jan. 2, 1567). Cecil himself earned the
thanks of Mary for his attitude on this occasion. It cannot be doubted
that he dreaded her succession; but he saw which way the tide was
running, and he thought it prudent to swim with it.

It was at this moment that Mary flung away all her advantage, and
entered on the fatal course which led to her ruin. Her loathing for
Darnley, her fierce desire to avenge on him the insults and outrage she
had suffered, left no room in heart or mind for considerations of
policy. She would have been glad to obtain a divorce. But the Catholic
Church does not grant divorce for misconduct after marriage. Some
pretext must be found for alleging that the marriage was null from the
beginning. This did not suit Mary. It would have made her son
illegitimate, and would have placed her in exactly the position of
Catherine Grey. A mere separation _a toro_ would not have suited her any
better, for it would not have enabled her to contract another marriage.

When Mary’s reliance on Bothwell grew into attachment, when her
attachment warmed into love, it is impossible to fix with any exactness.
Her infatuation presented itself to him as a grand opening for his
daring ambition. A notorious profligate, he loved her--if the word is to
be so degraded--as much or as little as he had loved twenty other women.
What, however, he desired in her case, was marriage. A more sensible man
would have foreseen that marriage would mean certain ruin for himself
and the Queen. But he was accustomed to despise all difficulties in his
path, being intellectually incapable of measuring them, and believing in
nothing but audacity and brute force. Husband of the Queen, why should
he not be master of the kingdom? Why not King? When such an idea had
once occurred to Bothwell, Darnley’s expectancy of life would be much
the same as that of a calf in the presence of the butcher.

The wretched victim had alienated all his friends among the nobility.
Some owed him a deadly grudge for his treachery. Others had been
offended by his insolence. To all he was an encumbrance and a nuisance.
Several, therefore, of the leading personages were more or less engaged
in the compact for putting him out of the way. Moray, Argyll, and
Maitland offered to assist in ridding Mary of her husband by way of a
Protestant sentence of divorce, on condition that Morton and his friends
in exile should be pardoned and recalled. The bargain was struck, and
Mary assented to it. Nothing was said about murder. No one had any
interest in murder except Mary and Bothwell, whose project of marriage
was as yet unsuspected. At the same time, if Bothwell liked to kill
Darnley on his own responsibility, as no doubt he made it pretty plain
that he would--why, so much the better. It relieved the other lords of
all trouble. It was a simple, thorough, old-fashioned expedient, which
had never been attended with any discredit in Scotland, and had only one
inconvenience--that it usually saddled the murderer with a blood feud.
In the present case Lennox was the only peer who would feel the least
aggrieved; and he was in no condition to wage blood-feuds. Anyhow, that
was Bothwell’s look-out.

So obvious was all this that it was hardly worth while to observe
secrecy except as to the exact occasion and mode of execution. Many
persons were more or less aware of what was going to be done; but none
cared to interfere. Moray was an honourable and conscientious man, if
judged by the standard of his environment--the only fair way of
estimating character. But Moray chose to leave Edinburgh the morning
before the deed; and thought it sufficient to be able to say afterwards
that “if any man said he was present when purposes [talk] were held in
his audience tending to any unlawful or dishonourable end, he spoke
wickedly and untruly.” The inner circle of the plot consisted of
Bothwell, Argyll, Huntly, Maitland, and Sir James Balfour.

That Darnley was murdered by Bothwell is not disputed. That Mary was
cognisant of the plot, and lured him to the shambles, has been doubted
by few investigators at once competent and unbiassed. She lent herself
to this part not without compunction. Bothwell had the advantage over
her that the loved has over the lover; and he used it mercilessly for
his headlong ambition, hardly taking the trouble to pretend that he
cared for the unhappy woman who was sacrificing everything for him. He
in fact cared more for his lawful wife, whom he was preparing to
divorce, and to whom he had been married only six months. Mary was
tormented by jealousy of her after the divorce as well as before.

The murder of Darnley (Feb. 10, 1567) was universally ascribed to Mary
at the time by Catholics as well as Protestants at home and abroad, and
it fatally damaged her cause in England and the rest of Europe. In
Scotland itself--such was the backward and barbarous state of the
country--it would probably not have shaken her throne if she had
followed it up with firm and prudent government. She might even have
indulged her illicit passion for Bothwell, with little pretence of
concealment, if she had not advanced him in place and power above his
equals. There was probably not a noble in Scotland, from Moray
downwards, who would have scrupled to be her Minister. The Protestant
commonalty indeed, who with all the national laxity as to the observance
of the sixth commandment, were shocked by any trifling with the seventh,
would no doubt have made their bark heard. But their bite had not yet
become formidable; and in any case they were not to be propitiated.

What brought sudden and irretrievable ruin on Mary was not the murder of
Darnley, but the infatuation which made her the passive instrument of
Bothwell’s presumptuous ambition. The lords, Catholic and Protestant
alike, allowed the murder to pass uncondemned and unpunished; but they
were furious when they found that Darnley had only been removed to make
room for Bothwell, and that they were to have for their master a noble
of by no means the highest lineage, bankrupt in fortune, and generally
disliked for his arrogant and bullying demeanour. The project of
marriage was not disclosed till ten weeks after the murder (April 19,
1567). Five days later, Bothwell, fearing lest he should be frustrated
by public indignation or interference from England, carried off the
Queen, as had been previously arranged between them. His idea was that,
when Mary had been thus publicly outraged, it would be recognised as
impossible that she should marry any one but the ravisher. In this
coarse expedient, as in the clumsy means employed for disposing of
Darnley, we see the blundering fool-hardiness of the man. The marriage
ceremony was performed as soon as Bothwell’s divorce could be managed
(May 15). Just a month later Mary surrendered to the insurgent lords at
Carberry Hill, and Bothwell, flying for his life, disappears from

The feelings with which Elizabeth had contemplated the course of events
in Scotland during the last six months were no doubt of a mixed nature.
At the beginning of 1567, her seven-years’ duel with Mary appeared to be
ending in defeat. The last bold thrust, aimed in her interest if not by
her hand--the murder of Rizzio--had not improved her position. It seemed
that she would soon be obliged to make her choice between two equally
dreaded alternatives: she must either recognise Mary as her heir or take
a husband. From this unpleasant dilemma she was released by the headlong
descent of her rival in the first six months of 1567. But all other
feelings were soon swallowed up in alarm and indignation at the
spectacle of subjects in revolt against their sovereign. As tidings came
in rapid succession of Mary’s surrender at Carberry Hill, of her return
to Edinburgh amidst the insults and threats of the Calvinist mob, of her
imprisonment at Loch Leven, of the proposal to try and execute her,
Elizabeth’s anger waxed hotter, and she told the Scotch lords in her
most imperious tones that she could not, and would not, permit them to
use force with their sovereign. If they deposed or punished her, she
would revenge it upon them. If they could not prevail on her to do what
was right, they must “remit themselves to Almighty God, in whose hands
only princes’ hearts remain.”

This language, addressed as it was to the only men in Scotland who were
disposed to support the English interest, was imprudent. In her
fellow-feeling for a sister sovereign, and her keen perception of the
revolutionary tendencies of the time, Elizabeth spoilt an unique
opportunity of placing her relations with Scotland on a footing of
permanent security, of providing for the English succession in a way at
once advantageous to the nation and free from risk to her own life, and
lastly, of escaping from the constant worry about her own marriage. She
had seen clearly enough what might be made of the situation. Throgmorton
had been despatched to Scotland with instructions to do his best to get
the infant Prince confided to her care. Once in England, she would
virtually have adopted him. She would have possessed a son and heir
without the inconvenience of marriage. To a Parliamentary recognition,
indeed, of his title she would assuredly not have consented. It would
have made him independent and dangerous. But if he behaved well to her,
his succession would be more certain than any Act of Parliament could
make it. Mary, if released and restored to power, would no longer be
formidable. If she were deposed or put to death, Elizabeth would
indirectly govern Scotland, at all events, till James should be of age.

This splendid opportunity Elizabeth lost by her peremptory and
domineering language. The old Scotch pride took fire. The Anglophile
lords, who would have been glad enough to send the young Prince to
England, could not afford to appear less patriotic than the
Francophiles. Throgmorton’s attempt to get hold of James was as
unsuccessful as that of the Protector Somerset to get hold of James’s
mother had been twenty years before. He was told that, before the Prince
could be sent to England, his title to the English succession must be
recognised; a condition which Elizabeth could not grant. Her claim that
Mary should be restored without conditions was equally unacceptable to
the Anglophile lords. They might have been induced to release her if she
would have consented to give up Bothwell, or if they could have caught
and hanged him. But such was her devotion to him, that no threats or
promises availed to shake it. It was in vain that they offered to
produce letters of his to the divorced Lady Bothwell, in which he
assured her that he regarded her still as his lawful wife, and Mary
only as his concubine. The unhappy Queen had been aware even before her
marriage--as a pathetic letter to Bothwell shows--that her passionate
love was not returned. Two days after the marriage, his unkindness had
driven her to think of suicide. But nothing they could say could shake
her constancy. “She would not consent by any persuasion to abandon the
Lord Bothwell for her husband. She would live and die with him. If it
were put to her choice to relinquish her crown and kingdom or the Lord
Bothwell, she would leave her kingdom and dignity to go as a simple
damsel with him; and she will never consent that he shall fare worse or
have more harm than herself. Let them put Bothwell and herself on board
ship to go wherever fortune might carry them.” This temper made it
difficult for the Anglophile lords to know what to do with the prisoner
of Loch Leven. They were disappointed and angry that Elizabeth, instead
of approving their enterprise, and sending the money for which, as
usual, they were begging, should treat them as rebels, and even secretly
urge the Hamiltons to rescue Mary by force. The Hamiltons were in arms
at Dumbarton. They wanted either that the Prince should be proclaimed
King, with the Duke of Chatelherault for Regent, or that Mary should be
divorced from Bothwell and married to Lord John Hamilton, the Duke’s
second son, and, in default of the crazy Arran, his destined successor.
With Argyll, too, disgust at Mary’s crime was tempered by a desire to
marry her to his brother. Lady Douglas of Loch Leven herself, for whom
Sir Walter Scott has invented such magnificent tirades, desired nothing
better than to be her mother-in-law.

The prompt action of the confederate lords foiled these schemes. By the
threat of a public trial on the charge of complicity in her husband’s
murder, or, as her advocates believe, by the fear of instant death, Mary
was compelled to abdicate in favour of her son, and to nominate Moray
Regent (July 29, 1567). Elizabeth would not recognise him; partly from a
natural fear lest she should be suspected of having been in collusion
with him all along, partly from genuine abhorrence of such revolutionary
proceedings. The French Government, on the other hand, casting principle
and sentiment alike to the winds, courted his alliance. He might keep
his sister in prison, or put her to death, or send her to be immured in
a French convent: only let him embrace the French interests, and an army
should be sent to support him--a Huguenot army if he did not like
Catholics. But Moray turned a deaf ear to these solicitations, and
waited patiently till Elizabeth’s ill-humour should give way to more
statesmanlike considerations.

The escape of Mary from Loch Leven (May 2, 1568), and the rising of the
Hamiltons in her favour, were largely due to the unfriendly attitude
assumed by Elizabeth to the Regent’s government. After the defeat of
Langside (May 13) it would perhaps have been difficult for the fugitive
Queen to make her way to France or Spain. But it was not the difficulty
which deterred her from making the attempt. Both Catherine and Philip,
later on, were disposed to befriend her, or, rather, to make use of her;
but at the time of her escape from Scotland, she had nothing to expect
from them but severity. Elizabeth was the only sovereign who had tried
to help her. Moreover, Mary had always laboured under the delusion that
because most Englishmen regarded her as the next heir to the crown, and
a great many preferred the old religion to the new, she had as good a
party in England as Elizabeth herself, if not a better. During her
prosperity, she had made repeated applications to be allowed to visit
the southern kingdom. She was convinced that, if she once appeared on
English ground, Elizabeth’s throne would be shaken; and Elizabeth’s
unwillingness to receive the visit had confirmed her in her belief. If
she now crossed the Solway without waiting for the permission which she
had requested by letter, it was not because she was hard pressed. The
Regent had gone to Edinburgh after the battle. At Dundrennan, among the
Catholic Maxwells, Lord Herries guaranteed her safety for forty days;
and, at an hour’s notice, a boat would place her beyond pursuit. Her
haste was rather prompted by the expectation that Elizabeth, alarmed by
her application, would refuse to receive her.

To Elizabeth the arrival of the Scottish Queen was, indeed, as unwelcome
as it was unexpected. For ten years she had governed successfully,
because she had managed to hold an even course between conflicting
principles and parties, and to avoid taking up a decisive attitude on
the most burning questions. The very indecision, which was the weak spot
in her character, and which so fretted her Ministers, had, it must be
confessed, contributed something to the result. Cecil might groan over
a policy of letting things drift. But it may be doubted whether they had
not often drifted better than Cecil would have steered them if he might
have had his way. To do nothing is not, indeed, the golden rule of
statesmanship. But at that time, England’s peculiar position between
France and Spain, and between Calvinism and Catholicism, enabled her
ruler to play a waiting game. This was the general rule applicable to
the situation. Elizabeth apprehended it more clearly than her Ministers
did, and she fell back on it again and again, when they flattered
themselves that they had committed her to a forward policy. It was safe.
It was cheap. It required coolness and intrepidity--qualities with which
Elizabeth was well furnished by nature. But it was not spirited: it was
not showy. Hence it has not found favour with historians, who insist
that it ought to have ended in disaster. As a matter of fact, England
was carried safely through unparalleled difficulties; and, when all is
said, Elizabeth is entitled to be judged by the general result of her
long reign.

Mary’s arrival was unwelcome to Elizabeth, because it seemed likely to
force her hand. To do nothing would be no longer possible. The Catholic
nobles and gentry of the north flocked to Carlisle to pay court to the
heiress of the English crown. It was not that they believed her innocent
of her husband’s murder. The suspicion of her complicity was at that
time universal. But they supposed that it would never amount to more
than a suspicion. They did not expect that the charge would ever be
formally made. They were not aware that it could be supported by
overwhelming evidence. Later on, when the proofs were produced, they had
already committed themselves to her cause, and were bound not to be

If the attitude of these Catholics be thought to indicate some moral
callousness, it may be fairly argued that it was less cynical than that
of Elizabeth herself, who, while not unwilling that Mary should be
suspected, would not allow her to be convicted. Steady to her main
purpose, though hesitating, and even vacillating, in the means she
adopted, she still adhered, notwithstanding all that had lately taken
place, to her intention that Mary, if her survivor, should be her
successor. Like all the greatest statesmen of her time, she placed
secular interests before religious opinions. She was persuaded that the
maintenance of the principle of authority was all-important. Nothing
else could hold society together or prevent the rival fanaticisms from
tearing each other to pieces. For authority there was no other basis
left than the principle of hereditary succession by primogeniture. This
principle must, therefore, be treated as something sacred--not to be set
aside or tampered with in a short-sighted grasping at any seeming
immediate utility. To allow it to be called in question was to shake her
own title. Already, in France, the Jesuits were preaching that orthodoxy
and the will of the people were the only legitimate foundation of
sovereignty. Few English Catholics had learned that doctrine; but they
would not be slow to learn it if the hereditary claim of Mary was to be
set aside.

If Mary had been content to claim what primogeniture gave her--the
right to the succession--there would have been no quarrel between her
and Elizabeth. But it was notorious that she had all along been plotting
to substitute herself for Elizabeth. Never had she cherished that dream
with more confidence than when the Percys and Nevilles crowded round her
at Carlisle. In her sanguine imagination, she already saw herself
mistress of a finer kingdom than that which had just expelled her, and
marching, at the head of her new subjects, to wreak vengeance on her old
ones. She seemed likely to be no less dangerous as an exile in England
than as a Queen in Scotland.

Elizabeth had now reason to regret the unnecessary warmth with which she
had espoused Mary’s cause. To suppose that she had any sentimental
feelings for one whom she knew to be her deadly enemy is, in my
judgment, ridiculous. Elizabeth was not a generous woman--especially
towards other women; and in this case generosity would have been folly,
and culpable folly. She did not hate Mary--she was too cool and
self-reliant to hate an enemy--but she disliked her. She was jealous,
with a small feminine jealousy, of her beauty and fascinations. The
consciousness of this unworthy feeling made her all the more anxious not
to betray it. And so, at a time when she did not expect to have Mary on
her hands, she had been tempted to use language implying a pity,
sympathy, and affection which assuredly she did not feel, and which it
would not have been creditable to her to feel. Petty insincerities of
this kind have usually to be paid for sooner or later. She had now to
exchange the language of sympathy for the language of business with
what grace she could; and she has not escaped the charge, certainly
undeserved, of deliberate treachery. It was awkward, after such
exaggerated professions of sympathy, to be obliged to hold the fugitive
at arm’s-length, and even to put restraint on her movements. But no
other course was possible. No sovereign, at any time in history, has
allowed a pretender to the crown to move about freely in his dominions
and make a party among his subjects.

Wince as she might, and did, under the reproach of treachery, Elizabeth
was not going to allow her unwise words to tie her to unwise action.
Only one arrangement appeared to her to be at once admissible in
principle and prudent in practice. Mary must be restored to the Scottish
throne; but in such a way that she should thenceforth be powerless for
mischief. She must be content with the title of Queen. The real
government must be in the hands of Moray. Thus the principle of
legitimacy and the sacredness of royalty would be saved, and the English
Catholics would be content to bide their time.

Cecil, for his part, was also anxious to see Mary back in Scotland; but
not as Queen. Though regarded in Catholic circles as a desperate
heretic, he was really a _politique_, a worldly-minded man--I mean the
epithet to be laudatory--and he would probably have admitted in the
abstract the wisdom of Elizabeth’s opinion--that it was of more
importance to England to have a legitimate sovereign than a gospel
religion. But he was not prepared to submit frankly to the application
of this principle. His personal prospects were too deeply concerned. It
was all very well for Elizabeth to lay down a principle in which she
might be said to have a life-interest. She was thirteen years his
junior; but she might easily predecease him; and, with Mary on the
throne, his power would certainly go, and, not improbably, his head with
it. It was not in human nature, therefore, that he should cherish the
principle of primogeniture as his mistress did; and, as far as his dread
of her displeasure would allow him, he was always casting about for some
means of defeating Mary’s reversion. Her sudden plunge into crime was to
him a turn of good fortune beyond his dreams. If he could have had his
will she would have been promptly handed over to the Regent on the
understanding that she was to be consigned to perpetual imprisonment,
or, still better, to the scaffold.

In order to carry out her plan, Elizabeth called on Mary and the Regent
to submit their respective cases to a Commission, consisting of the Duke
of Norfolk, the Earl of Sussex, and Sir Ralph Sadler. Mary was extremely
reluctant, as she well might be, to face any investigation; but she was
told that, until her character was formally cleared, she could not be
admitted to Elizabeth’s presence; and she was at the same time privately
assured that her restoration should, in any case, be managed without any
damage to her honour. Moray received an equally positive assurance that
if his sister was proved guilty, she should not be restored. The two
statements were not absolutely irreconcilable, because Elizabeth
intended to prevent the worst charges from being openly proved. Her
sole object--and we can hardly blame her--was to obtain security for
herself and her own kingdom. She did not wish the Queen of Scots to be
proved a murderess in open court; but she did desire that the charge
should be made, and also that the Commissioners should see the originals
of the casket letters. Any public disclosure of the evidence might be
prevented, and some sort of ambiguous acquittal pronounced, on grounds
which all the world would see to be nugatory: such, for instance, as the
culprit’s own solemn denial of the charge; which was, in fact, the only
answer Mary intended to make. What was known to the Commissioners would
come to be more or less known to all persons of influence in England,
and would surely discredit Mary to such a degree that even her warmest
partisans would cease to conspire in her favour. Mary herself (so
Elizabeth hoped), when made aware that this terrible weapon was in
reserve, and could at any moment be used against her, would be
permanently humbled and crippled, and would be glad to accept such terms
as Elizabeth would impose.

The Commissioners opened their court at York (October 1568). But they
had not been sitting long before Elizabeth discovered that Norfolk was
scheming to marry Mary, and that the project was approved by many of the
English nobility. Their purpose was not, as yet, disloyal. They thought
that, married to the head of the English peerage, and residing in
England, Mary would have to give up her plots with France, while her
presence would strengthen the Conservative party, which desired to keep
up the old alliance with Spain, and looked for the re-establishment
sooner or later of the old religion. This scheme, though not disloyal,
was extremely alarming to Elizabeth. Norfolk was nominally a Protestant.
But she had placed him on the Commission as a representative of the
Conservative party, believing that, while he would lend himself to
hushing up Mary’s guilt, his eyes would be opened to her real character.
Yet here he was, like the Hamiltons, Campbells, and Douglases, ready to
take her with her smirched reputation, simply for the chance of her two
crowns. It was not a case of love, for he had never seen her. He seems
to have been staggered for a moment by the sight of the casket letters,
and to have doubted whether it was for his honour or even his safety to
marry such a woman. But in the end, as we shall see, he swallowed his

On discovering Norfolk’s intrigue, Elizabeth hastily revoked the
Commission, and ordered another investigation to be held by the most
important peers and statesmen of England. The casket letters and the
depositions were submitted to them. Mary’s able and zealous advocate,
the Bishop of Ross, could say nothing except that his mistress had sent
him on the supposition that Moray was to be the defendant: let her
appear in person before the Queen, and she would give reasons why Moray
ought not to be allowed to advance any charges against her. To make no
better answer than this was virtually to admit that the charges against
her were unanswerable.

It was thought that she was now sufficiently frightened to be ready to
accept Elizabeth’s terms, and they were unofficially communicated to
her. Her return to Scotland was no longer contemplated, for Moray had
absolutely declined to charge her openly with the murder or produce the
letters unless she were detained in England. But in order to get rid of
the revolutionary proceedings at Loch Leven she herself, as it were of
her own free will, and on the ground that she was weary of government,
was to confer the crown on her son and the regency on Moray. James was
to be educated in England. She herself was to reside in England as long
as Elizabeth should find it convenient. It was not mentioned in the
communication, but it was probably intended, that she should marry some
Englishman of no political importance, in order to produce more children
who would succeed James if, as was likely enough, he should die in his
infancy. If she would accept these conditions the charges against her
should be “committed to perpetual silence;” if not, the trial must go
on, and the verdict could not be doubtful (December 1568).

A woman less daring and less keen-sighted than Mary would assuredly, at
this point, have given up the game, and thankfully accepted the
conditions offered. They would not have prevented her from ascending the
English throne if she had outlived Elizabeth. But that was a delay which
she had always scouted as intolerable, and she was one to whom life was
worth nothing if it meant defeat, retirement, even for a time, from the
public scene, and the abandonment of long-cherished ambitions. Moreover
her quick wit had divined that Elizabeth was using a threat which she
did not mean to put into execution. There would be no verdict--not even
any publication to the world of the evidence. Guilty therefore as she
was, and aware that her guilt could be proved, she coolly faced “the
great extremities” at which Elizabeth had hinted, and rejected the

Perhaps even Mary’s daring would have flinched from this bold game but
for a quarrel between Elizabeth and Philip, to be mentioned presently.
Hitherto Philip, much to his credit, had declined to interfere in Mary’s
behalf. To him, as to every one else, Catholic as well as Protestant,
her guilt seemed evident. She had been only a scandal and embarrassment
to the Catholic cause. But if there was to be war with England, every
enemy of Elizabeth was a weapon to be used. Accordingly he now began,
though reluctantly, to think of helping the Queen of Scots, and even of
marrying her to his brother Don John of Austria. With the prospect of
such backing it was not wonderful that she declined to own herself

Elizabeth’s calculations, though reasonable, were thus disappointed. The
inquiry was dropped without any decision. The Regent was sent home with
a small sum of money, and Mary remained in England (January 1569).



From the beginning of the reign Cecil had never ceased to impress upon
his mistress that a French or Spanish invasion on behalf of the Pope
might at any time be expected, and that she should hurry to meet it by
forming a league with the foreign Protestants of both Confessions, and
vigorously assisting them to carry on a war of religion on the
Continent. He was assuredly too well informed to believe that France and
Spain would cease to counteract each other’s designs on England, or that
Lutherans and Calvinists would heartily combine for mutual defence. The
enemies he really feared were his Catholic countrymen, with whom he
would have to fight for his head if Elizabeth should die. He therefore
desired to force on the struggle in her lifetime, when they would be
rebels, and he would wield the power of the Crown.

Elizabeth, on the other hand, was against interference on the Continent,
because it would be the surest way to bring upon England the calamity of
invasion. She saw as plainly as Cecil did that it would compel her to
throw herself into the arms of her own Protestants and to become, like
her two predecessors, the mere chief of a party; whereas she meant to be
the Queen of all Englishmen, and to tranquillise the natural fears of
each party by letting it see that it would not be sacrificed to the
violence of the other. Moreover the unbridled ascendancy of the
Protestants would mean such alterations in the established worship as
would have driven from the parish churches thousands of the most
military class, peers, squires and their tenantry, who were enduring
Anglicanism with its episcopate, its semi-Catholic prayer-book, and its
claim to belong to the Universal Apostolic Church, because they could
persuade themselves that its variations from the old religion were
unimportant and temporary. And this again would increase the probability
of foreign invasion. For, though to Philip all forms of heresy were
equally damnable and equally marked out for extermination sooner or
later, yet he was in much less hurry to begin with the politically
harmless Lutherans or Anglicans than with the dangerous levellers who
derived their inspiration from Geneva. Now for Elizabeth to gain time
was everything. She had gained ten precious years already by her
moderation. She was to gain twenty more before the slow-moving Spaniard
decided to launch the great Armada.

But though Elizabeth shunned war with Spain she nevertheless recognised
that Philip was the enemy, and that all ways of damaging him short of
war were for her advantage. English and Huguenot corsairs swarmed in the
Channel. Spanish ships were seized. The crews were hanged or made to
walk the plank; the prizes were carried into English ports, and there
sold without disguise or rebuke. These outrages were represented as
reprisals for cruelties inflicted on English sailors who occasionally
fell into the hands of the Inquisition. Practically a ship with a
valuable cargo was treated as fair game whatever its nationality. But
while in the case of other countries it was only individual traders who
suffered, to Spain it meant obstruction of her high road to her Belgic
dominions, then simmering with disaffection.

The English nobles of the old blood disliked these proceedings. Even
Cecil did not conceal from himself that they fostered a spirit of
lawlessness. What the corsairs were doing he would have preferred to see
done by the royal navy. To that Elizabeth would not consent. The
activity of the corsairs gave her all the advantage she could hope to
have from war, without any of its disadvantages. Instead of laying out
her treasure on a navy, she was deriving an income from the piratical
ventures of Hawkins and Drake; while the ships and sailors of this
volunteer navy would be available for the defence of the country
whenever the need should arise. Whatever may be thought of the morality
of her plan, there can be no question as to its efficiency and economy.

Since even these outrages, exasperating as they were, had not goaded
Philip to the point of declaring war, a still more daring provocation
now followed. Some ships, conveying a large sum of money borrowed by
Philip in Genoa for the payment of Alva’s army, having put into English
ports to avoid the corsairs, Elizabeth, with the hearty approval of
Cecil, took possession of the money, and said she would herself borrow
it from the Genoese (December 1568). The Minister hoped this would bring
on a war. The Queen audaciously but more correctly anticipated that
Philip’s resentment would still stop short of that extremity. He
remonstrated: he threatened: he seized all English ships and sailors in
his ports. Elizabeth, undismayed, swept all the Spaniards and Flemings
whom she could find in London into her prisons, and seized their goods,
to a value far greater than that of the English property in Philip’s

In striking contrast with this unflinching attitude towards Spain was
the behaviour of Elizabeth when threatened with war by France, unless
she undertook to close her harbours to the Huguenots, and to forbid her
own corsairs to prey on French commerce. The summons was promptly
obeyed. Full satisfaction was made (April 1569). Yet France was at the
moment a far less formidable antagonist than Spain. The French
government did not possess the means of invading England. On this side
of the Channel the old anti-French feeling was so persistent that all
parties were ready and willing for the fray. The defeat of the Huguenots
at Jarnac (April 1569) may have had something to do with Elizabeth’s
compliance. But what influenced her still more was her perception that
war with France would compel her to place herself under the protection
of Spain; whereas she desired to keep Spain at arm’s-length, and to
maintain a good understanding with France, as did Eliot, Pym, and
Cromwell afterwards, regardless of the rooted prejudices of their
countrymen. Elizabeth probably stood alone in her judgment on this

The quarrel with Philip had more serious results at home than abroad. It
was indirectly the cause of the only English rebellion that disturbed
the long reign of Elizabeth.

Most of the nobility and gentry, even when professedly Protestants,
regretted the alienation of England from the Universal Church. If they
had all pulled together they must have had their way, for they were the
military and political class. But their discontent varied widely in its
intensity. There were nobles like Sussex who were resolved to serve
their Queen loyally and zealously, but who, all the same, wished her to
cultivate a good understanding with Philip, to marry the Archduke, to
abstain from assisting the Huguenots, to give no countenance to the
rovers, to recognise Mary as her heir-presumptive and marry her to
Norfolk. There were others like Norfolk, Montagu, Arundel, and
Southampton, who had treasonable relations with the Spanish ambassador,
and aimed at overthrowing Cecil, marrying Mary to Norfolk, and
compelling the Queen to restore the Catholic worship, or at least to
make such changes in the Anglican model as would facilitate a reunion
with Rome when Mary should succeed. A third party, headed by the
Catholic lords of the north, was plotting to depose Elizabeth in favour
of Mary, and to marry the latter to Don John of Austria.

With these powerful nobles in opposition, who, before the Reformation,
could have hurled any sovereign from his throne, where was Elizabeth to
look for support? The town populations were Protestant--too Protestant
indeed for her taste. But the town populations were a minority, and
less military than the landowners and their tenants. She had her Cecils,
Bacons, Walsinghams, Hunsdons, Knollyses, Sadlers, Killegrews, Drurys,
capable and devoted servants, but new men without territorial wealth or
influence, and with no force except what they possessed as wielding the
power of the Crown. It would be difficult to name more than half-a-dozen
peers who zealously promoted her policy. Most of them looked on it
coldly, and would support her only as long as she seemed to be

Mary’s rejection of Elizabeth’s terms coincided with the quarrel with
Philip (December 1568). The disaffected nobles thought that the time was
now come for striking a blow. Conscious that the feudal devotion of the
gentry and yeomanry to their local chiefs had in Tudor times been
largely superseded by awe of the central government, they were
importuning Philip to give them the signal for rebellion by sending a
division of Alva’s army from the Netherlands. Philip, cautious as usual,
and afraid of driving England into alliance with France, declined to
send a soldier until either the Norfolk party had overthrown Cecil, or
the northern lords had carried off Mary. Between these two sets of
conspirators there was much jealousy and distrust. The Spanish
ambassador thought the southern scheme the most feasible. Not without
difficulty he persuaded the northern lords to wait till it should be
seen whether the Queen could be induced or compelled to sanction the
marriage of Mary with Norfolk. If she refused, they were to make a dash
on Wingfield, a seat of Lord Shrewsbury’s in Derbyshire where Mary was
staying, while Norfolk was to raise the eastern counties.

All through the summer of 1569 these plots were brewing. Three times
Norfolk and his father-in-law Arundel went to the Council with the
intention of arresting Cecil. Three times their hearts failed them. The
northern lords, who were not members of the Council, came up to London
to see Norfolk bell the cat, but went back, more suspicious than ever,
to make their own preparations. Cecil himself seems to have been
hedging. In his private advice to the Queen he was opposing the Norfolk
marriage, pointing out that free or in prison, married or single, in
England or in Scotland, Mary must always be dangerous, and breathing for
the first time the suggestion that she might lawfully be put to death in
England for complicity in English plots. In the Council he concurred in
a vote that she should be married to an Englishman--in other words, to

If Elizabeth could have felt any confidence in Norfolk’s loyalty, it
seems probable that much as she disliked the marriage she would have
yielded to the almost unanimous pronouncement of the nobility in its
favour. But a sure instinct warned her of her danger. “If she consented
she would be in the Tower before four months were over.” After much
deliberation she commanded the Duke on his allegiance to renounce his
project. He gave his promise, but soon retired to his own county, and
sent word to the northern earls that “he would stand and abide the
venture.” But while he was shivering and hesitating, Elizabeth, for
once, was all promptitude and decision. Mary was hurried to Tutbury
Castle. Arundel and Pembroke were summoned to Windsor, and kept under
surveillance. Norfolk himself came in quietly, and was lodged in the
Tower. Thus the southern conspiracy collapsed (September-October 1569).

The Catholic lords and gentlemen of the north who had been awaiting
Norfolk’s signal, were staggered by his tame surrender. Sussex, who was
in command at York, and who, being of the old blood himself, did not
care to see old houses crushed, advised Elizabeth to wink at their
half-begun treason, and be thankful it had not come to fighting. She
winked at the attempted flight to Alva of Southampton and Montagu, and
even affected to trust the latter with the command of the militia called
out in Sussex. She could afford to ignore the disaffection of a southern
noble. A Sussex squire or yeoman, even if he was not a Protestant, would
think twice before he cast in his lot with rebellion. The northern
counties were mainly Catholic. They were much behind the south in
civilisation. The Tudor sovereigns were never seen there. Great families
were still looked up to. Elizabeth knew that though rebellion might be
adjourned, might possibly never come off, it was a constant menace,
which crippled her policy. She determined therefore to have done with
it, once for all, and summoned Northumberland and Westmoreland to

Thus driven into a corner, the two earls burst into rebellion. They
entered Durham in arms, overthrew the communion table in the cathedral,
set up the old altar, and had mass said (Nov. 14, 1569). Next day they
marched south, with the object of rescuing Mary from Tutbury. But when
they were within fifty miles of that place, Shrewsbury and Huntingdon,
in obedience to hurried orders from London, conveyed her to Coventry.
Having thus missed their spring, the rebel earls halted irresolutely for
three days, and then turned back. Their followers dropped away from
them. Clinton and Warwick were on their track, with the musters of the
Midlands; and before the end of December they were fain to fly across
the Border. Northumberland was arrested by Moray. Two years later he was
given up to Elizabeth, and executed. Westmoreland, after being protected
for a time by Ker of Ferniehirst, escaped to the Netherlands, where he
died. England was not again disturbed by rebellion till the great civil

The failure of the northern earls to kindle a general rebellion was due
to the cautious and temporising policy for which Elizabeth has been so
severely blamed by heated partisans. The powerful party which preferred
a Spanish alliance, disliked religious innovation, and looked forward to
the succession of Mary, had not been driven to despair of accomplishing
those ends in a lawful way. Their avowed policy had not been
proscribed--had not even been repudiated. Some of their chief leaders
were on the Council--as we should say, were members of the Government;
others were employed and trusted and visited by the Queen. They objected
to being hurried into civil war by the northern lords, who were not of
the Council, who kept away from London, and were rebels by inheritance
and tradition. They would have nothing to do with the ill-advised
movement; and, as in those days neutrality in the presence of open
insurrection was no more permissible to a nobleman than it would be now
to an officer in the army, they had no choice but to range themselves on
the side of the Government. If Elizabeth had openly branded the Queen of
Scots as a murderess, if she had pointed to Huntingdon or the son of
Catherine Grey as her successor, if she had put herself at the head of a
Protestant league, she might possibly have come victorious out of a
civil war. But a civil war it would have been, and of the worst kind:
one party calling in the Spaniard, and the other, in all probability,
driven to call in the Frenchman.

The assassination of Moray a few weeks later (Jan. 23, 1570) was a
severe blow to Elizabeth, and an irreparable disaster to his own
country. An attempt has been made to create an impression that the
English Queen was somehow responsible for his death, because she did not
march an army into Scotland to support him. He no more wished to receive
an English army into Scotland than Elizabeth wished to send one. Therein
they were both of them wiser than the critics of their own day, or this.
What he did ask for was money, and the recognition of James. The request
for money Elizabeth was willing to consider, though, as a rule, she did
not believe in paying for any work she could get done gratis. The
recognition of James seems a very simple thing to the critics. But it
was as difficult for Elizabeth as the recognition of the Prince of
Bulgaria is now to Austria, and for similar reasons. She was under no
obligation whatever to Moray. His own interest compelled him to play
her game. But she well knew his value. On hearing of his death she shut
herself up in her chamber, exclaiming, with tears, that she had lost the
best friend she had in the world.

As long as Moray lived, and was able to keep the Marian lords in some
sort of check, Elizabeth judged, and rightly, that she had more to lose
than to gain by any open interference in Scotland. It was no business of
hers to put down anarchy there. Scotch anarchy did not imperil England.
What would imperil England would be the appearance of French troops in
Scotland; and she judged that nothing would be so likely to bring them
there as any pretension to establish an English protectorate. Her
Protestant councillors fretted at her _laisser faire_ policy. But then
they, for personal or at least for sectarian reasons, were eager for
that general European conflagration which she, with superior discernment
and larger patriotism, was trying to avert.

The death of Moray so weakened the King’s party that it became necessary
to give them a little help. Elizabeth gave it in such a way as she
thought would be least likely to excite the jealousy of France. She told
the new Regent Lennox that, though she could not send an army to support
him, she would send one to chastise the Hamiltons and the Borderers, who
were harbouring her rebel the Earl of Westmoreland, and, along with him,
making raids into England. This was done sharply and thoroughly. The
robber holds on the Border, and Hamilton Castle itself, were one after
another taken and blown up by the English Wardens of the Marches (April
and May 1570).

What Elizabeth desired more than anything else was to settle Scotch
affairs, in conjunction with France, on the terms that neither power
should interfere in Scotland. To Cecil this was unsatisfactory, because
the restoration of Mary, on any terms whatever, would, if she survived
Elizabeth, ensure her succession to the English throne, and the ruin of
Cecil himself. He did not want to conciliate Catholics at home or
abroad. He wanted to commit his mistress to an internecine war with
them. In an angry dispute with Arundel at the Council board about this
time, he blurted out his doctrine, that the Queen had no friends but the
Protestants, and that if she restored Mary she would lose them all. No
language could have been more displeasing to Elizabeth, especially in
the presence of crypto-Catholic lords, and she snubbed him unmercifully.
“Mr Secretary, I mean to have done with this business; I shall listen to
the proposals of the French King. I am not going to be tied any longer
to you and your brethren in Christ.”

The peace of St. Germain between the French court and the Huguenots
(August 8, 1570), and the disgrace of the Guises, were followed by
negotiations for a tripartite treaty between England, France, and
Scotland on the basis of the restoration of Mary. Elizabeth, of course,
insisted on the guarantees she had often sketched out. She was
willing--nay, anxious--to leave Scotland alone, if the French would do
the same. The French, on the other hand, felt that the equality of such
an arrangement was more seeming than real, because there were always
English troops lying at Berwick, within sixty miles of Edinburgh. They
haggled over the guarantees, and in the meantime, notwithstanding the
real desire of Catherine and Charles IX. to conclude an alliance with
Elizabeth against Philip, they continued to send money and encouragement
to the Marian lords in Scotland. For if, for any reason, the English
alliance should not come off, they meant to take up Mary’s cause in
earnest, and detach her from her Guise relations by marrying her to the
Duke of Anjou, afterwards Henry III.

All this was known to Elizabeth, and in her extreme anxiety for the
tripartite treaty, she thought the moment was come to dangle the bait
which she always reserved for occasions of special importance. She
informed the French ambassador that she was ready to marry Anjou
herself. It is not to be supposed that she had the least intention of
doing so. She had settled with herself from the first how she would get
out of her proposal when it had served its turn.

A minor motive for this move was the hope that it would reconcile her
Protestant councillors to the restoration of Mary. She did not succeed
with all of them. Some continued to mutter that Anjou was a Papist, that
tripartite treaties were a delusion, and that the only safe course was
to grasp the Scotch nettle and uphold James with the whole force of
England. But upon Cecil the effect was almost comical. He jumped at the
plan. Anything that was likely to make Elizabeth a mother would be
salvation to him. Whether the Queen at the mature age of thirty-seven
was likely to be happy with a husband of twenty was a question that did
not give him a moment’s concern. She was not too old to have two or
three children, and, that result once achieved, Mary might go to
Scotland or anywhere else for what he cared, and do her worst. The
sanguine man already saw visions of a converted Valois heading an
Anglo-French crusade against Philip, and establishing the reformed faith
throughout Europe. Walsingham his right-hand man, then ambassador at
Paris, was equally bitten. This was in the year before the massacre of
St. Bartholomew.

The overture of Elizabeth was very welcome to the French court.
Negotiations for the match were soon opened, and continued during the
first six months of 1571. At the same time, both the Scotch factions
were summoned to accept the tripartite arrangement. Mary was at first
eager for it, and instructed her agent, the Bishop of Ross, to swallow
every condition that might be imposed. She looked on it as the only
means of obtaining her release. But there is ample proof that she
intended to throw its stipulations to the winds and fight for her own
cause when once she should get back to Scotland. In playing this
perfidious game, she had confidently counted on the help of France. The
Regent’s party, however, declined the treaty. They dreaded Mary’s
return, and they had no wish to shake hands with the Marian lords or
admit them to a share in the Government. The tripartite scheme thus fell
through. Mary herself ceased to care for it as soon as she heard of the
projected match between Elizabeth and Anjou. She saw that if France was
going to co-operate heartily with England, her sovereignty in Scotland
would be merely nominal. She might almost as well remain with Lord

To remain quietly in England and be content with her position as
heir-presumptive to the English crown was indeed the best and safest
course open to her. She had only to acquiesce in it and give up
plotting, and she might have lived here in considerable magnificence,
and with as much freedom as she could desire. If she wished for a
husband, she might have married any Englishman of whose loyalty
Elizabeth could feel assured. It was of the greatest importance to both
countries that she should bear more children. For it must be remembered
that if James had died in his childhood, his next heir was a Hamilton,
who had no title to the English throne.

If the proposed Anjou match had not produced the full results which
Elizabeth hoped, it had at least defeated the plans and disorganised the
party of her rival. It had served its turn; and all that now remained
was to get out of it as decently as possible. The old pretext for
breaking off the Austrian match was reproduced. Anjou could not be
allowed to have a private mass; and when, in its eagerness, the French
court seemed disposed to give way on this point, Elizabeth began to talk
about a restitution of Calais. Ruefully did poor Cecil watch the
vanishing of his dream. It was to no purpose that he tried to frighten
Elizabeth by representing that a jilted prince would be converted into
an angry enemy. She knew better. Anjou comprehended that she did not
mean to have him, and, to avoid the indignity of a refusal, himself
broke off negotiations. But, as Elizabeth had calculated, the new
alliance did not suffer. The French King went out of his way to say that
“for her upright dealing he would honour the Queen of England during
his life,” and Catherine, most unsentimental of women, had another
suitor to offer--her youngest son Alençon, then just turned seventeen!

While the negotiations for the Anjou match were going on, what is known
as the Ridolfi Plot was hatching against Elizabeth. Ridolfi, an Italian
banker in London, and secretly an agent of the Pope, was in close
relations with Norfolk and the other peers who for two years had been
dabbling in treason. They were still pressing Philip to invade England;
but he and Alva were less than ever disposed to undertake the venture
since the pitiful collapse of the northern insurrection. In order to
impress Philip with the importance of the conspiracy, Ridolfi went to
Madrid, and showed Philip a letter purporting to be written by Norfolk,
to which was attached a list of noblemen stated to be favourable to the
cause. It contained the names of forty out of the sixty-seven peers then
existing, while, of the rest, some were marked as neutral, and fifteen
at most as true to Elizabeth. The classification was on the face of it
absurdly untrustworthy. But correct or incorrect, it did not weigh with
Philip. He wanted deeds, not lists of names, and Ridolfi was informed
that, unless Elizabeth were first assassinated or imprisoned, not a
Spanish soldier could be sent to England.

Whatever secret disaffection might prevail among the peers, the temper
displayed by the new House of Commons, elected in the spring of 1571,
was not of a kind to encourage Elizabeth’s enemies at home or abroad.
So far as can be judged from its proceedings and debates, it was not
only entirely Protestant, but largely Puritan.[2] A bill was passed by
which any person refusing, on demand, to acknowledge Elizabeth’s right
to the crown was made incapable of succeeding her; a provision which,
though it did not name Mary, could apply to no one else. It was made
high treason to deny that the inheritance of the crown could be
determined by the Queen and Parliament. To affirm in writing that any
particular person was entitled to succeed the Queen, except the Queen’s
issue, or some one established by Parliament, was made punishable with
imprisonment for life, and forfeiture of all property for the second

The plot which Ridolfi was so busily pushing in 1571 was, in fact, a
continuation of the twin aristocratic conspiracies, one of which had
exploded in the northern insurrection. By forcing that insurrection to
break out before the southern conspirators had made up their minds what
to do, the Government had effectually destroyed what chances of success
the disaffected nobles had ever had. Alva was right in his judgment
that, if the Percys, Nevilles, and Dacres could do so little, the Howard
group, whose estates, vast as they were, lay, for the most part, in more
orderly and civilised parts of the country, could do still less. There
was, indeed, some talk among them of seizing the Queen at the opening of
the Parliament of 1571, just as there had been a talk of arresting Cecil
two years before. But the truth was that insurrection was a played-out
game in England; and if Norfolk had been a ten-times abler and bolder
man than he was, it would have made no difference.

The true history of the time is not to be read in the croakings and
wailings privately exchanged between Cecil, Walsingham, and the rest of
the Protestant junto, angry and alarmed because Elizabeth would not let
them play her cards for her. It is a strange perversity which persists
in adopting their view that she was on the brink of ruin, when the
patent fact is that Protestantism was making rapid strides, that the
Queen’s personal popularity was increasing every day, and that Spain,
France, and Scotland, the only countries with which she was concerned,
were all humble suitors for her alliance on almost any terms that it
might please her to exact. The correspondence of Philip with Alva is
there to prove, that while writhing under the repeated aggressions of
England, he was obliged to put up with them because a war would imperil
his hold on the Netherlands. To all the invitations of the Norfolks and
Northumberlands, the able and well-informed Alva turned a deaf ear,
because he believed Elizabeth too strong to be overthrown. A French
alliance she could always have as long as the Guises were excluded from
power. If they regained their influence the Huguenots would keep them
fully occupied. Scotland, unless foreign troops made their appearance
there, could be no source of danger to England.

Elizabeth’s policy was thus, in its broad lines, as simple as it was
successful. At home it was her wisdom to wink as long as possible at the
disaffection of the few, to win the affection of the many by economical
government, to reserve the persecuting laws for special cases, while
preventing any general and sweeping application of them, and, lastly, to
drive no party to desperation by a too pronounced encouragement of its
opponents. Spain, as being the centre of reaction and the hope of her
disloyal nobles, she meant to harass and weaken as far as she could do
so without bringing on an open war. With Charles IX. and his mother she
desired a defensive alliance, and an understanding that neither country
should send troops into Scotland or permit Spain to do so. In its
general conception, I repeat, this policy was simple and coherent. How
it succeeded we know. There was nothing sentimental about it, though,
where individuals were concerned, Elizabeth’s judgment was sometimes
warped by sentiment. Upon the whole, she kept herself at the English
point of view. Whereas Cecil was compelled by personal considerations to
place himself too much at the point of view of his “brethren in Christ,”
both at home and abroad.

However, a plot there was, and it was necessary that it should be
unravelled and punished. Almost from its inception, Cecil (created Lord
Burghley February 1571), had been more or less on the scent of it. Hints
had come from abroad: spies had been employed: suspected persons had
been closely watched: inferior agents had been imprisoned, questioned,
racked: and enough had been discovered to make it certain that
Englishmen of the highest rank were plotting treason. Who they were
might be suspected, but was not ascertained until a lucky arrest put the
Minister in possession of evidence incriminating Norfolk, Arundel,
Southampton, Lumley, Cobham, the Spanish ambassador, the Bishop of Ross,
and Mary herself (September 1571). Norfolk was sent to the Tower, and
the other peers placed under arrest. The ambassador was dismissed. The
Bishop made ample confessions. Mary, who had hitherto lived as the guest
of Lord Shrewsbury, enjoying field-sports, receiving her friends and
corresponding with whom she would, was confined to a single room, and
carefully cut off, for a time, from all communication with the outer
world. Both in England and abroad it was universally expected that she
would be brought to trial and executed. James was at length officially
styled “King” and his mother “late Queen.” Her partisans in Edinburgh
Castle were informed that she would never be restored, and that, if they
did not surrender the Castle to the Regent Mar, an English force would
be sent to take it. The casket letters had hitherto been withheld from
publication under pressure from Elizabeth; they were now at last given
to the world in the famous “Detection” of Buchanan.

Under any other Tudor, or under the Stuarts, all the peers arrested
would undoubtedly have lost their heads. Norfolk alone was brought to
trial (January 1572). There was much in the proceedings which, according
to modern notions, was unfair to the accused. But the peers who tried
him felt sure that he was guilty, and they were right. Subsequent
investigations have established beyond a doubt that he had conspired to
bring a foreign army into the country--the worst form that treason can
take. He had done this with contemptible hypocrisy, for a purely selfish
object, and after the most lenient and generous construction had been
placed on his first steps in crime. And yet historians have been found
to make light of the offence, and to pity the malefactor as the victim
of a romantic attachment to a woman whom he had never seen, and whom he
believed to be an adulteress and a murderess.

During the spring of 1572 Elizabeth hesitated to let justice take its
course. She had reigned fourteen years without taking the life of a
single noble. The scaffold on Tower Hill from such long disuse was
falling to pieces, and Norfolk’s sentence had made it necessary to erect
a new one. Elizabeth was loath to break the spell.

Not knowing with any certainty how many of her nobles might have given
more or less approval to the Ridolfi plot, but confident that she could
cow them by letting the voice of the untitled aristocracy and middle
class be heard, she called a new Parliament (May 1572). The response
went beyond her expectation. Of Mary’s well-wishers, once so numerous,
all except a few fanatics had now given her up. Two alternative courses
of action with respect to her were submitted for consideration, with the
intimation that the Queen would accept whichever of them Parliament
should approve. The first was attainder. The second was that she should
be disabled from succession to the crown; that if she attempted treason
again she should “suffer pains of death without further trouble of
Parliament;” and that it should be treason if she assented to any
enterprise to deliver her out of prison. Both houses at once voted to
proceed with the attainder. Elizabeth, we may be sure, was not sorry
for this unmistakable exhibition of feeling. It would open the eyes of
her enemies both at home and abroad. But she had no intention of
proceeding to such extremities this time. Mary should have fair warning.
Accordingly Parliament was desired to “defer” the bill of attainder, and
to proceed with the second measure. But the Commons were in grim
earnest. They immediately resolved that the second bill would be useless
and even mischievous, as it would imply that at present Mary had a right
of succession, whereas she was already disabled by law; and that they
therefore preferred to proceed with the attainder. With this resolution
the Lords concurred.

Here they were on dangerous ground. To rake up the law empowering Henry
VIII. to determine the succession was to disable all the Stuarts, James
included, and so to throw away the opportunity of uniting the crowns.
Elizabeth had always, for excellent reasons, refused to allow this
question to be raised. Accordingly she again directed the House to defer
the attainder; she would not have the Scottish Queen “either enabled or
disabled to or from any manner of _title_ to the crown,” nor “any other
_title_ to the same whatsoever touched at all;” to make sure of which
she would have the second bill drawn by her own law officers. To the
repeated demands of the Commons for the execution of Norfolk, she at
length gave way, and a few days later he was beheaded (June 2, 1572).
The second bill, as drawn by the law officers, passed both Houses. Its
exact terms are not known, for it never received the royal assent.

Burghley who was of opinion (as some one afterwards said about
Strafford) that “stone dead hath no fellow,” bemoaned himself privately
to Walsingham on the disappointment of their hopes; and modern
historians, with whom his authority is final, are loud in their
condemnation of Elizabeth’s vacillation and blindness. Vacillation there
was really none. She had determined from the first not to allow Mary to
be punished. She had gained all she wanted when the temper of Parliament
had been ascertained and displayed to the world. There have always been
plenty of people to accuse her of treachery and cruelty because she put
Mary to death fifteen years later, for complicity in an assassination
plot. How would her name have gone down to posterity if the Scottish
Queen had been executed in 1572 merely for inviting a foreign army to
rescue her from captivity?



The year 1572 witnessed two events of capital importance in European
history: the rising in the Netherlands, which resulted in the
establishment of the Dutch Republic (April); and the massacre of St.
Bartholomew, which marked the decisive rejection of Protestantism by
France (August).

In the beginning of that year--a few weeks before the proceedings in
Parliament just narrated--Elizabeth had at last concluded the defensive
alliance with France for which she had been so long negotiating (April
19). It cannot be too often repeated that this was the corner-stone of
her foreign policy. For the sake of its superior importance she had
abstained from the interference in Scotland which her Ministers were
always urging. The more she interfered there the more she would have to
interfere, till it would end in her having a rebellious province on her
hands in addition to the hostility of both France and Spain; whereas an
alliance with France would give her security on all sides, Scotland
included. In the treaty it was agreed that if either country were
invaded “under any pretence or cause, none excepted,” the other should
send 6000 troops to its assistance. This was accompanied with an
explanation, in the King’s handwriting, that “any cause” included
religion. The article relating to Scotland is not less significant. The
two sovereigns “shall make no innovations in Scotland, but defend it
against foreigners, not suffering strangers to enter, or foment the
factions in Scotland; but it shall be lawful for the Queen of England to
chastise by arms the Scots who shall countenance the English rebels now
in Scotland.” Mary was not mentioned. France therefore tacitly renounced
her cause. Immediately after the conclusion of the treaty Charles IX.
formally proposed a marriage between Elizabeth and his youngest brother,
Alençon. This proposal she managed to encourage and elude for eleven

It was just at this moment that the seizure of Brill by some Dutch
rovers, who had taken refuge on the sea from the cruelty of Alva, caused
most of the towns of Holland and Zealand to blaze into rebellion (April
1). Thus began the great war of liberation, which was to last
thirty-seven years. The Protestant party in England hailed the revolt
with enthusiasm. Large subscriptions were made to assist it, and
volunteers poured across to take part in the struggle. Charles IX. and
his mother, full of schemes of conquest in the Netherlands, urged
Elizabeth to join them in a war against Philip. But, with a sagacity and
self-restraint which do her infinite honour, she refused to be drawn
beyond the lines laid down in the recent defensive alliance. Security,
economy, fructification of the tax-payers’ money in the tax-payers’
pocket--such were the guiding principles of her policy. She was not to
be dragged into dangerous enterprises either ambitious or Quixotic.
Schemes for the partition of the Netherlands were laid before her.
Zealand, it was said, would indemnify her for Calais. What Englishman
with any common sense does not now see that she was right to reject the

To Elizabeth no rebellion against a legitimate sovereign could be
welcome in itself. Since Philip was so possessed by religious bigotry as
to be dangerous to all Protestant States, she was not sorry that he
should wear out his crusading ardour in the Netherlands; and she was
ready to give just as much assistance to the Dutch, in an underhand way,
as would keep him fully occupied without bringing a declaration of war
upon herself. But she would have vastly preferred that he should repress
Catholic and Protestant fanatics alike, and get along quietly with the
mass of his subjects as his father had done before him. Charles IX. was
eager to strike in if she would join him. Those who blame her so
severely for her refusal seem to forget that a French conquest of the
Netherlands would have been far more dangerous to this country than
their possession by Spain. To keep them out of French hands has indeed
been the traditional policy of England during the whole of modern

But, it is said, such a war would have clinched the alliance recently
patched up between the French court and the Huguenots; there would have
been no Bartholomew Massacre; “on Elizabeth depended at that moment
whether the French Government would take its place once for all on the
side of the Reformation.”

Whether it would have been for the advantage of European progress in the
long-run that France should settle down into Calvinism, I will forbear
to inquire. Fortunately for the immediate interests of England,
Elizabeth understood the situation in France better than some of her
critics do, even with the results before their eyes. The Huguenots were
but a small fraction of the nation. Whatever importance they possessed
they derived from their rank, their turbulence, and the ambition of
their leaders. In a few towns of the south and south-west they formed a
majority of the population. But everywhere else they were mostly
noblemen, full of the arrogance and reckless valour of their class,
anything but puritans in their morals, and ready to destroy the unity of
the kingdom for political no less than for religious objects. They had
been losing ground for several years. The mass of the people abhorred
their doctrines, and protested against any concession to their
pretensions. Charles and his mother were absolutely careless about
religion. Their feud with the Guises and their designs on the
Netherlands had led them to invite the Huguenot chiefs to court, and so
to give them a momentary influence in shaping the policy of France. It
was with nothing more solid to lean on than this ricketty and
short-lived combination that Burghley and Walsingham were eager to
launch England into a war with the most powerful monarchy in Europe.

The massacre of St. Bartholomew (August 24) was a rude awakening from
these dreams. That thunder-clap did not show that, in signing the
treaty with England and in proposing an attack on Philip, the French
Government had been playing a treacherous game all along, in order to
lure the Huguenots to the shambles. But it did show that when the
Catholic sentiment in France was thoroughly roused, the dynasty itself
must bend before it or be swept away. England might help the Huguenots
to keep up a desultory and harassing civil war; she could no more enable
them to control the policy of the French nation and wield its force,
than she could at the present day restore the Bourbons or Bonapartes.

The first idea of Elizabeth and her ministers, on receiving the news of
the massacre, naturally was that the French Government had been playing
them false from the first, that the Catholic League for the extirpation
of heresy in Europe, which had been so much talked of since the Bayonne
interview in 1565, was after all a reality, and that England might
expect an attack from the combined forces of Spain and France. Thanks to
the prudent policy of Elizabeth, England was in a far better position to
meet all dangers than she had been in 1565. The fleet was brought round
to the Downs. The coast was guarded by militia. An expedition was
organised to co-operate with the Dutch insurgents. Money was sent to the
Prince of Orange. Huguenot refugees were allowed to fit out a flotilla
to assist their co-religionists in Rochelle. The Scotch Regent Mar was
informed, with great secrecy, that if he would demand the extradition of
Mary, and undertake to punish her capitally for her husband’s murder,
she should be given up to him.

A few weeks sufficed to show that there was no reason for panic.
Confidence, indeed, between the French and English Governments had been
severely shaken. Each stood suspiciously on its guard. But the alliance
was too well grounded in the interests of both parties to be lightly
cast aside. The French ambassador was instructed to excuse and deplore
the massacre as best he could, and to press on the Alençon marriage.
Elizabeth, dressed in deep mourning, gave him a stiff reception, but let
him see her desire to maintain the alliance. The massacre did not
restore the ascendancy of the Guises. To the Huguenots, as religious
reformers, it gave a blow from which they did not recover. But as a
political faction they were not crushed. Nay, their very weakness became
their salvation, since it compelled them to fall into the second rank
behind the _Politiques_, the true party of progress, who were before
long to find a victorious leader in Henry of Navarre.

Philip, for his part, was equally far from any thought of a crusade
against England. Sir Humphrey Gilbert, commanding several companies of
English volunteers, with the hardly concealed sanction of his
government, was fighting against the Spaniards in Walcheren and hanging
all his prisoners. Sir John Hawkins, with twenty ships, had sailed to
intercept the Mexican treasure fleet. Yet Alva, though gnashing his
teeth, was obliged to advise his master to swallow it all, and to be
thankful if he could get Elizabeth to re-open commercial intercourse,
which had been prohibited on both sides since the quarrel about the
Genoese treasure. A treaty for this purpose was in fact concluded early
in 1573. Thus the chief result of the Bartholomew Massacre, as far as
Elizabeth was concerned, was to show how strong her position was, and
that she had no need either to truckle to Catholics or let her hand be
forced by Protestants. A balance of power on the Continent was what
suited her, as it has generally suited this country. Let her critics say
what they will, it was no business of hers to organise a Protestant
league, and so drive the Catholic sovereigns to sink their mutual
jealousies and combine against the common enemy.

The Scotch Regent was quite ready to undertake the punishment of Mary,
but only on condition that Elizabeth would send the Earl of Bedford or
the Earl of Huntingdon with an army to be present at the execution and
to take Edinburgh Castle. It need hardly be said that there was also a
demand for money. Mar died during the negotiations, but they were
continued by his successor Morton. Elizabeth was determined to give no
open consent to Mary’s execution. She meant, no doubt, as soon as it
should be over, to protest, as she did fifteen years afterwards, that
there had been an unfortunate mistake, and to lay the blame of it on the
Scotch Government and her own agents. This part of the negotiation
therefore came to nothing. But money was sent to Morton, which enabled
him to establish a blockade of Edinburgh Castle, and by the mediation of
Elizabeth’s ambassador, the Hamiltons, Gordons, and all the other
Marians except those in the Castle, accepted the very favourable terms
offered them, and recognised James.

All that remained was to reduce the Castle. Its defenders numbered less
than two hundred men. The city and the surrounding country were--as far
as preaching and praying went--vehemently anti-Marian. The Regent had
now no other military task on his hands. Elizabeth might well complain
when she was told that unless she sent an army and paid the Scotch
Protestants to co-operate with it, the Castle could not be taken. For
some time she resisted this thoroughly Scotch demand. But at last she
yielded to Morton’s importunity. Sir William Drury marched in from
Berwick, did the job, and marched back again (May 1573). Among the
captives were the brilliant Maitland of Lethington, once the most active
of Anglophiles, and Kirkaldy of Grange, who had begun the Scottish
Reformation by the murder of Cardinal Beaton, and had taken Mary
prisoner at Carberry Hill. A politician who did not turn his coat at
least once in his life was a rare bird in Scotland. Maitland died a few
days after his capture, probably by his own hand. Kirkaldy was hanged by
his old friend Morton.

By taking Edinburgh Castle Elizabeth did not earn any gratitude from the
party who had called her in. What they wanted, and always would want,
was money. Morton himself, treading in the steps of his old leader
Moray, remained an unswerving Anglophile. But his coadjutors told the
English ambassador plainly that, if they could not get money from
England, they could and would earn it from France. Elizabeth’s
councillors were always teasing her to comply with these impudent
demands. If there had been a grown-up King on the throne, a man with a
will of his own, and whose right to govern could not be contested, it
might have been worth while to secure his good-will by a pension; and
this was what Elizabeth did when James became real ruler of the country.
But she did not believe in paying a clique of greedy lords to call
themselves the English party. An English party there was sure to be, if
only because there was a French party. Their services would be neither
greater nor smaller whether they were paid or unpaid. The French poured
money into Scotland, and were worse served than Elizabeth, who kept her
money in her treasury. It was no fault of Elizabeth if the conditions of
political life in Scotland during the King’s minority were such that a
firmly established government was in the nature of things impossible.

As Mary was kept in strict seclusion during the panic that followed on
the Bartholomew Massacre, she did not know how narrow was her escape
from a shameful death on a Scottish scaffold. When the panic subsided
she was allowed to resume her former manner of life as the honoured
guest of Lord Shrewsbury, with full opportunities for communication with
all her friends at home and abroad. Any alarm she had felt speedily
disappeared. If Elizabeth had for a moment contemplated striking at her
life or title by parliamentary procedure, that intention was evidently
abandoned when the Parliament of 1572 was prorogued without any such
measure becoming law. The public assumed, and rightly, that Elizabeth
still regarded the Scottish Queen as her successor. Peter Wentworth in
the next session (1576) asserted, and probably with truth, that many
who had been loud in their demands for severity repented of their
forwardness when they found that Mary might yet be their Queen, and
tried to make their peace with her. Wentworth’s outburst (for which he
was sent to the Tower) was the only demonstration against Mary in that
session. She told the Archbishop of Glasgow that her prospects had never
been better, and when opportunities for secret escape were offered her
she declined to use them, thinking that it was for her interest to
remain in England.

The desire of the English Queen to reinstate her rival arose principally
from an uneasy consciousness that, by detaining her in custody, she was
fatally impairing that religious respect for sovereigns which was the
main, if not the only, basis of their power. The scaffold of Fotheringay
was, in truth, the prelude to the scaffold of Whitehall. But as year
succeeded year, and Elizabeth became habituated to the situation which
had at first given her such qualms, she could not shut her eyes to the
fact that, troublesome and even dangerous as Mary’s presence in England
was, the trouble and the danger had been very much greater when she was
seated on the Scottish throne. The seething caldron of Scotch politics
had not, indeed, become a negligible quantity. It required watching. But
experience had shown that, while the King was a child, the Scots were
neither valuable as friends nor formidable as foes. This was a truth
quite as well understood at Paris and Madrid as at London, though the
French, no less keen in those days than they are now to maintain that
shadowy thing called “legitimate French influence” in countries with
which they had any historical connection, continued to intrigue and
waste their money among the hungry Scotch nobles. It was a fixed
principle with Elizabeth, as with all English statesmen, not to tolerate
the presence of foreign troops in Scotland. But she believed--and her
belief was justified by events--that a French expedition was not the
easy matter it had been when Mary of Guise was Regent of Scotland and
Mary Tudor Queen of England. And, more important still, in spite of much
treachery and distrust, the French and English Governments were bound
together by a treaty which was equally necessary to each of them.
Scotland, therefore, was no longer such a cause of anxiety to Elizabeth
as it had been during the first ten years of her reign. Her ministers
had neither her coolness nor her insight. Yet modern historians, proud
of having unearthed their croaking criticisms, ask us to judge
Elizabeth’s policy by prognostications which turned out to be false
rather than by the known results which so brilliantly justified it.

How to deal with the Netherlands was a much more complicated and
difficult problem. Here again Elizabeth’s ministers were for carrying
matters with a high hand. In their view, England was in constant danger
of a Spanish invasion, which could only be averted by openly and
vigorously supporting the revolted provinces. They would have had
Elizabeth place herself at the head of a Protestant league, and dare the
worst that Philip could do. She, on the other hand, believed that every
year war could be delayed was so much gained for England. There were
many ways in which she could aid the Netherlands without openly
challenging Philip. A curious theory of international relations
prevailed in those days--an English Prime Minister, by the way, found it
convenient not long ago to revive it--according to which, to carry on
warlike operations against another country was a very different thing
from going to war with that country. Of this theory Elizabeth largely
availed herself. English generals were not only allowed, but encouraged,
to raise regiments of volunteers to serve in the Low Countries. When
there, they reported to the English Government, and received
instructions from it with hardly a pretence of concealment. Money was
openly furnished to the Prince of Orange. English fleets--also nominally
of volunteers--were encouraged to prey on Spanish commerce, Elizabeth
herself subscribing to their outfit and sharing in the booty.

We are not to suppose, because the revolt of the Netherlands crippled
Philip for any attack on England, that Elizabeth welcomed it, or that
she contemplated the prolongation of the struggle with cold-blooded
satisfaction. Its immediate advantage to this country was obvious. But
Elizabeth had a sincere abhorrence of war and disorder. She was equally
provoked with Philip for persecuting the Dutch Protestants into
rebellion, and with the Dutch for insisting on religious concessions
which Philip could not be expected to grant, and which she herself was
not granting to Catholics in England. At any time during the struggle,
if Philip would have guaranteed liberty of conscience (as distinguished
from liberty of public worship), the restoration of the old charters,
and the removal of the Spanish troops, Elizabeth would not only have
withheld all help from the Dutch, but would have put pressure on them to
submit to Philip. The presence of Spanish veterans opposite the mouth of
the Thames was a standing menace to England. “As they are there,” argued
Burghley, “we must help the Dutch to keep them employed.” “If the Dutch
were not such impracticable fanatics,” rejoined Elizabeth, “the Spanish
veterans need not be there at all.”

The “Pacification of Ghent” (November 1576), by which the Belgian
Netherlands, for a short time, made common cause with Holland and
Zealand, relieved Elizabeth, for a time, from the necessity of taking
any decisive step. Philip was still recognised as sovereign, but he was
required to be content with such powers as the old constitution gave
him. It seemed likely that Catholic bigots would have to give up
persecuting, and Protestant bigots to acquiesce in the official
establishment of the old religion. This was precisely the settlement
Elizabeth had always desired. It would get rid of the Spanish troops. It
would keep out the French. It would relieve her from the necessity of
interfering. If it put some restriction on the open profession of
Calvinism she would not be sorry.

If this arrangement could have been carried out, would it in the
long-run have been for the benefit of Europe? Those who hold that the
conflict between Protestantism and Catholicism was simply a conflict
between truth and falsehood will, of course, have no difficulty in
giving their answer. Others may hold that freedom of conscience was all
that was needed at the time, and they may picture the many advantages
which Europe would have reaped during the last three centuries from the
existence of a united Netherlands, independent, as it must soon have
become, of Spain, and able to make its independence respected by its

Short-lived as the coalition was destined to be, it secured for the
Dutch a breathing-time when they were most sorely pressed, and enabled
Elizabeth to avoid quarrelling with Spain. The first step of the newly
allied States was to apply to her for assistance and a loan of money.
The loan they obtained--£40,000--a very large sum in those days. But she
earnestly advised them that if the new Governor, Don John of Austria,
would accept the Pacification, they should use the money to pay the
arrears of the Spanish troops; otherwise they would refuse to leave the
country for Don John or any one else. This was done. Don John had
treachery in his heart. But the departure of the Spaniards was a solid
gain; and if the Protestants and Catholics of the Netherlands had been
able to tolerate each other, they would have achieved the practical
independence of their country, and achieved it by their own unaided

But Don John, the crusader, the victor of Lepanto, the half-brother of
Philip, was a man of soaring ambition. His dream was to invade England,
marry the Queen of Scots, and seat himself with her on the English
throne. It was in vain that Philip, who never wavered in his desire to
conciliate Elizabeth, and was jealous of his showy brother, had strictly
enjoined him to leave England alone. He persisted in his design, and
sent his confidant Escovedo to persuade Philip that to conquer the
Netherlands it was necessary to begin by conquering England.

For a pair of determined enemies, Elizabeth and Philip were just now
upon most amicable, not to say affectionate, terms. She knew well that
he had incited assassins to take her life, and that nothing would at any
time give him greater pleasure than to hear that one of them had
succeeded. But she bore him no malice for that. She took it all in the
way of business, and intended, for her part, to go on robbing and
damaging him in every way she could short of going to war. Philip bore
it all meekly. Alva himself insisted that he could not afford to quarrel
with her. Diplomatic relations by means of resident ambassadors, which
had been broken off by the expulsion of De Espes in 1571, were resumed;
and English heretics in the prisons of the Inquisition were released in
spite of the outcries of the Grand Inquisitor.

In the summer of 1577 it seemed as if Don John’s restless ambition would
interrupt this pacific policy which suited both monarchs. He had sent
for the Spanish troops again. He was known to be projecting an invasion
of England. He was said to have a promise of help from Guise.
Elizabeth’s ministers, as usual, believed that she was on the brink of
ruin, and implored her to send armies both to the Netherlands and to
France. But she refused to be hustled into any precipitate action, and
reasons soon appeared for maintaining an expectant attitude. The treaty
of Bergerac between Henry III. and Henry of Navarre (September 1577)
showed once more that the French King had no intention of letting the
Huguenots be crushed. The invitation of the Archduke Matthias by the
Belgian nobles showed that they were deeply jealous of English
interference. Here, surely, was matter for reflection. The most
Elizabeth could be got to do was to become security for a loan of
£100,000 to the States, on condition that Matthias should leave the real
direction of affairs to William of Orange, and to _promise_ armed
assistance (January 1578). At the same time she informed Philip that she
was obliged to do this for her own safety; that she had no desire to
contest his sovereignty of the Netherlands; on the contrary, she would
help him to maintain it if he would govern reasonably; but he ought to
remove Don John, who was her mortal enemy, and to appoint another
Governor of his own family; in other words, Matthias. Her policy could
not have been more candidly set forth, and Philip showed his disapproval
of Don John’s designs in a characteristic way--by causing Escovedo to be
assassinated. Don John himself died in the autumn, of a fever brought on
by disappointment, or, as some thought, of a complaint similar to
Escovedo’s (September 1578).

When Elizabeth feared that Don John’s scheme was countenanced by his
brother, she had risked an open rupture by promising to send an army to
the Netherlands. The murder of Escovedo and the arrival of the Spanish
ambassador Mendoza (March 1578) reassured her. Philip was evidently
pacific to the point of tameness. Instead, therefore, of sending an
English army, she preferred to pay John Casimir, the Count Palatine, to
lead a German army to the assistance of the States. As far as military
strength went, they were probably no losers by the change. But what they
wanted was to see Elizabeth committed to open war with Philip, and that
was just what she desired to avoid. Indirect and underhand blows she was
prepared to deal him, for she knew by experience that he would put up
with them. Thus in the preceding autumn she had despatched Drake on his
famous expedition to the South Pacific.

Don John was succeeded by his nephew, Alexander of Parma. The fine
prospects of the revolted provinces were now about to be dashed. In the
arts which smooth over difficulties and conciliate opposition, Parma had
few equals. He was a head and shoulders above all contemporary generals;
and no soldiers of that time were comparable to his Spanish and Italian
veterans. When he assumed the command, he was master of only a small
corner of the Low Countries. What he effected is represented by their
present division between Belgians and Dutch. The struggle in the
Netherlands continued, therefore, to be the principal object of
Elizabeth’s attention.

Shortly before the death of Don John, the Duke of Alençon,[3] brother
and heir-presumptive of Henry III. had been invited by the Belgian
nobles to become their Protector, and Orange, in his anxiety for union,
had accepted their nominee. Alençon was to furnish 12,000 French troops.
It was hoped and believed that, though Henry had ostensibly disapproved
of his brother’s action, he would in the end give him open support,
thus resuming the enterprise which had been interrupted six years before
by the Bartholomew Massacre.

Now, how was Elizabeth to deal with this new combination? The
Protectorship of Alençon might bring on annexation to France, the result
which most of all she wished to avoid. For a moment she thought of
offering her own protection (which Orange would have much preferred),
and an army equal to that promised by Alençon. But upon further
reflection, she determined to adhere to the policy of not throwing down
the glove to Philip, and to try whether she could not put Alençon in
harness, and make him do her work. One means of effecting this would be
to allow him subsidies--the means employed on such a vast scale by Pitt
in our wars with Napoleon. But Elizabeth intended to spend as little as
possible in this way. She relied chiefly on a revival of the marriage
comedy--now to be played positively for the last time; the lady being
forty-five, and her wooer twenty-four.

A dignified policy it certainly was not. All that was ridiculous and
repulsive in her coquetry with Henry had now to be repeated and outdone
with his younger brother. To overcome the incredulity which her previous
performances had produced, she was obliged to exaggerate her
protestations, to admit a personal courtship, to simulate amorous
emotion, and to go through a tender pantomime of kisses and caresses.
But Elizabeth never let dignity stand in the way of business. What to
most women would have been an insupportable humiliation did not cost her
a pang. She even found amusement in it. From the nature of the case,
she could not take one of her counsellors into her confidence. There was
no chance of imposing upon foreigners unless she could persuade those
about her that she was in earnest. They were amazed that she should run
the risk of establishing the French in the Netherlands. She had no
intention of doing so. When Philip should be brought so low as to be
willing to concede a constitutional government, she could always throw
her weight on his side and get rid of the French.

The match with Alençon had been proposed six years before. It had lately
slumbered. But there was no difficulty in whistling him back, and making
it appear that the renewed overture came from his side. After tedious
negotiations, protracted over twelve months, he at length paid his first
visit to Elizabeth (August 1579). He was an under-sized man with an
over-sized head, villainously ugly, with a face deeply seamed by
smallpox, a nose ending in a knob that made it look like two noses, and
a croaking voice. Elizabeth’s liking for big handsome men is well known.
But as she had not the least intention of marrying Alençon, it cost her
nothing to affirm that she was charmed with his appearance, and that he
was just the sort of man she could fancy for a husband. The only
agreeable thing about him was his conversation, in which he shone, so
that people who did not thoroughly know him always at first gave him
credit for more ability than he possessed. Elizabeth, who had a pet name
for all favourites, dubbed him her “frog”; and “Grenouille” he was fain
to subscribe himself in his love-letters. This first visit was a short
one, and he went away hopeful of success.

The English people could only judge by appearances, and for the first
time in her reign Elizabeth was unpopular. The Puritan Stubbs published
his _Discovery of a Gaping Gulf wherein England is like to be swallowed
by another French Marriage_. But the excitement was by no means confined
to the Puritans. Hatred of Frenchmen long remained a ruling sentiment
with most Englishmen. Elizabeth vented her rage on Stubbs, who had been
so rude as to tell her that childbirth at her age would endanger her
life. He was sentenced to have his hand cut off. “I remember,” says
Camden, “being then present, that Stubbs, after his right hand was cut
off, put off his hat with his left, and said with a loud voice, ‘God
save the Queen,’ The multitude standing about was deeply silent.”

Not long after Alençon’s visit, a treaty of marriage was signed
(November 1579), with a proviso that two months should be allowed for
the Queen’s subjects to become reconciled to it. If, at the end of that
time, Elizabeth did not ratify the treaty, it was to be null and void.
The appointed time came and went without ratification. Burghley, as
usual, predicted that the jilted suitor would become a deadly enemy, and
drew an alarming picture of the dangers that threatened England, with
the old exhortation to his mistress to form a Protestant league and
subsidise the Scotch Anglophiles. But in 1572 she had slipped out of the
Anjou marriage, and yet secured a French alliance. She confided in her
ability to play the same game now. Though she had not ratified the
marriage treaty, she continued to correspond with Alençon and keep up
his hopes, urging him at the same time to lead an army to the help of
the States. This, however, he was unwilling to do till he had secured
the marriage. The French King was ready, and even eager, to back his
brother. But he, too, insisted on the marriage, and that Elizabeth
should openly join him in war against Spain.

In the summer of 1580, Philip conquered Portugal, thus not only rounding
off his Peninsular realm, but acquiring the enormous transmarine
dominions of the Portuguese crown. All Europe was profoundly impressed
and alarmed by this apparent increase of his power. Elizabeth
incessantly lectured Henry on the necessity of abating a preponderance
so dangerous to all other States, and tried to convince him that it was
specially incumbent on France to undertake the enterprise. But she
preached in vain. Henry steadily refused to stir unless England would
openly assist him with troops and money, of which the marriage was to be
the pledge. He did not conceal his suspicion that, when Elizabeth had
pushed him into war, she would “draw her neck out of the collar” and
leave him to bear the whole danger.

This was, in fact, her intention. She believed that a war with France
would soon compel Philip to make proper concessions to the States;
whereupon she would interpose and dictate a peace. “Marry my brother,”
Henry kept saying, “and then I shall have security that you will bear
your fair share of the fighting and expenses.” “If I am to go to war,”
argued Elizabeth, “I cannot marry your brother; for my subjects will say
that I am dragged into it by my husband, and they will grudge the
expense. Suppose, instead of a marriage, we have an alliance not binding
me to open war; then I will furnish you with money _underhand_. You know
you have got to fight. You cannot afford to let Philip go on increasing
his power.”

Henry remained doggedly firm. No marriage, no war. At last, finding she
could not stir him, Elizabeth again concluded a treaty of marriage, but
with the extraordinary proviso that six weeks should be left for private
explanations by letter between herself and Alençon. It soon appeared
what this meant. In these six weeks Elizabeth furnished her suitor with
money, and incited him to make a sudden attack on Parma, who was then
besieging Cambray, close to the French frontier. Alençon, thinking
himself now sure of the marriage, collected 15,000 men; and Henry,
though not openly assisting him, no longer prohibited the enterprise.
But, as soon as Elizabeth thought they were sufficiently committed, she
gave them to understand that the marriage must be again deferred, that
her subjects were discontented, that she could only join in a defensive
alliance, but that she would furnish money “in reasonable sort”

All this is very unscrupulous, very shameless, even for that shameless
age. Hardened liars like Henry and Alençon thought it too bad. _They_
were ready for violence as well as fraud, and availed themselves of
whichever method came handiest. Elizabeth also used the weapon which
nature had given her. Being constitutionally averse from any but
peaceful methods, she made up for it by a double dose of fraud. _Dente
lupus, cornu taurus._ It would have been useless for a male statesman to
try to pass himself off as a fickle impulsive, susceptible being, swayed
from one moment to another in his political schemes by passions and
weaknesses that are thought natural in the other sex. This was
Elizabeth’s advantage, and she made the most of it. She was a masculine
woman simulating, when it suited her purpose, a feminine character. The
men against whom she was matched were never sure whether they were
dealing with a crafty and determined politician, or a vain, flighty,
amorous woman. This uncertainty was constantly putting them out in their
calculations. Alençon would never have been so taken in if he had not
told himself that any folly might be expected from an elderly woman
enamoured of a young man.

On this occasion Elizabeth scored, if not the full success she had hoped
from her audacious mystification, yet no inconsiderable portion of it.
Henry managed to draw back just in time, and was not let in for a big
war. But Alençon, at the head of 15,000 men, and close to Cambray, could
not for very shame beat a retreat. Parma retired at his approach, and
the French army entered Cambray in triumph (August 1581). Alençon
therefore had been put in harness to some purpose.

Though Henry III. had good reason to complain of the way he had been
treated, he did not make it a quarrel with Elizabeth. His interests, as
she saw all along, were too closely bound up with hers to permit him to
think of such a thing. On the contrary, he renewed the alliance of 1572
in an ampler form, though it still remained strictly defensive.
Alençon, after relieving and victualling Cambray, disbanded his army,
and went over to England again to press for the marriage (Nov. 1581).
Thither he was followed by ambassadors from the States. By the advice of
Orange they had resolved to take him as their sovereign, and they were
now urgently pressing him to return to the Netherlands to be installed.
Elizabeth added her pressure; but he was unwilling to leave England
until he should have secured the marriage. For three months (Nov.
1581--Feb. 1582) did Elizabeth try every art to make him accept promise
for performance. She was thoroughly in her element. To win her game in
this way, not by the brutal arbitrament of war, or even by the ordinary
tricks of vicarious diplomacy, but by artifices personally executed,
feats of cajolery that might seem improbable on the stage,--this was
delightful in the highest degree. The more distrustful Alençon showed
himself, the keener was the pleasure of handling him. One day he is
hidden behind a curtain to view her elegant dancing; not, surely, that
he might be smitten with it, but that he might think she desired him to
be smitten. Another day she kisses him on the lips (_en la boca_) in the
presence of the French ambassador. She gives him a ring. She presents
him to her household as their future master. She orders the Bishop of
Lincoln to draw up a marriage service. It is a repulsive spectacle; but,
after all, we are not so much disgusted with the elderly woman who
pretends to be willing to marry the young man, as with the young man who
is really willing to marry the elderly woman. Unfortunately for
Elizabeth, her acting was so realistic that it not only took in
contemporaries, but has persuaded many modern writers that she was
really influenced by a degrading passion.

Henry III. himself was at last induced to believe that Elizabeth was
this time in earnest. But he could not be driven from his determination
to risk nothing till he saw the marriage actually concluded. Pinart, the
French Secretary of State, was accordingly sent over to settle the
terms. Elizabeth demanded one concession after another, and finally
asked for the restitution of Calais. There was no mistaking what this
meant. Pinart, in the King’s name, formally forbade Alençon to proceed
to the Netherlands except as a married man, and tried to intimidate
Elizabeth by threatening that his master would ally himself with Philip.
But she laughed at him, and told him that _she_ could have the Spanish
alliance whenever she chose, which was perfectly true. Alençon himself
gave way. He felt that he was being played with. He had come over here,
with a _fatuité_ not uncommon among young Frenchmen, expecting to bend a
love-sick Queen to serve his political designs. He found himself, to his
intense mortification, bent to serve hers. Ashamed to show his face in
France without either his Belgian dominions or his English wife, he was
fain to accept Elizabeth’s solemn promise that she would marry him as
soon as she could, and allowed himself to be shipped off under the
escort of an English fleet to the Netherlands (Feb. 1582).

According to Mr. Froude, “the Prince of Orange intimated that Alençon
was accepted by the States only as a pledge that England would support
them; if England failed them, they would not trust their fortunes to so
vain an idiot.” This statement appears to be drawn from the second-hand
tattle of Mendoza, and is probably, like much else from that source,
unworthy of credit. But whether Orange sent such an “intimation” or not,
it cannot be allowed to weigh against the ample evidence that Alençon
was accepted by him and by the States mainly for the sake of the French
forces he could raise on his own account, and the assistance which he
undertook to procure from his brother. Neither Orange nor any one else
regarded him as an idiot. Orange had not been led to expect that he
would bring any help from England except money supplied underhand; and
money Elizabeth did furnish in very considerable quantities. But the
Netherlanders now expected everything to be done for them, and were
backward with their contributions both in men and money. Clearly there
is something to be said for the let-alone policy to which Elizabeth
usually leant.

The States intended Alençon’s sovereignty to be of the strictly
constitutional kind, such as it had been before the encroachments of
Philip and his father. This did not suit the young Frenchman, and at the
beginning of 1583 he attempted a _coup-d’état_, not without
encouragement from some of the Belgian Catholics. At Antwerp his French
troops were defeated with great bloodshed by the citizens, and the
general voice of the country was for sending him about his business. But
both Elizabeth and Orange, though disconcerted and disgusted by his
treachery, still saw nothing better to be done than to patch up the
breach and retain his services. Both of them urged this course on the
States--Orange with his usual dignified frankness; Elizabeth in the
crooked, blustering fashion which has brought upon her policy, in so
many instances, reproach which it does not really deserve. Norris, the
commander of the English volunteers, had discountenanced the
_coup-d’état_ and taken his orders from the States. Openly Elizabeth
reprimanded him, and ordered him to bring his men back to England.
Secretly she told him he had done well, and bade him remain where he
was. Norris was in fact there to protect the interests of England quite
as much against the French as against Spain. There is not the least
ground for the assertion that in promoting reconciliation with Alençon,
Orange acted under pressure from Elizabeth. Everything goes to show that
he, the wisest and noblest statesman of his time, thought it the only
course open to the States, unless they were prepared to submit to
Philip. Both Elizabeth and Orange felt that the first necessity was to
keep the quarrel alive between the Frenchman and the Spaniard. The
English Queen therefore continued to feed Alençon with hopes of
marriage, and the States patched up a reconciliation with him (March
1583). But his heart failed him. He saw Parma taking town after town. He
knew that he had made himself odious to the Netherlanders. He was
covered with shame. He was fatally stricken with consumption. In June
1583 he left Belgium never to return. Within a twelvemonth he was dead.



Sovereigns and statesmen in the sixteenth century are to be honoured or
condemned according to the degree in which they aimed on the one hand at
preserving political order, and on the other at allowing freedom of
opinion. It was not always easy to reconcile these two aims. The first
was a temporary necessity, and yet was the more urgent--as indeed is
always the case with the tasks of the statesman. He is responsible for
the present; it is not for him to attempt to provide for a remote
future. Political order and the material well-being of nations may be
disastrously impaired by the imprudence or weakness of a ruler. Thought,
after all, may be trusted to take care of itself in the long-run.

To the modern Liberal, with his doctrine of absolute religious equality,
toleration seems an insult, and anything short of toleration is regarded
as persecution. In the sixteenth century the most advanced statesmen did
not see their way to proclaim freedom of public worship and of religious
discussion. It was much if they tolerated freedom of opinion, and
connived at a quiet, private propagation of other religions than those
established by law. It would be wrong to condemn and despise them as
actuated by superstition and narrow-minded prejudice. Their motives were
mainly political, and it is reasonable to suppose that they knew better
than we do whether a larger toleration was compatible with public order.

We have seen that under the Act of Supremacy, in the first year of
Elizabeth, the oath was only tendered to persons holding office,
spiritual or temporal, under the crown, and that the penalty for
refusing it was only deprivation. But in her fifth year (1563), it was
enacted that the oath might be tendered to members of the House of
Commons, schoolmasters, and attorneys, who, if they refused it, might be
punished by forfeiture of property and perpetual imprisonment. To those
who had held any ecclesiastical office, or who should openly disapprove
of the established worship, or celebrate or hear mass, the oath might be
tendered a second time, with the penalties of high treason for refusal.

That this law authorised an atrocious persecution cannot be disputed,
and there is no doubt that many zealous Protestants wished it to be
enforced. But the practical question is, Was it enforced? The government
wished to be armed with the power of using it, and for the purpose of
expelling Catholics from offices it was extensively used. But no one was
at this time visited with the severer penalties, the bishops having been
privately forbidden to tender the oath a second time to any one without
special instructions.

The Act of Uniformity, passed in the first year of Elizabeth,
prohibited the use of any but the established liturgy, whether in public
or private, under pain of perpetual imprisonment for the third offence,
and imposed a fine of one shilling on recusants--that is, upon persons
who absented themselves from church on Sundays and holidays. To what
extent Catholics were interfered with under this Act has been a matter
of much dispute. Most of them, during the first eleven years of
Elizabeth, either from ignorance or worldliness, treated the Anglican
service as equivalent to the Catholic, and made no difficulty about
attending church, even after this compliance with the law had been
forbidden by Pius IV. in the sixth year of Elizabeth. Only the more
scrupulous absented themselves, and called in the ministrations of the
“old priests,” who with more or less secrecy said mass in private
houses. Some of these offenders were certainly punished before Elizabeth
had been two years on the throne. The enforcement of laws was by no
means so uniform in those days as it is now. Much depended on the
leanings of the noblemen and justices of the peace in different
localities. Both from disposition and policy Elizabeth desired, as a
general rule, to connive at Catholic nonconformity when it did not take
an aggressive and fanatical form. But she had no scruple about applying
the penalties of these Acts to individuals who for any reason, religious
or political, were specially obnoxious to her.

So things went on till the northern insurrection: the laws authorising a
searching and sanguinary persecution; the Government, much to the
disgust of zealous Protestants, declining to put those laws in
execution. Judged by modern ideas, the position of the Catholics was
intolerable; but if measured by the principles of government then
universally accepted, or if compared with the treatment of persons ever
so slightly suspected of heresy in countries cursed with the
Inquisition, it was not a position of which they had any great reason to
complain; nor did the large majority of them complain.

Pope Pius IV. (1559-1566) was comparatively cautious and circumspect in
his attitude towards Elizabeth. But his successor Pius V. (1566-1572),
having made up his mind that her destruction was the one thing necessary
for the defeat of heresy in Europe, strove to stir up against her
rebellion at home and invasion from abroad. A bull deposing her, and
absolving her subjects from their allegiance, was drawn up. But while
Pius, conscious of the offence which it would give to all the sovereigns
of Europe, delayed to issue it, the northern rebellion flared up and was
trampled out. The absence of such a bull was by many Catholics made an
excuse for holding aloof from the rebel earls. When it was too late the
bull was issued (Feb. 1570). Philip and Charles IX.--sovereigns first
and Catholics afterwards--refused to let it be published in their

After the northern insurrection the Queen issued a remarkable appeal to
her people, which was ordered to be placarded in every parish, and read
in every church. She could point with honest pride to eleven years of
such peace abroad and tranquillity at home as no living Englishman could
remember. Her economy had enabled her to conduct the government without
any of the illegal exactions to which former sovereigns had resorted.
“She had never sought the life, the blood, the goods, the houses,
estates or lands of any person in her dominions.” This happy state of
things the rebels had tried to disturb on pretext of religion. They had
no real grievance on that score. Attendance at parish church was indeed
obligatory by law, though, she might have added, it was very loosely
enforced. But she disclaimed any wish to pry into opinions, or to
inquire in what sense any one understood rites or ceremonies. In other
words, the language of the communion service was not incompatible with
the doctrine of transubstantiation, and loyal Catholics were at liberty,
were almost invited, to interpret it in that sense if they liked.

This compromise between their religious and political obligations had in
fact been hitherto adopted by the large majority of English Catholics.
But a time was come when it was to be no longer possible for them. They
were summoned to make their choice between their duty as citizens and
their duty as Catholics. The summons had come, not from the Queen, but
from the Pope, and it is not strange that they had thenceforth a harder
time of it. Many of them, indignant with the Pope for bringing trouble
upon them, gave up the struggle and conformed to the Established Church.
The temper of the rest became more bitter and dangerous. The Puritan
Parliament of 1571 passed a bill to compel all persons not only to
attend church, but to receive the communion twice a year; and another
making formal reconciliation to the Church of Rome high treason both for
the convert and the priest who should receive him. Here we have the
persecuting spirit, which was as inherent in the zealous Protestant as
in the zealous Catholic. Attempts to excuse such legislation, as
prompted by political reasons, can only move the disgust of every
honest-minded man. The first of these bills did not receive the royal
assent, though Cecil--just made Lord Burghley--had strenuously pushed it
through the Upper House. Elizabeth probably saw that its only effect
would be to enable the Protestant zealots in every parish to enjoy the
luxury of harassing their quiet Catholic neighbours, who attended church
but would scruple to take the sacrament.

The Protestant spirit of this House of Commons showed itself not only in
laws for strengthening the Government and persecuting the Catholics, but
in attempts to puritanise the Prayer-book, which much displeased the
Queen. Strickland, one of the Puritan leaders, was forbidden to attend
the House. But such was the irritation caused by this invasion of its
privileges, that the prohibition was removed after one day. It was in
this session of Parliament that the doctrines of the Church of England
were finally determined by the imposition on the clergy of the
Thirty-nine Articles, which, as every one knows, are much more
Protestant than the Prayer-book. Till then they had only had the
sanction of Convocation.

During the first forty years or so, from the beginning of the
Reformation, Protestantism spread in most parts of Europe with great
rapidity. It was not merely an intellectual revolt against doctrines no
longer credible. The numbers of the reformers were swelled, and their
force intensified by the flocking in of pious souls, athirst for
personal holiness, and of many others who, without being high-wrought
enthusiasts, were by nature disposed to value whatever seemed to make
for a purer morality. The religion which had nurtured Bernard and À
Kempis was deserted, not merely as being untrue, but as incompatible
with the highest spiritual life--nay, as positively corrupting to
society. This imagination, of course, had but a short day. The return to
the Bible and the doctrines of primitive Christianity, the deliverance
from “the Bishop of Rome and his detestable enormities,” were not found
to be followed by any general improvement of morals in Protestant
countries. He that was unjust was unjust still; he that was filthy was
filthy still. The repulsive contrast too often seen between
sanctimonious professions and unscrupulous conduct contributed to the

In the meanwhile a great regeneration was going on within the Catholic
Church itself. Signs of this can be detected quite as early as the first
rise of Protestantism. It is, therefore, not to be attributed to
Protestant teaching and example, though doubtless the rivalry of the
younger religion stimulated the best energies of the older. No long time
elapsed before this regeneration had worked its way to the highest
places in the Church. The Popes by whom Elizabeth was confronted were
all men of pure lives and single-hearted devotion to the Catholic cause.

The last two years of the Council of Trent (1562-3) were the
starting-point of the modern Catholic Church. Many proposals had been
made for compromise with Protestantism. But the Fathers of Trent saw
that the only chance of survival for a Church claiming to be Catholic
was to remain on the old lines. By the canons and decrees of the
Council, ratified by Pius IV., the old doctrines and discipline were
confirmed and definitely formulated. One branch indeed of the Papal
power was irretrievably gone. Royal authority had become absolute, and
the kings, including Philip II., refused to tolerate any interference
with it. The Papacy had to acquiesce in the loss of its power over
sovereigns. But as regards the bishops and clergy, and things strictly
appertaining to religion, its spiritual autocracy, which the great
councils of the last century had aimed at breaking, was re-established,
and has continued. The new situation, though it seemed to place the
Popes on a humbler footing than in the days of Gregory VII. or Innocent
III., was a healthy one. It confined them to their spiritual domain, and
drove them to make the best of it.

Until the decrees of the Council of Trent, the split between Protestants
and Catholics was not definitely and irrevocably decided. Many on both
sides had shrunk from admitting it. The Catholic world might seem to be
narrowed by the defection of the Protestant States. But all the more
clearly did it appear that a Church claiming to be universal is not
concerned with political boundaries. The resistance to the spread of
heresy had hitherto consisted of many local struggles, in which the
repressive measures had emanated from the orthodox sovereigns, and had
therefore been fitful and unconnected. But not long after the Tridentine
reorganisation, the Pope appears again as commander-in-chief of the
Catholic forces, surveying and directing combined operations from one
end of Europe to the other. Pius IV. had been with difficulty prevented
by Philip from excommunicating Elizabeth. Pius V. had launched his bull,
as we have seen, a few months too late (1570); and even then it was not
allowed to be published in either Spain or France. The life of that Pope
was wasted in earnest remonstrances with the Catholic sovereigns for not
executing the sentence of the Church against the heretic Queen. Gregory
XIII., who succeeded him just before the Bartholomew Massacre, took the
attack into his own hands. He was a warm patron of the Jesuits, who were
especially devoted to the centralising system re-established at Trent.
He and they had made up their minds that England was the key of the
Protestant position; that until Elizabeth was removed no advance was to
be hoped for anywhere.

The decline of a religion may be accompanied by a positive increase of
earnestness and activity on the part of its remaining votaries, deluding
them into a belief that they are but passing through, or have
successfully passed through, a period of temporary depression and
eclipse. Among the Catholics of the latter part of the sixteenth century
there was all the enthusiasm of a religious revival. In no place did
this show itself more than at Oxford. There the weak points of popular
movements have never been allowed to pass without challenge, and what is
really valuable or beautiful in time-worn faiths has been sure of
receiving fair-play and something more. The gloss of the Reformation was
already worn off. The worldly and carnal were its supporters and
directors. It no longer demanded enthusiasm and sacrifice. It walked in
purple and fine linen. Young men of quick intellect and high aspirations
who, a generation earlier, would have been captivated by its fair
promise and have thrown themselves into its current, yielded now to the
eternal spell of the older Church, cleansed as she was of her
pollutions, and purged of her dross by the discipline of adversity.

The leader of these Oxford enthusiasts was a young fellow of Oriel,
William Allen. In the third year of Elizabeth, at the age of
twenty-eight, he resigned the Principalship of St. Mary Hall. The next
eight years were spent partly abroad, partly in secret missionary work
in England, carried on at the peril of his life. The old priests, who
with more or less concealment and danger continued to exercise their
office among the English Catholics, were gradually dying off. In order
to train successors to them, Allen founded an English seminary at Douai
(1568). To this important step it was mainly due that the Catholic
religion did not become extinct in this country. In the first five years
of its existence the college at Douai sent nearly a hundred priests to

It was the aim of Allen to put an end to the practical toleration
allowed to Catholic laymen of the quieter sort. The Catholic who began
by putting in the compulsory number of attendances at his parish church
was likely to end by giving up his faith altogether. If he did not, his
son would. Allen deliberately preferred a sweeping persecution--one that
would make the position of Catholics intolerable, and ripen them for
rebellion. He wanted martyrs. The ardent young men whom he trained at
Douai and (after 1578) at Rheims, went back to their native land with
the clear understanding that of all the services they could render to
the Church the greatest would be to die under the hangman’s knife.

Gregory XIII. hoped great things from Allen’s seminary, and furnished
funds for its support. In 1579 Allen went to Rome, and enlisted the
support of Mercurian, General of the Jesuits. Two English Jesuits,
Robert Parsons and Edward Campion, ex-fellows of Balliol and St. John’s,
were selected as missionaries. Campion was eight years younger than
Allen. He had had a brilliant career at Oxford, being especially
distinguished for his eloquence. He was at that time personally known to
both Cecil and the Queen, and enjoyed their favour. He took deacon’s
orders in 1568, but not long afterwards joined Allen at Douai, and
formally abjured the Anglican Church. He had been six years a Jesuit
when he was despatched on his dangerous mission to England.

Tired of waiting for the initiative of Philip, Gregory XIII. and the
Jesuits had planned a threefold attack on Elizabeth in England,
Scotland, and Ireland. In England a revivalist movement was to be
carried on among the Catholics by the missionaries. Catholic writers
have been at great pains to argue that this was a purely religious
movement, prosecuted with the single object of saving souls. The Jesuits
have always known their men and employed them with discrimination.
Saving of souls was very likely the simple object of a man of Campion’s
saintly and exalted nature. He himself declared that he had been
strictly forbidden to meddle with worldly concerns or affairs of State,
and nothing inconsistent with this declaration was proved against him at
his trial. But without laying any stress on statements extracted from
prisoners under torture, we cannot doubt that his employers aimed at
re-establishing Catholicism in England by rebellion and foreign
invasion. This was thoroughly understood by every missionary who crossed
the sea; and if Campion never alluded to it even in his most familiar
conversations he must have had an extraordinary control over his tongue.

The evidence that the assassination of the Queen was a recognised part
of the Jesuit plan, determined by the master spirits and accepted by all
the subordinate agents, is perhaps not quite conclusive. If proved, it
would only show that they were not more scrupulous than most statesmen
and politicians of the time. Lax as sixteenth century notions were about
political murder, there were always some consciences more tender than
others. It is likely enough that Campion personally disapproved of such
projects, and that they were not thrust upon his attention. But he can
hardly have avoided being aware that they were contemplated by the less
squeamish of his brethren.

Campion and Parsons came to England in disguise in the summer of 1580.
Their mission was not a success. It only served to show how much more
securely Elizabeth was seated on her throne than in the earlier years of
her reign. In his letters to Rome, Campion boasts of the welcome he met
with everywhere, the crowds that attended his preaching, the ardour of
the Catholics, and the disrepute into which Protestantism was falling.
He had evidently worked himself up to such a state of ecstasy that he
was living in a world of his own imagination, and was no competent
witness of facts. He crept about England in various disguises, and when
he was in districts where the nobles and gentry favoured the old
religion, he preached with a publicity which seems extraordinary to us
in these days when the laws are executed with prompt uniformity by means
of railways, telegraphs, and a well-organised police. In the sixteenth
century England had nothing that can be called an organised machinery
for the prevention and detection of crime. If an outbreak occurred the
Government collected militia, and trampled it out with an energy that
took no account of law and feared no consequences. But in ordinary times
it had to depend on the local justices of the peace and parish
constables, and if they were remiss the laws were a dead letter. There
were no newspapers. The high-roads were few and bad. One parish did not
know what was going on in the next. Campion could be passed on from one
gentleman’s house to another on horses quite as good as any officer of
the Government rode, and could travel all over England without ever
using a high-road or showing his face in a town. If he preached to a
hundred people in some Lancashire village, Lord Derby did not want to
know it, and before the news reached Burghley or Walsingham he would be
in another county, or perhaps back in London--then, as now, the safest
of all hiding-places. Thus, though a warrant was issued for his arrest
as soon as he arrived in England, it was not till July in the next year
(1581) that he was taken, after an unusually public and protracted
appearance in the neighbourhood of Oxford.

He had little or nothing to show for his twelve months’ tour, and this
although the Government had, as Allen hoped, allowed itself to be
provoked into an increase of severity which seems to have been quite
unnecessary. The large majority of Catholic laymen would evidently have
preferred that both Seminarists and Jesuits should keep away. They did
not want civil war. They did not want to be persecuted. They were
against a foreign invasion, without which they knew very well that
Elizabeth could not be deposed. They were even loyal to her. They were
content to wait till she should disappear in the course of nature and
make room for the Queen of Scots. Mendoza writes to Philip that “they
place themselves in the hands of God, and are willing to sacrifice life
and all in the service, _but scarcely with that burning zeal which they
ought to show_.”

By the bull of Pius V., Englishmen were forbidden to acknowledge
Elizabeth as their Queen; in other words, they were ordered to expose
themselves to the penalties of treason. If the Pope would be satisfied
with nothing less than this, it was quite certain that he would alienate
most of his followers in England. Gregory XIII. therefore had authorised
the Jesuits to explain that although the Protestants, by _willingly_
acknowledging the Queen, were incurring the damnation pronounced by the
bull, Catholics would be excused for _unwillingly_ acknowledging her
until some opportunity arrived for dethroning her. Protestant writers
have exclaimed against this distinction as treacherous. It was perfectly
reasonable. It represents, for instance, the attitude of every Alsatian
who accords an unwilling recognition to the German Emperor. But the
English Government intolerantly and unwisely made it the occasion for
harassing the consciences of men who were most of them guiltless of any
intention to rebel.

Amongst other persecuting laws passed early in 1581, was one which
raised the fine for non-attendance at church to twenty pounds a month.
Such a measure was calculated to excite much more wide-spread
disaffection than the hanging of a few priests. It was not intended to
be a _brutum fulmen_. The names of all recusants in each parish were
returned to the Council. They amounted to about 50,000, and the fines
exacted became a not inconsiderable item in the royal revenue. That
number certainly formed but a small portion of the Catholic population.
But if all the rest had been in the habit of going to church, contrary
to the Pope’s express injunction, rather than pay a small fine, the
Government ought to have seen that they were not the stuff of which
rebels are made.

Campion, after being compelled by torture to disclose the names of his
hosts in different counties, was called on to maintain the Catholic
doctrines in a three days’ discussion before a large audience against
four Protestant divines, who do not seem to have been ashamed of
themselves. He was offered pardon if he would attend once in church. As
he steadfastly refused, he was racked again till his limbs were
dislocated. When he had partially recovered he was put on his trial,
along with several of his companions, not under any of the recent
anti-catholic laws but under the ordinary statute of Edward III., for
“compassing and imagining the Queen’s death”--such a horror had the
Burghleys and Walsinghams of anything like religious persecution! Being
unable to hold up his hand to plead Not Guilty, “two of his companions
raised it for him, first kissing the broken joints.” According to
Mendoza (whom on other occasions we are invited to accept as a witness
of truth), his nails had been torn from his fingers. Apart from his
religious belief nothing treasonable was proved against him in deed or
word. He acknowledged Elizabeth for his rightful sovereign, as the new
interpretation of the papal bull permitted him to do, but he declined to
give any opinion about the Pope’s right to depose princes. This was
enough for the judge and jury, and he was found guilty. At the place of
execution he was again offered his pardon if he would deny the papal
right of deposition, or even hear a Protestant sermon. He wished the
Queen a long and quiet reign and all prosperity, but more he would not
say. At the quartering “a drop of blood spirted on the clothes of a
youth named Henry Walpole, to whom it came as a divine command. Walpole,
converted on the spot, became a Jesuit, and soon after met the same fate
on the same spot.”

Mr. Froude’s comment is that “if it be lawful in defence of national
independence to kill open enemies in war, it is more lawful to execute
the secret conspirator who is teaching doctrines in the name of God
which are certain to be fatal to it.” It would perhaps be enough to
remark that this reasoning amply justifies some of the worst atrocities
of the French Revolution. Hallam and Macaulay have condemned it by
anticipation in language which will commend itself to all who are not
swayed by religious, or, what is more offensive, anti-religious

Cruel as the English criminal law was, and long remained, it never
authorised the use of torture to extract confession. The rack in the
Tower is said to have made its appearance, with other innovations of
absolute government, in the reign of Edward IV. But it seems to have
been little used before the reign of Elizabeth, under whom it became the
ordinary preliminary to a political trial. For this the chief blame must
rest personally on Burghley. Opinions may differ as to his rank as a
statesman, but no one will contest his eminent talents as a minister of
police. In the former capacity he had sufficient sense of shame to
publish a Pecksniffian apology for his employment of the rack. “None,”
he says, “of those who were at any time put to the rack were asked,
during their torture, any question as to points of doctrine, but merely
concerning their plots and conspiracies, and the persons with whom they
had dealings, and _what was their own opinion_ as to the Pope’s right to
deprive the Queen of her crown.” What was this but a point of doctrine?
The wretched victim who conscientiously believed it (as all Christendom
once did), but wished to save himself by silence, was driven either to
tell a lie or to consign himself to rope and knife. “The Queen’s
servants, the warders, whose office and act it is to handle the rack,
were ever, by those that attended the examinations, specially charged to
use it in so charitable a manner as such a thing might be.” It may be
hoped that there are not many who would dissent from Hallam’s remark
that “such miserable excuses serve only to mingle contempt with our
detestation.” He adds: “It is due to Elizabeth to observe that she
ordered the torture to be disused.” I do not know what authority there
is for this statement. Three years later the Protestant Archbishop of
Dublin was puzzled how to torture the Catholic Archbishop of Cashel,
because there was no “rack or other engine” in Dublin. Walsingham, on
being consulted, suggested that his feet might be toasted against the
fire, which was accordingly done. Some of the Anglican bishops, as might
be expected from fanatics, were forward in recommending torture. But
Cecil was no more of a fanatic than his mistress. What both of them
cared for was not a particular religious belief--they had both of them
conformed to Popery under Queen Mary--but the sovereign’s claim to
prescribe religious belief, or rather religious profession, and they
were provoked with the missionaries for thwarting them. Provoking it
was, no doubt. But everything seems to show that it would have been
better to pursue the earlier policy of the reign; to be content with
enacting severe laws which practically were not put into execution.

The English branch of the Jesuit attack was, for political purposes, a
dead failure. A few persons of rank, who at heart were Catholics before,
were formally reconciled to the Pope. Mendoza claims that among them
were six peers whose names he conceals. These peers, if he is to be
believed, were treasonable enough in their designs. But, even by his
account, they were determined not to stir unless a foreign army should
have first entered England.

How far Mendoza’s master was from seeing his way to attack England at
this time was strikingly shown by his behaviour under the most audacious
outrage that Elizabeth had yet inflicted on him. Some twelve months
before (October 1580), Drake had returned from his famous voyage round
the world. That voyage was nothing else than a piratical expedition, for
which it was notorious that the funds had been mainly furnished by
Elizabeth and Leicester. On sea and land Drake had robbed Philip of
gold, silver, and precious stones to the value of at least £750,000. In
vain did Mendoza clamour for restitution and talk about war. Elizabeth
kept the booty, knighted Drake, and openly showed him every mark of
confidence and favour. When Mendoza told her that as she would not hear
words, they must come to cannon and see if she would hear them, she
replied (“quietly in her most natural voice”) that, if he used threats
of that kind, she would throw him into prison. The correspondence
between the Spanish ambassador and his master shows that, however big
they might talk about cannon, they felt themselves paralysed by
Elizabeth’s intimate relations with France. She had managed to keep free
from any offensive alliance with Henry III. But at the first sound of
the Spanish cannon she could have it. She was, therefore, secure.
Probably the whole history of diplomacy does not show another instance
of such a complicated balance of forces so dexterously manipulated.

The Irish branch of the Papal attack, the landing of the legate Sanders,
the insurrection of Desmond (1579-1583), the massacre of the Pope’s
Italian soldiers at Smerwick (1580), must be passed over here. It is
enough to say that, in Ireland, too, the Catholics were beaten. We turn
now to their attempt to get hold of Scotland (1579-1582).

Scotland was in a state of anarchy, from which it could only be rescued
by an able and courageous king. The nobles, instead of becoming weaker,
as elsewhere, had acquired a strength and independence greater even than
their fathers had enjoyed. Thirty years earlier, the Church had
possessed quite half the land of the country, and had steadily supported
the crown. Almost the whole of this wealth had been seized in one form
or another by the nobles. And though, as compared with English noblemen,
they were still poor in money, they were much bigger men relatively to
their sovereign. The power of the crown was extensive enough in theory.
What was wanted was a king who should know how to convert it into a
reality. That was more than any regent could do. Even Moray had not
succeeded. The house of Douglas was one of the most powerful in
Scotland, and Morton, who had been looked on as its head during the
minority of the Earl of Angus, was an able and daring man. But he had
not the large views, the public spirit, or the integrity of Moray. He
was feared by all, hated by many, respected by none. As a mere party
chief, no one would have been better able to hold his own. As
representing the crown, he had every man’s hand against him. To
subsidise such a man was perfectly useless. If Elizabeth was to make his
cause her own, she might just as well undertake the conquest of Scotland
at once.

The essence of the good understanding between England and France was
that both countries should keep their hands off Scotland. Elizabeth,
knowing that if worst came to worst, she could always be beforehand with
France in the northern kingdom, could afford to respect this
arrangement, and she did mean to respect it. France, on the other hand,
being also well aware of the advantage given to England by geographical
situation, was always tempted to steal a march on her, and even when
most desirous of her alliance, never quite gave up intrigues in
Scotland. This was equally the case whatever party was uppermost at the
French court, whether its policy was being directed by the King or by
the Duke of Guise.

The Jesuits looked on Guise as their fighting man, who was to do the
work which they could not prevail on crowned heads to undertake. James,
though only thirteen, had been declared of age. It was too late to think
of deposing him. If his character was feeble, his understanding and
acquirements were much beyond his years, and his preferences were
already a force to be reckoned with in Scotch politics. His interests
were evidently opposed to those of his mother. But the Jesuits hoped to
persuade him that his seat would never be secure unless he came to a
compromise with her on the terms that he was to accept the crown as her
gift and recognise her joint-sovereignty. This would throw him entirely
into the hands of the Catholic nobles, and would be a virtual
declaration of war against Elizabeth. He would have to proclaim himself
a Catholic, and call in the French. It was hoped that Philip, jealous
though he had always been of French interference, would not object to an
expedition warranted by the Jesuits and commanded by Guise, who was more
and more sinking into a tool of Spain and Rome. A combined army of
Scotch and French would pour across the Border. It would be joined by
the English Catholics. Elizabeth would be deposed, and Mary set on the

It was a pretty scheme on paper, but certain to break down in every
stage of its execution. James might chaffer with his mother; but, young
as he was, he knew well that she meant to overreach him. He would be
glad enough to get rid of Morton, but he did not want to be a puppet in
the hands of the Marians. He did not like the Presbyterian preachers;
but the young pedant already valued himself on his skill in confuting
the apologists of Popery. He resented Elizabeth’s lectures; but he knew
that his succession to the English crown depended on her good will, and
he meant to keep on good terms with her. No approval of the scheme could
be obtained from Philip, and if he did not peremptorily forbid the
expedition, it was because he did not believe it would come off. If a
French army had appeared in Scotland, it would have been treated as all
foreigners were in that country. And finally, if, _per impossibile_, the
French and Scotch had entered England, they would have been overwhelmed
by such an unanimous uprising of the English people of all parties and
creeds as had never been witnessed in our history.

Historians, who would have us believe that Elizabeth was constantly
bringing England to the verge of ruin by her stinginess and want of
spirit, represent this combination as highly formidable. It required
careful watching; but the only thing that could make it really dangerous
was rash and premature employment of force by England--the course
advocated not only by Burghley, but by the whole Council. Elizabeth
seems to have stood absolutely alone in her opinion; but here, as
always, though she allowed her ministers to speak their minds freely,
she did not fear to act on her own judgment against their unanimous

To carry out their schemes, Guise and the Jesuits sent to Scotland a
nephew of the late Regent Lennox, Esmé Stuart, who had been brought up
in France, and bore the title of Count d’Aubigny (September 1579). He
speedily won the heart of the King, who created him Earl, and afterwards
Duke of Lennox. Elizabeth soon obtained proof of his designs, and urged
Morton to resist them by force. But the favourite, professing to be
converted to Protestantism, enlisted the preachers on his side, and, by
this unnatural coalition, Morton was brought to the scaffold (June
1581). During the interval between his arrest and execution, the English
Council were urgent with Elizabeth to invade Scotland, rescue the
Anglophile leader, and crush Lennox. She went all lengths in the way of
threats. Lord Hunsdon was even ordered to muster an army on the Border.
But this last step at once produced an energetic protest from the
French ambassador; and in Scotland there was a general rally of all
parties against the “auld enemies.” Elizabeth had never meant to make
her threats good, and Morton was left to his fate. She was quite right
not to invade Scotland; but, that being her intention, she should not
have tempted Morton to treason by the promise of her protection. No male
statesman would have been so insensible to dishonour.

The death of the man who, next to Moray, had been the mainstay of the
Reformation and the scourge of the Marian party, was received with a
shout of exultation from Catholic Europe. Already in their heated
imaginations the Jesuits saw the Kirk overthrown and the vantage ground
gained for an attack on England. Some modern historians--with less
excuse, since they have the sequel before their eyes--make the same
blunder. The situation was really unchanged. Morton, who had the true
antipathy of a Scottish noble to clerics of all sorts, had plundered the
Kirk ministers, and tried to bring them under the episcopal yoke. He had
quarrelled with most of his old associates of the Congregation. It was
their enmity quite as much as the attack of Lennox that had pulled him
down. When he was out of the way they naturally reverted to an
Anglophile policy. The weakness of the Catholic party was plainly shown
by the fact that Lennox himself, the pupil of the Jesuits, never
ventured to throw off the disguise of a heretic.

The further development of the Jesuit scheme met with difficulties on
all sides. Most even of the Catholic lords were alarmed by the
suggestion that James should hold the crown by the gift of his mother,
because it would imply that hitherto he had not been lawful King; and
this would invalidate their titles to all the lands they had grabbed
from Church and crown during the last fourteen years. It would seem
therefore that, if they had harassed the Government during all that
time, it was from a liking for anarchy rather than from attachment to
Mary. Two Jesuits, Crichton and Holt, who were sent in disguise to
Scotland, found Lennox desponding. He was obliged to confess that,
greatly as he had fascinated the King, he could not move him an inch in
his religious opinions. On the contrary, James imagined that his
controversial skill had converted Lennox, and was extremely proud of the
feat. The only course remaining was to seize him, and send him to France
or Spain, Lennox in the meantime administering the Government in the
name of Mary. But to carry out this stroke, Lennox said he must have a
foreign army. In view of the mutual jealousy of France and Spain it was
suggested that, if Philip would furnish money underhand, the Pope might
send an Italian army direct to Scotland, _viâ_ the Straits of Gibraltar.
Crichton went to Rome to arrange this precious scheme, and Holt was
proceeding to Madrid. But Philip forbade him to come. If Lennox could
convert James, or send him to Spain, well and good. But until one of
these preliminaries was accomplished he was to expect no help from
Philip. Nor were prospects more hopeful on the side of France. Mary from
her prison implored Guise to undertake the long-planned expedition. But
he would not venture it without the assent of his own sovereign and the
King of Spain. While he was hesitating, the Anglophiles patched up their
differences and got possession of the King’s person (Raid of Ruthven,
August 1582). His tears were unavailing. “Better bairns greet,” said the
Master of Glamis, “than bearded men.” The favourite fled to France,
where he died in the next year.

Thus once more had it been clearly shown that if the Anglophiles were
left to depend on themselves they would not fail to do all that was
necessary to safeguard English interests. “Anglophiles” is a convenient
appellation. But, strictly speaking, there was no party in Scotland that
loved England. There was a religious party to whom it was of the highest
importance that Elizabeth should be safe and powerful. She was therefore
certain of its co-operation. This party would not be always uppermost;
for Scottish nobles were too selfish, too treacherous, too much
interested in disorder to permit any stability. But, whether in power or
in opposition, it would be able and it would be obliged to serve English
interests. There was only one way in which it could be paralysed or
alienated, and that was by a recurrence on the part of England to the
traditions of armed interference inherited by Elizabeth’s councillors
from Henry VIII. and the Protector Somerset.

Such is the plain history of this Jesuit and Papal scheme which we are
asked to believe was so dangerous to England and so inadequately handled
by Elizabeth. She had not shown much concern for her honour. But her
coolness, her intrepidity, her correct estimate of the forces with which
she had to deal, her magnificent confidence in her own judgment, saved
England from the endless expenditure of blood and treasure into which
her advisers would have plunged, and prolonged the formal peace with her
three principal neighbours, a peace of already unexampled duration, and
of incalculable advantage to her country.

The policy which Elizabeth had thus deliberately adopted towards
Scotland she persisted in. The successful Anglophiles clamoured for
pensions, and her ministers were for gratifying them. She was willing to
give a moderate pension to James, but not a penny to the nobles. “Her
servants and favourites,” she said, “professed to love her for her high
qualities, Alençon for her beauty, and the Scots for her crown; but they
all wanted the same thing in the end; they wanted nothing but her money,
and they should not have it.” She had ascertained that James regarded
his mother as his rival for the crowns of both kingdoms, and that,
whatever he might sometimes pretend, his real wish was that she should
be kept under lock and key. She had also satisfied herself that the
Scottish noblemen on whom Mary counted would, with very few exceptions,
throw every difficulty in the way of her restoration, out of regard for
their own private interests--the only _datum_ from which it was safe to
calculate in dealing with a Scottish nobleman. She therefore felt
herself secure. By communicating her knowledge to Mary she could show
her the hopelessness of her intrigues in Scotland; while a resumption of
friendly negotiations for her restoration would always be a cheap and
effectual way of intimidating James. Thus she could look on with
equanimity when his new favourite Stewart, Earl of Arran,[5] again
chased the Anglophiles into England (December 1583). Arran himself
urgently entreated her to accept him and his young master as the genuine
Anglophiles. Walsingham’s voice was still for war. But, with both
factions at her feet and suing for her favour, Elizabeth had good reason
to be satisfied with her policy of leaving the Scottish nobles to worry
it out among themselves.



We are now approaching the great crisis of the reign--some may think of
English history--the grand struggle with Spain; a struggle which, if
Elizabeth had allowed herself to be guided by her most celebrated
counsellors, would have been entered upon a quarter of a century
earlier. England was then unarmed and weighed down with a load of debt,
the legacy of three thriftless and pugnacious reigns. The population was
still mainly Catholic. The great nobles still thought themselves a match
for the crown, and many of them longed to make one more effort to assert
their old position in the State. Trade and industry were languishing.
The poorer classes were suffering and discontented. Scotland was in the
hands of a most dangerous enemy, whose title to the English crown was
held by many to be better than Elizabeth’s. Philip II., as yet
unharassed by revolt, seemed almost to have drawn England as a sort of
satellite into the vast orbit of his empire.

Nearly a generation had now passed away since Elizabeth ascended the
throne. Every year of it had seen some amendment in the condition of
the country. Under a pacific and thrifty Government taxation had been
light beyond precedent. All debts, even those of Henry VIII., had been
honourably paid off. While the lord of American gold mines and of the
richest commercial centres in Europe could not raise a loan on any
terms, Elizabeth could borrow when she pleased at five per cent. But she
had ceased to borrow, for she had a modest surplus stored in her
treasury, a department of the administration managed under her own close
personal supervision. A numerous militia had been enrolled and partially
trained. Large magazines of arms had been accumulated. A navy had been
created; not a large one indeed; but it did not need to be large, for
the warship of those days did not differ from the ordinary vessel of
commerce, nor was its crew differently trained. The royal navy could
therefore be indefinitely increased if need arose. Philip’s great
generals, Alva and Parma, had long come to the conclusion that the
conquest of England would be the most difficult enterprise their master
could undertake. The wealth of landed proprietors and traders had
increased enormously. New manufactures had been started by exiles from
the Netherlands. New branches of foreign commerce had been opened up.
The poor were well employed and contented. I believe it would be
impossible to find in the previous history of England, or, for that
matter, of Europe, since the fall of the Roman Empire, any instance of
peace, prosperity, and good government extending over so many years.

Looking abroad we find that in all directions the strength and security
of Elizabeth’s position had been immensely increased. Her ministers,
especially Walsingham--for Burghley in his old age came at last to see
more with the eyes of his mistress--believed that by a more spirited
policy Scotland might have been converted into a submissive and valuable
ally. Elizabeth alone saw that this was impossible; that, so treated,
Scotland would become to England what Holland was to Philip, what “the
Spanish ulcer” was afterwards to Napoleon--a fatal drain on her strength
and resources. It was enough for Elizabeth if the northern kingdom was
so handled as to be harmless; and this, as I have shown, was in fact its
condition from the moment that the only Scottish ruler who could be
really dangerous was locked up in England.

The Dutch revolt crippled Philip. The conquest of England was postponed
till the Dutch revolt should be suppressed. Why then, it has been asked,
did not Elizabeth support the Dutch more vigorously? The answer is a
simple one. If she had done so the suppression of the Dutch revolt would
have been postponed to the conquest of England. This is proved by the
events now to be related. Elizabeth was obliged by new circumstances to
intervene more vigorously in the Netherlands, and the result was the
Armada. If the attack had come ten or fifteen years earlier the fortune
of England might have been different.

Elizabeth’s foreign policy has been judged unfavourably by writers who
have failed to keep in view how completely it turned on her relations
with France. Though her interests and those of Henry III. cannot be
called identical, they coincided sufficiently to make it possible to
keep up a good understanding which was of the highest advantage to both
countries. But to maintain this good understanding there was need of the
coolest temper and judgment on the part of the rulers; for the two
peoples were hopelessly hostile. They were like two gamecocks in
adjoining pens. The Spaniards were respected and liked by our
countrymen. Their grave dignity, even their stiff assumption of
intrinsic superiority, were too like our own not to awake a certain
appreciative sympathy. Whereas all Englishmen from peer to peasant would
at any time have enjoyed a tussle with France, until its burdens began
to be felt.

Henry III., with whom the Valois dynasty was about to expire, was far
from being the incompetent driveller depicted by most historians. He had
good abilities, plenty of natural courage when roused, and a thorough
comprehension of the politics of his day. His aims and plans were well
conceived. But with no child to care for, and immersed in degrading
self-indulgence, he wearied of the exertions and sacrifices necessary
for carrying them through. Short spells of sensible and energetic action
were succeeded by periods of unworthy lassitude and pusillanimous
surrender. Before he came to the throne he had been the chief organiser
of the Bartholomew Massacre. As King he naturally inclined, like
Elizabeth, William of Orange, and Henry of Navarre, to make
considerations of religion subordinate to considerations of State. Both
he and Navarre would have been glad to throw over the fanatical or
factious partisans by whom they were surrounded, and rally the
_Politiques_ to their support. But it was a step that neither as yet
ventured openly to take. The one was obliged to affect zeal for the old
religion, the other for the new.

Elizabeth’s ministers, with short-sighted animosity, had been urging her
throughout her reign to give vigorous support to the Huguenots. She
herself took a broader view of the situation. She preferred to deal with
the legitimate government of France recognised by the vast majority of
Frenchmen. Henry III., as she well knew, did not intend or desire to
exterminate the Huguenots. If that turbulent faction had been openly
abetted in its arrogant claims by English assistance, he would have been
obliged to become the mere instrument of Elizabeth’s worst enemies,
Guise and the Holy League. France would have ceased to be any
counterpoise to Spain. The English Queen had so skilfully played a most
difficult and delicate game that Henry of Navarre had been able to keep
his head above water; Guise had upon the whole been held in check; the
royal authority, though impaired, had still controlled the foreign
policy of France, and so, since 1572, had given England a firm and
useful ally. As long as this balanced situation could be maintained,
England was safe.

But the time was now at hand when this nice equilibrium of forces would
be disturbed by events which neither Elizabeth nor any one else could
help. Alençon, the last of the Valois line, was dying. When he should be
gone, the next heir to the French King would be no other than the
Huguenot Henry of Bourbon, King of the tiny morsel of Navarre that lay
north of the Pyrenees. Henry III. wished to recognise his right. But it
was impossible that Guise or Philip, or the French nation itself, should
tolerate this prospect. Thus the great war of religion which Elizabeth
had so carefully abstained from stirring up was now inevitable. The
French alliance, the key-stone of her policy, was about to crumble away
with the authority of the French King which she had buttressed up. He
would be compelled either to become the mere instrument of the Papal
party or to combine openly with the Huguenot leader. In either case,
Guise, not Henry III., would be the virtual sovereign, and Elizabeth’s
alliance would not be with France but with a French faction. She would
thus be forced into the position which she had hitherto refused to
accept--that of sole protector of French and Dutch Protestants, and open
antagonist of Spain. The more showy part she was now to play has been
the chief foundation of her glory with posterity. It is a glory which
she deserves. The most industrious disparagement will never rob her of
it. But the sober student will be of opinion that her reputation as a
statesman has a more solid basis in the skill and firmness with which
during so many years she staved off the necessity for decisive action.

Although the discovery of the Throgmorton plot (Nov. 1583), and the
consequent expulsion of the Spanish ambassador, Mendoza, were not
immediately followed by open war between England and Spain, yet the
course of events thenceforward tended directly to that issue. Elizabeth
immediately proposed to the Dutch States to form a naval alliance
against Spain, and to concert other measures for mutual defence. Orange
met the offer with alacrity, and pressed Elizabeth to accept the
sovereignty of Holland, Zealand, and Utrecht. Perhaps there was no
former ruler of England who would not have clutched at such an
opportunity of territorial aggrandisement. For Elizabeth it had no
charms. Every sensible person now will applaud the sobriety of her aims.
But though she eschewed territory, she desired to have military
occupation of one or more coast fortresses, at all events for a time,
both as a security for the fidelity of the Dutch to any engagements they
might make with her, and to enable her to treat on more equal terms with
France or Spain, if the Netherlands were destined, after all, to fall
into the hands of one of those powers.

While these negotiations were in progress, William of Orange was
murdered (June 30/July 10, 1584). Alençon had died a month earlier. The
sovereignty of the revolted Netherlands was thus vacant. Elizabeth
advised a joint protectorate by France and England. But the Dutch had
small confidence in protectorates, especially of the joint kind. What
they wanted was a sovereign, and as Elizabeth would not accept them as
her subjects they offered themselves to Henry III. But after nibbling at
the offer for eight months Henry was obliged to refuse it. His openly
expressed intention to recognise the King of Navarre as his heir had
caused a revival of the Holy League. During the winter 1584-5 its
reorganisation was busily going on. Philip promised to subsidise it.
Mendoza, now ambassador at Paris, was its life and soul. The
insurrection was on the point of breaking out. Henry III. knew that the
vast majority of Frenchmen were Catholics. To accept the Dutch offer
would, he feared, drive them all into the ranks of the Holy League. He
therefore dismissed the Dutch envoys with the recommendation that they
should apply to England for protection (February 28/March 10, 1585).

The manifesto of the Leaguers appeared at the end of March (1585). Henry
of Navarre was declared incapable, as a Protestant, of succeeding to the
crown. Henry III. was summoned to extirpate heresy. To enforce these
demands the Leaguers flew to arms all over France. Had Henry III. been a
man of spirit he would have placed himself at the head of the loyal
Catholics and fought it out. But by the compact of Nemours he conceded
all the demands of the League (June 28/July 7, 1585). Thus began the
last great war of religion, which lasted till Henry of Navarre was
firmly seated on the throne of France.

Elizabeth had now finally lost the French alliance, the sheet-anchor of
her policy since 1572, and she prepared for the grand struggle which
could no longer be averted. As France failed her, she must make the best
of the Dutch alliance. She did not conceal from herself that she would
have to do her share of the fighting. But she was determined that the
Dutch should also do theirs. Deprived of all hope of help from France
they wished for annexation to the English crown, because solidarity
between the two countries would give them an unlimited claim upon
English resources. Elizabeth uniformly told them, first and last, that
nothing should induce her to accept that proposal. She would give them a
definite amount of assistance in men and money. But every farthing
would have to be repaid when the war was over; and in the meantime she
must have Flushing and Brill as security. They must also bind themselves
to make proper exertions in their own defence. Gilpin, her agent in
Zealand, had warned her that if she showed herself too forward they
would simply throw the whole burden of the war upon her. Splendid as had
often been the resistance of separate towns when besieged, there had
been, from the first, lamentable selfishness and apathy as to measures
for combined defence. The States had less than 6000 men in the
field--half of them English volunteers--at the very time when they were
assuring Elizabeth that, if she would come to their assistance, they
could and would furnish 15,000. She was justified in regarding their
fine promises with much distrust.

While this discussion was going on, Antwerp was lost. The blame of the
delay, if blame there was, must be divided equally between the
bargainers. The truth is that, cavil as they might about details, the
strength of the English contingent was not the real object of concern to
either of them. Each was thinking of something else. Though Elizabeth
had so peremptorily refused the sovereignty offered by the United
Provinces, they were still bent on forcing it upon her. She, on the
other hand, had not given up the hope that her more decisive
intervention would drive Philip to make the concessions to his revolted
subjects which she had so often urged upon him. In her eyes, Philip’s
sovereignty over them was indefeasible. They were, perhaps, justified
in asserting their ancient constitutional rights. But if those were
guaranteed, continuance of the rebellion would be criminal. Moreover,
she held that elected deputies were but amateur statesmen, and had
better leave the _haute politique_ to princes to settle. “Princes,” she
once told a Dutch deputation, “are not to be charged with breach of
faith if they sometimes listen to both sides; for they transact business
in a princely way and with a princely understanding such as private
persons cannot have.” Her promise not to make peace behind their backs
was not to be interpreted as literally as if it had been made to a
brother prince. It merely bound her--so she contended--not to make peace
without safeguarding their interests; that is to say, what she
considered to be their true interests. Conduct based on such a theory
would not be tolerated now, and was not tamely acquiesced in by the
Dutch then. But to speak of it as base and treacherous is an abuse of

It would be impossible to follow in detail the peace negotiations which
went on between Elizabeth and Parma up to the very sailing of the Armada
(1586-8). The terms on which the Queen was prepared to make peace never
varied substantially from first to last. We know very well what they
were. She claimed for the Protestants of the Netherlands (who were a
minority, perhaps, even in the rebel provinces) precisely the same
degree of toleration which she allowed to her own Catholics. They were
not to be questioned about their religion; but there was to be no public
worship or proselytising. The old constitution, as before Alva, was to
be restored, which would have involved the departure of the foreign
troops. These terms would not have satisfied the States, and if Philip
could have been induced to grant them, the States and Elizabeth must
have parted company. But, as he would make no concessions, the
Anglo-Dutch alliance could, and did, continue. The cautionary towns she
was determined never to give up to any one unless (first) she was repaid
her expenses for which they had been mortgaged, and (secondly) the
struggle in the Netherlands was brought to an end on terms which she
approved. There was, therefore, never any danger of their being
surrendered to Philip, and they did, in fact, remain in Elizabeth’s
hands till her death.

Elizabeth has been severely censured for selecting Leicester to command
the English army in the Netherlands. It is certain that he was marked
out by public opinion as the fittest person. The Queen’s choice was
heartily approved by all her ministers, especially by Walsingham, who
kept up the most confidential relations with Leicester, and backed him
throughout. Custom prescribed that an English army should be commanded,
not by a professional soldier, but by a great nobleman. Among the
nobility there were a few who had done a little soldiering in a rough
way in Scotland or Ireland, but no one who could be called a
professional general. The momentous step which Elizabeth was taking
would have lost half its significance in the eyes of Europe if any less
conspicuous person than Leicester had been appointed. Moreover, it was
essential that the nobleman selected should be able and willing to spend
largely out of his own resources. By traditional usage, derived from
feudal times, peers who were employed on temporary services not only
received no salary, but were expected to defray their own expenses, and
defray them handsomely. Never did an English nobleman show more public
spirit in this respect than Leicester. He raised every penny he could by
mortgaging his estates. He not only paid his own personal expenses, but
advanced large sums for military purposes, which his mistress never
thought of repaying him. If he effected little as a general, it was
because he was not provided with the means. Serious mistakes he
certainly made, but they were not of a military kind.

Leicester was now fifty-four, bald, white-bearded, and red-faced, but
still imposing in figure, carriage, and dress. To Elizabeth he was dear
as the friend of her youth, one who, she was persuaded, had loved her
for herself when they were both thirty years younger, and was still her
most devoted and trustworthy servant. Burghley she liked and trusted,
and all the more since he had become a more docile instrument of her
policy. Walsingham, a keener intellect and more independent character,
she could not but value, though impatient under his penetrating
suspicion and almost constant disapproval. Leicester was the intimate
friend, the frequent companion of her leisure hours. None of her younger
favourites had supplanted him in her regard. By long intimacy he knew
the _molles aditus et tempora_ when things might be said without offence
which were not acceptable at the council-board. The other ministers were
glad to use him for this purpose. There can be no question that his
appointment to the command in the Netherlands was meant as the most
decisive indication that could be given of Elizabeth’s determination to
face open war with Philip rather than allow him to establish absolute
government in that country.

Since the deaths of Alençon and William of Orange, the United Provinces
had been without a ruler. The government had been provisionally carried
on by the “States,” or deputies from each province. Leicester had come
with no other title than that of Lieutenant-General of the Queen’s
troops. But what the States wanted was not so much a military leader as
a sovereign ruler. They therefore urged Leicester to accept the powers
and title of Governor-General, the office which had been held by the
representatives of Philip. From this it would follow, both logically and
practically, that Elizabeth herself stood in the place of Philip--in
other words, that she was committed to the sovereignty which she had so
peremptorily refused.

The offer was accepted by Leicester almost immediately after his arrival
(Jan. 14/24, 1586). There can be little doubt that it was a preconcerted
plan between the States and Elizabeth’s ministers, who had all along
supported the Dutch proposals. Leicester, we know, had contemplated it
before leaving England. Davison, who was in Holland, hurried it on, and
undertook to carry the news to Elizabeth. Burghley and Walsingham
maintained that the step had been absolutely necessary, and implored her
not to undo it. Elizabeth herself had suspected that something of the
sort would be attempted, and had strictly enjoined Leicester at his
departure to accept no such title. It was not that she wished his
powers--that is to say, her own powers--to be circumscribed. On the
contrary, she desired that they should in practice be as large and
absolute as possible. What she objected to was the title, with all the
consequences it involved. And what enraged her most of all was the
attempt of her servants to push the thing through behind her back, on
the calculation that she would be obliged to accept the accomplished
fact. Her wrath vented itself on all concerned, on her ministers, on the
States, and on Leicester. To the latter she addressed a characteristic

     “_To my Lord of Leicester from the Queen by Sir Thomas Heneage._

     “How contemptuously we conceive ourself to have been used by you,
     you shall by this bearer understand, whom we have expressly sent
     unto you to charge you withal. We could never have imagined, had we
     not seen it fall out in experience, that a man raised up by ourself
     and extraordinarily favoured by us above any other subject of this
     land, would have in so contemptible [contemptuous] a sort, broken
     our commandment, in a cause that so greatly toucheth us in honour;
     whereof although you have showed yourself to make but little
     account, in most undutiful a sort, you may not therefore think that
     we have so little care of the reparation thereof as we mind to pass
     so great a wrong in silence unredressed. And therefore our express
     pleasure and command is that, all delays and excuses laid apart,
     you do presently, on the duty of your allegiance, obey and fulfil
     whatsoever the bearer hereof shall direct you to do in our name.
     Whereof fail not, as you will answer the contrary at your uttermost

Nor were these cutting reproaches reserved for his private perusal. She
severely rebuked the States for encouraging “a creature of her own” to
disobey her injunctions, and, as a reparation from them and from him,
she required that he should make a public resignation of the government
in the place where he had accepted it.

It is not to be wondered at that Elizabeth should think the vindication
of her outraged authority to be the most pressing requirement of the
moment. But the result was unfortunate for the object of the expedition.
The States had conferred “absolute” authority upon Leicester, and would
have thought it a cheap price to pay if, by their adroit manœuvre,
they had succeeded in forcing the Queen’s hand. But they did not care to
entrust absolute powers to a mere general of an English contingent.
After long discussion, Elizabeth was at length persuaded that the least
of evils was to allow him to retain the title which the States had
conferred on him (June 1586). But in the meantime they had repented of
their haste in letting power go out of their own hands. Their efforts
were thenceforth directed to explain away the term “absolute.” The long
displeasure of the Queen had destroyed the principal value of Leicester
in their eyes. He himself had soon incurred their dislike. Impetuous and
domineering, he could not endure opposition. Every man who did not fall
in with his plans was a malicious enemy, a traitor, a tool of Parma, who
ought to be hanged. He still enjoyed the favour of the democratic and
bigoted Calvinist party, especially in Utrecht, and he tried to play
them off against the States, thereby promoting the rise of the factions
which long afterwards distracted the United Provinces. The displeasure
of the Queen had taken the shape of not sending him money, and his
troops were in great distress and unable to move. Moreover, rumours of
the secret peace negotiations were craftily spread by Parma, who,
knowing well that they would come to nothing, turned them to the best
account by leading the States to suspect that they were being betrayed
to Spain.

Elizabeth had sent her army abroad more as a warning to Philip than with
a view to active operations. It was no part of her plan to recover any
of the territory already conquered by Parma, even if it had lain in her
power. She knew that the majority of its inhabitants were Catholics and
royalists. She knew also that Parma’s attenuated army was considerably
outnumbered by the Anglo-Dutch forces, and that he was in dire distress
for food and money. The recovered provinces were completely ruined by
the war. Their commerce was swept from the sea. The mouths of their
great rivers were blockaded. The Protestants of Flanders and Brabant had
largely migrated to the unsubdued provinces, whose prosperity,
notwithstanding the burdens of war, was advancing by leaps and bounds.
Their population was about two millions. That of England itself was
little more than four. Religion was no longer the only or the chief
motive of their resistance. For even the Catholics among them, who were
still very numerous--some said a majority--keenly relished the material
prosperity which had grown with independence. Encouraged by English
protection, the States were in no humour to listen to compromise. But a
compromise was what Elizabeth desired. She was therefore not unwilling
that her forces should be confined to an attitude of observation, till
it should appear whether her open intervention would extract from
Philip such concessions as she deemed reasonable.

Leicester was eager to get to work, and he was warmly supported by
Walsingham. Burghley’s conduct was less straightforward. He had long
found it advisable to cultivate amicable relations with the favourite.
He had probably concurred in the plan for making him Governor-General.
Even now he was professing to take his part. In reality he was not sorry
to see him under a cloud; and though he sympathised as much as ever with
the Dutch, he cared more for crippling his rival. Hence his activity in
those obscure peace negotiations which he so carefully concealed from
Leicester and Walsingham. To keep Walsingham long in the dark, on that
or any other subject, was indeed impossible. It was found necessary at
last to let him be present at an interview with the agents employed by
Burghley and Parma, which brought their back-stairs diplomacy to an
abrupt conclusion. “They that have been the employers of them,” he wrote
to Leicester, “are ashamed of the matter.” The negotiations went on
through other channels, but never made any serious progress.

To compel Philip to listen to a compromise, without at the same time
emboldening the Dutch to turn a deaf ear to it--such was the problem
which Elizabeth had set herself. She therefore preferred to apply
pressure in other quarters. Towards the end of 1585, Drake appeared on
the coast of Spain itself, and plundered Vigo. Then crossing the
Atlantic, he sacked and burned St. Domingo and Carthagena. Again in
1587, he forced his way into Cadiz harbour, burnt all the shipping and
the stores collected for the Armada, and for two months plundered and
destroyed every vessel he met off the coast of Portugal.

Philip had so long and so tamely submitted to the many injuries and
indignities which Elizabeth heaped upon him, that it is not wonderful if
she had come to think that he would never pluck up courage to retaliate.
This time she was wrong. The conquest of England had always had its
place in his overloaded programme. But it was to be in that hazy
ever-receding future, when he should have put down the Dutch rebellion
and neutralised France. Elizabeth’s open intervention in the Netherlands
at length induced him to change his plan. England, he now decided, must
be first dealt with.

In the meantime, Parma’s operations in the Netherlands were starved
quite as much as Leicester’s. Plundering excursions, two or three petty
combats not deserving the name of battles, half-a-dozen small towns
captured on one side or the other--such is the military record from the
date of Elizabeth’s intervention to the arrival of the Armada. Parma had
somewhat the best of this work, such as it was. But the war in the
Netherlands was practically stagnant.

At the end of the first year of Leicester’s government, events of the
highest importance obliged him to pay a visit to England (Nov. 1586).
The Queen of Scots had been found guilty of conspiring to assassinate
Elizabeth, and Parliament had been summoned to decide upon her fate.



Throgmorton’s plot--of which the Queen of Scots was undoubtedly
cognisant, though it was not pressed against her--brought home to every
one the danger in which Elizabeth stood (1584). To the Catholic
conspiracy, the temptation to take her life was enormous. It was
becoming clear that, while she lived, the much talked of insurrection
would never come off. The large majority of Catholics would have nothing
to do with it--still less with foreign invasion. They would obey their
lawful sovereign. But if once Elizabeth were dead, by whatever means,
their lawful sovereign would be Mary. The rebels would be the
Protestants, if they should try to place any one else on the throne. The
Protestants had no organisation. They had no candidate for the crown
ready. It was to be feared that no great noble would step forward to
lead them. Burghley himself, though longing as much as ever for Mary’s
head, had with a prudent eye to all eventualities, contrived some time
before to persuade her that he was her well-wisher. Houses of Commons,
it is true, had shown themselves strongly and increasingly Protestant.
But with the demise of the crown, Parliament, if in being at the time,
would be _ipso facto_ dissolved. The Privy Council, in like manner,
would cease to have any legal existence. Burghley, Walsingham, and the
other new men of whom it was mostly composed, had no power or weight,
except as instruments of the sovereign. Her death would leave them
helpless. The country would take its direction not from them, but from
the great nobles of large ancestral possessions. Nor could they provide
for such an emergency by privately selecting a Protestant successor
beforehand, and privately organising their partisans. It would have been
as much as their lives were worth if their mistress had caught them
doing anything of the kind.

In this dilemma an ingenious plan suggested itself to them. They drew up
a “Bond of Association,” by which the subscribers engaged that, if the
Queen were murdered, they would never accept as successor any one “by
whom _or for whom_” such act should be committed, but would “prosecute
such person to death.”

This was a hypothetical way of excluding Mary and organising a
Protestant resistance to which Elizabeth could make no objection. But
the ministers knew that, as a merely voluntary association without
Parliamentary sanction, it would add little strength or confidence to
the Protestant party. It would not even test their numbers; for no
Marian ventured to refuse the oath. Mary herself desired to be allowed
to take it. The bond was therefore converted into a Statute by
Parliament, though not without some important alterations (March 1585).
It was enacted that if the realm was invaded, or a rebellion instigated,
by _or for_ any one pretending a title to the succession, or if the
Queen’s murder was plotted by any one, or with the privity of any one
that pretended title, such pretender, _after examination and judgment_
by an extraordinary commission to be nominated by the Queen, and
consisting of at least twenty-four privy councillors and lords of
Parliament assisted by the chief judges, should be excluded from the
succession, and that, on proclamation of the sentence and direction by
the Queen, all subjects might and should pursue the offender to death.
If the Queen were murdered, the lords of the Council at the time of her
death, or the majority of them, should join to themselves at least
twelve other lords of Parliament not making title to the crown, and the
chief judges; and if, after examination, they should come to the
above-mentioned conclusion, they should without delay, by all forcible
and possible means, prosecute the guilty persons to death, and should
have power to raise and use such forces as should in that behalf be
needful and convenient; and no subjects should be liable to punishment
for anything done according to the tenor of the Statute.

Here, then, was a legal way provided by which the Protestant ministers
might act against Mary if Elizabeth were murdered. They were in fact
creating a Provisional Government, with power to exclude Mary from the
throne. Whether they would have the courage or strength to do so
remained to be seen; but they would at least have formal law on their

It had never entered into Mary’s plans to wait for Elizabeth’s natural
death. She therefore read the new Act as a sentence of exclusion.
Another blow soon fell on her. In 1584, elated by her son’s victory
over the raiders of Ruthven, and believing that he was willing to
recognise her joint sovereignty and co-operate with a Guise invasion,
she had scornfully refused the last overtures that Elizabeth ever made
to her. She now learnt that he had never intended to accept association
with her, and that he had urged Elizabeth not to release her. In the
following year he had accepted an annual pension of £4000 with some
grumbling at its amount; and a defensive alliance was at length
concluded between the two countries, Mary’s name not being mentioned in
the treaty (July 1586).

As the prospects of the Scottish Queen became darker both in England and
her own country, she grew more desperate and reckless. Early in 1586,
Walsingham contrived a way of regularly inspecting all her most secret
correspondence. He soon discovered that she was encouraging Babington’s
plot for assassinating Elizabeth. Some of the conspirators, though
avowed Catholics, had offices in the royal household; such was
Elizabeth’s easy-going confidence. It was hoped that Parma would at the
moment of the murder land troops on the east coast. Mendoza, now Spanish
ambassador in Paris, warmly encouraged the project.

The Scottish Queen was now in the case contemplated by the Statute of
the previous year. But it required all the urgency of the Council to
prevail with Elizabeth to have her brought to trial. Elizabeth’s whole
conduct shows that she would even now have preferred to deal with her
rival as she did in the inquiry into the Darnley murder. She would have
been content to discredit her, to expose her guilt, and, if possible, to
bring her to her knees confessing her crimes and pleading for mercy. But
Mary was not of the temper to confess. Humiliation and effacement were
to her worse than death. She chose to brazen it out with a well-grounded
confidence that, as long as she asserted her innocence, people would
always be found to believe in it, let the evidence be what it would.
Besides, long impunity had convinced her that Elizabeth did not dare to
take her life.

There was nothing for it, therefore, but to bring her to trial. A
Special Commission was nominated under the provisions of the Statute of
1585, consisting of forty-five persons--peers, privy councillors, and
judges--who proceeded to Fotheringay Castle, whither Mary had been
removed.[6] She at first refused their jurisdiction; but on being
informed that they would proceed in her absence, she appeared before
them under protest (October 14, 1586). After sitting at Fotheringay for
two days, the Court adjourned to Westminster, where it pronounced her
guilty (October 25).[7] A declaration was added that her
disqualification for the succession, which followed by the Statute, did
not affect any rights that her son might possess. The verdict was
immediately known; but its proclamation was deferred till Parliament
could be consulted.

A general election had been held while the trial was going on, and
Parliament met four days after its conclusion (October 29). The whole
evidence was gone into afresh. Not a word seems to have been said in
Mary’s favour; and an address was presented to the Queen praying for
execution. If precedents were wanted for the capital punishment of an
anointed sovereign, there were the cases of Agag, Jezebel, Athaliah,
Deiotarus, king of Galatia, put to death by Julius Cæsar, Rhescuporis,
king of Thrace, by Tiberius, and Conradin by Charles of Anjou. In vain
did Elizabeth request them to reconsider their vote, and devise some
other expedient. Usually so deferential to her suggestions, they
reiterated their declaration that “the Queen’s safety could no way be
secured as long as the Queen of Scots lived.”

Elizabeth’s hesitation has been generally set down to hypocrisy. It has
been taken for granted that she desired Mary’s death, and was glad to
have it pressed upon her by her subjects. I believe that her reluctance
was most genuine. If not of generous disposition, neither was she
revengeful or cruel. She had no animosity against her enemies. She
lacked gall. She was never in any hurry to punish the disaffected, or
even to weed them out of her service. She rather prided herself on
employing them even about her person. Since her accession only two
English peers had been put to death, though several had richly deserved
it. She could affirm with perfect truth that, for the last fifteen
years, she, and she alone, had stood between Mary and the scaffold, and
this at great and increasing risk to her own life. There had, perhaps,
been a time when to destroy the prospect of a Catholic succession would
have driven the Catholics into rebellion. But that time had long gone
by, as every one knew. Elizabeth had only two dangers now to fear,
invasion and assassination, the latter being the most threatening. There
would be little inducement to attempt it if Mary were not alive to
profit by it. Yet Elizabeth hesitated. The explanation of her reluctance
is very simple. She flinched from the obloquy, the undeserved obloquy,
which she saw was in store for her. Careless to an extraordinary degree
about her personal danger, she would have preferred, as far as she was
herself concerned, to let Mary live. It was her ministers and the
Protestant party who, for their own interest, were forcing her to shed
her cousin’s blood; and it seemed to her unfair that the undivided odium
should fall, as she foresaw it would fall, on her alone.

The suspense continued through December and January. In the meantime it
became abundantly clear that no foreign court would interfere actively
to save Mary’s life. While she had been growing old in captivity, new
interests had sprung up, fresh schemes had been formed in which she had
no place. She stood in the way of half-a-dozen ambitions. Everybody was
weary of her and her wrongs and her pretensions. The Pope had felt less
interest of late in a princess whose rights, if established, would pass
to a Protestant heir. Philip could not intercede for her even if he had
desired to save her life. He was already at war with England, and, if
she had known it, not with any intention of supporting her claims.[8]
James by his recent treaty with England had tacitly treated his mother
as an enemy. Her scheme for kidnapping and disinheriting him, found
among her papers at Chartley, had been promptly communicated to him.
Decency required that he should make a show of remonstrance and menace.
But he had every reason to desire her death, and his only thought was to
use the opportunity for extorting from Elizabeth a recognition of his
title to the English crown and an increase of his pension. He sent the
Master of Gray to drive this bargain. The very choice of his envoy, the
man who had persuaded him to break with his mother, showed Elizabeth how
the land lay, and she did not think it worth her while to bribe him in
either way. The Marian nobles blustered and called for war. Not one of
them wanted to see Mary back in Scotland or cared what became of her;
but they had got an idea that Philip would pay them for a plundering
raid into England, and the doubly lucrative prospect was irresistible.
James, however, though pretending resentment and really sulky at his
rebuff, knew his own interests too well to quarrel with England. What
the action of the French King was is less certain. Openly he
remonstrated with considerable vigour and persistence; not entering into
the question of Mary’s guilt, but protesting against the punishment of a
Queen and a member of his family. Probably his efforts, so far as they
went, were sincere, for he instructed his ambassador to bribe the
English ministers if possible to save her life. But it was evident that,
however offended Henry III. might be by the execution of his
sister-in-law, he would not be provoked into playing the game of Spain.

A warrant for the execution had been drawn soon after the adjournment of
Parliament, and all through December and January Elizabeth’s ministers
kept urging her to sign it. At length, when the Scotch and French
ambassadors were gone, and with them the last excuse for delay, she
signed it in the presence of Davison (who had lately been made
co-secretary with Walsingham), and directed him to have it sealed
(February 1). What else passed between them on that occasion must always
remain uncertain, because Davison’s four written statements, and his
answers at his trial, differ in important particulars not only from the
Queen’s account but from one another. So much, however, will to most
persons who examine the evidence be very clear. Elizabeth meant the
execution to take place. There is no reason to doubt Davison’s statement
that she “forbade him to trouble her any further, or let her hear any
more thereof till it was done, seeing that for her part she had now
performed all that either in law or reason could be required of her.”
But signing the warrant, as both of them knew, was not enough. The
formal delivery of it to some person, with direction to carry it out,
was the final step necessary. This, by Davison’s own admission, the
Queen managed to evade. He saw that she wished to thrust the
responsibility upon him and Walsingham, and he suspected that she meant
to disavow them. Although, therefore, she had enjoined strict secrecy,
he laid the matter before Hatton and Burghley.

Burghley assembled in his own room the Earls of Derby and Leicester,
Lords Howard of Effingham, Hunsdon, and Cobham, Knollys, Hatton,
Walsingham, and Davison (February 3). These ten were probably the only
privy councillors then at Greenwich.[9] He laid before them Davison’s
statement of what had passed between the Queen and himself at both
interviews. He said that she had done as much as could be expected of
her; that she evidently wished her ministers to take whatever
responsibility remained upon themselves without informing her; and that
they ought to do so. His proposal was agreed to. A letter was written to
the Earls of Kent and Shrewsbury instructing them to carry out the
execution. This letter all the ten signed, and it was at once despatched
along with the warrant. They quite understood that Elizabeth would
disavow them. They saw that she wished to have a pretext for saying that
Mary had been put to death without her knowledge, and before she had
finally made up her mind. They were willing to furnish her with this
pretext. Of course there would be more or less of a storm to keep up the
make-believe. But ten privy councillors acting together could not well
be punished.

On Thursday (February 9) the news of the execution arrived. Elizabeth
now learnt for the first time that the responsibility which she had
intended to fix on the two secretaries, one a nobody and the other no
favourite, had been shared by eight others of the Council, including
all its most important members. Storm at them she might and did, and all
the more furiously because they had combined for self-protection. But to
punish the whole ten was out of the question. Yet if no one were
punished, with what face could she tender her improbable explanation to
foreign courts? The unlucky Davison was singled out. He could be charged
with divulging what he had been ordered to keep secret and misleading
the others. He was tried before a Special Commission, fined 10,000
marks, and imprisoned for some time in the Tower. The fine was rigidly
exacted, and it reduced him to poverty. Burghley, whose tool he had been
almost as much as Elizabeth’s, took pains to make his disgrace
permanent, because he wanted the secretaryship for his son, Robert

The strange thing is, that Elizabeth not only expected her transparent
falsehoods to be formally accepted as satisfactory, but hoped that they
would be really believed. Her letter to James was an insult to his
understanding. “I would you knew (though not felt) the extreme dolour
that overwhelms my mind, for that miserable accident which (far contrary
to my meaning) hath befallen.... I beseech you that as God and many more
know how innocent I am in this case, so you will believe me that if I
had bid [bidden] ought I would have bid [abided] by it.... Thus assuring
yourself of me that as I know this [the execution] was deserved, yet if
I had meant it I would never lay it on others’ shoulders, no more will I
not damnify myself that thought it not.”

Little as James cared what became of his mother, it was impossible that
he should not feel humiliated when he was expected to swallow such a
pill as this--and ungilded too. He had no intention of going to war with
the country of which he might now at any moment become the legitimate
King. But to let Elizabeth see that unless he was paid he could be
disagreeable, he winked at raids across the border and coquetted with
the faction who were inviting Philip to send a Spanish army to Scotland.
It was but a passing display of temper. The end of the year (1587) saw
him again drawing close to Elizabeth, and she was able to give her
undivided attention to the coming Armada.

It cannot be seriously maintained that because Mary was not an English
subject she could not be lawfully tried and punished for crimes
committed in England. Those, if any there now be, who adopt her own
contention that, being an anointed Queen, she was not amenable to any
earthly tribunal, but to God alone, are beyond the reach of earthly
argument. The English government had a right to detain her as a
dangerous public enemy. She, on the other hand, had a right to resist
such restraint if she could, and she might have carried conspiracy very
far without incurring our blame. But for good reasons we draw a line at
conspiracy to murder. No government ever did or will let it pass
unpunished. If Napoleon at St. Helena had engaged in conspiracies for
seizing the island, no one could have blamed him, even though they might
have involved bloodshed. But if he had been convicted of plotting the
assassination of Sir Hudson Lowe, he would assuredly have been hanged.

That the execution was a wise and opportune stroke of policy can hardly
be disputed. It broke up the Catholic party in England at the moment
when their disaffection was about to be tempted by the appearance of the
Armada. There had been a time when they had hopes of James. But he was
now known to be a stiff Protestant. Only the small Jesuitical faction
was prepared to accept Philip either as an heir of John of Gaunt or as
Mary’s legatee. There was no other Catholic with a shadow of a claim.
The bulk of the party therefore ceased to look forward to a restoration
of the old religion, and rallied to the cause of national independence.

       *       *       *       *       *


     I have not alluded in the text to the story, generally repeated by
     historians, that Elizabeth urged Paulet and Drury to murder Mary
     privately. There is no doubt that, after the signature of the
     warrant, Walsingham and Davison, by Elizabeth’s direction, urged
     Paulet and Drury to put Mary to death, and that they refused. But
     was it a private murder that was meant or a public execution
     without delivery of the warrant? There is nothing in any of
     Davison’s statements inconsistent with the latter and far more
     probable explanation. The blacker charge is founded solely on the
     two letters which are generally accepted as being those which
     passed between the secretaries and Paulet, but which may be
     confidently set down as impudent forgeries. They were first given
     to the world in 1722 by Dr. George Mackenzie, a violent Marian, who
     says that _a copy_ of them was sent him by Mr. Urry of Christ
     Church, Oxford, and that they had been found among Paulet’s papers.
     Two years later they were printed by Hearne, an Oxford Jacobite and
     Nonjuror, who says he got them from _a copy_ furnished him by a
     friend unnamed (Urry?), who told him he had _copied_ them in 1717
     from a MS. letter-book of Paulet’s. There is also a MS. _copy_ in
     the Harleian collection, which contains erasures and
     emendations--an extraordinary thing in a copy. It is said to be in
     the handwriting of the Earl of Oxford himself. There is nothing to
     show whence he copied it.

     No one has ever seen the originals of these letters. Neither has
     any one, except Hearne’s unnamed friend, seen the “letter-book”
     into which Paulet is supposed to have copied them. Where had this
     “letter-book” been before 1717? Where was it in 1717? What became
     of it after 1717? To none of these questions is there any answer.
     The most rational conclusion is that the “letter-book” never
     existed, and that the letters were fabricated in the reign of
     George I. by some Oxford Jacobite, who thought it easier and more
     prudent to circulate _copies_ than to attempt an imitation of
     Paulet’s well-known handwriting, with all the other difficulties
     involved in forging a manuscript.

     But it may be said, Do not the letters fit in with Davison’s
     narrative? Of course they do. It was for the very purpose of
     putting an odious meaning on that narrative that they were
     fabricated. It was known that letters about putting Mary to death
     had passed. The real letters had never been seen, and had doubtless
     been destroyed. Here therefore was a fine opportunity for
     manufacturing spurious ones.


WAR WITH SPAIN: 1587-1603

Elizabeth is not seen at her best in war. She did not easily resign
herself to its sacrifices. It frightened her to see the money which she
had painfully put together, pound by pound, during so many years, by
many a small economy, draining out at the rate of £17,000 a month into
the bottomless pit of military expenditure. When Leicester came back she
simply stopped all remittances to the Netherlands, making sure that if
she did not feed her soldiers some one else would have to do it. She saw
that Parma was not pressing forward. And though rumours of the enormous
preparations in Spain, which accounted for his inactivity, continued to
pour in, she still hoped that her intervention in the Netherlands was
bending Philip to concessions. All this time Parma was steadily carrying
out his master’s plans for the invasion. His little army was to be
trebled in the autumn by reinforcements principally from Italy. In the
meantime he was collecting a flotilla of flat-bottomed boats. As soon as
the Armada should appear they were to make the passage under its

It would answer no useful purpose, even if my limits permitted it, to
enter into the particulars of Elizabeth’s policy towards the United
Provinces during the twelve months that preceded the appearance of the
Armada. Her proceedings were often tortuous, and by setting them forth
in minute detail her detractors have not found it difficult to represent
them as treacherous. But, living three centuries later, what have we to
consider but the general scope and drift of her policy? Looking at it as
a whole we shall find that, whether we approve of it or not, it was
simple, consistent, and undisguised. She had no intention of abandoning
the Provinces to Philip, still less of betraying them. But she did wish
them to return to their allegiance, if she could procure for them proper
guarantees for such liberties as they had been satisfied with before
Philip’s tyranny began. If Philip had been wise he would have made those
concessions. Elizabeth is not to be over-much blamed if she clung too
long to the belief that he could be persuaded or compelled to do what
was so much for his own interest. If she was deceived so was Burghley.
Walsingham is entitled to the credit of having from first to last
refused to believe that the negotiations were anything but a blind.

Though Elizabeth desired peace, she did not cease to deal blows at
Philip. In the spring of 1587 (April-June), while she was most earnestly
pushing her negotiations with Parma, she despatched Drake on a new
expedition to the Spanish coast. He forced his way into the harbours of
Cadiz and Corunna, destroyed many ships and immense stores, and came
back loaded with plunder. The Armada had not been crippled, for most of
the ships that were to compose it were lying in the Tagus. But the
concentration had been delayed. Fresh stores had to be collected. Drake
calculated, and as it proved rightly, that another season at least would
be consumed in repairing the loss, and that England, for that summer and
autumn, could rest secure of invasion.

The delay was most unwelcome to Philip. The expense of keeping such a
fleet and army on foot through the winter would be enormous. Spain was
maintaining not only the Armada but the army of Parma; for the resources
of the Netherlands, which had been the true El Dorado of the Spanish
monarchy, were completely dried up. So impatient was Philip--usually the
slowest of men--that he proposed to despatch the Armada even in
September, and actually wrote to Parma that he might expect it at any
moment. But, as Drake had calculated, September was gone before
everything was ready. The naval experts protested against the rashness
of facing the autumnal gales, with no friendly harbour on either side of
the Channel in which to take refuge. Philip then made the absurd
suggestion that the army from the Netherlands should cross by itself in
its flat-bottomed boats. But Parma told him that it was absolutely out
of the question. Four English ships could sink the whole flotilla. In
the meantime his soldiers, waiting on the Dunkirk Downs and exposed to
the severities of the weather, were dying off like flies. Philip and
Elizabeth resembled one another in this, that neither of them had any
personal experience of war either by land or sea. For a Queen this was
natural. For a King it was unnatural, and for an ambitious King
unprecedented. They did not understand the proper adaptation of means
to ends. Yet it was necessary to obtain their sanction before anything
could be done. Hence there was much mismanagement on both sides. Still
England was in no real danger during the summer and autumn of 1587,
because Philip’s preparations were not completed; and before the end of
the year the English fleet was lying in the Channel. But the Queen
grudged the expense of keeping the crews up to their full complement.
The supply of provisions and ammunition was also very inadequate. The
expensiveness of war is generally a sufficient reason for not going to
war; but to attempt to do war cheaply is always unwise. “Sparing and
war,” as Effingham observed, “have no affinity together.”

Drake strongly urged that, instead of trying to guard the Channel, the
English fleet should make for the coast of Spain, and boldly assail the
Armada as soon as it put to sea. This was the advice of a man who had
all the shining qualities of Nelson, and seems to have been in no
respect his inferior. It was no counsel of desperation. He was confident
of success. Lord Howard of Effingham, the Admiral, was of the same
opinion. The negotiations were odious to him. For Burghley, who clings
to them, he has no more reverence than Hamlet had for Polonius. “Since
England was England,” he writes to Walsingham, “there was never such a
stratagem and mask to deceive her as this treaty of peace. I pray God
that we do not curse for this a long grey beard with a white head
witless, that will make all the world think us heartless. You know whom
I mean.”

With the hopes and fears of these sea-heroes, it is instructive to
compare the forecast of the great soldier who was to conduct the
invasion. Always obedient and devoted to his sovereign, Parma played his
part in the deceptive negotiations with consummate skill. But his own
opinion was that it would be wise to negotiate in good faith and accept
the English terms. Though prepared to undertake the invasion, he took a
very serious view of the risks to be encountered. He tells Philip that
the English preparations are formidable both by land and sea. Even if
the passage should be safely accomplished, disembarkation would be
difficult. His army, reduced by the hardships of the winter from 30,000
men, which he had estimated as the proper number, to less than 17,000,
was dangerously small for the work expected of it. He would have to
fight battle after battle, and the further he advanced the weaker would
his army become both from losses and from the necessity of protecting
his communications.

Parma had carefully informed himself of the preparations in England.
From the beginning of Elizabeth’s reign, attention had been paid to the
organisation, training, and equipment of the militia, and especially
since the relations with Spain had become more hostile. On paper it
seems to have amounted to 117,000 men. Mobilisation was a local
business. Sir John Norris drew up the plan of defence. Beacon fires did
the work of the telegraph. Every man knew whither he was to repair when
their blaze should be seen. The districts to be abandoned, the positions
to be defended, the bridges to be broken, were all marked out. Three
armies, calculated to amount in the aggregate to 73,000 men, were
ordered to assemble in July. Whether so many were actually mustered is
doubtful. But Parma would certainly have found himself confronted by
forces vastly superior in numbers to his own, and would have had, as he
said, to fight battle after battle. The bow had not been entirely
abandoned, but the greater part of the archers--two-thirds in some
counties--had lately been armed with calivers. What was wanting in
discipline would have been to some extent made up by the spontaneous
cohesion of a force organised under its natural leaders, the nobles and
gentry of each locality, not a few of whom had seen service abroad. But,
after all, the greatest element of strength was the free spirit of the
people. England was, and had long been, a nation of freemen. There were
a few peers, and a great many knights and gentlemen. But there was no
noble caste, as on the Continent, separated by an impassable barrier of
birth and privilege from the mass of the people. All felt themselves
fellow-countrymen bound together by common sentiments, common interests,
and mutual respect.

This spirit of freedom--one might almost say of equality--made itself
felt still more in the navy, and goes far to account for the cheerful
energy and dash with which every service was performed. “The English
officers lived on terms of sympathy with their men unknown to the
Spaniards, who raised between the commander and the commanded absurd
barriers of rank and blood which forbade to his pride any labour but
that of fighting. Drake touched the true mainspring of English success
when he once (in his voyage round the world) indignantly rebuked some
coxcomb gentlemen-adventurers with, ‘I should like to see the gentleman
that will refuse to set his hand to a rope. I must have the gentlemen to
hale and draw with the mariners.’”[10] Drake, Hawkins, Frobisher were
all born of humble parents. They rose by their own valour and capacity.
They had gentlemen of birth serving under them. To Howard and Cumberland
and Seymour they were brothers-in-arms. The master of every little
trading vessel was fired by their example, and hoped to climb as high.

It is the pleasure of some writers to speak of Elizabeth’s naval
preparations as disgracefully insufficient, and to treat the triumphant
result as a sort of miracle. To their apprehension, indeed, her whole
reign is one long interference by Providence with the ordinary relations
of cause and effect. The number of royal ships as compared with those of
private owners in the fleet which met the great Armada--34 to 161--is
represented as discreditably small. By Englishmen of that day, it was
considered to be creditably large. Sir Edward Coke (who was thirty-eight
at the time of the Armada), writing under Charles I., when the royal
navy was much larger, says: “In the reign of Queen Elizabeth (I being
then acquainted with this business) there were thirty-three [royal
ships] besides pinnaces, which so guarded and regarded the navigation of
the merchants, as they had safe vent for their commodities, and trade
and traffic flourished.”[11]

It seems to be overlooked that the royal navy, such as it was, was
almost the creation of Elizabeth. Her father was the first English king
who made any attempt to keep a standing navy of his own. He established
the Admiralty and the first royal dockyard. Under Edward and Mary the
navy, like everything else, went to ruin. Elizabeth’s ship-building,
humble as it seems to us, excited the admiration of her subjects, and
was regarded as one of the chief advances of her reign. The ships, when
not in commission, were kept in the Medway. The Queen personally paid
the greatest attention to them. They were always kept in excellent
condition, and could be fitted out for sea at very short notice. Economy
was enforced in this, as in other departments, but not at the expense of
efficiency. The wages of officers and men were very much augmented; but
in the short periods for which crews were enlisted, and in the
victualling, there seems to have been unwise parsimony in 1588. The
grumbling of alarmists about unpreparedness, apathy, stinginess, and
red-tape was precisely what it is in our own day. We know that some
allowance is to be made for it.

The movements of the Armada were perfectly well known in England, and
all the dispositions to meet it at sea were completed in a leisurely
manner. Conferences were still going on at Ostend between English and
Spanish commissioners. On the part of Elizabeth there was sincerity, but
not blind credulity nor any disposition to make unworthy concessions.
Conferences quite as protracted have often been held between
belligerents while hostilities were being actively carried on. The large
majority of Englishmen were resolved to fight to the death against any
invader. But, as against Spain, there was not that eager pugnacity which
a war with France always called forth, except, perhaps, among the
sea-rovers; and even they would have contented themselves, if it had
been possible, with the unrecognised privateering which had so long
given them the profits of war with the immunities of peace. The rest of
the nation respected their Queen for her persevering endeavour to find a
way of reconciliation with an ancient ally, and to limit, in the
meantime, the area of hostilities. They were confident, and with good
reason, that she would surrender no important interest, and that
aggressive designs would be met, as they had always been met, more than

The story of the great victory is too well known to need repetition
here. But some comments are necessary. It is usual, for one reason or
other, to exaggerate the disparity of the opposing fleets, and to
represent England as only saved from impending ruin by the extraordinary
daring of her seamen, and a series of fortunate accidents. The final
destruction of the Armada, after the pursuit was over, was certainly the
work of wind and sea. But if we fairly weigh the available strength on
each side, we shall see that the English commanders might from the first
feel, as they did feel, a reasonable assurance of defeating the

Let us first compare the strength of the fleets:

  ENGLISH.  _Ships._   _Tonnage._  _Guns._   _Mariners._

    Royal      34        11850       837        6279
    Private   163        17894    not stated    9506
             ----       ------       ===      ------
              197        29744                 15785
             ====       ======                ======

  SPANISH.    132        59120      3165        8766

The Armada carried besides 21,855 soldiers.[12] The first thing that
strikes us is the immense preponderance in tonnage on the part of the
Spaniards, and in sailors on the part of the English. This really goes
far to explain the result. Nothing is more certain than that the Spanish
ships, notwithstanding their superior size, were for fighting and
sailing purposes very inferior to the English. It had always been
believed that, to withstand the heavy seas of the Atlantic, a ship
should be constructed like a lofty fortress. The English builders were
introducing lower and longer hulls and a greater spread of canvas. Their
crews, as has always been the case in our navy, were equally handy as
sailors and gunners. The Spanish ships were under-manned. The soldiers
were not accustomed to work the guns, and were of no use unless it came
to boarding, which Howard ordered his captains to avoid. The English
guns, if fewer than the Spanish, were heavier and worked by more
practised men.[13] Their balls not only cut up the rigging of the
Spaniards but tore their hulls (which were supposed to be cannon-proof),
while the English ships were hardly touched. The slaughter among the
wretched soldiers crowded between decks was terrible. Blood was seen
pouring out of the lee-scuppers. “The English ships,” says a Spanish
officer, “were under such good management that they did with them what
they pleased.” The work was done almost entirely by the Queen’s ships.
“If you had seen,” says Sir William Winter, “the simple service done by
the merchants and coast ships, you would have said we had been little
helped by them, otherwise than that they did make a show.”

The principal and final battle was fought off Gravelines (July 29/Aug.
8). The Armada therefore did arrive at its destination, but only to show
that the general plan of the invasion was an impracticable one. The
superiority in tonnage and number of guns on the morning of that day,
though not what it had been when the fighting began a week before, was
still immense, if superiority in those particulars had been of any use.
But with this battle the plan of Philip was finally shattered. So far
from being in a condition to cover Parma’s passage, the Spanish admiral
was glad to escape as best he could from the English pursuit.

During the eight days’ fight, be it observed, the Armada had experienced
no unfavourable weather or other stroke of ill-fortune. The wind had
been mostly in the west, and not tempestuous. After the last battle,
when the crippled Spanish ships were drifting upon the Dutch shoals, it
opportunely shifted, and enabled them to escape into the North Sea.

It would not be easy to find any great naval engagement in which the
victors suffered so little. In the last battle, when they came to close
quarters, they had about sixty killed. During the first seven days their
loss seems to have been almost _nil_. One vessel only--not belonging to
the Queen--became entangled among the enemy, and succumbed. Except the
master of this vessel not one of the captains was killed from first to
last. Many men of rank were serving in the fleet. It is not mentioned
that one of them was so much as wounded.

Looking at all these facts, we can surely come to only one conclusion.
Philip’s plan was hopeless from the first. Barring accidents, the
English were bound to win. On no other occasion in our history was our
country so well prepared to meet her enemies. Never was her safety from
invasion so amply guaranteed. The defeat of the Great Armada was the
deserved and crowning triumph of thirty years of good government at home
and wise policy abroad; of careful provision for defence and sober
abstinence from adventure and aggression.

Of the land preparations it is impossible to speak with equal
confidence, as they were never put to the test. If the Spaniards had
landed, Leicester’s militia would no doubt have experienced a bloody
defeat. London might have been taken and plundered. But Parma himself
never expected to become master of the country without the aid of a
great Catholic rising. This, we may affirm with confidence, would not
have taken place on even the smallest scale. Overwhelming forces would
soon have gathered round the Spaniards. They would probably have retired
to the coast, and there fortified some place from which it would have
been difficult to dislodge them as long as they retained the command of
the sea.

Such seems to have been the utmost success which, in the most favourable
event, could have attended the invasion. A great disaster, no doubt, for
England, and one for which Elizabeth would have been judged by history
with more severity than justice; for Englishmen have always chosen to
risk it, down to our own time.[14] No government which insisted on
making adequate provision for the military defence of the country would
have been tolerated then, or, to all appearance, would be tolerated now.
We have always trusted to our navy. It were to be wished that our naval
superiority were as assured now as when we defeated the Armada.

The arrangements for feeding the soldiers and sailors were very
defective. A praiseworthy system of control had been introduced to check
waste and peculation in time of peace. Of course it did not easily adapt
itself to the exigencies of war. Military operations are sure to suffer
where a certain, or rather uncertain, amount of waste and peculation is
not risked. We have not forgotten the “horrible and heart-rending”
sufferings of our army in the Crimea, which, like those of Elizabeth’s
fleet, had to be relieved by private effort. In the sixteenth century
the lot of the soldier and sailor everywhere was want and disease,
varied at intervals by plunder and excess. Philip’s soldiers and sailors
were worse off than Elizabeth’s, though he grudged no money for purposes
of war.

Those who profess to be scandalised by the appointment of Leicester to
the command of the army should point out what fitter choice could have
been made. He was the only great nobleman with any military experience;
and to suppose that any one but a great nobleman could have been
appointed to such a command is to show a profound ignorance of the ideas
of the time. He had Sir John Norris, a really able soldier, as his
marshal of the camp. After all, no one has alleged that he did not do
his duty with energy and intelligence. The story that the Queen thought
of making him her “Lieutenant in the government of England and Ireland,”
but was dissuaded from it by Burghley and Hatton, rests on no authority
but that of Camden, who is fond of repeating spiteful gossip about
Leicester. No sensible person will believe that she meant to create a
sort of Grand Vizier. She may have thought of making him what we should
call “Commander-in-Chief.” There would be much to say for such a
concentration of authority while the kingdom was threatened with
invasion. The title of “Lieutenant” was a purely military one, and began
to be applied under the Tudors to the commanders of the militia in each
county. Leicester’s title for the time was “Lieutenant and
Captain-General of the Queen’s armies and companies.” But we find him
complaining to Walsingham that the patent of Hunsdon, the commander of
the Midland army, gave him independent powers. “I shall have wrong if he
absolutely command where my patent doth give me power. You may easily
conceive what absurd dealings are likely to fall out if you allow two
absolute commanders” (28 July). Camden’s story is probably a confused
echo of this dispute.

Writers who are loth to admit that the trust, the gratitude, the
enthusiastic loyalty which Elizabeth inspired were the first and most
important cause of the great victory, have sought to belittle the
grandest moment of her life by pointing out that the famous speech at
Tilbury was made _after_ the battle of Gravelines. But the dispersal of
the Armada by the storm of August 5th was not yet known in England.
Drake, writing on the 8th and 10th, thinks that it is gone to Denmark to
refit, and begs the Queen not to diminish any of her forces. The
occasion of the speech on the 10th seems to have been the arrival of a
post on that day, while the Queen was at dinner in Leicester’s tent,
with a false alarm that Parma had embarked all his forces, and might be
expected in England immediately.[15]

But the Lieutenant-General had reached the end of his career. Three
weeks after the Tilbury review he died of “a continued fever,” at the
age of fifty-six. He kept Elizabeth’s regard to the last, because she
believed--and during the latter part of his life, not wrongly--in his
fidelity and devotion. There is no sign that she at any time valued his
judgment or suffered him to sway her policy, except so far as he was the
mouthpiece of abler advisers; nor did she ever allow his enmities,
violent as they were, to prejudice her against any of her other
servants. His fortune was no doubt much above his deserts, and he has
paid the usual penalty. There are few personages in history about whom
so much malicious nonsense has been written.

We cannot help looking on England as placed in a quite new position by
the defeat of the Armada--a position of security and independence. In
truth, what was changed was not so much the relative strength of England
and Spain as the opinion of it held by Englishmen and Spaniards, and
indeed by all Europe. The loss to Philip in mere ships, men, and
treasure was no doubt considerable. But his inability to conquer England
was demonstrated rather than caused by the destruction of the Armada.
Philip himself talked loftily about “placing another fleet upon the
seas.” But his subjects began to see that defence, not conquest, was now
their business--and had been for some time if they had only known it:

    Cervi, luporum præda rapacium,
      Sectamur ultro quos opimus
        Fallere et effugere est triumphus.

Elizabeth’s attitude to Philip underwent a marked change. Till then she
had been unwilling to abandon the hope of a peaceful settlement. She had
dealt him not a few stinging blows, but always with a certain restraint
and forbearance, because they were meant for the purpose of bringing him
to reason. Thirty years of patience on his part had led her to believe
that he would never carry retaliation beyond assassination plots. At
last, in his slow way, he had gathered up all his strength and essayed
to crush her. Thenceforward she was a convert to Drake’s doctrine that
attack was the surest way of defence. She had still good reasons for
devolving this work as much as possible on the private enterprise of her
subjects. The burden fell on those who asked nothing better than to be
allowed to bear it. Thus arose that system, or rather practice, of
leaving national work to be executed by private enterprise, which has
had so much to do with the building up of the British Empire. Private
gain has been the mainspring of action. National defence and
aggrandisement have been almost incidental results. With Elizabeth
herself national and private aims could not be dissevered. The nation
and she had but one purse. She was cheaply defending England, and she
shared in the plunder.

The favourite cruising-ground of the English adventurers was off the
Azores, where the Spanish treasure fleets always halted for fresh water
and provisions, on their way to Europe. Some of these expeditions were
on a large scale. But they were not so successful or profitable, in
proportion to their size, as the smaller ventures of Drake and Hawkins
earlier in the reign. The Spaniards were everywhere on the alert. The
harbours of the New World, which formerly lay in careless security, were
put into a state of defence. Treasure fleets made their voyages with
more caution. “Not a grain of gold, silver, or pearl, but what must be
got through the fire.” The day of great prizes was gone by.

Two of these expeditions are distinguished by their importance. The
first was a joint-stock venture of Drake and Norris--the foremost sailor
and the foremost soldier among Englishmen of that day--in the year after
the great Armada (April 1589). They and some private backers found most
of the capital. The Queen contributed six royal ships and £20,000. This
fleet carried no less than 11,000 soldiers, for the aim was to wrest
Portugal from the Spaniard and set up Don Antonio, a representative of
the dethroned dynasty. Stopping on their way at Corunna, they took the
lower town, destroyed large stores, and defeated in the field a much
superior force marching to the relief of the place. Norris mined and
breached the walls of the upper town; but the storming parties having
been repulsed with great loss, the army re-embarked and pursued its
voyage. Landing at Peniché, Norris marched fifty miles by Vimiero and
Torres Vedras, names famous afterwards in the military annals of
England, and on the seventh day arrived before Lisbon. But he had no
battering train; for Drake, who had brought the fleet round to the mouth
of the Tagus, judged it dangerous to enter the river. Nor did the
Portuguese rise, as had been hoped. The army therefore, marching through
the suburbs of Lisbon, rejoined the fleet at Cascaes, and proceeded to
Vigo. That town was burnt, and the surrounding country plundered. This
was the last exploit of the expedition. Great loss and dishonour had
been inflicted on Spain; but no less than half of the soldiers and
sailors had perished by disease; and the booty, though said to have been
large, was a disappointment to the survivors.

The other great expedition was in 1596. The capture of Calais in April
of that year by the Spaniards, had renewed the alarm of invasion, and it
was determined to meet the danger at a distance from home. A great
fleet, with 6000 soldiers on board, commanded by Essex and Howard of
Effingham sailed straight to Cadiz, the principal port and arsenal of
Spain. The harbour was forced by the fleet, the town and castle stormed
by the army, several men-of-war taken or destroyed, a large
merchant-fleet burnt, together with an immense quantity of stores and
merchandise; the total value being estimated at twenty millions of
ducats. This was by far the heaviest blow inflicted by England upon
Spain during the reign, and was so regarded in Europe; for though the
great Armada had been signally defeated by the English fleet, its
subsequent destruction was due to the winds and waves. Essex was
vehemently desirous to hold Cadiz; but Effingham and the Council of War
appointed by the Queen would not hear of it. The expedition accordingly
returned home, having effectually relieved England from the fear of
invasion. The burning of Penzance by four Spanish galleys (1595) was not
much to set against these great successes.

One reason for the comparative impunity with which the English assailed
the unwieldy empire of Philip was the insane pursuit of the French
crown, to which he devoted all his resources after the murder of Henry
III. In 1598, with one foot in the grave, and no longer able to conceal
from himself that, with the exception of the conquest of Portugal, all
the ambitious schemes of his life had failed, he was fain to conclude
the peace of Vervins with Henry IV. Henry was ready to insist that
England and the United Provinces should be comprehended in the treaty.
Philip offered terms which Elizabeth would have welcomed ten years
earlier. He proposed that the whole of the Low Countries should be
constituted a separate sovereignty under his son-in-law the Archduke
Albert. The Dutch, who were prospering in war as well as in trade,
scouted the offer. English feeling was divided. There was a war-party
headed by Essex and Raleigh, personally bitter enemies, but both
athirst for glory, conquest, and empire, believing in no right but that
of the strongest, greedy for wealth, and disdaining the slower, more
laborious, and more legitimate modes of acquiring it. They were tired of
campaigning it in France and the Low Countries, where hard knocks and
beggarly plunder were all that a soldier had to look to. They proposed
to carry a great English army across the Atlantic, to occupy permanently
the isthmus of Panama, and from that central position to wrestle with
the Spaniard for the trade and plunder of the New World. The peace party
held that these ambitious schemes would bring no profit except possibly
to a few individuals; that the treasury would be exhausted and the
country irritated by taxation and the pressing of soldiers; that to
re-establish the old commercial intercourse with Spain would be more
reputable and attended with more solid advantage to the nation at large;
and finally, that the English arms would be much better employed in a
thorough conquest of Ireland. These were the views of Burghley; and they
were strongly supported by Buckhurst, the best of the younger statesmen
who now surrounded Elizabeth.

Elizabeth always encouraged her ministers to speak their minds; but, as
Buckhurst said on this occasion, “when they have done their extreme duty
she wills what she wills.” She determined to maintain the treaty of 1585
with the Dutch; but she took the opportunity of getting it amended in
such a way as to throw upon them a larger share of the expenses of the
war, and to provide more definitely for the ultimate repayment of her

We have seen that three years before the Armada Elizabeth had lost the
French alliance, which had till then been the key-stone of her policy.
Since then, though aware that Henry III. wished her well, and that he
would thwart the Spanish faction as much as he dared, she had not been
able to count on him. He might at any moment be pushed by Guise into an
attack on England, either with or without the concurrence of Spain. The
accession, therefore, of Henry IV. afforded her great relief. In him she
had a sure ally. It is true that, like her other allies the Dutch, he
was more in a condition to require help than to afford it. But the more
work she provided for Philip in Holland or France, the safer England
would be. The armies of the Holy League might be formidable to Henry;
but as long as he could hold them at bay they were not dangerous to
England. She had never quite got over her scruple about helping the
Dutch against their lawful sovereign. But Henry IV. was the legitimate
King of France, and she could heartily aid him to put down his rebels.
From 2000 to 5000 English troops were therefore constantly serving in
France down to the peace of Vervins.

Philip, in defiance of the Salic law, claimed the crown of France for
his daughter in right of her mother, who was a sister of Henry III. To
Brittany he alleged that she had a special claim, as being descended
from Anne of Brittany, which the Bourbons were not. Brittany, therefore,
he invaded at once by sea. Elizabeth, alarmed by the proximity of this
Spanish force, desired that her troops in France should be employed in
expelling it, and that they should be vigorously supported by Henry IV.
Henry, on the other hand, was always drawing away the English to serve
his more pressing needs in other parts of France. This brought upon him
many harsh rebukes and threats from the English Queen. But she had, for
the first time, met her match. He judged, and rightly, that she would
not desert him. So, with oft-repeated apologies, light promises, and
well-turned compliments, he just went on doing what suited him best,
getting all the fighting he could out of the English, and airily eluding
Elizabeth’s repeated demands for some coast town, which could be held,
like Brill and Flushing, as a security for her heavy subsidies.

When Henry was reconciled to the Catholic Church, Elizabeth went through
the form of expressing surprise and regret at a step which she must have
long expected, and must have felt to be wise (1593). Her alliance with
Henry was not shaken. It was drawn even closer by a new treaty, each
sovereign engaging not to make peace without the consent of the other.
This engagement did not prevent Henry from concluding the separate peace
of Vervins five years later, when he judged that his interest required
it (1598). Elizabeth’s dissatisfaction was, this time, genuine enough.
But Henry was no longer her protégé, a homeless, landless, penniless
king, depending on English subsidies, roaming over the realm he called
his own with a few thousands, or sometimes hundreds, of undisciplined
cavaliers, who gathered and dispersed at their own pleasure. He was
master of a re-united France, and could no longer be either patronised
or threatened. Elizabeth might expostulate, and declare that “if there
was such a sin as that against the Holy Ghost it must needs be
ingratitude:” gratitude was a sentiment to which she was as much a
stranger as Henry. The only difference between them was the national
one: the Englishwoman preached; the Frenchman mocked. What made her so
sore was that he had, so to speak, stolen her policy from her. His
predecessor had always suspected her--and with good reason--of intending
“to draw her neck out of the collar” if once she could induce him to
undertake a joint war. The joint war had at length been undertaken by
Henry IV., and it was he who had managed to slip out of it first, while
Elizabeth, who longed for peace, was obliged to stand by the Dutch.

The two sovereigns, however, knew their own interests too well to
quarrel. Henry gave Elizabeth to understand that his designs against
Spain had undergone no change; he was only halting for breath; he would
help the Dutch underhand--just what she used to say to Henry III. She
had now to deal with a French King as sagacious as herself, and a great
deal more prompt and vigorous in action; not the man to be made a
cat’s-paw by any one. She had to accept him as a partner, if not on her
own terms, then on his. Both sovereigns were thoroughly veracious--in
Carlyle’s sense of the word. That is to say, their policy was determined
not by passion, or vanity, or sentiment of any kind, but by enlightened
self-interest, and was therefore calculable by those who knew how to



It was a boast of Elizabeth that when once her servants were chosen she
did not lightly displace them. Difference of opinion from their
mistress, or from one another, did not involve resignation or dismissal,
because, though they were free to speak their minds, all had to carry
out with fidelity and even zeal, whatever policy the Queen prescribed.
This condition they accepted; not only the astute and compliant
Burghley, but the more eager and opinionated Walsingham; and therefore
they had practically a life-tenure of office. Soon after the Armada the
first generation of them began to disappear. Bacon, Sussex, and Bedford
were already gone. Leicester died in 1588; his brother Warwick, and
Mildmay in 1589; Walsingham and Randolph in 1591; Hatton in 1592; Grey
de Wilton in 1593; Knollys and Hunsdon in 1596. Of the trusty servants
with whom she began her reign, Burghley alone remained. The leading men
of the new generation were Robert Cecil, the Treasurer’s second son,
trained to business under his father’s eye, and of qualities similar,
though inferior; Nottingham (formerly Howard of Effingham), a
straightforward man of no great ability, but acceptable to the Queen for
his father’s services and his own (and not the less so for his fine
presence); the accomplished Buckhurst; the brilliant Raleigh; and,
younger than the rest, Essex. The last was the son of a man much
favoured by Elizabeth. Leicester was his step-father, Knollys his
grandfather, Hunsdon his great-uncle, Walsingham his father-in-law,
Burghley his guardian. Ardent, impulsive, presumptuous, a warm friend, a
rancorous enemy, profuse in expense, lawless in his amours, jealous of
his equals, brooking no superior, impatient of all rule or order that
delayed him from leaping at once to the highest place,--he was possessed
with a most exaggerated notion of his own capacity, which appears to
have been only moderate. As the ward of Burghley he had been much in the
company of his future enemy, Robert Cecil, whose sly prim ways were most
unlike his own. The contrast did him no harm with the public, to whom
the younger man was a Tom Jones and the elder a Blifil. Two vastly abler
men, Francis Bacon and Raleigh, less advantageously placed, but
unhampered with any scruples, were busily trying to profit by the
all-pervading animosity of Cecil and Essex.

Belonging, as Essex did by his connections, to the inner circle who
stood closest to Elizabeth, it was natural that she should take an
interest in him, and give him opportunities for turning his showy
qualities to account. In 1586 he was sent to the Low Countries as
general of cavalry under his step-father, Leicester. He distinguished
himself by his fiery valour in the expeditions to Spain, and as
commander of the English army in France, though he does not seem to have
had any real military talent. But Elizabeth’s regard for him was soon
shaken by his presumptuous and unruly behaviour. When he fought a duel
with Sir Charles Blount because she had conferred some favour on the
latter, she swore “by God’s death it were fitting some one should take
him down and teach him better manners, or there were no rule with him.”
He displeased her by his quarrels with Cecil and Effingham, and his
discontented grumbling. She was highly dissatisfied with his management
of the Azores expedition in 1597. In July 1598, at a meeting of the
Council, she was provoked by his insolence to strike him; and though
after three months he obtained his pardon, he never regained her favour.

It was at this time that Burghley died (August 4), in his seventy-eighth
year. Elizabeth, though she could call him “a froward old fool” about a
trifling matter (March 1596), could not but feel that much was changed
when she lost the able and faithful servant who had worked with her for
forty years. “She seemeth to take it very grievously, shedding of tears
and separating herself from all company.” Buckhurst was the new

Essex had for some time cast his eyes on Ireland as a field where glory
and power might be won. There can be little doubt that he was already
speculating on the advantage that the possession of an army might give
him in any difficulty with his rivals or with the Queen herself. Cecil
perfidiously advocated his appointment to a post which had been the
grave of so many reputations. The Queen at length consented, though
reluctantly. Essex was a popular favourite. He had managed--it is not
very clear how--to win the confidence of both Puritans and Papists. The
general belief was that, for the first time since she had mounted the
throne, Elizabeth was afraid of one of her subjects.

During the whole of the reign Ireland had been a cause of trouble and
anxiety. Elizabeth’s treatment of that unhappy country was not more
creditable or successful than that of other English statesmen before and
after her. There was the same absence of any systematic policy steadily
carried out, the same wearisome and disreputable alternation between
bursts of savage repression and intervals of pusillanimity, concession,
and neglect. In the competition of the various departments of the public
service for attention and expenditure, Ireland generally came last. All
other needs had to be served first whether at home or abroad.

In the early years of the reign the chief trouble lay in Ulster, then
the most purely Celtic part of Ireland, and practically untouched by
English conquest. Twice, in her weariness of the struggle with Shan
O’Neill, Elizabeth conceded to him something like a sub-kingship of
Ulster in return for his nominal submission. In the end he was beaten,
and his head was fixed on the walls of Dublin Castle (1566). But nothing
further was done to anglicise Ulster. During the attempt of the
Devonshire adventurers to colonise South Munster (1569-71), and the
consequent rebellion, the northern province remained an unconcerned
spectator. Nor did it join in the great Desmond rising (1579-83), which,
with the insurrection of the Catholic lords of the Pale and the landing
of the Pope’s Italians at Smerwick, was the Irish branch of the
threefold attack on Elizabeth directed by Gregory XIII. The attempt of
the elder Essex to colonise Antrim (1573-75) was a disastrous failure,
and Ulster still remained practically independent of the Dublin

The most successful Deputy of the reign was Perrot (1584-87), a valiant
soldier and strict ruler, who, after long experience in the Irish wars,
had come to the conclusion that what Ireland most wanted was justice.
The native chiefs, released from the constant dread of spoliation, and
finding that English encroachment was repressed as inflexibly as Irish
disorder, became quiet and friendly. But this system did not suit the
dominant race. The Deputy was accused to the Queen of seeking to betray
the country to the Irish and the Spaniard. Recalled, and put upon his
trial for treason, he was found guilty on suborned evidence, and
sentenced to death. It is usually said that his real offence was some
disrespectful language about the Queen, which he confessed. But it seems
that she forbore to take his life precisely because she would not have
it thought that she was influenced by personal resentment.

His successor, Fitzwilliam, was a Deputy of the old sort--greedy,
violent, careless of consequences, and always acting on the principle
that, as against an Englishman, a Celt had no rights. The execution of
MacMahon in Monaghan, and the confiscation of his lands on a trivial
pretext, alarmed the North. Ulster had not been bled white like the rest
of Ireland. The O’Neills had a nephew of their old hero Shan for their
chief, who had been brought up at the English Court and made Earl of
Tyrone by Elizabeth. An educated and remarkably able man, he had none of
his uncle’s illusions. He clung to his ancestral rights and dignity, but
he hoped to preserve them by zealously discharging his obligations as a
vassal of the Queen. He served in the war against Desmond, and exerted
himself to maintain order in Ulster. But he had no mind to sink into the
position of a mere dignified land-owner like the English nobles; nor
indeed, under such a Deputy as Fitzwilliam, was he likely to preserve
even his lands if he lost his power. Rather than that, he determined to
enter into what he knew was a most unequal struggle, on the off-chance
of pulling through by help from Spain. It is clear that he was driven
into rebellion against his inclination. But when he had once drawn the
sword he maintained the struggle against one Deputy after another with
wonderful tenacity and resource. For the first time in Irish history,
the rebel forces were disciplined and armed like those of the crown, and
stood up to them in equal numbers on equal terms. At length, in August
1598, Tyrone inflicted upon Sir Henry Bagnall near Armagh the severest
defeat that the English had ever suffered in Ireland; slaying 1500 of
his men, and capturing all his artillery and baggage. Insurrections at
once broke out all over Ireland.

This was the situation with which Essex undertook to deal. He had loudly
blamed other Deputies for not vigorously attacking Tyrone in his own
country. Vigour was the one military quality which he himself possessed.
He went with the title of Lieutenant and Governor-General, and with
extraordinary powers, at the head of 21,000 men--such an army as had
never been sent to Ireland (April 1599). The Queen, who trembled at the
expense, and did not wish to see any of her nobles, least of all Essex,
permanently established in a great military command, enjoined him to
push at once into Ulster, as he had himself proposed, and finish the
war. Instead of doing this, he went south into districts that had been
depopulated and desolated by the savage warfare of the last thirty
years. Even here he met with discreditable reverses. When he got back to
Dublin (July) his army was reduced by disease and desertion to less than
5000 men. Disregarding the Queen’s express prohibition, he made his
friend Southampton General of horse. When she censured his bad
management, he replied with impertinent complaints about the favour she
was showing to Cecil, Raleigh, and Cobham, and began to consult with his
friends about carrying selected troops over to England to remove them.
Rumours of his intention to return reached the Queen. “We do charge
you,” she wrote, “as you tender our pleasure, that you adventure not to
come out of that kingdom.” He declared that he could not invade Ulster
without reinforcements. They were sent, and at length he marched into
Louth (September). There he was met by Tyrone, who, in an interview,
completely twisted him round his finger, and obtained a cessation of
arms and the promise of concessions amounting to what would now be
called Home Rule. A few days later, on receipt of an angry letter from
the Queen forbidding him to grant any terms without her permission, he
deserted his post and hurried to England. The first notice Elizabeth
received of this astounding piece of insubordination was his still more
astounding incursion into her bedroom, all muddy from his ride, before
she was completely dressed (September 28, 1599).

Elizabeth seems to have been so much taken aback by the Earl’s
unparalleled presumption, that she did not blaze out as might have been
expected. She gave him audience an hour or two later, and heard what he
had to say. Probably he adopted an injured tone as usual, and inveighed
against “that knave Raleigh” and “that sycophant Cobham.” But his
insubordination had been gross, and no talking could make it anything
else. It was more dangerous than Leicester’s disobedience in 1586,
because it came from a vastly more dangerous person. The same afternoon
the Queen referred the matter to the Council. Essex was put under
arrest, and never saw her again. The more she reflected, the more
indignant and alarmed she became. “By God’s son,” she said to Harington,
“I am no Queen; this man is above me.” After a delay of nine months,
occasioned by his illness, the fallen favourite was brought before a
special Commission on the charge of contempt and disobedience, and
sentenced to be suspended from his offices and confined to his house
during the Queen’s pleasure (June 1600). In a few weeks he was released
from arrest, but he could not obtain permission to appear at court,
though he implored it in most abject letters.

There are persons who consider themselves to be intolerably wronged and
persecuted if they cannot have precedence and power over their
fellow-citizens. Essex was such a person. Instead of being thankful that
he had escaped the punishment which under most sovereigns he would have
suffered, he entered into criminal plots for coercing, if not
overthrowing, the Queen. He urged the Scotch King to enforce the
recognition of his title by arms. He tried to persuade Mountjoy, his
successor in Ireland, to carry his army to Scotland to co-operate with
James. These intrigues were not known to the Government. But it did not
escape observation that he was collecting men of the sword in the
neighbourhood of his house; that he was holding consultations with
suspected nobles and gentlemen (some of whom were afterwards engaged in
the Gunpowder Plot); that the Puritan clergy were preaching and praying
for his cause; and that there was a certain ferment in the city. Essex
was therefore summoned to attend before the Council. Instead of obeying,
he flew to arms, with Lords Southampton, Rutland, Sandys, Cromwell, and
Monteagle, and about 300 gentlemen. But the citizens of London did not
respond to his appeal, and the insurrection was easily suppressed, less
than a dozen persons being slain on both sides (February 8, 1601). A
more senseless and profligate attempt to overthrow a good government it
would be difficult to find in history. It was not dignified by any
semblance of principle, and it would sufficiently stamp the character of
its author, even if it stood alone as an evidence of his vanity,
egotism, and want of common sense.

The trial and execution of the principal malefactor followed as a matter
of course and without delay (February 25). It would have been scandalous
to spare him. Elizabeth had once been fond of him, and had no reason to
be ashamed of it. To talk of her “passion” and her “amorous
inclination,” as Hume and others have done, is revolting and malignant
nonsense. It is creditable to old age when it can take pleasure in the
unfolding of bright and promising youth. But royal favour was not good
for such a man as Essex. It developed the worst features in his showy
but faulty character. As he steadily deteriorated, her regard cooled;
but so much of it remained that she tried to amend him by chastisement,
“_ad correctionem_” as she said, “_non ad ruinam_.” She had long before
warned him that, though she had put up with much disrespect to her
person, he must not touch her sceptre, or he would be dealt with
according to the law of England. She was as good as her word, and,
though the memory of it was painful to her, there is not the smallest
evidence that she ever repented of having allowed the law to take its
course.[16] Only three of the accomplices of Essex were punished
capitally. The five peers, none of them powerful or formidable,
experienced Elizabeth’s accustomed clemency.

It has been suggested by an admirer of Essex that he failed in Ireland
because his “sensitively attuned nature” shrank from the systematic
desolation and starvation afterwards employed by his successor. No
evidence is offered for this suggestion. In a letter to the Queen (June
25, 1599) he advocates “burning and spoiling the country _in all
places_,” which method “shall starve the rebels in one year.” This
course Mountjoy carried out. With means far inferior to those of Essex,
and notwithstanding the landing of 3000 Spaniards at Kinsale (September
1601), he was the first Englishman who completely subdued Ireland.
Tyrone surrendered a few days before the Queen’s death.

Little has been said in these pages about parliamentary proceedings. The
real history of the reign does not lie there. The country was governed
wholly by the Queen, with the advice of her Council, and not at all by
Parliament. In the forty-five years of her reign there were only
thirteen sessions of Parliament. The functions of Parliament were to
vote grants of money when the ordinary revenues of the crown were
insufficient, and to make laws. Its right in these matters was
unquestioned. If the Queen had never wanted subsidies or penal laws
against her political and religious opponents (of other laws she often
said there were more than enough already), it would never have been
summoned at all; nor is there any reason to suppose that the country
would have complained as long as it was governed with prudence and
success. In fact, to do without Parliaments was distinctly popular,
because it meant doing without subsidies.

In the thirty years preceding the Armada--the sessions of Parliament
being nine--Elizabeth applied for only eight subsidies, and of one of
them a portion was remitted. By her economy she not only defrayed the
expenses of government out of the ordinary revenue, which, at the end of
the reign was about £300,000 a year, but paid off old debts. It was not
till the twenty-fourth year of her reign that she discharged the last of
her father’s debts, up to which time she had been paying interest on it.
Subsequently she even accumulated a small reserve, which, as she told
Parliament, was a most necessary thing if she was not to be driven to
borrow on sudden emergency. But this reserve vanished immediately she
became involved in the great war with Spain; and during the last fifteen
years of her life, although she received twelve subsidies, she was
always in difficulty for money. She had to sell crown lands to the value
of £372,000. Parliament, which had voted the usual single subsidies
without complaint, grumbled and pretended poverty when she asked for
three and even four.[17] Bacon’s famous outburst (1593) about gentlemen
having to sell their plate and farmers their brass pots to pay the tax,
was a piece of claptrap. The nation was, relatively to former times,
rolling in wealth. But the old belief had still considerable
strength--that government being the affair of the King, not of his
subjects, he should provide for its expenses out of his hereditary
income, just as they paid their private expenses out of their private
incomes; that he had no more claim to dip into their pockets than they
had to dip into his; and that a subsidy, as its name imports, was an
occasional and extraordinary assistance furnished as a matter not of
duty but of good-will.

This might have been healthy doctrine when kings were campaigning on the
Continent for personal or dynastic objects. It was out of place when a
large expenditure was indispensable for the interests and safety of the
country. The grumbling, therefore, about taxation towards the end of the
reign was unreasonable and discreditable to the grumblers. The Queen met
them with her usual good sense. She explained to them--though, as she
correctly said, she was under no constitutional obligation to do so--how
the money went, what she had spent on the Spanish war, on Ireland, and
in loans to the Dutch and the French King. The plea was unanswerable.
Her private expenditure was on a very modest scale. In particular she
had never indulged in that besetting and costly sin of princes,
palace-building; and this at a time when the noble mansions which still
testify to the wealth of the England of that day were rising in every
county. Her only extravagance was dress. Some have carped at her
collection of jewelry. But jewels, like the silver balustrades of
Frederick William I., were a mode of hoarding, and in her later years
she reconverted jewels into money to meet the expenses of the State.
Modern writers, who so airily blame her for not subsidising more
liberally her Scotch, Dutch, and French allies, would find it difficult,
if they condescended to particulars, to explain how she was able to give
them as much money as she did.

It is common to make much of the debate on monopolies in the last
Parliament of Elizabeth (1601), as showing the rise of a spirit of
resistance to the royal prerogative. I do not think that the report of
that debate would convey such an impression to any one reading it
without preconceived views. None of the speakers contested the
prerogative. They only complained that it was being exercised in a way
prejudicial to the public interest. If the monopolies had been
unimportant, or if the patentees had used their privilege less greedily,
there would evidently have been no complaint as to the principle
involved. No course of action was decided on, because the Queen
intervened by a message in which she stated that she had not been aware
of the abuses prevailing, that she was as indignant at them as
Parliament could be, and that she would put a stop, not to monopolies,
but to such as were injurious. With this message the House of Commons
was more than satisfied. As a matter of fact monopolies went on till
dealt with by the declaratory statute in the twenty-first year of James

If the last Tudor handed down the English Constitution to the first
Stuart as she had received it from her predecessors, unchanged either in
theory or practice, it was far otherwise with the English Church. There
are two conflicting views as to the historical position of the Church in
this country. According to one it was, all through the Middle Age,
National as well as Catholic. The changes which took place at the
Reformation made no difference in that respect, and involved no break in
its continuity. It is not a Protestant Church. It is still National and
still Catholic, resting on precisely the same foundations, and existing
by the same title as it did in the days of Dunstan and Becket. According
to the other view, the epithets National and Catholic are contradictory.
A Church which undergoes radical changes of government, worship, and
doctrine is no longer the same Church but a new one, and must be held to
have been established by the authority which prescribed these changes,
which, in this case, was the Queen and Parliament. The word “Protestant”
was avoided in its formularies to make conformity easier for Catholics;
but it is a Protestant Church all the same. Whichever of these views is
nearer to the truth, it cannot be denied that, by the legislation of
Elizabeth the English Church became--what it was not in the Middle
Age--a spiritual organisation entirely dependent on the State. This it
remains still; the supremacy having been virtually transferred from the
crown to Parliament in the next century. I shall not venture to inquire
how far this condition of dependence has affected its ability and
inclination to perform the part of a true spiritual power. It is enough
to say that no act of will on the part of any English statesman has had
such important and lasting consequences, for good or for evil, as the
decision of Elizabeth to make the Church of England what it is.

We have seen that the government and worship of the Church were
established by Act of Parliament in 1559, and its doctrines in 1571. But
when once Elizabeth had placed her ecclesiastical powers beyond dispute,
by obtaining statutory sanction for them, she allowed no further
interference by Parliament. All its attempts, even at mere discussion of
ecclesiastical matters, she peremptorily suppressed. She supplied any
further legislation that was needed by virtue of her supremacy, and she
exercised her ecclesiastical government by the Court of High Commission.
The new Anglican model was acquiesced in by the majority of the nation.
But it had, at first, no hearty support except from the Government. The
earnest religionists were either Catholics or Puritans. The object of
Elizabeth was to compel these two extreme parties to outward conformity
of worship. What their real beliefs were she did not care.

The large majority of the Catholics showed a loyal and patriotic spirit
at the time of the Armada. But they were not treated with confidence by
the Government. Great numbers of them were imprisoned or confined in the
houses of Protestant gentlemen, by way of precaution, when the Armada
was approaching. No Catholic, I believe, was intrusted with any command
either by land or sea; and after the danger was over, the persecution,
in all its forms, became sharper than ever. There was the less reason
for this, inasmuch as it was no secret that the secular priests and the
great majority of the English Catholics had become bitterly hostile to
the small Jesuitical faction whose treasonable conspiracies had brought
so much trouble on their loyal co-religionists.

The term “Puritan” is used loosely, though conveniently, to designate
several shades of belief. By far the larger number of those to whom it
is applied were, and meant to remain, members of the Established Church.
They objected to certain ceremonies and vestments. They hoped to procure
the abolition of these, and, in the meantime, evaded them when they
could. They were what would now be called the Evangelical or Low Church
party. They held Calvin’s distinctive doctrines on predestination, as
indeed did most of the bishops; but though preferring his Presbyterian
organisation, or something like it, they did not treat it as essential.
They were broadly distinguished from the Brownists or Independents, then
an insignificant minority, who held each congregation to be a church,
and therefore protested against the establishment of any national

Though Elizabeth persecuted the Catholics with a severity steadily
increasing in proportion as they became less numerous and formidable,
she remained to the last anxious to make conformity easy for them. This
was her reason for so obstinately refusing the concessions in the matter
of ritual and vestments--trifling as they appear to the modern
mind--which would have satisfied almost the whole of the Puritan party.
This policy (for policy it assuredly was rather than conviction), which
drove the most earnest Protestants into an attitude of opposition
destined in the next two reigns to have such serious consequences, has
been severely censured. But there can be no question that it did answer
the purpose she had in view, which for the moment was most important. It
did induce great numbers of Catholics to conform. She avoided a civil
war in her own time between Catholics and Anglicans at the price of a
civil war later on between Anglicans and Puritans. Looking at the great
drama as a whole, perhaps the Puritans of the Great Rebellion might
congratulate themselves on the part that Elizabeth chose to play in its
earlier acts. It cannot be doubted that a civil war in the sixteenth
century between Catholics and Protestants would have been waged with far
more ferocity than was displayed by either Cavaliers or Roundheads, and
would have been attended with the horrors of foreign invasion. To
conciliate the earnest religionists on both sides was impossible.
Elizabeth chose the _via media_, and the successful equilibrium which
she maintained during nearly half a century proves that she hit upon
what in her own day was the true centre of gravity.

But while doing justice to Elizabeth’s insight and prudence, we may not
excuse her extreme severity to the nonconformists of either party. It
was not necessary. It seems to have been even impolitic. It arose from
her arbitrary temper--from a quality, that is to say, valuable in a
ruler, but apt, in great rulers, to be somewhat in excess. I have
condemned her persecution of the Catholics. Her persecution of the
Protestant nonconformists was marked by even greater injustice. Against
the Catholics it might at least be urged that their opinions logically
led to disloyalty. But the Independents, Barrow, Greenwood, and Penry,
were indisputably loyal men. They were put to death nominally for
spreading writings which, contrary to common sense, were held to be
seditious, but really for their religious opinions, which, in the case
of the first two, were extracted from them by the interrogatories of
Archbishop Whitgift, an Inquisitor as strenuous and merciless as
Torquemada. Some of the Council, especially Burghley and Knollys, were
strongly opposed to Whitgift’s proceedings. It must therefore be assumed
that he had the Queen’s personal approval. She had committed herself to
a struggle with intrepid and obstinate men. The crowded gaols were a
visible demonstration that she could not compel them to submit; and to
hang them all was out of the question. An Act was therefore passed in
1593, by which those who would not promise to attend church were to be
banished the country. Thus most of the Independents were at last got rid
of. The non-separatist Puritans, who aimed at less radical changes, and
hoped to effect them, if not under their present sovereign, yet under
her successor, kept on the windy side of the law, attending church once
a month, and not entering till the service was nearly over. Thus, at the
end of her reign, Elizabeth perhaps flattered herself that she was
within measurable distance of religious uniformity.



The death of Mary Stuart did something to simplify parties in Scotland;
and, if her son had possessed the qualities of a ruler, he would have
had a better chance of reducing his kingdom to order than any of his
predecessors, because a middle class was at length rising into
importance. As far as knowledge and discernment went, he was an able
politician, and on several occasions he showed not only skill in his
combinations, but--what he is not generally credited with by those who
study only his career in England--considerable energy and courage. But
he was wanting in perseverance, and a slave to idle pleasures. He had
always some favourite upon whom he lavished any money that came into his
hands. What was needed in his own interest and that of his country was
that he should exercise rigid economy, develop all the forces that made
for order, ally himself with the burghs and lower barons, cultivate good
relations with the Kirk, industriously attend to all the details of
government, and seize every opportunity to humble the great nobles of
whatever party or creed. Instead of this, he tried to maintain himself
by balancing rival parties, and employing one nobleman to execute his
vengeance on another. Instead of honestly and zealously seconding the
policy of Elizabeth, and so deserving her confidence and support, which
would have been of the utmost value to him, he tried to levy blackmail
on her by coquetting with Spain and the Catholics.

Elizabeth is accused of deliberately encouraging Scottish factions in
order to keep the northern kingdom weak. She certainly supported
Stewart, Earl of Bothwell, a turbulent and unprincipled man, while he
was the antagonist of the Catholic nobles who were inviting the
Spaniard. But it is plain that she desired nothing so much as to see
James crush all aristocratic disorder, and make himself master of his
kingdom. Her exhortations to him on this subject are full of wisdom, and
expressed in most stirring language. But they only produced petitions
for money. Notwithstanding her own difficulties, she long allowed him
£3000 a year, which, in 1600, was increased to £6000. But ten times that
amount would have done him no good, because he would immediately have
squandered it.

As Elizabeth grew old, James naturally became absorbed in the prospect
of his succession to the English crown. All Scotchmen shared his
eagerness. In England, feeling was almost unanimous in his favour,
though some of the Catholics continued to talk of the Infanta or
Arabella Stuart the niece of Darnley. By teasing Elizabeth to recognise
his title, intriguing with her courtiers, and calling on his own
subjects to furnish him with the means of asserting his rights, James
irritated the English Queen. But she had always intended that he should
succeed her, and she did nothing to prejudice his claim.

The two leading men at the English court--Cecil and Raleigh--who had
been united in their hostility to Essex, were now secretly competing for
the favour of James. Each warned the Scottish King against the other,
and represented himself as the only trustworthy adviser. Cecil, from his
confidential relations with the Queen, had the most difficult game to
play, and it was not till her health was evidently failing that he
ventured to open private communications with James. Even then he did not
dare to correspond with him directly, but it was understood that
everything written by Lord Henry Howard (brother of the last Duke of
Norfolk) was to be taken as written by Cecil. To make up for his
previous backwardness, he lent James £10,000--a pledge of fidelity which
it was out of his rival’s power to emulate.

The long career of Elizabeth was now drawing to its close. Her sun might
seem to be going down in calm splendour. She had triumphed over all her
enemies. She might say with Virgil’s heroine--

    “Vixi, et quem dederat cursum fortuna, peregi;
     Et nunc magna mei sub terras ibit imago.”

The mighty Philip had gone to his grave five years before her (1598), a
beaten man, having failed in Holland, failed in France, failed against
England. Of the three great champions who withstood him, Elizabeth, if
not the most distinguished by high qualities, had yet, perhaps, the
largest share in saving Europe from the retrograde tyranny which menaced
it. The glorious resistance of William of Orange covered only sixteen
years (1568-84). That of Henry IV. can hardly be said to have had any
European importance before his accession to the French throne, from
which date to the peace of Vervins and the death of Philip is a period
of nine years (1589-98). But the whole of Elizabeth’s long reign was
spent in abating the power of Spain. It was the persistent,
never-relaxing pressure from an unassailable enemy which wore out
Philip, as it afterwards wore out Bonaparte. Elizabeth had found England
weak and distracted: she was leaving it united and powerful. Nor was she
of those to whom their due meed of praise is denied during life, and
accorded only by the tardy justice of posterity. Her wisdom and courage
were the admiration not of her own people alone, but of all Europe. “Her
very enemies,” says a French historian, “proclaimed her the most
glorious and fortunate of all women who ever wore a crown.” From the
point of view of public life, little or nothing was wanting--so Bacon
thought--to fill up the full measure of her felicity.

Yet it seems that the last months of her life were clouded by
melancholy, and deformed by a querulous ill-temper. Some have suggested
that she suffered from remorse for her severity to Essex; others that
she felt herself out of sympathy with the Puritan tendencies of the
time. It is not necessary to resort to these unfounded or far-fetched
suppositions to account for her gloom. If we turn from her public to
her private life, what situation could be more profoundly pitiable?
Honour and obedience, indeed, still surrounded her. But that which also
should accompany old age, love and troops of friends, she might not look
to have. Near relations she had none. Alone she had chosen to live, and
alone she must die. As her time approached, she was haunted by the
consciousness that, among all those who treated her with so much
reverence, there was not one who had any reason to be attached to her or
to care that her life should be prolonged. Those who have not loved when
they were young must not expect to find love when they are old. While
health and strength remained, she had tasted the satisfaction of living
her own life and playing the great game of politics, for which she was
exceptionally gifted. But to a woman who has passed through life without
knowing what it is to love or be loved, who has no memory of even an
unrequited affection to feed on, who has never shared a husband’s joys
and sorrows, never borne the sweet burden of maternity, never suckled
babe or rocked cradle, who must finish her journey alone, sitting in the
solemn twilight before the last dark hour uncared for and uncaring,
without the cheer of children or the varied interests that gather round
the family--to such a one, what avails it that she has tasted the
excitement of public life, that she has borne a share in politics or
business--what even that her aims have been high or that she has done
the State some service, if she has renounced the crown of womanhood, and
turned from their appointed use those numbered years within which the
female heart can find present joy and lay up store of calm satisfaction
for declining age?

Elizabeth had always enjoyed good health, thanks to her “exact
temperance both as to wine and diet, which, she used to say, was the
noblest part of physic,” and her active habits. In capacity for
resisting bodily fatigue and freedom from nervous ailments, she was like
a man. It was not till the beginning of 1602 that those about her
noticed any signs of failing strength. She still went on hunting and
dancing. In dancing she excelled, and she kept it up for exercise, as
many an old man keeps up his skating or tennis without being exposed to
ill-natured remarks. In December 1602 her godson Harington, an amusing
person, whose company she enjoyed, found her “in most pitiable state,”
both in body and mind. “She held in her hand a golden cup which she
often put to her lips; but in sooth her heart seemeth too full to lack
more filling.” He read her some verses he had written, “whereat she
smiled once,” but said, “When thou dost feel creeping Time at thy gate,
these fooleries will please thee less. I am past my relish for such
matters. Thou seest my bodily meat doth not suit me well. I have eaten
but one ill-tasted cake since yesternight.” Harington hastened to send a
present to the King of Scots, with the inscription, “_Domine memento mei
cum veneris in regnum_.”

In the same month Robert Carey, son of her cousin Lord Hunsdon, visited
her, and professed to think her looking well. “No, Robin,” she said, “I
am not well,” and then “discoursed of her indisposition, and that her
heart had been sad and heavy for ten or twelve days, and in her
discourse she fetched not so few as forty or fifty great sighs....
Hereupon I wrote to the King of Scots.”[18] Her melancholy was not
caused by any weakening of her mind. A long letter to James, dated
January 5, 1603, though hardly legible, is very vigorous and

At the beginning of March 1603 she became much worse. There was some
disease of the throat, attended with swelling and a distressing
formation of phlegm, which made speaking difficult. The only relatives
about her were Robert Carey and his sister Lady Scrope, watching keenly
that they might be the first to inform James of her death. She could not
be brought by any of her Council to take food or go to bed. When in bed
she had been troubled by a visual illusion; “she saw her body
exceedingly lean and fearful in a light of fire.” At last Nottingham,
the Admiral, who was mourning the recent death of his wife, was sent
for. He was a second cousin of Anne Boleyn, and was the one person to
whom the dying Queen seemed to cling with some trust. He induced her to
take some broth. “For any of the rest,” says her maid-of-honour,
Mistress Southwell, “she would not answer them to any question, but said
softly to my Lord Admiral’s earnest persuasions that if he knew what she
had seen in her bed he would not persuade her as he did. And Secretary
Cecil, overhearing her, asked if her Majesty had seen any spirits; to
which she said she scorned to answer him so idle a question. Then he
told her how, to content the people, her Majesty must go to bed. To
which she smiled, wonderfully contemning him, saying that the word
_must_ was not to be used to princes; and thereupon said, ‘Little man,
little man, if your father had lived ye [he?] durst not have said so
much: but thou knowest I must die, and that maketh thee so
presumptuous.’ And presently commanding him and the rest to depart her
chamber, willed my Lord Admiral to stay; to whom she shook her head, and
with a pitiful voice said, ‘My Lord, I am tied with a chain of iron
about my neck.’ He alleging her wonted courage to her, she replied, ‘I
am tied, and the case is altered with me.’” At last, “what by fair
means,” says Carey, “what by force, he got her to bed.”

It was perfectly understood that she meant James to be her successor.
The Admiral now told his colleagues that she had confided her intention
to him just before her illness took a serious turn. Two years before, in
conversation with Rosni, the minister of Henry IV., she had spoken of
the approaching union of the Scotch and English crowns as a matter of
course. But it was not till a few hours before her death that her
councillors ventured to question her on the subject. They gave out that
she indicated James by a sign; and this is also asserted by Carey, who,
however, does not seem to have been present, though probably his sister
was. Mistress Southwell seems to write as an eye-witness, but betrays a
Catholic bias, which may cast some doubt on her testimony. “The Council
sent to her the bishop of Canterbury and other of the prelates, upon
sight of whom she was much offended, cholericly rating them, bidding
them be packing, saying she was no atheist, but knew full well they were
hedge-priests, and took it for an indignity that they should speak to
her. Now being given over by all, and at the last gasp, keeping still
her sense in everything and giving ever when she spoke apt answers,
though she spake very seldom, having then a sore throat, she desired to
wash it, that she might answer more freely to what the Council demanded;
which was to know whom she would have king; but they, seeing her throat
troubled her so much, desired her to hold up her finger when they named
whom liked her. Whereupon they named the king of France, the king of
Scotland, at which she never stirred. They named my lord Beauchamp,[19]
whereto she said, ‘I will have no rascal’s son in my seat, but one
worthy to be a king.’ Hereupon instantly she died.” (March 23,

It is certain, however, that she lived several hours after this
characteristic outburst. Carey says that at six o’clock in the evening
he went into her room with the Archbishop; that, though speechless, she
showed by signs that she followed his prayers, and twice desired him to
remain when he was going away. She died in the early hours of Thursday,
March 24.

There have been many greater statesmen than Elizabeth. She was far from
being an admirable type of womanhood. She does not, in my opinion, stand
first even among female sovereigns, for I should put that able ruler
and perfect woman, Isabella of Castile, above her. I admit, however,
that such comparisons are apt to be unjust. Few rulers have had to
contend with such formidable and complicated difficulties as the English
Queen. Few have surmounted them so triumphantly. This is the criterion,
and the sufficient criterion, which determines the judgment of practical
men. Research, if applied with fairness and common sense, may perhaps
modify, it can never set aside, the popular verdict. There are writers
who have made the discovery that Elizabeth was a very poor ruler,
selfish and wayward, shortsighted, easily duped, fainthearted, rash,
miserly, wasteful, and swayed by the pettiest impulses of vanity, spite,
and personal inclination. They have not explained, and never will, how
it was that a woman with all these disqualifications for government
should have ruled England with signal success for forty-four years.
Statesmen are indebted to good luck occasionally, like other people. But
when this explanation is offered again and again with dull regularity,
we are compelled to say, with one who had at once the best opportunity
and the highest capacity for estimating the greatness of Elizabeth: “It
is not to closet penmen that we are to look for guidance in such a case;
for men of that order being keen in style, poor in judgment, and partial
in feeling, are no faithful witnesses as to the real passages of
business. It is for ministers and great officers to judge of these
things, and those who have handled the helm of government and been
acquainted with the difficulties and mysteries of State business.”[20]

The judgment of those who have handled the helm of government is to be
found in the words of her contemporary, the great Henry--“She was my
other self:” and of a greater still in the next generation--“Queen
Elizabeth of famous memory; we need not be ashamed to call her so!”[21]




  |             |   _Year_   |                 |              |              |
  |_Parliament._|    _of_    |     _Began._    |_Prorogued._  |  _Dissolved._|
  |             |_Elizabeth._|                 |              |              |
  |             |            |                 |              |              |
  |       I.    |    1st     |  25 Jan. 1558/9 |              | 8 May 1559   |
  |             |            |                 |              |              |
  |      II.    |    5th     |  12 Jan. 1562/3 |10 April 1563 |              |
  |             |            |                 |              |              |
  |      II.  } |    8th     |}                |              |              |
  |     2nd   } |    and     |} 30 Sep. 1566   |30 Dec. 1566  | 2 Jan. 1566/7|
  |    Sess.  } |    9th     |}                |              |              |
  |             |            |                 |              |              |
  |     III.    |   13th     |   2 April 1571  |              |29 May 1571   |
  |             |            |                 |              |              |
  |      IV.    |   14th     |   8 April 1572  |30 June 1572  |              |
  |             |            |                 |              |              |
  |      IV.  } |            |                 |              |              |
  |     2nd   } |   18th     |   8 Feb. 1575/6 |15 Mar. 1575/6|              |
  |    S1 s.  } |            |                 |              |              |
  |             |            |                 |              |              |
  |       V.  } |            |                 |              |              |
  |     3rd   } |   23rd     |  16 Jan 1580/1  |18 Mar. 1580/1|19 April 1583 |
  |    Sess.  } |            |                 |              |              |
  |             |            |                 |              |              |
  |           { |   27th     |}                |              |              |
  |       V.  { |   and      |} 23 Nov. 1584{*}|29 Mar. 1585  |14 Sep. 1586  |
  |           { |   28th     |}                |              |              |
  |             |            |                 |              |              |
  |           { |   28th     |}                |              |              |
  |      VI.  { |   and      |} 15 Oct. 1586{*}|29 Oct. 1586  |23 Mar. 1586/7|
  |           { |   29th     |}                |              |              |
  |             |            |                 |              |              |
  |     VII.    |   31st     |   4 Feb. 1588/9 |              |29 Mar. 1589  |
  |             |            |                 |              |              |
  |    VIII.    |   35th     |  19 Feb. 1592/3 |              |10 April 1593 |
  |             |            |                 |              |              |
  |      IX.    |   39th     |  24 Oct. 1597{*}|              | 9 Feb. 1597/8|
  |             |            |                 |              |              |
  |       X.    |   43rd     |  27 Oct. 1601   |              |19 Dec. 1601  |

[* Adjourned over Christmas Vacation.]



                                         2ND DUKE OF NORFOLK.[22]
        |                              |                   |                   |
3RD DUKE OF NORFOLK.[23]             EDMUND.          LADY BOLEYN.[30]   WILLIAM 1ST LORD
        |                              |                   |          HOWARD OF EFFINGHAM.[31]
  ----------------                     |                   |                   |
  |              |                     |                   |                   |
                 |                                         |             LORD EFFINGHAM.[32]
           --------------------                            |
           |                  |                            |
4TH DUKE OF NORFOLK.[26]     HENRY.[33]                QUEEN ELIZABETH.
         |                  |             |
                        OF WALDEN.



                           SIR THOMAS BOLEYN[34] = LADY ELIZABETH HOWARD.[35]
       |               |                                        |
LORD ROCHFORD.[36]   QUEEN ANNE.                               MARY = WILLIAM CAREY.
                       |                                            |
                       |                   -------------- ------------------------
                       |                   |                                     |
                QUEEN ELIZABETH.   1ST LORD HUNSDON.[37]               CATHERINE = SIR FRANCIS
                                           |                                     |  KNOLLYS.
         --------------------------------------------------                      |
         |             |                 |                |                      |
                                   AND COUNTESS                      OF ESSEX.  |
                                  OF NOTTINGHAM.                                |
                                                                    ROBERT, EARL OF ESSEX[40] = FRANCES SIDNEY.[41]

        Printed by T. and A. CONSTABLE, Printers to His Majesty
                   at the Edinburgh University Press

       *       *       *       *       *

                       Twelve English Statesmen.

                        EDITED BY JOHN MORLEY.

                      _Crown 8vo. 2s. 6d. each._


=Times.=--‘Gives with great picturesqueness ... the dramatic incidents of
a memorable career far removed from our times and our manner of

=HENRY II.= By Mrs. J. R. GREEN.

=Times.=--‘It is delightfully real and readable, and in spite of severe
compression has the charm of a mediæval romance.’

=EDWARD I.= By T. F. TOUT, M.A., Professor of History, the Owens College,

=Speaker.=--‘A truer or more life-like picture of the king, the conqueror,
the overlord, the duke, has never yet been drawn.’


=Athenæum.=--‘The best account of Henry VII. that has yet appeared.’


=Saturday Review.=--‘Is exactly what one of a series of short biographies
of English Statesmen ought to be.’


=Manchester Guardian.=--‘It may be recommended as the best and briefest
and most trustworthy of the many books that in this generation have
dealt with the life and deeds of that “bright Occidental Star, Queen
Elizabeth of happy memory."’


=Times.=--‘Gives a wonderfully vivid picture of events.’


=Spectator.=--‘Mr. Traill has done his work well in the limited space at
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criticisms, although sometimes trenchant, are substantially just.’


=St. James’s Gazette.=--‘It deserves to be read, not only as a work of one
of the most prominent politicians of the day, but for its intrinsic
merits. It is a clever, thoughtful, and interesting biography.’


=Times.=--‘Brilliant and fascinating.... The style is terse, masculine,
nervous, articulate, and clear; the grasp of circumstance and character
is firm, penetrating, luminous, and unprejudiced; the judgment is broad,
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estimate of Pitt’s character and policy, it is also a brilliant gallery
of portraits. The portrait of Fox, for example, is a masterpiece.’


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       *       *       *       *       *

                        English Men of Action.

           _With Portraits. Crown 8vo, Cloth. 2s. 6d. each._


     =Saturday Review.=--‘The obligation laid upon him to be brief, and
     his own anxiety to leave untold nothing of first-rate importance,
     have combined to give us an almost ideal short life of Nelson.’

     =WOLFE.= By A. G. BRADLEY.

     =Times.=--‘It appears to us to be very well done. The narrative is
     easy, the facts have been mastered and well marshalled, and Mr.
     Bradley is excellent both in his geographical and in his
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     =Times.=--‘A vigorous sketch of a great soldier, a fine character,
     and a noble career.... Mr. Forbes writes with a practised and
     lively pen, and his experience of warfare in many lands stands him
     in good stead in describing Lord Clyde’s services and campaigns.’


     =Spectator.=--‘This is beyond all question the best of the narratives
     of the career of General Gordon that have yet been published.’


     =Scotsman.=--‘No page lacks interest; and whether the book is
     regarded as a biographical sketch or as a chapter in English
     military history it is equally attractive.’


     =Spectator.=--‘The volume is an excellent instance of miniature


     =Leeds Mercury.=--‘A lucid, temperate, and impressive summary.’


     =Scotsman.=--‘The story of the great Duke’s life is admirably told by
     Mr. Hooper.’


     =Athenæum.=--‘Mr. Clark Russell’s practical knowledge of the sea
     enables him to discuss the seafaring life of two centuries ago with
     intelligence and vigour. As a commentary on Dampier’s voyages this
     little book is among the best.’


     =Saturday Review.=--‘Mr. Corbett indeed gives you the real man.’


     =Athenæum.=--‘A clear and accurate summary of Strafford’s life,
     especially as regards his Irish government.’


     =Daily News.=--‘May be pronounced without hesitation as the final and
     decisive verdict of history on the conduct and career of Hastings.’


     =Saturday Review.=--‘An excellent piece of work.’


     =Scottish Leader.=--‘It is simply the best and most readable account
     of the great navigator yet published.’


     =Speaker.=--‘There is no lack of good writing in this book, and the
     narrative is sympathetic as well as spirited.’

     =CLIVE.= By Colonel Sir CHARLES WILSON.

     =Times.=--‘Sir Charles Wilson, whose literary skill is
     unquestionable, does ample justice to a great and congenial theme.’


     =Daily News.=--‘The “English Men of Action” series contains no volume
     more fascinating, both in matter and in style.’


     =Glasgow Herald.=--‘One of the best and most discerning word-pictures
     of the Wars of the Two Roses to be found in the whole range of
     English literature.’


     =Scottish Leader.=--‘Perhaps the most fascinating of all the fifteen
     that have so far appeared.... Written really with excellent
     judgment, in a breezy and buoyant style.’


     =Spectator.=--‘An admirable contribution to an admirable series.’


     =Times.=--‘A singularly vivid and careful picture of one of the most
     romantic figures in Scottish history.’


     =Daily News.=--‘There are many excellent volumes in the “English Men
     of Action” Series; but none better written or more interesting than



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 [1] Mr. Motley conjectures that the population of Spain and Portugal
 may have been 12,000,000.

 [2] The oath of supremacy imposed on members of the House of Commons
 in 1562 practically excluded conscientious Catholics.

 [3] He had received the Duchy of Anjou in addition to that of Alençon,
 and some historians call him by the former title.

 [4] Hallam, _Constitutional History_, Chapter III.
 Macaulay, _Essay on Hallam’s Constitutional History_.

 [5] James had given this man the title and estates of the exiled

 [6] Some persons whose names do not appear in the Commission sat on
 the trial, while some who were appointed did not sit.

 [7] Those who wish to know the grounds on which Mary’s complicity in
 Babington’s plot has been denied can consult Lingard, Tytler, and
 Labanoff. In my opinion, their arguments are very feeble.

 [8] There was no formal proclamation of war on either side.

 [9] The remaining Privy Councillors were Archbishop Whitgift, Lord
 Chancellor Bromley, the Earls of Shrewsbury and Warwick, Lord
 Buckhurst, Sir James Crofts, Sir Ralph Sadler, Sir Walter Mildmay, Sir
 Amyas Paulet, and the Latin Secretary, Wolley.

 [10] Kingsley, _Westward Ho_.

 [11] _Institutes_, Fourth Part, Chap. 1.

 [12] These figures are taken from Barrow’s Life of Drake.

 [13] We hear of thirty-three-pounders and even sixty-pounders in the
 Queen’s ships. Whereas the Spanish admiral, sending to Parma for
 balls, asks for nothing heavier than ten pounds.

 [14] The Earl of Sussex, after inspecting the preparations for defence
 in Hampshire towards the end of 1587, writes to the Council that he
 had found nothing ready. The “better sort” said, “We are much charged
 many ways, and when the enemy comes we will provide for him; but he
 will not come yet.”

 [15] Sir Edward Radcliffe to the Earl of Sussex.--_Ellis_, 2nd Series,
 vol. iii. p. 142.

 [16] The story of the ring, said to have been intercepted by Lady
 Nottingham, has been shown to be unworthy of belief. See Ranke,
 _History of England_, vol. i. p. 352; transl.

 [17] The increase was not so great as it appears. A subsidy with two
 tenths and fifteenths in the thirteenth year of the reign yielded
 £175,000; in the forty-third only £134,000.

 [18] Elizabeth made large use of the courage and fidelity of her
 kinsmen on the Boleyn side, but she did little to advance them either
 in rank or wealth. Hunsdon had set his heart on regaining the Boleyn
 Earldom of Wiltshire. When he was dying, Elizabeth brought the patent
 and robes of an earl, and laid them on his bed; but the choleric old
 man replied, “Madam, seeing you counted me not worthy of this honour
 while I was living, I count myself unworthy of it now I am dying.”

 [19] Son of Catherine Grey by the Earl of Hertford. “Rascal” at that
 time meant a person of low birth.

 [20] Bacon, _In felicem memoriam Elizabethæ_.

 [21] Carlyle, _Letters and Speeches of Oliver Cromwell_, Speech v.

 [22] As Earl of Surrey commanded at Flodden.

 [23] Minister of Henry VIII.

 [24] The Poet. Beheaded by Henry VIII.

 [25] Married Duke of Richmond, natural son of Henry VIII.

 [26] Beheaded by Elizabeth. Title forfeited.

 [27] Earl of Arundel in right of his mother 1st wife of father. Died
 in Tower.

 [28] Lord Walden in right of his mother 2nd wife of father.

 [29] “Belted Will,” married co-heiress of Lord Dacre of Naworth.

 [30] Elizabeth Howard married Sir Thomas Boleyn created Earl of
 Wiltshire and Ormonde by Henry VIII.

 [31] Lord Admiral. Created Lord Effingham by Mary.

 [32] Lord Admiral. Commanded against Armada. Created Earl of
 Nottingham by Elizabeth.

 [33] Created Earl of Northampton by James I.

 [34] Created Earl of Wiltshire and Ormonde by Henry

 [35] Daughter of 2nd Duke of Norfolk.

 [36] Beheaded by Henry VIII.

 [37] Elizabeth’s Minister and General.

 [38] Carried news of Elizabeth’s death to James; created by him Earl
 of Monmouth.

 [39] Said to have withheld Essex’s ring from Elizabeth.

 [40] Beheaded by Elizabeth.

 [41] Daughter of Sir Francis Walsingham and widow of Sir Philip Sidney.

Typographical errors corrected by the etext transcriber:

that to establish a permanent raw=> that to establish a permanent war
{pg 36}

Mary believed that in every country=> Mary believed that in every county
{pg 53}

They were in fact created a Provisional Government=> They were in fact
creating a Provisional Government {pg 176}

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Queen Elizabeth" ***

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